Isaiah 31


הֹוי הַיֹּרְדִים מִצְרַיִם לְעֶזְרָה עַל־סוּסִים יִשָּׁעֵנוּ וַיִּבְטְחוּ עַל־רֶכֶב כִּי רָב וְעַל פָּרָשִׁים כִּי־עָצְמוּ מְאֹד   31:1 וְלֹא שָׁעוּ עַל־קְדֹושׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאֶת־יְהוָה לֹא דָרָשׁוּ׃

Isai. 31:1   Alas, who go down to Egypt for help,

                            and rely on horses,

                    and trust in chariots because of abundance,

                            and in horsemen because they are very strong,

                    and do not look to the Holy One of Israel,

                            and do not seek out the Lord!

וְגַם־הוּא חָכָם וַיָּבֵא רָע וְאֶת־דְּבָרָיו לֹא הֵסִיר וְקָם עַל־בֵּית מְרֵעִים וְעַל־עֶזְרַת פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן׃   31:2

Isai. 31:2   Yet He is wise too, that He brings grief,

                            but His words He does not withdraw.

                    So He will rise up against the house of the evil doers

                            and against the help of the workers of iniquity.

וּמִצְרַיִם אָדָם וְלֹא־אֵל וְסוּסֵיהֶם בָּשָׂר וְלֹא־רוּחַ וַיהוָה יַטֶּה יָדֹו וְכָשַׁל עֹוזֵר וְנָפַל עָזֻר וְיַחְדָּו כֻּלָּם   31:3 יִכְלָיוּן׃

Isai. 31:3   Now the Egyptians are men and not a god,

                             and their horses are flesh and not spirit.

                    So the Lord shall stretch out His “hand”

                             and the helper shall stumble,

                    and the helped shall fall,

                             and all of them shall perish together.

כִּי כֹה אָמַר־יְהוָה אֵלַי כַּאֲשֶׁר יֶהְגֶּה הָאַרְיֵה וְהַכְּפִיר עַל־טַרְפֹּו אֲשֶׁר יִקָּרֵא עָלָיו מְלֹא רֹעִים מִקֹּולָם   31:4 לֹא יֵחָת וּמֵהֲמֹונָם לֹא יַעֲנֶה כֵּן יֵרֵד יְהוָה צְבָאֹות לִצְבֹּא עַל־הַר־צִיֹּון וְעַל־גִּבְעָתָהּ׃

Isai. 31:4   For thus has said the Lord to me:

                             “As the lioness or the young lion might roar over its prey,

                    that a multitude of shepherds call forth against it,

                             but will not weaken because of their noise,”

                    so the Lord of hosts will descend

                              to battle on Mount Zion and on its hills.

כְּצִפֳּרִים עָפֹות כֵּן יָגֵן יְהוָה צְבָאֹות עַל־יְרוּשָׁלִָם גָּנֹון וְהִצִּיל פָּסֹחַ וְהִמְלִיט׃   31:5

Isai. 31:5   Like flying birds,

                             so the Lord of hosts will be a protection above Jerusalem,

                    defending and preserving,

                             passing over and rescuing.

שׁוּבוּ לַאֲשֶׁר הֶעְמִיקוּ סָרָה בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃   31:6

Isai. 31:6   Return to He Who makes Himself a valley of apostasy,

                             O children of Israel!

Here we have another verse with hardly understandable Hebrew.  The grammar of the verse seems to beg for a seventh word that seems to be missing.  The verse appears to say “Return to He Who [ ]!  Make profound of apostasy, O children of Israel!.”  But if a word is missing, there is no way of knowing what it might be.  Better to try to make sense of the sparse Hebrew of the verse.  Another translation I considered was “Return to they who make apostasy profound, the children of Israel.  This had some value for me -- Isaiah was exhorting the Lord to return to Israel.  But what does make apostasy profound mean?  So after much deliberation and prayer, I settled on what is shown above.  What this translation could be saying is that the Lord is swallowing or burying apostasy (in a valley -- another meaning for the root of the third word, הֶעְמִיקוּ.  In arriving at the translation I chose, I took some liberty with that third Hebrew word by assuming that its vav suffix was a third-person masculine pronoun (resulting in the word Himself) rather than as an indicator that the verb was plural.  But that’s trivial compared to the liberties all the other translators took.  They seemed to ignore almost all of the words of the verse and made up a verse that they thought fit.  The only words most of them acknowledged are those translated as return and children of Israel, and they added a variety of other words not present in the Hebrew.

כִּי בַּיֹּום הַהוּא יִמְאָסוּן אִישׁ אֱלִילֵי כַסְפֹּו וֶאֱלִילֵי זְהָבֹו אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ לָכֶם יְדֵיכֶם חֵטְא׃   31:7

Isai. 31:7   For in that day they might cast away, each one,

                             the idols of his silver and the idols of his gold

                    that your own hands sinfully made for you.

וְנָפַל אַשּׁוּר בְּחֶרֶב לֹא־אִישׁ וְחֶרֶב לֹא־אָדָם תֹּאכֲלֶנּוּ וְנָס לֹו מִפְּנֵי־חֶרֶב וּבַחוּרָיו לָמַס יִהְיוּ׃   31:8

Isai. 31:8   Then Assyria would fall of a sword not human,

                              and the sword not of humanity would devour him,

                    and flight would be his from before the sword,

                              and his young men would become as a tribute.

וְסַלְעֹו מִמָּגֹור יַעֲבֹור וְחַתּוּ מִנֵּס שָׂרָיו נְאֻם־יְהוָה אֲשֶׁר־אוּר לֹו בְּצִיֹּון וְתַנּוּר לֹו בִּירוּשָׁלִָם׃   31:9

Isai. 31:9   “And his rock would be overcome by terror,

                              and his princes would be dismayed by the miracle,”

                    says the Lord, Whose fire is in Zion

                              and His furnace in Jerusalem.


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