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
In the sense that God is in control of all things and that He allows but is not subject to free will, the phrase “You make us wander” is accurate. It is in fact in our wandering that we discover the need for direction.
Isa 63:1 Miy zeh Who is this ba Who comes mei’edom from Edom (red), chamutz in leavened, fermented, dyed crimson begadiym garments mibatzrah from Bozrah (sheepfold), zeh hadur this One Who is splendid, honourable, glorious, majestic bilvusho in His clothing, tzo’eh stooping berov in the greatness kocho of His strength? “Aniy It is I, me’dabeir speaking bitzdakah in righteousness, rav mighty lehoshiya to save.”
There are a number of reasons we understand the speaker in verse 1 to be HaShem, and by extension the Servant King Messiah. First, chapter 62:11 speaks of Salvation the Person (Yeshua) coming to deliver Israel (Zion, Jerusalem), following which the prophet speaks of the redeemed people of Zion and the titles by which the redeemed city of Jerusalem will be described. Therefore, the One described in verse 1 of Isaiah 63 must be the Salvation that comes in 62:11, bringing reward and recompense (just vengeance). Second, only God Himself is capable of truly saving Israel, which alerts us again to the intrinsic connection between the Servant Redeemer, Who is Salvation, and HaShem. In fact, the Salvation personified in the previous chapter is that of God Himself coming as God with us, the King Messiah. He comes with reward for the redeemed and recompense for the wicked.
“Some refer this to Messiah, others to the angel Michael; but more correctly it may be referred to God.” -Iben Ezra
A number of Jewish commentators, both ancient and modern, interpret this portion of Isaiah as referring to the Messiah, specifically in relation to what they understand as His first (only) coming. They also understand Edom as being figurative of Rome, given that the political and physical end of the Edomites actually occured during the Maccabean period (167-160 BCE), when the Edomites were conquered and forced into conversion to Judaism. Following this their land became nothing more than a desert wasteland.
When the King Messiah shall come, he will be clothed in purple, beautiful to look at, which in colour shall be like to wine for the clothing of the King Messiah shall be silk, red as blood; and it shall be worked with the needle in various colours, and he shall be the Head of Israel; and this is what is said in Isa. 63:3 ‘wherefore art thou red in thy apparel?’'' - R. Moses Haddarsan in Bereshit Rabba in Gen. xlix. 11.
“the Ishmaelites or Turks shall fight three battles in the latter day; one in the forest of Arabia; another in the sea; and a third in the great city Rome, which shall be greater than the other two; and from thence shall spring the Messiah, and he shall look upon the destruction of the one and of the other, and from thence shall he come into the land of Israel, as it is said, ‘who is this that comes from Edom?’” - Pirke Eliezer, c. 30. fol. 32. 1.
“the Ishmaelites or Turks shall come against Rome, and destroy it; and then shall be revealed the Messiah, the son of David, and shall complete the redemption of the Lord, according to Dan 12:1 … the son of David, shall be of the Jews that are in the captivity of Edom (or Rome), Isa. 63:1 ‘who is this that comes from Edom?’” – Abarbinel; Mashmiah Yeshuah, fol. 44. 1, 2.
Also the Jewish commentator Kimchi interprets the present verse as prophetic of the time to come (Messianic age). However, although it is true that the King Messiah is intended, the present text relates to His second coming, and not to any current historical event or to His ascension to heaven, after his death and resurrection; which took place in Judea, and on the Mount Olives, near to Jerusalem (not in or from Edom, which is south east of Jerusalem). Therefore, the present text finds its greater fulfilment yet future, when Messiah returns to take vengeance on the anti-messiah, and all the anti-messianic powers (empire of the Beast).
Edom, while being a brother nation to Israel, also symbolises pagan opposition toward God and Israel (Chosen, ethnic, religious) [Isa.34:5; Jer.25:22; 49:17].
Bozrah was once a strong city in Edom on the shore of the Sea of Salt (Dead Sea). Edom is another name for Esau (Gen. 36:8), and comes from the root adom (red), thus, blood stains or wine juice, the blood of grapes. Bozrah, meaning sheepfold, is related to the Hebrew bazir “a vintage” and is therefore an interesting poetic allusion within the wider narrative of Isaiah 63.
Yet another Jewish commentator Yarchi interprets the garments of the One coming from Edom as being dyed in blood, or dipped in it; which agrees with the vesture od Messiah as described in the Revelation:
“On His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘King of kings, and Lord of lords.’ Then I saw a single angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he cried out to all the birds flying high in the sky, ‘Come, gather for the great banquet of God--18 to eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of generals and the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and those riding on them, the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great!’” -Revelation 19:16-18 (TLV)
Ultimately the King Messiah will return as the warring Mashiyach Ben David, coming with reward for the righteous and bringing judgement upon the wicked:
“These kings are of one mind, and they give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them—because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with Him are called and chosen and faithful.” -Revelation 17:13-14 (TLV)
Isa 63:2 Madua Why adom lilvushecha is your clothing red, uve’gadeycha and your garments kedoreich be’gat like one who treads in the winepress?
As alluded to previously, adom and edom are easily related and convey the extent of the punishment of the wicked who oppose God and His purposes for redeeming Israel. The treading of the winepress and the act of harvesting are figurative Biblical pictures of judgement against the wicked (Joel 3:13; Isa. 63:2-3; Rev. 14:19).
Isa 63:3 “Purah darachtiy levadiy The winepress I have trodden alone, umei’amiym and from the tribes eiyn-iysh no man (one) itiy with me; ve’edrecheim I trod on them be’apiy in My anger ve’ermeseim and trampled them bachamatiy in My rage; ve’yeiz nitzcham their lifeblood spattered al-begaday on my garments, vechol-malbushay and all My attire egaletiy I will stain.
Both the literal and figurative judgements that God executes over Edom are His doing alone accomplished without the assistance of anyone from among the tribes of Israel (with the exception of Yeshua of course).
He treads on Edom, the enemies of God and of His chosen people Israel. The wine press is a wine press of wrath, and the trampling results in the garments of HaShem being spattered with blood like stains. The life sap (nitscham) is symbolic of the blood of the enemies of God.
“He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.” -Revelation 19:13 (ESV)
The context of this correlating passage from Revelation is one of God’s wrath meted out through the Messiah. Therefore, the blood of the Messiah’s robe in this context is the blood of vengeance and not the Messiah’s own shed blood of redemption
Isa 63:4 Kiy For yom a day nakam of vengeance belibiy is in My heart, ushenat and My year geulay of redemption ba’ah is come.
Once again we note that God’s vengeance is brief (a day) and His redemption is wide (a year).
In order that Israel might be redeemed, Edom, both the literal and figurative, perpetual enemy of Israel must be wiped out.
Isa 63:5 Veabiyt And I looked, ve’eiyn but there was no ozer help; ve’eshtomeim I was appalled, ve’eiyn but there was no someich one to uphold; vatusha liy zeroiy so My own arm brought Me salvation, vachamatiy and My rage hiy He semachateniy upheld Me.
God needs no help from man, thus the meaning is related to the fact that there was no one without sin. Nor is any man capable of redeeming himself, let alone bringing salvation to all Israel.
“He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then His own arm brought him salvation, and His righteousness upheld him.” -Isaiah 59:16 (ESV)
The arm of God is the King Messiah Who brings salvation and the rage of God against sin and death is the force that upholds and renders His righteous judgement.
Isa 63:6 Ve’avus And I trampled down (rejected) amiym the tribes be’apiy in My anger; va’ashakereim making them drunk bachamatiy in My rage, veoriyd and descending la’aretz to the land nitzcham their lifeblood (grape juice).”
Israel will also suffer under the anger and wrath of God as a result of her sin and rebellion. At this point HaShem has come up from trampling Edom and is bringing just punishment against Israel as a precursor to her redemption and the remembrance of His covenant promises, His loving kindness and mercy toward her.
“For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.” -Psalm 75:8 (ESV)
Isa 63:7 Chasdeiy The kindnesses of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), azkiyr I will remember, tehilot the praises of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), ke’al because upon kol all asher-gemalanu HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) that the LORD has recompensed, ve’rav-tov and the great good le’veiyt to the house Yisrael of Israel asher-gemalam that He has granted them kerachamayv according to His compassion, uchero and according to the abundance of chasadayv His steadfast kindness.
From 63:7- 64:12 the prophet Isaiah cries out in humble confession and from a place of great desperation, on behalf of his people Israel: seeking forgiveness and restoration to right relationship with God.
“Chasdeiy” is plural and indicates the many miraculous works of deliverance and loving kindnesses of God toward Israel.
This verse begins and ends with “Chesed” loving kindness, the action of love.
Isa 63:8 Vayomer And He said, “Ach-amiy Indeed they are My tribe, heimah baniym lo yeshakeiru children who will not deal falsely.” Vayhiy And I became lahem to them le’moshiya their Saviour.
Once again God is quoted as calling Israel His tribe and Himself her Saviour. However, this becomes an indictment against the people of Israel who should have acted rightly toward their God. None the less, He has and will continue to be a Saviour to them.
Isa 63:9 Be-chol In all tzaratam their affliction (distress, trouble, rival wives) lo tzar He was afflicted (distress, trouble, a rival wife), umalach and the messenger (angel) of panayv His face hoshiyam saved them; beahavato in His love uvechemlato and in His mercy hu ge’alam He redeemed them; vaynateleim He lifted them up vaynaseim and carried them kol-yemeiy all the days olam in perpetuity.
“In all tzaratam their affliction (distress, trouble) lo tzar He was afflicted (distressed, troubled)…” God suffers because of, with, and for His people, both emotionally and literally (Messiah Yeshua). The Hebrew “tzarah” (affliction, distress, trouble) can also mean “rival wife”. Thus, there is a sense in which the prophet is making a comparison between the hurt Israel feels at being rejected by God and God’s hurt at being rejected by His people.
“and the messenger (angel) of panayv His face hoshiyam saved them…” We have previously read that HaShem’s own arm will bring Salvation (v.5). Therefore, the Messenger of the Face of God must also be God with us. In fact, the Angel of the presence that went before and behind Israel as she fled Egyptian bondage was none other than Yeshua the transcendent resurrected King Messiah.
“Behold, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you into the place that I have prepared. 21 Watch for Him and listen to His voice. Do not rebel against Him because He will not pardon your transgression, for My Name is in Him. 22 But if you listen closely to His voice, and do everything I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.” -Exodus 23:20-22 (TLV)
“in His love uvechemlato and in His mercy hu ge’alam He redeemed them; vaynateleim He lifted them up vaynaseim and carried them kol-yemeiy all the days olam perpetuity.” The nearest previous subject is the Angel of the Face, therefore, God with us, the King Messiah is meant, none other qualifies to action the love, mercy, and redemption of Hashem, nor did anyone other than Hashem lift up and carry Israel perpetually.
Isa 63:10 Ve’heimah And they maru rebelled ve’itzevu and grieved et-ruach kadosho His Holy Spirit; vayeihafeich therefore He turned to become lahem leoyeiv their enemy, hu nilcham-bam He fought against them.
“Remember and do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD.” -Deut. 9:7 (ESV)
“Some understand by the Holy Spirit the Angel of the Lord.” -Iben Ezra
“But they rebelled against the word of His holy prophets, and blasphemed, and His Word became their enemy, and He waged war against them.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Centruy CE)
“Now if in spite of these things you will not be chastened by Me, but walk contrary to Me instead, 24 then I will also walk contrary to you. Then I will strike you, I Myself, seven times for your sins. 25 I will bring a sword upon you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant, and you will be gathered together inside your cities. I will send the pestilence among you and you will be given into the hand of the enemy.” -Leviticus 26:23-25 (TLV)
Isa 63:11 Vayizkor Then bringing to remembrance (recalling) yemeiy-olam the days of perpetuity, Mosheh of Moses, amo His people. Ayeih Where hama’aleim is He Who brought them up out mi’yam from the sea eit roeiy with the shepherd tzono of His flock? Ayeih Where is He Who hasham put bekirbo in the midst of them et-ruach kadesho His Holy Spirit,
“And He had compassion for the glory of His name, because of the remembrance of His goodness of old, the mighty works which He did by the hands of Moses for His people; lest the Gentiles should say, Where is He that brought them up out of the sea? Where is He that led them through the wilderness, as a shepherd his flock? Where is He that made the word of His holy prophets to dwell amongst them?” - Targum Yonatan (2nd Centruy CE)
“Where is He?” The greater answer is that He never left them or truly forsook them. While the reference to a shepherd (shepherds) may refer to Moses, or Moses and Aaron collectively, it is equally likely to refer to the Angel of the presence and or God Himself. It is also acceptable to understand the shepherds to be all the aforementioned.
“You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst.” -Nehemiah 9:20 (ESV)
Isa 63:12 Moliych liymiyn Mosheh zeroa tifarto Who caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, bokei’a who divided (split, broke open, tore up) mayim the waters mipeneiyhem from before their faces la’asot to make for lo sheim olam Himself an everlasting name,
“Your right hand, O Lord, has become glorious in power;
Your right hand, O Lord, has dashed the enemy in pieces.
7 And in the greatness of Your excellence
You have overthrown those who rose against You;
You sent forth Your wrath;
It consumed them like stubble.
8 And with the blast of Your nostrils
The waters were gathered together;
The floods stood upright like a heap;
The depths congealed in the heart of the sea.
9 The enemy said, ‘I will pursue,
I will overtake,
I will divide the spoil;
My desire shall be satisfied on them.
I will draw my sword,
My hand shall destroy them.’
10 You blew with Your wind,
The sea covered them;
They sank like lead in the mighty waters.” -Exodus 15:6-10
Isa 63:13 Moliycham Who led batehomot them in the depths? Kasus Like a horse bamidbar in the desert (ba in, mi from, davar word, essence) lo yikashelu they did not stumble.
A poetic way of referring to Israel’s escape through the depths of the Red sea and her journey through the desert to the promised land.
Isa 63:14 Kabeheimah Like livestock babikah tered going into the valley, Ruach-YHVH the Spirit of the LORD teniychenu gave them rest. Kein So nihageta you drove, led, guided amecha Your tribe, la’asot to make lecha for Yourself sheim tifaret a glorious name.
We note that the Spirit of the Lord, Who is called “Comforter” in the Brit HaChadashah (NT), is described here as the One Who gives Israel rest.
The strong theme of the glorification of God’s Name is significant because it is through the recognition of the saving God of Israel that all who seek redemption are saved in the Messiah and reconciled to the God of Israel.
Isa 63:15 Habet Look (regard, consider) mishamayim from the heavens ure’eih and see, mizevul kodshecha from the lofty habitation of Your holiness vetifartecha and Your Glory, Majesty, Splendour. Ayeih Where are kinatecha Your zeal, jealousy ugevurotecha and Your strength? Hamon The roar (stirring, tumult, sound) me’eicha from Your intestines (inner parts) verachameycha and Your womb (compassion) eilay hitapaku are held back from me.
The prophet expresses the people’s feelings of abandonment. Though the prophet knows that God is ever present, he uses distancing language to show both the Lofty glory and all powerful nature of God and His seeming rejection of the people of Israel who have acted so wickedly toward Him.
We note that the literal Hebrew translation reveals both the masculine and feminine nature of God. “The roar me’eicha from Your intestines (masculine), verachameycha and your womb (feminine)…”
Isa 63:16 Kiy-atah For You are Avinu our Father, kiy Avraham lo yeda’anu for Abraham does not know us, ve’yisrael and Israel (The individual progenitor Jacob) lo yakiranu does not acknowledge us; Atah You, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), Avinu are our Father, Goaleinu our Redeemer mei’olam she’meicha from perpetuity is Your name.
The prophet reminds himself and Israel that they are generations from the patriarchs and must remember that from before the beginning of Israel’s existence God has been her Father and Redeemer.
I recall a foolish Christian teacher who once told me that “Jews don’t understand God as Father but Christians do because Jesus taught us to prayer which says, ‘Our Father Who is in Heaven’”. I responded, “You obviously know very little about Jewish people and the Bible (present text not withstanding). One of the central prayers of Rosh Hashanah begins, ‘Our Father, Our King’”.
Isa 63:17 Lamah tateinu YHVH mideracheycha, Why do You make us wander from your ways HaShem, takshiach hardening libeinu our core being (heart), miyiratecha from fearing You? Shuv Turn back lema’an for the sake avadeycha of your servants, shivteiy the branches of nachalatecha Your inheritance (heritage, possession, property).
“Why hast Thou cast us off, Lord, that we should go astray from the paths which are right in Thy sight, as the nations which have no part in the instruction of Thy law? Our heart is not turned away from Thy fear: return Thy Shekinah unto Thy people, for the sake of Thy righteous servants, unto whom Thou hast sworn by Thy Word to make the tribes amongst them Thine inheritance.” - Targum Yonatan (2nd Centruy CE)
In the sense that God is in control of all things and that He allows but is not subject to free will, the phrase “You make us wander” is accurate. It is in fact in our wandering that we discover the need for direction.
Though God had never truly left Israel, Isaiah asks Him to turn back toward her for the sake of His righteous servants the prophets and the Patriarchs of Israel, the branches of God’s inheritance.
Isa 63:18 Lamitzar For a little while yareshu am-kodshecha Your tribe took hold of Your Holiness; tzareinu our adversaries bossu have trampled mikdashecha Your sanctuary.
This refers to the dwelling of God’s presence in a manifest way upon the Temple in Jerusalem during Solomon’s reign and the subsequent withdrawal of His glory during Israel’s years of idolatry and debauchery.
Isa 63:19 Hayiynu meiolam lo-mashalta ba lo-nikra shimcha We have become from perpetuity, like those not ruled by You, like those not called by Your name.
It’s as if Israel has become like a goy (foreign nation) who have never known God. The weight of this statement is lost on the modern reader. The nation God chose and to whom He revealed His glory, power, might and Holy fearful presence, has now become like those who never knew Him. Tragic, beyond appalling. The prophet is distraught, gutted, grieved to the core of his being by this sobering realisation.
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
A location is personified as a representation of the sum of its inhabitants. Thus, Zion, which is a title given to the Jewish people, the land, the mount in Jerusalem and so on, is the sum of all Israel (ethnic, religious) and her land. She is a parched land, a people in need of redemption, and for her sake God will not keep silent.
Isa 62:1 Lema’an For the sake of Tziyon (Zion, parched land) lo I will not echesheh keep silent, ulema’an and for the sake of Yerushalayim (Flood, downpour of Peace) lo I will not eshkot shut up, ad-yeitzei kanogah tzidkah until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, viyshuatah and her salvation kelapiyd as a torch yivar burning.
“Till I work salvation for Zion, I will give no rest to the nations, until I bring consolation to Jerusalem, I will give no rest to the kingdoms, till her light be revealed as the early dawn, and her salvation shall burn as a lamp.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
As is often the case the question of “who is the speaker?” results in numerous and contrary answers. Iben Ezra suggests that the speaker is corporate Israel in exile in Babylon (Given both the prophetic and historical context his seems extremely unlikely). On the other hand a number of modern scholars, both Jewish and Christian suggest that Isaiah is the speaker (tenable but not consistent with other factors within the parasha [portion]).
In determining the speaker we must look at context (historical, cultural, prophetic etc.), nearest previous subject, inspiration and indeed, the prophet himself. The historical context is pre-exile (Babylon), the locational context is the land of Israel, the prophetic context relates to the redemptive work of God as it is worked out through the Salvation of Israel in the land of Israel. The nearest previous subject is God Himself (Isaiah 61:11), and the prophet is tasked, as always, with relaying the words of God.
Isaiah had no authority nor the means to appoint watchmen on the walls, nor is any man capable of assuring that watchmen will continue to cry out warning perpetually (v.6). It is also said that “The Lord has proclaimed” the salvation of the daughter of Zion to the ends of the land (v.11). Further still, the Hebrew “chashah” (silence) is commonly used of Adonay in reference to Himself when making a proclamation regarding His leaving things as they are (Isa. 65:6; 57:11; 64:11). Therefore, it seems most likely that God Himself is the speaker.
The Targum also supports the understanding that God is the speaker. After all, only God can work salvation for Zion.
With this in mind the text offers a powerful assurance, in the fact that it is God Himself Who will not keep silent, and will appoint others to resonate with that truth from the walls that surround the cities of Israel. In particular, the walls of Jerusalem. I am reminded of the familiar repetition of Pesach:
“God Himself and not a malakh (messenger), God Himself and not a seraph (Angel of fire)…”
“For the sake of Tziyon (Zion, parched land) I will not keep silent”. A location is personified as a representation of the sum of its inhabitants. Thus, Zion, which is a title given to the Jewish people, the land, the mount in Jerusalem and so on, is the sum of all Israel (ethnic, religious) and her land. She is a parched land, a people in need of redemption, and for her sake God will not keep silent.
“And for the sake of Yerushalayim (Flood, downpour of Peace) I will not shut up”. The use of the proper noun Jerusalem is of great significance here. Not only will God not keep silent regarding the entire people of Israel (ethnic, religious) in her parched state, He will further more not shut up until she is redeemed and transformed into her future state in the midst of a flood of peace (Jerusalem). Once again, a city is the sum of its inhabitants, therefore, it is for the sake of the Jews of Jerusalem that HaShem will not shut up.
“until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a torch burning.” Her righteousness is purchased of God and not of herself, for God has said elsewhere that the righteousness of human beings is as used menstrual cloth (Isaiah 64:6). In fact, Israel’s Righteousness, like her Salvation (v.11), is a person. While it is true that the Hebrew text uses the general noun “shuatah” for salvation, it none the less sets up the personification of Salvation in verse 11, where the general noun is used and followed by the phrase “His reward is with Him”. Therefore, it is quite acceptable to understand the present verse as:
“Her Righteousness (Yeshua) goes forth as brightness, and her Salvation (Yeshua) as a torch burning.”
“As a burning torch” This brings to mind the lit torches of the watchmen on the walls that shone across the valleys surrounding the city of Jerusalem, and were at times taken by a watchman to help retrieve returning Jews in the darkness of the night. A watchman was not only responsible for warning of coming danger, he was also responsible for assuring that any Jews returning to the city were afforded light and safe passage through the gates and in behind the city walls. Thus the figurative meaning is profound. Salvation (Yeshua) Himself is the greatest of watchmen and His torch (saving work) is a light of both warning and deliverance that goes out from the walls and into the darkness of the world that surrounds God’s holy City and its people (the Jews).
Ultimately the righteousness and salvation of Jerusalem will shine forth in fullness following the redemption of the entire remnant of ethnic, religious Israel (The Jewish people) [Romans 11:25-26], when the New Jerusalem will come down from the heavens and converge with the existing city (Heb. 11:22; Rev. 21).
Isa 62:2 Vekora goyim And the nations shall see tzidkeich your righteousness, vechol-melachiym and all kings kevodeich your glory, vekora lach sheim chadash and you shall be called by a new name, asher piy which the mouth of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) yikovenu shall pierce you with.
“And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and they shall call thee by a new name, which the Word of the Lord shall declare.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The nations will see Yeshua, the righteousness of Israel (ethnic, religious) and the rulers of those nations will be in awe of His glory reflected in the redeemed people of Israel (Modern Jews being the unification of the tribes previously returned from exile to Judah).
“You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) shall pierce you with” The imagery here denotes the application of a piece of bridal jewellery to the nose of the bride (Ezekiel 16:12; Genesis 24:22-31). Thus, the new name given to the people of Israel is symbolic of her position as bride of God. The giving of the new name also reflects the journey of Jacob and his wrestling with the man (Yeshua), God manifest (Gen. 32). This famous Torah account concludes with the renaming of Jacob (A Follower who struggles). Thus, through submitting to the man (God with us: Yeshua) Jacob is renamed (By that same One) Yisra-El (Overcomes in God). Therefore, the new name given to Israel, spoken by the mouth of HaShem, will reflect her redemption through His King Messiah Yeshua. Israel (ethnic, religious) will look upon the one Whom we have pierced and grieve as one mourns for an only son (Zech. 12:10).
It is interesting to note that the Targum alludes to the Word (Davar: John 1) of the Lord as being the origin of the declaration of Israel’s (Jerusalem’s, Zion’s) new name.
So what will the new name be? The truth is that there are numerous possibilities but no certainties. The new name will relate to the redeemed nature of the city of Jerusalem made one with the New Jerusalem, in which God Himself and the Lamb Yeshua will dwell and provide the city with light (Rev. 21:22-23). The last new name for Jerusalem mentioned in the Tanakh (OT) is found in Ezekiel.
“It will be 18,000 cubits all around. From that day on, the name of the city will be: ‘YHVH Shammah Adonai Is There.’” -Ezekiel 48:35
Isa 62:3 Vehayiyt And it will come to pass that you will be ateret a crown tiferet of splendour beyad-YHVH in the hand of HaShem, utzeniyf meluchah and a royal diadem bechaf-Elohayich in the palm of your God.
Israel (ethnic, religious) will be a crown revealing God’s glorious redemptive work and will be held by God’s mighty (hand) protection. Additionally she will be carefully cradled in the open palm of God’s hand as a treasured possession, protected and tenderly loved. Therefore, the themes of fierce protection and tender love are conveyed in the nuanced use of the Hebrew yad and chaf.
The Hebrew tzeniyf is used of both the headdress of the high priest (Ex. 28:4; Zech. 3:5) and of the king (Ezk. 21:26). Therefore, the redemption of Israel’s calling as a nation of priests is rendered in figurative language. There is also a connection to the unification of the kingship and priesthood of Israel in our King Messiah Yeshua.
Isa 62:4 Lo yei’ameir lach od You will not be spoken of any longer as azuvah forsaken; uleartzeich lo yei’ameir od neither will your land be spoken of any longer as being shemamah desolate: Kiy lach for you shall yikarei be called Cheftzi-vah (My delight is in her), uleartzeich and your land Be’ulah (Married one, possession, has a Husband); kiy-chafeitz YHVH for HaShem delights in you, ve’artzeich and your land shall tiba’eil be married (ruled over, have a Husband).
Zion herself had complained that she had been forsaken by God:
“But Zion said, HaShem has forsaken me, and Adonay has forgotten me.” -Isaiah 49:14
Earlier Isaiah prophecies the word of the Lord acknowledging that Israel has been left desolate as a result of her sin, and making a similar promise to that of the present verse:
“Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, so that no man passed through you, I will make you an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations.” -Isaiah 60:15
“You will not be spoken of any longer as azuvah forsaken”. This is a reference to an estranged or divorced wife and is consistent with the bridal language used throughout chapters 61 and 62.
“neither will your land be spoken of any longer as being shemamah desolate”. The land is personified here as a barren woman, no longer fruit bearing, desolate.
“for you shall yikarei be called Cheftzi-vah (My delight is in her), uleartzeich and your land Be’ulah (Married one, possession, has a Husband)” Now the figurative language takes on a redemptive quality. The people once forsaken (divorced) is now called the delight of her husband, and the land once barren (desolate, fruitless) is now called a married woman. The role of the ancient Jewish groom and husband was to care for and provide for His bride, wife. Therefore, in the arms of a righteous husband a woman was highly valued, protected, delighted in, adored, given fruitful land and shelter for her progeny. How wicked our generation has become, that we should rob women of the very thing they desire most, to be cared for, protected, provided for and made fruitful. Instead our women spurn the roles of creation and our men take no responsibility for their depraved actions, resulting in the objectification of women and the demeaning of men and the rapid decay of western civilization. A society once founded on Biblical morality.
