The Existence of Evil in this World, How can God allow Evil to Persist? ישעיהו מה:ז-יב / Isaiah 45:7-12

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Introduction to Isaiah 45:7-12

The existence of evil in the world has perplexed humanity for centuries, prompting both philosophical and theological inquiries. Within the framework of a monotheistic religion, the question becomes even more challenging when people ask, “How can an all-powerful, all-knowing, and benevolent God allow evil to persist?” The difficulty or challenge is in coming to understand how a loving and omnipotent God can allow evil to reign in the created world. In an attempt to answer this difficult question, scholars have come up with various theories. One such theory is the Privation theory which proposes that evil is the absence of good. Under this perspective, God allows for the absence of God to grant the freedom of His creatures to choose their destiny meaning that free will allows for both the intellectual and spiritual choices, which enables the concept of morality. We note how in the animal kingdom, there is no concept of morality, murder, adultery, or idolatry, etc. It is only those who are made in the image of God, who also have creative ability as God does, who are given the option of free will to choose between right and wrong, good and evil. When we read the Torah, the book of Genesis provides the earliest record of evil. According to the biblical narrative, at the beginning of creation, man chose disobedience before obedience, and this disobedience that harmed the man’s relationship with God led to the emergence of evil in this world. Because man loved evil, this led to the righteous being persecuted for righteousness sake. The psalmist David laments over the paradox of divine love and the presence of evil in this world. Despite being loved by God, David expresses feelings of being forsaken. This tension mirrors our own struggles when we wonder why God seems distant during our darkest moments. These things are reflected in our own suffering and crying out in pain for the Lord God to help us. These things lead us to seek the God of Israel, and to wrestle with the difficulties in this life balancing our faith and faithfulness while existing in a world that hates faith and faithfulness to God. 

In Christian tradition, Yeshua is portrayed as the one who restores the damaged relationship between humanity and God. Isaiah’s prophecies foretell this reconciliation. However, despite Yeshua’s redemptive work, evil persists. The tension between an all-good God and palpable evil remains unresolved.

Biblical References for Suffering

  • Bereshit / Genesis 3 recounts the fall of humanity due to disobedience. The serpent tempts Adam and Eve, leading to their expulsion from the garden of Eden. Evil enters the world as a consequence of their choice indicated in the very next chapter (Bereshit / Genesis 4) with their first born son Cain killing Abel.
  • The book of Job grapples with the problem of innocent suffering. Job, a righteous man, endures immense pain and loss. His friends offer various explanations, but the ultimate answer lies beyond this physical world and in the heavenly realm.
  • The Book of Ecclesiastes reflects on the futility and impermanence of life. Here King Solomon acknowledges the existence of evil and the limitations of human understanding.

The Rabbinic literature also engages in the discussions on the existence of evil. The Talmud contains many discussions on suffering, evil, and divine justice. The Rabbis explore questions such as why the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper. Remember the Story of Rabbi Akiva, who witnessed the brutal execution of his fellow martyr, Rabbi Hanina ben Teradion. When asked why God allows such suffering, Rabbi Akiva responds that God’s ways are beyond human comprehension. Rabbi Isaac Luria’s mystical kabbalistic approach to creation speaks of divine withdrawal (צמצום, tzimtzum). He says that in the absence of the divine presence evil emerges in the void left by God’s withdrawal, allowing for human free will. The existence of evil for many remains a profound mystery, and the privation theory reminds us that evil is the consequences of our choices. The biblical narrative causes us to wrestle with the existence of evil, and leads us to seek the God of Israel for His mercy and grace to overcome whatever the world throws at us. The tension that is created causes us to grow in our spiritual walk with God and His Messiah. 

We note how the exile and return from Babylon is the context for these Scriptures found here in Isaiah 45. When we think about God’s powerful and mighty deliverance, our memory is drawn back to the Exodus and God performing great miracles on behalf of His people to deliver them from bondage in Egypt. Here however Isaiah is telling the people their messiah will be a pagan king who will simply allow them to return to the Land of Israel. Note that there is a significant change in the way in which God delivers His people here from Babylon as compared to what He had done previously. These things illustrate for us how we should look for the unexpected. We note how significant the contrast is between the two events, for when Moshe delivered Israel, the Name of God and His character was revealed, whereas here God would reveal His power to Cyrus, the One who enabled Him to conquer Babylon and become king who allowed the people to return to Israel. What these things illustrate for us today is how the Psalms teach us it is ok to lament and cry out to God to express our pain. These things also demonstrate how we can trust in the Lord God in the midst of the darkness, because of His faithfulness, character, and mercy. Tehillim / Psalms 136 reminds us that God’s love endures forever and that His ways are beyond our comprehension (Isaiah 55:8-9). Here, Isaiah 45:7-12 speaks to the right of the Creator to develop His creation in the way that He chooses! Those who are created have no position to dictate the terms of Creation or its development. Regardless of the existence of evil in this world, the Lord God of Israel continues to be consistent with His character and purposes as are stated according to the Scriptures. As we can see throughout the Scriptures, all of these things work together for good (Romans 8:28) and most importantly, these things draw us closer to God, to seek His will and purpose for our lives! That is, for those who are willing to give credence to the God who created them! Our recognizing the God of Israel as Creator, Lord, and King over our lives, is the basic backdrop of Isaiah’s call to belief and faith! It is both a challenge to remain faithful in the midst of our troubles, and to live our lives for the Lord regardless of what happens!

Masoretic Text (MSS) on Isaiah 45:7-12.

Isaiah continues saying the following according to Isaiah 45:7.

ספר ישעיה פרק מה
ז   יוֹצֵר אוֹר וּבוֹרֵא חֹשֶׁךְ עֹשֶֹה שָׁלוֹם וּבוֹרֵא רָע אֲנִי יְהֹוָה עֹשֶֹה כָל-אֵלֶּה:       

Isaiah 45:7 states, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (יוֹצֵר אוֹר וּבוֹרֵא חֹשֶׁךְ עֹשֶֹה שָׁלוֹם וּבוֹרֵא רָע אֲנִי יְהֹוָה עֹשֶֹה כָל-אֵלֶּה)” 

Cross references for Isaiah 45:7: Ge 1:1–31; 39:1–6; 50:20; Ex 10:22; Jdg 9:22–27; 1 Sa 16:14; 1 Ki 21:21; 22:8; 2 Ki 6:33; Job 2:10; Ps 78:49; 104:20; 105:28; Is 13:11; 14:15; 31:2; 41:23; 42:16; 43:8–13; 47:11; Je 1:1–8, 14; La 3:38; Am 3:6; 1 Esd 1:1–18

