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Isaiah 33:1-24

The Lord Will Restore Zion

33:1 The destroyer is as good as dead, 1 

you who have not been destroyed!

The deceitful one is as good as dead, 2 

the one whom others have not deceived!

When you are through destroying, you will be destroyed;

when you finish 3  deceiving, others will deceive you!

33:2 Lord, be merciful to us! We wait for you.

Give us strength each morning! 4 

Deliver us when distress comes. 5 

33:3 The nations run away when they hear a loud noise; 6 

the nations scatter when you spring into action! 7 

33:4 Your plunder 8  disappears as if locusts were eating it; 9 

they swarm over it like locusts! 10 

33:5 The Lord is exalted, 11 

indeed, 12  he lives in heaven; 13 

he fills Zion with justice and fairness.

33:6 He is your constant source of stability; 14 

he abundantly provides safety and great wisdom; 15 

he gives all this to those who fear him. 16 

33:7 Look, ambassadors 17  cry out in the streets;

messengers sent to make peace 18  weep bitterly.

33:8 Highways are empty, 19 

there are no travelers. 20 

Treaties are broken, 21 

witnesses are despised, 22 

human life is treated with disrespect. 23 

33:9 The land 24  dries up 25  and withers away;

the forest of Lebanon shrivels up 26  and decays.

Sharon 27  is like the desert; 28 

Bashan and Carmel 29  are parched. 30 

33:10 “Now I will rise up,” says the Lord.

“Now I will exalt myself;

now I will magnify myself. 31 

33:11 You conceive straw, 32 

you give birth to chaff;

your breath is a fire that destroys you. 33 

33:12 The nations will be burned to ashes; 34 

like thorn bushes that have been cut down, they will be set on fire.

33:13 You who are far away, listen to what I have done!

You who are close by, recognize my strength!”

33:14 Sinners are afraid in Zion;

panic 35  grips the godless. 36 

They say, 37  ‘Who among us can coexist with destructive fire?

Who among us can coexist with unquenchable 38  fire?’

33:15 The one who lives 39  uprightly 40 

and speaks honestly;

the one who refuses to profit from oppressive measures

and rejects a bribe; 41 

the one who does not plot violent crimes 42 

and does not seek to harm others 43 

33:16 This is the person who will live in a secure place; 44 

he will find safety in the rocky, mountain strongholds; 45 

he will have food

and a constant supply of water.

33:17 You will see a king in his splendor; 46 

you will see a wide land. 47 

33:18 Your mind will recall the terror you experienced, 48 

and you will ask yourselves, 49  “Where is the scribe?

Where is the one who weighs the money?

Where is the one who counts the towers?” 50 

33:19 You will no longer see a defiant 51  people

whose language you do not comprehend, 52 

whose derisive speech you do not understand. 53 

33:20 Look at Zion, the city where we hold religious festivals!

You 54  will see Jerusalem, 55 

a peaceful settlement,

a tent that stays put; 56 

its stakes will never be pulled up;

none of its ropes will snap in two.

33:21 Instead the Lord will rule there as our mighty king. 57 

Rivers and wide streams will flow through it; 58 

no war galley will enter; 59 

no large ships will sail through. 60 

33:22 For the Lord, our ruler,

the Lord, our commander,

the Lord, our king –

he will deliver us.

33:23 Though at this time your ropes are slack, 61 

the mast is not secured, 62 

and the sail 63  is not unfurled,

at that time you will divide up a great quantity of loot; 64 

even the lame will drag off plunder. 65 

33:24 No resident of Zion 66  will say, “I am ill”;

the people who live there will have their sin forgiven.

1 tn Heb “Woe [to] the destroyer.”

sn In this context “the destroyer” appears to refer collectively to the hostile nations (vv. 3-4). Assyria would probably have been primary in the minds of the prophet and his audience.

2 tn Heb “and the deceitful one”; NAB, NIV “O traitor”; NRSV “you treacherous one.” In the parallel structure הוֹי (hoy, “woe [to]”) does double duty.

3 tc The form in the Hebrew text appears to derive from an otherwise unattested verb נָלָה (nalah). The translation follows the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa in reading ככלתך, a Piel infinitival form from the verbal root כָּלָה (kalah), meaning “finish.”

4 tn Heb “Be their arm each morning.” “Arm” is a symbol for strength. The mem suffixed to the noun has been traditionally understood as a third person suffix, but this is contrary to the context, where the people speak of themselves in the first person. The mem (מ) is probably enclitic with ellipsis of the pronoun, which can be supplied from the context. See J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:589, n. 1.

5 tn Heb “[Be] also our deliverance in the time of distress.”

6 tn Heb “at the sound of tumult the nations run away.”

7 tn Heb “because of your exaltation the nations scatter.”

8 tn The pronoun is plural; the statement is addressed to the nations who have stockpiled plunder from their conquests of others.

9 tn Heb “and your plunder is gathered, the gathering of the locust.”

10 tn Heb “like a swarm of locusts swarming on it.”

11 tn Or “elevated”; NCV, NLT “is very great.”

12 tn Or “for” (KJV, NASB, NIV).

13 tn Heb “on high” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV); CEV “in the heavens.”

14 tn Heb “and he is the stability of your times.”

15 tn Heb “a rich store of deliverance, wisdom, and knowledge.”

16 tn Heb “the fear of the Lord, it is his treasure.”

