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Judgment on Corrupt Rulers, Priests, and Prophets


Ah, the proud garland of the drunkards of Ephraim,

and the fading flower of its glorious beauty,

which is on the head of those bloated with rich food, of those overcome with wine!


See, the Lord has one who is mighty and strong;

like a storm of hail, a destroying tempest,

like a storm of mighty, overflowing waters;

with his hand he will hurl them down to the earth.


Trampled under foot will be

the proud garland of the drunkards of Ephraim.


And the fading flower of its glorious beauty,

which is on the head of those bloated with rich food,

will be like a first-ripe fig before the summer;

whoever sees it, eats it up

as soon as it comes to hand.



In that day the L ord of hosts will be a garland of glory,

and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people;


and a spirit of justice to the one who sits in judgment,

and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.



These also reel with wine

and stagger with strong drink;

the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink,

they are confused with wine,

they stagger with strong drink;

they err in vision,

they stumble in giving judgment.


All tables are covered with filthy vomit;

no place is clean.



“Whom will he teach knowledge,

and to whom will he explain the message?

Those who are weaned from milk,

those taken from the breast?


For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept,

line upon line, line upon line,

here a little, there a little.”



Truly, with stammering lip

and with alien tongue

he will speak to this people,


to whom he has said,

“This is rest;

give rest to the weary;

and this is repose”;

yet they would not hear.


Therefore the word of the L ord will be to them,

“Precept upon precept, precept upon precept,

line upon line, line upon line,

here a little, there a little;”

in order that they may go, and fall backward,

and be broken, and snared, and taken.



Therefore hear the word of the L ord, you scoffers

who rule this people in Jerusalem.


Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,

and with Sheol we have an agreement;

when the overwhelming scourge passes through

it will not come to us;

for we have made lies our refuge,

and in falsehood we have taken shelter”;


therefore thus says the Lord G od,

See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone,

a tested stone,

a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation:

“One who trusts will not panic.”


And I will make justice the line,

and righteousness the plummet;

hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,

and waters will overwhelm the shelter.


Then your covenant with death will be annulled,

and your agreement with Sheol will not stand;

when the overwhelming scourge passes through

you will be beaten down by it.


As often as it passes through, it will take you;

for morning by morning it will pass through,

by day and by night;

and it will be sheer terror to understand the message.


For the bed is too short to stretch oneself on it,

and the covering too narrow to wrap oneself in it.


For the L ord will rise up as on Mount Perazim,

he will rage as in the valley of Gibeon

to do his deed—strange is his deed!—

and to work his work—alien is his work!


Now therefore do not scoff,

or your bonds will be made stronger;

for I have heard a decree of destruction

from the Lord G od of hosts upon the whole land.



Listen, and hear my voice;

Pay attention, and hear my speech.


Do those who plow for sowing plow continually?

Do they continually open and harrow their ground?


When they have leveled its surface,

do they not scatter dill, sow cummin,

and plant wheat in rows

and barley in its proper place,

and spelt as the border?


For they are well instructed;

their God teaches them.



Dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge,

nor is a cart wheel rolled over cummin;

but dill is beaten out with a stick,

and cummin with a rod.


Grain is crushed for bread,

but one does not thresh it forever;

one drives the cart wheel and horses over it,

but does not pulverize it.


This also comes from the L ord of hosts;

he is wonderful in counsel,

and excellent in wisdom.


21. For as in Mount Perazim. Since he speaks here of the reprobate, the Prophet holds out nothing but terrors and cruel punishment; for while the Lord deals kindly and gently with his children, he shews that he will be an object of terror to the reprobate. For this purpose he produces examples, in which the Lord displayed his arm in defense of his people, as when he routed the Philistines in the valley of Perazim, when David pursued them, (2 Samuel 5:20; 1 Chronicles 14:11,) and at another time, when the Amorites and other enemies were slain by the Israelites in the valley of Gibeon, with Joshua as their leader, to whom the Lord granted that the “sun and moon should stand still,” that they might more easily pursue their enemies. (Joshua 10:10-14.)

Shall Jehovah rise up. By the word “rise up” he points out the power of God, because we think that he is lazy and indolent, when he does not punish the reprobate. It is therefore said that he “rises up” or stands erect, when he openly exhibits to us proofs of his power, and such as especially manifest the great care which he takes of his Church. Although the manner was different, (for in ancient times he “rose up” in defense of his chosen people against foreigners, but now he threatens war against the Jews,) yet Isaiah skillfully applies these examples; for by driving out internal enemies God will promote the advantage of his Church not less than if he directed his strength and arms against foreigners. He would thus reckon them in the number of enemies, though they falsely boasted that they were his people.

His strange work. 239239    {Bogus footnote} Some think that this “work” is called “strange,” because nothing corresponds better to the nature of God than to be merciful and to pardon our sins; and that when he is angry, he acts against his will, and assumes a character that is foreign to him and that is contrary to his nature. By nature he is gentle, compassionate, patient, kind, slow to anger, as Scripture declares by many words and by a variety of expressions his infinite compassion. (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 103:8.) Others explain it to mean that the “work” is “strange,” because formerly he was wont to defend his people, and that it is monstrous that he now proceeds to attack and exterminate them, as if they were enemies.

For my own part, I consider “strange” to mean simply what is uncommon or wonderful; for this appellation is given to what is rare and unusual among men, and we know that they almost always view with astonishment whatever is new. It is as if he had said, “The Lord will punish you, and that not in a common or ordinary way, but in a way so amazing that at the sight or hearing of it, all shall be struck with horror.” It is certain that all the works of God are so many proofs of his power, so that they ought justly to excite our admiration; but because, through constant habit and looking at them, they are despised by us, we think that he does nothing unless he adopt some extraordinary methods. On this account Isaiah quotes ancient examples, in order that we may know that, though to men this vengeance be new and amazing, yet to God it is far from being new, since for a long period he has given proofs of his power and ability not less remarkable than these. Yet I willingly admit that the Prophet contrasts the wicked Israelites with the Philistines and Canaanites, as if he had said, “The Lord formerly performed miracles when he wished to save his people; he will now perform them in order to destroy that people; for since the Israelites have degenerated, they shall feel the hand of God for their destruction which their fathers felt for their salvation.”

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