1:3 An ox recognizes its owner,
a donkey recognizes where its owner puts its food; 1
but Israel does not recognize me, 2
my people do not understand.”
they are unaware. 4
All of them are like mute dogs,
unable to bark.
They pant, 5 lie down,
and love to snooze.
1 tn Heb “and the donkey the feeding trough of its owner.” The verb in the first line does double duty in the parallelism.
2 tn Although both verbs have no object, the parallelism suggests that Israel fails to recognize the Lord as the one who provides for their needs. In both clauses, the placement of “Israel” and “my people” at the head of the clause focuses the reader’s attention on the rebellious nation (C. van der Merwe, J. Naudé, J. Kroeze, A Biblical Hebrew Reference Grammar, 346-47).
3 sn The “watchmen” are probably spiritual leaders, most likely prophets and priests, responsible for giving the people moral direction.
4 tn Heb “they do not know”; KJV “they are all ignorant”; NIV “they all lack knowledge.”
5 tn The Hebrew text has הֹזִים (hozim), which appears to be derived from an otherwise unattested verbal root הָזָה (hazah). On the basis of alleged cognates, BDB 223 s.v. הָזָה offers the definition “dream, rave” while HALOT 243 s.v. הזה lists “pant.” In this case the dog metaphor of the preceding lines continues. The reference to dogs at the beginning of v. 11 favors the extension of the metaphor. The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa has חזים (“seers”) here. In this case the “watchmen” are directly identified as prophets and depicted as lazy.