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Isaiah 2:19-21

Context

2:19 They 1  will go into caves in the rocky cliffs

and into holes in the ground, 2 

trying to escape the dreadful judgment of the Lord 3 

and his royal splendor,

when he rises up to terrify the earth. 4 

2:20 At that time 5  men will throw

their silver and gold idols,

which they made for themselves to worship, 6 

into the caves where rodents and bats live, 7 

2:21 so they themselves can go into the crevices of the rocky cliffs

and the openings under the rocky overhangs, 8 

trying to escape the dreadful judgment of the Lord 9 

and his royal splendor,

when he rises up to terrify the earth. 10 

1 tn The identity of the grammatical subject is unclear. The “idols” could be the subject; they will “go” into the caves and holes when the idolaters throw them there in their haste to escape God’s judgment (see vv. 20-21). The picture of the idols, which represent the foreign deities worshiped by the people, fleeing from the Lord would be highly polemical and fit the overall mood of the chapter. However it seems more likely that the idolaters themselves are the subject, for v. 10 uses similar language in sarcastically urging them to run from judgment.

2 tn Heb “dust”; ASV “into the holes of the earth.”

3 tn Heb “from the dread of the Lord,” that is, from the dread that he produces in the objects of his judgment.” The words “trying to escape” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

4 tn Or “land.” It is not certain if these verses are describing the judgment of Judah (see vv. 6-9) or a more universal judgment on all proud men.

5 tn Or “in that day” (KJV).

6 tn Or “bow down to.”

7 tn Heb “to the shrews and to the bats.” On the meaning of חֲפַרְפָּרָה (khafarparah, “shrew”), see HALOT 341 s.v. חֲפַרְפָּרָה. The BHS text as it stands (לַחְפֹּר פֵּרוֹת, perot lakhpor), makes no sense. Based on Theodotion’s transliteration and a similar reading in the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa, most scholars suggest that the MT mistakenly divided a noun (a hapax legomenon) that should be translated “moles,” “shrews,” or “rodents.”

8 sn The precise point of vv. 20-21 is not entirely clear. Are they taking the idols into their hiding places with them, because they are so attached to their man-made images? Or are they discarding the idols along the way as they retreat into the darkest places they can find? In either case it is obvious that the gods are incapable of helping them.

9 tn Heb “from the dread of the Lord,” that is, from the dread that he produces in the objects of his judgment.” The words “trying to escape” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

10 tn Or “land.” It is not certain if these verses are describing the judgment of Judah (see vv. 6-9) or a more universal judgment on all proud men. Almost all English versions translate “earth,” taking this to refer to universal judgment.



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