Isaiah 66:1-24

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66:1. Masoretic Text: Thus says YHWH, The heavens [are] my throne and the earth [is] my footstool. Where [’ey] [is] this house that you would build for me? And where [is] the place of my rest?

Septuagint: Thus says the Lord, Heaven [is] my throne, but the earth [is] the footstool of my feet. What kind of house will you build for me? Or what kind of place [will be] my resting place?

Commentary

In fulfillment of YHWH’s words through his prophets, the Babylonians destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. For any rebuilding to have his approval would require a repentant people with the proper view of the temple. This meant that the Israelites would have to recognize, as did King Solomon, that YHWH could not possibly reside in any man-made edifice. (1 Kings 8:27) As the Supreme Sovereign who exercises rulership over everything, he has his throne or his seat of authority in heaven, and the earth is but a footstool.

The usual meaning for the Hebrew word ’ey is “where.” In this context, however, “what” (as in the Septuagint [poios, “what” or “what kind of”]) fits better. The emphasis does not appear to be on the location of the temple but on the nature of the building. The question is, What kind of temple could the Israelites possibly build for YHWH that would serve as a resting place for him? The implied answer is that there was not a building they could erect to fulfill this purpose, suggesting that the time would come when true worship would not be linked to any man-made structure. (Compare John 4:21-24; Acts 7:44-50.)

66:2. Masoretic Text: And all these things my hand has made, and so all these things exist, [is] the utterance of YHWH. And this is the one on whom I will look: one who is lowly and stricken of spirit and trembles at my word.

Septuagint: For all these things my hand has made, and all these things are mine, says the Lord. And on whom will I look but on the lowly and quiet and the one trembling at my words?

Commentary

All the things represented as the product of YHWH’s hand included everything on earth and in the sky above with which the first readers or hearers were acquainted. Because he chose to create, all these things came to be. Although he is the Supreme Sovereign and the Creator, YHWH looks with approval upon those who have the highest regard for his word or his commands, for the message that sets forth his will. These godly individuals tremble at his word, sincerely seeking to live up to it and having a wholesome fear of transgressing it. They are described as lowly, afflicted, humble, or poor. Though often the object of oppression, they look to YHWH to sustain them in their time of distress and for the relief that is in harmony with his will. Their being “stricken of spirit” suggests that in their inmost selves they recognize their sins and trust in God’s mercy to be forgiven.

The Septuagint reference to godly ones as “quiet” may be understood to mean that they are persons who do not cause disturbance. They are not agitators but individuals who peacefully go about their affairs of life.

66:3. Masoretic Text: The one slaughtering the bull [is like] one slaying a man. The one sacrificing the lamb [is like] one breaking the neck of a dog. The one presenting a grain offering [is like one offering] the blood of a pig. The one presenting a memorial of frankincense [is like] one blessing an idol. Also these have chosen their ways, and their soul delights in their abominations.

Septuagint: But the lawless one, the one sacrificing a calf to me [is] like one killing a dog, but the one offering fine flour [is like one] offering the blood of a pig. The one giving frankincense for a memorial [is] like a blasphemer. And these have chosen their ways and their abominations, which their soul wanted.

The Hebrew word mincháh, here rendered “grain offering,” literally means “gift” or “offering.”

Although the Septuagint makes no reference to the slaying of a man, the basic thought of the text is the same.

Commentary

YHWH did not look with approval on persons who were not devoted to him and conducted themselves contrary to his commands. The Septuagint specifically identifies the disapproved individual as the “lawless one.” YHWH regarded the offerings of lawless ones as disgusting. Their slaughtering of a bull for sacrifice was a repugnant to him as would have been the killing of a man.

According to the law given to the Israelites, both dogs and pigs were unclean animals and, therefore, unacceptable for sacrifice. The firstborn of animals that were acceptable for sacrifice were to be offered to YHWH. In the case of a donkey, an animal that was designated as unclean, the firstborn had to be redeemed by substituting a sheep for sacrifice. Failure to do so required that the neck of the firstborn donkey be broken. (Exodus 13:13; 34:20) Accordingly, the breaking of the neck of a dog related to sacrifice, and YHWH considered the lawless individual’s sacrifice of a lamb to be no more acceptable than the breaking of a dog’s neck. He would not look with favor upon the grain offering of the ungodly but would view it as loathsome as if they had offered pig’s blood.

A memorial of frankincense probably denotes the burning of incense as an expression of praise and thanksgiving. To YHWH this act on the part of a lawless person would have been as abominable as if the individual had blessed an idol or, according to the Septuagint, had been guilty of blasphemy.

Instead of following a divinely approved course of life, lawless persons chose their own ways, ways that showed utter disregard for YHWH’s commands. Their “soul” or they themselves found delight in doing the very things that were abominable to him.

