HaShem is not like the comforters of Job who made demands but offered no assistance, to the contrary, when HaShem says “Stand up!” He means, “Respond to my loving arm, and I will lift you up. Embrace My strength, and choose to stand in it. You are no longer a victim, in Me, and through My Messiah, you have overcome!”
This portion of the scroll of Isaiah focuses on HaShem’s comfort of His people. The prophet alludes to future deliverance through the redemptive strength of HaShem’s mighty arm, and reveals the counterpoint to Israel’s suffering at the drinking of God’s wrath. Ultimately it will be Israel’s captors who drink the cup of God’s wrath.
Isa 51:1 Shimu Hear, receive, listen eilay to me, you who rodefeiy pursue, chase after tzedek righteousness, you mevaksheiy that seek from HaShem (YHVH : Mercy): look to tzur a rock chutzavtem from which you were hewn (cut), and to the excavation from which you were dug.
“Hearken to my Word, ye that follow after truth, who seek instruction from the Lord; consider that ye were cut out like a stone hewn from a rock, that ye were cut out like a mass hewn out of a hollow cistern.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
This is either Isaiah or the Servant speaking (Ultimately all Biblical prophecy is God breathed). The call to listen, hear and obey is firmly established in the first seven verses, where the opening word “Shimu” (Hear you [plural]) is used three times.
This call to pay attention and listen carefully is specific to that remnant among the captives of Israel who diligently pursue right action and seek God wholeheartedly.
“Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.” -Romans 11:2b-5 (TLV) [1 Kings 19:10-14]
The “remnant” is alluded to frequently throughout the scroll of Isaiah (Isa.10:20-22; 11:11, 16; 17:3; 28:5; 37:4, 31, 32; 46:3). The prophet makes a clear distinction between the righteous among ethnic Israel and the unrighteous. Both are ethnic Israel but only the former are truly Jews inwardly. This is why the shaliach (apostle) Shaul (Paul) writes:
“For not all those who are descended from Israel are Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s seed; rather, “Your seed shall be called through Isaac.” 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God; rather, the children of the promise are counted as seed.” -Romans 9:6b-8
He is not inferring (as some foolishly suggest) that there is such a thing as a spiritual (non-ethnic, non-religious, non-empirical) Jew, nor is Paul saying that gentiles who believe are Israel, rather, as the context clearly shows, he is making a distinction between the Jew that has faith in Messiah and the Jew that does not. Both are Jews, ethnic, religious, empirical. One is part of the redeemed remnant, the other is not.
For obvious reasons the faithful among the captives of Israel need comforting. Thus, HaShem comforts them with the imagery of being hewn from solid rock and dug from a dry cistern. While the rock (tzur) refers ultimately to The Rock of Israel HaShem, in the context of this passage (see next verse) it more specifically refers to Abraham (the father of faith) and the cistern refers to Sarah, whose womb produced Isaac, from whom came Jacob (Israel) ethnic, religious, empirical.
Iben Ezra infers that “the Rock” which Israel’s righteous remnant are to look to is that of Mount Sinai, the mountain of God, from which the Torah came through Moses. This is consistent with the other interpretations of the rock, and connects the opening verse of this chapter to verse 7 where the Torah is said to be known to the righteous among Israel, even in their core being (Lev).
Isa 51:2 Look to Avraham (Father of a great number of people) aviychem your father, and unto Sarah (Noblewoman) who carried you in her womb; for when he was but echad one I called him, va’avarecheihu and I blessed him, ve’arbeihu and he became great (many).
“Consider Abraham your father, and Sarah who conceived you: for Abraham was one alone in the world, and I brought him to my service, I also blessed him, and multiplied him.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
This is an admonition to remember that God took the singular man Abraham and made him the father of many nations and in particular, the father of Isaac and Jacob, who became the people Israel. If God could cause the impregnation of Sarah, a barren elderly woman by an elderly man (Abraham), He can also deliver the remnant among Israel’s afflicted captive children.
“So from one—and him as good as dead—were fathered offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, and as uncountable as the sand on the seashore.” -Hebrews 11:12 (TLV)
The righteous remnant are also being asked to remember the character of each of their forebears. Abraham, whose faith was so simple and so powerful that he became the father of all who believe by faith (Galatians 3:6-8), and Sarah, who fiercely guarded the inheritance of her son Isaac from the illegitimate son Ishmael. The remnant of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical) are to have the faith of Abraham, and to fiercely guard Israel’s position as heir to the promises of God.
Isa 51:3 Kiy Because HaShem (YHVH : Mercy) has nicham, consoled, comforted Tziyon (Zion: parched land); He has nicham, consoled, comforted all her waste places, and has made midbarah her wilderness ke’eiden like Eden (delight), ve’arvatah and her desert ke’gan-HaShem (YHVH) like the garden of Adonay; sason gladness vsimchah and joy will be found her, thanksgiving, ve’kol and the voice zimrah of melody, music, song.
The past tense “has comforted” is spoken into Israel’s captive present in order to affirm to her that God has already delivered and comforted her in the established prophetic future. Thus, what follows has already been established outside of the boundaries of time and space. God sees her delivered and her desolation replaced by fruitful abundance and joy.
Notice that Zion means parched land. This denotes the absence of water, a symbol of the living presence of God, Whose Messiah is Mayim Chayim living waters. Thus, Israel is in need of the Servant King Messiah and the redemptive, restoring waters of living poured out by HaShem. Therefore, the poetic couplets follow:
These are both practical physical future realities and redemptive spiritual allegories. They are followed by:
Therefore, our delivered state of gladness is one of thanksgiving, and our redeemed state of joy produces singing.
“Joy and gladness shall be found therein, they that offer thanksgiving, and the voice of them that praise.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The imagery shows a need lashuv (to return) to the sinless state of Eden, the Lord’s garden. This is consistent with the metanarrative of Scripture regarding God’s redemptive purpose for all humanity.
Isa 51:4 Shimu Hear, receive, listen eilay to Me, amiy My people; uleumiy and My nation, eilay to Me give ear: kiy for Torah (Instruction) mei’itiy from Me teitzei will proceed, umishpatiy and My judgement, leor for a light amiym to peoples (tribes, ethnicities) argiya will happen in an instant, will be rest, I will establish.
“Listen to my Word, my people, and give ear, my congregation, to my service; for the law shall go forth from me, and my judgment like a light; the nations which, I led into captivity shall praise it.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The Targum poses an interesting counterpoint to Israel’s captivity, alluding to the leading into captivity of the nations. In other words, like Israel, any among the nations who wish to receive the light of HaShem, will be required to look upon it from a position of captivity and praise the light of Hashem.
This is HaShem speaking (“The first person in this verse refers to God”-Iben Ezra). Isaiah does not qualify, nor any mere man for that matter: Torah proceeds from God alone, as does judgement and divine light.
Notice, “My people and My nation”. HaShem is declaring his connection to both the tribe of Judah and the nation of Israel as a unified entity.
Some Christian commentators unnecessarily pose a false choice concerning the interpretation of Torah in this verse. The Hebrew can be understood as either “Torah” or “A Torah”, both are acceptable translations. However, some commentators claim that the present text can only refer to the message of the Gospel and does not refer to the Law of Moses. Ironically Iben Ezra follows similar thinking, saying “A law. The word of the Lord spoken by the prophet (Isaiah)”.
None the less, this is a needless debate, after all, Yeshua is the Author of the Torah (Law of Moses) and the goal of it. Thus, the Torah in question is both the Torah of Sinai and the living Torah of Messiah. In fact, unless we recognise the Torah of Sinai, we have no grounds for the “Judgement” that follows, which relies on the Law of Moses, in order to bring a just indictment against the wicked.
In fact the former words of Isaiah affirm the dual interpretation:
“Then many peoples will go and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of Adonai,
to the House of the God of Jacob!
Then He will teach us His ways,
and we will walk in His paths.”
For Torah will go forth from Zion
and the word of Adonai from Jerusalem.” -Isaiah 2:3 (TLV)
Furthermore, Shaul the Shaliach (Paul the Apostle) qualifies the Torah (Law) written on the hearts of gentiles by using the Torah of Moses as its reference point. Thus, affirming that there is an intrinsic connection between the two (Romans 2:14-15).
Notice that the Torah and judgement that proceed from Hashem (through His Servant Messiah) will be a light for many tribes (ethnicities, not nations), and will happen in an instant, catching them by surprise, but also establishing rest. The Hebrew argiya translated “suddenly” or “in an instant” also means “rest, quiet, repose etc”. It comes from the root rega, which in modern usage is used to say “one moment” or “wait a minute”. There is a sense here that the sudden redemption being spoken of, though it will be unexpected by many, must none the less be waited on by the remnant, and will result in rest, a quiet repose.
Isa 51:5 Karov tzidkiy My righteousness is near, yatza yishiy My salvation is gone forth, u’zeroay and My arms amiym yishpotu will judge peoples (tribes, ethnicities); eilay for Me iyiym the islands, coastlands (Mediterranean) yekavu will wait, look for, hope in, expect, ve’el-zeroiy and on My arm they will yeyacheiliun wait, hope, expect.
“My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and the nations shall be judged by the strength of the arm of my might; the isles shall hope for my Word, and they shall wait for the strength of the arm of my might.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
In the previous verse Torah went forth from HaShem (In the form of His Mashiach) and judgement (That is the judgement that the Torah afforded) became a light to the peoples (amiym). In the present verse God (or the Mashiach’s) righteousness is near as a result of Torah and salvation precedes judgement so that those among the peoples (amiym: tribes) of the earth who have waited on, and placed their hope in Hashem, will see the arm (strength of His redemptive work), and expect the promised outworking of it.
We notice that the Targum makes the “Word” of God synonymous with the “Arm” of God in this verse. Thus, we see an intrinsic link between the Living Word our Messiah and the attribute of strength.
Isa 51:6 Lift up your eyes lashamayim to the heavens, and look to ha-aretz the earth (land) beneath; kiy-shamayim for the heavens ke’ashan like smoke nimlachu will dissipate, tear away, ve’ha-aretz and the earth (land) will kabeged tivleh wear out like a garment; and they that dwell therein yemutum will die in like manner: viyshustiy but My salvation le’olam for ever tihyeh will come to pass, ve’tzidaktiy and My righteousness will lo not techat be abolished, shattered, dismayed, broken, afraid.
Simply put, “This sin (death) affected world will pass away, and those who dwell in it will die, but My salvation is forever and My righteousness immutable.”
The Lord’s Salvation (Yeshua) will bear eternal fruit, and HaShem’s righteousness is immutable, His character and attributes never change.
“looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God. In that day the heavens will be dissolved by fire, and the elements will melt in the intense heat.” -2 Peter 3:12 (TLV)
“And once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” -Hebrews 5:9 (TLV)
Speaking of the words of His Gospel message of salvation, Yeshua said:
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.” -Matthew 24:35 (TLV)
Isa 51:7 Shimu Hear, receive, listen eilay to Me, yode’eiy you that know tzedek righteousness, am a people toratiy ve’libam in whose core being (heart) is My Torah (Instruction); tireu fear you not the reproach of enosh men, neither be you umigidufoam al-teichatu afraid, shattered, broken, at their reviling words (abusive rhetoric, accusatory slander etc).
This is the third time in this chapter that a section begins with the phrase “Shimu Hear, receive, listen eilay to Me”. In the opening verse (51:1) HaShem is spoken of in the third person, thus, it seems likely that either Isaiah or the Servant is the speaker. However, in the two subsequent sections, the words “Listen to Me” are clearly spoken by Hashem Himself.
HaShem is reminding the faithful remnant among His people, that they know what it means to walk in righteousness and that He has placed His Torah in the hearts of a people (Israel). He further reminds the discouraged faithful remnant, that the abuse and insults and political or theological rhetoric spoken against them is not worthy of fear. The fear of HaShem is an end to fear!
“No longer will each teach his neighbour
or each his brother, saying: ‘Know Adonai,’
for they will all know Me,
from the least of them to the greatest.”
it is a declaration of Adonai.
“For I will forgive their iniquity,
their sin I will remember no more.” -Jeremiah 31:33 (TLV)
Isa 51:8 Kiy chabeged Like a garment yochlem ash a moth will eat them up, and like wool, yochlem sas a worm will eat them; vetzidkatiy but My righteousness will be le’olam for ever, viyshuatiy and My salvation ledor doriym from generation to generations.
Those who persecute God’s elect remnant of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical), will perish, eaten away slowly, like a moth eating a wool garment. They will be eaten by the worms, an image associated with Gehenna (Mark 9:48). On the other hand, those redeemed and made righteous in the Salvation of Hashem, will dwell forever, from generation to generations in this world and in the Olam Haba (World to Come), life everlasting. The Olam Haba is hinted at by the plural form doriym (generations; or, a perpetually intense generation [eternal]). To say generation to generation (singular) the text would be “ledor ve’dor”, using the singular in both instances of the word “dor”. This is not the case in the present text.
