“Before distress cometh upon her, she shall be redeemed; and before trembling cometh upon her, like the pains upon a woman in child-bearings her King shall be revealed.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
In the former chapter God, through His prophet Isaiah, affirmed His continued faithfulness to the remnant of Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen) and the establishment of redeemed Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen) in the Olam Haba (World to come). From verse 17 of chapter 65 onwards the New creation is described and illuminated in beautiful poetic detail and the first verse of the current chapter is a continuation of HaShem’s prophetic revelation of what is yet to come for both Israel and the nations.
Isa 66:1 Koh amar Thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy): “Ha-shamayim The heavens are kisiy My throne, ve’ha’aretz and the land (earth) hadom raglay is My footstool; eiy-zeh where is it, bayit a house asher tivnu-liy that you would build for Me, ve’eiy-zeh and where is makum menuchatiy a place of My resting (comfort, quietness, rest)?
When the heavens and the earth are alluded to in relation to HaShem’s authority over them, all creation is meant. The figurative language intends to convey God’s sovereignty over all things and to remind humanity of its lowly status and need for humility and awe before Him.
Because God is all existing, uncreated, invisible, all knowing, all present and all powerful, a human building could never contain Him. Therefore, HaShem speaks to Israel to say, “The Temple of Solomon was nothing more than a figure representing unseen things, it is merely a building and could never contain Me, nor are human beings worthy of building a house for the One Who has housed them on earth and within the universe.”
The Hebrew offers a double reference to the Temple Mount by saying “Beiyt” house, which refers to the Temple and “makum” place, a contracted form of “Ha-Makum” The Place, which refers to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The language “My rest” or “My resting place” is an allusion to Solomon’s Temple and the desire of both king David and Solomon to build a house for the honouring and worship of YHVH, the God of Israel.
There is also a locational connection here to the Throne of God and the Servant King Messiah, Who sits at the right hand of God’s throne, again, in a manifest sense that does not limit the all existing nature of God. All that we see, even the vision of Stephen the first Messianic Jewish martyr, is a manifestation of God but does not limit Him or confine Him to the created order, be it heavenly or earthly (Acts 7:55-56).
The Messiah follower Stephen (A Grecian Jew) quotes this passage of Isaiah in his rebuke of the apostate Jewish men of the first century C.E. following the death, resurrection and ascent of the Servant King Messiah Yeshua.
44 “Our fathers had the Tent of Witness in the wilderness—just as the One speaking to Moses had directed him to make it according to the design he had seen. 45 Our fathers received it in turn and brought it in with Joshua when they took possession of the land of the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it remained until the days of David, 46 who found favor in God’s sight. He asked to find a dwelling place for the God[i] of Jacob. 47 But Solomon built a house for Him. 48 However, Elyon does not dwell in man-made houses. As the prophet says,
49 ‘Heaven is My throne,
and the earth is the footstool of My feet.
What kind of house will you build for Me, says Adonai,
or what is the place of My rest?
50 Did not My Hand make all these things?’[j]
51 “O you stiff-necked people! You uncircumcised of heart and ears! You always resist the Ruach ha-Kodesh; just as your fathers did, you do as well. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed the ones who foretold the coming of the Righteous One. Now you have become His betrayers and murderers-- 53 you who received the Torah by direction of angels and did not keep it!” 54 When they heard these things, they became enraged and began gnashing their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Ruach ha-Kodesh, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God—and Yeshua standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 57 But they covered their ears; and crying out with a loud voice, they rushed at him with one impulse. 58 Driving him out of the city, they began stoning him, and the witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 They went on stoning Stephen as he was calling out, “Lord Yeshua, receive my spirit!” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” After he said this, he died.” -Acts 7:44:60 (TLV)
Solomon, who built the Temple in Jerusalem agrees with the words of Isaiah, some 200 years before Isaiah was born, saying:
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” -1 Kings 8:27 (ESV)
Isa 66:2 Ve’et-kol-eileh yadiy And all these things My hand asatah has made (fashioned, formed), vayihyu kol-eileh and so all these things came to be,” neum-YHVH HaShem declares the LORD. “Ve’el-zeh And to this one abiyt I look el-aniy to the humble (poor in spirit) unecheih-ruach and stricken (contrite) in spirit vechareid al-devariy and one who trembles (fearful, afraid, in awe) at My Word.”
As is always the case, we can’t look past the illumination of John’s Gospel concerning the Word (Yeshua) [John 1]. Therefore, in one sense this verse denotes salvation through repentance: the progression being humility before God (poor in spirit), grief concerning our sin (stricken, contrite), and trembling before the Redeemer, the Word, our King Messiah Yeshua.
The Hebrew “aniy” like the Hebrew “aniyv” infers poverty of spirit or humility. Therefore, the words of Yeshua’s sermon on the mount are also intrinsically linked to the current passage of Isaiah:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.” -Matthew 5:3
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” -Psalm 51:17 (ESV)
We note also that the Hebrew “asatah” from “asah” to form from something, denotes that all these material things made (asah: formed) by God, are also created (borei: from nothing) by God. This is an important distinction throughout the remainder of this chapter because it infers a transformed creation, the convergence of the redeemed first creation and the everlasting new creation.
Isa 66:3 “Shocheit He who slaughters ha-shor the bull makeih-iysh is like one who kills a man; zoveiach he who sacrifices ha-sheh the lamb, oreif kelev like one who breaks a dog's neck (Deut. 23:18); ma’aleih minchah he is like one ascending to offer the dam-chaziyr blood of swine; mazkiyr he who makes a memorial offering levonah of incense (Lev. 2:1; 11:7), mevareich is like one who blesses (kneels before) aven wickedness, iniquity, trouble (an idol). Gam-heimah Also these bacharu have elected bedarcheiyhem to go in their own ways, uveshikutzeiyhem and in their detestable idols nafsham their souls chafeitzah delight.
This sequence of worship practices leads with an action associated to the Temple of God and follows with a pagan equivalent. Slaughtering the bull relates to the Temple sacrifice, whereas killing a man relates to human sacrifice in the Hinnom valley; sacrificing the lamb is also a practice related to the Temple of Hashem, and breaking a dog’s neck is a sacrifice to a pagan deity; burning incense before the Holy of holies is of course a practice of Israel’s priests, whereas kneeling before idols where incense was also offered is not (or should not be). The sequence concludes with the worshipper knelt before and idol and thus they “have elected to go in their own ways and in their detestable idols they delight.” Once again it is fallen human nature and the pursuit of sin that results in death. In pursuit of our own deity we often fall down before false deities, the result being that we neither achieve our goal nor find redemption.
Isa 66:4 Gam-aniy Also I evchar elected beta’aluleiyhem harsh treatment (delusion) for them umegurotam aviy lahem and brought their fears upon them, ya’an because karatiy I called, ve’eiyn and no one oneh answered, dibartiy I spoke, velo shameiu and they did not listen (hear, perceive); vayasu and they fashioned (did) ha-ra the evil be’eiynay in My eyes uva’asher and that which lo-chafatztiy I did not delight in bacharu they chose.”
This is very much a case of the apostate Israelites reaping what they have sown. It is important to note that they were not simply committing acts of evil but of “Ha-ra” the evil. The root of all sin is the hubris of idolatry. Therefore, the evil that they were fashioning was the worship of something or someone other than God their Creator. This they did in His face, that is, by syncretising their worship with the God ordained practices of the Temple.
“I called and no one answered” is a repetition of 65:12 and thus confirms the two witnesses against Israel’s apostate practices.
Isa 66:5 Shimu Hear devar-YHVH the Word of the LORD, hachareidiym you the ones who tremble el-devaro at His Word, ameru He says, “Acheiychem soneiychem Your brothers who hate you menadeiychem and cast you out lema’an for the sake of shemiy My Name; saying ‘yichbad be heavy with glory HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), venireh appear’ vesimchatchem in their rejoicing, ve’hem and they yeivoshu will be ashamed.”
The “ones who tremble at His Word” are mentioned in verse 2 as being ones of “humility and contrite spirit”. They are that remnant among Israel who have kept faith in Hashem and have not defiled themselves with pagan worship or by sinning against God. They are those who admit their errors and humbly seek God’s forgiveness and redemption. They are those like Isaiah, who petition God in repentance on behalf of their nation, admitting their own connection to the sins of the nation. We could learn so much from these faithful ones of ancient Israel. We are tasked today, every believer, with this same high calling of faith and integrity in the face of coming judgement.
We notice that the trembling ones are trembling at God’s Word. This is a literal reference to the Torah and a prophetic allusion to the Servant King Messiah Yeshua (Ha-Devar – The Word).
“Your brothers who hate you and cast you out for the sake of My Name;” The righteous remnant among Israel remain brothers to those who are apostate within the nation of Israel. We must note that the ethnicity of these Jews is intrinsic to their ministry in God’s plan and purpose. God does not say “Your enemies who hate you” but “Your brothers (fellow Jews) who hate you”. Therefore, the righteous remnant maintain their love for all their people but also stand apart in the truth of Hashem for the sake of their people. It is interesting to note that the phrase “to cast out” later became the technical language for excommunicating Jews from the Synagogue. In fact it was used in this way in the Gospels:
“They shall cast you out of the synagogues: yes, a time is coming when whoever kills you will think that he has done God a service” -John 16:2 (Matt. 24:9; Luke. 21:12)
We see that the remnant are cast out for the sake of the Name of HaShem. We also see the correlation this has with the casting out of the synagogue, of Messianic Jews in the first century, a practice which continues today for we Messianic Jews, who, though we are ethnically and religiously Jewish in every way that matters, are none the less, cast out of rabbinical Judaism because of our belief in the King Messiah Yeshua. This in spite of the fact that we agree with and recite the tenant of Maimonides that says “I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah and though He may tarry, still I will wait for Him every day!” The sad irony for the remnant among our people today is palpable.
“saying ‘Be heavy with glory HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), appear’ in their rejoicing, and they will be ashamed.” This is a mocking phrase spoken by the apostate among Israel against the righteous remnant, the trembling ones. In modern language we might paraphrase it “Come on, let’s see the glory of God upon you then, let’s see Him appear…” Of course now as then, God promises that those who mock His elect will be put to shame.
“so Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.” -Hebrews 9:28
“Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.” -Revelation 1:7 (ESV)
Isa 66:6 Kol A voice sha’on a roar mei’iyr from the city! Kol A voice meiheiychol from the Sanctuary (Temple)! Kol YHVH The voice of HaShem, meshaleim from a contract of peace (wholeness) gemul le’oyevayv He will repay His enemies.
This verse is describing the coming invasion of the Babylonians and the voices of distress echoing from the ravaged city of Jerusalem and from the damage done to the Temple and the robing of the Temple vessels etc. This is the voice of Hashem because He has ordained this destruction for the sake of Israel’s disciplining. This, in the wholeness and peace of His redemptive purpose He will repay His enemies, those both within Israel and without. Of course a similar destruction occurred in 70 C.E. when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, thus setting the stage for Israel to be born in a day some 2000 years later.
Isa 66:7 Be’terem Before tachiyl she was in labour (travail) yaldah she gave birth; be’terem before yavo chevel the cord came lah from her vehimliytah and she was delivered zachar a son.
“Before distress cometh upon her, she shall be redeemed; and before trembling cometh upon her, like the pains upon a woman in child-bearings her King shall be revealed.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
Verses 7 through 9 express awe at the rapid rebirth of the nation of Israel and her land. This rebirth has many facets and has been accomplished in its most profound sense to date with the rebirth of the modern State of Israel in 1948. Of course, a greater rebirth is yet future, and that is ultimately the goal of this prophecy. What began in Acts 2 at Shavuot (Pentecost) will be made complete at the second coming of Yeshua (Romans 11:25-26). Thus the greatest of fulfilment will occur when all the remnant of the ethnic, religious, chosen Jewish people receive the Servant King Messiah Yeshua in the last days.
The birthing metaphor regards both the land and the people of Israel and is intended to convey the miraculous nature of these events.
The son that Israel gives birth to is clearly the King Messiah. Something the 2nd Century writers of the Targum understood. Thus, the Son born to Israel in a miraculous way (virgin birth), will be the very One who will ultimately bring rejoicing to those who have mourned over Jerusalem’s destruction.
“before he should be born that should bring Israel into the last captivity, the Redeemer should be born;'' -R. Moses Haddarsan
Isa 66:8 Miy Who shama has heard kazot of a thing (f.) like this? Miy Who ra’ah has seen kaeileh things like these? Hayuchal Is the trembling (labouring) eretz land beyom echad im-yivaleid born in one day? Goy pa’am echat Does a nation step as one? kiy-chalah For in labour (trembling) gam also yaldah she brought forth Tziyon (Zion) baneiyha her children.
“Who has heard of a thing (f.) like this?” This miraculous delivery of the male child and the subsequent trembling that comes upon the land will be like nothing that has happened before.
“Who has seen things like these? Is the trembling (labouring) land born in one day? Many see Israel’s modern State as a fulfilment of these words. In addition, a greater fulfilment awaits the Jewish people in Messiah Yeshua.
“Does a nation step as one? For in labour (trembling) also she brought forth Tziyon (Zion) her children.” The nation is clearly Israel “Zion” and the children are those born to those returning from captivity and their exponential growth within the land of Israel. This happened to a certain extent following the Babylonian exile and in a greater way following the establishing of the modern State of Israel, and will yet happen in a much greater way at the redemption of all Israel in the last days.
“A nation stepping as one” is an indication of perfect unity, something that no nation has ever achieved, including Israel. Therefore, this speaks of the saving work of Yeshua and the Spirit of God Who will unit Israel in God and cause her to walk as one.
“Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ it shall be said to them, ‘Children of the living God.’” -Hosea 1:10 (ESV)
Isa 66:9 “Ha’aniy Do I ashbiyr break (bring to the point of birth) velo oliyd and not deliver?” Yomar says YHVH HaShem (Mercy); “Im Aniy When I hamoliyd bring forth (birth a child) ve’atzartiy, do I ve’atzartiy shut the womb?” amar says Elohayich your God.
HaShem, Who brought about the miraculous rebirth of Israel as a nation, in her land, will also not fail to complete what He has begun in her.
Isa 66:10 “Simchu Rejoice et with Yerushalayim (Flood of peace, wholeness), vegiylu and be glad vah for her, kol all ohaveyah who love her; siysu rejoice itah with her together masos from joy, kol all hamitabliym the mourners aleyha over her;
Those who rejoice are primarily the remnant of Israel but also include “all who love her” from the nations. Therefore, this is prophetic of that time when the redeemed of the Lord both Jew and Gentile will rejoice together in the final manifestation of Jerusalem in all her fullness and glory. We note that those who rejoice with her in her glory will be those who have mourned over her desolation. This is a poignant message for Messiah followers today. The question is, “Do you mourn with Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen)?”
Isa 66:11 lema’an for the purpose of tiyneku your nursing (suckling) useva’tem and being satisfied mishod tanchumeyha from her consoling breast; lema’an for the purpose of your tamtztzu drinking (sucking out) deeply (milk) vehitanagtem and being delicate miziyz from among the moving creatures (from the abundance) of kevodah her glory.”
The birthing analogy continues with the nursing infant who has been starved of milk now being satisfied at the breast of his mother. The infant is the faithful remnant of Israel who will soon be restored to the breast of his mother Jerusalem,
Isa 66:12 Kiy-choh amar For thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy): “Hiniy Behold, noteh-eileyha I will extend to her kenahar like a river, shalom peace, uchenachal and a torrent (wadi stream) shoteif engulfing kevod the glory goyim of the nations; viynaktem and you will nurse, al-tzad on her side tinasei’u carried ve’al-birkayim and upon her knees tesho’osha’u bounced, caressed.
We note that the name Yerushalayim is a contraction that means “Flood of peace”. This is the very thing that is described here: waters flooding through the wadi in rainy season and rivers extending beyond their banks to flood the land, bringing with them the glory (all that is good, Godly and fruitful) of the nations by whom Israel was taken captive. These nations that had afflicted Israel will return her children, carrying them on their hips and bouncing them on their knees as beloved ones (Isa.49:22; 60:4).
Isa 66:13 Ke’iysh As one asher whom imo his mother tenachamenu comforts, kein so anochiy I anachemchem will comfort you; uviyrushalayim and in Jerusalem tenuchamu your repentance, consolation, comfort.
This is one of the rare occasions where God is described as a mother to Israel. His nature is such that He exhibits both masculine and feminine attributes and thus is in one sense both Father and mother to Israel. We note that like the Holy Spirit, the motherly expression is intrinsically connected to comfort (not in the old English sense of prodding) in the Hebrew sense of nurture.
It is interesting to note that the Targum says “My Word will comfort you”.
Isa 66:14 Ure’iytem And you will see, perceive (inspect) ve’sas libechem and your core being (heart) will rejoice; ve’atzmoteiychem your bones (essence, substance) kadeshe tifrachnah will sprout like the grass; ve’nodah yad-YHVH and the hand of the LORD will be known et-avadayv to His servants, veza’am and His indignation against et-oyevayv His enemies.
“And you will see, perceive (inspect) and your core being (heart) will rejoice” The redeemed remnant of Israel will see all these things come to pass and will rejoice from the depths of their being.
“your bones (essence, substance) will sprout like the grass” The Hebrew for “bones” also means “essence”, the very matter of the human existence. Thus, they will prosper physically in every way. One might say metaphysically.
“and the hand of the LORD will be known to His servants, and His indignation against His enemies.” Through His redeeming acts of salvation for Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen), the hand of God (The King Messiah) will become intimately known by the redeemed of Israel and will at the same time bring retribution against the enemies of God and His chosen people.
Isa 66:15 “Kiy For hineih behold, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) baeish in fire yavo will come, ve’chasufah and like a whirlwind markevotayv with His chariots, lehashiyv to return becheimah in His raging apo fury (nostrils), vega’arato and His rebuke belahaveiy-eish in flames (blades) of fire.
“For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.” -Revelation 18:8
The same fire that ignites the remnant of Israel in love for HaShem, will consume the enemies of God.
Isa 66:16 Kiy For vaeish in fire will HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) nishpat enter into judgment, uvecharbo and by His sword, et-kol-basar with all flesh; verabu and many chaleiy will be slain HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
“With pestilence and bloodshed I will enter into judgment with him, and I will rain upon him and his hordes and the many peoples who are with him torrential rains and hailstones, fire and sulfur.” -Ezekiel 38:22 (ESV)
The prophet leaves no room for doubt, those who hate God and His people Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen) will be judged and found wanting and will be slain unto everlasting torment.
Isa 66:17 “Hamitkadeshiym Those who sanctify vehamitahariym and purify themselves el-haganot to go into the gardens, achar behind achat one batavech in the midst, ocheleiy eating besar flesh hachazir of the swine vehasheketz and the unclean thing (abomination, detestable thing, idol) veha’achbar and the mouse, yachdav together yasufu they shall cease (end, be finished) neum-YHVH says the LORD.
This is a description of pagan rites syncretised with Hebrew worship practice and performed in the gardens where false gods and idols were worshipped. It is a repetition of the wicked practices described in Isaiah 65:4.
Iben Ezra links the gathering together of these wicked ones to rulers who gather to plot against God and His Messiah (Psalm 2:2). He further notes that this is an allusion to the final war between Gog and Magog, enemies of Israel and of the God of Israel.
Isa 66:18 “Ve’anochiy And I know ma’aseiyhem their works umachshevoteiyhem and their thoughts, ba’ah lekabeitz the time is coming to gather kol-hagoyim all the nations ve’haleshonot and tongues (languages). Uvau And they shall come vera’u and see et-kevodiy the glory that is Mine,
This speaks of the latter days when all the nations will gather against Israel and will be defeated and will behold the manifest glory of God in defence of His people and for the redemption of all who have put their trust in the Servant King Messiah of Israel, Yeshua.
“Then every clan in Judah will realize that I, the Lord All-Powerful, am their God, and that I am the source of their strength. 6 At that time I will let the clans of Judah be like a ball of fire in a wood pile or a fiery torch in a hay stack. Then Judah will send the surrounding nations up in smoke. And once again the city of Jerusalem will be filled with people. 7 But I will first give victory to Judah, so the kingdom of David and the city of Jerusalem in all of their glory won’t be thought of more highly than Judah itself.” -Zechariah 12:5-7 (CEV)
Isa 66:19 Vesamtiy and I will put in place vahem in them ot a sign (miraculous sign). Veshilachtiy And I will send meihem from them peleiytiym fugitives (escaped ones) el-hagoyim to the nations, Tarshiysh (Yellow Jasper), Pul (Distinguishing), ve’Lud (strife), moshecheiy who draw keshet a bow, Tubal (You shall be brought) ve’Yavan (Ionia/Greece) and Javan, haiyim to the coastlands (Islands) harechokiym the far away ones, asher that lo-shameu have not heard et-shimiy My Name (Reputation, character) ve’lo-ra’u or seen et-kevodiy the glory that is Mine. Ve’higiydu et-kevodiy And they shall declare the glory that is Mine bagoyim in the nations.
“and I will put in place in them a sign” This miraculous sign will be placed in the redeemed people of Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen). This describes the giving of the Holy Spirit at Shavuot (Pentecost) to Jews from all round the known world (Acts 2).
“And I will send from them fugitives (escaped ones) to the nations” Having received the sign of the Holy Spirit Who lives in them, the fugitives of Israel will spread the message of the King Messiah throughout the world. This happened following the persecution of the early Jewish Church (ecclesia), and as a result the Gospel has spread through the entire globe, propelled by God and through the Jewish believers. So that Jewish Messiah followers are directly and indirectly responsible for the declaration of the glory of God throughout the world. We note that this time Isaiah does not refer only to the “Islands, coastlands” of the Mediterranean, but also to the “far away Islands”, as far in fact as Tonga, Samoa, Rarotonga, yes, and even Aotearoa (NZ).
Isa 66:20 Ve’heiviyu And they shall bring et-kol-acheiychem all your brothers (and sisters) mikol-hagoyim from the nations minchah as an offering le- to HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), basusiym on horses uvarechev and in chariots uvatzabiym and in litters (covered wagons) uvaperadiym and on mules uvakirkarot and on dromedaries (swift young camels), al har kodshiy to My holy mountain Yerushalayim (Jerusalem), amar says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), ka’asher yaviy’u veneiy just as the children of Yisrael bring et-haminchah their grain offering bichliy tahor in a vessel that is clean to beiyt YHVH the house of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
“And they shall bring all your brothers (and sisters) from the nations as an offering to HaShem (YHVH: Mercy),” The “they” are the aforementioned inhabitants of the lands to which the Gospel was sent, both Messianic Jewish believers and the Messiah followers from among the nations, who will lead the pre-messianic Jews home in the redemption of Yeshua. Thus they will present themselves together on God’s holy mountain (Moriah, Har Beiyt, Mt Zion etc.) in Jerusalem as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. This offering will be brought in clean vessels redeemed by the blood of the Messiah. These vessels will not be like the defiled vessels of the pagan rights, to the contrary, they are human vessels filled with the Holy Spirit of God through the King Messiah Yeshua.
