Isaiah 42: Behold Now My Chosen One
Miracles have no value if they achieve only temporal change (healing). The goal of a true miracle is an eternal one: to reconcile humanity to God through Messiah. Any miracle that doesn’t bear the fruit of eternal redemption is not of God. There are times when sickness is a greater miracle than healing.
In this short chapter the Holy Name YHVH (Mercy) is used nine times. The Servant (Yeshua) of Mercy is introduced in the first seven verses of this section of Isaiah, preceding the disobedient servant (Israel) from whom He comes.
Isaiah introduces us to the servant Israel (Isa. 41:8) as a people chosen to represent God’s redemptive purpose for all peoples, however, the Servant of Hashem who is presented in the beginning of this chapter is clearly distinct from Israel the people, while also being born of her. In fact, the Servant described in 42:1-7 has such a strong individuality and distinct personal features, that the title “Servant” cannot be understood of the collective entity Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical).
From verse 19 onwards we see a different servant, one who is blind, disobedient and in need of the deliverance offered through the first Servant (v.1-7).
We further note that Hashem has previously alluded to the Servant Who will bring good news to Israel:
“Rishon The first Le’Tziyon to Zion, Hineih Behold, now, hineih behold, now, them: and I will give to Yerushalayim Jerusalem one that brings good news.” – Isaiah 41:27
With these things in mind we are able to better understand the transition that takes place over the next 25 verses, where the Servant Messiah, born of the servant nation, is sent to redeem the disobedient nation and establish justice in the land.
Isa 42:1 Hein Behold av’di My Servant, etmoch-bo whom I uphold (hold fast); be’chiyriy My chosen one (elect), in Whom ratzetah delights nafshiy My soul (core being); natatiy I have put (given, bestowed, extended, yielded produce) ruachiy My Spirit alav upon (together with) Him: He will bring mishpat judgment la-goyim to the Gentiles (nations).
“Behold my servant the Messiah…I have put My Holy Spirit upon him…” -Targum Yonatan
In spite of the scholarship debate over the application of the title “Servant” in the opening verses of Isaiah 42, the majority of ancient Jewish commentators have interpreted Isaiah 42:1-4 to refer to the King Messiah.
In the second part of scroll of Isaiah there are four distinct Messianic servant prophecies (Isaiah 42:1-7; 49:1-7; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12).
It’s important to understand and distinguish between the two types of servant prophecies. The Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) applies the Messianic Servant passages of Isaiah to Yeshua (Jesus) the King Messiah (Matt. 12:17-20, Luke 2:32; 4:16-18, Acts 8:30-35).
In Isaiah 42:1-4 it is clear that the servant is an individual who has been given the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) and called to establish justice in the land (earth).
Isa 42:2 He will not cry out, lo-yisa nor exalt Himself (endure, resist, lift up), nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.
“He will not strive, nor cry; neither will any man hear his voice in the streets.” -Matthew 12:19
“He will not lift up his voice…” - Yarchi, Kimchi, & Ben Melech
To put it concisely, He will not seek glory for Himself or cry out in defence of Himself.
Isa 42:3 Kaneh A reed ratzutz crushed, (bruised, oppressed) lo He will not break, and the smoking flax (a dying flame) He will not quench: le-emet for truth He will bring forth judgment.
“A bruised reed He will not break, and dying flame He will not put out, until He sends forth judgment to victory.” -Matthew 12:20
Notice that the Septuagint (Greek OT) version quoted by Matthew (Levi) further illuminates the form that the judgement Messiah brings will take. His judgement will bring about the immutable truth of all things and victory over judgement that condemns, for those who receive Him.
"The meek, who are like a bruised reed, shall not be broken; and the poor, who are as obscure as flax (or a lamp ready to go out), shall not be extinct:'' -Targum Yonatan
“Ratzutz” describes something cracked, that is, half broken. Thus, it is inferred that not only will He not break it, He will also restore it.
Isa 42:4 He will not yichheh grow weak (fail, be faint, be restrained) nor be yarutz discouraged (crushed, oppressed), until He has yasiym set (appointed) mishpat judgment ba-aretz in the land (earth): u’torato and His Torah will be awaited by the iyiym islands (coastlands, Mediterranean).
The Servant (Yeshua) is now identified alongside the figures of the previous verse. He will both ensure the restoration of the broken (v.3) and remain in strength to bring about justice in the land of Israel (v.4). Thus, the Torah (Instruction) He imparts will bear fruit among the nations. Notice that the Torah is His. Both the literal Torah of Moses and the living Torah (Instruction) of the Messiah are born of His authorship. Messiah is the author and goal of the Torah (Romans 10:4).
“Looking to Yeshua the author and perfecter of our trust; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, thinking the shame small, and is seated down at the right hand of the throne of Elohim (God: Judge).” -Hebrews 12:2
Isa 42:5 Thus, says Elohim (God: Judge) Hashem (YHVH: Mercy), Who borei (from bara) created ha-shamayim the heavens, and stretched them out; He that roka beat out (stamped, spread forth) ha-aretz the land (earth), and that which comes out of it; He that notein gives neshamah life breath (convergence of soul and spirit directly issuing from God) la’am to the people (singular: Israel) on it, and ruach spirit la-holechiym to them that walk there:
“Created the heavens and stretched them out” connects the present chapter to Isaiah 40:22.
“To the people” is singular and refers to the ethnic people of Israel whom the Lord is addressing through the prophet. In principal it may be applied to all people but the p’shat (plain meaning) denotes the people of Israel (ethnic, religious).
There is an important distinction made here between the neshamah (life breath) of humanity and the ruach (spirit, breath, wind) of both humanity and the various species of creatures that inhabit the land. The neshamah is distinct in that it is not merely spirit but is rather the convergence of spirit and soul (nefesh), which is imparted to human beings from the Creator from the beginning. Animals on the other hand are devoid of neshamah (conscious-convergence) but are endowed with ruach (spirit, breath). This is why it is said that He created human beings in His own image, the image being the nature of soul and spirit made echad (one), inseparable.
Isa 42:6 Ani I Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) have called you be’tzedek in righteousness, and will hold your hand, ve’etzarecha and will keep (guard) you, and give you livriyt for a covenant (cutting) of (for) am the (a) people, le’or for a light to the goyim Gentiles (nations);
Notice that the Servant will be a “cutting” or a “covenant” for “a people”. The servant of verses 1 to 7 cannot possibly be Israel because He will be a covenant for “am” a single people (Israel). This is why the singular “am” people, is used first and the plural “goyim” nations, follows. “The Gospel is first and always for the Jews and also always for the nations” (Romans 1:16).
The “Or” (original light) spoken of here pre-existed the created lights. God said, “There has been light (Or), and there was light (Or)” [Genesis 1:3]. This correlates to John’s Gospel which says, “In the beginning was the Word-essence and the Word-essence was with God and the Word-essence was God, He was with God in the beginning” (John 1:1).
Notice also, that the Servant of Hashem is given by Hashem as a covenant. The Servant does not make a covenant (cutting), He is the covenant. This clearly refers to the King Messiah Yeshua Who says, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood” (Luke 22:20). Yeshua is the covenant that is both of and for the people of Israel and because of this He is also the light to the nations. When we fail to understand this order of redemptive purpose we do harm to the Gospel message, which is perpetuated in truth only according to the order outlined in Scripture.
