Isaiah 28:1-29

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28:1. Masoretic Text: Woe to the crown of arrogance of the drunkards of Ephraim, and to the fading blossom of the splendor of its beauty that [is] on the head of the valley of abundance [literally, the plural of the word for “fatness”] of those overcome by wine.

Septuagint: Woe to the crown of arrogance, the hirelings of Ephraim, the blossom that has fallen from glory on the summit of the fertile mountain, the ones drunk without wine.

The Targum of Isaiah expresses woe to the one who would give a “crown to the proud and foolish one,” the “prince of Israel,” and a turban to the “wicked one of the sanctuary.”


Woe or calamity is pronounced against the “crown of arrogance.” As an elevated site, Samaria, the capital of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel, was positioned like a crown on a hill. The city would have been a source of pride for the Israelites in the realm.

The “drunkards of Ephraim” would have been the debauched people, particularly the rulers and false prophets. In the Septuagint, the reference is to the hirelings of Ephraim. This could be understood to mean the leaders who had no interest in the welfare of the people. These “hirelings” would have been like men hired to tend sheep and goats. They would have looked forward to getting paid for their services but took no risks to protect the flocks from danger. Another possibility is that “hirelings” could designate paid mercenaries who would fight alongside the Israelites.

Samaria appears to be likened to a fading blossom, one that was in the process of losing its magnificent beauty. The moral corruption and debauchery of the people and their leaders caused this slide to ruin.

A fertile plain extended westward from the hill on which Samaria had been built. So the city occupied a position as the “head of the valley of abundance,” or a valley that produced bountiful harvests.

Those overcome by wine would have been the debauched people, especially the leaders. They likely were drunk on more than wine. The Septuagint indicates that wine was not the reason for their drunken state. This may be taken to mean that their headiness stemmed from their military alliances, which gave them a false sense of security.

28:2. Masoretic Text: Look! My Lord [has] one mighty and strong. Like a storm of hail, a storm of destruction, like a storm of mighty waters overflowing, he will cast down with a hand to the earth.

Septuagint: Look! Strong and hard [is] the wrath of the Lord. Like hail bringing down without providing shelter, bringing down with force; like an abundance of much water sweeping away a place, he will create rest for the land with the hands.

Instead of “Lord,” the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah has the divine name (YHWH). In this scroll, the conjunction “and” precedes the last phrase.

In the Targum of Isaiah, the storms describe the manner in which enemy nations would come against the Israelites because of their transgressions and then take them from their land into exile.


YHWH, the one whom Isaiah acknowledged as his Lord, had a mighty and strong instrument ready for use against the unfaithful Israelites in Samaria and in the rest of the realm. The Septuagint represents the divine wrath that would be directed against the people as being strong and hard or harsh.

A devastating event would be unleashed against them, comparable to a destructive hailstorm, a fierce wind, a tremendous downpour that would produce extensive flooding. The Septuagint describes the hail as destroying everything, not sheltering anything from its devastating effect. Assyrian military forces proved to be the devastating power that cast Samaria to the ground. The “hand” represents power, and so the casting down with the “hand” denotes doing so forcefully.

The Septuagint rendering about bringing rest to the land may be suggestive of the reality that the devastated land would lie fallow and would thus remain in a state of rest from cultivation.

28:3. Masoretic Text: With the feet, the crown of arrogance of the drunkards of Ephraim will be trampled.

Septuagint: And with the feet will be trampled the crown of arrogance, the hirelings of Ephraim.

The Targum of Isaiah identifies the crown as that of the “prince of Israel.”

See verse 1 regarding the “hirelings of Ephraim.”


As in the first verse, the “crown of arrogance” may be understood to refer to the Samaria, the city that was the object of pride for the “drunkards” of Ephraim. These “drunkards” would be the debauched people who must have been given to drunkenness and also to intoxication with arrogance respecting their military alliances. (Compare Amos 2:8; 6:4-7.) Their “crown,” however, was destined for trampling, apparently by enemy warriors.

28:4. Masoretic Text: And it will occur [that] the fading blossom, the splendor of its beauty, that is on the head of the valley of abundance [literally, the plural of the word for “fatness”] [will be] like a first-ripe fig before summer. When the seeing one sees it, as soon [as it is] in his palm, he consumes it.

Septuagint: And the blossom, having fallen out of the hope of glory upon the pinnacle of the mountain of eminence, will be like an early fig. The one seeing it will want to consume it before taking it into his hand.

According to the Targum of Isaiah, the one who gives a turban to the “wicked one of the sanctuary” that is located at the head of the valley would come to be like an early ripe fig that is quickly consumed.


As in verse 1 (which see), the fading blossom seems to represent the city of Samaria that was about to lose its beauteous splendor as the “head” or elevated site rising above the fertile plain. The city would prove to be like an early fig that one who sees it would quickly pick and eagerly consume. In this way, the victorious warriors would bring Samaria to its end.

The Septuagint rendering appears to portray the blossom as ceasing to have any hope of retaining its glory or splendor on the top of the lofty mountain.

28:5. Masoretic Text: In that day YHWH of hosts will be a crown of splendor and a wreath of beauty to the remnant of his people,

Septuagint: In that day the Lord Sabaoth will be the crown of hope, the plaited [wreath] of glory to those remaining of my people.

“Sabaoth” is a transliterated form of the Hebrew word meaning “hosts” or “armies.”

According to the Targum of Isaiah, the Anointed One or Messiah would be a “diadem of joy” and a “crown of glory” to the remnant of the Israelites.


Formerly, the city of Samaria had been like a crown to the Israelites, one in which they took great pride. They trusted in its strategic location and its fortifications. For the remnant of the people, however, YHWH, their God with hosts of angels in his service, would be their magnificent crown in whom they would place their trust. To them, he would be like a beautifying wreath. The Septuagint links the crown to hope, indicating that God would be the source of sure hope for help and deliverance in time of need.

28:6. Masoretic Text: and a spirit of judgment to the one sitting in judgment, and strength to those turning back the battle at the gate.

Septuagint: They will remain [based] upon a spirit of judgment, upon judgment and strength to prevent [anyone] from destroying.


For the remnant of his people who would come to reside in the land, YHWH would be a “spirit of judgment.” This could mean that he would be the motivating power for the person acting as judge to render justice. He would also be the source of power for the defenders of a city, making it possible for them to turn enemy warriors away from the city gate.

The Hebrew text could be literally translated “toward the gate.” This could mean that, if the warriors needed to recapture a town or city or to march against an enemy city, they would be divinely strengthened to launch the attack as they headed toward the gate. The 1984 revision of the German Luther Bible refers to those “who drive the battle back to the gate” (die den Kampf zurücktreiben zum Tor). A number of other German translations represent the defenders as driving the enemy out of the city and, therefore, toward the gate. (Gute Nachricht Bibel, Hoffnung für alle, Neue evangelistische Übersetzung).

The Septuagint rendering appears to point to the reason for the existence of a remnant of Israelites. Seemingly, God’s judgment of them led to their being his acceptable remnant. Because of his judgment and the might he displayed in their behalf, no one was permitted to destroy them.

28:7. Masoretic Text: And also these reel from wine and stagger from intoxicating drink; priest and prophet reel from intoxicating drink. They are swallowed by wine; they stagger from intoxicating drink. They reel in vision. The stumble in advocating.

Septuagint: For these are going astray from wine; they went astray because of sikera. Priest and prophet have come to be beside themselves because of wine. They have staggered from the strong drink of sikera. They went astray. “This is a delusion.”

The initial Hebrew conjunction here rendered “and” is not contained in the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah.

“Sikera” is a transliterated form of the word that appears in the Hebrew text and which is here rendered “intoxicating drink.”

Fourth-century Codex Vaticanus contains additional words for the Septuagint reading. After the reference to prophet and priest coming to be beside themselves, the text reads, “they are swallowed because of wine.”


The plural pronoun “these” (’élleh) appears to refer to the “remaining ones” or the remnant of the people. Both the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel and the two-tribe kingdom of Judah were subjected to enemy invasions, with many perishing and others being taken as captives into exile. Therefore, “these” apparently include the “remaining ones” in the kingdom of Judah. They, too, had gone astray because of overindulgence in intoxicants, reeling from drinking too much wine and staggering about in a drunken state from imbibing intoxicating drink.

In this verse, the third person plural form of the Hebrew word for “reel” (shagú) is repeated. With shagú, the third person plural verbs ta‘ú (“stagger,” which is repeated twice) and paqú (“stumble”) constitute a wordplay that is suggestive of tottering from the effects of drunkenness.

Priest and prophet, the very persons to whom the people should have been able to look for sound guidance and an example of praiseworthy conduct, reeled just like everyone else from the effect of overindulgence in intoxicants. Their being given to wine had “swallowed” or ruined them, leaving them in a state of confusion. They staggered from having imbibed intoxicating drink. As a result, they reeled “in vision,” unable to see what they should have seen and to make this known to the people. Their stumbling in advocating may be understood to mean that they could not express sound judgment and provide needed guidance for the people.

