Isaiah 48

Isaiah Chapter Forty Eight

 Chapter 48: This chapter completes the section begun in Isaiah 40:1 where the 5 major themes are introduced that are interwoven in the next eight chapters, this being the final one in the section. These themes are:

1. Idolatry is shown to be foolish by God's prenaming historical events and persons.

2. The coming punishment, exile of the Jews and their captivity by the Babylonians.

3. The fall and ultimate disappearance of Babylon.

4. The future restoration of the nation and the temple at the direction of Cyrus who has messianic similarities.

5. The appearance of the Messiah who will introduce Zion and the comparisons of Cyrus with the Messiah.

This chapter contains the major remaining comparisons of the Messiah and Cyrus interwoven. Cyrus and the Messiah are spoken of together and because the passages mingle YHWH, the Messiah, The Holy Spirit, and Cyrus the section has very mystical qualities, especially in verse 6 and again in verse 16. In verse 6 YHWH reveals the name of Nazareth and in verse 16 it is very hard to distinguish the sender YHWH from the one sent who was present at the creation. After this chapter, Cyrus will not be referred to again and beginning with the next chapter the Messiah and the coming of Zion will be described with progressively greater detail until the crescendo of chapter 53.

 1. Hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, who swear by the name of the LORD, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness. 2 For they say they are from the holy city, and rely upon the God of Israel; The LORD of hosts is his name. 3 I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I showed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass. 4 Because I knew that you are obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew, and your brow brass;

Verse 3: I have declared the FORMER things from the beginning: There are two evidences offered again to his people that YHWH is the only God. No idol has been able to declare history from the beginning. God through Moses has declared even the pre-flood history of those first civilizations and the creative days that no man saw. But even more than this is offered in the next verses.

5 I have told you, even from the beginning, before it came to pass I showed it to you: lest you should say, My idol has done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, has commanded them.

 Verse 5: Before it came to pass: God is not only telling the future before it happens but he is telling it such a way that only in the progress of time will historical events occur that will fulfill scriptures that no one suspected. The point is that God is telling things in such a way that when they come to pass no one can say "see we knew it all along." Such is the nature of the mystical vision he refers to in verse 6. There will be no way anyone can say that we knew he would be called a "Nazarene." But God revealed it in such a way that it is obvious that the name "Nazarene' was spoken by the prophets! See Matthew 2:23.

 6 You heard, and all this you have seen in a vision and will you yourself not announce it? I have caused you to hear new things from this time, even hidden things, which you did not know.

Verse 6: Seen in a vision: The Hebrew for "see" is chazon which is the word for receiving revelation in a trance-like state. The word "Nazareth" in this verse was seen in a state of special revelation. Isaiah was in a trance when he received the special revelation in this verse as befits the mystical nature of what is revealed here. This extraordinary verse actually names Nazareth. The Hebrew for "hidden things" is "netsoroth" which is Nazareth! Isaiah's special use of the word Nazar is covered in the Chapter called " Isaiah's use of the word Nazar" which is must reading if you are to get the most out of Isaiah.

For instance, one of the verses noticed there is the one following from Jeremiah 4:16. (Notsriym b'aiym mey-'arets ham-mer-choq.)  If this phrase were found in a modern Hebrew newspaper it would be translated "Christians are coming from a far country." The Hebrew word for Christians is "Nazarenes" or notsriym . The whole verse is given in the next comment.

 Jeremiah 4:16


(hazkiyru la-goyim hineh hashmi'yu 'al yerushalam notsriym ba'iym me'erets ha-merchoq va-yitnu 'al 'arey yehudah qolam)

 Make ye mention to the nations; behold, publish against Jerusalem, that watchers come from a far country, and give out their voice against the cities of Judah. KJV ('al yerushalam)  translated "against Jerusalem." It is unnecessary to translate this construction as "against" instead of merely "upon Jerusalem." The hifiyl causative of the verb translated "publish" actually means "Cause it to be heard" or "announce it" which would better fit "in Jerusalem." So also "they shall give their voices upon the cities of Judah" rather than against. As said previously,
) the same construction in a Modern Israeli newspaper would be translated "Christians are coming from a far country." Thus the entire passage would read, "Cause the nations to be reminded, Look here, cause it to be heard in Jerusalem. Christians are coming from a far land and they will give their voices upon the cities of Judah."

