Much confusion and many needless eschatological debates have been caused by the negligent mistranslation of the Hebrew text of certain parts of this chapter of Isaiah.
Isaiah’s plea for the redemption of his people on behalf of the righteous remnant is now responded to by HaShem. Throughout this chapter Adonay makes a distinction between the faithful and the unfaithful among Israel and between Israel, who He refers to using the Hebrew “am” tribe, people, and the nations, who He refers to using the Hebrew “goy” nation. Quite contrary to the Christian Successionism (evolved replacement theology) nonsense that is pervasive in our time, the prophet is not speaking of God’s rejecting of His chosen, ethnic, religious people (tribe) Israel. In fact, Rav Shaul (Paul) ha-shaliach (the sent one) explains this well when he says that the blindness of Israel (ethnic, religious) is partial and for the sake of the redemption of the goyim (nations), then, something miraculous, all the remnant of Israel ethnic, religious, the chosen tribe of God, will be saved (Romans 11:25-26).
In the current chapter with regard to Israel, God accuses the unfaithful among her of the worst forms of syncretism and idolatry and the faithful He calls His righteous servants and promises a time of deliverance, redemption, salvation and freedom in a land devoid of oppression, an eternal land yet future. This is of course an allusion to the Olam Haba (World to come), a place beyond the shackles of time and space which many Christians mistakenly call Heaven.
Much confusion and many needless eschatological debates have been caused by the negligent mistranslation of the Hebrew text of certain parts of this chapter of Isaiah. From verse 17 onward one must very carefully render the Hebrew text in such a way as to avoid unnecessary frustration and confusion to the English reader. Almost every popular Christian English translation (including the TLV and D. H. Stern translations) makes translational choices that force the text into a contradictory spiral, and all for lack of due consideration for the Hebrew text and Hebrew thought. My translation attempts to convey the Hebrew text as accurately as possible, and although at times this makes for awkward reading, it none the less avoids the foolish theological conundrums inspired by other English translations.
Isa 65:1 Nidrashtiy lelo sha’alu I am sought by those who don’t ask; nimtzeitiy lelo vikshuniy I am found by those who don’t seek Me. Amartiy I said, “Hineiniy Behold, now, here I am, ready and willing, hineiniy Behold, now, here I am, ready and willing,” el-goy to a nation lo kora vishmiy not called in (by) My Name.
The speaker is HaShem via the prophet. The key to understanding the identity of the “goy” nation being spoken of, is the phrase “Not called by My Name”. Israel (Yisra: overcome, El: in God) is called by God’s Name. This is one of the primary reasons that God will never forsake Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen). Thus, the present verse is seen to refer to those that are not ethnically or religiously Israel, nor will they ever be called by the ethnic, religious title “Israel” (as many Christian theologians foolishly [Satanically) suggest). To the contrary, this verse is simply expounding the fact that Salvation Himself will make Himself available to the nations even though they have neither been called nor named for the God of Israel.
“I am sought by those who don’t ask; I am found by those who don’t seek Me.” Essentially this statement conveys the idea that although the nations were devoid of knowledge of God and His Torah, and were subsequently not afforded the language required to ask, and the cognition to seek, none the less they have seen God revealed in His creation, and have also seen the light of the Servant King Messiah shining from Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen), and have sought Him using what they did know and could say. This in stark contrast to the unfaithful among Israel at the time, who though they had the knowledge of God and His Torah, did not seek Him in a right way but instead turned to idolatry and debauchery. Therefore:
“when Gentiles, who do not have the Torah, do by nature the things of the Torah, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the Torah. 15 They show that the work of the Torah is written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts switching between accusing or defending them 16 on the day when God judges the secrets of men according to my Good News through Messiah Yeshua.” -Romans 2:14-16 (TLV)
Speaking of the Messiah Isaiah 55:5 reflects this same understanding:
“Behold, you will summon a nation you do not know,
and a nation that did not know you will run to you,
because of Adonai your God
and the Holy One of Israel,
for He has glorified you.” -Isaiah 55:5 (TLV)
“I said, ‘Behold, now, here I am, ready and willing, Behold, now, here I am, ready and willing,’ to a nation not called in (by) My Name.” With the exception of Rabbi Moses Hakkohen, the majority of Jewish commentators are wrong in concluding that this verse refers to Israel using the Hebrew “goy”. This is simply impossible: although on rare occasions Israel is called a “goy”, she is more often labelled “am” a tribe (people) and not a “goy” nation. This is because God is making a clear distinction in the Tanakh (OT) between the people of Israel who bear His Name and the peoples of the nations who do not. Additionally, the phrase “a nation not called by My Name” disqualifies Israel, who have and will continue to be called by God’s Name.
Rav Shaul (Paul) explains the meaning of Isaiah 65:1-2 in clear terms, making a distinction between Isaiah 65:1 and Isaiah 65:2 when he quotes the prophet’s words in reference to the salvation of the gentiles:
“And Isaiah is so bold as to say,
‘I was found by those who did not seek Me;
I became visible to those who did not ask for Me.’
21 But about Israel He says,
‘All day long I stretched forth My hands
to a disobedient and contrary people.’” -Romans 10:20-21 (TLV)
It is important to remind ourselves at this juncture, of the way that Isaiah uses the terms “am, amiym” tribe, tribes and “goy, goyim” nation, nations, in his scroll. With the exception of qualified singular use, “The nation, My nation, a nation in a day” etc. (Isa.1:4; 9:3; 10:6; 26:2,15 49:7; 58:2; 60:22; 66:8) Isaiah exclusively uses “am, amiym” tribe, tribes to refer to Israel, and “goy, goyim” nation, nations, to refer to nations other than Israel. While there are a number of exceptions they’re easily identified due to contextual variances and qualifying language. In the present text no such variance or qualifying language exists except when referring to the “am” tribe (Israel): therefore, we can conclude that the prophet is using the terms “goy” and “am” to in counter-distinction to distinguish between the two groups within the text of Isaiah 65.
“In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the amiym (tribes of Israel)—of Him shall the goyim (nations) inquire, and His dwelling place shall be glorious. -Isaiah 11:10
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Messiah, for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe, always first for the Jew and also always for the Greek (non-Jew).” -Romans 1:16 (YBYT)
Isa 65:2 Perastiy I spread out, broke in pieces yaday My hands kol-hayom all the day el-am to a people sorier rebellious, haholechiym whose walkings ha’derech are the way lo-tov that is not good, achar following machshevoteiyhem their own thoughts, devices, inventions, purposes;
“I have sent my prophets every day unto a rebellious people, which walk in a way which was not good, after their own thoughts;” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“But about Israel He says,
‘All day long I stretched forth My hands
to a disobedient and contrary people.’” -Romans 10:21 (TLV)
“I spread out, broke in pieces My hands all the day to a people rebellious” Having spoken of a nation that has not known Him, HaShem now speaks to the people (am: tribe) who do know Him. The language infers suffering, and specifically damage to the hands. There is a strong correlation here with the type of death suffered by the Servant King Messiah. The expression “All day long” conveys a sense of God’s limitless patience, while also reading as an indictment against unfaithful Israel’s stubbornness. Thus, they had remained a rebellious people, rebellion being both the cause and fruit of idolatry.
“whose walkings ha’derech are the way lo-tov that is not good” In Hebrew “ha-derech” the way, often carries a figurative spiritual sense, like the term “halakhah” meaning, the way we walk. The same is intended here. The Hebrew “lo-tov” not good, is far more than a colloquial expression. In this context “not good” (lo-tov) means “evil” (ra). This is in direct contradiction to the words of the psalmist “Lead me in Your Way everlasting”. The way that is “not good” is the way to death. This reference to choosing not to do good correlates to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen.2:9) and finds its counterpoint in verse 22 where “ha-eiytz” the tree (a reference to the Tree of Life/Living known as Eiytz Chayim) is mentioned.
“following their own thoughts, devices, inventions, purposes” This verse exposes the foundation for unfaithful Israel’s sin and the reason for the pursuant affliction. This verse also foreshadows the following verse and the burning of incense on man-made bricks.
Isa 65:3 Ha’am The tribe hamachiysiym who provoke (anger) otiy Me al-panay to My face tamiyd continually, zovechiym sacrificing (slaughtering) baganot in gardens umekateriym and burning incense (offerings of smoke) al-haleveiniym on bricks;
“A people that provoke my Word to anger continually to my face; that sacrifice in gardens to idols, and offer aromatic spices upon bricks;” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“Ha’am The tribe hamachiysiym who provoke (anger) otiy Me al-panay to My face tamiyd continually” The provocation of Israel is ever before the face of God because He is always concerned for Israel’s well-being. Unqualified, the Hebrew “Ha’am” always refers to Israel, the tribe of God.
“sacrificing (slaughtering) baganot in gardens umekateriym and burning incense (offerings of smoke) al-haleveiniym on bricks;” Altars of brick are in direct contradiction to the prescribed altar of HaShem which was to be made of uncut stones, meaning that human manufacture had nothing to do with the altar of Hashem whereas the altars to foreign deities were often erected using man-made bricks and cut stone (Exodus 20:25; Joshua 8:31).
“Bricks” may also be rendered “tiles”, which is consistent with the words of the prophet Jeremiah:
“The houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah—all the houses on whose roofs offerings have been offered to all the host of heaven, and drink offerings have been poured out to other gods—shall be defiled like the place of Topheth.” -Jeremiah 19:13 (ESV)
Isa 65:4 Hayosheviym who sit bakevariym in tombs, uvanetzuriym and keep watch yaliynu overnight; ha’ocheliym who eat besar flesh hachaziyr of pigs, umerak and broth piguliym of tainted meat (foul refuse) kleiyhem is in their vessels, implements, utensils;
"who dwell in houses built of the dust of graves, and lodge with the corpse of the children of men;'' -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“who sit in tombs, and keep watch overnight” This reflects a Canaanite occult practice and is related to necromancy, speaking to the dead, which is explicitly forbidden in Scripture (Deut.18:11; 1 Sam.28:3).
If the last clause refers to the vessels of the Temple service, then this is an horrific indictment against the worst kind of syncretism. The meat of unclean animals caused ritual uncleanness (Lev.11:7; Deut.14:8), but its figurative application here concerns a far more heinous spiritual condition (Isaiah 66:17).
Isa 65:5 Haomeriym Who say, “Kerav eileicha al-tigash-biy Keep to yourself, do not come near me, kiy kedashtiycha for I am too holy for you.” Eileh These ashan are a smoke beapiy in My nostrils, eish yokedet kol-hayom a fire that burns all the day.
Such was the syncretistic hypocrisy of the unfaithful in Israel at that time that they considered their mixture of Jewish and pagan rites as a mechanism that actually purified them and set them apart as holy.
“Smoke in My nostrils” is an expression of irritation spoken as a counterpoint to the offering of incense in verse 3. We note that in counter distinction to God holding out His hands all day long (v.2), unfaithful Israel provokes Him with her sin all day long.
Isa 65:6 Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, chetuvah it is written (ketubah) lefanay before My face: “Lo echeseh kiy I will not keep silent, im-shilamtiy not concerning My contract of peace; veshilamtiy and My contract of peace al-cheiykam is upon her breast (bosom)
“Chetuvah”, literally “it is written”, is also the name for the marriage contract (agreement) written by the Jewish groom as a promise of provision, honour, shelter, fidelity etc. to the bride. It is worth noting that in ancient Jewish betrothal tradition (still practiced by many today), it is the groom alone who writes this promissory contract and gives it to the bride: the bride writes no such document but must simply accept the proposed agreement, written by the groom as an assurance for her wellbeing in the covenant of marriage. This document is usually framed and mounted on the wall of the couple’s home in a prominent location.
“I will not keep silent, not concerning My contract of peace; and My contract of peace is upon her breast (bosom)” The contract of peace which is of God (the Groom) is a reference to the chetuvah (marriage contract/agreement) in the previous clause. Thus, HaShem is saying that He has made a written agreement of fidelity, protection and provision which Israel His bride (wife) had accepted (at Sinai), and He will not keep silent about it. He will ensure that His commitment to her is honoured even if Israel (His bride/wife) has forsaken Him and committed spiritual adultery.
Isa 65:7 Avonoteiychem Your depravity va’avonot and your fathers' avonoteiychem depravity yachdav together, amar says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy); asher those who kiteru burned incense (smoke offerings) al-hehariym on the mountains ve’al-hagevaot and on the hills cheirefuniy blasphemed (taunted, defied) Me, umadotiy I will measure out feulatam payments rishonah for their former deeds el-cheiykam against them.”
This is not the sins of the fathers being meted out against the sons, rather it is the combined sins of both the fathers and the sons being recompensed with the justice of God.
The mountains and the hills were the high places where various deities were being worshipped in direct opposition to the God of Israel. Worse still, there were those who were combining Jewish worship practice with pagan worship practice on these high places and were thus blaspheming YHVH by associating His holy Name with the names of false gods and created things.
Isa 65:8 Koh Thus amar says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy): “ka’asher As yimatzei hatiyrosh the new wine is found baeshkol in the cluster, ve’amar and it is said, ‘Al-tashchiyteihu Do not destroy it, kiy for verachah blessing bo is in it,’ kiy so e’eseh I will act lema’an on behalf avaday of My servants', leviltiy hashchiyt hakol and not destroy the whole.
This analogy reflects the practice of the vinedresser when finding a missed cluster of grapes after the harvested fruit of the vineyard has been pressed into new wine. This cluster is added to the already pressed fruit rather than being left to go to waste. In the same way God has His eye on the holy remnant (faithful Israelites: ethnic, religious, chosen), and will ensure their inclusion in His redemptive purposes. This idea of a holy remnant among the ethnic, religious, chosen people of Israel is conveyed throughout the scroll of Isaiah (1:9; 10-20-23; 11:11-16).
We note that in this chapter the faithful Jewish remnant are called out from the whole community of “My servants”, and set apart as good “servants”, teaching us that service and faithfulness are brothers and that relationship in God gives birth to them both.
“Do not destroy it, for blessing is in it” There is both symbolic and practical blessing in the discovery of a last bunch of grapes found late in the harvest. Practically speaking it is these grapes that are used to create the sweet Kiddush wine used in the ceremonial blessings of Shabbat and the moeidim (feasts), and spiritually speaking the Lord always saves the best for last (John 2:10-11).
Isa 65:9 Vehotzeitiy And I will bring forth miyakov from Jacob (Follower) zera offspring (seed), umiyhudah and from Judah (Praise) yoreish an inheritor hariy of My mountains; viyreishuah vechiyray and My chosen One shall possess it, va’avaday and my servants yishkenu-shamah shall dwell there.
“And I will bring forth miyakov from Jacob (Follower) zera offspring (seed)” The language here is very specific and puts an end to the lies of the successionist (replacement) theology proponents. Jacob is ethnic, religious, chosen Israel, and NOT the Church (Body of believers). Further, while “seed” here can be understood to refer to the righteous remnant that will be saved in Messiah by grace through faith alone, the following phrase regarding Judah refers to an individual.
“and from Judah (Praise) yoreish an inheritor hariy of My mountains” This statement refers to an individual Who will inherit authority over all God’s mountains. This can be no other than the King Messiah, the greater son of David Who is promised to rule over Israel and the nations. We also note that all the mountains will belong to God, meaning that all idolatry associated with the high places will be removed.
“and My chosen One shall possess it, va’avaday and my servants yishkenu-shamah shall dwell there.” The chosen One is the Inheritor of the previous verse and the servants of Hashem are the righteous remnant of Israel, Jews, who will inhabit the new land forever under the rule of Israel’s One true King.
Isa 65:10 Vehayah And it will come to pass Hasharon the Sharon (a plain) tzon will be a pasture for flocks, ve’eimek and the Valley of Achor (trouble) lereivetz bakar a place for herds to lie down, leamiy for My tribe asher who derashuniy have sought (enquired of) Me with care.
The Sharon plain is the fertile valley stretching from the Carmel mountains in the north of Israel all the way down to Yafo (Tel Aviv) in the south, and the Achor valley runs from the lower regions of the river Jordan to the plains of Jericho in the south. Therefore, the meaning is that the redeemed children of Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen) will inhabit all of the land promised by God to Abraham.
Israel had a shepherding history in Sharon:
“Over the herds that pastured in Sharon was Shitrai the Sharonite; over the herds in the valleys was Shaphat the son of Adlai.” -1 Chronicles 27:29 (ESV)
Achor was named for Achan who was stoned for withholding spoils of war from God, and because of the trouble he gave to Israel (Joshua 7:26). Therefore, there is a redemptive quality to this allusion.
We note that through the prophet, HaShem calls ethnic, religious Israel (the Jewish people) “amiy” My tribe, as being distinct from all other tribes of the earth, and more specifically He speaks of those who are of the tribe of Israel who have sought Him with care (the righteous remnant).
Isa 65:11 Ve’atem And you (plural) ozeveiy who forsake HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), hashecheichiym who forget et-har kadshiy My holy mountain, ha’orechiym who set lagad for Gad (Fortune, invader) shulchan a table, veham’maliym lamniy mimesach and fill cups for Meniy (god of destiny [fate] of the Babylonians) as drink offerings,
Having spoken of the righteous remnant HaShem now speaks to the wicked majority. Where the righteous had “sought” Him the wicked have “forsaken” Him. They had turned their back on the prescribed worship of the Torah and the Temple (Holy Mountain, Zion, Jerusalem) cult and had instead worshipped foreign gods and in some cases syncretised both practices.
“who set lagad for Gad (Fortune, invader) shulchan a table” Gad was a Semitic god of fortune who the unfaithful among Israel were worshipping and relying on to tell them their future. The setting of tables can refer to both food offerings and fortune telling practices which were the precursors to modern day tarot card reading etc. It is interesting to note that the Hebrew meaning of Gad is “invader”.
“and fill cups for Meniy (god of destiny [fate] of the Babylonians) as drink offerings” Meniy was the Babylonian deity of destiny or fate. And the pouring of drink offerings was probably associated with actions like reading coffee grounds or tea leaves, and or their equivalent.
Thus, both deities, one from the Canaanites and one from the far off land of Babylon, were being sought after for divining the future. The tragedy is that given the other textual evidence, it is likely that cups that were intended for use in the worship of Hashem were being used instead in the worship of this false deity.
The Greeks and Romans had similar deities in Jupiter and Venus.
Isa 65:12 Umaniytiy And I will destine (fate) etchem you (plural) lacherev to the sword, vechulechem and all of you latevach will go to slaughter tichra’u bowing down, ya’an because, karatiy I called, ve’lo aniytem and you did not answer; dibartiy I spoke, ve’lo shematem and you did not listen, va’ta’asu ha-ra but you did the evil be’eiynay in My eyes uva’asher lo-chafatztiy bechartem and chose what I did not delight in.”
“Umaniytiy And I will destine (fate) etchem you (plural) lacherev to the sword,” “Maniytiy” meaning “I will destine you” is a play on words concerning Meniy the Babylonian deity of fate or destiny whose name is based on the same Hebrew root. Therefore, God is saying, “So you want to know your destiny, so be it, the destiny of the wicked is the sword (death)”.
“I called, and you did not answer; I spoke, and you did not listen, but you did the evil in My eyes and chose what I did not delight in.” Put simply, “You were given ample opportunity to receive My grace and mercy, and instead you refused My love, My constant calling (all day long) and chose, not an evil but the evil (lo-tov, not good), that is, to reject the redeeming love of God in favour of idolatry, lust, debauchery and self-deification.”
Isa 65:13 Lachein Therefore koh thus amar says Adonay HaShem (YHVH: Mercy): “Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, avaday My servants yocheilu shall eat, ve’atem but you (plural) tiranu will go hungry; hineih behold, now, pay attention, avaday My servants yoshtu shall drink, ve’atem but you (plural) titzmau will go thirsty; hineih behold, now, pay attention, avaday My servants yismachu shall rejoice, ve’atem but you teivoshu will be put to shame;
Here the Lord makes a clear distinction between the righteous remnant of Israel and the wicked. This distinction is reflected in the practicalities of life: the righteous will have food, drink and joy but the wicked will have none of those things. In fact, this is an analogy concerning the death of the wicked and is a precursor to the eternal death of the wicked.
Isa 65:14 Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, avaday My servants yaronu shall sing mituv from goodness leiv of heart (core being), ve’atem but you (plural) titzaku will cry out mike’eiv from pain leiv of heart (core being) umisheiver and from ruin ruach of spirit teyeililu you will wail.
“My servants yaronu shall sing mituv from goodness leiv of heart (core being)” The Hebrew is careful to say that the servants of God will sing “from goodness of heart”, meaning that their joy and singing is the fruit of God, Who alone is good, dwelling within them.
“but you (plural) will cry out from pain of heart (core being) and from ruin of spirit you will wail.” In stark contrast to the righteous the wicked will cry out from the pain of having rejected God and the ruining of spirit that results.
Isa 65:15 Ve’hinachtem shimchem And you (plural) shall leave your (plural) name lishvuah as a curse, livchiyray for My Chosen One vehemitecha will slay you, Adonay HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), vela’avadayv but His servants yikra He will call sheim acheir by another name,
Speaking of Israel in her sinful state Jeremiah reflects the same sentiment:
“I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a reproach, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them.” -Jeremiah 24:9 (ESV)
“And you (plural) shall leave your (plural) name as a curse, for My Chosen One will slay you,” This refers to the unfaithful among Israel. It does not refer to all Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen).
“but His servants He will call by another name,” Primarily, at least in a national sense “Name” is associated with reputation, therefore, the name of ill repute due to wickedness will be transformed by God through Messiah so that Israel is given a new name (reputation) of honour.
Ultimately redeemed Israel will be called by the Name of HaShem’s King Messiah Yeshua. It is not an indication that Israel will no longer be called Israel but rather, in the same way Jacob (follower) became Israel (One who overcomes in God) [Gen.32:28], Israel will have a transforming experience of the same Man that Jacob once wrestled with, only they will wrestle with the Man and be saved as an entire nation (Romans 11:25-26). This Man is of course Yeshua the King Messiah. Therefore, the new name of ethnic, religious, chosen and redeemed Israel is in the King Messiah, and they will retain their unique identity in Him.
Isa 65:16 Asher Because hamitbareich he who blesses ba’aretz in the land yitbareich shall bless beiloheiy in the God amein of truth (agreeing), ve’hanishba and he who takes an oath ba’aretz in the land yishava shall swear beiloheiy in the God amein of truth (agreeing); Kiy because nishkechu forgotten, (withered) hatzarot are the troubles harishonot of the first things ve’kiy and because nisteru they’re concealed mei’einay from My eyes.
The new name given to the redeemed remnant of Israel through Messiah will direct people to God and all of redeemed Israel in the promised land of Israel will know that they have come to the land through God’s redemptive work both spiritual and physical. Therefore, they will say yes and amen in agreement with the manifestation of God’s redemption, and will constantly bless and acknowledge the God of Truth.
“because forgotten, (withered) are the troubles of the first things and because they’re concealed from My eyes.” This final clause is a transition to the next verse which declares the new creation. Notice that the Hebrew literally says “first things” and not “former things” (as most English translations). This is important. Former things can be any number of things prior to the present but first things refers specifically to the creation of the heavens and the earth, the first universe and its order, the entry of sin and death etc.
Isa 65:17 “Kiy For hiniy behold, I vorei create shamayim heavens chadashiym new (ones) ve’aretz and the land chadashah new, ve’lo and not to be tizarcharnah recalled (remembered) are harishonot the first things ve’lo and nor ta’aleiyna will they ascend al-leiv upon My inner being (heart, core being).
At this point, given the clear explanation of the new creation and the putting away entirely of the first things, that is the first creation which became sin affected: we must understand that what follows is a description (albeit in part poetic) of the Olam Haba (World to come), the new heavens and the new earth which is later alluded to in the Revelation of Yeshua to Yochanan. Therefore, any seemingly temporal language is subject to the everlasting nature of the new creation, and cannot, as some foolishly suggest, refer to some sort of dispensational, so called, millennial reign period, as if life and death might continue for the redeemed of the Lord. There is no death in the world to come (Rev.21:4).
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
2 I also saw the holy city—the New Jerusalem—coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 I also heard a loud voice from the throne, saying,
“Behold, the dwelling of God is among men,
and He shall tabernacle among them.
They shall be His people,
and God Himself shall be among them
and be their God.
4 He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes,
and death shall be no more.
Nor shall there be mourning or crying or pain any longer,
for the former things have passed away.”
5 And the One seated upon the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new!” -Revelation 21:1-5a (TLV)
Isa 65:18 Kiy im-siysu But be glad vegiylu and rejoice adeiy-ad until perpetuity (forever) ahser in that which Aniy I vorei create; Kiy for hiniy behold, I vorei create et-Yerushalayim (The Jerusalem: A flood of Peace) giylah to be a joy, ve’amah and her tribe masos from exultation.
This is not as some suggest describing a temporal renewal prior to eternity, it cannot be, for it states clearly “Be glad and rejoice FOREVER in that which I create…”
By using the determiner “et” prior to “Yerushalayim” the Hebrew text infers a Jerusalem that is outside of time and space, thus “The Jerusalem” perpetual. This is prophetic allusion to the New Jerusalem later described in Yeshua’s Revelation to Yochanan.
Isa 65:19 Ve’galtiy I will rejoice viyrushalayim in Jerusalem ve’sastiy and I will exult ve’amiy in My tribe; ve’lo-yishama bah od and no more perpetually shall be heard kol a voice bechiy of weeping ve’kol and a voice ze’akah of distressed crying.
Although there will be people from all nations in the new Jerusalem, that is not the meaning here. Redeemed Israel is specifically alluded to as “My tribe”. As a people we have endured His rebuke, now we will receive His redemption and the reward that accompanies it.
Isa 65:20 Lo-yihyeh It shall not come about misham from this place od perpetually ul an infant yamiym who lives but a few days, ve’zakein and an old person asher who lo-yemalei does not complete his days, et-yamayn the days kiy for ha’na’ar the young man will be as ben-meiah a son of a hundred shanah years; yamot it will come about that dead ve’hachote will be the sinner (who remains in guilt, unclean, continues to miss the mark) meiah a hundred shanah years yekulal accursed.
“Et-yamayn” the days, like “Et-Yerushalayim” the Jerusalem (v.18), is an allusion to those days not subject to time and space, and therefore, any allusion to length is figurative, given that eternity has no beginning or end. Likewise “ha’na’ar” the young man is a singular typology referring to the nature of the renewed (resurrected) human being, as different from “na’ar” a young man of the present sin affected creation (age). Notice that the counterpoint to this is “ha’chote” the sinner, which uses the determiner “ha” as denoting the sin affected human being who has remained in his condition by refusing the grace of God. In both the case of the redeemed young man and the sinner, one hundred years is used as a figure for eternity, being the multiplication of the Hebrew number 10 (which represents fullness) by itself (10 x 10 = 100). We know this because verses 17 through 19 speak in terms of “perpetuity, eternity, going round forever”. Therefore, the language concerning the living and the dead is figurative and indicates the nature of both the renewed resurrected human in Messiah and the human resurrected unto eternal punishment through rejection of the King Messiah.
Isa 65:21 U’vanu And they shall build vatiym houses veyashavu and inhabit them; ve’nate’u and they shall plant cheramiym vineyards ve’achelu and eat their piryam fruit.
“They” are the righteous of the former verse, after all, the (perpetually) dead cannot plant and reap, nor can they drink.
Those who say there will be no eating or drinking in the Olam Haba (world to come) have obviously never read the words of the King Messiah Who says, “I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." -Matthew 26:29 (NIV)
Isa 65:22 Lo yivnu They shall not build ve’acheir and another yei’sheiv inhabit; lo yite’u they shall not plant ve’acheir yocheil and another eat; kiy-chiymeiy for like the days Ha-eitz of the tree yemeiy shall the days amiy of My tribe be, uma’aseih and yedeiyhem of their hands yevalu they will enjoy vechiyray My chosen.
It is tragic that so many English versions of the Bible mistranslate “ha-eiytz” the tree, as “a tree”. What foolish misdirection this is. The Hebrew says “ha-eiytz” for a reason, that reason being that the days of human beings in the Olam Haba (world to come) are being likened to the days of Eiytz Chayim the tree of life (living) which is perpetual, everlasting.
Isa 65:23 Lo yigeu They shall not labour lariyk in vain ve’lo yeledu or bear children labehalah for calamity, kiy for they are zera a seed berucheiy blessed by HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) heimah Whom ve’tze’etza’eiyhem their offspring are near to.
Labouring in vain is the fruit of the fallen creation, it will not be possible in the Olam Haba (world to come). They will not bear children for calamity because there will no longer be procreation of the human species (Mark 12:25; Matt. 22:30) and there will no longer be sin or death and therefore no calamity.
“for they are a seed blessed by HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Whom their offspring are near to.” The first clause refers to Israel and the second clause refers to all born to Israel prior to the return of Messiah who receive Messiah and are reconciled to God. It does not, as some suggest, refer to offspring born in a millennial transitional period prior to the fullness of the Olam Haba (World to come).
Isa 65:24 Ve’hayah And it will come about that terem-yikrau Before they call va’aniy e’eneh I will answer; od hem while they are yet medaberiym speaking eshma I will hear.
This is the counterpoint to the rejection of God’s call by the wicked (v.2, 11). Whereas the wicked refused to hear (though Hashem held out His hands all day long), the righteous living in intimate relationship with God in the Olam Haba (world to come) will have such a beautiful intrinsic form of communication with Him that His loving answer will precede their request and both the speaking and the hearing of metaphysical conversation will be made one (echad), a complex and perpetual unity.
Isa 65:25 Ze’eiv A wolf ve’taleh and a lamb yiru will feed che’echad together; ve’aryeih and a lion kabakar like a bullock, yochal will eat teven straw, venachash and the snake’s afar lachmo food will be the dust. Lo yarei’u They shall not do evil velo-yashchiytu or corrupt bechol-har kadshiy in all my holy mountain,” amar says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
The wolf and lamb feeding together is a poetic figure which denotes the cessation of death (those animals once carnivorous will no longer be carnivorous). The imagery is of course cemented by the proceeding clause concerning the vegan lion. However, just because the language is figurative doesn’t mean it is not also literal. The idea of a new earth without animals (an idea that many are adamant about), is ludicrous in light of the nature of the first creation and the consistent message of Scripture concerning the renewal of all things. Or else, why does “all creation (which includes animals) eagerly await the revealing of the sons of God”? (Romans 8:19) Therefore, with the exception of the serpent (perhaps), it seems very likely that the new earth will be populated by animals of the new creation.
“The snake’s food will be the dust” is a figure denoting the eternal punishment of ha-Satan (the Devil). In counter distinction to the first creation where the snake (Satan) entered the story at the beginning and seeded death, at the inception of the new creation the snake (Satan) will be exited from creation unto death everlasting.
“They shall not do evil or corrupt in all my holy mountain,” This phrasing refers to all the enemies of God and His people both spiritual and physical. That is, those who have fallen prey to the sin and death seeded by the Serpent (Satan), who have now been cast along with the Serpent (Satan) into the lake of fire which is the second and everlasting death (Revelation 20:14-15).
“They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
for the land will be full of the knowledge of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy),
as the waters will cover the sea.” -Isaiah 11:9
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
In the sense that God is in control of all things and that He allows but is not subject to free will, the phrase “You make us wander” is accurate. It is in fact in our wandering that we discover the need for direction.
Isa 63:1 Miy zeh Who is this ba Who comes mei’edom from Edom (red), chamutz in leavened, fermented, dyed crimson begadiym garments mibatzrah from Bozrah (sheepfold), zeh hadur this One Who is splendid, honourable, glorious, majestic bilvusho in His clothing, tzo’eh stooping berov in the greatness kocho of His strength? “Aniy It is I, me’dabeir speaking bitzdakah in righteousness, rav mighty lehoshiya to save.”
There are a number of reasons we understand the speaker in verse 1 to be HaShem, and by extension the Servant King Messiah. First, chapter 62:11 speaks of Salvation the Person (Yeshua) coming to deliver Israel (Zion, Jerusalem), following which the prophet speaks of the redeemed people of Zion and the titles by which the redeemed city of Jerusalem will be described. Therefore, the One described in verse 1 of Isaiah 63 must be the Salvation that comes in 62:11, bringing reward and recompense (just vengeance). Second, only God Himself is capable of truly saving Israel, which alerts us again to the intrinsic connection between the Servant Redeemer, Who is Salvation, and HaShem. In fact, the Salvation personified in the previous chapter is that of God Himself coming as God with us, the King Messiah. He comes with reward for the redeemed and recompense for the wicked.
