Isaiah 57:1-21

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57:1. Masoretic Text: The righteous one has perished, and no man takes [it] to heart. And men of kindness [chésed] are taken away, while no one is discerning that the righteous one is taken away from calamity.

Septuagint: See how the righteous one has perished, and no one takes [it] to heart, and righteous men are taken away, and no one is taking notice, for the righteous one has been taken away from the face of injustice.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the conjunction “and” appears at the beginning of the verse, linking it with the words that precede and thus serving to show a contrast between the corrupt shepherds and the upright person. Another difference in the reading of this scroll is the participial form of the word for “perish,” which may be rendered “is perishing.”

According to the Targum of Isaiah, no man took the fear of God to heart when the righteous died.


It appears that the death of the righteous person mentioned here is of an untimely nature. People generally, however, gave no thought to what it might mean or what effect it should have on them. It was not something to which anyone gave heartfelt consideration.

The Hebrew word chésed signifies graciousness, enduring loyalty, steadfast love, and mercy. It is a compassionate care and loving concern that expresses itself in action. Men who are so described would be compassionate persons who respond kindly to those in need and are willing and eager to render aid. Such good men were being swept away from the land of the living. In view of the prevailing lawlessness among the people and the leaders, no one discerned that it may actually have been better for kindly persons to be removed from the earthly scene. By their death, they would escape the calamity that was destined to come on account of the God-dishonoring conduct of the people and their leaders. According to the Septuagint rendering, the righteous one would be taken away from the “face” or the presence of injustice. Upright ones would thus be delivered from an environment where wrongdoing proved to be the norm.

The case of Abijah the son of Jeroboam, the first monarch of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel, illustrates how an untimely death proved to be preferable to having lived longer. All the subjects of Jeroboam mourned the death of Abijah, and the son received an honorable burial. According to the biblical record, this was because Abijah was the only one in Jeroboam’s family in whom YHWH found something good. He escaped the calamity that befell the family of Jeroboam during the brief reign of his son Nadab. Baasha assassinated Nadab, seized the kingship, and then slaughtered every member of the house of Jeroboam. (1 Kings 14:5-13; 15:25-30)

57:2. Masoretic Text: He enters into peace. They rest on their beds, [each one who was] walking uprightly.

Septuagint: In peace will be his burial. He has been taken from the midst [of injustice].

According to the Targum of Isaiah, the ones referred to as resting on their beds are those who observe God’s law.


At death, the upright one enters into peace, being thus liberated from all the distressing circumstances that lawlessness produces. In the grave, those who had conducted themselves uprightly lie as persons peacefully asleep on their beds.

The Septuagint rendering suggests that the upright person would have a proper burial. It would be in peace, not at a time of mass slaughter as in war when carcasses might be left lying on the ground, exposed to the elements and as food for scavenger birds and beasts. Through his death, the upright person would have been taken from the midst of injustice or from the midst of a corrupt people.

57:3. Masoretic Text: And you, approach here, you sons of a sorceress, seed of an adulterer and a prostitute.

Septuagint: But you, approach here, you lawless sons, seed of adulterers and of a prostitute.

The Hebrew word here translated “adulterer” is a participle, and the word rendered “prostitute” is a verb (“she will prostitute herself,” or “she is prostituting herself”).

The Targum of Isaiah identifies those being addressed as “people of a generation whose deeds are evil.” Although having come from a “holy planting,” “they are adulterers and fornicators.”


The lawless Israelites are called upon to approach so that they might hear the words of YHWH in expression of his judgment against them. As “sons of a sorceress,” they participated in idolatry and associated occult arts. The reference to being “sons” may call attention to the fact that they were even worse than the “sorceress” who was the mother who had taught them. According to the Septuagint rendering, they were “lawless sons,” persons who disregarded God’s commands.

Violation of their covenant obligations to YHWH to whom the Israelites were bound as a wife to her husband constituted adultery or prostitution. As persons revealed to have originated from a defiled source (the “seed” of an adulterer and a prostitute), they are identified as persons guilty of adultery and prostitution. They were disloyal to YHWH. Moreover, when venerating other deities, they even engaged in ceremonial prostitution.

