Isaiah 5:7, as found in the ESV reads
For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts
is the house of Israel,
and the men of Judah
are his pleasant planting;
and he looked for justice,
but behold, bloodshed;
but behold, an outcry!
Let me point out a neat little poetic feature. It is ABBA parallelism
A-Vinyard of the Lord of Hosts
B-House of Irael
B-Men of Judah
A-His Pleasant planting
Alright, but here is what I wanted to show with this blog. In English translations there is a battle between giving the meaning of the words and the meaning of the verse, yet trying to stick to the grammar of the passage. Since we are translating from different languages, we often can lose part of the beauty of the original message. Notice, we do not lose any of the meaning, just a little of the beauty.
In this verse there are two sets of words used that sound very similar in Hebrew
Justice (mishpat) & Bloodshed (mispak)
Righteousness(zedeqah) & outcry (ze-ah-qah)
Because of this, I want to offer a paraphrasing of the verse so that we can keep a little bit of the similar sounds to us English speakers.
For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel,
and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting;
And the LORD looked for truth
But, behold! Tyranny!
And the Lord Looked for Holiness
But, behold! Hollering for Help
The starkness of what God saw in contrast to what He was looking for stands out “better” when we use poetic sounding words. God looked for justice and righteousness, but instead He saw bloodshed and violence, and heard an outcry of distress. This meaning is plain and clear in your English translations (CSB, ESV, NASB, NKJV, NLT, NIV, and NRSV), and also in the paraphrase translation The Message.
So, I challenge you. If God is looking for justice and righteousness in your life, your congregation, your neighborhood, or your community, is that what He sees? We rest squarely upon the atoning life, death, and resurrection of Jesus for our salvation, but because of this we know that we need to bring Jesus to others and demonstrate the Fruit of the Spirit in our life (Galatians 5:13-25; Ephesians 4:17-5:20; Colossians 3:1-17; James 2:12-26; & 1 Peter 1:13-2:3).
This blog post is deeply influenced by Verlyn D. Verbrugge’s devotional on Isaiah 5:7 found in Zondervan Publishers Devotions on the Hebrew Bible: 54 Reflections to Inspire & Instruct, printed 2015.
For those with Greek training, I recommend their book Devotions on the Greek New Testament: 52 Reflections to Inspire & Instruct, printed 2012