Table of Contents
Introduction to Isaiah 38:11-16
In Isaiah 38:1-22 we read how life is fleeting, there is a certain amount of uncertainty in regard to life and death. At any moment there is the possibility of death, whether one is traveling down the highway or locally, an accident may lead to death, or as one gets older there is the chance of having health related illnesses which lead to death. The point is in relation to what Hezekiah is saying here in Isaiah 38:10 פֻּקַּ֖דְתִּי יֶ֥תֶר שְׁנוֹתָֽי׃ “I inspect/look at/see the remainder of my years” this provides us with the context of how Isaiah saw the end of life scenario, where suddenly he is faced with his life, how he lived, and all of his achievements are for nothing when it comes to his finding himself at the end of his life without any kind of control to stop what is coming, death. We note how death draws perspective on our lives, what we have done, what we are presently doing, and then our eternal destiny. This is why the biblical imperative is so important to live repentant lives, to turn from sin and seek the God of Israel and His Messiah Yeshua! Life is fleeting and the Scriptures describe these aspects of life quite often, as shown in the following list of verses.
Bible Verses Describe Life and its Fleetiness in Relation to Death
- Tehillim / Psalm 90:10: “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.”
- Tehillim / Psalm 103:15-16: “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.”
- Job 14:1-2: “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not.”
- Ecclesiastes 12:7: “And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”
- James 4:14: “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”
These verses remind us that life is short and uncertain, and that we should not take life for granted. The Bible has many verses that talk about life and death. One of the verses that talks about life is Devarim / Deuteronomy 30:19 which states יט הַעִדֹתִי בָכֶם הַיּוֹם אֶת-הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת-הָאָרֶץ הַחַיִּים וְהַמָּוֶת נָתַתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ הַבְּרָכָה וְהַקְּלָלָה וּבָחַרְתָּ בַּחַיִּים לְמַעַן תִּחְיֶה אַתָּה וְזַרְעֶךָ: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So, choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.” Here Moshe speaks to the importance of accepting God’s Word, His commands, into our lives and making them a part of our lives, and the decision by what we do with this results in either life or death. If we turn from God’s word and from His commands, this results in death. If we embrace his word and his commands, this results in life! Did you know that Paul taught the Torah in this very same way according to the book of Romans 2:3-9.
2:3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 2:6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 2:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 2:8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 2:9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; (KJV 3 ⸂λογίζῃ δὲ τοῦτο, ὦ ἄνθρωπε ὁ κρίνων τοὺς τὰ τοιαῦτα πράσσοντας⸃ καὶ ποιῶν αὐτά, ὅτι σὺ ἐκφεύξῃ τὸ κρίμα τοῦ θεοῦ*; 4 ἢ τοῦ πλούτου τῆς χρηστότητος αὐτοῦ καὶ τῆς ἀνοχῆς καὶ τῆς μακροθυμίας καταφρονεῖς*, ἀγνοῶν ὅτι τὸ χρηστὸν τοῦ θεοῦ εἰς μετάνοιάν ⸂σε ἄγει⸃*; 5 κατὰ δὲ τὴν σκληρότητά σου καὶ ἀμετανόητον* καρδίαν θησαυρίζεις σεαυτῷ ὀργὴν ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ὀργῆς καὶ ⸀ἀποκαλύψεως ⸆ δικαιοκρισίας τοῦ θεοῦ* 6 ὃς ἀποδώσει ἑκάστῳ κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ·* 7 τοῖς μὲν καθʼ ὑπομονὴν ἔργου ἀγαθοῦ δόξαν καὶ τιμὴν καὶ ἀφθαρσίαν ζητοῦσιν ζωὴν αἰώνιον*, 8 τοῖς δὲ ἐξ ἐριθείας καὶ ἀπειθοῦσιν ⸆ τῇ ἀληθείᾳ πειθομένοις δὲ τῇ ἀδικίᾳ ὀργὴ καὶ θυμός*. 9 θλῖψις καὶ στενοχωρία ἐπὶ πᾶσαν ψυχὴν ἀνθρώπου τοῦ κατεργαζομένου τὸ κακόν, Ἰουδαίου τε πρῶτον καὶ Ἕλληνος·*)
Here Paul is discussing the idea of judging others while doing the same or being guilty of the same sins. He goes on speaking of the hard heartedness or unrepentance that leads to storing up wrath against oneself. Note how Paul says that God’s mercy, His goodness, and His mercy and long suffering are meant to lead us to repentance, that we recognize these things and repent and turn from our sins. Then He says that the Lord God will “render to each man according to his deeds” (Romans 2:6) and this is exactly what Moshe is saying in Devarim / Deuteronomy 30:19 in relation to the commands and life and death. Romans 2:7 speaks to what Moshe says as well, how “well doing” leads to immortality and eternal life, because we are seeking to do so for the glory of God, and not for our own glory. Righteousness has a life preserving property whereas wickedness has a contamination or dirtying property. When we consider these things today, there are huge implications for those who say that the Torah has passed away in Messiah, as opposed to those who teach that the Torah is “established” in the Messiah just as Paul wrote in Romans 3:31! When we are young life’s fleetiness is not considered as deeply as when one gets older and reflects upon his or her life. Reading through the Scriptures helps us to focus our attention on the importance of the hope of eternal life that God offers through faith in Yeshua who died and rose again conquering death. Yeshua said in John 11:25-26: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” Here Yeshua was encouraging his disciples to believe in him because he had faithfully represented everything God wanted them to know about life, about walking according to God’s holy and righteous ways, and about knowing the God of Israel. The kind of faith and trust that Yeshua had is the type of trust and faith that God desires of us. This is why Paul speaks of the Torah guiding and directing us to the Messiah. Yeshua leads us in God’s holy ways as he calls for us to follow in his footsteps. We note that hope of salvation that God provides for us, and it is these things that Hezekiah is reminding us of in his mortality and psalm following having been healed by God! Yeshua taught us by believing in God’s Messiah, we believe in the One who sent him! And it is by faith that we become the children of God and enter into the family of God and into His kingdom! These are eternal truths that we read according to the Bible, and the hope that we have in the God of Israel and His Messiah!