If, as some conjecture, the king of Judah at this time was Manasseh, the use of the name Cheftzivah is a strong indictment against Manasseh’s evil choices given that He was born to a mother of the same name:
“Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign; and he reigned fifty five years in Jerusalem: and his mother's name was Hephzibah.” -2 Kings 21:1
“For HaShem delights in you, and your land shall be married (ruled over, have a Husband).” We are reminded that at the time of this prophecy Israel’s behaviour was far from delightful, and yet HaShem saw her redeemed outside of time and space through the blood of His Son the King Messiah, Israel’s Salvation. Therefore, He delights in her redeemed future self, a bride made pure and dressed to adorn her Husband’s arm.
Notice that the land of Israel is intrinsically connected to her redemption and marriage to HaShem. He has promised the land through Abraham and will bring the full bride price to the wedding feast. Redeemed Israel (ethnic, religious) will inhabit the new land, transformed through the vicarious work of the King Messiah.
Isa 62:5 Kiy For yival bachur as a young man marries betulah a virgin, yivaluch banayich so shall your sons marry you; umesos and rejoicing chatan as the bridegroom -kalah over the bride, yasiys alayich Elohayich so shall your God rejoice over you.
The meaning is that of devotion in the first love of youth. The sons of Redeemed Israel will so delight in being part of the people of Israel that they will be like excited grooms pursuing their brides. Likewise, God Himself will rejoice over Israel (ethnic, religious) as a Groom over His bride. This language is reminiscent of but not the same as that of Revelation 21:2; 22:17 where the New Jerusalem is called the bride of Messiah. A city is the sum of its inhabitants and the sum of the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem will include goyim as well as Jews. However, the present verse specifically refers to ethnic, religious Jews redeemed through Messiah, and the location, while it includes Jerusalem, is none the less the entire land of Israel promised and delivered to Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen).
Isa 62:6 Al-chomotayich Upon your walls Yerushalayim, hifkadtiy I have set shomeriym guardians (watchmen); kol-hayom all day ve’kol-halaylah and all night tamid perpetually lo yecheshu they shall never be silent: hamazkiriym the remembrances et YHVH of HaShem (Mercy) al-domiy lachem don’t you cease!
“Upon your walls Yerushalayim I have set shomeriym guardians (watchmen)” The speaker is HaShem, He alone is qualified to appoint perpetual guardians on the walls of Jerusalem. The use of the Hebrew shomeriym guardians from shomer guard, (keep), illuminates the role of watchman. A watchman of the walls of Jerusalem was by necessity a Jew, a sabra (born of the land) and was appointed by the head watchman under the ruler of the city guard and ultimately at the order of the king of Judah (Israel). A Gentile could not perform this role because a Gentile does not have a blood connection to the people and the land, nor does he (generally and contextually speaking) have a connection to the God of Israel (except through Messiah) and is therefore more likely to flee at the slightest sign of trouble.
“All day and all night perpetually they shall never be silent: the remembrances of HaShem (Mercy) don’t you cease observing them!”
These particular watchmen are appointed in every generation: they never fail to warn the city of coming danger, nor do these watchmen ever forsake the remembrances of HaShem (Shabbaot, moedim Festivals, regaliym and Temple service of worship). Therefore, these are watchmen over both the physical and spiritual well-being of Israel (ethnic, religious). They are not silent when the people prosper (day), nor do they fail to warn the people when they pursue evil (night). Like HaShem Who chose them they are always working (John 5:17).
The word shomer is used to refer to many religious obligations in Judaism. We are to shomer Shabbat, guard or keep the Shabbat. We practice shomer Torah, the keeping or guarding of the Torah and so on. The watchmen being referred to here are not only looking out for coming trouble, they are also tasked with thwarting the trouble which results from the sin of the people. They do this through the maintaining of the Instruction (Torah) of HaShem, in worship, observances, remembrance of His mighty deeds and vigilant purity. A watchman is responsible for proclaiming the Word of HaShem in every generation. In fact, Isaiah is one such watchman and the prophets of Israel are his co-workers. However, the watchman is not responsible for the response of the people. Their choice for or against God is their own.
“Do not be as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets cried, saying, ‘Thus says Adonai of hosts, “Return you now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, says Adonai.’” -Zechariah 1:4
The watchmen that succeeded the time of captivity in Babylon were:
“Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Haggai stands upon the walls of Jerusalem, and proclaims the glory of the second temple as surpassing that of the first. Zechariah points from Joshua and Zerubbabel onwards to the sprout of the Lord, who is priest and prince in one person, and builds the true temple of God. Malachi predicts the coming of the Lord to His temple, and the rising of the Sun of righteousness. Under the eyes of these prophets the city of God rose up again, and they stand upon its pinnacles, and look thence into the glorious future that awaits it, and hasten its approach through the word of their testimony. Such prophets, who carry the good of their people day and night upon their anxious praying hearts, does Jehovah give to the Jerusalem after the captivity, which is one in the prophet's view with the Jerusalem of the last days.” -Keil & Delitzsch
These watchmen are the righteous counterparts of the previously mentioned unrighteous watchmen:
“His watchmen are blind, they are all without knowledge; they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber.” -Isaiah 56:10
Isa 62:7 Ve’al titenu domiy and give Him no rest, lo ad yechonein till He establishes, ve’al yasiym and till He makes et-Yerushalayim tehilah a praise ba’aretz in the land.
It is m Who the prophets are to give no rest. He has instructed them to be advocates in the likeness of His Son the King Messiah, the greatest of advocates. What awesome hope for Israel (ethnic, religious) and for all the earth. For the watchmen of God will not stop crying out to Him until He establishes the city of His glory, the city where Peace Himself brings a flood of wholeness, well-being and eternal peace. The capital city of the Jewish people and the location of the eternal Jerusalem which comes down from the heavens. All the land of Israel, meaning all her tribes collectively will look to their capital and hear her praises as a result of the redemptive work of the King Messiah.
“But Yeshua answered them, ‘My Father has been working until now [He has never ceased working], and I too am working.’” – John 5:17
Isa 62:8 Nishba YHVH HaShem (Mercy) has sworn biymiyno by his right hand, uvizroa uzi and by the arm of His strength, im-etein Surely I will no longer give et-deganeich your wheat to be od again ma’achal food leoyevayich for your enemies; ve’im-yishtu veneiy-neichar and sons of strangers shall not drink tiyrosheich your new wine, yaga’at bo for which you have laboured:
Make no mistake, the context makes Israel the recipient of this promise (not the Church). HaShem has sworn that never again will foreign nations steal the harvest and posterity of the Jewish people. We will no longer labour in vain. Therefore, Iben Ezra is right in saying:
“This verse also proves clearly, that this prophecy refers to the time yet to come; for the Lord hath sworn, that is, has made an unconditional decree. By His right hand. By His might, which is everlasting. The right hand is mentioned here to indicate His power of preventing enemies despoiling the Israelites of their corn, etc.”
The doubling of the right hand and strong arm firmly establishes this promise.
Isa 62:9 Kiy For me’asfayv they that have gathered it yocheluhu shall eat it, vehillu and praise et HaShem (YHVH: Mercy); umekabetzayv and they that have gathered it yishtuhu shall drink it bechatzrot in the courts kodshiy of My sanctuary.
The food gathered and eaten in the courts of the Temple refers to festival foods and the ritual offerings of the Temple cult along with the tithes for the Levites etc. rather than to all the food gathered (Deut. 14:22-27, 29). The connecting of the harvest to the Temple worship shows a link between spiritual renewal and agricultural prosperity.
Isa 62:10 Ivru ivru Go through, go through basheariym in the gates; panu clear you derech a way ha’am for the tribe; solu solu lift up, lift up hamsilah the highway; sakelu throw stones; mei’even from the stone hariymu the raising up neis of a sign (a miracle. A banner) al-ha’amiym upon the tribes.
This is interpreted by some to refer to the gates of Israel’s captivity but seems more likely to refer to the clearing of a way into the gates of the city of Jerusalem upon the return of the exiles via the highway that is to be built up as prophesied previously:
“And there shall be a highway for the remnant of His people, that shall remain, from Assyria; like as there was for Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.” -Isaiah 11:16
“And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for: the wayfaring men, yes, fools shall not go about on it.” -Isaiah 35:8
“The voice of one that cries, ‘Prepare you in the wilderness the way of Adonay; make level in the desert a highway for our God.’” -Isaiah 40:3
“And I will make all My mountains a way, and My highways shall be exalted.” -Isaiah 49:11
“And He will say, ‘Cast you up, cast you up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling-block out of the way of My people.’” -Isaiah 57:14
“mei’even from the stone hariymu the raising up neis of a sign (a miracle. A banner) al-ha’amiym upon the tribes.” This miraculous sign (neis) will be raised up from the stone (even) as a means of drawing the tribes of Israel in returning to Hashem. The Hebrew amiym is poorly translated by those who render “peoples”. In this context it clearly refers to the tribes of Israel as distinct from the goyim, or else why does it not say goyim? This sign is of course the Messiah Himself, lifted up on the cross for all to see, and, He being the foundation, corner, and cap stone (Ha-even) [as well as the stone on which one is broken and under which the other is crushed], is both the One through Whom all things are created (John 1; Colossians 1: Jewish tradition also teaches that the universe was created through the stone [Ha-even] on the Temple mount [Moriah] in Jerusalem), and the firstborn from the dead, the Salvation of Israel and the hope of the nations.
Note the distinction in the following verses regarding the goyim (nations) and the amiym (tribes), Israel, Judah. It is not to say that the sign is only for the tribes of Israel but rather that the sign of Messiah has a unique instantaneous national redemptive outcome with regard to Israel (Romans 11:25-26). Whereas it brings the nations in their fullness over a predetermined period of time prior to the great salvation (through Yeshua the King Messiah) of the entire remnant of the Jewish people.
“He will raise a sign la-goyim for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the land.” -Isaiah 11:12
“Thus says the Lord YHVH: ‘Behold, I will lift up My hand to the goyim nations, and raise My sign to the amiym tribes; and they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.” -Isaiah 49:22
Isa 62:11 Hineih Behold, now, pay attention! HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) hishmiya el-ketzeh has demanded that the extremity of ha’aretz the land hear, imru Say you lebat-Tziyon to the daughter of Zion, Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, yisheich your salvation ba comes; Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, secharo His reward ito is with Him, ufeulato and His recompense (repayment) lefanayv is before His face.
As always the use of Hineih is a call to attention. HaShem demands that all the tribes of Israel hear and take note. Even to the very extremity of the land of Israel. How do we know that the land of Israel is meant and not the earth entirely? Because the message is to the daughter of Zion, and the closest previous subject is the tribes of Israel.
The daughter of Zion is now called to pay attention. “yisheich your salvation ba comes”…
“Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, secharo His reward ito is with Him, ufeulato and His recompense (reward) lefanayv is before His face.”
Zion’s Salvation is a Him. Therefore, yeshuah the noun is revealed as Yeshua the Person, some 700 years before the entry into time and space of the King Messiah Yeshua.
Yeshua (Salvation) comes to Zion with reward for the repentant and recompense for the wicked. Therefore, this speaks of His second coming.
Isa 62:12 Vekareu And they shall call them am-hakodesh The holy tribe, geuleiy redeemed of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy): veloch and you Yikarei derushah shall be called Sought out, iyr lo ne’ezavah a city not forsaken.
“They” are those who look on and see the redemption of the entire remnant of Israel (ethnic, religious) at the end of the age. They will call them “The Holy Tribe”, “Redeemed of YHVH”, and Jerusalem (that is the New Jerusalem) will be called “Sought Out”, “A City Not Forsaken”!
“It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it,” -Isaiah 2:2
“In that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honour of the survivors of Israel. And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy. There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.” -Isaiah 4:2-6
Copyright Yaakov Brown 2019
Messiah, like the waters of the heavens, comes and does not return (precipitation) until He has accomplished His purpose of satisfying the spiritual thirst of those who live on earth and seeding in them the fruit of redemption. Through His death and resurrection He offers water (The Holy Spirit) to the thirsty soil of the human soul.
Isa 55:1 “Hoy Oiy, alas, wow, woe, relief, exhale, an invitation to kol-tzamei everyone who thirsts, lechu (from halak walk) walk toward la’mayim to the waters; ve’asher and the one eiyn-lo kasef without money, lechu walk toward, shivru purchase ve’echolu and eat! lechu walk toward, shivru purchase belo-kesef without money uvelo and without mechiyr hire, yayiyn wine ve’chalav and milk.
The previous chapter ended with the certain promise of God to Israel, that “no weapon formed against” her would prosper. As the prophet indicated, there would be weapons formed against her but they would not be of God but of the enemies of God and of Israel His people. Thus, the present chapter begins with an exclamation of warning mixed with relief. The Hebrew “Hoy” is difficult to translate. The sense is that of woe mixed with an exhaling and causative awe: an invitation. It is as if HaShem were saying, “It’s true that weapons will be formed against you by other nations and peoples, and after all those weapons have been defeated, ‘Hoy’, relax and pay careful, even woeful attention: because once these things have passed God will offer His waters to all, both to you and to the repentant among your former enemies…”
“kol-tzamei everyone who thirsts,” This is obviously addressed to everyone in both Israel and among the nations who thirst. The thirst is clearly spiritual (Isa. 41:17; 44:3; Psalm 42:1-2; 63:1) and can only be satiated by the spiritual waters that come from God.
