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Isaiah 32

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Glorious Future A Reign of Righteousness  The Coming Age of Justice A King With Integrity A Good King
32:1-8
(1-8)
32:1-8
(1-4)
32:1-8
(1-8)
32:1-8 32:1-5
(1-5)
   (5-8)     Niggard and Noble
  Consequences of Complacency Against the Complacency of Judah's Women Judgment and Restoration 32:6-8
(6-8)
        Against the Women of Jerusalem
32:9-20
(9-20)
32:9-15
(9-11)
(12-15)
32:9-14
(9-14)
32:9-14 32:9-14
(9)
(10)
(11)
(12-13)
(14)
    The Age of the Spirit Will See the Transformation of All Creation   Outpouring of the Spirit
  The Peace of God's Reign 32:15-20
(15-20)
32:15-20 32:15-20
(15-17)
  32:16-20
(16-19)
     
         (18-20)
   (20)      

READING CYCLE THREE (see introduction

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. Chapters 31-32 are the fifth of the six woes (28:1; 29:1,15; 30:1; 31:1; 33:1) which deal with Hezekiah's attempt to form a political military alliance with the Nubian Pharaoh of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty of Egypt.

 

B. Judah trusted in Egypt, but not YHWH, for protection. Isaiah saw this as a violation of trust/faith in His covenant promises and presence.

 

C. This chapter focuses on the future government of a Righteous King in Jerusalem (cf. v. 1; 9:6-7; 11:1-5; Micah 5:2-5a). This was what Hezekiah should have been. He came close in his faith, seen in 37:14-20,30.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED)TEXT: 32:1-8
1Behold, a king will reign righteously
And princes will rule justly.
2Each will be like a refuge from the wind
And a shelter from the storm,  
Like streams of water in a dry country,
Like the shade of a huge rock in a parched land.
3Then the eyes of those who see will not be blinded,
And the ears of those who hear will listen.
4The mind of the hasty will discern the truth,
And the tongue of the stammerers will hasten to speak clearly.
5No longer will the fool be called noble,
Or the rogue be spoken of as generous.
6For a fool speaks nonsense,
And his heart inclines toward wickedness:
To practice ungodliness and to speak error against the Lord,
To keep the hungry person unsatisfied
And to withhold drink from the thirsty.
7As for a rogue, his weapons are evil;
He devises wicked schemes
To destroy the afflicted with slander,
Even though the needy one speaks what is right.
8But the noble man devises noble plans;
And by noble plans he stands.

32:1 "a king. . .princes" Verses 1-8 reflect the reign of a godly king and his/His government (cf. 9:6-7; 11:1-5; 16:5; Micah 5:2-5a). There seems to be a purposeful ambiguity so that Hezekiah (possibly the immediate fulfillment of 7:14-15) and the coming Messiah (the ultimate fulfillment cf. 7:14, cf. Matt. 1:23) are both reflected in this passage.

32:2 This verse describes in "desert" metaphors the reign of this godly leader and his associates.

1. a refuge (BDB 285, lit. "hiding place," this form is found only here) from the wind

2. shelter (BDB 712) from the storm (parallel to #1)

3. streams of water in a dry country

4. the shade (BDB 853) of a huge rock in a parched land

Similar metaphors are used of YHWH in 25:4. Now they describe all of God's people or at least the leadership (i.e., "rulers will rule," verb, BDB 979, KB 1362, Qal imperfect).

The verb "each will be" (BDB 224, KB 243 Qal perfect) could refer to "the princes" of v. 1 or to the people of the "new covenant" described in Jer. 31:31-34.

32:3-4 This reflects the spiritual condition of the restored covenant people as contrasted with 6:9-10 (cf. Deut. 29:4).

1. they will see

2. they will hear

3. they will discern truth

4. they will speak truth ("the stammerers," BDB 748, occurs only here)

 

32:5-8 "fool. . .rogue" These two groups will still be present in society, but they will be seen for what they are (v. 6-7). Verses 6-7 seem to describe the two wicked persons, while v. 8 describes the "true" noble person.

1. the "fool" (BDB 614) described in v. 6

a. speaks nonsense

b. inclines the heart toward wickedness

(1) practices ungodliness

(2) speaks error against the Lord

c. does not feed the hungry

d. does not give drink to the thirsty

2. the "rogue" (BDB 647, found only here, twice) described in v. 7

a. has evil weapons

b. devises wicked schemes

c. destroys the afflicted with slander

d. disregards the true testimony of the needy

3. the noble man (BDB 622), v. 8

a. devises noble (or "generous") plans in contrast to those mentioned in vv. 6 and 7

b. his plans stand, remain

 

NASB (UPDATED)TEXT: 32:9-20
9Rise up, you women who are at ease,
And hear my voice;
Give ear to my word,
You complacent daughters.
10Within a year and a few days
You will be troubled, O complacent daughters;
For the vintage is ended,
And the fruit gathering will not come.
11Tremble, you women who are at ease;
Be troubled, you complacent daughters;
Strip, undress and put sackcloth on your waist,
12Beat your breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine,
13For the land of my people in which thorns and briars shall come up;
Yea, for all the joyful houses and for the jubilant city.
14Because the palace has been abandoned, the populated city forsaken.
Hill and watch-tower have become caves forever,
A delight for wild donkeys, a pasture for flocks;
15Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high,
And the wilderness becomes a fertile field,
And the fertile field is considered as a forest.
16Then justice will dwell in the wilderness
And righteousness will abide in the fertile field.
17And the work of righteousness will be peace,
And the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever.
18Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation,
And in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places;
19And it will hail when the forest comes down,
And the city will be utterly laid low.
20How blessed will you be, you who sow beside all waters,
Who let out freely the ox and the donkey.

32:9-12 This strophe speaks of the rich, wealthy society women of Jerusalem (cf 3:16-4:1). Notice how they are addressed.

1. rise up you women who are at ease, v. 9, BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal imperative. The same verb was used in the previous verse in the sense of "stand" or "remain," but here it means "stand up" when I the Lord (or His prophet) address you.

2. hear my voice, v. 9, BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperative

3. give an ear to my word, v. 9, BDB 24, KB 27, Hiphil imperative (cf. 28:23). Notice how the second and third verbs are parallel, as are the descriptive phrases "women who are at ease," (cf. v. 11) and "you complacent daughters," and again in vv. 10,11.

4. you will be troubled, v. 10, BDB 919, KB 1182, Qal imperfect. This term denotes "agitation," "shaking," "being perturbed." Note the "time" elements in v. 10.

a. within a year and a few days 

b. time of the vintage is ended

c. the fruit gathering will not come

5. tremble, v. 11, BDB 353, KB 350, Qal imperative, cf. 10:29; 19:16; 41:5. This is parallel to "troubled" in v. 10 (surprisingly all the imperatives of v. 11 are masculine, but addressed to women).

6. be troubled, v. 11, BDB 919, KB 1182, Qal imperative, same verb as v. 10

7. strip, v. 11, BDB 832 II, KB 980, Qal imperative. This could be a sign of (1) mourning (cf. Ezek. 26:16) or (2) humiliation (cf. Hos. 2:5).

8. undress, v. 11, BDB 792, KB 889, Qal imperative

9. put sackcloth on your waist, v. 11, BDB 291, KB 291, Qal imperative, also a sign of mourning. See Special Topic at 15:2-3.

10. beat your breasts, v. 12, BDB 704, KB 763, Qal active participle, another sign of mourning, Luke 18:13; 23:48.

All of these relate to the period of the siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib in 701 b.c. Sieges were horrible experiences of deprivation and disease.

32:9,10,11

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV"complacent daughters"
NJB"over-confident daughters"
REB"daughters without a care"
LXX"daughters of hope"
JPSOA"confident ladies"

The Hebrew term (BDB 105, KB 120) normally means "security" or "confidence," though some scholars see another root (BDB 105 II, KB 121) meaning "fall to the ground" (NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 649).