Isa 66:21 Ve’gam And also meihem from them eckach I will take lakohaniym for priests laleviym and for Levites, amar says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
And so, from “them”, that is the redeemed of the Jews (we know this because the nearest subject is “your brothers”) God will take priests and Levites (an ethnic tribal designation) to worship before Him. This is a clear indication that tribal identity and specifically Israel’s (ethnic, religious, chosen) role, will continue in the world to come. A Gentile cannot be a Levite. It is like saying an Englishman can be taken to be a Navajo (native American).
Having priests and Levites does not negate the greater priesthood of Yeshua the Messiah (Hebrews). None the less, it does confirm the continuance of ethnic identity in the transformed body.
Isa 66:22 “Kiy For cha’asher as ha-shamayim hachadashym the new heavens ve’ha’aretz hachadashah and the new land (earth) asher that Aniy oseh I make omediym will remain lefanay before My face, neum-YHVH says HaShem, ken Yes, ya’amod zarachem your seed (offspring) veshimchem and your name will remain.
“Oseh” from “asah” means to make from something. Whereas the word for create used previously was from the root “borei” which can mean to create from nothing, an act only God can perform. Therefore, it seems likely that the new heavens and new earth will be transformed (re-created), having been cleansed by fire. Like the parable explaining a seed dying in order to be reborn as a beautiful plant, it seems that the new creation will be a resurrection of the former creation cleansed by the sacrificial blood of the King Messiah, through Whom all things are created.
“your seed and your name will remain.” This is irrefutable literary evidence that Israel (the Jewish people), religious, ethnic, chosen, will retain their unique identity in the Olam Haba (World to come).
Isa 66:23 Vehayah And it will come to pass mideiy-chodesh bechadesho from new moon to new moon, umideiy and from Shabbat beshabbato (Sabbath to Sabbath), yavo chol-basar lehishtachaot all flesh shall come lehishtachavot to bow down lefanay before My face, amar declares HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
This means that it is not until the Olam Haba (World to come) that Gentile believers will begin to keep the Jewish observances of the Shabbatot, Moediym etc. The Sabbath is a sign upon the Jewish people for this very reason. Those who demand that Gentile believers keep the Sabbath today are teaching the very essence of replacement theology from a stand point of religious-cultural appropriation. The Sabbath is a sign between God and Israel forever.
“The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between Me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.” -Exodus 31:16-17 (NIV)
Notice the intimate phrase “Before My face”. We will be face to face with the God of the Universe our Creator in majestic relational awe.
Isa 66:24 “Veyatzeu And they shall go out verau and look befigreiy on the dead bodies ha’anashiym of the men haposhiym biy who have rebelled against Me. Kiy For tolatam their worm lo tamut shall not die, veisham and their fire lo tichbeh shall not be quenched, vehayu and they shall be deraon an abhorrence lechol-basar to all flesh.”
This passage uses the Hinnom valley (Below Jerusalem to the south) as a figure for the punishment that awaits the wicked in the latter days. It was in this valley that pagan human sacrifices occurred and in later times it became a place of burning refuse heaps. The prophet is saying that the everlasting torment of the wicked will be like the torment and perpetual burning of that wretched valley below Jerusalem. Thus the Hinnom valley is a physical representation within time and space of something much worse outside of time and space. Those who deny everlasting punishment based on the argument that the Hinnom valley is temporal, a fools devoid of the Spirit of God.
Yeshua quotes this portion of Isaiah 66 as a warning to His listeners. He thus shows that there is a perpetual connection between the holding place Gehenna and the Lake of fire as the continuation of Gehenna following the judgement.
43 “And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off! It is better for you to enter into life crippled than, having two hands, to go to Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. 44 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off! It’s better for you to enter life lame than, having your two feet, to be thrown into Gehenna. 46 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. 47 If your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out! It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than, having two eyes, to be thrown into Gehenna, 48 where‘their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 “For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you flavor it? Have salt in yourselves, and keep shalom with one another.” -Mark 9:43-50 (TLV)
Jewish tradition does not accept a dismal ending to a scroll of Scripture, therefore the Hebrew Tanakh (OT) ends Isaiah by repeating verse 23 after verse 24, in order to end on a hopeful note. In doing so, and in most cases without really understanding it, we Jews are acknowledging that Messiah is our hope and that Mercy Himself (YHVH) both precedes and follows judgement. This is a tacit affirmation of the promise of everlasting life in the Servant King Messiah Yeshua.
However, the ancient text does not end this way, why? Because the punishment of the wicked is simply the final act regarding the fallen first creation, and is itself the beginning of everlasting life. Therefore, the scroll of Isaiah, like the Bible itself, ends with a beginning.
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
Much confusion and many needless eschatological debates have been caused by the negligent mistranslation of the Hebrew text of certain parts of this chapter of Isaiah.
Isaiah’s plea for the redemption of his people on behalf of the righteous remnant is now responded to by HaShem. Throughout this chapter Adonay makes a distinction between the faithful and the unfaithful among Israel and between Israel, who He refers to using the Hebrew “am” tribe, people, and the nations, who He refers to using the Hebrew “goy” nation. Quite contrary to the Christian Successionism (evolved replacement theology) nonsense that is pervasive in our time, the prophet is not speaking of God’s rejecting of His chosen, ethnic, religious people (tribe) Israel. In fact, Rav Shaul (Paul) ha-shaliach (the sent one) explains this well when he says that the blindness of Israel (ethnic, religious) is partial and for the sake of the redemption of the goyim (nations), then, something miraculous, all the remnant of Israel ethnic, religious, the chosen tribe of God, will be saved (Romans 11:25-26).
In the current chapter with regard to Israel, God accuses the unfaithful among her of the worst forms of syncretism and idolatry and the faithful He calls His righteous servants and promises a time of deliverance, redemption, salvation and freedom in a land devoid of oppression, an eternal land yet future. This is of course an allusion to the Olam Haba (World to come), a place beyond the shackles of time and space which many Christians mistakenly call Heaven.
Much confusion and many needless eschatological debates have been caused by the negligent mistranslation of the Hebrew text of certain parts of this chapter of Isaiah. From verse 17 onward one must very carefully render the Hebrew text in such a way as to avoid unnecessary frustration and confusion to the English reader. Almost every popular Christian English translation (including the TLV and D. H. Stern translations) makes translational choices that force the text into a contradictory spiral, and all for lack of due consideration for the Hebrew text and Hebrew thought. My translation attempts to convey the Hebrew text as accurately as possible, and although at times this makes for awkward reading, it none the less avoids the foolish theological conundrums inspired by other English translations.
Isa 65:1 Nidrashtiy lelo sha’alu I am sought by those who don’t ask; nimtzeitiy lelo vikshuniy I am found by those who don’t seek Me. Amartiy I said, “Hineiniy Behold, now, here I am, ready and willing, hineiniy Behold, now, here I am, ready and willing,” el-goy to a nation lo kora vishmiy not called in (by) My Name.
The speaker is HaShem via the prophet. The key to understanding the identity of the “goy” nation being spoken of, is the phrase “Not called by My Name”. Israel (Yisra: overcome, El: in God) is called by God’s Name. This is one of the primary reasons that God will never forsake Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen). Thus, the present verse is seen to refer to those that are not ethnically or religiously Israel, nor will they ever be called by the ethnic, religious title “Israel” (as many Christian theologians foolishly [Satanically) suggest). To the contrary, this verse is simply expounding the fact that Salvation Himself will make Himself available to the nations even though they have neither been called nor named for the God of Israel.
“I am sought by those who don’t ask; I am found by those who don’t seek Me.” Essentially this statement conveys the idea that although the nations were devoid of knowledge of God and His Torah, and were subsequently not afforded the language required to ask, and the cognition to seek, none the less they have seen God revealed in His creation, and have also seen the light of the Servant King Messiah shining from Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen), and have sought Him using what they did know and could say. This in stark contrast to the unfaithful among Israel at the time, who though they had the knowledge of God and His Torah, did not seek Him in a right way but instead turned to idolatry and debauchery. Therefore:
“when Gentiles, who do not have the Torah, do by nature the things of the Torah, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the Torah. 15 They show that the work of the Torah is written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts switching between accusing or defending them 16 on the day when God judges the secrets of men according to my Good News through Messiah Yeshua.” -Romans 2:14-16 (TLV)
Speaking of the Messiah Isaiah 55:5 reflects this same understanding:
“Behold, you will summon a nation you do not know,
and a nation that did not know you will run to you,
because of Adonai your God
and the Holy One of Israel,
for He has glorified you.” -Isaiah 55:5 (TLV)
“I said, ‘Behold, now, here I am, ready and willing, Behold, now, here I am, ready and willing,’ to a nation not called in (by) My Name.” With the exception of Rabbi Moses Hakkohen, the majority of Jewish commentators are wrong in concluding that this verse refers to Israel using the Hebrew “goy”. This is simply impossible: although on rare occasions Israel is called a “goy”, she is more often labelled “am” a tribe (people) and not a “goy” nation. This is because God is making a clear distinction in the Tanakh (OT) between the people of Israel who bear His Name and the peoples of the nations who do not. Additionally, the phrase “a nation not called by My Name” disqualifies Israel, who have and will continue to be called by God’s Name.
Rav Shaul (Paul) explains the meaning of Isaiah 65:1-2 in clear terms, making a distinction between Isaiah 65:1 and Isaiah 65:2 when he quotes the prophet’s words in reference to the salvation of the gentiles:
“And Isaiah is so bold as to say,
‘I was found by those who did not seek Me;
I became visible to those who did not ask for Me.’
21 But about Israel He says,
‘All day long I stretched forth My hands
to a disobedient and contrary people.’” -Romans 10:20-21 (TLV)
It is important to remind ourselves at this juncture, of the way that Isaiah uses the terms “am, amiym” tribe, tribes and “goy, goyim” nation, nations, in his scroll. With the exception of qualified singular use, “The nation, My nation, a nation in a day” etc. (Isa.1:4; 9:3; 10:6; 26:2,15 49:7; 58:2; 60:22; 66:8) Isaiah exclusively uses “am, amiym” tribe, tribes to refer to Israel, and “goy, goyim” nation, nations, to refer to nations other than Israel. While there are a number of exceptions they’re easily identified due to contextual variances and qualifying language. In the present text no such variance or qualifying language exists except when referring to the “am” tribe (Israel): therefore, we can conclude that the prophet is using the terms “goy” and “am” to in counter-distinction to distinguish between the two groups within the text of Isaiah 65.
“In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the amiym (tribes of Israel)—of Him shall the goyim (nations) inquire, and His dwelling place shall be glorious. -Isaiah 11:10
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Messiah, for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe, always first for the Jew and also always for the Greek (non-Jew).” -Romans 1:16 (YBYT)
Isa 65:2 Perastiy I spread out, broke in pieces yaday My hands kol-hayom all the day el-am to a people sorier rebellious, haholechiym whose walkings ha’derech are the way lo-tov that is not good, achar following machshevoteiyhem their own thoughts, devices, inventions, purposes;
“I have sent my prophets every day unto a rebellious people, which walk in a way which was not good, after their own thoughts;” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“But about Israel He says,
‘All day long I stretched forth My hands
to a disobedient and contrary people.’” -Romans 10:21 (TLV)
“I spread out, broke in pieces My hands all the day to a people rebellious” Having spoken of a nation that has not known Him, HaShem now speaks to the people (am: tribe) who do know Him. The language infers suffering, and specifically damage to the hands. There is a strong correlation here with the type of death suffered by the Servant King Messiah. The expression “All day long” conveys a sense of God’s limitless patience, while also reading as an indictment against unfaithful Israel’s stubbornness. Thus, they had remained a rebellious people, rebellion being both the cause and fruit of idolatry.