The covenant mentioned here, referring to the Servant Himself (Yeshua) is also alluded to in Isaiah 54:10 following the essential Messianic passage of Isaiah 53. It is also the “Eternal covenant” of Isaiah 61:8, and the promised “New covenant” of Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 16:60.
Isa 42:7 To open the eiynyim eyes of the ivrot blind ones, to bring out from prison the prisoners, and mi’beiyt from the house of bondage those who sit in choshekh darkness.
The Servant will open the eyes of the blind both physically and spiritually. This correlates to the smouldering flame that He will not allow to go out (v.3). He will also set captives free both physically and spiritually. This correlates to the bruised reed that He will not break or allow to be broken (v.3). In each case the physical manifestation of a miraculous event is intended to illuminate the spiritual and eternal truth of salvation through the Servant (Yeshua). Miracles have no value if they achieve only temporal change (healing). The goal of a true miracle is an eternal one: to reconcile humanity to God through Messiah. Any miracle that doesn’t bear the fruit of eternal redemption is not of God. There are times when sickness is a greater miracle than healing.
“Choshekh” darkness, the opposite of Or light in the Genesis account. Therefore, the light of verse 6 delivers from the darkness of verse 7.
Isa 42:8 I am Hashem (YHVH: Mercy): that is shemiy My name: u’chevodiy and My glory I will not give to another, u’tehilatiy nor My praise la’pesiyliym to idols.
“I Mercy, that is My Name, and My glory I will not give to anyone or anything nor the praise due Me to worthless idols!” He is the very essence of Mercy, none the less, in mercy He is fierce for His people and will not allow evil to steal their attention away from Him.
Isa 42:9 Ha-rishonot the first things, hineih now are come to pass, va-chadashot and new things I make known: before they spring forth I tell you of them.
All this is being said to Israel through the prophet in advance. God is making the Gospel known first and always to Israel (ethnic, religious), and “Salvation (Yeshua) comes from the Jews”.
Isa 42:10 Sing to Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) shiyr chadash a new song, and His praise from the extremity of ha-aretz the land (earth), you who go down to ha-yam the sea (body of water, lake etc.), and all that are there; iyiym the islands (coastlands, Mediterranean), and the inhabitants there.
This is an instruction to Israel (ethnic, religious) to proclaim the new things of God in song to the ends of the known world, including the islands of the Mediterranean. This is in keeping with God’s promise that both Israel and the Servant Messiah (A Jew) will be a light to the goyim (nations) [42:1; 49:6; 60:3; Luke 2:32; Acts 13:47, 26:23].
Isa 42:11 Let the midbar wilderness (from the Word) and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages Kedar (dark, dusty skinned ones) inhabited: let the inhabitants of sela the rock (Petra?) sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Isa 42:12 Let them give glory to Hashem (YHVH: Mercy), and make known His praise in the iyiym the islands (coastlands, Mediterranean).
In short, let all people, both obscure and renowned lift up their voices and shout praise to Hashem because of the good news of the Servant King Messiah.
Isa 42:13 Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) will go forth as a mighty ce’iysh man, He will go to war, awakening jealousy with a shout: He will cry, He will certainly, roar; He will prevail against His enemies.
This fierce poetic language describes Hashem going to war against His enemies. His enemies are the forces of darkness that oppose His glory and His purposed redemption of humanity. His enemies are those who oppose His chosen ethnic people Israel and His purposes for her. His enemies are those that oppose His children who share the good news of His Servant, regardless of their ethnicity. His enemies are those who deny the deity of His Son Who is literally a “iysh” man, Who has come to go to war against idolatry, sin and death, defeating the darkness in the light of His death and resurrection. Are you an enemy or a friend of God?
Isa 42:14 I have kept silent for a long time; I have been still, and restrained Myself: now I will scream like a woman in labour, gasping; and devour at once.
In poetic language God describes His long suffering, limitless patience. In doing so He also explains the need for that patience to come to a conclusion so that mercy might be made known through discipline. Such is His passionate love for Israel that He screams like a woman in labour, gasping in hopeful expectation.
Isa 42:15 I will lay waste hariym mountains and gevaot hills, and cause all their herbs to wither; and I will turn the rivers into islands, and the pools I will dry up.
In poetic language Hashem’s gasping screams for the redemption of His chosen people Israel result in the laying waste of idolatry (mountains) and pride (hills), and the decimation of the sinful fruit of the highly positioned gods of hubris. Consequently, in spiritual discipline, God also affects the land in a literal way in counter distinction to the fruiting of the land in conjunction with spiritual freedom.
Isa 42:16 And I will lead the blind be-derekh in the way they didn’t know; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make ma-cheshakh the darkness before them la’or into light, and crooked things straight. These things I will do, and not forsake them.
Hashem now links Himself to the actions of the Servant of verse 7 saying, “I will lead the blind in the way”, that way being the way of the Messiah, a way that Israel was yet to learn. This is a promise of redemption and freedom from blindness (darkness), bringing the blind, seeing, into the light. God affirms His promise not to forsake blind Israel in spite of her wandering, He will “do these things… and not forsake them (Israel).”
Isa 42:17 They will be turned back, they will be greatly ashamed, that trust in idols (images), that say to the molten images, “You are our eloheiynu gods (judges).”
Those among Israel who have worshipped the false gods of their neighbours will shuva repent, turn back to Hashem through the Servant (Yeshua) of verses 1 - 7, and be ashamed in the sense of godly sorrow for sinful practices because they had foolishly called idols “Our gods.” This is a promise of the latter redemption of Israel: it comes before the sobering conclusion of this chapter in order to remind the reader that Mercy precedes Judgement.
Isa 42:18 Hear, you deaf; and look, you blind, that you may see.
God admonishes Israel in her sinful state to hear, receive, understand, and to open her spiritual eyes to see the truth of her sin and return to God through His Servant King Messiah.
Yeshua says, “Let the one who has ears to hear, listen, perceive, receive, understand…” (Luke 8:8).
Isa 42:19 Who is blind, but My servant? or deaf, as My messenger that I sent? who is blind ki’m’shulam in order to bring a covenant of peace (wholeness), and a blind servant of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy)?
The Servant of verses 1 through 7 is clearly not blind. In fact, He ministers to the blind. Therefore, the servant of verses 19-20 is clearly Israel (ethnic, religious), who, in spite of her calling has been blind, why? For the sake of the “covenant of peace” that will be instigated by the Servant (Messiah) described in verses 1 - 7.
Isa 42:20 Seeing many things, but not observing; opening the ears, but not yishma hearing.
Speaking again of Israel His servant Hashem describes their spiritual state using the words that Isaiah has already spoken (Isa. 6:9) and Yeshua will later repeat during His ministry in the land of Israel.
“Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.’ For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” -Matthew 13:14-17
Isa 42:21 Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) is delighted for the sake of His righteousness'; He will yagdiyl magnify (make great) the Torah (Instruction), and reveal (make) its yadir majesty, honour.
