The fact that God is in control of both good and evil is an assurance that He will silence evil forever and that the goodness of this present life will one day be eclipsed by the all surpassing goodness of God’s character. Evil is subject to God but God is not subject to evil!
Isa 31:1 Oy Grief, hope, heart wrenching woe, to hayrediym those descending to Mitzrayim (Egypt: double distress) for help, relying on horses for support, vayivtechu and trusting in rechev chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but they look not unto the Kedosh Holy One of Yisrael (Overcomes in God), neither do they darashu seek, enquire of, resort to HaShem (YHVH: Mercy)!
“but they stay not themselves upon the Word of the Holy One of Israel, neither seek instruction from the Lord.” -Targum Yonatan Isaiah 31:1b (2nd Century CE/AD)
Rashi interprets this verse of Hoshea and the ten tribes, who sent emissaries down to Egypt (2 Kings 17). However, this doesn’t fit with the context and geographical language of the prophet’s rebuke, which is focused on Judah and the Holy Mountain in Zion.
The main theme of this chapter is a continuation of the previous one, and emphasizes the folly of Judah’s trusting in human strength rather than in God.
The phrase “those descending” finds its counterpart in God’s descent upon mount Zion (v.4). Judah descends into distress and God descends to deliver her.
The prophet warns of the natural outcome of trusting in fallible human beings and the strength of the fallen world rather than in God Who is infallible and all sufficient (Shadday). The horse and chariot were the armoured vehicles and tanks of their time. The Biblical Hebrew word rechev meaning chariot is also the modern Hebrew word for an armoured vehicle. Not only has Judah put her trust in armament, she has also relied on the great numbers of chariots, and has mis-concluded that numbers equate to true strength.
The heartbreak of God for His wayward people comes through strongly in the latter part of the first verse, “but they look not unto the Kedosh Holy One of Yisrael, neither do they darashu seek, enquire of, resort to HaShem (YHVH: Mercy)!” We could read, “They don’t look to the holiness of Israel, neither do they diligently seek Mercy.” Israel’s set apart status, her holiness, her very identity is in God (El).
Isa 31:2 And also He is chacham wise, skilful, and will bring ra injury (evil), and will not call back His devarrayu words, things, essence, but will arise against the house of the mereiiym (from ra: evil) evil-ones, and against the help of those who make trouble.
The understatement, “And also He is wise” which refers to HaShem, is intended as a stark contrast to the wisdom of the wise ones of Egypt.
HaShem is in control of all things, He directs the forces of evil and allows the consequences of fallen actions to unfold. We read elsewhere that God “sent an evil spirit to torment Saul” (1 Sam. 16:14-15 see also Judges 9:23 re: the men of Shechem and Avimelekh). Therefore, it is unwise to presume that the enemy (Ha-Satan) has independent power to do evil. If evil is not under God’s control the alternative is a dualistic view of good and evil that offers only a fifty fifty chance of good overcoming evil. The fact that God is in control of both good and evil is an assurance that He will silence evil forever and that the goodness of this present life will one day be eclipsed by the all surpassing goodness of God’s character. Evil is subject to God but God is not subject to evil!
Deuteronomy 28:58-68 details the consequences for Israel if she fails to obey the Torah. The end to those consequences is the promise that she will return again to Egypt and bondage. These words of the Torah are not “called back”, to the contrary, Judah has in fact pursued the very punishment promised her in the Torah. All this as a result of refusing to listen to and obey the “words, essence, things” of God. In terms of both remez (hint) and sod (mystery) this equates to a refusal to accept God’s Davar Word (Messiah: John 1).
Notice that God brings evil against evil-ones. This is another way of saying He has given them over to the consequences of their own sinful actions.
Isa 31:3 Now the Mitzrayim (Egypt: double distress) are adam human, and not El God (a god); and their horses are bashar flesh, and not ruach spirit, wind: and HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) will stretch out His hand, and he that helps will stumble, and he that is helped will fall, and they will all be consumed together.
The Egyptian culture was saturated with spiritual views that allowed for the deification of human beings. In particular the ancient belief that their Pharaohs were gods. Thus, the reminder to Israel that she had already seen the defeat of these so called gods when she was delivered from them during Pesach (Passover). The Egyptians were human, of the fallen sin affected creation and not gods: their horses were flesh, vulnerable to death and not spirit (eternal).
“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” -Yeshua (John 4:24 NASB)
With an ironic turn of phrase Isaiah drives home the message, “God (Who is spirit) will stretch out His hand”. Both Judah and those in whom she has sought security will fall together. Historically this came about when the king of Assyria destroyed Egypt as part of his larger campaign which included his unsuccessful besieging of Jerusalem. Thus, Ben Melekh interprets “spirit” to refer to the Angel of The Lord (Who decimated the Assyrian army overnight as they camped against Jerusalem [2 Kings 19:35]).
Isa 31:4 For thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) to me, “As the lion and the young lion growling over his prey, if a multitude of shepherds are called against him, he will not be afraid at their voices, nor be occupied with the noise of them: descending HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (Goes warring) of hosts litzbo will go to war upon Har-Tziyon mount Zion, and upon her hill.
God is likened to both a seasoned older lion and a young lion that growls over its prey. The shepherds are the wicked leaders of both the Judeans and the Egyptians, and further, the Assyrian invaders. God will go to war on, not against (as some foolish Christian scholars suggest) mount Zion in order to destroy the wicked and protect the holy remnant among the ethnic-religious children of Israel. HaShem descends to deliver the righteous from the descent of the wicked.
Isa 31:5 As birds afot hovering (lighting upon), so will HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (Goes warring) of hosts be upon Yerushalayim to defend and deliver her, pasakh He will pass over and affect her escape.
First like a roaring lion HaShem fiercely consumes the wicked, and now as a constant guardian He looks down upon, rests upon and keeps lookout over His people (ethnic-religious Israel) for her defence and security. He has purposed to deliver her and will once again pasakh pass over her in protection. That same passing over will be terror to Israel’s enemies just as it was to the Egyptians in the past. Thus, the destruction of the Assyrians by the Angel of The Lord almost certainly occurred during Pesach Passover (2 Kings 19:35).
Isa 31:6 Shuvu Turn to Him from Whom you have deeply sarah withdrawn, b’nei children of Yisrael (Overcome in God).
In the familiar pattern of his scroll Isaiah speaks an opportunity for returning, deliverance, and reconciliation. Judah and Israel have deeply withdrawn from right relationship with God, in Whom they find their identity. The message is simple, “Return!”
Isa 31:7 For bayom in the day hahu that one (the he) they will cast away everyone his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which your own hands have made bringing you guilt.
This speaks of that yet future day when Israel will cast away her idolatry and return to HaShem (Isaiah 30:22; 27:9; 17:8; 2:20).
Isa 31:8 And cast down will be the Ashur Assyrian becherev by the sword, lo isyh not of a man; vecherev lo adam and the sword, not of a human, will tochalenu devour him (Assyria), burn him up; and he will flee mipeneiy from the face of a cherev sword, and his young men shall become forced labourers.
Only a short time (historically speaking) after Isaiah prophesied these words they literally came to pass (2 Kings 19:35).
HaShem did not use a sword of human origin but a sword of the spirit, a sword wielded by His Angel.
Sennacherib king of Assyria fled from the face of the sword of the Angel of Hashem and was himself cut down by Adrammelech and Sharezer in Nineveh in the temple of his god Nisroch (2 Kings 19:37).
Isa 31:9 vesaleo And his rock mimagor from terror will pass away, and his princes will be shattered mineis by the miracle, sign, banner,” says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), Whose Or Light (fire) betziyon is in Zion, vetanur and His furnace (stove, cooking pot) is in Yerushalayim (Down pour of Peace).
“His rock” means that the strength of Assyria and of all subsequent enemies of God and Israel, will pass away before the terror of Hashem. We note that the princes of Assyria and therefore, symbolically, all future enemies of God and His people, will be shattered by the “neis” miracle whose light is in Zion (Isaiah 30:17).
Translating “Or” as fire is more figurative than literal. In fact this same word is used to describe the light of the beginning that issues from the mouth of God prior to the existence of the sun and moon (Genesis 1:3). This light is distinguished as being set apart and is intrinsically connected to our Messiah, Who is the Davar (word essence) of God (John 1). It is no coincidence that the city Ur, the origin of Abram, is spelled with the same Hebrew characters and means “Light”. Thus, figuratively speaking, Abram is born again as Abraham through the same Light that was present at the beginning of creation.
Therefore, both the Neis miracle and the Or Light are the manifest work of Messiah Yeshua, Who through the miraculous redeeming work of His death and resurrection, has become a beacon, a standard, a miracle of Israel’s deliverance, not only from physical enemies (yet to be fully filled) but more importantly from the enemy of our souls, Ha-Satan. This miracle of Yeshua has shattered the princes of darkness and has illuminated to all who have walked in darkness the reality that the Or Light of Messiah Yeshua, God with us, has been in Zion all along.
The heat of the furnace of God’s wrath is fearful punishment to the enemies of God but it is the warmth of deliverance to His children, purchased with the blood of His Son, our King Yeshua the Messiah. As a result, we receive the Downpour of Peace, the unification of both the Heavenly and earthly Jerusalem. Echad ve’echad asah echad ad olam, one and one made one until forever.
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
It’s in returning to God (repentance), and by resting in Him, that Israel receives salvation (Yeshua). Many convey the Gospel of our Messiah in complicated terms but the truth is that right standing with God is as simple as admitting our sinfulness and accepting His sacrificial love, outworked through Yeshua our King Messiah. Our salvation comes to us through returning and quiet acceptance.
The theme of the next two chapters is Judah’s choosing to seek an alliance with Egypt for protection against Assyria rather than relying on the Lord to deliver her.
Our Jewish sages are divided on who the recipient is: some say that Isaiah is rebuking king Hezekiah of Judah, others say he is rebuking king Hoshea of Israel. The former is a more reasonable conclusion given the context of the previous chapter and the identifying of Zion and Jerusalem within the current chapter. However, the prophet is far more likely to be rebuking a controlling faction within the king’s retinue. After all, the plural “baniym” is used and given that the prophet doesn’t name any one individual it seems more tenable to suggest that he is rebuking a group of governing leaders and or the people of Judah as a whole.
The secret planning begun in Isaiah 29:15 has clearly advanced and is now bearing fruit. Negotiations by ambassadors have already commenced. Therefore, on a personal level, the prophet is warning against something he can no longer prevent.
It is interesting to note that throughout this series of rebukes God is named using YHVH, the Holy personal Name which denotes mercy. YHVH is used 13 times, 13 being the number that unites the 1 true God with the 12 tribes: a sacred number that has great significance in Jewish thought, religious practice and culture. It is a number that conveys a new beginning atop fullness. With this in mind we read the indictments in the following verses as the loving discipline of Mercy Himself: once again, God purposes a discipline that concludes with the redemption of Judah and all Israel.
Isa 30:1 Oy Grief, hope, heart wrenching woe, baniym offspring (children, sons) of rebellion, declares HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), la’asot that fashion eitzah purpose, but not of Me; velinesokh and that pour out [anoint] maseikhah [a king, molten gods] libations, but not of Ruachi My Spirit, breath, wind: with the intent of being consumed by chatat al chatat sin upon sin:
Following Rashi’s interpretation one Jewish English translation reads:
‘“Woe to rebellious children," says the Lord, "to take counsel but not from Me, and to appoint a ruler but not of My spirit, in order to add sin upon sin.”’ [Judaica Press]
This is the second to last of the “Oy” chapters. Both this chapter and the following one address Judah, the tribe from whom the King Messiah will one day come.
The accusation of rebellion is well founded and must have been a difficult one for the prophet to speak against his people. “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft” (1 Sam. 15:23), and that is precisely the problem here. Seeking to manipulate forces they don’t understand, both physical and spiritual, the children of Judah have turned their backs on God and His mercy and have instead sought out others in a vain effort to protect themselves from the Assyrians.
Judah has made her plans and sought her alliances, and has poured out libations, perhaps even in a syncretised form that was supposed to please HaShem; however, God makes it very clear that her practices are no of His Spirit. To the contrary, it seems that the rulers and people of Judah have intentionally chased after alliances that they knew were contrary to God’s will, and have pursued other gods and sins of the flesh with the full intention of indulging their sensual desires until they’re consumed by them.
