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Warnings to Israel

28 How terrible it will be for Samaria, the pride of Israel’s drunken people!
    That beautiful crown of flowers is just a dying plant
set on a hill above a rich valley where drunkards live.
Look, the Lord has someone who is strong and powerful.
    Like a storm of hail and strong wind,
like a sudden flood of water pouring over the country,
    he will throw Samaria down to the ground.
That city, the pride of Israel’s drunken people,
    will be trampled underfoot.
That beautiful crown of flowers is just a dying plant
    set on a hill above a rich valley.
That city will be like the first fig of summer.
    Anyone who sees it
    quickly picks it and eats it.

At that time the Lord All-Powerful
    will be like a beautiful crown,
like a wonderful crown of flowers
    for his people who are left alive.
Then he will give wisdom to the judges who must decide cases
    and strength to those who battle at the city gate.
But now those leaders are drunk with wine;
    they stumble from drinking too much beer.
The priests and prophets are drunk with beer
    and are filled with wine.
They stumble from too much beer.
    The prophets are drunk when they see their visions;
    the judges stumble when they make their decisions.
Every table is covered with vomit,
    so there is not a clean place anywhere.

The Lord is trying to teach the people a lesson;
    he is trying to make them understand his teachings.
But the people are like babies too old for breast milk,
    like those who no longer nurse at their mother’s breast.
10 So they make fun of the Lord’s prophet and say:
    “A command here, a command there.
    A rule here, a rule there.
    A little lesson here, a little lesson there.”
11 So the Lord will use strange words and foreign languages
    to speak to these people.
12 God said to them,
“Here is a place of rest;
    let the tired people come and rest.
This is the place of peace.”
    But the people would not listen.
13 So the words of the Lord will be,
“A command here, a command there.
    A rule here, a rule there.
    A little lesson here, a little lesson there.”
They will fall back and be defeated;
    they will be trapped and captured.

14 So listen to the Lord’s message, you who brag,
    you leaders in Jerusalem.
15 You say, “We have made an agreement with death;
    we have a contract with death.
When terrible punishment passes by,
    it won’t hurt us.
Our lies will keep us safe,
    and our tricks will hide us.”

16 Because of these things, this is what the Lord God says:

“I will put a stone in the ground in Jerusalem,
    a tested stone.
Everything will be built on this important and precious rock.
    Anyone who trusts in it will never be disappointed.
17 I will use justice as a measuring line
    and goodness as the standard.
The lies you hide behind will be destroyed as if by hail.
    They will be washed away as if in a flood.
18 Your agreement with death will be erased;
    your contract with death will not help you.
When terrible punishment comes,
    you will be crushed by it.
19 Whenever punishment comes, it will take you away.
    It will come morning after morning;
    it will defeat you by day and by night.
Those who understand this punishment will be terrified.”
20 You will be like the person who tried to sleep
    on a bed that was too short
and with a blanket that was too narrow
    to wrap around himself.
21 The Lord will fight as he did at Mount Perazim.
    He will be angry as he was in the Valley of Gibeon.
He will do his work, his strange work.
    He will finish his job, his strange job.
22 Now, you must not make fun of these things,
    or the ropes around you will become tighter.
The Lord God All-Powerful has told me
    how the whole earth will be destroyed.

The Lord Punishes Fairly

23 Listen closely to what I tell you;
    listen carefully to what I say.
24 A farmer does not plow his field all the time;
    he does not go on working the soil.
25 He makes the ground flat and smooth.
    Then he plants the dill and scatters the cumin.
He plants the wheat in rows,
    the barley in its special place,
    and other wheat as a border around the field.
26 His God teaches him
    and shows him the right way.
27 A farmer doesn’t use heavy boards to crush dill;
    he doesn’t use a wagon wheel to crush cumin.
He uses a small stick to break open the dill,
    and with a stick he opens the cumin.
28 The grain is ground to make bread.
    People do not ruin it by crushing it forever.
The farmer separates the wheat from the chaff with his cart,
    but he does not let his horses grind it.
29 This lesson also comes from the Lord All-Powerful,
    who gives wonderful advice, who is very wise.

