By Christina M Wilson. Posted simultaneously at Blessing Returns: Isaiah Devotional Journal 63 – justonesmallvoice.com.
Isaiah 29 Septuagint Modernized NETS
(Chapter 29 Part 2. LINK to Part 1)
Divisions of Chapter 29
- Verses 1-4 are against Ariel, which is Jerusalem
- Verses 5-8 are against Ariel’s enemies
- Verses 9-16 judge the people of Jerusalem, especially its leaders
- Verses 17-24 concern a new season for Abraham and Jacob’s family
Blessing upon Abraham and Jacob’s Progeny
Verse 17 introduces one of Isaiah’s many reversals, or switchbacks. In the preceding verses, God through the prophet condemned the people of Jerusalem and their rulers. He promised to remove them, as a potter would his clay. But in verse 17 through the end of the chapter, he blesses his people. But are these the same people he condemns immediately before this section begins?
When and What?
First, the phrase “a little while” in verse 17 would indicate a future that is not the end, end times, as in the very end of time which ushers in a new heaven and a new earth. The age of Messiah’s incarnation therefore might be the “little while” Isaiah holds in view.
Next, the metaphor of verse 17 is widely accepted to indicate a reversal of fortune. According to NET Bible’s study notes, “The meaning of this verse is debated, but it seems to depict a reversal in fortunes. The mighty forest of Lebanon (symbolic of the proud and powerful, see 2:13; 10:34) will be changed into a common orchard, while the common orchard (symbolic of the oppressed and lowly) will grow into a great forest.” This interpretation matches the Septuagint of verse 14, which speaks of God’s “removal” of the leaders and people of Israel who opposed him (See Journal 62).
Verse 17 introduces the first of a series of reversals. What are these?
- the deaf shall hear (v 18)
- the blind shall see (v 18)
- the poor (meek) shall rejoice (v 19)
- the hopeless (poor) shall be filled with gladness (v 19)
- the lawless man has come to an end (v 20)
- the arrogant man has perished (v 20)
- the malicious are utterly destroyed (v 20)
- those who give false witness will be gone (v 21)
- these are they who “entrap the one who arbitrates at the city gate” (NET) [devious lawyers] (v 21)
- these are they who “deprive the innocent of justice by making false charges” (NET) (v 21)
Verses 18 and 19 bear a striking resemblance to Jesus Christ’s statement in Matthew 11:5.
the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. (Matthew 11:5 ESV)
Also, it’s as though Jesus took portions of his Sermon on the Mount straight from the book of Isaiah.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5:3-6 ESV)
The Reversals Reveal Two Groups
Isaiah in the verses from 18-21 divides his subjects into two groups. The first group begins low and rises high. The second group begins high and sinks low. Who are those receiving the blessings in verses 18-19? They are the deaf, the blind, the meek, the poor in spirit, and those wronged by the law and the court system. Who are those to be condemned and destroyed in verses 20-21? They are the lawless, the arrogant, the malicious, and the liars who harm their neighbors. These people sound remarkably like the teachers and leaders of Jerusalem whom Isaiah described in Isaiah 29:1-4 and 13-16.
Zooming In on the Who?
Where do the poor people come from, those whom Isaiah prophesies God will bless in “a little while”? There seem to be two plausible choices.
ONE, they could be the progeny of the people and religious leaders whom Isaiah prophesied against in verses 1-4 and 13-16. Perhaps they will repent and have a great change of heart. They may recognize their blindness and deafness and poverty of spirit and turn to the Lord. The Apostle Paul says this is possible.
Romans 11:23 And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. (ESV)
TWO, they could be the progeny of those few who always hoped in the God of Israel. Or, perhaps they are a small group who repent and turn back to the Lord. In either case, they are those whom Isaiah calls the remnant (Isaiah 28:5; 10:20-22). They are the blind, the deaf, the poor, the hopeless, and the victims of legal injustice. This remnant resembles the crowds who believed in Jesus, and after his resurrection continued to believe in God and his Son. Paul speaks of this remnant in Romans 9-11.
Significance of Abraham
Isaiah 29:22 in the Septuagint (NETS, SAAS) names three names: Abraham, house of Jacob, Jacob himself, and Israel. The Masoretic (Hebrew) uses the names Abraham, house of Jacob, and Jacob. The naming of “Abraham” is new in Isaiah. This is his first appearance. The name Jacob, on the other hand, occurs frequently. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel in Genesis 32:28. “Jacob” and “Israel” are most likely synonymous in this verse.
Why does Isaiah use the name Abraham in reference to the group of people whose lowly state will be so radically changed to blessing? There are only three other uses of Abraham in all of Isaiah: Isaiah 41:8; 51:2; and 63:16. Is Isaiah’s use of this name in chapter 29 significant?
Here is what we know about Abraham.
- God justified Abraham because of his faith (Romans 4:3, 9, 12, 13, 16; Galatians 3:6).
- Those who are of faith are the sons [children] of Abraham (Galatians 3:7, 9).
- Abraham predates the establishment of national Israel by many generations.
One reasonably wonders if Isaiah purposefully chose the name Abraham in order to emphasize these distinguishing characteristics.
HOW WILL ABRAHAM’S CHILDREN RESPOND?
Isaiah 29:23 But when their children shall have seen my works, they shall sanctify my name for my sake, and they sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. (LXE)
The religious leaders of Jesus’s day saw all his works. They witnessed paralytics walking, the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, lepers cleansed, and even the dead raised (John 11). Did they sanctify God’s name? No, they crucified Messiah, God’s Son. But many did see and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob. They were the poor, the sinners, and the outcasts whom Jesus blessed, just as Isaiah prophesied.
Isaiah 29:24 indicates that some will be given a new heart. The chapter closes with this final blessing of reversal. “And they that erred in spirit shall know understanding, and the murmurers shall learn obedience, and the stammering tongues shall learn to speak peace.” These people with changed hearts would be the same ones of whom Isaiah speaks in verses 22 and 23.
Conclusion: Interpretation of Isaiah
Isaiah and the gospel narratives are interrelated. Isaiah points forward to the Gospel, and the gospels themselves look back upon Isaiah. In the four gospels the enmity between Christ and the religious leaders of his day is apparent (witness the crucifixion). Yet Jesus preached for the most part to his own people, the Jewish nation (Matthew 10:5-6; 15:25). Those who believed, beginning with the eleven disciples, were Jewish. These preached to other Jewish people, who also believed. Eventually, the Apostle Paul preached the gospel to Gentiles. These believed in far greater numbers than the people of Israel. Paul addresses this situation in Romans 9-11. National Israel to this day has not believed in Messiah Jesus Christ. However, many individuals of ethnic Israel have believed throughout the ages: a group within a group.
Paul in Romans specifically speaks to Gentiles and Jewish believers who may be thinking that the word of God–that is, his Old Testament promises to the nation of Israel through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob–had failed (Romans 9:1-6a). Verse 6a reads, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed.” Immediately, he states, “For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel” (Romans 9:6b). He develops this theme in chapters 9, 10, and 11. Who are the ones whom Paul claims “belong to Israel”? They are those who believe in Christ, whether Jew or Gentile.
Paul and Isaiah both teach that Messiah is from God. God is for Israel. God sent Messiah, his Son, to redeem Israel. The children of those who were faithful to God in the Old Testament (very few, says Isaiah), will continue to be faithful to him when he sends Messiah. Or, if not consistently faithful, then repentant. Messiah is Christ. The Gospel of Christ flows in a smooth stream from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Isaiah speaks of Christ. Christ is the “foundation,” the “precious cornerstone” upon which the church is built (Isaiah 28:16).
Isaiah in the Old Testament prophesied of Messiah and those who receive him. Then, in the New Testament, Messiah comes. This is all very Jewish. Messiah, Christ Jesus, is Jewish. The problem arose with the actual identity of the God-man. The Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’s day rejected Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah. They did not reject the Scriptures, such as Isaiah, which prophesied that Messiah would come (John 5:39-40, 45-47).