The reason for the diversity of meaning in the latter clause “that pour out libations” is the phrase “velinesokh maseikah”. Both Hebrew words come from the root nasak which means “to pour” and is used to denote anointing, libations, coverings, molten gods, and by inference, kings, counsellors etc.
The Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE/AD) sees in the phrasing “velinesokh maseikah” an allusion to the seeking of ungodly counsel. It reads as follows:
“Woe unto the rebellious children, says the Lord, who take counsel, but not of my Word, who consult a consultation, but do not ask my prophets, that they may add sin unto the sins of their soul.”
Isa 30:2 Who walk to descend into Mitzrayim (Egypt: double distress), and of My mouth you have not enquired; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh (Great House), and to seek refuge in the shadow of Mitzrayim (Egypt: double distress)!
A reading of the text using the meanings of the proper nouns would go something like this:
“Who choose the way of descent into double distress, refusing to enquire of Mercy, they strengthen themselves with a great but temporary ruler, seeking refuge in double distress.”
This heart breaking account of Judah’s wilful return to the place of her slavery must have caused Isaiah great affliction of soul. Through the prophet HaShem says, “Of My mouth you have not enquired”, meaning that Judah has not only rejected the words proceeding from the mouth of God but have also shunned the intimacy of the mouth of her Husband and deliverer, the King of the Universe (all things).
Perhaps the prophet hoped that by describing her actions back to her, he would somehow alert Judah to the obvious: that she had turned her back on the God Who delivered her from double distress in Egypt, and was now returning to the very bondage she had once ached to be freed from. All this in order to make an alliance with her persecutors so as to avoid another enemy who God had already promised to deliver her from.
We note that it is on the heels of Judah’s rebellion against HaShem, her reliance on human planning, her anointing of false counsellors, her ignoring of God’s Spirit and her seeking to be consumed by her sinful desires, that she makes the decision to seek refuge in Egypt. Many today act in a similar way, searching for security in the things of this world in spite of the fact that God’s arm is stretched out still, willing, waiting, wanting to redeem us if only we would acquiesce and receive His offer of eternal refuge.
Isa 30:3 Therefore it has come to pass for you that the strength of Pharaoh (Great House) is your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Mitzrayim (Egypt, double distress) likh’limah is confusion, reproach, disgrace, dishonour.
Like Judah, when we put our trust in human strength, even the greatest of human strength, we are inevitably put to shame because human strength is always born of human nature (fallen, sin affected). If we choose to return like dogs to vomit, seeking shelter beneath the shadow of our past bondage, we should expect nothing more than confusion and dishonour. Like Judah, many believers today, having been given freedom in Messiah, none the less choose to return to the bondage from which they were delivered. We are like prisoners sitting in cells, the doors flung open, more comfortable in our captivity than we are in His freedom. In order to admit our need for Him, we must first accept that we are prisoners, unable to escape of our own fruition. It is not a question of slavery but one of mastery and masters. Whom will we serve?
The price of our freedom has been paid with the imperishable blood of God with us: the door to our eternal freedom can only be opened from the other side. Once the door is opened it is up to us to walk through it. We are predestined and we have freewill. Messiah has set us free from false choices.
In the current text Judah has been offered the open door of God’s redemption and has refused it, instead choosing to walk in the opposite direction, returning to her ancient captors Egypt. For the Jew Egypt represents sin and captivity, thus, only the greatest hubris could inspire him to turn to Egypt for help.
Isa 30:4 For his (Judah) princes were at Tzoan (Place of departure), and his malachayn messengers (ambassadors) came to Chanes (Grace has fled).
“Princes”sarayu, refers to royalty and means that either blood born or royally affiliated rulers from Judah have sought alliance with Egypt. This probably means that the king of Judah has either wilfully or tacitly approved of their undertaking.
Tzoan was an ancient city of Egypt known by the Greeks as Tanis and located on the eastern bank of the Tanitic branch of the Nile. It was the capital of the Shepherd dynasty, built seven years after Hebron and existing prior to the birth of Abraham and the time of the exodus. The meaning of Tzoan reflects Israel’s (Judah) “departure” from God’s will.
“Messengers” malachayn, is born of the root that we often translate as “angel”. In this context the messengers are political ambassadors, subordinate to royalty in status but powerful in function. They are the ones who would have ensured that the vision of the nation was implemented.
The location of Chanes is uncertain but it may be either Tahpanhes, on the eastern frontier, or a town on an Island in the Nile south of Memphis. Once again the name reflects the reality that while Judah has fled from God, God’s grace has fled from her.
The highest levels of Judean government are represented here, and as representatives of Judah they make all Judeans complicit in their actions. This is why elsewhere the prophet identifies himself as sharing in the guilt of his people (Isaiah 6:5): not because he is personally guilty but because he is a Jew and is therefore represented by the Jewish leaders, and the people of Israel, righteous or not.
Isa 30:5 They all stunk and were shamed on account of a people that could not profit them, and not help, and for no gain, except to be shamed, and taunted.
The Hebrew text of this verse offers at least one alternate translation due to what some consider scribal error. I have simply included both options in the one translation because I believe the so called error to be intended and a valuable illumination of the message.
The clear message of this verse is that Judah, wanting to build an alliance with Egypt, will none the less be treated contemptibly by the Egyptians and will find only the stench and shame associated to the enslavement of her past. She will not profit from any alliance with Egypt, to the contrary, Judah will gain only taunting and humiliation from the Egyptians.
Isa 30:6 The masa burden of the beasts of the Negev (south, southern desert): into the land of distress ve’tzukah and constraint, anguish: to the lioness and the lion, the viper vesaraf and fiery serpent meofeif flying (hovering), they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and their treasures upon the humps of camels, to a people that shall not profit them.
The Hebrew “masa” is used here as a title like the four title headings in chapters 21 to 22. “The Burden” alludes to the fact that the prophetic utterance is a burden upon both the prophet and the people. Thus, the first five verses of chapter 30 are a general indictment and beginning with verse six a more specific indictment is issued. In this case Isaiah speaks of the journey of the princes’ and ambassadors as they travel toward Egypt via the Negev, Israel’s southern desert region.
The language of this verse is both literal and figurative in nature, not to mention poetic. The couplet of distress and anguish, finds its poetic counterpart in the lion and the serpent. Likewise, the doubling of riches and treasures coincide with the burdens they place upon the donkey and camel. Thus, masa “the burden of the beasts of the south.” This burden will come upon Judah as a result of her having given away the riches and treasures of God, replacing them with the unreliable riches and treasures of Egypt (human strength).
Isa 30:7 And the Mitzrayim Egyptians (double distress) are like hevel vapour (vanity) variyk and emptiness: therefore have I cried out concerning this, “Rahav Arrogant one (proud, storm, sea monster: Egypt) hem who shavet ceases (sits).
Egypt, which is symbolic of sin, captivity and double distress, is likened to a fearsome sea monster unable to exert its power, or an arrogant being that sits still incapable of acting. The name Rahav is applied to Egypt elsewhere (Isa. 51:9, Psa. 87:4, 89:10). This is the people who Judah has foolishly placed her hopes upon. They are like an empty vapour in the vastness of eternity, a passing breath that is of no lasting consequence. Judah has given up the strong arms of Hashem and has instead sought to grasp at the wind.
Isa 30:8 Now go, chotvah write it al upon liuach a tablet (stone, wood, metal) for them, and al upon seifer a scroll (book), chukah to inscribe it (decree, cut out, engrave) for the day (time) to come ad olam as far as forever:
This instruction to write is important because the majority of Isaiah’s words, while spoken by the prophet (in the hearing of the people), were none the less probably recorded by Isaiah’s scribe. The prophets of Israel were often accompanied by scribes who were devoted disciples. For example, Baruch the scribe of Jeremiah. However, Habakkuk was also instructed to write his prophecy on a tablet (Hab. 2:2).
Here, Isaiah is specifically directed to write this prophecy down as a perpetual reminder to future generations, even to those as far afield as the last days. The message is to be written on stone and on kosher animal hide, perhaps in part because every matter must be established by two witnesses. These two formats were the means of keeping the permanent records of the time. It is clear from the receipt of the text that Isaiah was obedient to God’s instruction and must certainly have understood his message to be for the future generations of Israel.
The words “chotvah” and “chukah” both come from the root katav which refers specifically to the written word. There is a Kabbalistic teaching (from the Zohar) that suggests the ketvi (written word: from katav) is the essence of the universe. While in the strictest sense this is only true of ketvi based on a figurative interpretation, it is none the less very similar to the teaching of Yochanan’s (John) Gospel (John 1). However, there is a marked difference between the two teachings in that the Hebrew “D’var” is not restricted in the way that the Hebrew “ketvi” is. While “ketvi” may proceed from “D’var”, “D’var” cannot proceed from “ketvi”. With regard to the order of the universe “ketvi” is subject to “D’var”.
Isa 30:9 Because this is a rebellious people, baniym children (sons) of kechashiym lies (lying), baniym children (sons) unwilling to hear the Torah (Instruction) of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy):
This verse describes the type of people who ask prophets not to speak the truth. These are not just rebellious but also children of lies. They’re not simply ignorant of the Torah, rather they refuse to hear it. Keeping in mind that if we read the inferred meaning of the Holy Name of God, we translate, “children unwilling to hear the Instruction of Mercy”.
Yeshua is probably alluding to this verse when He says:
“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks lies he is just being himself—for he is a liar and the father of lies.” -Yochanan (John) 8:44 (TLV)
Isa 30:10 Who say laroiym to the seers, “See not”; ve’lachoziym and to the visionaries, “Don’t provide visions to us of straight (right) dav’ru essence (words, things), flatter us with what you see, prophesy deceptions:
Spiritual blindness is Judah’s problem. Thus, the use of the very specific prophetic title “roiym” Seers.
The rebellious children of Judah (Israel), who are children of lies and wilfully refuse God’s Instruction, now demand of their roiym seers that they “See not”, and of the choziym visionaries, that they not provide visions of “straight things” (2 Sam. 15:3). Worse still, and in keeping with their unwillingness to hear the Torah of Mercy, they compel both the seers and the visionaries to flatter the people with the things that they want to hear, even if those things are known to be deceptions. This is one of the greatest of sinful delusions, for “no one is blinder than he who refuses to see.”
Speaking of certain elements within the Ecclesia (Church: community of believers), Rav Shaul (Paul) writes to Timothy saying:
“For the time will come when they will not put up with sound instruction, but they will pile up for themselves teachers in keeping with their own desires, to have their ears tickled.” -2 Timothy 4:3 (TLV)
Isa 30:11 Turn aside from the derech way, thrust aside the orach journey (path), His rest, turn us from His face kedosh the Holy One of Yisrael (overcome in God).”
The divine title “Holy One of Israel” is used three times between verses 11 and 15. It is within these verses that we find Israel denying both her God and her own identity. It is because God is the Holy One of Israel that Israel exists at all. In his weakness Jacob was blessed by God and through submission to God with us (the wrestling man) was given the name Israel, which means “Yisra” overcome, “El” God. Thus, Israel are those ethnic children of Jacob who overcome in God. Therefore, in his charge against Israel, the prophet Isaiah uses the title for God that best illuminates the ironic and self-deluded behaviour of the people.
The foolish words of the people continue as they tell the nevi’iym prophets, roiym seers, and choziym visionaries of Israel to “turn aside from the way” of God. They have just said, “Don’t tell us straight things”, now they add, “And don’t live straight lives”. In other words, “We don’t want to be reminded of God and His ways by goody two shoes prophets who continue to live for God in the midst of our sin”. The people want to be led away from God by spiritual leaders who are also walking away from God.
The Hebrew phrasing “ha-derech” the way, could not be more prophetically relevant to the future disciples of the coming Messiah. It is of course the very title used to describe the Jewish sect who were followers of the Messiah Yeshua in the first century CE/AD (Acts 9:2).
The prophets of Israel are not only told to turn aside from “the way” but also from “the journey”, and “the rest” of God. “The way” means knowing which direction to head in, “the journey” means continuing to walk in that direction, and “the rest” is the secure knowledge that it is the right direction.
Those who walk in darkness detest light. This is why the people say “Turn us from His face, the glory of Israel”. How heart breaking it must have been for Isaiah to speak these words and how saddened the heart of God. The people to whom He desired to show mercy refusing their own identity in Him. Israel, whose name is born of the “Glory of Israel” (God Himself), refuses her God and her identity, preferring to live a lie.
Isa 30:12 Wherefore thus says kedosh the Holy One of Yisrael (overcome in God), “Because you despise, refuse, reject ba’davar this word, essence, thing, and trust in oppression, perversion remains on you:
Simply put, “I give you over to the fruit of your own sin”.
“This word” literally refers to this specific prophecy of Isaiah. However, it can be understood in more general terms and applied as a drash (comparative teaching), a remez (a hint) and illuminates a sod (mystery).
Those who refuse “The Word” (Yeshua) of God inevitably fall victim to their own words.
“But My people did not listen to My voice.
Israel was not willing to be Mine.
So I gave them over
to the stubbornness of their heart,
to walk in their own counsels.” -Psalm 81:12-13 (TLV)
“24 Therefore God gave them over in the evil desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies with one another. 25 They traded the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to shameful passions. Even their women exchanged natural relations for what is against nature. 27 Likewise the men abandoned natural relations with women and were burning with passion toward one another—men committing shameful acts with other men[g] and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to recognize God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what is not fitting. 29 They became filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents. 31 They are foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree—that those who practice such things deserve death—they not only do them but also approve of others who practice the same.” -Romans 1:24-32
“Trust in oppression” is a reference to the people of Israel (Judah) returning to the land of their captivity (Egypt) seeking help. For the modern believer a comparative teaching can be made: to trust in oppression would be to turn back to a sin practice that Messiah has freed us from.
Isa 30:13 Therefore it has come to pass this perversity will be to you like a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, which breaks forth suddenly in an instant.
Note that it is Israel’s own perversity that has become a breach in the wall of her protection. It has grown slowly but will fall suddenly. When a broken or swollen breach in a high wall comes down it usually brings down the entire section of wall with it. The rulers of Judah will bring down all of Judah through their perverse leadership.
The root “ba’ah” swelling, is used elsewhere to refer to the swelling caused by disease (Exodus 9”9, “boils erupting”). Thus, Israel’s perversity is like a disease that causes boils to erupt suddenly upon her.
Isa 30:14 And He (God) will break it like the breaking of a moulded jar that is broken into pieces; He will not show compassion: so that in the bursting of it there will not be found a shard for collecting fire from the hearth, or to draw water out of the cistern (pool).
God will use the hostile power Assyria to break up Israel like the breaking of a clay jar. For a time He will withhold compassion so that Israel will realize her need for Him.
Fire and water are two of the primary human needs. Thus, the prophet uses the symbolism of the tiny broken pieces unable even to collect fire for warmth or water for life.
Isa 30:15 For thus says Adonay the Lord HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), kedosh the Holy One of Yisrael (overcome in God); be’shuvah In returning va’nachat and rest, quietness, comfort you will be saved; behashekeit in quietness (shutting of the mouth) uv’vitechah (from bitchah, betach) and in trusting will be your strength (bravery, mighty deeds): and you are unwilling.
God offers a solution to Israel’s self-afflicting sin. We note that three titles for God are used, “Adonay” Lord, “YHVH” Mercy, and “Kedosh Yisrael” Holy One of Israel”. Each title signifies an attribute of God and His relationship to His people Israel. Adonay conveys Lordship over Israel. YHVH denotes mercy and shows God’s willingness to be merciful toward Israel. Kedosh Yisrael reminds Israel that Adonay is her God and that her identity is in Him.
God is constantly offering mercy, forgiveness and redemption to those who have rejected Him. However, in order for love to exist freewill must also exist. Therefore, He will not force Himself on anyone.
“be’shuvah In returning va’nachat and rest, quietness, comfort you will be saved;”
Note that it’s in returning to God (repentance), and by resting in Him, that Israel receives salvation (Yeshua). Many convey the Gospel of our Messiah in complicated terms but the truth is that right standing with God is as simple as admitting our sinfulness and accepting His sacrificial love, outworked through Yeshua our King Messiah. Our salvation comes to us through returning and quiet acceptance.
During the weekly Torah service when the Torah is returned to the Aron Ha-kodesh (The Holy Ark), we recite the following words:
“Whenever the ark came to rest, Moses would say: ‘Return, HaShem to the myriad thousands of Israel!’” -Numbers 10:36
We then conclude with the words of Eitz Chayim, which concludes with the words:
“Turn us Lord to You and let us return, renew our days as of old”
Returning and rest have been the building blocks of redemption from the very beginning.
“in trusting will be your strength (bravery, mighty deeds):”
The root for the word “trusting” is batach, a form of practiced trust that must be perpetuated. Notice that salvation is not reliant on batach but upon returning and rest, whereas strength, bravery, and mighty deeds are reliant on consistent trusting (betach).
Sadly, at the time of Isaiah’s prophecy we were unwilling to accept HaShem’s offer of salvation.
Isa 30:16 But you said, “No; for upon a horse we will flee;” therefore you will flee: and, “We will ride upon the swift;” therefore those who pursue you will be swift.
Israel will be judged by her own words. With pride she says “We will flee” to Egypt for protection. But instead she will “flee” in terror from invading armies. She says “We will ride swiftly” to our protector Egypt. But instead, Egypt will not protect her and she will be swiftly pursued by her enemies.
Isa 30:17 One thousand will flee from before the face of the rebuke of one; from the face of the rebuke of five one will flee: until you’re left as a beacon upon the rosh head of ha-har the mountain, ve’caneis and as a banner (signal, sign, miracle) on ha-givah the hill.
HaShem answers Judah’s prideful words by fulfilling upon them the curses of the Torah (Lev 26:8, Lev 26:36; Deu 28:25; Deu 32:30). One, or at the most five, of the enemy would put to flight a thousand men of Judah.
The verb nus (Isa 30:16), which rhymes with sus is used first in its primary sense of “flying” (related to nutz cf., Exo 14:27), and then in its more usual sense of “fleeing.”
Ibn Ezra notes that “The meaning of the whole phrase is: An officer over a thousand men will flee at the threatening of one man.”
“until you’re left as a beacon upon the rosh head of ha-har the mountain,”
Rosh ha-har “head of the mountain” is a reference to Mount Zion, the Temple mount. Thus, Israel will be afflicted until a mere remnant remains, having retreated to Mount Zion, returning to the place where HaShem had placed His Name.
“ve’caneis and as a banner (signal, sign, miracle) on ha-givah the hill.”
Ha-givah “the hill” is part of a poetic couplet that also denotes the Temple mount. It is in this location that the remnant of Israel will be seen as a neis miracle, sign, banner, both to her shame and for HaShem’s glory. For He will miraculously deliver His people who He has chosen and loved with an everlasting love. I’m reminded of our Diaspora Chanukah dreidel “neis gadol haya sham” a great miracle happened there.
Isa 30:18 And therefore yechakeh await HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), that He may be chanan gracious unto you, and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have racham mercy upon you: for Eloheiy (God: Judge) is mishpat a just HaShem (YHVH: Mercy): ashreiy blessed, happy are all those who wait for Him.
In accordance with the rhythm of Isaiah’s scroll the usual pattern of indictment is followed by the promise of restoration.
Israel is advised to wait for HaShem’s grace and mercy and reminded that He is a just God Whose Name denotes mercy. Those who wait on Him will be blessed with true happiness.
Note that HaShem is not a narcissist. His exaltation is purposed for mercy. He doesn’t exalt Himself for His own sake but rather for the sake of those He loves, that He might show them mercy. He is Judge (Eloheiy), just (mishpat), and merciful (YHVH).
HaShem has waited on Israel His wayward wife, His rebellious children. Now they must meet His waiting with their own waiting so as to receive true happiness in Him.
Isa 30:19 For the people will yeisheiv remain (dwell) in Tziyon (Parched land: The Mount: The Land: The People) in Yerushalayim (Down pour of Peace): weeping you will weep no more: He will be chanon yach’necha gracious to be gracious unto you at the voice of your outcry; when He hears it, He will answer you.
Judah will not lose Zion, she will remain in her. Note the doubling of grace within the Hebrew text: this denotes grace firmly and immutably established for Judah and all Israel. HaShem is ready and willing to act with grace and mercy in the moment that His people cry out to Him for deliverance. This has and will not change: it is the same for you as it is for Israel. He is the God of all.
Isa 30:20 And though Adonay the Lord gives you tzar narrow lechem bread (of adversity), and mayim water of lachatz distress (of oppression), yet your moreykha teacher (teachers) will not be hidden any more, but your eyes shall see your moreykha teacher (teachers):
This is an allusion to the broken pot shards of verse 14. Although Israel did not even have the tools to collect the basic necessities of life, none the less God will provide what megger rations of food and water they do have. It will be in the consumption of megger amounts of bread and distressfully small amounts of water that Israel will be given sight to see her Teacher HaShem. The Hebrew moreykha can be read as either singular or plural and in any case it is both. HaShem is Israel’s Teacher and He provides her with good teachers, such as the prophets.
Isa 30:21 And your ears will hear (receive, understand) d’var a word from behind you, saying, “This is ha-derech the way, you walk in it,” when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.
This verse has been misapplied by many believers. First because it is taken out of context and second because the presumption is made that it offers a type of coin toss as to directing the future path of any given believer.
The p’shat plain meaning of the text is clear, “A word from behind you” means, at that time in the future when you realize your error and see your Teacher (God with us), you will remember this prophecy, spoken years prior (behind you). “Saying, ‘This is the way’” means, the way of salvation through Messiah, spoken of by the prophet Isaiah. “Walk in it” means, walk in repentance, the salvation of the Messiah and the freedom of God. “When you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.” Means, wherever you go. It does not mean that the word speaking from behind you will tell you to go right or left, as if to say, you’ll be walking blindly forward and will only know which way to turn at the last minute.
Put concisely, in the future you will repent when you remember the d’var word of salvation spoken by Isaiah, and through that word you will be directed to walk in ha-derech “The Way” of God’s Messiah. Thus, you will walk in Messiah wherever you walk, be it right or left.
Followers of Yeshua Ha-Mashiyach do not practice blind faith, to the contrary, we practice a faith born of sight. We see Messiah and walk in light, regardless of whether we walk to the right or to the left. We walk with authority and confidence as His brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:11; Romans 8:29; Mark 3:34) and as sons and daughters of HaShem.
We should remind ourselves again that the first Jewish followers of Messiah Yeshua were considered a sect of Judaism and were “Ba-derech” in The Way (Acts 9:2).
Isa 30:22 You will defile the silver plating of your idols, and the ephod (mantle) of your molten images of gold: you will cast them away as a davah menstrual cloth; you will say to it, “you, get out, leave!”
These abominations of idolatry (which continued even in the first years of Hezekiah's reign: ( Isa 31:7; Mic 1:5; Mic 5:11-13; Mic 6:16) were to be defiled and discarded. Even the gold and silver with which the images were overlaid, would be made unclean.
“Davah” is shortened from “keli davah” menstrual cloth. This symbolizes infertility and decay and presents the idols as fruitless, dead, and worthless.
“Get out, leave!” Israel must wilfully reject and cast out her idols both physically and mentally. She is to be adamant in her speech in order to affirm her actions and ongoing commitment to turning her back on idolatry.
Isa 30:23 Then He will give the rain for your seed, which you will scatter in the ground; ve’lechem and bread (food) of the increase of the ground, and it has come to pass that fat and shamein oil will pasture your livestock bayom in the day (time period) ha-hu that one (the he), kar the basket saddle nirechav will grow wide [the meadow will be enlarged].
When Israel decides to uproot her idolatry God will once again bless the land and His people with abundance and prosperity.
The rain meets the need for water alluded to previously and the grain becomes bread to meet the hunger born of scant rations. The rain is the water of life, the flood of God’s Spirit and the bread is the sustenance of life, the Torah and living Word of God.
This blessing is to follow the defeat of Assyria which is spoken of in verse 25. The prophet pre-empts that victory with the promise of what comes after it.
“Bayom” in that day, finds its counterpart in verse 25 and turns the day of God’s destruction of Israel’s enemies into a day of deliverance, repentance, returning, rest and abundance for Israel.
Isa 30:24 Both the oxen and the young asses alike, that work ha-adamah the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been zoreh winnowed ba-rachat (from ruach) with the winnowing shovel and with the pitchfork/rake.
The cattle will not only have feed but will have the salted (seasoned) feed of a prosperous herdsman. This is an image of great abundance.
Isa 30:25 And it has come to pass that upon every har mountain high (exalted), and upon every (exalted) giveah hill nisa’ah lifted up, pelagiym rivers (channels), yivleiy streams of mayim water bayom in the day (time period) hereg rav of great slaughter, binefol migdaliym when the towers fall.
On every high mountain where idolatrous sacrifices brought judgement and drought to Israel, the refreshing waters of HaShem will flow once more. All this will happen following Hashem’s defeating of the Assyrian army that will surround Jerusalem.
Isa 30:26 Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, the light of seven days, bayom in the day that HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) binds up the breach of His people, and heals their severe wound.
The plain meaning of this verse expresses joy and light at the defeat of Israel’s enemy Assyria and the binding up of the breach suffered as a result of Judah’s wilful sin along with the healing of her wounds of oppression.
Ibn Ezra notes that the majority of Jewish commentators associate this verse with the Messianic age following the war of Gog and Magog.
The moon is a symbol of the Messiah due to its waning and resurrection each month.
Here the remez and sod meanings are attached to creation itself and the days of the creation recorded in Genesis 1 and 2. The sevenfold light is explained by the prophet as the combined light of seven days made manifest in one. The seventh day is of course the Shabbat. Thus in the day (time of the world to come, the Messianic age), redeemed Israel will enter into an eternal Shabbat whose light is so bright that it has no need of sun or moon and is therefore also not subject to the passing of time.
The writer of Hebrews explains the Olam Habah (World to come) as being the Shabbat which remains for the people of God (Hebrews 4:9). Thus there is an established understanding within ancient Judaism that the current text refers to a yet future day or time period. That day or time period being the inception of the World to Come, the eternal Shabbat of God’s rest.
The commentator Delitzsch puts it beautifully when he writes:
“Heaven and earth will then put on their sabbath dress; for it will be the Sabbath of the world's history, the seventh day in the world's week. The light of the seven days of the world's week will be all concentrated in the seventh. For the beginning of creation was light, and its close will be light as well. The darkness all comes between, simply that it may be overcome. At last will come a boqer (morning), after which it will no more be said, “And evening was, and morning was.”
Isa 30:27 Hineih Now, pay attention and behold, Shem the name of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) comes from a distant place, burning in His nostrils, ve’koved and heavy glory ma’asah is uplifted: segatayn His language (lip) is full of za’am indignation, uleshono and His tongue ke’eish is ochalet a devouring fire:
“Pay attention” says the prophet. The Name of the Lord is synonymous with the Malakh HaShem Angel of the Lord and with the Lord Himself. He comes from a distant place, that is, the heavens, from where the Malakh HaShem Angel of the Lord came down to wipe out the Assyrians overnight (2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chronicles 32:21).
This picture of HaShem’s fierce wrath against Israel’s enemies is at once both terrifying and comforting. This same fierce God of creation is fierce for all who accept His love.
Isa 30:28 Verucho And His breath, Spirit, wind, as an overflowing stream, will reach to the middle of the neck, to sift the goyim nations with the sieve shave of emptiness: and He will put a bridle in the jaws of the amiym peoples (tribes), causing them to go astray.
“Goyim” nations are made up of “amiyim” tribes.
The “sieve of emptiness” means that all of the crop of the wicked nations will be devoid of grain. It will all be chaff and dust blown away by the wind with not one ear of grain left on the threshing floor. God’s judgement will come against both the wicked goyim nations and against the wicked individual tribes amiym that make up those wicked nations. He will direct them toward their just destruction.
Isa 30:29 Ha-shir The song of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) will come to you in the night hitekadesh chag when the holy convocation (festival, offering) is kept (made); vesimchat and there will be joy leivav of the core being (heart), like walking with a flute to come behar into the mountain of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), to Tzur the Rock (cliff face) of Yisrael.
The Hebrew “chag” means both festival and festival offering. In this case the “chag” is qualified by the fact that it happens at night. The only festival that meets this requirement is Pesach (Passover). Therefore, the prophet is alluding to Passover. Subsequently the sages suggest that the Assyrian army was destroyed during Passover. This helps illuminate the meaning of the song of deliverance that will be given to Israel when God comes first to deliver her from Assyria and then, in that future day ba-yom, to deliver her from all the nations that surround her to destroy her because she bears His Name.
Just as the avenging angel came against Israel’s oppressors in Egypt on that first Passover night, so too the Angel of HaShem would come upon the Assyrians during the night, and in the future upon all the enemies of God and His chosen people ethnic-religious Israel.
The joy of her core being will be overflowing like one who ascends the Mountain of HaShem with joyous music, secure in the knowledge that the immovable Rock of Israel is her God.
Isa 30:30 And the majesty of HaShem’s (YHVH: Mercy) glorious voice will be heard, listened to and understood, ve’nachat and the descending of His arm, with the rage of his nostril, ve’lahav and with the blade eish of fire ocheilah devouring, driving storm and flood of rain, ve’even and stones barad of hail (judgement).
HaShem’s voice will be heard and understood by both Israel and her enemies. To Israel it will be the sound of deliverance and security and to her enemies the sound of imminent terror. Likewise the blade of devouring fire will be seen as protection by Israel but by her enemies as judgement and condemnation.
Isa 30:31 For mikol from the voice of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) yeichat shattered, dismayed, broken, abolished will be Asshur (Assyrians: a step), bashevet with the rod, struck down.
The plain meaning has been the defeat of Assyria all along. In Isaiah 10:5 Assyria herself is called the “rod of His indignation”. Now wicked Assyria will be wiped out by the rod of His indignation.
Isa 30:32 And it has come to pass that col every passing of the mateih the staff (branch) musadah of foundation (appointed), which HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) will lay upon him (Assyria), it will be with tambourine and harps: and in battles of shaking will He wave it.
Israel, the victims of Assyrian oppression will celebrate her defeat with tambourine and harp, At every swing of the staff of God’s wrath Israel will celebrate her freedom from her enemies with loud music and the joyous jangling swing of the tambourine.
Isa 30:33 For Tofeteh (Place of spitting fire: southeast end of the valley of Ben-Hinnom: just south of Jerusalem) is ordained of old; also, it (he) is prepared lamelekh for the king (of Assyria); He has made it deep and large: the pyre there is eish fire and full of wood; nishmat (from nasham) the breath of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), a torrent of brimstone, consuming it.
Tofeteh is literally located in the valley of Hinnom south of Jerusalem, which has been historically associated with the heathen death cult of molech and with child sacrifice in fire. It has been ordained of old, that is from the fall of Satan, to physically receive the enemies of Israel into its well-stocked fire, blown to life by the breath of God.
Spiritually speaking the valley of Hinnom is symbolic of a much worse place, Gehinnom. Yeshua used the physical location of the valley of Hinnom as a representation of a much greater spiritual torment that awaited the wicked beyond this world. Therefore, it would be foolish, as some do, to right off the spiritual interpretation in favour of the idea that Gehinnom was intended as nothing more than an allegory based on the physical location. After all, an allegory is used to describe or convey a reality that cannot be comprehended in literal terms within time and space. Therefore, the allegory of the valley of Hinnom, where Israel’s enemies fell, garbage fires burned perpetually and children were sacrificed to heathen gods, must surely be a prophetic linguistic attempt to warn of something far worse outside of our present reality. Make no mistake, both temporal and eternal punishment await the wicked. But eternal life and perpetual rest await those redeemed in Yeshua the King Messiah.
“In returning and rest you will be saved!”
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
Philosophy over thinks itself into oblivion and theology presumes to illuminate hidden things: both are the constructs of human wisdom. In our search for the profound we have become enamoured by our own counsel and have manifested dark deeds. We think ourselves unseen and unknown but we are seen, we are known.
This chapter collects three distinct poetic warnings concerning Jerusalem, Judah and her inhabitants, each section describing a people worthy of punishment and each one ultimately prophesying salvation for Judah.
Each section of chapter 29 describes Judah in a unique way:
Against this is the description of God’s character, revealed in three unique ways as a response to the identity, stubbornness and unworthiness of His people:
Isa 29:1 Oy Grief, hope, heart wrenching woe, Ariyeil (Piercing Lion [image of a lion] gatherer of God or hearth of God), Ariyeil, the city encampment of David (Beloved) [the city David besieged]! Consuming year upon year chagiym festivals, [Regaliym, Aliyot], (going up feasts), festival sacrifices as they come around [are killed, cut off].
Ariyeil is a poetic name for Jerusalem, the city of David. This is qualified by the phrase “city encampment of David” and by the text of Ezekiel 43:15-16, where the prophet uses the Hebrew words Harel and Ariyeil to describe the Temple Mount and the Altar of sacrifice in Jerusalem within the context of restoration.
Ezekiel figuratively calls the altar of burnt sacrifice Ariyeil “Lion of God”. Ariyeil is used to describe the altar because of the continuity between the devouring lion and the devouring fire upon the altar. This has great prophetic significance with regard to the use of figurative language in the scroll of Isaiah. In the previous chapter Isaiah uses the personification of the even stone to depict the coming Messiah, now he illuminates the difference between a false altar/Messiah and the legitimate altar/Messiah. The altar that sheds the blood of animals in idolatrous syncretism will be replaced by the altar on which eternal atonement will be made for Judah, Benjamin and all the house of Israel. It is right then that we understand the connection between the altar, the Temple mount, the Lion of God, and our King Messiah Yeshua, the Lion of Judah.
The Targum of Yonatan also understands the name Ariyeil to refer to the altar of burnt offerings in Jerusalem:
“Woe, altar, altar, which was built in the city where David dwelt;”
Ariyeil is a contraction made up of Ariy (lion, or image of a lion, gatherer of food) and El (God, gods, judges). The association of the lion with the tribe of Judah stems from the blessing of Joseph over Judah in Genesis 49:9. The Hebrew root arah, meaning to pluck, gather, pierce, is the basis for the word Ariy, lion, gatherer. In one sense Ariyeil means “a picture of the Lion, gatherer of God”: thus in this context it is a representation of the Lion of Judah Who is yet to come. This understanding invokes an even greater sense of woe because the city and her people bear the name of HaShem’s Messiah and thus represent His character, and yet they have lived in a way that dishonours and misrepresents the character of God and His Messiah.
The alternate reading, “The city David besieged” is a reference to David’s victory over the heathen Jebusites whom he conquered in c.1010 BCE (BC) [2 Samuel 5; 1 Chronicles 11].
The final clause “festival sacrifices come around [are killed, cut off].” Can be understood to mean either that the festival sacrifices will continue right up until Jerusalem comes under siege or that the festival sacrifices will cease completely.
“the festivities will cease” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
Isa 29:2 And yet I will constrain, distress Ariyeil (Piercing Lion [image of a lion] gatherer of God or hearth of God), and there will be mourning and sorrow: and she shall become to Me Ariyeil (Piercing Lion [image of a lion] gatherer of God or hearth of God).
"and I will distress the city where the altar is, and it shall be desolate and empty; and it shall be surrounded before me with the blood of the slain, as the altar is surrounded with the blood of the holy sacrifices on a solemn feast day all around;'' -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
Historically speaking this distress came in 701 BCE with the siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrians. It could also be suggested that this prophecy has been fulfilled over and over again throughout Israel’s history, and that it is yet to be fully filled.
This verse encapsulates the very essence of the Gospel (Good News) of God. God disciplines the ones He loves (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:6). Thus, the verse begins with distress being brought against the prideful people that bear God’s name and are witness to His altar of blood covering. The people respond in the appropriate way in repentance, mourning and sorrow over their sin, and as a result they return to God and become a true representation of His love for humanity. The false altar becomes a true altar, and the one who gathered idolatries becomes a gatherer of men. She shall become to me a gathering lion of God and a keeper of the altar of salvation.
Isa 29:3 And I will camp against you surrounding you, and will lay siege against you with a mountain, and I will raise siege-works against you.
