We note that if choosing to do the hard thing of rebuking a brother or sister’s repeated sin behaviour means saving his or her soul, then the opposite is also true. Failing to rebuke a brother or sister’s repeated sin behaviour means giving them over to the possibility of death.
Yaakov 5:1-20 (Author’s convergent translation from Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew)
1 Lead, go to, now, you wealthy people, weep and wail, lament over the wretchedness, miseries of yourselves which are coming. 2 Your riches are corrupted, decaying and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and your silver is corroded, and their poison will follow as a testimony, witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. You have stored up treasure in these last days! 4 Behold, now, pay attention the wages of the workers who harvested your lands, which you have defrauded those who, cry out; and the outcry of those who reaped has entered into the ears of the LORD Who goes warring. 5 You have lived in luxury on the earth and for pleasure; you have feed your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous one; he offered you no resistance. 7 Be patient, therefore Jewish brothers and sisters, until the coming of the LORD. The vinedresser waits expectantly for the precious fruit of the land, with longsuffering patience, until he receives the early and latter rains. 8 You also be patient, longsuffering; strengthen, establish your hearts, core being, for the coming of the LORD is near, close at hand. 9 Don’t hold grudges against one another Jewish brothers and sisters, lest you face condemnation; behold, now, pay attention the Judge is standing before, in the door/opening. 10 Receive, my Jewish brothers and sisters, the prophets who have spoken in the name of the LORD as an example of affliction, distress, trouble, and of patient longsuffering. 11 behold, now, pay attention we count those blessed, happy who endure, are patient, abiding. You have heard of the patient endurance of Iyov[H] (Job) and have seen the goal of the LORD, that the LORD is full of compassion, extremely kind and mercifully tender. 12 Now before, at the head of all things, essences, substances, individual and collective, my Jewish brothers and sisters, do not swear, not by the heavens or by earth or with any other oath; now your yes is yes, and your no, no, so that you do not fall into hypocrisy. 13 Is anyone among you afflicted, suffering, troubled? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you weak, sick, diseased, impotent? He should call for the elders of the gathered believers and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the LORD; 15 and the prayer, vow of the faith, trust, belief will save, make whole, heal the one who is sick, weary, faint and the LORD will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, missing the mark set by God’s holiness they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sin offences to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed, made whole. Much can be accomplished in the prayer request of a righteous person, when it is made of effect, strengthened. 17 Eliyahu[H] (Elijah) was a man subject to passions just as we are, and he prayed praying that it might not rain, and it didn’t rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the heavens gave rain and the land produced its fruit. 19 My Jewish brothers and sisters, if anyone among you is deceived, wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, 20 let him know, perceive, understand that the one who turns a sinner from the delusion, error of his way, that same one saves his soul, life, breath from death and covers a multitude of sins.
Yaakov 5:1-20 (Line upon line)
1 Lead, go to, (age[G]) now (nun[G]), you wealthy people (plousios[G]), weep (klaiō[G]) and wail, lament (ololuzō[G], za’aku heiy liylo[H]) over (epi[G]) the wretchedness, miseries (ho talaipōria[G], latzarot[H]) of yourselves which are coming (ho eperchomai[G], etchem[H]). 2 Your riches (ploutos[G], ashrechem[H]) are corrupted, decaying (sēpō[G]) and your garments (himation[G], yochal[H]) have become moth-eaten (sētobrōtos[G]).
1 Lead, go to, now, you wealthy people, weep and wail, lament over the wretchedness, miseries of yourselves which are coming. 2 Your riches are corrupted, decaying and your garments have become moth-eaten.
Again, the temptation to relegate this part of Yaakov’s teaching to outsiders rather than Jewish believers is unfounded. There are always rich among us, there will always be poor believers. Although the language is harsh it is also familiar. Yaakov knows he is speaking to Jews who are immersed in Torah, the prophets and writings of HaShem. The Tanakh uses similar terminology in Psalm 73 and Isaiah 5:8-9. These words are an admonition with the intent to encourage repentance, a tishuvah (turning back) to right action in Messiah.
“Woe to you who add house to house
and join field to field
till no space is left
and you live alone in the land.
9 The Lord Almighty has declared in my hearing:
“Surely the great houses will become desolate,
the fine mansions left without occupants.”
Isaiah 5:8-9 NIV
Yaakov speaks not to all rich people but specifically those who become rich through corrupt practices, and those who trust in their riches rather than in God through Messiah. This is made clear by the context of the latter part of the previous chapter and is emphasised by the present phrasing “Your riches are corrupted” which describes the fruit of wicked intentions. Further, verse 4 describes the withholding of the wages of employees. Additionally Yaakov is speaking specifically to those corrupted rich people within the Messianic Jewish communities of the early body of believers. Meaning that in some cases they are withholding the wages of fellow believers and in those cases where they are withholding the wages of employees from outside the community they are bearing false witness of Messiah.
This is a warning given to believers with the intention of preventing their being led astray by the love of worldly wealth.
3 Your gold (chrusos[G], hazahav[H]) and your silver (arguros[G], hakesef[H]) is corroded (katioō[G]), and their poison (ios[G]) will follow (esomai[G]) as a testimony, witness (marturion[G], le’eid[H]) against you and will consume (phagō[G]) your flesh (sarx[G], besarchem[H]) like fire (pur[G], kaeiysh[H]). You have stored up treasure (thēsaurizō[G]) in these last days (eschatos hēmera[G], acharit-hayamim[H])!
3 Your gold and your silver is corroded, and their poison will follow as a testimony, witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. You have stored up treasure in these last days!
“Last days,” This is an allusion to the imminent judgement of God and a testimony against the ludicrous behaviour of hording wealth only to see it destroyed. The treasure that the corrupted rich are storing is temporary, unsatisfying. Yaakov will soon call for patient trust in Messiah, a position that will bear fruitful and eternal treasure. Those being rebuked here could be likened to a drug addict storing up drugs prior to an overdose.
4 Behold, now, pay attention (idou[G], Hinei[H]) the wages (ho misthos[G], sechar[H]) of the workers (ergatēs[G], hapoaliym[H]) who harvested (amaō[G]) your lands (chōra[G]), which you have defrauded (apostereō[G]) those who, cry out (krazō[G]); and the outcry (boē[G]) of those who reaped (theridō[G], hakotzriym[H]) has entered into (eiserchomai[G]) the ears (ho ous[G], veazneiy[H]) of the LORD Who goes warring (kurios sabaōth[G], YHVH Tzevaot[H]).
4 Behold, now, pay attention the wages of the workers who harvested your lands, which you have defrauded those who cry out; and the outcry of those who reaped has entered into the ears of the LORD Who goes warring.
This is straight out of the Torah, its Biblical Judaism 101:
“The wages of a hired man shall not stay with you until morning.” – Leviticus 19:13
See also: Deuteronomy 24:14-15 and Malachi 3:5
5 You have lived in luxury (truphaō[G]) on the earth (ho gē[G], ba’aretz[H]) and for pleasure (spatalaō[G]); you have feed (trephō[G]) your hearts (kardia[G], lib’chem[H]) in a day (hēmera[G], leyom[H]) of slaughter (sphagē[G], tivchah[H]). 6 You have condemned (katadikazō[G], hirsha’tem[H]) and murdered (phoneuō[G], hamiytem[H]) the righteous one (dikaios[G], et hatzadiyk[H]); he offered you no resistance (antitassomai[G], lo amad bifneiychem[H]).
5 You have lived in luxury on the earth and for pleasure; you have feed your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous one; he offered you no resistance.
We note that those being reprimanded are those who have lived “for pleasure”. This of course is the definition of Hedonism, a form of Idolatry.
“you have feed your hearts in a day of slaughter.” This can be understood to mean that those being accused have continued to fatten themselves while others are slaughtered, or that they are storing up earthly goods for themselves thinking they have a long future before them, not knowing that like the rich hoarder of Yeshua’s mashal, parable (Luke 12:13-21) they would soon lose their lives and be unable to enjoy their temporal riches.
It’s important to remember that this is not an inevitable outcome but a warning intended to produce repentance.
HaShem hears the cry of the spilled blood of a righteous one and the agony of the oppressed. This too is a familiar refrain from the Tanakh; Genesis 4:10, Exodus 3:7
The text is not accusing the corrupt wealthy of the synagogue of murdering people, rather, as is taught elsewhere in the New Testament, Yaakov is conveying the idea that when a believer mistreats the oppressed and poor it is as if he is crucifying Messiah again. This is why the text reads “You have condemned and murdered the righteous one; he offered you no resistance.”
7 Be patient (makrothumeō[G]), therefore (oun[G]) Jewish brothers and sisters (adelphos[G], achay[H]), until the coming (ho Parousia[G], ad bo[H]) of the LORD (ho kurios[G], HaAdon[H]). The vinedresser (geōrgos[G], haikar[H]) waits expectantly (ekdechomai[G], yechakeh[H]) for the precious (ho timios[G], hatovah[H]) fruit (karpos[G], litvuat[H]) of the land (ho gē[G], ha’adamah[H]), with longsuffering patience (makrothumeō[G]), until he receives (lambanō[G]) the early, autumn (prōimos[G]) and latter, spring (opsimos[G]) rains (huetos[G]). 8 You also (kai[G]) be patient, longsuffering (makrothumeō[G]); strengthen, establish (stērizō[G], amtzu[H]) your hearts, core being (kardia[G], lib’chem[H]), for the coming (ho Parousia[G]) of the face LORD (ho kurios[G], peneiy HaAdon[H]) is near, close at hand (eggizō[G], hineih baiym[H]).
