4:1. Masoretic Text: And, in that day, seven women will take hold of one man, saying, “We will eat our [own] bread and wear our [own] clothing; only have your name called upon us. Remove our reproach.”
Septuagint: And seven women will take hold of one man, saying, “We will eat our [own] bread and wear our [own] garments; only have your name called upon us. Remove our reproach.”
Enemy invasions would greatly reduce the male population, resulting in a scarcity of marriageable men. In the then-existing culture, spinsterhood was a disgrace. Therefore, seven women, representative of a considerable number, would agree to share the same man, assuring him of their willingness to care for their own needs — food and clothing. This meant relieving him of what normally would have been his obligation toward them. (Compare Exodus 21:10, 11.) Their sole concern would be to have the status of married women (or to have the man’s name as part of their identity), freeing them from the reproach of not having a husband.
4:2. Masoretic Text: In that day the sprout of YHWH will be magnificent and glorious, and the fruit of the land [will be] the pride and beauty of Israel’s survivors [literally, “what had escaped”].
Septuagint: But on that day God, with glory, will shine in counsel upon the earth, to exalt and glorify what remains of Israel.
According to the Targum of Isaiah, the “sprout of YHWH” is the “anointed one” or the Messiah, and the escaped ones of Israel are identified as those who observe the law.
The reading of the Septuagint suggests a completely different thought. Possibly the “counsel” is to be understood of the guidance YHWH would provide, and his splendor or glory would be revealed through this counsel. In this way he would shine upon the earth or land, and the remnant of Israel would be exalted and glorified because of benefiting from his dependable guidance.
The words of this verse served to provide hope and comfort to the few in the kingdom of Judah who were endeavoring to heed YHWH’s commands. After the execution of his judgment, a time of restoration would follow. In that “day” or time, the desolated land would again become productive or beautifully adorned with flourishing crops. Thus the fruit or produce of the land would be glorious. The reference to the “sprout of YHWH” may be understood to designate the vegetation that would sprout from the soil and which the people would perceive as an evidence of YHWH’s blessing and, therefore, his sprout. As a result, the repentant remnant of Israel that would again be occupying the land could take pride in what it produced. Instead of the scarcity that would occasion shame, the people, on account of having an abundance, would enjoy a state of glory or dignity.
4:3. Masoretic Text: And it will be [that] what is left in Zion and what remains in Jerusalem will be called holy to him, all [those] written [down] for life in Jerusalem,
Septuagint: And it will be [that] what is left in Zion and what remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, all [those] written [down] for life in Jerusalem,
The cleansed remnant of God’s people who would reside in the land would be called holy, clean, or pure. This indicates that YHWH would recognize them as being such. As repentant, godly residents in Jerusalem, they would have their names recorded for life. Their names would, as it were, be written down in a scroll listing those whom YHWH approved. (Compare Malachi 3:16.)
4:4. Masoretic Text: when my Lord will have washed off the excrement of the daughters of Zion and rinsed the blood of Jerusalem from her midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning.
Septuagint: because the Lord will wash off the filth of the sons and daughters of Zion and purge the blood from their midst by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of burning.
The Hebrew word for “blood” (dam) is plural and could be translated “bloodstains.”
Instead of “burning,” the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah reads sá‘ar, meaning “gale,” “storm,” or “tempest.”
On account of a sordid record of unfaithfulness on the part of her inhabitants, Zion or Jerusalem was covered with filth and guilty of shedding innocent blood. YHWH, the One whom Isaiah recognized as his Lord, would, in time, produce a people with a pure standing, washing off all defilement and cleansing them from the bloodstains of the past. He would do so by manifesting a “spirit of judgment,” submitting them to his punitive judgment for unfaithfulness, and a “spirit of burning,” suggestive of a severe, fiery experience. According to the reading of the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the people’s experience would be comparable to being buffeted by a fierce storm. This severe disciplinary action on YHWH’s part, including the devastation of Zion and the exile of survivors, would produce a cleansed, repentant people who would return from exile and take up residence in the city and the land of Judah. Accordingly, by reason of the change effected in the inhabitants, Zion or Jerusalem (as the capital and representative of the territory of Judah) would cease to be tainted by the former filth and bloodstains.
4:5. Masoretic Text: And YHWH will create over the entire site of Mount Zion and over her assembly a cloud by day, and smoke and the brightness of a flaming fire by night, for over all the glory [there will be] a cover.
Septuagint: And he will be present, and upon every place of Mount Zion and everything round about, a cloud will overshadow by day and [something] like smoke and like light of burning fire by night. All the glory will be sheltered.
In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, all the words after “day” are missing and do not parallel the Masoretic Text until after the word “day” in verse 6. Apparently, at some point in the copying process, a scribe skipped to the second occurrence of the word “day” in error and did not notice his mistake. This illustrates that the oldest manuscripts do not always preserve a more reliable text. One must carefully evaluate variant readings and, at times, acknowledge that there is no way to determine what might have been the original text.
The Septuagint reading is longer than the Masoretic Text, opening with the words “he will be present” or “he will have come,” with apparent reference to YHWH’s being with his people.
YHWH’s presence would be manifest over all of Zion or, according to the Septuagint, also over all the surrounding area. “Her assembly” is probably to be understood as meaning the place where the people would assemble for worship, that is, at the temple. YHWH would be with his people as when he was leading them in the wilderness by means of a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night, guiding, helping, and protecting them. (Exodus 13:21) At this future time, however, the manifestation of the divine presence would be more impressive and glorious. The cloud would overshadow the whole site of Mount Zion or, according to the Septuagint, include all the surrounding area. At night, that cloud would appear like smoke illuminated by a bright flaming fire. The glory of the divine presence then in evidence would remain, as it would be completely covered or sheltered as if residing in a tent. This meant that the inhabitants could confidently look to YHWH for aid and protection, for he would be with his people.
4:6. Masoretic Text: And, by day, it will be a booth for shade from heat, and for a refuge and for a shelter from storm and rain.
Septuagint: And it will be for shade from heat, and for shelter and for concealment from harshness and rain.
In the context of the Septuagint text, “harshness” or “hardness” is evidently to be understood as applying to severe weather conditions.
The glory of God’s presence (the magnificent perceivable evidence thereof) with his people would serve like a booth that provided relief from the intense heat of summer days and, during storms, from cloudbursts, wind, and rain. Being with them, YHWH would be their protector and helper, comparable to a secure shelter.