“The Messiah Who Isaiah the son of strength saw upon the ground of Judah and Jerusalem"
2:1 Ha-d’var The Word asher Who (which, that) Yishaiyahu (Salvation of YHVH [Mercy] Isaiah) ben son of Amotz (Strong) chazah saw (perceived, beheld, prophesied) al upon, on the ground of, over, above, toward, against, and concerning Yehudah (Praise, Judah) and Yerushalayim (Flood, downpour of peace, Jerusalem).
The opening words of Isaiah 2 are reminiscent of the Gospel of Yochanan (John) 1:1.
“In the beginning was Ha-D’var the Word and Ha-D’var the Word was with Elohiym (God) and Ha-D’var the Word was Elohiym (God). He was with Elohiym (God) in the beginning.”
While this is not the p’shat (plain/surface meaning) of the text of Isaiah 2:1, it is none the less a relevant remez (hint) that reveals a profound sod (mystery).
We could read, “The Messiah Who Isaiah the son of strength saw upon the ground of Judah and Jerusalem”
The Hebrew “D’var” has a much wider meaning than the English “Word”. D’var means, “Thing, declaration, promise, warning, word, speech, utterance, matter, case, manner, song, something, leading” etc. Hebrew uses a different word to describe that which is written, “Ketvi” which forms the plural Ketuviym (Writings) is the title of the poetry books of the TaNaKH (OT).
Therefore the plain meaning of Isaiah 2:1 is, “The thing (vision) which Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem”.
Though other nations will be spoken of as the vision unfolds, they are mentioned only according to their relationship to Judah and Jerusalem, and as a result of Israel’s destiny. This is why the text reads, “Concerning Judah and Jerusalem”. These visions of Isaiah are of future events. This is clear because the events he will describe had not yet occurred when Isaiah began his public ministry during the latter years of Uzziah’s (Azariah) reign.
The phrase, “The word which Isaiah chazah (saw)” is in the prophetic past tense. Hebrew prophecy (because it is seeded from outside of time and space by God), sees the future as if it has already taken place. A Hebrew in right relationship with God can remember the future.
Thus Isaiah 2:2-4 which follows, is a yet future picture of the role of Zion at the centre of God’s kingdom. The same prophecy is repeated almost verbatim in Micah 4:1-4
2:2 V’hayah And it came to pass b’achariyt hayamiym in the end of the days, that nachon firmly established will be the har mountain beit house of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) as the head of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and like a beam of light all nations shall flow toward Him (it).
The opening phrase “And it shall come to pass” (As in the majority of English translations) is in fact an attempt to convey the past tense Hebrew v’hayah, meaning, “And it came to pass”. This Hebrew contraction combines the Hebrew vei (and, for) and the Hebrew hayah (was). This is a prophetic-figurative use of the Hebrew language that is intended to convey the timeless nature of Hebrew prophecy. It is to be understood as yet future from an earthly perspective while complete from the perspective of the third heaven (God’s perspective outside of time and space).
The Hebrew phrase b’achariyt hayamiym (in the end of the days), is understood by our Sages to refer to the days of our King Messiah’s reign. These are the days referred to by Christian eschatologists as the Thousand Year Reign (Rev. 20:6). We should remember that to the Jew the numerical value 1000 represents a figure for eternity or perpetuity. Thus the words, “Hashem your Elohiym is the true Elohiym, the faithful Elohiym Who keeps His covenant faithfully to a thousand generations of those who love Him and guard/keep His mitzvot [commands right actions]” (Deut. 7:9), denote a perpetual faithfulness being offered by God to His faithful servants. In a more general sense “the end of days” is the period of time that closes human history.
“This will take place, as the prophet says, in the last of the days. That is, in the days of Messiah, which are the last of the days of the world.” –Ibn Ezra
The second clause “Firmly established will be the mountain house of HaShem as head of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills” Speaks of the mountain of the Lord, which is Mount Zion, the Temple Mount, Ha-makoom (The Place), Har-beit (Mountain house).
Contrary to popular modern conspiracy theories, the mount Isaiah is describing is not in a yet to be discovered alternate location, rather it is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, currently the location of the idolatrous Al Aqsa Mosque (ironic, given that God rebukes Israel in the following chapter (Isa. 3:18) regarding the wearing of crescent moon necklaces that express devotion to an eastern moon deity [Fem.]).
This prophecy of Isaiah foresees a yet future time when HaShem will once again completely return control of the Temple Mount to the Jewish people and from Mount Zion His Messiah will reign over the earth. The “Mount of Hashem’s house” refers to the physical location of Mount Moriah (Temple Mount in Jerusalem) and is also a figurative description of the very centre of God’s government on earth.
