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Isaiah 4:4-5

Context

4:4 At that time 1  the sovereign master 2  will wash the excrement 3  from Zion’s women,

he will rinse the bloodstains from Jerusalem’s midst, 4 

as he comes to judge

and to bring devastation. 5 

4:5 Then the Lord will create

over all of Mount Zion 6 

and over its convocations

a cloud and smoke by day

and a bright flame of fire by night; 7 

indeed a canopy will accompany the Lord’s glorious presence. 8 

1 tn Heb “when” (so KJV, NAB, NASB); CEV “after”; NRSV “once.”

2 tn The Hebrew term translated “sovereign master” here is אֲדֹנָי (’adonai).

3 tn The word refers elsewhere to vomit (Isa 28:8) and fecal material (Isa 36:12). Many English versions render this somewhat euphemistically as “filth” (e.g., NAB, NIV, NRSV). Ironically in God’s sight the beautiful jewelry described earlier is nothing but vomit and feces, for it symbolizes the moral decay of the city’s residents (cf. NLT “moral filth”).

4 sn See 1:21 for a related concept.

5 tn Heb “by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning.” The precise meaning of the second half of the verse is uncertain. רוּחַ (ruakh) can be understood as “wind” in which case the passage pictures the Lord using a destructive wind as an instrument of judgment. However, this would create a mixed metaphor, for the first half of the verse uses the imagery of washing and rinsing to depict judgment. Perhaps the image would be that of a windstorm accompanied by heavy rain. רוּחַ can also mean “spirit,” in which case the verse may be referring to the Lord’s Spirit or, more likely, to a disposition that the Lord brings to the task of judgment. It is also uncertain if בָּעַר (baar) here means “burning” or “sweeping away, devastating.”

6 tn Heb “over all the place, Mount Zion.” Cf. NLT “Jerusalem”; CEV “the whole city.”

7 tn Heb “a cloud by day, and smoke, and brightness of fire, a flame by night.” Though the accents in the Hebrew text suggest otherwise, it might be preferable to take “smoke” with what follows, since one would expect smoke to accompany fire.

sn The imagery of the cloud by day and fire by night recalls the days of Moses, when a cloud and fire were tangible reminders that the Lord was guiding and protecting his people (Exod 13:21-22; 14:19, 24). In the future age envisioned in Isa 4, the Lord’s protective presence will be a reality.

8 tn Heb “indeed (or “for”) over all the glory, a canopy.” This may allude to Exod 40:34-35, where a cloud overshadows the meeting tent as it is filled with God’s glory.



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