Notice that God Himself will camp against Jerusalem. This is of course in reference to the siege of the Assyrians, who are described figuratively as a mountain, meaning that they will appear to be an unconquerable foe raising walls against Jerusalem’s walls. It can also be applied to the final Roman siege of Jerusalem which occurred at a much later date: its final fulfillment is still yet future. In a spiritual sense it is God Himself who comes against Jerusalem in order to discipline her for her own good.
Isa 29:4 And you will be brought down, speaking from the ground, and dust will meet your mouth’s utterances, and it has come to pass that like the keov water skin (one who evokes the dead), your voice will be a dusty utterance, nothing more than a gurgling whisper.
This verse is rich with Hebrew cultural idiom and metaphor which makes it difficult for the English mind. It begins with a metaphor of humility. The proud are brought so low that their speech is hampered by the dust in their mouths. The Hebrew ov meaning “water skin” is sometimes used figuratively to describe the hollow mumbling of a medium who consults the dead. There is however no mention of dead spirits in the Hebrew. The Hebrew may infer the idea of a familiar spirit, that is a demonic spirit and its mutterings, but no more than that. The many English translations that render this clause as “ghosts from the earth” are at best appeasing superstition and at worst completely misleading the reader. Isaiah has used similar language in the past (Isaiah 8:19).
The humility described here refers specifically to the submissive language of Hezekiah to Sennacherib, and his messengers (2 Kings 18:14).
Isa 29:5 And it has come to pass like fine dust are your many strangers, and like chaff that passes away will be the many terrifying ones: and it has come to pass in an instant, suddenly.
Once again the text prophecies the coming Assyrian siege and subsequently the many sieges of Jerusalem throughout the ages, culminating in the final siege of Revelation.
The sudden destruction of the Assyrian army by the Malakh HaShem Angel of the Lord during its siege of Jerusalem is recorded in 2 Kings 19:35.
We note however that the siege will cease in an instant at the visitation of HaShem, and the enemies of Hashem and His people will be blown away like the dust or the worthless chaff which is removed from the grain at harvest time. While this image alludes to the Assyrian siege it is equally applicable to all of Israel’s historical enemies and to the latter days.
Isa 29:6 Beside you will be HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (of hosts) Who goes to war, with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire.
The Malakh Hashem Angel/Messenger of the Lord Himself visited destruction on the Assyrian army: in the latter days He will act against the enemies of God and Israel (ethnic-religious).
It is Mercy (YHVH) Who goes to war for Israel’s sake, a mighty storm, quaking the earth, a flame of devouring fire.
The storm is the turmoil that God will bring against those who put His people in turmoil, and the devouring flame is the righteous judgement of God upon the wicked.
Isa 29:7 And it has come to pass that the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariyeil (Piercing Lion [image of a lion] gatherer of God or hearth of God), all the siege works and those who fight against her, and that distress her, shall be like a dream, a night vision.
The Assyrian army was dealt with overnight as if Israel had only dreamed of the siege (2 Kings 19:35).
Those that fight against redeemed Israel (ethnic-religious: the gathering lion of God) will be gone in an instant as if they had been nothing more than a dream or a passing vision. Thus, In Messiah, Israel’s eternal reality will surpass the temporal dream of the sin affected world.
Isa 29:8 And it has come to pass like a hungry one who dreams and hinei behold, now he eats but awakens, and naf’shu his soul (existence) is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreams and hinei behold, now, he drinks but he awakens, and, hinei behold, now, he is faint, weary, weak and naf’shu his soul (existence) thirsts: so will the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against Har mount Tziyon (Zion: Parched Land).
The nations have always sought the land of Israel, Jerusalem and the Mountain of God to satisfy their lust for power, their hunger for riches and their desire to become gods. However, like a man who dreams he has eaten and awakes hungry, the enemies of God and Israel will be left wanting, and awaken to judgement.
This is why the Hebrew text says “so will the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against Har mount Tziyon”. Notice that they have not come against Israel alone but rather they have sought to take the Mount of HaShem, the place where HaShem has placed His Name. This is true today, the mosque of the moon god Allah sits as a desecration atop the Temple Mount, defiling the place where God has Placed His Name. This mosque, and the false religion and nations it represents will one day be torn down and forgotten like a faded dream, and in an instant the Mountain of the Lord will be united with the eternal Jerusalem of the heavens.
Isa 29:9 Wait, and be astounded; your eyes smeared over, and blinded: they are drunk, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.
“Wait” means pause and consider, ready yourselves to be astounded by the work of God.
“be astounded” is also a call to wake out of stupor.
The poetic Hebrew image of eyes being smeared over has become a prophetic refrain for the people of Judah and Israel. Yeshua counteracted this symbolically when He healed the blind man, spitting into the dirt and making a mud poultice which He smeared over the blind man’s eyes. After the mud washed away in the pool of Siloam (sent) the man began to see, both physically and spiritually (Yochanan 9:5-7).
These words continue to be spoken to the people of Judah and Zion. Their drunkenness and staggering is spiritual, they have been given over to their own pursuit of vain religion and idolatry.
Isa 29:10 For poured out upon all of you is HaShem’s (YHVH Mercy) Ruach Spirit, Wind of tardeimah deep sleep, trance, and He has closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers (heads), ha-choziym the seers He has kisah covered, hidden, concealed, overwhelmed.
The Targum Yonatan reads:
"the prophets, and the Scribes, and the teachers that teach the law.''
Yeshua reminds His hearers:
“And Yeshua said, ‘For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.”-John 9:39
The deep hypnotic sleep tardeimah is also born of the work of God’s Spirit in Genesis 2:21; 15:12; 1 Samuel 26:12. It is a state of physical unconsciousness best likened to that of an anaesthetised patient.
The title ha-choziym (The Seers) is used in addition to the nevi’iym (Prophets) and rosheiychem (Heads, Rulers), in order to emphasise the blindness that has resulted from the closed eyes of Judah’s secular and spiritual leadership.
Israel’s blindness is a temporary act of mercy perpetuated until the fullness of the nations have received God’s Messiah. Make no mistake, Messiah will deliver His people, ethnic-religious and remove their blindness. The day is coming soon when all ethnic-religious Israel will come to faith in Messiah Yeshua and be healed of her blindness and redeemed unto eternal life (Romans 11).
Isa 29:11 And it has become to you all chazot visions ke’divreiy of all of the words, essence, of ha-seifer the book that is sealed, which is given to one that yodeia knows, ha-seifer the book to say, “Read this aloud, I plead with you:” and he says, “I’m unable to because it (he) is sealed:”
The chazot (visions, seeing) of all the divreiy (From D’var: Word, Essence, Thing, Substance [John 1]) of ha-seifer (The Book), can be understood either to refer to the Torah, which was complete at this point in Israel’s History, or to both the Torah and the words of Israel’s prophets up to this point in Israel’s history, or specifically to the words of Isaiah’s prophecies, which, although they have been spoken aloud in the hearing of the people, have none the less been ignored and are therefore, in a sense sealed up and unfathomable from the perspective of those who are choosing to wilfully reject God’s word spoken by His prophet.
The Targum of Yonatan understands the divreiy (words, essence etc.) to refer to Isaiah’s prophecy:
‘And all the prophecy shall be unto you as the words of a sealed book, which if one gives to a man that is learned, saying, "Read this now";' then he shall answer, "I am not able, because it is sealed."’
If “The Book” refers to the Torah, then it is given to one who knows it, and he is instructed to read it aloud, only to discover that he doesn’t comprehend its meaning: thus it is as if it were sealed. The idea of reading the Torah aloud before the people is one that invokes national repentance. The prophet Ezra reads the Torah aloud to the people at a much later date in Israel’s history following her return from exile in Babylon (Nehemiah 8).
The priests and teachers of the law among Judah are being asked to warn the people by reading the Torah aloud to them. However, the one who knows (Or should know) the book responds by saying, “I’m unable to because it is sealed”. We know that the Torah was not sealed but made available to Judah and Israel. We also know that Isaiah’s prophecies and indeed the prophecies of all the prophets up to that point had been proclaimed to all the people in order to give them just warning. Therefore, the Hebrew chatum (sealed) must refer to the inability of the learned ones to comprehend both the Torah and the prophets, Isaiah included, and not because the words were literally sealed or inaccessible.
A seal or seals usually include an identifying mark of the one who made them. In the case of a king or priest that mark would denote his authority and would act as a sign to those who received the scroll or book. Only those who are approved by the king or priest would be allowed to break the seal or seals. In the present context the rulers, prophets, priests and seers of Israel are unable to open the book because they are not in right relationship with the King of kings HaShem. Isaiah is a messenger, sent to deliver a sealed scroll to Judah, the tribe from which Israel received her kings, however, Judah did not recognize the seals of her God and King and were therefore, unable to open the scroll and receive the warning and the promises that were written within.
In many ways this text prefigures the sevenfold sealed scroll of Revelation 5. Though at that later period in history the scroll of Revelation 5 can be seen to contain (at least chronologically speaking) a greater number of prophecies and instructions, being the culmination of the revealed warning and promises, it none the less serves a similar purpose to the sealed scroll of Isaiah 29. What is most important is that there is someone Who is worthy to break the seals, One Who knows the King Hashem intimately and is without sin before Him. This person has been alluded to throughout Isaiah and is further illuminated in the current chapter. He shares the root of His name with Isaiah, in fact, His name is the root from which Isaiah receives his identity.
In one sense, given that ha-seifer hu (The Book) is masculine and that the D’var (Word) is a figurative way of referring to the Messiah Yeshua (John 1), we could say that the final clause “I’m unable to because it (he) is sealed:” infers that the one who knows ha-seifer (The Book: Torah, Prophets etc.) is unable to properly understand it because the knowledge of Messiah is sealed up so that it might be revealed at the appropriate time to a repentant remnant. Yeshua experienced this very thing when the religious leaders of His day failed to understand His message, just as the religious leaders of Isaiah’s time failed to understand him. Yeshua responds to the religious leaders (Blind Guides) with the words, “You are in error because you do not know the Tanakh or the power of God!” (Matthew 22:29; Mark 12:24). They knew the Tanakh and believed in the power of God, and yet Yeshua says that they comprehended neither. We must be careful to ensure that we do not find ourselves in the same position.
For further study regarding the sealed scroll please follow the link to my article on Revelation 5:
Isa 29:12 And giving ha-seifer the book to one who doesn’t know, saying, “Read this aloud, I plead with you:” and he says, “I don’t know a book.
The plain meaning of the text in verses 11 & 12 conveys the idea that neither the educated nor the uneducated were able to comprehend the words of The Book.
From a spiritual perspective, if the book is the Torah, and or the prophecies of Isaiah, the fact that the average uneducated person doesn’t know The Book denotes a failure on the part of Judah’s spiritual and secular leaders to teach the uneducated to read and learn the words of HaShem in all their available forms. Therefore, while each one is accountable for his or her own response to God, spiritual leaders are judged more strictly because they have been given a role in educating others concerning the things of God.
Isa 29:13 And speaking Adonay the Lord says, “Because drawing near to Me ha-am the people ha-zeh this one, with mouths and language, speaking glory, but with hearts far removed from me, and their reverence/fear toward me is mitzvat commands that anashiym men teach:”
“Wherefore the Lord hath said: Because I am magnified by the mouth of this people, and with their lips they do honour me, but their heart is far from my fear, and their fear towards me is as the commandment of men teaching them:” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
Yeshua speaks these same words to the generation of Israel in the first century CE. These words are true of every generation of humanity. There will always be those who pay God lip service but are not known to Messiah (in respect to salvation) nor do they know Him.
“And answering, He said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” -Matthew 15:3
“Hypocrites! Rightly did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying, ‘This people honours Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” -Matthew 15:7-9 TLV
To the Hebrew the heart “levav” is not simply the seat of emotion but rather the centre of the being where all parts of the human existence converge. Therefore, this text is not saying that the people are devoid of an emotional love toward God, rather it is saying that their entire human existence is wilfully numb to Him, relationally, spiritually, physically, mentally and so on. Thus the commandment says, “Love the Lord your God with all your levav core being, heart, and with all your nefesh soul, and with all your meod exceeding strength.”
Isa 29:14 Therefore, hineni now, behold, yosif adding, increasing, again I will do a marvellous work among ha-am the people, ha-zeh this one, ha-pelei va-pele a distinguishing act, difficult to understand, and a wonder: for destroyed will be the wisdom of their wise ones, and the discernment of their prudent ones will be hidden, concealed.
