Isaiah 3:1-3 New American Standard Bible 1995

For behold, the Lord [a]God of hosts is going to remove from Jerusalem and Judah Both [b]supply and support, the whole [c]supply of bread And the whole [d]supply of water; 2 The mighty man and the warrior, The judge and the prophet, The diviner and the elder, 3 The captain of fifty and the honorable man, The counselor and the expert artisan, And the skillful enchanter.

Isaiah 3:1-3 English Standard Version

For behold, the Lord God of hosts is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah support and supply,[a] all support of bread, and all support of water; 2 the mighty man and the soldier, the judge and the prophet, the diviner and the elder, 3 the captain of fifty and the man of rank, the counselor and the skillful magician and the expert in charms.

Isaiah 3:1-3 New King James Version

For behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, Takes away from Jerusalem and from Judah The[a] stock and the store, The whole supply of bread and the whole supply of water; 2 The mighty man and the man of war, The judge and the prophet, And the diviner and the elder; 3 The captain of fifty and the [b]honorable man, The counselor and the skillful artisan, And the expert enchanter.

Isaiah 3:1-3 New Living Translation

The Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, will take away from Jerusalem and Judah everything they depend on: every bit of bread and every drop of water, 2 all their heroes and soldiers, judges and prophets, fortune-tellers and elders, 3 army officers and high officials, advisers, skilled sorcerers, and astrologers.

Isaiah 3:1-3 Contemporary English Version

The mighty Lord All-Powerful is going to take away from Jerusalem and Judah everything you need— your bread and water,

  • 2 soldiers and heroes, judges and prophets, leaders and army officers, 3 officials and advisors, fortunetellers and others who tell the future.

3:1-3 The Westminster Leningrad Codex 3 כִּי֩ הִנֵּ֨ה הָאָד֜וֹן יְהוָ֣ה צְבָא֗וֹת מֵסִ֤יר מִירוּשָׁלִַ֙ם֙ וּמִ֣יהוּדָ֔ה מַשְׁעֵ֖ן וּמַשְׁעֵנָ֑ה כֹּ֚ל מִשְׁעַן־לֶ֔חֶם וְכֹ֖ל מִשְׁעַן־מָֽיִם׃

2 גִּבּ֖וֹר וְאִ֣ישׁ מִלְחָמָ֑ה שׁוֹפֵ֥ט וְנָבִ֖יא וְקֹסֵ֥ם וְזָקֵֽן׃

3 שַׂר־חֲמִשִּׁ֖ים וּנְשׂ֣וּא פָנִ֑ים וְיוֹעֵ֛ץ וַחֲכַ֥ם חֲרָשִׁ֖ים וּנְב֥וֹן לָֽחַשׁ׃

As the bible reader studies and mediates on Isaiah 3, it would first seem reasonable to understand that God is going to remove supply, provision support and guidance from Jerusalem and Judah. Furthermore, it seems reasonable that the aforementioned bible passage suggests that God will remove judges, prophets, mighty men, warriors, elders, captains of military/police units, honorable men, expert artisans, etc.

However, some of the English bible translations shown above also mention: -( New Living Translation) fortune-tellers…… skilled sorcerers, and astrologers.

-( New King James Version) the diviner and the elder……..the expert enchanter.

-( Contemporary English Version) fortunetellers

-( New American Standard Bible 1995) diviner…..the skillful enchanter.

For 21st century bible readers like us, the aforementioned professions listed above seem to be professions that would have a pernicious affect on society. The reason being is that we would associate fortune-tellers, skilled sorcerers, astrologers, diviner, skillful/expert enchanters with the occult, black magic and witchcraft, and therefore diametrically opposed to Biblical lifestyle.

Thus, it probably would be a Godly blessing for God to put an end to said professions as opposed to said professions being put to an end due to Godly disciplinary action as stated in Isaiah 3:1

Therefore, it would be reasonable to surmise that there were some Hebrew-to-English translators faced some translation issues when it came to said professions’ names.

Could someone please read & analyze the Hebrew translations above, and provide some feedback & give more insight as to what the original Hebrew text meant when listing out said professions?

2 Answers 2


I suggest that the paraphrase "everything you need", which you quote from one of the versions, is a little misleading. That works for the first verse ("bread and water"), but it seems to me that the real theme after that is "everyone on whom you depend for leadership".

The non-religious leaders are the kind of people you would expect. The judge, the counsellor, the various kinds of military men. But the word "prophet" is ambiguous, because bad prophets exist (more so in Jeremiah's time) and need to be taken away. And I believe you are right about "the skilful magician and the expert in charms" in v3 (RSV). These are listed as "people you treat as leaders" rather than "good leaders". I don't think it's a translation issue, because all the translations quoted name the kind of activity which is banned in Deuteronomy ch18 vv10-12.

In support of that argument, the verses which follow continue the theme of "anarchy arising out of lack of leadership". "I will make boys their princes", v4, and as a result "people will oppress one another" and there will be no respect for elders or any kind of authority (v5). In fact men will even refuse to take on any leadership role, because the task will be too hard for them. When other people say "This heap of ruins shall be under your rule", they will reply "You shall not make me ruler of the people" (vv6-7).

This is what happens when "The Lord enters into judgement with the elders and princes of his people" (v14).


First, the prophecy in Isa 3:1-3 is about the devastation that will occur when Jerusalem and Judah is captured. This devastation is summarized in V1 with two words:

  • מִשְׁעֵן (Mishen) = support or protection, eg, 2 Sam 22;19, Ps 18:18, Isa 3:1 (three times in verse)
  • מִשְׁעֵנָה (Mishenah) = support of all kinds, staff/rod, eg, Ex 21:18, 19, Judges 6:21, 2 Kings 4:29, 31, 2 Kings 18:21, Ps 23:4, Isa 3:1, 36:6, Eze 29:6, Zech 8:4

Isaiah then lists what this includes. The following would be destroyed/removed:

  • (V1) - all bread/food supplies (מִשְׁעֵן as above)
  • (V1) - all water supplies (מִשְׁעֵן as above)
  • (V2) - the mighty/heros (גִּבּוֹר = strong mighty)
  • (V2) - men of war
  • (V2) - Judges (שָׁפַט = to judge or govern)
  • (V2) - prophets (נָבִיא = spokesman, speaker, prophet)
  • (V2) - diviner (קָסַם = to practice divination)
  • (V2) - elders (זָקֵן = old or elders)
  • (V3) - captains of fifty
  • (V3) - honorable men (זָקֵן = to lift, carry, take)
  • (V3) - counselors (יָעַץ = to advise, counsel)
  • (V3) - skilled craftsman (חֲרָשִׁים = craftsman, skilled artisan)
  • (V3) - expert enchanter (לַחַשׁ = a whispering, charming)

This list simply gives numerous examples of the opening statement that when Jerusalem and Judah are captured, God will removed "both supply and support". That is, everything that makes a civil society function. In modern terms, we might translate this as, "remove all city infrastructure", or similar.

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