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Isaiah 5:13-14

Context

5:13 Therefore my 1  people will be deported 2 

because of their lack of understanding.

Their 3  leaders will have nothing to eat, 4 

their 5  masses will have nothing to drink. 6 

5:14 So Death 7  will open up its throat,

and open wide its mouth; 8 

Zion’s dignitaries and masses will descend into it,

including those who revel and celebrate within her. 9 

Isaiah 13:6-16

Context

13:6 Wail, for the Lord’s day of judgment 10  is near;

it comes with all the destructive power of the sovereign judge. 11 

13:7 For this reason all hands hang limp, 12 

every human heart loses its courage. 13 

13:8 They panic –

cramps and pain seize hold of them

like those of a woman who is straining to give birth.

They look at one another in astonishment;

their faces are flushed red. 14 

13:9 Look, the Lord’s day of judgment 15  is coming;

it is a day of cruelty and savage, raging anger, 16 

destroying 17  the earth 18 

and annihilating its sinners.

13:10 Indeed the stars in the sky and their constellations

no longer give out their light; 19 

the sun is darkened as soon as it rises,

and the moon does not shine. 20 

13:11 21 I will punish the world for its evil, 22 

and wicked people for their sin.

I will put an end to the pride of the insolent,

I will bring down the arrogance of tyrants. 23 

13:12 I will make human beings more scarce than pure gold,

and people more scarce 24  than gold from Ophir.

13:13 So I will shake the heavens, 25 

and the earth will shake loose from its foundation, 26 

because of the fury of the Lord who commands armies,

in the day he vents his raging anger. 27 

13:14 Like a frightened gazelle 28 

or a sheep with no shepherd,

each will turn toward home, 29 

each will run to his homeland.

13:15 Everyone who is caught will be stabbed;

everyone who is seized 30  will die 31  by the sword.

13:16 Their children will be smashed to pieces before their very eyes;

their houses will be looted

and their wives raped.

1 sn It is not certain if the prophet or the Lord is speaking at this point.

2 tn The suffixed (perfect) form of the verb is used; in this way the coming event is described for rhetorical effect as occurring or as already completed.

3 tn The third masculine singular suffix refers back to “my people.”

4 tn Heb “Their glory will be men of hunger.” כָּבוֹד (kavod, “glory”) is in opposition to הָמוֹן (hamon, “masses”) and refers here to the rich and prominent members of the nation. Some prefer to repoint מְתֵי (mÿtey, “men of”) as מִתֵי (mitey, “dead ones of”).

5 tn The third masculine singular suffix refers back to “my people.”

6 tn Heb “and their masses will be parched [by] thirst.”

7 tn Heb “Sheol” (so ASV, NASB, NRSV); the underworld, the land of the dead, according to the OT world view. Cf. NAB “the nether world”; TEV, CEV “the world of the dead”; NLT “the grave.”

8 tn Heb “so Sheol will make wide its throat, and open its mouth without limit.”

sn Death is portrayed in both the OT (Prov 1:12; Hab 2:5) and Canaanite myth as voraciously swallowing up its prey. In the myths Death is portrayed as having “a lip to the earth, a lip to the heavens … and a tongue to the stars.” (G. R. Driver, Canaanite Myths and Legends, 69, text 5 ii 2-3.) Death describes his own appetite as follows: “But my appetite is the appetite of lions in the waste…If it is in very truth my desire to consume ‘clay’ [a reference to his human victims], then in truth by the handfuls I must eat it, whether my seven portions [indicating fullness and completeness] are already in the bowl or whether Nahar [the god of the river responsible for ferrying victims from the land of the living to the land of the dead] has to mix the cup.” (Driver, 68-69, text 5 i 14-22).

9 tn Heb “and her splendor and her masses will go down, and her tumult and the one who exults in her.” The antecedent of the four feminine singular pronominal suffixes used in v. 14b is unclear. The likely referent is personified Zion/Jerusalem (see 3:25-26; 4:4-5).

10 tn Heb “the day of the Lord” (so KJV, NAB).

11 tn Heb “like destruction from the sovereign judge it comes.” The comparative preposition (כְּ, kÿ) has here the rhetorical nuance, “in every way like.” The point is that the destruction unleashed will have all the earmarks of divine judgment. One could paraphrase, “it comes as only destructive divine judgment can.” On this use of the preposition in general, see GKC 376 §118.x.

