The first six verses of the ten commandments states the following:
ספר שמות פרק כ
א וַיְדַבֵּר אֱלֹהִים אֵת כָּל-הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה לֵאמֹר: ס ב אָנֹכִי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים: ג לֹא-יִהְיֶה לְךָ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים עַל-פָּנָי: ד לֹא-תַעֲשֶֹה לְךָ פֶסֶל וְכָל-תְּמוּנָה אֲשֶׁר בַּשָּׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל וַאֲשֶׁר בָּאָרֶץ מִתָּחַת וַאֲשֶׁר בַּמַּיִם מִתַּחַת לָאָרֶץ: ה לֹא-תִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לָהֶם וְלֹא תָעָבְדֵם כִּי אָנֹכִי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֵל קַנָּא פֹּקֵד עֲוֹן אָבֹת עַל-בָּנִים עַל-שִׁלֵּשִׁים וְעַל-רִבֵּעִים לְשֹֹנְאָי: ו וְעֹשֶֹה חֶסֶד לַאֲלָפִים לְאֹהֲבַי וּלְשֹׁמְרֵי מִצְוֹתָי:
Shemot / Exodus 20:1–6
20:1 And God spake all these words, saying, 20:2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 20:6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (KJV)
The point of these Scriptures here is connected to how most people today in their lives, including God’s people, are busy chasing after money, attention, and influence instead of the Lord God of Israel. Here the Lord God speaks of not having any other god on this earth, above this earth, or below the earth. The Lord says that He visits the iniquity to generations of people, and this is due to learned sins. He also shows mercy towards thousands to those that love Him and keep His commands. The Lord God says here in Shemot / Exodus 20:6 וְעֹשֶֹה חֶסֶד לַאֲלָפִים לְאֹהֲבַי וּלְשֹׁמְרֵי מִצְוֹתָי “And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” The idea of keeping the commands is connected to loving God. Here, the Lord God speaks of keeping His commands. It is important to note that the Lord God would not ask us to do something that is beyond our ability or capacity to do. When He says that we are to keep His commands, this means that we are able to do that. Yeshua said in Matthew 6:33 “seek first the kingdom of God and all of these things shall be added unto you.” This means that when we seek the Kingdom of God all of these things that other people are chasing after will be added to us! This means that we are to put the Lord God first in our lives and let Him take charge. This is also connected to the idea, what we hear today people say, “it is not the outside that matters, only the heart matters.” The reality of this statement is that the outside often reveals a lot about what is going on, on the inside. This is why the Lord God connects loving God with obeying the commands of God. (וְעֹשֶֹה חֶסֶד לַאֲלָפִים לְאֹהֲבַי וּלְשֹׁמְרֵי מִצְוֹתָי) Whenever we put something or someone ahead before God then that thing or person becomes the very thing that we are being warned of here in Shemot / Exodus 20. The point is we need to be intentional in our walk with God, making daily habits to get into God’s word. This leads to a more abundant life, one that is filled with peace, love, and mercy. The benefit of putting God first in our lives is we accept His direction in our lives. Generally speaking though, it is when bad things happen that we realize our helplessness and then turn to the Lord God for His help. (Isaiah 33:17-24) Only then will we find security and peace, when we trust in the Lord and not in human leadership. Isaiah says in Isaiah 33:22 “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.” (כִּי יְהֹוָה שֹׁפְטֵנוּ יְהֹוָה מְחֹקְקֵנוּ יְהֹוָה מַלְכֵּנוּ הוּא יוֹשִׁיעֵנוּ) Ultimately, each of us must come to terms with who is king in our lives, the Lord God Almighty or ourselves? We note that the king mentioned here in Isaiah 33:17 could refer to Hezekiah, however the overall theme suggests that this is not merely a human king. The benefits of seeking the God of Israel and His Messiah Yeshua are listed below.
Twelve ways that we benefit having faith in God
- He’ll Fight Our Battles.
- Our Expectations Won’t Be Cut Short.
- We Won’t Be Disappointed.
- We Will Have Peace.
- He Will Direct Our Paths.
- We Will Have Hope.
- We’ll Fulfill God’s Purpose For Our Lives.
- We Will Have Unshakable Confidence.
- Helps Us Avoid Unnecessary Stress.
- We Will Have The Hope Of Eternal Life.
- Helps Us Wait Patiently On Him.
- Our Faith Will Become Stronger.
This is not an exhaustive list, but these benefits are based upon what we read in the Scriptures. Trusting in the Lord to fight our battles is a theme that Isaiah states over and over again in his book. The Tanakh demonstrates this in 2 Chronicles 20:15-27 how the battle belongs to the Lord. Note in the narrative in 2 Chronicles, the battle was won, it appears that the men in the army killed each other. This was not just a physical battle; it was a spiritual battle. What this illustrates for us is our battles are also not just physical, but spiritual and the Lord God will fight on our behalf. Solomon writes that our expectations will not be cut short according to Mishley / Proverbs 23:18. The prophet Jeremiah tells us to have confidence and trust in the Lord, and doing so we will be like a tree planted by the riverside that will flourish (Jeremiah 17:7) which is very similar to what David writes in Tehillim / Psalms 1. Yeshua promises us peace in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (KJV) The psalmist writes that the Lord God will direct our paths in Tehillim / Psalms 37:23. The Hebrew text states that He will indeed direct our paths.
מֵ֭יְהוָה מִֽצְעֲדֵי־גֶ֥בֶר כֹּונָ֗נוּ וְדַרְכֹּ֥ו יֶחְפָּֽץ
Here it says “from God the steps of man are set up / established / directed, and his ways are a delight.” This means that God does indeed direct our paths. This is significant because Mishley / Proverbs 3:5-6 states that we are not to lean on our own understanding because this will fail us at times. We trust in the Lord who helps, guides, and directs us. When we trust in the Lord we then have hope! When we trust in the Lord and seek Him in His Holy Word (the Scriptures) we are able to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives. When we live by His Holy word we can be confident that we are in the will of our Father in heaven. What all of these things are revealing to us coupled with Isaiah’s words are that we must be patient to wait upon the Lord, and trust that He is in control. Doing this leads to strengthening of our faith.
Isaiah continues saying the following according to Isaiah 33:19.
ספר ישעיה פרק לג
יט אֶת-עַם נוֹעָז לֹא תִרְאֶה עַם עִמְקֵי שָֹפָה מִשְּׁמוֹעַ נִלְעַג לָשׁוֹן אֵין בִּינָה:
Isaiah 33:19 states, “Thou shalt not see a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive; of a stammering tongue, that thou canst not understand. (אֶת-עַם נוֹעָז לֹא תִרְאֶה עַם עִמְקֵי שָֹפָה מִשְּׁמוֹעַ נִלְעַג לָשׁוֹן אֵין בִּינָה)” Could these words be reminescent of what God is going to do, remove the people to Babylon where they will learn a new language, then return to the land of Israel with a speech that cannot be understood? The TgJ translation of this verse is very similar to Isaiah’s words. The LXX however translates, 19 μικρὸν καὶ μέγαν λαόν; ὧ οὐ συνεβουλεύσαντο οὐδὲ ᾔδει βαθύφωνον ὥστε μὴ ἀκοῦσαι λαὸς πεφαυλισμένος, καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν τῷ ἀκούοντι σύνεσις. 19 a small and great people? One with whom he has not counseled or known deep speech, so that a disparaged people would not hear and there is no comprehension for the hearer. (LES) The LXX speaks of one who was not counseled or known deep speech. This could be considered one who is uneducated in the ways of God. The concept of the stammering (לְעַג) tongue reminds us of something that Yeshua taught concerning prayer in Matthew 6:7-8.
