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Isaiah 29:9-12

Context
God’s People are Spiritually Insensitive

29:9 You will be shocked and amazed! 1 

You are totally blind! 2 

They are drunk, 3  but not because of wine;

they stagger, 4  but not because of beer.

29:10 For the Lord has poured out on you

a strong urge to sleep deeply. 5 

He has shut your eyes (the prophets),

and covered your heads (the seers).

29:11 To you this entire prophetic revelation 6  is like words in a sealed scroll. When they hand it to one who can read 7  and say, “Read this,” he responds, “I can’t, because it is sealed.” 29:12 Or when they hand the scroll to one who can’t read 8  and say, “Read this,” he says, “I can’t read.” 9 

1 tn The form הִתְמַהְמְהוּ (hitmahmÿhu) is a Hitpalpel imperative from מָהַהּ (mahah, “hesitate”). If it is retained, one might translate “halt and be amazed.” The translation assumes an emendation to הִתַּמְּהוּ (hittammÿhu), a Hitpael imperative from תָּמַה (tamah, “be amazed”). In this case, the text, like Hab 1:5, combines the Hitpael and Qal imperatival forms of תָּמַה (tamah). A literal translation might be “Shock yourselves and be shocked!” The repetition of sound draws attention to the statement. The imperatives here have the force of an emphatic assertion. On this use of the imperative in Hebrew, see GKC 324 §110.c and IBHS 572 §34.4c.

2 tn Heb “Blind yourselves and be blind!” The Hitpalpel and Qal imperatival forms of שָׁעַע (shaa’, “be blind”) are combined to draw attention to the statement. The imperatives have the force of an emphatic assertion.

3 tc Some prefer to emend the perfect form of the verb to an imperative (e.g., NAB, NCV, NRSV), since the people are addressed in the immediately preceding and following contexts.

4 tc Some prefer to emend the perfect form of the verb to an imperative (e.g., NAB, NCV, NRSV), since the people are addressed in the immediately preceding and following contexts.

5 tn Heb “a disposition [or “spirit”] of deep sleep.” Through this mixed metaphor (sleep is likened to a liquid which one pours and in turn symbolizes spiritual dullness) the prophet emphasizes that God himself has given the people over to their spiritual insensitivity as a form of judgment.

6 tn Heb “vision” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV).

7 tn Heb “one who knows a/the scroll.”

8 tn Heb “and if the scroll is handed to one who does not know a scroll.”

9 tn Heb “I do not know a scroll.”



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