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Isaiah 28 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Warnings to Northern Israel

28 Look at Samaria!
    The drunks of Ephraim are proud of that city.
It sits on a hill with a rich valley around it.
    The Samarians think their city is a beautiful crown of flowers.
But they are drunk with wine,
    and this “beautiful crown” is just a dying plant.

Look, the Lord has someone who is strong and brave.
    He will come into the country like a storm of hail and rain.
Like a powerful river of water flooding the country,
    he will throw that crown[a] down to the ground.
The drunks of Ephraim are proud of their beautiful crown,
    but that city will be trampled down.
That city sits on a hill with a rich valley around it.
    But that beautiful crown of flowers is just a dying plant.
It will be like the first figs of summer.
    As soon as someone sees a ripe one, they pick it and eat it.

At that time the Lord All-Powerful will become the “Beautiful Crown.” He will be the “Wonderful Crown of Flowers” for his people who are left. Then he will give wisdom to the judges who rule his people. He will give strength to the people who are in battles at the city gates. But now those leaders are drunk. The priests and prophets are all drunk with wine and beer. They stumble and fall down. The prophets are drunk when they see their dreams. The judges are drunk when they make their decisions. Every table is covered with vomit. There is not a clean place anywhere.

God Wants to Help His People

The people say, “Who does he think he is trying to teach and explain his message to? Does he think we are babies who were at their mother’s breast only a very short time ago? 10 He speaks to us as though we were babies:

“Saw lasaw saw lasaw
Qaw laqaw qaw laqaw
Ze’er sham ze’er sham.”[b]

11 So God will use this strange way of talking, and he will use other languages to speak to these people.

12 In the past he spoke to them and said, “Here is a resting place. Let those who are tired come and rest. This is the place of peace.”

But they would not listen to him. 13 So the Lord’s words will be senseless sounds[c] to them:

“Saw lasaw saw lasaw.
Qaw laqaw qaw laqaw.
Ze’er sham ze’er sham.”

When the people try to walk, they will fall backwards. They will be defeated, trapped, and captured.

No One Escapes God’s Judgment

14 You leaders in Jerusalem should listen to the Lord’s message, but now you refuse to listen to him. 15 You have said, “We have made an agreement with death. We have a contract with death. So we will not be punished. Punishment will pass us without hurting us. We will hide behind our tricks and lies.”

16 Because of these things, the Lord God says, “I will put a rock—a cornerstone—in the ground in Zion. This will be a very precious stone.[d] Everything will be built on this very important rock. Anyone who trusts in that rock will not be disappointed.[e]

17 “Workers use a string and weight to show their work is straight and true. I will use justice as the string and goodness as the weight when I lay that foundation. But your safe places were built on lies. So they will be destroyed and washed away when the troubles come against you like hail storms and floods. 18 Your agreement with death will be erased. Your contract with Sheol will not help you.

“Someone will come and punish you. He will make you like the dirt he walks on. 19 He will come and take you away. Your punishment will be terrible. Your punishment will come early in the morning, and it will continue late into the night.

“Then you will understand this story: 20 A man tried to sleep on a bed that was too short for him. He had a blanket that was not wide enough to cover him. The bed and blanket were useless, and so were your agreements.

21 The Lord will fight as he did at Mount Perazim. He will be angry as he was in Gibeon Valley.[f] He will do what he must do. It will be what some stranger should do, but he will finish his work. Yes, this is a stranger’s job. 22 Now don’t complain about these things. If you fight against them, you will only tighten the ropes around you.

The words I heard will not change. They came from the Lord God All-Powerful, the ruler of all the earth, and these things will be done.

The Lord Punishes Fairly

23 Listen closely to the message I am telling you. 24 Does a farmer plow his field all the time? No, he doesn’t work the soil all the time. 25 A farmer prepares the ground, and then he plants the seed. He plants different kinds of seeds different ways. He scatters dill seeds, he throws cumin seeds on the ground, and he plants wheat in rows. A farmer plants barley in its special place, and he plants spelt seeds at the edge of his field.

26 Our God is using this to teach you a lesson. This example shows us that God is fair when he punishes his people. 27 Does a farmer use large boards with sharp teeth to crush dill seeds? No, and he doesn’t use a wagon to crush cumin seeds. A farmer uses a small stick to break the hulls from these seeds of grain. 28 People grind grain to make flour, but they don’t grind it forever. As God does in punishing people, a worker might drive his wagon over the grain to remove the hulls, but he does not allow the horses[g] to crush it. 29 This lesson comes from the Lord All-Powerful, who gives wonderful advice. He is very wise.


