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Isaiah 2:12-19

Context

2:12 Indeed, the Lord who commands armies has planned a day of judgment, 1 

for 2  all the high and mighty,

for all who are proud – they will be humiliated;

2:13 for all the cedars of Lebanon,

that are so high and mighty,

for all the oaks of Bashan; 3 

2:14 for all the tall mountains,

for all the high hills, 4 

2:15 for every high tower,

for every fortified wall,

2:16 for all the large ships, 5 

for all the impressive 6  ships. 7 

2:17 Proud men will be humiliated,

arrogant men will be brought low; 8 

the Lord alone will be exalted 9 

in that day.

2:18 The worthless idols will be completely eliminated. 10 

2:19 They 11  will go into caves in the rocky cliffs

and into holes in the ground, 12 

trying to escape the dreadful judgment of the Lord 13 

and his royal splendor,

when he rises up to terrify the earth. 14 

1 tn Heb “indeed [or “for”] the Lord who commands armies [traditionally, the Lord of hosts] has a day.”

2 tn Or “against” (NAB, NASB, NRSV).

3 sn The cedars of Lebanon and oaks of Bashan were well-known for their size and prominence. They make apt symbols here for powerful men who think of themselves as prominent and secure.

4 sn The high mountains and hills symbolize the apparent security of proud men, as do the high tower and fortified wall of v. 15.

5 tn Heb “the ships of Tarshish.” This probably refers to large ships either made in or capable of traveling to the distant western port of Tarshish.

6 tn Heb “desirable”; NAB, NIV “stately”; NRSV “beautiful.”

7 tn On the meaning of this word, which appears only here in the Hebrew Bible, see H. R. Cohen, Biblical Hapax Legomena (SBLDS), 41-42.

sn The ships mentioned in this verse were the best of their class, and therefore an apt metaphor for the proud men being denounced in this speech.

8 tn Heb “and the pride of men will be brought down, and the arrogance of men will be brought low.” As in v. 11, the repetition of the verbs שָׁפַל (shafal) and שָׁחָח (shakhakh) from v. 9 draws attention to the appropriate nature of the judgment. Those proud men who “bow low” before idols will be forced to “bow low” before God when he judges their sin.

9 tn Or “elevated”; NCV “praised”; CEV “honored.”

10 tc The verb “pass away” is singular in the Hebrew text, despite the plural subject (“worthless idols”) that precedes. The verb should be emended to a plural; the final vav (ו) has been accidentally omitted by haplography (note the vav at the beginning of the immediately following form).

tn Heb “will completely pass away”; ASV “shall utterly pass away.”

11 tn The identity of the grammatical subject is unclear. The “idols” could be the subject; they will “go” into the caves and holes when the idolaters throw them there in their haste to escape God’s judgment (see vv. 20-21). The picture of the idols, which represent the foreign deities worshiped by the people, fleeing from the Lord would be highly polemical and fit the overall mood of the chapter. However it seems more likely that the idolaters themselves are the subject, for v. 10 uses similar language in sarcastically urging them to run from judgment.

12 tn Heb “dust”; ASV “into the holes of the earth.”

13 tn Heb “from the dread of the Lord,” that is, from the dread that he produces in the objects of his judgment.” The words “trying to escape” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

14 tn Or “land.” It is not certain if these verses are describing the judgment of Judah (see vv. 6-9) or a more universal judgment on all proud men.



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