Isaiah 32:1-20

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32:1. Masoretic Text: Look! A king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice.

Septuagint: For look! A righteous king will reign, and rulers will rule with justice.

The Targum of Isaiah says that the righteous would be appointed to “execute just vengeance on the nations.”


In the prophecy, Assyria appears to be representative of the enemy power. Subsequent to its destruction dawns a new era, the time of the promised Messiah. Unlike the oppressive, unjust rulers of the past, the Messianic king would rule in righteousness, acting according to the highest standard of justice. The princes associated with him in rulership would likewise administer affairs justly, shunning all partiality.

32:2. Masoretic Text: And a man [’ish] will be like a hiding place from wind and a shelter from cloudburst, like streams of water in a parched area, like shade of a large rock in an exhausted land.

Septuagint: And the man will hide his words and will be hidden as from flowing water, and in Zion he will be manifest like a flowing river, glorious in a thirsty land.

Instead of “like shade” or “shadow,” the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah says “in shade” or “shadow.”

The Targum of Isaiah represents the righteous as hiding themselves from the wicked, just as men hide or seek shelter from a storm. These righteous ones are said to be appointed, apparently as functionaries in the royal realm, and their teaching would be accepted quickly, “as streams of water that flow in a thirsty land, as the shadow of a cool rock in a weary land.”


In this verse, numerous translations render the Hebrew word ’ish as “each one,” applying the description to the princes who would be just in the exercise of their authority. There is a basis for doing so, for the definite article does not precede ’ish. Nevertheless, the focus may still be on the “king,” for the Hebrew word for “king” in the previous verse is not preceded by the definite article. Possibly the thought is that the Messianic king is a man in the noblest sense of the word. He would be an unfailing source of comfort and protection, comparable to a protected place where one would be shielded from fierce, chilly winds and sheltered from drenching rainstorms. The Messianic king’s beneficent rule would be as refreshing as streams in a desert and provide relief from oppressive rulership. This relief would be comparable to the welcome shade a large crag would provide in a hot, barren desert. As the princes would be administering affairs justly, the description could also fit them.

Though differing considerably from the extant Hebrew text, the rendering of the Septuagint likewise can apply to the Messianic king, particularly since the definite article precedes the word for “man” (ánthropos). A meaningful understanding of the words can be gleaned from the text when they are considered as being prophetic about Jesus, the promised Anointed One, Messiah, or Christ. His words were “hidden.” The import of his teaching proved to be concealed from the “wise,” and he spoke in parables, the meaning of which remained hidden from the masses. (Matthew 13:10-17; Luke 10:21) As a depository hidden within him, the life-giving words were like a concealed, never-failing stream or a perennial spring. Yet in Zion, representative of the true children of Zion or Israelites in the real sense of the word, he was revealed to be like a flowing river. Through him, the true children of Zion could be forgiven of their sins and come to enjoy the real life of an enduring relationship with him and his Father. Thus he was like a glorious or magnificent river that transformed an arid region into a place where vegetation could flourish. (Compare John 4:13, 14.)

32:3. Masoretic Text: And the eyes of the seeing will not be blind [literally, “smeared over”], and the ears of the hearing will be attentive.

Septuagint: And they will no longer rely on men, but they will incline the ears to hear.

According to the Targum of Isaiah, the eyes of the righteous are the ones that would not be shut, and the ears of those receiving instruction would take heed.


In the past, the Israelites had repeatedly failed to act in harmony with YHWH’s guidance provided in the law and through the prophets, conducting themselves as if they were blind. They paid no attention to YHWH’s word conveyed to them through the prophets. During the reign of the future Messianic king, the situation would be markedly different. Formerly blind eyes would see and formerly deaf ears would hear.

The Septuagint rendering indicates that the people would no longer put their trust in men, apparently meaning men that gave misleading direction. Instead, the people would incline their ears to heed trustworthy divine guidance.

32:4. Masoretic Text: And the heart of the hasty will be inclined to know, and the tongue of stammerers will hasten to speak clearly.