At the end of days Mount Zion will be both the centre of Israel’s worship and the place to which the nations come to worship Hashem and honour His Messiah. Following the Thousand Year Reign (Rev. 20:6) Mount Zion will be established eternally as part of the New Jerusalem. However, there will be no physical Temple, because HaShem Himself and the King Messiah will be the Temple of the new and eternal Jerusalem (Rev 21:22).
Therefore, Moriah (Chosen by YHVH [Mercy]) will remain the Mountain of the House of Hashem, only HaShem Himself and the Lamb will be its house. This is a wonderful sod (spiritual mystery) that will only be truly understood at the end of days.
“Will be the head of the mountains and exalted above all the hills” is a specific reference to the rule of God over the false gods that have been worshipped in the high places of Israel and throughout the world on mountain tops and high hills.
“And like a beam of light all nations shall flow toward Him” can be understood either to mean that HaShem’s Word will shine outward like a beam of light drawing the nations to Himself, and or, that the nations will stream toward HaShem and His Holy Mountain like streams of light.
“As it is written (Pr. 6:23), ‘For the commandments is a lamp, and the Torah is light’; go and occupy yourself in kindling the light of the world, to build the Temple, concerning which it is written (Is. 2:2), ‘And unto it shall shine all the nations’.” –Ein Yaakov 22:1:2
“That king that will arise from the seed of David will be a greater sage than Shlomo (Solomon)… and hence he will teach all of the people and instruct them in the way of the Lord. And all the nations will come to hear him…And the ultimate end of all the reward and the final Good which has no interruption or deficiency is the Life of the Olam Haba (World to Come); but the Messianic Age is Olam Hazeh (This World), following its own order, except that sovereignty returns to Israel.” –Mishnah Torah, Repentance 9:2
2:3 And many people shall go and say, “Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), to the house of the Elohaiy (God, Judge) of Yaakov (Follower, Jacob). And He will direct us in His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Tziyon (parched land) will go forth the Torah (Instruction), and D’var the word of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) from Yerushalayim (Flood, downpour of peace, Jerusalem).
We note that this throng of people share the good news of Hashem with others, inviting them to go up to the house of the Judge and God of Jacob (Israel).
“To the house of the God of Jacob: Since he [Jacob] called it [the Temple site] Beth El [the house of God], therefore, it will be called on his name, but Abraham called it a mount, “On God’s mount shall He appear” (Gen. 22:14); Isaac called it a field, “to meditate in the field” (Gen. 24:63).” -Rashi
Isaiah then returns his conversation to his own people and including himself says, “And He (God with us) will direct us in His (God with us) ways, and we will walk in His (God with us) paths.”
Isaiah then explains how this will be possible both practically and spiritually speaking:
“For out of Tziyon will go forth the Torah, and D’var the Word of HaShem from Yerushalayim.”
“Isaiah 61:6 ‘and you (Israel) will be proclaimed priests of the Lord.’ This is also the true meaning of ‘The Torah emanates from Zion.” (Isaiah 2:3)” –Sforno
Referring to the mitzvoth of the Torah the book of Deuteronomy says:
“Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” –Deuteronomy 11:19 (NIV)
“For out of Tziyon (parched land) will go forth the Torah”. The Torah consists of the five books of Moses and in a wider sense the books of the Tanach, further still it covers all the writings of Scripture. However, in the context of Isaiah it must by an historical contextual definition constitute the books of Moses alone, the written Instruction of Hashem, and the literal Torah. This writing of God’s word can be described by the Hebrew ketvi (Literally written).
Isaiah then writes “and D’var the Word of HaShem from Yerushalayim”. Here he links the living Word (D’var: Yeshua) of God to the written word (ketvi: Torah). In fact, the living Word Yeshua is both the Author and the goal of the Torah (Romans 10:4).
We note that if we read the text according to the meaning contained in the names used, we see a remez (hint) of something deeper:
“For out of a parched land will go forth the Instruction and the living person of God’s word from a downpour of peace”.
The written word (Torah: Ha-ketvi) is seeded into a parched sin affected land and goes out to expose the sin of humanity. The Living Word Yeshua (D’var), having been resurrected from the parched land, brings a downpour of peace upon those who had been slaves to the fear of death (the result of sin), and offers to all humanity God’s redemptive solution to the sin that the Torah has exposed. Therefore, the Torah both exposes sin and points to the solution for sin.
2:4 And He shall judge between the nations (ha-goyiym), and shall hochiyach prove, judge, correct, arbitrate between many peoples (l’amiym): and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning knives: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war any longer.
“Beat your plowshares into swords
and your pruning hooks into spears.
