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Isaiah 1

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1#The title, or inscription, of the book is an editorial addition to identify the prophet and the circumstances of his ministry. Isaiah: meaning “the salvation of the Lord,” or “the Lord is salvation.” Amoz: not Amos the prophet. Judah: the Southern Kingdom of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Uzziah: also called Azariah; cf. 2 Kgs 15:1; 2 Chr 26:1. The vision which Isaiah, son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
Accusation and Appeal
2#This chapter is widely considered to be a collection of oracles from various periods in Isaiah’s ministry, chosen by the editor as a compendium of his most characteristic teachings. Hear, O heavens, and listen, O earth,
for the Lord speaks:
Sons have I raised and reared,
but they have rebelled against me!#Dt 32:1, 5–6, 18.
3An ox knows its owner,
and an ass,#Ox…ass: Isaiah uses animals proverbial for their stupidity and stubbornness to underline Israel’s failure to respond to God. Israel: a term Isaiah (and other prophets) frequently applies to Judah, especially after the fall of the Northern Kingdom (which Isaiah normally calls Ephraim, as in 7:2, 9, 17; 9:8), but sometimes applies to the entire chosen people, as in 8:14. its master’s manger;
But Israel does not know,
my people has not understood.#Jer 8:7; Lk 2:12.
4Ah!#Ah: see note on 5:8–24. Holy One of Israel: a title used frequently in the Book of Isaiah, rarely elsewhere in the Old Testament (see 5:19, 24; 10:20; 12:6; 17:7; 29:19; 30:11, 12, 15; 31:1; 37:23; 41:14, 16, 20; 43:3, 14; 45:11; 47:4; 48:17; 49:7; 54:5; 55:5; 60:9, 14). Sinful nation, people laden with wickedness,
evil offspring, corrupt children!
They have forsaken the Lord,
spurned the Holy One of Israel,
apostatized,#Is 5:24; Dt 32:15.
5Why#The Hebrew expression translated “Why?” may also be translated “Where?” The ambiguity is probably intentional: “Why, O Israel, would you still be beaten, and where on your bruised body do you want the next blow?” The bruised body is a metaphor for the historical disaster that has overtaken Israel (see v. 7) because of its sins. would you yet be struck,
that you continue to rebel?
The whole head is sick,
the whole heart faint.
6From the sole of the foot to the head
there is no sound spot in it;
Just bruise and welt and oozing wound,
not drained, or bandaged,
or eased with salve.
7Your country is waste,
your cities burnt with fire;
Your land—before your eyes
strangers devour it,
a waste, like the devastation of Sodom.#Sodom: Sodom and Gomorrah (see vv. 9–10; cf. Gn 19) were proverbial as wicked cities completely overthrown and destroyed by God. Judah, more fortunate, survives at least as a remnant. The devastation of the land and the isolation of Jerusalem suggest the time of Sennacherib’s invasion of 701. #Is 13:19; Dt 29:22; Jer 49:18; 50:40; Am 4:11.
8And daughter Zion#Daughter Zion: Jerusalem, as isolated as a little hut erected in a field for the shelter of watchmen and laborers. is left
like a hut in a vineyard,
Like a shed in a melon patch,
like a city blockaded.
9If the Lord of hosts#Lord of hosts: God, who is the Creator and Ruler of the armies of Israel, the angels, stars, etc. had not
left us a small remnant,
We would have become as Sodom,
would have resembled Gomorrah.#Rom 9:29.
10#A powerful indictment of the religious hypocrisy of rulers and others who neglect just judgment and oppress the weaker members, yet believe they can please God with sacrifices and other external forms of worship. The long list of observances suggests the Lord’s tedium with such attempts. Sodom…Gomorrah: the names are picked up from v. 9, but now to emphasize their wickedness rather than the good fortune of escaping total destruction. Hear the word of the Lord,
princes of Sodom!
Listen to the instruction of our God,
people of Gomorrah!
11What do I care for the multitude of your sacrifices?
says the Lord.
I have had enough of whole-burnt rams
and fat of fatlings;
In the blood of calves, lambs, and goats
I find no pleasure.#Ps 50:8–13; Sir 34:23; Mi 6:7.
12When you come to appear before me,
who asks these things of you?
13Trample my courts no more!
To bring offerings is useless;
incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and sabbath, calling assemblies—
festive convocations with wickedness—
these I cannot bear.#Prv 15:8; Jer 6:20.
14Your new moons and festivals I detest;#Am 5:21–24.
they weigh me down, I tire of the load.
15When you spread out your hands,
I will close my eyes to you;
Though you pray the more,
I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood!#Hands…blood: oppression of the poor is likened to violence that bloodies the hands, which explains why the hands spread out in prayer (v. 15) are not regarded by the Lord. This climax of the accusations is followed by positive admonitions for reversing the evil situation. #Prv 1:28; Sir 34:25–31.
16Wash yourselves clean!
Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes;
cease doing evil;
17learn to do good.
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.#Ex 23:6; Dt 24:17; Sir 4:9–10; Jer 22:3; Ez 22:7; Am 5:14–15; Zec 7:9–10.
