1The people who walked in darkness

have seen a great light;

Upon those who lived in a land of gloom

a light has shone.a

2You have brought them abundant joy

and great rejoicing;

They rejoice before you as people rejoice at harvest,

as they exult when dividing the spoils.

3For the yoke that burdened them,

the pole on their shoulder,

The rod of their taskmaster,

you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.* b

4For every boot that tramped in battle,

every cloak rolled in blood,

will be burned as fuel for fire.c

5For a child* 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.

6His 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*

7The Lord has sent a word against Jacob,

and it falls upon Israel;

8And all the people know it—

Ephraim and those who dwell in Samaria—

those who say in arrogance and pride of heart,

9“Bricks have fallen,

but we will rebuild with cut stone;

Sycamores have been felled,

but we will replace them with cedars.”f

10So the LORD raises up their foes against them

and stirs up their enemies to action—

11Aram* 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!

12The people do not turn back to the one who struck them,

nor do they seek the LORD of hosts.

13So 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

15Those who lead this people lead them astray,

and those who are led are swallowed up.i

16That 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!

17For wickedness burns like fire,

devouring brier and thorn;

It kindles the forest thickets,

which go up in columns of smoke.j

18At the wrath of the LORD of hosts the land quakes,

and the people are like fuel for fire;

no one spares his brother.k

19They hack on the right, but remain hungry;

they devour on the left, but are not filled.

Each devours the flesh of the neighbor;

20Manasseh devours Ephraim,* and Ephraim Manasseh,

together they turn on Judah.

For all this, his wrath is not turned back,

his hand is still outstretched!

* [9:3] Day of Midian: when God used the judge Gideon to deliver these northern territories from Midianite oppression (Jgs 67).

* [9:5] A child: perhaps to be identified with the Emmanuel of 7:14 and 8:8; cf. 11:12, 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).

* [9:720 + 5:2530] 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 9:720 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 4:612; 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 5:2530 fits the pattern found in 9:720 and provides a suitable and possibly original conclusion for the whole oracle.

* [9:11] Aram: the Syrian kingdom, with its capital at Damascus.

* [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, 1416, 25; cf. Hos 7:37).

a. [9:1] Mt 4:1516.

b. [9:3] Is 10:26; Jgs 7:2225.

c. [9:4] Ps 46:10.

d. [9:5] Is 10:21.

e. [9:6] Jer 23:5; Lk 1:3233.

f. [9:9] Mal 1:4.

g. [9:13] Is 19:15; Dt 28:13, 44.

h. [9:14] Is 28:7.

i. [9:15] Is 3:12.

j. [9:17] Is 5:24; 33:1112.

k. [9:18] Is 3:5.

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