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Isaiah 24:6-12


24:6 So a treaty curse 1  devours the earth;

its inhabitants pay for their guilt. 2 

This is why the inhabitants of the earth disappear, 3 

and are reduced to just a handful of people. 4 

24:7 The new wine dries up,

the vines shrivel up,

all those who like to celebrate 5  groan.

24:8 The happy sound 6  of the tambourines stops,

the revelry of those who celebrate comes to a halt,

the happy sound of the harp ceases.

24:9 They no longer sing and drink wine; 7 

the beer tastes bitter to those who drink it.

24:10 The ruined town 8  is shattered;

all of the houses are shut up tight. 9 

24:11 They howl in the streets because of what happened to the wine; 10 

all joy turns to sorrow; 11 

celebrations disappear from the earth. 12 

24:12 The city is left in ruins; 13 

the gate is reduced to rubble. 14 

1 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.

2 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).

3 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).

4 tn Heb “and mankind is left small [in number].”

5 tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “all the joyful in heart,” but the context specifies the context as parties and drinking bouts.

6 tn Heb “the joy” (again later in this verse).

7 tn Heb “with a song they do not drink wine.”

8 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.

9 tn Heb “every house is closed up from entering.”

10 tn Heb “[there is] an outcry over the wine in the streets.”

11 tn Heb “all joy turns to evening,” the darkness of evening symbolizing distress and sorrow.

12 tn Heb “the joy of the earth disappears.”

13 tn Heb “and there is left in the city desolation.”

14 tn Heb “and [into] rubble the gate is crushed.”

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