Isa 51:9 Uriy uriy, An awaking (a laying bare, an eye opening, a rousing, an exposing) of Me, an awaking of Me, livshiy-oz put on strength, zeroa arm, shoulder, strength of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy); uriy, an awaking (a laying bare, an eye opening, a rousing, an exposing) of Me, kiymeiy for like days kedem ancient, dorot olamiym the generations of old. For was it not You (God) Who cut Rahab (storm, arrogance, mythical sea beast, Egypt fig.) in pieces, You who mecholelet pierced, defiled, profaned Taniyn the serpent, dragon?
“Reveal thyself, reveal thyself, put on the strength of might from the Lord; reveal thyself as in the days of old, in the generations which were at the beginning: was it not for thy sake, congregation of Israel, that I broke the mighty, that I destroyed Pharaoh and his host, who were strong as a dragon?” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
This is an awakening from God, an exposing, and a laying bare of the faithful remnant of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical). A reminder that Hashem has given them His strength. Thus, “Put on strength….the arm of HaShem…” that is, God’s might and deliverance. In reality the arm of God is the very work of the Messiah (The Servant).
Perhaps the afflicted and disillusioned remnant had allowed their turmoil to cloud their memory of God’s past faithfulness to Israel. Therefore, HaShem reminds them of His delivering them from Rahab (a figure representing Egypt ref. Isa. 30:7). Mitzrayim (Egypt) means “Double distress”. God had delivered Israel from double distress and bondage in the past and He will do it again.
In the later part of verse 9 Isaiah (or the Servant) says, “Was it not you Hashem, Who cut Rahab in pieces and pierced the serpent?” This rhetorical question alludes to the deliverance from Egypt (Rahab) and the Pharaoh (Serpent/Dragon) [Ezekiel 29:3]. It may also be seen to represent the deliverance from Egyptian bondage (Rahab) and from the plague of the serpents, suffered by Israel in the wilderness as a result of her disobedience. However, in addition to these historical examples of deliverance, it is also possible to interpret these symbolic entities as a figurative representation of the deliverance from bondage to sin (Egypt) and the defeat of the ancient Serpent (Satan). Both these forms of redemption are made possible by the Servant King Messiah and His substitutionary sacrifice, His death and resurrection, in the power of HaShem.
Isa 51:10 Is it not You that dried up yam the sea, the meiy waters of the great deep; You Who turned the depths of the yam sea into derekh a way la’avor geuliym for the redeemed to pass over?
The prophet, or the Servant, acknowledge that it is HaShem Who created the inhabitable land of the earth, collecting the waters together to form an area of dry ground (Genesis 1:9), and made the Red Sea crossing possible by pulling back the ocean and leaving a dry path through which Israel crossed over (Exodus 14:21). Additionally, the same mighty arm of God that created the inhabitable land and parted the Red Sea will also dry up the Euphrates river in the latter days as part of the plagues He will bring against the enemies of God and of Israel (Rev. 16:12).
Isa 51:11 Ufeduyeiy And the ransomed of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) yeshuvun will return, and come to Tziyon (Zion, parched land) berinah in crying out; vesimchat and joy olam everlasting will be al upon rosham their heads: sason vesimchah yasiygun they will obtain gladness and joy; nasu yagon va’anachah and sorrow and mourning will flee away.
“Thus the redeemed of the Lord shall be gathered together out of their captivity, and come to Zion with singing; and everlasting joy shall be theirs, which shall not cease: and a cloud of glory shall shadow over their heads; they shall find joy and gladness, and there shall be an end of sorrow and sighing for the house of Israel.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
These words elevate the deliverance of God beyond Israel’s freedom from Babylonian captivity to a yet future point in history when God will deliver Israel from all her enemies and from the ultimate consequence of sin, death. This is why the text speaks not of temporal joy but of everlasting joy, not of relief from sorrow but the complete removal of sorrow.
“He will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.” -Isaiah 25:8 (NIV)
Isa 51:12 Anochiy I, anochiy even I, am He Who menachem’chem comforts you (plural): miy-at who are you, vatireiy that you should be afraid me’enush of man who yamut will die, umiben-adam and of the son of man that will be made as grass;
Isa 51:13 vatishkach and have you forgotten Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) asecha your Maker, Who stretched forth shamayim the heavens, and laid the foundations of the aretz earth (land); and you fear tamiyd continually kol-hayom all the day mipeneiy from faces chamat of the fury of ha-metziyk the oppressor, when he makes ready to destroy? Veayeih and where is the chamat fury of ha-metziyk the oppressor?
The pronoun “I” cannot refer to the prophet Isaiah as some suggest. Isaiah has the words of Hashem’s comfort but the prophet is not the Comforter of Israel. To say so is to blaspheme. God alone (God with us the Messiah) is the Comforter of Israel’s remnant. In fact, our ancient rabbis consider the word Menachiym (Comforter) to be a title of the King Messiah.
The message here is an affirmation of the truth that the fear of God is an end to fear. Those who faithfully serve Him need not fear the insults and persecutions of human beings because all human beings meet their end as a result of sin. On the other hand, God is without beginning or end and His reward is everlasting.
Isa 51:14 Mihar Hurry the tzoeh exiled one lehipateach to be loosed; velo-yamut and he will not die lashachat in the pit, velo and neither will yechsar he lack lachmo bread.
The prophet inspires hope with the promise that the freedom of the Babylonian exiles will soon come about and they will not die in the pits of their imprisonment. This is an equally powerful figurative message for those trapped in sin: for the Servant King Messiah is near to all those who genuinely seek Him, and is always ready to speedily deliver those who in repentance turn to God through Him.
Isa 51:15 Ve’anochiy For I am HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Eloheycha your God (Judge), who roga instantly stirred up ha-yam the sea, so that the waves roared: HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) tzevaot Who goes warring (of heavens armies) is His Name.
This is a reminder that Israel’s God is the only God and the Creator Who is in control of all things. When He speaks, by metathesis, the creation responds. One is reminded of the Messiah’s actions on the Yam Kinneret (the Lake of Galilee):
“37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Yeshua was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The talmidim woke him and said to him, ‘Instructor, don’t you care if we drown?’ 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Sheket! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to His talmidim, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’” -Mark 4:37-41 (Matt. 8:26)
This may also be another reminder of the miracle of the Red sea (Psalm 106:9), and a figurative reminder that God silences both the seas and those who raise a tumult of accusation against His people (Psalm 65:7).
Isa 51:16 And I have put My devariy words in your mouth, u’vetzeil and shaded you in yadiy My hand, kisiytiycha concealing, covering, hiding you, in order to plant the shamayim heavens, veliysod and establish the foundations of aretz earth (land), and say leTziyon to Zion (parched land), You are My people.
“21 ‘As for Me, this is My covenant with them,’ says Adonai: ‘My Ruach who is on you,[a] and My words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, or from the mouth of your offspring, or from the mouth of your children’s offspring,’ says Adonai, ‘from now on and forever.’” -Isaiah 59:21 (TLV)
The Words of God have been placed in the mouth of both the prophet and the faithful remnant of Israel. These Words (Devariym) proceed from HaShem’s Word (Davar), Who is Yeshua, Ha-Davar Emet (The Word of Truth) [John 1].
Verse 6 told of the passing away of the present created order (the heavens and the earth). Now the prophet alludes to a new planting of heavens and earth that will follow the covering and protection of God’s people Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical). Following all this the world will know (Including those parts of the Christian Church who make claims to the contrary) that Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical) remain God’s chosen people.
Isa 51:17 Hitoriy hitoriy An awaking (laying bare, eye opening, exposing) from Me, an awaking from Me, kumi stand up, arise Yerushalayim (Jerusalem, outpouring of peace) who has shatiyt drunk miyad from the hand of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) et-cos the cup of chamato His fury; et-kuba’at the dregs of a cos cup ha-tareilah of the staggering you have drunk, matziyt and drained it.
The need for an awakening, a laying bare, an exposing of things by God is affirmed here. The first call to awaken was directed at all of Israel’s remnant, now the call is made specifically to Jerusalem, the city where God desires to pour out His peace, wholeness, protection and well-being. For years she has laboured under the cup of God’s fury because of her rejection of Him and His loving Instruction (Torah). Now however, Hashem calls her to awaken from her sinful slumber and affliction and stand up. He is not like the comforters of Job who made demands but offered no assistance, to the contrary, when HaShem says “Stand up!” He means, “Respond to my loving arm, and I will lift you up. Embrace My strength, and choose to stand in it. You are no longer a victim, in Me, and through My Messiah, you have overcome!”
“31 What then shall we say in view of these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is the one who condemns? It is Messiah, who died, and moreover was raised, and is now at the right hand of God and who also intercedes for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.”
37 But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.” -Romans 8:31-39 (TLV)
Some ask, “Why does Hashem discipline His children so harshly, and why does He address their sin first rather than the sin of their enemies?”
“29 See, I am beginning to bring evil on the city where My name is called, and should you go completely unpunished? You will not go unpunished, for I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth.” It is a declaration of Adonai-Tzva’ot.” -Jeremiah 25:29 (TLV)
“Hear this word that Adonai has spoken against you, Bnei Yisrael, against the whole family that I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying:
2 “Only you have I known from among
all the families of the earth.
Therefore, I will punish you
for all your iniquities.” -Amos 3:1-2 (TLV)
“For the time has come for judgment to begin with the house of God.[a] If judgment begins with us first, what will be the end for those who disobey the Good News of God?” -1 Peter 4:17 (TLV)
Only a hypocrite disciplines the children of others after having failed to discipline of His own children. God is no hypocrite!
Isa 51:18 Eiyn-menaheil There is none to guide, lead with care, give rest, lah to her mikol-baniym among all the sons (children) whom she has yaladah brought forth; ve’eiyn and none that take her beyadah by the hand mikol-baniym among all the sons (children) gideilah that she has brought up, made great.
Iben Ezra notes that Israel had no king or judge to be guided by at the time of her captivity in Babylon.
In truth, “There is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins” (Eccl. 7:20).
“15 Truth is nowhere to be found,
and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
The Lord looked and was displeased
that there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no one,
he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm achieved salvation for him,
and his own righteousness sustained him.
17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance
and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.” -Isaiah 59:15-17 (NIV)
Isa 51:19 Shetayim heinah These two things are befallen you, miy yanud who will have compassion lach on you? Hashod desolation, havoc, violence ve’hashever and crushing, breaking, ruin, ve’hara’av and the famine, hunger ve’hacherev and the sword; miy by whom anachameich will I comfort you?
The two things befallen Israel are the affliction from the hand of God via her enemies and the lack of help or comfort within her own ranks. These are the two things previously mentioned in verses 17 and 18. The cup of God’s wrath (v.17) and the lack of guidance (v.18).
Alternatively, the two things concern that which follows, the famine and the sword. However, this seems unlikely given that four things follow: desolation, destruction, famine and sword. Thus, the Targum correctly understands that the former two things give way to four things:
“Two tribulations have come upon thee, Jerusalem, thou art not able to arise; when four shall come upon thee, spoiling, and destruction, and famine, and sword, there shall be none to comfort thee beside me.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
Isa 51:20 Banayich Your sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, as an keto antelope michmar in a snare; they are filled with the wrath of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy), ga’arat the rebuke of elohayich your God (Judge).
The sons of Israel’s remnant have no strength to save her because they are reeling from the discipline of Hashem’s wrath against Israel’s sin. The debate over whether the text refers to an ox, an antelope or a bird is moot. If the Hebrew michmar is rendered as snare, then either ox or antelope are acceptable, whereas, if the Hebrew michmar is rendered net (Iben Ezra), then to interpret “bird” is also plausible, although not consistent with the Hebrew to (wild ox, antelope, oryx). The imagery offers the same figurative meaning regardless: Israel’s strong young men are unable to save her because they are bound and weak, caught in the snare laid by their enemies as a result of God’s disciplining of them.
Isa 51:21 Therefore shimiy-na hear Me please, zot you aniyah afflicted, and drunk, but not with wine:
HaShem’s constant Mercy is seen again, offering a conciliatory word to the despondent remnant of Israel. “Please listen, you afflicted and drunk (on the cup of wrath)…”
Isa 51:22 Thus says Adonayich your Lord (Master) HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), veilohayich and your God (Judge) Who yariyv contends amo for His people, Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, lakachtiy I have taken miyadeich from your hand et-cos the cup of hatareilah staggering, et-kuba’at the dregs of cos a cup of chamatiy My fury; you lo tosiyfiy will no more (never) drink it od again, (going round perpetually):
This is what Israel’s God says to Israel. HaShem calls Himself “The Master, Your Mercy, your Judge, Who contends for His people (Israel: ethnic, religious, empirical). Now pay attention, I have taken the cup of My wrath from out of your hand, you will never drink it again!” This is a promise of the future redemption of the entire nation (remnant) of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical) [Romans 11:25-26]. In an immediate historical prophetic sense it applies to the freeing of Israel from Babylonian captivity, however, this cannot be its ultimate prophetic meaning or its plain meaning, why? Because the text reads, “My fury you will never drink again”. We know that Israel has been disciplined since: we also know that there is a time coming when having received our King Messiah Yeshua as an entire remnant nation, we will never again drink the cup of God’s wrath.
