When our motivation for writing songs of celebration, praise and worship to God is to ensure that they’re worded in such a way as to reach as wide an audience as possible; when we intentionally craft the lyrics to lessen the offense of the Gospel, or make our worship songs sound like ambiguous love songs, we are guilty of the same syncretism that the ancient northern kingdom was guilty of. We must Repent!
Amos 5:16-27 (Author’s translation)
16 Therefore thus says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord God/Judge Who goes warring, the Master (Lord): “In all inner city streets there is wailing and in all highways they say, ‘Oiy va voiy! Oh no, alas!’ And they call a ploughman to mourning and those who know (are skilled in) lamentation to wail. 17 And in all vineyards mourning, because I will pass through the inner part of you,” says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord. 18 Woe to you who are longing for the day of the Lord, for what is it to you? The day of the Lord it will be darkness and not light; 19 Like when a man flees from the face of the lion and is met by the bear, and goes to the house and leans his hand on the wall and is bitten by the snake. 20 Will it not be darkness, the day of the Lord instead of light, and gloom with no brightness? 21 “I hate, I reject your festivals, and I won’t smell your sacred assemblies. 22 Because though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your freewill grain offerings, I will not accept; and peace offerings of your fat beasts I will not look at. 23 Turn aside from Me on to the ground the noise of your songs; and the melody of musical instruments I will not listen. 24 But let judgement run down as waters, and righteousness like a torrent of water in the wadi (stream bed) that is never ending. 25 “Did you present Me with sacrifices and freewill grain offerings in the wilderness for forty years, house of Israel? 26 But you have carried the tent of your king Molech and an idol of the god Saturn, your images (idols) of your star gods which you made for yourselves. 27 Therefore I will make you go into captivity beyond Damascus,” says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord, God/Judge Who goes warring is His Name.
Amos 5:16-27 (Line Upon Line)
16 Lachein Therefore koh-amar thus says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord Eloheiy God/Judge tzevaot Who goes warring, Adonay the Master (Lord): “Bekhol In all rechovot inner city streets mispeid there is wailing uvekhol-chutzot and in all highways yomeru they say, ‘Ho-ho Oiy va voiy! Oh no, alas!’ Vekareu And they call ikar a ploughman el-eivel to mourning umispeid el-yodeiy nehiy and those who know (are skilled in) lamentation to wail.
16 Therefore thus says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord God/Judge Who goes warring, the Master (Lord): “In all inner city streets there is wailing and in all highways they say, ‘Oiy va voiy! Oh no, alas!’ And they call a ploughman to mourning and those who know (are skilled in) lamentation to wail.
Therefore thus says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord God/Judge Who goes warring, the Master (Lord):
Mercy, the God and Judge of all, Who goes warring to save His people.
“In all inner city streets there is wailing and in all highways they say, ‘Oiy va voiy! Oh no, alas!’
In every part of the northern kingdom the people will be terrified and cry out “alas, woe is me”! This as a result of their un-abating evil practices. The Assyrians will leave people dead on the streets of the towns and cities and on the highways throughout the territories of the northern tribes.
This firmly establishes what was said previously concerning the diminishing numbers of Israel’s cities and towns.
And they call a ploughman to mourning and those who know (are skilled in) lamentation to wail.
This Chapter began with a song of lament. Therefore, it makes sense that the weight of the Word of God which is carried upon the people of Israel within His prophet, will move the people to call on every member of the community, from the simple ploughman to the professional mourner (Jer. 9:17; Matt. 9:23), to wail in the face of the death and destruction that is about to come against Israel as a just consequence of her perpetual sin.
The calling of the ploughman to mourning by necessity means he will not be ploughing in order to plant crops and as a result famine will ensue.
17 Uvekhol And in all keramiym vineyards mispeid mourning, kiy-e’evor because I will pass bekirbekha through the inner part of you,” Amar says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
17 And in all vineyards mourning, because I will pass through the inner part of you,” says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
Vineyards produce sweet grapes and wine, wine being a symbol of sweet abundance, and celebration of God’s goodness and provision. It is drunk in rejoicing at Israel’s festivals, and yet here it will be turned to mourning because God will “pass through the inner part” of all the people. This appears to be an allusion to the passing through of the messenger of death in Egypt (Ex. 12:12). This means that only the righteous remnant living in the northern kingdom will escape unscathed (albeit, taken into captivity as the result of the judgement against the entire northern kingdom).
18 Hoy Woe to you hamitaviym who are longing for et-yom YHVH the day of the Lord, lama-zeh for what is it lechem to you? Yom YHVH the day of the Lord hu choshekh it will be darkness velo-or and not light;
18 Woe to you who are longing for the day of the Lord, for what is it to you? The day of the Lord it will be darkness and not light;
Isaiah the prophet, whose ministry converged with the latter part of the ministry of Amos wrote:
18“Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:19 That say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it! 20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! 22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: 23 Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!” -Yishayahu (Isaiah) 5:18-23 KJV
Woe to you who are longing for the day of the Lord, for what is it to you?
This is an indictment against those who claim to follow YHVH the God of Israel and yet syncretise (combine) pagan practices with their worship of Him. For all intents and purposes they believed they were godly and walking rightly before God in spite of the fact that they were contradicting His Word.
So confident were they that they were right with God that they would proclaim their excitement about the coming day of the LORD, promoting it as a day of prosperity and celebration when their lifestyle would be approved of by the presence of God’s light. How chillingly familiar this is. It could easily be read today to the modern body of believers, as a description of the words and practices of popular Christianity and its love affair with predictive eschatology (study of the end times). God’s answer to this hypocrisy is:
The day of the Lord it will be darkness and not light;
In the context of the writings of Amos, the day of the LORD is first fulfilled in the attack of the Assyrians, then in the invasion of the Babylonians, however, the phrase “Day of the LORD” has far-reaching and yet to be fully filled manifestations.
There will eventually be a final “Day of the LORD” called Yom Ha-Din “The Day of Judgement”. And whether this day is 24 hours or a thousand years the result will be the same. To the wicked, the hypocrite, the willfully unrepentant, the one who claims to know the LORD but does not, it will be a day of darkness and not light (John 3:19).
Eschatological knowledge (knowledge of the end times) will not save the hypocrite from what is coming.
19 ka’asher Like when yanus iysh a man flees mipeneiy from the face of ha’ariy the lion ufegao and is met hadov by the bear, uva habayit and goes to the house vesamach and leans yado his hand al-hakiyr on the wall uneshacho and is bitten by hanachash the snake.
19 Like when a man flees from the face of the lion and is met by the bear, and goes to the house and leans his hand on the wall and is bitten by the snake.
These three examples are examples of the terror experienced by the ancient Israelite when faced with circumstances that will result in certain death. There were no hospitals or anti-venom treatments in ancient Israel. Each of these examples of animal attacks were fatal and an unexpected surprise for their victims.
“1Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” -1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 NIV
“42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” -Yeshua: Matthew 24:42-44 NIV
The message here is that death will come suddenly and that each person should be prepared beforehand to face death and what comes after death. Believers are not instructed by Scripture to predict Messiah’s coming but are admonished not to bother with such nonsense, knowing that they cannot know when Messiah is coming, in the same way they cannot know if a thief will break into their homes on any given night, or whether they will be bitten by a snake, or to put it in a modern context, whether one might be hit by a car or in a car accident caused by another driver etc.
I recall the foolish predictions of so called godly leaders only a few years ago, who based on blood moons and the Hebrew calendar predicted catastrophic events, the end of this world and the coming of the Messiah. On the back of blood moons books were sold, videos made and profits soured. However, the events predicted did not occur, the world did not end and the Messiah did not return, and yet the majority of those leaders remain unchallenged to this day, and many continue to make eschatology their god.
God does not instruct us to focus on predicting the Day of the LORD, but on being prepared for His coming so that we might be found faithful.
20 Halo-choshech yom YHVH velo-or Will it not be darkness, the day of the Lord instead of light, ve’afeil and gloom velo-nogah with no brightness?
20 Will it not be darkness, the day of the Lord instead of light, and gloom with no brightness?
In true Hebrew poetic repetition the darkness that will come to the wicked on the Day of the LORD is firmly established against the wilfully unrepentant.
21 “Saneitiy I hate, ma’astiy I reject chageichem your festivals, velo and I won’t ariyach smell be’atzeroteiychem your sacred assemblies.
21 “I hate, I reject your festivals, and I won’t smell your sacred assemblies.
We note that it is not the festivals God has established for Israel that He hates, but the festivals Israel has created by syncretising pagan ritual and modifying the festivals of God to be practiced outside of the centre He appointed in Jerusalem (Deut. 12:11-21; 16:2-11; Deut. 26:2 etc.). He says, “I reject Your festivals”.
The phrase “I won’t smell your sacred assemblies” is a counterpoint to the well-known phrase “A pleasing aroma to the LORD”, which is found throughout the Torah in reference to the aroma of the sacrifices which are offered to God according to His instructions (Ex. 29:18, 25, 41; Lev. 1:9, 13, 17 etc.).
