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Isaiah 1:17

Context

1:17 Learn to do what is right!

Promote justice!

Give the oppressed reason to celebrate! 1 

Take up the cause of the orphan!

Defend the rights of the widow! 2 

Isaiah 16:5

Context

16:5 Then a trustworthy king will be established;

he will rule in a reliable manner,

this one from David’s family. 3 

He will be sure to make just decisions

and will be experienced in executing justice. 4 

1 tn The precise meaning of this line is uncertain. The translation assumes an emendation of חָמוֹץ (khamots, “oppressor [?]”) to חָמוּץ (khamuts, “oppressed”), a passive participle from II חָמַץ (khamats, “oppress”; HALOT 329 s.v. II חמץ) and takes the verb II אָשַׁר (’ashar) in the sense of “make happy” (the delocutive Piel, meaning “call/pronounce happy,” is metonymic here, referring to actually effecting happiness). The parallelism favors this interpretation, for the next two lines speak of positive actions on behalf of the destitute. The other option is to retain the MT pointing and translate, “set right the oppressor,” but the nuance “set right” is not clearly attested elsewhere for the verb I אשׁר. This verb does appear as a participle in Isa 3:12 and 9:16 with the meaning “to lead or guide.” If it can mean to “lead” or “rebuke/redirect” in this verse, the prophet could be contrasting this appeal for societal reformation (v. 17c) with a command to reorder their personal lives (v. 17a-b). J. A. Motyer (The Prophecy of Isaiah, 47) suggests that these three statements (v. 17a-c) provide “the contrast between the two ends of imperfect society, the oppressor and the needy, the one inflicting and the other suffering the hurt. Isaiah looks for a transformed society wherever it needs transforming.”

2 tn This word refers to a woman who has lost her husband, by death or divorce. The orphan and widow are often mentioned in the OT as epitomizing the helpless and impoverished who have been left without the necessities of life due to the loss of a family provider.

3 tn Heb “and a throne will be established in faithfulness, and he will sit on it in reliability, in the tent of David.”

4 tn Heb “one who judges and seeks justice, and one experienced in fairness.” Many understand מְהִר (mÿhir) to mean “quick, prompt” (see BDB 555 s.v. מָהִיר), but HALOT 552 s.v. מָהִיר offers the meaning “skillful, experienced,” and translates the phrase in v. 5 “zealous for what is right.”



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