  1. Isaiah 28:2 that crown That is, Samaria.
  2. Isaiah 28:10 Saw lasaw … ze’er sham This is probably a Hebrew song to teach little children how to write. It sounds like baby talk or a foreign language, but it can also be translated, “A command here, a command there. A rule here, a rule there. A lesson here, a lesson there.” Also in verse 13.
  3. Isaiah 28:13 senseless sounds Or “gibberish” or “baby talk.”
  4. Isaiah 28:16 very precious stone This also means a stone has been tested and shown that it has no cracks.
  5. Isaiah 28:16 Anyone … disappointed This is found in the ancient Greek version. The standard Hebrew text has “Whoever trusts will not panic.”
  6. Isaiah 28:21 Mount Perazim … Gibeon Valley See 1 Chron. 14:8-17.
  7. Isaiah 28:28 horses This word also means “horse soldiers.”
Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Copyright © 2006 by Bible League International

Isaiah 28 New International Version (NIV)

Woe to the Leaders of Ephraim and Judah

28 Woe to that wreath, the pride of Ephraim’s drunkards,
    to the fading flower, his glorious beauty,
set on the head of a fertile valley
    to that city, the pride of those laid low by wine!
See, the Lord has one who is powerful and strong.
    Like a hailstorm and a destructive wind,
like a driving rain and a flooding downpour,
    he will throw it forcefully to the ground.
That wreath, the pride of Ephraim’s drunkards,
    will be trampled underfoot.
That fading flower, his glorious beauty,
    set on the head of a fertile valley,
will be like figs ripe before harvest—
    as soon as people see them and take them in hand,
    they swallow them.

In that day the Lord Almighty
    will be a glorious crown,
a beautiful wreath
    for the remnant of his people.
He will be a spirit of justice
    to the one who sits in judgment,
a source of strength
    to those who turn back the battle at the gate.

And these also stagger from wine
    and reel from beer:
Priests and prophets stagger from beer
    and are befuddled with wine;
they reel from beer,
    they stagger when seeing visions,
    they stumble when rendering decisions.
All the tables are covered with vomit
    and there is not a spot without filth.

“Who is it he is trying to teach?
    To whom is he explaining his message?
To children weaned from their milk,
    to those just taken from the breast?
10 For it is:
    Do this, do that,
    a rule for this, a rule for that[a];
    a little here, a little there.

11 Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues
    God will speak to this people,
12 to whom he said,
    “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”;
and, “This is the place of repose”—
    but they would not listen.
13 So then, the word of the Lord to them will become:
    Do this, do that,
    a rule for this, a rule for that;
    a little here, a little there
so that as they go they will fall backward;
    they will be injured and snared and captured.

14 Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers
    who rule this people in Jerusalem.
15 You boast, “We have entered into a covenant with death,
    with the realm of the dead we have made an agreement.
When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by,
    it cannot touch us,
for we have made a lie our refuge
    and falsehood[b] our hiding place.

16 So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone,
    a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
the one who relies on it
    will never be stricken with panic.
17 I will make justice the measuring line
    and righteousness the plumb line;
hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie,
    and water will overflow your hiding place.
18 Your covenant with death will be annulled;
    your agreement with the realm of the dead will not stand.
When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by,
    you will be beaten down by it.
19 As often as it comes it will carry you away;
    morning after morning, by day and by night,
    it will sweep through.”

The understanding of this message
    will bring sheer terror.
20 The bed is too short to stretch out on,
    the blanket too narrow to wrap around you.
21 The Lord will rise up as he did at Mount Perazim,
    he will rouse himself as in the Valley of Gibeon
to do his work, his strange work,
    and perform his task, his alien task.
22 Now stop your mocking,
    or your chains will become heavier;
the Lord, the Lord Almighty, has told me
    of the destruction decreed against the whole land.

23 Listen and hear my voice;
    pay attention and hear what I say.
24 When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually?
    Does he keep on breaking up and working the soil?
25 When he has leveled the surface,
    does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin?
Does he not plant wheat in its place,[c]
    barley in its plot,[d]
    and spelt in its field?
26 His God instructs him
    and teaches him the right way.

27 Caraway is not threshed with a sledge,
    nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin;
caraway is beaten out with a rod,
    and cumin with a stick.
28 Grain must be ground to make bread;
    so one does not go on threshing it forever.
The wheels of a threshing cart may be rolled over it,
    but one does not use horses to grind grain.
29 All this also comes from the Lord Almighty,
    whose plan is wonderful,
    whose wisdom is magnificent.


  1. Isaiah 28:10 Hebrew / sav lasav sav lasav / kav lakav kav lakav (probably meaningless sounds mimicking the prophet’s words); also in verse 13
  2. Isaiah 28:15 Or false gods
  3. Isaiah 28:25 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
  4. Isaiah 28:25 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
New International Version (NIV)

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Isaiah 28 King James Version (KJV)

28 Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!

Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.

The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet:

And the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up.

In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people,

And for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.

But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.

For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.

Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.

10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.

12 To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.

13 But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

14 Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem.

15 Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:

16 Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.

17 Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.

18 And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.

19 From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report.

20 For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.

21 For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.

22 Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord God of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth.

23 Give ye ear, and hear my voice; hearken, and hear my speech.

24 Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? doth he open and break the clods of his ground?

25 When he hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin, and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rie in their place?

26 For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him.

27 For the fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about upon the cummin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod.

28 Bread corn is bruised; because he will not ever be threshing it, nor break it with the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it with his horsemen.

29 This also cometh forth from the Lord of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.

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