24:1 Look, the Lord is ready to devastate the earth
and leave it in ruins;
he will mar its surface
and scatter its inhabitants.
the master as well as the servant, 2
the elegant lady as well as the female attendant, 3
the seller as well as the buyer, 4
the borrower as well as the lender, 5
the creditor as well as the debtor. 6
24:3 The earth will be completely devastated
and thoroughly ransacked.
For the Lord has decreed this judgment. 7
the world shrivels up and withers;
the prominent people of the earth 10 fade away.
for they have violated laws,
disregarded the regulation, 13
and broken the permanent treaty. 14
its inhabitants pay for their guilt. 16
This is why the inhabitants of the earth disappear, 17
and are reduced to just a handful of people. 18
24:7 The new wine dries up,
the vines shrivel up,
all those who like to celebrate 19 groan.
the revelry of those who celebrate comes to a halt,
the happy sound of the harp ceases.
the beer tastes bitter to those who drink it.
all of the houses are shut up tight. 23
all joy turns to sorrow; 25
celebrations disappear from the earth. 26
the gate is reduced to rubble. 28
1 tn Heb “and it will be like the people, like the priest.”
2 tn Heb “like the servant, like his master.”
3 tn Heb “like the female servant, like her mistress.”
4 tn Heb “like the buyer, like the seller.”
5 tn Heb “like the lender, like the borrower.”
6 tn Heb “like the creditor, just as the one to whom he lends.”
7 tn Heb “for the Lord has spoken this word.”
8 tn Some prefer to read “land” here, but the word pair אֶרֶץ/תֵּבֵל (erets/tevel [see the corresponding term in the parallel line]) elsewhere clearly designates the earth/world (see 1 Sam 2:8; 1 Chr 16:30; Job 37;12; Pss 19:4; 24:1; 33:8; 89:11; 90:2; 96:13; 98:9; Prov 8:26, 31; Isa 14:16-17; 34:1; Jer 10:12; 51:15; Lam 4:12). According to L. Stadelmann, תבל designates “the habitable part of the world” (The Hebrew Conception of the World [AnBib], 130).
9 tn Or “mourns” (BDB 5 s.v. אָבַל). HALOT 6-7 lists the homonyms I אבל (“mourn”) and II אבל (“dry up”). They propose the second here on the basis of parallelism.
10 tn Heb “the height of the people of the earth.” The translation assumes an emendation of the singular form מְרוֹם (mÿrom, “height of”) to the plural construct מְרֹמֵי (mÿrome, “high ones of”; note the plural verb at the beginning of the line), and understands the latter as referring to the prominent people of human society.
11 tn Heb “beneath”; cf. KJV, ASV, NRSV “under”; NAB “because of.”
13 tn Heb “moved past [the?] regulation.”
14 tn Or “everlasting covenant” (KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT); NAB “the ancient covenant”; CEV “their agreement that was to last forever.”
sn For a lengthy discussion of the identity of this covenant/treaty, see R. Chisholm, “The ‘Everlasting Covenant’ and the ‘City of Chaos’: Intentional Ambiguity and Irony in Isaiah 24,” CTR 6 (1993): 237-53. In this context, where judgment comes upon both the pagan nations and God’s covenant community, the phrase “permanent treaty” is intentionally ambiguous. For the nations this treaty is the Noahic mandate of Gen 9:1-7 with its specific stipulations and central regulation (Gen 9:7). By shedding blood, the warlike nations violated this treaty, which promotes population growth and prohibits murder. For Israel, which was also guilty of bloodshed (see Isa 1:15, 21; 4:4), this “permanent treaty” would refer more specifically to the Mosaic Law and its regulations prohibiting murder (Exod 20:13; Num 35:6-34), which are an extension of the Noahic mandate.
15 sn Ancient Near Eastern treaties often had “curses,” or threatened judgments, attached to them. (See Deut 28 for a biblical example of such curses.) The party or parties taking an oath of allegiance acknowledged that disobedience would activate these curses, which typically threatened loss of agricultural fertility as depicted in the following verses.
16 tn The verb אָשַׁם (’asham, “be guilty”) is here used metonymically to mean “pay, suffer for one’s guilt” (see HALOT 95 s.v. אשׁם).
17 tn BDB 359 s.v. חָרַר derives the verb חָרוּ (kharu) from חָרַר (kharar, “burn”), but HALOT 351 s.v. II חרה understands a hapax legomenon חָרָה (kharah, “to diminish in number,” a homonym of חָרָה) here, relating it to an alleged Arabic cognate meaning “to decrease.” The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa has חורו, perhaps understanding the root as חָוַר (khavar, “grow pale”; see Isa 29:22 and HALOT 299 s.v. I חור).
18 tn Heb “and mankind is left small [in number].”
19 tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “all the joyful in heart,” but the context specifies the context as parties and drinking bouts.
20 tn Heb “the joy” (again later in this verse).
21 tn Heb “with a song they do not drink wine.”
22 tn Heb “the city of chaos” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV). Isaiah uses the term תֹּהוּ (tohu) rather frequently of things (like idols) that are empty and worthless (see BDB 1062 s.v.), so the word might characterize the city as rebellious or morally worthless. However, in this context, which focuses on the effects of divine judgment, it probably refers to the ruined or worthless condition in which the city is left (note the use of the word in Isa 34:11). For a discussion of the identity of this city, see R. Chisholm, “The ‘Everlasting Covenant’ and the ‘City of Chaos’: Intentional Ambiguity and Irony in Isaiah 24,” CTR 6 (1993): 237-53. In the context of universal judgment depicted in Isa 24, this city represents all the nations and cities of the world which, like Babylon of old and the powers/cities mentioned in chapters 13-23, rebel against God’s authority. Behind the stereotypical language one can detect various specific manifestations of this symbolic and paradigmatic city, including Babylon, Moab, and Jerusalem, all of which are alluded or referred to in chapters 24-27.
23 tn Heb “every house is closed up from entering.”
24 tn Heb “[there is] an outcry over the wine in the streets.”
25 tn Heb “all joy turns to evening,” the darkness of evening symbolizing distress and sorrow.
26 tn Heb “the joy of the earth disappears.”
27 tn Heb “and there is left in the city desolation.”
28 tn Heb “and [into] rubble the gate is crushed.”