Philosophy over thinks itself into oblivion and theology presumes to illuminate hidden things: both are the constructs of human wisdom. In our search for the profound we have become enamoured by our own counsel and have manifested dark deeds. We think ourselves unseen and unknown but we are seen, we are known.
This chapter collects three distinct poetic warnings concerning Jerusalem, Judah and her inhabitants, each section describing a people worthy of punishment and each one ultimately prophesying salvation for Judah.
Each section of chapter 29 describes Judah in a unique way:
Against this is the description of God’s character, revealed in three unique ways as a response to the identity, stubbornness and unworthiness of His people:
Isa 29:1 Oy Grief, hope, heart wrenching woe, Ariyeil (Piercing Lion [image of a lion] gatherer of God or hearth of God), Ariyeil, the city encampment of David (Beloved) [the city David besieged]! Consuming year upon year chagiym festivals, [Regaliym, Aliyot], (going up feasts), festival sacrifices as they come around [are killed, cut off].
Ariyeil is a poetic name for Jerusalem, the city of David. This is qualified by the phrase “city encampment of David” and by the text of Ezekiel 43:15-16, where the prophet uses the Hebrew words Harel and Ariyeil to describe the Temple Mount and the Altar of sacrifice in Jerusalem within the context of restoration.
Ezekiel figuratively calls the altar of burnt sacrifice Ariyeil “Lion of God”. Ariyeil is used to describe the altar because of the continuity between the devouring lion and the devouring fire upon the altar. This has great prophetic significance with regard to the use of figurative language in the scroll of Isaiah. In the previous chapter Isaiah uses the personification of the even stone to depict the coming Messiah, now he illuminates the difference between a false altar/Messiah and the legitimate altar/Messiah. The altar that sheds the blood of animals in idolatrous syncretism will be replaced by the altar on which eternal atonement will be made for Judah, Benjamin and all the house of Israel. It is right then that we understand the connection between the altar, the Temple mount, the Lion of God, and our King Messiah Yeshua, the Lion of Judah.
The Targum of Yonatan also understands the name Ariyeil to refer to the altar of burnt offerings in Jerusalem:
“Woe, altar, altar, which was built in the city where David dwelt;”
Ariyeil is a contraction made up of Ariy (lion, or image of a lion, gatherer of food) and El (God, gods, judges). The association of the lion with the tribe of Judah stems from the blessing of Joseph over Judah in Genesis 49:9. The Hebrew root arah, meaning to pluck, gather, pierce, is the basis for the word Ariy, lion, gatherer. In one sense Ariyeil means “a picture of the Lion, gatherer of God”: thus in this context it is a representation of the Lion of Judah Who is yet to come. This understanding invokes an even greater sense of woe because the city and her people bear the name of HaShem’s Messiah and thus represent His character, and yet they have lived in a way that dishonours and misrepresents the character of God and His Messiah.
The alternate reading, “The city David besieged” is a reference to David’s victory over the heathen Jebusites whom he conquered in c.1010 BCE (BC) [2 Samuel 5; 1 Chronicles 11].
The final clause “festival sacrifices come around [are killed, cut off].” Can be understood to mean either that the festival sacrifices will continue right up until Jerusalem comes under siege or that the festival sacrifices will cease completely.
“the festivities will cease” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
Isa 29:2 And yet I will constrain, distress Ariyeil (Piercing Lion [image of a lion] gatherer of God or hearth of God), and there will be mourning and sorrow: and she shall become to Me Ariyeil (Piercing Lion [image of a lion] gatherer of God or hearth of God).
"and I will distress the city where the altar is, and it shall be desolate and empty; and it shall be surrounded before me with the blood of the slain, as the altar is surrounded with the blood of the holy sacrifices on a solemn feast day all around;'' -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
Historically speaking this distress came in 701 BCE with the siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrians. It could also be suggested that this prophecy has been fulfilled over and over again throughout Israel’s history, and that it is yet to be fully filled.
This verse encapsulates the very essence of the Gospel (Good News) of God. God disciplines the ones He loves (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:6). Thus, the verse begins with distress being brought against the prideful people that bear God’s name and are witness to His altar of blood covering. The people respond in the appropriate way in repentance, mourning and sorrow over their sin, and as a result they return to God and become a true representation of His love for humanity. The false altar becomes a true altar, and the one who gathered idolatries becomes a gatherer of men. She shall become to me a gathering lion of God and a keeper of the altar of salvation.
Isa 29:3 And I will camp against you surrounding you, and will lay siege against you with a mountain, and I will raise siege-works against you.
Notice that God Himself will camp against Jerusalem. This is of course in reference to the siege of the Assyrians, who are described figuratively as a mountain, meaning that they will appear to be an unconquerable foe raising walls against Jerusalem’s walls. It can also be applied to the final Roman siege of Jerusalem which occurred at a much later date: its final fulfillment is still yet future. In a spiritual sense it is God Himself who comes against Jerusalem in order to discipline her for her own good.
Isa 29:4 And you will be brought down, speaking from the ground, and dust will meet your mouth’s utterances, and it has come to pass that like the keov water skin (one who evokes the dead), your voice will be a dusty utterance, nothing more than a gurgling whisper.
This verse is rich with Hebrew cultural idiom and metaphor which makes it difficult for the English mind. It begins with a metaphor of humility. The proud are brought so low that their speech is hampered by the dust in their mouths. The Hebrew ov meaning “water skin” is sometimes used figuratively to describe the hollow mumbling of a medium who consults the dead. There is however no mention of dead spirits in the Hebrew. The Hebrew may infer the idea of a familiar spirit, that is a demonic spirit and its mutterings, but no more than that. The many English translations that render this clause as “ghosts from the earth” are at best appeasing superstition and at worst completely misleading the reader. Isaiah has used similar language in the past (Isaiah 8:19).
The humility described here refers specifically to the submissive language of Hezekiah to Sennacherib, and his messengers (2 Kings 18:14).
Isa 29:5 And it has come to pass like fine dust are your many strangers, and like chaff that passes away will be the many terrifying ones: and it has come to pass in an instant, suddenly.
Once again the text prophecies the coming Assyrian siege and subsequently the many sieges of Jerusalem throughout the ages, culminating in the final siege of Revelation.
The sudden destruction of the Assyrian army by the Malakh HaShem Angel of the Lord during its siege of Jerusalem is recorded in 2 Kings 19:35.
We note however that the siege will cease in an instant at the visitation of HaShem, and the enemies of Hashem and His people will be blown away like the dust or the worthless chaff which is removed from the grain at harvest time. While this image alludes to the Assyrian siege it is equally applicable to all of Israel’s historical enemies and to the latter days.
Isa 29:6 Beside you will be HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (of hosts) Who goes to war, with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire.
The Malakh Hashem Angel/Messenger of the Lord Himself visited destruction on the Assyrian army: in the latter days He will act against the enemies of God and Israel (ethnic-religious).
It is Mercy (YHVH) Who goes to war for Israel’s sake, a mighty storm, quaking the earth, a flame of devouring fire.
The storm is the turmoil that God will bring against those who put His people in turmoil, and the devouring flame is the righteous judgement of God upon the wicked.
Isa 29:7 And it has come to pass that the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariyeil (Piercing Lion [image of a lion] gatherer of God or hearth of God), all the siege works and those who fight against her, and that distress her, shall be like a dream, a night vision.
The Assyrian army was dealt with overnight as if Israel had only dreamed of the siege (2 Kings 19:35).
Those that fight against redeemed Israel (ethnic-religious: the gathering lion of God) will be gone in an instant as if they had been nothing more than a dream or a passing vision. Thus, In Messiah, Israel’s eternal reality will surpass the temporal dream of the sin affected world.
Isa 29:8 And it has come to pass like a hungry one who dreams and hinei behold, now he eats but awakens, and naf’shu his soul (existence) is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreams and hinei behold, now, he drinks but he awakens, and, hinei behold, now, he is faint, weary, weak and naf’shu his soul (existence) thirsts: so will the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against Har mount Tziyon (Zion: Parched Land).
The nations have always sought the land of Israel, Jerusalem and the Mountain of God to satisfy their lust for power, their hunger for riches and their desire to become gods. However, like a man who dreams he has eaten and awakes hungry, the enemies of God and Israel will be left wanting, and awaken to judgement.
This is why the Hebrew text says “so will the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against Har mount Tziyon”. Notice that they have not come against Israel alone but rather they have sought to take the Mount of HaShem, the place where HaShem has placed His Name. This is true today, the mosque of the moon god Allah sits as a desecration atop the Temple Mount, defiling the place where God has Placed His Name. This mosque, and the false religion and nations it represents will one day be torn down and forgotten like a faded dream, and in an instant the Mountain of the Lord will be united with the eternal Jerusalem of the heavens.
Isa 29:9 Wait, and be astounded; your eyes smeared over, and blinded: they are drunk, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.
“Wait” means pause and consider, ready yourselves to be astounded by the work of God.
“be astounded” is also a call to wake out of stupor.
The poetic Hebrew image of eyes being smeared over has become a prophetic refrain for the people of Judah and Israel. Yeshua counteracted this symbolically when He healed the blind man, spitting into the dirt and making a mud poultice which He smeared over the blind man’s eyes. After the mud washed away in the pool of Siloam (sent) the man began to see, both physically and spiritually (Yochanan 9:5-7).
These words continue to be spoken to the people of Judah and Zion. Their drunkenness and staggering is spiritual, they have been given over to their own pursuit of vain religion and idolatry.
Isa 29:10 For poured out upon all of you is HaShem’s (YHVH Mercy) Ruach Spirit, Wind of tardeimah deep sleep, trance, and He has closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers (heads), ha-choziym the seers He has kisah covered, hidden, concealed, overwhelmed.
The Targum Yonatan reads:
"the prophets, and the Scribes, and the teachers that teach the law.''
Yeshua reminds His hearers:
“And Yeshua said, ‘For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.”-John 9:39
The deep hypnotic sleep tardeimah is also born of the work of God’s Spirit in Genesis 2:21; 15:12; 1 Samuel 26:12. It is a state of physical unconsciousness best likened to that of an anaesthetised patient.
The title ha-choziym (The Seers) is used in addition to the nevi’iym (Prophets) and rosheiychem (Heads, Rulers), in order to emphasise the blindness that has resulted from the closed eyes of Judah’s secular and spiritual leadership.
Israel’s blindness is a temporary act of mercy perpetuated until the fullness of the nations have received God’s Messiah. Make no mistake, Messiah will deliver His people, ethnic-religious and remove their blindness. The day is coming soon when all ethnic-religious Israel will come to faith in Messiah Yeshua and be healed of her blindness and redeemed unto eternal life (Romans 11).
Isa 29:11 And it has become to you all chazot visions ke’divreiy of all of the words, essence, of ha-seifer the book that is sealed, which is given to one that yodeia knows, ha-seifer the book to say, “Read this aloud, I plead with you:” and he says, “I’m unable to because it (he) is sealed:”
The chazot (visions, seeing) of all the divreiy (From D’var: Word, Essence, Thing, Substance [John 1]) of ha-seifer (The Book), can be understood either to refer to the Torah, which was complete at this point in Israel’s History, or to both the Torah and the words of Israel’s prophets up to this point in Israel’s history, or specifically to the words of Isaiah’s prophecies, which, although they have been spoken aloud in the hearing of the people, have none the less been ignored and are therefore, in a sense sealed up and unfathomable from the perspective of those who are choosing to wilfully reject God’s word spoken by His prophet.
The Targum of Yonatan understands the divreiy (words, essence etc.) to refer to Isaiah’s prophecy:
‘And all the prophecy shall be unto you as the words of a sealed book, which if one gives to a man that is learned, saying, "Read this now";' then he shall answer, "I am not able, because it is sealed."’
If “The Book” refers to the Torah, then it is given to one who knows it, and he is instructed to read it aloud, only to discover that he doesn’t comprehend its meaning: thus it is as if it were sealed. The idea of reading the Torah aloud before the people is one that invokes national repentance. The prophet Ezra reads the Torah aloud to the people at a much later date in Israel’s history following her return from exile in Babylon (Nehemiah 8).
The priests and teachers of the law among Judah are being asked to warn the people by reading the Torah aloud to them. However, the one who knows (Or should know) the book responds by saying, “I’m unable to because it is sealed”. We know that the Torah was not sealed but made available to Judah and Israel. We also know that Isaiah’s prophecies and indeed the prophecies of all the prophets up to that point had been proclaimed to all the people in order to give them just warning. Therefore, the Hebrew chatum (sealed) must refer to the inability of the learned ones to comprehend both the Torah and the prophets, Isaiah included, and not because the words were literally sealed or inaccessible.
A seal or seals usually include an identifying mark of the one who made them. In the case of a king or priest that mark would denote his authority and would act as a sign to those who received the scroll or book. Only those who are approved by the king or priest would be allowed to break the seal or seals. In the present context the rulers, prophets, priests and seers of Israel are unable to open the book because they are not in right relationship with the King of kings HaShem. Isaiah is a messenger, sent to deliver a sealed scroll to Judah, the tribe from which Israel received her kings, however, Judah did not recognize the seals of her God and King and were therefore, unable to open the scroll and receive the warning and the promises that were written within.
In many ways this text prefigures the sevenfold sealed scroll of Revelation 5. Though at that later period in history the scroll of Revelation 5 can be seen to contain (at least chronologically speaking) a greater number of prophecies and instructions, being the culmination of the revealed warning and promises, it none the less serves a similar purpose to the sealed scroll of Isaiah 29. What is most important is that there is someone Who is worthy to break the seals, One Who knows the King Hashem intimately and is without sin before Him. This person has been alluded to throughout Isaiah and is further illuminated in the current chapter. He shares the root of His name with Isaiah, in fact, His name is the root from which Isaiah receives his identity.
In one sense, given that ha-seifer hu (The Book) is masculine and that the D’var (Word) is a figurative way of referring to the Messiah Yeshua (John 1), we could say that the final clause “I’m unable to because it (he) is sealed:” infers that the one who knows ha-seifer (The Book: Torah, Prophets etc.) is unable to properly understand it because the knowledge of Messiah is sealed up so that it might be revealed at the appropriate time to a repentant remnant. Yeshua experienced this very thing when the religious leaders of His day failed to understand His message, just as the religious leaders of Isaiah’s time failed to understand him. Yeshua responds to the religious leaders (Blind Guides) with the words, “You are in error because you do not know the Tanakh or the power of God!” (Matthew 22:29; Mark 12:24). They knew the Tanakh and believed in the power of God, and yet Yeshua says that they comprehended neither. We must be careful to ensure that we do not find ourselves in the same position.
For further study regarding the sealed scroll please follow the link to my article on Revelation 5:
Isa 29:12 And giving ha-seifer the book to one who doesn’t know, saying, “Read this aloud, I plead with you:” and he says, “I don’t know a book.
The plain meaning of the text in verses 11 & 12 conveys the idea that neither the educated nor the uneducated were able to comprehend the words of The Book.
From a spiritual perspective, if the book is the Torah, and or the prophecies of Isaiah, the fact that the average uneducated person doesn’t know The Book denotes a failure on the part of Judah’s spiritual and secular leaders to teach the uneducated to read and learn the words of HaShem in all their available forms. Therefore, while each one is accountable for his or her own response to God, spiritual leaders are judged more strictly because they have been given a role in educating others concerning the things of God.
Isa 29:13 And speaking Adonay the Lord says, “Because drawing near to Me ha-am the people ha-zeh this one, with mouths and language, speaking glory, but with hearts far removed from me, and their reverence/fear toward me is mitzvat commands that anashiym men teach:”
“Wherefore the Lord hath said: Because I am magnified by the mouth of this people, and with their lips they do honour me, but their heart is far from my fear, and their fear towards me is as the commandment of men teaching them:” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
Yeshua speaks these same words to the generation of Israel in the first century CE. These words are true of every generation of humanity. There will always be those who pay God lip service but are not known to Messiah (in respect to salvation) nor do they know Him.
“And answering, He said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” -Matthew 15:3
“Hypocrites! Rightly did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying, ‘This people honours Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” -Matthew 15:7-9 TLV
To the Hebrew the heart “levav” is not simply the seat of emotion but rather the centre of the being where all parts of the human existence converge. Therefore, this text is not saying that the people are devoid of an emotional love toward God, rather it is saying that their entire human existence is wilfully numb to Him, relationally, spiritually, physically, mentally and so on. Thus the commandment says, “Love the Lord your God with all your levav core being, heart, and with all your nefesh soul, and with all your meod exceeding strength.”
Isa 29:14 Therefore, hineni now, behold, yosif adding, increasing, again I will do a marvellous work among ha-am the people, ha-zeh this one, ha-pelei va-pele a distinguishing act, difficult to understand, and a wonder: for destroyed will be the wisdom of their wise ones, and the discernment of their prudent ones will be hidden, concealed.
“Therefore” because you refuse to receive My warning through Torah and the prophets, specifically the words of Isaiah, and because you have chosen blindness over sight and the wisdom of humanity over the wisdom of God. I will give you over to the self-destruction of your human wisdom and true discernment will be hidden from you.
“Hineni” Wake up and listen!!! One last plea for repentance.
“A marvellous work” A work of God that will astound and leave the people in awe. This work is in one of its fulfilments, seen in the overnight defeat of the Assyrians. However, the prophet has also been speaking of the spiritual redemption of Israel yet future. Thus this marvellous work must also refer to something more, something associated to the Messiah, the stone.
“The people, this one” Is Judah and by extension Israel as a whole.
“Ha-pelei va pele” is a repetition that denotes a firmly established work. The Hebrew “pele” means, “a wonder, extraordinary, a distinguishing act, an act difficult to understand”. The doubling of this phrase makes the establishment of this act immutable. It is done on earth as it is done in heaven.
Whatever this wonderful extraordinary act is, it will expose and destroy the wisdom of humanity and blind the wicked who have claimed to see.
Isa 29:15 Oy Grief, hope, heart wrenching woe, unto the ones who seek profound things: from HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) they seek to hide their counsel and have come into dark deeds, and they say, “Who sees us? and who knows us?”
The plain meaning as it pertains to the history of the period infers that a powerful group connected to the military and political leadership of Judah were attempting to undermine Hezekiah’s kingship by making secret alliances with Egypt against the Assyrians. They did this in secret knowing that Isaiah and therefore, the Lord, was opposed to their plans. Thus, in a very literal way the prophet’s words describe and expose the true motivation of these leaders of Judah, who think that no one sees them or knows what they are planning.
Spiritually speaking the living mashal of the historical figures corresponds to the practices of all who seek to hide their plans from God. The thinking of the one who seeks to hide his sin is twice flawed: it first presumes that God is not omniscient (All knowing), and then believes that if he is not found out he will not be punished. This thinking stems from a world view that stands in judgement of God and His Prophets (Nevi’iym), Writings (Ketuviym) and Instruction (Torah). Those who consider themselves worthy of standing in judgement over Gods Word will, to their dismay, find themselves being judged by it. Philosophy over thinks itself into oblivion and theology presumes to illuminate hidden things: both are the constructs of human wisdom. In our search for the profound we have become enamoured by our own counsel and have manifested dark deeds. We think ourselves unseen and unknown but we are seen, we are known.
Isa 29:16 Hafkechem The perversities (turning upside down) you fashion are regarded like a potter's clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, “He didn’t make me?” or shall the thing fashioned say of him that fashioned it, “He had no understanding”?
The literal and plain meaning of the Hebrew text of this verse is often misunderstood due to its similarity to the potter/clay references in Isaiah 45 and 64. While Adonay is later described as a Potter and Israel the clay, and while in the latter context of Isaiah this is used comparatively by Rav Shaul (Paul) the apostle in Romans 9:21, it is not the case here. The present use of the potter and clay simile is in regard to the perverse actions of the rebellious people of Judah and not in relationship to God. It is the perversities fashioned by the rebellious people of Judah that are the works/moulded clay. Judah is the potter and in spite of her attempts to hide her wicked deeds (see previous verse), the deeds themselves testify against her. Therefore, the clay in its completed form reflects the character of the potter, who in this case is Judah/Israel. Context is essential.
Isa 29:17 Is it not so, that in a very little while, Levanon (witness) will be turned la-carmel into a fruitful orchard, a plantation and a highly esteemed forest?
The promise of redemption begins with a counterpoint to the “Upside down” perversion described in the previous verse. HaShem will turn the barrenness of Levanon on its head and cause the lands of Israel’s northern neighbours to flourish like the Carmel (from kerem: vineyard), which was the lush agricultural region by the Mediterranean ocean belonging to Manasseh, one of the sons of the Yosef (HaShem adds) [See. 29:14].
Isa 29:18 Veshamu And hearing, listening, obeying bayom in the day ha-hu that one (the he) the deaf divreiy the words, essence, substance of seifer a book, and out of obscurity, and out of darkness, the eyes of the blind will see.
In a day or time period yet future, the deaf (spiritually deaf) of Judah (Israel) will have their ears opened to a book or scroll. This may refer specifically to the scroll of Isaiah and its quotation by Yeshua the Messiah. Or it may be a figure for the Messiah, Yeshua being Ha-D’var the Word, Essence, Substance of God with us. Like the book of the current verse Messiah Yeshua’s life was and is heard by those who were once deaf and has and will bring sight to those who were once blind: for the Jew first, and also for the nations.
Isa 29:19 Veyasefu (from Yasaf) Added to the afflicted ba-YHVH in HaShem (Mercy), simchah joy, and the poor among adam humanity bik’dosh in the holiness (set apartness) of Yisrael (overcomes in God) will rejoice [in the Holy One of Israel will rejoice].
This is now the second use of the Hebrew root yasaf “add”. God has firmly established and made immutable the fruitfulness, mercy and joy of His redemptive work.
It is to those afflicted in Him that He will add joy, and those who are poor in spirit among all humanity, who have also recognized Him as the Holy One of Israel, will be set apart for rejoicing.
There will be no place for those who reject the God of Israel and His chosen people, ethnic-religious.
Isa 29:20 Because an end will come to striking terror, and the scornful mouth will be consumed, and all who are awake to wickedness will be cut off:
The “striking terror” is the foreign oppressor and the “scornful mouth” is the native Judean cynic.
Isa 29:21 Those who condemn a man for a word, and lay a snare for him who judges in the gate, and pervert with emptiness a tzadiyk righteous one.
This is a description of injustice, both on an individual level in giving false testimony and on a corporate level at the city gate where the elders of the city sit in judgement. With no evidence the wicked pervert the course of a righteous man’s life. There will be an end to this in Judah and all Israel. In order for Yaakov to be without shame he must first repent.
Isa 29:22 Therefore thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), to the house of Yaakov (Follower), Who redeemed Avraham (Father of Many Peoples), concerning the house of Yaakov, “No shame now Yaakov, neither will his face now grow pale.”
With great compassion and mercy HaShem speaks of Yaakov’s (Israel’s) redemption. A time, spoken of in both the present and future tense. “No shame now Yaakov” and “Neither will his face grow pale”. The prophet speaks of a time now and yet to come when Jacob (Israel) will be free of foreign oppression and of domestic injustice.
Isa 29:23 Because when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in the midst of him, yakedishu (From Kadash: be holy, set apart) they swill sanctify (set apart) My name, vehi-yakedishu and sanctify et Kadosh the Holy One of Yaakov, ve’et Eloheiy and be in awe of the God (Judge) of Yisrael (Overcomes in God).
According to the plain meaning of the text he children are the ethnic descendants of Jacob (Israel). They are the work of God’s hands because for all intent and purposes they have miraculously survived their oppressors and the division within their own people. Thus, having witnessed the mercy of God upon their nation, the children of Jacob will stand among their people Israel, and in the midst of the land of Israel and will sanctify, set apart and devotedly worship the Holy One of Israel.
Isa 29:24 And he who is known to have erred in spirit will understand, and they that were backbiters (whisperers) shall learn to receive instruction.
God will show mercy to the repentant ones who have sinned against Him in spirit and they will understand and return to Him. Likewise, the dissenters among the people of Israel will repent and seek out the instruction of God.
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.