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Isaiah 26:7--27:13

Context
God’s People Anticipate Vindication

26:7 1 The way of the righteous is level,

the path of the righteous that you make is straight. 2 

26:8 Yes, as your judgments unfold, 3 

O Lord, we wait for you.

We desire your fame and reputation to grow. 4 

26:9 I 5  look for 6  you during the night,

my spirit within me seeks you at dawn,

for when your judgments come upon the earth,

those who live in the world learn about justice. 7 

26:10 If the wicked are shown mercy,

they do not learn about justice. 8 

Even in a land where right is rewarded, they act unjustly; 9 

they do not see the Lord’s majesty revealed.

26:11 O Lord, you are ready to act, 10 

but they don’t even notice.

They will see and be put to shame by your angry judgment against humankind, 11 

yes, fire will consume your enemies. 12 

26:12 O Lord, you make us secure, 13 

for even all we have accomplished, you have done for us. 14 

26:13 O Lord, our God,

masters other than you have ruled us,

but we praise your name alone.

26:14 The dead do not come back to life,

the spirits of the dead do not rise. 15 

That is because 16  you came in judgment 17  and destroyed them,

you wiped out all memory of them.

26:15 You have made the nation larger, 18  O Lord,

you have made the nation larger and revealed your splendor, 19 

you have extended all the borders of the land.

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

they uttered incantations because of your discipline. 20 

26:17 As when a pregnant woman gets ready to deliver

and strains and cries out because of her labor pains,

so were we because of you, O Lord.

26:18 We were pregnant, we strained,

we gave birth, as it were, to wind. 21 

We cannot produce deliverance on the earth;

people to populate the world are not born. 22 

26:19 23 Your dead will come back to life;

your corpses will rise up.

Wake up and shout joyfully, you who live in the ground! 24 

For you will grow like plants drenched with the morning dew, 25 

and the earth will bring forth its dead spirits. 26 

26:20 Go, my people! Enter your inner rooms!

Close your doors behind you!

Hide for a little while,

until his angry judgment is over! 27 

26:21 For look, the Lord is coming out of the place where he lives, 28 

to punish the sin of those who live on the earth.

The earth will display the blood shed on it;

it will no longer cover up its slain. 29 

27:1 At that time 30  the Lord will punish

with his destructive, 31  great, and powerful sword

Leviathan the fast-moving 32  serpent,

Leviathan the squirming serpent;

he will kill the sea monster. 33 

27:2 When that time comes, 34 

sing about a delightful vineyard! 35 

27:3 I, the Lord, protect it; 36 

I water it regularly. 37 

I guard it night and day,

so no one can harm it. 38 

27:4 I am not angry.

I wish I could confront some thorns and briers!

Then I would march against them 39  for battle;

I would set them 40  all on fire,

27:5 unless they became my subjects 41 

and made peace with me;

let them make peace with me. 42 

27:6 The time is coming when Jacob will take root; 43 

Israel will blossom and grow branches.

The produce 44  will fill the surface of the world. 45 

27:7 Has the Lord struck down Israel like he did their oppressors? 46 

Has Israel been killed like their enemies? 47 

27:8 When you summon her for divorce, you prosecute her; 48 

he drives her away 49  with his strong wind in the day of the east wind. 50 

27:9 So in this way Jacob’s sin will be forgiven, 51 

and this is how they will show they are finished sinning: 52 

They will make all the stones of the altars 53 

like crushed limestone,

and the Asherah poles and the incense altars will no longer stand. 54 

27:10 For the fortified city 55  is left alone;

it is a deserted settlement

and abandoned like the desert.

Calves 56  graze there;

they lie down there

and eat its branches bare. 57 

27:11 When its branches get brittle, 58  they break;

women come and use them for kindling. 59 

For these people lack understanding, 60 

therefore the one who made them has no compassion on them;

the one who formed them has no mercy on them.

27:12 At that time 61  the Lord will shake the tree, 62  from the Euphrates River 63  to the Stream of Egypt. Then you will be gathered up one by one, O Israelites. 64  27:13 At that time 65  a large 66  trumpet will be blown, and the ones lost 67  in the land of Assyria will come, as well as the refugees in 68  the land of Egypt. They will worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem. 69 

1 sn The literary structure of chap. 26 is not entirely clear. The chapter begins with an eschatological song of praise and ends with a lament and prophetic response (vv. 16-21). It is not certain where the song of praise ends or how vv. 7-15 fit into the structure. Verses 10-11a seem to lament the presence of evil and v. 11b anticipates the arrival of judgment, so it is possible that vv. 7-15 are a prelude to the lament and announcement that conclude the chapter.

