Isaiah 55:1-11

Isaiah 55:1-11
Easter Vigil A


Ho, everyoneI who thirsts,II
    comeIII to the waters;IV

Notes on verse 1a

I “everyone” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
II “thirsts” = tsame. 9x in OT. From tsame (to thirst in a literal or figurative sense). This is dry, thirsty, or someone who is thirsty in a literal or figurative sense.
III “come” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
IV “waters” = mayim. This is water, waters, or waterway in a general sense. Figuratively, it can also mean juice, urine, or semen.

and you that have no money,V
    come, buyVI and eat!VII
Come, buy wineVIII and milkIX
    without money and without price.X

Notes on verse 1b

V “money” = keseph. From kasaph (to long for, be greedy; to become pale). This is silver or money.
VI “buy” = shabar. From sheber (corn, grain). This is to trade in grain, whether to buy or sell.
VII “eat” = akal. This is to eat, devour, burn up, or otherwise consume. It can be eating in a literal or figurative sense.
VIII “wine” = yayin. Root may mean to effervesce, referring to the fermentation process. This is wine, grape, or banquet. It can imply intoxication.
IX “milk” = chalab. Perhaps from the same as cheleb (fat, finest, marrow; fat in a literal or figurative sense; the richest or best part). This is milk or cheese or suckling.
X “price” = mechir. 15x in OT. From the same as machar (tomorrow or later; deferred time; indefinitely or the time to come); perhaps from achar (to be behind, delay, be late, procrastinate, continue) OR the root may mean to buy. This is price, payment, wage, sale, cost, or worth.

Why do you spendXI your money for that which is not bread,XII
    and your laborXIII for that which does not satisfy?XIV

Notes on verse 2a

XI “spend” = shaqal. This is to weigh, spend, trade.
XII “bread” = lechem. From lacham (to eat, feed on). This is bread, food, loaf. It can refer to food more generally for people or for animals.
XIII “labor” = yegia. 16x in OT. From yaga (to work, become weary, to gasp or be exhausted). This is that which comes from labor – product, possession, fruit, toil, wages, etc.
XIV “satisfy” = sobah. 5x in OT. From soba (abundance, fullness, satisfaction; properly, being sated – having enough food; figuratively, fullness of joy); from saba (to be satisfied or full in a literal or figurative sense; to have plenty of). This is abundant, satisfy, filled, have enough, sufficient.

Listen carefullyXV to me, and eat what is good,XVI
    and delightXVII yourselvesXVIII in rich food.XIX

Notes on verse 2b

XV “listen carefully” = shama + shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied. The word is repeated twice – the second time as an Infinitive Absolute. The Infinitive Absolute serves to emphasize the sentiment of the word. It is rather like Foghorn Leghorn’s speech pattern, “I said, I said.”
XVI “good” = tob. From tob (to be pleasing, to be good). This is good, beautiful, pleasant, agreeable, bountiful, at ease. This word is used for goodness as a concept, a good thing, a good person. This can refer to prosperity and welfare as well as joy, kindness, sweetness, and graciousness. So, this is ethically good, but also enjoyably good.
XVII “delight” = anog. 10x in OT. This is soft or delicate. Figuratively, it can mean luxurious or effeminate. Also, a dainty, delight, or joke.
XVIII “yourselves” = nephesh. Related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.
XIX “rich food” = deshen. 15x in OT. From dashen (to be fat, become greasy, be anointed or prosperous; can also mean to remove ashes from the fat offered for sacrifice). This is the ashes from that fat, fatness more broadly speaking, or, figuratively abundance.

InclineXX your ear,XXI and come to me;
    listen, so that youXXII may live.XXIII
I will makeXXIV with you an everlastingXXV covenant,XXVI

Notes on verse 3a

XX “incline” = natah. This is to stretch or spread out, to extend, or bend. In can also imply moral deflection.
XXI “ear” = ozen. This is ear, hearing, audience, show. Properly, it is broadness – applied to its ear in reference to its shape.
XXII “you” = nephesh. Same as “yourselves” in v2. See note XVIII above.
XXIII “live” = chayah. This is to live or keep alive in a literal or figurative sense. So, it an be revive, nourish, or save.
XXIV “make” = karat. This is to cut down, cut off, or make a covenant (idiom for making a covenant is “to cut a covenant”). It can also mean to destroy, fail, or consume.
XXV “everlasting” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
XXVI “covenant” = berit. Perhaps from barah (to eat, choose, make clear); perhaps from bar (grain, wheat); from bara (to select, purify, cleanse, test, brighten, polish). This is a compact, covenant, alliance, treaty, or league.

    my steadfast, sureXXVII loveXXVIII for David.XXIX

Notes on verse 3b

XXVII “sure” = aman. This is to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful. It is to put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid. This is where the word “amen” comes from.
XXVIII “steadfast…love” = chesed. From chasad (being good, kind, merciful; may mean bowing one’s neck as is done in the presence of an equal for courtesy’s sake; so, if one in a superior position is treating you like an equal, that is what is captured here). This is favor, goodness, kindness, loving kindness, pity, reproach, or a good deed. When done by God to humanity, this is mercy/loving kindness. When done by humanity to God, it is piety.
XXIX “David” = David. From the same as dod (beloved, love, uncle); the root may mean to boil, which is used figuratively to describe love. So, this implies someone you love such as a friend, a lover, or a close family member like an uncle. David’s name likely means something like “beloved one.”

