Isaiah 63:1-19

Submitted by admin on Mon, 2013-03-25 11:06.

Posted in | printer-friendly version »

63:1. Masoretic Text: Who [is] this one coming from Edom, with red-stained garments from Bozrah, this one made splendid in his attire, bending in the greatness of his strength? [It is] I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.

Septuagint: Who [is] this, the one coming from Edom, [in the] scarlet of [his] garments from Bosor, so beautiful in attire, [in] might with strength? I speak [about] righteousness and judgment of deliverance.

Possibly the Hebrew word that literally means “bending” may here refer to a leaning or swaying movement suggestive of the kind of confidence that a triumphant warrior might display.


The wording of the Targum of Isaiah indicates YHWH to be the speaker, referring to him as the one who would execute a righteous judgment for his people as he had sworn to them. According to the Targum, he was “about to bring a plague upon Edom” and a “mighty vengeance upon Bozrah.”

One’s understanding YHWH to be the one about whom the question is raised does fit the context. Both the Hebrew text and the Septuagint rendering represent him as having come from Edom and accomplished his purpose. He is portrayed as having red-stained garments while on his way from Bozrah. (For pictures of and comments about this major Edomite city that has been linked to Buseirah in southern Jordan, see Bozrah.) Although stained red or scarlet, the attire looked impressive, “beautiful” (LXX) to behold, or “made splendid” in appearance. The question suggests that the stride of the one depicted revealed a personage in possession of matchless strength.

In response to the question, the one who answers identifies himself as the one who speaks in or about righteousness. This could mean that YHWH expresses and executes the judgments that are right or just. As the one who is “mighty to save,” he has the power to deliver from peril or distress those whom he approves. The Septuagint reference to speaking about “judgment of deliverance” may be understood to indicate that the expression of his just judgment would bring about the deliverance of those who looked to him for aid in their time of trouble or affliction.

63:2. Masoretic Text: Why [is] your attire red and your garments like [those] of one treading in a winepress?

Septuagint: Why [are] your garments scarlet and your clothes as [though] from a trodden winepress?

The Targum of Isaiah makes no mention of articles of clothing. “Why then are the mountains red with the blood of the slain, and why do the plains flow forth like wine in the press?”


The red stains on the garment prompted the question about the reason for them.

Men would stomp on the grapes with their bare feet, and the liquid from the crushed grapes would splash onto their garments, resulting in reddish stains. This is the basis for the question as to why the garments looked like those of one treading in a winepress.

63:3. Masoretic Text: I have trodden the winepress alone, and no man [was] with me from the peoples. And I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath, and their lifeblood is spattered on my garments, and all my attire I have stained.

Septuagint: [I am] full of [what has been] trampled [in the winepress], and of the nations not a man is with me. And I trampled them in [my] wrath, and I pulverized them like earth and caused their blood to go down into the earth.

The text of the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) is shorter and represents the one speaking as saying that “no man [was] with me from my people.” The words about doing the trampling in wrath and spattering blood on the garments are omitted, and the verse concludes, “and all my attire I have stained.”

In the Targum of Isaiah, as in the Septuagint, there is no reference to clothes. The Targum likens the act of treading the grapes in the winepress to the great slaughter to occur “among the armies of the peoples.” Continuing with what God will do, the Targum says that the armies “will have no strength before me; and I will slay them in my anger, and trample them in my wrath, and break the strength of their mighty ones before me, and all their wise ones I will destroy.”


Even though YHWH executed a just judgment, no one among the nations supported him in this, suggesting that they remained hostile to him. In expression of his anger, he alone trod the winepress, crushing those who had opposed his will. Depicted as trampling these opposers as if they were grapes in a winepress, YHWH is represented as saying that he had stained his clothes with their blood.

63:4. Masoretic Text: For a day of vengeance [was] in my heart, and a year of my redemptive acts has come.

Septuagint: For a day of retribution has come upon them, and a year of redemption [is] at hand.

The Targum of Isaiah refers to the year of redemption as being for God’s people.


In his “heart” or within himself, YHWH had determined upon a day of vengeance or a time of retribution for those who had resisted his will and proved themselves to be enemies of his people. At the time he was about to deliver his people from affliction, his redemptive acts could be spoken of as having arrived or being at hand.

63:5. Masoretic Text: And I looked, and [there was] no one helping. And I was appalled, and [there was] no one upholding. And my arm did liberating for me, and my wrath upheld me.

Septuagint: And I looked, and no one [was] a helper, and I took notice, and no one was assisting. And my arm rescued them, and my wrath stood by [me].

Instead of “no man upholding,” the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) says “no man to take hold of me.”

The Targum of Isaiah contains an interpretation that corresponds neither to the Hebrew text nor to the Septuagint. “And it was revealed before me that there was no man with good works, and it was known before me that there was no man to arise and make intercession for them. So I delivered them by my strong arm, and supported them with the Memra of my good pleasure.”


YHWH appears to be represented as looking all around among the nations to see whether anyone in their midst was ready to act in the cause of justice, but there was no one. As he observed the people of the nations, he was astonished or appalled that no one among them chose to uphold the execution of a just judgment. This, however, had no bearing on his taking decisive action. His arm, representative of his power, brought about the liberation or rescue of his people. YHWH’s wrath, directed as it was against evil, supported or strengthened him to carry out a just sentence against those who deserved punishment for their deeds.

63:6. Masoretic Text: And I trod down peoples in my anger, and I made them drunk with my wrath. And I poured out their lifeblood [literally, “juice” (of grapes)] on the earth.

Septuagint: And I trod them down in my wrath and caused their blood to go down into the earth.


Like a man treading grapes in a winepress, YHWH is represented as speaking of himself as treading down peoples in expression of his anger against them. His wrath was like a deadly potion that he made them drink. As the treading of grapes in a winepress yields juice, so the crushing of the peoples is represented as causing their lifeblood to flow. Unlike the juice of grapes, however, the lifeblood would be poured out on the ground and, as the Septuagint reading suggests, would seep into the soil.

Chapter 62 contained the assurance that Jerusalem would be secure. The crushing of the nations who were hostile to YHWH and his people would remove all threatening elements, safeguarding the continued well-being of Jerusalem and its inhabitants.

When applied to the “Jerusalem above” (Galatians 4:26), the prophetic words indicate that her “children” (those whom God recognizes as approved because of their faith in his Son and the atoning benefits of his sacrificial death) could be confident that all enemy powers would be crushed and that these powers could never succeed in depriving them of their divinely promised rewards, privileges, and blessings.

63:7. Masoretic Text: I will recall the kindnesses [plural form of chésed] of YHWH, the praises of YHWH, according to all that YHWH has dealt out to us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel that he has dealt out to them according to his mercies and according to the abundance of his kindnesses [plural form of chésed].

Septuagint: I recalled the mercy of the Lord, the exellencies of the Lord in everything which the Lord repays to us. The Lord [is] a good judge to the house of Israel. He brings upon us [his bounties] according to his mercy and according to the abundance of his righteousness.


In the Targum of Isaiah, the prophet is identified as the speaker. This does fit the context.

The Hebrew word chésed can denote graciousness, enduring loyalty, steadfast love, and mercy. It is a compassionate care and loving concern that expresses itself in action. In the Sepuagint, chésed is often translated éleos, meaning “mercy,” “pity,” or “compassion.” Here, in verse 7, this is the Greek rendering for the first occurrence of the plural form of chésed, but for the second occurrence the rendering is dikaiosýne,(“righteousness” or “justice”). In the present context, the plural form of chésed applies to YHWH’s kind, compassionate, or loving response to his people during the course of their history. As a parallel expression, the words “praises of YHWH” relate to everything that he did for them for which they should have praised him.

YHWH is good in the ultimate sense. Everything he does and grants is always right or just and fits the need or the given circumstance. The house or people of Israel repeatedly experienced his great goodness.

According to the Septuagint, God’s “excellencies,” virtues, or his matchless purity in everything came to be manifest in how he repaid his people, either in rewarding them or disciplining them. He acted as a good judge, showing impartiality, adhering to the highest standard of justice, and extending mercy when appropriate.

YHWH displayed his mercy when forgiving his people for their transgressions and coming to their aid in time of distress. They experienced his abundant kindnesses or his enduring love for them when benefiting from his guidance and protective care.

63:8. Masoretic Text: And he said, “Surely they [are] my people, sons who will not deal falsely.” And he became a deliverer to them.

Septuagint: And he said, “[Are] they not my people, children [who] will by no means deal treacherously?” And he became to them for deliverance out of all distress.

The rendering “by no means” serves to preserve the emphatic sense of the two Greek words for “not.”

In Rahlfs’ printed text, the words rendered “out of all distress” appear at the beginning of verse 9. They are included here to complete the sentence and will not be repeated in the rendering of the next verse.


YHWH made it possible for the descendants of Jacob to become a nation and he constituted them as his people, his sons. As a loving Father, YHWH repeatedly came to their aid, delivering them from affliction or oppression.

In view of the relationship the Israelites had with YHWH, they should have been obedient children, responding appreciatively to the love that he had shown to them. YHWH is here portrayed as expecting from the Israelites the upright conduct fathers would expect from their children. A father who deeply loved and cared for his sons and daughters could not imagine that they would ever turn against him and deal treacherously with him.

63:9. Masoretic Text: In all their distress, he [was] not in distress, and the angel of his presence [literally, “face”] delivered them. In his love and in his compassion, he redeemed them, and he lifted them up and carried them all the days of [past] limitless time.

Septuagint: Not an elder nor an angel, but the Lord himself delivered them because of loving them and to spare them. He redeemed them and lifted them up and exalted them all the days of the [past] age.

A marginal reading of the Masoretic Text and numerous Hebrew manuscripts indicate that YHWH was distressed when the Israelites were distressed, and this wording is found in a number of modern translations. “In all their distress he too was distressed.” (NIV) “In all their troubles He was troubled.” (Tanakh) These renderings represent YHWH as having sympathy for the Israelites in their state of affliction.

In the phrase regarding YHWH, the omission of the word “not” does not have the support of the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll). Like the Masoretic Text, the Vulgate includes the Latin word for “not” (non). In the Targum of Isaiah, the word “not” is not left out. It says that YHWH “did not afflict” the Israelites, “but an angel sent from before him delivered them.” In view of the evidence for the inclusion of the word “not,” the comments that follow will be based on the reading of the Masoretic Text.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the Hebrew word for “love” is plural and may be rendered “loving deeds” or “acts of love.” The scroll has the plural form of the Hebrew word for “compassion,” and the word order of the phrase about lifting them up and carrying them is reversed.


The distress, affliction, or oppression the Israelites experienced resulted from their acting contrary to YHWH’s commands. He withdrew his protection from them and allowed them to suffer at the hands of their enemies. The affliction served as YHWH’s discipline for their wayward conduct and so would not have been distressing to him, for the ultimate objective of the discipline was to bring them to repentance and to turn to him for aid. (Compare Judges 10:6-16.)

When, as during the time judges administered affairs, the Israelites cried out to YHWH for help in their affliction, he did rescue them. (Judges 2:11-23) His deliverance is represented in this verse as having been effected through angelic means. Moreover, YHWH’s redeeming or rescuing of his people is attributed to his love and compassion. An outstanding manifestation of this was his liberating them from Egyptian enslavement in the time of Moses. He then lifted them up from their low condition as slaves and carried them, supported them, or sustained them during their journeying through the inhospitable wilderness, providing them with food in the form of manna and abundant water where none had been available. In subsequent years, he continued to safeguard their well-being in the land he had promised to give to their forefathers. He did not permit their enemies to destroy them. (Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 8:3, 4; 32:9-14; Psalm 78:14-16, 24, 27-29, 51-66)

A number of modern translations contain wording like that of the Septuagint. “It was not a messenger or an angel, but he himself who saved them.” (NAB) “No envoy, no angel, but he himself delivered them.” (REB) Elders, envoys, or ambassadors would be known for their wisdom, and angels for their superior powers. In the ultimate sense, however, neither the wisdom of an elder nor the great power of an angel brought about the deliverance of the Israelites from distress, but YHWH rescued them from affliction and peril because of his great love and to spare them from further suffering. The exaltation of the Israelites could refer to their being dignified with the honorable status of YHWH’s forgiven people after having been lifted up from their humiliated condition.

63:10. Masoretic Text: And they rebelled and grieved his holy spirit. And he turned to be [their] enemy; he himself warred against them.

Septuagint: But they disobeyed and provoked his holy spirit. And he turned against them in hostility, and he himself warred against them.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah precedes the phrase about warring with the conjunction “and.”


The Israelites repeatedly rebelled against YHWH, disloyally adopting the veneration of foreign deities, disobeying his commands, and refusing to give heed to the prophets he sent to them. Their wayward course grieved his holy spirit, for they acted contrary to what YHWH, by means of his spirit, had revealed to them to be his will. The Targum of Isaiah, though not mentioning the spirit, refers to the prophets who received their message through the operation of God’s spirit. It says that the Israelites “rebelled and provoked to anger against the word [Memra] of his holy prophets.”

63:11. Masoretic Text: And he recalled days of [past] limitless time — Moses, his people. Where [is] the one having brought them up out of the sea, the ones shepherding his flock? Where [is] the one putting his holy spirit in the midst of them, …?

Septuagint: And he recalled the age-old days, he [who] brought up the shepherd of the sheep from the land. Where is the one putting the holy spirit in them, …?

The question continues in the next verse.

In the Targum of Isaiah, the “holy spirit” is not mentioned, but the reference is to the word (Memra) of the holy prophets.


If directly linked to the words of the previous verse, YHWH would be the one who recalled or remembered the time that had long passed, when he dealt with Moses and his people the Israelites. The Targum of Isaiah does make the application to YHWH. “And he had pity for the glory of his name, because of the remembrance of his goodnesses of old, the mighty acts that he performed for his people by the hands of Moses.” According to the Targum, YHWH took action for the sake of his name lest his people say, “Where is he who brought them up from the sea? Where is he who led them in the wilderness as a shepherd his flock?”

Translators, however, commonly render the third person singular “he” as applying to the people. “Then his people recalled the days of old, the days of Moses and his people.” (NIV) “But his people remembered what had happened during the time of Moses.” (CEV) “But then his people remembered what happened long ago, in the days of Moses and the Israelites with him.” (NCV) According to these renderings, the people asked why YHWH was not taking action as he did when leading their forefathers through the Red Sea to safety from the Egyptian pursuers and then shepherding or caring for them like a shepherd tends his flock.

God’s holy spirit operated in the midst of the people, for the spirit had been imparted to Moses and later to 70 elders of the people so that they might assist Moses in administering affairs. (Numbers 11:16, 17, 24-29) Before the existence of the monarchy in Israel, YHWH raised up judges, empowering them by means of his spirit, to carry out acts of deliverance from enemy oppression. (Judges 3:9-11; 6:34; 11:29; 13:24, 25) The question about the spirit implied that the people saw no evidence of the spirit’s operation. It appeared to them as though YHWH had absented himself insofar as imparting his spirit was concerned and thereby performing mighty acts of deliverance.

The first question in the Hebrew text reads as a statement in the Septuagint. God appears to be represented as the one who brought Moses out from the land of Egypt to serve as a shepherd for the Israelites. In the Masoretic Text, the plural participle (here rendered “ones shepherding”) could include Moses’ successor Joshua.

63:12. Masoretic Text: …causing his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, dividing the waters before their faces to make for himself a name for limitless time, …?

Septuagint: …the one leading Moses with the right hand, [with] the arm of his glory? He prevailed over the water before his face, to make an eternal name for himself.

The expression “his glorious arm” literally is “arm of his glory,” and the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) has the plural “glories.”

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


The “arm” represents power, and the “glorious arm” of YHWH or the “arm of his glory” may be understood to mean the power whereby his awe-inspiring greatness and splendor are revealed. As one represented as being led by YHWH’s right hand and having unparalleled power (YHWH’s glorious arm) at his side, Moses had the fullness of divine backing to function as the shepherd or leader of the Israelites.

The dividing of the waters refers to the parting of the Red Sea before the Israelites (their “faces”), making it possible for them to cross and escape the pursuing Egyptian military force. By means of this astounding deliverance, YHWH made a name for himself, causing peoples who heard about it to recognize that the deities whom they venerated did not possess such power, and they came to be filled with fear. (Compare Joshua 2:9, 10; 1 Samuel 4:8.)

63:13. Masoretic Text: …leading them through the deeps [so that], like a horse in the wilderness, they did not stumble?

Septuagint: He led them through the abyss like a horse through the wilderness, and they did not tire, …

This verse continues the thought about YHWH’s not performing acts of deliverance as in former times.

Translators vary in the way they treat the phrase relating to the “horse.” “…who led them through the deeps so that they did not stumble — as a horse in a desert, like a beast descending to the plain?” (Tanakh) “Who led them without stumbling through the depths like horses in the open country …?” (NAB) “… who led them through the depths as easily as a horse through the desert? They stumbled as little as cattle going down to the plain.” (NJB) “He led his people across like horses running wild without stumbling.” (CEV)

According to the Septuagint rendering, the manner in which God led his people through the “abyss” or the deep was comparable to the way in which a horse would be led through a wilderness or a desert. The implication is that the people passed through the deep without any difficulty, just as would a horse when running in a wilderness area or in open country. They did not become exhausted as would have been the case if the passage through the deep had been arduous.


The reference here appears to be to YHWH’s safely conducting the Israelites through the Red Sea, with not a one among them stumbling. Horses cannot easily negotiate treacherous terrain in the mountains but have no difficulty in running in open country. Like sure-footed horses in a wilderness area, the Israelites crossed the sea that had miraculously opened up to form a path for easy passage.

63:14. Masoretic Text: Like a beast that goes down into the valley, the spirit of YHWH gave them rest. So you led your people to make a name of glory for yourself.

Septuagint: …and like cattle through a plain. A spirit came down from the Lord and guided them. Thus you led your people to make a glorious name for yourself.

Instead of the expression here rendered “so,” the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) has the word meaning “for.”

According to the Septuagint rendering, YHWH led his people like cattle through a plain, with the implication that he provided them with everything they needed.


In a valley or plain, a “beast,” a domestic animal, or “cattle” (LXX) would find pasturage and a place to rest. Like livestock descending into a valley, the Israelites found a place for rest and refreshment once they were settled in the land of Canaan. Their being given rest is attributed to the “spirit of YHWH.” This may be understood to mean that YHWH, through the operation of his spirit, made it possible for the Israelites to enjoy rest in the land he had promised to give to them.

The biblical record indicates that God’s spirit was involved. Under the leadership of Joshua, the Israelites entered the land of Canaan. Like Moses, he was divinely empowered to carry out his commission. That the spirit was imparted to him is indicated by the reference to his being in possession of a “spirit of wisdom” after Moses laid his hands on him. (Numbers 27:18-23; Deuteronomy 34:9)

YHWH is the source of the spirit, and the Septuagint rendering refers to a spirit as coming from him, from the Lord, and guiding his people. Initially through Moses and then through Joshua, the spirit of God operated mightily to provide the essential guidance. It may be, however, that the Septuagint translator, as in 1 Kings 22:21, understood the “spirit” to be an angel.

By the way YHWH led his people out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and then into the land of Canaan, he made a glorious, impressive, or illustrious name for himself as the only living and true God, the one who could sustain his people and deliver them from threat and peril.

63:15. Masoretic Text: Look down from heaven, and see from the abode of your holiness and your glory. Where [are] your zeal and your mighty deeds, the arousal of your inward parts, and your mercies? They have been withheld from me.

Septuagint: Turn [to us] from heaven, and see from your holy house and [from your] glory. Where are your zeal and your might? Where is the abundance of your mercy and your compassions that you have withheld from us?


At this time, the Israelites did not receive YHWH’s favorable attention and aid. Therefore, the prophet, representing the people, petitioned him to “look down” from his exalted position in heaven and to observe from his holy and glorious place of dwelling the distressing circumstances of his people. It appeared as though he had distanced himself from them and forgotten about them. There was then no evidence of his former zeal to come to their rescue and of former mighty deeds to effect their deliverance from affliction. Within himself, in his inward parts, YHWH is represented as not being compassionately aroused toward them. His mercy or pity had been withheld. The first person pronoun “me” may be understood to refer to the prophet as speaking for the people as a whole. This is the meaning of the Septuagint, for it contains the first person plural pronoun “us.”

It is possible that the word “glory” in the Septuagint may be understood to apply to God’s glorious presence.

63:16. Masoretic Text: For you [are] our Father. For Abraham does not know us and Israel does not recognize us, [so] you, O YHWH, [are] our Father. Our Redeemer from [past] limitless time [is] your name.

Septuagint: For you are our Father because Abraham did not know us, and Israel did not recognize us, but you, O Lord, [are] our Father. Deliver us; from the beginning your name is upon us.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the Hebrew conjunction preceding Abraham is “and,” not “for.” This scroll has a different form of the verb for “recognize” and may be rendered “has not recognized.” Instead of “you, O YHWH,” the scroll reads, “you are he, O YHWH.”

When referring to YHWH as the Father of the Israelites, the Targum of Isaiah says, “You are he whose compassions toward us are more than those of a father toward his children.”


A loving father provides for, helps, and protects his children. Therefore, when the prophet appealed to YHWH on the basis of his being the Father of the Israelites, he was pleading for YHWH to come to the aid of his people. Although being the forefather of the Israelites, Abraham could not fulfill the role of a father and deliver them from distress. From the standpoint of being unable to render aid, he was like a man who did not know them or had no relationship with them nor any obligations to them. The Targum of Isaiah makes the point that Abraham did not bring the Israelites out of Egypt.

In this verse, “Israel” is the designation for Jacob, the forefather of the Israelites whose name was changed to Israel after he had wrestled with an angel. (Genesis 32:24-28) He, too, did not recognize the Israelites as their father who could aid and rescue them. As the Targum of Isaiah expresses it, he performed no wondrous deeds for them during their wandering in the wilderness prior to their entering the land of Canaan.

YHWH alone was the Father who could help the Isralites, provide for them, safeguard them, and rescue them from distress. Long ago, YHWH proved to be the one who redeemed or liberated the Israelites. Therefore, his name in relation to them was “Redeemer,” and so the prophet’s supplication was for YHWH to act in that capacity. The distant past time is probably to be linked to the time when YHWH liberated the Israelites from Egyptian enslavement and concluded a covenant with them at Mount Sinai, constituting them his own people.

The Septuagint rendering is specific in expressing the petition for God, as the Father of the Israelites, to deliver them from their distress. His name being upon them from the beginning may be understood to mean from the time they were clearly identified as his people. This would have been when he led them out of Egypt and entered a covenant relationship with them at Mount Sinai.

63:17. Masoretic Text: Why do you make us err from your ways, O YHWH, harden our heart to the fear of you? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your inheritance.

Septuagint: Why did you make us stray from your way, O Lord, harden our hearts not to fear you? Return on account of your servants, on account of the tribes of your inheritance, …

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the divine name (YHWH) appears immediately after the interrogative here translated “why.”

The concluding sentence of the Septuagint continues in the next verse.


The prophet expressed concern as to why YHWH had not acted like their Father but made them err or stray from his ways and hardened their hearts or their inmost selves so that they failed to fear him or to manifest a proper regard for him. Because YHWH could have prevented this from happening and yet permitted the Israelites to pursue a course of disobedience, he is represented as making them err. He allowed the people to become obstinate and to act as persons who in their inmost selves had no fear or reverential regard for him. In view of his permissive will respecting them, YHWH is spoken of as having hardened their “heart.” The prophet pleaded that this situation would end, that the people would not continue to be abandoned to follow their wrong ways and to remain hardened in their inmost selves against manifesting a wholesome fear of YHWH. Since YHWH had chosen the Israelites as his servants, the prophet pleaded that he would return to them for their sake. YHWH had a relationship with them, for the people were the “tribes” of his inheritance. This meant that they were his possession in need of his attention and care.

63:18. Masoretic Text: For a bit, your holy people took possession. Our adversaries have trampled down your sanctuary.

Septuagint: …that we may inherit a bit of your holy mountain. Our adversaries have trampled down your sanctuary.

The Hebrew and Greek words here translated “bit” basically mean “little.” Whereas the Hebrew word could relate to a short time, the corresponding Greek word appears to designate a portion or a share.


The thought may be that for just a bit or a comparatively short time, the Israelites, God’s holy people, had possession of the entire land that had been promised to them. Enemy invasions, however, led to their loss of territory, and even the sacred temple site came to be trampled down.

In connection with the previous verse, the Septuagint rendering could be understood to mean that, if God were to return to his people or to grant them his favorable attention, they would again have a bit, a little, a portion or a share of the holy mountain in Jerusalem, the location of the sanctuary upon which enemies had trampled.

63:19. Masoretic Text: We have become [like] those over whom you have not ruled for limitless time, [like] those who are not called by your name.

Septuagint: We have become as at the beginning, when you did not rule over us nor was your name called upon us.

In the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint, verse 1 of the next chapter is part of verse 19 here.

The Targum of Isaiah mentions that, unlike the Israelites, the other peoples did not receive the law from YHWH.


During the time the Israelites were subjected to foreign conquest and oppression, they appeared to be like the people of others nations that did not have YHWH as their God and were without his help, protective care, and blessing. No evidence then existed that he ruled over the Israelites and that they were his people, identified by his name being attached to them as his special possession and the object of his attention and concern.

The Septuagint reference to the “beginning” could refer to the time before the Israelites were liberated from Egypt and came to be in a covenant relationship with YHWH as a nation. At the time of their enslavement in Egypt they did not appear to have him as their ruler and his name was not called upon them. They were then not identifiable as uniquely belonging to him as his people.