22 Kiy Because im-ta’alu-liy though you offer up to Me olot burnt offerings uminchoteiychem and your freewill grain offerings, lo ertzeh I will not accept; veshelem and peace offerings meriyeiychem of your fat beasts lo abiyt I will not look at.
22 Because though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your freewill grain offerings, I will not accept; and peace offerings of your fat beasts I will not look at.
Because the offerings in question, which are three of the primary offerings prescribed by Torah, are offered according to apostate rituals and in syncretism with pagan worship, God will not so much as look at them (an idiom denoting God’s rejection of the offerings).
Israel was offering God gifts with someone else’s name on them. A modern example might be gifting a present to someone who then opens it to find that someone else’s name is engraved on it.
23 Haser Turn aside mei’alay from Me on to the ground hamon the noise shireycha of your songs; vezimrat and the melody of nevaleycha musical instruments lo eshma I will not listen.
23 Turn aside from Me on to the ground the noise of your songs; and the melody of musical instruments I will not listen.
There is nothing wrong with godly worship songs, however, there is something wrong with godly worship songs being sung by ungodly people. There is also something wrong with worship songs that combine the lies of pagan or secular beliefs with the truth of God’s word.
How sickening it is to realise that a large number of modern Christian worship songs fit this description. God is not listening to them.
When our motivation for writing songs of celebration, praise and worship to God is to ensure that they’re worded in such a way as to reach as wide an audience as possible; when we intentionally craft the lyrics to lessen the offense of the Gospel, or make our worship songs sound like ambiguous love songs, we are guilty of the same syncretism that the ancient northern kingdom was guilty of. We must Repent!
24 Veyigal kamayim mishpat But let judgement run down as waters, utzedakah and righteousness kenachal eiytan like a torrent of water in the wadi stream bed that is never ending.
24 But let judgement run down as waters, and righteousness like a torrent of water in the wadi stream bed that is never ending.
The common translation “Let justice run down like a river” is acceptable but does not necessarily relay the full meaning here. It is justice in the form of Mishpat “judgement” that is being alluded to. Justice results from God’s judgement.
The resulting justice will have an unending affect like the transforming affect that the torrential rainfall in the desert wadis has on the valleys of Israel.
The water of that floods the wadis, represents life, however it is devastating to those caught in it. Today, when these torrential rains occur in Israel out of season, it is often the case that hikers and IDF companies out on patrol are caught in the landslides created by the rain which causes flooding in the wadis, resulting in unforeseen deaths and severe injuries. Even in the spring months when torrential rain is not expected a seasoned guide taking hikers through the desert lands of Israel will avoid wadis and dangerous zones surrounding them, because he is aware of the potential disaster.
The imagery here is that of an unseasonal torrential rain fall that causes the water of life to become the agent of death for those caught unaware. Once again the emphasis is on preparedness.
In an ironic and poignant twist, it is the tradition of certain Moroccan Jews* living in Israel to gather the waters of unseasonal rains like that described and to drink them in order to be healed from sicknesses. While this is a superstition, it is nonetheless a living mashal (parable) which teaches that the same waters which bring death to the wicked will also bring life to the righteous.
*(I know this because we were having Shabbat with the Moroccan family of one of our Israeli sons following Pesach and during unseasonal rain).
25 “Hazevachiym uminchah higashtem-liy Did you present Me with sacrifices and freewill grain offerings vamidbar in the wilderness arbaiym shanah for forty years, beiyt Yisrael house of Israel?
25 “Did you present Me with sacrifices and freewill grain offerings in the wilderness for forty years, house of Israel?
This does not mean that Israel offered no sacrifices during her forty year sojourn. After all, the Torah records the sacrifices offered (Ex. 24:5; Lev.8:1; Num. 7:12). While the regular offering of sacrifices was not as prolific during the period of wandering, neither was it none existent.
What this verse means is that there were a number among the people of Israel who during that forty year period offered sacrifices to false gods outside the camp and practiced superstitions contrary to God’s instruction. In other words, “Did you offer sacrifices to Me? No, you offered them to demons, or worse, you offered them to Me and to demons at the same time.” This is affirmed by the following verse.
26 Unesatem But you have carried et sikut the tent malkekhem of your king Molech ve’eit kiyun and an idol of the god Saturn, tzalmeiychem your images (idols) kochav eloheiychem of your star gods asher asiytem lachem which you made for yourselves.
26 But you have carried the tent of your king Molech and an idol of the god Saturn, your images (idols) of your star gods which you made for yourselves.
This description of heinous syncretism is heart breaking. Malkekhem “your king (other than God)”, is a reference to Molech and a word play incorporating the kings of the northern tribes. Molech was a Canaanite deity to which children were sacrificed.
The Hebrew sikut translated “tent” also reflects the name of a Mesopotamian astral deity and is used as an aural pun which likens his name to Shikutz a Hebrew word meaning “detestable things”. The allusion to carrying the “tent” of their “king (Molech)” is a sad indictment against their rejection of the One true King YHVH and His mishkan “Tent of Meeting”.
The Targum Yonatan reads:
“You (pl.) have borne the tabernacle of your priests, Khiyun (Mesopotamian astral deity) your image, the star your god, which you have made to yourselves.”
Israel’s rejection of the appointed place of worship symbolised by the “tent” and her syncretism with Molech is only a small part of her apostacy. Numerous false gods were added to the pantheon of the apostate, including but not limited to the god Saturn (kiyun) and various other star deities each purported to aid in certain areas of life (ref. Jer. 7:18).
“Which you made yourselves” is a reminder that they were worshipping things they created rather than worshipping the God who created them.
We are no different. Many modern believers syncretise pagan practices with their worship of God. Some mix fortune telling with prophecy and call it godly. Some mix cultural superstition with their faith in Messiah. Some use unproven herbal remedies which have been passed on from the ancient and superstitious worship of earth deities found within animistic cultures, some practice forms of exercise that involve positions named for the worship of false gods, and in doing all these things we claim that they are gifts of God for health, healing and enlightenment.
Anything or anyone we allow pride of place in our lives is a false god. We were created worshipping, everything we think, do and say is an act of worship, we are either worshipping God or we are worshipping something or someone else.
The first Messianic Jewish martyr Stephen, a Grecian Jew, quoted Sefer Amos when he called his Jewish brothers and sisters to repentance:
“42 Then Elohim turned, and gave them up to worship the host (stars and planets) of the heavens; as it is written in the book of the prophets, ‘You house of Israel, did you offer to me slain beasts and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness? 43 Behold, you took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which you made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.’” -Acts of the Sent Ones 7:42-43 (Author’s translation)
27 Vehigleiytiy etchem Therefore I will make you go into captivity meihalah beyond ledamasek Damascus,” amar says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord, Eloheiy God/Judge tzevaot Who goes warring shemo is His Name.
27 Therefore I will make you go into captivity beyond Damascus,” says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord, God/Judge Who goes warring is His Name.
This speaks of the coming Assyrian, and by extension, Babylonian captivity. Once again God is named “Mercy, the God and Judge, Who goes warring to save His people”!
Copyright 2022 Yaakov Brown
Water into Wine (John 2:1-11):
The wedding in Cana and the miraculous sign of the water being turned to wine appears at first glance to be a party trick, a fanciful form of entertainment, and for those who detest wine and prefer an unfermented faith, a miracle of water into grape juice, albeit a far less miraculous transformation. However, Yeshua is no magician, nor is He a performer or a people pleaser, and both the Greek and Hebrew words for wine mean fermented grape juice, that is, alcohol. So what is this miracle all about? After all, one would think that Yeshua’s first recorded miracle would carry some significance outside of “Wow, we haven’t seen that done before”.
In fact, the miracle of water to wine has deep significance beyond the plain action described in the text of the Gospel of Yochanan. It links Yeshua to creation itself, to the miraculous work of Moses, and symbolically reveals Yeshua’s vicarious, sacrificial blood. All this, at a wedding banquet that prefigures that great wedding banquet at the end of the age, the wedding supper (Rev. 19:7, 9) of the “Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” (John. 1:29).
Joh 2:1 And in the day, the third (uvayom hashliyshiy[H]) there was a marriage festival (gamos[G]Chatunah[H]) beginning (ginomai[G], haytah[H]) in Cana (Kana[G], Qanah [H], reeds) of Galilee (Ho-Galilaia[G] circuit, Yam Ha-Kineret[H] Lake of the harp, [region]); and the mother (meter[G], eim[H]) of the (tos[G]) Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) was in that place (ekei[G]):
NB: Cana is approximately 7.9 km north of Nazareth. This would have been approximately 1 ½ hours walk. Yeshua spent His middle years in Nazareth.
“Cana of Galilee” Is a town assigned to the tribe of Asher (Joshua 19:28). Cana meaning reeds and Asher meaning Happiness.
“In the third day” (uvayom hashliyshiy), could refer either to the third day following the day that the disciples of John (the Immerser) first meet Yeshua, or to the third day of a week, that being comparable to Tuesday in the modern western calendar. It is also a figurative prophetic reference to the resurrection of the King Messiah Yeshua. If it refers to the third day of the Hebrew week, there is a significant inference. The third day of the week is that day of the created order where “God saw that it was good” twice (Genesis 1:10, 12). As a result it is thought to be a day of twofold blessing.
