Home » 2022 » February

Monthly Archives: February 2022

Fourth Servant Song: Isaiah Journal 2.47

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/fourth-servant-song-content-isaiah-devotional-2-47/.

Isaiah Journal 2.47 will discuss some of the features of Isaiah’s Fourth Servant Song.

Introduction–Isaiah 52:13-15 LXE 


Never has any mouth spoken a more concise synopsis of human history:

Behold, my servant shall understand, and be exalted, and glorified exceedingly. (Isaiah 52:13 LXE)

1. God’s Servant (Messiah) sums up in his person the purpose and totality of humanity. Of all people on earth at any time or place, God’s Servant alone understands. He understands all that God is and is about. He understands everything about the human heart.

2. God’s Servant shall be exalted, both physically (on the cross) and positionally. He will be King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15).

3. God’s Servant is for the whole world. Kings represent as head their own nation or people groups. The kings of “many nations” (without limit) will have nothing more to add to him, to command concerning him, or to deny him. They will be silent before him.

4. The last two clauses of verse 13 state, “… they to whom no report was brought concerning Him shall see; and they who did not hear shall understand” (SAAS) (1). These statements and the entire verse open the Servant’s ministry to all humanity, to the whole world, to those who are not of Israeli descent (see the Apostle Paul’s understanding in Romans 15:21).

5. Even though the text of these three verses does not specifically mention the children of Israel, Israel’s God speaks. The Servant is the God of Israel’s Servant. Therefore, through their relationship with God, and by extension his Servant, this Scripture includes the people of Israel.



Readers should always remember that none of the original texts contain chapter numbers, verse numbers, section titles, or paragraph spaces. Editors have added these for ease of reading and discussion. Content determines unit boundaries. The Fourth Servant Song begins with Isaiah 52:13 and continues through Isaiah 53:12. Verse 13 introduces the Servant with the words, “Behold, My Servant…” (SAAS). The remainder of the passage describes the Servant and his actions.

Isaiah 53:1 LXE, therefore, falls within the passage, but not at its beginning. It does introduce, however, a change of speaker. Such transitions contribute to the organizational structure of Old Testament texts, such as this prophecy and psalms. So, who speaks the first verse of chapter 53?

  • God spoke the first sentences of the opening of the song (Isaiah 52:13) . Readers know that God speaks the words, “My Servant,” because Isaiah has already established this through prior passages that form the “My Servant” context. (See, for example Isaiah 49:1-6 LXE and the prior post Isaiah Devotional 2.25.)
  • Readers can also reasonably conclude that God speaks verse 14, as well. There God addresses his Servant directly using the words “you” and “your” (Isaiah 52:14 LXE).
  • The following verse, verse 15, uses only third person (him). It may be either God or Isaiah the prophet speaking.
  • After this, Isaiah 53:1 LXE switches immediately to first person plural. The Septuagint text states, “our report.” The Masoretic translations alternate between “what we just heard” (NET) and “our report” (NASB 2020). This indicates that Isaiah the prophet speaks for himself and the entire group of God’s people. He identifies himself with Israel, the people (Isaiah Devotional Journal 2.46, the section labeled “Confession”).


Most of the verbs of  verses 53:1-8 occur in simple past or passive tenses with a few present tenses included. One could say that Isaiah uses prophetic past tense to indicate future occurrences. But Isaiah doesn’t always use the prophetic past tense. To the contrary, the word “shall” occurs in 49 per cent of Isaiah’s total of 1290 verses.

The point is that the prophet speaks these words as though he were present during the events of the Servant’s life. The text reads as though Isaiah himself participates as one of the actors in those events. He could have been one of the Servant’s disciples reporting the events as he or she saw them. Such is the strength of Isaiah’s identification with the people and the occurrences he describes. The immediacy of his writing style brings the reader along with him. The text allows readers to experience what Isaiah writes in their very own personal way. The narrative thus produces a very strong dramatic effect.

Content: Part One

In the opening words of Isaiah the participating prophet, he addresses the Lord directly. That is, he prays. His tone is one of amazement and wonder in the realm of pathos, or sadness. Just a few verses back (52:13) God presents his Servant as the most wonderful of all human beings ever. Then, when witnesses of the actual (though future) events report what they saw and heard concerning the mighty acts of the Lord (the “arm of the Lord”) through his Servant, no one believes. How can this be? How incredibly tragic this is.

O Lord, who has believed our report? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? (Isaiah 53:1 LXE)

The Apostle John in his gospel quotes Isaiah 53:1 LXE exactly, word for word (both Isaiah and John are written in Greek). Paul in Romans also quotes the first sentence exactly. Of course, he also writes in Greek.

John 12:37 But though He had performed so many signs in their sight, they still were not believing in Him. 38 This happened so that the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke would be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (NASB 2020)

Romans 10:16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” (NASB 2020)

John quotes Isaiah as an historian would, to indicate that the people who saw the miracles Jesus performed fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy. In doing so, he confirms both Isaiah’s prophecy and Jesus’s identity as God’s Servant Messiah. Paul’s purpose differs somewhat. He writes apologetically in Romans 10. That is, he seeks to explain how and why God includes Gentile believers in his kingdom, while the people of Israel appear to be excluded. He gives the element of believing faith as the reason. The Gentiles believe, whereas the bulk of Israel does not.

Content: Part Two to be continued in next post 

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.”

Plain Speech of Fourth Servant Song: Journal 2.46

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/plain-speech-of-fourth-servant-song-devotional-2-46/.

Plain Speech

When Jesus spoke in the New Testament, he used many parables. Often his disciples did not understand his meaning. Consequently, Jesus would have to take them aside to explain to them privately the interpretation of what he had said (see Luke 8:8-11 for one example). But one day Jesus did speak plainly to his disciples. The Apostle John records their reaction.

25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father… 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” 29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! (John 16:25-29 ESV)

Speaking personally, nothing in all of Isaiah has been simple for me. I have had to struggle with every bit of it, sometimes for days or a week on end. For me, the process of reading Isaiah has resembled seeking meaning from a secret code. But God has treated me graciously. Speaking for myself alone, the rewards have been great. I want to say that I am a different person than I was when I began.

But Isaiah 52:13-53:12 LXE is different. Here, the prophet and the text speak with plain speech. Isaiah uses everyday language to describe the suffering God’s Servant will endure. He does not change topics, but speaks of one subject throughout the passage. If I were to describe the “texture” of the text, I would say it is rounded, whole, smooth. There are no sharp, jagged edges to prick and puzzle.

What about specifics?

Specifics of Style

This portion of text differs from others in just a few ways.

1. Isaiah Speaks (Isaiah 52:13-53:12 LXE)

God himself has spoken through Isaiah for most of the previous chapters. Isaiah the writer has said very little. Here in the Fourth Servant Song, Isaiah speaks as narrator. He speaks in first person plural on behalf of God’s people as a whole in verses 1 through 6. He also uses third person singular when describing the Servant. This pattern begins in chapter 52:15 and persists throughout chapter 53. One exception occurs in 53:9. There, God apparently breaks in with his own first person. Except for verse 9, Isaiah appears to speak in his own voice throughout. This has not happened for many chapters.

2. Consistency

The consistency of person Isaiah uses results in ease of reading and comprehension. In other portions of Isaiah, the frequent changes of person often indicate a change of speaker. Isaiah’s sudden changes result in difficulty of interpretation. Generally, Isaiah does not announce his changes. He uses very few transitions. The result is that the text hops about in an unpredictable way that makes following along difficult. This section about God’s Servant is not like that.

Isaiah maintains a singular focus throughout the servant’s song. The Servant is the topic, and Isaiah adheres to his description of him throughout. When reading other portions of Isaiah, the reader often faces the dilemma of not knowing of whom the passage speaks. While it is true that all of chapter 53 never names its subject, Isaiah 52:13 LXE clearly states “my Servant” in God’s own voice. Because verse 13 begins the Fourth Servant Song, readers know of whom Isaiah speaks throughout chapter 53. (Readers may confer the prior post for details on the identity of God’s Servant.)

3. An Unusual Description

The prophet continues for fifteen verses describing the specific and intimate details of the character and life of a single individual. This fact in itself is unusual. For example, the book of Isaiah consumes four chapters relating the events surrounding the life of King Hezekiah (Isaiah 36-39). Isaiah writes about Hezekiah by means of dramatic narrative. Readers must read the stories and deduce for themselves what kind of person Hezekiah was.

Contrary to the chapters concerning Hezekiah, Isaiah writes bluntly and directly about the nature of the Servant and the events of his life. After reading these fifteen verses, readers will be able to describe the kind of person the Servant will be. They will know his personality even. In the book of Isaiah, the fifteen verses of the Fourth Servant Song form an unusual segment.

4. Confession

The verses of Isaiah 53:4-8 LXE read like a confessional. The prophet assumes the identity of God’s people and confesses in first person plural on their behalf the iniquity of them all. This portion resembles Daniel’s prayer of confession on behalf of his people in Daniel 9. It also resembles Nehemiah’s confessional prayer in Nehemiah 1:5-11.

5. Tone

Overall, the tone of the Fourth Servant Song is quiet, subdued, and non-dramatic. God does not express his righteous anger, nor does he condemn. In consideration of the identity of the Servant and the fact of his gruesome death in verse 7, Isaiah presents the entire description without dramatic outbursts of passion.

In contrast to the emotional understatement of this chapter, the first verse of chapter 54 breaks upon the reader with the suddenness of loud crashing cymbals. Unlike this chapter, those verses shout. The tone changes dramatically to one of excited commands: Rejoice! Enlarge your tents! Get everything ready,  for the Gentiles will be bringing their children!

Unique in Isaiah, the closing verses of chapter 52 and the entirety of chapter 53 are like an orchestra of strings playing slow, meditative music. The overall effect is contemplative, inviting the reader to linger, to ponder, to identify, to confess…

“My Servant” Passages: Isaiah Journal 2.45

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/my-servant-passages-in-isaiah-isaiah-devotional-2-45/.


The previous post explored why “my Servant” in Isaiah’s Fourth Servant Song cannot be either Isaiah or Israel the people (Devotional 2.44). This post will present a more detailed look at all the “my servant” passages in Isaiah. It will consider them one by one.

Other “My Servant” Passages in Isaiah

Several “my servant” passages occur before the one in the First Servant Song of Isaiah 42. No confusion exists for Isaiah 20:3; 22:20; and 37:35. The text identifies these three servants as Isaiah, Eliakim, and David respectively. The question posing the most difficulty is whether or not the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 is Israel God’s people or an individual. Based only upon the precedents established by previous uses of the phrase in Isaiah, the answer could fall either way. Therefore, the most important consideration for any given passage is its content and context. Because of this, we will consider in detail each of the passages in Isaiah which use the phrase “my servant” (other than the first three mentioned at the outset of this paragraph).


The next “my servant” passage begins in Isaiah 41:8. In this verse, God identifies his servant as Isaiah and Jacob. He addresses them as singular. Could this be the same servant as in Isaiah 52:13? Such a case might be made, until the reader arrives at Isaiah 41:14. There readers discover that in translations from the Hebrew, God addresses Israel and Jacob as a “worm” (Isaiah 41:14 ESV, NASB). But God in later chapters never addresses his special Servant as anything other than wonderful and glorious. The Septuagint does not use the word “worm” but writes, “Israel few in number.” Notice that, unlike in verse 8, God in verse 14 addresses Israel and Jacob as plural. Combining these items, readers can reasonably conclude that this passage does not refer to the “my Servant” of Isaiah 52.


Continuing in sequence, the next “my servant” passage begins in Isaiah 42:1. The passage Isaiah 42:1-4 is popularly known as the First Servant Song. Here the vocabulary changes significantly. “Jacob is my servant, I will help him: Israel is my chosen, my soul has accepted him; I have put my Spirit upon him; he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles” (LXE). Even though the Septuagint uses the same proper names as the previous passage, the tone and content are different. Note that the Hebrew text does not use the names Israel or Jacob in referencing the servant in this verse (Isaiah 42:1 ESV). An important result of the Greek verse, then, is to identify God’s Servant as a child of Israel and Jacob. He is of their seed.

Isaiah 42:4 LXE is part of the same passage. It states, “In his name shall the Gentiles trust.” The Greek word “trust” which God, as speaker, uses is “hope.” This hope is religious, as in the hope one displays while waiting for salvation. English versions of Romans 15:12, while quoting this verse, translate the Isaiah verse with the word “hope.” We know that Gentiles never trusted, or hoped, in the name of Israel for their salvation. Therefore, even though the Septuagint labels the Servant in this First Servant Song with the words, “Jacob is my servant, I will help him: Israel is my chosen, my soul has accepted him” (verse 1), the servant is not the nation or people of Israel. Matthew 12:18f. identifies the servant as Jesus Christ.


The next mention of “my servant” occurs in Isaiah 43:10 LXE. There are three witnesses named in the Septuagint translation of this verse. The first is “you” plural and would reasonably refer to God’s people. Second, God names himself as his own witness. Third, God names “my servant whom I have chosen.” The Masoretic Hebrew text reads quite differently. The two versions follow.

Septuagint: Be you [plural command] my witnesses, and I too am a witness, says the Lord God, and my servant whom I have chosen: that you may know, and believe, and understand that I am he: before me there was no other God, and after me there shall be none. (Isaiah 43:10 LXE)

Masoretic: “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. (Isaiah 43:10 ESV)

In the Masoretic translation above, there is but one witness. This witness is God’s people as a collective group. Unlike the Septuagint, God does not name himself as witness. But most important for our purpose, the Masoretic states that “you” plural as a group are also God’s servant (“my servant”) whom he has chosen.

The Greek text, on the other hand, presents three witnesses, as already mentioned: God’s people, God himself, and “my servant.” The word order of the Greek places the phrase “my servant” at a far distance from “you” plural. This makes it difficult to read “my servant” as being identical to “you.” Also, the three witnesses are distinguished by the word “and” as connectors. The sentence structure reads witness one, and God as witness two, and my servant as witness three.

Conclusion: The Masoretic indicates “my servant” to be Israel collectively, but the Septuagint does not. The Septuagint names “my servant” as a witness. For purposes of this investigation, I think it fair to simply eliminate this verse as ambiguous (2).


Twice in two consecutive verses the phrase “my servant” appears again in Isaiah 44:1 and 44:2 LXE. The context begins, however, in chapter 43 and stretches down at least through 44:8. In this entire passage, God addresses his people. The “my servant” in verses one and two, therefore, refers to his people Israel and Jacob.


Isaiah 44:21 LXE contains the next occurrence of the label “my servant.” In fact this term occurs twice in the one verse. Once again, however, the content of these verses and those which immediately follow indicate clearly that God addresses his sinful people Israel.


In Isaiah 45:4 LXE, God speaks directly to Cyrus the Persian. Although the verse contains the phrases, “For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my elect,” the immediate context does not indicate whether “my servant” points to God’s people or to his singular Servant. The near context of Israel’s return from exile, however, would indicate that God refers to his people in this verse.


Popular commentary labels Isaiah 49:1-6 LXE as the Second Servant Song. Verse 3 contains the statement, “You are my servant, O Israel, and in you I will be glorified.” What in this passages serves to distinguish that this occurrence of “my servant, O Israel” differs from the previous three? In those verses, the same phrase “my servant” and two specific identifiers “Israel” and “Jacob” refer to the people of God. How can readers know that this passage, which uses nearly the same words, refers to a different, singular Servant of God?

A single word reveals the answer: context. First, verse 5 is extremely interesting.

And now, thus says the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his own servant, to gather Jacob to him and Israel. I shall be gathered and glorified before the Lord, and my God shall be my strength. (Isaiah 49:5 LXE)

As a first consideration, the Lord possibly may have formed his people from a metaphorical womb to be his servant. However, if “his own servant” refers to his people Israel, then the people would be gathering the people (“formed… to gather Jacob to him and Israel”). On the face of it, that doesn’t seem possible. But (in the Septuagint), the next clause states that very thing, “I shall be gathered and glorified.” Note that the text does not say, “We shall be gathered…” But okay… let’s put this verse on hold and read the next verse.

And he said to me, It is a great thing for you to be called my servant, to establish the tribes of Jacob, and to recover the dispersion of Israel: behold, I have given you for the covenant of a race, for a light of the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the end of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6 LXE

Verse 6 forms the near context of verse 5 and the previous verses. There are two points to consider here in verse 6.

1. First, in consideration of plain, ordinary speech, God in verse 6 appears to address someone (“me”) who is not also Jacob and Israel. He addresses someone other than these entities. Let’s expand this conclusion. If the servant Israel is identical with the people Israel, then Israel would “recover the dispersion of Israel.” Israel would recover its own dispersion. A much simpler explanation is that in different contexts there are two, distinct servants, both known as Israel. One is plural and refers to the people. The other is singular and refers to a specific individual. But if verse 6 names an individual, then verse 5, whose wording is very similar, would also concern the same individual. We will return to the “hold” placed on verse 5 shortly.

2. Before that however, verse 6 presents further considerations. Verse six uses salvation language with regard to the Servant and the Gentiles.

  • First, Isaiah writes, “I have given you for the covenant of a race” (1) (See Isaiah 42:6). Nowhere in Scripture or history does God give Israel the people or nation to be the “covenant of a race.”
  • Second, God states that the Servant is “to be for salvation to the end of the earth.” 

2 Samuel 7:18 NETS presents a similar Greek grammatical construction as the second phrase above, “to be for salvation…”

And now this is what you shall say to my slave Dauid [David]: This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the sheepfold for you to be leader for my people, for Israel 2 Samuel 7:18 NETS [emphasis added]

Even if one cannot read Greek, the eyes can determine the similarities in the following texts.

1) τοῦ εἶναί    2) σε   3) εἰς    4) ἡγούμενον   ἐπὶ   τὸν λαόν    μου   ἐπὶ  τὸν Ισραηλ (2Sa 7:8 LXX)
       to be           you      for           leader       for  the people   my    for  the  Israel

1) τοῦ εἶναί    2) σε   3)εἰς      4) σωτηρίαν   ἕως   ἐσχάτου    τῆς     γῆς         (Isaiah 49:6 LXX)
….to be            you     for          salvation      to       end        of the  earth

Here is the point. The Samuel passage states clearly that David will be leader of God’s people Israel. Likewise, the Isaiah passage clearly states that the Servant will be salvation to the end of the earth, i.e., everywhere and for everyone. Again, God’s purpose for David is to make him leader. God’s purpose for his Servant is to make him salvation.

But can a person be salvation? My faith tells me “yes,” in the same sense that a person can be a covenant. Also, Luke in Acts 4:12 places salvation in Christ. Consider the following verses: Luke 2:30; 3:6; Acts 4:12; 13:47; Hebrews 2:10; 5:9; and Revelation 7:10.

I sincerely believe that God’s intention for Israel the people had always been for them to lead Gentiles to the light of God and to salvation in him. The historical record and prophecies of Isaiah indicate that Israel failed in this mission. However, the Servant verses establish that God’s singular, special Servant was born of Israel. He himself was one of the people, part of Israel. Isaiah places the Servant as a “stand-in,” the representative for all Israel. He represents all the people of Israel as he leads the Gentile nations to God’s covenant, light, and salvation. Through and in him, all of God’s intention and promises to the people are fulfilled.

The very structure of Isaiah indicates this truth. Some of the servant passages apply to the people Israel as a whole. Some apply only to God’s singular, special Servant. Yet Isaiah weaves these passages in and out among themselves throughout the second portion of his book, which begins in chapter 40.

Back to Verse 5

Verse 6 forms part of the context for verse 5. Verse 6 clearly points to a singular person as God’s Servant. Therefore, the Servant in verse 5 is this same person, singular. The text states that God formed him “to gather Jacob to him and Israel.” In the very next sentence the Servant states, “I shall be gathered and glorified before the Lord.” The Greek verb is first person singular, “I shall be gathered…” The verb “gather” contains a prefix that means “with” or “together.” The word synagogue begins with the same prefix. In fact, synagogue means “a gathering together” or “a bringing together” (Thayer). In plain, ordinary speech, then, it sounds as though the Servant states that in him many people shall be gathered. Or, in other words, he himself comprises a gathering of many people. Such a statement has no concrete-literal reality. A single individual cannot be a composite of thousands or millions. One must turn to a spiritual fulfillment for a statement like this.

Yet, isn’t a composite body exactly what the New Testament teaches about the ascended Christ? The New Testament often uses the phrase “in him.” (See Acts 17: 28; 1 Corinthians 1:5; Ephesians 1:4; 1:10; 2:22; 2 Thessalonians 1:12; and 1 John 2:6, to name a few.) Christ himself prayed, “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21 ESV). New Testament Scripture also teaches that the church is “one body in Christ” (Romans 12:5). 1 Corinthians 12 teaches the same concept (see especially 1 Corinthians 12:27).


The final passage in Isaiah that uses the phrase “my Servant” begins in Isaiah 52:13. This is the verse that begins the Fourth Servant Song about God’s suffering Servant. The passage extends as a unified whole from 52:13 through 53:12. All these verses form one context. This verse offers several evidences that the Servant is a single, concrete-physical individual, not a collective gathering of people known as Israel and Jacob. What are these evidences?

1. Bearing in mind that the singular tense and third person “he” could conceivably apply to a collective group of people, Israel, verse 53:6 offers the first definitive statement that such is not the case.

All we as sheep have gone astray; every one has gone astray in his way; and the Lord gave him up for our sins. (Isaiah 53:6 LXE)

This verse presents a plural subject “we” and a singular object “him.” The sentence, “And the Lord gave him up for our sins,” clearly distinguishes two sets of people. One belongs to the group of plural people characterized by “our sins.” The other is a singular person, “him,” whom the Lord gave up. Verses 7 and 8 continue speaking of a singular individual, “he.”

2. Isaiah 53:8 LXE also distinguishes two separate characters. One group, introduced by a first person narrator, Isaiah calls “my people,” clearly plural. The other is a singular person “he” who “was led to death,” a singular verb, on behalf of “my people,” plural.

3. Verse 9 speaks of this individual occupying a particular grave. Such a statement could not apply even metaphorically to a group.

4. Isaiah 53:12 LXE also names two distinct sets of people. One is the individual “he,” or “my Servant,” from Isaiah 52:13. The other is a group of “many,” whose sins the individual “he” bore.

5. Other readers who may look for further evidence will most likely find it.

Because the passage stands as a unified whole, the individual known as “he” in the latter verses of chapter 53 is the same person whom God calls “my Servant” in the first verse of the passage, that is, Isaiah 52:13 LXE.

To learn more about God’s Servant, see the previous posts, Isaiah Devotional 2.42 and Isaiah Devotional 2.43.

Who Then Is the Suffering Servant?

The suffering Servant is the same singular Servant, God’s own special Servant, whom Isaiah presents in various passages throughout the book. This blog has explored these passages (2).

1 The Alexandrine text of the Septuagint does not contain the phrase “covenant of a race.” It does, however, include the phrase in Isaiah 42:6.

2 A personal note: When I first began reading Scripture in the interlinear Septuagint, I noticed that this version brings forth Christ clearly and regularly, more so than many English translations of the Masoretic text. The revelation of Christ in its pages became one of the main reasons why I began to study Greek. Isaiah 43:10 LXE provides a good example of the presence of Christ in the Septuagint.

Who Is The Suffering Servant? Isaiah Journal 2.44

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/who-is-the-suffering-servant-isaiah-devotional-2-44/.

Who Is the Suffering Servant?
Isaiah 52:13-53:12 

Congregations hear the Suffering Servant passage read aloud to them extremely often. The Easter season is a most popular time for church goers to consider this passage. In my personal experience, the reading always begins with 53:1. As a young person, I remember wondering, “Why is Isaiah so vague? He never identifies who he’s talking about. How can people be certain this passage refers to Christ?” That is a natural question, since the twelve verses all say, “he, he, his, him,” without further identification. I am sure I am not alone in my response (Cf. Acts 8:30-34). This is because reading passages out of context often leads to comprehension difficulties.

Context: The Servant’s Identity

Context is paramount when listeners and readers consider the meaning of any one verse. The Fourth Servant Song, as the passage which includes Isaiah 53 is popularly called, begins in Isaiah 52:13. There, God himself distinctly identifies the “he” used throughout the passage.

Behold, my servant shall understand, and be exalted, and glorified exceedingly. (Isaiah 52:13 Septuagint in American English LXE) (See prior post Devotional 2.42.)

God begins speaking of “my Servant” in 52:13. Following this, the text continues unbroken through the end of chapter 53. Therefore, the “he” referenced throughout chapter 53 is God’s Servant.

But Who Is the Servant?


The Servant cannot be Israel for several reasons.

1. In the passage immediately following chapter 53, God does address Israel his people. This message to Israel differs from the message of the Servant Song that begins in chapter 52:13. In particular, the Servant always pleases God, whereas Israel rarely did. Concerning the Servant see Isaiah 52:13; 53:5, 9, 11 and 12. Concerning Israel see Isaiah 54:4-9.

2. Verse 5 states that the Servant “was wounded on account of our sins, and was bruised because of our iniquities.” It is true that God did wound and bruise Israel on account of their sin (consider for example, the exile). This sentence, however, reads as though the Servant were someone other than Israel. The verbs concerning the Servant are always singular in this verse. On the other hand, the adjectives which modify the lawlessness and sin are plural. Readers of plain, ordinary speech would think that the text mentions two characters. If the Servant were Israel, then there would be only one.

3. Verse 9 prophesies that the Servant will be buried in a concrete-literal tomb. This would not work as a metaphor for a group of people.

4. The book of Isaiah as a whole follows a particular storyline. The basic elements of the story follow.

1) Israel continues to sin and rebel against God.
2) God punishes them temporally through a series of wars. These culminate in their exile.
3) God calls them home. This serves as a physical sign of his having forgiven them.
4) God announces his comfort to them. He will bring this comfort to them through the actions of his Servant.
5) Finally, God promises the future well-being of his people. Their glorious future includes Gentiles joined with them.

God builds to a climactic presentation of his special Servant as the one through whom he will bless his people Israel and Gentiles the world over.

5. In general, readers can find a difference in content and language between Isaiah’s servant passages referencing the people Israel and those which reference his special Servant. First, in the former passages, God tends to speak at length in first person with reference to himself and what he will do for Israel. Further, these passages contain a large amount of prophecy concerning what will happen to Israel. Additionally, the servant passages concerning God’s people give little information about the people. God does not describe them in third person, except perhaps, in judgment. The following passages illustrate these points: Isaiah 41:8-20; Isaiah 44:1-5, 21-28; 45:4-8.

The special Servant passages also contain prophecies concerning what will happen to the Servant, and God does speak in first person about what he will do for him. But the big difference is that these passages present information about the nature and character of the Servant himself. See Isaiah 42:1-4; 49:2; and 52:13-15. In contrast to these, the passages that speak of God’s people as his servant lack these positive statements about them. If God describes them at all, he uses negative language (see Isaiah 52:1-5).


In short, I find no support for this viewpoint. To give just one example, Isaiah the prophet “bore the sins” of no one (Isaiah 53:4 LXE).


The list of characters in the book of Isaiah is very short:

1. Isaiah the narrator
2. Israel the nation
3. Israel the people
4. The enemies of Israel
5. The Gentiles who find favor with God
6. The Servant
7. God

If the Servant is neither Isaiah the prophet nor the people of Israel, then there is really no one else he could be other than the Servant of God identified throughout the book as someone whom God accords glory on a par with his own.

6 And he said to me, It is a great thing for you to be called my servant, to establish the tribes of Jacob, and to recover the dispersion of Israel: behold, I have given you for the covenant of a race, for a light of the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the end of the earth. 7 Thus says the Lord that delivered you, the God of Israel, Sanctify him that despises his life, him that is abhorred by the nations that are the servants of princes: kings shall behold him, and princes shall arise, and shall worship him, for the Lord’s sake: for the Holy One of Israel is faithful, and I have chosen you. (Isaiah 49:6-7 LXE

Readers should note that Isaiah’s vocabulary mentions the word “Christ” (anointed) only once in the entire book. In Isaiah 45:1 God calls Cyrus the Persian “my anointed.” Clearly, however, the New Testament identifies Isaiah’s “Servant” with Israel’s Christ, i.e., the Son of God.

