|For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water,
||Even now, the Lord, Jehovah of Hosts,deprives Judea and Jerusalemof both staff and crutch—all food supply and water supply,
||כִּי הִנֵּה הָאָדוֹן יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת מֵסִיר מִירוּשָׁלִַם וּמִיהוּדָה מַשְׁעֵן וּמַשְׁעֵנָה כֹּל מִשְׁעַן־לֶחֶם וְכֹל מִשְׁעַן־מָיִם ׃
|The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient,
||the valiant man and soldier,the magistrate and prophet, the augur and elder,
||כִּי הִנֵּה הָאָדוֹן יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת מֵסִיר מִירוּשָׁלִַם וּמִיהוּדָה מַשְׁעֵן וּמַשְׁעֵנָה כֹּל מִשְׁעַן־לֶחֶם וְכֹל מִשְׁעַן־מָיִם ׃
|The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.
||the officer and dignitary,advisers, skilled craftsmen, and orators.
||שַׂר־חֲמִשִּׁים וּנְשׂוּא פָנִים וְיוֹעֵץ וַחֲכַם חֲרָשִׁים וּנְבוֹן לָחַשׁ ׃
|And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.
||I, Jehovah, will make adolescents their rulers;delinquents will lord it over them.
||וְנָתַתִּי נְעָרִים שָׂרֵיהֶם וְתַעֲלוּלִים יִמְשְׁלוּ־בָם ׃
|And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.
||People will oppress one another,every man his neighbor.The young will be insolent to the elderly,the vile to the honorable.
||וְנִגַּשׂ הָעָם אִישׁ בְּאִישׁ וְאִישׁ בְּרֵעֵהוּ יִרְהֲבוּ הַנַּעַר בַּזָּקֵן וְהַנִּקְלֶה בַּנִּכְבָּד ׃
|When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand:
||Then will a man apprehend a kinsmanof his father’s house, and say,You have a tunic: be our leaderand take charge of this ruination!
||כִּי־יִתְפֹּשׂ אִישׁ בְּאָחִיו בֵּית אָבִיו שִׂמְלָה לְכָה קָצִין תִּהְיֶה־לָּנוּ וְהַמַּכְשֵׁלָה הַזֹּאת תַּחַת יָדֶךָ ׃
|In that day shall he swear, saying, I will not be an healer; for in my house is neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people.
||But he will raise his hand in that dayand swear, I am no physician.There is neither food nor clothing in my house;you cannot make me a leader of the people.
||יִשָּׂא בַיּוֹם הַהוּא לֵאמֹר לֹא־אֶהְיֶה חֹבֵשׁ וּבְבֵיתִי אֵין לֶחֶם וְאֵין שִׂמְלָה לֹא תְשִׂימֻנִי קְצִין עָם ׃
|For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory.
||Jerusalem will falter and Judea fallbecause their tongue and their actionsare contrary to Jehovah,an affront to his glory before his very eyes.
||כִּי כָשְׁלָה יְרוּשָׁלִַם וִיהוּדָה נָפָל כִּי־לְשׁוֹנָם וּמַעַלְלֵיהֶם אֶל־יְהוָה לַמְרוֹת עֵנֵי כְבוֹדוֹ ׃
|The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.
||The look on their faces betrays them:they flaunt their sin like Sodom;they cannot hide it.Woe to their souls;they have brought disaster upon themselves!
||הַכָּרַת פְּנֵיהֶם עָנְתָה בָּם וְחַטָּאתָם כִּסְדֹם הִגִּידוּ לֹא כִחֵדוּ אוֹי לְנַפְשָׁם כִּי־גָמְלוּ לָהֶם רָעָה ׃
|Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.
||Tell the righteous it shall be well with them;they shall eat the fruits of their own labors.
||אִמְרוּ צַדִּיק כִּי־טוֹב כִּי־פְרִי מַעַלְלֵיהֶם יֹאכֵלוּ ׃
|Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.