This term also occurs in 32:17 and is translated "confidence" or "security" (NASB margin). These wealthy, elite women were over-confident (NJB).

32:10 "Within a year and a few days" This is a very specific time reference (possibly connected to the harvest season) and seems to relate to the invasion of Sennacherib in 701 b.c.

32:12 "Beat your breasts" There are two ways to deal with this phrase.

1. relate it to the stripped and bare-breasted women of v. 11

2. change the Hebrew "breast" (rare poetic term, BDB 994, שׁד) to "fields" (BDB 961, שדי, cf. 56:9), as JPSOA lists in a footnote. If option #2 is followed, then "fields," "the pleasant fields," and "the fruitful vine" become parallel for the loss of agricultural abundance.

3. see it as an idiom for mourning whether male or female (Peshitta)

 

32:13 "the joyful houses" This same term "joyful" (BDB 965) is used in v. 14 for "a delight for wild donkeys." Isaiah uses

1. doubling

2. word plays

3. repeated metaphors

to communicate his messages. The Hebrew text of Isaiah is far more dynamic and artistic than in translation. He was a master poet. One wonders if YHWH communicated the messages in poetry or Isaiah crafted them. Since all of YHWH's revelations are not in artistic poetry, it seems this was Isaiah's skill. Many of the word choices in Isaiah have far more to do with sound plays than lexical meaning. Rare words are used, as are unique meanings to common words. This is where the ambiguity for modern interpreters is exacerbated!

▣ "the jubilant city" See note at 24:10 and the chart at the introduction to chapter 26, D. God wanted to uniquely bless the people of the covenant to attract the attention of "the nations," but because of Israel and Judah's rebellion, instead of abundance and peace came thorns and briars (cf. 5:6; 7:23-25; 9:18; 10:17; 27:4; Gen. 3:18).

32:14 This verse describes the destruction of Jerusalem (cf. 6:11; 64:10), which is unusual for Isaiah who usually sees its deliverance (cf. 1:8-9; 8:8; 29:1-8; 37:36-37). Isaiah asserts Jerusalem's sanctity because of YHWH's presence there (i.e., the temple), but later Jeremiah clearly adds to this theological issue by focusing on the conditional nature of YHWH's promises to His covenant people (i.e., Deuteronomy 27-28). Isaiah trusts God's word, but His promises must be matched by appropriate human faith and obedience. Covenant is a two-way street!

Notice how the destruction is characterized.

1. the palace has been abandoned (i.e., the Davidic seed forsaken)

2. the populated city has been forsaken (i.e., the Abrahamic seed forsaken)

3. NASB, "hill"

NJB "Ophel" (BDB 779), a section of the southeastern ridge of ancient Jerusalem (or a metaphor for the whole city, similar to "Zion"). It is mentioned in II Chr. 27:3; 33:14; Neh. 3:26-27; 11:21

4. #3 is parallel to "watch-tower"; both would denote the fortifications of Jerusalem being destroyed

5. a delight for wild donkeys

6. a pasture for flocks, both #5 and #6 denote a deserted, destroyed city, inhabited only by animals (cf. 13:21; 34:13)

There are two parallel verbs.

1. has been abandoned, BDB 643, KB 695, Pual perfect, the Pual occurs only here

2. forsaken, BDB 736, KB 806, Qal passive (or Pual) perfect, cf. Jer. 49:25

 

NASB"caves"
NKJV"lairs"
NRSV"dens"
NJB"the Keep"

The term (BDB 792) means "cave," but in this context, "an animal's den." It is possible that Isaiah chose this term because of its sound similarity to

1. "sepulcher" (Arabic root), ערר (context of death and destruction)

2.  "strip oneself," ערר, rare verb used in v. 11

3. "bare field," מערה from Arabic root (NIDOTTE, vol. 2, p. 1034)

 

"forever" This is the relative use of the Hebrew term 'olam. This term has a large semantical usage and must be interpreted in context.

SPECIAL TOPIC: FOREVER ('OLAM)

32:15-20 This strophe describes a new day, a righteous day for Jerusalem.

