Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Isaiah 10:1-2

"Woe to those who enact evil statues
And to those who constantly record unjust decisions,"

* The phrase "those who enact" is in the Qal Active Participle, meaning that it is in the most frequently used verb pattern and is in a state of unbroken continuity, thus reiterating the word "constantly" in the next line of the verse. In other words, God is not speaking to the ones who strive after Him but mess up; rather, He is addressing the persistently wicked of heart.

* In case anyone didn't care about vocabulary in elementary school ;) here's the Qal (casual) meaning of the verb "enact": to cut in; to cut upon; to trace, mark out; to engrave, inscribe (of a law).
--With this in mind, who would you say "those who enact evil statutes" are? Those who agree with the evil statutes? Promote them? Vote for them? Bring them into existence?

* "And to." This is where all of your grammar lessons become handy :-) If the verse left out the word "to" we might be tempted to believe that only those who enact evil statutes AND constantly record unjust decisions will be punished, but because they did include the word "to," I believe it is important to note that both the enactor and the recorder will be punished. Which brings us to our next question...

* What does the word "record" mean? First, we have to find which stem and aspect it is in. In this case, it is in the Piel Participle, meaning that it is an intentional action and is in a state of unbroken continuity. In other words, these "recorders" are not forced to complete a wicked deed. They decide to complete this action, and they alone are responsible for their deeds.
--P.S. It's pretty self-explanatory, but the word "record" here literally means "to continue writing."

* What IS an "unjust decision"? Some translations use the word "grievousness," but although we could argue all day about which translation is best, let's go straight to the original language: toil, trouble, labour; trouble, mischief; trouble. (For all of you smartypants, there isn't a tense here because it isn't a verb ;)). Why translate this word as "unjust decisions" or "grievousness"? Well, we have to look at the verses around the sentence for context and also at cross-references using this exact verb since the definition is so vague. I suppose there are other options for translation here, but check out those cross-references for extra understanding of the word's ('amal) use: Numbers 23:21, Deut. 26:7, Judges 10:16, Job 3:10, Job 4:8, Job 5:6-7, Psalm 7:14, 16, Psalm 10:7, 94:20, 140:9.

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