Isa 51:23 and I will put it beyad-mogayich in the hand of them that afflict you, who have said lenafsheich to your soul, “Bow down, that we may trample you (go over)”; and you had laid your back out as the ground, vechachutz and as the street, to those who trampled you (go over).
Not only did God put the cup of His wrath in the hands of the Babylonians historically speaking, He also has and will place the cup of His wrath in the hands of Confusion Himself (Bavel, Ha-Satan), and in the hands of all who reject God’s love and pursue the course of the father of lies (Ha-Satan, the Devil). As is seen from the context of the present passage, those who receive this cup are also the enemies of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical), which means that any within the modern Church community who hold to a theology that rejects God’s continued plan for His chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical), are placing themselves in one of two positions: that of severe discipline and a need for repentance, or, that of perpetual condemnation without recourse.
As the text says, those who have walked over the backs of the Jewish people, trampling us and subjugating us throughout history, will receive the cup of God’s wrath.
The imagery used here is more than just figurative, it is literally the way the historical empires of Assyria and Babylon treated their captives. Where is Babylon today? Where is Assyria today? Though they no longer exist as empires, Am Yisrael Chai, the people of Israel live! This in and of itself testifies to the faithfulness of HaShem YHVH, El Elohay Yisrael (God the God of Israel).
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
We must be careful not to allow the light of this fallen world to become our source of solace. Only the uncreated Light of the King Messiah can deliver us from the spiritual darkness in which sin has trapped us. The light we kindle ourselves is often our attempt to earn God, or worse still become gods, whereas the Light of Messiah is a gift that we receive from God. When we seek to ignite ourselves we burn out, but when we are ignited by Messiah, our Light is everlasting.
The previous portion of the scroll of Yeshayahu (Isaiah) concludes with the enemies of Israel (ethnic, religious) devouring themselves and Israel being reminded that HaShem is her Mashiach (Messiah). Isaiah 49 gives important detail concerning the Servant and His identity and sets the stage for greater illumination as to Who He is and what role He will play in the continued purposes of God for Israel and for all humanity.
Verses 1 - 3 of the present chapter are a continuation of the message of 49:22-26, addressed to those exiles who felt that HaShem had finally abandoned them. The primary theme of chapter 50 is God’s unbroken covenant with Israel (ethnic, religious), and an assurance that her captivity is temporary.
Isa 50:1 Koh amar Thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), Where is zeh it, seifer the book, document (gett) of the keriytut divorcement of imechem your mother, asher who I have shilachtiyah sent away? or which of minoshaiy My creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Lo hein Behold, pay attention, ba’avonoteiychem for your perversity (depravity, guilt) you were sold, u’vefisheiychem and for your rebellion (transgression) shulechah imechem your mother was sent away.
“Thus says the Lord, ‘Where is the bill of divorcement, which I gave to your congregation, that she is cast off? Or who is the man, who has a debt against me, unto whom I sold you? Behold, for your sins ye were sold, and for your rebellion your congregation was put away.’” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
This chapter opens with the Divine Name YHVH, which is subsequently proclaimed 7 times, 4 of those times it’s accompanied by Adonay. There is a strong theme of Mercy (YHVH) and Lordship (Adonay). The attributes of God as Merciful Master and Judge are intrinsically linked to His Salvation.
In response to the claim of captive Israel, “HaShem has forsaken me and my lord has forgotten me.” Hashem asks for evidence that He has forsaken and forgotten her. “Where is the gett (divorce document) of your mother, who I have (supposedly) sent away?” This is in direct reference to the Torah (Law of Moses) which requires a man who sends away his wife to give her a bill of divorce (Deut. 24:1). In fact, Israel has no such evidence against HaShem because He has not divorced her, nor has He sent her away.
At first glance this verse seems to contradict the later prophecy of Jeremiah 3:8. However, as Iben Ezra rightly notes:
“The latter (Jer.3:8) refers to the kingdom of the ten tribes, which will never again be established; comp. She shall no more rise (Amos 5:2); but Isaiah speaks of the kingdom of the house of David which will be restored by Messiah.” -Iben Ezra Commentary on the Scroll of Isaiah
All things are established by two witnesses, thus, in the present case a second example is offered to refute the false assumption of the people of Israel. “To which of My creditors have I sold you?” (Exodus 21:7) This is a rhetorical question with a poignant answer. God is in debt to no one! Therefore, He has not sold Israel (His daughter). This truth is followed by the sobering words, “For your own perversity you were sold, and it’s your rebellion that caused your mother to be sent away.” In other words, “You sold yourselves into bondage, and wilfully left your husband without a bill of divorce, because you were unconcerned with the moral obligation of the Torah.”
Isa 50:2 Madua Why, batiy when I came, ve’eiyn was there no iysh man? Karatiy when I called, ve’eiyn there was no oneh answer? Ha-katzor katzerah Yadiy Is My hand shortened at all, mipedut from ransom? Ve’im-eiyn-biy and do I not have choach strength lehatziyl to snatch away, deliver, rescue, save? Hein Behold, bega’aratiy at My rebuke achariyv I make desolate yam the sea, asiym I make neharot the rivers a midbar wilderness (mi from davar the word, thing, essence): tivash degatam their fish stink, me’eiyn from no mayim water, ve’tamot and die batzama in thirst.
HaShem reminds Israel that when He sought to warn her and redirect her she did not respond to Him. The same complaint is levelled against Israel by the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 7:25-26):
“25 from the day your fathers left the land of Egypt until today. Although I sent to you all My servants the prophets, daily and persistently, 26 they did not listen to Me or pay attention. Rather, they stiffened their neck, doing more evil than their fathers.” -Yermiyahu 7:25-26 (TLV)
“Is My hand unable to ransom?” A rhetorical question, of course not.
“Do I not have the strength to deliver?” Again, a ludicrous idea. HaShem has all strength, all power, He alone delivers.
Therefore, HaShem reminds Israel of the ample evidence of His past acts of deliverance on her behalf:
“I dried up the Red Sea (Sea of Reeds)…”
Isa 50:3 Albiysh I clothe shamayim the heavens kadrut with gloom (blackness), ve’sak and with sackcloth asiym I make kesutam their covering (concealment).
This is a reference to God’s mighty works at Sinai:
“In the morning of the third day, there was thundering and lightning, a thick cloud on the mountain, and the blast of an exceedingly loud shofar. All the people in the camp trembled.” -Shemot (Exodus) 19:16 (TLV)
Isa 50:4 Adonay Lord HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has natan given liy me leshon the tongue (language) limudiym of (for, to) the discipled, lada’at to know how la’ut to hasten (sustain) et yaef the weary, fatigued, faint with davar a word: yaiyr he awakes (rouses) ba’boker in the morning ba’boker in the morning, yaiyr he rouses (awakes) liy ozen my ear lish’moa to hear Kalimudiym like (for) all the discipled.
For the first time in this portion the double title Adonay YHVH is used (it is used a total of 4 times in Isaiah chapter 50). As previously stated, this illuminates the connection between God’s Kingship over all things, His specific role as Lord over Israel and His overarching Mercy, which, powered by His love, is the primary source of His Salvation.
Here, the Servant (Yeshua the Messiah) speaks. The words have a similar rhythm to those of king David:
“1 My heart is stirred by a noble theme
as I recite my verses for the king;
my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.
2 You are the most excellent of men
and your lips have been anointed with grace,
since God has blessed you forever.
3 Gird your sword on your side, you mighty one;
clothe yourself with splendor and majesty.
4 In your majesty ride forth victoriously
in the cause of truth, humility and justice;
let your right hand achieve awesome deeds.
5 Let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king’s enemies;
let the nations fall beneath your feet.
6 Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy.” -Psalm 45:1 (NIV)
The use of the Hebrew “limud” (discipled) is unique and differs from Isaiah’s later use of “talmid” (Disciple), additionally, with this in mind it infers the understanding that the speaker has been directly discipled by Hashem (John 7:16; 14:24).
“To know how to sustain the weary, with a word.” The Servant Messiah’s message (davar, word) is one of comfort for the weary (Matt. 11:28). His very essence is the present comfort of all who receive Him (John 1).
“Ba’boker ba’boker” Literally “In the morning, in the morning” is best understood in English as a perpetual rhythm of renewal (waking), that the Servant King Messiah passes on to all who become His disciples. In one sense it infers resurrection, and in another it denotes the idea of everlasting mornings, that is, the Olam Haba (world to come). Thus, the eternal present invades time and space. The doubling of the phrase further affirms the established nature of the Servant King Messiah’s ministry and His connection to the God-head as the ultimate student (limud) of the Father God.
“Then Yeshua answered and said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.’” -Yochanan (John) 5:19
Isa 50:5 Adonay Lord HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has patach opened liy ozen my ear, and I was not mariytiy rebellious, contentious, disobedient, bitter; nor did I turn backward.
This is an intimate phrase that conveys the idea of one whose mouth is in close proximity to the ear he is speaking into. The instruction spoken is weighty and might be rejected by a lesser candidate. But the Servant (King messiah) is neither imbittered by the proposed task, nor does He rebel against the One Who has given Him His calling. The Servant instead choses from the outset never to turn back. The words of Yeshua come to mind:
““No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”” -Luke 9:62 (NIV)
Isa 50:6 Geiviy My back natatiy I gave le’makiym to the smiters, ulechayay and my cheeks to those that pulled out my facial hair; My face I did not hide mikelimot from shame, disgrace, reproach, shame, confusion, insult varok and spittle.
It takes great effort to avoid the striking correlation between the present verse and the treatment of Yeshua the King Messiah:
“Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Yeshua flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.” -Matthew 27:26
“Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, ‘Prophesy!’ And the guards took him and beat him.” -Mark 14:65 [Matt.26:67] (NIV)
This is clearly a description of the flogging and abusing of an individual. Therefore, it cannot refer, as some suggest, to Israel as a nation. Nor is there any record of such treatment of Isaiah the prophet. Additionally, there is no evidence that any other historical figure of the time of this prophecy qualified for the aforementioned beating, which is obviously prophetic of the mysterious Servant. That is, the Servant King Messiah Yeshua.
In spite of the many modern and fanciful polemics written against interpreting the present text of Yeshua the King Messiah, it must be acknowledged that prior to Yeshua’s life death and resurrection, and even in the first few centuries subsequent, our ancient Jewish commentators and rabbis almost universally interpreted this and the other Servant portions of Isaiah as referring to the King Messiah. Therefore, the Jewish reader must as the sobering questions, “Are our modern rabbis and commentators misinterpreting these passages?”, and “If so, is it possible, even probable, that Yeshua (Jesus) is the promised King Messiah of Israel?”
One of my Israeli sons has said, “Yaakov, Yeshua is the goy messiah, he has nothing to do with us.” To which I have responded, “No my dear son, our rabbis have lied to us because of the foolish actions of the goyim and due to their own stubborn pride. Yeshua is the promised King Messiah of Israel, and because He is our King Messiah, according to Yeshayahu (Isaiah) He is also able to save the goyim.”
Isa 50:7 Va’Adonay Lord HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) ya’azor-liy helps me; al upon this kein therefore lo nichlametiy I will not be ashamed: al upon this kein therefore, samtiy I have set fanay my face, like a flint rock, and I know that I will not be eivush put to shame.
Regardless of the suffering the Servant must endure according to His high calling, He knows that in the end He will not be put to shame but will be victorious. He knows equally, that throughout His ordeal God will be with Him to strengthen Him and sustain Him. This is why He has set His eye on the goal and pursues His calling with unmitigated determination.
Isa 50:8 He is near matzdikiy Who justifies me; Miy-yariv who will contend itiy with me? Na’amdah let us stand, remain, endure yachad together: Miy-va’al who is the husband of mishpatiy my justice (judgement)? let him draw near to me.
God is the Judge of all things. It is HaShem Who is near to the Servant and the Servant trusts the justice of HaShem.
“He that justifies me is near to me, who will contend with me?” These words along with the following verse, spoken by the Servant King Messiah, are applied by the New Testament writer Rav Shaul (Paul the Shaliach [Apostle]) as a drash for all believers:
“33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is the one who condemns? It is Messiah, who died, and moreover was raised, and is now at the right hand of God and who also intercedes for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.” -Romans 8:33-39 (TLV)
“Let us stand, remain, endure together: who is the husband of My justice (judgement)? let him draw near to Me.” That is, “The One Who justifies Me stand together with me in unity…” and the rhetorical question, “Who is the Husband of my justice?” The obvious answer is that the One Who justifies is the Husband of the justice of the Servant, that is, HaShem Himself. It is HaShem Who draws near to the Servant King Messiah Yeshua, so near in fact that they are One.
