The response of Yahweh (Isa 6:11-6:13)

“Then I said.

‘How long?

O Lord!’

Yahweh said.

‘Until cities lie waste

Without inhabitants.

Until houses are

Without people.

Until the land is

Utterly desolate.

Until Yahweh sends

Everyone far away.

Until vast is

The emptiness

In the midst of the land.

Even if a tenth part remains in it,

It will be burned again.

It will be like a terebinth.

It will be like an oak

Whose stump remains standing

When it is felled.’

The holy seed is its stump.”

Isaiah wanted to know how long his prophetic work would have to be. Yahweh responded with an indication that the holy land would be destroyed. He would continue until the cities had nobody living in them, until there were houses abandoned, left empty. The land would be desolate. Everybody would be sent away, so that the land itself would be left bare. Probably a tenth of those would remain. Just like when an oak tree or a terebinth bush is burned, the stump still remained until someone came along to dig it up and chop it into pieces. Likewise, the holy seed of Israel is like a stump.

A reproach against large estates (Isa 5:8-5:10)

“Woe to you

Who join house to house!

Woe to you

Who add field to field!

Finally there is room

For no one but you.

You are left

To live alone

In the midst of the land.

Yahweh of hosts has sworn

In my hearing.

‘Surely many houses

Shall be desolate.

Large houses

Will be without inhabitants.

Beautiful houses

Will be without inhabitants.

Ten acres of vineyard

Shall yield but one bath.

A homer of seed

Shall yield a mere ephah.’”

Next Isaiah issues a series of curses or reproaches to the people of Judah. First of all, he rants about the idea of people wanting too much land. If you add house to house, or field to field, you make it difficult for others. Your huge estate will leave you to live alone on your land. Yahweh had spoken to Isaiah to say that many houses will lay desolate. Large and beautiful houses will be empty. The land will not yield much. 10 acres will only produce about 6 gallons (a bath) of a crop. 6 bushels of seed (a homer) will produce less than a bushel of grapes (an ephah). The more you try to expand your living area and your fields, the more it will come to very little.

Job describes his difficult human life (Job 7:1-7:6)

“Do not human beings have a hard service on earth?

Are not their days like the days of a laborer?

Are not their days like a slave who longs for the shadow?

Are not their days like laborers who look for their wages?

So I am allotted months of emptiness.

Nights of misery are apportioned to me.

When I lie down I say.

‘When shall I arise?’

But the night is long.

I am full of tossing until dawn.

My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt.

My skin hardens.

Then my skin breaks out again.

My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle.

They come to their end without hope.”

This was a man in despair. He had a hard mortal life. He was like a day laborer who got paid by the day, assuming that he worked. He was like a paid mercenary. He was a like a slave who only looked for shade. All that he could hope for was his paid wages. His months were empty. His nights were miserable.   When he lay down, all he could think of was when he would get up. He tossed and turned all night long with little sleep. His flesh was full of worms and dirt. His skin hardened and then broke out again. His days went by like a weaver’s spinning wheel. In the end, there was no hope in his hopeless hard human life.

The lack of water is a great concern to the Israelites (Jdt 7:19-7:22)

“The Israelites cried out to the Lord their God. Their courage failed. All their enemies had surrounded them. There was no way of escape from them. The whole Assyrian army, their infantry, chariots, and cavalry, surrounded them for thirty-four days. All the water containers of every inhabitant of Bethulia were empty. Their cisterns were going dry. On no day did they have enough water to drink because their drinking water was rationed. Their children were listless. The women and young men fainted from thirst. They were collapsing in the streets of the town and in the gateways. They no longer had any strength left in them.”

The Israelites cried out to God. Their courage was failing. Their enemies, the great Assyrian army, surrounded them with no way to escape during 34 days. All the water containers were empty. What water they had was rationed. The children were listless. People were fainting all over the place, collapsing in the streets. They had no strength left. This is somewhat similar to the story in 2 Kings, chapters 6-7, where the prophet Elisha and King Jehoram (852-842 BCE) were surrounded by the Arameans in Samaria.