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Isaiah: Chapter 9

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Text view alone

1 f See note b at 5.30 . The people that walked in darkness Have seen a brilliant light; On those who dwelt in a land of gloom Light has dawned. 2You have magnified that nation, Have given it great joy; They have rejoiced before You As they rejoice at reaping time, As they exult When dividing spoil. 3For the yoke that they bore And the stick on their back— The rod of their taskmaster— You have broken as on the day of Midian. a See Judg. 7–8 . 4Truly, all the boots put on b‐ Meaning of Heb. uncertain; emendation yields “in wickedness”; cf. Targum. to stamp with ‐b Meaning of Heb. uncertain; emendation yields “in wickedness”; cf. Targum. And all the garments donned in infamy Have been fed to the flames, Devoured by fire. 5For a child has been born to us, A son has been given us. And authority has settled on his shoulders. He has been named “The Mighty God is planning grace; c As in 25.1 . The Eternal Father, a peaceable ruler”— 6In token of abundant authority And of peace without limit Upon David's throne and kingdom, That it may be firmly established In justice and in equity Now and evermore. The zeal of the LORD of Hosts Shall bring this to pass.

7My Lord d‐ Septuagint reads “Let loose pestilence”; cf. Amos 4.10. In vv. 7–20 Isaiah alludes to and builds upon Amos 4.10–12 . Let loose a word ‐d Septuagint reads “Let loose pestilence”; cf. Amos 4.10. In vv. 7–20 Isaiah alludes to and builds upon Amos 4.10–12 . against Jacob And it fell upon Israel. 8But all the people noted e 1QIsa reads “shouted.” Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria— In arrogance and haughtiness: 9“Bricks have fallen— We'll rebuild with dressed stone; Sycamores have been felled— We'll grow cedars instead!” 10So the LORD let f‐ Emendation yields “its enemies.” the enemies of Rezin ‐f Emendation yields “its enemies.” Triumph over it And stirred up its foes— 11Aram from the east And Philistia from the west— Who devoured Israel With greedy mouths. Yet His anger has not turned back, And His arm is outstretched still.

12For the people has not turned back To Him who struck it And has not sought The LORD of Hosts. 13So the LORD will cut off from Israel Head and tail, Palm branch and reed, In a single day. 14Elders a‐ Emendation yields “who practice partiality.” and magnates ‐a Emendation yields “who practice partiality.” Such are the heads; Prophets who give false instruction, Such are the tails b Emendation yields “palm branches”; the elders and the prophets are the leaders, the people are the led; cf. 3.1–2, 12 . 15That people's leaders have been misleaders, So they that are led have been confused. 16That is why my Lord Will not spare c Cf. Arabic samuπa. 1QIsa reads yπmw. their youths, Nor show compassion To their orphans and widows; For all are ungodly and wicked, And every mouth speaks impiety.

17Already wickedness has blazed forth like a fire Devouring thorn and thistle. It has kindled the thickets of the wood, d‐ Meaning of Heb. uncertain. Which have turned into billowing smoke. ‐d Meaning of Heb. uncertain.

e‐ Moved down from v. 16 for clarity. Yet His anger has not turned back, And His arm is outstretched still. ‐e Moved down from v. 16 for clarity.

18By the fury of the LORD of Hosts, The earth was shaken. f Cf. note at 5.25 . Next, the people became like devouring fire: No man spared his countryman. 19They snatched on the right, but remained hungry, And consumed on the left without being sated. Each devoured the flesh of his g‐ Meaning of Heb. uncertain. Emendation yields “fellow”; cf. Targum. own kindred ‐g Meaning of Heb. uncertain. Emendation yields “fellow”; cf. Targum. 20Manasseh Ephraim's, and Ephraim Manasseh's, h Alludes to the civil wars of 2 Kings 15.10, 14–16, 25 . And both of them against Judah! i Cf. 7.1–9 . Yet His anger has not turned back, And His arm is outstretched still.