“Some refer this to Messiah, others to the angel Michael; but more correctly it may be referred to God.” -Iben Ezra
A number of Jewish commentators, both ancient and modern, interpret this portion of Isaiah as referring to the Messiah, specifically in relation to what they understand as His first (only) coming. They also understand Edom as being figurative of Rome, given that the political and physical end of the Edomites actually occured during the Maccabean period (167-160 BCE), when the Edomites were conquered and forced into conversion to Judaism. Following this their land became nothing more than a desert wasteland.
When the King Messiah shall come, he will be clothed in purple, beautiful to look at, which in colour shall be like to wine for the clothing of the King Messiah shall be silk, red as blood; and it shall be worked with the needle in various colours, and he shall be the Head of Israel; and this is what is said in Isa. 63:3 ‘wherefore art thou red in thy apparel?’'' - R. Moses Haddarsan in Bereshit Rabba in Gen. xlix. 11.
“the Ishmaelites or Turks shall fight three battles in the latter day; one in the forest of Arabia; another in the sea; and a third in the great city Rome, which shall be greater than the other two; and from thence shall spring the Messiah, and he shall look upon the destruction of the one and of the other, and from thence shall he come into the land of Israel, as it is said, ‘who is this that comes from Edom?’” - Pirke Eliezer, c. 30. fol. 32. 1.
“the Ishmaelites or Turks shall come against Rome, and destroy it; and then shall be revealed the Messiah, the son of David, and shall complete the redemption of the Lord, according to Dan 12:1 … the son of David, shall be of the Jews that are in the captivity of Edom (or Rome), Isa. 63:1 ‘who is this that comes from Edom?’” – Abarbinel; Mashmiah Yeshuah, fol. 44. 1, 2.
Also the Jewish commentator Kimchi interprets the present verse as prophetic of the time to come (Messianic age). However, although it is true that the King Messiah is intended, the present text relates to His second coming, and not to any current historical event or to His ascension to heaven, after his death and resurrection; which took place in Judea, and on the Mount Olives, near to Jerusalem (not in or from Edom, which is south east of Jerusalem). Therefore, the present text finds its greater fulfilment yet future, when Messiah returns to take vengeance on the anti-messiah, and all the anti-messianic powers (empire of the Beast).
Edom, while being a brother nation to Israel, also symbolises pagan opposition toward God and Israel (Chosen, ethnic, religious) [Isa.34:5; Jer.25:22; 49:17].
Bozrah was once a strong city in Edom on the shore of the Sea of Salt (Dead Sea). Edom is another name for Esau (Gen. 36:8), and comes from the root adom (red), thus, blood stains or wine juice, the blood of grapes. Bozrah, meaning sheepfold, is related to the Hebrew bazir “a vintage” and is therefore an interesting poetic allusion within the wider narrative of Isaiah 63.
Yet another Jewish commentator Yarchi interprets the garments of the One coming from Edom as being dyed in blood, or dipped in it; which agrees with the vesture od Messiah as described in the Revelation:
“On His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘King of kings, and Lord of lords.’ Then I saw a single angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he cried out to all the birds flying high in the sky, ‘Come, gather for the great banquet of God--18 to eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of generals and the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and those riding on them, the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great!’” -Revelation 19:16-18 (TLV)
Ultimately the King Messiah will return as the warring Mashiyach Ben David, coming with reward for the righteous and bringing judgement upon the wicked:
“These kings are of one mind, and they give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them—because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with Him are called and chosen and faithful.” -Revelation 17:13-14 (TLV)
Isa 63:2 Madua Why adom lilvushecha is your clothing red, uve’gadeycha and your garments kedoreich be’gat like one who treads in the winepress?
As alluded to previously, adom and edom are easily related and convey the extent of the punishment of the wicked who oppose God and His purposes for redeeming Israel. The treading of the winepress and the act of harvesting are figurative Biblical pictures of judgement against the wicked (Joel 3:13; Isa. 63:2-3; Rev. 14:19).
Isa 63:3 “Purah darachtiy levadiy The winepress I have trodden alone, umei’amiym and from the tribes eiyn-iysh no man (one) itiy with me; ve’edrecheim I trod on them be’apiy in My anger ve’ermeseim and trampled them bachamatiy in My rage; ve’yeiz nitzcham their lifeblood spattered al-begaday on my garments, vechol-malbushay and all My attire egaletiy I will stain.
Both the literal and figurative judgements that God executes over Edom are His doing alone accomplished without the assistance of anyone from among the tribes of Israel (with the exception of Yeshua of course).
He treads on Edom, the enemies of God and of His chosen people Israel. The wine press is a wine press of wrath, and the trampling results in the garments of HaShem being spattered with blood like stains. The life sap (nitscham) is symbolic of the blood of the enemies of God.
“He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.” -Revelation 19:13 (ESV)
The context of this correlating passage from Revelation is one of God’s wrath meted out through the Messiah. Therefore, the blood of the Messiah’s robe in this context is the blood of vengeance and not the Messiah’s own shed blood of redemption
Isa 63:4 Kiy For yom a day nakam of vengeance belibiy is in My heart, ushenat and My year geulay of redemption ba’ah is come.
Once again we note that God’s vengeance is brief (a day) and His redemption is wide (a year).
In order that Israel might be redeemed, Edom, both the literal and figurative, perpetual enemy of Israel must be wiped out.
Isa 63:5 Veabiyt And I looked, ve’eiyn but there was no ozer help; ve’eshtomeim I was appalled, ve’eiyn but there was no someich one to uphold; vatusha liy zeroiy so My own arm brought Me salvation, vachamatiy and My rage hiy He semachateniy upheld Me.
God needs no help from man, thus the meaning is related to the fact that there was no one without sin. Nor is any man capable of redeeming himself, let alone bringing salvation to all Israel.
“He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then His own arm brought him salvation, and His righteousness upheld him.” -Isaiah 59:16 (ESV)
The arm of God is the King Messiah Who brings salvation and the rage of God against sin and death is the force that upholds and renders His righteous judgement.
Isa 63:6 Ve’avus And I trampled down (rejected) amiym the tribes be’apiy in My anger; va’ashakereim making them drunk bachamatiy in My rage, veoriyd and descending la’aretz to the land nitzcham their lifeblood (grape juice).”
Israel will also suffer under the anger and wrath of God as a result of her sin and rebellion. At this point HaShem has come up from trampling Edom and is bringing just punishment against Israel as a precursor to her redemption and the remembrance of His covenant promises, His loving kindness and mercy toward her.
“For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.” -Psalm 75:8 (ESV)
Isa 63:7 Chasdeiy The kindnesses of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), azkiyr I will remember, tehilot the praises of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), ke’al because upon kol all asher-gemalanu HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) that the LORD has recompensed, ve’rav-tov and the great good le’veiyt to the house Yisrael of Israel asher-gemalam that He has granted them kerachamayv according to His compassion, uchero and according to the abundance of chasadayv His steadfast kindness.
From 63:7- 64:12 the prophet Isaiah cries out in humble confession and from a place of great desperation, on behalf of his people Israel: seeking forgiveness and restoration to right relationship with God.
“Chasdeiy” is plural and indicates the many miraculous works of deliverance and loving kindnesses of God toward Israel.
This verse begins and ends with “Chesed” loving kindness, the action of love.
Isa 63:8 Vayomer And He said, “Ach-amiy Indeed they are My tribe, heimah baniym lo yeshakeiru children who will not deal falsely.” Vayhiy And I became lahem to them le’moshiya their Saviour.
Once again God is quoted as calling Israel His tribe and Himself her Saviour. However, this becomes an indictment against the people of Israel who should have acted rightly toward their God. None the less, He has and will continue to be a Saviour to them.
Isa 63:9 Be-chol In all tzaratam their affliction (distress, trouble, rival wives) lo tzar He was afflicted (distress, trouble, a rival wife), umalach and the messenger (angel) of panayv His face hoshiyam saved them; beahavato in His love uvechemlato and in His mercy hu ge’alam He redeemed them; vaynateleim He lifted them up vaynaseim and carried them kol-yemeiy all the days olam in perpetuity.
“In all tzaratam their affliction (distress, trouble) lo tzar He was afflicted (distressed, troubled)…” God suffers because of, with, and for His people, both emotionally and literally (Messiah Yeshua). The Hebrew “tzarah” (affliction, distress, trouble) can also mean “rival wife”. Thus, there is a sense in which the prophet is making a comparison between the hurt Israel feels at being rejected by God and God’s hurt at being rejected by His people.
“and the messenger (angel) of panayv His face hoshiyam saved them…” We have previously read that HaShem’s own arm will bring Salvation (v.5). Therefore, the Messenger of the Face of God must also be God with us. In fact, the Angel of the presence that went before and behind Israel as she fled Egyptian bondage was none other than Yeshua the transcendent resurrected King Messiah.
“Behold, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you into the place that I have prepared. 21 Watch for Him and listen to His voice. Do not rebel against Him because He will not pardon your transgression, for My Name is in Him. 22 But if you listen closely to His voice, and do everything I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.” -Exodus 23:20-22 (TLV)
“in His love uvechemlato and in His mercy hu ge’alam He redeemed them; vaynateleim He lifted them up vaynaseim and carried them kol-yemeiy all the days olam perpetuity.” The nearest previous subject is the Angel of the Face, therefore, God with us, the King Messiah is meant, none other qualifies to action the love, mercy, and redemption of Hashem, nor did anyone other than Hashem lift up and carry Israel perpetually.
Isa 63:10 Ve’heimah And they maru rebelled ve’itzevu and grieved et-ruach kadosho His Holy Spirit; vayeihafeich therefore He turned to become lahem leoyeiv their enemy, hu nilcham-bam He fought against them.
“Remember and do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD.” -Deut. 9:7 (ESV)
“Some understand by the Holy Spirit the Angel of the Lord.” -Iben Ezra
“But they rebelled against the word of His holy prophets, and blasphemed, and His Word became their enemy, and He waged war against them.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Centruy CE)
“Now if in spite of these things you will not be chastened by Me, but walk contrary to Me instead, 24 then I will also walk contrary to you. Then I will strike you, I Myself, seven times for your sins. 25 I will bring a sword upon you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant, and you will be gathered together inside your cities. I will send the pestilence among you and you will be given into the hand of the enemy.” -Leviticus 26:23-25 (TLV)
Isa 63:11 Vayizkor Then bringing to remembrance (recalling) yemeiy-olam the days of perpetuity, Mosheh of Moses, amo His people. Ayeih Where hama’aleim is He Who brought them up out mi’yam from the sea eit roeiy with the shepherd tzono of His flock? Ayeih Where is He Who hasham put bekirbo in the midst of them et-ruach kadesho His Holy Spirit,
“And He had compassion for the glory of His name, because of the remembrance of His goodness of old, the mighty works which He did by the hands of Moses for His people; lest the Gentiles should say, Where is He that brought them up out of the sea? Where is He that led them through the wilderness, as a shepherd his flock? Where is He that made the word of His holy prophets to dwell amongst them?” - Targum Yonatan (2nd Centruy CE)
“Where is He?” The greater answer is that He never left them or truly forsook them. While the reference to a shepherd (shepherds) may refer to Moses, or Moses and Aaron collectively, it is equally likely to refer to the Angel of the presence and or God Himself. It is also acceptable to understand the shepherds to be all the aforementioned.
“You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst.” -Nehemiah 9:20 (ESV)
Isa 63:12 Moliych liymiyn Mosheh zeroa tifarto Who caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, bokei’a who divided (split, broke open, tore up) mayim the waters mipeneiyhem from before their faces la’asot to make for lo sheim olam Himself an everlasting name,
“Your right hand, O Lord, has become glorious in power;
Your right hand, O Lord, has dashed the enemy in pieces.
7 And in the greatness of Your excellence
You have overthrown those who rose against You;
You sent forth Your wrath;
It consumed them like stubble.
8 And with the blast of Your nostrils
The waters were gathered together;
The floods stood upright like a heap;
The depths congealed in the heart of the sea.
9 The enemy said, ‘I will pursue,
I will overtake,
I will divide the spoil;
My desire shall be satisfied on them.
I will draw my sword,
My hand shall destroy them.’
10 You blew with Your wind,
The sea covered them;
They sank like lead in the mighty waters.” -Exodus 15:6-10
Isa 63:13 Moliycham Who led batehomot them in the depths? Kasus Like a horse bamidbar in the desert (ba in, mi from, davar word, essence) lo yikashelu they did not stumble.
A poetic way of referring to Israel’s escape through the depths of the Red sea and her journey through the desert to the promised land.
Isa 63:14 Kabeheimah Like livestock babikah tered going into the valley, Ruach-YHVH the Spirit of the LORD teniychenu gave them rest. Kein So nihageta you drove, led, guided amecha Your tribe, la’asot to make lecha for Yourself sheim tifaret a glorious name.
We note that the Spirit of the Lord, Who is called “Comforter” in the Brit HaChadashah (NT), is described here as the One Who gives Israel rest.
The strong theme of the glorification of God’s Name is significant because it is through the recognition of the saving God of Israel that all who seek redemption are saved in the Messiah and reconciled to the God of Israel.
Isa 63:15 Habet Look (regard, consider) mishamayim from the heavens ure’eih and see, mizevul kodshecha from the lofty habitation of Your holiness vetifartecha and Your Glory, Majesty, Splendour. Ayeih Where are kinatecha Your zeal, jealousy ugevurotecha and Your strength? Hamon The roar (stirring, tumult, sound) me’eicha from Your intestines (inner parts) verachameycha and Your womb (compassion) eilay hitapaku are held back from me.
The prophet expresses the people’s feelings of abandonment. Though the prophet knows that God is ever present, he uses distancing language to show both the Lofty glory and all powerful nature of God and His seeming rejection of the people of Israel who have acted so wickedly toward Him.
We note that the literal Hebrew translation reveals both the masculine and feminine nature of God. “The roar me’eicha from Your intestines (masculine), verachameycha and your womb (feminine)…”
Isa 63:16 Kiy-atah For You are Avinu our Father, kiy Avraham lo yeda’anu for Abraham does not know us, ve’yisrael and Israel (The individual progenitor Jacob) lo yakiranu does not acknowledge us; Atah You, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), Avinu are our Father, Goaleinu our Redeemer mei’olam she’meicha from perpetuity is Your name.
The prophet reminds himself and Israel that they are generations from the patriarchs and must remember that from before the beginning of Israel’s existence God has been her Father and Redeemer.
I recall a foolish Christian teacher who once told me that “Jews don’t understand God as Father but Christians do because Jesus taught us to prayer which says, ‘Our Father Who is in Heaven’”. I responded, “You obviously know very little about Jewish people and the Bible (present text not withstanding). One of the central prayers of Rosh Hashanah begins, ‘Our Father, Our King’”.
Isa 63:17 Lamah tateinu YHVH mideracheycha, Why do You make us wander from your ways HaShem, takshiach hardening libeinu our core being (heart), miyiratecha from fearing You? Shuv Turn back lema’an for the sake avadeycha of your servants, shivteiy the branches of nachalatecha Your inheritance (heritage, possession, property).
“Why hast Thou cast us off, Lord, that we should go astray from the paths which are right in Thy sight, as the nations which have no part in the instruction of Thy law? Our heart is not turned away from Thy fear: return Thy Shekinah unto Thy people, for the sake of Thy righteous servants, unto whom Thou hast sworn by Thy Word to make the tribes amongst them Thine inheritance.” - Targum Yonatan (2nd Centruy CE)
In the sense that God is in control of all things and that He allows but is not subject to free will, the phrase “You make us wander” is accurate. It is in fact in our wandering that we discover the need for direction.
Though God had never truly left Israel, Isaiah asks Him to turn back toward her for the sake of His righteous servants the prophets and the Patriarchs of Israel, the branches of God’s inheritance.
Isa 63:18 Lamitzar For a little while yareshu am-kodshecha Your tribe took hold of Your Holiness; tzareinu our adversaries bossu have trampled mikdashecha Your sanctuary.
This refers to the dwelling of God’s presence in a manifest way upon the Temple in Jerusalem during Solomon’s reign and the subsequent withdrawal of His glory during Israel’s years of idolatry and debauchery.
Isa 63:19 Hayiynu meiolam lo-mashalta ba lo-nikra shimcha We have become from perpetuity, like those not ruled by You, like those not called by Your name.
It’s as if Israel has become like a goy (foreign nation) who have never known God. The weight of this statement is lost on the modern reader. The nation God chose and to whom He revealed His glory, power, might and Holy fearful presence, has now become like those who never knew Him. Tragic, beyond appalling. The prophet is distraught, gutted, grieved to the core of his being by this sobering realisation.
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
The garment of praise is not, as some foolishly suggest, a mechanism for deliverance, rather it is the garment that clothes us after we are delivered. The praises of men toward God do not deliver, to the contrary, Messiah is the deliverer and praise is the fruit of lips that have been
Isaiah 60 speaks of the redemption, restoration, increase and illumination of Israel through her Moshieich (Savior), God (YHVH) Himself, both Sender (Elohiym) and Sent (Imanu-El, Yeshua), the Redeemer of Israel. Now, in short, Isaiah 61 reveals both the Person and the outworking of Israel’s Salvation.
For many of our rabbis and for some liberal Christian scholars there may be some debate as to who is speaking in the opening verses of Isaiah 61. The most common suggestion being that Isaiah himself is the speaker. However, for the true follower of Yeshua (Jesus) the King Messiah, there can be no doubt as to Who the speaker is. Reading in His boyhood synagogue in Nazareth Yeshua reads the words of Isaiah 61:1-3 and claims that they are fulfilled in Him (Luke 4:14:28). This is of great significance to the Jewish reader who is familiar with the idea of a Torah cycle and the Haf-Tarah (Literally “completion of the Torah”, a portion selected from the prophets and writings) readings that correspond to specific Torah passages. An early tradition of making commentary on both portions developed in the first century and is still present in the rabbinical practice of today. This commentary following the Torah and Haf-Tarah readings is known as a Davar Torah (Word of the Torah), and makes a cohesive illumination of the theme that the two portions share in common. It is interesting to note that in the first century CE/AD, the Word (Davar: John 1) of God Himself shared a Davar Torah following His reading of the passage we are now examining.
During the time of Yeshua (1 Century AD/CE) the Torah cycle was read over a three-year (triennial) period and included many Haf-Tarah readings that have since been discarded to make way for the yearly Torah cycle of modern rabbinic Judaism which had been developed by the rabbis in the Babylonian diaspora, while the more ancient triennial tradition continued to be used in Israel, Egypt and northern Africa until the annual cycle became universal in approximately 1100 CE/AD following the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD/CE and the subsequent need for Judaism to reinvent itself due to an inability to perform the rites of the Temple sacrificial system prescribed in the Torah.
While there are some similarities between the two Torah cycle traditions there are also many major differences. The later annual Torah cycle has clearly been derived from the earlier triennial tradition, however the Haf-Tarah portions are completely different.
In the more modern annual rabbinical tradition, largely but not solely due to history and dispersion, the assigned readings from the Prophets focus on Israel’s past, connecting the events in the Torah with other historical accounts in Scripture. However, in the more ancient triennial tradition, the Haf-Tarah readings were often focused on the future redemption of Israel and the reign of the King Messiah. Therefore, the emphasis of the Haf-Tarah readings during the time of Yeshua’s ministry on earth (first Century CE) was on the coming deliverance of Israel and on the King Messiah and His reign.
It is thought by scholars that the triennial reading tradition was still developing in the first century CE/AD. However, this cannot be known for certain. Some believe that during that period, it was up to the one chosen for the aliyah (going up, as a reader of the scrolls) to choose the prophetic passage he would read (women were not permitted to read publicly in this historical context).
We may deduce from the 3rd century lists compiled by scholars [Charles Perrot, p 137-159, in Mikra (Compendia Rerum Iudiacarum ad Novum Testamentum), (Van Gorcum) 1988)], that the Haf-Tarah passage often began by reiterating the phrasing or the theme of the words read from the Torah portion (a “gezerah shavah“ [The gezerah shavah ("Similar laws, similar verdicts") is the second rule of Hillel and of Rabbi Ishmael in Talmudic hermeneutics]). This would be followed by what is known today as the Davar Torah (Word of the Torah), which, as I explained previously, is a short sermon expounding the theme of the Torah and Haf-Tarah portions. Thus, the reader would make an oral commentary on the Torah and end with a promise of God’s coming redemption.
For example, when Genesis 1 was read, the traditional triennial Haf-Tarah was Isaiah 65:17-25:
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former shall not be remembered or [a]come to mind…
‘The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
The lion shall eat straw like the ox,
And dust shall be the serpent’s food.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,’
Says the Lord.” -Isaiah 65:17, 25 (NKJV)
We note that the Haf-Tarah passage begins by echoing the theme of Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” and then ends with a promise of the New Creation. Therefore, it is very likely that as the ancient Jews meditated on the mighty acts of redemption God had performed for Israel in the past, they were also looking ahead to the future redemption God had promised through His prophets.
On the other hand (and without contradicting the aforementioned practice), it is quite possible, that the triennial readings had developed into a semi-standardized cycle, which means that Yeshua needed to be at the synagogue in Natzaret (Nazareth, Yeshua’s home town) at the right point in the Torah cycle and be invited to make aliyah (going up) to the bimah (pulpit) to read the Haf-Tarah portion (This was not a given, because the Jewish community of Yeshua’s childhood synagogue may have had an order of aliyot). Of course, it is most likely that being a member of His home town synagogue He was familiar with the aliyot protocol and intentionally made sure to be at the shul on the Shabbat assigned to Him for aliyot. If, as some suggest, Yeshua simply chose a Haf-Tarah portion, we may still ask, “To what Torah portion might it have related?”
It’s difficult to know which Torah portion Isaiah 61 might have correlated to, however, the most trustworthy 3rd to 7th Century CE/AD listing of the triennial readings compiled by scholars [Charles Perrot, p 137-159, in Mikra (Compendia Rerum Iudiacarum ad Novum Testamentum), (Van Gorcum) 1988)] suggest that Isaiah 61:1-3 was read as one of the parts of the Haf-Tarah portion for Genesis 28 – 29:31 (The other part being 1 Samuel 1:2), and Isaiah 61:1-9 was read following Isaiah 43:1-21 as the Haf-Tarah portion for Genesis 33:1 – 35:9.
Based on the aforementioned triennial listings the Torah portion prior to Yeshua’s reading of Isaiah 61:1-2 would have either concerned the now famous story of Jacob’s ladder (a figure of the Messiah), ending with the opening of Leah’s womb:
“Now Adonai saw that Leah was unloved, so he opened her womb;” -Genesis 29:31
Or, the portion concerning Jacob’s reconciliation to Esau, the rape of Dinah and Jacobs return to Bethel and to Paddan-aram, ending with the words:
“God appeared to Jacob again, after he returned from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him.” -Genesis 35:9
The former seems the more likely candidate because it relates thematically to the revelation of the figure for Messiah (Jacob’s ladder) and the good news being proclaimed to the humble (poor of spirit), a barren Leah, a matriarch of Israel.
While we can gain some interesting insights based on these possibilities, we cannot solidify our understanding beyond conjecture.
What we know for certain is that Yeshua read Isaiah 61:1-2 and said that it had been fully filled in the ears of those who heard Him read it as a prophetic reference to Himself, the Servant Redeemer of God sent to set Israel free both physically and spiritually, stood in His boyhood synagogue and read the words He authored through the prophet Isaiah some 730 years prior to being born into time and space.
“14 Yeshua returned in the power of the Ruach to the Galilee, and news about Him went out through all the surrounding region. 15 He taught in their synagogues, and everyone was praising Him. 16 And He came to Natzeret, where He had been raised. As was His custom, He went into the synagogue on Shabbat, and He got up to read. 17 When the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him, He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
18 “The Ruach Adonai is on me,
because He has anointed me
to proclaim Good News to the poor.
He has sent me[f] to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set free the oppressed,
19 and to proclaim the year of Adonai’s favor.”[g]
20 He closed the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue were focused on Him. 21 Then He began to tell them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your ears.”22 All were speaking well of Him and marveling at the gracious words coming out of His mouth. And they were saying, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”23 But He said to them, “Doubtless you will say to Me this proverb, ‘Doctor, heal yourself!’ and ‘What we have heard was done at Capernaum, do as much here also in your hometown.’”24 But He said, “Truly, I tell you, ‘No prophet is accepted in his own hometown.’ 25 But with all truthfulness I say to you, that there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when heaven was closed for three and a half years and there came a great famine over all the land. 26 Elijah was not sent to any of them, but only to Zarephath in the land of Sidon, to a widowed woman. [h] 27 There were many with tzara’at in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them were purified apart from Naaman the Syrian.”[i]28 Now all in the synagogue were filled with rage upon hearing these things. 29 Rising up, they drove Him out of the town and brought Him as far as the edge of the mountain on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him off the cliff. 30 But passing through the middle of them, He went on His way.” -Luke 4:14-28 (TLV)
We must also remember that Yeshua was prophesied as a netzer branch (the root for the noun Natzaret) by the prophet Isaiah:
“And he went and lived in a city called Natzeret,[a] to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets, that Yeshua shall be called a Natzrati.” -Matthew 22:23 (TLV)
“Then a shoot will come forth out of the stem of Jesse,
and a branch will bear fruit out of His roots.” -Isaiah 11:1 (TLV)
Isa 61:1 Ruach The Spirit Adonay of the Lord (Master) HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) is alay upon me; ya’an because mashach HaShem (YHVH) otiy the LORD has anointed me le’vaseir to bear good news anaviym to the poor, meek, humble, afflicted; shelachaniy he has sent me lachavosh to bind up (bandage, govern) lenishbereiy-leiv the heart broken into pieces, likro to proclaim lishvuyim to the captives deror flowing liberty, vela’asuriym and to the those bound (in prison) pekach-koach a wide opening;
While Isaiah is prophesying these words by the Spirit of God, he cannot be the subject of them. The speaker uses language related to priesthood and kingship (anointed) and proclaims a work of HaShem that is beyond the means and application of any normal human being. No prophet of Israel ever spoke this way of himself, however, many spoke in these terms concerning HaShem. Therefore, the speaker can be none other than God with us (Imanu-El, Yeshua), the Servant of God spoken of in the previous chapters of Isaiah’s scroll (Isa.42:1; 50:4-5). Isaiah was not capable of binding up the broken hearts of Israel, nor is any man: only God Himself could do that, and through His death and resurrection the King Messiah Yeshua has done and continues to do that very thing for all who receive Him.
In fact, Isaiah prophecies concerning the Servant King Messiah saying:
“And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of Adonai shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Adonai.” -Isaiah 11:1-2
Therefore, the Spirit of the Lord is to rest upon the Servant King Messiah, Who is of the lineage of Jesse. Isaiah is of Judah but not of the lineage of Jesse, thus, he does not qualify as the speaker of the opening words of Isaiah 61 based on the pretext of Isaiah 11:1-2.
The Hebrew mashach (anointed) is the root from which we derive the Hebrew Mashiach (anointed one). While it can refer to any anointed one, it here refers specifically to the King Messiah, as He Himself testifies (Luke 4:14-28).
“le’vaseir to bear good news anaviym to the poor, meek, humble, afflicted” The best reading of anaviym in this context is “humble” or “poor of spirit”, “contrite” (Matt. 5:3).
“shelachaniy he has sent me lachavosh to bind up (bandage, govern) lenishbereiy-leiv the heart broken into pieces,” We note that the anointed One will bandage and bind up broken hearts, a physical impossibility, making the language figurative. Thus, the subsequent captivity is also symbolic of something that keeps the inner person captive.
“likro to proclaim lishvuyim to the captives deror flowing liberty, vela’asuriym and to the those bound (in prison) pekach-koach a wide opening;” While it is true that this has immediate significance regarding the historical captivities of Israel, it is none the less a proclamation of freedom from spiritual imprisonment, Israel’s, and humanity’s captivity to sin and its resulting death. This is consistent with the prior allusion to humble (repentant) ones and broken hearted ones. More importantly, it is made clear by Messiah Himself when He proclaims this same liberty to the members of His childhood synagogue in Nazareth. In another sense “captivity” is a reference to the nation and “bondage” to the ties that bind the individual member of the nation.
“And He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall be shown mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great! For in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” -Matthew 5:2-12 (TLV)
Isa 61:2 Likro to proclaim shenat-ratzin a year acceptable la’YHVH to HaShem (Mercy), veyom and a day of nakam vengeance leiloheiynu of our God; lenacheim to comfort (console) kol-aveiliym all who are in mourning;
“for in my wrath I struck you, but in my acceptance I have had mercy on you.” -Isaiah 60:10
It is important to note that there is a reversal in order of acceptance and vengeance (wrath being the enacting of vengeance). In the present verse the acceptable year refers to the time frame of repentant Israel’s (and humanity’s) redemption. This of course is alluded to by Yeshua in Luke 4: He was beginning with Israel and would continue with her even into the olam haba (world to come). This is followed by the day of God’s vengeance. In Hebrew Yom Ha-Din (Day of the Judgement). This vengeance will be meted out against sin and death and against Satan and his minions, along with all who have refused God’s grace. Notice that the acceptance of God is offered over a lengthy span (year) while His vengeance is just and brief (a day).
The speaker (Servant King Messiah) uses inclusive language, acknowledging that He is of the people of Israel (ethnic, religious), saying, “Our God”. He has come to comfort the persecuted, wandering, tormented and previously, seemingly abandoned people of Israel who sit in mourning with ashes on their heads awaiting the redemption of Adonai.
Isa 61:3 Lasum to appoint (place, set) la’aveileiy to those that mourn, Tziyon Zion (Parched land), lateit to give lahem to them pe’eir an ornamental headdress tachat instead of eifer ashes, shemen oil sason of joy tachat instead of eivel mourning, ma’ateih a garment tehilah of praise tachat instead of ruach a spirit keihah of fainting (dullness, dimness, colourless, darkness); ve’kora lahem and they will be called eiyleiy rams (figuratively: trees) of ha-tzedek the righteous One, mata a planting of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), lehitpaeir to His glorification, adornment and beauty.
“to appoint (place, set) la’aveileiy to those that mourn, Tziyon Zion (Parched land)” The anointed One is appointed by God to comfort the mourners of Zion (Israel, ethnic, religious).
“to give lahem to them pe’eir an ornamental headdress tachat instead of eifer ashes” The Hebrew pe’eir (headdress) is also used in verse 10 and is a reference to the ancient Jewish wedding custom of a bride wearing an ornamented headdress in anticipation of receiving her husband. This custom was abandoned by many Jews following the destruction of the Temple at which time traditions remembering that destruction were added to the Jewish wedding ceremony, such as the breaking of the glass etc. However, many Mizrachiym (eastern Jews from Iran, Iraq) still practice this ancient bridal tradition today, donning exotic bejewelled headdress for the wedding ceremony.
The ashes here are of course the ashes of mourning rubbed on the head of the mourner, blackening the hair and skin and removing all sheen and glory from the person who mourns. In the case of women, because their hair is their glory (1 Cor. 11:3-16), the desecration of it was their shame and the redemption of it became their joy.
“shemen oil sason of joy tachat instead of eivel mourning, ma’ateih” The Anointed One has been appointed to anoint others with oil (The Spirit). In fact, He will deliver those who mourn and give them the oil of His Spirit and of joy in the place of their mourning. There mourning having been a result of their sin and their joy the fruit of their deliverance through the Servant King Messiah.
“a garment tehilah of praise tachat instead of ruach a spirit keihah of fainting (dullness, dimness, colourless, darkness)” The Hebrew keihah while it could be considered representative of heaviness, depression etc. also carries the idea of fainting caused by an inability or choosing not to see. The body made colourless, fainting into darkness is used as a figure for the failing spirit of the sin affected human being. It is from this state that the Anointed One delivers a person and clothes that person with a garment of praise. The garment of praise is not, as some foolishly suggest, a mechanism for deliverance, rather it is the garment that clothes us after we are delivered. The praises of men toward God do not deliver, to the contrary, Messiah is the deliverer and praise is the fruit of lips that have been delivered. Therefore, the garment of praise of the present verse is intrinsically linked to the garment of salvation of verse 10.
“and they will be called eiyleiy rams (figuratively: trees) of ha-tzedek the righteousness One, mata a planting of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), lehitpaeir to His glorification, adornment and beauty.” Those who mourn in Zion will be called “Strong trees of the Righteous One”, in other words, “Followers of the Anointed King Messiah”, having been predestined, a planting of YHVH, for the purpose of glorifying and adorning Him as Husband to Israel.
"That He might be glorified" -Isaiah 61:3c
Not that we might be delivered, rather, that in His deliverance of us, He might be glorified.
