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Isaiah 50:4-9a - Lords a leaping

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

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[4] adonay Yahweh has given me

the tongue of a teacher,

that I may know how to sustain

the weary with a word.

Morning by morning he wakens--

wakens my ear

to listen as those who are taught.

[5] adonay Yahweh has opened my ear,

and I was not rebellious,

I did not turn backward.

[6] I gave my back to those who struck me,

and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;

I did not hide my face

from insult and spitting.

[7] wadonay Yahweh helps me;

therefore I have not been disgraced;

therefore I have set my face like flint,

and I know that I shall not be put to shame;

[8] he who vindicates me is near.

Who will contend with me?

Let us stand up together.

Who are my adversaries?

Let them confront me.

[9a] It is adonay Yahweh who helps me;

who will declare me guilty?


This is the Track 2 Old Testament reading that can be chosen for reading on the sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 19], Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. If Track 2 is chosen for reading this year, it will be accompanied by a reading from Psalm 116, which sings, “The Lord watches over the innocent; I was brought very low, and he helped me.” That pair will precede the Epistle reading from James, where he wrote, “For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle.” All will accompany the Gospel reading from Mark, where Jesus said, “Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

In the above English translation, in four places the NRSV translated “adonay Yahweh” as “the Lord God.” Because this is not the truth of that written, I have restored the Hebrew text in those four places. First of all, the Hebrew word “adon” is the singular number word “lord.” It does not demand capitalization, as Yahweh has no lord, only human beings [i.e.: souls] have “lords.” Because “adonay” is the plural number, as “lords,” with there being only one God [i.e.: Yahweh], the intent is as a statement of that which “lords” over human souls; so, the capitalization need not be applied. As for “Yahweh” being translated as “God,” the Hebrew word for “god” is “el,” which was not written. The proper name “Yah-weh” from “יְהוִה֙,” is specifically for the “One God of Israel,” where “Israel” means “He Retains God.” When one retains God, then “Yahweh” is one’s “lord,” not some generic “lord” or “god.” The plural number word for “gods” is “elohim.”

Also, one will note that the Episcopal Church has made the decision to remove the verse numbering. I have applied the numbers, which appear in bold type, between brackets. In the subsequent analysis of this reading, I will refer to the verses by number. My applying those numbers will make it easier for the interested seekers to follow that analysis. Where I list “9a,” this means the full text of verse nine is not included in this reading. Only the first words will then be read. However, the full verse might need to be examined to make what is in the “a” part make more sense.

The BibleHub Interlinear website lists verses four through eleven [the last verse in this chapter of Isaiah] as being headed: “The Servant’s Obedience.” This is, of course, a matter of opinion that was not written by Isaiah, although the title should reflect verbiage that Isaiah did write. The NRSV [the Episcopal Church references that translator as the source of its text] shows these verses as headed: “The Servant’s Humiliation and Vindication.” Again, this should be seen as reflected in the actual verbiage written by Isaiah.

Verse four literally translates into English as: “adonay Yahweh has given me the tongue of the learned , to know how to speak to the faint , speaks ; he awakens me the break of day coming of daylight , he awakens me my ear to hear as the learned .” While the NRSV translation makes this simple to discern, using words like “teacher” and “taught,” their translation of “The Lord God” doing that to Isaiah gives the impression that anyone can roll out of bed in the morning and begin to teach what God wants taught. Ask anyone how he or she says what Scripture means and he or she can say, “The Lord God” said so. The question is then, “What makes you so special that you have a clue what “The Lord God” means?” The only answer possible is, “Well, Yahweh is my lord, which makes me one of His elohim, or one of His whose “lord” is “Yahweh,” also known as His “adonay.” Only by being able to see that written does it make sense that one of Yahweh’s adonay have been “given the tongue of the learned.”