According to the rendering of the Septuagint, priest and prophet came to be beside themselves or senseless from drinking too much wine. They went astray, departing from the course that should have been expected from priests and prophets. Possibly in their drunken state, they are portrayed as saying, “This is a delusion.” In their befuddled state, they could not see anything clearly.

28:8. Masoretic Text: For all the tables are full of filthy vomit, no place [without] filth.

Septuagint: A curse will consume this counsel, for this counsel [came about] on account of greed.


Priest and prophet had sunk to a level of unrestrained debauchery. Intoxicated, they vomited on the tables to such a degree that not even a small clean spot remained.

The Septuagint rendering departs significantly from the reading of the Hebrew text. It appears to represent God’s curse as coming to be on the counsel or the guidance of the debauched priests and prophets. On account of the curse, their counsel would be “consumed” or end in failure. Their having given the counsel seems to be attributed to “greed.” This could be understood to mean that, because of coveting the favor of the people and the associated personal gain, they gave the advice that the people wanted to hear.

The Targum of Isaiah presents a different interpretation. The tables are depicted as being full of unclean and detestable food, and no place proved to be free from oppression.

28:9. Masoretic Text: Whom will one teach knowledge, and whom will one make understand the message? Those who have been weaned from milk, the ones taken away from the breasts?

Septuagint: To whom have we proclaimed evil, and to whom have we proclaimed a message? To those weaned from milk, to those taken away from the breast?


The Hebrew text seems to portray the debauched priests and prophets as having become indignant, implying that Isaiah was trying to teach them as if they were babies that had just been weaned, babies that would no longer be breastfed.

In the Septuagint, Isaiah appears to be represented as using the editorial “we” when raising the questions as to the ones to whom evil or calamity and the message had been declared. The implied answer seems to be that it had not been announced to newly weaned babies who would not have been able to comprehend the words.

In the Targum of Isaiah, the rhetorical questions emphasize that the law had been given to the house of Israel and the people had been “commanded to understand wisdom.”

28:10. Masoretic Text: For it is command upon command, command upon command, line upon line, line upon line; a little here, a little there.

Septuagint: Expect distress upon distress, hope upon hope, still a little, still a little,


Seemingly, the priests and prophets mocked Isaiah’s proclamation as being mere repetitive babbling. Their mockery is conveyed by means of a jingle that, in Hebrew, sounds much like baby talk (ki tsav latsáv, tsav latsáv, qav laqáv, qav laqáv, ze‘ér sham, ze‘ér sham). With such ridicule (“for it is command upon command, command upon command, line upon line, line upon line; a little here, a little there”), the mockers revealed their disdain for the prophet’s repeated admonition and reproof. The reference to “line” apparently is to a measuring line and thus seems to echo the words of the prophet for the people to follow the course that God’s law required. To those who ridiculed, the message was just a little here and there, amounting to nothing more than scraps of admonition.

The rendering of the Septuagint appears to represent the words of Isaiah, indicating to the people that they would face distress on account of their wrong conduct. At the same time, God did not leave the people with a gloomy prospect. If they repented, they could hope to have his blessing and favor. Just how “still a little” might be understood in this context is not readily apparent. Perhaps, as the thought is continued in the next verse, it could mean that it would be yet a little time and then the distress would befall the people.

According to the Targum of Isaiah, the people were commanded to obey the law, but they refused to do so. The prophets urged them to return to YHWH, but they disregarded the prophets and engaged in idolatry.

28:11. Masoretic Text: For with stammerings of lips and with a strange tongue, he will speak to this people,

Septuagint: because of contempt of lips, through another tongue, that they will speak to this people,


The Hebrew text appears to represent Isaiah’s response to the mockery that had been directed against him and the message he proclaimed. God is the one who would speak to the mockers in a foreign language. This would be in the language of the invading military force that he would use to punish the disobedient people. To the Israelites, the language of the invaders would sound like stammering or unintelligible babbling.

Possibly the words of the Septuagint may be understood to mean that because of the contemptuous speaking of the people when refusing to listen to the true prophets, they should expect distress. Based on what is expressed in the next verse, it would appear that YHWH’s prophets are the ones who would be speaking to the people. The Targum of Isaiah lends support to this understanding, for it represents the strange speech and the mocking to have been directed against the prophets.

28:12. Masoretic Text: the ones to whom he has said, “This [is] the rest. Give rest to the exhausted one, and this [is] repose.” And they would not listen.

Septuagint: saying to them, “This [is] the rest for the one hungering, and this [is] the affliction.” And they did not want to listen.

