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Isaiah: A Personal Devotional Journal–4
Devotional: Isaiah 2:6 LXX (LXE, Brenton) (1) For he has forsaken his people the house of Israel, because their land is filled as at the beginning with divinations, as the land of the Philistines, and many strange children were born to them. (2, 3)
What is startling about this verse is the phrase, “as at the beginning.” The land of Israel, formerly known as Canaan, was in God’s eyes, according to Scripture, formerly a land of unholiness, just as the Israelites themselves were unholy while they were in Egypt. God’s command to Joshua had been to engage the Canaanites in war and to utterly defeat them. He was giving the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants in fulfillment of his promise to Abraham. It was to be a land of holiness for a holy people, whom God had chosen for this purpose (see Deuteronomy 12f., and Joshua 24). He wanted them to live their lives in reflection of his own holy nature, so that the world around them could see and know the difference.
Isaiah tells the people in 2:6 that God has forsaken them, because just as “at the beginning,” the land was filled with false religion and children of careless intermarriage with those who did not worship God (Philistines). What is strikingly sad is that after nearly 500 years, God found no difference between the character of the nation inhabiting the land then, which was Israel, and the way it was before their arrival.
Such a statement has tremendous application today. How would I feel if the summation of the legacy of my life was that I made no difference? Everything at the end of my life was just as it was at the beginning, before I was born? What about our churches? Some churches have been in particular neighborhoods for fifty years or more. Have they made a difference? Or, are things just as they were “at the beginning,” before the church ever arrived?
God will have his way. Christ introduced a holiness among men that cannot be polluted, diluted, or destroyed. Only as I adhere to Christ, as a branch to its vine, will I ever make a difference. I pray we all do.
1 For those who may be interested, my personal preference for an English translation of the Septuagint in most cases is Lancelot Brenton. Other translations are available. One is the translation by Moisés Silva in the NETS Bible (New English Translation of the Septuagint), available at http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/edition/. He writes in the introduction, “To the Reader,” about Brenton’s translation, which he thinks highly of, and his own. Having compared verse 6 with the original Greek text of Rahlf’s, the NETS translation, the English translation in The Orthodox Study Bible (Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, Elk Grove, California. The Orthodox Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008), and Brenton’s translation (Brenton, Sir Lancelot C. L. The Septuagint Version: Greek and English. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1970, available in an online version at https://ebible.org/eng-Brenton/ISA02.htm), I find that I prefer Brenton’s translation: 1) it is accurate to Rahlf’s text, which Silva states is adequate for the vast majority of verses, and 2) it is the most pleasing of the three to my English ear.
2 English translations based upon the Masoretic (Hebrew) text differ for this verse. For example, the ESV has, “For you have rejected your people, the house of Jacob, because they are full of things from the east and of fortune-tellers like the Philistines, and they strike hands with the children of foreigners.” The difference is that where the ESV has the phrase, “full of things from the east,” the Septuagint has, “filled as at the beginning.” The BDB Hebrew lexicon available to me (Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, Hebrew-Aramaic and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Abridged BDB-Gesenius Lexicon) (Ontario, Canada: Online Bible Foundation, 1997), BibleWorks, v.9) gives three meanings for the Hebrew of this word: 1) front, 2) east, and 3) aforetime, or formerly. My speculation is that the translators of the Hebrew text into the Greek Septuagint, some three centuries BC, or BCE, chose meaning three.
3 I really prefer to do my devotions, where possible, from the English Septuagint. It’s often provides much more “spiritual meat” than the Masoretic, which in comparison tends toward “dry neutrality.” The phrases in quotations are both my own.