It’s in returning to God (repentance), and by resting in Him, that Israel receives salvation (Yeshua). Many convey the Gospel of our Messiah in complicated terms but the truth is that right standing with God is as simple as admitting our sinfulness and accepting His sacrificial love, outworked through Yeshua our King Messiah. Our salvation comes to us through returning and quiet acceptance.
The theme of the next two chapters is Judah’s choosing to seek an alliance with Egypt for protection against Assyria rather than relying on the Lord to deliver her.
Our Jewish sages are divided on who the recipient is: some say that Isaiah is rebuking king Hezekiah of Judah, others say he is rebuking king Hoshea of Israel. The former is a more reasonable conclusion given the context of the previous chapter and the identifying of Zion and Jerusalem within the current chapter. However, the prophet is far more likely to be rebuking a controlling faction within the king’s retinue. After all, the plural “baniym” is used and given that the prophet doesn’t name any one individual it seems more tenable to suggest that he is rebuking a group of governing leaders and or the people of Judah as a whole.
The secret planning begun in Isaiah 29:15 has clearly advanced and is now bearing fruit. Negotiations by ambassadors have already commenced. Therefore, on a personal level, the prophet is warning against something he can no longer prevent.
It is interesting to note that throughout this series of rebukes God is named using YHVH, the Holy personal Name which denotes mercy. YHVH is used 13 times, 13 being the number that unites the 1 true God with the 12 tribes: a sacred number that has great significance in Jewish thought, religious practice and culture. It is a number that conveys a new beginning atop fullness. With this in mind we read the indictments in the following verses as the loving discipline of Mercy Himself: once again, God purposes a discipline that concludes with the redemption of Judah and all Israel.
Isa 30:1 Oy Grief, hope, heart wrenching woe, baniym offspring (children, sons) of rebellion, declares HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), la’asot that fashion eitzah purpose, but not of Me; velinesokh and that pour out [anoint] maseikhah [a king, molten gods] libations, but not of Ruachi My Spirit, breath, wind: with the intent of being consumed by chatat al chatat sin upon sin:
Following Rashi’s interpretation one Jewish English translation reads:
‘“Woe to rebellious children," says the Lord, "to take counsel but not from Me, and to appoint a ruler but not of My spirit, in order to add sin upon sin.”’ [Judaica Press]
This is the second to last of the “Oy” chapters. Both this chapter and the following one address Judah, the tribe from whom the King Messiah will one day come.
The accusation of rebellion is well founded and must have been a difficult one for the prophet to speak against his people. “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft” (1 Sam. 15:23), and that is precisely the problem here. Seeking to manipulate forces they don’t understand, both physical and spiritual, the children of Judah have turned their backs on God and His mercy and have instead sought out others in a vain effort to protect themselves from the Assyrians.
Judah has made her plans and sought her alliances, and has poured out libations, perhaps even in a syncretised form that was supposed to please HaShem; however, God makes it very clear that her practices are no of His Spirit. To the contrary, it seems that the rulers and people of Judah have intentionally chased after alliances that they knew were contrary to God’s will, and have pursued other gods and sins of the flesh with the full intention of indulging their sensual desires until they’re consumed by them.
The reason for the diversity of meaning in the latter clause “that pour out libations” is the phrase “velinesokh maseikah”. Both Hebrew words come from the root nasak which means “to pour” and is used to denote anointing, libations, coverings, molten gods, and by inference, kings, counsellors etc.
The Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE/AD) sees in the phrasing “velinesokh maseikah” an allusion to the seeking of ungodly counsel. It reads as follows:
“Woe unto the rebellious children, says the Lord, who take counsel, but not of my Word, who consult a consultation, but do not ask my prophets, that they may add sin unto the sins of their soul.”
Isa 30:2 Who walk to descend into Mitzrayim (Egypt: double distress), and of My mouth you have not enquired; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh (Great House), and to seek refuge in the shadow of Mitzrayim (Egypt: double distress)!
A reading of the text using the meanings of the proper nouns would go something like this:
“Who choose the way of descent into double distress, refusing to enquire of Mercy, they strengthen themselves with a great but temporary ruler, seeking refuge in double distress.”
This heart breaking account of Judah’s wilful return to the place of her slavery must have caused Isaiah great affliction of soul. Through the prophet HaShem says, “Of My mouth you have not enquired”, meaning that Judah has not only rejected the words proceeding from the mouth of God but have also shunned the intimacy of the mouth of her Husband and deliverer, the King of the Universe (all things).
