An Illustration of what Happens to Those Who turn to the God of Israel, ישעיהו לה:א-ה / Isaiah 35:1-5

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Isaiah 35:1-5

In Isaiah 34:1-17 we read how the land of Edom was turned into a desert place which was inhabited by various unclean animals, dragons, and demons. From the spiritual sense, these things refer to the nations who do not know God, and who descend into chaotic thinking and lifestyles due to their turning from the truth to accept the lie. Human arrogance is at the root of these things that lead to destruction, and this is why Isaiah says that we are to trust in the Lord and not in the nations. We are to trust in the ways of God as opposed to trusting in the ways of the nations. When we trust in the Lord, He will transform our lives which have its parallel to being made into a luxuriant garden. This is what Isaiah 35:1-10 is speaking of concerning the transformation of the land into a garden. This happens when we turn to the Lord and away from our sins! Isaiah 35:1-10 provides us with an illustration of what happens to those who turn to the Lord, and also provides us with great motivation to serve the Lord, and how important it is to take God’s Word (the Bible) and use it to reshape our thinking and our actions for the glory of God. These are the major concepts to what Paul had written to the Romans according to Romans 12:1-3.

Romans 12:1–3  
12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (KJV *12 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν ⸂εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ⸃, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν·* 2 καὶ μὴ ⸀συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ ⸁μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς ⸆ εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον*. 3 Λέγω γὰρ διὰ τῆς χάριτος* ⸆ τῆς δοθείσης μοι παντὶ τῷ ὄντι ἐν ὑμῖν μὴ ὑπερφρονεῖν παρʼ ὃ δεῖ φρονεῖν ἀλλὰ φρονεῖν εἰς τὸ σωφρονεῖν, ἑκάστῳ ὡς ὁ θεὸς ἐμέρισεν μέτρον πίστεως*.)

The Peshat on these verses in relation to Isaiah is the renewing your mind according to Romans 12:2 means that we are understanding life through the lens of God’s Word and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, rather than through the lens of this world and our experience, woundedness, trauma, preferences, or the opinions of others, etc. What does it mean to renew the mind? Paul repeated this in Ephesians 4:23 “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” The mind is the battleground in our lives because our actions are given birth in the thoughts of our mind. If we do not take hold of our mind and reform our way of thinking, we will continue to feel frustrated, and confused regarding what Yeshua said concerning the “abundant life” (John 10:10) that he had promised us. We are told in John 10:10 that the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, and how the Messiah comes to bring life more abundantly. Notice how this parallels what we have been studying in Isaiah. Trusting in the Lord God in heaven leads to having a sound mind as opposed to the confusion and chaos that is found in the minds of those who embrace the world (LGBTQ and liberal ideaologies). The renewing of the mind is life changing, and until one decides to take God’s Word and renew their mind, he or she will continue to walk in defeat and struggle with confusion, and have trouble living according to the spirit. One of the major aspects of the renewing of the mind is found in our recognizing the lies of the enemy. We read God’s Word and learn about truth and life that is found in seeking the God of Israel, and when we take the truth of God, then we are able to destroy the lies of the enemy and walk in the truth. This is why Paul wrote what he did according to 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:

2 Corinthians 10:3–5  
10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 10:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (KJV 3 Ἐν σαρκὶ γὰρ περιπατοῦντες οὐ κατὰ σάρκα στρατευόμεθα*, 4 τὰ γὰρ ὅπλα τῆς* ⸀στρατείας ἡμῶν οὐ σαρκικὰ ἀλλὰ δυνατὰ τῷ θεῷ πρὸς καθαίρεσιν ὀχυρωμάτων, λογισμοὺς καθαιροῦντες* 5 καὶ πᾶν ὕψωμα ἐπαιρόμενον κατὰ τῆς γνώσεως τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ αἰχμαλωτίζοντες πᾶν νόημα εἰς τὴν ὑπακοὴν τοῦ Χριστοῦ*)

Here Paul again reiterates that our war is not against the flesh but against the mind. This is in relation to recognizing the lies of the enemy. Paul speaks of taking our thoughts captive which means to literally capture and conquer our thoughts so that we identify with God and His Word as opposed to identifying with the world and/or the ways of the world. When we have a thought, we think about whether this thought is in agreement with what God has promised or not? Peter touches on these things saying what he does according to 2 Peter 1:3-4.

2 Peter 1:3–4  
1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (KJV 3 Ὡς ⸆ πάντα ἡμῖν τῆς θείας δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ τὰ πρὸς ζωὴν καὶ εὐσέβειαν δεδωρημένης διὰ τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως* τοῦ καλέσαντος ἡμᾶς ⸂ἰδίᾳ δόξῃ καὶ ἀρετῇ⸃* 4 διʼ ὧν τὰ ♦⸂τίμια καὶ μέγιστα ἡμῖν ἐπαγγέλματα⸃ δεδώρηται,* ἵνα διὰ τούτων γένησθε θείας κοινωνοὶ φύσεως ἀποφυγόντες* ♦⸄τῆς ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἐν ἐπιθυμίᾳ φθορᾶς⸅.)

What we note here is that it is through the promises of God that we participate in the divine nature of God in our lives through holiness and righteousness and truth. When we renew our minds in the Word of God, and apply God’s Word to our lives we are actively choosing to engage with God’s plan for our lives. We note the truth of these things, that godly thoughts lead to godly living and godly beliefs, whereas ungodly sin filled thoughts lead to lies, half-truths, ungodly living and ungodly beliefs. This is the power of the renewing of the mind that Paul is speaking of in Romans 12:1-3. Notice how Paul connects the renewing of the mind to the body and living as a sacrifice to God, meaning that we humble our lives and submit our lives to God and His Word. The Lord God made our minds to be able to be reshaped and transformed, which means that we are able to retrain our minds to think differently, but it does take a lot of effort with intention to live for the Lord! King Solomon wrote in Mishley / Proverbs 23:7 “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (KJV) Our thought life literally leads to our actions, and so we must take action in our lives to prevent ungodly things from coming into our lives, such as through television or the internet, or what we listen to, the places we go, etc. This means that we placed boundaries upon our lives for the glory of God, and this again was the point of God giving His Torah to His people, the mitzvot function as boundaries, as a guiding line for our lives for how to live to bring glory to a Holy and Righteous God! Here in Isaiah 35:1-10 we see the outcome of those who would choose to do these things, renew the mind, turn from sin, and walk in God’s holy and righteous ways. The Lord God will take such a person and turn him or her into a luxuriant garden, or as Isaiah says here in Isaiah 35:1, turn into a beautiful blossom like on a rose!

Isaiah states the following according to Isaiah 35:1.

ספר ישעיה פרק לה
א   יְשֹֻשֹוּם מִדְבָּר וְצִיָּה וְתָגֵל עֲרָבָה וְתִפְרַח כַּחֲבַצָּלֶת: 

Isaiah 35:1 states, “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. (יְשֹֻשֹוּם מִדְבָּר וְצִיָּה וְתָגֵל עֲרָבָה וְתִפְרַח כַּחֲבַצָּלֶת)” Here Isaiah continues saying יְשֻׂשׂ֥וּם מִדְבָּ֖ר וְצִיָּ֑ה “the wilderness and the dry place rejoice.” He pictures a desolate place that is in need of water and life to rejoice providing hope for the place and the people who had rejected the Lord God in heaven. This is the God that we serve, the God of life, One who provides us hope regardless of the situation we find ourselves in. Isaiah says וְתָגֵ֧ל עֲרָבָ֛ה וְתִפְרַ֖ח כַּחֲבַצָּֽלֶת “and the desert will shout and sprout like a meadow” meaning that the place that was once desolate and dry will once again be fruitful and bloom plants and flowers. Notice how the Lord God is the author of life, He gives joy and peace when we recognize who He is and allow Him to take the correct position in our lives as King and Lord. Isaiah points out וְתִפְרַ֖ח כַּחֲבַצָּֽלֶת that the land will sprout like a meadow, reminding us that in the Lord anything is possible. This reminds us of Matthew 19:23-26 and the discussion of Yeshua with the rich man.

Matthew 19:23–26  
19:23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 19:25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. (KJV 23 Ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ·* ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πλούσιος δυσκόλως εἰσελεύσεται εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν. 24 πάλιν δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ⸆ εὐκοπώτερόν ἐστιν ⸀κάμηλον διὰ ⸁τρυπήματος ῥαφίδος ⸀1διελθεῖν ἢ πλούσιον ⸂εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ⸃. 25 ἀκούσαντες δὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ ⸆ ἐξεπλήσσοντο ⸇ σφόδρα λέγοντες·* τίς ἄρα δύναται σωθῆναι; 26 ἐμβλέψας δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· παρὰ ἀνθρώποις τοῦτο ἀδύνατόν ἐστιν,* παρὰ δὲ θεῷ ⸉πάντα δυνατά⸊.)

We note here that Yeshua offers an impossible situation, paralleling the rich man to a camel trying to go through the eye of a needle. The point was that the rich man’s wealth was what keeps a rich man out of heaven, placing his faith and trust in his wealth over the One whom the Lord God Almighty has sent to save us from our sins. The disciples say the camel going through the eye of a needle is impossible, and Yeshua responds saying, “with men (παρὰ ἀνθρώποις) this is impossible.” Again the point is on our own strength, relying upon wealth or our own abilities (natural powers) cannot save one from our sins, and this illustrates the allure or dangers of the snare of riches. Yeshua answers with God all things are possible. This is exactly what we are seeing taking place in Isaiah 35:1, how the dry ground, the desert place becomes a sprouting meadow. This is impossible on its own, only the work of God can this happen. This illustrates the goodness of God and His Mercy upon us! Isaiah calls to memory the pleasantness of the meadow, a place of peace, rejoicing, and beauty, all of the attributes of God who also gives us these things. 

Isaiah goes on saying the following according to Isaiah 35:2.