Notes:

f See note b at 5.30 .

a See Judg. 7–8 .

b‐b Meaning of Heb. uncertain; emendation yields “in wickedness”; cf. Targum.

c As in 25.1 .

d‐d Septuagint reads “Let loose pestilence”; cf. Amos 4.10. In vv. 7–20 Isaiah alludes to and builds upon Amos 4.10–12 .

e 1QIsa reads “shouted.”

f‐f Emendation yields “its enemies.”

a‐a Emendation yields “who practice partiality.”

b Emendation yields “palm branches”; the elders and the prophets are the leaders, the people are the led; cf. 3.1–2, 12 .

c Cf. Arabic samuπa. 1QIsa reads yπmw.

d‐d Meaning of Heb. uncertain.

e‐e Moved down from v. 16 for clarity.

f Cf. note at 5.25 .

g‐g Meaning of Heb. uncertain. Emendation yields “fellow”; cf. Targum.

h Alludes to the civil wars of 2 Kings 15.10, 14–16, 25 .

i Cf. 7.1–9 .

Text Commentary view alone

9.1–6 :

The ideal Davidic king. Isaiah describes liberation from some form of adversity (perhaps the Assyrian conquests of Israelite territory described in the previous vv., or Syro‐Ephraimite pressures on Judah). The verbs are in the past tense. Some interpreters view them as examples of the “prophetic past,” which predicts future events using the past tense because they are as good as done. Thus it is not clear whether the Davidic king whose birth and rule are described (vv. 5–6 ) has already been born (if the verbs are a regular past tense) or will be born in the future (prophetic past). If the former, the v. probably refers to Ahaz's son Hezekiah, as many modern and rabbinic commentators believe (though other possibilities exist depending on the date of the passage). Most later readers (both Jewish and Christian) understood the passage to describe an ideal future ruler, i.e., the Messiah.

5 :

“The Mighty God…ruler”: This long sentence is the throne name of the royal child. Semitic names often consist of sentences that describe God; thus the name Isaiah in Hebrew means “The LORD saves”; Hezekiah, “The LORD strengthens”; in Akkadian, the name of the Babylonian king Merodach‐baladan (Isa. 39.1 ) means “the god Marduk has provided an heir.” These names do not describe that person who holds them but the god whom the parents worship. Similarly, the name given to the child in this v. does not describe that child or attribute divinity to him, contrary to classical Christian readings of this messianic verse.

9.7–10.4 :

The fate of the Northern Kingdom, Israel. A repeated refrain in 9.11, 16, 21, and 10.4 structures this poem into four sections. The same refrain is found in 5.25 , and scholars speculate that 5.25–30 may originally have been the poem's fifth and final section. The verbs here are in the past tense, but their significance is unclear. They may predict disasters to come (in which case the verbs exemplify “the prophetic past” described in 9.1–6 n. ); alternatively they may review disasters that God already sent in an unsuccessful attempt to chasten the Northern Kingdom (in which case the prophet does not predict coming events but presents an interpretation of recent history). The verbs in 5.26–30 clearly have a future tense and represent a prediction of Assyrian invasion which ends the poem. The following remarks assume the verbs in the first four sections refer to the past and are interpretations of recent events, not predictions of upcoming ones.

7–11 :

The first section may refer to the earthquake that shook Israel and Judah early in Isaiah's career; cf. Amos 1.1; Zech. 14.5 .

12–17 :

The second section refers to the chaos in the Northern Kingdom during the coups and massacres described in the mid‐740 s (see 2 Kings ch 15 ).

18–20 :

The third section recalls the earthquake, political chaos, and Israel's anti‐Judean policies during the Syro‐Ephraimite crisis.

10.1–4 :

The fourth section. As he comes to the climax of his indictment against the Northern Kingdom, the prophet returns to the theme of the rich who mistreat the poor and pervert justice for their own gain; cf. 1.17; 3.8–15; 5.8–10; 32.7 .

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