  1. Scripture identifies Jesus the Christ as God’s Servant in Acts 3:13, 26; 4:27 and 30.
  2. New Testament readers find quotations from the Suffering Servant passage in Romans 15:15, 21; John 12:38; Romans 10:16; Matthew 8:17; Acts 8:32-33; 1 Peter 2:22; and Luke 22:37.


The key to God’s comfort for his people lies with his special Servant. Isaiah has been building up to the climax of this part of the “story” throughout the book, and in particular since chapter 40 began.

The next post will explore in greater detail the distinctives of this Servant passage against other servant passages in Isaiah which do reference God’s people Israel as his servant.

Isaiah 52:13 The Suffering Servant: Isaiah Journal 2.43

By Christina M Wilson. Previously posted at https://justonesmallvoice.com/isaiah-52-13-the-suffering-servant-isaiah-devotional-2-43/.

Continued  from Isaiah Devotional 2.42

The Suffering Servant Song Begins

Septuagint Isaiah 52:13 (LXX) begins a new section that extends through the end of chapter 53. This magnificent portion is known popularly as the great Suffering Servant song. It is the fourth Servant Song in Isaiah (1).

Brief Outline

Differences with the Masoretic

…..1. First Verb: “My Servant shall understand”
…..2. Second Verb: [My Servant shall] “be exalted”
3. Third Verb: [My Servant shall be] “glorified exceedingly”

Second Verb: [My Servant shall] “be exalted”

An interesting feature of the Septuagint is that it shares the same language as the New Testament. Further, the Koine Greek of the New Testament is very similar to modern Greek. For example, when I studied Greek, I learned to read Koine with modern pronunciation. Anyone who reads modern Greek most likely could read the New Testament with ease, as well as the Septuagint. Further, the Septuagint translators of the Hebrew Bible wrote only three hundred years before Christ ministered and his followers later wrote what became known as the New Testament. In other words, the language hadn’t changed much between the two events. Beyond this, the “lingua franca” of the Mediterranean region, including Palestine, was Greek. There is strong textual evidence that the authors of the New Testament quoted the Septuagint freely. All this goes to say that the New Testament authors knew their Scripture in Greek.

The Septuagint Greek word for “shall be exalted” is “ὑψωθήσεται” (eep-so-thee-se-tay). In a concrete-literal sense, the word means to be raised or lifted up in elevation. The base word (root, or lemma) can refer to something that is high in elevation. Examples of this usage in Isaiah occur with reference to the house of the Lord, which will be located on the top of a high hill (Isaiah 2:2) and cedars, which have grown to a great height (Isaiah 2:13). An example of this word being used as an adjective to indicate height occurs in the phrase “high hill” Isaiah 30:25. The prophet writes of a “high cave” in Isaiah 33:16.

The same word also supplies a broad range of metaphorical meanings. In fact, its metaphorical occurrences in Isaiah far outnumber its concrete-literal occurrences. For example, Septuagint Isaiah uses “ὑψωθήσεται” to indicate raising children (1:2 and 51:18), to lift the voice loudly in calling to or addressing others (13:2, 37:23, 40:9, 52:8), to indicate strength or power (an “exalted: arm, as in Isaiah 26:11), and to be lifted up with pride (19:13). Additionally, Isaiah often uses the word to indicate an honorable or socially elevated position. This usage resembles the word “glorified.” See Isaiah 2:17 and 4:2.

In several places, Isaiah uses the word “exalt” or “lift” ambiguously. In these instances, the word contains elements of both physical height and socially positional exaltation. One well known example occurs in Isaiah 6:1. Another example occurs in Isaiah 2:2. There the prophet states that in the last days the house of the Lord will be physically on top of the mountains and physically lifted up above the hills. However, the text undoubtedly contains the further element of exaltation (height) in the sense of glory. Isaiah writes with ambiguity in other places, as well. Isaiah 57:15 provides excellent examples of multiple uses of the adjective “high.” The context in this verse indicates both physical height and exaltation of position.

Nevertheless, Isaiah’s use of the word “ὑψωθήσεται” (eep-so-thee-se-tay) to indicate being lifted or raised up in physical height is relatively infrequent. A study of the Greek text of Isaiah (by means of a Greek concordance) reveals a significantly greater usage of several synonyms to indicate a physical lifting in height. In other words, had the Gospel of John never been written, it would be highly justifiable to interpret “ὑψωθήσεται” (eep-so-thee-se-tay) in Isaiah 52:13 LXX as a repetitious synonym of the following word, which is “shall be glorified.”

Because the Hebrew text uses three verbs in this location instead of the Septuagint’s two, the meaning of physical height and socially positioned honor for the Servant becomes clearer. Compare the Greek and Hebrew below.

Behold, my servant shall understand, and be exalted, and glorified exceedingly. (Isaiah 52:13 LXE)

Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. (ESV)

“Look, my servant will succeed! He will be elevated, lifted high, and greatly exalted– (NET)


The New Testament presents Jesus as Israel’s incarnated Savior and Isaiah’s prophesied Servant of God (Matthew 2:2; 27:11, 37; John 5:19). Jesus exploited the ambiguity inherent in the word “ὑψωθήσεται.” He recalled to his listeners Moses’s bronze serpent, which he “exalted” or “lifted up” in the wilderness. Moses had used a pole to physically elevate the serpent where everyone could see it (Numbers 21:5-9). Jesus explained to Nicodemus that the Son of Man must be “lifted up,” just as Moses “lifted” the serpent in the wilderness (John 3:14). In saying this, Jesus referred to his crucifixion. But he chose to use the word “ὑψωθήσεται”  rather than one of its more common synonyms, just as Isaiah had chosen in Isaiah 52:13 LXE. Two other times John uses this word in connection with Jesus’s being physically elevated on the cross. These occur in John 8:28 and 12:34. (See also John 8:28 mGNT and John 12:34 mGNT).

The activity of being crucified surely does not indicate an exaltation of social position or honor. Rather, being “lifted up” or “exalted” on a cross is just about the lowest, most shameful condition that ever could befall a person in biblical days. Nevertheless, because Jesus submitted himself to the physical lifting up of crucifixion, God gave him the highest exaltation (glory) of any human being ever (Philippians 2:8-9). Now the word Paul uses in the Philippians text is an intensified form of the same verb the prophet uses in Isaiah 52:13. And this is also the verb that Jesus chose to indicate the manner of his death by being nailed to a cross.

In summary, by means of the cross, God exalted Jesus both physically (being nailed to the cross lifted him up) and positionally (because he endured the cross, God exalted, that is glorified, him.) Although we as readers today may never know this side of the grave exactly what Isaiah intended in 52:13, we can be assured that God understands the effective use of literary ambiguity (double meaning) at least as well as we. In explaining the cross to others, Jesus emphasized the physical aspect of the word “ὑψωθήσεται.” Yet, in his letters Paul indicates its metaphorical use in terms of glory. Quite possibly, through Isaiah, God intends both.


(See Isaiah Devotional 2.42 for a previous discussion of this verse’s context.)

The broadest context of Isaiah 52:13 LXE is God’s Servant in relation to God’s comforting Zion. The specific near context of this verse is the suffering the Servant will endure. The fourteen verses immediately following 52:13 establish the context of the Servant’s suffering joined with Zion’s deliverance. All the verbs of verse 13 occur within this context.

“Lifted Up” in the Context of God’s Mercy on Zion

At least two other uses of “lift up” or “exalt” occur in Isaiah within the context of God’s merciful saving of his people. First, the text presents an early example in Isaiah 30:18 LXE. The story line of this chapter is Israel’s sin, God’s punishment of his people, God’s urging them to repentance, and the saving mercy he will display when they do. Verse 18 announces the means God will use to enact his grace. That means is his “exaltation,” or “lifting up.” We have already noted the double meaning of this word: one physical (the cross) and one metaphorical (glory). Note the richness of this verse when read in a Christian context.

And the Lord will again wait, that he may pity you, and will therefore be exalted that he may have mercy upon you: because the Lord your God is a judge: blessed are they that stay themselves upon him. Isaiah 30:18 LXE

A second example of Isaiah’s use of “exalt” ὑψόω (eep-so-oh) in the context of his mercy occurs in Isaiah 33:10.

Isaiah 33:10 Now will I arise, says the Lord, now will I be glorified; now will I be exalted. (LXE)

In the above text, the final verb of the three is ὑψωθήσομαι (eep-soe-thee-so-may). This is the same verb in a slightly different grammatical form as the one Isaiah uses in 52:13. The entire context of chapter 33 concerns God’s saving his people from her enemies. Yet the underlying cause of Israel’s misery remained her own sin. Isaiah 33:24, just a few verses down, establishes the context as that of God’s mercy over sin. Ultimately, God achieves his purpose of giving mercy by means of his “exaltation” on the cross. There he dealt with the sin of his people.

Third Verb: [My Servant shall be] “glorified exceedingly” 

The third verb Isaiah uses in Isaiah 52:13 Septuagint is “shall be glorified exceedingly” The verb itself is “δοξάζω” (dox-sa-zoe). The intensifier “exceedingly” is an adverb. “Glorify” is a frequent verb in all of Greek Scripture, both Old and New Testaments. Its most common meaning is the one here. God’s Servant will be honored, held in a high position of great esteem; he will radiate God’s beauty and excellence.


