Egypt Will Prove Unreliable
1 “The rebellious#tn Or “stubborn” (NCV); cf. NIV “obstinate.” children are as good as dead,”#tn Heb “Woe [to] rebellious children.” says the Lord,
“those who make plans without consulting me,#tn Heb “making a plan, but not from me.”
who form alliances without consulting my Spirit,#tn Heb “and pouring out a libation, but not [from] my spirit.” This translation assumes that the verb נָסַךְ (nasakh) means “pour out,” and that the cognate noun מַסֵּכָה (massekhah) means “libation.” In this case “pouring out a libation” alludes to a ceremony that formally ratifies an alliance. Another option is to understand the verb נָסַךְ as a homonym meaning “weave,” and the cognate noun מַסֵּכָה as a homonym meaning “covering.” In this case forming an alliance is likened to weaving a garment.
and thereby compound their sin.#tn Heb “consequently adding sin to sin.”
2 They travel down to Egypt
without seeking my will,#tn Heb “those who go to descend to Egypt, but [of] my mouth they do not inquire.”
seeking Pharaoh’s protection,
and looking for safety in Egypt’s protective shade.#tn Heb “to seek protection in the protection of Pharaoh, and to seek refuge in the shade of Egypt.”
3 But Pharaoh’s protection will bring you nothing but shame,
and the safety of Egypt’s protective shade nothing but humiliation.
4 Though his#sn This probably refers to Judah’s officials and messengers. officials are in Zoan
and his messengers arrive at Hanes,#sn Zoan was located in the Egyptian delta in the north; Hanes was located somewhere in southern region of lower Egypt, south of Memphis; the exact location is debated.
5 all will be put to shame#tn The present translation follows the marginal (Qere) reading of the Hebrew text; the consonantal text (Kethib) has “made to stink, decay.”
because of a nation that cannot help them,
who cannot give them aid or help,
but only shame and disgrace.”
6 This is a message#tn Traditionally, “burden” (so KJV, ASV); NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV “oracle.” about the animals in the Negev:
Through a land of distress and danger,
inhabited by lionesses and roaring lions,#tc Heb “[a land of] a lioness and a lion, from them.” Some emend מֵהֶם (mehem, “from them”) to מֵהֵם (mehem), an otherwise unattested Hiphil participle from הָמַם (hamam, “move noisily”). Perhaps it would be better to take the initial mem (מ) as enclitic and emend the form to הֹמֶה (homeh), a Qal active participle from הָמָה (hamah, “to make a noise”); cf. J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:542, n. 9.
by snakes and darting adders,#tn Heb “flying fiery one.” See the note at 14:29.
they transport#tn Or “carry” (KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV). their wealth on the backs of donkeys,
their riches on the humps of camels,
to a nation that cannot help them.#sn This verse describes messengers from Judah transporting wealth to Egypt in order to buy Pharaoh’s protection through a treaty.
7 Egypt is totally incapable of helping.#tn Heb “As for Egypt, with vanity and emptiness they help.”
For this reason I call her
‘Proud one#tn Heb “Rahab” (רַהַב, rahav), which also appears as a name for Egypt in Ps 87:4. The epithet is also used in the OT for a mythical sea monster symbolic of chaos. See the note at 51:9. A number of English versions use the name “Rahab” (e.g., ASV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV) while others attempt some sort of translation (cf. CEV “a helpless monster”; TEV, NLT “the Harmless Dragon”). who is silenced.’”#tn The MT reads “Rahab, they, sitting.” The translation above assumes an emendation of הֵם שָׁבֶת (hem shavet) to הַמָּשְׁבָּת (hammashbat), a Hophal participle with prefixed definite article, meaning “the one who is made to cease,” i.e., “destroyed,” or “silenced.” See HALOT 444-45 s.v. ישׁב.
8 Now go, write it#tn The referent of the third feminine singular pronominal suffix is uncertain. Perhaps it refers to the preceding message, which accuses the people of rejecting the Lord’s help in favor of an alliance with Egypt. down on a tablet in their presence,#tn Heb “with them.” On the use of the preposition here, see BDB 86 s.v. II אֵת.
inscribe it on a scroll,
so that it might be preserved for a future time
as an enduring witness.#sn Recording the message will enable the prophet to use it in the future as evidence that God warned his people of impending judgment and clearly spelled out the nation’s guilt. An official record of the message will also serve as proof of the prophet’s authority as God’s spokesman.
9 For these are rebellious people –
they are lying children,
children unwilling to obey the Lord’s law.#tn Or perhaps, “instruction” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV); NCV, TEV “teachings.”
10 They#tn Heb “who” (so NASB, NRSV). A new sentence was started here in the translation for stylistic reasons. say to the visionaries, “See no more visions!”
and to the seers, “Don’t relate messages to us about what is right!#tn Heb “Do not see for us right things.”
Tell us nice things,
relate deceptive messages.#tn Heb “Tell us smooth things, see deceptive things.”
11 Turn aside from the way,
stray off the path.#sn The imagery refers to the way or path of truth, as revealed by God to the prophet.
Remove from our presence the Holy One of Israel.”#sn See the note on the phrase “the Holy One of Israel” in 1:4.
12 For this reason this is what the Holy One of Israel says:
“You have rejected this message;#tn The sentence actually begins with the word “because.” In the Hebrew text vv. 12-13 are one long sentence.
you trust instead in your ability to oppress and trick,#tn Heb “and you trust in oppression and cunning.”
and rely on that kind of behavior.#tn Heb “and you lean on it”; NAB “and depend on it.”
13 So this sin will become your downfall.
You will be like a high wall
that bulges and cracks and is ready to collapse;
it crumbles suddenly, in a flash.#tn The verse reads literally, “So this sin will become for you like a breach ready to fall, bulging on a high wall, the breaking of which comes suddenly, in a flash.” Their sin produces guilt and will result in judgment. Like a wall that collapses their fall will be swift and sudden.
14 It shatters in pieces like a clay jar,
so shattered to bits that none of it can be salvaged.#tn Heb “Its shattering is like the shattering of a jug of [i.e., “made by”] potters, [so] shattered one cannot save [any of it].”
Among its fragments one cannot find a shard large enough#tn The words “large enough” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
to scoop a hot coal from a fire#tn Heb “to remove fire from the place of kindling.”
or to skim off water from a cistern.”#tn On the meaning of גֶבֶא (geveh, “cistern”) see HALOT 170 s.v.
15 For this is what the master, the Lord, the Holy One of Israel says:
“If you repented and patiently waited for me, you would be delivered;#tn Heb “in returning and in quietness you will be delivered.” Many English versions render the last phrase “shall be saved” or something similar (e.g., NAB, NASB, NRSV).
if you calmly trusted in me you would find strength,#tn Heb “in quietness and in trust is your strength” (NASB and NRSV both similar).
but you are unwilling.
16 You say, ‘No, we will flee on horses,’
so you will indeed flee.
You say, ‘We will ride on fast horses,’
so your pursuers will be fast.
17 One thousand will scurry at the battle cry of one enemy soldier;#tn Heb “One thousand from before [or “because of”] one battle cry.” גְּעָרָה (gÿ’arah) is often defined as “threat,” but in war contexts it likely refers to a shout or battle cry. See Ps 76:6.
at the battle cry of five enemy soldiers you will all run away,#tn Heb “from before [or “because of”] the battle cry of five you will flee.
until the remaining few are as isolated#tn Heb “until you are left” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV).
as a flagpole on a mountaintop
or a signal flag on a hill.”
The Lord Will Not Abandon His People
18 For this reason the Lord is ready to show you mercy;
he sits on his throne, ready to have compassion on you.#tn Heb “Therefore the Lord waits to show you mercy, and therefore he is exalted to have compassion on you.” The logical connection between this verse and what precedes is problematic. The point seems to be that Judah’s impending doom does not bring God joy. Rather the prospect of their suffering stirs within him a willingness to show mercy and compassion, if they are willing to seek him on his terms.
Indeed, the Lord is a just God;
all who wait for him in faith will be blessed.#tn Heb “Blessed are all who wait for him.”
