Isaiah 30:1-33

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30:1. Masoretic Text: Woe to the stubborn sons, says YHWH, [sons] who take counsel and not of me and pour out a libation and not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin,

Septuagint: Woe, O rebellious children, thus says the Lord, you have formulated counsel not through me and made alliances not through my spirit, to add sins upon sins,

The Targum of Isaiah refers to their not inquiring of YHWH’s prophets.

Commentary

Woe or calamity is pronounced upon the stubborn or rebellious Israelites. In view of their covenant relationship with God, they were his “sons” or children. The people, particularly the leaders, resisted the direction YHWH provided through his prophets, warning them not to seek alliances with foreign powers for protection. By disregarding YHWH’s word through his prophets, they proved to be stubborn, defiant, or rebellious sons. The leaders of the nation took counsel to go ahead with their plan to seek a military alliance with Egypt to counter the threat of Assyrian aggression. For this reason, their counsel is specifically identified as not being from YHWH.

The pouring out of a libation may have been the means by which an alliance was ratified. It was an idolatrous act. This action was not of “his spirit,” for it disregarded the proclamation of the spirit-guided prophets that making any alliance with a foreign power was divinely disapproved. By formulating their plan and then carrying it out, the “stubborn sons” added sin upon sin to their record of transgressions.

30:2. Masoretic Text: who walk to go down to Mizraim [Egypt], and have not asked [from] my mouth, to seek safety in the [place of] safety of Pharaoh and to seek refuge in the shadow of Mizraim [Egypt].

Septuagint: those walking to go down to Egypt, but of me they have not asked, to be helped by Pharaoh and to be sheltered by the Egyptians.

The Targum of Isaiah refers to their not asking for the words of YHWH’s prophets.

Commentary

Without consulting the prophet Isaiah to receive the expression of YHWH’s mouth or the revelation of his will, a Judean delegation set out for Egypt to seek an alliance with the ruling Pharaoh in an effort to secure their safety or security. They wanted to obtain the protective “shadow” or shelter that they thought the Egyptian forces could provide, helping them to counter the Assyrian threat.

30:3. Masoretic Text: And the [place of] safety of Pharaoh will be for shame to you, and the refuge in the shadow of Mizriam [Egypt] for reproach.

Septuagint: For the shelter of Pharaoh will be for shame to you, and to those relying on Egypt for reproach.

The Hebrew word here translated “reproach” is not found in the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah. In the scroll, the last word (kamáh) signifies “yearning” or “longing.”

Commentary

Pharaoh would not be able to provide the desired safety or security for the Israelites. His failure and that of his forces would result in shame for those who had looked to them for protection. The shadow or protective shelter of Egypt would fail, resulting in reproach or humiliation for those who had relied on it.

30:4. Masoretic Text: For his princes are at Zoan, and his messengers reach Hanes.

Septuagint: For the rulers are in Tanis, evil messengers.

In printed texts of the Septuagint, the last words of this verse are, “in vain will they labor” (or, “in vain will they weary themselves”). These words start a sentence that is completed in verse 5 (which see).

The reference to “evil messengers” in the Septuagint could be understood to mean the Judeans who had gone to Egypt, as they were acting contrary to the message Isaiah proclaimed as YHWH’s prophet. Another possibility is that Pharaoh’s messengers may be intended, for the alliance with Egypt would not benefit the kingdom of Judah.

Commentary

Zoan or Tanis, situated in the northeastern part of the Delta region, would have been the first major Egyptian city that the Judean delegation entered. It may be that Egyptian princes, rulers, or officials were on hand to meet the Judeans there. The location of Hanes is uncertain, and the Septuagint does not refer to the city. Perhaps Pharaoh’s messengers or envoys had arrived at Hanes in expectation of the Judean delegation.

It is also possible that the Hebrew text represents the Judean delegation as having arrived at Zoan and then continuing on their way until reaching Hanes. “Your leading men have gone to Zoan and your envoys have come as far as Hanes.” (Eure führenden Männer sind nach Zoan gegangen und eure Abgesandten sind bis nach Hanes gekommen. [German, Gute Nachricht Bibel]) “Your leading men have indeed reached the city of Zoan; the messengers whom you have sent have come as far as Hanes in the south.” (Zwar haben eure führenden Männer die Stadt Zoan erreicht; die Boten, die ihr gesandt habt, sind bis nach Hanes im Süden gekommen. [German, Hoffnung für alle])

30:5. Masoretic Text: Everyone will come to shame through a people that cannot benefit them, not [being] for help and not for profit but for shame and also for scorn.

Septuagint: In vain will they labor [or, “weary themselves”] in relation to a people who will not benefit them, [being] neither for help nor for benefit but for shame and reproach.

The initial words of the Hebrew text in the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah have been translated “destruction is odious” (The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible).

The Septuagint rendering about “laboring” or “wearying” themselves could be understood to relate to the efforts of the Judean delegation to procure help from the Egyptians.