6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 6:8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (KJV 7 * Προσευχόμενοι δὲ μὴ βατταλογήσητε ὥσπερ οἱ ⸀ἐθνικοί,* δοκοῦσιν γὰρ ὅτι ἐν τῇ πολυλογίᾳ αὐτῶν εἰσακουσθήσονται.* 8 μὴ οὖν ὁμοιωθῆτε αὐτοῖς· οἶδεν γὰρ ⸂ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν⸃ ὧν χρείαν ἔχετε πρὸ τοῦ ὑμᾶς ⸄αἰτῆσαι αὐτόν⸅.)
Here Yeshua taught just prior to this in Matthew 6:1-6 about pride and prayer. He follows with these statements vain repetitions assuming that the Lord God won’t hear our prayers unless we repeat a sort of montra. The point is that the reason God would not hear prayer would be due to one’s sins and not due to a lack of repetition. David wrote according to Tehillim / Psalms 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear me: (KJV אָ֭וֶן אִם־רָאִ֣יתִי בְלִבִּ֑י לֹ֖א יִשְׁמַ֣ע׀ אֲדֹנָֽי׃) Here David realizes that regarding iniquity in one’s heart leads to the Lord not hearing our prayers. Only the prayer of repentance will He hear. The Lord God gave us His Word so that we can be educated in these things, and repent of our sins. We no longer behave as those who have unintelligible or strange sounding speech. We become a delight to the Lord, and we see His wise counsel with a sense of wonder and awe, and drawing near through His Holy Word.
Isaiah goes on saying the following according to Isaiah 33:20-22.
ספר ישעיה פרק לג
כ חֲזֵה צִיּוֹן קִרְיַת מוֹעֲדֵנוּ עֵינֶיךָ תִרְאֶינָה יְרוּשָׁלַם נָוֶה שַׁאֲנָן אֹהֶל בַּל-יִצְעָן בַּל-יִסַּע יְתֵדֹתָיו לָנֶצַח וְכָל-חֲבָלָיו בַּל-יִנָּתֵקוּ: כא כִּי אִם-שָׁם אַדִּיר יְהֹוָה לָנוּ מְקוֹם-נְהָרִים יְאֹרִים רַחֲבֵי יָדָיִם בַּל-תֵּלֶךְ בּוֹ אֳנִי-שַׁיִט וְצִי אַדִּיר לֹא יַעַבְרֶנּוּ: כב כִּי יְהֹוָה שֹׁפְטֵנוּ יְהֹוָה מְחֹקְקֵנוּ יְהֹוָה מַלְכֵּנוּ הוּא יוֹשִׁיעֵנוּ:
Isaiah 33:20 states, “Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. (זֵה צִיּוֹן קִרְיַת מוֹעֲדֵנוּ עֵינֶיךָ תִרְאֶינָה יְרוּשָׁלַם נָוֶה שַׁאֲנָן אֹהֶל בַּל-יִצְעָן בַּל-יִסַּע יְתֵדֹתָיו לָנֶצַח וְכָל-חֲבָלָיו בַּל-יִנָּתֵקוּ)” Isaiah 33:21 “But there the glorious LORD will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. (כִּי אִם-שָׁם אַדִּיר יְהֹוָה לָנוּ מְקוֹם-נְהָרִים יְאֹרִים רַחֲבֵי יָדָיִם בַּל-תֵּלֶךְ בּוֹ אֳנִי-שַׁיִט וְצִי אַדִּיר לֹא יַעַבְרֶנּוּ)” Isaiah 33:22 “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us. (כִּי יְהֹוָה שֹׁפְטֵנוּ יְהֹוָה מְחֹקְקֵנוּ יְהֹוָה מַלְכֵּנוּ הוּא יוֹשִׁיעֵנוּ)” Here Isaiah speaks of the security of Judah and Jerusalem which is the result of the true king that they have believed in. It is in this place that God makes Himself known and the Lord God has provided this place for His people. Here Isaiah makes mention that the tabernacle and Jerusalem will not be shaken or taken down. This apparently is not a prophecy regarding the Tabernacle in Shiloh, nor is it a prophecy that speaks against the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in Jerusalem (Isaiah 33:20). Isaiah speaks of the Lord being our place of refuge and of being a place of broad rivers and streams. This again parallels David’s words in the Psalms and elsewhere that speak of the waters of life that God provides which cause us to not be afraid of dry and desperate times. The Lord God is declared to be כב כִּי יְהֹוָה שֹׁפְטֵנוּ יְהֹוָה מְחֹקְקֵנוּ יְהֹוָה מַלְכֵּנוּ הוּא יוֹשִׁיעֵנוּ: “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.” We note that the lawgiver, He is the righteous judge. When we stand before the righteous judge, we cannot stand as criminals and expect Him to work on our behalf. This is the purpose of His calling us to righteousness and truth, Teshuvah (Repentance) and turning from sin, and seeking the forgiveness of sins, and sending His son Yeshua as an advocate on our behalf. Isaiah is speaking of the Almighty God who loves us and is there for us if we are willing to seek Him and His help in our lives!
