We note that in the next six verses from Isaiah 28 we are told that it isn’t just the government leaders that are drunk and foolish, but the religious leaders, the priests, and the prophets are also drunken and foolish. The people believed that Jerusalem could not be destroyed because the Temple stood in Jerusalem assuming the Temple functions as a talisman for good luck. The presence of the Temple does not elicit good luck. It is assumed that since the Temple was not destroyed the people are not sinning to the extent of losing their place in the land or having the Temple of God present in the city. The presence of the Temple is simply the mercy of God and directs us to the idea of what we read according to the Torah description of who God is in Shemot / Exodus 34:6-7.
ספר שמות פרק לד
ו וַיַּעֲבֹר יְהוָֹה | עַל-פָּנָיו וַיִּקְרָא יְהוָֹה | יְהֹוָה אֵל רַחוּם וְחַנּוּן אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם וְרַב-חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת: ז נֹצֵר חֶסֶד לָאֲלָפִים נֹשֵֹא עָוֹן וָפֶשַׁע וְחַטָּאָה וְנַקֵּה לֹא יְנַקֶּה פֹּקֵד | עֲוֹן אָבוֹת עַל-בָּנִים וְעַל-בְּנֵי בָנִים עַל-שִׁלֵּשִׁים וְעַל-רִבֵּעִים:
Shemot / Exodus 34:6-7
34:6 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 34:7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (ESV)
The Lord God our Father in heaven is slow to anger, a truth that is repeated continuously throughout Scripture. The Lord God is not driven by anger or swayed by sin. He is God, He is just, and He is righteous and holy. The Love of God and His mercy are demonstrated in His Son Yeshua and the call for all nations to repent and turn from their sins. Here Isaiah reveals that the religious leadership itself is drunken, even the prophets are corrupted and drunken and foolish in their oracles because their oracles do not include the items of repentance and walking in God’s holy ways. When the religious leaders themselves become hardened to God’s call to truth and life, there are serious problems. For example, such persons learn to reason in their minds how to debunk or overturn the Word of God to believe in nothing (see Hebrews 10:26-31) all while they attempt to look spiritual to everyone around them (see James 3:13-18). Here Isaiah provides his oracle of judgment on the spiritual state of the leadership, which speaks volumes to the integrity of the leadership in his day. The point of the call of God in one’s life is to make disciples. We read the NT imperative according to Matthew 28:19 which states the following:
28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (KJV, ܘܰܩܪܷܒ݂ ܝܶܫܽܘܥ ܁ ܡܰܠܷܠ ܥܰܡܗܽܘܢ ܂ ܘܶܐܡܰܪ ܠܗܽܘܢ ܂ ܐܷܬ݂ܻܝܗܶܒ݂ ܠܻܝ ܟܾ݁ܠ ܫܽܘܠܛܴܢ ܁ ܒܱ݁ܫܡܰܝܳܐ ܘܒ݂ܰܐܪܥܳܐ ܂ ܘܰܐܝܟܱ݁ܢܳܐ ܕ݁ܫܰܕ݁ܪܱܢܝ ܐܴܒ݂ܝ ܂ ܡܫܰܕܱ݁ܪ ܐ̱ܢܳܐ ܠܟ݂ܽܘܢ ܀ܙܶܠܘ ܗܳܟ݂ܺܝܠ ܬܱ݁ܠܡܶܕ݂ܘ ܂ ܟܾ݁ܠܗܽܘܢ ܥܰܡ̄ܡܷ̈ܐ ܂ ܘܰܐܥܡܶܕ݂ܘ ܐܷܢܽܘܢ ܁ ܒ݁ܫܶܡ ܐܱܒ݂ܳܐ ܘܰܒ݂ܪܴܐ ܂ ܘܪܾܘܚܳܐ ܕ݁ܩܽܘܕ݂ܫܳܐ ܂ ܘܰܐܠܷܦ݂ܘ ܐܷܢܽܘܢ ܂ ܕ݁ܢܶܛܪܾܘܢ ܟܾ݁ܠ ܡܳܐ ܕ݁ܦ݂ܰܩܶܕ݁ܬ݁ܟ݂ܽܘܢ ܂ ܘܗܳܐ ܐܷܢܳܐ ܥܰܡܟ݂ܽܘܢ ܐ̱ܢܳܐ ܟܾ݁ܠܗܽܘܢ ܝܱ̈ܘܡܳܬ݂ܴܐ ܁ ܥܕ݂ܰܡܳܐ ܠܫܽܘܠܴܡܶܗ ܕ݁ܥܳܠܡܳܐ ܂ ܐܱܡܺܝܢ ܁܀܁܀܁ 18 καὶ προσελθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς λέγων· ἐδόθη μοι πᾶσα ἐξουσία ἐν ⸀οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ °[τῆς] γῆς. ⸆ 19 πορευθέντες ⸀οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, ⸁βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος, 20 διδάσκοντες αὐτοὺς τηρεῖν πάντα ὅσα ἐνετειλάμην ὑμῖν·* καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ⸉μεθʼ ὑμῶν εἰμι⸊ πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας ἕως τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος.⸆)
Here Yeshua tells his disciples πορευθέντες ⸀οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη “go and make disciples of all nations.” So, the idea here is that Yeshua did not say simply to make converts to the faith, but to make believers, those who would recognize the significance and importance of internalizing God’s holy word and practicing it applying God’s word to their lives. The Mishnah Pirkei Avot has the following to say concerning these things.
Mishnah Pirkei Avot 1:1
משֶׁה קִבֵּל תּוֹרָה מִסִּינַי, וּמְסָרָהּ לִיהוֹשֻׁעַ, וִיהוֹשֻׁעַ לִזְקֵנִים, וּזְקֵנִים לִנְבִיאִים, וּנְבִיאִים מְסָרוּהָ לְאַנְשֵׁי כְנֶסֶת הַגְּדוֹלָה. הֵם אָמְרוּ שְׁלשָׁה דְבָרִים, הֱווּ מְתוּנִים בַּדִּין, וְהַעֲמִידוּ תַלְמִידִים הַרְבֵּה, וַעֲשׂוּ סְיָג לַתּוֹרָה:
Moses received the Torah at Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua, Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets, and the prophets to the Men of the Great Assembly. They said three things: Be patient in [the administration of] justice, raise many disciples and make a fence round the Torah.
The Mishnah describes the idea of discipleship as being quite ancient, beginning with Moshe in the Torah. An even more ancient imperative was to read how Abraham also added people to his numbers being followers / believers in the One true God! The concept of discipleship involves listening to the teacher’s interpretation and explanation of the Scripture. Under Yeshua, the disciples learned his illustrations and interpretive methods. Yeshua said in Luke 6:40 “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.” This means that the disciple would become like his teacher, that he would walk in God’s holy ways just as his teacher did. We note that the concept of discipleship was not meant to raise disciples for themselves. This may be what was taking place in the time of Isaiah, the men looked for men who would emulate them, as opposed to emulating God according to His Torah (Instruction). Yeshua directed us in this direction by saying what he did in Matthew 23:8-10 of there only being one whom we are to follow, that is we are to follow in His footsteps. This concept of discipleship was very important as it is mentioned many times throughout the scriptures in the NT text. (See Acts 6:1, 6:7, 9:1, 9:19, 9:26, 11:26, 13:52, 14:20-22, 14:28, 15:10, 19:1, 20:1, 21:4, 21:6 for a few references) We note the deliverance of God in the Exodus, that He delivered both Jew and Gentile from bondage. Similarly, by faith in Yeshua, disciples are made of all nations, just as Yeshua wrote in Matthew 28:19 (πορευθέντες ⸀οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη) Our discipleship under Yeshua is applied by living out our Master’s instructions, imitating His manner, and memorizing His words, and all of the Word of God. Here Isaiah speaks to the corruption and drunkenness of the religious leadership, who have missed the mark and charge of Moshe to make disciples. Today we can see how this very thing is happening in the body of believers around the world. The leadership has lost the discipleship call to impress upon the people the importance of discipleship. The term disciple is found in the context of the practice of Judaism in Yeshua’s day, and his followers understood what he meant when he said do as I do, and walk in my footsteps. (Matthew 10:38, John 13:15) Isaiah’s warnings are very important for us today, to remember these things, and to not be overcome with pride which leads to ears that do not hear and eyes that do not see.
Isaiah continues saying the following according to Isaiah 28:8.
ספר ישעיה פרק כח
ח כִּי כָּל-שֻׁלְחָנוֹת מָלְאוּ קִיא צֹאָה בְּלִי מָקוֹם:
Isaiah 28:8 states, “For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean. (כִּי כָּל-שֻׁלְחָנוֹת מָלְאוּ קִיא צֹאָה בְּלִי מָקוֹם)” Here Isaiah uses extreme language saying, כִּ֚י כָּל־שֻׁלְחָנֹ֔ות מָלְא֖וּ קִ֣יא צֹאָ֑ה בְּלִ֖י מָקֹֽום׃ ס “all tables, they are full of vomit and excrement.” This provides a sense of horror in relation to the dinner table. Ever since the destruction of the ancient holy temple, the sages tell us that every table in every home has become an altar. In other words, the dining table belongs to us and to God and therefore should be a place to nourish our body, mind and soul in a peaceful setting. This is derived from the Torah according to Shemot / Exodus 24:1-11.