sn The divine name used here is שַׁדַּי (shaddai, “Shaddai”). Shaddai (or El Shaddai) is the sovereign king/judge of the world who grants life/blesses and kills/judges. In Genesis he blesses the patriarchs with fertility and promises numerous descendants. Outside Genesis he both blesses/protects and takes away life/happiness. The patriarchs knew God primarily as El Shaddai (Exod 6:3). While the origin and meaning of this name is uncertain (see discussion below) its significance is clear. The name is used in contexts where God appears as the source of fertility and life. In Gen 17:1-8 he appears to Abram, introduces himself as El Shaddai, and announces his intention to make the patriarch fruitful. In the role of El Shaddai God repeats these words (now elevated to the status of a decree) to Jacob (35:11). Earlier Isaac had pronounced a blessing upon Jacob in which he asked El Shaddai to make Jacob fruitful (28:3). Jacob later prays that his sons will be treated with mercy when they return to Egypt with Benjamin (43:14). The fertility theme is not as apparent here, though one must remember that Jacob viewed Benjamin as the sole remaining son of the favored and once-barren Rachel (cf. 29:31; 30:22-24; 35:16-18). It is quite natural that he would appeal to El Shaddai to preserve Benjamin’s life, for it was El Shaddai’s miraculous power which made it possible for Rachel to give him sons in the first place. In 48:3 Jacob, prior to blessing Joseph’s sons, tells him how El Shaddai appeared to him at Bethel (cf. chapter 28) and promised to make him fruitful. When blessing Joseph on his deathbed Jacob refers to Shaddai (we should probably read “El Shaddai,” along with a few Hebrew mss, the Samaritan Pentateuch, LXX, and Syriac) as the one who provides abundant blessings, including “blessings of the breast and womb” (49:25). (The direct association of the name with שָׁדַיִם [shadayim, “breasts”] suggests the name might mean “the one of the breast” [i.e., the one who gives fertility], but the juxtaposition is probably better explained as wordplay. Note the wordplay involving the name and the root שָׁדַד [shadad, “destroy”] here in Isa 13:6 and in Joel 1:15.) Outside Genesis the name Shaddai (minus El, “God”) is normally used when God is viewed as the sovereign king who blesses/protects or curses/brings judgment. The name appears in the introduction to two of Balaam’s oracles (Num 24:4, 16) of blessing upon Israel. Naomi employs the name when accusing the Lord of treating her bitterly by taking the lives of her husband and sons (Ruth 1:20-21). In Ps 68:14; Isa 13:6; and Joel 1:15 Shaddai judges his enemies through warfare, while Ps 91:1 depicts him as the protector of his people. (In Ezek 1:24 and 10:5 the sound of the cherubs’ wings is compared to Shaddai’s powerful voice. The reference may be to the mighty divine warrior’s battle cry which accompanies his angry judgment.) Last but not least, the name occurs 31 times in the Book of Job. Job and his “friends” assume that Shaddai is the sovereign king of the world (11:7; 37:23a) who is the source of life (33:4b) and is responsible for maintaining justice (8:3; 34:10-12; 37:23b). He provides abundant blessings, including children (22:17-18; 29:4-6), but can also discipline, punish, and destroy (5:17; 6:4; 21:20; 23:16). It is not surprising to see the name so often in this book, where the theme of God’s justice is primary and even called into question (24:1; 27:2). The most likely proposal is that the name means “God, the one of the mountain” (an Akkadian cognate means “mountain,” to which Heb. שַׁד [shad, “breast”] is probably related). For a discussion of proposed derivations see T. N. D. Mettinger, In Search of God, 70-71. The name may originally depict God as the sovereign judge who, in Canaanite style, rules from a sacred mountain. Isa 14:13 and Ezek 28:14, 16 associate such a mountain with God, while Ps 48:2 refers to Zion as “Zaphon,” the Canaanite Olympus from which the high god El ruled. (In Isa 14 the Canaanite god El may be in view. Note that Isaiah pictures pagan kings as taunting the king of Babylon, suggesting that pagan mythology may provide the background for the language and imagery.)

12 tn Heb “drop”; KJV “be faint”; ASV “be feeble”; NAB “fall helpless.”

13 tn Heb “melts” (so NAB).

14 tn Heb “their faces are faces of flames.” Their faces are flushed with fear and embarrassment.

15 tn Heb “the day of the Lord.”

16 tn Heb “[with] cruelty, and fury, and rage of anger.” Three synonyms for “anger” are piled up at the end of the line to emphasize the extraordinary degree of divine anger that will be exhibited in this judgment.

17 tn Heb “making desolate.”

18 tn Or “land” (KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NLT).

19 tn Heb “do not flash forth their light.”

20 tn Heb “does not shed forth its light.”

21 sn The Lord is definitely speaking (again?) at this point. See the note at v. 4.

22 tn Or “I will bring disaster on the world.” Hebrew רָעָה (raah) could refer to the judgment (i.e., disaster, calamity) or to the evil that prompts it. The structure of the parallel line favors the latter interpretation.

23 tn Or perhaps, “the violent”; cf. NASB, NIV “the ruthless.”

24 tn The verb is supplied in the translation from the first line. The verb in the first line (“I will make scarce”) does double duty in the parallel structure of the verse.

25 tn Or “the sky.” The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heavens” or “sky” depending on the context.

26 tn Heb “from its place” (so NAB, NASB, NIV, NCV).

27 tn Heb “and in the day of the raging of his anger.”

28 tn Or “like a gazelle being chased.” The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.

29 tn Heb “his people” (cf. KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV) or “his nation” (cf. TEV “their own countries”).

30 tn Heb “carried off,” i.e., grabbed from the fleeing crowd. See HALOT 764 s.v. ספה.

31 tn Heb “will fall” (so KJV, NIV, NRSV); NLT “will be run through with a sword.”



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