ISAIAH 2016 12 Ch. 62 – 66

RESOURCES FOR THIS STUDY OF THE BOOK OF ISAIAH:

Blenkinsopp, Joseph.  Isaiah 1-39: A new translation with introduction and commentary.  Volume 19 of the Anchor bible Commentary series edited by W. F Albright and David Noel Freedman.  (Doubleday, New York, 2000).   *Blenkinsopp A

______________  Isaiah 40-55: A new translation with introduction and commentary.  Volume 19A of the Anchor Bible Commentary series edited by W.F. Albright and David Noel Freedman.  (Doubleday, New York, 2002).   *Blenkinsopp B

______________  Isaiah 56-66: A new translation with introduction and commentary.  Volume 19B of the Anchor Bible Commentary series edited by W.F. Albright and David Noel Freedman.  (Doubleday, New York, 2003).   * Blenkinsopp C

Childs, Brevard SIsaiah.   Part of the Old Testament Library series edited by James Mays, Carol Newsom, and David Petersen.  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2001).

Cook, Stephen L.  Conversations with Scripture: 2 Isaiah.  Part of the Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars Study Series edited by Frederick Schmidt.  (Morehouse Press, Harrisburg, 2008).

Elliott, Mark W.  Old Testament XI: Isaiah 40-66.  Part of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Thomas C. Oden General  Editor.  (Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 2007).

Goldingay, John and David Payne.  Isaiah 40-55: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary, Volume I.  Part of the International Critical Commentary series edited by G. I. Davies and C. M. Tuckett.  (Bloomsbury, London, 2014).  * Goldingay A

—————————————–.  Isaiah 40-55: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary, Volume II.  Part of the International Critical Commentary series edited by G. I. Davies and C. M. Tuckett.  (Bloomsbury, London, 2014).  *Goldingay B

Hanson, Paul D.  Isaiah 40-66.  Part of the Interpretation series edited by James L Mays and Patrick Miller.  (John Knox Press, Louisville, 1995).

Hoppe, Leslie J.  Isaiah.  Volume 13 of the Old Testament Series within the New Collegeville Bible Commentary series edited by Daniel Durken O.S.B.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2012).

McKinion, Steven A.  Old Testament X: Isaiah 1-39.  Part of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Thomas C. Oden General  Editor.  (Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 2004).

Niskanen, Paul V..  Isaiah 56-66.  Part of Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative & Poetry edited by Chris Franke.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2014).

Seitz, Christopher.  Isaiah 1-39.  Part of the Interpretation series edited by James L Mays and Patrick Miller.  (John Knox Press, Louisville, 1993).  *Seitz A

 

 

_______________  Book of Isaiah 40-66.  Volume VI of the New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes whose Editorial Board was convened by Leander Keck.  (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2001).  * Seitz B

TANACH.  Artscroll series, Mesorah publications, The Stone Edition.  The Torah / Prophets / Writings: The Twenty-Four Books of the Bible Newly Translated and Annotated.  Contributing Editors: Rabbi Yaakov Bliner, Rabbi Avie Gold, and Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz.  (Mesorah Publications, New York, 1996).

Tucker, Gene M.  Book of Isaiah 1-39.  Volume VI of the New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes whose Editorial Board was convened by Leander Keck.  (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2001).

Wildberger, Hans.  Isaiah 1-12.  Part of the Continental Commentary series.  Translated by Thomas H. Trapp.  (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 1991). *Wildberger A

______________.  Isaiah 13-27.  Part of the Continental Commentary series.  Translated by Thomas H. Trapp.  (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 1997). *Wildberger B

_______________.  Isaiah 28-39.  Part of the Continental Commentary series.  Translated by Thomas H. Trapp.  (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2002). *Wildberger C

Williamson, H. G. M.  Isaiah 1-5: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary.  Part of the International Critical Commentary series edited by G. I. Davies & C. M. Tuckett.  (Bloomsbury, London, 2014).

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OUR PROCESS:

Opening prayer:

  • Welcome Jesus into our midst. 
  • What are we grateful for today? 
  • Where do I need help? 
  • Where do others need help? 

Read the text aloud.  Each person takes a ‘unit’, those who want to pass say “Pass”. 

What strong images, symbols, and beautiful verses did you read / hear?

What insights have you come to in preparation, in hearing and reading?

We watch the video together.

We review additional notes if there is time

Closing Prayer

 

 

VIDEO NOTES FOR LESSON TWELVE: ISAIAH CH. 62 THROUGH 66

Note the beautiful images of renewal in these chapters.  God is pictured as full of wrath towards His enemies, as well as loving and concerned for His own.  However, it’s more complicated than that.  God is not a kind and gentle uncle.  God demands justice and righteousness – even if God is forgiving when we fail.