“whose walkings ha’derech are the way lo-tov that is not good” In Hebrew “ha-derech” the way, often carries a figurative spiritual sense, like the term “halakhah” meaning, the way we walk. The same is intended here. The Hebrew “lo-tov” not good, is far more than a colloquial expression. In this context “not good” (lo-tov) means “evil” (ra). This is in direct contradiction to the words of the psalmist “Lead me in Your Way everlasting”. The way that is “not good” is the way to death. This reference to choosing not to do good correlates to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen.2:9) and finds its counterpoint in verse 22 where “ha-eiytz” the tree (a reference to the Tree of Life/Living known as Eiytz Chayim) is mentioned.
“following their own thoughts, devices, inventions, purposes” This verse exposes the foundation for unfaithful Israel’s sin and the reason for the pursuant affliction. This verse also foreshadows the following verse and the burning of incense on man-made bricks.
Isa 65:3 Ha’am The tribe hamachiysiym who provoke (anger) otiy Me al-panay to My face tamiyd continually, zovechiym sacrificing (slaughtering) baganot in gardens umekateriym and burning incense (offerings of smoke) al-haleveiniym on bricks;
“A people that provoke my Word to anger continually to my face; that sacrifice in gardens to idols, and offer aromatic spices upon bricks;” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“Ha’am The tribe hamachiysiym who provoke (anger) otiy Me al-panay to My face tamiyd continually” The provocation of Israel is ever before the face of God because He is always concerned for Israel’s well-being. Unqualified, the Hebrew “Ha’am” always refers to Israel, the tribe of God.
“sacrificing (slaughtering) baganot in gardens umekateriym and burning incense (offerings of smoke) al-haleveiniym on bricks;” Altars of brick are in direct contradiction to the prescribed altar of HaShem which was to be made of uncut stones, meaning that human manufacture had nothing to do with the altar of Hashem whereas the altars to foreign deities were often erected using man-made bricks and cut stone (Exodus 20:25; Joshua 8:31).
“Bricks” may also be rendered “tiles”, which is consistent with the words of the prophet Jeremiah:
“The houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah—all the houses on whose roofs offerings have been offered to all the host of heaven, and drink offerings have been poured out to other gods—shall be defiled like the place of Topheth.” -Jeremiah 19:13 (ESV)
Isa 65:4 Hayosheviym who sit bakevariym in tombs, uvanetzuriym and keep watch yaliynu overnight; ha’ocheliym who eat besar flesh hachaziyr of pigs, umerak and broth piguliym of tainted meat (foul refuse) kleiyhem is in their vessels, implements, utensils;
"who dwell in houses built of the dust of graves, and lodge with the corpse of the children of men;'' -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“who sit in tombs, and keep watch overnight” This reflects a Canaanite occult practice and is related to necromancy, speaking to the dead, which is explicitly forbidden in Scripture (Deut.18:11; 1 Sam.28:3).
If the last clause refers to the vessels of the Temple service, then this is an horrific indictment against the worst kind of syncretism. The meat of unclean animals caused ritual uncleanness (Lev.11:7; Deut.14:8), but its figurative application here concerns a far more heinous spiritual condition (Isaiah 66:17).
Isa 65:5 Haomeriym Who say, “Kerav eileicha al-tigash-biy Keep to yourself, do not come near me, kiy kedashtiycha for I am too holy for you.” Eileh These ashan are a smoke beapiy in My nostrils, eish yokedet kol-hayom a fire that burns all the day.
Such was the syncretistic hypocrisy of the unfaithful in Israel at that time that they considered their mixture of Jewish and pagan rites as a mechanism that actually purified them and set them apart as holy.
“Smoke in My nostrils” is an expression of irritation spoken as a counterpoint to the offering of incense in verse 3. We note that in counter distinction to God holding out His hands all day long (v.2), unfaithful Israel provokes Him with her sin all day long.
Isa 65:6 Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, chetuvah it is written (ketubah) lefanay before My face: “Lo echeseh kiy I will not keep silent, im-shilamtiy not concerning My contract of peace; veshilamtiy and My contract of peace al-cheiykam is upon her breast (bosom)
“Chetuvah”, literally “it is written”, is also the name for the marriage contract (agreement) written by the Jewish groom as a promise of provision, honour, shelter, fidelity etc. to the bride. It is worth noting that in ancient Jewish betrothal tradition (still practiced by many today), it is the groom alone who writes this promissory contract and gives it to the bride: the bride writes no such document but must simply accept the proposed agreement, written by the groom as an assurance for her wellbeing in the covenant of marriage. This document is usually framed and mounted on the wall of the couple’s home in a prominent location.
“I will not keep silent, not concerning My contract of peace; and My contract of peace is upon her breast (bosom)” The contract of peace which is of God (the Groom) is a reference to the chetuvah (marriage contract/agreement) in the previous clause. Thus, HaShem is saying that He has made a written agreement of fidelity, protection and provision which Israel His bride (wife) had accepted (at Sinai), and He will not keep silent about it. He will ensure that His commitment to her is honoured even if Israel (His bride/wife) has forsaken Him and committed spiritual adultery.
Isa 65:7 Avonoteiychem Your depravity va’avonot and your fathers' avonoteiychem depravity yachdav together, amar says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy); asher those who kiteru burned incense (smoke offerings) al-hehariym on the mountains ve’al-hagevaot and on the hills cheirefuniy blasphemed (taunted, defied) Me, umadotiy I will measure out feulatam payments rishonah for their former deeds el-cheiykam against them.”
This is not the sins of the fathers being meted out against the sons, rather it is the combined sins of both the fathers and the sons being recompensed with the justice of God.
The mountains and the hills were the high places where various deities were being worshipped in direct opposition to the God of Israel. Worse still, there were those who were combining Jewish worship practice with pagan worship practice on these high places and were thus blaspheming YHVH by associating His holy Name with the names of false gods and created things.
Isa 65:8 Koh Thus amar says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy): “ka’asher As yimatzei hatiyrosh the new wine is found baeshkol in the cluster, ve’amar and it is said, ‘Al-tashchiyteihu Do not destroy it, kiy for verachah blessing bo is in it,’ kiy so e’eseh I will act lema’an on behalf avaday of My servants', leviltiy hashchiyt hakol and not destroy the whole.
This analogy reflects the practice of the vinedresser when finding a missed cluster of grapes after the harvested fruit of the vineyard has been pressed into new wine. This cluster is added to the already pressed fruit rather than being left to go to waste. In the same way God has His eye on the holy remnant (faithful Israelites: ethnic, religious, chosen), and will ensure their inclusion in His redemptive purposes. This idea of a holy remnant among the ethnic, religious, chosen people of Israel is conveyed throughout the scroll of Isaiah (1:9; 10-20-23; 11:11-16).
We note that in this chapter the faithful Jewish remnant are called out from the whole community of “My servants”, and set apart as good “servants”, teaching us that service and faithfulness are brothers and that relationship in God gives birth to them both.
“Do not destroy it, for blessing is in it” There is both symbolic and practical blessing in the discovery of a last bunch of grapes found late in the harvest. Practically speaking it is these grapes that are used to create the sweet Kiddush wine used in the ceremonial blessings of Shabbat and the moeidim (feasts), and spiritually speaking the Lord always saves the best for last (John 2:10-11).
Isa 65:9 Vehotzeitiy And I will bring forth miyakov from Jacob (Follower) zera offspring (seed), umiyhudah and from Judah (Praise) yoreish an inheritor hariy of My mountains; viyreishuah vechiyray and My chosen One shall possess it, va’avaday and my servants yishkenu-shamah shall dwell there.
“And I will bring forth miyakov from Jacob (Follower) zera offspring (seed)” The language here is very specific and puts an end to the lies of the successionist (replacement) theology proponents. Jacob is ethnic, religious, chosen Israel, and NOT the Church (Body of believers). Further, while “seed” here can be understood to refer to the righteous remnant that will be saved in Messiah by grace through faith alone, the following phrase regarding Judah refers to an individual.
“and from Judah (Praise) yoreish an inheritor hariy of My mountains” This statement refers to an individual Who will inherit authority over all God’s mountains. This can be no other than the King Messiah, the greater son of David Who is promised to rule over Israel and the nations. We also note that all the mountains will belong to God, meaning that all idolatry associated with the high places will be removed.
“and My chosen One shall possess it, va’avaday and my servants yishkenu-shamah shall dwell there.” The chosen One is the Inheritor of the previous verse and the servants of Hashem are the righteous remnant of Israel, Jews, who will inhabit the new land forever under the rule of Israel’s One true King.
Isa 65:10 Vehayah And it will come to pass Hasharon the Sharon (a plain) tzon will be a pasture for flocks, ve’eimek and the Valley of Achor (trouble) lereivetz bakar a place for herds to lie down, leamiy for My tribe asher who derashuniy have sought (enquired of) Me with care.
The Sharon plain is the fertile valley stretching from the Carmel mountains in the north of Israel all the way down to Yafo (Tel Aviv) in the south, and the Achor valley runs from the lower regions of the river Jordan to the plains of Jericho in the south. Therefore, the meaning is that the redeemed children of Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen) will inhabit all of the land promised by God to Abraham.
Israel had a shepherding history in Sharon:
“Over the herds that pastured in Sharon was Shitrai the Sharonite; over the herds in the valleys was Shaphat the son of Adlai.” -1 Chronicles 27:29 (ESV)
Achor was named for Achan who was stoned for withholding spoils of war from God, and because of the trouble he gave to Israel (Joshua 7:26). Therefore, there is a redemptive quality to this allusion.
We note that through the prophet, HaShem calls ethnic, religious Israel (the Jewish people) “amiy” My tribe, as being distinct from all other tribes of the earth, and more specifically He speaks of those who are of the tribe of Israel who have sought Him with care (the righteous remnant).
Isa 65:11 Ve’atem And you (plural) ozeveiy who forsake HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), hashecheichiym who forget et-har kadshiy My holy mountain, ha’orechiym who set lagad for Gad (Fortune, invader) shulchan a table, veham’maliym lamniy mimesach and fill cups for Meniy (god of destiny [fate] of the Babylonians) as drink offerings,
Having spoken of the righteous remnant HaShem now speaks to the wicked majority. Where the righteous had “sought” Him the wicked have “forsaken” Him. They had turned their back on the prescribed worship of the Torah and the Temple (Holy Mountain, Zion, Jerusalem) cult and had instead worshipped foreign gods and in some cases syncretised both practices.
“who set lagad for Gad (Fortune, invader) shulchan a table” Gad was a Semitic god of fortune who the unfaithful among Israel were worshipping and relying on to tell them their future. The setting of tables can refer to both food offerings and fortune telling practices which were the precursors to modern day tarot card reading etc. It is interesting to note that the Hebrew meaning of Gad is “invader”.
“and fill cups for Meniy (god of destiny [fate] of the Babylonians) as drink offerings” Meniy was the Babylonian deity of destiny or fate. And the pouring of drink offerings was probably associated with actions like reading coffee grounds or tea leaves, and or their equivalent.
Thus, both deities, one from the Canaanites and one from the far off land of Babylon, were being sought after for divining the future. The tragedy is that given the other textual evidence, it is likely that cups that were intended for use in the worship of Hashem were being used instead in the worship of this false deity.
The Greeks and Romans had similar deities in Jupiter and Venus.
Isa 65:12 Umaniytiy And I will destine (fate) etchem you (plural) lacherev to the sword, vechulechem and all of you latevach will go to slaughter tichra’u bowing down, ya’an because, karatiy I called, ve’lo aniytem and you did not answer; dibartiy I spoke, ve’lo shematem and you did not listen, va’ta’asu ha-ra but you did the evil be’eiynay in My eyes uva’asher lo-chafatztiy bechartem and chose what I did not delight in.”
“Umaniytiy And I will destine (fate) etchem you (plural) lacherev to the sword,” “Maniytiy” meaning “I will destine you” is a play on words concerning Meniy the Babylonian deity of fate or destiny whose name is based on the same Hebrew root. Therefore, God is saying, “So you want to know your destiny, so be it, the destiny of the wicked is the sword (death)”.
