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Isaiah 8:19

Context
Darkness Turns to Light as an Ideal King Arrives

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 

Isaiah 19:3

Context

19:3 The Egyptians will panic, 4 

and I will confuse their strategy. 5 

They will seek guidance from the idols and from the spirits of the dead,

from the pits used to conjure up underworld spirits, and from the magicians. 6 

1 tn It is uncertain if the prophet or the Lord is speaking in vv. 19-22. If the latter, then vv. 19-22 resume the speech recorded in vv. 12-15, after the prophet’s response in vv. 16-18.

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 (baalat-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 “and the spirit of Egypt will be laid waste in its midst.”

5 tn The verb בָּלַע (bala’, “confuse”) is a homonym of the more common בָּלַע (bala’, “swallow”); see HALOT 135 s.v. I בלע.

6 tn Heb “they will inquire of the idols and of the spirits of the dead and of the ritual pits and of the magicians.” Hebrew אוֹב (’ov, “ritual pit”) refers to a pit used by a magician to conjure up underworld spirits. See the note on “incantations” in 8:19.



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