ספר ישעיה פרק לה
ב   פָּרֹחַ תִּפְרַח וְתָגֵל אַף גִּילַת וְרַנֵּן כְּבוֹד הַלְּבָנוֹן נִתַּן-לָהּ הֲדַר הַכַּרְמֶל וְהַשָּׁרוֹן הֵמָּה יִרְאוּ כְבוֹד-יְהֹוָה הֲדַר אֱלֹהֵינוּ:       

Isaiah 35:2 states, “It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God. (פָּרֹחַ תִּפְרַח וְתָגֵל אַף גִּילַת וְרַנֵּן כְּבוֹד הַלְּבָנוֹן נִתַּן-לָהּ הֲדַר הַכַּרְמֶל וְהַשָּׁרוֹן הֵמָּה יִרְאוּ כְבוֹד-יְהֹוָה הֲדַר אֱלֹהֵינוּ)” Isaiah speaking of plantlife singing and rejoicing, this is obviously an analogy for people since plantlife cannot sing. Isaiah says הֵמָּה יִרְאוּ כְבוֹד-יְהֹוָה הֲדַר אֱלֹהֵינוּ “you will see the glory of HaShem, the spendor of our God.” This demonstrates how the Lord God Almighty is present and desires to bring newness of life to all people. The abundance of God is illustrated in the Lord God causing life to spring up from the desert place. Isaiah mentions Lebanon, Carmel, and Sharon as places of abundance (Isaiah 29:17, 32:15, 33:9) to illustrate the point he is trying to make concerning the presence of God causing change in the lives of His people. When we want to imagine what God does in the lives of His people, delivering, redeeming, saving us, and helping us to turn from our sins, the illustration Isaiah calls us to think about is that of the Lord God turning a desert place into a place of new growth and plenty. 

Isaiah goes on asking the Lord God to strengthen the hands of the weak in Isaiah 35:3-4.

ספר ישעיה פרק לה
ג   חַזְּקוּ יָדַיִם רָפוֹת וּבִרְכַּיִם כּשְׁלוֹת אַמֵּצוּ: ד   אִמְרוּ לְנִמְהֲרֵי-לֵב חִזְקוּ אַל-תִּירָאוּ הִנֵּה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם נָקָם יָבוֹא גְּמוּל אֱלֹהִים הוּא יָבוֹא וְיֹשַׁעֲכֶם: 

Isaiah 35:3 states, “Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. (חַזְּקוּ יָדַיִם רָפוֹת וּבִרְכַּיִם כּשְׁלוֹת אַמֵּצוּ)” Isaiah 35:4 “Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. (אִמְרוּ לְנִמְהֲרֵי-לֵב חִזְקוּ אַל-תִּירָאוּ הִנֵּה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם נָקָם יָבוֹא גְּמוּל אֱלֹהִים הוּא יָבוֹא וְיֹשַׁעֲכֶם)” Here in Isaiah 35:3-4 there are four imperatives, two Piel imperatives in verse 3, and two Qal imperatives in verse 4. The imperative is the mood that normally expresses a command, intention, or exhortation. The imperative is highlighted in red/yellow from both the LXX and the Masoretic Text. 

In Isaiah 35:3 the prophet is commanding the weak to strengthen their hands (חַזְּקוּ יָדַיִם), and the legs that stumble to be strengthened (וּבִרְכַּיִם כּשְׁלוֹת אַמֵּצוּ). The way this is achieved is via what Isaiah states in Isaiah 35:4 saying אִמְרוּ לְנִמְהֲרֵי-לֵב חִזְקוּ “say quickly to one’s heart be strong.” This suggests that the strengthening is a matter of faith because הִנֵּה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם נָקָם יָבוֹא גְּמוּל אֱלֹהִים הוּא יָבוֹא וְיֹשַׁעֲכֶם “behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.” Note how the salvation of God and His presence strengthens us. This comes in the midst of mighty nations who come against Israel, the people being terrified and how the Lord God is powerful to overcome and bring vengeance. We note how water is life giving, and the Lord God is bringing water to the desert place. Isaiah speaks of God’s healing power in Isaiah 35:5-7, and of the Lord bringing life to the desert place, likely by bringing water to the dry place so it will sprout like a meadow (Isaiah 35:1-4). So the Lord God brings these things, healing, and refreshing waters to the barren place, again this illustrates the life of one who was lost and then who was found. We note how in the NT text, the presence of God is expressed in the ministry of Yeshua who provided the very same things.

Luke 7:22  
7:22 Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. (KJV καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· πορευθέντες ἀπαγγείλατε Ἰωάννῃ ἃ εἴδετε καὶ ἠκούσατε· τυφλοὶ ἀναβλέπουσιν, χωλοὶ περιπατοῦσιν, λεπροὶ καθαρίζονται καὶ κωφοὶ ἀκούουσιν, νεκροὶ ἐγείρονται, πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται·)

Mark 7:37  
7:37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak. (KJV καὶ ὑπερπερισσῶς ἐξεπλήσσοντο λέγοντες· καλῶς πάντα πεποίηκεν, καὶ τοὺς κωφοὺς ποιεῖ ἀκούειν καὶ [τοὺς] ἀλάλους λαλεῖν.)

Yeshua brought physical healing because the Lord God Almighty was with Him. The healing that Yeshua brings is both physical and spiritual, which renews us in our relationship with God our Father in heaven! This is the power of having faith in the Messiah who was sent from God to save us from our sins, fill us with the presence of God via His Holy Spirit, and then our lives become what Isaiah is describing here in his text, we have life more abundantly!

Isaiah goes on speaking of healing in Isaiah 35:5.

ספר ישעיה פרק לה
ה   אָז תִּפָּקַחְנָה עֵינֵי עִוְרִים וְאָזְנֵי חֵרְשִׁים תִּפָּתַחְנָה:     

Isaiah 35:5 states, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. (אָז תִּפָּקַחְנָה עֵינֵי עִוְרִים וְאָזְנֵי חֵרְשִׁים תִּפָּתַחְנָה)”  Here Isaiah speaks of a miracle of God, the promise of a future healing of the eyes and the ears. The opening of the eyes and the ears speaks to someone being able to see and hear the truth of God, and being transformed because of it! This is the impact of salvation and faith, that one is set free from the blindness and deafness of this world to see and hear God and His Holy Word, and believe in His Messiah! Yeshua made the following statement to John the Baptist when he was asked whether he was the Messiah that they had been waiting for.

