The word “shema” is both a request and a challenge. Listen, but don’t just listen, hear. Hear, but don’t just hear, obey. Obey, but don’t just obey, walk in obedience.
Amos 3 (Author’s translation)
1 Listen, hear, comprehend, obey this particular Word, essence, substance this which YHVH (Mercy) the Lord has spoken upon you, children of Israel, upon the entire family which I brought up from the land of Egypt: 2 “Only you I know from all families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your depravity.” 3 How can two people walk in unity except if they are in agreement? 4 Will a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey? Will a young lion employ his voice from his den except if he has caught something? 5 Will a bird fall into a snare on the ground if there is no bait in it? Will a trap rise up from the earth, and seize nothing at all? 6 If a rams horn is blown in a city, will the people not quake with terror? If an evil, distressful disaster occurs in a city, has YHVH (Mercy) the Lord not fashioned it? 7 Adonay YHVH (Mercy) the Lord God does not speak a word unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. 8 A lion has roared! Who will not fear? Adonay YHVH (Mercy) The Lord God has spoken! Who can stop himself from prophesying? 9 Proclaim on the palaces in Ashdod and on the citadels in the land of Egypt and say, “Gather on the mountains of Samaria and see the great turmoil within her and the oppressions in her midst. 10 And they don’t know how to fashion what is straight,” utters YHVH (Mercy) the Lord, “these storers of violence and havoc in their palaces.” 11 Therefore, this is what Adonay YHVH the Lord God says: “An adversary, will circle the land, and take down your might from you, and plunder your citadels.” 12 This is what YHVH (Mercy) the Lord says: “Like when the shepherd snatches from the mouth of the lion two legs or a piece of an ear, so will the children of Israel be snatched away who dwell in Samaria — in a corner of a bed, and in Damascus from a couch! 13 Listen, hear, comprehend, obey and bear witness in the house of Jacob,” utters Adonay YHVH (Mercy) the Lord God, Eloheiy the God Who goes warring.14 “For in the day that I number Israel’s rebellions, I will also number upon the altars of Bethel; and cut off the horns of the altar, and they will fall to the ground. 15 And I will slay the harvest house upon the summer house; the houses of ivory will also perish, and the great houses will come to an end,” utters YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
Amos 3 (Line Upon Line)
1 Shimu Listen, hear, comprehend, obey et-hadavar this particular Word, essence, substance hazeh this asher which diber YHVH (Mercy) the Lord has spoken aleiychem upon you, b’neiy Yisrael children of Israel, al kol-hamishpachah upon the entire family asher which he’eleiytiy I brought up mei’eretz from the land of Mitzrayim (double distress) Egypt:
1 Listen, hear, comprehend, obey et-ha’davar this particular Word, essence, substance this which YHVH (Mercy) the Lord has spoken upon you, children of Yisrael (overcome in God), upon the entire family which I brought up from the land of Egypt (Mitzrayim: double distress):
“Shimu Listen, hear, comprehend, obey et-hadavar this particular Word, essence, substance”
The opening word “Shimu” (Shema) is well known among the people of Israel. The central prayer of the faith of the Jewish people, which is found in D’varim (Words) Deut. 6:4 begins “Shema Yisrael”, (Listen, hear, comprehend, obey Israel…). The word “shema (shimu)” is both a request and a challenge. Listen, but don’t just listen, hear. Hear, but don’t just hear, obey. Obey, but don’t just obey, walk in obedience. This is a call not only to repentance but to discipleship. It is the very essence of the Good News of our King Messiah.
What follows is the phrase “et-ha’davar”, meaning, “this particular Word, Substance, Essence”. The “et” and “ha” are both determiners, the “ha” being the definite article in Hebrew and the “et” emphasising the “ha”. Thus, in one sense the Hebrew translates as, “Very definitely, The Word”. Put concisely, this is not just any word but the Word (logos: Yeshua [John 1]).
The prophet Amos upon whose tongue God has placed these words is aware that the Word Who places the words, is present. Amos is asking Israel to receive not only the words but also the One Who both births and inhabits them. Imanu-El, With Us God, the King Messiah is manifest in the words of Amos.
“this which YHVH (Mercy) the Lord has spoken upon you, b’neiy Yisrael”
It’s a mistake to translate “aleiychem” as “against you [pl.]”. A translation employed by a number of English versions of the text.
Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of Hebrew knows that this common contraction of “al” (upon) and “l’chem” (to you [pl.]) means “upon you”. This is why we respond to the colloquial phrase “Shalom aleiychem” with the words “Aleiychem shalom”. “Peace be upon you”, and the response “Upon you be peace”.
The common English translation “against” misunderstands the Biblical Hebrew worldview. In the same way that Amos carries the burden of God’s Word upon himself, the people of Israel carry the weight of the Word of God’s rebuke upon themselves. God’s Word is not “against” Israel but “upon” her. It is not punitive but instructional. The weight of God’s rebuke is heavy only so long as Israel remains unrepentant. Through repentance that which was heavy becomes light. This is one of the reasons Yeshua says:
“Come to me, all you that labour and are heavy with burden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am gentle and lowly (close to the earth) in heart (core being): and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” -Mattitiyahu (Matthew) 11:28-30 (Author’s translation)
Given that like the prophet’s name Amos (burden), the word he carries is made a burden upon the children of Israel. We should remember that Amos himself is an Israelite of the tribe of Judah. Thus the prophet identifies with the people. He doesn’t see himself as separated from the people in relationship to his ethnic and religious identity, rather he is distinct from those who are walking in disobedience to God’s instructions.
“upon the entire family which I brought up from the land of Mitzrayim (double distress) Egypt:”
This word is clearly indicated as being for all the tribes of Israel including Judah and Benjamin. In the context of Amos when Israel is used of the northern tribes alone a distinction is made by the lack of qualifying terms. Here, Israel is qualified as “the entire family which I brought from the land of Egypt”.
2 “Rak Only etchem you yada’tiy I know mikol from all mishpechot families ha’adamah of the earth, soil, dirt; al-kein therefore efkod I will punish aleichem you eit kol-avonoteiycham for all your depravity.”
2 “Only you I know from all families of ha-adamah the earth (the substance from which humanity is created in union with the breathe of God [neshamah]); therefore I will punish you for all your depravity (avon).”
These are the words of a devoted husband who has eyes only for the wife of his youth. They’re spoken to a wife who has nonetheless slept around on him and welcomed his affection only so far as it serves her lust filled goals.
We note that the Hebrew specifies that God’s choosing of Israel distinguishes her among all human beings. The phrase “ha-adamah” reflects the creation of humanity from the “adamah” dirt of the earth.
This is an intimate reminder of the fact that God’s relationship with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is a familial relationship between Father and sons. When Jacob went down to Egypt he was 70 in total (Gen. 46:27; Ex. 1:5; Deut. 10:22), a family numbered according to the symbolism of the fullness of the nations (Gen. 10). God is reminding Israel that even before her trial of slavery and bondage He had set her apart to belong to Him. Like a bride preparing for her wedding in this sin affected world, Israel was proved through her trial and matured in her suffering.
3 Hyeikechu shenayim How can two people walk yachdav in unity biktiy except im if noadu they are in agreement?
This question begins a series of rhetorical questions denoting cause and effect. Ultimately the rhetorical question that sums up the series would be, “How is it possible that you have been clearly warned by God of coming destruction (the just response to your sin,) and have been directed as to how you might escape it, and yet have chosen to ignore Him?”
This first rhetorical metaphor alludes to God and His chosen people, two men who are not walking in unity because they do not agree on the foundational doctrines of morality.
This does not teach that believers must agree on everything, rather it teaches that unless two agree on the foundational premise for the way they walk, they cannot walk together. The context does not address agreement between Israelites (though that too is important), but agreement between God and Israel.
Put simply, if two men arrange to meet at a given point in order to begin a journey (walk), but one of the men later decides of his own fruition that he thinks he should meet his friend at another time and place entirely, and doesn’t inform his friend of the changed plans, the two will neither meet nor begin their journey together.
With regard to God and Israel, the two had agreed together at Sinai on the holy standard set by God in order for their right relationship to continue. However, while they began the journey together, at some point Israel decided that she knew better and left the path. By doing so, Israel had put herself in a position equal to that of those who refuse to agree to God’s moral standard in the first place. Thus, at the time of the prophecy of Amos, Israel was not in agreement with the foundational principle of her relationship with God. Therefore, “How can two people walk in unity except if they are in agreement?”
To walk in unity with God is to agree with Him, that we have fallen short of His moral standard and accept His grace enacted in mercy, so that we can once again walk unashamed with our Creator.
4 Hayishag aryeih Will a lion roar baya’ar in the forest veteref eiyn when he has no prey? Hayitein Kefiyr kolo Will a young lion employ his voice mimeonato from his den biltiy except im if lachad he has caught something?
4 Will a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey? Will a young lion employ his voice from his den except if he has caught something?
In this metaphor the Lion is HaShem and the prey is Israel. Israel is living in idolatrous comfort believing that the forest is quiet, but the lion is roaring and roaring means He is on the prowl for prey. The right response would be for the prey to cower and seek refuge (refuge is something that according to His nature, God offers perpetually to Israel). However, Israel has numbed herself to the danger (Jer. 5:6; Nahum 2:11), and at this point in her history is perpetually turning away from God (with the exception of the righteous remnant, inclusive of the prophets).
5 Hatipol tzipor Will a bird al pach fall into a snare on ha’aretz the ground umokeish eiyn lah if there is no bait in it? Haya’aleh-pach Will a trap rise up min ha’adamah from the earth, dirt, ground velachod and seize lo yilkod nothing at all?
5 Will a bird fall into a snare on the ground if there is no bait in it? Will a trap rise up from the earth, and seize nothing at all?
While this is another rhetorical question intended to convey the idea that all the coming destruction is inevitable, it is nonetheless also an allusion to the self-destructive behaviour of Israel. Israel has fallen for the bait of sin and death: the false gods, the sexual depravity and the injustice of the neighbouring nations. The snare indeed has been thrown skyward to catch the bird Israel, who has willingly sought out the lure and has become entangled in the fruit of her own sinful choices.
We note that two different words for earth are used: ha-aretz (the land) and ha-adamah (soil). The metaphor speaks of the bait of sin being present in the violated creation, thus “the land”, while also being particularly associated with “Ha-aretz” the Land of Israel. Alongside this are the very building blocks of humanity, “ha-adamah” (the soil) and the “Neshamah” (life breath of God convergent with the soil). These two hold the sin affected human being to account by way of a just snare.
The trap springs up from the beginning of creation and captures the violator of creation, that person who has refused life and invited sin and death. The redemptive solution is always on offer. The offer of salvation being present before the creation of the worlds (1 Peter 1:19-20; Rev. 13:8).
6 Im yitaka shofar If a rams horn is blown beiyr in a city, ve’am will the people lo yecheradu not quake with terror? Im tihyeh ra’ah If an evil, distress, disaster occurs beiyr in a city, has YHVH (Mercy) the Lord lo asah not fashioned it?
6 If a rams horn is blown in a city, will the people not quake with terror? If an evil, distressful disaster occurs in a city, has YHVH (Mercy) the Lord not fashioned it?
Once again it is not a “trumpet” but the shofar (rams horn) which combines the symbolic meanings of warning and substitutionary sacrifice.
The plain meaning (p’shat) being that people in a war torn area who hear the sound of the rams horn become terrified knowing that their city of residence is on the brink of destruction.
“If an evil, distress, disaster occurs in a city, has YHVH (Mercy) the Lord not fashioned it?”
The rhetorical question has an obvious plain meaning. However, some misinterpret it to their detriment.
The foolish notion that God is not in control of evil is silenced here. God is not guilty of evil, nor is He complicit, rather He created the possibility of evil in order that love might be manifest through freewill. Knowing the end from the beginning God also sacrificed Himself in Messiah before the creation of the worlds, thus providing the solution to the problem of evil before the problem of evil existed (1 Peter 1:19-20; Rev. 13:8).
“But he said unto her, ‘You speak in the same way the foolish women speak. What are you saying? Should we receive good at the hand of God, and not receive evil?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” -Job 2:10 (Author’s translation)
The satanic forces are subject to God. He puts in order all things both good and evil for His divine purposes of holiness and redemption. In God all things exist and have their being, nothing exists outside of God, therefore the forces of evil are reliant on God for their continued existence. If evil comes, God has not only allowed it, He has set it in order for the purpose of good. Because evil relies on God, who is good, for its existence, evil is subject to good. Thus, evil cannot overcome good. “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.” (John 1:5)
Put simply, the rhetorical question is, “Do you seriously believe God is not in control of the evil that happens?”
Consider the alternative, if evil is not under God’s control, who controls it? If Satan controls evil and that control is not subject to God, is Satan outside of God’s control? A curse on that lie! The false idea that there is balance between good and evil is a lie seeded by Satan.
The reality is this: God is all existing, Satan is created, the created thing is subject to the Creator. Therefore, the battle of good and evil is the battle between a Papermaker and a piece of paper. The Papermaker finds that the paper has been defiled with vile words, so He lights a match and the paper is incinerated. The battle between Good and Evil is like a battle between an ocean of universes and a speck of dust beneath a toenail.
7 Kiy lo ya’aseh For Adonay YHVH (Mercy) the Lord God does not davar kiy im galah speak a word unless He reveals sodo His secret el-avadayv to His servants haneviyiym the prophets.
7 Adonay YHVH (Mercy) the Lord God does not speak a word unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
This verse qualifies the former verse by explaining that God has both ordered and given warning regarding the destruction (evil) that is to come. He has not quietly arranged the destruction of the people in response to their sin. He has instead given them every opportunity to repent. This has always been his modus operandi with regard to Israel and humanity as a whole. The prophets are like emergency workers sent to give news of the approaching disaster and direct people to shelter (repentance, reconciliation). Fools who disregard the warning of the emergency workers will always reap what they have sown.
“The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him; and He will show them his covenant.” -Psalms 25:14 (Author’s translation)
8 Aryeih sha’ag A lion has roared! Miy lo era Who will not fear? Adonay YHVH (Mercy) The Lord God diber has spoken! Miy lo yinava Who could stop himself from prophesying?
8 A lion has roared! Who will not fear? Adonay YHVH (Mercy) The Lord God has spoken! Who can stop himself from prophesying?
The Lion, God Himself has roared fair warning. The prophet Amos is incredulous, the rhetorical question sour on his tongue. By the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) it’s as if Amos were saying:
“I can’t help but prophecy this warning to you because of my devotion to God and the realisation that I need to repent and rely on God’s grace and the manifestation of His mercy. How is it that you [pl.] are not terrified of God? How is it that you are not repenting and prophesying warning to others?”
9 Hashmiyu Proclaim al on armenot the palaces be’ashdod in Ashdod (Violent despoiler) veal-armenot and on the citadels be’eretz in the land of Mitzrayim Egypt (double distress) veimru and say, “Heiasfu Gather al on hareiy the mountains shom’ron of Samaria (Guardians) ureu and see the mehumot rabot great turmoil betochah within her va’ashukiym and the oppressions bekirbah in her midst.
9 Proclaim on the palaces in Ashdod and on the citadels in the land of Egypt and say, “Gather on the mountains of Samaria and see the great turmoil within her and the oppressions in her midst.
Amos, by the Spirit declares that the coming punishment upon Israel is to be made known to Israel’s neighbours. The nations must learn that God shows no partiality. All must know that God is just and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.
Within the historical context of this message, how were Israel and Judah (v.13), and the surrounding nations to hear the prophetic warning?
To make a modern comparison we would say that the ancient prophets of Israel were the equivalent of self-published writers with a very small immediate audience. They travelled, certainly, but in and of themselves they did not have the reach required to ensure that all for whom the message was intended would receive it. Even when the ministries of three or four prophets overlapped their collective resources could not have spread the message nationally or internationally. Therefore, there was an element of great trust in the obedience of the prophets. A trust placed in God for the spread of the message, and the fullness of its redemptive outcome.
So how did the message of the prophets spread and become popular knowledge (as indicated by the prophetic word itself)? It spread by word of mouth from one righteous person to the next and was proclaimed not only by fellow prophets but also by common people of righteous faith, people the Scripture refers to as a righteous remnant.
No prophet could hope to be effective based on his own personal reach, rather the spread of the prophetic word relied on the obedience of the faithful remnant community. Some would travel through dangerous lands to convey the message they had received from the Lord via the prophet, others would share the message with their children who in turn would pass it on to their friends and so on. A farmer, a house wife, a stone mason, a builder, a vine tender, a harvester, from the highest echelons of society to the impoverished street person, those who were of the faithful remnant spread the message of warning throughout Israel and Judah and into the neighbouring nations.
How can I be so certain of this? After all, I don’t live in ancient Israel. My certainty, like the trust of the prophets, is born of and reliant on God, Who is just. Justice demands an accurate indictment, the opportunity for the guilty to face their accuser, and a fair trial. This has always been the modus operandi of the King of Justice, YHVH (Mercy).
“and say, ‘Gather on the mountains shom’ron of Samaria (Guardians) and see the great turmoil within her and the oppressions in her midst.’”
The plain meaning points to the neighbouring nations standing on the high places of Samaria in the territory of the ten northern tribes of Israel in order to witness Israel’s punishment. This of course denotes Israel’s future exile and the desecration of the shrines of idolatrous worship constructed on the high places.
The neighbouring nations are called to bear witness to Israel’s punishment. They are called to gather on the mountains of Shom’ron (Guardians). The remez (hint at deeper meaning) here is that of guardianship. The nations are to gather in the midst of the guardians of Israel and look upon the discipline that the guardians of Israel meet out upon her according to God’s instruction. The malakhiym (angelic guardians) who surround Israel, surround her for her protection. Both her protection from outside threats and protection from the threats within. The greatest of the threats within being idolatry.
10 Velo-yadeu And they don’t know asot-nechochah how to fashion what is straight,” neum utters YHVH (Mercy) the Lord, “ha’otzriym these storers chamas of violence vashod and havoc be’armenoteiyham in their palaces.”
10 And they don’t know how to fashion what is straight,” utters YHVH (Mercy) the Lord, “these storers of violence and havoc in their palaces.”
The Targum reads, “And they know not how to practice the Torah”.
At this point in our history, we Israelites have so neglected God’s written word that we no longer know how to obey it due to our being devoid of it. Instead we store up sinful violence and practice injustice within our cities and palaces.
11 Lachein Therefore, ko this is what amar Adonay YHVH the Lord God says: “Tzar An adversary, useviyv will circle ha’aretz the land, vehorid and take down mimeich uzeich your might from you, venavozu and plunder armenotayich your citadels.”
11 Therefore, this is what Adonay YHVH the Lord God says: “An adversary, will circle the land, and take down your might from you, and plunder your citadels.”
This refers to the king of Assyria, who invaded the land of Israel in the days of king Hoshea, and conquered Samaria, carrying Israel captive (2 Kings 17:6).
12 Ko This is amar what YHVH (Mercy) the Lord says: “Ka’asher Like when yatziyl haroeh the shepherd snatches mipiy from the mouth ha’ariy of the lion sheteiy two chera’ayim legs or a vedal-ozen piece of an ear, kein so will yinatzelu b’neiy Yisrael the children of Israel be snatched away hayosheviym who dwell beshomeron in Samaria — bif’at mitah in a corner of a bed uvidmeshek and Damascus ares on a couch!
12 This is what YHVH (Mercy) the Lord says: “Like when the shepherd snatches from the mouth of the lion two legs or a piece of an ear, so will the children of Israel be snatched away who dwell in Samaria — in a corner of a bed, and in Damascus from a couch!
The plain meaning is that only a small remnant of the northern tribes will survive the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions.
“Israel are scattered sheep; the lions have driven away: first the king of Assyria has devoured him; and last this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has broken his bones.” -Yermiyahu (Jeremiah) 50:17 (Author’s translation)
The phrase “in Samaria in a corner of a bed” can be understood multiple ways. First, it speaks of the very corner of the tribal land and therefore means that all will be affected from the Greatest to the least. Second, it may be a metaphor for cowardice, hiding in the corner of the bed. Third, a metaphor for poverty, having only a corner to lie in.
The phrase “Damascus on a couch” refers to the residents of Damascus, the then capital of the kingdom of Aram, being comfortable, sitting on luxurious couches thinking themselves secure. However, Damascus was taken around the same time Samaria was.
The Targum reads “that dwell in Samaria, in the strength of power, trusting in Damascus.” Inferring that the northern tribes had begun to place their trust in the foreign power Aram. Some Israelites even living in Damascus. Regardless, both Aram and Israel would be conquered.
13 Shimu Listen, hear, comprehend, obey vehaiydu and bear witness beveit Ya’akov in the house of Jacob (follower),” neum utters Adonay YHVH (Mercy) the Lord God, Eloheiy the God hatzeva’ot Who goes warring.
13 Listen, hear, comprehend, obey and bear witness in the house of Jacob,” utters Adonay YHVH (Mercy) the Lord God, Eloheiy the God Who goes warring.
Once again the Hebrew “Shimu (Shema)” is employed. Listen, but don’t just listen, hear. Hear, but don’t just hear, obey. Obey, but don’t just obey, walk in obedience.
“Bear witness in the house of Jacob” is a declaration to the prophets, and the righteous remnant who live within all Israel (inclusive of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin).
As is the case elsewhere in the TaNaKh (OT), two witnesses of a matter are established by the third witness, God Himself (Deut. 19:15). The first witness being the neighbouring nations (v.9), and the second being the prophets and righteous ones within Israel’s borders (present verse).
“Adonay YHVH (Mercy) the Lord God, Eloheiy the God hatzeva’ot Who goes warring.”
Three titles for God are expressed here. “Adonay”, meaning Lord, Master, “YHVH”, the unpronounceable proper noun which denotes mercy*, and “Eloheiy Hatzevaot” meaning, “God Who goes warring”. The Hebrew “tzevaot” is an intense plural form of “tzava”, to go forth in war. Thus, “God Who goes warring.” These three names teach us that God is the Merciful Lord Who goes warring against sin and death. We are not to diminish His character in our own eyes by saying that He is a pacifist, nor that He is devoid of mercy when He disciplines. We accept and hold the mysterious tension of His holiness with awe.
*In Jewish tradition it is written:
"The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to those, You want to know my name? I am called according to my actions. When I judge the creatures I am Elohim, and when I have mercy with My world, I am named YHWH" (Exodus Rabbah 3:6).
In Scripture Elohim is the Name given for God as the Creator of the universe (Gen 1:1-2:4a) and implies strength, power, and justice, whereas YHVH, expresses the idea of God's closeness to humans. For example, YHVH "breathed into his (Adam's) nostrils the breath of life" (Genesis 2:7). Closeness to humanity only continues in the sin affected world and beyond through YHVH's mercy.
14 “Kiy For beyom in the day pakediy that I number fisheiy Yisrael Israel’s rebellions, alayv ufakadtiy I will also number al-mizbechot upon the altars of Beiyt El Bethel (House of God); venigdeu and cut off karnot the horns hamizbeach of the altar, venafelu and they will fall la’aretz to the ground.
14 “For in the day that I number Israel’s rebellions, I will also number upon the altars of Bethel; and cut off the horns of the altar, and they will fall to the ground.
“For beyom in the day pakediy that I number fisheiy Yisrael Israel’s rebellions”
We note that the coming day of numbering is not a possibility but a certainty. “When”, not “if”.
The language of “numbering” is a measure of accountability and a sort of listing, in this case a listing of sins recorded in the indictment against Israel. Specifically, the root “pasha” (rebellion) is addressed. The idolatrous act of rebellion forms the foundation for all other types of sin.
“I will also number al-mizbechot upon the altars of Beiyt El Bethel (House of God)”
Not only does God bring to account the general sins of Israel, He also very specifically numbers the many infractions of idolatrous syncretism performed at the apostate centre of worship in Bethel.
Bethel was the location of one of the calves Jeroboam fashioned in a vile re-enactment of Israel’s idolatry at the foot of Sinai (Choreb)[Ex. 32; 1 Kings 12:28].
God, through the prophet, brings His indictment upon “altars”, meaning multiple altars set up in worship of multiple deities and in connection with the misuse of God’s Name (Hosea 8:11).
“and cut off karnot the horns hamizbeach of the altar, venafelu and they will fall la’aretz to the ground.”
Having mentioned multiple heathen altars He now speaks of the primary apostate altar of Bethel, that being the rosh (head) over all other altars. It had been constructed in direct opposition to the singular altar of Mt Tziyon in Jerusalem. It is likely that the primary altar at Bethel was a replica of the altar in Jerusalem. No matter how detailed a counterfeit is, the maker of the genuine article can always tell the difference.
The phrase “cut off the horns” refers both to the literal cutting off of the horns of the altar where blood was sprinkled in provocation of efficacy, and to the removal of the fourfold strength* of the heathen altar (a horn at each corner).
*Throughout the TaNaKh (OT) horns are seen to represent strength.
