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Isaiah 3:4-5

Context

3:4 The Lord says, 1  “I will make youths their officials;

malicious young men 2  will rule over them.

3:5 The people will treat each other harshly;

men will oppose each other;

neighbors will fight. 3 

Youths will proudly defy the elderly

and riffraff will challenge those who were once respected. 4 

1 tn The words “the Lord says” are supplied in the translation for clarification. The prophet speaks in vv. 1-3 (note the third person reference to the Lord in v. 1), but here the Lord himself announces that he will intervene in judgment. It is unclear where the Lord’s words end and the prophet’s pick up again. The prophet is apparently speaking again by v. 8, where the Lord is referred to in the third person. Since vv. 4-7 comprise a thematic unity, the quotation probably extends through v. 7.

2 tn תַעֲלוּלִים (taalulim) is often understood as an abstract plural meaning “wantonness, cruelty” (cf. NLT). In this case the chief characteristic of these leaders is substituted for the leaders themselves. However, several translations make the parallelism tighter by emending the form to עוֹלְלִים (’olÿlim, “children”; cf. ESV, NASB, NCV, NIV, NKJV, NRSV). This emendation is unnecessary for at least two reasons. The word in the MT highlights the cruelty or malice of the “leaders” who are left behind in the wake of God’s judgment. The immediate context makes clear the fact that they are mere youths. The coming judgment will sweep away the leaders, leaving a vacuum which will be filled by incompetent, inexperienced youths.

3 tn Heb “man against man, and a man against his neighbor.”

4 tn Heb “and those lightly esteemed those who are respected.” The verb רָהַב (rahav) does double duty in the parallelism.



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