Isa 61:4 Uvanu And they shall build, establish, cause to continue, charevot olam the ancient ruins, shomemot desolations, yekomeimu they shall raise up vechideshu and repair, renew, make new, chorev dry (drought ridden) shomemot desolations (desolate and abandoned cities), of dor va’dor generation upon generation (many generations).
The children of Israel will return and rebuild the ancient ruins of Israel’s cities, especially the city of Zion, Jerusalem. This of course had an historical fulfilment following Israel’s return from Babylon, and more recently in the return of Jews from all over the world to the modern state of Israel. But as is so often the case, it is yet to be truly and fully filled. We note that “they shall raise up and renew the dry abandoned places of many generations”. This is an allusion to the redemptive power of the Anointed One, Who is the goal of the Torah (given at Chorev) [Romans 10:4].
Ha-Chorev (Horeb) is the place of the giving of the Torah. It is also known as Har Ha-Elohiym (The Mountain of the Lord), and is of course synonymous with Har Siynay (Sinai)
Isa 61:5 Ve’amedu And standing, zariym strangers (estranged ones) verau will tend (graze) tzonchem your flocks, u’veneiy neichar and the sons of foreigners ikareiychem will be your plowmen vechoremeiychem and your vine-dressers.
This is similar to the words of Isaiah 60:10, and refers to the fact that Gentiles who have come to faith in Messiah Yeshua will work together in harmony with the ethnic, religious children of Israel the Jews. This stands as a warning to those Christians who resist God’s continued purposes for Israel. Those who claim to be Christ followers but are actively resisting the people of Israel are living in direct contradiction to the role given to redeemed Gentiles, and therefore, prove themselves to be unredeemed.
Isa 61:6 Ve’atem And you (plural) Kohaneiy priests of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) tikarei’u will be called; meshareteiy ministers (servants) Eloheiynu of our God yei’ameir they will call lachem you: cheiyl the wealth, strength goyim of the nations’ tocheilu you shall eat, uvichvodam and in their glory tityamaru you will boast (change places).
“And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” -Exodus 19:6 (NKJV)
As a result of the Gentiles provoking of the Jewish people to Jealousy over the Jewish Messiah Yeshua (Rom. 10:19; 11:11, 14), Those Jews who have not already received Him will turn in repentance and come into the role they were always intended for as ministers and priests to the nations.
The expression “our God” once again reveals the Jewish identity of the Anointed one. It may also be taken to illuminate the unity that will develop between Jew and Gentile through Messiah.
The term meshareteiy ministers (servants) refers to servants of higher function and affirms the role of Israel as humble spiritual servant to the nations.
Isa 61:7 Tachat Instead of bashetechem your shame mishneh double; uchelimah and instead of confusion, disgrace, dishonour, yaronu they shall overcome chelkam in their portion (territory): lachein therefore, be’artzam in their land mishneh double yirashu they shall possess; simchat olam joy everlasting tiheyeh lahem has come to them.
Once put to shame because of her sin and removed from her land, now Israel would receive double honour (the doubling of things denotes that they are firmly established), and in place of her disgraceful captivity she would return to her land and receive her allotted portion in full, according to the covenant cut with Abraham for the land of Israel. This refers to the end of the age and the olam haba (world to come) because Israel’s possession of the promised land is here said to be everlasting.
Notice that the joy has come to them (Israel, ethnic, religious). Israel cannot find joy through her own actions, but joy will find her through the vicarious sacrifice of her King Messiah Yeshua.
Isa 61:8 Kiy For Aniy I, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), oheiv love mishpat justice, sonei I hate gazeil robbery be’olah with a burnt offering (ascent); venatatiy and I will give fe’ulatam them their recompense be’emet in truth, u’veriyt a covenant olam everlasting echrot I will cut lahem with them.
The Septuagint reads “I hate robbery with iniquity”, but the Masoretic text better fits with the theme of Israel’s syncretised sacrifices which were alluded to in the earlier chapters of the latter part of Isaiah (ex. Isa.58). Therefore, the Masoretic Hebrew reading “I hate gazeil robbery be’olah with a burnt offering (ascent)” better conveys the message that HaShem detests hypocrisy above almost all other forms of human sin. We note that during His earthly ministry it was hypocrisy that Yeshua most often railed against (Matt. 6:2-16; 15:7; 22:18; 23:13-15; 23:23-29; Mark 7:6; Luke 12:56; 13:15).
Up to this point the Anointed One has been identifying with Israel (“Our God”), now He speaks against Israel’s captors and enemies saying “them”, who He will repay for the evil they have committed against His people. But with Israel He will make an everlasting covenant through His own shed blood.
Isa 61:9 Venodah bagoyim And known among the nations zaram will be their seed, vetze’etza’eiyhem and their offspring betoch in the midst ha’amiym of the tribes; kol-ro’eiyhem all who see them yakirum will recognize, acknowledge, and respect them, kiy because hem they zera are the seed beirach blessed by Hashem (YHVH: Mercy).
“Their seed” refers to the closest previous subject Israel (ethnic, religious). Therefore, from this point on “them” in the midst of the tribes or nations are Israel (ethnic, religious).
Notice that the Jewish people (Israel) will be known among the nations, not because of their own merit but because “they are the seed blessed by YHVH”!
Isa 61:10 Sos Exult asiys exulting ba’YHVH in Hashem (Mercy), tageil be joyful nafshiy my soul (entire being) beilohay in my God; kiy because hilbiysaniy he has clothed me bigdeiy-yesa with the garments of salvation, me’iyl a robe tzedakah of righteousness ye’ataniy he has covered me with, kechatan like a bridegroom yechahein acting as priest pe’eir with headdress, vechakalah and a bride ta’deh adorned (advancing) cheileyah with furniture (with vessels, utensils).
“Jerusalem shall say, I will greatly rejoice in the Word of the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in the salvation of my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the upper garment of righteousness, like a bridegroom who is happy in his bride- chamber, and like the high priest who decketh himself with his robes, and like a bride who is adorned with her jewels.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The Targum’s phrasing lends itself to be understood in the same way that Yochanan (John) understands Yeshua (Salvation) as the Davar (Word, essence) through Whom all is created. Therefore, we Messiah followers might read the Targum this way:
“City where Peace pours down and floods, you will say, ‘I will greatly rejoice in Yeshua Who is of YHVH (Mercy), my entire being will be joyful in the Yeshua (Salvation) of my Elohim (God, Judge); for He has clothed me with the garments of Yeshua (Salvation)…”
In response to the words of the Anointed One the prophet now speaks on behalf of all Israel. He exults exceedingly in Hashem and instructs his own soul to be joyful in his God because he understands that both he and all of future redeemed Israel will become like a bride anew, clothed with the garments of salvation (provided by the Saviour). As a result of the work of the Anointed one the prophet and his people will be robed in the righteousness of God with the Anointed One acting as her High Priest. Israel will wear the ancient headdress of the Jewish bride who awaits her Groom, holding her gifts and the vessels of worship in anticipation of her Kingly High Priest Yeshua.
Isa 61:11 Kiy For cha’aretz as the land totziy tzimchah brings forth its sprout, u’cheganah and as the garden (orchard) zeru’eiha tatzmiyach causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth; kein yes, Adonay the Lord Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) yatzmiach tzedakah will cause righteousness to spring forth utehilah and praise neged conspicuously in front of kol-ha-goyim all the nations.
The righteousness of God will be made manifest in Israel (both the people and the land) to such a profound degree that it will seem as natural and abundant as the seasonal sprouting of vegetation from the earth and the rich harvest of a well-tended garden. Israel’s redemption in Hashem through Yeshua the King Messiah will be conspicuous to all the nations.
“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me [a]void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
12 “For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” -Isaiah 55:10-12 (NKJV)
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
The created darkness is banished by the pre-existent (uncreated) light (of God), Who is God with us the King Messiah and Light of the world.
Isa 60:1 Kumiy Get up (arising), Oriy shine; kiy va oreich for your light is come, uchevod and the glory of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) alayich upon you zarach rises, breaks out.
“Arise, shine, Jerusalem, for the time of thy redemption is come, and the glory of the Lord is revealed upon thee.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
This is being spoken to “Jacob” (59:20-21), who is the closest preceding subject. To Jacob’s seed (59:21) generationally, meaning always spoken to Jacob’s seed. That is, to the ethnic, religious, empirical children of Israel, the Jews.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: perpetually first for the Jew, and also perpetually for the Gentile.” -Romans 1:16
The idea of Israel’s redemption both physical and spiritual is implicit in the text and is illuminated by the Targum. In the context of the prophet’s time the physical redemption relates to Israel’s pursuant return from Babylonian captivity. However, in the prophetic present (past, present, future) the prophet is clearly speaking of the redemptive work of the Messiah, Who is implicitly referred to in 59:21 as the “Word”, and is known in Scripture as “Or Ha-olam: The Light of the World” (Yochanan [John] 8:12).
What light is come? The light of the Redeemer (59:20). To whom has this light come? To Zion, to Jacob (Israel, ethnic, religious), to Jerusalem (Targum). To what is this light likened? To the glory of HaShem. And where is the light situated? Upon Israel (ethnic, religious). What is the result of the light which is manifest in and upon Israel? The rebellion of Jacob is turned back (59:20), and Israel is to “get up” and “shine” that same light to the nations. What does God promise? To make a covenant of peace, to pour out His Spirit (Acts 2) upon Israel and put His Word (John 1:1) everlasting in her mouth (59:21).
Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen, set apart) was chosen before the creation of the world to be a light to the nations through her perfect representative, the Servant Redeemer Yeshua, the King Messiah. The King Messiah and Redeemer was to come from her and thus turn her away from rebellion against God. As a result His redemptive work is to be made known to all humanity.
“Listen to me, distant nations,
you people who live far away!
Before I was born, the Lord chose me
and appointed me to be his servant.
2 He made my words as sharp as a sword.
With his own hand he protected me.
He made me like an arrow,
sharp and ready for use.
3 He said to me, “Israel, you are my servant;
because of you, people will praise me.”
4 I said, “I have worked, but how hopeless it is!
I have used up my strength, but have accomplished nothing.”
Yet I can trust the Lord to defend my cause;
he will reward me for what I do.
5 Before I was born, the Lord appointed me;
he made me his servant to bring back his people,
to bring back the scattered people of Israel.
The Lord gives me honor;
he is the source of my strength.
6 The Lord said to me,
“I have a greater task for you, my servant.
Not only will you restore to greatness
the people of Israel who have survived,
but I will also make you a light to the nations--
so that all the world may be saved.”
7 Israel's holy God and savior says
to the one who is deeply despised,
who is hated by the nations
and is the servant of rulers:
“Kings will see you released
and will rise to show their respect;
princes also will see it,
and they will bow low to honor you.”
This will happen because the Lord has chosen his servant;
the holy God of Israel keeps his promises.” -Isaiah 49:1-7 (GNT)
“Get up” Is an invitation that requires action. Likewise “shine” is an action of light. Israel is not being forced to participate, rather she is being offered the opportunity to participate in what God is doing. God has sent His Redeemer, and Israel must receive her redemption. God has offered His light, and Israel must receive it and place it on a hill so that all can see. “Get up” or “stay wallowing in your sin”, “shine” or “remain in darkness”. You have a decision to make and a choice for action or inaction. Inaction is action.
“for your light is come” Not, “Your light has come” or “your light will come” but “Your light is come!” This is a statement of the eternal present. The light “Or” of Messiah pre-exists creation and although He made Himself subject to creation by the act of His will, He is none the less before creation and Ruler over creation and has made the sin affected creation subject to Him through His death and resurrection.
“and the glory of YHVH upon you rises and breaks out.” The glory (light) of God with us cannot be contained. By nature God’s redemptive light breaks out in this sin affected world and dispels the darkness.
“Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” -Matthew 5:6 (ASV)
In conclusion, Yeshua is the Light of the world and Israel is called to stand in Him and shine that light to the nations. Thus, both the Servant and in another sense Israel (ethnic, religious) are called to be “light to the nations”. Speaking of Himself Yeshua says “Salvation (the Person) comes from the Jews (plural)” [John 4:22].
“When Yeshua spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” -Yochanan (John) 8:12
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” -Matthew 5:14-15 (NIV)
Isa 60:2 Kiy Hineih For, behold, now, pay attention, ha-choshech the darkness yechaseh-eretz shall cover the land, va’arafel and thick darkness leumiym the tribes; ve’alayich and on you yizrach shall rise, break out HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), uchevodo and his glory alayich upon you yeira’eh shall be seen.
“For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the kingdoms: but in thee the Shekinah of the Lord shall dwell, and His glory shall be revealed upon thee.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The Targum illuminates for the English reader the obvious connection in the Hebrew text of Isaiah 60:2 to both the Genesis creation narrative (Genesis 1) and the plague of darkness that came against Egypt during Israel’s captivity there (while the Egyptians were in thick darkness the Israelites dwelt in light in Goshen. Exodus 10:21-22). Simply put, the created darkness is banished by the pre-existent (uncreated) light (of God), Who is God with us the King Messiah and Light of the world.
“For, behold, now, pay attention, the darkness shall cover the land, and thick darkness the tribes” To translate “leumiym” here as “to the peoples” and “eretz” as “earth” is to disregard the context. It is not “peoples” in general that are being spoken of as the inception point of the receiving of the light and glory of HaShem’s redemptive action but Israel, ethnic, religious. The following verse makes this clear by using language specific to the nations “goyim” regarding those who are drawn to the light of God, as it is seen manifest upon Israel (ethnic, religious).
Therefore, the “darkness” (blindness) covers the land of Israel, and the “thick darkness” of HaShem’s presence (Gen.15:12; 1 Kings 8:12; Psalm 18:11; 97:2; 1 Tim. 6:16) covers the tribes of Israel.
We note that the “thick darkness” is a reference to the presence of God Who dwells in unapproachable light, and that the context of these opening verses relates to the presence of the glory of Hashem manifest on the Mishkan (Tent of meeting) in the desert (Exodus 40:34) and the Temple of Solomon at its inauguration (1 Kings 8).
“And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and came out, and blessed the tribe: and the glory of HaShem appeared unto all the tribe. -Leviticus 9:23
“When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple. Then Solomon said, ‘The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud;’” -1 Kings 8:10-12 (NIV)
“on you shall rise, break out HaShem and his glory upon you shall be seen.” Upon both the land and the tribes HaShem will rise and break out, and His glory will be seen. Who will see it? The “goyim” nations. The following verse affirms this reading.
One of the rabbis of the Talmud understands this verse to refer to the coming of the King Messiah:
“And that is the background for the following exchange, as a certain heretic said to Rabbi Abbahu: When will the Messiah come? Rabbi Abbahu said to him: He will come when the darkness will enshroud these people, i.e., you. The heretic said to him: Are you cursing me for no reason? Rabbi Abbahu said to him, I am merely relating to you a verse that is written: “For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and fog the peoples; but the Lord shall shine upon you, and His glory shall be seen upon you” (Isaiah 60:2).” -T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 99. 1.
“13 I charge you before God who gives life to all things and Messiah Yeshua who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. 15 This He will reveal in His own time—the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or is able to see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.” -1 Timothy 6:13-16 (TLV)
Isa 60:3 Vehalechu goyim And nations shall walk leoreich to your light, umelachiym and kings le’nogah to the brightness of zarcheich your dawning.
As stated previously, the “peoples” of verse 2 cannot be the “nations” of the present verse because the “peoples” of the previous verse are the subject of “your light” which the “nations” are drawn to. Therefore, the “tribes” of Israel are the “amiym” of verse 2 and it is the light of Messiah in the tribes of Israel that the “goyim” of the present verse are drawn to.
Some have suggested the following reading of the Targum, “and the nations will walk in your light”. If applied to the Messiah, this is an accurate understanding of the need for the redeemed to remain in Him.
There is of course an intrinsic connection to the Messiah Who is the source of Israel’s light.
“Yea, all kings shall fall down before him; All nations shall serve him.” -Psalm 72:11 (ASV)
In a literal sense kings (rulers, spiritual leaders) from the east were drawn to the light of a star that led them to the Light of the world, born into time and space as a boy of the tribe of Judah, in the line of David (Matthew 2).
Isa 60:4 Se’iy-saviyv Lift up in a circuit eiynayich your eyes, ure’iy and see: kulam all nikbetzu assemble, vau-lach they come to you; banayich your sons meirachok from afar yavo’u shall come, uvenotayich and your daughters al-tzad upon the side te’amanah will be nursed, supported faithfully.
“Lift up thine eyes, O Jerusalem, round about, and see all the children of the people of thy captivity, who are gathered together: thy sons shall come from far into thy midst, and thy daughters shall be carried upon the arms.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
This in part refers to the return of exiles from Babylon. It also finds manifestations in numerous proceeding generations to some degree or another, and is profoundly applicable to the modern Jewish state but ultimately finds fulfilment yet future in the return of the King Messiah and the redemption through Him of the entire remnant of Israel (ethnic, religious).
“Thus says the Lord YHVH, Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and set up my ensign to the peoples; and they shall bring thy sons in their bosom, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.” -Isaiah 49:22
Isa 60:5 Az Then tiriy you will see venahart and be radiant, ufachad and tremble (be in awe) verachav and grow wide levaveich your heart; kiy because yeihafeich you shall be overturned, alayich upon you hamon the abundance yam of a sea, cheiyl the wealth of goyim nations yavo’u lach will come to you.
“Then thou shalt see and be enlightened, and thou shalt be struck with awe, and thine heart shall be enlarged on account of the terror of sinners, for the riches of the west shall be transferred unto thee; the treasures of the nations shall be brought unto thee.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The Targum gives the overall sense of the physical results born from the metaphysical change caused by the light of God.
“Then” Means “In due course” or “Next in order”. This reminds us to look at the progression of events that began in verse 1:
“Then you will see and be radiant, and tremble (be in awe) and grow wide your heart” It is now, as a result of the transforming work of God’s light (The King Messiah) in you, you will radiate His glory as Moses did at Sinai: you will tremble before God in humble awe and the fruit will be a heart of grace and mercy toward others.
“because you shall be overturned, upon you the abundance of a sea, the wealth of nations will come to you.” To be overturned is a Hebrew idiom best translated into English as “a change of heart” or “repented”. In other words, because Israel allows God to overturn her through the redemptive work of His Messiah, the nations will witness her transformation and acknowledge it as the work of God. They will therefore, bring physical riches to Israel in honour of the spiritual blessing that results from God’s saving action.
“25 But now I am going to Jerusalem, bringing aid to the kedoshim. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the believers in Jerusalem. 27 Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are under obligation to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual blessings, they also ought to serve them in material blessings.” -Rav Shaul’s letter to the Roman Believers 15:25-27 (TLV)
Isa 60:6 Shifat The multitude gemaliym of camels techaseich shall cover you, bichreiy the young camels of Midyan (strife) ve’eiyfah and Ephah (gloom, darkness); kulam all misheva from Sheba (Seven, oath, blessing) yavo’u shall come; zahav gold ulevonah and frankincense yisa’u they will carry, utehilot and the praises of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) yevaseiru they shall announce as good news.
Midian was a son of Abraham by Keturah and Ephah a son of Midian (Gen. 25:4). Sheba is also of the blood of Abraham (Gen. 25:3). Their progeny subsequently inhabited Arabia.
Therefore, as a result of the work of the Redeemer and the light that He manifests in Israel the Arabian tribes will be drawn to salvation on mass.
In fact, at one point in history three eastern leaders and their retinue are drawn to Salvation Himself, riding camels and bearing gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matt. 2). In turn they will announce the “Good news” (Gospel) to others.
Isa 60:7 Kol-tzon All the flocks of Keidar (dusk, mourning) yikavetzu shall be gathered together lach to you, eiyleiy the rams of Nevayot (heights) yesharetunech shall minister to you; ya’alu they shall come up al-ratzon with delight (acceptance) to mizbechiy My altar; uveiyt and the house tifartiy of My splendour afa’eir I will glorify, beautify, adorn.
“All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together to you, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;” Nebaioth and Kedar were sons of Ishmael, (Gen.25:13). Ishmael's twelve sons, of which Nebaioth was the eldest, inhabited all the country from Euphrates to the Red sea, known in classical antiquity as Nabataea.
The noun “flocks” is primarily used here in a figurative sense. In this context it refers to the tribes of nations other than Israel: specifically those tribes who share the bloodline of Ishmael’s sons Kedar and Nebaioth (Arab tribes). The figurative use of the noun is supported by the phrase “shall minister to you”, which is something that applies to those involved in human service. Ministering (in this context) requires cognitive thought and human intention.
“they shall come up with delight (acceptance) My altar;” This is significant because the tribes mentioned were known for the worship of other deities and were not worshippers of the God of Israel. The Hebrew “ratzon” can be translated as “acceptance” and denotes the fruit of repentance and atonement. Therefore, this speaks of the redemption of Arab tribes through Messiah, and their reconciliation to both God and Israel (their ancient cousins).
“the house of My splendour I will glorify, beautify, adorn.” This is a reference to the Temple of God in Jerusalem, which is to be “a house of prayer for all the tribes” (Isaiah 56:7). Yeshua rebukes Israel for failing to honour the Temple as a house of prayer for all tribes (Matt. 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46). He also uses the noun “flock” in a figurative sense to refer to His future followers from other tribes, peoples, nations (John 10:16).
Isa 60:8 Miy Who eileh are these ka’av like a cloud te’ufeynah of flying things, vechayoniym and like doves aruboteiyhem to a window?
Given the context it appears that those like the cloud of flying things are the masses of the Arab tribes and eastern nations who come to faith in and through the light of Messiah, and are drawn to Jerusalem to worship the God of Israel. Among these masses are those like doves returning to a window or a hollow. This is likely an allusion to the children of Israel who return to the land with the repentant among their captors. The Targum understands the entire verse to apply to the returned captives of Israel.
“Who are these that are coming openly like swift clouds, and tarry not? the captives of Israel, who are gathered together, come to their land, lo, as doves which return to their dove-houses.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
This causes me to think of the “Holy doves” of the Kotel (Western wall) in Jerusalem, who return to nest in the crevices of the outer wall of the Temple Mount.
Isa 60:9 Kiy-liy For Me iymiym the islands (Mediterranean coastlands) yekavu shall wait, vo’oniyit and the ships of Tarshiysh (yellow jasper) barishonah among the first, lehaviy to bring banayich your sons merachok from afar, kaspam their silver uzhavam and their gold itam with them, lesheim for the name of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Elohayich your God, velikdush and for the Holy One Yisrael of Israel, kiy because fei’arach he has beautified, adorned, glorified you.
“Surely, the isles shall wait for my Word, and those that embark in the ships of the sea, the hand that stretches out their sails shall be first, to bring thy sons from afar, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because He hath glorified thee.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The tribes and nations to the west (Mediterranean) will wait for HaShem the God of Israel. For what reason do the western nations wait on HaShem? For their own salvation. The Targum understands the text to refer to the Word of God, which includes both the Torah, the prophetic books and the writings, and more importantly is used by the prophet Yochanan (John) in a figurative sense to represent the Living Word, the King Messiah. Therefore, the tribes and nations to the west wait on the King Messiah as the manifestation of God with us.
Upon seeing God’s mighty act of redemption and the light of His presence upon Israel, the nations to the west will sail to the land of Israel bringing back Jews and with them, the riches of their respective nations. All this will be done “for the Name of YHVH”, Who will be recognized as “the Holy One of Israel” because He has glorified His people through the glory of the King Messiah and in His redemptive purpose.
Isa 60:10 Uvanu beneiy-neichar And the sons of foreigners will build up chomotayich your walls, umalcheiyhem and their kings yesharetunech shall minister to you: kiy for vekitzpiy in my wrath hiykiytiych I struck you, uvirtzoniy but in my favour, acceptance richamtiych I have had mercy on you.
The Hebrew “beneiy-neichar” is used elsewhere to refer to converts to Judaism. It is possible that the same is meant here. Regardless, the beautiful irony remains, that the sons of nations that sought to tear down Jerusalem’s walls are the same that will rebuild them. What is more is that the rulers of those same nations will come to minister to the people of Israel. And all this, not because of Israel’s righteousness but because of God’s righteousness made manifest in her through His Light, the Redeemer, King Yeshua.
Isa 60:11 Ufitchu she’arayich Therefore, your gates will be open tamiyd continually, everlasting; yomam valaylah lo yisageiru they will not be shut day nor night; lehavi elayich cheiyl goyim so that wealth of the nations will be brought to you, umalcheiyhem and their kings nehugiym led captive.
“And the gates thereof shall in no wise be shut by day (for there shall be no night there): and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it:” -Revelation 21:25-26 (ASV)
The only way a city’s gates can remain open forever is if that city remains forever. Therefore, this speaks of the convergent Jerusalem at the inception of the Olam Haba (World to come).
Regarding the kings of the nations Kimchi the Jewish commentator writes:
"they shall come before the King Messiah, as servants before their masters.''
Isa 60:12 Kiy-hagoy For the nation vehamamlachah and kingdom asher that lo-ya’avduch will not serve you yoveidu will perish, vanish, be destroyed; ve’hagoyim and those nations charov yecheravu will be utterly wasted, made completely desolate.
“For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee, Jerusalem, shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly destroyed.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The subject here is redeemed Israel under the rule of the King Messiah. Therefore, any nation (organised collective) that will not serve the King Messiah and His chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious: Not the Church), will be wiped out, made utterly desolate. Such is the strength of this warning that it is doubled. This is a firmly established metaphysical reality for those who oppose Israel and her Messiah.
“And it shall be, that whoever of the families of the earth go not up unto Jerusalem to worship the King, HaShem of hosts, upon them there shall be no rain.” -Zechariah 14:17
Isa 60:13 Kevod The glory halevanon of Lebanon (Whiteness) elayich yavo shall come to you, berosh the cypress, tidhar the pine, uteashur and the box-tree yachdav together, lefa’eir to beautify mekom the place mikdashiy of My sanctuary; umekom and the place raglay achabeid of My feet, weighty with glory.
This connects the prophecy to the building of Solomon’s Temple and the manifest glory of God (1 Kings 6:9).
“The place of My feet” Is both figurative and literal. Literal in the sense of the Messiah, the Malakh HaShem (Angel of the Lord), and figurative in the sense of God’s light presence made manifest in Jerusalem. King David recognises the Mercy seat of the Ark of the covenant as the “footstool” of HaShem:
“Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: as for me, it was in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of Adonai, and for the footstool of our God; and I had made ready for the building.” -1 Chronicles 28:2
Isa 60:14 Vehalechu eilayich And walking toward you shechoach the bending beneiy sons me’anayich of them that afflicted you; vehishtachavu bowing themselves down al-kapot raglayich at the soles of your feet; kol-mena’atzayich all those who despised you vekare’u loch will call you iyr City of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), Tziyon (Parched land) kedush Yisrael of the Holy One of Israel.
The persecutors of Israel will be made subject to her and to her King Messiah.
“City of YHVH” refers to Jerusalem, in Zion, purchased by the Holy One of Israel.
Isa 60:15 Tachat Whereas heyoteich you have been azuvah forsaken usenuah and hated, ve’eiyn oveir so that none passed through you, vesamtiych I will make you ligon olam an eternal majesty, mesos a joy dor vador of generation upon generation.
Once again the only way a city can be made eternally majestic is if it is an eternal city. Therefore, the New Jerusalem is being spoken of.
“Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, Is mount Zion, the sides of the north, The city of the great King.”-Psalm 48:2 (ASV)
“Generation upon generation” Is a collective phrase referring to the gathering of generations past present and future to dwell within a city whose majesty is everlasting. It does not denote reproduction in the world to come, nor does it refer to the present world.
Isa 60:16 Veyanakt And you will nurse (suckle) chaleiv milk goyim of nations, veshod melachiym and at the breast of kings tinakiy you will nurse (suckle); ve’yada’at and you will know kiy that Aniy I, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), am Moshiyeich your Saviour, ve’goaleich and your Redeemer, aviyr Yaakov the Mighty One of Jacob.
Israel will be supplied by the nations, and as a result will know that God Himself is her Saviour (Yeshua, the King Messiah).
“I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? A curse on that idea! (May it never be!) But by their false step salvation has come to the Gentiles, to provoke Israel to jealousy. 12 Now if their transgression leads to riches for the world, and their loss riches for the Gentiles, then how much more their fullness!” -Romans 11:11-12
“I, HaShem, am your Saviour, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” How can HaShem both send a Redeemer (59:20) and be the Redeemer? Only if the Redeemer is a manifestation of the Person of God that enters time and space and remains present outside of time and space as a result of His redemptive work. Immanuel (With us God) the King Messiah Yeshua alone qualifies.
Isa 60:17 Tachat Instead hanechoshet of brass aviy I will bring zahav gold, vetachat and instead habarzel of iron aviy I will bring kesef silver, vetachat and instead of ha’eitziym wood nechoshet brass, vetachat and instead of ha’avaniym stones barzel iron. Ve’samtiy I will also appoint fekudateich your custodians shalom peace, wholeness, wellbeing, venogesayich and your taskmasters tzedakah righteousness.
The progression of elements makes the most valued material of Israel’s oppression the lest valuable of her redemption. Thus her desolation is turned into prosperity through the redemptive work of God.
In counter distinction to the drunk watchmen and wicked shepherds of the former chapters, God will appoint rulers who impart peace and the motivation for the people will be righteousness personified.
Isa 60:18 Lo-yishama No more will be heard od again chamas violence be’artzeich in your land, shod desolation veshever and fracturing bigvulayich within your borders; vekarat and you will call yeshuah chomotayich thy walls Salvation, ushe’arayich and your gates tehilah Praise.
“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Adonai, as the waters cover the sea.” -Isaiah 11:9
Salvation Himself (Yeshua) will be the protection, peace and Light of the New Jerusalem.
Isa 60:19 Lo-yihyeh-lach od ha-shemesh The sun will no longer be leor your light yomam by day; ulenogah hayareicach lo-yaiyr lach and the brightness of the moon will not give light to you: vehayah-lach but HaShem (YHVH) will be to you le’or olam an everlasting light, veilohayich and your God letifarteich will be your splendour, beauty, glory.
This is a description of the New Jerusalem and the dwelling of God with humanity on the new earth.
“And the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine upon it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the light thereof is the Lamb.” -Revelation 21:23
Isa 60:20 Lo-yavo od shimsheich Your sun will no longer go down, vireicheich lo yeiaseif and your moon will not withdraw itself; kiy for HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) yihyeh-loch will be your le’or olam everlasting light, veshalmu and the fullness (end, covenant of peace) of your yemeiy days evleich of mourning.
“Thy kingdom shall cease no more, and thy glory shall not be removed: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away.” -Revelation 21:4 (ASV)
Isa 60:21 Veameich Your tribes kulam tzaddikim will all be righteous ones; leolam also forever yireshu aretz they shall inherit the land, neitzer the green sprout (branch, shoot) matatay a planting, ma’aseh the work yaday of My hands, lehitpaeir that I may be glorified, adorned.
This refers to all the tribes of Israel represented by a holy remnant, redeemed through Yeshua the King Messiah.
“Now I heard the number of those marked with the seal:
144,000 from every tribe of Bnei-Yisrael—” -Revelation 7:4 (TLV)
“Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him were 144,000 who had His name and His Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and the booming of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like harpists playing on their harps. 3 And they are singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one is able to learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.” -Revelation 14:1-3 (TLV)
“The branch of My planting” is a figurative reference to the King Messiah the branch of Jesse. Therefore, Israel’s tribes will inherit the land of Israel as covenanted by God with Abraham as a result of the redemptive work of the King Messiah.
“Then a shoot will come forth out of the stem of Jesse,
and a branch will bear fruit out of His roots.
2 The Ruach of Adonai will rest upon Him,
the Spirit of wisdom and insight,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge
and of the fear of Adonai.
3 His delight will be in the fear of Adonai.
He will not judge by what His eyes see,
nor decide by what His ears hear.” -Isaiah 11:1-3 (TLV)
Isa 60:22 Hakaton The little one yihyeh will become laelef a thousand, vehatzaiyr and the insignificant one legoy atzum a strong nation; Aniy I, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), be’itah achiyshenah will hasten it in its time.
This is speaking of the least among the tribes of Israel becoming great both physically and spiritually through the work of the King Messiah. It also speaks of Israel “the insignificant one” being made “a strong nation” and this, “hastened in its time” by Hashem. The phrasing “Aniy YHVH” (I Am HaShem) is fierce. God is zealous for His chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious), and when the fullness of the nations has come in He will save all Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical) [Romans 11:25-26]. Nowhere in the entirety of Scripture is Israel ever used figuratively or otherwise to refer to Gentiles (Nor is it ever used of the Church). Israel is an ethnic, religious proper noun given to those who are of the bloodline of Jacob (twelve tribes). Likewise the noun “Jew” derived from Yehudah (praise), is now used to describe those who are of the tribes of Israel united under the tribe of Judah upon returning to the land of Israel and the territory of Judah following the Babylonian exile. Therefore, for all intents and purposes the titles “Jew” and “Israel” are now synonymous. Those who say otherwise speak with a satanic tongue.