Perhaps the prophet hoped that by describing her actions back to her, he would somehow alert Judah to the obvious: that she had turned her back on the God Who delivered her from double distress in Egypt, and was now returning to the very bondage she had once ached to be freed from. All this in order to make an alliance with her persecutors so as to avoid another enemy who God had already promised to deliver her from.
We note that it is on the heels of Judah’s rebellion against HaShem, her reliance on human planning, her anointing of false counsellors, her ignoring of God’s Spirit and her seeking to be consumed by her sinful desires, that she makes the decision to seek refuge in Egypt. Many today act in a similar way, searching for security in the things of this world in spite of the fact that God’s arm is stretched out still, willing, waiting, wanting to redeem us if only we would acquiesce and receive His offer of eternal refuge.
Isa 30:3 Therefore it has come to pass for you that the strength of Pharaoh (Great House) is your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Mitzrayim (Egypt, double distress) likh’limah is confusion, reproach, disgrace, dishonour.
Like Judah, when we put our trust in human strength, even the greatest of human strength, we are inevitably put to shame because human strength is always born of human nature (fallen, sin affected). If we choose to return like dogs to vomit, seeking shelter beneath the shadow of our past bondage, we should expect nothing more than confusion and dishonour. Like Judah, many believers today, having been given freedom in Messiah, none the less choose to return to the bondage from which they were delivered. We are like prisoners sitting in cells, the doors flung open, more comfortable in our captivity than we are in His freedom. In order to admit our need for Him, we must first accept that we are prisoners, unable to escape of our own fruition. It is not a question of slavery but one of mastery and masters. Whom will we serve?
The price of our freedom has been paid with the imperishable blood of God with us: the door to our eternal freedom can only be opened from the other side. Once the door is opened it is up to us to walk through it. We are predestined and we have freewill. Messiah has set us free from false choices.
In the current text Judah has been offered the open door of God’s redemption and has refused it, instead choosing to walk in the opposite direction, returning to her ancient captors Egypt. For the Jew Egypt represents sin and captivity, thus, only the greatest hubris could inspire him to turn to Egypt for help.
Isa 30:4 For his (Judah) princes were at Tzoan (Place of departure), and his malachayn messengers (ambassadors) came to Chanes (Grace has fled).
“Princes”sarayu, refers to royalty and means that either blood born or royally affiliated rulers from Judah have sought alliance with Egypt. This probably means that the king of Judah has either wilfully or tacitly approved of their undertaking.
Tzoan was an ancient city of Egypt known by the Greeks as Tanis and located on the eastern bank of the Tanitic branch of the Nile. It was the capital of the Shepherd dynasty, built seven years after Hebron and existing prior to the birth of Abraham and the time of the exodus. The meaning of Tzoan reflects Israel’s (Judah) “departure” from God’s will.
“Messengers” malachayn, is born of the root that we often translate as “angel”. In this context the messengers are political ambassadors, subordinate to royalty in status but powerful in function. They are the ones who would have ensured that the vision of the nation was implemented.
The location of Chanes is uncertain but it may be either Tahpanhes, on the eastern frontier, or a town on an Island in the Nile south of Memphis. Once again the name reflects the reality that while Judah has fled from God, God’s grace has fled from her.
The highest levels of Judean government are represented here, and as representatives of Judah they make all Judeans complicit in their actions. This is why elsewhere the prophet identifies himself as sharing in the guilt of his people (Isaiah 6:5): not because he is personally guilty but because he is a Jew and is therefore represented by the Jewish leaders, and the people of Israel, righteous or not.
Isa 30:5 They all stunk and were shamed on account of a people that could not profit them, and not help, and for no gain, except to be shamed, and taunted.
The Hebrew text of this verse offers at least one alternate translation due to what some consider scribal error. I have simply included both options in the one translation because I believe the so called error to be intended and a valuable illumination of the message.
The clear message of this verse is that Judah, wanting to build an alliance with Egypt, will none the less be treated contemptibly by the Egyptians and will find only the stench and shame associated to the enslavement of her past. She will not profit from any alliance with Egypt, to the contrary, Judah will gain only taunting and humiliation from the Egyptians.
Isa 30:6 The masa burden of the beasts of the Negev (south, southern desert): into the land of distress ve’tzukah and constraint, anguish: to the lioness and the lion, the viper vesaraf and fiery serpent meofeif flying (hovering), they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and their treasures upon the humps of camels, to a people that shall not profit them.
The Hebrew “masa” is used here as a title like the four title headings in chapters 21 to 22. “The Burden” alludes to the fact that the prophetic utterance is a burden upon both the prophet and the people. Thus, the first five verses of chapter 30 are a general indictment and beginning with verse six a more specific indictment is issued. In this case Isaiah speaks of the journey of the princes’ and ambassadors as they travel toward Egypt via the Negev, Israel’s southern desert region.
The language of this verse is both literal and figurative in nature, not to mention poetic. The couplet of distress and anguish, finds its poetic counterpart in the lion and the serpent. Likewise, the doubling of riches and treasures coincide with the burdens they place upon the donkey and camel. Thus, masa “the burden of the beasts of the south.” This burden will come upon Judah as a result of her having given away the riches and treasures of God, replacing them with the unreliable riches and treasures of Egypt (human strength).
Isa 30:7 And the Mitzrayim Egyptians (double distress) are like hevel vapour (vanity) variyk and emptiness: therefore have I cried out concerning this, “Rahav Arrogant one (proud, storm, sea monster: Egypt) hem who shavet ceases (sits).
Egypt, which is symbolic of sin, captivity and double distress, is likened to a fearsome sea monster unable to exert its power, or an arrogant being that sits still incapable of acting. The name Rahav is applied to Egypt elsewhere (Isa. 51:9, Psa. 87:4, 89:10). This is the people who Judah has foolishly placed her hopes upon. They are like an empty vapour in the vastness of eternity, a passing breath that is of no lasting consequence. Judah has given up the strong arms of Hashem and has instead sought to grasp at the wind.
Isa 30:8 Now go, chotvah write it al upon liuach a tablet (stone, wood, metal) for them, and al upon seifer a scroll (book), chukah to inscribe it (decree, cut out, engrave) for the day (time) to come ad olam as far as forever:
This instruction to write is important because the majority of Isaiah’s words, while spoken by the prophet (in the hearing of the people), were none the less probably recorded by Isaiah’s scribe. The prophets of Israel were often accompanied by scribes who were devoted disciples. For example, Baruch the scribe of Jeremiah. However, Habakkuk was also instructed to write his prophecy on a tablet (Hab. 2:2).
Here, Isaiah is specifically directed to write this prophecy down as a perpetual reminder to future generations, even to those as far afield as the last days. The message is to be written on stone and on kosher animal hide, perhaps in part because every matter must be established by two witnesses. These two formats were the means of keeping the permanent records of the time. It is clear from the receipt of the text that Isaiah was obedient to God’s instruction and must certainly have understood his message to be for the future generations of Israel.
The words “chotvah” and “chukah” both come from the root katav which refers specifically to the written word. There is a Kabbalistic teaching (from the Zohar) that suggests the ketvi (written word: from katav) is the essence of the universe. While in the strictest sense this is only true of ketvi based on a figurative interpretation, it is none the less very similar to the teaching of Yochanan’s (John) Gospel (John 1). However, there is a marked difference between the two teachings in that the Hebrew “D’var” is not restricted in the way that the Hebrew “ketvi” is. While “ketvi” may proceed from “D’var”, “D’var” cannot proceed from “ketvi”. With regard to the order of the universe “ketvi” is subject to “D’var”.
Isa 30:9 Because this is a rebellious people, baniym children (sons) of kechashiym lies (lying), baniym children (sons) unwilling to hear the Torah (Instruction) of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy):
This verse describes the type of people who ask prophets not to speak the truth. These are not just rebellious but also children of lies. They’re not simply ignorant of the Torah, rather they refuse to hear it. Keeping in mind that if we read the inferred meaning of the Holy Name of God, we translate, “children unwilling to hear the Instruction of Mercy”.
Yeshua is probably alluding to this verse when He says:
“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks lies he is just being himself—for he is a liar and the father of lies.” -Yochanan (John) 8:44 (TLV)
Isa 30:10 Who say laroiym to the seers, “See not”; ve’lachoziym and to the visionaries, “Don’t provide visions to us of straight (right) dav’ru essence (words, things), flatter us with what you see, prophesy deceptions:
Spiritual blindness is Judah’s problem. Thus, the use of the very specific prophetic title “roiym” Seers.
The rebellious children of Judah (Israel), who are children of lies and wilfully refuse God’s Instruction, now demand of their roiym seers that they “See not”, and of the choziym visionaries, that they not provide visions of “straight things” (2 Sam. 15:3). Worse still, and in keeping with their unwillingness to hear the Torah of Mercy, they compel both the seers and the visionaries to flatter the people with the things that they want to hear, even if those things are known to be deceptions. This is one of the greatest of sinful delusions, for “no one is blinder than he who refuses to see.”