Let the weakling say,
‘I am strong!’” –Joel 3:10 (NIV)
“‘And he shall judge’. He, who is the judge, the Messiah, shall judge” –Ibn Ezra
The opening phrasing alludes to the arbitration carried out by the Messiah during the Messianic age (Thousand Year Reign) prior to the second resurrection. Following the second resurrection (Rev. 20:11-15) and the inception of the Olam Haba (World to come) there will no longer be any need for arbitration because the Olam Haba will be devoid of sin and its consequences.
The Messianic age will be marked by the repentance of nations and the transforming of all weapons of war into tools for the prospering of humanity. This will be made possible through the return and reign of the Messiah (Psalm 72).
There has yet to be any period in history where these things have happened. Therefore, Isaiah is speaking of a latter period of human history that is still yet to come. This is a clue to the reader as to the chronological method by which the Messiah will fulfil His mandate.
2:5 House of Yaakov (Follower), come you, and let us walk in the b’or light (Gen. 1:3) of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
Isaiah has previously referred to the mountain house of Hashem. He now challenges Israel to get her house in order by turning toward the light (Or) of HaShem. The light being referred to predates the creation of the heavenly lights (Gen. 1:3). This light (Or), like the Word (D’var) of Hashem, is a manifestation of the Spirit and the countenance of the Torah, both predating it and shining forth from it.
Isaiah includes himself in this rebuke, by using the plural “us” in the same way Moses did when he prayed, “forgive our iniquity” (Exodus 34:9). “I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”(Isaiah 6:5) Isaiah’s identification with the house of Jacob is a mark of the true prophet of Hashem. Those prophets who accuse and condemn Israel without identifying with her, becoming heartbroken over her sin and walking in her suffering, are not prophets of God, but enemies of both God and Israel. Let this be a warning to those so called Christians who point their fingers in accusation at the modern state of Israel without lifting a finger to aid and encourage her in her suffering. Who are you to discipline another Father’s child?
The meaning of this verse is further illuminated by the meanings of the names used:
“All you who are descended from the follower, come and let us walk in the light of Mercy.”
It is not by chance that Abraham had come from Ur (Or: light). Thus Isaiah calls Israel to return to the faith of her father Abraham.
2:6 Therefore, You (Hashem) have natashtah cast off Your people the house of Yaakov (Follower), because they are filled up from the east, and are soothsayers like the P’lishtiym (Immigrants, Philistines), and in my children, foreigners are satisfied.
The “Therefore” means, because of the promise of Israel’s redemption and restoration at the end of days, and because she have been given the light of Hashem to follow, and because she has been called to send forth the Torah from Zion, but has shown no intention of returning to Hashem and honouring her calling: You (Hashem) have cast off Your people.
Natashtah, often translated “left, forsaken, rejected” is better translated “Cast off”. Israel has not been utterly forsaken or left, rather, like a garment she has been temporarily cast off for the sake of the nations (Romans 11:11).
“Filled from the East” is an allusion to idolatrous practices and supplies from the nations East of Israel. Not only has Israel introduced pagan worship practices, she has also become reliant on the produce of foreigners rather than relying on God for her provision.
The last clause “And in my children foreigners are satisfied” can be understood to mean that the foreigners are satisfied with Israel’s syncretistic idolatry and the adoption of foreign practices, or, it could be a much darker euphemistic saying referring to child sexual abuse.
It is profoundly significant that Israel is likened to the Philistines, whose name literally means “Immigrants”. The prophet is saying that Israel to whom God had promised the land have effectively (though temporarily) become immigrants in the land because God intends to punish them through dispersion into foreign lands if they do not repent from their idolatry.
In fact, verse 6 begins a list of key steps in Israel’s regression. The first of which is 1.) Idolatry, that is, trusting in other gods.
2:7 And their land is full of kesef silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures; their land is full of horses, and there is no end to their mark’botayu (merkabah) chariots:
The second step in Israel’s regression is 2.) Greed, that is, trusting in temporary earthly wealth (Also a form of idolatry).
The third step is 3.) Military Prowess, that is, trusting in her own military strength for deliverance (Also a form of idolatry).
2:8 And their land is full of eliyliym idols; the work (idols) of their own hands they bow down to, that which they have fashioned with their fingers:
The list of regression comes full circle back to step one, Idolatry.
“Eliyliym ‘Idols’. Root Al ‘not’; the idols are called by this name, because there is no reality in them.” –Ibn Ezra
Israel’s severe lack of logic and irony of practice is laid bare by Isaiah as he observes the fingers of the hands that made the idols extending from palms which are face down on the ground in worship of the idols they have formed. There is a spiritual blindness that enters the mind of the wilful sinner. A blindness that prevents even basic logical observations.
“They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance in them due to the hardness of their heart. Since they are past feeling, they have turned themselves over to indecency for the practice of every kind of immorality, with greed for more.” –Ephesians 4:18-19 (TLV)
2:9 And bow down adam humanity, and be humbled iysh man: therefore don’t tisa lift, carry or bear them up.
