Isaiah 48:1-22

48:1. Masoretic Text: Hear this, house of Jacob, the ones being called by the name of Israel, and who came from the waters of Judah, the ones swearing by the name of YHWH and who remember the God of Israel, not in truth and not in righteousness.

Septuagint: Hear these things, house of Jacob, the ones being called by the name of Israel and having come out from Judah, the ones swearing by the name of the Lord God of Israel, the ones remembering [the name] not with truth nor with righteousness,

The Targum of Isaiah does not refer to swearing in the name of YHWH but says that a “covenant was made in the name of YHWH God of Israel.” This Targum also links “truth” and “righteousness” to him.


The “house of Jacob” or the people descended from him, the Israelites, are called upon to “hear” or to listen to the message YHWH would be conveying through his prophet. After Jacob wrestled with an angel, his name was changed to Israel. (Genesis 32:24-28) For this reason, his descendants could call themselves by that name, thereby identifying themselves as God’s people. They are also referred to as coming “from the waters of Judah,” indicating that their origin was traced to Jacob’s son Judah. According to the interpretation of the Targum of Isaiah, they came from the “family of Judah.” With the message being directed to Israelites of the two-tribe kingdom of Judah and Judah being the dominant tribe, the people could be spoken of as coming from Jacob’s son Judah. Although they were then not truly devoted to YHWH, they swore by his name when endeavoring to establish the truthfulness of their statements.

Their “remembering” the God of Israel could signify that they were fully aware that YHWH was their God and that they made mention of him, but they were not truly devoted to him. Whatever acknowledgment they made of YHWH was not made in “truth” or in sincerity and not in “righteousness,” in uprightness, or with the proper motivation and out of reverential regard for him.

48:2. Masoretic Text: For they call themselves after the holy city, and on the God of Israel they lean. YHWH of hosts [is] his name.

Septuagint: and the ones holding on to the name of the holy city and leaning on the God of Israel. The Lord Sabaoth [is] his name.

“Sabaoth” is a transliteration of the Hebrew word meaning “hosts” or “armies.”

According to the Targum of Isaiah, the portion or share of the people is in the holy city.


As the location of YHWH’s temple, Jerusalem was the “holy city.” When calling themselves after the “holy city,” the people expressed an attachment to the location as persons having a share in it and apparently thought that their link to the city would assure their security. (Compare Jeremiah 7:3-11.) Although their acknowledgment of YHWH as their God was not a sincere expression and their words and actions did not harmonize with his commands, they still expected him to come to their aid and to safeguard them. In that sense, they leaned or relied on him as the God of his people Israel.

His being identified as “YHWH of hosts” reveals that he has hosts of angels in his service. The name YHWH, considered to be drawn from a root of the verb “to be,” indicates that he is the God who is, continues to be, and is the ultimate Source of everything that exists and that will come to be in fulfillment of his word and purpose. The name stands as an absolute guarantee that he would never deviate from what he has declared or revealed he would prove himself to be. He and his word, therefore, are deserving of trust, and hosts of angels are at his service to carry out his purpose.

48:3. Masoretic Text: I announced the first things then [in the past]. And from my mouth, they went out, and I made them heard. Suddenly I did [them], and they came about.

Septuagint: The first things I yet announced [in the past]. And from my mouth, it went out and came to be heard. Suddenly I did [it], and it came about.


Through his prophets, YHWH announced the “first things” or significant future events long in advance. The declarations are represented as going out of YHWH’s mouth, for they were the messages he revealed to his prophets who then publicly declared them. Thus, by means of the prophets, YHWH made his words or messages to be heard. Because the foretold events suddenly came to pass, he is spoken of as doing or acting so that the previously announced “first things” did occur.

48:4. Masoretic Text: Because of my knowledge that you [are] hard, and your neck [is] an iron sinew and your forehead brass,

Septuagint: I know that you are hard, and your neck [is] an iron sinew and your forehead brass.

At the beginning of this verse, the main text in the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah could be translated to read, “since I have come to know.” Above and below three of the Hebrew letters (shin, daleth, and the first yod) there are dots, indicating that they be deleted. With the deletion, the text is closer to the reading of the Masoretic Text.


