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Isaiah 29:1-10

Context
Ariel is Besieged

29:1 Ariel is as good as dead 1 

Ariel, the town David besieged! 2 

Keep observing your annual rituals,

celebrate your festivals on schedule. 3 

29:2 I will threaten Ariel,

and she will mourn intensely

and become like an altar hearth 4  before me.

29:3 I will lay siege to you on all sides; 5 

I will besiege you with troops; 6 

I will raise siege works against you.

29:4 You will fall;

while lying on the ground 7  you will speak;

from the dust where you lie, your words will be heard. 8 

Your voice will sound like a spirit speaking from the underworld; 9 

from the dust you will chirp as if muttering an incantation. 10 

29:5 But the horde of invaders will be like fine dust,

the horde of tyrants 11  like chaff that is blown away.

It will happen suddenly, in a flash.

29:6 Judgment will come from the Lord who commands armies, 12 

accompanied by thunder, earthquake, and a loud noise,

by a strong gale, a windstorm, and a consuming flame of fire.

29:7 It will be like a dream, a night vision.

There will be a horde from all the nations that fight against Ariel,

those who attack her and her stronghold and besiege her.

29:8 It will be like a hungry man dreaming that he is eating,

only to awaken and find that his stomach is empty. 13 

It will be like a thirsty man dreaming that he is drinking,

only to awaken and find that he is still weak and his thirst unquenched. 14 

So it will be for the horde from all the nations

that fight against Mount Zion.

God’s People are Spiritually Insensitive

29:9 You will be shocked and amazed! 15 

You are totally blind! 16 

They are drunk, 17  but not because of wine;

they stagger, 18  but not because of beer.

29:10 For the Lord has poured out on you

a strong urge to sleep deeply. 19 

He has shut your eyes (the prophets),

and covered your heads (the seers).

1 tn Heb “Woe [to] Ariel.” The meaning of the name “Ariel” is uncertain. The name may mean “altar hearth” (see v. 2) or, if compound, “lion of God.” The name is used here as a title for Mount Zion/Jerusalem (see v. 8).

2 tn Heb “the town where David camped.” The verb חָנָה (khanah, “camp”) probably has the nuance “lay siege to” here. See v. 3. Another option is to take the verb in the sense of “lived, settled.”

3 tn Heb “Add year to year, let your festivals occur in cycles.” This is probably a sarcastic exhortation to the people to keep up their religious rituals, which will not prevent the coming judgment. See J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:527.

4 tn The term אֲרִיאֵל (’ariel, “Ariel”) is the word translated “altar hearth” here. The point of the simile is not entirely clear. Perhaps the image likens Jerusalem’s coming crisis to a sacrificial fire.

5 tc The Hebrew text has כַדּוּר (khadur, “like a circle”), i.e., “like an encircling wall.” Some emend this phrase to כְּדָוִד (kÿdavid, “like David”), which is supported by the LXX (see v. 1). However, the rendering in the LXX could have arisen from a confusion of the dalet (ד) and resh (ר).

6 tn The meaning of מֻצָּב (mutsav) is not certain. Because of the parallelism (note “siege works”), some translate “towers.” The noun is derived from נָצַב (natsav, “take one’s stand”) and may refer to the troops stationed outside the city to prevent entrance or departure.

7 tn Heb “from the ground” (so NIV, NCV).

8 tn Heb “and from the dust your word will be low.”

9 tn Heb “and your voice will be like a ritual pit from the earth.” The Hebrew אוֹב (’ov, “ritual pit”) refers to a pit used by a magician to conjure up underworld spirits. See the note on “incantations” in 8:19. Here the word is used metonymically for the voice that emerges from such a pit.

10 tn Heb “and from the dust your word will chirp.” The words “as if muttering an incantation” are supplied in the translation for clarification. See the parallelism and 8:19.

11 tn Or “violent men”; cf. NASB “the ruthless ones.”

12 tn Heb “from the Lord who commands armies [traditionally, the Lord of hosts] there will be visitation.” The third feminine singular passive verb form תִּפָּקֵד (tippaqed, “she/it will be visited”) is used here in an impersonal sense. See GKC 459 §144.b.

13 tn Or “that he [or “his appetite”] is unsatisfied.”

14 tn Or “that he is faint and that he [or “his appetite”] longs [for water].”

15 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.

16 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.

17 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.

18 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.

19 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.



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