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Isaiah 1:24-31

Context

1:24 Therefore, the sovereign Lord who commands armies, 1 

the powerful ruler of Israel, 2  says this:

“Ah, I will seek vengeance 3  against my adversaries,

I will take revenge against my enemies. 4 

1:25 I will attack you; 5 

I will purify your metal with flux. 6 

I will remove all your slag. 7 

1:26 I will reestablish honest judges as in former times,

wise advisers as in earlier days. 8 

Then you will be called, ‘The Just City,

Faithful Town.’”

1:27 9 Zion will be freed by justice, 10 

and her returnees by righteousness. 11 

1:28 All rebellious sinners will be shattered, 12 

those who abandon the Lord will perish.

1:29 Indeed, they 13  will be ashamed of the sacred trees

you 14  find so desirable;

you will be embarrassed because of the sacred orchards 15 

where you choose to worship.

1:30 For you will be like a tree whose leaves wither,

like an orchard 16  that is unwatered.

1:31 The powerful will be like 17  a thread of yarn,

their deeds like a spark;

both will burn together,

and no one will put out the fire.

Isaiah 2:2-4

Context

2:2 In the future 18 

the mountain of the Lord’s temple will endure 19 

as the most important of mountains,

and will be the most prominent of hills. 20 

All the nations will stream to it,

2:3 many peoples will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the Lord’s mountain,

to the temple of the God of Jacob,

so 21  he can teach us his requirements, 22 

and 23  we can follow his standards.” 24 

For Zion will be the center for moral instruction; 25 

the Lord will issue edicts from Jerusalem. 26 

2:4 He will judge disputes between nations;

he will settle cases for many peoples.

They will beat their swords into plowshares, 27 

and their spears into pruning hooks. 28 

Nations will not take up the sword against other nations,

and they will no longer train for war.

Isaiah 4:2-6

Context
The Branch of the Lord

4:2 At that time 29 

the crops given by the Lord will bring admiration and honor; 30 

the produce of the land will be a source of pride and delight

to those who remain in Israel. 31 

4:3 Those remaining in Zion, 32  those left in Jerusalem, 33 

will be called “holy,” 34 

all in Jerusalem who are destined to live. 35 

4:4 At that time 36  the sovereign master 37  will wash the excrement 38  from Zion’s women,

he will rinse the bloodstains from Jerusalem’s midst, 39 

as he comes to judge

and to bring devastation. 40 

4:5 Then the Lord will create

over all of Mount Zion 41 

and over its convocations

a cloud and smoke by day

and a bright flame of fire by night; 42 

indeed a canopy will accompany the Lord’s glorious presence. 43 

4:6 By day it will be a shelter to provide shade from the heat,

as well as safety and protection from the heavy downpour. 44 

Isaiah 26:16

Context

26:16 O Lord, in distress they looked for you;

they uttered incantations because of your discipline. 45 

1 tn Heb “the master, the Lord who commands armies [traditionally, the Lord of hosts].” On the title “the Lord who commands armies,” see the note at v. 9.

2 tn Heb “the powerful [one] of Israel.”

3 tn Heb “console myself” (i.e., by getting revenge); NRSV “pour out my wrath on.”

4 sn The Lord here identifies with the oppressed and comes as their defender and vindicator.

5 tn Heb “turn my hand against you.” The second person pronouns in vv. 25-26 are feminine singular. Personified Jerusalem is addressed. The idiom “turn the hand against” has the nuance of “strike with the hand, attack,” in Ps 81:15 HT (81:14 ET); Ezek 38:12; Am 1:8; Zech 13:7. In Jer 6:9 it is used of gleaning grapes.

6 tn Heb “I will purify your dross as [with] flux.” “Flux” refers here to minerals added to the metals in a furnace to prevent oxides from forming. For this interpretation of II בֹּר (bor), see HALOT 153 s.v. II בֹּר and 750 s.v. סִיג.

7 sn The metaphor comes from metallurgy; slag is the substance left over after the metallic ore has been refined.

8 tn Heb “I will restore your judges as in the beginning; and your counselors as in the beginning.” In this context, where social injustice and legal corruption are denounced (see v. 23), the “judges” are probably government officials responsible for making legal decisions, while the “advisers” are probably officials who helped the king establish policies. Both offices are also mentioned in 3:2.

9 sn The third person reference to the Lord in v. 28 indicates that the prophet is again (see vv. 21-24a) speaking. Since v. 27 is connected to v. 28 by a conjunction, it is likely that the prophet’s words begin with v. 27.

