By Christina M Wilson. Published simultaneously at King Hezekiah-Overview: Isaiah Devotional Journal 76 – justonesmallvoice.com.
Isaiah 36-37 Septuagint Modernized NETS
King Hezekiah-Part One: Overview
Four narrative chapters concerning King Hezekiah bring the first portion of the prophetic book of Isaiah to a close. At the same time, these chapters serve to introduce the latter half of Isaiah. Barry Webb calls them a “bridge” between the two major portions of the book (1).
Even casual readers will notice that the first portion of Isaiah differs from the latter portion in tone and content. Speaking in general terms, the first portion represents God speaking harshly to his people in terms of accusation and judgment. Historically, the first portion encompasses the permanent carrying off into captivity of the northern kingdom. It also prophesies the carrying off of Judah into exile more than a century later.
Isaiah also judges the nations in the harshest of terms, providing much end time material. Not all the end times, or eschatological, material is bad news, however. Interspersed throughout the judgment of the nations are passages of hope in a future Messiah. This Messiah will bless not just Judah and Jerusalem, but the whole world. This includes Gentiles.
The Lord speaks more fully in the second portion of the book. He develops in greater detail the nature of the coming Messiah. And, for the first time, he introduces the suffering which will characterize Messiah’s life. Overall, however, Isaiah’s message is one of comfort, hope, restitution, and glory.
Who Is King Hezekiah?
Four chapters of straight narrative in the prophetic book of Isaiah is unusual in itself. These chapters resemble a stand alone packet. Indeed, they are a packet, because they appear in 2 Kings 18:13, 17-20:21 in much the same form. This history appears in 2 Chronicles 32:9-26, as well, though shorter. 2 Chronicles devotes four entire chapters to Hezekiah’s complete reign, 2 Chronicles 29-32. Does a reader get the impression that there is something about King Hezekiah which God wants us to grasp?
2 Chronicles records this about King Hezekiah:
20 Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and faithful before the LORD his God. 21 And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered. (2 Chronicles 31:20-21 ESV)
Scripture also reports this:
22 So the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and he provided for them on every side. (2 Chronicles 32:22 ESV)
Christianity’s “Every Person”
Hezekiah (though he predates the incarnation) represents what it means to follow Christ and be “Christian.” Within the Christian world, he would be an “every person.” Scripture makes clear that Hezekiah, as an “every person,” was not perfect (Isaiah 38:3 and 39:6-8). Concerning his imperfections, he resembles King David. But also like David, Hezekiah’s heart of faith, expressed by his actions, remained loyal and steadfastly true to his God. I believe the Bible contains so many chapters devoted to Hezekiah’s life and actions because God holds him up as a model for us to imitate.
Facts of King Hezekiah’s Reign
Isaiah’s period of prophecy and King Hezekiah’s reign mostly overlap (Isaiah 1:1 and 39:8). Apparently, Isaiah ceased prophesying some time before Hezekiah died (Isaiah 1:1). This extensive overlap carried practical implications. Because of Isaiah’s physical proximity to Jerusalem and its king, the prophet and Hezekiah interacted on major occasions, such as the invasion by the Assyrians. Also, because of Isaiah’s importance as a prophet, he would naturally have much to say to and about Judah’s king.
God himself excoriated the “apostate children” in Isaiah 30:1 forward (Septuagint). In the post for that chapter, I disagreed with many commentators by making the case that verses 1-18 applied not to Judah but to Israel. Given the Bible’s witness to the favor God granted King Hezekiah and his faithful heart, I stand by that assessment. God would never speak to his faithful children using the words he uses to chastise the hard hearted, distant, and disobedient children of chapter 30. Rather, when Scripture does portray the failings of Hezekiah’s character (Isaiah 39 and 2 Chronicles 32:24-31 Septuagint), it does so without the harsh, condemnatory words of Isaiah 30:1-17. The link to the prior post is here: ISAIAH 30 SEPTUAGINT-TWO KINGDOMS: JOURNAL 64.
1 Webb, Barry. The Message of Isaiah: On eagles’ wings, part of the series, The Bible Speaks Today, Old Testament portion edited by J. A. Motyer. Published by Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1996, page 147.
By Christina M Wilson. Published Simultaneously at https://justonesmallvoice.com/the-end-of-time-isaiah-devotional-journal-75/.
Readers should consider Chapters 34 and 35 of Isaiah together. These two chapters together present the outcome of all human history, the end of time, in a manner similar to Psalm 1 (Psalm 1: LINK1 and LINK2).
Chapter 34 gives the final outcome for the “damned”–those who persistently and willfully resist God and the goodness of his nature.
Chapter 35 gives the final outcome for those in the Kingdom of Messiah. Messiah is God’s Son who saves and redeems the poor in heart and spirit. These are people who look to him for their personal well-being and improvement of their condition. These are they who seek to obey their Savior/King. They believe in the goodness and holiness of God and give him their full allegiance.
Summary of Chapter 34
Most commentators conclude that in Chapter 34 God pronounces his final judgment against all nations (see verses 1 and 2, where the text contains the phrase “all nations.”) Further, in Isaiah 34 (Link to Various Commentaries) Edom represents all who oppose God and his people, who are represented by Zion (Isaiah 34:8).
That is, readers should not think that the chapter makes specific reference to Edom alone. The Jewish Study Bible points out that in “later Jewish history… the Edomites… converted to Judaism en masse during the late 2nd C. BCE, and were among the most zealous Jews during the conflict with Rome in the 1st C. CE,” (1). This is similar to other places in Scripture in which Babylon becomes a symbol for all that is unholy. See, for example, Isaiah 13 through 14 and Revelation 18:2-24.