Commentary

All efforts the Judean delegation would make to procure the help of Egypt would bring no benefit. Egypt would be powerless, unable to supply the needed aid against Assyrian aggression. Because of their inability to provide the essential help or to be of real benefit to the kingdom of Judah, the Egyptians would become a cause for shame and scorn or reproach to those who had disregarded YHWH’s word through Isaiah and had put their trust in Egypt’s military might.

30:6. Masoretic Text: A pronouncement [massá’] regarding the beasts of the Negeb. Through a land of need and distress, where [there are] lioness and lion, viper and flying fiery serpent, they carry their riches on the shoulders of asses, and their treasures on the humps of camels, to a people that will not profit them.

Septuagint: The vision of the quadrupeds, those in the wilderness. In distress and difficulty — lion and lion’s cub, from whence also [come] asps and the offspring of flying asps — the ones who brought on asses and camels their riches to a nation that will not benefit them for help but [will be] for shame and reproach.

After the word for “distress,” the Masoretic Text reads literally “from them” and lacks an antecedent. The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah says, “and no water.” A literal rendering of this scroll for a part of verse 6 is, “Through a land of need and dryness and distress, lioness and lion, and no water.”

Commentary

The Hebrew word massá’ is commonly understood to mean a “pronouncement,” “oracle,” “utterance,” or “burden.” The Vulgate renders the term as onus, meaning “load” or “burden.” In the Septuagint, the reference is to a “vision.”

The message relates to the burden-bearing animals (asses and camels) that the Judean delegation would be taking to Egypt. These animals would have to endure going through an inhospitable area. The Negeb is a very dry region lying to the south of the former two-tribe kingdom of Judah. As an area of sparse vegetation, the Negeb was a region of need, as food and water were not readily available. Lions and poisonous snakes were to be found in the region, adding an element of danger. Horned vipers, for example, hide all but their heads in the sand and are very hard to see because of their pale, sandy color. The conditions in the Negeb made it an area of “distress,” “difficulty,” or hardship to people and domestic animals that had to pass through it on the way to Egypt.

The Hebrew word that is commonly rendered “fiery serpent” (saráph) in this context literally means “burning one.” The “burning” or “fiery” aspect may pertain to the burning, inflaming effect of the serpent’s venom, whereas “flying” may be descriptive of the swift darting or the lightning-like striking of a poisonous snake.

The hazard of traveling in the Negeb is illustrated by what befell Hagar and her son Ishmael after they were dismissed from Abraham’s household. They used up their water supply, and Hagar became completely disoriented. Ishmael was first to give out from exhaustion, and Hagar was certain that he would die. If it had not been for divine help that made it possible for Hagar to discover a well, both she and her son would have perished. (Genesis 21:14-19)

The beasts of burden would have been loaded down with needed supplies for the difficult journey and also with costly gifts for the Egyptian officials with whom the Judean delegation purposed to make an alliance. This great effort to procure Egyptian aid would bring no benefit for the two-tribe kingdom of Judah. According to the reading of the Septuagint, the Israelites would not receive the kind of assistance they needed to deal with the Assyrian threat, resulting in shame and reproach for having put their trust in Egypt’s military might to secure their safety.

30:7. Masoretic Text: And Mizraim [Egypt] [is] vain and empty [for] helping. Therefore, for this I have called her, “Rahab — they [are] a sitting still.”

Septuagint: The Egyptians will benefit you in vain and in emptiness. Proclaim to them, “This comfort of yours [is] vain.”

The Targum of Isaiah represents YHWH as having encountered some of the Egyptians as slain and having brought warriors against them.

Commentary

As a military power, Egypt would prove to be “vain” or nothingness and “empty” or worthless insofar as providing the kingdom of Judah with effective aid in countering Assyrian aggression. To the Israelites, the might of Egypt must have looked impressive like “Rahab,” a great sea monster or a surger, but it would do nothing for them. Egypt would live up to the description of just sitting still, powerless to do anything to halt the Assyrian military advance.

In the Septuagint, the “comfort” or aid coming from Egypt is identified as being “vain,” or amounting to nothing. This is the message that the prophet apparently was directed to proclaim to the Israelites.

30:8. Masoretic Text: Now go, write it on a tablet before them, and in a scroll inscribe it, that it may be for a later day as a witness for limitless time.

Septuagint: Now, therefore, sit and write these things on a tablet and on a scroll, for these things will be for days of appointed times and for eternity [literally, “till into the age”].

Commentary

Apparently Isaiah is directed to make a record of the prophetic message on a tablet or a scroll. His doing so before or with “them” indicates that others would be present as witnesses. The record would serve as a testimony for a future time, even for all time to come. In the Targum of Isaiah, the future “day” is identified as the “day of judgment,” at which time the written record would serve to testify before YHWH for eternity.

The corrupt moral condition existing among the people made it conceivable that they would have denied the fulfillment of the prophetic message. (Compare Jeremiah 44:16-18.) They, however, would not have been able to explain away the written record, made in the presence of witnesses. This record would prove to be enduring testimony regarding the sure fulfillment of YHWH’s word through his prophet.

