Isaiah 18


This short chapter is considered by some to be one of the most obscure in the bible, certainly in Isaiah.  It seems to be focused on Ethiopia, and then, in v. 18:7, (as momentarily in v. 18:2) it shifts to Israel.

הוֹי אֶרֶץ צִלְצַל כְּנָפָיִם אֲשֶׁר מֵעֵבֶר לְנַהֲרֵי־כוּשׁ׃   18:1

Isai. 18:1   Alas, land of the buzzing of wings

                            that is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia,

הַשֹּׁלֵחַ בַּיָּם צִירִים וּבִכְלֵי־גֹמֶא עַל־פְּנֵי־מַיִם לְכוּ מַלְאָכִים קַלִּים אֶל־גּוֹי מְמֻשָּׁךְ וּמוֹרָט אֶל־עַם נוֹרָא   18:2 מִן־הוּא וָהָלְאָה גּוֹי קַו־קָו וּמְבוּסָה אֲשֶׁר־בָּזְאוּ נְהָרִים אַרְצוֹ׃

Isai. 18:2   that sends ambassadors by the sea

                           and in vessels of papyrus

                   on the surface of the water,

                           go, swift messengers,

                    to a nation both drawn out and scoured,

                            to a people to be feared because of it, and more,

                    a nation sturdy though trampled,

                            whose land rivers divide.

כָּל־יֹשְׁבֵי תֵבֵל וְשֹׁכְנֵי אָרֶץ כִּנְשֹׂא־נֵס הָרִים תִּרְאוּ וְכִתְקֹעַ שׁוֹפָר תִּשְׁמָעוּ׃   18:3

Isai. 18:3   All inhabitants of the world

                           and dwellers of the land!

                   When an ensign to raise is lifted, you shall see;

                           and when a horn is blown, you shall hear.

כִּי כֹה׳3׳ אָמַר יְהוָה אֵלַי אשקוטה אֶשְׁקֳטָה וְאַבִּיטָה בִמְכוֹנִי כְּחֹם צַח עֲלֵי־אוֹר כְּעָב טַל בְּחֹם   18:4 קָצִיר׃

Isai. 18:4   For thus says the Lord to me:

                           “I will remain still and look on in My dwelling place,

                    like the clear heat of the upper light,

                            like the mist of dew in the heat of harvest.”

כִּי־לִפְנֵי קָצִיר כְּתָם־פֶּרַח וּבֹסֶר גֹּמֵל יִהְיֶה נִצָּה וְכָרַת הַזַּלְזַלִּים בַּמַּזְמֵרוֹת וְאֶת־הַנְּטִישׁוֹת הֵסִיר   18:5 הֵתַז׃

Isai. 18:5   For before the harvest,

                           when bud is spent

                    and blossom would become a ripening grape,

                            then He will cut off the sprigs with pruning shears,

                    and removing, lopping off, the shoots.

יֵעָזְבוּ יַחְדָּו לְעֵיט הָרִים וּלְבֶהֱמַת הָאָרֶץ וְקָץ עָלָיו הָעַיִט וְכָל־בֶּהֱמַת הָאָרֶץ עָלָיו תֶּחֱרָף׃   18:6

Isai. 18:6   They will both be left for the ravenous birds of the mountains

                            and for the beasts of the land.

                    Then the ravenous bird shall summer on it,

                            and every beast of the earth shall winter on it.

בָּעֵת הַהִיא יוּבַל־שַׁי לַיהוָה צְבָאוֹת עַם מְמֻשָּׁךְ וּמוֹרָט וּמֵעַם נוֹרָא מִן־הוּא וָהָלְאָה גּוֹי קַו־קָו   18:7 וּמְבוּסָה אֲשֶׁר בָּזְאוּ נְהָרִים אַרְצוֹ אֶל־מְקוֹם שֵׁם־יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת הַר־צִיּוֹן׃

Isai. 18:7   At that time a gift shall be brought to the Lord of hosts,

                            a people both drawn out and scoured,

                    also a people to be feared because of it, and more,

                            a nation sturdy though trampled,

                     whose land rivers divide,

                             to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts,

                     Mount Zion.

This last verse is often interpreted as prose.  I wonder why it is not thought to be poetry.  It certainly seems to be.  In fact, much of this verse is a repetition of v. 18:2.


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