Isa 50:9 Hein Behold, pay attention, Adonay Lord HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) ya’azor-liy helps me; who is he that seeks to condemn me? Hein Behold, pay attention, kulam all of them will like a garment yivlu wear out, ash a moth yochelem will eat them up.
“Adonay Lord HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) helps me…” This is repeated from verse 7 and is an affirmation of the firmly established help that God will give His Servant King Messiah.
“The Master Mercy helps Me, who is he that seeks to condemn Me? Listen up, all who seek to condemn Me will be like warn out old garments eaten up by moths!” -Author’s paraphrase
“Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is the one who condemns?” -Romans 8:33-34 (TLV)
This retrospectively illuminates further the drash of Rav Shaul, in that it shows not only the security of the believer in Messiah but also the destruction of those who oppose the believer. They will be like warn out old garments eaten by moths, why? Because they have rejected the saving work of Yeshua the Servant King Messiah. Thus, they will not receive renewed bodies (garments) at the resurrection (Ha-Din [The Judgement]), rather, they will be tormented in there failing bodies (spiritual, metaphysical) for all eternity (Rev. 20:10-15).
Isa 50:10 Miy vachem Who among you yerei is in awe of (fears, reveres, is afraid of) HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), shomea that obeys bekol in the voice of avdo His servant? He that halach walks in chasheichiym darknesses (miseries), ve’ein nogah and has no brightness (light), lo yivtach let him trust besheim in the name of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), veyishaein and lean on, trust in, rely beilohayv upon his God (Judge).
The Servant is mentioned only this one time in Isaiah 50. Here, the prophet Isaiah calls out those among his people Israel who fear HaShem and are willing to obey the Servant of Hashem. Therefore, the prophet cannot be speaking of himself as the Servant, rather, he admonishes Israel to receive the word of the Servant (King Messiah). The Zohar interprets the Servant of Isaiah 50:10 as “Metatron” the Angel of the Name (YHVH), who is in fact synonymous with both the Angel of the Presence of Exodus and the Holy Name YHVH, and is thus an allusion to the King Messiah (Zohar in Exod. fol. 54. 3.).
To those suffering in the darkness of both physical and spiritual bondage, the prophet says, “Put your trust in the Name of Mercy (YHVH), lean on Him and rely on the goodness of His Judgement, rely on your God (Judge).”
Isa 50:11 Hein Behold, pay attention, kulechem all you kodecheiy that kindle eish a fire, meazereiy who encompass yourselves about zikot with firebrands (flaming arrows, sparks, chains, sparks); walk be’ur in the light eshchem of your flames, uveziykot and among the brands (flaming arrows, sparks, chains, sparks) that you’ve kindled. Miyadiy From My hand hayetah-zot you will have this; lema’atzeivah in a place of sorrow tishkavun you will lie down.
Having offered The Light of The Servant to those suffering in darkness (v.10), the prophet now warns those who kindle their own false light (foreign fire) that there false light (fire) will consume them and God will punish them by laying them down in a place of sorrow (an allusion to the lake of fire of Revelation, and in a temporal sense, to Gehenna (holding place of torment until the judgement) which is in sheol (place of departed souls which is divided into Gan Eden and Gehenna by an unpassable chasm [Luke 16:19-31]).
It is interesting to note that the Talmud says that this passage from Isaiah is repeated to the wicked when the malakhiym (angels, messengers) of God meet them at their deaths (Talmud Bab. Ketubot, fol. 104. 1.).
We note here the correlation made between the false light of the fires kindled by Israelites in the worship of foreign deities, and the foreign (strange) fire kindled by Aaron’s sons (Lev. 10:1). Both result in the destruction of the one who kindles them. The Hebrew “eish zarah” translates as “strange (foreign, adulterous) fire” (Lev.10:1). Thus, there is an inference of infidelity with relation to the lighting of these fires.
We must be careful not to allow the light of this fallen world to become our source of solace. Only the uncreated Light of the King Messiah can deliver us from the spiritual darkness in which sin has trapped us. The light we kindle ourselves is often our attempt to earn God, or worse still become gods, whereas the Light of Messiah is a gift that we receive from God. When we seek to ignite ourselves we burn out, but when we are ignited by Messiah, our Light is everlasting.
© 2019 Yaakov Brown
Speaking to ethnic Israel God says “for I will contend with him that contends with you, and I will save your children.” Beware then, you Christians who reject God’s continued purpose for ethnic, religious Israel. For He contends for us!
Chapters 49 – 57 of Isaiah are referred to by some theologians as the second part of Isaiah (Though the scroll in its complete form predates any attempts to claim multiple authors [a revisionist nonsense]). These chapters (although there are no such divisions in the scroll of Yeshayahu) focus on “The Servant of The Lord” (42:1-7; 49:1-13; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12). However, there is much debate over who the Servant is, not only between Jewish and Christian scholars but also between Jewish scholars and rabbis, and between Christian theologians and pastors. And even, one might say, in the confused minds of those who over think the Scripture and miss its meaning entirely by perpetually debating with themselves.
Almost every debate entered into over the identity of the Servant in these passages offers a choice between the King Messiah and the people of Israel (ethnic, religious), with the less common addition of the prophet Isaiah himself, as the third possible candidate. Thus, proponents of the Messiah (and or Isaiah) school of thought call these chapters the “Servant Prophecies”, while opponents call them “Prophecies of Zion (Israel)”. In some of the following chapters a conclusion to the debate over this false choice “Israel/Isaiah or Messiah?” is hindered by the eclectic poetry, historical context, grammar, pronouns, prophetic nature and dating of the Hebrew text.
While it’s true that some portions of the following chapters (passages) must be clearly defined one way or the other, it’s not true of all of the Servant passages. In some cases, the answer is simply “Both” or “All three”. After all, Messiah is the ultimate Jew, for whom Isaiah is a figure only: as such Messiah is the perfect example of Israel’s calling to be a light to the nations. Therefore, He is both the representative of the entire nation of Israel (including Isaiah), and the unique King Messiah and Redeemer of Israel (ethnic, religious) at the same time. In one sense He is Israel (ethnic, religious), and in another, He is her Savior, Redeemer, and the Mighty One of Yaakov.
Isa 49:1 Shimu Listen, hear, receive, obey iyiym coastlands, Islands (of the Mediterranean), eilay to me; ve’hakshiyvu and pay attention, le’umiym you peoples, from faraway: HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has called me mibeten from the womb; mime’eiy from the inner parts of imiy my mother hizkiyr he has remembered, made mention of shemiy my name:
The first question we ask is, “Who is speaking here?” This first sentence can be applied to Isaiah, Israel and the Messiah. There is no need at this point to demand that it refer to one over the other. However, as we progress we will find that the greater context of Isaiah allows for only one conclusion. As I noted in the introduction, the Servant is both the representative of the entire nation of Israel (including Isaiah), and the unique King Messiah and Redeemer of Israel (ethnic, religious) at the same time. The famous Jewish commentator Iben Ezra adds Isaiah the prophet to the options for “Servant”. Again, Isaiah qualifies at this point, both as the prophet who literally prophesied these words and as one whom God has called from the womb. However, in light of the following verses, Isaiah, like Israel, becomes the subject of the Servant’s redeeming work and is therefore disqualified from being the Servant.
The coastlands/Islands mentioned here are the coastlands of the Mediterranean ocean. The phrase “you peoples far away” is added to include all the nations and peoples of the earth. This proclamation is for all humanity.
“Peoples, from faraway” Iben Ezra rightly notes that these words can also apply to those peoples yet future, who will hear the words of the prophecy in the time to come. This fits perfectly with the Messianic aspects of the prophecy and the redemption of both Israel and the nations through the Servant King Messiah.
“The Lord has called me from the womb” This can be said of each of the Servant candidates. Each has a Divine calling and purpose. However, the servant Israel and the servant Isaiah both owe their very existence to the Servant King Messiah, in Whom all things exist and have their being (Col. 1:16-17; John 1:3).
“From the inner parts of my mother he has remembered, made mention of my name:” In one sense this is true of every human being. We should keep in mind that the Hebrew zachor infers an act of intentional recollection and can be applied to the past, present and future. On the other hand, it is literally true of both Isaiah (whose name was fixed and given to him by the Lord, while he was in his mother's womb [Isaiah 7:14]) and of the Servant King Messiah Yeshua (Jer. 1:5; Matt. 1:21; Luke 1:31).
Having said all this, the Servant mentioned here is clearly the same Servant alluded to in Isaiah 42:1:
“Behold, now, pay attention to My Servant, Whom I uphold; my chosen, in Whom my soul delights: I have put my Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.”
Therefore, neither Isaiah nor Israel (the people) qualify, for they are both sin affected and are incapable of bringing “Justice to the Nations”.
Isa 49:2 Va’yasem and He has made (placed) piy my mouth ke’cherev like a sword chadah sharpened; betzeil in the shadow of his hand He has hechbiyani withdrawn, hidden, hardened me: vaysiymeiniy and He has made (placed) me le’cheitz as an arrow barur purged, purified, polished, chosen, cleansed, made bright, tested, proved; in His quiver He has histiyraniy hidden, concealed, kept me close:
“And He has put His words in my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His power has He protected me, and He has made me like a choice arrow, which is hidden in the quiver.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
“He has made my mouth like a sword sharpened;” Iben Ezra notes that the sword imagery alludes to the sharpness of the prophet’s words against both Israel and her enemies. He further observes that the shadow of God’s hand gives a picture of the scabbard from which the sword is drawn. This is interesting given the later allusion to cutting into the palms of God’s hands, and the role that the Servant plays in becoming a covenant of the people of Israel (neither instance could be applied to the prophet Isaiah). In short, Iben Ezra’s observation is correct but the subject of his observation is incorrectly identified.
The reality is that while this verse might be applied to Isaiah (Who is himself a type for the Messiah), it is more accurately interpreted of the Servant King Messiah Yeshua, Who is the Davar Emet (Word of Truth [John 1]), and from Whose mouth the sword of God’s actionable word proceeds (Rev. 19:15).
“And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”-Ephesians 6:17
At this point it becomes increasingly difficult to apply the text to the entire nation of Israel: for, while in a general sense one might make allowance for the fact that Israel may one day be redeemed and perform her righteous high calling, it is clear that she is herself the subject of the Servant’s redemptive work. Verse 5 makes it clear that the Servant is tasked with returning Yaakov (Israel) to God, therefore, Israel cannot be the Servant.
“In the shadow of his hand He has withdrawn, hidden, hardened me:” This cannot apply to Isaiah or Israel except in the sense of God’s protection. However, the imagery conveys both protection and secrecy. The Servant is One Who has been kept hidden from both Israel and the nations. Therefore, the Servant cannot be Israel or the prophet Isaiah. This part of verse 2 best describes the promised Servant Messiah (Isaiah 52:13-53:12), to Whom Isaiah has already alluded (42:1).
"Satan said before the Holy One, blessed be He, ‘Master of the World! The light which is hidden under your throne of Glory, for whom is it?’ He said to him, ‘For him who will turn you back and disgrace you, and shame your face.’ He (Satan) said to him, ‘Master of the World! Show him to me.’ He (God) said to him, ‘Come and see him.’ When Satan saw the Messiah, he trembled and fell upon his face and said, ‘Surely this is the Messiah who in the future will cast me and all the princes of the nations of the world into Gehenna.’" -Pesiqta Rabbati page 161a
Iben Ezra notes, that the phrase, "he has hidden me", corresponds to the scabbard of a sword. From a Messianic perspective this shows perfect continuity.
“He has made me as an arrow; purged, purified, polished, chosen, cleansed, made bright, tested, proved;” Once again this is a description of One devoid of blemish and cannot therefore be applied to Israel or the prophet Isaiah.
A tested, sharpened, polished and refined arrow slides through the air with little more than a whisper. Only those who are alert and expecting the arrow’s arrival will note the sound of the wind (Ruach) that accompanies it.
“In His quiver He has hidden, concealed, kept me close:” The quiver, like the shadow of God’s hand, is the hidden place of preparation. The arrow, like the Servant, is hidden from Israel and the nations until the appointed time.
Isa 49:3 Vayomer and He said liy to me, “Avdiy-atah You are My servant; Yisrael (Overcome in God), in whom I will etpa’ar be glorified, seen beautiful, adorned.
“He said to me…” The “He” is HaShem, and the “me” is the Servant.
Up to this point the Servant is clearly an individual and only represents Israel by way of identification with Israel as a representative of her. It would be foolish therefore to conclude (out of context) that the “Israel” of verse 3 is a reference to the entire nation (except of course in relationship to the Servant by way of representation).
