“Trust ye in the Word of the Lord for ever and ever: thus ye shall be saved by the Word, who is the fear of the Lord, the mighty One to eternity.” -Targum Yonatan (approx.. 2nd Century CE)
Isaiah 26 is a song of the redeemed people of ethnic-religious Israel. Who, at the time of their individual and national redemption at the end of the age “In the Day”, will reflect on the Lord’s love and protection over them and rejoice; soberly acknowledging that though other lords “adoniym”, have ruled them in their disobedience, a remnant has always sought the one true God of Israel HaShem (YHVH), her King of Mercy. Thus, having received her own Messiah Yeshua, in “The Day” (Last Day: time period) she will rejoice and sing of God’s goodness and judgement against His enemies.
NB: This chapter is not, as some foolishly assert, a song of or about, the Church.
It is worth noting that the Holy Personal Name of God YHVH, which denotes mercy, is used 12 times in this portion of scripture. A portion that details a song of the redeemed 12 tribes of Israel. A people whom God calls, “Ami” (My people).
Isa 26:1 Bayom In the day, that (he) one, singing the song, this one, be’eretz in the land of Yehudah (Judah: Praise): A city of strength to us; yeshuah salvation appointed as a wall and fortress.
“At that time they shall sing a new song in the land of the house of Judah: ‘We have a strong city, salvation and mercy shall be established upon her walls.’” -Targum Yonatan (approx.. 2nd Century CE)
“Praise HaShem (YHVH). Sing unto HaShem (YHVH) a new song, and praise Him in the congregation of Chasidiym faithful ones.” -Tehillim/Psalms 149:1
“The city of Jerusalem, which was always our strength from time immemorial, the Savior shall place salvation for its walls and its bulwark.” -Rashi
“A city of strength” refers to Jerusalem, both earthly and new (now and not yet) [Revelation 21:2].
NB: A bulwark is a smaller wall of defence that precedes the main city walls.
Iben Ezra notes that this city is Jerusalem, and that Jerusalem is strength to “us”, that is, to Israel (religious, ethnic, empirical). He further states that “God will appoint salvation.”
Jerusalem, the meaning of which is “Flood/downpour of Peace”, is our present strength and our future hope. It is our present strength because in Messiah Yeshua we receive the flood of Peace that comes with the seal of His redemptive sacrifice and resurrection. This peace is imparted to us through the Spirit of the Father and the Son, the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). Jerusalem is also our future hope because we are currently bound to time and space. We look to the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2), something the writers of the Targum also looked toward. That Jerusalem is prepared for us outside of time and space and will descend at the coming of the Messiah. God has appointed our salvation (yeshuah) in Himself. His name is Yeshua, and He is the King Messiah of Israel.
Isa 26:2 Open His gates, ve’yavo and enter in goy a nation tzadik righteous shomeir keeping, guarding, awaiting emuniym faithfulness, trusts, trusting.
A city is usually referred to in the feminine, therefore, the opening phrase “Open His gates” is likely a referance to the Lord because the nearest subject is the walls which are also feminine. Thus, it seems that it is the New Jerusalem that is alluded to here, the city whose gates belong to HaShem. This is why the masculine is used.
The righteous nation mentioned is none other than redeemed ethnic-religious Israel (redeemed through Yeshua the Messiah). She is pictured here as the nation who guards, keeps, awaits, and carries the emuniym, eternal trust and faithfulness of God. This trust is in the One Who both birthed her and is born of her, that is Yeshua the Messiah.
While the more common usage of shomeir is “Guard, keep” etc. Rashi alludes to its use in other parts of Scripture in the sense of “awaiting”:
“Shomeir-waiting. Compare Gen 37:11, ‘And his father awaited (shomeir) the matter.’ Similarly Deut. 7:12, ‘And the Lord, your God, shall await (shomeir) the covenant for you.” -Rashi
The Rabbeinu Bahya on Shemot (Exodus) 19:6:2 explains that the phrase “goy kadosh” (Holy nation) is possessive and can be rendered as “Nation belonging to the Holy One”. It further states that a similar construction is used in Isaiah 26:2, “goy tzadek” (Nation belonging to the Righteous One). It explains that these constructions are in reference to ethnic-religious Israel’s role in the Olam Haba (world to come), whereas the construction “mamlechet kohaniym” (Kingdom of Priests [Exodus 19:6:2]) represents Israel’s role in the Olam Hazeh (present world).