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
The Love, mercy, grace, and peace of God are offered to all but only those who accept His free gift will receive it. An unwrapped gift cannot be enjoyed, a bride cannot be married until she says “I do”, a woman cannot conceive unless she receives her husband, love cannot exist without freewill, and relational love cannot be experienced unless it is responded to. Therefore, “‘There is no (everlasting) peace, wholeness and well-being,’ says My God, ‘for the wicked’
The former chapter ends with a description of the wicked, lazy, godless false shepherds and rulers of Israel at the time of Isaiah’s prophecy. They are described as drunken fools who are devoid of faith and focused solely on their own unjust gain. They are now starkly contrasted to the righteous who have fallen as a result of the wicked rulers and false shepherds of Israel (Judah).
Isa 57:1 Ha-tzadiyk The righteous avad perishes, ve’eiyn and no iysh (man) one sam lays it al upon (within) leiv their core being (heart); ve’ansheiy-chesed merciful men of standing ne’esafiym are taken away (removed), be’eiyn while none meiviyn understand. Kiy-mipeneiy For from before the face ha’ra’ah of the evil ne’esaf ha-tzadiyk the righteous are gathered in, taken away, received;
“The righteous die, and no man layeth my fear to heart; and the men who shew mercy are taken away, and they consider not that the righteous are taken away on account of the evil which shall come.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“The righteous perishes, and no one lays it upon (within) their core being (heart)” It seems clear given the context and chronology that righteous Jews living in the midst of their idolatrous countrymen have died as a result of the ungodly rule of the wicked. Specifically the wicked rulers and shepherds of Israel (56:9-12). Therefore, it is members of the righteous remnant that are being referred to.
The prophet’s words may well reflect the condition of Judah under the reign of king Manasseh, who is described this way: “Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another.” (2 Kings 21:16).
“Merciful men of standing are taken away (removed), while no one understands.” The spiritual condition of Judah (Israel) is so debauched that the people barely pay attention to the deaths of the righteous, nor are they able to do the spiritual math and see that this is a sign of how low they have sunk into idolatry and lewdness. The Hebrew “ansheiy” refers not just to men but to men of standing, respected and righteous men who are leaders of the community. We note that the Targum reads, “no man layeth my fear to heart.” This correlates to the idea that those who resist God’s love often choose to celebrate the death of His servants:
“and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth.” -Revelation 11:10 (ESV)
King David’s response to the loss of the godly is the right response, and an example to all:
“Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.” -Psalm 12:1
He rightly understands that the death of the righteous is an indictment against a community, and at its extension, an indictment against humanity. Therefore, he cries out to the Lord for salvation. At the time of Isaiah’s prophecy Judah (Israel) did not follow the good example of David because unlike David the rulers and shepherds of Judah (Israel) were unrepentant and had forsaken God’s Torah, and instead had turned to numbing themselves with debauchery in the worship of false gods.
“For from before the face of the evil the righteous are gathered in, taken away, received;” This is an explanation of that which the wicked of Israel are unable to understand in their state of spiritual blindness. For the righteous, death is not an end to life but rather a transitional journey into everlasting life. For the wicked on the other hand, death is an end that gives birth to an everlasting second death. Therefore, the death of the righteous is described as an act of God’s mercy. He has taken the righteous away to Gan Eden (Paradise) in order to spare them the face of evil that will come against the wicked in this temporal sin affected world.
Something similar is prophesied by Huldah the prophetess concerning the righteous king Josiah:
“Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place.’” And they brought back word to the king.” -2 Kings 22:20 (ESV)
In a literal historical sense the evil that is about to come upon Judah (Israel) will come in the form of the Babylonian Empire. Thus, the righteous are being spared from captivity. In a greater spiritual sense the Lord continues to deliver the righteous from the plague of evil that is coming upon the world in these latter days. And, like the spiritually blind Israel of old the present generation is oblivious to both the loss of the righteous and the clear sign that this loss presents regarding the coming destruction and judgement.
Isa 57:2 Yavo He has and continues to enter into shalom peace (wholeness, wellbeing); yanuchu they have and continue to rest (remain, dwell) al-mishkevotam upon their beds holeich who walk in ne’chocho straightness, rightness (in front of).
“They shall enter into peace; they shall rest in the place of their beds, those that do His law.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“He has and continues to enter into shalom peace (wholeness, wellbeing)” The “He” in this phrase is the righteous, the merciful man of standing. Keep in mind that this follows the perishing (death) of the righteous one. Therefore, the text infers an ongoing existence after death in the afterlife (Gan Eden: Paradise).
The Hebrew text informs us that the righteous one has (past tense) and continues to (present tense) enter into Peace, wholeness, and well-being. This is a description of the soul dwelling in spirit with the person of Peace, that is the transcendent resurrected Messiah, the Prince of Peace. This is in keeping with the familiar refrain of the Torah, “He was gathered to his tribe” (Gen.25:8). One asks, given that Abraham died and was gathered to his tribe, where is his tribe, and how is it possible to be gathered to one’s ethnic family after death? The answer is of course found in the teachings of our rabbis and in the mashal of Yeshua concerning Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31). Sheol, the place of the departed (not the grave: kever), is divided into Gan Eden (Paradise) and Gehenna (Torment), with an uncrossable chasm between the two.
“they have and continue to rest (remain, dwell) upon their beds who walk in straightness, rightness.” The bed is used as a euphemism for the sleep of death. Yeshua used the euphemism sleep to describe temporal death, that is, the first death. It is temporal in the fact that the first death lasts only until the judgement, at which time there is a second death for the wicked but eternal life for the righteous (those made righteous through Messiah Yeshua). The use of “bed” as a euphemism for death is consistent with the use of “sleep” for the same purpose. Both infer a temporal state, one that the sleeper (on his bed) will one day awake from. Thus, both Gan Eden and Gehenna are temporal holding places that will give forth their dead at the judgement, after which the righteous will live in the Olam Haba (world to come) in God’s manifest presence and the wicked will be consigned to the place they have chosen, that is the lake of fire that torments perpetually (Rev. 20:14).
We note that it is those whose faith causes them to walk in straightness, which is synonymous with righteousness, who are received to rest in peace upon their beds.
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!’” -Revelation 14:13 (ESV)
The Hebrew “mishkav” translated bed, is an accurate description of the ancient Jewish interment practice of chiselling out rock beds, and cubicles inside caves, and or setting them in man-made tombs (above ground). These acted as the tombs (graves) of those who had passed on. Therefore, unlike the English word “grave” the Hebrew “kever” denotes an above ground interment rather than an under ground burial.
Later in the chapter the bed is seen as a convergent euphemism for both adulterous idolatry and death.
Isa 57:3 Ve’atem But you (plural), kirvu-heinah draw near, here, now, beneiy sons (children) onenah of a sorceress, zera seed (offspring) me’naeif from an adulterer v’tizneh and a whore (fornicator).
“But ye, come nigh hither, people of a generation whose works are evil, whose plant was of a holy plant; but they are adulterers, and fornicators.” Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE).
Now the prophet speaks God’s disciplinary words to the wicked among the people of Judah and Israel.
The modern Hebrew convergent phrase for the litany of titles at the end of this verse is “Ben-zonah”, equivalent to “Son of a bitch”, but literally “Son of a whore”.
We note that this is a generational indictment. Not only are the generation of Isaiah’s lifetime wicked, they are the children of a wicked generation.
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” -1 Samuel 15:23
The progression of titles is significant:
The children of the sorceress are children of rebellion. Both they and their parents have rebelled against God. The adulterer destroys families. Therefore, the children of the adulterer are those who destroy families through sexual sin. The children of the whore, however, in addition to destroying families, also participates is the ironic and self-defeating act of wasting seed and by aborting (sacrificing) unwanted babies that result from breeches in birth control for the prostitute. This brings blood guilt (murder) on both the prostitute and the one who lies with her.
This list of titles and their sins results in a generation that is destroying itself through rebellion toward God. Thus, a loving God has no other option but to discipline His wayward children in order to save them from themselves.
A similar indictment is brought against the Church in Thyatira, and serves as a warning to the Church today:
“But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.” -Revelation 2:20 (ESV)
Isa 57:4 Al-miy Against whom tit’an’agu do you mock? Al-miy Against whom tarchivu do you open wide peh your mouth, ta’ariychu lengthening (sticking out) lashon your tongue? Ha-lo-atem Are you (plural) not yildeiy-fesha children of rebellion (transgression), zera seed (offspring) shaqer of lies, deceit, falsehood.
“Against whom do you mock? Against whom do you open wide your mouth, lengthening (sticking out) your tongue? In one sense the text speaks of the wicked who mock the righteous representatives of God and indeed God himself. They ridicule and poke out their tongues. In another sense this could be seen as a description of haughty lasciviousness, sexual foreplay. Finally, there is the figurative application of the mouth and the words that proceed from it. The words of the wicked among Israel are words that produce death in opposition to the Word of life spoken by God’s prophet. The lengthening of the tongue could also be understood as an idiom meaning, to use language as a means of deception.
“Are you (plural) not children of rebellion (transgression), seed (offspring) of lies, deceit, falsehood.” The title “Children of rebellion” is the other part of the couplet to verse 3’s sorceress. Likewise “Seed of lies” relates to the adulteress and the whore.
Isa 57:5 Ha’neichamiym You who get hot with lust baeiliym among the terebinth trees (gods, idols, judges), tachat under kol-eitz ra’anan every green tree, shochateiy who slaughter ha-yladiym the children banechaliym in the valleys, tachat under se’ifeiy clefts ha-selaiym in the rock?
“Who worship idols beneath every green tree, who sacrifice the children in the valleys under the clefts of the rocks.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“Terebinth trees” The terebinth was the chief tree in Canaanite pagan worship, and is possibly the tree associated with the worship of Ashteret. The Ashterot poles/idols were possibly carved from the terebinth.
“In the valleys” probably refers to the Hinnom and Kidron in particular. The Hinnom valley is a known location for child sacrifice to the false Canaanite horned bull deity Moloch, aka Molech.
Sexual perversion and the sacrifice of children on pagan altars was common practice among the Canaanites whom HaShem had commanded the Israelites to remove from the land. Instead, the generations pursuant to Israel’s coming into the land became seduced by the women of the land and fell into worship of the false gods of Canaan.
Sacred prostitutes acted as priestesses and priests of deities such as Ashteret, the Canaanite equivalent to Aphrodite (the Greek godess of love, sex, beauty and fertility). The cult of Moloch demanded the sacrifice of children and was practised by king Manasseh in the Valley of Hinnom below Mount Zion surrounding Jerusalem from west to south (2 Chronicles 33:6). The valley of Hinnom is used as a figure for the holding place of torment known as Gehinnom or Gehenna.
However, the current reference to child sacrifice also specifies the location “under the clefts of the rock” which is an allusion to the high place sacrifices made to the Ba’aliym (Husbands, masters, false deities). It is likely that both forms of pagan sacrifice are being referred to.
Isa 57:6 Bechalkeiy-nachal Among the smooth stones of the wadi (torrent valley, stream bed) chelkeich is your portion; heim, heim they, they, goraleich are your lot (dice, chance pebbles); gam-lahem shafacht also to them you have poured out nesech a drink he’eliyt offering (ascending), minchah a grain offering, tribute, sacrifice. Ha-al eileh enacheim Am I supposed to relent, regret, be comforted by, console Myself, repent because of these things?
“Among the smooth stones of the wadi (torrent valley, stream bed) is your portion” Stones made smooth by the swift current of water that flooded the valleys were often anointed with oil and became objects of pagan worship upon which tribute was left and sacrifices were made.
“they, are your lot” This can be understood to refer to either a portion inherited or a chance devise. The commentator Yarchi suggests that the very stones used in pagan worship will be used to stone to death their worshippers. This is certainly an accurate picture of the nature of sinful action. In one sense all idolatry is self-abuse.
The use of the Hebrew “minchah” meaning, offering or grain offering, one specifically associated with the worship of HaShem; denotes a syncretistic practice that makes these actions all the more abhorrent.
“Am I supposed to relent, regret, be comforted by, console Myself, repent because of these things?” HaShem asks this incredulous rhetorical question as a challenge to the idolatrous Israelites (Judean’s). The Holy God of creation could neither be comforted nor offer consolation in response to such lewd and perverted pagan practices. According to the above explanation regarding the Hebrew minchah, it is more than likely that the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judea may well have been syncretising these practises with their worship of HaShem, making their sin all the more heinous.
It is worth noting that the practises of pagans are intrinsically linked to demons, and ultimately to Ha-Satan (The Devil).
“They sacrificed to demons, a non-god,
gods they had not known--
to new ones who came in lately,
ones your fathers had not dreaded.” -Deuteronomy 32:17 (TLV)
“No, I’m saying that what the pagans sacrifice is to demons and not to God, and I don’t want you to become partners with demons.” -1 Corinthians 10:20 (TLV)
Isa 57:7 Al Upon har-gavah ve’nisa a high (exalted) and lofty mountain samt mishkaveich you have set your bed, gam-sham also there aliyt you went up lizboach to slaughter zavach an animal (blood) sacrifice.
Ancient pagan worship made sacred places out of high mountains and hills. Some of the righteous kings of Israel removed the objects of worship used on these high places but many others allowed Israel to syncretise its worship of YHVH with the worship of other deities on the mountains and hills of Israel. This is to be considered the gravest of abominations.
“You have set your bed” Is a convergent euphemism. It combines the sexual immorality of pagan worship with the death bed that results. In effect the simple statement “You have set your bed also there” infers that the bed of adultery and idolatry set on the high place for all to see, will also become the bed on which the dead idolater lies in full view of everyone.
Isa 57:8 Ve’achar And behind ha-delet the door ve’hamezuzah and the mezuzah (container holding the promises of God: Deut. 6:4-9 and 11:13-21) on the doorpost samt you have set zichroneich up your remembrances; kiy for, mei’itiy from Me, giliyt you have uncovered your bed, vata’aliy and have gone up from Me, hirchavt widening mishkaveich your bed; vatichrat-lach mei’em and you have cut off a piece of (made a covenant for) yourself with them, ahavat you have loved mishkavam their bed, yad a penis (figurative use of yad: hand) chaziyt you looked upon.
“Behind the doors and the posts hast thou set up the remembrance of thy idols; thou hast been like a woman who is beloved by her husband, but goeth astray after strangers; thou hast enlarged thy bed: thou hast made a covenant with some of them, thou loved the place, the place of their beds, the place thou hast chosen.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE).
“And behind the door and the mezuzah on the doorpost you have set up your remembrances;” This is a description of syncretism. Idolatrous Jews were placing the charms of other deities under the mezuzot on the doors of their houses. This is significant given that Hashem had commanded Israel to write His word on the doorposts of their houses. The mezuzah has the Hebrew character Shin on it to remind the home owner that El Shaddai the all sufficient protector of Israel guards the home and equally, that His shalom is on the home of the true worshipper of Hashem. Thus, instead of the protection and peace of Hashem the Jews of the time were invoking protection from other gods, gods that could never protect them, gods that would in reality, bring about their destruction.
“for, from Me, you have uncovered your bed, and have gone up from Me, widening your bed;” This is the figure of a spurned husband whose wife is an adulteress. She leaves her husband’s bed in order to sleep with not one but many lovers. Thus, “widening your bed”.
“and you have cut off a piece of (made a covenant for) yourself with them, you have loved their beds, yad a penis (figurative use of yad: hand) you looked upon.” This is a description of the height of lewdness and unabashed perversion. The euphemistic use of the Hebrew “yad” seeks to expose the depths of depravity reached by the idolatrous. The yad (hand, penis) may also be representative of the Ashterot poles, and or the trees of pagan worship. This correlates to earlier references concerning Israel’s “burning with lust under every green tree.”
“Cut off a piece of yourself” refers to the practise of self-harm as it applies to pagan worship. The tragic irony of the idolatrous practises of the Jews of Isaiah’s time is that the covenants of God (with the exception of circumcision) shed the blood of animals as a prefigure of the vicarious sacrifice of the Messiah, whereas the demonic pagan practise required an individual to harm themselves in order to enter into covenant (a binding) relationship with the cold deities of stone and wood. This binding agreement made in the blood of the worshipper had significant spiritual consequences, none of them good.
Isa 57:9 Va’tashuriy You travelled lamelekh to the king bashemen with oil va’tarbiy and a great amount rikuchayich of your perfumes; vateshalechiy you sent tzirayich your envoys ad-meirachok to far off distant lands, vatashpiyliy to be humbled, abased, made low ad-sheol even (as far as) the place of the departed.
It is suggested by some that “lamelekh” can be understood to be “lamoloch” thus rendering the proper noun of the false god of the Canaanites. Of course devoid of the nikudot of the Masorites the text can be understood to refer to either the king of a foreign land or the god Moloch. The Moloch reading is consistent with worship practices associated to it, which are alluded to in the subsequent list of oils and perfumes. However, it is equally likely that the king described is Ahaz, who sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser, the king of Assyria, to say to Him, “I am thy servant and thy son.” Ahaz took the silver and gold that were in the house of YHVH, and in the treasures of the palace, and sent a bribe to the king of Assyria (2 Kings 16:7, 10).
Whatever the meaning, the motivation is the same. In each instance Israel is seeking comfort and protection from a king other than the King of the Universe HaShem, the God and King of Israel.
“you sent your envoys to far off distant lands, to be humbled, abased, made low even (as far as) the place of the departed.” King Ahaz of Israel did this very thing. However, this could also be interpreted to mean that by going in search of the gods of far off lands Israel has instead found humiliation (through captivity) and sheol (the place of the departed) by dying in captivity.
Isa 57:10 Berov darkeich yaga’at Abundant were your ways (paths, roads) that wearied you, lo-amart but you didn’t say, “Utter despair (No hope)”; chayat yadeich matzat your hand (penis) has found living al-kein upon it therefore, lo chaliyt you were not faint.
In spite of the exhaustion the idolatrous experienced as a result of their pursuit of false gods, they did not give up and acknowledge that there was no hope in the pagan religions. The latter phrasing describes the temporary delight of engaging in sexual immorality, something that the rebellious children of Judah and Israel had pursued with all their might without growing faint. The Hebrew “yad” is again used in an ambiguous way to figuratively represent a phallus.
Alternate interpretations see the latter clause as representing unjust gain:
"the necessity of thine hands, thou hast found prosperity in thy works:'' -Yarchi
Isa 57:11 Ve’et-miy da’agt Whom did you dread vatire’iy and fear, kiy techazeiviy when you lay down, ve’otiy-lo zachart and did not remember Me, lo-samt nor did you lay it al-libeich upon your core being (heart)? Ha-lo aniy Have I not machsheh umeiolam kept silent perpetually, ve’otiy lo tiyraiy and you do not fear, revere Me (hold Me in awe)?
“And of whom hast thou been afraid? and on account of whom hast thou feared? Thou hast surely multiplied speaking lies, and thou hast not remembered my service, and hast not had my fear in thine heart: I would have given you the ends of the world, if you had returned to my law; but thou hast not returned to me.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
This verse sums up the previous indictments. Israel, and specifically Judah has rejected God and His Torah, His love and protection. Rather than stand in awe of God and in fear of His just punishment of sin, Israel (Judah) has given Him no second thought as they have pursued the depraved gods of the Canaanites and of the surrounding nations. HaShem has kept silent in the sense that He has not yet put upon Israel the discipline she deserves. He has given her an opportunity to conclude for herself the need to return to Him, and yet she has refused to the point of disregarding Him altogether.
“The apostate Israelites took the silence of their God for indifference rather than attribute it to His longsuffering.” -Victor Buksbazen
Isa 57:12 Aniy I agiyd will declare (make known) tzidkateich your righteousness ve’et-ma’asayich and your deeds, ve’lo yoiyluch and they will not profit you.
“So be it” says HaShem. “I will declare your (version) of righteousness”, which will be seen for the profitless wickedness that it actually is.
Isa 57:13 Be’za’akeich When you cry out, yatziyluch kibbutzayich let your assembled heap (of idols) deliver you! Ve’et But the kulam lot of them yisa-ruach will be carried away by a wind, yikach-havel their breath taken away. Ve’hachoseh viy But he who seeks refuge in Me yinchal-eretz will inherit (possess) the land ve’yiyrash and will inherit (take possession of) Har-Kadshiy My holy mountain.
Judah (Israel) had chosen to trust in false, demonic deities. Now, when they cry out to the One true God for help He will respond by telling them to seek help from their worthless husbands (gods) whom they had chased after through their adulterous behaviour, having rejected their true Husband HaShem. Even in this we see mercy. HaShem will not allow the total annihilation of His people. This is an act of discipline. The loving father withholds help when that help is nothing more than an act of enabling.
“But he who seeks refuge in Me will inherit (possess) the land and will inherit (take possession of) My holy mountain.” HaShem never leaves the faithful without the hope and assurance of his promised inheritance.
While the majority of Israel had rejected God, there remained a righteous remnant: many of whom were referred to in the previous chapter, some of whom were proselytes. In the midst of Judah’s coming suffering and exile, God was reminding the faithful that He would bring them into their inheritance in the land of Israel and further still, they would inherit that which is unpurchaseable by human beings, the very dwelling place, and manifest presence of God Himself, that is, the Temple Mount, Mount Zion, Har Beit, Mount Moriah.
Isa 57:14 Ve’amar And say, “Solu-solu Lift up, lift up, panu-darech turn toward the way, hariymu raise michshol every occasion of stumbling miderech from the way of amiy My people.”
“And he shall say, Teach and admonish, turn the heart of this people to the right way; remove the stumbling-block of the wicked out of the way of the congregation of my people.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The repetition, as is always the case, denotes the fact that HaShem has firmly established the future removal of all that seeks to get in the way of His relationship with Israel. Prior to Judah’s exile to Babylon, HaShem promotes His redemptive purpose and the restoration of His people. His mercy always precedes His righteous judgement. His discipline is born of His love. While the disobedient children of God see only the disaster that is before them, God sees the goal from the beginning, and bestows hope upon the undeserving.
“A voice cries out in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way of Adonai,
Make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
4 Every valley will be lifted up,
every mountain and hill made low,
the rough ground will be a plain
and the rugged terrain smooth.
5 The glory of Adonai will be revealed,
and all flesh will see it together.’
For the mouth of Adonai has spoken.” -Isaiah 40:3-5 (TLV)
Isa 57:15 For thus says ram ve’nisa the One Who is high and lifted up, shochein ad Who dwells in eternity, ve’kadosh Holy shemo is His Name: “Marom ve’kadush eshkon I dwell in the high and holy place, ve’et and with daka the one of a contrite ushefal-ruach and humble spirit (breath, wind), lehachayot to revive, sustain the life of ruach shefaliym a humble spirit, ulehachayot and to revive leiv the core being (heart) nidkaiym of the contrite ones.
“For thus saith the high and lofty One, that dwelleth in the heavens, and whose name is Holy, who inhabits the height — yea, His holy Shekinah hath promised to save the contrite of heart, and the humble of spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to support the heart of the contrite.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The God of Israel is YHVH, He is above the highest heights that the false gods are worshipped on, further still He is eternal, uncreated and the Creator of the heights upon which the false deities of Israel’s folly have been worshipped. He is set apart, Holy beyond all measure, and yet, He is present with the heart (core being) of those who are humble and contrite in spirit. HaShem will sustain and strengthen the core being of the repentant, humble ones who love and honour His Holy Name (person, character, nature).
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.
A broken and a contrite heart, O God,
You will not despise.” -Psalm 51:19 (TLV)
Isa 57:16 For I will not ariyv contend forever, nor will I always eketzof be angry; kiy-ruach for the spirit milefanay from before My face ya’atof would grow faint (turn away), uneshamot and the soul life breathe that aniy I asiytiy made, fashioned.
“For I will not take vengeance of judgment for ever, neither shall my wrath be eternal: for I will revive the spirits of the dead, and the souls I have created.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
If God were to remain angry no human being would be able to stand before Him, for all are guilty of sin and have fallen short of His Glory. Therefore, His mercy precedes His judgement so that He might relent and forgive the repentant, humble, contrite of core being (heart).
The Hebrew is interesting. Spirit/wind/breath is “ruach”, and soul is “nefesh” meaning the connected elements of human existence in action. However, while God created numerous living things which have spirit (ruach), and living souls (nefesh), including animal life. According to the Genesis creation account, human beings were uniquely created to exist as a convergence of spirit and soul. The Hebrew word used to convey the human spirit/soul convergence is “neshamah”.
“And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” -Matthew 24:22 (ESV)
“The elect” of this passage are the Jewish people (ethnic, religious, empirical), the elect (chosen) people of God.
Isa 57:17 Ba’avon In the perversity bitzo of his unjust gain katzaftiy I was angry, ve’akeihu and struck him; hastier ve’ektzof I concealed Myself and was angry, vayelech but he went shovav turning back be’derech in the way libo of his own core being (heart).
This is a description of the yetzer ha-ra (evil inclination). The fallen nature of human beings means a tendency toward sin (idolatry). Perversity and self-seeking greed are some of the most common manifestations of human sin action.
“Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath.” -Psalm 78:38 (ESV)
“I concealed Myself and was angry” HaShem cannot be seen by those who refuse to see Him because He has afforded humanity the opportunity to choose Him. Love cannot exist without freewill. Therefore, from the point of view of the suffering wicked, HaShem has concealed Himself, though all things exist and have their being in Him.
“but he went turning back in the way of his own core being (heart).” This verse describes a life focused on debauchery and selfish gain followed, not by “teshuva” repentance (turning toward God) but by “shovav” turning away from God. Those being observed here are turning inwardly toward their own fallen nature. They have blinded themselves to their own demise. Therefore, God, Who is merciful, choses to refrain from His righteous anger in order to save idolatrous Israel from herself.
Isa 57:18 Derachayv His ways raiytiy I have seen, ve’erpaeihu and I will heal him; veancheihu and I will lead him va’ashaleim and restore (make whole) [alt. through a covenant of peace] nichumiym offer comforts to him lo ve’la’aveilayv and his mourners,
“His ways I have seen, and I will heal him” The ways of the wicked have made him ill, or else why does he need healing? Therefore, the compassionate God of Israel seeks to heal the disobedient child.
“and I will lead him and restore (make whole) [alt. through a covenant of peace] offer comforts to him and his mourners,” HaShem has seen the way of the wayward. He sees that they have so deluded themselves that they are unable to find restoration. Therefore, God has come to lead the idolatrous and wayward children of Israel out of their self-imposed suffering and into His love and prosperity. He will do this through a covenant of peace, and will provide the redeemed who mourn (with Godly sorrow) their sinful actions (the act of a contrite heart), with comfort.
Isa 57:19 Borei creating (from nothing) niyv fruit of sefatayim the lips. Shalom, shalom Peace, peace (wholeness, well-being), larachok to the far velakarov and to the near,” says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), “Urefativ and I will heal him.
“Creating (from nothing) fruit of the lips…” The Hebrew “Borei” signifies the creative expression of God Himself, the root being “bara”, meaning to create from nothing. Thus, the fruit of the lips of this creating are intrinsically connected to the Word of God and the manifest nature of peace, Who is Himself a person, that is the Prince of Peace.
“Shalom, shalom Peace, peace (wholeness, well-being), to the far and to the near,’ says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), ‘and I will heal him.’” The repetition of shalom denotes the firmly established peace, wholeness and well-being imparted by God through the redemptive work of the Prince of Peace (the Servant King Messiah). This peace is being offered to those who are “far off”, that is the Gentiles, and to those who are “near”, that is Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical).
The words of Iben Ezra are interesting:
“The meaning of the whole verse is: Proclaim, peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him who is near; announce, that the Lord has already saved Israel, because I have indeed healed him.” -Iben Ezra
In a very real sense, because God knows the end from the beginning and because the lamb of God has been slain before the foundation of the world, the repentant, righteous remnant of Israel have and will be seen to have been already saved through the Servant King Messiah Who brings peace, wholeness and well-being through His vicarious sacrifice.
Isa 57:20 Ve’hareshaiym But the wicked kayam nigrash are like the tossing sea; for it hashkeit lo will neither be silent yuchal or prevail, vayigreshu and its waters meiymayv throw up refesh mud vatiyt and clay.
While the righteous of Israel will be delivered, those who are determined to pursue wickedness in spite of God’s loving offer of grace and mercy, will be like a storm tossed sea that is unrelenting in its dredging up of worthless mud and debris: its turmult results in damage and its ferocity wrecks destruction. Therefore, the wicked will destroy themselves. This is an intentional choice to refuse God and His mercy.
Isa 57:21 Eiyn shalom There is no peace (wholeness),” says Elohay My God, “le’reshaiym for the wicked.”
It is impossible for those who are determined to resist God to receive His peace, wholeness and well-being. Why? The answer is quite simple, love is a choice to commit wholeheartedly to another, though the other might love unconditionally, none the less, if that love is refused it cannot be received. The Love, mercy, grace, and peace of God are offered to all but only those who accept His free gift will receive it. An unwrapped gift cannot be enjoyed, a bride cannot be married until she says “I do”, a woman cannot conceive unless she receives her husband, love cannot exist without freewill, and relational love cannot be experienced unless it is responded to. Therefore, “‘There is no (everlasting) peace, wholeness and well-being,’ says My God, ‘for the wicked’”
Notice that while the peace afforded to the righteous is “Shalom, shalom” (v.19), the doubling denoting the fact that it is firmly established, immutable; the peace that the wicked have not received awaits the possibility of repentance: the single use of the word “Shalom” allows for mercy to be offered within time and space. Therefore, up until the wicked persons last breath that person may choose to repent and through the righteousness of the Messiah (Peace Himself), receive “Shalom, shalom”, everlasting peace, wholeness and well-being.
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
Isa 56:1 Koh In this manner amar says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy): “Shomru Guard (Keep) mishpat justice (Judgement), va’asu and do (make, fashion) tzedakah right action, (charity, righteousness), Kiy-kerovah for near is yeshuatiy My salvation lavo to come, vetzidkatiy and My right action, (charity, righteousness) lehigalot to be uncovered (revealed).
Referring to the last verse of Isaiah 55, which is a redemptive figure describing the transformation of fallen humanity and in particular idolatrous Israel, HaShem now affirms the mechanism by which the repentant of Israel (and of the tribes) might practically outwork the aforementioned redemption. Therefore, He says “In this manner guard justice and act rightly for My Salvation is near, and My right action is about to be revealed.”
“In this manner” refers both to the manner of transformation from thorn-bush (wickedness) to cypress (righteousness) and brier (barreness) to myrtle (fruitfulness) and to the practice that follows:
Why is the remnant of Israel challenged to guard justice and walk in righteousness? Because HaShem’s Salvation is near to her and His right action of redemptive vicarious sacrifice and resurrection is to be uncovered. Meaning that Israel will see that which she has blinded herself to through her sinful actions. Therefore, HaShem will lift the cover off the eyes of Israel. A covering which she herself placed over her vision through wilful disobedience.
Covenant relationship is almost always (with the exception of God’s covenant with Abraham concerning the land) a two way street. Israel is to practice justice and right action as a result of God practicing salvation and revealing His right action of redemption which was formulated prior to the foundation of the world and the fall of humanity.
We must maintain our contextual and historical understanding of this passage as a start point for any figurative or metaphorical elements that may proceed from it. These words are spoken by Israel’s prophet to Israel (ethnic, religious). They were primarily heard by Israel in the land of Israel, and in particular Judah, living in Judea, Jerusalem etc. prior to the Babylonian exile which occurred tens of years after the prophet spoke and had these words recorded. Thus, we must keep in mind that it is pre-exilic Judah who are the primary initial recipients of this word from God.
Iben Ezra concludes wrongly that the present verse teaches “that the coming of Messiah is delayed because of our sin.” This is contrary to the Word of God which says:
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Messiah died for us.” -Romans 5:8 (TLV)
Chomat Anakh on Isaiah agrees with Rav Shaul (Paul the Apostle), explaining that the justice and right action of Israel must be the result of the redemption brought about by the Messiah and not the other way around.