Woe to the Leaders of Ephraim and Judah

28 Woe(A) to that wreath, the pride of Ephraim’s(B) drunkards,
    to the fading flower, his glorious beauty,
set on the head of a fertile valley(C)
    to that city, the pride of those laid low by wine!(D)
See, the Lord has one who is powerful(E) and strong.
    Like a hailstorm(F) and a destructive wind,(G)
like a driving rain and a flooding(H) downpour,
    he will throw it forcefully to the ground.
That wreath, the pride of Ephraim’s(I) drunkards,
    will be trampled(J) underfoot.
That fading flower, his glorious beauty,
    set on the head of a fertile valley,(K)
will be like figs(L) ripe before harvest—
    as soon as people see them and take them in hand,
    they swallow them.

In that day(M) the Lord Almighty
    will be a glorious(N) crown,(O)
a beautiful wreath
    for the remnant(P) of his people.
He will be a spirit of justice(Q)
    to the one who sits in judgment,(R)
a source of strength
    to those who turn back the battle(S) at the gate.

And these also stagger(T) from wine(U)
    and reel(V) from beer:
Priests(W) and prophets(X) stagger from beer
    and are befuddled with wine;
they reel from beer,
    they stagger when seeing visions,(Y)
    they stumble when rendering decisions.
All the tables are covered with vomit(Z)
    and there is not a spot without filth.

“Who is it he is trying to teach?(AA)
    To whom is he explaining his message?(AB)
To children weaned(AC) from their milk,(AD)
    to those just taken from the breast?
10 For it is:
    Do this, do that,
    a rule for this, a rule for that[a];
    a little here, a little there.(AE)

11 Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues(AF)
    God will speak to this people,(AG)
12 to whom he said,
    “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”;(AH)
and, “This is the place of repose”—
    but they would not listen.
13 So then, the word of the Lord to them will become:
    Do this, do that,
    a rule for this, a rule for that;
    a little here, a little there(AI)
so that as they go they will fall backward;
    they will be injured(AJ) and snared and captured.(AK)

14 Therefore hear the word of the Lord,(AL) you scoffers(AM)
    who rule this people in Jerusalem.
15 You boast, “We have entered into a covenant with death,(AN)
    with the realm of the dead we have made an agreement.
When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by,(AO)
    it cannot touch us,
for we have made a lie(AP) our refuge
    and falsehood[b] our hiding place.(AQ)

16 So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,(AR) a tested stone,(AS)
    a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;(AT)
the one who relies on it
    will never be stricken with panic.(AU)
17 I will make justice(AV) the measuring line
    and righteousness the plumb line;(AW)
hail(AX) will sweep away your refuge, the lie,
    and water will overflow(AY) your hiding place.
18 Your covenant with death will be annulled;
    your agreement with the realm of the dead will not stand.(AZ)
When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by,(BA)
    you will be beaten down(BB) by it.
19 As often as it comes it will carry you away;(BC)
    morning after morning,(BD) by day and by night,
    it will sweep through.”

The understanding of this message
    will bring sheer terror.(BE)
20 The bed is too short to stretch out on,
    the blanket too narrow to wrap around you.(BF)
21 The Lord will rise up as he did at Mount Perazim,(BG)
    he will rouse himself as in the Valley of Gibeon(BH)
to do his work,(BI) his strange work,
    and perform his task, his alien task.
22 Now stop your mocking,(BJ)
    or your chains will become heavier;
the Lord, the Lord Almighty, has told me
    of the destruction decreed(BK) against the whole land.(BL)

23 Listen(BM) and hear my voice;
    pay attention and hear what I say.
24 When a farmer plows for planting,(BN) does he plow continually?
    Does he keep on breaking up and working the soil?
25 When he has leveled the surface,
    does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin?(BO)
Does he not plant wheat in its place,[c]
    barley(BP) in its plot,[d]
    and spelt(BQ) in its field?
26 His God instructs him
    and teaches(BR) him the right way.

27 Caraway is not threshed(BS) with a sledge,(BT)
    nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin;
caraway is beaten out with a rod,(BU)
    and cumin with a stick.
28 Grain must be ground to make bread;
    so one does not go on threshing it forever.
The wheels of a threshing cart(BV) may be rolled over it,
    but one does not use horses to grind grain.
29 All this also comes from the Lord Almighty,
    whose plan is wonderful,(BW)
    whose wisdom is magnificent.(BX)

Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 28:10 Hebrew / sav lasav sav lasav / kav lakav kav lakav (probably meaningless sounds mimicking the prophet’s words); also in verse 13
  2. Isaiah 28:15 Or false gods
  3. Isaiah 28:25 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
  4. Isaiah 28:25 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.

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