The text comparison according to the LXX and the TgJ state the following:
The LXX writes, 20 ἰδοὺ Σιων ἡ πόλις τὸ σωτήριον ἡμῶν, οἱ ὀφθαλμοί σου ὄψονται Ιερουσαλημ, πόλις πλουσία, σκηναὶ αἳ οὐ μὴ σεισθῶσιν, οὐδὲ μὴ κινηθῶσιν οἱ πάσσαλοι τῆς σκηνῆς αὐτῆς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα χρόνον, οὐδὲ τὰ σχοινία αὐτῆς οὐ μὴ διαρραγῶσιν. 21 ὅτι τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου μέγα ὑμῖν, τόπος ὑμῖν ἔσται, ποταμοὶ καὶ διώρυγες πλατεῖς καὶ εὐρύχωροι, οὐ πορεύσῃ ταύτην τὴν ὁδόν, οὐδὲ πορεύσεται πλοῖον ἐλαῦνον. 22 ὁ γὰρ θεός μου μέγας ἐστίν, οὐ παρελεύσεταί με κύριος, κριτὴς ἡμῶν κύριος, ἄρχων ἡμῶν κύριος, βασιλεὺς ἡμῶν κύριος, οὗτος ἡμᾶς σώσει. 20 Look, the city of Zion is our salvation! Your eyes will see Jerusalem, a wealthy city: tents that certainly will not be shaken; and the pegs of its tent will not be moved for eternal time, and its cord will certainly not be broken, 21 because the name of the Lord is great to you. There will be a place for you, rivers even two fathoms broad and spacious. You will not go this way, nor will a ship go driving along. 22 For my God is great; the Lord will not pass me by. The Lord is our judge; the Lord is our ruler; the Lord is our king; he will save us! (LES) The TgJ translates saying, תִחזֵי בְמַפַלתְהֹון צִיֹון קִריַת זִמנַנָא עֵינָך יִחזְיָן בְנַחָמַת יְרוּשלַם בְאַצלָחוּתַה בִשלֵיוְתַה כְמַשכְנָא דְלָא מִתפָרַק וְלָא מִשתַלפָן סִיכֹוהִי לְעָלַם וְכָל אְטוּנֹוהִי לָא מִתפַסקִין׃ אְלָהֵין מִתַמָן תִתגְלֵי גְבוּרְתָא דיוי לְאֵיטָבָא לַנָא מֵאְתַר נָפְקִין נַהרִין שָטְפִין פַתיוּת יְדִין דְלָא תֵיזֵיל בֵיה סְפִינַת צַייָדִין וּבוּרנֵי רַבְתָא לָא תְגוּזִינֵיה׃ אְרֵי יוי דַיָינַנָא דְאַפְקַנָא בִגבוּרְתֵיה מִמִצרַיִם יוי מַלְפַנָא דִיהַב לַנָא אֻלפַן אֹורָיתֵיה מִסִינַי יוי מַלכַנָא הוּא יִפרְקִנַנָא וְיַעְבֵיד לַנָא פֹורעָנוּת דִין מִן מַשרְיָת גֹוג׃ 20 O Zion, thou shalt see their fall; O city of our festivals, thine eyes shall see the consolation of Jerusalem in her prosperity and security, like a tabernacle that is not taken down, and whose pegs are not drawn out for ever, and whose cords shall not be broken. 21 Yea, surely from thence the power of the Lord shall be revealed, to do good unto us from the place whence overflowing rivers of broad span shall flow, through which shall not pass the fishermen’s boat, nor the large pinnace go through it. 22 For the Lord is our judge, who by His power brought us out of Egypt; the Lord, who is our teacher, who gave us the doctrine of the law from Sinai; the Lord is our king, He will redeem us, and execute for us vengeance of judgment on the host of Gog. (TgJ) The Targum Jonathan speaks of the power of God to protect His people. Isaiah speaks of the place for fishing, and how foreign nations will not come to fish from the people of Israel, and how the Lord has redeemed us and given us His Torah. This idea of fishing and the Tabernacle reminds us of mobility, that one is moving around for food and to find a place to live. This place of permanence that Isaiah is speaking here in all of the translations (MSS, LXX, TgJ) describes the power of God that is needed to find a place to peacefully live. This is the idea of looking for a place and a city that is prepared by God. We remember what is written in the NT text concerning these things according to the book of Hebrews.
11:9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11:11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. 11:12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 11:14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 11:15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 11:16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (KJV 11 Πίστει καὶ ⸂αὐτὴ Σάρρα στεῖρα⸃ δύναμιν εἰς καταβολὴν σπέρματος ἔλαβεν ⸆ καὶ παρὰ καιρὸν ἡλικίας⸇,* ἐπεὶ πιστὸν ἡγήσατο τὸν ἐπαγγειλάμενον.* 12 διὸ καὶ ἀφʼ ἑνὸς ⸀ἐγεννήθησαν,* καὶ ταῦτα νενεκρωμένου, καθὼς τὰ ἄστρα τοῦ οὐρανοῦ τῷ πλήθει καὶ ὡς ἡ ἄμμος ⸋ἡ παρὰ τὸ χεῖλος⸋ τῆς θαλάσσης ἡ ἀναρίθμητος.* 13 Κατὰ πίστιν ἀπέθανον οὗτοι πάντες, μὴ ⸀λαβόντες τὰς ἐπαγγελίας ἀλλὰ πόρρωθεν αὐτὰς ἰδόντες καὶ ἀσπασάμενοι καὶ ὁμολογήσαντες ὅτι ξένοι καὶ παρεπίδημοί εἰσιν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς.* 14 οἱ γὰρ τοιαῦτα λέγοντες ἐμφανίζουσιν ὅτι πατρίδα ⸀ἐπιζητοῦσιν.* 15 καὶ εἰ μὲν ἐκείνης ⸀ἐμνημόνευον ἀφʼ ἧς ⸁ἐξέβησαν, εἶχον ἂν καιρὸν ἀνακάμψαι· 16 νῦν δὲ κρείττονος ὀρέγονται,* τοῦτʼ ἔστιν ἐπουρανίου. διὸ οὐκ ἐπαισχύνεται αὐτοὺς ὁ θεὸς θεὸς ἐπικαλεῖσθαι αὐτῶν·* ἡτοίμασεν γὰρ αὐτοῖς πόλιν.*)
Here we find an ancient interpretation from the author of the book of Hebrews concerning Abraham. The ancient interpretation states, Hebrews 11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (KJV) meaning that Abraham had a certain perspective that focused upon seeking what God had for him! These things were written so that we too can take this perspective, adjusting our attitudes in life to be consistent with what these men of faith had, an attitude that pleases God. We note that when we strive for and persevere to serve the Lord, and to seek the things of God, just like Abraham did, we are told “God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:16, KJV) If we consider our bodies as a tent, a temporary place to live, both for us and for God’s Spirit, until the time that we die, we find this to be a parallel to our lives here on earth. Both Isaiah and Hebrews speak to a time that is coming when the Lord will make a permanent place for us to be pegged down where we can take root and live forever with God. There appears to be contained in these verses from Isaiah the promise to eternal life for those who seek the God of Israel and His Messiah!
Isaiah goes on saying the following according to Isaiah 33:23-24.