The righteousness of Hashem and His Torah are revealed, therefore, Israel is without excuse, we have beheld His majesty and the Torah that proceeds from Him. The same Torah that the Servant of Isaiah 1-7 sends from Israel to the nations, has been among us the Jewish people from its entry into time and space through the Patriarchs and Moses at Sinai.
Isa 42:22 But this is a people robbed and spoiled; snared in holes (caves), all of them are hidden in prison houses: they have become a prey, and none delivers them; for a spoil, and none says, “Ha-shav Return, restore.”
This is both figurative and literal. At the time these words were spoken to Israel we were being robbed, imprisoned by enemies and had become prey for the nations. It seemed as though there was no one to deliver us. We also allowed ourselves to be robbed of our sacred religious texts and our calling and identity as the chosen of God. We were in prisons of our own making, bound by the idols of the nations that surrounded us. We had become prey to every false idea, and yet we did not return to Hashem in order to be restored in Him.
Isa 42:23 Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come?
The desperate plea of a birthing mother, the longing cry of a loving father, and the clarion call of the prophet of salvation and the Servant King Messiah.
Isa 42:24 Who gave Yaakov (follower, Jacob) for a spoil, and Yisrael (Yisra – overcome in El – God: Israel) to the robbers? Wasn’t it Hashem (YHVH: Mercy), He against Whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in His ways, neither were they obedient unto His Torah (Instruction).
God makes it clear to Israel His servant that her imprisonment and suffering are not the result of chance but are part of God’s intentional work for the sake of her redemption. The giving over of Israel as spoil is an act of discipline intended to bring her to repentance. The prophet himself interjects to say, “Wasn’t it Hashem, He against Whom we have sinned?” We had come to this point through sin and wilfully disobeying His loving Instruction (Torah).
Isa 42:25 Therefore, He has poured upon him the fury of His anger, and the strength of battle: and it has set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to leiv heart (core being).
This chapter comes to a sobering conclusion. In spite of the pleas of Adonai and the remarks of His prophet, Israel will not listen, hear, understand (yet). The fire of His discipline will burn her and the hardness of her heart will (temporarily) deceive her until, in exile, she learns to be obedient once more and return to her loving Father, her faithful Husband, Her unchanging God of Mercy.
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
Isaiah 41: No Fear for I am with You
Not "fear not" but "no fear": "fear not" is an instruction that requires the victim of fear to act, whereas "no fear" is a Statement declaring that God has already acted on the victim's behalf.
Isa 41:1 Ha-charishu Be dumb, keep silent, remain speechless before Me, imiym islands, coastlands (Mediterranean); and ule-umiym let the peoples renew their strength: let them come near; yedabeiru then let them speak: yachdav together lamishpat to judgment nikravah let us draw near.
The opening phrase describes the awe that results when the Goyim (nations, island dwellers of the Mediterranean etc.) first realize that the God of Israel is El-Elyon (God above all gods). They remain speechless and in awe until they are permitted to speak.
The “imiym” islands, coastlands are those adjoining the Mediterranean. The modern reader must remember that the prophet’s words are spoken to those whose perspective from within the land associates islands with the Mediterranean to the west and a vast expanse in the lands to the east.
“Let the peoples renew their strength” means, let the peoples recover from their speechless awe.
“Let them come near; then let them speak: together to judgement let us draw near.” This judgement is to determine who is greater, the peoples or the Holy One of Israel.
Isa 41:2 Who raised up mimizrach from the east tzedek a righteous man, called him to his feet, yitein gave lefanayv before his face goyim nations, and made him ruler over kings? he yitein gave them as dust to his sword, and as chaff driven to his bow.
This argument is premised on a future historical event, made known to the prophet in advance by the Spirit of God. The prophet speaks into time and space that which God has already seen completed outside of time and space and in a time yet future.
The man from the east is most likely Cyrus king of the Persians, who is later mentioned by name (Isa. 44:28, 45:1). In this case God has caused Cyrus to do His will and Cyrus is called tzedek (righteous) in the sense that as an instrument of Hashem his actions defeat injustice and are right according to God’s greater redemptive purpose for Israel and humanity.
However, the Targum Yonatan understands it to refer to Avraham. While this is inconsistent with the following chapters of Isaiah (44:28; 45:1), it is none the less, interesting.
“Who openly brought Abraham from the east? He brought the chosen of the righteous in truth to his place. He delivered up nations before him, and broke in pieces mighty kings, he cast the slain down like the dust before his sword, and he pursued them like stubble before his bow.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
If Abraham is intended, he was from the east (Gen. 11:31), is called righteous (Gen. 15:6) and the phrasing “made him ruler over kings? he gave them as dust to his sword, and as chaff driven to his bow” refers to his military victory in Genesis 14. However, this is inconsistent with the remainder of this chapter and the subsequent prophecies regarding Cyrus.
Isa 41:3 He pursued them, and passed shalom peacefully; by orach a path (way) that he had not gone with his feet.
Some understand the “He” of verses 2-3 as a reference to God Himself. However, it seems more likely that given the fact that “he” is raised up from the east and seemingly directed to fulfil God’s will for Israel, that “he” refers to Cyrus, and or possibly but less likely a reference to Avraham. This is further qualified by the phrasing “by a path that he had not gone with his feet.”
Isa 41:4 Who has fa’al practised ve’asah and made it, calling ha-dorot the generations meirosh from the beginning? Ani I HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), rishon first, ve’et and the acharoniym last (plural: continuing); Ani hu I am He.
The initial question is rhetorical with the certain and obvious answer that the “Who” is God Himself. So important is the clarification of this fact that the question is immediately followed by the proclamation of Hashem “I YHVH, first and last perpetually, I am He!”
Isa 41:5 The imiym islands, coastlands (Mediterranean) saw it, and feared; the ends of ha-aretz the land (earth) were afraid, approached, and arrived.
When Cyrus appeared from the north-east he swept nations and kingdoms before him and caused panic among the inhabitants of the Mediterranean, both the islands and the coastlines. This is qualified by ha-aretz, a reference to the land of Israel.
Isa 41:6 Each man helped his neighbour; and said to his brother, chazak be strong.
It is a natural response in times of fear to spur on those close to us whom we might rely on as trials unfold. Thus, “be strong” is what the trembling inhabitants of the Mediterranean said in earnest to one another.
Isa 41:7 Vaychazek And be strengthened charash craftsman, the tzoreif smelter, refiner and he that smooths with the hammer him that strikes the anvil, saying, It is ready for the joining: and he strengthened it with nails, that it should not be moved.
Foolishly, rather than repent and turn to the God of Israel, the inhabitants of the Mediterranean seem to perceive the coming of Cyrus as a punishment from their own false deities and seek out those who craft their idols in order to find help from their deaf, dumb and blind gods.
Isa 41:8 And you, Yisrael (Yisra-overcome; El – in God: Israel), avdiy My servant, Yaakov (follower: Jacob) whom I have chosen, the zera seed of Avraham (father of a great number of peoples; Abraham) ohaviy my loved one.
Adonai temporarily leaves His challenge to the idolatrous Mediterranean nations and turns to His chosen people Israel.
God sees Israel not as she is within time and space but as she is, complete through redemption outside of time and space. He speaks to the Israel she will become, connecting her to the patriarch Jacob and ultimately to ha-ivri the Hebrew Avraham (Gen. 14:13).
