56:10 All their watchmen 1 are blind,
they are unaware. 2
All of them are like mute dogs,
unable to bark.
They pant, 3 lie down,
and love to snooze.
56:11 The dogs have big appetites;
they are never full. 4
They are shepherds who have no understanding;
they all go their own way,
each one looking for monetary gain. 5
1 sn The “watchmen” are probably spiritual leaders, most likely prophets and priests, responsible for giving the people moral direction.
2 tn Heb “they do not know”; KJV “they are all ignorant”; NIV “they all lack knowledge.”
3 tn The Hebrew text has הֹזִים (hozim), which appears to be derived from an otherwise unattested verbal root הָזָה (hazah). On the basis of alleged cognates, BDB 223 s.v. הָזָה offers the definition “dream, rave” while HALOT 243 s.v. הזה lists “pant.” In this case the dog metaphor of the preceding lines continues. The reference to dogs at the beginning of v. 11 favors the extension of the metaphor. The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa has חזים (“seers”) here. In this case the “watchmen” are directly identified as prophets and depicted as lazy.
4 sn The phrase never full alludes to the greed of the leaders.
5 tn Heb “for his gain from his end.”