“‘Keep judgment and do charity.’ The interpretation of Leichad Tifferet with Tzedakah Malchut ‘Because my salvation is near,’ because it comes from the redemption:” -Chomat Anakh on Isaiah
Here we must take courage to address the predominant view and unbiblical mis-teaching of our rabbis in regard to “Tikkun Olam” repairing the world. The false view that says we must work to do right action in order to “earn” the coming of the Messiah (as per Iben Ezra and others), has distorted our view of both God and His redemptive action (which is born of His love). In fact the opposite is true. “Tikkun olam” repairing of the world occurs as a result of our receiving the redemptive work of Yeshua the King Messiah. God does not hold us captive to our own inability to achieve righteousness, rather He empowers us through Messiah to walk in justice and right action. If we accept Yeshua the King Messiah we receive the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) and are thus empowered to work with God in the repairing of the world through the vicarious sacrifice of His Son the King Messiah. God doesn’t need our help, but we are invited to participate with Him in His redemptive work.
Isa 56:2 Ashreiy Happy is enosh a man ya’aseh-zot who does (fashions, accomplishes) this, uven-adom and a son of man yachazik who in strength, shomeir guards (keeps) Shabbat meichalelo from being defiled (profaned, desecrated), ve’shomeir guards (keeps) yado his hand mei’asot from doing (fashioning, accomplishing) kol-ra all (every, any) evil (bad).”
“Happy is a man who does this…” “This” refers to both the former keeping of justice and right action, and to the proceeding keeping of Shabbat and refraining from evil. Therefore, the justice (judgement) of verse 1 corresponds to the Shabbat of verse 2 and the right action of verse 1 corresponds to the refraining from wrong action in verse 2.
Verse 1 Verse 2
Why “Enosh: a man” and “Ben-Adom: a son of man”? The former represents an Israeli, a Jew and the latter a Gentile. “Ben Adom” is synonymous with Adam (unqualified in the sense of humanity). This is done to prepare the listener/reader for the introduction of the proselytes of the latter verses.
We must remember that these Gentile proselytes are complete converts, circumcised and (in the context of the present chapter of Isaiah 700 BCE) have become part of the Jewish ethnic DNA pool. It is unwise to apply these words to all Gentile followers of God throughout the world today. This misses the historical context of the text and reinterprets it to teach something it does not.
“Guards the Shabbat…” The weekly Sabbath denotes God’s sovereignty over all creation. Therefore, the Jew and the proselyte who guard (keep) it are testifying to their belief in the fact that the God of Israel Alone is God and the Creator of all things.
“Guards (keeps) his hand from fashioning any and every kind of evil…” The hand is the symbol of action. Belief and faith are embodied in the former practice of keeping Shabbat: now action, the outworking of belief and faith is symbolized by the hand of one who intentionally refrains from doing any kind of evil. None of this is possible without the transformation described in the last verse of Isaiah 55. The transformation that results from the redemptive work of the King Messiah Yeshua (the Greater Son of David, the Servant King) is the only means by which a Jew or a human being in general can truly know what it means to keep the eternal present rest (Shabbat) of God and walk in perfect right action. God does not command the impossible in order to disillusion us, rather He instructs the teachable and provides the means by which they might apply His teaching.
We notice that in each of these instructions we are commanded to “Guard”. It is misleading to read “keep” the Shabbat. Nor is it right to read “keep” his hand from doing any and every kind of evil. Why? Because we are incapable of keeping or holding fast to the immutable elements of rest (Shabbat) and right action (righteousness). The Hebrew “Shomeir” means “Guard”. Within time and space and through Messiah we become guardians of that which He “keeps”. This is the counterpoint to the unfaithful “Watchmen” of the latter verses, who keep themselves in drunkenness while failing to guard that which God is keeping for Israel (ethnic, religious), and the nations in perpetuity.
“Remember Yom Shabbat, to keep it holy. You are to work six days, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Shabbat to Adonai your God. In it you shall not do any work—not you, nor your son, your daughter, your male servant, your female servant, your cattle, nor the outsider that is within your gates.” Exodus 20:8-10 (TLV)
Note that this commandment, given specifically to Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical) is to be observed by all Jews but only by foreigners (Gentiles) who live within the Jewish (gates) community: specifically among the people of Israel on their way to and within the land of Israel. This does not apply to today’s Christians who worship the God of Israel but live outside of Israel and further still, outside of the Jewish communities within the diaspora. The commandment to keep Shabbat is specifically a sign on the ethnic, religious chosen people of Israel (Jews):
“So Bnei-Yisrael is to keep the Shabbat, to observe the Shabbat throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and Bnei-Yisrael forever, for in six days Adonai made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He ceased from work and rested.’” -Exodus 31:16-17 (TLV)
We note that the Shabbat is a sign between God and the ethnic, religious people of Israel (Jews). It is not a sign upon the nations. When Yeshua said “the Shabbat was made for man and not man for the Shabbat” (Mark 2:23-28) the only “men” present were Jews. Further, He used an example from the Tanakh in which only Jews participated. If we interpret His words to apply to all human beings, we are ignoring the historical and Scriptural context of what He said and impugning His character by suggesting that He contradicted the Torah (Exodus 31:16-17). To the contrary, He is making a drash on a commandment given specifically to Israel (ethnic, religious , empirical) and not to the nations. Thus, when He says “man” He means “man” within the context of Israel (Jews) and not humanity in general. If we go further and interpret His words figuratively to apply the Shabbat to all nations, we must by reason of logical progression be speaking of the eternal Shabbat at the end of the age, that is the Olam Haba (world to come) and not to the literal weekly Shabbat commanded specifically to the Jews. All figurative interpretation must submit to the plain meaning of the text. In the context of Yeshua’s words the command to keep Shabbat is not made incumbent on Gentile Christians, who did not yet exist at the time Yeshua spoke, rather He was explaining to the Pharisees that the sign of the Shabbat upon Israel’s “men” was one of rest and restoration through the work of God and was not a form of rest purchased by either the restraint or the actions of Jewish “men” (and women).
All this is done to keep the Shabbat as a sign on the ethnic, religious Jewish people until the end of the age, when:
“‘it will come to pass,
that from one New Moon to another,
and from one Shabbat to another,
all flesh will come to bow down before Me,’
says Adonai.” -Isaiah 66:23 (TLV)
The prophet Isaiah is clearly prophesying a time yet future, and is not, as some suggest, inferring that all nations should keep the Shabbat in the present age. This is also seen in Zechariah 14:16 where, at the end of the age (not now), the survivors of the defeated nations will repent and go up to Jerusalem to join with ethnic, religious Israel in celebration of the festival (signs) placed on the Jews. Neither passage denotes a requirement for weekly Shabbat observance by Gentile Christians.
When Yeshua says “The Son of Man is Lord of the Shabbat” He is alluding to the Messianic title given to the Messiah in the prophecy of Daniel (Dan. 7:13-14) in order that He might be recognized as Messiah by His disciples and any among the Pharisees who might understand and repent. While it is true that He is the Messiah over all men, we do not glean this understanding from the context of Mark 2:23-28.
Those who teach that Gentile Christians must keep the Shabbat are in fact teaching Gentile Christians to usurp one of the signs that sets ethnic, religious Israel apart from the nations. Ironically, in doing so, these “Seventh Day Adventists”, “Hebrew roots Christians” and so called “Messianic Gentiles” are literally practicing the “Replacement Theology” they claim to detest. I stand in opposition to those movements who seek to place Gentile Christians under bondage to commandments that were never incumbent upon them. I am a Jew and a follower of Yeshua the King Messiah, Who has set us free for freedom, that we might not return again to bondage.
This is not to say that Gentile Christians can’t choose to keep the Shabbat as free members of the body of Messiah Yeshua, rather it is to say that the weekly Shabbat is not incumbent upon Gentile Christians.
Isa 56:3 Ve’al-yomar ben-haneichar And don’t let a son of the foreigner speak, hanilvah who has joined el-YHVH to HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) leimor to say, “Havdeil This is the separation yavdiylaniy by which I’m separated HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) mei’al from among amu His people”; ve’al yomar hasariys and don’t let the eunuch (emasculated man) say, “Hein Behold, pay attention, Aniy I am eitz a tree yaveish that is dried up.”
Before addressing this verse we need to have an understanding of the significance of the proselyte (foreign convert to Judaism) and the eunuch (castrated, emasculated man).
“16 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 17 “Speak to Aaron, saying, ‘No man of your [a]offspring throughout their generations who has a defect shall approach to offer the food of his God. 18 For no one who has a defect shall approach: a blind man, or a lame man, or he who has a [b]disfigured face, or any deformed limb, 19 or a man who has a broken foot or broken hand, 20 or a hunchback or a dwarf, or one who has a [c]defect in his eye or eczema or scabs or crushed testicles.21 No man among the [d]descendants of Aaron the priest who has a defect is to come near to offer the Lord’s offerings by fire; since he has a defect, he shall not come near to offer the food of his God. 22 He may eat the food of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy, 23 only he shall not go in to the veil or come near the altar because he has a defect, so that he will not profane My sanctuaries. For I am the Lord who sanctifies them.’” 24 So Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons and to all the sons of Israel.” -Leviticus 21:16-26 (NASB)
We note that the descendant of Aaron with crushed testicles is not denied a place in the congregation of Israel, rather he is specifically excluded from priestly duties regarding the offering of sacrifices on the altar beyond the veil of the entry to the Mishkan (Tent of meeting). This instruction is intended to protect those with physical defects that might cause them to inadvertently stumble into the manifest Divine presence and die.
“No one who is [a]emasculated or has his male organ cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord. 2 No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the Lord. 3 No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the Lord,” -Deuteronomy 23:1-3 (NASB)
The emasculated male may not enter the “bikhal” (in the convocation, holy gathering) of HaShem. Once again, this does not mean that this person may not be present in the community, rather it means that this person cannot participate in the appointed times and Sabbaths, and the sacrificial worship practices of God, imparted to Israel. If this were not the case the Scripture Deuteronomy 23:1-3 would be in contradiction of Leviticus 21:16-26.
It is thought that Ruth the Moabitess who became an Israelite through marriage to Boaz entered Israel’s holy community in the eleventh generation following the instruction against Moabite entry (Deut. 23:1-3). Thus, there was always revealed grace concerning those who appeared to be excluded. This is not the result of progressive revelation but rather it is evidence of progressive understanding on our part. It’s interesting to note that Ruth became the mother of Obed, King David’s grandfather.
“Moreover concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a distant country because of Your Name— 42 for they will hear of Your great Name, of Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm—when he comes to pray toward this House, 43 then may you hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all that the foreigner asks of You. So all the peoples of the earth may know Your Name, to fear You as Your people Israel do, and know that this House that I have built is called by Your Name.” -1 Kings 8:41-43 (NASB)
We see that the Name of YHVH is intrinsically connected to Jerusalem and in particular the Temple, and the Temple Mount. Thus, there is a requirement for the foreigner to acknowledge the God of Israel and seek Him out in worship. Foreigners who reject God are not welcomed by King Solomon in this prayer of supplication during the inauguration of Solomon’s Temple.
“20 Thus says Adonai-Tzva’ot, “Peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will again come. 21 The inhabitants of one city will go to another saying ‘Let us go to entreat the favor of Adonai and to seek Adonai-Tzva’ot. I also am going.’ 22 Indeed, many peoples and powerful nations will come to seek Adonai-Tzva’ot in Jerusalem, and to entreat the favor of Adonai.” 23 Thus says Adonai-Tzva’ot, “In those days it will come to pass that ten men from every language of the nations will grasp the corner of the garment of a Jew saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” -Zechariah 8:20-23 (TLV)
Like Isaiah in the present passage, Zechariah also prophecies of a time yet future when foreigners will acknowledge that God is with the Jewish people and will seek out devote Jews and ask them to lead them to Jerusalem because they have heard of Israel’s God YHVH.
“But if an outsider dwells with you, who would keep the Passover for Adonai, all his males must be circumcised. Then let him draw near and keep it. He will be like one who is native to the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat from it.” -Exodus 12:48 (TLV)
We note that a foreigner living among the Israelites was able to participate in Passover only providing he became a full proselyte through circumcision. These are the foreigners that Isaiah is referring to in the present passage.
“5 Now Jewish people were staying in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound came, the crowd gathered. They were bewildered, because each was hearing them speaking in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “All these who are speaking—aren’t they Galileans? 8 How is it that we each hear our own birth language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and those living in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, [b] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and parts of Libya toward Cyrene, and visitors from Rome 11 (both Jewish people and proselytes), Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring in our own tongues the mighty deeds of God!” 12 And they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to each other, “What does this mean?” -Acts 2:5-12 (TLV)
The New Testament confirms the fact that the “foreigners” of Isaiah’s prophecy are in fact converts to Judaism, full proselytes. Given that, the account of Acts 2 is one of the fulfilments of Isaiah’s prophecy.
The fact that those being spoken of are proselytes to Judaism is evident in the following verses where they are seen to observe the central practices and signs of God’s covenant relationship to Israel.
Therefore, in addition to the instructions of verses 1 and 2, Israel is instructed not to allow the foreign proselyte to speak of himself as being separate from God and from Israel (ethnic, religious).
Likewise, don’t allow either the eunuch who is an ethnic Israelite or the converted eunuch of another nation, be he an official or otherwise, say of himself that he will have no offspring (a tree without sap). Why? Because the God of Israel is promising everlasting offspring through the passing on of faith. Thus, even the eunuch can become a spiritual father through the redemptive work of God in Messiah. All this follows the transformational imagery of Isaiah 55.
Iben Ezra rightly identifies the foreigners of this passage as “true proselytes”, and notes that the text uses the past tense to say that these foreigners have already become devoted followers of the God of Israel and members of the community.
“You shall allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the sojourners who reside among you and have had children among you. They shall be to you as native-born children of Israel. With you they shall be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.” -Ezekiel 47:22 (ESV)
The eunuchs in this passage are predominantly those of Israelite descent. We know this because the text specifies “the son of a foreigner” but says only “eunuch”. Hebrew eunuchs were not made that way by Jews for obvious reasons. This would have been a grave desecration of the Torah. Therefore, the eunuchs alluded to here are most likely returned exiles who had previously been emasculated by their captors. Thus the inclusion of them is an act of mercy that is consistent with the redemptive theme of the Torah.
The language of “separation” used here is significant. The primary motivation of the cry of the proselyte is one seeking inclusion beyond the court of the Gentiles. Isaiah is offering a prophetic future beyond that of the future historical fulfilment of this prophecy, to a time when there would no longer be a wall of separation.
“13 But now in Messiah Yeshua, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. 14 For He is our shalom, the One who made the two into one and broke down the middle wall of separation. Within His flesh He made powerless the hostility-- 15 the law code of mitzvot contained in regulations. He did this in order to create within Himself one new man from the two groups, making shalom,” -Ephesians 2:13-15 (TLV)
Isa 56:4 For thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy): “La-sariysiym To the eunuchs (castrated men) who yishmeru guard (keep) et-shabetotay My Sabbaths, uvacharu and who decide (choose, elect) ba’asher on that which chafatzetiy delights (pleases) Me umachaziykiym and who do so from strengthening biveriytiy in My covenant,
Now Hashem speaks directly to the eunuchs of Israel who are devoted in their religious observance and in keeping both the weekly Shabbat, one of the signs of God’s covenant (Ex. 31:16; Lev. 24:8) with Israel (ethnic, religious), and the holy convocations of God Shabbatot (Ex. 31:13; Lev. 19:3, 30; 23:15, 38 Eze. 20:12, 19-20).
“So Bnei-Yisrael is to keep the Shabbat, to observe the Shabbat throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.” -Exodus 31:16 (TLV)
“Every Yom Shabbat he is to set it in order before Adonai continually. It is an everlasting covenant on behalf of Bnei-Yisrael.” -Leviticus 24:8 (TLV)
“I also gave them My Shabbatot, as a sign between Me and them, so that they would know that I am Adonai who made them holy.” -Ezekial 20:12 (TLV)
“19 I am Adonai your God. Walk in My statutes, keep My ordinances and do them. 20 Keep My Shabbatot holy, so they will be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am Adonai your God.’” -Ezekiel 20:19-21 (TLV)
“Who holds fast to My covenant” This refers to the covenant God has made with Israel from the covenant made with Abraham concerning the land, through circumcision, and as a result of deliverance through the blood of the Pesach Lamb, the signs of the convergence of these covenants are seen in circumcision, Torah observance, guarding the weekly Sabbath, and keeping the festivals (Shabbatot) etc.
Isa 56:5 Ve’natatiy For I will give lahem to them be’veiytiy in My house uvechomotay and within My walls yad a hand (memorial, strength, sign) vasheim and a name tov that is good (pleasant) mibaniym from sons u’mibanot and from daughters; sheim a name olam everlasting eten-lo I will give them that will not be yikareit cut off.
“Even unto them will I give in the house of my sanctuary, and in the land of the house of my Shekinah a place, and a name that is better than that of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
We note that the Targum understands the House of the manifest presence of God “Shekinah” to be the location of the eunuchs’ names. Thus the Targum at least, is referring to the Heavenly court. We know this because the manifest presence is not recorded after the inauguration of Solomon’s Temple.
“I will give to them…” Who are the “them”? The precedent subjects are the eunuchs (Jews) of Israel who had previously been looked down upon or pitied due to their emasculation and inability to produce children and continue their family name. This was considered the highest physical blessing in Biblical Judaism. Those whose names were cut off for their lack of progeny were considered accursed. Now, through His prophet Isaiah, God is revealing the greater blessing of spiritual progeny to all Israel by restoring the honour of the devout emasculated Jewish men in Israel’s midst.
I am able to use myself as a modern example in order to share the spiritual principle at work. As a younger man, after fathering two beautiful daughters, I decided with my wife, and for her health’s sake that I would undergo a vasectomy. For all intents and purposes, regarding the production of children, I had become a type of modern eunuch (albeit my parts still attached). The point I’m making is that I had come to terms with the idea that I would have no further children to bear my name, and indeed, in a Judeo Biblical sense, no son to carry on my name. However, as a follower of Messiah redeemed unto eternity I have since been privileged to become a spiritual father to a number of people whom I now consider sons and daughters in the faith. Thus, like the ancient eunuchs of Israel, being unable to physically reproduce does not prevent me from playing my role in the spiritual reproduction of God’s redemptive purposes for humanity. All who are born again in Messiah Yeshua are born into the family of God. He is of course the greatest of father’s and defines what it means to truly be a father.
“In My House” Refers to the Temple on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Notice that this is “My (God’s) House”.
“and within My walls” Refers to the city walls of Jerusalem. Notice that these are “My (God’s) walls”.
“a hand (memorial, strength, sign) and a name that is good (pleasant)” In the past the family name of a eunuch was considered accursed, synonymous with disfavour. Now, through God’s redemptive action the names of the Jewish eunuchs would be given honour, not only in the city of Jerusalem but also in the very precincts of the Temple. The Hebrew “yad” literally means “hand” and is figuratively understood as a memorial. The hand imagery is one of strength: in this case it refers to the strength of spiritual progeny in place of the removal of the male sex organ (which was seen to weaken the male). The Hebrew “sheim” means “name” and denotes renown. Thus, not only will the faithful eunuchs of Israel be given an opportunity to produce spiritual progeny, they will also be renowned for it, honoured as priests in spite of the fact that they do not qualify to serve as priests.
The Hebrew phrase “yad vasheim” literally “Hand and a name” or “Memorial and a name”, is the name of the Shoah (Holocaust) Memorial Museum in Jerusalem built overlooking the Judean hills. This is significant, given that the victims of the Shoah were cut off and yet they have been given a memorial and a name in Israel. Like the eunuchs of old they have produced spiritual progeny through their great suffering and remain in the hearts and minds of Jews throughout the world.
“from sons and from daughters; a name everlasting I will give them that will not be cut off. We note the literal Hebrew translation differs significantly from the standard English rendering of the words in most English Bibles. Most English Bibles read something like “Better than sons or daughters”. While it is true that in a spiritual sense the names given to the restored eunuchs are better than those of mere physical progenitors, it is none the less a misreading of the text. The Hebrew literally says, “from sons and from daughters” In other words, the names of the eunuchs will be intrinsically linked to Israel’s sons and daughters so that their names will be carried on in the future heritage of the ethnic religious Jewish people. To put it simply, the eunuchs spoken of are “from” Israel, therefore, their names of renown will also be “from” Israel and will be everlasting because they belong to the transformed Israel pictured in the last verse of Isaiah 55. The poignant poetry of the last phrase is both graphic and redemptive. “That will not be cut off” Though the sex member of the eunuch’s body had been “cut off”, his redeemed and restored name would “not be cut off!”
The correlation to the Gospel of our Messiah is clear. God has no grandchildren, His children are born again of the Spirit and not through the copulation of men and women.
Isa 56:6 “U’veneiy And the sons haneichar of the foreigner hanilviym who join themselves al together with (upon) HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), leshareto to minister to Him, u’leahavah and to love et-sheim the Name of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), lihyot to become His la’avadiym servants, kol-shomeir all who guard (keep) Shabbat meichalelo from pollution (defilement) and do not profane it, umachaziykiym and who do so from being strengthened bi’veriytiy in My covenant--
Note that these are not included in the former promise to the Jewish eunuchs, rather they are alluded to in light of the promise that follows. Thus, the prophet makes a clear distinction between the roles of each group.
These foreigners are those who, as the Torah illuminates, are living among the people of Israel, within the community, and are keeping Jewish law and custom as strangers within the camp. These foreigners are proselytes, complete converts to Biblical Judaism, they are not equivalent to modern Gentile Christians. These ones who keep the Shabbat had also entered into the covenant of circumcision. We no this because the Judaism of ancient times did not allow uncircumcised Gentiles to join in worship. This is also affirmed by the last clause “from being strengthened in My covenant”.
“Sons of the foreigner” This indicates children born to foreigners living among the people of Israel. These foreigners had married into Israel and had converted to Judaism. Thus, while the gentile convert who marries a Jew is never considered fully Jewish (being devoid of Jewish blood), the children born to the couple are considered Jewish because one of the parents has Jewish blood and has passed that bloodline on to the child. A Biblical example of this is the marriage of Ruth and Boaz and the Jewish identity of Obed their firstborn, who became the grandfather of David.
“Who join themselves together with (upon) HaShem (YHVH: Mercy)” These Gentiles have fully converted to the religion of Israel and have joined themselves through circumcision and immersion to the God of Israel YHVH, forsaking all other gods.
“to minister to Him, and to love the Name of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy),” They actively participate in worship practice and spiritually love the Name of the God of Israel YHVH. That is, the understand and delight in all the character attributes associated with God’s Name and the nature He exhibits to Israel and the nations.
“to become His servants, all who guard (keep) Shabbat from pollution (defilement) and do not profane it” These Gentiles are willing servants of God and therefore, willing servants of His chosen people Israel. Thus, they both serve God (but not as priests) and His people, ethnic, religious, empirical Israel.
“and who do so from being strengthened in My covenant” These Gentiles are full converts who have entered the covenant (cutting) of circumcision. They subsequently bear the fruit of Torah observance.
Isa 56:7 Vahaviyotiym And these I will bring el-har kadshiy to My holy mountain, ve’simachtiym and make them joyful beveiyt tefilatiy in My house of prayer; oloteiyhem their burnt offerings (ascending) ve’zivcheiyhem and their (blood) sacrifices (from zabach, to slaughter) leratzon will be accepted al-mizbechiy on My altar; Kiy beiytiy for My house shall be called beiyt-tefilah a house of prayer lechol-haamiym for all the tribes (peoples).”
“And these I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer;” Who are the “these”? They are the “Sons of foreigners” (from the preceding verse) meaning, sons born to foreigners already living in the midst of Israel. It is true that they are brought from the nations to worship among the community of Israel. However, this does not negate the evidence of their conversion and observance.
“their burnt offerings (ascending) and their (blood) sacrifices will be accepted on My altar;” It is important to understand that only full proselytes qualify to offer sacrifices. As is the case in the account of Acts 2, the Gentiles being brought to God’s Holy Mountain (Zion) and His House of Prayer (Temple complex), are converts to Judaism.
“How is it that we each hear our own birth language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and those living in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, [b] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and parts of Libya toward Cyrene, and visitors from Rome 11 (both Jewish people and proselytes), Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring in our own tongues the mighty deeds of God!” -Acts 2:8-11 (TLV)
“for My house shall be called a ‘house of prayer for all the tribes (peoples)’.” King Solomon spoke the following words as a prayer of dedication during the inauguration of the Temple He had built for HaShem atop Mount Zion:
“Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your name’s sake 42 (for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, 43 hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to [a]fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that [b]this house which I have built is called by Your name.” -1 Kings 8:41-43 (NASB)
Yeshua was incensed when He witnessed money changers and traders in the outer court (court of the Gentiles [nations]) of the Temple precinct (Herod’s reconstruction of the Temple). As a witness against the sinful practices of the traders and money changers He quoted this text from Isaiah:
“16 and He would not permit anyone to carry [a]merchandise through the temple.17 And He began to teach and say to them, ‘Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”? But you have made it a robbers’ [b]den.’18 The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.” -Mark 11:16-18 (NASB)
The Greek text of Mark’s Gospel uses the Septuagint translation of the prophet Isaiah. The Hebrew “amiym” (tribes) being translated by the Greek word “ethnon” from “ethnos” which is the etymological root to the modern English “ethnicity”. Thus, Yeshua is reminding the devout Jews of the first century that HaShem as made a way for people from all the tribes of the earth to come and join with Israel in worship. Note that the Hebrew “amiym” does not allow for the translation “nations”, the Hebrew for nations is “goyim”, therefore, the text is referring to ethnicities, tribes, even peoples, but not to nations.
It is interesting to note that the Babylonian Talmud understands this verse to be speaking of the times of the King Messiah (T. Bab. Megillah, fol. 18. 1.)
Isa 56:8 Thus says Adonay HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) the Lord GOD, mekabeitz Who gathers nidcheiy outcasts (throw-aways; downcast etc.) of Yisrael Israel, “Od Perpetually akabetz I will gather alaiv unto him more lenikbatzayv to those already gathered.”
“Thus says the Lord GOD, Who gathers outcasts (throw-aways; downcast etc.) of Israel,” The prophecy now returns to the subject of gathering Israel’s outcasts: the eunuchs, lame, leprous, blind, disfigured etc. (Leviticus 21:16-26). The outcasts of Israel may also be a reference to the future return of the exiles from Assyria, Babylon etc.
“I will continually gather unto him (Israel, specifically Israel’s outcasts), others besides those already gathered.” Here God speaks of continuing to gather others to join the redeemed of His people Israel. These others will follow the inclusion of the outcasts of Israel so that the new covenant will always be first to the Jew and also always to others (the tribes).
“For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the [a]barrier of the dividing wall,” -Ephesians 2:14 (NASB)
Yeshua may well have had in mind the present verse when He used the mashal (teaching figure) of the sheep pen in order to explain that He would draw Gentile followers from other tribes to become worshippers of the God of Israel and disciples of Israel’s Messiah.
“ I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.” -John 10:16 (NASB)
Isa 56:9 Kol chayto All you living things saday of the field, eitayu arrive le’echol to eat— Kol chayto All you living things baya’ar in the forest (wooded height).
Here the prophet refers to Israel’s enemies as “living things, beasts”. HaShem invites them to come and devour Jerusalem.
“I have forsaken My house,
I have abandoned My inheritance;
I have given the beloved of My soul
Into the hand of her enemies.
8 “My inheritance has become to Me
Like a lion in the forest;
She has [e]roared against Me;
Therefore I have come to hate her.
9 “Is My inheritance like a speckled bird of prey to Me?
Are the birds of prey against her on every side?
Go, gather all the beasts of the field,
Bring them to devour!” -Jeremiah 12:7-9 (NASB)
Isa 56:10 Tzafu His watchers (alt. Tzofav keep watch) ivriym blind ones kulam all lo yadau all without knowledge; kulam all kelaviym dogs ilemiym mute (unable to speak); lo yuchelu linboach they cannot bark, hoziym dreaming, raving, babling shocheviym lying down, ohaveiy lanum loving to slumber.
This is a terrible indictment against those tasked with keeping watch from Jerusalem’s walls. They are described as being blind and without knowledge. They are wilfully blind and unable to see the coming destruction that will be wrought by Israel’s enemies.
“all dogs mute (unable to speak); they cannot bark, dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber.” This is particularly harsh (for good reason): the dog is used throughout Scripture as a figure for the members of wicked nations. In fact dogs and pigs are both synonymous with the wicked (Matt. 7:6). Yeshua said in response to the request of the Canaanite women, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” (Matt.15:26).
The watchmen of Israel are described here as being unable to speak, unable to bark a warning because they prefer comfort, sleep, dreaming to the reality of the task before them. In their disregard for God they have become negligent in protecting their people Israel. The blind watchers are the fruit of an idolatrous majority within the nation of Israel at the time of Isaiah’s prophecy..
There is an ironic play on words in the Hebrew text. Instead of Israel’s watchmen being “choziym” meaning “seers” they were “hoziym” ravers, babblers, fanciful dreamers, utterly deluded.
Isa 56:11 Ve’hakelaviym And the dogs azeiy-nefesh have a fierce soul; lo yadeu save’ah they never know satisfaction. Ve’heimah But they are roiym shepherds who lo yadeu haviyn don’t know discernment; kulam all ledarkam to their own ways they have panu turned, iysh each man (one) levitzo to his own gain (profit, unjust gain), mikatzeihu to the extreme end.
These dogs (watchmen, leaders) of Israel have mindless and fierce animal hunger. They care only for the things of the flesh (fallen nature) and pursue the desires of the flesh without ever finding satisfaction in that which they consume.
“they are shepherds who don’t know discernment;” This is a heart wrenching statement. The figure of shepherd is best represented in the Good Shepherd Hashem (Yeshua). However, the shepherds of Isaiah’s day were negligent, lazy, selfish and without self-control. They were devoid of discernment because true discernment comes from God through the Holy Spirit and they had chosen to shun God and ignore His precepts.
“all to their own ways they have turned, each man (one) to his own gain (profit, unjust gain), to the extreme end.” Not just some but “all” of Israel’s leaders at that time had turned to their own ways (fallen nature). They had reached a time of greater sin than that of the time of the judges of Israel. During the time of the judges there was a repeated refrain that said. “There was no King in Israel at that time and each man did what was right in his own eyes…” At the time of Isaiah’s prophecy Israel had a king, therefore, the greater indictment, “There was a king over Israel at that time, and yet each man did what was right in his own eyes, including the king…”
We note that each leader desired personal gain and pursued it in excess. This is a description of idolatry.
Yeshua spoke of some of the Parushiym (Pharisees) of the first century in a similar way:
“Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard this saying?”
13 But He replied, “Every plant that My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14 Leave them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” -Matthew 15:12-14 (TLV)
“Woe to you, Torah scholars and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel over land and sea to make one convert. And when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of Gehenna as yourself. 16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘Whoever swears by the Temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the Temple, he is obligated.’ 17 O fools and blind ones! Which is greater, the gold or the Temple that made the gold holy?” -Matthew 23:15-17 (TLV)
Isa 56:12 Eitayu He arrives ekchah-yayin to receive wine ve’nisbeah and drink heavily sheichar strong drink (liquor, spirits), ve’hayah and it has come to pass kazeh yom this day will be like machar tomorrow, gadol great (abundant) yeter remainder (excess) meod exceedingly.
"saying, come, let us take wine, and be inebriated with old wine; and our dinner tomorrow shall be better than today, large, very large.'' -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
Isaiah has previously described the spiritual leaders of Israel in a similar way:
“But these also reel from wine
and stagger from strong drink
—the kohen and the prophet reel from strong drink--
are confused because of wine,
they stagger because of strong drink,
they are muddled in vision,
they stumble in judgment.
8 Since all the tables are full of the filth of vomit,
no place is left.” -Isaiah 28:7-8 (TLV)
The drunkenness of Israel’s watchmen, shepherds, leaders, both spiritual and secular was such that it continued from one day to the next without breaking. They were practicing a lifestyle of debauchery more common to pagan idolatry than to the moral Torah observant culture of a spiritually healthy community.
“But Yeshua said to him, “Man, who made Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 Then He said to them, “Watch out! Be on guard against all kinds of greed, because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the material goods he possesses.” [c] 16 And Yeshua told them a parable, saying, “The land of a certain rich man produced good crops. 17 And he began thinking to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do? I don’t have a place to store my harvest!’ 18 And he said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do! I’ll tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I’ll store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I’ll say to myself, ’O my soul, you have plenty of goods saved up for many years! So take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! Tonight your soul is being demanded back from you! And what you have prepared, whose will that be?’ [d] 21 So it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich in God.” -Luke 12:14-21 (TLV)
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
Messiah, like the waters of the heavens, comes and does not return (precipitation) until He has accomplished His purpose of satisfying the spiritual thirst of those who live on earth and seeding in them the fruit of redemption. Through His death and resurrection He offers water (The Holy Spirit) to the thirsty soil of the human soul.