Isaiah 52:13 Septuagint uses three verbs that foreshadow, or prophesy, the life of God’s Servant. The first is “shall understand.” God’s Servant will understand God’s ways and purpose and will live accordingly. Messiah Jesus fulfilled this prophecy (Matthew 13:54; Luke 2:52; 20:39-40; John 2:24-25). A second verb is “exalt.” It can be translated as “lift up.” Messiah Jesus fulfilled this prophecy when he was lifted up on the cross. The third verb is “shall be glorified.” Messiah God’s Servant Jesus also fulfills this prophecy. First, God resurrected him from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3). Second, God “exalted” him (lifted him up) to heaven (Acts 1:9). Finally, God gave him the name that is above all other names and to him every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth (Philippians 2:9-11) (2).

1 The four Servant Songs occur in Isaiah 42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; and 52:13-53:12.

2 Some readers may notice that in this post I break two of the rules a certain branch of hermeneutics (biblical interpretation) holds dear. First, I use the New Testament to inform my interpretation of the Old. I do this because this is a Christian post. Jesus God’s Son, albeit in the New Testament, teaches his followers to do just this (Luke 24:27, Jesus “hermeneuticked” to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.) Second, in Septuagint Isaiah 52:13, the word “ὑψωθήσεται” (eep-so-thee-se-tay) has two possible and plausible lexical meanings for the same text. I see no reason to suppose that God, being aware of this, would not have intended both meanings. Both interpretations would be correct in context. Who, then, am I to even think of imposing my hermeneutical rules upon God Most High (who is lifted up in both height and glory)? And unfortunately, Isaiah is no longer present with us for me to ask him how he understood God’s word.

Isaiah 52:13 The Suffering Servant: Isaiah Journal 2.42

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/isaiah-52-13-the-suffering-servant-isaiah-devotional-2-42/.

The Suffering Servant Song Begins

Septuagint Isaiah 52:13 (LXX) begins a new section that extends through the end of chapter 53. This magnificent portion is popularly known as the great Suffering Servant Song. It is the fourth Servant Song in Isaiah (1).


Isaiah has been building up to the Suffering Servant section of chapter 53. Three times he has called to Jerusalem and Sion. He urges them to 1) wake up and put on strength (Isaiah 51:9 Septuagint), 2) wake up and stand up (Isaiah 51:17), and 3) wake up and put on strength and glory (Isaiah 52:1). (Some commentators notice a progression in this series.) God has described the difficult position of the people of Sion and Jerusalem while in exile (Isaiah 51:17-21). He has owned himself as the one whose wrath the foreign invaders poured upon them (Isaiah 42:22-25 and 51:20-21). Through these invaders God expressed his great displeasure with his people’s sin and idolatry (Isaiah 44:9-21).

Mostly, however, the theme of this second half of the book of Isaiah has been comfort (Isaiah 40:1). The text constantly returns to this topic. As readers move through the chapters, they find that God intends to comfort his people through the advent of his very own Servant. Thus the context of the Servant dominates these chapters.

Readers heard the Servant himself speak in the third Servant Song, Isaiah 50:4-9. In Isaiah 50:6 the Servant indicates that he will suffer, “I gave my back to scourges, and my cheeks to blows; and I turned not away my face from the shame of spitting:” (LXE). The context of these chapters therefore includes the concept that the Servant will suffer. But this same passage also indicates that God will help the Servant. All men are mortal and will die. Isaiah 50:9, however, implies that God’s help to his Servant will surpass the harm that mortal men may inflict. Finally, Isaiah exhorts the people to trust God’s Servant in Isaiah 50:10. The text does not mention the Servant again until Isaiah 52:13.

A Few Details

Here is the Septuagint text of Isaiah 52:13.

Behold, my servant shall understand, and be exalted, and glorified exceedingly. (Septuagint Isaiah 52:13


First, the text changes speakers with this verse. Backing up to Isaiah 52:6 and 7, it seems highly likely that God’s Servant speaks those verses. He is the one who is “present” with God’s people. Following those verses, it appears as though Isaiah takes over the speaker’s role. This conclusion mostly derives from the text’s repeated reference to the “Lord” in third person in verses 8 through 12.

If readers agree that “my Servant” in verse 13 refers to the Servant of the Lord, then the word “my” would indicate that God speaks verse 13. The only other person who might reasonably speak this verse is Isaiah. But surely the prophet in previous passages never refers to the Servant with his own personal pronoun “my”, and he wouldn’t do so here. The speaker must therefore be God. God continues to speak verse 14, where he addresses the Servant directly in second person (you and your).

Biblical support for the conclusion that God speaks about his Servant in Isaiah 52:13 and directly to his Servant in verse 14 appears in a verse similar to this one and prior to it. This occurs in the second Servant Song of Isaiah 49:1-6. There, in verses 3 and 6, God addresses the Servant directly.

Following God’s direct speech to his Servant in 52:14, the speaker seems to change again. Although it is possible that God continues speaking verse 15, it seems unlikely. This is because the speaker no longer addresses the Servant directly, as in verse 14. Rather, the speaker refers to the Servant in third person. Even though a change of speakers seems abrupt here, Isaiah does make abrupt changes frequently. Considering all the evidence, it seems most reasonable to assume that Isaiah the prophet speaks verse 15.


God, in his own voice (see the subheading just above), describes the Servant with the personal adjective “my.” God states, “Behold, my servant shall… ” By speaking thus, God acknowledges his Servant as his own. The effect is to distinguish the Servant from the rest of God’s people. Continuously throughout the entire book of Isaiah, God specifies the shortcomings of his people Israel (or Sion or Jerusalem.) By saying, “Behold, my servant shall … “, God places his Servant in his own unique category. The three verbs which follow apply to the Servant. These words and prior texts  preclude the possibility that the Servant is anyone other than the one who stands with God from distant eternity past. (See the post The Singular Servant: Isaiah Devotional 2.9.)

Differences with the Masoretic

The Greek Septuagint text of Isaiah 52:13 differs from the Hebrew Masoretic in a few ways.

13 Behold, my servant shall understand, and be exalted, and glorified exceedingly. (Septuagint Isaiah 52:13

Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.
(Isaiah 52:13 ESV)

“Look, my servant will succeed! He will be elevated, lifted high, and greatly exalted– (Isaiah 52:13 NET)


First, while the Septuagint contains three verbs after the auxiliary “shall,” the Masoretic has four. The Septuagint lists “understand,” “shall be exalted,” and [shall be] “glorified.” The Masoretic lists “shall act wisely,” “shall be high,” [shall be] “lifted up,” and “shall be exalted.” As we consider the following, readers should bear in mind that one of Scripture’s purposes in this verse is to distinguish God’s Servant from the rest of his people. His people have fallen short; how will the one God calls “my Servant” be different?


1. First Verb: “My Servant shall understand”

In the Septuagint, the Greek word for “understand” is συνίημι (see-nee-mee). According to Thayer, the word has no meaning that could be translated as “to succeed.” In the context of Isaiah, the Servant, as distinct from the people of Israel, shall understand the will of God. In context, that would include his Law and his purpose.

The Hebrew word the Septuagint translates is שׂכל (sakal). This word has two families of meaning. One meaning is “to understand, have insight.” Another meaning is “to succeed.” As shown above, the ESV translates the text with the first meaning, and the NET with the second. The Amplified Bible translates both meanings, writing, “My Servant shall deal wisely and shall prosper.” This discussion follows the Septuagint.

Here are further examples of Isaiah’s use of the verb “understand.”

Isaiah 6:9 You shall hear indeed, but you shall not understand; and you shall see indeed, but you shall not perceive. (LXE)

Isaiah 43:10 Be you my witnesses, and I too am a witness, says the Lord God, and my servant whom I have chosen: that you may know, and believe, and understand that I am he: before me there was no other God, and after me there shall be none. (LXE)

Isaiah 56:11 Yea, they are insatiable dogs, that known not what it is to be filled, and they are wicked, having no understanding: all have followed their own ways, each according to his will. (LXE)

By stating in Isaiah 52:13, “My Servant shall understand,” God distinguishes him as being different than the other children of Israel.

Jesus made several statements containing the word “understand.” When Jesus speaks in the following examples, he uses the same verb as the one God uses in Isaiah. In the other examples, the gospel narrators use Isaiah’s verb.

Matthew 13:13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘”You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” 15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ (Matthew 13:13-14 ESV)

Mark 7:14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: (ESV)

Mark 8:17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? (ESV)

Luke 18:34 But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said. (ESV)

Luke 24:45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, (ESV)

2. Second Verb: [My Servant shall] “be exalted”

To be continued…

1 The four Servant Songs occur in Isaiah 42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; and 52:13-53:12.

Isaiah 52:1-12 LXX: Isaiah Journal 2.41

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/isaiah-52-1-12-lxx-isaiah-devotional-2-41/.

… Continued from Isaiah 52:1-12 LXX: Isaiah Devotional 2.40 – justonesmallvoice.com

Recap: Evidence of the Incarnation in Verse Six

  1. “In that day” 
  2. Use of the Particular Phrase “I AM (ego eimi) he” 
  3. The Statement “Therefore, my people shall  know my name.” 
  4. The Statement, “I am present” 
  5. The Context Following Verse 6

Verse 10, Gentiles, and the Servant’s Incarnation

Septuagint Isaiah 52:10 further supports the theme of the Servant’s incarnation introduced in verse 6.

10 And the Lord shall reveal his holy arm in the sight of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation that comes from our God. (LXE)

Brenton’s translation above writes “all the nations” for the Greek phrase πάντων τῶν ἐθνῶν (pantone-tone-ethnone) in Isaiah 52:10 LXX. Often, however, the word for “nations” is translated “Gentiles.” The translation in today’s Orthodox Study Bible (1) is “The Lord will reveal His holy arm before all the Gentiles, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God.”  The phrase “all the nations” means those nations who are not Israel. (See Isaiah 41:2; 42:4, 6; 49:6; 51:5; and 52:5, also in Brenton.) The phrase “all the ends of the earth” also signifies Gentiles, since Israel never extended that far.