7 Be patient, therefore Jewish brothers and sisters, until the coming of the LORD. The vinedresser waits expectantly for the precious fruit of the land, with longsuffering patience, until he receives the early autumn and latter spring rains. 8 You also be patient, longsuffering; strengthen, establish your hearts, core being, for the coming of the LORD is near, close at hand.
Those who work the land and do business are to do so with patient expectation of the coming return of the King Messiah Yeshua. Not seeking the wealth of this temporary world but rather practicing longsuffering in waiting for the eternal wealth of the Olam Haba (world to come).
We note that the establishing of the heart, core being, is the result of patiently trusting in Messiah and His promised return. His return is nearer each moment, now and yet fully manifest.
Patience, not boasting, is the path of the believer. It’s not patience in and off itself, rather it’s patience born of hope, that hope is in the Messiah’s return.
“Fruit of the land” is a quotation from the brachah (blessing) for eating berries and vegetables. A vinedresser or farmer’s patience is rewarded by the harvest.
The autumn rains are mentioned first, this was contrary to the rhythm of the Greek world which measures it’s year using different spiritual markers. This is counterintuitive to the Gentile mind which understands early in relationship to spring and late in relationship to fall. However, the Biblical Hebrew calendar understands the first rains at Sukkot (fall) as early, and the rains following Pesach (spring) as late.
The Greek terms used refer to the autumn or fall rains as “early” and the spring rains as “latter”. This is because Yaakov is using Greek terms to convey a Hebraic idea. This is consistent with the rainfall in the land of Israel. For the most part it rains significantly no more than twice a year in Israel; the early, or former rain, comes shortly after Sukkot (the festival of shelters) in the month Chesvan, (approx. October). The latter rain is in Nisan, (approx. March) prior to the first harvest (barley).
The Jewish High Holy days (along with the early rains) occur at the end of the year approaching fall and winter, this is a metaphor for judgment. The spring rains coincide with Yom ha-bikkurim—day of first fruit, this is a metaphor for new life, resurrection. Again Yaakov is reminding Jewish believers in the diaspora that their roots are of the land and are intrinsically linked to the spiritual year as laid out in the Torah. Death, judgment and new life continue to be part of their journey. In the end it is the hope of new life, eternal life, which they must focus on.
“for the coming of the Lord is near, close at hand.” Perhaps not near in terms of earth history, but in terms of eternal consciousness, very near. Therefore His return is now nearer still.
9 Don’t hold grudges (stenazō[G]), against one another Jewish brothers and sisters (adelphos[G], achay[H]), lest you face condemnation (katakrinō[G], pen-tishafeitu[H]); behold, now, pay attention (idou[G], hineih[H]) the Judge (ho kritēs[G], hadayan[H]) is standing before (pro[G]), in the door/opening (bapatach[H]). 10 Receive (lambanō[G]), my Jewish brothers and sisters (mou adelphos[G], achay[H]), the prophets (ho prophētēs[G], hanevi’iym[H]) who have spoken in the name (ho onoma[G], beshem[H]) of the LORD (ho Kurios[G], YHVH[H]) as an example (hupodeigma[G]) of affliction, distress, trouble (kakopatheia[G]), and of patient longsuffering (makrothumia[G]).
9 Don’t hold grudges, against one another Jewish brothers and sisters, lest you face condemnation; behold, now, pay attention the Judge is standing before, in the door/opening. 10 Receive, my Jewish brothers and sisters, the prophets who have spoken in the name of the LORD as an example of affliction, distress, trouble, and of patient longsuffering.
The phrase “lest you be condemned” is specifically referring to one judged, found wanting and sentenced, and not simply to the act of judgement.
“The Judge is standing at the door,” In God Yeshua is Head and Judge of the body of believers. A similar warning is given to the body of believers of Laodicea:
“14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the [k]Origin of the creation of God, says this: 15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have no need of anything,” and you do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to apply to your eyes so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 The one who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne. 22 The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” -Revelation 3:14-22 NASB
11 behold, now, pay attention (idou[G], hineih[H]) we count those blessed, happy (makarizō[G]) who endure, are patient, abiding (hupomenō[G]). You have heard of the patient endurance (hupomonē[G], savlanut[H]) of Iyov[H] (Job: persecuted, treated as an enemy) and have seen (eidō[G]) the goal (telos[G]) of the LORD (ho Kurios[G], YHVH[H]), that the LORD (ho Kurios[G], YHVH[H]) is full of compassion, extremely kind (polusplagchnos[G]) and mercifully tender (oiktirmōn[G]).
11 behold, now, pay attention we count those blessed, happy who endure, are patient, abiding. You have heard of the patient endurance of Iyov[H] (Job: persecuted, treated as an enemy) and have seen the goal of the LORD, that the LORD is full of compassion, extremely kind and mercifully tender.
It's interesting to note that Seder Olam Rabbah (c. 3. p. 9.) one of the traditional commentaries of the rabbis says that Job suffered for 12 months. This is based on the Hebrew text of Job 7:3.
Here perseverance is the key. One might become impatient, but like Job we must overcome impatience with perseverance, trusting, like Job, in the compassionate mercy of God, the ultimate positive outcome, Messiah’s return and an eternity of prosperity in God.
“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;” -Job 19:25-26 NIV
12 Now before, at the head (pro[G], verosh[H]) of all things, essences, substances, individual and collective (pas[G], davar[H]), my Jewish brothers and sisters (mou adelphos[G], achay[H]), do not swear (omnuō[G]), not by the heavens (ouranos[G], vashamayim[H]) or by earth (gē[G], va’aretz[H]) or with any other oath (horkos[G]); now (de[G]) your yes (nai[G], hein[H]) is yes, and your no (ou[G], lo[H]), no, so that you do not fall into hypocrisy (hupokrisis[G]).
12 Now before, at the head of all things, essences, substances, individual and collective, my Jewish brothers and sisters, do not swear, not by the heavens or by earth or with any other oath; now your yes is yes, and your no, no, so that you do not fall into hypocrisy.
“Now before” Before you address all that is in error among you, and keeping the righteous patience of the prophets, turn away from vain oaths and deception and firmly establish a practice of keeping your word without even a hint of hypocrisy.
This is similar to Yeshua’s teaching in Matthew 5:33-37 and links to the frivolous boasting of the traders in 4:13-17. Simply put, oath taking was a big part of Jewish culture at the time and had become a means for justifying daily deception as a lesser form of communication. In short, Yaakov is saying “Speak the truth and don’t make promises you have no intention of keeping.”
13 Is anyone among you afflicted, suffering, troubled (kakopatheō[G])? He should pray (proseuchomai[G], yitfaleil[H]). Is anyone cheerful (euthumeō[G])? He should sing psalms (psallō[G], yezameir[H]). 14 Is anyone among you weak, sick, diseased, impotent (astheneō[G])? He should call (proskaleomai[G], yikra[H]) for the elders (presbuteros[G], zikneiy[H]) of the gathered believers (ekklēsia[G], hakehilah[H]) and they are to pray (proseuchomai[G], veyitplalu[H]) over him, anointing (aleiphō[G], viysuchuhu[H]) him with oil (elaion[G], shemen[H]) in the name (ho onoma[G], beshem[H]) of the Lord (ho Kurios[G], YHVH[H]);
13 Is anyone among you afflicted, suffering, troubled? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you weak, sick, diseased, impotent? He should call for the elders of the gathered believers and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the LORD;
Both prayer and singing are forms of conversation with God. It seems that Yaakov’s best advice is this, “Be in relationship with the Creator.” As opposed to doing in relationship with the world.
Both the weary and the ill are offered anointing here. Oil has been used by Israel’s priests to anoint her Kings for centuries. It is a symbol of the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) and the rich blessing and healing of God.
"whoever has a sick person in his house, let him go to a wise man, and he will seek mercy for him.'' -R. Phinehas ben Chama (Talmud Bavliy Bava Bathra, fol. 116. 1.)
15 and the prayer, vow (euchē[G], utefilat[H]) of the faith, trust, belief (pistis[G], haemunah[H]) will save, make whole, heal (sōzō[G], toshiya[H]) the one who is sick, weary, faint (kamnō[G]) and the Lord (ho Kurios[G], YHVH[H]) will raise him up (egeirō[G], yekiymenu[H]), and if he has committed sins, missing the mark set by God’s holiness (hamartia[G], chata[H]) they will be forgiven (aphiēmi[G], yisalach[H]) him.
15 and the prayer, vow of the faith, trust, belief will save, make whole, heal the one who is sick, weary, faint and the LORD will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, missing the mark set by God’s holiness they will be forgiven him.
The faith spoken of here is not faith in healing, rather it is faith in the Healer, Messiah Yeshua/God the Father. This prayer will be the vehicle for revelation to the needy one. He will be delivered from needless toil and lifted up or awakened from his disappear or illness, made whole—not necessarily physically well but whole/complete, spiritually speaking. As a result of this prayer of faith in Messiah, sin will be covered and forgiven losing its temporal authority.
16 Therefore, confess (exomologeō[G]) your sin offences (hamartia paraptōma
[G]) to one another, and pray (euchomai[G], vehitpalalu[H]) for one another so that you may be healed, made whole (iaomai[G], teirafeiu[H]). Much (polus[G], gadol[H]) can be accomplished in the prayer request (deēsis[G], tefilat[H]) of a righteous (dikaios[G], hatzadiyk[H]) person, when it is made of effect, strengthened (energeō[G], bechazkah[H]).