The journey from isolation to inclusion, from remorse to rejoicing, from self-destruction to redemption – Israel reclaimed its covenant relationship with God in a new era of history.

This new era of history ushered in by the rise of the Persian king Cyrus.  He wrote, on the Cyrus Cylinder:

“I returned to the sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris, the sanctuaries of which have been in ruins for a long time, the images which used to live therein and established for them permanent sanctuaries.  I also gathered all their former inhabitants and returned them to their homeland.”

How many Jews took advantage of Cyrus’ decree and actually returned?  Disputed.  Books of Ezra and Nehemiah say 50,000.  Josephus – many fewer, people happy in Babylon and reluctant to return to devastated homeland of their grandparents.

Rebuilding the Temple and city walls a huge task.  Tensions between those who had been exiled and now returning with those who had been left behind and / or settled in now open areas was great.  Many were in the area that had been the northern kingdom of Israel – Samaria, Galilee, etc.  Samaritans considered themselves to be the real Jews.

Samaritans offered to help rebuild the temple but offer was rejected.  This led to Samaritan opposition to the temple project.  Religious rivalry, political rivalry, economic rivalry.  The temple ended up being rather lackluster.  Perhaps because in building the first one Solomon used slave labor and the wealth of the kingdom – which was not available to the returnees.  (Massive building projects requiring either the resources of a whole country / king along with slave or poorly paid immigrants – as in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia etc. today.)  Hence, in this period, the apparent conflict (which need not be a conflict) over right worship, the place of the Law, justice etc.

When Judah was a nation state and Israel destroyed, the prophet:

  • Called the people to acknowledge their sin
  • To turn from false alliances
  • To care for the poor

 

 

When Judah was in exile, the prophet’s role:

  • Offer comfort to God’s people

 

At the end of the exile, the prophet:

  • Call for reform and a renewal of covenant, emphasis on renewal of covenant

 

Had God rejected the returnees?  Beginning of this chapter reassures them:

Chapter 62:1

For Zion’s sake I will not be silent,

for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep still,

Until her vindication shines forth like the dawn

and her salvation like a burning torch.

 

All of chapter 62 is about this promise of salvation.  God’s very presence IS that salvation.  Watchmen are set on the city walls to plead and pester God to come, not to look for the enemy as in the past.

In Chapter 63 a series of questions beginning with “where”:

63:11-13

Then they remembered the days of old, of Moses, his servant:

Where is the one who brought up out of the sea,

the shepherd of his flock?

Where is the one who placed in their midst his holy spirit,

Who guided Moses by the hand, with his glorious arm?

Where is the one who divided the waters before them—

winning for himself an everlasting renown—

Who guided them through the depths, like horses in open country?

 

The people continue to struggle:

Isaiah 63:15-16

Look down from heaven and regard us from your holy and glorious palace!

Where is your zealous care and your might, your surge of pity?

Your mercy hold not back!

For you are our father.

Were Abraham not to know us, nor Israel to acknowledge us,

You, LORD, are our father, our redeemer you are named from of old.

(This passage is one of only 3 OT passages that refer to God as Father – though many prayers did.)  Isaiah 64:7 is another one:  “Yet, LORD, you are our father …  we are all the work of your hand.”  Deut. 32:6 is the other: “Is he not your father who begot you, the one who made and established you?”

The very identity of God’s people needed to be remembered and lifted up:

Isaiah 62:4

No more shall you be called “Forsaken,”

nor your land called “Desolate,”

But you shall be called “My Delight is in her,”

and your land “Espoused.”

For the LORD delights in you,

and your land shall be espoused.

AND

Isaiah 62:12

They shall be called “The Holy People,”

“The Redeemed of the LORD.”

And you shall be called “Cared For,”

“A City Not Forsaken.”

 

What about those images of God’s wrath for enemies and even those within the people who resist God’s rule?

Isaiah 63:1 (God as Divine Warrior)

Who is this that comes from Edom,

in crimsoned garments, from Bozrah?

Who is this, glorious in his apparel,

striding in the greatness of his strength?

“It is I, I who announce vindication,

mighty to save.”

The image of a god locked in battle with other forces a common story-line in those days in that region.  A “form” familiar to the prophet.

 

 

 

 

 

A just God cannot tolerate injustice.

Isaiah 65:1-2

I was ready to respond to 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 invoke my name.