15 Vehikeiytiy And I will slay beiyt-hachoref the harvest house al-beiyt hakayitz upon the summer house; veavedu bateiy the houses hashen of ivory will also perish, vesafu batiym rabiym and the great houses will come to an end,” neum utters YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
15 And I will slay the harvest house upon the summer house; the houses of ivory will also perish, and the great houses will come to an end,” utters YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
The idiom denotes full destruction from seed time to harvest. Destruction that continues over a period of at least a year.
Additionally, it seems that the king of the northern tribes may have had both a winter and a summer house, each residence serving him according to the seasonal changes. A modern example would be that of a financially stable resident of Canada’s northern regions wintering in Colorado.
In Jewish tradition it is noted that the king of Moab had a chariot (described in the ancient text as a “house”) made from ivory, and 1 Kings 22:39 says that king Ahab built a house of ivory.
The Jewish commentator Radak explains:
“This was the custom of the kings to make themselves a house for the winter and a house for the summer, and it is also said of Jehoiakim ‘the king sits in the winter house in the ninth month’, and concerning the chariot of the king of Moab it is written ‘and the house of the tooth which he built’, the tooth is the tooth of the elephant from which we make certain crafts:” -Radak on Amos 3:15
“the great houses will come to an end,” neum utters YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
This is a reference to the houses of the wealthy and in particular to the many houses of the king of Israel.
Copyright Yaakov Brown 2022
The same fire that warms the righteous consumes the wicked.
As is the case with all of Hebrew Scripture, there are no chapter breaks in the scroll of the 12 Prophets in which Hosea is located. It’s important to see the text of this chapter as a continuation of the previous chapter:
“Ephraim has provoked bitter anger; and his blood will be left upon him, and his scorn Adonai will return to him.”
1 When Efrayim (doubly fruitful) spoke, reteit trembling. He nasa hu lifted himself up beYisrael in Israel, vayesham and incurred guilt baBa’al in Baal (master, lord, husband, Canaanite fertility deity) vayamot and died.
“When Ephraim spoke, trembling.” This is most likely an allusion to Jeroboam trembling before Solomon in whose court he had served prior to his rebellion and the setting up of the northern kingdom (1 Kings 11:26).
The text speaks of Ephraim (the kings of northern Israel) who exalted himself (pride) in Israel (the 10 northern tribes), in the past tense saying that he has already died as a result of his guilt in worshipping the Canaanite fertility deity Ba’al. In other words, the end of the northern kingship was predetermined by the idolatrous actions of her first king (1 Kings 12:25-33) and the subsequent actions of Ahab, who sinned in worship of Ba’al under the influence of Jezebel (1 Kings 16:31).
With regard to the pride that caused Jeroboam to engage Ba’al Rashi says:
“As soon as he assumed greatness and became guilty with Baal.”
“‘he died’ i.e., Jeroboam’s dynasty was terminated, and so was Ahab’s dynasty. Jonathan renders: When one of the house of Ephraim would speak, fear would seize the nations. They were great among Israel, but when they sinned by worshipping idols, they were slain.” -Rashi
There is strong textual evidence supporting an intrinsic link between the calf deities of Jeroboam, the calf of Sinai and the Ba’aliym (Canaanite deities). Therefore, it is inconsistent to make the claim that the tribes of the north considered the calves to be representations of YHVH. They clearly linked the calves to the false Canaanite deities the Ba’aliym. The fact that there were two calves (1 Kings 12:29) supports this polytheistic understanding, and blatantly contradicts a monotheistic Deity. Both the leaders of Israel (Sinai) [Exodus 32:4] and Jeroboam I [1 Kings 12:28] had appropriated the actions of YHVH and attributed them to other gods (calf deity of Egypt, calf deity representing Baal).
The text teaches us that humble position does not necessarily denote a godly outcome. It is true that the Scripture says “humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up” (Yaakov 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6), however, although Jeroboam was in a humble position before the Lord he had not humbled himself but had been appointed as servant to Solomon (1 Kings 11:26). Additionally Jeroboam lifted himself up (God allowed his kingship in response to Solomon’s disobedience, He did not appoint Jeroboam). His belief in his own strength over that of the Lord’s (in spite of the fact that the prophet Ahijah [1 Kings 11:26-39] had informed him that it was YHVH Who was allowing him to have dominion over the 10 northern tribes) resulted in idolatry.
Note: In this verse “Israel” is used of the 10 tribes and not all of Israel (as some foolish commentators suggest). We know this because the kings of the north beginning with Jeroboam I lifted themselves up over the 10 tribes of the north only. The sin of the southern kingdom under Solomon was the worship of Ashtoret, Molek and Chemosh (1 Kings 11:4-8) and not the worship of Ba’al (who is not mentioned in the indictment against Solomon), as is the case concerning the indictment of Israel in the present verse. Therefore, the resulting death is that of the northern kingship and the exile of the northern tribes, and not, as some erroneously suggest, the death of all Israel (all 12 tribes).
2 And now yosifu they increase lachato their sin (miss the mark of God’s glory), vayasu and they have made lahem for them maseichah cast metal icons, mikasoam from silver, kitvunam skilfully made atzabiym idols ma’aseih charashiym kuloh lahem all from the work of an engraver, to them. Heim They omeriym say zovecheiy adam “sacrifice a man (human sacrifice) agaliym yishakun kiss the calves [alt. they say ‘a man sacrifices to calves he kisses!’]”
This is a description of human sacrifices offered to man-made cast metal and silver plated idols. “They increase their sin” is an allusion to the fact that idolatry diversified and increased under the reign of Ahab and was maintained under the reigns of the pursuant kings of the north. In short the calf idol worship was merely the beginning.
The silver mentioned tells us that idols other than the calves of Bethel and Dan (made of gold ref. 1 Kings 12:28) were being made.
Sadly, human sacrifice to false gods was not alien to Israel (2 Kings 17:17; 23:10; Eze. 20:26; Mic. 6:7).
“Kiss the calves” This is an allusion to worship of the two calf deities of Bethel and Dan. A “kiss” is a symbolic act of intimacy, homage, submission (Psalms 2:12; 1 Kings 19:18).
“Those who sacrifice man may kiss the calves The priests of Molech say to Israel, “Whoever sacrifices his son to the idol is worthy of kissing the calf” for he has offered him a precious gift. So did our Sages explain this in Sanhedrin (63b), and it fits the wording of the verse better than Jonathan’s translation.” -Rashi
“Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” -1 Kings 19:18 NIV
3 Lachein Therefore, yihu they have become ka’anan-boker like a morning cloud vechatal and like night mist (dew) mashkiym holeich and leave early, kemotz like chaff yesoeir driven by the storm winds migoren from the threshing floor, ucheashan and like smoke meiarubah from a chimney.
Each of the examples given here are short lived, they appear and are gone soon after. The inference is that the northern kingdom and its kingship, will, historically speaking, be brief.
4 Ve’Anochiy And I Am YHVH the Lord Eloheycha your God/Judge, meieretz mitzrayim from the land of Egypt (double distress); veilohiym zulatiy lo and no gods but Me teida did you know umoshiya nor any other saviour.
YHVH reminds Ephraim (northern tribes) that He is her God and Judge, and has been from before she existed as a people. He has been with Israel from her bondage in Egypt and is the One Who delivered her from her captivity.
“no gods but Me” is in response to the false claim of Jeroboam I, who pointed out the calf idols and said “Behold your gods, Israel, that brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (1 Kings 12:28).
5 Aniy I yedatiycha yes I knew you bamidbar in the desert be’eretz taluvot in the land of drought.
YHVH was present, in the cloud of the presence, in provision of quail and manna, in provision of water, leading Israel through her desert journey, and continuing to do so even after she had rebelled against Him (Numbers 13 & 14).
6 Kemariytam Because of their pasture, vayisbau they became full, shaveu they were satisfied [alt. they became fully filled], vayarom and exalted with pride libam in their inner being (heart); al-kein shecheichuniy Therefore they’ve forgotten Me.
Due to God’s provision and care Israel became comfortable, full, “well grazed”. Rather than give glory to God for their comfort as their forefather Abraham had done, Israel instead turned to other gods and appropriated God’s gifts naming them as evidence of the provision of false gods.
7 Vaehiy And I will become lahem to them kemo like shachal a lion; kenamer like a leopard I al-derech I will lie in wait in the way, ashur observing.
YHVH previously depicted as the Shepherd of Israel (4:16) is now seen as a Lion Who, like a leopard, a bear, and other predatory wild animals, attacks the sheep and rips them apart (cf. Jeremiah 5:6).
God is pictured figuratively as a Lion throughout Hebrew Scripture. YHVH as Lion is both a terrifying and comforting use of imagery. When Israel sins He comes as a Lion of discipline (Hosea 13:7-8), and when Israel repents He comes as a Lion of fierce protection and comfort (Hosea 11:10-11).
“A lion has roared! Who will not fear?
The Lord God has spoken! Who can do anything but prophesy?” -Amos 3:8 NASB
“I yes, I will lie in wait in the way, (Ashur) observing.” The Lord will not only attack in discipline, He will lie in wait even as Israel is taken into exile. The Hebrew “ashur” observe is identical in spelling to the proper noun of the Empire. Thus, HaShem will ashur (observe) them on the way to Ashur.
“by the way I will lurk Heb. אָשּׁוּר. Every instance of אָשּׁוּר in Scripture is punctuated with a “dagesh,” but this one is “weak,” since it is not a place name but it means, “I will lurk and ambush.” Comp. (Num. 24:17) “I see him (אֲשּׁוּרֶנוּ) but not near.” -Rashi
Both the king of Assyria and Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon are referred to as lions scattering the sheep of Israel:
“Israel is a scattered [a]flock, the lions have driven them away. The first one who devoured him was the king of Assyria, and this last one who has gnawed his bones is Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.” -Jeremiah 50:17 NASB
8 Efgesheim I will encounter them kidov like a bear shakul bereaved of her cubs, ve’ekra and tear open segor the enclosure libam of their inner being (hearts); veocheleim I will eat them sham there kelaviy like a lioness, chayat hasadeh a beast of the land tevake’eim that tears them to pieces.
The imagery of the bear is ambiguous. HaShem comes as a bear bereaved of her cubs. Israel are His cubs, and at the same time are the abductors of His cubs (leading their own children astray) [cf. 2 Sam. 17:8; 2 Kings 2:24; Pr. 17:12].
Rashi rightly observes that HaShem is bereaved in the loss of His children the people of Israel and in the need for the disciplining of them.
“as a bereaving bear Heb. שַׁכּוּל. Like שּׁוֹכֵל, as you say חָנּוּן, gracious, and רַחוּם, merciful, so שַּׁכּוּל, i.e., entirely attired with bereavements and ready to bereave people.” -Rashi
“tear open the enclosure of their inner being (hearts)” This denotes the “heart surgery” that will be required in order to fix Israel’s disobedient heart of stone and make it a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). The heart is the core being and the centre of consciousness. Note that the Hebrew libam (hearts) is plural and that the text says “their”. Therefore the present text denotes God’s intention to open and convert the heart of rebellion at the centre of His people.
“And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,” -Ezekiel 11:19 NASB
The Targum Yonatan supports this understanding:
“My word shall meet them as a bear bereaved, and I will break the wickedness of their hearts…'' -Targum Yonatan
9 Shichetcha It is to your own destruction, Yisrael (overcome in God) Israel, kiy-viy ve’ezrecha that you are against Me, against your help.
God would help Israel, but she has turned her back on Him. The northern kingdom will suffer the consequences of their own sin and therefore, “your own destruction”. The destruction that is coming is a direct consequence of Israel’s poor political decisions and abhorrent worship practices (sacrificing children to false gods). Israel has weakened herself. God will simply pull back His hand of protection and Israel’s discipline will be the fruit of her actions. As I have previously stated, sin, among other things, is self-harm.
Now, as always, our help is in YHVH, and not of our own strength.
10 Ehiy Where is malkecha your king, eifo where? Veyoshiyacha And who will save you bechol-areycha in all your cities? Veshofeteycha And your judges/rulers, asher to whom amarta you said, “tenah-liy melech Give me a king vesariym and princes”?
“Where is your king?” This can be understood as a rhetorical question relating to the withdrawing of YHVH’s (King of Israel) hand. It may refer to the death of Israel’s (the northern kingdom) last king. The former is the most likely given the follow up question “And who will save you?” In short, “Without Me (YHVH) Who will save you?”
And where are “your judges?” God is Israel’s Judge. Israel had asked both God and her human judges and rulers for a king like the other nations (1 Sam. 8:5, 20), however, here the text is referring to the request of the northern tribes for a king other than the king of Judah (1 Kings 12:26).
“I will be, where is your king? Heb. אֱהִי מַלְכְּךָ אֵפוֹא. Jonathan renders: Where is your king? But I say that it is unnecessary to interpret it other than its apparent meaning. I will be standing from afar to see where your king is, for I will make Myself see what your end will be, where your saviour is.” -Rashi
11 Eten-lecha I gave you melekh a king beapiy while My nostrils flared (fierce anger), ve’ekach and snatched him away be’evratiy in the excess of My wrath.
The monarchy of the northern kingdom is considered apostate and rebellious by God Who had allowed it in His anger against Solomon’s sin but did not appoint its kings (1 Kings 12:16). Additionally the first king of all 12 tribes of Israel was given as a response to rebellion against God and that same king Saul likewise rebelled and was taken away by God (killed by the Philistines) [1 Sam. 8:7].
12 Tzarur Bound up avon is the perversity of Efrayim; tzefunah chatato His hidden sin (missing the mark of God’s glory).
The sin of Ephraim is more than a simple missing of the mark, it is intentional and perpetual perversity. It is bound up, kept for a time of punishment. Additionally, the depravity of Ephraim has bound him up. Perversity binds the one who practices it. It comes back upon the sinner. The fornicator contracts a deadly sexually transmitted disease, the murderer is killed by the relative of his victim, the liar tells so many lies that when he speaks the truth he is not believed to his hurt and so on.
"the sins of the house of Ephraim are treasured up; they are reserved to punish all their offences;'' -Targum Yonatan
"the sins of the house of Ephraim are treasured up; they are reserved to punish all their offences;'' -Job 14:17 NASB
13 Chevleiy The (umbilical) cord yoledah of childbirth yavou will wrap (come) around (on) lo him; hu-vein lo chacham He is not a wise son (brain oxygen starved at birth), kiy for eit-lo ya’amod it is not the time to remain, bemishbar in the breaking forth baniym of children [alt. the time for hesitation is not at the moment of birth].
First and foremost this is an analogy concerning new birth. Israel has been offered numerous opportunities to repent and be delivered into a new season of favour in right standing with God, but has instead resisted to her own hurt.
The analogy speaks of a child who knows that it’s time to break forth from the womb but instead twists itself into a breech position and in doing so strangles itself on its own umbilical cord, starving itself of oxygen and impairing its cognitive development. In these circumstances the father of ancient Israel must come and forcibly move the baby into birthing position or cut open the mother performing a C-section delivery. In both cases there is great suffering as a consequence but the baby’s life is saved.
Therefore, YHVH is explaining to His wayward people that they have placed themselves in a position where they are unable to see the predicament they have put themselves in, nor are they able to deliver themselves.
"distress and trouble shall come upon them, as pains on a woman with child; he is not wise to know my fear:'' -Targum Yonatan
14 Miyad From the hand of sheol (the place of the departed) efdeim shall I ransom them? Mimavet From death egaleim I will redeem them! Ehiy Where are they? Devareycha Your plagues mavet Death, Ehiy Where are they? katavecha Of your destruction Sheol (the place of the departed), nocham repent! Yisateir It shall be concealed (covered) from mei’eiynay My eyes.
“From the hand of sheol (the place of the departed) shall I ransom them?” The question is rhetorical, the answer is “Of course yes, I will ransom them!”, in fact the answer is given in the proceeding phrase.
Note: Sheol is NOT the grave (kever). Sheol is the holding place of the departed. Nor are Biblical Israelites (Jews) buried under the earth. Therefore, kever (grave) in Biblical Hebrew means an above ground interment in either a tomb or by piling large rocks over the body above ground. Numerous false theologies regarding death and the afterlife can be avoided by this one simple piece of basic Hebrew understanding.
“From death I will redeem them!” This is a promise, the answer to the previous question. YHVH will redeem Israel from death, not natural death (although He has often delivered Israel this way) but from eternal death. We know that at the time of Israel’s exile to Assyria many died, therefore, HaShem is not alluding to the temporal death of the body but to the eternal death of the soul/spirit, the neshama (transcendent consciousness). Hosea is prophesying the redemption that comes through Yeshua the King Messiah, through His atoning/covering blood and His resurrection living. The fullness of this promise culminating in the salvation of all the remnant of Israel (Romans 11:25-27).
“Where are they? Your plagues Death, Where are they? Of your destruction Sheol (the place of the departed), repent! It shall be concealed (covered) from My eyes.”
How does God conceal death? By covering it. Kippur, to cover, atone for. The beginning of the verse explains that the concealing of death will come about through “ransom” and “redemption”. Therefore, the covering and concealment of death from the eyes of HaShem will be made possible through vicarious sacrifice, a kaparah (atonement, sacrifice, reconciliation) that puts death to death permanently. Those who have met Yeshua the King Messiah know that He performed that atoning sacrifice by giving His sinless body into the hands of God and died on the Roman cross, rising again on the third day according to Scripture and thus offering redemption through the ransom He paid, perpetually to the Jew first, and also to the nations in perpetuity unto the judgement and life everlasting (Romans 1:16).
It is this verse that Rav Shaul is quoting in 1 Corinthians 15:55:
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?” (NIV)
“I am He Who would ransom them from the clutches of the grave and redeem them from death…” -Rashi
15 Kiy For hu he bein among achiym brothers and sisters yafriy is fruitful, yavo kadiym ruach an east wind will come, YHVH (Mercy) The Lord mimidbar from the wilderness oleh comes up; ve’yeivosh mekoro and his fountain will become dry veyecherav and dried up ma’yano his spring; hu yishseh he will plunder otzar the treasure kol-keliy chemdah of all the precious vessels.
“For he among brothers and sisters is fruitful” This refers to Ephraim and is the literal meaning of his name. Ephraim was prophesied to be fruitful (Gen. 48:10-20), and became a powerful tribe (Judges 8:1-3; 12:1-7; 1 Sam. 1:1-4). Prominent leaders such as Joshua (Josh. 24:30) and Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:26) came from Ephraim and the tribe was subsequently named for the 10 tribes of the north.
“An east wind will come” This refers specifically to the wind of the Assyrian empire wielded by God as a sword of discipline (Hosea 5:13, 7:11, 8:9; 2 Kings 17:3).
The Targum supports this understanding:
"now will I bring against him a king strong as a burning wind;''-Targum Yonatan
The king of Babylon is also referred to as a violent wind in Jeremiah 4:11.
The “east wind” is used as a metaphor for false knowledge (Job 15:2), imminent onslaught (Isaiah 27:21), a scattering force (Jeremiah 18:17), it is a wind of discipline wielded by YHVH for the purpose of returning His people to Himself.
“The Lord from the wilderness comes up;” The Lord is in control of all that is about to happen, He is wielding the winds of Assyria and Babylon.
"by the word of the Lord, through the way of the wilderness shall he come up;'' -Targum Yonatan
“And his fountain will become dry and dried up his spring” This is a metaphor for the drying up of Israel’s access to the living waters of YHVH poured out on the faithful among His people.
The LORD is the fountain of Israel, who have access to His waters through repentance and return.
“Lord, the hope of Israel, All who abandon You will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, Because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, that is the Lord.” -Jeremiah 17:13 NASB
It is also a metaphor denoting the reduction of progeny over the period of exile (cf. Deut. 33:28). Israel (the sons of Jacob) are called the “fountain of Jacob” in Scripture (Psalms 68:26).
The fear of the Lord is also called a fountain (Prov. 14:27). Therefore, this is an indication that Israel’s fear of God has dried up and resulted in Israel’s discipline.
“He will plunder the treasure of all the precious vessels.” This does not concern the vessels of the Temple which were taken away over 100 years later by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Chronicles 36:7). Rather it refers to vessels associated with the worship of false gods, removed by the Assyrians when they invaded the northern territories of Israel.
“he shall destroy the house of his treasures, and shall lay waste the city of his kingdom; he shall spoil the treasuries, all vessels of desire.'' -Targum Yonatan
16 [14:1] Tesham Shomeron (guardian mountain) Samaria will pay for her guilt (offense), kiy Because maretah she rebelled beiloheyah against her God. Bacherev In the sword yipolu they will fall oleleiyhem their infants yerutashu dashed to pieces vehariyotayv and their pregnant women yevukau will be ripped apart.
Samaria was the head/capital of Ephraim (Isaiah 7:9) which was besieged for three years by Shalmaneser king of Assyria (the east wind); and eventually conquered and its inhabitants taken into exile (2 Kings 17:5) [Assyria invaded in 734 BCE then conquered and exiled its residents between 722 and 721 BCE]. Samaria was a hot bed of idolatry and vile sacrificial practices to false deities, a beacon of pagan worship. God would give a foreign idolater the strength to topple it and destroy its altars. Samaria’s guilt would come upon her own head because she rebelled against her God to her own harm.
1  Shuvah Return, Yisrael, ad to YHVH the Lord Eloheycha your God/Judge, kiy for chashalta you have stumbled ba’avonecha in your depravity.
"return to the fear of the Lord.'' -Targum Yonatan
“to the Lord your God One taught in the name of Rabbi Meir: Return, O Israel, while He is still יהוה, with the Divine Attribute of Mercy; otherwise, He is אֶלֹהֶיךָ with the Divine Attribute of Justice, before the defense becomes the prosecution. [from Pesikta d’Rav Kahana, p. 164a]” -Rashi
YHVH continues to offer a hand of mercy and calls Israel to return to Him and turn away from her depravity. The rhythm of Mercy, judgement and the fruit of judgement Mercy, continues just as it does in the words of Hosea’s contemporaries (Isaiah, Amos, Micah).
"great is repentance, for it brings a man to the throne of glory;'' -Talmud Bavliy Yoma, fol. 86. 1.
Rashi understands this as a warning to the southern kingdom of Judah (& Benjamin):
“Return, O Israel You, who are in the land of Judah, lest what happens to Samaria happens to you. Therefore, the topics are juxtaposed. This can be compared to a king against whom a province rebelled. The king sent a general and commanded him to destroy it. That general was expert and deliberate. He said to them, “Take for yourselves days (sic); otherwise, I will do to you as I have done to such-and-such a province and to its allies, and to such-and-such a prefecture and to its allies.” Therefore it says, “Samaria shall be accounted guilty,” and then Scripture says: “Return, O Israel.” As is found in Sifrei in the section commencing. (Num. 25:1), “And Israel abode in Shittim.” -Rashi
2  Kechu Take imachem with you devariym words, essences, things veshuvu and return el-YHVH to the Lord. Imru Say to Him, “Eilayv away kol-tisa avon take all depravity away vekach-tov and receive good uneshalemah and a covenant of peace, wholeness, wellbeing pariym sefateiynu fruit [calves] of our lips.
The text uses “devariym” (words, essence, things) rather than ketuviym (written words) or Torah (Instruction) because God is admonishing Israel to carry and walk in His living Word that is His written Word in action, the Word not only the Torah but of the prophets and writings, the right action of faith in Him, Halakhah (the way we walk). Yeshua the King Messiah is revealed as the Living Word (Davar) Essence of the Universe Who is both Author and Goal of the TaNaKH (Bible) [John 1; Romans 10:4]. We note that only in the Word is Israel able to return to YHVH (Mercy).
“Say to Him, “take all depravity away and receive good and a covenant of peace, wholeness, wellbeing fruit [calves] of our lips.” This is an instruction to the people to ask God to take away all their iniquity through a covenant that brings peace. This is a reference to the blood sacrifice of Yeshua the King Messiah and the covenant of peace that His shed blood establishes. Only by receiving it can Israel be saved from the rightful punishment for her sin. We note that this covenant becomes an act of worship that overflows from her lips, that is, the testimony of salvation through Yeshua the King Messiah. This is why the ambiguity occurs in the Hebrew text. The Hebrew prym can mean either the plural of fruit peri or of calf par. This is because the author of the prophetic work is conveying the Divine Word of God indicating both sacrifice and the testimony of that same sacrifice as it is heard on the lips of those who receive it. The ambiguity therefore, conveys an intended convergent meaning.
“and teach [us the] good [way] Heb. וְקַח-טוֹב. And teach us the good way. Another explanation: The few good deeds in our hands take in Your hand and judge us accordingly. And so does David say (Psalms 17:2): “Let my sentence come forth from before You, may Your eyes behold the right.” Another explanation: And accept good And accept confession from us, as it is said (Psalms 92:2): “It is good to confess to the Lord.
and let us render [for] bulls that we should have sacrificed before you, let us render them with the placation of the words of our lips.” -Rashi
3  Ashur (a step) Assyria lo yoshiyeinu will not save us, al-sus lo nirkav on horses we will not ride; velo-nomar and nor will we say od again, ‘eloheiynu Our god’ lema’aseih To the work yadeiynu of our hands; asher-becha For in You yerucham there is mercy, compassion for yatom the fatherless.”