16 Therefore, confess your sin offences to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed, made whole. Much can be accomplished in the prayer request of a righteous person, when it is made of effect, strengthened.
“Therefore” Because the prayer of faith in Messiah brings healing, wholeness and the forgiveness of God.
Openly vocalizing our sin as confession to one another can be a very powerful source of release from the burden of it. This is something the Catholic Church does well. It is true to say to a brother or sister, “Go in peace, your sins are forgiven.” We are not saying that we have forgiven their sins, we are simply acknowledging that through the blood covering of Messiah’s sacrifice, their sin is forgiven.
The purpose of this open confession is not to publicly humiliate or give opportunity for gossip. It should be undertaken only with trusted believers and then only by the leading of the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit).
In petitioning God on behalf of one another we are to be motivated by mercy because “mercy triumphs over judgment.” Therefore we see the work of God here, denouncing false judgment and vindictiveness and announcing mercy and freedom. The result? Wholeness.
Rav Eliezar of the Talmud also teaches that the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective (Talmud Bavliy Succah, fol. 14. 1. & Yebamot, fol. 64. 1.).
17 Eliyahu[H] (My God He is YHVH) was a man (anthrōpos[G], enosh anush[H]) subject to passions (homoiopathēs[G]) just as we are, and he prayed (proseuchomai[G], vehitpaleil[H]) praying (proseuchē[G], tefilah[H]) that it might not rain (brechō[G], matar[H]), and it didn’t rain (brechō[G], matar[H]) on the land (ho ge[G], ba’aretz[H]) for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed (proseuchomai[G], vayitpaleil[H]) again, and the heavens (ouranos[G], vehashamayim[H]) gave (didōmi[G], nat’nu[H]) rain (huetos[G], matar[H]) and the land (ho ge[G], ha’aretz[H]) produced its fruit (karpos[G], et-piryah[H]).
17 Eliyahu[H] was a man subject to passions just as we are, and he prayed praying that it might not rain, and it didn’t rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the heavens gave rain and the land produced its fruit.
It’s important to note here that the type of prayer being spoken of is a form of fervent listening. After all, the narrative concerning Eliyahu’s (Elijah’s) life tells us only that he heard from God that the heavens would be shut up, following which he heard from God again some years later that the heavens would release rain upon the land. The pattern goes like this: Listen… No rain. Listen… rain. Listen… drought and death born of idolatry. Listen… Life giving waters welling up from Messiah in you. It is the Patient, or rather, persevering Eliyahu (like the farmer of verse 7), who received the later rain.
It is interesting to note that in the account of Elijah’s prophetic word to Ahab regarding God sending rain there is no explicit mention of prayer (1 Kings 18:42). In the account Elijah goes up to the top of Mt Carmel, throws himself to the ground, puts his face between his knees. Each of these actions are considered kinetic prayer.
Our sages say “Elijah went up to the top of Carmel, to pray, and he cast himself down upon the earth, to pray for rain; and he put his face between his knees and prayed, and said to his servant, go up now, look toward the sea; and this he said while he was in his prayers" - Yarchi, Kimchi, Ralbag, & Laniado in loc.
In each action we are praying. This is why the text of Yaakov 5:17 reads “he prayed praying”. This is a Hebrew idiom employed to denote passionate and committed prayer (Zohar in Gen. fol. 31. 1. & Imre Binah in ib). Elijah’s entire life, motivation, thought, action, was a living conversation with God. Yaakov encourages us with the words “Eliyahu[H] was a man subject to passions just as we are…”
Yaakov uses the example of praying for rain because it is such a significant part of Biblical Jewish practice and of the subsequent generations of Israel in the land. Many of our rabbis are recorded as having sought God for the provision of rain. Jewish tradition is filled with these accounts (Talmud Bavliy Moed Katon, fol. 28. 1. & Taanit, fol. 19. 1. 23. 1. 24. 2. 25. 2. & Yoma, fol. 53. 2.)
“The heavens gave rain” is an allusion first and foremost to the fact that God, Who is the Creator of the heavens, gave rain. Not just the physical rain that ended the drought in the land of Israel but also the cleansing rain of His Spirit bringing repentance and spiritual revival to the people of the land of Israel.
19 My Jewish brothers and sisters (mou adelphos[G], achay[H]), if anyone among you is deceived, wanders (planaō[G], yiteh[H]) from the truth (ho alētheia[G], min haemet[H]) and someone turns (epistrephō[G], yeshiyvenu[H]) him back, 20 let him know, perceive, understand (ginōskō[G], yeida-na[H]) that the one who turns (epistrephō[G], hameishiyv[H]) a sinner (hamartōlos[G], et hachotei[H]) from the delusion, error (planē[G]) of his way (hodos[G], darko[H]) that same one (autos[G]) saves (sōzō[G], yoshiya[H]) his soul, life, breath (psuchē[G], et-nafsho[H]) from death (Thanatos[G], mimavet[H]) and covers (kaluptō[G], veychaseh[H]) a multitude (plēthos[G]) of sins (hamartia[G], al-hamon peshaiym[H]).
19 My Jewish brothers and sisters, if anyone among you is deceived, wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, 20 let him know, perceive, understand that the one who turns a sinner from the delusion, error of his way that same one saves his soul, life, breath from death and covers a multitude of sins.
Finally, and with concise literary beauty, Yaakov reminds us that in Messiah we live and breathe to see others reconciled to God.
We note that if choosing to do the hard thing of rebuking a brother or sister’s repeated sin behaviour means saving his or her soul, then the opposite is also true. Failing to rebuke a brother or sister’s repeated sin behaviour means giving them over to the possibility of death. Offering confession and forgiveness at times means challenging others. This is why Yaakov has said previously “the one who knows to do the good and does not, he does sin”. This requires wisdom and care. Love acts to guide others away from the self-harm of sin. With our rebuke comes the good news that Mercy YHVH Himself triumphs over condemnation.
Copyright 2022 Yaakov Brown
“let a man never say he will do anything, before he first says, ‘if HaShem (YHVH) wills’” -Ben Syra Sentent. 11
Yaakov 4:1-17 (Author’s convergent translation from Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew)
1 From what source do the quarrels, fighting and the conflicts, striving, controversies come among you? Is the source not your lusts for pleasure that wage war in your body’s members? 2 You lust and do not obtain, so you murder. And you covet, envy, desire to have and cannot get, so you fight and make war. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with evil intentions, from yetzer hara[H], the evil inclination, so that you may consume, spend, waste what you ask for, on your lusts, sinful desires. 4 You adulterers and adulteresses, do you not know, understand, comprehend that the friendship/love with this world is enmity, extreme hatred toward the God? Therefore whoever determines to be a friend/lover of this world makes himself an enemy of the God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture, says in vain, that the spirit that dwells in us lusts toward envy? 6 But He gives a greater grace, favour. Therefore it says, “The God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the lowly, humble, afflicted.” [Prov. 3:34 LXX] Heb. Text of Prov. 3:34 reads “He derides, scorns the proud boaster and to the afflicted, humble, poor He gives grace, favour, acceptance, elegance.” 7 Therefore, submit, be obedient to God. And now stand against, resist the Devil, Slanderer, Accuser and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to the God and He will draw near to you, cleansing your hands, you sinful; and purify your hearts, you double-minded/double spirited/divided in heart. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned into sorrow, and your joy into heaviness/grief. 10 Humble yourselves before the sight/face of the Lord YHVH, and He will lift you up. 11 Do not speak evil of one another, Jewish brothers and sisters. The one who speaks evil of a Jewish brother or sister, or passes judgement on his Jewish brother or sister, speaks against the Torah and passes judgement on the Torah; but if you pass judgement on the Torah, you are not a doer of the Torah but a judge over it. 12 There is One Who is the Lawgiver and Judge, the One Who is able to save completely and to destroy fully; but who are you, to put judgment on trial concerning your neighbour? 13 Lead, go to, now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we’ll go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and buy and sell and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For your life is a vapor, a mist, smoke that appears, is seen for a short time, gone in a moment, and then is corrupted, disfigured, vanishes, perishes, [Heb. then its canopy will depart]. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord YHVH wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you rejoice, glory, boast, praise in your pride, arrogance; all such boasting, praising is evil, wicked. 17 Therefore, the one who sees, perceives, knows to do the good and does not, he does sin, evil, misses the mark set by God’s holiness.
Yaakov 4:1-17 (Line upon line)
1 From what (pothen[G]) source do the quarrels, fighting (polemos[G], hamilchamot[H]) and the conflicts, striving, controversies (mache[G], vehamdaniym[H]) come among you? Is the source not your lusts for pleasure (hēdonē[G], mitoch hata’avot hamiteigarot[H]) that wage war (strateuomai[G]) in your body’s members (melos[G], be’eivareiychem[H])?
2 You lust (epithumeō[G], mitaviym[H]) and do not obtain, so you murder (phoneuō[G], tiratz’chu[H]). And you covet, envy, desire to have (zēloō[G]) and cannot get (epitugchanō[G]), so you fight (machomai[G], utekan’u[H]) and make war (polemeō[G], vetilachamu[H]). You do not have (ve’eiyn lachem[H]) because you do not ask (aiteō[G], mip’neiy shela-she’eletem[H]).
1From what source do the quarrels, fighting and the conflicts, striving, controversies come among you? Is the source not your lusts for pleasure that wage war in your body’s members? 2 You lust and do not obtain, so you murder. And you covet, envy, desire to have and cannot get, so you fight and make war. You do not have because you do not ask.
Yaakov began this letter with an admonition against giving in to the yetzer ha-ra (evil inclination/fallen nature). As his teaching draws to a close he reminds his readers of the root of conflict and sin by challenging wrong action born of human wilfulness and rebellion against God.
The desires or lusts at war within, are parts of the evil inclination, this is not (as some mistakenly interpret) an allusion to the conflict between the yetzer ha-tov (good inclination) and the yetzer ha-ra (evil inclination). Rather, this is a description of evil divided against itself, a fallen kingdom within.
In the throes of lust we are disappointed, failing to obtain the object of our lust (when we lust after another person we make that person an object, they are no longer a person to us, at the point of lusting we have chosen to devalue the person by objectifying them). This ironic dissatisfaction is the very nature of lust, like the Adversary (ha-Satan) lust promises fulfilment but doesn’t deliver, we are left empty, unsatisfied.
It’s unlikely that the use of the term “murder” here is referring to physical murder, the whole synagogue is being rebuked regarding the core motives of human sin. We see a similar reprimand in 1 Yochanan (John) 3:15, “Whoever hates another person is a murderer.” It is perhaps true to say that ungodly hatred births jealousy, leading to murder, which in turn is evidence of idolatry (born of the constant desire of the Adversary to usurp God’s throne). Scripture affirms the fact that even Satan is subject to lust, and has himself become a slave to his own degradation.
A similar concept regarding internal motivation is found in the Mishnah: “Whoever thinks, ‘Yours is mine’ is a Sodomite (citizen of S’dom).” - Mishnah Avot 5:3
The Greek hedone translated “lust, desires, pleasure” is the root of the English word Hedonism, the selfish pursuit of pleasure above all else. A popular western form of idolatry born of the ancient Greco-Roman worldview.
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with evil intentions, from yetzer hara[H], the evil inclination (kakōs[G]), so that you may consume, spend, waste (dapanaō[G]) what you ask for, on your lusts, sinful desires (hēdonē[G], beta’avoteiychem[H]).4 You adulterers
(moichos[G], hanoafiym[H]) and adulteresses (moichalis[G], hanoafot[H]), do you not know,
understand, comprehend (yeda’tem[H]) that the friendship/love (ho philia[G], ahavat[H]) with this world (ho kosmos[G], haolam[H]) is enmity, extreme hatred (echthra[G]) toward the God (ho Theos[G], Elohiym[H])? Therefore whoever determines (boulomai[G]) to be a friend/lover (philia[G], oheiv[H]) of this world (ho kosmos[G], haolam[H]) makes (kathistēmi[G]) himself an enemy (echthros[G]) of the God (ho Theos[G], l'Eilohiym[H]).
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with evil intentions, from yetzer hara[H], the evil inclination, so that you may consume, spend, waste what you ask for, on your lusts, sinful desires. 4 You adulterers and adulteresses, do you not know, understand, comprehend that the friendship/love with this world is enmity, extreme hatred toward the God? Therefore whoever determines to be a friend/lover of this world makes himself an enemy of the God.
Firstly, if we choose not to converse with God we should not expect to receive anything from Him. Yeshua says, “Ask and it will be given to you.” Secondly, simply speaking at God is not sufficient.
Asking God to do what is evil is redundant, He cannot sin. When we ask God to provide us with the fruit of our fallen nature we are speaking in vain. A loving father doesn't respond to a teenage son’s request for a porn-site subscription by giving him his credit card.
The statement, “adulterers and adulteresses” (unfaithful wives, unfaithful husbands) deserves our careful attention. For an observant Jew of the first century C.E. this is a familiar metaphor for spiritual unfaithfulness, found numerous times in the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures, OT). It is important to understand that Israel herself is seen as a wife to HaShem (God). God is Israel’s Ba’al (Lord, Husband, Master) [Ezekiel 23, Hosea 1-2, 9:1 & Exodus 34:15].
Yeshua infers a similar meaning when He calls his generation “wicked and adulterous.” (Matthew 12:39, 16:4)
Regarding love for this world as hatred of God:
“Don’t love completely (agapeo: committed devotional love) this world (kosmos: not just the earth but all the sin affected creation) or anything in this world. If anyone loves this world, there is no love for the Father in them. For everything in this world (the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life) comes not from the Father but from this world. This world and its lusts pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
1 Yochanan (John) 2:15-17 (Author’s translation)
Love for this world is love for the wealth of the sin affected creation. This is Idolatry, the root of all sin (1 Timothy 6:10).
5 Or do you think that the Scripture, TaNaKh [OT] the Hebrew Bible (ho graphe[G], hakatuv[H]) says in vain (kenōs[G]), that the spirit (ho pneuma[G], ha ruach[H]) that dwells (katoikeō[G]) in us lusts (epipotheō[G]) toward (pros[G]) envy (phthonos[G])? 6 But He gives a greater (meizōn[G]) grace, favour (charis[G], chen[H]). Therefore it says, “THE God (Ho Theos[G]) opposes (antitassomai[G]) the proud (huperēphanos[G]), but gives grace (charis[G]) to the lowly, humble, afflicted (tapeinos[G]).” [Prov. 3:34 LXX] Heb. Text of Prov. 3:34 reads “He derides, scorns (laleitziym[H]) the proud boaster (yalitz[H]) and to the afflicted, humble, poor (vela’anaviym[H]) He gives (yiten[H]) grace, favour, acceptance, elegance (chen[H]).”
5 Or do you think that the Scripture, says in vain, that the spirit that dwells in us lusts toward envy? 6 But He gives a greater grace, favour. Therefore it says, “THE God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the lowly, humble, afflicted.” [Prov. 3:34 LXX] Heb. Text of Prov. 3:34 reads “He derides, scorns the proud boaster and to the afflicted, humble, poor He gives grace, favour, acceptance, elegance.”
Verse 5 baffles theologians. There is no agreement on whether the “spirit” being referred to is that of God or of human beings or otherwise. The most likely explanation is that due to the context and Hebraic teaching style of the human writer (Yaakov), the two references to the teaching of the TaNaKh (OT) are intended to be a juxtaposition similar to the kal v’chomer (light and heavy: fortiori [Latin]) argument of Rabbinical scholars. If this is the correct understanding the first allusion is not to a specific Scripture but to the widely attested idea in Scripture that says the inclination of man’s spirit is always toward evil. Following this the direct quote from Scripture (Prov. 3:34) is a warning that those who are fuelled by pride and thus lust toward envy, will be scorned by God, Who will favour, show grace to those who humbly recognise their fallen state and are repentant.
I note that my understanding is similar to, or is at least further illuminated by the commentary of Rav Yechiel Tzvi Lichtenstein.
In reference to this widely misunderstood passage, Rav Yechiel Tzvi Lichtenstein—as quoted by David Stern in his Jewish New Testament Commentary—writes:
“The commentators have had great difficulty with this reference to the Tanakh. What verse is it? What does it mean? Who is the subject of it? Some say it speaks about God. Others say it speaks about the Holy Spirit. But according to all commentators, it is not found in the Scripture. In my opinion, the spirit it refers to is not God’s but Satan’s, as in Ep 6:12. The evil spirit is the evil impulse (yetzer ha-ra) in us. Yaakov refers to it in v. 7: ‘Take a stand against the Adversary and he will flee from you.’ Jews today still call Satan der ruach [Yiddish for “the spirit”; Lichtenstein was writing around 1900]. I believe Yaakov is referring to Genesis 4:7, where God says to Cain, ‘Sin lies at the door, and his desire shall be toward you, but you are to rule over him.’ This is understood by all to be speaking about Satan, who is the evil impulse in man; for example, in the Talmud (Bava batra 16a), ‘He is Satan the evil impulse.’ The evil impulse is used by satanic angels to cause man to sin.” (Commentary to the New Testament, ad loc.)
7 Therefore, submit, be obedient to (hupotassō[G]) God (ho Theos[G], Elohiym[H]). And now (de[G]) stand against, resist (anthistēmi[G]) the Devil, Slanderer, Accuser (ho diabolos[G], Ha Satan[H]) and he will flee (pheugō[G]) from you. 8 Draw near (eggizō[G]) to the God (ho Theos[G], Elohiym[H]) and He will draw near (eggizō[G]) to you cleansing (katharizō[G]) your hands (cheir[G], yedeiychem[H]), you sinful (hamartōlos[G]); and purifying (hagnizō[G]) your hearts (kardia[G], levavechem[H]), you double-minded/double spirited/divided in heart (dipsuchos[G], chalukeiy haleivav[H]).
7 Therefore, submit, be obedient to God. And now stand against, resist the Devil, Slanderer, Accuser and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to the God and He will draw near to you, cleansing your hands, you sinful; and purifying your hearts, you double-minded/double spirited/divided in heart.
Because “God opposes the arrogant/proud and gives grace—that is greater—to the humble,” we should submit to Him. If a child is certain of his father’s love for him, he will readily submit to his father’s will, knowing that his father has his best interests in mind. Submission is an act of humility, resisting ha-Satan is an act of humility. Therefore, resisting this world is loving God.
Whether Satan is synonymous with the yetzer ha-ra (evil inclination) as some ancient Jewish commentators claim or simply the motivator of it, the response is the same, it is an act of the will to resist him/it. This act can only be practiced as the fruit of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh, the Spirit of Mashiyach (Messiah) and of the Father God who lives in us, that’s why v. 6 says, “But the grace He gives is greater.” Don’t be fooled, this is not a fair conflict, Satan is the dust beneath a gnat’s foot floating in the infinite ocean of God’s creation. There is no balance here between good and evil, the scales are immeasurably weightier in favour of good, and God alone is good (Mk. 10:18; Lk. 18:19). God’s character is never described as fair, rather He is just. The battle we wage against the evil inclination is won only in Him. We take hold of the sword (word) which He authored, and it is His arm that strengthens the blow.
Picture yourself standing chest high in a great fresh water lake during a warm summer rain, draw the water to you lips, this is what it means to draw near to God. It is the realization that He is closer to you than breathing. That through Messiah you are in Him and sustained by Him.
We participate in relationship with Him. As I have said elsewhere, a husband cannot say “I will” on his wife’s behalf. The Scripture teaches God as the Originator of relationship and we as the participants in that relationship. All creation exists in relationship to God but only those who receive Him will continue to exist in right relationship in God.
“Turn us to You AdoShem, and we will return.” – Lamentations 5:21
Note the order that leads to resistance. First submit yourself to God and second, resist the Devil and he will flee from you. When plagued by repeated sin we should first ask ourselves, “Am I fully submitted to God in this area of my life?” Freedom from a certain repeated sin behaviour may be as simple as bringing that practice before the face of God.
We note that verse 8 is not saying “you cleanse your hands you sinful”, which would infer that the sinful one cleanses his own hands. Rather, the Greek text, devoid of any punctuation reads “He will draw near to you, cleansing your hands, you sinful; and purifying your hearts…” Notice that the nearest subject is God Who draws near, “He will draw near to you”. Thus the cleansing work is done by God when we receive His offer of right relationship. We note once again that submission to God gives us access to the strength needed to resist Satan (v.7). Devoid of the strength of God’s Spirit no one can resist Satan.
When we have humbly received God’s gift of salvation we participate with Him in the sanctification of our being.
We see that in the final clause the Hebrew text speaks of a “divided heart” being in need of God’s cleansing, purification etc. Yeshua reminds us that a kingdom divided cannot stand (Matt. 12:25). When in humility and submission to God we receive Messiah’s saving work and the gift of the Holy Spirit, God unifies our divided heart transforming our nature. “The old has gone, the new is come” (2 Cor. 5:17).
9 Be afflicted (talaipōresate[G], hitanu[H]), and mourn (pentheō[G], vehitab’lu[H]), and weep (klaiō[G], uvchu[H]); let your laughter be turned (metastrephō[G]) into sorrow (penthos[G], li’eivel[H]), and your joy (chara[G], vesimchatechem[H]) into heaviness/grief (katēpheia[G], leyagon[H]). 10 Humble yourselves (tapeinoō[G], hishaflu[H]) before the sight/face (enōpion[G], lifneiy[H]) of the Lord YHVH[H] (ho kurios[G]), and He will lift you up (hupsoō[G], yariym etchem[H]).
9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned into sorrow, and your joy into heaviness/grief. 10 Humble yourselves before the sight/face of the Lord YHVH, and He will lift you up.
The KJV notwithstanding, many English translations miss the importance of rendering the Greek talaiporesate “afflicted”. To opt for “be miserable” in place of “be afflicted” clouds the meaning, given that from a Biblical Jewish perspective “affliction” is synonymous with fasting (Lev. 23:26-27). Likewise, throughout Hebrew Scripture “mourning” is a euphemism for repentance. The Jewish believer reading or hearing this letter from Yaakov understands the euphemism immediately. He reads “Fast and mourn, and weep”. The Jewish believer understands this as a weighty admonishment that reflects the words of the Torah, the prophets and the writings (OT) and alludes in particular to Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the day on which Israel, individually and collectively seeks God’s mercy, humbling ourselves in fasting (affliction) and repentant (mourning) petitioning.
When we have humbled ourselves to receive God’s gift of salvation we act in accordance with humility and participate with God in the sanctification of our being.
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the acts of the yetzer ha-ra from before my eyes; cease to do evil and learn to do good; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, give favour to the fatherless, plead for the widow.” – Yeshayahu/Isaiah 1:16
“Who shall ascend into the mountain of AdoShem? Who shall stand in His Holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.” Tehillim/Psalm 24:4(3)
Realizing the reality of God, by the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit), we must make the choice of humility. He will lift us up, out of confusion and double mindedness and turn our mourning into dancing.
11 Do not speak evil (katalaleite[G], berei’eihu[H]) of one another (allēlōn[G]), Jewish brothers and sisters (adelphos[G], achay[H]). The one who speaks evil (katalaleite[G], et-rei’eihu[H]) of a Jewish brother or sister (adelphos[G], achay[H]), or passes judgement on (krinō[G], vedan[H]) his Jewish brother or sister, speaks against the Torah (ho nomos[G], ha Torah[H]) and passes judgement on (krinō[G], dan[H]) the Torah (ho nomos[G], ha Torah[H]); but if you pass judgement on (krinō[G], dan[H]) the Torah (ho nomos[G], ha Torah[H]), you are not a doer of the Torah (ho nomos[G], ha Torah[H]) but a judge over it (kritēs[G], danah[H]).
11 Do not speak evil of one another, Jewish brothers and sisters. The one who speaks evil of a Jewish brother or sister, or passes judgement on his Jewish brother or sister, speaks against the Torah and passes judgement on the Torah; but if you pass judgement on the Torah, you are not a doer of the Torah but a judge over it.
The English translation “Do not speak against one another” is an unfortunate mis-rendering of the Greek text and both contradicts the fulness of Scripture and misleads the English reader. The Greek katalaleite is used by the writer to convey “evil speech” and not simply “speech against”. This is consistent with the ancient Jewish understanding of lashon hara (evil speech). Slander for example is consider lashon hara, as is failing to rebuke evil, but rebuking the evil action of another is considered lashon hatov (good speech).
We must carefully define what “speaking evil against one another” means. Many misuse this passage to decry those who speak publicly against heretical leaders within the body of believers. This is not what the text is referring to, if it were what Yaakov intended he would be in direct opposition to the God inspired words of rebuke proclaimed publicly by the prophets and the public refutation of the Apostle Peter by Paul the Apostle (Gal. 2:11-14), among other examples in Scripture. Yaakov is not saying we should not challenge the sin of other believers, privately or publicly. After all, the progression of Yeshua’s teaching on how to approach sin and apostasy in a fellow believer is their public admonishment before the body of believers (Matt. 18:15-17). We add to this the numerous teachings of the Scriptures that call us to discerning between and the need for the correction of fellow believers who are walking in sin (Lev. 19:17; Prov. 10:17; Luke 17:3-4; Gal. 6:1; 1 Cor. 5:1-13; Titus 3:10-11; 1 Tim. 5:20; 2 Tim. 4:2; 2 Thess. 3:15; Rom. 16:17).
Therefore, “Do not speak evil of one another” is the correct translation. Meaning, don’t falsely accuse one another, don’t bear false witness against one another, don’t slander one another etc.
With regard to “judging” a brother and sister the meaning is similarly miscommunicated by some. Scripture clearly teaches that it is right to judge, access, discern the actions of others. Once again, were it not so the prophets of God, the Apostles and Yeshua Himself could be seen to have sinned by doing that very thing. It is not judgement that is being spoken against but false judgement and sitting in the seat of ultimate judgement (dan[H]) over a brother or sister. We are not God and therefore should not presume to be the ultimate judge of any one, however, we are consistently admonished by Scripture and the King Messiah to make right judgements.
When we make it our goal to pass judgement on other believers we sin. On the other hand, making a right judgment of the spiritual battle surrounding wrong action affords us the opportunity to come alongside and redirect a brother or sister, Yaakov addresses this at the end of his letter.
Where there is no other qualifying language or comparative usage, and when the definite article is used, the Greek “nomos”, specifically “ho nomos” refers to the Torah of Moses. That is the case in verse 11.
The judgment spoken of here is a judgment of punitive motivation, a judgment that seeks to see others ridiculed and made slaves once more. When we pass judgement on others based on the very Torah we ourselves break we come under judgment, rather than living within the Judge. How often we sit in judgment of the Torah itself, critiquing it and tearing it apart. Ironically, it critiques us and finds us wanting.
12 There is One (heis[G], echad[H]) Who is the Lawgiver (ho nomothetēs[G], ham’chokeik[H]) and Judge (kritēs[G],vehashofeit[H]), the One Who is able to save completely (sōzō[G], yachol lehoshiya[H]) and to destroy fully (apollumi[G], ul’abeid[H]); but who are you, to put judgment on trial (krinon krineis[G], tadiyn[H]) concerning your neighbour (plēsion[G])?
12 There is One Who is the Lawgiver and Judge, the One Who is able to save completely and to destroy fully; but who are you, to put judgment on trial concerning your neighbour?
We note that neither the Greek or Hebrew texts understand “Lawgiver” as referring to the act of giving Torah alone but to the giving of all just law. If the Torah alone were being referred to the Jewish recipients might rightly misinterpret this to be a reference to Moses, it is most certainly not. It is of course a reference to YHVH, the Lawgiver.
“For the YHVH is our judge (shofteinu[H]), the YHVH is our lawgiver (m’chokekeinu[H]), the YHVH is our king (Malkeinu[H]); He will save us.” -Yishayahu (Isaiah)
The translation “who are you to judge your neighbour” hides the emphasis of the Greek text which reads “krinon krineis”, essentially meaning “hold a trial for judgement” or “put judgement on trial”. In short, “devoid of humility, who are you to presume what God’s judgement of a matter is?”
13 Lead, go to, (age[G]) now (nun[G]), you who say, “Today or tomorrow (hayom umachar[H]) we’ll go (poreuomai[G]) to such and such a city (polis[G]), and spend (poieō[G]) a year (eniautos[G]) there and buy and sell (emporeuomai[G], vena’aseh-sham shanah achat[H]) and make a profit (kerdainō[G]).” 14 Yet you do not know (epistamai[G], teid’u[H]) what will happen tomorrow (aurion[G], yom machar[H]). For your life (zōē[G], chayeiychem[H]) is a vapor, a mist, smoke (atmis[G], ashan[H]) that appears, is seen (phainō[G]) for a short time, gone in a moment (oligos[G], kim’at-rega[H]), and then is corrupted, disfigured, vanishes, perishes, Heb. then its canopy will depart (aphanizō[G], kalah vayilach[H]). 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord YHVH[H] (ho Kurios[G]) wills (thelō[G]), we will live (zaō[G]) and also do (na’aseh[H]) this or that.”
13 Lead, go to, now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we’ll go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and buy and sell and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For your life is a vapor, a mist, smoke that appears, is seen for a short time, gone in a moment, and then is corrupted, disfigured, vanishes, perishes, Heb. then its canopy will depart. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord YHVH wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
Some see a big jump in the subject matter here, suggesting that perhaps Yaakov has changed his audience and is speaking to traveling traders outside the synagogue. However the subject here is no different from the previous paragraphs. Yaakov continues to juxtapose humility
and pride, the prideful merchant boasts and is motivated by financial gain, the humble
merchant trusts HaShem and is motivated by godly vocation.
“Don’t boast about tomorrow; for you don’t know what a day may bring forth.” -Proverbs 27:1
The ancient Jewish writer Ben Syra had a saying:
“let a man never say he will do anything, before he first says, ‘if HaShem (YHVH) wills’” -Ben Syra Sentent. 11.
16 But as it is, you rejoice, glory, boast, praise (kauchaomai[G], tithalalu[H]) in your pride, arrogance (alazoneia[G]); all such boasting, praising (kauchēsis[G], vechol-tehilah[H]) is evil, wicked (ponēros[G]). 17 Therefore (oun[G]), the one who sees, perceives, knows (eidō[G], hayodeia[H]) to do (poieō[G], la’asot[H]) the good (kalos[G], hatov[H]) and does not, he does sin, evil, misses the mark set by God’s holiness (hamartia[G], ya’asenu cheit[H]).
16 But as it is, you rejoice, glory, boast, praise in your pride, arrogance; all such boasting, praising is evil, wicked. 17 Therefore, the one who sees, perceives, knows to do the good and does not, he does sin, evil, misses the mark set by God’s holiness.
Essentially what’s being said is that certain ones among Yaakov’s fellow Jewish believers in the Diaspora were syncretising the worship of God with the worship of business acumen and material success. The success of this world had become an idol that had taken their focus off YHVH. Yaakov rebukes them and says “Instead of making your material success the goal, subjugate your plans to God and place the honour for all that you have and are at the feet of the Creator in Messiah.
© 2022 Yaakov Brown
The oppression of others is born of the oppression of self. Apostasy and rebellion against God results when we forget our value in His eyes.
After addressing the hypocrisy of Israel’s fasting, Isaiah 58 ends with the hope and heritage of Jacob (Israel) illuminated through repentance and redemption. Now the prophet Isaiah begins an additional rebuke concerning the root of Israel’s sin and the resulting separation which Israel has manufactured between herself and HaShem. Thus, the prophetic rhythm of promised Salvation followed by sober rebuke continues the cyclical message of God’s mercy toward Israel preceding His judgement of her. The ultimate result being everlasting life.
59:1 Hein Behold, now, pay attention, lo-katzerah not shortened (small) yad-YHVH is the hand (strength) of HaShem (Mercy) meihoshia from saving ve'lo kavedah and not dull azeno is His ear mishemoa from hearing.
The sense here is that Israel might be wondering why she is not delivered already, given her attention to fasting (albeit hypocritical), and her vain assent to the Torah Instruction of HaShem. Thus, the reminder that God is more than able, and even willing to save, more than able and even willing to hear (Isa.58:3). Therefore, there is another reason for Israel’s predicament.
The Targum puts it beautifully:
“Behold, it is not on account of any deficiency in the power of the Lord that ye are not saved; nor because it is too difficult for Him to hear, that your prayer is not received:” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“And we find (viz.Sanhedrin 98a) that in the days of R. Yehoshua ben Levi he was told (viz. Tehillim 95:6) that the Messiah would come ‘today, if you hearkened to His voice’ — even though the time of the exile decreed for Israel (one thousand years, corresponding to the one thousand year "day" of the Holy One Blessed be He, had not yet passed [viz. Chida, Petach Eiynayim, Sanhedrin, Ibid.])” -Chofetz Chaim Preface 4
59:2 kiy For im-avonoteiychem with your perversity, depravity, hayu has come mavdiliym dividings, separations beineichem among you levein between you and Eloheiychem your God vechatoteiychem and your sins histiyru have hidden His paniym face (faces) from you mikem so as mishemoa not to hear.
“But your iniquities separate between you and your God, and your sins have caused Him to take away the favour of His Shekinah from you, not to receive your prayer.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
We note that the perversity of Israel has produced the fruit of separations and divisions between them and God. Thus, the manifestation of division in their social order is evidence of the separation they have made between them and God in the spiritual order. We note further that the sins of Israel have caused God to appear hidden from them, likewise the appearance that He has not heard them. Therefore, although God is all powerful they have refused to receive His power, and although He is all knowing (hearing), it is they who have blocked their ears to His voice.
“Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall.” -Ezekiel 18:30 (NIV)
“In those days people will no longer say,
‘The parents have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’
Instead, everyone will die for their own sin;
whoever eats sour grapes--
their own teeth will be set on edge.” -Jeremiah 31:29-30 (NIV)
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Messiah Yeshua.” -Romans 3:23-24
59:3 Kiy For chapeiychem your palms (hands) negoalu are defiled, polluted, desecrated vadam in blood ve'etzbeoteiychem and your fingers beavon in perversity, depravity siftoteiychem your lips, language, diberu-sheker have spoken lies leshonchem your tongue avlah tehgeh plots injustice.
Figuratively speaking the hands denote actions, the fingers accusation, the lips and language sedition.
We note that the palms of the hands are defiled with blood. This denotes contemplation of the aftermath of sinful action. Sins of blood are for the most part capital offenses (according to the Torah): murder, abortion etc. They must be atoned for in blood.
It is interesting to note that the Talmud explains each element in correlation with the several roles of a court of justice; the ‘hands’ are the judges; the ‘fingers’ of, the Scribes; the ‘lips’ are advocates and solicitors; and the ‘tongue’ is the adversaries, or the contending parties. (T. Bab. Sabbat. fol. 139. 1.)
Given the obvious correlation between the present passage and the adjudicators of Israel, it is safe to say that Israel’s rulers, judges and Torah scribes are in part, leading Israel in the sins for which she is to be held accountable.
59:4 Eiyn-korei None call out ve'tzedek in righteousness ve'eiyn and none nishpat judges be'emunah in faithfulness; batoach they trust al-tohu upon formless vanity ve'daver-shav and speak empty falsehood haro conceiving amal trouble veholeiyd bringing forth aven wickedness.
“There is none that truly prays, nor any that pleads for faithfulness: they trust in vanity and speak lies; they hasten, and bring forth words of violence out of their heart.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The judicial issues alluded to implicitly in the former verse are now illuminated in the present verse. In a God honouring society righteousness, just judgement, faithfulness, order and truth are essential. In Israel at this time the opposite forces of unrighteousness, unjust judgement, infidelity, disorder, and lies were made manifest as a result of Israel’s rejection of relationship with her God YHVH.
There is a progression of the breaking down of moral society in this verse. A lack of righteousness is at the root of Israel’s problem. Not human righteousness but rather the righteousness that comes from God and is imparted to human beings through blood atonement and redemption. Israel has turned her heart away from HaShem, and as a result the heart of HaShem is unknown to her, in spite of her pious performance. Therefore, no one calls from a righteous inner being and as a result no one judges faithfully. It is of course impossible for someone who has chosen to trust in themselves to act out of the faithfulness of God, rather it is from their fallen nature of unfaithfulness that they judge.
Rather than trusting in HaShem Israel had chosen to trust in “tohu” empty, formless things. This is a figurative reference to idolatry and a reference to the formless void that preceded the creation of the earth (Genesis 1). It is important to note that the uncreated light precedes the created darkness and emptiness of the Genesis account. Further, truth and light are emanations (attributes) of the Creator, and therefore, are not subject to the created order. Whereas, emptiness, vanity and darkness are subject to the created order.
As a result of trusting in false gods Israel bears the fruit of lying lips and her thoughts conceive mischief which results in wickedness.
Therefore, the root causes of unrighteousness and rebellion (idolatry) are wreaking havoc on Israel (Judah) during the reign of Manasseh (lifetime of Isaiah). These are the things Israel had chosen for herself.
59:5 Beiytzeiy Eggs tzifoniy of a poisonous serpent bikeiu they hatch vekureiy and a web akaviysh of a spider ye'erogu they weave: haocheil the eating mibeiytzeiyhem of their eggs yamut has killed vehazureh and the crushed eggs tibaka break open revealing efeh snakes.
The serpent is associated to sin and the demonic forces that seek to ensnare humanity. It is also literally connected to plague (Numbers 21) and the death of the serpent is figurative of an end to sin and death (Numbers 21:8-9; Genesis 3:14-15; Revelation 12:9; 20:2, 10). Israel is said to be enabling the hatchlings of serpents. It is in the perfect tense meaning that it has and continues to be happening in her midst. Therefore, the poison of evil has been invited and has become invasive.