Instead of a Greek term for the Hebrew word margeg‘áh (here translated “repose”), the Septuagint contains the Greek word sýntrimma, which is here rendered “affliction.” It appears that sýntrimma translates a form of the Hebrew word gadá‘, which basically means “cut down” or “cut off.”

The Targum of Isaiah represents the prophets as admonishing the people to serve in the sanctuary.


YHWH, through his prophets, revealed to the people just how they could come to have “rest.” The prophets repeatedly called upon them to repent, to abandon their wayward course, and to begin living in harmony with God’s commands. This would have resulted in rest, a state of well-being and refreshment, for the weary people who had exhausted themselves by their wayward conduct. But they would not listen and, therefore, missed out on the refreshment and security that YHWH alone could have provided for them.

The Septuagint refers to the hungering one, a person to whom food would bring refreshment and, hence, rest. This conveys the same basic thought as does the Hebrew text.

28:13. Masoretic Text: And the word of YHWH will be to them, “command upon command, command upon command, line upon line, line upon line; a little here, a little there,” that they may go and fall backward and be broken and snared and seized.

Septuagint: And the word of the Lord God will be to them distress upon distress, hope upon hope, still a little, still a little, that they may go and fall backward, and they will be endangered and broken and seized.

For comments on the wording of the Septuagint for the first part of the verse, see verse 10.


Using the very words of the mockers, Isaiah declared the judgment that would befall them. The ridiculers had refused to heed YHWH’s commands and to conform to his ways, the right “measuring lines.” In the future, they would hear the terse, harsh, and repetitive commands from foreign conquerors. They would be forced to submit to the “measuring lines” that the victors would lay out for them, subjecting themselves to their rules. As a consequence of their disregard for YHWH’s admonition through his prophet, the mockers would fall backward, be broken, ensnared, and captured, signifying a calamitous end for them.

The Targum of Isaiah refers to the punishment to come upon the people for their failure to observe the law and their not wanting to do God’s will. They would look to God in their time of distress, but he would not come to their aid. Among the nations where they would be exiles, they would come to be few in number.

28:14. Masoretic Text: Therefore, hear the word of YHWH, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem.

Septuagint: Therefore, hear the word of the Lord, O oppressed men and rulers of this people, [those] in Jerusalem.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the Hebrew word for “hear” is singular, but it is plural in the Masoretic Text.


The arrogant rulers of Jerusalem scoffed at the words of the prophet Isaiah. Because of what they would be facing in the future, they were called upon to “hear” or to listen to the word of YHWH that the prophet would make known to them. The Septuagint rendering suggests that the leaders of Jerusalem oppressed the people, and the afflicted ones were also to listen to the message. In the Targum of Isaiah, the rulers are called “wicked men.”

28:15. Masoretic Text: For you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and we have a vision with Sheol. When passing through the overwhelming scourge will not reach us, for we have made a lie our refuge, and we have sheltered ourselves in falsehood.”

Septuagint: Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with Hades and agreements with death; a raging storm passing on will by no means come over us; we have made a lie our hope, and in a lie we will be sheltered”;

The rendering “by no means” preserves the emphatic sense of the two words for “not” found in the Septuagint.


The rulers in Jerusalem considered themselves secure because they had made preparations to deal with serious military threats. The measures they had taken were comparable to their having made a covenant with death not to harm them. Their “vision” with Sheol, the realm of the dead, was that it was not yet ready to receive them as casualties of war. According to the rendering of the Septuagint, they had a covenant with Hades or Sheol and agreements with death, indicating that they would not be at any risk of being killed and descending into the realm of the dead.

According to the Targum of Isaiah, despite their perceived security, the rulers of the people would be subjected to the “stroke of the enemy” that would come upon them “like a mighty river.” These rulers imagined that the “overwhelming scourge” or the “raging storm” (LXX), the powerful Assyrian force, would not “reach” them, leaving them untouched. They had appealed to Egypt for aid in facing the Assyrian military, but it was a delusion for them to imagine that the Egyptian forces could save them. Therefore, it was a “lie,” a delusion, or something that was untrustworthy in which they had taken refuge or, according to the Septuagint, set their hope. It was a falsehood, something unreliable that was certain to fail completely. What the rulers in Jerusalem had done would not shelter them from calamity.

28:16. Masoretic Text: Therefore, thus says the Lord YHWH, “Look! I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone of a sure foundation. He who trusts will not be hastening.”

Septuagint: therefore, thus says the Lord, “Look! I will lay as the foundations of Zion a costly, chosen stone, a precious cornerstone as her foundations, and the one trusting in it will by no means be put to shame.”

The concluding phrase of the Septuagint may also be translated “the one who believes [or, ‘trusts’] in him will by no means be put to shame.” This is the sense in which the words are used in Romans 9:33 and 10:11 when applied to Jesus Christ.

