Prophet Pearls #48 – Shoftim (Isaiah 51:12-52:12)

Prophet Pearls Shoftim, haftarah, haftarah consolation, isaiah, isaiah 53, Keith Johnson, nehemia gordon, orthodox jewish bible, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, Prophet Pearls, prophets, prophets portion, shoftim, shoftim haftarah, YeshuaThis week, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Shoftim covering Isaiah 51:12-52:12. Gordon and Johnson begin with the elephant in the room: Why does Shoftim (and Ki Teitzei following) decisively leapfrog over Isaiah 52:13-53:12?  Was the omission of this key prophetic passage for Christians and Messianics a conspiracy or did the Rabbis just not consider it comforting?

Gordon notes how Isaiah’s doubling of words (“Comfort, comfort,” “I, I,” “Awake, awake,” “Depart, depart”) make it easy to imagine the prophet proclaiming from a public square. While comparing different translations, the duo check out verses from the Orthodox Jewish Bible. Gordon’s explanations for the translator’s broad choices will leave you scratching your head—and chuckling.

The duo end by debating to whom the omitted verses refer and find common ground even here in the ofttimes polarizing world of Isaiah 53.

"Arise, shake off the dust, Sit on your throne, Jerusalem! Loose the bonds from your neck, O captive one, Fair Zion!" (Isaiah 52:2)

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Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9) - The Original Torah Pearls

Artwork for this week's episode is a painting by Mara Hofmann, artist.

39 thoughts on “Prophet Pearls #48 – Shoftim (Isaiah 51:12-52:12)

  1. Homework: Isaiah 51:14

    Although I see the importance of establishing the present tense in context of the verse in question — In order to avoid extreme misconception — I am always looking for the deeper universal application (After all, this is deemed prophetic and has purpose).

    It would appear that YHVH uses examples of our past (Scriptural History), to reveal a deeper intent — To learn from our mistakes.

    I could not avoid seeing “resurrection” in this choice of words.

    Sure, “exile” and “dungeon”, although somewhat opposites, imply a metaphoric states of “loss of freedom” or at least the “loss of animated interaction” — “Death”.

    My take on this particular verse, in the midst of the context, is that it is implying a resurrected state, not only for the “individual(s)” in question, but to those awaiting to be set free, as well — Which emboldens my interpretation and understanding of the greater context — The Messianic Promise.

  2. Shalom,
    Nehemia brought up a very good point about Ezekiel 44:9 (parallel to Isaiah 52:1), which relates to how other faith traditions may view and reconcile these scriptures with an individual’s belief system.

    Ezekiel 44:9 reads, “Thus saith the Lord GOD: No alien, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into My sanctuary, even any alien that is among the children of Israel.” (JPS)

    To compare and contrast, Ezekiel 44:9 is specific to YHVH’s physical sanctuary, while Isaiah 52:1 is specific to the city of Jerusalem. Also, without personally knowing the intent of the original language, the verse in Isaiah seems to read like a promise, while the verse in Ezekiel reads like an ordinance.

    To get a better sense of context, I went back a few chapters to see that this section of Ezekiel, beginning in Chapter 40, is part of a vision Ezekiel received while in exile. The vision pertains to the House of Israel and specifically the Temple. In this vision, every detail of the Temple is described and measured by a man with a radiant appearance.

    Chapter 43 illustrates a most awesome promise regarding the east facing gate of the Temple Mount complex (i.e., the presence of YHVH approaching from the east and entering and filling the Temple). Furthermore, we are also promised that YHVH will dwell among the people of Israel forever and the people of Israel will no longer defile YHVH’s holy name, an action which facilitated the destruction of the first temple (vs 7-9). In verse 10, we see a shift to the responsibilities of the people of Israel in this covenant, with the command to obtain measurements and learn through self reflection. It is interesting to note that the concept of measuring the Temple is also mentioned in Revelation 11:1-3, though the outer courtyard was excluded in the measurement due to it being downtrodden by the Gentiles.

    The ordinances continue in Chapter 44, specifically regarding the east facing gate, that it must remain shut because the presence of YHVH has entered there and only the prince is allowed to enter and leave by this gate and eat bread before YHVH. Is this “prince” a reference to the Messiah, the root and descendant of David?

    The overwhelming question in my mind is whether Ezekiel is receiving a vision of a Millennial covenant/promise, and how this would relate to a New Testament covenant. My thought is that it must be Millennial, since the second temple was also destroyed in 70 CE, and in our modern time the surrounding area (i.e., the city of Jerusalem) is trodden by all kinds of Gentiles. If this relates to a covenant with the Church, then the concept of a physical circumcision would not be applied in the same way. This notion would then require further discussion about where this promise places the Church during the Millennial period.