Iben Ezra writes:
“That is, ‘You are an Israelite of whom I am proud;’ or, ‘You are Israel, you are esteemed in My eyes, like all Israelites together.’ I prefer this explanation.” -Iben Ezra Commentary on Isaiah
One of the best descriptions regarding an individual representing an entire group of people is recorded in 1 Corinthians:
“ For just as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of the body—though many—are one body, so also is Messiah. For in one Ruach we were all immersed into one body—whether Jewish or Greek, slave or free—and all were made to drink of one Ruach. For the body is not one part, but many.” -1 Corinthians 12:12-14 (TLV)
It’s worth noting that it’s on Israel’s behalf that the Servant King Messiah affords her the opportunity to overcome and that she overcomes only in God. Therefore, the Servant King Messiah is Imanu-El, with us, God (Isa.7:14), Who causes Israel to Yisra, overcome, El, in God.
“In Whom I will be glorified” God speaks of bringing glory to Himself through the Servant King Messiah (Who is a Jew of the tribe of Judah, of Israel and therefore represents Israel [ethnic, religious]).
“4 I glorified You on earth by finishing the work that You have given Me to do. 5 Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world came to be.”6 “I have made Your name known to the men of this world that You gave Me. They were Yours; You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.” –(Yeshua) John 17:4-6 (TLV)
Isa 49:4 Va’aniy And I said, “I have laboured in vain, le’tohu for emptiness, confusion, unreality ve’hevel and vapour I have spent my strength; yet surely mishpatiy the justice that is mine et is with HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), ufeulatiy and my wages et with Elohay my God, Judge.
Now the Servant speaks, either to himself or in response to God.
The personal pronoun eliminates the possibility that this could be Israel the people speaking. Thus, in light of the varied interpretations, it is either Isaiah the prophet (Iben Ezra) or the Messiah.
The words are not of complaint as some suggest, but rather an observation of fact, either past present, future or all of the aforementioned. In the case of Isaiah, he has proclaimed the word of God to a people who stubbornly refuse to accept it and repent. In the case of the Messiah, the same is true, with the exception of the remnant that received Him.
The Hebrew text conveys in poetic terms, a description of frailty, even death, followed by justice, even resurrection.
“Yet surely the justice that is mine is with HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), and my wages with Elohay my God, Judge.” In one sense this could be applied to Isaiah as a man of integrity and Godly submission. However, it more accurately applies to the Servant King Messiah, Who possesses justice, hence, “justice that is Mine”.
Isa 49:5 And now says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) yotzeriy that formed me mibeten from the womb le-eved lo to be His servant, le-shoveiv to return Yaakov (Follower, Jacob) to Him, ve’Yisrael and Israel will be gathered, ve’ekaveid and glorious be’eiyneiy in the eyes of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), veilohay and my God (Judge) hayah has become uziy my strength, my boldness, my power, my security;
“And now says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) that formed me from the womb to be His servant, to return Yaakov (Follower, Jacob) to Him…” It’s at this juncture that all debate over who the Servant might be must end. After all, Israel (Yaakov) cannot return herself to God, nor can she gather herself. Nor has Isaiah been tasked with or manifested the mechanism for Jacob’s (Israel’s) return to God. We know that only by the shedding of blood can Israel be truly reconciled to God. Thus, the Servant must offer a covenant of blood in order to return Jacob to HaShem (49:8). Therefore, neither Israel the nation nor the prophet Isaiah qualify. Verse 5 describes none other than the Servant King Messiah Yeshua.
Yeshua (Though pre-existent, and transcendent post resurrection) was none the less born into time and space. Seeded by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Myriam (Mary) and hence, by way of His humanity, was formed in His mother’s womb. He came to fulfil what the prophet Isaiah had spoken of Him, to offer Himself, sinless, as a covenant for the redemption of Israel (ethnic, religious) and the nations.
“Israel will be gathered, and glorious in the eyes of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), and my God (Judge) has become my strength, my boldness, my power, my security;” This second clause speaks of the redemption of the entire nation of Israel (ethnic, religious) following their return to God through the Servant King Messiah Yeshua (Romans 11:26).
The only way that Israel can be restored to a position of glory in the eyes of HaShem is by blood atonement and the remission of sin.
Alternatively, if the Servant is the subject of the glory, then the text is referring to the glory God imparts to the Messiah as a result of the Messiah giving all glory to the Father God.
Isa 49:6 Vayomer And He said, “nakel It is a light, trifling thing for you to become liy eved My servant le’hakim to raise up et-shivteiy the tribes of Yaakov (Follower, Jacob), unetzureiy and to preserve Yisrael le’hashiv to return her: I will also give you le’or for a light goyim to nations, lihyot to become yeshuatiy My salvation ad as far as ketzeih the end of ha-aretz the earth (land).
The opening clause could be paraphrased as, “It is but a small beginning to My greater redemptive purpose, that you My Servant should be the one to raise up the tribes of Jacob and preserve (among the nations) Israel, returning her to Me: further still I give you as a light (uncreated) [Luke 2:32] to nations, to become My Salvation (yeshuah) to the ends of the earth.”
As can be seen from the use of the verb “yeshuah” (salvation), there is an intrinsic link between the Servant and God’s Salvation. Hence the name of the Servant King Messiah “Yeshua”, Salvation Himself.
It is nonsense to suggest that Cyrus could be meant here. Israel is being returned, not only to the land but to God, in right relationship. Cyrus made it possible (by God’s direction) for Israel to begin her physical return to the land but only a few took up the offer (historical). He did not lead the Jews back to the land, nor did he return them to God. It is therefore ludicrous to suggest that this passage refers to Cyrus. The desperation of those who seek to misinterpret the text this way can be seen as nothing less than an intentional rejection of the obvious, that it refers to the Servant King Messiah Yeshua, Whose life and ministry fit perfectly into the redemptive Messianic form prophesied by Isaiah.
Isa 49:7 Thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), go’el (Kinsman) Redeemer of Yisrael, and kedosho his Holy One, livzoh-nefesh to a despised soul, to one abhorrent to goy a nation, le-eved to a servant mosheliym of rulers: “Melakhiym Kings will see vakamu and rise up; sariym princes, ve’yishtachavu and they will bow down; le’ma’an for the purposes of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) asher Who ne’eman is faithful, Kedosh Holy One of Yisrael, vayivcharech who has chosen, elected, decided on you.”
These words are pretext to the more extensive prophecy of the despised and suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). As will be seen in our study of the latter prophecy, the suffering Servant can be none other than the King Messiah Yeshua.
While aspects of the present verse may be applied to Isaiah the prophet and to Israel as a people, there are certain details that disqualify them both.
First, the Hebrew says, “a despised soul, one abhorrent to a nation” and not “nations”. Israel has been abhorrent to many nations throughout her history, the Servant however, will be specifically abhorrent to the majority of “a nation” , that is the singular nation of Israel (a goy). This is because He claims to be Imanu-El, with us God, and gives His life for an atoning offering covering all sin. For the majority of Jews of the first Century CE, this made Yeshua abhorrent, a heretic and a blasphemer.
Second, “Kings will see and rise up, princess will bow down.” Kings don’t rise to nations or to prophets but to another King. Likewise princess do not bow down to nations or to prophets but to their betters, in this case, a King of Israel (The Servant Messiah Ben David [Yeshua]). Therefore, the despised soul in question cannot be Israel or Isaiah but is in fact the suffering Servant King Messiah Who will be revealed in greater detail in Isaiah’s latter prophecy 52:13-53:12.
"The Holy One, blessed be He, will tell him (the Messiah) in detail what will befall him... their sins will cause you to bend down as under a yoke of iron and make you like a calf whose eyes grow dim with suffering and will choke your spirit as with a yoke, and because of their sins your tongue will cleave to the roof of your mouth. Are you willing to endure such things?... The Messiah will say: ‘Master of the universe with joy in my soul and gladness in my heart I take this suffering upon myself provided that not one person in Israel shall perish, so that not only those who are alive be saved in my days, but also those who are dead, who died from the days of Adam up to the time of redemption.’" -Pesikta Rabbati, Piska 36.1; Zohar II. 212a
“25 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; 26 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.
27 And this is My covenant with them,
when I take away their sins.” -Romans 11:25-27 (TLV)
Isa 49:8 Thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), “Be’et In a time ratzon acceptable aniytiycha I answered you, u’veyom and in a day of yeshuah salvation azartiycha I have helped you; ve’etztzarecha and I will guard, watch over you, ve’etencha and give you livriyt for a covenant of am a people, le-hakiym to raise up eretz a land, lehanchiyl to cause them to inherit nechalot heritages shomeimot desolated:”
The Servant is still being addressed by God, however, now the focus is clearly on the redemption of Israel, to be affected by the Servant. Therefore, the Servant cannot be Israel because she is being redeemed through the covenant provided in the Servant. Nor can the Servant be Cyrus, who made no such covenant.
“In a time acceptable I answered you, and in a day of yeshuah salvation…” This HaShem says to the Servant Who has been hidden in the shadow of God’s palm awaiting the appointed time which the prophet here writes as “a time acceptable”. Once again the use of the Hebrew “yeshuah” is an allusion to the Messiah whose proper name is Yeshua (Salvation).
“I will guard, watch over you, and give you for a covenant of a people, to raise up a land, to cause them to inherit heritages desolated:” The Servant is to be given as a covenant of a people, that people being Israel (ethnic, religious). As a result of this covenant, they will be returned to God in right relationship and they will see the promises of God concerning the Land of Israel fully filled, and the lost heritage of their dispersion restored in Godly purity for the Olam Haba (World to come).
The Servant is Himself a briyt (covenant, cutting, blood shed). Only Yeshua qualifies.
"Does not atonement come through the blood, as it is said: For it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life!" [Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 5a referring to Vayikra (Leviticus) 17:11 in the Tanakh]
“In the same way, He took the cup after the meal, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you.’” -Luke 22:20 (TLV)
Isa 49:9 Say la’asuriym to those in bondage, “tzei’u Go forth; la’asher to them bachoshekh in darkness, higalu uncover (show) yourselves. Al-derachiym On ways (paths, directions) yiru they will feed (graze), u’vechol and upon all shefayiym smooth heights mariytam they will be pastured, shepherded.
“The people walking in darkness
will see a great light.
Upon those dwelling in the land of the shadow of death,
light will shine.” -Isaiah 9:1(2) (TLV)
God commands the Servant to proclaim to those in bondage (physical and spiritual) to go forth out of Babylon (Confusion) and to proclaim light to those in the darkness (both physical and spiritual darkness), commanding them to uncover themselves (an allusion to repentance).
The Servant will feed and shepherd the freed captives of Israel on high table land and return them to security in God in the land (of Israel). This is prophetic of Israel’s escape from Babylonian bondage (historical) and of her deliverance from the confusion of sin through the Servant King Messiah Yeshua (Yet future: Romans 11:26).
Isa 49:10 They will not hunger nor thirst; neither will the heat or sun strike them: kiy for merachamam He that has mercy, compassion on them will lead them, even by mabueiy springs, gushing forth of mayim water (waters) yenahaleim He will guide them, lead them, give them rest.
“14 Then he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 For this reason, they are before the throne of God, and they serve Him day and night in His Temple. The One seated on the throne will shelter them. 16 They shall never again go hungry, nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne shall shepherd them and guide them to springs of living water, and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes.” -Revelation 7:14-17 (TLV)
“They will not hunger nor thirst; neither will the heat or sun strike them …” The scorching desert winds of the middle east are one of the greatest dangers to travellers. Therefore, the imagery here has great significance. There would have been times in Israel’s journey back from Babylon when water was scarce or supply had run out. This very thing happened to the Israelites on their journey out of Egypt. However, God promises Israel enough food and water for their entire journey. Further to this He assures them that He will provide shelter and shade from the intense heat of the Sun.
“He that has mercy, compassion on them will lead them, even by springs, gushing forth of water (waters) He will guide them, lead them, give them rest.” The Hebrew “Merachamam” is perhaps better translated “mercies, compassions, loving kindnesses…” It is YHVH, Mercy Himself that has compassion on them, and He is present to lead them as the Servant.
Notice that HaShem Himself will lead them. This is an allusion to the cloud of the presence in which the Malakh HaShem the Angel of the Lord (Yeshua) had lead Israel out of bondage and toward the promised land (Exodus 13:21-22).
The present God with us Imanu-El (Isa. 7:14; 8:8; Matt. 1:23), the Servant King Messiah will not only give water but gushing, flowing, unquenchable waters of living that sustain everlasting life beyond the desert journey.
There is something extremely valuable to be learned here. When Hashem sets us free from sin and darkness through the Servant King Messiah, there will be a journey through desert (the remainder of this life) but we will not make this journey alone. Mercy Himself leads us, we will not hunger or thirst, nor will we be tested beyond our ability to bear up under the heat of the sun of this sin affected world: we will be sheltered and warm in the sub-zero night temperatures, and we will be shaded and cool beneath His Sukkah (tent) in the scorching heat of midday. However, in order to enter this provision, we must first uncover our darkness, expose ourselves to the Light of Messiah and accept His hand. For some the alternative of remaining in darkness feels a safer option, it is not. It is better to brave the desert with a faithful guide than to remain in the cool shelter of the cave, with darkness as your only companion.
