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Isaiah 32:9-20

Context
The Lord Will Give True Security

32:9 You complacent 1  women,

get up and listen to me!

You carefree 2  daughters,

pay attention to what I say!

32:10 In a year’s time 3 

you carefree ones will shake with fear,

for the grape 4  harvest will fail,

and the fruit harvest will not arrive.

32:11 Tremble, you complacent ones!

Shake with fear, you carefree ones!

Strip off your clothes and expose yourselves –

put sackcloth on your waist! 5 

32:12 Mourn over the field, 6 

over the delightful fields

and the fruitful vine!

32:13 Mourn 7  over the land of my people,

which is overgrown with thorns and briers,

and over all the once-happy houses 8 

in the city filled with revelry. 9 

32:14 For the fortress is neglected;

the once-crowded 10  city is abandoned.

Hill 11  and watchtower

are permanently uninhabited. 12 

Wild donkeys love to go there,

and flocks graze there. 13 

32:15 This desolation will continue until new life is poured out on us from heaven. 14 

Then the desert will become an orchard

and the orchard will be considered a forest. 15 

32:16 Justice will settle down in the desert

and fairness will live in the orchard. 16 

32:17 Fairness will produce peace 17 

and result in lasting security. 18 

32:18 My people will live in peaceful settlements,

in secure homes,

and in safe, quiet places. 19 

32:19 Even if the forest is destroyed 20 

and the city is annihilated, 21 

32:20 you will be blessed,

you who plant seed by all the banks of the streams, 22 

you who let your ox and donkey graze. 23 

1 tn Or “self-assured”; NASB, NRSV “who are at ease.”

2 tn Or “self-confident”; NAB “overconfident.”

3 tn Heb “days upon a year.”

4 tn Or perhaps, “olive.” See 24:13.

5 tn The imperatival forms in v. 11 are problematic. The first (חִרְדוּ, khirdu, “tremble”) is masculine plural in form, though spoken to a feminine plural addressee (שַׁאֲנַנּוֹת, shaanannot, “complacent ones”). The four imperatival forms that follow (רְגָזָה, rÿgazah, “shake with fear”; פְּשֹׁטָה, pÿshotah, “strip off your clothes”; עֹרָה, ’orah, “expose yourselves”; and חֲגוֹרָה, khagorah, “put on”) all appear to be lengthened (so-called “emphatic”) masculine singular forms, even though they too appear to be spoken to a feminine plural addressee. GKC 131-32 §48.i suggests emending חִרְדוּ (khirdu) to חֲרָדָה (kharadah) and understanding all five imperatives as feminine plural “aramaized” forms.

6 tc The Hebrew text has “over mourning breasts.” The reference to “breasts” would make sense in light of v. 11, which refers to the practice of women baring their breasts as a sign of sorrow (see J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah [NICOT], 1:585). However, one expects the preposition עַל (’al) to introduce the source or reason for mourning (see vv. 12b-13a) and the participle סֹפְדִים (sofedim, “mourning”) seems odd modifying “breasts.” The translation above assumes a twofold emendation: (1) שָׁדַיִם (shadayim, “breasts”) is emended to [ם]שָׂדַי (saday[m], “field,” a term that also appears in Isa 56:9). The final mem (ם) would be enclitic in this case, not a plural indicator. (The Hebrew noun שָׂדֶה (sadeh, “field”) forms its plural with an וֹת- [-ot] ending). (2) The plural participle סֹפְדִים is emended to סְפֹדָה (sÿfodah), a lengthened imperatival form, meaning “mourn.” For an overview of various suggestions that have been made for this difficult line, see Oswalt, 586, n. 12).

7 tn “Mourn” is supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. In the Hebrew text vv. 12-13 are one long sentence.

8 tn Heb “indeed, over all the houses of joy.” It is not certain if this refers to individual homes or to places where parties and celebrations were held.

9 sn This same phrase is used in 22:2.

10 tn Or “noisy” (NAB, NIV, NCV).

11 tn Hebrew עֹפֶל (’ofel), probably refers here to a specific area within the city of Jerusalem. See HALOT 861 s.v. II עֹפֶל.

12 tn The Hebrew text has בְעַד מְעָרוֹת (vÿad mÿarot). The force of בְעַד, which usually means “behind, through, round about,” or “for the benefit of,” is uncertain here. HALOT 616 s.v. *מְעָרָה takes מְעָרוֹת (mÿarot) as a homonym of “cave” and define it here as “cleared field.” Despite these lexical problems, the general point of the statement seems clear – the city will be uninhabited.

13 tn Heb “the joy of wild donkeys, a pasture for flocks.”

14 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.

15 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.

16 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.

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

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

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

20 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.

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

22 tn Heb “by all the waters.”

23 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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