Luke 7:20–30  
7:20 When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? 7:21 And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. 7:22 Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. 7:23 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. 7:24 And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 7:25 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts. 7:26 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. 7:27 This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 7:28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. 7:29 And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. 7:30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him. (KJV παραγενόμενοι δὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν οἱ ἄνδρες εἶπαν· Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτιστὴς ἀπέστειλεν ἡμᾶς πρὸς σὲ λέγων· σὺ εἶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἢ ἄλλον προσδοκῶμεν; ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ ἐθεράπευσεν πολλοὺς ἀπὸ νόσων καὶ μαστίγων καὶ πνευμάτων πονηρῶν καὶ τυφλοῖς πολλοῖς ἐχαρίσατο βλέπειν. καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· πορευθέντες ἀπαγγείλατε Ἰωάννῃ ἃ εἴδετε καὶ ἠκούσατε· τυφλοὶ ἀναβλέπουσιν, χωλοὶ περιπατοῦσιν, λεπροὶ καθαρίζονται καὶ κωφοὶ ἀκούουσιν, νεκροὶ ἐγείρονται, πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται· καὶ μακάριός ἐστιν ὃς ἐὰν μὴ σκανδαλισθῇ ἐν ἐμοί. Ἀπελθόντων δὲ τῶν ἀγγέλων Ἰωάννου ἤρξατο λέγειν πρὸς τοὺς ὄχλους περὶ Ἰωάννου· τί ἐξήλθατε εἰς τὴν ἔρημον θεάσασθαι; κάλαμον ὑπὸ ἀνέμου σαλευόμενον; ἀλλὰ τί ἐξήλθατε ἰδεῖν; ἄνθρωπον ἐν μαλακοῖς ἱματίοις ἠμφιεσμένον; ἰδοὺ οἱ ἐν ἱματισμῷ ἐνδόξῳ καὶ τρυφῇ ὑπάρχοντες ἐν τοῖς βασιλείοις εἰσίν. ἀλλὰ τί ἐξήλθατε ἰδεῖν; προφήτην; ναὶ λέγω ὑμῖν, καὶ περισσότερον προφήτου. οὗτός ἐστιν περὶ οὗ γέγραπται· ἰδοὺ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου, ὃς κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν σου ἔμπροσθέν σου. λέγω ὑμῖν, μείζων ἐν γεννητοῖς γυναικῶν Ἰωάννου οὐδείς ἐστιν· ὁ δὲ μικρότερος ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ μείζων αὐτοῦ ἐστιν. Καὶ πᾶς ὁ λαὸς ἀκούσας καὶ οἱ τελῶναι ἐδικαίωσαν τὸν θεὸν βαπτισθέντες τὸ βάπτισμα Ἰωάννου· οἱ δὲ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ οἱ νομικοὶ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θεοῦ ἠθέτησαν εἰς ἑαυτοὺς μὴ βαπτισθέντες ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ.)

We note what Yeshua said here to the disciples of John, 7:21 And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. 7:22 Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. (KJV) Here the power of God was present as Isaiah was stating, to heal illnesses, deliver from evil spirits, and give sight to the blind. Yeshua then speaks of John and the importance of His ministry calling people to Teshuvah. He also points out “But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him” this illustrates how some Pharisees and the lawyers did not repent before God. Here Yeshua provides evidence that he is the Messiah sent by God. He sets people free from both physical and spiritual bondage! We also note how the blind and the deaf are frequently spoken of as having a spiritual condition and a physical condition (Isaiah 6:10, 28:7, 29:9-10, 29:18, 30:20-21, 32:3-4). Isaiah speaks of the day when the people will see truth and life, the land will see newness of life because the people have returned to the ways of God in holiness and truth. This means that the people cease to trust the nations, and cease to trust in themselves, and seek the God of Israel to trust in Him! (Isaiah 42:1-19) 

Rabbinic Commentary

The Targum Jonathan is an Aramaic and Rabbinic translation of the book of Isaiah and therefore is a valuable resource for continuing to study the book of Isaiah!

תרגום יונתן בן עוזיאל אל ישעיה פרק לה:א-ה
א  יִחדֹון דְיָתְבִין בְמַדבְרָא בַאְרַע צָהְיָא וִיבוּעוּן דְשָרַן בְמֵישְרָא וְיַזהְרוּן כְשֹושַנַיָא׃ ב    מְדָץ יְדוּצוּן וְיִחדֹון אַף בְיָע וְחַדוָא יְקָר לִבנָן יִתיְהֵיב לְהֹון זִיו כַרמְלָא וְשָרֹונָא בֵית יִשרָאֵל דִי לְהֹון אְמִירָן אִלֵין אִנוּן יִחזֹון יְקָרָא דַיוי זִיו תֻשבַחתָא דַאְלָהַנָא׃ ג    אְמַר נְבִיָא תַקִיפוּ יְדִין דְרָשְלָן וּרכוּבִין דְרָעְלָן חַסִינוּ׃ ד    אֵימַרוּ לִדמֹוחַן בְלִיבְהֹון לְמַעְבַד אֹורָיתָא תְקַפוּ לָא תִדחְלוּן הָא אְלָהְכֹון לְמַעְבַד פֹורעָנוּת דִין מִתגְלֵי מָרֵי גִמלַיָא יוי הוּא יִתגְלֵי וְיִפרְקִינְכֹון׃ ה    בְכֵין יִתפַתְחָן עֵינֵי בֵית יִשרָאֵל דְאִנוּן כִסמָן מִן אֹורָיתָא וְאֻדנְהֹון דִכחַרשִין לְקַבָלָא לְמִלֵי נְבִיַיָא יַצִיתָן׃ 