When this selected reading is seen as an option relative to Proverbs 1, where Solomon waxed intelligently about wisdom, one can expect he was one “of the learned,” if not the most “learned” of all history. Isaiah was most likely a ‘graduate’ of the school of prophets in Jerusalem, thus “learned,” so he had a brain and was able to use it. Still, Solomon was an elohim of worldly wisdom [called a goddess, as a “she”] and Isaiah was an “adonay” [one whose spiritual “lord” was] of “Yahweh.” This says “Yahweh has given me the tongue of the learned” is a higher frame of ‘knowledge’ than anything a fleshy brain can calculate. The “tongue” of Yahweh is what many refer to [without understanding] as “speaking in tongues.” No big brained people can do that, unless they have married Yahweh and become “adonay” of His.

When the second segment of words then says, “to know how to speak to the faint,” the words translated as “to the faint” are “’êṯ.yā·‘êp̄,” from “eth yaeph,” meaning “to the weary or faint.” At this time, Jerusalem had fallen and the Temple destroyed, with all the big brains that caused all that destruction tired of coming up with excuses for why they were not smart enough to see that coming. Yahweh spoke to Isaiah so his “tongue” would be that of a true prophet, who would be able to divinely encourage those who lost everything because of their fleshy brains’ limitations, giving them strength that allowed spiritual wisdom, unlike that possessed by Solomon. Solomon-like wisdom brought about the falls of two nations of peoples; and, such wisdom is the mother of all philosophies and doctrines that reject Yahweh and always lead to ruin.

When Isaiah wrote the same Hebrew word twice, such that it can be translated differently each time, as: “he awakens me the break of day coming,” this “speaks” of the light of insight that is the truth which comes from Yahweh. The truth is a dawning of knowledge that can never be predicted by science or mathematics, but always explained as valid in hindsight. That makes wisdom the fumbling around in darkness, which often leads to very bad conclusions. Thus, Isaiah said “he awakens me my ear to hear as the learned,” which means the whispers that come to those souls married to Yahweh allows them to follow divine leads of insight that take one to the truth, which is always the objective of wisdom.

In the fifth verse is repeated “adonay Yahweh,” where it states literally: “adonay Yahweh has opened my ear , and I not was rebellious ; away not did I turn .” Again, Isaiah is saying that his soul’s marriage to Yahweh allowed him to hear His voice guiding his actions. The word saying “rebellious” [“marah”] becomes a statement of obedience, which is customary for a wife to submit to the will of her husband, as well as a subject to submit his or her will to a king. That says that instead of turning away from Yahweh’s presence, Isaiah welcomed it into his soul. This is a further statement of divine marriage.

The sixth verse then can be shown to state, “my body I gave to those who stuck , and my cheeks to those who pluck the beard ; my face not did I hide , from insult and spitting .” From verse five being seen as a statement of submission to Yahweh, Isaiah next said, “my body I gave” [“gê·wî nā·ṯat·tî,” from “gev nathan”], where “gev” means “the back, midst.” When “midst” is used, such that it implies one’s whole “body,” this is the flesh Isaiah “gave” in submission to Yahweh’s will. While that can then be seen as a “back” that was whipped [not something Isaiah experienced], that mental direction leads away from the deeper truth of divine marriage of a soul to Yahweh, so the flesh became His to use. That then makes “those who struck” [“lə·mak·kîm”] relate to the Judaeans who had been “defeated” and “taken” into captivity.

The metaphor of allowing others to pull out the beard on Isaiah’s face, the truth of the word “marat” is “to make smooth, bare or bald, to scour, polish.” Because the beard was a sign of devotion to Yahweh, to be clean shaven was a sign of having lost that devotion. As such, the “cheeks” or the “jawbone” of Isaiah, as parts of his “body given” to Yahweh, to help those “stricken,” it was his beard of priesthood that was being offered to those whose beards had been “plucked out” by the Babylon dominators. Thus, when Isaiah said, “my face not did I hide” that speaks two ways. First, it says Isaiah did not hide his face as a priest of Yahweh. Second, it says it was not the face of Isaiah that was seen, because he hid his face when he put on the face of Yahweh, when he became an “adonay Yahweh.” That face was the strength that could not be phased by “insults and spitting.”

