8:19 1 They will say to you, “Seek oracles at the pits used to conjure up underworld spirits, from the magicians who chirp and mutter incantations. 2 Should people not seek oracles from their gods, by asking the dead about the destiny of the living?” 3 8:20 Then you must recall the Lord’s instructions and the prophetic testimony of what would happen. 4 Certainly they say such things because their minds are spiritually darkened. 5 8:21 They will pass through the land 6 destitute and starving. Their hunger will make them angry, 7 and they will curse their king and their God 8 as they look upward. 8:22 When one looks out over the land, he sees 9 distress and darkness, gloom 10 and anxiety, darkness and people forced from the land. 11 9:1 (8:23) 12 The gloom will be dispelled for those who were anxious. 13
In earlier times he 14 humiliated
the land of Zebulun,
and the land of Naphtali; 15
but now he brings honor 16
to the way of the sea,
the region beyond the Jordan,
and Galilee of the nations. 17
9:2 (9:1) The people walking in darkness
see a bright light; 18
on those who live in a land of deep darkness. 19
you give them great joy. 21
They rejoice in your presence
as harvesters rejoice;
as warriors celebrate 22 when they divide up the plunder.
9:4 For their oppressive yoke
and the club that strikes their shoulders,
the cudgel the oppressor uses on them, 23
you have shattered, as in the day of Midian’s defeat. 24
and every garment dragged through blood
is used as fuel for the fire.
a son has been given to us.
He shoulders responsibility
and is called: 27
Extraordinary Strategist, 28
Mighty God, 29
Everlasting Father, 30
Prince of Peace. 31
and he will bring immeasurable prosperity. 33
He will rule on David’s throne
and over David’s kingdom, 34
establishing it 35 and strengthening it
by promoting justice and fairness, 36
from this time forward and forevermore.
The Lord’s intense devotion to his people 37 will accomplish this.
2 tn Heb “inquire of the ritual pits and of the magicians who chirp and mutter.” The Hebrew word אוֹב (’ov, “ritual pit”) refers to a pit used by a magician to conjure up underworld spirits. In 1 Sam 28:7 the witch of Endor is called a אוֹב-בַּעֲלַת (ba’alat-’ov, “owner of a ritual pit”). See H. Hoffner, “Second Millennium Antecedents to the Hebrew ’OñBù,” JBL 86 (1967): 385-401.
3 tn Heb “Should a nation not inquire of its gods on behalf of the living, (by inquiring) of the dead?” These words appear to be a continuation of the quotation begun in the first part of the verse. אֱלֹהָיו (’elohayv) may be translated “its gods” or “its God.” Some take the second half of the verse as the prophet’s (or the Lord’s) rebuke of the people who advise seeking oracles at the ritual pits, but in this case the words “the dead on behalf of the living” are difficult to explain.
4 tn Heb “to [the] instruction and to [the] testimony.” The words “then you must recall” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. In the Hebrew text vv. 19-20a are one long sentence, reading literally, “When they say to you…, to the instruction and to the testimony.” On the identity of the “instruction” and “testimony” see the notes at v. 16.
5 tn Heb “If they do not speak according to this word, [it is] because it has no light of dawn.” The literal translation suggests that “this word” refers to the instruction/testimony. However, it is likely that אִם־לֹא (’im-lo’) is asseverative here, as in 5:9. In this case “this word” refers to the quotation recorded in v. 19. For a discussion of the problem see J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 230, n. 9. The singular pronoun in the second half of the verse is collective, referring back to the nation (see v. 19b).
6 tn Heb “he will pass through it.” The subject of the collective singular verb is the nation. (See the preceding note.) The immediately preceding context supplies no antecedent for “it” (a third feminine singular suffix in the Hebrew text); the suffix may refer to the land, which would be a reasonable referent with a verb of motion. Note also that אֶרֶץ (’erets, “land”) does appear at the beginning of the next verse.
8 tn Or “gods” (NAB, NRSV, CEV).
9 tn Heb “and behold” (so KJV, ASV, NASB).
10 tn The precise meaning of מְעוּף (mÿ’uf) is uncertain; the word occurs only here. See BDB 734 s.v. מָעוּף.
11 tn Heb “ and darkness, pushed.” The word מְנֻדָּח (mÿnudakh) appears to be a Pual participle from נדח (“push”), but the Piel is unattested for this verb and the Pual occurs only here.