YHWH is represented as being fully aware of the stubborn or unyielding disposition of the Israelites. They were “hard” or obstinate to the point that their neck and forehead could be spoken of as being like metals. Their neck being like an “iron sinew” is reflective of their resistance to faithful adherence to YHWH’s commands, for an “iron sinew” would be unyielding. In Jeremiah 3:3, the forehead is linked to the shamelessness associated with whoredom. So the reference to the forehead being like brass or copper could suggest that the unfaithful Israelites were shameless in their noncompliance with YHWH’s requirements for them as his people.

48:5. Masoretic Text: I then [in the past] announced to you. Before it came about, I made you hear it, lest you should say, “My idol did them, and my [carved] image and my molten thing commanded them.”

Septuagint: And I announced to you long ago. Before they came upon you, I made [them] audible to you. Do not say, “My idols did,” and do not say, “The carved things and the molten things gave command to me.”

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the conjunction “and” does not follow the words here rendered “my idol did them.”


In order to reveal to the Israelites that he was actively involved in their history, YHWH, through his prophets, had made known significant future developments long before they occurred. This was to make it clear to them that, upon coming to experience the things that had been heard in advance, they should not attribute this to the deities that were represented by carved or molten images. These lifeless images could not give any command for the foretold developments to take place. The images were representations of nonexistent deities and, as the Septuagint rendering indicates, could not be the source of any command.

During the time Jeremiah served as a prophet, the Israelites did the very thing that they should not have done. They attributed the calamities that had befallen them to their having failed to engage in certain idolatrous practices.

48:6. Masoretic Text: You have heard; [now] see all this. And will you not announce [it]? From now on I make you hear new things and hidden things, and you have not known [them].

Septuagint: You have heard all things, and you have not known [them]. But I have also made audible to you from now on new things, which are about to occur, and you did not say.


The Israelites had heard the word of YHWH through the proclamation of his prophets, and they were directed to “see” or to recognize the fulfillment of the prophetic word. As witnesses to what had taken place, they should have been willing to relate what they had experienced and acknowledge that YHWH, through his prophets, had made known the specific developments in advance.

According to the Septuagint rendering, they did not know all the things that they had heard. This could mean that they did not pay attention to what was proclaimed so that they did not act in harmony therewith as persons having knowledge. Another possible significance is that they did not previously know all the things that were revealed to them through the messages the prophets conveyed.

From that particular time, YHWH would be announcing new things through his prophet. They were hidden things that no human could have predicted with accuracy and so would have been completely unknown to the Israelites. In view of the words in verses 14, 15, and 20, the new and hidden things appear to relate to the role of Cyrus in carrying out YHWH’s purpose to overthrow Babylon and to have the Israelite exiles return to their land to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple there.

The Septuagint rendering represents the “new things” as about to take place. They were certain to come to pass, and from that standpoint could be considered as about to occur. The phrase “you did not say” could mean that, because the Israelites did not put faith in the prophetic word, they did not speak about it.

48:7. Masoretic Text: Now they are created and not in the past, and before [this] day you even had not heard of them, lest you should say, “Look! I knew them.”

Septuagint: Now it is occurring and not earlier, and in former days you did not hear of them. Do not say, “Yes, I know them.”


At that time and not earlier, the foretold events would be “created.” Their taking place would be according to YHWH’s purpose and thus he could be understood as bringing them into being. Before the fulfillment, the Israelites had not heard about the events. This could mean that they failed to pay attention to the proclamations of the prophets. So, at the time of the fulfillment, they would not be able to say that they already knew what would happen. According to the Septuagint rendering, their not “hearing” is the reason they should not say, “Yes, I know them.”

48:8. Masoretic Text: Yes, you have not heard; yes, you have not known; yes, in the past, your ear has not been opened. For I knew [that] treacherously dealing, you would deal treacherously, and one rebelling from the womb you have been called.

Septuagint: Neither have you known, neither have you understood, neither have I opened your ears from the beginning. For I knew that rejecting, you would reject, and even from the womb you would be called lawless.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the first word is the conjunction “and.” The wording of this scroll about opening or uncovering the ear could be rendered, “did you open your ear.” The word “that” (which has been added for the translation of the Masoretic Text) is in the scroll. Additionally, this scroll has a different form of the verb for “call” (“they would call”).

The Targum of Isaiah indicates that Israel did not listen “to the words of the prophets.” Israel’s not knowing is represented as not accepting the “instruction of the law.” The people did not incline their ears to accept “the words of the blessings and the curses” that were part of the covenant YHWH concluded with them.


