Isaiah 58:1-12

Isaiah 58:1-12
Ash Wednesday ABC


Shout out,A do not hold back!
    Lift up your voice like a trumpet!B
Announce to my people their rebellion,C
    to the house of JacobD their sins.E

Notes on verse 1

A “shout out” = qara + garon. Qara means to call, call out, or call forth. Garon is 7x in OT. May be from garah (to contend, provoke, meddle, engage in conflict; properly, it means to grate and so it is used figuratively of angering someone) OR perhaps it is from garar (to drag, drag away, chew, catch, destroy). Garon means neck, throat, head, or mouth. It is used to mean loudly.
B “trumpet” = shophar. From shaphar (being beautiful or lovely). This is a ram’s horn, trumpet, or cornet. A shofar is still blown at Jewish festivals such as Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year celebration).
C “rebellion” = pesha. From pasha (to rebel, offend, quarrel; making a break from proper authority so can also refer to an apostate). This is transgression, rebellion, or sin. It could be a revolt on a national scale or an individual moral one.
D “Jacob” = yaaqob. From the same as aqeb (heel, hind part, hoof, rear guard of an army, one who lies in wait, usurper). This is Isaac’s son and his descendants. The name means heel-catcher or supplanter.
E “sins” = chatta’ah. From chata’ (to miss or go wrong and so to sin, bear the blame; it can also include the sense of forfeiting or lacking). This is sin itself as well as punishment for sin. It is sometimes used specifically to refer to sin that is habitual.

Yet day after day they seekF me
    and delightG to know my ways,H
as if they were a nationI that practiced righteousnessJ
    and did not forsakeK the ordinanceL of their God;M
they ask of me righteousN judgments,O
    they delight to draw nearP to God.

Notes on verse 2

F “seek” = darash. To seek, ask, inquire, or care for. Properly, this means to walk or frequent – often in the sense of pursuing someone or something or searching. Thus, it has the sense of inquiring. In the sense of seeking, it can mean “to worship.” This is where the Jewish concept of midrash comes from – their word for interpreting, studying, and asking theological questions.
G “delight” = chaphets. Properly, this means inclined towards or bending to. Figuratively, it means to desire, delight in, or be pleased with.
H “ways” = 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.
I “nation” = 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.
J “righteousness” = tsedeqah. From the same as tsedeq (rightness, righteousness, vindication. It is everything that is just or ethical. That which is right in a natural, moral, or legal sense. It also includes just weights (i.e. true weights). Figuratively, this is justice, righteousness, equity – even prosperity). This is righteousness, justice, righteous acts, and moral virtue.
K “forsake” = azab. To loosen, relinquish, permit, forsake, fail, leave destitute.
L “ordinance” = mishpat. From shaphat (to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, govern). This is a verdict or formal sentence whether from humans or from God. It includes the act of judging as well as the place that judging takes place, the suit itself, and the penalty. Abstractly, this is justice, which includes the rights of the participants.
M “God” = Elohim.
N “righteous” = tsedeq. Related to “righteousness” in v2. See note J above.
O “judgments” = mishpat. Same as “ordinance” in v2.
P “draw near” = qirbah. 2x in OT. From qarab (come near, approach, accept, make an offering). This is approaching or nearness.

“Why do we fast,Q but you do not see?
    Why humbleR ourselves,S but you do not notice?”
Look,T you serve your own interestU on your fastV day,
    and oppressW all your workers.X

Notes on verse 3

Q “fast” = tsum. Properly, this is covering one’s mouth so, by extension, abstaining from food.
R “humble” = anah. This is to be bowed down. It can refer to a sense of humility or to a sense of being browbeaten or depressed. This can be literal or figurative – depressed in mood or circumstance.
S “ourselves” = 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.
T “look” = hen. This is a remark of surprise or excitement: lo! Behold! It can also mean if or though.
U “serve your own interest” = matsa + chephets. Literally “you find pleasure” Matsa is to find or catch. Figuratively, it can mean to happen or be present. Chephets is related to “delight” in v2. From chaphets (see note G above). This is delight, pleasure, precious, pleasant, a desire, something valuable, something that one has in mind.
V “fast” = tsom. Related to “fast” in v3. From tsum (see note Q above). This is fasting, a fast.
W “oppress” = nagas. This is driving an animal, worker, debtor, or an army. By implication, it can mean to tax, harass, distress, oppress, or tyrannize. This word can be used for taskmaster or overseer.
X “workers” = atseb. 1x in OT. From atsab (to displease, pain, anger, grieve; to carve; worrying in a bad sense). This is a worker that toils, someone hired.

