Isaiah 35

The Land and Its People Are Transformed

Let the desert and dry region be happy;
The final mem (ם) on the verb יְשֻׂשׂוּם (yesusum) is dittographic (note the initial mem on the following noun מִדְבָּר [midbar]). The ambiguous verbal form is translated as a jussive because it is parallel to the jussive form תָגֵל (tagel). The jussive is used rhetorically here, not as a literal command or prayer.

let the wilderness
Or “Arabah” (NASB); NAB, NIV, TEV “desert.”
rejoice and bloom like a lily!
Let it richly bloom;
The ambiguous verb form תִּפְרַח (tifrakh) is translated as a jussive because it is parallel to the jussive form תָגֵל (tagel).

let it rejoice and shout with delight!
Heb “and let it rejoice, yes [with] rejoicing and shouting.” גִּילַת (gilat) may be an archaic feminine nominal form (see GKC 421 #130.b).

It is given the grandeur
Or “glory” (KJV, NIV, NRSV); also a second time later in this verse.
of Lebanon,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the grandeur of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that have gone limp,
steady the knees that shake!
Heb “staggering knees”; KJV, ASV, NRSV “feeble knees”; NIV “knees that give way.”

Tell those who panic,
Heb “Say to the hasty of heart,” i.e., those whose hearts beat quickly from fear.

“Be strong! Do not fear!
Look, your God comes to avenge!
With divine retribution he comes to deliver you.”
The jussive form וְיֹשַׁעֲכֶם (veyoshaakhem), which is subordinated to the preceding imperfect with vav conjunctive, indicates purpose.

Then blind eyes will open,
deaf ears will hear.
Then the lame will leap like a deer,
the mute tongue will shout for joy;
for water will flow
Heb “burst forth” (so NAB); KJV “break out.”
in the desert,
streams in the wilderness.
Or “Arabah” (NASB); KJV, NIV, NRSV, NLT “desert.”

The dry soil will become a pool of water,
the parched ground springs of water.
Where jackals once lived and sprawled out,
grass, reeds, and papyrus will grow.
A thoroughfare will be there –
it will be called the Way of Holiness.
The Hebrew text reads literally, “and there will be there a road and a way, and the Way of Holiness it will be called.” וְדֶרֶךְ (vederekh, “and a/the way”) is accidentally duplicated; the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa does not reflect the repetition of the phrase.

The unclean will not travel on it;
it is reserved for those authorized to use it
The precise meaning of this line is uncertain. The text reads literally “and it is for them, the one who walks [on the] way.” In this context those authorized to use the Way of Holiness would be morally upright people who are the recipients of God’s deliverance, in contrast to the morally impure and foolish who are excluded from the new covenant community.

In this context “fools” are those who are morally corrupt, not those with limited intellectual capacity.
will not stray into it.
No lions will be there,
no ferocious wild animals will be on it
Heb “will go up on it”; TEV “will pass that way.”

they will not be found there.
Those delivered from bondage will travel on it,
10  those whom the Lord has ransomed will return that way.
Heb “and the redeemed will walk, the ransomed of the Lord will return.”

They will enter Zion with a happy shout.
Unending joy will crown them,
Heb “[will be] on their head[s].” “Joy” may be likened here to a crown (cf. 2 Sam 1:10). The statement may also be an ironic twist on the idiom “earth/dust on the head” (cf. 2 Sam 1:2; 13:19; 15:32; Job 2:12), referring to a mourning practice.

happiness and joy will overwhelm
Heb “will overtake” (NIV); NLT “they will be overcome with.”
grief and suffering will disappear.
Heb “grief and groaning will flee”; KJV “sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

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