MSS (Masoretic Text) on Isaiah 38:11-16
Isaiah goes on saying the following according to Isaiah 38:11-12.
ספר ישעיה פרק לח
יא אָמַרְתִּי לֹא-אֶרְאֶה יָהּ יָהּ בְּאֶרֶץ הַחַיִּים לֹא-אַבִּיט אָדָם עוֹד עִם-יוֹשְׁבֵי חָדֶל: יב דּוֹרִי נִסַּע וְנִגְלָה מִנִּי כְּאֹהֶל רֹעִי קִפַּדְתִּי כָאֹרֵג חַיַּי מִדַּלָּה יְבַצְּעֵנִי מִיּוֹם עַד-לַיְלָה תַּשְׁלִימֵנִי:
Isaiah 38:11 states, “I said, I shall not see the LORD, even the LORD, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world. (אָמַרְתִּי לֹא-אֶרְאֶה יָהּ יָהּ בְּאֶרֶץ הַחַיִּים לֹא-אַבִּיט אָדָם עוֹד עִם-יוֹשְׁבֵי חָדֶל)” Isaiah 38:12 “Mine age is departed, and is removed from me as a shepherd’s tent: I have cut off like a weaver my life: he will cut me off with pining sickness: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me. (דּוֹרִי נִסַּע וְנִגְלָה מִנִּי כְּאֹהֶל רֹעִי קִפַּדְתִּי כָאֹרֵג חַיַּי מִדַּלָּה יְבַצְּעֵנִי מִיּוֹם עַד-לַיְלָה תַּשְׁלִימֵנִי)” Here Hezekiah speaks of not being able to see the Lord in the land of the living. This reminds us of what we read in the Torah according to Shemot / Exodus 33:20.
ספר שמות פרק לג
יח וַיֹּאמַר הַרְאֵנִי נָא אֶת-כְּבֹדֶךָ: יט וַיֹּאמֶר אֲנִי אַעֲבִיר כָּל-טוּבִי עַל-פָּנֶיךָ וְקָרָאתִי בְשֵׁם יְהוָֹה לְפָנֶיךָ וְחַנֹּתִי אֶת-אֲשֶׁר אָחֹן וְרִחַמְתִּי אֶת-אֲשֶׁר אֲרַחֵם: כ וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא תוּכַל לִרְאֹת אֶת-פָּנָי כִּי לֹא-יִרְאַנִי הָאָדָם וָחָי: כא וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה הִנֵּה מָקוֹם אִתִּי וְנִצַּבְתָּ עַל-הַצּוּר: כב וְהָיָה בַּעֲבֹר כְּבֹדִי וְשַֹמְתִּיךָ בְּנִקְרַת הַצּוּר וְשַֹכֹּתִי כַפִּי עָלֶיךָ עַד-עָבְרִי: כג וַהֲסִרֹתִי אֶת-כַּפִּי וְרָאִיתָ אֶת-אֲחֹרָי וּפָנַי לֹא יֵרָאוּ:
Shemot / Exodus 33:18–23
33:18 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. 33:19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. 33:20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. 33:21 And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: 33:22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: 33:23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen. (KJV)
These Scriptures are from the Torah Portion Ki Tisa (Shemot / Exodus 30:11–34:35) contain the sin of Israel before the mountain of Sinai when Moshe had ascended the mountain for a very long time the people built for themselves an idol to worship as their god and Moshe had gone back up on the mountain to seek forgiveness from God in heaven. Moshe learns that a man in this life, no matter how righteous he may be, cannot see the face of God and continue to live in this world. It seems that Hezekiah remembered Parashat Ki Tisa when he was making these statements of not seeing the face of God in the land of the living. He knew that he was about to see God as he was going to die. When Hezekiah states לֹא-אַבִּיט אָדָם עוֹד עִם-יוֹשְׁבֵי חָדֶל “I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world” he also recognized that we are made for this world, we were made to be alive, to live for the Lord God in heaven, and to live for others here on earth with a servant attitude. We note how these things are consistent with other places in the Scriptures in regard to our being created for life and not death, to have fellowship and not separation. A couple examples are from 1 John 1:3 and Tehillim / Psalms 84:1-12.
1 John 1:3
1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (KJV 3 πάντα διʼ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο,* καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο ⸂οὐδὲ ἕν⸃˸. ὃ γέγονεν˸)
Tehillim / Psalm 84:1–12
84:1 How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts! 84:2 My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. 84:3 Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, Even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God. 84:4 Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: They will be still praising thee. Selah. 84:5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; In whose heart are the ways of them. 84:6 Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; The rain also filleth the pools. 84:7 They go from strength to strength, Every one of them in Zion appeareth before God. 84:8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: Give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah. 84:9 Behold, O God our shield, And look upon the face of thine anointed. 84:10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, Than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: The LORD will give grace and glory: No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. 84:12 O LORD of hosts, Blessed is the man that trusteth in thee. (KJV לַמְנַצֵּ֥חַ עַֽל־הַגִּתִּ֑ית לִבְנֵי־קֹ֥רַח מִזְמֽוֹר׃ מַה־יְּדִיד֥וֹת מִשְׁכְּנוֹתֶ֗יךָ יְהוָ֥ה צְבָאֽוֹת׃ נִכְסְפָ֬ה וְגַם־כָּלְתָ֨ה׀ נַפְשִׁי֮ לְחַצְר֪וֹת יְה֫וָ֥ה לִבִּ֥י וּבְשָׂרִ֑י יְ֝רַנְּנ֗וּ אֶ֣ל אֵֽל־חָֽי׃ גַּם־צִפּ֨וֹר׀ מָ֪צְאָה בַ֡יִת וּדְר֤וֹר׀ קֵ֥ן לָהּ֮ אֲשֶׁר־שָׁ֪תָה אֶפְרֹ֫חֶ֥יהָ אֶֽת־מִ֭זְבְּחוֹתֶיךָ יְהוָ֣ה צְבָא֑וֹת מַ֝לְכִּ֗י וֵאלֹהָֽי׃ אַ֭שְׁרֵי יוֹשְׁבֵ֣י בֵיתֶ֑ךָ ע֝֗וֹד יְֽהַלְל֥וּךָ סֶּֽלָה׃ אַשְׁרֵ֣י אָ֭דָם עֽוֹז־ל֥וֹ בָ֑ךְ מְ֝סִלּ֗וֹת בִּלְבָבָֽם׃ עֹבְרֵ֤י׀ בְּעֵ֣מֶק הַ֭בָּכָא מַעְיָ֣ן יְשִׁית֑וּהוּ גַּם־בְּ֝רָכ֗וֹת יַעְטֶ֥ה מוֹרֶֽה׃ יֵ֭לְכוּ מֵחַ֣יִל אֶל־חָ֑יִל יֵרָאֶ֖ה אֶל־אֱלֹהִ֣ים בְּצִיּֽוֹן׃ יְה֘וָ֤ה אֱלֹהִ֣ים צְ֭בָאוֹת שִׁמְעָ֣ה תְפִלָּתִ֑י הַאֲזִ֨ינָה אֱלֹהֵ֖י יַעֲקֹ֣ב סֶֽלָה׃ מָ֭גִנֵּנוּ רְאֵ֣ה אֱלֹהִ֑ים וְ֝הַבֵּ֗ט פְּנֵ֣י מְשִׁיחֶֽךָ׃ כִּ֤י טֽוֹב־י֥וֹם בַּחֲצֵרֶ֗יךָ מֵ֫אָ֥לֶף בָּחַ֗רְתִּי הִ֭סְתּוֹפֵף בְּבֵ֣ית אֱלֹהַ֑י מִ֝דּ֗וּר בְּאָהֳלֵי־רֶֽשַׁע׃ כִּ֤י שֶׁ֨מֶשׁ׀ וּמָגֵן֮ יְהוָ֪ה אֱלֹ֫הִ֥ים חֵ֣ן וְ֭כָבוֹד יִתֵּ֣ן יְהוָ֑ה לֹ֥א יִמְנַע־ט֝֗וֹב לַֽהֹלְכִ֥ים בְּתָמִֽים׃ יְהוָ֥ה צְבָא֑וֹת אַֽשְׁרֵ֥י אָ֝דָ֗ם בֹּטֵ֥חַ בָּֽךְ׃)
What we note here about 1 John 1:3 is that here we find a first century interpretation of these things, that we are made for truth and life, for fellowship with one another and with God and His Son Yeshua. The Psalmist explains that we are made for righteousness and not wickedness. We are made to walk in the counsel of God, to dwell in His gates, to stand at the foot of His throne to serve, have fellowship, and worship Him! The psalmist states that God is our shield, and he gives grace to us (Tehillim / Psalms 84:11). In Isaiah 38:12 Hezekiah says דּוֹרִי נִסַּע וְנִגְלָה מִנִּי כְּאֹהֶל רֹעִי קִפַּדְתִּי כָאֹרֵג חַיַּי מִדַּלָּה יְבַצְּעֵנִי מִיּוֹם עַד-לַיְלָה תַּשְׁלִימֵנִי “Mine age is departed and is removed from me as a shepherd’s tent: I have cut off like a weaver my life: he will cut me off with pining sickness: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me.” He speaks of two things, the tent of a shepherd and being cut off by a weaver which is a reference to the plant (i.e. flax) that is used for weaving, its life is ended. The idea here is that Hezekiah lived a righteous life in the midst of a wicked generation. As a king he led the people in the way of God, and yet his life was being cut short. This illustrates for us that we do not blame God for tragedy but praise him for the years that we did have. We seek the Lord for His righteousness and ask Him to help us to live in righteousness and truth and to turn from sin and wickedness. Hezekiah demonstrates that even if a life is cut short, living a life of good values, of righteousness and truth has great value! The reason being, we will one day stand before God and give an account of our lives.
Isaiah goes on to record Hezekiah as he continues with his psalm in Isaiah 38:13-14.
ספר ישעיה פרק לח
יג שִׁוִּיתִי עַד-בֹּקֶר כָּאֲרִי כֵּן יְשַׁבֵּר כָּל-עַצְמוֹתָי מִיּוֹם עַד-לַיְלָה תַּשְׁלִימֵנִי: יד כְּסוּס עָגוּר כֵּן אֲצַפְצֵף אֶהְגֶּה כַּיּוֹנָה דַּלּוּ עֵינַי לַמָּרוֹם אֲדֹנָי עָשְׁקָה-לִּי עָרְבֵנִי:
Isaiah 38:13 states, “I reckoned till morning, that, as a lion, so will he break all my bones: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me. (שִׁוִּיתִי עַד-בֹּקֶר כָּאֲרִי כֵּן יְשַׁבֵּר כָּל-עַצְמוֹתָי מִיּוֹם עַד-לַיְלָה תַּשְׁלִימֵנִי)” Isaiah 38:14 “Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward: O LORD, I am oppressed; undertake for me. (כְּסוּס עָגוּר כֵּן אֲצַפְצֵף אֶהְגֶּה כַּיּוֹנָה דַּלּוּ עֵינַי לַמָּרוֹם אֲדֹנָי עָשְׁקָה-לִּי עָרְבֵנִי)” Here Hezekiah says, שִׁוִּיתִי עַד-בֹּקֶר “I lay down till morning” indicating how he had calmed himself and rested during the night and it may be that the king had considered this to literally be the end of life. He draws upon the lion (אֲרִי) analogy to breaking his bones, the lion waits in silence until the moment to pounce and kill his prey. Note how the TgJ translates this verse.
Here we read כְאַריָא דְנָהֵים “Roar like a lion” in the TgJ and we note that this is referring to the Lord God in heaven and not the king. The TgJ writes נַהֵימִית עַד צַפרָא “I groaned through the night” indicating the king’s travailing in his illness. This is analogous to the day having ended and the night drawing near illustrating the uncertainty of tomorrow. Hezekiah goes on saying in Isaiah 38:14, כְּסוּס עָגוּר כֵּן אֲצַפְצֵף אֶהְגֶּה כַּיּוֹנָה דַּלּוּ עֵינַי לַמָּרוֹם אֲדֹנָי עָשְׁקָה-לִּי עָרְבֵנִי “Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward: O LORD, I am oppressed; undertake for me.” Here he speaks of himself as a swallow chattering, indicating his helplessness. We note something about Hezekiah, regardless of his illness, and the fact that the illness is in the hands of God. Notice how he continues to seek the God of Israel for healing regardless of what happens, he maintains his faith regardless of what happens! This is a very important theological point, since we know that God wants the best for us and knows that there is mercy and grace that can be extended. This is exactly what happened, God heard Hezekiah’s prayer and extended mercy to him and gave him 15 years more to live. We note that this is what we see taking place in the NT account, where Yeshua takes upon himself on the cross our rightful judgment. Yeshua gave his life for our benefit and so we rely upon the merit of Yeshua for the forgiveness of sins.
Isaiah goes on saying the following according to Isaiah 38:15-16.
ספר ישעיה פרק לח
טו מָה-אֲדַבֵּר וְאָמַר-לִי וְהוּא עָשָֹה אֶדַּדֶּה כָל-שְׁנוֹתַי עַל-מַר נַפְשִׁי: טז אֲדֹנָי עֲלֵיהֶם יִחְיוּ וּלְכָל-בָּהֶן חַיֵּי רוּחִי וְתַחֲלִימֵנִי וְהַחֲיֵנִי:
Isaiah 38:15 states, “What shall I say? he hath both spoken unto me, and himself hath done it: I shall go softly all my years in the bitterness of my soul. (מָה-אֲדַבֵּר וְאָמַר-לִי וְהוּא עָשָֹה אֶדַּדֶּה כָל-שְׁנוֹתַי עַל-מַר נַפְשִׁי)” Isaiah 38:16 “O LORD, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so wilt thou recover me, and make me to live. (אֲדֹנָי עֲלֵיהֶם יִחְיוּ וּלְכָל-בָּהֶן חַיֵּי רוּחִי וְתַחֲלִימֵנִי וְהַחֲיֵנִי)” Hezekiah’s words here speak to his unworthiness before God and acknowledges that all is in God’s hands to cause him to recover and make him live. Note the parallel here to a story in the NT text according to Luke 7:6-10.
7:6 Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: 7:7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. 7:8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 7:9 When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 7:10 And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick. (KJV 6 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἐπορεύετο σὺν αὐτοῖς. ἤδη δὲ αὐτοῦ οὐ μακρὰν ἀπέχοντος °ἀπὸ τῆς οἰκίας ἔπεμψεν ⸆ φίλους ὁ ἑκατοντάρχης ⸂λέγων αὐτῷ⸃·* κύριε, μὴ σκύλλου, οὐ γὰρ ⸉ἱκανός εἰμι⸊ ἵνα ὑπὸ τὴν στέγην μου εἰσέλθῃς· 7 ⸋διὸ οὐδὲ ἐμαυτὸν ἠξίωσα πρὸς σὲ ἐλθεῖν·*⸌ ἀλλʼ εἰπὲ λόγῳ, καὶ ⸀ἰαθήτω ὁ παῖς μου. 8 καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ ἄνθρωπός εἰμι ὑπὸ ἐξουσίαν τασσόμενος ἔχων ὑπʼ ἐμαυτὸν στρατιώτας, καὶ λέγω τούτῳ· πορεύθητι, καὶ πορεύεται, καὶ ἄλλῳ· ἔρχου, καὶ ἔρχεται, καὶ τῷ δούλῳ μου· ποίησον τοῦτο, καὶ ποιεῖ. 9 ἀκούσας δὲ ταῦτα ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐθαύμασεν αὐτὸν καὶ στραφεὶς τῷ ἀκολουθοῦντι αὐτῷ ὄχλῳ εἶπεν·* ⸆ λέγω ὑμῖν, ⸂οὐδὲ ἐν τῷ Ἰσραὴλ τοσαύτην πίστιν εὗρον⸃.* *10 Καὶ ὑποστρέψαντες εἰς τὸν οἶκον οἱ πεμφθέντες ⸆ εὗρον τὸν ⸀δοῦλον ὑγιαίνοντα.)
Here the centurion heard about Yeshua and sent a servant to speak to him about his servant being healed. He said the he was unworthy for the Messiah to come to his house, but that just speak the word and it will be done. This was a great amount of faith on behalf of the centurion which Yeshua recognized and commented upon to his followers. Similarly, Hezekiah knows the power of God and trusts by faith that what God has planned for his life is consistent with His character of mercy, grace, and love. We note Isaiah says in Isaiah 38:16, אֲדֹנָי עֲלֵיהֶם יִחְיוּ וּלְכָל-בָּהֶן חַיֵּי רוּחִי וְתַחֲלִימֵנִי וְהַחֲיֵנִי “O LORD, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so wilt thou recover me, and make me to live.” Note that the word וְהַחֲיֵנִי is a Hifʿîl, imperative, second person, masculine, singular meaning that God can make him live. This appears to be an affirmation of Hezekiah’s faith, that he believes that God can make him live. Notice that this is having faith in the power of God, and trusting in the only One who is able to save him from death. Again these things have theological significance, that regardless of what happens, we know all things are in God’s hands and He knows best, and so we keep the faith believing and not wavering no matter what happens. Hezekiah believes that if he survives it is because of God’s sovereignty and trustworthiness! The same kind of faith is required of us today, believing that it is the sovereignty, power, and trustworthiness of God that saves us by faith in His Son Yeshua the Messiah!
Rabbinic Commentary on Isaiah 38:11-16
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 לח:יא-טז
יא אְמַרִית לָא אַתַחזֵי עֹוד קֳדָם דְחִילָא דַיוי בַאְרַע בֵית שְכִינְתָא דְבַה אְרִיכוּת חַיַיָא וְלָא אַפלַח קֳדָמֹוהִי עֹוד בְבֵית מַקדְשָא דְמִתַמָן עְתִיד לְמִפַק חַדוָא לְכָל יָתְבֵי אַרעָא מִלִמדָר בִירוּשלַם קַרתָא דְקֻדשָא מְדֹורִי פְסַק׃ יב מִבְנֵי דָרִי אִתנְטִילוּ יֹומַי אִתקְצִיצוּ וּגלֹו מִנִי אִתכְפִילוּ כְמַשכַן דְרָעָי אִתקְפַלוּ כְנָוַל גִידוּדִין חַיַי מִיקָר מַלכוּתִי אְנָא גָלֵי יְמָמַי וְלֵילָווָתִי שְלִימוּ׃ יג נַהֵימִית עַד צַפרָא כְאַריָא דְנָהֵים וְתָבַר כָל גַרמֵי חֵיוָתָא כֵין מִתַברִין מִן קֳדָם דָוֹונָא כָל גַרמֵי יְמָמִי וְלֵילָווָתִי שְלִימוּ׃ יד כְעֹפָא דַאְחִיד וּמנַצֵיף כֵין נַצֵיפִית וְנַהֵימִית כְיֹונָה זְקַפִית עֵינַי דְיֵיתֵי לִי רְוַח מִן קֳדָם דִשכִינְתֵיה בִשמֵי מְרֹומָא יוי קַבֵיל צְלֹותִי עְבַד בָעוּתִי׃ טו מָא אְמַלֵיל תֻשבְחָא וְאֵימַר קֳדָמֹוהִי וְהוּא אַסגִי טָבווָן לְמַעְבַד עִמִי מָא אַפלַח וַאְשַלֵים קֳדָמֹוהִי כָל שְנַיָא דְאֹוסֵיף עַל חַיַי וְשֵיזֵיב מִמְרָר נַפשִי׃ טז יוי עַל כָל מִיתַיָא אְמַרת לַאְחָאָה וּקֳדָם כוּלְהֹון אַחיִיתָא רוּחִי וְאַחיִיתַנִי וְקַיֵימתָנִי׃
Targum Jonathan son of Uziel Isaiah 38:11-16
38:11 I thought, I shall not appear again before the terrible God, in the land of the house of His Shekinah, in which is length of life: and I shall no more serve before Him in the house of the sanctuary, from whence shall go forth joy unto all the inhabitants of the earth; neither shall I dwell in Jerusalem the holy city; my habitation is cut down. 38:12 From the children of my generation my days are taken away, they are cut off, and gone away from me; they are folded up like a shepherd’s tent; my life is cut off like a weaver’s web; from the glory of my kingdom I am gone into captivity; my days and my nights are ended. 38:13 I roar until the morning like a lion that roareth when he breaketh the bones of a beast; thus on account of my sorrow all my bones are broken; my days and my nights are come to an end. 38:14 As a swallow chirps which is caught, so I chirped; and I moan like a dove: I lifted up mine eyes, that refreshing might come to me from (before) Him whose Shekinah is in the highest heavens: O Lord, hear my prayer; grant my petition. 38:15 What praise shall I utter and speak unto Him? For He hath multiplied His kindness towards me. With what shall I serve Him, and what shall I render unto Him for all the years He hath added to my life, and delivered my soul from bitterness. 38:16 O Lord, Thou hast said concerning all the dead, that Thou wilt quicken them, and Thou hast quickened my spirit before any of them: Thou hast quickened, Thou hast made me to live. )TעJ(
We note how the TgJ draws in a number of things to the Isaiah text as it is translated into Aramaic to say the following, יא אְמַרִית לָא אַתַחזֵי עֹוד קֳדָם דְחִילָא דַיוי בַאְרַע בֵית שְכִינְתָא דְבַה אְרִיכוּת חַיַיָא וְלָא אַפלַח קֳדָמֹוהִי עֹוד בְבֵית מַקדְשָא דְמִתַמָן עְתִיד לְמִפַק חַדוָא לְכָל יָתְבֵי אַרעָא מִלִמדָר בִירוּשלַם קַרתָא דְקֻדשָא מְדֹורִי פְסַק׃ 38:11 I thought, I shall not appear again before the terrible God, in the land of the house of His Shekinah, in which is length of life: and I shall no more serve before Him in the house of the sanctuary, from whence shall go forth joy unto all the inhabitants of the earth; neither shall I dwell in Jerusalem the holy city; my habitation is cut down. (TgJ) Here Jonathan draws in the Shekhinah which is a Hebrew word for “dwelling” or “settling” which denotes the presence of God in the world. When we compare this to the original text, אָמַרְתִּי לֹא-אֶרְאֶה יָהּ יָהּ בְּאֶרֶץ הַחַיִּים לֹא-אַבִּיט אָדָם עוֹד עִם-יוֹשְׁבֵי חָדֶל “I said, I shall not see the LORD, even the LORD, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world,” We note יה is spelled out twice as a circumlocution for the name of God (YHWH) and here in the Aramaic text the Shekhinah is also used as a circumlocution for the name of God. We note that the glory of God that filled the tabernacle was thought of as a cloud that covered the tabernacle, and the Shekhinah is thought of to be similar. In the rabbinic literature, the Shekhinah glory of God is also associated with Torah study. We find an interesting comment in the Zohar concerning these things.
Zohar, Noach 18:138
פָּתַח וְאָמַר, (ישעיהו ל״ח:י״א) אָמַרְתִּי לֹא אֶרְאֶה יָהּ יָהּ בְּאֶרֶץ הַחַיִּים לֹא אַבִּיט אָדָם עוֹד עִם יוֹשְׁבֵי חָדֶל. אָמַרְתִּי לא אֶרְאֶה יָהּ, כַּמָּה אֲטִימִין אִנּוּן בְּנִי נָשָׁא דְּלָא יָדְעִין וְלָא מַשְׁגִּיחִין בְּמִלֵּי דְאוֹרַיְיתָא, אֶלָּא מִסְתַּכְּלֵי בְּמִלּוֹי דְעָלְמָא וְאִתְנְשֵׁי מִנַּיְיהוּ רוּחָא דְחָכְמְתָא.
He began by saying, “I said, I shall not see Kah; Kah, in the land of the living; I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of cessation” (Isaiah 38:11). How obtuse, he said, are the people who do not know or pay heed to the words of the Torah, but look only upon worldly matters. The spirit of wisdom is forgotten from them.
What is interesting about the comments from the Zohar is that the Zohar is pointing out the issues with paying heed to the words of the Torah only look upon the worldly matters. This is an interesting concept since the Torah also contains spiritual truths for us to live by, as the Zohar writes “the spirit of wisdom is forgotten from them” who do this. The reason this is a problem is provided by Rabbi Hillel in his statement, “one who uses the crown (of Torah for his own benefit) will perish” (Avot 1:13) and so Hillel believes that it is forbidden to use the Torah for personal gain. According to Chabad.org, the Torah is primarily concerned with life in this world and its purpose is to create a dwelling for God in this world. This means that by focusing on the worldly matters of the Torah, one can fulfill their purpose in life and elevate their soul to a higher level. However, if one focuses only on the worldly matters of the Torah and ignores its spiritual teachings, one may miss out on the opportunity to connect with God and achieve spiritual growth. While there are potential benefits to focusing on the worldly matters of the Torah, it is important to also consider its spiritual teachings in order to achieve a balanced understanding and fulfillment of its purpose. It is these spiritual teachings that lead us to the Messiah as Paul wrote in both Romans and Galatians. In his Epistle to the Galatians, Paul wrote that the law (Torah) was our tutor to bring us to Christ, so that we might be justified by faith. He said, “But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Galatians 3:23-25). This concept of “shutting up” was important as it preserves one from assimilation into the nations of the world. We note how the Torah separates us to be holy and righteous before God. So, this idea of the Torah shutting us up until these things were revealed does not mean the Torah has passed away. In his Epistle to the Romans, Paul also wrote about the relationship between the law (Torah) and faith in Christ. In Romans 3:21-22, he said, “But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe.” In other words, Paul is saying that righteousness before God comes through faith in Yeshua. What we note about this is because we are a people of faith, we should also be living righteous lives, and the way to do this is to understand how God has established righteousness in the Torah for us to understand the differences between what is righteous and what is wicked. So, as we abide in the Messiah, God gives us His Holy Spirit to dwell in us and empower us to live for Him as His people.
Isaiah goes on saying the following according to the TgJ, יב מִבְנֵי דָרִי אִתנְטִילוּ יֹומַי אִתקְצִיצוּ וּגלֹו מִנִי אִתכְפִילוּ כְמַשכַן דְרָעָי אִתקְפַלוּ כְנָוַל גִידוּדִין חַיַי מִיקָר מַלכוּתִי אְנָא גָלֵי יְמָמַי וְלֵילָווָתִי שְלִימוּ׃ 38:12 From the children of my generation my days are taken away, they are cut off, and gone away from me; they are folded up like a shepherd’s tent; my life is cut off like a weaver’s web; from the glory of my kingdom I am gone into captivity; my days and my nights are ended. יג נַהֵימִית עַד צַפרָא כְאַריָא דְנָהֵים וְתָבַר כָל גַרמֵי חֵיוָתָא כֵין מִתַברִין מִן קֳדָם דָוֹונָא כָל גַרמֵי יְמָמִי וְלֵילָווָתִי שְלִימוּ׃ 38:13 I roar until the morning like a lion that roareth when he breaketh the bones of a beast; thus on account of my sorrow all my bones are broken; my days and my nights are come to an end. (TgJ) Here Hezekiah describes the outcome of his illness, it will lead to being cut off if he dies, and this illness has taken away the glory of his kingdom and taken him into captivity, broken and dead. The Midrash Tehillim 26 Part 2 has the following to say using these verses from Isaiah.
Midrash Tehillim 26:2
Another thing is what the scripture says (Proverbs 12:1): “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge.” There are four who were punished. One was punished and kicked. This was Job, who was punished and kicked. Likewise, it says (Job 10:2): “Let me know why You contend with me. Is it right for You to oppress me?” I know that You have the power, and You do as You please. (Job 34:30) “That the godless man should not reign, that there be no one to ensnare the people.” This was punished and kicked. The second was punished and played with. This was Abraham, as it says (Genesis 17:17) “Then Abraham fell upon his face and laughed, and said in his heart, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?'” And why was Abraham similar to a king who swore to hit his son and said to him, “My son, I have sworn to hit you”? The son replied, “The power is in your hand.” He hit him and thought that his son would say “Enough,” but once he hit him, the father said, “Enough, I have hit him.” Similarly, (Genesis 17:1) “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am El Shaddai; walk before Me and be blameless.'” I have hit him enough. The third was punished and asked his beloved not to hit him. This was Hezekiah, as it says (Isaiah 38:2) “Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, and said…” Rabbi Nathan said: He was also punished and kicked, as it says (Isaiah 14:31) “Wail, O gate! Cry, O city! Melt away, O Philistia, all of you! For smoke comes out of the north, and there is no straggler in his ranks.” This tells us that his blows were as severe as those of Job. In Job it is written (Job 19:20) “My bones cling to my skin and to my flesh, and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.” And in Hezekiah, it is written (Isaiah 38:13) “I composed my soul as a weaned child. Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap, so is my soul within me.” This tells us that even the skin of his teeth was taken away. The fourth said, “Why is the strap hanging? Direct me with it.” This was David, as it says to David, “Judge me, O LORD.” And likewise, Solomon says (Proverbs 12:1) “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge.” And David also says (Psalm 94:12) “Blessed is the man whom You discipline, O LORD.”
The Midrash points out that the one who loves discipline loves knowledge and the one who hates correction is dumb citing Mishley / Proverbs 12:1. This verse provides the concept of loving knowledge, where discipline is meant to help us to learn from our mistakes and improve ourselves, leading to greater understanding and wisdom. On the other hand, if a person hates correction and refuses to learn from their mistakes, they are unlikely to gain knowledge and may be considered foolish. What Solomon is instructing us is how loving discipline is an important part of the pursuit of knowledge. The Midrash provides four people whom God disciplined to illustrate this point (Job, Abraham, Hezekiah, and David). The point that is being illustrated here is how these great men of faith used these concepts to walk with God. In a similar manner we too should use discipline to temper our sins and seek the will of God in our lives.
Isaiah goes on saying the following, יד כְעֹפָא דַאְחִיד וּמנַצֵיף כֵין נַצֵיפִית וְנַהֵימִית כְיֹונָה זְקַפִית עֵינַי דְיֵיתֵי לִי רְוַח מִן קֳדָם דִשכִינְתֵיה בִשמֵי מְרֹומָא יוי קַבֵיל צְלֹותִי עְבַד בָעוּתִי׃ 38:14 As a swallow chirps which is caught, so I chirped; and I moan like a dove: I lifted up mine eyes, that refreshing might come to me from (before) Him whose Shekinah is in the highest heavens: O Lord, hear my prayer; grant my petition. טו מָא אְמַלֵיל תֻשבְחָא וְאֵימַר קֳדָמֹוהִי וְהוּא אַסגִי טָבווָן לְמַעְבַד עִמִי מָא אַפלַח וַאְשַלֵים קֳדָמֹוהִי כָל שְנַיָא דְאֹוסֵיף עַל חַיַי וְשֵיזֵיב מִמְרָר נַפשִי׃ 38:15 What praise shall I utter and speak unto Him? For He hath multiplied His kindness towards me. With what shall I serve Him, and what shall I render unto Him for all the years He hath added to my life, and delivered my soul from bitterness. טז יוי עַל כָל מִיתַיָא אְמַרת לַאְחָאָה וּקֳדָם כוּלְהֹון אַחיִיתָא רוּחִי וְאַחיִיתַנִי וְקַיֵימתָנִי׃38:16 O Lord, Thou hast said concerning all the dead, that Thou wilt quicken them, and Thou hast quickened my spirit before any of them: Thou hast quickened, Thou hast made me to live. (TgJ) Here Hezekiah has the realization of the blessing that God has poured out on him. The Tanya commentary, an early work of Hasidic philosophy, written by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad Hasidism, writes the following concerning these verses from Isaiah.
Tanya, Part IV; Iggeret HaKodesh 27:4
The righteous lives by his faith, *Habakkuk 2:4. and by the fear of the L–rd which leads to life, *Proverbs 19:23. and by the flashes of fire of the flame of his love (of G–d, which to him) supercedes life, to absorb therein the life of his ruach *Par. Isaiah 38:16.—V. L.: of his ruach and his neshamah. See above, Epistle 5, note 53 on the terms nefesh, ruach, neshamah. all the days of his duration. And when it comes about that the L–rd takes up *Par. II Kings 2:1. (and) gathers to Himself his ruach and neshamah, *Par. Job 34:14. and he ascends from one elevation to another—to the peak of levels, he, then, leaves the life of his ruach, his effectuation on which he has labored *Par. Ezekiel 29:20. previously among Israel [the labor of the righteous is for the living *Proverbs 10:16.], to every living being. That is, (he leaves it to) the soul of every living being bound to his soul by the thick ropes of a magnanimous love, and an eternal love, *Ahavah rabbah and ahavat olam. On these terms see Zohar III:263b; Torah Or, Vayechi 47b. that will not be moved forever. For he who is the man who desires life *Par. Psalms 34:13. to become attached to the L–rd of life, his soul will become attached through his service; (his soul) will be bound up in the bundle of life with the L–rd, *I Samuel 25:29; see Likkutei Torah, Shelach 51d, and below, Epistle 29. in the life of “the breath (ruach) of our nostrils of whom we said: in his tzel we shall live among the nations.” *Par. Lamentations 4:20. The context suggests that this is not a mere paraphrase. Tzel (shadow) is a term associated with the soul and related to the sublime rank of chaya (cf. above, Epistle 5, note 53)—the “soul of soul,” transcending not only the rank of ruach but also that of neshamah. The phrase, thus, appears to mean: in the life (or essence) of the ruach (of the tzaddik), of which we said: “in his tzel we shall live”…. This he left for us, etc.—On the meaning and significance of tzel, see Tehillim Yahel Or on Psalms 39:7 (pp. 148 ff.).
Here Rabbi Zalman speaks about walking in service to God and to others. He speaks of fearing God which leads to life and living by faith quoting from the Scriptures. His conclusions are that when the righteous die their spirit leaves and that the essence of a righteous person’s spirit leaves those who he loved and served. In other words, the righteous person’s ruach is a source of life and inspiration for all who are connected to them. When the righteous person dies, their ruach does not disappear, but rather it continues to live on in those who are connected to them. This is why the righteous person’s death is a loss not only for their family and friends, but for the entire world. We note here that this describes how we influence others and how we can also be a source of life to others. So, when a righteous person dies, there is a great loss to friends, family, and the world. Rashi also writes the following concerning these verses.
Rashi on Isaiah 38:16 Parts 1-5
אד’ עליהם יחיו. י”ת ה’ על כל מיתיא אמרת לאחיאה:
O Lord! Concerning them, [You said] they shall live Jonathan renders: O Lord! Concerning all the dead, You said to resurrect.
ולכל בהן חיי רוחי. וקדם כלהון אחייתא חיי רוחי, ואני אומר לפי פשוטו ה’ עליה’ על שנותי הנזכרי’ לעיל:
and before all of them the life of my spirit And before all of them He resurrected the life of my spirit. But I say according to the simple meaning: The Lord is upon them, upon ‘my years’ mentioned above.
אדדה כל שנותי ה’ שיכן שכנו וחסדו עליהם ואמר לי על פי נביאו יחיו:
‘How can I serve Him and repay Him for all the years,’ He caused His Shechinah and His kindness to rest upon them and said to me through His prophets, that they shall live.
ולכל בהן חיי רוחי. ולכל דבר אשר תלויין בהן חיי רוחי אמר ה’ עליהם ויחיו.
and to all upon which the life of my soul depends And to everything upon which the life of my soul depends, the Lord said concerning them and they shall live.
ותחלימני. מעתה ידעתי שתחלימני ותחייני, תחלימני, תבראני ותחזקני כמו (איוב לט) יחלמו בניהם:
and You shall make me well From now on, I know that you shall make me well and give me life. You shall make me well (תַּחְלִימֵנִי) You shall make me well and strengthen me. Comp. (Job 39:4) “Their children shall become strong (יַחְלְמוּ).”
Here Rashi provides reasons in his commentary on Isaiah 38:16 why we should serve and honor God. We should serve and honor God because He is the source of life and healing for us. Rashi comments on this verse saying, “By these things men live: By these words, which are words of the living God, who gives life to the dead, men live in this world and in the World to Come. And in all these things is the life of my spirit: And through all these promises that You promised me, my spirit lives.” Rashi explains that the word of God is not only powerful and true, but also life-giving and life-sustaining. This is the point of what the Torah states in Devarim / Deuteronomy 28. Rashi says that by trusting in God’s words and promises, Hezekiah was able to recover from his illness and enjoy a longer life. And, by following God’s words and commandments, Hezekiah honored God in His Word and so God provided His mercy to Hezekiah and extended his life. It was Hezekiah’s faith and trust in the Lord that secured his place in the World to Come. Therefore, we should serve and honor God because He is the one who gives us life, both physical and spiritual, and who heals us from our afflictions. What these things reveal to us is how God is always faithful to us and how we should always be seeking Him and His holy and righteous ways!