4 See,XXX I madeXXXI him a witnessXXXII to the peoples,XXXIII
    a leaderXXXIV and commanderXXXV for the peoples.

Notes on verse 4

XXX “see” = hinneh. From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!
XXXI “made” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
XXXII “witness” = ed. From ud (to admonish, repeat, duplicate, testify, restore, record, relieve). This is a witness, testimony, or one who records testimony. It can also refer to a prince.
XXXIII “peoples” = leom. Root may refer to gathering. This is people, a community, or a nation.
XXXIV “leader” = nagid. From nagad (this is to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain). This is a commander or leader as the one who stands at the front, whether in a military, religious, or civic setting. It can also mean honorable or noble in an abstract sense.
XXXV “commander” = tsavah. This is to charge, command, order, appoint, or enjoin. This is the root that the Hebrew word for “commandment” comes from (mitsvah).

See,XXXVI you shall callXXXVII nationsXXXVIII that you do not know,XXXIX
    and nations that do not know you shall runXL to you,

Notes on verse 5a

XXXVI “see” = hen. Related to “see” in v4. See note XXX above.
XXXVII “call” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
XXXVIII “nations” = goy. From the same root as gevah (the back, person, or body); related to gev (among); related to gaah (to rise up). This is nation or people. Often used to refer to Gentiles or foreign nations. It can also be used figuratively for a group of animals. This is where the Yiddish “goy” comes from.
XXXIX “know” = yada. This is to know, acknowledge, advise, answer, be aware, be acquainted with. Properly, this is to figure something out by seeing. It includes ideas of observation, recognition, and care about something. It can be used causatively for instruction, designation, and punishment.
XL “run” = ruts. This is to run or rush, divide quickly, bring swiftly. It can also refer to a footman or guard.

because of the LordXLI your God,XLII the Holy OneXLIII of Israel,XLIV
    for he has glorifiedXLV you.

Notes on verse 5b

XLI “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
XLII “God” = Elohim.
XLIII “Holy One” = qadosh. From qodesh (set apart and so sacred; God is different from us and so God is holy/set apart; things we dedicate to God’s service are set apart for God and so they, too, are holy); related to qadash (set apart, consecrated, hallowed, sanctified; something or someone set apart for a holy purpose or use – ceremonially or morally clean). This is sacred or holy in a ritual or moral sense. As a noun, it refers to a holy one (like a saint or angel), a holy place (the sanctuary), or God (the Holy One).
XLIV “Israel” = Yisrael. Related to “God” in v5. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (see note XLII above). This is Israel, meaning God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.
XLV “glorified” = paar. 14x in OT. This is to beautify or adorn, to gleam. Thus, it can refer to showing honor or glorifying someone. It can also mean to boast or to shake a tree for harvest.

SeekXLVI the Lord while he may be found,XLVII
    call upon him while he isXLVIII near;XLIX

Notes on verse 6

XLVI “seek” = darash. This is seek, ask, inquire, care for. Generally it means following in pursuit or following as part of a search, which implies seeking or asking. Also used specially to mean worship.
XLVII “found” = matsa. This is to find, catch or acquire. It can also mean to come forth or appear. Figuratively, this can mean to meet or be together with.
XLVIII “is” = hayah. Related to “Lord” in v5. See note XLI above.
XLIX “near” = qarob. From qarab (to come near, offer, make ready). This is near whether nearby, related, near in time, or allied.

let the wickedL forsakeLI their way,LII
    and the unrighteousLIII their thoughts;LIV

Notes on verse 7a

L “wicked” = rasha. This is to be wicked, guilty, make trouble, do wrong. It can also be condemn, guilty, inflict punishment. This verb implies disturbing or violating.
LI “forsake” = azab. To loosen, relinquish, permit, forsake, fail, leave destitute.
LII “way” = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.
LIII “unrighteous” = ish + aven. Ish is perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind. Aven has a root that may mean panting as one does when expending a lot of energy, especially when it comes to nothing. This is nothingness, trouble, sorrow, distress, wickedness, evil, harm, sorrow, misfortune, and mischief. It is also used specifically to refer to idols.
LIV “thoughts” = machashabah. From chashab (literally to weave; figuratively to think or plot something malicious). This is thought, scheme, imagination, purpose, or a plan either good or evil.

