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Isaiah 9:1-2

Context
9:1 (8:23) 1  The gloom will be dispelled for those who were anxious. 2 

In earlier times he 3  humiliated

the land of Zebulun,

and the land of Naphtali; 4 

but now he brings honor 5 

to the way of the sea,

the region beyond the Jordan,

and Galilee of the nations. 6 

9:2 (9:1) The people walking in darkness

see a bright light; 7 

light shines

on those who live in a land of deep darkness. 8 

1 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.

2 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.

3 tn The Lord must be understood as the subject of the two verbs in this verse.

4 sn The statement probably alludes to the Assyrian conquest of Israel in ca. 734-733 b.c., when Tiglath-pileser III annexed much of Israel’s territory and reduced Samaria to a puppet state.

5 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.

6 sn These three geographical designations may refer to provinces established by the Assyrians in 734-733 b.c. The “way of the sea” is the province of Dor, along the Mediterranean coast, the “region beyond the Jordan” is the province of Gilead in Transjordan, and “Galilee of the nations” (a title that alludes to how the territory had been overrun by foreigners) is the province of Megiddo located west of the Sea of Galilee. See Y. Aharoni, Land of the Bible, 374.

7 sn The darkness symbolizes judgment and its effects (see 8:22); the light represents deliverance and its effects, brought about by the emergence of a conquering Davidic king (see vv. 3-6).

8 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.



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