24:1 Look, the Lord is ready to devastate the earth
and leave it in ruins;
he will mar its surface
and scatter its inhabitants.
the master as well as the servant, 2
the elegant lady as well as the female attendant, 3
the seller as well as the buyer, 4
the borrower as well as the lender, 5
the creditor as well as the debtor. 6
24:3 The earth will be completely devastated
and thoroughly ransacked.
For the Lord has decreed this judgment. 7
the world shrivels up and withers;
the prominent people of the earth 10 fade away.
for they have violated laws,
disregarded the regulation, 13
and broken the permanent treaty. 14
its inhabitants pay for their guilt. 16
This is why the inhabitants of the earth disappear, 17
and are reduced to just a handful of people. 18
24:7 The new wine dries up,
the vines shrivel up,
all those who like to celebrate 19 groan.
the revelry of those who celebrate comes to a halt,
the happy sound of the harp ceases.
the beer tastes bitter to those who drink it.
all of the houses are shut up tight. 23
all joy turns to sorrow; 25
celebrations disappear from the earth. 26
the gate is reduced to rubble. 28
among the nations.
It will be like when they beat an olive tree,
and just a few olives are left at the end of the harvest. 30
they praise 32 the majesty of the Lord in the west.
the Just One is majestic. 37
But I 38 say, “I’m wasting away! I’m wasting away! I’m doomed!
Deceivers deceive, deceivers thoroughly deceive!” 39
24:17 Terror, pit, and snare
are ready to overtake you inhabitants of the earth! 40
24:18 The one who runs away from the sound of the terror
will fall into the pit; 41
the one who climbs out of the pit,
will be trapped by the snare.
and the foundations of the earth shake.
24:19 The earth is broken in pieces,
the earth is ripped to shreds,
the earth shakes violently. 44
it will sway back and forth like a hut in a windstorm. 46
Its sin will weigh it down,
and it will fall and never get up again.
the heavenly forces in the heavens 49
and the earthly kings on the earth.
locked up in a prison,
for the Lord who commands armies will rule 56
on Mount Zion in Jerusalem 57
in the presence of his assembly, in majestic splendor. 58
[24:4] 8 tn Some prefer to read “land” here, but the word pair אֶרֶץ/תֵּבֵל (erets/tevel [see the corresponding term in the parallel line]) elsewhere clearly designates the earth/world (see 1 Sam 2:8; 1 Chr 16:30; Job 37;12; Pss 19:4; 24:1; 33:8; 89:11; 90:2; 96:13; 98:9; Prov 8:26, 31; Isa 14:16-17; 34:1; Jer 10:12; 51:15; Lam 4:12). According to L. Stadelmann, תבל designates “the habitable part of the world” (The Hebrew Conception of the World [AnBib], 130).
[24:4] 10 tn Heb “the height of the people of the earth.” The translation assumes an emendation of the singular form מְרוֹם (mÿrom, “height of”) to the plural construct מְרֹמֵי (mÿrome, “high ones of”; note the plural verb at the beginning of the line), and understands the latter as referring to the prominent people of human society.
[24:5] sn For a lengthy discussion of the identity of this covenant/treaty, see R. Chisholm, “The ‘Everlasting Covenant’ and the ‘City of Chaos’: Intentional Ambiguity and Irony in Isaiah 24,” CTR 6 (1993): 237-53. In this context, where judgment comes upon both the pagan nations and God’s covenant community, the phrase “permanent treaty” is intentionally ambiguous. For the nations this treaty is the Noahic mandate of Gen 9:1-7 with its specific stipulations and central regulation (Gen 9:7). By shedding blood, the warlike nations violated this treaty, which promotes population growth and prohibits murder. For Israel, which was also guilty of bloodshed (see Isa 1:15, 21; 4:4), this “permanent treaty” would refer more specifically to the Mosaic Law and its regulations prohibiting murder (Exod 20:13; Num 35:6-34), which are an extension of the Noahic mandate.
[24:6] 15 sn Ancient Near Eastern treaties often had “curses,” or threatened judgments, attached to them. (See Deut 28 for a biblical example of such curses.) The party or parties taking an oath of allegiance acknowledged that disobedience would activate these curses, which typically threatened loss of agricultural fertility as depicted in the following verses.