ספר ישעיה פרק לג
כג נִטְּשׁוּ חֲבָלָיִךְ בַּל-יְחַזְּקוּ כֵן-תָּרְנָם בַּל-פָּרְשֹוּ נֵס אָז חֻלַּק עַד-שָׁלָל מַרְבֶּה פִּסְחִים בָּזְזוּ בַז: כד וּבַל-יֹאמַר שָׁכֵן חָלִיתִי הָעָם הַיּשֵׁב בָּהּ נְשֹֻא עָוֹן:
Isaiah 33:23 states, “Thy tacklings are loosed; they could not well strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail: then is the prey of a great spoil divided; the lame take the prey. (נִטְּשׁוּ חֲבָלָיִךְ בַּל-יְחַזְּקוּ כֵן-תָּרְנָם בַּל-פָּרְשֹוּ נֵס אָז חֻלַּק עַד-שָׁלָל מַרְבֶּה פִּסְחִים בָּזְזוּ בַז)” Isaiah 33:24 “And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity. (וּבַל-יֹאמַר שָׁכֵן חָלִיתִי הָעָם הַיּשֵׁב בָּהּ נְשֹֻא עָוֹן)” For a ship whose mast is broken the ship is useless for sailing from place to place. The mast of a sailing vessel is the tall spar or arrangement of spars that carry the sails. The sails capture the wind and use the force of the wind to move the ship. Here in Isaiah 33:23 Isaiah says that they were unable to strengthen their mast and unable to spread out their sail. The fishing tackle is the bait and equipment required for the sport of catching fish, typically including a rod and line. Isaiah also states that the tackling is loosed meaning that their bait and equipment is gone. This is a serious problem from the sense of catching food to eat and for survival. These things provide a sense of God moving us, feeding, and sustaining us. Isaiah connects this to a great spoil taking place and the lame פִּסְחִים בָּזְזוּ בַז taking the spoil. Here we note geographically, Jerusalem had no great rivers for shipping or for its defense. (i.e. like Babylon and Nineveh) When we trust in the Lord, we have greater defenses because the Lord God is faithful to His people. Isaiah concludes chapter 33 saying the people will recognize their illness in their sins and how the Lord God will forgive their iniquity. A major point here is how the people recognize their sins, the Lord God is the one who is helping this to be recognized. The text comparison the LXX and TgJ shows the following:
The LXX translates saying, 23 ἐρράγησαν τὰ σχοινία σου, ὅτι οὐκ ἐνίσχυσεν, ὁ ἱστός σου ἔκλινεν, οὐ χαλάσει τὰ ἱστία, οὐκ ἀρεῖ σημεῖον, ἕως οὗ παραδοθῇ εἰς προνομήν, τοίνυν πολλοὶ χωλοὶ προνομὴν ποιήσουσιν. 24 καὶ οὐ μὴ εἴπῃ Κοπιῶ ὁ λαὸς ὁ ἐνοικῶν ἐν αὐτοῖς, ἀφέθη γὰρ αὐτοῖς ἡ ἁμαρτία. 23 Your cords have broken because they did not grow strong; your mast bent over; it will not release the sails; it will not raise a signal until it is handed over for plunder. Accordingly, many who are lame will make plunder. 24 And surely the people who dwell in them shall not say, “I am weary,” for the sin has been forgiven them. (LES) The TgJ translates saying, בְעִדָנָא הַהוּא יִתַברוּן עַמְמַיָא מִתֻקפְהֹון וִיהֹון דָמַן לִספִינָא דְאִתפְסִיקוּ חַבלַהָא וְלֵית לַה תְקֹוף עַל תֻרנְהֹון דְאִתפְסֵיק וְלָא אִפשָר לְמִפרַס עְלֹוהִי קְלַע בְכֵין יְפַלְגוּן בֵית יִשרָאֵל נִכסֵי עַמְמַיָא סַגיוּת עְדַי וּבַז וְאַפִלוּ אִית בְהֹון עְוִירִין וַחְגִירִין אַף אִנוּן יְפַלְגוּן סַגיוּת עְדַי וּבַז׃ וְלָא יֵימְרוּן מִכְעַן לְעַמָא דְשָרַן לְרוּחצָן סְחֹור סְחֹור לִשכִינְתָא מִלְוָתְכֹון אְתָת עְלַנָא מַחַת מְרַע עַמָא בֵית יִשרָאֵל יִתכַנְשוּן וִיתוּבוּן לַאְרַעהֹון שְבִיק לְחֹובֵיהֹון׃ 23 At that time the people shall be bereft of their strength, and shall be like a ship, whose ropes are broken; neither shall there be strength in their mast, which is cut down, so that it is not possible to spread a sail upon it; then shall the house of Israel divide the treasures of the people, the abundance of spoil and prey; and although the blind and the lame are left among them, they also shall divide the abundance of spoil and prey. 24 Henceforth they shall not say to the people which dwell round about them, I shall return to the Shekinah. (From you is come upon us the evil plague.) The people, the house of Israel, shall be gathered together, and they shall return to their land, their sins being forgiven. (TgJ) The Targum parallels the ship to the people and how their strength is broken like when a ship’s mast is broken. A return to the Land is synonymous to their sins being forgiven. We note that one of the major issues Isaiah has been bringing up in chapters 7-33 is whether the people of Judah and Jerusalem will make God their king. We remember from Isaiah 13-33 the Lord God reveals how He is sovereign over the nations and so one should trust in the Lord and not in the surrounding nations. The mention of the forgiveness of sins draws us back to what Isaiah had said previously according to Isaiah 4:3-4.
4:3 And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, And he that remaineth in Jerusalem, Shall be called holy, Even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: 4:4 When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, And shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof By the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. (KJV וְהָיָ֣ה׀ הַנִּשְׁאָ֣ר בְּצִיֹּ֗ון וְהַנֹּותָר֙ בִּיר֣וּשָׁלִַ֔ם קָדֹ֖ושׁ יֵאָ֣מֶר לֹ֑ו כָּל־הַכָּת֥וּב לַחַיִּ֖ים בִּירוּשָׁלִָֽם׃ אִ֣ם׀ רָחַ֣ץ אֲדֹנָ֗י אֵ֚ת צֹאַ֣ת בְּנֹות־צִיֹּ֔ון וְאֶת־דְּמֵ֥י יְרוּשָׁלִַ֖ם יָדִ֣יחַ מִקִּרְבָּ֑הּ בְּר֥וּחַ מִשְׁפָּ֖ט וּבְר֥וּחַ בָּעֵֽר׃)
Here Isaiah speaks of the Lord God removing the filth of the people. This is of considerable importance for us today, to have our uncleanness removed, and to be purified, and our relationship with God restored through turning from sin and repentance. Ultimately what Isaiah is telling us is how it is possible to have a broken relationship with God because of sin. The final goal is that we become a forgiven people, and as a forgiven people we live our lives in keeping with the character of God. We need the Lord’s help to do this, to overcome sin, to live for Him in victory over sin, etc. This is the deeper need of Judah and Jerusalem, and this is also what we need today as well.
The Targum Jonathan is an Aramaic and Rabbinic translation of the book of Isaiah and therefore is a valuable resource for our continuing to study the book of Isaiah.
תרגום יונתן בן עוזיאל אל ישעיה פרק לג:יט-כד
יט יָת מַרוַת עַם תַקִיף לָא תֹוסֵיף לְמִחזֵי עַמָא דַהְוָה עַמִיק מַמלַלהֹון מִלְמִשמַע מְלַעְגִין בְלִישָנְהֹון מִדְלֵית בְהֹון סֻכלְתָנוּ׃ כ תִחזֵי בְמַפַלתְהֹון צִיֹון קִריַת זִמנַנָא עֵינָך יִחזְיָן בְנַחָמַת יְרוּשלַם בְאַצלָחוּתַה בִשלֵיוְתַה כְמַשכְנָא דְלָא מִתפָרַק וְלָא מִשתַלפָן סִיכֹוהִי לְעָלַם וְכָל אְטוּנֹוהִי לָא מִתפַסקִין׃ כא אְלָהֵין מִתַמָן תִתגְלֵי גְבוּרְתָא דיוי לְאֵיטָבָא לַנָא מֵאְתַר נָפְקִין נַהרִין שָטְפִין פַתיוּת יְדִין דְלָא תֵיזֵיל בֵיה סְפִינַת צַייָדִין וּבוּרנֵי רַבְתָא לָא תְגוּזִינֵיה׃ כב אְרֵי יוי דַיָינַנָא דְאַפְקַנָא בִגבוּרְתֵיה מִמִצרַיִם יוי מַלְפַנָא דִיהַב לַנָא אֻלפַן אֹורָיתֵיה מִסִינַי יוי מַלכַנָא הוּא יִפרְקִנַנָא וְיַעְבֵיד לַנָא פֹורעָנוּת דִין מִן מַשרְיָת גֹוג׃ כג בְעִדָנָא הַהוּא יִתַברוּן עַמְמַיָא מִתֻקפְהֹון וִיהֹון דָמַן לִספִינָא דְאִתפְסִיקוּ חַבלַהָא וְלֵית לַה תְקֹוף עַל תֻרנְהֹון דְאִתפְסֵיק וְלָא אִפשָר לְמִפרַס עְלֹוהִי קְלַע בְכֵין יְפַלְגוּן בֵית יִשרָאֵל נִכסֵי עַמְמַיָא סַגיוּת עְדַי וּבַז וְאַפִלוּ אִית בְהֹון עְוִירִין וַחְגִירִין אַף אִנוּן יְפַלְגוּן סַגיוּת עְדַי וּבַז׃ כד וְלָא יֵימְרוּן מִכְעַן לְעַמָא דְשָרַן >לְרוּחצָן< סְחֹור סְחֹור לִשכִינְתָא מִלְוָתְכֹון אְתָת עְלַנָא מַחַת מְרַע עַמָא בֵית יִשרָאֵל יִתכַנְשוּן וִיתוּבוּן לַאְרַעהֹון שְבִיק לְחֹובֵיהֹון׃
Targum Jonathan son of Uziel Isaiah 33:19-24
33:19 Thou shalt not be able to see the government of a mighty people, whose language is so unintelligible that thou canst not understand it, whose tongue stammereth, because there is no understanding in them. 33:20 O Zion, thou shalt see their fall; O city of our festivals, thine eyes shall see the consolation of Jerusalem in her prosperity and security, like a tabernacle that is not taken down, and whose pegs are not drawn out for ever, and whose cords shall not be broken. 33:21 Yea, surely from thence the power of the Lord shall be revealed, to do good unto us from the place whence overflowing rivers of broad span shall flow, through which shall not pass the fishermen’s boat, nor the large pinnace go through it. 33:22 For the Lord is our judge, who by His power brought us out of Egypt; the Lord, who is our teacher, who gave us the doctrine of the law from Sinai; the Lord is our king, He will redeem us, and execute for us vengeance of judgment on the host of Gog. 33:23 At that time the people shall be bereft of their strength, and shall be like a ship, whose ropes are broken; neither shall there be strength in their mast, which is cut down, so that it is not possible to spread a sail upon it; then shall the house of Israel divide the treasures of the people, the abundance of spoil and prey; and although the blind and the lame are left among them, they also shall divide the abundance of spoil and prey. 33:24 Henceforth they shall not say to the people which dwell round about them, I shall return to the Shekinah. (From you is come upon us the evil plague.) The people, the house of Israel, shall be gathered together, and they shall return to their land, their sins being forgiven. (TgJ)
The words of Isaiah according to the Targum on Isaiah 33:19 speaks of a people whose language is unintelligible. יט יָת מַרוַת עַם תַקִיף לָא תֹוסֵיף לְמִחזֵי עַמָא דַהְוָה עַמִיק מַמלַלהֹון מִלְמִשמַע מְלַעְגִין בְלִישָנְהֹון מִדְלֵית בְהֹון סֻכלְתָנוּ׃ 33:19 Thou shalt not be able to see the government of a mighty people, whose language is so unintelligible that thou canst not understand it, whose tongue stammereth, because there is no understanding in them. (TgJ) This reminds us of something that Paul spoke about in 1 Corinthians 14:2 when he wrote “For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.” (KJV) The unknown tongue is paralleled to speaking to God and not to men. This reminds us of Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 28:11 For with stammering lips and another tongue Will he speak to this people. (KJV) The idea here is that the unknown language is a spiritual language that God understands which is spoken by the Spirit of God which Paul calls a mystery, secrets, or hidden truths. Rashi interprets the strange tongue stating the following:
Rashi on Isaiah 33:19 Parts 1-4
את עם נועז. כמו לועז אלו אשור ובבל שאין לשונם לשון הקודש:
A people of a strange tongue (נוֹעָז) like לוֹעֵז. These are all the heathens, whose language is not the holy tongue. ([Other editions read:] These are Assyria and Babylon, whose language is not the holy tongue.) ([Manuscripts read:] These are all the nations whose language is not the holy tongue.)
לא תראה. לא תחשוב בלבך כי כולם יהיו חשכים ושפלים:
you shall not see You shall not esteem in your heart, for they shall all be dark and humble.
עמקו שפה. כמו ויהי כל הארץ שפה אחת (בראשית י״א:א׳):
speech… obscure (שָׂפָה, lit. lip.) Comp. (Gen. 11:1) “And all the land was one speech (שָׂפָה).”
נלעג לשון. עגלים, ועמקי שפה (לעיל כג) כל זה לשון נכרית שאינן מכירין בלשון הקודש:
of stammering tongue (נִלְעָג לָשׁוֹן). Comp. (32:4) “The tongue of the stammerers (לְשׁוֹן עִלְּגִים),” (and of obscure speech. All this is a foreign language, for they do not understand the holy tongue.)
Here Rashi describes the people of strange tongue as the heathen who do not know the holy language (Hebrew). The people who have an unknown tongue are the Assyrian and the Babylonian. Rashi’s interpretation is that all of the nations that do not speak the holy language (Hebrew) are considered a people of a strange tongue. Again this connects the language to communicating with God. The Hebrew language is paralleled to holiness, righteousness, justice, and truth, having a heart that has the right intention, a heart filled with light and not darkness. In Rashi’s interpretation, the foreigner does not understand the holy tongue, and consequently he or she does not hear from God. This parallels what we read in the Torah concerning the nations, the Lord God commands us to not serve Him in the way that the nations serve their gods, etc. (Devarim / Deuteronomy 12:31)
ספר דברים פרק יב
ל הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ פֶּן-תִּנָּקֵשׁ אַחֲרֵיהֶם אַחֲרֵי הִשָּׁמְדָם מִפָּנֶיךָ וּפֶן-תִּדְרשׁ לֵאלֹהֵיהֶם לֵאמֹר אֵיכָה יַעַבְדוּ הַגּוֹיִם הָאֵלֶּה אֶת-אֱלֹהֵיהֶם וְאֶעֱשֶֹה-כֵּן גַּם-אָנִי: לא לֹא-תַעֲשֶֹה כֵן לַיהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ כִּי כָל-תּוֹעֲבַת יְהֹוָה אֲשֶׁר שָֹנֵא עָשֹוּ לֵאלֹהֵיהֶם כִּי גַם אֶת-בְּנֵיהֶם וְאֶת-בְּנֹתֵיהֶם יִשְֹרְפוּ בָאֵשׁ לֵאלֹהֵיהֶם:
ספר דברים פרק יג
א אֵת כָּל-הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם אֹתוֹ תִשְׁמְרוּ לַעֲשֹוֹת לֹא-תֹסֵף עָלָיו וְלֹא תִגְרַע מִמֶּנּוּ:
Devarim / Deuteronomy 12:30–32
12:30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. 12:31 Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. 12:32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. (KJV)
Here the Lord God warns concerning the ways of the nations. We note that this is what Paul was referring to in Ephesians 2:14-16 when he spoke of Yeshua abolishing the enmity between Jew and Gentile.
2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 2:16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: (KJV 14 Αὐτὸς γάρ ἐστιν ἡ εἰρήνη ἡμῶν,* ὁ ποιήσας τὰ ἀμφότερα ἓν καὶ τὸ μεσότοιχον τοῦ φραγμοῦ λύσας,* τὴν ἔχθραν ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ,* 15 τὸν νόμον τῶν ἐντολῶν ⸋ἐν δόγμασιν⸌ καταργήσας,* ἵνα τοὺς δύο κτίσῃ ἐν ⸀αὐτῷ εἰς ἕνα ⸁καινὸν ἄνθρωπον ποιῶν εἰρήνην 16 καὶ ἀποκαταλλάξῃ τοὺς ἀμφοτέρους ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι τῷ θεῷ διὰ τοῦ σταυροῦ,* ἀποκτείνας τὴν ἔχθραν ἐν ⸀αὐτῷ.*)
We note how the Torah command concerning the nations, the Lord God warned us to stay away from the way in which the nations served their gods, and to not even mention their gods etc. This led to a division between Israel and the neighboring nations. This created an enmity between Jew and Gentile. What Yeshua did, by faith, the gentile leaves their pagan ways, and turns from their gods, repents of their sins, and turns to God’s holy and righteous ways, forsaking their former ways, and enter into a covenant relationship with God and into the family of God. So essentially by faith in Yeshua, the Gentile becomes a brother or sister to the Jew through faith. This is the mechanism for how Yeshua broke down the wall of partition. Paul was not saying that the commands are passed away! The reason being these commands in Devarim / Deuteronomy 12:30-32 are still binding upon us today! We do not serve the God of Israel in the way the nations serve their gods! We do not inquire how the nations served their gods, and we do not cause our sons and daughters to pass through the fire like they did to their gods. All of these things are an abomination to God just as the Torah states and continue to be binding for us today as well! What we see here is how Paul is teaching the Torah to the gentiles from the sense of their entering into the kingdom of God through faith and Teshuvah.
Isaiah goes on saying according to the Targum, כ תִחזֵי בְמַפַלתְהֹון צִיֹון קִריַת זִמנַנָא עֵינָך יִחזְיָן בְנַחָמַת יְרוּשלַם בְאַצלָחוּתַה בִשלֵיוְתַה כְמַשכְנָא דְלָא מִתפָרַק וְלָא מִשתַלפָן סִיכֹוהִי לְעָלַם וְכָל אְטוּנֹוהִי לָא מִתפַסקִין׃ 33:20 O Zion, thou shalt see their fall; O city of our festivals, thine eyes shall see the consolation of Jerusalem in her prosperity and security, like a tabernacle that is not taken down, and whose pegs are not drawn out for ever, and whose cords shall not be broken. כא אְלָהֵין מִתַמָן תִתגְלֵי גְבוּרְתָא דיוי לְאֵיטָבָא לַנָא מֵאְתַר נָפְקִין נַהרִין שָטְפִין פַתיוּת יְדִין דְלָא תֵיזֵיל בֵיה סְפִינַת צַייָדִין וּבוּרנֵי רַבְתָא לָא תְגוּזִינֵיה׃ 33:21 Yea, surely from thence the power of the Lord shall be revealed, to do good unto us from the place whence overflowing rivers of broad span shall flow, through which shall not pass the fishermen’s boat, nor the large pinnace go through it. (TgJ) Here we read the promise of restoration, seeing the destruction of evil people, and watching how God sustains the holy city of Jerusalem. We are told according to the prophet Joel, “But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel” (Joel 3:16). The people of God, who persevere in living godly lives, enjoy God’s fatherly compassion and patience. (Joel 2:13) The whole point is that the mercy and grace of God is meant for our repentance and turning from sin. Joel as well as the NT text calls us to be whole heartedly loyal to our Father in heaven (Joel 2:13). When tragedy and disappointment come, these are meant to cause us to reevaluate our lives. It is through this that the Lord God renews the invitation to trust in Him, repent of our sins, and turn from our wicked ways. Then the question is whether we are willing to commit our lives to the Lord or remain committed to the path of sin and destruction? These promises of God here in Isaiah call us to a deeper devotion in light of future events, that we seek the Lord God in His Word, and look for His deliverance and salvation that are coupled to a newness of life that He promises to those who are faithful. This newness of life includes overcoming sin and living in victory for the glory of God! Rashi interprets these verses in the following way:
Rashi on Isaiah 33:21 Parts 1-3
כי אם שם. כי אם מוסב על בל יסע יתדותיו ועל בל ינתקו, הרעה לא תהיה כי אם הטובה ה’ יהיה שם אדיר לנו והעיר תהיה מקום נהרים יאורים כענין שנא’ (ביחזקאל ד) וימד אלף ויעבירני נחל אשר לא אוכל לעבור וכן ניבא יואל ומעין מבית ה’ יצא (יואל ד יח) והוא הנחל שיהא מתגבר והולך:
But there ‘But’ refers back to ‘whose pegs shall never be moved,’ and ‘shall not be torn.’ The evil shall not be, only the good. There the Lord shall be mighty for us, and the city shall be a place of rivers and streams, in the manner it is said in Ezekiel (47:4f.): “And He measured a thousand (cubits), and He led me…a stream that I could not cross.” And so did Joel prophesy (4:18) “And a spring shall emanate from the house of the Lord,” that it shall become progressively stronger.
אני שיט. אניה השטה במים:
a galley with oars a ship that floats on the water.
וצי אדיר. ובורני רבתא:
and a great ship (וְצִי אַדִּיר) and a great ship [from Jonathan].
Rashi interprets these verses as referring to a permanent tent whose pegs are not moved and how evil will pass away and only good will remain. This is how the Lord God works in the lives of His people, and again this should be a means for self inspection, taking God’s Word as a plumbline for our lives, and determining whether we are being faithful in our walk before him. Isaiah goes on saying, כב אְרֵי יוי דַיָינַנָא דְאַפְקַנָא בִגבוּרְתֵיה מִמִצרַיִם יוי מַלְפַנָא דִיהַב לַנָא אֻלפַן אֹורָיתֵיה מִסִינַי יוי מַלכַנָא הוּא יִפרְקִנַנָא וְיַעְבֵיד לַנָא פֹורעָנוּת דִין מִן מַשרְיָת גֹוג׃ 33:22 For the Lord is our judge, who by His power brought us out of Egypt; the Lord, who is our teacher, who gave us the doctrine of the law from Sinai; the Lord is our king, He will redeem us, and execute for us vengeance of judgment on the host of Gog. (TgJ) The TgJ draws our attention back to the Torah which was given for doctrine and guidance in life. The point is that God’s Torah is a valid instrument for discerning the truth today for our lives. The Torah does not simply function as a relic of ancient days. The Lord God Almighty does not make one thing up today and make up something contradictory up tomorrow. The Word of God does not work like this. Isaiah says that God’s word stands forever (Isaiah 40:8). The Word of God is eternal, and this is because it is the standard for righteousness and truth! The Torah commands do not change. This is how Jewish Midrash interprets these things saying the following:
Mei HaShiloach, Volume I, Deuteronomy, Shoftim 5
“Judges and officers shall you appoint for yourselves in all your gates .…” (Devarim, 16:18)
This is as it is written (Yeshayahu, 33:22), “God is our judge, God is our lawgiver, God is our king, He will redeem us.” “God is our judge,” this is what God illuminates man’s intellect to understand which path would most benefit him to follow. Even though at the beginning his heart is not drawn after God’s will, anyhow God shines His light into him and he will understand in his intellect, and this is “God is our judge.” “God is our lawgiver” means that God carves the desire into the heart of man. Then he begins to ask for advice on how to conduct himself according to the Torah, for he understands that there is no other path before him, even seeing that in this world no path would benefit him save the way of the Torah. “God is our king” means that God conducts the will of man according to His will, may it be blessed, even without man realizing it. When one first enters into the Torah it seems to him that he does so in order to attain an understanding of the sublime. Then afterwards he realizes that without the Torah he may not even reconcile the most simple matters. “He will redeem us,” means that in the end God will show man that all the ways He dealt with him were only for his good. He shows him that man did not remove himself from God’s will even when he acted without thinking, for God will immediately rule over all the powers that are not in the control of man, like sight and hearing. On this it is said (Bamidbar, 23:22), “He has the power of the horned beast,” meaning, God alone will control the powers that are beyond the control of man.
Here the Midrash draws us back to the Torah for the purpose of pointing out how we need to appoint judges and officers in the land that we live so that there is justice amongst the people. The reason being is that God is our judge and lawgiver. The Midrash speaks of the Lord God conducting the will of man according to His will, without man even realizing it. This is a significant point. We have read in Isaiah how the Lord God uses wicked nations for His purposes. This is where this concept comes from of the Lord God dealing with man. We notice how the Midrash is consistent with what Paul wrote according to Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. (KJV) the Midrash says the same thing, “God will show man that all the ways He dealt with him were only for his good.” According to Devarim / Deuteronomy 30:12-13 we read “It is not in the heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us and fetch it for us’ … Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us and fetch it for us.’” The point of these words that Moshe is giving us is for a challenge. The question is “What is the Torah to you?” Is it simply an interesting book and a good read, or is it the word of God that binds us? When one reads through the Torah and learns about the Dietary Laws, does one walk away thinking about the changes that one needs to make in his or her life to diet, or does one simply tell others (spouse and friends) of the interesting ways in which the ancient people ate? Does the Torah have relevance for our lives today? The question boils down to whether God’s word is simply an ancient book for a vanishing people, or is it alive and well in you? If God’s Word is not alive and well in us, whose task is it to keep it alive in us? If it is not our task, then whose task is it? And if it is not our job to keep God’s word alive in our lives, then whose job is it? These are all very good questions! These verses from Devarim / Deuteronomy 30:12-13 are found at the end of the Torah for a purpose, because they are meant to challenge us, that God’s Word is not irrelevant and abstract. It is specific and to the point as a way of life for God’s people, and we don’t have to cross oceans or distant parts of the world, or even reach up to heaven to get hold of it! This is the significance of God’s word, for justice and truth, and the point why the Midrash emphasizes appointing judges and officers according to His Word. Midrash Rabbah goes on to say the following:
Devarim Rabbah 5:11
Alternatively: (Deuteronomy 17:14) “And you will say, ‘I will appoint for me a king…” – Our rabbis said: Said the Holy One, blessed be He, “You want kings in this world. Jewish kings will be appointed, and they will make you fall by the sword.” Shaul caused them to fall at Mt. HaGilboa. How do we know? (I Samuel 4:17) “And Israel fled from before the Philistines…” David caused a plague to be sent, as it says, (II Samuel 24:15) “And God sent a pestilence to Israel…” Achav stopped up the rains from them, as it says (I Kings 17:1) “…there shall not be dew nor rain these years…” Tzidkiyahu caused the destruction of the Holy Temple. Once Israel saw what happens under the rule of their kings, they all began to cry out, “We don’t want a king of Israel! We want our first King: (Isaiah 33:22) “For God is our judge, God is our law-giver, God is our king, He will save us!” The Holy One, blessed be He, said to them, “By your lives, thus will I do.” How do we know? As it says, (Zachariah 14:9) “And God will be the king over all the earth…”
The point Midrash Rabbah is making is how God is our king. Even the most righteous of kings, David, caused a plague to come upon Israel because of his sins before God. These things summarize the reasons why we look to God in heaven as our king, and make Him king of our lives through obedience to His Word. Again this emphasizes the importance of God’s word for our lives, and seeking the God of Israel and His Messiah Yeshua through the Word of God.
Rashi goes on saying, כג בְעִדָנָא הַהוּא יִתַברוּן עַמְמַיָא מִתֻקפְהֹון וִיהֹון דָמַן לִספִינָא דְאִתפְסִיקוּ חַבלַהָא וְלֵית לַה תְקֹוף עַל תֻרנְהֹון דְאִתפְסֵיק וְלָא אִפשָר לְמִפרַס עְלֹוהִי קְלַע בְכֵין יְפַלְגוּן בֵית יִשרָאֵל נִכסֵי עַמְמַיָא סַגיוּת עְדַי וּבַז וְאַפִלוּ אִית בְהֹון עְוִירִין וַחְגִירִין אַף אִנוּן יְפַלְגוּן סַגיוּת עְדַי וּבַז׃ 33:23 At that time the people shall be bereft of their strength, and shall be like a ship, whose ropes are broken; neither shall there be strength in their mast, which is cut down, so that it is not possible to spread a sail upon it; then shall the house of Israel divide the treasures of the people, the abundance of spoil and prey; and although the blind and the lame are left among them, they also shall divide the abundance of spoil and prey. כד וְלָא יֵימְרוּן מִכְעַן לְעַמָא דְשָרַן >לְרוּחצָן< סְחֹור סְחֹור לִשכִינְתָא מִלְוָתְכֹון אְתָת עְלַנָא מַחַת מְרַע עַמָא בֵית יִשרָאֵל יִתכַנְשוּן וִיתוּבוּן לַאְרַעהֹון שְבִיק לְחֹובֵיהֹון׃33:24 Henceforth they shall not say to the people which dwell round about them, I shall return to the Shekinah. (From you is come upon us the evil plague.) The people, the house of Israel, shall be gathered together, and they shall return to their land, their sins being forgiven. (TgJ) Here we read about the outcome of sin in one’s life, and on a national scale to the point of exile to Babylon. When we repent and return to the Lord, there is the forgiveness of sins! Here the ship, who has its ropes broken and their mast cut down, suggests how it would be in vain to attempt to spread a sail. The description is that the Assyrian army would become useless, like a vessel at sea without sails. This is the work of God in the lives of those who reject Him and His holy ways. It is interesting to note the fulfillment of this prophecy. According to 2 Kings 18:14-16 we read how Hezekiah had given to Sennacherib three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold, he even stripped the temple and gave the gold that was overlaid on the temple to Assyria. Here Isaiah 22:23 states that the house of Israel will divide the treasures of the people. So the treasures of Hezekiah were replenished and so much so that he made a great display of his wealth to the Babylonian diplomats who had come to spy out the land according to 2 Kings 20:13-15. This means that the spoils of the camp of the Assyrian led to a great amount of wealth to the king and to the people. Rashi interprets these verses saying the following:
Rashi on Isaiah 33:23 Parts 1-7
נטשו חבליך. המושכים את הספינה את רומי החייבת:
Your ropes that draw the ship, you sinful city. ([Mss. yield:] you, sinful Rome.)
כן. הכן היטב:
properly prepared well.
תרנם. תורן הספינה:
a sail Heb. נס, the sail of a ship.
בל פרשו נס. לא יוכלו לפרוס וילון המנהיג את הספינה:
they did not spread out a sail They will not be able to spread the sail that guides the boat.
אז חולק עד שלל. עדאה:
then plunder [and] booty were divided (עד) related to עֲדָאָה, plunder, in Aramaic.
מרבה. הרבה יחלקו שלל סנחריב:
by many Many will divide the plunder of the heathens. ([Mss. yield:] the plunder of Edom.) ([Others:] the nations.) ([Still others:] Sennacherib.)
פסחים. (ישראל) שהיו עד עכשיו חלשים:
lame Israel, who were weak until now.
Here Rashi reiterates these verses, the sails being broken and the division of the plunder, Israel was weak and now is strong, all of these things being due to the Lord their God in heaven. The concept that is drawn in here is that of the people being forgiven their sins. The national judgment that was pronounced upon them would be removed due to their repenting and turning from sin. This reminds us of what is written in the book of Hebrews 8:9-13.
8:9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 8:11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. 8:13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. (KJV μεμφόμενος γὰρ αὐτοὺς λέγει· ἰδοὺ ἡμέραι ἔρχονται, λέγει κύριος, καὶ συντελέσω ἐπὶ τὸν οἶκον Ἰσραὴλ καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν οἶκον Ἰούδα διαθήκην καινήν, οὐ κατὰ τὴν διαθήκην, ἣν ἐποίησα τοῖς πατράσιν αὐτῶν ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ἐπιλαβομένου μου τῆς χειρὸς αὐτῶν ἐξαγαγεῖν αὐτοὺς ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου, ὅτι αὐτοὶ οὐκ ἐνέμειναν ἐν τῇ διαθήκῃ μου, κἀγὼ ἠμέλησα αὐτῶν, λέγει κύριος· ὅτι αὕτη ἡ διαθήκη , ἣν διαθήσομαι τῷ οἴκῳ Ἰσραὴλ μετὰ τὰς ἡμέρας ἐκείνας, λέγει κύριος· διδοὺς νόμους μου εἰς τὴν διάνοιαν αὐτῶν καὶ ἐπὶ καρδίας αὐτῶν ἐπιγράψω αὐτούς, καὶ ἔσομαι αὐτοῖς εἰς θεόν, καὶ αὐτοὶ ἔσονταί μοι εἰς λαόν· καὶ οὐ μὴ διδάξωσιν ἕκαστος τὸν πολίτην αὐτοῦ καὶ ἕκαστος τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ λέγων· γνῶθι τὸν κύριον, ὅτι πάντες εἰδήσουσίν με ἀπὸ μικροῦ ἕως μεγάλου αὐτῶν, ὅτι ἵλεως ἔσομαι ταῖς ἀδικίαις αὐτῶν καὶ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν οὐ μὴ μνησθῶ ἔτι. ἐν τῷ λέγειν καινὴν πεπαλαίωκεν τὴν πρώτην· τὸ δὲ παλαιούμενον καὶ γηράσκον ἐγγὺς ἀφανισμοῦ.)
Something to note is the Torah context here, how God delivered the people from Egypt, but they did not continue in the covenant agreement with God. So the Lord God makes a new covenant in which He puts His commands into the hearts of the people. He says that he will be merciful to their unrighteousness (Hebrews 8:12) and he will not remember their iniquity and sin, and that the first covenant is made old because of the new covenant. So we note something here, the author of the book of Hebrews states that the commands of God will be written upon the hearts of the people. Then says that the old covenant is about to pass or vanish away. The interesting thing is that the author of the book of Hebrews is not saying that the Torah is passing or vanishing away. The reason being the commands of God are being written upon the hearts of the people. The Torah consists of the commands of God. What exactly is the author of the book of Hebrews trying to say? He is speaking of the pardoning of sins and the intention of God’s people, in their hearts has the Lord God Almighty placed “Kavanah” to remember the commands of God, to live their lives bearing the testimony of God! The idea of being shown mercy in the midst of unrighteousness (Hebrews 8:12) the author of Hebrews is speaking of grace that leads to obedience. This is what Yeshua meant when he said “if you love me obey my commands” (John 14:15) and how God connects love and obedience in the Ten Commandments according to Shemot / Exodus 20:6. Isaiah speaks of the great mercy and grace of God to bring back the wealth of Israel through the plunder of the enemy. We are told according to the NT text that Yeshua won our victory and restored to us our authority as men of God, and brought us great treasures in heaven. This was Paul’s message in 1 Corinthians 15:57 speaking of the victory that we have in the Messiah of God. These things remind us of the importance of believing in Yeshua and of our being healed of the sickness in our souls from sin and death. The Lord God Almighty our Father in heaven does these things on our behalf because of the work of the Messiah. And so as Isaiah and Paul wrote here, we are to be of good cheer because our iniquity and sin have been forgiven! We have little reason to complain, for great and powerful is the God that we serve and to the Messiah Yeshua who overcame this world and showed us the way to bring glory to God through faith and obedience to God’s holy Word!