One by one we will truly become echad (one).
Chapter 27 continues the theme of the impending judgement of the nations, in particular the three world powers of Isaiah’s day, Assyria, Babylon and Egypt. In the midst of God’s judgement against Israel’s enemies, He turns to the subject of Israel herself. His precious vineyard, Israel is not treated with the same severity as her enemies in regard to her moral decay. Rather, she is disciplined as a beloved child. Thus, the song of the vineyard, which mirrors that of Isaiah 5, is the story of Israel’s physical and spiritual redemption. The present text has historical, geographical and cultural context that must not be overlooked, however, it is also rich with figurative prophecy alluding to yet future events. Therefore, as in all cases, we do not limit ourselves to the false choices proposed by so many theologians, both Jewish and Christian, rather, we accept the mystery that is held in balance between the plain meaning and the figurative meaning. Once again, the remez (hint), drash (comparative), and the sod (mystery) while important and relevant, must submit to the p’shat (plain) meaning of the text. This is just one of the ways that God has given us to avoid error in interpretation. As always, we of course rely on the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) as He reveals the teaching of the Rabbi Yeshua our King Messiah.
Isa 27:1 Bayom In the day ha-hu the (he) one, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) will punish leve’yatan (serpent, sea creature, entwined, self-joining one) the nachash (Serpent, dragon) bariach (fleeing, fugitive) with a severe chereb sword, great and strong, even leve’yatan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay ha-taniyn the dragon that’s in bayam the sea (body of water).
“At that time the Lord shall punish with his great, mighty, and strong sword the king, who has magnified himself as Pharaoh the first, and the king who has exalted himself as Senna cherib the second; and he shall slay the king that is strong as the dragon that is in the sea.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE/BCE)
Once again, “the Day” is a reference to that future day, and or time period, when historically, Israel sees the fulfilment of the defeat of her enemies, and to the yet future day, and or time period, at the end of days, when HaShem will bring about Israel’s physical and spiritual redemption through His Son our King Messiah Yeshua. The sense is not so much one of chronology as it is of convergence. Therefore, “the Day” is a day of convergence, be it in 24 hours or in days plural made echad (one).
The “Serpent/Snake/Monster” is used throughout Scripture as a symbol of the enemy Satan (Accuser) and his dark forces (Genesis 3 etc.). In the Tanakh it is seen as a created animal (Job 26:13, Psalm 58:4 etc.) and figuratively as the kings and armies sent against Israel (Jeremiah 8:17; 46:22; Psalm 140:3).
Given the context of this passage, we are wise to consider the correlation between the three serpents referred to in verse 1 and the three predominant kingdoms alluded to in verses12 and 13.
There are obvious comparisons to be made between the present text and the book of Revelation. The greatest of serpents is of course Satan (Genesis 3), who is the enemy of all who believe, both Jew and Gentile. In the latter days he will suffer the fullness of his ultimate defeat, begun within time and space at the cross of our Messiah and purposed outside of time and space from before the creation (Rev. 20:2-3, 10).
The “severe chereb (sword)” is a sword of judgement (Gen. 3:24; Ex. 5:3; 1 Sam. 15:8; Rev. 19:15).
Isa 27:2 Bayom In the day ha-hu the (he) one, kerem vineyard chemed delightful (desirable, pleasant) answer her.
“At that time the congregation of Israel, which is like a vineyard planted in a goodly land, shall sing concerning that vineyard” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE/BCE)
In the day when God destroys the serpents, a song will be sung of His vineyard (Israel). A song, a parable, a prophecy.
Israel is referred to as a vineyard in numerous Scriptures throughout the Bible (Isaiah 5:1; Son. 8:11; John 15:1; Luke 13:6).
These words draw the reader’s attention and remind the reader of the former song of Hashem’s vineyard in which Israel is judged and found wanting (Isaiah 5). In the present text however, the song, while alluding to Israel’s fallen nature, also tells of the redemption of Israel.
Israel (ethnic, religious) is in no way a figure for the Church. It is ludicrous, historically inaccurate, prophetically untenable, anti-Semitic and intellectually dishonest to say such a thing.
Isa 27:3 Ani I HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) notzrah am guarding it with fidelity, I will water it every moment: lest any visit harm upon it, night and day I will guard it with fidelity.
“I, the Lord, keep the covenant of their fathers with them, that I may not destroy them; but at the time that they provoked me to anger, I gave them the cup of their punishment to drink; but their sins were the cause of their punishment; nevertheless, my Word shall protect them by day and by night.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE/BCE)
“Behold, the Keeper of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.” -Psalm 121:4 (TLV)
Mercy speaks of His undying devotion to His chosen people Israel (Delightful vineyard). He guards her perpetually and with absolute fidelity. It is HaShem Himself Who is guarding the vineyard, and not some subordinate ruler. It is He Who gives life, He Who also perpetually waters His people with Mayim Chayim living waters.
“I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.” -Hosea 14:5
Iben Ezra says that “I will water it every moment”, means that “The prophecy will not cease.” We know that prophecy is born of the D’var Word of God, and that “the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus” (Revelation 19:10). The Brit Chadashah (NT) speaks of the husbands role as one who washes his wife in the Word of God (Ephesians 5:25-27). In fact, Rav Shaul is making a drash of the present passage, setting husbands the task of emulating the greatest of Husbands, that is HaShem, the Husband of Israel.
“And HaShem shall guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and make fat your bones: and you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.” -Isaiah 58:10
Waters that never fail are eternal. Thus, when Hashem says He will water every moment He is alluding to the life giving water of the Word, Who is God with us, His Son our Messiah Yeshua.
‘Yeshua answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”’ -Yochanan (John) 4:13-14
Isa 27:4 Chemah eiyn li Fury is not in Me: who would set briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together.
HaShem does not deal in fury when it comes to His chosen, rather He acts in discipline for the sake of their redemption.
Perhaps the best commentary on this verse is the 2nd Century CE paraphrase Targum Yonatan:
“Behold, many mighty works are before me. Is it not so? If the house of Israel would set their face to do my law, I would send my anger and my fury among the nations, who are waging war against them, and I would destroy them, as the fire destroy the briers and the thorns together.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE/BCE)
However, it is also possible that the thorns referred to here are in fact disloyal dissenters within Israel, who, like the sons of Belial (Worthless), have been thorns in Israel from ancient times (Deut. 13:13; Judges 20:13; 1 Sam 25:17; 25:25; 30:22; 2 Sam 20:1).
“But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands:” -2 Samuel 23:7
Isa 27:5 Or let him find strength be’mauzi in My refuge, shalom peace (wholeness) with Me; shalom peace (wholeness) will be accomplished with Me.
“Or” which is also translated “If” by some Jewish sages, means that mercy is being offered even to the dissenters within the vineyard (Israel). This is an offer to the wicked, an offer of redemption. HaShem promises to accomplish peace and wholeness in and with those wicked ones who will return to Him to find strength rather than trusting in their own strength and the worship of false gods. The peace that He offers is eternal, twice spoken, firmly established. But it is only found with HaShem.
“Fury is not in me, what I am going to say, I shall not say with fury. מי יתנני וגו׳ Who would give me—comp. נתתני thou hast given me (Judges 1:15)—the briers and thorns of the vineyard! I would go through them, etc.; that is, if they do not remove the wicked men of Israel, I will slay them all” - R. Moses Hakkohen
Isa 27:6 He will cause the roots of Yaakov (Jacob: follower) to blossom and shine: Yisrael (Overcome in God/Judge) will sprout forth, and fill the face of the teiveil world with fruit.
The Targum Yonatan understands “fruit” as applying to the “children’s children” of Israel, a way of denoting perpetual lineage and connection to the land of Israel (the vineyard).
“They shall be gathered from the midst of their captivity, and return to their country; there children shall be born to the house of Jacob; they of the house of Israel shall be fruitful, and they shall multiply; their children's children shall fill the face of the world.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE/BCE)
Iben Ezra, Yarchi, and Ben Melekh understand this text to be saying that in days "to come, he shall cause Jacob to take root": or, he "shall take root", a prophecy of the stability that yet awaits Israel (ethnic, religious).
We note that the follower Jacob will undergo a change that will cause him to blossom and shine, and, having become one who overcomes in God (Israel) the Judge, he will sprout forth and become a blessing to all nations. This is the story of Israel’s redemption in Messiah Yeshua. The Rav Shaul (Paul) reminds us that the blindness of Israel has meant riches for the Gentiles (Romans 11:12), but that Israel’s reconciliation to God through Yeshua will mean “life from the dead!” (Romans 11:15).
Isa 27:7 The striking ones, He struck: He struck those slaughterers, the murderer is murdered.
Given the opening verse and the fact that HaShem has just stated that He will not deal with Israel in fury as He has done with her enemies, we can conclude that the “striking ones” are the three enemies of Israel: Assyria, Babylon and Egypt. The same being figuratively slain as serpents in verse 1 and named in verses 12 and 13.
Isa 27:8 In measure, in stretching out, you will contend to remove: be’ruacho in His fierce spirit, breath, wind, in the day of the east wind.
Ben Melekh observes that the word “hagah” conveys the sense of “removing” in Prov. 25:4, 5. This is likened to the removing of bad fruit. Therefore, the understanding would be that the fierce east wind (enemy armies from the east) will be used by God as a sifting of the people of Israel, blowing bad fruit away and leaving the good fruit. Thus, God’s actions toward Israel are “measured”, they are actions of discipline rather than “fury” (27:4).
Isa 27:9 By this therefore will the iniquity of Yaakov (follower) ye’chupar be covered; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he makes all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten to pieces, the Asheirah (Ashterot star, Astarte fortune goddess) groves ve’chamaniym and images, altars, will not rise up.
The iniquity of Jacob will be covered when he turns away from idolatry and toward God. This is at the heart of Jewish belief, the concept of shuva, or, teshuvah (to turn back).
“The stones of the altar (singular)” probably refer specifically to the altar which Achaz made (2 Kings 16:10), which was an altar of heathen worship replicated in Israel after he saw a heathen altar in Damascus while seeking help from Tiglathpileser the king of Assyria instead of trusting God’s Word through the prophet.
Isa 27:10 Yet the defended city will be desolate, the habitation forsaken, and left like a wilderness: there shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down, and consume the branches of that place.
The “Defended city” is most likely to be that of one of Israel’s enemies because the following verse qualifies the people of that city as those upon whom God will have no mercy nor show favour toward: this cannot refer to Israel whom He has just said He has no fury against (v.4). The most likely candidate is Babylon, however, the capitals of Assyria and or Egypt could also be meant.
Isa 27:11 When the harvest there has withered, they will be broken off: the women come, and set them on fire: for this is a am tribe (people) without understanding: therefore He Who made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will show them no favour.
This is a description of the wicked who perpetually refuse God’s mercy and lack understanding as a result. Therefore, He will give them over to their own wishes and the terrible consequences of their own sin.
Isa 27:12 And it has come to pass ba’yom in the day, that (he) one, HaShem (YHVH: mercy) will thresh from the channel of the river unto the stream of Mitzrayim (Egypt: double distress), and you will be te’lukto picked up, gathered, cleaned la’achad achad one by one, benei children of Yisrael (Overcome in God/Judge).
“And it has come to pass” because the prophet has received the Word of God Who sees complete outside of time and space that which He has now spoken into time and space.
“The river” is a reference to the Euphrates (Symbolic of Babylon). “The stream of Egypt” is an allusion to the Nile river.
The subject of this verse is Israel (both individually and corporately). Having dealt with her enemies, God will now pick up, gather, clean and collect her, one by one, the Benei Yisrael (Children of Israel), who overcome in God. They are gathered “one by one” because all must receive the Messiah personally and all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:25). Thus, “la’achad achad” one by one we will truly become echad (one).
Isa 27:13 And it has come to pass ba’yom in the day, the (he) one, that the be’shofar gadol great shofar will be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Ashur (Assyria, a step), and the outcasts in the land of Mitzrayim (Egypt: double distress), and will worship HaShem (YHVH: mercy) be’har in the mount hakodesh, the holy, be’yerushalayim in (Jerusalem: downpour of peace).
This prophecy has in one sense been partially fulfilled with the return of Jews from Babylon and Egypt following the exiles that followed the pronouncement of Isaiah’s prophecy, and more recently over the past 200 years from the birth of modern Zionism up to the present day. However, Israel is still yet to have access to worship on the Holy Mount (Tziyon, Moriah, Har Beit). Today as I write this Jews are still banned from prayer on the Temple mount and rather than HaShem, the ancient feminine moon deity Allah is worshipped in a mosque that is an abomination and desecration of that same Holy Mount. Therefore, the full filling of this prophecy is yet future.
The Talmudists apply this text to the Olam Haba (World to come), and or the times of the Messiah, when the tribes of Israel return to the land (T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 110. 2. Midrash Kohelet. fol. 68. 3.)
It is to the literal Jerusalem and Mount Zion that Israel will return, in a day when all of Israel will be redeemed through Yeshua the King Messiah. It is to the transcendent Jerusalem and Mount Zion that Israel will return, to that city that ascends in the latter days as recorded in the Revelation of Yeshua to Yochanan (Rev. 21).
“But you have come to Mount Zion—to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, a joyous gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are written in a scroll in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous ones made perfect, and to Yeshua, the Mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks of something better than the blood of Abel.” -Hebrews 12:22-24 (TLV)
Therefore, it is Israel (ethnic religious) as an entire redeemed remnant, who will come in Messiah to the Holy Mountain at the end of days and worship HaShem in the city of the downpour of Peace (Jerusalem). A firmly established perpetual peace (v.5). There to dwell in the city that has no Temple, because God Himself and the Lamb (Yeshua) are it’s Temple and its light.
“I saw no temple in her, for its Temple is Adonai Elohei-Tzva’ot and the Lamb.” -Revelation 21:22 (TLV)
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.