||But woe to the wickedwhen calamity overtakes them:they shall be paid backfor the deeds they have done!
||אוֹי לְרָשָׁע רָע כִּי־גְמוּל יָדָיו יֵעָשֶׂה לּוֹ ׃
|As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.
||As for my people, babes subject them;women wield authority over them.O my people, your leaders mislead you,abolishing your traditional ways.
||עַמִּי נֹגְשָׂיו מְעוֹלֵל וְנָשִׁים מָשְׁלוּ בוֹ עַמִּי מְאַשְּׁרֶיךָ מַתְעִים וְדֶרֶךְ אֹרְחֹתֶיךָ בִּלֵּעוּ ׃
|The Lord standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.
||Jehovah will take a stand and contend with them;he has arisen to judge the nations.
||נִצָּב לָרִיב יְהוָה וְעֹמֵד לָדִין עַמִּים ׃
|The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses.
||He will bring to trial the elders of his peopleand their rulers, and say to them,It is you who have devoured the vineyard;you fill your houses by depriving the needy.
||יְהוָה בְּמִשְׁפָּט יָבוֹא עִם־זִקְנֵי עַמּוֹ וְשָׂרָיו וְאַתֶּם בִּעַרְתֶּם הַכֶּרֶם גְּזֵלַת הֶעָנִי בְּבָתֵּיכֶם ׃
|What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts.
||What do you mean by oppressing my people,humbling the faces of the poor?says Jehovah of Hosts.
||מַלָּכֶם (מַה־לָּכֶם) תְּדַכְּאוּ עַמִּי וּפְנֵי עֲנִיִּים תִּטְחָנוּ נְאֻם־אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה צְבָאוֹת ׃
|Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:
||Jehovah says, moreover,Because the women of Zion are haughtyand put on airs, painting their eyes,ever flirting when they walkand clacking with their feet,
||וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה יַעַן כִּי גָבְהוּ בְּנוֹת צִיּוֹן וַתֵּלַכְנָה נְטוּוֹת (נְטוּיוֹת) גָּרוֹן וּמְשַׂקְּרוֹת עֵינָיִם הָלוֹךְ וְטָפֹף תֵּלַכְנָה וּבְרַגְלֵיהֶם תְּעַכַּסְנָה ׃
|Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts.
||my Lord will afflict the scalpsof the women of Zion with baldness;Jehovah will expose their private parts.
||וְשִׂפַּח אֲדֹנָי קָדְקֹד בְּנוֹת צִיּוֹן וַיהוָה פָּתְהֵן יְעָרֶה ׃
|In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon,
||In that day my Lord will strip away their finery—the anklets, head ornaments and crescents,
||בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא יָסִיר אֲדֹנָי אֵת תִּפְאֶרֶת הָעֲכָסִים וְהַשְּׁבִיסִים וְהַשַּׂהֲרֹנִים ׃
|The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers,
||the pendants, chains and scarves,
||הַנְּטִיפוֹת וְהַשֵּׁירוֹת וְהָרְעָלוֹת ׃
|The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,
||tiaras, bracelets and ribbons, zodiac signs and charm amulets,
||הַפְּאֵרִים וְהַצְּעָדוֹת וְהַקִּשֻּׁרִים וּבָתֵּי הַנֶּפֶשׁ וְהַלְּחָשִׁים ׃
|The rings, and nose jewels,
||the rings, the noselets,
||הַטַּבָּעוֹת וְנִזְמֵי הָאָף ׃
|The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins,
||the elegant dress, the shawl, the kerchief and the purse,
||הַמַּחֲלָצוֹת וְהַמַּעֲטָפוֹת וְהַמִּטְפָּחוֹת וְהָחֲרִיטִים ׃
|The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails.
||hosiery, sheer linen, millinery, and cloaks.
||וְהַגִּלְיֹנִים וְהַסְּדִינִים וְהַצְּנִיפוֹת וְהָרְדִידִים ׃
|And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.
||And instead of perfume there shall be a stench,instead of the girdle, a piece of twine,instead of the coiffure, baldness,instead of the festive dress, a loincloth of burlap;for in place of beautythere shall be ignominy.a
||וְהָיָה תַחַת בֹּשֶׂם מַק יִהְיֶה וְתַחַת חֲגוֹרָה נִקְפָּה וְתַחַת מַעֲשֶׂה מִקְשֶׁה קָרְחָה וְתַחַת פְּתִיגִיל מַחֲגֹרֶת שָׂק כִּי־תַחַת יֹפִי ׃
|Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.
||Your men shall be felled by the sword,your might overthrown in war.
||מְתַיִךְ בַּחֶרֶב יִפֹּלוּ וּגְבוּרָתֵךְ בַּמִּלְחָמָה ׃
|And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.
||Her gateways shall lie bereaved and forlorn;she shall sit on the ground destitute.
||וְאָנוּ וְאָבְלוּ פְּתָחֶיהָ וְנִקָּתָה לָאָרֶץ תֵּשֵׁב ׃
Besides reflecting the historical origins of Isaiah’s prophecy, the names “Judea” and “Jerusalem” function as codenames of Jehovah’s end-time people, as noted (cf. Isaiah 1:1; 2:1). The title “Jehovah of Hosts” connotes Jehovah’s power and authority in implementing covenant curses now coming upon his people. The basic necessities they have so long taken for granted peter out as their circumstances change for the worse. The people’s “staff and crutch”—their livelihood, communal structure, and civic leadership (vv 1-3)—crumble away as their society spirals into anarchy and chaos (vv 4-7).
Wisdom and knowledge, the backbone of a society, disappear as moral degeneracy supplants moral integrity. Accomplished individuals decrease and principled persons are marginalized as people turn selfish and hedonistic. In the end, law and order break down, commerce declines, and people fall prey to society’s lowest elements. When those who hold communities together, whose duty is to safeguard against corruption, become corrupt themselves, a nation disintegrates from within. A common denominator in such cases is Jehovah’s people forgetting their God (Isaiah 17:10-11).
Although God gave humanity the freedom to choose good or evil in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:16-17), once a person chooses he isn’t free to decide the consequences. Likewise, when Jehovah’s people choose evil, evil aftereffects unavoidably follow. So it is with their leadership. As the people do, so do their leaders; and vice versa. Spiritually immature and profligate persons—“adolescents” and “delinquents”—end up governing their affairs, bringing the nation to ruin. Relying on their own wisdom instead of on Jehovah’s, their darkened minds can’t foresee the end result of their nefarious handiwork.
When people no longer have confidence in their leaders—when things go awry because no one seeks guidance from God—they turn on each other out of exasperation (cf. Isaiah 9:21; 19:2; 54:15). As Jehovah withdraws his Spirit, the spirits of demons overcome them. A mood of contention takes over and society fragments into disparate elements. Isaiah’s paralleling “the young” and “the vile” implies that the rising generation has turned base. As the latter assume they are every bit as wise and intelligent as the older generation, the practice of showing deference or respect becomes unknown.
The ultimate phase of a discordant society is a state of “ruination” or “total breakdown” (maksela). At that point, as law and order and its enforcement become nonexistent, people band together into clans for self-protection. Where even a semblance of leadership once existed, now there is anarchy. Where structure and civilization were the rule, now there is chaos. Under those circumstances, out of desperation people take hold of a person who formerly held office—a government official, a judge, a police officer, a soldier, a clerk, or even a mailman—and pressure him to deliver them from their plight.
Instead of raising his hand and swearing allegiance to accept his oath of office, the person now raises his hand to disavow it. In fact, by omitting the word “hand”—although the verb “raise” implies it—Isaiah makes the person’s renunciation of his office a parody of his former acceptance of it. That he is no “physician” or “healer” (hobes) alludes to the pathological state of people who have no access to remedial resources. Such deprivation—including the lack of food and clothing—suggests that a prolonged covenant curse has taken effect, rendering the collapsed society incapable of recovery.
Those who “falter” or “stumble” (kasla) and “fall” (napal) are the wicked (Isaiah 8:14-15; 10:4; 28:13; 54:15; 59:10), not the righteous. These terms associate the reprobate of Jehovah’s people with Isaiah’s Babylon category, as it is they who stumble and fall, not Zion (Isaiah 13:15, 19; 14:4, 12; 21:9). Isaiah’s paralleling his people’s “tongue” and “actions” shows their interrelationship: when one is evil, so is the other. The word tongue additionally serves as a pseudonym of the king of Assyria/Babylon, whom the wicked emulate in speaking evil before God (Isaiah 9:17; 32:6-7; 37:23; 57:4; 59:3).
The further mention of Sodom (cf. Isaiah 1:9-10) implies that sodomy has become widespread among Jehovah’s people. So much that it is flaunted openly and shows in his people’s faces and demeanor. Jehovah’s response is to pronounce a covenant curse: “Woe to their souls”—that is, to both body and spirit. The word “disaster” or “calamity” (ra‘a) alludes to Jehovah’s Day of Judgment, when he commissions the king of Assyria/Babylon to wreak a Sodom-and-Gomorrah type of destruction on the wicked of his people—on all who belong to Isaiah’s Babylon category (Isaiah 10:5-6; 13:1-19; 47:11).
To indicate that all isn’t gloom and doom—while at the same time inferring how few righteous people remain when compared to the wicked—Isaiah inserts a single, hopeful line. Elsewhere, he predicts that the righteous who keep faith with Jehovah through troubled times (Isaiah 26:1-3; 33:6) are gathered to safety before calamity strikes (Isaiah 13:3; 57:1). The term “well” or “good” (tob) connotes covenant blessings, suggesting that those who keep the terms of Jehovah’s covenant, who have laid up “the fruits of their own labors” for the evil day, enjoy sufficiency even as others starve (cf. v 7).
This verse completes a chiasm, consisting of covenant curse (v 9)—a1; covenant blessing (v 10)—b; and covenant curse (v 11)—a2. The antithetical nature of this mini-structure adds perspective to the relationship between good and evil, contrasting the consequences of righteousness and wickedness. Besides synonymously identifying the subject of verse 9 with “the wicked” of verse 11, it defines “disaster” and “calamity” as “the fruits of their own labors”—this time of the wicked, not of the righteous. Once the righteous are gathered out from among the wicked, the wicked suffer calamity (Isaiah 57:1).
By using the covenant formula “my people . . . my people” (cf. Exodus 6:7; Leviticus 26:12; Isaiah 51:16), Jehovah shows that he seeks to reclaim his people to the very last from their corrupt condition. While the parallel terms “babes” and “women” may be intended literally, they undoubtedly convey a caricature of men who are spiritually immature or less than men in their personal lives. Their oppressive leadership in “misleading” Jehovah’s people—“abolishing” well-proven principles and established guidelines—causes their society to disintegrate, leaving them vulnerable to disaster (Isaiah 9:16-19).
This verse forms the centerpiece of another chiastic mini-structure: the “leaders” of “my people” (v 12)—a1; the “nations” (v 13)—b; the “elders” and “rulers” of “his people” (v 14)—a2. This tells us that Jehovah’s people, together with their leaders, elders, and rulers whom Jehovah is addressing, are now—in an end-time context—dispersed among all nations. Like a judge who takes the stand, Jehovah is coming to put them on trial, to condemn those who, instead of serving his people by equitably managing their affairs, despicably serve themselves (Isaiah 1:23-24; 10:1-4; 28:14-18; 32:5-7).