Isa 49:11 Vesamtiy And I will make (place) col-haray all my mountains ladarech for a way, umesilotay and My raised roads (highways) yerumun will be exalted.
Generally speaking the roads of the middle east are made through passes and on lower ground. Here, the imagery is essentially depicting the lowering of mountains to meet the elevation of the roads in order to create a straight level path to Jerusalem (Zion).
Isa 49:12 Hineih-eileh , Behold, now, pay attention to these (things, ones) meirachok who will come from far, distant, remote (places: Aotearoa, Pacific Islands, Jungles of Peru etc); ve’hineih-eileh and, behold, now, pay attention to these (things, ones), mitzafon from the north (Modern Russia/Europe/Scandinavia etc.) u-miyam and from the body of water/Ocean/ Mediterranean (west: modern Rome, Greece etc.); and these from meieretz the land of Siniym (Thorns: To the East, Modern China, India etc. Or, to the South re: Sinites Gen. 10:17).
This verse illuminates the greater prophetic nature of this passage by showing a deliverance that will supersede that of the deliverances from Egypt and Babylon. Israel (ethnic, religious) is still the subject of this deliverance, however, rather than being delivered from Babylon alone, the people of Israel will one day be delivered back to the Land of Israel from every corner of the earth. Thus, this verse elevates the prophecy to a time yet future, beyond the deliverance from Babylon, when all Israel (ethnic, religious) will be returned and saved, not in a physical sense only but in a spiritual sense also. It will be a deliverance from sin and darkness, and it will be made possible only through the Servant King Messiah Yeshua.
Isa 49:13 Ranu Overcome, cry out, shout, shamayim heavens; ve’giliy and rejoice, aretz earth; u-fitzchu and break out hariym mountains into rinah shouting, overcoming cry: for HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has nicham comforted amu His people, and will have yeracheim mercy upon His afflicted.
In the previous chapter we are told of the heavens and the earth standing at the call of Hashem (Isa.48:13). Here, creation cries out for the revealing of the children of God (Rom. 8:19).
Why will creation cry out? She will cry out in joyous exclamation as she watches the Comforter Menachiym comfort amu His people Israel (ethnic, religious), and observes Mercy Himself (YHVH) having mercy on those among them who have been afflicted by sin and bondage. And how will creation overcome? She will overcome through the redemptive work of the Servant King Messiah and the purging, renewing, atoning and restoring power of His eternal blood.
And what is comfort? The Hebrew nacham means, consolation, an opportunity for repentance, a coming along side in sorrow, and an end to regret.
And what is Mercy? The Hebrew racham means, to have compassion, to love deeply, and to show tender affection.
Isa 49:14 And Tzyion (Zion, parched land) said, “HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has forsaken me, vadoniy and my Lord has forgotten me.”
Israel (ethnic, religious and still in Zion pre-exile at the time of this prophecy) responds from her self inflicted suffering and hurt. It is as if she had said, “You give me all these prophetic promises of freedom from affliction but in my present reality all I see is pain and hopelessness, it’s as if you’ve forgotten me.” This is of course tragically ironic, given that it was Israel who had forgotten HaShem, and not the other way around.
Isa 49:15 Can ishah a woman forget her ulah sucking child, and meiracheim not have mercy on ben-bitnah the son of her womb? Gam again, these might forget, ve’anochi yet I will lo not eshcacheich forget you.
The God Who cannot lie or change His mind affirms His faithful and everlasting love for His chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious). The greatest of intrinsic human connections is alluded to and then amplified. Even if it were possible for a nursing mother to forget her suckling child (be it through drug addiction, postpartum depression or by any other means), it is impossible for the all-knowing God of creation to forget His child Israel (ethnic, religious). More so, forgetting here, infers wilfully ignoring one’s child. God intends that it be understood that He wilfully remembers Israel, she is ever before Him. Those who claim that the Church has superseded (replaced) ethnic Israel as the chosen (elect) people of God must take warning. God will not be mocked, repent now before something far worse than delusion overtakes you.
Isa 49:16 Hein Behold, al-capayim on the faces of my hands chakotiych I have cut out, engraved, inscribed, set, governed you: chomotayich your walls negdiy are before Me tamiyd continually.
HaShem takes the woeful complaint of His people very seriously. The imagery of the nursing mother is immediately followed by another inseparable image. We are reminded that when something is doubled in the Hebrew text it denotes the fact that it is firmly established.
“Behold, on the faces of my hands I have cut out, engraved, inscribed, set, governed you…”
It is a desecration to say “tattooed”, as some do. Tattoos are forbidden to the Jewish people (Lev. 19:28), and God (in any form) would never defile Himself this way. The Hebrew text speaks of God cutting into His palms, something that might also be considered forbidden to the Jews (Lev. 19:28) were it not for the counterpoint of atonement and self-sacrifice. Thus, substitution is inferred and the obvious correlation to the nail scared hands of the Messiah is discovered.
“Your walls are before Me continually.” If a concept doubled is firmly established, then a concept tripled is everlasting. Here, HaShem reaffirms the perpetual nature of His undying love and fidelity toward Israel (ethnic, religious). Not only does He show Israel the love of a perfect Mother, He has given Himself as a substitute (Imanu-El) for her sake and further still promises to be her unflinching guardian. The walls of Jerusalem were built for her protection, and rise or fall they were always and will always be before Hashem. He never takes His eyes of the walls that surround His chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious), neither physically nor figuratively.
Biblically speaking, walls are designed to protect the inhabitants of a city from enemies, both physical and spiritual. A modern physical example of a wall that protects Israel is the wall that runs along the border of the (so called) Palestinian Authority. Many well-meaning Christians want to see this wall torn down. They say that it is an obstacle to peace (What ignorant nonsense). Their opinions are not informed by the Bible or the Holy Spirit but by popular world (fallen) opinion, and modern historical events (like the Berlin wall, the construction of which correlates in no way whatsoever to the building of the wall of defence in the conflict between the Israelis [Jews] and the [so called] Palestinians).
In fact, since the construction of the modern Israeli wall thousands of Jewish lives have been saved from the continual anti-Semitic hate crimes of Palestinian terrorists who target and murder Israeli citizens (Through suicide bombs, shootings, stabbings etc) for no other reason than that they are Jews. The Palestinian cry “From the river to the sea” seeks the annihilation of the 6 ½ million Jews living in the land of Israel today: hence the wall. Though many Christians and countless other secular citizens of the world today may call for the tearing down of this wall, God’s eye is on it, why? Because speaking to Zion (The Jewish people) Hashem says “Your walls (plural) are continually before Me”. Make no mistake, those who side against or take a neutral stand toward Israel (the people, the state, the land), are siding against God and His Servant King Messiah. This is the very definition of what it means to be Anti-Christ.
Having said this, the walls that will remain are spiritual, and are born of Salvation (Yeshua) Himself:
“In that day, this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
“We have a strong city.
He appoints salvation
as its walls and ramparts.” -Isaiah 26:1
Isa 49:17 Miharu He hastens nanayich your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren etc; your destroyers and those laid waste to you will go out from you.
He hastens the return of Israel’s children and removes Israel’s enemies from her.
Isa 49:18 Seiy-saviyv Lift up, look in a circuit with einayich your eyes, u’reiy and see: kulam all these (ones, things) gather themselves together, and come to you. Chay-aniy As I live, ne’um declares HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), kiy surely chulam all of them will become ornaments, clothing, utekashsheriym and you will bind yourself with them, kakalah like a bride.
These verses 17 through 24 describe the return of captives to Zion, both historically from Babylon and in a yet future time from all over the earth (of course, this has already begun).
The imagery of binding invokes the practice of donning tefillin (prayer boxes), and adds a prayer element and a sacredness to the return of Israel’s children. The correlation to the ornaments of the bride sheds light on the marriage of the Lamb (Messiah) and the union of all who believe, both Jew and Gentile.
The phrase “Chay-aniy ne’um HaShem” As I live declares YHVH, Is an immutable affirmation of God’s faithfulness to Israel. His eternal uncreated existence is the basis for His oath to her. He will gather her and redeem her, and she will be adorned with her children (Prov. 17:6) le’olam vayid Forever perpetually.
"all these shall be unto thee as a garment of glory, and their works in the midst of thee as the ornament of a bride.'' -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
Isa 49:19 Kiy For, your waste and your desolate places, ve’eretz and your land that has been destroyed, surely now tetzeriy will be too narrow, distressed, cramped for the inhabitants, and those who swallowed you up will be far away.
This is a poetic way of saying, “Though the cities and towns of Israel were once left desolate with few Jews inhabiting them, now they will be devoid of enemies and overflowing with Jews so that it seems they are cramped.”
Isa 49:20 Od continually going round, they will say in your ears, beneiy the children you have after those you’ve lost, “Tzar-liy It’s too narrow, cramped for me, Ha-makom The place (Temple Mount); geshah-liy draw near to me, ve’eisheivah and I will sit, remain, dwell, abide.”
Once again, the Temple Mount Ha-Makom (The Place) will overflow with Jews coming to worship, so that the children born to Israel after the ones whom she lost so tragically, will say, “There are so many Jews here it’s cramped.” This is a positive (for lack of a better term) problem. Notice that the “cramped” language is alleviated by the phrase “draw near to me, and I will remain.” This may be attributed to the returned captives and is therefore a statement of repentant contentment. Alternatively it may be attributed to Hashem, in which case it is an invitation to intimacy.
Isa 49:21 Then you will say bilvaveicha in your core, inner being, heart, “Miy Who has begotten me these (things, ones), seeing that I have lost my children, vegalmudah and am barren, golah an exiled one, vesurah and turned aside? and who has gidel grown (brought up) these (ones, things)? Hein Behold, aniy me, nishartiy I was left levadiy alone; these (ones, things), where were they?”
Then the returned captives of Israel will say in awe of God’s goodness, “Who has given me these children in place of those I lost during my time in bondage, when I felt that I had been forgotten and turned aside? And who has brought these children to faithful maturity in HaShem? Where were they when I felt as though I had been abandoned?”
Isa 49:22 Thus says Adonay the Lord HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), “Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, I will lift up my hand to the goyim nations, and to amiym peoples, tribes ariym raise up nisiy my ensign, banner, signal pole, sign, standard to the peoples; and they shall bring banayich your sons be’chotzen in their bosom, lap, arms uvenotayich and your daughters will be carried upon their shoulders.”
God’s response to the returned of Israel is spoken under the titles Adonay Lord, Master YHVH the Lord Mercy. “I have heard your awe and incredulity and now say, pay attention! Your return to Zion is just the beginning, I will make My Servant King Messiah a sign to all nations and as a result they will bring the remnant of your children to the land of Israel, cradling them in their bosom, caring for them as if they were sacred vessels, why? For My Names sake!”
Notice that God will make His Hand of Salvation (Yeshua) a sign to both nations (political) and tribes (ethnic, cultural). God will lift up His Son the Servant King Messiah on a pole like the snake adorned pole of Moses (Num. 21:7-9)), and all who look to Him will be saved.
Isa 49:23 “And melachiym kings will be omenayich your faithful, support, vesaroteiyhem and their queens your nursing mothers: they will bow down to you with their apayim faces to the eretz land (earth), and lick the dust of your feet; and you will know that Aniy I am HaShem (YHVH: Mercy); and they that kovay wait, hope, expect, look for Me will not be put to shame.”
In beautiful poetic form the Hebrew text makes a correlation between the imagery of verse 15 and the Queens of the earth, who will nurse Israel’s young by proxy as instruments of God.
Here, the supplication of the rulers of the nations is seen coming from both the male and female rulers. They will both nurse and bow down to the children of redeemed Israel (ethnic, religious), and will, in repentance, humble themselves to the lowest possible degree (to lick the dust of a former enemy’s feet is the greatest act of humility in ancient middle eastern culture).
Isa 49:24 Will the prey be taken from the mighty, or the tzadik righteous captives be delivered?
Israel, suffering in the land and looking captivity down the barrel at the time this prophecy was spoken, now ask, “How is it possible that we could be delivered from the mighty enemies that surround us? Not even the righteous among us, whose deeds are approved before God could expect to be delivered from their captivity.”
Isa 49:25 Kiy Surely thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), “gam Even the captives of the mighty will be taken away, and the prey of the terrible will be delivered; for I will contend with him that contends with you, and I will save banayich your children.
Again God responds in mercy offering surety, “You ask how it’s possible, I tell you I am that I am and I will do it. The strongest of your captors will be defeated and you will be set free, even those of you already in the jaws of a lion will be delivered and free of injury.”
Speaking to ethnic Israel God says “for I will contend with him that contends with you, and I will save your children.” Beware then, you Christians who reject God’s continued purpose for ethnic, religious Israel. For He contends for us!
