Speaking to ethnic Israel God says “for I will contend with him that contends with you, and I will save your children.” Beware then, you Christians who reject God’s continued purpose for ethnic, religious Israel. For He contends for us!
Chapters 49 – 57 of Isaiah are referred to by some theologians as the second part of Isaiah (Though the scroll in its complete form predates any attempts to claim multiple authors [a revisionist nonsense]). These chapters (although there are no such divisions in the scroll of Yeshayahu) focus on “The Servant of The Lord” (42:1-7; 49:1-13; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12). However, there is much debate over who the Servant is, not only between Jewish and Christian scholars but also between Jewish scholars and rabbis, and between Christian theologians and pastors. And even, one might say, in the confused minds of those who over think the Scripture and miss its meaning entirely by perpetually debating with themselves.
Almost every debate entered into over the identity of the Servant in these passages offers a choice between the King Messiah and the people of Israel (ethnic, religious), with the less common addition of the prophet Isaiah himself, as the third possible candidate. Thus, proponents of the Messiah (and or Isaiah) school of thought call these chapters the “Servant Prophecies”, while opponents call them “Prophecies of Zion (Israel)”. In some of the following chapters a conclusion to the debate over this false choice “Israel/Isaiah or Messiah?” is hindered by the eclectic poetry, historical context, grammar, pronouns, prophetic nature and dating of the Hebrew text.
While it’s true that some portions of the following chapters (passages) must be clearly defined one way or the other, it’s not true of all of the Servant passages. In some cases, the answer is simply “Both” or “All three”. After all, Messiah is the ultimate Jew, for whom Isaiah is a figure only: as such Messiah is the perfect example of Israel’s calling to be a light to the nations. Therefore, He is both the representative of the entire nation of Israel (including Isaiah), and the unique King Messiah and Redeemer of Israel (ethnic, religious) at the same time. In one sense He is Israel (ethnic, religious), and in another, He is her Savior, Redeemer, and the Mighty One of Yaakov.
Isa 49:1 Shimu Listen, hear, receive, obey iyiym coastlands, Islands (of the Mediterranean), eilay to me; ve’hakshiyvu and pay attention, le’umiym you peoples, from faraway: HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has called me mibeten from the womb; mime’eiy from the inner parts of imiy my mother hizkiyr he has remembered, made mention of shemiy my name:
The first question we ask is, “Who is speaking here?” This first sentence can be applied to Isaiah, Israel and the Messiah. There is no need at this point to demand that it refer to one over the other. However, as we progress we will find that the greater context of Isaiah allows for only one conclusion. As I noted in the introduction, the Servant is both the representative of the entire nation of Israel (including Isaiah), and the unique King Messiah and Redeemer of Israel (ethnic, religious) at the same time. The famous Jewish commentator Iben Ezra adds Isaiah the prophet to the options for “Servant”. Again, Isaiah qualifies at this point, both as the prophet who literally prophesied these words and as one whom God has called from the womb. However, in light of the following verses, Isaiah, like Israel, becomes the subject of the Servant’s redeeming work and is therefore disqualified from being the Servant.
The coastlands/Islands mentioned here are the coastlands of the Mediterranean ocean. The phrase “you peoples far away” is added to include all the nations and peoples of the earth. This proclamation is for all humanity.
“Peoples, from faraway” Iben Ezra rightly notes that these words can also apply to those peoples yet future, who will hear the words of the prophecy in the time to come. This fits perfectly with the Messianic aspects of the prophecy and the redemption of both Israel and the nations through the Servant King Messiah.
“The Lord has called me from the womb” This can be said of each of the Servant candidates. Each has a Divine calling and purpose. However, the servant Israel and the servant Isaiah both owe their very existence to the Servant King Messiah, in Whom all things exist and have their being (Col. 1:16-17; John 1:3).
“From the inner parts of my mother he has remembered, made mention of my name:” In one sense this is true of every human being. We should keep in mind that the Hebrew zachor infers an act of intentional recollection and can be applied to the past, present and future. On the other hand, it is literally true of both Isaiah (whose name was fixed and given to him by the Lord, while he was in his mother's womb [Isaiah 7:14]) and of the Servant King Messiah Yeshua (Jer. 1:5; Matt. 1:21; Luke 1:31).
Having said all this, the Servant mentioned here is clearly the same Servant alluded to in Isaiah 42:1:
“Behold, now, pay attention to My Servant, Whom I uphold; my chosen, in Whom my soul delights: I have put my Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.”
Therefore, neither Isaiah nor Israel (the people) qualify, for they are both sin affected and are incapable of bringing “Justice to the Nations”.