1. The Spirit is poured out from God. The exact relationship between YHWH and "the Spirit" in the OT is difficult to relate to the full personal revelation of the NT. The Spirit is often associated with creation (cf. Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13; Ps. 104:29-30; 147:14-18). With a new creation! For your information, I have included in this verse my NT Special Topic on "The Personhood of the Spirit."

 

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE PERSONHOOD OF THE SPIRIT

2. The wilderness becomes a fertile field. . .a forest, v. 15. This is the reversal of vv. 12-13. See the same metaphor of fertility in 29:17.

3. Justice. . .righteousness abide, v. 16

4. Peace, quietness, and confidence forever, v. 17. This means no invasions (cf. v. 18).

5. Verse 19 may refer to the destruction of Assyria.

6. Verse 20 is another blessing, but it is somewhat ambiguous.

 

32:15

NASB, NKJV,
NIV"Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high"
NRSV, JPSOA "until a spirit from on high is poured out on us"
TEV"God will send us his spirit"
NJB"until the spirit is poured out on us from above"
REB"until a spirit from on high is lavished upon us"

The Hebrew text has no article, pronoun, or descriptive phrase (i.e., "of the Lord," as in 11:2 or "My," 44:3; 59:21; Joel 2:28) linked to the noun "spirit" (BDB 924). The question is to whom does it refer.

1. the spirit of the new age

2. the Holy Spirit

3. a spirit of repentance and trust from God

Grammar suggests #1 or #3, but context suggests #2.

This is a radical break in the context. Similar passages which speak of God's Spirit are Isa. 44:3; Ezek. 39:29; Joel 2:28-29; Zech. 12:10; Acts 2:1-21. The same verb is used in a sacrificial sense of the Messiah in Isa. 53:12. There is a series of seven blessings that will result because of the Spirit's presence: (1) fertility, (2) justice, (3) righteousness, (4) peace, (5) quietness, (6) confidence, and (7) secure dwelling.

▣ "from on high" This is an idiom for "heaven," the place of YHWH's abode (cf. Job 16:19; 31:2; Isa. 33:5).

32:16 "justice. . .righteousness" These are a common pair in the OT (cf. II Sam. 8:15; I Kgs. 10:9; I Chr. 18:14; II Chr. 9:8; Ps. 99:4; Isa. 9:7; 32:16; 33:5; 59:14; Jer. 4:2; 9:24; 22:3,15; 23:5; 33:15; Ezek. 18:5,19, 21,27; 33:14,16,19; 45:9; Amos 5:7,24). They denote the kind of society (cf. vv. 17-18) where all people are honored and treated fairly as covenant partners. They then characterize the unique presence of God among His people.

32:17 "peace" See Special Topic following.

SPECIAL TOPIC: PEACE (SHALOM)

▣ "quietness and confidence" These two terms (BDB 1052 and BDB 105) also occur in 30:15, which characterizes the new age of justice, righteousness, and peace (cf. vv. 1,16).

32:19 This is a very difficult verse which seems out of place. It may refer to Assyria. The phrase "the forest" is used of Assyria in 10:18-19,33,34. The phrase "the city" is used of Assyria in 24:10; 25:2,3; 26:5.

NASB"it will hail"
NKJV"though hail"
NRSV"will disappear completely"
TEV"(but hail will fall. . .)"
NJB"be totally destroyed"
LXX"if hail descends"
Peshitta"hail shall come down"
REB"it will be cool on the slopes"
JPSOA"shall sink and vanish"

The ancient versions see the MT's וברד (unknown form) as ברד, BDB 135, "hail," cf. noun in 28:2,17.

REB sees it as coming from the same root in Arabic meaning "become cool" (BDB 135).

The NJB and JPSOA see the MT's first two words as being from the same verbal root, דרי,

1. Qal perfect

2. Qal infinitive construct

denoting a total and complete destruction ("descent").

32:20 This verse is also very difficult to fit into the context. However, the consensus seems to be that in the days of God's blessings, the crops will be so abundant that the cattle could roam freely and eat without really affecting the outcome of the crop.