By again using the covenant formula “his people,” Jehovah shows his intent to care for his people in spite of their leaders’ lack of care. The term’s parallel occurrence with the “needy” denotes Jehovah’s regard for the oppressed. They, above all others—not the elite who wield authority over them—are “his people” (cf. v 15). Whereas the wealthy and powerful fall prey to pride, the needy’s lowly circumstances keep them humble. The “vineyard” their leaders devour—by feeding on their taxes and tithes—represents Jehovah’s covenant people, those whom Jehovah chooses as his own (Isaiah 5:7).
By again paralleling “my people” with the “poor” or “needy” (‘aniyyim) (cf. v 14), Jehovah claims them in a special sense as his own. They constitute a major portion of his covenant people whom he delivers from destruction in his Day of Judgment: “You were a refuge for the poor, a shelter for the needy in distress, a covert from the downpour and shade from the heat. When the blasts of tyrants beat down like torrents against a wall, or like scorching heat in the desert, you quelled the onslaughts of the heathen: as burning heat by the shade of a cloud, you subdued the power of tyrants” (Isaiah 25:4-5).
After admonishing the men for their crimes of injustice and idolatry (vv 12-15; Isaiah 1:17, 23; 2:6-22), Jehovah addresses the women. Sacrificing their feminine virtue and natural dignity, they obsess on the physical at the expense of the spiritual. In their attempts to please men, they contrive ways to attract their attention instead of placing their confidence in God. That these are “women of Zion” signifies that they—like the faithful city that becomes a harlot (Isaiah 1:21)—may once have belonged to Isaiah’s Zion/Jerusalem category, but instead of ascending further spiritually they have descended.
Inasmuch as the women of Zion seek to woo the men by using a façade of beauty—exposing intimate body parts in order to appeal to men’s baser instincts—in his Day of Judgment Jehovah exposes their intimate parts ad nauseam, entirely stripping away their exterior of glamour to reveal their debased interior. Covenant curses, such as baldness and a lack of clothing (vv 7, 24), show that Zion’s profligate women incur Jehovah’s judgments as do the men: “Be alarmed, you complacent women; be perturbed, O careless daughters! Strip yourselves bare; put sackcloth around your waists” (Isaiah 32:11).
To press home the extremes to which Zion’s women go to beautify themselves, Isaiah presents an entire inventory of garnishments well-to-do women bring to bear—twenty-one, or three times seven. “In that day”—Jehovah’s Day of Judgment—the adornments they displayed are conspicuously absent as female excesses turn into utter deprivation and these women are confronted with relying solely on Jehovah. In a great reversal of circumstances, he humbles those who exalt themselves and exalts those who humble themselves (Isaiah 47:1-3; 52:1-3), whose lives the rich might have blessed.
Besides anarchy and internal collapse (vv 5-7), enemy invasion afflicts Jehovah’s people. Zion’s women lose their men, their providers and protectors. Didn’t Jehovah warn his people beforehand that if they didn’t repent they would “be eaten by the sword” (Isaiah 1:20; emphasis added)—the king of Assyria/Babylon? But they ignored him: “I will destine you to the sword; all of you shall succumb to the slaughter. For when I called, you did not respond; when I spoke, you would not give heed. You did what was evil in my eyes; you chose to do what was not my will” (Isaiah 65:12; emphasis added).
Jehovah’s wife who has played the harlot finds herself bereft of her divine provider and protector. Like a widow in mourning, she sits on the ground grieving at the loss of her sons (v 25). Commerce ceases as her ports of call lack traffic: “Havoc remains in the city; the gates lie battered to ruin” (Isaiah 24:12). Self-centered instead of God-centered, she suffers the fate of Isaiah’s Babylon category: “Bereavement and widowhood shall suddenly overtake you, both in one day” (Isaiah 47:9). Left destitute—a covenant curse—Jehovah’s people must learn the hard way from whence their blessings come.