Isa 49:2 Va’yasem and He has made (placed) piy my mouth ke’cherev like a sword chadah sharpened; betzeil in the shadow of his hand He has hechbiyani withdrawn, hidden, hardened me: vaysiymeiniy and He has made (placed) me le’cheitz as an arrow barur purged, purified, polished, chosen, cleansed, made bright, tested, proved; in His quiver He has histiyraniy hidden, concealed, kept me close:
“And He has put His words in my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His power has He protected me, and He has made me like a choice arrow, which is hidden in the quiver.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
“He has made my mouth like a sword sharpened;” Iben Ezra notes that the sword imagery alludes to the sharpness of the prophet’s words against both Israel and her enemies. He further observes that the shadow of God’s hand gives a picture of the scabbard from which the sword is drawn. This is interesting given the later allusion to cutting into the palms of God’s hands, and the role that the Servant plays in becoming a covenant of the people of Israel (neither instance could be applied to the prophet Isaiah). In short, Iben Ezra’s observation is correct but the subject of his observation is incorrectly identified.
The reality is that while this verse might be applied to Isaiah (Who is himself a type for the Messiah), it is more accurately interpreted of the Servant King Messiah Yeshua, Who is the Davar Emet (Word of Truth [John 1]), and from Whose mouth the sword of God’s actionable word proceeds (Rev. 19:15).
“And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”-Ephesians 6:17
At this point it becomes increasingly difficult to apply the text to the entire nation of Israel: for, while in a general sense one might make allowance for the fact that Israel may one day be redeemed and perform her righteous high calling, it is clear that she is herself the subject of the Servant’s redemptive work. Verse 5 makes it clear that the Servant is tasked with returning Yaakov (Israel) to God, therefore, Israel cannot be the Servant.
“In the shadow of his hand He has withdrawn, hidden, hardened me:” This cannot apply to Isaiah or Israel except in the sense of God’s protection. However, the imagery conveys both protection and secrecy. The Servant is One Who has been kept hidden from both Israel and the nations. Therefore, the Servant cannot be Israel or the prophet Isaiah. This part of verse 2 best describes the promised Servant Messiah (Isaiah 52:13-53:12), to Whom Isaiah has already alluded (42:1).
"Satan said before the Holy One, blessed be He, ‘Master of the World! The light which is hidden under your throne of Glory, for whom is it?’ He said to him, ‘For him who will turn you back and disgrace you, and shame your face.’ He (Satan) said to him, ‘Master of the World! Show him to me.’ He (God) said to him, ‘Come and see him.’ When Satan saw the Messiah, he trembled and fell upon his face and said, ‘Surely this is the Messiah who in the future will cast me and all the princes of the nations of the world into Gehenna.’" -Pesiqta Rabbati page 161a
Iben Ezra notes, that the phrase, "he has hidden me", corresponds to the scabbard of a sword. From a Messianic perspective this shows perfect continuity.
“He has made me as an arrow; purged, purified, polished, chosen, cleansed, made bright, tested, proved;” Once again this is a description of One devoid of blemish and cannot therefore be applied to Israel or the prophet Isaiah.
A tested, sharpened, polished and refined arrow slides through the air with little more than a whisper. Only those who are alert and expecting the arrow’s arrival will note the sound of the wind (Ruach) that accompanies it.
“In His quiver He has hidden, concealed, kept me close:” The quiver, like the shadow of God’s hand, is the hidden place of preparation. The arrow, like the Servant, is hidden from Israel and the nations until the appointed time.
Isa 49:3 Vayomer and He said liy to me, “Avdiy-atah You are My servant; Yisrael (Overcome in God), in whom I will etpa’ar be glorified, seen beautiful, adorned.
“He said to me…” The “He” is HaShem, and the “me” is the Servant.
Up to this point the Servant is clearly an individual and only represents Israel by way of identification with Israel as a representative of her. It would be foolish therefore to conclude (out of context) that the “Israel” of verse 3 is a reference to the entire nation (except of course in relationship to the Servant by way of representation).
Iben Ezra writes:
“That is, ‘You are an Israelite of whom I am proud;’ or, ‘You are Israel, you are esteemed in My eyes, like all Israelites together.’ I prefer this explanation.” -Iben Ezra Commentary on Isaiah
One of the best descriptions regarding an individual representing an entire group of people is recorded in 1 Corinthians:
“ For just as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of the body—though many—are one body, so also is Messiah. For in one Ruach we were all immersed into one body—whether Jewish or Greek, slave or free—and all were made to drink of one Ruach. For the body is not one part, but many.” -1 Corinthians 12:12-14 (TLV)
It’s worth noting that it’s on Israel’s behalf that the Servant King Messiah affords her the opportunity to overcome and that she overcomes only in God. Therefore, the Servant King Messiah is Imanu-El, with us, God (Isa.7:14), Who causes Israel to Yisra, overcome, El, in God.