10 tn Heb “Zion will be ransomed with justice.” Both cola in this verse end with similar terms: justice and righteousness (and both are preceded by a בְּ [bet] preposition). At issue is whether these virtues describe the means or result of the deliverance and whether they delineate God’s justice/righteousness or that of the covenant people. If the righteousness of Israelite returnees is in view, the point seems to be that the reestablishment of Zion as a center of justice (God’s people living in conformity with God’s demand for equity and justice) will deliver the city from its past humiliation and restore it to a place of prominence (see 2:2-4; cf. E. Kissane, Isaiah, 1:19). Most scholars conclude that “righteousness and “justice” refers to God alone (J. Ridderbos, Isaiah [BSC], 50; J. Watts, Isaiah [WBC], 1:25; E. J. Young, Isaiah [NICOT], 1:89; cf. NLT, TEV) or serves as a double reference to both divine and human justice and righteousness (J. A. Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah, 51; J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah [NICOT], 1:10; H. Wildberger, Isaiah, 1:72). If it refers to both sides of the coin, these terms highlight the objective divine work of redemption and the subjective human response of penitence (Motyer, 51).

11 tc The Hebrew text has, “her repentant ones/returnees with righteousness.” The form שָׁבֶיהָ (shaveha, “her repentant ones”), as pointed in MT, is a masculine plural Qal participle from שׁוּב (shuv, “return”). Used substantivally, it refers to the “returning (i.e., repentant) ones.” It is possible that the parallel line (with its allusion to being freed by a ransom payment) suggests that the form be repointed to שִׁבְיָהּ (shivyah, “her captivity”), a reading that has support from the LXX. Some slightly emend the form to read וְשָׁבָה (vÿshavah, “and will return”). According to this view, the verb from the first line applies to the second line as well with the following translation as a result: “she will be released when fairness is restored.” Regardless, it makes best sense in the context to regard this as a reference to repentant Israelites returning to the land of promise. This understanding provides a better contrast with the rebels and sinners in 1:28.

12 tn Heb “and [there will be] a shattering of rebels and sinners together.”

13 tc The Hebrew text (and the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa) has the third person here, though a few Hebrew mss (and Targums) read the second person, which is certainly more consistent with the following context. The third person form is the more difficult reading and probably original. This disagreement in person has caused some to emend the first verb (3rd plural) to a 2nd plural form (followed by most English translations). The BHS textual apparatus suggests that the 2nd plural form be read even though there is only sparse textual evidence. LXX, Syriac, and the Vulgate change all the 2nd person verbs in 1:29-31 to 3rd person verbs. It is likely that the change to a 2nd person form represents an attempt at syntactical harmonization (J. de Waard, Isaiah, 10). The abrupt change from 3rd person to 2nd person may have been intentional for rhetorical impact (GKC 462 §144.p). The rapid change from exclamation (they did!) to reproach (you desired!) might be regarded as a rhetorical figure focusing attention on the addressees and their conditions (de Waard, 10; E. König, Stilistik, Rhetorik, Poetik, 239). This use of the 3rd person could also be understood as an impersonal third person: “one will be ashamed” (de Waard, 10). In v. 29 the prophet continues his description of the sinners (v. 28), but then suddenly makes a transition to direct address (switching from 3rd to 2nd person) in the middle of his sentence.

14 tn The second person pronouns in vv. 29-30 are masculine plural, indicating that the rebellious sinners (v. 28) are addressed.

15 tn Or “gardens” (so KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); NAB “groves.”

16 tn Or “a garden” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).

17 tn Heb “will become” (so NASB, NIV).

18 tn Heb “in the end of the days.” This phrase may refer generally to the future, or more technically to the final period of history. See BDB 31 s.v. ַאחֲרִית. The verse begins with a verb that functions as a “discourse particle” and is not translated. In numerous places throughout the OT, the “to be” verb with a prefixed conjunction (וְהָיָה [vÿhayah] and וַיְהִי [vayÿhi]) occurs in this fashion to introduce a circumstantial clause and does not require translation.

19 tn Or “be established” (KJV, NIV, NRSV).

20 tn Heb “as the chief of the mountains, and will be lifted up above the hills.” The image of Mount Zion being elevated above other mountains and hills pictures the prominence it will attain in the future.

21 tn The prefixed verb form with simple vav (ו) introduces a purpose/result clause after the preceding prefixed verb form (probably to be taken as a cohortative; see IBHS 650 §39.2.2a).

22 tn Heb “his ways.” In this context God’s “ways” are the standards of moral conduct he decrees that people should live by.

23 tn The cohortative with vav (ו) after the prefixed verb form indicates the ultimate purpose/goal of their action.

24 tn Heb “walk in his ways.”

25 tn Heb “for out of Zion will go instruction.”

26 tn Heb “the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”

27 sn Instead of referring to the large plow as a whole, the plowshare is simply the metal tip which actually breaks the earth and cuts the furrow.

28 sn This implement was used to prune the vines, i.e., to cut off extra leaves and young shoots (H. Wildberger, Isaiah, 1:93; M. Klingbeil, NIDOTTE 1:1117-18). It was a short knife with a curved hook at the end sharpened on the inside like a sickle. Breaking weapons and fashioning agricultural implements indicates a transition from fear and stress to peace and security.