Israel is called “My servant”, not based on her merits but on God’s grace and faithfulness toward her. Israel may disobey Him and receive just punishment but she remains His servant, His chosen people regardless.
Israel’s role as servant is connected back through Jacob to Abraham, who is credited righteousness through faith (Gen. 15:16). Here God calls Abraham His loved one, literally “My love”, an intimate relational statement of deep affection, however, elsewhere Abraham is called God’s servant (Gen. 26:24). Thus, the nation that comes from his seed is also called God’s servant.
The progression of Israel’s service is interesting. In reverse order we read:
Thus we read, “The Father calls a follower who becomes an overcomer in God” and, “A friend chosen to serve.
“The seed of Abraham My friend” conveys a rich illumination of God’s redemptive plan. Israel is seen as the fruit of the father of faith. This fruit is only made whole through redemption. Thus, Yisra (overcome in) El (God).
This sets Israel apart from her idolatrous neighbours as a people belonging to the one true God.
Isa 41:9 You whom he-chezakticha I have taken in strength (from chazaq) from the extremity of ha-aretz the land (earth), and called you from the chief men there, and said to you, you are my servant; I have chosen you, and not rejected you.
This is spoken from Isaiah’s perspective in the land of Israel. Thus, “Whom I have taken in strength from the extremity of the land” is an allusion to God’s bringing Abraham from Ur of the Chaldeans, which was to the extreme east of Israel’s location: The edge of the known world, as it were.
“I have chosen you, and not rejected you.” Israel had endured numerous trials as a result of her sin and the idolatry of the nations, however, God reminds her that He is faithful, that those whom He chooses He does not forsake. Israel’s security is in God’s character, His love, His immutable fidelity.
Isa 41:10 Al tiyra No fear; for I am with you: no anxiety; for I am Eloheiycha your God (Judge): I will strengthen you; moreover, I will help you; certainly, I will uphold you with the yemin tzidki right hand of My righteousness.
“Al tiyra” literally “No fear; for I am with you”. To translate “Fear not” is to miss the fact that it is God Who removes the fear and not our choice not to fear. “No fear” means “I remove fear” and, “For I am with you” assures the servant Israel that in the midst of her turmoil God is closer to her than breathing. Likewise “No anxiety” is not “Don’t be anxious” rather it means “I will remove anxiety from you”, why? Because “I am your God, your judge, and through the lens of redemption I have acquitted you of your sin”.
Not "fear not" but "no fear": "fear not" is an instruction that requires the victim of fear to act, whereas "no fear" is a Statement declaring that God has already acted on the victim's behalf.
“I will strengthen you” not, “strengthen yourself in Me”. “Moreover, I will help you” not, “Help yourself” and finally the affirmation “af” is employed to assure Israel that these things are certain regardless of circumstance, “I will uphold you” and this will be done in the “right hand of My righteousness”. Tzidki from tzedek is used to convey a righteousness that overcomes injustice.
Isa 41:11 Hein Behold, put to shame and humiliated will be those who were furious against you: they will be as nothing; and they that dispute with you will perish.
This is a comfort to Israel and a fierce warning to those in every generation who would dispute with and hate the Jewish people (Israel, ethnic, religious).
“Hein” means “Pay attention!” Those who are furious against Israel will be both shamed and humiliated. Put to shame before all nations and further humiliated in their shameful state.
Isa 41:12 You will seek them, and not find those that contended with you: they that war against you will be as nothing, and as a thing of ceasing.
This is a further promise to Israel and a yet another warning to her enemies. God has placed His Name upon Israel and will utterly wipe out those nations that come against her. So much so that those who have warred against her will disappear, they will cease to be. This is an encouragement to suffering Israel while also being a firm warning to her enemies both national and individual. Many Empires who have oppressed Israel have risen and fallen throughout history but Israel has remained because God has placed is Name on her, her very identity is in Him.
Isa 41:13 For I HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Eloheycha your God (Judge) will strengthen your right hand, saying to you, “Al-tiyra No fear; I will help you!”
Mercy Himself the God and Judge of Israel will strengthen her and perpetually remind her that He is removing all fear from her. Mercy is Israel’s helper and guardian, she need want for no other.
Isa 41:14 Al-tiyra No fear, you tola’at scarlet string (worm) Yaakov (follower: Jacob), and you men of Yisrael (Yisra-overcome in El – God: Israel); I will help you, says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), and your Redeemer, the kedush Holy One of Yisrael (Israel).
For the third time “No fear” is proclaimed over Israel. Twice denotes an established truth and three times an immutable reality.
The anti-Semitic translation of the New English Bible “Fear not, Jacob you worm and Israel you poor louse” both misunderstands the Hebrew tola’at in a negative sense and adds “louse” insinuating that Israel is retched and worthless. In fact the Hebrew tola’at is employed here as a term of endearment and conveys the crimson symbolism of redemption through blood. The Hebrew literally means “Scarlet worm/string”. One can interpret the remez “No fear because I have covered you with blood little worm my follower, persons of Israel who overcome in Me (El).”
“I will help you says Mercy! Your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” The Hebrew “goel” meaning redeemer is used of a kinsman (A blood relation) who pays off a debt in order to redeem an impoverished or bonded relative. Thus, Hashem identifies Israel as more than a servant- follower, He sees her as a family member, born of Him, and in a sense intrinsically connected to Him. Quite literally the Messiah Yeshua (God with us) is a blood born Jew and the ultimate human kinsman redeemer of Israel.
Isa 41:15 Hineih Now, behold, I will make you a chadash new, sharp threshing sledge, ba’al a master (Husband) piyfiyot having teeth: you will thresh the mountains, and crush the hills making them as chaff. Isa 41:16 You will fan them, and the wind will carry them away, and the whirlwind will scatter them: and you will rejoice in HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), and in the Holy One of Yisrael (Israel) tithalal you will praise, shine on.
“Pay attention!” Once again Israel is called to stop in her tracks and listen carefully. Not only will Hashem redeem Israel from bondage, He will also make her an instrument of judgement against the idolatrous nations. Israel will become a ba’al (master) that brings judgement and threshing to the crop of peoples among the nations, testing the pride of the lofty ones (mountains) and crushing the lesser rulers of iniquity (hills) discarding the wicked as chaff. This will come about both through Israel as a nation and through the Messiah Who will issue forth from her. After all, “Salvation (Himself) is from the Jews (plural)” (John 4:22). Thus, the prophet Isaiah looks forward to Israel’s spiritual redemption and her physical victory over the enemies of God.
Isa 41:17 When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongues are parched with thirst, I HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) will hear them, I the Eloheiy God of Yisrael (Israel) will not forsake them.
This refers to the poor and needy of Israel during the coming exile. Beforehand Hashem is promising to be with Israel in exile and to hear her cries for help and not forsake her.
Isa 41:18 I will open rivers in high places, and mayanot springs in the midst of the valleys: I will asiym make (plural) the wilderness a pool of water, and the tziyah dry eretz land le-motza’ei springs of water. Isa 41:19 I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah acacia tree, and the myrtle, and the shamen olive tree; I will set in the desert the cypress tree, and the pine, and the box tree together:
This is both literal and figurative at the same time. The transformation of nature is intrinsically linked to the spiritual renewal of Israel (41:20 & 55:13). Both those in high places and those in lowly places will receive the living waters that flow forth from Hashem through the coming Messiah. In addition, the land of Israel will be revitalized and the climate transformed when Israel as a nation returns to her God.
