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Isaiah: Chapter 54

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1Shout, O barren one, You who bore no child! Shout aloud for joy, You who did not travail! For the children of the wife forlorn Shall outnumber those of the espoused

—said the LORD.

2Enlarge the site of your tent, f‐ Lit. “Let the cloths of your dwelling extend.”. Extend the size of your dwelling, ‐f Lit. “Let the cloths of your dwelling extend.”. Do not stint! Lengthen the ropes, and drive the pegs firm. 3For you shall spread out to the right and the left; Your offspring shall dispossess nations a I.e., the foreigners who had occupied regions from which Israelites had been exiled; cf. 2 Kings 17.24 . And shall people the desolate towns.

4Fear not, you shall not be shamed; Do not cringe, you shall not be disgraced. For you shall forget The reproach of your youth, And remember no more The shame of your widowhood. 5For He who made you will espouse you— His name is “LORD of Hosts.” The Holy One of Israel will redeem you— He is called “God of all the Earth.”

6The LORD has called you back As a wife forlorn and forsaken. Can one cast off the wife of his youth?

—said your God.

7For a little while I forsook you, But with vast love I will bring you back. 8In slight anger, for a moment, I hid My face from you; But with kindness everlasting I will take you back in love

—said the LORD your Redeemer.

9For this to Me is like the waters b Other Heb. mss. and the ancient versions read “days.” of Noah: As I swore that the waters of Noah Nevermore would flood the earth, So I swear that I will not Be angry with you or rebuke you. 10For the mountains may move And the hills be shaken, But my loyalty shall never move from you, Nor My covenant of friendship be shaken

—said the LORD, who takes you back in love.

11Unhappy, storm‐tossed one, uncomforted! I will lay carbuncles c Taking pukh as a byform of nophekh; so already Rashi. as your building stones And make your foundations of sapphires. 12I will make your battlements of rubies, Your gates of precious stones, The whole encircling wall of gems.

13And all your children shall be disciples of the LORD, And great shall be the happiness of your children; 14You shall be established through righteousness. You shall be safe from oppression, And shall have no fear; From ruin, and it shall not come near you. 15 a Meaning of verse uncertain. Surely no harm can be done Without My consent: Whoever would harm you Shall fall because of you. 16 It is I who created the smith To fan the charcoal fire And produce the tools for his work; So it is I who create The instruments of havoc. 17No weapon formed against you Shall succeed, And every tongue that contends with you at law You shall defeat. Such is the lot of the servants of the LORD, Such their triumph through Me —declares the LORD.

Notes:

f Lit. “Let the cloths of your dwelling extend.”.

a I.e., the foreigners who had occupied regions from which Israelites had been exiled; cf. 2 Kings 17.24 .

b Other Heb. mss. and the ancient versions read “days.”

c Taking pukh as a byform of nophekh; so already Rashi.

a Meaning of verse uncertain.

Text Commentary view alone

54.1–17 :

Zion, rebuilt and secure. As in several earlier speeches, the city of Jerusalem or Zion is portrayed as a woman; cf. 49.14–26; 50.1–3 . She is childless (i.e., without inhabitants) and apparently forsaken by her husband (i.e., the LORD). This passage assures her, however, that God remains her husband and protector and that she will soon have abundant children. In other words, the exiles will soon return to Judah. The passage as a whole recalls Hos. ch 1 , where similar metaphors convey the message that God will punish but not abandon Israel. Deutero‐Isaiah at once confirms the accuracy of Hosea's prophecy of doom while repeating Hosea's assurance that the covenant between God and Israel will endure.

1–5 :

The prophet comforts Zion. Due to the exile, Zion seemed empty and in ruins. Deutero‐Isaiah assures Zion that not only will she have a tent to live in, she will need to enlarge it to accommodate her abundant offspring. The theme of Zion abundantly repopulated also appears in 49.17–21 . This passage is based on Jer. 10.17–25, where the Judeans who are about to be exiled lament the loss of their children and the destruction of their tent (symbolizing the Temple), their city and kingdom, and their social structures generally.

6–10 :

God addresses Zion directly.

6–8 :

God assures Zion that He has not divorced her (cf. 50.1–3 ). God's anger was brief and brought about a temporary separation; the reconciliation will last forever.

9–10 :

God switches from a marital metaphor to a simile based on the story of Noah (Gen. chs 8–9 ). The former metaphor implied that the covenant between God and Israel is one of mutual obligation; the allusion to Noah recalls the notion of a covenant of grace, which God unilaterally grants to human beings. Deutero‐Isaiah often moves back and forth between portrayals of Israel as God's spouse and God's child, hence insisting that both covenant models are valid; see 49.14–21; 50.1–3 .

10 :

On the steadfast nature of the covenant, see also Jer. 31.33–35 , whose vocabulary and ideas Deutero‐Isaiah borrows here. Friendship, or, “peace.”

11–17 :

An eternal structure. God promises that Zion will be rebuilt as a beautiful and enduring city, secure due to God's incomparable protection.

13 :

As in Jer. 31.33–35 , the people in the restored community will learn God's teaching successfully, thus ensuring the eternal nature of the covenant. All your children…your children, alternatively: “All those who build you [O Zion] will be learned in the ways of the LORD, and great shall be the well‐being of your inhabitants, endowed with understanding.” The Heb letters “bnyk” appear twice in this verse, implying at once the idea of “children,” “builders,” and “those who understand,” each of which fits the context of ch 54 (cf. b. Ber. 64a ). Deutero‐Isaiah frequently puns on various mean‐ ings of a single word.

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