The Israelites are here being censured for their failure to heed the word of YHWH through his prophets. They did not “hear,” listen, or pay any attention to what was proclaimed to them. Accordingly, they did not “know” what they should have known and so did not act in harmony with the prophetic word by changing their course of action to conform to God’s commands and thus to avoid experiencing the calamities that were foretold to befall them if they persisted in their rebellious ways. Their ears were not uncovered or open to hear with responsiveness the message the prophets proclaimed to them as the word of YHWH.

Their treacherous dealing or their stubborn rejection of the word of YHWH was of an extreme nature. This is highlighted by the repetition (“treacherously dealing, you would deal treacherously” [Hebrew text]; “rejecting, you would reject” [LXX]). The people broke faith with YHWH, disregarding his law. From the “womb” or from the very beginning of their history, they demonstrated themselves to be rebellious or “lawless” (LXX), repeatedly acting contrary to the law that had been given to them. Again and again, only a minority of the people chose to be loyally devoted to YHWH.

48:9. Masoretic Text: For the sake of my name I will postpone my anger; and for the sake of my praise I will restrain it for you so as not to cut you off.

Septuagint: For the sake of my name I will show you my anger and bring upon you my glorious acts in order that you may not be annihilated.


For their unfaithfulness, the Israelites merited severe punishment. YHWH, however, was patient with them, delaying the expression of his anger. He acted for the sake of his name so that reproach would not come upon him because other peoples would wrongly conclude that he could not aid or safeguard his people. In order that he would be praised or honored as the God who could deliver and protect his people, he restrained his wrath and did not permit them to be annihilated.

According to the Septuagint rendering, YHWH would show his anger, doing so for the sake of his name. This could indicate that he would reveal himself to be the God of justice who did not leave lawlessness unpunished indefinitely. The “glorious things” could designate the deliverance and the associated blessings that the repentant Israelites would experience, preserving them from being destroyed.

48:10. Masoretic Text: Look! I have refined you and not like [one would] silver. I have examined [bachár] you in the furnace of poverty.

Septuagint: Look! I have sold you, not for silver, but I have taken you out of the furnace of poverty.

The usual meaning of the Hebrew verb bachár is “choose,” but it has also been defined as “examine.” In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the verb is bachán, which denotes “test” or “try.”


By the adverse judgments that YHWH permitted to befall the Israelites, he subjected them to a refining process. In the case of silver, refining would produce pure silver. The thought may be that the refining of Israel, however, would not result in their coming to be a pure people. Another possible meaning could be that the severity of the refining was not like that used to produce pure silver. According to the Septuagint rendering, YHWH sold his people, letting them be conquered and taken into exile. For this “sale,” he did not receive any payment, no silver.

For one to be in a state of poverty would denote that one would be in an afflicted state. Like metal in a furnace, YHWH “examined” Israel or put the people to a test as to their true nature. According to the Septuagint rendering, he took them out of the “furnace of poverty” or from a state of great affliction like that of a person who is destitute. The first time YHWH freed his people from the “furnace of poverty” or “affliction,” was when he effected their release from Egyptian enslavement in the time of Moses. The oppression they endured in Egypt was comparable to being tormented in the flames of a furnace.

48:11. Masoretic Text: For my sake, for my sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.

Septuagint: For my sake I will do [it] to you because my name is being profaned, and my glory I will not give to another.

The reading of the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) could be understood to mean, How could YHWH possibly allow himself to be profaned (“how can I be profaned”)?


The initial repetition in the Hebrew text serves to emphasize that the way YHWH dealt with the Israelites was for his own sake. He would not let them be annihilated and have the people of other nations profane his “name” by wrongly concluding that he could not help and safeguard his own people. YHWH is represented as declaring his purpose to preserve his glory or honor, not allowing it to be given to anyone else. If his actions suggested any failure on his part, the glory or honor belonging to him alone would no longer be his and, from this standpoint, would be as if it had been given to someone else. The Septuagint rendering identifies the reason for the action God took to be that his “name,” or he himself, was being profaned.

48:12. Masoretic Text: Listen to me, Jacob, and Israel, whom I have called. I [am] he. I [am] first; also I [am] last.

Septuagint: Listen to me, Jacob, and Israel, whom I call. I am first and I am forever [literally, “into the age”].

The opening words in the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah may be rendered, “Hear these things.”

The Targum of Isaiah represents YHWH as declaring that the eternal ages belong to him and that besides him there is no god.


“Jacob” and “Israel” are parallel designations referring to the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob whose name was changed to Israel after he wrestled with an angel. (Genesis 32:24-28) The people are here called upon to listen to the word of YHWH proclaimed through his prophet. YHWH had “called” Israel to be his people, and they should have been exclusively devoted to him. He is represented as identifying himself with the words “I [am] he,” revealing that he alone is God. As the Eternal One, he is first, without any beginning, existing at the very start. He is also “last,” indicating that he will continue to be God in the ages to come. For all time to come, never will there be another god like he is.

48:13. Masoretic Text: Also my hand founded the earth and my right hand spread out the heavens. I call to them; they stand together.

Septuagint: And my hand founded the earth, and my right hand made the heavens firm. I will call them, and they will stand together.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the conjunction “and” precedes the phrase about standing.


YHWH is represented as identifying himself as the Creator, the Founder of the earth, the One who brought the land into existence. As the celestial vault appears as though it has been stretched out or spread out from horizon to horizon, he is portrayed as saying that he “spread out the heavens.”

Translators have interpretively rendered the concluding part of this verse in a variety of ways. YHWH’s call is represented as bringing the earth and the heavens into existence. “When I summoned them, they came at once into being.” (REB) The response of the earth and the heavens to his call is that they take their stand, ready to serve him. “They obey my every command.” (CEV)

Possibly, the focus here is on the “heavens” (plural) — the celestial dome with its sun, moon and stars. (Compare Psalm 19:1-6.) As the heavenly bodies make their appearance, it is as if they are responding to being called. If this is the meaning, the thought would be similar to the words of Isaiah 45:12, where YHWH is represented as commanding all the “host of heaven” or the “stars” (LXX), and Isaiah 40:26, where he is spoken of as calling the “host” by name.

The Septuagint rendering continues the thought in the next verse, and the calling appears to be directed to the earth and heaven for a universal gathering, which would include all those in heaven and on earth. This may be the preferable sense, also having the support of the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), which does not start the words of verse 14 with an imperative. In the Tanakh, the link to the next verse is made clear with a section break after “skies” (heavens). The other section then begins with the words, “I call unto them, let them stand up. Assemble, all of you, and listen!”

48:14. Masoretic Text: Assemble, all of you, and hear. Who among them has announced these things? YHWH loves him. He will carry out his delight against Babylon, and his arm will be against the Chaldeans.

Septuagint: And all will be assembled and hear. Who has announced these things to them? Loving you, I carried out your desire against Babylon to remove the seed of the Chaldeans.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) opens with the words that may be translated, “Let all of them assemble and hear.” In this scroll, the verb form for “announce” may be translated “could announce.”


All those who are called upon to assemble are challenged to answer the question about who has foretold future events. The identity of the ones addressed depends upon whether there is a direct connection to the previous sentence or not. The question could be addressed either to all in heaven and on earth or, if not a universal gathering, to Israel (as in verse 1). In view of the declaration that identified YHWH as the true God (verse 12), the words “among them” may be understood to refer to the deities represented by lifeless images. So the challenging question would be, Who among the deities has announced these things? Not a one among among them had made known in advance the significant events that YHWH had revealed through his prophets.

The one whom YHWH loves is not identified. According to the interpretation in the Targum of Isaiah, Israel is the object of his love. This would fit the rendering of the Septuagint, for Israel would have wanted YHWH’s judgment expressed against Babylon, removing the “seed” or offspring of the Chaldean oppressors so that they could be free.

It is also possible to understand the text to refer to Cyrus. YHWH had singled out Cyrus to carry out his purpose to overthrow Babylon so that exiled Israelites would be able to return to their land. If the application is to Cyrus, then the reference to YHWH’s love for him would not be the kind that he had for his people, but it would be a kindly regard for him as his instrument for the accomplishment of his “delight,” purpose, or will. The “arm” of Cyrus, or his might, coupled with that of his military force, would be directed against the Chaldeans to bring about their defeat.

48:15. Masoretic Text: I, I, have spoken; also I have called him. I have brought him, and he will prosper in his way.

Septuagint: I have spoken; I have called. I brought him and prospered his way.

Instead of “I have called him,” the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah reads, “I have called him and …”

The Targum of Isaiah contains an interpretation that does not fit the context. YHWH is represented as making a covenant with Abraham and calling him. This Targum then continues, “I brought him into the land of the house of my Shekinah, and made his way prosperous.”


YHWH is identified as the one who has spoken, revealing his purpose respecting Cyrus. This assured that everything that YHWH had declared through his prophet would be fulfilled. YHWH had called Cyrus, summoning him in advance for his special purpose. The reference to bringing him and prospering his way could be understood to mean that YHWH would cause Cyrus to appear on the scene and would grant him success in the accomplishment of the previously declared purpose regarding Babylon.

48:16. Masoretic Text: Draw near to me. Hear this: From the beginning, I have not spoken in secret. I [have been] there from the time it came to be. And now the Lord YHWH has sent me and his spirit.

Septuagint: Draw near to me and hear these things. From the beginning I have not spoken in secret nor in a dark place of the earth. When it came to be, I was there, and now the Lord has sent me and his spirit.

Instead of “from the beginning,” the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) has the expression that can be translated “at the beginning.”

The Targum of Isaiah interprets the period involved as being from the time that the nations separated themselves from the fear of YHWH and from his bringing Abraham into his service.


In verse 15, the one represented as speaking is YHWH, and this also appears to be the case here in the first part of the verse. Those directed to make their approach apparently are the Israelites, for they alone would be a people who would have been aware of things YHWH had announced in advance through his prophets. The reason they were to make their approach was to listen to his message conveyed through his prophet.

YHWH had not spoken in secret. The “word” of YHWH, or his message through the prophets, was announced publicly in a manner that could be readily understood. Moreover, according to the rendering of the Septuagint, it had not been spoken “in a dark place of the earth,” not in some concealed location under the cover of darkness. The proclamation was for all, not just a select few. In this context, the prophetic word particularly related to YHWH’s use of Cyrus.

The expression about God’s being there could mean that he is actively involved in the developments from the time the prophetic word begins to be fulfilled. Other meanings are conveyed in the interpretive renderings of translations. “From the time anything existed, I was there.” (HCSB) “From the first time I said Cyrus was coming, I did not do it in secret. When he comes, I will be there.” (NIRV) The Septuagint rendering suggests that, when the prophetic word began to be fulfilled, YHWH was with his people. This could mean that he was guiding matters to fulfill his purpose respecting them, including their being released from Babylonian exile and returning to their land.

The prophet then refers to his commission. In the Targum of Isaiah, this is expressed explicitly, “The prophet says …” YHWH had sent him together with his spirit, and so the prophet spoke as one guided by God’s spirit and not of his own originality.

48:17. Masoretic Text: Thus says YHWH, the one redeeming you, the Holy One of Israel, “I [am] YHWH your God, the one teaching you to benefit yourself, the one leading you the way you should go.”

Septuagint: Thus says the Lord, the one redeeming you, the Holy One of Israel, “I am your God. I have pointed out to you [how] to find the way in which you should go.”


YHWH is represented as identifying himself as the one who redeems or rescues his people, which may refer to the deliverance that he brings about from all manner of distress, including exile from their land. He is the “Holy One of Israel,” the God who is pure in every respect and who can always be trusted.

Through his law and the proclamations of his prophets, YHWH taught Israel, and the teaching he thus provided, when followed, would have benefited them, enabling them to enjoy a state of security and well-being. Through this teaching, YHWH led the Israelites, making it possible for them to know the right course for them to pursue. According to the rendering of the Septuagint, he enabled them to find the way they should be following.

48:18. Masoretic Text: “O that you had given heed to my commandments, and your peace would have been like a river and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”

Septuagint: “And if you had given heed to my commandments, your peace would have become like a river and your righteousness like the wave of the sea.”

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, like the Septuagint, starts with the conjunction “and.”


If the Israelites had faithfully followed the commandments YHWH had given to them, including the admonition of his prophets, they would have been recipients of his protective care and blessing. He would not have permitted invading armies to devastate their land, and they would have enjoyed a state of superlative peace, well-being, or prosperity that would have been comparable to the abundant water flowing in a river. The harsh oppression and exploitation of the poor would not have existed as it did in the land, but all would have been treated justly, without partiality. Moreover, YHWH would have executed righteous judgments for them, delivering them from the foreign powers that were determined to subjugate them. Righteousness or justice would have existed among the people to such an extent that it could be likened to wave after wave rolling in from the sea. Additionally, they would have repeatedly experienced YHWH’s saving justice when they looked to him as their source of aid and deliverance when facing distress or threat.

48:19. Masoretic Text: “And your seed would have been like the sand and the issue of your inward parts like its grains. Their name would not be cut off and not destroyed from before me.”

Septuagint: “And your seed would have become like the sand, and the issue of your womb like the dust of the earth. Now neither will you by any means be annihilated; neither will your name be destroyed before me.”

The Hebrew and Greek words translated “issue” are plural.

The emphatic sense of the two Greek words for “not” is here preserved with the rendering “neither by any means.”

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, there is no reference to “your inward parts.”


Faithful adherence to YHWH’s commandments would have made it possible for the Israelites to enjoy a better state of health than did the people of other nations. (Compare Deuteronomy 7:12-15.) They would not have experienced the kind of infant and child mortality that existed in other lands, childbearing women would have been healthier, and the population would not have been decimated through foreign aggression. Accordingly, the “seed” or offspring of the Israelites would have been numerous, being likened to sand. The “issue” or children coming forth from the “inward parts” or the “womb” would have been many, like grains of sand. On account of YHWH’s protective care and the sound guidance he provided for them, the Israelites would continue to exist and flourish as a people. Their name, their existence as an identifiable people, would not end nor would they perish before the presence of their God as a people whom he considered to be his own.

These words reveal that the ideal that YHWH purposed for his people did not come to exist among the Israelites. The reason for this was their failure to conduct themselves in harmony with his commands. Instead of being a free and prosperous people enjoying YHWH’s blessing to the full, they repeatedly suffered, experienced devastation of their land through campaigns of conquest, and eventually found themselves as exiles in a foreign land.

48:20. Masoretic Text: Go out from Babylon; flee from Chaldea. Announce this with a shout of joy, let this be heard, send it forth to the end of the earth; say, “YHWH has redeemed his servant Jacob.”

Septuagint: Go out from Babylon, fleeing from the Chaldeans. Announce [it] with a sound of joy, and let this be heard. Proclaim [it] to the end of the earth; say, “The Lord has rescued his servant Jacob.”

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) contains the shorter phrase, “let this be heard to the ends [not ‘end’] of the earth.”


The prophetic imperative directs God’s exiled people to get out of Babylon, fleeing from the land of Chaldea, of which Babylon was the capital. The reference to fleeing suggests that those in Chaldea should hasten to make their departure as soon as the opportunity became available to them. Possibly Babylon may here also be understood as representative of the enemy power from which YHWH would deliver his people.

The liberation that YHWH would effect is something that deserved to be made known with accompanying joy and needed to be heard far and wide. The proclamation should reach the end or most distant part of the earth. YHWH’s servant is Jacob or Israel, the people whom he acknowledges as his own. No greater dignity could there be than having God’s recognition as being in a relationship with him as an honored servant. YHWH’s redemption or deliverance of his servant is the message that would need to be declared. As part of a restoration prophecy, these words could even point forward to the deliverance from sin that God purposed to effect through his Son. (Compare John 8:28-36.)

48:21. Masoretic Text: And they did not thirst when he led them through the deserts. He made water flow for them from a rock. He split a rock and water gushed forth.

Septuagint: And when they thirst, he will lead them through the desert. He will cause water to go forth for them from a rock. A rock will be split and water will flow, and my people will drink.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) says that “he led him,” not “he led them.”


In the Septuagint, the verbs are future tense. On this basis, YHWH may be understood as caring for his people as he did after the Israelites left Egypt and wandered through the wilderness. According to the accounts in Exodus and Numbers, YHWH did provide water for the people from a rock or crag on two occasions. (Exodus 17:1-6; Numbers 20:2-11) Water gushed forth in such abundance that the people and their animals had ample water to drink. Because of what YHWH did, the people did not continue to thirst for water during their journey through the desert. The reading of the Septuagint indicates that God led his people through the desert at times when they did thirst, but he supplied them with water for drinking from a rock.

48:22. Masoretic Text: “[There is] no peace,” says YHWH, “for the wicked.”

Septuagint: “[There] is no rejoicing for the impious,” says the Lord.

The “wicked” or “impious” are those who defiantly disregard YHWH’s commands. For them, there will be no peace, no condition of well-being. As individuals who reject God’s guidance, they remain in a state of alienation from him. Without being reconciled to YHWH, they cannot be at peace with him and enjoy his help, favor, and blessing. These godless ones, as the Septuagint rendering indicates, have no basis for rejoicing, for they will not experience the joy that is the possession of those who are devoted to YHWH.