1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Isaiah 11:8

ESV The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
NIV The infant will play near the cobra's den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper's nest.
NASB The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.
CSB An infant will play beside the cobra's pit, and a toddler will put his hand into a snake's den.
NLT The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.
KJV And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.

What does Isaiah 11:8 mean?

Isaiah is telling his audience about the nature of the world during the rule of a mysterious future king of Israel. This King will, in fact, be ruler over all the earth at some point (Isaiah 11:4). In this ruler's kingdom, both predator and prey animals will lie down together and eat together without bloodshed or death. They will live at peace together (Isaiah 11:6–7).

Now the prophet adds that a nursing child and weaned child will play near deadly snakes. The nursing child, of course, would be quite young, just a baby. The weaned child would be a little older. In either case, the idea of such a thing is enough to make any parent nervous. Our instinct would be to run to that child's rescue because we know the snake's instinct would be to strike with deadly force.

Christian commentators suggest two possible ways to read Isaiah's meaning in this verse and the previous verses (Isaiah 11:6–7). One is that the nature of animals will be changed completely in the Messiah's kingdom. Another is that Isaiah is using animals to represent the relationships between nations and peoples on the earth.

At the very end of history, in the new heaven and new earth, there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:1–5). Creation, including the animal kingdom, has existed in frustration and futility. This is because of human sin, and the world longs to be freed from the bondage to corruption (Romans 8:19–21).

Is that the moment Isaiah pictures here? Or does he mean to show that under the Messiah's government, before the new heaven and earth, conflict will cease between nations and people-groups? Even the most innocent peoples will be safe from predatory nations because the Messiah will not allow any wickedness to exist on the earth.
What is the Gospel?
Download the app: