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Chapter 9

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
Upon those who lived in a land of gloom
    a light has shone.(A)
You have brought them abundant joy
    and great rejoicing;
They rejoice before you as people rejoice at harvest,
    as they exult when dividing the spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
    the pole on their shoulder,
The rod of their taskmaster,
    you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.[a](B)
For every boot that tramped in battle,
    every cloak rolled in blood,
    will be burned as fuel for fire.(C)
For a child[b] is born to us, a son is given to us;
    upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,(D)
    Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast
    and forever peaceful,
Upon David’s throne, and over his kingdom,
    which he confirms and sustains
By judgment and justice,
    both now and forever.(E)
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this!

Judgment on the Northern Kingdom[c]

The Lord has sent a word against Jacob,
    and it falls upon Israel;
And all the people know it—
    Ephraim and those who dwell in Samaria—
    those who say in arrogance and pride of heart,
“Bricks have fallen,
    but we will rebuild with cut stone;
Sycamores have been felled,
    but we will replace them with cedars.”(F)
10 So the Lord raises up their foes against them
    and stirs up their enemies to action—
11 Aram[d] from the east and the Philistines from the west—
    they devour Israel with open mouth.
For all this, his wrath is not turned back,
    and his hand is still outstretched!
12 The people do not turn back to the one who struck them,
    nor do they seek the Lord of hosts.
13 So the Lord cuts off from Israel head and tail,
    palm branch and reed in one day.(G)
14 (The elder and the noble are the head,
    the prophet who teaches falsehood is the tail.)(H)
15 Those who lead this people lead them astray,
    and those who are led are swallowed up.(I)
16 That is why the Lord does not spare their young men,
    and their orphans and widows he does not pity;
For they are totally impious and wicked,
    and every mouth speaks folly.
For all this, his wrath is not turned back,
    his hand is still outstretched!
17 For wickedness burns like fire,
    devouring brier and thorn;
It kindles the forest thickets,
    which go up in columns of smoke.(J)
18 At the wrath of the Lord of hosts the land quakes,
    and the people are like fuel for fire;
    no one spares his brother.(K)
19 They hack on the right, but remain hungry;
    they devour on the left, but are not filled.
    Each devours the flesh of the neighbor;
20 Manasseh devours Ephraim,[e] and Ephraim Manasseh,
    together they turn on Judah.
For all this, his wrath is not turned back,
    his hand is still outstretched!

Footnotes

  1. 9:3 Day of Midian: when God used the judge Gideon to deliver these northern territories from Midianite oppression (Jgs 6–7).
  2. 9:5 A child: perhaps to be identified with the Emmanuel of 7:14 and 8:8; cf. 11:1–2, 9. This verse may reflect a coronation rather than a birth. Upon his shoulder: the reference may be to a particular act in the ritual in which a symbol of the king’s authority was placed on his shoulder (cf. 2 Kgs 11:12; Is 22:22).
  3. 9:7–20 + 5:25–30 These verses describe a series of judgments God sent against the Northern Kingdom of Israel because of its sins. Despite the judgments, however, Israel continued to rebel, and God’s anger remained unabated, as the recurring refrain emphasizes (9:11, 16, 20). The refrain ties Is 9:7–20 together as a unit, but 9:20 is far too abrupt to be the original conclusion to the oracle. With its series of past judgments and repeated refrain, the oracle resembles Am 4:6–12; by analogy with that model one expects a conclusion in which the prophet turns from the narration of past judgments to the announcement of a future judgment. Is 5:25–30 fits the pattern found in 9:7–20 and provides a suitable and possibly original conclusion for the whole oracle.
  4. 9:11 Aram: the Syrian kingdom, with its capital at Damascus.
  5. 9:20 Manasseh…Ephraim: two of the leading tribes of the Northern Kingdom. The reference is to the civil wars that marked the final decades of the Northern Kingdom (2 Kgs 15:10, 14–16, 25; cf. Hos 7:3–7).

[a]Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom(A) for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,(B) but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—

The people walking in darkness(C)
    have seen a great light;(D)
on those living in the land of deep darkness(E)
    a light has dawned.(F)
You have enlarged the nation(G)
    and increased their joy;(H)
they rejoice before you
    as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
    when dividing the plunder.(I)
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,(J)
    you have shattered(K)
the yoke(L) that burdens them,
    the bar across their shoulders,(M)
    the rod of their oppressor.(N)
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
    and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,(O)
    will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,(P)
    to us a son is given,(Q)
    and the government(R) will be on his shoulders.(S)
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor,(T) Mighty God,(U)
    Everlasting(V) Father,(W) Prince of Peace.(X)
Of the greatness of his government(Y) and peace(Z)
    there will be no end.(AA)
He will reign(AB) on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice(AC) and righteousness(AD)
    from that time on and forever.(AE)
The zeal(AF) of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

The Lord’s Anger Against Israel

The Lord has sent a message(AG) against Jacob;
    it will fall on Israel.
All the people will know it—
    Ephraim(AH) and the inhabitants of Samaria(AI)
who say with pride
    and arrogance(AJ) of heart,
10 “The bricks have fallen down,
    but we will rebuild with dressed stone;(AK)
the fig(AL) trees have been felled,
    but we will replace them with cedars.(AM)
11 But the Lord has strengthened Rezin’s(AN) foes against them
    and has spurred their enemies on.
12 Arameans(AO) from the east and Philistines(AP) from the west
    have devoured(AQ) Israel with open mouth.

Yet for all this, his anger(AR) is not turned away,
    his hand is still upraised.(AS)

13 But the people have not returned(AT) to him who struck(AU) them,
    nor have they sought(AV) the Lord Almighty.
14 So the Lord will cut off from Israel both head and tail,
    both palm branch and reed(AW) in a single day;(AX)
15 the elders(AY) and dignitaries(AZ) are the head,
    the prophets(BA) who teach lies(BB) are the tail.
16 Those who guide(BC) this people mislead them,
    and those who are guided are led astray.(BD)
17 Therefore the Lord will take no pleasure in the young men,(BE)
    nor will he pity(BF) the fatherless and widows,
for everyone is ungodly(BG) and wicked,(BH)
    every mouth speaks folly.(BI)

Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away,
    his hand is still upraised.(BJ)

18 Surely wickedness burns like a fire;(BK)
    it consumes briers and thorns,(BL)
it sets the forest thickets ablaze,(BM)
    so that it rolls upward in a column of smoke.
19 By the wrath(BN) of the Lord Almighty
    the land will be scorched(BO)
and the people will be fuel for the fire;(BP)
    they will not spare one another.(BQ)
20 On the right they will devour,
    but still be hungry;(BR)
on the left they will eat,(BS)
    but not be satisfied.
Each will feed on the flesh of their own offspring[b]:
21     Manasseh will feed on Ephraim, and Ephraim on Manasseh;(BT)
    together they will turn against Judah.(BU)

Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away,
    his hand is still upraised.(BV)

Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 9:1 In Hebrew texts 9:1 is numbered 8:23, and 9:2-21 is numbered 9:1-20.
  2. Isaiah 9:20 Or arm

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