One point of interest is that the text does not specify specific actions and attitudes in this section of final judgment. The Old Testament as a whole and Isaiah in particular catalog those elsewhere (See, for example, Isaiah 14:5-6). This chapter devotes itself to descriptions of God’s eternal punishment of the unrepentant wicked.
Summary of Chapter 35
Everyone agrees that Isaiah 35 speaks of Messiah. Chapter 35 is one of the most glorious chapters in Isaiah. It merits rereading (even out loud) two or three times, simply to capture the beauty of its words and images.
New Testament authors group Isaiah 35:5-6 with Isaiah 26:19; 42:18; and 61:1 (1). This occurred when Jesus provided John the Baptist a summary list of his ministry when he was in prison (Matthew 11:5 and Luke 7:22). Clearly, the time frame referred to is the first advent of Messiah.
Isaiah 35:5 Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall hear. 6 Then shall the lame man leap as a deer, and the tongue of the stammerers shall speak plainly; for water has burst forth in the desert, and a channel of water in a thirsty land. (CAB, LXE)
Luke 7:22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. (ESV)
Contrasts with Chapter 34
Chapter 35 contrasts with the previous chapter in many aspects.
Time Frame of Chapter 35
But what of the time frame of Chapter 35? When will Messiah appear and under what circumstances? At what point in Israel’s history will these events occur? Quite bluntly, does this chapter prophesy the first coming of Christ and the literal-spiritual realities of life in his kingdom? Or, is this chapter millennial/dispensational?
I. Jesus Applies Isaiah 35:5-6 to His First Advent
As stated above, Jesus sent his disciples to the imprisoned John the Baptist in Luke 7:22 and Matthew 15:30. He told them to tell John the highlights of his ministry. These highlights combined prophesies from various portions of Isaiah (Isaiah 26:19; 35:5-6; 42:18; 61:1). But clearly, the application made by Jesus in Luke and Matthew was to his then present, that is, his first advent.
II. The Chapter Gives No Hint of More Than One Advent
Isaiah himself in chapter 35 gives no hint of more than one advent. Verse 2 states in part, “My people shall see the glory of the Lord and the majesty of our God.” One of the strongest messages of the gospel writers is the glory of Christ, which they and countless multitudes of people witnessed in his incarnation.
III. The Dispersed (Septuagint) Shall Walk in the “Holy Way”
Verse 8 differs in the Septuagint from the Masoretic. While the Masoretic speaks of “fools,” the Septuagint speaks of the “dispersed.”
8 There shall be there a pure way, and it shall be called a holy way; and there shall not pass by there any unclean person, neither shall there be there an unclean way; but the dispersed shall walk on it, and they shall not go astray. (CAB, LXE)
In the so-called Millennium, will there be a dispersion? Yet, both before and after Rome destroyed Jerusalem (70 CE), shortly after Christ’s incarnation, the new believers dispersed from there and became missionaries around the known world.
IV. All Was Fulfilled by Christ’s Incarnation
Everything in Isaiah 35 was and is fulfilled in Christ’s current kingdom. This chapter prophesies the joy of the Lord, which Christians sing about as a present reality every Sunday.
9 … but the redeemed and gathered on the Lord’s behalf shall walk in it, 10 and shall return, and come to Zion with joy, and everlasting joy shall be over their head; for on their head shall be praise and exaltation, and joy shall take possession of them; sorrow and pain, and groaning have fled away. (CAB, LXE)
V. Jesus Described His Kingdom as Eternal Life
Chapter 34 is an end times chapter. It speaks the finality of the last judgment. If, then, Chapter 35 deals with Messiah’s present kingdom, how do these two time frames match?
Simply, Christ’s kingdom is eternal, now. When Christ sent his Holy Spirit, he sent eternity into believers’ hearts.
John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
John 6:47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.
John 6:54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
The final state of Christians has already begun in their hearts and spirits. Jesus Christ will raise believers up on the last day. There will be no judgment for those who believe in Messiah King. The beginning state of a believer’s heart is also the down payment of the final state (Ephesians 1:13-14). Eternal life in Christ begins now and will continue long past the final judgment of those who rebel against God’s goodness.
In conclusion, nowhere in all of Isaiah is the word “millennial” used. God kept Isaiah fairly busy describing Messiah’s incarnation, his identity as God’s Son, and his perfect, glorious, loving nature. It would seem odd in this most amazing chapter, for Isaiah to jump over the incarnation in favor of a bodily appearance at some unspecified time more than 2700 years afterward. I for one am perfectly content to enjoy the fullness of the Lord’s kingdom in the present moment, here and now. And when the final judgment of Chapter 34 occurs, the end of time, believers of Chapter 35 will be ushered into the Lord’s eternal presence.
1 Archer, Gleason L. and Gregory Chirichigno. Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 1983, pages 102-103 and 110.
1 The Jewish Study Bible, Second Edition. Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, Editors, Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation. Oxford University Press, New York, New York, 2014, page 833.
By Christina M Wilson. Published simultaneously at The Enemy Cast Out: Isaiah Devotional Journal 74 – justonesmallvoice.com.
Isaiah 33:14-24 Septuagint Modernized NETS
Where Is the Enemy?
The latter portion of Isaiah 33 contrasts the Zion that had been occupied by a foreign power with a Zion under the King’s rule.
The Enemy Has Been Cast Out
These Septuagint verses tell that the enemy no longer occupies Zion. (CAB, LXE)
- 14 The sinners in Zion have departed; trembling shall seize the ungodly.