    Additionally, I think having a comprehensive study regarding the Temple and the holy city, where Nehemia and Keith could both share their interpretations and key points, would be very helpful and informative.

  3. The Homework Challenge – Isaiah 51:14

    The Tanakh (JPS) – “Quickly the crouching one is freed; he is not cut down and slain, And he shall not want for food.”

    In the previous verses, one is rebuked for fearing “The Man” a.k.a. the “oppressor”, who is mortal, and for forgetting “The Lord your Maker”, who is eternal and powerful (vs 12-13)

    Given the historical context (8th and 7th Century BCE), the “oppressed” or “exiled” refers to Israel while the “oppressor” refers to Assyria (explicitly stated in 52:1-5)

    After reading the full chapter, the first question that comes to mind – Does the “oppressor” refer not just to the captors in the Assyrian Captivity? Also, does the passage foreshadow the later Babylonian Captivity? (51:19-20 and 52:11-12)

    Furthermore, as a promise, the ultimate fate of the “oppressor” seems clear as stated in 51:7-8, 23

    Certainly, the promise in Isaiah 51:14 could be applied to any and all who find themselves oppressed, whether by a government, an organization, or just another person. Yet, these chapters in Isaiah are also filled with Millennial and Messianic Promise (51:1-6; 52:7-10,13-15) . . .

  4. Is 53; why not both? Both Israel the nation and Messia of Israel/ And can be future from Isaish time, as Yeshua Ben Joseph and again, resurrection of dead, Yeshua ben David.

  5. Reading Yeshayahu 51:14. I had to read the whole chapter. My thoughts on this. Yehovah is addressing those who pursue justice, those who know justice, who have the Torah written in their hearts. I personally think this is comforting. We are not to fear man. Nor are we to put our trust and faith in man. Man’s ways are oppressive. Yehovah rescues us and we will have everlasting life. Our Messiah will save us and comfort us. Don’t fear man.

  6. Was and is the Messiah ment to be a final atonement martyr for the sins of all humans past and present. And was non jews ment to believe that

  7. Hi Nehemia,

    Thank you for all of your work on Prophet Pearls. I have a question that I would like to get your input on, if you have time (whether in writing or audio).

    I’ve been meditating on Isaiah 53 and have been wondering in particular about verses 9 & 10. I’ve looked a little at the Hebrew myself, but would really like to know more about the Hebrew behind these verses to get a better sense of what is being spoken about here and what these verses really mean. It would be great if you have time to address translation here and shed some more light.

    One translation of this reads as follows:
    “And they made his grave with the wicked –
    But with the rich at his death,
    Because he had done no violence,
    Nor was any deceit in his mouth.
    Yet it pleased YHVH to bruise him;
    He has put him to grief.
    When You make his soul an offering for sin,
    He shall see his seed, He shall prolong his days,
    And the pleasure of YHVH shall prosper in his hand.” (Isa 53:9-10)

    Thank you!

  8. I recognize why you tiptoe around Isaiah 53 , out of respect for those who may not agree with your understanding. But I wish you would go over it. I’ve heard and read two lessons going over it verse by verse, and it’s become my understanding that the servant was promised by YHWH that he would have ‘long life in v 10 (ya’arich yamim) or prolonged life, and see seed (zera) or offspring as its also translated. It’s my understanding that metaphoric i.e spiritual children would be expressed by the Hebrew word ben.

  9. Thanks Nehemia… Our Homework! Isaiah 51:14

    The context of this passage is carried over from Isaiah 51:4 : listen to me my people O my nation (the returning nation under Messiah) for law will proceed from me and I will make my justice rest. Continuing to Isaiah 51:11 so the ransomed of Yehovah shall return and come to Zion singing….. then forwarding to Isaiah 51 13 And your forget Yehovah your maker….you feared continually every day because the fury of the oppressor ….. Isaiah 51:14 The captive exile hastens that he may be loosed; and not die in the pit and his bread shall not fail…. Isaiah 51:15 For Yehovah divided the sea whose waves roared, ( t his was a reminder to the reader of the exile from Egypt) Yehovah of Host is his name.
    The above passage refers to “the nation” that returns… As I stated before those united under Messiah not the prophecies of “nations” later flowing to Israel. The above questioned passage also stipulates the conditions of the people are in “those that follow righteousness”.
    As a believer in Y’shua as Messiah I am charged to look to the rock from which I am hewn and from the hole of the pit from which I was dug Isaiah 51:1
    Secondarily, I am to hasten as a captive exile…. Hastening my release that I may not die in the pit. Isaiah 51:4
    Believers thoughts should immediately be reminded of the passage in Revelation 18:2 Babylon the great is fallen is fallen and has become a dwelling place for demons,a prison, ( a pit in ancient Israel) for every foul spirit and a cage for every unclean and detestable bird… Then continuing to Revelation 18:4 Come out of her my people lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.
    Lastly all of psalms 124 should come to rememberce but focusing chiefly on verse 7…. “Our soul is escaped as a bid from the snare of the fowlers”

    In my opinion.. The above passages should be a passageway of rejoicing to those
    “who follow after righteousness”.