30:9. Masoretic Text: For it [is] a rebellious people, lying sons, sons who have not been willing to hear the law of YHWH,

Septuagint: For it is a disobedient people, lying sons, who have not been willing to hear the law of God,

Commentary

The people were “rebellious” or “disobedient,” refusing to submit to the commands and will of YHWH. They were not true sons to him, but disloyal and lying sons, not exclusively devoted to him and dishonest in their dealings with one another.

In this context, the Hebrew and Greek words for “law” relate to God’s commands, instructions, and teachings. This would include the messages that YHWH conveyed to the people through his prophets. The people, however, did not want to listen to his words, determined to continue following their own wayward course.

30:10. Masoretic Text: who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the visionaries, “Do not see right things in vision. Speak smooth things to us, envision deceptions.”

Septuagint: who say to the prophets, “Do not proclaim to us,” and to the visionaries seeing visions, “Do not tell us, but speak to us and proclaim to us another deception.”

Commentary

The words of the prophets, the seers and visionaries, disturbed the people. They did not want to hear the messages that YHWH had revealed to the prophets in visions, messages that exposed their bad moral condition and warned them about the serious consequences if they refused to abandon their God-dishonoring practices. The people desired to hear “smooth things,” pleasant words that did not call upon them to change their ways but assured them that all was well and that they had no reason to be fearful about the future. They wanted to be made to feel comfortable. As the messages they preferred were those that would give them a sense of security, they, in reality, desired to listen to deceit, to words that did not reflect the true state of affairs. (Compare the expressions of the true and false prophets, and how faithless Israelites responded. [1 Kings 22:5-28; Jeremiah 26:2-19; 27:8-22; 28:1-17])

30:11. Masoretic Text: “Turn aside from the way, depart from the path, remove the Holy One of Israel from before us.”

Septuagint: “Turn us aside from the way, remove this path from us, and remove the Holy One of Israel from us.”

Commentary

The imperatives are apparently directed to Isaiah and other true prophets. In the Hebrew text, the appeal of the people relates to their wanting the godly prophets to change their course, whereas the Septuagint rendering appears to express the thought that they wanted nothing to be said about the right way or the proper course for them to follow.

The people only wanted to hear expressions that reflected favorably on the course they had decided to take. They wanted Isaiah and other faithful servants of YHWH to depart from the way he and other godly ones had been following and to deviate from the right path to conform to their way, their path. They desired that nothing be said to them that would have reminded them of YHWH, the Holy One of Israel, as that would have required them to be “holy,” clean or pure in their conduct.

Isaiah’s prophetic activity prominently made them aware of the presence of the Holy One of Israel and their failure to live lives that honored him and to seek his guidance. This displeased them. The people wanted YHWH out of mind, with no reference to his holiness and what this called for them to do. In attitude, they wanted Isaiah to remove the Holy One of Israel from before them, changing the message he was proclaiming.

30:12. Masoretic Text: Therefore, thus says the Holy One of Israel, Because you reject this word and trust in oppression and craftiness and rely on it,

Septuagint: Therefore, thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, Because you disobeyed these words and hoped in a lie and because you grumbled and happened to rely on this word,

The sentence is completed in the next verse.

The Hebrew term, here translated “craftiness,” is a form of the Hebrew word luz, which has been defined as meaning “crookedness,” “cunning,” “perverseness,” and “deviousness.” In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the word is a form of ‘aláz, meaning “exulting,” “triumphing,” or “rejoicing.”

Commentary

YHWH, the Holy One, who is the absolute standard of holiness or purity, revealed his disapproval of the course the people, particularly the leaders of the nation, were pursuing. They had rejected his word or message conveyed through Isaiah and other prophets, warning them not to look to foreign alliances for aid when facing threats to their security.

In this context, “oppression” apparently is not limited to exploitation of the lowly and adding to their hardships. It also must have included the pressure the leaders of the nation used to suppress or silence whatever and whoever did not agree or support their objectives. They did not want Isaiah and other faithful prophets to denounce their God-dishonoring plans. Their craftiness likely involved their plan to procure help from Egypt in dealing with the Assyrian military threat. The basis of their reliance proved to be trust in their means of oppression and craftiness in hiding their purpose from YHWH, disregarding his word and refusing to consult his prophets for guidance.

According to the rendering of the Septuagint, the people had disobeyed the words of YHWH that had been proclaimed to them, choosing instead to put their hope or trust in a “lie,” the baseless confidence in Egypt’s military might to assist them in stopping Assyrian military aggression. Their grumbling may be understood to relate to their complaining about and refusing to heed YHWH’s words. The “word” on which they did rely would have been their own plan regarding an alliance with Egypt.

30:13. Masoretic Text: therefore this iniquity will be for you like a breach about to fall, bulging out in a high wall, the crash of which comes suddenly, in an instant.

Septuagint: therefore this sin will be for you like a suddenly falling wall of a fortified city being captured, the downfall of which occurs suddenly.

The Targum of Isaiah somewhat resembles the rendering of the Septuagint. The people’s transgression would prove to be like a city that is laid waste and reduced to ruins, and like a strong wall that would suddenly break.

