Isaiah (Ch 41-42)

The Targum is an indispensable source of understanding the Bible. Started by Ezra for those returning Jews from Babylon and for these returnees they could only understand the Sacred Text in Aramaic; hence the Targum is as if Ezra is speaking to us from the verses quoted. And in Isaiah 42:1 the Targum identifies “my servant” as “the Messiah.”

Isaiah 41

1 “Keep silence before Me, O islands, and let the people renew their strength; let them come near, then let them speak; let us come near together to judgement. — O islands; this word properly means islands and is so translated here by the Septuagint and the Syriac. But the word also is used to denote maritime countries; Countries that were situated on seacoasts or the regions beyond sea.

2 “Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to His foot, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? He gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow.— who raised up the righteous man from the east; the Targum interprets this of Abraham, and so the Talmud; he was a righteous man, was raised up out of an idolatrous family from Ur of the Chaldees, on the other side the river Euphrates, which lay east of Judea.

3 He pursued them, and passed safely, even by the way that he had not gone with his feet.

4 Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am He.” — Can any heathen god raise up one in righteousness, make what use of him he pleases and make him victorious over the nations? The Lord did so with Abraham; and more so he would do so with Cyrus, anointing him as king even before he was born.

5 The isles saw it, and feared; the ends of the earth were afraid, drew near, and came. — the isles saw it; the distant nations saw what was done in the conquests of the man whom God in this remarkable manner had raised up; and they had had demonstration, therefore, of the mighty power of God above the power of idols;

— and feared; were alarmed, and trembled. All were apprehensive that they would be subdued, and driven away as with the tempest.

6 They helped every one his neighbor, and every one said to his brother, “Be of good courage.” — they helped everyone his neighbor; the idea is that these idolatrous nations formed confederations to strengthen each other, and to oppose him whom God had raised up to subdue them;

— the prophet Isaiah describes a state of general consternation existing among them when they supposed that all was in danger and that their security consisted only in confederation; in increased attention to their religion; in repairing their idols and making new ones and in conciliating the favor and securing the aid of their gods.

7 So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer, him that smote the anvil, saying, “It is ready for the soldering”; and he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved. — the carpenter, who brought wood to compose the body of the idol;

— the goldsmith who was to prepare golden plates for covering and adorning of the image which some of them beat out upon the anvil and others smoothed or polished as it is ready for the soldering; that we may put the several parts together and set it up to be worshipped. He fastened it to the wall or pillar, lest it should fall down, or be carried away from them.

8 “But thou, Israel, art My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham My friend. — but thou Israel art my servant; thus the Gentiles show themselves to be the servants of their idols and own them for their gods: but Jacob art my people and I am and will be thy God.

9 Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, ‘Thou art My servant; I have chosen thee and not cast thee away’— Abraham, the father of the Jews, taken from the remote Ur of the Chaldees. Others take it of Israel, called out of Egypt.

10 fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness. — fear thou not; this promise is plain in its meaning and is full of consolation;

— it is to be regarded as addressed primarily to the exiled Jews during their long and painful captivity in Babylon; and the idea is that they who had been selected by God to be his special people had nothing to fear.

11 Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded; they shall be as nothing, and they that strive with thee shall perish. — all they that were incensed against thee; they who were enraged against thee, that is, the Chaldeans or other enemies who made war upon you and reduced you to bondage, shall be ashamed and confounded.

12 Thou shalt seek them and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee. They that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought. — thou shalt seek them; this denotes that it would be impossible to find them for they should cease to exist. The whole verse is emphatic, repeating in varied terms what was said before and meaning that their foes should be entirely destroyed.

13 For I, the Lord thy God, will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, ‘Fear not; I will help thee.’

14 “Fear not, thou worm Jacob and ye men of Israel; I will help thee,” saith the Lord and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. — fear not, thou worm Jacob; the servant of the Almighty is reminded that he has no strength of his own but is “as a worm, and no man” (Psalm 22:6);

— Jacob had not been chosen because he was a great and mighty nation for Israel was “the fewest of all people” (Deuteronomy 7:7). As if to emphasise this the prophet speaks of God-given strength.

15 “Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth; thou shalt thresh the mountains and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff. — behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument, having teeth;

— the Septuagint renders it “as the new threshing wheels of a cart in the manner of saws” for corn was threshed out by drawing a cart with wheels over it, which wheels were stuck with teeth or spikes of iron; or by a cart or sledge filled with stones to press it down, and at the bottom with iron teeth, which being drawn to and fro by oxen over the sheaves, separated the grain from the husk.

16 Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them; and thou shalt rejoice in the Lord, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel. — to fan means to winnow, an operation which was performed by throwing the threshed grain up with a shovel into the air so that the wind drove the chaff away. So all their enemies, and all the obstacles which were in their way should be scattered.

17 “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none and their tongue faileth for thirst, I, the Lord, will hear them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. — the poor and needy; the promise may perhaps take as its starting-point the succour given to the return of the exiles, but it rises rapidly into the region of a higher poetry, in which earthly things are the parables of heavenly and does not call for a literal fulfilment any more than “wines of the lees.”

18 I will open rivers in high places and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water and the dry land springs of water. — I will open rivers; the words have all the emphasis of varied iteration. Every shape of the physical contour of the country, bare hills, arid steppes and the like, is to be transformed into a new beauty by water in the form adapted to each: streamlets, rivers, lakes and springs.

19 I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia tree, and the myrtle and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine and the box tree together, — I will plant in the wilderness; a picture as of the Paradise of God (Isaiah 51:3), with its groves of stately trees, completes the vision of the future.

20 that they may see and know, and consider and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.

21 “Produce your cause,” saith the Lord; “bring forth your strong reasons,” saith the King of Jacob. — bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob; the true Israel of God, who acknowledge the Lord as their King and their God and whom he rules over, protects and defends;

— and this title is assumed for the comfort of them, that though he is King over all the nations of the world, yet in an eminent and peculiar sense their King; and he does not style himself the God of Jacob.

22 “Let them bring them forth and show us what shall happen; let them show the former things, what they be, that we may consider them and know the latter end of them; or declare us things to come. — God claims that the power of predicting the future is his own inalienable prerogative; let them show us what will happen;

— He defies the idol-gods and their votaries to give any clear prediction of future events; no doubt the claim to possess the power was made very generally among the idolatrous nations who almost universally practised based upon frauds and cunning deceits.

23 Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good or do evil, that we may be dismayed and behold it together. — that we may know that ye are gods; the prediction of future events is the highest evidence of omniscience and divinity; and it would prove that they were worthy of adoration; and it is demanded, that if they were gods they should be able to make such a prediction as would demonstrate that they were invested with a divine nature.

24 Behold, ye are of nothing, and your work of nought; an abomination is he that chooseth you. — behold, ye are of nothing, or ‘Worse than nothing.’ This refers to idols; and the idea is that they were utterly vain and powerless, unable to render aid to their worshippers as absolute nothingness would be and all their confidence in them was vain and foolish.

25 “I have raised up one from the north, and he shall come; from the rising of the sun shall he call upon My name. And he shall come upon princes as upon mortar, and as the potter treadeth clay. — I have raised up one, that is, Cyrus; in the previous verses God had shown that the idols had no power of predicting future events;

— He stakes, so to speak, the question of his divinity on that point and the whole controversy between him and them is to be decided by the inquiry whether they had the power of foretelling what would come to pass, power to foretell future events. In this he appeals to the fact that he had raised up Cyrus in accordance with his predictions and in such a way that it would be distinctly seen that he had this power of foretelling future events.