The “remnant” includes the faithful Israelites of the Old Testament (those like Isaiah) and the faithful Israelites of the New Testament (those like the eleven disciples, Elizabeth, Mary, Paul, and all the rest.) This is the best way to understand the jerky flip-flops that Isaiah makes. He alternates between the faithful and the unfaithful, the obedient and the disobedient, the repentant and those who refuse to repent. These are two groups.
Is this “replacement theology”? Does Paul use Isaiah’s “remnant” to replace Israel in the New Testament? Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that faithful Israel replaces national Israel. Faith is an issue of heart, not of national boundaries. And no, Paul does not “replace” Israel. Paul claims that the people of Israel are natural branches in God’s olive tree (Romans 11:16-21). The unfaithful branches were broken off. The Gentiles are the ones who have been grafted in. When ethnic Israel lines up once more with God’s purpose in Messiah, says Paul, they can be grafted in again (Romans 11:20, 23). But God’s olive tree consists of faithful people, not political nations. “My kingdom is not of this world,” says Christ (John 18:36).
Who is Jesus of Nazareth, if not a Jew? (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38; John 1:11). The church does not “replace” Israel. Rather, the church is what faithful Israel becomes. The church equals faithful Israel and those Gentiles whom God grafts in. This is what Isaiah consistently teaches all along. I personally think of the church as the butterfly that emerges from Old Testament Israel’s cocoon, no irreverence intended.
Once the reader understands Isaiah’s method of switching back and forth between Israel’s two essential groups–those faithful to God the King, and those unfaithful to him–she can see that God is consistent to himself. He is not a God who changes his mind (Numbers 23:19; Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 7:21).
I join with Paul in his prayers for his kinsmen, those of Paul’s race, ethnic Israelites. I pray that they awaken from their deep sleep, that the blind will see, that the deaf will hear and understand, that “those who erred in spirit shall know understanding, and those who complained will learn to obey” (Isaiah 29:24 SAAS).
And many blessings, dear readers, upon us all. May God’s purpose in Christ be fulfilled.
By Christina M Wilson. Published simultaneously at : https://justonesmallvoice.com/ariel-and-her-en…ional-journal-62/.
Isaiah 29 Septuagint Modernized NETS
Divisions of Chapter 29
- Verses 1-4 are against Ariel, which is Jerusalem
- Verses 5-8 are against Ariel’s enemies
- Verses 9-16 judge the people of Jerusalem, especially its leaders
- Verses 17-24 concern a new season for Abraham and Jacob’s family
Characteristics of the People within the Divisions
The people of Isaiah’s day, as described in verses 9-16 are contrasted with a people of a later day in verses 17-24. Both of these groups of people are called “Israel.” Paul in the New Testament (this is a Christian viewpoint) describes the relationship between these two groups.
Romans 11:7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” (ESV)
Who are the elect? They are a group within a group. Isaiah also presents these contrasting groups. However, he does not give the “elect” group a label, as Paul does. We will see in a bit how he handles the distinction.
Ariel and Its Leaders
1. “Woe to the city of Ariel” (verses 1-4)
Context (verses 3 and 7 LXX, 8) indicates that Ariel is another name for Jerusalem. David conquered it shortly after becoming king (2 Samuel 5:6-7). She will be no better off than the pagan nation of Moab (Isaiah 25:10-12). God himself in this oracle will afflict Jerusalem, encircling her with a barricade, as David did. In particular, God will take for himself her strength and wealth (vs 3) and will humble her words and speech (vs 4).
2. The enemies of Ariel/Jerusalem
In American politics, people often think that if a person is against a certain political party, then they must favor the opposing party. For many, however, this description fails to capture the reality that some people condemn both parties. Isaiah always makes the fact of punishment against both Israel and her enemies very clear. God judges and punishes his people, yes. But, he also judges and punishes “as many as have fought against Ariel, and all they that war against Jerusalem” (Isaiah 29:7). In verses 5-8, God turns these enemies to dust-like chaff and blows them away. His wrath in verse 6 is extreme. Notice that the Septuagint uses both the names Ariel and Jerusalem synonymously in verse 7. The Masoretic does not.
3. “A spirit of deep sleep” (verses 9-12)
If God were a man, we would say that he is deeply frustrated with the lack of understanding of his people. Verses 9-12 describe the Lord’s chastisement upon them–he will put them to sleep (vs 10) and take away even what little understanding they may have (11-12). These verses describe a deep, spiritual blindness, a total inability to perceive the Lord and his ways. The Lord intensifies their stubborn spiritual rebellion by giving them a “spirit of deep sleep.“
Isaiah 29:9 Faint, and be amazed, and be overpowered, not with strong drink, nor with wine. 10 For the Lord has made you to drink a spirit of deep sleep; and He shall close their eyes, and the eyes of their prophets and of their rulers, who see secret things.
The Apostle Paul quotes this portion of Isaiah.
Romans 11:7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” (ESV)
Paul neither gloats nor rejoices over the fact of Israel’s failure. No Christian should. Paul grieves tremendously over the state of his fellow kinspeople (Romans 9:2-3).
4. Punishment for the Hypocrites (verses 13-16)
An appropriate word for the religious leaders portrayed in verses 13-16 is hypocrites. While Isaiah does not use the word “hypocrites,” Jesus certainly does. Both Isaiah and the Lord Jesus describe very similarly the characteristics of the religious leaders of their respective day.
Isaiah directly quotes the Lord God in verse 13.
13 And the Lord has said, This people draw near to Me with their mouth, and they honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; and in vain do they worship Me, teaching the commandments and doctrines of men. (CAB, LXE)
And Jesus chooses this verse from Isaiah to quote.
Matthew 15:7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:
8 “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'”
According to the concordance, Jesus uses the word “hypocrites” seventeen times in the three synoptic gospels.
THE PUNISHMENT OF REMOVAL
Isaiah 29:14 Therefore behold, I will proceed to remove this people, and I will remove them; and I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will hide the understanding of the prudent. (CAB, LXE)
Verse 14 above from the Greek Septuagint differs from the Hebrew Masoretic. The Hebrew text does not contain the word “remove.” A comparison of the two textual traditions (see Link) reveals that in this instance, the Septuagint word choice best matches the context of this verse and the surrounding verses, both before and after. For example, a change of circumstance brought on by removal fits well with the imagery of a potter who speaks to his rejected pot in verse 16. Very commonly, potters remove an unsatisfactory clay vessel from their wheel. They crush the clay and toss the used lump back into a bulk bin to be reworked and formed into another, brand new pot. But the word “remove” is not critical, in any case. Verses 13-16 of both textual traditions display negative judgments toward “this people” Israel.
To Be Continued: Blessing upon Abraham and Jacob’s progeny in Isaiah 29:17-24
By Christina M Wilson. Published simultaneously at A Plea to Listen: Isaiah Devotional Journal 61 – justonesmallvoice.com.
In this section, Isaiah pleads with three groups of people to listen to God’s instruction. Two groups scoff, and one group hears.
Three Groups and a Savior
Chapter 28 presents all three of the people groups Isaiah frequently mentions and God’s own Chosen One.
- Israel, the northern kingdom (Ephraim, Samaria)–Isaiah 28:1-4 and 7-13
- Jerusalem, representing the southern kingdom–Isaiah 28:14-21
- The Remnant–Isaiah 28:5-6, 16
- The Savior appears in Isaiah 28:5, 16.
Complaint Against the Northern Kingdom
Group 1 (Israel): The prophet Isaiah pronounces woe upon Ephraim. Pride and drunkenness characterize their sin. God had given them a rich and productive land in Canaan, which their greed caused them to exploit, as though they were merely hired servants, rather than owners. After the enemy sweeps through like a violent storm, then the land will rest (Isaiah 28:2, LXE).
Group 3 (the Remnant): When the enemy washes away the false pride of Israel, God will leave behind a remnant of his people Isaiah 28:5). These will steward the land with just judgments and strong encouragement in the Lord (Isaiah 28:6).
The Savior (4 above): In a latter day statement, Isaiah prophesies that the Lord of hosts will himself replace Israel. “In that day, the Lord of hosts shall be the crown of hope, woven of glory, to the remnant of My people” (SAAS) (1). In the words of a popular preacher, the Lord never takes something away without putting something better in its place. God will remove the northern kingdom, which failed him, and replace the nation with himself (Messiah, the Son).
Group 1 (Israel): Verses 7-8 confirms with further detail the judgment against the nation’s leaders, given in verses 1-4.
Israel Rejects God’s Instruction
God attempted to teach his errant people. He did so simply, as to young children just weaned from milk. He gave them, “precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little,” (Isaiah 28:10 and see v. 13, ESV). But Israel neither listened nor learned. Even when the foreign invader would arrive, they still refused to listen.
The Southern Kingdom
Group 2: In Isaiah 28:14-5, the prophet turns his attention to the southern kingdom (Jerusalem). They did no better, perhaps worse, than the northern kingdom. In what appears to be a metaphor, Isaiah charges that they boldly asserted they had made a contract with death. These people, having been blessed by God, turned against God and bartered with his spiritual enemy, death. They think that evil deception will protect them from the punishment God will send.
In one of the most quoted verses of Scripture, God declares–
therefore thus says the Lord, See, I will lay for the foundations of Sion a precious, choice stone, a highly valued cornerstone for its foundations, and the one who believes in him will not be put to shame (Isaiah 28:16 NETS) (1 Peter 2:6-8, Romans 9:33 and Isaiah 8:14).
The careful reader can perceive Isaiah’s weaving together of God’s pattern. First, God called Israel as a people–Abraham and his seed. The people, under Joshua, became a nation. The nation divided into two nations after King Solomon. Both of these nations failed to remain loyal to God their king. But–however–in spite of that–God always preserved a remnant people who remained loyal to his ways. This remnant includes “whoever believes in him” and “will not be put to shame.”
God’s Warning and Instruction
God warned the nation. Isaiah 28:17-19 explains how his judgmental discipline and mercy would benefit the nation if they were to heed it. “Learn to listen, you in difficult straits, (SAAS) (1)” he pleads in Septuagint verses 19-20.
The remainder of the chapter cautions the southern nation not to mock and make sport of God’s words through the prophet. Isaiah patiently uses agriculture to describe God’s teaching method. God is not an overly harsh teacher. He proceeds step by step, everything in its order and season. As though he were a farmer, he knows how to teach all different kinds of people. He varies his instruction depending upon his purpose and the nature of the one he handles. The chapter closes by stating, “This also comes from the LORD of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom” (Isaiah 28:29 ESV).
But Do They Listen?
Chapter 29 will answer this question.
To Be Continued…
1 SAAS. "Scripture taken from the St. Athanasius Academy SeptuagintTM. Copyright © 2008 by St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
By Christina M Wilson. Posted simultaneously at Switchback-Blessing Disappears: Isaiah Devotional Journal 60 – justonesmallvoice.com
Isaiah 28-29 Septuagint Modernized NETS
Blessing Suddenly Disappears
As the reader continues in Isaiah, a pattern appears. Isaiah fills his writing with “switchbacks.” A switchback is when a pathway turns back upon itself and leads in an opposite direction. In Chapter 28, Isaiah abandons the blessing upon Israel of Chapter 27 and heads back in the direction of judgment and doom. That is, until…he switches back again. (See Switchbacks in Isaiah.)
Secondly, Chapter 27 contained strong suggestions of an end times synopsis. Isaiah 27:12-13 seemed to be writing of an ingathering that included all Israel. But here, Isaiah treats the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom separately. This is noteworthy, because Isaiah has not specifically mentioned Northern Israel (Ephraim in Isaiah 28:1) since Isaiah 17:3. Both kingdoms, as distinct from each other, have not been mentioned since Isaiah 11:13. But here, the prophet singles out Ephraim in Chapter 28 and Ariel (Jerusalem, the City of David) in Chapters 28 and 29.
Unravelling the Mystery
The fact is that Isaiah presents God as judging and condemning Israel one moment and blessing her the next. What is a reader to make of these constant flip flops?
- God is schizophrenic.
- God is a “parent” who cannot make up his mind. His hand of discipline is not to be believed. When he disciplines, he will surely change his mind and turn the judgment into blessing. Therefore, his discipline need not be taken seriously.
- God can rightfully discipline his child, Israel, and he does. However, the disciplinary judgment will not be the last word, because long ago, God promised Abraham that he would bless his seed. God cannot go back on his word of promise. Therefore, the final state must be blessing. Again, Isaiah’s pronouncements of severe judgment need not be taken too seriously.
- Isaiah addresses several different groups of people. These groups do not overlap. In this scenario, judgment is judgment and will not be rescinded. The blessing is blessing that fulfills God’s promises, but not everyone will be blessed. It is wise to pay attention and believe the words of judgment Isaiah speaks.
- My point of view is the latter, number four above.
What Groups Does Isaiah Address?
- Ephraim (northern Israel), mostly disobedient to God.
- Judah (southern Israel), mostly disobedient to God.
- A remnant from all Israel (northern and southern), repentant and mostly obedient to God.
This grouping solves the question of why the constant switching back and forth. No, God is not schizophrenic. Yes, God knows his own mind and is thoroughly consistent. Yes, God’s word is God’s word. When he speaks judgment, he means judgment and will carry it out. When he speaks blessing, he means blessing and will carry it out. God will fulfill his promise to Abraham, but most of Israel will not receive it. A repentant, contrite, obedient, faithful remnant will receive the full blessing of God.
Note that in Isaiah’s day, there were not three concrete, political groups. That is, only a northern kingdom and a southern kingdom were visible. There did not exist a political boundary for a geographical area called “Remnant.” The Old Testament remnant, a remnant people, remained hidden and scattered throughout both kingdoms. That is, there were always a few people interspersed among the nation who remained faithful to God, his word, and his law. It is fascinating to watch as God protects this remnant throughout Israel’s history.
The Manner of Blessing
Finally, the prophet makes clear that the manner of God’s blessing the remnant of his people will be through a Man of his own choosing (Isaiah 28:16).
Isaiah 28:16 therefore thus says the Lord, See, I will lay for the foundations of Sion a precious, choice stone, a highly valued cornerstone for its foundations, and the one who believes in him will not be put to shame. (NETS) (See 1 Peter 2:6)
Therefore, the focus is not on the remnant, nor so much upon God’s promise, but upon the Stone, the precious stone, the costly foundation. The focus is also upon belief in him. With this Stone for a foundation, God himself accomplishes what he intended to do. Isaiah grants no blessing to rebellious Israel.
Next Time: Examples of Isaiah’s groups in Chapters 28 and 29.
By Christina M Wilson. Published simultaneously at Blessing Israel: Isaiah Devotional Journal 59 – justonesmallvoice.com.
Isaiah 27:12-13 Septuagint Modernized
Isaiah brings his four-chapter apocalyptic vision to a close with verses 12-13 of chapter 27, the blessing on Israel. The “apocalypse,” or end time vision, began in Chapter 24. Briefly, here is an outline of these chapters in the Septuagint tradition.
- Chapter 24: Worldwide judgment, destruction; worldwide rejoicing in the Lord by a spared, “left behind” remnant (24:14).
- Chapter 25: Worldwide salvation by God in Zion and worldwide judgment on evil.
- Chapter 26: A back and forth movement between praise for worldwide salvation and statements of worldwide judgment and removal of the ungodly.
- Chapter 27: Israel–God’s judgment and blessing.
Dividing Septuagint Chapter 27
Except for verse 1, Chapter 27 speaks of Israel only. I divide this Septuagint chapter as follows.
- Isaiah 27:1 describes the final destruction of Satan. This verse best fits with Chapter 26. It provides a suitable ending for the three prior apocalyptic chapters that deal with the entire world.
- Septuagint chapter 27 gives three statements of blessing for Israel: verse 6, verse 9, and verses 12-13. Verses 2-5 in the Septuagint differ significantly from the Masoretic text. They are in fact at opposite poles (See Journal 56). While the Masoretic sees blessing for the vineyard, the Septuagint prophesies that God “has set her aside” (v. 4).
- Because the totality of chapter 27:2-11 appears to prophesy concerning Israel throughout, verses 12 to 13 best apply to Israel alone, rather than to the whole world. Christians everywhere know that they have been sought out, chosen, and accepted by God. They have been grafted into Israel’s olive tree (Romans 11:17 and elsewhere). Here though, I believe Isaiah is not describing the ingathering of Gentiles. He has already done so in chapters 25-26, and he will do so again elsewhere. But here in verses 12 and 13, I believe the text specifically speaks again of the “children of Jacob” (vs 6).
- On the other hand, there is no reason, other than chapter context, to exclude Gentiles from the meaning of verse 13. The vocabulary itself does not appear to do so.
Details of Septuagint Verses 12 and 13
12 And it shall come to pass in that day that God shall fence men off from the channel of the river as far as the Brook of Egypt; but gather one by one the children of Israel. 13 And it shall come to pass in that day that they shall blow the great trumpet, and the lost ones in the land of the Assyrians shall come, and the lost ones in Egypt, and shall worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem. (CAB, LXE) (1)
These two verse of Isaiah raise more questions than they answer. Two things are clear, however. First, these verses are not clear in their details. Second, God intends to bless the children of Israel.
1. Both verses open with the phrase, “in that day”. In this end times context, “in that day” refers to the end times. This could include any time from the advent of Christ and the spread of his kingdom through the gospel message (Isaiah 26:1-6) to Satan’s destruction near the very end of this age (Isaiah 27:1).
2. The geographical boundaries indicated in verse 12 approximate the boundaries of the land promised to Abraham by God (Genesis 13:14). These ideal boundaries reflect times of blessing and prosperity in Israel’s long history.
3. In verse 13, the “great trumpet” will call “the lost ones in the land of the Assyrians” and “the lost ones in Egypt” to worship. These boundaries reflect times of hardship and abandonment by the Lord. Assyria and Egypt are the nations to which many Israelites fled or were led before the last invasion by Babylonia. These are Gentile nations, although the reader should not forget Isaiah 19:24-25, in which God specifically blesses these peoples.
4. Placed together and in totality, the two verses seem to indicate that the in-harvesting of Israel shall be complete, encompassing all the known places where they lived, up to and including Isaiah’s day. (Greece had not yet conquered Israel, nor had Rome.) Note: The fact that Assyria and Egypt worshiped pagan deities in Isaiah’s day does not indicate that the “lost ones” include Gentiles.
The “Lost Ones”
1. What about the Septuagint phrase, “lost ones, οἱ ἀπολόμενοι,“–the “lost ones” in the land of the Assyrians and the “lost ones” in Egypt? The verb base of this noun represents a strong form of destruction. It first appears in Genesis for the destruction, or sweeping away, of Sodom. It shows up in Exodus 10:7 for the destruction of Egypt. Leviticus 7 uses the word for a cutting off in the sense of complete separation. (See Leviticus 7:20.) In Numbers 14:12 the word means “disinherit.”
2. Isaiah uses the verb form of “lost ones” frequently. Examples are Isaiah 24:12; 25:11; and 26:14. In each of these verses, the verb means to destroy, even permanently.
3. In the context of verse 13, Egypt and Assyria were enemy nations. Those “lost” there were cut off, even to the point of destruction. Therefore, when Isaiah 27:13 speaks of bringing back the “lost ones” in Egypt and Assyria, it is as though he were saying that the great trumpet will bring them back from the dead “to worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.”
4. Other biblical passages refer to Israel having been dead and resurrected. The most famous of these is Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14). Paul speaks of Israel’s having been cut off and grafted back in again (Romans 11:15, 17, 23-24). These verses display the mercy and goodness of God.
NEW TESTAMENT PARALLELS
Matthew 10:6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Matthew 15:24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
The words “lost” in the verses above use the identical Greek word base as in Septuagint Isaiah.
Jesus is saying that the people of Israel were “lost.” Further, he came to rescue them.
The Great Trumpet
“They shall blow the great trumpet” (vs 13). What trumpet is this?
1. The word “trumpet” is first used in Exodus 19:13 to call the people to God’s presence on Mt Sinai. The trumpet sounded in Israel to call the people to war, to announce victory (1 Samuel 13:3), to stop the people from fighting (2 Samuel 2:28), and to announce a new king (2 Samuel 15:10, 1 Kings 1:41, 43). The trumpet therefore signifies an important announcement or command. Yet none of these are a “great trumpet.” This particular phrase seems to be unique to Isaiah, chapter 27.
2. The purpose of the “great trumpet” is to call the “lost ones” out from Egypt and Assyria in order to “worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.”
3. The Septuagint reads that “they” shall blow the great trumpet. Who could “they” be? Could “they” be the apostles and disciples of Christ who blew the gospel trumpet?
One by One
Verse 12 in the Septuagint states, “do ye gather one by one the children of Israel.” The text does not indicate who “they” are. (The Masoretic text displays a second person plural, “You will be gleaned one by one, O people of Israel.”)
1. The Septuagint uses the word “gather, συναγάγετε.” This word is a verb form of the noun “synagogue.” The Hebrew texts, depending upon translation, use the metaphorical language of threshing grain or beating off fruit from a tree.
2. The gathering in the Septuagint and in Masoretic texts is to be done “one by one.”
3. Ordinarily, grain on the threshing floor is not gathered up “grain by grain” or “one by one” after the chaff has been removed. Rather, the totality of the threshed grain is gathered together in heaps. Neither is fruit that is beaten, or knocked, from a tree gathered “one by one” out in the orchard. Rather, everything that falls is collected and separated out later. Isaiah uses his language carefully to indicate that the harvest is not bulk, but individual, one by one.
These two verses in Isaiah 27, verses 12 and 13, stun with their brevity and enormity of meaning.
1. They represent a reversal in the fortunes of Israel. Septuagint Isaiah 27 in its entirety describes a nation whom God rejects. The vineyard image in verses 2-5 portray judgment. Verses 7-8 and 10-11 expand the theme of exile.
2. Verses 6 and 9 stand out like large boulders in a rapidly flowing stream. The torrential waters flow around these verses of blessing, but not over them. Similarly, God’s wrath flows around his people, but does not drown them completely. God’s mercy is like a boulder that will not be moved (Matthew 7:24-25).
3. Finally, verses 12 and 13 describe the manner of God’s blessing upon his “lost” people.
God’s promise of blessing upon Israel stands today. What are the details of this blessing?
First, God does not and will not bless stubborn resistance to his ways. People who persist in rebellion will be removed and cut off from his people and worse, his own presence (vv 2-5, 7-8, 9-11).
Second, some will turn to the Lord, crying, “Let us make peace with him, let us make peace” (vs 5). These are the “children of Jacob” from whom “Israel shall bud and blossom.” “The world shall be filled with his fruit.” (The latter quotes are from Septuagint verse 6.)
Verse 9 speaks of atonement and sanctification. It speaks of atonement, because God himself will take away their sin. It speaks of sanctification, because the people shall themselves destroy and remove all their idolatry and signs of it.
Finally, verses 12 and 13 describe how Israel’s “fruit” (vs 6) shall be harvested.
THE HARVEST–VERSES 12-13
The harvest will be of a remnant of the people. Not everyone born to Israel will be saved. The prior sections establish this. God makes no promises to the persistently rebellious. Even more specifically, verse 12 spells out that “the children of Israel” will be gathered “one by one.”
“One by one” indicates several things. One, the phrase pronounces God’s sovereignty of choice. Selection is not by an automatic standard. Second, “one by one” indicates care and precision. God cares about each individual child. Third, and most importantly, “one by one” indicates the individuality of the selection process. The nation as a whole, as a group, shall not be harvested. Each grain or piece of fruit individually will be examined and either collected or rejected on its own merit.
John 1:11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, (ESV)
Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (ESV)
Matthew 25:32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (ESV)
The advent of Jesus Christ, God’s chosen one, Messiah, changed everything for Israel. God did indeed set the nation aside, as a national theocracy. When its fruit ripened, the seed emerged. The flesh of the fruit then rotted and died. God wanted the eternal Seed, not the fleshly, outer husk. Further, the advent of Israel’s Messiah introduced a new standard of acceptance based on God’s grace through faith in Christ. Nevertheless, God gloriously fulfilled Old Testament Israel’s purpose. Messiah came. The physical seed of Abraham and David had been preserved. The eternal king was born of their genetic line. And, God spared a remnant of the people. Even though it’s a remnant, there is no limit to its size. The eternal kingdom of Christ can be infinitely large. God is willing. He is for descendants of Jacob, just as he is for all people–descendants of Cain, Ishmael, Esau, and every single ethnicity on the globe. Septuagint Isaiah 27, which concerns Israel, meshes well with the New Testament gospel message: God is for us.
God is for us, through his Son. Are you, dear reader, for him?
1 The Complete Apostles’ Bible. Translated by Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton. Revised and Edited by Paul W. Esposito, and, The English Majority Text Version (EMTV) of the Holy Bible, New Testament. Copyright © 2002-2004 Paul W. Esposito.
By Christina M Wilson. Simultaneously published at Israel’s Exile: Isaiah Devotional Journal 58 – justonesmallvoice.com.
Isaiah 27:7-13 Septuagint Modernized
Isaiah describes Israel’s exile in chapter 27:7-11. In its overall content the Septuagint (Greek) and Masoretic (Hebrew) texts agree. Most commentators also agree that these verses describe Israel’s exile. The chart below displays one translation from each textual tradition. The Complete Apostle’s Bible updates Lancelot Brenton’s translation of the Septuagint to modern English.
How Can the Reader Determine that This Passage Describes the Exile?
This passage presents one occasion when placing the two textual traditions side by side can help the reader determine the passage’s meaning. It is okay to do this. For example, when reading an English translation of the Septuagint (Greek), one occasionally finds a reference to the Hebrew text in the footnotes. And, conversely, when reading an English translation of the Masoretic (Hebrew based), one occasionally finds references to the Septuagint. In other words, modern translators often consult both textual versions when searching for God’s intended meaning.
Another helpful practice for verses with difficult wording is to consult many same language translations. Some free websites offer online readers a choice of multiple translations. Websites I often use are ONLINE BIBLE (bibliatodo.com) and NETS: Electronic Edition (upenn.edu). Both these sites offer highly readable English translations of the Greek Septuagint. The first site also provides multiple translations based upon the Hebrew text (Masoretic). Additionally, it presents the option of a parallel Bible format. (See the link at the very top of this and every post, titled Septuagint Modernized.)
A Look at the Details
Once the reader has chosen her Bibles and translations, she can compare details. Examination of the chart above reveals the following.
1. Verse 7 asks rhetorical questions which grammatically require the answer, “No.” NET Bible interprets this verse, “Has the LORD struck down Israel like he did their oppressors? Has Israel been killed like their enemies?” That translation is clear. The Septuagint, on the other hand, leaves the reader unsure of who “he” is. Could “he” possibly be God? Of course, in the Christian tradition, the answer would be “yes.” God himself was smitten and slain. However, this verse alone would not be enough evidence to establish that. We will ponder this in our hearts as we choose the Masoretic here.
2. No doubt exists that the language of verse 8 is difficult. The metaphor is that of a man divorcing his wife. Answering the questions of verse 7, verse 8 replies that no, God did not kill his people. Rather, he sent them away, as in a divorce. Nevertheless, it was not a congenial divorce, but God the sender was angry.
Hebrews 9:10 echoes this language, “then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second.” While the Septuagint translates the verb ἀνελεῖν (a-nay-leen) in Isaiah 27:8 as “slay” or “kill” (NETS), the translation in Hebrews is “does away with,” in the sense of to remove in order to replace. (Yes, it does appear that the Bible introduces replacement theology.) In either case, it is a permanent removal.
3. In light of verse 8, verse 9 follows smoothly. This verse explains the purpose of the exile, or divorce. God intends to bless Jacob after they have purified themselves by removing all the objects of their idolatry. John the Apostle echoes this in 1 John 3:2-3. As God is pure, so must his people be. In both Isaiah and 1 John, the believer bears the responsibility for removing idols from themselves. God does the atoning (LXX vs 7), but believers must actively participate in their own sanctification.
4. Verse 10 clearly describes the forsaken land of Judah during the exile.
5. Verse 11 details the horror of the exile by describing the parched brittleness of abandoned Israel, as though it were a vineyard of dead branches fit for burning by gadabout women (LXX). In the New Testament, Jesus echoes a similar metaphor while laboriously trekking to Calvary. He redirects the weeping of the women who follow him, “”Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:28-31 ESV) Isaiah then confirms the image with very stark, non-metaphorical language, “for it is a people of no understanding; therefore He that made them shall have no pity upon them, and He that formed them shall have no mercy upon them.”
There is yet more to this verse. The prophet writes in 27:11, “for it is a people of no understanding; therefore he that made them …, and he that formed them…” These phrases declare God’s judgment upon his handiwork. His people have no understanding of who he is, nor of their relationship to him. They do not understand his ways, nor his requirements of them. This is their choice. In setting the nation aside, God asserts his rights as creator and craftsman. Surely, the potter has the right to judge and set aside his own pot?
The added testimony of the New Testament, as presented in the several quotations above, gives the reader a distinct impression that Isaiah may have been speaking of more than a physical and temporary exile to Babylon. The strength of the vocabulary Isaiah chooses indicates that the passion and action of God were equally strong. What God does to Israel here is no light undertaking.
Verses 7-11 describe Judah’s exile in consequence of God’s anger and rejection. On the other hand, verse 27:6 (Isaiah 27:6), verse 9 (Isaiah 27:9), and verses 11-12 (Isaiah 27:11-12) speak positively of God’s blessing. This is an example of the way in which Isaiah jumps back and forth between blessing and denouncing. Without understanding, a reader might think that God is “schizophrenic.” But we know he is not. So, how do we interpret these rapid alternations?
We will seek to answer this question in the next post.
To Be Continued…
By Christina M Wilson. Simultaneously published at Already/Not Yet in Isaiah 27:6-Devotional Journal 57 – justonesmallvoice.com
Isaiah’s Prophesy Fulfilled
Christians believe Isaiah to be a genuine prophet of the Lord God. They consider his words to be an important part of their Scripture. They also believe that Isaiah 27:6 has been at least partially fulfilled. This is the “already” aspect of “already/not yet.”
Many Christians believe in the already/not yet (1) fulfillment of the prophecies concerning “that day.” “That day” is the day of Jesus Christ. Fulfillment began with the Christ’s forerunner, John the Baptist, and Jesus’s own birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. It continued with the amazingly rapid spread of the Gospel message throughout most of the known world in the days of the apostles, including Paul. The Gospel and kingdom of Christ continue to spread to many peoples, nations, and languages throughout the world. This is the “already” of Isaiah’s fulfilled prophecy. Many of the Old Testament prophecies have already been fulfilled in Christ.
Obvious to everyone, our world continues in its chaotic, often evil ways. It is plain that all aspects of Old Testament prophecy have “not yet” been fulfilled. Perfect peace, harmony, health, and well-being have not yet arrived.
Is Isaiah 27:6 “Already” or “Not Yet?”
27:6 they that are coming are the children of Jacob. Israel shall bud and blossom, and the world shall be filled with his fruit. (CAB, Septuagint)
27:6 In days to come (1) Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots and fill the whole world with fruit. (ESV) [ESV Note 1) Hebrew: In those to come]
1. If the reader apprehends this verse as limited to ethnicity and nation, then a strong argument could be made that this verse has “not yet” been fulfilled. Indeed, some might say that in the limited sense of ethnicity and nation, the verse does not even bear an “already” aspect. For example, the religious center of Israel, its temple, was destroyed in 70 CE. It has “not yet” been rebuilt. Whether or not an ethnic Israel has blossomed and filled the whole world with its fruit is plausibly arguable.
2. If the reader apprehends this verse in a broader context, then definitely, the “already” has been abundantly fulfilled in Christ and his kingdom. The “not yet” remains to be seen, since the end of the age has not yet come.
Isaiah’s Own Intention
Did Isaiah intend the statement in 27:6 to have the limited, ethnic and national meaning? Or, did Isaiah foresee the coming of a kingdom of God that would embrace the whole world? Our greatest recourse is to consider this verse in the context of the book of Isaiah in its entirety and in the context of all of Scripture. This is the Christian viewpoint.
Christians believe in Christ, who quoted Isaiah. The gospels amply quote Isaiah in the context of Jesus Christ. Further, the letters of the New Testament greatly expound the meanings of Old Testament prophets, including Isaiah.
No matter how great the biblical historian, no one but God knows what Isaiah held in his heart (1 Corinthians 2:7-14). Nor does anyone know what the hearts of Isaiah’s listeners may or may not have comprehended. Isaiah greatly complained that his listeners were hard of hearing, hard of heart, and disobedient to God. Christians should not interpret biblical truths according to their standard.
Scripture, however, is God-breathed. God knows both his own intention and what the heart of Isaiah contained. The totality of Scripture, therefore, is our final authority, not “grammar,” nor history.
What New Testament Authors Speak About “Spiritual” Interpretations
It is a fact that on the day of Pentecost, God gave the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is already here. Jesus said, “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things (John 14:26 ESV).
The Apostle Peter made good use of the fact of the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (ESV)
Paul also appealed to the Holy Spirit to explain his understanding of the things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:7 Instead we speak the wisdom of God, hidden in a mystery, that God determined before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it. If they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But just as it is written, “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him.” 10 God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. 13 And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is understood by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him? But we have the mind of Christ. (Co 2:7 NET)
How Can Today’s Readers Discern Isaiah’s Meaning?
The Apostles Paul and John taught that all Christians receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9 and context; 1 John 3:24). Therefore, God has made Scripture accessible to the understanding of all Christians (1 John 2:27). Since it is by the Spirit that Christians discern Scripture, then if the Spirit himself gives a “spiritual” interpretation to the words of the prophet, so be it. How does a reader know what Isaiah means? She know by prayerfully reading all of Isaiah and all of what the New Testament speaks about Isaiah and the same topics of which Isaiah speaks.
Many Christian commentators agree that Isaiah 27:6 refers to an “already” fulfillment in the current kingdom of Christ in the hearts of believers throughout the world. Others reserve this prophecy for an ethnic and national Israel at an unknown future moment. As a Gentile believer in Christ, my preference coincides with the New Testament viewpoint that Christ is himself the fulfillment of all prophecy. Based upon the entirety of Isaiah’s message (which, Lord willing, we will get to) and the entirety of the New Testament, I believe that Isaiah foresaw this kingdom of Messiah and rejoiced in it.
Reader, what about you?
1 “Already not yet” is a term used widely by many commentators and pastors. It did not originate in this blog. By Googling “already/not yet,” the reader can begin to find a multitude of references that use this descriptively apt phrase.
By Christina M Wilson. Text published Simultaneously at The Dragon and a Vineyard: Isaiah Devotional Journal 56 – justonesmallvoice.com
Isaiah 27:1–The Very End
Isaiah foretells the very end of this age in Isaiah 27:1. As such, this verse fits better with Isaiah 26 and what preceded it than with Isaiah 27. See “Back and Forth Spiritual War” in Journal 54 (1).
Isaiah 27:1 In that day God shall bring His holy and great and strong sword upon the dragon, even the serpent that flees, upon the dragon, the crooked serpent; He shall destroy the dragon. (CAB, LXE)
Notes for the Orthodox Study Bible (Septuagint text) state, “The sword is Christ, the Incarnate God, who will slay the dragon, Satan.” (2) This accords with the Apostle John’s use of these words in the book of Revelation. See Revelation 12:1-17, especially Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2; and Revelation 20:10. The final and complete destruction of Satan occurs near the very end of Scripture and marks the end of this creation. Chapter 21 introduces the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:1).
The evidence that 27:1 fits best with Chapter 26, rather than with 27 is this: 1) Other parts of Scripture (see above) interpret the various animal names of Isaiah 27:1 as synonyms for Satan. 2) Satan is finally destroyed. 3) Satan’s destruction at the very end of this age of human history is applicable to the entire world and all of humanity. 4) Chapter 26 concerns the world, and chapter 27 concerns Israel. 5) Therefore, verse 27:1 is the conclusion of Christ’s victory for the whole world, i.e., Chapter 26.
Isaiah 27:2-6–The Vineyard
Septuagint (Greek) and Masoretic (Hebrew) Textual Differences
I. A PRIOR VINEYARD PASSAGE
Many authors compare this passage of the vineyard with Isaiah’s prior passage in Isaiah 5:1-7. That vineyard was profitless, in that it yielded wild grapes (vv 2, 4), or “thorns” in the Septuagint.
II. THE MASORETIC VINEYARD (Link to Parallel Versions: ISAIAH 27:2-5, Septuagint and Masoretic side by side)
In Isaiah, the opening phrase “in that day” indicates a time future to Isaiah, the era of Messiah. There is a pleasant vineyard that inspires the LORD himself to break into song. The picture the song about the vineyard presents lies in striking contrast to the vineyard passage that begins in Isaiah 5:1.
In Chapter 27, the first person speaker, “I, the LORD,” describes in verse how mindfully he protects and cares for the vineyard. As an example of his passion, in verse 4, he even (poetically) wishes that the vineyard had thorns and briers that he could battle against and burn up. The ESV text does not indicate whether the thorns and briers would be internal enemies growing out of Israel itself, or external enemies. In either event, the LORD would destroy and burn them all. Or, even better, the LORD invites these enemies to come to him for protection and to make peace with him. Overall, this is a positive, kindly picture of the vineyard. Verse 6 follows, and there is no contradiction between it and the previous verses 2-5.
27:6 In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots and fill the whole world with fruit. ESV
III. THE SEPTUAGINT VINEYARD (Link to Parallel Versions: ISAIAH 27:2-5, Septuagint and Masoretic side by side)
27:2 In that day there shall be a fair vineyard, and a desire to commence a song concerning it. 3 I am a strong city, a city in a siege; in vain shall I water it; for it shall be taken by night, and by day the wall shall fall. 4 There is no woman that has not taken hold of it; who will set me to watch stubble in the field? Because of this enemy I have set her aside; therefore on this account the Lord has done all that He appointed. 5 I am burned up; they that dwell in her shall cry, Let us make peace with Him, let us make peace;
Septuagint verse 2 begins just as the Masoretic. It opens, “In that day.” The statement of a “fair,” or pleasant, vineyard follows. This vineyard also inspires song. Here in the Septuagint, however, the LORD seems not to be the speaker. The “I” more likely is the vineyard itself, in a metaphorical comparison to a strong city. The last time this nearly identical phrase presented itself was Isaiah 26:1. In that verse, the people of Judah sing, “We have a strong city,” with reference to themselves.
The Septuagint in 27:2 makes an immediate turn, however, departing from the Masoretic of that same verse. In the Septuagint, the city is in siege. Quickly, the speaker appears to change, although not identified. The text uses only pronouns throughout. The caretaker of the vineyard, possibly the Lord, waters it in vain. The vineyard shall be captured by night, and in the morning, its wall will fall (See 2 Kings 25:10-11).