66:4. Masoretic Text: I also will choose their mistreatments [ta‘alulím], and I will bring their fears upon them. Because I called, and no one answered; I spoke and no one listened. And they did the evil thing in my eyes and chose what I did not delight in.

Septuagint: I also will choose mockeries for them and repay the sins to them. Because I called them, and they did not pay attention to me; I spoke and they did not listen, and they did the evil thing in front of me and chose the things I did not desire.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the conjunction “and” is not included after “I called.”

Commentary

YHWH decreed that he would punish the people for disregarding his commands. The practices of the lawless ones resulted in injury to others. Correspondingly, YHWH’s choosing their “mistreatments” appears to mean that he would let the lawless ones experience the kinds of ill-treatment they had meted out to others. The Targum of Isaiah refers to the punishment as “their destruction.” Translators have variously translated the phrase that includes the plural Hebrew noun ta‘alulím. “So I also will choose harsh treatment for them.” (NIV) “So I will choose their punishments.” (NCV) “I in turn shall adopt a wilful course.” (REB) According to the Septuagint, YHWH would choose to have the lawless people become the objects of mockery. A number of modern translations have adopted the same basic meaning. “So will I choose to mock them.” (Tanakh) “I too take delight in making fools of them.” (NJB)

YHWH would bring upon them “their fear” or the severe punishment of which they were very much afraid. The Targum of Isaiah indicates that he would not deliver them from experiencing what they dreaded.

YHWH had been patient with them, calling them through his prophets to repent and to return to him, but they did not respond. When he made known his will through his prophets, they did not listen. Instead, they defiantly practiced evil openly or right in front of him and chose to do the very things that were contrary to his will.

66:5. Masoretic Text: Hear the word of YHWH, you the ones trembling at his word, Your brothers, the ones hating you and casting you out for the sake of my name, have said, “Let YHWH be glorified, and we may see your joy!” And they will be shamed.

Septuagint: Hear the word of the Lord, you the ones trembling at his word. Speak, O our brothers, to the ones hating us and abhorring [us], that the name of the Lord may be glorified and be seen in their joy. And those will be shamed.

For the second occurrence of the Hebrew term for “word,” the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) has the plural “words.” Instead of “we may see,” the scroll reads, “he will see,” indicating that YHWH would see the joy of those who had been the objects of hatred.

The Targum of Isaiah refers to the righteous as those who tremble at YHWH’s word.

Commentary

The word of YHWH through his prophet is directed to the faithful ones among the Israelites. They are described as trembling at his word or as having a wholesome fear of not wanting to act contrary to it. Their own brothers, fellow Israelites, hated them and treated them as persons who had been expelled from the community. According to the rendering of the Septuagint, the lawless Israelites considered the devoted servants of YHWH as loathsome. It was on account of YHWH’s name or because of an earnest desire to do his will that upright Israelites came to be outcasts and objects of hatred.

It appears that the lawless ones taunted the devoted servants of YHWH to the effect that he should display his glory, acting for those whom they mocked. These lawless ones added that, if this were to happen, they would see the joy of those whom they hated. In their interpretive renderings, a number of translations are specific in identifying the words of the lawless ones to be a mockery. “Some of your own people hate and reject you because of me. They make fun and say, ‘Let the LORD show his power! Let us see him make you truly happy.’” (CEV) “They mock you and say, ‘Let the LORD show his greatness and save you, so that we may see you rejoice.’” (GNT, Second Edition)

According to another interpretation, the expression of the lawless ones includes only the words “Let YHWH be glorified!” “Yahweh be glorified! Therefore shall he appear to your rejoicing, But, they, shall turn pale.” (J. B. Rotherham) “Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.” (KJV) When the saying of the haters of YHWH’s servants is limited to “YHWH be glorified,” their words could be understood to be a hypocritical claim to be his worshipers. The assurance to the upright Israelites would then be that YHWH would manifest himself and come to their aid, leading to their rejoicing.

The Israelites who found themselves among the hated and despised on account of being faithful to YHWH are promised that this would end. Those who hated and loathed them are the ones whom he would put to shame.

According to the Septuagint rendering, the “brothers” of the devoted Israelites are the ones to speak out, directing their words to those who hated and despised them. It appears that their words would express confidence that the name of YHWH would be glorified when he would bring relief to the upright Israelites. This glory would then be seen in their joy, whereas those who hated them would be put to shame.

66:6. Masoretic Text: A sound of uproar from the city, a sound from the temple, a sound of YHWH rendering repayment to his adversaries.

Septuagint: A sound of outcry from the city, a sound from the sanctuary, a sound of the Lord repaying repayment to [his] adversaries.

According to the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the uproar or sound is “in” the city.

The Targum of Isaiah is specific in identifying the city as Jerusalem.

Commentary

The “sound of uproar” or the loud shout or powerful outcry is represented as coming from Jerusalem and from the temple. It is the sound originating at the time YHWH executes his judgment against his enemies.

In all three occurrences of the word here rendered “sound,” the reference could be to the voice of YHWH that is heard when he carries out his punitive judgment. Another possible meaning is that when YHWH punishes his enemies, the result is tumult from battle in the city. Both meanings are reflected in the renderings of modern translations. “Do you hear that noise in the city and those shouts coming from the temple? It is the LORD shouting as he punishes his enemies.” (CEV) “Hear the loud sounds coming from the city! Listen to the noise coming from the temple! I am the one who is causing it. I am paying my enemies back for everything they have done.” (NIRV) “Listen! From the city resounds the fray, from the temple the tumult of war! The Lord is carrying out his judicial punishment against his foes!” (Horcht, von der Stadt her schallt Kampfgetümmel, vom Tempel her Kriegslärm! Der Herr vollstreckt das Strafgericht an seinen Feinden!) [German, Gute Nachricht Bibel])

66:7. Masoretic Text: Before she went into labor, she gave birth; before labor pain came upon her, she was delivered of a male.

Septuagint: Before her being in labor to give birth, before the coming of the pain of the pangs, she escaped and gave birth to a male.

According to the interpretation of the Targum of Isaiah, the male is a king. “Before trembling will come upon her, as pangs upon a woman with child, her king will be revealed.”

The reference in the Septuagint to escaping appears to relate to escaping the labor pains.

Commentary

In verse 6, the reference is to the judgment to befall the disobedient Israelites, with resultant devastation of Jerusalem. This verse appears to indicate that there would be a sudden restoration, with the city again coming to be inhabited. Jerusalem is likened to a woman about to give birth, and she does so without experiencing a period of painful labor. As in Exodus 4:22 and Hosea 11:1, “son” may designate Israel as a people, and giving birth to a male could then be understood to apply to Jerusalem as coming to be a city with children or inhabitants without undergoing a distressing experience comparable to a woman’s labor pains.

66:8. Masoretic Text: Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For [as soon as] Zion was in labor, she brought forth her sons.

Septuagint: Who has heard such a thing? And who has seen thus? Did the land come to be in labor [just] one day? Or also was a nation brought forth at once? For Zion came to be in labor and gave birth to her children.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the conjunction “and” precedes the question about seeing, and it contains a different form of the verb for “see.”

The Targum of Isaiah relates this development to the comfort Zion or Jerusalem would receive upon coming to be “filled with the people of her exiles.”

Commentary

The implied answer to the questions is that no one had ever heard of such a thing nor had seen such things. A land is not brought forth in just one day. It does not come to be an inhabited area in just a short time after having remained in a desolated state for decades. A nation does not come into existence on a devastated land in but a moment or at once. In the case of Jerusalem or Zion, this did happen in a comparatively short time. Though Jerusalem had been destroyed and the surrounding land had been devastated, the Persian monarch Cyrus, the conqueror of Babylon, granted the Israelite exiles the opportunity to return to their land. Thus, as in one day, an inhabited land came into existence, and a nation once again occupied this land. Jerusalem or Zion, the capital city, again came to be the mother of sons or inhabitants. This development appeared to be as if the labor of Jerusalm’s childbirth had hardly started when her children appeared.

Something similar happened in the case of the “Jerusalem above.” (Galatians 4:26) The heavenly city appeared devoid of any children from among the human family. Then, with the coming of Jesus Christ to the earth and his surrendering his life for the world of humankind, those who put faith in him and accepted his sacrifice for them were forgiven of their sins and reconciled to God as his approved children. Thus, suddenly, the heavenly Jerusalem came to have an ever-increasing number of sons or children.

66:9. Masoretic Text: Shall I cause to break out and not cause to bring forth? says YHWH. Shall I, the one causing to bring forth, also restrain? says your God.

Septuagint: But I gave this expectation, and you did not remember me, said the Lord. Look! Did I not make the one bearing and the barren one? said God.

The ancient consonantal Hebrew text does not distinguish the sin (S) from the shin (S). This appears to explain why the Septuagint translator read the Hebrew word as a form of séver (“expectation” or “hope”) and not as a form of shavár (“break” or “break out”).

The Targum of Isaiah relates this verse to the bringing of the Jewish exiles back to their land. “I, God, created the world from the beginning, says YHWH. I created all mankind; I scattered them among the nations; I also am about to gather together your exiles, says your God.”

