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Isaiah 2:6-22

Context
The Lord’s Day of Judgment

2:6 Indeed, O Lord, 1  you have abandoned your people,

the descendants of Jacob.

For diviners from the east are everywhere; 2 

they consult omen readers like the Philistines do. 3 

Plenty of foreigners are around. 4 

2:7 Their land is full of gold and silver;

there is no end to their wealth. 5 

Their land is full of horses;

there is no end to their chariots. 6 

2:8 Their land is full of worthless idols;

they worship 7  the product of their own hands,

what their own fingers have fashioned.

2:9 Men bow down to them in homage,

they lie flat on the ground in worship. 8 

Don’t spare them! 9 

2:10 Go up into the rocky cliffs,

hide in the ground.

Get away from the dreadful judgment of the Lord, 10 

from his royal splendor!

2:11 Proud men will be brought low,

arrogant men will be humiliated; 11 

the Lord alone will be exalted 12 

in that day.

2:12 Indeed, the Lord who commands armies has planned a day of judgment, 13 

for 14  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; 15 

2:14 for all the tall mountains,

for all the high hills, 16 

2:15 for every high tower,

for every fortified wall,

2:16 for all the large ships, 17 

for all the impressive 18  ships. 19 

2:17 Proud men will be humiliated,

arrogant men will be brought low; 20 

the Lord alone will be exalted 21 

in that day.

2:18 The worthless idols will be completely eliminated. 22 

2:19 They 23  will go into caves in the rocky cliffs

and into holes in the ground, 24 

trying to escape the dreadful judgment of the Lord 25 

and his royal splendor,

when he rises up to terrify the earth. 26 

2:20 At that time 27  men will throw

their silver and gold idols,

which they made for themselves to worship, 28 

into the caves where rodents and bats live, 29 

2:21 so they themselves can go into the crevices of the rocky cliffs

and the openings under the rocky overhangs, 30 

trying to escape the dreadful judgment of the Lord 31 

and his royal splendor,

when he rises up to terrify the earth. 32 

2:22 Stop trusting in human beings,

whose life’s breath is in their nostrils.

For why should they be given special consideration?

1 tn The words “O Lord” are supplied in the translation for clarification. Isaiah addresses the Lord in prayer.

2 tc Heb “they are full from the east.” Various scholars retain the BHS reading and suggest that the prophet makes a general statement concerning Israel’s reliance on foreign customs (J. Watts, Isaiah [WBC], 1:32; J. de Waard, Isaiah, 12-13). Nevertheless, it appears that a word is missing. Based on the parallelism (note “omen readers” in 5:6c), many suggest that קֹסְמִים (qosÿmim, “diviners”) or מִקְסָם (miqsam, “divination”) has been accidentally omitted. Homoioteleuton could account for the omission of an original קֹסְמִים (note how this word and the following מִקֶּדֶם [miqqedem, “from the east”] both end in mem); an original מִקְסָם could have fallen out by homoioarcton (note how this word and the following מִקֶּדֶם both begin with mem).

3 tn Heb “and omen readers like the Philistines.” Through this line and the preceding, the prophet contends that Israel has heavily borrowed the pagan practices of the east and west (in violation of Lev 19:26; Deut 18:9-14).

4 tn Heb “and with the children of foreigners they [?].” The precise meaning of the final word is uncertain. Some take this verb (I שָׂפַק, safaq) to mean “slap,” supply the object “hands,” and translate, “they slap [hands] with foreigners”; HALOT 1349 s.v. I שׂפק. This could be a reference to foreign alliances. This translation has two disadvantages: It requires the conjectural insertion of “hands” and the use of this verb with its object prefixed with a בְּ (bet) preposition with this meaning does not occur elsewhere. The other uses of this verb refer to clapping at someone, an indication of hostility. The translation above assumes the verb is derived from II שׂפק (“to suffice,” attested in the Qal in 1 Kgs 20:10; HALOT 1349 s.v. II שׂפק). In this case the point is that a sufficient number of foreigners (in this case, too many!) live in the land. The disadvantage of this option is that the preposition prefixed to “the children of foreigners” does not occur with this verb elsewhere. The chosen translation is preferred since it continues the idea of abundant foreign influence and does not require a conjectural insertion or emendation.

5 tn Or “treasuries”; KJV “treasures.”

6 sn Judah’s royal bureaucracy had accumulated great wealth and military might, in violation of Deut 17:16-17.

7 tn Or “bow down to” (NIV, NRSV).

8 tn Heb “men bow down, men are low.” Since the verbs שָׁחָח (shakhakh) and שָׁפַל (shafal) are used later in this discourse to describe how God will humiliate proud men (see vv. 11, 17), some understand v. 9a as a prediction of judgment, “men will be brought down, men will be humiliated.” However, these prefixed verbal forms with vav (ו) consecutive appear to carry on the description that precedes and are better taken with the accusation. They draw attention to the fact that human beings actually bow down and worship before the lifeless products of their own hands.

9 tn Heb “don’t lift them up.” The idiom “lift up” (נָשָׂא with לְ, nasa’ with preposition lamed) can mean “spare, forgive” (see Gen 18:24, 26). Here the idiom plays on the preceding verbs. The idolaters are bowed low as they worship their false gods; the prophet asks God not to “lift them up.”

10 tn Heb “from the dread of the Lord,” that is, from the dread that he produces in the objects of his judgment.” The words “get away” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

11 tn Heb “and the eyes of the pride of men will be brought low, and the arrogance of men will be brought down.” 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.

12 tn Or “elevated”; CEV “honored.”

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

14 tn Or “against” (NAB, NASB, NRSV).

15 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.

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

17 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.

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

19 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.

20 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.

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

22 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.”

23 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.

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

25 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.

26 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.

27 tn Or “in that day” (KJV).

28 tn Or “bow down to.”

29 tn Heb “to the shrews and to the bats.” On the meaning of חֲפַרְפָּרָה (khafarparah, “shrew”), see HALOT 341 s.v. חֲפַרְפָּרָה. The BHS text as it stands (לַחְפֹּר פֵּרוֹת, perot lakhpor), makes no sense. Based on Theodotion’s transliteration and a similar reading in the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa, most scholars suggest that the MT mistakenly divided a noun (a hapax legomenon) that should be translated “moles,” “shrews,” or “rodents.”

30 sn The precise point of vv. 20-21 is not entirely clear. Are they taking the idols into their hiding places with them, because they are so attached to their man-made images? Or are they discarding the idols along the way as they retreat into the darkest places they can find? In either case it is obvious that the gods are incapable of helping them.

31 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.

32 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. Almost all English versions translate “earth,” taking this to refer to universal judgment.



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