Commentary

The iniquity or sin of the people was their rejection of YHWH’s word through his prophets to rely fully on him for aid and protection and not to form alliances with foreign powers. They, however, defiantly chose to depend on their own resourcefulness and to seek the aid of Egyptian military might to safeguard their security. This iniquity of theirs is likened to a broken section in a wall, a section that would suddenly come crashing down and lead to the collapse of the entire wall. It is also referred to as the swelling or bulging in a high wall that would give way, plummeting to the ground.

The people had made themselves guilty of turning their backs on YHWH, and this sin would result in the ruin of the whole nation, seemingly represented by the wall.

30:14. Masoretic Text: And one will shatter it like the shattering of a vessel of the potters, smashing [it], not sparing, so that among its fragments is not found a sherd to snatch up fire [burning coals] from a hearth and to skim water from a pool.

Septuagint: And its downfall will be like the shattering of an earthenware container, [reduced to] fragments of a clay vessel, so that among them not a sherd [is] to be found in which to lift fire [burning coals] and in which to scoop up [literally, “whistle”] a little water.

Commentary

The collapse of the wall, and the fragments into which the fall would break it, is likened to a shattering of a potter’s vessel and its being reduced to small pieces. These small fragments would prove to be useless. Not a single sherd would be large enough to pick up fire or burning coals from a hearth nor to skim some water from a pool or a cistern.

30:15. Masoretic Text: For thus said my Lord,YHWH the Holy One of Israel, By returning and rest, you will be saved. Your strength will be in quietness and in trust. And you would not consent.

Septuagint: Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, When returning you should groan, then you will be saved, and you will know where you were. When you trusted in vain things, your strength became vain. And you did not want to listen.

The designation “my Lord” does not appear in the main text of the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah but is written as a correction above the divine name (YHWH).

The Targum of Isaiah speaks of the return as being to God’s law, with resultant rest, deliverance, quietness, security, and strength for the people.

Commentary

When identifying YHWH as the Holy One of Israel, Isaiah reminded those whom he addressed of YHWH’s holiness, cleanness or purity and his requirement for them to reflect his holiness or purity in all aspects of their lives.

True security was not to be found in the anxious efforts of the leaders among the people to procure the help of Egypt. YHWH’s word through Isaiah called upon them to abandon that profitless course and to return to him and to rest, quietly and calmly waiting for him to act to deliver them from the Assyrian threat. Salvation or deliverance would not come through their own political maneuvering but through putting their complete trust in YHWH as their helper and deliverer from hostile enemies. Their real strength would lie in maintaining a calm, undisturbed state, confident that YHWH would come to their aid. The people, however, were unwilling to adopt this course, a way that was sure to result in salvation or deliverance from the power of the enemy.

The Septuagint rendering of this verse departs significantly from the extant Hebrew text. In connection with “returning,” the “groaning” could denote giving way to lamentation because of having been unfaithful to God. The “vain things,” empty things, or worthless things would have included making alliances with foreign powers and not relying on God for security. Without his assistance and protection as a result, the strength of the people proved to be “vain,” or no strength at all for dealing with Assyrian aggression. Nevertheless, the people did not want to listen to YHWH’s word through his prophets, choosing instead of follow their own course.

30:16. And you said, “No, for on horses we will flee.” Therefore, you will flee. “And on swift ones we will ride.” Therefore, those pursuing you will be swift.

Septuagint: But you said, “On horses we will flee.” Therefore, you will flee. And you said, “On swift ones we will be riders.” Therefore, those pursuing you will be swift.

Commentary

The people preferred to rely on military strength. Mounted on horses, they wanted to speed against their enemies. YHWH’s word through Isaiah was that they would indeed speed or flee from the invading forces. They determined to ride on swift mounts, but, according to the word of YHWH, their pursuers, the enemy warriors, would be swift in their advance.

30:17. Masoretic Text: A thousand [will flee] at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five, you will flee, till you are left like a mast on top of the mountain, like a signal on a hill.

Septuagint: Because of the voice of one, a thousand will flee; and because of the voice of five, many will flee, till whenever you may be left like a mast on a mountain and like one carrying a signal on a hill.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the conjunction “and” follows the word for “one.” With reference to five, this scroll does not include the term for “rebuke” (“and before five, you will flee”). The definite article does not precede the word for “mountain.”

Commentary

The threat of one (representative of a very small number) of the enemy would cause a thousand to flee. The threat of five (also an insignificantly small number) would prompt a panicky flight, leaving only a few survivors, comparable to an isolated mast on a mountain or a signal or signal pole on a hill. The Septugaint rendering represents the few survivors as being like the lone carrier of a signal, a signal pole, or a banner on an elevated site.

30:18. Masoretic Text: And therefore YHWH will wait to show favor to you, and therefore he will exalt himself to show mercy to you; for YHWH [is] a God of judgment. Fortunate [are] all who wait for him.

Septuagint: And again God will wait to be compassionate to you and therefore he will be exalted to show mercy to you, because the Lord our God is judge. And where will you leave your glory? Fortunate [are] those adhering to him.

Commentary

Although YHWH’s disapproval of his people would lead to severe punishment, he provided assurance through Isaiah that he would not forsake them completely. He would wait for the opportunity when he could again give favorable attention to those among them who would be moved to repent and abandon their wayward course. His exalting himself could refer to rising up as from a seated position to take action, extending mercy by delivering his repentant people from the distressing situation in which they found themselves. His exalting himself or, according to the Septuagint rendering, being exalted could also point to his being glorified on account of the mercy he would be showing to his repentant people.

As the God of judgment or justice, he liberates upright ones from their oppressors and does not leave lawlessness and injustice indefinitely unpunished. The godly, therefore, patiently wait for him to render just judgment.

Those who thus wait as persons with full trust in his justice are pronounced “fortunate.” The Hebrew word ’ashrey and the corresponding Greek term makários are descriptive of an enviable or highly desirable state, one of well-being and contentment. These expressions have been defined as meaning “blessed,” “happy,” “fortunate,” “privileged,” and “prosperous.”

In the Septuagint, the additional question relating to “glory” is obscure. When directly linked to God in his role as judge, the question may be understood to have an implied meaning. Before him, the glory, honor, or esteem individuals may have had in the eyes of others will not count when he renders judgment. At that time, there will be no place for anyone to be able to leave such glory so as to be able to reclaim it later.

30:19. Masoretic Text: For, O people who dwell in Zion [and] in Jerusalem, [with] weeping, you will not weep. Surely he will show favor to you, at the sound of your cry; as soon as he hears it, he will answer you.

Septuagint: Therefore, a holy people will dwell in Zion, and [with] weeping Jerusalem wept, “Have mercy on me.” He will show mercy to you, [at] the sound of your cry; when he perceived, he heard you.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah includes the conjunction “and” before “in Jerusalem,” but it is omitted in the Masoretic Text. This scroll has the plural form of the second person verb for “weep,” whereas the Masoretic Text contains the singular verb. Then the Dead Sea Scroll says that “YHWH will show favor.”

Commentary

In the Masoretic Text, Zion could be understood to parallel Jerusalem. With the addition of the conjunction “and,” the reference could be to Zion, the city of David, with Jerusalem designating the rest of the city.

The repetitive “weeping, you will not weep” is suggestive of intense weeping, which would end when YHWH would give favorable attention to his repentant people. The Septuagint rendering draws a contrast between the weeping of Jerusalem (the people in the city) and the “holy people” who would be residing in Zion or Jerusalem. Their being called “holy” is reflective of their having changed and begun to live in a divinely approved manner. Those who weep are represented as making the appeal to be granted mercy.

Both the Hebrew text and the Greek rendering in the Septuagint indicate that YHWH would respond to the people’s cry of distress, showing them favor or mercy by rescuing them from the power of the enemy and bringing an end to their suffering. The assurance is that he will answer when he hears or perceives their outcry.

30:20. Masoretic Text: And my Lord will give you bread of distress and water of oppression. And your teacher will no longer hide himself, and your eyes will see your teacher.

Septuagint: And the Lord will give you bread of distress and water of groaning, and those who misled you will no longer come near you, for your eyes will see those who misled you.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the word for “teacher” apparently is not to be understood as a plural of excellence applying to YHWH as the great Teacher or Instructor. In the scroll, the verb for “hide” is plural.

Commentary

Isaiah recognized YHWH as his Lord or Master, the God whom he chose to serve and obey. By what he would let come upon his disobedient people, YHWH is represented as giving them “bread of distress” and “water of oppression” or, according to the Septuagint, “water of groaning.” This could be understood figuratively to mean that God would let the people experience distress and oppression or groaning on account of affliction like a daily portion of bread and water. “The Lord has given you sorrow and hurt like the bread and water you ate every day.” (NCV) It is also possible that the reference is to extreme scarcity of food and water. During the time of siege, for example, the amount of available bread and water would have been barely enough for survival. The shortage of water would have given rise to groaning among the people. “And if he also sends you times of need, in which bread and water will become scarce, so he still will not let you perish.” (Und schickt er euch auch Zeiten der Not, in denen Brot und Wasser knapp werden, so lässt er euch doch nicht umkommen. [German, Hoffnung für alle])

If the reference to the “teacher” is to YHWH, this would mean that he would again reveal himself. At the time he let the people suffer at the hands of their enemies, he would have appeared to them as having gone into hiding, not providing them with needed guidance. When turning his favorable attention to them and revealing himself as their Teacher, he would no longer be hiding himself. The people would then see him as the source of sound direction conveyed to them through human instruments. According to the reading of the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the “teachers” may be understood to designate those who would provide dependable guidance to the nation. These teachers would not be hidden as would have been the case when calamity befell the people, as there was no one then who could lead them out of the distress.

The Septuagint rendering represents the teachers as persons who were guilty of misleading, and contains the assurance that the people would no longer be deceived by them. They would “see” or recognize those who misled them and thus avoid becoming their victims.