Iben Ezra sees the “water” as being a metaphor for the Torah (Instruction, Law). This is consistent with the idea that the living Word of God, the King Messiah (John 1; 4:14; 7:37), offers water that will satisfy the human soul for all eternity.
“Yeshua replied to her, ‘Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never be thirsty. The water that I give him will become a fountain of water within him, springing up to eternal life!’” -Yochanan (John) 4:13-14 (TLV)
The Jewish commentator Kimchi says, “after the war of Gog and Magog (an eschatological battle at the end of the age), the nations shall know that the Lord reigns, and shall come and be desirous of learning his judgments and laws.”
The Targum also understands “waters” as a metaphor for the doctrines (Law) of God:
“Ho, every one that is willing to learn, let him come and learn, and he that hath no silver, come, hear and learn; come, hear and learn, without price and money, doctrine that is better than wine and milk.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
“lechu (from halak walk) walk toward la’mayim to the waters” The standard translation “Come to the waters” falls short of conveying the greater meaning of the Hebrew text. The Hebrew reads “lechu” lit. “He walks”, from the root “Halak” meaning “To walk”. Therefore, the waters must be walked toward in repentance. These waters are offered to all but are not received by all, rather, they are received by all who come in repentance. Halakhah is the way we walk, it is more than coming, it is coming in humility and repentance.
Notice that the Hebrew “mayim” is intense, plural, “waters”. It is not “water” but “waters” that are being offered. God’s Word (alluded to later in the chapter in relation to the waters of the heavens) is perpetual, intense, everlasting, and the waters of verse one are a metaphor for God’s Word, essence (D’var).
“And the one without money, lechu walk toward, shivru purchase ve’echolu and eat!” Again, this is a metaphor regarding spiritual food.
“Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, eat what you find—eat this scroll. Then go, speak to the house of Israel.’” -Ezekiel 3:1 (TLV)
Produce from the earth is sold by human beings to one another but the produce of the heavens cannot be bought and sold. The food that is purchased without money is the food of the heavens, the sustenance of the everlasting soul of humanity that comes from God and can be received from no other source. We notice that this must be “walked toward”: it is not forced on anyone. Those who refuse freely offered food will starve according to their own decision. God doesn’t send fallen angels or people to the lake of fire (Rev.19:20; 20:10-15), to the contrary, they choose to go by refusing God’s present, redeeming, loving action.
“lechu walk toward, shivru purchase belo-kesef without money uvelo and without mechiyr hire, yayiyn wine ve’chalav and milk.” The wine and milk are also metaphors for the Torah (Instruction, Law). In fact, the waters, food (bread), wine and milk to which the prophet refers are all aspects of God’s Word (D’var, essence).
Water is essential to life. Without water life as we know it cannot exist. Likewise, food sustains life, bread is the fuel of a healthy existence (according to an ancient middle eastern diet and not the modern forms of grain which contain modified gluten). Wine is both a comfort in sorrow and a delight in our celebrations. It was often used medicinally in the ancient middle east and is a constant reminder of the need for blood atonement. Finally, milk is essential to early childhood development. In the case of a mother’s milk the nutrients and enzymes present offer strengthened immunity to the new-born and sustain the baby’s growth to a point where the child can consume and digest solid foods. Each of these symbols conveys an aspect of God’s written (Ketuviym: Scriptures) and living Word (D’var: essence, Yeshua: John 1) at work in the lives of those who believe and receive Him in repentance.
The living waters of God are offered freely and received in repentance and humility. No matter how wealthy a person becomes in this world, a human being cannot buy the everlasting waters of God. This living water has been purchased for humanity by God’s Servant Redeemer, it cannot be earned, it can only be received in humility and repentance.
“For the payment for sin is death; but the gift of God is everlasting life through Yeshua the Messiah our Lord.” -Rav shaul’s letter to the Roman believers 6:23
Isa 55:2 Lamah Why tishkelu-kesef do you weigh out (spend) your money belo-lechem for that which is not bread, viygiyachem and your labour (toil, working) belo lesave’ah for that which does not satisfy (fill you up)? Shimu shamoa Listen, hear, understand with diligence (pay careful attention) eilay to Me, ve’ichlu-tov and you eat what is good, vetit’anag and delight badeshen nafshechem your souls in fatness (rich food, fertility, blessing).
“Wherefore do ye weigh out your silver for that which is not food? and your wealth for that which satisfies not? Hearken diligently to my Word, and ye shall eat that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.”-Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
It is interesting to note that the Targum equates the “Word” to “God.”
“Why do you weigh out (spend) your money for that which is not bread, and your labour (toil, working) for that which does not satisfy (fill you up)?”
If the former verse uses metaphor to convey spiritual truth then so does the present verse. The money spent by the hungry is the wealth they have earned from their temporal labour. They spend it on “that which is not bread”, bread being the metaphor for the Word of Hashem (Both written and living). Therefore, “That which is not bread,” is an allusion to the idolatry of Israel and of all humanity.
“He afflicted you and let you hunger, then He fed you manna—which neither you nor your fathers had known—in order to make you understand that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of Adonai.” -Devarim (Deuteronomy) 8:3 (TLV)
It is God Who allowed Israel’s hunger as a result of her sin. Israel continued to purchase false spiritual food from other gods and as a result her spiritual hunger was not satisfied. She was constantly tormented in body, mind and spirit because the spiritual food she received from false gods did not satisfy her need. In fact, the spiritual food purchased from false gods did harm to Israel’s body (collective and individual) because it is the spiritual equivalent of junk food. Israel, like all the nations of the world, hungered for right relationship with God her Creator but foolishly sought to satisfy that hunger with the temporal junk food of false gods.
We note that the waters of God are offered freely but the worthless food of false gods (Satanic forces) costs dearly. The waters of God give life and sustain it, whereas the food of false gods harm the body and soul and bring death. Therefore, the incredulous question “Why do you weigh out (spend) your money for that which is not bread…” is more than justified in the mouth of God’s prophet.
“Shimu shamoa Listen, hear, understand with diligence (pay careful attention) eilay to Me, ve’ichlu-tov and you eat what is good, vetit’anag and delight badeshen nafshechem your souls in fatness (rich food, fertility, blessing).”
The Hebrew “Shimu shamoa” translates as “Listen, listen carefully”. God demands Israel’s attention, indeed, He demands that all humanity pay attention to His Word. The inference is, “Stop listening to those who do not satisfy your hunger for truth…”
“Eat what is good…” In other words, “Stop eating the damaging food of false gods and start eating My Word.”
Yeshua challenged Israel (ethnic, religious) to see the manna of her desert wanderings as a figure for His body, life, spirituality, and to feed on Him through His sacrificial atoning death and resurrection. He identified Himself as the “the true bread that comes down from heaven”. His teaching, His life, His example, His offer of redemption, is all symbolised by the bread that comes from heaven. This is what the prophet Isaiah is referring to when He writes on HaShem’s instruction, “Eat what is good”. Elsewhere Yeshua says, “Why do you call me good, only God is good” (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19). He says this in order to reveal to the one who called Him good, that He is Imanu (with us) El (God). In other words, “You are right to call Me good, Only God is good”.
“Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘Out of heaven He gave them bread to eat.’” 32 Yeshua answered them, “Amen, amen I tell you, it isn’t Moses who has given you bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the One coming down from heaven and giving life to the world.” 34 So they said to Him, “Sir, give us this bread from now on!” 35 Yeshua said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty. 36 But I told you that you have seen Me, yet you do not believe. 37 Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and anyone coming to Me I will never reject. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do My own will but the will of the One who sent Me.” - John 6:31-38 (TLV)
“Delight your souls in fatness (rich food, fertility, blessing).” The modern reader could be confused by the use of the word “fatness”, after all, in our society an over indulgence in “fat” is frowned upon: it is a cause of obesity and its related health concerns. However, there are two things to consider: first, fat is not the problem, excessive consumption (the sin of gluttony) is. Second, the ancient Israeli diet consisted mainly of grains, vegetables, milk, the occasional meat or fish (usually on festive occasions or once a week at Shabbat dinner), and received the majority of its fat from olive oil with the obvious exception of the lamb and beef consumed on a less regular basis to modern western practice. To the ancient Jew “fat” meant abundance, blessing, fertility, true wealth, strength, security, satisfaction, and joy. This is what God is offering, only He is offering the spiritual equivalent to the temporal earthly metaphor. This is in fact a picture of the Olam Haba (World to come), where the righteous will “feast” with God and His King Messiah.
“On this mountain, Adonai-Tzva’ot
will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples--
a banquet of aged wine--
of rich food, of choice marrow, of aged wine well refined.” -Isaiah 25:6 (TLV)
“I will fill the soul of the kohanim with fatness
and My people will be satisfied with My goodness.”
It is a declaration of Adonai.” -Jeremiah 31:13 (14) (TLV)
“Then the angel tells me, ‘Write: How fortunate are those who have been invited to the wedding banquet of the Lamb!’ He also tells me, ‘These are the true words of God.’” -Revelation 19:9 (TLV)
“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” -Psalm 36:7-9 (ESV)
Isa 55:3 Hatu Incline (stretch out) azenechem your ear, ulechu and walk toward Me; Shimu hear, listen, understand utechiy nafshechem and your soul will live; ve’echretah and I will cut (make) lechem with you beriyt a covenant (cutting) olam everlasting, perpetual, chasdiy my love, loving actions, for David hane’emaniym are faithfulness, certain, steadfast, sure, supportive.
“Incline your ear and receive instruction of my law, obey my Word and your soul shall be quickened, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the mercies of David, which are sure.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
“Incline (stretch out) your ear, ulechu and walk toward Me; Shimu hear, listen, understand utechiy nafshechem and your soul will live…”
In order for Israel and indeed all humanity to receive the waters (Word of God, Yeshua) from the heavens and live (eternally), they must have ears to hear, listen, understand. From the Hebrew we could translate, “Walk your ears toward me with your ear canal tilted to receive what I have to say…” Only the willing, repentant, teachable person is able to receive the water from the heavens and live.
“‘And your soul shall live.’ That is, your soul shall live for ever after the death of the body, or you will receive new life through Messiah, when you will return to the Divine Law (Torah).” -Iben Ezra
“Ve’echretah and I will cut (make) lechem with you beriyt a covenant (cutting) olam everlasting, perpetual, chasdiy my love, loving actions, for David hane’emaniym are faithfulness, certain, steadfast, sure, supportive.”
This everlasting covenant is intrinsically connected to the line of David and is made complete in keeping with the promises God has made to David.
“So your house and your kingship will be secure forever before you; your throne will be established forever.” -2 Samuel 7:16 (TLV)
“And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.” Ezekiel 34:23 (ESV)
“I will maintain My love for him forever,
and My covenant with him will be firm.” -Psalm 89:29 (TLV)
“But they shall serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.” -Jeremiah 30:9 (ESV)
“It is also possible, that by David in this verse Messiah is meant, who will be of the family of David. As the prophet is sometimes called Israel for the same reason (49:3); and the meaning of ‘hane’emaniym chasdiy Daveed’ is in that case: for the kindness of Messiah is sure. This explaination is supported by the next verse.” -Iben Ezra
This covenant which is connected to the covenant of peace of Isaiah 54:10 and is clearly a reference to the work of the Servant Redeemer, the King Messiah Yeshua. The covenant concerning the mercies toward David cannot be a reference to David himself, who died centuries before this prophecy was first spoken, rather it refers to the Messiah Who is the greater son of David and the One through Whom God carries out His redemptive purposes for Israel and the nations.
It is also clear from the previous verses that this everlasting covenant is the fruit of the Word Who came like waters from the heavens to bring life to humanity and to all creation which had been held hostage to the drought caused by sin.
“And we proclaim to you Good News—the promise to the fathers has arrived! 33 For God has fulfilled this promise to the children—to us—by raising up Yeshua, as it is also written in the second psalm:
‘You are My Son.
Today I have become Your Father.’
34 “But since He raised Him up from the dead, never to return to decay, He has spoken in this way, ‘I will give you the holy and sure mercies of David.’ 35 Therefore He also says in another psalm, ‘You will not permit Your Holy One to see decay.’ 36 For after David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he went to sleep and was laid with his fathers and saw decay. 37 But the One whom God raised up did not see decay.
38 “Therefore, let it be known to you, brothers, that through this One is proclaimed to you the removal of sins, including all those from which you could not be set right by the Torah of Moses. 39 Through this One everyone who keeps trusting is made righteous.” -Acts 13:32-38 (TLV)
Isa 55:4 Hein Behold, Now, Pay attention, eid lumiym (from am tribe, people) He is a witness to the tribes (peoples), netatiyn I have given Him nagid as a ruler (leader) umetzaveih and commander leumiym for the tribes (peoples).
“He is leader of the tribes, I have given Him as a ruler and commander over the tribes.”
As Iben Ezra rightly notes, the nearest subject is David or rather, the Messiah as the greater son of David, for David, now dead cannot be the future ruler over the tribes. Thus, it is the Servant King Messiah Who is being referred to here.
The Jewish commentators Iben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melekh all interpret this verse as referring to the Messiah.
The use of the Hebrew “umiym” tribes is important. To the modern English reader the translation “peoples”, while technically correct, is none the less misleading. The better translation is “tribes”. Israel is a “goy” nation made up of “umiym” tribes (peoples). The modern English reader misunderstands the word “peoples” to refer to all the peoples of the earth, however, in this context it does not. The following verse affirms this by speaking of a “goy” nation that will run to the individual in the present verse who is a witness to the tribes of Israel and in fact is born of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical).