Isa 49:26 And I will feed them that oppress you with their own flesh; and they will be drunk with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and chol-basar all flesh will know that Aniy I, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), am Moshiyeich your Saviour, ve’goaleich and your Redeemer, aviyr the Mighty One of Yaakov (Follower, Jacob).”
How will all flesh know that HaShem is God, The Messiah and Redeemer of Israel, the Mighty One of Yaakov? He will feed the oppressors of Israel (ethnic, religious) with their own flesh. He will turn the wicked upon each other and they will be consumed in their own hatred.
In the conclusion to this passage we see the union of HaShem and the Servant King Messiah Yeshua. Hashem calls Himself Mashiach Messiah, specifically, speaking to Israel He says “I YHVH am Moshiyeich your Messiah”. Thus, He shows that the Servant Messiah is echad one with Him.
“For they have poured out the blood
of kedoshim and prophets,
and You have given them blood to drink--
they are deserving!” -Revelation 16:6 (TLV)
“17 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!” 19 Also I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the One who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and along with him the false prophet who had performed the signs before him by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast, as well as those who had worshiped his image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the One riding on the horse. And all the birds gorged themselves with their flesh.” -Revelation 19:17-21(TLV)
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
Unlike the created elements (which cry out for the revealing of the sons and daughters of God [Romans 8:19]), human beings are prone to disobedience. Thus, the heavens and the earth shame us with their willing and prompt obedience to the command of God.
Having rebuked Babylon, HaShem now turns to His chosen people in their captivity. His message is an intimate challenge, a fierce rebuke and a promise of a redemptive act of grace. He does not prophecy Israel’s deliverance as a reward for her righteousness. To the contrary, He calls out her sin and her stubborn self-destructive behaviour, concluding in the end that it is for the sake of His own Name (Because the redemption of humanity relies on His Name being honoured) that He will deliver her from captivity.
Isa 48:1 Shimu-zot Listen, hear, understand, obey this, Beit-Yaakov house of Jacob (follower), Ha-nikraiym the called be’sheim in/by the name Yisrael (Israel: overcome in God), u’mimeiy and waters of Yehudah (Judah: praise) yatza’u come forth; who ha-nishbaiym make oaths be’sheim in/by the name of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), u’veiloheiy and in the God of Yisrael, but yazkiru lo you call not ve’emet out in truth, ve’lo and not vitzadakah in righteousness, right action, charity.
“Hear and receive this message house of followers, those called out to overcome in God, and you waters of praise, come forth; you who make oaths in the Name of Mercy Himself, and according to the Judge of those who overcome in God, but you don’t call out in truth, nor in righteousness.” -Author’s paraphrase
The general theme of this opening verse correlates to words formerly prophesied by Isaiah:
“So Adonai says,
“Since these people draw near with their mouths
and honour Me with their lips,
yet their hearts are far from Me,
and their fear of Me is a mitzvah taught by men.” -Isaiah 29:13 (TLV)
Israel is guilty of professing a connection to HaShem while acting in an entirely contrary way. “Among the nations My Name because of you…” (Isaiah 52:5; Romans 2:24).
Israel (ethnic, religious) is instructed to “Shimu” listen, hear and receive the truth of God’s word to her through the prophet Isaiah.
Three names are given for Israel, each showing a step in both the physical and spiritual growth of the nation. Yaakov the follower of God meets the “Man” with Whom he wrestles and from Whom he eventually receives the blessing of redemption, thus becoming Yisrael, the one who overcomes in God. Following the division of the northern and southern kingdoms and the exile, first of the ten tribes and subsequently of Judah (& Benjamin), the entirety of the tribes (all 12) would inevitably return to the land under the title of Yehudiym (Jews). This is one of the primary reasons for the allusion to the waters of Yehudah (Judah), who come forth from Babylon and return to the land of Israel, the twelve tribes united under the name of the tribe from which the King Messiah was prophesied to come.
“The scepter will not pass from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until He to Whom it belongs will come.
To Him will be the obedience of the peoples.” -Bereishit (Genesis) 49:10 (TLV)
HaShem is calling Yaakov to follow Him out of captivity in Babylon (confusion). He is calling Yisrael to remember that only in God can she overcome. He is reminding Yehudah that the tribes of Yisrael have been split and exiled but that HaShem will reconcile them under the tribe and King of Yehudah. HaShem calls Yehudah to offer praise for all that He has done in her, so that the world might know that the God of Yehudah, of Yisrael and of Yaakov is One, Creator and King of the universe.
“Who make oaths in/by the name of HaShem, and in the God of Yisrael, but you do not call out in truth, nor in righteousness.”
The Hebrew ha-nishbaiym meaning, the solemn requesting of sevens (oaths, completions, fullness) comes from the root sheva (seven). The exiled Jews were invoking oaths on themselves in God’s Name and expecting to reap favourably results through said oaths, while living sinful, Godless lives, even in their captivity. The writer is making it clear from the beginning that it is not for Israel’s sake that God will deliver her but rather for the sake of His Name, which He has placed upon the people of Israel.
Yeshua says to the religious leaders of Israel in the 1st century CE:
“Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
‘These people honour me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’” -Mark 7:5-7 (TLV)
Isa 48:2 Kiy Because (for) mei’iyr a city (alt. from anguish) ha-kodesh the holy nikra’u they call themselves, ve’al and upon the Eloheiy God of Yisrael nismachu they rest; HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot Who goes warring (of hosts) shemo is His name:
This is the first time in the Tanakh that Jerusalem is referred to as “The Holy City”. The post exilic prophet Nehemiah later affirms the title (Nehemiah 11:1).
In one sense the text is saying that the exiles identify themselves with the Holy city of God, while in another sense the text literally says that they consider themselves to be a Holy city. In both cases pride is the mitigating factor.
The city of Jerusalem, is called the Holy city because the temple of HaShem is located there, God had placed His Name there, thus, it is considered the residence of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore, the exiles of both Judah and the remaining tribes (Israel) considered themselves, not only children of Jacob, and of the tribe of Judah, but as inhabitants of Jerusalem, the holy city, both literally and figuratively. Given the extent of Israel’s sin at this point in her history, her claims show great hubris and a sad lack of repentance. However, while God’s children may dishonour and reject Him, He is none the less incapable of dishonouring or rejecting His children.
It seems that in spite of their sinful behaviour they have none the less continued to pay God lip service, even to the extent of resting on the belief that He will redeem them regardless. However, the God Who goes warring (Adonai Tzevaot), will remind Israel yet again of the fact that He disciplines the ones He loves. Thus, in freeing her He will also discipline her both on her way back to the land and in the land upon her return.
“The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet they lean upon HaShem, and say, Is not HaShem in the midst of us? no evil shall come upon us.” -Micah 3:10
Isa 48:3 Ha-rishonot The former (heads of) things mei-az from time (of old) past higadtiy I have declared; u-mipiy and from My mouth yatzeu they went forth, ve-ashmiyeim and I caused them to be heard: suddenly asiytiy I fashioned, accomplished, did them, and they came to pass.
“The former (heads of) things from time (of old) past I have declared”. God had declared from the beginning of the people of Israel, from the head of the Hebrews, our father Abraham, to whom God spoke of what would come; that we would sojourn in Egypt, the land of double distress, be enslaved there, and come out in freedom with great wealth: being brought into the land of Kena’an (Canaan: lowland, humility), toppling the inhabitants and driving them out (albeit ineffectively due to our sin)[Gen. 15:13].
“And from My mouth they went forth, and I caused them to be heard…” These things were told to Abraham by the Word of God’s mouth and were passed on to the subsequent generations of the father of faith both in blood and in spirit.
“Suddenly I fashioned, accomplished, did them, and they came to pass.” Historically speaking, what God had promised to Abraham, He did quickly, and all that was prophesied came to pass precisely as it was foretold; not one thing which HaShem had spoken into time and space, failed (Joshua 21:45).
In part this is the Godly counterpoint to the Godless invocation of blessing. Where Israel had invoked undeserved blessing, contemptuously, God had none the less previously promised blessing and fully filled it (Sheva: complete, full, seven).
Isa 48:4 Because I knew that you are kasheh obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew, and your forehead brass;
A twofold pride is alluded to here. The neck of iron elevates the head, both literally and figuratively, meaning that both the individual and the leaders of the community (therefore, the community as a whole) were prideful in their self-assessment and in their assessment of the nation. Additionally, the forehead of brass infers spiritual pride. The forehead bore the symbol of prayer (Head Tefillin) and denoted the cleansing of the Word (Torah). However, the brass forehead of the exiles was unable to receive the Word (which resided in the Tefillin) because their minds were closed off to God. They were simply reciting tropes, mindless incantations devoid of practiced Godly spirituality.
Iben Ezra says that “the second person refers to those Israelites who do not believe in God”. However, the prophet does not make this distinction. After all, it is quite possible for a person to believe in God and yet exhibit pride and ignorance in relating to God and others.
“You believe that God is one, great: the evil spirits have the same belief, and tremble in fear.” -Yaakov (James) 2:19
Isa 48:5 Va’agid And it was made conspicuous to you meiaz from of old; be’terem before tavo it came to pass hishmaticha I made it heard by you; lest you should say, ‘Atzebiy My idol asam has fashioned, accomplished, done them, ufisliy and my carved image, ve’niskiy and my molten image, tzivam has commanded them.’
Hundreds of years before the nation of Israel existed, HaShem had spoken of their journey as a people, first to Abraham, then Isaac and eventually in the midst of them He spoke through Moses and the prophets. Thus, “From of old”, and long “before it came to pass”. Why? So that the accurate prophecies of God could not be claimed by the false gods that Israel had turned to. The Israelites could not deny the evidence of God’s faithfulness, provided throughout their generations.
“My idol fashioned them” is the false claim that acts as a counterpoint to the truth of HaShem’s statement that He “fashioned them” (v.3). The Hebrew asam (fashioned etc.) is from the root asah meaning to make (out of something pre-existing).
“My molten image commanded them” is the false claim that acts as a counterpoint to HaShem’s statement, “I have declared; and from My mouth they went forth”.
Isa 48:6 Shamata You have heard; chazeh behold culah all this; ve-atem and you (plural), ha-lo will you not tagidu declare it? hishmaticha I made it heard by you, chadashot new things meiatah from now, u-netzurot even guarded (hidden) things, which you have not yedatam known.
Israel has not merely heard, but has been made well aware of the miraculous deliverances of God. Each generation has witnessed His proclamations, miracles and fulfilments. Now (in the preceding chapters) Isaiah has prophesied the destruction of the Babylonian empire, and the deliverance of the Jews by Cyrus; things that have not yet come to pass, which were hidden in the mind of God, and unknown to Israel prior to the prophesies of Isaiah.
Isa 48:7 Now they are nivreu created, and not from of old; velifneiy-yom and before the face of this day you had not heard of them; lest you should say, ‘Hineih Behold, yedatiyn I knew them.’
“They are created”. The new, redemptive events being prophesied are not made (asah) from things pre-existing, rather God is creating (bara) them from that which has not yet been accomplished. In other words, this is an affirmation of the fact that God continues to participate within His creation in order to bring about the perfection of His redemptive purposes for Israel and humanity through His Son the King Messiah Yeshua. Due to the newness of what God will do, no one can claim to have known of it beforehand. We must remember that at the time these words were prophesied Cyrus had not yet been born, thus, these new things could not possibly have been fathomed by Israel.
Isa 48:8 Gam Also, lo-shamata you didn’t hear; gam also, lo yadata you didn’t know; gam also, meiaz from of old lo-fitechah azenecha your ear was not opened: kiy yadatiy for I knew you bagod tivgod to be deceitful in thought and action, ufosheia and a rebel mibeten from the womb this is what you were called.
This is a rebuke that exposes the extreme lack of faith and expectation among the idolatrous Israelites. Not only did they fail to listen, they also lacked the basic faith to receive what the prophets told them because they had placed their faith in foreign gods. God knew that they would reject His love and would rebel against Him, even from their inception as a nation.
Isa 48:9 Le-ma’an For the sake Shemiy of My Name, will I defer apiy My flaring nostrils (anger), utehilatiy and for My praise (renown) I will refrain for you, so that I don’t cut you off.
“For My Name’s sake” is quite literally the case. Yisra-El literally contains a name for God “El”. The name of the people Yisra (overcome) El (God), conveys the redemptive plan of God for humanity. Thus, because the very salvation of the repentant relies on the integrity and honour of God’s Name, He must show Himself faithful in spite of Israel’s faithlessness. Therefore, God will never completely cut off the Jewish people. Not because we are perfect, nor because we chose Him, but because He is faithful and chose us.
Isa 48:10 Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, I have refined you, but not ve-kasef as silver; becharticha I have chosen, elected, decided on you be’chur in the furnace of oniy affliction, misery, poverty.