Isa 55:1 “Hoy Oiy, alas, wow, woe, relief, exhale, an invitation to kol-tzamei everyone who thirsts, lechu (from halak walk) walk toward la’mayim to the waters; ve’asher and the one eiyn-lo kasef without money, lechu walk toward, shivru purchase ve’echolu and eat! lechu walk toward, shivru purchase belo-kesef without money uvelo and without mechiyr hire, yayiyn wine ve’chalav and milk.
The previous chapter ended with the certain promise of God to Israel, that “no weapon formed against” her would prosper. As the prophet indicated, there would be weapons formed against her but they would not be of God but of the enemies of God and of Israel His people. Thus, the present chapter begins with an exclamation of warning mixed with relief. The Hebrew “Hoy” is difficult to translate. The sense is that of woe mixed with an exhaling and causative awe: an invitation. It is as if HaShem were saying, “It’s true that weapons will be formed against you by other nations and peoples, and after all those weapons have been defeated, ‘Hoy’, relax and pay careful, even woeful attention: because once these things have passed God will offer His waters to all, both to you and to the repentant among your former enemies…”
“kol-tzamei everyone who thirsts,” This is obviously addressed to everyone in both Israel and among the nations who thirst. The thirst is clearly spiritual (Isa. 41:17; 44:3; Psalm 42:1-2; 63:1) and can only be satiated by the spiritual waters that come from God.
Iben Ezra sees the “water” as being a metaphor for the Torah (Instruction, Law). This is consistent with the idea that the living Word of God, the King Messiah (John 1; 4:14; 7:37), offers water that will satisfy the human soul for all eternity.
“Yeshua replied to her, ‘Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never be thirsty. The water that I give him will become a fountain of water within him, springing up to eternal life!’” -Yochanan (John) 4:13-14 (TLV)
The Jewish commentator Kimchi says, “after the war of Gog and Magog (an eschatological battle at the end of the age), the nations shall know that the Lord reigns, and shall come and be desirous of learning his judgments and laws.”
The Targum also understands “waters” as a metaphor for the doctrines (Law) of God:
“Ho, every one that is willing to learn, let him come and learn, and he that hath no silver, come, hear and learn; come, hear and learn, without price and money, doctrine that is better than wine and milk.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
“lechu (from halak walk) walk toward la’mayim to the waters” The standard translation “Come to the waters” falls short of conveying the greater meaning of the Hebrew text. The Hebrew reads “lechu” lit. “He walks”, from the root “Halak” meaning “To walk”. Therefore, the waters must be walked toward in repentance. These waters are offered to all but are not received by all, rather, they are received by all who come in repentance. Halakhah is the way we walk, it is more than coming, it is coming in humility and repentance.
Notice that the Hebrew “mayim” is intense, plural, “waters”. It is not “water” but “waters” that are being offered. God’s Word (alluded to later in the chapter in relation to the waters of the heavens) is perpetual, intense, everlasting, and the waters of verse one are a metaphor for God’s Word, essence (D’var).
“And the one without money, lechu walk toward, shivru purchase ve’echolu and eat!” Again, this is a metaphor regarding spiritual food.
“Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, eat what you find—eat this scroll. Then go, speak to the house of Israel.’” -Ezekiel 3:1 (TLV)
Produce from the earth is sold by human beings to one another but the produce of the heavens cannot be bought and sold. The food that is purchased without money is the food of the heavens, the sustenance of the everlasting soul of humanity that comes from God and can be received from no other source. We notice that this must be “walked toward”: it is not forced on anyone. Those who refuse freely offered food will starve according to their own decision. God doesn’t send fallen angels or people to the lake of fire (Rev.19:20; 20:10-15), to the contrary, they choose to go by refusing God’s present, redeeming, loving action.
“lechu walk toward, shivru purchase belo-kesef without money uvelo and without mechiyr hire, yayiyn wine ve’chalav and milk.” The wine and milk are also metaphors for the Torah (Instruction, Law). In fact, the waters, food (bread), wine and milk to which the prophet refers are all aspects of God’s Word (D’var, essence).
Water is essential to life. Without water life as we know it cannot exist. Likewise, food sustains life, bread is the fuel of a healthy existence (according to an ancient middle eastern diet and not the modern forms of grain which contain modified gluten). Wine is both a comfort in sorrow and a delight in our celebrations. It was often used medicinally in the ancient middle east and is a constant reminder of the need for blood atonement. Finally, milk is essential to early childhood development. In the case of a mother’s milk the nutrients and enzymes present offer strengthened immunity to the new-born and sustain the baby’s growth to a point where the child can consume and digest solid foods. Each of these symbols conveys an aspect of God’s written (Ketuviym: Scriptures) and living Word (D’var: essence, Yeshua: John 1) at work in the lives of those who believe and receive Him in repentance.
The living waters of God are offered freely and received in repentance and humility. No matter how wealthy a person becomes in this world, a human being cannot buy the everlasting waters of God. This living water has been purchased for humanity by God’s Servant Redeemer, it cannot be earned, it can only be received in humility and repentance.
“For the payment for sin is death; but the gift of God is everlasting life through Yeshua the Messiah our Lord.” -Rav shaul’s letter to the Roman believers 6:23
Isa 55:2 Lamah Why tishkelu-kesef do you weigh out (spend) your money belo-lechem for that which is not bread, viygiyachem and your labour (toil, working) belo lesave’ah for that which does not satisfy (fill you up)? Shimu shamoa Listen, hear, understand with diligence (pay careful attention) eilay to Me, ve’ichlu-tov and you eat what is good, vetit’anag and delight badeshen nafshechem your souls in fatness (rich food, fertility, blessing).
“Wherefore do ye weigh out your silver for that which is not food? and your wealth for that which satisfies not? Hearken diligently to my Word, and ye shall eat that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.”-Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
It is interesting to note that the Targum equates the “Word” to “God.”
“Why do you weigh out (spend) your money for that which is not bread, and your labour (toil, working) for that which does not satisfy (fill you up)?”
If the former verse uses metaphor to convey spiritual truth then so does the present verse. The money spent by the hungry is the wealth they have earned from their temporal labour. They spend it on “that which is not bread”, bread being the metaphor for the Word of Hashem (Both written and living). Therefore, “That which is not bread,” is an allusion to the idolatry of Israel and of all humanity.
“He afflicted you and let you hunger, then He fed you manna—which neither you nor your fathers had known—in order to make you understand that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of Adonai.” -Devarim (Deuteronomy) 8:3 (TLV)
It is God Who allowed Israel’s hunger as a result of her sin. Israel continued to purchase false spiritual food from other gods and as a result her spiritual hunger was not satisfied. She was constantly tormented in body, mind and spirit because the spiritual food she received from false gods did not satisfy her need. In fact, the spiritual food purchased from false gods did harm to Israel’s body (collective and individual) because it is the spiritual equivalent of junk food. Israel, like all the nations of the world, hungered for right relationship with God her Creator but foolishly sought to satisfy that hunger with the temporal junk food of false gods.
We note that the waters of God are offered freely but the worthless food of false gods (Satanic forces) costs dearly. The waters of God give life and sustain it, whereas the food of false gods harm the body and soul and bring death. Therefore, the incredulous question “Why do you weigh out (spend) your money for that which is not bread…” is more than justified in the mouth of God’s prophet.
“Shimu shamoa Listen, hear, understand with diligence (pay careful attention) eilay to Me, ve’ichlu-tov and you eat what is good, vetit’anag and delight badeshen nafshechem your souls in fatness (rich food, fertility, blessing).”
The Hebrew “Shimu shamoa” translates as “Listen, listen carefully”. God demands Israel’s attention, indeed, He demands that all humanity pay attention to His Word. The inference is, “Stop listening to those who do not satisfy your hunger for truth…”
“Eat what is good…” In other words, “Stop eating the damaging food of false gods and start eating My Word.”
Yeshua challenged Israel (ethnic, religious) to see the manna of her desert wanderings as a figure for His body, life, spirituality, and to feed on Him through His sacrificial atoning death and resurrection. He identified Himself as the “the true bread that comes down from heaven”. His teaching, His life, His example, His offer of redemption, is all symbolised by the bread that comes from heaven. This is what the prophet Isaiah is referring to when He writes on HaShem’s instruction, “Eat what is good”. Elsewhere Yeshua says, “Why do you call me good, only God is good” (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19). He says this in order to reveal to the one who called Him good, that He is Imanu (with us) El (God). In other words, “You are right to call Me good, Only God is good”.
“Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘Out of heaven He gave them bread to eat.’” 32 Yeshua answered them, “Amen, amen I tell you, it isn’t Moses who has given you bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the One coming down from heaven and giving life to the world.” 34 So they said to Him, “Sir, give us this bread from now on!” 35 Yeshua said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty. 36 But I told you that you have seen Me, yet you do not believe. 37 Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and anyone coming to Me I will never reject. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do My own will but the will of the One who sent Me.” - John 6:31-38 (TLV)
“Delight your souls in fatness (rich food, fertility, blessing).” The modern reader could be confused by the use of the word “fatness”, after all, in our society an over indulgence in “fat” is frowned upon: it is a cause of obesity and its related health concerns. However, there are two things to consider: first, fat is not the problem, excessive consumption (the sin of gluttony) is. Second, the ancient Israeli diet consisted mainly of grains, vegetables, milk, the occasional meat or fish (usually on festive occasions or once a week at Shabbat dinner), and received the majority of its fat from olive oil with the obvious exception of the lamb and beef consumed on a less regular basis to modern western practice. To the ancient Jew “fat” meant abundance, blessing, fertility, true wealth, strength, security, satisfaction, and joy. This is what God is offering, only He is offering the spiritual equivalent to the temporal earthly metaphor. This is in fact a picture of the Olam Haba (World to come), where the righteous will “feast” with God and His King Messiah.
“On this mountain, Adonai-Tzva’ot
will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples--
a banquet of aged wine--
of rich food, of choice marrow, of aged wine well refined.” -Isaiah 25:6 (TLV)
“I will fill the soul of the kohanim with fatness
and My people will be satisfied with My goodness.”
It is a declaration of Adonai.” -Jeremiah 31:13 (14) (TLV)
“Then the angel tells me, ‘Write: How fortunate are those who have been invited to the wedding banquet of the Lamb!’ He also tells me, ‘These are the true words of God.’” -Revelation 19:9 (TLV)
“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” -Psalm 36:7-9 (ESV)
Isa 55:3 Hatu Incline (stretch out) azenechem your ear, ulechu and walk toward Me; Shimu hear, listen, understand utechiy nafshechem and your soul will live; ve’echretah and I will cut (make) lechem with you beriyt a covenant (cutting) olam everlasting, perpetual, chasdiy my love, loving actions, for David hane’emaniym are faithfulness, certain, steadfast, sure, supportive.
“Incline your ear and receive instruction of my law, obey my Word and your soul shall be quickened, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the mercies of David, which are sure.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
“Incline (stretch out) your ear, ulechu and walk toward Me; Shimu hear, listen, understand utechiy nafshechem and your soul will live…”
In order for Israel and indeed all humanity to receive the waters (Word of God, Yeshua) from the heavens and live (eternally), they must have ears to hear, listen, understand. From the Hebrew we could translate, “Walk your ears toward me with your ear canal tilted to receive what I have to say…” Only the willing, repentant, teachable person is able to receive the water from the heavens and live.
“‘And your soul shall live.’ That is, your soul shall live for ever after the death of the body, or you will receive new life through Messiah, when you will return to the Divine Law (Torah).” -Iben Ezra
“Ve’echretah and I will cut (make) lechem with you beriyt a covenant (cutting) olam everlasting, perpetual, chasdiy my love, loving actions, for David hane’emaniym are faithfulness, certain, steadfast, sure, supportive.”
This everlasting covenant is intrinsically connected to the line of David and is made complete in keeping with the promises God has made to David.
“So your house and your kingship will be secure forever before you; your throne will be established forever.” -2 Samuel 7:16 (TLV)
“And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.” Ezekiel 34:23 (ESV)
“I will maintain My love for him forever,
and My covenant with him will be firm.” -Psalm 89:29 (TLV)
“But they shall serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.” -Jeremiah 30:9 (ESV)
“It is also possible, that by David in this verse Messiah is meant, who will be of the family of David. As the prophet is sometimes called Israel for the same reason (49:3); and the meaning of ‘hane’emaniym chasdiy Daveed’ is in that case: for the kindness of Messiah is sure. This explaination is supported by the next verse.” -Iben Ezra
This covenant which is connected to the covenant of peace of Isaiah 54:10 and is clearly a reference to the work of the Servant Redeemer, the King Messiah Yeshua. The covenant concerning the mercies toward David cannot be a reference to David himself, who died centuries before this prophecy was first spoken, rather it refers to the Messiah Who is the greater son of David and the One through Whom God carries out His redemptive purposes for Israel and the nations.
It is also clear from the previous verses that this everlasting covenant is the fruit of the Word Who came like waters from the heavens to bring life to humanity and to all creation which had been held hostage to the drought caused by sin.
“And we proclaim to you Good News—the promise to the fathers has arrived! 33 For God has fulfilled this promise to the children—to us—by raising up Yeshua, as it is also written in the second psalm:
‘You are My Son.
Today I have become Your Father.’
34 “But since He raised Him up from the dead, never to return to decay, He has spoken in this way, ‘I will give you the holy and sure mercies of David.’ 35 Therefore He also says in another psalm, ‘You will not permit Your Holy One to see decay.’ 36 For after David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he went to sleep and was laid with his fathers and saw decay. 37 But the One whom God raised up did not see decay.
38 “Therefore, let it be known to you, brothers, that through this One is proclaimed to you the removal of sins, including all those from which you could not be set right by the Torah of Moses. 39 Through this One everyone who keeps trusting is made righteous.” -Acts 13:32-38 (TLV)
Isa 55:4 Hein Behold, Now, Pay attention, eid lumiym (from am tribe, people) He is a witness to the tribes (peoples), netatiyn I have given Him nagid as a ruler (leader) umetzaveih and commander leumiym for the tribes (peoples).
“He is leader of the tribes, I have given Him as a ruler and commander over the tribes.”
As Iben Ezra rightly notes, the nearest subject is David or rather, the Messiah as the greater son of David, for David, now dead cannot be the future ruler over the tribes. Thus, it is the Servant King Messiah Who is being referred to here.
The Jewish commentators Iben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melekh all interpret this verse as referring to the Messiah.
The use of the Hebrew “umiym” tribes is important. To the modern English reader the translation “peoples”, while technically correct, is none the less misleading. The better translation is “tribes”. Israel is a “goy” nation made up of “umiym” tribes (peoples). The modern English reader misunderstands the word “peoples” to refer to all the peoples of the earth, however, in this context it does not. The following verse affirms this by speaking of a “goy” nation that will run to the individual in the present verse who is a witness to the tribes of Israel and in fact is born of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical).
It is here that Isaiah joins the two images of the Servant into one. By comparing Isaiah 11:10 we see that the Servant (King Messiah) is first a sign to the amiym tribes of Israel and as a result becomes a sign to the goyim nations.
“And in that day there shall be a root of Yishay which shall stand for a nes miracle (sign) of amiym the tribes: toward Him the goyim nations shall seek: and His rest shall be glorious.” -Isaiah 11:10
When combining the message of these verses it is clear that by amyim (tribes, peoples) Israel as a corporate entity is meant, and when the term goy is used in the next verse it refers to a nation other than Israel.
Isa 55:5 Hein Behold, Now, Pay attention, goy a nation lo-teida not known to you tikra you will call, ve’goy and a nation lo-yedaucha you didn’t know eilecha in your direction yarutzu will run lema’an because of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) Eloheycha your God, ve’likdush Ysirael and of the Holy One of Israel, for He has glorified you.
This second “Hein” draws attention to a new related subject. These words are spoken to the individual of the former verse (The Servant King Messiah Yeshua), and to Israel, who through her greater son the King Messiah, has made it possible for those who would believe among the nations to enter God’s kingdom through the redemptive and vicarious sacrifice and resurrection of His Son the Messiah Yeshua.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-- 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” -John 10:14-16 (NIV)
Notice that it is “because of Hashem” that the “nation” made up of peoples (amiym) from among the nations (goyim) will come to Israel’s God. Thus, Israel is glorified because of the work of the Servant King Messiah, performed by her God, the Holy One of Israel.
This verse offers hope to those among the nations who receive Messiah while also warning those who refuse God’s continued purposes for the Jewish people.
“For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me. You made my enemies turn their backs to me, and those who hated me I destroyed. They cried for help, but there was none to save; they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them. I beat them fine as dust before the wind; I cast them out like the mire of the streets. You delivered me from strife with the people; you made me the head of the nations; people whom I had not known served me. As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me; foreigners came cringing to me. Foreigners lost heart and came trembling out of their fortresses. The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation—” Psalm 18:39-46 (ESV)
Isa 55:6 “Diroshu Seek with care, enquire of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) behimatzeo while He may be found, encountered, learned from; kera’uhu call upon Him bihyoto in His becoming (while He is) karov near;
Historically this warning relates to God’s presence manifest among the people of Israel and to the coming Babylonian exile and subsequent return. God will not allow death to continue on the earth indefinitely. Therefore, Israel has a limited time to seek and find Him, as do all who live on the earth.
“Seek ye the fear of the Lord whilst ye are alive, supplicate before His presence whilst ye remain.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.C.)
The Targum rightly understands this verse as referring to the time frame of a person’s life. In other words, a person may seek out the free gift of God’s redemptive action as long as that person lives in this sin affected world. There is no opportunity for salvation after death for, “It is appointed unto each human being to die once (in finality), and then the judgement.” (Heb. 9:27).
The Jewish commentator Kimchi compares the present verse with Eccl. 9:10:
“God is certainly everywhere at all times… but the meaning of this phrase is, while the decree is not yet resolved upon: in a similar way the phrase, while He is near is to be explained, namely, while He permits His glory to rest upon the Temple.” -Iben Ezra
We must remember that at the time of this prophecy Israel (Judah) was yet to be taken into Babylonian captivity.
Everyone, the Jew first and also the nations, must receive the saving work of the Messiah and walk in, learn from Him.
“For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:” -Psalm 95:7-8 (KJV)
Isaiah speaks of the “Acceptable year of our Lord”, and Luke quotes the same phrase from Isaiah 61:2 (Luke 4:19). That “Acceptable year” remains in time and space through the redemptive work of the Messiah and until the return of the Messiah. However, those who refuse God’s offer of acceptance and wilfully resist Him until the “Acceptable year” reaches its goal, will find themselves refusing Him on their way into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15).
Isa 55:7 Ya’azo rasa darco Let the wicked forsake his way, veiysh and the man aven of idolatrous machshevotav thoughts, plans, inventions; veyashov and return to Hashem (YHVH: Mercy), viyrachameihu and He will have compassion (love deeply, show mercy to) on him, ve’el-Eloheiynu and to our God, kiy-yarbeh lisloach for He will greatly pardon, forgive.
“Let the wicked forsake his way of wickedness, and the man of violence his thoughts, and let him return to the worship of the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and into the fear of our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
We note that the “wickedness” of humanity is related to the “idolatrous thoughts” of humanity. In fact, idolatry is the root of all sin. Yaakov the brother of Yeshua puts it this way:
“But each one is tempted when he is dragged away and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is full grown, it brings forth death.” -Yaakov (James) 1:14-15 (TLV)
“Return to HaShem (Mercy), and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will greatly pardon.” As is constantly the case, God opens His arms wide to receive the returning one. Yeshua’s mashal (parable) of the returning son is one of the best examples of How great the compassion of God is toward all who would humbly return to Him (Luke 15:11-32).
We can see that the “way” of the wicked and the “thoughts” of the wicked are intrinsically linked, distinct and inseparable. When we walk in God’s grace our actions are the fruit of thoughts that echo that grace, however, when we despise and spurn God’s love our actions are the fruit of our own fallen thoughts.
Isa 55:8 Kiy lo machshevotay For my thoughts, plans, inventions, are not machshevoteiychem your thoughts, plans, inventions; velo darcheiychem neither are your ways derachay My ways, neum declares Hashem (YHVH: Mercy).
This verse beautifully juxtaposes God’s thoughts and actions against the thoughts and actions of fallen (sin affected) humanity.
“The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” -Genesis 6:5 (NIV)
“The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
When the Hebrew text speaks of machashebet “thought, invention, purpose,” it is speaking of that which comes from the core being “lev” heart. The Hebrew lev (heart) is the point at which all other aspects of human existence converge. Therefore, “thought” in this context applies to the will and in particular to the sin affected will which in Hebrew is known as yetzer ha-ra (the inclination toward evil).
It is impossible for we as human beings to fully fathom the thoughts and actions of God except by the revelation of God’s Spirit and only to the extent which God allows us to understand Him from our point of view within time and space (sin affected). Thus, God has revealed Himself through His Word (D’var), both written (Scripture) and living (Messiah).
Having said this, the present verse is not only a statement of fact it is also an invitation to the sin affected human being to receive the thoughts and ways of God as far as they are available to each person through Messiah. This happens when we forsake our idolatrous thoughts and their related actions and instead turn to Mercy Himself in order to receive His Spirit, Who in turn through right thinking, births right action in us. One practical outworking of this is seen in the diligent, Holy Spirit filled study of His Word (Scripture).
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Messiah loved the church and gave Himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to Himself as a radiant community of faith, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” -Ephesians 5:25-27
“I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice—holy, acceptable to God—which is your spiritual service. 2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” -Romans 12:1-2 (TLV)
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Messiah Yeshua:” -Philippians 2:5
Isa 55:9 Kiy gavehu shamayim For as the heavens are higher (exalted) meiaretz than (from) the earth, kein gavehu derachay so are My ways higher (exalted) midarcheiychem than (from) your ways umachshevotay and My thoughts, plans, inventions machshevoteiychem than (from) your thoughts, plans, inventions.
“Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
8 They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do?
They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know?
9 Their measure is longer than the earth
and wider than the sea.” -Job 11:7-9 (NIV)
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.” -Psalm 103:11 (NASB)
One of the reasons God’s thoughts and plans are beyond human understanding is that His thoughts and actions are intrinsically connected to His lovingkindness, where His nature is selfless love, human nature exhibits selfish desire.
“God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent;
Has He said, and will He not do it?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” -Numbers 23:19 (NASB)
One of the reasons God’s ways are beyond human understanding is that He is unable to lie. We as human beings on the other hand are inclined to lie when it suits our purposes.
“Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,
Or as His counsellor has informed Him?
With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding?
And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge
And informed Him of the way of understanding?” -Isaiah 40:13-14 (NASB)
These rhetorical questions from earlier in the scroll of Isaiah illuminate the irony in humanity’s pretentious claims to deity. At the heart of the matter we find that it is the nature of God that sets Him apart in every way. Therefore, His thoughts, inventions, purposes, and His actions, paths, and ways are higher. He offers to impart His nature to us through His Messiah and by His Spirit but first we must acknowledge that His thoughts and ways are beyond our understanding.
The Nature of God
1. Self-Existing (uncreated, eternal)
2. Self-sufficient (Reliant on nothing)
3. Spirit (Unseen)
4. Love (God defines love)
5. Immutable (unchanging)
6. Omniscient (All knowing)
7. Omnipotent (All powerful)
8. Omnipresent (All present)
9. Truth (He cannot lie)
10. Sovereign (He Rules over all things)
11. Holy (There is none like Him)
In Messiah we are filled with His Spirit and reflect His nature but devoid of Messiah human beings are unable to truly comprehend or reflect His nature. Of course aspects of His nature are seen even in fallen humanity because of the common grace that allows us to seek Him in our sinful state. However, this common grace has a set limit, following which only those who have received God’s saving grace will enjoy an eternity of dwelling within the manifest presence of His good nature.
Isa 55:10 “Kiy ka’asher yeireid For as the coming down of hageshem the rain vehasheleg and the snow min-hashamayim from the heavens ve’shamah and there lo yashuv do not return kiy until they hirvah satiate, satisfy the thirst of et-haaretz the earth (land), veholiydah and it brings forth vehitzmiychah and sprouts, venatan and gives zera seed lazoreia to the sower velechem and bread laocheil to the eater,
“He sends forth His word and melts them;
He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow.
19 He declares His words to Jacob,
His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any nation;
And as for His ordinances, they have not known them.
Praise the Lord!” - Psalm 147:18-20 (NASB)
In beautiful poetic form the psalmist connects the flowing waters to the words and instructions of God to Jacob (Israel). The Word of the Lord being Messiah Yeshua (John 1), Who has come from the heavens:
“No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. 14 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” -John 3:13-15 (NASB)
Messiah, like the waters of the heavens, comes and does not return (precipitation) until He has accomplished His purpose of satisfying the spiritual thirst of those who live on earth and seeding in them the fruit of redemption. Through His death and resurrection He offers water (The Holy Spirit) to the thirsty soil of the human soul.
“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Yeshua stood up and cried out loudly, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture says, ‘out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now He said this about the Ruach, whom those who trusted in Him were going to receive; for the Ruach was not yet given, since Yeshua was not yet glorified.” -John 7:37-39 (TLV)
A careful reading of John 4:5-38 shows a correlation between the words of Isaiah 55 and the complete dialogue Yeshua engaged in with the Samaritan woman and the disciples and people of the village of Sychar (Shechem).
“Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” -Hosea 6:3 (ESV)
Isa 55:11 Kein yihyeh So will it come to pass that Devariy My Word asher yeitzei which goes out mipiy from My mouth; lo-yashuv will not return eiliy to Me reiykam void, empty, vainly, kiy for im-asah rather, it will accomplish, make, fashion (asah, from something) that which chafatztiy I delight in, desire, am pleased with, take pleasure in, vehitzliyach and will rush, advance, prosper, succeed in asher that for which shelachtiyv I sent it.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword—piercing right through to a separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” -Hebrews 4:12 (TLV)
In one sense the word is that of the Torah, prophets and writings, and as Yeshua says “Amen, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or serif shall ever pass away from the Torah until all things come to pass.” (Matthew 5:18) Ultimately however, Messiah is the Word that goes out from the mouth of God (John 1:11-18). He comes to water the spiritual desert of Israel’s soul, and in turn the spiritual thirst of humanity. Due to the sinful practices of Israel God would withdraw His Word from her “for a brief moment”.
“Behold, days are coming”
—declares my Lord Adonai--
“when I will send a famine on the land
—not a famine of bread
nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of Adonai.” -Amos 8:11 (TLV)
However, as we came to understand from the previous chapter, He will not leave her forsaken:
“For a brief moment I deserted you,
but I will regather you with great compassion.” -Isaiah 54:7 (TLV)
Thus, the living Word of God Yeshua the King Messiah will accomplish, make, fashion that which God delights in, desires, and is pleased with, and takes pleasure in, that is the redemption of the repentant: He will rush, advance, prosper, succeed in that for which God sent Him. He will not return to God void but will return having seeded a harvest of everlasting fruit.
In hindsight we see that this is exactly what Yeshua has done and like the precipitating rains of the heavens He has returned to the heavens and has rained down the Spirit of the Father and the Son on all who have received Him.
Isa 55:12 “Kiy vesimchah For in joy (gladness) tetzeiu you will go out uveshalom and in peace, wholeness, well-being tuvalun be led forth; hehariym the mountains vehagevaot and the hills yiftzechu will break out, burst forth lifneiychem before your faces rinah in a shrill ringing cry, vechol-atzeiy and all the trees hasadeih of the field yimchau-chaf will clap their hands.
First this is a description of Israel’s return from exile in Babylon (Ezra 1:3), and further still, from every exile subsequent to that. Second, it is a description of the spread of the Gospel of the Messiah from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth and then back to Jerusalem to await His return.
The exultant creation described here shows the prophet’s view of an intrinsic connection between the restoration of Israel and humanity, and the restoration of the created order.
“For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” -Romans 8:19-21 (TLV)
Isa 55:13 Tachat Instead of hana’atzitz the thorn-bush ya’aleh verush a cypress will come up; vetachat and instead of hasirpad the brier (desert nettle) ya’aleh hadas the myrtle will come up; vehayah and it will come to pass la’YHVH to HaShem (Mercy), leshem for a name leot for a miraculous sign olam everlasting lo never yikareit cut off.”
“Instead of the wicked the righteous shall rise up, and instead of sinners shall rise up those that fear sin: and it shall be before the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign, that shall not cease.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
The Targum rightly understands the thorn-bush and brier to represent the wicked and sinners, and the cypress and myrtle to represent the righteous and those who fear God.
The plants chosen to reflect the incredible transformation that will take place in the return of Israel both to the land and to the Lord through Messiah, have an important symbolic meaning.
The thorn-bush and the brier are symbols of satanic barbs (2 Corinthians 12:6-8), death, drought, and fruitlessness. They are good only for throwing on the fire. This brings to mind the warning spoken to Israel by Yochanan the Immerser:
“The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” -Matthew 3:10 (NIV)
Likewise Yeshua warned:
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” -Matthew 7:15-20 (NIV)
The good news is that in the day of Israel’s corporate spiritual redemption (Romans 11:25), cypress and myrtle will be found in place of thorn-bushes and briers. This is a picture of spiritual transformation.
In ancient Israel the cypress (being an evergreen) represented healing, uprightness, eternal life. It is a long living tree that is able to endure harsh climates and poor soil. Biblically trees are used as symbols of kingdoms and in particular the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 17:22-24) sees David’s Messianic dynasty symbolised in a cedar tree that the nations (birds) will shelter in. We see this same imagery used in Yeshua’s mashal (parable) where He makes a drash on Ezekiel’s prophecy concerning the kingdom of God (Mark 4:30-32). There is an obvious correlation to the present passage.
The myrtle is a slow growing fragrant tree with a beautiful white blossom. It is a deciduous shrub, always green (though not an evergreen), and has a strong root system. Even when it is cut to a stump, it’s roots cause it to sprout again. There are many parallels to be drawn with the journey of Israel (ethnic, religious) and the walk of a Messiah follower. Israel in her redeemed and transformed state will be always green, fragrant with the sweet salvation of the Gospel, rooted deeply on the mountain of the Lord and flowering with the majesty of God.
This portion of Isaiah leaves us with a hopeful picture of the future restored remnant of Israel and those nations who will come to her in Messiah to be joined with her in the worship of Hashem the God of Israel. Just as the many miracles performed by God on Israel’s behalf became signs to the nations, so too this great miracle of redemption and restoration will be a sign. One that will never be cut off. This of course is an allusion to the redemptive act of Messiah and the resulting spiritual transformation of Israel (ethnic, religious) in the last days following the fullness of the nations (Romans 11:25).
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
My warning to Gentile Christians who misappropriate Scripture spoken specifically to the Jewish people is this, do not steal from your older brother those things which God has given directly to him (ethnic, religious Israel), rather be satisfied with that which God has given you and enjoy the benefits of being under the promises given to your older brother, remembering that as soon as you attempt to come out from under those promises in order to usurp him (ethnic, religious Israel), you are no longer under the shadow of those promises, and have therefore, made yourselves subject to retribution. HaShem disciplines the ones He loves. Be discerning in your use of Scripture.
Having illuminated the character of the Servant-Redeemer in Isaiah 53, the prophet now resumes his message concerning the redemption of the people of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical). The present chapter picks up where 52:12 left off, beginning with a song of rejoicing at the restoration of Zion in the favour and actionable love of God, Who has maintained His unbroken love for her throughout her wayward journey of discipline.
We should remember that these words were spoken to Israel prior to her exile in Babylon and refer to that yet future time when she will be returned to the Land of Israel following her captivity. In turn, these are prophetic words that reach beyond Israel’s ancient history and into the future in order that they might be truly complete in the redemption of Israel through Messiah Yeshua.
We are witness to days when weapons are being formed against Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical), in the land and in the diaspora. These weapons are manifest in many forms, arms, media, political rhetoric, ideologies, spiritual theologies and many more. Worse still, some of these weapons are the fruit of so called “Christian” ministries, NGOs and members of governments and church councils (WCC, EAPPI). It is timely therefore, that we warn of the fate awaiting those who form weapons against God’s chosen ethnic people the Jews, Israel.
Isa 54:1 “Raniy Overcome, cry out, shout for joy, akarah barren one, who did not yaladah bear, give birth (a breaking forth from the womb); pitzchiy break forth, break out rinah into a ringing cry ve’tzahaliy and a shrill cry, you who have not chalah, travailed in labour! Kiy rabiym For many are beneiy-shomeimah the children of the desolate, devastated, stunned, deflowered a.mibeneiy as opposed to the children ve’ulah of those under the rule of husbands (baaliym) alt. a. will be more than the children of her who is married,” says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
“Sing praise, O Jerusalem, which was as a barren woman that bears not;'' -Targum Yonatan (2 Century CE)
Both the Targum and the commentator Iben Ezra agree that the remnant of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical) are being referred to here.
