The Song of the Vineyard[a]
1 Now let me sing for my beloved
the song of my friend concerning his vineyard.
My beloved had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside.
2 He dug it, cleared it of stones,
and planted it with choice red vines.
In its midst he built a watchtower
and also hewed out a winepress.
He expected it to yield a rich crop of grapes,
but the only thing it brought forth was wild grapes.
3 And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah,
I ask you to judge between me and my vineyard.
4 What more could I have done for my vineyard
that I did not do?
When I expected it to yield choice grapes,
why did it bring forth wild grapes?
5 Now listen to me as I tell you
what I am planning to do to my vineyard.
I will take away its hedge
and use it for grazing.
I will knock down its wall
and let it be trampled upon.
6 I will let it go to waste;
it will be neither pruned nor hoed,
but left overgrown with briars and thorns.
I will also command the clouds
not to allow any rain to fall upon it.
7 The vineyard of the Lord of hosts
is the house of Israel,
and the people of Judah
are the plant he cherished.
He expected justice but found bloodshed;
he expected righteousness but heard cries of distress.
The Doom of Sinners
8 Woe to you who add house to house
and join field to field
until there is no further space remaining
and you are left to dwell alone
in the midst of the land.
9 The Lord of hosts in my hearing
has sworn this solemn oath:
Many houses will be left desolate,
large and fine mansions
with no one to inhabit them.
10 For ten acres of vineyard
will yield only one barrel,
and ten bushels of seed
will yield only a single bushel.
11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning
to imbibe strong drink,
and who linger far into the night
inflamed with wine.
12 Their feasts are marked with harps and lyres,
tambourines and flutes and wine.
But they never give thought to the deeds of the Lord,
or note what his hands have accomplished.
13 Therefore, my people shall end up in exile
because they have no knowledge of my deeds.
Their nobles are dying of hunger
and their masses are parched with thirst.
14 As a result, the netherworld has increased its appetite
and opened its jaws to an immeasurable extent,
swallowing the nobility of Jerusalem and her masses,
her throngs and all who exult in her.
15 People are bowed down, everyone is brought low,
and the eyes of the haughty are humbled.
16 But the Lord of hosts is exalted by his judgment,
and by righteousness the holy God has displayed his holiness.
17 Lambs will graze there as in their pasture,
and yearlings will feed among the ruins.
18 Woe to those who drag iniquity along
with the cords of perversity,
and who drag sin along
as though with cart ropes;
19 woe to those who say, “Let the Lord make haste
and speed up his work that we may see it;
let the Holy One of Israel
be brought to fulfillment
so that we may know it.”
20 Woe to those who call good what is evil
and call evil what is good,
who classify as darkness what is light
and designate as light what is darkness,
who make sweet what is bitter
and make bitter what is sweet.
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
and consider themselves to be prudent.
22 Woe to those who are unmatched in their consumption of wine
and unsurpassed in mixing drinks,
23 who accept bribes to acquit the guilty
and deny justice to the innocent.
24 As tongues of fire devour the stubble,
and as dry grass shrivels in the flames,
so their root will decay
and their blossoms will be scattered like dust;
for they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts
and scorned the word of the Holy One of Israel.
25 Therefore, the anger of the Lord
blazed forth against his people;
he raised his hand against them
and struck them down.
The mountains quaked,
and their corpses lay like refuse in the streets.
But despite all this
his anger has not been sated,
and his hand is still stretched out.
26 He will deliver a signal to a far-distant nation
and summon them from the ends of the earth;
they will respond swiftly without any delay.[c]
27 None of them are weary, none of them stumble,
no one slumbers or sleeps.
None of them have their belts unfastened
or sandals with a broken strap.
28 Their arrows are sharpened
and all their bows are bent.
The hoofs of their horses seem like flint,
and their chariot wheels are like a whirlwind.
29 Their roar is like that of a lion;
they growl like young lions.
They roar as they seize their prey,
and no one can prevent them from carrying it off.
30 They will roar over it on that day,
similar to the roaring of the sea.
And if anyone looks at the land,
he will behold only darkness and distress,
with the light fading at the approaching clouds.
- Isaiah 5:1 The image of the beloved vineyard that is ravaged is often used by the prophets (Jer 2:21; Ezek 15:1-8; etc.). Jesus, too, will like this comparison (Mt 21:33-34) and will describe himself as the true vine whose branches will be tended by the vinedresser, his Father (Jn 15).
- Isaiah 5:26 The Assyrian invaders arrive; the forces assembled under the banner of the lion, the emblem of Assyria (see v. 29), are irresistible.
- Isaiah 5:26 To summon warriors, a banner was raised on the top of a hill and a horn was sounded.