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Isaiah: Chapter 66

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Thus says the LORD: Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is my resting place? 2 All these things my hand has made, and so all these things are mine, b Or an inheritor says the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look, to the humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at my word.


Whoever slaughters an ox is like one who kills a human being; whoever sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog's neck; whoever presents a grain offering, like one who offers swine's blood; a Or sudden terror whoever makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and in their abominations they take delight; 4 I also will choose to mock b Gk Syr: Heb these things came to be them, and bring upon them what they fear; because, when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my sight, and chose what did not please me. 5 Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at his word: Your own people who hate you and reject you for my name's sake have said, “Let the LORD be glorified, so that we may see your joy”; but it is they who shall be put to shame.


Listen, an uproar from the city! A voice from the temple! The voice of the LORD, dealing retribution to his enemies!


Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son. 8 Who has heard of such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be delivered in one moment? Yet as soon as Zion was in labor she delivered her children. 9 Shall I open the womb and not deliver? says the LORD; shall I, the one who delivers, shut the womb? says your God.


Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her— 11 that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious bosom.


For thus says the LORD: I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm, and dandled on her knees. 13 As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. 14 You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bodies c Meaning of Heb uncertain shall flourish like the grass; and it shall be known that the hand of the LORD is with his servants, and his indignation is against his enemies. 15 For the LORD will come in fire, and his chariots like the whirlwind, to pay back his anger in fury, and his rebuke in flames of fire. 16 For by fire will the LORD execute judgment, and by his sword, on all flesh; and those slain by the LORD shall be many.

17Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following the one in the center, eating the flesh of pigs, vermin, and rodents, shall come to an end together, says the LORD.

18For I know a Or to punish their works and their thoughts, and I am b Heb bones coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory, 19and I will set a sign among them. From them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Put, c Gk Syr: Heb lacks know and Lud—which draw the bow—to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations. 20They shall bring all your kindred from all the nations as an offering to the LORD, on horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and on mules, and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the LORD, just as the Israelites bring a grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD. 21And I will also take some of them as priests and as Levites, says the LORD.


For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, says the LORD; so shall your descendants and your name remain. 23 From new moon to new moon, and from sabbath to sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, says the LORD.

24And they shall go out and look at the dead bodies of the people who have rebelled against me; for their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.


b Or an inheritor

a Or sudden terror

b Gk Syr: Heb these things came to be

a Meaning of Heb uncertain

b Or to punish

c Heb bones

a Gk Syr: Heb lacks know

Text Commentary view alone
Commentary spanning earlier chapters

Chs 56–66 : Third Isaiah.

Despite the common reference to this final section of the book as Third Isaiah, it is not certain that it is a distinct, self‐contained unit. These chapters reflect a divisive struggle over the identity and destiny of the Judean community in the postexilic period (primarily 538–515 BCE) with little direct concern for international affairs. Their tone shifts back and forth between a somber assessment of present realities and the envisioning of a glorious future. In them we hear the community attempting, through its prophetic representatives, to come to terms with the fact that reality has fallen short of the expectations, expressed in the previous sections, that had been raised by the fall of the Babylonian Empire and the conquests of Cyrus.

66.1–6 : A community divided.

1–2 :

A saying directed against false understandings and expectations associated with the Jerusalem Temple and its sacrificial worship (see 1 Kings 8.27 ) rather than directed against the Temple as such or the project of rebuilding. On the contrast between God's heavenly and earthly abodes and his presence with the lowly and afflicted, see 57.15; 60.13; 63.15 .

3–4 :

Like is not in the Hebrew. The point is that the individuals who perform legitimate cultic acts (sacrificing oxen and sheep, making cereal and memorial offerings) are also engaged in illegitimate acts involving human (probably infant) sacrifice (cf. 57.5 ) and sacrificing dogs and pigs (cf. 65.4; 66.17 ). On the failure to respond to God's invitation, see 65.1,12 .

5 :

An oracle addressed by an anonymous seer to those who tremble at the word of God, meaning either God's law or the prophetic word, cf. 66.1; Ezra 9.4; 10.3 . These have been expelled from the Judean Temple community because of their eschatological beliefs; compare the prospect for the “servants” in 65.13–14 .

6 :

The judgment to come has its source in the Temple; cf. Joel 3.16; Am 1.2 .

66.7–14: The destiny of Jerusalem.:

7–9 :

The rebirth of Jerusalem and of a new commonwealth will happen with miraculous speed.

10–11 :

Jerusalem will be a mother to those who now mourn (cf. 60.20; 61.2–3 ).

12–14 :

Compare the address to Zion in 54.1–17 , which also ends with the vindication of the LORD's servants. For the metaphor of the LORD as a mother, see 49.15 .

66.15–24 : Homecoming, vindication, and final judgment.

15–16 :

Theophanies and scenarios of judgment often feature fire ( 26.11; 29.5–6; 30.27,33; 31.9; 33.12,14; 34.10 ) and the LORD's sword ( 27.1; 31.8; 34.5–7 ).

17 :

A note which may have been appended originally to 65.3 . Gardens, see 65.3n. The one in the center, a female according to the Heb text and the Qumran scroll; perhaps a reference to the leading liturgist of this non‐Yahwistic cult.

18–21 :

There will be an announcement of God's glory before the final judgment (cf. 56.8 ), and some Gentiles will even serve as personnel in the Jerusalem Temple.

19 :

Tarshish, see 2.16n. ; Put, part of Libya (Ezek 30.5 ); Lud, Lydia, on the western coast of Asia Minor (Ezek 27.10 ); Tubal, in eastern Asia Minor (Ezek 27.13 ); Javan, on the western coast of Asia Minor (Ezek 27.13 ).

20 :

Some commentators take this to be a later attempt to restrict the role of Gentiles to that of repatriating Diaspora Judeans.

22–23 :

Within a renewed cosmos (cf. 65.15–16 ) Jerusalem will be the center of worship from one new moon and sabbath to the next (cf. Zech 14.16 ).

24 :

An apocalyptic addition recalling the fate of the reprobate (cf. 34.3; Dan 12.2 ). The location may be the Valley of Hinnom or Gehenna south of Jerusalem; cf. Jer 7.31–33 .

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