let them returnLV to the Lord,LVI that he may have mercyLVII on them,
    and to our God, for he will abundantlyLVIII pardon.LIX

Notes on verse 7b

LV “return” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
LVI “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “Lord” in v5 & “is” in v6. From the same as YHVH (see note XLI above). This has the same means as “Lord” in v5 with a different vowel pointing.
LVII “have mercy” = racham. From racham (compassion, tender love, womb, compassion; the womb as that which cherishes the fetus); from the same as rechem (womb). This is to love, fondle, have mercy, have or show compassion.
LVIII “abundantly” = rabah. This is increasing in any aspect whether quantity, authority, size, quality, greatness, etc.
LIX “pardon” = salach. This is to forgive or spare.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways, saysLX the Lord.LXI
For as the heavensLXII are higherLXIII than the earth,LXIV
    soLXV are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Notes on verses 8-9

LX “says” = neum. From na’am (to speak a prophecy; properly, to whisper, which implies saying an oracle). This is an utterance or speaking an oracle.
LXI “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v5. See note XLI above.
LXII “heavens” = shamayim. Root may mean being lofty. This is sky, the air, or heaven. It is in a dual noun form so this might refer to the part of the sky where the clouds move on the one hand and the part beyond that where the sun, moon, and stars are on the other hand.
LXIII “are higher” = gabahh. This is to soar or be lofty. So, this is to be high or lift up literally. Figuratively it means to be exalted or proud.
LXIV “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
LXV “so” = ken. Perhaps from kun (properly, in a perpendicular position; literally, to establish, fix, fasten, prepare; figuratively, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous). This is to set upright. Generally used figuratively to mean thus, so, afterwards, rightly so.

10 For as the rainLXVI and the snowLXVII come downLXVIII from heaven,
    and do not return there until they have wateredLXIX the earth,

Notes on verse 10a

LXVI “rain” = geshem. Perhaps from gasham (to rain). This is rain, shower, or rainy. It can be used figuratively for blessing or for destruction.
LXVII “snow” = sheleg. 19x in OT. Perhaps from shalag (to snow, to be white). This is snow or snowy.
LXVIII “come down” = yarad. This is to go down, descend; going down in a literal or figurative sense. It can be going to the shore or a boundary, bringing down an enemy.
LXIX “watered” = ravah. 14x in OT. This is to have one’s thirst satisfied (or figuratively other cravings). It can also mean to soak, water, or satisfy.

making it bring forthLXX and sprout,LXXI
    givingLXXII seedLXXIII to the sowerLXXIV and bread to the eater,

Notes on verse 10b

LXX “bring forth” = yalad. This is to bear or bring forth. It can mean to act as midwife or to show one’s lineage. This is often used for birth or begetting.
LXXI “sprout” = tsamach. This is to sprout, grow, or spring up – literal or figurative.
LXXII “giving” = natan. Same as “made” in v4. See note XXXI above.
LXXIII “seed” = zera. From zara (to sow or scatter seed; conceive or yield). This is seed or sowing. It can, thus, mean a fruit, plant, sowing time, child, offspring, or posterity.
LXXIV “sower” = zara. Related to “seed” in v10. See note LXXIII above.

11 so shall my wordLXXV be that goes outLXXVI from my mouth;LXXVII
    it shall not return to me empty,LXXVIII
but it shall accomplishLXXIX that which I purpose,LXXX
    and succeedLXXXI in the thing for which I sentLXXXII it.

Notes on verse 11

LXXV “word” = dabar. From dabar (to speak, declare, discuss). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
LXXVI “goes out” = yatsa. This is to go or come out, bring forth, appear. It is to go out in a literal or figurative sense.
LXXVII “mouth” = peh. This is mouth in a literal or figurative sense. So, more literally, it can be beak or jaws. More figuratively, it refers to speech, commands, or promises.
LXXVIII “empty” = reqam. 16x in OT. From riq (this is to be empty or to make empty; also vanity, emptiness, something worthily, in vain); from ruq (to pour out in a literal or figurative sense, hence, to be or make empty). This is emptily, empty-handed, without cause, in vain, ineffectually, or undeservedly.
LXXIX “accomplish” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
LXXX “purpose” = chaphets. Properly, this means inclined towards or bending to. Figuratively, it means to desire, delight in, or be pleased with.
LXXXI “succeed” = tsalach. This is pushing forward in a literal or figurative sense. So it could be to break out, to come mightily, to rush, to go over. Figuratively, it could mean to prosper.
LXXXII “sent” = shalach. This is to send out, away, send for, forsake. It can also mean to divorce or set a slave free.

Image credit: “Myrtaceae (myrtle family); Syzygium laetum” by Dinesh Valke, 2014.

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply