Talk:Isa 28:1-5

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Wait on the Lord[edit]

These x-refs should probably be moved to some topical user subpage, or to a more appropriate verse (I'm in a bit of a hurry so I'm putting them here for now). If someone moves these x-refs, please leave a note here as to where they're moved to. --RobertC 15:46, 13 Mar 2006 (UTC)


In verse 9, Gileadi takes the tables as symbolic of the prophets' role to serve the people spiritual food. Thus, the drunkenness is symbolic of apostate prophets who are not seeing or teaching properly. I'm getting close to being ready to start tackling this chapter (along with 29) after trying to do some more rewriting of chapter 6. --RobertC 15:15, 17 Aug 2006 (UTC)

Uh-oh. Here we go, Robert. I posted a question just so that I could say I got started, because this is where I'd like to head next on this Isaiah-can-of-worms we've opened. I'll get more started soon. --Joe Spencer 15:48, 17 Aug 2006 (UTC)

Oooh! Shiny![edit]

Robert, these two intertexts are wonderful! Psalm 23 and Wisdom. I will have to look at both of these in some detail tomorrow. Thanks for the cross references. I will be interested to see how they might guide interpretation. --Joe Spencer 14:58, 21 Sep 2006 (UTC)

Looking more closely at Wisdom 2, there is a further allusion to Isaiah 28 in it. The passage begins back in Wisdom 1:16. "Solomon" is speaking of the ungodly and how they understand life, and so he goes on to quote them specifically (and it is the words of the ungodly in 2:7-8). The interesting thing is that "Solomon" describes the ungodly thus: "But the ungodly by their words and deeds summoned death; considering him a friend, they pined away and made a covenant with him, because they are fit to belong to his company." 2:1-5, then, is the ungodly reasoning concerning the dissolution of existence with death (notice the Hellenistic individualism--or perhaps royal individualism). Verse 6 begins the logic conclusion of the ungodly, what they see as the implication for life of the completeness of death. Verses 7-8 come within that of course.

There seems, then, to be a sort of reversal of Isaiah 28 here: beginning with the covenant with death (later in Isaiah 28), "Solomon" comes around to the crowns and drunkenness (earlier in Isaiah 28). This is an interesting approach, to say the least. I'm not sure yet what to make of it, and especially of its inclusion thus in a wisdom text. (I'm still deciding how to take wisdom texts... Margaret Barker has got me rethinking them.)

I should note further that... I don't remember the author and I don't want to walk all the way to my front room to retrieve the book at present... a wonderful post-modern reader of the Bible suggests that the "covenant with death" Isaiah mentions is precisely the imbibing of wine: to drink is to induce a death that postpones death, is a death and a rejection of death at once, and hence a covenant. I'll have to pull out some of his comments to draw into this discussion at some point. --Joe Spencer 14:33, 22 Sep 2006 (UTC)

Hab 2:5 seems an important reference for wine and the covenant with death. Interestingly, the WBC says that the Dead Sea scrolls use the word "wealth" (hwn, TWOT 487a) instead of "wine" (yyn, TWOT 464) in that verse (see related pairings of wine and wealth in: Prov 21:17; Isa 56:12; Rev 18:3); Mosiah 11:15). --RobertC 21:24, 22 Sep 2006 (UTC)

Not "smite" but... (v. 2)[edit]

I'm trying to work out Joe's point about "smite" in verse 2 really meaning something else. I'm not so sure "rest" works that well, though I think that meaning is important to keep in mind. I'm thinking of a meaning more like "place" (as a verb), cf. Gen 2:15 where man is placed in the Garden); Ex 16:33, Deut 14:28, Deut 26:4, 10, and Num 17:4 all seem to be about placing some sort of offering before the Lord; Ex 16:23 and others seem to be about "saving up" something (food for the Sabbath here). I think ynch is important to understand here and in relation to the Jonah 1:2, Matt 6:6, and Isa 6:5 questions we've been raising: how and why does God punish his people? Reading ynch as "place" also makes me think of the vineyard analogy: God's warning to Israel and eventual destruction by the Assyrians is part of a larger plan where the master of the vineyard is placing his people. On an individual level, we can either respond to God's call and place ourselves in a good position (helping in the Lord's vineyard) or we can refuse and have the Lord place us where we need to be. I'll try to work this out better and more carefully later.... --Robert C.


