...the blood guilt that is presently manifest upon the lands of many western democracies due to the mass murder of pre-born human beings is palpable, and it remains that only the blood of those who shed it can cover it (Num. 35:33), except where those who have committed these crimes truly confess, and repent of them and accept the blood of Yeshua as ransom for their heinous acts.
A Supplementary Note:
Throughout my commentary I refer to the attributes of mercy and justice as they relate to the Names of God YHVH and Elohim. Some have asked where this understanding comes from. The following is a brief explanation.
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 & Judge of the universe (Gen 1:1-2:4a) and implies strength, power, rule, 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.
Therefore, we say “YHVH Elohim, our Merciful Judge”.
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 turns back from Me with lies and with deceit the house of Israel; and Judah continues to rule with God, and with the holy ones is faithful.
1  Efrayim (doubly fruitful) roeh feeds ruach a wind, breath, spirit verodeif and follows kadiym the east wind, breath, spirit; kol all hayom the day kazav deception vashod and destruction yarbeh increase. uveriyt and a covenant im-Ashur (a step) with Assyria yichrotu they have cut, veshemen and oil lemitzrayim to Egypt (double distress) yuval is carried.
“Efrayim feeds a wind, breath, spirit and follows the east wind, breath, spirit;”
The Hebrew text doesn’t say “feeds on a wind” but “feeds a wind”. This is supported by the Aramaic Targum:
“the house of Israel are like to one that sows the wind, and reaps the whirlwind all the day;” -Targum Yonatan
Ephraim, the northern kingship and its dominion “feeds a wind, breath, spirit” among the tribes of the north that is the fruit of following “the east wind, breath, spirit” of the Assyrians.
Both striving after and releasing wind are Biblical metaphors for futility (Ecclesiastes 1:14; Job 15:2). The particular wind being sown by Ephraim is one of idolatry (the calf idols etc.) Rashi notes that “roeh” (feed) is an expression of “reia” (friend) and that this infers a friendship with false gods.
“joins the wind Heb. רֹעֵה. An expression of רֵעַ, a friend. He joins words of the wind, viz. idolatry.” -Rashi
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.
Alternatively or jointly, the two types of wind alluded to may represent Egypt (2 Kings 17:4; Isaiah 30:6-7) and Assyria (Hosea 5:13, 7:11, 8:9; 2 Kings 17:3), the two powers with whom the northern kings sought to solidify their political position in the volatile region (The northern kings in question being Menahem, Pul, and Hoshea, who sought help from Shalmaneser of Assyria in order to assist them against their enemies, and to strengthen their kingdom [2 Kings 15:19]).
The ever changing nature of wind is also a factor here. With the exception of the Wind of God’s Spirit, winds are constantly shifting and changing and are therefore not a firm foundation on which to establish the direction of the nation.
“all the day deception and destruction increase.”
“He is forever adding Illusion to calamity.” -Sefaria English Version
The phrase “all the day” infers perpetual consequence. “Deception and destruction” increase as the fruit of Ephraim’s pursuit of foreign powers and false gods.
“Ephraim is a shepherd of wind and vanity in matters of faith, and all day long he lies and demons abound in the words spoken between a man and his friend,” -Malbim
“and a covenant with Assyria they have cut, and oil to Egypt is carried.”
“and they carried gifts to Egypt;” -Targum Yonatan
The kings of the north have “cut” a covenant in blood with the Assyrians in order to get a “step up” (Ashur). This symbolizes their embracing both the spirituality and the political strength of the Assyrian Empire. They have also carried “oil” (abundance, fat of the land) to Egypt, symbolising their attempts to use the abundance attributed to false gods as a means of purchasing political security. At that time these foreign powers were at war with one another for control of the east. Therefore, the kings of the north were playing both sides off against one another and would reap the dire consequences.
Ultimately, regardless of the political intrigue, Ephraim was seeking provision, protection and security from powers other than YHVH. In each instance they were practicing idolatry, in both its religious and secular forms.
2  Veriyv And a dispute laYHVH has the Lord (Mercy) im-Y’hudah with Judah (praise), velifkod and will appoint punishment al-Yaakov upon Jacob (follower) kema’alalayv for his deeds yashiv lo will return to him.
The southern kingdom is also put on notice. HaShem is bringing an indictment (ref. 4:1) against Judah and will establish punishment for all Israel, both Ephraim and Judah (ref. 10:11). Thus “upon Jacob”. The deeds of all the tribes will come back on them. They have sown a wind and will reap a whirlwind.
3  Babeten In the womb akav by the heel et-achiyv he grasped his brother, uveono and in his vigorous strength sarah he contended et-Elohiym with God/the Judge.
“prophet, say unto them, was it not said of Jacob, before he was born, that he would be greater than his brother?” -Targum Yonatan
The birth and life of Jacob, from whom all the tribes of Israel are descended (a chosen, ethno-religious people), is used as a mashal (teaching parable) by the prophet. It is as if HaShem were saying, “remember when you grasped after the right of the first born? (Gen. 25:25) And when as an adult you wrestled with My messenger (a man “iysh” Gen. 32:22-32), and I blessed you so that you overcame in Me “Yisrael” (yisra-overcome, El-God).
It is utter nonsense to say that Jacob is being referenced here as a deceiver by nature, something predicated on a misrepresentation of Jacob’s name propagated by far too many Christian theologians. One popular Christian commentary says “In their deceitfulness, Israel and Judah were living up to the name of their forefather…” If only they had been, for the name Jacob means “to grasp after, to follow”, it does not mean “deceiver”, a lie all too often promoted by the ignorant. Note that Radak rightly interprets the meaning of Jacob’s name:
“In the womb he (Jacob) followed his brother as it is said ‘and his hand held the heel of Esau’ and it was a great miracle that the foetus while in the womb having no strength or ability in even one of its limbs to achieve this, and the placenta would surely have ruptured and caught him in the heel of the other foetus, (and yet he wast able to do so) it is a great wonder…” -Radak on Hosea 12:3 
Further, Rashi rightly identifies God’s hand in promoting the position of Jacob over Esau, not through deceit but as a result of Divine intervention.
“In the womb, he seized his brother’s heel All this I did for him, he held him by the heel, as a sign that he would be a master over him.” -Rashi
We note that as a man Jacob, here symbolic of all Israel, wrestled with God as Judge. That is the point here, God has come to apostate Israel as Judge in order to reconcile her to Himself through discipline and t’shuvah (repentance, returning). In short, when Israel (Jacob) stops fighting against God and instead takes hold of Him and asks Him to bless and transform her, she, like her namesake and progenitor Jacob, will come into the fullness of her name “one who overcomes in God” (Israel).
4  Vayasar and he wrestled el-malach with a messenger (angel) vayuchal and attained; bachah he wept vayitchanen-lo and begged His favour. Beiyt-Eil At Bethel (house of God) yimtzaenu He found him, vesham and there yedabeir He spoke imanu with us,
“and he wrestled with a messenger and attained;”
Continuing the story of Jacob the finer details of his wrestling with God’s Messenger are affirmed. Jacob wrestled with a Messenger (Angel) [Hosea 12:4 (5)] who is also a Man (iysh) [Gen. 32:24]. The common misconception among English readers is that “angel” inherently denotes a noncorporeal supernatural or spiritual being with wings. While this is sometimes the case, it is not always the case. In some instances the Hebrew “malakh” refers to a human messenger, (the name of the prophet Malachi is from the root malakh and means “My messenger”) in others a supernatural messenger and in the present case, it refers to Imanu El (God with us), both man and supernatural being, at once both corporeal and noncorporeal. Therefore, we don’t ask “Did Jacob wrestle a man or an angel?” Rather we accept that he wrestled an individual Who is both a Man (the last Adam) and a Messenger (HaMalakh HaShem), God with us, Yeshua the resurrected and transcendent King Messiah.
“he wept and begged His favour.”
This refers to Jacob. It cannot refer to the Messenger/Angel as is suggested by the Jewish commentators Rashi, Yarchi and Kimkhi, along with numerous Christian theologians. In the account of Genesis 32 the only one who makes petition (begging) is Jacob, and the only one capable of bestowing favour is the Messenger (man) with Whom Jacob wrestles. Therefore, according to the Biblical text it is Jacob who “wept and begged His (the Man’s) favour”.
“25 So Jacob remained all by himself. Then a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn. [a] 26 When He saw that He had not overcome him, He struck the socket of his hip, so He dislocated the socket of Jacob’s hip when He wrestled with him. 27 Then He said, “Let Me go, for the dawn has broken.”
But he said, “I won’t let You go unless You bless me.”
28 Then He said to him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he said.
29 Then He said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but rather Israel, for you have struggled with God and with men, and you have overcome.”
30 Then Jacob asked and said, “Please tell me Your name.”
But He said, “What’s this—you are asking My name?” Then He blessed him there.
31 So Jacob named the place Peniel, “for I’ve seen God face to face, and my life has been spared.”
32 Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed by Peniel—limping because of his hip.” -Genesis 32:25-32 TLV
“At Bethel (house of God) He found him, and there He spoke with us,”
God is the nearest subject as the Messenger Who wrestled with Jacob. Therefore, we understand from this verse that God, as Messenger, not only wrestled with Jacob but is also the One who found Jacob at Bethel (Gen. 28:10-22), and that at that time, God spoke not only to the individual Jacob but also to all his progeny through him. This is why the text says “He (YHVH, as Messenger) spoke to us”.
Of this same Messenger/Angel, not a created being but that person of the all existing God Imanu El, Jacob says:
“The Messenger/Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” -Genesis 48:16
Note “which redeemed me from ALL evil”. Jacob understood that the Messenger/Angel of YHVH had not simply delivered him from Esau but had redeemed him from the wages of sin.
In summation, YHVH entered time and space to offer Jacob and his descendants blessing and deliverance from evil, speaking to all the generations of Jacob through His deliverer the King Messiah Yeshua (resurrected and transcendent [not pre-incarnate!]), the Malakh (messenger), Iysh (man), Imanu El (God with us).
5  VaYHVH And the Lord (Mercy), Eloheiy God hatzevaot the One Who goes warring, YHVH (Mercy) The Lord zichro is His remembrance (memorial, Name).
The nearest subject is the Messenger/Angel of the LORD Who spoke to all Israel through Jacob with whom He wrestled. Therefore, the Name/Memorial of the Messenger Who wrestled with Jacob is Eloheiy HaTzevaot God the One Who goes warring [God of the Hosts of the heavens]. We note that the usual designation YHVH Tzevaot is rendered differently here as Eloheiy HaTzevaot. This is because the Messenger Who is the Person of God manifest within time and space, is subject to the fullness of God Who is outside all things, thus the Messenger is called Eloheiy (Ruler, Judge, God) Who is the Person of YHVH with us.
However, the Messenger is also definitively YHVH, as the text says “YHVH is His Remembrance/Name.” This of course refers to the Messenger Yeshua the King Messiah, Imanu El God with us. It is interesting that elsewhere it appears that other than Hosea only the prophet Amos, a contemporary of Hosea uses the formula “Eloheiy Tzevaot” (Amos 3:13; 6:14; 9:5), and thus denotes that the speaker Who has imparted his words of prophecy is the Messenger/Angel of YHVH (Yeshua). This makes cohesive sense in light of the fact that almost every prophet is introduced to us as one to whom HaDavar YHVH the Word of the LORD has come (ref. John 1:1).
6  Veatah And you, beiloheycha in your God tashuv return to, chesed kindness, faithfulness, practical love umishpat and justice, shemor guard, keep, observe, vekaveh and wait, looking with hopeful expectation el-Eloheycha for your God tamiyd continually.
These words are spoken to all Israel (Jacob).
Based on the recollection of the Messenger of YHVH, Who has been with Israel from the beginning, it is Jacob (All Israel) who is now challenged to return in God to the practice of God’s character. Note that “In God” precedes the “return to kindness, faithfulness, practical love and justice…” all these being the practice of attributes of the Creator.
In God and having returned to right action, Jacob is then instructed to guard what he has been given and to look with hopeful expectation for the deliverance of his God, and not to cease looking, hoping, expecting. For if Jacob (Israel) will confess his sin HaShem is faithful and just to forgive Jacob (Israel) his sin and cleanse him from all unrighteousness.
Another contemporary of Hosea writes:
“For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest you will be saved; in quietness and in confidence will be your strength: and you would not.” -Isaiah 30:15
7  Kena’an A merchant (Canaanite), beyado in his hands mozneiy are scales mirmah of deceit, la’ashok aheiv he loves to oppress.
This verse opens with a wordplay (kena’an = merchant, khena’an = Canaan/Canaanite) that makes a correlation between Israel (named in the following verse as Ephraim, the northern kings and their dominion) and the Canaanite people of the land whom they had been tasked to remove because of their vile and idolatrous practices. Thus, in one sense, God is accusing Israel of being as vile as the Canaanites whom they had been tasked to remove from the land. And in another sense they are wicked merchants who use illusion to scam others out of their money, people who delight in oppressing others to the point of loving it (not unlike the practices of many producers, retailers, and advertisers today). The indictment is just, because Israel has literally adopted the false gods and the vile practices of the inhabitants of the land rather than imparting the light of God’s Torah (Instruction) to those same peoples.
“Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them away from [a]you, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to take possession of this land.’ Rather, it is because of the [b]wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. 5 It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you are going in to take possession of their land, [c]but it is because of the [d]wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God is driving them out from before you, and in order to confirm the [e]oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” -Deuteronomy 9:4-5 NASB
9 “When you enter the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to [f]imitate the detestable things of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, a soothsayer, one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who consults the dead. 12 For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God is going to drive them out before you. 13 You are to be blameless before the Lord your God. 14 For these nations, which you are going to dispossess, listen to soothsayers and diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so.” -Deuteronomy 18:9-14 NASB
8  Vayomer Efrayim And Ephraim said, “Ach Surely ashartiy I have become wealthy, matzatiy I have attained on liy vigour for myself; kol-yegiyay in all my toil lo yimtzeu-liy they will find no avon iniquity in me, asher-cheit which is sin.”
So great is the evil lifestyle of the northern kingdom that upon the foundation of self-provision and self-worship they have built with the straw of self-delusion. Though they were filthy with perverse iniquity they claim that there is no evidence of wicked practices nor fruit of sin in them. Self-sufficiency is manifest idolatry, and leads to self-destruction (cf. Hosea 10:13; Dt. 32:15-18).
Ephraim speaks the heart of the deceitful merchant, “There’s nothing wrong with my practices”. The secular world makes the same claim today, and sadly, so does a large portion of the wider body of believers. We dilute God’s word and claim righteousness while practicing wickedness.
“Such is the way of an adulterous woman; that she eats, and wipes her mouth, and says, I have done no wickedness.” -Proverbs 30:20
“Surely I have become rich Now why should I worship the Holy One, blessed be He?” -Rashi
“And Ephraim said: Surely I have become rich; I have found a deed for myself.” Jeroboam son of Nebat, who was of the tribe of Ephraim, boasts and declares: Surely I have become rich, I have found a deed for myself, one deed, that all Israel are my slaves, for my father acquired them, as it is written: And his brothers too went and fell before him, and said: Behold we are your slaves. And whatever a slave acquires belongs to his master. Hence, all their property is mine. Therefore, I have no sin if I take all that is theirs, for they are my slaves. What is written after this? And I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt. The greatness that came to your father in Egypt was from Me. Said the Holy One, blessed be He. ‘Behold we are your slaves,’ you have not forgotten, but ‘I am the Lord your God,’ which was stated in the Decalogue, you have forgotten, for you have erected two calves, one in Bethel and one in Dan. And according to the simple meaning of the verse, you say, “I have found power for myself through oppression and deceitful scales.” And I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt. There I distinguished between a droplet [of seed] of a firstborn and a droplet which was not of a firstborn. I also know and exact retribution from deceitful scales made without understanding and from one who hides his weights in salt in order to deceive.” -Rashi
9  Veanochiy And I am YHVH (Mercy) the Lord Eloheycha your God mei’eretz from the land mitzrayim of Egypt (double distress); od again oshiyvecha I will make you dwell vo’ohaliym in tents kiymeiy like the days of moeid an appointed time (festival).
Continuing the admonishment to think back to her humble beginnings (cf. Hosea 2:14-15, 13:4; Exodus 20:2), God reminds Israel that He is from before the beginning and was with her in her beginnings as Deliverer. He further reminds her of her disobedience which resulted in her dwelling in tents for forty years by way of discipline. What He is pointing back to He is also pointing forward to, a time of wandering and bondage born of her sin. Concisely put He is explaining to His wayward children that He continues to love them and seek to deliver them while disciplining them for their good, and that due to their rejection of His help and their wilful sin, suffering awaits.
“I will make you dwell in tents like the days of an appointed time (festival).”
The connection to dwelling in tents (temporary dwellings, sukkot) infers that a specific appointed time is being referenced, that being Sukkot (Festival of Booths) [Lev. 23:42-44]. The “days of an appointed time” more generally refers to the time of Israel’s desert wandering when the greatest of Israel’s prophets Moses first spoke to them and the prophets that followed walked in the same Spirit.
While prophesying discipline, this is also a promise of future restoration in the Messianic age, a reminder that just as God once manifestly dwelled with us while we lived in tents in the desert (the Cloud of the presence which dwelt in the Holy of holies in the mishkan [tent of meeting]), He will one day dwell with us eternally.
“And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall surely go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD Who goes warring, and to keep the festival of Sukkot.” -Zechariah 14:16
10  Vedibartiy And I have spoken al-haneviyiym upon the prophets, veanochiy and I chazon hirbeiytiy multiplied visions, uveyad and in the hand of haneviyiym the prophets adameh I used likenesses, comparisons, parables [alt. I appeared as likenesses].
Not only did YHVH speak through His prophets, He spoke upon them, with them, in them, around them. He spoke prolifically to His people the warnings intended to bring about repentance. He gave ample warning and is just in punishing them unto repentance (ref. Hosea 6:5; Amos 2:11, Heb. 1:1).
“In the hand of the prophets I used likenesses, comparisons, parables”
The hand denotes strength and the practice of carrying.
We note that the Hebrew “adameh” only figuratively alludes to parables. More literally it means “likeness, similitude”, which is why Rashi understands the text to say “I appeared to them in many likenesses”. This correlates to the previous verses concerning the Malakh (Angel, Messenger, Man).
God speaks common parables in the mouths of His prophets, using storys and metaphors that reflect the spiritual principles at work in everyday life. Likewise Yeshua spoke in parables using common elements to convey eternal truth (Numbers 12:6-8; Amos 1:1; 2 Sam. 12:1-4; Ps. 78:2; Isa. 5:1-7; Eze. 17:2, 24:3; Matt. 13:10-14). The message of redemption is spoken simply and clearly to all, so that all might be given the opportunity to receive God’s redemptive love.
“and to the prophets I assumed likenesses I appeared to them in many likenesses. Another explanation. I gave My words likenesses to them through allegories in order to make them comprehensible to their listeners.” -Rashi
11  Im-Gilead With Gilead (rocky region: witness heap) aven there is wickedness, ach-shav hayu they also have become worthless. BaGilgal In Gilgal (rolling wheel) shevariym zibeichu they slaughter (sacrifice) bulls, gam also, mizbechotam their altars kegaliym are like stone heaps, al talmeiy upon the furrows of shaday a field.
Gilead was invaded by the Assyrians between 734 and 732 BCE (2 Kings 15:29).
“Gilead” meaning “witness heap” testifies as a witness against its own vile sin.
The city Gilead in Gad (territory of the tribe of Gad) was the capital of the wider region of Gilead. The wider region covered area near and beyond the Jordan river, and was inhabited by Gad, Reuben, and the half tribe of Manasseh; and thus belonged to the ten tribes of the north.
The city of Gilead is thought to be Ramot-Gilead, a city of refuge inhabited by priests, both apostate and Levite. This made the sin of the city even more deplorable given that the priests and Levites had knowledge of the Torah but had clearly not properly conveyed that knowledge to the wider community.
While the wickedness alluded to can refer to murder and idolatrous sacrifices, it can also denote bloodguilt brought on the city by the misapplication of the law of refuge. It may be that murderers guilty of premeditated murder were being given refuge contrary to the law, or that those guilty of accidental killing were being given over to the avenger of blood rather than being protected by the city of refuge in accordance with Torah law*.
*The Bible names the six cities as being cities of refuge: Golan, Ramot-Gilead and Bosor, on the east of the Jordan river (Left bank) [Deut. 4:43; Josh. 20:8], and Kedesh, Shechem, and Hebron on the west bank of the Jordan river [Joshua 20:7].
Ref. Hosea 6:8-9 and notes.
“BaGilgal In Gilgal (rolling wheel) shevariym zibeichu they slaughter (sacrifice) bulls, gam also, mizbechotam their altars kegaliym are like stone heaps (that cover the dead), al talmeiy upon the furrows of shaday a field.”
There is a wordplay here using Gilgal and galiym (heaps, piles). The residents of Gilgal will see their altars so utterly destroyed that the stones of those altars will be scattered and will be picked up from the fields before ploughing and placed in piles.
"they have multiplied their altars, like heaps upon the borders of the fields;'' -Targum Yonatan
The Targum understands the piles of stones as being those picked from fields before ploughing and oiled at the edges.
The stone heaps may also be an allusion to stones piled over the dead. Ancient Jewish interment consisted not of burial beneath the ground but of tombs and or stones piled over the body above ground. Thus, the inference would be that the altars of these supposed gods of fertility and life would end up being broken apart and used as covering for dead bodies. Therefore, the false fertility gods of life are seen for what they are, dead gods, not gods at all.
The Gilgal mentioned here is connected to the wickedness of Gilead and is therefore likely to be the more northern location (Joshua 6:11) rather than the town bordering the territory of Judah and Benjamin (Joshua 15:7; 18:17).
“Gilgal” is thought to be the same as Gibeath-haaraloth, the location where Joshua renewed the covenant of circumcision (Joshua 5:3), following which the Passover was celebrated for the first time in the promised land (5:10). It was to Gilgal that the ark of the covenant was returned each day after the children of Israel paraded it around Jericho (Joshua 6:11). It’s where the Gibeonites made their treaty with Israel (9:3).
Samuel the prophet made Gilgal one of the three places where he held circuit court (1 Samuel 7:14).It was at Gilgal that Samuel killed Agag the king of the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:33).
Saul was both crowned and rejected as king at Gilgal (1 Samuel 11:14, 15).
Both Hosea and Amos refer to Gilgal as a centre for idolatry (Hosea 4:15; 9:15; 12:11; Amos 4:4; 5:5).
Elisha made Gilgal his headquarters for a time (2 Kings 2:1; 4:38). Gilgal also known as Beit Gilgal (Nehemiah 12:29).
Speaking of Gilgal Rashi says:
“There they worshipped idols to a great extent (on high places, absent in mss.). Since the Mishkan (Tent of meeting) was there first, the prophets of Baal would tell them that was a choice site, and it belonged to the kings of Israel.” -Rashi on Hosea 9:15
12  Vayivrach Yaakov And Jacob was driven away sedeih aram to the country of Aram (Arameans/Assyrians), vaya’avod and served Yisrael beishah for a wife, uveishah and for a wife shamar he kept, guarded, observed sheep.
Stepping back further God reminds Israel that her forebear and namesake Jacob served two lots of seven years for his wife Rachel after fleeing Esau and running to Paddan Aram, where he had become Laban’s herdsman (Gen. 28 through 31). Likewise YHVH had served as Shepherd over Israel, making her His wife. Jacob’s fleeing to Aram is also prophetic of the exile that is about to come upon the northern tribes (Assyrian exile) and subsequently also upon Judah and Benjamin (Babylonian exile), and exile of 70 years, a number representing fullness multiplied and a number connected to the nations of the earth.
13  Uvenaviy And in a prophet he’elah YHVH (Mercy) the Lord brought Yisrael up mimitzrayim from Egypt (double distress), uvenaviy and in a prophet nishmar he was kept, guarded, protected, observed.
The prophet is Moses (Nu. 12:6-8; Deut. 18:15, 34:10), who spoke of the future Prophet of prophets, the King Messiah (Heb.1):
“15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen; to him you shall listen. 16 This is in accordance with everything that you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Do not let me hear the voice of the Lord my God again, and do not let me see this great fire anymore, or I will die!’ 17 And the Lord said to me, ‘They have [g]spoken well. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them everything that I command him. 19 And it shall come about that whoever does not listen to My words which he speaks in My name, I Myself will [h]require it of him.” -Deuteronomy 18:15-19 NASB
Additionally, because “the Prophet” Moses spoke of is all existing (Yeshua, HaMalakh, The Angel/Messenger), and because Yeshua was present, in His resurrected, transcendent form as HaMalakh HaShem in the cloud that lead Israel out of Egypt and brought her to the promised land, we could understand the prophet who guarded Israel (in the later clause of this verse) to be Yeshua Himself, the King Messiah.
14  Hichiys Efrayim tamruriym Ephraim has provoked bitter anger; vedamayv and his blood alayv yitush will be left upon him, vecherpato yashiv lo Adonayv and his scorn Adonai will return to him.
“the fault of innocent blood which he shed shall return upon him:'' -Targum Yonatan
The Northern kings and their dominion had provoked God to anger by their many vile acts of idolatry, adultery, murder, and countless other heinous immoralities (Hosea 1:4, 4:2, 5:2, 6:8). The former verses consistently cite idolatry (spiritual adultery) as the primary sin of the north. Thus, HaShem is provoked in the same way a husband is provoked by a perpetually cheating wife (which is how Hosea’s scroll began).
“his blood will be left upon him and his scorn Adonai will return to him” is an allusion to blood guilt incurred through the murder of innocents.
“So you shall not defile the land in which you live; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of the one who shed it.” -Numbers 35:33 NASB
The Scripture also teaches that:
“Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow,
an undeserved curse cannot land.” -Proverbs 26:2
The people of the north had uttered curses through blood oaths to false gods and would receive back upon themselves that which they had been wishing upon others. Because an undeserved curse cannot land it returns to the one who spoke it. This is a dire warning to all who utter foolish curses. The right response to a realisation that we have acted in folly by way of cursing is to confess, repent and receive deliverance from God through the shed blood of Yeshua which releases us from curse. Further illuminating the teaching of Yeshua (Luke 6:28), Rav Shaul reminds us that except where God commands curse, we should bless and not curse (Romans 12:14-21).