The rendering “by no means” preserves the emphatic sense of the two Greek words for “not.”


The basis for trust or confidence should have been what YHWH would do, and his purpose respecting one to come in the royal line of David. In the Targum of Isaiah, neither a “stone” nor a “cornerstone” are mentioned, but the reference is to YHWH’s appointment of a strong king in Zion, a king whom he would make strong and powerful. If the Israelites in the time of Isaiah had put faith in YHWH’s promise respecting the coming king, they could have been confident that they would be preserved as his people until that one’s arrival and would not have looked to military alliances for their security.

In fulfillment of the prophetic words, God laid a “stone” in Zion when sending his Son to the earth as the Messiah, Christ, or the Anointed One (the king who was promised to come), and Jesus Christ presented himself as king when he rode into Zion or Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt. It was then that he could have been accepted as the “stone” that was rightfully the object of faith, confidence, or trust.

Jesus Christ is very precious to his Father, having proved himself flawless under the severest of tests. So he has proved to be a “tested stone.” As a “sure foundation,” he, the “cornerstone,” would never give way under any kind of stress.

In the Septuagint, the “stone” is referred to as a “chosen stone.” God chose his Son to be the dependable “stone,” the “cornerstone” occupying the foremost position in relation to all the other “stones” that would be brought into harmony with and conformity to him. Zion seemingly is representative of all Israel to which the Father sent his Son, and so Jesus Christ is the sure foundation of the true Israel of God. This Israel is made up of all of God’s approved children who are like stones built on and aligned with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone, for they conform themselves to his example and teaching.

All who put their trust in Jesus Christ as the sure foundation for their entire life, looking to him for aid, guidance, and the certain fulfillment of their God-given hope, will never experience the shame or disappointment of those who find the object of their confidence to be undependable. The Hebrew expression rendered “will not be hastening” could refer to taking panicky flight out of fear. No one putting trust in YHWH’s precious and tested “stone” or “cornerstone” would ever experience the fright that comes to those who see the object of their confidence exposed as being unreliable.

28:17. Masoretic Text: And I will make judgment the line and righteousness the level, and hail will sweep away the refuge of the lie, and waters will overwhelm the hiding place.

Septuagint: And I will set judgment for hope, but my compassion for measure, and [you will be] those trusting the lie in vain, for by no means will the storm pass by you,

The two words for “not” in the Septuagint convey an emphatic sense, and this is preserved with the rendering “by no means.”

According to the Targum of Isaiah, YHWH would make judgment “straight as a building line,” and “righteousness as a plummet.” His anger would burn up the people’s refuge of lies.


For “judgment” to be the “line” or the “measuring line” and “righteousness” the “level” would signify that justice and righteousness or uprightness would be the standards by which YHWH would punish his wayward people. The “lie,” or the delusion of looking to Egypt and other powers for aid when faced with military threats, would not provide any refuge. That imagined refuge would fail, being swept away as by a destructive hailstorm. What those without faith in YHWH thought to be a hiding place would provide no shelter but would disappear as if washed away by a raging flood.

The Septuagint rendering conveys a similar message. God would transform hope into judgment. Instead of the hope of deliverance from danger, the people would face adverse judgment for their wayward course. God’s compassion would be for measure, which could mean that it would be in keeping with the conduct and disposition of the individuals. Those trusting the “lie,” the delusion that the military might of foreign powers would provide security, would find that their trust had been misplaced. The calamity would strike them like a destructive storm.

28:18. Masoretic Text: And your covenant with death will be covered over, and your vision with Sheol will not stand. When the overwhelming scourge passes through, you also will be for trampling by it.

Septuagint: lest it also remove your covenant of death. And your hope, the one toward Hades, will by no means stand. If the storm being brought should come, you will be for trampling by it.


The preparations the leaders in Jerusalem had made in an attempt to ensure their security would fail. Their supposed covenant with death would be “covered over,” blotted out, or taken out of the way, with no binding agreement existing to keep death from claiming victims. The vision with Sheol as a place that was not as yet ready to receive victims would not stand, with the realm of the dead being fully prepared for their descent. The “scourge” (or, according to the Septuagint, the “storm”) in the form of the enemy invasion would pass through the land, and the leaders would be subjected to trampling or humiliation.

The Septuagint rendering about the “hope” toward Hades would be the hope of having an agreement with the realm of the dead not then to go there, but to remain untouched by the threat against which the leaders of Jerusalem had formulated their plans. Their failure to look to YHWH for aid would result in their being trampled by the military force that would come against them.