To be barren in ancient Jewish culture was a thing of great shame. The bearing of children and in particular male heirs who would continue the family name, was at the forefront of ancient cultural norms. Thus, the ancient Hebrew reader of Isaiah is significantly impacted by this figure of the barren woman and the resulting restoration of her womb and the fruit that comes forth from her. This is perhaps the ultimate illustration of true prosperity as understood by the ancient Jewish mind.
As a result of her sin and in the discipline of her captivity Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical) was like a rejected wife. Though, as I made clear in my commentary on Isaiah 50, she had not been utterly divorced (re: Judah has never been given a certificate [Get] of divorcement).
Therefore, the returning exiles are pictured here as the restored barren woman who now has children more numerous than the woman (Israel prior to exile living in the land) who had been married (albeit under false husbands, the Ba’aliym).
In other words, disobedient Israel had fathered children while worshipping false gods in the land and as a result had been sent into captivity where she became barren, physically, emotionally, spiritually. However, her return to God, her true Ba’al (Husband), will mean that she bears more children, physically, spiritually, and fills the promised land given to her forebears by God’s everlasting covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In the end, due to God’s mercy, she will become greater in number than she was prior to her exile (Isa.49:19-20). This is unheard of. We have seen it time and again throughout Israel’s history of exile and return. We witness it today as the population numbers of Jews grow toward 14,700,000 after being reduced to 9,500,500 following the pogroms and Shoah (holocaust) of the early 20th century CE.
“No longer will you be termed ‘Forsaken’,
no longer your land termed ‘Desolate’.
Instead you will be called, ‘My Delight is in Her’
and your land, ‘Married’.
For Adonai delights in you,
and your land will be married.” -Isaiah 62:4 (TLV)
In his letter to the Galatian believers (Gal. 4:27) Rav Shaul (Paul the Apostle) explains the present text of Isaiah as an allegory for the figurative son bound by the consequences of sin according to the Torah (Ishmael) and the figurative son set free from sin according to the Spirit of God (Isaac). Thus, the Rav shaul retrospectively shows that it is redeemed Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical) that is being referred to by the prophet Isaiah as being once barren (in sin) and now fruitful (in right action) through the redemptive work of the Servant-Redeemer of the previous chapter.
The figure of the barren woman is used throughout Scripture (Genesis.11:30; 16:1-2; 25:21; 29:31; Judges 13:2; 1 Sam 1:1-5; Luke 1:7) and is ultimately referring to Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah, the matriarchs of Israel (Gen.11:30; 16:1-2; 25:21; 29:31; ). Therefore, it’s fitting that it be used here in reference to collective Israel (ethnic, religious) and her restoration.
Jewish commentators understand this prophecy to refer to our (Jews) deliverance from our present condition by the Messiah; and of the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and the prosperity of it (Tishbi, p. 227; Lexic. Talmud. col. 996, 2229). While this understanding sees a physical restoration (Which is of course part of what has happened and will be made complete in the future), it is not opposed to a spiritual restoration (Which is of course necessary). Those commentators who demand one interpretation over the other offer nothing more than a false choice that seeks to place limits on the redemptive work of God. Like children we must accept the truth that both outcomes are true, cohesive and made manifest in the eternal present according to God’s will.
Isa 54:2 “Harchiyviy Enlarge, widen, grow mekom a place oholeich of your tent, viyriyot and let the curtains mishkenotayich of your dwellings (from mishkan) be yatu stretched out, extended; lo-tachshochiy do not hold back; lengthen your cords and chazekiy strengthen your stakes.
Once again the enlargement of Israel’s Tent (worship centre), the stretching out of her dwellings, and the securing of her cords by staking them in the land, is both literal and figurative, physical and spiritual. It applies to exiled Israel’s (ethnic, religious) final return to the land of Israel and at the same time to the coming of the eternal Jerusalem out of the heavens. The physical restoration and the spiritual restoration will converge at the second coming of the King Messiah.
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when the city shall be rebuilt for the LORD from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. And the measuring line shall go out farther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah. The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the LORD. It shall not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.” -Jeremiah 31:38-40 (ESV)
The Hebrew “mekom” place, denotes Ha-Makom (The Place), a reference to the Temple Mount. Likewise, the Hebrew “mishkenot” dwellings, denotes Ha-Mishkan (The Dwelling, The Tent of Meeting). Therefore, by way of remez we see an allusion to the connection between the Holy Mountain and the faith of the individual, the family, and collective Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical) within their own dwellings.
The drash that is born from this is one that encourages the practice of being constantly aware that wherever we are we are in the presence of God. Our tents (families, bodies) are, through the Servant King Messiah, an extension of the Tent (Mishkan) of meeting. Thus, we are to strengthen our diligent actions in the practice of worshipping God in spirit and in truth. The enlargement and extension, the strengthening and securing of our tents as an extension of God’s tent, will result in the Gospel of redemption possessing the nations for their good.
“Behold Zion, the city of our appointed feasts! Your eyes will see Jerusalem, an untroubled habitation, an immovable tent, whose stakes will never be plucked up, nor will any of its cords be broken.” -Isaiah 33:20 (ESV)
Isa 54:3 For yamiyn by the right hand usemol and to the left side tifrotziy you will break through, burst over, breach, abroad, ve’zar’eich and your offspring goyim yiyrash will possess, inherit the nations and ve’ariym and the cities (full of terror) neshamot made desolate, yoshiyvu they will inhabit, dwell in.
This is not a spreading out that results from captivity and diaspora, rather this is a spreading out of the kingdom of God from Israel (both the land and the people) to the nations of the world. This is a precursor to the Olam Haba (World to Come), and of the continued ministry of Israel through the Messiah. The possession of the nations is for the benefit of the nations, that they might receive God’s redemptive offer through the King (Servant) Messiah Yeshua.
“On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.” -Genesis 15:18-21 (ESV)
“For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.” -Psalm 37:9-11 (ESV)
“Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I might be glorified.” -Isaiah 60:21 (ESV)
“I will bring forth offspring from Jacob, and from Judah possessors of my mountains; my chosen shall possess it, and my servants shall dwell there.” -Isaiah 65:9 (ESV)
The phrase “break through…” is a poetic allusion to the breaking forth of children (Gen.38:29; Hosea.13:13) from the fruitful womb of the restored people of Israel represented by the figure of the once barren woman in verse 1. Thus, the spiritual fruit that gave birth to the physical fruit, will in turn bring spiritual rebirth to Israel (ethnic, religious) and from Israel life will proceed to the nations.
Isa 54:4 “Al-tiyriy No Fear, kiy because you will not teivoshiy be put to shame; ve’lo tikalmiy and no humiliation, confusion, reproach, kiy because you will not be disgraced; for voshet the shame of your youth you will forget, and the scorn of your widowhood you will not remember od perpetually, going round, continually.
“Al-tiyriy No Fear, kiy because you will not teivoshiy be put to shame…” This will be a physical, emotional, mental reality for the returned and restored captives of Israel. Furthermore, it is a profound spiritual truth. The Shaliach (Sent one) Yochanan (John) writes:
“This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Yeshua. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” -1 John 4:17-19
The Hebrew text of Isaiah 54:4 does not say “Fear not” rather it says, “No fear”. This is a statement of fact and not a commandment. There is no fear because, “you will not be put to shame.” This is the counterpoint to those who will be ashamed at the judgement for lack of repentance and because they have no covering for their sin. Therefore, the present verse of Isaiah (while also a physical historical reality) is a word to the elect remnant of repentant Israel (ethnic, religious). It is an illumination of what the Servant King Messiah has birthed among them.
They will have no fear because they have been redeemed, forgiven, covered, restored in Him, and will not be put to shame, nor confused or disgraced as a result of sin. “The shame of your youth you will forget…” The past sins of the nation of Israel, both individual and corporate will be forgotten both by God and by Israel because of the saving vicarious sacrificial death and the resurrection of the Servant King Messiah (referred to in the previous chapter).
“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.’” -Isaiah 28:16 (NIV)
“The shame of your youth” is probably a reference to Israel’s Egyptian bondage, and “the scorn of your widowhood” to her exile in Babylon.
“I warned you when you felt secure,
but you said, ‘I will not listen!’
This has been your way from your youth;
you have not obeyed me.” -Jeremiah 22:21 (NIV)
“Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, Lord, are good.” -Psalm 25:7 (NIV)
“Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem:
“This is what the Lord says:
“‘I remember the devotion of your youth,
how as a bride you loved me
and followed me through the wilderness,
through a land not sown.” -Jeremiah 2:2 (NIV)
Isa 54:5 Kiy For vo’alayich your Husband (from Ba’al) osayich (from asah fashion from something) is your Maker, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tze’vaot Who goes warring (of hosts) shemo is His name; ve’goaleich and your (Kinsmen) Redeemer Kedush Yisrael the Holy One of Israel, Eloheiy the God chol-ha’aretz of the whole earth (land) yikarei He is called.
There is a depth of poetic irony in the counter distinctions of this verse that can be easily lost to those who either don’t know Israel’s history of prostitution to false husbands (Ba’aliym) or are unaware of the Hebrew idioms present. The prophet Hosea, who began his ministry prior to Isaiah, and for a short time, a contemporary of Isaiah, writes:
“There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
‘In that day,’ declares the Lord,
“you will call me ‘Iyshiy my man (Husband)’;
you will no longer call me ‘Ba’aliy my master (Husband).’
I will remove the names of the ha-ba’aliym (Husbands, masters, false gods) from her lips;
no longer will their names be invoked.” -Hosea 2:15-17
“Your Ba’al Husband (Master) is your Maker” HaShem makes clear to Israel that He is her true Husband (Ba’al, Master) as opposed to the false Husbands (Ba’aliym) she has been worshipping. HaShem alone is Israel’s Maker. The Hebrew here is “osayich” (from asah fashion from something). Thus, Israel the ethnic people through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, were fashioned from humanity (Bara, created from nothing).
God draws Israel’s attention to His character as it relates to her transformation. Ancient Israel, like so many modern Christians, had submitted her faith to the popular worldview of her time rather than allowing her faith to transform her and the world around her. In the present verse HaShem identifies Himself to Israel in the following ways:
Following these Names, the Hebrew text says, “yikarei” He is proclaimed! Because He has placed His name on Israel (ethnic, religious), His reputation is both soiled and honoured in her. Thus, discipline always begins with her. She must be made aware of Who He is and in repentance receive His love for her, so that all humanity might behold the One true God YHVH.
“Then I will purify the lips of the peoples,
that all of them may call on the name of the Lord
and serve him shoulder to shoulder.” -Zephaniah 3:9 (NIV)
Isa 54:6 Kiy-cheishah For a woman (wife) azuvah forsaken, desolate va’atzuvat and grieved, in pain, ruach of spirit: HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has called you, ve’eishet and like a wife ne’uriym of youth when she is timaeis rejected, cast off, amar says Elohayich your God.
The imagery here is that of a woman who has been left to fend for herself in a hostile climate. In Israel’s case God had left her in this situation as a result of her sin and by means of discipline. This is why the text refers to the woman being “grieved of spirit”. This grief is that of a realisation of the sinful nature as a result of the grief of the flesh (earthly life). HaShem has identified Israel this way. In other words, He sees her grief and the potential of her repentant heart. Israel is also seen as a woman cast off in youth who did not please her husband, however, as I mentioned in the introduction to this chapter in reference to my commentary on Isaiah 50, Israel had not been utterly divorced (re: Judah has never been given a certificate [Get] of divorcement) [see my commentary on Isaiah 50:1].
“I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.” -Hosea 2:19
God’s betrothal to Israel (ethnic, religious) is an everlasting one that is maintained by His faithfulness and not subject to Israel’s failures.
“For as a woman forsaken, and afflicted in spirit, the Shekinah, the Lord, met thee, like a woman of youth which was forsaken, says thy God.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
It is interesting to note that the 2nd Century Targum sees the “Shekinah” (A Talmudic Hebrew word denoting the feminine manifest presence of God) as being present with Israel in her forsaken state. This fits the spirit of the text which clearly shows that even in her seeming abandonment, God was present, observing and guiding Israel toward redemption and restoration.
Isa 54:7 Be’rega katan In a brief (small) moment (wait a moment) azavtich I forsook you, uverachamiym gedoliym but with great compassion (like that of a mother’s womb) akabetzeich I will gather you.
“Be’rega katan In a brief (small) moment (wait a moment) azavtich I forsook you…” What seemed to Israel to be a long period of suffering is none the less called “small, brief” by HaShem, Who in the eternal view of redemption considers the 70 year time frame of Israel’s Babylonian exile to be nothing more than a moment. In light of the restoration of Israel and the life awaiting those restored ones in the Olam Haba (World to Come), the exile is truly brief. In truth God was present during Israel’s exile and the word “forsook” is an expression that conveys the perspective of the captive Israelites.
“With great compassion (like that of a mother’s womb) I will gather you.” The juxtaposition of the Hebrew is delightful. The katan (small) moment of forsaking is compensated for by gedoliym (greatness, expanses) of compassion. The compensation is not equitable to the suffering of discipline, for HaShem “does not repay us as our sins deserve” (Psalm 103:10). How is this possible in light of His justice? It is possible because He has paid the price that is owed for our sins through His Son our Servant King Messiah. Thus, though we suffer the consequences of our sin for a short (katan) time, we who in repentance have received Him will none the less be gathered in great (gedoliym) compassion.
In Yeshua, this great compassion is continually offered to all who would believe, first and always for the Jew and also always for the nations.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” -Matthew 23:37 (TLV)
Isa 54:8 Beshetzef In a flood ketzef of anger histartiy panay I concealed My face rega for a moment (wait a moment) mimeich from you, u’ve’chesed but in loving kindness, faithfulness, olam everlasting richamtiych I will have compassion, mercy on you,” says goaleich your (Kinsmen) Redeemer HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
“For a little moment I removed the presence of my Shekinah, yea, for a short time from thee, but with everlasting kindness, which shall not cease, will I have mercy on thee, says the Lord thy Redeemer.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The Targum alludes to the removal not of God’s presence but rather of His manifest presence (Shekinah). Thus, all things exist in God and He manifests Himself within time and space in order that we might come to realise what this truly means.
We note that the Hebrew speaks of a flood of anger. This is because there is a poetic comparison being made with the flood of Noah mentioned in the following verse.
“I concealed My face for a moment (wait a moment) from you” God’s face is ever present but our ability to perceive His countenance is limited by our sin. Thus, we are reliant on His loving kindness everlasting compassion and mercy in order to behold Him in His glory. And this is made possible only because He acts as our Redeemer, giving of Himself in the manifest form of His Son the King Messiah. There is a sense in which God is speaking to us in our captivity and saying, “Wait a moment, I’m coming” while at the same time being present, even closer than breathing (Deut.30:14).
Once again the use of Hebrew conveys the immenseness of God’s Mercy and compassion when compared to our temporary (seeming) isolation as a result of our sin. He is angry for rega (a moment), but as a result of His loving action (chesed) He affords us olam (everlasting) compassion, faithfulness, wellbeing. All because He is our Redeemer (As Messiah, our kinsman) Mercy (YHVH) Himself.
In anger God allowed Israel’s temporary disciplining. However, because His love and mercy precede His judgement, and because He has placed His Name on the people of Israel, His compassion will bring about the promised Messianic reign. The repentant remnant of Israel once given into the hands of the nations, will one day rule over all the nations under the greater son of David, the King Messiah Yeshua.
“Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.” -Daniel 7:27 (NIV)
“The Lord will have compassion on Jacob;
once again he will choose Israel
and will settle them in their own land.
Foreigners will join them
and unite with the descendants of Jacob.” -Isaiah 14:1 (NIV)
Isa 54:9 “Kiy For meiy the waters Noach (rest) of Noah zot so is this liy to Me: asher which nishbatiy as I have sworn me’avor no more going over the meiy-Noach waters of Noah od perpetually, continually al -haaretz on the earth (land), Ken yes, of course true, so nishbatiy I have sworn miketzof that I will not be angry allayich with (on) you, umigeor-bach and rebuke you.
The waters of Noah (the flood) are here compared to the flood of God’s anger against rebellious Israel in the previous verse. Put simply, “In the same way that I have promised to never flood the earth again, I also affirm that upon your repentant return I will never withdraw from you in anger again.” This is an allusion to the final redeemed state of the remnant of Israel who accept the Servant King Messiah and come under the atonement of His vicarious sacrifice. We note that in reference to the removal of anger the Hebrew says “od” perpetual, going round forever.
The Targum Yonatan further illuminates the means for the removal of God’s anger from Israel (ethnic, religious) by using the figure for Messiah from John 1, “Word” D’var (The Word), Messiah Himself.
“This shall be before me as the days of Noah, when I swore by my Word, that the waters of the deluge, which were in the days of Noah, shall no more pass over the earth; thus I swear by my Word, that my anger shall not be hurled upon thee, neither will I reprove thee.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The Babylonian Talmud interprets Isaiah 54:9 as referring to the times of the Messiah (Talmud. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 99. 1.). Therefore, it is clear that this verse refers to that time following the fullness of the nation’s when all the remnant of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical) will be saved (Romans 11:25).
Isa 54:10 For hehariym the mountains yamushu may depart (be removed) u’hagevaot and the hills temutenah be shaken (overturned), ve’chasdiy and my loving kindness, steadfast love, faithfulness will mei’iteich lo-yamush not depart from you, u’veriyt and the covenant (cutting) shelomiy of My peace (wholeness, wellbeing, security) will lo tamut not be shaken, overturned, removed,” says merachameich the One Who outworks mercy, has compassion on you, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
The opening phrase is an allusion to the removal of the sin affected created order and the restoration of all things.
“The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.” -Revelation 6:14 (ESV)
HaShem assures Israel’s remnant that even at the passing away of the known world His love and faithfulness will remain as it always has. Included in this eternal promise is the covenant that brings Israel everlasting peace, wholeness, wellbeing. This is the covenant made in the blood of the Servant King Messiah (as explained in the previous chapter) bears the fruit of eternal peace.
“Covenant of My Peace” finds its origin in the text of the Torah and is given to Phinehas, who is a type for the Messiah.
“Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy. Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace, and it shall be to him and to his descendants after him the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel.’” -Numbers 25:11-13 (ESV)
Isa 54:11 “Aniyah afflicted one, so’arah storm-tossed and lo nachamah not comforted, hineih behold, now, pay attention, anochiy I marbiytz will lay bapuch antimony (A lustrous sparkling grey metalloid) avanayich as your stones vi’sadtiych and your foundations basapiyriym in sapphires.
Iben Ezra suggests that the “afflicted storm tossed one” refers to Jerusalem. This is consistent with the remainder of the verse which clearly talks about a future manifestation of Jerusalem reconstructed with precious stones. This future Jerusalem is described in the Revelation of Yeshua to Yochanan (John):
“The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald,” -Revelation 21:19 (ESV)
The Hebrew “Hineih” calls the reader to attention. In response to the afflicted one who is devoid of comfort, Hashem speaks of walls (security) made of precious immovable stones. This is both literal and figurative. The Jerusalem promised to redeemed Israel will offer eternal protection in the presence of God Himself made manifest on the new earth at the end of the age.
Isa 54:12 Ve’samtiy And I will make (appoint) kadchod agates (a translucent variety of microcrystalline quartz) shimshotayich your windows, pinnacles (sun reflecting objects), u’shearayich and your gates leavneiy ekdach of fiery glowing stones, ve’col-gevuleich and all your borders, territory leavneiy of stones cheifetz that are precious, delightful, longed for, desirable.
The ramparts of the future Jerusalem will reflect the light of God and shine as a beacon to the nations. The gates of the future Jerusalem will be fiery, symbolising the judgement through which all will enter. That fire symbolising that which warms the redeemed and destroys the wicked.
The New Jerusalem of Revelation is described as follows:
“18 The material of the wall was jasper (red); and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper (purple: Gad); the second, sapphire (blue: Simeon); the third, Carnelian (translucent multi-coloured: Reuben); the fourth, emerald (deep green: Zebulun); 20 the fifth, sardonyx (red laced black: Issachar); the sixth, sardius (red: Judah); the seventh, chrysolite (yellow: Dan); the eighth, beryl (light green multi-coloured: Asher); the ninth, topaz (greyish blue: Naphtali); the tenth, chrysoprase (greenish yellow: Ephraim); the eleventh, jacinth (deep blue: Manasseh); the twelfth, amethyst (violet: Benjamin). 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. 22 I saw no Sanctuary in it, for HaShem (Merciful) God (Judge) the Almighty (Shaddai) and the Lamb are its Temple.” -Revelation 21:18-22
Each of the jewels listed here represent the jewels embedded on the High Priests breastplate. They each represent a tribe of Israel but are listed in an unusual way.
The traditional birth order of the tribes of Israel is:
Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Ephraim and Manasseh.
The order of the tribes as they appear on the priestly breastplate is:
Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Reuben, Simeon, Gad, Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, Dan, Asher, Naphtali.
We’re told that the foundation stones have the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb on them. In other words the foundations of the apostolic ministry, the tribes of Israel, have the apostles’ names written on them in the same way that the messengers of the twelve gates have the names of the twelve tribes written on them.
The purpose of these patterns is to illuminate the meaning of God’s dwelling with humanity based on the premise that He gave a pattern of foreshadowing in the encampment of Israel during her desert wandering.
Shaliyachim (Apostles) Shevetiym (Tribes)
1.) Simon Peter (Shimon Kefa) HE HAS HEARD/ ROCK Reuben BEHOLD A SON
2.) Andrew MANLY Simeon HEARS AND OBEYS
3.) James (Yaakov Ben-Zavdai) FOLLOWER Judah PRAISE
4.) John (Yochanan) G-D IS GRACIOUS Issachar REWARD
5.) Philip FRIEND Zebulun DWELL, HONOUR, GIFT
6.) Bartholomew (Bar-Talmai) COVENANT SON OF FURROW Benjamin SON OF MY RIGHT HAND
7.) Thomas (T’oma) TWIN Dan JUDGE
8.) Matthew (Levi) JOINED Naphtali WRESTLE
9.) James (Yaakov Bar-Halfai) FOLLOWER Gad PROVIDENCE
10.) Thaddaeus (Taddai) COURAGEOUS HEART Asher HAPPY
11.) Simon the Zealot (Shimon) HE HAS HEARD Ephraim FRUITFULL
12.) Paul INQUIRED OF G-D Manasseh FORGET
(Shaul [Paul] replaces Judas Iscariot by heavenly edict)
So why are the jewels representing the tribes listed contrary to the birth order? The answer is in the connection between the priesthood (breastplate), the encampment (tribes/jewels) and the Mishkan, dwelling of God with His people (Rev. 21:3).
The order of the jewels corresponds to the order of the tribes as per their encampment around the Mishkan (Tent of meeting) in the desert, beginning with Gad at the south west corner of the camp, followed by the remaining tribes in an anti-clockwise direction, circling the tent of meeting and ending with Benjamin alongside Gad on the opposite side of the south west corner.
All of this is a beautiful and elaborate way of connecting God’s temporal dwelling with Israel in the desert to His eternal dwelling (New Jerusalem, new heavens and new earth) with humanity in the Olam Haba (world to come). The names of the apostles combine with the tribes of Israel to unite the people of G-d in an eternal priesthood born of the redemptive work of G-d through His Son, our Messiah Yeshua.
The Rabbis agree with Yochanan’s vision of a New Jerusalem with gates made from pearls:
“The Holy One, Blessed is He, will in the Olam Haba (World to come), bring precious stones and pearls which are 30 cubits by 30 cubits and will cut out from them openings which are 10 cubits by 20 cubits, and will set them up in the gates of Jerusalem.” –Baba Bathra 75a
The transparent gold/glass streets emphasise the flawless state of the city.
The reason for there being no Sanctuary (holy place) in the city is that the city itself is the Holy of Holies (cube, foreshadowed by the Holy of Holies of Solomon’s temple). G-d Himself and the Lamb are its temple, and the redeemed are the bricks of the temple:
“Don’t you realize that all of you together are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God lives in you (both corporately and individually)?” –1 Corinthians 3:16
The trifold title of G-d, “HaShem (Merciful) G-d (Judge) the Almighty (Shaddai)” emphasizes His primary attributes: He is merciful, just and all powerful.
Isa 54:13 Vechol-banayich And all your children limudeiy will be taught by HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), ve’rav and great will be shalom the peace, wholeness, wellbeing of banayich your children.
“And no longer shall each one teach his neighbour and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” -Jeremiah 31:34 (ESV)
This speaks of a time when God will make Himself the personal teacher of everyone who receives Him. This is made possible through the Servant King Messiah. Redeemed Israel will be taught by God through His Messiah and through the Spirit. The result will be everlasting peace, wholeness and well-being.
A midrash applies this verse to the times of the Messiah, when all Israel will learn the Torah directly from the Lord (Midrash Tillim, apud Yalkut in Psal. xxi. 1).
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me.” -John 6:43-45 (NIV)
Isa 54:14 Bitz’dakah In righteousness (right action) tikonaniy you shall be established, made firm; rachakiy you shall be far meioshek from oppression, because you will lo tiyraiy not fear; u’mimechitah and from terror, destruction, ruin, for it will lo tikrav eilayich not come near you.
Without the righteousness of God Israel could never remain firmly established; not in the land, not in faith, not in posterity. The righteousness spoken of here is not the righteousness of Israel’s faithful but the righteousness of God, purchased for Israel by the faithful Servant King Messiah Who is born of her in the flesh and of God in the Spirit. Thus, the righteousness that is the fruit of Messiah’s vicarious sacrifice is the righteousness that will perpetually establish redeemed and restored Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical).
“The Lord has taken away your punishment,
he has turned back your enemy.
The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you;
never again will you fear any harm.” -Zephaniah 3:15 (NIV)
“Open the gates
that the righteous nation may enter,
the nation that keeps faith.” -Isaiah 26:2 (NIV)
“And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning…” -2 Samuel 7:10 (NIV)
“But I will encamp at my temple
to guard it against marauding forces.
Never again will an oppressor overrun my people,
for now I am keeping watch.” -Zechariah 9:8 (NIV)
The better translation of “Kiy lo tiyraiy” is, “Because No Fear!” In short, due to the righteousness of Israel in Messiah which firmly establishes God’s eternal kingdom on earth, oppression wont touch you, because, No Fear!
“This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Yeshua. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” -1 John 4:17-19
Isa 54:15 Hein Now, pay attention, gor if a stranger yagur stirs up strife, efes naught (zero), nothing of it meiotiy is from Me; miy-gar whoever stirs up strife itach with you alayich yipol will fall because of you.
The shorter form “Hein” carries a similar sense to “Hineih”. Pay attention! This is the second of three “Pay attention” proclamations in this chapter, all of which occur in the latter quarter of the passage. It’s as if God were firmly establishing peace for His people by forewarning her that there is a time coming when it would appear that they are doomed despite God’s promises: however, this would be a last flailing attempt by the enemies of God and of Israel, nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Those who gather against Israel will be destroyed in her midst.
“Behold, the captivity of thy people shall surely be gathered unto thee: in the end, the kings of the nations, who are gathered together to oppress thee, Jerusalem, shall be cast down in the midst of thee.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The Targum which reads “Shall be cast down in the midst of you” may well be referring, albeit unwittingly, to Revelation 11:13, where 7000 perish in the midst of an earthquake in Jerusalem, following which Israel gives glory to God. This is probably the catalyst for the time of Israel’s restoration through Messiah to God as an entire remnant nation (Romans 11:25).
Iben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, interpret those who stir up strife for Israel in the latter days as being the prophetically significant figurative enemy nations of Gog and Magog.
The Revelation of Yeshua to Yochanan (John) describes those who will stir up trouble against Israel in the last days:
“And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”) And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Ha-Meggido.” -Revelation 16:12-16
This is a transitional warning to the restored remnant. Redeemed Israel is not to allow any perceived temporary threat to cause her fear. Nor is she to doubt the promise of Hashem in regard to her security in His righteousness. Those that appear to have the power to stir up trouble for Israel will be defeated because of her association with Hashem, made manifest in righteousness through the King Messiah. The same God Who has returned and restored Israel will also fully fill all the promises He has made to her.
This remains a dire warning today to all those nations who plot against the modern Jewish State and the Jewish people throughout the world. Know this, if you stir up trouble against Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical) you will fall because of God’s devotion to her.
Isa 54:16 Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, anochiy I baratiy I have created (from nothing) charash the smith nofeiach who blows be’eish on the fire pecham coals u’motziy and brings out, produces cheliy a weapon, instrument, vessel lemaaseihu for his purpose, work. Ve’anochiy And I baratiy I have created (from nothing) mashchiyt the corrupt, decaying, destroyer le’chabeil to bind;
This is now the third and final “Hineih” of the chapter, “Now Pay Attention!” Before God makes it clear that any and all weapons formed against Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical) will be defeated, He reminds Israel that He is the Creator of all things and that her enemies cannot form anything except that which God has allowed them to use. He does this in part to show that the enemies of Israel are formed of the created things but the God Who protects her is all existing, uncreated, everlasting, and relies on nothing and no one in order to act in her defence. This certain and immutable security is given to Israel as a promissory note prior to the events of the latter days.
“The blacksmith takes a tool
and works with it over the coals,
fashioning it with hammers
and working it with his strong arm.
Yet when he is hungry, his strength fails.
When he drinks no water, he gets tired.” -Isaiah 44:12 (TLV)
“Behold, the Lord GOD helps me; who will declare me guilty? Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.” -Isaiah 50:9 (ESV)
Isa 54:17 Col-keliy All weapons, instruments, vessels yutzar formed alayich against you lo will not yitzlach prosper, succeed, advance vechol-lashon and all tongues, languages takum-itach that rise against you lamishpat in judgement tarshiyiy you shall refute, condemn. Zot This nachalat is the heritage avdeiy of the servants of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), ve’tzidkatam and their righteousness, justice, vindication mei’itiy is from Me, neum-YHVH declares, reveals, proclaims HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).”
“No weapon that is formed against thee, Jerusalem, shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from me, says the Lord.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
This promise to Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical) is made to her prior to her exiled state and made perfect in her through her restoration. It applies not only to physical weapons but also to all forms of weaponry, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, political etc.
It is important to note that the text reads as a promise to Israel. “No weapon formed against you…” Therefore, the common Christian practice of reframing this promise to apply to the individual believer by paraphrasing the text as, “No weapon formed against me will prosper…” is at best presumptuous and at worst a violation.
This promise is made specifically to the ethnic, religious people of Israel and applies to followers of Messiah Yeshua only in so far as they walk in unity with Messiah and in defence of the cause of God’s chosen nation Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical), the Jewish people.
When I consider the irony of modern Christian practice with regard to this verse I am at once both incredulous and on behalf of those Christians who misuse this verse, terrified. For example, the Christian that uses this verse to reassure themselves while holding a political position of resistance against the modern Jewish State of Israel (approx. 6.7 million Jews), is in fact cursing themselves. How? By quoting this promise they invoke the contextual, historical and prophetic power of this promise as it applies to the ethnic people of Israel whom they are siding against. Thus, by speaking this promise they bring judgement against themselves as those who form weapons against the Jewish people.
It is unwise to make a general paraphrase of a Biblical text in order to personalise it, when the plain historical, contextual meaning does not allow for it. This is a habit that results in tragic misinterpretation of Scripture and is informed by selfish pride rather than selfless submission.
We are prone to forcing our faith to submit to our worldview, when in fact we should be humbling ourselves before God and asking Him to transform our world view according to our faith in Him through His King Messiah. We do not critique Scripture, to the contrary, the Scripture critiques us.
My warning to Gentile Christians who misappropriate Scripture spoken specifically to the Jewish people is this, do not steal from your older brother those things which God has given directly to him (ethnic, religious Israel), rather be satisfied with that which God has given you and enjoy the benefits of being under the promises given to your older brother, remembering that as soon as you attempt to come out from under those promises in order to usurp him (ethnic, religious Israel), you are no longer under the shadow of those promises, and have therefore, made yourselves subject to retribution. HaShem disciplines the ones He loves. Be discerning in your use of Scripture.
“It will be like a hungry man dreaming and behold, he is eating,
but awakes with his hunger unsatisfied,
or like a thirsty man dreaming and behold, he is drinking,
but awakes faint, his soul thirsting.