Commentary

These words serve to emphasize the certainty of the promised restoration of Jerusalem. The breaking out refers to the action of bringing to the point of giving birth. Once YHWH has brought the development to this point, he would most assuredly cause the actual birth to take place. When the actual birth is about to occur, he would definitely not stop it from happening. He would open the way for Jerusalem to have children or inhabitants, and he would by no means prevent the city from being populated. Likewise, he would not put a restraint on the Jerusalem above, keeping the heavenly city from coming to have an increasing number of children from among the members of the human family.

The Septuagint rendering could be understood to mean that YHWH provided the basis for the hope that Jerusalem would be restored. Yet the people forgot about him, not remembering him as the one who would unerringly fulfill his promises. As the maker of both the child-bearing woman and the barren woman, YHWH could also make it possible for the barren woman to have a child. Accordingly, desolated Jerusalem and the land of Judah would again come to be inhabited.

66:10. Masoretic Text: Be joyful with Jerusalem and rejoice with her, all the ones loving her. Exult with her in exultation, all the ones mourning over her, …

Septuagint: Be joyful, O Jerusalem, and be festive in her, all the ones loving her. Rejoice with joy, all the ones mourning over her, …

The sentences continues in the next verse.

Commentary

The restoration of Jerusalem would call for all those loving her as YHWH’s representative place of dwelling to heed the imperative to rejoice. Those who had mourned over the city’s having been desolated would be able to act on the admonition to exult or to be jubilant about the marvelous transformation from a desolate waste into a thriving inhabited city. Like joy could be expressed by the children or citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem.

66:11. Masoretic Text: … so that you may nurse and be satisfied from the breast of her consolations, so that you may suck out and be delighted from the fullness (ziz) of her glory.

Septuagint: … so that you may nurse and be filled from the breast of her consolation, so that, having sucked out, you may delight yourself from the entrance of her glory.

In this context, certain lexicographers have understood the Hebrew word ziz to denote “fullness” or “abundance.” Based on the meaning of the Akkadian word zīzu and the Arabic zīzat, others have concluded that the Hebrew term designates the “teat,” “nipple,” or the “full breast.” The Septuagint rendering does not support this significance. Possibly the expression “entrance of her glory” refers to the entrance or the start of her amazing transformation from a desolated city to a restored and repopulated metropolis.

The Targum of Isaiah does not mention “breasts,” but refers to the “spoil of her consolations” and the “wine of her glory.”

Commentary

Jerusalem is here likened to a nursing mother, and her children to infants. Besides receiving nourishment, a baby finds comfort at the breast of its mother.

Upon seeing the restoration of Jerusalem from a desolated city to a flourishing metropolis, the Israelites would have been consoled like a nursing baby. For the children or citizens of the “Jerusalem above” (Galatians 4:26), the realization that the heavenly city continues to become more populous brings great comfort, especially when they experience the kind of distress that makes them feel like helpless infants.

In the case of the Israelites, their being back in their land and no longer submitted to the taunting they experienced as exiles would have been comparable to their being able to nurse to satisfaction. In this way, they would have been able to enjoy the “fullness” of the “glory” of their mother or of Jerusalem in her restored state. Even greater is the delight of the children of the “Jerusalem above,” for they benefit from God’s aid, protective care, and blessing as persons having been forgiven of their sins and reconciled to him as his beloved sons.

66:12. Masoretic Text: For thus says YHWH, Look! I will extend peace to her like a river and the glory of nations like an overflowing stream, and you will nurse. You will be carried on [her] side and fondled on [her] knees.

Septuagint: For thus says the Lord, Look! I am turning to them like a river of peace and like a torrent overflowing the glory of nations. Their children will be lifted up on shoulders and comforted on knees.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the introductory “for” (ki) is omitted.

The Targum of Isaiah refers to the river as the Euphrates.

Commentary

The portrayal of Jerusalem as a mother continues in this verse. YHWH is represented as granting “peace,” prosperity, or well-being to Jerusalem. Its being extended “like a river” indicates that peace would be abundant, suggesting that Jerusalem would prosper greatly. The expression the “glory of nations” probably denotes the riches of the nations, for people of the nations would be bringing precious gifts to Jerusalem as contributions for YHWH’s temple there.

According to the Septuagint rendering, YHWH would be turning to his people like a “river of peace,” or like an abundant provision to assure their well-being and prosperity. His turning to them “like a torrent overflowing the glory of nations” could mean that the “glory” or the strength of nations would be swept away as by a raging stream, removing any potential for threatening the security of his people.

The Israelites would benefit from the status of Jerusalem as a flourishing city, as if they were nursing like babies. As a forgiven people, the Israelites would be lovingly cared for like an infant that is carried on the hip and caressed while lying or sitting on its mother’s knees.

The Septuagint appears to represent the children of the people as being given loving attention. They are lifted up on the shoulders so as to be carried and comforted when positioned on the knees.

