The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Prophecy of Isaias
Out upon the drunken lords of Ephraim, and the city that is their boast, their crown! Quickly shall it fade, this flower, in the pride of its beauty. Careless they dwell at the head of yonder fruitful valley, all besotted with their wine;
and the Lord will come upon them like a rough, boisterous hail-storm, like a destroying whirlwind, like a swift flood that rises and spreads out over the plain.
Trodden under foot it shall lie, the crown that was drunken Ephraim’s boast;
that flower, whose brief bloom once delighted him, shall look down over the fruitful valley no more. Fig ripens to its cost, that ripens ere autumn brings the harvest, no sooner seen than plucked and eaten by the first that passes by!
But the Lord has his own people still left him; to these he shall be a crown to boast of, a garland of pride;
his the justice inspires them when they sit in judgement; his the courage that rallies them when they fall back, fighting, to the gates.
What, these too? These too fuddled with wine, bemused with their revelling? High revel they hold, priest and prophet together, till all are fuddled and sodden with wine, their wits bemused; what wonder if the true seer goes unrecognized, if justice is forgotten?
No room is left at their tables for aught but filth and vomit.
Here is one (they say) has knowledge to impart,✻ has a message to make known, to whom? Does he think we are children new-weaned, fresh from their mothers’ milk?
It is ever, Pass the word on, pass the word on, Wait a while yet, wait a while yet, A word with you, here, A word with you, there!
Here is stammering speech, here is outlandish talk for our folk to listen to!
Yet he did but counsel rest and repose; rest none other, repose none other, than to give respite to a weary nation. And listen they would not;
to them, the Lord’s message was all Pass the word on, pass the word on, Wait a while yet, wait a while yet, A word with you, here, and a word with you, there! And so they will go on their way, to stumble backwards and break their bones, to fall into a trap and lie there caught.
Hear the Lord’s word, then, you mockers, that bear rule over my people in Jerusalem.
Did you think to make terms with death, enter into alliance with the grave itself, that the flood of ruin should pass you by, so confident in your vain hopes, so armed with illusion?
A message to you, then, from the Lord God, See, I am laying a stone in the foundations of Sion that has been tested and found true, a corner-stone, a stone of worth, built into the foundations themselves.✻ Hurry to and fro who will; faith knows better.
You shall have justice dealt out to you by weight, your sentence shall be strictly measured; shattered, the vain hopes, as by a storm of hail, buried the illusion as by a deluge.
Hold they shall not, your terms with death, your compact with the grave; when the flood of ruin sweeps past, it shall leave you prostrate.
It will carry you away as it passes; pass it will, suddenly, in the space of a day and a night, and the very alarm of it will make you understand the revelation at last.
Too narrow a bed, and one or the other must fall out; a short cloak is no covering for two.✻
Who stands there? None other than the Lord himself, as he stood once on the mountain of Disruption,✻ vengeful still, as when he stood in the valley at Gabaon; but now, his own purpose to achieve, he lends himself to the purpose of another, now his will is, to let the alien have his will.
Mock, then, no more, if you would not see your chains riveted tighter; the Lord God of hosts is my witness, he means to make a short and sharp reckoning with the whole earth.
Listen now, and give me a hearing, mark well the message I bring.
Plough the farmer must, ere he sow, but will he be ever ploughing? For hoe and harrow is there no rest?
Nay, he will level it anon, plant fennel, sow cummin, with a border of wheat or barley, millet or vetch;
such lore he has learned, such prudence his God has given him.
What, shall sledge crush the fennel seed, threshing-wheel pass to and fro over the cummin? A switch for the fennel, a rod for the cummin, and they shall be beaten enough.
Thrashed the corn must be, sure enough, yet not for ever does the wheel harry it, do the spikes wear it down.✻
This lesson, too, the Lord would teach us; learn we how wonderful are his designs, how high above us his dealings.
The Holy Bible