“The Men of Judah”

Brant Gardner

The subjects of the allegory are made explicit. The vineyard is the house of Israel and the vine, or that plants themselves represent “the men of Judah.”

“The justification for God’s action is found in the last part of the verse - the people receive a punishment commensurate with their sins. Isaiah uses striking word play to highlight the irony of the situation. Through similar sounds in words of opposite meaning, he accentuates the contrast between the expected ”justice“ (mishpat in the Hebrew) and resulting ”bloodshed“ (mispach). And instead of ”righteousness“ (tsedakah), the people bring forth a riotous ”cry" (tse’akah). A similar play on words in English is illustrated by the following translation of the last part of verse 7. This translation uses antithesis and alliteration to convey Isaiah’s message:

The Lord Looked for true measures,

But behold, massacres:

The right,

but behold, riots.

This type of literary device had a profound effect on the Hebrews, for they felt there was a power inherent in words that are mysteriously linked by similarity and contrast." (Ludlow, pp. 114-115)

“The style of this parable, in which the audience unknowingly condemns itself with an early judgement, is sometimes called a ”Trojan horse“ story, for the speaker disguises his intent until the end. By then the unsuspecting listeners have already passed sentence on the characters in the parable before realizing that they, themselves, are the ones being spoken about. This technique was used by Nathan as he described an unjust man to King David, who assented to his own guilt as he rebuked the wicked selfishness of the man (See 2 Sam. 12:1-8, 13.) Similarly, Jesus used this technique when he confronted the wicked chief priests and Pharisees and compared them to the wicked husbandmen. (Matt. 21:33-45.)” (Ludlow, p. 115)

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon