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Isaiah 19:11-12

Context

19:11 The officials of Zoan are nothing but fools; 1 

Pharaoh’s wise advisers give stupid advice.

How dare you say to Pharaoh,

“I am one of the sages,

one well-versed in the writings of the ancient kings?” 2 

19:12 But where, oh where, are your wise men? 3 

Let them tell you, let them find out

what the Lord who commands armies has planned for Egypt.

1 tn Or “certainly the officials of Zoan are fools.” אַךְ (’akh) can carry the sense, “only, nothing but,” or “certainly, surely.”

2 tn Heb “A son of wise men am I, a son of ancient kings.” The term בֶּן (ben, “son of”) could refer to literal descent, but many understand the word, at least in the first line, in its idiomatic sense of “member [of a guild].” See HALOT 138 s.v. בֶּן and J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:371. If this is the case, then one can take the word in a figurative sense in the second line as well, the “son of ancient kings” being one devoted to their memory as preserved in their literature.

3 tn Heb “Where are they? Where are your wise men?” The juxtaposition of the interrogative pronouns is emphatic. See HALOT 38 s.v. אֶי.



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