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Isaiah 23:4

Context

23:4 Be ashamed, O Sidon,

for the sea 1  says this, O fortress of the sea:

“I have not gone into labor

or given birth;

I have not raised young men

or brought up young women.” 2 

Isaiah 62:5

Context

62:5 As a young man marries a young woman,

so your sons 3  will marry you.

As a bridegroom rejoices over a bride,

so your God will rejoice over you.

1 tn J. N. Oswalt (Isaiah [NICOT], 1:430-31) sees here a reference to Yam, the Canaanite god of the sea. He interprets the phrase מָעוֹז הַיָּם (maoz hayyam, “fortress of the sea”) as a title of Yam, translating “Mighty One of the Sea.” A more traditional view is that the phrase refers to Sidon.

2 tn Or “virgins” (KJV, ASV, NAB, NASB).

sn The sea is personified here as a lamenting childless woman. The foreboding language anticipates the following announcement of Tyre’s demise, viewed here as a child of the sea, as it were.

3 tc The Hebrew text has “your sons,” but this produces an odd metaphor and is somewhat incongruous with the parallelism. In the context (v. 4b, see also 54:5-7) the Lord is the one who “marries” Zion. Therefore several prefer to emend “your sons” to בֹּנָיִךְ (bonayikh, “your builder”; e.g., NRSV). In Ps 147:2 the Lord is called the “builder of Jerusalem.” However, this emendation is not the best option for at least four reasons. First, although the Lord is never called the “builder” of Jerusalem in Isaiah, the idea of Zion’s children possessing the land does occur (Isa 49:20; 54:3; cf. also 14:1; 60:21). Secondly, all the ancient versions support the MT reading. Thirdly, although the verb בָּעַל (baal) can mean “to marry,” its basic idea is “to possess.” Consequently, the verb stresses a relationship more than a state. All the ancient versions render this verb “to dwell in” or “to dwell with.” The point is not just that the land will be reinhabited, but that it will be in a relationship of “belonging” to the Israelites. Hence a relational verb like בָּעַל is used (J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah [NICOT], 2:581). Finally, “sons” is a well-known metaphor for “inhabitants” (J. de Waard, Isaiah, 208).



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