 7 They are created now, and not from the beginning; even before the day when you did not hear them; lest you should say, Behold, I knew them. 8 Yet, you did not hear; still, you did not know; neither was your ear opened from that time: for I knew that you would deal very treacherously and were called a transgressor from the womb. 9. For the sake of my name I will put off my anger, and I will desist my praise for you, so as not to cut you off. 10 Behold, I have refined you, but not with silver; I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction.

Verse 10: Furnace of affliction: The years of punishment are seemingly interminable. They began in earnest with Tiglath-pileser about 735 BC and have not passed through the whole of the Assyrian affliction as yet. Israel as a kingdom is lost. The period of Babylonian oppression is yet far in the future and many decades, even centuries are to be endured. this is truly a furnace of affliction out of which the nation is to arise as purged from idolatry. The period of affliction was the fault of the nation and was not necessary. According to the verse 18, the messianic age could have come sooner.

11 For my own sake, even for my own sake, will I do it: for how can my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory to another. 12 Listen to me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. 13 My hand also has laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand has spanned the heavens: when I call to them, they stand up together. 14 All of you, assemble yourselves, and hear; which among them has declared these things? The LORD has loved him: he will do his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans.

Verse 14: I have called him do his pleasure on Babylon: This is the last reference to Cyrus in this section that began in chapter 40 and reached it's climax with the naming and detailed description of Cyrus and his actions against Babylon in the last few verses of chapter 44 and the first several verses of chapter 45. He is called "messiah" in chapter 45 so the comparison issues the extraordinary reference to The Messiah of whom Cyrus is a comparative shadow) in the next verses.

 Verse 14: "His Arm:" Cyrus as a type of the Messiah to come has the attributes of the Messiah ascribed to him because he is the restorer of the Nation to the Zion of the second commonwealth and the initiator of the rebuilding of the temple. Because of these similarities he is called "YHWH's arm" which is a messianic reference, See notes under 51:9 But this reference is so mystic that it triggers further reference to the one who comes from eternity himself in the next few verses where he (the Arm of YHWH) is pictured as being present at the creation.

15 I, even I, have spoken; yes, I have called him: I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous.

Verse 15: His way prosperous: Still speaking of Cyrus but now also includes the man of Destiny who has spoken from the moment of creation is announced in the next verse as being sent by YHWH and the Spirit.

 16. Come near to me, hear this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, I was there: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, has sent me.

Verse 16: (whenever the beginning was) "I was there": This makes the messianic reference plain. He is speaking yet YHWH is directing him. Who is HE? He is being sent by and is YHWH at the same time.. Compare this to Zech 2:8 where it says" For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. KJV. In the same way as Isa 48:16 it says YHWH "sent me" after Glory, which is a "Shekina" reference.. See also Zechariah 2:11 And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee. "You shall know that YHWH has sent me" Who is me? YHWH is coming to dwell but he "sent me." I, me, my, and YHWH are all the same person in this passage. This is another one of the passages where YHWH and the Messiah and therefore the finite and the infinite are combined. Compare this to Zechariah 12:10: And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. It is YHWH who pours the spirit of grace and they look upon ME and mourn for HIM. These verses that mention YHWH and the Messiah in the same verse often have a metaphysical confusion in them which should accompany verses where activity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is mentioned in the same verse in human terms. In eternity I am sure that "I will pour and they shall look on me and mourn for him" makes sense. As also will the verses in Isaiah here where the ONE who spoke openly from the point of the creation, and was already there at that point, is now sent by YHWH and His Spirit. What an incredible verse. If you are earth bound don't try to understand it.

