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Isaiah 32:12-14

Context

32:12 Mourn over the field, 1 

over the delightful fields

and the fruitful vine!

32:13 Mourn 2  over the land of my people,

which is overgrown with thorns and briers,

and over all the once-happy houses 3 

in the city filled with revelry. 4 

32:14 For the fortress is neglected;

the once-crowded 5  city is abandoned.

Hill 6  and watchtower

are permanently uninhabited. 7 

Wild donkeys love to go there,

and flocks graze there. 8 

1 tc The Hebrew text has “over mourning breasts.” The reference to “breasts” would make sense in light of v. 11, which refers to the practice of women baring their breasts as a sign of sorrow (see J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah [NICOT], 1:585). However, one expects the preposition עַל (’al) to introduce the source or reason for mourning (see vv. 12b-13a) and the participle סֹפְדִים (sofedim, “mourning”) seems odd modifying “breasts.” The translation above assumes a twofold emendation: (1) שָׁדַיִם (shadayim, “breasts”) is emended to [ם]שָׂדַי (saday[m], “field,” a term that also appears in Isa 56:9). The final mem (ם) would be enclitic in this case, not a plural indicator. (The Hebrew noun שָׂדֶה (sadeh, “field”) forms its plural with an וֹת- [-ot] ending). (2) The plural participle סֹפְדִים is emended to סְפֹדָה (sÿfodah), a lengthened imperatival form, meaning “mourn.” For an overview of various suggestions that have been made for this difficult line, see Oswalt, 586, n. 12).

2 tn “Mourn” is supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. In the Hebrew text vv. 12-13 are one long sentence.

3 tn Heb “indeed, over all the houses of joy.” It is not certain if this refers to individual homes or to places where parties and celebrations were held.

4 sn This same phrase is used in 22:2.

5 tn Or “noisy” (NAB, NIV, NCV).

6 tn Hebrew עֹפֶל (’ofel), probably refers here to a specific area within the city of Jerusalem. See HALOT 861 s.v. II עֹפֶל.

7 tn The Hebrew text has בְעַד מְעָרוֹת (vÿad mÿarot). The force of בְעַד, which usually means “behind, through, round about,” or “for the benefit of,” is uncertain here. HALOT 616 s.v. *מְעָרָה takes מְעָרוֹת (mÿarot) as a homonym of “cave” and define it here as “cleared field.” Despite these lexical problems, the general point of the statement seems clear – the city will be uninhabited.

8 tn Heb “the joy of wild donkeys, a pasture for flocks.”



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