ספר שמות פרק כד
א וְאֶל-מֹשֶׁה אָמַר עֲלֵה אֶל-יְהֹוָה אַתָּה וְאַהֲרֹן נָדָב וַאֲבִיהוּא וְשִׁבְעִים מִזִּקְנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל וְהִשְׁתַּחֲוִיתֶם מֵרָחֹק: ב וְנִגַּשׁ מֹשֶׁה לְבַדּוֹ אֶל-יְהֹוָה וְהֵם לֹא יִגָּשׁוּ וְהָעָם לֹא יַעֲלוּ עִמּוֹ: ג וַיָּבֹא מֹשֶׁה וַיְסַפֵּר לָעָם אֵת כָּל-דִּבְרֵי יְהֹוָה וְאֵת כָּל-הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים וַיַּעַן כָּל-הָעָם קוֹל אֶחָד וַיֹּאמְרוּ כָּל-הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר-דִּבֶּר יְהוָֹה נַעֲשֶֹה: ד וַיִּכְתֹּב מֹשֶׁה אֵת כָּל-דִּבְרֵי יְהֹוָה וַיַּשְׁכֵּם בַּבֹּקֶר וַיִּבֶן מִזְבֵּחַ תַּחַת הָהָר וּשְׁתֵּים עֶשְֹרֵה מַצֵּבָה לִשְׁנֵים עָשָֹר שִׁבְטֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל: ה וַיִּשְׁלַח אֶת-נַעֲרֵי בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל וַיַּעֲלוּ עֹלֹת וַיִּזְבְּחוּ זְבָחִים שְׁלָמִים לַיהוָֹה פָּרִים: ו וַיִּקַּח מֹשֶׁה חֲצִי הַדָּם וַיָּשֶֹם בָּאַגָּנֹת וַחֲצִי הַדָּם זָרַק עַל-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ: ז וַיִּקַּח סֵפֶר הַבְּרִית וַיִּקְרָא בְּאָזְנֵי הָעָם וַיֹּאמְרוּ כֹּל אֲשֶׁר-דִּבֶּר יְהוָֹה נַעֲשֶֹה וְנִשְׁמָע: ח וַיִּקַּח מֹשֶׁה אֶת-הַדָּם וַיִּזְרֹק עַל-הָעָם וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה דַם-הַבְּרִית אֲשֶׁר כָּרַת יְהוָֹה עִמָּכֶם עַל כָּל-הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה: ט וַיַּעַל מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן נָדָב וַאֲבִיהוּא וְשִׁבְעִים מִזִּקְנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל: י וַיִּרְאוּ אֵת אֱלֹהֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל וְתַחַת רַגְלָיו כְּמַעֲשֵֹה לִבְנַת הַסַּפִּיר וּכְעֶצֶם הַשָּׁמַיִם לָטֹהַר: יא וְאֶל-אֲצִילֵי בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל לֹא שָׁלַח יָדוֹ וַיֶּחֱזוּ אֶת-הָאֱלֹהִים וַיֹּאכְלוּ וַיִּשְׁתּוּ:
Shemot / Exodus 24:1-11
24:1 And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off. 24:2 And Moses alone shall come near the LORD: but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him. 24:3 And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do. 24:4 And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 24:5 And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD. 24:6 And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. 24:7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. 24:8 And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words. 24:9 Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: 24:10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. 24:11 And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink. (KJV)
We note how much is going on in these 11 verses, worship to God, Moshe building an altar, offering sacrifices and peace offerings, and sprinkling blood upon the people in confirmation of the covenant, etc. We are then told that Moshe, the priests Aaron and his sons, and the 70 elders all saw God in heaven (his feet) and then they eat and drank. This concept of seeing God and having a holy meal (Shelamim korban) are connected to the idea of the dinner table being an altar before God. Because of this, the blessings are said before and/or after the meal. The full prayer after meals is called the Birkat Hamazon.
Birkat Hamazon, Blessing over the Food
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם הַזָּן אֶת הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ בְּטוּבוֹ בְּחֵן בְּחֶסֶד וּבְרַחֲמִים, הוּא נֹתֵן לֶחֶם לְכָל־בָּשָׂר כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ וּבְטוּבוֹ הַגָּדוֹל תָּמִיד לֹא חָסַר לָנוּ וְאַל יֶחְסַר לָנוּ מָזוֹן (תָּמִיד) לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד בַּעֲבוּר שְׁמוֹ הַגָּדוֹל כִּי הוּא אֵל זָן וּמְפַרְנֵס לַכֹּל וּמֵטִיב לַכֹּל וּמֵכִין מָזוֹן לְכָל־בְּרִיּוֹתָיו אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ הַזָּן אֶת הַכֹּל.
Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who feedest the whole world with thy goodness, with grace, with lovingkindness and tender mercy; thou givest food to all flesh, for thy lovingkindness endureth for ever. Through thy great goodness food hath never failed us: O may it not fail us for ever and ever for thy great name’s sake, since thou nourishest and sustainest all beings and doest good unto all, and providest food for all thy creatures whom thou hast created. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who givest food unto all.
So, it is possible to see the holiness and the blessedness of which the dinner table is to consist of. We can now understand how significant Isaiah’s words are here when he states כִּ֚י כָּל־שֻׁלְחָנֹ֔ות מָלְא֖וּ קִ֣יא צֹאָ֑ה בְּלִ֖י מָקֹֽום׃ ס “all tables, they are full of vomit and excrement.” We note the sacredness of the dinner table in the concept of Kashrut. Kashrut is viewed as a multifaceted Jewish relationship with food that reminds us to integrate ethics, community, and spirituality into our lives. The sacredness of the dinner table rests upon this concept of making an educated choice, that we intentionally choose what we allow into our bodies (note how this ties back to ethics, morals, and spirituality) and how we are to be intentional in our walking in God’s holy and righteous ways! This is the concept of not defiling the wellspring of life that God places within us through His presence. It is possible to poison this through sinful living and willful disobedience to God’s word. Isaiah’s description of כִּ֚י כָּל־שֻׁלְחָנֹ֔ות מָלְא֖וּ קִ֣יא צֹאָ֑ה בְּלִ֖י מָקֹֽום׃ ס “all tables, they are full of vomit and excrement” draws in the idea that the people took their lives into debauchery which is connected to their form of worship. It is quite possible that unrestrained sinfulness led to their ignorance, blindness, and stupidity in regard to what God wants for their lives. Selfish wanton desire is the only outcome of such things, and this is possibly the point of Isaiah repeating the words wine, beer, staggering, drunkenness, etc. Note that the desires of the body are wanton pleasures, and unrelenting demand for greater and greater satisfaction. This kind of lifestyle rules a person in self-indulgence and is the reason why we are told according to the Torah and the NT writings that we are to live with self-restraint and self-discipline, and doing so by walking in God’s ways, being intentional in our actions, all of these things of which Kashrut and the dinner table exemplify!
The priests and prophets were also living this way of drunkenness and sin. For example, the prophets were satisfying their own pride and arrogance through giving the people stories that the people wanted to hear, lies and untruths, messages that were not from God. (See Isaiah 30:10, 2 Samuel 15:27, 2 Chronicles 16:7-10, Amos 7:12–13, Miccah 3:7) In addition, the priests also did the same, walking in their pride they would make both the poor and the rich feel good in their lives as opposed to calling them to repentance. (See Devarim / Deuteronomy 17:8-13, 19:17, Ezekiel 44:24, Hosea 4:4-6) These descriptions could also refer to the cult practices the people integrated into their worship, and using these terms of vomit and excrement are the strongest terms for the unholiness of their actions. The idea here is for a nation that was to be holy (see Devarim / Deuteronomy 7:6-8, 1 Peter 2:9) who was supposed to be committed to God’s holy and righteous ways were walking in pride, self-indulgence, degradation, and filth.
Isaiah continues saying the following according to Isaiah 28:9.
ספר ישעיה פרק כח
ט אֶת-מִי יוֹרֶה דֵעָה וְאֶת-מִי יָבִין שְׁמוּעָה גְּמוּלֵי מֵחָלָב עַתִּיקֵי מִשָּׁדָיִם:
Isaiah 28:9 states, “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. (אֶת-מִי יוֹרֶה דֵעָה וְאֶת-מִי יָבִין שְׁמוּעָה גְּמוּלֵי מֵחָלָב עַתִּיקֵי מִשָּׁדָיִם)” We note that Isaiah uses the word יוֹרֶה for instruction, is the root word for תורה Torah and this is where we get the concept that God’s holy Word is instruction for our lives, having been made holy and righteous through faith, God gave us His word to teach us how to live holy and righteous lives. Without God’s word, it would be impossible to know what it means to live holy and righteous lives. We also note how Isaiah asks the question of who will teach knowledge and cause them to understand the report? The one’s he believes are teachable are those who are גְּמוּלֵי מֵחָלָב עַתִּיקֵי מִשָּׁדָיִם “weaned from milk and weaned from the breast,” referring to children. This agrees with Solomon’s words that a child should be instructed in the way of God’s word, of truth and life from little on up. If he or she is not, then the outcome of one’s life is filled with a lack of understanding and knowledge. The history of Israel reveals how attitude is most important, when people are unrepentant and unconcerned for the truth, they would rather justify their actions, and mock the prophets or the man of God who seeks to call men back to truth and life and away from sin. The interesting thing is that a drunk man is more childish than a child, and this is why such persons lash out at those who bring the Word of God to the people. This is how Yeshua described men in general saying the following according to John 3:19-21
3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 3:21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (KJV, ܗܳܢܰܘ ܕܷ݁ܝܢ ܕܻ݁ܝܢܳܐ ܂ ܕ݁ܢܽܘܗܪܴܐ ܐܷܬ݂ܴܐ ܠܥܳܠܡܳܐ ܆ ܘܰܐܚܶܒ݂ܘ ܒ݁ܢܰܝ̈ܢܳܫܳܐ ܠܚܶܫܽܘܟ݂ܳܐ ܂ ܝܰܬܻ݁ܝܪ ܡܶܢ ܕܱ݁ܠܢܽܘܗܪܴܐ ܂ ܐܻܝܬ݂ܱܝܗܽܘܢ ܗ̄ܘܰܘ ܓܷ݁ܝܪ ܥܒ݂ܳܕ݂ܰܝ̈ܗܽܘܢ ܒܻ݁ܝ̈ܫܶܐ ܂ܟܾ݁ܠ ܓܷ݁ܝܪ ܕ݁ܣܰܢܝܴ̈ܬ݂ܴܐ ܥܳܒ݂ܶܕ݂ ܂ ܣܳܢܶܐ ܠܢܽܘܗܪܴܐ ܂ ܘܠܴܐ ܐܴܬ݂ܷܐ ܠܢܽܘܗܪܴܐ ܂ ܕ݁ܠܴܐ ܢܶܬ݂ܟܱ݁ܣܣܽܘܢ ܥܒ݂ܳܕ݂ܰܘܗ̄ܝ̈ ܂ ܗܰܘ ܕܷ݁ܝܢ ܕ݁ܥܳܒ݂ܶܕ݂ ܫܪܴܪܴܐ ܂ ܐܴܬ݂ܷܐ ܠܘܳܬ݂ ܢܽܘܗܪܴܐ ܂ ܕ݁ܢܶܬ݂ܻܝܕ݂ܥܽܘܢ ܥܒ݂ܳܕ݂ܰܘܗ̄ܝ̈ ܕ݁ܒ݂ܰܐܠܴܗܳܐ ܥܒ݂ܺܝܕ݂ܺܝܢ ܁܀܁܀܁ 19 αὕτη δέ ἐστιν ἡ κρίσις ὅτι* °τὸ φῶς ἐλήλυθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον καὶ ⸉ἠγάπησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι μᾶλλον τὸ σκότος⸊* ἢ τὸ φῶς· ἦν γὰρ ⸉1αὐτῶν πονηρὰ⸊ τὰ ἔργα.* 20 πᾶς γὰρ ὁ φαῦλα πράσσων μισεῖ τὸ φῶς καὶ οὐκ ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα μὴ ἐλεγχθῇ ⸂τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ⸃· * 21 ὁ δὲ ποιῶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα φανερωθῇ αὐτοῦ τὰ ἔργα ὅτι ἐν θεῷ ἐστιν εἰργασμένα.*)
This concept of light and darkness are references to righteousness and unrighteousness. Yeshua speaks of himself as being that light, and of unrighteousness being a function of what one does. Yeshua speaks of those who turn towards sinfulness, pride, and selfish desires hate the light because the light would bring to view their sins. Those however who ποιῶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν “do truth” are those who do God’s will. This boils down to people who genuinely believe in God are those who are willing to put God’s word into practice and are willing to practice the truth. These are those who are truly able to stand firm in their testimony on how God has worked in their lives and to stand firm in the testimonies of God walking in truth and righteousness. The way Isaiah describes these things, people being weaned from milk, he is treating the people like children who do not understand. Pride and arrogance lead to the people thinking that all Isaiah is doing is demeaning them, but the facts are he is calling them back to the righteous ways of God, and calling them to forsake their idols, regardless of what form them may be in.