28:19. Masoretic Text: As often as it passes through, it will take you, for morning by morning it will pass through — by day and by night. And it will be frightening terror to understand the message.

Septuagint: Whenever it should pass through, it will take you. Morning by morning it will pass through by day, and in the night the hope will be bad. Learn to hear.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the conjunction and the verb rendered “and it will be” are missing before the Hebrew words here translated “frightening terror.”


As often as enemy military forces would pass through the land, they would devastate cultivated areas, towns, and cities. Those surviving the military conquests would be “taken” or swept away as by a flood. According to the Targum of Isaiah, they would be taken into exile. There would be no relief from the invasions. Day in and day out, by day and by night, the ruinous military action would continue.

The reference to the “message” could be to the message Isaiah had proclaimed. Upon coming to understand that the prophetic word they had mocked started to be fulfilled, the people would have been terrified, fearful of what still lay ahead of them. Another possible meaning is that the “message” or report about the enemy invasion would precede the arrival of the enemy warriors. Once people understood the great suffering to which the invasion would lead, they would have been filled with dread.

In the Septuagint, the reference to a bad hope could mean that only a gloomy prospect existed, with no hope of any change for the better. The imperative, “learn to hear,” may be understood as admonition to take to heart the prophetic warning about the impending calamity and to repent.

28:20. Masoretic Text: For [too] short [is] the bed for one to stretch out on it, and the covering [is too] narrow for wrapping oneself [with it].

Septuagint: Being distressed, we are not able to fight, but we ourselves are [too] weakened for us to be gathered.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the verb forms (infinitives) are plural (“to stretch themselves” and “to wrap themselves”).


At the time the calamity would befall the people in expression of YHWH’s judgment for their serious transgressions, they would find themselves in a difficult, frustrating, and extremely uncomfortable position. According to the Hebrew text, their situation would be like that of a man who wanted to get his rest but could not do so. This would be because the bed was too short for him to stretch out and the cover was too narrow to wrap himself up when he tucked in his legs to fit on the short bed.

The Septuagint rendering departs significantly from the reading of the extant Hebrew text and conveys a meaning that is somewhat closer to the interpretation contained in the Targum of Isaiah. Finding themselves in dire straights when faced with superior enemy forces, the Israelite defenders would be unable to fight or to offer any meaningful resistance. They would be too weak or too few for assembling an adequate number of defenders.

The Targum of Isaiah indicates that, on account of servitude (apparently to a foreign power), the strength of the people would be cut off, and the oppressive ruler would increase his dominion.

28:21. Masoretic Text: For as [at] Mount Perazim, YHWH will rise up; as [in] the valley at Gibeon, he will be wrathful, to do his deed (strange [is] his deed) and to work his work (foreign [is] his work).

Septuagint: As a mountain of the impious ones, he will rise up, and it will be in the ravine of Gabaon [Gibeon]. With wrath, he will do his works, a bitter work, but his wrath he will use strangely and his bitterness [in] strangeness.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the letter beth (B) precedes the words for “mount” and “valley.” As a preposition linked to “mount” or “mountain,” be means “on,” and “in” when related to valley. The similar letter kaph (K) is found in the Masoretic Text, and ke is here translated “as.”

The Targum of Isaiah does not specifically mention Mount Perazim. There the reference is to the shaking of the mountains when YHWH’s glory was revealed in the days of King Uzziah. This may pertain to the great earthquake that occurred in his reign (Amos 1:1; Zechariah 14:5) or the shaking Isaiah witnessed in the year Uzziah died, at which time he saw YHWH’s glory and received his commission. (Isaiah 6:1-9)

The Septuagint translator does not appear to have understood “Perazim” (peratsím) as a proper name. Possibly the translator associated the designation with the word paríts, which can describe someone who is violent, a bandit, or a robber. This may explain the reason for the rendering asebón, (a plural adjective in the genitive case), meaning “impious ones” or “godless ones.”


YHWH’s rising up is to take judicial action against his wayward people. This would be as when he assisted King David to defeat the Philistines at Mount Perazim (Baal-perazim) and then again in the valley of Gibeon. (2 Samuel 5:17-21; 1 Chronicles 14:13-16) The development in the valley of Gibeon may relate to the earlier occasion when the Israelites, under the command of Joshua, came to the aid of the Gibeonites who were about to be attacked by the forces of allied Amorite kings. At that time, according to the book of Joshua (10:10-14), YHWH threw the Amorite warriors into confusion and subjected them to a severe hailstorm that killed more of them than did the Israelites during the course of the battle. Moreover, there was a lengthening of the period of daylight so that the Israelites perceived the sun and the moon to be standing still. In the Targum of Isaiah, this is the application, with mention being made of the “wonders” YHWH did for Joshua in the plain of Gibeon.

