Ariel is Besieged
1 Ariel is as good as dead1
Ariel, the town David besieged!2
Keep observing your annual rituals,
celebrate your festivals on schedule.3
2 I will threaten Ariel,
and she will mourn intensely
and become like an altar hearth4 before me.
3 I will lay siege to you on all sides;5
I will besiege you with troops;6
I will raise siege works against you.
4 You will fall;
while lying on the ground7 you will speak;
from the dust where you lie, your words will be heard.8
Your voice will sound like a spirit speaking from the underworld;9
from the dust you will chirp as if muttering an incantation.10
5 But the horde of invaders will be like fine dust,
the horde of tyrants11 like chaff that is blown away.
It will happen suddenly, in a flash.
6 Judgment will come from the Lord who commands armies,12
accompanied by thunder, earthquake, and a loud noise,
by a strong gale, a windstorm, and a consuming flame of fire.
7 It will be like a dream, a night vision.
There will be a horde from all the nations that fight against Ariel,
those who attack her and her stronghold and besiege her.
8 It will be like a hungry man dreaming that he is eating,
only to awaken and find that his stomach is empty.13
It will be like a thirsty man dreaming that he is drinking,
only to awaken and find that he is still weak and his thirst unquenched.14
So it will be for the horde from all the nations
that fight against Mount Zion.
God’s People are Spiritually Insensitive
9 You will be shocked and amazed!15
You are totally blind!16
They are drunk,17 but not because of wine;
they stagger,18 but not because of beer.
10 For the Lord has poured out on you
a strong urge to sleep deeply.19
He has shut your eyes (the prophets),
and covered your heads (the seers).

11 To you this entire prophetic revelation20 is like words in a sealed scroll. When they hand it to one who can read21 and say, “Read this,” he responds, “I can’t, because it is sealed.” 12 Or when they hand the scroll to one who can’t read22 and say, “Read this,” he says, “I can’t read.”23

13 The sovereign master24 says,
These people say they are loyal to me;25
they say wonderful things about me,26
but they are not really loyal to me.27
Their worship consists of
nothing but man-made ritual.28
14 Therefore I will again do an amazing thing for these people
an absolutely extraordinary deed.29
Wise men will have nothing to say,
the sages will have no explanations.”30
15 Those who try to hide their plans from the Lord are as good as dead,31
who do their work in secret and boast,32
“Who sees us? Who knows what we’re doing?33
16 Your thinking is perverse!34
Should the potter be regarded as clay?35
Should the thing made say36 about its maker, “He didn’t make me”?
Or should the pottery say about the potter, “He doesn’t understand?
Changes are Coming
17 In just a very short time37
Lebanon will turn into an orchard,
and the orchard will be considered a forest.38
18 At that time39 the deaf will be able to hear words read from a scroll,
and the eyes of the blind will be able to see through deep darkness.40
19 The downtrodden will again rejoice in the Lord;
the poor among humankind will take delight41 in the Holy One of Israel.42
20 For tyrants will disappear,
those who taunt will vanish,
and all those who love to do wrong will be eliminated43
21 those who bear false testimony against a person,44
who entrap the one who arbitrates at the city gate45
and deprive the innocent of justice by making false charges.46
22 So this is what the Lord, the one who delivered Abraham, says to the family of Jacob:47
“Jacob will no longer be ashamed;
their faces will no longer show their embarrassment.48
23 For when they see their children,
whom I will produce among them,49
they will honor50 my name.
They will honor the Holy One of Jacob;51
they will respect52 the God of Israel.
24 Those who stray morally will gain understanding;53
those who complain will acquire insight.54
129:1tn Heb “Woe [to] Ariel.” The meaning of the name “Ariel” is uncertain. The name may mean “altar hearth” (see v. 2) or, if compound, “lion of God.” The name is used here as a title for Mount Zion/Jerusalem (see v. 8). 229:1tn Heb “the town where David camped.” The verb חָנָה (khanah, “camp”) probably has the nuance “lay siege to” here. See v. 3. Another option is to take the verb in the sense of “lived, settled.” 329:1tn Heb “Add year to year, let your festivals occur in cycles.” This is probably a sarcastic exhortation to the people to keep up their religious rituals, which will not prevent the coming judgment. See J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:527. 429:2tn The term אֲרִיאֵל (’ariel, “Ariel”) is the word translated “altar hearth” here. The point of the simile is not entirely clear. Perhaps the image likens Jerusalem’s coming crisis to a sacrificial fire. 529:3tc The Hebrew text has כַדּוּר (khadur, “like a circle”), i.e., “like an encircling wall.” Some emend this phrase to כְּדָוִד (kÿdavid, “like David”), which is supported by the LXX (see v. 1). However, the rendering in the LXX could have arisen from a confusion of the dalet (ד) and resh (ר). 629:3tn The meaning of מֻצָּב (mutsav) is not certain. Because of the parallelism (note “siege works”), some translate “towers.” The noun is derived from נָצַב (natsav, “take one’s stand”) and may refer to the troops stationed outside the city to prevent entrance or departure. 729:4tn Heb “from the ground” (so NIV, NCV). 829:4tn Heb “and from the dust your word will be low.” 929:4tn Heb “and your voice will be like a ritual pit from the earth.” The Hebrew אוֹב (’ov, “ritual pit”) refers to a pit used by a magician to conjure up underworld spirits. See the note on “incantations” in 8:19. Here the word is used metonymically for the voice that emerges from such a pit. 1029:4tn Heb “and from the dust your word will chirp.” The words “as if muttering an incantation” are supplied in the translation for clarification. See the parallelism and 8:19. 1129:5tn Or “violent men”; cf. NASB “the ruthless ones.” 1229:6tn Heb “from the Lord who commands armies [traditionally, the Lord of hosts] there will be visitation.” The third feminine singular passive verb form תִּפָּקֵד (tippaqed, “she/it will be visited”) is used here in an impersonal sense. See GKC 459 §144.b. 1329:8tn Or “that he [or “his appetite”] is unsatisfied.” 1429:8tn Or “that he is faint and that he [or “his appetite”] longs [for water].” 1529:9tn The form הִתְמַהְמְהוּ (hitmahmÿhu) is a Hitpalpel imperative from מָהַהּ (mahah, “hesitate”). If it is retained, one might translate “halt and be amazed.” The translation assumes an emendation to הִתַּמְּהוּ (hittammÿhu), a Hitpael imperative from תָּמַה (tamah, “be amazed”). In this case, the text, like Hab 1:5, combines the Hitpael and Qal imperatival forms of תָּמַה (tamah). A literal translation might be “Shock yourselves and be shocked!” The repetition of sound draws attention to the statement. The imperatives here have the force of an emphatic assertion. On this use of the imperative in Hebrew, see GKC 324 §110.c and IBHS 572 §34.4c. 1629:9tn Heb “Blind yourselves and be blind!” The Hitpalpel and Qal imperatival forms of שָׁעַע (shaa’, “be blind”) are combined to draw attention to the statement. The imperatives have the force of an emphatic assertion. 1729:9tc Some prefer to emend the perfect form of the verb to an imperative (e.g., NAB, NCV, NRSV), since the people are addressed in the immediately preceding and following contexts. 1829:9tc Some prefer to emend the perfect form of the verb to an imperative (e.g., NAB, NCV, NRSV), since the people are addressed in the immediately preceding and following contexts. 1929:10tn Heb “a disposition [or “spirit”] of deep sleep.” Through this mixed metaphor (sleep is likened to a liquid which one pours and in turn symbolizes spiritual dullness) the prophet emphasizes that God himself has given the people over to their spiritual insensitivity as a form of judgment. 2029:11tn Heb “vision” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV). 2129:11tn Heb “one who knows a/the scroll.” 2229:12tn Heb “and if the scroll is handed to one who does not know a scroll.” 2329:12tn Heb “I do not know a scroll.” 2429:13tn The Hebrew term translated “sovereign master” here is אֲדֹנָי (’adonai). 2529:13tn Heb “Because these people draw near to me with their mouth.” 2629:13tn Heb “and with their lips they honor me.” 2729:13tn Heb “but their heart is far from me.” The heart is viewed here as the seat of the will, from which genuine loyalty derives. 2829:13tn Heb “their fear of me is a commandment of men that has been taught.” 2929:14tn Heb “Therefore I will again do something amazing with these people, an amazing deed, an amazing thing.” This probably refers to the amazing transformation predicted in vv. 17-24, which will follow the purifying judgment implied in vv. 15-16. 3029:14tn Heb “the wisdom of their wise ones will perish, the discernment of their discerning ones will keep hidden.” 3129:15tn Heb “Woe [to] those who deeply hide counsel from the Lord.” This probably alludes to political alliances made without seeking the Lord’s guidance. See 30:1-2 and 31:1. 3229:15tn Heb “and their works are in darkness and they say.” 3329:15tn The rhetorical questions suggest the answer, “no one.” They are confident that their deeds are hidden from others, including God. 3429:16tn Heb “your overturning.” The predicate is suppressed in this exclamation. The idea is, “O your perversity! How great it is!” See GKC 470 §147.c. The people “overturn” all logic by thinking their authority supersedes God’s. 3529:16tn The expected answer to this rhetorical question is “of course not.” On the interrogative use of אִם (’im), see BDB 50 s.v. 3629:16tn Heb “that the thing made should say.” 3729:17tn The Hebrew text phrases this as a rhetorical question, “Is it not yet a little, a short [time]?” 3829:17sn The meaning of this verse is debated, but it seems to depict a reversal in fortunes. The mighty forest of Lebanon (symbolic of the proud and powerful, see 2:13; 10:34) will be changed into a common orchard, while the common orchard (symbolic of the oppressed and lowly) will grow into a great forest. See J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:538. 3929:18tn Or “In that day” (KJV). 4029:18tn Heb “and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.”sn Perhaps this depicts the spiritual transformation of the once spiritually insensitive nation (see vv. 10-12, cf. also 6:9-10). 4129:19tn Or “will rejoice” (NIV, NCV, NLT). 4229:19sn See the note on the phrase “the Holy One of Israel” in 1:4. 4329:20tn Heb “and all the watchers of wrong will be cut off.” 4429:21tn Heb “the ones who make a man a sinner with a word.” The Hiphil of חָטָא (khata’) here has a delocutive sense: “declare a man sinful/guilty.” 4529:21sn Legal disputes were resolved at the city gate, where the town elders met. See Amos 5:10. 4629:21tn Heb “and deprive by emptiness the innocent.” 4729:22tn Heb “So this is what the Lord says to the house of Jacob, the one who ransomed Abraham.” The relative pronoun must refer back to “the Lord,” not to the immediately preceding “Jacob.” It is uncertain to what event in Abraham’s experience this refers. Perhaps the name “Abraham” stands here by metonymy for his descendants through Jacob. If so, the Exodus is in view. 4829:22tn Heb “and his face will no longer be pale.” 4929:23tn Heb “for when he sees his children, the work of my hands in his midst.” 5029:23tn Or “treat as holy” (also in the following line); NASB, NRSV “will sanctify.” 5129:23sn Holy One of Jacob is similar to the phrase “Holy One of Israel” common throughout Isaiah; see the sn at Isa 1:4. 5229:23tn Or “fear,” in the sense of “stand in awe of.” 5329:24tn Heb “and the ones who stray in spirit will know understanding.” 5429:24tn Heb “will learn instruction”; cf. NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT “will accept instruction.”