“In Whom I will be glorified” God speaks of bringing glory to Himself through the Servant King Messiah (Who is a Jew of the tribe of Judah, of Israel and therefore represents Israel [ethnic, religious]).
“4 I glorified You on earth by finishing the work that You have given Me to do. 5 Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world came to be.”6 “I have made Your name known to the men of this world that You gave Me. They were Yours; You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.” –(Yeshua) John 17:4-6 (TLV)
Isa 49:4 Va’aniy And I said, “I have laboured in vain, le’tohu for emptiness, confusion, unreality ve’hevel and vapour I have spent my strength; yet surely mishpatiy the justice that is mine et is with HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), ufeulatiy and my wages et with Elohay my God, Judge.
Now the Servant speaks, either to himself or in response to God.
The personal pronoun eliminates the possibility that this could be Israel the people speaking. Thus, in light of the varied interpretations, it is either Isaiah the prophet (Iben Ezra) or the Messiah.
The words are not of complaint as some suggest, but rather an observation of fact, either past present, future or all of the aforementioned. In the case of Isaiah, he has proclaimed the word of God to a people who stubbornly refuse to accept it and repent. In the case of the Messiah, the same is true, with the exception of the remnant that received Him.
The Hebrew text conveys in poetic terms, a description of frailty, even death, followed by justice, even resurrection.
“Yet surely the justice that is mine is with HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), and my wages with Elohay my God, Judge.” In one sense this could be applied to Isaiah as a man of integrity and Godly submission. However, it more accurately applies to the Servant King Messiah, Who possesses justice, hence, “justice that is Mine”.
Isa 49:5 And now says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) yotzeriy that formed me mibeten from the womb le-eved lo to be His servant, le-shoveiv to return Yaakov (Follower, Jacob) to Him, ve’Yisrael and Israel will be gathered, ve’ekaveid and glorious be’eiyneiy in the eyes of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), veilohay and my God (Judge) hayah has become uziy my strength, my boldness, my power, my security;
“And now says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) that formed me from the womb to be His servant, to return Yaakov (Follower, Jacob) to Him…” It’s at this juncture that all debate over who the Servant might be must end. After all, Israel (Yaakov) cannot return herself to God, nor can she gather herself. Nor has Isaiah been tasked with or manifested the mechanism for Jacob’s (Israel’s) return to God. We know that only by the shedding of blood can Israel be truly reconciled to God. Thus, the Servant must offer a covenant of blood in order to return Jacob to HaShem (49:8). Therefore, neither Israel the nation nor the prophet Isaiah qualify. Verse 5 describes none other than the Servant King Messiah Yeshua.
Yeshua (Though pre-existent, and transcendent post resurrection) was none the less born into time and space. Seeded by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Myriam (Mary) and hence, by way of His humanity, was formed in His mother’s womb. He came to fulfil what the prophet Isaiah had spoken of Him, to offer Himself, sinless, as a covenant for the redemption of Israel (ethnic, religious) and the nations.
“Israel will be gathered, and glorious in the eyes of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), and my God (Judge) has become my strength, my boldness, my power, my security;” This second clause speaks of the redemption of the entire nation of Israel (ethnic, religious) following their return to God through the Servant King Messiah Yeshua (Romans 11:26).
The only way that Israel can be restored to a position of glory in the eyes of HaShem is by blood atonement and the remission of sin.
Alternatively, if the Servant is the subject of the glory, then the text is referring to the glory God imparts to the Messiah as a result of the Messiah giving all glory to the Father God.
Isa 49:6 Vayomer And He said, “nakel It is a light, trifling thing for you to become liy eved My servant le’hakim to raise up et-shivteiy the tribes of Yaakov (Follower, Jacob), unetzureiy and to preserve Yisrael le’hashiv to return her: I will also give you le’or for a light goyim to nations, lihyot to become yeshuatiy My salvation ad as far as ketzeih the end of ha-aretz the earth (land).
The opening clause could be paraphrased as, “It is but a small beginning to My greater redemptive purpose, that you My Servant should be the one to raise up the tribes of Jacob and preserve (among the nations) Israel, returning her to Me: further still I give you as a light (uncreated) [Luke 2:32] to nations, to become My Salvation (yeshuah) to the ends of the earth.”