Verse 4 poetically describes the utter collapse of the vineyard/city. The “I” in this verse appears to be the Lord, admitting that he used the warring enemy as the occasion in which he set his vineyard (Israel) aside. Returning to third person, an unnamed narrator states that in this manner, through the warring actions of an enemy, the Lord (whom the text names for the first time) accomplished all that he had planned. In other words, in these verses Isaiah states that the Lord accomplished the destruction he had appointed for Judah and Jerusalem. (Isaiah uses as prophetic past tense, since the Babylonian invasion is still future to Isaiah’s time.)
In verse 5 the vineyard/city itself speaks and is identified, “‘I am burned up,’” they that dwell in her shall cry, ‘Let us make peace with Him, let us make peace;’” The destruction of the vineyard/city works into its inhabitants a spirit of repentance and turning toward the Lord. They surrender.
The reader can take note that there is nothing in this version (LXX) that does not accord with what Isaiah states elsewhere. Rather, unlike the Masoretic text, there is a smooth flow into verse 6, “they that are coming are the children of Jacob. Israel shall bud and blossom, and the world shall be filled with his fruit (LXE).”
IV. THE SEPTUAGINT AND MASORETIC JOIN
Both the Septuagint and Masoretic agree on verse 6. Israel shall bud and blossom, and the world shall be filled with its fruit. From this point to the end of the chapter, both textual traditions remain in basic agreement. Commentators, however, do not agree on the specific meaning of the text. The persistence of unreferenced pronouns (they are not identified with specific nouns) and poetic metaphors contribute to the difficulty of comprehending Isaiah’s own meaning.
To Be Continued
1 Some commentators place Isaiah 27:1 with Chapter 26 and others with Chapter 27.
2 Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, Elk Grove, California. The Orthodox Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008.
By Christina M Wilson. Published under a different title at: Evangelistic Switchbacks: Isaiah 26-Journal 55 – justonesmallvoice.com
Evangelistic Switchbacks and Spiritual Warfare-Isaiah 26
Evangelistic switchbacks alternate between the benefits of belief and the condemnation of resistance. First and foremost, God through his Holy Spirit wrote a strong evangelistic appeal in Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16). That is why in both the Psalter and Isaiah the reader does not get too far into blessings for the faithful without encountering condemnation for God’s enemies. The divine author, God, embeds in these frequent contrasts his evangelistic appeal: Leave the one and join the other. Your very life is at stake. Isaiah 26 provides a great example of the evangelistic nature of the Bible.
The Opening Salvo
In the first six verses, Isaiah 26:1-6, the prophet provides a succinct overview of the outcome of all things. On the one hand, those who hope in the Lord forever will live securely and peacefully in the Lord’s strong city. He constructed the city, and he protects it with walls of salvation. On the other hand, God will bring down those who live in their “lofty” pride. He will place them beneath the feet of the gentle and humble. Those who once trampled others will themselves be trampled upon.
God’s heart, however, is open. He wants to bless everyone who chooses his blessing.
Open the gates… Isaiah 26:2
A Second Round
Isaiah then alternates back from describing the outcome for those who deny God (vs 6) to the outcome for his hopeful ones (vs 7). Here then is the second round of blessing.
Isaiah 26:7 The way of the godly is made straight; the way of the godly is also prepared. 8 For the way of the Lord is judgment; we have hoped in Your name, and on the remembrance of You, 9 which our soul longs for; my spirit seeks You very early in the morning, O God, for Your commandments are a light on the earth; learn righteousness, you that dwell upon the earth. (CAB, LXE)
MESSIANIC DETAILS TO NOTICE
1. The author uses the phrase, “the way,” three times in two verses. The first two are, “the way of the godly.” The third is, “the way of the Lord.” The verses read, “The way of the godly is made straight.” “The way of the godly is also prepared.” “For the way of the Lord is judgment.”
Isaiah means here that it is good to follow “the way” of the Lord–his judgments, commandments, and precepts. The whole paragraph is a comfort, whose setting is the intimacy of prayer with a loving God who brings light to humankind’s understanding through his words and teaching.
2. Notice the change from plural “we” in verse 8 to singular “my” in verse 9. “My spirit seeks you very early in the morning, O God.” It is possible that the Lord himself is praying this prayer from the prophetic vantage of his incarnation. This verse rings with similarity to Mark 1:35, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”
4. Jesus refers to himself as “the way” in John 14:6. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” The book of Acts in several places refers to early Christians as followers of “the way.” Use of “Way” as an early name of Christianity is common in Acts. For example, Acts 19:23 states, “About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way.”
5. The often repeated communion formula, “This, do in remembrance of me,” (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24, 25) carries an echo of Isaiah’s sentence which reads, “We have hoped in Your name, and on the remembrance of You, which our soul longs for…” (Isaiah 26:8-9).
6. That Jesus is the “light” of God is a major theme of John the Apostle, both in his gospel and his first letter.
Verses 7-9 comfort the godly by the blessed communion with God through meditation and remembrance of his way, his judgments (precepts and discipline), his light, and indeed his presence. Verse 10 switches back to the contrasting end of the “ungodly.”
Isaiah 26:10 For the ungodly one is put down; no one who will not learn righteousness on the earth, shall be able to do the truth; let the ungodly be taken away, that he may not see the glory of the Lord. (CAB, LXE)
The following verse presents an enigma. Who are “they”? (Isaiah 26:11). The connotation is negative, for when the Lord “exalted” his arm, “they knew it not.” Who are the people most blind, who failed to know the Lord when he came? Paul writes, “None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8). If “they” are God’s Old Testament people, then the “untaught” are the Gentiles who became zealous for the blessings. Paul writes, “… whoever believes in him will not be put to shame” (Romans 9:33).
Isaiah may hint and whisper at the gospel and its adverse reception by God’s people here in chapter 26. In later chapters, however, he spells out his meaning boldly and clearly. See, for example, Isaiah 65:1 and Romans 10:20. What is loud and clear in chapter 26, however, is that the prophet describes two camps of people with two very different outcomes. Isaiah 26:11 closes with, “… and now fire shall devour the adversaries.”
The Rounds Continue
Verses 12 and 13 present another direct prayer.
12 O Lord our God, give us peace, for You have rendered to us all things. 13 O Lord our God, take possession of us; O Lord, we know not any other beside You; we name Your name.
This prayer of confession (in the sense of personal testimony) suits the remnant, rather than the nation of Israel as a whole. The nation remains apostate throughout Isaiah, while the remnant clings to God. The prayer evidences the passionate pleading of those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6).
The switchback to the evil “they” occurs in Isaiah 26:14-15. The Septuagint text (LXX) reads differently than the Masoretic in verses 13-15. (Find both texts HERE in parallel versions.) While verse 13 in the LXX confesses the abiding trust of the Lord’s faithful, the Masoretic indicates the various foreign powers or gods who have dominated them in their history. However, Judah to this point in their history has remained independent of foreign “lords.” Further, their heart has not remained faithful to their one, true God. That is Isaiah’s precise point, as he attempts again and again to call them back.
The Masoretic verses from 13-15 require a virtuous (repentant) Israel as a nation, which does not exist in Isaiah, nor in the Gospels nor Acts. The Septuagint, however, in these same three verses, represents a faithful remnant. The Masoretic requires a “but” (other lords than you dominated us, but…). The Septuagint flows smoothly without abrupt contrasts. Both versions, however, indicate that the evil will be punished. The “glorious of the earth” in the Septuagint are the lofty, prideful of heart. They live in the “strong cities” of verse 5 and are the “ungodly” of verse 10.
PRAYER OF THE FAITHFUL
Another switchback from the ungodly of verses 14-15 to the faithful godly occurs in verse 16. The section beginning there continues as a prayer of direct address to the Lord in verses 16-19 of the Septuagint.
Isaiah 26:16 Lord, in affliction I remembered You; Your chastening was to us with small affliction. 17 And as a woman in labor draws near to be delivered, and cries out in her pain; so have we been to Your beloved. 18 We have conceived, O Lord, because of Your fear, and have been in pain, and have brought forth the breath of Your salvation, which we have wrought upon the earth; we shall not fall, but all that dwell upon the land shall fall. 19 The dead shall rise, and they that are in the tombs shall be raised, and they that are in the earth shall rejoice; for the dew from You is healing to them; but the land of the ungodly shall perish.19 The dead shall rise, and they that are in the tombs shall be raised, and they that are in the earth shall rejoice; for the dew from You is healing to them; but the land of the ungodly shall perish.
The gospel accounts of the faithful few who welcomed Jesus’s birth can help the reader understand the faithful remnant represented here in the Septuagint. The prayers and exclamations of Elizabeth, Mary, and Zechariah resemble this four verse prayer in Isaiah. The devotion and hunger for the Lord’s salvation are the same in each. Simeon and Anna, both present in the temple when Jesus’s parents brought him to be dedicated (Luke 2:22-38) are further examples of the kind of people who pray the prayer in Isaiah 26:16-19, Septuagint.
The difference between the Septuagint and the Masoretic begins in verse 16. The Septuagint begins the prayer in first person. The speaker acknowledges the chastening of the Lord upon them. The prayer is intimate, personal. This is not so in the Masoretic account. The Septuagint, however, draws the beautiful point that the supplicant is mother of the Lord’s “beloved.” The “beloved” is the Christ (Matthew 3:17; Revelation 12:1-2, 5). This prayer of God’s faithful remnant reveals a most beautiful love between them and the Messiah to whom they gave birth.
Both the Septuagint and the Masoretic represent the pain of childbirth in verse 17 similarly. But verse 18, is very different.
Masoretic: We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen. (Isaiah 26:18 ESV)
Septuagint: We have conceived, O Lord, because of Your fear, and have been in pain, and have brought forth the breath of Your salvation, which we have wrought upon the earth; we shall not fall, but all that dwell upon the land shall fall. (CAB, LXE)
An Exciting Verse in the Septuagint !!
In Masoretic Isaiah 26:18, all is “wind.” Wind in that version represents futility, vanity, emptiness, a frustration to the purpose of childbearing. It is also very difficult to visualize concretely. Further, in the Masoretic, Israel has not wrought deliverance, nor have the wicked been deposed (“Neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen”). Or, as other translations state, they have not come to life. But in the Septuagint version, the word “wind” is translated to mean “spirit” or “breath.” “We have brought forth the breath [spirit] of Your salvation.”
In other words, the remnant, in spite of all the affliction that came their way, succeeded in fulfilling the mission God had given them. They did give birth to Messiah. The faithful remnant achieved what God intended from the beginning. The purpose of all those genealogies had been fulfilled. The woman of Revelation 12:1-6 gave birth!
The Victory Cry
Verse 19 in the Masoretic presents a shocking jolt from the sense of verse 18 in those texts. The jump is so huge that explanation of it falters. The Septuagint flows smoothly, however. Verse 19 raises a cry of victory based upon the successful birth of verse 18.
19 The dead shall rise, and they that are in the tombs shall be raised, and they that are in the earth shall rejoice; for the dew from You is healing to them… (CAB, LXE)
Simply put, the Septuagint prophesies Messiah’s birth in 26:18 and shouts out the gloriously wonderful outcome in verse 19. The Masoretic shares the joy of verse 19, but misses the prequel, the preparatory buildup of verse 18.
Following these magnificent blessings, Isaiah switches back to a pronouncement of doom upon the ungodly. It is very short, occupying only the latter clause of verse 19.
19 …but the land of the ungodly shall perish. (CAB, LXE)
Unfortunately, the Masoretic texts miss this contrast.
SWITCHBACK: THE LORD REPLIES WITH ENCOURAGEMENT
Following the brief but poignant outcome for the “land of the ungodly” in the last clause of verse 19, verses 20-21 close the chapter with the Lord’s reply to his faithful remnant’s prayer in the prior verses.
Isaiah 26:20 provides the outcome for the faithful people. The Lord bids them to shelter with patient endurance for a little while longer.
19… but the land of the ungodly shall perish. 20 Go, my people, enter into your closets, shut your door, hide yourself for a little season, until the anger of the Lord has passed away.
Revelation 6:9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. (ESV)
SWITCHBACK: FINAL OUTCOME FOR THE UNGODLY
21 For behold, the Lord is bringing wrath from His holy place on those that dwell upon the earth; the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall not cover her slain. (CAB, LXE)
A DETAIL, YET IMPORTANT: Notice how the outcome of verse 21 in the Septuagint corresponds in parallel with the outcome of verse 18. In verse 18, Isaiah writes, “we shall not fall, but all that dwell upon the land shall fall.” Here in verses 20-21, the outcomes are the same. God’s godly ones will hide under his protection (verses 18 and 20), and the stubbornly ungodly will fall (verses 19 and 21). Because of the different text of Masoretic Isaiah 26:18-19, that textual tradition loses the internal correspondence contained in the Septuagint.
A Summary Chart of Isaiah 26 Septuagint
A Reader’s Personal Response
As a reader, I find that there is no such thing as reading quickly through Isaiah. (This is also true of most non-narrative Scripture.) It seems that the slower one reads, the more treasure she uncovers. On the other hand, even a fast reading of Isaiah reveals the main themes of blessing for the repentant faithful in Christ, Messiah, and condemnation for the unfaithful, those who rebel against God’s word. Chapter 26 excels in its illustration of these contrasting themes.
A Look Ahead
Chapter 27 opens with a new section beginning once again with the phrase, “In that day.” Chapter 27 sums up the outcome for Satan himself.
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Isaiah’s Apocalypse Continues
Review and Overview
1. Wrathful Judgment
After he finished the details of the nations, Isaiah began relating his apocalyptic, or end times, vision. Isaiah’s apocalypse continues from Isaiah 24:1 through 27:13. Chapter 24 focuses on the final judgment of the human system, as we know it. He sets his theme in verse 1 (Isaiah 24:1) and continues through verse 20. This portion appears further developed by the Apostle John in Revelation.
2. Glorious Salvation
Set against the destruction of those who oppose God, the prophet describes a glorious salvation.
1. He contrasts the wrathful judgment that strips away the harvest of wickedness (Isaiah 24:12-13) with the reappearance of a spared remnant (“they that are left on the land,” Septuagint). Isaiah 24:15-16 is a “mini” Book of Acts (1), as it describes a gospel message taking hold in the “islands of the sea,” (Septuagint). Isaiah 24:21-22 sound remarkably similar to Revelation 20:1-3.
2. The Septuagint presents a beautifully worded verse, “And the brick shall decay, and the wall shall fall; for the Lord shall reign from out of Sion, and out of Jerusalem, and shall be glorified before his elders” (Isaiah 24:23 LXE). This single verse fairly well sums up Ephesians 2:11-16, especially verse 14. Ephesians 2:14 states, “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility (ESV).
3. Who is the Lord (Yahweh) in Isaiah 24:23? The verse says, “The Lord… shall be glorified before his elders.” Is it possible for God Almighty (the Father) to have “elders?” Wouldn’t this verse be more fitting for the Lord Messiah, Christ? Indeed, Christ actually was glorified before his “elders,” Moses and Elijah, in the Transfiguration of Matthew 17:1-6 and Luke 9:28-35.
3. Back and Forth Spiritual War
In summary, Isaiah presents a long section on wrathful judgment in chapter 24, interrupted by a shorter section concerning salvation of the willing. Then, in chapter 25, he presents a long section rejoicing in salvation. He interrupts this by a short section to tell the end of the wicked. Next, in the section from Isaiah 26:1-27:1, Isaiah combines the two themes of judgment for the faithful (salvation) and judgment against the wicked (condemnation) in more rapid succession, interweaving these throughout.
4. The Apocalypse Continues
Finally, the remainder of Isaiah’s apocalypse continues through the end of chapter 27. This chapter describes Israel’s future. However, Isaiah doesn’t name “Israel” per se. Rather, he uses metaphors and the word Jacob.
A Peek Ahead
This blog will continue with further details of Isaiah 26, Lord willing. Please stay tuned.