Isaiah 66

1This is what the Lord says:
“The heavens are my throne
and the earth is my footstool.
Where then is the house you will build for me?
Where is the place where I will rest?
2 My hand made them;
Heb “all these.” The phrase refers to the heavens and earth, mentioned in the previous verse.

that is how they came to be,”
Heb “and all these were.” Some prefer to emend וַיִּהְיוּ (vayyihyu, “and they were”) to וְלִי הָיוּ (veli hayu, “and to me they were”), i.e., “and they belong to me.”
says the Lord.
I show special favor
Heb “and to this one I look” (KJV and NASB both similar).
to the humble and contrite,
who respect what I have to say.
Heb “to the humble and the lowly in spirit and the one who trembles at my words.”

3 The one who slaughters a bull also strikes down a man;
Heb “one who slaughters a bull, one who strikes down a man.” Some understand a comparison here and in the following lines. In God’s sight the one who sacrifices is like (i.e., regarded as) a murderer or one whose worship is ritually defiled or idolatrous. The translation above assumes that the language is not metaphorical, but descriptive of the sinners’ hypocritical behavior. (Note the last two lines of the verse, which suggests they are guilty of abominable practices.) On the one hand, they act pious and offer sacrifices; but at the same time they commit violent crimes against men, defile their sacrifices, and worship other gods.

the one who sacrifices a lamb also breaks a dog’s neck;
Heb “one who sacrifices a lamb, one who breaks a dog’s neck.” Some understand a comparison, but see the previous note.
The significance of breaking a dog’s neck is uncertain, though the structure of the statement when compared to the preceding and following lines suggests the action is viewed in a negative light. According to Exod 13:13 and 34:20, one was to “redeem” a firstborn donkey by offering a lamb; if one did not “redeem” the firstborn donkey in this way, then its neck must be broken. According to Deut 21:1–9 a heifer’s neck was to be broken as part of the atonement ritual to purify the land from the guilt of bloodshed. It is not certain if these passages relate in any way to the action described in Isa 66:3.

the one who presents an offering includes pig’s blood with it;
Heb “one who offers an offering, pig’s blood.” Some understand a comparison, but see the note at the end of the first line.

the one who offers incense also praises an idol.
Heb “one who offers incense as a memorial offering, one who blesses something false.” Some understand a comparison, but see the note at the end of the first line. אָוֶן (’aven), which has a wide variety of attested nuances, here refers metonymically to an idol. See HALOT 22 s.v. and BDB 20 s.v. 2.

They have decided to behave this way;
Heb “also they have chosen their ways.”

they enjoy these disgusting practices.
Heb “their being [or “soul”] takes delight in their disgusting [things].”

4 So I will choose severe punishment
The precise meaning of the noun is uncertain. It occurs only here and in 3:4 (but see the note there). It appears to be derived from the verbal root עָלַל (’alal), which can carry the nuance “deal severely.”
for them;
I will bring on them what they dread,
because I called, and no one responded,
I spoke and they did not listen.
They did evil before me;
Heb “that which is evil in my eyes.”

they chose to do what displeases me.”
5 Hear the word of the Lord,
you who respect what he has to say!
Heb “who tremble at his word.”

Your countrymen,
Heb “brothers” (so NASB, NIV); NRSV “Your own people”; NLT “Your close relatives.”
who hate you
and exclude you, supposedly for the sake of my name,
say, “May the Lord be glorified,
then we will witness your joy.”
Or “so that we might witness your joy.” The point of this statement is unclear.

But they will be put to shame.
6 The sound of battle comes from the city;
the sound comes from the temple!
It is the sound of the Lord paying back his enemies.
7 Before she goes into labor, she gives birth!
Before her contractions begin, she delivers a boy!
8 Who has ever heard of such a thing?
Who has ever seen this?
Can a country
Heb “land,” but here אֶרֶץ (’erets) stands metonymically for an organized nation (see the following line).
be brought forth in one day?
Can a nation be born in a single moment?
Yet as soon as Zion goes into labor she gives birth to sons!
9 “Do I bring a baby to the birth opening and then not deliver it?”
asks the Lord.
“Or do I bring a baby to the point of delivery and then hold it back?”
asks your God.
The rhetorical questions expect the answer, “Of course not!”

10 Be happy for Jerusalem
and rejoice with her, all you who love her!
Share in her great joy,
all you who have mourned over her!
11 For
Or “in order that”; ASV, NRSV “that.”
you will nurse from her satisfying breasts and be nourished;
Heb “you will suck and be satisfied, from her comforting breast.”

you will feed with joy from her milk-filled breasts.
Heb “you will slurp and refresh yourselves from her heavy breast.”
Zion’s residents will benefit from and enjoy her great material prosperity. See v. 12.

12 For this is what the Lord says:
“Look, I am ready to extend to her prosperity that will flow like a river,
the riches of nations will flow into her like a stream that floods its banks.
Heb “Look, I am ready to extend to her like a river prosperity [or “peace”], and like an overflowing stream, the riches of nations.”