It is here that Isaiah joins the two images of the Servant into one. By comparing Isaiah 11:10 we see that the Servant (King Messiah) is first a sign to the amiym tribes of Israel and as a result becomes a sign to the goyim nations.
“And in that day there shall be a root of Yishay which shall stand for a nes miracle (sign) of amiym the tribes: toward Him the goyim nations shall seek: and His rest shall be glorious.” -Isaiah 11:10
When combining the message of these verses it is clear that by amyim (tribes, peoples) Israel as a corporate entity is meant, and when the term goy is used in the next verse it refers to a nation other than Israel.
Isa 55:5 Hein Behold, Now, Pay attention, goy a nation lo-teida not known to you tikra you will call, ve’goy and a nation lo-yedaucha you didn’t know eilecha in your direction yarutzu will run lema’an because of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) Eloheycha your God, ve’likdush Ysirael and of the Holy One of Israel, for He has glorified you.
This second “Hein” draws attention to a new related subject. These words are spoken to the individual of the former verse (The Servant King Messiah Yeshua), and to Israel, who through her greater son the King Messiah, has made it possible for those who would believe among the nations to enter God’s kingdom through the redemptive and vicarious sacrifice and resurrection of His Son the Messiah Yeshua.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-- 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” -John 10:14-16 (NIV)
Notice that it is “because of Hashem” that the “nation” made up of peoples (amiym) from among the nations (goyim) will come to Israel’s God. Thus, Israel is glorified because of the work of the Servant King Messiah, performed by her God, the Holy One of Israel.
This verse offers hope to those among the nations who receive Messiah while also warning those who refuse God’s continued purposes for the Jewish people.
“For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me. You made my enemies turn their backs to me, and those who hated me I destroyed. They cried for help, but there was none to save; they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them. I beat them fine as dust before the wind; I cast them out like the mire of the streets. You delivered me from strife with the people; you made me the head of the nations; people whom I had not known served me. As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me; foreigners came cringing to me. Foreigners lost heart and came trembling out of their fortresses. The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation—” Psalm 18:39-46 (ESV)
Isa 55:6 “Diroshu Seek with care, enquire of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) behimatzeo while He may be found, encountered, learned from; kera’uhu call upon Him bihyoto in His becoming (while He is) karov near;
Historically this warning relates to God’s presence manifest among the people of Israel and to the coming Babylonian exile and subsequent return. God will not allow death to continue on the earth indefinitely. Therefore, Israel has a limited time to seek and find Him, as do all who live on the earth.
“Seek ye the fear of the Lord whilst ye are alive, supplicate before His presence whilst ye remain.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.C.)
The Targum rightly understands this verse as referring to the time frame of a person’s life. In other words, a person may seek out the free gift of God’s redemptive action as long as that person lives in this sin affected world. There is no opportunity for salvation after death for, “It is appointed unto each human being to die once (in finality), and then the judgement.” (Heb. 9:27).
The Jewish commentator Kimchi compares the present verse with Eccl. 9:10:
“God is certainly everywhere at all times… but the meaning of this phrase is, while the decree is not yet resolved upon: in a similar way the phrase, while He is near is to be explained, namely, while He permits His glory to rest upon the Temple.” -Iben Ezra
We must remember that at the time of this prophecy Israel (Judah) was yet to be taken into Babylonian captivity.
Everyone, the Jew first and also the nations, must receive the saving work of the Messiah and walk in, learn from Him.
“For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:” -Psalm 95:7-8 (KJV)
Isaiah speaks of the “Acceptable year of our Lord”, and Luke quotes the same phrase from Isaiah 61:2 (Luke 4:19). That “Acceptable year” remains in time and space through the redemptive work of the Messiah and until the return of the Messiah. However, those who refuse God’s offer of acceptance and wilfully resist Him until the “Acceptable year” reaches its goal, will find themselves refusing Him on their way into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15).
Isa 55:7 Ya’azo rasa darco Let the wicked forsake his way, veiysh and the man aven of idolatrous machshevotav thoughts, plans, inventions; veyashov and return to Hashem (YHVH: Mercy), viyrachameihu and He will have compassion (love deeply, show mercy to) on him, ve’el-Eloheiynu and to our God, kiy-yarbeh lisloach for He will greatly pardon, forgive.
“Let the wicked forsake his way of wickedness, and the man of violence his thoughts, and let him return to the worship of the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and into the fear of our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
We note that the “wickedness” of humanity is related to the “idolatrous thoughts” of humanity. In fact, idolatry is the root of all sin. Yaakov the brother of Yeshua puts it this way:
“But each one is tempted when he is dragged away and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is full grown, it brings forth death.” -Yaakov (James) 1:14-15 (TLV)
“Return to HaShem (Mercy), and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will greatly pardon.” As is constantly the case, God opens His arms wide to receive the returning one. Yeshua’s mashal (parable) of the returning son is one of the best examples of How great the compassion of God is toward all who would humbly return to Him (Luke 15:11-32).
We can see that the “way” of the wicked and the “thoughts” of the wicked are intrinsically linked, distinct and inseparable. When we walk in God’s grace our actions are the fruit of thoughts that echo that grace, however, when we despise and spurn God’s love our actions are the fruit of our own fallen thoughts.
Isa 55:8 Kiy lo machshevotay For my thoughts, plans, inventions, are not machshevoteiychem your thoughts, plans, inventions; velo darcheiychem neither are your ways derachay My ways, neum declares Hashem (YHVH: Mercy).
This verse beautifully juxtaposes God’s thoughts and actions against the thoughts and actions of fallen (sin affected) humanity.
“The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” -Genesis 6:5 (NIV)
“The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
When the Hebrew text speaks of machashebet “thought, invention, purpose,” it is speaking of that which comes from the core being “lev” heart. The Hebrew lev (heart) is the point at which all other aspects of human existence converge. Therefore, “thought” in this context applies to the will and in particular to the sin affected will which in Hebrew is known as yetzer ha-ra (the inclination toward evil).
It is impossible for we as human beings to fully fathom the thoughts and actions of God except by the revelation of God’s Spirit and only to the extent which God allows us to understand Him from our point of view within time and space (sin affected). Thus, God has revealed Himself through His Word (D’var), both written (Scripture) and living (Messiah).
Having said this, the present verse is not only a statement of fact it is also an invitation to the sin affected human being to receive the thoughts and ways of God as far as they are available to each person through Messiah. This happens when we forsake our idolatrous thoughts and their related actions and instead turn to Mercy Himself in order to receive His Spirit, Who in turn through right thinking, births right action in us. One practical outworking of this is seen in the diligent, Holy Spirit filled study of His Word (Scripture).
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Messiah loved the church and gave Himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to Himself as a radiant community of faith, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” -Ephesians 5:25-27
“I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice—holy, acceptable to God—which is your spiritual service. 2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” -Romans 12:1-2 (TLV)
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Messiah Yeshua:” -Philippians 2:5
Isa 55:9 Kiy gavehu shamayim For as the heavens are higher (exalted) meiaretz than (from) the earth, kein gavehu derachay so are My ways higher (exalted) midarcheiychem than (from) your ways umachshevotay and My thoughts, plans, inventions machshevoteiychem than (from) your thoughts, plans, inventions.
“Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
8 They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do?
They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know?
9 Their measure is longer than the earth
and wider than the sea.” -Job 11:7-9 (NIV)
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.” -Psalm 103:11 (NASB)
One of the reasons God’s thoughts and plans are beyond human understanding is that His thoughts and actions are intrinsically connected to His lovingkindness, where His nature is selfless love, human nature exhibits selfish desire.
“God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent;
Has He said, and will He not do it?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” -Numbers 23:19 (NASB)
One of the reasons God’s ways are beyond human understanding is that He is unable to lie. We as human beings on the other hand are inclined to lie when it suits our purposes.
“Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,
Or as His counsellor has informed Him?
With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding?
And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge
And informed Him of the way of understanding?” -Isaiah 40:13-14 (NASB)
These rhetorical questions from earlier in the scroll of Isaiah illuminate the irony in humanity’s pretentious claims to deity. At the heart of the matter we find that it is the nature of God that sets Him apart in every way. Therefore, His thoughts, inventions, purposes, and His actions, paths, and ways are higher. He offers to impart His nature to us through His Messiah and by His Spirit but first we must acknowledge that His thoughts and ways are beyond our understanding.
The Nature of God
1. Self-Existing (uncreated, eternal)
2. Self-sufficient (Reliant on nothing)
3. Spirit (Unseen)
4. Love (God defines love)
5. Immutable (unchanging)
6. Omniscient (All knowing)
7. Omnipotent (All powerful)
8. Omnipresent (All present)
9. Truth (He cannot lie)
10. Sovereign (He Rules over all things)
11. Holy (There is none like Him)
In Messiah we are filled with His Spirit and reflect His nature but devoid of Messiah human beings are unable to truly comprehend or reflect His nature. Of course aspects of His nature are seen even in fallen humanity because of the common grace that allows us to seek Him in our sinful state. However, this common grace has a set limit, following which only those who have received God’s saving grace will enjoy an eternity of dwelling within the manifest presence of His good nature.
Isa 55:10 “Kiy ka’asher yeireid For as the coming down of hageshem the rain vehasheleg and the snow min-hashamayim from the heavens ve’shamah and there lo yashuv do not return kiy until they hirvah satiate, satisfy the thirst of et-haaretz the earth (land), veholiydah and it brings forth vehitzmiychah and sprouts, venatan and gives zera seed lazoreia to the sower velechem and bread laocheil to the eater,
“He sends forth His word and melts them;
He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow.
19 He declares His words to Jacob,
His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any nation;
And as for His ordinances, they have not known them.
Praise the Lord!” - Psalm 147:18-20 (NASB)
In beautiful poetic form the psalmist connects the flowing waters to the words and instructions of God to Jacob (Israel). The Word of the Lord being Messiah Yeshua (John 1), Who has come from the heavens:
“No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. 14 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” -John 3:13-15 (NASB)
Messiah, like the waters of the heavens, comes and does not return (precipitation) until He has accomplished His purpose of satisfying the spiritual thirst of those who live on earth and seeding in them the fruit of redemption. Through His death and resurrection He offers water (The Holy Spirit) to the thirsty soil of the human soul.
“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Yeshua stood up and cried out loudly, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture says, ‘out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now He said this about the Ruach, whom those who trusted in Him were going to receive; for the Ruach was not yet given, since Yeshua was not yet glorified.” -John 7:37-39 (TLV)
A careful reading of John 4:5-38 shows a correlation between the words of Isaiah 55 and the complete dialogue Yeshua engaged in with the Samaritan woman and the disciples and people of the village of Sychar (Shechem).
“Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” -Hosea 6:3 (ESV)
Isa 55:11 Kein yihyeh So will it come to pass that Devariy My Word asher yeitzei which goes out mipiy from My mouth; lo-yashuv will not return eiliy to Me reiykam void, empty, vainly, kiy for im-asah rather, it will accomplish, make, fashion (asah, from something) that which chafatztiy I delight in, desire, am pleased with, take pleasure in, vehitzliyach and will rush, advance, prosper, succeed in asher that for which shelachtiyv I sent it.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword—piercing right through to a separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” -Hebrews 4:12 (TLV)
In one sense the word is that of the Torah, prophets and writings, and as Yeshua says “Amen, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or serif shall ever pass away from the Torah until all things come to pass.” (Matthew 5:18) Ultimately however, Messiah is the Word that goes out from the mouth of God (John 1:11-18). He comes to water the spiritual desert of Israel’s soul, and in turn the spiritual thirst of humanity. Due to the sinful practices of Israel God would withdraw His Word from her “for a brief moment”.
“Behold, days are coming”
—declares my Lord Adonai--
“when I will send a famine on the land
—not a famine of bread
nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of Adonai.” -Amos 8:11 (TLV)
However, as we came to understand from the previous chapter, He will not leave her forsaken:
“For a brief moment I deserted you,
but I will regather you with great compassion.” -Isaiah 54:7 (TLV)
Thus, the living Word of God Yeshua the King Messiah will accomplish, make, fashion that which God delights in, desires, and is pleased with, and takes pleasure in, that is the redemption of the repentant: He will rush, advance, prosper, succeed in that for which God sent Him. He will not return to God void but will return having seeded a harvest of everlasting fruit.
In hindsight we see that this is exactly what Yeshua has done and like the precipitating rains of the heavens He has returned to the heavens and has rained down the Spirit of the Father and the Son on all who have received Him.
Isa 55:12 “Kiy vesimchah For in joy (gladness) tetzeiu you will go out uveshalom and in peace, wholeness, well-being tuvalun be led forth; hehariym the mountains vehagevaot and the hills yiftzechu will break out, burst forth lifneiychem before your faces rinah in a shrill ringing cry, vechol-atzeiy and all the trees hasadeih of the field yimchau-chaf will clap their hands.
First this is a description of Israel’s return from exile in Babylon (Ezra 1:3), and further still, from every exile subsequent to that. Second, it is a description of the spread of the Gospel of the Messiah from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth and then back to Jerusalem to await His return.
The exultant creation described here shows the prophet’s view of an intrinsic connection between the restoration of Israel and humanity, and the restoration of the created order.
“For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” -Romans 8:19-21 (TLV)
Isa 55:13 Tachat Instead of hana’atzitz the thorn-bush ya’aleh verush a cypress will come up; vetachat and instead of hasirpad the brier (desert nettle) ya’aleh hadas the myrtle will come up; vehayah and it will come to pass la’YHVH to HaShem (Mercy), leshem for a name leot for a miraculous sign olam everlasting lo never yikareit cut off.”
