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Isaiah 34:5-17

Context

34:5 He says, 1  “Indeed, my sword has slaughtered heavenly powers. 2 

Look, it now descends on Edom, 3 

on the people I will annihilate in judgment.”

34:6 The Lord’s sword is dripping with blood,

it is covered 4  with fat;

it drips 5  with the blood of young rams and goats

and is covered 6  with the fat of rams’ kidneys.

For the Lord is holding a sacrifice 7  in Bozrah, 8 

a bloody 9  slaughter in the land of Edom.

34:7 Wild oxen will be slaughtered 10  along with them,

as well as strong bulls. 11 

Their land is drenched with blood,

their soil is covered with fat.

34:8 For the Lord has planned a day of revenge, 12 

a time when he will repay Edom for her hostility toward Zion. 13 

34:9 Edom’s 14  streams will be turned into pitch

and her soil into brimstone;

her land will become burning pitch.

34:10 Night and day it will burn; 15 

its smoke will ascend continually.

Generation after generation it will be a wasteland

and no one will ever pass through it again.

34:11 Owls and wild animals 16  will live there, 17 

all kinds of wild birds 18  will settle in it.

The Lord 19  will stretch out over her

the measuring line of ruin

and the plumb line 20  of destruction. 21 

34:12 Her nobles will have nothing left to call a kingdom

and all her officials will disappear. 22 

34:13 Her fortresses will be overgrown with thorns;

thickets and weeds will grow 23  in her fortified cities.

Jackals will settle there;

ostriches will live there. 24 

34:14 Wild animals and wild dogs will congregate there; 25 

wild goats will bleat to one another. 26 

Yes, nocturnal animals 27  will rest there

and make for themselves a nest. 28 

34:15 Owls 29  will make nests and lay eggs 30  there;

they will hatch them and protect them. 31 

Yes, hawks 32  will gather there,

each with its mate.

34:16 Carefully read the scroll of the Lord! 33 

Not one of these creatures will be missing, 34 

none will lack a mate. 35 

For the Lord has issued the decree, 36 

and his own spirit gathers them. 37 

34:17 He assigns them their allotment; 38 

he measures out their assigned place. 39 

They will live there 40  permanently;

they will settle in it through successive generations.

1 tn The words “he says” are supplied in the translation for clarification. The Lord speaks at this point.

2 tn Heb “indeed [or “for”] my sword is drenched in the heavens.” The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa has תראה (“[my sword] appeared [in the heavens]”), but this is apparently an attempt to make sense out of a difficult metaphor. Cf. NIV “My sword has drunk its fill in the heavens.”

sn In v. 4 the “host of the heaven” refers to the heavenly luminaries (stars and planets, see, among others, Deut 4:19; 17:3; 2 Kgs 17:16; 21:3, 5; 23:4-5; 2 Chr 33:3, 5) that populate the divine/heavenly assembly in mythological and prescientific Israelite thought (see Job 38:7; Isa 14:13). As in 24:21, they are viewed here as opposing God and being defeated in battle.

3 sn Edom is mentioned here as epitomizing the hostile nations that oppose God.

4 tn The verb is a rare Hotpaal passive form. See GKC 150 §54.h.

5 tn The words “it drips” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

6 tn The words “and is covered” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

7 tn Heb “for there is a sacrifice to the Lord.”

8 sn The Lord’s judgment of Edom is compared to a bloody sacrificial scene.

9 tn Heb “great” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).

10 tn Heb “will go down”; NAB “shall be struck down.”

11 tn Heb “and bulls along with strong ones.” Perhaps this refers to the leaders.

12 tn Heb “for a day of vengeance [is] for the Lord.”

13 tn Heb “a year of repayment for the strife of Zion.” The translation assumes that רִיב (riv) refers to Edom’s hostility toward Zion. Another option is to understand רִיב (riv) as referring to the Lord’s taking up Zion’s cause. In this case one might translate, “a time when he will repay Edom and vindicate Zion.”

14 tn Heb “her”; the referent (Edom) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

15 tn Heb “it will not be extinguished.”