57:4. Masoretic Text: Of whom are you making mockery? Against whom do you open wide the mouth [and] stick out your tongue? Are you not children of transgression, a seed of deception, …?

Septuagint: In what have you reveled [entrypháo]? And against whom have you opened your mouth? And against whom have you let loose your tongue? Are you not children of destruction, a lawless seed, …?

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the conjunction “and” precedes the question about opening the mouth and sticking out the tongue.

The Targum of Isaiah appears to represent the mouth as being opened in order to speak, for the words that follow refer to multiplying arrogant speech.

The last question continues in verse 5.


Verse 6 and verses 11 through 13 represent YHWH as expressing his disapproval of the wayward people. On this basis, one may rightly conclude that the answer to the first two rhetorical questions is that YHWH is the one against whom the contemptuous gestures are directed. When flagrantly disregarding his commands and engaging in abominable idolatrous practices, the Israelites mocked YHWH, acting as if he could not accomplish what the deities whom they revered could do for them. The disgusting form of idolatry was comparable to their making a face with open mouth and sticking out the tongue.

In the Septuagint, the Greek word entrypháo can mean “revel in,” “delight in,”or “exult over.” The answer to the rhetorical question could be that they reveled in or delighted in idolatrous practices. If, on the other hand, the meaning is “exult over,” the answer could be that, by venerating idols, they made light of YHWH. The Septuagint rendering suggests that the words proceeding from their opened mouth were directed against God. The people let loose their tongue in speaking against him.

As “children of transgression,” the Israelites acted as persons who were in the habit of disregarding God’s commands. Being the “seed of deception,” they could not be trusted. To attain their objectives, they resorted to deceit and lying.

The Septuagint reading “children of destruction” could mean people who were destined for ruin on account of their lawless ways. As a “lawless seed,” the people ignored God’s commands.

57:5. Masoretic Text: the ones being inflamed among the [lofty] trees [’áyil] under every flourishing tree, slaying the children in the valleys under the clefts of the crags?

Septuagint: the ones calling upon the idols under bushy trees, slaughtering their children in the ravines between the crags?


There is uncertainty about the Hebrew word here translated “[lofty] trees.” The plural word in the text may be an alternative form of ’áyil, which designation is commonly understood to apply to a variety of large trees and has been rendered “oak” and “terebinth.”

While engaged in their abominable practices, the idolaters appear to have become aroused to a state of frenzy. In secluded areas overshadowed by tall trees with thick foliage and valleys or ravines from which crags rose, they performed their disgusting rites. In the clefts of the crags they slaughtered their own children, presenting them as sacrifices to the deities that the images at the idolatrous sites represented.

57:6. Masoretic Text: Among the smooth things of the valley [is] your portion; they, they [are] your lot. Also to them, you have poured out a libation. You have gone up [with] an offering. Will I be appeased with these things?

Septuagint: That [is] your portion; this [is] your lot. To them, you poured out libations. And to them, you brought up sacrifices. Over these things, therefore, should I not be wrathful?

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah appears to refer to the people as going to the valleys as their lot.


The second person singular expressions are feminine gender and may designate Jerusalem (as representing the Israelites of the two-tribe kingdom of Judah) or the people collectively. In this context, the people are portrayed as being like a woman who has been unfaithful to YHWH.

There is uncertainty about the significance of the Hebrew expression here rendered “smooth things.” The valleys could designate stream beds that are dry during the summer months, and the “smooth things” could then be stones that have become smooth from water flowing over them. From these smooth stones, artisans may have fashioned representations of deities. “You have chosen some of the smooth stones in the valleys to be your gods.” (NIRV) “You have chosen to worship idols made of stone.” (CEV)

The Hebrew words for “smooth” or “slippery” and “smoothness” can also describe that which is seductive or deceitful. (Proverbs 2:16; 7:5, 21; Hosea 10:2) This has given rise to the view that the reference here is to deceitful or false deities that the people worshiped at cultic sites located in the valleys, ravines, or wadis. “And you, woman, your place is with the deceitful gods of the wadi.” (REB)

Based on the context, the words are definitely associated with idolatrous practices. Instead of YHWH being the portion or share of the people, or the God to whom they were devoted and to whom they looked for aid, guidance, and protective care, their portion proved to be smooth things, either representations of nonexistent deities or gods fashioned from smooth stones. The thought is then expressed in an emphatic way, “They, they [the smooth things] [are] your lot.”

