1 WOE TO [Samaria] the crown of pride of the drunkards of Ephraim [the ten tribes], and to the fading flower of its glorious beauty, which is on the head of the rich valley of those overcome and smitten down with wine!
2 Behold, the Lord has a strong and mighty one [the Assyrian]; like a tempest of hail, a destroying storm, like a flood of mighty overflowing waters, he will cast it down to the earth with violent hand.
3 With [alien] feet [Samaria] the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim will be trodden down.
4 And the fading flower of its glorious beauty, which is on the head of the rich valley, will be like the early fig before the fruit harvest, which, when anyone sees it, he snatches and eats it up greedily at once. [So in an amazingly short time will the Assyrians devour Samaria, Israel's capital.]
5 [But] in that [future Messianic] day the Lord of hosts shall become a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty to the [converted] remnant of His people,
6 And a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment and administers the law, and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.
7 But even these reel from wine and stagger from strong drink: the priest and the prophet reel from strong drink; they are confused from wine, they stagger and are gone astray through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble when pronouncing judgment.
8 For all the tables are full of filthy vomit, so that there is no place that is clean.
9 To whom will He teach knowledge? [Ask the drunkards.] And whom will He make to understand the message? Those who are babies, just weaned from the milk and taken from the breasts? [Is that what He thinks we are?]
10 For it is [His prophets repeating over and over]: precept upon precept, precept upon precept, rule upon rule, rule upon rule; here a little, there a little.
11 No, but [the Lord will teach the rebels in a more humiliating way] by men with stammering lips and another tongue will He speak to this people [says Isaiah, and teach them His lessons].
12 To these [complaining Jews the Lord] had said, This is the true rest [the way to true comfort and happiness] that you shall give to the weary, and, This is the [true] refreshing–yet they would not listen [to His teaching].
13 Therefore the word of the Lord will be to them [merely monotonous repeatings of]: precept upon precept, precept upon precept, rule upon rule, rule upon rule; here a little, there a little–that they may go and fall backward, and be broken and snared and taken.
14 Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem!
15 Because you have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol (the place of the dead) we have an agreement–when the overflowing scourge passes through, it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter.
16 Therefore thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am laying in Zion for a foundation a Stone, a tested Stone, a precious Cornerstone of sure foundation; he who believes (trusts in, relies on, and adheres to that Stone) will not be ashamed or give way or hasten away [in sudden panic]. [Ps. 118:22; Matt. 21:42; Acts 4:11; Rom. 9:33; Eph. 2:20; I Pet. 2:4-6.]
17 I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plummet; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the hiding place (the shelter).
18 And your covenant with death shall be annulled, and your agreement with Sheol (the place of the dead) shall not stand; when the overwhelming scourge passes through, then you will be trodden down by it.
19 As often as it passes through, it [the enemy's scourge] will take you; for morning by morning will it pass through, by day and by night. And it will be utter terror merely to hear and comprehend the report and the message of it [but only hard treatment and dispersion will make you understand God's instruction].
20 For [they will find that] the bed is too short for a man to stretch himself on and the covering too narrow for him to wrap himself in. [All their sources of confidence will fail them.]
21 For the Lord will rise up as on Mount Perazim, He will be wrathful as in the Valley of Gibeon, that He may do His work, His strange work, and bring to pass His act, His strange act. [II Sam. 5:20; I Chron. 14:16.]
22 Now therefore do not be scoffers, lest the bands which bind you be made strong; for a decree of destruction have I heard from the Lord God of hosts upon the whole land and the whole earth.
23 Give ear and hear my [Isaiah's] voice; listen and hear my words.
24 Does he who plows for sowing plow continually? Does he continue to plow and harrow the ground after it is smooth?
25 When he has leveled its surface, does he not cast abroad [the seed of] dill or fennel and scatter cummin [a seasoning], and put the wheat in rows, and barley in its intended place, and spelt [an inferior kind of wheat] as the border?
26 [And he trains each of them correctly] for his God instructs him correctly and teaches him.
27 For dill is not threshed with a sharp threshing instrument, nor is a cartwheel rolled over cummin; but dill is beaten off with a staff, and cummin with a rod [by hand].
28 Does one crush bread grain? No, he does not thresh it continuously. But when he has driven his cartwheel and his horses over it, he scatters it [tossing it up to the wind] without having crushed it.
29 This also comes from the Lord of hosts, Who is wonderful in counsel [and] excellent in wisdom and effectual working.