The Hebrew chatunah (Marriage) is interesting in that the Hebrew groom, chatan having been joined by the Hebrew bride kalah (arusah, betrothed), enters a binding commitment of love that is named by a feminine form of the masculine noun chatan (groom), that being chatunah. In other words, the bride joins with the groom and takes on his character.
“The mother of” Yeshua’s mother Miriyam (Mary) is never mentioned by name in the Gospel of Yochanan (John). It seems that Yochanan shares his sense of intimate connection to Yeshua with his understanding of Yeshua’s special connection to His mother. It is to Miriyam that Yeshua says “Woman here is your son” and to Yochanan He says “Here is your mother”.
“25 Near the execution tree of Yeshua stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Yeshua saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Precious Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” -John 19:25-27
Thus, those whom the author sees in this way need not be mentioned by name because they are known to the intimate circle of his audience. This is still further evidence that this gospel was initially intended for a Jewish audience and only by extension to the gentiles being saved throughout the Roman empire of the latter first century CE (AD).
“The Yeshua” It is interesting to note that while the more recent Hebrew text available does not have the definite article in conjunction with Yeshua’s name, both the Greek and Aramaic texts do. Meaning that the Jewish author, writing in Greek, clearly intended that this Yeshua be seen as exceptional. Thus, “And the mother of the Yeshua was in that place”. Keeping in mind that Joshua (Yeshua, Yehoshua) was an extremely common Jewish name in the first century CE (AD). Therefore, there may well have been several of the 1200 guests who were named Yeshua (Yehoshua, Joshua).
Marriage in Judea and Galilee in the first century CE (AD):
There were some differences between the Jewish marriage customs of Judea and the Galilee during the first century CE (AD). Religious laws were codified in order to establish correct practise for Jews living in the land at that time.
"There are three countries (regions), for the celebration of marriages; Judea, the country beyond Jordan, and Galilee;''
-Misn. Cetubot, c. 13. sect. 10. T. Hieros. Cetubot, fol. 36. 2.
Therefore, these three distinct tribal regions of Jews were obligated by Jewish religious law to marry among themselves. If a member of one group married a woman from outside of the group she was not obliged to leave her region and go with him. This is consistent with the Torah requirements regarding the passing on of land as an inheritance to the respective tribes.
"They do not bring them out from city to city, (i.e. oblige them to go with them from city to city,) nor from town to town; but in the same country they bring them out from city to city, and from town to town.''
-Bartenora in ib.
"In Judea, at first, they joined the bridegroom and bride together an hour before they went into the bride chamber, that so his heart might be lifted up in her; but in Galilee they did not do so: in Judea, at first, they appointed for them two companions, one for him, and another for her, that they might minister to, or wait on the bridegroom, and bride, when they went into the bride chamber; but in Galilee they did not do so: in Judea, at first, the companions slept in the house where the bridegroom and bride slept; but in Galilee they did not do so.''
-Talmud. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 12. 1.
Joh 2:2 And both Yeshua[H] and His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]) were called by name (kaleo[G]) to the marriage festival (gamos[G]Chatunah[H]).
The Greek “kaleo” denotes the receipt of a person by name, and or the receiving of the person’s name and identity. A deep form of welcome that infers either familial relationship or close friendship. Therefore, it is likely that the families who were celebrating this wedding knew Yeshua and His disciples personally. They were either related to Miriyam (Mary) or Yosef (Joseph) [now deceased] or were close friends of the family. Certainly, at very least Yeshua was known to the family through His mother and thus His disciples would have been invited in connection to their newly found spiritual teacher and Rabbi.
“Yeshua and His disciples” These being Andrew, and the John (other disciple, not John the Baptist), who followed Yeshua, Simon Peter, Philip, and Nathanael, all of whom were from the Galilee region. Therefore, five of Yeshua’s disciples were present along with His mother and brothers, Yaakov (James), Yosef (Joseph), Yehudah (Judah) and Shimon (Simon) [Mark 6:3; Matthew 13:55-56]. Including Yeshua this makes a total of ten free Jewish men present. Ten being a number of fullness and completion, wholeness and restoration, renewal and well-being. This is significant given that according to Jewish Law 10 free Jewish men (a minyan) were required to be present at the blessing of a bridegroom.
“They do not bless the blessing of bridegrooms, but with ten principal and free men; and the bridegroom may be one of the number.”
-Maimon. Hilch. Ishot, c. 10. sect. 5. Pirke Eliezer, c. 19. Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 9. 3.
Aside from the plan circumstances in which Yeshua was a guest and not the bridegroom, we non the less note that figuratively speaking the bridegroom of the body of believers (Yeshua) was among their number.
Joh 2:3 And when they were behind in the supply of (hustereo[G]) wine (oinos[G], yiyn[H]) the mother of the (tos[G]) Yeshua[H] [A] said to Him, “They have no wine.”
The Greek “oinos” is yet another Hebrew/Aramaic transliteration into Greek. The Hebrew word is “yiyn” and is used to describe the fermented juice of grapes. Wine is a symbol of blessing in both ancient and modern Judaism, thus a lack of wine is symbolic of a lack of blessing or is otherwise seen as a sign that the blessing has run out.
Whatever role Yeshua’s mother played at the wedding banquet, she is almost certainly serving as a direct aid to the banquet master, who was likely a close relative. There is a beautiful correlation here. Miriyam is servant both to the banquet master of this wedding and to her own Son Yeshua, the Son of the banquet Master of creation (YHVH). Just as she serves, so she offers Yeshua and opportunity to reveal His service. He is after all the Servant King Messiah (Isa. 53).
In this ancient Jewish cultural setting it would have been seen as a disgrace to the families of both bride and groom had the wine run out before the festivities had been concluded. Therefore, the remedying of this situation was of great importance to Miriyam (Mary).
Joh 2:4 The (Ho[G]) Yeshua[H] [A] said to her, “What have I to do with your doings (soi[G]) precious woman (gune[G])? [Alt. Hebrew reading: mah-liy valach ishah[H] What of Me and to/for you woman?] My hour, season, time (hora[G]) is not yet arrived (heko[G]) [Alt. Hebrew reading: itiy adayin lo-ba’ah[H] With Me what is yet to be is not come.”
The Greek gune in this context refers specifically to a woman relative, wife, betrothed, mother etc.
“Precious woman” is a phrase used throughout the Gospel of John as a precursor to a revelation to those women dear to the heart of the Messiah (4:21; 19:26; 20:13,15).
“What have I to do with your doings precious woman?” This is a Hebrew idiom from the Tanakh which has been translated into Greek in order to convey a uniquely Hebrew perspective. It is clear that the author knew his primary readers (Jews) would understand it without explanation, and he intentionally fails to clarify its meaning for any later gentile readers. This is because some of the food of the gospel is first and foremost for the children of Israel (Jews, ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) [Matt.15:26]. The phrase in question is used throughout the Tanakh in different contexts to mean, “What do we have in common?”, “Why are you involving me?”, “Don’t tell me what to do!”, “Why are you turning to me?”, “Your concern is not my concern.”
In this case the idiom is employed as a gentle rebuke that seeks to illuminate for Miriyam the importance of Yeshua’s timely revelation of His manifest glory and ultimate goal. None the less, HaShem (YHVH) had always intended for this to be Yeshua’s first miraculous sign, and Yeshua knew this. He did not give in to His mother’s request as some foolishly suggest, rather He helped His mother understand the true significance of her request. Thus Yeshua obeys the will of His Father (YHVH) and proceeds to do what He had always intended to do.
“With Me what is yet to be is not come.” Meaning, “The full revelation of my redeeming work and identity awaits its perfect timing.” Therefore, while Miriyam was hoping for Yeshua to be fully recognised for Who He truly was on the occasion of this wedding, He was making sure she understood that His actions at the wedding would be a mitigated revelation that would point to the perfect hour (time) of His vicarious death and resurrection unto glory, resulting in eternal life for all who would receive Him.
Joh 2:5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
This is one line of motherly advice that every believer should take heed of. Miriyam was approximately 44 years old at the time of these events.
Miriyam’s response to Yeshua’s gentle rebuke is one of submission, respect and honour. A carnal mother would have rebuked her son and said to him, “Do as I say” but Miriyam the mother of Yeshua is a devote worshipper and lover of God. Thus she turns to the servants and says, “Do whatever He says”.
We note that Yeshua’s mother Miriyam (Mary), who had treasured in her heart that which she had understood of His identity, none the less, does not respond. Rather, like a Yiddish momma, she simply turns to the servants and directs them to obey her son. In doing so Miriyam shows that she understands that while Yeshua’s time of sacrificial death (Luke 2:19, 34-25, 51-52) has not yet come, His time to launch his miraculous ministry has.
