Isaiah delivers strong pronouncements against the Northern Kingdom of Samaria and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The goal is to get them to repent.
VERSE 1. Woe to the crown of pride of the drunkards of Ephraim, and to the fading flower of his glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fertile valley of those who are overcome with wine!
Ephraim. This was the northern kingdom. Its capital was Samaria.
NLT translation. What sorrow awaits the proud city of Samaria—the glorious crown of the drunks of Israel. It sits at the head of a fertile valley, but its glorious beauty will fade like a flower. It is the pride of a people brought down by wine.
the glorious crown of the drunks of Israel. We imagine this was a fabulous way to insult Samaria. It is also in verse 3 below.
a mighty and strong one. That is Assyria.
crown of pride of the drunkards. We imagine this was a fabulous way to insult Samaria. It is also in verse 1 above.
VERSE 4. The fading flower of his glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fertile valley, shall be like the first-ripe fig before the summer; which someone picks and eats as soon as he sees it.
NLT translation. Then at last the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will himself be Israel’s crown. He will be the pride and joy of the remnant of his people.
the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. That is, Jesus Christ.
pride and joy. Jesus Christ is the pride and joy of Christian believers. He is our glorious crown, and the most precious aspect of our existence.
the remnant. The Bible describes a uniquely faithful group of believers called “the remnant.” Are they Jewish or Christians? Now or in the future? Who are they really? Read more »
VERSE 6. and a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.
VERSE 7. They also reel with wine, and stagger with strong drink. The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink. They are swallowed up by wine. They stagger with strong drink. They err in vision. They stumble in judgment.
stagger with strong drink. The nation was led by drunks. Even in our day, many people in high-stress positions of public leadership struggle with alcoholism or other drug abuse: politicians, CEOs, clerics and more.
BBE translation. For all the tables are covered with coughed-up food, so that there is not a clean place.
tables are covered with coughed-up food. Everything is covered with vomit.
VERSE 9. Whom will he teach knowledge? To whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts?
BBE translation. For it is one rule after another; one line after another; here a little, there a little.
one rule after another. They are such spiritual babies that God needs to tell them the same basic instructions, over and over again.
1 Corinthians 3:1-2. Brothers, I couldn’t speak to you as to spiritual, but as to fleshly, as to babies in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not with meat; for you weren’t yet ready. Indeed, you aren’t ready even now,
VERSE 11. But he will speak to this nation with stammering lips and in another language,
Matthew 11:28-30. Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
VERSE 13. Therefore the LORD’s word will be to them precept on precept, precept on precept; line on line, line on line; here a little, there a little; that they may go, fall backward, be broken, be snared, and be taken.
NAB translation. For them the word of the LORD shall be: “Command on command, command on command, rule on rule, rule on rule, here a little, there a little!” So that when they walk, they stumble backward, broken, ensnared and captured.
when they walk, they stumble. These people are not in a living relationship with God. They have a hard time living the faith. They talk about the commandments and rules. They do things out of obligation, not loving freedom. They have an obligation- mindset. In biblical jargon, they might not be saved.
VERSE 14. Therefore hear the LORD’s word, you scoffers, that rule this people in Jerusalem:
VERSE 15. “Because you have said, ‘We have made a covenant with death, and we are in agreement with Sheol. When the overflowing scourge passes through, it won’t come to us; for we have made lies our refuge, and we have hidden ourselves under falsehood.’ ”
made a covenant with death. Did they “sell their soul to the devil?”
we have made lies our refuge. Many people in positions of public leadership build a web of lies and deception.
VERSE 16. Therefore the Lord GOD says, “Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone of a sure foundation. He who believes shall not act hastily.
for a foundation a stone. Jesus Christ is the foundation stone. He is the rock foundation.
Isaiah 28:16. Therefore the Lord GOD says, “Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone of a sure foundation. He who believes shall not act hastily.
Zechariah 10:4. From him will come the cornerstone, from him the tent peg, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler together.
Ephesians 2:20. being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone;
VERSE 17. I will make justice the measuring line, and righteousness the plumb line. The hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters will overflow the hiding place.
VERSE 18. Your covenant with death shall be annulled, and your agreement with Sheol shall not stand. When the overflowing scourge passes through, then you will be trampled down by it.
VERSE 19. As often as it passes through, it will seize you; for morning by morning it will pass through, by day and by night; and it will be nothing but terror to understand the message.”
VERSE 20. For the bed is too short to stretch out on, and the blanket is too narrow to wrap oneself in.
VERSE 21. For the LORD will rise up as on Mount Perazim. He will be angry as in the valley of Gibeon; that he may do his work, his unusual work, and bring to pass his act, his extraordinary act.
VERSE 22. Now therefore don’t be scoffers, lest your bonds be made strong; for I have heard a decree of destruction from the Lord, the LORD of Hosts, on the whole earth.
BBE translation. Let your ears be open to my voice; give attention to what I say.
Jesus Christ often said words like this.
VERSE 24. Does he who plows to sow plow continually? Does he keep turning the soil and breaking the clods?
VERSE 25. When he has leveled its surface, doesn’t he plant the dill, and scatter the cumin seed, and put in the wheat in rows, the barley in the appointed place, and the spelt in its place?
VERSE 26. For his God instructs him in right judgment and teaches him.
VERSE 27. For the dill are not threshed with a sharp instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned over the cumin; but the dill is beaten out with a stick, and the cumin with a rod.
VERSE 28. Bread flour must be ground; so he will not always be threshing it. Although he drives the wheel of his threshing cart over it, his horses don’t grind it.
VERSE 29. This also comes out from the LORD of Hosts, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in wisdom.
Exodus 15:3. The LORD is a man of war. The LORD is his name.
Isaiah 9:6. For a child is born to us. A son is given to us; and the government will be on his shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 28:29. This also comes out from the LORD of Hosts, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in wisdom.
Ezekiel 44:3. As for the prince, he shall sit in it as prince to eat bread before the LORD. He shall enter by the way of the porch of the gate, and shall go out the same way.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.