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Isaiah 1:5-9

Context

1:5 1 Why do you insist on being battered?

Why do you continue to rebel? 2 

Your head has a massive wound, 3 

your whole body is weak. 4 

1:6 From the soles of your feet to your head,

there is no spot that is unharmed. 5 

There are only bruises, cuts,

and open wounds.

They have not been cleansed 6  or bandaged,

nor have they been treated 7  with olive oil. 8 

1:7 Your land is devastated,

your cities burned with fire.

Right before your eyes your crops

are being destroyed by foreign invaders. 9 

They leave behind devastation and destruction. 10 

1:8 Daughter Zion 11  is left isolated,

like a hut in a vineyard,

or a shelter in a cucumber field;

she is a besieged city. 12 

1:9 If the Lord who commands armies 13  had not left us a few survivors,

we would have quickly become like Sodom, 14 

we would have become like Gomorrah.

1 sn In vv. 5-9 Isaiah addresses the battered nation (5-8) and speaks as their representative (9).

2 tn Heb “Why are you still beaten? [Why] do you continue rebellion?” The rhetorical questions express the prophet’s disbelief over Israel’s apparent masochism and obsession with sin. The interrogative construction in the first line does double duty in the parallelism. H. Wildberger (Isaiah, 1:18) offers another alternative by translating the two statements with one question: “Why do you still wish to be struck that you persist in revolt?”

3 tn Heb “all the head is ill”; NRSV “the whole head is sick”; CEV “Your head is badly bruised.”

4 tn Heb “and all the heart is faint.” The “heart” here stands for bodily strength and energy, as suggested by the context and usage elsewhere (see Jer 8:18; Lam 1:22).

5 tn Heb “there is not in it health”; NAB “there is no sound spot.”

6 tn Heb “pressed out.”

7 tn Heb “softened” (so NASB, NRSV); NIV “soothed.”

8 sn This verse describes wounds like those one would receive in battle. These wounds are comprehensive and without remedy.

9 tn Heb “As for your land, before you foreigners are devouring it.”

10 tn Heb “and [there is] devastation like an overthrow by foreigners.” The comparative preposition כְּ (kÿ, “like, as”) has here the rhetorical nuance, “in every way like.” The point is that the land has all the earmarks of a destructive foreign invasion because that is what has indeed happened. One could paraphrase, “it is desolate as it can only be when foreigners destroy.” On this use of the preposition in general, see GKC 376 §118.x. Many also prefer to emend “foreigners” here to “Sodom,” though there is no external attestation for such a reading in the mss or ancient versions. Such an emendation finds support from the following context (vv. 9-10) and usage of the preceding noun מַהְפֵּכָה (mahpekhah, “overthrow”). In its five other uses, this noun is associated with the destruction of Sodom. If one accepts the emendation, then one might translate, “the devastation resembles the destruction of Sodom.”

11 tn Heb “daughter of Zion” (so KJV, NASB, NIV). The genitive is appositional, identifying precisely which daughter is in view. By picturing Zion as a daughter, the prophet emphasizes her helplessness and vulnerability before the enemy.

12 tn Heb “like a city besieged.” Unlike the preceding two comparisons, which are purely metaphorical, this third one identifies the reality of Israel’s condition. In this case the comparative preposition, as in v. 7b, has the force, “in every way like,” indicating that all the earmarks of a siege are visible because that is indeed what is taking place. The verb form in MT is Qal passive participle of נָצַר (natsar, “guard”), but since this verb is not often used of a siege (see BDB 666 s.v. I נָצַר), some prefer to repoint the form as a Niphal participle from II צוּר (tsur, “besiege”). However, the latter is not attested elsewhere in the Niphal (see BDB 848 s.v. II צוּר).

13 tn Traditionally, “the Lord of hosts.” The title pictures God as the sovereign king who has at his disposal a multitude of attendants, messengers, and warriors to do his bidding. In some contexts, like this one, the military dimension of his rulership is highlighted. In this case, the title pictures him as one who leads armies into battle against his enemies.

14 tc The translation assumes that כִּמְעָט (kimat, “quickly,” literally, “like a little”) goes with what follows, contrary to the MT accents, which take it with what precedes. In this case, one could translate the preceding line, “If the Lord who commands armies had not left us a few survivors.” If כִּמְעָט goes with the preceding line (following the MT accents), this expression highlights the idea that there would only be a few survivors (H. Wildberger, Isaiah, 1:20; H. Zobel, TDOT 8:456). Israel would not be almost like Sodom but exactly like Sodom.



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