- 18 Your soul shall meditate terror. Where are the scribes? Where are the counselors? Where is he that numbers them that are growing up, 19 both the small and great people? With whom he took not counsel, neither did he understand a people of deep speech, so that a despised people should not hear, and there is no understanding to him that hears.
- 23 Your cords are broken, for they had no strength; your food has given way, it shall not spread the sails, it shall not bear a signal, until it is given up for plunder; therefore shall many lame men take spoil.
Yes, the English text appears difficult to decipher. The NETS translation includes a footnote to that effect in verse 19. However, when comparing the various English translations of both the Septuagint and the Masoretic, the overall sense of the chapter unfolds.
Description of the New Kingdom
Isaiah describes the new kingdom after the enemy has departed (verse 14).
Characteristics of Its Inhabitants
- the righteous person (vs 15): walks in righteousness, speaks uprightly, hates lawlessness and wrongdoing, refuses bribes, is against capital punishment, shields his eyes from the enjoyment of evil
- he will live “in a high cave of a strong rock,” where he will be fed with bread and water (vs16), i.e., the basic food of life
- they will meditate on the past and the things and people who used to cause them fear, but are no longer present (vs 18)
- they revere the name of the Lord (v 21)
- not weary (v 24)
- their sins forgiven (v 24)
15 He that walks in righteousness, speaking rightly, hating transgression and iniquity, and shaking his hands from gifts, stopping his ears that he should not hear the judgment of blood, shutting his eyes that he should not see injustice. (CAB, LXE)
Characteristics of the Place
- foreign authorities will no longer be present (vs 19)
- a place of safety (vv 14, 16, 18-19, 20, 21, 22)
- a place of provision (vv 16, 20, 21)
- spacious, providing room for all (v 21)
- a place for the poor and injured (vv 23, 24)
- a place of permanence (v 20)
20 Behold the city of Zion, our refuge; your eyes shall behold Jerusalem, a rich city, tabernacles which shall not be shaken, neither shall the pins of her tabernacle be moved forever, neither shall her cords be at all broken; (CAB, LXE)
Characteristics of Its King
- glorious (v 17)
- he is Lord, God, judge, ruler, King (v 22)
22 For my God is great; the Lord our judge shall not pass me by; the Lord is our prince, the Lord is our king; the Lord, He shall save us. (CAB, LXE)
Concrete-Literal or Spiritual-Literal?
Why do I use hyphens in concrete-literal and spiritual-literal? Why use the words concrete in concrete-literal and literal in spiritual-literal? Why not just say literal and spiritual?
A Definition of Terms
In common, everyday language, “literal” tends to mean real, actual, concrete, and historical. And, in much theological jargon, spiritual tends to mean abstract, not historical, and not really happening in the “real” world, the concrete world. Theology tends to be divided between those who think every prophecy of the Old Testament needs to have a “literal” fulfillment and those who see spiritual fulfillment in many of the same prophecies. Some theologians might even be thinking “imaginary” when they use the term “spiritual.” When they accuse another theologian of “spiritualizing” a text, it’s as if they were accusing them of erasing the truth of that text and replacing it with abstract imagination.
Those using the term “literal” as a direct synonym of true and real usually mean that Old Testament prophecy needs to have a historical, three dimensional, physical fulfillment in the world we see, hear, and touch. In order for a biblical prophecy to be true, it must have a physical, three-dimensional fulfillment.
But, if “literal” means “true” and “real,” then spiritual realities are also real and true. They literally exist. God is Spirit. The Holy Spirit is Spirit. The Spirit of Jesus Christ occupies believers’ hearts. The rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, and forces of evil in the heavenly places that Paul describes in Ephesians 6 are real and true. They also happen to be spiritual beings, made of spirit rather than flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12).
To cast the conversation about fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy with the terms literal vs spiritual is to introduce bias from the beginning. Therefore, I use the word “concrete” to mean that which can be physically seen with physical eyes, heard with physical ears, and touched with physical hands. The cities we live in, for example, are concrete. So, the term “concrete-literal” means a true reality within the physical world. And likewise, the term “spiritual-literal” means a true reality within the realm of spirit.
Repeating the Question
So, the question becomes, must every prophecy of the Old Testament have a physically concrete fulfillment? Or, did God intend that some of what appears to be physical description in Old Testament prophecy would have a spiritual-literal fulfillment rather than a concrete-literal fulfillment? Is Chapter 33 of Isaiah one of these times?
A Partial Concrete-Literal Fulfillment
I postulate that some portions of Isaiah 33 have already had a concrete-literal fulfillment. And further, when Isaiah spoke these words, God intended that these portions would be physically fulfilled relatively quickly in Isaiah’s lifetime. The context within chapter 33 and the context of its surrounding chapters speak of a concrete-literal fulfillment of the prophecies against Judah’s enemy Assyria.
For example, throughout Isaiah’s writing, a physical Israel had many physical enemies. In Isaiah’s lifetime, the greatest of these was Assyria. Isaiah repeatedly prophesies Assyria’s downfall (for example, see Isaiah 30:31). In terms of fulfillment, chapters 36 and 37 describe in detail how God miraculously defeated the Assyrians on behalf of Jerusalem and Judah. Chapter 33 contains strong indications that Isaiah refers to this time and event. It seems fair and likely that God through Isaiah intended the portions of Isaiah 33 dealing with the defeat of Assyria to have a concrete-literal fulfillment. Biblical history, as related in 2 Kings 18:17-19:37 and Isaiah 37, records such a fulfillment.