[24:6] 17 tn BDB 359 s.v. חָרַר derives the verb חָרוּ (kharu) from חָרַר (kharar, “burn”), but HALOT 351 s.v. II חרה understands a hapax legomenon חָרָה (kharah, “to diminish in number,” a homonym of חָרָה) here, relating it to an alleged Arabic cognate meaning “to decrease.” The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa has חורו, perhaps understanding the root as חָוַר (khavar, “grow pale”; see Isa 29:22 and HALOT 299 s.v. I חור).
[24:10] 22 tn Heb “the city of chaos” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV). Isaiah uses the term תֹּהוּ (tohu) rather frequently of things (like idols) that are empty and worthless (see BDB 1062 s.v.), so the word might characterize the city as rebellious or morally worthless. However, in this context, which focuses on the effects of divine judgment, it probably refers to the ruined or worthless condition in which the city is left (note the use of the word in Isa 34:11). For a discussion of the identity of this city, see R. Chisholm, “The ‘Everlasting Covenant’ and the ‘City of Chaos’: Intentional Ambiguity and Irony in Isaiah 24,” CTR 6 (1993): 237-53. In the context of universal judgment depicted in Isa 24, this city represents all the nations and cities of the world which, like Babylon of old and the powers/cities mentioned in chapters 13-23, rebel against God’s authority. Behind the stereotypical language one can detect various specific manifestations of this symbolic and paradigmatic city, including Babylon, Moab, and Jerusalem, all of which are alluded or referred to in chapters 24-27.
[24:15] 33 tc The Hebrew text reads literally, “in the lights,” interpreted by some to mean “in the region of light,” referring to the east. Some scholars have suggested the emendation of בָּאֻרִים (ba’urim) to בְּאִיֵּי הַיָּם (bÿ’iyyey hayyam, “along the seacoasts”), a phrase that is repeated in the next line. In this case, the two lines form synonymous parallelism. If one retains the MT reading (as above), “in the east” and “along the seacoasts” depict the two ends of the earth to refer to all the earth (as a merism).
[24:16] tn Verse 16b is a classic example of Hebrew wordplay. In the first line (“I’m wasting away…”) four consecutive words end with hireq yod ( ִי); in the second line all forms are derived from the root בָּגַד (bagad). The repetition of sound draws attention to the prophet’s lament.
[24:17] 40 tn Heb “[are] upon you, O inhabitant of the earth.” The first line of v. 17 provides another classic example of Hebrew wordplay. The names of the three instruments of judgment (פָח,פַחַת,פַּחַד [pakhad, fakhat, fakh]) all begin with the letters פח (peh-khet) and the first two end in dental consonants (ת/ד, tet/dalet). Once again the repetition of sound draws attention to the statement and contributes to the theme of the inescapability of judgment. As their similar-sounding names suggest, terror, pit, and snare are allies in destroying the objects of divine wrath.
[24:19] 44 tn Once more repetition is used to draw attention to a statement. In the Hebrew text each lines ends with אֶרֶץ (’erets, “earth”). Each line also uses a Hitpolel verb form from a geminate root preceded by an emphatic infinitive absolute.
[24:21] 49 tn Heb “the host of the height in the height.” The “host of the height/heaven” refers to the heavenly luminaries (stars and planets, see, among others, Deut 4:19; 17:3; 2 Kgs 17:16; 21:3, 5; 23:4-5; 2 Chr 33:3, 5) that populate the divine/heavenly assembly in mythological and prescientific Israelite thought (see Job 38:7; Isa 14:13).
[24:22] 50 tn Heb “they will be gathered [in] a gathering [as] a prisoner in a cistern.” It is tempting to eliminate אֲסֵפָה (’asefah, “a gathering”) as dittographic or as a gloss, but sound repetition is one of the main characteristics of the style of this section of the chapter.
[24:22] 52 tn Heb “visited” (so KJV, ASV). This verse can mean to visit for good or for evil. The translation assumes the latter, based on v. 21a. However, BDB 823 s.v. פָּקַד B.Niph.2 suggests the meaning “visit graciously” here, in which case one might translate “they will be released.”