Isaiah 56

The Lord Invites Outsiders to Enter

1This is what the Lord says,
Heb “guard”; KJV “Keep”; NAB “Observe”; NASB “Preserve”; NIV, NRSV “Maintain.”
justice! Do what is right!
For I am ready to deliver you;
I am ready to vindicate you openly.
Heb “for near is my deliverance to enter, and my vindication [or “righteousness”] to be revealed.”

2 The people who do this will be blessed,
Heb “blessed is the man who does this.”

the people who commit themselves to obedience,
Heb “the son of mankind who takes hold of it.”

who observe the Sabbath and do not defile it,
who refrain from doing anything that is wrong.
Heb and who keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

3 No foreigner who becomes a follower of
Heb “who attaches himself to.”
the Lord should say,
‘The Lord will certainly
The infinitive absolute precedes the finite verb for emphasis.
exclude me from his people.’
The eunuch should not say,
‘Look, I am like a dried-up tree.’”
4 For this is what the Lord says:
“For the eunuchs who observe my Sabbaths
and choose what pleases me
and are faithful to
Heb “and take hold of” (so KJV); NASB “hold fast.”
my covenant,
5 I will set up within my temple and my walls a monument
Heb “a hand and a name.” For other examples where יָד (yad) refers to a monument, see HALOT 388 s.v.

that will be better than sons and daughters.
I will set up a permanent monument
Heb “name” (so KJV, NIV, NRSV).
for them that will remain.
6 As for foreigners who become followers of
Heb “who attach themselves to.”
the Lord and serve him,
who love the name of the Lord and want to be his servants –
all who observe the Sabbath and do not defile it,
and who are faithful to
Heb “and take hold of”; NAB “hold to”; NIV, NRSV “hold fast.”
my covenant –
7 I will bring them to my holy mountain;
I will make them happy in the temple where people pray to me.
Heb “in the house of my prayer.”

Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar,
for my temple will be known as a temple where all nations may pray.”
Heb “for my house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations.”

8 The sovereign Lord says this,
the one who gathers the dispersed of Israel:
“I will still gather them up.”
The meaning of the statement is unclear. The text reads literally, “Still I will gather upon him to his gathered ones.” Perhaps the preposition -לְ (lamed) before “gathered ones” introduces the object of the verb, as in Jer 49:5. The third masculine singular suffix on both עָלָיו (’alayv) and נִקְבָּצָיו (niqbatsayv) probably refers to “Israel.” In this case one can translate literally, “Still I will gather to him his gathered ones.”

The Lord Denounces Israel’s Paganism

9 All you wild animals in the fields, come and devour,
all you wild animals in the forest!
10 All their watchmen
The “watchmen” are probably spiritual leaders, most likely prophets and priests, responsible for giving the people moral direction.
are blind,
they are unaware.
Heb “they do not know”; KJV “they are all ignorant”; NIV “they all lack knowledge.”

All of them are like mute dogs,
unable to bark.
They pant,
The Hebrew text has הֹזִים (hozim), which appears to be derived from an otherwise unattested verbal root הָזָה (hazah). On the basis of alleged cognates, BDB 223 s.v. הָזָה offers the definition “dream, rave” while HALOT 243 s.v. הזה lists “pant.” In this case the dog metaphor of the preceding lines continues. The reference to dogs at the beginning of v. 11 favors the extension of the metaphor. The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa has חזים (“seers”) here. In this case the “watchmen” are directly identified as prophets and depicted as lazy.
lie down,
and love to snooze.
11 The dogs have big appetites;
they are never full.
The phrase never full alludes to the greed of the leaders.

They are shepherds who have no understanding;
they all go their own way,
each one looking for monetary gain.
Heb “for his gain from his end.”

12 Each one says,
The words “each one says” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

‘Come on, I’ll get some wine!
Let’s guzzle some beer!
Tomorrow will be just like today!
We’ll have everything we want!’
Heb “great, [in] abundance, very much,” i.e., “very great indeed.” See HALOT 452 s.v. יֶתֶר.

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