Isaiah 33:1-24

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33:1. Masoretic Text: Woe to the one devastating, and you have not been devastated; and to the one dealing treacherously with whom [literally, “with him”] no one has dealt treacherously. When you have finished devastating, you will be devastated. When you have ended dealing treacherously, they will deal treacherously with you.

Septuagint: Woe to those causing misery to you, but no one has made you miserable, and the one rejecting does not reject you. The ones rejecting will be captured and be delivered up; and like a moth on a garment, so they will be overcome.


The expression of woe or calamity is apparently directed against Assyria, the then-dominant power that had been responsible for extensive devastation by aggressive warfare against other nations. At the time, however, Assyria had not experienced like ravages of war in its own territory.

Accepting an Assyrian offer of protection through an alliance could subject a nation to Assyria’s treachery. An alliance with Assyria came at a very high price, the payment of a significant amount of tribute. When a nation failed to pay the required tribute, Assyria acted in the role of an enemy and submitted that nation to punitive military action. Whereas other nations, including the kingdom of Judah, had been the object of such treachery, no nation had dealt in this manner with Assyria. The time would come when this devastator and treacherous dealer would be subjected to the same kind of treatment.

The Septuagint rendering differs markedly from the extant Hebrew text. One could understand Assyria to be the power that caused misery to the Israelites (“to you”), but the Assyrian power (“you”) had not been subjected to such misery. The “rejecting” could be understood to mean “treating contemptuously” or being “disloyal.” Possibly the phrase about rejecting could signify that those who became disloyal to Assyria did not act in the violent contemptuous way as did Assyria upon taking punitive military action. In that sense, they would not have rejected, treated contemptuously or been disloyal to Assyria (“you”).

The ones “rejecting” Assyria would be captured during a military campaign and delivered up, either to be killed or enslaved. Anyone spotting a moth on a garment would not let it remain there, but would kill it. This is the apparent fate of those guilty of “rejecting,” treating contemptuously or becoming disloyal.

33:2. Masoretic Text: YHWH, be gracious to us; we have waited for you. Be their arm every morning, also our salvation in time of distress.

Septuagint: Lord, be merciful to us, for on you we rely. The seed of those disobeying came to be for destruction, but our salvation [came] in time of distress.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the conjunction “and” precedes the phrase about YHWH’s becoming the “arm.”


Assyria continued to pose a serious threat to the kingdom of Judah. (Compare 2 Kings 18:13.) Faced with this situation, Isaiah appealed to YHWH for favorable attention or, according to the Septuagint, to be shown mercy. The plural (“us” and “we”) suggests that the prophet prayed representatively for the faithful remnant within the nation. YHWH is the One on whom they had waited to protect and deliver them. Those who were devoted to YHWH, as was the prophet relied (LXX) fully on him. The morning marks the start of a new day. So, for YHWH to become the arm of his people every morning could mean that he would display his power to protect them each and every day. Whenever they faced distressing circumstances, he would be the source of their salvation or deliverance. The Septuagint adds the thought that the “seed of those disobeying” would be destroyed. That seed would be those who demonstrated themselves to be enemies of YHWH and his people.

33:3. Masoretic Text: At the sound of tumult, peoples fled; at your rising up, nations scattered.

Septuagint: Because of the sound of the fear of you, peoples were astounded from the fear of you, and the nations scattered.

Instead of “rising up,” the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah says “silence.”


The “sound” may be that of loud thunder and seems to represent YHWH’s voice and be an indication of his impending judgment. In view of what the sound portends, peoples flee in panic. When YHWH rises as from a seated position to act judicially, the enemy nations scatter in fright.

In the Septuagint, the emphasis is on the fear of God to which the hearing of the sound gives rise. Peoples are astounded or thrown into confusion on account of this fear, and the nations are scattered.

33:4. Masoretic Text: And your spoil will be gathered [like] the gathering of the locust [chasíl]. Like the [swarming] locusts rush, [people] rush upon [it].

