Oracle on the Futility of an Alliance with Egypt*
1Ah! Rebellious children,
oracle of the LORD,
Who carry out a plan that is not mine,
who make an alliance* I did not inspire,
thus adding sin upon sin;a
2They go down to Egypt,
without asking my counsel,*
To seek strength in Pharaoh’s protection
and take refuge in Egypt’s shadow.b
3Pharaoh’s protection shall become your shame,
refuge in Egypt’s shadow your disgrace.c
4When his princes are at Zoan
and his messengers reach Hanes,d
5All shall be ashamed
of a people that gain them nothing,
Neither help nor benefit,
but only shame and reproach.e
6Oracle on the Beasts of the Negeb.
Through the distressed and troubled land*
of the lioness and roaring lion,
of the viper and flying saraph,
They carry their riches on the backs of donkeys
and their treasures on the humps of camels
To a people good for nothing,
7to Egypt whose help is futile and vain.
Therefore I call her
8* Now come, write it on a tablet they can keep,
inscribe it on a scroll;
That in time to come it may be
an eternal witness.f
9For this is a rebellious people,
Children who refuse
to listen to the instruction of the LORD;g
10Who say to the seers, “Do not see”;
to the prophets,* “Do not prophesy truth for us;
speak smooth things to us, see visions that deceive!h
11Turn aside from the way! Get out of the path!
Let us hear no more
of the Holy One of Israel!”i
12Therefore, thus says the Holy One of Israel:
Because you reject this word,
And put your trust in oppression and deceit,
and depend on them,j
13This iniquity of yours shall be
like a descending rift
Bulging out in a high wall
whose crash comes suddenly, in an instant,k
14Crashing like a potter’s jar
smashed beyond rescue,
And among its fragments cannot be found
a sherd to scoop fire from the hearth
or dip water from the cistern.l
15For thus said the Lord GOD,
the Holy One of Israel:
By waiting and by calm you shall be saved,
in quiet and in trust shall be your strength.
But this you did not will.m
16“No,” you said,
“Upon horses we will flee.”
Very well, you shall flee!
“Upon swift steeds we will ride.”
Very well, swift shall be your pursuers!n
17A thousand shall tremble at the threat of one—
if five threaten, you shall flee.
You will then be left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
like a flag on a hill.o
Zion’s Future Deliverance
18Truly, the LORD is waiting to be gracious to you,
truly, he shall rise to show you mercy;
For the LORD is a God of justice:
happy are all who wait for him!p
19Yes, people of Zion, dwelling in Jerusalem,
you shall no longer weep;
He will be most gracious to you when you cry out;
as soon as he hears he will answer you.q
20The Lord will give you bread in adversity
and water in affliction.
No longer will your Teacher* hide himself,
but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher,r
21And your ears shall hear a word behind you:
“This is the way; walk in it,”
when you would turn to the right or the left.
22You shall defile your silver-plated idols
and your gold-covered images;
You shall throw them away like filthy rags,
you shall say, “Get out!”s
23He will give rain for the seed
you sow in the ground,
And the bread that the soil produces
will be rich and abundant.
On that day your cattle will graze
in broad meadows;t
24The oxen and the donkeys that till the ground
will eat silage tossed to them
with shovel and pitchfork.
25Upon every high mountain and lofty hill
there will be streams of running water.
On the day of the great slaughter,
when the towers fall,
26The light of the moon will be like the light of the sun,
and the light of the sun will be seven times greater,
like the light of seven days,
On the day the LORD binds up the wounds of his people
and heals the bruises left by his blows.u
Divine Judgment on Assyria*
27See, the name of the LORD is coming from afar,
burning with anger, heavy with threat,
His lips filled with fury,
tongue like a consuming fire,v
28Breath like an overflowing torrent
that reaches up to the neck!
He will winnow the nations with a destructive winnowing
and bridle the jaws of the peoples to send them astray.w
29For you, there will be singing
as on a night when a feast is observed,
And joy of heart
as when one marches along with a flute
Going to the mountain of the LORD,
to the Rock of Israel.
30The LORD will make his glorious voice heard,
and reveal his arm coming down
In raging fury and flame of consuming fire,
in tempest, and rainstorm, and hail.x
31For at the voice of the LORD, Assyria will be shattered,
as he strikes with the rod;
32And every sweep of the rod of his punishment,
which the LORD will bring down on him,
Will be accompanied by timbrels and lyres,
while he wages war against him.y
33For his tophet* has long been ready,
truly it is prepared for the king;
His firepit made both deep and wide,
with fire and firewood in abundance,
And the breath of the LORD, like a stream of sulfur,
setting it afire.z
* [30:1–17] Several independent oracles against making an alliance with Egypt have been strung together in this chapter: vv. 1–5, vv. 6–7, and vv. 8–17. That these were originally separate oracles is indicated by the fact that the oracle in vv. 6–7 is still introduced by its own heading: Oracle on the Beasts of the Negeb.
* [30:1] Make an alliance: lit., “pour out a libation,” namely, as part of the ritual of treaty making.
* [30:2] Without asking my counsel: it was a practice to consult God through the prophets or through the priestly oracle before making a major political decision (1 Sm 23:1–12; 1 Kgs 22:5), but Judah’s leadership, in its concern for security, was apparently trying to keep its plan for a treaty with Egypt secret even from the prophets, thus implicitly from God (29:15).
* [30:6] Distressed…land: the wilderness between Judah and Egypt, through which Judahite messengers had to pass, carrying their tribute to Egypt to buy assistance in the struggle against Assyria. Flying saraph: see notes on 6:2; 14:29.
* [30:7] Here as elsewhere (cf. Ps 87:4) Egypt is compared to Rahab, the raging, destructive sea monster (cf. Is 51:9; Jb 26:12; Ps 89:11); yet Egypt, when asked for aid by Judah, becomes silent and “sits still.”
* [30:10] Seers…prophets: the two terms are synonyms for prophetic figures such as Isaiah (1:1; 2:1; 6:1, 5). There is wordplay between the nouns and their cognate verbs, both of which mean “to see.” The authorities are depicted as forbidding prophets to contradict their secret political and military policies.
* [30:20] Teacher: God, who in the past made the people blind and deaf through the prophetic message (6:9–10) and who in his anger hid his face from the house of Jacob (8:17), shall in the future help them to understand his teaching clearly (cf. Jer 31:34).
* [30:33] Tophet: a site, near Jerusalem, where children were sacrificed by fire to Molech (2 Kgs 23:10), and where, probably, Ahaz sacrificed his son (2 Kgs 16:3). Here, Isaiah speaks of “his tophet,” the site prepared for burning up the king of Assyria. King: there seems to be a play on words between the Heb. word for king (melek) and the name Molech. This defeat of Assyria becomes the occasion for Israel’s festal rejoicing (v. 32).