I'm revisiting this passage because of Joe's recent (and phenomenal!) work on D&C 85:7. As I read verse 2 this morning, I can't help but think about the powerful similarities with baptism, the overflowing water that destroys the old life and creates a new life of spiritual rest. I'm not saying this is a reference to baptism, but that we can better understand baptism by going back and reading this verse.

My recent study of John (see this blog post) has me thinking more about symbols in Isaiah. In this spirit, I think the "to the earth" phrase here is very rich with all the tree and tower metaphors that Isaiah uses. But I think Joe is right to also point back to Isa 6, where we see Isaiah himself silenced (another meaning for yanach/"smite"), or at least "undone" with his leaps subsequently purged, in the presence of the Lord.

Also, I think the "silence" and "rest" possibilities here are quite interesting in light of subsequent verses such as the "stammering" and "rest" of Isa 28:11-12. Rich indeed.... --RobertC 13:47, 3 May 2007 (CEST)

Landy's article[edit]

Joe, I got Francis Landy's article from the library. I like and appreciate much of what she (is Francis a he or a she? I thought something in the article made me think Francis is a she, but I tend to think of it as a male name...) wrote, but didn't follow many parts. I want to go back and read more carefully, but perhaps you can help me a bit. In particular, I don't follow the first paragraph on p. 152. Is there a philosophic sense of the word jouissance that I should be understanding as background?

I've been reading up a bit on Heidegger—we're discussing him in Jim's class today—and I hope this will help me understand Marion better. I'm pretty fascinated by this notion of superabundance which seems to come up a bit in Ricoeur's and Marion's writing, and it all seems very related to what you're getting at in Isa 6 and 28. Perhaps these topics are best discussed via email (probably worth putting off until we see if the LDS-HERM listserv is going to fly or not...), but a quick question for now: it seems to me like many of these ideas follow naturally—if not directly—from Heidegger's later ideas about technology. For example, he writes "enframing blocks the shining-forth and holding sway of truth" (QCT, p. 309). This idea that truth shines forth is what—it seems to my quite ignorant perspective—Marion seems to pick up on with his later writings on givenness. Again, I see all this as highly relevant to how we understand, for example, God's arm as it's used in Isaiah and the BOM (which I think is an image that is used similarly to the tongue of angels/stammering lips ideas in chapters 6 and 28; this is an oversimplified analogy, but I think a case can be made that Nephi has something like this in mind, that if we are not facing God, then turning to God becomes a violent process that shakes us out of whatever is distracting us from God, whereas if we turn to face God—repent—on our own, God's arm immediately embraces us without inflicting on us the pain required to turn us...). --RobertC 20:50, 3 Oct 2006 (UTC)

On Landy: I do believe we're dealing here with a "she" (though to be honest, I'm not positive on that). Yes there is a philosophic sense of jouissance to be dealt with. It derives from Freudian theory, and it is particularly a question in Jacques Lacan's work (and it therefore saturates feminist discussions, such as the present article). (There is a good, though brief, article on it at wikipedia.) It is set against plaisir, and the two terms are meant to describe two experiences in the sexual act (ecstasy versus afterglow), but broadly parallel to the experience of the loss of self on the one hand (in a moment of excess, of overflow, of all the things we've been exploring in Isaiah 6, 28, etc.) and the experience of the restoration of order, meaning, etc., the restoration of self on the other hand. Landy is exploring this double theme on a number of levels: the excess that crumbles the poetic form (as in verse 2), overcome a moment later by the restoration of order, etc., is an example. At another level, Landy sees this in the words Isaiah uses (the overflowing surge, etc., of verse 2--note that she reads some significance into the lack of a direct object, since the self, and all identity with it, has been cancelled in the overflow and excess--becomes a rather homely "will cause to rest" by the end of the verse). At still another level, Landy sees this as the prophetic experience: Isaiah is overflowed, but in an experience that becomes ordered a moment later. This is the meaning of her title: "tracing the voice of the other" means making sense (plaisir) of what is radically other, radically transcendent, and hence of what is without sense (jouissance). Like most postmodern approaches to the Bible, Landy's is incredibly rich, though the Bible is, in the end, used to explore postmodern themes, rather than postmodern themes being used to explore the Bible.
On Heidegger: You are right to read Marion's themes of givenness into Heidegger. In Le tournant theologique, Janicaud explicitly points to the later Heidegger as the source for the "theological turn" of French phenomenology. In Reduction and Givenness, Marion argues that there are three phenomenological reductions possible: the Husserlian reduction (from the event to the object or being), the Heideggerian reduction (from the being to Being), and a third reduction (from Being to pure givenness). He sees, that is, in Heidegger the possibility of moving beyond the initial role of phenomenology to a phenomenology of pure givenness, to a pure interlocution that in a moment of overwhelming excess constitutes a real self, a real will, a real person who can then respond to the call with thanks (by thinking). (I should think you see the ties here to Levinas.) In short, Heidegger opens up the pathway being Husserlian phenomenology. Moreover, Heidegger, in his later writings, began to explore this pure givenness. I think he glimpses it in his latest writings. By the end of his career, I think his Da- (from Dasein) came to be a sort of pure givenness, though he was only just grasping the possibilities. But you are right, any further discussion should probably be on the listserv or by e-mail. --Joe Spencer 15:01, 4 Oct 2006 (UTC)

Context and setting[edit]

I'm trying to figure out the context here. It's hard for me to make sense of the history enough to even make sense of how different commentators take this, so I'll keep some running notes here as I try to learn enough to post something intelligible:

  • Wildeberger assumes this occurs after the Syro-Ephraimite War (733 B.C.), just before the siege of Samaria by Shalmaneser in 724.
  • The Anchor Bible says "This first in the series of woe-sayings (28:1-4) is directed against Samaria and its political leaders. It appears to be chronologically out of synchrony with the four foullowing, which deal with events some two decades after the collapse of the Kingdom of Samaria, but we have seen that in this case appearances may be misleading. . . . [T]he fate of the city at the hands of the Assyrians is alluded to obliquely but no less surely in the expressive metaphor, recurring often in the book (4:6; 8:8; 25:4; 28:17; 30:30; 32:2), of a violent storm. It may be readily admitted that anti-Samarian diatribe originating in eigth century Judah would have been reread with reference to the Samaria of the Sanballat dynasty, opponents of Judah in the Achaemienid period [whenver that was!], and, later stilll, in the light of Judean-Samaritan hostility in the Hasmonean period, but the reasons adduced by Kaiser (1974, 237-38) for dating the composition of the passage to the Hasmonean period do not persuade. . . [T]he powerful individual who is to serve as Yahveh's agent (2) as the "rod of his anger" (10:5), will be one of the Neo-Assyrian rulers, Sargon II if the author had in mind the original capture of the city and deportations; Sennacherib if (as suggested above) the historical background is the participation of the ASsyrian province of Samerina in the western revolts during that reign." Blenkinsopp goes on to mention destructions of Samaria in 312 and 296 B.C.E. by Ptolemy I and Demetrius Poliorcetes (saying later readers, "unburdened with the modern interpreter's concern with original situations and meanings," would likely had these in mind).
  • I think the WBC (John D. W. Watts) has an unusual take on the timing in Isaiah, though I don't really know what the mainstream scholarly views are (whether Isaiah should really be tied to history seems itself somewhat controversial, at least beyond the explicit Ahaz and Hezekiah references). Watts breaks Isaiah in to 12 "generations" of "Davidide heirs" as follows:
Former times:
1. Chs. 1-6: #Uzziah/Jotham (750-735 B.C.)
2. Chs. 7-14: *Ahaz (735-715 B.C.)
3. Chs. 15-22: #Hezekiah (715-687 B.C.)
4. Chs. 23-27: *Manasseh/Amon (687-642 B.C.)
5. Chs. 28:33: #Josiah/Jehoiakim (640-605 B.C.)
6. Chs. 34-39: *Jehoiakim/Zedekiah (605-587 B.C.)
Latter times:
7. Chs. 40-44:23 Jehoiachin
8. Chs. 44:24-48:22: Sheshbazzar
9. Chs. 49:1-52:12: Zerubabbel
10. Chs. 52:13-57:21: Hananiah
11. Chs. 58-62: Shecaniah/Ezra/Nehemiah
12. Chs. 63-66: The Age to Come
The corresponding Mesopotamian Kings were (sorry, I don't know how to do tables yet, or even two columns):
1. Tiglath Pileser III (745-727)
2. Shalmaneser (727-722)
Sargon II (722-705)
3. Sennacherib (705-681)
4. Esarhaddon (681-669)
Ashurbanipal (669-633)
5. Nabopolaassar (633-625)
(Necho, Egypt) (609-593)
6. Nebuchadnezzer (605-562)
7. Nabunaid (550-539)
8. Cyrus (539-530)
Cambyses (530-522)
9. Darius I (522-486)
10. Xerxes I (485-465)
11. Artaxerxes I (464-BC)
"The generations are not distinguished so much by specific years or even by the reigns of kings as by policies followed. An asterisk (*) precedes generations of vassalage. A pound sign (#) precedes generations of active rebellion or of independence. The periods represented in the seventh to twelfth generations lack hard historical data to determine how submissive the leaders were. But there is little doubt that the issue was very much alive. The dates mark the approximate beginning and end of the period portrayed. The list of kings is neither complete nor exact, since only some of them are mentioned. The Vision makes no effort to be comprehensive or to connect the scenes into a history. Rather, it presents vignettes or illustrative scenes from each one."
"Three episodes comprise [chapter 28]. The first, “The Drunkards of Ephraim” (vv 1–13), casts a sad backward look at Ephraim’s closing years (as in Acts I and II) and at the intervening years in that region. (Josiah was apparently able to reincorporate a substantial part of the area into his kingdom and, presumably, Jehoiakim continued to have control there until the Babylonian invasions.) . . . Vv 1–4 are a mourning cry over Ephraim, using the metaphor of drunkards to recall the confused last years of the Northern Kingdom almost a century before (cf. chaps. 5 and 10)."