Septuagint: But now your spoils will be gathered — [spoils] of small and of great. As in the manner when someone might gather locusts, thus they will mock you.

The concluding words in the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah may be rendered “have rushed upon [it].”

The Targum of Isaiah identifies the “house of Israel” as doing the gathering of the riches of the nations that hate them, doing so in the way men gather locusts. Then the house of Israel is said to set fire to the weapons of war as do men when setting fire to dry sticks.


The “spoil” appears to be that taken from the Assyrians. There is a measure of uncertainty about the significance of the Hebrew word chasíl. Translators have often rendered the word as “caterpillar,” and lexicographers have suggested that the designation applies to the cockroach or to the locust in one of its stages. Possibly the expression that may literally be rendered “gathering of the locust” could designate a locust swarm that consumes everything. This could mean that the collecting of spoil would be comparable to great numbers of swarming locusts moving over an area. As the swarming locusts rush over a field to consume all the vegetation, people would be rushing upon the spoil to seize it.

Translators vary as to how they render the “gathering of locusts,” with some representing the locust or the caterpillar as the object of the gathering and others the active agent of the collecting. “And spoil was gathered as locusts are gathered.” (Tanakh) “Men gather spoil as caterpillars are gathered up.” (NAB) “Your plunder, O nations, is harvested as by young locusts.” (NIV) “They are stripped of spoil as if stripped by young locusts.” (REB) The Septuagint reading could be understood to mean that people would mock the humiliated Assyrians without any hesitation just as one might gather locusts for food.

According to the biblical accounts, YHWH delivered Jerusalem from falling into the hands of the Assyrians. In one night, thousands of Assyrian warriors died. (2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chronicles 32:21; Isaiah 37:36) This development would have made it possible for the people to gather considerable spoil in the camp of the Assyrians. (Compare 2 Kings 7:15, 16; 2 Chronicles 20:24, 25)

33:5. Masoretic Text: YHWH is exalted, for he resides on high. He will fill Zion with judgment and righteousness.

Septuagint: Holy [is] the God who resides in the heights. Zion was filled with judgment and righteousness.


This may relate to deliverance from the Assyrian threat and could also have a larger application to the future end of the enemy power that Assyria represented. When acting against the Assyrians, YHWH would be highly exalted. His place of residence is in the heights or the heavens. From his exalted place of dwelling, he would fill Zion with judgment and righteousness. The execution of judgment against the Assyrians would be an expression of justice. Because the judgment was deserved, it would also be righteous or right. The inhabitants of Zion or Jerusalem would witness the deliverance YHWH had effected for them. Therefore, this dramatic display of judgment and righteousness would fill Jerusalem.

The interpretation in the Targum of Isaiah is not linked to a specific historical development. According to YHWH’s purpose, Zion would be filled with those who carry out true judgment and righteousness.

33:6. Masoretic Text: And he will be the steadfastness of your times, wealth of deliverances, wisdom and knowledge, the fear of YHWH, which is his treasure.

Septuagint: By law, they will be delivered up; in treasures [is] our salvation. Among [those treasures are] wisdom and knowledge and piety toward the Lord. These are the treasures of righteousness.

The conjunction “and” does not appear in the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah at the beginning of this verse.

The Targum of Isaiah represents YHWH as fulfilling his promise to those who fear him, establishing it “in its time, even might and salvation, wisdom and knowledge.” The Targum then adds that for those who fear YHWH “the treasure of his goodness is prepared.”


The opening words can be rendered “and he will be” or “there will be.” In either case, YHWH would be the source of the positive developments. The phrase “the steadfastness of your times” may be understood to mean the bringing in of secure and stable times, ending the insecurity and instability that had resulted from Assyrian aggression. “Wealth of deliverances” could signify the greatness of the deliverances that YHWH effects for his people. The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, however, says “wealth and deliverances,” identifying YHWH as the One who made it possible for his people to prosper and who saved them from their enemies. He is rightly regarded as the source of wisdom and knowledge, providing the guidance that his people needed. “His treasure” may denote the treasure of Judah (the people of the kingdom of Judah), and that treasure is the “fear of YHWH,” a reverential regard for him as manifested by obedience to his commands. This proper fear or awe is the basis of being recipients of his deliverances, wisdom, and knowledge.

