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Isaiah 9:11-12

Context

9:11 Then the Lord provoked 1  their adversaries to attack them, 2 

he stirred up 3  their enemies –

9:12 Syria from the east,

and the Philistines from the west,

they gobbled up Israelite territory. 4 

Despite all this, his anger does not subside,

and his hand is ready to strike again. 5 

1 tn The translation assumes that the prefixed verb with vav (ו) consecutive continues the narrative of past judgment.

2 tc The Hebrew text reads literally, “adversaries of Rezin against him [i.e., them].” The next verse describes how the Syrians (over whom Rezin ruled, see 7:1, 8) and the Philistines encroached on Israel’s territory. Since the Syrians and Israelites were allies by 735 b.c. (see 7:1), the hostilities described probably occurred earlier, while Israel was still pro-Assyrian. In this case one might understand the phrase צָרֵי רְצִין (tsare rÿtsin, “adversaries of Rezin”) as meaning “adversaries sent from Rezin.” However, another option, the one chosen in the translation above, is to emend the phrase to צָרָיו (tsarayv, “his [i.e., their] adversaries”). This creates tighter parallelism with the next line (note “his [i.e., their] enemies”). The phrase in the Hebrew text may be explained as virtually dittographic.

3 tn The prefixed verbal form is understood as a preterite, used, as is often the case in poetry, without vav consecutive. Note that prefixed forms with vav consecutive both precede (וַיְשַׂגֵּב, vaysaggev, “and he provoked”) and follow in v. 12 (וַיֹּאכְלוּ, vayyokhÿlu, “and they devoured”) this verb.

4 tn Heb “and they devoured Israel with all the mouth”; NIV “with open mouth”; NLT “With bared fangs.”

5 tn Heb “in all this his anger is not turned, and still his hand is outstretched.” One could translate in the past tense here (and in 9:17b and 21b), but the appearance of the refrain in 10:4b, where it follows a woe oracle prophesying a future judgment, suggests it is a dramatic portrait of the judge which did not change throughout this period of past judgment and will remain unchanged in the future. The English present tense is chosen to best reflect this dramatic mood. (See also 5:25b, where the refrain appears following a dramatic description of coming judgment.)



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