    Just a quick question to the trio of Torah Pearls… Which of you love or like to swim and do any of you scuba dive… Or ever tried… Or ever care to?

    Thanks,
    Benyahmeen

  10. Thanks for the teaching. I also like the painting by Mara Hofmann. While looking on the picture in the lower dark section, these yellow particles remind me of the pearls still to be discovered and digged out of the deep.

  11. Guys may Yehovah bless and keep u coz am on fire can’t stop listening to you ,it’s like am coming out of a grave with south thirst

  12. Homework on Isaiah 51:14, regarding the word “exile” (Tsa`ah)
    The Hebrew Lexicon gives the meaning as “to stoop, bend, incline “.
    Several translations leave out the meaning but some include it.

    (NASB) “The exile will soon be set free, and will not die in the dungeon,
    nor will his bread be lacking.

    (NKJV)The captive exile hastens, that he may be loosed, That he should not
    die in the pit, And that his bread should not fail.

    (BBE) The prisoner, bent under his chain, will quickly be made free,
    and will not go down into the underworld, and his bread will not come to an end.

    (DBY) He that is bowed down shall speedily be loosed, and he shall not die
    in the pit, nor shall his bread fail.

    The same word is also translated as “lain down” in Jeremiah 2:20
    and “tip over” in Jeremiah 48:12, also weirdly translated as “marching”
    in Isaiah 63:1.

    • Yes, and in the New Oxford Annotated the word “oppressed” is used and “Pit” is used to refer to Sheol.

      Also, The Tanakh (JPS) reads, “Quickly the crouching one is freed; he is not cut down and slain, And he shall not want for food.”

  13. A nice teaching again.
    Concerning the orthodox Jewish bible authored by none Jews, I ask again: Nehemia, please write your own translation of the bible so we may have all your wonderful teachings in one book.
    Concerning Isaiah 53: I can easily see a lot of spoil being divided after Yeshua’s ascends. The book of acts is full of miracles. But I also know there will be a lot more spoil when HE returns. ?
    It is similar to the abomination of desolation spoken of in Daniel. It happened once in the days of the Maccabees and will happen again in a much larger and final event in the days of the Antichrist.

  14. What wasn’t mentioned about Isaiah 53, is the divinity of the Messiah / Israel / Jeremiah / righteous segment. I would say that this is the poignant difference in perspectives.

  15. Regarding Ez 44:9. Just as a point of reference my faith includes Yeshua as The Messiah through Isaiah 56…

    First, I have a hard time with the translation of the word foreigner. It doesn’t make much sense to me in relationship to the sons of Israel. Are there any other possibilities?

    Second, this to me is an extension of the New Covenant referred to in Jer 31 where God will place His Word (Law) in our hearts (thus, the circumcision of the heart.) A clear indication of the Messianic Age.

    Third, the requirement to be circumcised in the flesh reminds me of the first exodus where the children of the rebellious parents (in which I relate) where not circumcised while in the wilderness. But just as God had a plan to correct this once they made it to the promised land (Joshua 5:3), so He will do for me (God willing.) Because of this, I am not as concerned as some regarding myself getting circumcised in the near future. It is not as if I will ever be allowed in the Temple before The Messiah takes charge anyway!

    Circumcision of the heart and flesh will be required. Praise YAH!

  16. Gideons Bible version of Isa.52
    …free yourself from the bonds about your neck, captive daughter…
    (ie. She is in chains.)
    …therefore My people must learn My name, yes, on that day, they must learn that it is I who speaks; it is I…
    …for eye to eye they gaze at the return of [YHWH] to Zion.

  17. Nehemia and Keith
    A Sephardic Jew from Moracco, Michael Esses, wrote a book, ‘Michael, Michael’, that a friend of mine edited. Another friend knew him personally and heard this from him directly.