Rashi makes an insightful drash (comparative teaching) on this verse:
“yea, bitterness (Heb. תַּמְרוּרִים,) they are to him for his blood which he shed by causing Israel to sin by clinging to idolatryand one who causes a person to sin is worse to him than one who kills him, as we learn from Ammon and Moab, who misled Israel to cling to Baal-Peor, and Scripture punished them more severely than an Egyptian and an Edomite, who drowned them in the river and went forth toward them with the sword...” -Rashi
We must be careful to understand blood guilt in a modern context. For example, medical techniques including some (not all) vaccinations and medications, utilize cultures grown in labs, originating from the cells of aborted foetuses. Therefore, even though the cultures are not technically cell tissue from the aborted foetuses they originate from, they are nonetheless indirectly connected to the murder of those preborn human beings.
Abortion (not miscarriage, nor a medical procedure that is necessary to save a mother’s life, but in all other cases) is infanticide/murder. Therefore, those who chose it, perform it, and those who use the tissue of the foetus for other purposes, bear the blood guilt associated to murder, as does the land upon which the abortion (murder) was committed.
The only exception is where the commandment for taking the life of a murderer in order to remove the blood guilt attached to the land, is contradicted by the Torah instruction to guard life. In which case the blood guilt is offset by the honouring of innocent life in the application of the medical technique or medication.
Nonetheless, the blood guilt that is presently manifest upon the lands of many western democracies due to the mass murder of preborn human beings is palpable, and it remains that only the blood of those who shed it can cover it (Num. 35:33), except where those who have committed these crimes truly confess, and repent of them and accept the blood of Yeshua as ransom for their heinous acts.
© 2021 Yaakov Brown
It’s not true to say only that “All things work together for good”, a part truth is a lie. What is true is that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28; cf. Eph. 1:11). Neither “things” nor “works” themselves are the cause, rather, they are the substance moulded by the cause, and the cause proceeds from God.
1Shimu-zot Hear, listen, receive, understand this, ha-kohaniym you the priests!
Ve’hakshiyvu and pay attention, be attentive, heed, incline your ears beiyt Yisrael house of Israel! Uveiyt ha-melekh And house of the king ha’azinu give ear, listen, harken, be obedient! Kiy For lachem upon you hamishpat is the judgment, kiy because you have been a pach bird trap le’Mitzpah at Mizpah (look out, watch point, watchtower), vereshet and a net perusah spread out, breaking in pieces al-Tavor (mound, breaking) on Tabor (Mt Tabor).
1Hear this, you priests!
Pay attention, house of Israel!
Listen, you of the house of the king!
For the judgment applies to you,
Because you have been a trap at Mizpah,
And a net spread out on Tabor.
a. “Hear… Pay attention… Listen” are a trifold admonishment in response to Israel’s wilful decision to block her ears, ignore and refuse to listen to God.
b. “You priests” is spoken to the illegitimate priests of the north but also regards Israel being a nation of priests called by God (Exodus 19:6) and finds its triplet in the “house of Israel” and the “house of the king”. Each of the three were responsible for maintaining justice: a. Priest [Godly, spiritual justice] b. Israel [social justice] c. King [justice of governance].
c. “House of the king” could refer to HaShem as King [the King], or to the king of Judah, linking to the reference to Judah in verse 5, it could also be a reference to Menachem [the then king of the north] or a symbolic reference to Jeroboam: of Ephraim, as first king of the north).
d. “Judgement” corresponds to “a trap” and “a net”.
e. The two locations of “Mizpah” and “Tabor” are mentioned as locations relating to Israel’s idolatrous sin against God. They mark two places where idolatry was being practiced, a reference to high places of occult worship. They may also have been look out stations intended to prevent members of the northern tribes from going up to Jerusalem to worship (Rashi).
“Hear this you priests”
God had called all Israel a “priesthood”:
“and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” -Exodus 19:6 NASB
It’s important to note that the priests of the northern kingdom appointed by Jeroboam were not Levites and therefore were illegitimate priests.
“And he (Jeroboam) made a house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.” -1 Kings 12:31 KJV
We could read “Hear this you illegitimate priests!”
“incline your ears house of Israel! And house of the king give ear”
The distinction made by admonishing the “house of Israel” and the “house of the king” could mean that God is addressing both the northern tribes and Judah (Benjamin). The remaining verses and the greater context makes this the most likely interpretation. However, as stated in the points above regarding the poetic mechanisms, there are at least two other possible interpretations.
“For upon you is the judgment, because you have been a bird trap at Mizpah (look out, watch point, watchtower), and a net spread out, breaking in pieces (mound, breaking) on Tabor.”
Bird traps and the like are used in Scripture as a metaphor of the practices of the wicked in entrapping innocent people (Job 18:8-10; Psalm 140:5; Proverbs 29:5; Lamentations 1:13). This adds weight to Rashi’s assertion that Mizpah and Tabor were look outs intended to prevent members of the northern tribes from going up to worship in Jerusalem.
Mizpah could be one of two places: 1. Mizpah in Gilead east of the Jordan (Genesis 31:43-49) 2. Mizpah in Benjamin (1 Samuel 7:5-6; 10:17). Given the historical context it seems more likely that Mizpah in Benjamin is being alluded to, making the indictment equally against the northern and southern kingdoms. However, Rashi infers that both locations were in the northern kingdom and were high points where look outs were placed to prevent members of the northern tribes from going up to Jerusalem to worship.
“On these two mountains they stationed sentries so that Israel would not make the pilgrimage to the Temple.” -Rashi
Regardless, as a result of her occult and idolatrous practices on the high places of Mizpah and Tabor, the northern kingdom and perhaps Benjamin (Mizpah: 1 Samuel 7:5-6; 10:17) have set a trap for all residents of Israel (and Judah) and have caused a breaking out of violence and debauchery that has permeated through the entire northern region and as a result has overflowed into Judah.
Mizpah means “look out” and Tabor “breaking”. Thus, both Israel (northern kingdom) and Judah have invited demonic false deities to have access to the north (Tabor) and south (Mizpah). They have done this by a. preventing those who wish to come to worship at the God appointed location of the temple mount and b. by worshipping other deities in syncretism with their worship of HaShem.
There is a warning here for all who believe. When we compromise the clear instruction of God and in turn allow other forms of worship to converge with our faith practice, we too invite demonic influence, and if we leave these things unaddressed, that influence becomes a stronghold with the potential to lead us to destruction.
2 Veshachatah And the slaughter seitiym of the rebels he’miyku has gone deep,
va’aniy And I musar will discipline lechulam all of them. 3 Aniy yadatiy I know Efrayim (doubly fruitful), veYisrael and Israel (Overcome in El) lo-nichchad is not hidden/cut off mimeniy from Me; kiy for now nitma unclean, impure Efrayim (doubly fruitful), has been, as has Israel.
2 And the rebels have gone deep in [a]depravity,
But I will discipline all of them.
3 I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from Me;
Because now, Ephraim, you have been unfaithful,
Israel has defiled itself.
a. “Depravity” is the fruit of “Rebellion”, and a loving God disciplines the ones He loves.
b. “Ephraim” and “Israel” (northern tribes) are synonymous terms. The northern tribes are neither hidden nor cut off from HaShem YHVH (Mercy).
c. “Unfaithfulness (in particular, sexual unfaithfulness)” is “Self-defilement”.
“the slaughter of the rebels has gone deep”
Iben Ezra calls them “those idolaters, revolters, or worshippers of Baal.”
This refers to the fruit of idolatrous blood sacrifices. Both the spiritual and physical implications have found their way into the depths of societal and individual consciousness.
“The extent of their straying they have deepened. I said that anyone who does not go up to Jerusalem on the Pilgrimage festivals transgresses a positive commandment, and they decreed that anyone who does go up to Jerusalem shall be put to death. Hence, they went deeper than I. I.e., they were more stringent than I (Sanhedrin 102a).” -Rashi
“I will discipline all of them”
“All of them” refers to all who have sinned. God is just, those who are part of the righteous remnant will go into exile along with the wicked but will be kept set apart from the punishment of the wicked.
“I know Efrayim, and Israel is not hidden/cut off from Me;”
“I know” is an intimate phrase denoting God’s relationship to Ephraim. “Not hidden” is an affirmation of God’s intimate knowledge of Israel and is a reminder of His All Knowing (omniscient) nature.
“Until Hosea son of Elah, they blamed their sins on their kings, who prevented them from going on the pilgrimages. This one arose and abolished the sentries; yet they did not go up. Therefore, they were exiled. For now you have committed harlotry, O Ephraim, and they cannot blame the king. I learned this in Seder Olam [Order of the world] (ch. 22).” -Rashi
4 Lo yitnu Nothing will be given them ma’aleiyhem from their deeds, lashuv to return el-Eloheiyhem to their God. Kiy For ruach a spirit, wind, breath of zenuniym prostitution, adultery, fornication bekirbam is within them, ve’et-YHVH and the particular YHVH (Mercy) lo yadau they do not know.
4 Their deeds will not allow them
To return to their God.
For a spirit of [b]infidelity is within them,
And they do not know the Lord.
a. “Their deeds” and “infidelity” are connected to a spirit (demonic) of infidelity which has gained access through the perpetual nature of their sin.
b. Their ability to “return to” is corrupted by the fact that they “do not know”.
“Nothing will be given them from their deeds, to return to their God.”
The fruit of idolatry does not lead to repentance. To the contrary, an awareness of God’s holiness exposes sin and leads to godly sorrow and returning. It’s not true to say only that “All things work together for good”, a part truth is a lie. What is true is that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28; cf. Eph. 1:11). Neither “things” nor “works” themselves are the cause, rather, they are the substance moulded by the cause, and the cause proceeds from God.
Persistent intentional sin, the decision to make sin a lifestyle, eventually leads a person to a place where repentance is impossible (Jeremiah 13:23; Hebrews 6:4-6).
“For a spirit, wind, breath of prostitution, adultery, fornication is within them,”
Israel, through perpetual and intentional sin has opened the door of her inner self to the demonic and the demonic has taken up residence “within” her. All of this is a result of her wilful ignorance of God:
“They do not know the LORD”
This is because they have refused to know Him. In one sense this is consistent with the sexual sin metaphor, in that they have rejected intimacy with their Husband and have “known” (in the Biblical sense: sexually) other husbands (false gods, foreigners, strangers).
They have sinned both corporeally and spiritually by practicing orgies of worship before false deities, on the high places that God had commanded them not to worship at.
5 Ve’anah and testifies, geon-Yisrael the pride of Israel befanayv in his face,
ve’yisraeil and Israel ve’Efrayim (doubly fruitful) and Ephraim yikashelu have stumbled, staggered ba’avonam in their depravity, iniquity, perversity; kashal stumbling gam-Y’hudah also Judah (praise) imam with them.
5 Moreover, the pride of Israel testifies against him,
And Israel and Ephraim stumble in their wrongdoing;
Judah also has stumbled with them.
a. The “pride of Israel”, “their wrong doing”, and the “stumbling” of Judah are a trifold indictment.
b. The sin itself (pride) is testifying against the sinner (Israel).
“and testifies, the pride of Israel in his face,”
The outworking of Israel’s pride is staring her in the face. Her sin is obvious to her. The use of the Hebrew befanayv denotes intimacy and affirms the idea of the previous verse that notes Israel’s intimacy with other lovers. One of her other lovers is her own pride.
“Israel and Ephraim have stumbled in their perversity…”
The Hebrew avon denotes vile perversity, the English (NASB) “wrong doing” is a benign translation. The imagery is of one who is caught in the quagmire of his own debasement, sin and death being both cause and effect.
“also Judah with them”
As evidenced by the repeated references to Judah, Israel (northern kingdom) are not alone in idolatrous practice (1:7; 3:5; 4:15; 5:5, 10, 12, 14; 6:11; 12:3). Judah has, of her own freewill chosen to adopt the idolatrous practices of Israel.
6 Betzonam With their flocks uvivkaram and herds yelechu they will walk (go out)
levakeish to seek et-YHVH (Mercy) the particular Lord, velo yimtzau and they will not find Him; chalatz He has withdrawn meihem from them.
6 They will go with their flocks and herds
To seek the Lord, but they will not find Him;
He has withdrawn from them.
a. “Flocks and herds” and “seek the LORD” qualify the flocks and herds as sacrificial animals intended for the covering of sin before YHVH.
b. “Will not find Him” and “withdrawn from them”, establish the fact that Israel’s intentional and perpetual idolatry has made it impossible, at this juncture, for her to find Him. They intend to defile the sacrifices commanded by God and as a result the sin sacrifices will be ineffective, leaving them incapable of reconciliation to YHVH, at this point in time.
“With their flocks and herds they will walk out”
“To seek the particular Lord, and they will not find Him; He has withdrawn from them.”
They intend to seek the LORD with syncretized worship practices. Therefore, He will not be found by them. It will be as if He has withdrawn from them. Grace and mercy are offered to all through blood covering but only the truly repentant can receive God’s free gift.
To seek to offer compromised sacrifices to YHVH in their situation was abhorrent (Isaiah 1:10-14; Amos 5:21-25; Micah 6:6-8). Note that when the prophets speak of God not wanting sacrifices and festivals they are not speaking of the proper observance of the LORD’s appointed times or the proper offering of sacrifices according to His Torah, but the syncretized, compromised observance of festivals and the offering of defiled sacrifices.
Rashi interprets “withdrawn” as “slipped off” and infers that God as Husband has removed Israel’s marital covering like the removal of a garment. This is consistent with the marriage metaphor.
“Heb. חָלַץ, slipped away. Comp. (2 Samuel 2:21) “and take to yourself his clothing (חֲלִצָתוֹ),” the clothing that you will slip off them.” -Rashi
This verse is not saying that Israel will never return to the LORD, but that she was unable to at that time. Elsewhere we are told that Israel will return to the LORD when she repents in the true integrity of her inner being (3:5; 5:15; Dt. 4:29—31; Jer. 29:13).
7 Ba-YHVH Against the LORD they have dealt bagadu treacherously,
Kiy For vaniym children zariym strangers yaladu they have given birth to.
Now yochlem chodesh the new moon/new month is devouring them et-chelkeiyhem with their portion, share, territory, possession.
7 They have dealt treacherously with the Lord,
For they have given birth to [c]illegitimate children.
Now the new moon will devour them with their [d]land.
a. “Dealt treacherously” finds its correlation in “given birth”.
b. “The LORD” and “illegitimate children” are connected phrases because a point is being made that Israel has birthed children of idolatrous practices and the children are therefore worshipping false gods because they are not the legitimate children of YHVH. In some cases the children in question are literally children born of the sexual union of Israelites and foreigners (idolaters).
“For children strangers they have given birth to…”
Israel had attributed the successful birth of her children to the Canaanite fertility god Ba’al and therefore have made Ba’al the father, making them legitimate children of Satan illegitimate children of Israel.
“the new moon/new month is devouring them with their portion, share, territory, possession.”
The desecration of the God appointed new moon celebration will become a sign of the punishment coming against Israel. The punishment will happen over a metaphorical month and she will be removed from her tribal territories and taken into captivity. Why, because the reason for the removal of the inhabitants of the land given to Israel, was their idolatrous behaviour (Lev. 20:23). Therefore, being a just God and Father, YHVH removes (temporarily) Israel for the same reason. However, being Israel’s Father YHVH intends this removal as temporal discipline and not permanent banishment (as some fools teach).
8 Tiku Blow shofar a ram’s horn ba-Givah in Gibeah (bowl, in the mountain district of Judea), And chatzotzerah the trumpet in ba-Ramah (high place, near to Gibeah).
Hariyu Shout, raise an alarm at Beit Aven (Beth-aven, House of vanity, wickedness, sorrow, iniquity): “Behind you, Benyamiyn (son of the right hand [strength])!”
8 Blow the horn in Gibeah,
And the trumpet in Ramah.
Sound an alarm at Beth-aven:
“Behind you, Benjamin!”
a. “Ram’s horn” and “Trumpet” are both instruments for calling the people. However, they serve different purposes in calling. The Ram’s horn is associated with the binding of Isaac (Gen. 22), the giving of the Torah (Ex. 19:16), the jubilee (Lev. 25:9), war & miracles (Jos. 6:4; Jdg. 6:34; 7:8) etc., whereas the silver trumpets were associated with the movement of the camp in the desert (Num. 10:2), the priesthood (Num. 10:8; 1 Ch. 15:24), worship (1 Ch. 13:8; 2 Ch. 5:12), and the coronation of kings (2 Ch. 23:11-13).
b. “Gibeah”, “Ramah”, and “Beth Aven” are all locations of idolatrous worship, two of which are in the territory of Benjamin (Gibeah and Ramah), and one on the border of Ephraim and Benjamin (Beth Aven), or, if Beth Aven and Bethel are the same place, then it is located in the territory of Benjamin just east of the border.
“Ram’s horn” (shofar) As stated, the ram’s horn is associated with the giving of the Torah (Ex. 19:16), 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.
“Trumpet” (chatzotzerah, silver trumpet) As stated, is associated with the movement of the camp in the desert (Num. 10:2), the priesthood (Num. 10:8; 1 Ch. 15:24), worship (1 Ch. 13:8; 2 Ch. 5:12), and the coronation of kings (2 Ch. 23:11-13).
Therefore, all aspects of meaning associated with both instruments are denoted in the naming of them:
1. The Torah has found you wanting (Ex. 19:16).
2. You will not be in the land to celebrate the jubilee (Lev. 25:9).
3. War is at hand, but the power of God is levelled against you by way of punishment at the hand of the Assyrian Empire (Jos. 6:4; Jdg. 6:34; 7:8).
4. The camp is about to move, into exile (Num. 10:2).
5. Your compromised priesthood will fall (Num. 10:8; 1 Ch. 15:24).
6. There will be an end to your apostate worship (1 Ch. 13:8; 2 Ch. 5:12).
7. The north will see no more kings (2 Ch. 23:11-13).
“Gibeah” and “Ramah” are situated in the territory of Benjamin. This means that the alarm being sounded is a warning to Judah and in particular to Benjamin. The Assyrian invasion is immanent.
“Beit-Aven” (House of vanity, wickedness, sorrow, iniquity) is a sarcastic way of referring to Bethel (House of God)[Talmud], and or a place very close to Bethel (Joshua 7:2), it was a main centre of northern apostate worship located in the territory of Ephraim/Benjamin. A place that has a strong connection to both the physical and spiritual journeys of the Patriarchs and in particularly to Jacob, who became Israel. It was on the border of the territories of Ephraim and Benjamin (according to the interpretation that equates it to Bethel it is technically located in the territory of Benjamin to the east of the border between the two territories).
It seems likely, given Hosea 4:15, that Beth Aven was considered to be part of the territory of Ephraim (northern tribes):
“Judah must not become an offender in the Gilgal; and don’t go into Beth-Aven” -Hosea 4:15
Proximity is important. Benjamin had absorbed the practices of the northern tribes. “Bad company corrupts good character” (Proverbs 1:8-19; 1 Corinthians 15:33).
“Sound a shofar: [O prophets, raise your voices like a shofar.] The news of the sword which is coming as retribution for the iniquity of crowning Saul, who was in Gibeah, and for disobeying Samuel, who was from Ramah. And their kings caused them to turn away from following Me, such as Jeroboam and his ilk. Shout over them, ‘Violence and great destruction!’” -Targum Yonatan
Some claim that this warning refers to the Aramean/Syrian and Ephraimite war 734-733 BCE recorded in 2 Kings 16:5-9 and alluded to in Isaiah 7:1-9. This cannot be determined definitively.
9 Efrayim (doubly fruitful) le’shamah will become a horror bayom in the day tocheichah of correction; beshivteiy Among the tribes of Yisrael I make known what is ne’emanah to be established.
9 Ephraim will become a desolation in the day of rebuke;
Among the tribes of Israel I make known what is trustworthy.
a. “Ephraim” and “Israel” are in one sense synonymous, however, Ephraim is mentioned as a symbol of the kings of the north (Jeroboam of Ephraim being the first king of the north), whereas Israel encompasses all the tribes. Thus, all are culpable.
b. “made known” and “firmly established” are phrases denoting the obvious outcomes of Israel’s sin and the just indictment made against her to her face by YHVH.
The plain meaning denotes the exile of the northern tribes at the hand of the Assyrians. Their exile will be a horror to both the northern tribes, who endure it, and the southern tribes who observe it. Nonetheless, the southern tribes failed to heed the warning and were taken into exile in Babylon approximately a hundred years later.
“Said Rabbi Abahu in the name of Rabbi Yose bar Chanina. On the day that the Holy One, blessed be He, debates with them in judgment, they will not be able to open their mouths, for among their tribes I made known that the judgment is a true judgment. You find that, when the ten tribes were exiled, Benjamin and Judah were not exiled, and the ten tribes were saying, Because they are the dwellers of His palace, He did not exile them. There is favouritism in this matter. God forbid, there is no favouritism, but their measure of sin was not yet full. As soon as they sinned, they were exiled. Then the ten tribes were bewildered, without an answer in their mouths, and they said, “Behold God! Behold the Mighty One! Behold the Just One! For even to those who dwell in His house He shows no favouritism.” This is to fulfil what is stated: Among the tribes of Israel I made known a true judgment. [from Lam. Rabbah, Proem 6]” -Rashi
10 The sareiy princes of Y’udah have become kemasigeiy like those who remove gevul a boundary (territory) marker; aleiyhem on them eshpoch I will pour out kamayim evratiy My fury like water.
10 The leaders of Judah have become like those who displace a boundary marker;
On them I will pour out My anger like water.
Idolatry is also present in Judah, perhaps not yet to the same extent but it is nonetheless growing. The exile of the northern tribes is to be an unheeded warning and the sins of Judah are being called out. The indictment against Judah addresses a sin against all the tribes. The moving of territory markers which secure the tribal allotments assigned by HaShem.
The Torah forbids the moving of boundary stones because it is an act of stealing from another tribe and a desecration against Israel as a whole.
“You shall not displace your neighbor’s boundary marker, which the ancestors have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to [q]possess.” -Deuteronomy 19:14 NASB
“Cursed is the one who moves his neighbor’s landmark.” - Deuteronomy 27:17 NKJV
This sin is abhorrent to HaShem because it is in direct opposition to His provision of an inheritance for all Israel. It would be a king of Judah who would one day rule over all the tribes in the Messianic age, therefore, for the then kings and princes of Judah to be likened to those who remove boundary markers is to say they have dishonoured their role as protectors of the inheritance of Israel.
11 Efrayim (doubly fruitful) ashuk is oppressed, retzutz crushed mishpat by judgment,
Kiy Because hoiyl he was determined halakh to walk achareiy after tzav a command.
12 Va’aniy And I am cha’ash like a moth to Efrayim, ve’charakav and like decay leveiyt Y’hudah to the house of Judah.
11 Ephraim is oppressed, broken by judgment,
Because he was determined to follow [e]man’s command.
12 Therefore I am like a moth to Ephraim,
And like rottenness to the house of Judah.
a. Ephraim’s oppression is the result of following a command of men, or of Ba’al (as opposed to the commands of God).
b. Oppression is the fruit of human sin, whereas judgement (in this case) is of God, Elohiym (the Judge).
c. “Moth” and “Rottenness” progressively destroy and are the result of neglect. In Israel’s case they have neglected the Torah of YHVH and have instead followed the doctrines of men.
“Now why does he suffer with all this? Because he wished and desired and followed the new commands of the prophets of Baal.” -Rashi
13 When Efrayim saw chalyo his sickness, and Y’udah his et-mezoro particular wound,
Efrayim then went to Ashur (Assyria, a step) vayishlach And sent to Melekh Yarev a king of Jareb (Contender). But he is unable lirpo to heal lachem you, or to yigheh take away mikem from you mazior your wound.
13 When Ephraim saw his sickness,
And Judah his [f]sore,
Ephraim then went to Assyria
And sent word to [g]King Jareb.
But he is unable to heal you,
Or to cure you of your [h]sore.
a. “Sickness” and “wound” are the result of idolatry.
b. “Ephraim (northern tribes)” and “Judah (including Benjamin)”
c. The northern kings went to Tiglath Pileser II for help.
Despite the protests of revisionist liberal scholars both Jewish and Christian, there is clear evidence here of the Assyrian threat.
“King Jareb” or “king of Jareb” appears to be another name for Tiglath Pileser II whom Assyrian records say received a tribute paid by the Israelite (northern tribes) kings Menachem and Hoshea (2 Kings 15:19-20; 17:2). The reading “Of Jareb” would mean that he was a king of a province called Jareb rather than a king named Jareb. This is consistent with the correlation to Tiglath Pileser II.
“This is Hosea son of Elah, who was his vassal and then rebelled against him (II Kings 17:4).” -Rashi
"and sent to the king that shall come to avenge them;'' -Targum Yonatan
14 Kiy For Anochiy I will be chashachal like a lion to Efrayim, vechakefiyr and like a young lion leveiyt to the house of Y’hudah. Aniy Aniy I, indeed I, etrof will tear to pieces ve’elech and go away, esa carrying away, ve’eiyn matziyl and there will be no one to rescue.
14 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim
And like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I, yes I, will tear to pieces and go away,
I will carry away, and there will be no one to rescue.
The metaphor “like a lion” used of YHVH is consistent with similar usage elsewhere in prophetic literature. The King Messiah is known as the “Lion of Judah” (Rev. 5:5).
The Assyrian Empire will take away the northern tribes, however, God is in control of what takes place, therefore, He is the One who carries Israel away as prey.
15 I eilech will go ashuvah and return el-makumiy to My place, ad until asher-yeshemu they acknowledge their guilt uvikshu and seek panay My face; batzar In their distress lahem yeshacharuniy they will earnestly search for Me.
15 I will go away and return to My place
Until they [i]acknowledge their guilt and seek My face;
In their distress they will search for Me.
“I will go and return to My place,”
While the plain meaning indicates that God will withdraw His protection over Israel. It is worth noting that the Hebrew el-makumiy can be understood to refer to the temple mount in Jerusalem ha-makum.
“Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face”
According to the redemptive rhythm of the prophetic work an opportunity for repentance is given along with hope for reconciliation.
The acknowledgement of sin is necessary and to seek intimate knowledge of God is essential in order for reconciliation to take place.
“In their distress they will search for Me.”
The discipline that will result in Israel’s distress is intended to bring her to godly sorrow unto repentance and to deliver her from her self-harming lifestyle of idolatry.
“29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things happen to you, in the latter days you will return to the Lord your God and listen to His voice.” - Deuteronomy 4:29-30 NASB
Copyright 2021 Yaakov Brown
Therefore God allows evil a temporary opportunity in order that evil might destroy itself in seeking to destroy God.
1 Pilate (Pilatos[G], meaning: armed with a spear) then took Yeshua[H] (Iesous[G], Joshua, YHVH Saves, Jesus) and scourged, brutally flogged (mastigoo[G]) Him.
Pilate’s command to scourge Yeshua is not the act of a person who considers the accused to be innocent. Pilate had confirmed that Yeshua was a king of sorts and a possible threat to the stability of Roman occupied Judea. Therefore, the political rhetoric of Pilate in debating the matter with the Jewish religious leaders was simply the means by which he would satisfy Roman law and seek to make himself immune to political repercussions.
Contrary to the suppositions of a number popular albeit misguided Christian scholars, Pilate did not have Yeshua scourged in order to save Him. The scourging itself was known to result in death at times, and cannot therefore be considered a ruse for the purpose of freeing Yeshua. We note that Pilate “took” Yeshua to be scourged. He was an active participant in this vile punishing of an innocent man, and based on Pilate’s history this was certainly not the first time he had done such a thing to the leader of a Jewish uprising.
2 And the Roman soldiers (stratiotes[G]) twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; 3 and they began to come up to Him and say, “Rejoice, be glad hail (chairo[G]), King of the Jewish People (Melekh Ha-Yehudiym[H])!” and they struck Him with a rod (rhapisma[G]).
The crown of thorns and purple robe were tools of mockery. Both symbolised kingship, the former a kingship of briars.
Thorns grow prolifically in the Israeli desert and there is a concentration of various thorns in and around Ein Gedi (spring of a kid goat) where David hid from king Saul prior to David’s ascension to the throne of Israel (1 Samuel 23:29, 24:1–2; ). One more recent thorn variety (introduced to the land approx.. 800 years ago) named the Jujube thorn has been given the name “Messiah’s Thorn” by Christians based on the connection between king David and the King Messiah Yeshua.
While we cannot know exactly which thorn was used for the crown of thorns harshly forced upon Yeshua’s head, it is interesting to note the fact that thorns typically grow in the desert and that there is a connection to these thorns and David’s suffering persecution under a king (authority) whose reign God had already determined was to come to an end.
In the case of Yeshua the greater Son of David (King Messiah), the apostate priestly authority of the early first century had already been destined for destruction by God. Sensing that their time of illegitimate power was coming to an end and being jealous of the King Messiah Yeshua, the apostate priesthood like king Saul, sought to persecute the true King.
The crown of thorns full of torture and mockery is none the less a fitting crown for the suffering Servant of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). Yeshua is the ultimate suffering King, not because of His flogging and crucifixion alone (many were flogged and crucified by Rome) but because He suffered the burden of the sins of humanity so that He might deliver us from the wrath of God against sin. The Scripture says “Him (Yeshua) who knew no sin He made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 and “He Himself (Yeshua) bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were made whole.” 1 Peter 2:24 and “He (Yeshua) is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2.
Therefore, the weight of immeasurable suffering endured by Yeshua makes Him King of Thorns (Sorrow) even as His resurrection makes Him King of All, appointed by God. Having known the greatest of sorrows He is able to comfort us in our sorrow, and having overcome death He is able to fill us with the hope of glory.
There is yet another comparison to be made with the mountain goats of Ein Gedi (spring of a kid goat) and the King Messiah, Who is the “Goat for HaShem” of the Yom Kippur sacrifices.
4 Pilate (Pilatos[G]) came out again and said to them (the Jewish religious leaders), “See (eido[G]), I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know (ginosko[G]) that I find no guilt in Him.”
Pilate brings Yeshua out for a show of Roman piety. We have already learned that Pilate was complicit in the arrest of Yeshua and had an ongoing political relationship with the religious leaders of Israel. Pilate knew what the religious leaders wanted and He knew that he needed to get rid of anyone leading an uprising among the Jewish people. Further, he had already sought proof of Yeshua’s kingship and acknowledged Yeshua as a king and therefore had found guilt albeit erroneous. Today we would call this show of Pilate’s virtue signalling, in the first century it would have been considered nothing short of theatrics. Pilate had clearly decided Yeshua was sufficiently guilty to receive a scourging and was simply looking for a way to “wash his hands” of the matter. Pilate, like the religious leaders was a hypocrite of the worst kind.
5 Yeshua[H] then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate (Pilatos[G]) said to them, “Behold (idou[G], hineih[H]), the Man (ho anthropos[G], ha gaver[H])!”
Pilate mocks Yeshua’s kingship and adds salt to the wounded pride of the religious Jewish leaders by proclaiming “Behold the man”, and idiomatic saying denoting a great king, more accurately “The Great King”.
As one could imagine this insult drove the religious leaders into a frenzy of hatred, firstly toward Pilate and ultimately against the man Whom they considered a greater threat to their religious power over the Jewish nation.
6 So when the chief priests (archiereus[G], hakohaniym[H]) and the servants (huperetes[G]) saw Him, they shouted out saying, “Crucify [destroy], crucify [drive stakes into] (stauroo[G])!” Pilate (Pilatos[G]) said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify (stauroo[G]) Him, for I find no crime (aitia[G]) in Him.”
Once again Pilate seeks to exacerbate the religious leaders. Pilate is well aware that the Jewish leaders have no authority under Roman occupation to put anyone to death least of all crucify someone according to the Roman method of execution. What is more Pilate had found crime in Yeshua albeit erroneous, and had intentionally exacerbated the Jewish religious leaders knowing that they would insist on what Pilate also wanted, the death of Yeshua the would be king.
7 The Jewish religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) answered him, “We have a law (nomos[G]), and by that law (Torah[H]) He ought to die because He made Himself (heautou poieo[G]) the Son of God (uihos Theos[G], haBen Elohiym[H]).”
The religious leaders are citing the Torah law against blasphemy (Vayikra [Lev.] 24:16). In their view to call one’s self “a son of God” was acceptable but to call one’s self “the Son of God” was blasphemy. If Yeshua were not ImanuEl (with us God) their claim would have been valid, however Yeshua is God with us making it impossible for Him to have blasphemed.
8 Therefore when Pilate (Pilatos[G]) heard this statement, he was even more afraid; 9 and he entered into the Praetorium (praitōrion[G]) [Governor’s court room] again and said to Yeshua[H], “Where are You from?”
Pilate’s fear was based on superstition and Roman idolatry, something that permeated his household. This is corroborated by his wife’s dream which she interpreted as an ill omen (Matthew 27:19). Pilate wondered whether it were possible that Yeshua were a son of one of the gods (Rome adopted and assimilated gods from all reaches of the empire). Therefore, his question to Yeshua was born not of the fear of the One true God of Israel but due to Pilate’s idolatrous superstition.
But Yeshua[H] did not answer him. 10 So Pilate (Pilatos[G]) said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not see (eido[G]) that I have the power (exousia[G]) to release You, and I have the power (exousia[G]) to crucify [drive stakes into] (stauroo[G]) You?”
Note that Pilate’s fear did not last long. When his authority was rebuffed by Yeshua’s silence he went straight back to the infantile “I’m the one in charge here!”
Yeshua had already explained that His kingdom was not of the present sin affected world. He had given Pilate an opportunity to listen and accept the truth of Who He was. Pilate had brushed Yeshua’s words aside with pagan philosophy saying “What is truth”. Therefore, his present attempts to induce an answer from Yeshua seem ingenuine at best, born of superstitious fear rather than a genuine desire to see Yeshua released. Pilate’s threat bears no weight because it is levelled against the One Who has been given all authority by the Father God.
11 Yeshua[H] answered, “You would have no power (exousia[G]) over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he (singular) who delivered Me to you holds (echo[G]) greater (megas[G]) sin (hamartia[G]).”
Note that God is in control even of evil. God has allowed Pilate to act unjustly. God could have chosen to save Yeshua but did not. God is either in control of all things or He is not. If He is not then evil has control of certain outcomes and God is not all powerful. Therefore God allows evil a temporary opportunity in order that evil might destroy itself in seeking to destroy God. The created thing is subject to the Creator. Evil is the fruit of a created thing, therefore, both that thing and its fruit are subject to God.
Note also that Yeshua does not say that Pilate is without sin in this matter, just that the sin of the individual who betrayed Him (Judas Iscariot) is greater.
12 As a result of this Pilate (Pilatos[G]) dismissed (apoluo[G]) Him, moreover the Jewish religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend (philos[G]) of Caesar (Kaisar[G]: severed); everyone who makes himself out a king opposes Caesar.”
Pilate temporarily dismissed Yeshua to the care of the Roman guards but was immediately faced with a poignant reminder of fealty to Caesar. The phrase “Friend of Caesar” is said to have been a title used of those who were held in Caesar’s good graces.
13 Therefore when Pilate (Pilatos[G]) heard these words, he brought Yeshua[H] out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in a language of the Hebrews (Hebraisti[G]), Gabbatha[A] (mosaic pavement).
Pilate, who had based his entire reasoning regarding the case of Yeshua on the crime of opposing Caesar’s kingship, had convinced himself that the assertion of the Jewish religious leaders was confirmation of the necessary verdict. Therefore, he had Yeshua brought back out from the holding cell where he had temporarily sent Him.
Pilate sat in the seat of judgement on the platform known as Gabbatha in Aramaic (a language of the Hebrews) ready to pass judgement on Yeshua.
14 Now it was a time of preparation (paraskeue[G]) for the Pascha[G] (Chagigah[H], Temple Passover sacrifices); it was about the sixth hour (6am Roman time). And he said to the Jewish religious leaders, Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]), “See (eido[G]), your King (basileus[G], Melekh[H])!”
“The sixth hour” is an exception in Yochanan’s recording of time. Here the sixth hour obviously refers to the sixth hour according to Roman reckoning as determined from 12am. Whereas, elsewhere in his gospel Yochanan uses the Jewish standard for measuring time. This can be explained by context. The trial of Yeshua was conducted according to Roman law and therefore the time is described using Roman reckoning. In most other cases because Yochanan is conveying a Jewish gospel to a primarily Jewish audience he uses the Jewish method of reckoning time. Mark’s gospel records that the crucifixion began at the third hour according to Jewish time keeping (9am), three hours after Pilate’s pronouncement of judgement against Yeshua.
“See, your King!” This taunt is clear evidence of Pilate’s unrepentant heart and his insidious motives. He knows that the Jewish religious leaders hate the idea of Yeshua being king of the Jews and that they will demand Yeshua’s death in response to Pilate’s mocking proclamation.
15 So they (the Jewish religious leaders) shouted out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify [drive stakes into] (stauroo[G]) Him!” Pilate (Pilatos[G]) said to them, “Shall I crucify [drive stakes into] (stauroo[G]) your King (basileus[G], Melekh[H])?” The chief priests (archiereus[G], hakohaniym[H]) answered, “We have no king (basileus[G], Melekh[H]) but Caesar (Kaisar[G]: severed).”
Once again Pilate pushes home his advantage over the religious Jewish leaders with whom he is locked in a political power struggle. He repeats his previous taunt posing it as a question “Shall I crucify your king?”
We note that it is a select group among the priests, “the chief priests” that answer with the chilling and ironically blasphemous claim “We have no king but Caesar.” The literal meaning here would be that the two chief priests (Annas [retired] and Caiaphas) spoke this phrase.
16 So he (Pilate) then handed Him over to them to be crucified.
Pilate handed Yeshua over to the Roman soldiers tasked with performing the crucifixion. If Pilate believed Yeshua innocent he had every opportunity to deny the religious leaders access to Him, and every opportunity to hold Him quietly for a while and then release Him. Instead he handed Yeshua over, not to the Jewish religious leaders but to his Roman soldiers.
17 They (Roman soldiers) took Yeshua[H], therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in a language of the Hebrews, Golgotha[A] (Skull).
Historically speaking it seems that those undergoing crucifixion in first century Roman occupied Judea were tasked with carrying the cross beam of their execution stake. We know from Mark 15:21 that Yeshua carried his own cross beam only part of the way to Golgotha at which point Shimon of Cyrene (a Grecian Jew) took over.
The location of Golgotha is debated but was most likely situated outside the first century Jerusalem city walls to the north west.
An interesting Midrash from the 9th century C.E. describes the Messiah as undergoing a similar experience to that of Yeshua. It seems that within the rabbinic Judaism of the 9th century C.E. there were those who either practiced Messianic faith quietly or had adopted and syncretised Messianic ideas.
“In the seven years prior to the coming of the son of David, they will bring iron beams and load them on his neck until his body doubles over and he cries and weeps. Then his voice will rise to the highest places of heaven, and he will say to God, 'Master of the Universe, how much can my strength endure? How much my spirit, my soul, my limbs? Am I not flesh and blood?' It was because of this suffering of the son of David that David wept, saying, 'My strength is dried up like a potsherd' (Psalm 22:16(15)). During this ordeal the Holy One, blessed be he, will say to the son of David, 'Ephrayim, my true Messiah, you took this suffering on yourself long ago, during the six days of creation. And right now, your pain is like my pain [due to the destruction of the Temple].' At this the Messiah will reply, 'Now I am at peace. It is enough for a servant to be like his master.'" -Pesikta Rabbati 36:2
It is interesting to note that the latter portion concerning creation affirms the teaching of Yochanan (John) 1 and Revelation 13:8.
18 There they crucified [drove stakes into] (stauroo[G]) Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Yeshua[H] in between.
Cf. Matthew 27:38, Mark 15:27–28,32, Luke 23:33
The Gospel of Mark interprets this as fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah 53:12
“Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.” -Isaiah 53:12 NIV
19 Pilate (Pilatos[G]) also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “Yeshua Hanatzriy Melekh Hay’hudiym[H]” (Yeshua the Nazarene King of the Jewish People). 20 Therefore many of the Jewish people (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) read this inscription, for the place where Yeshua[H] was crucified was near the city (Jerusalem); and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and in Greek.
Pilate wrote this inscription to both taunt the Jewish religious leaders and make clear his legitimate reason for allowing the crucifixion to go ahead. If Yeshua was King of the Jews then He was a threat to the sovereignty of Rome in Judea and a usurper of the authority of Caesar. This was a capital crime.
Contrary to the now prolific Messianic mis-teaching regarding the sign above Yeshua’s head, the Holy Name of God YHVH is not represented. The mis-teaching adds the Hebrew (or Aramaic) “AND” (vav/waw) to the title in order to make it say what the authors’ of this mis-teaching want it to say so as to force the text to meet their albeit altruistic conjecture.
The text of John’s gospel in Greek, and when translated into Latin and Hebrew in order to properly represent the sign hung above Yeshua on the cross reads “Yeshua the Nazarene King of the Jews” and not “Yeshua the Nazarene AND the King of the Jews”.
The difference is plan. “Yeshua HaNatzriy Melekh Yehudiym” does not offer the possibility of the acronym YHVH because there is no “V”. In reality it produces the acronym YHMH (Not the Holy Name). Nor do the other gospels record the title as “Yeshua the Nazarene AND the King of the Jews”. Matthew writes “This is Yeshua King of the Jews”, Mark writes “This is the King of the Jews” but omits “Yeshua”, and Luke writes “This is the King of the Jews” but omits “Yeshua”. Therefore, not only is the YHVH acronym mis-teaching not seen in the Scriptural text of Yochanan (John’s gospel) it is even less tenable in the synoptic gospels.
NB: The Aramaic text doesn’t include the definite article either:
ישוע נצריא מלכא דיהודיא
Yeshua natzraya Malka diy’hudaye
The forced and fabricated attempts of Messianic teachers to make the Holy Name fit into the title above Yeshua’s head is foolish and unnecessary. It causes seekers of truth to identify it as a fabrication and thus reject both the conclusion and the Messiah’s Divine identity. Thus it becomes a stumbling block to non-Messianic Jews and Gentiles alike.
As described by Isaiah the prophet Yeshua is ImanuEl (God with us) regardless of whether the Divine Name is present as an acronym in the title hanging above Him during His crucifixion. There are numerous other valid Scriptural passages that affirm Yeshua’s deity, the multiple I AM statements of John’s gospel notwithstanding.
“For to us a child is born,
a son will be given to us,
and the government will be upon His shoulder.
His Name will be called
Pele Yoeitz (Wonderful Counsellor),
El Gibor (Mighty God)
Aviyad (My Father of Eternity),
Sar Shalom (Prince of Peace).
6 Of the increase of His government
and shalom there will be no end--
on the throne of David and over His kingdom--
to establish it and uphold it
through justice and righteousness
from now until forevermore.
The zeal of Adonai-Tzva’ot
will accomplish this.” -Yishaiyahu (Isaiah) 9:(4)5-(5)6
“14 Therefore Adonai Himself will give you a sign:
Behold, the virgin will conceive.
When she is giving birth to a son,
she will call his name Imanu El.
15 He will be eating curds and honey
by the time he knows to refuse evil
and choose good.” -Yishaiyahu (Isaiah) 7:14-15
Therefore, it is a flawed and pointless exercise to attempt to force some hidden affirmation of the fact by manipulating the inspired text of the Scripture.
21 So the chief priests (archiereus[G], hakohaniym[H]) of the Jewish people (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) were saying to Pilate (Pilatos[G]), “Do not write, ‘Melekh Hay’hudiym[H] (The King of the Jewish People)’; but that He said, ‘Aniy Melekh Hay’hudiym[H] (I am King of the Jewish People)”.’” 22 Pilate (Pilatos[G]) answered, “What I have written I have written.”
Once again Pilate stands by his decision to write the plaque because it best suits his purposes. We note that Yeshua never said “I am the King of the Jews” but “You say so”, in response to Pilate. This is yet another false claim made by the chief priests.
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
Much confusion and many needless eschatological debates have been caused by the negligent mistranslation of the Hebrew text of certain parts of this chapter of Isaiah.
Isaiah’s plea for the redemption of his people on behalf of the righteous remnant is now responded to by HaShem. Throughout this chapter Adonay makes a distinction between the faithful and the unfaithful among Israel and between Israel, who He refers to using the Hebrew “am” tribe, people, and the nations, who He refers to using the Hebrew “goy” nation. Quite contrary to the Christian Successionism (evolved replacement theology) nonsense that is pervasive in our time, the prophet is not speaking of God’s rejecting of His chosen, ethnic, religious people (tribe) Israel. In fact, Rav Shaul (Paul) ha-shaliach (the sent one) explains this well when he says that the blindness of Israel (ethnic, religious) is partial and for the sake of the redemption of the goyim (nations), then, something miraculous, all the remnant of Israel ethnic, religious, the chosen tribe of God, will be saved (Romans 11:25-26).
In the current chapter with regard to Israel, God accuses the unfaithful among her of the worst forms of syncretism and idolatry and the faithful He calls His righteous servants and promises a time of deliverance, redemption, salvation and freedom in a land devoid of oppression, an eternal land yet future. This is of course an allusion to the Olam Haba (World to come), a place beyond the shackles of time and space which many Christians mistakenly call Heaven.
Much confusion and many needless eschatological debates have been caused by the negligent mistranslation of the Hebrew text of certain parts of this chapter of Isaiah. From verse 17 onward one must very carefully render the Hebrew text in such a way as to avoid unnecessary frustration and confusion to the English reader. Almost every popular Christian English translation (including the TLV and D. H. Stern translations) makes translational choices that force the text into a contradictory spiral, and all for lack of due consideration for the Hebrew text and Hebrew thought. My translation attempts to convey the Hebrew text as accurately as possible, and although at times this makes for awkward reading, it none the less avoids the foolish theological conundrums inspired by other English translations.
Isa 65:1 Nidrashtiy lelo sha’alu I am sought by those who don’t ask; nimtzeitiy lelo vikshuniy I am found by those who don’t seek Me. Amartiy I said, “Hineiniy Behold, now, here I am, ready and willing, hineiniy Behold, now, here I am, ready and willing,” el-goy to a nation lo kora vishmiy not called in (by) My Name.
The speaker is HaShem via the prophet. The key to understanding the identity of the “goy” nation being spoken of, is the phrase “Not called by My Name”. Israel (Yisra: overcome, El: in God) is called by God’s Name. This is one of the primary reasons that God will never forsake Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen). Thus, the present verse is seen to refer to those that are not ethnically or religiously Israel, nor will they ever be called by the ethnic, religious title “Israel” (as many Christian theologians foolishly [Satanically) suggest). To the contrary, this verse is simply expounding the fact that Salvation Himself will make Himself available to the nations even though they have neither been called nor named for the God of Israel.
“I am sought by those who don’t ask; I am found by those who don’t seek Me.” Essentially this statement conveys the idea that although the nations were devoid of knowledge of God and His Torah, and were subsequently not afforded the language required to ask, and the cognition to seek, none the less they have seen God revealed in His creation, and have also seen the light of the Servant King Messiah shining from Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen), and have sought Him using what they did know and could say. This in stark contrast to the unfaithful among Israel at the time, who though they had the knowledge of God and His Torah, did not seek Him in a right way but instead turned to idolatry and debauchery. Therefore:
“when Gentiles, who do not have the Torah, do by nature the things of the Torah, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the Torah. 15 They show that the work of the Torah is written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts switching between accusing or defending them 16 on the day when God judges the secrets of men according to my Good News through Messiah Yeshua.” -Romans 2:14-16 (TLV)
Speaking of the Messiah Isaiah 55:5 reflects this same understanding:
“Behold, you will summon a nation you do not know,
and a nation that did not know you will run to you,
because of Adonai your God
and the Holy One of Israel,
for He has glorified you.” -Isaiah 55:5 (TLV)
“I said, ‘Behold, now, here I am, ready and willing, Behold, now, here I am, ready and willing,’ to a nation not called in (by) My Name.” With the exception of Rabbi Moses Hakkohen, the majority of Jewish commentators are wrong in concluding that this verse refers to Israel using the Hebrew “goy”. This is simply impossible: although on rare occasions Israel is called a “goy”, she is more often labelled “am” a tribe (people) and not a “goy” nation. This is because God is making a clear distinction in the Tanakh (OT) between the people of Israel who bear His Name and the peoples of the nations who do not. Additionally, the phrase “a nation not called by My Name” disqualifies Israel, who have and will continue to be called by God’s Name.
Rav Shaul (Paul) explains the meaning of Isaiah 65:1-2 in clear terms, making a distinction between Isaiah 65:1 and Isaiah 65:2 when he quotes the prophet’s words in reference to the salvation of the gentiles:
“And Isaiah is so bold as to say,
‘I was found by those who did not seek Me;
I became visible to those who did not ask for Me.’
21 But about Israel He says,
‘All day long I stretched forth My hands
to a disobedient and contrary people.’” -Romans 10:20-21 (TLV)
It is important to remind ourselves at this juncture, of the way that Isaiah uses the terms “am, amiym” tribe, tribes and “goy, goyim” nation, nations, in his scroll. With the exception of qualified singular use, “The nation, My nation, a nation in a day” etc. (Isa.1:4; 9:3; 10:6; 26:2,15 49:7; 58:2; 60:22; 66:8) Isaiah exclusively uses “am, amiym” tribe, tribes to refer to Israel, and “goy, goyim” nation, nations, to refer to nations other than Israel. While there are a number of exceptions they’re easily identified due to contextual variances and qualifying language. In the present text no such variance or qualifying language exists except when referring to the “am” tribe (Israel): therefore, we can conclude that the prophet is using the terms “goy” and “am” to in counter-distinction to distinguish between the two groups within the text of Isaiah 65.
“In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the amiym (tribes of Israel)—of Him shall the goyim (nations) inquire, and His dwelling place shall be glorious. -Isaiah 11:10
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Messiah, for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe, always first for the Jew and also always for the Greek (non-Jew).” -Romans 1:16 (YBYT)
Isa 65:2 Perastiy I spread out, broke in pieces yaday My hands kol-hayom all the day el-am to a people sorier rebellious, haholechiym whose walkings ha’derech are the way lo-tov that is not good, achar following machshevoteiyhem their own thoughts, devices, inventions, purposes;
“I have sent my prophets every day unto a rebellious people, which walk in a way which was not good, after their own thoughts;” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“But about Israel He says,
‘All day long I stretched forth My hands
to a disobedient and contrary people.’” -Romans 10:21 (TLV)
“I spread out, broke in pieces My hands all the day to a people rebellious” Having spoken of a nation that has not known Him, HaShem now speaks to the people (am: tribe) who do know Him. The language infers suffering, and specifically damage to the hands. There is a strong correlation here with the type of death suffered by the Servant King Messiah. The expression “All day long” conveys a sense of God’s limitless patience, while also reading as an indictment against unfaithful Israel’s stubbornness. Thus, they had remained a rebellious people, rebellion being both the cause and fruit of idolatry.
“whose walkings ha’derech are the way lo-tov that is not good” In Hebrew “ha-derech” the way, often carries a figurative spiritual sense, like the term “halakhah” meaning, the way we walk. The same is intended here. The Hebrew “lo-tov” not good, is far more than a colloquial expression. In this context “not good” (lo-tov) means “evil” (ra). This is in direct contradiction to the words of the psalmist “Lead me in Your Way everlasting”. The way that is “not good” is the way to death. This reference to choosing not to do good correlates to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen.2:9) and finds its counterpoint in verse 22 where “ha-eiytz” the tree (a reference to the Tree of Life/Living known as Eiytz Chayim) is mentioned.
“following their own thoughts, devices, inventions, purposes” This verse exposes the foundation for unfaithful Israel’s sin and the reason for the pursuant affliction. This verse also foreshadows the following verse and the burning of incense on man-made bricks.
Isa 65:3 Ha’am The tribe hamachiysiym who provoke (anger) otiy Me al-panay to My face tamiyd continually, zovechiym sacrificing (slaughtering) baganot in gardens umekateriym and burning incense (offerings of smoke) al-haleveiniym on bricks;
“A people that provoke my Word to anger continually to my face; that sacrifice in gardens to idols, and offer aromatic spices upon bricks;” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“Ha’am The tribe hamachiysiym who provoke (anger) otiy Me al-panay to My face tamiyd continually” The provocation of Israel is ever before the face of God because He is always concerned for Israel’s well-being. Unqualified, the Hebrew “Ha’am” always refers to Israel, the tribe of God.
“sacrificing (slaughtering) baganot in gardens umekateriym and burning incense (offerings of smoke) al-haleveiniym on bricks;” Altars of brick are in direct contradiction to the prescribed altar of HaShem which was to be made of uncut stones, meaning that human manufacture had nothing to do with the altar of Hashem whereas the altars to foreign deities were often erected using man-made bricks and cut stone (Exodus 20:25; Joshua 8:31).
