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Isaiah 57:3-8

Context

57:3 But approach, you sons of omen readers,

you offspring of adulteresses and prostitutes! 1 

57:4 At whom are you laughing?

At whom are you opening your mouth

and sticking out your tongue?

You are the children of rebels,

the offspring of liars, 2 

57:5 you who practice ritual sex 3  under the oaks and every green tree,

who slaughter children near the streams under the rocky overhangs. 4 

57:6 Among the smooth stones of the stream are the idols you love;

they, they are the object of your devotion. 5 

You pour out liquid offerings to them,

you make an offering.

Because of these things I will seek vengeance. 6 

57:7 On every high, elevated hill you prepare your bed;

you go up there to offer sacrifices.

57:8 Behind the door and doorpost you put your symbols. 7 

Indeed, 8  you depart from me 9  and go up

and invite them into bed with you. 10 

You purchase favors from them, 11 

you love their bed,

and gaze longingly 12  on their genitals. 13 

1 tc The Hebrew text reads literally, “offspring of an adulterer [masculine] and [one who] has committed adultery.” Perhaps the text has suffered from transposition of vav (ו) and tav (ת) and מְנָאֵף וַתִּזְנֶה (mÿnaef vattizneh) should be emended to מְנָאֶפֶת וְזֹנָה (mÿnaefet vÿzonah, “an adulteress and a prostitute”). Both singular nouns would be understood in a collective sense. Most modern English versions render both forms as nouns.

2 tn Heb “Are you not children of rebellion, offspring of a lie?” The rhetorical question anticipates the answer, “Of course you are!”

3 tn Heb “inflame yourselves”; NRSV “burn with lust.” This verse alludes to the practice of ritual sex that accompanied pagan fertility rites.

4 sn This apparently alludes to the practice of child sacrifice (cf. TEV, CEV, NLT).

5 tn Heb “among the smooth stones of the stream [is] your portion, they, they [are] your lot.” The next line indicates idols are in view.

6 tn The text reads literally, “Because of these am I relenting?” If the prefixed interrogative particle is retained at the beginning of the sentence, then the question would be rhetorical, with the Niphal of נָחָם (nakham) probably being used in the sense of “relent, change one’s mind.” One could translate: “Because of these things, how can I relent?” However, the initial letter he may be dittographic (note the final he [ה] on the preceding word). In this case one may understand the verb in the sense of “console oneself, seek vengeance,” as in 1:24.

7 tn The precise referent of זִכָּרוֹן (zikkaron) in this context is uncertain. Elsewhere the word refers to a memorial or commemorative sign. Here it likely refers to some type of idolatrous symbol.

8 tn Or “for” (KJV, NRSV).

9 tc The Hebrew text reads literally, “from me you uncover.” The translation assumes an emendation of the Piel form גִּלִּית (gillit, “you uncover”), which has no object expressed here, to the Qal גָּלִית (galit, “you depart”).

10 tn Heb “you make wide your bed” (NASB similar).

11 tc Heb “and you [second masculine singular, unless the form be taken as third feminine singular] cut for yourself [feminine singular] from them.” Most English translations retain the MT reading in spite of at least three problems. This section makes significant use of feminine verbs and noun suffixes because of the sexual imagery. The verb in question is likely a 2nd person masculine singular verb. Nevertheless, this kind of fluctuation in gender appears elsewhere (GKC 127-28 §47.k and 462 §144.p; cf. Jer 3:5; Ezek 22:4; 23:32; cf. J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah [NICOT], 2:473, n. 13). Secondly, when this verbal root signifies establishing a covenant, it is normally accompanied by the noun for “covenant” (בְּרִית, bÿrit). Finally, this juxtaposition of the verb “to cut” and “covenant” normally is followed by the preposition “with,” while here it is “from.” The translation above assumes an emendation of וַתִּכְרָת (vatikhrah, “and you cut”) to וְכָרִית (vÿkharit, “and you purchase”) from the root כָּרָה (kharah); see HALOT 497 s.v. II כרה.

12 tn The Hebrew text has simply חָזָה (khazah, “gaze”). The adverb “longingly” is interpretive (see the context, where sexual lust is depicted).

13 tn Heb “[at] a hand you gaze.” The term יָד (yad, “hand”) probably has the sense of “power, manhood” here, where it is used, as in Ugaritic, as a euphemism for the genitals. See HALOT 387 s.v. I יָד.



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