“Instead of the wicked the righteous shall rise up, and instead of sinners shall rise up those that fear sin: and it shall be before the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign, that shall not cease.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
The Targum rightly understands the thorn-bush and brier to represent the wicked and sinners, and the cypress and myrtle to represent the righteous and those who fear God.
The plants chosen to reflect the incredible transformation that will take place in the return of Israel both to the land and to the Lord through Messiah, have an important symbolic meaning.
The thorn-bush and the brier are symbols of satanic barbs (2 Corinthians 12:6-8), death, drought, and fruitlessness. They are good only for throwing on the fire. This brings to mind the warning spoken to Israel by Yochanan the Immerser:
“The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” -Matthew 3:10 (NIV)
Likewise Yeshua warned:
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” -Matthew 7:15-20 (NIV)
The good news is that in the day of Israel’s corporate spiritual redemption (Romans 11:25), cypress and myrtle will be found in place of thorn-bushes and briers. This is a picture of spiritual transformation.
In ancient Israel the cypress (being an evergreen) represented healing, uprightness, eternal life. It is a long living tree that is able to endure harsh climates and poor soil. Biblically trees are used as symbols of kingdoms and in particular the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 17:22-24) sees David’s Messianic dynasty symbolised in a cedar tree that the nations (birds) will shelter in. We see this same imagery used in Yeshua’s mashal (parable) where He makes a drash on Ezekiel’s prophecy concerning the kingdom of God (Mark 4:30-32). There is an obvious correlation to the present passage.
The myrtle is a slow growing fragrant tree with a beautiful white blossom. It is a deciduous shrub, always green (though not an evergreen), and has a strong root system. Even when it is cut to a stump, it’s roots cause it to sprout again. There are many parallels to be drawn with the journey of Israel (ethnic, religious) and the walk of a Messiah follower. Israel in her redeemed and transformed state will be always green, fragrant with the sweet salvation of the Gospel, rooted deeply on the mountain of the Lord and flowering with the majesty of God.
This portion of Isaiah leaves us with a hopeful picture of the future restored remnant of Israel and those nations who will come to her in Messiah to be joined with her in the worship of Hashem the God of Israel. Just as the many miracles performed by God on Israel’s behalf became signs to the nations, so too this great miracle of redemption and restoration will be a sign. One that will never be cut off. This of course is an allusion to the redemptive act of Messiah and the resulting spiritual transformation of Israel (ethnic, religious) in the last days following the fullness of the nations (Romans 11:25).
© 2019 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
The misuse of a symbol does not define it. It simply illuminates the motivation of the user.
Questions for consideration:
1. What is the origin of the Star of David?
Firstly it is important to understand that Jews do not call the symbol in question the Star of David. This is a name given to it because of its association with the Jewish people. Jews call this symbol “Magen David”, literally, “Shield of David”.
Secondly, many Christian conspiracy theorists use this symbol to support their theory that Jews as a whole practice witchcraft and are the enemies of God. They say that because the Mekubbalim (Practitioners of Kabbalah) and Freemason movements use this symbol, that it is therefore a symbol of Satan, and that those who use it are subject to him. Hitler was able to use this same underlying anti-Semitic bias to vilify and literally label the Jewish people with the so called Star of David during the Second World War.
If you were to search the internet, you would find numerous results alluding to the Star of David as being an occult symbol. Those who lack discernment, consider these articles to convey the truth, they fail to understand that the internet, like the library and the universal visual media, is a place of information and that truth and information are not synonymous.
Thirdly, those who see the Star of David as being an occult symbol often attach power to it. Making it a type of occult talisman. This is the result of poor theology that attaches spiritual power to inanimate objects. In both Biblical Judaism and Christianity this is known as witchcraft.
Each of these perspectives form a firm foundation for anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism (synonymous terms).
So what is the origin of this symbol?
The short answer is, “Nobody can be certain”. A number of ancient eastern cultures used this symbol, all for different reasons and all understanding it in different ways. There is no explicit evidence showing why, how or what this symbol was used for within ancient Judaism. There are in fact only positive and negative explanations based on legend and these are propagated by conjecture alone.
The earliest piece of archaeological evidence to date, linking the Magen David to the Jewish people, is a carving on an ancient 6th Century BCE (approx. 550 years prior to the birth of Messiah) Synagogue in northern Israel. The carving depicts a victorious Babylonian ruler and a defeated king of Judah with a Magen David above his head. We can only guess at its meaning, however, it is clearly not representing an amulet that holds spiritual power to defeat Israel’s enemies and is therefore unlikely to have been used as a means of practicing witchcraft or as a symbol representing occult belief. What is more likely is that in keeping with some of the rabbinical explanations, it is a symbol of God’s relationship to Israel and His present protection over Israel’s continued existence, even in the face of defeat and subjugation.
While it is true that practitioners of Kabbalah used this symbol, this was not until the teaching of Kabbalah emerged in the 12th century CE, some seventeen hundred and fifty years after the earliest Jewish connection to the symbol. It is also true that the symbol was subsequently used by Christian sects and Freemasons. However, the misuse of a symbol does not determine its meaning. For example, candles are used in a séance, should we not use candles? The cross was used for hundreds of years in relation to ancient idolatrous worship practices, long before the birth of Messiah, does that mean the cross is an occult symbol? The Freemasons misuse the Holy Name YHVH in their pictograms and symbolism, are we therefore not to continue to write God’s Holy name in our Torah scrolls? A curse on the idea! When we think this way we are allowing ourselves to come under bondage. We become superstitious and ironically, practitioners of the same witchcraft we accuse others of.
There are a wide range of rabbinical explanations regarding the Magen David and its meaning:
Some say that it was the symbol that adorned the shields of David’s army, others that it represents God’s relationship to humanity, one triangle pointing up representing man’s desire to connect with God and the other triangle pointing down showing God’s desire to connect with humanity. There are those who see the twelve tribes represented in the twelve lines that make up the border of the shape and those who see the six points as representing the six flames of the menorah with the centre space representing the seventh central flame. Still others, the Mekubbalim (Followers of Kabbalah) attribute mystical power to the symbol, however there is no explicit historical or archaeological support for this claim.
So what do we know for certain about the so called “Star of David”?
2. Is there Biblical support for the rabbinical method of Bible interpretation known as PaRDeS?
Firstly, PaRDeS is an acronym that describes the traditional rabbinical method of interpretation. P = P’shat (Surface: Plain meaning), R = Remez (Hint), D = Drash (Inquire: Comparative), S = Sod (Secret: Mystery). All subsequent interpretations are subject to the plain meaning. The word Pardes means Orchard or Garden and is a reference to paradise.
Secondly, there is no explicit Biblical instruction that gives a schematic for Bible interpretation. Those who claim therefore that Christianity’s Greco-Roman Schematic detailing exegesis, hermeneutics etc., is divinely appointed but that the rabbinical schematic of PaRDeS is not, are being intellectually dishonest. It is equally foolish to claim that textual criticism is more trustworthy than the traditional rabbinical method. It is the Torah that critiques us and not the other way around.
So, is there any implicit support for the rabbinical method within the texts of the Bible?
The P’shat or plain meaning is self-explanatory. There is no need to explain to a reader that the book means what it says. Therefore, there is no need to show evidence from the Bible that God intends for us to take it at face value relative to context, figurative, poetic and metaphorical language.
The first mention of the practice of examining the Scriptures in an exegetical way is in the book of Ezra the scribe.
The root “Darash (Drash)” is used specifically in relation to the Torah and therefore describes a practice of interpretation and an intention to walk according to that interpretation and teach it to others. This is the perfect example of what it means to make a Drash, or comparative teaching.
As Jews who follow Yeshua, we should look to Him and His disciples for evidence of the use of rabbinical interpretive method. If He doesn’t teach using the PaRDeS method, then why would we?
Let’s take a look at just a few of the many New Testament examples of PaRDeS found in the book of Matthew.
As stated earlier, every part of Scripture has a plain meaning, therefore P’shat is the basis for the subsequent methods of interpretation.
Matthew 2:15 - "Out of Egypt I called my son." This is a quote from Hosea 11:1 and is being applied to Yeshua by Matthew. If we read it to refer to the p’shat (plain meaning) of Hosea 11:1, we must interpret it to refer to Israel. However, Matthew, the disciple of Yeshua, divinely inspired by God, interprets it as a remez (hint) which is alluding to the Messiah King as God’s Son. This is just one of many examples of Matthew’s use of remez.
Matthew 18:18 - "... Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." This verse taken literally and out of context is often used by Christians to demand that spiritual powers submit to them. However, within the context of Matthew 18:14-18 the p’shat (plain meaning) refers to the practical application of principals concerning those who are sinning within the body of believers. Thus the plain meaning indicates a d'rash (comparative teaching) concerning the binding and loosing of our own actions according to Halakhah the way we walk (Yet another rabbinical teaching that Yeshua and His disciples applied to daily life).
Matthew 26:28 - "Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them saying, Drink from it all of you, This is my blood ..." If the figurative language here were taken literally it would not only violate the Torah commandment against consuming blood, but along with other verses concerning the eating of Yeshua's flesh (John 6:51-56), could be understood as teaching cannibalism. Yeshua explains to His disciples that it is the Spirit that produces the deeper understanding (John 6:63), and that His words are spirit and life. This is evidence of a sod (mystery) that cannot be gleaned from the p’shat (plain meaning) of the text. A concept that is illuminated through spiritual revelation alone and by no other means. This particular sod (Mystery) would be fully revealed following His death and resurrection.
So what can we conclude?
3. Can a Jewish person determine their tribe based on the month of their birth?
Firstly, no human being can determine their ethnicity or blood lineage based on the date of their birth. This idea is in fact an occult concept attached to Astrology.
In order for this to be viable, every member of a certain tribe would have to be born in the same month. My brothers and I are born in March, July and August respectively and yet are all descended from the same tribe of Israel. Likewise our children are all born in different months and yet are descended from the same tribe within Israel.
What can be determined by our birth date is the Torah portion read on the Shabbat closest to our birth. My Torah portion is Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1). As is customary, I chanted this portion at my bar-mitzvah in honour of its relationship to my birth. This method of assigning Torah portions is related to the modern annual Torah cycle, however the Torah cycle of the first century CE was triannual and therefore divided differently and assigned accordingly. Thus there is no connection here to tribal affiliation.
4. I have heard the name Yahashua used, what does it mean?
Firstly, this name and names like it are prolifically used, by ill-informed Messianic Gentile Bible teachers. They are a vain attempt to unite the Holy Name with the Name of Yeshua. However, in doing so they are in fact desecrating both names.
Linguistically speaking the combining of the names YHVH and YeSHuA is equivalent to the combining of the English names JaCoB and JuLia, and concluding that the name for the unified couple must be JauLCoBia.
A number of modern bible teachers and Christian/Messianic/Hebrew Roots leaders claim that the name Yahshua/Yahashuah is the correct pronunciation of the Holy Name and or the name of the Messiah and the Holy Name combined. This name is said to combine the names YHVH and Yeshua/Yehoshua (Jesus). I can only surmise that these individuals have no real understanding of the Hebrew language.
Each of the Hebrew proper nouns in question has an entirely different 3 Character Hebrew root form: YHH verses YSA. They are therefore incompatible linguistically speaking. Add to this that the vav in Yeshua is a vowel marker and the vav in YHVH is a consonant and we are even further from any possibility of a legitimate argument for combining the two names. The Hebrew language does not allow for the contraction of these names, it is linguistically incorrect to join them and it makes a mockery of both names to do so.
In fact, the real root of this teaching regarding the so called divine name Yahashua is not the Holy Spirit but the spirit of occult. It is an attempt by the enemy Ha-Satan to defile the minds and mouths of followers of Messiah.
The blasphemous name, “Yahshuah,” was originally found in the works of Athanasius Kirchner, Johann Baptist Grossschedel (1619), a Jesuit Christian Occultist. It is also found in subsequent esoteric/occult sources from the Renaissance period.
The blasphemous name, “Yahshua,” is the progeny of the more recent Sacred Name movement. The English spelling Yahshua originates at least as early as 1950 from associated teachings dated as early as the 1930’s.
This is a misguided attempt to unify the names Yeshua and YHVH, without due consideration being given to the linguistic nature of this contraction. The irony is that in attempting to show Yeshua as divine by uniting His name with YHVH, they have in fact impugned His nature as the fully G-d and fully man Messiah of Israel.
As I have said previously, Hebrew linguistics do not allow for the combining of the unrelated Hebrew nouns “YeSuA” and “YHVH”, therefore, "Yahshua" is a nonsense. Furthermore, this name is not attested to in antiquity or Scripture, unlike the names “Elohiym”, “YHVH”, "Yehoshua" (Joshua) and Yeshua (Jesus).
The Sacred name cult teaches that the use of the name, “Yahshua,”—which is in fact a nonsense and not a name at all—will aid a person’s salvation. This is in direct contradiction to the teachings of Scripture and makes the use of this blasphemous name a form of witchcraft.
A secret knowledge of a sacred name used as a tool for our salvation can only be motivated by our own efforts to save ourselves, it spits in the face of grace and denies the power of Yeshua’s saving sacrificial death. Worse still, those who use it often consider themselves, “The true Church,” thus denying the salvation of numerous other Christians throughout the world. Any effort we view as being necessary on our part for earning salvation is a deception which teaches works based salvation and therefore contradicts the Gospel of Messiah.
“For by grace you are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any human being should boast.” –Ephesians 2:8-9
In conclusion I give this warning to those who are using these names and teaching others to do the same:
”You shalt not take the name (Ha-Shem) of the L-rd (יהוה) your G-d in vain; for the L-rd (יהוה)will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain.” –Shemot/Exodus 20:7
© Yaakov Brown 2017
“That which God knows to be a future certainty He reveals to we who are uncertain of the future through repetition.”
The blessings or prophetic words Jacob pronounces over his sons while on his death bed are probably best defined as future character descriptions of the tribes that will bear their names. While the sons are addressed according to their own actions, they are not to be the recipients of the outworking of those actions. The closest parallel to this in the Tanakh (OT) is Deuteronomy 33, where Moses blesses most of the tribes of Israel prior to his death and before Israel enters the Promised Land.
The word play and phrasings of Jacob’s prophetic blessing are difficult to convey in English. Some of the Hebrew is cryptic and rare in places and includes some unusual and ancient divine names.
The sayings are ordered according to the tribal mothers Leah, Zilpah, Bilhah, Rachel. The first four tribes of Leah appear in birth order, as do the sons of Rachel. However, the sons of the Handmaidens, who are previously listed in chronology through the Genesis narrative, are here listed in the alternate order of Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher and Naphtali. In fact each of the twelve sons of Jacob are listed according to the roles they will play in the strengthening of the nation of Israel.
Gen 49:1 And Yaakov (Follower) called to his sons, and said, “Gather yourselves together, so that I may tell you asher-yik’ra etchem what you will encounter in the latter ha-yamiym days (years).
Yaakov, the follower of HaShem, musters the last of his energy and calls his sons. He asks them to gather together because although he will pronounce prophetic words specific to each of them, he wants the brothers to understand that their futures are intrinsically linked. The suffering of one will be the suffering of another, and the success of one will be the prosperity of another. Israel’s tribes are to be echad (a complex and indivisible unity).
The phrase “asher-yik’ra etchem” translates literally as, “what will call to you”. There is a subtle difference between the root קרה and the root קרא which is used here. The former means “befall”, the latter, “call”. In one sense, the words that Jacob is about to pronounce are the respective callings of each tribe.
The phrase “b’chariyt ha-mayim” speaks of days/years far beyond the brothers’ own lifespans. With the benefit of hindsight we’re able to see that the words of Jacob reach beyond the land of Egypt, and while partially fulfilled in Israel’s future history within the land of Israel, they reach still further, even beyond our own years.
Concerning the phrase “b’chariyt ha-mayim” the orthodox commentator Sforno writes:
“At the end of the period allocated to life on earth as we know it. Yaakov speaks of the arrival of the Messiah which will signify the end of existence of the nations that oppose God and the kingdom of God on earth… Yaakov speaks of the time frame he has in mind as the one when Shiloh will arrive, the one to whom nations will pay homage.”
Sforno understands “Shiloh”, which means “Tranquillity, rest, belonging”, to be a name for the future King Messiah.
Rashi agrees, and explains that “the End Days” refers to the Messianic age. He goes on to say, in accordance with the Midrash, that “Jacob wished to tell his children when Messiah would come”.
Gen 49:2 Gather yourselves together, v’shemu and hear, receive, obey, you sons of Yaakov (Follower); v’shemu and hear, receive, and be in obedience to Yisrael (Overcomes in God) your father.
Akeidat Yitzchak asks, “Why does Jacob seem to commence with the blessing twice…?”
We know that a thing is repeated in the Torah in order to show the reader that the matter is firmly established. That which God knows to be a future certainty He reveals to we who are uncertain of the future through repetition. Thus the repetition of Jacob’s call to gather and the use of the names Yaakov and Yisrael are informing us that what is to follow is firmly established.
Specifically, the gathering of Israel is firmly established, both at the time of Jacob’s blessing and in the last days. Israel’s ability to hear from God and act in obedience to Him is also firmly established with the repetition of the Hebrew “v’shemu”: which is first used in implicit reference to hearing from God and subsequently used in explicit reference to obeying the words of the patriarch Jacob. The sons of Jacob are sons of a follower: that is, one who was once a follower who wrestled in relationship with HaShem and as a result of yielding to Hashem has now become one who overcomes in God. Thus the sons will also become those who overcome in God through Mashiyach (Messiah). Therefore, they are being called as obedient followers and as victorious overcomers in God’s redemptive plan for Israel and for humanity.
Jacob’s words are prophetic blessing. But he is not a fortune teller. Prophecy has more to do with relationship than it does with power, and it has nothing to do with men manipulating spiritual forces. God has not imbued Jacob with some metaphysical gift for the purpose of conjuring up futures, to the contrary, Jacob is relaying the observations of God. God, in intimate relationship with Jacob, has shared with Jacob that which has already happened outside of time and space. Jacob is not making predictions, he is making what he knows to be statements of future fact.
Gen 49:3 Reuven (Behold/Now a son), you are my firstborn, my strength, and beginning of my substance, excellent, exalted, and superior, fierce: Gen 49:4 Unstable as water, not to remain; because you aliyat went up, lying on your father's bed; then you cholal’ta defiled, profaned, desecrated: to my bed, you alah went up.
“Reuben, my son, I did not rebuke you all these years so that you should not leave me and stay with my brother Esau” –Sifre Devarim
Jacob begins his words over Reuben by stating that which once belonged to him: 1.) The blessing and portion of the firstborn 2.) The role of priest [Passed from Patriarch to Patriarch, an obligation of the firstborn which was first despised by Esau] 3.) The kingship [Strong, exalted, superior]. Each of these would now be given to the sons Whom God had chosen: The rights of the firstborn would go to Joseph and his sons, the priesthood would go to Levi (because his tribe would not participate in the sin of the Golden Calf), and Judah would become the tribe from whom Israel would receive her kings, and ultimately, the King Messiah.
“But because you sinned my son, the birth right is given to Joseph, the kingship to Judah and the priesthood to Levi” –Targum Yonatan
The idiom “Unstable as water” seems to imply fast-flowing water and or the waters of the body. In other words, Reuben lacked self-control, rushing to sin sexually with Bilhah (Gen. 35:22), his father’s wife.
Though once the firstborn head, the tribe of Reuben has left little mark in Israel’s Biblical history. Moses later calls Reuben “Small and in danger of extinction” (Deut. 33:6), and the song of Deborah the prophetess rebukes Reuben for their indecision (Judges 5:15-16; ref. Gen 42:36-38).
While the p’shat (plain meaning) of the text refers to the act of sexual sin committed by Reuben, the rabbis interpret a remez (hint) alluding to spiritual defilement. This is in part due to the repetition of the Hebrew Aliyah, to ascend which is often used in connection with Israel’s ascent to Jerusalem for the regalim, aliyot festivals (moadim).
“You did defile Him (Holy spirit) Who used to ascend my bed.” –Daat Zkenim
Sforno writes, “Alternatively, Yaakov may have referred to Reuven’s act being a desecration of God’s honour.”
“The sons of Reuven the firstborn of Yisrael—he was the firstborn, but when he defiled his father’s bed, his birth right was given to the sons of Yosef son of Yisrael—so he is not reckoned as the firstborn in the genealogical record.” -1 Chronicles 5:1
Gen 49:5 Shimon (Heard) and Levi (Joined) are brothers; instruments of chamas cruelty, injustice: m’ceirotei’hem swords stabbing (habitation).
Having explained why Reuben failed to inherit the birth right Jacob now makes it clear that the sons who would otherwise have been next in line are also unworthy of inheriting positions of leadership in Israel. The Levites would of course become priests and servants of God but they would not have authority over the nation. In fact they depended on the rest of the tribes for their livelihood.
Simeon and Levi are coupled together because they had heard (Shimon) of what had been done to their sister and had joined (Levi) together in violent vengeance rather than awaiting just recompense (Gen. 34). They were also instigators of the sale of Joseph.
The meaning of the Hebrew “mekerah” is debated. However, its literal meaning is “swords, weapons”. Thus it’s likely that the Torah intends to convey the idea of the use of swords and violence as a way of life. Yeshua uses this same idiom when He says, “Those who make the sword their way of life will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). This should not be confused with self-defence or just warfare, which the Bible clearly teaches are acceptable expressions of violence.
The Stone Chumash translates the last phrase as, “their weaponry is a stolen craft”.
Rashi explains that violence was a trait they had stolen from Esau because it was he who lived by the sword and not his brother Jacob (Genesis 27:40).
Gen 49:6 Don’t enter into their secret council my nefesh (Soul, life); or into their assembly, to join my honour to them: because in their b’afam flaring nostrils (anger) they killed a man, and in their delight they cut an ox.
Wicked actions are often planned in secret. A righteous man should not associate with men who live a lifestyle of uncontrolled violence.
The last phrase is interpreted literally by Rambam to mean that they slaughtered the cattle of Shekhem. Rashi interprets it figuratively of Joseph (Simeon and Levi being instrumental in harming him), who he likens to a strong ox.
“Do not enter the path of the wicked
or walk in the way of evil people.” –Proverbs 4:14
Gen 49:7 Cursed be their nostrils (anger), because it was fierce; and their wrath was excessive: I will divide them in Yaakov, and scatter them in Yisrael.
We note that Jacob does not curse his sons, rather he curses their sin.
The curse is against a lifestyle of perpetual and unjust violence. Yaakov cannot abide cruelty, nor does he want Israel to be infected with it.
The division and scattering probably refers to Simeon’s absorption into Judah and Levi’s being redefined as a priestly tribe, without land of its own (Deut. 18:1-2).
Gen 49:8 Yehudah (Praise), you who your brothers shall praise: your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's children will bow down before you.
With regard to the kingly tribe of Judah the Midrash says that all his brothers will chose to call themselves Yehudi (Jews) rather than by their own tribal names. One Biblical example of this is the book of Esther, where Mordechai is known as a Yehudi (Jew) even though he was from the tribe of Benjamin. Of course with regard to the modern Jewish people, all the tribes have become known as Jews. This came about after the return from the second exile when all the tribes merged under the remnant of Judah who had remained in the land. Thus all the tribes of Israel call themselves Yehudi (Jews) to this day.
Chiddushei HaRim says that the reason for Judah being honoured was the motivation of Leah when naming him. She had given Judah his name as a way of expressing her gratitude to God for having received more than her share of children (Gen. 29:35).
Gen 49:9 A lion’s cub Yehudah (Praise): from the prey, my son, you are aliyat gone up: he bent down and stretched himself out as a lion, and as a mature lion; who shall rouse him up?
We note that whereas Reuben went up aliyat to sin, Judah will go up aliyat in victory over his enemies.
The phrase concerning Judah’s victory over his prey is interpreted by Tur to refer prophetically to David’s killing of a lion and a bear (1 Samuel 17:34).
Ultimately Judah’s victory refers to the King Messiah Who, having been born of Judah, will defeat ha-Satan and take hold of the keys of mot (death) sheol (holding place of the dead), triumphing in resurrected glory and redeeming Israel and the nations.
Gen 49:10 The scepter shall not depart from Yehudah (Praise), nor a lawgiver (Scribe, governor) from between his feet (euphemism for reproduction), until Shiloh (Messiah, rest, tranquillity) comes; and to Him (Shiloh) the yik’hat gathering, cleansing, purging of the peoples.
“The rule of Israel shall not depart from Judah nor will one depart who will challenge Israel to keep God’s Instruction/Law (Such as Moses, the prophets, being literally present) and stay close to her kings, until the Messiah (Shiloh: rest, tranquillity) comes. And to Him (Shiloh, the Messiah), shall be the purging, cleansing, gathering of the peoples.” –Paraphrase by author
“Until the Messiah comes to Whom the kingdom belongs”-Onkelos
The Hebrew “Shiloh” is explained by the Midrash as a composite of Shai (Gift) and Lo (him), a reference to the King Messiah to Whom all nations will bring gifts.
There can be no doubt that this passage is saying that in the future, when the Messiah (Shiloh) will come, Israel’s kings, descended from Judah, will cease to reign. Therefore, the Messiah had to have come in the first century CE. And if there are those among our people who are awaiting Him still, they await His second coming.
Gen 49:11 Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: Gen 49:12 His eyes made dull with wine, and his teeth (sharpness) white (pale) from milk.
Shiloh (The Messiah: rest, tranquillity) is the subject of these verses.
The vine of Israel is HaShem. Meaning that it is from HaShem that Israel receives her fruitfulness. Likewise, Shiloh (The Messiah) will tether His humble ministry (ass’s colt) to the vine of HaShem, completely reliant on God and echad (one) with His Father’s purpose.
The eyes are the window to the inner man, they offer insight to the one who views them and they make observations and give vision to the one who possesses them. The eyes of Shiloh will be burdened and made dull with the weight of the sins of humanity.
“He appointed Him sin, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” –2 Corinthians 5:21
Rabbi Ovadiah Sforno (16th century) says that the King Messiah rides an ass rather than a horse because it is God Who wages the wars by which He (King Messiah) comes to reign, “And He will become King in peace”.
“Rejoice greatly, daughter of Tziyon (Parched Land)!
Shout, daughter of Yerushalayim (Flood of Peace)!
Now, your King is coming to you,
a righteous one bringing salvation.
He is lowly, riding on a donkey--
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” –Zechariah 9:9
“Go into the village before you. Right away, you’ll find a donkey tied up and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to Me.” –Yeshua [Matthew 21:2] (TLV)
Wine is a symbol of prosperity and sweetness. And there is certainly some sense of the prosperity and fruitfulness of the vines of Israel, Judah and specifically Shiloh (The Messiah) in the abundance of wine mentioned here. However, the fruit of the vine is also a representation of the life blood. During the Passover Seder we drop that life blood on our plates and in the Yemenite tradition we shout “Blood, blood, blood, I am saved by the blood of the (Pesach) Lamb!”