These words continue the proposed confession of repentant Israel at a future time post exile. Assyria to whom the northern kings had turned would not only not save them but would in fact conquer and subjugate them.
“Assyria shall not save us Say this also before Him, “We no longer seek the aid of man, neither from Assyria nor from Egypt.” -Rashi
“nor will we say again, ‘Our god’ To the work of our hands” Part of Israel’s repentance involves turning their backs on all false idols. I am reminded of the son of a Hindu High Priest who came to faith in our community and was being immersed (tevilah) in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He excitedly answered my question to him, “Do you choose to worship of the God of Israel alone, do you forsake the worship of all other Gods? Do you acknowledge that Yeshua the King Messiah is Imanu with us El God?” his response was a resounding “I do!”
When we turn to God in Messiah we are in one sense taking a wedding vow, “I cleave to You alone, forsaking all others…”
“For in You there is mercy, compassion for the fatherless.” An acknowledgement that only the Greatest of father’s the Creator of the universe can truly understand and gift compassion for the fatherless.
4  Erpa I will heal, repair meshuvatam their turning away, ohaveim I will love them nedavah freely, voluntarily, kiy Because shav afiy turned away is My flaring nostril (anger) mimenu from them.
“I will heal, repair their turning away” This is a certain promise. YHVH will heal, repair, cure Israel of her turning away. In short, turning away from God is an illness that leads to death. Through His Son the King Messiah He has provided the cure for that illness and with it wholeness and eternal life.
“I will love them freely, voluntarily” The Calvinists avoid this verse because it describes free will as an attribute of God and is therefore one of many Scriptures that refute their false supposition. In fact, without free will there is no love, only mindless robotic subjugation.
“Because turned away is My flaring nostril (anger) from them.”
God will yet turn away His wrath from His people because His purpose has always been to discipline them unto repentance and restoration.
“I will remedy their backsliding Said the prophet: So has the Holy Spirit said to me. After they say this before Me, I will remedy their backsliding, and I will love them with My charitable spirit. Although they do not deserve the love, I will love them charitably since My wrath has turned away from them.” -Rashi
5  Eyeh It will be chatal like night mist (dew) leYisrael to Israel; kashoshanah He will blossom like the lily, veyach And he will cast forth sharashayv his roots kalevanon like Lebanon (whiteness from lavan).
“It will be like night mist (dew) to Israel” Here, it’s the wrath of God that will disperse like the dew. This is the counterpoint to Ephraim’s temporal reign and Israel’s (northern tribes) fading prosperity in the land (v.3).
“He will blossom like the lily, and he will cast forth his roots kalevanon like Lebanon (whiteness, from lavan).” Whiteness, purity, is multiplied here (Lilly [white] & Lebanon [whiteness]). This is an allusion to the purity that will blossom and put down roots as a result of the salvation that comes through Yeshua the King Messiah from YHVH the Deliverer of Israel.
"they shall dwell in the strength of their land, as a tree of Lebanon, which sends forth its branch.'' -Targum Yonatan
There is also a picture of strength such as that of the strong well rooted trees of the northern region (not the modern state of Lebanon).
“and it shall strike I.e. the dew shall strike its roots and cause them to prosper like the Lebanon like the roots of the trees of the Lebanon, which are large.” -Rashi
6  Yeilechu And he will send out yonekotayv his young branches, vihiy like chazayit an olive tree hodo in its beauty, vereiyach lo and his aroma kalevanon like Lebanon (whiteness).
"they shall multiply or increase with sons and daughters:'' -Targum Yonatan
When Israel returns to HaShem through the King Messiah, he will send out his branches like an olive tree and his aroma will draw the nations to the purity (Lebanon/whiteness) of Messiah in him. This has a correlation to the olive tree imagery of Rav Shaul (Romans 11).
“Its branches shall go forth Sons and daughters shall increase and it shall be Their beauty shall be like the beauty of the menorah of the Temple, and their fragrance like the fragrance of the incense.” -Rashi
7  Yashuvu yosheveiy They shall return and dwell vetzilo in His shadow yechayu they will revive dagan grain veyifrechu and sprout forth chagafen like a grape vine. Zichro keyeiyn His remembrance, memorial like wine levanon of Lebanon.
“They shall return and dwell in His shadow” This is a reference to God and is also seen by our ancient Jewish forebears as a reference to the King Messiah. Therefore, acknowledging an intrinsic link between the two.
"and they shall be gathered out of the midst of their captivity, they shall dwell under the shadow of their Messiah;'' -Targum Yonatan
“they will revive grain and sprout forth like a grape vine. His remembrance, memorial like wine of Lebanon.” Redeemed Israel (chosen, ethnic, religious, empirical) will be revived in Messiah and produce fruit, the fruit that Ephraim should have produced but did not. The true King will be of Judah and will be the Vine Who breaks forth and spreads in righteousness. His Name/Remembrance will be like whiteness/purity, the strength of the trees of Lebanon (the northern mountain ranges of ancient Israel).
“its fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon Jonathan renders: Like the remembrance of the blasts of the trumpets over the old wine poured for libations in the Temple. For they would blow the trumpets over the libations when the Levites would recite the song.” -Rashi
8  Efrayim, mah-liy od says what more have I to do la’atzabiym with idols? Aniy I aniytiy I answer va’ashurenu and watch over you. Aniy kivrosh I am like a juniper ra’anan luxuriant, green. Mimeniy From Me peryecha your fruit nimtza is attained.
"they of the house of Israel shall say, ‘what is it to us to serve idols anymore?’ ‘I by my Word will receive the prayer of Israel, and will have mercy on him:’'' -Targum Yonatan
Redeemed Ephraim (kings and tribes of the north) who will come under the kingship of Judah over all Israel, will say “What more do I have to do with idols?” In short, “I’m forever done with idolatry!”
“Ephraim will say, ‘What more do I need to follow the images?’ And they will turn away from idolatry. I will answer him I will answer him from his trouble.” -Rashi
“I, yes, I answer and watch over you.” YHVH will answer redeemed Ephraim in her repentance and say “I hear and answer you with mercy and protection!”
“I am like a juniper luxuriant, green. From Me your fruit is attained.” This is the only instance in the Tanakh where God is figuratively compared to a tree and it is not a cedar but a juniper (a fruit bearing evergreen tree). We note that the fruit of redeemed Ephraim is not of Ephraim but of God. Ephraim in her sinful state bore fruit of destruction but through the King Messiah she has been created anew to bear the fruit of God’s character.
“Therefore if anyone be in Messiah, he is a new creation: the old has gone; behold, pay attention, all things have become new.” -2 Corinthians 5:17 (Author’s translation)
Our righteousness is in God and not of ourselves. Our right actions proceed from the Spirit of God in us through the King Messiah Yeshua.
9  Miy Who chacham is wise, veyavein let him understand, discern, consider eileh these things; Navon understand, ve’yeida’eim and they will know, comprehend. Kiy For yeshariym straight, right darcheiy are the ways YHVH of the Lord (Mercy), vetzadikiym and the righteous ones yeilechu will walk vam in them, ufoshe’iym and rebels, transgressors yikashelu shall stumble vam in them.
This final challenge is issued to all who have ears to hear. It is much like the former challenge of HaShem to the tribes of Israel as they entered the land:
15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil. 16 What I am commanding you today is to love Adonai your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His mitzvot, statutes and ordinances. Then you will live and multiply, and Adonai your God will bless you in the land you are going in to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you do not listen, but are drawn away and bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I tell you today that you will certainly perish! You will not prolong your days on the land, where you are about to cross over the Jordan to go in to possess. 19 “I call the heavens and the earth to witness about you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20 by loving Adonai your God, listening to His voice, and clinging to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell on the land that Adonai swore to your fathers—to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob—to give them.” -D’varim (Deuteronomy) 30:15-20 TLV
“Who is wise and will understand these Who among you is wise and will ponder to put his heart to all these and return to Me?” -Rashi
“Who is wise, let him understand, discern, consider these things; understand, and they will know, comprehend.” Only those who take the time to pause and consider these things will gain the understanding required to act on the warning of God in repentance. Today many pass on information they have no real knowledge of, spreading rumours and falsehoods on social media, email, message boards and the like without bothering to consider, discern, investigate and learn the truth of a mater. We would do well to take pause here and allow the Spirit of God to expose our hearts, and with sober judgement to access the state of our being and repent.
“For straight, right are the ways YHVH of the Lord (Mercy), and the righteous ones will walk in them, and rebels, transgressors shall stumble in them.” To the wicked the Instruction/Ways of YHVH (the Torah) are an indictment that condemns them to death, but that same Way/Instruction (Torah) points the righteous to its Goal Yeshua (Romans 10:4). How does one know that he is redeemed? The evidence of Messiah in us is seen in our halakhah (the way we walk), “For straight, right are the ways of Mercy (YHVH), and the righteous ones will walk in them!”
The same fire that warms the righteous consumes the wicked.
Copyright 2021 Yaakov Brown
Messiah follower, do we pass judgement on those who worship idols while trusting in our own intellect, physical strength, talents, finances, emotional intelligence, qualifications, righteousness? If so, we are hypocrites and idolaters.
As is the case with all of Hebrew Scripture, there are no chapter breaks in the scroll of the 12 Prophets in which Hosea is located. It’s important to see the text of this chapter as a continuation of the previous chapter:
“They return not to the most High: they have become like a slackened bow: their princes will fall by the sword from the rage of their tongue: this stammering derision in the land Egypt.” -Hosea 7:16
1“Put a shofar (ram’s horn) to your mouth! Kanesher Like an eagle al upon beit YHVH the house of the Lord (Mercy) Ya’an because averu the people have passed over, alienated veriytiy My covenant (cutting agreement), ve’al and against Toratiy My Torah Instruction pashau rebelled.
“Put the shofar to your mouth” is an instruction to the prophet Hosea. He is to blow the shofar (ram’s horn) with the wind (ruach) of the Holy Spirit in him. The mouth denotes both intimacy and proclamation. The shofar (Gen. 22) represents the voice of the Ram of God (Yeshua the King Messiah), Who is the Word (Ha-Davar) essence, the substance of God and the testimony of Yeshua is the spirit of prophecy (Rev. 19:10).
It is interesting to compare a similar phrasing spoken to Yishayahu (Isaiah):
“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a shofar, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” -Isaiah 58:1
“Ram’s horn” (shofar) is often blown as a warning (Joel 2:1; Amos 3:6) and is also associated with the giving of the Torah (Ex. 19:16) [poignant given the accusation concerning rejection of Torah in verses 1 & 11], the jubilee (Lev. 25:9), war & miracles (Jos. 6:4; Jdg. 6:34; 7:8) etc. And finds its true origin in the “binding of Isaac” (Gen. 22). Meaning that at its root it is the sound of redemption.
Rashi understands this verse to carry the same meaning as that of Isaiah 58:1.
“The Shechinah says to the prophet: Let the voice of your palate be heard, and call like a shophar, and say: You enemies! Fly and hasten as the eagle swoops and come to the house of the Lord. To your palate a shophar, it is as though a shophar is placed to your palate. [after Jonathan]” -Rashi
“Like an eagle upon the house of the LORD”
“behold, as an eagle flies, so shall a king with his army come up and encamp against the house of the sanctuary of the Lord.” -Targum Yonatan
The eagle is a bird of prey and is used as a figure for invading rulers and their empires (Eze. 17:3; Deut. 28:49). This is misinterpreted by the majority of Christian scholars as referring to the Assyrian invasion. This cannot be the case because the Assyrians did not take Jerusalem and defile the Temple (House of the LORD).
The rabbinical interpretation rightly concludes that this is prophetic of the Babylonian invasion when Nebuchadnezzar (Ezekiel 17) would destroy the Temple in 586 BCE. Therefore, the warning reaches beyond the exile of the northern tribes to the exile of all Israel including Judah and Benjamin.
“And say, ‘Thus says the LORD GOD; A great eagle with great wings, long winged, full of feathers, which had divers colours, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar:” -Ezekiel 17:3
All this had been long since prophesied over Israel’s disobedience:
“The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand;” -Deuteronomy 28:49
“because the people have passed over, alienated My covenant, and against My Torah Instruction rebelled.” The reason for the warning is that Israel (the northern tribes) have ignored the covenant they have with YHVH (made at Sinai) and have wilfully rebelled against the Torah Instruction of YHVH. “Pasha” a Hebrew word for sin means “to miss the mark” and at its root denotes rebellion born of idolatry. This is significant because the beginning of this chapter addresses with warning the idolatry of the previous chapter.
2 Liy To Me Yisrael (overcome in God) yizaku cries, ‘Elohay My God, yeda’anucha we know You!’
The northern tribes claim to call on God as “My God”, “Our God”, but they do so while calling on many gods and while rejecting YHVH’s covenant and wilfully turning from his Torah. To this hypocrisy they add the self-incriminating phrase “we know you” denoting intimate knowledge of God. This is vile for two reasons, first, God has offered Israel faithful intimacy and they have spurned Him, and second, they have been consistently intimate with false gods, prostituting themselves before His face.
The Targum Yonatan interprets this as temporary, situational confession from the lips of the unrepentant:
"in every time that distress comes upon them, they pray before me, and say, now we know that we have no God besides thee; redeem us, for we are thy people Israel;'' -Targum Yonatan
Rav Shaul the Shaliach (Apostle) writes concerning hypocritical “Messianic Gentiles” who acted in a similar way. These gentile believers were demanding that other gentiles be circumcised in the flesh contrary to Shaul’s (Paul’s) teaching (Philippians 3). This same gentile circumcision cult were claiming to teach the things of God and to know God, but were in themselves detestable, disobedient, and worthless in God’s sight.
“10 For there are many rebellious people, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of [h]dishonest gain. 12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. For this reason reprimand them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.” -Titus 1:10-16 (NIV)
Amos, another contemporary of Hosea, makes it clear that while Israel was claiming to Know YHVH she was practicing flagrant idolatry (Amos 2:4, 7-8; 3:14; 5:26).
3 Zanach Yisrael Israel has cast off, spurned, rejected tov good; oyeiyv an enemy yirdefov will pursue him.
“Israel has cast off, spurned, rejected good;” Good is not just a reference to a distinction in circumstance or flavour. Good is defined by the character of God. This is why Yeshua said “Why do you call me good, no one is good but God alone.” (Matt. 19:17; Mark 10:18). Therefore, this opening phrase is the poetic couplet which correlates to “rebelled against My Torah” (v.1). Some of our ancient rabbis rightly interpret this as “Israel has cast off and rejected God (Good Himself).”
“an enemy will pursue him.” This correlates to the “eagle” who is to come against all Israel including Judah and Benjamin. In fact there is a progression of eagles through Assyria (against the northern tribes) and on to Babylon (taking Judah and Benjamin into exile).
4 Heim They himlichu have set up kings ve’lo mimeniy that did not come from Me; heisiyru they appointed princes ve’lo yadaetiy not known by Me. Kaspam With silver uzehavam and gold asu they make lahem for themselves atzabiym idols/images lema’an for the purpose of yikareit cutting themselves off.
“They have set up kings that did not come from Me”
“They” refers to the northern tribes and the “kings” are all the kings of the north from Jeroboam I onward. Jeroboam I having set the stage for the idolatry of the north by setting up the calf idols of Bethel and Dan (1 Kings 12:25-33). The evidence that the kings did not “come from” (were not established) by God is manifest in their idolatrous and unrepentant behaviour. This is not to say that God was not in control but that He allowed their disobedience for a greater redemptive purpose.
Jeroboam I was allowed by the will of God to become king of the northern tribes, but was nonetheless crowned by the people without the express instruction of God, and without His counsel being sought by either rulers or people. God allowed but did not consent to the crowning of Jeroboam I. Therefore, the appointment of Jeroboam I was on the heads of the people themselves.
Many of Jeroboam’s (I) successors were conspirators, who set themselves up without the consent of either God or the people of the northern tribes. They plotted to overthrow others, and reigned after slaughtering them. This is true of Shallum, Menahem, Pekah, and Hoshea (the king, not the prophet).
Further still, the people of Israel had no right to choose a king for themselves; the right belonged to God alone; it was He that chose and appointed the kings of all Israel (Deut. 17:15): Saul, David, and Solomon, were all chosen and appointed by YHVH (1 Samuel 10:24).
The people of the north brought curse on all the kings of the northern tribes through their rejection of the line of David. By rejecting the throne of David they rejected the greater Son of David, the King Who was to come, the King Messiah.
“What share do we have in David?
We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse;
To your tents, Israel!
Now look after your own house, David!” -1 Kings 12:16 (NIV)
Jeroboam I had built up Shechem as his residence. Thus the connection to the rebuke of Hosea levelled against those practicing acts of perversity on their way to Shechem (Hosea 6:9).
“they appointed princes not known by Me” Here “known” does not negate knowledge of the princes, rather it reveals the fact that there was not an intimate connection between them and YHVH as there had been with Solomon and David. The key is that the princes were “appointed” by apostate people and not by God.
“With silver and gold they make for themselves idols/images for the purpose of cutting themselves off.” Their idolatry results in self-harm. Practically speaking idolatry makes waste of things which God has purposed for use while turning useful things into waste.
Isaiah another contemporary of Hosea, says:
“They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he makes it a god: they fall down, yes, they worship.” -Isaiah 46:6
5 Zanach Cast off, reject, spurn egleich your calf-idol Shomeron (Samaria, guarding/watch mountain) [alt. “Your calf-idol has been cast off Samaria” or "Your calf has cast you off"]! Charah Fury burns apiy in My nostrils bam against them. Ad-matay How long will they lo yuchelu refuse to overcome nikayon with innocence?
“Cast off, reject, spurn your calf-idol Samaria!” This connects the apostate kingship of the north through Jeroboam I to the calf idols established by him in the territory of Samaria in the towns of Bethel and Dan (1 Kings 12:28-33). It is worth noting that upon setting up these calf idols Jeroboam I had spoken the same words Aaron had spoken when setting up the calf deity at Sinai.
“So the king Jeroboam I consulted, and he made two golden calves; and he said to the people, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt.’” -1 Kings 12:28
This can be read as “Your calf-idol has been cast off Samaria” or "Your calf has cast you off" Kimkhi and Ben Melekh understand this to mean that the false god has left the northern tribes in the lurch, it has forsaken them, and has removed itself. It can also mean that the calf will be carried away. In fact that is exactly what Hosea prophecies, indicating that the king of Assyria will do so (Hosea 10:5).
“Fury burns in My nostrils against them. How long will they refuse to overcome with innocence? The mention of snorting nostrils in the Hebrew denotes intimate fury. There is heartbreak in the expression and a sense of incredulity, though God is not capable of the human response, it is meant to be viewed with incredulity by the hearer/reader. A shocking indictment. Israel, knowing the way of innocence revealed through covenant and Torah, nonetheless wilfully refuse it to their own harm.
6 Kiy For miYisrael from Israel vehu charash asahu he (the calf idol) is made by a craftsman; ve’lo and it is not elohiym a god/judge. Hu he (the calf idol) kiy-shevaviym will be splintered, powdered yihyeh it will happen egel to that calf of Shomeron (Samaria, guarding/watch mountain).
“For it was Israel’s doing; It was only made by a joiner, It is not a god. No, the calf of Samaria shall be reduced to splinters!” -Hosea 8: 6 Sefaria translation
“For from Israel he (the calf idol) is made by a craftsman.” This is an important phrase which emphasizes the fact that the calf idol is not an assimilated deity from the Canaanites or from other foreign cults but is an invention of Israel, from Sinai to Samaria (Bethel and Dan) the calf idol is the sole responsibility of Israel. The idea for the calf idol may have originally been borrowed from the Egyptians who had a cult that worshipped a living ox or cow, however the allusion here is to the fact that it was gold and silver of Israel moulded by a member of the northern tribes that was crafted into the calf idols of Bethel and Dan.
With prophetic irony the calf idol of which Jeroboam I had said “behold your gods…” is called “not a god!”
“he (the calf idol) will be splintered, it will happen to that calf of Shomeron (Samaria, guarding/watch mountain).” The calf idol, not a god, will provide no protection, it will not guard the mountain of guardians (Shomeron), it will be splintered like a breaking beam, pulverised into powder.
The commentator Yarchi says that in ancient Aramaic (Syriac) “shevaviym” signifies, beams, planks, and boards, and pieces of them falling as dust. The Targum and Ben Meleckh agree in accordance with rabbinical teaching. The inference being that the calf idol of Samaria will be ground to fine dust and the northern tribes made to drink it mixed with water just as the golden calf was ground to powder by Moses, and all those who sinned in it were made to drink the powder mixed with water. The symbolism of the act conveys the reality that idolatry is self-harm.
7 “Kiy For ruach a wind yizrau they have sown vesufatah and a whirlwind yiktzoru they will reap. Kamah eiyn-lo The standing grain does not tzemach bud, fruit; beliy wearing out it will not ya’aseh produce kemach flour. Ulay ya’aseh If perhaps it yields grain, zariym strangers yivlahu would swallow it down.
“For a wind they have sown and a whirlwind they will reap.” The wind produced by the voice of idolatrous worship has reaped the much greater whirlwind of God’s prophetic judgement at the hand of Assyria and then Babylon.
“The standing grain does not bud, fruit; wearing out it will not produce flour.” The grain barely grew tall enough to produce ears sufficient for grinding flour.
“If perhaps it yields grain, strangers would swallow it down.” Even if the crop were to produce grain the tribes of the north will not consume it, rather it will be eaten by the invading armies of Assyria.
8 Nivla Yisrael (overcomes in God/the Judge) is swallowed up; now she hayu has become bagoyim in the nations kichliy like a vessel eiyn-chefetz none delight in.
Like swallowed grain Israel (northern tribes) will be swallowed up by the invading Assyrian armies. As a result of her exile she will become known among the nations as a worthless vessel, a jug with cracks in it, a tool with a blunt edge, without value, devoid of purpose, and without place.
9 Kiy For they have alu gone up to Ashur (Assyria, a step) pere a wild donkey bodeid wandering alone. Efrayim (doubly fruitful) hitnu has hired herself out ahaviym to lovers.
A wild donkey wanders aimlessly and is vulnerable as prey to lions.
The kings (Ephraim) of the northern tribes have sought help from the Assyrians, paying them tribute (Menachem 2 kings 15:19, Hoshea 2 Kings 17:3) and courting their power like prostitutes trying to sleep their way to a position of higher social status and strength.
10 Gam Also kiy because yitnu they have hired themselves out bagoyim in the nations, now akabetzem they gather together. Vayacheilu and defile, pollute themselves me’at becoming a little thing mimasa from the burden Melekh of a king sariym of princes.
The gathering of the northern tribes refers to them being gathered for captivity. They intensify the fruit of their idolatrous sin and as a result are weakened and become subject to a king who is over many princes (an allusion to the king of Assyria Isaiah 10:8).
11 “Kiy-hirbah For Efrayim mizbechot has made many altars lachato for sin (offerings), hayu-lo which have become mizbechot altars lachato for sinning.
The northern kings, first inspired by Jeroboam’s (I) idolatrous act (calf idols), have syncretised the practice of sin offerings from the Torah with the altars of false gods and the worship of the calf idols. Thus the offerings that might have covered their sin have in fact become additional sin of an abhorrent nature.
How many “altars”, both physical and metaphorical, have been built in “Church” communities throughout the world? Altars built as places to repent and receive forgiveness for sin by connecting to the Gospel message, that have instead been turned into altars of sinful practice. The list is long:
· “Church” Buildings costing millions, while the people of the community struggle for work and the sick and poor go unaided
· Popular “Christian” music proliferated and profited from by secular record companies that own smaller “Christian” record labels. The money of believer’s being used to fund immoral secular agendas
· Famous pastors, prophets, authors and worship leaders, followed as heroes to the point of idolatry
· “Christian” psychology intended to help and mature believers, nonetheless fallen prey to secular psychological philosophies that contradict and distort the message of Scripture. Places where people come for help from godly men and women who should be pointing them to God’s strength in their time of need, but instead encourage them to trust in their own mental strength, and promise the self-empowerment to overcome (that empowerment being from the poisoned well of secular self-help doctrines
· The list goes on and on…
12 Echtov-lo I wrote for them kemov-ribov the many things Toratiy of my Instruction (Torah), zar nechshavu but they thought of them as a foreign thing.
Here God refers to His Torah which Israel had treated like the spiritual writings of another people, written in a foreign language, an alien thing that had no connection to them. They had spurned the love letter of the Creator to His creation, given to and through the nation Whom He had chosen and called to be a light to others.
