The second of five woes is aimed at Jerusalem. In Isaiah 29:1, the Bible says: “Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt…” Many scholars point out that the meaning of the word Ariel in Hebrew is ‘lion of God’ – portraying a strong city. It is relevant that the Hebrew word Ariel sounds like the Hebrew word for ‘altar’ or ‘hearth’. This is significant because the location of the altar of burnt offering was the Jerusalem Temple. Though the altar of the Temple was made to offer joyful sacrifices in repentance, the city itself will now burn as a sacrifice on the altar. Our reading covers a time of great difficulty and failure for Jerusalem. During Isaiah’s own life the Assyrians would surround Jerusalem, threatening its very existence. But God was merciful. King Hezekiah prayed for the people, and God delivered the city!
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