“Bricks” may also be rendered “tiles”, which is consistent with the words of the prophet Jeremiah:
“The houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah—all the houses on whose roofs offerings have been offered to all the host of heaven, and drink offerings have been poured out to other gods—shall be defiled like the place of Topheth.” -Jeremiah 19:13 (ESV)
Isa 65:4 Hayosheviym who sit bakevariym in tombs, uvanetzuriym and keep watch yaliynu overnight; ha’ocheliym who eat besar flesh hachaziyr of pigs, umerak and broth piguliym of tainted meat (foul refuse) kleiyhem is in their vessels, implements, utensils;
"who dwell in houses built of the dust of graves, and lodge with the corpse of the children of men;'' -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“who sit in tombs, and keep watch overnight” This reflects a Canaanite occult practice and is related to necromancy, speaking to the dead, which is explicitly forbidden in Scripture (Deut.18:11; 1 Sam.28:3).
If the last clause refers to the vessels of the Temple service, then this is an horrific indictment against the worst kind of syncretism. The meat of unclean animals caused ritual uncleanness (Lev.11:7; Deut.14:8), but its figurative application here concerns a far more heinous spiritual condition (Isaiah 66:17).
Isa 65:5 Haomeriym Who say, “Kerav eileicha al-tigash-biy Keep to yourself, do not come near me, kiy kedashtiycha for I am too holy for you.” Eileh These ashan are a smoke beapiy in My nostrils, eish yokedet kol-hayom a fire that burns all the day.
Such was the syncretistic hypocrisy of the unfaithful in Israel at that time that they considered their mixture of Jewish and pagan rites as a mechanism that actually purified them and set them apart as holy.
“Smoke in My nostrils” is an expression of irritation spoken as a counterpoint to the offering of incense in verse 3. We note that in counter distinction to God holding out His hands all day long (v.2), unfaithful Israel provokes Him with her sin all day long.
Isa 65:6 Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, chetuvah it is written (ketubah) lefanay before My face: “Lo echeseh kiy I will not keep silent, im-shilamtiy not concerning My contract of peace; veshilamtiy and My contract of peace al-cheiykam is upon her breast (bosom)
“Chetuvah”, literally “it is written”, is also the name for the marriage contract (agreement) written by the Jewish groom as a promise of provision, honour, shelter, fidelity etc. to the bride. It is worth noting that in ancient Jewish betrothal tradition (still practiced by many today), it is the groom alone who writes this promissory contract and gives it to the bride: the bride writes no such document but must simply accept the proposed agreement, written by the groom as an assurance for her wellbeing in the covenant of marriage. This document is usually framed and mounted on the wall of the couple’s home in a prominent location.
“I will not keep silent, not concerning My contract of peace; and My contract of peace is upon her breast (bosom)” The contract of peace which is of God (the Groom) is a reference to the chetuvah (marriage contract/agreement) in the previous clause. Thus, HaShem is saying that He has made a written agreement of fidelity, protection and provision which Israel His bride (wife) had accepted (at Sinai), and He will not keep silent about it. He will ensure that His commitment to her is honoured even if Israel (His bride/wife) has forsaken Him and committed spiritual adultery.
Isa 65:7 Avonoteiychem Your depravity va’avonot and your fathers' avonoteiychem depravity yachdav together, amar says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy); asher those who kiteru burned incense (smoke offerings) al-hehariym on the mountains ve’al-hagevaot and on the hills cheirefuniy blasphemed (taunted, defied) Me, umadotiy I will measure out feulatam payments rishonah for their former deeds el-cheiykam against them.”
This is not the sins of the fathers being meted out against the sons, rather it is the combined sins of both the fathers and the sons being recompensed with the justice of God.
The mountains and the hills were the high places where various deities were being worshipped in direct opposition to the God of Israel. Worse still, there were those who were combining Jewish worship practice with pagan worship practice on these high places and were thus blaspheming YHVH by associating His holy Name with the names of false gods and created things.
Isa 65:8 Koh Thus amar says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy): “ka’asher As yimatzei hatiyrosh the new wine is found baeshkol in the cluster, ve’amar and it is said, ‘Al-tashchiyteihu Do not destroy it, kiy for verachah blessing bo is in it,’ kiy so e’eseh I will act lema’an on behalf avaday of My servants', leviltiy hashchiyt hakol and not destroy the whole.
This analogy reflects the practice of the vinedresser when finding a missed cluster of grapes after the harvested fruit of the vineyard has been pressed into new wine. This cluster is added to the already pressed fruit rather than being left to go to waste. In the same way God has His eye on the holy remnant (faithful Israelites: ethnic, religious, chosen), and will ensure their inclusion in His redemptive purposes. This idea of a holy remnant among the ethnic, religious, chosen people of Israel is conveyed throughout the scroll of Isaiah (1:9; 10-20-23; 11:11-16).
We note that in this chapter the faithful Jewish remnant are called out from the whole community of “My servants”, and set apart as good “servants”, teaching us that service and faithfulness are brothers and that relationship in God gives birth to them both.
“Do not destroy it, for blessing is in it” There is both symbolic and practical blessing in the discovery of a last bunch of grapes found late in the harvest. Practically speaking it is these grapes that are used to create the sweet Kiddush wine used in the ceremonial blessings of Shabbat and the moeidim (feasts), and spiritually speaking the Lord always saves the best for last (John 2:10-11).
Isa 65:9 Vehotzeitiy And I will bring forth miyakov from Jacob (Follower) zera offspring (seed), umiyhudah and from Judah (Praise) yoreish an inheritor hariy of My mountains; viyreishuah vechiyray and My chosen One shall possess it, va’avaday and my servants yishkenu-shamah shall dwell there.
“And I will bring forth miyakov from Jacob (Follower) zera offspring (seed)” The language here is very specific and puts an end to the lies of the successionist (replacement) theology proponents. Jacob is ethnic, religious, chosen Israel, and NOT the Church (Body of believers). Further, while “seed” here can be understood to refer to the righteous remnant that will be saved in Messiah by grace through faith alone, the following phrase regarding Judah refers to an individual.
“and from Judah (Praise) yoreish an inheritor hariy of My mountains” This statement refers to an individual Who will inherit authority over all God’s mountains. This can be no other than the King Messiah, the greater son of David Who is promised to rule over Israel and the nations. We also note that all the mountains will belong to God, meaning that all idolatry associated with the high places will be removed.
“and My chosen One shall possess it, va’avaday and my servants yishkenu-shamah shall dwell there.” The chosen One is the Inheritor of the previous verse and the servants of Hashem are the righteous remnant of Israel, Jews, who will inhabit the new land forever under the rule of Israel’s One true King.
Isa 65:10 Vehayah And it will come to pass Hasharon the Sharon (a plain) tzon will be a pasture for flocks, ve’eimek and the Valley of Achor (trouble) lereivetz bakar a place for herds to lie down, leamiy for My tribe asher who derashuniy have sought (enquired of) Me with care.
The Sharon plain is the fertile valley stretching from the Carmel mountains in the north of Israel all the way down to Yafo (Tel Aviv) in the south, and the Achor valley runs from the lower regions of the river Jordan to the plains of Jericho in the south. Therefore, the meaning is that the redeemed children of Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen) will inhabit all of the land promised by God to Abraham.
Israel had a shepherding history in Sharon:
“Over the herds that pastured in Sharon was Shitrai the Sharonite; over the herds in the valleys was Shaphat the son of Adlai.” -1 Chronicles 27:29 (ESV)
Achor was named for Achan who was stoned for withholding spoils of war from God, and because of the trouble he gave to Israel (Joshua 7:26). Therefore, there is a redemptive quality to this allusion.
We note that through the prophet, HaShem calls ethnic, religious Israel (the Jewish people) “amiy” My tribe, as being distinct from all other tribes of the earth, and more specifically He speaks of those who are of the tribe of Israel who have sought Him with care (the righteous remnant).
Isa 65:11 Ve’atem And you (plural) ozeveiy who forsake HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), hashecheichiym who forget et-har kadshiy My holy mountain, ha’orechiym who set lagad for Gad (Fortune, invader) shulchan a table, veham’maliym lamniy mimesach and fill cups for Meniy (god of destiny [fate] of the Babylonians) as drink offerings,
Having spoken of the righteous remnant HaShem now speaks to the wicked majority. Where the righteous had “sought” Him the wicked have “forsaken” Him. They had turned their back on the prescribed worship of the Torah and the Temple (Holy Mountain, Zion, Jerusalem) cult and had instead worshipped foreign gods and in some cases syncretised both practices.
“who set lagad for Gad (Fortune, invader) shulchan a table” Gad was a Semitic god of fortune who the unfaithful among Israel were worshipping and relying on to tell them their future. The setting of tables can refer to both food offerings and fortune telling practices which were the precursors to modern day tarot card reading etc. It is interesting to note that the Hebrew meaning of Gad is “invader”.
“and fill cups for Meniy (god of destiny [fate] of the Babylonians) as drink offerings” Meniy was the Babylonian deity of destiny or fate. And the pouring of drink offerings was probably associated with actions like reading coffee grounds or tea leaves, and or their equivalent.
Thus, both deities, one from the Canaanites and one from the far off land of Babylon, were being sought after for divining the future. The tragedy is that given the other textual evidence, it is likely that cups that were intended for use in the worship of Hashem were being used instead in the worship of this false deity.
The Greeks and Romans had similar deities in Jupiter and Venus.
Isa 65:12 Umaniytiy And I will destine (fate) etchem you (plural) lacherev to the sword, vechulechem and all of you latevach will go to slaughter tichra’u bowing down, ya’an because, karatiy I called, ve’lo aniytem and you did not answer; dibartiy I spoke, ve’lo shematem and you did not listen, va’ta’asu ha-ra but you did the evil be’eiynay in My eyes uva’asher lo-chafatztiy bechartem and chose what I did not delight in.”
“Umaniytiy And I will destine (fate) etchem you (plural) lacherev to the sword,” “Maniytiy” meaning “I will destine you” is a play on words concerning Meniy the Babylonian deity of fate or destiny whose name is based on the same Hebrew root. Therefore, God is saying, “So you want to know your destiny, so be it, the destiny of the wicked is the sword (death)”.
“I called, and you did not answer; I spoke, and you did not listen, but you did the evil in My eyes and chose what I did not delight in.” Put simply, “You were given ample opportunity to receive My grace and mercy, and instead you refused My love, My constant calling (all day long) and chose, not an evil but the evil (lo-tov, not good), that is, to reject the redeeming love of God in favour of idolatry, lust, debauchery and self-deification.”
Isa 65:13 Lachein Therefore koh thus amar says Adonay HaShem (YHVH: Mercy): “Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, avaday My servants yocheilu shall eat, ve’atem but you (plural) tiranu will go hungry; hineih behold, now, pay attention, avaday My servants yoshtu shall drink, ve’atem but you (plural) titzmau will go thirsty; hineih behold, now, pay attention, avaday My servants yismachu shall rejoice, ve’atem but you teivoshu will be put to shame;
Here the Lord makes a clear distinction between the righteous remnant of Israel and the wicked. This distinction is reflected in the practicalities of life: the righteous will have food, drink and joy but the wicked will have none of those things. In fact, this is an analogy concerning the death of the wicked and is a precursor to the eternal death of the wicked.
Isa 65:14 Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, avaday My servants yaronu shall sing mituv from goodness leiv of heart (core being), ve’atem but you (plural) titzaku will cry out mike’eiv from pain leiv of heart (core being) umisheiver and from ruin ruach of spirit teyeililu you will wail.
“My servants yaronu shall sing mituv from goodness leiv of heart (core being)” The Hebrew is careful to say that the servants of God will sing “from goodness of heart”, meaning that their joy and singing is the fruit of God, Who alone is good, dwelling within them.
“but you (plural) will cry out from pain of heart (core being) and from ruin of spirit you will wail.” In stark contrast to the righteous the wicked will cry out from the pain of having rejected God and the ruining of spirit that results.
Isa 65:15 Ve’hinachtem shimchem And you (plural) shall leave your (plural) name lishvuah as a curse, livchiyray for My Chosen One vehemitecha will slay you, Adonay HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), vela’avadayv but His servants yikra He will call sheim acheir by another name,
Speaking of Israel in her sinful state Jeremiah reflects the same sentiment:
“I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a reproach, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them.” -Jeremiah 24:9 (ESV)
“And you (plural) shall leave your (plural) name as a curse, for My Chosen One will slay you,” This refers to the unfaithful among Israel. It does not refer to all Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen).
“but His servants He will call by another name,” Primarily, at least in a national sense “Name” is associated with reputation, therefore, the name of ill repute due to wickedness will be transformed by God through Messiah so that Israel is given a new name (reputation) of honour.
Ultimately redeemed Israel will be called by the Name of HaShem’s King Messiah Yeshua. It is not an indication that Israel will no longer be called Israel but rather, in the same way Jacob (follower) became Israel (One who overcomes in God) [Gen.32:28], Israel will have a transforming experience of the same Man that Jacob once wrestled with, only they will wrestle with the Man and be saved as an entire nation (Romans 11:25-26). This Man is of course Yeshua the King Messiah. Therefore, the new name of ethnic, religious, chosen and redeemed Israel is in the King Messiah, and they will retain their unique identity in Him.
Isa 65:16 Asher Because hamitbareich he who blesses ba’aretz in the land yitbareich shall bless beiloheiy in the God amein of truth (agreeing), ve’hanishba and he who takes an oath ba’aretz in the land yishava shall swear beiloheiy in the God amein of truth (agreeing); Kiy because nishkechu forgotten, (withered) hatzarot are the troubles harishonot of the first things ve’kiy and because nisteru they’re concealed mei’einay from My eyes.
The new name given to the redeemed remnant of Israel through Messiah will direct people to God and all of redeemed Israel in the promised land of Israel will know that they have come to the land through God’s redemptive work both spiritual and physical. Therefore, they will say yes and amen in agreement with the manifestation of God’s redemption, and will constantly bless and acknowledge the God of Truth.
“because forgotten, (withered) are the troubles of the first things and because they’re concealed from My eyes.” This final clause is a transition to the next verse which declares the new creation. Notice that the Hebrew literally says “first things” and not “former things” (as most English translations). This is important. Former things can be any number of things prior to the present but first things refers specifically to the creation of the heavens and the earth, the first universe and its order, the entry of sin and death etc.
Isa 65:17 “Kiy For hiniy behold, I vorei create shamayim heavens chadashiym new (ones) ve’aretz and the land chadashah new, ve’lo and not to be tizarcharnah recalled (remembered) are harishonot the first things ve’lo and nor ta’aleiyna will they ascend al-leiv upon My inner being (heart, core being).
At this point, given the clear explanation of the new creation and the putting away entirely of the first things, that is the first creation which became sin affected: we must understand that what follows is a description (albeit in part poetic) of the Olam Haba (World to come), the new heavens and the new earth which is later alluded to in the Revelation of Yeshua to Yochanan. Therefore, any seemingly temporal language is subject to the everlasting nature of the new creation, and cannot, as some foolishly suggest, refer to some sort of dispensational, so called, millennial reign period, as if life and death might continue for the redeemed of the Lord. There is no death in the world to come (Rev.21:4).
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
2 I also saw the holy city—the New Jerusalem—coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 I also heard a loud voice from the throne, saying,
“Behold, the dwelling of God is among men,
and He shall tabernacle among them.
They shall be His people,
and God Himself shall be among them
and be their God.
4 He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes,
and death shall be no more.
Nor shall there be mourning or crying or pain any longer,
for the former things have passed away.”
5 And the One seated upon the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new!” -Revelation 21:1-5a (TLV)
Isa 65:18 Kiy im-siysu But be glad vegiylu and rejoice adeiy-ad until perpetuity (forever) ahser in that which Aniy I vorei create; Kiy for hiniy behold, I vorei create et-Yerushalayim (The Jerusalem: A flood of Peace) giylah to be a joy, ve’amah and her tribe masos from exultation.
This is not as some suggest describing a temporal renewal prior to eternity, it cannot be, for it states clearly “Be glad and rejoice FOREVER in that which I create…”
By using the determiner “et” prior to “Yerushalayim” the Hebrew text infers a Jerusalem that is outside of time and space, thus “The Jerusalem” perpetual. This is prophetic allusion to the New Jerusalem later described in Yeshua’s Revelation to Yochanan.
Isa 65:19 Ve’galtiy I will rejoice viyrushalayim in Jerusalem ve’sastiy and I will exult ve’amiy in My tribe; ve’lo-yishama bah od and no more perpetually shall be heard kol a voice bechiy of weeping ve’kol and a voice ze’akah of distressed crying.
Although there will be people from all nations in the new Jerusalem, that is not the meaning here. Redeemed Israel is specifically alluded to as “My tribe”. As a people we have endured His rebuke, now we will receive His redemption and the reward that accompanies it.
Isa 65:20 Lo-yihyeh It shall not come about misham from this place od perpetually ul an infant yamiym who lives but a few days, ve’zakein and an old person asher who lo-yemalei does not complete his days, et-yamayn the days kiy for ha’na’ar the young man will be as ben-meiah a son of a hundred shanah years; yamot it will come about that dead ve’hachote will be the sinner (who remains in guilt, unclean, continues to miss the mark) meiah a hundred shanah years yekulal accursed.
“Et-yamayn” the days, like “Et-Yerushalayim” the Jerusalem (v.18), is an allusion to those days not subject to time and space, and therefore, any allusion to length is figurative, given that eternity has no beginning or end. Likewise “ha’na’ar” the young man is a singular typology referring to the nature of the renewed (resurrected) human being, as different from “na’ar” a young man of the present sin affected creation (age). Notice that the counterpoint to this is “ha’chote” the sinner, which uses the determiner “ha” as denoting the sin affected human being who has remained in his condition by refusing the grace of God. In both the case of the redeemed young man and the sinner, one hundred years is used as a figure for eternity, being the multiplication of the Hebrew number 10 (which represents fullness) by itself (10 x 10 = 100). We know this because verses 17 through 19 speak in terms of “perpetuity, eternity, going round forever”. Therefore, the language concerning the living and the dead is figurative and indicates the nature of both the renewed resurrected human in Messiah and the human resurrected unto eternal punishment through rejection of the King Messiah.
Isa 65:21 U’vanu And they shall build vatiym houses veyashavu and inhabit them; ve’nate’u and they shall plant cheramiym vineyards ve’achelu and eat their piryam fruit.
“They” are the righteous of the former verse, after all, the (perpetually) dead cannot plant and reap, nor can they drink.
Those who say there will be no eating or drinking in the Olam Haba (world to come) have obviously never read the words of the King Messiah Who says, “I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." -Matthew 26:29 (NIV)
Isa 65:22 Lo yivnu They shall not build ve’acheir and another yei’sheiv inhabit; lo yite’u they shall not plant ve’acheir yocheil and another eat; kiy-chiymeiy for like the days Ha-eitz of the tree yemeiy shall the days amiy of My tribe be, uma’aseih and yedeiyhem of their hands yevalu they will enjoy vechiyray My chosen.
It is tragic that so many English versions of the Bible mistranslate “ha-eiytz” the tree, as “a tree”. What foolish misdirection this is. The Hebrew says “ha-eiytz” for a reason, that reason being that the days of human beings in the Olam Haba (world to come) are being likened to the days of Eiytz Chayim the tree of life (living) which is perpetual, everlasting.
Isa 65:23 Lo yigeu They shall not labour lariyk in vain ve’lo yeledu or bear children labehalah for calamity, kiy for they are zera a seed berucheiy blessed by HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) heimah Whom ve’tze’etza’eiyhem their offspring are near to.
Labouring in vain is the fruit of the fallen creation, it will not be possible in the Olam Haba (world to come). They will not bear children for calamity because there will no longer be procreation of the human species (Mark 12:25; Matt. 22:30) and there will no longer be sin or death and therefore no calamity.
“for they are a seed blessed by HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Whom their offspring are near to.” The first clause refers to Israel and the second clause refers to all born to Israel prior to the return of Messiah who receive Messiah and are reconciled to God. It does not, as some suggest, refer to offspring born in a millennial transitional period prior to the fullness of the Olam Haba (World to come).
Isa 65:24 Ve’hayah And it will come about that terem-yikrau Before they call va’aniy e’eneh I will answer; od hem while they are yet medaberiym speaking eshma I will hear.
This is the counterpoint to the rejection of God’s call by the wicked (v.2, 11). Whereas the wicked refused to hear (though Hashem held out His hands all day long), the righteous living in intimate relationship with God in the Olam Haba (world to come) will have such a beautiful intrinsic form of communication with Him that His loving answer will precede their request and both the speaking and the hearing of metaphysical conversation will be made one (echad), a complex and perpetual unity.
Isa 65:25 Ze’eiv A wolf ve’taleh and a lamb yiru will feed che’echad together; ve’aryeih and a lion kabakar like a bullock, yochal will eat teven straw, venachash and the snake’s afar lachmo food will be the dust. Lo yarei’u They shall not do evil velo-yashchiytu or corrupt bechol-har kadshiy in all my holy mountain,” amar says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
The wolf and lamb feeding together is a poetic figure which denotes the cessation of death (those animals once carnivorous will no longer be carnivorous). The imagery is of course cemented by the proceeding clause concerning the vegan lion. However, just because the language is figurative doesn’t mean it is not also literal. The idea of a new earth without animals (an idea that many are adamant about), is ludicrous in light of the nature of the first creation and the consistent message of Scripture concerning the renewal of all things. Or else, why does “all creation (which includes animals) eagerly await the revealing of the sons of God”? (Romans 8:19) Therefore, with the exception of the serpent (perhaps), it seems very likely that the new earth will be populated by animals of the new creation.
“The snake’s food will be the dust” is a figure denoting the eternal punishment of ha-Satan (the Devil). In counter distinction to the first creation where the snake (Satan) entered the story at the beginning and seeded death, at the inception of the new creation the snake (Satan) will be exited from creation unto death everlasting.
“They shall not do evil or corrupt in all my holy mountain,” This phrasing refers to all the enemies of God and His people both spiritual and physical. That is, those who have fallen prey to the sin and death seeded by the Serpent (Satan), who have now been cast along with the Serpent (Satan) into the lake of fire which is the second and everlasting death (Revelation 20:14-15).
“They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
for the land will be full of the knowledge of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy),
as the waters will cover the sea.” -Isaiah 11:9
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
"At that time they shall declare to the Messiah the troubles of Israel in captivity, and the wicked which are among them, that do not mind to know the Lord; he shall lift up his voice, and weep over the wicked among them; as it is said, ‘he was wounded for our transgressions’.'' - Zohar in Exod. fol. 85. 2.
This chapter continues the prophet’s illumination of the Servant of God Whom he introduces afresh in Isaiah 52:13. Thus, as explained in my previous commentary on that chapter, the entirety of this portion from 52:13-53:12 is one cohesive prophetic message within the meta-narrative of the scroll of Isaiah.
I also explained in the previous commentary on chapter 52, that the modern Jewish and Liberal Christian theological assertion that the Servant is representative of Israel the people is untenable when weighed against the plain meaning of the text and the relevant historical and Biblical evidence to the contrary. While I acknowledge that The Servant is intrinsically connected to Israel and a representative of the people of Israel (a Jew, born of her), He cannot be both Israel (the ethnic/religious people) and the one Who is “struck, stricken” for the sake of Israel’s transgressions, at the same time (53:8). For this and many other reasons which will become clear as we follow the plain meaning of the text of Isaiah 53 to its logical goal, it is impossible to conclude, as the majority of our modern Rabbis have, that this portion of Isaiah applies to the people of Israel.
The Suffering Servant Prophesied and Fulfilled
This portion of Isaiah’s scroll (52:13-53:12) has 5 distinct sections that act together fluidly in order to provide a clear and concise prophetic picture of the Servant of HaShem.
The text speaks of an individual Who offers Himself as a substitutionary sacrifice for the atoning of Israel’s sins and subsequently, for the atoning of the sins of all who will accept God’s redemptive gift.
Isa 53:1 Miy Who he’emiyn has believed (found faith in) lishmoateinu the message which we have heard? And to whom has the arm of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) been revealed?
The prophet himself cannot be the sole speaker of these words (his prophesying of them not withstanding), which are spoken by a group, thus, “our message”. The reference to this passage in Rav Shaul’s (Paul’s) letter to the Roman believers appears to apply the “our” of Isaiah 53:1 to the remnant among Israel who had believed. Thus, in one sense Rav Shaul is implying that Israel’s faithful were saying, “Lord, who has believed our message?” While this might include the prophets (Isaiah not withstanding), it doesn’t appear to refer to them alone.
“But they did not all hearken to the glad tidings. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’” -Romans 10:16
The better translation of the phrase “Who has believed our message?” is in fact, “Who has believed the message we have heard?”
Therefore, message itself is the cumulative testimony of the forebears and prophets of Israel which had been imparted to Israel from her inception, prophetically speaking of the coming of the Deliverer appointed to redeem and completely save Israel from her sins. Thus, the first verse of Isaiah 53 is spoken by those among Israel’s remnant at the time of the Babylonian captivity and from that point (in a prophetic sense) throughout Israel’s future existence until the return of the Messiah (Servant).
Iben Ezra attributes this verse to the nations, however, due to the fact that according to Isaiah 52:15 the nations receive with faith the good news of things which they had not heard before; the present verse cannot apply to them. On the other hand Israel is mourning the fact that she had failed to put her faith in the good news which she had been hearing through her prophets from time immemorial.
Thus, having concluded that it is Israel who is speaking, it makes sense that she speaks from a position of incredulity with regard to her failure to believe. The remnant of Israel (ethnic/religious) speaks to both herself and the nations saying, “And to whom has the arm of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) been revealed?” We know from Isaiah 52:10 that the Arm of HaShem has been made bare “in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”
Therefore, in one sense Israel’s confession of her own disbelief makes it possible for her to become the light to the nations she was always meant to be through the redeeming work of the Servant Messiah Who has been sent to take upon Himself all her transgressions, and indeed, the transgressions of all who would receive Him. So it is that from the beginning of Isaiah 53 there is a clear distinction being made between Israel (ethnic/religious/corporate) and the Servant Redeemer of Israel (a unique individual, albeit a Jew [Israelite]). This, as we have seen in my commentary on Isaiah 52, and as we will yet see in the present commentary, is the view most common to our ancient Rabbis and commentators.
“The arm of the Lord” is a figure for the strength and wisdom of HaShem made manifest in His redemptive acts throughout history. This strength is of course yet another figure for the work of the Servant King Messiah. Therefore, it’s spoken of here to the people of Israel 700 years before the birth of the Servant, as an allusion to the redemptive work of the Servant as described in the subsequent verses.
Isa 53:2 Vaya’al For he grew up kayoneik like a sapling (a young plant) lefanayv before his face, vechashoresh and as a root mei-eretz tziyah from dry ground; he had no toar form ve’lo and no hadar splendour, honour, majesty that we should look at him, and no mareh spectacular appearance venechmedeihu that we should desire, take pleasure in, delight in him.
The humble beginnings of the Servant are described here. He is said to have no royal splendour about His visage. This is important because almost all of Israel was looking only for a triumphant King Messiah in the line of David (Israel was not wrong in this, just lacking a full understanding of the greater work of the coming Messiah). Therefore, she did not expect a humble seemingly unroyal Messiah.
The Hebrew “yoneik” refers to a plant that has just burst through the soil. A vulnerable young suckling. The Hebrew “sheresh” (from sharash) refers to a root and thus connects the present verse to Isaiah 11:1 where the prophet says:
“And then will come out a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a green branch misharashayhu from his root will bear fruit.”
Note that the same root “sharash” is used here to describe the “root” that comes from Jesse. This is an allusion to the fact that the Messiah will be born of the line of David, and thus, will be the King Messiah Who reigns on the throne of David. Therefore, Isaiah 53:2 connects the Kingly nature of the Messiah in juxtaposition against the humble lack of royal visage of the Servant. In a beautiful irony of practice the Servant, although He is royalty, choses to come without pomp or ceremony, royal clothing or position. In fact, such will be the lowliness of his station that His people will not recognise Him as being special or honourable: nor will they desire Him to rule over them.
“And it has come to pass in that day that the shoresh root of Jesse will stand to be a sign, banner, miracle for the peoples. The nations will seek for Him, and His resting place will be glory.” -Isaiah 11:10
There can be little doubt that the King Messiah (Who is to reign on David’s throne re: Jesse) of the early part of Isaiah’s scroll is also the Servant of the latter part of Isaiah’s scroll.
“mei-eretz tziyah” (from earth that is dry), can be understood in multiple ways. The condition of Israel in the first century CE at the time when Messiah Yeshua was born into this world, was truly dry in both a physical and spiritual sense. God had not spoken through a prophet to Israel for approximately 400 years prior to the birth of Yochanan (John). In addition to this Israel had been under Roman occupation for some time and prior to that had suffered under the oppression of Antiochus Epiphanes (Syrophoenician) among others. Under Roman occupation the illegitimate king Herod had usurped the throne of Judah, which when added to the rarity of the “Bat Kol” (Audible voice of the Holy Spirit: lit. daughters voice), the lack of true prophetic voices and the political subjugation of the Jewish people, made for a truly dry land from which the Servant would come forth.
“Eretz Tziyah” (Dry/Parched ground) is also literally the meaning of the proper noun Tziyon (Parched land). Thus, quite literally, the Servant will be born of Zion, of a daughter of Zion, of the tribe of Judah, in the line of David. Furthermore, the Servant comes to offer living waters (John 4:14) that will saturate refresh and rejuvenate the dry land.
Isa 53:3 Nivzeh He was despised (held in contempt) vachadal and rejected by iyshiym men (human beings), iysh a man machovot of sorrows (afflictions) vidua and a deep knowing (acquainted) concerning sickness, weakness, affliction, grief; uchemasteir and as one from whom people hide their paniym faces nivzeh He was despised (held in contempt), ve’lo and we did not chashavnuhu esteem him.
It’s clear that the afflictions suffered by the Servant are both physical and spiritual. There are of course no words to truly describe the weight of the affliction suffered for the sins of humanity.
The opening word “Nivzeh” (despised, held in contempt), links the Servant to the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 49:7:
“Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despises (holds in contempt), to him whom the nation abhors, to a servant of rulers: Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall worship; because of Adonai that is faithful, even the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
Early rabbinic literature recognizes that part of the Messiah’s ministry includes suffering:
“The Messiah—what is his name? …The Rabbis say, ‘the Leprous one’: Those of the house of Rabbi say, ‘the sick one’, as it is said, ‘surely he has borne our sickness.’” -Sanhedrin 98b, Babylonian Talmud
Some of our ancient Rabbis struggled to understand the divergent elements of Isaiah 52:13-53:12. As a result the two Messiah theory developed. Mashiach Ben Yosef, the suffering Messiah (Isaiah 50:5-7 & 53). Mashiach Ben David, the triumphant King Messiah who subdues the nations and establishes his Messianic kingdom (Psalm 2 & 110). Messiah Ben Yosef is said to die in the battle against Edom (figuratively Rome): he is followed by Messiah Ben David, who establishes His kingdom of righteousness after defeating the gentile nations. The irony of this interpretation is that the two Messiah figures accurately divide the ministry of the living Messiah Yeshua, Who came first as the suffering Servant (Ben Yosef) and will come again as the victorious King (Ben David).
The Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) solves the question of divergent themes by revealing the advent of the King Messiah and subsequently describing His second coming (Mt. 23:29; John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 1 Thess. 4:14-17 etc.)
“He was despised (held in contempt) and rejected by men (human beings),” Note the past tense. HaShem speaks into time and space through His prophet Isaiah, that which has already been made complete outside of time and space. The Hebrew plural “iyshim” (men) is the poetic form of “anashiym”. “Iyshiym” refers specifically to men of stature (Prov.8:4; Psalm 141:4). Thus, the Servant is shunned by leading men: kings, political leaders, spiritual leaders etc. Yeshua’s contemporaries struggled to come to terms with his humble birth and the town of His upbringing, which is not even mentioned in rabbinic literature.
“‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked.” -John 1:46a (NIV)
“Still others asked, ‘How can the Messiah come from Galilee’”? -John 1:41b (NIV)
“A man of afflictions and of a deep knowing (acquainted) concerning sickness, weakness, affliction, grief…” Although it is true that the Messiah was familiar with grief (it is likely that His earthly father Joseph died prior to the beginning of Messiah’s ministry, and He is seen grieving deeply at the tomb of Lazarus), the meaning of the text appears to convey that the Servant was familiar with the cause of disease and sickness and was knowledgeable in a transcendent way concerning the healing of such disease and afflictions. Additionally, the Messiah Himself suffered great affliction both physical and spiritual prior to and during His crucifixion.
“And as one from whom people hide their faces” As a result of His affliction the people of Israel turned away from Him, the disfigurement resulting from His beating, whipping and crucifixion making Him a hideous sight to behold.
He was despised (held in contempt), and we did not esteem him.” The Hebrew “nivzeh” (despised) is repeated here as affirmation of the fullness of His people’s rejection of Him. In particular He was despised by many of Israel’s first century religious leaders. To this day as a result of the modern rabbinic polemic against Yeshua, His name is rendered in modern Hebrew as Yeshu which is an acronym for the curse “Ye’mach Sh’mo” meaning, “May His name be blotted out!” This disgusting curse is further evidence of the ongoing rejection of the Servant King Messiah by our people.
“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him; but the world did not know Him. He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him. But whoever did receive Him, those trusting in His name, to these He gave the right to become children of God.” -John 1:10-12 (TLV)
Isa 53:4 Achein Certainly cholayeinu our sicknesses, weaknesses, diseases he has nasa borne, carried, lifted up (a sign) umachoveiynu and our sorrows, pain sevalam he has dragged along, bared as a load; yet we esteemed him nagua struck (diseased) mukeih beaten, killed, slain by Elohiym (God: Judge), umeuneh and afflicted, oppressed, humbled.
“But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.” -John 19:34 (TLV)
“Look, He is coming with the clouds,
and every eye shall see Him,
even those who pierced Him.
And all the tribes of the earth
shall mourn because of Him.
Yes, amen!” -Revelation 1:7 (TLV)
“Certainly our sicknesses, weaknesses, diseases he has nasa borne, carried, lifted up (a sign)” The sickness described here is the result of sin’s entry into the world (and death with it). Or else, why does the Hebrew employ the word “nasa”, which is used in connection with the Torah sacrifices of expiation (Lev.5:1, 17; 10:17; 16:22; 17:16; 20:19-20; 24:15).
“Who His own self bore our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed.” -1 Peter 2:24 (ASV)
“Nasa” is also a sign (nisi) that points to a mighty work of Hashem. Yeshua quite literally bore (healed) our (The people of Israel) sicknesses and diseases during His earthly ministry:
“And when Yeshua was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother lying sick of a fever. And He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she arose, and ministered unto him. And when even was come, they brought unto Him many possessed with demons: and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, ‘He took our infirmities, and bare our diseases.’” -Matthew 8:14-17
“Our sorrows, pain he has dragged along, bared as a load” I’m surprised that few if any comment on the descriptive Hebrew language here in regard to the last hours of the Messiah’s life. After all, He quite literally dragged the cross (means of His death) along until He was relieved by Shimon of Cyrene.
“Yet we esteemed him nagua struck mukeih beaten, killed, slain by Elohiym (God: Judge), umeuneh and afflicted, oppressed, humbled.” The Hebrew “nagua” is associated to terrible diseases such as leprosy (Gen. 12:17; Lev. 13:5; 1 Sam. 6:9; 2 Kings 15:5), and “mukeih” to divine retribution for heinous sin (Though the servant is not suffering for His own sin re: next verse).
The Talmud says of the Messiah that he is "a leper of the house of Rabbi is his name'' - T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 98. 2.
Sadly, the Talmud calls Yeshua a “transgressor”, ironic, given that Yeshua died for the transgressions of those who penned and codified the Talmud. Maimonides states that Yeshua deserved the violent death which He suffered. Once again ironic, given that it is in fact Maimonides who deserved the rightful punishment for his sins, and yet Yeshua was willing to die also for Maimonides. So much for the human wisdom of our rabbis. I have visited the tomb of Maimonides, it is dead and lifeless. The tomb of Yeshua however is empty, He is alive and living by His Spirit within me. He is transcendent and seated at the right hand of the Father.
Isa 53:5 Vehu And he mecholal was pierced (defiled, polluted) mipeshaeinu for our transgressions (rebellions); meduka he was crushed (broken, became contrite) meiavonoteiynu for our iniquities (perversity, depravity, guilt); Musar The chastisement (discipline) shelomeinu of our peace, wholeness, wellbeing alayv was placed upon him, uvachavurato and by his wounds (stripes, bruises, blows) nirpa-lanu we are healed, made healthy (whole).
As I have previously shown, the Servant cannot be Israel the people. Why? Because the entire history and character of the people of Israel as a whole is contrary to the description of God’s faithful Servant, Who takes upon Himself the sins of His people (inferring that He is not guilty of their sins) and redeems all willing human beings. Israel the collective people on the other hand are repeatedly denounced by the prophet Isaiah as being deaf and blind to the will of God (42:19-20; 43:24). The prophet’s words state that the people do not even deserve the name Israel (Overcome in God), and that their allegiance to YHVH is insincere (48:1). Further, Isaiah speaking from God pronounces his nation “an obstinate people with a neck like iron sinew and their forehead like brass” (48:4). Thus, Israel the people, like all people, are sinners in need of salvation. Fortunately for Israel, the Servant King Messiah was pierced for our transgressions.
We are reminded again that our ancient Rabbis understood these words to be referring to the King Messiah:
“Chastisements are divided into three parts, one to David and the fathers, one to our generation, and one to the King Messiah; as it is written, ‘he was wounded for our transgressions; and bruised for our iniquities’:'' - Mechilta apud Yalkut, par. 2. fol 90.
“Messiah Son of David who loves Jerusalem… Elijah takes Him by the head…and says, ‘You must bear the sufferings and wounds by which the Almighty chastises you for Israel’s sins’ and so it is written, ‘He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities.’” -Midrash Konen; 11 Century CE
“The children of the world are members one of another. When the Holy One desires to give healing to the world, He smites one just man amongst them, and for his sake heals all the rest. From where do we learn this? From the saying, ‘he was wounded for our transgressions; and bruised for our iniquities’”. -Zohar, Numbers, Phinchus 218a
Furthermore, our Rabbis also testify to the wickedness of Israel and her need for the Messiah:
"At that time they shall declare to the Messiah the troubles of Israel in captivity, and the wicked which are among them, that do not mind to know the Lord; he shall lift up his voice, and weep over the wicked among them; as it is said, ‘he was wounded for our transgressions’, &c.'' - Zohar in Exod. fol. 85. 2. See also Midrash Ruth, fol. 33. 2. and Zohar in Deut. fol. 117. 3. and R. Moses Hadarsan apud Galatia de Arcan. Cath. Ver. I. 8. c. 15 p. 586. and in I. 6. c. 2. p. 436.
“And he was pierced (defiled, polluted) for our transgressions (rebellions);” The Hebrew “mecholal” meaning pierced, could only have been written by a divinely inspired prophet of God. These words, spoken and recorded some 700 years before the birth (into this world) of Messiah Yeshua, describe exactly what happened to Him, both physically and spiritually.
“Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgota). There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Yeshua in the middle. Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Yeshua of nazareth, the king of the jews.” -John 19:17-19
Crucifixion involved the nailing of hands and feet to a cross beam position equal to or slightly below the top of a firmly established upright post. Thus, Yeshua had is hands and feet pierced quite literally. The Psalmist, writing over 500 years before the birth (into this world) of Yeshua the Servant of God, wrote:
“Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.” -Psalm 22:11-18 (NIV)
“But when they came to Yeshua and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Yeshua in the side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.” -John 19:33-35
“He was crushed (broken, became contrite) for our iniquities (perversity, depravity, guilt); The chastisement (discipline) of our peace, wholeness, wellbeing was placed upon him, and by his wounds (stripes, bruises, blows) we are healed, made healthy (whole).” The entire sacrificial system of the Torah is symbolic of substitution.
“For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” -Leviticus 17:11 (NIV)
One of the primary stories of the Torah “Ha-Akeidah” The Binding of Isaac, binds Israel to the faith of Abraham and frees her from bondage to sin through the substitution of the Ram, who is a figure for the promised Messiah, and highlights the fact that the Messiah will be a substitutionary sacrifice for Israel (Jacob). While Jacob was still in the loins of Isaac, the Ram took his place on the altar (of Moriah) [Genesis 22].
“He was crushed (broken, became contrite) for our iniquities (perversity, depravity, guilt);” We note that the Servant takes a punishment upon Himself that was meant for us (Israel, ethnic, religious). Not only was He crushed on our behalf, He took the suffering willingly, the Hebrew “meduka” denotes contrite acceptance.
“The chastisement (discipline) of our peace, wholeness, wellbeing was placed upon him, and by his wounds (stripes, bruises, blows) we are healed, made healthy (whole).” As a result of the Servant’s substitutionary sacrifice and because our sin has not just been covered but has been atoned for, annihilated by His blood shed for us, we are made whole, given peace, physical and spiritual, temporal and transcendent. Those who receive the Servant King Messiah enter the eternal present. Though we die, yet will we live. The Hebrew “Musar shelomeinu” reads, “The chastisement that secures our peace”. There is everlasting security in the receipt of the sacrificial love of the Servant King Messiah.
“In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” -Hebrews 19:22 (NIV)
“The next day Yochanan saw Yeshua coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” -John 1:29
At a time yet future, all ethnic/religious Israel will look upon the Servant King Messiah and repent in mourning, acknowledging that for our sake He has been pierced (Zech. 12:10). Thus the redemption of the entire remnant of ethnic/religious Israel will take place through Messiah Yeshua at His second coming following the coming in of the fullness of the nations (Romans 11:25-26).
“Then I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication, when they will look toward Me whom they pierced. They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son and grieve bitterly for him, as one grieves for a firstborn.” -Zechariah 12:10 (TLV)
“For I do not want you, brothers and sisters, to be ignorant of this mystery—lest you be wise in your own eyes—that a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
“The Deliverer shall come out of Zion.
He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” -Romans 11:25-26 (TLV)
Isa 53:6 Kulanu All we katzon like sheep taiynu we have wandered, erred, staggered, gone astray; iysh each human being (man) ledarko to his own way paniynu we have turned; and HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) hifgiya has laid on him (caused him to encounter, make intercession for) et avon the perversity, depravity, guilt, iniquity of kulanu us all.
In reference to Genesis 49:11, the Jewish commentator R. Kahana writes:
"As the ass bears burdens, and the garments of travellers, so the King Messiah will bear upon him the sins of the whole world; as it is said, ‘the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all’”
- Apud Galatin. de Cathol. Ver. I. 10. c. 6. p. 663, and Siphre in ib. l. 8. c. 20. p. 599.
The righteous remnant of the people of Israel speak here of the nature of human beings, themselves included. This is a confession of the sin nature and its fruit. As is so often the case in the TaNakh (OT), Israel are figuratively referred to as sheep. However, what’s different here is that Israel self-identify as sheep who have strayed from the Shepherd’s (YHVH) instruction, guidance and the safe pasture of His kingdom. It is also literally true that the sin of Israel had been the reason for their being led into captivity. Thus, they physically strayed into Babylon, leaving the promised land of Israel behind them.
“For ‘you were like sheep going astray,’ but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” -1 Peter 2:25
“Each human being to his own way we have turned” Both as individuals and corporately human beings (iysh used in an iconic way) have fallen short of the holiness of God. Israel includes herself in this and acknowledges that she has turned to her “own way” rather than continuing in the “way of the Lord”.
“And Adonai has laid on him (caused him to encounter, make intercession for) the perversity, depravity, guilt, iniquity of us all.” The problem of sin is addressed here. Sin must be atoned for. A substitution must be made (Lev.17:11; Hebrews 9:22). Thus, the Servant becomes the vicarious sacrifice for Israel and all humanity. It is Adonai Himself that has laid the utter depravity of human sin on the Servant. Once again, Israel cannot be both those who have gone astray and the one on whom the sins of those who have gone astray are laid upon. Israel corporate is not the Servant. The Servant is an individual born of her on whom Adonai will lay the sins of Israel and of all humanity.
The core doctrine of the fallen nature of humanity is supported throughout Scripture:
“No one living is righteous before you.” -Psalm 143:2b
“Surely there is no one on earth so righteous as to do good without ever sinning.” -Ecclesiastes 7:19
“For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:
‘There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.’” -Romans 3:9b-12 (Psalms 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Eccles. 7:20)
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” -Romans 3:23
“God made Him who had no sin to be a sin offering for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” -2 Corinthians 5:21
Isa 53:7 He was oppressed (tormented), and he was afflicted, and did not open his mouth; kaseh like a lamb latevach led to the slaughter, ucheracheil and like a ewe lifneiy before the face of its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
“He was oppressed (tormented), and he was afflicted,” The Servant King Messiah suffered both physical and spiritual affliction.
“and did not open his mouth” This is repeated in the last clause. The firmly established humility and silence of the falsely accused Messiah is evident in the Brit HaChadashah (NT) account (Matt. 26:62-63, 27:12).
“Like a lamb led to the slaughter, and like a ewe before the face of its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” The NT references to Yeshua as the “Lamb of God” are born of the story of the Passover and Israel’s exodus from Egyptian bondage (Ex.12:3, 4, 7). The blood of the Pesach Lamb was painted on the door posts of Jewish homes as a symbol of God’s protection and deliverance of the family who lived within. Additionally, vicarious animal sacrifice is well established in the TaNakh (OT).
The extreme submissive behaviour of the Servant cannot be attributed to Israel as a nation. The nation of Israel has many virtues but suffering silently is not among them. Throughout our history we have resisted our oppressors. Even in the most heinous case of our persecution (the Shoah) the Holocaust, we resisted wherever possible. Therefore, as a nation Israel does not qualify for the position of Servant as described in Isaiah 53.
Isa 53:8 Meiotzer From restraint (prison, oppression) umishpat and judgment lukach he was seized, taken away; ve’et-doro and as for his generation, miy who yesocheicha has considered it? Kiy For nigzar he was cut off mei’eretz from the land chayiym of the living, mipesha for the transgression, rebellion amiy of My people nega lamo he was stricken (diseased, marked, plagued).
“From restraint (prison, oppression) and judgment he was seized, taken away”
He was not treated fairly with a proper trial. He was taken out of prison and summarily judged and sentenced to death contrary to both Jewish and Roman law.
“And as for his generation, who has considered it? For he was cut off from the land of the living” His generation refers to any for whom he might have been a progenitor. The Servant will have no physical children born of His natural seed. Why? Because He was cut off (murdered, killed) from the land (Israel, the earth) of living (the present world).
“He was cut off from the land of the living, for the transgression, rebellion of My people he was stricken (diseased, marked, plagued).” These words are prophesied spoken through Isaiah by the Spirit of God. Thus, Israel is called “My people” by both God Himself and the prophet. If the Servant is to be killed as a vicarious sacrifice for Isaiah’s people (Israel), He cannot be corporate Israel. The same is true of the ethnic/religious people of God. Israel (ethnic/religious) are God’s people. This latter clause shows clearly that the Servant is killed (cut off) as a substitutionary sacrifice (because of transgression) for Israel (My people).
Those who claim that the Hebrew “lamo” is solely plural are incorrect, it is used here to refer to the singular Servant in the same way it is used in the singular in Job 20:23, 22:2 and Isaiah 44:15.
“Philip ran up and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
31 ‘How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone guides me?’ So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of Scripture that he was reading was this:
‘He was led as a sheep to slaughter;
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so He opens not His Mouth.
33 In His humiliation justice was denied Him.
Who shall recount His generation?
For His life is taken away from the earth.’
34 The eunuch replied to Philip, ‘Please tell me, who is the prophet talking about—himself or someone else?’ 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he proclaimed the Good News about Yeshua.” -Acts 8:30-35 (TLV)
“Therefore the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.” -John 10:17
Isa 53:9 And they made kivro his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no mirmah deceit in his mouth.
The Hebrew “kever” grave, is here used to describe the physical status of a dead body. Thus, the Servant’s physical death was like that of the wicked (albeit undeserved). This is why the subsequent phrase “and with a rich man in his death” is added in describing the nature of the Servant’s tomb.
“Now when it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had also become a disciple of Yeshua. 58 This man went to Pilate and asked for Yeshua’s body. Then Pilate ordered it to be given up. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. 60 And he laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. Then he rolled a large stone up to the door of the tomb and went away.” -Matthew 27:57-60
Isa 53:10 Yet HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) chafeitz desired to bruise (crush) him; hecheliy He has put him to grief; im-tasiym with his appointment as an offering for guilt nafsho by his soul (life, being), yireh he will see his zera offspring; ya’ariych he will prolong his yamiym days; ve’cheifetz and the desire of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) beyado in his hand yitzlach will advance, rush, succeed, progress, prosper.
Iben Ezra says these words are spoken of the generation that shall return to God, and to the true religion, at the coming of the Messiah.
An old midrash says:
“The Messiah, in order to atone for them both (Adam & David), will make his soul a trespass offering; as it is written next to [prior to] this parashah [Isa.53:10], “Behold My Servamt” [Isa.52:13]. -Midrash Aseret Memrot
We note that the desire or will of Hashem begins and completes the verse. In order for the will of Hashem to bring redemption and the advancement of His kingdom, He must also will the means of that redemption, suffering in and with the Servant King Messiah for the sin of His people, and indeed, for all people.
“Yet HaShem desired to bruise (crush) him” This connects the present passage to the prophecy of Genesis 3:15, where the Serpent Satan is said to bruise the heel of the Messiah. In the present text the bruising is ascribed to HaShem. Thus we understand that Satan is subject to HaShem and is allowed to act only according to God’s purposes for the redemption of His chosen.
“He has put him to grief; with his appointment as an offering for guilt by his soul (life, being)” The text could not be more clear. The Servant is to be a guilt offering, that is a substitutionary offering for the sins of others. He is to complete His atoning work by giving His very soul (life). “Asham” is a trespass offering that is distinct from every other sacrifice. It was made by an individual as a substitutionary compensation for any wrong doing committed by that person. It removed the person’s guilt and set them free (Lev. 5:15). The central tenant of this and many other sacrifices was the need to satisfy the justice demanded by the Holy God of Israel, Creator of the universe and God over all things.
“How much more shall the blood of Messiah, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” -Hebrews9:14
“Him who knew no sin He made to be a sin offering on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” -2 Corinthians 5:21
“and walk in love, even as Messiah also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odour of a sweet smell.” -Ephesians 5:2
“He will see his offspring; he will prolong his days” The “seed” (offspring) in question are spiritual seed (Psalm 22:30; Isa. 65:25; Malachi 2:15): those who receive Him. We know this because Yeshua Himself explained that the resurrected do not procreate (Luke 20:34-36). “He will prolong His days” is a figurative way of describing the Olam Haba (World to come).
“Certainly, certainly, I say to you, except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abides by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” -John 12:24
“His seed also will I make to endure for ever, And his throne as the days of heaven.” -Psalm 89:29
“The desire of HaShem in his hand will advance” In the hand (actions) of the resurrected Servant King Messiah the desire of HaShem will advance. The Servant, a son of Israel, will thus make it possible for Israel to fulfil her calling to be a light to the nations (Isa.49:6). The Spirit will be poured out and the kingdom of God will grow and await the Messiah’s return, the final resurrection and the Olam Haba (World to come).
Isa 53:11 Meiamal From the anguish of nafsho his soul yireh he will see and be satisfied; bedato by the knowledge (perception, skill, understanding, wisdom, discernment) of Him yatzdiyk tzadiyk avdiy the righteous one, My servant, larabiym will justify many, va’avonotam and their iniquities (depravity, perversity, guilt) hu he yisbil shall bear.
“From the anguish of his soul he will see and be satisfied” The Servant King Messiah will look back on His suffering and death, and resurrected He will see the resulting fruit of His anguish and be satisfied.
“looking to Yeshua the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” -Hebrews 12:2
“By the knowledge of Him the righteous one, My servant, will justify many, and their iniquities he shall bear.” The Servant King Messiah will justify “many”, not only Israelites (ethnic/religious) but also people from the nations. They will be justified through the knowledge of Him. Not just mental assent but true knowledge learned in relationship through practiced faith placed in Him.
“Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.” -Daniel 9:24
The Servant King Messiah’s ministry of bearing the sin of many goes beyond the finished work of His death and resurrection to His continued work as the Great High Priest Mediator for all who believe (Hebrews 8:6).
“As through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one shall the many be made righteous.” -Romans 5:19
Isa 53:12 Lachein Therefore, achalek I will divide him barabiym among the many, ve’et and from the atzumiym strong (mighty, numerous) he shall divide the spoil, tachat asher for the sake of (beneath) which he’erah he poured out lamavet to death, nafsho his soul ve’et-posheiym and with the transgressors was numbered; vehu and he cheit-rabiym nasa bore the sin of many, velaposheiym and for the transgressors yafgiya made intercession.
“Therefore, I will divide him among the many” This opening phrase uses the Hebrew “rabiym” which can be understood as “great ones” or “many”. The same word is used at the end of the verse and refers to the many believers who will receive the forgiveness of sin through the Messiah’s finished work. Therefore, it seems unlikely that “rabiym” refers to “men of stature, kings, politicians, religious leaders” as some suggest. The more consistent understanding is that the body of the Servant King Messiah’s is divided among the “many” in Israel and among the nations, who, later in the verse are interceded for by the Servant. That is, those who receive Him.
“And from the strong (mighty, numerous) he shall divide the spoil” Here, the “mighty” may refer to the men of stature of 52:15. The Servant Messiah will one day yet future divide the spoils of all the mighty rulers of the earth.
“for the sake of (beneath) which he poured out to death, his soul” For the sake of the many and the strong, the Servant will pour out His life unto death.
“And with the transgressors was numbered” The Servant was crucified as a criminal in spite of the fact that He was innocent and there were no legitimate legal reasons for His execution (Matt. 27:38).
“And he bore the sin of many, and for the transgressors made intercession.” Even as He was dying on the cross the Servant King Messiah Yeshua spoke words, not of vengeance or hatred but of intercession:
“But Yeshua was saying, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ Then they cast lots, dividing up His clothing.” -Luke 23:34 (TLV)
The Servant King Messiah Yeshua continues to make intercession today for all who put their trust in Him:
“But now Yeshua has obtained a more excellent ministry, insofar as He is the mediator of a better covenant which has been enacted on better promises.” -Hebrews 8:6 (TLV)
© 2019 Yaakov Brown
“Behold, my servant the Messiah shall prosper. He shall be exalted and extolled, and He shall be very strong.” -Targum Yonatan 2nd Century C.E.
The last verse of the previous chapter sets the context for the opening verses of chapter 52. In fact, devoid of the imposition of chapter and verse markings, this section of the scroll of Isaiah has a fluid continuity.
In his commentary on the scroll of Isaiah Iben Ezra writes, “All agree that this prophecy has reference to the time yet to come…” This is an allusion to the time of the King Messiah and is consistent with the view of the majority of our ancient rabbis and commentators.
Isa 52:1 Uriy uriy, An awaking (a laying bare, an eye opening, a rousing, an exposing) of Me, an awaking of Me, livshiy put on uzeich your strength, Tziyon (Zion: parched land); livshiy put on bigdiy tifarteich the garments of your beauty, splendour, glory, Yerushalayim (Jerusalem: Outpouring of Peace), iyr ha-kodesh the holy excited city; kiy for lo no more yosiyf will the increase yavo-vach come into you od perpetually (again) of the areil uncircumcised ve’tamei and the unclean.
“Reveal thyself, reveal thyself, put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the city of holiness: for the uncircumcised and the polluted shall pass no more through thee.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The previous chapter concluded with Israel’s tormentors receiving the cup of God’s wrath, however, the last lines allude to the position Israel had been placed in by her tormentors: face down in the dust and trampled by her enemies. It is to captive Israel in torment that the opening words of chapter 52 are spoken.
The theme of awakening is carried over from the previous chapter, and added to it is God’s instruction for donning strength. The same call issued to HaShem (Isaiah 51:9) is now given to Jerusalem. HaShem was called upon to bear His strength in redemption of His people, now His people are called upon to don the strength of HaShem.
“Put on your strength Zion” Zion’s strength is her God, His Torah, and the redemptive promise for her future.
“Put on the garments of your beauty Jerusalem” Jerusalem is instructed to clothe herself with beauty. This is both an allusion to physical clothing donned after her release from captivity and to the restoring of her royal clothing under God’s promised Messianic King Who will reign on the throne of David. Additionally, the clothing that is most beautiful is the clothing of righteousness born of God. Thus, Jerusalem, the flood of peace, is called the holy city. She is purposed for holiness, for God has placed His Name upon her mount (Moriah, Zion, Ha-Makum, Har Beit etc.).
“Holy excited city” The Hebrew “iyr” (city) denotes excitement. Thus there is a sense of anticipation of the coming fulfilment of Jerusalem’s eternal holiness: though the context first points to the return of the exiles from Babylon.
“No more will the increase come into you perpetually of the uncircumcised and unclean” This does not mean that gentiles will never again enter Jerusalem. Rather it refers to the future end to the constant defilement of Jerusalem by invading gentile armies and the influence of pagan nations who pollute her with idolatrous worship and false practices. As is clear from the text, while in part these promises apply to the returning Babylonian exiles, they do not apply to Jerusalem’s ongoing historical condition. Until this day, many have continued to defile the holy city of God (Antiochus Epiphanes, Pompey, and the Romans, Ottomans etc.) At present the Temple mount is defiled by a pagan Temple to the false god Allah. Therefore, this prophecy applies in its fullness to a time yet future, that time when the New Jerusalem will descend from heaven and the present Jerusalem will merge with the new and be transformed into the holy city it was always purposed to become.
“ Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the Lord of hosts; and all who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. And there will no longer be a merchant in the house of the Lord of hosts in that day.” -Zechariah 14:21
“Then you will know that I am the Lord your God,
Dwelling in Zion, My holy mountain.
So Jerusalem will be holy,
And strangers will pass through it no more.” -Joel 3:17 (NASB)
It is clear from the wider Scripture, that the uncircumcised of heart will not enter the eternal Jerusalem.
“Thus says the Lord God, ‘No foreigner uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the sons of Israel, shall enter My sanctuary.’” -Ezekiel 44:9 (NASB)
Yochanan (John) writes concerning the New (eternal) Jerusalem:
“22 I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25 In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; 26 and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” -Revelation 21:22-27 (NASB)
Isa 52:2 Shake yourself from the dust, kumiy arise (of Me); sheviy sit, remain, dwell, abide, Yerushalayim (Jerusalem: Outpouring of Peace); loose the bonds from your neck, sheviyah captive Bat-Tziyon daughter of Zion.
“Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit upon the throne of glory, O Jerusalem; the chains of thy neck are broken, O captive congregation of Zion.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“Shake yourself from the dust” Refers to the literal physical act of dusting oneself off after lying face down in the dust and being walked over. It also denotes the breaking of mourning (sitting shiva) and figuratively expresses freedom from that which defiles a person and from humility and oppression.
“Arise, sit” This apparent contradiction is in fact nothing of the sort. Captive Israel is to arise from her humiliation and oppression in the strength of HaShem (v.1) and having arisen in Him, to “remain (sit)” in Him, immersed in the flood of His peace (Jerusalem), both literal and figurative, physical and spiritual, temporal and eternal. The Targum links the former verse and the clothing of Jerusalem with glory (beauty) to the throne of Israel and Jerusalem’s central role in the ordination of the eternal King Messiah.
“Loose the bonds from your neck captive daughter of Zion” This, as Iben Ezra says, refers to Israel’s future:
“Thou wilt be no more under the dominion of another nation.” -Iben Ezra
Notice that Zion is to loose her own bonds. It is HaShem Who ultimately frees her from bondage (physical and spiritual), however, she must participate in her deliverance. Zion is to receive and practice the strength of HaShem. A bride does not become a wife unless she says “I betroth myself to you my husband.” Faith without works is dead.
The reference to the neck is important. The yoke that binds captives by the neck has significant figurative meaning to the Hebrew mind. A “yoke” is a figurative rabbinical term which denotes the teaching of a specific rabbi or instructor. This is why Yeshua said, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light”. Therefore, in the present passage Zion is required to intentionally release herself from the false teachings of her captors (Babylonians). Why? Because, were she to fail to do so she would be carrying her spiritual captivity back to Jerusalem with her. She is not a daughter of Babylon but rather a daughter of Zion. One might suggest in some instances, that we should have left the syncretised ideas of our Babylonian Talmud behind, releasing ourselves from those influences of our captivity that contradict the teaching of Hashem (Torah etc.).
The word play between sheviy (sit) and sheviyah (captive) offers itself easily to a drash on the subtle difference between sitting and remaining of one’s own free will and sitting and remaining by force. Only one Hebrew character separates the two, the character “Heh”. The word sheviyah is also related to shabah (take captive). Through the prophet HaShem instructs Jerusalem to arise from the dust of her oppression and the daughter of Zion is instructed to loose the bonds of her captivity. The dust is an allusion to mourning, which connects another Hebrew word shiva (seven), which denotes the Jewish practice of sitting for seven days of mourning following the death of a loved one (sitting shiva). In other words, the days of Jerusalem’s mourning are over, the captivity (sheviyah: forced remaining) of the daughter of Zion is to be transformed into the comfort of dwelling (sheviy), remaining of her own freewill.
Isa 52:3 For thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy): “Chinam For nothing, nimcartem you sold yourselves ve’lo and without ve’kesef money tigaeilu you will be redeemed.”
The idea that Israel sold herself into discipline as a result of her own sin is supported by Isaiah 50:1
“Thus says the LORD: “Where is your mother's certificate of divorce, with which I sent her away? Or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities you were sold, and for your transgressions your mother was sent away.”
Through a comparative irony, HaShem will redeem her without paying a cent to her captors. Why? Because the debt of her sin is not owed to her captors but to HaShem, Whom she has sinned against. This debt cannot be settled with money. Therefore, according to His promise HaShem will redeem Israel through His Servant King Messiah and a substitutionary atoning sacrifice. Debts can be paid and restitution made, but only blood has the power to bring about the remission (obliteration) of sin.
“‘I have stirred him up in righteousness, and I will make all his ways level; he shall build my city and set my exiles free, not for price or reward,’ says the LORD of hosts.” -Isaiah 45:13
“knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Messiah, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” -1 Peter 1:18-19
HaShem gave Israel over to her own sin and she in turn gave herself over to a foreign power, in order that she might be disciplined and turn back to HaShem. In the interim no other people took Israel’s place as payment in kind. Consequently there would be no need of silver to purchase them from their captors, because their captors were not their legitimate owners, nor had they (or could they have) paid for that privilege.
Isa 52:4 For thus says Adonay the Lord (Master) HaShem (YHVH: Mercy): “Mitzrayim yarad amiy To the Egyptians (double distress) went down My people varishonah in the first(born) lagur to sojourn sham there, ve’ashur and the Assyrian (a step) be’efes for nothing ashako oppressed them (him).
The allusion to the first born of HaShem’s people can be applied both to Jacob and to Israel as a whole. It is Adonay the Master, YHVH the proper Noun and His mercy, that reminds Israel of her respite from famine. Jacob went down to Israel through the hand of God upon Joseph (a type for Messiah). Thus, HaShem reminds Israel that from before her captivity He had already made way for her deliverance. Subsequently, Pharaoh and the Assyrian ruler had made them captives: again without legitimate purchase, and again as a result of HaShem’s giving them over to discipline.
HaShem delivered Israel from the Assyrians (Pul, Tiglathpileser, Shalmaneser, Sennacherib) who were in turn defeated by the Babylonians (Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon) and so on. History is saturated with the cycle of discipline and redemption, awaiting its final fulfilment in the future at the redemption of the entire nation of Israel (ethnic, religious) [Romans 11:24-26].
Isa 52:5 Now what have I poh here,” neum declares HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), “Kiy for lukakh taken away amiy My people chinam for nothing? Their rulers wail,” neum declares HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), “and continually kol-ha-yom all the day shemiy My name is minoatz despised, spurned.
There is some debate over where “poh” (here) is. However, the nearest previous subject is the oppression of Israel: thus, “here” is where Israel is. God is always with His people. This is further supported by the allusion to Jacob’s sojourn in Egypt.
“I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will close your eyes.” -Genesis 46:4
“Their rulers wail” Is in reference to the princes and prophets of Israel in her captivity. Iben Ezra notes that her wailing rulers are like those who speak in riddles and points to those who use proverbs (Numbers 21:27) in support of his assertion. Moshlayv (Rulers) and Ha-mishliym (The proverbs) being closely related Hebrew terms.
We note that the latter clause states that HaShem’s Name is blasphemed as a result of the oppression of His people. In other words, Israel’s captors are strutting about promoting their gods and proclaiming them victors over the God of Israel. Hashem will not allow this to stand.
‘“20 When they came to the nations where they went, they profaned My holy name, because it was said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord; yet they have come out of His land.’ 21 But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went. 22 ‘Therefore say to the house of Israel,’ Thus says the Lord God, ‘It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. 23 I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord,’ declares the Lord God, ‘when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.’” -Ezekiel 36:20-23 (NASB)
Speaking against Sennacherib the king of Assyria HaShem says:
“Whom have you reproached and blasphemed?
And against whom have you raised your voice
And haughtily lifted up your eyes?
Against the Holy One of Israel!” -Isaiah 37:23 (NASB)
Rav Shaul (Paul the Apostle) uses this verse to make a drash on Israel’s having boasted in the Torah while breaking the Torah (Romans 2:23-24). Thus, he makes the point that it is because of Israel’s sinful hypocrisy that she sold herself into oppression and as a result God’s Name was blasphemed among the gentiles. This doesn’t oppose the context and meaning of Isaiah 52:5, rather it expounds upon it in order to teach a comparative truth.
Isa 52:6 Lachein Therefore yeida amiy My people will know shemiy My name. Lachein Therefore ba-yom in the day ha-hu the he (will know), kiy because Aniy I hu am He ham’dabeir that speaks; Hineiniy Behold, pay attention, now, be prepared, receive.”
“Therefore” means, because of the blaspheming of My Name by gentiles as a result of the oppression of My people (Israel).
“My people will know My Name” HaShem (YHVH) will minister to His people the knowledge of His person, character, attributes and the present reality of His countenance. His Name (YHVH) denotes Mercy. His Name is the sum title of all that He is. Thus, He will make way for His people to be intimately related to Him.
“Therefore” means, because My people will know My Name (Sum representation of My Person: that is, Yeshua [Colossians 1:15-23])
“In the day he (Israel), because I am He that speaks” In the day that Israel is redeemed through Messiah, she will realise that she is speaking to God face to face, Imanu (with us) God (El). Thus, “Behold, pay attention, now, be prepared, receive.” Israel must prepare herself to receive her King.
Isa 52:7 Mah-navu What beauty al-hehariym upon the mountains ragleiy the feet of him who mevaseir brings news, mashmiya who publishes shalom peace, wholeness, wellbeing, who mevaseir tov brings good news of happiness, mashmiya who publishes yeshuah salvation, omeir saying le’tziyon to Zion, “Malakh Elohayich Your God reigns.”
“How beautiful upon the mountains of the land of Israel are the feet of him that brings good tidings, that publishes peace, that publishes salvation, saying to the congregation of Zion, The kingdom of thy God is revealed.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“What beauty on the mountains, the feet of him who brings news” As interpreted by the Targum, the mountains are specifically the mountains of Judea (Israel). These words are addressed to Jerusalem, therefore, the mountains are those approaching Jerusalem, and specifically the mountains to the north of Jerusalem.
“Him” is applied generally to all who bring good news of Hashem to the people of Israel.
Rav Shaul (Paul the Apostle) applies this as a drash to all who are sent out to share the good news of the Gospel:
“And how shall they proclaim unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who proclaim good news of good things!’” -Romans 10:15 (TLV)
However, ultimately “Him” refers to the King Messiah Yeshua, after all, the nearest subject is in the latter clause of the previous verse, that subject being God Himself:
“I am He that speaks; Behold, pay attention, now, be prepared, receive.”
“Who publishes peace, wholeness, wellbeing,” The Hebrew mashmiya is from the root shama (hear), and means that the messenger of good news will cause the hearing of it to result in peace, wholeness and well-being.
“Who brings good news of happiness” The good news is not only published, it is also brought near, and in the bringing of it there is true happiness, the fruit of true freedom.
“Who publishes salvation” The messenger also proclaims Salvation Himself (Yeshua the King Messiah). Thus, the messenger is both the forerunner (Elijah, John) and the Messiah Himself.
“Saying to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” God is King regardless of belief or appearances. God is King, God was King, God will be King everlasting. This proclamation made by many messengers will one day be made by The Messenger, the King Messiah Yeshua and will culminate in the ceasing of all appearances to the contrary. By far the majority of our ancient Rabbis and commentators agree that this verse speaks of the King Messiah and His reign (Vayikra Rabba, sect. 9. fol. 153. 2. Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 11. 4. Yalkut Simeoni in Psal. xxix. 11. Menasseh Ben Israel, Nishmat Chayim, fol. 41. 2.).
Isa 52:8 Kol A voice tzofayich of your watchmen--naseu they lift up, bear up, carry, take up kol a voice yachdav together (as one) yeraneinu they overcome (cry out); kiy because ayin be-ayin eye to eye yiru they see be’shuv in the return of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) to Tziyon (Zion: parched land).
The watchmen on Jerusalem’s walls are the first to see and hear the news of the messenger. This is literally and historically true while at the same time being figuratively true of all who wait on and look for the coming of the forerunner Elijah and the heralding of the King Messiah. This was first fulfilled at the first coming of Yeshua through the forerunner John, who came in the spirit of Elijah. Subsequently it will be completed at the second coming of the King Messiah, who, according to Scripture (Malachi 3:23) will be heralded by Elijah himself (We note that Elijah did not die but was lifted up in a fiery chariot between realms).
“The voice of thy rulers! They are lifting up their voice, together they offer praise; because with their eyes they see the mighty works which the Lord shall do, when He shall return His Shekinah to Zion.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
It is therefore, the job of the watchmen to cry out together and lift up their collective voices as a sign and to overcome together. We note that the watchmen are a collective and can be seen as both the literal spiritual watchmen of Israel (ethnic, religious) and as a figurative allusion to the spiritual watchmen of the body of Messiah followers both Jew and gentile. We are therefore reminded of the words of Yeshua via John:
“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” -Revelation 12:11 (NASB)
“because eye to eye they see in the return of HaShem to Zion” The watchmen see eye to eye in agreement, they also see God Himself eye to eye or face to face. It is in the sight they have received from the messenger that they are able to behold the return of HaShem Himself to Zion, the land and the people. This is also the reason they cry out in unity, hence “because” meaning because of the previous clause.
“The return of Hashem to Zion” does not mean He has ever truly left Zion, rather it refers to a manifest return of His presence. This is why the Targum renders the phrase “when He shall return His Shekinah to Zion.” Shekhinah being a post Biblical Hebrew word denoting the manifest feminine presence of God’s Spirit or the Kavod HaShem, the glorious tangible presence of God, usually seen in the physical as cloud and fire. Of course in addition to this God is returning to Zion as Imanuel (God with us) the King Messiah Yeshua.
“14 and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that You, O Lord, are in the midst of this people, for You, O Lord, are seen eye to eye, while Your cloud stands over them; and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night.” -Numbers 14:14 (NASB)
Our ancient rabbis and commentators attribute this portion of Isaiah 52 to the time of the Messiah’s reign and the resurrection of the dead at the end of days (Pesikta in Kettoreth Hassammim in Targ. in Numb. fol. 25. 4. T. Bab. Sanhedrhin. fol. 91. 2.)
Isa 52:9 Pitzchu Break out ranenu overcoming (crying out) yachdav together (as one), you waste places of Yerushalayim (Jerusalem: Outpouring of Peace), for nicham HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has comforted amo His people; He has ga’al redeemed Yerushalayim (Jerusalem: Outpouring of Peace).
“Break out overcoming (crying out) together (as one), you waste places of Jerusalem” Once again in light of the strength afforded them by Hashem and of the return of the captives and of the presence of HaShem to the city, the inhabitants of Jerusalem are instructed to exercise their new found strength and freedom by breaking free from their bonds both physical and spiritual. They are to do this yachad, as one, together, for part of their strength is in their unity under Hashem and through His Messiah.
“HaShem has comforted… He has redeemed” past tense. We note that HaShem has comforted His people Israel, and that He has redeemed the people of Jerusalem. This can be understood in terms of God’s eternal perspective and the Messiah sacrificed before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). Thus, Hashem sees complete outside of time and space what is yet to be completed within time and space. Alternatively we can understand it to mean that HaShem has worked in and through Israel’s suffering, oppression and discipline, and has been a comfort to her, redeeming her in the midst of her humiliation and fallenness.
Isa 52:10 Chasaf HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has made bare et-zeroa kadesho His holy arm le’eiyneiy before the eyes col-hagoyim of all the nations, verau col-afseiy aretz and all the ends of the earth (land) will see et yeshuat the salvation Eloheiynu of our God.
“As a warrior is accustomed to make bare his right arm up to the shoulder, that he may fight without encumbrance (exsertare humeros nudamque lacessere pugnan, as Statius says in Theb. i. 413).” -Commentary on Isaiah by Kiel & Delitzsch
The figure of the hero who slays the enemy with his arm made bare is here applied to Hashem and His redemptive work on Israel’s behalf. We note that His arm is “holy” that is, set apart. The arm and in particular the right arm is one of the Hebrew representations of ultimate strength in action. This arm of Hashem can also be applied as a metaphor for the work of the Messiah and is seen as being “holy” set apart before the eyes of the nations, particularly those who have come against His people Israel (ethnic, religious). The redemption and salvation of Israel (ethnic, religious) is to be a sign for all the nations of the earth. The Salvation the nations see is that of Eloheiynu our (Israel’s) God (YHVH). Make no mistake, the Gospel message is a universal message of Salvation, but the God of the Gospel is a tribal God, El Eloheiy Yisrael (God the God of Israel).
Isa 52:11 Suru suru Depart, depart, tzeu go out misham from there; tamei al-tigau touch (reach out for) no unclean (impure) thing; tzeu go out from the midst of her; hibaru purify yourselves, nose’ei you who bear, lift up, carry keleiy the vessels, implements, utensils of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
“Separate yourselves, separate yourselves, go ye out from thence, do not come near the unclean; come forth from the midst of her: those that carry the vessels of the house of the sanctuary of the Lord have been chosen.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The Targum renders the text in a familiar way, reminiscent of the Revelation of Yeshua to John.
“I heard another voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues…’” -Revelation 18:4 (NASB)
According to R Moses Hakkohen these words are addressed to the exiles in Babylon, while Iben Ezra believes they are addressed to all those Jews who remain dispersed throughout the nations. Both perspectives are valid. The historical context allows for R Moses Hakkohen’s view and the yet future fulfilment of the Messianic aspects of the prophecy allow for the view of Iben Ezra.
“Depart, depart, go out from there” The repetition of “Depart” denotes immediacy and the established nature of the freedom to come. We also note that the prophet says “there”, meaning that Isaiah is writing from within the land of Israel, probably from Jerusalem concerning exiles that are elsewhere in Babylon, thus, “there”.
This escape is in part concerning the liberation of the Babylonian exiles:
“Go out from Babylon, flee from Chaldea, declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it, send it out to the end of the earth; say, ‘The LORD has redeemed his servant Jacob!’” -Isaiah 48:20
When they go out from Babylon (or any future captivity that has resulted from their sin), they are instructed not to touch anything unclean, be it literal or figuratively unclean. They are to keep the ritual purity of the Torah and leave behind them those idolatrous possessions of their captors that they might have kept from their stay in captivity. They were to leave their captivity as a holy procession, morally as well as corporeally pure. Those who bear the vessels of HaShem, (the vessels of the temple), are to purify themselves according to the requirements of the Torah.
This prophecy, was fulfilled in part when Cyrus ordered the temple vessels, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought to Babylon, to be restored to the returning exiles.
“ 7 Cyrus the king also brought out the vessels of the house of the LORD that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his gods. 8 Cyrus king of Persia brought these out in the charge of Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. 9 And this was the number of them: 30 basins of gold, 1,000 basins of silver, 29 censers, 10 30 bowls of gold, 410 bowls of silver, and 1,000 other vessels; 11 all the vessels of gold and of silver were 5,400. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up, when the exiles were brought up from Babylonia to Jerusalem.” -Ezra 1:7-11
The Jewish commentator Yarchi sees the present text as referring to the priests and Levites that bore the vessels of the Lord in the wilderness. Kimchi interprets it of the mercies and kindnesses of the Lord.
Iben Ezra names “The Israelites who are the bearers of the Torah” as those “who bear the vessels of the LORD.”
The Zohar understands the vessels of the Lord figuratively as representing the righteous, brought as a gift to the King Messiah (Zohar, In Exod. fol. 87. 4.)
Isa 52:12 For you will not go out ve’chipazon in haste, trepidation and you will not go in flight, for HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) lifneiychem will go before your faces, and guarding your rear will be Eloheiy Yisrael the God (Judge) of Israel.
“For you will not go out in haste and you will not go in flight” Unlike her escape from Egypt which was undertaken in haste, Israel’s escape from Babylon will be conducted with calm assurance and preordained order.
“HaShem (YHVH) will go before your faces, and guarding your rear will be Eloheiy Yisrael the God (Judge) of Israel.” Like the escape from Egypt, HaShem will be present in a manifest and tangible way as the guide going before them and as the rear guard protecting their rear. This is an allusion to the Malakh HaShem (Angel of the Lord) Who was manifest in the cloud and fire that lead and guarded Israel on her journey out of Egyptian bondage. This relates to the sight that is seen by the watchmen as they behold first the messenger and then HaShem Himself coming on the mountains of Judea before the returning captives (52:7-8).
Isa 52:13 Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, My servant will yaskiyl act wisely (with understanding); he will yarum be high ve’nisa and lifted up (like a banner), vegavah meod and will be exceedingly high.
Most commentators agree that this verse begins a new prophetic address that continues through 53:12. The present chapter markers do a disservice to the modern English reader.
In the present verse and the portion of Isaiah that follows the prophetic work reaches the crescendo of its Messianic vision. The Servant King Messiah (much to the chagrin of many modern Jewish and liberal Christian theologians) is clearly illuminated in the precise descriptions of His life and His ministry of suffering and resurrection.
This portion of Isaiah has been contested for almost two thousand years by Jewish and Christian scholars over the question of whether this passage refers to the Servant King Messiah or to Israel who suffer innocently for the sin of the nations.
The Ethiopian eunuch asks Philip (Disciple of Messiah) ‘“Please tell me, who is the prophet talking about—himself or someone else?’ 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he proclaimed the Good News about Yeshua.” -Acts 8:34-35 (TLV)
Prior to the 11th Century CE the majority of Jewish commentators and rabbis interpreted Isaiah 52:13-53:12 as referring to the suffering Servant of God, the King Messiah, a view still held to this day by many Orthodox Jews (they simply disagree as to Who Messiah is). However, beginning at the end of the 11th Century CE Jewish commentators began to assert that Isaiah was referring to Israel who suffers innocently for the sins of the nations. This divergent view is largely due to the increased persecution of Jews by so called Christians (Crusaders etc.). As a result of this persecution and the zealous proselytizing of some, the Jewish community began to seek polemic arguments against the interpreting of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 as referring to Yeshua as the King Messiah of Israel.
The 2nd Century CE Targum Yonatan (an Aramaic Jewish paraphrase) understands Isaiah 52:13 to be referring to the promised King Messiah:
“Behold, my servant the Messiah shall prosper. He shall be exalted and extolled, and He shall be very strong.” -Targum Yonatan 2nd Century CE
The Babylonian Talmud (codified in the 6th Century CE) also interprets this portion of Isaiah Messianically:
“The Messiah—what is his name? …The Rabbis say, ‘the Leprous one’: Those of the house of Rabbi say, ‘the sick one’, as it is said, ‘surely he has borne our sickness.’” -Sanhedrin 98b, Babylonian Talmud
The Midrash Rabbah on Ruth 2:14:
“He is speaking of the King Messiah: ‘Come hither draw near to the Throne; and eat the bread,’ that is the bread of the kingdom: ‘and dip thy morsel in the vinegar.’ This refers to his chastisements, as it is said, ‘But he was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities.’”
A later Midrash Yalkut Shimoni says:
“‘Who are you, O great mountain?’ (Zech. 4:7). This refers to the King Messiah, and why does he call him ‘the great mountain’? Because he is greater than the patriarchs. As it is said, ‘My servant shall be high and lifted up and lofty exceedingly’ (ref. Isa.52:13) He will be higher than Abraham, who says, ‘I raise high my hand unto the Lord’ (Gen. 14:22). Lifted up above Moses, to whom it is said, ‘Lift it up unto thy bosom’ (Num. 11:12): Loftier than the ministering angels, of whom it is written: ‘Their wheels were lofty and terrible’ (Ezk. 1:18).” -Midrash Yalkut Shimoni
In spite of the modern Jewish and liberal Christian opposition to the Messianic interpretation of Isaiah 52:13-53:12, the ancient Jewish tradition has been preserved even to the present day in the liturgy for Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) in a prayer attributed to Eliezer Ha-Kallir (8th Century CE).
“The Messiah our righteousness has turned from us. We are alarmed, we have no one to justify us. Our sins and the yoke of our transgressions He bore. He was bruised for our iniquities. He carried on His shoulders our sin. With His stripes we are healed. Almighty God, hasten the day that He might come to us anew; that we might hear from Mt. Lebanon (Mt Whiteness, purity: The Temple Mount) a second time through the Messiah.”
–Oz M’lifnai B’reshit, Services for the Day of Atonement, Hebrew Publishing Co., 1928
Some of our ancient Rabbis struggled to understand the divergent elements of Isaiah 52:13-53:12. As a result the two Messiah theory developed. Mashiach Ben Yosef, the suffering Messiah (Isaiah 50:5-7 & 53). Mashiach Ben David, the triumphant King Messiah who subdues the nations and establishes his Messianic kingdom (Psalm 2 & 110). Messiah Ben Yosef is said to die in the battle against Edom (figuratively Rome): he is followed by Messiah Ben David, who establishes His kingdom of righteousness after defeating the gentile nations. The irony of this interpretation is that the two Messiah figures accurately divide the ministry of the living Messiah Yeshua, Who came first as the suffering Servant (Ben Yosef) and will come again as the victorious King (Ben David).
The Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) solves the question of divergent themes by revealing the advent of the King Messiah and subsequently describing His second coming (Mt. 23:29; John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 1 Thess. 4:14-17 etc.)
Rabbi Moshe Kohen Iben Crispin (13th Century) complained that those who interpret Isaiah 53 as referring to Israel were doing violence to the p’shat (plain meaning) of the text:
“Having inclined after the stubbornness of their own hearts and their own opinion. I’m pleased to interpret the Parasha (portion) in accordance with the teaching of our Rabbis, of the King Messiah…and adhere to the literal sense. Thus I shall be free from forced and far-fetched interpretations of which others are guilty.”
None the less, sadly the dominant modern Jewish scholarship view is that of the collective Servant, Israel. Regardless, those who follow Yeshua the King Messiah are given the clear direction of the Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT), which not only supports but also illuminates and affirms the Messianic view of Isaiah 53.
While there is an intrinsic connection between the Messiah and the people of Israel (ethnic, religious), it is entirely dishonest to interpret Isaiah 53 of Israel the people. In my commentary on Isaiah 53 I will further expound on this. For the follower of Messiah Yeshua, the only possible interpretation of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is that it describes the Servant King Messiah Yeshua. Those liberal Christian Theologians who interpret the text of the people of Israel as a whole defile their own misguided faith and at the same time prevent their Jewish hearers from receiving the King Messiah Yeshua. This in my opinion is vindictive of the most heinous form of antisemitism.
In Isaiah 52:13-15 HaShem introduces His faithful Servant and proclaims that the Servant will accomplish the purposes of God and in the future will be highly exalted.
This section is a prelude to the prophecy of Isaiah 53. It opens with the Hebrew “Hineih” which is regularly used by Isaiah to draw attention to something of great importance. In this case, the illumination of the identity and function of the Servant.
As mentioned previously, the question of the Servant’s identity is foremost in the mind of interpreters. It is clear from the Hebrew text that an individual is being referred to, and that this is a literal individual and not a figurative or poetic individual. In accordance with Rabbinical interpretive method a remez (hint), drash (comparative) or sod (mystery) must submit to the p’shat (plain) meaning. Any interpretation of the present text that sees a corporate entity as the servant is in violation of the rabbinic interpretive method.
“Behold, now, pay attention, My servant will act wisely (with understanding);” The wise actions of the Servant denote rule, dominion.
“he will be high and lifted up (like a banner), and He will be exceedingly high.” The three references to elevation show a progression of ministry. Messiah will be lifted above all powers and authorities.
“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,” -Philippians 2:9
“Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.” -Acts 2:33
“He worked in Messiah when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” -Ephesians 1:20-23
The first two Hebrew verbs used “high and lifted up”, are the same as those previously used by Isaiah in reference to HaShem (YHVH), Who he saw “high and lifted up” (Isa. 6:1).
Isa 52:14 When many were shamemu astonished, appalled at you— thus mishchat he was so marred (disfigured) mei’iysh more than any man, mareihu his appearance (the sight of him), (beyond human semblance), ve’to’aro and his form (figure, shape) mibeneiy beyond that of the children of adam mankind (a man)--
Here HaShem addresses the Servant directly in the second person. This is said in the past tense, the Hebrew shameu expresses a sort of devastated awe at the transformation of the Servant from a marred and disfigured human being to the high, lifted up and exalted Servant of the previous verse. This in itself is an allusion to the death and resurrection of the King Messiah Yeshua.
“Thus he was so marred (disfigured) more than any man, his appearance (the sight of him), (beyond human semblance), and his form (figure, shape) beyond that of the children of mankind.” This second clause is a parenthetical sentence that describes the reason for the devastated awe of those who look upon the Servant.
Isa 52:15 Thus yazeh he sprinkles, spatters (startles) goyim rabiym many nations. On account of him melachiym Kings will shut their piyhem mouths, for that which has not been supar recounted, related, told lahem to them they see, va’asher and that which they have not shameu heard hitbonanu they will discern, consider, understand.
“Thus he sprinkles, spatters (startles) many nations.” The verb yazeh from nizeh (to sprinkle) is used in the Tanakh (OT) to describe the ritual cleansing of a leper by the means of sprinkling of the blood of a sacrifice over water (Lev. 14:7), and the sprinkling of the veil of the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting) [Lev. 4:6]. It is therefore interesting to note the Talmudic assertion that one of the names of the King Messiah is “Nagua”-Leprous one (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 98b). This is based on Isaiah 53:4, 8. The idea being that the Servant of HaShem, who was once shunned by Israel and the nations as a leper, now brings cleansing to Israel and the nations through His own substitutionary sacrificial blood.
“On account of him Kings will shut their mouths, for that which has not been recounted, related, told to them they see, and that which they have not heard they will discern, consider, understand.” The shutting of the mouth is an involuntary response of the body to an outside expressions of power that results in a person being overcome by intense and immediate awe.
The Servant’s transformation from disfigured man to Ruler above the angels will inspire silent awe, both at His first coming and resurrection and at His return. Additionally, many kings throughout history to date having heard the news of the Gospel and the King Messiah Yeshua, have responded in silent awe and repentance. Sadly, the shut mouths of those kings who remain in power at the end of the age will be mouths silenced by the terror of knowing that they have resisted God’s Servant King Messiah and have been found wanting.
“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.” -Zephaniah 3:17
Copyright 2019 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
A Priest, a Torah scribe and an historian go out to parley with the leader of a vast army carrying nothing more than some styli and parchment…
Compare 2 Kings 18:13-37; 2 Chronicles 32:1-16
Chapters 36 -39 are an historical supplement to the prophecies of 1 – 35. Beginning at the fourteenth year of Hezekiah’s reign, these chapters record the literal fulfillment of many of the prophecies of the first 35 chapters and act as a link between the first and second prophetic themes.
The events of chapter 36 are also recorded in 2 Kings 18:13-37 with some minor additions and textual variations. This period of history is also discussed in 2 Chronicles 32:1-16. Each of these records illuminates the other.
It is impossible to know whether the Isaiah account predates the 2 Kings account. However, the prophet’s habit of inserting historical information into his proclamations (e.g. 7:1-6; 8:1-4; 20:1; 22:15) along with the style of Hebrew used and the references in Chronicles 26:22 and 32:32 to Isaiah’s historical and geographical activities, suggest that the present record (perhaps written by Asaph the recorder [v3]) is the original and or was recorded at the same time as the slightly more detailed 2 Kings account. Regardless, the multiple accounts only serve to affirm the historical accuracy of these events which are also attested to by ancient Assyrian records of the invasion of Judea in 701 BCE. Some will say that because the 2 Kings account is slightly more detailed that it must be the original, however, In the example of the repetitious accounts of Jeremiah 52 and 2 Kings 24:18-25:30, we have a proof that the text of a passage may be more faithfully preserved in a second location than it is in its original form. Therefore, as I stated previously, it is impossible to know without doubt which of the texts is the original.
One of the strongest themes of this chapter is the arrogance and ignorance of the Assyrian king. This is faced in stark contrast by the vulnerable and frightened religious leaders and the historian sent to parley with the Rav-Shakeih (Great Cupbearer). Verse 3 almost sounds like the beginning of a bad joke “A Priest, a Torah scribe and an historian go out to parley with the leader of a vast army carrying nothing more than some styli and parchment…”
Isa 36:1 And it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH), that Sancheiriyv (Sennacherib: Sin (Moon god) send many brothers) king of Ashur (Assyria: a step) came up against all the fortified cities of Yehudah (Judah: praise), and took them.
2 Kings 18:13 Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fortified cities of Judah, and took them.
2 Kings 18:14 And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, I have offended you; turn away from me: that which you have put on me will I bear. And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold.
2 Kings 18:15 And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king's house.
2 Kings 18:16 At that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.
As mentioned in the introduction, Assyrian records detail the invasion of Judea in 701 BCE and the conquest of forty six cities but not Jerusalem.
It is no coincidence that these things began to happen in Hezekiah’s 14th year. 14 is 2 x 7 which is a number for completion. Thus, twice complete, the prophecies of the former chapters, being firmly established begin to manifest themselves literally before the eyes of all Israel.
Prior to the threats of Sennacherib via his messenger the Rav-Shakeih, we are blessed with the promise revealed in the meaning of Hezekiah’s name. “Chizki My strength Yahu He is YHVH Mercy”. Judah has sinned and is worthy of discipline, king Hezekiah, as we will soon see, is no perfect chassid (saint): however, Judah’s deliverance is not reliant on her righteousness but on the righteous strength of Hashem.
Against this Jewish king’s wonderful name we have Sancheiriyv, meaning “The moon god sends many brothers”. The Islamic world would do well to heed the warning inferred in this ancient narrative. Allah (feminine moon deity symbolized by the crescent moon) will send many brothers against Jerusalem (The Temple mount, Israel, the Jewish people) but the fate of those who despise the God of Israel and his people will be like that of the Assyrian Empire, they will cease to exist.
It is important to note that the additional events given in the 2 Kings account occurred prior to the events of verse 2. It is Hezekiah’s faithlessness toward God that precedes the encounter that follows. Hezekiah had clearly lacked trust in God and or disbelieved the prophecies of Isaiah to some degree until it was almost too late. By giving Sennacherib the silver from the Temple of God Hezekiah would have been seen to be symbolically submitting the God of Israel to the moon deity (and or other gods) of Assyria. By giving the treasures of his own house to Sennacherib he would have been seen to be symbolically submitting the kingship of Judah (and Israel) to Sennacherib, who boasted that he was the “Great King”. Hezekiah even went as far as removing the gold plating from the Temple doors and the pillars, gold that he himself had installed in an act of worship to God.
We have much to learn from Hezekiah’s actions. In many ways he was a devoted follower of Hashem but in many other ways he showed that he was prone to focus on temporal things and take his eyes off God’s eternal purposes. We are fools to take back those things that have previously been given over to God in worship and give them to the enemy of our faith. This happens when we take our eyes off eternal Mercy (HaShem) and instead submit our gaze to temporal fear. This is why Yochanan writes:
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has to do with torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.” -1 John 4:18
Isa 36:2 And the king of Ashur (Assyria: a step) sent Rav-shakeih (Rav Great shakah drink giver: Chief Cupbearer) from Lachiysh (invincible: south of Jerusalem in the territory of Judah) to Yerushalayim (Flood of peace: Jerusalem) unto king Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH) with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper ha-bereichah pool (from barak: bless, kneel) by the highway near the field of choveis those who clean clothes by treading them down in water (a fuller).
2 Kings 18:17 And the king of Assyria sent the Tartan (General) and the Rab-saris (Great Eunich) and the Rab-shakeh (Great Cupbearer) from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great host against Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they were come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the highway of the fuller's field.
The 2 Kings account adds two officials to the Rab-shakeh’s visit. This creates a balance between parties and sets the scene more thoroughly in order to give a greater sense of the pride of Assyria and the vulnerability of Judah. The plurality of the Assyrian party is presupposed by Isaiah 37:6, 24.
We notice that among the representatives of Judah there is no general or men of arms of any kind. As is often the case throughout Jewish history we Jews turn up to war with our Torah and history in hand. It is no wonder then that we are called people of the Book by some. While we don’t necessarily prove the adage “the pen is mightier than the sword”, it is true to say that in the end we trust in the Word that the pen engraves and that along with David the righteous among us proclaim “My heart is stirred with a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a skilful writer.”
“Rav-shakeih” is a title rather than a proper noun. It translates literally as great drink giver or great irrigator, which is an idiomatic way of saying that this man is Sennacherib’s wine taster, his cup bearer, a man trusted to ensure that the king is not poisoned by a usurper or an enemy of the state. Thus Sennacherib puts his own words in the mouth of his most trusted subordinate. It is possible, due to his familiarity with the Hebrew language, that Rav-shakeih was an apostate Jew who was now in the service of Sennacherib.
“Lachish” is a city within the territory of Judah (Joshua 15:39) 12 hours walk south-west of Jerusalem. It’s known today by the tel (mound/hill) that adorns the landscape, thus Tel Lachish. It was the gateway city to the main trade route south toward Egypt and was thus an extremely important strategic location. Sennacherib was in the midst of besieging Lachish when he sent the Rav-shakeih to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 32:9).
The pool mentioned is obviously close to the city walls given the fact that those on the walls could hear Rav-sakeih’s message spoken in Hebrew. Ben Melekh describes the pool, conduit, and highway:
“the pool is a ditch, built with stone and lime, where rainwater was collected, or where they drew water from the fountain, and the waters were gathered into this pool; and there was in this pool a hole, which they stopped, until the time they pleased to fetch water, out of the pool: and the conduit was a ditch near to the pool, and they brought water out of the pool into the conduit, when they chose to drink, or wash garments: the highway was a way paved with stones, so that they could walk upon it in rainy days; and here they stood and washed their garments in the waters of the conduit, and in the field they spread them to the sun.”
Isa 36:3 Then came out toward him Eleyakiym (God raises, arises), son of Chilkiyahu (My portion, territory, is YHVH), which was over ha-bayt the house, and Shevna (vigour, tender youth) ha-sofeir the scribe, and Yoach (YHVH a brother), son of Asaph (gatherer), ha-mazekiyr the recorder (from zakar: remember).
2 Kings 18:18 And when they had called to the king, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder.
“Came out to him” means that they were sent out by Hezekiah. The Rav-Shakeih’s insolent words tell us that he would not have been above breaking protocol and calling the king of Judah out had he not been met promptly by Hezekiah’s officials.
It is interesting to note that the corresponding account in 2 Kings has a Deuteronomic tone, while the account in 2 Chronicles has a more historical sound. It is possible that Shevna was responsible for the 2 Kings account, being a scribe (Theological), while Yoach recorded the 2 Chronicle account in the historical style commonly employed by a recorder, chronicler, historian.
“Ha-Bayt” The House, is a title for the Temple. Thus, Eleyakiym was Priest of Hashem.
“Ha-Sofeir” The Scribe, is a title given to the chief scribe responsible for maintaining the accurate transmission of the Torah. Thus, Shevna was the keeper of the Torah.
“Ha-mazekiyr” The recorder, is a title given to the chronicler of historical events. Thus, Yoach was responsible for the accurate transmission of Israel’s history at the time of Hezekiah.
With the titles and roles of these three men in mind we’re able to see a certain prophetic continuity in their names:
· Eleyakiym, God raises up Mount Zion (The House, Har Bayt) above all other mountains (Micah 4:1).
· Shevna, vigorous and tender the Torah of the Lord goes out from Mount Zion (Micah 4:2).
· Yoach, Adonai a brother through Yeshua the King Messiah Immanuel [with us God](Hebrews 2:11; Luke 8:21), the living Word Who goes out from Jerusalem (Micah 4:2).
Therefore, it isn’t against men that Rav-Shevna (On behalf of Sennacherib) of Assyria has come to speak but against The House of God, The Torah of HaShem, and the promised King Messiah of Israel.
Note also the names of the fathers of these men:
· Chilkiyahu, HaShem is my portion and territory, He secures His territory.
· Asaph, gatherer of Israel.
During this season (See the following chapters) Hezekiah chooses to humble himself and place his trust in God as his portion, hoping that God will secure the territory of Judah. In addition, those of the tribe of Judah who have fled their ransacked cities and towns are gathered together in Jerusalem so that Hashem might deliver them from Sennacherib.
Isa 36:4 And Rav-shakeih (Rav Great shakah drink giver: Chief Cupbearer) said to them, “Say you now to Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH), Thus says ha-gadol melek the great king, the king of Ashur (Assyria: a step), ‘What is ha-bitachon the trust ha-zeh the thing you’re batachta trusting?
2 Kings 18:19 And Rabshakeh said unto them, “Speak ye now to Hezekiah, Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this you trust in?”
A portion of the Rav-Sakeih’s address on behalf of Sennacherib is also recorded in 2 Chronicles 32:10-12.
In a very real sense king Sennacherib is speaking directly to the three emissaries of Hezekiah as a sort of antithesis to God’s speaking to Israel through His prophet Isaiah.
“Ha-gadol Melek” The great king, is another way of saying “King of kings”, a title for God (Psalm 95:3) and thus, blasphemous. “The great king” is the standing royal title attributed to the names of Sargon and Sennacherib upon the Assyrian monuments.
“The thing” Rav-shakeih is referring to is Egypt, who he later calls a “broken reed” (v.6).
The form of trust referred to is batach, meaning a continued choice.
Isa 36:5 I say, ach surely, with devar-sefatayim a word of binding language I have counselled ugevurah and strengthened for war: now on whom do you batachta trust, that you rebel against me?
2 Kings 18:20 “You say, (but they are vain words,) ‘I have counsel and strength for the war.’ Now on whom do You trust, that you rebel against me?”
Kimchi suggests that the first section is intended to be understood as the mocked words of Hezekiah and the latter part Rav-shakeih’s commentary on them. In other words, Hezekiah says “But I’ve been strengthened by wise counsel and have prepared for war” and Rav-Shakeih mocks saying “Now on whom do you place your trust?”
2 Chronicles 32:3 tells us that Hezekiah had taken counsel from his princes and mighty men and had stopped up the water supplies that surrounded the city in preparation for the coming invasion.
Isa 36:6 Hinei Now, behold, pay attention, you batachta trust in the staff of this broken reed, on Mitzrayim Egypt (Double distress); which if a man lean on it, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: this is what Pharaoh (great house) king of Mitzrayim Egypt (Double distress) does to all that trust in him.
2 Kings 18:21 “Now, behold, you trust upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust on him.”
It is worth reminding ourselves at this point that Lachish, from where Sennacherib’s emissary had come, was the key city in securing access to the main trading route between Judah and Egypt.
The reed is an appropriate figure for Egypt given the rich Nile delta and the prolific number of reeds and other water born vegetation. The Hebrew ratztutz does not mean bruised or fragile but broken. Egypt’s royal family had been literally broken by both the Ethiopians (Isaiah 18:1-7) and by Sargon (Isaiah 20:1-6).
Isa 36:7 But if you say to me, “We trust in Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) Eloheiynu our God”: is it not He, whose high places and whose altars Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH) has turned aside, and said to Yehudah (Judah: praise) and to Yerushalayim (Jerusalem: Flood of peace), “lifnei before the face of ha-mizbeiach the altar, ha-zeh this one You will worship”?
2 Kings 18:22 “But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the Lord our God’: is it not he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and has said to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem?’”
The wording of the 2 Kings account clarifies the fact that the altar that Judah is using is the altar of the Temple mount in Jerusalem by adding the simple phrase “in Jerusalem”.
“Ha-mizbeiach” The Altar, is a reference to the altar of HaShem on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Hezekiah had restricted the worship of HaShem to Jerusalem by removing the syncretistic and idolatrous altars elsewhere.
“He (Hezekiah) removed the high places, and broke the images, and cut down the occult groves, and broke in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for in those days the children of Israel burned incense to it: and he called it Nechushtan (literally bronze thing from nachash: to practice divination).” -2 Kings 18:4
The Rav-shakeih’s words show his ignorance concerning HaShem and the true worship practices of Israel’s righteous ones. He mistakenly links the high places to the worship of HaShem as if HaShem were a local cult deity limited by His attachment to the land. In fact, Hezekiah had done well to tear down the high places and their heathen altars.
Hezekiah had even gone so far as to break into pieces the sacred relic of the staff and bronze snake which Moses had used as a call sign in the healing of the nation. Hezekiah did this in order to make a clear distinction between the worship of God (Israel’s healer) and the idolatry of worshipping a symbol used in His healing work. We too are deluded if we think idolatry is confined to the statues and beliefs of foreign religions. To place anyone or anything above God is idolatry.
Ironically, by reminding Hezekiah and his officials of their righteous action he was in fact directing them back into the arms of the only One who could truly save them from Sennacherib and his armies.
Isa 36:8 Now therefore come and make an exchange with adoniy my lord ha-melek the king of Ashur (Assyria: a step), and I will give you two thousand horses, if you’re able for your part to set riders on them.
2 Kings 18:23 “Now therefore, I plead with you, give a pledge to my lord the king of Assyria, and I will deliver you two thousand horses, if you be able on your part to set riders upon them.”
This is no more than a taunt. Rav-shakeih knows that Judah doesn’t have the numbers of riders needed to man two thousand horses.
The “exchange” was the sending of Judeans to live among the Assyrians and become part of their empire, often meaning that they would become indentured servants, soldiers etc. This was common practice for both the Assyrians and the Babylonians.
Isa 36:9 How then will you turn away the face of even one commander of the least of adoniy my lord's servants, va-tivtach lecha and put your trust on Mitzrayim Egypt (double distress) for chariots and horsemen?
2 Kings 18:24 “How then will you turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master's servants, and put you trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen?”
This verse is self-explanatory. Neither Egypt nor Judah had the numbers to man their respective horses and chariots. Therefore, trusting in chariots and horsemen was at best laughable and at worst futile. Both Hezekiah and Judah will do well to place their trust in Hashem instead:
“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” -Psalm 20:7
Isa 36:10 And am I now come up without Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) against ha-aretz the land to destroy it? Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) said to me, “Go up against ha-aretz the land, and destroy it.”
2 Kings 18:25 “Am I now come up without the Lord against this place to destroy it? The Lord said to me, ‘Go up against this land, and destroy it.’”
While it is true that in a more general sense God did send Assyria against Israel and Judah in order to discipline His chosen people, it is not true that either Rav-shakeih or Sennacherib had any relationship with the God of Israel that might afford them a direct commandment from the mouth of HaShem. This is a blasphemous lie spoken without fear in the name of a God Who will make Himself fearfully known to the Assyrians in due course.
Isa 36:11 Then said Eleyakiym (God raises, arises) and Shevna (vigour, tender youth) and Yoach (YHVH a brother) to Rav-shakeih (Rav Great shakah drink giver: Chief Cupbearer), “Daber Speak, I plead with you, to your servants in Aramiyt Aramaic (the Assyrian language); for we understand it: and don’t speak to us Yehudiyt (in the Jews' language), in the ears (in the hearing) of the people that are on the wall.”
2 Kings 18:26 Then said Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebna, and Joah, unto Rabshakeh, “Speak, I beg you, to your servants in Aramaic; for we understand it: and talk not with us in the Jews' language in the ears of the people that are on the wall.”
It is likely that Eleyakim spoke on behalf of the others seeing that he was the priest and was responding to what was effectively a blasphemous tirade.
The Lingua franca (trading language) of the day was Aramiyt. However, in order to cause panic among the people of Jerusalem Rav-shakeih was intentionally speaking Yehudiyt, another way of saying Ivriyt (Hebrew), the language of the Jews. This was what passed for psychological warfare at the turn of the sixth century BCE.
Isa 36:12 But Rav-shakeih (Rav Great shakah drink giver: Chief Cupbearer) said, “Has adoniy my lord sent me to Adoneycha your Lord and to you to speak these words? Has he not sent me to the men that sit upon the wall, that they may eat their own excrement, and drink their own piss with you?”
2 Kings 18:27 But the Rab-shakeh said to them, “Has my master sent me to your master, and to you, to speak these words? has he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?”
The graphic language concerning excrement and piss is both mocking and tactical. This idiom infers that the city will run out of food and water and become so desperate that the residents will eat their own excrement and drink their own urine.
Isa 36:13 Then Rav-shakeih (Rav Great shakah drink giver: Chief Cupbearer) stood, and cried with a loud voice in Yehudiyt (the Jews' language), and said, “Hear you the words of ha-gadol melek the great king, the king of Ashur (Assyria: a step).
2 Kings 18:28 Then the Rab-shakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in the Jews' language, and spoke, saying, “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria:”
Rav-shakeih intends this as a blatant slight against the request of Eleyakim and the Jews. However, unbeknownst to him he has sealed the fate of Assyria with a blasphemous challenge to the Authority and Kingship of the One true King of the universe Hashem YHVH. Sennacherib is not simply claiming dominion over Israel, he is claiming all dominion. This has been the great mistake of all who throughout history have sought to destroy the Jewish people. They have neglected to pay attention to the fact that God has placed his Name on Israel (Yisra Overcome El in God). Over 360 times in the Tanakh God is referred to either directly or indirectly as El-Elohaiy-YisraEl, “God the God of Israel”.
Isa 36:14 Thus says the king, ‘Let not Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH) deceive you: for he will not be able to deliver you.
2 Kings 18:29 “Thus says the king, ‘Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you out of his hand:’”
It is of course true that the man Hezekiah will not be able to save Judah. However, HaShem will deliver her.
Isa 36:15 Neither let Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH) yabetach make you trust in Hashem (YHVH: Mercy), saying, ‘Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) will surely deliver us: this city will not be delivered into the hand of the king of Ashur (Assyria: a step).’
2 Kings 18:30 “Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.’”
Hezekiah may well have been encouraging the people of Jerusalem with the words already spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
“As birds afoot hovering (lighting upon), so will HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (Goes warring) of hosts be upon Yerushalayim to defend and deliver her, pasakh He will pass over and affect her escape.” -Isaiah 31:5
Isa 36:16 Don’t listen to Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH): for thus says the king of Ashur (Assyria), ‘Make an agreement with me by berachah a blessing, and come out to me: and eat you every one of his vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink you every one the waters of his own cistern;
2 Kings 18:31 “Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus says the king of Assyria, ‘Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me, and then eat you every man of his own vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his cistern:’”
While the p’shat plain meaning denotes a peace accord based on Judah’s surrender, there is a rather obvious remez (hint) in the Hebrew text. The Hebrew “berachah” is literally “blessing”. This means that the text can be understood to mean both agreement in a secular sense and blessing in the sense of spiritual approval. Thus Sennacherib is asking the Jews to make an agreement that denies both their ethnic and spiritual identities. The sad reality is that if Judah had accepted this proposal they would soon have discovered that many of them would not benefit in the ways promised.
The final clause may also infer an offer of protection from sexual defilement at the hands of the invading army. This due to the fact that drinking from one’s own cistern is a Hebrew euphemism for a man having sexual relations with his wife.
“Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.” -Proverbs 5:15
Isa 36:17 Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread (food) and vineyards.
2 Kings 18:32 “Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of oil olive and of honey, that you may live, and not die: and hearken not unto Hezekiah, when he persuades you, saying, ‘The Lord will deliver us.’”
Rav-shakeih employs language similar to that of Deuteronomy 8:8, affirming the adage that “the Devil puts a little truth in every lie”.
Isa 36:18 lest Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH) persuade you, saying, “Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) will deliver us.” Have any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Ashur (Assyria)?
2 Kings 18:33 “Has any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?”
Once again Rav-shakeih and by proxy Sennacherib make the mistake of impugning the character of God, likening Him to the gods of other lands. The Assyrians might just have well cut their own throats.
“Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” -Exodus 15:11
“Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them.” -Exodus 18:11
“For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods.” –1 Chronicles 16:35
“And the house which I build is great: for great is our God above all gods.” -2 Chronicles 2:5
Isa 36:19 Where are the gods of Chamat (Fortress) and Arphad (I will be supported)? where are the gods of Sepharvayim (Two booktowns)? and have they delivered Shomron (Samaria: watch mountain) out of my hand?
2 Kings 18:34 “Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah? have they delivered Samaria out of mine hand?”
The 2 Kings account adds two cities to the list of places whose gods have failed to defeat the king of Assyria: Hena, meaning troubling, a city once located in what is now modern day Iraq; and Ivah, meaning ruin, another city conquered by the Assyrians which was located on the Euphrates river between Sepharvaim and Hena.
Isa 36:20 Who are there among all the gods of these lands, that have delivered their land out of my hand, that Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) could deliver Yerushalayim (Jerusalem: Flood of peace) out of my hand?”
2 Kings 18:35 “Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand?”
Rav-shakeih hammers the final nail into the Assyrian coffin, claiming in Sennacherib’s name that YHVH cannot deliver Judah out of the Assyrian’s hand.
Isa 36:21 vayachariyshu But they were ploughed, silent, speechless, and they didn’t answer a word: for the king's had commanded them, saying, “Don’t answer him.”
2 Kings 18:36 But the people held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king's commandment was, saying, “Answer him not.”
The officials’ obedience to Hezekiah’s instruction shows their righteous character. They have clearly been unsettled by the words of Rav-shakeih, however, they remain committed to the king of Judah and to their God. After all, not all in Judah had been guilty of idolatry, and during Hezekiah’s reign it follows that righteous men were given position in the priesthood and in the court of Hezekiah.
By keeping silent in the face of the blasphemous challenge of Sennacherib, the leaders of Judah left room for God’s answer to pervade.
“Vengeance is Mine, and recompense;
Their foot shall slip in due time;
For the day of their calamity is at hand,
And the things to come hasten upon them.” -Deuteronomy 32:35
“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” -Romans 12:19
Isa 36:22 Then Eleyakiym (God raises, arises), son of Chilkiyahu (My portion, territory, is YHVH), which was over ha-bayt the house, and Shevna (vigour, tender youth) ha-sofeir the scribe, and Yoach (YHVH a brother), son of Asaph (gatherer), ha-mazekiyr the recorder (from zakar: remember), went to Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH) with their clothes torn, and told him the words of Rav-shakeih (Rav Great shakah drink giver: Chief Cupbearer).
2 Kings 18:37 Then came Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rabshakeh.
The tearing of garments was done only at times of great grief. It is also done as a sign of repentance along with the donning of sackcloth and throwing dust on ones’ self. The officials were obviously terrified by what they had heard and returned to Hezekiah looking like men who had just looked death in the face. This is the catalyst for Hezekiah’s response in the following chapter.
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
Until naked, uncovered, poured out emptied on us; spirit, wind, breath, from on high, and it comes to pass that from the Word will be a fruitful field, and the Carmel (fruitful field) will be a forest of esteem and value. -Yishayahu (Isaiah) 32:15
Isa 32:1 Behold, letzedek for righteousness yimelakh will reign melekh a king, ulesariym and princes lemishpat will justly rule.
Some of our sages (Rashi, Ibn Ezra) suggest that this verse refers to the coming reign of Hezekiah, who would be a more righteous king than his father Ahaz. However, although Hezekiah was indeed more righteous than his father, he was by no means a king who’s reign was epitomized by righteousness, nor did just princes reign with him. In fact the council of his subordinate rulers was often opposed to that of the Lord. At best Hezekiah might be considered a type for the righteous king to come but neither he nor any subsequent king of Israel has ever qualified to meet the plan meaning of this text. At least not until the first century CE/AD when the greater son of David (Yeshua) was born of Judah and into the kingdom of Israel.
This text, when read plainly names the king “Tzedek” righteousness. “Behold! For righteousness will reign a king.” The writer of the book of Hebrews names the righteous king of Salem (Jerusalem, Peace) as a type for the Messiah (Heb. 7). There is a correlation here between the prophetic type Melkhi-tzedek (My king of righteousness) and the coming King Messiah (Gen. 14).
Some will say that Yeshua did not reign, and while He has always reigned with HaShem outside of time and space, it is true that at His first coming he did not literally take on the physical throne of David and defeat Israel’s enemies. However, Scripture clearly teaches of a second coming of the King Messiah. When He returns He will reign meta-physically over all creation upon the throne of David and in deference to HaShem.
Who are the princes that are qualified by their just rule? Yeshua the King of Righteousness told us who they would be:
“Then Kefa (Peter) said to Him (Yeshua), ‘Look, we’ve left everything to follow You! So what will we have?” And Yeshua said to them, “Amen, certainly, I tell you, when the Ben Adam Son of Man sits on His glorious throne in the regeneration, you (Talmidiym) who have followed Me shall also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’” -Matthew 19:27-28 [Luke 22:28-30].
The princes of Isaiah 32:1 are Jews who dispense justice according to the will of the King of Righteousness. The talmidiym of Yeshua alone qualify for this role. Thus, Yeshua affirms the prophecy of Isaiah in His promise to His disciples.
This description of the King of Righteousness is a further illumination of Isaiah’s previous prophecy recorded in chapter 11:1-10.
Isa 32:2 And it has come to pass, iysh a man will be as a hiding place from the wind, and a shelter from the rain; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great cliff face in a weary land.
The man of the present verse is the Righteous King of the first verse. Verses 1 and 2 give as a beautiful insight into the character of the King Messiah. In verse 1 He is called “Righteousness” and His reign is “Just”. In the present verse He is described as “A man”. He is also poetically referred to as “A hiding place”, “A shelter”, “Streams of water”, and “A shadow”. Each of these similes conveys an aspect of the King Messiah’s character and person.
By naming Him “A man” the prophet puts to flight any gnostic or post-modern esoteric view of the Messiah. The King Messiah is literally a man while at the same time being Righteousness Himself, a title that only God qualifies for.
He is “A hiding place”. That is an intimate description. Those who hide in Him have drawn near to seek refuge and protection from the harsh winds of life.
He is “A shelter”. A hiding place denotes a surrounding protection while a shelter more specifically alludes to covering which is above and protects from that which falls. In this case the rain is seen as a threat that the King Messiah will shelter Israel from. The counterpoint to this is seen in the second to last verse where the raining hail destroys Assyria, Israel’s enemy.
He is “Rivers of water in a dry place”. With verse 19 in mind we might consider the rain from above as a symbol of water falling in judgement. The counterpoint is the rivers of water that bring life to the desperately dry land and her people. Israel will quench her desperate thirst with the living waters of the King of Righteousness.
He is “A shadow of a great cliff face”. This simile conveys a sense of the immutable and immovable nature of the King’s protection over His people and the relief that it brings. Travellers in the middle east often endure harsh conditions as they journey through arid places. Thus, when they come across a cliff face that shelters, cools and protects them they are filled with a sense of relief and security. The shadow of the righteous brings relief from the hot sun, whereas the shadow of the wicked makes the shivering one colder still.
Isa 32:3 And the eyes of roiym seeing ones will not look away, veazneiy and the ears of shomei’iym hearing ones will tiksavenah hear, heed, be attentive.
“And the eyes of the righteous shall not be shut, and the ears of those who receive instruction shall hear.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE/AD)
This is the counterpoint to Isaiah’s earlier prophecy concerning Judah’s inability to see or hear the sound teaching and warnings of Hashem.
This seeing and hearing will be upon the entire nation of Israel. The curse of blindness and wilful resistance will be removed by the Righteous King and the renewed nation will be judged with justice, tribe by tribe.
Isa 32:4 ulevav And the core being (heart) of nimhariym the hurried (anxious) will understand lada’at knowledge, uleshon and the tongue of those who speak nonsense will hurry to speak clearly.
For the Hebrew the lev/levav (heart) is not the seat of emotion. The heart is the point of convergence for all aspects of the human existence, while it manifests emotion it is not the sole domain of emotion. Therefore, we understand “heart” to mean “core being”. Thus when the Scripture says “The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9) it does not mean “The emotion of man (alone) is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked”, rather it means “Humanity now has a fallen nature that is manifested within the core of its existence”. In terms of rabbinical nomenclature we would call this sin affected aspect of our nature “Yetzer ha-ra” inclination of the evil.
In the present text the core being of the hasty and anxious person will be set free to receive and understand the knowledge that comes from Hashem. In addition, the one who is undecided and speaks nonsense will be set free to speak clearly and relay the righteous paths of Hashem. All this is the fruit of the reign of the King of Righteousness mentioned in verse 1.
Isa 32:5 lenaval The vile fool will no longer be called nadiyv generous, nor the scoundrel (withholder) said to be shoa noble, free.
"the wicked man shall be no more called just, and they that transgress His word shall not be called mighty.'' – Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE/AD)
The Hebrew naval denotes villainy and foolishness. The fool Nabal is famous for his mistreatment of David and his men (1 Sam. 25). The Hebrew text of verse 5 is a transliterated word play “lo yikarei od naval nadiyv”.
This verse is saying that the truth will no longer be made a lie by the upside down nature of the wicked tongue. The vile will be known for who they are and the scoundrel will no longer be seen as noble.
Isa 32:6 For naval a vile fool will speak vile, foolish words, ve’libo and his core being (heart) will make wickedness, to practice godless hypocrisy, and to speak error against HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), to make empty nefesh the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the irrigation of the thirsty to fail.
This is a vehement denunciation of the ruling class of Jerusalem that explicitly calls out their vile behaviour and hypocrisy. The King of verse 1 will illuminate the truth of their actions and evil will be seen for what it is. It is often true that a soft heart that has been deluded by lies is quick to repent when faced with the realization of evil’s true nature.
We note that those being exposed are speaking error against God (YHVH: Mercy) and that the result is hunger of the soul (nefesh) and not the stomach (beten). In other words the wickedness of Jerusalem’s rulers and priests has produced a spiritual hunger in the unlearned classes and has meant that the irrigation of Biblical teaching has been stopped up, preventing the people from receiving the streams of water that would otherwise have flowed forth to them.
However, verse 1 pre-empts this with the promise of the King of Righteousness, Who will come as streams of life giving water.
The Targum of Yonatan supports this understanding:
"to make the soul of the righteous weary, who desire doctrine, as a hungry man bread; and the words of the law, which are as water to him that is thirsty, they think to cause to cease.''
Isa 32:7 Vecheilay And a scoundrel’s (withholder) keilayn instruments, vessels, utensils, are raiym evil, injurious: hu he zimot plans to counsel le’chabeil to bind aniyiym the humble, afflicted, poor beimreiy with speech of deception, uvdabeir when the words evyon of the needy seek justice.
The instruments of the withholder are those of the false shepherd (Zechariah 11:15), sent against Israel by Adonay Himself. These false shepherds, like those of Zechariah’s time, have claimed to worship Adonay but have instead syncretised the faith of Israel and birthed the idolatry of compromise. Their deceptive teaching has severely afflicted those who most needed their care and their words had denied the needy justice. This in complete opposition to the coming King and His just princes.
Isa 32:8 venadiyv And the generous one counsels nediyvot generous things; vehu and he, al upon nediyvot generosity yakum arises.
Once again Ibn Ezra and others claim that this refers to Hezekiah. Once again, if it does, it is only so in the sense that Hezekiah is a type for the Messiah. However, there is no explicit evidence of Hezekiah acting in this way toward the people of Jerusalem and Judea during his reign. In fact, this verse is referring back to the Righteous King of verse 1 Who’s generous counsel will produce generous outcomes as He arises in Israel and reveals His character to those being redeemed through Him. We note that He arises upon generosity meaning that generosity is an attribute of His character.
Isa 32:9 Women of leisure; komenah arise shemanah listen, hear, receive, understand koli my voice, banot daughters botchot trusting; hazeinah give ear to imratiy my speech.
From the very beginning of Isaiah’s prophetic ministry he has pointed out that the fruit of moral decay is often made manifest in a care free, flirtatious and selfish lifestyle (Isa. 3:16-26). This had continued to be the case in the lives of Judah’s leading women. Thus, he once again warns those same women of their need to listen to Hashem and repent of their self-idolatry.
Isaiah uses a formula that is familiar to the writings of the prophets Moses and Amos (A contemporary of Isaiah).
“And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech:” -Genesis 4:23
“Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria…” -Amos 6:1
Notice the use of the Hebrew “botchot” trusting, a feminine plural from the root batach. The point is, “What are you trusting in?”
So we see that it is not trust that is important so much as who or what we place our trust in.
Ibn Ezra sees these women as allegorical of the towns of Samaria.
Isa 32:10 Yamiym Days upon shanah a year will tirgaznah agitate, trouble, perturb you, botechot trusting ones: for the vintage will cease, the gathering will be worn out and be brought in.
Ibn Ezra suggests that “yamiym al shanah” equates to “shanah al shanah” year after year. However, this is unlikely given the similar use of shanah elsewhere in Scripture as alluded to by the Scholars Keil & Delitzch:
“Shanah is the current year. In an undefined number of days, at the most a year from the present time (which is sometimes the meaning of yamiym).” -Keil & Delitzch
Therefore, what seems to be meant here is that “Within the days of the current year, you trusting daughters will be troubled, for the vintage will cease and before you get even a small amount of the harvest collected you will find it to be devoid of any real value.”
This is most likely in reference to the invasion of Sennacherib the Assyrian ruler, who invaded Judea in 704 BCE/BC and brought devastation and ruin to the land causing the harvest to cease and the ingathering to fail. This means that Isaiah prophesied these words approximately 702-703, a year or so prior to the Assyrian invasion of Judea.
Isa 32:11 Chirdu Tremble, be afraid, women of leisure; regazah quake, rage, be agitated, botechot trusting ones: veorah make yourself bare, and gird your loins.
This is both a warning of the natural outcome of invasion and at the same time a call to repentance. The phrase “veorah” is often linked to the donning of sackcloth and is a symbol and practice of repentance and genuine sorrow for sin as well as a sign of mourning.
These words are reminiscent of the words of the prophet Joel:
“Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withheld from the house of your God.” -Joel 1:13
“Gird your loins” means prepare to flee.
Isa 32:12 Upon your shadayim breasts, wail, mourn, upon the shedeiy-chemed field of delight, upon the fruitful vine.
Like sackcloth, the beating of the breast is a sign of mourning and repentance. Here it will be done in response to the failing fields of Judea at the coming invasion of the Assyrian army. There is a word play here that links the Hebrew shadayim (breasts) to the shedeiy (field).
Isa 32:13 Upon adamat the land ami of my people thorns and sharp stones will come up; for, upon all the houses of masos exaltation in the village jubilant:
The sharp stones and thorns are both literal and allegorical. The stones and thorns that burden the soil of the middle east are the bane of the farmers existence. They must be removed constantly or they will cause the crop to fail and the feet of the workers to become bruised and cut. Spiritually speaking Israel’s failure to remove the stones and thorns of idolatry and sin will result in the failing of the spiritual crop, even in that city that has been exalted as holy and celebrated with pilgrimage.
“The village Jubilant” is most likely a poetic title for Jerusalem.
Both God and the prophet continue to call Israel, and in particular Judah, “My people”. God and the prophet Isaiah are suffering the grief and heartbreak of the suffering of Israel, even when that suffering is the result of the sin choices of the people. Israel, ethnic-religious is always God’s people. Her identity is not measured by her actions.
Isa 32:14 Because a palace will be forsaken; a multitude in anguish will leave a ofel vebachan hill fort, and a watch tower will become surrounded by dens ad-olam perpetually forever (in the world), an exaltation of wild asses, a pasture of flocks;
“Armon” palace is singular, "the palace", meaning the royal palace. Thus, Iben Ezra and Yarchi interpret it of the king's palace in Jerusalem. The Targum of Yonatan paraphrases armon as “the house of the sanctuary”, or the temple, which was eventually left desolate. Messiah foretold this in Matthew 23:38.
“Ofel vebachan” are said by some to be the names of two towers in Jerusalem. “Ofel” is located on the south-eastern fortified slope of the temple mountain (2 Chronicles 27:3).
The “watch tower” is translated by some (Rashi) to refer to the ramparts or citadel (Ibn Ezra) of Jerusalem but may also be understood to be the same as the “Tower of the flock” mentioned in Micah 4:8. Migdal Eder (Tower of Eder [flock]), which is located in Bethlehem.
The Hebrew “ad-olam” must be understood relative to the “olam” world it refers to. There are essentially two worlds: the olam hazeh, literally “world this one”, and olam haba “world the coming” or “the world to come”, meaning eternity. Thus, in the present passage the context of “ad” perpetually going round “olam” forever, or in the world, refers to the olam hazeh (present world) rather than the olam haba (world to come).
Therefore, the desolation being spoken of is repeated over and again throughout Israel’s history until the Righteous King of Isaiah 32:1 returns to deliver Jerusalem and unite it to the heavenly Jerusalem which will exist in the olam haba ad-olam “In the world to come perpetually forever”.
Isa 32:15 Ad Until yeiareh naked, uncovered, poured out emptied aleiynu on us ruach spirit, wind, breath, from on high, and it comes to pass that midbar the wilderness will be a fruitful field, vehacarmel and the Carmel (fruitful field) be a forest yeichasheiv of esteem, value, (countless).
The theme of verses 15 to 20 is one of restoration, which will come to a repentant Jerusalem. The city being defined by its inhabitants.
The plain meaning is that the desolation decreed against Jerusalem will continue throughout history until Israel receives the unveiled Spirit of God and repents of her sin. As a result she will experience fruitfulness both physical and spiritual, even in the barren wilderness.
“Ad” until, means, the desolation described in the previous verses will continue to come against Jerusalem, Judah and all Israel until the unveiled Spirit is poured out upon the Jewish people (Israel ethnic, religious) from above. That is until the Spirit of God is poured out upon the repentant Jewish people.
The Hebrew “yeiareh” means naked, uncovered, emptied and figuratively, poured out. This is a description of intimacy and relational force. The Spirit is to be revealed unveiled to the people of Israel. We know that this work of redemptive revelation was begun in Jerusalem (Judah, Israel) in the first century CE/AD (Acts 2). Ethnic Jews from throughout the world received the Spirit of God at the aliyot festival celebration of Sukkot (Pentecost) [approximately 33 to 39 CE/AD]. The account of Acts 2 details the Spirit descending like fire, another symbol of naked, unveiled power, and recalls the Jewish tradition that says fire descended upon the elders of Israel at the giving of the Torah at Sinai.
We note that this was the inception, the beginning of the full filling of this prophesied promise of Isaiah. While the salvation of the Jewish people has begun and continues as each one turns to God through Yeshua the Messiah (Righteous King of verse 1), it will not be complete until the fullness of the nations have come to Messiah, at which time those Messianic Jews who have already received the Spirit from above will be joined by the remnant of ethnic religious Israel (Romans 11:25-26). When Shaul (Paul) says “a partial hardening has come to Israel” it means that part of ethnic Israel continues to resist Messiah while other ethnic Jews accept Him. When Shaul (Paul) says “in this way all Israel will be saved” it means that following the salvation of the fullness of the nations the remnant of Israel (ethnic) who remain in disbelief will receive Messiah and be joined to those who are already Messianic Jews (ethnic), thus, all Israel (ethnic) will be saved and reunited in Messiah.
The Hebrew “midbar” meaning wilderness, pasture, uninhabited land, comes from the root dabar meaning essence, thing, word etc. In fact midbar seems to be a contraction of the Hebrew “me” meaning from, and “davar” meaning word, essence. Therefore, as a remez we can read “from the word will come fruitfulness.” The Word is Messiah, the fruit is right action born of Messiah in us.
Isa 32:16 Veshakhan And dwelling bamidbar in the wilderness (ba-in, & mi-from the, d’bar-word), mishpat judgment utzedakah and righteousness bacarmel in the Carmel (fruitful land) teishev will dwell, remain, abide.
“And dwelling in and from the Word, right judgements and righteousness we will abide in the fruit of right action.”
“shakhan” is the root from which we get “Mishkhan” The Tent of Meeting where the Kadosh HaShem (Glory of YHVH) would presence Himself while Israel camped in the desert.
Isa 32:17 And the work of righteousness will be peace; va’avodat and the service (effect) of ha-tzadakah the righteousness, ha-shekheit the shut it (quietness) vavetach and security (trust) ad-olam perpetually forever (in the world).
This verse begins with a powerful and timeless statement. “The work of righteousness will be peace”. Peace is not the result of military power or political alliances but of right action. That is, righteous faith that bears right action.
In fact the Scripture says “For no one is righteous, not even one” (Psalm 51:4) and “No one living is righteous before You” (Psalm 143:2) and “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Daniel 9:11; Romans 3:23) and still further, “Our righteousness is like menstrual rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Therefore, only God and His Messiah are truly righteous. Thus verse 17 draws the reader’s attention back to the first verse of this chapter and the righteousness of the King. Thus, we can read “The work of Righteousness Himself will bring peace.” Not temporal but lasting peace.
Yeshua illuminates this truth further:
“Then they asked Him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Yeshua answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’” -Yochanan (John) 6:28-29
This work of righteousness continues within the present world until it meets the world to come.
It is utter nonsense to claim as Iben Ezra does, that the peace born of righteousness described here happened during Hezekiah’s reign. The Scripture itself testifies against this interpretation. Israel did not enjoy any lasting peace during the reign of Hezekiah. One might best describe Hezekiah’s reign as a temporary reprieve, almost ruined completely by Hezekiah’s own compromised faith journey.
Isa 32:18 Veyashav And dwelling ami My people in an binevah abode (shepherd shelter) of peace, uvmishkenot and in dwellings, mivtachiym of trusting, refuge, confidence, uvimnuchot and in resting places shaananot secure, quiet, at ease;
Under the reign of the Righteous King Messiah “My people” will dwell in the abode of The Shepherd (God, Yeshua), and in dwellings of trust and refuge. Resting secure.
This is a picture of the Mishkhan (Tent of Meeting) and the sukkot (dwellings) of Israel while she wondered the desert. Uvmishkenot uses the feminine plural form of Mishkhan. This poetic image is transferred to the Messianic reign and the city of the New Jerusalem, where there will be no Temple, but God Himself and the Lamb will be its Temple (Revelation 21:22).
Isa 32:19 Uvarad And it will hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place.
Having concluded the prophecy concerning the redemption and peace of Israel the prophet now turns back to the coming destruction of Israel’s enemies. Specifically the hail coming against the forest, which is connected to Assyria’s army in Isaiah 10:34, and against the prosperity and pride of Nineveh the capital of Assyria, which is figuratively called a low place and is ironically made lower still.
Isa 32:20 Ashreiychem Happily Blessed are you that scatter seed upon all mayim waters, meshalesheiy that send forth the feet of the ox and the ass.
As quickly as the prophet had digressed, he now returns to the subject at hand, that of Israel’s future redemption and the conditions she will enjoy under the reign of the King of Righteousness. Seed scattered on many waters is an idiom that conveys fruitfulness and life born of living and abundant water supply. The sending forth of the feet of the ox and ass is a picture of the shore footed path of livestock, from the strong animals used for ploughing and threshing to the domestic animals of burden, all will be readily available to Israel in the Messianic Kingdom. This kingdom will begin in the olam hazeh (present world) and converge with the olam haba (world to come).
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.