16 tn קָאַת (qaat) refers to some type of bird (cf. Lev 11:18; Deut 14:17) that was typically found near ruins (see Zeph 2:14). קִפּוֹד (qippod) may also refer to a type of bird (NAB “hoot owl”; NIV “screech owl”; TEV “ravens”), but some have suggested a rodent may be in view (cf. NCV “small animals”; ASV “porcupine”; NASB, NRSV “hedgehog”).

17 tn Heb “will possess it” (so NIV).

18 tn The Hebrew text has יַנְשׁוֹף וְעֹרֵב (yanshof vÿorev). Both the יַנְשׁוֹף (“owl”; see Lev 11:17; Deut 14:16) and עֹרֵב (“raven”; Lev 11:15; Deut 14:14) were types of wild birds.

19 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

20 tn Heb “stones,” i.e., the stones used in a plumb bob.

21 sn The metaphor in v. 11b emphasizes that God has carefully planned Edom’s demise.

22 tn Heb “will be nothing”; NCV, TEV, NLT “will all be gone.”

23 tn The words “will grow” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

24 tc Heb “and she will be a settlement for wild dogs, a dwelling place for ostriches.” The translation assumes an emendation of חָצִיר (khatsir, “grass”) to חָצֵר (khatser, “settlement”). One of the Qumran scrolls of Isaiah (1QIsaa) supports this emendation (cf. HALOT 344 s.v. II חָצִיר)

25 tn Heb “will meet” (so NIV); NLT “will mingle there.”

26 tn Heb “and a goat will call to its neighbor.”

27 tn The precise meaning of לִּילִית (lilit) is unclear, though in this context the word certainly refers to some type of wild animal or bird. The word appears to be related to לַיְלָה (laylah, “night”). Some interpret it as the name of a female night demon, on the basis of an apparent Akkadian cognate used as the name of a demon. Later Jewish legends also identified Lilith as a demon. Cf. NRSV “Lilith.”

28 tn Heb “and will find for themselves a resting place.”

29 tn Hebrew קִפּוֹז (qippoz) occurs only here; the precise meaning of the word is uncertain.

30 tn For this proposed meaning for Hebrew מָלַט (malat), see HALOT 589 s.v. I מלט.

31 tn Heb “and brood [over them] in her shadow.”

32 tn The precise meaning of דַּיָּה (dayyah) is uncertain, though the term appears to refer to some type of bird of prey, perhaps a vulture.

33 tn Heb “Seek from upon the scroll of the Lord and read.”

sn It is uncertain what particular scroll is referred to here. Perhaps the phrase simply refers to this prophecy and is an admonition to pay close attention to the details of the message.

34 tn Heb “one from these will not be missing.” הֵנָּה (hennah, “these”) is feminine plural in the Hebrew text. It may refer only to the birds mentioned in v. 15b or may include all of the creatures listed in vv. 14b-15 (all of which are identified with feminine nouns).

35 tn Heb “each its mate they will not lack.”

36 tc The Hebrew text reads literally, “for a mouth, it has commanded.” The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa and a few medieval mss have פִּיהוּ (pihu, “his mouth [has commanded]”), while a few other medieval mss read פִּי יְהוָה (pi yÿhvah, “the mouth of the Lord [has commanded]”).

37 tn Heb “and his spirit, he gathers them.” The pronominal suffix (“them”) is feminine plural, referring to the birds mentioned in v. 15b or to all of the creatures listed in vv. 14b-15 (all of which are identified with feminine nouns).

38 tn Heb “and he causes the lot to fall for them.” Once again the pronominal suffix (“them”) is feminine plural, referring to the birds mentioned in v. 15b or to all of the creatures listed in vv. 14b-15 (all of which are identified with feminine nouns).

39 tn Heb “and his hand divides for them with a measuring line.” The pronominal suffix (“them”) now switches to masculine plural, referring to all the animals and birds mentioned in vv. 11-15, some of which were identified with masculine nouns. This signals closure for this portion of the speech, which began in v. 11. The following couplet (v. 17b) forms an inclusio with v. 11a through verbal repetition.

40 tn Heb “will possess it” (so NIV); NCV “they will own that land forever.”



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