“I called, and you did not answer; I spoke, and you did not listen, but you did the evil in My eyes and chose what I did not delight in.” Put simply, “You were given ample opportunity to receive My grace and mercy, and instead you refused My love, My constant calling (all day long) and chose, not an evil but the evil (lo-tov, not good), that is, to reject the redeeming love of God in favour of idolatry, lust, debauchery and self-deification.”
Isa 65:13 Lachein Therefore koh thus amar says Adonay HaShem (YHVH: Mercy): “Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, avaday My servants yocheilu shall eat, ve’atem but you (plural) tiranu will go hungry; hineih behold, now, pay attention, avaday My servants yoshtu shall drink, ve’atem but you (plural) titzmau will go thirsty; hineih behold, now, pay attention, avaday My servants yismachu shall rejoice, ve’atem but you teivoshu will be put to shame;
Here the Lord makes a clear distinction between the righteous remnant of Israel and the wicked. This distinction is reflected in the practicalities of life: the righteous will have food, drink and joy but the wicked will have none of those things. In fact, this is an analogy concerning the death of the wicked and is a precursor to the eternal death of the wicked.
Isa 65:14 Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, avaday My servants yaronu shall sing mituv from goodness leiv of heart (core being), ve’atem but you (plural) titzaku will cry out mike’eiv from pain leiv of heart (core being) umisheiver and from ruin ruach of spirit teyeililu you will wail.
“My servants yaronu shall sing mituv from goodness leiv of heart (core being)” The Hebrew is careful to say that the servants of God will sing “from goodness of heart”, meaning that their joy and singing is the fruit of God, Who alone is good, dwelling within them.
“but you (plural) will cry out from pain of heart (core being) and from ruin of spirit you will wail.” In stark contrast to the righteous the wicked will cry out from the pain of having rejected God and the ruining of spirit that results.
Isa 65:15 Ve’hinachtem shimchem And you (plural) shall leave your (plural) name lishvuah as a curse, livchiyray for My Chosen One vehemitecha will slay you, Adonay HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), vela’avadayv but His servants yikra He will call sheim acheir by another name,
Speaking of Israel in her sinful state Jeremiah reflects the same sentiment:
“I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a reproach, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them.” -Jeremiah 24:9 (ESV)
“And you (plural) shall leave your (plural) name as a curse, for My Chosen One will slay you,” This refers to the unfaithful among Israel. It does not refer to all Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen).
“but His servants He will call by another name,” Primarily, at least in a national sense “Name” is associated with reputation, therefore, the name of ill repute due to wickedness will be transformed by God through Messiah so that Israel is given a new name (reputation) of honour.
Ultimately redeemed Israel will be called by the Name of HaShem’s King Messiah Yeshua. It is not an indication that Israel will no longer be called Israel but rather, in the same way Jacob (follower) became Israel (One who overcomes in God) [Gen.32:28], Israel will have a transforming experience of the same Man that Jacob once wrestled with, only they will wrestle with the Man and be saved as an entire nation (Romans 11:25-26). This Man is of course Yeshua the King Messiah. Therefore, the new name of ethnic, religious, chosen and redeemed Israel is in the King Messiah, and they will retain their unique identity in Him.
Isa 65:16 Asher Because hamitbareich he who blesses ba’aretz in the land yitbareich shall bless beiloheiy in the God amein of truth (agreeing), ve’hanishba and he who takes an oath ba’aretz in the land yishava shall swear beiloheiy in the God amein of truth (agreeing); Kiy because nishkechu forgotten, (withered) hatzarot are the troubles harishonot of the first things ve’kiy and because nisteru they’re concealed mei’einay from My eyes.
The new name given to the redeemed remnant of Israel through Messiah will direct people to God and all of redeemed Israel in the promised land of Israel will know that they have come to the land through God’s redemptive work both spiritual and physical. Therefore, they will say yes and amen in agreement with the manifestation of God’s redemption, and will constantly bless and acknowledge the God of Truth.
“because forgotten, (withered) are the troubles of the first things and because they’re concealed from My eyes.” This final clause is a transition to the next verse which declares the new creation. Notice that the Hebrew literally says “first things” and not “former things” (as most English translations). This is important. Former things can be any number of things prior to the present but first things refers specifically to the creation of the heavens and the earth, the first universe and its order, the entry of sin and death etc.
Isa 65:17 “Kiy For hiniy behold, I vorei create shamayim heavens chadashiym new (ones) ve’aretz and the land chadashah new, ve’lo and not to be tizarcharnah recalled (remembered) are harishonot the first things ve’lo and nor ta’aleiyna will they ascend al-leiv upon My inner being (heart, core being).
At this point, given the clear explanation of the new creation and the putting away entirely of the first things, that is the first creation which became sin affected: we must understand that what follows is a description (albeit in part poetic) of the Olam Haba (World to come), the new heavens and the new earth which is later alluded to in the Revelation of Yeshua to Yochanan. Therefore, any seemingly temporal language is subject to the everlasting nature of the new creation, and cannot, as some foolishly suggest, refer to some sort of dispensational, so called, millennial reign period, as if life and death might continue for the redeemed of the Lord. There is no death in the world to come (Rev.21:4).
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
2 I also saw the holy city—the New Jerusalem—coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 I also heard a loud voice from the throne, saying,
“Behold, the dwelling of God is among men,
and He shall tabernacle among them.
They shall be His people,
and God Himself shall be among them
and be their God.
4 He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes,
and death shall be no more.
Nor shall there be mourning or crying or pain any longer,
for the former things have passed away.”
5 And the One seated upon the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new!” -Revelation 21:1-5a (TLV)
Isa 65:18 Kiy im-siysu But be glad vegiylu and rejoice adeiy-ad until perpetuity (forever) ahser in that which Aniy I vorei create; Kiy for hiniy behold, I vorei create et-Yerushalayim (The Jerusalem: A flood of Peace) giylah to be a joy, ve’amah and her tribe masos from exultation.
This is not as some suggest describing a temporal renewal prior to eternity, it cannot be, for it states clearly “Be glad and rejoice FOREVER in that which I create…”
By using the determiner “et” prior to “Yerushalayim” the Hebrew text infers a Jerusalem that is outside of time and space, thus “The Jerusalem” perpetual. This is prophetic allusion to the New Jerusalem later described in Yeshua’s Revelation to Yochanan.
Isa 65:19 Ve’galtiy I will rejoice viyrushalayim in Jerusalem ve’sastiy and I will exult ve’amiy in My tribe; ve’lo-yishama bah od and no more perpetually shall be heard kol a voice bechiy of weeping ve’kol and a voice ze’akah of distressed crying.
Although there will be people from all nations in the new Jerusalem, that is not the meaning here. Redeemed Israel is specifically alluded to as “My tribe”. As a people we have endured His rebuke, now we will receive His redemption and the reward that accompanies it.
Isa 65:20 Lo-yihyeh It shall not come about misham from this place od perpetually ul an infant yamiym who lives but a few days, ve’zakein and an old person asher who lo-yemalei does not complete his days, et-yamayn the days kiy for ha’na’ar the young man will be as ben-meiah a son of a hundred shanah years; yamot it will come about that dead ve’hachote will be the sinner (who remains in guilt, unclean, continues to miss the mark) meiah a hundred shanah years yekulal accursed.
“Et-yamayn” the days, like “Et-Yerushalayim” the Jerusalem (v.18), is an allusion to those days not subject to time and space, and therefore, any allusion to length is figurative, given that eternity has no beginning or end. Likewise “ha’na’ar” the young man is a singular typology referring to the nature of the renewed (resurrected) human being, as different from “na’ar” a young man of the present sin affected creation (age). Notice that the counterpoint to this is “ha’chote” the sinner, which uses the determiner “ha” as denoting the sin affected human being who has remained in his condition by refusing the grace of God. In both the case of the redeemed young man and the sinner, one hundred years is used as a figure for eternity, being the multiplication of the Hebrew number 10 (which represents fullness) by itself (10 x 10 = 100). We know this because verses 17 through 19 speak in terms of “perpetuity, eternity, going round forever”. Therefore, the language concerning the living and the dead is figurative and indicates the nature of both the renewed resurrected human in Messiah and the human resurrected unto eternal punishment through rejection of the King Messiah.
Isa 65:21 U’vanu And they shall build vatiym houses veyashavu and inhabit them; ve’nate’u and they shall plant cheramiym vineyards ve’achelu and eat their piryam fruit.
“They” are the righteous of the former verse, after all, the (perpetually) dead cannot plant and reap, nor can they drink.
Those who say there will be no eating or drinking in the Olam Haba (world to come) have obviously never read the words of the King Messiah Who says, “I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." -Matthew 26:29 (NIV)
Isa 65:22 Lo yivnu They shall not build ve’acheir and another yei’sheiv inhabit; lo yite’u they shall not plant ve’acheir yocheil and another eat; kiy-chiymeiy for like the days Ha-eitz of the tree yemeiy shall the days amiy of My tribe be, uma’aseih and yedeiyhem of their hands yevalu they will enjoy vechiyray My chosen.
It is tragic that so many English versions of the Bible mistranslate “ha-eiytz” the tree, as “a tree”. What foolish misdirection this is. The Hebrew says “ha-eiytz” for a reason, that reason being that the days of human beings in the Olam Haba (world to come) are being likened to the days of Eiytz Chayim the tree of life (living) which is perpetual, everlasting.
Isa 65:23 Lo yigeu They shall not labour lariyk in vain ve’lo yeledu or bear children labehalah for calamity, kiy for they are zera a seed berucheiy blessed by HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) heimah Whom ve’tze’etza’eiyhem their offspring are near to.
Labouring in vain is the fruit of the fallen creation, it will not be possible in the Olam Haba (world to come). They will not bear children for calamity because there will no longer be procreation of the human species (Mark 12:25; Matt. 22:30) and there will no longer be sin or death and therefore no calamity.
“for they are a seed blessed by HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Whom their offspring are near to.” The first clause refers to Israel and the second clause refers to all born to Israel prior to the return of Messiah who receive Messiah and are reconciled to God. It does not, as some suggest, refer to offspring born in a millennial transitional period prior to the fullness of the Olam Haba (World to come).
Isa 65:24 Ve’hayah And it will come about that terem-yikrau Before they call va’aniy e’eneh I will answer; od hem while they are yet medaberiym speaking eshma I will hear.
This is the counterpoint to the rejection of God’s call by the wicked (v.2, 11). Whereas the wicked refused to hear (though Hashem held out His hands all day long), the righteous living in intimate relationship with God in the Olam Haba (world to come) will have such a beautiful intrinsic form of communication with Him that His loving answer will precede their request and both the speaking and the hearing of metaphysical conversation will be made one (echad), a complex and perpetual unity.
Isa 65:25 Ze’eiv A wolf ve’taleh and a lamb yiru will feed che’echad together; ve’aryeih and a lion kabakar like a bullock, yochal will eat teven straw, venachash and the snake’s afar lachmo food will be the dust. Lo yarei’u They shall not do evil velo-yashchiytu or corrupt bechol-har kadshiy in all my holy mountain,” amar says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
The wolf and lamb feeding together is a poetic figure which denotes the cessation of death (those animals once carnivorous will no longer be carnivorous). The imagery is of course cemented by the proceeding clause concerning the vegan lion. However, just because the language is figurative doesn’t mean it is not also literal. The idea of a new earth without animals (an idea that many are adamant about), is ludicrous in light of the nature of the first creation and the consistent message of Scripture concerning the renewal of all things. Or else, why does “all creation (which includes animals) eagerly await the revealing of the sons of God”? (Romans 8:19) Therefore, with the exception of the serpent (perhaps), it seems very likely that the new earth will be populated by animals of the new creation.