“Therefore” because you refuse to receive My warning through Torah and the prophets, specifically the words of Isaiah, and because you have chosen blindness over sight and the wisdom of humanity over the wisdom of God. I will give you over to the self-destruction of your human wisdom and true discernment will be hidden from you.
“Hineni” Wake up and listen!!! One last plea for repentance.
“A marvellous work” A work of God that will astound and leave the people in awe. This work is in one of its fulfilments, seen in the overnight defeat of the Assyrians. However, the prophet has also been speaking of the spiritual redemption of Israel yet future. Thus this marvellous work must also refer to something more, something associated to the Messiah, the stone.
“The people, this one” Is Judah and by extension Israel as a whole.
“Ha-pelei va pele” is a repetition that denotes a firmly established work. The Hebrew “pele” means, “a wonder, extraordinary, a distinguishing act, an act difficult to understand”. The doubling of this phrase makes the establishment of this act immutable. It is done on earth as it is done in heaven.
Whatever this wonderful extraordinary act is, it will expose and destroy the wisdom of humanity and blind the wicked who have claimed to see.
Isa 29:15 Oy Grief, hope, heart wrenching woe, unto the ones who seek profound things: from HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) they seek to hide their counsel and have come into dark deeds, and they say, “Who sees us? and who knows us?”
The plain meaning as it pertains to the history of the period infers that a powerful group connected to the military and political leadership of Judah were attempting to undermine Hezekiah’s kingship by making secret alliances with Egypt against the Assyrians. They did this in secret knowing that Isaiah and therefore, the Lord, was opposed to their plans. Thus, in a very literal way the prophet’s words describe and expose the true motivation of these leaders of Judah, who think that no one sees them or knows what they are planning.
Spiritually speaking the living mashal of the historical figures corresponds to the practices of all who seek to hide their plans from God. The thinking of the one who seeks to hide his sin is twice flawed: it first presumes that God is not omniscient (All knowing), and then believes that if he is not found out he will not be punished. This thinking stems from a world view that stands in judgement of God and His Prophets (Nevi’iym), Writings (Ketuviym) and Instruction (Torah). Those who consider themselves worthy of standing in judgement over Gods Word will, to their dismay, find themselves being judged by it. Philosophy over thinks itself into oblivion and theology presumes to illuminate hidden things: both are the constructs of human wisdom. In our search for the profound we have become enamoured by our own counsel and have manifested dark deeds. We think ourselves unseen and unknown but we are seen, we are known.
Isa 29:16 Hafkechem The perversities (turning upside down) you fashion are regarded like a potter's clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, “He didn’t make me?” or shall the thing fashioned say of him that fashioned it, “He had no understanding”?
The literal and plain meaning of the Hebrew text of this verse is often misunderstood due to its similarity to the potter/clay references in Isaiah 45 and 64. While Adonay is later described as a Potter and Israel the clay, and while in the latter context of Isaiah this is used comparatively by Rav Shaul (Paul) the apostle in Romans 9:21, it is not the case here. The present use of the potter and clay simile is in regard to the perverse actions of the rebellious people of Judah and not in relationship to God. It is the perversities fashioned by the rebellious people of Judah that are the works/moulded clay. Judah is the potter and in spite of her attempts to hide her wicked deeds (see previous verse), the deeds themselves testify against her. Therefore, the clay in its completed form reflects the character of the potter, who in this case is Judah/Israel. Context is essential.
Isa 29:17 Is it not so, that in a very little while, Levanon (witness) will be turned la-carmel into a fruitful orchard, a plantation and a highly esteemed forest?
The promise of redemption begins with a counterpoint to the “Upside down” perversion described in the previous verse. HaShem will turn the barrenness of Levanon on its head and cause the lands of Israel’s northern neighbours to flourish like the Carmel (from kerem: vineyard), which was the lush agricultural region by the Mediterranean ocean belonging to Manasseh, one of the sons of the Yosef (HaShem adds) [See. 29:14].
Isa 29:18 Veshamu And hearing, listening, obeying bayom in the day ha-hu that one (the he) the deaf divreiy the words, essence, substance of seifer a book, and out of obscurity, and out of darkness, the eyes of the blind will see.
In a day or time period yet future, the deaf (spiritually deaf) of Judah (Israel) will have their ears opened to a book or scroll. This may refer specifically to the scroll of Isaiah and its quotation by Yeshua the Messiah. Or it may be a figure for the Messiah, Yeshua being Ha-D’var the Word, Essence, Substance of God with us. Like the book of the current verse Messiah Yeshua’s life was and is heard by those who were once deaf and has and will bring sight to those who were once blind: for the Jew first, and also for the nations.
Isa 29:19 Veyasefu (from Yasaf) Added to the afflicted ba-YHVH in HaShem (Mercy), simchah joy, and the poor among adam humanity bik’dosh in the holiness (set apartness) of Yisrael (overcomes in God) will rejoice [in the Holy One of Israel will rejoice].
This is now the second use of the Hebrew root yasaf “add”. God has firmly established and made immutable the fruitfulness, mercy and joy of His redemptive work.
It is to those afflicted in Him that He will add joy, and those who are poor in spirit among all humanity, who have also recognized Him as the Holy One of Israel, will be set apart for rejoicing.
There will be no place for those who reject the God of Israel and His chosen people, ethnic-religious.
Isa 29:20 Because an end will come to striking terror, and the scornful mouth will be consumed, and all who are awake to wickedness will be cut off:
The “striking terror” is the foreign oppressor and the “scornful mouth” is the native Judean cynic.
Isa 29:21 Those who condemn a man for a word, and lay a snare for him who judges in the gate, and pervert with emptiness a tzadiyk righteous one.
This is a description of injustice, both on an individual level in giving false testimony and on a corporate level at the city gate where the elders of the city sit in judgement. With no evidence the wicked pervert the course of a righteous man’s life. There will be an end to this in Judah and all Israel. In order for Yaakov to be without shame he must first repent.
Isa 29:22 Therefore thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), to the house of Yaakov (Follower), Who redeemed Avraham (Father of Many Peoples), concerning the house of Yaakov, “No shame now Yaakov, neither will his face now grow pale.”
With great compassion and mercy HaShem speaks of Yaakov’s (Israel’s) redemption. A time, spoken of in both the present and future tense. “No shame now Yaakov” and “Neither will his face grow pale”. The prophet speaks of a time now and yet to come when Jacob (Israel) will be free of foreign oppression and of domestic injustice.
Isa 29:23 Because when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in the midst of him, yakedishu (From Kadash: be holy, set apart) they swill sanctify (set apart) My name, vehi-yakedishu and sanctify et Kadosh the Holy One of Yaakov, ve’et Eloheiy and be in awe of the God (Judge) of Yisrael (Overcomes in God).
According to the plain meaning of the text he children are the ethnic descendants of Jacob (Israel). They are the work of God’s hands because for all intent and purposes they have miraculously survived their oppressors and the division within their own people. Thus, having witnessed the mercy of God upon their nation, the children of Jacob will stand among their people Israel, and in the midst of the land of Israel and will sanctify, set apart and devotedly worship the Holy One of Israel.
Isa 29:24 And he who is known to have erred in spirit will understand, and they that were backbiters (whisperers) shall learn to receive instruction.
God will show mercy to the repentant ones who have sinned against Him in spirit and they will understand and return to Him. Likewise, the dissenters among the people of Israel will repent and seek out the instruction of God.
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
Even when God goes to war against His people, He does so proportionately and for the sake of their redemption. Therefore, even the harsh rebuke of God toward His people is heard by the righteous as “wonderful counsel, and great wisdom.”
Chapter 28 of Isaiah begins a section (28-33) of the scroll sometimes referred to as “The Book of Woes” because each oracle begins with the Exclamation “Oy”, a Hebrew expression with diverse meaning. In many ways it is a nigun-like (vocalization of spiritual emotion) expression that takes on the emotion of the speaker and his or her circumstance and or expectations. In each of the pursuant chapters the expression is one of mourning mixed with warning, anticipation fused with certain gloom.
This first “Oy (woe)” is spoken against the “drunkards of Ephraim”, who have been doubly fruitful in their sin against HaShem. God then warns the rulers of Jerusalem that unless they repent they will share the fate of Samaria. Ephraim represents fallen Israel and is linked to Samaria in league with those who oppose God. However, Judah and Benjamin are now also rebuked and warned in light of Judah’s role in producing the coming Messiah: the “Stone” who Hashem will establish in her.
Each of these “Oy’s (woes)” are equally applicable today. Beginning with His ethnic-religious chosen people (Israel) God continues to warn all of humanity (including the Church) against descent into destruction.
Isa 28:1 Oy (Alas, Woe), crown of majesty, drunken Ephrayim (Doubly fruitful), ve’tzitz and your flower (bloom, shiny thing) of noveil senseless (foolish) beauty, whose glorious beauty is on the head of the valleys of shemaniym (oil, fat, fig: abundance) conquered with wine!
This beautiful poetic description of Ephraim’s (10 tribes) abundance is a testimony of the prosperity that will soon be lost if Ephraim fails to repent of idolatry.
The produce and wine of the region of the 10 tribes was renowned. The inhabitants of Samaria and the adjacent territories were said to be especially addicted to the vice of alcohol. The ancient city Sichem, thought to be the same as Sychar (John 4:5) is said to be named for the drunkenness of the inhabitants.
The drunkenness of Ephraim is both literal and metaphorical. The 10 tribes have engaged in literal drunkenness associated to sinful practices while also becoming drunk on the practices of heathen worship, adopted from ancient beliefs attached to the land and from the strong oppressors that have surrounded Israel. The two calves that had been set up in Dan and Bethel testify against Ephraim along with the more recent idolatries adopted from other nations.
Isa 28:2 Hinei Now (Behold, Pay attention) strong and mighty is Adonay (Lord), a tempest of hail, a storm of destruction, as a flood of many mighty waters overflowing (washing), hiniyakh resting on la’aretz the land beyad in the hand. Isa 28:3 Be’raglayim By many feet trampling the crown of majesty, of drunken Ephrayim:
God Himself is against Ephraim’s idolatry. God will soon use Shalmaneser king of Assyria to bring down the lofty pride of Ephraim and pillage her beauty and fruitfulness.
Samaria fell to the Assyrians in 722 BCE: therefore, this prophecy was pronounced some time prior to that date.
Isa 28:4 And it has come to pass your flower (bloom, shiny thing) of noveil senseless (foolish) beauty, whose glorious beauty is on the head of the valleys of shemaniym (oil, fat, fig: abundance), will be as the fruit that ripens before the summer; which when looked upon the inspection will continually remain in hand and be swallowed up.
The prophet describes the literal beauty of the lands of the 10 tribes and especially of Samaria, the region which is chief among them: using this description as a living representation of the seasonal and temporary nature of the abundance they have enjoyed. Her fruitfulness is described for the second time in identical terms as an affirmation of her certain desolation. Ephraim/Samaria is called a “senseless beauty”, the glory she enjoys is temporary, here today and gone tomorrow. Why? Because it is born of the worship of temporal and worthless things.
The fruit that ripens early is unexpected and comes in small amounts that are quickly eaten due to the grower’s anticipation of the tree fruiting in abundance at the proper time. When a time of famine or war follows, the grower regrets having hastily eaten the small amount of fruit he had formerly enjoyed. The grower is left with nothing. This is a “mashal” parable warning the inhabitants of Ephraim and Samaria of the coming desolation.
Isa 28:5 Ba’yom In the day ha-hu that (he) one, it has come to pass that HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (of hosts) Who goes to war, will be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of splendour, unto the remainder of amo His people,
“In the day” usually refers either to a new era or to a specific day or period of judgement that is yet future. The qualifying phrase “that one” means that that the prophet has a specific day or time period in mind. In this case it refers specifically to the day when Assyria will invade and conquer, albeit temporarily. However, because Hebrew prophecy allows for cyclical fulfilment, it can also be seen to prophecy something still yet future in our time.
“It has come to pass” means that from HaShem’s perspective outside of time and space, these events have already been made complete.
It is “YHVH Tzevaot” Mercy going to war, Who will replace Ephraim’s defiled temporary crown with Himself, The Crown of her glory, the God of Mercy Going to War will be the Crown and Ruler over the remnant of Ephraim. Ephraim are the 10 tribes who have resisted God’s rightful King Who comes forth from Judah. Therefore, God is disciplining her in order to reunite her to Himself and to His appointed King Messiah, the descendant of David.
Note that even in judgement, God calls the wayward tribes of Ephraim “Amo” His people. He has never completely rejected or turned away from any of the tribes of ethnic religious Israel.
The Jewish commentator Yarchi interprets the present verse of those righteous among the 10 tribes that were left in Samaria, or in the region of Ephraim: while Kimchi believes that the two tribes Judah and Benjamin are the remnant, because pursuant to the trouble of Assyria they remained in their own land while others were carried away as captives.
The Targum paraphrases it:
"In that day shall the Messiah of the Lord of hosts be for a crown of praise to the remnant of His people'' -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE/AD)
The Messiah then is returning as a Warrior King. It is a mistake to teach, as some do, that the Messiah will return in peace. He will bring about peace but He will return in war in order to both physically and spiritually redeem His people, ethnic-religious Israel.
The Jewish commentator Kimchi says the ancient Rabbis recognise this text as referring to the King Messiah, and the inception of the Olam Haba world to come, when both the kingly and priestly glory will be revealed as having been restored; the one being signified by the "crown of glory", the other by the "diadem of splendour".
Isa 28:6 Uleruakh And for a spirit (wind, breath) of mishpat judgment (justice) upon hamishpat the one sitting in judgement, and for strength meshiveiy from turning, for those battling at the gate.
While this may well refer to a specific ruler of Israel in the days following the prophecy, it also concerns the coming King Messiah Who is filled with the Spirit of God, a Spirit of judgement and discernment, of counsel and comfort. This same Spirit being poured out from heaven of both the Father and the Son upon His faithful servants of the latter days. A spirit of courage that will strengthen each one to defend the gate of Jerusalem both literally and metaphorically/spiritually.
Isa 28:7 Ve’gam And also they in wine shagu go astray, and in strong drink stagger in error; cohen priest and navi prophet go astray in strong drink, they are swallowed up by the wine, they stagger in error through strong drink; in seeing (vision) they go astray, stumbling vision, they make pronouncements of stumbling.
“And also” should be understood as “Meanwhile”.
The spiritual leaders of the people of Ephraim and the region of Samaria, both priests (counsellors) and prophets (guides) are literally drunk and spiritually full of idolatry. Thus, they lead the people to stumble in syncretistic worship: compromising the purity of Biblical Judaism with the desecrations of foreign gods.
Drunkenness is particularly heinous for a priest according to the instruction of Leviticus 10:9.
On the other hand, if we interpret “And also” as Yarchi does, then we must apply the drunkenness of the cohenim and the nevi’im to the tribes that still seek to pursue the appointed place of worship on Moriah in Jerusalem. Thus, Judah and Benjamin would be indicted and the prophecy must be referring to their captivity at a later date nearer the Babylonian captivity and still further following the Roman decimation of Jerusalem in 70 CE/AD.
It should be noted that these accusations are specifically levelled against the false priest and the false prophet. They clearly do not apply to Isaiah and his righteous contemporaries.
“For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.” -Malachi 2:7 (KJV)
Drunkenness, be it literal or metaphorical, is in direct contradiction to the role of priesthood. This remains true today for those who lead God’s people, both Jew and Gentile.
Isa 28:8 For all tables are full of vomit, tzoah excrement, wearing out the place.
This graphic reality is also a metaphor for the fact that what is coming out of the mouths of the false priests and prophets, is of equal value to excrement.
The phrase “Wearing out the place” is sometimes interpreted to mean “Leaving no place clean” and thus signifies that the place is “without the touch of God’s sanctity”. This idea comes from the literal interpretation of the phrase “Beli Makom” (In no place), which acts as a sort of counterpoint to the Temple Mount title “Ha-Makom” The Place. Therefore, The Place is sacred and sanctified by God by the placing of His Name, whereas No Place must be the opposite.
Isa 28:9 To who will he yoreh throw, pour out deiah knowledge? and who will receive yavin understanding, discernment that is announced? Those weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
The “he” spoken of here is neither the drunken priest or prophet, but is either the righteous priest or prophet, or the King Messiah previously alluded to, or God Himself. I have not capitalized the “he” because it is not clear from the text which of these the determiner applies to. What is clear is that this teaching of knowledge and understanding ultimately comes from God because it is the enemy who teaches confusion and misunderstanding.
The weaned child and the infant are the only ones among the idolatrous people who are able to receive the good teaching of God because they have not yet encountered (at an age of understanding) the sinful and idolatrous teaching of their parents.
Isa 28:10 For tzav command la’tzav upon command, tzav command la’tzav upon command; kav measuring line la’kav upon measuring line, kav measuring line la’kav upon measuring line; a little here, a little here:
These words read as a simplistic taunt. The prophet must speak simply and clearly to Ephraim and Samaria, as if to young children who are not yet able to chew meat.
“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” -Hebrews 5:12 (KJV)
Isa 28:11 For bela’ageiy with mocking sapah language (lips, speech, binding) uvlashon and a tongue that’s different will he yedabeir declare to ha-am this tribe (people).
This is another reference to baby talk, the kind of “Doo do do, da da da” talk that one speaks to a new born.
Ultimately God will discipline His people using the language (tongue) of a different nation, when He sends His people into exile at the hands of their enemies (Jeremiah 5:15; 1 Corinthians 14:21). As a sobering reminder the Rav Shaul (Apostle Paul) warns the Corinthian believers (and us) not to fall into the same sin lest they (we) also fall under the same discipline.
The term “am” people/tribe is used here rather than “goy” nation, because this rebuke is specifically aimed at Ephraim, the 10 tribes and the inhabitants of Samaria.
Isa 28:12 To those He said, “This is the resting place where you may cause the weary to rest; and this is the place of refreshing”: yet they were not willing shemoa to listen, hear, receive, understand.
“To whom the prophets said” -Targum Yonatan
God had offered peace and security to His people through the instruction of the Torah and the prophets and yet they had refused His good instruction and instead turned to idolatry and self-indulgence: refusing to listen to and live out of sound understanding in righteousness. Therefore, they had rejected the resting place of refreshing that God had offered them, forsaking it for the empty promises of false gods.
Isa 28:13 Vehayah And it has come to pass that to these, the Devar Word (essence) of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) is, “tzav command la’tzav upon command, tzav command la’tzav upon command; kav measuring line la’kav upon measuring line, kav measuring line la’kav upon measuring line; a little here, a little here:” purposed that they might walk, and stumble, fall backward, and be broken to pieces, and lured into a trap, and captured.
These words repeat the back to basics warning of verse 10 so as to make known to the people that God had firmly established the outcome.
The “Devar” Word (John 1) has come to them with the simplest and clearest of instruction. But because they have refused even this basic instruction He will give them over to their own self-induced confusion, stumbling and bondage.
‘Then He said:
“Go! Tell this people:
‘Hear without understanding,
and see without perceiving.’
Make the heart of this people fat,
their ears heavy, and their eyes blind.
Else they would see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their heart,
and return, and be healed.”’
-Isaiah 6:9-10 TLV
‘For this reason I speak to them in parables,
because seeing they do not see,
and hearing they do not hear nor do they understand.
“And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,
‘You will keep on hearing
but will never understand;
you will keep looking,
but will never see.
15 For the heart of this people has become dull,
their ears can barely hear, and they have shut their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts.
Then they would turn back,
and I would heal them.’”
-Matthew 13:14-15 TLV
In many ways the prophet Isaiah was a forerunner to the Messiah Yeshua, even sharing a name of the same meaning.
Isa 28:14 Therefore, shem’u listen, hear, receive, understand the Devar word (essence) of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), “You bragging men, that rule ha-am this tribe (people) which is biyerushalayim in Jerusalem (downpour of peace).
This verse is pivotal in what comes next. The Devar (Word) has been alluded to prior to this: now the people are called to listen to and receive the Word. Refusal to do so will result in both physical and spiritual desolation. Note that it is the person of YHVH Mercy, Who is offering the Word (Yeshua: John 1) as the means by which Israel (ethnic-religious empirical) might understand and find reconciliation to God.
This warning will be judgement to the unrepentant but salvation to the repentant. This Word is coming, not to Ephraim but specifically to the tribe that is in Jerusalem, that is Judah and by implication Benjamin.
The Hebrew “Anshei Latzon” (Men of bragging) is a play on words against the phrase “Anshei Tziyon” (Men of Zion). The prophet infers that the arrogance of the rulers of Jerusalem has tarnished the honour of the title “Men of Zion”, that is, “Men of the place where God has placed His Name”.
Isa 28:15 Because you have said, “We have cut a covenant with death, and with sheol (holding place of the departed) we have an agreement; when the overflowing scourge shoteiph engulfs (washes, overflows) ya’avorek to alienate, pass through, it shall not come to us: for we have samenu appointed cazav lies (Falsehood, untruth, a deceptive thing) our refuge, u’vakesher deception (disappointment) our hiding place:”
As is true in many other places in Scripture, the wicked condemn themselves with their own words. Thus, the prophet reminds the people of Judah of their claim to be protected from death and the place of the dead through occult practices that sought to make bargains with demons through blood sacrifice. While the people of Judah may not have literally claimed to have made lies their refuge, they had made the teachings of false religions their refuge, and while they may not have literally claimed to have made deception their hiding place, they had invested their time in heathen practices and occult rituals that had blinded them to the truth of God. Therefore, the words of the prophet are an accurate representation of what the people thought, said, believed and lived.
The people of Judah had rejected God as their Rock and Foundation and had instead made the false gods and religious practices of the enemies of God their rocks and foundations.
Isa 28:16 Therefore thus says Adonay Lord Hashem (YHVH: Mercy), “Hineni Now, Behold (Make yourselves ready), I yesad fix, establish (lay a foundation), be’Tziyon in Zion (Parched land) a aven even stone, stone, bochan tested, proved (tried), pinat a pinnacle, angled, chief (corner, Ruler) yikrat precious, valuable, weighty, rare, splendid, a musad musad foundation, foundation: hama’amiyn the supporter, faithful, believer will not hurry.
Therefore thus says Adonai Elohim:
‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a tested stone,
a costly cornerstone, a firm foundation--
whoever trusts will not flee in haste. TLV
Targum Yonatan 2nd Century Aramaic Paraphrase:
Therefore, thus says the Lord God, Behold, I appoint a King in Zion; a King mighty, powerful, and terrible: I will make Him powerful, and I will strengthen Him, says the prophet. But the righteous, who believe these things shall not be moved, when distress shall come.
The commentator Rashi agrees with the Targum, that the stone is the “King Messiah”.
In light of the false foundations of Judah (Idolatry, occult practices, death covenants etc.) that had lead them into self-destruction and a false sense of security, God offers the ultimate solution and their only true means of reconciliation and life. Where Judah had fooled herself into thinking she was protected from death (though she was not), God offers an established stone (Messiah) that will bring eternal life.
It is God as “Lord of Mercy” Who comes to Judah with a proclamation of hope in the midst of her disobedience. Hineni is both an attention grabber and a warning, an emotional plea for the ears of the people.
“I firmly fix and establish a foundation in Zion”: we can understand this as “I have, I am, I will” because the foundation is eternally past, present and future. It is founded in the established sense but not necessarily in the locational sense.
God establishes this stone in a parched land (Zion). Why? Because it is the parched land that is most in need of living water (Num. 20) from the stone.
The Hebrew says “aven even” stone, stone. This stone is an immutable reality. What’s more it is a tried and tested, proven thing. One looks at the Hebrew word even (stone) and sees the Hebrew words for father and son present within it: “Av” and “Ben”. This stone is understood by the rabbis as being the stone through which the universe was created: the stone upon which Avraham sought to slay Isaac and Jacob lay his head: the stone that lay at the threshing floor purchased by David and became the foundation of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Hebrew even (stone) contains both father and son and is centred on the Hebrew character for House “Beit”. This word alone illuminates what is to come, but it is only the smallest part of the whole.
