Isaiah 28

The Lord Saves Israel and Judah[a]

Chapter 28

Against Samaria

1 Woe to the proud garlands of Ephraim’s drunkards
and to the fading flowers of its glorious beauty,
the crowning glory of a nation of men
overcome with wine and lying in the streets.
2 But behold, the Lord has one in his service
who is mighty and strong,
and who, like a storm of hail,
like a destroying tempest,
like a torrent of rain and raging flood waters,
will hurl them violently to the ground.
3 The majestic garlands of Ephraim’s drunkards
will be trampled underfoot.
4 And the fading blooms of its glorious beauty,
at the head of the lush valley,
will be like early figs before the summer;
whoever sees them will pluck them
and immediately consume them.
5 On that day the Lord of hosts
will be a crown of glory
and a beautiful diadem
to the remnant of his people,
6 a spirit of justice
to the one who sits in judgment,
and a spirit of strength to those
who repel the enemy at the city gates.

Against Judah

7 These also stagger from wine
and stumble due to strong drink.
Priests and prophets are confused because of liquor;
alcohol leaves them unable to think clearly
or to pronounce fair judgments.
8 Every table is covered with filthy vomit;
no place is clean.
9 “To whom will the prophet impart knowledge?
To whom will he explain his message?
To babies who are newly weaned,
to those just taken from the breast?
10 With him we are given
command after command, command after command,
rule after rule, rule after rule,
here a little, there a little.”[b]
11 Now, with stammering lips
and in an alien tongue,
he will speak to this people,
12 to whom he has said,
“This is the place for rest;
give rest to the weary.
This is the place for repose.”
However, they would not listen.
13 Therefore, to them the word of the Lord will be,
“Command after command, command after command,
rule after rule, rule after rule,
here a little, there a little.”
14 Therefore, listen to the word of the Lord,
you arrogant rulers of this people in Jerusalem.
15 Proudly you have boasted,
“We have made a covenant with death
and entered into a pact with the netherworld.
And so, when the overwhelming scourge occurs,
it will not afflict us.
For we have made lies our refuge
and taken shelter in falsehood.”
16 Therefore, the Lord God
has this to say to you in response:
Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion,
a stone that has been tested,
a precious cornerstone as a firm foundation;
those who place their trust in it will not falter.
17 And I will make justice the measuring line,
with righteousness as the plumb line.
Hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and flood waters will submerge your hiding place.
18 Then your covenant with death will be annulled
and your pact with Sheol will not survive.
When the raging waters roar forth,
you will be overwhelmed by them.
19 As often as the flood sweeps through,
it will engulf you,
sweeping over you day and night,
as terror conveys the message clearly.
20 For your bed will be too short
to enable you to stretch out,
and the blanket will be too narrow
to cover you sufficiently.
21 Then the Lord will rise up as on Mount Perazim,
and he will rage as he did in the Valley of Gibeon,
to accomplish his work, his mysterious work,
and to perform his deed, his strange deed.[c]
22 Therefore, cease your arrogance,
or your bonds will be further tightened.
For the Lord God of hosts has revealed to me
the destruction he has decreed for the entire earth.
23 Listen carefully to my words;
pay close attention to what I have to say.
24 Does the plowman spend his entire time plowing,
breaking up and harrowing his land?
25 Once he has leveled its surface,
does he not scatter the fennel and sow cummin,
and plant wheat and barley,
with spelt around the borders?
26 God has instructed him in this
and trained him correctly.
27 Fennel must not be threshed with a sledge,
nor is a cartwheel rolled over cummin.
28 Grain must be crushed for bread,
but it cannot be done so to excess;
one maneuvers the cartwheels and the horses
but is careful not to grind it too fine.
29 All this knowledge comes from the Lord of hosts
whose counsel is wonderful
and whose wisdom is great.


  1. Isaiah 28:1 The following oracles mark, as it were, the advance of the troops which, toward the end of the eighth century, extended Assyrian dominion toward the western edge of the Fertile Crescent and as far as Egypt. The Hebrew people involved themselves in a dangerous game of alliances. When invasion threatens, Isaiah reminds them that it is in faith that they will find true courage and that amid the whirlwind of events, there is no security except in God. Some parts of this collection are from a later period.
  2. Isaiah 28:10 In Hebrew, this verse (and v. 13) is a series of monosyllables that imitate the babbling of a drunkard: sau lasau, sau lasau, kau lakau, kau lakau, etc.
  3. Isaiah 28:21 Recalls David’s victory over the Philistines (2 Sam 5:17-25).

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