“The snake’s food will be the dust” is a figure denoting the eternal punishment of ha-Satan (the Devil). In counter distinction to the first creation where the snake (Satan) entered the story at the beginning and seeded death, at the inception of the new creation the snake (Satan) will be exited from creation unto death everlasting.
“They shall not do evil or corrupt in all my holy mountain,” This phrasing refers to all the enemies of God and His people both spiritual and physical. That is, those who have fallen prey to the sin and death seeded by the Serpent (Satan), who have now been cast along with the Serpent (Satan) into the lake of fire which is the second and everlasting death (Revelation 20:14-15).
“They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
for the land will be full of the knowledge of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy),
as the waters will cover the sea.” -Isaiah 11:9
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
The prophet asks and knows the answer “Will You be silent and afflict us excessively?” We know this, that God is just and not excessive, self-controlled and not compulsive, kind and not punitive, ready, able, and willing to save at the appointed time.
NB: The traditional Jewish numbering of this portion of Isaiah differs from the numbering in the Christian Canon. Therefore, I have listed the Jewish order in brackets alongside the Christian order of numbering.
Isa 64:1 (63:19) Aleiyhem Upon them lu-karata tear apart shamayim the heavens, yaradta descend, mipaneycha from Your face hariym the mountains nazolu trembled in insignificance--
“We are Thy people that were of old: not unto the Gentiles hast Thou given the doctrine of Thy law, neither is Thy name invoked upon them; not unto them hast Thou inclined the heavens and revealed Thyself; the mountains quaked before Thee.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
Isaiah continues his plea on behalf of his people Israel and according to the prompting of the Spirit of God. His cry is the cry of the Living Word of God in him. Like Moses and later Rav Shaul the Shaliach (Paul the Apostle), Isaiah cries out for the redemption of Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen). Therefore, ultimately, Isaiah’s words are the words of the Son (Yeshua) pleading with the Father.
It is YHVH Mighty to Save, Whom Isaiah is petitioning. These words are the bold request of one who is in true relationship with the fearsome, terrifying, omnipotent, omniscient God of all creation.
When asked Whom they serve the righteous respond “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth…” (Ezra 5:11; Jonah 1:9) The heaven and earth imagery is of great significance because it connects us to the very beginning of creation and the Originator of all things, while also reminding us of Jacob’s ladder and one of the central aspects of the Gospel, God coming down to redeem humanity. Therefore, in the use of this language all humanity is called to witness the work of the One true God Who is above all gods (El elyon).
The heavens are the garment that shields the heavenly Holy of Holies, they are the curtain that falls between the priesthood of humanity (Levitical) and the Holy God of Israel, the earthly Temple in Jerusalem being a representation of the heavenly Temple (Hebrews 8:5). Only a priesthood of the heavens can perform the sacrifice needed to allow Israel and the nations entry into the heavenly Holy of Holies (Hebrews 7 & 8). Therefore, to ask God to tear the heavens is to ask Him to rend the curtain, the garment, that separates humanity from intimate relationship with our Creator. This must begin and end with Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen) as participant. In effect, Isaiah is asking for the vicarious sacrifice of Yeshua the King Messiah, at which point HaShem tears His garment from neck to floor in the greatest manifestation of divine grief ever to be shown. That garment being represented in the curtain that separates the Holy place of the earthly Temple from the Holy of Holies. All this is symbolic of God’s desire to reconcile humanity to Himself through His own everlasting blood, that blood flowing through the veins of His Son our King Messiah Yeshua.
The phrase “descend, from Your face the mountains trembled in insignificance…” (Rev. 16:20) is repeated in verse 3 and correlates to the trembling nations of verse 2 (inferring that like the mountains that seem beyond conquering, the nations too will be toppled and left trembling before God) but more significantly alludes to the giving of the Torah at Sinai. Why? Because Isaiah is acknowledging that Israel alone among the nations has received the written Torah and the redemptive goal of it, and at the same time is in desperate need of God’s direct intervention, that is, the rending of heaven and the impartation of Salvation Himself (God with us), the living Word made manifest for the redemption of Israel and the nations.
Does God hear and respond to Isaiah’s plea on behalf of his people Israel and indeed the entire human race? The answer is a resounding yes! God Himself, manifest in the Person of His Son the promised Servant King Messiah Yeshua, does indeed come down, rending the heavenly curtain of separation even as the earthly curtain is torn, revealing the Holy of Holies and an opportunity for all who would receive His loving vicarious sacrifice and resurrection life to enter into the intimate and everlasting relationship which humanity had in the beginning, when YHVH created the heavens and the earth.
Isa 64:2 (64:1) Kikdoach Like when kindling eish fire hamasiym the brushwood mayim tiveh-eish fire causes water to boil— lehodiya to make known shimcha Your Name letzareycha to your adversaries, mipaneycha from Your face goyim nations yirgazu tremble.
“When Thou didst send forth Thine anger like fire in the days of Elijah, the sea was melted, the waters were flames of fire, to make Thy name known to the enemies of Thy people, that the nations may tremble at Thy presence.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
There is a figurative correlation here to the miracle performed by God at the request of Elijah against the prophets of the Ba’aliym (1 Kings 18:38). The idea being that there is an even greater manifestation of this miracle in which the nations also will be left trembling before God. Judgement always begins with Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen) and then spills over into the nations.
The “tiveh-eish” melting fire, is fire of extreme heat which bursts forth quickly from the ignition of dry stubble. The violent crackling, fierce flame and pulsing heat of such fire is a fearful representation of the vengeance and judgement of the Living God. The result being that YHVH God’s Name is made known to the nations. After all, how can the nations call upon God’s name and be saved unless they are first made aware of His Name. That is, the Name of His King Messiah (Acts 2; 4:11-12).
“And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.” -Joel 2:32a
“Yeshua is ‘the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.’ (Psalm 118:22)
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” -Acts 4:11-12
Isa 64:3 (64: 2) Ba’asotcha When You fashioned noraot fearful (awesome) things lo nekaveh that we did not look for, yaradta You descended, mipaneycha from Your face hariym the mountains nazolu trembled in insignificance.
The fearful things of old are the miraculous acts of HaShem in delivering Israel, freeing Israel from slavery in Egypt, manifesting His Word at Sinai, delivering Jerusalem from the Assyrians, and many other acts both predating Israel’s captivity in Egypt and yet future from the purview of the Israelites of Isaiah’s generation.
“Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers!
I, even I, will sing to the Lord;
I will praise the Lord, the God of Israel, in song.
“When you, Lord, went out from Seir,
when you marched from the land of Edom,
the earth shook, the heavens poured,
the clouds poured down water.
The mountains quaked before the Lord, the One of Sinai,
before the Lord, the God of Israel.” -Judges 5:3-5 (NIV)
These actions of HaShem were not looked for in the sense that Israel was not capable of seeing His glory, nor truly understanding His love for His chosen people. Few sought intimate relationship with God (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua etc.) But in every generation He revealed Himself as Holy, and manifest His power in pursuit of the sacrificial, loving redemption of His chosen people (Israel: ethnic, religious).
The repetition of the descent of His face and the trembling mountains reminds the reader of the giving of the Torah and of the intimate love relationship that Israel’s Creator desires.
“Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly.” -Exodus 19:18
Isa 64:4 (64:3) Umeiolam And from perpetuity (the beginning) lo-shame’u none have heard lo he’eziynu none have perceived by the ear, ayin lo-ra’atah no eye has seen Elohiym a God zulatecha except You, ya’aseh Who works limchakeih-lo for those who wait for Him.
“And since the world was, ear hath not heard the report of such mighty deeds, nor hearkened to the speech of rapture, nor hath eye seen, what Thy people saw, the Shekinah of Thy glory, O Lord; for there is none besides Thee, who will do such things for Thy righteous people, who were of old; who hope for Thy salvation.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
Rav Shaul (Paul the Apostle) paraphrases this text, making the phrases “those who wait for Him” and “those who love Him” synonymous:
“But, as it is written, “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—1 Corinthians 2:9
In simple terms, there is no God like or other than You HaShem. The expression of His nature that truly sets YHVH apart from all other would be gods, is His devotion to His creation. He is immutably intent on lavishing His love on all who love Him and wait patiently for Him to reveal the fullness of His redemptive purposes for humanity. First for the Jews and also for the nations (Romans 1:16).
Both the present verse and the subsequent quotation of it by Rav Shaul, are an allusion to the Olam Haba (World to come) and the new heavens and earth that await the redeemed of the Lord. This is connected to the afore mentioned, “Upon them tear to pieces the heavens, descend, from Your face the mountains trembled in insignificance…” (verse1). HaShem as Redeemer and God with us (Immanuel) will come, has come, and is yet to come. First as Creator, then as King Messiah, and finally as King Messiah and Re-Creator. Thus, the present portion sets a foundation for the revealing of the new heavens and earth in the latter part of the following portion (Chapter 65).
It is interesting to note that the Talmud understands the present verse to refer to the time of the King Messiah and the Olam Haba (World to come).
"all the prophets say, they all of them prophesied only of the days of the Messiah; but as to the world to come, eye hath not seen…” - Talmud. Babylonian. Sabbat, fol. 63. 1. & Sanhedrin, fol. 99.
“No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.” -John 1:18 (ESV)
Isa 64:5 (64:4) Pagata You meet et-sas with the joyful one ve’oseih and work tzedek righteousness, bidracheycha in Your ways yizkerucha you call them to mind; hein-atah Behold, You katzafta were angry, vanecheta and we sinned (missed the way); bahem in them (our sins) olam perpetually, venivashei’a and will we be saved?
This verse continues to illuminate the nature of God manifest in the redeemed nature of His servants. In the previous verse we are told of the wonder that awaits those who wait on (love) Him. Now we are further told that He meets with the one Whom He has filled with joy (a reference to salvation and its fruit), one who subsequently works righteousness from the joy of Salvation Himself (Yeshua). We are also assured that the servants of the Lord are remembered before His face and that they in turn remember His works (the Hebrew is ambiguous for this very reason. The interpretation being twofold).
“Behold, You were angry, and we sinned (missed the way);” This is a tragic self-indictment. Israel witnessed and understood God’s wrath and anger toward her because of her sin and rejection of Him: none the less she chose to continue to sin in spite of her affliction, which was intended to bring her to repentance.
“in them (our sins) perpetually, and will we be saved?” Isaiah, on Israel’s behalf, is saying “We have intentionally continued to sin, is it even possible for us to be saved?” The answer of course is yes, and at great cost to God.
Some of the Jewish sages understand this verse differently to refer to the loss of the righteous in the generation of the wicked. While this is cohesive with other portions of Isaiah, it seems an unlikely conclusion given the context of chapter 64.
"the righteous, who were doing thy commandments with joy, are not now in the world, to stand in the gap for us.'' -Kimchi
Isa 64:6 (64:5) Vanehiy We have become chatamei unclean kulanu all of us, ucheveged and rags idiym of menstration are kol-tzidkoteinu all our righteous deeds. Vanavel And senselessly dropping ke’aleh like a leaf, kulanu all va’avoneinu our depravity, karuach like a wind, yisaunu takes us away.
In one sense the prophet is comparing Israel’s condition to that of a nation of leapers crying out “Unclean, unclean…” (Leviticus 13:45). In fact, according to the Torah regulation regarding a leaper, he was to isolate himself and cry out “unclean, unclean” in order to warn others to stay away from him, so that they might not become unclean from contact with him. This is sadly ironic, given that Israel had been given the role of being light and healing to the nations.
