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Isaiah: Chapter 11

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Text view alone

1But a shoot shall grow out of the stump of Jesse, A twig shall sprout from his stock. 2The spirit of the LORD shall alight upon him: A spirit of wisdom and insight, A spirit of counsel and valor, A spirit of devotion and reverence for the LORD. 3 c‐ Lit. “His sensing [shall be]”; meaning of Heb. uncertain. He shall sense the truth ‐c Lit. “His sensing [shall be]”; meaning of Heb. uncertain. by his reverence for the LORD: He shall not judge by what his eyes behold, Nor decide by what his ears perceive. 4‐Thus he shall judge the poor with equity And decide with justice for the lowly of the land. He shall strike down a land d Emendation yields “the ruthless.” with the rod of his mouth And slay the wicked with the breath of his lips. 5Justice shall be the girdle of his loins, And faithfulness the girdle of his waist. 6The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard lie down with the kid; e‐ 1QIs a reads: “The calf and the beast of prey shall feed”; so too the Septuagint. The calf, the beast of prey, and the fatling ‐e 1QIs a reads: “The calf and the beast of prey shall feed”; so too the Septuagint. together, With a little boy to herd them. 7The cow and the bear shall graze, Their young shall lie down together; And the lion, like the ox, shall eat straw. 8A babe shall play Over a viper's hole, And an infant pass a Meaning of Heb. uncertain. his hand Over an adder's den. 9In all of b‐ I.e., the Holy Land; cf. Exod. 15.17; Ps. 78.54 . My sacred mount ‐b I.e., the Holy Land; cf. Exod. 15.17; Ps. 78.54 . Nothing evil or vile shall be done; For the land shall be filled with devotion to the LORD As water covers the sea.

10In that day, The stock of Jesse that has remained standing Shall become a standard to peoples— Nations shall seek his counsel And his abode shall be honored.

11In that day, my Lord will apply His hand again to redeeming the other part c I.e., the part outside the Holy Land; lit. “the rest that will remain.” of His people from Assyria—as also from Egypt, Pathros, Nubia, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and the coastlands.

12He will hold up a signal to the nations And assemble the banished of Israel, And gather the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth.

13Then Ephraim's envy shall cease And Judah's harassment shall end; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, And Judah shall not harass Ephraim. 14They shall pounce on the back of Philistia to the west, And together plunder the peoples of the east; Edom and Moab shall be subject to them And the children of Ammon shall obey them.

15The LORD will dry up the tongue of the Egyptian sea.—He will raise His hand over the Euphrates with the might a Meaning of Heb. uncertain. of His wind and break it into seven wadis, so that it can be trodden dry‐shod. 16 Thus there shall be a highway for the other part c I.e., the part outside the Holy Land; lit. “the rest that will remain.” of His people out of Assyria, such as there was for Israel when it left the land of Egypt.

Notes:

c‐c Lit. “His sensing [shall be]”; meaning of Heb. uncertain.

d Emendation yields “the ruthless.”

e‐e 1QIs a reads: “The calf and the beast of prey shall feed”; so too the Septuagint.

a Meaning of Heb. uncertain.

b‐b I.e., the Holy Land; cf. Exod. 15.17; Ps. 78.54 .

c I.e., the part outside the Holy Land; lit. “the rest that will remain.”

Text Commentary view alone

Part III. 11.1–12.10 .

The ideal king in the peaceful future: The poem's final section is a messianic and eschatological prophecy comparable to 2.1–4 and 9.1–6 . Once vain human striving for empire ends (section II), a perfect Davidic king will reign in Jerusalem, and all the world will enjoy peace and equity.

1–5 :

The ideal age as manifested in jurisprudence. The king will be endowed with prophetic insight.

1 :

Jesse was King David's father; the shoot…out of the stump of Jesse is a king from David's dynasty. The imagery of the previous section continues here, linking the second and third sections of the poem. Whereas the high trees representing Assyria's imperial haughtiness will be cut down to size ( 10.33–34 ), real strength will emerge from the lowest part—the stock (lit. “roots”)—of the humble tree representing David's dynasty. Isaiah's insistence on humility and displeasure with human conceit determine the contrast between the images of trees in 11.1 and 10.33–34 ; cf. 2.2–4.6 . If the translation stump is correct, then this passage may presume that the Davidic dynasty will (or has) come to an end; this reading would deviate significantly from Isaiah's notion that Davidic kings will reign eternally (cf. 2 Sam. 7.8–16; Ps. 89.20–37 ). But the Heb “geza‘” refers not only to a stump of a tree that has been cut down but also to the trunk of a living tree. The latter translation does not presuppose the dynasty's downfall.

4 :

The messianic age will not be perfect; some people will still be poor, others ruthless or wicked. The difference from the current age will lie, rather, in the king's response to these problems: He will always render accurate and fair judgments. Cf. 2.2–4 , where conflicts among nations continue but are settled nonviolently.

6–9 :

The ideal age as manifested in nature.

10–16 :

The ideal age as manifested in Israel's relationship to other nations.

10 :

As in 2.2–4 , nations come to Jerusalem to receive instructions. The Davidic king will act as the prophetic conduit through whom responses to the nations' inquiries will come.

11–16 :

The ingathering of exiles, which is compared to the exodus from Egypt. Some view this passage as dating to the Babylonian exile (which began in 597, long after Isaiah's death) or thereafter. Northern Israelites had already been exiled in Isaiah's lifetime, however, and Isaiah predicted that many Judeans outside Jerusalem would be exiled by the Assyrians.

11 :

The list of nations is found in Assyrian texts much earlier than 597. Thus some see no reason to deny Isaiah's authorship of vv. 11–16 . The other part, or “remnant.” Elsewhere in Isaiah this term refers to Judeans who, having survived Assyrian invasion, remain in the land of Israel. Its use here to refer to exiles who return to the land of Israel is unique and may support the suggestion that these vv. are a later addition.

13 :

Ephraim and Judah refer to the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, whose relationship reached a low point during the Syro‐Ephraimite crisis (see 7.1–8.23 n. ).

14 :

This is one of the only verses in First Isaiah that anticipates the Israelites and Judeans taking vengeance on their enemies. It contradicts not only the prediction of a nonviolent messianic age earlier in this ch but the consistent rejection of national revenge in Isaiah's prophecies. It may shed additional doubt on Isaianic authorship of vv. 11–16 .

12.1–6 :

A song of thanksgiving to be recited in the ideal age. Many of these phrases occur in other songs of thanksgiving, especially those associated with the exodus from Egypt. Cf. v. 2 with Exod. 15.2 and Ps. 118.14; cf. v. 4 with Ps. 105.1 and 148.13 . Isaiah or a later editor may have capped this section with quotations from these and other well‐known hymns.

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