65:1. Masoretic Text: I let myself be sought by those who did not ask, be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I [am], here I [am],” to a nation that did not call on my name.
Septuagint: I became manifest to those who did not seek me; I was found by those who were not inquiring for me. I said, “Look! [Here] I am,” to the nation that did not call on my name.
The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) includes the object of the verb for “ask” (“me,” that is, YHWH).
In his letter to the Romans (10:20, 21), the apostle Paul identified those not seeking but finding to be the non-Jews. The non-Israelite peoples had no relationship with YHWH. They were not his people. After Jesus Christ came to the earth, laid down his life in sacrifice, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven, the opportunity was extended to the non-Jews to become children of God. Upon accepting Jesus as God’s unique Son and their Lord and his sacrificial death for them, they were forgiven of their sins and came to enjoy the same standing before God as fellow believers among the Israelites. In their ignorance about the true God, non-Jews were not in a position to seek him. By sending his Son to the earth and through the proclamation of the message about him, YHWH made it possible for non-Jews to find him and thus come to enjoy an approved relationship with him.
Through the proclamation by the disciples of his Son, YHWH revealed himself to people of the non-Jewish nations just as if he were saying, “Here I am.” In the past, people of a non-Israelite nation could not have called on God’s name, that is, on YHWH, the person whom the name represented. As persons who had no relationship to him, they did not know him as the only true God.
65:2. Masoretic Text: All the day I have spread out my hands to a stubborn people walking in a way [that is] not good, after their [own] thoughts, …
Septuagint: [The] whole day [long] I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people, those not walking a true way but after their sins.
For the Masoretic Text, the sentence continues in the next verse.
In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the Hebrew word for “disobedient” is found instead of one meaning “stubborn.”
The spreading out of the hands is a gesture that denotes appealing or pleading. As expressed in the Targum of Isaiah, YHWH used his prophets to make his appeal for his stubborn people to turn from their wrong course. That this plea is represented as being made all day indicates that it continued to be made. The way in which the people walked or conducted themselves was not good, for it was contrary to YHWH’s commands and originated from their own thoughts or inclinations. According to the rendering of the Septuagint, the people did not conduct themselves according to the “true way,” the way that would have been right, not corrupt as is a falsehood. They chose to lead a life of sin.
In Romans 10:21, these words are quoted to show that non-Israelites would receive God’s favorable attention, whereas Israelites would refuse to heed the message directed to them. The apostle Paul and other believers pleaded with fellow Jews to become reconciled to God by accepting Jesus as the promised Messiah and his sacrificial death for them as the basis to have their sins forgiven. To a large extent, their appeal, as the prophetic word indicated regarding the Israelites in former times, met stubborn resistance. (Compare Acts 13:38-50; 17:2-14; 18:5, 6.)
65:3. Masoretic Text: …the people provoking me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and burning incense upon the bricks, …
Septuagint: This people [is] one provoking me, constantly in front of me. They sacrifice in the gardens and burn incense upon the bricks to demons, which do not exist.
In the Masoretic Text, the sentence is not completed in this verse.
In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the pronoun “they” precedes “sacrificing.” Thereafter, the reading is obscure (“and sucking their hands upon stones”).
Those who continued to provoke YHWH to anger before his “face,” or defiantly right in front of him, did so when engaging in abominable idolatrous practices. The “gardens” where they sacrificed would have been sacred groves. At these cultic sites, altars and other appendages of idolatry would have been erected. Possibly the burning of the incense that is here mentioned relates to offering incense on brick altars there.
The “demons” to which the Septuagint refers are not wicked spirits but deities that only existed in the minds of the idolaters. These “demons” were nonexistent gods and goddesses.
65:4. Masoretic Text: the ones sitting in tombs and in places for vigils [natsár] spend the night, eating the flesh of the pig and broth [maráq, but paráq in the text] of abominable things [in] their vessels, …
Septuagint: And in the tombs and in the caves they sleep on account of dreams; [these are] the ones eating the meat of pigs and the broth of sacrifices — all their vessels are defiled —
The supplied “in” is found in the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll).
The Targum of Isaiah refers to these idolaters as sitting in houses built from the dust of graves and dwelling with the corpses of men.
For both the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint, the sentence continues in the next verse.
Contrary to the law that the Israelites were not to inquire of the dead, these idolaters appear to have done so. (Deuteronomy 18:11) They either seated themselves among the tombs or entered burial caves or rock-cut tombs, probably with the intent of receiving messages from the dead. The Septuagint rendering about sleeping in caves (likely burial caves) on account of dreams could mean that those who did so expected to have the spirits of the dead appear to them in dreams and communicate with them.
There is uncertainty about the significance of the Hebrew word natsár, which numerous translators have rendered “secret places.” Lexicographers have defined the word as meaning “watch,” “guard,” or “keep.” It appears that the idolaters spent the night on the watch for the spirits of the dead to get in touch with them. If this is correct, “places for vigils” would be an appropriate rendering for the plural participle of natsár.
The noun paráq denotes a fragment, and the verb can mean to rip to pieces or to tear off or away. If based on the meaning of the verb, the reference could be to something ripped away or torn off from animals that were unclean for food according to the terms of the law and, therefore, would be “abominable things.”
Instead of paráq, the word maráq, meaning “broth,” appears in the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) and the margin of the Masoretic Text. As the rendering “broth” is also found in the Septuagint, the reading maráq appears to be the one that should be preferred.
It is likely that the idolaters sacrificed pigs, and then ate the meat and the broth therefrom as a type of communion sacrifice. Everything in their vessels was unclean, abominable, or unacceptable as food under the terms of the law, and this would have made all their vessels defiled.
65:5. Masoretic Text: …the ones saying, “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I have become holy to you.” These [are] a smoke in my nostrils, a fire burning all the day.
Septuagint: …the ones saying, “[Stay] far away from me; do not draw near me, for I am clean.” This [is] the smoke of my anger; a fire burns in it all the days.
The rendering “I have become holy to you” follows the Masoretic vowel pointing of the corresponding Hebrew expression.
Instead of “do not come near me,” the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) says, “do not touch me,” and the scroll thereafter does not include the Hebrew conjunction that means “for.”
The Hebrew noun ’aph that designates the “nose” or the “nostrils” can also mean “anger,” the apparent connection being that heavy breathing through the nose accompanies rage. Because the Septuagint translator understood ’aph as “anger,” he rendered it accordingly.
In the Targum of Isaiah, the anger of the idolaters is represented as being like smoke before YHWH. It then adds that “their punishment will be in Gehinnam [Gehenna] where the fire burns all the day.”
It appears that the idolaters regarded themselves as holy, set apart from others by reason of their faithful performance of cultic rituals. The words that are put in their mouths suggest that they believed their ceremonial purity would put others at risk of becoming consecrated or taboo, which was something to be avoided on account of negative consequences. A number of translations make this explicit in their renderings. “‘Keep clear!’ they cry, ‘Do not touch me, for my holiness will infect you.’” (REB) “They say, Stay where you are, do not come near me; otherwise you are consecrated.” (Sie sagen: Bleib, wo du bist, komm mir nicht nahe, sonst bist du geweiht. [German, Einheitsübersetzung])“They say to everyone whom they meet, ‘Stop, do not come too close to me! I have been in contact with holy things and put you at risk.’” (Sie sagen zu jedem, der ihnen begegnet: ›Halt, komm mir nicht zu nah! Ich bin mit heiligen Dingen in Berührung gekommen und bringe dich in Gefahr!‹ [German, Gute Nachricht Bibel])
The second person imperatives are singular, and this has given rise to the view that they are directed to YHWH, expressing defiance by demanding that he stay away from them and claiming that they have been sanctified or set apart with reference to him. This interpretation is questionable, especially since the Great Isaiah Scroll says, “Keep to yourself; do not touch me.”
The Septuagint rendering “I am clean” could be understood to indicate that the idolaters did not want to be defiled by those who were not ritually poor as they were.
To YHWH, the idolaters were like irritating smoke to his nostrils. That smoke is represented as a constant irritant, for the idolaters were like a fire that burned all day. Smoke would continually accompany such a fire.
Based on his considering the Hebrew word ’aph to mean “anger,” the Septuagint translator chose to render the expressions in this verse according to that significance. The smoke is represented as being the product of God’s wrath, and this wrath is the source of a destructive element like a fire that burns all day. This would signify destruction for those against whom the wrath is directed.
65:6 (and 7a). Masoretic Text: Look! It is written before my face, I will not remain silent, for I will repay, I will repay on their bosom their iniquities and the iniquities of their fathers together, says YHWH.
Septuagint: Look! It is written before me, I will not be silent until I have repaid into their bosom their and their fathers’ sins, says the Lord.
In the Great Isaiah Scroll, the corresponding Hebrew preposition for “on” or “upon” is “into.”
According to the Targum of Isaiah, YHWH would not give respite to the idolaters during their life but would punish them for their transgressions. He would “deliver their bodies to the second death.”
The words after “their bosom” in both the Hebrew text and the Septuagint are part of verse 7. They have been included here to complete the thought and will not be repeated for the next verse.
YHWH is represented as having a written record in front him respecting the sins of the idolaters. In keeping with that record, he would not stay silent as would one who refrained from pronouncing adverse judgment and carrying it out. The “bosom” refers to the upper fold of a garment in which items could be carried. YHWH would put repayment or retribution into that bosom in keeping with the cumulative iniquities or sins of the people and their fathers or forefathers. The repetition of “repay” in the Hebrew text emphasizes the certainty of that repayment. There would be no escaping from punishment for those who defied YHWH when pursuing their lawless ways.
65:7b. Masoretic Text: Because they burned incense on the mountains and on the hills they reviled me, I will measure [repayment for] their former work on their bosom.
Septuagint: [To those] who burned incense on the mountains and reviled me on the hills, I will repay their works into their bosom.
In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the definite article does not precede “hills,” and the corresponding Hebrew preposition for “on” or “upon” is “into.”
On hills and mountains, the idolatrous Israelites erected cultic sites devoted to the worship of various deities. As part of the ritual at these locations, the people regularly burned incense. By abandoning YHWH and choosing to revere nonexistent gods and goddesses, they reviled him. Their attitude and their deeds demonstrated that they did not deem him worthy of the devotion they granted to the deities they preferred to adore.
YHWH determined to repay them for their despicable work or action that was an affront to him.
As in the previous verse, the “bosom” designates the upper fold of a garment in which items could be carried. YHWH would measure out the due repayment for what the idolatrous people did into their bosom. This would mean they would receive the full measure of punishment that their actions deserved
65:8. Masoretic Text: Thus says YHWH, As the wine is found in the cluster and one says, “Do not destroy it, for [there is] a blessing in it,” so I will do for the sake of my servants and not destroy all.
Septuagint: Thus says the Lord, As in the manner the grape will be found in the cluster, and they will say, “Do not ruin it, for a blessing of the Lord is in it,” thus I will do for the sake of the one serving me. For the sake of this one, I will by no means destroy all.
In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the verb “says” that introduces the thought about not destroying the cluster is third person plural.
The rendering “by no means” preserves the emphatic sense of the two Greek words for “not.”
The Targum of Isaiah, in its interpretation, draws on a past example. “As Noah was found righteous in the generation of the flood, and I promised not to destroy him in order to establish a world from him, so will I do for the sake of my righteous servants, that I may not destroy them all.”
“Wine” may be understood to denote the juice contained in the cluster of grapes. As the cluster has the potential for making wine, people would not have wanted it to be ruined and treated like clusters of grapes that had shriveled and become valueless. There was a blessing in this cluster, for it would have been regarded as being the product of YHWH’s blessing and something to be partaken of with a blessing or with an expression of thanksgiving to him.
Whereas the Israelites generally had pursued a wayward course, a faithful remnant could still be found in their midst. This remnant proved to be like a cluster of grapes that was worth preserving. For the sake of the faithful ones whom YHWH regarded as his servants he would mitigate his judgment and not bring an end to all the people.
65:9. Masoretic Text: And I will bring forth seed from Jacob and one inheriting my mountains from Judah. And my chosen ones will inherit it, and my servants will dwell there.
Septuagint: And I will bring forth seed from Jacob and from Judah, and it will inherit my holy mountain, and my chosen ones and my servants will inherit, and they will dwell there.
The singular Hebrew suffix rendered “it” may refer to the land inheritance, of which the mountains were the dominant features.
“Jacob” here represents his descendants, the Israelites. It appears that the “seed” YHWH would bring forth from them would be Israelites devoted to him. Judah may here be a parallel expression or, in a more specific way, designate the people of the two-tribe kingdom of Judah. Mountains are the prominent features of a land, and receiving mountains as the inheritance could signify receiving the land as a possession.
The expression “my mountains” may be based on the fact that YHWH is their creator and that, for this reason, they belong to him. In the Septuagint, the reference is to “my holy mountain,” which would apply to Jerusalem as the location of YHWH’s holy temple. It is also possible that the plural “mountains” in the Hebrew text could refer to the mountains on which Jerusalem was built, including the elevated temple site.
Some have concluded that the one spoken of as inheriting YHWH’s mountains is Jesus, the promised Messiah of the royal line of David and a member of the tribe of Judah. The Septuagint rendering does not support this interpretation, for YHWH is represented as bringing forth “seed” or offspring both from Jacob and from Judah, and “it” (the “seed” or offspring) is referred to as inheriting God’s holy mountain.
The ones whom YHWH has chosen and whom he recognizes as his servants would inherit the land and reside there. Possibly this came to apply to the repentant remnant of Israel that returned to the land from exile and then made it their home.
65:10. Masoretic Text: And Sharon will become a pasture for flocks, and the valley of Achor a resting place of a herd, for my people who have sought me.
Septuagint: And in the thicket [there] will be folds for flocks, and the valley of Achor [will be] for a resting place of herds for my people who have sought me.
The Targum of Isaiah adds that the object of the people’s seeking is the “fear” of YHWH, or having a reverential regard for him.
Sharon was a well-watered plain located south of the Carmel ridge. The Assyrian forces devastated this area, and so the reference may be to the restoration of the region, with people once again pasturing their flocks there.
In the “valley of Achor,” Achan and his family were put to death by stoning because of his flagrant violation of specific divine instruction. (Joshua 7:1-26) The name “Achor” means “trouble.” By his actions, Achan brought great trouble upon the Israelites (resulting in loss of life) and upon himself and his family. According to the prophetic words, the area that was associated with trouble would become a secure and peaceful location, where cattle could find a resting place. Those who were seeking YHWH, wanting to have his approval, would enjoy the benefits of the marvelous transformation in the land.
65:11. Masoretic Text: And you, the ones forsaking YHWH, the ones forgetting my holy mountain, the ones setting a table for Gad and filling up mixed wine for Meni, …
Septuagint: But [as for] you, the ones having forsaken me and having forgotten my holy mountain and [who] are preparing a table for the demon and filling a mixture for Fortune [Tyche] …
The sentence continues in the next verse.
The Targum of Isaiah says that the people “set in order tables for idols” and mixed “bowls for their gods.”
Those here described had forsaken YHWH and chosen to worship nonexistent deities. Their forgetting his holy mountain could refer to their neglecting the services at the temple in Jerusalem. The temple on the elevated site there was YHWH’s representative place of dwelling and, therefore, his holy mountain.
Instead of looking to YHWH as the one who could bless them and secure their well-being, they turned to Gad, the god of Good Luck, and Meni, the deity of Destiny or Fortune (LXX). Ancient writers refer to the idolatrous practice of setting a table with a variety of food items and a cup of wine. According to Jerome, this was particularly the case in Egypt and the city of Alexandria and was done on the last day of their calendar year to ensure good fortune for fertility. (Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina, LXXIII A, S. Hieronymi presbyteri opera).
The Septuagint use of “demon” here does not apply to a wicked spirit but is the designation for a “deity.”
65:12. Masoretic Text: … also I will assign you to the sword and all of you will bow down for slaughter, because I called and you did not answer, I spoke and you did not listen, and you did evil in my eyes and chose what I had no delight in.
Septuagint: …I will deliver you to the sword. You will all fall by slaughter, because I called you and you did not respond, I spoke and you paid no attention, and you did evil before me, and the things I did not wish you chose.
Severe judgment would befall the Israelites who had turned away from YHWH to pursue the veneration of nonexistent deities. Without his aid and protection, the idolaters would have the sword of conquering armies wielded against them. They would be forced to bow down to be slain. By means of his prophets, YHWH had called to the people to repent of their transgressions, but they refused to respond. Through his prophets he spoke to the Israelites, making known to them what he required from them, but they refused to pay attention. Instead, the lawless people continued to carry out their evil deeds and deliberately chose to do the very things that were displeasing to YHWH.
65:13. Masoretic Text: Therefore, thus says the Lord YHWH, “Look! My servants will eat, and you will hunger. Look! My servants will drink, and you will thirst. Look! My servants will rejoice, and you will be shamed.”
Septuagint: Therefore, thus says the Lord, “Look! Those serving me will eat, but you will hunger. Look! Those serving me will drink, but you will thirst. Look! Those serving me will rejoice, but you will be shamed.”
In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the word for “Lord” is written above the divine name (YHWH).
The Targum of Isaiah refers to the servants of YHWH as the righteous and the others as the wicked.
Those whom YHWH recognized as his servants would be recipients of his blessing and have their needs for food and drink abundantly supplied, but persons who defiantly disregarded him would find themselves experiencing lack. YHWH’s servants who delight to do his will would be able to rejoice because of all that he would continue to do for them. Those who disregarded his ways would suffer shame on account of their misery.
65:14. Masoretic Text: Look! My servants will cry out [joyfully] out of goodness of heart, and you will make an outcry from pain of heart and howl from brokenness of spirit.
Septuagint: Look! Those serving me will exult with joy, but you will cry out because of the pain of your heart and will howl from the breaking of the spirit.
According to the Targum of Isaiah, the joy of YHWH’s servants would find expression in their singing of praises.
The expression “goodness of heart” could refer to an inner sense of joy, well-being, and contentment stemming from a good conscience and an awareness of YHWH’s love and care. The deep inner joy of his servants would prompt them to express their rejoicing in praise and thanksgiving. Those who lived contrary to YHWH’s ways would sense within themselves an emptiness, a state of hopelessness, and a feeling of great loss. Their pain of heart could only give rise to bitter outcries. The broken state of their spirit may be understood to refer to their downcast condition. Without any source of dependable comfort and the hope of coming relief from their wretched condition, such persons could only howl from grief and despair.
65:15. Masoretic Text: And you will leave your name for a curse to my chosen ones, and the Lord YHWH will slay you. And he will call his servants by another name, …
Septuagint: For you will leave your name for fullness to my chosen ones, but the Lord will do away with you. But those serving him will be called by a new name, which will be blessed on the earth.
The sentence continues in the next verse.
In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the words about YHWH calling his servants by another name are missing. This scroll ends with tamíd, meaning “permanently” in this context (“the Lord YHWH will slay you permanently”).
The Hebrew expression le-sav‘ah may be rendered “for fullness.” The addition of the letter waw (W) before the ayin (‘) in the consonantal text changes the significance to “for a curse.” It appears that the rendering “for fullness” resulted when the Septuagint translator read the Hebrew expression as le-sav‘ah.
For the Septuagint rendering, the words after “new name” are in the next verse. They have been included here to complete the thought and will not be repeated for verse 16. According to this rendering, the new name would be blessed on the earth, suggesting that this name was of such a nature as to be rightly used when expressing a blessing.
The Targum of Isaiah says that YHWH would kill the wicked with the “second death.”
The chosen ones, those whom YHWH approves as his people, are represented as being able to use the name of the wicked as part of an expression involving a curse. This is so because these lawless ones would leave behind a disgusting name or reputation, one that would be suitable for a formula that constituted an imprecation. As far as the destiny of the wicked was concerned, YHWH would condemn them to death. His servants, however, would be given a new name, one that would reflect their identity as his beloved people in whom he finds delight.
65:16. Masoretic Text: …so that the one blessing himself in the land will bless himself by the God of faithfulness, and the one taking an oath in the land will swear by the God of faithfulness, for the former troubles will be forgotten and hidden from my eyes.
Septuagint: For they will bless the true God. And the ones swearing [an oath] on the earth will swear [an oath] by the true God. For they will forget their former distress, and it will not come up on their heart.
In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), there is no reference about the one blessing himself.
According to the Targum of Isaiah, the people would be blessing and swearing “by the living God.”
For individuals to bless themselves would mean for them to pronounce themselves blessed on the basis of their relationship to YHWH. The blessing would be expressed in the recognition of him as the faithful or trustworthy God who has blessed and continues to bless his people by extending to them his help and loving care. According the Septuagint rendering, godly persons would bless the true God. This suggests that they would praise him for all that he has done for them.
When swearing an oath, upright individuals would do so by the “God of faithfulness, “ the one whose word could always be relied upon. He alone is the “true God” (LXX), and truth, faithfulness, or dependability are intimately bound up with all his words and deeds. Therefore, such swearing by him would serve to solemnly declare the truthfulness or the certain fulfillment of everything that the words of the oath expressed.
The blessing and the swearing by the God of faithfulness indicated that those doing so recognized him as the greatest one and the ultimate standard of trustworthiness. This implied a relationship with him, for otherwise his name could not have been invoked as guaranteeing the words of the blessing and of the oath. The development pointed to the time when the repentant people would be reconciled to YHWH. He would forget the former troubles that he had permitted to come upon them, which suggests that he would not allow such distress to come upon them again. That those troubles would be hidden before his eyes indicated that he would never again see his approved people experience this kind of affliction. He would not need to withdraw his protective care from them because of their rebelliously turning away from him.
According to the Septuagint rendering, the people would forget the distress they had endured in the past. It would not come to be a painful or disturbing memory, something that would come up into the heart or cause an inner upheaval and apprehension about a possible reoccurrence of the affliction. Their would be no emotional “scars” from past distress.
65:17. Masoretic Text: For look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and the former things will not be remembered and will not come up on the heart.
Septuagint: For [there] will be the new heaven and the new earth, and by no means will they remember the former things nor will it by any means come up on their heart.
The renderings “by no means” and “nor by any means” serve to preserve the emphatic sense of the two Greek words for “not.”
The land, bodies of water, and what appears to the eye like a celestial vault constitute the sphere, the world, or the heavens and the earth in which humans find themselves. On account of sin, people experience suffering and grief in this realm. YHWH’s promise about creating new heavens and a new earth point to a transformation that will end the former distressing circumstances and positively affect the whole creation.
The context reveals that the prophetic words do not refer to the destruction of the earth and the rest of the universe and their being replaced by a new planet and a new universe. The animals later mentioned are the same ones that exist on the earth presently. Those to whom the prophetic words were first made known would never have thought in terms of a destruction of Jerusalem but would have understood the expressions about Jerusalem to relate to a marvelous transformation. In the concluding part of Isaiah, the corpses of the rebels against God are depicted as lying in a place of refuse, where fires are kept burning and maggots feed on the bodies that the flames do not reach. If “new earth” meant a new planet, this would mean that the corpses of the godless would have to be preserved from the fire that consumes the old earth and then become part of the permanent scene in the new earth.
The marvelous transformation that YHWH will bring about is of such a nature that all the distress and sorrow that were part of life in the old environment of heavens and earth will not be remembered in a manner that would create emotional pain. The expression about not coming up on the heart could mean that the troubling aspects of the past would not come to mind so as to create a mental upheaval or that the deep inner self would not be disturbed by unsettling thoughts from the past.
65:18. Masoretic Text: But exult and rejoice forever in what I am creating. For look! I am creating Jerusalem a rejoicing and her people an exultation.
Septuagint: But rejoicing and exultation they will find in her. For look! I am making Jerusalem an exultation and my people a rejoicing.
In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the verbs for “exult” and “rejoice” are singular, whereas they are plural in the Masoretic Text.
YHWH’s creative act, his bringing an end to sorrow and distress and replacing the former troubles with joy and well-being, does not produce a temporary result. It is permanent. For all time to come it will occasion joy and jubilation. According to the rendering of the Septuagint, the transformed condition of Jerusalem would mean that rejoicing and exultation would exist in the city. The joy that would prevail there would be as though YHWH had made Jerusalem the personification of rejoicing, and the people or inhabitants would be filled with such joy on account of their well-being that they could be equated with exultation or jubilation.
As the location for the temple, Jerusalem was YHWH’s representative place of dwelling. The “Jerusalem above,” the heavenly city, is the reality, and the prophetic words can rightly be applied to the heavenly Jerusalem. Those who accept Jesus as the promised Messiah, the Son of God, and their Lord, and his sacrificial death for them become children or citizens of this heavenly city. With the increase of these children on account of the growth that God effects, the Jerusalem above comes to be a place of ever-greater rejoicing, and the children of this Jerusalem are filled with joy on account of all the blessings they receive as persons who have his approval. Forgiven of their sins and reconciled to God, they benefit from his aid, guidance, and protective care. (Galatians 4:26)
65:19. Masoretic Text: And I will rejoice in Jerusalem and exult in my people. And no more will be heard in her a sound of weeping and a sound of outcry.
Septuagint: And I will exult in Jerusalem and rejoice in my people, and no more will be heard in her a sound of weeping nor a sound of outcry.
The Targum of Isaiah represents God’s people as the ones who would be rejoicing in Jerusalem.
When the Israelites disregarded YHWH’s commands and chose to rely on foreign powers for their security instead of looking to him for aid, he found no delight in them nor in the city despite its being the location of his temple. The fact that he is represented as rejoicing in Jerusalem and exulting in his people indicates that they had been forgiven of their sins and were reconciled to him. With his favor and blessing, the people would not be subjected to the horrors of siege and conquest. Nothing of a calamitous nature would occur, and so there would be no bitter weeping nor an outcry of distress resounding from Jerusalem.
65:20. Masoretic Text: No more will [there] be an infant of [a few] days [of life] and an old man who has not filled his days, for the [young] boy will die a hundred years old, and the sinner [who is] a hundred years old will be accursed.
Septuagint: And by no means will there be one [who dies] untimely and an old man who will not fulfill his time, for the youth will be a hundred years [old], but the sinner who dies at a hundred years [of age] also will be accursed.
Like the Septuagint, the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) starts the verse with the conjunction “and.” Instead of the word here translated “infant,” this scroll has the word that may be rendered “young boy.”
The rendering “by no means” preserves the emphatic sense of the two Greek words for “not.”
The Targum of Isaiah says that the a youth who transgresses “will die when a hundred years old” and that the sinner, being a hundred years of age, “will be driven out.”
The transformed state resulting from the ushering in of new heavens and a new earth is represented as including an end to all the factors that would contribute to a short life. Babies would not be dying a few days after birth. According to the Septuagint rendering, there would be no untimely deaths. People would reach the complete potential of their life span, with there being no old man who dies earlier. At a hundred years of age, a person would still be considered a youth. One’s having reached a hundred years of age would not in itself establish one’s being divinely approved. A sinner might reach the age of one hundred but would not be blessed for it but would be cursed or condemned for the transgressor that he is.
65:21. Masoretic Text: And they will build houses and inhabit [them], and they will plant vineyards and eat their produce.
Septuagint: And they will build houses and inhabit them, and they will plant vineyards and themselves eat their produce.
On account of military conquests of the past, people lost the homes they had built and were unable to harvest the grapes from the vines they had tended. This would cease after the foretold transformation takes place. Neither wars nor other adversities would prevent people from being able to derive the full benefit from their performed labor.
65:22. Masoretic Text: They will not build and another inhabit. They will not plant and another eat, for like the days of a tree [will be] the days of my people, and the work of their hands my chosen ones will use to the full [baláh].
Septuagint: And by no means will they build and others inhabit, and by no means will they plant and others eat, for according to the days of the tree of life will be the days of my people. The works of their labor will grow old.
In the Masoretic Text, the definite article precedes the word for “tree,” but it is missing in the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll).
The expression “by no means” serves to preserve the emphatic sense of the two Greek words for “not.”
Possibly the reference to the “tree of life” in the Septuagint is an allusion to the tree of life in the garden in Eden.
Neither war nor adversity or unfavorable circumstances of any kind will interfere with the full enjoyment of the products from the people’s laboring. Those who build a home will be able to live there in peace, and those who plant crops will be able to enjoy the bounty of the harvest. The prophetic words promise a long life, comparable to that of a tree. Among the long-lived trees, the olive would have been the one the Israelites knew well. Olive trees live for hundreds of years. Based on tree-ring analysis, one productive olive tree on the island of Crete is at least 2,000 years old.
The Hebrew word baláh basically means to “wear out,” “waste away,” or “grow old,” and this significance is reflected in the rendering of the Septuagint. In relation to the long life of the people, the work of their hands would grow old from use. The people would not lose out on the benefits of their toil. They themselves would be able to enjoy to the full the things on which they had expended labor. Accordingly, in this context, a form of the Hebrew word baláh may be rendered “will use to the full” or “will long enjoy.”
65:23. Masoretic Text: They will not labor in vain and bear children for calamity, for they are the seed blessed of YHWH, and their issue with them.
Septuagint: But my chosen ones will not labor in vain nor give birth to children for a curse, for it is a seed being blessed by God, and their issue will be with them.
The Targum of Isaiah indicates that the people will not bring up children for death, meaning an untimely death.
Those whom YHWH recognizes as his people or his “chosen ones” (LXX) would not labor for nothing, with others benefiting from the products of their work of building or planting. The children born to them would not die prematurely from accident, disease, famine, or war. As persons whom YHWH blesses, they would have his care and safeguarding. Their issue or offspring would likewise be blessed.
The reference in the Septuagint to “children for a curse” may be understood to apply to children who die prematurely, as their untimely death would not be regarded as a blessing but as a curse.
65:24. Masoretic Text: And it will be [that] before they call even I will answer. Yet [while] they are speaking, I will hear.
Septuagint: And it will be [that] before they have cried out I will listen to them. Yet [while] they are speaking, I will say, What is it?
Like a loving father, YHWH will respond to the needs of his people, those whom he recognizes as his beloved children. Being fully aware of their circumstances, he will respond even before they call out or pray to him. While they are in the process of making their supplications, he will hear them. As the Septuagint expresses it, he will anticipate their need for his aid with the question, “What is it?” (Compare Daniel 9:20-23; 10:12.)
65:25. Masoretic Text: The wolf and the lamb will feed as one, and the lion will eat straw like the bovine, and [for] the serpent dust [will be] its food. They will not harm and will not destroy in all my holy mountain, says YHWH.
Septuagint: Then wolves and lambs will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the bovine, but [for] the serpent earth [will be] as bread. They will not harm nor by any means ravage on my holy mountain, says the Lord.
In the Greek text, the word rendered “nor” is followed by “not.” To preserve the emphatic sense, the Greek word for “not” has been rendered “by no means.”
In verses 6 through 9 of chapter 11, the same thoughts are expressed in greater detail.
In the time of Isaiah, the territory of the two-tribe kingdom of Judah provided a habitat for wolves, lions, and poisonous snakes. When invading armies desolated much of the land, wild animals would start living and hunting in formerly densely populated areas. As a result, wolves and lions began to prey upon domestic animals.
The idyllic depiction in this prophecy should be considered with this background in mind. Wild animals would remain in their habitat, largely preventing the kind of problems to which frequent encounters with humans can give rise. The dietary needs of wolves, lions, and other predators would be met in their habitat, and their environment would not be ruined through the ravages of war. This would make it possible for wolves to dwell with lambs. As lions would then pose no threat to cattle, the situation would be as though the lion had come to share their diet of hay.
Snakes repeatedly stick out their tongues when slithering over the ground. This may be the basis for the expression that they will eat dust or earth, indicating that no harm would come to people or their domestic animals from poisonous serpents.
The “holy mountain” appears to designate Mount Zion because of its being YHWH’s representative place of dwelling. Under his protective care, no one would experience harm or loss.
Wild animals have needs, and those needs cannot be met in the manicured garden state that many persons envision a “paradise” to be. Without human interference, the environment existing in the natural world provides a suitable habitat for and supplies the needs of wild animals. A future transformation does not denote a change from the existing environment into something like a global petting zoo. The poetic imagery serves to illustrate the dramatic change from a state of insecurity to a condition of enduring tranquility and security.