The prophet accepts guilt upon himself, though he is not guilty of the sins of his pairs. This is an example to all who would pray on behalf of a Godless nation. “We have all become unclean”; not just ritually but in every way, physical, emotional, mental, spiritual etc. So unclean in fact that our righteous or good deeds are likened to used menstrual rags. The modern equivalent to this being “Our righteousness is like used tampons”. Graphic, yes, and necessarily so. We are utterly defiled by our own sin and in desperate need of cleansing. A cleansing we are incapable of performing for ourselves.
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” -Romans 3:23 (NIV)
“As it is written,
“And senselessly dropping like a leaf, all our depravity, like a wind, takes us away.” It is not God Who has destroyed us but we ourselves. The natural fruit of our sin has come upon us and we are defiled and afflicted by the consequences of our own sin. God does not send people to eternal punishment, people choose to go.
Isa 64:7 (64:6) Ve’eiyn-korei And there is no one who calls veshimcha upon Your Name, mitoreir who awakens himself lehachaziyk bach to take strength in You; kiy-histarta for you have concealed faneycha Your face mimenu from us, vatemugeinu and have melted us beyad-avoneinu in the hand of our perversities.
"there is none that prays in thy name" -Targum
Israel had fallen prey to false gods and even those praying to YHVH were mixing their practice with the practices of heathen worship and thus defiling the use of His Name and therefore in a very real sense, not calling on His Name at all.
“who awakens himself to take strength in You” This can be seen as an allusion to morning prayer (Today called sacharit) that is prayed from a truly devoted heart (core being). Prayed by those who begin every day with their heart (core being), mind and soul set on YHVH. Sadly the opposite is true of the generation of Isaiah.
“you have concealed Your face from us” is in fact a matter of perception and a sad reflection of the inability of Israel to perceive of God’s present help. In fact, Israel had concealed her face from Him.
“have melted us in the hand of our perversities.” Once again, it is Israel who have melted themselves in their own perversity, however it is true that ultimately it is God Who has allowed this for the sake of their disciplining and in order to provoke them to repentance.
Isa 64:8 (64:7) Ve’atah And now, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), Aviynu Our Father atah You are; anachnu we hachomer are the clay, ve’atah and You yotzereinu are our potter (One who forms); uma’aseih yadecha kulanu we are all the work of Your hand.
"and thou, Lord, thy mercies towards us "are" many (or let them be many) as a father towards "his" children.'' -Targum
God’s relationship with Israel as both Creator and Father remains intact in spite of all her disobedience and His disciplining of her. In fact, not in spite of it but as evidenced by it. He is not only the One Who moulds her, He is the One Who made the matter (essence) from which she is moulded. Like a potter Hashem has fashioned Israel for a purpose. Both individually and corporately.
“Do you thus repay the LORD, you foolish and senseless people? Is not he your father, who created you, who made you and established you?” -Deuteronomy 32:6 (ESV)
Isa 64:9 (64:8) Al-tokztof YHVH ad-meod Don’t be terribly angry perpetually, O LORD (Mercy), ve’lo-la’ad tizkor avon and don’t remember our perversity forever. Hein Behold, habet-na amecha pay attention now, to Your people.
The prophet reminds himself and his hearers that they are God’s chosen, ethnic, religious people. He implores God to search out the hearts of His people in accordance with the plea for Him to tear the heavens and come down. This is an admission of guilt and an acknowledgement of God’s character, in that He is unable to reject Himself and part of Who He is resides within the people of Israel.
“11 Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
12 if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
13 if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.” 2 Timothy 2:11-13 (NIV)
Isa 64:10 (64:9) Areiy kodshecha Your holy cities hayu have become midbar a wilderness; Tziyon (Zion, parched land) is midbar a wilderness, hayatah Yerushalayim (Jerusalem: Flood of Peace) has become shemamah a desolation.
This is an indictment against Israel who have taken possession of God’s holy places for their false gods and practices, their depravity and immorality. It is true that these are HaShem’s holy places, they do not belong to Israel except by His hand. Therefore He has laid them waste.
“11 Her leaders judge for a bribe,
her priests teach for a price,
and her prophets tell fortunes for money.
Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say,
“Is not the Lord among us?
No disaster will come upon us.”
12 Therefore because of you,
Zion will be plowed like a field,
Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble,
the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.” -Micah 3:11-12 (NIV)
Isa 64:11 (64:10) Beiyt kadesheinu ve’tifarteinu Our holy and beautiful house, asher hillucha avoteinu where our fathers praised You, haya lisreigat has been burned by eish fire, ve’kol-machamadeiynu and all our pleasant things hayah lecharebah have become ruins.
The Holy House is the Temple in Jerusalem. It is likely that at the time of Isaiah’s prophecy this was yet to come to pass. However, the defilement of the Temple had begun with the syncretism of idolatrous practices and thus the burning and ruin of the pleasant things was already a spiritual reality.
The “fathers” who had praised God in the past were the Levitical priesthood, operating at a time when the Torah requirements for worship and sacrifice were being adhered to with integrity.
Isa 64:12 (64:11) Ha’al-eileh Upon these things titapak will You hold back Hashem (YHVH: Mercy)? Techesheh Will You be silent, ute’anenu and afflict us ad-meod excessively, perpetually?
This ends Isaiah’s plea and makes way for Hashem’s indictment against Israel in the following chapter, where He illuminates their future sin and desolation in order to reveal Israel’s redemption and Salvation in Him.
The prophet asks and knows the answer “Will You be silent and afflict us excessively?” We know this, that God is just and not excessive, self-controlled and not compulsive, kind and not punitive, ready, able, and willing to save at the appointed time.
© 2019 Yaakov Brown
In the sense that God is in control of all things and that He allows but is not subject to free will, the phrase “You make us wander” is accurate. It is in fact in our wandering that we discover the need for direction.
Isa 63:1 Miy zeh Who is this ba Who comes mei’edom from Edom (red), chamutz in leavened, fermented, dyed crimson begadiym garments mibatzrah from Bozrah (sheepfold), zeh hadur this One Who is splendid, honourable, glorious, majestic bilvusho in His clothing, tzo’eh stooping berov in the greatness kocho of His strength? “Aniy It is I, me’dabeir speaking bitzdakah in righteousness, rav mighty lehoshiya to save.”
There are a number of reasons we understand the speaker in verse 1 to be HaShem, and by extension the Servant King Messiah. First, chapter 62:11 speaks of Salvation the Person (Yeshua) coming to deliver Israel (Zion, Jerusalem), following which the prophet speaks of the redeemed people of Zion and the titles by which the redeemed city of Jerusalem will be described. Therefore, the One described in verse 1 of Isaiah 63 must be the Salvation that comes in 62:11, bringing reward and recompense (just vengeance). Second, only God Himself is capable of truly saving Israel, which alerts us again to the intrinsic connection between the Servant Redeemer, Who is Salvation, and HaShem. In fact, the Salvation personified in the previous chapter is that of God Himself coming as God with us, the King Messiah. He comes with reward for the redeemed and recompense for the wicked.
“Some refer this to Messiah, others to the angel Michael; but more correctly it may be referred to God.” -Iben Ezra
A number of Jewish commentators, both ancient and modern, interpret this portion of Isaiah as referring to the Messiah, specifically in relation to what they understand as His first (only) coming. They also understand Edom as being figurative of Rome, given that the political and physical end of the Edomites actually occured during the Maccabean period (167-160 BCE), when the Edomites were conquered and forced into conversion to Judaism. Following this their land became nothing more than a desert wasteland.
When the King Messiah shall come, he will be clothed in purple, beautiful to look at, which in colour shall be like to wine for the clothing of the King Messiah shall be silk, red as blood; and it shall be worked with the needle in various colours, and he shall be the Head of Israel; and this is what is said in Isa. 63:3 ‘wherefore art thou red in thy apparel?’'' - R. Moses Haddarsan in Bereshit Rabba in Gen. xlix. 11.
“the Ishmaelites or Turks shall fight three battles in the latter day; one in the forest of Arabia; another in the sea; and a third in the great city Rome, which shall be greater than the other two; and from thence shall spring the Messiah, and he shall look upon the destruction of the one and of the other, and from thence shall he come into the land of Israel, as it is said, ‘who is this that comes from Edom?’” - Pirke Eliezer, c. 30. fol. 32. 1.
“the Ishmaelites or Turks shall come against Rome, and destroy it; and then shall be revealed the Messiah, the son of David, and shall complete the redemption of the Lord, according to Dan 12:1 … the son of David, shall be of the Jews that are in the captivity of Edom (or Rome), Isa. 63:1 ‘who is this that comes from Edom?’” – Abarbinel; Mashmiah Yeshuah, fol. 44. 1, 2.
Also the Jewish commentator Kimchi interprets the present verse as prophetic of the time to come (Messianic age). However, although it is true that the King Messiah is intended, the present text relates to His second coming, and not to any current historical event or to His ascension to heaven, after his death and resurrection; which took place in Judea, and on the Mount Olives, near to Jerusalem (not in or from Edom, which is south east of Jerusalem). Therefore, the present text finds its greater fulfilment yet future, when Messiah returns to take vengeance on the anti-messiah, and all the anti-messianic powers (empire of the Beast).
Edom, while being a brother nation to Israel, also symbolises pagan opposition toward God and Israel (Chosen, ethnic, religious) [Isa.34:5; Jer.25:22; 49:17].
Bozrah was once a strong city in Edom on the shore of the Sea of Salt (Dead Sea). Edom is another name for Esau (Gen. 36:8), and comes from the root adom (red), thus, blood stains or wine juice, the blood of grapes. Bozrah, meaning sheepfold, is related to the Hebrew bazir “a vintage” and is therefore an interesting poetic allusion within the wider narrative of Isaiah 63.
Yet another Jewish commentator Yarchi interprets the garments of the One coming from Edom as being dyed in blood, or dipped in it; which agrees with the vesture od Messiah as described in the Revelation:
“On His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘King of kings, and Lord of lords.’ Then I saw a single angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he cried out to all the birds flying high in the sky, ‘Come, gather for the great banquet of God--18 to eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of generals and the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and those riding on them, the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great!’” -Revelation 19:16-18 (TLV)
Ultimately the King Messiah will return as the warring Mashiyach Ben David, coming with reward for the righteous and bringing judgement upon the wicked:
“These kings are of one mind, and they give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them—because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with Him are called and chosen and faithful.” -Revelation 17:13-14 (TLV)
Isa 63:2 Madua Why adom lilvushecha is your clothing red, uve’gadeycha and your garments kedoreich be’gat like one who treads in the winepress?
As alluded to previously, adom and edom are easily related and convey the extent of the punishment of the wicked who oppose God and His purposes for redeeming Israel. The treading of the winepress and the act of harvesting are figurative Biblical pictures of judgement against the wicked (Joel 3:13; Isa. 63:2-3; Rev. 14:19).
Isa 63:3 “Purah darachtiy levadiy The winepress I have trodden alone, umei’amiym and from the tribes eiyn-iysh no man (one) itiy with me; ve’edrecheim I trod on them be’apiy in My anger ve’ermeseim and trampled them bachamatiy in My rage; ve’yeiz nitzcham their lifeblood spattered al-begaday on my garments, vechol-malbushay and all My attire egaletiy I will stain.
Both the literal and figurative judgements that God executes over Edom are His doing alone accomplished without the assistance of anyone from among the tribes of Israel (with the exception of Yeshua of course).
He treads on Edom, the enemies of God and of His chosen people Israel. The wine press is a wine press of wrath, and the trampling results in the garments of HaShem being spattered with blood like stains. The life sap (nitscham) is symbolic of the blood of the enemies of God.
“He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.” -Revelation 19:13 (ESV)
The context of this correlating passage from Revelation is one of God’s wrath meted out through the Messiah. Therefore, the blood of the Messiah’s robe in this context is the blood of vengeance and not the Messiah’s own shed blood of redemption
Isa 63:4 Kiy For yom a day nakam of vengeance belibiy is in My heart, ushenat and My year geulay of redemption ba’ah is come.
