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Isaiah 65:1--66:24

The Lord Will Distinguish Between Sinners and the Godly

65:1 “I made myself available to those who did not ask for me; 1 

I appeared to those who did not look for me. 2 

I said, ‘Here I am! Here I am!’

to a nation that did not invoke 3  my name.

65:2 I spread out my hands all day long

to my rebellious people,

who lived in a way that is morally unacceptable,

and who did what they desired. 4 

65:3 These people continually and blatantly offend me 5 

as they sacrifice in their sacred orchards 6 

and burn incense on brick altars. 7 

65:4 They sit among the tombs 8 

and keep watch all night long. 9 

They eat pork, 10 

and broth 11  from unclean sacrificial meat is in their pans.

65:5 They say, ‘Keep to yourself!

Don’t get near me, for I am holier than you!’

These people are like smoke in my nostrils,

like a fire that keeps burning all day long.

65:6 Look, I have decreed: 12 

I will not keep silent, but will pay them back;

I will pay them back exactly what they deserve, 13 

65:7 for your sins and your ancestors’ sins,” 14  says the Lord.

“Because they burned incense on the mountains

and offended 15  me on the hills,

I will punish them in full measure.” 16 

65:8 This is what the Lord says:

“When 17  juice is discovered in a cluster of grapes,

someone says, ‘Don’t destroy it, for it contains juice.’ 18 

So I will do for the sake of my servants –

I will not destroy everyone. 19 

65:9 I will bring forth descendants from Jacob,

and from Judah people to take possession of my mountains.

My chosen ones will take possession of the land; 20 

my servants will live there.

65:10 Sharon 21  will become a pasture for sheep,

and the Valley of Achor 22  a place where cattle graze; 23 

they will belong to my people, who seek me. 24 

65:11 But as for you who abandon the Lord

and forget about worshiping at 25  my holy mountain,

who prepare a feast for the god called ‘Fortune,’ 26 

and fill up wine jugs for the god called ‘Destiny’ 27 

65:12 I predestine you to die by the sword, 28 

all of you will kneel down at the slaughtering block, 29 

because I called to you, and you did not respond,

I spoke and you did not listen.

You did evil before me; 30 

you chose to do what displeases me.”

65:13 So this is what the sovereign Lord says:

“Look, my servants will eat, but you will be hungry!

Look, my servants will drink, but you will be thirsty!

Look, my servants will rejoice, but you will be humiliated!

65:14 Look, my servants will shout for joy as happiness fills their hearts! 31 

But you will cry out as sorrow fills your hearts; 32 

you will wail because your spirits will be crushed. 33 

65:15 Your names will live on in the curse formulas of my chosen ones. 34 

The sovereign Lord will kill you,

but he will give his servants another name.

65:16 Whoever pronounces a blessing in the earth 35 

will do so in the name of the faithful God; 36 

whoever makes an oath in the earth

will do so in the name of the faithful God. 37 

For past problems will be forgotten;

I will no longer think about them. 38 

65:17 For look, I am ready to create

new heavens and a new earth! 39 

The former ones 40  will not be remembered;

no one will think about them anymore. 41 

65:18 But be happy and rejoice forevermore

over what I am about to create!

For look, I am ready to create Jerusalem 42  to be a source of joy, 43 

and her people to be a source of happiness. 44 

65:19 Jerusalem will bring me joy,

and my people will bring me happiness. 45 

The sound of weeping or cries of sorrow

will never be heard in her again.

65:20 Never again will one of her infants live just a few days 46 

or an old man die before his time. 47 

Indeed, no one will die before the age of a hundred, 48 

anyone who fails to reach 49  the age of a hundred will be considered cursed.

65:21 They will build houses and live in them;

they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

65:22 No longer will they build a house only to have another live in it, 50 

or plant a vineyard only to have another eat its fruit, 51 

for my people will live as long as trees, 52 

and my chosen ones will enjoy to the fullest what they have produced. 53 

65:23 They will not work in vain,

or give birth to children that will experience disaster. 54 

For the Lord will bless their children

and their descendants. 55 

65:24 Before they even call out, 56  I will respond;

while they are still speaking, I will hear.

65:25 A wolf and a lamb will graze together; 57 

a lion, like an ox, will eat straw, 58 

and a snake’s food will be dirt. 59 

They will no longer injure or destroy

on my entire royal mountain,” 60  says the Lord.