Obstacles to a Complete Concrete-Literal Fulfillment
But what about the portions of Isaiah 33:14-24 that speak of the new kingdom and the King who will rule there? Have these prophecies already found a concrete-literal fulfillment? Not really. Judah before and after its exile had some good kings (Hezekiah and Zerubbabel) who experienced some years of peaceful prosperity. But Israel’s independence ended. Not too long after the return from exile, the Old Testament ceased. God added no books to Scripture after Malachi. Throughout the entire Second Temple period various foreigners again ruled in Jerusalem, alongside the Jewish kings.
Then at the turn of the millennium, in New Testament times, Rome occupied Israel. Israel had no independent king seated on its throne. Further, within a few decades after Jesus’s ascension, Rome leveled Jerusalem (70 CE). Over the next century Rome oppressed the remainder of the Judean territory through bloody wars. Israel ceased to exist as an independent nation.
Currently, the physical Israel in today’s news does not match the description given by Isaiah in Chapter 33. It has no king, it is not entirely safe, and it is no more righteous than any other country on earth. It is not a Christian nation, nor do its citizens all necessarily believe in the God of their Scripture. It appears to be a secular country, rather than a country of faith.
Approximately 2,800 years have passed since Isaiah prophesied of a righteous Zion ruled by a glorious King. Have his prophecies not found fulfillment?
A Spiritual-Literal Fulfillment
I believe that Isaiah’s prophecies of a righteous Zion and a glorious, righteous King have received a spiritual-literal fulfillment in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world,” John 18:36. By this he meant that his kingdom was not concrete-literal but spiritual-literal. Christians around the world have been living in and enjoying the benefits of Christ the King’s heavenly Zion for over 2,000 years.
Why does Isaiah use concrete words to describe a spiritual reality? The best answer I can give is to point the reader to the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:1-16. Could Isaiah possibly have known these spiritual-literal realities? The heart of faith must surely answer, “Yes.” The Apostle John writes, “Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him,” (John 12:41). As we progress further in Isaiah’s book, we will find him more and more describing the spiritual-literal realities of Christ’s kingdom.
By Christina M Wilson. Simultaneously published at God Defeats the Enemy: Isaiah Devotional Journal 73 – justonesmallvoice.com.
Isaiah 33 Septuagint Modernized NETS
The majority of commentators assign the curse of “Woe…!” in verse 1 upon the Assyrians, led by Sennacherib. Assyria attacked Judah and Jerusalem in Isaiah’s lifetime. God turned them back before they completed the siege against Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:13-19:37). The other major enemy was Babylon. Led by Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonians successfully overwhelmed Jerusalem approximately one hundred years later. Assigning this passage to the events surrounding Assyria’s unsuccessful siege of Jerusalem makes the most sense.
Verse two switches immediately to a prayer for mercy, made in the prophet’s own voice on behalf of the people. The prayer is very short–only two clauses. The concluding sentence of verse two, “The seed of the rebellious has gone to destruction, but our deliverance was in a time of affliction,” is a summary of historical events surrounding the siege of Jerusalem by Assyrian forces.
God replies affirmatively to the prayer in verses 10-13. The remainder of the chapter, through verse 24, speaks of a King and blessings for Zion. Once again readers will find a sharp contrast between final outcomes for those who oppose God and for those who trustfully turn to him for their safety.
Interpretation of Septuagint Verse 1
Verse 1 in the Septuagint at first, second, and even third glances appears nearly obscure in its language.
Woe to those that afflict you; but no one makes you miserable; and he that deals treacherously with you does not deal treacherously; those that deal treacherously shall be taken and given up, and like a moth on a garment, so shall they be spoiled. Isaiah 33:1 CAB, LXE
History reveals that God miraculously intervened on behalf of Jerusalem. He turned Sennacherib back at its walls (See the account at 2 Kings 18:13-19:37). For all Sennacherib’s loud bluster and threats, nothing came of them. The dramatic interchanges between Sennacherib and King Hezekiah will appear in Isaiah chapters 36 and 37. But for now, consider this verse from the New Testament.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1Peter 5:8 ESV)
One of the lessons all Christians learn through experience is that the roaring of the devil Satan is not the same as being torn to pieces by him. When Sennacherib appeared at Jerusalem’s city walls, he roared and threatened, but did not immediately attack. King Hezekiah turned to the Lord and to the Lord’s prophet Isaiah. God replied by miraculously defeating the foe. Threats are not the same as actions. When Christians cave to the enemy in the face of threats, it is they themselves causing their own misery, not the enemy. Christians must learn to trust the Lord, just like King Hezekiah. Although he was afraid, he did not give ground. Let the enemy roar in their faces, God will protect his own at break of day.
A Play Unfolds
Assuming that the enemy in this particular chapter is Assyria, then how shall we parse these verses?
First, there are five characters: 1) The prophet and his people, 2) God, 3) the enemy Assyria, 4) the outlying regions of Judah, and 5) unnamed plunderers.
SYNOPSIS OF THE ACTION
Second, Isaiah fairly jumps back and forth among these characters, as though recording a play. Using a different analogy, he puts into a static painting action which occurs over a span of time. But, Isaiah jumbles the chronology. According to 2 Kings 18:13-19:37, Assyria attacked and overcame the outlying regions of Judah. These are Lebanon, Sharon, Galilee and Carmel (verse 9). Assyria’s general, Sennacherib, stopped at the walls of Jerusalem and taunted King Hezekiah and his soldiers there. Hezekiah prayed to the Lord. Isaiah prophesied exactly what would happen. Then the Lord killed the Assyrians overnight in a miraculous delivery for Judah. Sennacherib returned to his home. And the people of Jerusalem went out and gathered a great spoil from the camp.