So it will be with the multitude of all the nations
warring against Mount Zion.” -Isaiah 29:8 (TLV)
“Behold, all who were angry at you
will be ashamed and disgraced.
Those who quarrel with you
will be as nothing and perish.” -Isaiah 41:11(TLV)
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
"At that time they shall declare to the Messiah the troubles of Israel in captivity, and the wicked which are among them, that do not mind to know the Lord; he shall lift up his voice, and weep over the wicked among them; as it is said, ‘he was wounded for our transgressions’.'' - Zohar in Exod. fol. 85. 2.
This chapter continues the prophet’s illumination of the Servant of God Whom he introduces afresh in Isaiah 52:13. Thus, as explained in my previous commentary on that chapter, the entirety of this portion from 52:13-53:12 is one cohesive prophetic message within the meta-narrative of the scroll of Isaiah.
I also explained in the previous commentary on chapter 52, that the modern Jewish and Liberal Christian theological assertion that the Servant is representative of Israel the people is untenable when weighed against the plain meaning of the text and the relevant historical and Biblical evidence to the contrary. While I acknowledge that The Servant is intrinsically connected to Israel and a representative of the people of Israel (a Jew, born of her), He cannot be both Israel (the ethnic/religious people) and the one Who is “struck, stricken” for the sake of Israel’s transgressions, at the same time (53:8). For this and many other reasons which will become clear as we follow the plain meaning of the text of Isaiah 53 to its logical goal, it is impossible to conclude, as the majority of our modern Rabbis have, that this portion of Isaiah applies to the people of Israel.
The Suffering Servant Prophesied and Fulfilled
This portion of Isaiah’s scroll (52:13-53:12) has 5 distinct sections that act together fluidly in order to provide a clear and concise prophetic picture of the Servant of HaShem.
The text speaks of an individual Who offers Himself as a substitutionary sacrifice for the atoning of Israel’s sins and subsequently, for the atoning of the sins of all who will accept God’s redemptive gift.
Isa 53:1 Miy Who he’emiyn has believed (found faith in) lishmoateinu the message which we have heard? And to whom has the arm of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) been revealed?
The prophet himself cannot be the sole speaker of these words (his prophesying of them not withstanding), which are spoken by a group, thus, “our message”. The reference to this passage in Rav Shaul’s (Paul’s) letter to the Roman believers appears to apply the “our” of Isaiah 53:1 to the remnant among Israel who had believed. Thus, in one sense Rav Shaul is implying that Israel’s faithful were saying, “Lord, who has believed our message?” While this might include the prophets (Isaiah not withstanding), it doesn’t appear to refer to them alone.
“But they did not all hearken to the glad tidings. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’” -Romans 10:16
The better translation of the phrase “Who has believed our message?” is in fact, “Who has believed the message we have heard?”
Therefore, message itself is the cumulative testimony of the forebears and prophets of Israel which had been imparted to Israel from her inception, prophetically speaking of the coming of the Deliverer appointed to redeem and completely save Israel from her sins. Thus, the first verse of Isaiah 53 is spoken by those among Israel’s remnant at the time of the Babylonian captivity and from that point (in a prophetic sense) throughout Israel’s future existence until the return of the Messiah (Servant).
Iben Ezra attributes this verse to the nations, however, due to the fact that according to Isaiah 52:15 the nations receive with faith the good news of things which they had not heard before; the present verse cannot apply to them. On the other hand Israel is mourning the fact that she had failed to put her faith in the good news which she had been hearing through her prophets from time immemorial.
Thus, having concluded that it is Israel who is speaking, it makes sense that she speaks from a position of incredulity with regard to her failure to believe. The remnant of Israel (ethnic/religious) speaks to both herself and the nations saying, “And to whom has the arm of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) been revealed?” We know from Isaiah 52:10 that the Arm of HaShem has been made bare “in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”
Therefore, in one sense Israel’s confession of her own disbelief makes it possible for her to become the light to the nations she was always meant to be through the redeeming work of the Servant Messiah Who has been sent to take upon Himself all her transgressions, and indeed, the transgressions of all who would receive Him. So it is that from the beginning of Isaiah 53 there is a clear distinction being made between Israel (ethnic/religious/corporate) and the Servant Redeemer of Israel (a unique individual, albeit a Jew [Israelite]). This, as we have seen in my commentary on Isaiah 52, and as we will yet see in the present commentary, is the view most common to our ancient Rabbis and commentators.
“The arm of the Lord” is a figure for the strength and wisdom of HaShem made manifest in His redemptive acts throughout history. This strength is of course yet another figure for the work of the Servant King Messiah. Therefore, it’s spoken of here to the people of Israel 700 years before the birth of the Servant, as an allusion to the redemptive work of the Servant as described in the subsequent verses.
Isa 53:2 Vaya’al For he grew up kayoneik like a sapling (a young plant) lefanayv before his face, vechashoresh and as a root mei-eretz tziyah from dry ground; he had no toar form ve’lo and no hadar splendour, honour, majesty that we should look at him, and no mareh spectacular appearance venechmedeihu that we should desire, take pleasure in, delight in him.
The humble beginnings of the Servant are described here. He is said to have no royal splendour about His visage. This is important because almost all of Israel was looking only for a triumphant King Messiah in the line of David (Israel was not wrong in this, just lacking a full understanding of the greater work of the coming Messiah). Therefore, she did not expect a humble seemingly unroyal Messiah.
The Hebrew “yoneik” refers to a plant that has just burst through the soil. A vulnerable young suckling. The Hebrew “sheresh” (from sharash) refers to a root and thus connects the present verse to Isaiah 11:1 where the prophet says:
“And then will come out a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a green branch misharashayhu from his root will bear fruit.”
Note that the same root “sharash” is used here to describe the “root” that comes from Jesse. This is an allusion to the fact that the Messiah will be born of the line of David, and thus, will be the King Messiah Who reigns on the throne of David. Therefore, Isaiah 53:2 connects the Kingly nature of the Messiah in juxtaposition against the humble lack of royal visage of the Servant. In a beautiful irony of practice the Servant, although He is royalty, choses to come without pomp or ceremony, royal clothing or position. In fact, such will be the lowliness of his station that His people will not recognise Him as being special or honourable: nor will they desire Him to rule over them.
“And it has come to pass in that day that the shoresh root of Jesse will stand to be a sign, banner, miracle for the peoples. The nations will seek for Him, and His resting place will be glory.” -Isaiah 11:10
There can be little doubt that the King Messiah (Who is to reign on David’s throne re: Jesse) of the early part of Isaiah’s scroll is also the Servant of the latter part of Isaiah’s scroll.
“mei-eretz tziyah” (from earth that is dry), can be understood in multiple ways. The condition of Israel in the first century CE at the time when Messiah Yeshua was born into this world, was truly dry in both a physical and spiritual sense. God had not spoken through a prophet to Israel for approximately 400 years prior to the birth of Yochanan (John). In addition to this Israel had been under Roman occupation for some time and prior to that had suffered under the oppression of Antiochus Epiphanes (Syrophoenician) among others. Under Roman occupation the illegitimate king Herod had usurped the throne of Judah, which when added to the rarity of the “Bat Kol” (Audible voice of the Holy Spirit: lit. daughters voice), the lack of true prophetic voices and the political subjugation of the Jewish people, made for a truly dry land from which the Servant would come forth.
“Eretz Tziyah” (Dry/Parched ground) is also literally the meaning of the proper noun Tziyon (Parched land). Thus, quite literally, the Servant will be born of Zion, of a daughter of Zion, of the tribe of Judah, in the line of David. Furthermore, the Servant comes to offer living waters (John 4:14) that will saturate refresh and rejuvenate the dry land.
Isa 53:3 Nivzeh He was despised (held in contempt) vachadal and rejected by iyshiym men (human beings), iysh a man machovot of sorrows (afflictions) vidua and a deep knowing (acquainted) concerning sickness, weakness, affliction, grief; uchemasteir and as one from whom people hide their paniym faces nivzeh He was despised (held in contempt), ve’lo and we did not chashavnuhu esteem him.
It’s clear that the afflictions suffered by the Servant are both physical and spiritual. There are of course no words to truly describe the weight of the affliction suffered for the sins of humanity.
The opening word “Nivzeh” (despised, held in contempt), links the Servant to the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 49:7:
“Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despises (holds in contempt), to him whom the nation abhors, to a servant of rulers: Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall worship; because of Adonai that is faithful, even the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
Early rabbinic literature recognizes that part of the Messiah’s ministry includes suffering:
“The Messiah—what is his name? …The Rabbis say, ‘the Leprous one’: Those of the house of Rabbi say, ‘the sick one’, as it is said, ‘surely he has borne our sickness.’” -Sanhedrin 98b, Babylonian Talmud
Some of our ancient Rabbis struggled to understand the divergent elements of Isaiah 52:13-53:12. As a result the two Messiah theory developed. Mashiach Ben Yosef, the suffering Messiah (Isaiah 50:5-7 & 53). Mashiach Ben David, the triumphant King Messiah who subdues the nations and establishes his Messianic kingdom (Psalm 2 & 110). Messiah Ben Yosef is said to die in the battle against Edom (figuratively Rome): he is followed by Messiah Ben David, who establishes His kingdom of righteousness after defeating the gentile nations. The irony of this interpretation is that the two Messiah figures accurately divide the ministry of the living Messiah Yeshua, Who came first as the suffering Servant (Ben Yosef) and will come again as the victorious King (Ben David).
The Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) solves the question of divergent themes by revealing the advent of the King Messiah and subsequently describing His second coming (Mt. 23:29; John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 1 Thess. 4:14-17 etc.)
“He was despised (held in contempt) and rejected by men (human beings),” Note the past tense. HaShem speaks into time and space through His prophet Isaiah, that which has already been made complete outside of time and space. The Hebrew plural “iyshim” (men) is the poetic form of “anashiym”. “Iyshiym” refers specifically to men of stature (Prov.8:4; Psalm 141:4). Thus, the Servant is shunned by leading men: kings, political leaders, spiritual leaders etc. Yeshua’s contemporaries struggled to come to terms with his humble birth and the town of His upbringing, which is not even mentioned in rabbinic literature.
“‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked.” -John 1:46a (NIV)
“Still others asked, ‘How can the Messiah come from Galilee’”? -John 1:41b (NIV)
“A man of afflictions and of a deep knowing (acquainted) concerning sickness, weakness, affliction, grief…” Although it is true that the Messiah was familiar with grief (it is likely that His earthly father Joseph died prior to the beginning of Messiah’s ministry, and He is seen grieving deeply at the tomb of Lazarus), the meaning of the text appears to convey that the Servant was familiar with the cause of disease and sickness and was knowledgeable in a transcendent way concerning the healing of such disease and afflictions. Additionally, the Messiah Himself suffered great affliction both physical and spiritual prior to and during His crucifixion.
“And as one from whom people hide their faces” As a result of His affliction the people of Israel turned away from Him, the disfigurement resulting from His beating, whipping and crucifixion making Him a hideous sight to behold.
He was despised (held in contempt), and we did not esteem him.” The Hebrew “nivzeh” (despised) is repeated here as affirmation of the fullness of His people’s rejection of Him. In particular He was despised by many of Israel’s first century religious leaders. To this day as a result of the modern rabbinic polemic against Yeshua, His name is rendered in modern Hebrew as Yeshu which is an acronym for the curse “Ye’mach Sh’mo” meaning, “May His name be blotted out!” This disgusting curse is further evidence of the ongoing rejection of the Servant King Messiah by our people.
“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him; but the world did not know Him. He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him. But whoever did receive Him, those trusting in His name, to these He gave the right to become children of God.” -John 1:10-12 (TLV)
Isa 53:4 Achein Certainly cholayeinu our sicknesses, weaknesses, diseases he has nasa borne, carried, lifted up (a sign) umachoveiynu and our sorrows, pain sevalam he has dragged along, bared as a load; yet we esteemed him nagua struck (diseased) mukeih beaten, killed, slain by Elohiym (God: Judge), umeuneh and afflicted, oppressed, humbled.
“But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.” -John 19:34 (TLV)
“Look, He is coming with the clouds,
and every eye shall see Him,
even those who pierced Him.
And all the tribes of the earth
shall mourn because of Him.
Yes, amen!” -Revelation 1:7 (TLV)
“Certainly our sicknesses, weaknesses, diseases he has nasa borne, carried, lifted up (a sign)” The sickness described here is the result of sin’s entry into the world (and death with it). Or else, why does the Hebrew employ the word “nasa”, which is used in connection with the Torah sacrifices of expiation (Lev.5:1, 17; 10:17; 16:22; 17:16; 20:19-20; 24:15).
“Who His own self bore our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed.” -1 Peter 2:24 (ASV)
“Nasa” is also a sign (nisi) that points to a mighty work of Hashem. Yeshua quite literally bore (healed) our (The people of Israel) sicknesses and diseases during His earthly ministry:
“And when Yeshua was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother lying sick of a fever. And He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she arose, and ministered unto him. And when even was come, they brought unto Him many possessed with demons: and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, ‘He took our infirmities, and bare our diseases.’” -Matthew 8:14-17
“Our sorrows, pain he has dragged along, bared as a load” I’m surprised that few if any comment on the descriptive Hebrew language here in regard to the last hours of the Messiah’s life. After all, He quite literally dragged the cross (means of His death) along until He was relieved by Shimon of Cyrene.
“Yet we esteemed him nagua struck mukeih beaten, killed, slain by Elohiym (God: Judge), umeuneh and afflicted, oppressed, humbled.” The Hebrew “nagua” is associated to terrible diseases such as leprosy (Gen. 12:17; Lev. 13:5; 1 Sam. 6:9; 2 Kings 15:5), and “mukeih” to divine retribution for heinous sin (Though the servant is not suffering for His own sin re: next verse).
The Talmud says of the Messiah that he is "a leper of the house of Rabbi is his name'' - T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 98. 2.
Sadly, the Talmud calls Yeshua a “transgressor”, ironic, given that Yeshua died for the transgressions of those who penned and codified the Talmud. Maimonides states that Yeshua deserved the violent death which He suffered. Once again ironic, given that it is in fact Maimonides who deserved the rightful punishment for his sins, and yet Yeshua was willing to die also for Maimonides. So much for the human wisdom of our rabbis. I have visited the tomb of Maimonides, it is dead and lifeless. The tomb of Yeshua however is empty, He is alive and living by His Spirit within me. He is transcendent and seated at the right hand of the Father.
Isa 53:5 Vehu And he mecholal was pierced (defiled, polluted) mipeshaeinu for our transgressions (rebellions); meduka he was crushed (broken, became contrite) meiavonoteiynu for our iniquities (perversity, depravity, guilt); Musar The chastisement (discipline) shelomeinu of our peace, wholeness, wellbeing alayv was placed upon him, uvachavurato and by his wounds (stripes, bruises, blows) nirpa-lanu we are healed, made healthy (whole).
As I have previously shown, the Servant cannot be Israel the people. Why? Because the entire history and character of the people of Israel as a whole is contrary to the description of God’s faithful Servant, Who takes upon Himself the sins of His people (inferring that He is not guilty of their sins) and redeems all willing human beings. Israel the collective people on the other hand are repeatedly denounced by the prophet Isaiah as being deaf and blind to the will of God (42:19-20; 43:24). The prophet’s words state that the people do not even deserve the name Israel (Overcome in God), and that their allegiance to YHVH is insincere (48:1). Further, Isaiah speaking from God pronounces his nation “an obstinate people with a neck like iron sinew and their forehead like brass” (48:4). Thus, Israel the people, like all people, are sinners in need of salvation. Fortunately for Israel, the Servant King Messiah was pierced for our transgressions.
We are reminded again that our ancient Rabbis understood these words to be referring to the King Messiah:
“Chastisements are divided into three parts, one to David and the fathers, one to our generation, and one to the King Messiah; as it is written, ‘he was wounded for our transgressions; and bruised for our iniquities’:'' - Mechilta apud Yalkut, par. 2. fol 90.
“Messiah Son of David who loves Jerusalem… Elijah takes Him by the head…and says, ‘You must bear the sufferings and wounds by which the Almighty chastises you for Israel’s sins’ and so it is written, ‘He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities.’” -Midrash Konen; 11 Century CE
“The children of the world are members one of another. When the Holy One desires to give healing to the world, He smites one just man amongst them, and for his sake heals all the rest. From where do we learn this? From the saying, ‘he was wounded for our transgressions; and bruised for our iniquities’”. -Zohar, Numbers, Phinchus 218a
Furthermore, our Rabbis also testify to the wickedness of Israel and her need for the Messiah:
"At that time they shall declare to the Messiah the troubles of Israel in captivity, and the wicked which are among them, that do not mind to know the Lord; he shall lift up his voice, and weep over the wicked among them; as it is said, ‘he was wounded for our transgressions’, &c.'' - Zohar in Exod. fol. 85. 2. See also Midrash Ruth, fol. 33. 2. and Zohar in Deut. fol. 117. 3. and R. Moses Hadarsan apud Galatia de Arcan. Cath. Ver. I. 8. c. 15 p. 586. and in I. 6. c. 2. p. 436.
“And he was pierced (defiled, polluted) for our transgressions (rebellions);” The Hebrew “mecholal” meaning pierced, could only have been written by a divinely inspired prophet of God. These words, spoken and recorded some 700 years before the birth (into this world) of Messiah Yeshua, describe exactly what happened to Him, both physically and spiritually.
“Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgota). There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Yeshua in the middle. Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Yeshua of nazareth, the king of the jews.” -John 19:17-19
Crucifixion involved the nailing of hands and feet to a cross beam position equal to or slightly below the top of a firmly established upright post. Thus, Yeshua had is hands and feet pierced quite literally. The Psalmist, writing over 500 years before the birth (into this world) of Yeshua the Servant of God, wrote:
“Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.” -Psalm 22:11-18 (NIV)
“But when they came to Yeshua and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Yeshua in the side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.” -John 19:33-35
“He was crushed (broken, became contrite) for our iniquities (perversity, depravity, guilt); The chastisement (discipline) of our peace, wholeness, wellbeing was placed upon him, and by his wounds (stripes, bruises, blows) we are healed, made healthy (whole).” The entire sacrificial system of the Torah is symbolic of substitution.
“For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” -Leviticus 17:11 (NIV)
One of the primary stories of the Torah “Ha-Akeidah” The Binding of Isaac, binds Israel to the faith of Abraham and frees her from bondage to sin through the substitution of the Ram, who is a figure for the promised Messiah, and highlights the fact that the Messiah will be a substitutionary sacrifice for Israel (Jacob). While Jacob was still in the loins of Isaac, the Ram took his place on the altar (of Moriah) [Genesis 22].
“He was crushed (broken, became contrite) for our iniquities (perversity, depravity, guilt);” We note that the Servant takes a punishment upon Himself that was meant for us (Israel, ethnic, religious). Not only was He crushed on our behalf, He took the suffering willingly, the Hebrew “meduka” denotes contrite acceptance.
“The chastisement (discipline) of our peace, wholeness, wellbeing was placed upon him, and by his wounds (stripes, bruises, blows) we are healed, made healthy (whole).” As a result of the Servant’s substitutionary sacrifice and because our sin has not just been covered but has been atoned for, annihilated by His blood shed for us, we are made whole, given peace, physical and spiritual, temporal and transcendent. Those who receive the Servant King Messiah enter the eternal present. Though we die, yet will we live. The Hebrew “Musar shelomeinu” reads, “The chastisement that secures our peace”. There is everlasting security in the receipt of the sacrificial love of the Servant King Messiah.
“In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” -Hebrews 19:22 (NIV)
“The next day Yochanan saw Yeshua coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” -John 1:29
At a time yet future, all ethnic/religious Israel will look upon the Servant King Messiah and repent in mourning, acknowledging that for our sake He has been pierced (Zech. 12:10). Thus the redemption of the entire remnant of ethnic/religious Israel will take place through Messiah Yeshua at His second coming following the coming in of the fullness of the nations (Romans 11:25-26).
“Then I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication, when they will look toward Me whom they pierced. They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son and grieve bitterly for him, as one grieves for a firstborn.” -Zechariah 12:10 (TLV)
“For I do not want you, brothers and sisters, to be ignorant of this mystery—lest you be wise in your own eyes—that a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
“The Deliverer shall come out of Zion.
He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” -Romans 11:25-26 (TLV)
Isa 53:6 Kulanu All we katzon like sheep taiynu we have wandered, erred, staggered, gone astray; iysh each human being (man) ledarko to his own way paniynu we have turned; and HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) hifgiya has laid on him (caused him to encounter, make intercession for) et avon the perversity, depravity, guilt, iniquity of kulanu us all.
In reference to Genesis 49:11, the Jewish commentator R. Kahana writes:
"As the ass bears burdens, and the garments of travellers, so the King Messiah will bear upon him the sins of the whole world; as it is said, ‘the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all’”
- Apud Galatin. de Cathol. Ver. I. 10. c. 6. p. 663, and Siphre in ib. l. 8. c. 20. p. 599.
The righteous remnant of the people of Israel speak here of the nature of human beings, themselves included. This is a confession of the sin nature and its fruit. As is so often the case in the TaNakh (OT), Israel are figuratively referred to as sheep. However, what’s different here is that Israel self-identify as sheep who have strayed from the Shepherd’s (YHVH) instruction, guidance and the safe pasture of His kingdom. It is also literally true that the sin of Israel had been the reason for their being led into captivity. Thus, they physically strayed into Babylon, leaving the promised land of Israel behind them.
“For ‘you were like sheep going astray,’ but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” -1 Peter 2:25
“Each human being to his own way we have turned” Both as individuals and corporately human beings (iysh used in an iconic way) have fallen short of the holiness of God. Israel includes herself in this and acknowledges that she has turned to her “own way” rather than continuing in the “way of the Lord”.
“And Adonai has laid on him (caused him to encounter, make intercession for) the perversity, depravity, guilt, iniquity of us all.” The problem of sin is addressed here. Sin must be atoned for. A substitution must be made (Lev.17:11; Hebrews 9:22). Thus, the Servant becomes the vicarious sacrifice for Israel and all humanity. It is Adonai Himself that has laid the utter depravity of human sin on the Servant. Once again, Israel cannot be both those who have gone astray and the one on whom the sins of those who have gone astray are laid upon. Israel corporate is not the Servant. The Servant is an individual born of her on whom Adonai will lay the sins of Israel and of all humanity.
The core doctrine of the fallen nature of humanity is supported throughout Scripture:
“No one living is righteous before you.” -Psalm 143:2b
“Surely there is no one on earth so righteous as to do good without ever sinning.” -Ecclesiastes 7:19
“For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:
‘There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.’” -Romans 3:9b-12 (Psalms 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Eccles. 7:20)
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” -Romans 3:23
“God made Him who had no sin to be a sin offering for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” -2 Corinthians 5:21
Isa 53:7 He was oppressed (tormented), and he was afflicted, and did not open his mouth; kaseh like a lamb latevach led to the slaughter, ucheracheil and like a ewe lifneiy before the face of its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
“He was oppressed (tormented), and he was afflicted,” The Servant King Messiah suffered both physical and spiritual affliction.
“and did not open his mouth” This is repeated in the last clause. The firmly established humility and silence of the falsely accused Messiah is evident in the Brit HaChadashah (NT) account (Matt. 26:62-63, 27:12).
“Like a lamb led to the slaughter, and like a ewe before the face of its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” The NT references to Yeshua as the “Lamb of God” are born of the story of the Passover and Israel’s exodus from Egyptian bondage (Ex.12:3, 4, 7). The blood of the Pesach Lamb was painted on the door posts of Jewish homes as a symbol of God’s protection and deliverance of the family who lived within. Additionally, vicarious animal sacrifice is well established in the TaNakh (OT).
The extreme submissive behaviour of the Servant cannot be attributed to Israel as a nation. The nation of Israel has many virtues but suffering silently is not among them. Throughout our history we have resisted our oppressors. Even in the most heinous case of our persecution (the Shoah) the Holocaust, we resisted wherever possible. Therefore, as a nation Israel does not qualify for the position of Servant as described in Isaiah 53.
Isa 53:8 Meiotzer From restraint (prison, oppression) umishpat and judgment lukach he was seized, taken away; ve’et-doro and as for his generation, miy who yesocheicha has considered it? Kiy For nigzar he was cut off mei’eretz from the land chayiym of the living, mipesha for the transgression, rebellion amiy of My people nega lamo he was stricken (diseased, marked, plagued).
“From restraint (prison, oppression) and judgment he was seized, taken away”
He was not treated fairly with a proper trial. He was taken out of prison and summarily judged and sentenced to death contrary to both Jewish and Roman law.
“And as for his generation, who has considered it? For he was cut off from the land of the living” His generation refers to any for whom he might have been a progenitor. The Servant will have no physical children born of His natural seed. Why? Because He was cut off (murdered, killed) from the land (Israel, the earth) of living (the present world).
“He was cut off from the land of the living, for the transgression, rebellion of My people he was stricken (diseased, marked, plagued).” These words are prophesied spoken through Isaiah by the Spirit of God. Thus, Israel is called “My people” by both God Himself and the prophet. If the Servant is to be killed as a vicarious sacrifice for Isaiah’s people (Israel), He cannot be corporate Israel. The same is true of the ethnic/religious people of God. Israel (ethnic/religious) are God’s people. This latter clause shows clearly that the Servant is killed (cut off) as a substitutionary sacrifice (because of transgression) for Israel (My people).
Those who claim that the Hebrew “lamo” is solely plural are incorrect, it is used here to refer to the singular Servant in the same way it is used in the singular in Job 20:23, 22:2 and Isaiah 44:15.
“Philip ran up and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
31 ‘How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone guides me?’ So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of Scripture that he was reading was this:
‘He was led as a sheep to slaughter;
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so He opens not His Mouth.
33 In His humiliation justice was denied Him.
Who shall recount His generation?
For His life is taken away from the earth.’
34 The eunuch replied to Philip, ‘Please tell me, who is the prophet talking about—himself or someone else?’ 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he proclaimed the Good News about Yeshua.” -Acts 8:30-35 (TLV)
“Therefore the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.” -John 10:17
Isa 53:9 And they made kivro his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no mirmah deceit in his mouth.
The Hebrew “kever” grave, is here used to describe the physical status of a dead body. Thus, the Servant’s physical death was like that of the wicked (albeit undeserved). This is why the subsequent phrase “and with a rich man in his death” is added in describing the nature of the Servant’s tomb.
“Now when it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had also become a disciple of Yeshua. 58 This man went to Pilate and asked for Yeshua’s body. Then Pilate ordered it to be given up. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. 60 And he laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. Then he rolled a large stone up to the door of the tomb and went away.” -Matthew 27:57-60
Isa 53:10 Yet HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) chafeitz desired to bruise (crush) him; hecheliy He has put him to grief; im-tasiym with his appointment as an offering for guilt nafsho by his soul (life, being), yireh he will see his zera offspring; ya’ariych he will prolong his yamiym days; ve’cheifetz and the desire of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) beyado in his hand yitzlach will advance, rush, succeed, progress, prosper.
Iben Ezra says these words are spoken of the generation that shall return to God, and to the true religion, at the coming of the Messiah.
An old midrash says:
“The Messiah, in order to atone for them both (Adam & David), will make his soul a trespass offering; as it is written next to [prior to] this parashah [Isa.53:10], “Behold My Servamt” [Isa.52:13]. -Midrash Aseret Memrot
We note that the desire or will of Hashem begins and completes the verse. In order for the will of Hashem to bring redemption and the advancement of His kingdom, He must also will the means of that redemption, suffering in and with the Servant King Messiah for the sin of His people, and indeed, for all people.
“Yet HaShem desired to bruise (crush) him” This connects the present passage to the prophecy of Genesis 3:15, where the Serpent Satan is said to bruise the heel of the Messiah. In the present text the bruising is ascribed to HaShem. Thus we understand that Satan is subject to HaShem and is allowed to act only according to God’s purposes for the redemption of His chosen.
“He has put him to grief; with his appointment as an offering for guilt by his soul (life, being)” The text could not be more clear. The Servant is to be a guilt offering, that is a substitutionary offering for the sins of others. He is to complete His atoning work by giving His very soul (life). “Asham” is a trespass offering that is distinct from every other sacrifice. It was made by an individual as a substitutionary compensation for any wrong doing committed by that person. It removed the person’s guilt and set them free (Lev. 5:15). The central tenant of this and many other sacrifices was the need to satisfy the justice demanded by the Holy God of Israel, Creator of the universe and God over all things.
“How much more shall the blood of Messiah, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” -Hebrews9:14
“Him who knew no sin He made to be a sin offering on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” -2 Corinthians 5:21
“and walk in love, even as Messiah also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odour of a sweet smell.” -Ephesians 5:2
“He will see his offspring; he will prolong his days” The “seed” (offspring) in question are spiritual seed (Psalm 22:30; Isa. 65:25; Malachi 2:15): those who receive Him. We know this because Yeshua Himself explained that the resurrected do not procreate (Luke 20:34-36). “He will prolong His days” is a figurative way of describing the Olam Haba (World to come).
“Certainly, certainly, I say to you, except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abides by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” -John 12:24
“His seed also will I make to endure for ever, And his throne as the days of heaven.” -Psalm 89:29
“The desire of HaShem in his hand will advance” In the hand (actions) of the resurrected Servant King Messiah the desire of HaShem will advance. The Servant, a son of Israel, will thus make it possible for Israel to fulfil her calling to be a light to the nations (Isa.49:6). The Spirit will be poured out and the kingdom of God will grow and await the Messiah’s return, the final resurrection and the Olam Haba (World to come).
Isa 53:11 Meiamal From the anguish of nafsho his soul yireh he will see and be satisfied; bedato by the knowledge (perception, skill, understanding, wisdom, discernment) of Him yatzdiyk tzadiyk avdiy the righteous one, My servant, larabiym will justify many, va’avonotam and their iniquities (depravity, perversity, guilt) hu he yisbil shall bear.
“From the anguish of his soul he will see and be satisfied” The Servant King Messiah will look back on His suffering and death, and resurrected He will see the resulting fruit of His anguish and be satisfied.
“looking to Yeshua the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” -Hebrews 12:2
“By the knowledge of Him the righteous one, My servant, will justify many, and their iniquities he shall bear.” The Servant King Messiah will justify “many”, not only Israelites (ethnic/religious) but also people from the nations. They will be justified through the knowledge of Him. Not just mental assent but true knowledge learned in relationship through practiced faith placed in Him.
“Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.” -Daniel 9:24
The Servant King Messiah’s ministry of bearing the sin of many goes beyond the finished work of His death and resurrection to His continued work as the Great High Priest Mediator for all who believe (Hebrews 8:6).
“As through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one shall the many be made righteous.” -Romans 5:19
Isa 53:12 Lachein Therefore, achalek I will divide him barabiym among the many, ve’et and from the atzumiym strong (mighty, numerous) he shall divide the spoil, tachat asher for the sake of (beneath) which he’erah he poured out lamavet to death, nafsho his soul ve’et-posheiym and with the transgressors was numbered; vehu and he cheit-rabiym nasa bore the sin of many, velaposheiym and for the transgressors yafgiya made intercession.
“Therefore, I will divide him among the many” This opening phrase uses the Hebrew “rabiym” which can be understood as “great ones” or “many”. The same word is used at the end of the verse and refers to the many believers who will receive the forgiveness of sin through the Messiah’s finished work. Therefore, it seems unlikely that “rabiym” refers to “men of stature, kings, politicians, religious leaders” as some suggest. The more consistent understanding is that the body of the Servant King Messiah’s is divided among the “many” in Israel and among the nations, who, later in the verse are interceded for by the Servant. That is, those who receive Him.
“And from the strong (mighty, numerous) he shall divide the spoil” Here, the “mighty” may refer to the men of stature of 52:15. The Servant Messiah will one day yet future divide the spoils of all the mighty rulers of the earth.
“for the sake of (beneath) which he poured out to death, his soul” For the sake of the many and the strong, the Servant will pour out His life unto death.
“And with the transgressors was numbered” The Servant was crucified as a criminal in spite of the fact that He was innocent and there were no legitimate legal reasons for His execution (Matt. 27:38).
“And he bore the sin of many, and for the transgressors made intercession.” Even as He was dying on the cross the Servant King Messiah Yeshua spoke words, not of vengeance or hatred but of intercession:
“But Yeshua was saying, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ Then they cast lots, dividing up His clothing.” -Luke 23:34 (TLV)
The Servant King Messiah Yeshua continues to make intercession today for all who put their trust in Him:
“But now Yeshua has obtained a more excellent ministry, insofar as He is the mediator of a better covenant which has been enacted on better promises.” -Hebrews 8:6 (TLV)
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
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