18Come now, let us set things right,#Let us set things right: the Hebrew word refers to the arbitration of legal disputes (Jb 23:7). God offers to settle his case with Israel on the basis of the change of behavior demanded above. For Israel it is a life or death choice; life in conformity with God’s will or death for continued disobedience.
says the Lord:
Though your sins be like scarlet,
they may become white as snow;
Though they be red like crimson,
they may become white as wool.#Ps 51:9.
19If you are willing, and obey,
you shall eat the good things of the land;
20But if you refuse and resist,
you shall be eaten by the sword:
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken!
The Purification of Jerusalem
21How she has become a prostitute,
the faithful city,#Faithful city: the phrase, found in v. 21 and v. 28, forms an inclusio which marks off the passage and also suggests three chronological periods: the city’s former ideal state, its present wicked condition (described in vv. 21b–23), and the future ideal conditions intended by God. This will be brought about by a purging judgment directed primarily against the leaders (“judges…counselors”). so upright!
Justice used to lodge within her,
but now, murderers.#Jer 3:8; Hos 2:7.
22Your silver is turned to dross,
your wine is mixed with water.
23Your princes are rebels
and comrades of thieves;
Each one of them loves a bribe
and looks for gifts.
The fatherless they do not defend,
the widow’s plea does not reach them.#Ex 23:8; Dt 16:19.
24Now, therefore, says the Lord,
the Lord of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel:
Ah! I will take vengeance on my foes
and fully repay my enemies!#Dt 32:41.
25I will turn my hand against you,
and refine your dross in the furnace,
removing all your alloy.
26I will restore your judges#Judges: the reference must be to royal judges appointed by David and his successors, not to the tribal judges of the Book of Judges, since the “beginning” of Jerusalem as an Israelite city dates only to the time of David. The Davidic era is idealized here; obtaining justice in the historical Jerusalem of David’s time was more problematic (see 2 Sm 15:1–6). as at first,
and your counselors as in the beginning;
After that you shall be called
city of justice, faithful city.#Jer 33:7–11; Zec 8:8.
27#These verses expand the oracle that originally ended at v. 26. The expansion correctly interprets the preceding text as proclaiming a purifying judgment on Zion in which the righteous are saved while the wicked perish. The meaning of “by justice” and “by righteousness” is ambiguous. Do these terms refer to God’s judgment or to the justice and righteousness of Zion’s surviving inhabitants? Is 33:14–16 suggests the latter interpretation. Zion shall be redeemed by justice,
and her repentant ones by righteousness.
28Rebels and sinners together shall be crushed,
those who desert the Lord shall be consumed.
Judgment on the Sacred Groves
29#These verses were secondarily inserted here on the catchword principle; like v. 28 they pronounce judgment on certain parties “together” (v. 31). The terebinths and gardens refer to the sacred groves or asherahs that functioned as idolatrous cultic symbols at the popular shrines or high places (1 Kgs 14:23; 2 Kgs 17:10). Hezekiah cut down these groves during his reform (2 Kgs 18:4); they were a religious issue during Isaiah’s ministry (cf. Is 17:7–11). Isaiah threatens those who cultivate these symbols with the same fate that befalls trees when deprived of water. You shall be ashamed of the terebinths which you desired,
and blush on account of the gardens which you chose.
30You shall become like a terebinth whose leaves wither,
like a garden that has no water.
31The strong tree shall turn to tinder,
and the one who tends it shall become a spark;
Both of them shall burn together,
and there shall be none to quench them.

Isaiah 1

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1The vision#Pr 29:18; Dn 8:1; Ob 1; Nah 1:1; Hab 2:2–3 concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah#Is 2:1; 13:1 son of Amoz saw during the reigns#1:1 ca 792–686 BC of Kings Uzziah,#2Ch 26:3–5 Jotham,#2Kg 15:32–38 Ahaz,#2Kg 16:1–4 and Hezekiah#2Kg 18:1–8 of Judah.#Hs 1:1; Mc 1:1
Judah on Trial
2Listen, heavens, and pay attention, earth,#Dt 4:26; 32:1; Is 30:1; Mc 1:2
for the Lord has spoken:
“I have raised children#1:2 Or sons, also in v. 4 and brought them up,
but they have rebelled against me.#Is 30:1
3The ox knows its owner,
and the donkey its master’s feeding trough,
but Israel does not know;
my people do not understand.”#Jr 8:7
4Oh sinful nation,
people weighed down with iniquity,#Is 13:11
brood of evildoers,#Is 14:20; Mt 3:7
depraved children!
They have abandoned#Dt 4:31 the Lord;
they have despised#Nm 14:11; Dt 31:20; Pr 5:12; Is 5:24 the Holy One of Israel;#Is 5:19,24; 10:20; 12:6; 29:19; 30:11–15
they have turned their backs on him.
5Why do you want more beatings?
Why do you keep on rebelling?
The whole head is hurt,
and the whole heart is sick.