“I constantly reprimand them through My prophets, and write for them the great things of My Law, but they are considered a strange thing.” -Rashi
13 Zivcheiy They offer sacrifices havhavay as gifts to Me, yizbechu they sacrifice vasar flesh vayocheilu and they eat it, YHVH (Mercy) the Lord lo does not ratzam accept them.
The offered sacrifices may have included offerings which were to be eaten only by the priests (Levites)[Lev. 6:24-26]. These offerings were apparently being eaten by those who should not eat them. Additionally it is possible that the priests were acting in a similar way to the sons of Eli, taking the fat that should have been burned as the LORD’s portion, and instead eating it themselves (1 Samuel 2:15-17).
Of course, the priests of the north included men from tribes other than Levi, meaning that all offerings brought to God by them were apostate based on the requirements of the Torah.
Ultimately, the reason the offerings were not accepted was because there was no genuine repentance, no real willingness to obey YHVH.
“21 This is what the Lord of armies, the God of Israel says: “Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat flesh. 22 For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them on the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23 But this is [h]what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you shall walk [i]entirely in the way which I command you, so that it may go well for you.’ 24 Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked by their own advice and in the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and they [j]went backward and not forward.” -Jeremiah 7:21-24 (NIV)
Now yizkor he will remember avonam their perverse depravities. Veyifkod and visit chatotam their sins (missing the mark, uncleanness, offenses) upon them: Hemah They yashuvu Mitzrayim will return to Egypt (double distress).
God is just and must punish perversity. The disobedience of Israel will result in a return to bondage (Egypt) for the purpose of discipline and return to God.
14 Vayishkach Yisrael And Israel (overcomes in God/the Judge) has forgotten, ignored, wilfully turned from et-Oseihu their specific Maker vayiven and built heiychalot temples (to false gods);
The Targum reads “and built temples to idols”.
No one forgets a lover except by wilful avoidance. Israel had turned her back on her Husband (YHVH), Who was also her Creator. Like an adulterous and hateful wife she had sought other lovers (idolatry).
Israel (the northern tribes) had sought strength in other gods (idolatry).
Y’hudah (praise) hirbah has become great, multiplying ariym betzurot fenced cities (excitement). Veshilachtiy-eish But I will send fire be’arayv in his cities ve’achelah and devour armenoteyah the palaces.”
Where Israel (the northern tribes) had sought strength in other gods (idolatry), Judah had trusted in his own strength (idolatry). But fire from God would devour them and burn away the weak strength of those temporary things they had trusted in. Historically speaking Jerusalem would be burned by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon (Jeremiah 52:13).
Messiah follower, do we pass judgement on those who worship idols while trusting in our own intellect, physical strength, talents, finances, emotional intelligence, qualifications, righteousness? If so, we are hypocrites and idolaters.
Copyright 2021 Yaakov Brown
Unlike the created elements (which cry out for the revealing of the sons and daughters of God [Romans 8:19]), human beings are prone to disobedience. Thus, the heavens and the earth shame us with their willing and prompt obedience to the command of God.
Having rebuked Babylon, HaShem now turns to His chosen people in their captivity. His message is an intimate challenge, a fierce rebuke and a promise of a redemptive act of grace. He does not prophecy Israel’s deliverance as a reward for her righteousness. To the contrary, He calls out her sin and her stubborn self-destructive behaviour, concluding in the end that it is for the sake of His own Name (Because the redemption of humanity relies on His Name being honoured) that He will deliver her from captivity.
Isa 48:1 Shimu-zot Listen, hear, understand, obey this, Beit-Yaakov house of Jacob (follower), Ha-nikraiym the called be’sheim in/by the name Yisrael (Israel: overcome in God), u’mimeiy and waters of Yehudah (Judah: praise) yatza’u come forth; who ha-nishbaiym make oaths be’sheim in/by the name of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), u’veiloheiy and in the God of Yisrael, but yazkiru lo you call not ve’emet out in truth, ve’lo and not vitzadakah in righteousness, right action, charity.
“Hear and receive this message house of followers, those called out to overcome in God, and you waters of praise, come forth; you who make oaths in the Name of Mercy Himself, and according to the Judge of those who overcome in God, but you don’t call out in truth, nor in righteousness.” -Author’s paraphrase
The general theme of this opening verse correlates to words formerly prophesied by Isaiah:
“So Adonai says,
“Since these people draw near with their mouths
and honour Me with their lips,
yet their hearts are far from Me,
and their fear of Me is a mitzvah taught by men.” -Isaiah 29:13 (TLV)
Israel is guilty of professing a connection to HaShem while acting in an entirely contrary way. “Among the nations My Name because of you…” (Isaiah 52:5; Romans 2:24).
Israel (ethnic, religious) is instructed to “Shimu” listen, hear and receive the truth of God’s word to her through the prophet Isaiah.
Three names are given for Israel, each showing a step in both the physical and spiritual growth of the nation. Yaakov the follower of God meets the “Man” with Whom he wrestles and from Whom he eventually receives the blessing of redemption, thus becoming Yisrael, the one who overcomes in God. Following the division of the northern and southern kingdoms and the exile, first of the ten tribes and subsequently of Judah (& Benjamin), the entirety of the tribes (all 12) would inevitably return to the land under the title of Yehudiym (Jews). This is one of the primary reasons for the allusion to the waters of Yehudah (Judah), who come forth from Babylon and return to the land of Israel, the twelve tribes united under the name of the tribe from which the King Messiah was prophesied to come.
“The scepter will not pass from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until He to Whom it belongs will come.
To Him will be the obedience of the peoples.” -Bereishit (Genesis) 49:10 (TLV)
HaShem is calling Yaakov to follow Him out of captivity in Babylon (confusion). He is calling Yisrael to remember that only in God can she overcome. He is reminding Yehudah that the tribes of Yisrael have been split and exiled but that HaShem will reconcile them under the tribe and King of Yehudah. HaShem calls Yehudah to offer praise for all that He has done in her, so that the world might know that the God of Yehudah, of Yisrael and of Yaakov is One, Creator and King of the universe.
“Who make oaths in/by the name of HaShem, and in the God of Yisrael, but you do not call out in truth, nor in righteousness.”
The Hebrew ha-nishbaiym meaning, the solemn requesting of sevens (oaths, completions, fullness) comes from the root sheva (seven). The exiled Jews were invoking oaths on themselves in God’s Name and expecting to reap favourably results through said oaths, while living sinful, Godless lives, even in their captivity. The writer is making it clear from the beginning that it is not for Israel’s sake that God will deliver her but rather for the sake of His Name, which He has placed upon the people of Israel.
Yeshua says to the religious leaders of Israel in the 1st century CE:
“Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
‘These people honour me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’” -Mark 7:5-7 (TLV)
Isa 48:2 Kiy Because (for) mei’iyr a city (alt. from anguish) ha-kodesh the holy nikra’u they call themselves, ve’al and upon the Eloheiy God of Yisrael nismachu they rest; HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot Who goes warring (of hosts) shemo is His name:
This is the first time in the Tanakh that Jerusalem is referred to as “The Holy City”. The post exilic prophet Nehemiah later affirms the title (Nehemiah 11:1).
In one sense the text is saying that the exiles identify themselves with the Holy city of God, while in another sense the text literally says that they consider themselves to be a Holy city. In both cases pride is the mitigating factor.
The city of Jerusalem, is called the Holy city because the temple of HaShem is located there, God had placed His Name there, thus, it is considered the residence of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore, the exiles of both Judah and the remaining tribes (Israel) considered themselves, not only children of Jacob, and of the tribe of Judah, but as inhabitants of Jerusalem, the holy city, both literally and figuratively. Given the extent of Israel’s sin at this point in her history, her claims show great hubris and a sad lack of repentance. However, while God’s children may dishonour and reject Him, He is none the less incapable of dishonouring or rejecting His children.
It seems that in spite of their sinful behaviour they have none the less continued to pay God lip service, even to the extent of resting on the belief that He will redeem them regardless. However, the God Who goes warring (Adonai Tzevaot), will remind Israel yet again of the fact that He disciplines the ones He loves. Thus, in freeing her He will also discipline her both on her way back to the land and in the land upon her return.
“The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet they lean upon HaShem, and say, Is not HaShem in the midst of us? no evil shall come upon us.” -Micah 3:10
Isa 48:3 Ha-rishonot The former (heads of) things mei-az from time (of old) past higadtiy I have declared; u-mipiy and from My mouth yatzeu they went forth, ve-ashmiyeim and I caused them to be heard: suddenly asiytiy I fashioned, accomplished, did them, and they came to pass.
“The former (heads of) things from time (of old) past I have declared”. God had declared from the beginning of the people of Israel, from the head of the Hebrews, our father Abraham, to whom God spoke of what would come; that we would sojourn in Egypt, the land of double distress, be enslaved there, and come out in freedom with great wealth: being brought into the land of Kena’an (Canaan: lowland, humility), toppling the inhabitants and driving them out (albeit ineffectively due to our sin)[Gen. 15:13].
“And from My mouth they went forth, and I caused them to be heard…” These things were told to Abraham by the Word of God’s mouth and were passed on to the subsequent generations of the father of faith both in blood and in spirit.
“Suddenly I fashioned, accomplished, did them, and they came to pass.” Historically speaking, what God had promised to Abraham, He did quickly, and all that was prophesied came to pass precisely as it was foretold; not one thing which HaShem had spoken into time and space, failed (Joshua 21:45).
In part this is the Godly counterpoint to the Godless invocation of blessing. Where Israel had invoked undeserved blessing, contemptuously, God had none the less previously promised blessing and fully filled it (Sheva: complete, full, seven).
Isa 48:4 Because I knew that you are kasheh obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew, and your forehead brass;
A twofold pride is alluded to here. The neck of iron elevates the head, both literally and figuratively, meaning that both the individual and the leaders of the community (therefore, the community as a whole) were prideful in their self-assessment and in their assessment of the nation. Additionally, the forehead of brass infers spiritual pride. The forehead bore the symbol of prayer (Head Tefillin) and denoted the cleansing of the Word (Torah). However, the brass forehead of the exiles was unable to receive the Word (which resided in the Tefillin) because their minds were closed off to God. They were simply reciting tropes, mindless incantations devoid of practiced Godly spirituality.
Iben Ezra says that “the second person refers to those Israelites who do not believe in God”. However, the prophet does not make this distinction. After all, it is quite possible for a person to believe in God and yet exhibit pride and ignorance in relating to God and others.
“You believe that God is one, great: the evil spirits have the same belief, and tremble in fear.” -Yaakov (James) 2:19
Isa 48:5 Va’agid And it was made conspicuous to you meiaz from of old; be’terem before tavo it came to pass hishmaticha I made it heard by you; lest you should say, ‘Atzebiy My idol asam has fashioned, accomplished, done them, ufisliy and my carved image, ve’niskiy and my molten image, tzivam has commanded them.’
Hundreds of years before the nation of Israel existed, HaShem had spoken of their journey as a people, first to Abraham, then Isaac and eventually in the midst of them He spoke through Moses and the prophets. Thus, “From of old”, and long “before it came to pass”. Why? So that the accurate prophecies of God could not be claimed by the false gods that Israel had turned to. The Israelites could not deny the evidence of God’s faithfulness, provided throughout their generations.
“My idol fashioned them” is the false claim that acts as a counterpoint to the truth of HaShem’s statement that He “fashioned them” (v.3). The Hebrew asam (fashioned etc.) is from the root asah meaning to make (out of something pre-existing).
“My molten image commanded them” is the false claim that acts as a counterpoint to HaShem’s statement, “I have declared; and from My mouth they went forth”.
Isa 48:6 Shamata You have heard; chazeh behold culah all this; ve-atem and you (plural), ha-lo will you not tagidu declare it? hishmaticha I made it heard by you, chadashot new things meiatah from now, u-netzurot even guarded (hidden) things, which you have not yedatam known.
Israel has not merely heard, but has been made well aware of the miraculous deliverances of God. Each generation has witnessed His proclamations, miracles and fulfilments. Now (in the preceding chapters) Isaiah has prophesied the destruction of the Babylonian empire, and the deliverance of the Jews by Cyrus; things that have not yet come to pass, which were hidden in the mind of God, and unknown to Israel prior to the prophesies of Isaiah.
Isa 48:7 Now they are nivreu created, and not from of old; velifneiy-yom and before the face of this day you had not heard of them; lest you should say, ‘Hineih Behold, yedatiyn I knew them.’
“They are created”. The new, redemptive events being prophesied are not made (asah) from things pre-existing, rather God is creating (bara) them from that which has not yet been accomplished. In other words, this is an affirmation of the fact that God continues to participate within His creation in order to bring about the perfection of His redemptive purposes for Israel and humanity through His Son the King Messiah Yeshua. Due to the newness of what God will do, no one can claim to have known of it beforehand. We must remember that at the time these words were prophesied Cyrus had not yet been born, thus, these new things could not possibly have been fathomed by Israel.
Isa 48:8 Gam Also, lo-shamata you didn’t hear; gam also, lo yadata you didn’t know; gam also, meiaz from of old lo-fitechah azenecha your ear was not opened: kiy yadatiy for I knew you bagod tivgod to be deceitful in thought and action, ufosheia and a rebel mibeten from the womb this is what you were called.
This is a rebuke that exposes the extreme lack of faith and expectation among the idolatrous Israelites. Not only did they fail to listen, they also lacked the basic faith to receive what the prophets told them because they had placed their faith in foreign gods. God knew that they would reject His love and would rebel against Him, even from their inception as a nation.
Isa 48:9 Le-ma’an For the sake Shemiy of My Name, will I defer apiy My flaring nostrils (anger), utehilatiy and for My praise (renown) I will refrain for you, so that I don’t cut you off.
“For My Name’s sake” is quite literally the case. Yisra-El literally contains a name for God “El”. The name of the people Yisra (overcome) El (God), conveys the redemptive plan of God for humanity. Thus, because the very salvation of the repentant relies on the integrity and honour of God’s Name, He must show Himself faithful in spite of Israel’s faithlessness. Therefore, God will never completely cut off the Jewish people. Not because we are perfect, nor because we chose Him, but because He is faithful and chose us.
Isa 48:10 Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, I have refined you, but not ve-kasef as silver; becharticha I have chosen, elected, decided on you be’chur in the furnace of oniy affliction, misery, poverty.
“Behold, I have refined thee, but not in the crucible of silver; I tried thee in the distress of poverty.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“I have refined you by the exile” -Iben Ezra
“I have refined you by taking away the dross, that is, the wicked” -Iben Ezra
We note that the Hebrew in its plainest sense does not speak of trying Israel in affliction but rather of choosing Israel in her affliction. It is the choosiness of Israel that is accentuated because of the One Who chose her and not because she has learned obedience from her having been tried. The rebuke of the earlier verses makes this abundantly clear. In spite of her captivity she has still yet to learn her lesson in regard to God’s redemptive love for her.
Having said this, it is clear from the figurative language that Israel is being refined for several reasons. First and foremost, so as to bring the attention of the nations toward the God Who alone can offer deliverance from sin, and second, to show that God disciplines and refines those He loves. He remains faithful even when His people are unfaithful.
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful,
for He cannot disown Himself.” -2 Timothy 2:13
Isa 48:11 Le’ma’aniy For My sake, le’ma’aniy for My purpose, I will e’eseh fashion, accomplish, do it; for how should my name be yechal profaned, defiled, polluted, desecrated? U-chevodiy And My glory I will not give to another.
“For my name's sake, for the sake of my Word, that it may not be profaned, I will do it, and my glory in which I have revealed myself unto you, I will not give to another people.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
It is for the sake of both the Name of HaShem (Mercy) and the application of His work (The Messiah), that HaShem will not allow His Name to be profaned, nor will He give the glory due Him to another.
Interestingly, the Targum illuminates the Davar (Word, logos, Messiah), and attaches the revelation of God’s glory to the people of Israel, saying that God will not allow His glory to be made manifest in this particular way on any other people. This understanding is consistent with the Scripture as a whole, and provides a platform for better understanding the intrinsic link between God’s coming Kingdom and the Temple Mount.
Isa 48:12 Shema Hear, receive, obey, listen to Me, Yaakov (follower), and Yisrael (Overcome in God) mekoraiy My called: Ani-hu I am He; I am rishon first, also I am acharon that which follows perpetually (the last, the goal).
Again God calls Israel by several prophetic titles that reveal both her physical and spiritual journey. Yaakov the follower and Yisrael the overcomer are reminded of the calling of the chosen people and of the One Who called her.
“I am the first and the perpetual goal”. The Hebrew rishon (first) is related to rosh (head) and denotes God’s Kingship (Headship) over all things as well as alluding figuratively to the King Messiah as head over the body of believers. God is not only the uncreated beginning of all things, He is also the perpetual goal and continuation of all things (Rev. 1:8). It appears that God describes Himself in these terms through the prophet in order to remind Israel that He is the Creator of the universe and that His choosing of her is part of a much grander plan for the redemption of the repentant from among all of humanity.
Isa 48:13 Af Surely, yadiy my hand yasedah founded, established, laid the foundation of eretz earth, viymiyniy and my right hand has spread out shamayim the heavens: when I call to them, ya’amdu they stand up yachdav together, in union.
“By wisdom Adonai founded the earth.
By understanding He established the heavens.” -Proverbs 3:19 (TLV)
“My hand established the earth, and My right hand has spread out the heavens.” (Isaiah 40:12) The hand of God is a figure for strength and the right hand the multiplication of power. Iben Ezra and Kimchi interpret the creation of the earth of the left hand, and the work of the heavens they ascribe to the right hand; inferring that the heavens are of greater importance due to them being the perceived dwelling place of God, Who is outside of all things (Vid. T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 36. 2.). However, this is a distinction without a difference given that God is uncreated and that the heavens and the earth are both created entities within the universe that exists in God. Therefore, the debate between Hillel and Shaminai over which came first, the earth or the heavens, is redundant, for as R. Simeon ben Yochai rightly observes, according to the text, they were both created together (Vid. T. Bab. Chagigah, fol. 12. 1.).
“When I call to them they stand up together in union.” The personification of the created order serves to remind the reader that God commands all things in the same way that He commands humanity. However, unlike the created elements (which cry out for the revealing of the sons and daughters of God [Romans 8:19]), human beings are prone to disobedience. Thus, the heavens and the earth shame us with their willing and prompt obedience to the command of God. In addition, the created elements respond in union to the command of God: they show distinction devoid of separation. They are united in essence while unashamedly maintaining their uniqueness.
Isa 48:14 Assemble yourselves, chulechem all of you, u-shamau and listen, hear, receive, understand; who among them has declared these things? HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has loved him, ya’aseh has fashioned, accomplished, made cheftzo his desire be’va’vel on Babylon (Bavel: confusion), and his arm against the Kasdiym (Chaldeans: increasers).
HaShem calls the collective captives of Israel and Judah together to hear and receive the truth of His words.
“Who among them has declared these things?” Which of all the idols has been capable of the kind of prophecy God has displayed? This is of course rhetorical, the answer is “None!” “These things”, are the prophesied events that concern the redemption and salvation of Israel.
“HaShem has loved him, He has fashioned, accomplished, made his desire on Babylon, and his arm against the Chaldeans.” Who is the “him”? First, in the plain sense of the text and with deference to the historical context, the “him” is the yet to be born Cyrus of Persia. Second, and in respect of the perpetual nature of Hebrew prophecy, the “Him” is a figurative allusion to the Messiah and His redemptive work that frees all who will turn to Him from confusion (Babylon).
Isa 48:15 Aniy Aniy I, even I, dibartiy I have spoken; af indeed, keratiyv I have called; haviy’otiyv I have brought him, ve’hitzliach and successful, prosperity, advancement to his darko way, road, distance, journey.
The emphatic doubling of “Aniy” (I, Me, I am), is intended to convey the certainty of what is going to happen. HaShem has brought Cyrus to affect the deliverance of Israel, and therefore, will prosper the work of Cyrus in spite of the fact that Cyrus was a heathen king (albeit a king whose heart became soft toward the God of Israel and the plight of the Jewish people).
Isa 48:16 Kir’vu Come near, draw close eilay to Me, shimu-zot you, hear, listen, receive this (f.); lo not meirosh from the head (beginning) ba’seiter in hiding, covering, shelter, secrecy have I spoken ba’seiter; from the time it came to pass, there Aniy I am: and now the Adonaiy Lord HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) shelachaniy has sent me, ve’rucho and His Spirit.
“Draw near to Me.” This intimate phrase requests a greater depth of communication. God is seeking a face to face meeting as it were.
“I have not spoken in secret from the head (beginning).” This is intended to call Israel to account. They have witnessed God’s prophetic word and His miraculous deliverances throughout their generations. Therefore, they are without excuse. As the text states, He has not hidden His word from them.
“I am: and now the Lord HaShem has sent me, and His Spirit.” All the linguistic and interpretational gymnastics in the world cannot change the plain meaning of this verse. It is HaShem that is speaking, therefore, it cannot be Cyrus who speaks the latter clause. The “I am” is God, how then can God send Himself? The text says, “I am: and now YHVH has sent me”, this finds a correlation in the words of David, “The YHVH said to my Lord…” (Psalm 110:1). Cyrus did not bring with him the Spirit of HaShem, rather he was spurred on by God’s Spirit. There is only one person who qualifies for the role of being sent in the way described here: Yeshua the King Messiah. He qualifies because He is both God with us Imanu-El, and the One through Whom God imparts His Spirit to the Jew first and also to the nations. Thus, in the middle of a prophecy of near future deliverance for the Jewish captives in Babylon, HaShem also seeds a prophecy for the yet future deliverance of the Jewish people from the confusion (Babylon) of sin.
Isa 48:17 Thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), Goal’cha your Kinsman Redeemer, the Kedush Yisrael Holy One of Israel: I am HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Eloheycha your God, me’lamedcha Who teaches you le’hoiyl to profit, benefit you, mad’riychacha who leads you be’derek in the way teilech you go.
This incredible list of titles for God must bring the reader to attention. God makes known some of His primary attributes and characteristics in these beautiful names. He is demanding the attention of Israel and of all humanity.
YHVH – Mercy
Goel – Kinsman Redeemer
Kedush Yisrael – Holy One of Israel (those who overcome in God)
YHVH Eloheycha – Mercy your Judge
Always, His Mercy precedes His judgement. He offers Himself as Redeemer. He reminds Israel and the world that He is the God of Israel (ethnic, religious). Finally, He shows Mercy to the repentant and brings judgement against the wicked.
HaShem also takes on the role of Israel’s teacher. This He does for her benefit. He leads Israel be’derek in the Way she should go.
Isa 48:18 Lu If only hikshavta you had heard, heeded, hearkened to My lemitzvotay commandments (instruction to right action)! Then chanahar like a river shelomecha your peace, wholeness, well-being would have been, ve’tzidkatecha and your righteousness kegaleiy as the billowing waves of ha-yam the sea (body of water):
It is because of Israel’s disobedience that she found herself in captivity. If Israel had obeyed the instruction of HaShem and kept His commandments, she would not have been enslaved and afflicted.
There is a spiritual principal here for all believers. If we love Him and keep His commandments we will reap rivers of peace, wholeness and well-being, and as a result we will impart righteousness, our right action will flow forth from His presence in us and will be like billowing waves, powerfully shifting the ocean of life.
Isa 48:19 Zarecha Your seed (sowing) also had been as the sand, ve’tze’etza’eiy and the offspring (issue) of mei’echa your womb (internal organs) like the grains of sand: lo yikareit not cut off ve’lo yishamed and not destroyed shemo his name, from before Me.
Israel’s population had diminished in captivity due to her disobedience. However, God will not cut off the name of Israel from before Him. Why? Because His Own great Name is on her.
Isa 48:20 Go forth mibavel from Babylon (confusion), flee mikasdiym from the Chaldeans (increasers); be’kol in a voice rinah ringing out, crying out, hagiydu make known, hashmiyu zot convey this (f.), utter it even ad ketzeh to the furthest extremity of ha-aretz the earth (The Land): you should say, ‘HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has ga’al redeemed avdo His servant Yaakov (follower, Jacob).
“Go forth out of confusion, flee from increasing; in a voice that cries out, make known in murmur and in volume, to the extremities of the earth: say, ‘Mercy Himself has redeemed His servant the follower (Yaakov, Israel).’” – Author’s paraphrase
Even before her captivity, and in retrospect during her captivity, Israel hears and reads the promise of her redemption: Mercy precedes Judgement.
Note that the prior verse says, “The name of Israel (ethnic, religious) will not be cut off from before Me.” And, the current verse, “HaShem has (past tense) redeemed Israel (ethnic, religious).” God is zealous for His chosen people Israel, fierce in His love for her, and His promise of redemption is spoken in the past tense because from His perspective it has already been accomplished and has come about in the eternal present.
