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Isaiah 29:1-4

Context
Ariel is Besieged

29:1 Ariel is as good as dead 1 

Ariel, the town David besieged! 2 

Keep observing your annual rituals,

celebrate your festivals on schedule. 3 

29:2 I will threaten Ariel,

and she will mourn intensely

and become like an altar hearth 4  before me.

29:3 I will lay siege to you on all sides; 5 

I will besiege you with troops; 6 

I will raise siege works against you.

29:4 You will fall;

while lying on the ground 7  you will speak;

from the dust where you lie, your words will be heard. 8 

Your voice will sound like a spirit speaking from the underworld; 9 

from the dust you will chirp as if muttering an incantation. 10 

1 tn Heb “Woe [to] Ariel.” The meaning of the name “Ariel” is uncertain. The name may mean “altar hearth” (see v. 2) or, if compound, “lion of God.” The name is used here as a title for Mount Zion/Jerusalem (see v. 8).

2 tn Heb “the town where David camped.” The verb חָנָה (khanah, “camp”) probably has the nuance “lay siege to” here. See v. 3. Another option is to take the verb in the sense of “lived, settled.”

3 tn Heb “Add year to year, let your festivals occur in cycles.” This is probably a sarcastic exhortation to the people to keep up their religious rituals, which will not prevent the coming judgment. See J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:527.

4 tn The term אֲרִיאֵל (’ariel, “Ariel”) is the word translated “altar hearth” here. The point of the simile is not entirely clear. Perhaps the image likens Jerusalem’s coming crisis to a sacrificial fire.

5 tc The Hebrew text has כַדּוּר (khadur, “like a circle”), i.e., “like an encircling wall.” Some emend this phrase to כְּדָוִד (kÿdavid, “like David”), which is supported by the LXX (see v. 1). However, the rendering in the LXX could have arisen from a confusion of the dalet (ד) and resh (ר).

6 tn The meaning of מֻצָּב (mutsav) is not certain. Because of the parallelism (note “siege works”), some translate “towers.” The noun is derived from נָצַב (natsav, “take one’s stand”) and may refer to the troops stationed outside the city to prevent entrance or departure.

7 tn Heb “from the ground” (so NIV, NCV).

8 tn Heb “and from the dust your word will be low.”

9 tn Heb “and your voice will be like a ritual pit from the earth.” The Hebrew אוֹב (’ov, “ritual pit”) refers to a pit used by a magician to conjure up underworld spirits. See the note on “incantations” in 8:19. Here the word is used metonymically for the voice that emerges from such a pit.

10 tn Heb “and from the dust your word will chirp.” The words “as if muttering an incantation” are supplied in the translation for clarification. See the parallelism and 8:19.



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