Isa 41:20 That they yiru may see, ve’yedeu and know, and consider, ve’yedeu and understand together, that the hand of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has done this, u’kedush and the Holy One of Yisrael (Israel) has bera’ah created it (from bara: creation performed by God alone).
Israel is asked to:
…that the “hand”, the manifest strength of God has already made these things complete outside of time and space and secured them in a future time within time and space.
For the second time in this chapter Hashem refers to Himself as the Holy One of Israel and reveals His continued creative power in the past tense while referring to the future within time and space. The Hebrew bera’ah “created” is from bara and refers to the creative acts performed by God alone from the beginning.
Isa 41:21 “Karevu Present your cause,” says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy); “bring forth your argument,” says the Melekh King of Yaakov (Jacob).
Having consoled Israel Adonai now returns to His dispute with the idolatrous nations (begun in verses 1-4). Now the dispute is with the idols of those nations.
Notice that Hashem quite literally takes sides. He Names Himself “King of Jacob”. Many in the modern Christian Church foolishly assume that God is neutral in political conflict. This is clearly not the case when political conflict coincides with spiritual conflict. Or why did Yeshua say, “The children’s food should not be given to their dogs”? The singular text quoted in defence of pacifist Christian neutrality is the account of the Angel of Hashem speaking to Joshua saying, “I am neither for you or for your enemies, but as the commander of the host of Hashem I have now come.” (Joshua 5:14) They neglect of course the numerous other passages that state God’s explicit siding with and or fighting for Israel (Gen. 12:3; Deut. 1:30; 31:6; Zech. 2:8; Isa. 31:4, 41:11-12, 54:17; Psalm. 138:7; Ezekiel 38-39; Jerimiah 1:19 etc).
Isa 41:22 Approach and make known to us what will happen: let them show what the former things consisted of, that we may consider them, and know the latter goal of them; or declare to us ha-ba’ot the things to come.
God challenges the deaf, dumb and blind gods of the nations’ essentially saying, “If the gods of the Goyim are really gods, let them accurately foretell the future, let them explain the creation of the world, let them reveal the goal of creation and declare the events of the latter days.”
Isa 41:23 Make known the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you (plural) are elohiym gods, judges: indeed, do good, and do evil, that we may be dismayed, and see it yachdav together.
Again, “If you are gods, do something, anything, be it good or evil. But you cannot, because you are simply deaf, dumb and mute idols constructed by the hands that worship you.”
Isa 41:24 Hein Behold, you (plural) are of nothing, and your work worthless: an abomination chooses you.
“So now, listen up you non gods, you are nothing, your work is nil and those who worship you are self-deluded and abominable.”
Isa 41:25 I have raised up one from the north, and he shall come: from the rising of the sun will he call upon vish-mi My name: and he will come upon princes as upon cement, and as the potter treads clay.
Once again it is God, Sovereign over human history Who orders kings to arise and causes their downfall. It is God Who raises up Cyrus for His purposes.
“I have raised up one from the north” Both 41:2 and 41:25 were fulfilled by Cyrus who was a Persian belonging to the clan of Achaemenes, the head of the tribe. According to the majority of ancient accounts, he was connected with the royal house of Media. After Astyages was dethroned, he became head and chief of the Medes as well as of the Persians. Media was to the north (Isa. 41:25) of Babylonia, and Persia to the east (Isa. 41:2) so that his victorious march had for its starting-point both the east and the north.
“He will call on My Name” alludes to the edict of Cyrus made in Ezra 1:2:
“Thus, says King Cyrus of Persia: ‘Hashem (YHVH), the Elohim God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build a House for Him in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.’”
Isa 41:26 Who has declared from the beginning, that we may know? U’milefaniym and before the faces (presence), that we may say, “He is righteous?” Indeed, there is none that declares, indeed, there is none that listens, indeed, there is none that hears (obeys) imreichem your speeches.
The prophet Isaiah makes clear the fact that these predictions are being made long before the events they foretell, making the foolish assertion that the latter sections of Isaiah are post exilic, untenable.
The question is rhetorical and the answer is immutable, “There is none like Hashem”.
Isa 41:27 Rishon First letziyon to Zion (parched land), Hineih Behold, Hineih behold ve’lirushalayim and to Jerusalem (Flood of peace) good news I will give them.
It is Hashem Who is the first Zionist. First to give Zion to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: First to choose her for a people: First to reveal to her the good news of His redemptive purpose for humanity. Thus, “Now, behold, listen up!” The good news promised may be seen at a number of points in Israel’s historical timeline, and is certainly a reference to Isaiah, who has brought news of Israel’s redemption long before her exile to Babylon (Isa. 11:10-16; 21:1-10; 35:10). However, it also refers to Hashem’s redemptive purposes for Israel and all humanity, fulfilled in the King Messiah Yeshua and His atoning sacrificial work. Therefore, “Jacob you scarlet string (worm).”
Isa 41:28 And seeing no man among them, and no counsellor, that, when I asked of them, could answer a word.
Once again, there is not one among all humanity who could debate the fact that the God of Israel is Omniscient, Omnipotent, Immutable, Faithful etc. He alone gives true counsel, He alone can answer.
Isa 41:29 Hein Behold, kulam all are trouble; their works are worthless: ruach a wind, breath ve’tohu and confusion, formlessness are their molten images.
Finally and again, “Now, listen up!” All human beings have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The idols of the nations, who are non-gods, are none the less the abode of demons who seek to perpetuate the tohu confusion and formlessness of the Satanic agenda. In this case they are a deluding and passing wind that will come to nothing.
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
Isaiah 40: Comfort My People
When we fail to wait on the Lord, we're like children charging lions: finding ourselves bloodied we begin to doubt God.
Following the prediction of the Babylonian captivity prophesied in the previous chapter, the prophet speaks as from the mouth of God, a message of comfort and relief to the people of Israel (ethnic, religious). This chapter of Isaiah emphasises the omnipotence and omniscience of God and His attributes of mercy and judgement. While its principles may be applied to every believer it is none the less written specifically and always firstly to the ethnic religious chosen people Israel (Jews). Any attempt to make it retrospectively symbolic of the Church is ludicrous. The theme of this chapter is comfort born of the Comforter, it begins, continues and concludes as a message of comfort for Israel (ethnic, religious).
Isa 40:1 You, Nachamu Comfort, console, turn toward, suffer with, grieve with, offer relief to: you, nachamu comfort, console, turn toward, suffer with, grieve with, offer relief to ami My people, yomar says (continues to say) Eloheichem your God (Judge).
The opening verse is the premise for the 30 remaining verses. HaShem has neither forgotten nor rejected His people Israel (ethnic, religious). The Lord (YHVH) God (Elohim, Judge) is seen throughout this section of Isaiah’s work as the Omnipotent, Omnipresent Comforter of Israel. Both YHVH and Elohim are employed eight times in chapter 40, giving a sense of new birth from that which has already been made complete outside of time and space. The Comforter speaks in Mercy (YHVH) and Judgement (Elohim), His mercy is shown to Israel and His judgement is revealed against the nations.
The Hebrew “Nachamu” is an admonition to Israel’s prophets, in particular in this context, to Yeshayahu (Isaiah), to constantly and perpetually remind Israel that Hashem is always ready to offer comfort to His chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical). The Targum reads “O you prophets, prophesy comforts to My people…” While the Septuagint (Greek OT) refers to “Priests”. Both alternatives have strong implications for all who believe, first and always among the Jews and also for the nations.
The Hebrew “Nacham” carries a great wealth of meaning. It includes, but is not limited to: comfort, grief, turning, repentance, suffering, consolation etc. In a literal sense it is born of a primitive root meaning to sigh or breathe heavily, thus, relief is also inferred.
The Jewish commentator Kimchi observes that the comfort alluded to will be made manifest in the times of the Messiah. This is consistent with one of the rabbinical names for the Messiah “Menachim” (Comforter), a title Yeshua applies to Himself by implication when He says, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever;” (John 14:16). “Another Comforter” infers that the disciples had been in the presence of the Comforter Yeshua and will receive another Comforter when Yeshua ascends to the right hand of the Father. Thus, Yeshua refers to two Comforters: The Messiah Menachim (Himself) and the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit). With this in mind we see one of the reasons for the repetition of the Hebrew “Nachamu” at the beginning of this chapter. God is sending two Comforters and is affirming the immutable nature of His comfort toward Israel (ethnic, religious).
We note that in spite of Israel’s disobedience HaShem continues to call her “My people”
Isa 40:2 You Daberu speak to, convey essence, words, things upon lev the heart, core being of Yerushalayim (Yeru-flood shalayim-Peace, wholeness: Jerusalem), and cry out to her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her avonah perversity is pardoned: for she has received from the hand of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) double for all her sinful missing the mark.
“Speak and continue to speak kindly to Jerusalem.” The words of kindness come forth from the Davar Word, and are spoken through the prophet to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, which Iben Ezra interprets to be the congregation of Israel, though it is probably spoken specifically to the tribe of Judah, in her role as the Kingly tribe. It is most certainly not meant to be understood of the Church as some retrospectively dishonest Christian commentators claim.
These words of kindness are spoken to the lev, the very core of the peoples’ existence and identity, at the heart of the city which is named for a flood of peace (Jerusalem). Thus, comfort, comfort (v.1) kindness, and a flood of peace (v.2).
“Her warfare is accomplished” or as the Targum Yonatan puts it “her captivity by the people (nations) is filled up.”
Iben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melekh read, "her set or appointed time", by comparing the present text with the Hebrew text of Job 7:1. It is understood to refer either to the time of deliverance from captivity or of the age of the Messiah's coming.
“Her perversity is pardoned” bears no mention of Jerusalem’s repentance or atoning worship but alludes to the pardon born of God’s grace through His provision of substitutionary sacrifice (Messiah).
“She has received of the Lord’s hand…” Meaning she has received her just punishment.
“Double for all her missing the mark.” This does not mean that she received twice the fair punishment for a single act, to the contrary, Israel received double because her sins were double, and ongoing. God is just, He does not punish inequitably.
Note that the double received for her sin is mitigated by the double comfort that is offered to her at the beginning of the chapter. Thus, once again, mercy precedes judgement.
Isa 40:3 Kol A voice crying out bamid’bar (ba-in mi-from dabar-the word, essence) in the wilderness, “Prepare you derek a way of (for) Hashem (YHVH: Mercy), make straight ba-aravah in the desert (In the evening: from erev) mesillah a highway (exalted, lifted up) leiloheiynu to (for) our God (Judge).”
“A voice crying out…” Yarchi interprets the voice of the Holy Spirit, and the writers of the Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) quote Yochanan (John) saying, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, according to what the prophet Isaiah said.”(John 1:23). Both are true: Yochanan the Immerser spoke by the Holy Spirit.
“For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.’”
-Mattitiyahu (Matthew) 3:3
“In the desert (wilderness).” Specifically in the desert of Judea (Matt. 3:1).
We note that the contraction “Bamidbar”, translated as “In the desert”, is made up of the three Hebrew words “Ba” (in the), “Mi” (from the), and “Davar” (essence, word, thing). Thus, we can also read “A voice crying out in and from the Word (Essence)”: the Word being Messiah Yeshua (Yochanan [John] 1).
“In the past, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers through the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us through His Son, Whom He appointed the heir of all things, through Whom also He created the world.” -Hebrews 1:1-2
“Prepare you a way of HaShem, make straight in the desert a lifted up path to our God.” Notice the preparation is made both “for” and “of” HaShem, “for” and “to” our God. The way in the desert is of Hashem and the lifted up path is to Him. It is also made for Him (as King Messiah). Therefore, the ambiguity of the Hebrew determiners allows for us to understand that the way is both from God and for Yeshua (God with us).
Therefore, by identifying Yochanan the Immerser as “A voice crying out”, the Gospel writers point to The Lord Who has come to lead Israel into everlasting freedom. That Lord being Imanu (with us) El (God), Yeshua the King Messiah.
The figurative language also connects us to the historical journey of Israel’s escape from Egyptian captivity, when she was led by God in cloud and flame through the desert toward the promised land (Ha-Aretz). Thus, this prophecy points to a future redemption that will involve God Himself leading Israel from bondage to freedom.
The contraction “Ba-aravah” in the desert is from the root erev and hints at these events occurring in the evening of Israel’s historical journey, that is the latter days (as seen from Isaiah’s perspective in the seventh century BCE).
Isa 40:4 Ve’col and every valley yinase will be exalted, lifted up ve’col and every mountain and hill yishpalu will be made low, sink, be humbled: ve’hayah and it has come to pass that the crooked will lemishor be made straight, upright, level, ve’harechasim and the rough, impassable places of binding le’vikah made a plain (wide level valley):
The picture language of verse 4 conveys a central truth of God’s redemptive work. That which is lowly (valley) will be exalted (lifted up) and that which is deceitful (crocked) will be brought into the light (made straight). The contrite and humble heart will receive mercy, while the prideful and self-exalting person will be humbled.
“The rough impassable places of bondage will be made plain,” (a way will be opened up). The latter clause of verse 4 relates back to the imagery of Israel being freed from bondage and led through the impassable Red Sea into a plain road to the promised land. Likewise, God Himself will come to Israel to deliver her from spiritual bondage and through His self-sacrifice, He will make the impassable passable.
Isa 40:5 Ve’niglah And revealed, uncovered will be kevod the glory of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy), and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) dibeir speaks (conveys essence, thing).
All the works of God reveal His glory, however, this verse refers to a time when the glory of God will be uncovered and revealed, not only to the Jews but to all flesh. This happened in part at the first coming of the Messiah Yeshua, and will be made complete at His return.
The prophet emphasizes the certainty of the future fulfilment of these words with the phrase “The mouth of HaShem speaks!”
Isa 40:6 Kol A voice said, “Cry out.” And He said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, and its goodness as the flower of the field:”
It appears that a voice from God cries out for a second time to the prophet Isaiah and he answers “What shall I cry (proclaim)?” The proclamation is against the temporary fallen nature of humanity and begins by comparing humanity to the plants of the field that grow and die off according to the seasons, soil and climate conditions.
Isa 40:7 The grass withers, the flower fades: because ruach a spirit of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) blows upon it: surely ha-am the people is grass.
While the Hebrew “Am” can refer to all people, it is qualified here by the determiner “Ha”: thus, “Ha-am” refers specifically to the people of Israel, who are also the subject of the double comfort offered in verse 1. While the principles present can be applied to all believers, they are first and always specifically (contextually) spoken to the people of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical).
Isa 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades: ve’devar and the word (essence) of Eloheiynu our God (Judge) will yakum stand (arise) le’olam for ever (to worlds perpetual).
Quite simply, Sinful humanity withers and fades, and the Word (Messiah) of our Judge will arise to condemn or reward forever. If the grass that withers, withers in the Word, it will by the nature of the Word within it, remain. This is why Yeshua says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die…” (John 11:25-26).
Isa 40:9 All of you, go up to the high mountain; you who bring good news, Tziyon (Zion: Parched land) lift up with strength your voice; you who bring good news to Yerushalayim (Jerusalem: Yeru-flood of Shalayim-Peace) rise up, be not afraid; say to the cities of Yehudah (Praise: Judah), “Hineih Look, now, behold Eloheiychem your God (Judge)!”
“All of you” refers to Israel (ethnic, religious).
“The high mountain” is Mt Zion, the Temple mount, Mt Moriah, in Jerusalem.
“You who bring good news” must refer to those in Israel who receive the Lord and His redemptive act, and carry it first and perpetually to their own people and subsequently to the nations. This is an allusion to Israel’s calling to be “A light to the nations” (Isaiah 49:6). This refers to Israel being those who have received the Torah and through the Torah, the goal of the Torah, the King Messiah Yeshua (Romans 10:4). Where are they to carry this message? To the high mountain of Zion where God has placed His Name. It is with the strength of God through His Spirit that they are to lift up their voices to proclaim the Redeemer of Israel. They bring this good news to the city where peace will be poured out (Jerusalem).
“Say to the cities of Judah…”
“For the law will go forth from Zion, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” -Isaiah 2:1
From Zion and Jerusalem the good news is to be proclaimed to all the cities of Judah and subsequently to all Israel and all nations.
“Look, now, behold Your God!” Look, God is with us (Immanuel).
Isa 40:10 Hineih Look, now, behold, the Adonai (Lord) Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) be’chazak in strength will come, and His arm will rule for Him: Hineih Look, now, behold, His reward, wages are with Him, and His work before Him.
Hineih means “Pay attention!” The Lord YHVH is coming in strength, pay attention, His reward is with Him. He is bringing the rightful wages of the righteous with Him and the work of forgiveness, redemption, and right action is before Him. These are words of encouragement to those made righteous through the straightway of Messiah.
Isa 40:11 He will feed His flock like a shepherd: He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them enclosing them in His bosom, and those with young He will gently lead.
HaShem is first spoken of in fierce strength, as Ruler, coming with just reward and work (v.10). Now He is seen as the Shepherd, gathering His lambs in that same mighty arm, carrying them and drawing them to His breast like a doting father, and leading the developing young ones gently onward.
We are reminded of Psalm 23, and of the Good Shepherd of John 10:11.
Isa 40:12 Who has measured the mayim waters in the hollow of His hand, and estimated the span of shamayim the heavens, and comprehended ba-shalish in (musical instrument, a third) volume the dust of the earth, and weighed the mountains and hills in scales?
HaShem is omnipotent (all powerful).
This series of rhetorical questions set HaShem apart as unique, omnipotent, omniscient, incomparable, and Ruler over all of creation. God alone is capable of these things.
There is a sense in the Hebrew ba-shalish of a Divine and triune comprehension of a music that holds all things together. This music essence also falls under the greater meaning of Ha-Davar (The Word), Yeshua.
Isa 40:13 Who has directed et Ruach the Spirit of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy), or which man by giving advice has taught Him? Isa 40:14 With whom has He taken counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of judgment, and taught Him knowledge, and showed to Him the way of understanding?
HaShem is omniscient (all knowing). None can introduce Him to counsel or knowledge because He is the source and Ruler of all knowledge.
Isa 40:15 Hein Behold, Goyim nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the scales: Hein behold, the small islands He bears up.
Israel had undergone attack after attack from seemingly unbeatable foreign powers. Jerusalem was always under threat from both waning and rising Empires. It is fair to say that Israel was weary and afraid of the potential for other nations to destroy her. It is to this that God speaks. He imparts to Israel His view of things. “These nations that you’re so afraid of are nothing to Me, they barely touch the scales, they weigh next to nothing at all.”
Note that it is great nations that God calls the “small dust of the scales” whereas the small Islands he “bears up”. This is yet another allusion to the Gospel and the use of weak things to shame the strong (proud ones) of this sin affected world.
Isa 40:16 And Levanon (witness) is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts there sufficient for a burnt offering.
“The trees of Lebanon”, as the Targum Yonatan says, are not sufficient to burn on the altar, nor does she have any animals without blemish for a sacrifice suitable to honour the Torah requirements. Thus, Lebanon in the north is left without the means for making atonement according to the requirements of Torah.
Isa 40:17 Col All ha-Goyim the nations are ke’ayin nothing, before Him; and they are counted to Him less than nothing, ve’tohu and formless, empty, confused.
The Hebrew “tohu” links the state of the nations to the formless state of the earth in the beginning (Genesis 1:2). The nations are formless and confused as a result of their idolatry. God is bringing into view a new creation.
Isa 40:18 To whom then will you liken El God (The Judge)? or what likeness will you compare to Him?
Nothing and no one in all creation can compare to YHVH the God of Israel.
Isa 40:19 The workman melts a graven image, and the goldsmith beats out gold over it, and casts silver chains.
The idolatry of the nations is exposed for the farce that it is. Human beings worshipping the work of their own hands.
Isa 40:20 Hamesukan The self-harmer’s terumah offering is a tree not rotting; he chooses a skilful craftsman seeking him to prepare a pesel graven image (idol), not to be moved.
Note that the Hebrew “Ha-me’sukan” from the root “sakan” literally means “self-endangerment. This is a description of an idolater from among the nations. Simply put, idolatry is self-harm.
Isa 40:21 Have you not known? have you not heard? has it not been told to you merosh from the beginning (head)? Have you not understood from the foundations of Ha-Aretz the land (the earth)?
This can be understood to refer specifically to the understanding gained when Israel entered the land (Ha-Aretz). Meaning “Haven’t you seen how I brought you into the land as I promised?”
Alternatively it could be a more general admonition challenging the people in a similar way to that of Romans 1:18-21.