2 tc The Hebrew text has, “upright, the path of the righteous you make level.” There are three possible ways to translate this line. Some take יָשָׁר (yashar) as a divine title: “O Upright One” (cf. NASB, NIV, NKJV, NRSV, NLT). Others regard יָשָׁר as the result of dittography (מֵישָׁרִים יָשָׁר ַמעְגַּל, mesharim yashar magal) and do not include it in the translation. Another possibility is to keep יָשָׁר and render the line as “the path of the righteous that you prepare is straight.”

sn The metaphor of a level/smooth road/path may refer to their morally upright manner of life (see v. 8a), but verse 7b, which attributes the smooth path to the Lord, suggests that the Lord’s vindication and blessing may be the reality behind the metaphor here.

3 tn The Hebrew text has, “yes, the way of your judgments.” The translation assumes that “way” is related to the verb “we wait” as an adverbial accusative (“in the way of your judgments we wait”). מִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ (mishpatekha, “your judgments”) could refer to the Lord’s commandments, in which case one might translate, “as we obey your commands.” However, in verse 9 the same form refers to divine acts of judgment on evildoers.

4 tn Heb “your name and your remembrance [is] the desire of [our?] being.”

5 tn Heb “with my soul I.” This is a figure for the speaker himself (“I”).

6 tn Or “long for, desire.” The speaker acknowledges that he is eager to see God come in judgment (see vv. 8, 9b).

7 tn The translation understands צֶדֶק (tsedeq) in the sense of “justice,” but it is possible that it carries the nuance “righteousness,” in which case one might translate, “those who live in the world learn to live in a righteous manner” (cf. NCV).

8 tn As in verse 9b, the translation understands צֶדֶק (tsedeq) in the sense of “justice,” but it is possible that it carries the nuance “righteousness,” in which case one might translate, “they do not learn to live in a righteous manner.”

9 tn Heb “in a land of uprightness they act unjustly”; NRSV “they deal perversely.”

10 tn Heb “O Lord, your hand is lifted up.”

11 tn Heb “They will see and be ashamed of zeal of people.” Some take the prefixed verbs as jussives and translate the statement as a prayer, “Let them see and be put to shame.” The meaning of the phrase קִנְאַת־עָם (qinat-am, “zeal of people”) is unclear. The translation assumes that this refers to God’s angry judgment upon people. Another option is to understand the phrase as referring to God’s zealous, protective love of his covenant people. In this case one might translate, “by your zealous devotion to your people.”

12 tn Heb “yes, fire, your enemies, will consume them.” Many understand the prefixed verb form to be jussive and translate, “let [fire] consume” (cf. NAB, NIV, NRSV). The mem suffixed to the verb may be enclitic; if a pronominal suffix, it refers back to “your enemies.”

13 tn Heb “O Lord, you establish peace for us.”

14 tc Some suggest emending גַּם כָּל (gam kol, “even all”) to כִּגְמֻל (kigmul, “according to the deed[s] of”) One might then translate “for according to what our deeds deserve, you have acted on our behalf.” Nevertheless, accepting the MT as it stands, the prophet affirms that Yahweh deserved all the credit for anything Israel had accomplished.

15 sn In light of what is said in verse 14b, the “dead” here may be the “masters” mentioned in verse 13.

16 tn The Hebrew term לָכֵן (lakhen) normally indicates a cause-effect relationship between what precedes and follows and is translated, “therefore.” Here, however, it infers the cause from the effect and brings out what is implicit in the previous statement. See BDB 487 s.v.

17 tn Heb “visited [for harm]” (cf. KJV, ASV); NAB, NRSV “you have punished.”

18 tn Heb “you have added to the nation.” The last line of the verse suggests that geographical expansion is in view. “The nation” is Judah.

19 tn Or “brought honor to yourself.”

20 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.

21 tn On the use of כְּמוֹ (kÿmo, “like, as”) here, see BDB 455 s.v. Israel’s distress and suffering, likened here to the pains of childbirth, seemed to be for no purpose. A woman in labor endures pain with the hope that a child will be born; in Israel’s case no such positive outcome was apparent. The nation was like a woman who strains to bring forth a child, but can’t push the baby through to daylight. All her effort produces nothing.

22 tn Heb “and the inhabitants of the world do not fall.” The term נָפַל (nafal) apparently means here, “be born,” though the Qal form of the verb is not used with this nuance anywhere else in the OT. (The Hiphil appears to be used in the sense of “give birth” in v. 19, however.) The implication of verse 18b seems to be that Israel hoped its suffering would somehow end in deliverance and an increase in population. The phrase “inhabitants of the world” seems to refer to the human race in general, but the next verse, which focuses on Israel’s dead, suggests the referent may be more limited.

23 sn At this point the Lord (or prophet) gives the people an encouraging oracle.

24 tn Heb “dust” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).