Note: Because the original Greek text contains no capitalization, it is fair to remove capitals from the Brenton translation in verse 4. (All translations interpret the original.) These capitals (verse 4) indicate the speaker addresses God. But this does not make sense in the context of verses surrounding verse 4. Therefore, without changing any words at all, using lower case “y” clarifies the meaning of the text. By removing the capitals, the object changes. The plunderers gather from the fallen enemy, making fun of this enemy as they do so. This narrative corresponds to the history given in 2 Kings. In support of this interpretive change, the NETS translation, by Moises Silva, uses no capitals in verse 4.
14a The sinners in Zion have departed; 14b trembling shall seize the ungodly. Who will tell you that a fire is kindled? Who will tell you of the eternal place?
The first clause of verse 14 belongs with the prior section. It concludes the previous action with a historical summary. Sennacherib and what few remained of his army left. Verse 14b should begin a new paragraph. It seems to belong best with the next section, a description of Messiah and his kingdom. Messiah, of course, arrives on the scene far into Isaiah’s future. Isaiah, however, always returns to him, inserting mention of him more and more frequently as the book progresses.
Chapter 33 to be continued…
By Christina M Wilson. Simultaneously published at Septuagint Variation: Isaiah Devotional Journal 72 – justonesmallvoice.com.
Isaiah 32:9-20 Septuagint Modernized NETS
Before leaving Chapter 32, there is one more Septuagint variation that sheds light on the chapter as a whole.
The prior Journal entry, Isaiah Devotional Journal 71, shows how Chapter 32 alternates between desolation for the then-existing nation of Israel and blessing for those in the future kingdom of the righteous King. These sections alternate in large chunks, rather than single verses:
- The blessings of Messiah: verses 1-4
- Contrast between the foolish wicked and the godly wise: verses 5-8
- Warning of the desolation to come: verses 9-14
- Messianic blessings: verses 15-20
Verse 19 in the Masoretic
Verse 19, in the ESV, protrudes like a thorn in the middle of a wedding bed. Then verse 20 returns to blessing.
ESV Isaiah 32:15 until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, … 16 Then justice … righteousness … fruitful field. 17 … righteousness … peace … righteousness, quietness and trust forever. 18 … peaceful habitation, … secure dwellings, … quiet resting places. 19 And it will hail when the forest falls down, and the city will be utterly laid low. 20 Happy are you who sow beside all waters, who let the feet of the ox and the donkey range free.
A Difficult Text
Deciphering what the biblical text reads for this verse must be difficult, since other translations in the Masoretic tradition vary widely.
- For example, the Bible of the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) reads, “Isaiah 32:19 And it shall hail, in the downfall of the forest; but the city shall descend into the valley.“
- NRS “The forest will disappear completely, and the city will be utterly laid low.“
- KJV “When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place.“
- Amplified Bible “But it [the wrath of the Lord] shall hail, coming down overpoweringly on the forest [the army of the Assyrians], and the capital  city shall be utterly humbled and laid prostrate.”
- NASB “And it will hail when the forest comes down, And the city will be utterly laid low.“
NIV and NET
The NIV, NET, and a few other dynamic translations (paraphrased) come closer to the text in the Septuagint. These translations combine verses 19 and 20. The outcome is a combination of blessing and trial.
- NIV “19 Though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely, 20 how blessed you will be, sowing your seed by every stream, and letting your cattle and donkeys range free.“
- NET “19 Even if the forest is destroyed and the city is annihilated, 20 you will be blessed, you who plant seed by all the banks of the streams, you who let your ox and donkey graze.“
The blessing in the texts above is qualified. It appears to be due to a difference in geographic location. The forest and city suffer extreme damage. However, those living by the banks of the streams will be blessed, as they continue to farm and graze their animals.
The Septuagint Text Is Plain and Simple
15 until the Spirit shall come upon you from on high, and Carmel shall be desert, and Carmel shall be counted for a forest. 16 Then judgment shall abide in the wilderness, and righteousness shall dwell in Carmel. 17 And the works of righteousness shall be peace; and righteousness shall ensure rest, and the righteous shall be confident forever. 18 And His people shall inhabit a city of peace, and dwell in it in confidence, and they shall rest with wealth. 19 And if the hail should come down, it shall not come upon you; and they that dwell in the forests shall be in confidence, as those in the plain country. 20 Blessed are they that sow by every water, where the ox and the donkey tread.
Contrasts Between the Septuagint and the Masoretic
1. Verse 19 in the Septuagint brings no contextual contradictions that must be explained. The verse smoothly follows the theme of blessing found throughout the passage.
2. All geographic areas are blessed. There is no distinction among them. The city will be blessed, the forest blessed, the plains blessed, and the waterways blessed.
3. Unlike the Masoretic, verse 18 of the Septuagint specifically states that “His people shall inhabit a city of peace.” Then, verse 19 brings no calamity upon that city. In contrast, verse 18 of the Masoretic makes no mention of a city. However, in verse 19 various calamities fall upon “the city,” depending upon the version.
- JPS: the city shall descend into the valley
- NRS: the city will be utterly laid low.
- KJV: the city shall be low in a low place
- Amplified: the capital  city shall be utterly humbled and laid prostrate.
- NASB: the city will be utterly laid low.
- NET: Even if … the city is annihilated,
- NIV: Though … the city is leveled completely,
4. In both textual traditions, the occurrence of hail appears either certain or likely. But only in the Septuagint does the hail harm no one.