This Scripture can be quite controversial since a basic reading of the text suggests that God creates both peace and evil, just as the KJV seems to translate this verse. In this verse, the word יוֹצֵר (Yotzer) means “form” or “create.” It emphasizes God’s creative power and sovereignty. The word אוֹר (Or) is translated as “light,” it symbolizes illumination, knowledge, and goodness. חֹשֶׁךְ (Choshech) means “darkness,” it represents obscurity, ignorance, and adversity. The word שָׁלוֹם (Shalom) means peace of course, and it signifies the peace and goodness of God. The controversial word is רָע (Ra) which can be translated as “evil.” However, due to the nature of God, how God is not evil, the better translation is “calamity.” This word encompasses the concepts of adversity, suffering, and hardship. So when we put it all together, we read that God is the ultimate creator of both light and darkness, peace and adversity. He orchestrates all aspects of existence, including both positive and challenging experiences. The challenges come when we are disobedient, and due to our desire for righteousness and living in righteousness and holiness, adversity may come from the sense of being persecuted for righteousness sake. So these things all highlight the sovereignty of God over all things. 

In the New Testament, there isn’t a direct quotation of Isaiah 45:7. However, some concepts resonate with this verse:

John 1:5  
1:5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (KJV καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν.)

Romans 8:28  
8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (KJV Οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι τοῖς ἀγαπῶσιν τὸν θεὸν πάντα συνεργεῖ εἰς ἀγαθόν, τοῖς κατὰ πρόθεσιν κλητοῖς οὖσιν.)

James 1:17  
1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (KJV Μὴ πλανᾶσθε, ἀδελφοί μου ἀγαπητοί. πᾶσα δόσις ἀγαθὴ καὶ πᾶν δώρημα τέλειον ἄνωθέν ἐστιν καταβαῖνον ἀπὸ τοῦ πατρὸς τῶν φώτων, παρʼ ᾧ οὐκ ἔνι παραλλαγὴ ἢ τροπῆς ἀποσκίασμα.)

According to John 1:5 we read how the Messiah, the Word of God, is portrayed as the light that causes darkness to flee that echoes the theme of Isaiah in creation and divine sovereignty. In Romans Paul speaks of the Lord God using any circumstance for His purposes, similar to the theme we read here in Isaiah. And James said that the source of every good and perfect thing is from God, this also reflects what Isaiah is writing here. These things speak to how the interactions of the great God of Israel extends to all aspects of our lives, whether favorable or challenging and difficult. His power and mercy surpass and encompasses both light and darkness, and ultimately, He works all of these things together for our good and for His purposes. We note what this verse from Isaiah 45:7 implies, that no matter what happens, the Lord God Almighty is in control. There are no other idol gods who are involved in anything that is happening. He is saying that God who is the Creator of all things, is ultimately responsible for everything in nature from light to darkness, even history itself, and even the nations who are brought for the purpose of causing the people of God to turn their hearts to the Lord God in heaven, and to turn away from idolatry and sin. This verse does not mean that God causes people to be morally evil or causes misfortune from the sense of the random events that happen, but that He can use one’s failures to teach the value of God’s truth and righteousness and holiness.

Isaiah goes on saying the following according to Isaiah 45:8-9.

ספר ישעיה פרק מה
ח   הַרְעִיפוּ שָׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל וּשְׁחָקִים יִזְּלוּ-צֶדֶק תִּפְתַּח-אֶרֶץ וְיִפְרוּ-יֶשַׁע וּצְדָקָה תַצְמִיחַ יַחַד אֲנִי יְהֹוָה בְּרָאתִיו: ט   הוֹי רָב אֶת-יֹצְרוֹ חֶרֶשֹ אֶת-חַרְשֵֹי אֲדָמָה הֲיֹאמַר חֹמֶר לְיֹצְרוֹ מַה-תַּעֲשֶֹה וּפָעָלְךָ אֵין-יָדַיִם לוֹ:       

Isaiah 45:8 states, “Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it. (הַרְעִיפוּ שָׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל וּשְׁחָקִים יִזְּלוּ-צֶדֶק תִּפְתַּח-אֶרֶץ וְיִפְרוּ-יֶשַׁע וּצְדָקָה תַצְמִיחַ יַחַד אֲנִי יְהֹוָה בְּרָאתִיו)” Isaiah 45:9 “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands? (הוֹי רָב אֶת-יֹצְרוֹ חֶרֶשֹ אֶת-חַרְשֵֹי אֲדָמָה הֲיֹאמַר חֹמֶר לְיֹצְרוֹ מַה-תַּעֲשֶֹה וּפָעָלְךָ אֵין-יָדַיִם לוֹ)”

Cross references for Isaiah 45:8-9: Ge 1:1–31; 39:1–6; Dt 32:2; Jdg 9:22–27; Job 9:12; 12:13; 15:25; 27:2; 33:13; 36:28; 40:2, 8–9; Ps 2:2–3; 22:15; 72:3, 6; 85:9–11; 133:3; Pr 21:30; Ec 6:10; Is 10:15; 12:3; 29:13–18; 41:2; 43:8–13; 45:24; 46:13; 48:18; 55:10; 60:21; 61:10–62:1; 64:8; Je 1:1–8; 18:2–12; 19:9–15; 50:24; Da 4:35; Ho 10:12; 14:5; Joe 2:23; 3:18; Am 5:24; Mal 4:2; Sir 33:11–18; 1 Esd 1:1–18; 2 Esd 8:7; Ro 9:20–21, 30–33; 1 Co 10:22

Here in Isaiah 45:8, there is a beautiful image of divine blessings that are said to be showering down from heaven. The heavens symbolize God’s abundant provision of righteousness. The earth opening wide represents readiness to receive God’s salvation. The major issue is the willingness of man to receive that blessing from God, which requires anavah u’tshuvah (ענווה ותשובה) humbleness and repentance. Note that the verse speaks of righteousness and salvation, and this emphasizes how righteousness flourishes alongside salvation because both are part of God’s redemptive work. The key Hebrew words in this verse is רָעַף (ra’af) which means to rain down or shower. This symbolizes God’s abundant provision of righteousness (צֶדֶק, tzedek) to those who seek it. This means that those who seek righteousness are seeking moral integrity, justice, and right standing with God. The earth opening (תִּפְתַּח, tif’tach) signifies one’s readiness to receive God’s salvation (יֶשַׁע, yesha). These things again emphasize God’s sovereignty in providing righteousness and salvation to those who seek it. The imagery of rain and an open earth from a torah perspective is that of blessing and receiving, those who seek these things will receive a spiritual blessing of peace and joy in the righteousness and salvation of God. Note that from the Peshat perspective historically, this verse in its near future fulfillment followed through to a blessing to Israel in deliverance from Babylonian captivity by Cyrus. The Drash and Remez sense, this verse directs us to the mercy of the Messiah. Remember how the righteous One, came from heaven to fulfill all righteousness. His work brought abundant blessings: peace, pardon, salvation, and eternal life. This prophecy of Isaiah connects Cyrus (a type) to the Messiah of God by emphasizing spiritual redemption.