Septuagint: And the heart of the feeble will be inclined to hear, and the stammering tongues will quickly learn to speak peace.


In their hearts, or their deep inner selves, persons may have been hasty or rash, not taking time to consider the problems to which their words or behavior could give rise. They would cease to be rash and give prior thought so as to understand the best course in a given situation. It appears that the stammerers would be persons who really did not think about what they were about to say and so unclear expressions proceeded from their mouths. These former stammerers would “hasten” or be prepared to speak clearly.

The Septuagint reference to the “heart of the feeble” could be understood to mean the inmost selves of those who were weak insofar as following the right course was concerned. They would pay attention, responding aright to sound guidance. The implication appears to be that stammering tongues expressed thoughts that tended to disrupt peace or harmonious relationships with others. Such former stammering tongues would be quick to say words that promoted peace and did not give rise to quarrels.

32:5. Masoretic Text: No more will a fool be called noble [nadív] nor a rogue be termed honorable.

Septuagint: And no more will they say to the fool to govern, and no more will your attendants say, “Be still!”

The text of the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah may be rendered, “No more will they call a fool noble.”

According to the Targum of Isaiah, the wicked one would no longer be called righteous, and transgressors would no longer be called mighty.


No longer would there be the kind of wrong evaluations that are based on a person’s social standing by reason of birth or possessions. The Hebrew word nadív, here rendered “noble,” can designate one who is ready or willing, either to volunteer a skill or to distribute something of value. A fool, a person with serious moral flaws and who defiantly disregarded YHWH’s commands, would not be called noble when outwardly and voluntarily doing what might have appeared meritorious. He would still be recognized for what he is, a morally corrupt person. A rogue, a deceitful or an unprincipled person, would not be classified as “noble” or as an upstanding gentleman.

According to the Septuagint rendering, fools or morally corrupt individuals would not be asked to fill positions of authority. Attendants, or persons who display a servile disposition, would not be issuing commands, telling others to be quiet.

32:6. Masoretic Text: For a fool will speak foolishness, and his heart will work at iniquity, to work at godlessness and to speak error regarding YHWH, to make the soul of the hungering one empty, and he causes the thirsty one to lack drink.

Septuagint: For the fool will speak foolishness, and his heart will devise vanities to complete [deeds] of lawlessness and to speak error regarding the Lord, to scatter hungering souls and to make thirsty souls empty.

Instead of a verb meaning “do,” “make,” or “work,” the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah has a word that may be rendered “plans” (“plans iniquity”).

In the Targum of Isaiah, the hungering and thirsting is represented as being of a spiritual nature. The soul of the righteous desires instruction like the hungry one desires bread, and the righteous desire the words of the law like the thirsty one desires water. Wicked ones are portrayed as working against what the righteous desire.


The “fool,” the morally corrupt man, would be recognized as someone who speaks what is senseless. His advice, if followed, would result in harm. In his “heart,” or his inmost self, the senseless one is a practicer of bad, doing what is ungodly and speaking falsehood about or before YHWH, showing no regard for him or for fellow humans. Instead of responding compassionately to those in need, the morally corrupt person does nothing to bring relief to those hungering or thirsting but adds to their pain. The Septuagint rendering about “scattering” hungry souls could denote driving them away instead of helping them.

32:7. Masoretic Text: And the rogueries of a rogue [are] evil. He gives counsel [for] schemes to ruin the lowly with words of deceit even [when] the needy one speaks judgment [the rightness of his case].

Septuagint: For the counsel of the wicked will counsel [doing deeds of] lawlessness to ruin the lowly with unjust words and to reject the words of the lowly in judgment.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the conjunction “and” follows the Hebrew word for “evil.” Instead of a singular “needy one,” this scroll reads “needy ones.”


The rogue, the unprincipled person, acts dishonestly or corruptly, planning ways to bring ruin to afflicted ones. Acting either out of maliciousness or greed, he would seek to take advantage of the needy through false accusations and the use of lying witnesses. Thus the needy man would be prevented from having justice rendered even when he was in the right. Under the rule of the future Messianic king, injustices of this nature would end.

32:8. Masoretic Text: And the noble one devises noble things, and by noble things he will stand.

Septuagint: But the pious counsel sensible things, and this counsel will remain.


Under the rule of the Messianic king, nobility would be correctly assessed. The noble man is such, not because of birth or on the basis of his possessions. He is noble because he devises or intends to do and does what is noble, right, and generous. His standing by noble things could signify his being firm or constant in doing what is noble. He would also actively support and defend what is right.

The Septuagint rendering indicates that the pious or godly person (as would be one who is noble) gives sensible advice, counseling according to what is morally good. Such counsel would remain as trustworthy.

32:9. Masoretic Text: Women who are at ease, rise; hear my voice. Confident daughters, give ear to my saying.

Septuagint: Rich women, rise and hear my voice. Daughters in [a state of] confidence, hear my words.

In the Targum of Isaiah, the women are interpreted as being “provinces” that are at ease; and the daughters are identified as cities dwelling in security.


With the word for “women” appearing in parallel with the term for “daughters,” girls could be included. The Septuagint rendering identifies the women as wealthy or prominent women. It appears that the women did not believe that they would be facing calamity. They did not consider that YHWH, in expression of his being angry with the disobedient people, would let them experience serious military aggression. The women were “at ease” or complacent. They were quite confident respecting their security.

These women needed to be awakened to the distress that would befall them. Therefore, the prophet instructed them to stand up, assuming an attentive position, and to listen to his words.

32:10. Masoretic Text: [After some] days over a year, you will tremble, you confident women, for the vintage will have ended; the [fruit] ingathering will not come.

Septuagint: [On] a day of a year bring to remembrance in pain with hope: The vintage has been consumed, the sowing has ceased, and no more shall it come.

The Septuagint rendering seems to suggest that, although recalling the dire situation when there were no crops to be harvested, those addressed could still have hope that the circumstances would change for the better.

According to the Targum of Isaiah, those residing in security would tremble for “days with years,” probably meaning for a very long time. This would be because there would be no more grain and no crop to be harvested.


The women apparently thought that any expression of divine judgment would be so far off in the future as to be of no concern to them. But the message the prophet declared indicated that the time of distress was rapidly approaching. In a comparatively short time (just a year and some days), the women would be jolted out of their false sense of security, their unconcerned, unsuspecting, careless state. They would then tremble, finding themselves in a state of uneasiness, disquietude, and alarm. The time for picking the grapes would then already have passed, and there would be no fruit for harvesting. This unfavorable development would be the result of enemy invasion that disrupted agricultural operations and caused extensive devastation.

The Septuagint rendering indicates that nothing was available from the vintage and that no sowing had taken place and suggests that the unfavorable circumstances would prevent the people from engaging in essential agricultural labor.

32:11. Masoretic Text: Tremble, you women who are at ease; shudder, you confident women; strip and make yourselves naked, and gird sackcloth upon [your] loins.

Septuagint: Be astounded; be grieved, you confident ones; strip, become naked, bind sackcloth around the loins,

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the definite article precedes the word for “loins.” Before “upon the loins,” this scroll reads, “and beat yourselves.” This addition may have crept into the text from verse 12 when a copyist inadvertently picked up the wording from there.


In view of the certainty of the impending calamity, the prophet told the women to tremble or, according to the Septuagint, to become astounded and to grieve about the distress that they had not imagined as sure to come upon them. These women had been at ease or complacent and were confident about their security, but what would befall them would cause them to shudder. In keeping with what they would be facing, they were to assume the position of mourners, stripping themselves of all their clothing and covering their naked body with sackcloth (a coarse cloth commonly made of goat’s hair) merely around their loins.

32:12. Masoretic Text: Beat upon [your] breasts for desirable fields, for a fruit-bearing vine.

Septuagint: and beat upon the breasts for a desirable field and a fruit-bearing vine.


The women were to beat themselves upon their exposed breasts. This would be in bitter lamentation over the devastated fields and the ruined grapevines.

32:13. Masoretic Text: For the ground of my people is sprouting up [with] briar [and] thorny [plant], even on all the houses of rejoicing [in] a joyous city.

Septuagint: The land of my people — thorn and greenery will sprout up, and rejoicing will be removed from every house.

The words here rendered “briar” and “thorny plant” are collective singulars. In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the two terms are joined by the conjunction “and.”


Enemy invasions would disrupt agricultural operations. Therefore, formerly cultivated fields would become overgrown with thorny plants and other weeds. On account of war, homes that once were filled with exultation, rejoicing, or merriment would be left without any occupants and be encroached upon by weeds. There would cease to be gladness in what had been a joyous city.

32:14. Masoretic Text: For the citadel will be forsaken, the commotion of the city will depart. Ophel and the watchtower will become instead caves for limitless time, a rejoicing of wild asses, a pasture of flocks,

Septuagint: Wealthy city, forsaken houses — they will abandon a city’s wealth and desirable houses, and the villages will become caves forever [literally, “until the age”], a rejoicing of wild asses, pastures of shepherds,

In printed texts of the Septuagint, the words translated “wealthy city” are at the end of verse 13.

The Targum of Isaiah refers to the sanctuary as having been laid waste and the cities of those who worshiped there as having been desolated. A “house of gladness,” the “delight of kings,” became spoil for armies.


The citadel could designate the royal complex in the city of Jerusalem, which would be abandoned. The “commotion of the city,” the noise characteristic of city life, would cease. “Ophel” means “hill,” and this is the rendering in numerous translations. In relation to Jerusalem, the designation “Ophel” may denote a bulge of land at the southeast corner of the temple mount. This section was strongly fortified and probably prominent inhabitants of Jerusalem lived there. The “watchtower” may have been a significant landmark, and it and Ophel would be devastated, transforming the site into an area of caves or dens for wild animals. The depopulation and devastation of the area would make it an ideal place for wild asses and a location suitable for flocks to pasture. Although the wording differs in the Septuagint, the basic thought about the desolation is preserved.

32:15. Masoretic Text: until a spirit is poured out upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes an orchard, and the orchard is considered as a forest.

Septuagint: until a spirit comes upon you from on high, and Chermel [Carmel] will be a wilderness, and Chermel [Carmel] will be considered as a forest.

The Hebrew designation for Mount Carmel is the same as that for “orchard.” This is the apparent reason for the Septuagint rendering “Chermel” or Carmel. The Septuagint translator transposed the wording of the Hebrew text, making the reference to Chermel becoming a wilderness. This meaning, however, does not fit the positive message of verse 15.


The desolated condition was to continue for an undetermined or indefinite length. Through an intervention from on high, from God, the sad state would end. This intervention is represented as being the outpouring of God’s spirit, and a tremendous change would accompany that outpouring. The transformation is likened to turning a barren wilderness into a fruit-bearing orchard. Then, what previously would have been regarded as an orchard would be considered as a common forest.

32:16. Masoretic Text: And judgment will reside in the wilderness, and righteous will dwell in the orchard.

Septuagint: And judgment will rest in the wilderness, and righteousness will dwell in Carmel.

The Septuagint here has another spelling for “Carmel,” the Hebrew designation that can also mean “orchard” and is often rendered “fruitful field,” but which the Septuagint translator apparently considered as applying to Mount Carmel.

In the Targum of Isaiah, the reference is to those doing what is right or righteous as being the ones residing in the wilderness and inhabiting the fruitful field.


In the wilderness or in uncultivated areas might, not right, often prevailed. One example of this involved the control of the water supply for flocks and herds. (Compare Genesis 26:18-21 and Exodus 2:16, 17.) This situation would change. Judgment, or the proper administration of justice, would find a permanent home in the wilderness, bringing an end to the tactics of those who used their superior strength or numbers to deprive others of their rights. Cultivated land or orchards would prove to be the abiding place for righteousness, with no one having to fear unjust takeover of land, devastation, or robbery.

32:17. Masoretic Text: And the work of righteousness will be peace, and the labor of righteousness, quietness and security for limitless time.

Septuagint: And the works of righteousness will be peace, and righteousness will take hold of a resting place, and they will be confident forever [literally, “until the age”].

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, a preposition precedes the word for “peace” (“for peace”).

The Targum of Isaiah represents those doing what is righteous as those who will be at peace, enjoy quiet, and dwell in security forever.


The work, result, or product of the righteousness or uprightness that would exist among the people would be peace, ending conflicts, ensuring safety, and contributing to the well-being of all concerned. This righteousness would also result in “quietness,” calmness, or tranquility and security. God’s people are thus represented as not having to fear any disruption of their peace or well-being and to be troubled by feelings of uncertainty respecting their future. With righteousness having taken hold of a resting place (as expressed in the Septuagint) or a permanent home, the people could for all time to come be confident respecting the continuance of peace and security.

32:18. Masoretic Text: And my people will dwell in an abode of peace and in residences of security, and in undisturbed resting places.

Septuagint: And his people will dwell in a city of peace, and reside [therein] with confidence, and rest with wealth.

The Hebrew word here rendered “security” is plural, indicative of a completely secure state.


The residences of God’s people are portrayed as being peaceful and secure, free from all disturbances. There would be nothing to disrupt the prosperous and tranquil circumstances.

Although differing from the Hebrew text, the Septuagint conveys the same thought about security. People would be confident, not having to fear any disruption of their peace. Enjoying prosperous circumstances, they would be able to “rest” with their wealth, for there would be no danger of loss or concern about any violent seizure.

32:19. Masoretic Text: And it will hail [when] the forest is going down and in humiliation the city will be laid low.

Septuagint: But if the hail descends, it will not come upon you, and those dwelling in the forests will be confident like those in the plain.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the word for “forest” also appears where the Masoretic Text says “city.”


The Targum of Isaiah represents the hail as coming down on the military camps of the nations and destroying them. This interpretation does have merit.

The peace and security that God’s people would come to enjoy follows the flattening of the forest through a tremendous hail. This forest could designate a lofty enemy power. Earlier in Isaiah’s prophecy (10:33, 34), the Assyrian warriors apparently are portrayed as trees. So the hail could be understood to signify a destructive element that YHWH unleashes against the enemy power. As the leading enemy power at the time, Assyria could be referred to as the “forest,” with the warriors being the individual trees. If “city” is the original reading of the Hebrew text (which may not be the case), the city could be the Assyrian capital, which was to be brought to a low state, level with the ground.

The Septuagint rendering cannot be interpreted in this manner. The “hail,” or the destructive element, would not affect God’s people. Those of their number who resided in the forests or thickets (wooded areas where formerly there would have been greater danger from animal attack or from robbers who could readily hide) would have the same feeling of confidence or sense of security as those who lived in the plain without such hazards and where others would be able to see their need for possible help.

32:20. Masoretic Text: Fortunate [are] you who sow by all waters, sending forth the feet of the bull and the ass.

Septuagint: Fortunate [are] those sowing by every water, where bovine and ass tread.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the conjunction “and” precedes the phrase about sending forth the bull and the ass.

The Targum of Isaiah applies the words to the righteous and likens their having done good works to those who sow and then send forth cattle to tread out the grain and asses to gather, apparently to be loaded with threshed grain for transport.


The Hebrew word ’ashréy 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.”

Those doing the sowing in well-watered areas would be fortunate, for they would be assured of abundant harvests. The reference to “by all waters” suggests that there would be no circumstance that would prevent a particular well-watered piece of land from being cultivated. Nothing, including enemy invasions, would, as in former times, interfere with the work of sowing. Therefore, their being “fortunate” could include having a sense of joy. Likewise those sending out cattle and donkeys to pasture would be “fortunate,” “happy,” or “blessed,” for they would not have to fear attacks by predators or seizure by marauders.

The Septuagint rendering could be understood to mean that cattle and donkeys, when used for agricultural labors, would tread in the well-watered areas.