Isaiah’s Vineyard Poem

Isaiah 5:1–7

Biblical Period

1Let me sing for my beloved
A song of my lover about his vineyard.
My beloved had a vineyard
On a fruitful hill.
2He broke the ground, cleared it of stones,
And planted it with choice vines.
He built a watchtower inside it,
He even hewed a wine press in it;
For he hoped it would yield grapes.
Instead, it yielded wild grapes.
3“Now, then,
Dwellers of Jerusalem
And men of Judah,
You be the judges
Between Me and My vineyard:
4What more could have been done for My vineyard
That I failed to do in it?
Why, when I hoped it would yield grapes,
Did it yield wild grapes?
5“Now I am going to tell you
What I will do to My vineyard:
I will remove its hedge,
That it may be ravaged;
I will break down its wall,
That it may be trampled.
6And I will make it a desolation;
It shall not be pruned or hoed,
And it shall be overgrown with briers and thistles.
And I will command the clouds
To drop no rain on it.”
7For the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts
Is the House of Israel,
And the seedlings he lovingly tended
Are the men of Judah.
aAnd He hoped for justice,
But behold, injustice;
For equity,
But behold, iniquity! [ . . . ]


This sentence contains two wordplays: “And He hoped for mishpaṭ, And there is mispah [exact meaning uncertain]; / For ṣedaqah, But there is ṣe‘aqah [lit. ‘outcry’].”


Reprinted from Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Copyright 1985 by the Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia.

Published in: The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, vol. 1.

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