from Bible readings:
books of the Prophets

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KJV 5:18-23

Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:

That say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it!

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:

Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!

Cited by:

Charles Williams

JPS 9:4-6

Truly, all the boots put on to stamp with

And all the garments donned in infamy

Have been fed to the flames,

Devoured by fire.

For a child has been born to us,

A son has been given us,

And authority has settled on his shoulders.

He has been named

“The Mighty God is planning grace;

The Eternal Father, a peaceable ruler”—

In token of abundant authority

And of peace without limit

Upon David’s throne and kingdom,

That it may be firmly established

In justice and in equity

Now and evermore.

The zeal of the LORD of Hosts

Shall bring this to pass.

Note (Hal’s):
Christian translations separate “Mighty God” from the other components on that line, frequently turning it into a direct reference to the Incarnation. Examples:

  • Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God (RSV/OT, NRSV)
  • Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God (KJV)
  • Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty (Douay)
  • in purpose wonderful, in battle God-like (NEB)

— end note


Sinners in Zion are frightened,

The godless are seized with trembling:

“Who of us can dwell with the devouring fire:

Who of us can dwell with the never-dying blaze?”

He who walks in righteousness,

Speaks uprightly,

Spurns profit from fraudulent dealings,

Waves away a bribe instead of grasping it,

Stops his ears against listening to infamy,

Shuts his eyes against looking at evil—

Such a one shall dwell in lofty security,

With inaccessible cliffs for his stronghold,

With his food supplied

And his drink assured.


A voice rings out: “Proclaim!”

Another asks, “What shall I proclaim?”

“All flesh is grass,

All its goodness like the flowers of the field:

Grass withers, flowers fade

When the breath of the LORD blows on them.

Indeed, man is but grass:

Grass withers, flowers fade—

But the word of our God is always fulfilled!”




Who has plumbed the mind of the LORD,

What man could tell Him His plan?

When did He consult, and who taught Him,

Guided Him in the way of right?

Who guided Him in knowledge

And showed Him the path of wisdom?


The craftsman in wood measures with a line

And marks out a shape with a stylus;

He forms it with scraping tools,

Marking it out with a compass.

He gives it a human form,

The beauty of a man, to dwell in a shrine.

For his use he cuts down cedars;

He chooses plane trees and oaks,

He sets aside trees of the forest;

Or plants firs, and the rain makes them grow.

All this serves man for fuel:

He takes some to warm himself,

And he builds a fire and bakes bread.

He also makes a god of it and worships it,

Fashions an idol and bows down to it!

Part of it he burns in a fire:

On that part he roasts meat,

He eats the roast and is sated;

He also warms himself and cries, “Ah,

I am warm! I can feel the heat!”

Of the rest he makes a god—his own carving!

He bows down to it, worships it;

He prays to it and cries,

“Save me, for you are my god!”

They have no wit or judgment:

Their eyes are besmeared, and they see not;

Their minds, and they cannot think.

They do not give thought,

They lack the wit and judgment to say:

“Part of it I burned in a fire;

I also baked bread on the coals,

I roasted meat and ate it—

Should I make the rest an abhorrence?

Should I bow to a block of wood?”

He pursues ashes!

A deluded mind has led him astray,

And he cannot save himself;

He never says to himself,

“The thing in my hand is a fraud!”



RSV/OT 45:7

I form light and create darkness,
I make weal and create woe,
I am the LORD, who do all these things.

Reference in:

Charles Williams

JPS 49:6

For He has said:

“It is too little that you should be My servant

In that I raise up the tribes of Jacob

And restore the survivors of Israel:

I will also make you a light of nations,

That My salvation may reach the ends of the earth.”


No, this is the fast I desire:

To unlock fetters of wickedness,

And untie the cords of the yoke

To let the oppressed go free;

To break off every yoke.

It is to share your bread with the hungry,

And to take the wretched poor into your home;

When you see the naked, to clothe him,

And not to ignore your own kin.

Note (Hal’s):
The prophecies of Isaiah swing back and forth between declarations of dire punishments (either for the wayward Jews or their oppressive neighbors) and promises of a future in which the Jewish kingdom is restored to peace and prosperity. God is presented as not only the God of Israel, but the God of all, in contrast to manmade idols.