“Behold, I have refined thee, but not in the crucible of silver; I tried thee in the distress of poverty.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“I have refined you by the exile” -Iben Ezra
“I have refined you by taking away the dross, that is, the wicked” -Iben Ezra
We note that the Hebrew in its plainest sense does not speak of trying Israel in affliction but rather of choosing Israel in her affliction. It is the choosiness of Israel that is accentuated because of the One Who chose her and not because she has learned obedience from her having been tried. The rebuke of the earlier verses makes this abundantly clear. In spite of her captivity she has still yet to learn her lesson in regard to God’s redemptive love for her.
Having said this, it is clear from the figurative language that Israel is being refined for several reasons. First and foremost, so as to bring the attention of the nations toward the God Who alone can offer deliverance from sin, and second, to show that God disciplines and refines those He loves. He remains faithful even when His people are unfaithful.
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful,
for He cannot disown Himself.” -2 Timothy 2:13
Isa 48:11 Le’ma’aniy For My sake, le’ma’aniy for My purpose, I will e’eseh fashion, accomplish, do it; for how should my name be yechal profaned, defiled, polluted, desecrated? U-chevodiy And My glory I will not give to another.
“For my name's sake, for the sake of my Word, that it may not be profaned, I will do it, and my glory in which I have revealed myself unto you, I will not give to another people.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
It is for the sake of both the Name of HaShem (Mercy) and the application of His work (The Messiah), that HaShem will not allow His Name to be profaned, nor will He give the glory due Him to another.
Interestingly, the Targum illuminates the Davar (Word, logos, Messiah), and attaches the revelation of God’s glory to the people of Israel, saying that God will not allow His glory to be made manifest in this particular way on any other people. This understanding is consistent with the Scripture as a whole, and provides a platform for better understanding the intrinsic link between God’s coming Kingdom and the Temple Mount.
Isa 48:12 Shema Hear, receive, obey, listen to Me, Yaakov (follower), and Yisrael (Overcome in God) mekoraiy My called: Ani-hu I am He; I am rishon first, also I am acharon that which follows perpetually (the last, the goal).
Again God calls Israel by several prophetic titles that reveal both her physical and spiritual journey. Yaakov the follower and Yisrael the overcomer are reminded of the calling of the chosen people and of the One Who called her.
“I am the first and the perpetual goal”. The Hebrew rishon (first) is related to rosh (head) and denotes God’s Kingship (Headship) over all things as well as alluding figuratively to the King Messiah as head over the body of believers. God is not only the uncreated beginning of all things, He is also the perpetual goal and continuation of all things (Rev. 1:8). It appears that God describes Himself in these terms through the prophet in order to remind Israel that He is the Creator of the universe and that His choosing of her is part of a much grander plan for the redemption of the repentant from among all of humanity.
Isa 48:13 Af Surely, yadiy my hand yasedah founded, established, laid the foundation of eretz earth, viymiyniy and my right hand has spread out shamayim the heavens: when I call to them, ya’amdu they stand up yachdav together, in union.
“By wisdom Adonai founded the earth.
By understanding He established the heavens.” -Proverbs 3:19 (TLV)
“My hand established the earth, and My right hand has spread out the heavens.” (Isaiah 40:12) The hand of God is a figure for strength and the right hand the multiplication of power. Iben Ezra and Kimchi interpret the creation of the earth of the left hand, and the work of the heavens they ascribe to the right hand; inferring that the heavens are of greater importance due to them being the perceived dwelling place of God, Who is outside of all things (Vid. T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 36. 2.). However, this is a distinction without a difference given that God is uncreated and that the heavens and the earth are both created entities within the universe that exists in God. Therefore, the debate between Hillel and Shaminai over which came first, the earth or the heavens, is redundant, for as R. Simeon ben Yochai rightly observes, according to the text, they were both created together (Vid. T. Bab. Chagigah, fol. 12. 1.).
“When I call to them they stand up together in union.” The personification of the created order serves to remind the reader that God commands all things in the same way that He commands humanity. However, unlike the created elements (which cry out for the revealing of the sons and daughters of God [Romans 8:19]), human beings are prone to disobedience. Thus, the heavens and the earth shame us with their willing and prompt obedience to the command of God. In addition, the created elements respond in union to the command of God: they show distinction devoid of separation. They are united in essence while unashamedly maintaining their uniqueness.
Isa 48:14 Assemble yourselves, chulechem all of you, u-shamau and listen, hear, receive, understand; who among them has declared these things? HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has loved him, ya’aseh has fashioned, accomplished, made cheftzo his desire be’va’vel on Babylon (Bavel: confusion), and his arm against the Kasdiym (Chaldeans: increasers).
HaShem calls the collective captives of Israel and Judah together to hear and receive the truth of His words.
“Who among them has declared these things?” Which of all the idols has been capable of the kind of prophecy God has displayed? This is of course rhetorical, the answer is “None!” “These things”, are the prophesied events that concern the redemption and salvation of Israel.
“HaShem has loved him, He has fashioned, accomplished, made his desire on Babylon, and his arm against the Chaldeans.” Who is the “him”? First, in the plain sense of the text and with deference to the historical context, the “him” is the yet to be born Cyrus of Persia. Second, and in respect of the perpetual nature of Hebrew prophecy, the “Him” is a figurative allusion to the Messiah and His redemptive work that frees all who will turn to Him from confusion (Babylon).
Isa 48:15 Aniy Aniy I, even I, dibartiy I have spoken; af indeed, keratiyv I have called; haviy’otiyv I have brought him, ve’hitzliach and successful, prosperity, advancement to his darko way, road, distance, journey.
The emphatic doubling of “Aniy” (I, Me, I am), is intended to convey the certainty of what is going to happen. HaShem has brought Cyrus to affect the deliverance of Israel, and therefore, will prosper the work of Cyrus in spite of the fact that Cyrus was a heathen king (albeit a king whose heart became soft toward the God of Israel and the plight of the Jewish people).
Isa 48:16 Kir’vu Come near, draw close eilay to Me, shimu-zot you, hear, listen, receive this (f.); lo not meirosh from the head (beginning) ba’seiter in hiding, covering, shelter, secrecy have I spoken ba’seiter; from the time it came to pass, there Aniy I am: and now the Adonaiy Lord HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) shelachaniy has sent me, ve’rucho and His Spirit.
“Draw near to Me.” This intimate phrase requests a greater depth of communication. God is seeking a face to face meeting as it were.
“I have not spoken in secret from the head (beginning).” This is intended to call Israel to account. They have witnessed God’s prophetic word and His miraculous deliverances throughout their generations. Therefore, they are without excuse. As the text states, He has not hidden His word from them.
“I am: and now the Lord HaShem has sent me, and His Spirit.” All the linguistic and interpretational gymnastics in the world cannot change the plain meaning of this verse. It is HaShem that is speaking, therefore, it cannot be Cyrus who speaks the latter clause. The “I am” is God, how then can God send Himself? The text says, “I am: and now YHVH has sent me”, this finds a correlation in the words of David, “The YHVH said to my Lord…” (Psalm 110:1). Cyrus did not bring with him the Spirit of HaShem, rather he was spurred on by God’s Spirit. There is only one person who qualifies for the role of being sent in the way described here: Yeshua the King Messiah. He qualifies because He is both God with us Imanu-El, and the One through Whom God imparts His Spirit to the Jew first and also to the nations. Thus, in the middle of a prophecy of near future deliverance for the Jewish captives in Babylon, HaShem also seeds a prophecy for the yet future deliverance of the Jewish people from the confusion (Babylon) of sin.
Isa 48:17 Thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), Goal’cha your Kinsman Redeemer, the Kedush Yisrael Holy One of Israel: I am HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Eloheycha your God, me’lamedcha Who teaches you le’hoiyl to profit, benefit you, mad’riychacha who leads you be’derek in the way teilech you go.
This incredible list of titles for God must bring the reader to attention. God makes known some of His primary attributes and characteristics in these beautiful names. He is demanding the attention of Israel and of all humanity.
YHVH – Mercy
Goel – Kinsman Redeemer
Kedush Yisrael – Holy One of Israel (those who overcome in God)
YHVH Eloheycha – Mercy your Judge
Always, His Mercy precedes His judgement. He offers Himself as Redeemer. He reminds Israel and the world that He is the God of Israel (ethnic, religious). Finally, He shows Mercy to the repentant and brings judgement against the wicked.
HaShem also takes on the role of Israel’s teacher. This He does for her benefit. He leads Israel be’derek in the Way she should go.
Isa 48:18 Lu If only hikshavta you had heard, heeded, hearkened to My lemitzvotay commandments (instruction to right action)! Then chanahar like a river shelomecha your peace, wholeness, well-being would have been, ve’tzidkatecha and your righteousness kegaleiy as the billowing waves of ha-yam the sea (body of water):
It is because of Israel’s disobedience that she found herself in captivity. If Israel had obeyed the instruction of HaShem and kept His commandments, she would not have been enslaved and afflicted.
There is a spiritual principal here for all believers. If we love Him and keep His commandments we will reap rivers of peace, wholeness and well-being, and as a result we will impart righteousness, our right action will flow forth from His presence in us and will be like billowing waves, powerfully shifting the ocean of life.
Isa 48:19 Zarecha Your seed (sowing) also had been as the sand, ve’tze’etza’eiy and the offspring (issue) of mei’echa your womb (internal organs) like the grains of sand: lo yikareit not cut off ve’lo yishamed and not destroyed shemo his name, from before Me.
Israel’s population had diminished in captivity due to her disobedience. However, God will not cut off the name of Israel from before Him. Why? Because His Own great Name is on her.
Isa 48:20 Go forth mibavel from Babylon (confusion), flee mikasdiym from the Chaldeans (increasers); be’kol in a voice rinah ringing out, crying out, hagiydu make known, hashmiyu zot convey this (f.), utter it even ad ketzeh to the furthest extremity of ha-aretz the earth (The Land): you should say, ‘HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has ga’al redeemed avdo His servant Yaakov (follower, Jacob).
“Go forth out of confusion, flee from increasing; in a voice that cries out, make known in murmur and in volume, to the extremities of the earth: say, ‘Mercy Himself has redeemed His servant the follower (Yaakov, Israel).’” – Author’s paraphrase
Even before her captivity, and in retrospect during her captivity, Israel hears and reads the promise of her redemption: Mercy precedes Judgement.
Note that the prior verse says, “The name of Israel (ethnic, religious) will not be cut off from before Me.” And, the current verse, “HaShem has (past tense) redeemed Israel (ethnic, religious).” God is zealous for His chosen people Israel, fierce in His love for her, and His promise of redemption is spoken in the past tense because from His perspective it has already been accomplished and has come about in the eternal present.
Isa 48:21 And they did not thirst bochoravot in the deserts, desolations, waste lands holicham when He led them; He caused mayim waters to flow mitzur from the rock for them; vayika-tzur He split, divided, broke the rock also, vayazuvu and gushed out mayim waters.
As is so often the case, HaShem reminds Israel of His provision for her as she came out of Egyptian bondage. In the plain sense the prophet is speaking of a correlation in the provision God would bring to those escaping from Babylon and returning to the Land of Israel, and the historical journey of Israel in her escape from Egyptian bondage.
The use of the specific symbol of waters is significant. Messiah is the Mayim Chayim (Living waters) of God. The use of the symbolism of the rock is also important. God is the Rock of Israel’s security. Thus, the living waters of the Messiah flow forth from God our Rock. Notice also that allusion is made to the splitting of the Rock. The Rock Himself suffered the pain of redemptive sacrifice in order to offer the waters of living to His people.
Isa 48:22 ‘Eiyn shalom There is no peace, wholeness, well-being,’ says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), ‘la’reshaiym to the wicked, criminal, one hostile to God, guilty one.’
Finally, a strong warning to those who might reject God’s loving redemptive offer. First to the Jews and also to the nations (in this case, specifically Babylon).
“There is no peace, wholeness or well-being given to the wicked, those who reject God’s love.” Why? Is it because God is punitive? Of course not! What is the result when one person rejects the love offered by another, and subsequently walks away from them and seeks out a lifestyle of self-abuse and torment? In this case, is the person who offered the love guilty of sending the one who rejected it into torment? Of course not! Torment results when we refuse genuine love for the sake of selfish gain. God is just, and therefore, there must be a place of punishment. He is also loving and merciful, therefore, He offered Himself as a substitute for us so that we might be freed from the punishment we deserve. However, if we refuse His offer of substitution and the love that goes with it, it is not His fault. Love cannot exist without free will. Therefore, God does not send people to eternal punishment, rather, those who end in perpetual torment have chosen to be there.
Such is the hatred, pride and wickedness of Satan, that if he were offered a place in the world to come, providing he submitted to the love and governance of God, he would refuse outright, why? Because he wants to be King without it costing him anything. On the other hand, God is King, and has willingly paid an incomparable price to set His subjects free, a cost paid in His own blood: making it possible for His subjects to become His sons and daughters. Satan seeks to subjugate, God seeks to dwell alongside, Satan seeks to promote himself, God seeks to promote love. Satan fails, God has already succeeded.
© 2019 Yaakov Brown
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,