The web of a spider is a snare for its prey. It is also easily torn apart by larger animals and human beings. Therefore, what idolatrous Israel intends as a snare for others will be easily torn apart by the hand of God.
The figurative consumption of the eggs, poisons the inner person and any attempt to crush them results in the birth of more poisonous snakes that in turn lay eggs and perpetuate the cycle of evil in the midst of the people.
59:6 Kureiyhem Their webs lo-yihyu don’t become leveged garments (deceit) velo yitkasu and don't cover be'ma'aseiyhem over their works ma'aseiyhem after works: ma'aseiy-aven works of wickedness ufoal and the deed chamas of violence, cruelty bechapeiyhem is on their palms (hands).
“Behold, like a spider's web, with which no one can be covered, thus there is no profit from the works of the wicked; their works are the works of violence, and the work of a lie is in their hands.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
A spiders web is unsuitable for use as a garment. It is full of holes, therefore, not cover the naked body. Nor is it a suitable shelter from poor weather. Therefore, figuratively speaking it is not able to cover the many wicked works of apostate Israel.
Ultimately this refers back to idolatrous Israel’s blood guilt and the consequence of it, which is death.
59:7 Ragleiyhem Their feet la'ra to evil yarutzu have run viymaharu and make haste lishpoch to shed dam nakiy innocent blood machshevoteiyhem their thoughts machshevot are thoughts aven of wickedness, shod havoc vashever and crushing bimsilotam is in their raised roads.
Not only is Israel guilty of the most heinous of physical sins against her fellow man (bloodletting, murder), she is chasing after opportunities to murder the innocent. In addition her thoughts are focused on plotting wicked acts and the result is that any metaphorical roads she might build become the paths that lead to her own destruction.
“Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.” -Romans 3:15-17 (NIV)
59:8 Derech A way shalom of peace, wholeness, wellbeing lo yadau they don't know ve'eiyn mishpat and no judgement, justice; bemagelotam their tracks netivoteihem trodden with their feet ikeshu are crooked lehem they kol dorech all lead to lo yada shalom no knowledge of peace, wholeness, wellbeing.
Rebellious Israel don’t know the way of peace and wholeness because they have rejected Peace Himself (HaShem). Therefore, they lack judgement and justice as a society. As a consequence of Israel’s lack of peace she treads crooked paths (idolatrous ways), all of which promise peace (spiritual enlightenment, prosperity etc.) but offer none. Thus, idolatrous Israel have no knowledge of Peace Himself.
59:9 Al-kein And truly therefore, rachak we have become far mishpat from justice mimenu as a result ve’lo and nor tasigeinu tzedakah does righteousness overtake us; nekaveh hoping expectantly we look la'or to the light (uncreated) ve'hinei-choshech and behold, pay attention, darkness (created) lingohot to brightness ba'afeilot in gloom nehaleich we walk.
We note that the language usage changes adopting the pronoun “we”. Therefore, the speakers in verse 9 through 13 are those who have soberly accessed the state of Israel in light of God’s Torah Instruction (and by the Word of the Prophets), and have found their people wanting. This is the righteous remnant, who, like the prophets, confess on behalf of their entire nation. The tragic conclusion of their observation bringing heart break to their souls.
“And truly therefore” means, because of our perversity and depravity, and our separating ourselves from God (v.2). Due to the blood on our hands, our mistreatment of our neighbours (pointing of the finger), our lying lips and our plotting wickedness (v.3). In light of the fact that we don’t demand righteousness or judge fairly, and trust in vain idolatry, speaking falsehood and acting wickedly as a result (v.4). Because we release the demonic and clothe ourselves with the worthless covering of the weak traps we set for others (v.5). Due to the fact that we multiply the work of our depravity and continue to do violence to others (v.6). In light of the fact that we run toward evil and rush to shed innocent blood, and that our thoughts are constantly set on perversity as we pursue paths that will crush us under the weight of our own sin (v.7). Finally, because we do not know a way of peace, wholeness and wellbeing, nor do we know Peace Himself (HaShem YHVH, Sar Shalom, The Prince of Peace [King Messiah]): there is no justice and we tread out tracks of unrepentant evil action, ruts that all lead to us having no knowledge of the way of peace (v.8). Thus, we have moved ourselves far from justice, nor does righteousness come to us and surpass us (v.9).
“Hoping expectantly we look to the light and behold, pay attention, darkness to brightness, in gloom we walk.” Idolatrous Israel had wandered so far from God through her own false belief, thoughts and actions, that when she looked for the light (of God) she was unable to see Him, and when she so desperately needed for the path to be lit up, instead it was gloomy, oppressing her steps. All this being self-inflicted blindness, wilful sin, self-destruction. Israel is treasured by Hashem, she has unfathomable worth to Him, and yet she had become blind to her worth through the defiling of herself, and had forgotten the Creator Who alone is able to redeem, sanctify and restore her.
59:10 Negashah We grope, feeling with the hand chaivriym like blind ones kir for a wall uche'eiyn and like those having no eiynayim eyes; negasheishah we grope, feeling with the hand kashalnu we stumble vatzohorayim in the midday kaneshef as if it were twilight ba'ashmaniym in desolation kameitiym as in places of death.
The confession of the righteous remnant continues.
“We grope, feeling with the hand like blind ones for a wall” Such is Idolatrous Israel’s spiritual blindness that she is unable to find a wall against which to steady herself. Instead she gropes about in useless grasping attempts for even the slightest possibility of touching something secure.
“like those having no eyes” This is a reference to Israel’s spiritual state of blindness. Though they have eyes (the potential to see), none the less, they do not see.
“we stumble in the midday as if it were twilight” Like the former simile, the meaning is that while it should be easy, even normal for them to see and walk upright, none the less they stumble.
“in desolation as in places of death” Ultimately all sin leads to the desolation and domain of death.
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” -Romans 5:12 (NKJV)
59:11 Nehemeh We growl kadubiym like bears kulanu all of us vechayoniym and like doves hagoh mourning nehgeh murmuring nekaveh we wait, looking with expectant hope lamishpat for judgement va'ayin and there is none, liyshua for salvation rachakah is far off mimenu on account of us.
“We all roar like bears by reason of our enemies, who are gathered against us, and mourn like doves: we hoped for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far removed from us.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
Both the growling of bears and the murmuring of doves are responses born of the expectation of something they long for. In the case of Israel they are longing for deliverance from their self-imposed desolation, and quite literally from the approaching Babylonian captivity.
“looking with expectant hope for judgement and there is none, for salvation is far off on account of us.” Idolatrous Israel hopes for a judgement in her favour but none comes. Why? Because God is just and Israel’s just recompense at this point in her history is desolation.
We note that “Salvation is far off on account of us.” Therefore, the righteous remnant recognise that Israel has caused her own demise. However, Salvation may seem far off but He is coming to her, not because Israel deserves salvation but because HaShem, Who gave her worth, is willing to suffer for and redeem her.
59:12 Kiy For rabu great, abundant feshaeiynu are our rebellions negdecha which are conspicuously in front of You vechatoteiynu and our sins anetah testify banu against us kiy-feshaeiynu for our rebellions itanu are with us va'avonoteiynu and our perversity yeda'anum we know.
The confession of the righteous remnant unreservedly acknowledges the guilt of the people. In the midst of Israel’s debauchery, as is still the case today, there is a righteous, God fearing remnant who cry out in confession and repentance on behalf of the people of Israel.
Neither the righteous remnant nor the people in general can deny the conspicuous nature of their individual and national sin. We note again that the root “pesha” meaning rebellion, the root “chat” meaning sin, and the root “avon”, meaning perversity, cover the full gambit of sin born of rebellion, idolatry, witchcraft.
“Our perversity we know” is in stark contrast to “A way shalom of peace, wholeness, wellbeing they don't know”.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” -1 John 1:9 (NKJV)
59:13 Pashoa Rebelling vechachesh and lying ba'YHVH against HaShem (Mercy) ve'nasog and sliding backward meiachar from Eloheiynu our God daber-oshek speaking oppression vesarah and defection (apostasy) horo conceiving vehogo and murmuring (meditating) meleiv from the inner person (heart, core being) divreiy-shaker words of falsehood.
“We have rebelled, and acted falsely against the Word of the Lord; we have turned backward from following after the worship of our God; we have spoken falsehood and apostasy, hastening and bringing forth from their hearts lying words.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“Rebelling and lying against HaShem (Mercy) and sliding backward from our God” The tragic irony of rebelling against Mercy and turning away from the Judge that might acquit them, is not lost on Isaiah or the faithful remnant. We notice again that it is the sin of rebellion (idolatry, witchcraft) that is at the root of Israel’s lying against HaShem. Many today persist in trying to convince themselves of God’s demise, and thus turn their backs on their own redemption.
“speaking oppression and defection (apostasy)” The oppression of others is born of the oppression of self. Apostasy and rebellion against God results when we forget our value in His eyes.
“conceiving and murmuring from the inner person words of falsehood.” When the heart is dark the mouth is dark. Clean water cannot be drawn from a polluted well.
59:14 Vehusag And sliding backward achor to the rear mishpat justice utzedakah and righteousness meirachok are far off ta'amod standing, remaining: kiy chashelah varechov emet for the truth has stumbled in the open plaza unechochah and straightness, equity lo-tuchal doesn't prevail lavo to enter.
Here justice, righteousness, truth and equity are personified as forgotten (to the rear), distant (far off), stumbling in public (open plaza), and unable to enter the city (doesn’t prevail to enter). This of course is not because these personifications of the emanations of God’s character are unable to remain present, affecting transformation; rather it is because Israel had refused them a. prominence (to the rear), b. welcome (far off), c. honour (open plaza), d. entry (doesn’t prevail to enter). God forces Himself on no person. Without freewill love cannot exist.
59:15 Vatehiy And it has come about that haemet the truth nederet is lacking vesar and departed mara from evil mishtolel like prey: vayar YHVH and HaShem sees vayera and it is evil be'eiynav in His eyes kiy-eiyn for it is not mishpat justice.
Truth has not “failed” as some English translations so foolishly render the text. To the contrary, Truth is available but it is lacking because Israel is lacking. It has departed because Israel has departed from it. Truth is an attribute of God’s character, it never fails because He never fails.
HaShem is fully aware (He sees) of the injustice and evil that reigns in the hearts of the apostate Israelites.
59:16 Vayar And He saw kiy-eiyn iysh there was no man (one, person) vayishtomeim and was appalled kiy eiyn for there was no mafgiya intercessor vatusha or salvation lo zero'o therefore, with His own arm vetzidkato and His righteousness hiy He semachatehu upheld it.
“He saw there was no man (one, person) and was appalled for there was no intercessor or salvation” Simply put, no human being is righteous of themselves, nor is there anyone who qualifies to save another. God alone saves.
“Do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
For in Your sight no one living is righteous.” -Psalm 143:2 (NKJV)
“Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous,
no one who does what is right and never sins.” - Ecclesiastes 7:20 (NIV)
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” -Romans 3:23 (NKJV)
Rav Shaul (Paul the Apostle) appears to be making a drash on Isaiah 59 when he combines passages from the Tanakh (OT) to say:
“As it is written,
The Babylonian Talmud interprets this latter clause of the King Messiah, Who will come in an age when there are none but wicked men (T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 98. 1.)
59:17 Vayilbash And He clothed Himself tzedakah with righteousness kashiryan as a breastplate vechova yeshuah and salvation as a helmet be'rosho on His head vayilbash and put on bigdeiy garments nakam of vengeance tilboshet vayat and wrapped Himself in raiment kamiyl as a robe kinah of zeal, jealousy.
“It is revealed, that He will work a great salvation for His people, yea, He will render vengeance to His enemies.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
There is a foundational correlation here between the present verse and the armour of God of Ephesians 6:10-18:
“10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you are able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the worldly forces of this darkness, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist when the times are evil, and after you have done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm then! Buckle the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 Strap up your feet in readiness with the Good News of shalom. 16 Above all, take up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray in the Ruach on every occasion, with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, keep alert with perseverance and supplication for all the kedoshim.” (TLV)
To have the armour of God placed upon us is to be clothed with the nature of the King Messiah: it is to be clothed with the nature of God with us. The armour of God is not the invention of Greco-Roman thought, rather it is firmly rooted in the present text of Isaiah.
When we are endowed with the armour of God we are invested with the zeal and jealousy of God for His people and His redemptive purposes for humanity. The breastplate of righteousness protects our inner person (leiv) and the helmet of Salvation (Yeshua) guards our minds and reminds us that our salvation is secure outside of time and space and cannot be compromised because it is entirely reliant on God. We are wrapped in vengeance against the forces of darkness and their resulting sin, and we are robed with zeal for the kingdom of God.
“He clothed Himself with righteousness as a breastplate” The previous verse explains how and by what means HaShem will uphold salvation for His people. Now HaShem Himself is pictured wearing righteousness as a breastplate. He is going to war for the salvation of His people Israel (and in turn for the nations). Of course, this is a description of both the Father and the Son, our King Messiah.
“And I saw the heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and he that sat thereon called Faithful and True; and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.” -Revelation 19:11 (ASV)
“Salvation as a helmet on His head” The head “rosh” is the ruler of the body and the origin of thought (But not of consciousness). HaShem need not wear either the breastplate or the helmet for protection, rather they are symbolic representations of His character. The protection is for us. Therefore, we don the nature of HaShem through Messiah and are prepared for spiritual war in the present sin affected age.
“and put on garments of vengeance and wrapped Himself in raiment as a robe of zeal, jealousy.” We note that His righteousness and salvation come with vengeance against the adversary (Satan) and the demonic forces, against sin and its defiling work, against the wilfully wicked and perpetually rebellious sons and daughters of the evil one. This is a war for the redemption of His people, He is jealous for Israel, just as He is jealous for all who would turn to Him in repentance and receive His redemption, love, mercy, and the grace born of His Holiness.
“And he is arrayed in a garment sprinkled with blood: and his name is called The Word of God.” -Revelation 19:13 (ASV)
59:18 Ke'al According to gemulot their deeds ke'al so yeshalem He will fully repay (through a covenant of peace) chemah rage letzarav to His adversaries, gemul recompense leoyevayv to His enemies, laiyim to the islands (of the Mediterranean) gemul recompense yeshalem in full (through a covenant of peace).
The peace that had eluded apostate Israel (v.8) is now the mechanism by which judgement comes against the enemies of God both foreign and domestic. The indictment against evil widens to include the Islands of the Mediterranean and in a figurative sense, it includes all who do evil.
59:19 Veyireu And they will fear mima'arav from the west et-sheim the Name YHVH HaShem (Mercy) umimizrach-shemesh and from the eastern sun et-kevodo His glory kiy-yavo for it will come to pass chanahar when like a river tzar the adversary comes, Ruach YHVH the Spirit of HaShem nosesah will raise a sign against him (will cause him to flee).
“They shall fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun. When the oppressors shall come in like an inundation of the river Euphrates, they shall be broken by the Word of the Lord.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE).
“they will fear from the west the Name YHVH HaShem (Mercy) and from the eastern sun His glory” The western nations will fear and be in awe of the Person of HaShem, His nature, character, redemptive purposes etc. The eastern nations will fear the manifestation of His glory and power.
“for it will come to pass when like a river the adversary comes, Ruach YHVH the Spirit of HaShem will raise a sign against him (will cause him to flee).” This verse has found partial fulfilment on many occasions in Israel’s history, and the Targum supports the idea of a physical enemy from the east being defeated in latter times: something that the Revelation also describes. However, its greatest fulfilment has both come and is yet to come. The ultimate enemy of Israel is not the united anti-Semitic nations of the earth, rather the greatest enemy of Israel is Ha-Satan and the fallen nature of the human soul. Therefore, the “nes” miracle, sign, wonder that HaShem has and will raise up by His Spirit: was, is and will be the King Messiah Yeshua, His vicarious sacrificial death and resurrection through which Israel finds atonement, redemption, salvation and restoration, resulting in everlasting life.
“This verse is in perfect harmony with the prophecy, And there shall be a time of trouble such as never was, etc. (Dan. 12:1). At that time Israel alone will be saved; therefore this verse is followed by the words, And the Redeemer shall come to Zion.” -Iben Ezra
59:20 Uva And will come letziyon to Zion (parched land) Goel a Redeemer uleshaveiy and will turn back fesha the rebellion beyaakov in Jacob (follower) neum declares YHVH HaShem (Mercy).
“And will come letziyon to Zion (parched land) Goel a Redeemer (Kinsman)” We note that the Redeemer will come to Zion, that is Israel (ethnic, religious), the Jewish people.
“This is the Messiah” -Iben Ezra
“For I am not ashamed of the good proclamation, message, news of Messiah, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first perpetually and also perpetually for the Goyim (nations).” -Romans 1:16
“and will turn back the rebellion in Jacob (follower) declares YHVH HaShem (Mercy).” Such will be the power of the Redeemer’s actions, that through Him God will transform the hearts and minds of the Jewish people (Jacob, Israel). So much so that they will turn back from evil, turn back toward HaShem, turn away from the very root of sin itself (rebellion against God) and turn toward Mercy Himself YHVH through the Redeemer, the King Messiah Yeshua.
“’Unto them that turn from transgression.’ Every one that shall be found written in the book (Dan. 12:1)” -Iben Ezra
59:21 Va'aniy And I zot beriytiy this is My covenant otam with them amar says YHVH HaShem Ruachiy My Spirit asher Who aleycha is upon you udevaray and My words asher which samtiy I have put befiycha in your mouth lo-yamushu will not depart mipiycha from your mouth umipiy nor out of the mouth zaracha of your seed umipiy nor out of the mouth zera zaracha of your seed's seed amar says YHVH HaShem, meiatah from now ve'ad-olam and as far as forever, in a world perpetual.
“And I this is My covenant with them says YHVH HaShem” (Romans 11:27) This covenant (bloodshed, cutting) is of God alone. His blood will bind and sustain the covenant.
“My Spirit Who is upon you and My words which I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth nor out of the mouth of your seed nor out of the mouth of your seed's seed says YHVH HaShem, from now and as far as forever, in a world perpetual.” The Living Word our King Messiah will, by the Spirit of Hashem, come and indwell the redeemed people of Israel and His life will be passed on from generation to generation. This began at Shavuot (Pentecost) 33 CE (AD) and has continued through the redeemed Messianic remnant of Israel to this day as is testified to in my own life according to the passing on of Messianic Jewish faith by my forebears. This will find its ultimate fulfilment in the salvation of the entire remnant of Israel following the fullness of the nations at the end of this age (Romans 11:25-26), and will be sustained forever perpetually through Messiah in Olam Haba (the world to come).
Copyright Yaakov Brown 2019
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,