Targum Jonathan son of Uziel Isaiah 35:1-5
35:1 They that dwell in the wilderness, in a thirsty land, shall rejoice; and those that inhabit the desert shall rejoice, and shall shine as the lilies. 35:2 They shall greatly rejoice and be glad, yea, with joy and gladness. The glory of Lebanon shall be given unto them; the splendour of Carmel and of Sharon. The house of Israel to whom these things are promised, they, they shall see the glory of the Lord, the beauty of our God. 35:3 The prophet said: Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm ye the feeble knees. 35:4 Say ye to the fearful of heart that they may keep the law, Be ye strong, and fear ye not: behold, your God shall be revealed to take vengeance of judgment: the Lord of retributions, the Lord shall be revealed, and He shall save you. 35:5 Then the eyes of Israel shall be opened, which were blind to the law, and their ears, which were as of the deaf, shall hear and receive the words of the prophets. (TgJ)

In the rabbinic literature, a large portion of the midrashim draw on the idea of the construction of the menorah, the light that was in the holy place, and of the revelation of God to His people in relation to Isaiah 35:1. The TgJ writes the following, א  יִחדֹון דְיָתְבִין בְמַדבְרָא בַאְרַע צָהְיָא וִיבוּעוּן דְשָרַן בְמֵישְרָא וְיַזהְרוּן כְשֹושַנַיָא׃ 35:1 They that dwell in the wilderness, in a thirsty land, shall rejoice; and those that inhabit the desert shall rejoice, and shall shine as the lilies. (TgJ) The menorah is the device that provides light in the holy place in the Mishkhan and it first appears in Exodus chapter 25 as God instructed Moshe how to construct the Menorah. The menorah is a prominent symbol in the Jewish tradition and plays a central role in the celebration of Hanukkah representing miracles, redemption, and deliverance. The Menorah itself resembles a tree the way the branches raise up from the sides, and just as the Torah itself is called the עֵץ־חַיִּים (tree of life) in rabbinic tradition, so too the Menorah its branches raise up to the height of the middle shamash stem. In Bereshit / Genesis 2:4-3:24 in the first book of the Torah, locates the עֵץ־חַיִּים “Tree of Life” at the heart of the Garden of Eden and Mishley / Proverbs 3:18 teaches, 3:18 She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: And happy is every one that retaineth her (KJV) Solomon is stating that the Torah is a tree of life to those who hold her close! The connection is to this wilderness place, a dry and thirsty land, we are told that the people who dwell there will rejoice. The reason for their rejoicing is their having been given the revelation of God which leads to transformation. Transformation from the sense that one seeks the mercy of God through Teshuvah and the desire to live for the Lord. Midrash Tanchuma Buber on Devarim 2:1 states the following concerning this verse.

Midrash Tanchuma Buber, Devarim 2:1
ד”א יששום מדבר וציה. מפני מה כתיב כן, ללמדך כי בשעה שהקב”ה מגלה שכינתו על ישראל, אינו (נגלה) [מגלה] עליהם כל טובתו כאחת, מפני שאינן יכולין לעמוד באותה טובה, שאם יגלה עליהם טובתו בפעם אחת ימותו כולם, ראה מה כתיב, ומעולם לא שמעו לא האזינו עין לא ראתה וגו’ (ישעיה סד ג), צא ולמד מיוסף, שבשעה שנתוודע לאחיו לאחר כמה שנים, אמר להם יוסף, אני יוסף (אחיכם) (בראשית מה ג), ולא יכלו אחיו לענות אותו כי נבהלו מפניו (שם), הקב”ה על אחת כמה וכמה, אלא מה הקב”ה עושה להם, מגלה להם קימעא קימעא, בתחילה משיש את ההרים שנאמר יששום מדבר וציה, ואחר כך ותגל ערבה, ואחר כך פרוח תפרח. ואחר כך כבוד הלבנון (אליך יבא) [ניתן לה], ואחר כך המה יראו כבודה’ הדר אלהינו (ישעיה לה א), לפיכך אמר דוד כי בנה ה’ ציון נראה בכבודו (תהלים קב יז), ואומר כי עין בעין יראו בשוב ה’ ציון (ישעיה נב ח), [ואומר] ואמר ביום ההוא הנה אלהינו זה קוינו לו ויושיעני זה ה’ קוינו לו נגילה ונשמחה בישועתו (ישעיה כה ט).
Another Interpretation (of Is. 35:1): THE WILDERNESS AND THE ARID LAND SHALL BE GLAD. For what reason was this written? To teach you that when the Holy One revealed his Divine Presence over Israel, he {was not revealed <in>} [did not reveal] all his bounty to them on one occasion, because they would not have been able to persevere in this bounty; for if he had revealed his bounty to them at one time, they would all have died. See what is written (in Is. 64:3 [4]): FROM TIME IMMEMORIAL THEY HAVE NOT HEARD, NOR HAS AN EAR PERCEIVED, NOR HAS AN EYE SEEN <A GOD BESIDES YOU, WHO WORKS FOR THOSE WHO WAIT FOR HIM>. Go and learn from Joseph; for when he made himself known to his brothers after so many years, <when> Joseph said to them (in Gen. 45:3): I AM {YOUR BROTHER} JOSEPH …, HIS BROTHERS COULD NOT ANSWER HIM; FOR THEY WERE DISMAYED BECAUSE OF HIM. How much the more <would Israel have been dismayed> at <a sudden revelation of> the Holy One! What did the Holy One do for them instead? He revealed himself to them little by little. At the beginning, he made the mountains glad, as stated (in Is. 35:1): THE WILDERNESS AND THE ARID LAND SHALL BE GLAD. Then after that (ibid.): THE STEPPES SHALL REJOICE. THEN AFTER THAT (in vs. 2): IT SHALL BLOOM ABUNDANTLY. Then after that (ibid.): THE GLORY OF LEBANON {SHALL COME UNTO YOU} [HAS BEEN GIVEN TO IT]. Then after that (ibid.): THEY SHALL SEE THE GLORY OF THE LORD, THE SPLENDOR OF OUR GOD. For that reason David said (in Ps. 102:17 [16]): FOR THE LORD HAS BUILD UP ZION; HE HAS APPEARED IN HIS GLORY. It also says (in Is. 52:8): FOR EYE TO EYE THEY WILL SEE THE RETURN OF THE LORD TO ZION. [Moreover, it says] (in Is. 25:9): IN THAT DAY THEY SHALL SAY: SEE, THIS IS OUR GOD; WE WAITED FOR HIM, AND HE DELIVERED US. THIS IS THE LORD; WE WAITED FOR HIM. LET US REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN HIS SALVATION.

The Midrash states that the reason Isaiah states what he does is because God had revealed his Divine presence over Israel. The Midrash also points out that God did not give Israel the complete revelation of His glory otherwise it would have led to their death, so God reveals Himself little by little. This also leads to our waiting upon the Lord, seeking His ways in our lives, and seeking His help for these things. This again requires Cavanah, the proper intention, and then as the Midrash states, God works for those who wait for Him in faith and faithfulness. The Midrash speaks of a process of revelation of God to the dry and arid wilderness place using Isaiah 35:1 how He works in our lives slowly so that as we grow to know Him and grow in our faith and faithfulness to the Lord, The Lord Works in our lives in this way little by little bringing glory to His Name. We are able to see how the Lord is working in our lives and because of this the Midrash states, let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation. Isaiah goes on saying according to the Targum, ב    מְדָץ יְדוּצוּן וְיִחדֹון אַף בְיָע וְחַדוָא יְקָר לִבנָן יִתיְהֵיב לְהֹון זִיו כַרמְלָא וְשָרֹונָא בֵית יִשרָאֵל דִי לְהֹון אְמִירָן אִלֵין אִנוּן יִחזֹון יְקָרָא דַיוי זִיו תֻשבַחתָא דַאְלָהַנָא׃ 35:2 They shall greatly rejoice and be glad, yea, with joy and gladness. The glory of Lebanon shall be given unto them; the splendour of Carmel and of Sharon. The house of Israel to whom these things are promised, they, they shall see the glory of the Lord, the beauty of our God. (TgJ) Here Isaiah says according to the Targum that the Lord will bless His people with the glory of these places (Lebanon and Carmel). The rabbis say the following concerning Isaiah 35:1.

Tanya, Part IV; Iggeret HaKodesh 23:4
The difference between causing an indwelling (hashraah) and the allotment of a reward is explicit to those who discern knowledge. For the “allotment of a reward” is when G–d irradiates the soul that seeks Him with the light of Torah, which is truly the wrapping of His garment—[wherefore the Torah is called “light”], as it is written: “He wraps (Himself in) light, as (with) a garment.” But because the soul is limited and finite in all its powers, the light of G–d that radiates in it is also limited, contracted, and vests itself in (the soul). That is why the heart of those who seek the L–rd is in a mode of ecstasy at the time of prayer, or the like. For their heart rejoices in Him and exults “Even with exultation and song,” and their soul delights in the pleasantness of the L–rd and His light as it becomes revealed from the wrapper of His garment—the Torah; “And His arrow comes forth like lightning.” This is the allotment of the reward for Torah, which is always fixed in the soul that labors in (Torah).

Here the rabbis speak of how the Lord rewards those who seek Him in His Word (Torah) and how the Lord wraps Himself in the light, our spirit is wrapped in the soul, and so we rejoice when we pray and when we draw near to the Lord. The Midrash states that the soul delights in the pleasantness of the Lord, and God’s glory is revealed in the Torah saying that the Torah is a garment of light. We note that the Torah is a collection of sacred scriptures in Judaism, the Rabbis, and Yeshua consider to be the word of God. It is divided into three parts: the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings. The Torah is often described as a garment of light because it provides guidance and protection for those who follow its teachings. It is also said to be a source of wisdom and understanding. The Torah is a living document that continues to inspire and guide the people of God around the world. According to the www.Sefaria.org database, the Torah is described as a garment of light in several places. In Bereshit / Genesis 2:25, the Scriptures state that “the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” This verse is often interpreted to mean that Adam and Eve were originally clothed in the light of God’s presence. When they sinned, they were cast out of the Garden of Eden and covered themselves with fig leaves. This is seen as a symbol of their loss of innocence and connection to God. The Lord God then provided for them skins from a sacrifice of atonement that God Himself had provided for them. In Shemot / Exodus 28:40-43, God gave Moshe instructions for making the priestly garments. These garments are described as being made of fine linen and decorated with gold and precious stones. They are also said to be “garments of holiness” that will “make them holy.” This is seen as a symbol of the special role the priests played in mediating between God and the people. In Devarim / Deuteronomy 33:29, Moses says to the Israelites, “The Lord your God is your sun and your shield. He will give you favor and will show you compassion. The Lord will surround you with favor as with a shield.” This verse is often interpreted by the Rabbis to mean that the Torah is a source of protection and blessing for those who follow its teachings. The Torah is also described as a garment of light in the Talmud. In tractates Megillah 16b:8, Berakhot 5a:23, Sotah 21a:5, Bava Batra 4a:3 to name a few, Rabbi Yochanan says that “the Torah is a garment of light for the righteous.” This is seen as a way of saying that the Torah provides guidance and protection for those who live according to its teachings. In the Zohar, the Torah is described as a “garment of light” that protects the soul from the forces of evil. The Zohar also says that the Torah is a source of wisdom and understanding. The Torah (Tanakh) is a source of guidance, protection, and wisdom for God’s people. The Word of God is also a source of comfort and hope for God’s people because the Word of God reminds us that the Lord is always with us and that He loves us unconditionally. It is because of these things that Isaiah writes in Isaiah 35:2 that the people of God rejoice!  Isaiah goes on saying, ג    אְמַר נְבִיָא תַקִיפוּ יְדִין דְרָשְלָן וּרכוּבִין דְרָעְלָן חַסִינוּ׃ 35:3 The prophet said: Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm ye the feeble knees. (TgJ) Here the Lord God of Israel is our source for healing, for truth and strength. The Lord heals us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The Scriptures state in Shemot / Exodus 15:26 that the Lord God is our healer “the Lord who heals you.” In Isaiah 53:4-5, he writes that the Messiah “bore our griefs and carried our sorrows…and with his stripes we are healed.” And in 1 Peter 2:24, it says that Yeshua “himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” using similar language referencing Isaiah and demonstrates an ancient interpretation here on the healing power of God for His people. Rashi interprets these verses to say the following:

Rashi on Isaiah 35:3 Part 1
חזקו ידים רפות. כל הנביאים מבשרי ישועה נחמו את ישראל וחזקו את ידיהם הרפות, חזקו ל’ משקל כבד ופתרונו חזקו את אחרים ואם היה בא לומר חזקו אתם שידכם רפות היה לינקד חזקו ואמצו (דברי הימים ב ל״ב:ז׳) עכשיו שאומר להם לחזק ולאמץ אחרי’ נקוד חזקו אמצו חזקו אל תיראו. זה נקוד חזקו ל’ קל חזקו אתם מאליכם כמו שיאמר ליחיד חזק ואמץ (יהושע א׳:ו׳) ולא יאמר חזק:
Strengthen weak hands (חַזְּקוּ) All the prophets who brought tidings of salvation consoled Israel and strengthened their weak hands. (The word) is in the intensive conjugation, and its meaning is (the causative, i.e.,) strengthen others. If he intended to say, “Be strong, you whose hands are weak,” it would be vowelized like (2 Chron. 32:7) “Be strong (חִזְקוּ) and be firm (וְאִמְצוּ).” Now that he says to them to strengthen others and to make others firm, it is vowelized, חַזְּקוּ, אַמְּצוּ. “Be strong (חִזְקוּ), do not fear” is vowelized חִזְקוּ, a form of the ‘kal’ conjugation, meaning ‘you be strong by yourselves,’ as one says to singular (Jos. 1:6), “Be strong and be firm (חֲזַק ֶמָץ),” and he does not say, חַזֵּק.

Here Isaiah points out the imperatives which are commands in relation to being strong and strengthening the hands meaning that we should strengthen others and be firm in our faith in the Lord. This is what the prophets did bringing tidings of salvation to Israel to strengthen their hands. The Lord God heals us bringing restoration, hope, peace, and joy and can heal us spiritually through the forgiveness of sins giving us a new heart. Isaiah goes on to provide reasons why we need the Lord God to see the truth that is found in His word, ד    אֵימַרוּ לִדמֹוחַן בְלִיבְהֹון לְמַעְבַד אֹורָיתָא תְקַפוּ לָא תִדחְלוּן הָא אְלָהְכֹון לְמַעְבַד פֹורעָנוּת דִין מִתגְלֵי מָרֵי גִמלַיָא יוי הוּא יִתגְלֵי וְיִפרְקִינְכֹון׃ 35:4 Say ye to the fearful of heart that they may keep the law, Be ye strong, and fear ye not: behold, your God shall be revealed to take vengeance of judgment: the Lord of retributions, the Lord shall be revealed, and He shall save you. ה    בְכֵין יִתפַתְחָן עֵינֵי בֵית יִשרָאֵל דְאִנוּן כִסמָן מִן אֹורָיתָא וְאֻדנְהֹון דִכחַרשִין לְקַבָלָא לְמִלֵי נְבִיַיָא יַצִיתָן׃ 35:5 Then the eyes of Israel shall be opened, which were blind to the law, and their ears, which were as of the deaf, shall hear and receive the words of the prophets. (TgJ) Notice how Isaiah writes according to the Targum that the eyes of Israel will be opened, and how their ears were deaf to the Torah and how they will be able to hear. The whole idea here is of the revelation of God, something that God is doing in the lives of His people to have understanding. This is what Mamionides writes in his book “Guide for the Perplexed,” Part 1 2:6 saying, “Besides, you must know that the Hebrew word pakaḥ used in this passage is exclusively employed in the figurative sense of receiving new sources of knowledge, not in that of regaining the sense of sight. Comp., “God opened her eyes” (Gen. 21:19). “Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened” (Isaiah 38:8). “Open ears, he heareth not” (ibid. 42:20), similar in sense to the verse, “Which have eyes to see, and see not” (Ezek. 12:2).” It is the Lord God Almighty who opens our eyes, and so we seek the Lord God for help to see and know the truth. We also find the following interpretation from the Rabbinic literature stating the following:

Aggadat Bereshit 70:2
Alternative explanation: “An ear that hears and an eye that sees.” Rabbi Ashi said in the name of Rabbi Chelkiah: “Because in this world, Israel sinned and became deaf to the Torah and blind to the Divine Presence, as it says, ‘Their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot listen; behold, the word of the Lord is to them an object of scorn; they take no pleasure in it’ (Jeremiah 6:10). Therefore, they were prevented from learning Torah, and their eyes were sealed from seeing the Divine Presence. Similarly, Isaiah cries out, ‘Hear, you deaf, and look, you blind, that you may see!’ (Isaiah 42:18). And they say to Him, ‘We cannot see,’ as it says, ‘We have groped for the wall like the blind; we have groped as if we had no eyes; we stumble at noonday as in the twilight; among those in full vigor we are like dead men’ (Isaiah 59:10). And they do not hear, as it says, ‘But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works’ (Psalm 73:28). What does the Holy One, blessed be He, do? In the future, He will first revive them and then open their eyes and ears, as it says, ‘Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped’ (Isaiah 35:5). And they will hear the words of God, as it says, ‘And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left’ (Isaiah 30:21), and they will see how He teaches, as it says, ‘And your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher’ (Isaiah 30:20). At that time, the verse will be fulfilled, ‘An ear that hears and an eye that sees’ (Proverbs 20:12). Neither an angel nor a seraph does this, but the Lord does both.”

Here Rabbi Ashi states that when a person sins he or she becomes deaf to the Torah and blind to the Divine presence. Because of sin one is prevented from learning the Torah and their eyes were sealed from seeing the Divine presence. This interpretation draws in a very important conclusion, when one sins and is unrepentant, he is simply like a blind man who is groping around in the dark. Isaiah is drawn into this interpretation stating that the Lord God is the one who works to open the eyes and the ears to see and hear the truth, to give understanding, and to cause one to repent and turn from sin. We note how there is a consistent interpretation here from both the NT text and the Tanackh, which suggests that these truths are something to take hold of that we are to make every effort to repent and turn from sin, and to seek the Lord God and His ways, and to believe in Yeshua for the forgiveness of sins. Rashi writes saying the following concerning these verses. 

Rashi on Isaiah 35:5 Parts 1-2
עיני עורים. אותם שהיו עד הנה עורים מהכיר את מורא זו עליהם:
the eyes of the blind shall be opened Those who were blind, not to recognize (lit., from recognizing) their fear (sic) ([Warsaw:] this fear;) ([mss.] My fear) upon them.
ואזני חרשים. שלא היו שומעים לקול נביאים עד הנה תפקחנה ותפתחנה כי אתן להם רוח נכון ליראה אותי ועל ישראל הוא אומר שקראם עורי’ וחרשים כענין שנאמר החרשים שמעו וגו’:
and the ears of the deaf Who did not hearken to the voice of the prophets until now, will be opened and unstopped, for I will give them a proper spirit to fear Me. He says this concerning Israel, whom he called blind and deaf, as the matter is stated (infra 42:18) “You deaf ones, hearken, etc.”

The point is that those who find themselves in this situation, having blind eyes and deaf ears, they are not able to hear the voice of God from the Scriptures. This is described as not harkening to the voice of the prophets. We note again from the Scriptures how the Lord God of Israel is described as the one who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Tehillim / Psalm 147:3). He is the one who “heals all your diseases” (Shemot / Exodus 15:26) and “heals the sick.” (Isaiah 53:4) When reading Luke 8:43-48 we read about a woman who sought healing from Yeshua, she thought that if she only touched his garment, the fringes (tzitzit) she would be healed. What is interesting is how Yeshua responded when she touched him. He asked “who touched me” and the reason was because he knew that power had gone out from him to this woman to be healed. She admitted what she had done, and Yeshua responded with kindness and that by her faith she was healed. What this example reveals to us is how the power of God is available to us if we only have faith to seek the Messiah and the ways of our Father in heaven. The Scriptures teach us that if we seek the Lord and His ways, and turn from our sins, He is faithful to do these things for us! This is what John wrote in his Epistle saying according to 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (KJV) This is the power, mercy, love, and grace of God for His people and for all who would seek Him!