I have a goal to read the book of Isaiah in Biblical Hebrew using A Readers Hebrew Bible published by Zondervan. I’ve completed First-Year Biblical Hebrew HEB 131 via BYU Independent Study. At some point I’ll take First-Year Biblical Hebrew HEB 132. Below I’ll put my thoughts and images of the pages as I read. Rather than an exegetical exploration of the text this is a personal devotional experience. As such it is less of a connected essay and more a collection of notes that I can refer to when needed.
Why Isaiah?The ressurected Lord Jesus Christ said to the Nephites:
1 And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.
2 For surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles.
3 And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake.
Starting to read Isaiah. One thing I notice right off is the formatting of the text in Hebrew shows it is in poetry rather prose. The page on the right is the end of 2nd Kings which is prose.
As I’m studying Isaiah, I find it helpful to highlight each phrase. One is in red the next one white. You can see the words Sodom and Gomorra on the last white line of the page.
Isaiah 1:15 is interesting. “Stretch out your hands”…, hands can be palms of hands which in my mind is more submissive and humble. The verse as a whole is not pretty picture for ancient Israel.
Isaiah 1:17. Learn to do well; Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, Judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
Something we can all get behind!
וְשַׁח֙ גַּבְה֣וּת הָאָדָ֔ם וְשָׁפֵ֖ל ר֣וּם אֲנָשִׁ֑ים וְנִשְׂגַּ֧ב יְהוָ֛ה לְבַדּ֖וֹ בַּיּ֥וֹם הַהֽוּא׃ 17
Isaiah 2:17 And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.
Repetition from verse 11. Good reminder.
“for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.”
More poetic repetition.
Psalm 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.
1 For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water.
“Stay” can be translated as support so can “staff”. It makes more sense to me as “support of bread and support of water.” Truly the only thing we can really rely on is “Yahweh Tzivaot,” the Lord of Hosts.
Isaiah 3: 10 Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings…
“You say of the righteous that is it good, that the fruit of their deeds they will eat”
Check this out. The small K and Q letters next to the words mean “K” what was written (ketev) in the manuscript and what should be read (qere). You can read more about it Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qere_and_Ketiv
Isaiah 3:24…instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth.
I would translate this “instead of a magnificent robe, sackcloth” the word with the 80 next to it is the word for sack cloth. You say it “saq”. I too love my bling but ultimately family and living a moral life is more important. 😁 Happy Sunday.
Isaiah 4:5 And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, I would translate this as “and the Lord will create every fixed foundation upon mount Zion.”
This is quite the contrast from chapter 3. The Lord creating also echoes Genesis and even used the same word “barah” You can see the word right after the number 5 in the verse. It also has a number 12 next to it.
Isaiah 5:3-4 3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.
4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?
The answer is he has done everything he could and more. Shabbat Shalom!
6 And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
I find the footnote for 31 particularly interesting. Thorns and briers are Genesis language. Also reminds me of
D&C19:16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
Isaiah 5: 7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.
In English the similarly of the sounds the words make in the last sentence gets lost. “I hoped for judgement “li-mishpat” and instead I got bloodshed “mispach” instead of righteousness “li-tzdakah” I got a cry for help “tzakach”.
I was right about my interpretation last night. I love it when that happens! In Interpreting Hebrew Poetry by Petersen and Richards they say on page 88
“the key element in this line (7) is the word play justice-mishpat and bloodshed-mispah; righteousness-tzedaqah, and cry-tzeaqah. This linking of assonance and alliteration underscores a key issue in the poem…”
Isaiah 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
I love this verse not because it is happy but because I know all the words without looking them up. 😁 There are several familiar words in this verse including tov, ur (as in urim), mar (bitter see Naomi in Ruth 1), and matok (sweet, motek in modern Hebrew). I’m grateful I can read and I have scriptures to read. Happy Thanksgiving.
Isaiah 5:26 And he will lift up an ensign (banner/flag) to the nations from far, and will hiss (whistle) unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly:
In the context of the chapter this has to do with distruction and punishment for Israel for rejecting the Lord. Modern day revelation reinterprets the verse as a sign for the start of the gathering of scattered Israel. So many levels to Isaiah.
6:1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the cLord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
Train can be translated robe. You can see in the picture the prose text is justified. A great design choice to show that the type of writing has changed.
Isaiah 6:4 “…for mine eyes have seen the king, the lord of hosts…” This is Isaiah’s call experience.
Another familiar verse.
8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
A friend of our family has a necklace that says “hin-neny” “here am I” in Hebrew as a necklace from this verse. Reading it here it makes perfect sense.
“…Hear ye indeed…” “shm’u shamoa” is an example of something in Hebrew called the Infinitive Absolute. Essentially, an infinitive is followed by an absolute to provide emphasis (you hear indeed).
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
You can see the name Imanu-el on this page. It is the last two words of the sentence in the bottom left of the page
Close-up of the verses 3-4 in Isaiah 8 (below).
Isaiah 8: 3 And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the Lord to me, Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz.
4 For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.
The cool thing is that the boy’s name “Maher-shalal-hash-baz” speed the spoil he hastens the prey you see the word “shalal” (spoil) in the next verse. This direct repetition is lost in translation.
Isaiah 8: 6 Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah’s son;
7 Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks:
What were the waters of Shiloah?
The pool of Siloam was a water system built in Hezekiah’s time to bring water into the city. While the rivers of the king of Assyria were probably the Tigris and Euphrates. What a contrast. God offers calm rivers the King of Assyria offers uncontrollable violent ones.
Interesting repeat here. Both verses use the same word but the first translates it as Immanuel and the second as God with us. A good reminder to both ancient and modern Israel that God is with us if we will let him be.
Isaiah 8: 21 And they shall pass through it, [dejected] and hungry…
This year my goal is to focus on doing things that “fill” me and others. Something to think about.
Isaiah 9:3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
The KJV muddles this verse. In the Hebrew you can see the “K” and “Q” which means “written” but “read instead” the “not increased” should be changed to “and increased the joy to him”. The next picture is the footnote explaining this. This change is also reflected in the brass plates version that Nephi had “Thou hast multiplied the nation, and increased the joy—” I’m glad we have so much to compare for better understanding.
For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.
The verse doesn’t have the word battle in it. A better translation is “For every boot stamped with fierceness, And every cloak rolled in blood, Shall even be for burning, for fuel of fire.” Parry’s Understanding Isaiah supports this change.