The Septuagint rendering includes no reference to “smooth things.” It may be understood to mean that the abominable idolatrous practices, including child sacrifice, constituted the portion of the unfaithful people.

To these “smooth things,” the people poured out drink offerings and went up to the altars to present sacrifices. This was an affront to YHWH. The unmistakable answer to the rhetorical question is that he would not be appeased or pacified by the things the people were doing but would be aroused to anger (LXX) on account of their unfaithfulness to him.

57:7. Masoretic Text: Upon a high and lofty mountain, you have set your bed, and there you went up to offer sacrifice.

Septuagint: Upon a high and lofty mountain — there [is] your bed, and there you brought up sacrifices.

Instead of a “bed,” the Targum of Isaiah mentions a “dwelling place.”


Sites for idolatrous practices often were established on hills and mountains. The setting of the bed may refer to engaging in ceremonial prostitution. (Compare Hosea 4:13, 14; Amos 2:7, 8.) Besides participating in abominable rites, the people went up to these locations to offer sacrifices on the altars there.

In the denunciations of the prophets, idolatry is often portrayed as harlotry, for it was unfaithfulness to YHWH to whom the Israelites, by reason of the law covenant, were bound as is a wife to her husband. Therefore, it is also possible that the setting up of the bed alludes to this aspect.

57:8. Masoretic Text: And behind the door and the doorpost, you have set up your memorial. For away from me, you have uncovered [yourself], and you have gone up [to it]. You have widened your bed and have cut [a covenant] for yourself with them. You have loved their bed. You have looked at the hand.

Septuagint: And behind the doorposts of your door, you have set your memorials. You thought that if you should separate yourself from me, you would have something more. You have loved the ones going to bed with you.


Possibly the location behind the door and the doorpost or behind the doorposts of the door (LXX) is one inside a house or a shrine. The “memorial” (“memorials,” LXX) may denote the representation of a deity, with the idol being the object that serves to bring this deity to remembrance. There is uncertainty about the Hebrew expression here translated “away from me.” It could signify that the people, represented as a prostitute or an adulteress, had turned away from YHWH to engage in whoredom, that is, in idolatry. The idolaters were like a prostitute who uncovers herself or strips off her clothing to prepare herself for intercourse. It appears that the bed may be considered to be the object of the going up. This bed is widened or made ready for the sexual activity, which is representative of idolatry.

There is no object for the Hebrew word here rendered “cut.” When concluding a covenant, animal victims were cut, and so the reference may be to the making of a covenant or entering into an agreement. Upon becoming unfaithful to YHWH, the Israelites violated their covenant relationship with him that bound them as a wife is bound to her husband. They then entered into a relationship with false gods, and this may be represented as making a pact with them.

Their attachment to idolatry appears to be likened to the love or fondness a prostitute or an adulterous woman has for the bed of her paramours. In this context, the Hebrew word for “hand” apparently denotes the male organ.

It is possible that the application is not limited to idolatry, for making alliances with other nations is also portrayed as whoredom. Such alliances were an expression of unfaithfulness to YHWH, as they revealed that the people did not rely on him for their security and believed that he could not protect them from military threats. (Compare Ezekiel 23:2-49.)

According to the Septuagint rendering, the people believed that, by turning away from God and pursuing idols or forming alliances with foreign powers, they would have “something more” or would derive greater benefit than if they remained loyal to him. Their venerating false gods, or allying themselves with foreign nations, is represented as loving to sleep with them as would a prostitute or an adulteress with her lovers.

57:9. Masoretic Text: And you traveled to Melech with oil and increased your ointments. You sent your elders far off and caused a debasing down to Sheol.

Septuagint: And you increased your whoredom with them, and you have made many the ones far off from you and sent elders over your borders and turned away and were debased to Hades.

The Targum of Isaiah presents an interpretation that does not fit the context. “When you observed the law, you prospered in your kingdom. And when you multiplied good works, your armies were increased, and you sent your envoys far off and abased the mighty ones of the peoples even to Sheol.”


The Hebrew designation “Melech” or “Molech” can either refer to a deity or to a “king.” Translations vary considerably in the way their renderings interpret the Hebrew text.

The words have been represented as relating entirely to the use and procurement of oil and perfumed ointments. “You drenched your tresses with oil, were lavish in your use of perfumes; you sent out your procurers far and wide even down to the confines of Sheol.” (REB)

When understood to relate to the deity Molech, the verse could be understood to represent the Israelites as a prostitute or an adulteress who applies oil and perfumed ointments to herself and then goes to a cultic site where Molech is revered. “You smear on olive oil and all kinds of perfume to worship the god Molech.” (CEV) “You use your oils and perfumes to look nice for Molech.” (NCV)

Another possible meaning is that the oil and the perfumed ointment were presented to the god Molech as an offering. “You have given olive oil and perfume to Molech as your gift.” (NLT) “You went to the god Molech with olive oil. You took a lot of perfume along with you.” (NIRV)

If the reference is to a “king,” the oil and perfumed ointments may be what the Israelite “elders,” envoys, or ambassadors took along as a gift for the monarch of a foreign country when seeking to form an alliance. “You have traveled to the king with oil and much perfume.” (NLB)

The sending of the elders, envoys, or ambassadors definitely applies to efforts to form alliances with other nations to secure military aid. It appears that the lengths to which the leaders of the people were willing to go to form alliances is likened to their sending down to the lowest place possible — Sheol or the realm of the dead.

In the Septuagint, there is no mention of either a king or the deity Molech. “Whoredom” may be understood to apply to the making of alliances with foreign powers. The making of many that were far off seems to relate to increasing the number of powers in distant lands with whom alliances were formed. When seeking alliances with foreign nations, the responsible Israelite leaders turned away from God and sank to the lowest level possible in their efforts to counter military threats.

57:10. Masoretic Text: You were wearied by the greatness of your journey, but you did not say, “It is hopeless.” You have found life for your strength [literally, “hand”], and so you were not faint.

Septuagint: You wearied yourself in your many ways, and you did not say, “I will cease acquiring strength.” Because you practiced these things, therefore you did not make supplication to me.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the word here translated “journey” is plural.

After mentioning the point about being wearied, the Targum of Isaiah represents the unfaithful “woman” (the people and their leaders) as not speaking about returning to God. This failure is attributed to the woman’s having increased great riches.


It may be that the greatness of the journey or the way applies to the long distance the envoys had to travel and the hazards they faced to reach the leaders of other nations for the purpose of concluding a covenant with them. (Compare Isaiah 30:6, 7.) Another possibility is that the people and their leaders (the adulteress) tired themselves out in their involvement with idolatry. A number of translations make the link to idolatry explicit. “Though you tired yourself out by running after idols, you refused to stop.” (CEV) “You wear yourselves out looking for other gods, but you never give up.” (GNT, Second Edition)

It never occurred to the people and their leaders that all their exertions involving idolatry or the formation of military alliances with other nations did not benefit them. They never recognized that their tremendous effort had been put forth in vain nor did they acknowledge that it was hopeless or of no value. The people and their leaders (the adulteress) did not give up their senseless exertions. They deluded themselves into thinking that there would be good results, and so they found new strength to continue in their folly. Though seemingly exhausted, their strength for persisting in their futile efforts did not fail.

The Septuagint rendering could indicate that, although the people and the leaders (the unfaithful woman) had tired themselves out, they did not think that the time would come when they would be unable to strengthen themselves to persist in their own (not God’s) ways. Another possible meaning could be that they never considered stopping to use their strength in wrong ways, ways that only exhausted them. Having chosen ways contrary to God’s ways, the people and their leaders did not look to him for guidance and, therefore, did not pray to him.

57:11. Masoretic Text: And whom did you dread and fear that you lied? And you did not remember me. You did not lay [it] to your heart. Have I not been silent and for limitless time? And you do not fear me.

Septuagint: Whom did you dread and fear and you lied to me and did not remember me nor take me into your thought nor to your heart? And, seeing you, I do overlook, and me you did not fear.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the conjunction “and” precedes the phrase about laying it to heart. This scroll refers to the object for the laying to heart as being “these things,” which could include all the exertions of the people and their leaders and the futile results.


The reference to lying may be understood to mean that the people and their leaders (the unfaithful woman) had proved false to YHWH. Their idolatry and military alliances revealed that they did not hold him in awe and had no reverential fear or regard for him. They did not remember him in the sense that they did not look to him as the one who could help and protect them.

Failing to lay something to heart denotes refusing to give heartfelt consideration or serious thought to it. According to the Septuagint rendering, God is the one to whom no thought was given nor any heartfelt consideration granted.

For a long time, YHWH had been silent respecting the lawless ways of the people. Though seeing what they did, he did “overlook” (LXX) it, taking no action against his wayward people (the adulteress). He thus gave them a long time to repent and to return to him. They failed to recognize that his “silence” would end. Presuming that he would not act against them, they conducted themselves as persons having no fear of any future judgment for their corrupt course.

57:12. Masoretic Text: I will declare your righteousness and your deeds, and they will not benefit you.

Septuagint: And I will declare my righteousness and your evils, which will not benefit you.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) adds “your assemblages” (a form of the Hebrew word qevatsáh). The “assemblages” could be understood to designate the numerous idols.

According to the Targum of Isaiah, YHWH had made known the good deeds that would have been accounted as acts of righteousness but the people (the “adulteress”) increased in evil deeds that would not be of any benefit to them.


YHWH is represented as addressing the unfaithful Israelites as an adulteress. Having violated her covenant relationship with him through involvement with idolatry and foreign alliances, she had no righteous standing and her deeds were abominable. While the people and their leaders may have imagined themselves to be righteous and as having a record of meritorious deeds, YHWH’s announcement after having long been “silent” (verse 11) would not support this. Upon being called to account, the people would have nothing in the way of righteousness or good deeds that would benefit them or provide any basis for mitigating severe judgment.

According to the Septuagint rendering, God makes known his righteousness. In this context, this may be understood to mean that he would express his just judgment against the “adulteress,” the unfaithful people and their leaders. He would declare their evils, exposing their wrongdoing. This would not benefit them insofar as the execution of his judgment against them would be concerned.

57:13. Masoretic Text: When you cry out, let your assemblages deliver you, and a wind will carry all of them off. A puff will take them up. And the one taking refuge in me will possess the earth and will inherit my holy mountain.

Septuagint: When you cry out, let them deliver you in your distress. For a wind will seize all of these, and a windstorm will carry [them] away. And the ones adhering to me will possess the earth and will inherit my holy mountain.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the conjunction “and” precedes the phrase about a “puff.”

The Targum of Isaiah identifies what will be carried away as the “lying deeds” that had been busily practiced since the time of youth.


The “assemblages” may be the idols representing the deities that the people (the “adulteress”) had worshiped. When the people cry out in their distress at the time of judgment, there will be no deliverance. The idols would then prove to be like chaff that the wind carries away or like the particles of sand that a mere puff forms into a cloud of dust. All who remained loyal to YHWH, taking refuge in him or trusting him to aid and safeguard them, will be delivered. They are assured of continued life as possessors of the earth or the land. As his devoted worshipers, they would have a share in his holy mountain, being recognized by him as having a place at his sanctuary. When thus coming to inherit his holy mountain, they would be recipients of the blessings he grants to those whom he approves.

57:14. Masoretic Text: And it will be said, “Cast up, cast up. Prepare the way. Lift up from the way of my people [whatever causes] to stumble.”

Septuagint: And they will say, “Cleanse the ways before his face and lift up obstacles from the way of my people.”

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the object of the imperative to “cast up” is the “highway.”

The Targum of Isaiah interprets the preparing of the way and the removing of obstacles to require teaching and exhorting, turning “the heart of the people to the right way” and removing the “stumbling block of the wicked from the way of the congregation” of God’s people.


The Hebrew text does not identify the speaker, but a number of translators have added “the Lord” (CEV, GNT, REB, Tanakh). This addition does not have the support of the Septuagint, which reads, “And they will say.” There may be a reason that no speaker is mentioned, allowing for more than one application of the words. The same basic thought is expressed in verses 3 and 4 of chapter 40, where the reference is to a “voice” making the proclamation, and the fulfillment of the words is not limited to one development and one specific manner.

To “cast up” may be understood to mean to “even out,” leveling uneven places and smoothing out rough places. The way for God’s people is represented as being prepared by removing all obstacles that could cause stumbling or that would interfere with their journey.

Although severe judgment had been foretold to befall the unfaithful Israelites, the time would come when YHWH’s favorable attention would be directed to the repentant ones among them. This did happen when Cyrus, the conqueror of Babylon, issued a decree that made it possible for the people to return to their land and to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. This development was comparable to the preparing of a way that facilitated the return of the exiles.

With the coming of the promised Messiah or Christ, Jesus, a way opened up for repentant ones to return to God and to be reconciled to him as his children who had been forgiven of their sins.

The Septuagint rendering may be understood to mean that the ways before God’s “face,” before him, or before his presence, should be purified. This would be because he would be leading his people as by a highway from which all obstacles had been taken away. As the “Holy One,” he would only be passing over a cleansed way, not a defiled road.

57:15. Masoretic Text: For thus says the High and Elevated One, the one inhabiting eternity and whose name [is] holy: I inhabit the high place and the holy one and also [dwell] with one of crushed and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the crushed ones.

Septuagint: Thus says the Lord, the Most High who inhabits the age, Holy among the holy ones [is] his name, the Lord, the Most High, who rests among the holy ones and gives patience to the downhearted ones and gives life to those crushed of heart:

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) reads, “I will dwell in the height” (not “inhabit [dwell in] the high place”).


YHWH occupies the highest position, for he alone is God. The reference to his inhabiting “eternity” may be understood to signify that he is the eternal one and, therefore, his dwelling is likewise eternal. The Septuagint rendering “age” indicates that his dwelling is in the age that has no end.

God’s name or he himself is “holy,” for he is the absolute standard of purity. The “high place” is heaven. It is also a holy place. No impurity or uncleanness exists there.

Although YHWH is the Most High, he is attentive to the insignificant ones, persons who as to their spirit are crushed or downhearted on account of distress and oppression. They are the humble or lowly who are often ill treated. YHWH turns his favorable attention to them, coming to their aid and infusing them with new life. They are then no longer downcast in spirit or in their inmost feelings. In their heart or their inmost selves, they do not continue to be crushed but sense that they have been enlivened.

According to the next verse, this applies to the repentant people. They had earlier experienced YHWH’s severe judgment.

The Septuagint rendering represents the Most High as resting among the holy ones. This may mean that he, as the Holy One, is surrounded exclusively by holy ones, angels. His giving patience to the downhearted may signify that he makes it possible for them to endure unfavorable circumstances.

57:16. Masoretic Text: For not to limitless time will I contend and not always will I be angry, for from me the spirit would be enfeebled and [also] the souls I have made.

Septuagint: Not for eternity [literally, “into the age”] will I punish you nor always be incensed at you. For a spirit will go out from me, and I have made all breath.

According to the Targum of Isaiah, YHWH would restore the spirits of the dead and the souls he had made.


YHWH’s contending or expressing his punitive judgment against the wayward people would not continue nor would he remain angry with them. If there would be no end to his punitive judgment and his wrath did not cease, the spirit or inmost feelings of the people would be enfeebled, remaining in a downcast state. As the Creator of the “souls” or the people, he has tender feelings for them. Therefore, he will not continue to contend or continue to be angry. (Compare Jonah 4:11.)

The Septuagint rendering about a spirit going out from God may be understood to mean a favorable spirit. As the one who “made all breath,” he is the one who gives life to all. Without breath, humans could not continue to live.

57:17. Masoretic Text: At the iniquity of his unjust gain, I was angry. I struck him, hiding, and was angry, and he went [as one] backslidden in the way of his heart.

Septuagint: Because of sin, I grieved him a little [while] and I struck him and turned my face away from him. And he was grieved and went about sullen in his ways.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the conjunction “and” precedes the infinitive for “hide.”

The Targum of Isaiah says that YHWH hurled the people away and dispersed their exiles “because they went astray after the imagination of their heart.”


As the God of justice, YHWH determined to punish his lawless people. Especially the wealthy oppressors among them made unjust gain at the expense of the lowly. In view of the hateful manner in which they took advantage of the poor, they made themselves guilty of a great iniquity. This aroused YHWH to anger, and he used foreign armies to strike them. The “hiding,” as expressed in the Septuagint, referred to turning his face away, leaving them at the mercy of their enemies. Unfaithful Israel was guilty of backsliding, turning away from YHWH to pursue the corrupt way that they had determined upon in their “heart” or inmost selves.

According to the rendering of the Septuagint, the punishment or “grieving” was temporary. At the time Israel was grieved, the people went about in a sullen or gloomy state but still continued in their divinely disapproved ways.

57:18. Masoretic Text: I have seen his ways, and I will heal him. And I will lead him and restore comforts to him and to his mourners,

Septuagint: I have seen his ways, and I healed him and comforted him and gave him true comfort.

In the Hebrew text, the thought is completed in the next verse.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) does not include the reference to leading him. “I have seen his ways, and I will heal him and restore to him comfort to him and to his mourners.”

The Targum of Isaiah interprets this to apply to “the way of their repentance,” which would result in their being forgiven and become the recipients of compassion and consolations.


YHWH had punished his people because they had been unfaithful to him. He had seen or was fully aware of their lawless ways. Still, the punishment would be temporary. YHWH would heal his people, restoring the repentant ones among them to his favor. He would lead or guide his repentant people and restore to them his comforts or consolations as persons whom he approved. Possibly the “mourners” are those who were grieved because the calamity could have been avoided if the people had abandoned their lawlessness.

57:19. Masoretic Text: creating the fruit of the lips. “Peace, peace to the one far away and to the one near,” says YHHWH, “and I will heal him.”

Septuagint: Peace upon peace to those far away and to those who are near. And the Lord said, “I will heal them.”

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) does not repeat the word for “peace.”


When taking action for his repentant people, YHWH moves them to make expression of praise and thanksgiving. In this manner, he creates the “fruit of the lips.”

“Peace” is a state of well-being and security. Possibly the godly ones in Israel were the ones near, and the ones far away were those who had strayed but had repented. This is the application found in the Targum of Isaiah. The “healing” refers to being restored to God’s favor as persons forgiven of their sins.

57:20. Masoretic Text: And the wicked [are] like the tossed sea, for it cannot be calm, and its waters toss up mire and mud.

Septuagint: But the unrighteous thus will be tossed as by waves and will not be able to rest.

According to the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) the wicked “are tossed like the sea.”


The wicked are like the turbulent sea in a constant state of agitation. Its churning waters bring mire and filth to the surface. Likewise, the corrupt deeds of the lawless ones are exposed as if the sea had tossed them up.

57:21. Masoretic Text: “[There is] no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

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

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), this verse starts with the conjunction “and.”


“Peace,” a state of well-being and security, is not the possession of the wicked, those who refuse to live in harmony with God’s commands. The expression “my God” reveals the personal relationship the prophet had with YHWH.

According to the Septuagint rendering, the impious or godless ones do not rejoice. While they may rejoice about having succeeded in carrying out their lawless schemes, they do not have the joy that comes from doing what is right and experiencing God’s blessing.