Once again we note that God’s vengeance is brief (a day) and His redemption is wide (a year).
In order that Israel might be redeemed, Edom, both the literal and figurative, perpetual enemy of Israel must be wiped out.
Isa 63:5 Veabiyt And I looked, ve’eiyn but there was no ozer help; ve’eshtomeim I was appalled, ve’eiyn but there was no someich one to uphold; vatusha liy zeroiy so My own arm brought Me salvation, vachamatiy and My rage hiy He semachateniy upheld Me.
God needs no help from man, thus the meaning is related to the fact that there was no one without sin. Nor is any man capable of redeeming himself, let alone bringing salvation to all Israel.
“He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then His own arm brought him salvation, and His righteousness upheld him.” -Isaiah 59:16 (ESV)
The arm of God is the King Messiah Who brings salvation and the rage of God against sin and death is the force that upholds and renders His righteous judgement.
Isa 63:6 Ve’avus And I trampled down (rejected) amiym the tribes be’apiy in My anger; va’ashakereim making them drunk bachamatiy in My rage, veoriyd and descending la’aretz to the land nitzcham their lifeblood (grape juice).”
Israel will also suffer under the anger and wrath of God as a result of her sin and rebellion. At this point HaShem has come up from trampling Edom and is bringing just punishment against Israel as a precursor to her redemption and the remembrance of His covenant promises, His loving kindness and mercy toward her.
“For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.” -Psalm 75:8 (ESV)
Isa 63:7 Chasdeiy The kindnesses of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), azkiyr I will remember, tehilot the praises of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), ke’al because upon kol all asher-gemalanu HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) that the LORD has recompensed, ve’rav-tov and the great good le’veiyt to the house Yisrael of Israel asher-gemalam that He has granted them kerachamayv according to His compassion, uchero and according to the abundance of chasadayv His steadfast kindness.
From 63:7- 64:12 the prophet Isaiah cries out in humble confession and from a place of great desperation, on behalf of his people Israel: seeking forgiveness and restoration to right relationship with God.
“Chasdeiy” is plural and indicates the many miraculous works of deliverance and loving kindnesses of God toward Israel.
This verse begins and ends with “Chesed” loving kindness, the action of love.
Isa 63:8 Vayomer And He said, “Ach-amiy Indeed they are My tribe, heimah baniym lo yeshakeiru children who will not deal falsely.” Vayhiy And I became lahem to them le’moshiya their Saviour.
Once again God is quoted as calling Israel His tribe and Himself her Saviour. However, this becomes an indictment against the people of Israel who should have acted rightly toward their God. None the less, He has and will continue to be a Saviour to them.
Isa 63:9 Be-chol In all tzaratam their affliction (distress, trouble, rival wives) lo tzar He was afflicted (distress, trouble, a rival wife), umalach and the messenger (angel) of panayv His face hoshiyam saved them; beahavato in His love uvechemlato and in His mercy hu ge’alam He redeemed them; vaynateleim He lifted them up vaynaseim and carried them kol-yemeiy all the days olam in perpetuity.
“In all tzaratam their affliction (distress, trouble) lo tzar He was afflicted (distressed, troubled)…” God suffers because of, with, and for His people, both emotionally and literally (Messiah Yeshua). The Hebrew “tzarah” (affliction, distress, trouble) can also mean “rival wife”. Thus, there is a sense in which the prophet is making a comparison between the hurt Israel feels at being rejected by God and God’s hurt at being rejected by His people.
“and the messenger (angel) of panayv His face hoshiyam saved them…” We have previously read that HaShem’s own arm will bring Salvation (v.5). Therefore, the Messenger of the Face of God must also be God with us. In fact, the Angel of the presence that went before and behind Israel as she fled Egyptian bondage was none other than Yeshua the transcendent resurrected King Messiah.
“Behold, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you into the place that I have prepared. 21 Watch for Him and listen to His voice. Do not rebel against Him because He will not pardon your transgression, for My Name is in Him. 22 But if you listen closely to His voice, and do everything I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.” -Exodus 23:20-22 (TLV)
“in His love uvechemlato and in His mercy hu ge’alam He redeemed them; vaynateleim He lifted them up vaynaseim and carried them kol-yemeiy all the days olam perpetuity.” The nearest previous subject is the Angel of the Face, therefore, God with us, the King Messiah is meant, none other qualifies to action the love, mercy, and redemption of Hashem, nor did anyone other than Hashem lift up and carry Israel perpetually.
Isa 63:10 Ve’heimah And they maru rebelled ve’itzevu and grieved et-ruach kadosho His Holy Spirit; vayeihafeich therefore He turned to become lahem leoyeiv their enemy, hu nilcham-bam He fought against them.
“Remember and do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD.” -Deut. 9:7 (ESV)
“Some understand by the Holy Spirit the Angel of the Lord.” -Iben Ezra
“But they rebelled against the word of His holy prophets, and blasphemed, and His Word became their enemy, and He waged war against them.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Centruy CE)
“Now if in spite of these things you will not be chastened by Me, but walk contrary to Me instead, 24 then I will also walk contrary to you. Then I will strike you, I Myself, seven times for your sins. 25 I will bring a sword upon you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant, and you will be gathered together inside your cities. I will send the pestilence among you and you will be given into the hand of the enemy.” -Leviticus 26:23-25 (TLV)
Isa 63:11 Vayizkor Then bringing to remembrance (recalling) yemeiy-olam the days of perpetuity, Mosheh of Moses, amo His people. Ayeih Where hama’aleim is He Who brought them up out mi’yam from the sea eit roeiy with the shepherd tzono of His flock? Ayeih Where is He Who hasham put bekirbo in the midst of them et-ruach kadesho His Holy Spirit,
“And He had compassion for the glory of His name, because of the remembrance of His goodness of old, the mighty works which He did by the hands of Moses for His people; lest the Gentiles should say, Where is He that brought them up out of the sea? Where is He that led them through the wilderness, as a shepherd his flock? Where is He that made the word of His holy prophets to dwell amongst them?” - Targum Yonatan (2nd Centruy CE)
“Where is He?” The greater answer is that He never left them or truly forsook them. While the reference to a shepherd (shepherds) may refer to Moses, or Moses and Aaron collectively, it is equally likely to refer to the Angel of the presence and or God Himself. It is also acceptable to understand the shepherds to be all the aforementioned.
“You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst.” -Nehemiah 9:20 (ESV)
Isa 63:12 Moliych liymiyn Mosheh zeroa tifarto Who caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, bokei’a who divided (split, broke open, tore up) mayim the waters mipeneiyhem from before their faces la’asot to make for lo sheim olam Himself an everlasting name,
“Your right hand, O Lord, has become glorious in power;
Your right hand, O Lord, has dashed the enemy in pieces.
7 And in the greatness of Your excellence
You have overthrown those who rose against You;
You sent forth Your wrath;
It consumed them like stubble.
8 And with the blast of Your nostrils
The waters were gathered together;
The floods stood upright like a heap;
The depths congealed in the heart of the sea.
9 The enemy said, ‘I will pursue,
I will overtake,
I will divide the spoil;
My desire shall be satisfied on them.
I will draw my sword,
My hand shall destroy them.’
10 You blew with Your wind,
The sea covered them;
They sank like lead in the mighty waters.” -Exodus 15:6-10
Isa 63:13 Moliycham Who led batehomot them in the depths? Kasus Like a horse bamidbar in the desert (ba in, mi from, davar word, essence) lo yikashelu they did not stumble.
A poetic way of referring to Israel’s escape through the depths of the Red sea and her journey through the desert to the promised land.
Isa 63:14 Kabeheimah Like livestock babikah tered going into the valley, Ruach-YHVH the Spirit of the LORD teniychenu gave them rest. Kein So nihageta you drove, led, guided amecha Your tribe, la’asot to make lecha for Yourself sheim tifaret a glorious name.
We note that the Spirit of the Lord, Who is called “Comforter” in the Brit HaChadashah (NT), is described here as the One Who gives Israel rest.
The strong theme of the glorification of God’s Name is significant because it is through the recognition of the saving God of Israel that all who seek redemption are saved in the Messiah and reconciled to the God of Israel.
Isa 63:15 Habet Look (regard, consider) mishamayim from the heavens ure’eih and see, mizevul kodshecha from the lofty habitation of Your holiness vetifartecha and Your Glory, Majesty, Splendour. Ayeih Where are kinatecha Your zeal, jealousy ugevurotecha and Your strength? Hamon The roar (stirring, tumult, sound) me’eicha from Your intestines (inner parts) verachameycha and Your womb (compassion) eilay hitapaku are held back from me.
The prophet expresses the people’s feelings of abandonment. Though the prophet knows that God is ever present, he uses distancing language to show both the Lofty glory and all powerful nature of God and His seeming rejection of the people of Israel who have acted so wickedly toward Him.
We note that the literal Hebrew translation reveals both the masculine and feminine nature of God. “The roar me’eicha from Your intestines (masculine), verachameycha and your womb (feminine)…”
Isa 63:16 Kiy-atah For You are Avinu our Father, kiy Avraham lo yeda’anu for Abraham does not know us, ve’yisrael and Israel (The individual progenitor Jacob) lo yakiranu does not acknowledge us; Atah You, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), Avinu are our Father, Goaleinu our Redeemer mei’olam she’meicha from perpetuity is Your name.
The prophet reminds himself and Israel that they are generations from the patriarchs and must remember that from before the beginning of Israel’s existence God has been her Father and Redeemer.
I recall a foolish Christian teacher who once told me that “Jews don’t understand God as Father but Christians do because Jesus taught us to prayer which says, ‘Our Father Who is in Heaven’”. I responded, “You obviously know very little about Jewish people and the Bible (present text not withstanding). One of the central prayers of Rosh Hashanah begins, ‘Our Father, Our King’”.
Isa 63:17 Lamah tateinu YHVH mideracheycha, Why do You make us wander from your ways HaShem, takshiach hardening libeinu our core being (heart), miyiratecha from fearing You? Shuv Turn back lema’an for the sake avadeycha of your servants, shivteiy the branches of nachalatecha Your inheritance (heritage, possession, property).
“Why hast Thou cast us off, Lord, that we should go astray from the paths which are right in Thy sight, as the nations which have no part in the instruction of Thy law? Our heart is not turned away from Thy fear: return Thy Shekinah unto Thy people, for the sake of Thy righteous servants, unto whom Thou hast sworn by Thy Word to make the tribes amongst them Thine inheritance.” - Targum Yonatan (2nd Centruy CE)
In the sense that God is in control of all things and that He allows but is not subject to free will, the phrase “You make us wander” is accurate. It is in fact in our wandering that we discover the need for direction.
Though God had never truly left Israel, Isaiah asks Him to turn back toward her for the sake of His righteous servants the prophets and the Patriarchs of Israel, the branches of God’s inheritance.
Isa 63:18 Lamitzar For a little while yareshu am-kodshecha Your tribe took hold of Your Holiness; tzareinu our adversaries bossu have trampled mikdashecha Your sanctuary.
This refers to the dwelling of God’s presence in a manifest way upon the Temple in Jerusalem during Solomon’s reign and the subsequent withdrawal of His glory during Israel’s years of idolatry and debauchery.
Isa 63:19 Hayiynu meiolam lo-mashalta ba lo-nikra shimcha We have become from perpetuity, like those not ruled by You, like those not called by Your name.
It’s as if Israel has become like a goy (foreign nation) who have never known God. The weight of this statement is lost on the modern reader. The nation God chose and to whom He revealed His glory, power, might and Holy fearful presence, has now become like those who never knew Him. Tragic, beyond appalling. The prophet is distraught, gutted, grieved to the core of his being by this sobering realisation.
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.