    In the Sephardic tradition the reading for Haftarah Re’eh was Isiah 52:13-54:10. The family moved to the U.S. and lived in an Ashkenazi area. He was amazed that in the Ashkenazi tradition they started the reading with 54:11 rather than 52:13. All of the Haftarah’s of ‘Comfort’ have between 22 and 32 verses except for Re’eh with only 9 verses. The Sephardic reading is 25 verses.

    Surely, Isaiah 52:13-53:12 should bring comfort to the people. There may be another reason why these verses were omitted other than the current teaching. I leave it to you to consider and research.

    Thank you both for all you do. You are truly a blessing.

    Sharri

  18. Personally, It is immensely comforting to me that there is one to bear my sin and intercede for me. Couldn’t live without it.

  19. I’m serious when I say, thank you Kieth for reminding us about support. You know, today its so easy to put the Kingdom needs on this earth, especially at this time, aside to deal with all the things that keep coming at us. Maybe that’s exactly why we are getting bombarded, its a great distraction that urges us to react to all that’s happening. I’m serious, no matter what, I’m going to step up and be more financially supportive of the only things that that even makes sense anymore, the teaching of Torah and those who make it possible to learn it, Kieth and Nehemia. Don’t back off kieth, we all need to get a sense of the urgency were facing today. This isn’t just some nice little bible study, this is the difference between life and death.
    Shalom in the Name of Yehovah!

  20. I belive in Yeshua and I want to follow Torah. I have read Ezekiel 44 and Isaiah 52:1 and I would like to circumcise me and my two boys. So I am studying the method of circumcision: brit milah vs brit periah. I would appreciate if you would point me to some material or just give me your understanding regarding the method of circumcision and how much do we need to cut according to the Torah and the ancient biblical times practice. Thank you!

        • I think you would be better off having a trained professional such as a Doctor or a Rabbi do it. I know that a Rabbi circumcised my brother and he did it for free despite the fact that we were not Jewish. I have trained as a CNA and have friends who were CNAs. I am a woman so I have no experience with owning one, but as a CNA I have to say it is one of the the last places you want an infection.

          • Locally the Jewish community do not have a person for the circumcisions, now. They also appeal to a medic.
            From my research only brit milah is required by Torah. Brit Periah is latter added by the rabbis and not even observed my karaite Jews.
            My medic friend would follow the instructions I give him. I want the circumcision to be according to the Scriptures and accepted when the Temple would be rebuild.

  21. Other than the things written about yeshua, the one prophet that suffered terribly was Jeremiah. I love Jeremiah, he had a deep love for Yahovah and his people, even though they treated him so bad. Then to have his eyes poked out, left in a deep pit and so much more. Yep, I think it was Jeremiah in this passage.

  22. I think they are more interested in fooling Christians that are interested in learning and being closer to the original Hebrew than trying to suck Jews into Christianity. I have grown up in Messianic Christian beliefs and I find most times when I hear Jews claim that people are trying to suck them into Messianic beliefs, the Christians are usually just trying to get more into the Hebrew version than they are trying to convert anyone else.

  23. Regarding Ezekiel 44:9, the uncircumcised is referring to the heart:

    Leviticus 26:41
    “which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies–then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin”

    Circumcision, as all the physical signs of covenant, is a shadow of the Spiritual meaning. The physically Uncircumcised could not enter YHVH’s physical sanctuary.

    Uncircumcised hearts will not enter YHVH’s Spiritual Sanctuary. Only those with a humble heart will see YHVH. Psalm 69:32; Matthew 5:8; Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4; Colossians 3:11; 1 Corinthians 7:19; Romans 2:29

    • How can physical circuit.vision be a shadow of a spiritual circumcision if the physical circumcision is still in effect? I do agree both have to be to be accomplished at some point. And have to satisfy Yehovah. The fruit of both will be following Torah, keeping Shabbat and the things that matter .most to Yehovah, not to man.

  24. Thanks, guys,it was great! However, it seemed that Nehemiah was not as loud as Keith, maybe you can adjust the sound, or else maybe you were different distances from the mic? Also, y’all were so fired up and excited, you were going a mile a minute, so I will have to listen to it again! It would be helpful if you would repeat the verses you are on more frequently during the discussion.
    My question is about the verse 53:5 or should be 53:8 if 53 actually starts at 52:13 like it should be, according to the scroll… People are always saying “…by his stripes we are healed…” but my translation says”… by his injury we are healed…” However, the Hebrew there is chavrato, ( sorry, don’t have Hebrew), doesn’t that mean “friendship”? Or what does it mean? I have the Koren Publishers Hebrew/English Scriptures, English text revised and edited by Harold Fisch.
    Keith, lighten up on the fund raising.

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