Concrete-Literal or Spiritual-Literal
The Septuagint text of Isaiah 32:19 states, “And if the hail should come down, it shall not come upon you.” When does falling hail not harm objects or people it may hit? The Masoretic translations present a catastrophic hailstorm that flattens forests and cities. But the hail that falls in the Septuagint does not harm the people who inhabit every corner of the righteous King’s kingdom.
In the prior post, Isaiah Devotional Journal 71, I presented the argument that in Chapter 32 Isaiah writes using concrete terms for spiritual realities (1). Verse 19 adds evidence to this hermeneutic. Although it speaks to us by means of concrete (physical) language, the realities this verse describes are spiritual. See, for example, John Calvin’s description of this passage.
While Isaiah thus prophesies concerning the reign of Hezekiah, all this is declared by him to relate to the kingdom of Christ as its end and accomplishment; and therefore, when we come to Christ, we must explain all this spiritually, so as to understand that we are renewed as soon as the Lord has sent down the Spirit from heaven, that we who were “wildernesses” may become cultivated and fertile fields. Ere the Spirit of God has breathed into us, we are justly compared to wildernesses or a dry soil; for we produce nothing but “thorns and briers,” and are by nature unfit for yielding fruits. Accordingly, they who were barren and unfruitful, when they have been renewed by the Spirit of God, begin to yield plentiful fruits; and they whose natural dispositions had some appearance of goodness, being renewed by the same Spirit, will afterwards be so fruitful, that they will appear as if they had formerly been a “wilderness;” for all that men possess is but a wild forest, till they have been renewed by Christ. Whenever, therefore, the Church is afflicted, and when her condition appears to be desperate, let us raise our eyes to heaven, and depend fully on these promises. (2)
In the life of the Spirit in a believer’s heart, the “hail” of real-life difficulties and circumstances shall not harm the believer’s faith or persistent peace, security, and well-being in Christ. Is this Isaiah’s intended meaning? Rather one should ask, Is this God’s intended meaning for this text? Within the context of the Septuagint Gospel of Isaiah, yes, I believe that God intends us to find the Spirit of Christ in this passage.
Right or Wrong?
When trying to answer the question, “Which text is right and which text wrong?” there is no exact answer. The truth is that two completely different textual traditions have been handed down to us. A “textual tradition” encompasses many hundreds, or even thousands, of years. The Septuagint began as a translation of Hebrew approximately three centuries before the birth of Christ. Readers should not hold this fact of birth against it (3). Later scholars and religious persons have edited both the Greek and Hebrew texts within their own tradition. The Masoretic Bible we hold today did not reach its final form until centuries after Christ.
One thing is clear, however. Jesus of Nazareth and his followers accessed the Septuagint. Greek was the “lingua franca” of Christ’s day. And, the New Testament writers often quoted from the Septuagint. I am fully satisfied to use the Septuagint translation as my devotional Bible for the book of Isaiah. I like it because there is so much of Christ in it.
1 “Because the time markers fail to represent accurately the concrete-literal history of Israel, it is good biblical hermeneutics to interpret the language of this chapter spiritually. Using concrete-literal language, Isaiah prophesies the spiritual demise of one kingdom and the arrival of a new King. The new kingdom will be eternal.” Isaiah Devotional Journal 71
2 Calvin, John. “Commentary on Isaiah 32:15”. “Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible”. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/isaiah-32.html. 1840-57. These files are public domain.
3 For readers who would like to learn more about the Septuagint translation of the Bible, the following post might be a good place to start: Psalm 28: Why the Septuagint? Part 1-Background – justonesmallvoice.com.
By Christina M Wilson. Published simultaneously at The Holy Spirit Comes: Isaiah Devotional Journal 71 – justonesmallvoice.com.
Isaiah 32:9-20 Septuagint Modernized NETS
Judah Stumbles and the Holy Spirit Blesses
Romans 11:11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! (ESV)
Overview of Chapter 32
Chapter 32 of Isaiah contains both an indictment of God’s Old Testament people and God’s blessing of his New Testament people (1). The blessing comes through the reign of Messiah, the righteous King. (See posts 68, 69, and 70). It continues by means of God’s pouring out his Holy Spirit during the King’s reign. Verses 9-20 continue the pattern previously established in the earlier portion of the chapter. This portion includes pronouncements of both desolation and further blessing.
Outline of Chapter 32
- The blessings of Messiah: verses 1-4
- Contrast between the foolish wicked and the godly wise: verses 5-8
- Warning of the desolation to come: verses 9-14
- Messianic blessings: verses 15-20
Warning of the Desolation to Come: Time Indicators and Their Difficulties
There are three time markers in this section. They occur in verses 10, 14, and 15. Yet, each of these markers presents difficulties to a concrete-literal understanding.
FIRST TIME MARKER
10 Remember for a full year in pain, yet with hope; the vintage has been cut off; it has ceased, it shall by no means come again. (CAB, LXE)
Verse 10 provides the only numerical time marker in all of Chapter 32. The “one year” would seem to indicate the siege of Judah and Jerusalem by the Assyrian general Sennacherib in the days of king Hezekiah. However, because God intervened, the nation experienced another long period (many decades) of relative prosperity during the remainder of Hezekiah’s reign. Then began a period of decline as Babylon began to invade the land. Approximately 100 years after Isaiah made the pronouncement in verse 10, the nation fell completely and was carried into exile. So, it is difficult to find the reality of this verse (a persistent lack of vintage after one year) in Jerusalem’s actual history.