According to the reading of the Septuagint, “by law,” which could signify by divine command, the enemy power would be handed over for judgment. The “treasures” that are the salvation of God’s people would not be of a material kind, but they would be wisdom, knowledge, and piety or godliness. Being toward the Lord, the people would be conducting themselves in harmony with the wisdom and knowledge that has him as the source and would be leading godly lives. Wisdom, knowledge, and piety are then identified as being the “treasures of righteousness” or the treasures that make upright conduct possible.

33:7. Masoretic Text: Look! The heroes [’er’él] cry outside [in the streets]; the messengers of peace weep bitterly.

Septuagint: Look now! In the fear of you, they themselves will fear. Those you feared will fear because of you. For the messengers will be sent pleading [for] peace, weeping bitterly, entreating [for] peace.

The Targum of Isaiah seems to indicate that when what YHWH had done for his people is revealed to the “ambassadors of the nations, they will cry aloud bitterly.” Those who went to announce peace would come back “weeping in bitterness of spirit,” apparently because their mission had failed.


The Hebrew word ’er’él, variously rendered “heroes,” “brave men,” or “valiant ones” is of uncertain meaning. Based on an alternate spelling of the Hebrew, the term has been understood to designate the inhabitants of Jerusalem (the word for “Jerusalem” being “Ariel,” as in Isaiah 29:1). This accounts for the renderings “the Arielites cry aloud” (Tanakh) and “Ariel is lamenting in the streets.” (NJB) If viewed as paralleling the term “messengers,” the designation ’er’él would apply to the envoys who were sent to sue for peace. Whether regarded as the envoys or as people of Jerusalem, the reason for the outcry or lament and despair would have been the continuance of Assyrian aggression and the threat to the city as a result of the failure of the peace mission.

According to 2 Kings 18:14-16, Judean king Hezekiah sent to Assyrian monarch Sennacherib 300 silver talents and 30 gold talents to meet the condition for Assyrian withdrawal from Judah. It may be that the messengers or envoys brought the required tribute to Sennacherib, but were then informed that Jerusalem would still have to surrender. According to 2 Kings 18:17, the Assyrian objective regarding Jerusalem was backed by a show of military force at the city itself. So it appears that the envoys who had been sent to Sennacherib were the ones who wept bitterly because of having to return to Hezekiah with disturbing news.

The rendering of the Septuagint cannot be related to the Assyrian threat. It indicates that God’s people would come to be the object of fear and that those whom they had previously feared would come to be in fear on account of them. These former enemies then seem to be represented as sending messengers to sue for peace, making their entreaty with tears.

33:8. Masoretic Text: Highways lie desolate; one passing over a road ceases [to be there]. He has broken a covenant, rejected cities, [and] has no regard for man.

Septuagint: For the roads of these [people] will be desolated. The fear of the nations has ceased, and the covenant with these [people] is lifted, and by no means will you consider them [as] men.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the word for “cities” is “witnesses.”

The Targum of Isaiah attributes the removal of people from their cities to their having altered the covenant, and concludes with the thought that the “sons of men” did not think that evil would be coming upon them.


Assyrian invasions had desolated the main roads. Many of the people in the kingdom of Judah had either been killed or taken captive. Therefore, formerly busy paths were deserted, with virtually no one passing over them.

Assyrian king Sennacherib broke the covenant with the kingdom of Judah when he continued his military campaign in the realm and threatened Jerusalem if Judean King Hezekiah did not surrender the city. When having his warriors destroy them, Sennacherib rejected cities, treating them contemptuously. The ruthless slaughter of many demonstrated that he had no regard for man or people.

