Old Testament

Isaiah 28
A Warning to the Northern Kingdom
281Woe to drunken Ephraim's proud crown,
to the fading flower of its glorious beauty,
on the peak that overlooks a fertile valley.
Woe to those who are overcome with wine!
2Look, the Lord has someone who is strong and mighty.
Like a hailstorm,
like a destructive windstorm,
like a hurricane that drives surging waters,
he will throw them down to the earth with his own hand.
3Drunken Ephraim's proud crown will be trampled underfoot.
4The fading flower of its glorious beauty, on the peak overlooking a fertile valley,
will be like the early figs before summer,
which someone picks and swallows as soon as he sees them.
5On that day the Lord of Armies will become a glorious crown
and a beautifully braided headband for the remnant of his people.
6He will provide a spirit of justice to the one who sits in judgment,
and strength for those who turn back the battle at the gate.
The Drunken Prophets and Priests
7They stagger into error because of wine,
and they stumble off the way because of beer.
The priests and prophets stagger with beer,
and they are dizzy from wine.
They stumble from beer.
They stagger when they see visions.
They reel when they render judgment.
8All their tables are covered with vomit.
There is not a spot without filth.
9They[] say:
Who is he trying to teach?
Who needs his instruction?
A baby who has just been weaned from milk?
An infant just taken from the breast?
10They say:
Law by law, law by law,
rule by rule, rule by rule,[]
a little here, a little there.
11So the Lord will speak to this people
with barbarous lips and in a foreign tongue.
12He said to them,
“This is the resting place.
Let the weary rest.
This is the place to be refreshed,”
but they would not listen.
13That is why to them the word of the Lord will be:
Law by law, law by law,
rule by rule, rule by rule,[]
a little here, a little there.
As a result they will try to walk,
but they will fall backwards.
They will be hurt, trapped, and taken.
A Covenant With Death
14So now, hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers,
who rule this people in Jerusalem.
15You said:
We have made a covenant with death,
an agreement with the grave.[]
When the punishing whip[] comes, it will not touch us,
for we have made lies our refuge,
and we have hidden ourselves behind falsehood.
A Cornerstone for Zion
16Therefore, this is what the Lord God says:
Look, I am laying a stone in Zion as a foundation,
a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone to provide a sure foundation.
Whoever believes will not be put to shame.[]
17I will make justice the measuring line
and righteousness the plumb line.
A hailstorm will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and floodwaters will wash away your shelter.
18Your covenant with death will be canceled,
and your agreement with the grave will not stand.
When the punishing whip comes,
you will be beaten down by it.
19Every time it comes, it will carry you away.
It could come any morning, any day, any night.
If you understand this message, you will be utterly terrified:
20The bed is too short to lie on,
and the blanket is too narrow to cover you.
21For the Lord will rise up as he did on Mount Perazim.
He will be enraged, as he was in the valley of Gibeon,
to do his work, his strange work,
and to accomplish his task, his foreign task.
22Now stop your scornful attitude, or your chains will be made stronger,
because I have heard a decree of destruction from the Lord, the Lord of Armies,
against the whole earth.
A Parable
23Listen! Hear my voice.
Pay attention to what I say.
24Does the plowman keep plowing all day in order to plant?
Does he keep tilling the soil and turning over the dirt?
25When he has leveled the surface,
doesn't he plant the dill
and scatter cumin seed?
He plants the wheat in one place,
barley in another field,
and spelt along the edge.
26His God instructs him
and teaches him good judgment.
27Of course he does not thresh the dill with a threshing sledge,
nor does he roll the wheel of a cart over the cumin.
No, he beats the dill with a stick
and strikes the cumin with a staff.
28Flour for bread needs to be ground,
so he does not thresh endlessly.
He drives the wheels of his threshing cart over it
and even his team of horses,
but he does not pulverize it.
29This also springs forth from the Lord of Armies.
He gives amazing advice.
He provides great guidance.


  • 28:9 That is, the drunken priests and prophets who mock Isaiah
  • 28:10 The Hebrew text reads sav lasav sav lasav kav lakav kav lakav. It is possible that these are meaningless sounds imitating a baby's babble and mocking the prophet's words and rejecting God's laws.
  • 28:13 The Hebrew is the same as in verse 10, but now the Lord uses the words of the mockers as a warning about the foreign speech of the invading Assyrians.
  • 28:15 Hebrew sheol
  • 28:15 Or overwhelming judgment. The two words in this phrase do not match well. The noun means whip. The adjective means flooding. Also in verse 18.
  • 28:16 The translation here follows the Greek text. The Hebrew and Latin read will not be in haste.