As can be seen from the use of the verb “yeshuah” (salvation), there is an intrinsic link between the Servant and God’s Salvation. Hence the name of the Servant King Messiah “Yeshua”, Salvation Himself.
It is nonsense to suggest that Cyrus could be meant here. Israel is being returned, not only to the land but to God, in right relationship. Cyrus made it possible (by God’s direction) for Israel to begin her physical return to the land but only a few took up the offer (historical). He did not lead the Jews back to the land, nor did he return them to God. It is therefore ludicrous to suggest that this passage refers to Cyrus. The desperation of those who seek to misinterpret the text this way can be seen as nothing less than an intentional rejection of the obvious, that it refers to the Servant King Messiah Yeshua, Whose life and ministry fit perfectly into the redemptive Messianic form prophesied by Isaiah.
Isa 49:7 Thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), go’el (Kinsman) Redeemer of Yisrael, and kedosho his Holy One, livzoh-nefesh to a despised soul, to one abhorrent to goy a nation, le-eved to a servant mosheliym of rulers: “Melakhiym Kings will see vakamu and rise up; sariym princes, ve’yishtachavu and they will bow down; le’ma’an for the purposes of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) asher Who ne’eman is faithful, Kedosh Holy One of Yisrael, vayivcharech who has chosen, elected, decided on you.”
These words are pretext to the more extensive prophecy of the despised and suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). As will be seen in our study of the latter prophecy, the suffering Servant can be none other than the King Messiah Yeshua.
While aspects of the present verse may be applied to Isaiah the prophet and to Israel as a people, there are certain details that disqualify them both.
First, the Hebrew says, “a despised soul, one abhorrent to a nation” and not “nations”. Israel has been abhorrent to many nations throughout her history, the Servant however, will be specifically abhorrent to the majority of “a nation” , that is the singular nation of Israel (a goy). This is because He claims to be Imanu-El, with us God, and gives His life for an atoning offering covering all sin. For the majority of Jews of the first Century CE, this made Yeshua abhorrent, a heretic and a blasphemer.
Second, “Kings will see and rise up, princess will bow down.” Kings don’t rise to nations or to prophets but to another King. Likewise princess do not bow down to nations or to prophets but to their betters, in this case, a King of Israel (The Servant Messiah Ben David [Yeshua]). Therefore, the despised soul in question cannot be Israel or Isaiah but is in fact the suffering Servant King Messiah Who will be revealed in greater detail in Isaiah’s latter prophecy 52:13-53:12.
"The Holy One, blessed be He, will tell him (the Messiah) in detail what will befall him... their sins will cause you to bend down as under a yoke of iron and make you like a calf whose eyes grow dim with suffering and will choke your spirit as with a yoke, and because of their sins your tongue will cleave to the roof of your mouth. Are you willing to endure such things?... The Messiah will say: ‘Master of the universe with joy in my soul and gladness in my heart I take this suffering upon myself provided that not one person in Israel shall perish, so that not only those who are alive be saved in my days, but also those who are dead, who died from the days of Adam up to the time of redemption.’" -Pesikta Rabbati, Piska 36.1; Zohar II. 212a
“25 For I do not want you, brothers and sisters, to be ignorant of this mystery—lest you be wise in your own eyes—that a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
“The Deliverer shall come out of Zion.
He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
27 And this is My covenant with them,
when I take away their sins.” -Romans 11:25-27 (TLV)
Isa 49:8 Thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), “Be’et In a time ratzon acceptable aniytiycha I answered you, u’veyom and in a day of yeshuah salvation azartiycha I have helped you; ve’etztzarecha and I will guard, watch over you, ve’etencha and give you livriyt for a covenant of am a people, le-hakiym to raise up eretz a land, lehanchiyl to cause them to inherit nechalot heritages shomeimot desolated:”
The Servant is still being addressed by God, however, now the focus is clearly on the redemption of Israel, to be affected by the Servant. Therefore, the Servant cannot be Israel because she is being redeemed through the covenant provided in the Servant. Nor can the Servant be Cyrus, who made no such covenant.
“In a time acceptable I answered you, and in a day of yeshuah salvation…” This HaShem says to the Servant Who has been hidden in the shadow of God’s palm awaiting the appointed time which the prophet here writes as “a time acceptable”. Once again the use of the Hebrew “yeshuah” is an allusion to the Messiah whose proper name is Yeshua (Salvation).
“I will guard, watch over you, and give you for a covenant of a people, to raise up a land, to cause them to inherit heritages desolated:” The Servant is to be given as a covenant of a people, that people being Israel (ethnic, religious). As a result of this covenant, they will be returned to God in right relationship and they will see the promises of God concerning the Land of Israel fully filled, and the lost heritage of their dispersion restored in Godly purity for the Olam Haba (World to come).
The Servant is Himself a briyt (covenant, cutting, blood shed). Only Yeshua qualifies.
"Does not atonement come through the blood, as it is said: For it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life!" [Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 5a referring to Vayikra (Leviticus) 17:11 in the Tanakh]
“In the same way, He took the cup after the meal, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you.’” -Luke 22:20 (TLV)
Isa 49:9 Say la’asuriym to those in bondage, “tzei’u Go forth; la’asher to them bachoshekh in darkness, higalu uncover (show) yourselves. Al-derachiym On ways (paths, directions) yiru they will feed (graze), u’vechol and upon all shefayiym smooth heights mariytam they will be pastured, shepherded.
“The people walking in darkness
will see a great light.
Upon those dwelling in the land of the shadow of death,
light will shine.” -Isaiah 9:1(2) (TLV)
God commands the Servant to proclaim to those in bondage (physical and spiritual) to go forth out of Babylon (Confusion) and to proclaim light to those in the darkness (both physical and spiritual darkness), commanding them to uncover themselves (an allusion to repentance).
The Servant will feed and shepherd the freed captives of Israel on high table land and return them to security in God in the land (of Israel). This is prophetic of Israel’s escape from Babylonian bondage (historical) and of her deliverance from the confusion of sin through the Servant King Messiah Yeshua (Yet future: Romans 11:26).
Isa 49:10 They will not hunger nor thirst; neither will the heat or sun strike them: kiy for merachamam He that has mercy, compassion on them will lead them, even by mabueiy springs, gushing forth of mayim water (waters) yenahaleim He will guide them, lead them, give them rest.
“14 Then he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 For this reason, they are before the throne of God, and they serve Him day and night in His Temple. The One seated on the throne will shelter them. 16 They shall never again go hungry, nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne shall shepherd them and guide them to springs of living water, and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes.” -Revelation 7:14-17 (TLV)
“They will not hunger nor thirst; neither will the heat or sun strike them …” The scorching desert winds of the middle east are one of the greatest dangers to travellers. Therefore, the imagery here has great significance. There would have been times in Israel’s journey back from Babylon when water was scarce or supply had run out. This very thing happened to the Israelites on their journey out of Egypt. However, God promises Israel enough food and water for their entire journey. Further to this He assures them that He will provide shelter and shade from the intense heat of the Sun.
“He that has mercy, compassion on them will lead them, even by springs, gushing forth of water (waters) He will guide them, lead them, give them rest.” The Hebrew “Merachamam” is perhaps better translated “mercies, compassions, loving kindnesses…” It is YHVH, Mercy Himself that has compassion on them, and He is present to lead them as the Servant.
Notice that HaShem Himself will lead them. This is an allusion to the cloud of the presence in which the Malakh HaShem the Angel of the Lord (Yeshua) had lead Israel out of bondage and toward the promised land (Exodus 13:21-22).
The present God with us Imanu-El (Isa. 7:14; 8:8; Matt. 1:23), the Servant King Messiah will not only give water but gushing, flowing, unquenchable waters of living that sustain everlasting life beyond the desert journey.
There is something extremely valuable to be learned here. When Hashem sets us free from sin and darkness through the Servant King Messiah, there will be a journey through desert (the remainder of this life) but we will not make this journey alone. Mercy Himself leads us, we will not hunger or thirst, nor will we be tested beyond our ability to bear up under the heat of the sun of this sin affected world: we will be sheltered and warm in the sub-zero night temperatures, and we will be shaded and cool beneath His Sukkah (tent) in the scorching heat of midday. However, in order to enter this provision, we must first uncover our darkness, expose ourselves to the Light of Messiah and accept His hand. For some the alternative of remaining in darkness feels a safer option, it is not. It is better to brave the desert with a faithful guide than to remain in the cool shelter of the cave, with darkness as your only companion.
Isa 49:11 Vesamtiy And I will make (place) col-haray all my mountains ladarech for a way, umesilotay and My raised roads (highways) yerumun will be exalted.
Generally speaking the roads of the middle east are made through passes and on lower ground. Here, the imagery is essentially depicting the lowering of mountains to meet the elevation of the roads in order to create a straight level path to Jerusalem (Zion).
Isa 49:12 Hineih-eileh , Behold, now, pay attention to these (things, ones) meirachok who will come from far, distant, remote (places: Aotearoa, Pacific Islands, Jungles of Peru etc); ve’hineih-eileh and, behold, now, pay attention to these (things, ones), mitzafon from the north (Modern Russia/Europe/Scandinavia etc.) u-miyam and from the body of water/Ocean/ Mediterranean (west: modern Rome, Greece etc.); and these from meieretz the land of Siniym (Thorns: To the East, Modern China, India etc. Or, to the South re: Sinites Gen. 10:17).
This verse illuminates the greater prophetic nature of this passage by showing a deliverance that will supersede that of the deliverances from Egypt and Babylon. Israel (ethnic, religious) is still the subject of this deliverance, however, rather than being delivered from Babylon alone, the people of Israel will one day be delivered back to the Land of Israel from every corner of the earth. Thus, this verse elevates the prophecy to a time yet future, beyond the deliverance from Babylon, when all Israel (ethnic, religious) will be returned and saved, not in a physical sense only but in a spiritual sense also. It will be a deliverance from sin and darkness, and it will be made possible only through the Servant King Messiah Yeshua.
Isa 49:13 Ranu Overcome, cry out, shout, shamayim heavens; ve’giliy and rejoice, aretz earth; u-fitzchu and break out hariym mountains into rinah shouting, overcoming cry: for HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has nicham comforted amu His people, and will have yeracheim mercy upon His afflicted.
In the previous chapter we are told of the heavens and the earth standing at the call of Hashem (Isa.48:13). Here, creation cries out for the revealing of the children of God (Rom. 8:19).
Why will creation cry out? She will cry out in joyous exclamation as she watches the Comforter Menachiym comfort amu His people Israel (ethnic, religious), and observes Mercy Himself (YHVH) having mercy on those among them who have been afflicted by sin and bondage. And how will creation overcome? She will overcome through the redemptive work of the Servant King Messiah and the purging, renewing, atoning and restoring power of His eternal blood.
And what is comfort? The Hebrew nacham means, consolation, an opportunity for repentance, a coming along side in sorrow, and an end to regret.
And what is Mercy? The Hebrew racham means, to have compassion, to love deeply, and to show tender affection.
Isa 49:14 And Tzyion (Zion, parched land) said, “HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has forsaken me, vadoniy and my Lord has forgotten me.”
Israel (ethnic, religious and still in Zion pre-exile at the time of this prophecy) responds from her self inflicted suffering and hurt. It is as if she had said, “You give me all these prophetic promises of freedom from affliction but in my present reality all I see is pain and hopelessness, it’s as if you’ve forgotten me.” This is of course tragically ironic, given that it was Israel who had forgotten HaShem, and not the other way around.
Isa 49:15 Can ishah a woman forget her ulah sucking child, and meiracheim not have mercy on ben-bitnah the son of her womb? Gam again, these might forget, ve’anochi yet I will lo not eshcacheich forget you.
The God Who cannot lie or change His mind affirms His faithful and everlasting love for His chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious). The greatest of intrinsic human connections is alluded to and then amplified. Even if it were possible for a nursing mother to forget her suckling child (be it through drug addiction, postpartum depression or by any other means), it is impossible for the all-knowing God of creation to forget His child Israel (ethnic, religious). More so, forgetting here, infers wilfully ignoring one’s child. God intends that it be understood that He wilfully remembers Israel, she is ever before Him. Those who claim that the Church has superseded (replaced) ethnic Israel as the chosen (elect) people of God must take warning. God will not be mocked, repent now before something far worse than delusion overtakes you.
Isa 49:16 Hein Behold, al-capayim on the faces of my hands chakotiych I have cut out, engraved, inscribed, set, governed you: chomotayich your walls negdiy are before Me tamiyd continually.
HaShem takes the woeful complaint of His people very seriously. The imagery of the nursing mother is immediately followed by another inseparable image. We are reminded that when something is doubled in the Hebrew text it denotes the fact that it is firmly established.
“Behold, on the faces of my hands I have cut out, engraved, inscribed, set, governed you…”
It is a desecration to say “tattooed”, as some do. Tattoos are forbidden to the Jewish people (Lev. 19:28), and God (in any form) would never defile Himself this way. The Hebrew text speaks of God cutting into His palms, something that might also be considered forbidden to the Jews (Lev. 19:28) were it not for the counterpoint of atonement and self-sacrifice. Thus, substitution is inferred and the obvious correlation to the nail scared hands of the Messiah is discovered.
“Your walls are before Me continually.” If a concept doubled is firmly established, then a concept tripled is everlasting. Here, HaShem reaffirms the perpetual nature of His undying love and fidelity toward Israel (ethnic, religious). Not only does He show Israel the love of a perfect Mother, He has given Himself as a substitute (Imanu-El) for her sake and further still promises to be her unflinching guardian. The walls of Jerusalem were built for her protection, and rise or fall they were always and will always be before Hashem. He never takes His eyes of the walls that surround His chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious), neither physically nor figuratively.
Biblically speaking, walls are designed to protect the inhabitants of a city from enemies, both physical and spiritual. A modern physical example of a wall that protects Israel is the wall that runs along the border of the (so called) Palestinian Authority. Many well-meaning Christians want to see this wall torn down. They say that it is an obstacle to peace (What ignorant nonsense). Their opinions are not informed by the Bible or the Holy Spirit but by popular world (fallen) opinion, and modern historical events (like the Berlin wall, the construction of which correlates in no way whatsoever to the building of the wall of defence in the conflict between the Israelis [Jews] and the [so called] Palestinians).
In fact, since the construction of the modern Israeli wall thousands of Jewish lives have been saved from the continual anti-Semitic hate crimes of Palestinian terrorists who target and murder Israeli citizens (Through suicide bombs, shootings, stabbings etc) for no other reason than that they are Jews. The Palestinian cry “From the river to the sea” seeks the annihilation of the 6 ½ million Jews living in the land of Israel today: hence the wall. Though many Christians and countless other secular citizens of the world today may call for the tearing down of this wall, God’s eye is on it, why? Because speaking to Zion (The Jewish people) Hashem says “Your walls (plural) are continually before Me”. Make no mistake, those who side against or take a neutral stand toward Israel (the people, the state, the land), are siding against God and His Servant King Messiah. This is the very definition of what it means to be Anti-Christ.
Having said this, the walls that will remain are spiritual, and are born of Salvation (Yeshua) Himself:
“In that day, this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
“We have a strong city.
He appoints salvation
as its walls and ramparts.” -Isaiah 26:1
Isa 49:17 Miharu He hastens nanayich your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren etc; your destroyers and those laid waste to you will go out from you.
He hastens the return of Israel’s children and removes Israel’s enemies from her.
Isa 49:18 Seiy-saviyv Lift up, look in a circuit with einayich your eyes, u’reiy and see: kulam all these (ones, things) gather themselves together, and come to you. Chay-aniy As I live, ne’um declares HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), kiy surely chulam all of them will become ornaments, clothing, utekashsheriym and you will bind yourself with them, kakalah like a bride.
These verses 17 through 24 describe the return of captives to Zion, both historically from Babylon and in a yet future time from all over the earth (of course, this has already begun).
The imagery of binding invokes the practice of donning tefillin (prayer boxes), and adds a prayer element and a sacredness to the return of Israel’s children. The correlation to the ornaments of the bride sheds light on the marriage of the Lamb (Messiah) and the union of all who believe, both Jew and Gentile.
The phrase “Chay-aniy ne’um HaShem” As I live declares YHVH, Is an immutable affirmation of God’s faithfulness to Israel. His eternal uncreated existence is the basis for His oath to her. He will gather her and redeem her, and she will be adorned with her children (Prov. 17:6) le’olam vayid Forever perpetually.
"all these shall be unto thee as a garment of glory, and their works in the midst of thee as the ornament of a bride.'' -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
Isa 49:19 Kiy For, your waste and your desolate places, ve’eretz and your land that has been destroyed, surely now tetzeriy will be too narrow, distressed, cramped for the inhabitants, and those who swallowed you up will be far away.
This is a poetic way of saying, “Though the cities and towns of Israel were once left desolate with few Jews inhabiting them, now they will be devoid of enemies and overflowing with Jews so that it seems they are cramped.”
Isa 49:20 Od continually going round, they will say in your ears, beneiy the children you have after those you’ve lost, “Tzar-liy It’s too narrow, cramped for me, Ha-makom The place (Temple Mount); geshah-liy draw near to me, ve’eisheivah and I will sit, remain, dwell, abide.”
Once again, the Temple Mount Ha-Makom (The Place) will overflow with Jews coming to worship, so that the children born to Israel after the ones whom she lost so tragically, will say, “There are so many Jews here it’s cramped.” This is a positive (for lack of a better term) problem. Notice that the “cramped” language is alleviated by the phrase “draw near to me, and I will remain.” This may be attributed to the returned captives and is therefore a statement of repentant contentment. Alternatively it may be attributed to Hashem, in which case it is an invitation to intimacy.
Isa 49:21 Then you will say bilvaveicha in your core, inner being, heart, “Miy Who has begotten me these (things, ones), seeing that I have lost my children, vegalmudah and am barren, golah an exiled one, vesurah and turned aside? and who has gidel grown (brought up) these (ones, things)? Hein Behold, aniy me, nishartiy I was left levadiy alone; these (ones, things), where were they?”
Then the returned captives of Israel will say in awe of God’s goodness, “Who has given me these children in place of those I lost during my time in bondage, when I felt that I had been forgotten and turned aside? And who has brought these children to faithful maturity in HaShem? Where were they when I felt as though I had been abandoned?”
Isa 49:22 Thus says Adonay the Lord HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), “Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, I will lift up my hand to the goyim nations, and to amiym peoples, tribes ariym raise up nisiy my ensign, banner, signal pole, sign, standard to the peoples; and they shall bring banayich your sons be’chotzen in their bosom, lap, arms uvenotayich and your daughters will be carried upon their shoulders.”
God’s response to the returned of Israel is spoken under the titles Adonay Lord, Master YHVH the Lord Mercy. “I have heard your awe and incredulity and now say, pay attention! Your return to Zion is just the beginning, I will make My Servant King Messiah a sign to all nations and as a result they will bring the remnant of your children to the land of Israel, cradling them in their bosom, caring for them as if they were sacred vessels, why? For My Names sake!”
Notice that God will make His Hand of Salvation (Yeshua) a sign to both nations (political) and tribes (ethnic, cultural). God will lift up His Son the Servant King Messiah on a pole like the snake adorned pole of Moses (Num. 21:7-9)), and all who look to Him will be saved.
Isa 49:23 “And melachiym kings will be omenayich your faithful, support, vesaroteiyhem and their queens your nursing mothers: they will bow down to you with their apayim faces to the eretz land (earth), and lick the dust of your feet; and you will know that Aniy I am HaShem (YHVH: Mercy); and they that kovay wait, hope, expect, look for Me will not be put to shame.”
In beautiful poetic form the Hebrew text makes a correlation between the imagery of verse 15 and the Queens of the earth, who will nurse Israel’s young by proxy as instruments of God.
Here, the supplication of the rulers of the nations is seen coming from both the male and female rulers. They will both nurse and bow down to the children of redeemed Israel (ethnic, religious), and will, in repentance, humble themselves to the lowest possible degree (to lick the dust of a former enemy’s feet is the greatest act of humility in ancient middle eastern culture).
Isa 49:24 Will the prey be taken from the mighty, or the tzadik righteous captives be delivered?
Israel, suffering in the land and looking captivity down the barrel at the time this prophecy was spoken, now ask, “How is it possible that we could be delivered from the mighty enemies that surround us? Not even the righteous among us, whose deeds are approved before God could expect to be delivered from their captivity.”
Isa 49:25 Kiy Surely thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), “gam Even the captives of the mighty will be taken away, and the prey of the terrible will be delivered; for I will contend with him that contends with you, and I will save banayich your children.
Again God responds in mercy offering surety, “You ask how it’s possible, I tell you I am that I am and I will do it. The strongest of your captors will be defeated and you will be set free, even those of you already in the jaws of a lion will be delivered and free of injury.”
Speaking to ethnic Israel God says “for I will contend with him that contends with you, and I will save your children.” Beware then, you Christians who reject God’s continued purpose for ethnic, religious Israel. For He contends for us!
Isa 49:26 And I will feed them that oppress you with their own flesh; and they will be drunk with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and chol-basar all flesh will know that Aniy I, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), am Moshiyeich your Saviour, ve’goaleich and your Redeemer, aviyr the Mighty One of Yaakov (Follower, Jacob).”
How will all flesh know that HaShem is God, The Messiah and Redeemer of Israel, the Mighty One of Yaakov? He will feed the oppressors of Israel (ethnic, religious) with their own flesh. He will turn the wicked upon each other and they will be consumed in their own hatred.
In the conclusion to this passage we see the union of HaShem and the Servant King Messiah Yeshua. Hashem calls Himself Mashiach Messiah, specifically, speaking to Israel He says “I YHVH am Moshiyeich your Messiah”. Thus, He shows that the Servant Messiah is echad one with Him.
“For they have poured out the blood
of kedoshim and prophets,
and You have given them blood to drink--
they are deserving!” -Revelation 16:6 (TLV)
“17 Then I saw a single angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he cried out to all the birds flying high in the sky, “Come, gather for the great banquet of God--18 to eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of generals and the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and those riding on them, the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great!” 19 Also I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the One who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and along with him the false prophet who had performed the signs before him by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast, as well as those who had worshiped his image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the One riding on the horse. And all the birds gorged themselves with their flesh.” -Revelation 19:17-21(TLV)
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.