The Hebrew “yesad” means to fix, establish, and is rendered as “foundation” in a figurative sense. The Hebrew “pinat” means, sharp, angle, pinnacle, and corner, but not only corner. Likewise, it can be rendered figuratively to represent a chief or ruler. The stone in question is most certainly a chief, a ruler, but what is less certain from the Hebrew text, is whether this stone should be understood as a corner stone. While “corner stone” is an acceptable translation, I believe we are better to understand it in the sense of a firmly established entity upon which both the earthly (literal) and divine (heavenly) Temples are built.
Further to our discussion of the placement of the stone, we should consider that the psalmist uses the same language to describe the stone the builders rejected as the “Head Pinnacle” from the Hebrew “Lerosh pinah”. Pinah shares it’s root with “Pinat” which is used in Isaiah 28:16. In fact this is the same stone, alluded to by both these Hebrew prophetic/poetry writings, recorded centuries apart. The Hebrew Pinah, while it can by implication mean corner, is more literally rendered as pinnacle or angle. This is why English versions like the TLV choose to call it a capstone rather than a corner stone.
“The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone.” -Psalm 118:22 TLV
When Yeshua is quoted in Matthew as referring to Psalm 118:22, the Greek word used is “gonia” which carries the same ambiguous meaning as its Hebrew counterpart “pinah”. Thus we can read:
“Yeshua said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvellous in our eyes’” -Matthew 21:42 (Psalm 118:22)
Some Christian commentators offer the false choice that this is either the foundation stone of the Temple (As some of the rabbis say) or the capstone of the Temple, or Yeshua, but it can’t be all three. This is nonsense, it can be all three because of the nature of the Hebrew Scriptures and the way that the Hebrew language is used to convey ideas. It is both a literal stone (Yeshua is not literally a stone), as either the corner foundation or the established stone of the pinnacle and at the same time it is metaphorically Yeshua (the stone is not metaphorically a stone). Therefore, I suggest that we not be sucked into making false choices. Rather, we should make discerning interpretations according to the unity of the Spirit and the Word and sound judgement.
We note that the stone is “yikrat precious, valuable, weighty, rare, splendid” and that it is “musad musad foundation, foundation” an immutable foundation, something that can be said of no earthly stone.
“The faithful believer will not hurry” seems to convey the idea that the revelation of this stone must be accepted in its time. That the servant of HaShem must not be anxious in seeking the revelation of it but must trust in Hashem’s timing. The more traditional translations suggest that the one who trusts in this stone will not be put to shame. This is due to comparisons with the Septuagint and New Testament versions of the same text, and is also an acceptable interpretation.
What is this stone, or, who does it represent? Given that much of Isaiah and in particular this chapter, uses metaphorical and poetic language that conveys much more than simple literal ideas.
In the blessing pronounced of Joseph, Jacob prophecies the coming Messiah using the metaphor of the “even” (stone), and implicitly acknowledges the fact that the coming Messiah, like Joseph, will be crowned and set apart from His brothers (Jews, ethnic Israelites).
“Yet his bow was always filled,
and his arms quick-moving--
by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob.
From there a Shepherd,
the Stone of Israel…
The blessings of your father surpassed
the blessings of the ancient mountains,
the desire of the everlasting hills.
May they be upon Joseph’s head,
upon the crown of the one set apart from his brothers.” -Genesis 49:24, 26 TLV
The writers of the Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) reveal in unison the meaning of the stone of Isaiah 28:
“Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:
“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;” -Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11 (Psalm 118:22)
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation (establishment) of the apostles and prophets, with Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) himself as the chief (Head) capstone.” -Ephesians 2:19-20
In each of the Gospel quotes Yeshua is identifying Himself as the stone, and in the letter to the Ephesians Yeshua is named as the Head of the Pinnacle (capstone).
We must remember that the words established and foundation are both accurate translations of the Hebrew and Greek texts but both give an entirely different meaning. Even so, both meanings convey the essence of Messiah, given that He is both the foundation of all things and the Head of all things under the Father God. Therefore, the ambiguity is intentional because it further illuminates a truth that is beyond human understanding.
Further to these NT quotes are the quotes regarding. The second half of Isaiah 28:16:
“As it is written:
“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.” -Romans 9:33 (10:11); 1 Peter 2:6 NIV
Once again the New Testament writers are referring to Yeshua as the stone of Isaiah 28:16. There is therefore, no doubt in the mind of the disciple of Yeshua. He is the stone of Isaiah 28:16. He is both the foundation of all things and the Head of the Temple (Worship) of God and of ethnic-religious Israel and the community of faith (Ecclesia: Church).
Isa 28:17 And I will appoint judgement (justice) le’kav as a measuring line, u’tzedakah and righteousness as a levelling tool: sweep away with hail, the refuge of cazav lies (Falsehood, untruth, a deceptive thing), and the hiding place will be engulfed (washed), in waters.
This verse is the counterpoint to verse 15 and the false security and refuge of deception that Judah had trusted in.
A measuring or plumbline is used by builders to ensure that subsequent stones line up with the foundation and or corner stone. Additionally a measuring line ensures the placement of the capstone. Thus the justice of God keeps the stones of the building connected to and in line with the corner, foundation, or capstone described in the previous verse.
The levelling tool is used to makes sure that once in place, the stones of the building remain level, so as not to compromise the structural integrity of the building. Thus righteousness born of justice maintains the soundness of the building.
This metaphor is applied to the house of Israel, specifically Judah, under the reign of the stone, that is, the King Messiah, Who is referred to in the previous verse as the stone. When Judah (Israel) sees Him established, those false things she once trusted in will be swept away before His justice and the righteousness that results from the firm foundation of His faithful rule.
Isa 28:18 And your covenant with death will be made null and void (covered over/purged), and your agreement with sheol will not arise (stand); when the overflowing scourge shoteiph engulfs (washes, overflows) ya’avorek to alienate, pass through, it will come to pass that you will be trodden down by it.
The occult covenant that the inhabitants of Jerusalem had made with death will be nullified, both in the sense that they will die regardless and in the sense that the King Messiah will bring freedom from death and eternal life through the covering He makes. This is why the Hebrew literally reads, “Your covenant with death will be covered.” Meaning that although humanity chose to sin against God in the beginning and through sin allowed death entry into the world, the King Messiah would make covering (purging) atonement for humanity and render the power of death null and void.
Isa 28:19 From the time it takes to pass through (alienate) and take hold of you: because morning by morning it will pass through (alienate), by day and by night: and it has come to pass that it will surely horrify you, alone you will discern, understand the report.
In an historical sense the sweeping away of Judah’s idolatry and trust in false things will occur at the hand s of invading armies who will carry her inhabitants away as captives. Though the Assyrians only besieged Jerusalem, both the Babylonians and ultimately the Romans (at a much later date) decimated the city.
The poetic language “morning by morning” and “by day and night” indicates that when this happens it will come upon Israel abruptly when she is unprepared and will be unrelenting until she is carried away.
Isa 28:20 For the bed is shorter than the length of a man nor can he stretch himself out on it: and the covering to narrow to cover, so that he cannot wrap himself in it.
These proverbs affirm the discomfort of a people under siege and again find their historical fulfilment in the siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrian army and eventually the Babylonian captivity and the much later Roman destruction of the city.
A person under siege cannot sleep, his bed seems too short, his nights restless and wakeful. He is unable to keep warm because his blanket is too narrow to cover his body, so that one part is warmed only to be woken by another part exposed to the cold.
In a spiritual sense this is true of all who trust in false gods and beliefs. The bed of the false god is too short and the blanket of false belief will never keep us warm. The result being a life of spiritual torment, unrest and discomfort.
Isa 28:21 For as in mount Peratziym (breeches) HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) will arise, as in the valley of Giveon (hill city) He shook with rage, to accomplish, (fashion, do) His work, His strange work; and to serve His service (labour), His strange service (labour).
The Lord fought on the side of David against the Philistines at Mount Perazim (2 Samuel 5:20), and with Joshua in the valley of Gibeon (Joshua 10:10). Now He will do the strange thing of fighting against the very people He has helped in the past. What a terrible realization for Israel. The prophet is saying that because they have rejected the security of the God of their fathers they will now be treated, albeit temporarily, as His enemies.
Isa 28:22 Now therefore don’t be mockers, lest your bonds be strengthened: for kalah termination (full end, destruction) and cutting I have heard from Adonay Lord HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (of hosts) Who goes to war, upon all Ha-aretz the land.
The right response to the prophet’s words is repentance. Thus he warns Judah not to mock the words of the Lord lest their discipline become greater. When a captive seeks to escape and is recaptured, he is subjected to greater torment and his bonds are strengthened so that there is no hope for escape.
These words are spoken specifically against Ha-aretz, the land of Israel.
In a spiritual sense this same warning applies to those who would mock God’s word and the redemption offered through His Son the King Messiah:
“How much more severe do you think the punishment will be for the one who has trampled Ben-Elohim underfoot, and has regarded as unholy the blood of the covenant by which he was made holy, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” -Hebrews 10:29 TLV
Isa 28:23 listen, u’shimeu and hear (receive, understand) koliy My voice; hearken, and ve’shimeu and hear (receive, understand) my speech, utterance (Torah, Word of God).
Here Isaiah speaks words that echo through history and have indeed come to him from the mouth of the pre-existent Messiah. Words that call Israel and all humanity to take note and listen lest anyone find himself unable to hear (Jeremiah 6:10; Ezekiel 12:2; Matthew 13:15; Romans 11:8):
“And Yeshua said, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear’” -Mark 4:9, 23; Luke 8:8, 14:35
These words precede the mashal (parable) that Isaiah is about to tell. He depicts God as a farmer apportioning grain and threshing each crop according to its unique qualities.
The Messiah that Isaiah has been prophesying about will also speak in similar mashaliym (parables), referring to God as a farmer (Matthew 13:1-52).
Isa 28:24 The whole day the ploughman cuts a furrow to seed the opening and break the clods of his ground.
In the same way that the farmer prepares the soil by ploughing, God prepares the soil of the hearts of His people by ploughing. Ploughing breaks up the soil and busts open the thick clods that might hinder the growth of the plants that the soil will be seeded with. In the same way God, through discipline and with forethought, breaks up the soil of the hearts and minds of His people: preparing them for the good seed that will deliver a rich crop.
Isa 28:25 When he has prepared the face of the soil, does he not scatter abroad the black cumin, and cast the cumin, and throw in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rye in their place?
After ploughing the soil is harrowed, refined further and smoothed until it is ready to receive the seed. Thus the face of the soil looks upon the face of the farmer, ready to receive what the farmer has to offer. Hard unploughed earth is unable to receive anything.
Each crop is seeded at the appropriate time and in the appropriate soil type in order to yield the best results. Likewise God seeds the lives of His people with the appropriate instruction and the primary crop of salvation.
The Targum further illuminates the practice of the sower:
“as wheat is sown in an uncultivated field, and barley by the signs, and rye by the borders;”
Each crop is seeded in a different field according to the Torah (Lev. 19:19).
Isa 28:26 For he is instructed with good judgement, his God casts (seeds) teaching him.
The farmer receives his wisdom and good judgement from God. In other words, the greatest of farmers teaches His people how best to seed their own land. In a spiritual sense this means seeding the soil of our soul existence with the seed of God’s Messiah and the instruction of His word.
Isa 28:27 For the black cumin is not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about upon the cumin; but the black cumin is beaten out ba’mateh (branch, tribe) with a staff, and the cumin ba’shavet with a rod (Sceptre, branch).
This is an allegory of mercy. God does not over discipline His people. Rather He apportions discipline with grace, afflicting His people according to what they can bear and for the purpose of their redemption.
Isa 28:28 Bread is bruised; because he will never tread on it, threshing it, nor break it with the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it with his horsemen.
The Hebrew “Lechem” can mean bread, grain, food etc. Here is refers to the grain that bread or food is produced from.
Isa 28:29 This also comes forth from HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (of hosts) Who goes to war, going forward with wonderful counsel, and great tushiyah wisdom (sound knowledge, abiding success, ).
Even when God goes to war against His people, He does so proportionately and for the sake of their redemption. Therefore, even the harsh rebuke of God toward His people is heard by the righteous as “wonderful counsel, and great wisdom.”
Ultimately, as fierce as this text may seem, it is seeded with mercy and grace and has in mind the goal of Israel’s redemption.
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.