Isa 48:21 And they did not thirst bochoravot in the deserts, desolations, waste lands holicham when He led them; He caused mayim waters to flow mitzur from the rock for them; vayika-tzur He split, divided, broke the rock also, vayazuvu and gushed out mayim waters.
As is so often the case, HaShem reminds Israel of His provision for her as she came out of Egyptian bondage. In the plain sense the prophet is speaking of a correlation in the provision God would bring to those escaping from Babylon and returning to the Land of Israel, and the historical journey of Israel in her escape from Egyptian bondage.
The use of the specific symbol of waters is significant. Messiah is the Mayim Chayim (Living waters) of God. The use of the symbolism of the rock is also important. God is the Rock of Israel’s security. Thus, the living waters of the Messiah flow forth from God our Rock. Notice also that allusion is made to the splitting of the Rock. The Rock Himself suffered the pain of redemptive sacrifice in order to offer the waters of living to His people.
Isa 48:22 ‘Eiyn shalom There is no peace, wholeness, well-being,’ says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), ‘la’reshaiym to the wicked, criminal, one hostile to God, guilty one.’
Finally, a strong warning to those who might reject God’s loving redemptive offer. First to the Jews and also to the nations (in this case, specifically Babylon).
“There is no peace, wholeness or well-being given to the wicked, those who reject God’s love.” Why? Is it because God is punitive? Of course not! What is the result when one person rejects the love offered by another, and subsequently walks away from them and seeks out a lifestyle of self-abuse and torment? In this case, is the person who offered the love guilty of sending the one who rejected it into torment? Of course not! Torment results when we refuse genuine love for the sake of selfish gain. God is just, and therefore, there must be a place of punishment. He is also loving and merciful, therefore, He offered Himself as a substitute for us so that we might be freed from the punishment we deserve. However, if we refuse His offer of substitution and the love that goes with it, it is not His fault. Love cannot exist without free will. Therefore, God does not send people to eternal punishment, rather, those who end in perpetual torment have chosen to be there.
Such is the hatred, pride and wickedness of Satan, that if he were offered a place in the world to come, providing he submitted to the love and governance of God, he would refuse outright, why? Because he wants to be King without it costing him anything. On the other hand, God is King, and has willingly paid an incomparable price to set His subjects free, a cost paid in His own blood: making it possible for His subjects to become His sons and daughters. Satan seeks to subjugate, God seeks to dwell alongside, Satan seeks to promote himself, God seeks to promote love. Satan fails, God has already succeeded.
© 2019 Yaakov Brown
When we place our trust in the implementation of immoral legislation and seek entertainment in the den of witchcraft, we are no better than that wicked ancient nation Babylon (confusion).
At the time it was first spoken (By Isaiah) and recorded (by Isaiah’s scribe) Isaiah 47 was prophetic of the near future. It is now also a description of history, because the events of Babylon’s demise alluded to in this portion of the scroll of Isaiah literally came to pass (Twice in close succession ref. Cyrus and Darius). Finally, it remains prophetically future, because Revelation 17 & 18 describe a similar destruction that is yet to come upon a revived Babylonian empire in the latter days. Thus, the reality of the nature of Biblical Hebrew prophecy is illuminated yet again. Biblical Hebrew prophecy is God speaking into time and space that which He has already seen complete outside of time and space. Therefore, within time and space Hebrew prophecy appears to take on a cyclical nature. From our purview it is rarely fulfilled once, to the contrary, almost every Biblical Hebrew prophecy has and will have multiple fulfillments within the time and space bound journey of human history.
Isa 47:1 Rediy Come down, sink down, descend usheviy and sit, dwell, remain al in, upon afar ashes, rubbish, dust, betulat virgin bat daughter Bavel (Babylon, confusion); sheviy sit, dwell, remain la-aretz on the land eiyn-kisei without a throne, Bat-kasdiym daughter Chaldea (increasing)! Kiy For, because lo no more tosifiy will you increase (be added to), yikreu lach you will be called rakah weak, tender va-anugah and delicate.
“Descend and remain in garbage virgin daughter confusion; remain sitting on the ground without any power, daughter of those who increase their wealth at the expense of others. For you will no longer increase your holdings and power, you will be called weak and delicate, vulnerable.” -Authors paraphrase
“Descend and sit in the dust, kingdom of the congregation of Babylon; sit on the ground, there is no throne of glory, kingdom of the Chaldeans; for thou shalt no more be called
tender and delicate.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The poetic allusions to virginity and youth are meant to convey the idea that Babylon as a super power, had stood for some time unchallenged and therefore, figuratively speaking had not been deflowered, that is, had its power taken from it.
In order to build a platform for avoiding the miraculous virgin birth of the Messiah, many modern Jewish commentators translate the Hebrew Betulat as “fair maiden, young woman etc.” However, with regard to the scroll of Isaiah, our ancient rabbis have always understood Betulah to refer to a virgin (a young woman “that has not been deflowered”-Iben Ezra) in the context of Isaiah. In referencing the current verse, Iben Ezra writes:
“Babylon is like a virgin…”
Additionally, the rabbis who translated the Hebrew text of Isaiah into Greek as part of the Greek version of the Tanakh (OT), the Septuagint, chose the Greek word “Parthenos”, meaning, a marriageable maiden, one who has never had intercourse, a virgin etc.
Babylon would lose her throne to Cyrus and Darius, kings of Persia. Thus she would remain in the dust (close to the earth) and no longer dwell at the height of her power on her throne (elevated, close to the sky). This stark contrast in poetic imagery conveys the prominent Biblical truth, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”(Yaakov 4:6)
The Hebrew Kasdiym (Chaldeans) is a plural that comes from the root kesed (increase) and literally means “increasing, increasers”. Thus, the poetic irony of the latter part of verse 1. The daughter of increasers will no longer increase.
Revelation 18 details the fall of the yet future Babylon, head of the beast (empire) that opposes God and His tsaddikim (righteous ones, saints). The future Babylon, like the ancient one, will be both literal and spiritual, a world leader in opposition to God and his people Israel (ethnic, religious), and like its ancient seed, it too will be destroyed, this time, never to rise again.
Isa 47:2 Take rechayim millstones and grind kamach meal flour, galiy put off your veil, chespiy-shovel strip off your robe, galiy uncover shok your thigh, ivriy pass through neharot rivers.
“Receive this calamity and go into servitude; put away the glory of thy kingdom, thy princes are overthrown, the people of thy armies are scattered, they have vanished away like waters of the river.” - Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
To work with millstones was the job of the servants and handmaids, thus the mighty will fall and become servants and slaves.
The uncovering of the thigh and exposing of the private parts is both a literal description of the raping of women by invaders and a figurative allusion to the deflowering of the kingdom which had been so proud of it’s political virginity.
The Targum rightly understands the stripping of the veil to be a figurative allusion to the removal of the crown of Babylon. Likewise, the stripping of the robe is seen as the removal of the princes and the revealing of the thigh, a figure for the removal of the armies of Babylon, leaving the femoral artery of the people (thigh) exposed.
The uncovering of the thigh may also be an allusion to the fact that in order to traverse the rivers as they flee, the Babylonians will have to hitch up their clothes exposing their thighs. The rivers in question being the Tigris and Euphrates.
Isa 47:3 Your ervatech nakedness will be uncovered, gam also cherpatech your disgrace, reproach, scorn will be seen. I will take vengeance, ve’lo and not efga make intercession for adam a man.
The rhyming Hebrew couplet “ervatech” (nakedness) and “cherpatech” (disgrace) emphasise the full extent of Babylon’s shame.
It is HaShem Who will take vengeance and will refuse to make intercession for those who have violated, abused, enslaved and murdered His chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious).
“Your disgrace will be seen” means that all of the known world will be made aware of Babylon’s demise.
The “Whore Babylon” of Revelation 17 will also be left naked and her flesh dined on by the ten rulers of the anti-Messiah empire. HaShem will take vengeance on that future Babylon, which is, and has always been the seat of Satanic power on earth (Rev. 18:20).
Isa 47:4 Goaleinu Our Kinsman Redeemer YHVH (HaShem: Mercy) the LORD Tzevaot Who goes warring (of hosts) shemo is His name--Kadosh Yisrael Holy One of Israel (Overcomes in God).
Both the prophet and all Israel interject with the words, “Our Kinsman Redeemer, Mercy Who goes warring is His Name, the Holy One of Israel.”
God is described as the Kadosh Yisrael, Holy One of Israel. He is the One Who kidush, sanctifies Israel.
Isa 47:5 Sheviy sit, dwell, remain dumam in silence, u’voiy and go va-choshekh into darkness, Bat-kasdiym daughter Chaldea (increasing); for you will lo no longer be called ge’veret mistress of mamlachot kingdoms.
“Remain in silence” means that Babylon will be defeated and remain a non-entity on the world stage for a very long period of time. This of course will come to a head in the latter days when Babylon will arise once more and meet her final destruction (Rev. 18).
“Go into darkness” is figurative of the literal imprisonment of the fleeing Babylonians, as well as a picture of Babylon’s ultimate spiritual destiny.
“No longer called mistress of kingdoms” This shows how far Babylon has fallen. We note that Babylon is referred to in the feminine and her punishment correlates to the Whore of Babylon, described in Revelation 17-18.
From a Jewish cultural perspective, sitting silently in darkness is associated with mourning. Thus, figuratively speaking, Babylon will go into deep mourning and will remain there.
Isa 47:6 I was angry with amiy My people; chilaltiy I profaned, made common nachalatiy My inheritance, heritage, possession; I gave them into your hand; you showed them no rachamiym mercies; upon the zakein ancient (old, aged) you placed your exceedingly heavy ulech yoke (teaching), burden.
“Amiy” Notice that HaShem continues to take ownership of Israel (ethnic, religious), even when she disobeys Him and He becomes angry with her. Thus, He uses the Hebrew “amiy”, people belonging to Me.
God had allowed Israel to be taken into captivity in order to discipline her, as a father disciplines the son whom He loves. Part of being a talmid (disciple) is discipline. Israel had sinned against God through idolatrous practices and hatred of His covenant with her, and by her refusal to keep the Torah He had given her. However, this did not mean that He saw Babylon as a righteous nation, to the contrary, the actions of the Babylonians had proved true to their character, born of the seat of Satanic power on earth.
“Chilaltiy I have polluted, profaned, defiled…” This is the counterpoint to the idolatrous and defiling, polluting, profanity of Israel. The chosen people had desecrated and compromised the cities of Israel by their actions and their rejection of God. Therefore, “I have polluted and made common My possession”. Notice yet again the ownership God takes of Israel, even in the midst of her hatred toward Him. He calls her “common” who was uncommonly chosen to be a light to the nations. This emphasises the depths of her sin and the need for her to repent and return to her true position as the chosen people of God reflecting His glory.
“I gave them into your hand…” God now addresses the Babylonians.
“You showed them no mercies…” God is by nature merciful, and requires those He employs to discipline His children to show due mercy in their dealings with Israel. Babylon, according to her Satanic root, showed no mercy, for she was and is the daughter of confusion (Bavel), the daughter of increasing darkness (Chaldea).
“You placed an exceedingly heavy burden, even on the elderly” The plain meaning revealing the depths of the Babylonian cruelty.
The Hebrew zakein can also be understood to refer to the entire nation of Israel, whose origin in God is ancient. Thus, we might read, “You placed an exceedingly (unjust) burden on the ancient people of God”.
“Ulech”, your yoke, can be understood literally but is also commonly understood to be a metaphor for a teaching: spiritual, philosophical etc. Thus, we can read, “You placed your own unbearable philosophy, religious belief, ideology on My ancient people”. In other words, the very Satanic ideology that had place Babylon under spiritual bondage, she sought to put onto God’s chosen people Israel. The irony being that Israel had sought out this bondage in spite of the love God had shown her.
Isa 47:7 You said, “Le-olam Forever (to worlds) I will be gevaret mistress,” so that you did not lay these things upon libech your heart (inner person), lo nor remember their end.
The Babylonian rulers considered themselves gods. They went by the title “King of kings”, a blasphemous claim equitable to El elyon “God over all other gods”. Note that the Hebrew text uses the feminine and exposes this arrogant claim according to ancient cultural norms by calling Babylon “gevaret” mistress rather than “Adon or Ba’al” lord, master. This is an intentional illumination of her subordinate status: exposing her delusional claims. Therefore, due to her self induced delusion, she is unable to lay the truth to heart, nor can she perceive the logical conclusion to her actions. Her power is temporary, her end is destruction.
The correlation between the present verse and Revelation 18:7 is incredible to say the least:
“As she has exalted herself and indulged herself in luxury,
so give her the same measure of torment and grief!
For in her heart she says,
‘I sit as a queen--
I am no widow;
I shall never see grief.’” -Revelation 18:7 (TLV) ref. Zephaniah 2:15
Isa 47:8 Ve’atah And you shimiy hear this, zot you adiynah lover of pleasures, hayoshevet who sit, dwell, remain la-vetach securely, who say bilvavah in your inner (collective) heart (inner being), “Ani I am, and there is no one besides me; I will not eshev sit, dwell, remain as an almanah widow or know the loss of children”:
The warning continues… Babylon’s arrogant claims and wicked actions provide evidence for the indictment being brought against her.
“Lover of pleasures” is an allusion to the practice of sexual immorality and other sensual sin (Rev. 18:4).
Describing of Babylon Curtius writes:
"no city was more corrupt in its manners, or furnished to irritate or allure to immoderate pleasures. Parents and husbands suffered their children and wives to prostitute themselves to strangers, so that they had but a price.'' -Curtius Hist. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 1.
Additionally, both Herodotus and Strabo describe a Babylonian practice that required women (by law) to prostitute themselves publicly (in the temple of Venus) at least once in their lifetime (Clio, sive l. 1. c. 199; Geograph. l. 16. p. 513.).
“Dwell securely” emphasises the fact that in her deluded sinful state Babylon truly believes herself to be “Mistress over all”. She is certain in her own eyes that she is invulnerable, never to suffer widowhood or lose her progeny to death. “After all” she thinks, “It is I who make the women of other nations widows and it is I who put their children to death”. Ref. Rev. 18:7.
Isa 47:9 These two things shall come to you in an instant, beyom echad in one day; the loss of children ve’almon and widowhood, ketumam fulness, completion will come upon you, in your many sorceries, and beatzemat in the great strength chavarayich meod of your exceedingly binding magic.
“But these two things shall come to thee, in an appointed time, in one day, loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection: notwithstanding the multitude of thy sorceries, notwithstanding the great strength of thine enchantments.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The two things mentioned in verse 8 will come upon Babylon by surprise and in an instant. She will suffer as a widow, and she will lose her children to death.
Babylon was quite literally bereaved of her king and all her royal household when Cyrus took the city in 539 BCE (Xenophon Cyropaedia, 1. 7. sect. 23.) Additionally, when Darius besieged Babylon (522), the occupants of the city “slew all their own women, wives, sisters, daughters, and all their children, reserving only one wife and maidservant to a man” (Dr. Prideaux Connexion, &c. part 1. B. 3. p. 188, 189.) Darius is said to have ordered three thousand of the principal inhabitants to be crucified.
The Hebrew text warns Babylon that, “The completion of your many sorceries (evils) will come upon you…” There is a direct correlation made between sorcery, witchcraft, and the death of husbands and children. The mishleiym (Proverbs) remind us that “An undeserved curse cannot land”, however, in the case of Babylon, the curse is deserved many times over. The curses she has prayed on others will come back upon her. The Chaldeans were famous for their witchcraft, sorcery etc. (Daniel 2:2).
Isa 47:10 Vativtechi You trusted ve-ra’atech in your evil; you said, “No one sees me”; your wisdom and your knowledge hiy she (they f.) shovatech has turned on you (perverted you, led you astray), and you said ve’libech in your inner being (heart), “Ani I am, and there is no one besides me.”
“You trusted in your evil” Babylon had trusted in her own sinful actions and the fruit thereof. Today within our western democracies we do the same: trusting in laws that give sexual sin pre-eminence and allow euthanasia (the murder of the elderly, infirm, the intellectually and the physically disabled). We trust in the right of a woman to choose to murder her child, and advocate for criminals at the expense of their victims. We are enamoured by witchcraft and sorcery, and have allowed occult spirituality to usurp the sound doctrine of the King Messiah.
When we place our trust in the implementation of immoral legislation and seek entertainment in the den of witchcraft, we are no better than that wicked ancient nation Babylon (confusion). Thus, we have entered confusion: depression and mental illnesses varied and debilitating have risen exponentially, our criminals are seen as victims and our victims as criminals, our children cannot decide what sex they are, because we have convinced them they are genderless spirits in human husks, and our modern families are nothing more than club houses for the wickedly like-minded. All who oppose the status quo of Liberalism are kicked out of the tribe-less Universal social engine of world consciousness. In short, we are about to succeed in destroying ourselves, and in the meantime, the armies of the East are rallying in order to wipe us from the face of the earth. On Yom Ha Din (The Day of Judgement), we will not be able to hide behind our democratic system, nor will we be able to justify ourselves by our inaction. When we fail to act against evil we become culpable.
“No one sees me” Babylon had convinced itself that its hidden witchcraft and secret political plans could not be seen by any other nation or people. While this may have been true, Babylon had neglected to understand that the Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient Creator of the Universe and God of Israel could see and was well aware of her secrets and the ineffectiveness of them.
“Your wisdom and your knowledge has turned on you, perverted you.” Neither human wisdom or knowledge are synonymous with truth. Thus, the accumulation of knowledge is no guarantee of a truthful reality. Babylon had gained great knowledge and had acted wisely in her wickedness but that same knowledge, wisdom and wickedness was about to come back on her. She had worked tirelessly only to bring about her own demise. All the while, like a numb navel gazer, she claimed “I am, and there is none besides me!”
Isa 47:11 Uva And coming alayich upon you, ra’a evil, you will not know when it will dawn; hovah a ruin will fall upon you, which you will not be able to endure or kaperah atone for; and coming upon you suddenly, a shoah desolation unknown to you.
We note that the previous verse says “You have trusted in your own evil (the root being ra’a)”. Now we read, “ra’a (evil) will come upon you”. Like the wicked of the latter days, the Babylonians did not know the day or the hour of their demise.
“A ruin will fall upon you, which you will not be able to endure or atone for”. This ruin, while clearly historical, is also a spiritual reality. We note that the Hebrew kaperah (atoning sacrifice) is used. Thus, there is a ruin that will come upon the wilfully unrepentant, a ruin for which there is no further atonement. In other words, “It is appointed unto human beings to die once and then the judgement…” (Hebrews 9:27-28). Therefore, any human being who has not received the atoning sacrifice (Kaperah) of the King Messiah Yeshua before passing into sheol, is left without the necessary atonement to deliver them from eternal punishment. This comes down to the human being exercising his or her free will. God does not send people to eternal punishment, to the contrary, those who end up there will have chosen to go there: their hatred for God being such that they refuse His sacrificial love and reconciliatory offer of redemption.
“For if we keep on sinning wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there is no further sacrifice for sins…” -Hebrews 10:26
Isa 47:12 Stand now vachavarayich in your magic (company) uvero and your great keshafayich witchcraft, with which you have laboured from your youth; perhaps you may be able to succeed; perhaps you may inspire fear.
“Vachavarayich in your magic (company)” We note that the Hebrew can be understood to mean both magic arts and or a company or club of practitioners of the aforementioned arts. Thus, the prophet calls out that which has been hidden and demands that the occultists stand in the light of God’s judgement. The witchcraft of the Babylonians had been “great, prolific”, it had been a way of life, a religion. Not unlike the many philosophies and practices of our own time, many of which claim to be non-religious but are in fact religious in the worst possible sense, born of the deceiver himself (Satan).
“with which you have laboured from your youth;” This is evidence of the sin of the fathers upon the children. Indoctrination from youth had meant the demise of an entire society.
“Perhaps you may be able to succeed; perhaps you may inspire fear.” This is not mockery, to the contrary, it is a challenge to the self-deluded and arrogant Babylonians. “Do you really believe that your magic is undefeatable, that your work cannot be torn down, that you can inspire fear in the One Who has swallowed up fear with victory? It is of course a rhetorical question and the answer is “You will not, you cannot!”
Isa 47:13 Nileit You are wearied, grieved, impatient, offended bero in your many counsels; let them stand up now veyoshiuch and save (deliver) you, hovereiy those who divide shamayim the heavens, hachozim visioners, seers bakochavim who gaze at the stars, modiyim predictors (knowers) who make known lechodashim at the new moons (months) what will come upon you.
“Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let them now rise up, and save thee, who are familiar with the Zodiac of the heavens, who look at the stars, who make known appointed seasons: deceiving thee, saying, Thus it shall happen unto thee each month.” - Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The Targum correctly understands this as an indictment against the magicians, astrologers, false prophets and sooth Sayers of Babylon. We note that the Babylonians had become wearied and grieved by the predictions of their magicians and sooth Sayers. Daniel 2 describes events in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, where the astrologers, magicians and sorcerers were unable to divine the king’s dream. This was the kind of unreliability the Babylonians had come to expect from their spiritual advisors, those who practiced various forms of demonic witchcraft.
“let them stand up now and save you” This is similar to the taunt of Elijah when challenging the worshippers of the Ba’aliym to call on their gods to save them.
“Who make known at the new moons (months), what will come upon you.” This is a taunt which exposes the inaccuracy of the predictions made by the star gazers (astrologers), particularly in reference to the new moons, the beginning of months. It is frightening to note how closely this describes the teaching of so many eschatological Christian preachers and so called Prophets in the present day. The evidence of their inaccurate predictions has been seen on mass recently when following the arrival and departure of a number of blood moons, none of the things they predicted had come to pass. I have yet to see them held accountable for their false testimony. God will not be mocked.
Isa 47:14 Hineih Behold, pay attention, now they have become stubble; eish fire serafatam will burn them; they cannot deliver et-nafsham their souls miyad from the hand (fig. power) lehavah of flame. Eiyn-gachelet No coal to warm nor ur fire (fire emanation, fire light) lashevet to sit, dwell, remain before!
“Behold, they shall be weak as stubble. The nations which are as strong as fire shall consume them, they shall not deliver themselves from the hand of the slayers: there shall be no remnant nor escaped of them, yea, not a place, in which one might deliver himself.” - Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
Iben Ezra, in agreement with the Targum, reads the Hebrew eish (fire) as a figure for the invading armies. As support for this reading he references Num. 21:28.
“Hineih” Now, pay attention, look upon this. A final call to sobriety. The people of Babylon will become as stubble burned up by the invading armies. The prophet writes in the past tense because God has already seen these things complete.
“They cannot deliver their souls from the hand (fig. power) of flame.” This is once more both literal and figurative as well as spiritual. The Babylonians will not be able to overcome the flame of those who come to destroy them. In fact, that is exactly what happened on at least two occasions in history. Nor can they deliver their own souls from the flame which emanates from God’s Spirit and judgement.
“Nor ur fire (fire emanation, fire light) lashevet to sit, dwell, remain before” This final clause is of great significance and is drenched with irony. Avram (Who became Avraham), the father of Isaac and Jacob, came from Ur of the Chaldees. Our text says that there will no longer be ur (light emanating from fire) for the Babylonians to warm themselves by. They will no longer be privileged to sit by the true ur light emanation that proceeds from God. Their connection to Avram will be snuffed out. Why? Because the seed of Avram (the Jews) are about to be taken from them, and via Darius, returned to the Land that Avraham was promised on oath by God, the land covenanted by God to Avraham and his ancestors (Isaac & Jacob [Israel]) while he slept.
Isa 47:15 Kein so (yes) you have become as those who laboured for you, your merchants with you from your youth; ish each man le’evro will go beyond, tau erring, wandering, astray, staggering, none moshiyeich will save you.
Babylon became like those she had used, abused and traded with from her infancy. She had been a mistress, now she would be a slave.
She had spared no one, now there would be no one to save her. The Hebrew moshiyeich is related to Mashiyach (Saviour, Anointed One). Thus, because she had not known the Mashiyach, she “erred, wandered, went astray, with none moshiyeich to save her”.
“The merchants of these things, who were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning;” -Revelation 18:15 (ASV)
Copyright Yaakov Brown 2019
There is a connection made between God’s Word and His action. This is compounded by the second of the poetic doublets “I have purposed, I will also do it” which corresponds to “I have spoken, truly I will also bring it to pass.” Thus, there is no right action without the Word of God.
In the previous chapters the prophet has explained what Israel should expect from Cyrus. He now speaks of what is to come upon Babylon at the hands of Cyrus and his Persian armies. Chapters 46 through 48 are a trilogy of prophecies referring to Babylon.
While this chapter focuses mainly on the fall of the Babylonian deities, the powerless idols of gold and silver, contrasting these worthless gods to the omnipotent and omnipresent God of Israel; it concludes with an admonishment to Israel’s stubborn hearted exiles, reminding them that God is near to them and will establish salvation for them in the land of Israel, on Mount Zion: making the redeemed of Israel His glory, adornment, and beauty.
Isa 46:1 Beil (A chief Babylonian deity, from Ba’al, husband, master, lord: Phon. Beelsamin Lord of heaven) kara bowed down, Nevo (Babylonian deity presiding over learning of letters, nevo like navi meaning prophet) koreis cowered, their idols became la’chaiyah to the animals (to the living) and cattle, a heavy load carried about; to the weary, masa a tribute lifted up (a load, a lifting, an utterance, oracle, burden).
“Bel is bowed down, Nebo is cut down. Their images are in the likeness of serpents and beasts. The burdens of your idols shall be heavy upon those who carry them; because they be exhausted.” -Targum Yonatan Ben Uziel (2nd Century CE/AD)
Beil is thought by some to be a contraction of the Hebrew Ba’al, whom the Phoenicians, called Beel and Beelsamin, meaning “Lord of heaven”. In this case Beil is both a generic term for a god like the Hebrew El, and when used as a proper noun refers to the chief deity of Babylon Marduk. In Babylonian theology Marduk appears as creator, similar to the Greek god Zeus, but not like the God of Israel HaShem.
Others consider Beil to be named for the renowned king Belus of the Babylonians, who was deified after his death.
Beil’s idol is, probably Bel Merodach, whose temple stood on the banks of the Euphrates in Babylon, the construction of which is described by the ancient historian Herodotus.
Nevo is another of the Babylonian deities. In Babylonian mythology he is the son of the supreme God Marduk and is considered the spokesman of the gods. This is consistent with the fact that Nevo and the Hebrew navi (prophet) appear to share the same root. Nevo was also the supreme god of Nineveh and was supposed to be the god of wisdom and learning and is similar to the gods Mercury and Apollo.
Some consider Nevo to be synonymous with Beltis, just as Beil is considered synonymous with Belus. Thus, the deity Beil is sometimes symbolised by the sun and Beltis the moon, the former being masculine and the latter feminine.
The primary deities of the Babylonians are made subject to Cyrus. They bow down and cower, unable to resist him. Beil and Nevo, once carried on the shoulders of their worshippers, are now to be pulled down and carried away on the backs of beasts of burden. Thus they become nothing more than spoils of war, powerless gods unable to save. They are offered up as tribute to Cyrus, who in turn is directed by HaShem for His purposes.
Isa 46:2 Karesu They cower, chareu bowing down in unison, unable to deliver masa a tribute lifted up (a load, a lifting, an utterance, oracle, burden), and have walked nafsham (from nephesh: soul) their souls into captivity.
“They are cut off, yea, they are altogether cut to pieces, and they were not able to deliver them that carried them; and their worshippers are gone into captivity.” -Targum Yonatan Ben Uziel (2nd Century CE/AD)
This may be applied to both the idols and the people. Both bow in unison, unable to deliver themselves. The idols are walked into captivity on the backs of the beasts of burden and the people walk themselves into captivity under the supervision of the Persian armies.
Figuratively speaking the people of Babylon who have chosen to worship false gods and place their trust in them, have essentially brought about their own demise. Thus, they “have walked their souls into captivity”, both physical and spiritual bondage are the result of their sin. Those who had taken Israel captive have now become captives.
The gods of Babylon, once carried by worshippers in annual festive parades of enthronement are now broken and carried into captivity on the backs of pack animals. O how the mighty have fallen.
Isa 46:3 Shim’u eilaiy Listen, hear, pay attention to me, beiyt Yaakov house of Jacob (follower), vechol she’eriyt and all the remnant of the beiyt Yisrael house of Israel (overcome in God), who are carried miniy veten from the belly, who are ha’nesuiym lifted miniy from the racham womb (deep love, compassion, mercy):
“Listen and receive my words household of followers, and all the remaining household of those who overcome in God, who are carried from conception and lifted up from the womb of mercy.” -Authors remez paraphrase
In counter-distinction to the idols od Babylon who are carried away as dismantled spoil, Jacob has, is, and will always be carried in God’s womb from conception to adulthood and beyond. Israel is to be lifted up from the womb of Mercy Himself.
While the captive Jews watch the chaos of captivity unfold, they are reminded by God that He has never left them and will never forsake them. He has carried Israel and will birth a new day of rejoicing and freedom for those who remain.
Moses possess the rhetorical question to God:
“Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nursing father bears the suckling child, unto the land which You swore to their fathers?’” -Numbers 11:13
Moses is acknowledging that Israel is begotten of God, Who has carried Jacob in His bosom and nursed the nation as a suckling child, carrying her to the land He promised to her forefathers.
Isa 46:4 Ve’ad And as far as your old age Ani Hu I am He; and as far as your grey hairs will Ani esbol I will carry (drag along, bear up) you: I have asiytiy fashioned, formed, accomplished you, and I will lift up; va’ani and I, even I will esbol carry (drag along, bear up), va’amaleit and will deliver you.
Unlike the people of Babylon, Israel will never be abandoned by her God. As long as they live God will carry them, reminding the people of Israel through His prophets by the Word of His King Messiah, that HaShem has formed and accomplished the Jewish people and will lift them up out of distress and captivity. God Himself will carry Israel and deliver her.
Note that the people of Babylon fashioned their own gods and received no help in the day of their distress but HaShem formed His people, whom He will never fail to help, delivering them time and again perpetually in this world and through the King Messiah, redeeming them for life everlasting in the Olam Haba (World to Come).
Isa 46:5 To whom will you liken Me, and make Me equal, and compare Me, that we may be alike?
Once again the refrain which is so familiar in these chapters of Isaiah, affirms the immutable reality, that HaShem is God alone, there is no other.
Isa 46:6 They pour zahav gold out of the bag, ve’khesef and weigh silver in the balance, and hire tzoreif a goldsmith; and he makes it into a god: they fall down, yes, they prostrate themselves.
Once again the foolishness of idolatry is exposed for the illogical self-abuse that it truly is. Israel herself had once allowed her gold to be collected and made into an idolatrous image (Exodus 32:2).
Here it is the rich among the ruling class of the Babylonians that are pictured pouring out the excess of their gold and weighing out the excess of their silver. Thus the idols become symbols of excess and pride. The worshipper is in effect, bowing before his own achievements’, worshipping his own abilities.
Isa 46:7 They lift him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he stands; he will never move from his place: indeed, one shall cry to him, yet he cannot answer, nor save him out of his trouble.
In many ways this is a prequel to the former verses which describe the idols being destroyed and carried away on beasts of burden. Verse 7 thus explains the festive parades of Babylon which featured the idols carried on the shoulders of their worshippers.
Once the idol is placed in its temple it is unable to move itself because it is an inanimate object crafted by human beings. This in stark contrast to the God of Israel Who is alive and active, participating in His creation and working out His good purposes for the redemption and renewal of the created order.
Where the idols of Babylon are deaf to the petitions of their worshippers and unable to save, HaShem is always listening to and engaging with those who seek Him, and is all powerful and therefore, always able to save.
Isa 46:8 Remember this, and show (prove) yourselves men: bring it again al upon leiv the core being (heart, mind), you fosheliym rebellious (transgressors).
“Remember this, and be ye strong; and bear it in mind, rebels!” -Targum Yonatan Ben Uziel (2nd Century CE/AD)
“Fortify yourselves against all temptations to idolatry, and against all the arguments and persuasions of idolaters…” – Yarchi
Israel is warned to remember that idols are worthless and unable to save but that God is always ready to receive and save the repentant. Therefore, “Prove yourselves, be intentional in reminding your core being, you rebellious.”
Isa 46:9 Remember the former things mei’olam from the ancient world: for I am El God, and there is none else; I am Elohiym God, ve’efes and there is none, (zero) like Me,
Israel is also instructed to remember the former deliverances of God, her freedom from bondage in Egypt, her deliverance from enemies all around her, the mighty signs and miracles of God seen by her Patriarchs and Matriarchs and passed on from generation to generation. She must remember that her God is God alone and place her trust in Him regardless of her circumstances.
Isa 46:10 Magid Making known the achariyt end me’reioshiyt from the beginning, umikedem and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, “Atzatiy My purpose (counsel) will stand, and all that delights Me I will do:”
Israel should remember that God has made known the end from the beginning by speaking her deliverance into time and space through the words of His prophets. She can be assured that His purposes will be made complete and His will shall be done on earth as it is in the heavens.
Isa 46:11 Calling mimizrach from the east a ayit a bird of prey, mei’eretz from a land merchak far off, a man chatzatov his purpose (advice, counsel) will be atzatiy My purpose (advice, counsel): truly, I have spoken, truly I will also bring it to pass; what yatzartiy I have purposed, I will also do it.
The bird from the east is Cyrus, whose purpose is guided by God.
There is a connection made between God’s Word and His action. This is compounded by the second of the poetic doublets “I have purposed, I will also do it” which corresponds to “I have spoken, truly I will also bring it to pass.” Thus, there is no right action without the Word of God.
Isa 46:12 Shimu Listen, hear, pay attention to Me, abiyrei you mighty leiv hearted (core being), that are far mitzedakah from righteousness:
This is spoken to the prideful among the people of Israel. The phrase “mighty heart” denotes pride, hence “far from righteousness”.
Isa 46:13 I bring near tzidkatiy My righteousness; it will not be far off, u’teshuatiy and my salvation will not delay: ve’natatiy and I will give, (place, set, bestow, grant, assign, designate, yield the produce of) teshuah salvation (deliverance) be’Tziyon in Zion (parched land) for Yisrael (Israel) tifartiy My glory, splendour, beauty.
“My righteousness is nigh, it is not far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion, and my glory in Israel.” -Targum Yonatan Ben Uziel (2nd Century CE/AD)
This verse is prophetic of both Israel’s freedom from captivity in Babylon and her freedom from sin through Messiah Yeshua. The temple was to be re-established in Jerusalem following the Babylonian exile and the Messiah Yeshua’s substitutionary sacrifice would also establish salvation in Zion. All this “for Israel” who God calls “My glory”. Israel is predestined to reflect the glory of God through His Messiah Yeshua.
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
“I will even make a way from within the word, and in the desolation, living waters."
Isa 43:1 And now, thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) who bora’acha (from bara, used of God’s creative action) created you Yaakov (Follower: Jacob), and He that yotzer formed (fashioned) you, Yisrael (Overcome in God), “Al-tiyra No Fear: for I have ge’al’tiycha redeemed (from goel: Kinsman redeemer) you, I have called you ve’shimcha by your name; liy-atah Mine you are.”
“Mercy, Who created you from nothing and formed you from something…”
Following the tragic description of Israel’s disciplining in 42:18-25, the tone of the prophet’s address once again returns to consolation. This is the modus operandi of Isaiah’s prophetic scroll and the rhythm of God’s redemptive practice within the fallen world.
He who created Jacob and formed Israel, by giving Abraham the son of the promise, and causing the seventy members of Jacob's family to grow up into a nation through the bondage of Egypt, promises He will shelter and preserve His people. God reminds Israel that He has removed fear from her through redemption and that she can trust Him according to the evidence of His faithfulness seen in her early history.
The reason that Israel should receive the fearless reality of God is that He has (past tense) redeemed her. Like the Servant of Isaiah 42:1-7, HaShem Himself is the covenant that redeems Israel. We note that the past tense indicates both the redemption from Egypt within time and space and the eternal purpose that has been established for Israel outside of time and space (Romans 11:23-26). The redemption of Israel is purchased through the blood of the Servant King Messiah, sacrificed before the creation of the world (Rev. 13:8).
We note that “goel” is a kinsman redeemer, meaning that in order to qualify for this phrasing God must be speaking of a manifestation of His being that is also literally a Hebrew (a Jew). This is of course a reference to the King Messiah Yeshua, Who is Imanuel (with us God).
“I have called you by your name” is more than just a phrase of endearment, it is a direct reference to Jacob’s wrestling with the man Who is also God (Gen. 32:22-32). Again, this is an allusion to the King Messiah, and a reminder that the tenacious spirit of Jacob, realized in his vulnerability, caused him to hold tight to Imanuel and through trusting Him, received a new name, Yisra (overcome in) El (God: Judge).
HaShem is not God of Israel because we chose Him but because He chose us.
“We love him, because he first loved us.” -1 John 4:19
Isa 43:2 “When you pass ba’mayim through the waters, it’techa Ani with you I Am; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you: when you teileich walk be’mov in the eish fire, you will not be burned; and the flame will not consume you (be kindled upon you).”
Iben Ezra explains that the waters and the fire refer to the armies of Persia and media respectively.
We can also read, “For passing through waters, I am with you; and through the rivers, they will not drown you: for walking in the fire, you will not be burned, and the flame will not consume you.”
Israel had passed through the Red sea and was unharmed, she had crossed over the river Jordan into the land of Israel (speaking to her present location), and her devote representatives in exile, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, will literally pass through fire and yet will neither be burned nor consumed (Daniel 3).
Isa 43:3 “For I am HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Eloheycha your (God: Judge), the Kedush Holy One of Yisrael (Israel), moshi’echa your Saviour: I gave Mitzrayim (Double distress: Egypt) for your ransom, Cush (Black: Ethiopia) and Seva (You drink: son of Cush) in your place.”
“For I Mercy your Judge, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour…”
God explains that His Mercy and Judgement are always available to Israel because He is the Holy One of Israel, and her Saviour.
Throughout this portion of Isaiah HaShem affirms the fact that His very Name is connected to His chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious). In the first verse of chapter 43 He reminds Israel that He has called her by name: now in the present verse He affirms His intrinsic connection to Israel by using the title “Holy One of Israel”.
“I gave Egypt for your ransom” is in the past tense and may refer to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. This could also refer to the conquest of Egypt by Cambyses the son of Cyrus.
Therefore, the giving over of the Egyptians and Ethiopians to Cyrus can be understood as the means by which God is seeding Israel’s return to the land from exile, made possible by the edicts of Cyrus (Ezra 1:1-8). Thus, these nations were given as ransom in order to return Israel to the land.
Isa 43:4 “Since you were precious in my sight, you have nichbadta (from kavod: glory) weighed heavy, full of glory, and I ahavtiycha have loved you: therefore I will give adam a man (humanity) in your place, and uleumiym tribes for nafshecha (nefesh) your soul (existence).”
It is because Israel is precious to the God and is a continual weight upon His heart, and because of His unfailing love for her that He will give “adam” a man in her place, and tribes for her ongoing survival. While it is true, as Iben Ezra says, that adam can refer to humanity, it is none the less, only one possible translation. Given the individualistic language used to qualify the Servant of the previous chapter (42:1-7), and the allusion to the giving of Israel’s name, it seems more likely that the present text refers to the individual King Messiah than to humanity as a whole. Thus, the substitution offered in verse 4 by a man, is an allusion to the spiritual redemption of Israel through the substitutionary sacrifice of the Messiah, and the tribes given are for her physical survival.
Isa 43:5 “Al tiyra No fear: for with you I Am: mi’mizrach from the east (sunrise) I will bring your zarecha seed, umima’arav and from the west (sunset) gather you;”
“No fear” is qualified by “for I am with you”. Thus, the fear of God is an end to fear.
HaShem is promising to literally return the progeny of Israel from the farthest point of the east (Babylon) and the farthest point of the west (Egypt, Assyria: Ezra. 6:22). In fact, as the text continues to say, He will return them from every point of the compass: He is God over all things.
This can also be understood figuratively to apply to the beginning (sunrise) and the end (sunset) of time.
Isa 43:6 “I will say to the tzafon north (hidden), Give up; and to the teiyman south (right hand), Keep not back: bring vanaiy my sons from afar, and venotaiy my daughters from the extremity of ha-aretz the land (earth);”
Those nations in the north who have held Jews captive are commanded to release them from hidden places (oppression, imprisonment). Likewise those to the south are not to hold back the Jews leaving to return to the land of Israel. The word “teiyman” (south) literally means “to the right hand” that is, to the right when facing east, east being the focus of the Hebrew compass, the Temple mount being the Jewish equivalent of “True North”.
HaShem promises to bring both sons and daughters back to the land.
Isa 43:7 “Cal All those called by vishmiy My name: ve’lich’vodiy and for My glory I have berativ (from bara) created him for my glory, yitzartiyv I have formed him; certainly, I have made him.”
This must be understood in context. The plain meaning denotes all those called by the name of the “Holy One of Israel”. Thus, it specifically refers to Hebrews from all the tribes of Israel (Jews). This is further affirmed by the phrasing “For My glory I have created him” (a reference to Jacob [v.1]) and, “I have formed him” (a reference to Israel [v.1]). Both are ethnic designations of the Jewish people: as followers (Jacob) and as overcomers in God (Israel). Jacob and Israel are synonymous terms referring to the chosen ethnic people of God. Thus, the final clause, “I have made him”.
Isa 43:8 “Bring forth am a people blind that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears.”
Regardless of Israel’s spiritual blindness and deafness, she still has eyes and ears. Thus, it is still possible for her to one day see and hear, and return to HaShem.
Isa 43:9 “Cal Let all ha-goyim the nations be assembled together, and let le’umiym the peoples be gathered: who among them can declare this, and show zot to us former things? let them bring forward their eideihem witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, ‘It is truth.’”
Not only all the nations but also all the tribes within those nations are called to appear before HaShem. “Us” refers to HaShem, the heavenly host, and Israel. The nations are challenged to show how they and their gods can prove miracles like those HaShem has performed for Israel. They are also challenged to speak with prophetic authority of the things to come, if they can: of course they cannot. Thus, the witnesses they bring forth to prove their case will have no other choice but to testify to the fact that the God of Israel alone speaks the truth of these things.
Isa 43:10 “Atem You (plural) eidaiy My witnesses, says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), ve’avdiy and my servant whom I have chosen: that you teideu may know veta’amiynu and believe (have faith in) Me, and understand that I am He: lefanaiy before My face there was no el God (Judge) formed, neither will there be after Me.” Isa 43:11 “I, certainly I, am HaShem (YHVH: Mercy); and beside Me there is no moshiya saviour.”
The counterpoint to the folly of the witnesses of the nations is the chosen servant of Hashem, that is, Israel. In spite of her spiritual blindness and deafness, she is none the less witness to all the miraculous deliverances of God and the certain truth of His prophetic word through His prophets. Israel remains God’s witness against the idolatrous nations and their heathen worship.
The unity and uniqueness of the One true God is reaffirmed in the emphatic statement “Understand that I am He: before My face there is no god formed, neither will there be after Me! I, certainly I, am HaShem; and beside Me there is no saviour.”
There are many similarities between the servant of Adonai as a nation (Israel) [Isaiah 42:18-25] and the Servant of Adonai as an individual person (Yeshua the Messiah) [Isaiah 42:1-7]. Both are chosen by God (42:1; 43:10). Both are loved by God (42:1; 43:4). And yet, the differences between the two are also abundantly clear. In both her obedience and disobedience Israel the nation is a witness to the works of God and His faithfulness. She can testify that there is no other god like Hashem. Corporately Israel is essentially blind (v.8) and a passive servant/observer (v.10), this regardless of her morality. On the other hand the Servant Messiah acts to accomplish God’s redemptive purpose for Israel and the nations. He is absolutely obedient, never faltering, never sinning. He delights to do God’s will (42:4).
Isa 43:12 “I have declared, vehosha’tiy and have saved, and I have shown, when there was no strange god among you: therefore you are eidiy My witnesses, says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), va’ani-El and I am God (Judge).”
What God has declared He has performed. He spoke these things long before Israel allowed the strange gods of her rebellion to cloud her judgement. Israel has seen His love and salvation on many occasions and with great miracles, thus, she remains His witness.
Isa 43:13 “Gam Also, miyom from before the day was I am He; and there is none that can deliver out of My hand: I will work, and who will allow it?”
From before the first day, God existed, uncreated. He alone is God over time and space: no other power can deliver out of His hand. No one can say that they have allowed Him to act. He was King, He is King, He will always be King of all things.
Isa 43:14 Thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), your redeemer, Kedush the Holy One of Yisrael Israel; “For your sake I have sent to Vavelah Babylon (Confusion), and have brought down all their nobles, and the Casdiym Chaldeans (Clod breakers), whose cry is in the ships.”
In other words, “I have sent Cyrus to Babylon to crush it”. The Chaldeans were a leading tribe of Babylonia and Babylon’s last Kings came from the Chaldeans. Hence the names Babylonian and Chaldean became synonymous.
Isa 43:15 “Ani I am HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), kedushechem your Holy One, borei Creator of Yisrael Israel, malkechem your King.”
HaShem reminds Israel of His identity. He is first Mercy, the Being, relational. Second, Holy, Israel’s Holy One. Third, Creator of all things, and fourth, King over Israel.
Isa 43:16 Thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), which makes a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters;
A reference to Israel’s deliverance through the Red sea. Or, as Iben Ezra says, a reference to the defeat of the Babylonian ships by Cyrus.
Isa 43:17 Who brings forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power; they will lie down together, they will not rise: they are extinguished, like a flax wick they are quenched.
A description of Pharaoh and his chariots drowned in the Red sea while pursuing Israel to destroy her. Or, the forces of Babylon in defeat against the Persians, as per Iben Ezra.
Isa 43:18 “Don’t you remember the former things, neither consider the things of old?”
An incredulous exhortation asking Israel if she remembers the miraculous deliverances of HaShem attested to by her forebears.
Isa 43:19 “Hineniy Behold, now, I will do a new thing; now it will spring forth; will you not know it? I will even make derekh a way ba’midbar in the wilderness (from within the word), and beiyshimon in the desert (desolation) neharot rivers.”
In the context of this passage the “new thing” will be Israel’s return from exile in the east. He will make a way through the desert to the east of the land of Israel, returning the exiled children of Israel to the land.
The waters once parted to save are now given to revitalize. This is a beautifully ironic Hebrew poetic form.
In the context of God’s greater redemptive purpose the “new thing” is the spiritual redemption of Israel through the Servant King Messiah. Thus, we read, “I will even make a way from within the word, and in the desolation, living waters.”
Isa 43:20 “The beast of the field will honour Me, the taniym serpents (dragons) uvenot and the daughters of ya’anah owls: because I give mayim waters va’’midbar in the wilderness, and neharot rivers beiyshimon in the desert, to give drink to Amiy My people, My chosen.”
This will be both literally and figuratively true. The serpents and owls may be interpreted to refer to demonic beings.
The purpose of the waters is to hydrate “My people, My chosen” ethnic Israel. God will hydrate her both physically and spiritually. These promises precede the coming exile so as to instil a memory of hope into rebellious Israel.
Isa 43:21 “Am A people I have formed for Myself; they will show forth my praise.”
The ultimate outcome of Israel’s discipline will be her repentance and formation as a nation that comes into right relationship with God and send forth His praise. However, this is yet future.
Isa 43:22 “But you have not called upon Me, Yaakov (Jacob: follower); but you have been weary of Me, Yisrael (Israel: overcomes in God).”
Jacob the follower has not followed and Israel the overcomer has not overcome. Israel has been made blind by her own idolatrous vision, and has become deaf through hearing the lies of the nations that surround her.
This is a poignant reminder to us. By watching media we become blind, and listening to media we become deaf. For those with eyes to see there is light in the darkness. For those with ears to hear there is truth in the silence.
Isa 43:23 “You have not brought Me the small of the flock of your oloteicha burnt offerings; uzevacheicha and your sacrifices don’t honour Me. I have not caused you to serve with an offering, nor wearied you with incense.”
This can be understood in at least two ways. It may refer to the fact that Israel had neglected the proper sacrificial practice within the land prior to her exile, or, it may refer prophetically to her inability to offer sacrifices to God in the land of her exile.
Isa 43:24 “None have bought me ba’kesef silver (money) or sugar cane, vecheilev the fat of your sacrifices has not filled Me: but you have made Me to serve, with your chatah sins (missing the mark), you have wearied Me with your avon perversities (iniquities).”
Rather than bringing the appropriate offerings of the Torah, Israel has instead offered money and sugar cane to other gods. Thus, they have not filled HaShem. None the less, Hashem has endured and become weary of Israel’s sin and perversity. This being the counterpoint to her having become weary of Him (v. 22).
Isa 43:25 “I, even I, am he that mocheh blots out your feshaeicha rebellion for My own sake, and will not remember your chatah sins (missing the mark).”
Regardless of Israel’s disobedience, it is not her observance or her lack thereof that is reason for God’s blotting out of her rebellion. To the contrary, it is for His own sake that He will wipe away all memory of her sin.
Isa 43:26 “Remember Me: let us adjudicate together: make your declaration, that you might be justified.”
God implores Israel to remember her true King Hashem and repent so that she might receive justification through Him.
“Come now, and let us reason together, says Adonai: though your sins be as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they will be as wool.” -Isaiah 1:18
Isa 43:27 “Aviycha Your father ha-rishon the first has chatah sinned (missed the mark), and your teachers have pasheu rebelled against Me.”