19 For people will live in Zion;
in Jerusalem#map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. you will weep no more.#tn Heb “For people in Zion will live, in Jerusalem, you will weep no more.” The phrase “in Jerusalem” could be taken with what precedes. Some prefer to emend יֵשֵׁב (yeshev, “will live,” a Qal imperfect) to יֹשֵׁב (yoshev, a Qal active participle) and translate “For [you] people in Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more.”
When he hears your cry of despair, he will indeed show you mercy;
when he hears it, he will respond to you.#tn Heb “he will indeed show you mercy at the sound of your crying out; when he hears, he will answer you.”
20 The sovereign master#tn The Hebrew term translated “sovereign master” here is אֲדֹנָי (’adonai). will give you distress to eat
and suffering to drink;#tn Heb “and the Master will give to you bread – distress, and water – oppression.”
but your teachers will no longer be hidden;
your eyes will see them.#tn Heb “but your teachers will no longer be hidden, your eyes will be seeing your teachers.” The translation assumes that the form מוֹרֶיךָ (morekha) is a plural participle, referring to spiritual leaders such as prophets and priests. Another possibility is that the form is actually singular (see GKC 273-74 §93.ss) or a plural of respect, referring to God as the master teacher. See HALOT 560-61 s.v. III מוֹרֶה. For discussion of the views, see J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:560.
21 You#tn Heb “your ears” (so NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV). will hear a word spoken behind you, saying,
“This is the correct#tn The word “correct’ is supplied in the translation for clarification. way, walk in it,”
whether you are heading to the right or the left.
22 You will desecrate your silver-plated idols#tn Heb “the platings of your silver idols.”
and your gold-plated images.#tn Heb “the covering of your gold image.”
You will throw them away as if they were a menstrual rag,
saying to them, “Get out!”
23 He will water the seed you plant in the ground,
and the ground will produce crops in abundance.#tn Heb “and he will give rain for your seed which you plant in the ground, and food [will be] the produce of the ground, and it will be rich and abundant.”
At that time#tn Or “in that day” (KJV). your cattle will graze in wide pastures.
24 The oxen and donkeys used in plowing#tn Heb “the oxen and the donkeys that work the ground.”
will eat seasoned feed winnowed with a shovel and pitchfork.#sn Crops will be so abundant that even the work animals will eat well.
25 On every high mountain
and every high hill
there will be streams flowing with water,
at the time of#tn Or “in the day of” (KJV). great slaughter when the fortified towers collapse.
26 The light of the full moon will be like the sun’s glare
and the sun’s glare will be seven times brighter,
like the light of seven days,#sn Light here symbolizes restoration of divine blessing and prosperity. The number “seven” is used symbolically to indicate intensity. The exact meaning of the phrase “the light of seven days” is uncertain; it probably means “seven times brighter” (see the parallel line).
when the Lord binds up his people’s fractured bones#tn Heb “the fracture of his people” (so NASB). sn The Lord is here compared to a physician setting a broken bone in a bandage or cast.
and heals their severe wound.#tn Heb “the injury of his wound.” The joining of synonyms emphasizes the severity of the wound. Another option is to translate, “the wound of his blow.” In this case the pronominal suffix might refer to the Lord, not the people, yielding the translation, “the wound which he inflicted.”
27 Look, the name#sn The “name” of the Lord sometimes stands by metonymy for the Lord himself, see Exod 23:21; Lev 24:11; Pss 54:1 (54:3 HT); 124:8. In Isa 30:27 the point is that he reveals that aspect of his character which his name suggests – he comes as Yahweh (“he is present”), the ever present helper of his people who annihilates their enemies and delivers them. The name “Yahweh” originated in a context where God assured a fearful Moses that he would be with him as he confronted Pharaoh and delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt. See Exod 3. of the Lord comes from a distant place
in raging anger and awesome splendor.#tn Heb “his anger burns, and heaviness of elevation.” The meaning of the phrase “heaviness of elevation” is unclear, for מַשָּׂאָה (masa’ah, “elevation”) occurs only here. Some understand the term as referring to a cloud (elevated above the earth’s surface), in which case one might translate, “and in heavy clouds” (cf. NAB “with lowering clouds”). Others relate the noun to מָשָׂא (masa’, “burden”) and interpret it as a reference to judgment. In this case one might translate, “and with severe judgment.” The present translation assumes that the noun refers to his glory and that “heaviness” emphasizes its degree.