SECOND TIME MARKER
14 As for the rich city, the houses are deserted; they shall abandon the wealth of the city, and the pleasant houses; and the villages shall be caves forever, the joy of wild donkeys, shepherds’ pastures; (CAB, LXE)
Verse 14 provides a second, non-numerical time marker. The text states, “… the villages shall be caves forever.” Here again, the word “forever” presents difficulties. The villages of Jerusalem and Judah did not remain caves forever. Commentators step around this difficulty by saying that “forever” doesn’t mean “forever,” but a very long time. But even that has problems.
First, the exile lasted 70 years. That is a shorter time than the period after this prophecy and before the exile began (about 100 years). It hardly qualifies for use of the word “forever” in its description. And yes, it is true that after the exile, complete prosperity never returned to an independent Israel. Yet, during the Second Temple period, it would not be true to say that the villages remained caves. When Jesus of Nazareth was born, for example, Jerusalem was a bustling city with visitors from all over the world. Witness the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:5-6).
THIRD TIME MARKER
14 and the villages shall be caves forever, … 15 until the Spirit shall come upon you from on high, and Carmel shall be desert, and Carmel shall be counted for a forest.
Verse 15 qualifies the “forever” of verse 14. “The villages shall be caves forever … until the Spirit shall come upon you from on high.” But even this presents problems to a concrete-literal understanding.
The first problem is that Rome destroyed Jerusalem in 70 C.E. This was just a few years after the coming of the Holy Spirit. History reveals that destruction of the land continued until Israel completely ceased to exist as a nation. And yet, the Spirit has stayed with us continually. So in conclusion, there exists a contradiction between the material blessings described in verses 15-20 and the reality of Israel’s history.
THE GREAT DIVIDE BETWEEN THE TWO TESTAMENTS
What is the great difference between life lived in the Old Testament and life lived in the New Testament? Of course, the birth, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus the King is the correct answer. There is a second answer, however.
Galatians 3:14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (ESV)
Not only Gentiles received the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, but believing Jewish people, as well. All believers in Christ receive his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God’s blessing to both the church, his people, and to this fallen humanity. Old Testament saints received the Holy Spirit occasionally, externally, and for specific prophetic purposes. Since the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden, the Holy Spirit did not dwell in close communion with people. Now that Christ has come, fellowship between God and humans has been restored (Hebrews 4:16).
GOD’S LANGUAGE ALSO CHANGED
1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. (ESV)
John 16:12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (ESV)
Some examples will help. First, when Jesus spoke to Nicodemus in John 4, Nicodemus could not understand his words. Why not? God had not yet given the Spirit. Nicodemus was a “natural person,” as Paul would say.
As a second example, when Jesus taught in parables, he used concrete metaphors to describe spiritual realities to his “natural” listeners. Is there a Christian anywhere who does not understand that when Jesus says in John 4:35, “‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest,” he is not speaking of concrete-literal grain that one boils and bakes? He is speaking of human souls. And, when Jesus called to his future disciples in Matthew 4:13, “‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,'” which Christian among us truly believes he was speaking of fishing hooks or nets with human beings in them?
If Jesus and the New Testament writers describe spiritual realities with concrete-literal words, why do so many academics and biblical interpreters insist that readers first and foremost understand nearly every word of Old Testament prophecy in a concrete-literal way? Do we truly believe that God would not give Isaiah concrete-literal words to describe New Testament spiritual realities?
THE GOSPEL OF ISAIAH
There is a reason why Isaiah is one of the most often quoted books in the New Testament. Isaiah was a prophet who straddled both testaments. God gave him visions and insights into his own era and also into the new era. Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord, and he reported it.
John 12: 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. (ESV)
In his book, Isaiah writes of two topics: 1) the coming Messiah and 2) the dismal failure of Israel as a whole to embrace God as their King. Chapter 32 encompasses both of these topics. Because the time markers fail to represent accurately the concrete-literal history of Israel, it is good biblical hermeneutics to interpret the language of this chapter spiritually. Using concrete-literal language, Isaiah prophesies the spiritual demise of one kingdom and the arrival of a new King. The new kingdom will be eternal.
To be continued…verse 19: another variation between the Septuagint and the Masoretic textual traditions
1 Of course, Isaiah didn’t think in terms of two biblical testaments. Nor did he have an exact means to measure the times involved.
By Christina M Wilson. Published simultaneously at https://justonesmallvoice.com/a-messianic-kingdom-part-wto-isaiah-journal-70/.
Isaiah 32 Septuagint Modernized NETS
Variations in Septuagint Isaiah 32:1-8 Part Two
Septuagint Isaiah 32:1-8 describes the messianic King and his messianic kingdom followers. The Hebrew scripture loses the poignancy of this messianic passage when compared to the Greek. In the Septuagint, the King and his kingdom remain in sharp focus throughout.
A Short Review
Let’s do a short review of verses 1 and 2 before beginning with verse 3. Verses 1 and 2 introduce the reign of a righteous king in Zion. He shall appear as a glorious, rushing river in a thirsty land. This King is Christ. The ministry and life of Jesus of Nazareth match the prophetic words Isaiah spoke many hundreds of years earlier. (See the following links to Part One and a Devotional concerning Christ.)
Isaiah 32:1 For, behold, a righteous king shall reign, and princes shall govern with judgement.
2 And a man shall hide his words, and be hidden, as from rushing water, and shall appear in Sion as a rushing river, glorious in a thirsty land. (CAB, LXE)
The Issue of Trust in Isaiah
Now, moving forward, verse 3 in the Masoretic (Hebrew) text presents a quite positive statement. It sounds good! Who wouldn’t want this?