17 tn The meaning of the Hebrew word is unknown. Proposals include “heroes” (cf. KJV, ASV “valiant ones”; NASB, NIV “brave men”); “priests,” “residents [of Jerusalem].” The present translation assumes that the term is synonymous with “messengers of peace,” with which it corresponds in the parallel structure of the verse.

18 tn Heb “messengers of peace,” apparently those responsible for negotiating the agreements that have been broken (see v. 8).

19 tn Or “desolate” (NAB, NASB); NIV, NRSV, NLT “deserted.”

20 tn Heb “the one passing by on the road ceases.”

21 tn Heb “one breaks a treaty”; NAB “Covenants are broken.”

22 tc The Hebrew text reads literally, “he despises cities.” The term עָרִים (’arim, “cities”) is probably a corruption of an original עֵדִים (’edim, “[legal] witnesses”), a reading that is preserved in the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa. Confusion of dalet (ד) and resh (ר) is a well-attested scribal error.

23 tn Heb “he does not regard human beings.”

24 tn Or “earth” (KJV); NAB “the country.”

25 tn Or “mourns” (BDB 5 s.v. I אָבַל). HALOT 6-7 lists homonyms I אבל (“mourn”) and II אבל (“dry up”). They propose the second here on the basis of parallelism. See 24:4.

26 tn Heb “Lebanon is ashamed.” The Hiphil is exhibitive, expressing the idea, “exhibits shame.” In this context the statement alludes to the withering of vegetation.

27 sn Sharon was a fertile plain along the Mediterranean coast. See 35:2.

28 tn Or “the Arabah” (NIV). See 35:1.

29 sn Both of these areas were known for their trees and vegetation. See 2:13; 35:2.

30 tn Heb “shake off [their leaves]” (so ASV, NRSV); NAB “are stripped bare.”

31 tn Or “lift myself up” (KJV); NLT “show my power and might.”

32 tn The second person verb and pronominal forms in this verse are plural. The hostile nations are the addressed, as the next verse makes clear.

33 sn The hostile nations’ plans to destroy God’s people will come to nothing; their hostility will end up being self-destructive.

34 tn Heb “will be a burning to lime.” See Amos 2:1.

35 tn Or “trembling” (ASV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV); NLT “shake with fear.”

36 tn Or “the defiled”; TEV “The sinful people of Zion”; NLT “The sinners in Jerusalem.”

37 tn The words “they say” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

38 tn Or “perpetual”; or “everlasting” (KJV, ASV, NAB, NIV, NRSV).

39 tn Heb “walks” (so NASB, NIV).

40 tn Or, possibly, “justly”; NAB “who practices virtue.”

41 tn Heb “[who] shakes off his hands from grabbing hold of a bribe.”

42 tn Heb “[who] shuts his ear from listening to bloodshed.”

43 tn Heb “[who] closes his eyes from seeing evil.”

44 tn Heb “he [in the] exalted places will live.”

45 tn Heb “mountain strongholds, cliffs [will be] his elevated place.”

46 tn Heb “your eyes will see a king in his beauty”; NIV, NRSV “the king.”

47 tn Heb “a land of distances,” i.e., an extensive land.

48 tn Heb “your heart will meditate on terror.”

49 tn The words “and you will ask yourselves” are supplied in the translation for clarification and stylistic reasons.

50 sn The people refer to various Assyrian officials who were responsible for determining the amount of taxation or tribute Judah must pay to the Assyrian king.

51 tn The Hebrew form נוֹעָז (noaz) is a Niphal participle derived from יָעַז (yaaz, an otherwise unattested verb) or from עָזָז (’azaz, “be strong,” unattested elsewhere in the Niphal). Some prefer to emend the form to לוֹעֵז (loez) which occurs in Ps 114:1 with the meaning “speak a foreign language.” See HALOT 809 s.v. עזז, 533 s.v. לעז. In this case, one might translate “people who speak a foreign language.”

52 tn Heb “a people too deep of lip to hear.” The phrase “deep of lip” must be an idiom meaning “lips that speak words that are unfathomable [i.e., incomprehensible].”

53 tn Heb “derision of tongue there is no understanding.” The Niphal of לָעַג (laag) occurs only here. In the Qal and Hiphil the verb means “to deride, mock.” A related noun is used in 28:11.

54 tn Heb “your eyes” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV).

55 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

56 tn Or “that does not travel”; NASB “which shall not be folded.”

57 tn Heb “But there [as] a mighty one [will be] the Lord for us.”

58 tn Heb “a place of rivers, streams wide of hands [i.e., on both sides].”

59 tn Heb “a ship of rowing will not go into it.”

60 tn Heb “and a mighty ship will not pass through it.”

61 tn The words “though at this time” are supplied in the translation for clarification. The first half of the verse is addressed to Judah and contrasts the nation’s present weakness with its future prosperity. Judah is compared to a ship that is incapable of sailing.

62 tn Heb “they do not fasten the base of their mast.” On כֵּן (ken, “base”) see BDB 487 s.v. III כֵּן and HALOT 483 s.v. III כֵּן.

63 tn Or perhaps, “flag.”

64 tn Heb “then there will be divided up loot of plunder [in] abundance.”

65 sn Judah’s victory over its enemies will be so thorough there will be more than enough plunder for everyone, even slow-moving lame men who would normally get left out in the rush to gather the loot.

66 tn The words “of Zion” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

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