Isaiah 45:9 offers a perspective that is consistent with our interpretation here, how righteousness and salvation come to those who are humble and repentant seeking the God of Israel. Notice how Isaiah says “Woe to the one who quarrels with their Maker” noting how God rebukes human arrogance. Isaiah parallels God to the potter or craftsman (חֶרֶשׂ, cheresh) and how we are the clay (חֹמֶר, chomer). This connects the activity or work of God (פָעַל, pa’al) upon His people and represents the Lord God as Creator. We note how these concepts are repeated in the NT text, and it may be that Paul had these concepts in mind when he wrote what he did in his epistles. 

Romans 9:20–21  
9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 9:21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (KJV ὦ ἄνθρωπε, μενοῦνγε σὺ τίς εἶ ὁ ἀνταποκρινόμενος τῷ θεῷ; μὴ ἐρεῖ τὸ πλάσμα τῷ πλάσαντι· τί με ἐποίησας οὕτως; ἢ οὐκ ἔχει ἐξουσίαν ὁ κεραμεὺς τοῦ πηλοῦ ἐκ τοῦ αὐτοῦ φυράματος ποιῆσαι ὃ μὲν εἰς τιμὴν σκεῦος ὃ δὲ εἰς ἀτιμίαν;)

So here Paul speaks to the potter and the clay analogy emphasizing God’s sovereignty over our lives and the need for us to be anavah u’tshuvah (ענווה ותשובה). Other places Paul may have used Isaiah are found in the concept of the beauty of the feet who bring good news of salvation (Romans 10:15), the question, “Who has believed our report?” which reflects Isaiah 53:1 in Romans 10:16, and his acknowledging God’s inscrutable ways which aligns with Isaiah’s emphasis on divine wisdom. (Romans 11:33) The NT text reminds us of God’s creative power, righteousness, and salvation and encourages humility (ענווה) and trust in His abilities and promises.

Isaiah continues to say the following according to Isaiah 45:10-12.

ספר ישעיה פרק מה
י   הוֹי אֹמֵר לְאָב מַה-תּוֹלִיד וּלְאִשָּׁה מַה-תְּחִילִין: יא   כֹּה-אָמַר יְהֹוָה קְדוֹשׁ יִשְֹרָאֵל וְיוֹצְרוֹ הָאֹתִיּוֹת שְׁאָלוּנִי עַל-בָּנַי וְעַל-פֹּעַל יָדַי תְּצַוֻּנִי: יב   אָנֹכִי עָשִֹיתִי אֶרֶץ וְאָדָם עָלֶיהָ בָרָאתִי אֲנִי יָדַי נָטוּ שָׁמַיִם וְכָל-צְבָאָם צִוֵּיתִי: 

Isaiah 45:10 states, “Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth? (הוֹי אֹמֵר לְאָב מַה-תּוֹלִיד וּלְאִשָּׁה מַה-תְּחִילִין)” Isaiah 45:11 “Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me. (כֹּה-אָמַר יְהֹוָה קְדוֹשׁ יִשְֹרָאֵל וְיוֹצְרוֹ הָאֹתִיּוֹת שְׁאָלוּנִי עַל-בָּנַי וְעַל-פֹּעַל יָדַי תְּצַוֻּנִי)” Isaiah 45:12 “I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded. (אָנֹכִי עָשִֹיתִי אֶרֶץ וְאָדָם עָלֶיהָ בָרָאתִי אֲנִי יָדַי נָטוּ שָׁמַיִם וְכָל-צְבָאָם צִוֵּיתִי)”

Cross references for Isaiah 45:10-12: Ge 1:1, 26–27; 2:1; Ne 9:6; Job 9:8; 38:32; Ps 8:6; 104:2; 149:2; Is 1:4; 8:19; 19:25; 29:13–18, 23; 41:23; 42:5; 43:15; 44:2, 24; 45:18; 48:13, 17; 51:13; 54:5; 60:21; 64:8; Je 18:2–12; 19:9–15; 27:5; 31:9; Eze 39:7; Sir 33:11–18; 1 Esd 1:1–18; Ro 9:30–33

In these verses from the Hebrew Bible on Isaiah 45:10-12, there are several interesting points that can be derived from the Hebrew words and their meanings. In verse 10 we read הוֹי אֹמֵר לְאָב (hoy omer l’av) which means “Woe to him who says to his father.” Notice how this is questioning the Father who is in heaven. The word הוֹי (hoy) is an expression of woe or lamentation. So, one is lamenting what God has done, and not rejoicing in what God has done. This sets the tone for the rest of the verse, warning those who question God’s actions. The phrase מַה-תּוֹלִיד (mah tolid) means “What birthed you?” The verse is a warning to those who question the actions and plans of God. Isaiah goes on in verse 11 saying, יְהֹוָה קְדוֹשׁ יִשְֹרָאֵל וְיוֹצְרוֹ הָאֹתִיּוֹת שְׁאָלוּנִי עַל-בָּנַי וְעַל-פֹּעַל יָדַי תְּצַוֻּנִי (YHVH kadosh Yisrael veyotzero ha’otiot she’alunni al bany veal po’al yaday tzavuni) which means “Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: ‘Ask Me about My children, and about the work of My hands command Me.'” Here there is a calling to remembrance of what God has done, how He has worked in the lives of His people. The phrase וְעַל-פֹּעַל יָדַי (ve’al po’al yaday) means “and about the work of My hands” this emphasizes that God is the Creator and encourages us to seek what the Lord God is doing in our lives. Finally, in verse 12 we read, אָנֹכִי עָשִֹיתִי אֶרֶץ וְאָדָם עָלֶיהָ בָרָאתִי אֲנִי יָדַי נָטוּ שָׁמַיִם וְכָל-צְבָאָם צִוֵּיתִי which states, “I have made the earth, and created man upon it. I, My hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.” This verse emphasizes that God is the Creator of the earth and man. He also created the heavens and all their hosts. This verse shows God’s power and authority over all creation.There are no direct parallels to these verses in the NT. However, the concept of God as the Creator and ultimate authority over His creation is a recurring theme throughout both the Hebrew Bible and the NT texts. Note the following: 

Matthew 6:33  
6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (KJV ζητεῖτε δὲ πρῶτον τὴν βασιλείαν [τοῦ θεοῦ] καὶ τὴν δικαιοσύνην αὐτοῦ, καὶ ταῦτα πάντα προστεθήσεται ὑμῖν.)

Here Yeshua speaks about the need for our seeking the kingdom of God, and this parallels the idea of God’s guidance according to Isaiah 45:11. Notice how in Isaiah 45:10, that God is not just the Creator, He is also described as our Father. An important point about the gender of God here according to Isaiah, that God is described as our Father as opposed to our mother. This is significant because of what we know about the Middle Eastern religions, they had “mother goddesses” in the fertility religions, and so it is important to realize there is no parallel to the Creator God of Israel to a mother. This is why Isaiah writes וּלְאִשָּׁה “to a woman” in Isaiah 45:10 as opposed to the word mother (אמא). Verses 11-12 speak of asking the Lord God about what is to come, and of His position as the authority over His people, the world, and history. Note the contrast here with God being the creator craftsman whereas the idol god man is the craftsman as opposed to the god they are creating. This again demonstrates how the false gods and the false ways all are reversed in relation from the truth. The truth is twisted, distorted, and confused! The God of Israel is the Creator, it is by His hand that He stretched out the heavens and made the earth. The Lord God is in the position to command the work of His hands, whereas the idol god that is manufactured, has no way of performing anything because these are simply wood, stone, and metal images who cannot see, speak, hear, or think. And those who make them become exactly like them! 

Rabbinic Commentary on Isaiah 45:7-12

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 מה:ז-יב
ז  דְאַתְקִין נְהוֹר וּבָרֵי חֲשׁוֹךְ עֲבֵיד שְׁלָם וּבָרֵי בִישׁ אֲנָא יְיָ עָבֵיד כֹּל אִלֵין: ח  יְשַׁמְשׁוּן שְׁמַיָא מִלְעֵלָא וַעֲנָנַיָא יִגְדוּן טוּבָא תִּתְפְּתַח אַרְעָא וְיֵחוּן מֵתַיָא וּזְכוּתָא תִתְגְלֵי כַּחֲדָא אֲנָא יְיָ בְּרֵיתִינוּן: ט  וַי דִי מִדַמֵי לְמֵידָן לִקֳבֵל פִּתְגָמֵי בָרְיֵהּ וְרָחַץ דְיוֹטְבִין לֵיהּ צַלְמֵי פַחֲרָא דְעָבְדִין מֵעֲפַר אַדְמָתָא הֲאֶפְשַׁר דְיֵימַר טִינָא לְעָבְדֵהּ לָא עֲבַדְתַּנִי וְעוֹבָדָךְ לֵית יְדִין לֵיהּ: י  וַי דַאֲמַר לְאָב מַה תּוֹלִיד וּלְאִתְּתָא מַה תֶּעְדִין: יא  כִּדְנַן אֲמַר יְיָ קַדִישָׁא דְיִשְׂרָאֵל וּדְאַתְקְנֵהּ אַתְיָא דַעֲתִידִין לְמֵיתֵי אַתּוּן שָׁאֲלִין מִן קֳדָמַי עַל עַמִי וְעַל עוֹבַד גְבוּרְתִּי תְּפַקְדוּנַנִי: יב  אֲנָא בְּמֵימְרִי עֲבַדֵת אַרְעָא וֶאֱנָשָׁא עֲלָהּ בְּרִיתִי אֲנָא בִּגְבוּרְתִּי תְּלֵית שְׁמַיָא וְכָל חֵילֵיהוֹן שֵׁכְלֵילִית:

Targum Jonathan son of Uziel Isaiah 45:7-12
45:7 Who prepares the light, and creates darkness, makes peace, and creates punishment for evil. I the Lord do all these things. 45:8 Let the heavens drop down from above, and the clouds flow with good, let the earth open itself, and the dead live, and let righteousness be revealed together; I the Lord have created them. 45:9 Woe to him who thinks of striving against the words of his Creator, and trusts that the images of a potter shall do him good, which are made out of the dust of the earth. Is it possible, that the clay could say to him that worketh it, Thou hast not made me? or thy work, He hath no hands? 45:10 Woe to him that saith to his father, What begettest thou? and to his mother, What hast thou brought forth? 45:11 Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and He that formed him, Ye question me about things concerning my people, which shall come to pass; and will ye command me concerning the work of my power? 45:12 It is I who have made the earth by my WORD, and I have created man upon it; it is I who have suspended the heavens by my power, and I have laid the foundation of all the hosts of them. (TgJ)

ספר ישעיה פרק מה
ז   יוֹצֵר אוֹר וּבוֹרֵא חֹשֶׁךְ עֹשֶֹה שָׁלוֹם וּבוֹרֵא רָע אֲנִי יְהֹוָה עֹשֶֹה כָל-אֵלֶּה:       
לוגוס
ז      דְאַתקֵין נֵיהֹור וּבָרֵי חְשֹוך עָבֵיד שְלָם וּבָרֵי בִיש אְנָא יוי עָבֵיד כָל אִלֵין׃ 
ספריה
ז  דְאַתְקִין נְהוֹר וּבָרֵי חֲשׁוֹךְ עֲבֵיד שְׁלָם וּבָרֵי בִישׁ אֲנָא יְיָ עָבֵיד כֹּל אִלֵין: 

Isaiah opens according to the TgJ in Isaiah 45:7 saying the following, ז  דְאַתְקִין נְהוֹר וּבָרֵי חֲשׁוֹךְ עֲבֵיד שְׁלָם וּבָרֵי בִישׁ אֲנָא יְיָ עָבֵיד כֹּל אִלֵין: 45:7 Who prepares the light, and creates darkness, makes peace, and creates punishment for evil. I the Lord do all these things. (TgJ) Here it is obvious how parallelism is used to emphasize God’s power and sovereignty. For example, the verse states, “I form the light, and create darkness, I make peace, and create evil, I the LORD do all these things.” This parallelism highlights God’s power and control over all things. Here the Aramaic translation is very similar to the Hebrew text. We note how creating light can be a reference to the revelation of God, and creating darkness can be related to God giving someone over to what they want to live in sin and reap the consequences. The TgJ highlights the specific outcomes of peace and punishment due to those who choose to live in God’s plan for their lives or those who reject God’s plan for their lives, respectively. The term evil (בִיש) in both the Hebrew bible and the Targum can be understood as calamity or adversity and is not a reference to moral evil. By recognizing these things, we understand that God has a multifaceted role as Lord and Creator, which encourages us to trust in Him. Peace is not merely the absence of conflict but a state of inner being where the indwelling Spirit of God confirms that our lives are aligning with God’s purpose, with His Words. This challenges us to continue in the Word of God daily. We note that the Messiah of God brings peace, and the Messiah is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6; Luke 2:14). These things resonate with the sovereignty, peace, and redemptive work of God that is extant throughout the entire biblical narrative. This is how Paul is able to write that in the Lord God all things work together for good for those that love Him. (Romans 8:28) Notice how this is also consistent with the Torah from Shemot / Exodus 20:1-6 how God blesses those who love Him and keep His commands! These insights enrich our understanding of Scripture and inform or instruct us in our daily walk with God. We note how it is the Lord God Almighty who gives us spiritual enlightenment, which is how the rabbis discuss this verse from Isaiah 45:7 in relation to God and His people. 

Shenei Luchot HaBerit, Torah Shebikhtav, Lech Lecha, Torah Ohr 47
ועל ענין הנ”ל שהלך אברם ממולדתו ומבית אביו שהם חכמות חיצונית כדפירש בזוהר (עי’ רעיא מהימנא ח”ג רטז, ב), ויוצא אותו החוצה (בראשית טו, ה), מחוצה לארץ. אמר (שם יב, ו) ויעבור אברם בארץ, פירש רש”י, נכנס לתוכה. כי כן הוא באמת נכנס לפנימותה. והנה כתוב אח”כ (שם י) וירד אברהם מצרימה וכו’, ואח”כ כתוב (שם יג, א) ויעל אברם כו’. כתיב (ישעיה מה, ז) יתרון אור מחושך, כי לא נודע היתרונות של אור אלא מכח חושך, כי אם לא היה חושך לא היה האור ניכר, על כן ירד אברם למצרים, כי מצרים היתה מרכבת המשנה כמו שרמזו רבותינו ז”ל (עי’ כתובות קיב, א) מצרים שניה לארץ ישראל, ובחן אברהם שם חכמתא המרובה. אח”כ ויעל משם, וכל עליותיו היו לדרום ואמרו רז”ל (ב”ב כה, ב) הרוצה להחכים ידרים, ונכנס בארץ בחכמה אמיתית השגה אלהיות הדבקה בו, ואז ראה והבין יתרון האור:
On 12,6 “Abraham traversed the land,” Rashi comments נכנס לתוכה, “he entered into it.” This is most appropriate, since Abraham began to understand the inner significance of ארץ ישראל. Later on we read in 12, 10 that Abraham descended (into Egypt) and subsequently (13, 1) that he ascended from Egypt. The Torah teaches that one does not recognise the advantage of light over darkness until one has experienced the latter. This was Abraham’s experience in Egypt, [when he came from Charan his arrival in the land of Canaan is described only as “Abraham went…..they came to the land of Canaan (12,4/5), not a word about an עליה, an ascent. Ed.]. Egypt was considered a secondary מרכבה, as is alluded to in Genesis 41,43 when Joseph rides in מרכבת המשנה, “Pharaoh’s number two state coach.” Our sages understand these words as referring to the fact that next to the land of Israel, Egypt serves as an alternate מרכבה for G–d’s Presence. The Zohar (Sullam edition Parshat Mikeitz page 23) describes it thus: G–d has a מרכבה עליונה and a מרכבה תחתונה. The latter one is called מרכבת המשנה, “the secondary carrier.” Abraham utilized all the great wisdom he had acquired while he was in Egypt. Afterwards he ascended “southward” (13,1). Our sages have taught us the principle that “anyone who wishes to acquire wisdom should turn southward” (Baba Batra 28). Thus when Abraham returned to the “South” of the land of Canaan he began to learn the “real” wisdom, an appreciation of Jewish theology. It was then that he began to appreciate the real advantage of spiritual light over spiritual darkness.

Here the rabbis are speaking of things beyond the physical boundaries of ארץ ישראל (land of Israel) and are looking at the deeper metaphysical meaning that Abraham began to understand the inner significance of ארץ ישראל. Note how biblically speaking, the inner significance of the ארץ ישראל is deeply intertwined with Torah commands, obedience, and the pursuit of a relationship with God. The Torah also mentions that remaining in the Land of Israel (ארץ ישראל) is dependent upon listening to the instructions of God which include commandments, statutes, and ethical guidelines for living a moral life. Disobedience to God’s word leads to the land rejecting its inhabitants. The Torah provides a comprehensive framework for daily life, covering aspects such as worship, morality, justice, and relationships and living our lives according to God’s word is understood as an act of devotion to God. It reflects a desire to align one’s life with God’s will. The conclusion of this midrash is that the events of Abraham’s life and his understanding of the deeper meaning of ארץ ישראל was to learn and appreciate the real advantage of spiritual light over spiritual darkness. It is the Lord God Almighty who gives spiritual light, and when we walk away from God’s holy and righteous ways, we receive spiritual darkness. The history of Israel demonstrates this along with the mercy and grace of God allowing sufficient time to repent and turn from sin and idolatry. The Land of Israel is described as holy (Shemot / Exodus 3:5) and its holiness stems from its connection or association with God’s presence and promises. So, the conclusion is that those who seek the God of Israel and to walk in His holy ways, the individuals deepen their relationship with God, and this is a tangible expression of faith, meaning that our faith becomes something that others will become aware of as a testimony of the work of God in our lives!

Note how this commentary speaks of spiritual enlightenment being connected to the peace of God. The peace of God is deeply rooted in the Scriptures and is connected to one’s relationship with God. The concept of spiritual light differs from this concept given from other religions, since the other religions derive their concept of spiritual peace from different sources, such as meditation, or self-realization, or following some path. The peace that is from God is something that is given from above and is described as something that transcends all understanding. The peace of God is so powerful, it changes lives, and this is why those who come to faith in the Messiah Yeshua their lives are changed for the good of society and others. Note how stark contrast this is compared to the adherents of Islam or other religions. The Muslim who is faithful will begin a war with nations and others and have no love or care for their enemies, only hatred, murders, and raping of the innocent (immorality). Their god and religious text (quran) does not teach being at peace with others, but to strike the heads of the infidels instead. This is why the biblical understanding of peace and life is so drastically different from other religions. The evidence or proof for this is found in the NT text where, for example, Paul’s letters frequently begin with the greeting, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” in Philippians 4:7 which emphasizes that God’s peace guards our hearts and minds in the Messiah, or in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 that speaks of sanctification through God’s peace, etc. Akeidat Yitzchak 87:1:4 wrote “Peace and harmony are trademarks of G’ds creation and handiwork. Nothing is functional or endures in this universe unless it represents the successful merging of a variety of elements. Death, destruction, and decomposition are the dissolution of this process of harmony, peace and collaboration which enabled any creature or object to perform its function previously.” The rabbis also emphasize the importance of peace. For example, Midrash Bereshit Rabbah 3:8 states that Rabbi Yitzḥak and Rabbi Neḥemya discuss the creation of light. Rabbi Yitzḥak likens it to a king building a palace in a dark location. The king kindles lamps to determine how to lay the foundation. Similarly, light was created first. Rabbi Neḥemya, however, asserts that the world was created first, analogous to a king adorning a palace with lamps and lanterns. This debate connects the concept of light to the act of creation and understanding spiritual truth. It is also stated that in the beginning God created light out of the darkness where the verse “God said: Let there be light” (Bereshit / Genesis 1:3) is interpreted as enlightening and bringing understanding to the simple. Midrasy Bereshit Rabbah 22:2 emphasizes the importance of peace. It states that if one aspires to create peace, it is as though they themselves created it. The verse “with peace, with peace” (Isaiah 26:3) underscores the significance of maintaining peace. Even if one believes it is beyond their control, the verse reminds them that they can rely on themselves. The Torah text itself according to Bereshit / Genesis 1:1-6:8 states that the creation of mankind in the image of God, male and female, reflects the interconnectedness of peace and spiritual truth. When God created humans, it was an act of harmony and balance, emphasizing the importance of peace in understanding our spiritual nature. There are many more references that one can explore, but these few demonstrate how the rabbinic sources connect peace to knowing spiritual truth about God and do so highlighting God’s role in creation and the enlightenment process. In addition, peace is not merely a passive state but an active one that aligns with God’s purposes and intentions which leads to understanding and truth, love and peace, righteousness and holiness!

ספר ישעיה פרק מה
ח   הַרְעִיפוּ שָׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל וּשְׁחָקִים יִזְּלוּ-צֶדֶק תִּפְתַּח-אֶרֶץ וְיִפְרוּ-יֶשַׁע וּצְדָקָה תַצְמִיחַ יַחַד אֲנִי יְהֹוָה בְּרָאתִיו:       ט   הוֹי רָב אֶת-יֹצְרוֹ חֶרֶשֹ אֶת-חַרְשֵֹי אֲדָמָה הֲיֹאמַר חֹמֶר לְיֹצְרוֹ מַה-תַּעֲשֶֹה וּפָעָלְךָ אֵין-יָדַיִם לוֹ:       י   הוֹי אֹמֵר לְאָב מַה-תּוֹלִיד וּלְאִשָּׁה מַה-תְּחִילִין:       יא   כֹּה-אָמַר יְהֹוָה קְדוֹשׁ יִשְֹרָאֵל וְיוֹצְרוֹ הָאֹתִיּוֹת שְׁאָלוּנִי עַל-בָּנַי וְעַל-פֹּעַל יָדַי תְּצַוֻּנִי: 
לוגוס
ח      יְשַמְשוּן שְמַיָא מִלְעֵילָא וַעְנָנַיָא יִגְדוּן טוּבָא תִתפְתַח אַרעָא וְיֵיחֹון מִיתַיָא וְזָכוּתָא תִתגְלֵי כַחדָא אְנָא יוי בְרֵיתִינוּן׃ ט      יֵי דִמדַמֵי לִמדָן לֳקבֵיל פִתגָמֵי בָרֹוהִי וּרחִיץ דְיֹוטְבוּן לֵיה צַלמֵי פַחָרָא דַעְבִידִין מֵעְפַר אְדַמתָא הְאִפשָר דְיֵימַר טִינָא לְעָבְדֵיה לָא עְבַדתָנִי וְעוּבָדָך לֵית יְדִין לֵיה׃ י     יֵי דְאָמַר לְאָב מָא תֹולֵיד וּלאִיתְתָא מָא תְעַדַן׃ יא     כִדנָן אְמַר יוי קַדִישָא דְיִשׂרָאֵל וּדאַתקְנֵיה דַעְתִידָן לְמֵיתֵי אַתוּן שָאְלִין מִן קֳדָמַי עַל עַמִי וְעַל עֹובָד גְבוּרְתִי תְפַקְדוּנַנִי׃ 
ספריה
ח  יְשַׁמְשׁוּן שְׁמַיָא מִלְעֵלָא וַעֲנָנַיָא יִגְדוּן טוּבָא תִּתְפְּתַח אַרְעָא וְיֵחוּן מֵתַיָא וּזְכוּתָא תִתְגְלֵי כַּחֲדָא אֲנָא יְיָ בְּרֵיתִינוּן: ט  וַי דִי מִדַמֵי לְמֵידָן לִקֳבֵל פִּתְגָמֵי בָרְיֵהּ וְרָחַץ דְיוֹטְבִין לֵיהּ צַלְמֵי פַחֲרָא דְעָבְדִין מֵעֲפַר אַדְמָתָא הֲאֶפְשַׁר דְיֵימַר טִינָא לְעָבְדֵהּ לָא עֲבַדְתַּנִי וְעוֹבָדָךְ לֵית יְדִין לֵיהּ: י  וַי דַאֲמַר לְאָב מַה תּוֹלִיד וּלְאִתְּתָא מַה תֶּעְדִין: יא  כִּדְנַן אֲמַר יְיָ קַדִישָׁא דְיִשְׂרָאֵל וּדְאַתְקְנֵהּ אַתְיָא דַעֲתִידִין לְמֵיתֵי אַתּוּן שָׁאֲלִין מִן קֳדָמַי עַל עַמִי וְעַל עוֹבַד גְבוּרְתִּי תְּפַקְדוּנַנִי: 

Isaiah goes on saying the following according to the TgJ saying, ח  יְשַׁמְשׁוּן שְׁמַיָא מִלְעֵלָא וַעֲנָנַיָא יִגְדוּן טוּבָא תִּתְפְּתַח אַרְעָא וְיֵחוּן מֵתַיָא וּזְכוּתָא תִתְגְלֵי כַּחֲדָא אֲנָא יְיָ בְּרֵיתִינוּן: 45:8 Let the heavens drop down from above, and the clouds flow with good, let the earth open itself, and the dead live, and let righteousness be revealed together; I the Lord have created them. ט  וַי דִי מִדַמֵי לְמֵידָן לִקֳבֵל פִּתְגָמֵי בָרְיֵהּ וְרָחַץ דְיוֹטְבִין לֵיהּ צַלְמֵי פַחֲרָא דְעָבְדִין מֵעֲפַר אַדְמָתָא הֲאֶפְשַׁר דְיֵימַר טִינָא לְעָבְדֵהּ לָא עֲבַדְתַּנִי וְעוֹבָדָךְ לֵית יְדִין לֵיהּ: 45:9 Woe to him who thinks of striving against the words of his Creator, and trusts that the images of a potter shall do him good, which are made out of the dust of the earth. Is it possible, that the clay could say to him that worketh it, Thou hast not made me? or thy work, He hath no hands? י  וַי דַאֲמַר לְאָב מַה תּוֹלִיד וּלְאִתְּתָא מַה תֶּעְדִין: 45:10 Woe to him that saith to his father, What begettest thou? and to his mother, What hast thou brought forth? יא  כִּדְנַן אֲמַר יְיָ קַדִישָׁא דְיִשְׂרָאֵל וּדְאַתְקְנֵהּ אַתְיָא דַעֲתִידִין לְמֵיתֵי אַתּוּן שָׁאֲלִין מִן קֳדָמַי עַל עַמִי וְעַל עוֹבַד גְבוּרְתִּי תְּפַקְדוּנַנִי: 45:11 Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and He that formed him, Ye question me about things concerning my people, which shall come to pass; and will ye command me concerning the work of my power? (TgJ) The Targum Jonathan translation of Isaiah 45:8-11 differs from the Hebrew Bible translation in a few ways, primarily in the use of Aramaic words instead of Hebrew. Here are the notable differences:

Notable Differences between the Aramaic and Hebrew Translations

  • In verse 8, the Hebrew word שְׁמַיָא (shamayah) is translated as שְׁמֵי מִלְעֵלָא (shamei mil’elah) for “heavens” and וַעֲנָנַיָא (v’ananayah) for “clouds.” The Hebrew word טוּבָא (tovah) is translated as טוּבָא תִּתְפְּתַח (tovah tiftach) for “drop down good.” The Hebrew word יְחוּן (yeichun) is translated as יֵחוּן מֵתַיָא (yeichun metayah) for “let the dead live.”
  • In verse 10, the Hebrew word מַה (mah) is translated as מַה תּוֹלִיד (mah tolid) for “What begettest thou?” and מַה תֶּעְדִין (mah te’edin) for “What hast thou brought forth?”
  • In verse 11, the Hebrew word עַל בני (al beni) is translated as עַל עַמִי וְעַל עוֹבַד גְבוּרְתִּי (al ami ve’al ovad gevurati) for “against my people and against my power.”

These differences do not significantly alter the interpretation and application of Isaiah 45:8-11 to our lives. Both translations emphasize God’s power and might in creating the heavens and the earth, and His sovereignty over all creation. There are several verses in the New Testament that echo the themes found in Isaiah 45:8-11, including, John 1:3, which states, “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” Colossians 1:16-17, which says, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Hebrews 1:2-3, which says, “But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” These verses demonstrate the overlapping themes that can be found in the NT such as in the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and elsewhere. For example, Isaiah 45:8 states,  ח  יְשַׁמְשׁוּן שְׁמַיָא מִלְעֵלָא וַעֲנָנַיָא יִגְדוּן טוּבָא תִּתְפְּתַח אַרְעָא וְיֵחוּן מֵתַיָא וּזְכוּתָא תִתְגְלֵי כַּחֲדָא אֲנָא יְיָ בְּרֵיתִינוּן: 45:8 Let the heavens drop down from above, and the clouds flow with good, let the earth open itself, and the dead live, and let righteousness be revealed together; I the Lord have created them. (TgJ) Note the themes of the earth opening up, the dead living, and the righteous being revealed are extant in the NT text, and so the NT may have been influenced by or drawn upon the Isaiah verses and those which pertain to the power of God and of His Messiah. We note how the concept of God’s creative power and His desire for relationship is echoed in passages like John 1:1-3 and Colossians 1:16.  Targum Jonathan definitely enriches our understanding of God’s character and His interaction with us and encourages us to seek the Lord God of Israel and His Messiah, and to trust in His righteousness and redemptive work. 

Rashi writes the following concerning Isaiah 45:11.

Rashi on Isaiah 45:11 Parts 1-2
האותיות שאלוני וגו’. ה”א נקודה קמץ למדת שאינה תמיהה וכן פירשו אם באתם לשאול לי אתם הנביאים שאלוני על אותות שמי’ ומופתי’ אשר אתם רואים נולדים בארץ עליהם היו שואלים אותי מה הם אבל על בני ועל פועל ידי ישרים שבשבילם יצרתי את הכל אתם באים לצוותי ולקרוא לפני תגר:
Ask Me about the signs etc. Heb. הָאוֹתִיוֹת. The ‘heh’ is voweled with a ‘kamatz.’ This indicates that it is not the interrogative, but this is its explanation: If you have come to ask Me, you and the prophets, ask Me about the signs of the heavens and the wonders that you see coming about on the earth; about them you may ask Me, what they are, but about My children and about the work of My hands, Israel, for whose sake I formed everything, shall you come to command Me and to complain before Me?
תצוני. תמוה הוא וכי עליכם לצוות על בני אני כבר בראתי להם הישועה במחשבה שעלתה לפני כיצד אנכי העירותיהו בצדק על כורש הוא אומר:
do you command Me? This is the interrogative. Must you command Me concerning My children? I have already created the salvation for them in the thought that has entered My mind [lit. has come before Me]. How so? I aroused him with righteousness. This is stated regarding Cyrus.

Rashi seems to be drawing out this idea of people not being content with what God has done for them. Here in Isaiah 45:11, he addresses the issue of commanding God concerning His children, Israel. This speaks to those who seek their own way to salvation because it highlights the importance of understanding and respecting God’s will and plan for His people. Rashi emphasizes that God has already created a plan and way of salvation for His children according to His Word and that one is to seek God in His Word for this path of truth and salvation. In the context of the near future fulfillment of these verses, God has aroused Cyrus to make war to fulfill His purpose. For those who want to seek their own way to salvation, this commentary serves as a reminder that it is crucial to align oneself with God’s will and plan, rather than attempting to command or dictate the terms of salvation. By trusting and following God’s guidance, individuals can find the true path to salvation, as demonstrated through God’s plans for His chosen people, Israel. When we align ourselves with God’s will and plan, we can experience inner peace knowing that we are following the path God has designed for us. By seeking God’s guidance and understanding His purpose for our lives, we can find true peace and fulfillment. Rashi’s emphasis on God’s plan for His chosen people, Israel, serves as a reminder that God has a plan for each person and that seeking this plan can lead to a life that is pleasing to the Lord and empowered for His glory. Rashi’s commentary on Isaiah 45:11 helps us to realize the importance of seeking God’s guidance and aligning oneself with His plan, which ultimately leads to finding true peace in life.

ספר ישעיה פרק מה
יב   אָנֹכִי עָשִֹיתִי אֶרֶץ וְאָדָם עָלֶיהָ בָרָאתִי אֲנִי יָדַי נָטוּ שָׁמַיִם וְכָל-צְבָאָם צִוֵּיתִי:
לוגוס
יב     אְנָא בְמֵימְרִי עְבַדִית אַרעָא וַאְנָשָא עְלַה בְרֵיתִי אְנָא בִגבוּרְתִי תְלֵית שְמַיָא וְכָל חֵילֵיהֹון שַכלְלֵית׃
ספריה
יב  אֲנָא בְּמֵימְרִי עֲבַדֵת אַרְעָא וֶאֱנָשָׁא עֲלָהּ בְּרִיתִי אֲנָא בִּגְבוּרְתִּי תְּלֵית שְׁמַיָא וְכָל חֵילֵיהוֹן שֵׁכְלֵילִית:

Isaiah states the following according to Isaiah 45:12 from the TgJ, יב  אֲנָא בְּמֵימְרִי עֲבַדֵת אַרְעָא וֶאֱנָשָׁא עֲלָהּ בְּרִיתִי אֲנָא בִּגְבוּרְתִּי תְּלֵית שְׁמַיָא וְכָל חֵילֵיהוֹן שֵׁכְלֵילִית:45:12 It is I who have made the earth by my WORD, and I have created man upon it; it is I who have suspended the heavens by my power, and I have laid the foundation of all the hosts of them. (TgJ) In the Targum Jonathan translation of Isaiah 45:12, there are a few notable differences from the Hebrew Bible translation. For example, the use of the word גָּבַרְתִּי (gevurati) instead of כֹחִי (koachi) for “my power.” This change emphasizes God’s strength and might in creating the heavens and the earth. The use of the word חֵילֵיהוֹן (cheyaleihen) instead of כָל חֵילֵיהוֹ (kol cheyaleihen) for “all the hosts of them.” This change emphasizes the vastness and complexity of the heavenly bodies and the hosts of them, which God created. Although there are differences in wording between the Targum Jonathan translation and the Hebrew Bible translation, these differences do not significantly alter the interpretation and application of Isaiah 45:12 to our lives. Both translations emphasize God’s power and might in creating the earth and the heavens and His sovereignty over all creation. 

In the New Testament, there are several verses that echo the themes found in Isaiah 45:12. For example, Colossians 1:16-17, which states, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Hebrews 1:2-3, which says, “But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” These New Testament verses reflect the same themes of God’s power and sovereignty over creation, emphasizing the importance of recognizing and acknowledging God’s authority in our lives.

Rashi writes the following concerning Isaiah 45:12.

Rashi on Isaiah 45:12 Part 1
אנכי עשיתי ארץ. ונתתיה לאשר ישר בעיני:
I made the earth and gave it to whoever pleased Me [lit. was straight in My eyes].

Here Rashi speaks of the earth being created and given to those who please the Lord. In both the Bible and rabbinic literature, there is a concept that the earth was created with a purpose, and one interpretation is that it was created for the righteous. The following is a list of biblical and rabbinic sources that discuss his further:

Biblical References for God giving the Earth to the Righteous

  • Bereshit / Genesis 1:31: “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”
  • Isaiah 57:12: “I will declare your righteousness and your deeds, but they will not profit you.”
  • Tehillim / Psalm 37:29: “The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell upon it forever.”
  • Tehillim / Psalm 115:16: “The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.”
  • Mishley / Proverbs 2:21-22: “For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it; But the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.”
  • Mishley / Proverbs 10:30: “The righteous will never be removed, but the wicked will not dwell in the land.”

Rabbinic References for God giving the Earth to the Righteous

  • Midrash Genesis Rabbah 8:5: Explores the idea of God surveying the deeds of the righteous before creation.
  • Midrash Genesis Rabbah 12:9: “The righteous are called ‘trees of life,’ as it is written, ‘And the righteous shall flourish like a palm tree.’ The wicked, on the other hand, are called ‘trees of the field,’ as it is written, ‘And the wicked are like the troubled sea.'”
  • Talmud Berakhot 61b: “The world was created only for the sake of the righteous.”
  • Talmud Sanhedrin 98b: “Rabbi Akiva said, ‘The world was created for the righteous, and it is they who sustain it.'”
  • Talmud Chagigah 12a: “Rabbi Eliezer says, ‘The world was created for the sake of the righteous, and the wicked have no share in it.'”

The Scriptures do explicitly state that the earth was given to the righteous in the concept of inheriting the land and dwelling forever (Tehillim / Psalms 37:29). In the Book of Genesis, during the account of creation, God declares that everything He made is good (Bereshit / Genesis 1:31). This goodness suggests a purposeful design. Tehillim / Psalm 115:16 states: “The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.” This verse implies that the earth was intended for human habitation. And Mishley / Proverbs 10:30 reinforces the idea that the righteous will inherit the earth: “The righteous will never be removed, but the wicked will not dwell in the land.” These scriptures support Rashi’s interpretation. The rabbinic sources expand upon these biblical themes and provide additional insights into the interpretations, such as in the Talmudic Literature, the Babylonian Talmud contains discussions about the purpose of creation. It emphasizes the importance of righteous deeds and ethical behavior. For example, in Berakhot 61b, it is said that “the world was created only for the sake of the righteous.” The Midrashic Literature also elaborates on the biblical texts and often explores deeper meanings. In Genesis Rabbah 8:5, it is suggested that God surveyed the deeds of the righteous before creating the world. Also, Noah in Rabbinic Literature is the man whose faith saved humanity and animals during the flood and is seen as a righteous man. Note how in the Rabbinic literature, such as Genesis Rabbah, elaborates on Noah’s role and emphasizes his righteousness in preserving life. Note also how this led to Noah the righteous inheriting the earth. In summary, while the Bible does imply that the earth was created exclusively for the righteous, both biblical and rabbinic literature emphasize the significance of righteous behavior and ethical living in fulfilling the divine purpose of creation. This is why God always has a plan for His people, to live in righteousness, holiness, and truth.