Isaiah 35:4-7a - Leaping like a deer while singing with joy

Updated: Aug 9

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[4] Say to those who are of a fearful heart,

‘Be strong, do not fear!

Here is elohekem.

He will come with vengeance,

with terrible recompense.

elohim will come and save you.’

[5] Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,

and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

[6] then the lame shall leap like a deer,

and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.

For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,

and streams in the desert;

[7a] the burning sand shall become a pool,

and the thirsty ground springs of water;


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This is the Track 2 alternate option for the Old Testament reading for the fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 18], Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. If chosen [as a year consistently offering the Track 2 option], it will be paired with Psalm 146, which sings, “Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, for there is no help in them. When they breathe their last, they return to earth, and in that day their thoughts perish.” Both will precede the Epistle reading from James, where he wrote, “If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” All will accompany the Gospel selection from Mark, where Jesus healed a deaf man with a speech impediment, leading to Mark writing, “Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well.”


I wrote a commentary about this reading and posted it on my website, back in 2018, the last time this reading came up in the lectionary cycle. At that time, I addressed the two places where forms of “elohim” were written, but translated incorrectly as “God” [in the singular, rather than the plural indicated]. At that time, I was still feeling my way through understanding the insights sent to me about “elohim.” Since then, I have come to a better understanding that means the 2018 writing needs to be slightly tweaked. I stand behind what I wrote three years ago, because my views are still applicable to the words of these verses in Isaiah today. I welcome all to view what I wrote then and compare those words to what I add today. The article can be viewed by clicking on this link.


The Episcopal Church has chosen not to number the verses, other than list the range of verses in the heading. I have placed the verse numbers in brackets. I will reference the verses by those numbers. The addition of an “a” following the number “7” means the remainder of verse seven is not part of the reading. Therefore, the verse read aloud ends with a semi-colon, not a period mark.


My views on elohim are to see them as souls who have committed to a higher power and become married together, as two in one. The higher power then has complete control over the soul and its flesh. All elohim are the creations of Yahweh, but not all elohim are married to Yahweh’s Spirit. Satan is an eternal angel, which is an elohim of sorts, as a higher power that is able to influence a soul to accept his spirit within. If that happens, then a human being becomes a demonically possessed elohim. The writings of Isaiah here can allude to this danger, which is what I reflected upon in the 2018 commentary. However, in these verses, I now clearly see the call of Isaiah was for one to become a soul married to Yahweh and experience the benefits of that divine marriage and most holy possession.


Not read today is verse two, which says [in part], “They shall see the glory of Yahweh, the majesty of elohenu.” The statement about Yahweh means the elohim forms used subsequently are those who have become the extensions of Yahweh on earth. That can only come from a marriage of their souls (individually) to His Spirit. The form written here, “elohenu” is stating the collective possessive, as “our gods,” but should be seen as the possession of souls by Yahweh, as “us gods of Him.”


This understanding can then be brought forward to verse four, so it literally begins by saying, “say to those fearful-hearted , be strong not do fear ; behold! elohekim vengeance will come”. In that, the Hebrew translated as “fearful-hearted” is “lə·nim·hă·rê-lêḇ,” which more aptly says, “those whose hearts hasten.” The rapid beating of a heart can mean “fear,” but so too does a heart beat fast when one is in love, especially when emotions swell in the young and inexperienced. In such cases, a state of fear can mean feelings experienced, those one has not learned how to deal with. When one realizes the Hebrew word “leb” means “heart,” while also being metaphor for “inner man, mind, and will,” this becomes a love of God, but a fear of what a soul should do next. This can then lead to a true fear of the world, when one does not pursue heartfelt emotions for Yahweh. Therefore, David is singing a recommendation to the young children of Israel to “be strong,” which means enter into a spiritual marriage with the greatest ally possible.


When David then sang out “behold!” (which comes with its own English exclamation point, unwritten in Hebrew), this word must be seen as more than a statement of “seeing.” When it is love of God that is felt by a soul, then there is nothing material to “see” with human eyes. This means the word is a statement of “experience,” which is that step beyond heart-fluttering attraction and the anticipation of what will happen next. In that step, one’s soul becomes embraced by Yahweh’s Spirit, so the young girl’s imaginations of romance [and all human flesh equates to the young girl state of being] are like the definition of “belief,” which immediately rises to a state of “faith,” knowing the wonder, power, grace, and presence of Yahweh. True "faith" is impossible without that Spirit being received within one’s soul.


This then leads to the form of elohim that is “elohekim,” meaning “your gods.” This is the second-person statement of a personal relationship with Yahweh, as one of His elohim; but this relationship is now established as mutually possessive, such that a distant God has become “yours” alone. This is now David stating a divine marriage has bonded his soul with Yahweh forever. While this marriage is one soul’s eternal commitment to become the wife of Yahweh [as the greatest King, He can have an infinite number of wives – human gender not part of a soul, so wives means the souls of male and female humans]. As one of many, a wife becomes addressed as a Yahweh elohim – the gods of Yahweh.


The last word in this string that equates to verse 4a says, “vengeance,” which gives this verse a harsher resonance, to which I gave more attention in my 2018 analysis. The point of “vengeance” in a positive light says the innocence of a soul has been returned by divine marriage with Yahweh. His Spirit will not join with a soul in the flesh, without that soul submitting itself fully and totally to Yahweh’s Will. While I have painted a picture of young love and pure innocence, that can only be attributed to a soul, with nothing about the desires of the flesh, nor the filth that can infest an adult brain being part of this divine union. As such, “vengeance” becomes applicable to the past life a soul has led, as a prisoner of sin in a world of temptations, with the soul’s jailer being Satan and his wiles. From a soul having “beheld” the presence of Yahweh, that evil history will be exorcised.


This view is confirmed when the second half of verse four literally sings, “the recompense elohim , he will come and save you”. The NRSV seems to have taken the words saying “vengeance will come” and intuited that to mean “terrible” forms of “recompense” (a word as a noun meaning “compensation or reward given for loss or harm suffered or effort made”) “will come.” There is nothing written that can translate as “terrible,” meaning the NRSV paraphrase has made that assumption wrongfully. The “benefits” (an alternate translation of “gemul,” or “recompense”) come from being one of Yahweh’s “elohim.” The foremost “recompense” is Salvation and forgiveness of past sins. Therefore “Yahweh will come,” meaning into one’s soul-body, and one’s soul will be saved. The Hebrew transliterated as “wə·yō·ša·‘ă·ḵem” means “to be delivered by him.”


Verse five then sings of this “recompense” or the “benefits” that will enter one’s life. When the verse literally sings, “then shall be opened the eyes of the blind , and the ears of the deaf shall be opened,” this must not be seen as physical eyes and ears. Because the soul has fallen in love with Yahweh and become married with His Spiritual presence, the eyes with which things have been seen were blind before being divinely elevated. The ears that before heard the Torah recited to them in the synagogue will then hear the truth coming forth, like never heard before. This sings praise about being led to understand spiritual matters, which is the only way to begin to act in righteous ways. Obviously, there is nothing “terrible” about having elevated eyes and ears.


Verse six then literally sings out loudly, “then shall leap like a deer the lame , and joyfully sing the tongue of the mute ; when shall burst forth in the wilderness waters , and streams in the desert”.


Again, this must not be taken as physical statements, but as metaphor. Without a soul being married to Yahweh and having the benefits of His Spirit within, one’s soul-body is crippled and unable to walk righteously. To be able to “leap like a deer” means any obstacles the world places before one, impeding the path sent down by Yahweh, the soul now easily springs over them, just like a deer leaping over a fence in a farmer’s field. The “mute” are those who are the rabbis and teachers, who cannot answer to the truth of Scripture. Those silent “tongues” will then be filled with joyful noises that explain the meaning of the Word, for all to hear. This means the dryness of a soul-body is a lack of emotions bursting out from within; but the love of Yahweh that comes from marriage to His Spirit brings forth a flood of spirituality that is uplifting and replenishing. This is like Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, “I can give you living water, a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”


The first half of verse seven then literally sings, “and shall become the parched ground a pool , and the thirsty land springs of water”. In this, the focus turns from the body of self and shines on “the ground” and “the land.” This is then singing about the ministry of a saint, whose soul-body has become a fountain of the living waters eternally supplied by Yahweh. When one does see the connection to Jesus telling that he would supply this eternal water, where water is necessary for life on earth, then David was singing as a soul that had been reborn as Jesus, well before the man named Jesus was born. This makes the name “Jesus” be the eternal essence of the man, as the name means “Yah[weh] Saves.” This means the Son of man is, has been, and forever will be the soul born into another soul – a wife of Yahweh – so all who have become the wives of Yahweh will be the resurrections of the Son of God in the flesh.


As an optional Old Testament reading that can be chosen to be read on the fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s own ministry for Yahweh should already be well underway, the lesson is to go beyond the girlish infatuation with God and become His Son through marriage. One must become the fountain of truth that waters the world around one. Ministry cannot be where one goes to some well of religion (a church building) and passes out free cups of physical water – the equivalent of a sermon about canned meaning of Scripture (which everyone has heard before and gets nothing more from one than a day’s worth of religious [not quite holy] water). That always leads to thirst returning the next day. Ministry is about touching the souls of others, so they marry Yahweh and become resurrections of Jesus – the living waters of Yahweh’s Spirit.