12 sn In the Hebrew text (BHS) the chapter division comes one verse later than in the English Bible; 9:1 (8:23 HT). Thus 9:2-21 in the English Bible = 9:1-20 in the Hebrew text. Beginning with 10:1 the verse numbers in the English Bible and the Hebrew Bible are again the same.
13 tn The Hebrew text reads, “Indeed there is no gloom for the one to whom there was anxiety for her.” The feminine singular pronominal suffix “her” must refer to the land (cf. vv. 22a, 23b). So one could translate, “Indeed there will be no gloom for the land which was anxious.” In this case the statement introduces the positive message to follow. Some assume an emendation of לֹא (lo’, “no”) to לוֹ (lo, “to him”) and of לָהּ (lah, “to her”) to לוֹ (lo, “to him”), yielding this literal reading: “indeed there is gloom for him, for the one to whom there was anxiety for him.” In this case the statement concludes the preceding description of judgment.
14 tn The Lord must be understood as the subject of the two verbs in this verse.
15 sn The statement probably alludes to the Assyrian conquest of Israel in ca. 734-733
16 tn Heb Just as in earlier times he humiliated…, [in] the latter times he has brought honor.” The main verbs in vv. 1b-4 are Hebrew perfects. The prophet takes his rhetorical stance in the future age of restoration and describes future events as if they have already occurred. To capture the dramatic effect of the original text, the translation uses the English present or present perfect.
17 sn These three geographical designations may refer to provinces established by the Assyrians in 734-733
19 tn Traditionally צַלְמָוֶת (tsalmavet) has been interpreted as a compound noun, meaning “shadow of death” (so KJV, ASV, NIV), but usage indicates that the word, though it sometimes refers to death, means “darkness.” The term should probably be repointed as an abstract noun צַלְמוּת (tsalmut). See the note at Ps 23:4.
21 tc The Hebrew consonantal text reads “You multiply the nation, you do not make great the joy.” The particle לֹא (lo’, “not”) is obviously incorrect; the marginal reading has לוֹ (lo, “to him”). In this case, one should translate, “You multiply the nation, you increase his (i.e., their) joy.” However, the parallelism is tighter if one emends הַגּוֹי לוֹ (hagoy lo, “the nation, to him”) to הַגִּילָה (haggilah, “the joy,” a noun attested in Isa 65:18), which corresponds to הַשִּׂמְחָה (hasimkhah, “the joy”) later in the verse (H. Wildberger, Isaiah, 1:386). As attractive as this reading is, it has not textual evidence supporting it. The MT reading (accepting the marginal reading “to him” for the negative particle “not”) affirms that Yahweh caused the nation to grow in population and increased their joy.
22 tn Heb “as they are happy.” The word “warriors” is supplied in the translation to clarify the word picture. This last simile comes close to reality, for vv. 4-5 indicate that the people have won a great military victory over their oppressors.
23 tn Heb “for the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the scepter of the oppressor against him.” The singular pronouns are collective, referring to the people. The oppressed nation is compared to an ox weighed down by a heavy yoke and an animal that is prodded and beaten.
25 tn Heb “Indeed every boot marching with shaking.” On the meaning of סְאוֹן (sÿ’on, “boot”) and the related denominative verb, both of which occur only here, see HALOT 738 s.v. סְאוֹן.
27 tn Or “and dominion was on his shoulders and he called his name.” The prefixed verbs with vav (ו) consecutive are used with the same rhetorical sense as the perfects in v. 6a. See the preceding note. There is great debate over the syntactical structure of the verse. No subject is indicated for the verb “he called.” If all the titles that follow are ones given to the king, then the subject of the verb must be indefinite, “one calls.” However, some have suggested that one to three of the titles that follow refer to God, not the king. For example, the traditional punctuation of the Hebrew text suggests the translation, “and the Extraordinary Strategist, the Mighty God calls his name, ‘Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’”
28 tn Some have seen two titles here (“Wonderful” and “Counselor,” cf. KJV, ASV). However, the pattern of the following three titles (each contains two elements) and the use of the roots פָּלַא (pala’) and יָעַץ (ya’ats) together in Isa 25:1 (cf. כִּי עָשִׂיתָ פֶּלֶא עֵצוֹת מֵרָחוֹק אֱמוּנָה אֹמֶן) and 28:29 (cf. הִפְלִיא עֵצָה) suggest otherwise. The term יוֹעֵץ (yo’ets) could be taken as appositional (genitive or otherwise) of species (“a wonder, i.e., a wonder as a counselor,” cf. NAB “Wonder-Counselor”) or as a substantival participle for which פָּלַא provides the direct object (“one who counsels wonders”). יוֹעֵץ is used as a royal title elsewhere (cf. Mic 4:9). Here it probably refers to the king’s ability to devise military strategy, as suggested by the context (cf. vv. 3-4 and the following title אֵל גִּבּוֹר, ’el gibor). In Isa 11:2 (also a description of this king) עֵצָה (’etsah) is linked with גְּבוּרָה (gÿvurah, the latter being typically used of military might, cf. BDB 150 s.v.). Note also עֵצָה וּגְבוּרָה לַמִּלְחָמָה in Isa 36:5. פֶּלֶא (pele’) is typically used of God (cf. however Lam 1:9). Does this suggest the deity of the messianic ruler? The NT certainly teaches he is God, but did Isaiah necessarily have this in mind over 700 years before his birth? Since Isa 11:2 points out that this king will receive the spirit of the Lord, which will enable him to counsel, it is possible to argue that the king’s counsel is “extraordinary” because it finds its source in the divine spirit. Thus this title does not necessarily suggest that the ruler is deity.