6From the sole of the foot even to the head,#Jb 2:7
no spot is uninjured#Ps 38:3  —
wounds, welts, and festering sores
not cleansed, bandaged,
or soothed with oil.
7Your land is desolate,
your cities burned down;#Lv 26:33; Dt 28:51–52; Is 6:11–12; Jr 44:6
foreigners devour your fields
right in front of you —
a desolation, like a place demolished by foreigners.
8Daughter Zion#Is 10:32; 37:22; Zch 2:10; 9:9 is abandoned
like a shelter in a vineyard,
like a shack in a cucumber field,
like a besieged city.
9If the Lord of Armies#1Sm 17:45
had not left us a few survivors,#Is 10:21–22
we would be like Sodom,
we would resemble Gomorrah.#Gn 19:24–25; Is 3:9; 13:19; Rm 9:29
10Hear the word of the Lord,#Is 28:14
you rulers of Sodom!
Listen to the instruction of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!#Is 3:9; Ezk 16:46–49,55; Rv 11:8
11“What are all your sacrifices to me?”
asks the Lord.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings and rams
and the fat of well-fed cattle;
I have no desire for the blood of bulls,
lambs, or male goats.#1Sm 15:22; Jr 6:20; Hs 6:6; Am 5:21–24; Mt 23:23; Mk 12:33
12When you come to appear before me,
who requires this from you —
this trampling of my courts?
13Stop bringing useless offerings.#Mal 1:10
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons and Sabbaths,#Nm 28:11; 1Ch 23:31
and the calling of solemn assemblies#Ex 12:16; Lv 23:36  —
I cannot stand iniquity#Is 13:11 with a festival.
14I hate your New Moons and prescribed festivals.
They have become a burden to me;
I am tired of putting up with them.
15When you spread out your hands in prayer,#1Kg 8:22
I will refuse to look at you;
even if you offer countless prayers,
I will not listen.#Is 59:2; Jr 7:16; Ezk 8:18; Am 5:23; Hab 1:2; Zch 7:13
Your hands are covered with blood.#Pr 1:28; Is 59:1–3; Mc 3:4
Purification of Jerusalem
16“Wash yourselves. Cleanse yourselves.#Ps 26:6; Is 4:4; 52:11
Remove your evil deeds from my sight.
Stop doing evil.#Jr 25:5
17Learn to do what is good.
Pursue justice.#Dt 16:20; 1Kg 3:11; Ps 89:14; Is 10:2; 11:4; Am 5:15; Zch 7:9
Correct the oppressor.#1:17 Or Aid the oppressed
Defend the rights of the fatherless.
Plead the widow’s cause.
18“Come, let’s settle this,”#Is 41:1,21; 43:26; Mc 6:2
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are scarlet,
they will be as white as snow;#Ps 51:7; Is 43:25; 44:22; Rv 7:14
though they are crimson red,
they will be like wool.
19If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the good things of the land.#Dt 30:15–20
20But if you refuse and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”#Jr 12:12
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.#Is 24:3; 40:5; 58:14; Mc 4:4
21The faithful town —
what an adulteress#1:21 Or prostitute she has become!
She was once full of justice.
Righteousness once dwelt in her,
but now, murderers!
22Your silver has become dross to be discarded,
your beer#1:22 Or wine is diluted with water.
23Your rulers are rebels,
friends of thieves.#Hs 5:10
They all love graft
and chase after bribes.#Ex 23:8; Mc 7:2–6
They do not defend the rights of the fatherless,
and the widow’s case never comes before them.#Ex 22:22; Dt 24:17; Is 10:2; Jr 5:28; Ezk 22:7; Zch 7:10
24Therefore the Lord God of Armies,
the Mighty One of Israel, declares:
“Ah, I will get even with my foes;
I will take revenge against my enemies.#Is 35:4; 59:18; Jr 46:10
25I will turn my hand against you#Ps 81:14; Is 5:25; Am 1:8
and will burn away your dross completely;#1:25 Lit dross as with lye
I will remove all your impurities.#Ezk 22:20; Mal 3:3
26I will restore your judges#Is 60:17; Mt 19:28 to what they were at first,
and your advisers to what they were at the start.
Afterward you will be called the Righteous City,#Is 33:5; 60:14; 62:1–2; Zch 8:3
a Faithful Town.”
27Zion will be redeemed by justice,
those who repent, by righteousness.#Rm 3:26
28At the same time both rebels and sinners will be broken,
and those who abandon the Lord will perish.
29Indeed, they#1:29 Some Hb mss; other Hb mss, Tg read you will be ashamed of the sacred trees
you desired,#Is 2:8; 57:5; Hs 4:13
and you will be embarrassed because of the garden shrines
you have chosen.#Is 65:3; 66:17
30For you will become like an oak
whose leaves are withered,
and like a garden without water.#Ps 1:3; Is 64:6
31The strong one will become tinder,
and his work a spark;
both will burn together,#Is 5:24; 9:19; 26:11; 33:11–14
with no one to extinguish the flames.#Is 66:24; Mt 3:12; Mk 9:43