Speaking of certain elements within the Ecclesia (Church: community of believers), Rav Shaul (Paul) writes to Timothy saying:
“For the time will come when they will not put up with sound instruction, but they will pile up for themselves teachers in keeping with their own desires, to have their ears tickled.” -2 Timothy 4:3 (TLV)
Isa 30:11 Turn aside from the derech way, thrust aside the orach journey (path), His rest, turn us from His face kedosh the Holy One of Yisrael (overcome in God).”
The divine title “Holy One of Israel” is used three times between verses 11 and 15. It is within these verses that we find Israel denying both her God and her own identity. It is because God is the Holy One of Israel that Israel exists at all. In his weakness Jacob was blessed by God and through submission to God with us (the wrestling man) was given the name Israel, which means “Yisra” overcome, “El” God. Thus, Israel are those ethnic children of Jacob who overcome in God. Therefore, in his charge against Israel, the prophet Isaiah uses the title for God that best illuminates the ironic and self-deluded behaviour of the people.
The foolish words of the people continue as they tell the nevi’iym prophets, roiym seers, and choziym visionaries of Israel to “turn aside from the way” of God. They have just said, “Don’t tell us straight things”, now they add, “And don’t live straight lives”. In other words, “We don’t want to be reminded of God and His ways by goody two shoes prophets who continue to live for God in the midst of our sin”. The people want to be led away from God by spiritual leaders who are also walking away from God.
The Hebrew phrasing “ha-derech” the way, could not be more prophetically relevant to the future disciples of the coming Messiah. It is of course the very title used to describe the Jewish sect who were followers of the Messiah Yeshua in the first century CE/AD (Acts 9:2).
The prophets of Israel are not only told to turn aside from “the way” but also from “the journey”, and “the rest” of God. “The way” means knowing which direction to head in, “the journey” means continuing to walk in that direction, and “the rest” is the secure knowledge that it is the right direction.
Those who walk in darkness detest light. This is why the people say “Turn us from His face, the glory of Israel”. How heart breaking it must have been for Isaiah to speak these words and how saddened the heart of God. The people to whom He desired to show mercy refusing their own identity in Him. Israel, whose name is born of the “Glory of Israel” (God Himself), refuses her God and her identity, preferring to live a lie.
Isa 30:12 Wherefore thus says kedosh the Holy One of Yisrael (overcome in God), “Because you despise, refuse, reject ba’davar this word, essence, thing, and trust in oppression, perversion remains on you:
Simply put, “I give you over to the fruit of your own sin”.
“This word” literally refers to this specific prophecy of Isaiah. However, it can be understood in more general terms and applied as a drash (comparative teaching), a remez (a hint) and illuminates a sod (mystery).
Those who refuse “The Word” (Yeshua) of God inevitably fall victim to their own words.
“But My people did not listen to My voice.
Israel was not willing to be Mine.
So I gave them over
to the stubbornness of their heart,
to walk in their own counsels.” -Psalm 81:12-13 (TLV)
“24 Therefore God gave them over in the evil desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies with one another. 25 They traded the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to shameful passions. Even their women exchanged natural relations for what is against nature. 27 Likewise the men abandoned natural relations with women and were burning with passion toward one another—men committing shameful acts with other men[g] and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to recognize God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what is not fitting. 29 They became filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents. 31 They are foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree—that those who practice such things deserve death—they not only do them but also approve of others who practice the same.” -Romans 1:24-32
“Trust in oppression” is a reference to the people of Israel (Judah) returning to the land of their captivity (Egypt) seeking help. For the modern believer a comparative teaching can be made: to trust in oppression would be to turn back to a sin practice that Messiah has freed us from.
Isa 30:13 Therefore it has come to pass this perversity will be to you like a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, which breaks forth suddenly in an instant.
Note that it is Israel’s own perversity that has become a breach in the wall of her protection. It has grown slowly but will fall suddenly. When a broken or swollen breach in a high wall comes down it usually brings down the entire section of wall with it. The rulers of Judah will bring down all of Judah through their perverse leadership.
The root “ba’ah” swelling, is used elsewhere to refer to the swelling caused by disease (Exodus 9”9, “boils erupting”). Thus, Israel’s perversity is like a disease that causes boils to erupt suddenly upon her.