26 Who hath declared from the beginning, that we may know? And beforetime, that we may say, ‘He is righteous’? Yea, there is none that showeth, yea, there is none that declareth, yea, there is none that heareth your words. — who hath declared from the beginning; the meaning of this passage is ‘there is no one among the soothsayers and the worshippers of idols who has predicted the birth, the character and the conquests of Cyrus.

27 The first shall say to Zion, ‘Behold, behold them!’ And I will give to Jerusalem one that bringeth good tidings. — the first; I who am the first as I said before, Isaiah 41:4, and therefore capable of declaring or foretelling things to come from the beginning which your idols cannot do, Isaiah 41:26.

28 For I beheld, and there was no man, even among them; and there was no counselor that, when I asked of them, could answer a word.

29 Behold, they are all vanity! Their works are nothing; their molten images are wind and confusion. — for I beheld and there was no man; that is, no one who had foretold the future. Yehovah, speaking through the prophet, looks round in vain for that.

Isaiah 42

1 “Behold My Servant, whom I uphold, Mine Elect, in whom My soul delighteth: I have put My Spirit upon Him; He shall bring forth judgement to the Gentiles. — Behold my servant whom I uphold; the word ‘servant’ may be applied either to Isaiah, Cyrus, or the Messiah; and the question to whom it refers here is to be decided in the Targum, which says, “behold, my servant, the Messiah;”

— this is the King Messiah; nor of Cyrus, nor of the people of Israel but of Christ as it is applied, Matthew 12:17 who is spoken of under the character of a “servant” as he is; not as a divine Being for as such he is the Son of God; but as man and in his office as Mediator; a servant of the Lord but of his divine Father; who chose him, called and sent him and assigned him his work;

— which was principally the redemption of his people and which he diligently, faithfully and fully performed; in which he was “upheld” as man and Mediator by his Father, not only in his being as man but was strengthened and helped in his mediatorial service so that he did not sink under the mighty weight of the sins of his people or of the wrath of God:

— this prophecy is ushered in with a “behold” exciting attention to what is said concerning Christ as of the greatest importance; directing the eye of faith to him for righteousness and salvation; and as expressive of admiration at him that he who was the Son of God should become a servant and undertake the salvation of men;

— he shall bring forth judgement to the Gentiles; the Gospel, the Kingdom of God, whose judgement is according to truth; the rule of human judgement in things spiritual and saving and by which the Son of God judges and rules in the hearts of his people; this he brought forth out of his Father’s bosom, out of his own heart and published it in person to the Jews and by his apostles to the converted by it, became subject to his rule and government. Gentiles, who being converted by it, became subject to his rule and government.

— the Targum, which identifies “my servant” as “the Messiah” is an indispensable source of understanding the Bible. Started by Ezra for those returning Jews from Babylon and for these returnees they could only understand the Hebrew Text in Aramaic; hence the Targum is as if Ezra is speaking to us from the verses quoted.

He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. — He shall not cry; either in a way of contention as anger is oft accompanied with clamour or in a way of ostentation. It seems to be meant both ways;

— He shall neither erect nor manage his kingdom with violence and outward pomp and state as Worldly princes do, but with meekness and humility; nor lift up his voice which is easily understood out of the following clause and from many other scriptures where that word is added to this verb to complete the phrase;

— nor cause his voice to be heard in the street; as contentious or in a menacing manner or like vain-glorious preachers frequently do.

A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench; He shall bring forth judgement unto truth. — bruised: “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him” (Isa 53:5,10); so He can feel for the bruised; reed—fragile: easily “shaken with the wind”

— and although he favours the weak yet will he not spare the wicked but will judge them according to truth and equity.

He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He hath set judgement in the earth; and the isles shall wait for His law.” — fail; faint; man in religion may become as the almost expiring flax-wick but not so He in His purposes of grace; discouraged; literally, “broken,” that is, checked in zeal by discouragements;

— isles … wait; the distant lands beyond sea shall put their trust in His gospel way of salvation; may refer to the fact that the populations of which the Church was primarily formed were Gentiles of the countries bordering on the Mediterranean.

