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Isaiah 28:14-22

Context
The Lord Will Judge Jerusalem

28:14 Therefore, listen to the Lord’s word,

you who mock,

you rulers of these people

who reside in Jerusalem! 1 

28:15 For you say,

“We have made a treaty with death,

with Sheol 2  we have made an agreement. 3 

When the overwhelming judgment sweeps by 4 

it will not reach us.

For we have made a lie our refuge,

we have hidden ourselves in a deceitful word.” 5 

28:16 Therefore, this is what the sovereign master, the Lord, says:

“Look, I am laying 6  a stone in Zion,

an approved 7  stone,

set in place as a precious cornerstone for the foundation. 8 

The one who maintains his faith will not panic. 9 

28:17 I will make justice the measuring line,

fairness the plumb line;

hail will sweep away the unreliable refuge, 10 

the floodwaters will overwhelm the hiding place.

28:18 Your treaty with death will be dissolved; 11 

your agreement 12  with Sheol will not last. 13 

When the overwhelming judgment sweeps by, 14 

you will be overrun by it. 15 

28:19 Whenever it sweeps by, it will overtake you;

indeed, 16  every morning it will sweep by,

it will come through during the day and the night.” 17 

When this announcement is understood,

it will cause nothing but terror.

28:20 For the bed is too short to stretch out on,

and the blanket is too narrow to wrap around oneself. 18 

28:21 For the Lord will rise up, as he did at Mount Perazim, 19 

he will rouse himself, as he did in the Valley of Gibeon, 20 

to accomplish his work,

his peculiar work,

to perform his task,

his strange task. 21 

28:22 So now, do not mock,

or your chains will become heavier!

For I have heard a message about decreed destruction,

from the sovereign master, the Lord who commands armies, against the entire land. 22 

1 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

2 sn Sheol is the underworld, land of the dead, according to the OT world view.

3 tn Elsewhere the noun חֹזֶה (khozeh) refers to a prophet who sees visions. In v. 18 the related term חָזוּת (khazut, “vision”) is used. The parallelism in both verses (note “treaty”) seems to demand a meaning “agreement” for both nouns. Perhaps חֹזֶה and חזוּת are used in a metonymic sense in vv. 15 and 18. Another option is to propose a homonymic root. See J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:514, and HALOT 301 s.v. II חֹזֶה.

4 tn Heb “the overwhelming scourge, when it passes by” (NRSV similar).

5 sn “Lie” and “deceitful word” would not be the terms used by the people. They would likely use the words “promise” and “reliable word,” but the prophet substitutes “lie” and “deceitful word” to emphasize that this treaty with death will really prove to be disappointing.

6 tc The Hebrew text has a third person verb form, which does not agree with the first person suffix that precedes. The form should be emended to יֹסֵד (yosed), a Qal active participle used in a present progressive or imminent future sense.

7 tn Traditionally “tested,” but the implication is that it has passed the test and stands approved.

8 sn The reality behind the metaphor is not entirely clear from the context. The stone appears to represent someone or something that gives Zion stability. Perhaps the ideal Davidic ruler is in view (see 32:1). Another option is that the image of beginning a building project by laying a precious cornerstone suggests that God is about to transform Zion through judgment and begin a new covenant community that will experience his protection (see 4:3-6; 31:5; 33:20-24; 35:10).

9 tn Heb “will not hurry,” i.e., act in panic.

10 tn Heb “[the] refuge, [the] lie.” See v. 15.

11 tn On the meaning of כָּפַר (kafar) in this context, see HALOT 494 s.v. I כפר and J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:515, n. 9.

12 tn Normally the noun חָזוּת (khazut) means “vision.” See the note at v. 15.

13 tn Or “will not stand” (NIV, NRSV).

14 tn See the note at v. 15.

15 tn Heb “you will become a trampling place for it.”

16 tn Or “for” (KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV).

17 tn The words “it will come through” are supplied in the translation. The verb “will sweep by” does double duty in the parallel structure.

18 sn The bed and blanket probably symbolize their false sense of security. A bed that is too short and a blanket that is too narrow may promise rest and protection from the cold, but in the end they are useless and disappointing. In the same way, their supposed treaty with death will prove useless and disappointing.

19 sn This probably alludes to David’s victory over the Philistines at Baal Perazim. See 2 Sam 5:20.

20 sn This probably alludes to the Lord’s victory over the Canaanites at Gibeon, during the days of Joshua. See Josh 10:10-11.

21 sn God’s judgment of his own people is called “his peculiar work” and “his strange task,” because he must deal with them the way he treated their enemies in the past.

22 tn Or “the whole earth” (KJV, ASV, NAB, NCV).



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