Isa 29:1-24

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Home > The Old Testament > Isaiah > Chapter 29
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  • Isa 29:1: Ariel. Nailing down the meaning of the word here is rather difficult. Besides its appearances here and in Ezek 43:15, it does not appear in the Hebrew. A number of different possibilities have been suggested for its meaning: it may be a conjunction of ari and el, meaning "the lion of God (El)," for example. But in Ezekiel's vision of the temple it is quite clear that the term means part (the hearth?) of the altar. As such many have interpreted the term here to mean something like "the place of the central altar," though recent scholarship would call such an interpretation into question in light of the historical developments of Israelite religion (there seems to have been no centralization of the cult until the second half of the seventh century B.C.). The problem only grows more difficult if one considers other ancient versions of this same text. The word is rendered Aruel in the Isaiah scroll from Qumran ("his light is God (El)"?). The Septuagint (LXX) renders the term quite simply Ariel, but the remainder of the verse differs greatly from the Hebrew text: "Alas for the city Ariel, which David besieged. Gather ye fruits year by year; eat ye, for ye shall eat with Moab." The mention of Moab is interesting because the word Ariel appears in a paleo-Hebrew script on the famous Moabite stone (the "Mesha inscription"; see link below), which predates Isaiah's text. Of curiosity there is that the phrase is "Ariel dwdh," which might mean "Ariel of David," though the context is quite clear that whatever is being taken (by Mesha, king of Moab) is something easily moveable (i.e., not a city). Scholars have suggested that the phrase means everything from "the altar-hearth of his uncle" to "the lion-statuette of David." That the Moabite stone brings up "Ariel" in connection with "David" while the LXX draws the Moabites into this first verse suggests that there something going on here that remains to be worked out.
  • Isa 29:8: Not with wine. Is this verse contrasting the drunkards here with the drunkards of Ephraim in Isa 28:7 who "have erred through wine," or is should this verse be read as a clarification of 28:7 that the wine spoken of there is symbolic?
  • Isa 29:14: Marvelous work and a wonder. The phrase "a marvelous work and a wonder' appears to refer specifically to the Book of Mormon rather than to the Restoration as a whole. The phrase appears several times in the Doctrine & Covenants to describe the work in which Joseph Smith is engaged, but only prior to D&C 20 / April 1830. Once the Book of Mormon was published in March 1830, the phrase never again appears in the scriptures. Also see 1 Ne 13-14.
  • Isa 29:21: Another Wisdom allusion? As suggested in Isa 28:1, there may be allusions to the Book of Widom chapter 2 in these two chapters of Isaiah. Here in verse 21 the scorning of just men seems similar to the phrase "Let us oppress the needy just man; let us neither spare the widow nor revere the old man for his hair grown white with time" in Wisdom 2:10.

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  • See here for a picture, some information, and a Hebrew transliteration of the Moabite stone or Mesha Stele. A translation with a few notes of commentary (somewhat dated now) can also be found in D. Winston Thomas, ed., Documents from Old Testament Times (New York: Harper & Row, 1958), 195-198.


Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.

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