30:21. Masoretic Text: And your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, “This [is] the way; walk in it,” if you turn [aside] to the right and if you turn [aside] to the left.

Septuagint: And your ears will hear the words of those behind you who misled [you], those saying, “This [is] the way; we should walk in it, whether to the right, whether to the left.

Commentary

According to the Hebrew text, whenever the people began to stray from the right course, turning aside from it either to the right or to the left, they would hear a voice behind them. This voice would make clear to them the right way and admonish them to follow it. The “voice” would be that of YHWH being conveyed through the instruments of his choosing.

The Septuagint rendering continues to present the opposite meaning, referring to those whom the people should not be following. Behind them, the people would be hearing the voice of deceivers, trying to get them to follow the divinely disapproved course.

30:22. Masoretic Text: And you will defile the plating of your graven images of silver and the sheathing of your molten image of gold. You will scatter them as something menstruous. You will say of it, “Begone!”

Septuagint: And you will remove the idols overlaid with silver, and those overlaid with gold you will make fine and scatter like water of a woman sitting apart, and you will thrust them away like dung.

Commentary

Upon responding aright to divine guidance, the people would abandon idolatrous practices. Although the silver plating and the gold sheathing of the images were the most valuable parts, the people would cease to regard them as costly and sacred. They would desecrate the precious overlayings, treating them as the unclean discharge of a menstruating woman. The people would choose to rid themselves of the idols as they would filth.

In the Septuagint, the expression about a “woman sitting apart” designates a menstruating woman who, according to the law, avoided contact with others during the period of her ceremonial uncleanness.

30:23. Masoretic Text: And he will give rain for your seed, with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, and it will be rich [literally, “fat”] and lush [literally, “greasy”]. In that day your livestock will graze in a wide pasture.

Septuagint: Then [there] will be the rain for the seed of your land, and the bread of the produce of your land will be abundant and rich. And in that day your cattle will pasture in a fertile and wide place.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the conjunction “and” does the precede the phrase about being “rich and lush.”

Commentary

YHWH’s blessing would come to rest upon his repentant people. He would grant them the needed rain so that the seed sown would produce bountiful harvests. Kernels of grain in the ears would be “fat,” rich, or fully filled out, the grain for making bread would be “greasy,” lush, or abundant. Translators have variously rendered the Hebrew expression (“heavy crops” [REB]; “rich and abundant” [NAB]; “rich and nourishing” [NJB]; “more crops than you need” [CEV]). At that time, livestock — cattle, sheep, and goats — would have ample pasturage.

30:24. Masoretic Text: And the bovines and the asses that till the ground will eat sorrel fodder that has been winnowed with a shovel and a fork.

Septuagint: Your bulls and the bovines, those working the land, will eat straw prepared with winnowed barley.

Commentary

Grain would be so abundant that the cattle and asses that were used to cultivate the soil would be fed winnowed grain. Sorrel is a plant of the buckwheat family, and the stems and leaves thereof have a sour taste. The Hebrew could be understood to mean that sorrel was mixed in the fodder consisting of winnowed grain. The Septuagint identifies the grain as barley.

“Sorrel” is not the meaning found in all lexicons for the Hebrew word (chamíts); another definition is “seasoned.” The renderings of modern translations vary considerably for this verse. “Even the oxen and donkeys that plow your fields will be fed the finest grain.” (CEV) “The oxen and donkeys that plough the land will be fed with well-seasoned fodder, winnowed with shovel and fork.” (REB) “As for the cattle and asses that till the soil, they shall partake of salted fodder that has been winnowed with shovel and fan.” (Tanakh) “Oxen and donkeys that work the land will eat for fodder wild sorrel, spread by the shovel-load and fork-load.” (NJB)

30:25. Masoretic Text: And channels, streams of water, will be on every tall mountain and on every high hill in a day of great slaughter, when towers fall.

Septuagint: And on every tall mountain and on every high hill, water will be streaming in that day, when many perish and the towers fall.

Commentary

Bountiful harvests and lush pasturage for domestic animals would become possible because streams would flow on mountains and hills, including elevated sites that had formerly been barren. The changed condition of the land would follow the “day of great slaughter,” the time when YHWH would be executing his judgment against all opposing powers. Towers or strong fortifications would then provide no security. They would fall, tumbling into ruins. It is also possible the “towers” here represent the lofty enemy powers that would experience a calamitous fall.

30:26. Masoretic Text: And the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun [literally, “heat” or “glow”], and the light of the sun [literally, “heat” or “glow”] will be sevenfold, like the light of seven days, in the day when YHWH binds up the fracture of his people and heals the wound of his blow.

Septuagint: And the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold in the day when the Lord heals the wound of his people, and he will heal the pain of your blow.

The Hebrew expression “heat” or “glow” designates the sun, the source of the heat or glow.

In the Targum of Isaiah, the sun is said to shine 343 times more brightly, and the healing is represented as YHWH’s action to bring his exiled people back to their land.