To punish the disobedient Israelites, YHWH would use foreign aggressors as his agents. This use of foreign warriors to execute his judgment would have been a “strange,” unusual, or extraordinary deed, and his action would have been “foreign,” not what might be commonly expected in view of the fact that the Israelites were his people. As expressed in the rendering of the Septuagint, God would be expressing his wrath in a strange or markedly different manner, and his feeling of bitterness toward the unfaithful Israelites in a foreign way.

28:22. Masoretic Text: And, therefore, do not be scoffers lest your bonds be made strong, and from my Lord, YHWH of hosts, I have heard a decision [of destruction] upon all the land.

Septuagint: And do not you rejoice nor let your bonds become strong because completed and shortened deeds have I heard from the Lord Sabaoth, which he will do on all the land.

The Hebrew and Greek words for “land” can also mean “earth.”

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah omits “my Lord.”

“Sabaoth” is a transliteration of the Hebrew word that means “hosts” or “armies” and identifies YHWH as the God with hosts of angels in his service.


Instead of mocking the message directed to them, the people should have taken heed and abandoned their wayward course. Their continuing to ridicule would lead to their being subjected to stronger bonds of divine judgment, something that they could have avoided.

Isaiah had heard YHWH’s decision that the whole land would be affected in an adverse way. According to the Targum of Isaiah, all the inhabitants of the earth or the land would experience a “consummation” and a “destruction.”

The words in the Septuagint about not rejoicing possibly could be understood to mean that the people should not be rejoicing or exulting about their military alliances, imaging that these would assure their security. Their failure to look to God was the very reason for the bonds of his punishment (comparable to that of chained prisoners) to become strong. The reference to works completed and shortened could signify that God’s deeds were certain of completion within a short time. There would be no escaping, for divine judgment would involve the whole land.

28:23. Masoretic Text: Give ear and hear my voice. Pay attention and hear my utterance.

Septuagint: Give ear and hear my voice; pay attention and hear my words.

Isaiah, as a prophet who made known YHWH’s message, purpose, and judgment, requested that the people listen to what he said, paying attention or heeding his words. With this appeal, he introduced rhetorical questions to highlight the wisdom of the way YHWH disciplined his people.

28:24. Masoretic Text: Does one who plows plow the whole day for sowing, opening and harrowing his soil?

Septuagint: Will a plowman go about the whole day plowing, or will he prepare seed before working the land?

The Targum of Isaiah makes no reference to agricultural operations but mentions the work of the prophets. They continually prophesied so as to instruct the people, with the objective that the ears of the guilty might be opened to accept the instruction.


A farmer does not limit agricultural operations to plowing, opening up or breaking up the soil and harrowing or leveling it. Once the essential preparations for sowing are completed, the farmer does not continue to plow and harrow. According to the rhetorical questions in the Septuagint, the farmer does not just plow the entire day, and he does not get ready for sowing seed prior to his having worked or prepared the land.

28:25. Masoretic Text: [Is it] not after he has leveled its surface [that] he then scatters black cumin and sows cumin and puts wheat in rows [sohráh] and [plants] barley in its place [samán] and spelt [as] its border.

Septuagint: Does he not when he has leveled its surface then sow a little black cumin and cumin and again sow wheat and barley and spelt in your borders?

The Hebrew word sohráh, here translated “in rows,” also is found in the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, but there is uncertainty about the meaning of the term. Additionally, there is uncertainty about the word samán, which both in the Masoretic Text and the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah is preceded by the letter nun (N).

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the word translated “borders” is plural as it is in the Septuagint.

In the Targum of Isaiah, the application is made to the regathering of the Israelites from among the nations where they had been scattered like black cumin and cumin and then bringing them back families by families to their tribes as wheat is sown in rows, barley in its designated places, and spelt by the boundaries.


Black cumin (Nigella sativa) is from the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family, whereas cumin is from the Apiaceae (carrot or parsley) family. Anciently, as in modern times, the seeds of the black cumin and cumin plants have been used as spices.

Not until the ground had been leveled would a farmer scatter the seeds of black cumin and cumin. He would sow wheat and barley in the respective furrowed rows. Of the grains, wheat was the more highly valued than barley and spelt. Israelite farmers appear to have sown spelt, a type of wheat, as a border plant around their superior quality grain crops. Accordingly, they did their sowing purposefully after the soil had been properly prepared.

28:26. Masoretic Text: And he is instructed in judgment; his God teaches him.

