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Isaiah 1:29-30


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

you 2  find so desirable;

you will be embarrassed because of the sacred orchards 3 

where you choose to worship.

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

like an orchard 4  that is unwatered.

1 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.

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

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

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

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