Commentary

Darkness often denotes gloom, dismal prospects, and calamity, whereas light relates to cheerfulness, prosperity, and bright prospects. For the light of the moon to become as brilliant as that of the sun and for the light of the sun to be increased sevenfold (a complete intensification of light) would point to an exceptionally bright time. So great would be the brightness the people would experience upon YHWH’s turning his favorable attention that it is likened to the combined light from seven sunny days (possibly meaning a complete number of days).

Humiliating defeats at enemy hands had left the people severely bruised and wounded. This sorry state resulted when YHWH withdrew his protection from them. Therefore, the severe blow that pained them is attributed to him. Upon repenting and changing their ways, the people would be restored to a state of well-being, with YHWH healing the wound he (in expression of his judgment for their unfaithfulness) had permitted to be inflicted on them.

30:27. Masoretic Text: “Look! The name of YHWH is coming from a [long] distance, his anger burning and in a thick [literally, “in heaviness”] cloud [literally, “something uplifted”]. His lips [are] full of indignation, and his tongue [is] like a consuming fire.

Septuagint: Look! The name of the Lord comes after much time, [with] burning wrath, with glory to the expression of his lips, the expression [being] full of anger, and the anger of his wrath will consume like fire.

Commentary

The “name” of YHWH represents the person of YHWH. Possibly the reference to the coming of the “name” may serve to indicate that YHWH is the God who has made known his name and communicated with his people. The Targum of Isaiah says that the name “is revealed as the prophets prophesied about it.” According to the Hebrew text, YHWH is coming from a great distance, but the Septuagint rendering represents his coming after much time has passed.

Seemingly, in terms descriptive of an approaching thunderstorm, the Hebrew text refers to the “name” or YHWH as coming from far away. This poetic description is appropriate, for YHWH’s dwelling place is in the distant invisible realm. This coming is portrayed as being in burning or fierce anger. The apparent link to a rain-bearing cloud covering suggests that the rumbling thunder is the expression of the coming in anger, and the “thick” or “heavy” cloud appears to signify an ominous dark cloudy sky. YHWH’s lips are spoken of as being full of indignation. This possibly is an allusion to loud thunder, the loud sound of which may here be regarded as the expression of indignation or displeasure. His tongue is said to be like a consuming fire, suggesting lightning flashes. (Compare Exodus 19:16-19.)

In the Septuagint, the reference to “glory to the expression of his lips” could signify that his word of judgment, upon being carried out, would result in bringing glory or honor to him. The focus of the Septuagint rendering is on the coming in “anger” or to execute judgment against those who have provoked God to wrath by their course of action.

30:28. Masoretic Text: And his spirit [is] like a stream overflowing; it reaches up to the neck, to swing nations with the sieve of vanity, and a bridle in the jaws of the peoples to lead [them] astray.

Septuagint: And his spirit, like water in a ravine rushing along, will come up to the neck and be divided to trouble the nations for a vain delusion, and a delusion will pursue them and seize them against their face.

Commentary

YHWH’s “spirit” or “breath” appears to be likened to the effect of a powerful storm. The downpour turns what was once a dry torrent bed into a raging stream that is portrayed as rising up to the very neck, with resultant ruin to the nations against whom YHWH’s judgment is expressed. Possibly the reference in the Septuagint about being “divided” could signify that the quantity of water is so large as to form two torrents. This development is represented as causing trouble, confusion, or disarray for the nations.

As if he had placed the nations in a sieve, YHWH will shake them back and forth, revealing that they are worthless chaff that the wind blows away. Apparently from the standpoint of the result of the sifting process, the sieve is called a sieve of vanity. Nothing worth preserving is left upon the completion of the sifting. Everything is worthless. YHWH’s judgment against the peoples is also likened to his placing a bridle in their jaws. With this bridle, he would lead them astray or divert them from their objective, throwing them into total confusion and, hence, ruin.

The Septuagint rendering about the delusion could be understood to mean that the objective of the nations, which was contrary to YHWH’s will, would end in failure, making the imagined successful outcome for their aim a mere fantasy. They would not be able to escape the serious consequences of their delusion. It would pursue them or catch up with them. As if being seized in a face-to-face encounter, the nations would experience calamity.

30:29. Masoretic Text: You will have the song as in the night for sanctifying a festival, and rejoicing of heart as when one goes with the flute to come to the mountain of YHWH, to the Rock of Israel.

Septuagint: Must you always rejoice and always enter into my holy places like those observing a festival, and like those rejoicing to come in with a flute to the mountain of the Lord, to the God of Israel?

The rhetorical question in the Septuagint seems to indicate that rejoicing is not always appropriate when going to the sacred temple precincts, implying that there are times for expressions of sadness on account of having transgressed God’s commands.

Commentary

Apparently as a result of the execution of YHWH’s judgment against the nations, his people would be filled with joy on account of their being liberated from distress. They would then be able to raise their voice in song, the kind of joyous song that could be heard in the night when people sanctified themselves for a festival. This sanctifying included washing themselves and putting on clean festive garments. Their joy would also be comparable to what was experienced as flutes resounded during the joyful processions to the temple on the mountain of YHWH, there to worship the “God of Israel.” Being the location of the temple (YHWH’s representative place of dwelling), the mountain is called the “mountain of YHWH.”

