Isaiah 25:1-12

Submitted by admin on Wed, 2012-03-07 21:10.

Posted in | printer-friendly version »

25:1. Masoretic Text: YHWH, my God, I will exalt you. I will praise your name, for you have done the extraordinary, counsels of old, [in] faithfulness [and] truth.

Septuagint: O Lord, my God, I will glorify you. I will sing praise to your name, for you have done wondrous deeds — ancient, trustworthy counsel. So be it, Lord.

The Targum of Isaiah speaks of God’s counsels or his predetermined purposes then having been “brought and established,” indicating that he had fulfilled his promises.


Revealing his close relationship to YHWH, Isaiah acknowledged him as his God. To exalt YHWH would signify to elevate him in the eyes of others, honoring him in attitude, word, and deed. The prophet determined to praise God’s name, indicating that he would laud the bearer of the name for the amazing deeds he had performed. The expression here rendered “the extraordinary” is apparently a collective singular and applies to all the things God has done, things that give rise to great wonderment.

One of the astonishing deeds in the past proved to be YHWH’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian enslavement. In “faithfulness and truth,” YHWH carried out his counsel or his purpose that he had anciently determined upon. He thus demonstrated his purpose to be faithful, dependable, or reliable, and true, sure, or certain to become reality. The Septuagint concludes with an expression meaning “so be it, Lord.” Seemingly, this is a prayerful expression for all that God had counseled or purposed to be fulfilled.

25:2. Masoretic Text: For you have made a city into a heap, a fortified city into a ruin, a stronghold of foreigners [no longer to be] a city. For limitless time it will not be rebuilt.

Septuagint: For you have made cites into a mound, fortified cities to fall to their foundations. The city of the impious will by no means evermore be rebuilt.

In the Septuagint, two words for “not” are found, intensifying the “not.” To convey this aspect, they are here rendered “by no means.”

The Targum of Isaiah says that a “temple of the nations” (an idol temple) would never be built in Jerusalem.


In the Hebrew text, the words rendered “city and “fortified city” may be understood as collective singulars, which has the support of the Septuagint rendering “cities” and “fortified cities.” As his purpose came to be carried out in expression of his adverse judgment, YHWH is represented as revealing his power and authority as Sovereign. He did so by reducing towns and fortified cities to piles of rubble. So thorough was the destruction that a walled city of foreigners ceased to exist as a city, never to be rebuilt.

The Septuagint rendering conveys the same basic meaning when depicting fortified cities as being razed to their foundations and referring to a “stronghold of foreigners” as the “city of the impious” or ungodly.

25:3. Masoretic Text: Therefore, strong people will glorify you, a city of terror-inducing nations will fear you.

Septuagint: Therefore, the poor people will laud you, and the cities of men being wronged will laud you.


The display of God’s power would prompt even a strong people, apparently a nation in possession of great military might, to glorify him, acknowledging him as the God without equal. Also nations that had terrorized other peoples with their aggressive warfare would come to be in fear of him, recognizing that adverse judgment could be expressed against them.

In the Septuagint, the poor or lowly people who were often the victims of oppression are the ones depicted as praising God on account of deliverance from distress. Likewise, the populace of cities that had been wronged or dealt with oppressively would laud him, appreciating their having been liberated from unjust treatment.

25:4. Masoretic Text: For you have been a stronghold for the poor one, a stronghold for the needy one in his distress; a shelter from storm, a shadow from heat. For the blast of the terror-inducing one [was] like a storm [against] a wall.

Septuagint: For you have become a helper to every lowly city and a shelter for those who are dispirited on account of need. You will rescue them from evil men. [You will provide] shelter for those thirsting and spirit to those being treated unjustly.

For the most part, the Targum of Isaiah follows the Hebrew text, but adds an additional thought at the end, referring to the “words of the wicked” directed to the “righteous” as being like a “rainstorm that beats against a wall.”


When effecting deliverance from affliction, YHWH proved to be a protective stronghold for the poor, the disadvantaged ones, or the needy in their distress. He was like a shelter from a drenching storm and the welcome shade that provides relief from the sun’s intense rays. To those suffering, the people that filled others with terror had been like a violent storm beating against a wall.

In the Septuagint, the portrayal of relief differs, but the message is the same. God is the one who revealed himself to be a helper of “every lowly city,” every city that proved to be no match for strong invading armies. He came to the aid of those who were downcast because of being in need and completely helpless when having to endure affliction at the hands of strong oppressors. For those thirsting on account of unfavorable circumstances, God provided shelter. Those who had been treated unjustly would have been disheartened, but the Almighty infused them with “spirit,” bringing refreshment to them and thus enlivening them. A new invigorating principle began working within them, lifting them out of their despondent state.

25:5. Masoretic Text: Like heat in an arid place, you subdue the noise of foreigners, the heat with the shadow of a cloud. The song of terror-inducing ones is stilled.

Septuagint: They will laud you like disheartened men thirsting in Zion because of impious men to whom you have given us over.

Depending on the punctuation that is chosen, the relationship of the phrases differs, as does the resulting meaning of the text. This is evident from the various renderings of part of verse 4 and all of verse 5 found in modern translations. “When the fury of tyrants was like a winter rainstorm, the rage of strangers like heat in the desert, you subdued the heat with the shade of clouds, the singing of the tyrants was vanquished.” (Tanakh) “For the breath of the pitiless is like a winter storm. Like heat in a dry land you calm the foreigners’ tumult; as heat under the shadow of a cloud, so the song of the pitiless dies away.” (NJB) “For the blast of the ruthless is like an icy storm or a scorching drought; you subdue the roar of the foe, and the song of the ruthless dies away.” (REB) “As with the cold rain, as with the desert heat, even so you quell the uproar of the wanton.” (NAB)


The shadow that a cloud casts can provide welcome relief from the intense heat in an arid place or a desert. As the shadow of a cloud can reduce the impact of the heat, so YHWH subdues the “noise of foreigners.” That noise is doubtless the tumult of invading armies, which dies down when the warriors fail to attain their objective or suffer defeat. Those who filled others with terror were the proud oppressors. YHWH stills their triumphant song when he does not permit them to be victorious.

The Septuagint text could be understood to mean that when they experience relief, the disheartened ones would laud God. Their “thirsting in Zion” may point to their desperate condition of distress because of being the victims of godless ones into whose hands God had permitted them to fall.

25:6. Masoretic Text: And YHWH of hosts will make a banquet on this mountain for all the people, a banquet of fat things, a banquet of aged wines, of fat things [flavored with] marrow, of filtered aged wines.

Septuagint: And the Lord Sabaoth will prepare for all the nations on this mountain. They will drink rejoicing; they will drink wine, and they will anoint [themselves] with ointment.

“Sabaoth” is a transliteration of the Hebrew word meaning “hosts” or “armies,” and identifies YHWH as the one with hosts of angels in his service.

The Targum of Isaiah reflects the very negative attitude toward non-Jews that existed among Jews at the time this Targum originated. When referring to the banquet, the Targum represents people of the nations as imagining that it would be served for their honor but that it would actually be for their shame. They would experience plagues from which they would be unable to escape, leading to their perishing.


“This mountain” designates Mount Zion, the location of YHWH’s temple and, therefore, his representative place of dwelling. Accordingly, divine blessings are prophetically spoken of as coming from there. This is why YHWH is portrayed as making the banquet for all the people on “this mountain.”

The “fat things” may be understood to mean choice meat dishes, with bone marrow probably being added for additional flavor. In the Hebrew text, the word shemarím (the plural of shémer) has been defined as “lees” or “dregs.” By extension and on the basis of the context, shemarím may here denote wine that is aged by being left on the lees and is later filtered to strain out the dregs.

The imagery is of a sumptuous feast that YHWH prepares for all the peoples. Like the Hebrew text, the Septuagint rendering conveys a positive development for peoples of all the nations, with an emphasis on their rejoicing over the banquet of food and drink God would prepare for them. Additionally, the mention of the anointing with perfumed ointment highlights the festive nature of the banquet. This banquet represents the abundant blessings that YHWH would bestow on peoples of the non-Jewish nations.

25:7. Masoretic Text: And on this mountain he will swallow up the shroud [literally, “face of the covering] that enshrouds all the peoples and the woven covering that is twined over all the nations.

Septuagint: On this mountain, deliver all these things to the nations, for this [is] the counsel for all the nations.

According to the Septuagint, the thought appears to be that God’s counsel or purpose for all the nations is that they might share in the blessings enumerated in the previous verse. These blessings seemingly are the things to be delivered or given to them.

The Targum of Isaiah continues with a negative message, referring to the destruction of the mighty one, the ruler over all nations, and the king who reigns over all kingdoms.


YHWH’s swallowing up the shroud indicates that he would be destroying it. In view of the reference to the swallowing up of death in the next verse, possibly this shroud or the covering that rests on all the peoples is human sinfulness, which leads to death and prevents people from having a clear vision of God. Sin obscures their understanding and stands in the way of their coming to have an approved relationship with him. (Compare 2 Corinthians 3:14; 4:3, 4.) Accordingly, the removal of the shroud or the covering that entangles humans could signify the end of their state of alienation from God.

25:8. Masoretic Text: He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord YHWH will wipe [every] tear from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for YHWH has spoken.

Septuagint: Death, having been strong, swallowed them up, and God has again taken away every tear from every face. The reproach of the people he has taken away from all the earth, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.


YHWH is the one who will bring death to an end. He will cause it to vanish, as if swallowing it up, never for it to be seen again. YHWH will remove all causes for shedding tears of sadness and bitterness, thus tenderly wiping them away from all faces. He will completely take away the reproach, disgrace, or dishonor that his people had experienced in the past. This is his declared purpose, assuring its certain fulfillment.

The Septuagint rendering does not portray death as being swallowed up, but as the strong agent that swallows up people. Nevertheless, God is the one who brings comfort, wiping away the tears of grief from all faces.

25:9. Masoretic Text: And one will say in that day, “Look! This [is] our God. We have waited for him and he will save us. This [is] YHWH. We have waited for him. Let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

Septuagint: And they will say in that day, “Look! Our God upon whom we were hoping and rejoicing, and we will jubilate over our salvation.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah starts this verse with the words, “And you will say.” After the Hebrew word for “look” or “see,” this scroll says, “YHWH — this [is] our God.”


Filled with deep appreciation for what God has done for them, his people would acknowledge YHWH as their God. They had waited for him or looked to him with hope to bring them relief from distress, confident that he would be able to save or deliver them. Upon experiencing the hoped-for deliverance, they would be able to be joyful and rejoice in it.

25:10. Masoretic Text: For the hand of YHWH will come to rest on this mountain. And Moab will be trampled down in his place like a pile of straw in a dung heap.

Septuagint: For God will give rest on this mountain. And Moabitis [Moab] will be trampled down in the manner they trample a threshing floor with wagons.


YHWH’s protective hand would come upon Mount Zion, assuring his people that they would continue to enjoy security and well-being. Moab (probably representative of all enemy powers that had ranged themselves up against God’s people) would be humiliated. The disgraceful end is represented by the act of trampling straw in a pile of dung. In the Septuagint, the trampling is likened to rolling wagon wheels over stalks of grain on a threshing floor.

25:11. Masoretic Text: And he will stretch out his hands in the midst of it like a swimmer stretches out [his hands] to swim, and he will bring down his arrogance along with the [nimble] movements of his hands.

Septuagint: And he will throw out his hands in the manner that he also humbled to destroy. And he will humble his arrogance, things on which he put his hands.


In the phrase, “in the midst of it,” the Hebrew suffix rendered “it” is masculine gender, and the nearest antecedent in the masculine gender is “place” (verse 9). So the reference may be to the “place” where Moab is depicted as being trampled down. Possibly the imagery is that of Moab struggling to get free, forcefully moving his hands and arms as does a swimmer. Despite all these efforts, the Moabites are humiliated, and no action on their part succeeds in extricating themselves from the distressing circumstances. In their rendering, a number of translations make this significance explicit. “They [the Moabites] will struggle to get out, but God will humiliate them no matter how hard they try.” (CEV) “They will try to swim their way out of it. They will spread their hands out in it, just as a swimmer spreads his hands out to swim. But God will bring down Moab’s pride. None of their skill will help them.” (NIRV)

The Targum of Isaiah represents God as spreading forth his might to strike among the Moabites. A number of modern translations likewise apply the verse to God’s action. “Then He will spread out His hands in their homeland, as a swimmer spreads his hands out to swim, and He will humble their pride along with the emblems of their power.” (Tanakh) “He will stretch forth his hands in Moab as a swimmer extends his hands to swim; he will bring low their pride as his hands sweep over them.” (NAB)

Like the Hebrew text, the reading of the Septuagint is somewhat obscure. Possibly Moab is being portrayed as reaching out with the hands as when attacking other peoples, humbling them by bringing them to their ruin. Then God would be the one who debases the arrogance of Moab, bringing to naught the “things” or undertakings to which the Moabites had put their hands.

25:12. Masoretic Text: And the fortification, the height of your walls, he will bring down, abase, cast to the earth, even to the dust.

Septuagint: And he will bring down the height of the refuge of your wall, and he will bring it down to the ground.


YHWH is the one razing Moab’s lofty fortification, bringing it down to the level of the ground. The fortification would provide no place of refuge. What had once been high and seemingly strong would end up lying as rubble in the dust. Again this serves to portray the debasement or humiliation of Moab.