Sunday, December 20, 2015

Isaiah 17

We are skipping around - keeping in touch with several strands of style and content. Remember how many years during which this body of work emerged. There is no single short period of record, but as many as 1000 years of writing, copying, and telling of experience. We've dropped down smack in the middle of a set of oracles against the nations (OAN). It is a suitable time to be reading about such tumult, given the tribal noise in the world. There are similar groups of oracles in Jeremiah and other prophets. See e.g. the recent article in JBL, Chae, Moon Kwon. “Redactional Intentions of MT Jeremiah Concerning the Oracles Against the Nations”. Journal of Biblical Literature 134.3 (2015): 577–593.

Wherever we are, these oracles are likely isolated from each other in time and delivery. I had to look at my Latin concordance to convince myself that grape-gleanings are a suitable gloss in verse 6. It's a very odd derived meaning from the stem עלל, profane, wanton, prodigal... (racemationes is the Latin - so the gloss goes back a long way.)

I have been very liberal in verse 8. Idolatry is not confined to ancient practice. Our idols (at least for some of us) are a bit more subtle. In every age, they all boil down to lust for power, i.e. sex, money, and violence.
Isaiah 17
מַשָּׂ֖א דַּמָּ֑שֶׂק
הִנֵּ֤ה דַמֶּ֙שֶׂק֙ מוּסָ֣ר מֵעִ֔יר וְהָיְתָ֖ה מְעִ֥י מַפָּלָֽה
1 A load about Damascus.
Behold Damascus, put aside as a city and she is perversely fallen.
עֲזֻב֖וֹת עָרֵ֣י עֲרֹעֵ֑ר
לַעֲדָרִ֣ים תִּֽהְיֶ֔ינָה וְרָבְצ֖וּ וְאֵ֥ין מַחֲרִֽיד
2 Forsaken are the cities of Aroer.
Let them be as troops and recline and without apprehensiveness.
וְנִשְׁבַּ֤ת מִבְצָר֙ מֵֽאֶפְרַ֔יִם וּמַמְלָכָ֥ה מִדַּמֶּ֖שֶׂק וּשְׁאָ֣ר אֲרָ֑ם
כִּכְב֤וֹד בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ יִֽהְי֔וּ נְאֻ֖ם יְהוָ֥ה צְבָאֽוֹת
3 The enclosure will cease from Ephraim and the kingdom from Damascus and the residue of Aram.
They will be as the glory of the children of Israel. An oracle of Yahweh of hosts.
וְהָיָה֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא יִדַּ֖ל כְּב֣וֹד יַעֲקֹ֑ב
וּמִשְׁמַ֥ן בְּשָׂר֖וֹ יֵרָזֶֽה
4 And it will be in that day that the glory of Jacob will be brought low,
and the oil of his flesh will be lean.
וְהָיָ֗ה כֶּֽאֱסֹף֙ קָצִ֣יר קָמָ֔ה וּזְרֹע֖וֹ שִׁבֳּלִ֣ים יִקְצ֑וֹר
וְהָיָ֛ה כִּמְלַקֵּ֥ט שִׁבֳּלִ֖ים בְּעֵ֥מֶק רְפָאִֽים
5 And it will be as the harvester gathers the risen corn and his arm reaps the stalks of grain,
and it will be as he gleans the stalks of corn in the valley of the shades.
וְנִשְׁאַר־בּ֤וֹ עֽוֹלֵלֹת֙ כְּנֹ֣קֶף זַ֔יִת שְׁנַ֧יִם שְׁלֹשָׁ֛ה גַּרְגְּרִ֖ים בְּרֹ֣אשׁ אָמִ֑יר
אַרְבָּעָ֣ה חֲמִשָּׁ֗ה בִּסְעִפֶ֙יהָ֙ פֹּֽרִיָּ֔ה נְאֻם־יְהוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל
6 And grape gleanings will be residue in it, as striking off of an olive, two, three olive berries at the top uppermost offshoot,
four, five, in its apex, bearing fruit. An oracle of Yahweh, the God of Israel.
בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא יִשְׁעֶ֥ה הָאָדָ֖ם עַל־עֹשֵׂ֑הוּ
וְעֵינָ֕יו אֶל־קְד֥וֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל תִּרְאֶֽינָה
7 In that day the earthling will look to its maker,
and its eyes, to the Holy One of Israel, will have regard.
וְלֹ֣א יִשְׁעֶ֔ה אֶל־הַֽמִּזְבְּח֖וֹת מַעֲשֵׂ֣ה יָדָ֑יו
וַאֲשֶׁ֨ר עָשׂ֤וּ אֶצְבְּעֹתָיו֙ לֹ֣א יִרְאֶ֔ה וְהָאֲשֵׁרִ֖ים וְהָחַמָּנִֽים
8 It will not look at the altars, the doing of its hands,
and that which its fingers have made, it will not have regard for, either the illicit happiness or the imaged heat.
בַּיּ֨וֹם הַה֜וּא יִהְי֣וּ ׀ עָרֵ֣י מָעֻזּ֗וֹ כַּעֲזוּבַ֤ת הַחֹ֙רֶשׁ֙ וְהָ֣אָמִ֔יר אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָזְב֔וּ מִפְּנֵ֖י בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל
וְהָיְתָ֖ה שְׁמָמָֽה
9 In that day,the cities of its strength will be as a forsaken silence, and uppermost offshoot which they have forsaken in the presence of the children of Israel,
and it has become desolate.
כִּ֤י שָׁכַ֙חַתְּ֙ אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׁעֵ֔ךְ וְצ֥וּר מָעֻזֵּ֖ךְ לֹ֣א זָכָ֑רְתְּ
עַל־כֵּ֗ן תִּטְּעִי֙ נִטְעֵ֣י נַעֲמָנִ֔ים וּזְמֹ֥רַת זָ֖ר תִּזְרָעֶֽנּוּ
10 For you have forgotten the God of your salvation, and the rock of your strength you have not remembered.
Therefore you will plant pleasant plantings, and with strange cuttings you will sow it.
בְּי֤וֹם נִטְעֵךְ֙ תְּשַׂגְשֵׂ֔גִי וּבַבֹּ֖קֶר זַרְעֵ֣ךְ תַּפְרִ֑יחִי
נֵ֥ד קָצִ֛יר בְּי֥וֹם נַחֲלָ֖ה וּכְאֵ֥ב אָנֽוּשׁ
11 In the day of your planting, you will build a hedge, and in the morning, you will make your seed flourish,
a heap for the harvester in the day of sickness and incurable sorrow.
ה֗וֹי הֲמוֹן֙ עַמִּ֣ים רַבִּ֔ים כַּהֲמ֥וֹת יַמִּ֖ים יֶהֱמָי֑וּן
וּשְׁא֣וֹן לְאֻמִּ֔ים כִּשְׁא֛וֹן מַ֥יִם כַּבִּירִ֖ים יִשָּׁאֽוּן
12 Alas for the tumult of the peoples, who murmur like the murmuring of the seas,
and the noise of the tribes like the noise of waters, making a great deal of noise.
לְאֻמִּ֗ים כִּשְׁא֞וֹן מַ֤יִם רַבִּים֙ יִשָּׁא֔וּן וְגָ֥עַר בּ֖וֹ וְנָ֣ס מִמֶּרְחָ֑ק
וְרֻדַּ֗ף כְּמֹ֤ץ הָרִים֙ לִפְנֵי־ר֔וּחַ וּכְגַלְגַּ֖ל לִפְנֵ֥י סוּפָֽה
13 The tribes make noise like the noise of many waters, but rebuke is in it, and a haven from afar,
though pursued like chaff of the hills in the face of wind, and as tumbleweed in the face of a storm-wind.
לְעֵ֥ת עֶ֙רֶב֙ וְהִנֵּ֣ה בַלָּהָ֔ה בְּטֶ֥רֶם בֹּ֖קֶר אֵינֶ֑נּוּ
זֶ֚ה חֵ֣לֶק שׁוֹסֵ֔ינוּ וְגוֹרָ֖ל לְבֹזְזֵֽינוּ
14 At the time of evening, and behold faded. From ere morning, it is not.
This is the share of those who plunder us, and the lot of those who despoil us.

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