Verse 16: YHWH and his Spirit: "YHWH and His Spirit sent me" so the text reads in KJV English and may therefore call forth a doctrine that the Son proceeds from both the Father and the Spirit. After his visit to the earth the Son sent the Spirit and the orthodox doctrine is that the Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son, which I deem to be correct. The Hebrew construction in this verse however does not have a plural verb with a plural subject and interestingly the KJV has attempted to show that by using a singular verb as it is in Hebrew and by rendering it "YHWH, and his Spirit, has sent me." The Hebrew construction favors this. [ve-'atah adonay YHWH shelacha-niy ve-rucho] Literally: "and now the lord YHWH has sent me and his Spirit."] In Hebrew: when two subjects are involved in the same action but not to the same degree, that is one is more responsible than the other, the plural subject does not take a plural verb. The responsible actor takes a singular verb and the secondary subject is and adjunct. Thus in Genesis 3:8 and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of YHWH in Hebrew is  "ve-yit-chava' ha-'adam ve-'ishto mipney YHWH" and is from a Hebrew construction that says "And Adam hid himself, and his wife...". It does not mean Adam hid his wife, but that Adam was the leader in the action. In the same way Numbers 12:1 says And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses -- the literal Hebrew says  (va-tedabar Miryam ve-'Aharon be-Mosheh) "And she spoke, Miriam and Aaron against Moses." Miriam was the leader in the action and even though Aaron acted in concert with her she was held responsible as the leader. A similar idiom is used in Hebrew when plural accusatives take on the attributes described to the first object without repeating the qualities already mentioned. For instance in Genesis 1:16


 (vay-ya'as 'elohiym eth sh-ney ha-me'oroth ha-gedoliym eth - ha-me'eoroth ha-gadol Lememsheleth ha-yom ve-eth ha-me-'or ha-qatan lememsheleth ha-layleh ve-eth ha-kokoviym)

The bolded parts says literally: (and God made) "the lesser light to rule the night and the stars." This construction does not mean that "God made the moon and, oh yes I forgot He made the stars too" as most modern translation render the thought. That way, it is as though the stars are an after thought. But the Hebrew idiom means God made the lesser light (moon) and the stars to rule the night. There is no "also" in the text. Both the moon and the stars are accusative subjects of the infinitive "to rule." The moon is the primary subject and the stars the secondary subject and the idiom does not require the repetition of the infinitive to refer the stars to the word "to rule." It does not mean God made the moon to govern the night and, as an after thought, "He made the stars too." Thus in Isaiah 48:16 the primary subject is identified by this Hebrew idiom and the KJV translators were correct in identifying this common Hebrew construction. It does not mean that YHWH sent his son and the Spirit anymore than it means in Genesis that Adam did more than lead in the action of hiding which both the man and the woman did. Both YHWH and the Spirit sent the one spoken of in this passage but YHWH is the primary mover while the Spirit acted in concert with Him.. It does not say nor mean that YHWH sent the Spirit. What does this say about modern versions which almost all concur in translating the passage. "The Lord sent me and his spirit" or "The Lord sent me with his spirit."

Interesting is the fact that the Septuagint version which is notorious for not translating word for word does so in this verse. It does the same as the KJV and translates the verse following Hebrew idiom.
Kai nun kurios apostelken me kai to pneuma autou
Isa 48:16 In one of the few word for word translations in the LXX it makes the same translation as the KJV as it is observed that in the phrase to pneuma autou, “Spirit” is in the nominative case and therefore part of the subject. Also the LXX continues the Hebrew idiom of having a singular verb for a plural subject. The phrase means the Lord and his Spirit has sent me. Not “have sent me” which would be required grammatically in both English and Greek. Thus in the KJV and the LXX a grammatical error is left intact to indicate the presence of a Hebrew idiom in this verse.

17 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD your God who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way that you should go. 18 O that you had listened to my commandments! then would your peace be as a river, and your righteousness as the waves of the sea: 19 Your seed also would have been as the sand, and the offspring of your loins like the gravel of it; their name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me. 20 Go out of Babylon, flee from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare it, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth; say, The LORD has redeemed his servant Jacob.

Verses 18-19: It could have been different: See notes under verse 10 above. The affliction was chosen because of the obstinacy of the nation and their predilection to idolatry that had to be purged. Hence the unusual amount of "preaching" and nagging about that sin in this whole section from 40 to 49. If they had been obedient then they would have had great blessings and the nations also would have turned to God sooner. But as it was the Babylonian captivity was now a certainty created to purge the nation from idolatry.

Verse 20: Flee from Babylon: Those who will have lived in that future period, future to Isaiah are urged to flee from Babylon when the time came. So much has been revealed in this section that the pressure would have been great on the believer to obey and leave Babylon. In the event, when the time came, most of the nation was reluctant to leave the economic security of Babylon to return to rebuild a desolate nation. Hence the need for the urging here in verse 20 and in the next two verses.

 21 And they did not thirst when he led them through the deserts: he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them: he split the rock also, and the waters gushed out. 22 There is no peace, says the LORD, to the wicked.

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