What does inclusion of Gentile nations at this point signify? The text explicitly states that “all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation that comes from our God.” Will all these Gentile people simply “see” God saving those belonging to Jerusalem and Sion? Or, will they also experience that salvation first hand? The answer is both, as Paul writes in Romans 10:14-15 ESV.

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:14-15 ESV) 

The Servant (Christ) gave his final commandment before ascending into heaven.

Matthew 28:19 ESV Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

The Greek word translated “nations” in verse 19 above is identical (excluding grammatical form) to the word Isaiah uses. Biblically and historically, the only time-frame in which God offers the identical salvation to Gentiles en masse that he offers to his people Sion occurs after the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, God’s chosen Servant.

Finally, in other widely accepted messianic passages in Isaiah, the prophet mentions salvation for Gentiles.

And he said to me, It is a great thing for you to be called my servant, to establish the tribes of Jacob, and to recover the dispersion of Israel: behold, I have given you for the covenant of a race, for a light of the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the end of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6)

My righteousness speedily draws near, and my salvation shall go forth as light, and on my arm shall the Gentiles trust: the isles shall wait for me, and on my arm shall they trust. (Isaiah 51:5)

See also Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:10; and 42:1, 4, and 6.

Verses 11 and 12: Change of Topic

In a brusque manner without transition, verses 11 and 12 leave the specific topic of the incarnation. The words appear to be spoken by Isaiah the prophet. Isaiah 52:11 LXX forms a call, a command to separate and depart from what is unclean, or unholy. Verse 12 describes the manner of departure.

Verse 11

The text of verse 11 follows just below.

Depart you, depart, go out from thence, and touch not the unclean thing; go you out from the midst of her; separate yourselves, you that bear the vessels of the Lord. (Septuagint Isaiah 52:11 LXE


  1. The phrase “depart… depart” in Greek translates the same root as that of the New Testament’s word “apostate.” So here in Isaiah, God is commanding his people to apostatize from the pagan religion of the peoples surrounding them in Babylonia.
  2. The text does not specify the location from which God orders his people to leave. “Go out from the midst of her.” According to the local circumstance of the people who first heard Isaiah, the “her” could apply to Babylonia, the nation of their exile. But in the larger context of the advent of God’s Servant, “her” would have no concrete-physical application. The Lord Christ never gave order for anyone to physically leave Jerusalem or anywhere else.
  3. The Greek text uses the phrase “separate yourselves,” while the Hebrew text (ESV) specifies “purify.” Many a sermon and Bible study lesson has been taught concerning the relationship between separation and purity.
  4. God through Isaiah commands “You who bear the vessels of the Lord” to depart from the midst of her. This phrase would indicate that the command specifically concerns Levites and priests (1 Kings 8:4). However, as the book of Ezra records, King Cyrus of Persia invited families of several tribes, not just the tribe of Levi, to leave Babylon (Ezra 1:3-5). While this perhaps may be a minor point, the New Testament does describe all believers as priests (Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6).
  5. The Greek New Testament uses various grammatical forms of the word “ἐκκλησία” (ek-lee-see-a), meaning “church”, more than 100 times. This word literally means “called out” or “called forth” (Thayer). So already in Septuagint Isaiah we see that God is calling out his church.


How does the call to depart, separate, and go out relate to New Testament teaching? The following New Testament verses draw excellent analogies with Isaiah 52:11. Verse 17 of the first example quotes Isaiah directly.

17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18 ESV)

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, (Colossians 1:13 ESV)

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1Peter 2:9 ESV)

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. (1John 3:14 ESV)

Someone might say that an application such as the above “spiritualizes” the text of Isaiah. But if that is so, then it is God through his Word who spiritualizes.

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”  (John 4:24 ESV)

Verse 12

The text of verse 12 follows just below.

For you shall not go forth with tumult, neither go by flight: for the Lord shall go first in advance of you; and the God of Israel shall be he that brings up your rear. (LXE

Verse 12 describes the manner in which the people shall go “out from the midst of her” (verse 11). It shall be an orderly, calm, and measured exit. The Lord (Yahweh in Hebrew and κύριος-kurios-in Greek) shall lead. The “God of Israel” will bring up the rear. The actual Greek text reads, “Lord the God of Israel.” “Lord” is mentioned twice in verse 12.


1. Septuagint verse 12 clearly establishes that the Lord (Yahweh in Hebrew and κύριος-kurios-in Greek) is identical to the God of Israel. Verse 12 writes “God” as θεὸς (theos) in Greek. As many students of the New Testament know, Jesus Christ was well known by the title “Lord,” which is κύριος-kurios.

2. The image this verse provides for the exodus is similar to the way hiking groups organize themselves for a trek. The hike leader walks in front, choosing the way. The other team member, who is very nearly as important, is the person who follows behind. Hikers call this person the “sweep.” The image is of a broom sweeping up everyone and keeping the group together. Without a sweep, stragglers or the slightly rebellious (those who are prone to wander) might get separated from the group and lost, injured, or even attacked by a wild animal, such as a mountain lion. The sweep also animates the dawdlers to keep up, so that the entire group makes good progress. Isaiah presents the image of God in front and God in the rear. Truly, the group is well-protected with God all around.

3. The New English Translation Septuagint writes “the Lord God of Israel is the one who gathers you together” in verse 12. Brenton appears to base his translation (“he that brings up your rear”) upon the Masoretic text (see Isaiah 52:12 ESV), although he does include a footnote explaining that the Greek word means “gathers you.” The Greek word itself is “ἐπισυνάγων” (epi-syn-ά-goan). Some may recognize the word “synagogue” within it. The meaning of the verb is “to gather together besides, to bring together to others already assembled” or “to gather together in one place” (both definitions from Thayer). The Greek New Testament uses forms of this word some 56 times to mean “synagogue.”

4. The description of the orderly, calm, and protected manner in which God calls out of his people in Septuagint Isaiah 52:12 contrasts sharply with the exodus from Jerusalem which Jesus describes in Matthew 24:15-22 ESV. It would seem that he (Messiah) knew that concrete-physical Jerusalem would not always remain the capital city of his chosen people. Confer Paul in Galatians 4:21-31 ESV.

A New Section

The final two verses of chapter 52 comprise a new section. Many Bibles mark out a new paragraph here. Verse 6 introduced the topic of the Servant’s incarnation and his work on earth. Verses 11 and 12 describe the outcome: formation of the Lord’s church. Then in verse 13 God speaks again. He directly names “My Servant,” and speaks of his glory and exaltation. We will consider these verses more fully in the next post, Lord willing.

1 Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, Elk Grove, California. The Orthodox Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008.

Isaiah 52:1-12 LXX: Isaiah Journal 2.40

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/isaiah-52-1-12-lxx-isaiah-devotional-2-40/.

… Continued from Isaiah 52:1-12 LXX: Isaiah Devotional 2.39 – justonesmallvoice.com

Recap: Evidence of the Incarnation in Verse Six

  1. “In that day” 
  2. Use of the Particular Phrase “I AM (ego eimi) he” 
  3. The Statement “Therefore, my people shall  know my name.” 
  4. The Statement, “I am present” 
  5. The Context Following Verse 6

Verses 7-10 Support Verse 6

The context which follows verse 6 supplies a final support for the understanding that Septuagint Isaiah 52:6 speaks of the Servant’s incarnation. First, verse 7 signals an immediate shift in tone from chastisement to joyful remedy. Verses 7-10 announce not just the salvation, or deliverance, of Zion (Israel), but of the whole Gentile world to the end of the earth. We begin with verse 7.

Isaiah 52 … 6 I am present 7as a season of beauty upon the mountains, as the feet of one preaching glad tidings of peace, as one preaching good news: for I will publish your salvation, saying, O Sion, your God shall reign. (LXE)

Readers will find that various translations of Isaiah 52:7 from both the Greek text and the Hebrew text differ somewhat one from another. But the main thrust of the verse in every translation points in the same direction–that of joyful gladness. A messenger arrives upon the mountains of Sion to proclaim salvation and the sovereignty of God. The news is good news. The messenger announces peace.

Who Is the Messenger?

1. Some may say that John the Baptist is the messenger of verse 7. Scripture calls this prophet “the messenger of the covenant” in whom God delights (Malachi 3:1). New Testament readers know, however, that John preached a message of repentance. “2 ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ …7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?'” (Matthew 3:2-7 ESV) See also Acts 18:24 and 19:4.

2. In keeping with God’s proclamation in verse 6, the messenger in verse 7 most likely is God’s Servant (Christ the Son).


The peace Christ the Servant announces is a new peace between humanity and God.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (ESV)

47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment– what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (John 12:47-50 ESV)

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. (ESV)


Christ the Servant also announced, “O Zion, your God reigns” (SAAS) (1).

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17 ESV)


3. The Apostle Paul also interprets Isaiah 52:7. He gives a plural reading for Isaiah’s singular preacher of good news in verse 7. These harbingers of the message of peace and God’s sovereignty are the apostles and other believers who go out to their friends and neighbors to share the glad tidings of salvation.

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:14-15 ESV)

The Message of Salvation

The prophet in Isaiah 52:7 introduces the word “salvation.” The name “Jesus” (Joshua) approximately transliterates the Hebrew word for salvation (Strong’s number 03444). The Hebrew spelling is יְשׁוּעָ֑ה. Its pronunciation is Yeshua.

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 ESV)

Verses 8 and 9

Septuagint Isaiah 52:8-9 continues the theme of gladness and joy. Verse 8 focuses on the people, while verse 9 focuses on the place.



8 For the voice of them that guard you is exalted, and with the voice together they shall rejoice: for eyes shall look to eyes, when the Lord shall have mercy upon Sion. (LXE)

Those who “guard” Sion are its watchmen. The watchmen are stationed on the mountains in order to see what is happening in the distance. They are the ones who bring news. Prophets are also spiritual watchmen. Many Old Testament prophets saw the advent of Messiah from a distance and shouted out his arrival with joy. Isaiah is but one of these.

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, (John 5:39 ESV)

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27 ESV)

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. (1Peter 1:10-11 ESV)


The Septuagint phrase, “eyes shall look to eyes” is an interesting figure of speech. We have such a phrase in English that signifies agreement, “We saw eye to eye with each other.” Fred Miller translates the Septuagint phrase this way. The same phrase is used in the Hebrew text. Seeing “eye to eye” does bring joy–the joy of oneness. When John the Apostle describes the oneness of God the Father and the Logos, he uses the phrase “face to face.” “The Word was with God” (John 1:1). Most students have heard their pastors or teachers expound the Greek of this phrase, “πρὸς τὸν θεόν.” They explain that the word πρὸς (pros) signifies face to face (or, eye to eye).

Christ (the Servant) identifies one of the joys of his followers as that of oneness.

John 17:11 ESV And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one… 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves… 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us… 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one,

The Apostle Paul picks up the theme of oneness in Christ.

5 May … God… grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6 ESV)

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body– Jews or Greeks, slaves or free– and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1Corinthians 12:13 ESV)

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28 ESV)

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 … that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. (Ephesians 2:14-16 ESV)

4 There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call– 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6 ESV)

Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. (Philippians 2:2 ESV)


Finally, the exaltation, the rejoicing, and the oneness will occur “when the Lord shall have mercy upon Sion” (verse 8, LXE). In the immediate context of the people hearing Isaiah, that time of mercy would occur when God would liberate them from their Babylonian captivity. In the larger context, however, a more enduring time of mercy would occur when the messenger(s) on the mountains would bring the good news of Sion’s redemption, their salvation.

Other Translations

ESV Isaiah 52:8 The voice of your watchmen– they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the LORD to Zion.

NET Isaiah 52:8 Listen, your watchmen shout; in unison they shout for joy, for they see with their very own eyes the LORD’s return to Zion.

CJB Isaiah 52:8 Listen! Your watchmen are raising their voices, shouting for joy together. For they will see, before their own eyes, ADONAI returning to Tziyon.


Let the waste places of Jerusalem break forth in joy together, because the Lord has had mercy upon her, and has delivered Jerusalem. (LXE)

As previously mentioned, verse 9 focuses on place. During the captivity, Jerusalem existed, but was hardly recognizable. Most of its citizens had been carried away into exile. The temple had been destroyed. Notice that the prophet is so sure of Jerusalem’s future deliverance that he writes using past tense. When the Lord shows his mercy on Jerusalem, all of her waste places shall rejoice.

The statement, if taken concrete-literally, must of course be interpreted as a metaphor. Piles of physical rocks and rubble do not express human emotion. Most readers will see Jerusalem in this verse as a symbol for the people and the place. This resembles the use of Sion in the previous verse. The Lord will show his mercy, his redemption and salvation, on the people of Sion, more so than upon a mere physical location. Some readers may go even further and find that the text refers basically to Jerusalem’s people. It is people who concern God far more than locations of his physical creation.

Nevertheless, in Scripture Jerusalem does represent a physical location where God’s people gather. Some readers seem to be very tied to a concrete-physical location, while others are content with a spiritual location. Ultimately, this verse will find its climactic fulfillment when the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven in the final age to come.

Revelation 3:12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 

Notice in the above quotation the spiritual nature of the new Jerusalem which the writer himself interprets. He writes that Christ will make those who conquer “a pillar” in the temple of God. Surely, he does not mean a physical pillar? Secondly, he will write names “on him” who conquers. And yet the Old Testament forbade marking the body with tattoos (Leviticus 19:28).

Paul in Ephesians 2:19-22 speaks of believers forming a spiritual building together. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews speaks of a heavenly city (Hebrews 12:22). One thing is certain, whether concrete-physical or spiritual-physical, the “city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14) will be a glorious city.

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.”

Evidence of the Incarnation in Verse 6 to be continued…

Isaiah 52:1-12 LXX: Isaiah Journal 2.39

By Christina M Wilson. A reprint of https://justonesmallvoice.com/isaiah-52-1-12-lxx-isaiah-devotional-2-39/.

Recap: Three Addresses to Jerusalem

Isaiah 52:1-12 LXX (Septuagint) is the final triplet addressed to Jerusalem. These three addresses prepare the reader for the fourth Servant Song that begins in Isaiah 52:13 and continues through 53:12. By addressing Jerusalem three times, Septuagint Isaiah (LXX) differs from the Masoretic text (Hebrew), which contains only two direct addresses to Jerusalem. The three addresses are listed below.

  1. Septuagint Isaiah 51:9-51:16
  2. Septuagint Isaiah 51:17-51:23
  3. Septuagint Isaiah 52:1-52:12

The prior three posts (2.36, 2.37, and 2.38) explored the first two addresses. Today’s post will consider the third.

Key Verse

The key verse of this section is Isaiah 52:6 LXX.

Therefore shall my people know my name in that day, for I am he that speaks: I am present, (Septuagint in American English)

Therefore my people shall know my name in that day, because I myself am the one who speaks: I am here, (New English Translation of the Septuagint, NETS)

Therefore my people shall know my name in that day because I AM (ego eimi) he, the one speaking. I am present (Fred Miller’s English Translation of the Greek Septuagint)

What Is Special About Verse 6?

The passage addressed to Jerusalem/Sion (Septuagint Isaiah 52:1-52:12) opens with the Lord’s rebuke. First, in verse one, the reader sees Jerusalem lying in the dust (verse 2). She has no strength and her clothing is not beautiful (verse 1). Further, she wears a band of captivity around her neck–she is a slave (verse 2). Pitifully, she was sold for nothing, a mere give-away (verse 3). Verse four rehearses Israel’s history (“my people”). They temporarily sojourned as strangers in Egypt. Then, Assyria forcibly carried some of them away. And now, “Why are you here?” (in Babylonia), asks the Lord. Verse five answers the question. The text strongly implies Jerusalem’s sin, though it does not overtly mention it here. Multiple other texts in all of Isaiah rehearse Israel and Jerusalem’s sins. Below is one example.

Behold, you are sold for your sins, and for your iniquities have I put your mother away. (Isaiah 50:2 LXE)

Because of their sinful behavior, the Lord sold them for “nothing” to Babylonia. Consequently, their sin and disgraced condition caused the Gentile nations to continually blaspheme the name of the Lord (verse 5 and Romans 2:23-24 ESV). Why mention Gentiles here? I believe it’s because God indicates throughout Isaiah that he plans to save Gentiles along with his own people. (See Isaiah 2:2; 11:10, 12; 25:6-7; 42:4, 6; 49:1, 6, 8, 22; 51:4-5). God’s people are special for the very reason that he always intended them to shine forth his light for everyone else. But their disobedience resulted in the nations blaspheming the Lord’s name rather than drawing the world’s people to him. This is why God places his singular Servant as his very own stand-in–the head, the representative–of Israel. (See Isaiah Devotional 2.27).


The Lord through Isaiah issues his wake-up call to Sion/Jerusalem in verses one and two.

1 Awake, awake, Sion; put on your strength, O Sion; and o you put on your glory, Jerusalem the holy city: there shall no more pass through you, the uncircumcised and unclean. 2 Shake off the dust and arise; sit down, Jerusalem: put off the band of your neck, captive daughter of Sion. (LXE)

In these two verses, Isaiah issues crisp commands to his forgiven, yet still discouraged, people.

  1. “Awake, awake, Sion;”
  2. “… put on your strength, O Sion;”
  3. “… and o you put on your glory, Jerusalem, the holy city:”
  4. “Shake off the dust …”
  5. “… arise;”
  6. “… sit down, Jerusalem:”
  7. “… put off the band of your neck, captive daughter of Sion.”

The prophet states God’s intentions clearly. He intends Jerusalem to sit down in his presence, not as a slave, but like a queen. (Luke 22:69; Colossians 3:1, 3-4; Hebrews 12:2; John 17:20-26; Revelation 19:7-9).

Then Verse Six

The people of Jerusalem represent all of  God’s people (“my people”, verse 4). Formerly, he sent them into exile (Isaiah 5:13; 27:6-8). Now, he commands them to sit in his presence. What causes this huge change in God’s actions toward Jerusalem? Verse six states the cause, as it clearly pronounces God’s incarnation in his Servant. Four times in verses three through seven the text states, “Thus says the Lord,” (verses 3, 4, and twice in verse 5). In verse six, for readers who have followed Isaiah closely, the voice of God and the voice of his incarnated Servant are indistinguishable.

Therefore shall my people know my name in that day, for I am he that speaks: I am present, (Septuagint in American English)

Therefore my people shall know my name in that day because I AM (ego eimi) he, the one speaking. I am present (Fred Miller’s English Translation of the Greek Septuagint)

Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here I am.” (ESV)

Evidence of the Incarnation in Verse Six

1. “In that day”

The book of Septuagint Isaiah uses the phrase “in that day” multiple times. In general, the phrase introduces either a day of judgment or a day of salvation. Sometimes, the same day brings judgment to some and salvation to others. Examples of the latter occur in Isaiah 29:18-21 and Isaiah 30:23-28. But the places where Isaiah uses “in that day” to specifically refer to Christ/the Servant in his incarnation concern us most here. See the verses below as evidence.