The Septuagint rendering appears to relate to the enemies of God’s people. The roads of these enemies had been desolated, and God’s people no longer needed to be in fear of the nations. No longer were they bound by the demands of a covenant or an alliance with a foreign power. These peoples of other nations would not be considered as men to whom they needed to submit or whom they had to fear.

33:9. Masoretic Text: The land mourns, languishes. Lebanon is ashamed, withers away. Sharon is like a desert, and Bashan and Carmel shake off [their leaves].

Septuagint: The land mourned. Lebanon was ashamed. Sharon became marshes. Galilee will be revealed, also Carmel.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the conjunction “and” is omitted before the phrase about Bashan and Carmel.

The Septugint rendering differs somewhat from the Hebrew text but conveys the same message regarding desolation. “Revealing” Galilee and Carmel may mean exposing the ground as having been laid bare, with the enemy invaders having cut down trees for siegeworks and having devasted the land.


Devasted cities, towns, and fields presented a sorry spectacle, as if the whole land was in a state of mourning. The land “languished,” as if reduced to a weakened state, unable to produce crops. Lebanon, Sharon, Bashan, and Carmel are portrayed as having been transformed. Their changed condition serves to depict the marked contrast to the former populated and cultivated state of the land.

Lebanon, noted for its magnificent cedars, is represented as being ashamed and withered, as if having lost the proud appearance of its luxuriant forest. The fertile plan of Sharon is depicted as a barren desert. Trees flourished on the mountain ridges of Bashan, a region east of the Jordan River, and on the slopes of the Carmel ridge that extended from the Mediterranean Sea to the Plain of Dothan. When the trees lose their leaves, the slopes take on an appearance of desolation. The effect the loss of leaves produced was comparable to the Assyrian ruination of the land.

33:10. Masoretic Text: “Now I will arise,” says YHWH; “now I will lift myself up; now I will be exalted.”

Septuagint: “Now I will arise,” says the Lord; “now I will be glorified; now I will be exalted.”

For the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the wording identifying the speaker may be rendered “YHWH has said,” whereas for the Masoretic Text it may be translated “YHWH says.”


As if seated, YHWH, through the prophet Isaiah, speaks of himself as rising or standing up, lifting himself up from his seated position to take action. The Septuagint indicates that he would be “glorified,” manifesting himself as the God who can deliver his people. He would reveal himself in his exalted or lofty state, demonstrating his matchless power. The object of his doing so would be to take action against the Assyrians, no longer permitting them to humiliate his people.

33:11. Masoretic Text: You conceive [dry] foliage; you will give birth to stubble. Your spirit [is] a fire that will devour you.

Septuagint: Now you will see; now you will perceive. Vain will be the strength of your spirit; fire will devour you.

The Targum of Isaiah applies these words to the nations, identifying them as having conceived wicked thoughts and done evil deeds. Their evil deeds would lead to their destruction, just as a whirlwind takes away chaff.


The word of YHWH continues, with apparent reference to the Assyrians. Their aim to capture Jerusalem would come to nothing. The Assyrians had determined to seize the city of Jerusalem, and their planning seems to be likened to conceiving dry foliage. Deprived of needed moisture and stunted in growth, such foliage or grass would be unsuitable for pasturage and would be useless. When the Assyrian aim, as if by birth, would come to light, it would prove to be like worthless stubble. Their spirit, disposition, or intent, ablaze with anger against Jerusalem, would be the fire that would destroy the Assyrians. This is because their spirit would bring God’s fiery judgment against them.

The Septuagint rendering depicts those against whom God’s judgment is expressed as coming to see and perceive that he is the One taking action. Their “spirit,” their courage or boldness will be exposed as having no strength to resist. So the “strength” of their spirit would be vain or empty, and they would perish as if consigned to a fire.

33:12. Masoretic Text: And peoples will be like burnings of lime; like thorns cut down, they are burned in the fire.

Septuagint: And the nations will be burned like a thorn [bush] in a field, being thrown away and burned up.


In a specific sense, the peoples could be the Assyrians but may also include other enemies of God’s people generally, as the Septuagint rendering “nations” may be understood to mean. These hostile peoples would become so completely consumed as when limestone is burned in a kiln and reduced to a lump of lime. They would disappear as when thorny plants are cut down, become completely dry, and are then tossed into the fire.

33:13. Masoretic Text: “You who are far away, hear what I have done; and you nearby ones, come to know my strength.”

Septuagint: “Those far away will hear the things I have done; those nearby will come to know my strength.”

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah refers to those far away as having heard and those nearby as having come to know or having acknowledged.

The Targum of Isaiah interprets those far away to be the righteous who have heeded the law from the beginning and those nearby to be those who repented and recently returned to keeping the law. The righteous were to hear what God had done, and the repentant ones were to know his might.


What YHWH purposed to do to the enemies of his people, specifically the Assyrians, would serve as a lesson both to distant nations and to the people nearby. The ones nearby would be the inhabitants of Jerusalem who would experience divine deliverance. Those far away would hear about what had happened, and those nearby would come to know YHWH’s strength upon witnessing the execution of his judgment on the Assyrians.

33:14. Masoretic Text: Sinners in Zion are afraid. Trembling has seized the impious. Who among us can dwell with devouring fire? Who among us can dwell with burnings of limitless time?

Septuagint: The lawless ones of Zion have gone away; trembling will seize the impious. Who will announce to you that a fire is burning? Who will announce to you the everlasting place?

The Targum of Isaiah represents the questions as relating to those who will abide in Zion and those who will sojourn in Jerusalem. In Zion, the brightness of the Shekinah is likened to a devouring fire, and the wicked are to be judged in Jerusalem and then delivered over to an everlasting burning in Gehenna.


Inhabitants of Zion or Jerusalem who had lived a life of sin would be filled with dread upon seeing YHWH’s all-consuming wrath directed against the enemies of his people. They would thus come to be very much aware of the serious consequences resulting from incurring YHWH’s wrath because of defying his will. Likewise, the impious or godless ones would shudder frightfully on account of the course they had pursued. YHWH’s anger was like a devouring fire. Greatly alarmed, all who had acted in a manner that merited divine wrath would fearfully wonder as to who among them could live with the devouring fire, and who among them could endure burnings or flames for limitless time to come. (Compare Numbers 16:33, 34; 17:2-13.)

The going away of the lawless ones of Zion may refer to their having perished. According to the Septuagint rendering, the questions focus on who would be announcing the “burning fire” or the fiery judgment to the people of Judah and who would be announcing the “everlasting place.” This announcing would be the assignment of the prophets who would be warning the people about the judgment to come. The “everlasting place” appears to designate the place that is designated for the godless in expression of God’s final judgment respecting them.

33:15. Masoretic Text: One walking [in] righteousness and speaking [in] uprightness, rejecting gain [from acts of] oppression, shaking his hands [so as not] to grasp a bribe, stopping his ear from hearing bloodshed [literally, “bloods”], and shutting his eyes from looking upon evil,

Septuagint: One walking in righteousness, speaking a straight way, hating lawlessness and injustice and shaking off with the hands from gifts, closing the ears in order not to hear a judgment of blood, shutting the eyes in order not to see injustice,

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah has a different form of the word for “speaking.” Then, where the Masoretic Text has the plural “hands” and the singular “ear,” this scroll reads “hand” and “ears.”


These words identify those who have no reason to fear YHWH’s judgment. Being devoted to him, they “walk” or conduct themselves uprightly, acting in harmony with his commands. Their words can be trusted, for they speak “uprightness” or truth, not falsehood. The godly among the Israelites rejected oppression or all fraudulent means for making profit. According to the rendering of the Septuagint, they hated lawlessness and injustice. They accepted no bribe, shaking their hands, as it were, so as not to touch it. A person’s stopping up the ear from hearing bloodshed probably means adamantly refusing to listen to those who would justify the shedding of innocent blood. Not allowing one’s eyes to look upon evil apparently signifies not viewing anything of an evil nature or “injustice” (LXX) with approval or not considering such with anything less than outright abhorrence.

