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Isaiah 11:1-3

Context
An Ideal King Establishes a Kingdom of Peace

11:1 A shoot will grow out of Jesse’s 1  root stock,

a bud will sprout 2  from his roots.

11:2 The Lord’s spirit will rest on him 3 

a spirit that gives extraordinary wisdom, 4 

a spirit that provides the ability to execute plans, 5 

a spirit that produces absolute loyalty to the Lord. 6 

11:3 He will take delight in obeying the Lord. 7 

He will not judge by mere appearances, 8 

or make decisions on the basis of hearsay. 9 

1 sn The text mentions David’s father Jesse, instead of the great king himself. Perhaps this is done for rhetorical reasons to suggest that a new David, not just another disappointing Davidic descendant, will arise. Other prophets call the coming ideal Davidic king “David” or picture him as the second coming of David, as it were. See Jer 30:9; Ezek 34:23-24; 37:24-25; Hos 3:5; and Mic 5:2 (as well as the note there).

2 tc The Hebrew text has יִפְרֶה (yifreh, “will bear fruit,” from פָּרָה, parah), but the ancient versions, as well as the parallelism suggest that יִפְרַח (yifrakh, “will sprout”, from פָּרַח, parakh) is the better reading here. See J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:276, n. 2.

3 sn Like David (1 Sam 16:13), this king will be energized by the Lord’s spirit.

4 tn Heb “a spirit of wisdom and understanding.” The synonyms are joined here to emphasize the degree of wisdom he will possess. His wisdom will enable him to make just legal decisions (v. 3). A very similar phrase occurs in Eph 1:17.

5 tn Heb “a spirit of counsel [or “strategy”] and strength.” The construction is a hendiadys; the point is that he will have the strength/ability to execute the plans/strategies he devises. This ability will enable him to suppress oppressors and implement just policies (v. 4).

6 tn Heb “a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.” “Knowledge” is used here in its covenantal sense and refers to a recognition of God’s authority and a willingness to submit to it. See Jer 22:16. “Fear” here refers to a healthy respect for God’s authority which produces obedience. Taken together the two terms emphasize the single quality of loyalty to the Lord. This loyalty guarantees that he will make just legal decisions and implement just policies (vv. 4-5).

7 tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “and his smelling is in the fear of the Lord.” In Amos 5:21 the Hiphil of רוּחַ (ruakh, “smell”) carries the nuance of “smell with delight, get pleasure from.” There the Lord declares that he does not “smell with delight” (i.e., get pleasure from) Israel’s religious assemblies, which probably stand by metonymy for the incense offered during these festivals. In Isa 11:3 there is no sacrificial context to suggest such a use, but it is possible that “the fear of the Lord” is likened to incense. This coming king will get the same kind of delight from obeying (fearing) the Lord, as a deity does in the incense offered by worshipers. Some regard such an explanation as strained in this context, and prefer to omit this line from the text as a virtual dittograph of the preceding statement.

8 tn Heb “by what appears to his eyes”; KJV “after the sight of his eyes”; NIV “by what he sees with his eyes.”

9 tn Heb “by what is heard by his ears”; NRSV “by what his ears hear.”



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