Septuagint: And you will be disciplined in the judgment of your God, and you will rejoice.


The Hebrew text suggests that the purposeful agricultural operations of the farmer are to be attributed to God. By reason of the divinely granted capacity to reason, the farmer is in possession of “judgment” or the ability to labor aright to secure a harvest. By implication, God also teaches the right way to live. According to the Targum of Isaiah, the instruction in judgment serves to teach that God announces the right way for the people to conduct themselves.

The reference to rejoicing in the Septuagint could be understood to relate to the good effect from accepting the discipline or training in sound judgment that God provides.

28:27. Masoretic Text: For not with a threshing implement is black cumin threshed, and a wagon wheel is not rolled over cumin, for with a rod black cumin is beaten, and cumin with a staff.

Septuagint: For not with hardness is black cumin cleaned, nor will a wagon wheel be rolled over the cumin, but with a rod will the black cumin be shaken out; the cumin, however, will be eaten with bread.

In printed editions of the Septuagint, the words “will be eaten with bread” appear at the beginning of verse 28. They are included here to complete the sentence and will not be repeated for verse 28. In the Hebrew text, the point about bread is not linked to cumin.


Unlike the means by which the kernels of wheat, barley, and spelt are separated from the chaff, black cumin and cumin are not threshed with a threshing implement or by having wagon wheels roll over them. To obtain the seeds from the pods of the black cumin, the farmer would beat them with a rod, and he would use a staff on the capsules of cumin to free the seeds. Thus the means for obtaining the seeds was suitable for the respective produce. By implication, YHWH’s way of disciplining or punishing his people would fit the situation. If they persisted in their wayward ways, the punishment would prove to be more severe.

28:28. Masoretic Text: Does one crush [grain for] bread? For not unceasingly does one thresh [when] threshing, and [when] one noisily drives the wheel of his wagon and his horses, one does not crush it.

Septuagint: For not forever [literally, “into the age”] will I be angry with you, nor will the voice of my bitterness trample you.


A farmer subjected grain to the threshing operation only until the kernels had been separated from the chaff. He did not continue to thresh until the kernels were completely crushed. Similarly, YHWH’s disciplinary action of judgment would end when the desired result had been produced. The Septuagint rendering highlights how God deals with his people. He would not continue to be angry with them, nor would he, in bitterness on account of their unfaithfulness to him, continue to make them hear expressions of his displeasure to the point where they would be crushed as though they had repeatedly been trampled.

28:29. Masoretic Text: This also comes from YHWH of hosts. He is extraordinary in counsel, great in prudence [tushiyyáh].

Septuagint: And these wonders have come forth from the Lord Sabaoth. Take counsel; exalt vain comfort.

The Hebrew word here translated “extraordinary” ends with the letters yod (Y) and aleph (A), but in the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, these letters are not part of the word, which ends with he (H). There is uncertainty about the meaning of the term in the Dead Sea Scroll, one suggested possibility is “distinguished.” In this scroll, the conjunction “and” appears after the word rendered “counsel.”

There is a measure of uncertainty about how the Hebrew noun tushiyyáh may best be rendered. Possible meanings are “prudence,” “sound wisdom,” “success,” or “good outcome.”

“Sabaoth” is a transliteration of the Hebrew word that means “hosts” or “armies” and identifies YHWH as the God with hosts of angels in his service.


The insight that the farmer reflected when doing threshing is attributed to YHWH, the one who endowed the farmer with the faculty of reasoning. God is the source of sound counsel or guidance and unparalleled wisdom. If the meaning of the Hebrew word tushiyyáh here relates to “success,” he is also the God whose guidance always produces the best results. Both meanings are found in the renderings of modern translations. “Even this knowledge comes from the LORD of Hosts, whose counsel is wonderful and whose wisdom is great.” (REB) “Wonderful is his counsel and great his wisdom.” (NAB) “All this is a gift from Yahweh Sabaoth, marvellous advice leading to great achievements.” (NJB) “His counsel is wonderful; he grants great success” (Sein Rat ist wunderbar, er schenkt großen Erfolg. [German Einheitsübersetzung]).

If related to “vain comfort,” the imperative in the Septuagint to “take counsel” could be understood as a challenge directed to those who ridiculed YHWH’s message through Isaiah. They could continue to follow their own counsel or their own plans that ignored God’s ways, but the result would be failure. Thus by their continuing to disregard YHWH’s word, they would have been exalting vain comfort. None of their efforts would lead to a successful outcome.

The Targum of Isaiah includes the thought that, by his great knowledge, YHWH established the world and, by his infinite wisdom, he increased the works of creation.