The juice of the grape is called blood by the Apocryphal writings of Sirach:
"The principal things for the whole use of man's life are water, fire, iron, and salt, flour of wheat, honey, milk, and the blood of the grape, and oil, and clothing.'' –Sirach 39:26
"He stretched out his hand to the cup, and poured of the blood of the grape, he poured out at the foot of the altar a sweet smelling savour unto the most high King of all.'' –Sirach 50:15
When blood remains in the body it is the life of a man, for “the life is in the blood”(Leviticus 17:11). But when that blood is poured out, it is loss of like, death, sacrifice, atonement. In these verses we read that the Messiah will attach His donkey colt to the choice vine of Israel, meaning He will be born of God and of the Jewish people and His life blood is intrinsically linked to both God and the nation of Israel. Yeshua is the vine, we are the branches (John 15:5). He washes His garment in the blood of His own sacrificial death, His eyes made bloodshot (dull) with the cup (wine) of His suffering, for the sake of His people’s spiritual prosperity, His teeth milk white, the white washed colour of the tomb where He would lie, albeit temporarily.
“Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” –Luke 22:42
“His teeth white from milk” infers strong bones from childhood, and in particular, a pure voice, both seen and heard: the Hebrew chalav (milk, dairy) being figuratively linked to sucking, like the nursing child. However, it’s also possible that this phrase is a metaphor regarding the pallor of a dying man’s skin.
White is also a symbol of purity and holiness. Thus the words of Messiah’s (Shiloh’s) mouth are to be white, without sin, pure, holy, and faultless.
Gen 49:13 Zebulun (Exalted) at the coastline of the sea will dwell; and he shall be a coastal shelter for ships; and his border upon Zidon (Hunting/fishing).
Having established the position of Judah and Israel’s kings, Jacob now gives Zebulun precedence over Issachar, despite the fact that Issachar is the older of the two. It seems that Jacob abandons the birth order for a progression of blessing that addresses the need to provision Israel. Therefore, following the appointing of the kingly tribe (Judah) he now assigns blessing to the hunter (Zebulun), the labourer (Issachar) and so on.
Zebulun’s role as sea fearing merchant would see his territory reach from Yam Kinneret (Galilee) to the Mediterranean and as far north as Zidon near the border of Northern Israel and Lebanon (Joshua 19:10-15).
Gen 49:14 Yissaschar (Wages, recompense: figuratively: labourer) is a strong boned ass, he lies down between two boundaries: Gen 49:15 And he saw that comfort was good, and the land pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became an indentured labourer.
The name Issachar seems to be a play on words “Ish sakhar”, literally “man hired”.
The indentured servant portion of this pronouncement may refer to Issachar’s subjugation under the Canaanites in the northern regions (Judges 1:3), although the text seems to infer that Issachar will willingly serve as a labourer for the sake of Israel.
Gen 49:16 Dan (Judge) shall yadin judge his people, as one of the tribes of Yisrael (Overcomes in God). Gen 49:17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that bites the horse’s heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.
Jacob having finished blessing the six sons of Leah, now goes on to the oldest son born to Bilhah, Rachel’s maidservant. The sons of Rachel are left for last because they are favoured by Jacob above his other sons.
Rabbinical commentary interprets Samson as the judge of Dan who will be like a viper. The use of the serpent metaphor denotes wisdom or cunning rather than opposition to God e.g. “Be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
“An adder in the path, that bites the horse’s heels, so that his rider shall fall backward” is said by both Rashi and Rambam, to be an allegory of Samson’s last act, the destruction of the Philistine temple and the subsequent deaths of 3000 of Israel’s enemies (Judges 16:29).
Gen 49:18 I have waited for Your salvation (Yeshua), O HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
This verse is the only verse in Genesis 49 that uses the Holy Name YHVH. It seems unattached to both the preceding blessing and the blessing that follows. It may be a sort of intermission, where Jacob himself is calling on the Name of the Lord and as he approaches death is acknowledging the mercy and salvation he has received. This phrase is replicated almost word for word in Psalm 119:166.
However, it’s possible that this line is a phrase attributed to Samson (Like the sun). In his last moments, through true repentance (not selfish vengeance), Samson calls on God for Salvation and the strength to overcome the enemies of HaShem and of his people Israel. In a very real sense Samson is redeemed through Yeshua long before Yeshua’s birth into time and space.
Gen 49:19 Gad (Troop), g’dud a troop that will be y’gudenu overcome: but he shall yagid invade and overcome in the end.
The root from which Gad derives his name is used repeatedly in this verse to show that the tribe will journey from armed conflict to armed conflict until the final day when they will overcome in Messiah.
Gad is the oldest son of Zilpah and his tribal allotment was on the east of the Jordan. Gad vowed to support the other tribes in conquering the land of Israel and fought the Canaanites valiantly, not ceasing until the land was overcome, at which time they returned to their own allotment on the east of the Jordan. Thus the tribe of Gad is known for its warrior spirit and loyalty to the people of Israel.
Gen 49:20 From Asher (Happy) comes sh’meinah rich/fat lechem food/bread, and he shall give royal delicacies.
“Asher’s land will be so rich in olive groves that it will flow with oil like a fountain” –Rashi
The plain meaning is that kings of both Israel and foreign lands will desire the delicacies grown in the tribal land of Asher.
Gen 49:21 Naphtali (Wrestling) is a deer let loose: he gives sayings of beauty.
Naphtali is the last of the sons of the maidservants, he is Bilhah’s youngest son.
“A deer let loose” denotes swiftness. Naphtali is said to have been swift in battle during the time of Deborah the judge (Judges 4).
The sayings of beauty attributed to Naphtali are said to be given in praise of God for the swiftly growing vegetation of his territory, and in praise of the Lord for His hand in enabling Naphtali to be swift in battle.
Gen 49:22 Son of fruitfulness Yosef (YHVH: Mercy adds) a son fruitful upon the ground near an eye/fountain; daughters run over a wall:
It is here that the rabbis fall short, offering only trite analogies and desperate explanations. The plain meaning is full of remez (hints) that reveal a sod (mystery) of great consequence.
The plain meaning likens Joseph to a fruitful vine growing by an eye of the earth, that is a natural well or fountain of mayim chayim (waters living). This links Joseph (a figure for the coming Messiah) to Shiloh (A name for the Messiah), Who tethers His donkey colt to the vine. The living waters strengthen the fruitful vine of HaShem and Mercy adds (Joseph) redemption through blood (garments washed in wine), the offering of the innocent life of Shiloh and gifting the people with tranquillity and rest (Shiloh), a gift to him (Israel).
Gen 49:23 Now embittering him greatly and hating him my ba’alei husband/lord, they shot him with arrows:
Again, the rabbis fall short, arguing over who is more righteous or worthy to be king, Judah or Joseph. They miss the obvious, that the description, while in its plain sense refers to the mistreatment of Joseph, is none the less prophetic of the Messiah (Shiloh), to Whom the previous verse attaches itself.
“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 (cf. John 19:34, 37; Rev. 1:7) [TLV]
Gen 49:24 But his bow dwells in strength, and supple arms, hands made strong from the hand of the Mighty One of Yaakov (Follower); from there the Shepherd, the e’ven Stone of Yisrael (Overcomes in God):
The unusual and prophetic names of God in this passage prompt the question, “If these names have not been prolifically used prior to this, why are they now employed?” God is called 1.) Mighty One of Jacob (Follower) 2.) The Shepherd 3.) The Stone. In fact The Stone can only refer to the stone of the altar of Isaac, the stone of the Temple Mount, of Zion, of the Hill, the foundation stone through which Jewish tradition says all things were created, the stone and foundation of the Temple, of Har-Beit (Mountain House). Again, this is not in reference to Joseph but in reference to the One for Whom Joseph is a pre-figure. That is, Shiloh, the Messiah.
In the plain sense this verse is speaking of the deliverance of Joseph and the subsequent deliverance of Israel. It speaks of the Shepherd of Israel, HaShem and the firm foundation that He has provided for the sons of Jacob through Joseph. At the same time it continues the story of the coming Messiah (Shiloh), Who, after being pierced, will be strengthened again by the hand of God and will become the foundation stone of Israel’s eternal security, shepherding her throughout the ages.
“Therefore thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Elohim (God: Judge):
‘Now, I am laying in Tziyon a stone,
a tested stone,
a costly cornerstone, a firm foundation--
whoever trusts will not flee in haste.” –Isaiah 28:16 (ref. 1 Corinthians 3)
The Hebrew “e’ven” translated “stone” can be seen as a contraction of the words “Av” (Father) and “Ben” (Son). In the plain sense the father is Jacob and the son is Joseph, but in the metaphysical sense the Father is HaShem and the Son is the coming Messiah Shiloh (Yeshua).
Gen 49:25 From El God (Judge) of your father (Jacob), and your helper; and the Shaddai All Sufficient Protector (Almighty), Who will bless you, from the heavens will come blessings, blessings of the deep that lie under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: Gen 49:26 The blessings of your father have prevailed above the blessings of those who conceived me, to the boundary limit of the hill everlasting: they shall be on the head of Yosef (YHVH: Mercy adds), and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brothers.
Once again the blessing is filled with descriptive names of God: 1.) The Judge 2.) The Helper 3.) All Sufficient Protector, the Almighty 4.) The One Who blesses [In fact, all blessing comes from God].
Once again Zion’s hill is spoken of. In fact it can be no other hill because the hill in question is called “Olam” meaning “eternal, everlasting”.
It is not Jacob who blesses, it is God, the Judge, the Helper, the All Sufficient Protector. He is bringing blessing upon Joseph that alludes to Shiloh, the Messiah. Eternal blessing that could not apply to Joseph alone. A form of blessing which is over Jacob and will prevail as an over those blessings given to his parents. Greater blessing means the greater outworking of the blessings placed upon Abraham and Isaac. Blessing from the heavens, meaning God will come down (Messiah). Blessing from below, meaning that the Messiah will rise from sheol (Holding place of the dead). Blessing from the breast and womb, which refers to disciples feeding at the breast of Messiah, who will be born at Israel’s breast Miriam (Mary: rebellion).
Of the plain meaning we read that Joseph, who was separated from his family temporarily will be crowned with blessing. Of the remez (hint) we read that Shiloh (The Messiah) will be separate from His brothers temporarily (Dead for three days and three nights like Jonah), He will be unique in all Israel, crowned before He descends from God and crowned with blessing and with the k’vod HaShem glory of God (Mercy) when He ascends to be seated at God’s right hand. Speaking of the right hand…
Gen 49:27 Benyamin (Son of my right hand) shall ravage as a wolf: in the morning he will devour the prey, and at night he will divide the spoil.”
It is true that the descendants of Benjamin became known for their fierce wolf like warrior nature, as recorded in the affair of the concubine at Gibeah (Judges 19-20). King Saul of Benjamin was also like a wolf, defeating Moab, Edom and Philistia.
The morning is said to refer to the rise of Saul as Israel’s first human king, and the night is said to refer to the overcoming of Mordechai and Esther (Both of Benjamin) and the dividing of the spoils of their enemies (Israel’s enemies)[Esther 8:7].
Gen 49:28 All these are the twelve tribes of Yisrael: and this is what their father spoke to them, and blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them.
“Everyone according to his blessing” again affirms the core doctrine that teaches all blessing comes from God and is the speaking into time of that which God has already seen fulfilled outside of time and space.
Gen 49:29 And he charged them, and said to them, “I am to be gathered to my people: inter me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron (Fawn like) the Chiti (Descendant of Chet [terror]), Gen 49:30 In the cave that is in the field of Machpelah (Double portion), which is before Mamre (Strength, fatness, abundance), in the land of K’naan (Lowland, humility), which Avraham (Father of many peoples) purchased along with the field of Ephron the Chiti (terrorist) for a possession of a place for interment. Gen 49:31 There they interred Avraham and Sarah (Princess, queen) his wife; there they interred Yitzchaak (He laughs) and Rivkah (Fetching beauty) his wife; and there I interred Leah (weary). Gen 49:32 The purchase of the field and of the cave that is there was from the children of Chet (Terror).
The Torah affirms yet again the legal purchase of the land surrounding Hebron and the cave therein. Despite the revisionist history of the enemies of Israel, there can be no argument, Hebron was, is and will always be a Jewish holy site.
This is Jacob’s final request. He has already obligated Joseph through an oath, now he also commands Joseph’s brothers. Jacob’s interment at Hebron is not merely a dying man’s selfish demand, to the contrary, Jacob knows that his interment there will become a physical manifestation of the divine promise to bring all Israel into that Promised Land. By instructing all his sons to honour his wish, he is laying a foundation of hope, not only in the physical promises of God relating to the land of Israel, but also in the eternal hope of the resurrection and the Olam haba (World to come).
Gen 49:33 And when Yaakov (Follower) had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and died, and was gathered to his people.
The phrase “He gathered his feet into the bed” concludes Jacob’s last earthly journey, he has entered death well: something he had begun in 48:2. This action is a symbolic representation of the gathering to his people. Just as the feet are drawn from the open air and beneath the covers, so too Jacob will be drawn from this life and beneath the earth into that part of Sheol (Gan Eden) where the righteous dwell.
As I have explained in previous commentary, those who die in Messiah are dead to this temporary world but alive to Messiah in Gan Eden (Paradise). Jacob was gathered to his people. One cannot be gathered to a people who have ceased to exist. Both Judaism and Christianity teach the eternal nature of the human Spirit/Soul. This teaching originates here in the first book of the Torah and not (As so many foolish Christian scholars suggest) post Hellenism.
“But concerning the dead being raised, haven’t you read in the book of Moses about the burning bush? How God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He’s not the God of the dead, but of the living. You have gone far astray!” –Yeshua Mark 12:26-27 (TLV)
© Yaakov Brown 2017
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,