Verse seven again repeats “adonay Yahweh," although “adonay” is adjusted in spelling, as “wadonay,” meaning “for adonay Yahweh.” Seeing that, verse seven then literally translates to say in English: “for adonay Yahweh will help me , upon thus not I will be humiliated ; upon thus I have set my face like a flint , and I know that not will I be ashamed .” Here, one should allow the insight of Solomon’s wisdom found in Proverbs 1 as ridicule placed upon those who are simple and love simplicity. Solomon’s soul served a worldly goddess as his “lord,” so he was like the leaders of Judah that had become the “faint” and “clean shaven.” They were unable to keep the face of Yahweh’s servants, with His face in like flint. This, again, leads one to need to see the power of divine presence that is an “adonay Yahweh.”

Because Isaiah was a simple mind that sacrificed his ‘big brain’ to obedience to Yahweh’s Will, there was nothing anyone could do to make his soul ever feel shame. As such, the words that literally translate as “I know that not will I be ashamed” also speaks two ways. First, Isaiah could not feel shame from being a true prophet of Yahweh, who served Him obediently. Second, however, it says Isaiah also knew those who did not serve Yahweh in the same way [Solomon and all his buddies of wisdom], once in captivity they would be filled with the humiliation and shame of having been overthrown by those who served other gods.

Verse eight then literally translates to say in English, “near who makes me righteous , who will contend with me let us stand together ; who my lord my judgment ? let him approach me .” In this, the Hebrew word “qā·rō·wḇ” (“qarob”) begins this verse, while “yig·gaš” (“nagash”) ends it, with both words capable of translating as “near.” The first usage is a statement of Yahweh being one with one’s soul [an adonay Yahweh], so the Spirit is what keep Him “near.” When the second use arises, this is for those who are external, therefore close enough to confront, such that those “come near” or “approach,” while not being within one’s body and soul.

The internal question, which basically asks, “Who is my lord and who casts judgment on me?” is a statement that Isaiah was one of Yahweh’s “lords,” His adonay. When that is seen from those repeated words, one can know this question says Isaiah will only be led by the One God he allows to lead him, no matter who owns his flesh and forces that flesh into service. It is the soul of Isaiah who decides who will truly be his “lord.”

In that, the “nearness” of Yahweh in Isaiah’s soul was how he could be made to be “righteous.” In captivity, when one’s failure to serve Yahweh was why many Jews felt faint, the pretense of family lineage, as birthrights no longer served captive slaves, there was no reason to contend with one another, as if one’s past rank meant anything anymore. As those who had professed service to Yahweh [whether true or not], then was the time to “stand together.” As Jews, all should be making the decision who would be his or her true “lord,” as all should marry their souls to Yahweh and become His adonay. Therefore, “let him approach me” should be the willingness to marry Yahweh and let His Spirit come near, which will mean nobody else could ever bring harm to that soul. So, bring em on!

In verse nine, the last verse of this reading, the whole verse translated literally into English as: “behold! adonay Yahweh will help me , who he will condemn me ; indeed they all like a garment will grow old , the moth will eat them up .” In this, the part “a” is that leading up to the semi-colon. One more time, Isaiah made it clear that the “help” that comes only comes to a soul. That is the surety that a soul “beholds.” The condemnation [from the Hebrew “yar·šî·‘ê·nî”] becomes anyone who leads one’s soul to “wickedness,” which is all external influences [living or dead]. This is then seen to be a statement of oppression, such that being a slave to an owner is nothing more than a fact of life on earth. Oppressors are like matter, as it is always in a state of change. Today’s new is tomorrow’s old. Nothing lasts forever [with “thing” the focus of truth]. A soul last forever; so, to avoid its condemnation, the only “lord” that matters is Yahweh. Therefore, a soul is called by Isaiah to become an “adonay Yahweh.”

As the Track 2 Old Testament reading selection for the sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s own personal ministry to Yahweh should already be well underway, the lesson here is to do as Isaiah said and become an adonay Yahweh. That means letting Yahweh be one’s lord, by becoming married to His Spirit, as an elohim. One must become the extension of God’s hand on earth. One is called to be a true prophet, one who is sent into the world in ministry. It is not a job or vocation. It does not come with papers and titles. It is guaranteed no respect and no privilege. It only comes with the promise of eternal life; but to redeem that promissory note, one has to do the deeds of service. That is what an adonay Yahweh does, without question.

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