You will nurse from her breast
The words “from her breast” are supplied in the translation for clarification (see v. 11).
and be carried at her side;
you will play on her knees.
13 As a mother consoles a child,
Heb “like a man whose mother comforts him.”

so I will console you,
and you will be consoled over Jerusalem.”
14 When you see this, you will be happy,
“and you will see and your heart will be happy.”

and you will be revived.
Heb “and your bones like grass will sprout.”

The Lord will reveal his power to his servants
and his anger to his enemies.
Heb “and the hand of the Lord will be made known to his servants, and anger to his enemies.”

15 For look, the Lord comes with fire,
his chariots come like a windstorm,
Chariots are like a windstorm in their swift movement and in the way that they kick up dust.

to reveal his raging anger,
his battle cry, and his flaming arrows.
Heb “to cause to return with the rage of his anger, and his battle cry [or “rebuke”] with flames of fire.”

16 For the Lord judges all humanity
Heb “flesh” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV); NIV “upon all men”; TEV “all the people of the world.”

with fire and his sword;
the Lord will kill many.
Heb “many are the slain of the Lord.”

17 “As for those who consecrate and ritually purify themselves so they can follow their leader and worship in the sacred orchards,
Heb “the ones who consecrate themselves and the ones who purify themselves toward the orchards [or “gardens”] after the one in the midst.” The precise meaning of the statement is unclear, though it is obvious that some form of idolatry is in view.
those who eat the flesh of pigs and other disgusting creatures, like mice
Heb “ones who eat the flesh of the pig and the disgusting thing and the mouse.”
– they will all be destroyed together,”
Heb “together they will come to an end.”
says the Lord.
18“I hate their deeds and thoughts! So I am coming
The Hebrew text reads literally “and I, their deeds and their thoughts, am coming.” The syntax here is very problematic, suggesting that the text may have suffered corruption. Some suggest that the words “their deeds and their thoughts” have been displaced from v. 17. This line presents two primary challenges. In the first place, the personal pronoun “I” has no verb after it. Most translations insert “know” for the sake of clarity (NASB, NRSV, NLT, ESV). The NIV has “I, because of their actions and their imaginations…” Since God’s “knowledge” of Israel’s sin occasions judgment, the verb “hate” is an option as well (see above translation). The feminine form of the next verb (בָּאָה, baah) could be understood in one of two ways. One could provide an implied noun “time” (עֵת, ’et) and render the next line “the time is coming/has come” (NASB, ESV). One could also emend the feminine verb to the masculine בָּא (ba’) and have the “I” at the beginning of the line govern this verb as well (for the Lord is speaking here): “I am coming” (cf. NIV, NCV, NRSV, TEV, NLT).
to gather all the nations and ethnic groups;
Heb “and the tongues”; KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV “and tongues.”
they will come and witness my splendor.
19I will perform a mighty act among them
Heb “and I will set a sign among them.” The precise meaning of this statement is unclear. Elsewhere “to set a sign” means “perform a mighty act” (Ps 78:43; Jer 32:20), “make [someone] an object lesson” (Ezek 14:8), and “erect a [literal] standard” (Ps 74:4).
and then send some of those who remain to the nations – to Tarshish, Pul,
Some prefer to read “Put” (i.e., Libya).
That is, Lydia (in Asia Minor).
(known for its archers
Heb “drawers of the bow” (KJV and ASV both similar).
), Tubal, Javan,
Javan is generally identified today as Greece (so NIV, NCV, NLT).
and to the distant coastlands
Or “islands” (NIV).
that have not heard about me or seen my splendor. They will tell the nations of my splendor.
20They will bring back all your countrymen
Heb “brothers” (so NIV); NCV “fellow Israelites.”
from all the nations as an offering to the Lord. They will bring them
The words “they will bring them” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
on horses, in chariots, in wagons, on mules, and on camels
The precise meaning of this word is uncertain. Some suggest it refers to “chariots.” See HALOT 498 s.v. *כִּרְכָּרָה.
to my holy hill Jerusalem,” says the Lord, “just as the Israelites bring offerings to the Lord’s temple in ritually pure containers.
21And I will choose some of them as priests and Levites,” says the Lord. 22“For just as the new heavens and the new earth I am about to make will remain standing before me,” says the Lord, “so your descendants and your name will remain. 23From one month
Heb “new moon.” The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.
to the next and from one Sabbath to the next, all people
Heb “all flesh” (so KJV, ASV, NRSV); NAB, NASB, NIV “all mankind”; NLT “All humanity.”
will come to worship me,”
Or “bow down before” (NASB).
says the Lord.
24“They will go out and observe the corpses of those who rebelled against me, for the maggots that eat them will not die,
Heb “for their worm will not die.”
and the fire that consumes them will not die out.
Heb “and their fire will not be extinguished.”
All people will find the sight abhorrent.”
Heb “and they will be an abhorrence to all flesh.”
This verse depicts a huge mass burial site where the seemingly endless pile of maggot-infested corpses are being burned.

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