I have stretched out my hands all day

to a rebellious people,

Who walk in a way that is not good,

following their own designs;

 

These last chapters constitute one final appeal to the people to listen, repent, and follow the LORD.

Not enough to donate, not enough just to come back to the land, not enough to just go back to “business as usual”.  This is a new beginning:

Isaiah 65:17

See, I am creating new heavens

and a new earth;

The former things shall not be remembered

nor come to mind.

 

Can we believe that God will truly forget our sin when we repent?

It would have been ‘nice’ if Isaiah ended with the positive notes of 65 and first have of 66 – images of forgiveness, rejoicing etc.  But it doesn’t.

Our preferred ending?

Isaiah 66:13

As a mother comforts her child,

so I will comfort you;

in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.

 

 

 

 

Elements of the last 7 verses of Isaiah:

  1. The salvation God offers will extend beyond Israel to all kinds of nations.
  2. Jerusalem will be a sign of God’s glory throughout the world.
  3. Even Gentiles have a place in God’s plan, perhaps even as priests and Levites!
  4. Israel shall endure and will be a place of true worship.

 

66:23-24 (last 2 verses of the book)

From new moon to new moon,

and from sabbath to sabbath,

All flesh shall come to worship

before me, says the LORD.

They shall go out and see the corpses

of the people who rebelled against me;

For their worm shall not die,

their fire shall not be extinguished;

and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.

 

“Although our taste may have led to a choice of a more refined witness, it fits the realism of Hebrew Scripture that a worm has the last word as it urges us to recognize what is at stake in our response to the divine word that has come to us, namely, our eternal destiny.”  Paul Hanson

Isaiah 66:2: “This is the one whom I approve; the afflicted one, crushed in spirit, who trembles at my word.”


 

ADDITIONAL NOTES FOR LESSON TWELVE

Chapter 62:1-5  The new Jerusalem: The LORD’s bride

Jerusalem referred with feminine pronouns and images, the spouse of the LORD

Hoppe p. 162: “God is being reconciled with Jerusalem as a husband is reconciled with his estranged wife.”

Blenkinsopp*C p. 235: “All of this eschatological scenario is suffused with light.  Throughout these chapters, light is the dominant metaphor for salvation.    On the basis of rabbinic descriptions of the celebration of Sukkot during the time when the temple yet stood, with the temple courts lit up with flaming torches, Paul Volz concluded that chapters 60-62 were composed to be sung or recited during this festival.  The coincidence of Sukkot with the New Year festival also brought with it immemorial themes of renewal of creation and restoration of a lost order.  Volz recalls that it was with reference to the same festival that Jesus proclaimed himself to be the light of the world (John 7:2, 8:12).  This hypothesis goes beyond the evidence, as most commentators agree, but is interesting and provocative nevertheless.”

Chapter 62:6-12  Daughter Zion

Perhaps this idea of besieging God in prayer is behind the gospel story of knocking on the door of the neighbor’s house until he comes out etc.  and the “pray without ceasing” idea.

Hoppe p. 163: “Though the prophet’s visions have not come to fulfillment, he refuses to abandon them.  While Jerusalem and Judah were economically depressed and politically impotent, the prophet speaks of the city’s splendor.  While that splendor is yet to be revealed, it is coming.  The prophet can see God coming; he can see the new Jerusalem.”

Blenkinsopp*C pages 241, 242 notes the reappearance of an earlier theme:

Isaiah 40:3                                         Isaiah 57:14                    Isaiah 62:10

In the wilderness                                Build up! Build up!       Pass through, pass through the gates

prepare the way of the LORD!          Prepare the way              Prepare the way for the people;

Make straight in the wasteland          Remove every obstacle   Build up, build up the highway,

clear it of stones,

a highway for our God!                     From my people’s way.   raise up a standard over the

nations.

 

First God comes, then the people return, then the nations.

 

Chapter 63:1-6   The LORD, the warrior

Hoppe p. 164: “Edom and its capital Bozrah symbolize the forces pressuring Judah and preventing the restoration from proceeding as the prophet envisioned it.  But God is determined to restore Judah so that a new, just society can emerge there.  God will not allow any interference.”

A poem based on questions / answers between a sentry / watchman and someone who approaches (presumably in less than perfect light).  There were precedents for this and it has been continued in literature.   Blenkinsopp*C: “Challenge and questioning by a lookout or sentry is a realistic enough model since, in that by the time the second question is asked, the one approaching is close enough for the condition of his clothing to be noted and commented on.  On the other hand, as Duhm wryly observed, if the sentry knew where he was coming from, he should have known who he was.”