Somewhere else I read 724 B.C.E. (Ludlow perhaps?), so I'm guessing the majority view is represented by Wildeberger (before Shalmaneser's invasion). Another related question I have is how seriously to take the position of this chapter. I plan on posting something about the budding flower theme of chapter 27 being subverted in 28:1, but if Wildeberger is correct, it seems scholars do not think 23-27 was written by Isaiah. Of course even if this scholarly view is true (I don't think any of 23-27 appears in the BOM does it?), it doesn't mean a later inspired redactor didn't have this thematic juxtaposition in mind. I kind of like Jim F.'s approach to redactor issues: we accept the Bible as part of our cannon, so it doesn't really matter if it's been redacted a bunch of times. --RobertC 00:52, 21 Oct 2006 (UTC)

Robert, just a quick reaction to this last point (your "related question"). Isaiah is very carefully compiled:
  Chapter 1 - Introduction
     Chapters 2-5 - Prophecies against Judah/Israel
        Chapter 6 - Isaiah's call to confuse
           Chapters 7-27 - Prophetic diatribe against the nations (Gentiles)
        Chapter 28 - Isaiah's call to confuse
     Chapters 29-34 - Prophecies against Judah/Israel
  Chapters 35-39 - Historical transition to Babylon's fall
              Chapters 40-48 - Former things versus new things
              Chapters 49-55 - Atonement and the covenant
                 Chapters 56-66 - A new era struggles for peace
Whether this arrangement was Isaiah's work or not is a difficult question (though I must admit that I think all of it was except for Third Isaiah, which I think was probably written by a different prophet: this would make Isaiah a chiasm of early prophecies superseded by the doubled poem of Second Isaiah). I think you can take everything in Isaiah structurally, at any rate. --Joe Spencer 13:41, 21 Oct 2006 (UTC)

Joe, thanks. This chiastic strucutre is very interesting (I'm assuming you came up with this on your own, let me where you've seen it if not). Part of the reason I'm wondering so much about this is because of how much of a contrast there is between the "fury is not in me" phrase in Isa 27:4 and woe context of Isa 28:1. Of course this contrast been woes and blessings occurs elsewhere too, but it seems particularly stark here.... --RobertC 14:02, 21 Oct 2006 (UTC)