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Isaiah 8:14-22

Context

8:14 He will become a sanctuary, 1 

but a stone that makes a person trip,

and a rock that makes one stumble –

to the two houses of Israel. 2 

He will become 3  a trap and a snare

to the residents of Jerusalem. 4 

8:15 Many will stumble over the stone and the rock, 5 

and will fall and be seriously injured,

and will be ensnared and captured.”

8:16 Tie up the scroll as legal evidence, 6 

seal the official record of God’s instructions and give it to my followers. 7 

8:17 I will wait patiently for the Lord,

who has rejected the family of Jacob; 8 

I will wait for him.

8:18 Look, I and the sons whom the Lord has given me 9  are reminders and object lessons 10  in Israel, sent from the Lord who commands armies, who lives on Mount Zion.

Darkness Turns to Light as an Ideal King Arrives

8:19 11 They will say to you, “Seek oracles at the pits used to conjure up underworld spirits, from the magicians who chirp and mutter incantations. 12  Should people not seek oracles from their gods, by asking the dead about the destiny of the living?” 13  8:20 Then you must recall the Lord’s instructions and the prophetic testimony of what would happen. 14  Certainly they say such things because their minds are spiritually darkened. 15  8:21 They will pass through the land 16  destitute and starving. Their hunger will make them angry, 17  and they will curse their king and their God 18  as they look upward. 8:22 When one looks out over the land, he sees 19  distress and darkness, gloom 20  and anxiety, darkness and people forced from the land. 21 

1 tn Because the metaphor of protection (“sanctuary”) does not fit the negative mood that follows in vv. 14b-15, some contend that מִקְדָּשׁ (miqdash, “sanctuary”) is probably a corruption of an original מוֹקֵשׁ (moqesh, “snare”), a word that appears in the next line (cf. NAB and H. Wildberger, Isaiah, 1:355-56). If the MT reading is retained (as in the above translation), the fact that Yahweh is a sanctuary wraps up the point of v. 13 and stands in contrast to God’s treatment of those who rebel against him (the rest of v. 14).

2 sn The two “houses” of Israel (= the patriarch Jacob) are the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah.

3 tn These words are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. וְהָיָה (vÿhayah, “and he will be”) does double duty in the parallel structure of the verse.

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

5 tn Heb “over them” (so NASB); NCV “over this rock.”

6 tn Heb “tie up [the] testimony.” The “testimony” probably refers to the prophetic messages God has given him. When the prophecies are fulfilled, he will be able to produce this official, written record to confirm the authenticity of his ministry and to prove to the people that God is sovereign over events.

7 tn Heb “seal [the] instruction among my followers.” The “instruction” probably refers to the prophet’s exhortations and warnings. When the people are judged for the sins, the prophet can produce these earlier messages and essentially say, “I told you so.” In this way he can authenticate his ministry and impress upon the people the reality of God’s authority over them.

8 tn Heb “who hides his face from the house of Jacob.”

9 sn This refers to Shear-jashub (7:3) and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (8:1, 3).

10 tn Or “signs and portents” (NAB, NRSV). The names of all three individuals has symbolic value. Isaiah’s name (which meant “the Lord delivers”) was a reminder that the Lord was the nation’s only source of protection; Shear-jashub’s name was meant, at least originally, to encourage Ahaz (see the note at 7:3), and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz’s name was a guarantee that God would defeat Israel and Syria (see the note at 8:4). The word מוֹפֶת (mofet, “portent”) can often refer to some miraculous event, but in 20:3 it is used, along with its synonym אוֹת (’ot, “sign”) of Isaiah’s walking around half-naked as an object lesson of what would soon happen to the Egyptians.

11 tn It is uncertain if the prophet or the Lord is speaking in vv. 19-22. If the latter, then vv. 19-22 resume the speech recorded in vv. 12-15, after the prophet’s response in vv. 16-18.

12 tn Heb “inquire of the ritual pits and of the magicians who chirp and mutter.” The Hebrew word אוֹב (’ov, “ritual pit”) refers to a pit used by a magician to conjure up underworld spirits. In 1 Sam 28:7 the witch of Endor is called a אוֹב-בַּעֲלַת (baalat-ov, “owner of a ritual pit”). See H. Hoffner, “Second Millennium Antecedents to the Hebrew ’OñBù,” JBL 86 (1967): 385-401.

13 tn Heb “Should a nation not inquire of its gods on behalf of the living, (by inquiring) of the dead?” These words appear to be a continuation of the quotation begun in the first part of the verse. אֱלֹהָיו (’elohayv) may be translated “its gods” or “its God.” Some take the second half of the verse as the prophet’s (or the Lord’s) rebuke of the people who advise seeking oracles at the ritual pits, but in this case the words “the dead on behalf of the living” are difficult to explain.

14 tn Heb “to [the] instruction and to [the] testimony.” The words “then you must recall” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. In the Hebrew text vv. 19-20a are one long sentence, reading literally, “When they say to you…, to the instruction and to the testimony.” On the identity of the “instruction” and “testimony” see the notes at v. 16.

15 tn Heb “If they do not speak according to this word, [it is] because it has no light of dawn.” The literal translation suggests that “this word” refers to the instruction/testimony. However, it is likely that אִם־לֹא (’im-lo’) is asseverative here, as in 5:9. In this case “this word” refers to the quotation recorded in v. 19. For a discussion of the problem see J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 230, n. 9. The singular pronoun in the second half of the verse is collective, referring back to the nation (see v. 19b).

16 tn Heb “he will pass through it.” The subject of the collective singular verb is the nation. (See the preceding note.) The immediately preceding context supplies no antecedent for “it” (a third feminine singular suffix in the Hebrew text); the suffix may refer to the land, which would be a reasonable referent with a verb of motion. Note also that אֶרֶץ (’erets, “land”) does appear at the beginning of the next verse.

17 tn The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.

18 tn Or “gods” (NAB, NRSV, CEV).

19 tn Heb “and behold” (so KJV, ASV, NASB).

20 tn The precise meaning of מְעוּף (mÿuf) is uncertain; the word occurs only here. See BDB 734 s.v. מָעוּף.

21 tn Heb “ and darkness, pushed.” The word מְנֻדָּח (mÿnudakh) appears to be a Pual participle from נדח (“push”), but the Piel is unattested for this verb and the Pual occurs only here.



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