29 tn גִּבּוֹר (gibbor) is probably an attributive adjective (“mighty God”), though one might translate “God is a warrior” or “God is mighty.” Scholars have interpreted this title is two ways. A number of them have argued that the title portrays the king as God’s representative on the battlefield, whom God empowers in a supernatural way (see J. H. Hayes and S. A. Irvine, Isaiah, 181-82). They contend that this sense seems more likely in the original context of the prophecy. They would suggest that having read the NT, we might in retrospect interpret this title as indicating the coming king’s deity, but it is unlikely that Isaiah or his audience would have understood the title in such a bold way. Ps 45:6 addresses the Davidic king as “God” because he ruled and fought as God’s representative on earth. Ancient Near Eastern art and literature picture gods training kings for battle, bestowing special weapons, and intervening in battle. According to Egyptian propaganda, the Hittites described Rameses II as follows: “No man is he who is among us, It is Seth great-of-strength, Baal in person; Not deeds of man are these his doings, They are of one who is unique” (See Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, 2:67). According to proponents of this view, Isa 9:6 probably envisions a similar kind of response when friends and foes alike look at the Davidic king in full battle regalia. When the king’s enemies oppose him on the battlefield, they are, as it were, fighting against God himself. The other option is to regard this title as a reference to God, confronting Isaiah’s readers with the divinity of this promised “child.” The use of this same title that clearly refers to God in a later passage (Isa 10:21) supports this interpretation. Other passages depict Yahweh as the great God and great warrior (Deut 10:17; Jer. 32:18). Although this connection of a child who is born with deity is unparalleled in any earlier biblical texts, Isaiah’s use of this title to make this connection represents Isaiah’s attempt (at God’s behest) to advance Israel in their understanding of the ideal Davidic king for whom they long.
30 tn This title must not be taken in an anachronistic Trinitarian sense. (To do so would be theologically problematic, for the “Son” is the messianic king and is distinct in his person from God the “Father.”) Rather, in its original context the title pictures the king as the protector of his people. For a similar use of “father” see Isa 22:21 and Job 29:16. This figurative, idiomatic use of “father” is not limited to the Bible. In a Phoenician inscription (ca. 850-800
31 tn This title pictures the king as one who establishes a safe socio-economic environment for his people. It hardly depicts him as a meek individual, for he establishes peace through military strength (as the preceding context and the first two royal titles indicate). His people experience safety and prosperity because their invincible king destroys their enemies. See Pss 72 and 144 for parallels to these themes.
32 tc The Hebrew text has לְםַרְבֵּה (lÿmarbeh), which is a corrupt reading. לם is dittographic; note the preceding word, שָׁלוֹם (shalom). The corrected text reads literally, “great is the dominion.”
34 tn Heb “over the throne of David, and over his kingdom.” The referent of the pronoun “his” (i.e., David) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
35 tn The feminine singular pronominal suffix on this form and the following one (translated “it” both times) refers back to the grammatically feminine noun “kingdom.”
36 tn Heb “with/by justice and fairness”; ASV “with justice and with righteousness.”
37 tn Heb “the zeal of the Lord.” In this context the Lord’s “zeal” refers to his intense devotion to and love for his people which prompts him to vindicate them and to fulfill his promises to David and the nation.