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Isaiah 9:8-12

Context
God’s Judgment Intensifies

9:8 1 The sovereign master 2  decreed judgment 3  on Jacob,

and it fell on Israel. 4 

9:9 All the people were aware 5  of it,

the people of Ephraim and those living in Samaria. 6 

Yet with pride and an arrogant attitude, they said, 7 

9:10 “The bricks have fallen,

but we will rebuild with chiseled stone;

the sycamore fig trees have been cut down,

but we will replace them with cedars.” 8 

9:11 Then the Lord provoked 9  their adversaries to attack them, 10 

he stirred up 11  their enemies –

9:12 Syria from the east,

and the Philistines from the west,

they gobbled up Israelite territory. 12 

Despite all this, his anger does not subside,

and his hand is ready to strike again. 13 

1 sn The following speech (9:8-10:4) assumes that God has already sent judgment (see v. 9), but it also announces that further judgment is around the corner (10:1-4). The speech seems to describe a series of past judgments on the northern kingdom which is ready to intensify further in the devastation announced in 10:1-4. It may have been written prior to the Assyrian conquest of the northern kingdom in 734-733 b.c., or sometime between that invasion and the downfall of Samaria in 722 b.c. The structure of the speech displays four panels, each of which ends with the refrain, “Through all this, his anger did not subside; his hand remained outstretched” (9:12b; 17b; 21b; 10:4b): Panel I: (A) Description of past judgment (9:8); (B) Description of the people’s attitude toward past judgment (9:9-10); (C) Description of past judgment (9:11-12a); (D) Refrain (9:12b); Panel II: (A) Description of the people’s attitude toward past judgment (9:13); (B) Description of past judgment (9:14-17a); (C) Refrain (9:17b); Panel III: (A) Description of past judgment (9:18-21a); (B) Refrain (9:21b); Panel IV: (A) Woe oracle announcing future judgment (10:1-4a); (B) Refrain (10:4b).

2 tn The Hebrew term translated “sovereign master” here and in v. 17 is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay).

3 tn Heb “sent a word” (so KJV, ASV, NRSV); NASB “sends a message.”

4 tn The present translation assumes that this verse refers to judgment that had already fallen. Both verbs (perfects) are taken as indicating simple past; the vav (ו) on the second verb is understood as a simple vav conjunctive. Another option is to understand the verse as describing a future judgment (see 10:1-4). In this case the first verb is a perfect of certitude; the vav on the second verb is a vav consecutive.

5 tn The translation assumes that vv. 9-10 describe the people’s response to a past judgment (v. 8). The perfect is understood as indicating simple past and the vav (ו) is taken as conjunctive. Another option is to take the vav on the perfect as consecutive and translate, “all the people will know.”

6 tn Heb “and the people, all of them, knew; Ephraim and the residents of Samaria.”

7 tn Heb “with pride and arrogance of heart, saying.”

8 sn Though judgment (see v. 8) had taken away the prosperity they did have (symbolized by the bricks and sycamore fig trees), they arrogantly expected the future to bring even greater prosperity (symbolized by the chiseled stone and cedars).

9 tn The translation assumes that the prefixed verb with vav (ו) consecutive continues the narrative of past judgment.

10 tc The Hebrew text reads literally, “adversaries of Rezin against him [i.e., them].” The next verse describes how the Syrians (over whom Rezin ruled, see 7:1, 8) and the Philistines encroached on Israel’s territory. Since the Syrians and Israelites were allies by 735 b.c. (see 7:1), the hostilities described probably occurred earlier, while Israel was still pro-Assyrian. In this case one might understand the phrase צָרֵי רְצִין (tsare rÿtsin, “adversaries of Rezin”) as meaning “adversaries sent from Rezin.” However, another option, the one chosen in the translation above, is to emend the phrase to צָרָיו (tsarayv, “his [i.e., their] adversaries”). This creates tighter parallelism with the next line (note “his [i.e., their] enemies”). The phrase in the Hebrew text may be explained as virtually dittographic.

11 tn The prefixed verbal form is understood as a preterite, used, as is often the case in poetry, without vav consecutive. Note that prefixed forms with vav consecutive both precede (וַיְשַׂגֵּב, vaysaggev, “and he provoked”) and follow in v. 12 (וַיֹּאכְלוּ, vayyokhÿlu, “and they devoured”) this verb.

12 tn Heb “and they devoured Israel with all the mouth”; NIV “with open mouth”; NLT “With bared fangs.”

13 tn Heb “in all this his anger is not turned, and still his hand is outstretched.” One could translate in the past tense here (and in 9:17b and 21b), but the appearance of the refrain in 10:4b, where it follows a woe oracle prophesying a future judgment, suggests it is a dramatic portrait of the judge which did not change throughout this period of past judgment and will remain unchanged in the future. The English present tense is chosen to best reflect this dramatic mood. (See also 5:25b, where the refrain appears following a dramatic description of coming judgment.)



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