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Isaiah 2:6-9

The Lord’s Day of Judgment

2:6 Indeed, O Lord, 1  you have abandoned your people,

the descendants of Jacob.

For diviners from the east are everywhere; 2 

they consult omen readers like the Philistines do. 3 

Plenty of foreigners are around. 4 

2:7 Their land is full of gold and silver;

there is no end to their wealth. 5 

Their land is full of horses;

there is no end to their chariots. 6 

2:8 Their land is full of worthless idols;

they worship 7  the product of their own hands,

what their own fingers have fashioned.

2:9 Men bow down to them in homage,

they lie flat on the ground in worship. 8 

Don’t spare them! 9 

1 tn The words “O Lord” are supplied in the translation for clarification. Isaiah addresses the Lord in prayer.

2 tc Heb “they are full from the east.” Various scholars retain the BHS reading and suggest that the prophet makes a general statement concerning Israel’s reliance on foreign customs (J. Watts, Isaiah [WBC], 1:32; J. de Waard, Isaiah, 12-13). Nevertheless, it appears that a word is missing. Based on the parallelism (note “omen readers” in 5:6c), many suggest that קֹסְמִים (qosÿmim, “diviners”) or מִקְסָם (miqsam, “divination”) has been accidentally omitted. Homoioteleuton could account for the omission of an original קֹסְמִים (note how this word and the following מִקֶּדֶם [miqqedem, “from the east”] both end in mem); an original מִקְסָם could have fallen out by homoioarcton (note how this word and the following מִקֶּדֶם both begin with mem).

3 tn Heb “and omen readers like the Philistines.” Through this line and the preceding, the prophet contends that Israel has heavily borrowed the pagan practices of the east and west (in violation of Lev 19:26; Deut 18:9-14).

4 tn Heb “and with the children of foreigners they [?].” The precise meaning of the final word is uncertain. Some take this verb (I שָׂפַק, safaq) to mean “slap,” supply the object “hands,” and translate, “they slap [hands] with foreigners”; HALOT 1349 s.v. I שׂפק. This could be a reference to foreign alliances. This translation has two disadvantages: It requires the conjectural insertion of “hands” and the use of this verb with its object prefixed with a בְּ (bet) preposition with this meaning does not occur elsewhere. The other uses of this verb refer to clapping at someone, an indication of hostility. The translation above assumes the verb is derived from II שׂפק (“to suffice,” attested in the Qal in 1 Kgs 20:10; HALOT 1349 s.v. II שׂפק). In this case the point is that a sufficient number of foreigners (in this case, too many!) live in the land. The disadvantage of this option is that the preposition prefixed to “the children of foreigners” does not occur with this verb elsewhere. The chosen translation is preferred since it continues the idea of abundant foreign influence and does not require a conjectural insertion or emendation.

5 tn Or “treasuries”; KJV “treasures.”

6 sn Judah’s royal bureaucracy had accumulated great wealth and military might, in violation of Deut 17:16-17.

7 tn Or “bow down to” (NIV, NRSV).

8 tn Heb “men bow down, men are low.” Since the verbs שָׁחָח (shakhakh) and שָׁפַל (shafal) are used later in this discourse to describe how God will humiliate proud men (see vv. 11, 17), some understand v. 9a as a prediction of judgment, “men will be brought down, men will be humiliated.” However, these prefixed verbal forms with vav (ו) consecutive appear to carry on the description that precedes and are better taken with the accusation. They draw attention to the fact that human beings actually bow down and worship before the lifeless products of their own hands.

9 tn Heb “don’t lift them up.” The idiom “lift up” (נָשָׂא with לְ, nasa’ with preposition lamed) can mean “spare, forgive” (see Gen 18:24, 26). Here the idiom plays on the preceding verbs. The idolaters are bowed low as they worship their false gods; the prophet asks God not to “lift them up.”

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