— end note

text checked (see note) Jan, Sep 2005; Jun 2009

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JPS 9:22-23

Thus said the LORD:

Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom;

Let not the strong man glory in his strength;

Let not the rich man glory in his riches.

But only in this should one glory:

In his earnest devotion to Me,

For I the LORD act with kindness,

Justice, and equity in the world;

For in these I delight

—declares the LORD.




Can the Cushite change his skin,

Or the leopard his spots?

Just as much can you do good,

Who are practiced in doing evil!


The Leopard


Thus said the LORD:

Cursed is he who trusts in man,

Who makes mere flesh his strength,

And turns his thoughts from the LORD.

He shall be like a bush in the desert,

Which does not sense the coming of good:

It is set in the scorched places of the wilderness,

In a barren land without inhabitant.

Blessed is he who trusts in the LORD,

Whose trust is the LORD alone.

He shall be like a tree planted by waters,

Sending forth its roots by a stream:

It does not sense the coming of heat,

Its leaves are ever fresh;

It has no care in a year of drought,

It does not cease to yield fruit.


Ha! he who builds his house with unfairness

And his upper chambers with injustice,

Who makes his fellow man work without pay

And does not give him his wages,

Who thinks: I will build me a vast palace

With spacious upper chambers,

Provided with windows,

Paneled in cedar,

Painted with vermilion!

Do you think that you are more a king

Because you compete in cedar?

Your father ate and drank

And dispensed justice and equity—

Then all went well with him.

He upheld the rights of the poor and needy—

Then all was well.

That is truly heeding Me

—declares the LORD.

But your eyes and your mind are only

On ill-gotten gains,

On shedding the blood of the innocent,

On committing fraud and violence.



text checked (see note) Jul 2009

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For translation and copyright information, see version links in the left column.

JPS 18:20-27 ... 30-32

The person who sins, he alone shall die. A child shall not share the burden of a parent’s guilt, nor shall a parent share the burden of a child’s guilt; the righteousness of the righteous shall be accounted to him alone, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be accounted to him alone.

Moreover, if the wicked one repents of all the sins that he committed and keeps all My laws and does what is just and right, he shall live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions he committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness he has practiced, he shall live. Is it my desire that a wicked person shall die?—says the Lord GOD. It is rather that he shall turn back from his ways and live.

So, too, if a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does wrong, practicing the very abominations that the wicked person practiced, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he did shall be remembered; because of the treachery he has practiced and the sins he has committed—because of these, he shall die.

Yet you say, “The way of the LORD is unfair.” Listen, O House of Israel: Is My way unfair? It is your ways that are unfair! When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does wrong, he shall die for it; he shall die for the wrong he has done. And if a wicked person turns back from the wickedness that he practiced and does what is just and right, such a person shall save his life. [...]

[...] Be assured, O House of Israel, I will judge each one of you according to his ways—declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn back from your transgressions; let them not be a stumbling block of guilt for you. Cast away all the transgressions by which you have offended, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit, that you may not die, O House of Israel. For it is not My desire that anyone shall die—declares the Lord GOD. Repent, therefore, and live!





If anybody hears the sound of the horn but ignores the warning, and the sword comes and dispatches him, his blood shall be on his own head. Since he heard the sound of the horn but ignored the warning, his bloodguilt shall be upon himself; had he taken the warning, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees the sword advancing and does not blow the horn, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and destroys one of them, that person was destroyed for his own sins; however, I will demand a reckoning for his blood from the watchman.

Now, O mortal, I have appointed you a watchman for the House of Israel; and whenever you hear a message from My mouth, you must transmit My warning to them. When I say to the wicked, “Wicked man, you shall die,” but you have not spoken to warn the wicked man against his way, he, that wicked man, shall die for his sins, but I will demand a reckoning for his blood from you. But if you have warned the wicked man to turn back from his way, and he has not turned from his way, he shall die for his own sins, but you will have saved your life.



text checked (see note) Jul 2009

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