66:1 This is what the Lord says:

“The heavens are my throne

and the earth is my footstool.

Where then is the house you will build for me?

Where is the place where I will rest?

66:2 My hand made them; 61 

that is how they came to be,” 62  says the Lord.

I show special favor 63  to the humble and contrite,

who respect what I have to say. 64 

66:3 The one who slaughters a bull also strikes down a man; 65 

the one who sacrifices a lamb also breaks a dog’s neck; 66 

the one who presents an offering includes pig’s blood with it; 67 

the one who offers incense also praises an idol. 68 

They have decided to behave this way; 69 

they enjoy these disgusting practices. 70 

66:4 So I will choose severe punishment 71  for them;

I will bring on them what they dread,

because I called, and no one responded,

I spoke and they did not listen.

They did evil before me; 72 

they chose to do what displeases me.”

66:5 Hear the word of the Lord,

you who respect what he has to say! 73 

Your countrymen, 74  who hate you

and exclude you, supposedly for the sake of my name,

say, “May the Lord be glorified,

then we will witness your joy.” 75 

But they will be put to shame.

66:6 The sound of battle comes from the city;

the sound comes from the temple!

It is the sound of the Lord paying back his enemies.

66:7 Before she goes into labor, she gives birth!

Before her contractions begin, she delivers a boy!

66:8 Who has ever heard of such a thing?

Who has ever seen this?

Can a country 76  be brought forth in one day?

Can a nation be born in a single moment?

Yet as soon as Zion goes into labor she gives birth to sons!

66:9 “Do I bring a baby to the birth opening and then not deliver it?”

asks the Lord.

“Or do I bring a baby to the point of delivery and then hold it back?”

asks your God. 77 

66:10 Be happy for Jerusalem

and rejoice with her, all you who love her!

Share in her great joy,

all you who have mourned over her!

66:11 For 78  you will nurse from her satisfying breasts and be nourished; 79 

you will feed with joy from her milk-filled breasts. 80 

66:12 For this is what the Lord says:

“Look, I am ready to extend to her prosperity that will flow like a river,

the riches of nations will flow into her like a stream that floods its banks. 81 

You will nurse from her breast 82  and be carried at her side;

you will play on her knees.

66:13 As a mother consoles a child, 83 

so I will console you,

and you will be consoled over Jerusalem.”

66:14 When you see this, you will be happy, 84 

and you will be revived. 85 

The Lord will reveal his power to his servants

and his anger to his enemies. 86 

66:15 For look, the Lord comes with fire,

his chariots come like a windstorm, 87 

to reveal his raging anger,

his battle cry, and his flaming arrows. 88 

66:16 For the Lord judges all humanity 89 

with fire and his sword;

the Lord will kill many. 90 

66:17 “As for those who consecrate and ritually purify themselves so they can follow their leader and worship in the sacred orchards, 91  those who eat the flesh of pigs and other disgusting creatures, like mice 92  – they will all be destroyed together,” 93  says the Lord. 66:18 “I hate their deeds and thoughts! So I am coming 94  to gather all the nations and ethnic groups; 95  they will come and witness my splendor. 66:19 I will perform a mighty act among them 96  and then send some of those who remain to the nations – to Tarshish, Pul, 97  Lud 98  (known for its archers 99 ), Tubal, Javan, 100  and to the distant coastlands 101  that have not heard about me or seen my splendor. They will tell the nations of my splendor. 66:20 They will bring back all your countrymen 102  from all the nations as an offering to the Lord. They will bring them 103  on horses, in chariots, in wagons, on mules, and on camels 104  to my holy hill Jerusalem,” says the Lord, “just as the Israelites bring offerings to the Lord’s temple in ritually pure containers. 66:21 And I will choose some of them as priests and Levites,” says the Lord. 66:22 “For just as the new heavens and the new earth I am about to make will remain standing before me,” says the Lord, “so your descendants and your name will remain. 66:23 From one month 105  to the next and from one Sabbath to the next, all people 106  will come to worship me,” 107  says the Lord. 66:24 “They will go out and observe the corpses of those who rebelled against me, for the maggots that eat them will not die, 108  and the fire that consumes them will not die out. 109  All people will find the sight abhorrent.” 110 

1 tn Heb “I allowed myself to be sought by those who did not ask.”

2 tn Heb “I allowed myself to be found by those who did not seek.”

3 tn Heb “call out in”; NASB, NIV, NRSV “call on.”

4 tn Heb “who walked [in] the way that is not good, after their thoughts.”

5 tn Heb “the people who provoke me to anger to my face continually.”

6 tn Or “gardens” (KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).

7 tn Or perhaps, “on tiles.”

8 sn Perhaps the worship of underworld deities or dead spirits is in view.

9 tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “and in the watches they spend the night.” Some understand נְּצוּרִים (nÿtsurim) as referring to “secret places” or “caves,” while others emend the text to וּבֵין צוּרִים (uven tsurim, “between the rocky cliffs”).

10 tn Heb “the flesh of the pig”; KJV, NAB, NASB “swine’s flesh.”

11 tc The marginal reading (Qere), supported by the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa, reads מְרַק (mÿraq, “broth”), while the consonantal text (Kethib) has פְרַק (feraq, “fragment”).

12 tn Heb “Look, it is written before me.”

13 tn Heb “I will pay back into their lap.”

14 tn Heb “the iniquities of your fathers.”

15 tn Or perhaps, “taunted”; KJV “blasphemed”; NAB “disgraced”; NASB “scorned”; NIV “defied”; NRSV “reviled.”

16 tn Heb “I will measure out their pay [from the] beginning into their lap,” i.e., he will give them everything they have earned.

17 tn Heb “just as.” In the Hebrew text the statement is one long sentence, “Just as…, so I will do….”

18 tn Heb “for a blessing is in it.”

19 tn Heb “by not destroying everyone.”

20 tn Heb “it.” The third feminine singular pronominal suffix probably refers to the land which contains the aforementioned mountains.

21 sn Sharon was a plain located to the west, along the Mediterranean coast north of Joppa and south of Carmel.

22 sn The Valley of Achor (“Achor” means “trouble” in Hebrew) was the site of Achan’s execution. It was located to the east, near Jericho.

23 tn Heb “a resting place for cattle”; NASB, NIV “for herds.”

24 tn Heb “for my people who seek me.”

25 tn The Hebrew text has simply, “forget.” The words “about worshiping at” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

26 tn The Hebrew has לַגַּד (laggad, “for Gad”), the name of a pagan deity. See HALOT 176 s.v. II גַּד 2.

27 tn The Hebrew has לַמְנִי (lamni, “for Meni”), the name of a pagan deity. See HALOT 602 s.v. מְגִי.

28 tn Heb “I assign you to the sword.” Some emend the Qal verb form מָנִיתִי (maniti, “I assign”) to the Piel מִנִּיתִי (minniti, “ I ordain”). The verb sounds like the name of the god Meni (מְנִי, mÿni, “Destiny, Fate”). The sound play draws attention to the irony of the statement. The sinners among God’s people worship the god Meni, apparently in an effort to ensure a bright destiny for themselves. But the Lord is the one who really determines their destiny and he has decreed their demise.

29 tn Or “at the slaughter”; NIV “for the slaughter”; NLT “before the executioner.”

30 tn Heb “that which is evil in my eyes.”

31 tn Heb “from the good of the heart.”

32 tn Heb “from the pain of the heart.”

33 tn Heb “from the breaking of the spirit.”

34 tn Heb “you will leave your name for an oath to my chosen ones.”

sn For an example of such a curse formula see Jer 29:22.

35 tn Or “in the land” (NIV, NCV, NRSV). The same phrase occurs again later in this verse, with the same options.

36 tn Heb “will pronounce a blessing by the God of truth.”

37 tn Heb “will take an oath by the God of truth.”

38 tn Heb “for the former distresses will be forgotten, and they will be hidden from my eyes.”

39 sn This hyperbolic statement likens the coming transformation of Jerusalem (see vv. 18-19) to a new creation of the cosmos.

40 tn Or perhaps, “the former things” (so ASV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); TEV “The events of the past.”

41 tn Heb “and they will not come up on the mind.”

42 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

43 tn Heb “Jerusalem, joy.” The next verse suggests the meaning: The Lord will create Jerusalem to be a source of joy to himself.

44 tn Heb “her people, happiness.” See the preceding note.

45 tn Heb “and I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and be happy in my people.”

46 tn Heb “and there will not be from there again a nursing infant of days,” i.e., one that lives just a few days.

