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Isaiah 27:9-10

Context

27:9 So in this way Jacob’s sin will be forgiven, 1 

and this is how they will show they are finished sinning: 2 

They will make all the stones of the altars 3 

like crushed limestone,

and the Asherah poles and the incense altars will no longer stand. 4 

27:10 For the fortified city 5  is left alone;

it is a deserted settlement

and abandoned like the desert.

Calves 6  graze there;

they lie down there

and eat its branches bare. 7 

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

2 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”).

3 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.

4 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.

5 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.

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

7 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.



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