"A Covenant With Death"

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Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 198

Context: Isaiah, prophet of the Almighty, declares his vision of "Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah." Denouncing the chosen people for their sins and urging them to obedience, he prophesies the coming of a messiah and the final greatness of Jerusalem and Judah. In his denunciation of Judah's present leaders, he compares the once magnificent Ephraim, which has now fallen because of its wickedness, with contemporary Judah, whose rulers are drunkards and have no faith in the Lord. They have even signed a pact with death, the god of the underworld, for their protection:

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Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that
rule this people which is in Jerusalem.
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:
Therefore thus saith the Lord God, . . .
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.

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