“Your first father” may refer either to Abraham or to Jacob. The teachers are those who have mislead Israel with the idol philosophies and beliefs of the nations. They may also be the priestly shepherds of Israel who have neglected the proper service of worship which was commanded by God and concerned the Temple cult in Jerusalem.
Isa 43:28 “Therefore I have profaned the shareiy princes of kodesh the sanctuary (Holiness), and have given Yaakov (Jacob: follower) la-cherem to be a dedicated thing, and Yisrael (Israel) le’giddufim to vilification.”
Thus, because Israel’s spiritual leaders had not honoured God and had mislead the people, HaShem will cause the priests, princes of the Sanctuary (a reference to the Temple) to be profaned, ridiculed, dishonoured. HaShem will also give the common people of Jacob to be a dedicated or destroyed thing, and the name of the nation of Israel will become synonymous with villainy. All this is intended to discipline Israel and return her to God through the covenant of the Servant King Messiah.
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
God does not threaten, a threat is vulnerable to dissolution, God’s words are not: Mercy does not threaten, He warns.
Cf. 2 Kings 20:12-19; 2 Chronicles 32:24-31
Isa 39:1 At that time Merodach-bal-adan (Merodak, Marduk: “your rebellion”, a chief deity of Babylon. Bal, Bel, “lord”, a chief deity of Babylon. Adan, adon, “lord”), the son of Bal-adan (Bal, Bel, “lord”, a chief deity of Babylon. Adan, adon, “lord”), king of Bavel (Confusion, Babylon), sent letters and minchah an offering to Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy): for he had heard that he had been sick, ve’chezak and was strengthened, had become strong.
“Rebellion the lord of confusion, son of self-deification, king of confusion, sent letters and an offering to My strength is Mercy, for rebellion had heard that My strength is Mercy had been sick and had now become strong, powerful, self-assured.”
“At that time”: The chronology of these events falls sometime between 710 and 703 BCE. Isaiah 38:1 tells us that the events recorded there occurred in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah’s reign (715-686 BCE), however, as was the case with several Judean kings, the length of their reign is sometimes confused by the fact that they spent time as co-regents to their fathers: as is the case with Hezekiah.
Merodach-Baladan ruled the Aramean tribe Bit Yakim whose territory included the mouth of the Euphrates river. In 721 BCE he captured Babylon (Bavel) and reigned as king until 710 BCE, when he was defeated and driven out by Sargon II. Following Sargon’s death Merodach-Baladan returned to Babylon and reigned there for an additional nine months (704-703 BCE).
There is some debate concerning which of Merodach-Baladan’s two reigns these events refer to, however, it seems most likely that with reference to Hezekiah’s reign the best correlation can be made with Merodach-Baladan’s first reign (721-710 BCE). It is probable that Merodach-Baladan was seeking an alliance with Hezekiah in order to gain allies in an attempt to topple the Assyrians.
We note that spiritually speaking Merodach-Baladan represents the seat of satanic power in the east. Both names convey rebellion and the presumption of deity, specifically Merodack (Marduk [2 Kings account] and Bel, two of the chief deities of Babylon. Additionally, he is king of Confusion (Bavel: Babylon), born of the land which had been the sight of the tower of Bavel (Babel), a symbol of humanity’s rebellion against God.
“He sent letters and an offering to Hezekiah”: Many English translations render the Hebrew “minchah” as “gifts”, which, while technically correct in the sense that an offering can sometimes be considered a gift of free will, is not specific enough in this context. The literal meaning is “offering”, a specific type of gift or substitutionary sacrifice, one offered to God or gods. In this case Merodach-Baladan is attempting to gain Hezekiah’s support and therefore, sends an offering to the God of Hezekiah, HaShem.
Based on the context we can deduce that the letters are probably acknowledging Hezekiah’s famed healing and the Divine deliverance of Israel from her enemies (Assyria). All this in an attempt to flatter the Judean king and garner his favour in support of Merodach-Baladan’s political plans.
“he had been sick, and was strengthened, had become strong.”: We note that the Hebrew text does not say “he had been sick and had recovered” as some English versions mistranslate, but “he had been sick and was strengthened, mad strong.” This is more than a testament to Hezekiah’s healing, it is an affirmation of the strengthening of his position and power, and subsequently that of Judah. It also infers pride, which is affirmed by the 2 Chronicles account.
Isa 39:2 Vaiyismach And joyful toward them was Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy), and showed them the house of treasure, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and ha-shemen the oil ha-tov which is good, precious, and all the house of kelav his utensils, arms, and all that was found in his storehouse: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy) did not show them.
It is important to understand verses 2-8 in correlation with the 2 Chronicles account of this portion of Hezekiah’s reign.
Cf. 2 Chronicles 20:24-31
24 “In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to HaShem, Who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign. 25 But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore HaShem’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. 26 Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore Hashem’s wrath did not come on them during the days of Hezekiah. 27 Hezekiah had very great wealth and honour, and he made treasuries for his silver and gold and for his precious stones, spices, shields and all kinds of valuables.28 He also made buildings to store the harvest of grain, new wine and olive oil; and he made stalls for various kinds of cattle, and pens for the flocks. 29 He built villages and acquired great numbers of flocks and herds, for God had given him very great riches. 30 It was Hezekiah who blocked the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and channelled the water down to the west side of the City of David. He succeeded in everything he undertook. 31 But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God proved him, that he might know all that was in his heart.”
From both a political and spiritual perspective Hezekiah’s actions seem strange at best, and at worst prideful. He did not merely show, but rather showed off all that was under his rule, including, as Yarchi suggests, “The book of the Torah”, and “the oil that was good” which probably alludes to the sacred oil of anointing reserved for the priesthood (Ex. 30:30-32). This is illuminated further by the 2 Chronicles account, which clearly indicates that Hezekiah had become prideful following his healing and the deliverance of Judah from the Assyrians. Thus, when we read that Hezekiah joyfully received the envoys of Babylon and showed them all the armaments, utensils and riches of Judah (A foolish act that made the nation vulnerable to a greater governmental power of the region), he was in fact acting out of pride rather than in the humility he had formerly acquired through illness.
Added to this is the possibility that the Hebrew “kelav” refers to utensils used in Temple worship rather than to weapons. Therefore, in showing these utensils to the envoys of Babylon he would have been guilty of defiling the sanctity of their use in accordance with the priestly service. All this was done in a contrary fashion to his former actions of devotion and repentance. Many of us find ourselves in a similar position when having been delivered from sickness and adversity by the hand of God, we become confident in our health and well-being and find ourselves indulging a form of self-idolatry, strengthened by our temporary circumstance. This being in opposition to our former reliance on God and the strength that comes from right relationship in Him.
It is important to understand the last clause of 2 Chronicles 20:31 properly: “God proved him, that he might know all that was in his heart.” The “him” does not refer to God but to Hezekiah, “God proved him”, thus, the subsequent masculine terms refer to the direct precedent, Hezekiah. In order to understand this text correctly we should read “God proved Hezekiah, that Hezekiah might know all that was in his (Hezekiah’s) heart”.
Isa 39:3 Then came Yeshayahu (YHVH, he is salvation: Isaiah) the prophet unto king Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy), and said to him, “What did these men say? and from where have they come to you?” And Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy) said, “They are come from a far country to me, from Bavel (Confusion, Babylon).
Isaiah’s prompt attention to these events and the questions he asks are proof at very least of his suspicions. In fact, it is likely that Isaiah knew exactly what had taken place, either by prophetic insight or via news from the upper city. Therefore, Isaiah’s questions are intended to cause Hezekiah to reflect on what he had done, rather than being queries for information.
In this context the fact that Isaiah had to come to Hezekiah after the fact indicates that Hezekiah had not sought the prophet’s counsel beforehand regarding the Babylonian envoys: something that he would have done had he been focused on the will of Hashem rather than on his own strength and prosperity. In the past Isaiah had always warned against relying on the strength of human allies rather than relying on the God of Israel. Hezekiah’s actions serve to expose his failure to continue in righteousness following his recovery from illness and the deliverance of Jerusalem and Judah.
Hezekiah’s reluctant answer to Isaiah’s questions reveals a great deal. Hezekiah completely avoids answering the first question regarding what was said by the envoys of Babylon. Why? What was it that they had said? Most likely they had come to Hezekiah with a proposal of alliance from king Merodach-Baladan. Thus, Hezekiah was afraid to tell Isaiah what they had said because he knew that Isaiah, speaking the word of God, had warned against relying on human strength rather than on the God of Israel. The answer that Hezekiah did give was at best reluctant. He doesn’t name the country of the envoys origin outright, rather her buffers the name with the phrase “from a far country”, why? Because he knew that Babylon was both politically (historically) and spiritually (perpetually) opposed to the God of Israel and His chosen people.
Were Hezekiah to have carefully considered the nature of his meeting with the envoys of Babylon he would have realised that he was literally entertaining the envoys of Confusion. This in direct opposition to the God of Israel Who is a God of Order.
Isa 39:4 Then said he (Isaiah), “What have they seen in your house?” And Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy) answered, “They have seen all that is in my house: there is not a thing within my storehouse that I have not showed them.
Once again Isaiah asks a question in order to encourage Hezekiah to acknowledge the foolishness of what he has done. “My house” while specifically representative of the palace and lineage of Hezekiah, is also a figurative way of referring to all that Hezekiah has been given dominion over. Thus, he has shown the envoys of Babylon all the riches, arms and resources of Israel including her Temple utensils, sacred oil and ritual practises.
One hears the self-effacing incredulity in Hezekiah’s voice in the words “there is nothing within my storehouses that I have not shown them.” In other words “What have I done?”
Isa 39:5 Then said Yeshayahu (YHVH, he is salvation: Isaiah) to Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy), “Shema, Hear, listen, receive, comprehend, understand devar-HaShem a word of the LORD (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot Who goes warring (of hosts):
Isaiah instructs Hezekiah not only to hear but to listen, receive, comprehend and act accordingly, from a position of understanding. The Hebrew “Shema” embodies all these things.
This challenge is imparted to Hezekiah in the Name of Mercy, Who goes warring. Hezekiah had called on these attributes of God during his time of sickness and vulnerability: now God is coming to Hezekiah in the manifestation of these same attributes. Hezekiah must decide whether he will stand before Mercy, Who goes to war, or in humility, repent and follow behind HaShem Elohiym, the Merciful Judge.
Isa 39:6 Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, the days are coming, that all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have laid up in store until this day, will be carried to Bavel (Confusion, Babylon): nothing will be left,” says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD).
“Listen up, pay attention, the days are approaching when all that you have dominion over, including that which you received from your forebears, will be given over to confusion so that nothing remains: It is I, Mercy Himself, your God, Who says this to you.”
Some foolishly perceive these words as a threat. God does not threaten, a threat is vulnerable to dissolution, God’s words are not: Mercy does not threaten, He warns. A lion named Mercy, HaShem is fierce and ever ready to act graciously: we must chose between being mauled by Mercy or protected by Him? It’s up to us to decide between pride and humility. Pride is the lie that deceives and destroys, humility is the truth that reveals the strength in weakness.
This warning concerns the beit (household and lineage, past and future) of Hezekiah. Thus, it is the line of David and the tribe of Judah that is singled out for this particular exile.
This prophecy is exceptional: Babylon was then struggling for independence against the might of the Assyrian Empire, and yet Isaiah, prophesying by God’s Spirit (The testimony of Yeshua is the Spirit of Prophecy [Rev. 19:10]) reveals that Babylon will be the heiress to the Assyrian Empire, and that it was not from Assyria, that Judah’s destruction would come, but from Babylon, who was yet to rise to a position of power over the known world.
It is thought by some that based on the inferences made in Isaiah 38:19 and 39:7, and the fulfilment of them alluded to in Daniel 1:3, that Hezekiah had not yet produced children at the time of this prophecy. This is a reasonable conclusion given that 2 Kings 21:1 notes that Manasseh was 12 years old when he came to power as son and heir to Hezekiah.
“the days are coming”: In fact, the days referred to came only a few reigns later during Jehoiakim's time.
“all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have laid up in store until this day, will be carried to Bavel”: During Jehoiakim’s reign as king of Judah, his mother, servants, princes, and officials, were carried away captive by the king of Babylon, along with all the treasures of the king's house, and also all the treasures of the house of the Lord [The Temple] (2 Kings 24:12).
“Nothing will be left”: The Jewish commentator Yarchi notes that this was a just punishment, measure for measure. All was shown to the Babylonian envoys through the sin of Hezekiah, thus, all would be taken away. By this we can determine the accuracy of Yarchi’s former allusion to the Torah being shown to the Babylonian envoys (See note on 39:6). This also supports the reading of “utensils” (kelav) in place of “armaments” (39:2): Those utensils being the sacred utensils of the Temple service.
Isa 39:7 “Umibaneicha And of your sons, progeny that will issue from you, which you will bring forth, they will take away; and they will be sariysiym princes in the palace of the king of Bavel (Confusion, Babylon).”
Manasseh, Hezekiah’s immediate son (ben) was taken to Babylon, but was subsequently released. The greater fulfilment of this prophetic word is found in Jeconiah and his children, and in others that were of the royal seed (b’naiyim: children, ancestors, progeny etc.). The Jewish sages and commentators apply this prophecy to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
The Hebrew sariysiym, a plural form of the root sar (prince), while it might be applied to a eunuch (as many translate), is better translated here as princes. There is no Scriptural evidence to suggest that Manasseh, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael or Azariah were made eunuchs, and given the more common meaning of the Hebrew root, “princes” is the most logical choice. This is supported by both Ben Melekh and Kimchi, who understand sariysiym to mean princes.
Isa 39:8 Then Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy) said to Yeshayahu (YHVH, he is salvation: Isaiah), “Good is the devar-HaShem word of the (YHVH: Mercy) LORD which you have spoken.” He also said, “For there will be peace and truth in my days.”
“Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the Lord’s wrath did not come on them during the days of Hezekiah.” -2 Chronicles 32:26
The 2 Chronicles account seems to indicate that Hezekiah repented from his prideful actions and puts the statement “Good is the word of HaShem” in a context of repentance and humble reflection. Thus, Hezekiah acknowledges his sin and understands the delay in the fulfilment of the prophetic word as an impartation of God’s mercy toward him and his generation. To assume arrogance in the response of Hezekiah, is to deny the clear evidence to the contrary within the text of the 2 Chronicles account.
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
Babylon falls so that Israel can rise
Following destruction of Babylon, God will show mercy to His chosen people ethno-religious Israel and return her to her land, prospering her in peace and subduing her oppressors so that Israel will rule over those who had taken her captive.
This chapter contains prophecies of the restoration of the Jews, of the fall of the king of Babylon, and the destruction of the Assyrian empire, and the ruin of the Pilishtiym (immigrants). Proselytes will join the dispersed Jews and even aid their return to the land of Israel. Subsequently those who join themselves to Israel will serve her in the land and in many cases they will be the descendants of her oppressors. Thus Israel will rule over her captors. Israel will find rest in God and freedom from the fear and suffering she experienced under bondage.
As a result of her redemption and security in God, Israel will take up a song, share a parable, make a proclamation; concerning the fall of the king of Babylon. Israel’s song will echo throughout the nations and others will rejoice at hearing it. For the tyrant that once oppressed Israel and the nations will be brought down to Sheol, the holding place of the departed.
Following the parable spoken against the king of Babylon, prophecies of destruction are issued against Assyria and the Pilishtiym (immigrants) who have come against the people of Israel and their land. It is as if, with the seat of confusion (Babylon) destroyed, the progeny of her wickedness (Assyria and Philistia) are without sustenance from the root of confusion and therefore, perish.
Finally, those who ask how all this has come about are given the answer, “HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has founded Tziyon (Zion: parched land), and the humble of His people will seek refuge in it.”
Isa 14:1 For yeracheim mercy born of love HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) will show to Yaakov (Follower), u-vachar and will decide for, elect, choose od (perpetually going round) be’Yisrael on Israel (Overcomes in God), ve-hiniycham and rest them upon their own ad’matah soil: and join to them ha-geir (foreigners in Israel) the sojourners, and they shall cleave (attach themselves) to the house of Yaakov (Follower).
Mercy will show loving mercy to the follower and will choose him perpetually, living in the one who overcomes through God: the follower will rest securely in his own land and people from other tribes will join themselves to his tribe because of what Mercy has done.
The Holy Name denotes mercy. Therefore, it is Mercy Himself Who shows mercy to Yaakov the follower. The text doesn’t just say that God will “choose Yaakov” but that He will “perpetually choose Yaakov”. Rather than replace or supersede Yaakov, God will continually choose him throughout time and if other nations wish to be delivered by being chosen, they must attach themselves to Yaakov. It is attachment to and not replacement of Israel, that is the essence of the writings of Rav Shaul in his letter to the Roman believers of the first century CE.
Numerous English translations render the Hebrew “od” as “again”, which conveys only a derivative attribute of the word. In fact the Hebrew “od” literally means to go round continually. In short, it is best represented in English by the word “perpetually”. Therefore, while it is true that God chooses Israel again, the greater illumination of that truth is that He consistently and perpetually chooses her.
The Hebrew “geir” refers specifically to resident aliens. Meaning those who choose to live peacefully in the land among the community of Israel. Many of the instructions of the Torah make allowances for those who are not ethnically Jewish but live among the Jewish people. There is an important distinction to be made here between those who favour Israel from afar and those who live in the land as aliens who love and support her. The present text is referring to the latter.
Jewish commentators such as Kimchi and Ben Melech apply these verses to the times of the Messiah; and Yarchi to the Olam Haba (world to come), when Israel is to be redeemed with a perfect redemption.
Isa 14:2 And the amiym peoples shall take hold of them, ve-heviyum and enter together to mekomam their place: and the house of Yisrael (Overcomes in God) will possess them in adamat the land of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) for servants and handmaids: and it comes to pass that the captives will capture their captors; and they shall rule over their oppressors.
In this verse Isaiah further illuminates his former prophecy regarding the Messianic age when people from the nations will flock to the mountain of the Lord in order to learn to walk in His ways (Isa. 2:2-4).
Note that it is “amiym” rather than “goyim” that take hold of Yaakov and help him return to enter into the land of Israel and go up to “mekomam” their place. It is tribal groups from within the nations rather than the nation, who will cleave to Yaakov. More specifically, given the present context of the prophecy, these peoples are residents of Babylon who will help Jews escape and return to the land of Israel. A comparative edict from Cyrus of Persia was later made in fulfilment of what Jeremiah had spoken:
“And whosoever remains in any place where he sojourns, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.” -Ezra 1:4
“Mekomam” their place, is a reference to the Temple mount “Makoom”.
This aspect of the prophecy has never been fully realized politically speaking. However, it is intrinsically linked to the Messianic theme of Isaiah and the other prophets of the Tanakh (Isa. 2:2-4; 52:10; 54:2-5; 55:5; Mic. 4:1-4; Zech. 8:2-23).
In the present chapter we see a concise revelation of what is prophesied in chapters 46-66. That is, “Babylon falls, that Israel may rise!” -Delitzsch
Isa 14:3 And it comes to pass beyom in that day, ha-niyach the rest (comfort) of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) lecha will come to you meiatz’becha from your sorrow (pain, idol), and from ha-avdah your labour and hard bondage under which you were made to work.
The hard bondage of the Babylonian exile is likened to that of the bondage Israel suffered in Egypt. Once again the deliverance and rest of Israel rests on Hashem.
Notice that the comfort of Hashem will come to Israel both in compensation for and as a result of her bondage and suffering. The text says that the rest and mercy of Hashem will come to Israel “From” her suffering.
“…we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” -Romans 5:3
Our rest is born of Messiah’s suffering.
Isa 14:4 And all of you will nasa take up, carry, bear ha-mashal the parable, proverb, poem against the king of Bavel (Babylon: confusion), and say, “How has the oppressor ceased? Ceasing Madheivah his boisterous rage!
The Hebrew “nasa” carry or take up, is related to “neis” banner, miraculous sign. Thus, Israel is to take up and publically display this parable (mashal) of God’s goodness and redemption in His destruction of Babylon (figuratively, the seat of Satan’s power).
Though the text may refer to a specific Babylonian king (possibly Belshazzar), it none the less speaks against any and all satanic rulers of empire in history past, present and future. It is the seat of satanic power that is ultimately being spoken against.
We note that in a remez (hint) concerning the name of Bavel, that we read “And all of Israel will take up and proclaim this parable against the king of confusion.”
The rhetorical question, “How has the oppressor ceased?” is answered in the power and majesty of God Himself.
Isa 14:5 HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has broken in pieces mateih the staff, branch, tribe of the wicked ones, and sheivet the root, sceptre, tribe, rod of the rulers.
God will break the staff of the wicked and their oppressive rule (Specifically Babylon), the branch of their direct progeny and the entire tribe associated to them. He will also remove kingly authority from the seat of Satan’s power, never to allow rulers to come forth from it again.
Isa 14:6 He who struck the amiym peoples (tribes) in wrath with a continual striking, he that ruled the goyim nations in anger, is persecuted, and no one prevents it.
This verse describes the wicked actions of the king of Babylon and his open hatred for all the tribes (peoples) of the earth. He struck down tribes within nations and continued to strike nations in his unfounded anger. He persecuted many and few had the courage to stop him, nor were the courageous able to. This, though specific to the king of Babylon, is a description of every evil tyrant the world has or will know. It is ultimately a figure for Satan.
Isa 14:7 Nachah restful (comforting) shaktah tranquillity (quietness) is over all ha-aretz the land/earth: he breaks out with a ringing cry.
“Ha-aretz” can be translated either “Land” or “earth” here.” Land is acceptable because in the context of Israel’s parable against the king of Babylon it makes sense that they are thoughtful of their own land. On the other hand, tribes and nations are mentioned and the reign of the Babylonian Empire engulfed the entire middle east, therefore, it might just as well be translated “earth”.
Ultimately, the rest, peace, comfort, tranquillity and quietness over the earth, is the direct result of God’s destruction of the king of Babylon and his empire, both literally and figuratively.
“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” -revelation 19:20
Thus, the land/earth breaks out in song. This personification denotes the redemption and reconciliation of all things.
“For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” -Romans 8:19
Isa 14:8 Also , the fir trees rejoice at you, the cedars of Le’vanon (witness) saying, “Since you are asleep (have been laid down), no one has ascended to cut us down to the ground.”
Since the destruction of Babylon and its allies, no armies have entered the land of Israel to besiege its cities. Therefore, the trees of Lebanon to the north have not been cut down for use as siege towers and battering rams etc.
Figuratively the towering trees unfelled represent abundance and health in the land. They prosper in times of peace and in personified form they rejoice at the coming redemption of all things. Isaiah is very fond of personifying trees and seems to have had a special love for creation (Isa. 1:29, 30; 2:13; 6:13; 9:10; 10:18; 17:7; 32:15; 41:19; 55:13).
The euphemism “laid down” refers to temporal death. Yeshua used this same euphemism to refer to death of the body.
“Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” -Yochanan (John) 11:11
Isa 14:9 Sheol (Holding place of the departed) from beneath quakes for you to meet you as you enter: it stirs up for you the raphaiym spirits, all the he goats (chief ones) of the aretz earth; it has raised up from their thrones all the kings of the goyim nations. Isa 14:10 All of them will speak and say to you, “Have you also become as weak as we are? Have you become like us?
The next three verses are an excellent example for distinguishing between the holding place of the departed and the grave, which in Hebrew are two entirely different things. Sheol, the holding place of the departed is far beneath, and is a spiritual place that is cut off from all ties to this world. Ha-kever, the grave, on the other hand is the physical resting place of the body, devoid of but intrinsically linked to, the spirit/soul. Ancient Jews, and in fact many Jewish communities still to this day, inter the bodies of their dead in above ground mausoleums and or box like stone or concrete coverings. There are many examples of this in Scripture, including the interment of Avraham in the cave of Machpelah (Gen. 50:13) and the interment of the bones of Elisha (2 Kings 13:21).
In ancient times kings were met by the royalty of the cities they entered, usually with celebration of alliance in the case of allies and with humility and subservience in the case of the conquered. Here however, the king of Babylon will be met in Sheol by the spirits of departed kings who he once ruled over as a tyrant. They will greet him with taunting and mock his mortal frailty.
The phrase “He goats” is a metaphor for a chief or tribal ruler, in the sense that the strongest male is usually head of the flock.
“Raphayim”, means “feeble ones” or “spirits” as in departed spirits who are no longer inhabiting their earthly bodies. These spirits are bound to the realm of Sheol. Thus, “raised up” is written in the context of Sheol. They are raised up within Sheol from their fallen thrones.
Isa 14:11 Descending to Sheol (not the grave [Kever] but the place of the dead) is your majesty, the noise of your nevaleycha skin bag, pitcher, instrument: beneath you is a bed of maggots, and covering you are scarlet female worms.
