New English Translation
7 Has the Lord struck down Israel as he did their oppressors?[a]
Has Israel been killed like their enemies?[b]
8 When you summon her for divorce, you prosecute her;[c]
he drives her away[d] with his strong wind in the day of the east wind.[e]
9 So in this way Jacob’s sin will be forgiven,[f]
and this is how they will show they are finished sinning:[g]
They will make all the stones of the altars[h]
like crushed limestone,
and the Asherah poles and the incense altars will no longer stand.[i]
- Isaiah 27:7 tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “Like the striking down of the one striking him down does he strike him down?” The meaning of the text is unclear, but this may be a rhetorical question, suggesting that Israel has not experienced divine judgment to the same degree as her oppressors. In this case “the one striking…down” refers to Israel’s oppressors, while the pronoun “him” refers to Israel. The subject of the final verb (“does he strike…down”) would then be God, while the pronoun “him” would again refer to Israel.
- Isaiah 27:7 tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “Or like the killing of his killed ones is he killed?” If one accepts the interpretation of the parallel line outlined in the previous note, then this line too would contain a rhetorical question suggesting that Israel has not experienced destruction to the same degree as its enemies. In this case “his killed ones” refer to the ones who struck Israel down, and Israel would be the subject of the final verb (“is he killed”).
- Isaiah 27:8 tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “in [?], in sending her away, you oppose her.” The meaning of this line is uncertain. The form בְּסַאסְּאָה (besasseʾah) is taken as an infinitive from סַאסְּאָה (sasseʾah) with a prepositional prefix and a third feminine singular suffix. (The MT does not have a mappiq in the final he [ה], however). According to HALOT 738 s.v. סַאסְּאָה the verb is a Palpel form from an otherwise unattested root cognate with an Arabic verb meaning “to gather beasts with a call.” Perhaps it means “to call, summon” here, but this is a very tentative proposal. בְּשַׁלְחָהּ (beshalekhah, “in sending her away”) appears to be a Piel infinitive with a prepositional prefix and a third feminine singular suffix. Since the Piel of שָׁלָח (shalakh) can sometimes mean “divorce” (HALOT 1514-15 s.v.) and the following verb רִיב (riv, “oppose”) can be used in legal contexts, it is possible that divorce proceedings are alluded to here. This may explain why Israel is referred to as feminine in this verse, in contrast to the masculine forms used in vv. 6-7 and 9.
- Isaiah 27:8 tn The Hebrew text has no object expressed, but one can understand a third feminine singular pronominal object and place a mappiq in the final he (ה) of the form to indicate the suffix.
- Isaiah 27:8 sn The “east wind” here symbolizes violent divine judgment.
- Isaiah 27:9 tn Or “be atoned for” (NIV); cf. NRSV “be expiated.”
- Isaiah 27:9 tn Heb “and this [is] all the fruit of removing his sin.” The meaning of the statement is not entirely clear, though “removing his sin” certainly parallels “Jacob’s sin will be removed” in the preceding line. If original, “all the fruit” may refer to the result of the decision to remove sin, but the phrase may be a textual variation of an original לְכַפֵּר (lekhapper, “to atone for”), which in turn might be a gloss on הָסִר (hasir, “removing”).
- Isaiah 27:9 tn Heb “when he makes the stones of an altar.” The singular “altar” is collective here; pagan altars are in view, as the last line of the verse indicates. See also 17:8.
- Isaiah 27:9 sn As interpreted and translated above, this verse says that Israel must totally repudiate its pagan religious practices in order to experience God’s forgiveness and restoration. Another option is to understand “in this way” and “this” in v. 9a as referring back to the judgment described in v. 8. In this case כָּפַר (kafar, “atone for”) is used in a sarcastic sense; Jacob’s sin is “atoned for” and removed through severe judgment. Following this line of interpretation, one might paraphrase the verse as follows: “So in this way (through judgment) Jacob’s sin will be “atoned for,” and this is the way his sin will be removed, when he (i.e., God) makes all the altar stones like crushed limestone….” This interpretation is more consistent with the tone of judgment in vv. 8 and 10-11.