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Isaiah 31:4-9

Context
The Lord Will Defend Zion

31:4 Indeed, this is what the Lord says to me:

“The Lord will be like a growling lion,

like a young lion growling over its prey. 1 

Though a whole group of shepherds gathers against it,

it is not afraid of their shouts

or intimidated by their yelling. 2 

In this same way the Lord who commands armies will descend

to do battle on Mount Zion and on its hill. 3 

31:5 Just as birds hover over a nest, 4 

so the Lord who commands armies will protect Jerusalem. 5 

He will protect and deliver it;

as he passes over 6  he will rescue it.

31:6 You Israelites! Return to the one against whom you have so blatantly rebelled! 7  31:7 For at that time 8  everyone will get rid of 9  the silver and gold idols your hands sinfully made. 10 

31:8 Assyria will fall by a sword, but not one human-made; 11 

a sword not made by humankind will destroy them. 12 

They will run away from this sword 13 

and their young men will be forced to do hard labor.

31:9 They will surrender their stronghold 14  because of fear; 15 

their officers will be afraid of the Lord’s battle flag.” 16 

This is what the Lord says –

the one whose fire is in Zion,

whose firepot is in Jerusalem. 17 

1 tn Heb “As a lion growls, a young lion over its prey.” In the Hebrew text the opening comparison is completed later in the verse (“so the Lord will come down…”), after a parenthesis describing how fearless the lion is. The present translation divides the verse into three sentences for English stylistic reasons.

2 tn Heb “Though there is summoned against it fullness of shepherds, by their voice it is not terrified, and to their noise it does not respond.”

3 tn Some prefer to translate the phrase לִצְבֹּא עַל (litsbo’ ’al) as “fight against,” but the following context pictures the Lord defending, not attacking, Zion.

4 tn Heb “just as birds fly.” The words “over a nest” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

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

6 tn The only other occurrence of this verb is in Exod 12:13, 23, 27, where the Lord “passes over” (i.e., “spares”) the Israelite households as he comes to judge their Egyptian oppressors. The noun פֶּסַח (pesakh, “Passover”) is derived from the verb. The use of the verb in Isa 31:5 is probably an intentional echo of the Exodus event. As in the days of Moses the Lord will spare his people as he comes to judge their enemies.

7 tn Heb “Return to the one [against] whom the sons of Israel made deep rebellion.” The syntax is awkward here. A preposition is omitted by ellipsis after the verb (see GKC 446 §138.f, n. 2), and there is a shift from direct address (note the second plural imperative “return”) to the third person (note “they made deep”). For other examples of abrupt shifts in person in poetic style, see GKC 462 §144.p.

8 tn Or “in that day” (KJV).

9 tn Heb “reject” (so NIV); NRSV, TEV, CEV, NLT “throw away.”

10 tn Heb “the idols of their idols of silver and their idols of gold which your hands made for yourselves [in] sin.” חָטָא (khata’, “sin”) is understood as an adverbial accusative of manner. See J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:573, n. 4.

11 tn Heb “Assyria will fall by a sword, not of a man.”

12 tn Heb “and a sword not of humankind will devour him.”

13 tn Heb “he will flee for himself from before a sword.”

14 tn Heb “rocky cliff” (cf. ASV, NASB “rock”), viewed metaphorically as a place of defense and security.

15 tn Heb “His rocky cliff, because of fear, will pass away [i.e., “perish”].”

16 tn Heb “and they will be afraid of the flag, his officers.”

17 sn The “fire” and “firepot” here symbolize divine judgment, which is heating up like a fire in Jerusalem, waiting to be used against the Assyrians when they attack the city.



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