29 tn Or “in that day” (KJV).

30 tn Heb “and the vegetation of the Lord will become beauty and honor.” Many English versions understand the phrase צֶמַח יְהוָה (tsemakh yÿhvah) as a messianic reference and render it, “the Branch of the Lord” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT, and others). Though צֶמַח (tsemakh) is used by later prophets of a royal descendant (Jer 23;5; 33:15; Zech 3:8; 6:12), those passages contain clear contextual indicators that a human ruler is in view and that the word is being used in a metaphorical way of offspring. However, in Isa 4:2 there are no such contextual indicators. To the contrary, in the parallel structure of the verse צֶמַח יְהוָה corresponds to “produce of the land,” a phrase that refers elsewhere exclusively to literal agricultural produce (see Num 13:20, 26; Deut 1:25). In the majority of its uses צֶמַח refers to literal crops or vegetation (in Ps 65:10 the Lord is the source of this vegetation). A reference to the Lord restoring crops would make excellent sense in Isa 4 and the prophets frequently included this theme in their visions of the future age (see Isa 30:23-24; 32:20; Jer 31:12; Ezek 34:26-29; and Amos 9:13-14).

31 tn Heb “and the fruit of the land will become pride and beauty for the remnant of Israel.”

32 tn The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.

33 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

34 tn Or “set apart,” cf. CEV “special.”

35 tn Heb “all who are written down for life in Jerusalem.” A city register is envisioned; everyone whose name appears on the roll will be spared. This group comprises the remnant of the city referred to earlier in the verse.

36 tn Heb “when” (so KJV, NAB, NASB); CEV “after”; NRSV “once.”

37 tn The Hebrew term translated “sovereign master” here is אֲדֹנָי (’adonai).

38 tn The word refers elsewhere to vomit (Isa 28:8) and fecal material (Isa 36:12). Many English versions render this somewhat euphemistically as “filth” (e.g., NAB, NIV, NRSV). Ironically in God’s sight the beautiful jewelry described earlier is nothing but vomit and feces, for it symbolizes the moral decay of the city’s residents (cf. NLT “moral filth”).

39 sn See 1:21 for a related concept.

40 tn Heb “by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning.” The precise meaning of the second half of the verse is uncertain. רוּחַ (ruakh) can be understood as “wind” in which case the passage pictures the Lord using a destructive wind as an instrument of judgment. However, this would create a mixed metaphor, for the first half of the verse uses the imagery of washing and rinsing to depict judgment. Perhaps the image would be that of a windstorm accompanied by heavy rain. רוּחַ can also mean “spirit,” in which case the verse may be referring to the Lord’s Spirit or, more likely, to a disposition that the Lord brings to the task of judgment. It is also uncertain if בָּעַר (baar) here means “burning” or “sweeping away, devastating.”

41 tn Heb “over all the place, Mount Zion.” Cf. NLT “Jerusalem”; CEV “the whole city.”

42 tn Heb “a cloud by day, and smoke, and brightness of fire, a flame by night.” Though the accents in the Hebrew text suggest otherwise, it might be preferable to take “smoke” with what follows, since one would expect smoke to accompany fire.

sn The imagery of the cloud by day and fire by night recalls the days of Moses, when a cloud and fire were tangible reminders that the Lord was guiding and protecting his people (Exod 13:21-22; 14:19, 24). In the future age envisioned in Isa 4, the Lord’s protective presence will be a reality.

43 tn Heb “indeed (or “for”) over all the glory, a canopy.” This may allude to Exod 40:34-35, where a cloud overshadows the meeting tent as it is filled with God’s glory.

44 tn Heb “a shelter it will be for shade by day from heat, and for a place of refuge and for a hiding place from cloudburst and rain.” Since both of the last nouns of this verse can mean rain, they can either refer to the rain storm and the rain as distinct items or together refer to a heavy downpour. Regardless, they do not represent unrelated phenomena.

45 tn The meaning of this verse is unclear. It appears to read literally, “O Lord, in distress they visit you, they pour out [?] an incantation, your discipline to them.” פָּקַד (paqad) may here carry the sense of “seek with interest” (cf. Ezek 23:21 and BDB 823 s.v.) or “seek in vain” (cf. Isa 34:16), but it is peculiar for the Lord to be the object of this verb. צָקוּן (tsaqun) may be a Qal perfect third plural form from צוּק (tsuq, “pour out, melt”), though the verb is not used of pouring out words in its two other occurrences. Because of the appearance of צַר (tsar, “distress”) in the preceding line, it is tempting to emend the form to a noun and derive it from צוּק (“be in distress”) The term לַחַשׁ (lakhash) elsewhere refers to an incantation (Isa 3:3; Jer 8:17; Eccl 10:11) or amulet (Isa 3:20). Perhaps here it refers to ritualistic prayers or to magical incantations used to ward off evil.



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