Isa 30:14 And He (God) will break it like the breaking of a moulded jar that is broken into pieces; He will not show compassion: so that in the bursting of it there will not be found a shard for collecting fire from the hearth, or to draw water out of the cistern (pool).
God will use the hostile power Assyria to break up Israel like the breaking of a clay jar. For a time He will withhold compassion so that Israel will realize her need for Him.
Fire and water are two of the primary human needs. Thus, the prophet uses the symbolism of the tiny broken pieces unable even to collect fire for warmth or water for life.
Isa 30:15 For thus says Adonay the Lord HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), kedosh the Holy One of Yisrael (overcome in God); be’shuvah In returning va’nachat and rest, quietness, comfort you will be saved; behashekeit in quietness (shutting of the mouth) uv’vitechah (from bitchah, betach) and in trusting will be your strength (bravery, mighty deeds): and you are unwilling.
God offers a solution to Israel’s self-afflicting sin. We note that three titles for God are used, “Adonay” Lord, “YHVH” Mercy, and “Kedosh Yisrael” Holy One of Israel”. Each title signifies an attribute of God and His relationship to His people Israel. Adonay conveys Lordship over Israel. YHVH denotes mercy and shows God’s willingness to be merciful toward Israel. Kedosh Yisrael reminds Israel that Adonay is her God and that her identity is in Him.
God is constantly offering mercy, forgiveness and redemption to those who have rejected Him. However, in order for love to exist freewill must also exist. Therefore, He will not force Himself on anyone.
“be’shuvah In returning va’nachat and rest, quietness, comfort you will be saved;”
Note that it’s in returning to God (repentance), and by resting in Him, that Israel receives salvation (Yeshua). Many convey the Gospel of our Messiah in complicated terms but the truth is that right standing with God is as simple as admitting our sinfulness and accepting His sacrificial love, outworked through Yeshua our King Messiah. Our salvation comes to us through returning and quiet acceptance.
During the weekly Torah service when the Torah is returned to the Aron Ha-kodesh (The Holy Ark), we recite the following words:
“Whenever the ark came to rest, Moses would say: ‘Return, HaShem to the myriad thousands of Israel!’” -Numbers 10:36
We then conclude with the words of Eitz Chayim, which concludes with the words:
“Turn us Lord to You and let us return, renew our days as of old”
Returning and rest have been the building blocks of redemption from the very beginning.
“in trusting will be your strength (bravery, mighty deeds):”
The root for the word “trusting” is batach, a form of practiced trust that must be perpetuated. Notice that salvation is not reliant on batach but upon returning and rest, whereas strength, bravery, and mighty deeds are reliant on consistent trusting (betach).
Sadly, at the time of Isaiah’s prophecy we were unwilling to accept HaShem’s offer of salvation.
Isa 30:16 But you said, “No; for upon a horse we will flee;” therefore you will flee: and, “We will ride upon the swift;” therefore those who pursue you will be swift.
Israel will be judged by her own words. With pride she says “We will flee” to Egypt for protection. But instead she will “flee” in terror from invading armies. She says “We will ride swiftly” to our protector Egypt. But instead, Egypt will not protect her and she will be swiftly pursued by her enemies.
Isa 30:17 One thousand will flee from before the face of the rebuke of one; from the face of the rebuke of five one will flee: until you’re left as a beacon upon the rosh head of ha-har the mountain, ve’caneis and as a banner (signal, sign, miracle) on ha-givah the hill.
HaShem answers Judah’s prideful words by fulfilling upon them the curses of the Torah (Lev 26:8, Lev 26:36; Deu 28:25; Deu 32:30). One, or at the most five, of the enemy would put to flight a thousand men of Judah.
The verb nus (Isa 30:16), which rhymes with sus is used first in its primary sense of “flying” (related to nutz cf., Exo 14:27), and then in its more usual sense of “fleeing.”
Ibn Ezra notes that “The meaning of the whole phrase is: An officer over a thousand men will flee at the threatening of one man.”
“until you’re left as a beacon upon the rosh head of ha-har the mountain,”
Rosh ha-har “head of the mountain” is a reference to Mount Zion, the Temple mount. Thus, Israel will be afflicted until a mere remnant remains, having retreated to Mount Zion, returning to the place where HaShem had placed His Name.
“ve’caneis and as a banner (signal, sign, miracle) on ha-givah the hill.”
Ha-givah “the hill” is part of a poetic couplet that also denotes the Temple mount. It is in this location that the remnant of Israel will be seen as a neis miracle, sign, banner, both to her shame and for HaShem’s glory. For He will miraculously deliver His people who He has chosen and loved with an everlasting love. I’m reminded of our Diaspora Chanukah dreidel “neis gadol haya sham” a great miracle happened there.
Isa 30:18 And therefore yechakeh await HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), that He may be chanan gracious unto you, and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have racham mercy upon you: for Eloheiy (God: Judge) is mishpat a just HaShem (YHVH: Mercy): ashreiy blessed, happy are all those who wait for Him.
In accordance with the rhythm of Isaiah’s scroll the usual pattern of indictment is followed by the promise of restoration.
Israel is advised to wait for HaShem’s grace and mercy and reminded that He is a just God Whose Name denotes mercy. Those who wait on Him will be blessed with true happiness.
Note that HaShem is not a narcissist. His exaltation is purposed for mercy. He doesn’t exalt Himself for His own sake but rather for the sake of those He loves, that He might show them mercy. He is Judge (Eloheiy), just (mishpat), and merciful (YHVH).
HaShem has waited on Israel His wayward wife, His rebellious children. Now they must meet His waiting with their own waiting so as to receive true happiness in Him.
Isa 30:19 For the people will yeisheiv remain (dwell) in Tziyon (Parched land: The Mount: The Land: The People) in Yerushalayim (Down pour of Peace): weeping you will weep no more: He will be chanon yach’necha gracious to be gracious unto you at the voice of your outcry; when He hears it, He will answer you.
Judah will not lose Zion, she will remain in her. Note the doubling of grace within the Hebrew text: this denotes grace firmly and immutably established for Judah and all Israel. HaShem is ready and willing to act with grace and mercy in the moment that His people cry out to Him for deliverance. This has and will not change: it is the same for you as it is for Israel. He is the God of all.
Isa 30:20 And though Adonay the Lord gives you tzar narrow lechem bread (of adversity), and mayim water of lachatz distress (of oppression), yet your moreykha teacher (teachers) will not be hidden any more, but your eyes shall see your moreykha teacher (teachers):
This is an allusion to the broken pot shards of verse 14. Although Israel did not even have the tools to collect the basic necessities of life, none the less God will provide what megger rations of food and water they do have. It will be in the consumption of megger amounts of bread and distressfully small amounts of water that Israel will be given sight to see her Teacher HaShem. The Hebrew moreykha can be read as either singular or plural and in any case it is both. HaShem is Israel’s Teacher and He provides her with good teachers, such as the prophets.
Isa 30:21 And your ears will hear (receive, understand) d’var a word from behind you, saying, “This is ha-derech the way, you walk in it,” when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.
This verse has been misapplied by many believers. First because it is taken out of context and second because the presumption is made that it offers a type of coin toss as to directing the future path of any given believer.
The p’shat plain meaning of the text is clear, “A word from behind you” means, at that time in the future when you realize your error and see your Teacher (God with us), you will remember this prophecy, spoken years prior (behind you). “Saying, ‘This is the way’” means, the way of salvation through Messiah, spoken of by the prophet Isaiah. “Walk in it” means, walk in repentance, the salvation of the Messiah and the freedom of God. “When you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.” Means, wherever you go. It does not mean that the word speaking from behind you will tell you to go right or left, as if to say, you’ll be walking blindly forward and will only know which way to turn at the last minute.
Put concisely, in the future you will repent when you remember the d’var word of salvation spoken by Isaiah, and through that word you will be directed to walk in ha-derech “The Way” of God’s Messiah. Thus, you will walk in Messiah wherever you walk, be it right or left.
Followers of Yeshua Ha-Mashiyach do not practice blind faith, to the contrary, we practice a faith born of sight. We see Messiah and walk in light, regardless of whether we walk to the right or to the left. We walk with authority and confidence as His brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:11; Romans 8:29; Mark 3:34) and as sons and daughters of HaShem.
We should remind ourselves again that the first Jewish followers of Messiah Yeshua were considered a sect of Judaism and were “Ba-derech” in The Way (Acts 9:2).
Isa 30:22 You will defile the silver plating of your idols, and the ephod (mantle) of your molten images of gold: you will cast them away as a davah menstrual cloth; you will say to it, “you, get out, leave!”
These abominations of idolatry (which continued even in the first years of Hezekiah's reign: ( Isa 31:7; Mic 1:5; Mic 5:11-13; Mic 6:16) were to be defiled and discarded. Even the gold and silver with which the images were overlaid, would be made unclean.
“Davah” is shortened from “keli davah” menstrual cloth. This symbolizes infertility and decay and presents the idols as fruitless, dead, and worthless.
“Get out, leave!” Israel must wilfully reject and cast out her idols both physically and mentally. She is to be adamant in her speech in order to affirm her actions and ongoing commitment to turning her back on idolatry.
Isa 30:23 Then He will give the rain for your seed, which you will scatter in the ground; ve’lechem and bread (food) of the increase of the ground, and it has come to pass that fat and shamein oil will pasture your livestock bayom in the day (time period) ha-hu that one (the he), kar the basket saddle nirechav will grow wide [the meadow will be enlarged].
When Israel decides to uproot her idolatry God will once again bless the land and His people with abundance and prosperity.
The rain meets the need for water alluded to previously and the grain becomes bread to meet the hunger born of scant rations. The rain is the water of life, the flood of God’s Spirit and the bread is the sustenance of life, the Torah and living Word of God.
This blessing is to follow the defeat of Assyria which is spoken of in verse 25. The prophet pre-empts that victory with the promise of what comes after it.
“Bayom” in that day, finds its counterpart in verse 25 and turns the day of God’s destruction of Israel’s enemies into a day of deliverance, repentance, returning, rest and abundance for Israel.
Isa 30:24 Both the oxen and the young asses alike, that work ha-adamah the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been zoreh winnowed ba-rachat (from ruach) with the winnowing shovel and with the pitchfork/rake.
The cattle will not only have feed but will have the salted (seasoned) feed of a prosperous herdsman. This is an image of great abundance.
Isa 30:25 And it has come to pass that upon every har mountain high (exalted), and upon every (exalted) giveah hill nisa’ah lifted up, pelagiym rivers (channels), yivleiy streams of mayim water bayom in the day (time period) hereg rav of great slaughter, binefol migdaliym when the towers fall.
On every high mountain where idolatrous sacrifices brought judgement and drought to Israel, the refreshing waters of HaShem will flow once more. All this will happen following Hashem’s defeating of the Assyrian army that will surround Jerusalem.
Isa 30:26 Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, the light of seven days, bayom in the day that HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) binds up the breach of His people, and heals their severe wound.
The plain meaning of this verse expresses joy and light at the defeat of Israel’s enemy Assyria and the binding up of the breach suffered as a result of Judah’s wilful sin along with the healing of her wounds of oppression.
Ibn Ezra notes that the majority of Jewish commentators associate this verse with the Messianic age following the war of Gog and Magog.
The moon is a symbol of the Messiah due to its waning and resurrection each month.
Here the remez and sod meanings are attached to creation itself and the days of the creation recorded in Genesis 1 and 2. The sevenfold light is explained by the prophet as the combined light of seven days made manifest in one. The seventh day is of course the Shabbat. Thus in the day (time of the world to come, the Messianic age), redeemed Israel will enter into an eternal Shabbat whose light is so bright that it has no need of sun or moon and is therefore also not subject to the passing of time.
The writer of Hebrews explains the Olam Habah (World to come) as being the Shabbat which remains for the people of God (Hebrews 4:9). Thus there is an established understanding within ancient Judaism that the current text refers to a yet future day or time period. That day or time period being the inception of the World to Come, the eternal Shabbat of God’s rest.
The commentator Delitzsch puts it beautifully when he writes:
“Heaven and earth will then put on their sabbath dress; for it will be the Sabbath of the world's history, the seventh day in the world's week. The light of the seven days of the world's week will be all concentrated in the seventh. For the beginning of creation was light, and its close will be light as well. The darkness all comes between, simply that it may be overcome. At last will come a boqer (morning), after which it will no more be said, “And evening was, and morning was.”
Isa 30:27 Hineih Now, pay attention and behold, Shem the name of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) comes from a distant place, burning in His nostrils, ve’koved and heavy glory ma’asah is uplifted: segatayn His language (lip) is full of za’am indignation, uleshono and His tongue ke’eish is ochalet a devouring fire:
“Pay attention” says the prophet. The Name of the Lord is synonymous with the Malakh HaShem Angel of the Lord and with the Lord Himself. He comes from a distant place, that is, the heavens, from where the Malakh HaShem Angel of the Lord came down to wipe out the Assyrians overnight (2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chronicles 32:21).
This picture of HaShem’s fierce wrath against Israel’s enemies is at once both terrifying and comforting. This same fierce God of creation is fierce for all who accept His love.
Isa 30:28 Verucho And His breath, Spirit, wind, as an overflowing stream, will reach to the middle of the neck, to sift the goyim nations with the sieve shave of emptiness: and He will put a bridle in the jaws of the amiym peoples (tribes), causing them to go astray.
“Goyim” nations are made up of “amiyim” tribes.
The “sieve of emptiness” means that all of the crop of the wicked nations will be devoid of grain. It will all be chaff and dust blown away by the wind with not one ear of grain left on the threshing floor. God’s judgement will come against both the wicked goyim nations and against the wicked individual tribes amiym that make up those wicked nations. He will direct them toward their just destruction.
Isa 30:29 Ha-shir The song of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) will come to you in the night hitekadesh chag when the holy convocation (festival, offering) is kept (made); vesimchat and there will be joy leivav of the core being (heart), like walking with a flute to come behar into the mountain of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), to Tzur the Rock (cliff face) of Yisrael.
The Hebrew “chag” means both festival and festival offering. In this case the “chag” is qualified by the fact that it happens at night. The only festival that meets this requirement is Pesach (Passover). Therefore, the prophet is alluding to Passover. Subsequently the sages suggest that the Assyrian army was destroyed during Passover. This helps illuminate the meaning of the song of deliverance that will be given to Israel when God comes first to deliver her from Assyria and then, in that future day ba-yom, to deliver her from all the nations that surround her to destroy her because she bears His Name.
Just as the avenging angel came against Israel’s oppressors in Egypt on that first Passover night, so too the Angel of HaShem would come upon the Assyrians during the night, and in the future upon all the enemies of God and His chosen people ethnic-religious Israel.
The joy of her core being will be overflowing like one who ascends the Mountain of HaShem with joyous music, secure in the knowledge that the immovable Rock of Israel is her God.
Isa 30:30 And the majesty of HaShem’s (YHVH: Mercy) glorious voice will be heard, listened to and understood, ve’nachat and the descending of His arm, with the rage of his nostril, ve’lahav and with the blade eish of fire ocheilah devouring, driving storm and flood of rain, ve’even and stones barad of hail (judgement).
HaShem’s voice will be heard and understood by both Israel and her enemies. To Israel it will be the sound of deliverance and security and to her enemies the sound of imminent terror. Likewise the blade of devouring fire will be seen as protection by Israel but by her enemies as judgement and condemnation.
Isa 30:31 For mikol from the voice of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) yeichat shattered, dismayed, broken, abolished will be Asshur (Assyrians: a step), bashevet with the rod, struck down.
The plain meaning has been the defeat of Assyria all along. In Isaiah 10:5 Assyria herself is called the “rod of His indignation”. Now wicked Assyria will be wiped out by the rod of His indignation.
Isa 30:32 And it has come to pass that col every passing of the mateih the staff (branch) musadah of foundation (appointed), which HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) will lay upon him (Assyria), it will be with tambourine and harps: and in battles of shaking will He wave it.
Israel, the victims of Assyrian oppression will celebrate her defeat with tambourine and harp, At every swing of the staff of God’s wrath Israel will celebrate her freedom from her enemies with loud music and the joyous jangling swing of the tambourine.
Isa 30:33 For Tofeteh (Place of spitting fire: southeast end of the valley of Ben-Hinnom: just south of Jerusalem) is ordained of old; also, it (he) is prepared lamelekh for the king (of Assyria); He has made it deep and large: the pyre there is eish fire and full of wood; nishmat (from nasham) the breath of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), a torrent of brimstone, consuming it.
Tofeteh is literally located in the valley of Hinnom south of Jerusalem, which has been historically associated with the heathen death cult of molech and with child sacrifice in fire. It has been ordained of old, that is from the fall of Satan, to physically receive the enemies of Israel into its well-stocked fire, blown to life by the breath of God.
Spiritually speaking the valley of Hinnom is symbolic of a much worse place, Gehinnom. Yeshua used the physical location of the valley of Hinnom as a representation of a much greater spiritual torment that awaited the wicked beyond this world. Therefore, it would be foolish, as some do, to right off the spiritual interpretation in favour of the idea that Gehinnom was intended as nothing more than an allegory based on the physical location. After all, an allegory is used to describe or convey a reality that cannot be comprehended in literal terms within time and space. Therefore, the allegory of the valley of Hinnom, where Israel’s enemies fell, garbage fires burned perpetually and children were sacrificed to heathen gods, must surely be a prophetic linguistic attempt to warn of something far worse outside of our present reality. Make no mistake, both temporal and eternal punishment await the wicked. But eternal life and perpetual rest await those redeemed in Yeshua the King Messiah.
“In returning and rest you will be saved!”
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.