He speaks angrily
and his word is like destructive fire.#tn Heb “his lips are full of anger, and his tongue is like consuming fire.” The Lord’s lips and tongue are used metonymically for his word (or perhaps his battle cry; see v. 31).
28 His battle cry overwhelms like a flooding river#tn Heb “his breath is like a flooding river.” This might picture the Lord breathing heavily as he runs down his enemy, but in light of the preceding verse, which mentions his lips and tongue, “breath” probably stands metonymically for the word or battle cry that he expels from his mouth as he shouts. In Isa 34:16 and Ps 33:6 the Lord’s “breath” is associated with his command.
that reaches one’s neck.
He shakes the nations in a sieve that isolates the chaff;#tn Heb “shaking nations in a sieve of worthlessness.” It is not certain exactly how שָׁוְא (shavÿ’, “emptiness, worthlessness”) modifies “sieve.” A sieve is used to separate grain from chaff and isolate what is worthless so that it might be discarded. Perhaps the nations are likened to such chaff; God’s judgment will sift them out for destruction.
he puts a bit into the mouth of the nations and leads them to destruction.#tn Heb “and a bit that leads astray [is] in the jaws of the peoples.” Here the nations are likened to horse that can be controlled by a bit placed in its mouth. In this case the Lord uses his sovereign control over the “horse” to lead it to its demise.
29 You will sing
as you do in the evening when you are celebrating a festival.
You will be happy like one who plays a flute
as he goes to the mountain of the Lord, the Rock who shelters Israel.#tn Heb “[you will have] joy of heart, like the one going with a flute to enter the mountain of the Lord to the Rock of Israel.” The image here is not a foundational rock, but a rocky cliff where people could hide for protection (for example, the fortress of Masada).
30 The Lord will give a mighty shout#tn Heb “the Lord will cause the splendor of his voice to be heard.”
and intervene in power,#tn Heb “and reveal the lowering of his arm.”
with furious anger and flaming, destructive fire,#tn Heb “and a flame of consuming fire.”
with a driving rainstorm and hailstones.
31 Indeed, the Lord’s shout will shatter Assyria;#tn Heb “Indeed by the voice of the Lord Assyria will be shattered.”
he will beat them with a club.
32 Every blow from his punishing cudgel,#tc The Hebrew text has “every blow from a founded [i.e., “appointed”?] cudgel.” The translation above, with support from a few medieval Hebrew mss, assumes an emendation of מוּסָדָה (musadah, “founded”) to מוּסָרֹה (musaroh, “his discipline”).
with which the Lord will beat them,#tn Heb “which the Lord lays on him.”
will be accompanied by music from the#tn Heb “will be with” (KJV similar). tambourine and harp,
and he will attack them with his weapons.#tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “and with battles of brandishing [weapons?] he will fight against him.” Some prefer to emend וּבְמִלְחֲמוֹת (uvÿmilkhamot, “and with battles of”) to וּבִמְחֹלוֹת (uvimkholot, “and with dancing”). Note the immediately preceding references to musical instruments.
33 For#tn Or “indeed.” the burial place is already prepared;#tc The Hebrew text reads literally, “for arranged from before [or “yesterday”] is [?].” The meaning of תָּפְתֶּה (tafÿteh), which occurs only here, is unknown. The translation above (as with most English versions) assumes an emendation to תֹּפֶת (tofet, “Topheth”; cf. NASB, NIV, NLT) and places the final hey (ה) on the beginning of the next word as an interrogative particle. Topheth was a place near Jerusalem used as a burial ground (see Jer 7:32; 19:11).
it has been made deep and wide for the king.#tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “Also it is made ready for the king, one makes it deep and wide.” If one takes the final hey (ה) on תָּפְתֶּה (tafÿteh) and prefixes it to גָּם (gam) as an interrogative particle (see the preceding note), one can translate, “Is it also made ready for the king?” In this case the question is rhetorical and expects an emphatic affirmative answer, “Of course it is!”
The firewood is piled high on it.#tn Heb “its pile of wood, fire and wood one makes abundant.”sn Apparently this alludes to some type of funeral rite.
The Lord’s breath, like a stream flowing with brimstone,
will ignite it.