“For when he dies he shall carry nothing away;
His glory shall not descend after him.” -Tehillim (Psalm) 49:17
Isa 14:12 How have you fallen from the heavens, heiyleil Shinning one, self-praising one, ben shachar son of the dawn? Cut down la’aretz to the ground, earth, land: choleish prostrated in weakness al-goyim upon the nations!
In a literary sense this verse refers to the king of Babylon. The text is figurative and alludes to his pompous pride and arrogant claims. The Babylonians worshipped numerous gods, chief among them being in the heavens. The morning star, that is the brightest star in the morning sky (Venus) was an enviable position for the king of Babylon and in his pride he likened himself to it. However, in the figurative language of the text he is said to be brought down from his high horse and laid prostrate in weakness before the nations he had once ruled over.
There are some who see a remez (hint) in this text and make a comparison to Satan being like an angel of light. While this is not the p’shat (plain meaning), it does have some weight to it. Yeshua may be alluding to this text when He says:
“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” -Luke 10:18
Isa 14:13 For you have said vile’vavecha in your inner being, heart, “Into the heavens I will ascend, I will exalt my throne above the stars of El (God: Judge): I will sit also upon the mount of the moeid appointed place (place of convocation and gathering), in the sides of the north:
Once again with dramatic hyperbole the proud ranting of the king of Babylon sees him exalting himself even above the stars (symbolic of angels) of the Supreme God El-Elyon, the God of all things. The Har-moeid mount of appointed gatherings, is a reference to the Temple mount in Jerusalem. Thus the king of Babylon boasts with the vilest of blasphemes, that he is greater than the God of Israel, Creator of the heavens and the earth.
Pride is the fruit of self-deification. Idolatry is the root of all sin. The boast of the king of Babylon is a satanic one. It is the very definition of anti-Messiah. Thus, figuratively speaking this text is alluding to the man of perdition, the anti-Messiah who will come in the latter days.
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for except there comes a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition. Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:5
In the Targum of Yonatan the last part of the verse reads:
"over the people of God I will put the throne of my kingdom;''
Isa 14:14 I will ascend upon the high place of the av dark clouds; I will be like le’Elyon the most High.
“I will ascend above all people… I will be higher than them all.” -Targum Yonatan
Isa 14:15 Surely to Sheol you will descend, to the extremity of the pit.
The plain meaning again refers to the king of Babylon and his literal death. The figure continues to show the demise of satanic power. In which case Sheol becomes a precursor to the second death.
“Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.” -Revelation 19:20
“The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” -Revelation 20:10
Isa 14:16 They that see you will gaze sharply at you, and with discernment say, “Is this ha-iysh the man that made ha-aretz the land, earth to tremble, that shook kingdoms?
The man is literally the king of Babylon and figuratively the anti-Messiah (man of perdition).
Isa 14:17 Who made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities within; refusing to open the house of his prisoners?”
This describes the horrific nature of the destruction that the king of Babylon brought to the cities of the earth. Those he imprisoned suffered a fate worse than death, never to see the light of day again.
Isa 14:18 All the kings of the goyim nations, all of them together, lie in glory, each one in his own house.
This means that the kings of these nations remained interred in their original burial places within their homelands awaiting the resurrection. “Glory” refers to their memory and their graves being honoured.
Isa 14:19 But you are cast out of your kever grave like a weed, and like the clothing of the slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.
We notice that the king of Babylon is cast out of his grave (kever), not out of Sheol (Holding place of the departed). This means that his enemies will dig up his grave and desecrate his remains, treading him under foot. This is the ultimate act of desecration over the dead.
Isa 14:20 You will not be teichad joined with them in burial, because you have destroyed your land, slain your people: do not recite the seed of evildoers.
The king of Babylon will not join the kings of the earth in honourable burial because unlike them he did not honour his own people. Thus his subjects took part in desecrating his body. One is reminded of modern history and the mockery and torture of Gadhafi when he was captured and subsequently killed and his body desecrated, all caught on film for the world to see.
The phrase, “Do not recite the seed of the evildoers” means, “Don’t recount the lineage of the wicked”.
Isa 14:21 Firmly established is the children’s matbeiach slaughtering place because of the iniquity of their fathers; they will not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities.
This is an instruction to the Medes and Persians to prepare themselves for the slaughter of the whole royal family, Belshazzar and all his children.
In a figurative sense it means the slaughter of all wickedness born of the seat of Satan’s temporal earthly power.
Isa 14:22 “For I will rise up against them”, says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (Who goes to war, of hosts), “and cut off from Bavel (Babylon: confusion) the name, and remnant, and offspring, and posterity”, says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy). Isa 14:23 “I will also appoint it a possession for the porcupine, ve-agmei mayim and troubled pools of water: and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction”, says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (Who goes to war, of hosts).
Here it is not the Medes who rise against Babylon but God Himself. This strengthens the figurative message that HaShem Tzevaot will go to war against evil and annihilate it, removing it forever from the eternal world of the righteous.
Isa 14:24 HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (Who goes to war, of hosts) has sworn, saying, “Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand”:
What God has firmly established cannot be thwarted.
Isa 14:25 “I will break Ashur (a step) the Assyrian in be’artziy My land, and upon My mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders”.
Now, having destroyed the root, Hashem turns to the fruit of the seat of evil, the other nations who have come against Israel and her God. The Assyrians who have invaded Israel and sought her destruction will be stamped out on the very mountains they presumed to occupy and as a result the burden of oppression suffered by the Jewish people will be removed.
The “yoke” can also refer to false teaching or the yoke of the teaching of foreign religions and spirituality. Thus, false gods and beliefs will be removed from Israel when Assyria is destroyed.
Isa 14:26 This is the purpose that is purposed upon col-ha-aretz the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all ha-goyim the nations.
All nations who act as Assyria has against Israel and against God will perish in like manner.
Isa 14:27 For HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (Who goes to war, of hosts) has purposed, and who shall frustrate it? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?
HaShem has perpetually purposed the redemption of Israel and the destruction of her enemies. No one can prevent what He has firmly established outside of time and space.
Isa 14:28 In the year that king Achaz (He has grasped) died was ha-masa this burden.
Achaz died approximately 715 BCE. The burden is the word against Philistia (immigrants) who dwell in the land of Israel.
Isa 14:29 Do not rejoice, you whole Peleshet (Land of immigrants), because the rod of him that struck you is broken: for out of the root of the nachash serpent shall come forth tzepa an adder, and his fruit saraph a fiery flying serpent.
The Pilishtiym, according to Genesis 10:14 (1 Chronicles 1:12) were a Hamitic people. Sometime during the second millennium BCE they came into Canaan from Caphtor (Crete) and settled along the southwestern coast of Israel below the territory of Judah.
Both historically and because this follows directly after the prophecy against Assyria, it is possible that the “rod of him that struck you” refers to the Assyrians. Another possibility is that it refers to Babylon, which makes more sense in light of the figurative language used regarding the serpent.
Whomever the enemy of the Pilishtiym may have been, the point is that from the remnant of that enemy an even deadlier foe will come against them and finally the deadliest of foes, as the progression of snake types shows.
Isa 14:30 And the firstborn of the poor will feed, and the needy will lie down in safety: and I will kill your root with famine, and he will slay your remnant.
The poor among the Jews who Philistia persecuted will receive food and Israel will lie down in peace while HaShem brings famine on the Pilishtiym and will wipe them out through the fiery serpent of the previous verse.
Isa 14:31 Heiliyliy Howl, O gate; cry, O city; you, whole Peleshet (Land of immigrants), dissolved: for there will come from the north a smoke, and there will be no straggler in his appointed times.
The confederacy of Philistia was made up of Ekron, Gath, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Gaza. Thus “the whole of Philistia” will be dissolved. The enemy coming from the north is unknown, but the description is similar to that of the Assyrian army as it approached to invade Israel (Isa. 5:26-27).
The Pilishtiym are mentioned for the last time by Zechariah (9:6). Thus Isaiah’s prophecy of their disappearance from history without a trace became a reality.
Isa 14:32 What answer will be given to malachiy-goy the messengers of the nation? That HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has founded Tziyon (Zion: parched land), and the humble of His people will seek refuge in it.
Nations will seek answers for the miraculous deliverance and prosperity of Israel. One answer will be given:
“HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has yesad founded Tziyon (Zion: parched land), and the humble of His people will seek refuge in it.”
The Hebrew “yesad” is from the root “yasad”, meaning founded, fixed, established, foundation. It is used in numerous scriptures in reference to the establishing/founding of the earth itself (Psalm 78:69; 119:90; Proverbs 3:19; Isaiah 45:18; Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15).
“The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding He established the heavens;” -Proverbs 3:19
The founding of Zion (The Holy mountain, Land and people of Israel) rests in YHVH the LORD. The answer is, that the least of peoples (Israel) have been established and find refuge due to the pre-ordained and sacred choice of God. We are who we are because He has loved us with an everlasting love. The answer is that we always have a place of shelter and refuge to return to, He is the Rock of our refuge, the fierce warrior of our protection, the humble King of sacrifice and the resurrection of the dead.
But be warned, only “the humble among his people seek refuge in mount Zion”.
Without humility, no one can come to God.
Copyright 2018 Yaakov Brown
Those united in hatred seek only the death of their enemies. In them the lesser lusts of the material world submit to the goal of their hatred, death. Once sated, all that remains is for them to consider their own fragile mortality and turn on one another.
This section of Isaiah from chapter 13 through 23, is a series of divine judgements against the nations: punishments for the sin they have committed against God and the nation of Israel. These judgements are called “Burdens” and deal with Israel’s neighbors.
There are a similar group of judgements in Jeremiah (Chapters 46-51), and in Ezekiel (Chapters 25-32). A careful reading of the Hebrew text suggests that Jeremiah was acquainted with Isaiah 13.
The first to be judged (keeping in mind that God has already judged Israel through the prophet’s previous proclamations) is Bavel, that is Babylon, the capital of the Chaldean Empire, situated in modern day Iraq. Babylon is used symbolically throughout Scripture as the center of the proud God defying pagan world. It is a figure denoting the seat of Satan’s power on earth and is seen as being part of an empire that resists both God and His chosen people ethno-religious Israel, the Jews.
This prophecy against Babylon, was fulfilled approximately 240 years after it was recorded. The Medes and Persians under Cyrus the Great (Isa. 45:8) of Persia conquered the Babylonian empire in 539 BCE. Cyrus was of Median descent and thus he was the perfect candidate for leading the combined armies of the Medes and Persians.
As is the case with all Hebrew prophecy, the cyclical nature of the prophecy allows for multiple fulfillments. Therefore, given that the literal location of Babylon (85km south of Baghdad) is now the subject of modern restoration projects, one must conclude that in order for this prophecy to made perfect it must be fully filled at the end of days. Thus, the prophecy of Revelation, as it pertains to Babylon and the Serpent (Satan) is intrinsically linked to the present text.
“And a mighty messenger took up a stone, it was a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, ‘Thus with a mighty fall shall Babylon, the great city, be cast down, and shall be found no more at all.” -Revelation 18:21
Isa 13:1 Masa Burden of Bavel (Babylon: Confusion), which chazah is perceived, seen, foreseen, by Yeshayahu (Isaiah: The Salvation of YHVH [Mercy] is his) the son of Amotz (Strong).
A burden of confusion foreseen by the one for whom Salvation is from Mercy, he is a son born of strength.
The Targum Yonatan (1 Century BCE) reads:
"the burden of the cup of cursing to give Babylon to drink:''
It’s important to note that the entire chapter is qualified by the fact that this is a prophecy concerning Babylon, which is, from the prophet’s perspective, in far off Chaldea. Therefore, the locations, the land (ha-aretz) etc. are all geographically linked to that eastern region and do not relate to the land of Israel. This is one of the exceptions to the use of ha-aretz as it is explained in my previous commentary on Isaiah.
The Hebrew “Masa” translated “Burden”, is derived from the root nasah, which means “to lift up, carry, bear”. In the present text it denotes the fact that the prophet is lifting up his voice against the enemies of Israel and is unable to keep silent because the weight of the prophecy given to him is too much to contain.
“And the rage of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) fills me, I am weary, impatient, grieved and offended, I cannot contain the measure of it.” -Yermiyahu (Jeremiah) 6:11
Given the use of the Hebrew “chazah”, it is possible that Isaiah saw these things in a vision.
Isa 13:2 Upon a mountain swept bare, seu lift up, carry, take neis a sign, miracle, banner, lift up your kol voice to them: they waved a hand and they enter into the doorways, openings, gates of nediyviym nobles, generous, princes, willing hearted.
The phrasing here is typical of Isaiah’s imagery throughout the scroll, and makes the arguments of those who say this was written by someone else and or redacted, untenable (5:26; 11:10; 18:3).
A cleared hill or mountain top was typically used to summon tribes and armies from distant places to gather for war. As warriors approached hand gestures were used and they would be called to from the hill top, “Enter into the gates of the nobles!”
This mountain or hill top is situated in the region of the Chaldean empire in modern day Iraq. Some claim that there was actually a gate to Babylon called “The Gate of the Nobles”.
“Vitringa thinks there may be an allusion to the mountain Zagrius, which divides Media and Persia from Assyria, mentioned by Strabo.” - Geograph. l. 11. p. 359
Babylon itself is spoken of as a mountain in the book of Jeremiah:
“Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, says Hashem (YHVH), which destroys all the earth; and I will stretch out my hand upon you, and roll you down from the rocks, and will make you a burnt mountain.” -Yermiyahu (Jeremiah 51:25
The Hebrew “Neis”, meaning sign, miraculous sign, banner etc. is used in Talmudic literature to refer to a proclamation of war:
"to gather against the mountain that is quiet, and trusts in its tranquillity, lift up a banner to the nations.''-Yarchi
We need not choose between the various meanings given for neis: it denotes something miraculous that God is doing as well as being a practical sign for the accumulation of the armed forces who are to fight against Babylon.
“Lift up your kol voice to them” refers to those being called to war against the city of Babylon, that is the Medes (13:17).
Isa 13:3 Ani I have tziveitiy given My orders lim’kudashay to My consecrated, sanctified, set apart ones, also, I have called My mighty men for my flaring nostril (anger), even My proudly exulting ones.
It is difficult for the modern reader to understand why HaShem would call otherwise pagan nations “My consecrated” and “My mighty men”, and “My proudly exulting ones”. This is where an understanding of the Hebrew concept of holiness kadosh is necessary.
“Lim’kudashay”, translates as “My consecrated ones” but is best understood as “My set apart ones”, meaning that the pagan nations of Mede and Persia have been set apart for a divine task. This does not mean that they are worshippers of the God of Israel, it simply means that God is in control of all things and calls nations to do His will for the sake of the redemption of Israel and the nations.
Isa 13:4 A kol voice, sound, noise of a multitude behariym in the mountains, in the likeness of a great am people! A kol voice, sound, noise of sheon a din, crash, uproar, tumult of the kingdoms of goyim nations gathered together! HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (Who goes forth to war, of heavens armies) is mustering tzeva those who go forth to battle.
The poetry, word play and turn of phrase in the Hebrew text is delightful. Tzevaot the God “Who goes out to war” is mustering tzeva those “who go out to battle”.
The noise of this great army was probably heard in the mountains of Media or on the mountains that bordered Chaldea, as the troops gathered to do battle against Babylon under the leadership of Cyrus the Great.
We know from Jeremiah that the army of Cyrus consisted not only of Medians and Persians but also of a number of smaller nations from the region.
“Set up a standard in the land, blow the horn among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz; appoint a marshal against her; cause the horses to come up as the rough canker- worm.” -Yermiyahu (Jeremiah) 51:28
Isa 13:5 They come from meieretz a land in a distant place, from the extremity of the heavens, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy all Ha-aretz the land.
The phrase Ha-aretz usually refers to the land of Israel. However, in the context of the present judgement it is qualified by the fact that the entire portion of Isaiah 13 refers to God’s wrath against Babylon and the empire of the Chaldeans. Therefore, ha-aretz here refers to the Land of what is now known as modern Iraq.
“They” refers to the Medes, Persians, and the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz.
Isa 13:6 Heiylilu Wail, howl, because near is yom a day of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy); keshod violence, havoc, destruction, devastation and ruin miShaday from the Almighty shall it come.
The Babylonians are instructed to howl in terror at the coming wrath of God. “Keshod meShaddai” destruction from the One Who is the All Sufficient Protector.
Isa 13:7 Upon, therefore col yadayim all hands a disheartening, and every levav inner being (heart) of a person will yimas dissolve, melt:
Complete and utter hopelessness will descend upon the people of Babylon and Chaldea, both civilian and soldier alike. Not only will their physical strength grow weak with hands hanging down but also their inner being and spiritual assurance will be dissolved like worthless chaff dissolved in sulphur pools.
Isa 13:8 and they will be terrified, hurried, dismayed; tziyriym envoys (pangs) vachavaliym and attached companies (sorrows) will grasp, seize, possess and take hold of them; they will be in pain as a woman in the travail of labour: they will look to one another in amazement; peneiy their faces lehaviym like flaming blade faces.
“The king of Babylon has heard the fame of them, and his hands wax feeble; anguish has taken hold of him, and pain, as of a woman in travail.” -Yermiyahu (Jeremiah) 50:43
The Hebrew phrase “Peneiy lehaviym peneiyhem”, their faces like flaming blade faces, denotes both red faced terror and the act of turning and striking a companion. Thus, in their terror at the wrath coming against them the Babylonians turned on each other. God has used similar circumstances to save Israel on other occasions.
“HaShem confused the enemy camp, so that the Ammonite and Moabite troops attacked and completely destroyed those from Edom. Then they turned against each other and fought until the entire camp was wiped out!” -2 Chronicles 20:22-23
“When the three hundred trumpets sounded, HaShem caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords.” -Judges 7:22
Isa 13:9 Hinei, Now, behold, yom a day of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) is coming, cruel, with an outpouring of wrath, fury, and fierce nostril flaring anger; to appoint Ha-aretz the land a desolation, and to destroy the sinners removing them from it.
Here the Hebrew text speaks of “a day of the Lord” rather than “the day of the Lord”. However, verse 13 speaks of “the day of His anger”. It seems that wrath will be poured out upon Babylon on a specific day during a figurative day, which can be understood to be the day of the Lord (A figurative day spanning many literal days).
Isa 13:10 For the stars (fig. brothers) of ha-shamayim the heavens and the constellations will not yaheilu give (fig. boast of) their oram light; choshakh darkened will be ha-shemesh the sun in its going forth, and the moon will not shine his (its) light.
This portion of the text employees personification as a figurative example of the all-encompassing distress that will be poured out upon Babylon and her empire.
The distress of the constellations and luminaries is of special significance to the Babylonians because they worshipped various deities associated to the heavenly host. Their gods would be in as much distress as they would. Thus, the complete devastation of the physical and spiritual nature of Babylon and the Chaldean empire and all that it represents. That is, the seat of Satan’s work on earth.
Isa 13:11 Upakad’tiy And I will punish, number, reckon al-tevel upon the world ra’ah evil, distress, misery and upon the wicked for their avonam perversity, iniquity: and I will put an end to the prideful presumption, and the haughty ones will be laid low with awful terror.
The phrase “upon the world” refers specifically to the world of Babylon. After all, the Medes and Persians who were to attack her were not at that time suffering punishment.
Isa 13:12 Esteemed of great value will be enosh a human being like fine gold, veadam and humanity will be like gold from Ophiyr (Reduced to ashes).
This is a figurative way of saying that there will be few Babylonians left to tell the tale. It is ironic that the gold of Ophiyr is referenced, as Ophiyr literally means “Reduced to ashes”.
Interestingly, the Targum Yonatan ( 1st Century BCE) gives figurative paraphrase of this verse and suggests that the survivors mentioned are actually righteous Israelites who lived within Babylon when she was overthrown:
"I will love them that fear me more than gold, of which men glory; and those that keep the law more than the fine gold of Ophir;'' -Targum Yonatan
Isa 13:13 Accordingly therefore, shamayim heavens will tremble and shaken will be Ha-aretz the land from its place, in the wrath of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (Who goes forth to war, of heavens armies), uveyom and in the day of his nostril flaring anger.
This can be taken both literally and figuratively relative to the worship of the celestial bodies.
The land referred to is the region including and surrounding modern day Iraq.
This language is also reminiscent of the description of wrath following the seventh bowl of Revelation:
“And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” – Revelation 16:17
Isa 13:14 Vehayah And it comes to pass, that as kitzviy the roebuck (beauty) mudakh is driven away, and as sheep that no man gathers, they will turn every man amo to his own people, and will flee every man artzo to his own land.
It comes to pass that like beauty driven away and sheep without anyone to gather them, each one will turn to his own people, each one fleeing to his own land.
Literally this verse describes those living in Babylon who have originated from other nations either by choice or by conquest. They will flee in terror to the nations and tribes of their birth.
Figuratively, the beauty of Babylon is driven away.
“Cut off the sower from Babylon, and him that handles the sickle in the time of harvest: for fear of the oppressing sword they shall turn everyone to his people, and they shall flee everyone to his own land.” – Yermiyahu (Jeremiah) 50:16
Isa 13:15 All that is found will be pierced through; and all who are hanispeh caught up, swept away, taken, shall fall by the sword. Isa 13:16 Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted, and their wives raped.
Simply put, everyone who is found in the city when it is taken will be put to death in callus ways.
“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” -Revelation 18:4
Isa 13:17 Hineniy Now, behold, I am ready, I will incite upon them the Maday (Medes: middle land), who will not regard silver, and as for gold, they will not delight in it.
The Medes and Persians suffered under the Chaldean empire and its capital Babylon. Thus, they came against her with vengeance in mind rather than for the purpose of gaining wealth. Therefore, they had no intention of showing mercy in battle. Those united in hatred seek only the death of their enemies. In them the lesser lusts of the material world submit to the goal of their hatred, death. Once sated, all that remains is for them to consider their own fragile mortality and turn on one another.
Isa 13:18 And bows will dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children.
The Medes were renowned for their prowess with the bow. The historian Xenophon suggests that Cyrus came to Babylon with a great number of archers and slingers (Cyropaedia, l. 2. sect. 1.).
The national vengeance of the Medes and Persians would be such that they would wantonly slay even mothers and babies.
The Medes were notorious for their cruelty, which eventually resulted in the ruin of their empire (Ammian. Marcellin. l. 23. c. 6. Diodor. Sicul. l. 13. p. 342.).
Isa 13:19 And it comes to pass that Bavel (Babylon: confusion, mixing), the beauty of kingdoms, the splendour and majesty of the Kasdiym (Chaldeans' clod breakers) their pride, will be destroyed by Elohiym (God: Judge) like Sedom (Sodom: Burning) and Amorah (Gomorrah: submersion).
The first and most ancient of kingdoms was Bavel, confusion, Babylon the Great (Gen. 10:10). In the dream of Nebuchadnezzar recorded in Daniel Babylon is represented as the head of gold (Daniel 2:31), she is also later called “lady of kingdoms” by Isaiah (Isa. 47:5).
Babylon is the ultimate symbol of human pride, it first divided the peoples when at the tower of Bavel (Gen. 11) the nations unified under her banner sought to be gods. Later Nebuchadnezzar would make a proud claim:
“The king spoke, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30).
Like the very symbols of prideful and ancient debauchery Sodom and Gomorrah, Babylon would not be allowed to continue indefinitely.
Isa 13:20 Never to be inhabited in perpetuity, neither will it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither will the Araviy (Arabian: mixed) pitch tent there; neither will shepherds allow their flocks to lie down there.
Babylon was destroyed and left desolate in 539 BCE, however, as the centuries have gone on restoration projects have been working toward its rebuilding. Thus, the first fulfilment of the prophecy is only partly qualified by the present text. Therefore, we await the perfection of this prophecy in the future. The Revelation affirms this by describing the ultimate and lasting destruction of Babylon, which is a figure for Satan’s seat of power on earth.
Isa 13:21 But wild beasts of the desert will lie there; and their houses will be full of howling animals; and benot yaanah a daughter bird (ostriches) will dwell there, usheiyriym and hairy demonic goats shall dance there.
There are a number of folk allusions in this verse. “Daughter of a bird” is literal but is also seen as a figurative description of sirens or bird women, which were demonic beings in ancient folk lore. The Hairy goats are seen by ancient commentators (Targum etc.) as demonic goats, satyrs (man goat hybrids) possessed goats (like the pigs Yeshua allowed a legion of demons to go into [Matt. 8:31-33; Mark 5:11-13; Luke 8:31-33]).
“And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” -Revelation 18:2
Isa 13:22 Veanah And testifying, answering, howling will be the jackals in the widow houses (deserted structures), vetaniym and the serpent beheiychleiy in the temples of delight: and near to come is her time, and her days shall not be prolonged.
We notice here the intrinsic connection to the final destruction of the satanic agenda and the seat of Satan’s power on earth. The Serpent may well have his temple of delight, but one day soon it will be left eternally desolate.
“He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.” -Revelation 20:2
Copyright Yaakov Brown 2018
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,