“18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. In unrighteousness they suppress the truth, 19 because what can be known about God is plain to them—for God has shown it to them. 20 His invisible attributes—His eternal power and His divine nature—have been clearly seen ever since the creation of the world, being understood through the things that have been made.[a] So people are without excuse-- 21 for even though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. Instead, their thinking became futile, and their senseless hearts were made dark.” -Romans 1:18-21 TLV
Isa 40:22 He sits upon the circle of Ha-Aretz the land (earth), and the inhabitants there are like grasshoppers; that stretches out the heavens as a curtain, and spreads them out ca-ohel as a tent lashavet to dwell in:
This is a poetic way of conveying the fact that God is El-elyon (God above gods), and that comparatively speaking human beings are like grasshoppers viewed from the outer atmosphere. God is great and we are miniscule (But loved by God).
Isa 40:23 That brings the rulers to nothing; He makes the judges of Ha-Aretz the land (earth) to become ca-tohu emptiness, formless, confused.
The judges/rulers of the land of Israel who have mislead the people are made formless, confused, incapable.
Isa 40:24 Scarcely are they planted; yes, scarcely are they sown: yes, before they can take root in the land (earth): when He blows upon them, and they wither, and the whirlwind will take them away as stubble.
The same judges/rulers of Israel spoken of in the previous verse scarcely gain power and are removed.
Isa 40:25 To whom then will you liken Me, or will I be like? says Kadosh the Holy One.
Once again, there is none like YHVH the God of Israel.
Isa 40:26 Lift up on high your eyes, and behold who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number: He calls them all by name by the meirov multiplication of oniym His generative power, for He is strong in vigour; iysh a man lo not nedar failing.
This rhetorical question alludes to God as Creator, Master, and as a continued Participant in His creation.
Isa 40:27 Why do you say, O Yaakov (Follower, Jacob), and speak, O Yisrael (Overcome in God, Israel), “My way is hidden from Hashem (YHVH: Mercy), umei’eolohay and from my God (Judge), my judgment is alienated?
This complaint of Israel is made either under the oppression of a foreign army or from exile. It is a disillusioned cry of abandonment.
Isa 40:28 Have you not known? have you not heard, Eloheiy God (Judge) olam eternal, Hashem (YHVH: Mercy), the Creator of the ends of Ha-aretz the land (earth), doesn’t pass out, neither is He weary? His understanding is beyond searching.
HaShem reminds Israel that He is omnipotent. That He never grows weary. Why does He remind her of this? It is because He is always working out the redemption of His chosen people. He is reminding her that He has loved and chosen her and is always able to deliver her.
Isa 40:29 He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases strength.
Once again HaShem empowers the faint and strengthens the weak. Perpetually offering twofold comfort to His children.
Isa 40:30 Even the youths will pass out and be weary, and the young men will utterly fall:
All will eventually tire regardless of youthfulness or physical prowess.
Isa 40:31 But they that wait upon Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) will renew their strength; they will ya’alu ascend with wings like eagles; they will run, and not grow weary; they will walk, and not pass out.
We note that it is those who wait on YHVH (Mercy) that receive renewed strength. This is an admonition against striving. Where the idolaters of the nations worked to create deity and connect with it through vain delusion, the servant of Hashem is challenged to simply wait on Him.
God does not say “Those who recite prayers constantly will renew their strength”, nor does he say “Those who keep my commandments will renew their strength”. To the contrary, the strength of God is received and not earned.
When we fail to wait on the Lord, we're like children charging lions: finding ourselves
bloodied we begin to doubt God.
By waiting on the Lord the servant of HaShem receives renewed strength which in turn produces the fruit of a resurrected life. The actions born of waiting on God are of an everlasting nature: running without growing weary, walking in the mid-day sun without growing faint.
Therefore, acting with eternal stamina is the result of waiting on God and not the other way round.
“The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.” (Exodus 14:14)
“Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Yeshua answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.’” (John 6:28-29)
The voice crying in the wilderness (Isaiah 4:3; John 1:23; Matt. 3:3) proclaims the “One Whom God will send”, thus, waiting on Messiah’s coming is evidence of belief in the One Who is to come. Therefore, waiting is an act of faith that receives the strength to act.
Comfort immutable is offered, that we might learn to wait on the Lord and not grow weary.
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
Messiah is the Author and the Goal of the Torah.
Simchat Torah is a celebration of the Torah (Instruction [Five books of Moses]). It occurs at the convergence point where the yearly Torah cycle both reaches its goal and with unbroken continuity, begins again.
The service begins with the regular Torah liturgy followed by the aliyah (Going up) of the Chatan Torah (Groom of the Torah). This person is selected for the privilege of reading the last portion (Parashat V’zot Ha-Berachah D’varim [words]/Deut. 33:1-34:12) of the Torah (Instruction) for the end of the yearly Torah cycle.
At the completion of the reading of the last Torah portion, “Parashat V’zot Ha-Berachah” (And this is the Blessing), the following is shouted by the community:
“Chazak! Chazak! V’nitchazeik”
[Be strong! Be strong! And may we be strengthened]
The Torah scroll is then rolled out and back to the beginning, and the Chatan Bereishit (Groom of the beginning) reads the first portion of the Torah (Bereishit Genesis 1:1-6:8) to begin the next yearly Torah cycle. This Torah portion is named, “Bereishit” (Beginning).
Messiah Yeshua, the Author and Goal of the Torah
Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) is the Chatan Torah [Groom of the Torah] (He is the Author and the essence [D’var] of the Torah and fills the Torah with purpose, making the Word [D’var] of God echad [Complex unity]). Yeshua is also the goal of the Torah (Romans 10:4), and the Chatan Bereishit [Groom of the Beginning] (John 1:1); within time and space, He is the Alpha and Omega, eternal, the Aleph and Tav, the beginning and the goal, and at the same time, He is without beginning or end because He transcends time and space, having existed before the beginning and continuing to exist beyond the conclusion of time and space.
Yeshua is the perfect Jew, having faultlessly kept the Torah. He is the only Jew ever to have achieved this. He is also God with us, “Immanuel” according to the prophet (Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 7:14). Contrary to the misteaching of some of the fathers of the Christian faith, Yeshua did not end the Torah in the sense that an end is the finish or conclusion of a matter, rather Yeshua is the end in the sense that He is the goal of the Torah (“End” is used in the same sense as its usage in the saying, “a means to an end [goal]). In fact, as I have already stated, Yeshua is both the Author and the Goal (End) of the Torah.
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Torah (Instruction) or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fill.”
Yochanan/John 1:1-5, 14
“In the beginning was the Word (HB. D’var, GK. Logos, AR. Memra), and the Word was with Elohim (God), and the Word was Elohim (God). He was in the beginning with Elohim (God). All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot comprehend or overcome it… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt (In the Sukkah of human form, housing the glory of the Father, as was the role of the Mishkhan in the desert) among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
For the celebration of the combined holiday of Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, it is traditional to throw candy and make honeyed foods for the children to remind them that God’s word is sweet like honey from the honey cone (Tehilim/Psalm 119:102-103).
What the Bible says about The Word
“I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, for You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words (emrah: from emer, answers) to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
“For the word (HB. D’var, GK. Logos, AR. Memra) of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of nefesh (soul) and ruach (spirit), of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the lev (inner being, heart).”
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your Word (D’var). With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word (emrah: from emer, answers) I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.”
“Your Word (D’var) is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
“But He (Yeshua) answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD (HB. kol motza: everything that goes forth GK. Rhema: utterance, speech) THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD [Deut. 8:3]’”
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,