When the words of this verse are applied to the “Jerusalem above” (Galatians 4:26), they may be understood as referring to the bountiful blessings and the tender care that the children or citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem would enjoy. With people from the nations in ever-increasing numbers becoming her children, the “Jerusalem above” would have the glory of nations come to her like an overflowing torrent. The peace that would be extended to this Jerusalem would then be the state of well-being in which her citizens as God’s approved children would find themselves.

66:13. Masoretic Text: As a man whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you, and you will be comforted in Jerusalem.

Septuagint: As when a mother will comfort someone, so also will I comfort you, and you will be comforted in Jerusalem.

Commentary

Good mothers are known for their compassion, and their tender feelings do not end for their adult children. The reading of the Hebrew text may be understood to apply to a grown son. When experiencing distress, he would become the recipient of his mother’s comfort in the form of sympathetic words and any means of assistance available to her. According to the rendering of the Septuagint, the mother’s comfort may be extended to anyone in an afflicted state.

Just like a compassionate mother, YHWH would comfort his people, sustaining them in their time of distress or liberating them from affliction. In the case of the Jewish exiles, they experienced his comfort when he made it possible for them to return to their land and protected them along the way. They would have been comforted in Jerusalem upon seeing the end of the city’s devastated condition.

The prophetic words may also be understood to apply to the children of the “Jerusalem above.” (Galatians 4:26) YHWH’s comfort would include his forgiving them of their sins and accepting them as members of his beloved family of sons. Moreover, in their distress, he, by means of his spirit, strengthens them to endure. His promise of certain relief provides a basis for the hope that makes faithful endurance possible, and this is a source of comfort to them. The blessings, aid, and protective care that Jesus Christ’s devoted disciples receive may be understood as evidence of their being comforted in Jerusalem, for they are the recipients because of being citizens of this heavenly city.

66:14. Masoretic Text: And you will see, and your heart will exult, and your bones will sprout like grass, and the hand of the Lord YHWH will be known to his servants, and his indignation [will be known] against his adversaries.

Septuagint: And you will see, and your heart will rejoice, and your bones will sprout like grass, and the hand of the Lord will be known to the ones revering him, and he will threaten the ones disobeying him.

The Targum of Isaiah refers to the revealing of YHWH’s might when he will be doing “good to his servants, the righteous.” He, however, will bring a curse upon his enemies.

Commentary

Upon witnessing the restoration of the land and of Jerusalem, the people, in their heart or their inmost selves, would be exceedingly joyful. The reference to their bones sprouting like grass may be understood to indicate that the people would be enjoying a flourishing bodily state. They would be invigorated or infused with strength upon seeing the positive developments that had been the object of their longing while in exile. Based on what YHWH would be doing for them, his servants would know or clearly recognize his hand or his power. While they would enjoy his aid, guidance, and protective care, his enemies would come to be the object of his anger. According to the Septuagint rendering, YHWH would threaten to punish those who acted contrary to his will.

The citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem have cause for exulting in their inmost selves when seeing individuals becoming disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ and thus coming to have the “Jerusalem above” as their mother. (Galatians 4:26) What YHWH does for them fills them with strength, causing them to flourish like grass. In the aid, blessings, guidance, and protective care of which they are recipients, the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem recognize his hand or power at work for them. They are also fully aware that his wrath is directed against all who persist in defiant disregard of his will.

66:15. Masoretic Text: For look, YHWH will come in fire, his chariots like a windstorm, to render his anger in fury and his rebuke in flames of fire.

Septuagint: For look, the Lord will come like fire, and his chariots like a windstorm, to render vengeance in anger and his renunciation in a flame of fire.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the Hebrew word for “chariot” is singular, the expression “his anger” is repeated, and “his rebuke” appears to be plural.

Commentary

“Fire” is a destructive element. The reference to YHWH’s coming “in fire” could signify that he is represented as surrounded by fire for the purpose of executing a fiery punitive judgment against all who defiantly disregard his will. During military campaigns, the rapidly moving chariots played a prominent role in the conflict. With destructive force like that of a windstorm, the chariots of YHWH would be moving swiftly against those who oppose him. In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the singular “chariot” could imply that YHWH is being depicted as the warrior in his rapidly advancing chariot. Possibly the plural “chariots” could be understood to designate the angelic host as if occupying chariots.

YHWH is portrayed as coming to express his anger against those acting contrary to his purpose and to direct his rebuke against lawless ones. The ones against whom his punitive judgment is directed may be either corrupt Israelites or people of the nations who conducted themselves as if they had no conscience. The reference in the next verse to “all flesh” and additionally to “all the earth” in the Septuagint suggests that the judgment will affect all nations. When divine anger and rebuke are expressed “in flames of fire,” this would result in a fiery end or complete ruin to those who are the object of divine wrath and rebuke.

66:16. Masoretic Text: For with fire YHWH will be judging and with his sword upon all flesh. And many will be those slain by YHWH.

Septuagint: For with the fire of the Lord all the earth will be judged, and all flesh with his sword. Many will be the wounded by the Lord.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the expression about judging reads differently and may be rendered “will come for judgment.” Additionally, the definite article precedes the word for “flesh.”

Commentary

The link of fire to YHWH’s judging reveals that his judging is punitive and would have serious consequences for the ones being judged. That the judgment would spell destruction for those who set themselves in defiant opposition to him is indicated by the fact that “his sword is upon all flesh.” The expression “all flesh” may apply to people of all the nations who defiantly resist his will. YHWH’s severe judgment would result in many deaths as if a sword had been wielded against them.

66:17. Masoretic Text: The ones sanctifying themselves and purifying themselves [to go] into the gardens behind one in the midst, the ones eating the flesh of the pig and the loathsome thing and the mouse, will come to an end together. [This is] the utterance of YHWH.

Septuagint: The ones sanctifying themselves and purifying themselves in the gardens and, in the porches, eating meat of a pig and the loathsome things and the mouse will be consumed together, said the Lord.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) does not include the Hebrew verb here rendered “will come to an end,” and it concludes with the words, “says YHWH.”

The Greek word for “porch” (próthyron) also can apply to a doorway. Possibly the reference in the Septuagint is to an open area adjacent to an entrance.

Commentary

YHWH’s judgment is directed against idolaters. The gardens would have been sacred groves where they engaged in cultic rites. According to the Targum of Isaiah, these gardens were “gardens of the idols.” Before engaging in worship, the idolaters sanctified themselves or set themselves apart for this purpose and cleansed themselves ceremonially.

There is a measure of uncertainty about the significance of the phrase rendered “behind one in the midst.” These words may also be translated “following one in the midst.” It may be that the idolaters are being represented as followers of one who is in their midst at the cultic site. Translators have variously rendered the phrase (“imitating one in the center” [Tanakh], “one after another in a magic ring” [REB], “as followers of one who stands within” [NAB], “following the one in the centre” [NJB]).

The “loathsome thing” (plural in the Septuagint) could designate any kind of reptile or another creature that the law given to Israel classified as unclean. Idolaters ate pork and meat from other animals that God-fearing Israelites would have regarded as abhorrent. YHWH decreed that all who persisted in abominable idolatrous practices would perish.

66:18. Masoretic Text: And I [know] their works and their thoughts. [The time] is coming to gather all the nations and tongues, and they will come and see my glory.

Septuagint: And I know their works and their reasoning. I am coming to assemble all the nations and tongues, and they will come and see my glory.

For the first occurrence of the Hebrew word for “come,” the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) has a different form of the verb, and it may be translated “come” (imperative) or “they have come.”

The reference to “all the nations” is possibly to be understood in a relative sense and to designate all the nations surrounding the land of God’s people. This is suggested in the next verse, which mentions people of more distant nations as not having heard about YHWH’s fame nor seen his glory.

Commentary

In the Hebrew text, there is no verb relating to the works and thoughts or, according to the Septuagint, reasoning. Based on the previous verse, these are the works and thoughts of idolaters. The Septuagint rendering supports understanding the reference to be to YHWH’s knowing or being fully aware of their deeds and thoughts.

The Hebrew participle, here rendered “is coming,” is feminine gender, and this does not fit linking the participle to YHWH’s coming. Translators that follow the Masoretic Text commonly insert “the time.” Others, as does the Septuagint in its rendering, apply the coming to YHWH. In either case, the words about coming relate to a gathering of people of the nations, the various peoples who speak distinctly different native languages. The apparent purpose of the gathering is for YHWH to pronounce his judgment regarding them. In response to the directive to come, the people from the nations would come. They would then see YHWH’s glory as the Supreme Sovereign and Judge when he renders his judicial decisions in keeping with the highest standard of justice.

66:19. Masoretic Text: And I will set a sign among them and send survivors from them to the nations, [to] Tarshish, Pul and Lud, the ones drawing the bow, [to] Tubal and Javan, [to] the distant islands that have not heard of my report and seen my glory. And they will declare my glory among the nations.

Septuagint: And I will leave signs upon them, and I will send forth from them to the nations ones having been saved, to Tharsis [Tarshish] and Phoud [Put] and Loud [Lud] and Mosoch [Meshach] and Thobel [Tubal] and to Greece and to the distant islands, those who have not heard of my name nor seen my glory. And they will announce my glory among the nations.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), as in the Septuagint, the word for “sign” is plural.

Commentary

The context does not identify the kind of sign that YHWH would set among the people of the assembled nations who would come to see his glory. According to the Septuagint rendering, he would leave “signs” upon them. Possibly the “sign” is the evidence that would reveal the glory or splendor of YHWH as the only true God, and which sign those who are designated as “survivors” of his judgment would acknowledge as having been provided by him. The Septuagint rendering could be understood to mean that what the survivors witnessed respecting YHWH’s glory made such a deep impression on them that it was comparable to having signs or markings placed on them.

The people from the assembled nations appear to have been from those that surrounded the land of Israel, for YHWH purposed to send survivors from among them to more distant nations. Tarshish is commonly associated with a location on the Iberian Peninsula, but this identification is not certain. “Pud” cannot be linked to any known land, but “Put” has been identified with Lybia. In his Antiquities, (I, vi, 4), the Jewish first-century historian Josephus identified “Lud” with the Lydians who occupied a region in southwest Asia Minor. The people of Tarshish, Put and Lud appear to have been expert archers. Tubal is thought to have been in eastern Asia Minor to the northeast of Cilicia. Javan has been identified with Greece.

In the Septuagint, there is a reference to Mosoch or Meshach, which is linked to a region in Asia Minor.

Those whom YHWH would send would of necessity be survivors who had come to acknowledge him as the only true God and who had come to see his glory through his dealings. This would make it possible for them to make known the report about YHWH or to relate the reputation associated with his judgments and deliverances. They would be able to declare YHWH’s glory, making him known as the only true God who can both administer punishment and effect deliverance.

The prophecy of Jeremiah pointed to the time when the Babylonians would serve as YHWH’s instrument for executing his punitive judgment against all the nations surrounding his people. (Jeremiah 25:8-33) The survivors of that judgment would have offspring. Their children and all their descendants would also be “survivors,” for they would never have been born if their ancestors had perished. Accordingly, when Jesus Christ appeared on the earthly scene as the promised Messiah, “survivors” of YHWH’s judgment against the nations still existed. After his death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven, they had the opportunity to become God’s approved children. This status they came to have upon putting faith in Jesus as their Lord and God’s unique Son and accepting the surrender of his life for them as the means by which they could be forgiven of their sins. When sharing with others what God had made possible through his Son, non-Jewish believers did declare his glory among the nations, revealing him to be a loving Father who deeply cares about the human family.

66:20. Masoretic Text: And they will bring all your brothers from all the nations as a gift to YHWH, upon horses and in a chariot and in wagons and on mules and on camels, up to my holy mountain, Jerusalem, says YHWH, just as the sons of Israel bring their grain offering [literally, “gift”] in a clean vessel to the house of YHWH.

Septuagint: And they will transport your brothers from all the nations as a gift to the Lord, with horses and chariots, in mule-drawn carriages with sunshades, to the holy city, Jerusalem, said the Lord, as [when] the sons of Israel, with psalms, may bring their sacrifices to me into the house of the Lord.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the expression rendered “from all” appears as a correction above the word for “nations.”

Commentary

The ones whom YHWH sent to distant nations are distinguished from the Israelites, for they are represented as bringing the “brothers” of the Israelites (“your brothers”) to Jerusalem. This suggests that non-Jews would be involved in assisting Jews to come to the center of true worship. Their kindly aid extended to the Jews is seemingly represented by their furnishing various forms of transportation to facilitate the journey to Jerusalem, the holy city because of its being the location of YHWH’s temple. The previously scattered Jews from the nations are a “gift” for YHWH, indicating that they are acceptable to him as persons forgiven of their sins and reconciled to him. That they are acceptable is highlighted by likening their being brought up to Jerusalem to the action of the Israelites when bringing an acceptable gift or grain offering in a clean vessel and, therefore, in an undefiled state to the temple, the house of YHWH. According to the Septuagint rendering, the Israelites, when bringing their sacrifices, would be singing psalms, praising God.

Although the prophetic language reflects the existing arrangement for worship in the time of the prophet, the role of non-Israelites points to a significant change in the relationship of Jews and non-Jews. YHWH is represented as sending non-Jews to distant nations to declare his glory (verse 19), and these non-Jews arrange for Jews in those distant lands to be transported to Jerusalem.

Not long after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven, his disciples from the non-Jewish peoples did make known God’s glory and shared with Jews scattered in various lands the message about Jesus Christ and how through faith in him and his sacrificial death people everywhere could be forgiven of their sins and come to be God’s beloved children. Throughout the centuries, both Jews and non-Jews have responded to this message. In this manner, Jews have been brought to the heavenly Jerusalem, sharing in the worship “in spirit and truth” that Jesus Christ mentioned to a Samaritan woman. (John 4:21-24; Hebrews 12:18-24)

66:21. Masoretic Text:And from them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says YHWH.

Septuagint: And from them I will take for me priests and Levites, said the Lord.

The inclusion of “for me” in the Septuagint has the support of the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll).

Commentary

It appears that from among the sons of Israel that are portrayed as having been brought back to Jerusalem, YHWH would choose individuals as priests and Levites. The prophetic words do not identify the ones chosen as priestly descendants of Aaron and as members of the tribe of Levi but as being chosen to function in the capacity of priests and Levites. A prominent role that priests and Levites filled was that of teaching God’s law to fellow Israelites. (Leviticus 10:8-11; 2 Chronicles 15:3; 35:3; Malachi 2:7)

On account of their knowledge of Hebrew and Aramaic, of the Scriptures in the original Hebrew and Aramaic that Jewish copyists preserved, and of other preserved Hebrew and Aramaic writings that contribute to understanding the Scriptures, numerous Jewish believers have served the community of the followers of Jesus Christ as outstanding teachers by means of the spoken and the written word. These Jewish believers have been God’s gifts to the community of Jesus Christ’s disciples. They have proved to be like the faithful priests and Levites who taught fellow Israelites in past centuries.

66:22. Masoretic Text: For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I am making, will remain before my face, [is] the utterance of YHWH, so will your seed and your name remain.

Septuagint: For in the manner the new heaven and the new earth, which I am making, remain before me, says the Lord, so will your seed and your name stand.

The expression literally translated “before my face” means “before me.”

Commentary

This verse includes thoughts previously expressed in Isaiah 65:17 (which see for comments). As evident from the Septuagint reference to Jerusalem in the next verse, YHWH’s making new heavens and a new earth does not mean the destruction of the existing earth and the rest of the universe. Instead, it signifies a marvelous transformation of the environment into one where distress and sadness do not exist. This transformed environment of new heavens and a new earth will remain for eternity. Just as the permanence of the changed heavens and earth is sure, likewise the “seed” or the offspring of the people of Israel will remain for all time to come. For the “name” to “remain” or “stand” (LXX) would mean that the identity of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob whom YHWH recognizes as his own will endure without change. They will continue to be his people.

66:23. Masoretic Text: And it will be, from new moon to new moon and from sabbath to sabbath, that all flesh will come to bow down before my face, says YHWH.

Septuagint: And it will be month after month and sabbath after sabbath that all flesh will come before me to prostrate themselves in Jerusalem, said the Lord.

In the Masoretic Text, the second occurrence of “sabbath” has a masculine suffix (“his sabbath”), whereas the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) has a feminine suffix (“her sabbath”). “His sabbath” may be understood to designate YHWH’s sabbath, the one he commanded the Israelites to observe. “Her sabbath” could denote the sabbath of Jerusalem, the one which her children or citizens keep. In the scroll, the definite article precedes “flesh.”

The expression literally translated “before my face” denotes “before me.”

Commentary

All who would have a share in the new heavens and the new earth of YHWH’s making would be his approved children, members of his beloved family. Their reverential regard for him is portrayed in terms of the existing arrangement of worship in the time of the prophet. The appearance of the new moon marked the start of a new month. So, regularly, from month to month, divinely approved persons are represented as bowing down before YHWH in worship. Sabbath observance was a prominent feature of the law given to the Israelites. In this context, the reference to the sabbath indicates that regularly, from one sabbath to another sabbath, all “flesh” or all people would revere YHWH. According to the Septuagint rendering, they would go to Jerusalem for worship, the implication being that they would be going to the temple located there. In relation to the “Jerusalem above” (Galatians 4:26), there is no temple set aside for worship, but those worshiping God would do so “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). This would not require the existence of a fixed edifice for worship nor a specific geographical location.

66:24. Masoretic Text: And they will go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against me; for their worm will not die, and the fire will not be extinguished. And they will be an abhorrence to all flesh.

Septuagint: And they will go forth and will see the carcasses of the men transgressing against me; for their worm will not die, and their fire will not be extinguished. And they will be a sight to all flesh.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the definite article precedes “flesh.”

The Targum of Isaiah concludes with the words, “And the wicked will be judged in Gehinnam (Gehenna) until the righteous say concerning them, We have seen enough.”

Commentary

This verse reveals the outcome for those who refuse to submit to YHWH’s will and defiantly persist in transgressing his commands. They will have no share in the new heavens and a new earth. Instead they will become something abhorrent, comparable to being tossed into a garbage dump where fires burn continually. As a singular collective, “worm” denotes the maggots that would be on the dead bodies that the flames do not reach. As maggots eventually become flies, they are not observed as dying in the larval stage. Therefore, as expressed in the text, “their worm will not die.” The abhorrent state of condemnation will not end, the transgressors will forever be deprived of any possibility of the eternal life enjoyed by those whom God approves.