30:30. Masoretic Text: And YHWH will cause the majesty of his voice to be heard and the descent of his arm to be seen in the raging of anger and a flame of consuming fire, a cloudburst, a downpour, and hailstones.

Septuagint: And God will cause the glory of his voice to be heard and will show the wrath of his arm with wrath and anger and a consuming flame. He will strike violently with thunderbolts, and [it will be] like water and hail bearing down with violence.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the conjunction “and” is missing at the beginning of the verse, and the expression here translated “will cause to be heard” is repeated.

Commentary

The “majesty” or “glory” of YHWH’s voice probably designates the impressive or awesome manner in which loud thunder resounds. His “arm,” representative of his great power, descends, striking down the enemies of his people. YHWH’s displeasure is directed against these enemies. Therefore, his coming is in anger, comparable to an approaching storm with a “flame of consuming fire” (probably lightning), a drenching downpour, and hail.

30:31. Masoretic Text: For through the voice of YHWH, Asshur [Assyria] will be terrified. He will strike with the rod.

Septuagint: For through the voice of the Lord, the Assyrians will be overcome by the blow with which he will strike them.

The Targum of Isaiah represents the Assyrian as the one striking with the rod but being broken to pieces.

Commentary

Assyria is the enemy power against which YHWH’s wrath is directed. Therefore, the voice of YHWH, which would be the expression of his purpose respecting Assyria, would fill the Assyrians with terror. He will strike them as with a rod, and the blow would, according to the rendering of the Septuagint, overcome them.

30:32. Masoretic Text: And every stroke of a staff of appointment that YHWH lays upon him [will be] to [the accompaniment of] tambourines and harps. And with battles of brandishing [brandished weapons], he will fight with them.

Septuagint: And it will encircle him. From where to him the hope of help was, upon whom he relied, they, with tambourines and harps, alternately will war against him.

The Targum of Isaiah expands the thought about musical accompaniment, adding that the house of Israel would “sing praises about the mighty battle that will be fought for them against the nations.”

Commentary

The Hebrew word mosadáh here rendered “appointment” basically means “foundation.” In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the reading is “his foundation” or “his appointment.” Translators commonly have adopted the alternate reading found in a few Hebrew manuscripts (a form of the word mosár, meaning “discipline,” “chastisment,” or “punishment”). The expression “staff of foundation” does not convey a comprehensible meaning. “Staff of appointment” could signify the means YHWH appointed or designated to bring the Assyrian power to its end. That means could also be called a “staff of punishment.”

The punitive action against Assyria is portrayed as being accompanied by the triumphal music of tambourines and harps. As if wielding weapons, YHWH is depicted as the one who would be fighting against the Assyrians.

The opening words of the Septuagint could mean that the blow would come upon Assyria from all sides, completely surrounding or encircling what was then the major power in the region. Peoples and nations that had at one time fought with the Assyrians and on whom they relied for support are depicted as taking turns to fight against Assyria, giving way to rejoicing over their triumphs to the accompaniment of tambourines and harps.

30:33. Masoretic Text: For Topheth has been prepared aforetime. Yes, for the king it is made ready, made deep and wide. Fire and abundant wood [are] its pile [pyre]. The breath of YHWH, like a torrent of sulfur, kindles it.

Septuagint: For before [the passing of] days, you will have [it] exacted. Was it not also prepared for you to reign? [Prepared was] a deep ravine, wood placed, fire and much wood; the rage of the Lord [is] like a ravine burning with sulfur.

In the Targum of Isaiah, Topheth is called Gehenna, which the “king of ages” has prepared and made deep and wide. It is described as a place where fire burns as when there is much wood; also sulfur burns there.

Commentary

Topheth had been prepared in advance for Asshur or Assyria, including the king. The literal Topheth was probably situated in the eastern part of the Valley of Hinnom and ran along the south and southwest side of Jerusalem. It was there that unfaithful Israelites carried out the abominable practice of child sacrifice until Josiah stopped this gruesome rite by making the place unfit for such repugnant worship. (2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31-33; 19:3-14; 32:35) In the case of Assyria and its king, “Topheth” appears to designate a place of burning. A deep pit or, according to the Septuagint, a ravine filled with a large supply of wood has been prepared. In view of the reference to fire, the wood is already in flames, and the Assyrian host is destined for a fiery end. The breath of YHWH is what is represented as having set the wood ablaze, comparable to the unleashing of a raging torrent of sulfur.

The rendering of the Septuagint is obscure. The object of the exacting is not identified. It could refer to the fact that the Assyrians would have to pay back for the plunder with which they had enriched themselves through military conquests. If the rhetorical question is limited to the thought about the king reigning, the implied answer could be, No. The preparation was for the fiery end in expression of God’s wrath against Assyria. According to the punctuation of Rahlfs’ printed text, the rhetorical question could be rendered, “Was it not also for you to reign that a deep ravine was prepared, wood placed, fire and much wood?” The implied answer could then be that such a ravine definitely is no royal realm.