Isaiah continues saying the following according to Isaiah 28:10.
ספר ישעיה פרק כח
י כִּי צַו לָצָו צַו לָצָו קַו לָקָו קַו לָקָו זְעֵיר שָׁם זְעֵיר שָׁם:
Isaiah 28:10 states, “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: (כִּי צַו לָצָו צַו לָצָו קַו לָקָו קַו לָקָו זְעֵיר שָׁם זְעֵיר שָׁם)” This is an interesting scripture when looking at the Hebrew text. The text comparison of the LXX, MSS, TgJ shows the following:
Here the LXX translates slightly differently from the MSS saying, θλῖψιν ἐπὶ θλῖψιν προσδέχου, ἐλπίδα ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι, ἔτι μικρὸν ἔτι μικρὸν 10 Accept “oppression upon oppression, hope upon hope, yet a little, yet a little,” (LES) speaking of oppression and hope. The Rabbis in the TgJ provide an extensive commentary on this one verse saying, “10 Surely, they were commanded to do the law; but what they were commanded, they were not willing to do. The prophets prophesied unto them, that if they would repent, it should be forgiven them; but they did not obey the words of the prophets: they walked after the desire of their soul, neither did they desire to do my law. They hoped to have idolatrous worship established among them, and they did not consider the worship of the house of my sanctuary: to worship in the house of my sanctuary was as a little thing in their eyes, my Shekinah was as a little thing in their eyes.” (TgJ) The reason the Torah was so unwanted was because as we had explained earlier, the Torah requires self-restraint, while pagan practice requires self-indulgence. The body loves self-indulgence, which is a form of effeminacy in men, to look for pleasures as opposed to self-restraint and discipline! The phrase צַו לָצָו צַו לָצָו these words remind us of the word mitzvah (command) and so may be why the KJV translated as “precept upon precept, precept upon precept.” This could be considered a shortened form of the word for commandment and may be mocking the people who reject God’s holy word. The phrase קַו לָקָו קַו לָקָו denotes a measuring line, and we had mentioned before how God’s word functions as a measuring line for our lives so that we can hit the mark and not miss the mark, the very definition of חטאת (sin). Note that a plumbline was used to determining whether a building was to be repaired or destroyed, the same can be said of us. (2 Kings 21:13, Isaiah 28:17, 34:11, Lamentations 2:8, Amos 7:7-9) Note that for us, in the context of Paul’s writings, we are to die and be reborn!
6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (KJV, ܡܳܢܳܐ ܗܳܟ݂ܺܝܠ ܢܺܐܡܰܪ ܂ ܢܩܰܘܶܐ ܆ ܒܴ݁ܗ ܒܱ݁ܚܛܻܝܬ݂ܴܐ ܕ݁ܛܱܝܒܾ݁ܘܬ݂ܴܐ ܬܷ݁ܬ݂ܝܰܬܱ݁ܪ ܂ܚܳܣ ܂ ܐܱܝܠܷܝܢ ܓܷ݁ܝܪ ܕ݁ܡܺܝܬ݂ܢ ܠܱܚܛܻܝܬ݂ܴܐ ܆ ܐܱܝܟܱ݁ܢܳܐ ܢܺܚܶܐ ܒܴ݁ܗ ܬܾ݁ܘܒ݂ ܂ ܐܱܘ ܠܴܐ ܝܳܕ݂ܥܺܝܢ ܐܢ̄ܬܾ݁ܘܢ ܁ ܕܱ݁ܐܝܠܷܝܢ ܕܱ݁ܥܡܰܕ݂ܢ ܒ݁ܝܶܫܽܘܥ ܡܫܺܝܚܳܐ ܆ ܒ݁ܡܰܘܬܷ݁ܗ ܗ̄ܽܘ ܥܡܰܕ݂ܢ ܂ ܐܷܬ݂ܩܒ݂ܰܪܢ ܥܰܡܶܗ ܒ݁ܡܰܥܡܽܘܕ݂ܺܝܬ݂ܴܐ ܠܡܰܘܬܴ݁ܐ ܂ ܕܱ݁ܐܝܟܱ݁ܢܳܐ ܕ݁ܩܳܡ ܝܶܫܽܘܥ ܡܫܺܝܚܳܐ ܡܶܢ ܒܷ݁ܝܬ݂ ܡܺܝ̈ܬ݂ܷܐ ܒ݁ܬ݂ܷܫܒܾ݁ܘܚܬܴ݁ܐ ܕܱ݁ܐܒ݂ܽܘܗ̄ܝ ܆ ܗܳܟ݂ܰܢܳܐ ܐܴܦ݂ ܚܢܰܢ ܒ݁ܚܰܝܷ̈ܐ ܚܱ̈ܕ݂̄ܬ݂ܷܐ ܢܗܰܠܷܟ݂ ܂ 6 Τί οὖν ἐροῦμεν; ⸀ἐπιμένωμεν τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ, ἵνα ἡ χάρις πλεονάσῃ*; 2 μὴ γένοιτο*. οἵτινες ἀπεθάνομεν τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ, πῶς ἔτι ⸀ζήσομεν ἐν αὐτῇ; 3 ἢ ἀγνοεῖτε ὅτι, ὅσοι ἐβαπτίσθημεν εἰς Χριστὸν* °Ἰησοῦν, εἰς τὸν θάνατον αὐτοῦ ἐβαπτίσθημεν*; 4 συνετάφημεν οὖν αὐτῷ διὰ τοῦ βαπτίσματος εἰς τὸν θάνατον*, ἵνα ὥσπερ ἠγέρθη Χριστὸς ἐκ νεκρῶν διὰ τῆς δόξης τοῦ πατρός*, οὕτως καὶ ἡμεῖς ἐν καινότητι ζωῆς περιπατήσωμεν*)
Note that we must die to our old self and our old ways and by the power of God be raised up to the newness of life. Notice the consistency of Paul’s words with the Isaiah narrative! Putting to death our body, our old ways, is quite difficult without God’s help. And the prideful, the crooked, those who are twisted in their understanding, liberals, do not understand these things!
Isaiah goes on saying the following according to Isaiah 28:11-12.
ספר ישעיה פרק כח
יא כִּי בְּלַעֲגֵי שָֹפָה וּבְלָשׁוֹן אַחֶרֶת יְדַבֵּר אֶל-הָעָם הַזֶּה: יב אֲשֶׁר | אָמַר אֲלֵיהֶם זֹאת הַמְּנוּחָה הָנִיחוּ לֶעָיֵף וְזֹאת הַמַּרְגֵּעָה וְלֹא אָבוּא שְׁמוֹעַ:
Isaiah 28:11 states, “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. (כִּי בְּלַעֲגֵי שָֹפָה וּבְלָשׁוֹן אַחֶרֶת יְדַבֵּר אֶל-הָעָם הַזֶּה)” Isaiah 28:12 “To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. (אֲשֶׁר | אָמַר אֲלֵיהֶם זֹאת הַמְּנוּחָה הָנִיחוּ לֶעָיֵף וְזֹאת הַמַּרְגֵּעָה וְלֹא אָבוּא שְׁמוֹעַ)” So Isaiah is describing the way a drunk person speaks, with slurred speech he says is “stammering lips” (בְּלַעֲגֵי שָֹפָה) We note how God’s word is gentle and easy, loving and carrying, while the drunkard is harsh, slurring words, and so they could not learn the truths of God because of their pride. As a result, rather than learning God’s truth from His word, they would learn from the end of a whip in bondage and oppression. (Isaiah 8:6-8, Devarim / Deuteronomy 32:29, Matthew 23:37-39) We note the Torah description of those who turn from God’s ways according to Devarim / Deuteronomy 28:49, that God will bring a nation of strange language against them. The text comparison on Isaiah 28:11 states the following:
The LXX uses the word γλῶσσα for “tongue, language, speech” This term is used to refer to the tongue as a part of the body (Luke 16:24, Revelation 16:10) or to speech (Mark 7:35, Luke 1:64, James 1:26, 1 John 3:18) and language (Acts 2:11). Several of the references are citations from the LXX (see Acts 2:26 = Psalms 16:9 [LXX 15:9], Romans 3:13 = Psalms 5:9 [5:10]). The ethical teaching of the Tanakh is reflected especially in James, which states that “religion is worthless” if the tongue is not controlled (James 1:26). The writer compares it to a destructive fire (James 3:5–6) and that “it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). This word is also used in the universal confession of Christ as Lord by every tongue according to Philippians 2:11. In 1 Corinthians 14:21, Paul uses this word in relation to speaking in tongues.
1 Corinthians 14:20–21
14:20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. 14:21 In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.(KJV, ܐܱܚܰܝ̈ ܆ ܠܴܐ ܗܘܰܝܬܾ݁ܘܢ ܛܠܷܝܢ ܒ݁ܪܷ̈ܥܝܳܢܰܝܟܾ݁ܘܢ ܂ ܐܷܠܴܐ ܠܒ݂ܺܝ̈ܫܳܬ݂ܴܐ ܗܘܰܘ ܝܱ̈ܠܾܘܕ݂ܶܐ ܆ ܘܰܒ݂ܪܷ̈ܥܝܳܢܰܝܟܾ݁ܘܢ ܗܘܰܘ ܓ݁ܡܺܝܪܻܝܢ ܂ܒ݁ܢܳܡܽܘܣܳܐ ܟ݁ܬ݂ܻܝܒ݂ ܆ ܕܱ݁ܒ݂ܡܰܡܠ̱ܠܴܐ ܢܽܘܟ݂ܪܴܝܳܐ ܁ ܘܰܒ݂ܠܷܫܳܢܳܐ ܐ̱ܚܪܻܢܳܐ ܂ ܐܷܡܰܠܷܠ ܥܰܡܶܗ ܥܰܡ ܥܰܡܳܐ ܗܳܢܳܐ ܂ ܐܴܦ݂ܠܴܐ ܗܳܟ݂ܰܢܳܐ ܢܶܫܡܥܽܘܢܳܢܝ ܆ ܐܴܡܰܪ ܡܳܪܝܳܐ ܂ 20 Ἀδελφοί,* μὴ παιδία γίνεσθε ταῖς φρεσὶν ἀλλὰ τῇ κακίᾳ νηπιάζετε,* ταῖς δὲ φρεσὶν τέλειοι γίνεσθε. 21 ἐν τῷ νόμῳ γέγραπται ὅτι *⸀ἐν ἑτερογλώσσοις καὶ ἐν χείλεσιν ⸁ἑτέρων λαλήσω τῷ λαῷ τούτῳ καὶ οὐδʼ οὕτως εἰσακούσονταί μου, λέγει κύριος.)
Paul states, “In the Torah it is written, ‘By people of strange tongues [ἐν ἑτερογλώσσοις] and by the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people; yet even then they will not listen to me,’ says the Lord.” (NRSV) Note that these words are a partial citation of Isaiah 28:11-12. In the Tanakh, this prophecy undoubtedly refers to foreign human languages (alluding to the speech of the Assyrian conquerors) and is an expression of judgment. Paul’s application is not easy to sort out, and the matter becomes complicated by the controversial question of whether the ἑτερογλώσσοις in view consists of standard foreign languages (see Acts 2), or nonhuman speech that is comparable to human language, or ecstatic utterances altogether different from human language. It is apparent that members of the congregation in Corinth felt impelled by the Holy Spirit to utter prayer and praise that could not be understood by others and thus could not, without proper interpretation, contribute to the edification of the community (1 Corinthians 14:2-5, 14:13, 14:16-17, 14:28). Paul did not forbid the speaking in tongues because he said that he himself practiced it freely (1 Corinthians 14:18). But he urgently exhorted examination, discipline, and restraint. The point of this phenomenon of a different language is again a lack of understanding. God bringing a nation of a different language against Israel due to her sins, should be a wakeup call to remember what God’s word had said concerning these things! These things demonstrate the superiority of the God of Israel over the idol gods of the nations. This is demonstrated in the fact that God had told them in advance in His word what would happen, and so the conclusion should be of repentance, and turning from wickedness.
Isaiah continues to say the following according to Isaiah 28:13-14.
ספר ישעיה פרק כח
יג וְהָיָה לָהֶם דְּבַר-יְהֹוָה צַו לָצָו צַו לָצָו קַו לָקָו קַו לָקָו זְעֵיר שָׁם זְעֵיר שָׁם לְמַעַן יֵלְכוּ וְכָשְׁלוּ אָחוֹר וְנִשְׁבָּרוּ וְנוֹקְשׁוּ וְנִלְכָּדוּ: יד לָכֵן שִׁמְעוּ דְבַר-יְהֹוָה אַנְשֵׁי לָצוֹן מֹשְׁלֵי הָעָם הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר בִּירוּשָׁלָם:
Isaiah 28:13 states, “But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken. (וְהָיָה לָהֶם דְּבַר-יְהֹוָה צַו לָצָו צַו לָצָו קַו לָקָו קַו לָקָו זְעֵיר שָׁם זְעֵיר שָׁם לְמַעַן יֵלְכוּ וְכָשְׁלוּ אָחוֹר וְנִשְׁבָּרוּ וְנוֹקְשׁוּ וְנִלְכָּדוּ)” Isaiah 28:14 “Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. (לָכֵן שִׁמְעוּ דְבַר-יְהֹוָה אַנְשֵׁי לָצוֹן מֹשְׁלֵי הָעָם הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר בִּירוּשָׁלָם)” Here Isaiah repeats himself from verse 10 in Isaiah 28:13 and opens saying וְהָיָה לָהֶם דְּבַר-יְהֹוָה “but the word of the Lord was unto them” suggesting that God’s words are gentle, merciful, providing wisdom, but the people however were rebellious, they mocked, sneered, laughed, and so instead of God’s word being a blessing, it pronounced a curse. The point that Isaiah is making here is that if one is unwilling to humble his or herself then humility will come by a much more difficult teacher, Assyria. This is the way things work, discipline and humility must be learned, just like children learn through experience and their actions. If parents always nullify the results of a child’s sins, with no consequences, the child will go through the rest of his or her life completely misunderstanding the meaning of life, and how to properly interact with others. This is what the Lord God does for us, He provides His words of wisdom coupled with warning, and then sends us on our way to live our lives for Him. If we choose not to live our lives for the Lord, but to live selfishly, pridefully, and forsake God’s ways this leads to destruction. We note that in Isaiah 28:14 Isaiah then directs his words to the men of Jerusalem. The idea is if these things happen to the drunkards of Israel, it will also happen to the scoffers of Jerusalem. Note again how “scoffing” is to speak to someone or about something in a scornfully derisive or mocking way. This is a weighty term, and we note its use in Tehillim / Psalms 1.
ספר תהילים פרק א
א אַשְׁרֵי-הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר לֹא הָלַךְ בַּעֲצַת רְשָׁעִים וּבְדֶרֶךְ חַטָּאִים לֹא עָמָד וּבְמוֹשַׁב לֵצִים לֹא יָשָׁב: ב כִּי אִם-בְּתוֹרַת יְהֹוָה חֶפְצוֹ וּבְתוֹרָתוֹ יֶהְגֶּה יוֹמָם וָלָיְלָה: ג וְהָיָה כְּעֵץ שָׁתוּל עַל-פַּלְגֵי מָיִם אֲשֶׁר פִּרְיוֹ | יִתֵּן בְּעִתּוֹ וְעָלֵהוּ לֹא יִבּוֹל וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר-יַעֲשֶֹה יַצְלִיחַ: ד לֹא-כֵן הָרְשָׁעִים כִּי אִם-כַּמֹּץ אֲשֶׁר-תִּדְּפֶנּוּ רוּחַ: ה עַל-כֵּן | לֹא-יָקֻמוּ רְשָׁעִים בַּמִּשְׁפָּט וְחַטָּאִים בַּעֲדַת צַדִּיקִים: ו כִּי-יוֹדֵעַ יְהֹוָה דֶּרֶךְ צַדִּיקִים וְדֶרֶךְ רְשָׁעִים תֹּאבֵד:
Tehillim / Psalms 1:1-6
1:1 Blessed is the man That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; And in his law doth he meditate day and night. 1:3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, That bringeth forth his fruit in his season; His leaf also shall not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. 1:4 The ungodly are not so: But are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. 1:5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 1:6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: But the way of the ungodly shall perish. (KJV)
David opens his psalm saying אַ֥שְֽׁרֵי־הָאִ֗ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֤ר׀ לֹ֥א הָלַךְ֮ בַּעֲצַ֪ת רְשָׁ֫עִ֥ים וּבְדֶ֣רֶךְ חַ֭טָּאִים לֹ֥א עָמָ֑ד וּבְמֹושַׁ֥ב לֵ֝צִ֗ים לֹ֣א יָשָֽׁב׃ “oh the blessedness of the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful.” The hebrew text literally states, וּבְמוֹשַׁב לֵצִים לֹא יָשָׁב “and in the seat of the scornful he does not sit.” This means that such a person makes the decision choosing not to sit with the mockers. The לֵצִים mockers consciously choose the wrong way and mock the right way. This means that those who behave in this way are living in opposition to the faithful. Note David’s words in verse 2, כִּי אִם-בְּתוֹרַת יְהֹוָה חֶפְצוֹ וּבְתוֹרָתוֹ יֶהְגֶּה יוֹמָם וָלָיְלָה “But his delight is in the Torat בְּתוֹרַת of the LORD; And in his Torat וּבְתוֹרָתוֹ doth he meditate day and night.” Note the word Torah in this verse, referencing God’s righteous and holy instruction, and the blessedness of the one who chooses to mediate in them and apply them to one’s life. So, what we find here is that these types of people are in positions of authority. Their unfaithfulness is open for all to see. And when leaders behave wickedly, and nothing happens, there are no consequences to their actions, the people will learn their wicked ways, and the entire nation will be poisoned with falsehood, untruths, lies, and corruption. This is why truth faithfulness was rare among the people in those days. (See Isaiah 1:21-23, 3:4-5, 3:12-15, 5:22-23, Jeremiah 21:11-14, 22:1-5, and Hosea 4:1-6). The application of these things for our lives today takes us back to Yeshua’s words according to Matthew 5:1-16. For example, Yeshua said that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be satisfied. This is the question we must ask ourselves, “Do I truly hunger and thirst for righteousness?” This is a very important question according to Tehillim / Psalms 1:1-6! In Yeshua’s words, God and His holy Words are the only things that bring true satisfaction, and this comes only in knowing God and being pleasing to Him through faith. Note that being pleasing unto the Lord is coupled to our actions. Note that our actions come from within, from our thoughts, the imagination of our mind. This speaks to the necessity for inner purity, and innocence of heart which comes not only by the Lord working and transforming us from the inside out, but in our desire to draw nearer to Him and seek His ways and His truth. The inner purity that Yeshua gives us, if we remain in him, is the place from which righteous deeds flow, and we bear much fruit that is pleasing to our Father who is in Heaven. These are the truths that the people of Isaiah’s day missed, and Isaiah is calling all of us to remain faithful, and those who do not know the Lord, to repent, turn from their sins, and trust in the One who is loving, merciful, and all-powerful to save us from our sins!
The Targum Jonathan is an Aramaic and Rabbinic interpretation of the book of Isaiah and therefore is a very valuable resource for our study of the book of Isaiah!
תרגום יונתן בן עוזיאל אל ישעיה פרק כח:ח-יד
ח אְרֵי כָל פָתוּרְהֹון מְלַן מֵיכַל מְגָעַל וּמשֻקַץ לֵית לְהֹון אְתַר דִנקֵי מִן אֹונֵיס׃ ט לְמַן אִתיְהֵיבַת אֹורָיתָא וּמַן אִתפַקַד לְמִסבַר חָכמָא הְלָא לְבֵית יִשרָאֵל דִרחִימִין מִכָל עַמְמַיָא וְחַבִיבִין מִכָל מַלכְוָותָא׃ י אִנוּן אִתפַקַדוּ לְמַעְבַד אֹורָיתָא וּמָא דְאִתפַקַדוּ לָא צְבִיאוּ לְמַעְבַד אִתנַבִיאוּ עְלֵיהֹון נְבִיַיָא דְאִם יְתוּבוּן וּלמִילֵי נְבִיַיָא לָא קַבִילוּ הַלִיכוּ בִרעוּת נַפשְהֹון וְלָא חַמִידוּ לְמַעְבַד רְעוּתִי סַבַרוּ דְיִתקַיַים לְהֹון פוּלחַן טָעְוָתָא וְלָא סַבַרוּ לְפֻלחַן בֵית מַקדְשִי כִזעיֵר הְוָה בְעֵינֵיהֹון בֵית מַקדְשִי לְמִפלַח תַמָן כִזעֵיר הְוָה בְעֵינֵיהֹון שְכִינְתִי תַמָן׃ יא אְרֵי בְשִנוּי מַמלַל וּבלִישָן תֹולַעבָא הְוֹו מְלַעְגִין לָקֳבֵיל נְבִיַיָא דְמִתנַבַן לְהֹון עַמָא הָדֵין׃ יב דְאָמְרִין לְהֹון נְבִיַיָא דֵין בֵית מַקדְשָא פְלַחוּ בֵיה וְדָא אַחסָנַת בֵית נְיָחָא וְלָא אְבֹו לְקַבָלָא אוּלפָן׃ יג דֵין יְהֵי כָס פֹורעָנוּתְהֹון עַל דַעְבַרוּ עַל פִתגָמָא דַיוי וְעַל דְאִתפַקַדוּ לְמַעְבַד אֹורָיתָא וּמָא דְאִתפַקַדוּ לָא צְבִיאוּ לְמַעְבַד בְכֵין יִתמַסרוּן לְעַמְמַיָא דְלָא יְדַעוּ אֹורָיתָא וְעַל דְהַלִיכוּ בִרעוּת נַפשְהֹון וְלָא חַמִידוּ לְמַעבַד רְעוּתִי בְכֵין יְסַבְרוּן לִסעֵיד בְעִדָן דְאַיתִי עְלֵיהֹון עָקָא וְלָא יְהֵי לְהֹון סָעֵיד וְסָמֵיך וְעַל דַהְוָה זְעֵיר בְעֵינֵיהֹון בֵית מַקדְשִי לְמִפלַח תַמָן בְכֵין יִשתַאְרוּן כִזעֵיר בֵינֵי עַמְמַיָא דְיִגלֹון לְתַמָן בְדִיל דִיהָכוּן וְיִתַקלוּן לְאַחרָא וְיִתַברוּן וְיִתצָדוּן וְיִתאַחְדוּן׃ יד בְכֵין קַבִילוּ פִתגָמָא דַיוי גֻברִין רַשִיעִין שִלטֹונֵי עַמָא הָדֵין דְבִירוּשלַם׃
Targum Jonathan son of Uziel Isaiah 28:8-14
28:8 Because all their tables are full of polluted and loathsome food: they have not a spot free from rapine. 28:9 To whom was the law given? and to whom was the command given to understand wisdom? Was it not to the house of Israel, who were beloved above all nations, and beloved above all the kingdoms? 28:10 Surely, they were commanded to do the law; but what they were commanded, they were not willing to do. The prophets prophesied unto them, that if they would repent, it should be forgiven them; but they did not obey the words of the prophets: they walked after the desire of their soul, neither did they desire to do my law. They hoped to have idolatrous worship established among them, and they did not consider the worship of the house of my sanctuary: to worship in the house of my sanctuary was as a little thing in their eyes, my Shekinah was as a little thing in their eyes. 28:11 Because with feigned speech, and with mocking language, this people mocked the prophets, who prophesies unto them. 28:12 The prophets said unto them, This is the house of the sanctuary, worship ye in it: and this is the possession in which there is rest; but they would not accept instructions. 28:13 This shall be the cup of their punishment, because they have transgressed the word of the Lord, and because they were commanded to do my law, but would not do what they were commanded. Therefore they shall be delivered unto the nations, who do not know the law; because they walked after the desire of their soul, and had no delight to do my will. Therefore they shall hope for help at the time that I shall bring distress upon them; but they shall have no help or support. Because the house of my sanctuary was too little in their eyes to worship there, therefore they shall be left as a little thing in the eyes of the nations, among whom they shall go in captivity, in order that they may walk, and stumble backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken. 28:14 Therefore, hear ye the word of the Lord, O wicked men, rulers of this people that are in Jerusalem: (TgJ)
The TgJ speaks of the dinner table in the context of God’s mitzvot (commandments), where the mitzvot were given for understanding, wisdom, and truth to a nation that is loved of God. The people however were behaving loathsomely during a time they should be remembering the blessing of the Lord, and this is the point of Isaiah stating what he did according to Isaiah 28:8 saying, ח אְרֵי כָל פָתוּרְהֹון מְלַן מֵיכַל מְגָעַל וּמשֻקַץ לֵית לְהֹון אְתַר דִנקֵי מִן אֹונֵיס׃ 28:8 Because all their tables are full of polluted and loathsome food: they have not a spot free from rapine. (TgJ) The Mishnah Pirkei Avot 3:3 states the following concerning this verse.
Mishnah Pirkei Avot 3:3
Rabbi Shimon said: if three have eaten at one table and have not spoken there words of Torah, [it is] as if they had eaten sacrifices [offered] to the dead, as it is said, “for all tables are full of filthy vomit, when the All-Present is absent” (Isaiah 28:8). But, if three have eaten at one table, and have spoken there words of Torah, [it is] as if they had eaten at the table of the All-Present, blessed be He, as it is said, “And He said unto me, ‘this is the table before the Lord’” (Ezekiel 41:22).
We note the rabbinic importance of speaking about God at the dinner table, and just as importantly of prayer blessing the Lord for the gift of food and life! Here the weightiness of not discussing the things of God at the dinner table is paralleled to eating a sacrifice offered to the dead. When one discusses the word of God and His blessedness at the dinner table, it is as having sat at the table before the Lord God Almighty Himself, drawing in the parallel to the Shelamim Korban (Peace Offering) at the Tabernacle in the wilderness. Rashi and Likutei Halakhot Orach Chaim Laws of Morning Conduct expand a little on this topic saying the following:
Rashi on Isaiah 28,8 Part 1-2
כי כל שולחנות. שלהם של זבחי מתי’ הם שהם כקיא צואה: For all tables I.e., all their tables are of sacrifices for the dead, i.e., the pagan deities, which are like vomit and ordure (excrement).
בלי מקום. אין הדעת סובלתן: without a place (I.e.) the mind cannot tolerate them.
Likutei Halakhot, Orach Chaim, Laws of Morning Conduct 4:9:2
The explanation is as follows. Food consists of two elements, the absorbable nutrients and the waste product. Extraneous wisdom, through which heresy proliferates, is associated with the extraneous component of food, the waste that is termed “vomit and excrement, with no [clean] place.” Conversely, true wisdom is likened to the nutrients, because the food a person eats gives him life, and when he eats in holiness, it illuminates his panim. An allusion to this can be found in the verse “he ate and drank, and his heart was happy,” as explained elsewhere.71See LM I, 60:6, where Rebbe Nachman cites this verse as proof that food’s main purpose is to revive the heart, whose rectification brings light to the panim. See also LM I, 19:7.
We note that the Hebrew word for sacrifice is קרבן (korban) a word that is derived from the word קרב meaning to “draw near.” The קרבן sacrifices were meant to provide a way for one to draw near to the Lord who once was far due to his sins. The physical act of eating is drawn in parallel to this drawing near to God through the remembrance of the שלמים קרבן peace offerings. The different types of sacrifices were placed upon the מזבח (mizbeakh) the altar in the Tabernacle. The biblical concept of sacrifices here Hebraically are either called זבחי צדק (righteous sacrifice) or זבחי רשע (wicked sacrifice) depending upon the intention of the one who brings the sacrifice. The righteous sacrifice implies one brings the sacrifice in the manner in which God approves according to His word, and the wicked sacrifice implies one bringing a sacrifice in whatever manner he chooses. The differences between the two are commensurate with what God has said and is related to His sovereignty over our lives as opposed to what we desire, something that causes our will to supersede God’s will. This is how the sacredness of the dinner table is explained from the rabbinic perspective, that when we remember the Lord, we trust in Him, we are able then to experience the blessings of drawing hear, which include the provision of food and meat so that we can continue to live, to serve, and to give glory to God in heaven. When one lives in unrepentant sin, the table is said to be filled with things of the dead, pagan deities, vomit, filth, and hypocrisy! Likutei Halakhot implies that when we eat, the waste product, like in the case of chicken, the bones and cartilage that we don’t like to eat, the good meat is paralleled to wisdom, while the waste is paralleled to heresy. We can see an interesting parallel to Kashrut and eating foods God approves of as opposed to foods we desire, truth and heresy, respectively. True wisdom that is from God behaves as food for the soul and provides wisdom, paralleled to the nutrients in food that give life. The point of the food is to revive the heart and body, while the remembrance of God and His holy ways revives the soul and the spirit. We note how these concepts all draw in the idea of sacrifice and those having genuine faith and showing a sacrifice of mercy and love towards others, especially to those whom we see as our enemies. This is why Yeshua said what he did according to Matthew 9:13.
9:9 And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. 9:10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. 9:11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? 9:12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (KJV, ܘܟ݂ܰܕ݂ ܥܒ݂ܰܪ ܝܶܫܽܘܥ ܡܶܢ ܬܱ݁ܡܳܢ ܆ ܚܙܳܐ ܓܱ݁ܒ݂ܪܴܐ ܕ݁ܝܳܬ݂ܷܒ݂ ܒܷ݁ܝܬ݂ ܡܳܟ݂ܣܷ̈ܐ ܕܱ݁ܫܡܶܗ ܡܰܬܱ݁ܝ ܂ ܘܶܐܡܰܪ ܠܷܗ ܇ ܬܴ݁ܐ ܒܴ݁ܬ݂ܱܪܝ ܂ ܘܩܳܡ ܐܷܙܰܠ ܒܴ݁ܬ݂ܪܷܗ ܀ܘܟ݂ܰܕ݂ ܣܡܺܝܟ݂ܺܝܢ ܒ݁ܒ݂ܰܝܬܴ݁ܐ ܆ ܐܷܬ݂ܱܘ ܡܳܟ݂ܣܷ̈ܐ ܘܚܰܛܴܝܷ̈ܐ ܣܰܓܻ݁ܝܷ̈ܐܐ ܂ ܐܷܣܬ݁ܡܶܟ݂ܘ ܥܰܡ ܝܶܫܽܘܥ ܂ ܘܥܰܡ ܬܱ݁ܠܡܺܝ̈ܕ݂ܰܘܗ̄ܝ ܂ ܘܟ݂ܰܕ݂ ܚܙܰܘ ܦ݁ܪܻ̈ܝܫܶܐ ܆ ܐܴܡܪܻܝܢ ܠܬ݂ܱܠܡܺܝ̈ܕ݂ܰܘܗ̄ܝ ܂ ܠܡܳܢܳܐ ܥܰܡ ܡܳܟ݂ܣܷ̈ܐ ܘܚܰܛܴܝܷ̈ܐ ܠܴܥܶܣ ܪܱܒ݁ܟ݂ܽܘܢ ܀ ܝܶܫܽܘܥ ܕܷ݁ܝܢ ܟܱ݁ܕ݂ ܫܡܰܥ ܐܷܡܰܪ ܠܗܽܘܢ ܂ ܠܴܐ ܣܢܺܝܩܺܝܢ ܚܠܻܝ̈ܡܶܐ ܥܰܠ ܐܴܣܝܳܐ ܆ ܐܷܠܴܐ ܐܱܝܠܷܝܢ ܕ݁ܒ݂ܺܝܫܳܐܝܺܬ݂ ܥܒ݂ܺܝܕ݂ܺܝܢ ܂ ܙܶܠܘ ܝܺܠܱܦ݂ܘ ܡܳܢܰܘ ܇ ܚܢܳܢܳܐ ܒܴ݁ܥܶܐ ܐ̱ܢܳܐ ܂ ܘܠܴܐ ܕܷ݁ܒ݂ܚܬ݂ܴܐ ܂ ܠܴܐ ܓܷ݁ܝܪ ܐܷܬ݂ܻܝܬ݂ ܕܷ݁ܐܩܪܷܐ ܠܙܰܕܻ݁ܝ̈ܩܶܐ ܂ ܐܷܠܴܐ ܠܚܰܛܴܝܷ̈ܐ ܀ *9 Καὶ παράγων ⸂ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐκεῖθεν⸃ εἶδεν ἄνθρωπον καθήμενον ἐπὶ τὸ τελώνιον, Μαθθαῖον λεγόμενον,* καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ·* ἀκολούθει μοι. καὶ ἀναστὰς ⸀ἠκολούθησεν αὐτῷ. *10 καὶ ἐγένετο αὐτοῦ ἀνακειμένου ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ, ⸂καὶ ἰδοὺ⸃ πολλοὶ τελῶναι καὶ ἁμαρτωλοὶ ἐλθόντες συνανέκειντο τῷ Ἰησοῦ καὶ τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ.* 11 καὶ ἰδόντες οἱ Φαρισαῖοι ⸀ἔλεγον τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ·* διὰ τί μετὰ τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν ⸂ἐσθίει ὁ διδάσκαλος ὑμῶν⸃; *12 Ὁ δὲ ⸆ ἀκούσας εἶπεν ⸇· οὐ χρείαν ἔχουσιν οἱ ἰσχύοντες ἰατροῦ ἀλλʼ οἱ κακῶς ἔχοντες. 13 πορευθέντες δὲ μάθετε τί ἐστιν·* ἔλεος θέλω καὶ οὐ θυσίαν· οὐ γὰρ ἦλθον καλέσαι δικαίους ἀλλʼ ἁμαρτωλούς⸆.)
The concept here is to show mercy and grace towards the sinners who are called unclean, and so Yeshua doing so quoted from Hosea 6:6 saying, “For I desire grace (chesed) and not sacrifice (zevakh), and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” He also said, “to obey God is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22) and so this draws in the idea of having the proper intention and attitude of love towards God and others as an expression of our faith.
Isaiah continues saying the following according to Isaiah 28:9 in the TgJ, ט לְמַן אִתיְהֵיבַת אֹורָיתָא וּמַן אִתפַקַד לְמִסבַר חָכמָא הְלָא לְבֵית יִשרָאֵל דִרחִימִין מִכָל עַמְמַיָא וְחַבִיבִין מִכָל מַלכְוָותָא׃ 28:9 To whom was the law given? and to whom was the command given to understand wisdom? Was it not to the house of Israel, who were beloved above all nations, and beloved above all the kingdoms? (TgJ) Here Isaiah asks the question of to whom was the Torah given for wisdom and directs our attention to Israel in contrast to all the nations of the earth. The commentary Akeidat Yitzchak 103:1 part 14 draws in Parashat Haazinu, a song of Moshe, in the discussion of this verse saying the following:
Akeidat Yitzchak 103:1 Part 14
The term ha-azinah, give ear, is reserved for the physically more distant listeners, whereas the term shemi-ah, hearing, is reserved for listeners close at hand. For this reason Moses uses the former term when calling on the Heavens, and the latter when addressing the earth. When in contrast to Isaiah 1,2, Moses refers to the origin of the message being himself not G’d, he emphasizes the importance of what he is about to say rather than who is saying it. Moreover, “giving ear,” refers to listening done with the mind, whereas “hearing” refers to listening done with one’s senses, one’s physical ears. Spiritual beings, being disembodied, cannot therefore “hear” in our sense of the word. This rule applies at least when both terms are used at the same time. Heaven and Earth respectively are also similes for the highly intelligent and the common minds, respectively. The former can absorb “a heavy rainshower,” the latter only “dew,” or a mild “drizzle.” (32,2)
The rabbinic commentary draws in the idea of the physical ear and the conceptual listening to the Word of God. The way Moshe phrases the opening passages of Parashat Haazinu is the topic of interest in regard to one using his or her mind for understanding while listening to the word of God being read. The purpose is for wisdom, to understand what God seeks from our lives, to have faith and to be faithful. We note this concept here is very important.
We sometimes “hear” others without really listening to them.
This concept reminds me of my son, he at times tends to talk, and talk, and talk, and doesn’t stop talking, and just provides a constant barrage of continual talking. He basically loves to provide narrative on almost everything, and so there are times when my attention is elsewhere. The talking becomes background noise because my attention is consumed with my own thoughts about something else and most of what my son talks about are childish things. This is the point that Akeidat Yitzchak may be making, that we should really listen and not allow our attention to be elsewhere. This is why the spiritual life is marked by both actively listening and obeying God’s word, meaning that we are decidedly attentively listening~ This is the point of the Shema, remember Devarim / Deuteronomy 6:4 “Shema Yisrael” which is a call to listen, to hear the most important command, which is to love God with all of our heart, mind, and strength! This is the invitation of God to listen to all of what He has to say according to His holy word! We also note that our love for God leads to our love for others and for God’s holy and righteous ways. Rashi states the following concerning these things:
Rashi on Isaiah 28,9 Parts 1-3
את מי יורה דעה. שמא לתינוקות שאין יודעין להבין כי הגדולים פנו לדרך רעה: Whom shall he teach knowledge Perhaps to babes who know not to understand, since the adults have turned to an evil way?
גמולי מחלב. בדולי מחלב: those weaned from milk separated from milk.
עתיקי משדים. לשון ויעתק משם (בראשי’ יב), ד”א בדולי’ מן התורה שנקראת חלב ועתיקי משדים מוסרים מלפני ת”ח: removed from breasts (עַתִּיקֵי) an expression similar to (Gen. 12:8), “And he removed (וַיַּעְתֵּק) from there.” Alternatively, separated from the Torah, which is called milk, and removed from breasts, removed from before Torah scholars.
Rashi asks the question of whether one should teach babies God’s word, where babies do not understand, and in parallel adults also do not listen or understand because they have turned to an evil way. His analogy draws in the analogy of being fed the milk of the word. Peter writes about this according to 1 Peter 2:1-3. Notice how this really parallels what Rashi is saying:
1 Peter 2:1–3
2:1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 2:3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. (KJV, ܐܱܢܺܝܚܘ ܗܳܟ݂ܺܝܠ ܡܶܢܟ݂ܽܘܢ ܟܾ݁ܠܴܗ ܒܻ݁ܝܫܽܘܬ݂ܴܐ ܂ ܘܟ݂ܽܠܷܗ ܢܶܟ݂ܠܴܐ ܘܡܰܣܰܒ݂ ܒܱ݁ܐܦܷ̈݁ܐ ܂ ܘܰܚܣܳܡܳܐ ܂ ܘܡܶܐܟ݂ܰܠܩܰܪܨܴܐ ܂ܘܰܗܘܰܘ ܐܱܝܟ݂ ܝܱ̈ܠܾܘܕ݂ܶܐ ܫܰܒ݂ܪܷ̈ܐ ܂ ܘܶܐܬ݂ܪܱܓ݂ܪܱܓ݂ܘ ܠܴܗ ܠܡܶܠܬ݂ܴܐ ܆ ܐܱܝܟ݂ ܕܱ݁ܠܚܰܠܒ݂ܳܐ ܢܰܩܕܴ݁ܐ ܘܪܾܘܚܳܢܳܐ ܇ ܕ݁ܒ݂ܳܗ ܬܷ݁ܬ݂ܪܱܒܾ݁ܘܢ ܠܚܰܝܷ̈ܐ ܂ ܐܷܢ ܛܥܶܡܬܾ݁ܘܢ ܘܰܚܙܰܝܬܾ݁ܘܢ ܕ݁ܛܴܒ݂ ܗ̄ܽܘ ܡܳܪܝܳܐ ܂ *2 Ἀποθέμενοι οὖν πᾶσαν κακίαν καὶ* πάντα δόλον καὶ* ⸀ὑποκρίσεις καὶ ⸁φθόνους καὶ ⸂πάσας καταλαλιὰς⸃* 2 ὡς ἀρτιγέννητα βρέφη τὸ λογικὸν ⸆ ἄδολον γάλα ἐπιποθήσατε, ἵνα ἐν αὐτῷ αὐξηθῆτε ⸋εἰς σωτηρίαν⸌, 3 ⸀εἰ ἐγεύσασθε ⸆ ὅτι ⸁χρηστὸς ὁ κύριος.*)
The milk of the word is a very rabbinic way of thinking about the importance of God’s word for our lives which is illustrated by Rashi’s commentary. This is the rabbinic way of appealing to the people to listen with their heart to the voice of God. This is what the Torah states, in Shemot / Exodus 19:5 ה וְעַתָּה אִם-שָׁמוֹעַ תִּשְׁמְעוּ בְּקֹלִי וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם אֶת-בְּרִיתִי וִהְיִיתֶם לִי סְגֻלָּה מִכָּל-הָעַמִּים כִּי-לִי כָּל-הָאָרֶץ: “Now therefore if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession from all the people of the earth.” The whole concept of אִם-שָׁמוֹעַ תִּשְׁמְעוּ בְּקֹלִי “if you will indeed obey listen to my voice” the Hebrew grammar here is intense, because Moshe uses an emphatic phrase אִם-שָׁמוֹעַ תִּשְׁמְעוּ which indicates that one must have a sincere willingness to listen to God’s words! But because of the stubbornness of the heart, the people would not listen and turned from the ways of the Lord. We note something that when listening, in order to hear from the Lord, we need to become quiet and be intentional to hear from God, that we seek the Spirit of God to speak to us and then we need to be actively engaged in listening to hear that still soft voice of God. Isaiah describes the people’s unwillingness for these things according to the TgJ saying, אִנוּן אִתפַקַדוּ לְמַעְבַד אֹורָיתָא וּמָא דְאִתפַקַדוּ לָא צְבִיאוּ לְמַעְבַד אִתנַבִיאוּ עְלֵיהֹון נְבִיַיָא דְאִם יְתוּבוּן וּלמִילֵי נְבִיַיָא לָא קַבִילוּ הַלִיכוּ בִרעוּת נַפשְהֹון וְלָא חַמִידוּ לְמַעְבַד רְעוּתִי סַבַרוּ דְיִתקַיַים לְהֹון פוּלחַן טָעְוָתָא וְלָא סַבַרוּ לְפֻלחַן בֵית מַקדְשִי כִזעיֵר הְוָה בְעֵינֵיהֹון בֵית מַקדְשִי לְמִפלַח תַמָן כִזעֵיר הְוָה בְעֵינֵיהֹון שְכִינְתִי תַמָן׃ 28:10 Surely, they were commanded to do the law; but what they were commanded, they were not willing to do. The prophets prophesied unto them, that if they would repent, it should be forgiven them; but they did not obey the words of the prophets: they walked after the desire of their soul, neither did they desire to do my law. They hoped to have idolatrous worship established among them, and they did not consider the worship of the house of my sanctuary: to worship in the house of my sanctuary was as a little thing in their eyes, my Shekinah was as a little thing in their eyes. ייא אְרֵי בְשִנוּי מַמלַל וּבלִישָן תֹולַעבָא הְוֹו מְלַעְגִין לָקֳבֵיל נְבִיַיָא דְמִתנַבַן לְהֹון עַמָא הָדֵין׃ 28:11 Because with feigned speech, and with mocking language, this people mocked the prophets, who prophesies unto them. יב דְאָמְרִין לְהֹון נְבִיַיָא דֵין בֵית מַקדְשָא פְלַחוּ בֵיה וְדָא אַחסָנַת בֵית נְיָחָא וְלָא אְבֹו לְקַבָלָא אוּלפָן׃ 28:12 The prophets said unto them, This is the house of the sanctuary, worship ye in it: and this is the possession in which there is rest; but they would not accept instructions. יג דֵין יְהֵי כָס פֹורעָנוּתְהֹון עַל דַעְבַרוּ עַל פִתגָמָא דַיוי וְעַל דְאִתפַקַדוּ לְמַעְבַד אֹורָיתָא וּמָא דְאִתפַקַדוּ לָא צְבִיאוּ לְמַעְבַד בְכֵין יִתמַסרוּן לְעַמְמַיָא דְלָא יְדַעוּ אֹורָיתָא וְעַל דְהַלִיכוּ בִרעוּת נַפשְהֹון וְלָא חַמִידוּ לְמַעבַד רְעוּתִי בְכֵין יְסַבְרוּן לִסעֵיד בְעִדָן דְאַיתִי עְלֵיהֹון עָקָא וְלָא יְהֵי לְהֹון סָעֵיד וְסָמֵיך וְעַל דַהְוָה זְעֵיר בְעֵינֵיהֹון בֵית מַקדְשִי לְמִפלַח תַמָן בְכֵין יִשתַאְרוּן כִזעֵיר בֵינֵי עַמְמַיָא דְיִגלֹון לְתַמָן בְדִיל דִיהָכוּן וְיִתַקלוּן לְאַחרָא וְיִתַברוּן וְיִתצָדוּן וְיִתאַחְדוּן׃ 28:13 This shall be the cup of their punishment, because they have transgressed the word of the Lord, and because they were commanded to do my law, but would not do what they were commanded. Therefore they shall be delivered unto the nations, who do not know the law; because they walked after the desire of their soul, and had no delight to do my will. Therefore they shall hope for help at the time that I shall bring distress upon them; but they shall have no help or support. Because the house of my sanctuary was too little in their eyes to worship there, therefore they shall be left as a little thing in the eyes of the nations, among whom they shall go in captivity, in order that they may walk, and stumble backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken. (TgJ) The rabbinic translation here is a significant expansion upon the words of Isaiah. Notice how Isaiah draws in this idea he stated according to Isaiah 28:8 of the filthiness of the table, how the people were unwilling to listen to the Word of God or to the prophets, they walked after their own lusts (desire of their souls) and considered worship in the house of God as a little thing, and the presence of God in their lives as a little thing. A good question is “How true are these things today in our lives?” We see how disobedience leads to punishment at the hands of foreign nations. We also note how when foreign nations come, they come in the name of their gods, and so the idea is that the people discover what it means to live under the rule of another god, as opposed to the loving merciful and grace filled God of Israel! The commentary Mei HaShiloach Volume I on Ecclesiastes 7:1 states the following concerning these things.
Mei HaShiloach, Volume I, Five Scrolls, Ecclesiastes 7:1
“It is good to take hold of this, and from this you should not remove your hand ….” (Kohellet, 7:18) God commanded Israel to serve Him in two ways; with the active performance of an action, and with refraining from action. This is what Shlomo haMelech meant when he said, “take hold of this, and from this do not remove.” In other words, if you are to fulfill God’s will through the active performance of an action, then do so with careful consideration and deliberation. The only way to fulfill God’s will in completeness is if it is done completely for the sake of Heaven, and this requires careful consideration of all actions, even with the performance of a mitzvah. Also, at the time when one fulfills God’s will through refraining from action, such as the observance of the Shabbat and the like, it must also be done with careful consideration. This means not to refrain from action because of laziness, but rather to even be zealous in the cessation of action. This means that a man will want to do forbidden work on the Shabbat but will actively refrain from it. This is as it is written (Yeshayahu, 28:18), “if you turn away your foot on the Shabbat,” meaning that a man wants to go and do something, but he remembers that it is Shabbat and actively restrains his feet from taking him to do it. A man who is constantly involved in serving God will fulfill each mitzvah with both aspects. Thus the active performance of a mitzvah is illuminated from the careful consideration of the prohibitive mitzvot, and this illumination will inspire him to fulfill the prohibitive mitzvot with zeal.*
This commentary draws out the idea of obedience having two aspects, one of action, and one of discipline or restraint and doing so one is fulfilling God’s will. This is what Peter was saying in 1 Peter 2:1-3 “1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speaking, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” (KJV) The Lord’s will for our lives is to lay aside disobedience, which is worked out in our lives through malice, guile, hypocrisies, envies, and evil speech (lashon hara). The rabbis say, “The only way to fulfill God’s will in completeness is if it is done completely for the sake of Heaven, and this requires careful consideration of all actions, even with the performance of a mitzvah.” The careful consideration of our actions, this is one of the most important things concerning our faith, to always be aware of all the things that we do have a spiritual impact upon our lives and the lives of others. We note again that the greatest command in the Torah is to listen and to love (the Shema), love God and love others and to be merciful because God is merciful to us! The commentary Sefer HaYashar also has the following to say concerning these things:
Sefer HaYashar 6:40
Now, as to the first principle of worship, which deals with accustoming oneself to prayer and its ways, know that anyone who wishes to serve his God with a complete service and with a perfect heart can attain this only with much diligence, after much time, with much practice, and without impatience. Know that the servant of God may find the habit of his worship tedious at first and delightful later. So is it with every deed that a man does. At first, he finds it wearisome, but the difficulty of the exertion vanishes towards the end. Therefore, everyone who wishes to assume the yoke of worship to God must think about all its pleasures and must always keep them in mind. Let him accustom himself at first to do the easy deed and not make it burdensome for himself, but as he goes on let him add, just as it is said (Isaiah 28:13), “And so the word of the Lord is unto them, precept by precept, precept by precept, line by line, line by line, here a little, there a little.” If he sees that he has added more than he can bear, let him lighten the burden a little in order that he may not grow impatient with it suddenly. After he has made it easier for himself and some time has elapsed, he can return to his prior state.
This commentary speaks of serving God in complete service and with a perfect heart. Then goes on to say this takes much diligence, time, effort, and practice. We note how the author of the book of Hebrews describes these things in relation to resisting sin saying according to Hebrews 12:4, Οὔπω ⸆ μέχρις αἵματος ἀντικατέστητε πρὸς τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ⸀ἀνταγωνιζόμενοι.* 12:4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (NIV) The weightiness of resisting sin is paralleled to actually shedding blood. In addition, drawing near to the Lord in prayer and service is a delight for those who love the Lord. The rabbis use Isaiah 28:13 to describe how the Torah should not be burdensome, and that learning to obey the Lord comes little by little with time and practice. There may be failures along the way, and the point is having the right attitude, repenting, and trying again while seeking help from the Lord God in heaven. Rashi interprets Isaiah 28:3 to be a reference to the people’s sins, that the punishment will be commensurate with their sins.
Rashi on Isaiah 28,13 Parts 1-2
והיה להם דבר ה’ וגו’. כמדתה ימדוד להם יגזור שדברו עליהם צו של אומות המשתעבדים בם על צו פקודה על פקודה עבודה על עבודה קו של פורענות כנגד קו של עבירות שבידם קו לקו תקוה חילוף תקוה יקוו לאור והנה חשך: And the word of the Lord shall be, etc. According to their measure, He shall mete out to them; He shall decree upon them with His word upon them, a precept of the nations that enslave them, upon a precept, a command upon a command, labor upon labor; a line of retribution commensurate with the line of sins that they committed (lit., in their hand); קַו לָקָו, derived from קוה, a hope instead of a hope; they will hope for light, and behold, there will be darkness.
זעיר שם זעיר שם. לימים מועטים תבא עליהם והם יתמעטו שם בארץ אויביהם: a little there, a little there In a short time, it shall come upon them, and they shall become few there in the land of their enemies.
The idea here is the Lord measures out punishment that is commensurate with the way in which they meted out their injustice to others. Notice how this is exactly what Yeshua said concerning judging others in Matthew 7:1. Exile is the logical outcome of sin in the Land that was created for the righteous. This is why Isaiah says what he does according to the TgJ as he continues saying, יד בְכֵין קַבִילוּ פִתגָמָא דַיוי גֻברִין רַשִיעִין שִלטֹונֵי עַמָא הָדֵין דְבִירוּשלַם׃ 28:14 Therefore, hear ye the word of the Lord, O wicked men, rulers of this people that are in Jerusalem: (TgJ) Ibn Ezra speaks of these men who do not believe the word of God saying the following:
Ibn Ezra on Isaiah 28,14 Parts 1-2
Ye scornful men, that say mockingly, that the words of the Lord are like precept upon precept, etc. מושלי According to some, they that rule; comp. ממשלה dominion; but better, the poets; comp. המשלים they that speak in proverbs (Num. 21:27)
We note how Ibn Ezra states that these men in Jerusalem were scornful and mocking the word of God. Like Tehillim / Psalms 1, we are not to follow the advice of the wicked which means that we are not to go along with those who are deliberately sinful. We note in the Psalm the wicked and the sinners appear to be moving, they are going somewhere meaning that they are walking, and they have a path, they are living out their sinful ways. The scornful on the other hand have seats. This is an important observation, since the scornful have set themselves up in their seats to look down on others in judgment. This setting of oneself up in a seat of judgment is what Yeshua was addressing according to Luke 18:9-14.
18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 18:10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 18:12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 18:13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (KJV, *9 Εἶπεν δὲ καὶ πρός τινας τοὺς πεποιθότας ἐφʼ* ἑαυτοῖς ὅτι εἰσὶν δίκαιοι καὶ ⸀ἐξουθενοῦντας τοὺς λοιποὺς ⸋τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην⸌·* 10 Ἄνθρωποι δύο ἀνέβησαν εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν προσεύξασθαι,* °ὁ εἷς Φαρισαῖος καὶ ⸂ὁ ἕτερος⸃ τελώνης. 11 ὁ Φαρισαῖος σταθεὶς ⸂πρὸς ἑαυτὸν ταῦτα⸃ προσηύχετο·* ὁ θεός, εὐχαριστῶ σοι ὅτι οὐκ εἰμὶ ⸀ὥσπερ οἱ λοιποὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ἅρπαγες, ἄδικοι, μοιχοί, ἢ καὶ ὡς οὗτος ὁ τελώνης·* 12 νηστεύω δὶς τοῦ σαββάτου,* ⸀ἀποδεκατῶ πάντα ὅσα κτῶμαι. 13 ὁ δὲ τελώνης μακρόθεν ἑστὼς οὐκ ἤθελεν οὐδὲ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἐπᾶραι εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν,* ἀλλʼ ἔτυπτεν ⸆ τὸ στῆθος ⸀αὐτοῦ λέγων·* ὁ θεός, ἱλάσθητί μοι τῷ ἁμαρτωλῷ. *14 λέγω ὑμῖν, κατέβη οὗτος δεδικαιωμένος εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ ⸂παρʼ ἐκεῖνον⸃· ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ὑψῶν ἑαυτὸν ταπεινωθήσεται,* ὁ δὲ ταπεινῶν ἑαυτὸν ὑψωθήσεται.)
Is it possible to despise others who are sinful? Yeshua is addressing this attitude in the man who prayed in the Temple one day. The man was focusing upon himself, all upon his own good deeds, and basically exalting himself for his own righteousness’ sake and forgot about praising the Lord God for His mercy and blessing to get him where he is on that day. The root of this may be the scornful position being proud in judgment over someone or something else. Scornfulness pronounces condemnation, leaving no room for God’s mercy and intervention. We note that the בַּעֲצַ֪ת רְשָׁ֫עִ֥ים ba’atzat reshaim “counsel of the wicked” always focuses upon themselves and their judgment or ideas are rooted in evil intentions. Radak notes that the advice of the wicked is rooted in evil men finding joy in persuading others to join them in their evil ways in order to justify their godless actions and behaviors. The scornful do what they can to show superficial superiority, and this teaches us that these things are rooted in arrogance and pride. Again, the Scriptures draw us back to this topic of pride and call us to evaluate ourselves, our service to God, and our behaviors, to see whether what we do is based in faith and humility, or in pride and arrogance. Again, this draws on the idea of obedience having two aspects, one of action, and one of discipline or restraint and by doing so one is fulfilling God’s will. Restraint involves humbling ourselves and turning from sin. These things come with much effort and discipline, and most importantly with the help of God through our faith in Yeshua and the indwelling presence of God via His Holy Spirit. God empowers us to overcome this world. The major issue is that what is expected of us is discipline from the sense of not filling our lives with sinful things, but to turn from them. The Lord God by His presence in our lives empowers us to turn from sin, and so we must actively pursue the leading of the Spirit to turn away from sinful things, such as what we see on television, the internet, or whatever one makes into an idol such as sports, money, or material wealth. Because God is always faithful, we always have hope even if we fail to always live up to the biblical standard! The point of the scriptures is to draw us back to remembrance of God’s ways, and that we have hope because we know that God is merciful and mighty to forgive, and to help us to overcome sin in our lives!