Look, you fast only to quarrelY and to fightZ
    and to strikeAA with a wickedBB fist,CC
Such fasting as you do today
    will not make your voice heard on high.DD

Notes on verse 4

Y “quarrel” = rib. From rib (properly to toss or grapple; used figuratively to mean wrangling and so for arguments, complaints, or disputes; used in a legal setting for pleading or defending a case). This is strife or dispute – whether a personal one or one in a court of law.
Z “fight” = matstsah. 3x in OT. From natsah (to struggle together, fight, contend). This is strife, quarreling, or debate.
AA “strike” = nakah. This is to hit whether lightly or severely. It can be used in a literal or figurative sense. So, this could be beat, punish, give wounds, kill, or slaughter.
BB “wicked” = resha. From rasha (to be wicked, guilty, make trouble, do wrong; can also be condemn, guilty, inflict punishment; this verb implies disturbing or violating). This is wrong, particularly moral wrong. It can we wickedness, evil, wicked deeds, or something that is ill-gotten.
CC “fist” = egroph. 2x in OT. From garaph (to sweep away, to repel violently). This is a clenched hand, a fist.
DD “high” = marom. From rum (to be high, rise, exalted, become proud, display, offer, present, set apart, extol; to rise in a literal or figurative sense). This can be height, high place, or lofty. It can be either exalted or haughty/proud. It can refer to dignity or to heaven.

5 Is such the fast that I choose,
    a day to humble oneself?EE
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
    and to lie in sackclothFF and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
    a day acceptableGG to the Lord?HH

Notes on verse 5

EE “to humble oneself” = anah + adam + nephesh. Literally “to humble a man his soul.”
FF “sackcloth” = saq. Perhaps from shaqaq (to run, rush; by implication having an appetite, seeking greedily). This is sack or sackcloth used as bags for grain and so on. Also worn during times or mourning or when seeking humility. The word “sack” in English is derived from this Semitic root.
GG “acceptable” = ratson. From ratsah (to be pleased with, delight, take pleasure in, or accept with favor; to approve or consent regarding something; can be used specifically of satisfying debts or being pardoned). This is delight shown in favor, good will, something that is accepted or acceptable.
HH “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.

6 Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to looseII the bondsJJ of injustice,KK
    to undoLL the thongs of the yoke,MM
to let the oppressedNN go free,OO
    and to break every yoke?

Notes on verse 6

II “loose” = pathach. This is to open wide in a literal or figurative sense. So, it is open, draw out, let something go free, break forth. It can also mean to plow, engrave, or carve.
JJ “bonds” = chartsubbah. 2x in OT. This is bond or fetter. It also has a figurative sense of pain.
KK “injustice” = resha. Same as “wickedness” in v4. See note BB above.
LL “undo” = nathar. 8x in OT. This is jump up as in violent agitation. It can mean to terrify, untie, let loose, undo, rip asunder, or shake off.
MM “yoke” = motah. 12x in OT. From mot (pole, bar of a yoke, bar used for carrying; a pole that shakes and so this also has the sense of wavering or falling); from mot (to shake, slip, falter, stagger, move, give way, be carried). This is a pole, bar, yoke, or staves. Properly, a pole, but by implication a yoke in a literal or figurative sense.
NN “oppressed” = ratsats. 19x in OT. This is properly cracking in pieces. It is used in a literal or figurative sense. So, crush, break, bruise, struggle, discourage, oppress.
OO “free” = chophshi. 17x in OT. From chaphash (to be free or loose; figuratively used for freeing slaves). This is free, liberty, or a free person. It can mean exempt from bondage, taxation, or worry.

7 Is it not to sharePP your bread with the hungry,
    and bring the homelessQQ poorRR into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
    and not to hide yourself from your own kin?SS

Notes on verse 7

PP “share” = paras. 14x in NT. To break in two, divide, to have hoofs (as divided feet). This is breaking in pieces, but it is generally not referring to violence. So, this would be to split, distribute, or share. This is the root verb that “Pharisee” comes from since they were separated or separatists to pursue lives of purity.
QQ “homeless” = marud. 3x in OT. From rud (roam, being restless or unruly; wandering in a free sense or a negative sense). This is restlessness, straying, or wandering. It can be homeless, cast out, or in a sense of misery. Includes a nation of being mistreated or outcast. Abstractly, it can refer to being destitute.
RR “poor” = ani. Related to “humble” in v3. From anah (see note R above). This is afflicted, humble, lowly, needy, or poor. It can refer to depressed spirits or depressed circumstance.
SS “kin” = basar. From basar (being a messenger, publish, carry preach; properly, this is being fresh, rosy or cheerful as one bearing news). This is flesh, the body, fat, skin, self, nakedness, humankind, or kin. It can also refer to private parts.

Then your lightTT shall break forthUU like the dawn,
    and your healingVV shall spring up quickly;
your vindicatorWW shall go beforeXX you,
    the gloryYY of the Lord shall be your rear guard.ZZ

Notes on verse 8

TT “light” = or. From or (to be or become light). This is light, sun, sunshine, dawn, or daylight. Figuratively, it can refer to light from instruction, light of a face (that is to say one that is cheerful or finds favor). It can refer to prosperity or salvation; a light that guides, a light eternal from Zion.
UU “break forth” = baqa. This is to break open, breach, divide, rip, shake, tear. It can also mean dash into pieces or being ready to burst.
VV “healing” = arukah. 6x in OT. From arak (to delay, continue, endure, lengthen, linger, make slow; to be or make long in a literal or figurative sense). This is restoring something to soundness or wholeness in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could be healing, recovery, restoration, or any repair.
WW “vindicator” = tsedeq. Same as “righteous” in v2.
XX “before” = paneh. Literally “before your face.”
YY “glory” = kabod. From kabad (to be heavy, weighty, burdensome). This is weighty. Figuratively, glorious, abundant, riches, honor, splendor – a reference to one’s reputation or character. This word is often used to describe God and God’s presence.
ZZ “be your rear guard” = asaph. This is to gather, assemble, bring, or fetch. It can also mean consume, destroy, or remove. It refers to gathering up for any reason and so it can mean gather to receive or gather to take away.

9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;AAA
    you shall cry for help,BBB and he will say, Here I am.CCC
If you remove the yoke from among you,
    the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,DDD

10 if you offer your food to the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darknessEEE
    and your gloomFFF be like the noonday.GGG

Notes on verses 9-10

AAA “answer” = anah. This is answer, respond, announce, sing, shout, or testify. It means to pay attention, which implies responding and, by extension, starting to talk. Used in a specific sense for singing, shouting, testifying, etc.
BBB “cry for help” = shava. This is crying or shouting aloud, generally seeking freedom from some kind of trouble.
CCC “here I am” = hen. Same as “look” in v3. Literally “behold, me.” This is generally used in the Old Testament of people indicating their readiness to be faithful and obedient to God.
DDD “evil” = aven. Root 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.
EEE “darkness” = choshek. From chashak (to be or become dark). This is literal darkness is contrast to light. Figuratively, it can be obscurity, sorrow, misery, blindness, wickedness, destruction, death. It can also be hiding places. Additionally, it can mean judgment, mourning, ignorance, evil, or sin.
FFF “gloom” = aphelah. 10x in OT. From the same as ophel (darkness, gloom, dusk, obscurity); from the same as aphel (gloomy – unused root which refers to the sun setting i.e. dusky, dark). This is darkness, gloominess, calamity, or an adjective to emphasize how thick darkness is. It is also used to mean misfortune or hiding something.
GGG “noonday” = tsohar. From tsahar (pressing oil, glistening); from yitshar (fresh oil, anointed; oil as that which is burned to make light; used figuratively to talk about anointing). This is a light, window, or midday.

11 The Lord will guideHHH you continually,
    and satisfy your needs in parched places,III
    and make your bones strong;JJJ
and you shall be like a watered garden,KKK
    like a springLLL of water,
    whose waters never fail.MMM

Notes on verse 11

HHH “guide” = nachah. This is lead, guide, or bring. It can be used for transporting into exile or coming in as colonists. This is the word used in Psalm 23 “he leads me in the paths of righteousness.”
III “parched places” = tsachtsachah. 1x in OT. From tsachach (to be dazzling, glare, scorch). This is a dry place like a desert. It can also refer to a drought.
JJJ “make…strong” = chalats. This is to draw off or out, to loose, to make fat. It can also mean to arm oneself or be a soldier. It can have a sense of equipping soldiers for war or fighting.
KKK “garden” = gan. From ganan (to put a hedge around – generally, protect or defend; to cover or surround). This is a garden in that it is fenced in. It can also be an enclosure.
LLL “spring” = motsa. From yatsa (to go or come out, bring forth, appear; to go out in a literal or figurative sense). This is going forth as an act or the site from which something goes forth. It could mean exiting a place or the place where one exits. It can also be a source or a produce. Specifically, it can be a spring or fountain, the dawn as the rising of the sin, an export, gate mine, and so on.
MMM “fail” = kazab. 18x in OT. To lie, prove false, deceive, be in vain, or fail. Can be in a literal or figurative sense.

12 Your ancientNNN ruinsOOO shall be rebuilt;
    you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;PPP
you shall be called the repairerQQQ of the breach,RRR
    the restorerSSS of streets to liveTTT in.

Notes on verse 12

NNN “ancient” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
OOO “ruins” = chorbah. From chareb (to be waste or desolate, destroyer). This is ruin, desert, waste place. Properly, it is a drought, which implies a desolated or decayed place.
PPP “generations” = dor. From dur (to move in a circle, which implies living somewhere or remaining there; it can also be the sense of piling or heaping up). This is a revolution of time, which is to say, an age or generation. It can also be a dwelling or one’s posterity.
QQQ “repairer” = gadar. 10x in OT. This is to wall up or wall off, build a wall. It can also be to repair or be a mason.
RRR “breach” = perets. 19x in OT. From parats (to make a breach, burst out, compel, disperse; to break out literally or figuratively). This is a breach or a gap. It could be a break, whether literal or figurative.
SSS “restorer” = 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.”
TTT “live” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.  

Image Credit: “You Can Be Free” by Éole Wind

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