10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall arise to rule over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust, and his rest shall be glorious. 11 And it shall be in that day, that the Lord shall again show his hand, to be zealous for the remnant that is left of the people, which shall be left by the Assyrians, and that from Egypt, and from the country of Babylon, and from Ethiopia, and from the Elamites, and from the rising of the sun, and out of Arabia. (Isaiah 11:10-11, LXE) (Also see verse 10 quoted in Romans 15:12 ESV.)

1 And in that day you shall say, I will bless you, O Lord; for you were angry with me, but you have turned aside your wrath, and have pitied me. 2 Behold, my God is my Saviour; I will trust in him, and not be afraid: for the Lord is my glory and my praise, and is become my salvation. 3 Draw you therefore water with joy out of the wells of salvation. 4 And in that day you shall say, sing to the Lord, call aloud upon his name, proclaim his glorious deeds among the Gentiles; make mention that his name is exalted. 5 Sing praise to the name of the Lord; for he has done great things: declare this in all the earth. 6 Exalt and rejoice, you that dwell in Sion: for the Holy One of Israel is exalted in the midst of her. (Isaiah 12:1-6, LXE)

2. Use of the Particular Phrase “I AM (ego eimi) he”

Once more, here is verse six.

Therefore shall my people know my name in that day, for I am he that speaks: I am present, (Septuagint in American English)

The phrase “I am” contains tremendous significance in Israel’s history. When Moses asked the being in the burning bush his name, he (God) replied, “Exodus 3:14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” This is the name “Yahweh,” by which Israel knew their Lord throughout their Old Testament history. Jesus (the Christ, the incarnated Servant) used this phrase several times with reference to himself. One example follows.

John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (ESV)

The following verse states, “They picked up stones to throw at him.” They did this because the law prescribed stoning as punishment for blasphemy. Jesus said many other things to indicate he was God’s Son. And in fact, the religious leaders of Jesus’s day wanted him crucified for blasphemy.

The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” (John 19:7 ESV)

3. The Statement “Therefore, my people shall know my name.”

“In that day,” that is, in the day of God’s incarnation in the being of his singular Servant, “my people shall know my name.” Jesus the Christ fulfilled this prophecy also. Often, he asked his disciples concerning his name. On occasion his disciples knew the answer. Some examples of these statements follow.

Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (John 1:49 ESV)

Mark 8:27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” (ESV)

John 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (ESV)

Acts 2:36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” … 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (ESV)

4. The Statement, “I am present”

In Greek the statement, “I am present” can also mean, “I have arrived” (Thayer). English texts translate the Hebrew statement as, “Here I am.” (ESV, NET, NAU) God is the one speaking (“Thus says the Lord”–verse 5). God says, “I have arrived. Here I am. I am present.” Isaiah previously indicates this occurrence elsewhere.

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore Adonai himself will give you people a sign: the young woman will become pregnant, bear a son and name him ‘Immanu El [God is with us]. (Complete Jewish Bible, CJB)

And when Mary became pregnant with the Christ child, the angel of the Lord told Joseph, her husband, the following.

Matthew 1:20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (ESV)

5. The Context Following Verse 6

… to be continued 

Isaiah 51:17-23 LXX: Isaiah Journal 2.38

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/isaiah-5117-23-lxx-isaiah-devotional-2-38/.

Recap: Three Sections

The material in Septuagint (LXX) Isaiah from 51:9 through 52:15 divides into three sections.

  1. Septuagint Isaiah 51:9-51:16
  2. Septuagint Isaiah 51:17-51:23
  3. Septuagint Isaiah 52:1-52:15

Section 2: Two Main Ideas

When seeking to understand Scripture, readers will sometimes work from details to the main idea. But other times, certain passages of Scripture will yield their main ideas before readers fully understand all the details. This section belongs to the latter category.

I. Main Idea One: Our Children Cannot Save Us

The passage Septuagint Isaiah 51:17-51:23 appears to yield its main ideas readily. The first main idea is that Jerusalem’s children cannot save her, but God will.


A. Jerusalem’s Children Cannot Save Her 

18 and there was none to comfort you of all the children whom you bore; and there was none to take hold of your hand, not even of all the children whom you have reared.

  • The prophet most likely intends the name “Jerusalem” to mean the people of Jerusalem. And, Jerusalem’s people most likely refer to all the people in exile.
  • Jerusalem had been a highly populated city. Twice in one verse the text states, “of all the children.” Apparently, the people of the city had produced lots of children.
  • But these many children could provide neither “comfort” nor support for their parents while they were all in exile.

19 … who shall comfort you? 20 Your sons are the perplexed ones, that sleep at the top of every street as a half-boiled beet; they that are full of the anger of the Lord, caused to faint by the Lord God. 

  • Verse 19 ends with a rhetorical question, “Who shall comfort you?
  • Verse 20 answers the question, Surely not your sons. They are every bit as helpless and confused as you are. They, too, are experiencing the anger of the Lord. God’s anger has left them weak. They are unable to look after themselves, let alone you.
  • Which reader can explain the image of “a half-boiled beet”? Without understanding much about its literary details, it seems safe to conclude that a half-boiled beet would not be useful for much.

Do We Rely Upon Our Children?

How often do we as parents rely upon our children (cf. Psalm 127:4-5)? Do we hope that they will achieve success where we have failed? Do we hope that they will love and comfort us in our old age? For the people of Jerusalem, the Lord God says, No, this will not happen. Your children are no better off than you are. They have nothing to give you.

New Testament Teachings

The New Testament accords well with Isaiah’s statements in this passage. For our own spiritual well-being, we cannot rely upon our children. Cutting that emotional cord of reliance is one of the most difficult tasks God requires of parents.

Romans 8:23 ESV for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 

 John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (ESV)

B. God Will Save His People

Nevertheless, God alone will himself save his people. This is God’s message throughout Isaiah.

22 thus says the Lord God that judges his people, Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of calamity, the cup of my wrath; and you shall not drink it any more. (Isaiah 51:22 LXE)

Application: When we as parents turn to the Lord, we hope and pray that our children will see our testimony and turn to the Lord also. But their turning cannot be the basis of our standing with God.

II. Main Idea Two: Temporal Discipline Is Better Than Eternal Wrath

The second main idea has two parts. The first is that God disciplines his people temporally. The second is that God’s temporal discipline ends. 


The passage provides much evidence that God strongly disciplines his people. Below are some of the phrases Isaiah writes.

  • Jerusalem, that have drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury: Isaiah 51:17 LXE
  • … for you have drunk out and drained the cup of calamity, the cup of wrath: (ibid.)
  • …  there was none to comfort you … there was none to take hold of your hand Isaiah 51:18 LXE  
  • … your grief? downfall, and destruction, famine, and sword: Isaiah 51:19 LXE 
  • … they that are full of the anger of the Lord, caused to faint by the Lord God. Isaiah 51:20 LXE  
  • … you afflicted one, and drunken, but not with wine; Isaiah 51:21 LXE  
  • … the cup of calamity, the cup of my wrath Isaiah 51:22 LXE  
  • … of them that injured you, and them that afflicted you; who said to your soul, Bow down, that we may pass over: and you did level your body with the ground to them passing by without. Isaiah 51:23 LXE  


  • Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, [!] Isaiah 51:17 LXE
  • thus says the Lord God that judges his people, Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of calamity, the cup of my wrath; and you shall not drink it any more. Isaiah 51:22 LXE  
  • And I will give it into the hands of them that injured you, and them that afflicted you; Isaiah 51:23 LXE  

Application: What Feelings Are We Left With?

Although scholars, and even some pastors, may say that “feelings” should play no role in interpreting Scripture, often our feelings concerning Scripture do indeed guide our decisions to take certain actions. This is God’s whole purpose. God speaks to us through Scripture because he wants us to respond to his call.

I don’t know about you, but this passage leaves me with feelings of great joy and relief. It’s like waking up from a very bad dream and finding out that it was just a dream. It’s the feeling one gets when after having suffered for a very long time, that suffering ends. It’s the feeling I get when God shows his loving forgiveness for me after I have sinned greatly.

The second main point of this passage in Isaiah (Septuagint Isaiah 51:17-51:23) is that God tells his people that his harsh discipline of them has ended. He wants them to awake and stand up. Begin living again, but do it differently this time. This is also God’s call in Jesus Christ.

Good News in Jesus Christ

God displays his great love and mercy when he disciplines his children. How so? God’s purpose in discipline is to bring his children the incomparable gifts of salvation and eternal life. Earthly discipline ends, but eternal separation from God (hell) will never end. Isaiah in this passage prepares his listeners to understand their need for the Servant. The Servant appears as Savior in Chapter 53.

Many New Testament passages expand upon Isaiah’s message of discipline that leads to saving grace.

Hebrews 12:9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (ESV)

2 Corinthians 7:1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God… 8 For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it– though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. 9 As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. 10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (ESV)

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (ESV)

 Luke 13:5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (ESV)

Luke 17:4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (ESV)

Finally, the letter to the Hebrews echoes God’s intent in Isaiah.

Hebrews 3:15 As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” (ESV)

And if anyone reading this has never turned to the Lord in the neediness of repentance, may the Lord grant you a softened heart to do so right now. Thank you, Lord, Amen.

%d bloggers like this: