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Gleaning #1: Isaiah Devotional 2.5

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/gleaning-1-isaiah-journal-2-5/.

Gleanings from Isaiah 41

Differences Between Septuagint and Masoretic Texts

I. Isaiah 41:1

A. The Details

40:31 but they that wait on God shall renew their strength; they shall put forth new
feathers like eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not hunger.


41:1 Hold a feast to me, ye islands: for the princes shall renew their strength: let them draw nigh and speak together: then let them declare judgment. (Septuagint {LXX}, Brenton translation {1})

Compare the above verses from the Septuagint with those from the Masoretic below.

40:31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.


41:1 Listen to me in silence, O coastlands; let the peoples renew their strength; let them approach, then let them speak; let us together draw near for judgment. (ESV)

A main difference in these verses is placement (location) of the word “together” in verse 41:1. In both the Septuagint English translation (LXE, Brenton) and the Greek text itself, “together” (ἅμα) refers to the action of the “princes.” The verb “shall renew” is future active indicative. This describes what will happen. In view of this, God states, “Let them” draw near and speak together.” In other words, with their newly found strength, God invites, or commands, the “princes,” or rulers, to draw near to one another and speak together with each other. “Then,” says the text, let them declare their judgment. (Conclusions will be drawn below.)

Another difference in verse 41:1 is the word translated “princes” in Brenton’s English Septuagint. The Septuagint, as translated by Moisés Silva (2), reads “rulers.” The princes are rulers.

The Masoretic text (ESV) for this word reads “peoples.” Also, the Masoretic assigns the word “together” with reference to God and the peoples, rather than to the peoples together among themselves. Further, unlike the Septuagint, God invites the peoples to renew their strength (“let the peoples renew”). Finally, they and God will “together draw near for judgment.” This order and grouping becomes very apparent in the NET translation.

“Listen to me in silence, you coastlands! Let the nations find renewed strength! Let them approach and then speak; let us come together for debate! (Isaiah 41:1, NET)

B. Gleanings from the Details 

By now, most likely, many casual readers have long since disappeared from the scene. “So what? Big deal. Who cares? This is really picking through straws,” some of them might say. But the Septuagint Greek text contains many treasures of richness in God’s holy Word, for those who have patience to read, reread, compare texts, listen, and notice. One reader’s chaff is another’s golden thread.

A STORY LINE REVEALED

Verses 40:31-41:1 reveal a story in the Greek text. We include Isaiah 40:31 because of the verbal tie established by repetition of the word “renew.” Isaiah 40:31 is one of the more popular verses from Isaiah. This verse has been set to music, and decorative wall plaques containing this verse adorn people’s homes.

Considering 40:31 and 41:1 together, side by side as they are, the reader perceives two distinct groups which renew their strength. One group are the blessed, “they that wait on God.” Waiting on God in Scripture is a marvelous thing to do. God favors those who wait on him. The other group are composed of the rulers, the nations, the far off islands. These words refer not so much to geography in this context, but to spiritual condition. Those far from God abide so because they oppose him; they have no interest in him. But God says they shall renew their strength. And being strengthened, God bids them to gather together with one another, to converse together in a huddle, to plan their strategy in opposition to God.

Now ordinarily, the peoples of islands, or far off nations, would not speak the same language. God confused the languages at the tower of Babel and scattered the people groups. Here they come together in a united front of opposition against God. A comparison with other Scriptures helps us to see that this is the case.

Psalm 2:2 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers gathered themselves together, against the Lord, and against his Christ; (LXE) 

Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (ESV)

God’s people, on the other hand, are not united by a “cause.” They are united by nature, for they share the nature and character of Christ.

John 17:11… Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one… 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, so that the world may believe that you have sent me… 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… (ESV)

As the story line progresses through the chapter, the reader discovers that the united enemies of God, the “rulers,” lose the argument. They and their idols neither foresee the future nor bring it about. God, however, created the world, foretells its future history, and in his might and power brings it to pass (see prior post).

Psalm 2:4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. (ESV)

CONCLUSION: GLEANING #1 God is in control. He designs the outcome and brings it to pass.

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1 English Septuagint Translation, Brenton, available at eng-Brenton_ISA.pdf (ebible.org), October 7, 2021.

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