33:16. Masoretic Text: he will reside in the heights; fastnesses of rocks [will be] his secure height. His bread will be given [to him]; his water will be sure.

Septuagint: this one will reside high in a cave of strong rock. Bread will be given to him, and his water [will be] dependable.


Those who conduct themselves uprightly in attitude, word, and deed are assured of security and life’s necessities. The state of security the upright person enjoys is likened to his being on an inaccessible elevation in rocky terrain or, according to the Septuagint, in a “cave” high up in a crag. He would receive the bread or food he needed, and the supply of water would not fail.

33:17. Masoretic Text: Your eyes will see a king in his beauty. They will look at a land of wide extent [literally, “distances”].

Septuagint: You will see a king with glory, and your eyes will see a land from afar.

The Targum of Isaiah interprets the land to be the “land of Gehenna” and indicates that the godly would observe and look on them who would be going there.


In relation to the deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrians, the king could be understood to be Hezekiah. On account of the Assyrian threat and the taunts of Rabshakeh, the spokesman for the Assyrian monarch Sennacherib, Hezekiah stripped off his royal garments and replaced them with a girding of sackcloth. (2 Kings 19:1) When deliverance came, Hezekiah would have been able to put on his garments of beauty or splendor as befitted a king.

The words about seeing a “land of distances” or of wide extent, however, seem to point forward to a development grander than the deliverance of Jerusalem. It suggests that the dominion of the king, “a king with glory” (LXX) or with magnificence, would reach far beyond the borders of the kingdom of Judah. This significance is conveyed in a number of translations. “With your own eyes you will see the glorious King; you will see his kingdom reaching far and wide.” (CEV) “Your eyes will see a king in his splendor, they will look upon a vast land.” (NAB) “Your eyes will gaze on the king in his beauty, they will look on a country stretching far and wide.” (NJB)

Especially the words about the “land” provide a basis for identifying the king as the future ruler in the royal line of David, the Messiah or the Anointed One. Even though the Targum of Isaiah contains an interpretation that does not fit the context, it nevertheless points to a time beyond the days of Hezekiah.

33:18. Your heart will meditate on terror: Where [is] the one counting? Where [is] the one weighing? Where [is] the one counting the towers?

Septuagint: “Your soul will meditate on fear: Where are the scribes? Where are the counselors? Where is one counting those growing up, a small and a great people?

Whereas “your” is singular in the Hebrew text, the pronoun is plural in the Septuagint.

The Greek expression here rendered “those growing up” appears to have resulted when the translator thought the Hebrew word for “towers” (a form of migdál) was derived from gadál, meaning “grow” or “become great.” In printed texts of the Septuagint, the words rendered “a small and a great people” appear in verse 19. These words may be understood to refer to conquered people of both small and large domains.

In the Targum of Isaiah, those counting are challenged, “Let them come, if they can, to calculate the number of the slain of the chiefs of the armies of the mighty men.”


“Heart” can either designate the mind or the inner self. The Septuagint rendering “soul” denotes the individual. Upon being delivered from the enemy power, the people individually would be able to reflect on the terror or dread that had seized them when they were confronted with the serious military threat. The questions single out certain ones among the invading force that the rescued people would no longer see. There would be no one counting. This could designate a scribe who made a record of the number of the slain and of the captives and domestic animals that were taken from a conquered town or city and the immediate surrounding area. No one would be on hand to do the weighing of tribute or booty, which would have included gold, silver, and a variety of precious items. According to the Septuagint rendering, no counselors remained on the scene. These would be those who provided advice for carrying out the campaign. As part of the process in determining the strength of the fortifications of a town or city to be besieged, someone would count the number of towers.

33:19. Masoretic Text: You will no longer see an insolent [ya‘áz] people, a people of unintelligible speech [literally, “lip”] for hearing [with understanding], of a stammering tongue not to be understood.

Septuagint: [From this people] they did not take counsel nor did it [this people] perceive a deep voice so that a despised people should not hear, and [there] is no understanding to the one hearing.

In the phrase translated “you will no longer see,” the verb (“you will see”) is singular in the Masoretic Text but plural in the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah.

For the Septuagint rendering, the words that complete the question (according to Rahlfs’ printed text) are included as the final part of verse 18.

The Septuagint rendering is obscure. Perhaps the meaning is that the enemy power consulted no people, either small or great, before taking action. This military power formulated its plans in secret (as with a deep or low voice that could not be perceived). The enemy power looked down on other nations, and so a “despised people” did not hear its plans. Even if someone did hear something, that one did not comprehend just what was being formulated.

Regarding the enemies of God’s people, the Targum of Isaiah says that they “mock with their tongue because they have no understanding.”


There is a measure of uncertainty about the significance of the Hebrew word ya‘áz. The meaning “insolent” or “impudent” has the support of the Latin Vulgate. It contains a form of the adjective impudens (inpudentem), which can be rendered “impudent” or “insolent.” The “insolent people,” an arrogant nation that had no regard for other nations, may either be the Assyrians or the Assyrians as representative of a power hostile to God’s people. Subsequent to the humiliation of the enemy power, God’s people would no longer see the “insolent people” and cease to be threatened by them. As a foreign nation, the “insolent people” spoke in a language that was unintelligible to the Israelites. They could hear the spoken word but they could not understand it. The foreign tongue sounded like incomprehensible stammering.

33:20. Masoretic Text: See Zion, the city of our festival [observance]. Your eyes will see Jerusalem [as] a quiet habitation, a tent [that is] not movable, the pins thereof will never be pulled up, and none of its ropes will be torn.

Septuagint: See Zion, the city [is] our salvation. Your eyes will see Jerusalem, a wealthy city, tents that will by no means be shaken nor will the pins of its tent be ever moved, nor will its ropes by any means be torn.

For the Septuagint rendering, the expressions “by no means” and “nor by any means” serve to preserve the emphatic sense of the two Greek words for “not.”

In the Dead Sea Scroll, the Hebrew word that is here rendered “festival” is plural.


Zion or Jerusalem, the city where God’s people observed the annual festivals at the temple, would enjoy tranquility. It would be a “quiet habitation,” free from disturbances and enemy threats. The city would be like a tent that is firmly secured with pegs that can never be pulled up and with ropes that cannot be torn in two.

The Septuagint rendering links Zion or Jerusalem to “salvation” or “deliverance.” God is the source of salvation. With the city as the location of the temple being his representative place of dwelling, salvation or deliverance can be spoken of as coming from Jerusalem. His blessing would make the city wealthy or prosperous.

33:21. Masoretic Text: For there majestic [is] YHWH, a place of rivers for us, of canals, wide of sides [literally “hands”]. In it [this place of rivers], a rowing vessel cannot go, and a majestic ship cannot pass [through] it.

Septuagint: For the name of the Lord [is] great to you. [There] will be a place for you — rivers and channels, broad and wide. You will not go this way nor will a ship go rowing [there].

The Septuagint rendering seems too indicate that, because the people considered the “name” or God himself to be great, they would benefit from a place of protection, which is then represented as a place of “rivers and channels, broad and wide.” This protective way would be of such a nature that they would not cross it and no ship (representative of an invader) could ply the water.

According to the interpretation in the Targum of Isaiah, YHWH’s might would be revealed from Jerusalem. From the city would come “far-flooding rivers” that no fishing vessel could navigate nor through which any great galley could sail.


Jerusalem would be secure because of YHWH’s protective care. He is the “Majestic One,” the Sovereign without equal as the city’s protector and deliverer. YHWH would be like a place of rivers and wide canals, providing protection because such rivers and canals cannot easily be forded. He would be like an extensive, wide waterway that completely encircled Jerusalem but in which no impressive enemy ship could navigate successfully.

33:22. Masoretic Text: For YHWH [is] our judge; YHWH [is] our enactor [of law]; YHWH [is] our king. He will save us.

Septuagint: For my God is great; the Lord will not pass me by. Our judge [is] the Lord. Our ruler [is] the Lord; our king [is] the Lord. This One will save us.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the conjunction “and” appears after “judge.” Then the conjunction “and” both precedes and follows the words about YHWH’s being king.

The opening words of the Septuagint may be representing Jerusalem as the speaker, acknowledging God’s greatness. His not passing by could be understood to mean that he would not be doing so without giving favorable attention or providing aid.

The Targum of Isaiah refers to YHWH as judge who brought the Israelites out of Egypt, as teacher who gave the instruction of the law at Mount Sinai, as king who would deliver them and execute righteous vengeance on the “armies of Gog.”


The reference to a king in 17 suggests that YHWH would be the judge, enactor of law, and king through the one whom he appointed as his ruler, his “Anointed One.” Acting for YHWH, the king in the royal line of David would render judicial decisions, issue commands, and discharge his office as king in a manner that would secure the well-being of his subjects. With YHWH’s backing, he would save or deliver his people from all threats and enemies.

33:23. Masoretic Text: Your ropes hang loose. They cannot hold firmly the base of their mast nor keep the sail spread out. Then plunder of spoil in abundance will be divided. Lame ones will plunder plunder.

Septuagint: Your ropes tore, for they were not strong. Your mast tilted; it will not unfurl the sails. It will not raise a signal until it is handed over for plunder. Indeed many lame ones will take plunder.

While the rendering of the Septuagint differs, the basic message is the same. The extant Hebrew text, however, does not say anything about not raising a signal. With the apparent raising of the signal being linked to being “handed over,” the reference could then be to a signal indicating surrender.


Because deliverance would come from YHWH, an enemy force would be like a vessel with loose rigging or torn ropes (LXX), an unstable or “tilted” (LXX) mast, and a sail that cannot be spread or unfurled. In a wrecked state, the vessel would be useless, representative of the defeat of the enemy power. As a consequence, God’s people would be able to plunder what the enemy had left behind. The plunder would be so abundant that even the lame would be able to take their share of the spoil.

The Targum of Isaiah indicates that the strength of the nations would be broken, resulting in their being like a ship with cut ropes, a cut mast, and a sail that cannot be spread. Israel would then divide the riches of the nations, and any in their midst who might be blind and lame would also be able to divide much spoil.

33:24. Masoretic Text: And no inhabitant will say, “I am sick” [chaláh]. The people dwelling there will be forgiven [their] iniquity.

Septuagint: And by no means will the people dwelling among them say, “I am weary,” for their sin has been forgiven.

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

Instead of a paraphrase of the words, “I am sick,” the Targum of Isaiah appears to represent the people residing securely in Jerusalem as no more being told regarding YHWH, “From you has come upon us the evil stroke.” The Targum then adds that the house of Israel would be “gathered together and return to their place with their sins forgiven.”


The Hebrew word chaláh can mean “weak” or “sick.” In the Septuagint, the corresponding word is a form of kopiáo, (“be tired,” “be” or “grow weary”). In a sick state, a person would be “weak” or “weary,” deprived of the usual strength.

If directly linked to the previous verse, the statement about not being “sick,” “weak,” or “weary” (LXX) could relate to what no inhabitant of Jerusalem would say about sharing in taking plunder. So abundant would be the booty that no one would be too weak or too weary to be able to participate in collecting as much of the spoils as they might want. Their having been delivered from the enemy power and, therefore, restored to divine favor would demonstrate that their iniquity or sin had been forgiven.

It is also possible that this verse points to the future state of well-being that God’s people would come to enjoy. According to the promises contained in the law, obedience to the commands would contribute to the physical well-being of the individual. Therefore, as persons forgiven of their sins and living upright lives, the people would no longer be saying “I am sick,” as they had on account of disregarding God’s commands. (Exodus 23:25; Deuteronomy 7:15; 28:27, 58-61)