Isaiah 2 Study Notes
2:1 The repetition of the title here suggests that chap. 1 is the introduction to the book.
2:2-4 This pronouncement is virtually identical to that found in Isaiah’s near contemporary, the prophet Micah (Mc 4:1-3).
2:2 The phrase last days refers to the future, a time beyond the judgment on the sin of God’s people. The mountain of the Lord’s house is a reference to Zion, where the temple was built. Zion was where God made his presence known in a special way among his people. In actuality, Zion was not a physically imposing mountain—indeed, the nearby Mount of Olives was considerably taller—but in terms of spiritual importance, Zion stood above all the other mountains of the world.
2:3 The vision anticipates a day when not only Israel but all the nations will stream toward this mountain that represents the presence of God on earth. God had promised Abraham that he would bless the nations through his descendants (Gn 12:1-3). Today the church is composed of people from many different nations who have aligned themselves with God through faith in Christ, thus fulfilling this vision in at least a preliminary way.
2:4 The nation seeking the Lord will experience a great transformation. They will not exert their energies and resources to destruction (swords . . . spears), but rather to productive activities (plows . . . pruning knives).
2:5 Some scholars believe this call to obey God’s way concludes the previous pronouncement. If so, it invites Israel to follow God as the least they can do in anticipation of the fact that the nations will turn to God in the future. However, v. 6 begins with “For,” marking the verses that follow as motivation for the repentance of Israel called for in this verse.
2:6 God had removed his presence from his people because they had imbibed of the superstitions of their neighbors to the East (Edom and Mesopotamia, for instance) and the west (Philistia). In particular, they practiced divination. Divination tries to access the divine realm via rituals, with the aim of foretelling the future and warding off evil. The Torah forbade such practices (Lv 19:26; Dt 18:9-14).
2:7 Deuteronomy 17:14-20 prohibited kings from accumulating precious metals and military assets (horses and chariots).
2:8 The root of the evil of idolatry is expressed here when the pronouncement states that idols are man-made (the work of their hands). Paul reflected this understanding when he referred to the folly of exchanging “the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles” (Rm 1:23).
2:9-10 Do not forgive them is a curious petition. It probably means that Israel’s sin cannot just be forgotten but must be punished.
2:11 With the words the pride of mankind will be humbled, Isaiah expressed one of the major themes of his book. Through judgment, God cuts down the sinful pretensions of his people.
2:12-18 The prophets often spoke of a coming day belonging to the Lord (Jl 1:15; 2:1,11,31; Am 5:18,20; Zph 1:7,14; Zch 14:1). This day is one of judgment of sinners, which means the redemption of God’s people. However, God’s people in this verse were the object of his anger since they were rebelling against him. While the “day of the Lord” ultimately points to the final judgment, God’s temporal punishments of his people are often understood to be anticipatory fulfillments of the final judgment. Lebanon and Bashan were well known for their fertile lands and, in particular, their impressive trees. Thus, they are representative of arrogance built on abundance. God’s judgment is against all kinds of pride.
2:19-21 People will flee in terror from the coming judgment of God. Out of fear, they will throw away their precious idols. On the caves in the rocks see Rv 6:15.
2:22 The last verse of the pronouncement states an important and pervasive theme in Isaiah connected to the prophet’s concern that God’s people act with humility. They were not to trust in a mere human, but to put their confidence in God.
|Hebrew pronunciation||[shah FAIL]|
|CSB translation||be low, humbled|
|Uses in Isaiah||15|
|Uses in the OT||30|
|Focus passage||Isaiah 2:9,11,17|
Isaiah has half the uses of shaphel, which means be lowly (Pr 16:19) or sink (Is 32:19). People are humbled (Is 2:9) or brought down (Is 29:4). Trees are felled (Is 10:33) and mountains leveled (Is 40:4). Causative verbs mean humiliate (Jb 40:11), humble (Pr 29:23), demote (Pr 25:7), bring down or low (Is 25:11-12), stoop down (Ps 113:6), and send down (Is 57:9). Shephelah (20x) is the name for the Judean foothills (Jos 9:1). The adjective shaphal (17x) denotes low (Ezk 17:6), lowly (Is 57:15), humble (Ezk 17:14), or humiliated (Mal 2:9). Once it is lowliest (Ezk 29:15). The phrase “lower than” is translated beneath (Lv 13:20). The noun shephel means humiliation (Ps 136:23) or lowly position (Ec 10:6). Shiphlah, meaning depths, occurs with the verb shaphel (Is 32:19). “Lowness (shiphlut) of hands” suggests negligent hands hanging down (Ec 10:18). The adjective shaphel implies humbled (Is 2:12).