Who is this that comes from Edom,

in crimsoned garments, from Bozrah?

Who is this, glorious in his apparel,

striding in the greatness of his strength?

 

“It is I, I who announce vindication,

mighty to save.”

 

Why is your apparel red,

and your garments like one who treads the wine press?

 

“The wine press I have trodden alone,

and from the peoples no one was with me.

I trod them in my anger,

and trampled them down in my wrath;

Their blood spurted on my garments,

all my apparel I stained.

For a day of vindication was in my heart,

my year for redeeming had come.

 

Chapter 63:7 – 64  A lament

Hoppe p. 166: “Just as Moses interceded for the freed but rebellious Hebrew slaves, so the prophet intercedes for the freed but rebellious exiles and their descendants.”

It weaves memories of what the LORD has done for the people in the past – creation, Moses, Exodus, the Promised Land – and the people’s failure to keep the covenant consistently.  The prophet / speaker then appeals to God to set aside His anger, to forgive, to return His presence to his people.

This has many features of the Psalms of Communal Lament.

Blenkinsopp*C: p. 263: “The impassioned plea for God, not just to look down (vs. 63:15) or to reach down, but to come down (63:19b / 64:1) marks the beginning of the second half of the poem, which falls into two stanzas.  It was inevitable that Christian readers and hearers would give this plea a messianic interpretation; and so interpreted, it came to be used together with Isaiah 45:8 … in the Advent liturgy.”

63:19:

Too long have we been like those you do not rule,

on whom your name is not invoked.

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,

with the mountains quaking before you,

Isaiah 45:8

Let justice descend, you heavens, like dew from above,

like gentle rain let the clouds drop it down.

Let the earth open and salvation bud forth;

let righteousness spring up with them!

 

Chapter 65: 1-16  God’s Response

Rather than all the people being judged or rewarded together now, some will choose the path of life and others a path that leads to judgment and death.

Blenkinsopp*C p. 268: “The distinction between the elect and the reprobate in the Jewish community also comes increasingly into focus in these last two chapters.  It corresponds to the contrast between the nation that does not invoke the LORD’s name mentioned in the present passage and “my people who seek me” in the passage following (65:10)”

Blenkinsopp*C p. 270  Pope Pius IX (pope from 1846 to his death in 1878) had the first two verses of chapter 65 inscribed, in both Hebrew and Latin, over a door in a church in Rome that faced the Jewish ghetto.

65:1,2

I was ready to respond to 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 invoke my name.

I have stretched out my hands all day to a rebellious people,

Who walk in a way that is not good, following their own designs;

 

 

Chapter 65: 17-25  The new world

Hoppe p. 171: “The utopian visions of chapters 11 and 65 were born of the disappointments experienced by the people of Jerusalem at very difficult periods of their lives.  The disappointment of the Jerusalem community made it possible for texts such as 2 Peter 3:13 to reinterpret the prophet’s vision of the “new heavens and a new earth” (65:17, and Is. 66:22) as coming when Jesus returns.’

2 Peter 3:13-14

But according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.  Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.

Chapter 66:1-6  Worship and justice

How central will the Temple be for this new Jerusalem?  Priests – the temple and its rituals please God.  Others – God is pleased by justice and moral behavior.

 

Chapter 66:7-17  Jerusalem, our mother

Hoppe p. 173: “Here the prophet concludes the transformation of Jerusalem from the woman who ‘was dismissed’ (50:1) by her husband to the woman reunited with him and becoming a mother to his children.”

Isaiah 50:1

Thus says the LORD:

Where is the bill of divorce

with which I dismissed your mother?

Or to which of my creditors

have I sold you?

It was for your sins you were sold,

for your rebellions your mother was dismissed.

 

Chapter 66:18-24  The pilgrimage of the nations

Hoppe p. 173: Jesus uses verse 24 to speak about the punishment awaiting those who lead others into sin.

Isaiah 66:24

They shall go out and see the corpses

of the people who rebelled against me;

For their worm shall not die,

their fire shall not be extinguished;

and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.

 

Mark 9:47-48

And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’”

 

Blenkinsopp*C p. 293: Chapter 1 and Chapter 66 have a number of significant parallels – enough to convince him that the two chapters are created as bookends for the book.

Chapter 1:28    and    Chapter 66:24     rebels

Chapter 1:31b  and     Chapter 66:24    inexhaustible fire

Chapter 1:29    and      Chapter 66:17   garden cults

 

UNTIL NEXT TIME:

  • Re-read the Book of Isaiah slowly, savoring the images and insights.

 

 

 

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