Thus saith God the Lord—He that created the heavens and stretched them out, He that spread forth the earth and that which cometh out of it, He that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: — thus saith God the Lord; the God of the world, as the Targum says;

— this, with what follows is a preface to the call of the Messiah to the great work of redemption; setting forth the greatness of God as a Creator, that calls him to it and thereby encouraging him as man and Mediator in it as well as their Saviour and Redeemer.

“I, the Lord, have called Thee in righteousness, and will hold Thine hand, and will keep Thee, and give Thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; — for a light of the Gentiles; ‘light’ is the emblem of knowledge, instruction and of the true religion. The Messiah is often called ‘light,’ and the ‘light of the world.’

to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. — to open the blind eyes; this is equivalent to saying that he would impart instruction to those who were ignorant; it relates to the Jews as well as to the Gentiles; of the world which is often represented as one of darkness and blindness; He would acquaint them with God and with the way of salvation.

I am the Lord; that is My name. And My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images. — I am the Lord; Hebrew, Yehovah; who have all being in and of myself and give being to all my creatures. The everlasting, unchangeable and omnipotent God, who therefore both can and will fulfil all my promises;

— that is my name which I must own and justify to the world; will I not give; I will not allow it to ascribed to another; and my glory will I not give to another; that is to another god, to a strange god, to an idol; I will not allow another to assume or receive the honor which is due to me;

— God’s name is the four-letter Hebrew word יהוה‎ YHVH Yehovah (not Jehovah since the letter J wasn’t around but only after the sixteenth century; (more on this at the end)

“Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” — behold, the former things are come to pass; that is the former things which he had foretold. He had by his prophets foretold events which had now been fulfilled and this should lead them to confide in him alone as the true God;

— and new things do I declare; things pertaining to future events relating to the stewardship of the Messiah and to the universal prevalence of his religious truth in the world.

10 Sing unto the Lord a new song and His praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea and all that is therein, the isles and the inhabitants thereof. — new song; such as has never before been sung, called for by a new manifestation of God’s omnipotence;

— to express which no hymn for former mercies would be appropriate. The new song shall be sung when the Lord shall reign in Jerusalem and all “nations shall flow unto it” (Isa 2:2; 26:1; Re 5:9; 14:3).

11 Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit. Let the inhabitants of the rock sing; let them shout from the top of the mountains. — let the inhabitants of the rock sing; it is uncertain whether the word ‘rock’ here (Hebrew, סלע sela‛, Greek Πέτραν Petran, ‘Petra’ or ‘rock’) is to be regarded as a proper name or to denote in a general sense those who dwell in the rocky part of Arabia;

— Kedar was a son of Ishmael, the father of the Kedarenians or Cedrei; they often changed their place in the neighborhood of Petra, or Sela, as they were the names of the celebrated city that was the capital of Idumea; also the capital of the Nabatheans, and the connection here would rather lead us to suppose that this city was intended here, and that the inhabitants of the capital were called upon to join with the dwellers in the surrounding cities and villages in celebrating the omnipotence of God.

12 Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare His praise in the islands. — and declare his praise in the islands; as on the western continent and the isles of it; so on the eastern continent and the islands of it, the islands of Greece, the islands in the Aegean sea.

13 The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man; He shall stir up jealousy like a man of war. He shall cry, yea, roar; He shall prevail against His enemies. — our Lord the Almighty, Yehovah will no longer restrain His wrath: He will go forth as a mighty warrior (Ex 15:3) to destroy His people’s and His enemies and to deliver Israel and His elects.

14 “I have long time held My peace; I have been still and refrained Myself. Now will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once. — cry like a travailing woman who after having restrained her breathing for a time at last overcome with labor pain lets out her voice with a panting sigh; so Yehovah will give full vent to His long pent-up wrath; I will at once breathe hard and pant, namely, giving loose to My wrath.

15 I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools. — I will make waste mountains and hills; not dry and barren ones for these were waste already but such as are clothed with grass and herbs as the following words imply; which is to be understood metaphorically of God’s destroying his most lofty and flourishing enemies who are oft compared in Scripture unto mountains and hills.

16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. — and I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; the Targum interprets this of the people of Israel, thus “I will lead the house of Israel which are like to the blind in a way which they knew not.”

17 They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, ‘Ye are our gods.’ — they shall be turned back; from their former course, from their idolatry and their idols and be converted and turn to the living God; and should fly to the rocks and mountains to hide and cover them from the wrath of God; for this phrase is used of the overthrow of enemies of their being obliged to turn their backs and flee.

18 “Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see. — as in verse 16, the Targum interprets this of the people of Israel, who are blind; and deaf here.

19 Who is blind, but My servant? Or deaf, as My messenger that I sent? Who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord’s servant?” — Who is blind, but my servant? – these words continues to be spoken to both the house of Israel and the house of Judah; who are so blind and deaf as Israel is, the servant of the Lord, his messenger and an imperfect one as he is called.

20 seeing many things, but thou observest not, opening the ears, but he heareth not.”

21 The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will magnify the law and make it honorable. — He will magnify and elaborate what the law means; how to keep them: the law, the statutes and all the ordinances, including all his promises and pledges, in spirit and in truth.

22 But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses. They are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, “Restore.” — for a spoil, and none saith, restore; there is none to be an advocate for them; no one that asks for their restoration;

— for almost almost two thousand years they have been in this condition and yet none of the kings and princes of the earth have issued a proclamation for their return to their own land as Cyrus did; and no one moves for it, either from among themselves or others.

23 Who among you will give ear to this? Who will hearken and hear for the time to come? — who among you will give ear to this? – who is there in the nation that will be so warned by the judgements of God, that he will attend to the lessons which he designs to teach, and repents his life and return to him?

24 Who gave Jacob for a spoil and Israel to the robbers? Did not the Lord, He against whom we have sinned? For they would not walk in His ways, neither were they obedient unto His law. — it was Yehovah, the God of their fathers and of their nation who had brought this calamity upon them. It was not the work of chance but it was the immediate and direct act of God on account of their sins.

25 Therefore He hath poured upon him the fury of His anger and the strength of battle; and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart. — yet he knew not; they refused to attend to it nor lay it to heart. They pursued their ways of wickedness, regardless of the threatening judgements and the impending wrath of God given by his prophets. They did not consider that these evils were inflicted for their crimes nor did they turn from their wicked ways when they were thus threatened with the wrath of God.


More on God’s name, Yehovah.

God’s name is the four-letter Hebrew word יהוה‎ YHVH Yehovah, which are embedded in the Masoretic text over 6000 times, yet when translated into our English language most had been translated as Lord, or LORD, which are titles, but not his name. His name is יהוה‎ Yehovah, or YEHOVAH (but there are no capital letters in Hebrew).

It wasn’t until 1524 that Gian Giorgio Trissino, an Italian Renaissance grammarian, invented the letter J that this new letter started to take a hold in the writings of western Europe. Even in 1611 when the English Bible the King James has our subject of study by the prophet Jeremiah, he was known as Ieremiah. So Jehovah is a very late comer.

The following verses with the LORD erred in translation. His name Yehovah should be used:

I am the LORD; that is My name. And My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images. Isaiah 42:8

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call. Joel 2:32

“I am sought of them that asked not for Me; I am found of them that sought Me not. I said, ‘Behold Me, behold Me,’ unto a nation that was not called by My name. Isaiah 65:1

When we call our God, the LORD, we err, because his name is not the LORD, which is a title. His name is YEHOVAH! May We all ask for his forgiveness, and may Our merciful God forgive us all.

~ by Joel Huan on March 26, 2022.

2 Responses to “Isaiah (Ch 41-42)”

  1. […] Study of Chapters 41 and 42 HERE ~ —— […]

  2. Hello
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