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Isaiah: Chapter 55

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Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3 Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. 4 See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. 5 See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.


Seek the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the LORD, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.


For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. 12 For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the LORD for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

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Commentary spanning earlier chapters

Chs 40–55 : Book of the Consolation of Israel (“Second Isaiah”).

Chs 40–48:

This first section is centered on the providential role of Cyrus II (559–530 BCE), founder of the Persian Empire, and the expectation of return from exile in Babylonia.

55.1–5 : An appeal to the prophet's audience to participate in the restoration.

The metaphor for this new era is life's essential bread and water, and enhancing wine and milk. Compare the invitation to participate in Wisdom's banquet (Prov 9.5 ).

3–5 :

God's promises to David (2 Sam 7.11–17 ) are now “democratized” and extended to the people as a whole (cf. 54.9–10 ).

55.6–11 : A call to repentance

, to seek and call upon God—a common prophetic theme (e.g., Am 5.6; Jer 29.12 ), frequent in the last section of Isaiah ( 58.2,9; 65.1,10,12,24; 66.4 ). The height of the heavens as an image of the contrast between the divine and the human also occurs in Ps 57.10; 103.11 . The theme of the effectiveness of God's word echoes the opening passage of Second Isaiah ( 40.8 ) and may indicate the end of a major unit in the work.

55.12–13 : Nature will rejoice at the return of the dispersed Israelites,

and the land will enjoy unparal‐leled fertility (cf. 41.17–20; 44.1–4; 51.3 ). This passage recapitulates the theme of glorious return in 40.3–5 and 48.20–22 , the beginning and end of Isaiah 40–48 . It therefore indicates a point of closure at a stage in the formation of the book.

13 :

Memorial, lit. “name,” cf. 56.5 .

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