Isaiah 32:3 Then the eyes of those who see will not be closed, and the ears of those who hear will give attention. (ESV)
Yet, the Septuagint (Greek) presents a picture with a somewhat different emphasis, which later Scripture fulfills.
Isaiah 32:3 And they shall no longer trust in men, but they shall incline their ears to hear. (CAB, LXE)
Isaiah emphasizes the issue of trust throughout his writing. God’s people are to trust God, not men. Oddly, however, the following verse, which spells out this principle appears in the Masoretic but not in the Septuagint.
Isaiah 2:22 Stop trusting in human beings, whose life’s breath is in their nostrils. For why should they be given special consideration? (NET)
When Septuagint Isaiah states in verse three, “And they shall no longer trust in men, but they shall incline their ears to hear,” he implies that when they bend their ears forward to hear, they will be hearing God.
Jesus Christ in the New Testament fulfills the very behavior that Isaiah enjoins in 32:3.
John 2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. (ESV)
Septuagint Isaiah 2:22 sounds like John the Apostle’s, “But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie– just as it has taught you, abide in him.” (1John 2:27 ESV) This matches the rushing river/water analogy of the Holy Spirit in the prior verse. The presence of Christ within believers is like the rushing river of the Holy Spirit (John 4:14).
The ESV (Hebrew Masoretic) of verse 3 in Isaiah is also good, because there’s a reversal of the blind eyes and deaf ears of Isaiah 6:9-10. However, Jesus never said that the leaders’ eyes and ears had opened. In fact, he said the opposite.
John 12:39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. (ESV).
Therefore, Isaiah 32:3 applies to the common people who followed Christ, rather than to the religious leaders of his day. Gospel history shows that while the Jewish religious leaders as a whole failed to trust God and his emissary, Messiah, the common people did choose to trust him, rather than men. Along with Isaiah, they “saw his glory” and believed.
The Heart of the Weak Ones
Verse 4 of the Septuagint continues from verse 3. It openly states that those who hear are the “weak ones.” Another common way of translating the Greek word for “weak” is “sick.”
Isaiah 32:4 And the heart of the weak ones shall attend to hear, and the stammering tongues shall soon learn to speak peace. (CAB, LXE)
And in similar fashion, Jesus stated that he came to heal the sick, not the healthy.
Luke 5:31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. (ESV) (See also Matthew 9:12 and Mark 2:17.)
The Masoretic, in contrast, seems to lack the immediate tie to the King of verse 1. “The mind that acts rashly will possess discernment and the tongue that stutters will speak with ease and clarity.” (Isaiah 32:4 NET). Although not specifically mentioned in these later verses, the King of Septuagint Isaiah 32:1 appears to be he to whom the hearts of the weak ones attend to hear in verse 32:4.
Fools Who Rule
While the Masoretic of verse 5 sounds like a good proverb,
The fool will no more be called noble, nor the scoundrel said to be honorable. (ESV)
the Septuagint goes one step further. It identifies the “fool” as the ruler.
And they shall no longer tell a fool to rule, and your servants shall no longer say, Be silent. (CAB, LXE)
Verses 6 and 7 further describe the fool who rules.
6 For the fool shall speak foolish words, and his heart shall meditate vanities, and to perform lawless deeds and to speak error against the Lord, to scatter hungry souls, and He will cause the thirsty souls to be empty. 7 For the counsel of the wicked will devise iniquity, to destroy the poor with unjust words, and ruin the cause of the poor in judgment.
Who cannot hear echoes of this Isaiah description as Jesus repeatedly proclaims “woe” upon the religious rulers of his day?
Matthew 23:13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. (ESV) (See also Matthew 23:15, 17, 23, 25, 29; and John 10:10.)
Matthew 23:17 You blind fools!… (ESV)
“Fools” in Matthew 23:17 is the same Septuagint Greek word that Isaiah uses. In more ways than one, Jesus came to cleanse his temple of the “blind fools” who ruled there. And as previously discussed, the eyes of the rulers remained blind. Nor did they incline their ears to hear. God reserves for the meek and humble the blessing of seeing and hearing him.
Contrast with Messiah’s Kingdom
Continuing in the same vein, verse 8 closes this Isaian messianic passage of Messiah’s kingdom with a contrasting description of the leaders of the early biblical New Testament church.
8 But the godly have devised wise measures, and this counsel shall stand. (CAB, LXE)
The writers of the letters of the New Testament amply demonstrate fulfillment of this prophesy. Each of the apostles and elders of the early church repeatedly enjoin Christ’s followers to behave decently and in love for one another. I give but one of a multitude of examples. This is the “counsel” of the “godly” that replaces the “counsel of the wicked,” the “blind fools” who ruled in Jesus’s day.
Colossians 3:8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (ESV)
Isaiah 32:1-8 describes the messianic King and his followers. The flow of the Septuagint in Isaiah 32 is smooth. The verses connect well one with another, as they keep the focus upon the King of verse 1. The king, though no longer directly mentioned, interacts with the sick and the weak of later verses. The Masoretic, on the other hand, takes a step into stiff formality. The “king who reigns in righteousness” is almost forgotten in the later verses. Unlike the Septuagint, the Masoretic passage appears to be more about a certain prophesied period of time, rather than a person. The poignant prophesy of the Septuagint dissolves into a mechanical abstraction in the Masoretic.
But the Septuagint was the “Scripture” of Jesus’s day. Fortunately, in the Septuagint, the presence of the “righteous King” permeates the characters portrayed in the ensuing verses. As we continue in Septuagint Isaiah, we see that both Jesus and the writers who chronicled his life were steeped in this Old Testament gospel account.