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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Isaiah

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5.1–7 : The love song about the vineyard.

The prophet composes and sings the song for his friend, identified in v. 7 as the LORD. The genre of the love song is used as a parable with an explanation (cf. 2 Sam 12.1–14 ) and also a poeticized form of judgment saying with indictment (vv. 1–4 ) and verdict (vv. 5–6 ). Vineyard can serve as a metaphor for lover in Ugaritic and biblical poetry (Song 1.6,14; 2.15; 4.12,16; 8.11–12 ). The vineyard is identified in v. 7 as Israel (cf. 1.8; 3.14; 27.2–6 ); a closely related metaphor is Israel as the vine (Ps 80.8–16; Jer 2.21; Hos 10.1 ).

5–6 :

The verdict reflects a type of treaty and covenant curse (see also 5.10; 65.21; cf. Deut 28.30,39; Am 5.11 ). The curse on the vineyard will be reversed in 27.2–6 .

6 :

Briers and thorns, a frequently occurring motif in Isaiah, connoting infertility of the land, ecological degradation, with a moral dimension ( 7.23–25; 9.18; 10.17; 27.2–5; 32.12–13 ).

7 :

In Hebrew there is a double word play: “mishpat” (justice) and “mishpah” (bloodshed), and “tsedaqah” (righteousness) and “tse\aqah” (a cry).

5.8–24 : Seven woes.

A series of seven short poems ( 5.8–10, 11–17, 18–19, 20, 21, 22–24; 10.1–4 ), each beginning with “Woe” (here translated Ah). Some commentators hold that 10.1–4 has fallen out of the lead position in the series and has been attached to the poem on divine anger. “Woe” sayings are often presented in a series (e.g., Am 5.18–6.8; Hab 2.6–19 ).

8–10 :

The first saying targets the ruling class, whose policies undermine the livelihood of the subsistence farmer by enclosing or confiscating patrimonial land, leading to the formation of large estates. This is a frequent concern of eighth‐century BCE prophecy (e.g., Mic 2.1–2; cf. 1 Kings 21 ).

10 :

Bath, a liquid measure of approximately 6 gal; homer, a donkey‐load, about 6.5 bu; ephah, one tenth of a homer (Ezek 45.11 ).

11–17 :

This second poem has been greatly expanded.

11 :

Addiction to strong drink is frequently denounced in the prophets (Isa 28.7–8; Hos 4.11; 7.5; Am 4.1; Mic 2.11 ) and wisdom literature (Prov 21.17; 23.19–21,29–35 ).

12 :

While not in itself reprehensible, musical entertainment is denounced as an aspect of effete urban living (cf. Am 6.1,4–7 ). The deeds, work or plan and agenda of God is a central motif in Isaiah ( 5.19; 10.12; 14.24–27; 19.12,17; 23.9; 28.21; 30.1 ).

14–17 :

An addition to the “Woe” saying, perhaps a fragment of a judgment saying against Jerusalem.

14 :

A fuller description of Sheol, the underworld, will appear in 14.4–20 .

15–16 :

Cf. 2.9,11,17 .

17 :

A common motif in Isaiah: The city goes back to nature ( 13.19–22; 34.8–17 ).

18–19 :

Bearing the burden of sin is represented vividly as dragging along a large and recalcitrant animal; cf. the opposite image in Hos 11.4.

19 :

In Isaiah the opposition is often quoted. The sarcastic rejoinder of those addressed by the prophet appears to quote the prophet's own terms back to him.

20 :

This fourth saying condemns the moral sophistry of the opposition.

21 :

Their wisdom, based on education in the wisdom tradition of Israel, is counterfeit (cf. Jer 8.8–9 ).

22–24 :

The self‐indulgent leadership is guilty of the worst crime, perverting the judicial system by accepting bribes ( 1.23; Mic 3.11; cf. Ex 23.8; Deut 16.19 ). Judgment, under the metaphor of fire, will follow rejection of the moral guidance provided by divine instruction (Heb “torah”) and the prophetic word.

5.25 : A displaced stanza.

This stanza of the poem about divine anger, identified by the refrain for all this his anger has not turned away …, should probably follow 9.8–10.4 . It provides the clearest allusion to earthquake, perhaps the earthquake mentioned in Am 1.2 and Zech 14.5 during the reigns of Uzziah and Jeroboam II, also attested in the archaeological record at Hazor and elsewhere. Assyrian records attest to a major earthquake on June 15, 763 BCE.

5.26–30 : The threat of a double blow:

earthquake followed by military assault; cf. 9.18–10.4 and Am 9.1–4 .

26 :

The God of Israel summons Assyria to punish Israel; cf. 7.18–20; 8.7; 10.5–6 . A precise itinerary is given in 10.27b–32 , probably referring to the campaign of Sennacherib in 701 BCE. A signal, for assembling troops (Jer 6.1 ).

29 :

Their roaring is like a lion, references to lions are common in Isaiah, perhaps dependent in part on Amos (Am 1.2; 3.4,8; 5.19 ). Palestine continued to be a habitat for lions down to the Middle Ages.

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