Verse

Isaiah chapter 5

English Standard Version

1Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. 2He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. 3And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 4What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? 5And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. 6I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry! 8Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room, and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land. 9The LORD of hosts has sworn in my hearing: “Surely many houses shall be desolate, large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant. 10For ten acres of vineyard shall yield but one bath, and a homer of seed shall yield but an ephah.” 11Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them! 12They have lyre and harp, tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts, but they do not regard the deeds of the LORD, or see the work of his hands. 13Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge; their honored men go hungry, and their multitude is parched with thirst. 14Therefore Sheol has enlarged its appetite and opened its mouth beyond measure, and the nobility of Jerusalem and her multitude will go down, her revelers and he who exults in her. 15Man is humbled, and each one is brought low, and the eyes of the haughty are brought low. 16But the LORD of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness. 17Then shall the lambs graze as in their pasture, and nomads shall eat among the ruins of the rich. 18Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood, who draw sin as with cart ropes, 19who say: “Let him be quick, let him speed his work that we may see it; let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near, and let it come, that we may know it!” 20Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! 22Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink, 23who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right! 24Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. 25Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people, and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them, and the mountains quaked; and their corpses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still. 26He will raise a signal for nations far away, and whistle for them from the ends of the earth; and behold, quickly, speedily they come! 27None is weary, none stumbles, none slumbers or sleeps, not a waistband is loose, not a sandal strap broken; 28their arrows are sharp, all their bows bent, their horses’ hoofs seem like flint, and their wheels like the whirlwind. 29Their roaring is like a lion, like young lions they roar; they growl and seize their prey; they carry it off, and none can rescue. 30They will growl over it on that day, like the growling of the sea. And if one looks to the land, behold, darkness and distress; and the light is darkened by its clouds.
New International Version

New American Standard Bible

1Let me sing now for my beloved A song of my beloved about His vineyard. My beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. 2He dug it all around, cleared it of stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it, And also carved out a wine vat in it; Then He expected it to produce good grapes, But it produced only worthless ones. 3'And now, you inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, Judge between Me and My vineyard. 4What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones? 5So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground. 6I will lay it waste; It will not be pruned nor hoed, But briars and thorns will come up. I will also command the clouds not to rain on it.' 7For the vineyard of the Lord of armies is the house of Israel, And the people of Judah are His delightful plant. So He waited for justice, but behold, there was bloodshed; For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help. 8Woe to those who attach house to house and join field to field, Until there is no more room, And you alone are a landowner in the midst of the land! 9In my ears the Lord of armies has sworn, 'Many houses shall certainly become desolate, Even great and fine ones, without occupants. 10For ten acres of vineyard will yield only one bath of wine, And a homer of seed will yield only an ephah of grain.' 11Woe to those who rise early in the morning so that they may pursue intoxicating drink, Who stay up late in the evening so that wine may inflame them! 12Their banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute, and by wine; But they do not pay attention to the deeds of the Lord, Nor do they consider the work of His hands. 13Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge; And their nobles are famished, And their multitude is parched with thirst. 14Therefore Sheol has enlarged its throat and opened its mouth beyond measure; And Jerusalem’s splendor, her multitude, her noise of revelry, and the jubilant within her, descend into it. 15So the common people will be humbled and the person of importance brought low, The eyes of the haughty also will be brought low. 16But the Lord of armies will be exalted in judgment, And the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness. 17Then the lambs will graze as in their pasture, And strangers will eat in the ruins of the wealthy. 18Woe to those who drag wrongdoing with the cords of deceit, And sin as if with cart ropes; 19Who say, 'Let Him hurry, let Him do His work quickly, so that we may see it; And let the plan of the Holy One of Israel approach And come to pass, so that we may know it!' 20Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight! 22Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine, And valiant men in mixing intoxicating drink, 23Who declare the wicked innocent for a bribe, And take away the rights of the ones who are in the right! 24Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes stubble, And dry grass collapses in the flame, So their root will become like rot, and their blossom blow away like dust; For they have rejected the Law of the Lord of armies, And discarded the word of the Holy One of Israel. 25For this reason the anger of the Lord has burned against His people, And He has stretched out His hand against them and struck them. And the mountains quaked, and their corpses lay like refuse in the middle of the streets. Despite all this, His anger is not spent, But His hand is still stretched out. 26He will also lift up a flag to the distant nation, And whistle for it from the ends of the earth; And behold, it will come with speed swiftly. 27No one in it is tired or stumbles, No one slumbers or sleeps; Nor is the undergarment at his waist loosened, Nor his sandal strap broken. 28 Its arrows are sharp and all its bows are bent; The hoofs of its horses seem like flint, and its chariot wheels like a storm wind. 29Its roaring is like a lioness, and it roars like young lions; It growls as it seizes the prey And carries it off with no one to save it. 30And it will roar against it on that day like the roaring of the sea. If one looks across to the land, behold, there is darkness and distress; Even the light is darkened by its clouds.
Christian Standard Bible

New Living Translation

King James Version

18Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope: 19That say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it! 20Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! 22Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: 23Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! 24Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. 25Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 26And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly: 27None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken: 28Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses' hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind: 29Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions: yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it. 30And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.

What does Isaiah chapter 5 mean?

Isaiah 5 begins with a parable in the form of a song. Isaiah sings to his "beloved" about a vineyard. His beloved is revealed to be the Lord, and the vineyard will turn out to be the people of Israel (Isaiah 5:1–7).

Set atop a fertile hill, Isaiah's beloved did the extensive work required to develop his vineyard. He dug out all the stones and planted the vines. He crafted a watchtower in the middle, and he created a wine vat out of the rock. Then he cultivated the vineyard for the two years it takes to produce the first crop of grapes (Isaiah 5:2).

Finally, the grapes came in, but they were sour, making them useless for making wine. Isaiah's beloved called out to the men of Jerusalem and Judah asking what he should have done differently to create usable grapes. Then he declared his plans to lay the vineyard to waste. He would remove the hedge and the wall and allow the animals to come in and eat and destroy the vines. He would not work the ground, allowing the thorns to take root and grow. He would even direct the clouds not to rain on his vineyard (Isaiah 5:3–6).

Next, Isaiah reveals that Israel is the vineyard of the Lord. God's intention was for the people of Judah to be a produce good fruit. Instead of yielding the good grapes of justice, they have produced bloodshed. His people have provoked outcries from those who are mistreated instead of growing righteousness. (Isaiah 5:7)

What follows is the prophet describing a series of "woes" upon Judah and Jerusalem (Isaiah 5:8–22). The Hebrew word translated "woe" is very similar to the English sounds such as "ahh!" or "ohh!" It expresses sadness, pain, or grief. What Israel will experience will be traumatic.

The first "woe" is to those who buy up their neighbor's fields and houses to isolate themselves. They separate from their community in beautiful mansions on great tracks of land. This assumes a form of arrogance and greed which goes beyond simply having a comfortable home. The Lord will bring drought or blight that destroys their wealth and leaves those beautiful houses desolate and empty (Isaiah 5:8–10).

The next "woe" is directed to those who drink alcohol from early in the morning until late at night. The text implies those who are dependent on alcohol or addicted to it. They gather for feasts with live music and drinking, too preoccupied to pay attention to the Lord or notice the works He is doing (Isaiah 5:11–12).

Because of these things, God's people will go into exile because they do not know Him. Those who have grown wealthy greed will go hungry. Those who have made drinking alcohol the point of their lives will go thirsty. Sheol—death, in this context—has opened its mouth to consume the nobility and party people of Jerusalem (Isaiah 5:13–14).

In that moment, those formerly arrogant people will have no choice but to become humble. The Lord will be exalted for restoring justice. He will show Himself holy by ending the sinfulness of His people (Isaiah 5:15–17).

The passage continues with a "woe" to those who intentionally sin. They carry the sin around in full knowledge it is against God's wishes. This is vastly different than those who struggle against sin but fail. These persons are purposefully sneering in God's face: daring Him to react because they don't believe He will. They mock the Lord in disbelief by saying, in essence, "Let God's judgment come quickly! We want to see it. Let Him come here and smite me!" (Isaiah 5:18–19)

The final "woes" are to those who believe their own wisdom above all else. The passage includes a famous condemnation of inverting good and evil, calling one the other. Isaiah also scolds those who are experts at drinking and taking bribes, depriving the innocent of the right to justice due to their greed and hedonism (Isaiah 5:20–23).

The Lord's judgement will be efficient and tireless. Much of the phrasing in this passage is symbolic of God's power, and not necessarily about a literal series of disasters. He will strike His people with fury as unstoppable as an earthquake. Then He will summon the armies of the nations with a whistle. The armies will come running toward Jerusalem well-equipped. The Lord will judge His people (Isaiah 5:24–30).
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