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Isaiah 5:1-8

Context
A Love Song Gone Sour

5:1 I 1  will sing to my love –

a song to my lover about his vineyard. 2 

My love had a vineyard

on a fertile hill. 3 

5:2 He built a hedge around it, 4  removed its stones,

and planted a vine.

He built a tower in the middle of it,

and constructed a winepress.

He waited for it to produce edible grapes,

but it produced sour ones instead. 5 

5:3 So now, residents of Jerusalem, 6 

people 7  of Judah,

you decide between me and my vineyard!

5:4 What more can I do for my vineyard

beyond what I have already done?

When I waited for it to produce edible grapes,

why did it produce sour ones instead?

5:5 Now I will inform you

what I am about to do to my vineyard:

I will remove its hedge and turn it into pasture, 8 

I will break its wall and allow animals to graze there. 9 

5:6 I will make it a wasteland;

no one will prune its vines or hoe its ground, 10 

and thorns and briers will grow there.

I will order the clouds

not to drop any rain on it.

5:7 Indeed 11  Israel 12  is the vineyard of the Lord who commands armies,

the people 13  of Judah are the cultivated place in which he took delight.

He waited for justice, but look what he got – disobedience! 14 

He waited for fairness, but look what he got – cries for help! 15 

Disaster is Coming

5:8 Those who accumulate houses are as good as dead, 16 

those who also accumulate landed property 17 

until there is no land left, 18 

and you are the only landowners remaining within the land. 19 

1 tn It is uncertain who is speaking here. Possibly the prophet, taking the role of best man, composes a love song for his friend on the occasion of his wedding. If so, יָדִיד (yadid) should be translated “my friend.” The present translation assumes that Israel is singing to the Lord. The word דוֹד (dod, “lover”) used in the second line is frequently used by the woman in the Song of Solomon to describe her lover.

2 sn Israel, viewing herself as the Lord’s lover, refers to herself as his vineyard. The metaphor has sexual connotations, for it pictures her capacity to satisfy his appetite and to produce children. See Song 8:12.

3 tn Heb “on a horn, a son of oil.” Apparently קֶרֶן (qeren, “horn”) here refers to the horn-shaped peak of a hill (BDB 902 s.v.) or to a mountain spur, i.e., a ridge that extends laterally from a mountain (HALOT 1145 s.v. קֶרֶן; H. Wildberger, Isaiah, 1:180). The expression “son of oil” pictures this hill as one capable of producing olive trees. Isaiah’s choice of קֶרֶן, a rare word for hill, may have been driven by paronomastic concerns, i.e., because קֶרֶן sounds like כֶּרֶם (kerem, “vineyard”).

4 tn Or, “dug it up” (so NIV); KJV “fenced it.’ See HALOT 810 s.v. עזק.

5 tn Heb “wild grapes,” i.e., sour ones (also in v. 4).

sn At this point the love song turns sour as the Lord himself breaks in and completes the story (see vv. 3-6). In the final line of v. 2 the love song presented to the Lord becomes a judgment speech by the Lord.

6 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

7 tn Heb “men,” but in a generic sense.

8 tn Heb “and it will become [a place for] grazing.” בָּעַר (baar, “grazing”) is a homonym of the more often used verb “to burn.”

9 tn Heb “and it will become a trampled place” (NASB “trampled ground”).

10 tn Heb “it will not be pruned or hoed” (so NASB); ASV and NRSV both similar.

11 tn Or “For” (KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV).

12 tn Heb “the house of Israel” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV).

13 tn Heb “men,” but in a generic sense.

14 tn Heb “but, look, disobedience.” The precise meaning of מִשְׂפָּח (mishpakh), which occurs only here in the OT, is uncertain. Some have suggested a meaning “bloodshed.” The term is obviously chosen for its wordplay value; it sounds very much like מִשְׁפָּט (mishpat, “justice”). The sound play draws attention to the point being made; the people have not met the Lord’s expectations.

15 tn Heb “but, look, a cry for help.” The verb (“he waited”) does double duty in the parallelism. צְעָקָה (tsaqah) refers to the cries for help made by the oppressed. It sounds very much like צְדָקָה (tsÿdaqah, “fairness”). The sound play draws attention to the point being made; the people have not met the Lord’s expectations.

16 tn Heb “Woe [to] those who make a house touch a house.” The exclamation הוֹי (hoy, “woe, ah”) was used in funeral laments (see 1 Kgs 13:30; Jer 22:18; 34:5) and carries the connotation of death.

17 tn Heb “[who] bring a field near a field.”

sn This verse does not condemn real estate endeavors per se, but refers to the way in which the rich bureaucrats of Judah accumulated property by exploiting the poor, in violation of the covenantal principle that the land belonged to God and that every family was to have its own portion of land. See the note at 1:23.

18 tn Heb “until the end of the place”; NASB “until there is no more room.”

19 tn Heb “and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land.”



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