25 tn Heb “for the dew of lights [is] your dew.” The pronominal suffix on “dew” is masculine singular, like the suffixes on “your dead” and “your corpses” in the first half of the verse. The statement, then, is addressed to collective Israel, the speaker in verse 18. The plural form אוֹרֹת (’orot) is probably a plural of respect or magnitude, meaning “bright light” (i.e., morning’s light). Dew is a symbol of fertility and life. Here Israel’s “dew,” as it were, will soak the dust of the ground and cause the corpses of the dead to spring up to new life, like plants sprouting up from well-watered soil.

26 sn It is not certain whether the resurrection envisioned here is intended to be literal or figurative. A comparison with 25:8 and Dan 12:2 suggests a literal interpretation, but Ezek 37:1-14 uses resurrection as a metaphor for deliverance from exile and the restoration of the nation (see Isa 27:12-13).

27 tn Heb “until anger passes by.”

28 tn Heb “out of his place” (so KJV, ASV).

29 sn This implies that rampant bloodshed is one of the reasons for divine judgment. See the note at 24:5.

30 tn Heb “in that day” (so KJV).

31 tn Heb “hard, severe”; cf. NAB, NRSV “cruel”; KJV “sore”; NLT “terrible.”

32 tn Heb “fleeing” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV). Some translate “slippery” or “slithering.”

33 tn The description of Leviathan should be compared with the following excerpts from Ugaritic mythological texts: (1) “Was not the dragon (Ugaritic tnn, cognate with Hebrew תַנִּין [tannin, translated “sea monster” here]) vanquished and captured? I did destroy the wriggling (Ugaritic ’qltn, cognate to Hebrew עֲקַלָּתוֹן [’aqallaton, translated “squirming” here]) serpent, the tyrant with seven heads (cf. Ps 74:14).” (See CTA 3 iii 38-39.) (2) “for all that you smote Leviathan the slippery (Ugaritic brh, cognate to Hebrew בָּרִחַ [bariakh, translated “fast-moving” here]) serpent, [and] made an end of the wriggling serpent, the tyrant with seven heads” (See CTA 5 i 1-3.)

sn In the Ugaritic mythological texts Leviathan is a sea creature that symbolizes the destructive water of the sea and in turn the forces of chaos that threaten the established order. Isaiah here applies imagery from Canaanite mythology to Yahweh’s eschatological victory over his enemies. Elsewhere in the OT, the battle with the sea motif is applied to Yahweh’s victories over the forces of chaos at creation and in history (cf. Pss 74:13-14; 77:16-20; 89:9-10; Isa 51:9-10). Yahweh’s subjugation of the chaos waters is related to His kingship (cf. Pss 29:3, 10; 93:3-4). Apocalyptic literature employs the imagery as well. The beasts of Dan 7 emerge from the sea, while Rev 13 speaks of a seven-headed beast coming from the sea.

34 tn Heb “in that day” (so KJV).

35 tn Heb “vineyard of delight,” or “vineyard of beauty.” Many medieval mss read כֶּרֶם חֶמֶר (kerem khemer, “vineyard of wine”), i.e., “a productive vineyard.”

36 tn Heb “her.” Apparently “vineyard” is the antecedent, though normally this noun is understood as masculine (see Lev 25:3, however).

37 tn Or perhaps, “constantly.” Heb “by moments.”

38 tn Heb “lest [someone] visit [harm] upon it, night and day I guard it.”

39 tn Heb “it.” The feminine singular suffix apparently refers back to the expression “thorns and briers,” understood in a collective sense. For other examples of a cohortative expressing resolve after a hypothetical statement introduced by נָתַן with מִי (miwith natan), see Judg 9:29; Jer 9:1-2; Ps 55:6.

40 tn Heb “it.” The feminine singular suffix apparently refers back to the expression “thorns and briers,” understood in a collective sense.

41 tn Heb “or let him take hold of my refuge.” The subject of the third masculine singular verb form is uncertain. Apparently the symbolic “thorns and briers” are in view, though in v. 4b a feminine singular pronoun was used to refer to them.

42 tc The Hebrew text has, “he makes peace with me, peace he makes with me.” Some contend that two alternative readings are preserved here and one should be deleted. The first has the object שָׁלוֹם (shalom, “peace”) preceding the verb עָשָׂה (’asah, “make”); the second reverses the order. Another option is to retain both statements, although repetitive, to emphasize the need to make peace with Yahweh.

43 tc The Hebrew text reads literally, “the coming ones, let Jacob take root.” הַבָּאִים (habbaim, “the coming ones”) should probably be emended to יָמִים בָאִים (yamim vaim, “days [are] coming”) or בְּיָמִים הַבָּאִים (biyamim habbaim, “in the coming days”).

44 tn Heb “fruit” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).

45 sn This apparently refers to a future population explosion. See 26:18.

