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Isaiah 32:15-20

Context

32:15 This desolation will continue until new life is poured out on us from heaven. 1 

Then the desert will become an orchard

and the orchard will be considered a forest. 2 

32:16 Justice will settle down in the desert

and fairness will live in the orchard. 3 

32:17 Fairness will produce peace 4 

and result in lasting security. 5 

32:18 My people will live in peaceful settlements,

in secure homes,

and in safe, quiet places. 6 

32:19 Even if the forest is destroyed 7 

and the city is annihilated, 8 

32:20 you will be blessed,

you who plant seed by all the banks of the streams, 9 

you who let your ox and donkey graze. 10 

1 tn Heb “until a spirit is emptied out on us from on high.” The words “this desolation will continue” are supplied in the translation for clarification and stylistic purposes. The verb עָרָה (’arah), used here in the Niphal, normally means “lay bare, expose.” The term רוּחַ (ruakh, “spirit”) is often understood here as a reference to the divine spirit (cf. 44:3 and NASB, NIV, CEV, NLT), but it appears here without an article (cf. NRSV “a spirit”), pronominal suffix, or a genitive (such as “of the Lord”). The translation assumes that it carries an impersonal nuance “vivacity, vigor” in this context.

2 sn The same statement appears in 29:17b, where, in conjunction with the preceding line, it appears to picture a reversal. Here it seems to depict supernatural growth. The desert will blossom into an orchard, and the trees of the orchard will multiply and grow tall, becoming a forest.

3 sn This new era of divine blessing will also include a moral/ethical transformation, as justice and fairness fill the land and replace the social injustice so prevalent in Isaiah’s time.

4 tn Heb “and the product of fairness will be peace.”

5 tn Heb “and the work of fairness [will be] calmness and security forever.”

6 tn Or “in safe resting places”; NAB, NRSV “quiet resting places.”

7 tn Heb “and [?] when the forest descends.” The form וּבָרַד (uvarad) is often understood as an otherwise unattested denominative verb meaning “to hail” (HALOT 154 s.v. I ברד). In this case one might translate, “and it hails when the forest is destroyed” (cf. KJV, ASV, NASB, NIV). Perhaps the text alludes to a powerful wind and hail storm that knocks down limbs and trees. Some prefer to emend the form to וְיָרַד (vÿyarad), “and it descends,” which provides better, though not perfect, symmetry with the parallel line (cf. NAB). Perhaps וּבָרַד should be dismissed as dittographic. In this case the statement (“when the forest descends”) lacks a finite verb and seems incomplete, but perhaps it is subordinate to v. 20.

8 tn Heb “and in humiliation the city is laid low.”

9 tn Heb “by all the waters.”

10 tn Heb “who set free the foot of the ox and donkey”; NIV “letting your cattle and donkeys range free.”

sn This verse seems to anticipate a time when fertile land is available to cultivate and crops are so abundant that the farm animals can be allowed to graze freely.



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