Iben Ezra, says that “The gates of that city should only be opened for righteous people”. We know that no one is truly righteous but God, and that it is only through God the Son that we can be made righteous. Therefore, those who are made righteous through Messiah, both Jew and Gentile, will enter this city; which is the New Jerusalem.
Isa 26:3 Yitzer forming, purposing samukh rest titzor to watch over him in shalom, shalom peace, peace (wholeness, wholeness, immutable peace, peace firmly established, eternal peace), because in Him he batuach firmly places trust, feels secure, safe, without care.
“In a perfect heart they shall preserve peace: peace shall be wrought for them, because they have trusted in thy Word.” -Targum Yonatan (approx. 2nd Century CE)
Notice that it is God Who forms and purposes rest, and that God’s rest watches over the believer in immutable (perfect and perpetual) peace as a result of the believer responding to God’s love with a continual act of temporal trust (batuach). Temporal meaning, this world is temporal. Thus, we trust in Him daily until we enter the Olam Haba (world to come).
The word "perfect" is not in the Hebrew text, rather the text says, "shalom, shalom (peace, peace)". This doubling of the word shalom denotes the fact that peace has been firmly established for those who trust (betach) in HaShem. This peace is immutable and corresponds to the eternal trust/faith (emunah) received by those who act in perpetual temporal trust (betach) as a response to God’s redemptive offer of eternal life through His Son Yeshua.
Isa 26:4 Bitchu His trust, Ba’YHVH is in HaShem (Mercy) adeiy-ad beyond perpetuity (for ever and ever); for beYH in Yah (YHVH: Mercy) HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), tzur is rock, cliff face, olamiym everlasting, worlds perpetual.
“Trust ye in the Word of the Lord for ever and ever: thus ye shall be saved by the Word, who is the fear of the Lord, the mighty One to eternity.” -Targum Yonatan (approx.. 2nd Century CE)
Note that the Targum Yonatan ( an ancient non-messianic paraphrase) alludes to the fact that the Word of the Lord is the One Who saves. Compare Yochanan (John) chapter 1.
The fact that the Holy personal name of God is used three times in this verse is significant given that it is a verse which explains the kind of temporal trust action that leads to eternal security in God.
We read that HaShem is like a “rock, cliff face”, which is a metaphor for immovable strength. and he has been the Rock of His people ethnic-religious Israel in olam hazeh this world, and in ha-olam haba the world to come. The Talmud explains that “He that trusts in HaShem has a refuge in this world, and in the world to come.” [Talmud. Bab. Menachot. Fol. 29. 2.]
Isa 26:5 For He has brought down them that dwell on high, the lofty city: He lays it low, He lays it low even to the ground; He brings it even to the dust.
Here, the proud and lofty city is alluded to in contrast to the city of God where the righteous will dwell. The lofty city is a figure for the seat of Satan’s temporal power on earth, that is Babylon. In a wider sense it refers to any city that rejects God and His people. Rashi compares the lofty city with Tyre and Rome, a city which later Jewish commentators see as a subsequent manifestation of Babylon. Iben Ezra says that “Them that dwell on high, etc. This refers to the heathens.” And adds that “He will continually lay it low.”
Speaking of Babylon in the previous chapter Isaiah says, “And the high place of your fortress walls He brought down to strike the soil, ground, land until it turned to dust.” In both cases “dust” is a metaphor for death and destruction.
Isa 26:6 The foot shall tread it down; the feet of the poor, and the steps of the lowly.
Kimchi explains that these are the poor of Israel. Therefore, this follows the theme of the previous chapter and Israel ruling over those who had oppressed her.
“He will bring it so low, that it will be trodden not by the foot of the noble but by that of the poor.” – Iben Ezra
Yarchi interprets the “feet of the poor” as referring to the feet of the King Messiah, according to Zechariah:
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your King comes to you: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon a donkey, and upon a colt the foal of a donkey.” -Zechariah 9:9
Isa 26:7 Orakh A path la’tzadik to the righteous: meiyoshariym upright ones, a straight magal track, entrenchment tzadik a righteous tepaleis balance, justice, ponderance, weighing.
“The paths of the righteous are right: thou wilt establish the works of the ways of the just.” -Targum Yonatan (approx.. 2nd Century CE)
“They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.” -Jeremiah 31:9
Once again the prophet refers to righteous redeemed Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical). When compared to the words of Jeremiah we see that the Lord entrenches the paths of the righteous in living waters that flow toward the goal He has set for them. In Him the path of the righteous leads to a merciful judgement that weighs love on the scales of justice and finds in favour of the redeemed. His path is clear and straight, there is no wavering in it.
Isa 26:8 Indeed, in the path of Your judgments, justice HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), kiveynucha we hope expectantly, waiting; for Your name, for Your remembering, ta’avat is the desire, longing of our nafesh entire being (Soul).
“He shows His Word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel.” -Tehillim/Psalms 147:19
We note that the individual (Yaakov: follower) who seeks redemption is shown the Word (D’var: Yeshua) of the Lord, and that the corporate body born of the follower (Yaakov) and named for her salvation, that is Israel (Yisra-overcome El-in God/the Judge), is guided by His ordinance and right judgements.
Many misunderstand the Hebrew word “nefesh” (soul). While it can refer to that which is eternal in every created living being, it also encompasses the mechanisms and material elements of the body and its functioning within this world. Therefore, it is better to translate nafesh as “entire being”, meaning, from conception unto eternity.
Note that it is in the path of God’s ordered guidelines and His manifest justice that the faithful place their hope, and not in the temporal and flawed justice and rules of humanity. Not only does the servant of God hope in His justice and instruction, the servant also waits patiently and expectantly for the fullness of God’s justice. Waiting expectantly for the Holy Name of Mercy YHVH and remembering His attributes. This is the unquenchable desire and longing of the entire being of the faithful servant of HaShem.
Isa 26:9 Nafshi My entire self (Soul) iviytiycha desires, sighs, wants, longs for You balaylah in the night; indeed, ruachi my spirit, breath within me ashacharecha diligently, earnestly seeks for you early, because when Your judgments, justice are laaretz in the land/earth, tzedek righteousness Lamdu is learned by he who dwells in the teiveil world.
While the Hebrew words “nefesh” and “ruach” are associated with all living creatures, the convergence of the two is unique within the human being and is referred to in Hebrew as “neshamah” (breath, spirit, panting of flesh, soul and spirit as one). The divisions of soul and spirit in the present text should not lead us to conclude a disunity within the soul as a complete entity. The purpose of the distinction is to reveal the unique and intimate nature of humanity in relationship to the Creator God. Animals and plant life do not share the neshamah of humanity, rather they are created to be cared for by humanity as an expression of humanity’s likeness to the Creator Who is the singular uncreated relational being.
“My soul longs for You at night” is both literal and figurative. Israel, both as individuals and as a redeemed nation long for God at night time. In addition, the night can refer to a state of captivity and distress (Yarchi). Therefore, we can read “My soul longs for You when I am in captivity”.
“My spirit within me earnestly seeks for You early” is again both literal and figurative. Literal in the sense of morning prayer (Sacharit) and figurative in the sense of rejoicing in freedom from captivity, symbolized by the breaking of dawn and the morning light. Thus, with all of his being both soul and spirit the faithful servant of HaShem seeks Him “evening and morning” according to the pattern of creation (Compare Genesis 1).
“When Your judgments, justice are laaretz in the land, tzedek righteousness is learned by he who dwells in the world.” In other words, “When the righteousness of God dwells in the hearts and lives of redeemed Israel in the land of Israel, the other nations witness it and learn to fear, honour and worship the God of Israel. The Hebrew teiveil refers to the inhabited parts of the earth.
Isa 26:10 Yuchan Though grace, unmerited favour is shown to the wicked, yet he refuses to learn righteousness; in the land of nechokhot straightness he acts wrongfully, and refuses to see the majesty of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
This verse while speaking specifically of the wicked who act shamefully against the land and people of Israel and her God, also applies to the wicked at large. God does not send wicked people to eternal punishment, rather, due to their own self worship and stubborn refusal of God’s love, they are left with no other destination. Therefore, although they are shown and offered grace they refuse it and spit on the goodness of God in order to promote themselves. God’s majesty is seen throughout creation, but they refuse to see it.
The Jewish commentator Yarchi interprets the “land of straightness” as Jerusalem, and the temple, and sees the wrongful acts as being perpetrated by Israel’s enemies, who spoil, plunder, and destroy the holy hill.
The Talmud (T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 6. 1.) interprets the wicked as being Esau, who is a figure for the Romans, the destroyers of Jerusalem and the land of Israel in the latter part of the first century CE/AD.
Isa 26:11 HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), Your hand is lifted up, and yet they don’t see: but they will be put to shame when they see Your zeal for the people; indeed, fire will devour, burn up, consume Your, enemies.
“O Lord, when thou shalt be revealed in thy power to do good to them that fear thee, there will be no light to the enemies of thy people: the wicked shall see it, and shall be confounded. The vengeance of thy people shall cover them; yea, fire shall consume thy enemies.” -Targum Yonatan (approx.. 2nd Century CE)
In the latter days fire will come from God’s prophets and consume His enemies:
“And if any man will hurt them, fire will proceed out of their mouth, and devour their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.” -Revelation 11:5
Notice that the enemies of God (the wicked) will be put to shame, when they see God’s zeal for His people Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical).
Isa 26:12 HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), You will establish shalom peace for us; for You have also made all our works (deeds) in us.
All that has, is, and will be done in Israel, has been purposed by the hand of God for His glory and her established peace.
In other words, “You have always done for us that which we did not know how to do.”
Isa 26:13 HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Eloheinu our God (Judge), other adoniym lords besides You have had dominion over us; but by You only will we make mention of Your name.
In other words, “We won’t associate Your Name with inferior lords”.
The Targum interprets this to refer to the unfaithful Jewish governors who had ruled over Israel. It may also refer to the Assyrians and Babylonians, and can certainly represent any and all anti-Messianic lords and rulers who seek to oppress Israel. It probably does not refer to the worship of the baaliym (husbands, masters, false gods) or else the Hebrew would have been “baaliym” rather than “adoniym”. However, the reason for the choosing of “adoniym” may have been to use a title that encompassed both human and demonic rulers. In which case “baaliym” can be interpreted implicitly. This is less likely though, given the following verse which speaks of the lords being dead, something that is not appointed for demonic entities until the judgement and subsequent eternal punishment.
Isa 26:14 They are dead, they will not live; they are deceased, they will not rise: therefore You have visited and destroyed them, and made all remembrance of them to perish.
The fact that the lords of the previous verse are dead, will not live, and are deceased; they will not to rise, means that they are wicked human rulers who are destined for the second death of eternal punishment. Thus there will be no remembrance of them and they will perish in the lake of fire alluded to in the Revelation. Additionally, they no longer have power over Israel because she has been redeemed by HaShem and she will give Him glory alone forever.
Isa 26:15 You have added increase to the nation, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), You have added increase to the nation; You are glorified; You have enlarged all the borders of the aretz land.
The “Nation” is Israel, who has previously been called “The righteous nation” (Isaiah 26:2). and the borders are of Israel’s aretz land. Once again the repetition denotes the fact that God has firmly established this outcome.
Isa 26:16 HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), in distress they have sought You; tzakun they poured out, melted into lachash whispering when Your discipline was upon them.
The whispering prayer is of the weak and penitent, the desperate and remorseful. Notice that the distress which Israel had suffered causes her to melt and be poured out, resulting in these whispered prayers of supplication.
Isa 26:17 Like a woman with child, that draws near to the time of her delivery, and is in pain and cries out in her pangs; so we have been before You, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
This is an analogy that denotes great expectation, hope and anticipation on the part of the nation of Israel.
Isa 26:18 We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not accomplished any yeshuot salvation in the aretz land/earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen.
Israel had thought herself pregnant with the hope of a redemption born of her own piety, only to find that her own piety was nothing but flatulence. What she thought to be her deliverance was nothing more than worthless air devoid of salvation. She was not able to obtain salvation in her own land, nor were those in the inhabited world able to obtain salvation. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
Salvation cannot be accomplished by human beings, it must be received. No effort on our part will bring about redemption, but God Himself will redeem (Just as the Passover Haggadah proclaims, “I have redeemed you: I Myself, and no other!”
Isa 26:19 Your dead will live; my dead body will arise. Awake and sing, you that dwell in the dust; for your tal dew (night mist) is oraot lights, talecha your night mist, vearetz and the land/earth will cast forth the dead.
This is one of the places in Scripture from which the Jewish belief in the resurrection is proved; a belief that predates Hellenistic thought by at least 400 years. This verse is also applied to the times of the Messiah, and to the resurrection in His days (Talmud. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 90. 2, & Cetubot, fol. 111. 1. Midrash Kohelet, fol. 62. 3. Targum in loc.).
“Your dead will live” is an allusion to the resurrection of the righteous and specifically to the resurrection of the righteous of Israel.
“My dead body will arise” is firstly a personal testimony of the prophet himself and secondly the prophetic testimony of the Messiah. The first person singular should not be interpreted to refer to multiple people.
“Awake and sing, you that dwell in the dust” is a metaphor for the resurrection of the dead. This is a poetic repetition like the couplets of the psalms which seeks to remind the reader that these matters are firmly established.
“for your tal dew (night mist) is oraot lights, talecha your night mist:” This is an allusion to the present glory of God in the convergence of the resurrection. The Shekhinah or k’vod HaShem, a mist or dew of lights that raise the dead. Water (dew) and light are pictured together here as the mechanisms for bringing forth the plant that grows from that which had perished. As Rav Shaul says:
“For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.” – 1 Corinthians 15:53
Isa 26:20 Come, ami My people, enter into your innermost chambers, and shut your doors: hide yourself for a little moment, until the za’am indignation, rage, has passed over.
HaShem now speaks gently to His beloved chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical), saying, “Ami” (My people). Israel is being asked to do as she did during the plague of the firstborn in Egypt, “enter into your innermost chambers, and shut your doors: hide yourself for a little moment, until the za’am indignation, rage, has passed over.”
The indignation and rage are that of HaShem against the wicked. Therefore, He once again hides Israel “in the cleft of the Rock” as it were. This concerns the latter days and a time when HaShem will once again shield Israel, this time as a redeemed nation through Yeshua the King Messiah. Hashem’s messenger (Angel) will once again pass over and see the blood of the Pesach Lamb (Yeshua) on the doorframes of the houses of Israel and she will be spared while her enemies and those who have hated HaShem will suffer His rage.
“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.” -Daniel 12:1(NIV)
Isa 26:21 For, behold, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) comes forth out of His place to punish the inhabitants of ha-aretz the land/earth for their iniquity: ha-aretz the land/earth also shall reveal her blood, and will cover her slain no more.
"and the earth shall reveal the innocent blood that is shed on it, and shall no more cover her slain.” -Targum Yonatan (approx.. 2nd Century CE)
“For, behold, the Lord comes forth out of His place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth.” -Micah 1:3
God, being omnipresent, is everywhere, however, the Hebrew text uses picture language to convey a sense of God’s immutable authority over all things, thus, He comes forth from the heavens, out of His dwelling place, His throne, and descends to the highest places of the earth, showing them to be figuratively, far beneath His heights. Thus, He justly punishes iniquity.
At the coming of God in power at the end of the age, the land will reveal all the innocent blood shed from the blood of Abel to the last of the martyrs, that is those who have died “Kadosh Hashem” sanctifying the Holy Name.
“And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.” -Revelation 18:24
“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until You judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’ Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sister, were killed just as they had been.” -Revelation 6:9-11
How long, Sovereign Lord of Mercy?
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.