We must remember that when Yosef (Joseph) and Miriyam had brought the new-born Yeshua to the Temple for consecration, the righteous man Simeon had spoken directly to Miriyam about Yeshua’s destiny:
“Then Shimeon blessed them and said to Miriyam, his mother: ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.’” -Luke 2:34-35
Miriyam had listened to and watched Yeshua grow and treasured both Him and His role as redeemer of Israel (Luke 2:19, 51-52). Therefore, the account of her conversation at the wedding in Cana does not show that she misunderstands Yeshua’s appointed time, to the contrary, her response shows that she understands perfectly and in spite of what she knows will lead to her own great loss, she none the less makes it possible for the people of Israel to begin to understand the fullness of God’s purpose of redemption made manifest in Yeshua, her precious, beloved and treasured son.
Joh 2:6 And there were set in that place (ekei[G]) six stone (lithinos[G]) water vessels (hudria[G], kadeiy-even[H]), according to the purification, cleansing, washing rituals, judgements, regulations (mishpat[H]) of the (Ho[G]) Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]) each capable of containing 75 to 115 litres.
According to Jewish tradition stone jars can be cleansed if made impure but jars made of clay must be destroyed (Lev.6:28; 11:33). It is interesting to note that stone vessels of this kind have been found in a quarry near Nazareth which dates to the first century CE. Additionally, the Greek word tekton, which is translated carpenter in most English Bibles can refer to any kind of labourer, craftsman, or artisan, including a stone mason. Therefore, it is quite possible that both Yosef (Yeshua’s father) and Yeshua (initially as apprentice to His father) were in fact stone masons (Matt.13:55; Mark.6:3). Thus, Yeshua Himself may have made the stone vessels that were present at this wedding in Cana, at the quarry outside of Nazareth, where He spent the majority of His pre-ministry years.
“Six stone water vessels” Stone (earth) and water, the elements present at the beginning of creation (Gen.1:1) are present in the six stone vessels, which are themselves representative of the six days of creation. Therefore, figuratively speaking Yeshua as the Creative Word (John 1:1) begins the ministry that will bring about a renewed creation with a sign that speaks of how the renewed creation will come about. That is, through the shed blood of the King Messiah.
“According to the purification, rituals, of the Judeans” Refers to Judeans by religion as opposed to Judeans by location or ethnicity, although, for the most part those who were Judean by ethnicity were also at least under the religious instruction of the Judean religious authorities in Jerusalem. The Galileans, who were Jewish by ethnicity but did not necessarily keep all the same sectarian rituals as the Judeans, had none the less provided for the religious rites of their fellow Jews from Judea and may share some of those rites with their brothers and sisters. The ritual washing vessels in this case were most likely used for the washing before meals, a tradition that makes its way through history to the modern rabbinical practise of Netilat Yadaiym (The cleansing of the hands). This practise is likely very similar in form to that of the first century CE (AD) practise.
What this tells us is that the wedding was attended by Jews from both Galilee and Judea and that the couple, contrary to extrabiblical Jewish legal custom, may have been a mixed Jewish couple, one Galilean (Of Asher – Cana) and one Judean (Of Judah).
“Each capable of containing 75 to 115 litres” In total the six jars were capable of holding approximately 600 litres of water. If we estimate that each guest used the 300 – 500 millilitres of water necessary to perform Netilat Yadayim, we can safely say that there were a minimum of 1200 guests at the wedding. It is no wonder then that there was a wine shortage.
Joh 2:7 The (O[G]) Yeshua[H] [A] said to them, “Fill entirely (gemizo[G]) the water jars (hudria[G]) with water (mayim[H]).” And they filled them entirely, up to the brim.”
In order for something to be filled it must first be emptied. This means that those attending the wedding festival were devout Judean Jews and observant Jews from the Galilee and Nazareth, many of whom had performed ritual washing (Netilat Yadayim) using the water in the stone vessels before eating at the wedding feast.
This filling is figurative of the fresh living water that Yeshua would fill creation with (John 4:14).
We note that this sign is given following the account of John the Immerser (John 1:33) speaking of the Messiah bringing a tevilah (Immersion, baptism) in the Spirit that perfects the tevilah (Immersion) of water.
Both the beginning of creation and the beginning of Yeshua’s miraculous signs allude to the mikveh (gathering of waters, immersion pool), and to tevilah (immersion).
Joh 2:8 And He said to them, “Draw out now (nun[G]), and carry (phero[G]) it to the master, the great one (architriklinos[G], el-Rav[H]) of the feast.” And they carried it.
“Draw out now” No sooner had the vessels been filled with fresh water, that they were straight away poured into wine jugs and transported to the master of the banquet. This miraculous sign happened instantaneously, in the same way that the Nile had been turned red by the command of Moses.
We note that Yeshua made a presentation to the lord of the feast, of the fine wine that had resulted from His work. This is of course figurative of the presenting of His own blood before the Lord of All things (YHVH).
“The great one of the feast” The Greek architriklinos (Master of Festivities) is a compound title made up of three words: arche meaning beginning, origin, tria meaning three, and klino meaning to recline, rest, the declining of the day. It is a description of a dinner bed, or three couches connected and used for feasting and thus becomes a noun describing the master of ceremonies at a banquet. However, it is also a figure for the unity of God, Who begins all things (arche), is three and One (tria), and Who offers rest and reclining at the declining of time, to all who receive His Son (klino). Interestingly, the Hebrew text calls the master of the feast “El-Rav” The Great One”, Rav being the root for Rabbi.
Joh 2:9 When the master, the great one (architriklinos[G], el-Rav[H]) of the feast had tasted the water (hudatos[G], mayim[H]) it had become wine (oinos[G], yiyn[H]), and he had not seen the place it had come from: (but the servants who drew the water knew;) thus, the great one (architriklinos[G], el-Rav[H]) of the feast called the bridegroom (numphios[G], chatan[H])
It is impossible to think of a modern scientific explanation for this miraculous sign. Water does not become wine through any instantaneous process, nor is it feasible to suggest that this was simply diluted wine made from some deposit of wine in the base of the jars because the master of the banquet himself states that it is the best of wines, a fine, full bodied wine incomparable to the weaker wines served up to that point.
We note that only Yeshua’s mother (who possibly told His brothers and relatives), the disciples with Him and the servants, knew what had taken place at this point. Metaphorically speaking there is a miracle (sign) that only the servants, followers, and relatives of Yeshua know, that being the salvation that comes through His vicarious death and miraculous resurrection. To others the wonderful transformation of those being saved is seen publicly as the “finest wine” which is saved for last. While still others are not even invited to the Wedding Banquet.
“The great one of the feast called the bridegroom” The bridegroom would have been seated with the bride in a prominent place. Therefore, the calling out of the bridegroom would have been seen by all. Figuratively, Yeshua is called by the Father to be honoured before all creation.
Joh 2:10 And said to him (bridegroom), “Every (individual) man (human being) first sets out the excellent, precious, surpassingly good (kalos[G], ha-tov[H]) wine (oinos[G], yiyn[H]); and when people have become drunk (methuo[G]), then that which is worse (elasson[G]): but you have taken care, attended to matters carefully, reserved, kept (tereo[G]) the excellent, precious, surpassingly good (kalos[G] ha-tov[H]) wine (oinos[G], yiyn[H]) until this moment (arti[G]).”
Yeshua’s first sign prophetically prefigures the unsurpassable value of the last sign of His earthly ministry, that being His death and resurrection.
We note that the bridegroom had no idea of what had taken place (at least, not at this point).
“Every man first sets out the good wine; and when people have become drunk, then that which is worse” A drunk man cannot appreciate the fine qualities of superior wine. Therefore, common sense dictates that the good wine should be served first at a time in proceedings when it can be appreciated, and later, for those who have drunk too much, the cheap wine is served.
“but you have taken care, reserving the good wine until this moment” Yeshua has produced the best wine last for a reason. The fact that the wine had run out indicates that many of the guests must have been over drinking, many, but not all. Those who had become drunk would now be given the fine wine produced by Yeshua but would be unable to appreciate it, while those who had been drinking responsibly would have been free to enjoy the superior wine to the fullest. Based on his assessment of the wine we know that the master of the banquet was one who had drunk responsibly. Likewise Yeshua’s mother and disciples. It is also possible that the servants who had not been drinking but serving, were later afforded the opportunity to drink of the fine wine, not having indulged in irresponsible drinking because of their commitment to service.
Therefore, we conclude that the wine was appreciated by the sober but went unnoticed by the drunk. This is a figure for the Gospel, where the blood of Messiah is received as the sweet fragrance of salvation to those being saved and as the stench of death to those being lost (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).
Joh 2:11 This beginning, origin, first (arche[G], reishiyt[H]) of (O[G]) the signs, wonders, miracles (semeion[G], ha-otot[H]) Yeshua[H] [A] did in Cana (Kana[G], Qanah [H], reeds) of Galilee (Ho-Galilaia[G] [circuit], Yam Ha-Kineret[H] Lake of the harp, [region]), and manifested, made known, made visible (phaneroo[G]) His glory, splendour, brightness, opinion, judgement, view (doxa[G], kevodo[H]); and His disciples, religious students, followers (mathetes[G], talmidim[H]) believed, had faith, trusted, were persuaded, accepted the truth (pisteuo[G], ya’amiynu[H]) in/on Him.
“This beginning, origin, first of the signs, wonders, miracles” The Greek “semeion” (miracle) equates to the Hebrew “ot” which is the same word used to describe the signs and wonders that God performed for Israel through Moses and the prophets.
This was the first of seven miraculous signs that each showed how the created order submitted to the authority of Yeshua (2:1-11; 4:43-54; 5:1-9; 6:1-5; 9:1-41; 11:1-44), the seventh sign showing Yeshua’s authority over the grave. Additionally the turning of the water to wine at Cana is the first of a total of 37 public signs (miracles) which are recorded in the gospels. We add to these: 1. the miraculous birth of Yeshua, 2. the sign of His death on the tree, and 3. His miraculous resurrection and we come to the sum 40, a number symbolizing fullness and new beginning. A number closely associated with the prophet Moses.
By turning the water into wine Yeshua emulated the first public sign (miracle, plague) performed by Moses via his proxy Aaron (Moses brother), that being the turning of the waters of the Nile to blood (Exodus 7:19-20). We note that this first public sign of Moses (Following the consuming of Pharaoh’s snakes) began the 10 plagues against Egypt (Double Distress) and was the beginning of Israel’s journey to freedom through the blood of the Passover Lamb. Thus, Yeshua showed Himself to be the One Who Moses had prophesied would come:
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.” The Lord said to me: “What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name.” -Deuteronomy 18:15-19 (NIV)
The first public sign of Moses was a plague, the first public sign of Yeshua was a symbol of redemption and healing from the greatest of plagues (sin and death). The Torah brought the indictment against sin, the vicarious sacrifice of the Author of the Torah (Yeshua) brings atonement and freedom from the indictment of the Torah (cf. John 1:17).
Both the first sign of Moses and the first sign of Yeshua were the inauguration of a process that would lead to the death of the first born. In the case of Moses, to the death of the firstborn of Egypt (double distress), and in the case of Yeshua, the death of the First Born Son of God Himself. The former being the means of physical freedom, the latter being the means of eternal metaphysical freedom.
If we are not to be judged we have no need of salvation. Therefore, judgement is necessary in order to qualify redemption.
Where Moses’ miraculous sign brought judgement against the enemies of God, Yeshua’s sign prophesied the means by which the enemies of God might be redeemed. And, just as the Passover Lamb delivered Israel from physical slavery, so too the “Lamb of God” would deliver Israel from spiritual slavery. It is no coincidence therefore, that the following verses of John 2 (v.13) speak of the Passover, for that is exactly what this first miraculous sign of Yeshua was pointing toward.
In summation, the miracle of the water turned to wine uses the symbolism of creation and the first public miracle (sign) of Moses to present to Israel the One (Yeshua) Who brings the redemptive means by which the sin affected creation can be cleansed and reborn as a new creation.
John’s gospel began by illuminating the creative Word of God Yeshua and continued through chapter one to allude to the Immerser Yochanan, whose immersion (ritual washing) is one of repentance. Now in the opening account of chapter two, in the miracle (sign) of the wedding at Cana we see the creative Word (Yeshua) of God present at a wedding festival. We see six stone jars, which, unlike clay kilned jars, are not of man-made material (Yeshua may well have literally made the stone vessels present at the wedding at Cana). We recall the stone (rock) which is cut out and will destroy the wicked kingdoms of humanity, establishing His rule over all things, as referenced to the prophetic dream of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:34, 44-45).The six jars are the six days of creation and the stone (rock, earth) and water are the base elements of the created order of our world (Genesis 1:1-2). Therefore, the Word (Creative voice of God, Yeshua), Who was in the beginning with God (John 1:1) commands that the stone jars be filled to the brim with water on the third day (v.1), and in stone and water He creates wine, just as God created the grape vines on the third day (Gen. 1:10-13) following the creation of the Cosmos, heavens, earth and water, and prior to the creation of humanity.
The water from the jars for ritual cleansing had been used to purify the body but could never purify the soul, spirit, conscience, being. Yeshua fills the same jars with new water, His living water, and turns the notion of temporary purification (physical washing) into a symbol for the blood (wine) that will bring a cleansing which will rid the soul, spirit, conscience, being of impurity forever. That is, the blood of His own vicarious, sacrificial death, shed for many. This wine (blood) is presented before the Master (God the Father) of the wedding Banquet (Of the Lamb) and it is The Master (YHVH) Who says of this wine (blood), “you’ve saved the best for last”, in other words, the temporary blood (wine) of animal sacrifice and the temporary cleansing of water is now eclipsed by the all sufficient blood (wine) of the Messiah Yeshua, Who perpetually pours out the mayim Chayim living waters of His life into the lives of others.
Yeshua Makes a Whip (John 2:12-25):
Joh 2:12 After this He (Yeshua) went down to Kafar Nachum[H] (Village [atonement] of comfort Capernaum), He, and His mother (meter[G], eim[H]), and his brethren (adelphos[G], echayn [achim] [H]) and His disciples, religious students, followers (mathetes[G], talmidim[H]): and they continued there for only a few days.
Capernaum is not south (down) of Cana, rather it is “down” in the sense of terrain.
NB: Capernaum is 38 km north-east of Cana and is known as the town of both Peter and Yeshua. It would have been approximately 7 ½ hours walk from Capernaum to Cana.
Yeshua was born in Bethlehem, brought up in Nazareth and He preached in Jerusalem but spent the majority of His time during His public ministry years in Capernaum. It is thought that when the Bible speaks of Yeshua’s “own city”, it is referring to Capernaum (Matt. 9:1). It is interesting to note that the Comforter (Yeshua) spent much of His public ministry living in the village of comfort (K’far Nachum).
We note now for the second time that Yeshua’s earthly father (step father as it were) is not present with His mother and the family. It is highly unlikely that Joseph (being a righteous man) had divorced his wife (or we would hear of it elsewhere), therefore, it seems that between the age of 12 (Luke 2:41-52) and the beginning of Yeshua’s public ministry (age 30) His earthly father Joseph had passed away.
Joh 2:13 And the Holy convocation of the Passover (Pascha[G], Chag ha-Pesach[H]) of (Ho[G]) the (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) Judeans was at hand (eggus[G]), and Yeshua[H][A] went up upon, made aliyah (anabaino[G], vaya’al[H]) to Jerusalem (Yerushalayim[H]: Flood/Downpour of Peace and wholeness),
NB: Jerusalem is 163 km south-west of Capernaum. This would have been approximately 35 hours walk, or a day and a half’s journey.
“The Passover of the Judeans” means that it was the Passover sacrifice performed according to the Temple rites upon the Temple altar as commanded by God for when Israel entered the land of Israel (The Temple being in Jerusalem of Judah). Prior to Israel’s entry to the land the Passover sacrifice was made outside of Israel and the Temple mount. The Samaritans practiced the Passover sacrifice (in direct violation of Torah) on Mt Gerizim. An issue that Yeshua addressed directly with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:4-42). The Passover of the Judeans also infers a practice that had additional customs associated with the Biblical command, customs that the Judean religious leaders had added. Regardless, Yeshua came to share in the Passover observance in Jerusalem along with all those Jews from throughout the known world who regularly made Aliyah for the Regalim (three going up festivals: Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot). Regalim is from the Hebrew root “rega” meaning to wait, thus these festivals were known as the three times when all Israel waited on the Lord together in His Holy City Jerusalem, where He had placed His Name.
It is no coincidence that the miracle of the water to wine occurs directly prior to the sacrifice of the Passover, which is the very thing that the symbolism of the miracle reveals. Therefore, having been called the “Lamb of God Who takes away the offence of the world” and having shown how His blood would become the finest wine of redemption, Yeshua now goes up to Jerusalem to the Passover celebration that has prefigured His coming for millennia.
Joh 2:14 And came upon, found, discovered (heurisko[G]) in (en[G]) the temple (hieron[G], vamikdash[H]) salesmen, barterers (poleo[G]) that sold oxen and sheep and doves (yonah[H]), and the money brokers (kermatistes[G], porteiy ha-kesef[H]) sitting in fixed abode (kathemai[G], yoshviym sham[H]):
This same incident is recorded in Matthew 21:12-27, Mark 11:12-17, and Luke 19:45-20:8 where the emphasis differs slightly. In John’s account Yeshua emphasises the need for the temple to be purified so that His own Jewish people might worship God in purity. Thus the author quotes Psalm 69:9. This makes sense, given that the author of the Gospel According to John sees the Jews as his primary audience. Whereas, the focus of Mark’s Gospel for example, is on rebuking the false witness that these practices exhibit to the nations. Therefore, the author of Mark’s Gospel quotes a different verse from the Tanakh (OT), “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’ (Isaiah 56:7). But you have made it a den of robbers (Jeremiah 7:11).”
While the accounts are very similar the overturning of the tables is recorded at the end of Yeshua’s ministry in the other gospels rather than at the beginning as in the present text. This means that Yochanan the author of the Gospel According to John, either changed the chronology to suit his narrative and theme, or, more likely, that Yeshua turned over the trading tables in the Temple a second time in the latter days of His ministry. This is consistent with the fact that the accounts of the synoptic Gospels are thematically different from that of John.
Therefore, when He first turned over the tables Yeshua was showing Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) the need for the purification of the temple, whereas, nearing the end of His ministry He placed the emphasis on how the apostate worship of Israel was causing the nations to stumble.
It is interesting to note that the Mark 11:12-17 account has Yeshua cursing the fig tree prior to the events that took place in the temple courts. Later that fig tree had withered. We recall that Nathanael had been called from under the fig tree which represented the place of Torah study and the fruitfulness that should come from it, however, there were those who taught in the seat of authority who had made the fig tree (metaphorically) fruitless. Unlike Nathanael, who was “A true Israelite in whom there is no deceit”, many of the Torah scholars and teachers among the Judean religious leadership had made their fig trees fruitless through teaching “the rules of men”, and thus were cursed by Yeshua so that the tree of their false teaching might not bear fruit in the future.
“In the Mikdash (temple)” means inside the temple area itself, and does not refer to the outer court of the gentiles which is not considered part of the temple proper (Yet further proof that this is a separate, earlier event of similar nature). The selling and bartering of religious goods is most likely to have occurred in the court of the men of Israel which is located just prior to the court of the priests where the sacrifices are offered on the altar. Based on the Greek text we can deduce that the sellers and money changers had fixed abodes there. Simply put, they weren’t coming and going, rather they had set up semi-permanent tables and booths from which they sold their merchandise, changed money for interest into the temple shekel, and generally profited from those who had come from afar to observe the regalim festivals.
Pilgrims making Aliyah (going up) were obligated by the Torah to pay the Temple tax by way of the official half-shekel (Exodus 30:11-16).
Joh 2:15 And when He had prepared, constructed, fashioned (poieo[G]) a scourge, whip (phragellion[G]) out of individual cords [bound together] (schoinion pas[G]), He drove, cast (ekballo[G]) them all (kulam[H]) out of the temple (hieron[G], ha-mikdash[H]), and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out, sent flying, spilled abroad (ekchuno[G]) the changers' of small coins (kollubistes[G], Maot[H]), both the small coins (kerma[G]) and the tables (trapeza[G], ha-shulchaniym[H]) were overturned, destroyed (anatrepo[G], yahapokh[H]);
“And when He had fashioned a scourge out of individual cords” This task would have taken a minimum of 30 minutes and probably up to an hour to complete. Yeshua maintained His Godly anger (Yaakov 1:20) over this period of time and focused on the creative task of making the whip out of numerous leather cords bound at the base and knotted at the ends, designed to draw blood. This was not the foolish instantaneous reaction of an angry man, rather it was the contained, premeditated, disciplinary action of the Spirit filled King Messiah. It is utterly foolish therefore, to claim that Yeshua was a pacifist (non-violent resistance). Just as the gospel is perpetually first for the Jews (Rom.1:16), so to the discipline of God is perpetually first for the Jews (Rom.2:9), and the coming glory of God’s Kingdom will be first for the Jews (Rom.2:10). He disciplines the ones He loves (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:6).
The use of the Greek kollubistes (changers' of small coins) in place of kermatistes (Money brokers) which is used in the previous verse, is intentional. It refers to changers of even the smallest coins, meaning that every defiled item down to the least, was dispersed and driven out of the temple complex by the King Messiah Yeshua.
The Greek anatrepo is more forceful than simply overturning (as in many English translations), it carries the sense of destruction. Yeshua did more than simply overturn the tables, He stomped them into pieces, such was His anger concerning the defiling of His Father’s House. The phrase “Gentle Jesus meek and mild”, while not entirely untrue, has none the less, become a lie of omission on the tongues of many believers. Therefore, we are reminded by the Gospel of Yochanan, that Yeshua has already come as a meek Lamb to the slaughter but He is now resurrected and will return as the warrior King Messiah, destroying the tables and wealth of God’s enemies and restoring righteousness and truth to the temple mount.
Joh 2:16 And said to those that sold, bartered over (poleo[G]) doves (yonah[H]), “Take these things away; do not make My Father's (pater[G]) house a house of merchandise, trade, an emporium, a market place (emporion[G]).” Joh 2:17 And His disciples (talmidim[H]) remembered that it was written, “The zeal (zelos[G] kinat[H]) for Your, the (ho[G]) house (oikos[G] beiytecha[H]) has eaten me up, consumed me (katesthio[G achalateniy[H]).”
“Kiy-kinat Because jealousy beiytecha for Your House achalateniy eats me, burns me up, vecherpot and the scorn, blaspheme, taunt, defying chorfeycha that has scorned, blasphemed, taunted, defyied You nafelu has fallen alay upon me.” -Psalm 69:9
We note that the so called “uneducated” am ha-aretz (people of the land, common people) disciples (talmidim) of Yeshua, were in fact very well versed in the Torah, Prophets and Writings of the Tanakh.
The Scripture that they had recalled further illuminates the context of this incident at the temple.
“I am a foreigner to my own family,
a stranger to my own mother’s children;
for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.” -Psalm 69:9-10 (NIV)
Yeshua’s disciples understood that this scripture was being enacted in all its prophetic fullness, right before their eyes. This psalm of David was written at a time when he had been scorned by his own people and treated as a foreigner because of his zeal for God’s House (Temple), and all that entailed.
Joh 2:18 Then (Ho[G]) the (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) Judeans (religious leaders in Jerusalem) answered and said to Him, “What sign (semeion[G], ot[H]) will you show, expose to our eyes (deiknuo[G]), seeing that you do these things?”
It was believed (And rightly so), that according to the Tanakh, the Messiah when He came, would manifest signs and wonders like those of Moses and Elijah. The question of the religious leaders was not wrong in and of itself but the motivation behind their question sought to disprove Yeshua’s identity as the King Messiah. Thus, it is in large part because of their evil intent that Yeshua answers the way He does in the following verse.
Joh 2:19 Yeshua answered and said to them, “Destroy, loose, unfasten, unbandage (luo[G]) this temple (naos[G], heiychal[H]) and in three days I will arouse, raise it up (egeiro[G]).”
The word for temple here is the Greek naos rather than the formerly rendered hieron. Where hieron refers to the sum of the temple precinct courts, naos refers to the temple proper, the Holy place and the holy of holies. Likewise, the Hebrew text uses heiychal (sanctuary, holy place & holy of holies), rather than mikdash (temple precinct).
We note that this chapter began “On the third day…”
Joh 2:20 Then (Ho[G]) the (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) Judeans (religious leaders in Jerusalem) said, “This temple (naos[G], heiychal[H]) has been constructed over a period of forty six years, and wilt You arouse, raise it up (egeiro[G]) in three days?”
It seems logical that men looking at literal earthly objects would conclude a physical meaning related to the temple itself in Jerusalem. The construction of Herod’s temple had begun in approximately 20-19 BCE (BC). The two years of preparation in construction is probably not included in the estimate of the religious leaders, which means that these events probably too place about 28 CE (AD). This confirms the view that the gospel writer is speaking of the first of two occasions where Yeshua turned over the tables of the money changers.
In fact, the construction of the temple complex was not completed until 64 CE (AD) by Herod Agrippa, just six years before the Romans destroyed it.
Joh 2:21 But He had spoken of the temple (naos[G], heiychal[H]) of His body (soma[G]). Joh 2:22 When therefore He was aroused, risen (egeiro[G]) from the dead (nekros[G]), His disciples, religious students (talmidim[H]) remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed, trusted, were confident in (pisteuo[G], yamiynu[H]) the Writing (graphe[G], katuv [ketvi] [H]) and the word (logos[G], davar[H]) which Yeshua had spoken.
“The Temple of His body” being an intimate correlation to the temple of God. In both cases the Greek and Hebrew texts use the same word to describe the Holy place at the centre of the temple precinct
“they believed in the Writing” Both the Greek graphe and the Hebrew katuv (ketvi) mean writing, written thing. Where others translate “scripture” it is more accurate to translate “Writings”, referring specifically to the third section of the Tanakh (OT) called the Ketuvim (Writings) which includes the poetry books [(Psalms, Proverbs, and Job), the Megillot, or Scrolls (Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Ecclesiastes, and Esther), and some of the books of prophecy (Daniel), and history (Ezra, Nehemiah, and I and II Chronicles).]
Joh 2:23 Now when He was in Jerusalem (Yerushalayim[H]: Flood/Downpour of Peace and wholeness) at the Passover (Pascha[G], Chag ha-Pesach[H]), on the festival day (heorte[G], be’chag[H]), many believed, trusted, were confident (pisteuo[G], yamiynu[H]) in His Name (onoma[G], besh’mo[H]), when they saw the miracles (semeion[G], ha-otot[H]) which He did.
“The festival day” refers to the day of the Passover sacrifice called the Chagigah (Festival offering).
The miracles being referred to are those performed during this same period in Yeshua’s early ministry as recorded in the other gospels.
“Many believed in His Name, when they saw the miracles which He did.” Many outside of Yeshua’s circle of family and disciples believed in Him based on the signs He was doing, signs like those of Moses and Elijah, which was what had been expected of the Messiah by the Jewish people. Like the three thousand at Shavuot (Pentecost) and the many thousands more among the Jews who believed both before and after His death and resurrection, it was this remnant of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) who were the first to receive Yeshua, and His gospel continues to be first for the Jews (Romans 1:16).
Joh 2:24 But Yeshua did not commit, entrust (pisteuo[G], he’emiyn[H]), himself to them, upon which (al-asher[H]) he knew all (yada et-kulam[H]), Joh 2:25 And did not need the testimony (martureo[G], le’eidut[H]) of a man (iysh[H]) of humanity (anthropos[G], al-ha’adam[H]): for He knew (yada[H]) what was in, among (en[G], mah-bekerev[H]) humanity, the man (anthropos[G], ha-adam[H]).
“But Yeshua did not entrust himself to them, upon which he knew” At this point in His ministry those who believed Yeshua was the promised Messiah would also have held tightly to the prophecies of His dominion over Israel and the nations. Therefore, they would have been eager to make Him King on the throne of David and see Him physically defeat the Roman empire and bring about the Messianic reign promised in the Tanakh (OT). Knowing this, Yeshua did not entrust Himself to the plans of human beings (cf. Matt.16:23; Mark 8:33). His time to rule and the Messianic age had not yet come, He must first suffer and die for all humanity. This reflects the gentle rebuke made to Miriyam earlier in the chapter (v.4).
“Did not need the testimony of a man: for He knew what was in, among humanity” The second Adam Yeshua knew intimately the nature of the first Adam and his progeny (Humanity). It was not the approval or validation of human beings he sought but the honour and glory of the Father to Whom He submitted all things. Had Yeshua given in to the human desire to promote Himself, He may well have become King and victor over Rome, but at the cost of the damnation of all humanity. Yeshua was not afforded the luxury of error and repentance. He had come to be Holy, just as the Father is Holy. He would endure all things that a human being must endure but would remain sinless for the sake of all humanity.
“4 Therefore, since we have a Kohen Gadol great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Yeshua the Son of Elohim, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a Kohen Gadol high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet remained without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” -Hebrews 4:14-16
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
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
“I will even make a way from within the word, and in the desolation, living waters."
Isa 43:1 And now, thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) who bora’acha (from bara, used of God’s creative action) created you Yaakov (Follower: Jacob), and He that yotzer formed (fashioned) you, Yisrael (Overcome in God), “Al-tiyra No Fear: for I have ge’al’tiycha redeemed (from goel: Kinsman redeemer) you, I have called you ve’shimcha by your name; liy-atah Mine you are.”
“Mercy, Who created you from nothing and formed you from something…”
Following the tragic description of Israel’s disciplining in 42:18-25, the tone of the prophet’s address once again returns to consolation. This is the modus operandi of Isaiah’s prophetic scroll and the rhythm of God’s redemptive practice within the fallen world.
He who created Jacob and formed Israel, by giving Abraham the son of the promise, and causing the seventy members of Jacob's family to grow up into a nation through the bondage of Egypt, promises He will shelter and preserve His people. God reminds Israel that He has removed fear from her through redemption and that she can trust Him according to the evidence of His faithfulness seen in her early history.
The reason that Israel should receive the fearless reality of God is that He has (past tense) redeemed her. Like the Servant of Isaiah 42:1-7, HaShem Himself is the covenant that redeems Israel. We note that the past tense indicates both the redemption from Egypt within time and space and the eternal purpose that has been established for Israel outside of time and space (Romans 11:23-26). The redemption of Israel is purchased through the blood of the Servant King Messiah, sacrificed before the creation of the world (Rev. 13:8).
We note that “goel” is a kinsman redeemer, meaning that in order to qualify for this phrasing God must be speaking of a manifestation of His being that is also literally a Hebrew (a Jew). This is of course a reference to the King Messiah Yeshua, Who is Imanuel (with us God).
“I have called you by your name” is more than just a phrase of endearment, it is a direct reference to Jacob’s wrestling with the man Who is also God (Gen. 32:22-32). Again, this is an allusion to the King Messiah, and a reminder that the tenacious spirit of Jacob, realized in his vulnerability, caused him to hold tight to Imanuel and through trusting Him, received a new name, Yisra (overcome in) El (God: Judge).
HaShem is not God of Israel because we chose Him but because He chose us.
“We love him, because he first loved us.” -1 John 4:19
Isa 43:2 “When you pass ba’mayim through the waters, it’techa Ani with you I Am; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you: when you teileich walk be’mov in the eish fire, you will not be burned; and the flame will not consume you (be kindled upon you).”
Iben Ezra explains that the waters and the fire refer to the armies of Persia and media respectively.
We can also read, “For passing through waters, I am with you; and through the rivers, they will not drown you: for walking in the fire, you will not be burned, and the flame will not consume you.”
Israel had passed through the Red sea and was unharmed, she had crossed over the river Jordan into the land of Israel (speaking to her present location), and her devote representatives in exile, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, will literally pass through fire and yet will neither be burned nor consumed (Daniel 3).
Isa 43:3 “For I am HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Eloheycha your (God: Judge), the Kedush Holy One of Yisrael (Israel), moshi’echa your Saviour: I gave Mitzrayim (Double distress: Egypt) for your ransom, Cush (Black: Ethiopia) and Seva (You drink: son of Cush) in your place.”
“For I Mercy your Judge, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour…”
God explains that His Mercy and Judgement are always available to Israel because He is the Holy One of Israel, and her Saviour.
Throughout this portion of Isaiah HaShem affirms the fact that His very Name is connected to His chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious). In the first verse of chapter 43 He reminds Israel that He has called her by name: now in the present verse He affirms His intrinsic connection to Israel by using the title “Holy One of Israel”.
“I gave Egypt for your ransom” is in the past tense and may refer to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. This could also refer to the conquest of Egypt by Cambyses the son of Cyrus.
Therefore, the giving over of the Egyptians and Ethiopians to Cyrus can be understood as the means by which God is seeding Israel’s return to the land from exile, made possible by the edicts of Cyrus (Ezra 1:1-8). Thus, these nations were given as ransom in order to return Israel to the land.
Isa 43:4 “Since you were precious in my sight, you have nichbadta (from kavod: glory) weighed heavy, full of glory, and I ahavtiycha have loved you: therefore I will give adam a man (humanity) in your place, and uleumiym tribes for nafshecha (nefesh) your soul (existence).”
It is because Israel is precious to the God and is a continual weight upon His heart, and because of His unfailing love for her that He will give “adam” a man in her place, and tribes for her ongoing survival. While it is true, as Iben Ezra says, that adam can refer to humanity, it is none the less, only one possible translation. Given the individualistic language used to qualify the Servant of the previous chapter (42:1-7), and the allusion to the giving of Israel’s name, it seems more likely that the present text refers to the individual King Messiah than to humanity as a whole. Thus, the substitution offered in verse 4 by a man, is an allusion to the spiritual redemption of Israel through the substitutionary sacrifice of the Messiah, and the tribes given are for her physical survival.
Isa 43:5 “Al tiyra No fear: for with you I Am: mi’mizrach from the east (sunrise) I will bring your zarecha seed, umima’arav and from the west (sunset) gather you;”
“No fear” is qualified by “for I am with you”. Thus, the fear of God is an end to fear.
HaShem is promising to literally return the progeny of Israel from the farthest point of the east (Babylon) and the farthest point of the west (Egypt, Assyria: Ezra. 6:22). In fact, as the text continues to say, He will return them from every point of the compass: He is God over all things.
This can also be understood figuratively to apply to the beginning (sunrise) and the end (sunset) of time.
Isa 43:6 “I will say to the tzafon north (hidden), Give up; and to the teiyman south (right hand), Keep not back: bring vanaiy my sons from afar, and venotaiy my daughters from the extremity of ha-aretz the land (earth);”
Those nations in the north who have held Jews captive are commanded to release them from hidden places (oppression, imprisonment). Likewise those to the south are not to hold back the Jews leaving to return to the land of Israel. The word “teiyman” (south) literally means “to the right hand” that is, to the right when facing east, east being the focus of the Hebrew compass, the Temple mount being the Jewish equivalent of “True North”.
HaShem promises to bring both sons and daughters back to the land.
Isa 43:7 “Cal All those called by vishmiy My name: ve’lich’vodiy and for My glory I have berativ (from bara) created him for my glory, yitzartiyv I have formed him; certainly, I have made him.”
This must be understood in context. The plain meaning denotes all those called by the name of the “Holy One of Israel”. Thus, it specifically refers to Hebrews from all the tribes of Israel (Jews). This is further affirmed by the phrasing “For My glory I have created him” (a reference to Jacob [v.1]) and, “I have formed him” (a reference to Israel [v.1]). Both are ethnic designations of the Jewish people: as followers (Jacob) and as overcomers in God (Israel). Jacob and Israel are synonymous terms referring to the chosen ethnic people of God. Thus, the final clause, “I have made him”.
Isa 43:8 “Bring forth am a people blind that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears.”
Regardless of Israel’s spiritual blindness and deafness, she still has eyes and ears. Thus, it is still possible for her to one day see and hear, and return to HaShem.