46 tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “Like the striking down of the one striking him down does he strike him down?” The meaning of the text is unclear, but this may be a rhetorical question, suggesting that Israel has not experienced divine judgment to the same degree as her oppressors. In this case “the one striking down” refers to Israel’s oppressors, while the pronoun “him” refers to Israel. The subject of the final verb (“does he strike down”) would then be God, while the pronoun “him” would again refer to Israel.

47 tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “Or like the killing of his killed ones is he killed?” If one accepts the interpretation of the parallel line outlined in the previous note, then this line too would contain a rhetorical question suggesting that Israel has not experienced destruction to the same degree as its enemies. In this case “his killed ones” refers to the one who struck Israel down, and Israel would be the subject of the final verb (“is he killed”).

48 tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “in [?], in sending her away, you oppose her.” The meaning of this line is uncertain. The form בְּסַאסְּאָה (bÿsassÿah) is taken as an infinitive from סַאסְּאָה (sassÿah) with a prepositional prefix and a third feminine singular suffix. (The MT does not have a mappiq in the final he [ה], however). According to HALOT 738 s.v. סַאסְּאָה the verb is a Palpel form from an otherwise unattested root cognate with an Arabic verb meaning “to gather beasts with a call.” Perhaps it means “to call, summon” here, but this is a very tentative proposal. בְּשַׁלְחָהּ (bÿshalkhah, “in sending her away”) appears to be a Piel infinitive with a prepositional prefix and a third feminine singular suffix. Since the Piel of שָׁלָח (shalakh) can sometimes mean “divorce” (HALOT 1514-15 s.v.) and the following verb רִיב (riv, “oppose”) can be used in legal contexts, it is possible that divorce proceedings are alluded to here. This may explain why Israel is referred to as feminine in this verse, in contrast to the masculine forms used in vv. 6-7 and 9.

49 tn The Hebrew text has no object expressed, but one can understand a third feminine singular pronominal object and place a mappiq in the final he (ה) of the form to indicate the suffix.

50 sn The “east wind” here symbolizes violent divine judgment.

51 tn Or “be atoned for” (NIV); cf. NRSV “be expiated.”

52 tn Heb “and this [is] all the fruit of removing his sin.” The meaning of the statement is not entirely clear, though “removing his sin” certainly parallels “Jacob’s sin will be removed” in the preceding line. If original, “all the fruit” may refer to the result of the decision to remove sin, but the phrase may be a corruption of לְכַפֵּר (lekhaper, “to atone for”), which in turn might be a gloss on הָסִר (hasir, “removing”).

53 tn Heb “when he makes the stones of an altar.” The singular “altar” is collective here; pagan altars are in view, as the last line of the verse indicates. See also 17:8.

54 sn As interpreted and translated above, this verse says that Israel must totally repudiate its pagan religious practices in order to experience God’s forgiveness and restoration. Another option is to understand “in this way” and “this” in v. 9a as referring back to the judgment described in v. 8. In this case כָּפַר (kafar, “atone for”) is used in a sarcastic sense; Jacob’s sin is “atoned for” and removed through severe judgment. Following this line of interpretation, one might paraphrase the verse as follows: “So in this way (through judgment) Jacob’s sin will be “atoned for,” and this is the way his sin will be removed, when he (i.e., God) makes all the altar stones like crushed limestone….” This interpretation is more consistent with the tone of judgment in vv. 8 and 10-11.

55 sn The identity of this city is uncertain. The context suggests that an Israelite city, perhaps Samaria or Jerusalem, is in view. For discussions of interpretive options see J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:496-97, and Paul L. Redditt, “Once Again, the City in Isaiah 24-27,” HAR 10 (1986), 332.

56 tn The singular form in the text is probably collective.

57 tn Heb “and destroy her branches.” The city is the antecedent of the third feminine singular pronominal suffix. Apparently the city is here compared to a tree. See also v. 11.

58 tn Heb “are dry” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV).

59 tn Heb “women come [and] light it.” The city is likened to a dead tree with dried up branches that is only good for firewood.

60 tn Heb “for not a people of understanding [is] he.”

61 tn Heb “and it will be in that day.” The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.

62 tn Heb “the Lord will beat out.” The verb is used of beating seeds or grain to separate the husk from the kernel (see Judg 6:11; Ruth 2:17; Isa 28:27), and of beating the olives off the olive tree (Deut 24:20). The latter metaphor may be in view here, where a tree metaphor has been employed in the preceding verses. See also 17:6.

63 tn Heb “the river,” a frequent designation in the OT for the Euphrates. For clarity most modern English versions substitute the name “Euphrates” for “the river” here.

64 sn The Israelites will be freed from exile (likened to beating the olives off the tree) and then gathered (likened to collecting the olives).

65 tn Heb “and it will be in that day.” The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.

66 tn Traditionally, “great” (KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NLT); CEV “loud.”

67 tn Or “the ones perishing.”

68 tn Or “the ones driven into.”

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



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