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F. The Lord, Zion’s Avenger[a]

Chapter 34

Judgment upon Edom

Come near, nations, and listen;
    be attentive, you peoples!
Let the earth and what fills it listen,
    the world and all it produces.(A)
The Lord is angry with all the nations,
    enraged against all their host;
He has placed them under the ban,
    given them up to slaughter.(B)
Their slain shall be cast out,
    their corpses shall send up a stench;
    the mountains shall run with their blood,(C)
All the host of heaven shall rot;
    the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll.
All their host shall wither away,
    as the leaf wilts on the vine,
    or as the fig withers on the tree.(D)
When my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens,
    it shall come down upon Edom for judgment,
    upon a people under my ban.(E)
The Lord has a sword sated with blood,
    greasy with fat,
With the blood of lambs and goats,
    with the fat of rams’ kidneys;
For the Lord has a sacrifice in Bozrah,
    a great slaughter in the land of Edom.(F)
Wild oxen shall be struck down with fatlings,
    and bullocks with bulls;
Their land shall be soaked with blood,
    and their soil greasy with fat.
[b]For the Lord has a day of vengeance,
    a year of requital for the cause of Zion.(G)
Edom’s streams shall be changed into pitch,
    its soil into sulfur,
    and its land shall become burning pitch;
10 Night and day it shall not be quenched,
    its smoke shall rise forever.
From generation to generation it shall lie waste,
    never again shall anyone pass through it.(H)
11 But the desert owl and hoot owl shall possess it,
    the screech owl and raven shall dwell in it.
The Lord will stretch over it the measuring line of chaos,
    the plumb line of confusion.[c](I)
12 Its nobles shall be no more,
    nor shall kings be proclaimed there;
    all its princes are gone.(J)
13 Its castles shall be overgrown with thorns,
    its fortresses with thistles and briers.
It shall become an abode for jackals,
    a haunt for ostriches.(K)
14 Wildcats shall meet with desert beasts,
    satyrs[d] shall call to one another;
There shall the lilith repose,
    and find for herself a place to rest.
15 There the hoot owl shall nest and lay eggs,
    hatch them out and gather them in her shadow;
There shall the kites assemble,
    each with its mate.
16 Search through the book of the Lord[e] and read:
    not one of these shall be lacking,
For the mouth of the Lord has ordered it,
    and his spirit gathers them there.
17 It is he who casts the lot for them;
    his hand measures off[f] their portions;
They shall possess it forever,
    and dwell in it from generation to generation.(L)

Footnotes

  1. 34:1–35:10 These two chapters form a small collection which looks forward to the vindication of Zion, first by defeat of its enemies (chap. 34), then by its restoration (chap. 35). They are generally judged to be later than the time of Isaiah (eighth century), perhaps during the Babylonian exile or thereafter; they are strongly influenced by Deutero-Isaiah (sixth century). In places they reflect themes from other parts of the Isaian collection.
  2. 34:8–17 The extreme hostility against Edom in this passage is reflected in a number of other prophetic texts from the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. (cf. e.g., 63:1–6; Jer 49:7–22; Ez 25:12–14). The animus was probably prompted by Edomite infiltration of the southern territories of Judah, especially after the Babylonian conquest of Judah.
  3. 34:11 Chaos…confusion: tohu…bohu in Hebrew, the terms used to describe the primeval chaos in Gn 1:2.
  4. 34:14 Satyrs: see note on 13:21. The lilith: a female demon thought to roam about the desert.
  5. 34:16 Book of the Lord: a list of God’s creatures; cf. Ex 32:32–33; Ps 69:29, “the book of the living”; Ps 139:16, “your book.”
  6. 34:17 Casts the lot…measures off: an ironic reference to how land might be distributed to new possessors (cf. Jos 14–21; Mi 2:5).

Judgment Against the Nations

34 Come near, you nations, and listen;(A)
    pay attention, you peoples!(B)
Let the earth(C) hear, and all that is in it,
    the world, and all that comes out of it!(D)
The Lord is angry with all nations;
    his wrath(E) is on all their armies.
He will totally destroy[a](F) them,
    he will give them over to slaughter.(G)
Their slain(H) will be thrown out,
    their dead bodies(I) will stink;(J)
    the mountains will be soaked with their blood.(K)
All the stars in the sky will be dissolved(L)
    and the heavens rolled up(M) like a scroll;
all the starry host will fall(N)
    like withered(O) leaves from the vine,
    like shriveled figs from the fig tree.

My sword(P) has drunk its fill in the heavens;
    see, it descends in judgment on Edom,(Q)
    the people I have totally destroyed.(R)
The sword(S) of the Lord is bathed in blood,
    it is covered with fat—
the blood of lambs and goats,
    fat from the kidneys of rams.
For the Lord has a sacrifice(T) in Bozrah(U)
    and a great slaughter(V) in the land of Edom.
And the wild oxen(W) will fall with them,
    the bull calves and the great bulls.(X)
Their land will be drenched with blood,(Y)
    and the dust will be soaked with fat.

For the Lord has a day(Z) of vengeance,(AA)
    a year of retribution,(AB) to uphold Zion’s cause.
Edom’s streams will be turned into pitch,
    her dust into burning sulfur;(AC)
    her land will become blazing pitch!
10 It will not be quenched(AD) night or day;
    its smoke will rise forever.(AE)
From generation to generation(AF) it will lie desolate;(AG)
    no one will ever pass through it again.
11 The desert owl[b](AH) and screech owl[c] will possess it;
    the great owl[d] and the raven(AI) will nest there.
God will stretch out over Edom(AJ)
    the measuring line of chaos(AK)
    and the plumb line(AL) of desolation.
12 Her nobles will have nothing there to be called a kingdom,
    all her princes(AM) will vanish(AN) away.
13 Thorns(AO) will overrun her citadels,
    nettles and brambles her strongholds.(AP)
She will become a haunt for jackals,(AQ)
    a home for owls.(AR)
14 Desert creatures(AS) will meet with hyenas,(AT)
    and wild goats will bleat to each other;
there the night creatures(AU) will also lie down
    and find for themselves places of rest.
15 The owl will nest there and lay eggs,
    she will hatch them, and care for her young
    under the shadow of her wings;(AV)
there also the falcons(AW) will gather,
    each with its mate.

16 Look in the scroll(AX) of the Lord and read:

None of these will be missing,(AY)
    not one will lack her mate.
For it is his mouth(AZ) that has given the order,(BA)
    and his Spirit will gather them together.
17 He allots their portions;(BB)
    his hand distributes them by measure.
They will possess it forever
    and dwell there from generation to generation.(BC)

Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 34:2 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them; also in verse 5.
  2. Isaiah 34:11 The precise identification of these birds is uncertain.
  3. Isaiah 34:11 The precise identification of these birds is uncertain.
  4. Isaiah 34:11 The precise identification of these birds is uncertain.

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