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Isaiah: Chapter 65

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1

I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that did not call on my name. 2 I held out my hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; 3 a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and offering incense on bricks; 4 who sit inside tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat swine's flesh, with broth of abominable things in their vessels; 5 who say, “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.” These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all day long. 6 See, it is written before me: I will not keep silent, but I will repay; I will indeed repay into their laps 7 their b Meaning of Heb uncertain iniquities and their b Meaning of Heb uncertain ancestors' iniquities together, says the LORD; because they offered incense on the mountains and reviled me on the hills, I will measure into their laps full payment for their actions. 8 Thus says the LORD: As the wine is found in the cluster, and they say, “Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it,” so I will do for my servants' sake, and not destroy them all. 9 I will bring forth descendants a Gk Syr Old Latin Tg: Heb melted from Jacob, and from Judah inheritors b Gk Syr: Heb your of my mountains; my chosen shall inherit it, and my servants shall settle there. 10 Sharon shall become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for my people who have sought me. 11 But you who forsake the LORD, who forget my holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny; 12 I will destine you to the sword, and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter; because, when I called, you did not answer, when I spoke, you did not listen, but you did what was evil in my sight, and chose what I did not delight in. 13 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: My servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry; my servants shall drink, but you shall be thirsty; my servants shall rejoice, but you shall be put to shame; 14 my servants shall sing for gladness of heart, but you shall cry out for pain of heart, and shall wail for anguish of spirit. 15 You shall leave your name to my chosen to use as a curse, and the Lord GOD will put you to death; but to his servants he will give a different name. 16 Then whoever invokes a blessing in the land shall bless by the God of faithfulness, and whoever takes an oath in the land shall swear by the God of faithfulness; because the former troubles are forgotten and are hidden from my sight.

17

For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. 19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress. 20 No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime; for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed. 21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; a Or a descendant for they shall be offspring blessed by the LORD— and their descendants as well. 24 Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent—its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the LORD.

Notes:

b Meaning of Heb uncertain

a Gk Syr Old Latin Tg: Heb melted

b Gk Syr: Heb your

a Or a descendant

Text Commentary view alone

65.1–7 : The answer.

Since the preceding psalm of communal lament lacks the element of response from God, normal in this type of psalm (e.g., Ps 20; 56; 60 ), a saying now follows explaining why God has not intervened. God was ready to be approached, but the people looked elsewhere for help.

2 :

A rebellious people, cf. 1.2; 30.1 , with an echo of the law concerning the rebellious son in Deut 21.18 .

3 :

Sacrificing in gardens, see 1.29–30; 66.17 . Such rituals carried out in open‐air sanctuaries involved the invocation of nature deities, often with overt sexual content (cf. 57.3–13 ); offering incense on bricks, incense was used in Yahwistic and non‐Yahwistic rituals. The Qumran Isaiah scroll from Cave 1 (1QIsaa) has at this point preserved an alternative reading, which may be original, referring to a sexual ritual.

4 :

The accusation extends to mortuary rituals (as in 29.4; 57.6,9 ), dubious nocturnal ceremonies, eating pork ( 66.17 ), perhaps in connection with a pig sacrifice ( 66.3 ), and consuming other ritually unclean foods (Lev 11.7; Deut 14.8 ).

5 :

Keep to yourself, an insolent response to the LORD's invitation to them to approach ( 57.3; 65.1 ), perhaps with reference to their ritual segregation (cf. 66.17 ).

65.8–12 : Division in the Judean community,

seen from the writer's point of view as division between the reprobate and the servants of the LORD. From these servants, God's elect, God will raise up a people who will possess the land from Sharon, the northern coastal plain ( 33.9 ), to Achor, the desolate region west of the Dead Sea (Josh 7.24; Hos 2.15n. ).

11 :

In the Heb text Fortune and Destiny are Gad and Meni, respectively, deities of fate and good luck venerated among Syrians, Arabs, and Nabateans.

12 :

Rounds off the polemic by returning to the initial statement (v. 1 ); cf. Jer 7.13 .

65.13–16 : Contrast between the destiny of God's servants and that of the reprobate.

13–14 :

Their situation will be reversed. This theme of eschatological reversal is developed in the New Testament (Mt 5.3–12; 25.31–46; Lk 6.20–26 ).

15–16 :

The name of the reprobate will serve as a curse, like the names of the prophets Ahab and Zedekiah executed by the Babylonians (Jer 29.22 ). The giving of a new name signifies a new status ( 43.1,7; 44.1–5; 62.2 ).

16 :

The God of faithfulness, the Heb text has “the God Amen,” the Heb word “amen” (surely) used here as an epithet for God. This is the God who confirms oaths made in his name and is trustworthy. There is an echo here of the Abrahamic blessing (Gen 12.1–3 ).

65.17–25 : An apocalyptic interpolation.

Perhaps added by a later apocalyptic writer.

17–18 :

Jerusalem will flourish in a renewed cosmos ( 66.2 ), a familiar apocalyptic theme. The emphasis is on Israel's God as a creator deity. Former things, 43.18 .

19 :

This scenario is further developed in 25.6–10 .

20 :

The prediction of vastly increased life expectancy connotes a return to the original creation (cf. Gen 5 ).

21–23 :

The future Israel will witness the reversal of familiar curses attached to treaties and covenants; see 62.8–9n. Days of a tree, Job 14.7–9; Ps 92.12–15; Jer 17.8 .

24 :

Rounds off the second, more optimistic section of the chapter, cf. vv. 1,12 .

25 :

Taken from 11.6–9 to complete the picture of the new Jerusalem: a return to the first creation, a peaceful kingdom in which no creatures, human or animal, kill for food (Gen 1.29–30; cf. 9.1–7 ).

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