The prophet emphasizes the degradation of Israel and humanity in general, both corporate and individual:
“Adam (humanity) go ahead, bow down to your idols, and each of you as individuals, go ahead, make yourselves look foolish, humiliate yourselves in worship of false gods: therefore Hashem, don’t lift them out of the quagmire of their own idolatrous stupidity, don’t bear the weight of their rejection any longer!”
Yarchi interprets adam to mean “Men of low stature” and iysh as being “Men of high stature”. Thus the sin of idolatry has permeated every echelon of society.
2:10 Enter the rock, and conceal yourself in the dry earth, before the face of the terror (1a#) of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy), and because of the glory of His majesty.
This warning is similar to the warnings of Yeshua’s revelation to Yochanan (Rev. 6:15).
2:11 The lofty (arrogant) eyes (looking down) of adam humanity will become bowed down, along with the haughtiness of anashiym men, and the v’nisgav inaccessibly high Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) alone shall be exalted in that day (2a#).
The idolatrous pride of humanity will be brought low along with the individual pride of every rebellious person. While Hashem, Who is above and outside all things will be the honoured as God alone.
“Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) will be king over the whole earth. On that day will Hashem be echad (one), and his name the echad (one).” –Zechariah 14:9
2:12 Kiy yom For a day of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) Tz’vaot Who goes forth in war (of hosts) will be upon all who are proud and lofty, and upon all who are lifted up (in their own eyes) in order to be brought low:
It is worth noting that the opening phrase says “For a day” rather than “On the day”. This day is described as coming against and falling upon the proud and all who have lifted themselves up in rebellion toward God. The prophet is repeating the promise that the wicked will be brought low because it has been firmly established by Hashem.
2:13 And upon all the cedars of Levanon (Witness), that arise and are lifted up, and upon all the oaks of ha-Bashan the fruitful, 2:14 And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, 2:15 And upon every high tower, and upon every fortified wall, 2:16 And upon all the ships of Tarshish (Yellow jasper [Cyprus, Spain]), and upon all objects of desire.
The same day of the Lord will come upon the pride of Israel’s neighbours and upon all the high places of the earth where false gods have been worshipped. God’s wrath will also be poured out on the objects of humanity’s rebellion and pride, such as their skyscrapers and fortifications. All that humanity has trusted in to secure her delusion of invincibility will be destroyed and brought low.
Tarshish, Tarseus or Carthage, was a city at the western end of the Mediterranean and is a metaphor for ocean going traders. This day of the Lord’s wrath will be made manifest in a way that will shake the entire earth.
2:17 And bowed down will be the loftiness of ha-adam the man, and brought low will be the haughtiness of anashiym men: and the v’nisgav inaccessibly high Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) alone shall be exalted in that day (2b#). 2:18 And ha-eliyliym the idols in their entirety He will utterly cut off.
Ha-adam refers to rebellious humanity, whereas anashiym refers to every individual who continues to rebel against God. Once again the unique singular identity of Hashem will be given due honour and He alone will be worshipped as echad (One). Prior to this the idols of this fallen world will be utterly wiped out, cut off, neither to be seen nor heard of again.
2:19 And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of dry earth, before the face of the terror (1b#) of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy), and because of the glory of His majesty, when He will arise to shake and terrify the earth.
Isaiah establishes the plight of the idolatrous (Isaiah 2:10). Firmly established by Hashem.
"when he shall be revealed, to break in pieces the wicked of the earth;'' –Targum
2:20 In that day ha-hu he (him) shall cast ha-adam the man’s idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to bow down to, to the moles and to the bats;
Reference to the moles and bats is a figurative way to denote darkness, isolation and punishment.
2:21 To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, before the face of the terror (1c#) of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy), and because of the glory of His majesty, when He will arise to shake and terrify the earth.
For the third time the plight of the wicked is pictured as a hiding in terror. If twice is firmly established, three times is irrevocably certain. In an age when punishment is frowned upon by the morally liberal, these words of Isaiah penetrate and dissipate the politically correct smokescreen of lies that offers forgiveness to the unrepentant. Wrath is certain and it will be the end of all those who pursue it.
2:22 Cease him (Him) from ha-adam the man, whose n’shmah breath is in his nostrils (Gen. 2:7): for what nechshav is he thinking, inventing, planning, imagining?
In other words, “Don’t place your trust in fallen humanity. For we received our life breath (ruach) from an intimate creative act of HaShem, but have none the less rejected the One who gave us life and have instead pursued our own imagined deity”.
"for he is alive today, and tomorrow he is not, and he is to be accounted as nothing;'' –Targum (Isaiah 2:22)
© Yaakov Brown 2017
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.