Isa 43:9 “Cal Let all ha-goyim the nations be assembled together, and let le’umiym the peoples be gathered: who among them can declare this, and show zot to us former things? let them bring forward their eideihem witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, ‘It is truth.’”
Not only all the nations but also all the tribes within those nations are called to appear before HaShem. “Us” refers to HaShem, the heavenly host, and Israel. The nations are challenged to show how they and their gods can prove miracles like those HaShem has performed for Israel. They are also challenged to speak with prophetic authority of the things to come, if they can: of course they cannot. Thus, the witnesses they bring forth to prove their case will have no other choice but to testify to the fact that the God of Israel alone speaks the truth of these things.
Isa 43:10 “Atem You (plural) eidaiy My witnesses, says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), ve’avdiy and my servant whom I have chosen: that you teideu may know veta’amiynu and believe (have faith in) Me, and understand that I am He: lefanaiy before My face there was no el God (Judge) formed, neither will there be after Me.” Isa 43:11 “I, certainly I, am HaShem (YHVH: Mercy); and beside Me there is no moshiya saviour.”
The counterpoint to the folly of the witnesses of the nations is the chosen servant of Hashem, that is, Israel. In spite of her spiritual blindness and deafness, she is none the less witness to all the miraculous deliverances of God and the certain truth of His prophetic word through His prophets. Israel remains God’s witness against the idolatrous nations and their heathen worship.
The unity and uniqueness of the One true God is reaffirmed in the emphatic statement “Understand that I am He: before My face there is no god formed, neither will there be after Me! I, certainly I, am HaShem; and beside Me there is no saviour.”
There are many similarities between the servant of Adonai as a nation (Israel) [Isaiah 42:18-25] and the Servant of Adonai as an individual person (Yeshua the Messiah) [Isaiah 42:1-7]. Both are chosen by God (42:1; 43:10). Both are loved by God (42:1; 43:4). And yet, the differences between the two are also abundantly clear. In both her obedience and disobedience Israel the nation is a witness to the works of God and His faithfulness. She can testify that there is no other god like Hashem. Corporately Israel is essentially blind (v.8) and a passive servant/observer (v.10), this regardless of her morality. On the other hand the Servant Messiah acts to accomplish God’s redemptive purpose for Israel and the nations. He is absolutely obedient, never faltering, never sinning. He delights to do God’s will (42:4).
Isa 43:12 “I have declared, vehosha’tiy and have saved, and I have shown, when there was no strange god among you: therefore you are eidiy My witnesses, says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), va’ani-El and I am God (Judge).”
What God has declared He has performed. He spoke these things long before Israel allowed the strange gods of her rebellion to cloud her judgement. Israel has seen His love and salvation on many occasions and with great miracles, thus, she remains His witness.
Isa 43:13 “Gam Also, miyom from before the day was I am He; and there is none that can deliver out of My hand: I will work, and who will allow it?”
From before the first day, God existed, uncreated. He alone is God over time and space: no other power can deliver out of His hand. No one can say that they have allowed Him to act. He was King, He is King, He will always be King of all things.
Isa 43:14 Thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), your redeemer, Kedush the Holy One of Yisrael Israel; “For your sake I have sent to Vavelah Babylon (Confusion), and have brought down all their nobles, and the Casdiym Chaldeans (Clod breakers), whose cry is in the ships.”
In other words, “I have sent Cyrus to Babylon to crush it”. The Chaldeans were a leading tribe of Babylonia and Babylon’s last Kings came from the Chaldeans. Hence the names Babylonian and Chaldean became synonymous.
Isa 43:15 “Ani I am HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), kedushechem your Holy One, borei Creator of Yisrael Israel, malkechem your King.”
HaShem reminds Israel of His identity. He is first Mercy, the Being, relational. Second, Holy, Israel’s Holy One. Third, Creator of all things, and fourth, King over Israel.
Isa 43:16 Thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), which makes a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters;
A reference to Israel’s deliverance through the Red sea. Or, as Iben Ezra says, a reference to the defeat of the Babylonian ships by Cyrus.
Isa 43:17 Who brings forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power; they will lie down together, they will not rise: they are extinguished, like a flax wick they are quenched.
A description of Pharaoh and his chariots drowned in the Red sea while pursuing Israel to destroy her. Or, the forces of Babylon in defeat against the Persians, as per Iben Ezra.
Isa 43:18 “Don’t you remember the former things, neither consider the things of old?”
An incredulous exhortation asking Israel if she remembers the miraculous deliverances of HaShem attested to by her forebears.
Isa 43:19 “Hineniy Behold, now, I will do a new thing; now it will spring forth; will you not know it? I will even make derekh a way ba’midbar in the wilderness (from within the word), and beiyshimon in the desert (desolation) neharot rivers.”
In the context of this passage the “new thing” will be Israel’s return from exile in the east. He will make a way through the desert to the east of the land of Israel, returning the exiled children of Israel to the land.
The waters once parted to save are now given to revitalize. This is a beautifully ironic Hebrew poetic form.
In the context of God’s greater redemptive purpose the “new thing” is the spiritual redemption of Israel through the Servant King Messiah. Thus, we read, “I will even make a way from within the word, and in the desolation, living waters.”
Isa 43:20 “The beast of the field will honour Me, the taniym serpents (dragons) uvenot and the daughters of ya’anah owls: because I give mayim waters va’’midbar in the wilderness, and neharot rivers beiyshimon in the desert, to give drink to Amiy My people, My chosen.”
This will be both literally and figuratively true. The serpents and owls may be interpreted to refer to demonic beings.
The purpose of the waters is to hydrate “My people, My chosen” ethnic Israel. God will hydrate her both physically and spiritually. These promises precede the coming exile so as to instil a memory of hope into rebellious Israel.
Isa 43:21 “Am A people I have formed for Myself; they will show forth my praise.”
The ultimate outcome of Israel’s discipline will be her repentance and formation as a nation that comes into right relationship with God and send forth His praise. However, this is yet future.
Isa 43:22 “But you have not called upon Me, Yaakov (Jacob: follower); but you have been weary of Me, Yisrael (Israel: overcomes in God).”
Jacob the follower has not followed and Israel the overcomer has not overcome. Israel has been made blind by her own idolatrous vision, and has become deaf through hearing the lies of the nations that surround her.
This is a poignant reminder to us. By watching media we become blind, and listening to media we become deaf. For those with eyes to see there is light in the darkness. For those with ears to hear there is truth in the silence.
Isa 43:23 “You have not brought Me the small of the flock of your oloteicha burnt offerings; uzevacheicha and your sacrifices don’t honour Me. I have not caused you to serve with an offering, nor wearied you with incense.”
This can be understood in at least two ways. It may refer to the fact that Israel had neglected the proper sacrificial practice within the land prior to her exile, or, it may refer prophetically to her inability to offer sacrifices to God in the land of her exile.
Isa 43:24 “None have bought me ba’kesef silver (money) or sugar cane, vecheilev the fat of your sacrifices has not filled Me: but you have made Me to serve, with your chatah sins (missing the mark), you have wearied Me with your avon perversities (iniquities).”
Rather than bringing the appropriate offerings of the Torah, Israel has instead offered money and sugar cane to other gods. Thus, they have not filled HaShem. None the less, Hashem has endured and become weary of Israel’s sin and perversity. This being the counterpoint to her having become weary of Him (v. 22).
Isa 43:25 “I, even I, am he that mocheh blots out your feshaeicha rebellion for My own sake, and will not remember your chatah sins (missing the mark).”
Regardless of Israel’s disobedience, it is not her observance or her lack thereof that is reason for God’s blotting out of her rebellion. To the contrary, it is for His own sake that He will wipe away all memory of her sin.
Isa 43:26 “Remember Me: let us adjudicate together: make your declaration, that you might be justified.”
God implores Israel to remember her true King Hashem and repent so that she might receive justification through Him.
“Come now, and let us reason together, says Adonai: though your sins be as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they will be as wool.” -Isaiah 1:18
Isa 43:27 “Aviycha Your father ha-rishon the first has chatah sinned (missed the mark), and your teachers have pasheu rebelled against Me.”
“Your first father” may refer either to Abraham or to Jacob. The teachers are those who have mislead Israel with the idol philosophies and beliefs of the nations. They may also be the priestly shepherds of Israel who have neglected the proper service of worship which was commanded by God and concerned the Temple cult in Jerusalem.
Isa 43:28 “Therefore I have profaned the shareiy princes of kodesh the sanctuary (Holiness), and have given Yaakov (Jacob: follower) la-cherem to be a dedicated thing, and Yisrael (Israel) le’giddufim to vilification.”
Thus, because Israel’s spiritual leaders had not honoured God and had mislead the people, HaShem will cause the priests, princes of the Sanctuary (a reference to the Temple) to be profaned, ridiculed, dishonoured. HaShem will also give the common people of Jacob to be a dedicated or destroyed thing, and the name of the nation of Israel will become synonymous with villainy. All this is intended to discipline Israel and return her to God through the covenant of the Servant King Messiah.
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,