47 tn Heb “or an old [man] who does not fill out his days.”

48 tn Heb “for the child as a son of one hundred years will die.” The point seems to be that those who die at the age of a hundred will be considered children, for the average life span will be much longer than that. The category “child” will be redefined in light of the expanded life spans that will characterize this new era.

49 tn Heb “the one who misses.” חָטָא (khata’) is used here in its basic sense of “miss the mark.” See HALOT 305 s.v. חטא. Another option is to translate, “and the sinner who reaches the age of a hundred will be cursed.”

50 tn Heb “they will not build, and another live [in it].”

51 tn Heb “they will not plant, and another eat.”

52 tn Heb “for like the days of the tree [will be] the days of my people.”

53 tn Heb “the work of their hands” (so KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); NLT “their hard-won gains.”

54 tn Heb “and they will not give birth to horror.”

55 tn Heb “for offspring blessed by the Lord they [will be], and their descendants along with them.”

56 tn The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.

57 sn A similar statement appears in 11:6.

58 sn These words also appear in 11:7.

59 sn Some see an allusion to Gen 3:14 (note “you will eat dirt”). The point would be that even in this new era the snake (often taken as a symbol of Satan) remains under God’s curse. However, it is unlikely that such an allusion exists. Even if there is an echo of Gen 3:14, the primary allusion is to 11:8, where snakes are pictured as no longer dangerous. They will no longer attack other living creatures, but will be content to crawl along the ground. (The statement “you will eat dirt” in Gen 3:14 means “you will crawl on the ground.” In the same way the statement “dirt will be its food” in Isa 65:25 means “it will crawl on the ground.”)

60 tn Heb “in all my holy mountain.” These same words appear in 11:9. See the note there.

sn As in 11:1-9 the prophet anticipates a time when the categories predator-prey no longer exist. See the note at the end of 11:8.

61 tn Heb “all these.” The phrase refers to the heavens and earth, mentioned in the previous verse.

62 tn Heb “and all these were.” Some prefer to emend וַיִּהְיוּ (vayyihyu, “and they were”) to וְלִי הָיוּ (vÿli hayu, “and to me they were”), i.e., “and they belong to me.”

63 tn Heb “and to this one I look” (KJV and NASB both similar).

64 tn Heb “to the humble and the lowly in spirit and the one who trembles at my words.”

65 tn Heb “one who slaughters a bull, one who strikes down a man.” Some understand a comparison here and in the following lines. In God’s sight the one who sacrifices is like (i.e., regarded as) a murderer or one whose worship is ritually defiled or idolatrous. The translation above assumes that the language is not metaphorical, but descriptive of the sinners’ hypocritical behavior. (Note the last two lines of the verse, which suggests they are guilty of abominable practices.) On the one hand, they act pious and offer sacrifices; but at the same time they commit violent crimes against men, defile their sacrifices, and worship other gods.

66 tn Heb “one who sacrifices a lamb, one who breaks a dog’s neck.” Some understand a comparison, but see the previous note.

sn The significance of breaking a dog’s neck is uncertain, though the structure of the statement when compared to the preceding and following lines suggests the action is viewed in a negative light. According to Exod 13:13 and 34:20, one was to “redeem” a firstborn donkey by offering a lamb; if one did not “redeem” the firstborn donkey in this way, then its neck must be broken. According to Deut 21:1-9 a heifer’s neck was to be broken as part of the atonement ritual to purify the land from the guilt of bloodshed. It is not certain if these passages relate in any way to the action described in Isa 66:3.

67 tn Heb “one who offers an offering, pig’s blood.” Some understand a comparison, but see the note at the end of the first line.

68 tn Heb “one who offers incense as a memorial offering, one who blesses something false.” Some understand a comparison, but see the note at the end of the first line. אָוֶן (’aven), which has a wide variety of attested nuances, here refers metonymically to an idol. See HALOT 22 s.v. and BDB 20 s.v. 2.

69 tn Heb “also they have chosen their ways.”

70 tn Heb “their being [or “soul”] takes delight in their disgusting [things].”

71 tn The precise meaning of the noun is uncertain. It occurs only here and in 3:4 (but see the note there). It appears to be derived from the verbal root עָלַל (’alal), which can carry the nuance “deal severely.”

72 tn Heb “that which is evil in my eyes.”

73 tn Heb “who tremble at his word.”

74 tn Heb “brothers” (so NASB, NIV); NRSV “Your own people”; NLT “Your close relatives.”

75 tn Or “so that we might witness your joy.” The point of this statement is unclear.

76 tn Heb “land,” but here אֶרֶץ (’erets) stands metonymically for an organized nation (see the following line).

77 sn The rhetorical questions expect the answer, “Of course not!”

78 tn Or “in order that”; ASV, NRSV “that.”

79 tn Heb “you will suck and be satisfied, from her comforting breast.”

80 tn Heb “you will slurp and refresh yourselves from her heavy breast.”

sn Zion’s residents will benefit from and enjoy her great material prosperity. See v. 12.

81 tn Heb “Look, I am ready to extend to her like a river prosperity [or “peace”], and like an overflowing stream, the riches of nations.”

82 tn The words “from her breast” are supplied in the translation for clarification (see v. 11).

83 tn Heb “like a man whose mother comforts him.”

84 tn “and you will see and your heart will be happy.”

85 tn Heb “and your bones like grass will sprout.”

86 tn Heb “and the hand of the Lord will be made known to his servants, and anger to his enemies.”

87 sn Chariots are like a windstorm in their swift movement and in the way that they kick up dust.

88 tn Heb “to cause to return with the rage of his anger, and his battle cry [or “rebuke”] with flames of fire.”

89 tn Heb “flesh” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV); NIV “upon all men”; TEV “all the people of the world.”

90 tn Heb “many are the slain of the Lord.”

91 tn Heb “the ones who consecrate themselves and the ones who purify themselves toward the orchards [or “gardens”] after the one in the midst.” The precise meaning of the statement is unclear, though it is obvious that some form of idolatry is in view.

92 tn Heb “ones who eat the flesh of the pig and the disgusting thing and the mouse.”

93 tn Heb “together they will come to an end.”

94 tc The Hebrew text reads literally “and I, their deeds and their thoughts, am coming.” The syntax here is very problematic, suggesting that the text may have suffered corruption. Some suggest that the words “their deeds and their thoughts” have been displaced from v. 17. This line presents two primary challenges. In the first place, the personal pronoun “I” has no verb after it. Most translations insert “know” for the sake of clarity (NASB, NRSV, NLT, ESV). The NIV has “I, because of their actions and their imaginations…” Since God’s “knowledge” of Israel’s sin occasions judgment, the verb “hate” is an option as well (see above translation). The feminine form of the next verb (בָּאָה, baah) could be understood in one of two ways. One could provide an implied noun “time” (עֵת, ’et) and render the next line “the time is coming/has come” (NASB, ESV). One could also emend the feminine verb to the masculine בָּא (ba’) and have the “I” at the beginning of the line govern this verb as well (for the Lord is speaking here): “I am coming” (cf. NIV, NCV, NRSV, TEV, NLT).

95 tn Heb “and the tongues”; KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV “and tongues.”

96 tn Heb “and I will set a sign among them.” The precise meaning of this statement is unclear. Elsewhere “to set a sign” means “perform a mighty act” (Ps 78:43; Jer 32:20), “make [someone] an object lesson” (Ezek 14:8), and “erect a [literal] standard” (Ps 74:4).

97 tn Some prefer to read “Put” (i.e., Libya).

98 sn That is, Lydia (in Asia Minor).

99 tn Heb “drawers of the bow” (KJV and ASV both similar).

100 sn Javan is generally identified today as Greece (so NIV, NCV, NLT).

101 tn Or “islands” (NIV).

102 tn Heb “brothers” (so NIV); NCV “fellow Israelites.”

103 tn The words “they will bring them” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

104 tn The precise meaning of this word is uncertain. Some suggest it refers to “chariots.” See HALOT 498 s.v. *כִּרְכָּרָה.

105 tn Heb “new moon.” The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.

106 tn Heb “all flesh” (so KJV, ASV, NRSV); NAB, NASB, NIV “all mankind”; NLT “All humanity.”

107 tn Or “bow down before” (NASB).

108 tn Heb “for their worm will not die.”

109 tn Heb “and their fire will not be extinguished.”

110 tn Heb “and they will be an abhorrence to all flesh.”

sn This verse depicts a huge mass burial site where the seemingly endless pile of maggot-infested corpses are being burned.

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