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Isaiah 66:17-21: Isaiah as Oracle.

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by John D. Brey, Jun 21, 2021.

  1. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    Anyone familiar with the Oracle at Delphi ---and the stories related to it ----are aware that the authentic oracles of the ancient world truly possessed preternatural powers that literally boggle the mind. Often times the oracle would give names that were impossible for the oracle to know which were off by one or two letters (or phonemes as it were), but which undeniably contained the spirit of the name in question. They gave places related to their patron's query which they couldn't possibly know, and at times remarked on future events that took place very much within the scope of their prophetic utterance.

    That said, we shant go into some of the truly amazing, historically authenticated, stories of the Oracle at Delphi, since we have perhaps a more amazing and a far greater oracle in the cross-hairs of our examination ---the Oracle of Jerusalem -----the prophet Isaiah.



    John
     
    #1 John D. Brey, Jun 21, 2021
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  2. Brian2

    Brian2 Well-Known Member

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    Isaiah certainly does a good job as a prophet.
    I was speaking to someone here about Jewish prophets having to get things right 100% or they weren't a true prophet. For this person that was a good reason to dismiss the prophets because not all their prophecies have come to fruition yet since they are for a future time.
    Interesting answer, and I thought at the time it was just an answer for the sake of an answer from someone who did not really want to seek the truth.
     
  3. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    No doubt Isaiah is a great prophet. But for the sake of this study I'd distinguish between a prophet and an oracle. The latter channels specifics in a manner that seems utterly impossible: dates, places, people, events, by their very names. The oracle doesn't always get the name or the place exactly perfect, but anyone privy to the oracle and its target knows beyond a doubt that the parallels are beyond mathematical possibility.

    In previous threads we've discussed Isaiah speaking of messiah as a "Nazarene." In Isaiah 49:6 he directly and unequivocally calls the remnant of Israel the "Nazarenes" and says they will be made up equally of Gentiles. In chapter 48 he relates messiah's name directly to "Nazareth," and "Galilee."

    And yet with that said, none of the foregoing is even close to what's in the cross-hairs of this thread.



    John
     
  4. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    I'm reading the wikipedia article on the Oracle, and their description doesn't match what you've described. It would be good to provide a reference here supporting the "channeling of specifics" if that is an important aspect of your thesis.

    Thank you,
     
  5. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    Specifically, I'm interested in the proposition that Isaiah isn't merely a prophet, in the general sense of that word, but an "oracle," in the sense of something like the Oracle at Delphi. I looked at Wikipedia on "oracle," and the Oracle at Delphi, and will concede to you that the information doesn't go so far as an attempt to distinguish between a prophet and an oracle.

    For me the distinction is between making general prophetic utterances related to future events of great significance (the prophet), versus speaking far more specifically about names, places, and timing, than might be the normal providence of the prophet.

    For instance, in recent threads on Isaiah, it's been implied that the Masoretic reading of the text reads right over some pretty incredible instances of the the Hebrew word "nazarene," and in some pretty incredible contexts. Isaiah specifically relates the "city of Nazareth" עיר נצורת with the remnant of Israel that will be regathered after the exile (1:8). And he specifically states that this "remnant" השיב will be called the "nazarenes of Israel" נצירי ישראל (49:6). And while this boarders on what one might consider quasi-oracular, in my opinion it still functions just fine as orthodox "prophesy" for the most part.

    On the other hand, what this thread is concerned with, i.e., the exegesis of Isaiah 66:17-21, goes far beyond anything previously associated with the prophetic prowess of Isaiah in that it appears that it can be shown, in a manner that's quite literally disturbing, that Isaiah prophesies the exploits, and specifically names, the most important person outside of the Nazarene from Galilee (48:6,18) so far as the epoch of the Nazarenes (Christianity) is concerned. Far below the reading of the naked-Hebrew offered up by the Masoretes (which contaminates the KJV), Isaiah actually names Paul of Tarsus in direct connection with the very events Paul is known for in Christian circles, and accused of in Jewish parlance/profanity.



    John
     
    #5 John D. Brey, Jun 22, 2021
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  6. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    They that sanctify themselves and purify themselves in the gardens, set apart from a unique tree in the midst of those who eat swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, [though they both, all] shall be consumed together saith the Lord.

    Isaiah 66:17.​

    In context, i.e., the lead-up to verse 17, we're told that the Lord is coming with fire to burn up his enemies who are described above. The parallel verses (Isaiah 65:3-5) were exegeted in the Isaiah 48:6 thread in a manner that helps clarify what's going on here:

    I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walk in a way that's not good, after their own thoughts; a people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens and burneth incense upon altars (and who are therefore made to dwell in the land of shrine-wearers, and are made to dwell in exile among the Nazarenes who eat unclean meat and non-kosher foods), who say [the rebellious Jews do], Stay over there . . .Don't come over here; I'm a Jew, I'm too holy for you. But these sorts are smoke in my nostrils, smoke that comes out of a fire that burneth all day.

    Isaiah 65:3-5.​

    The verses above, Isaiah 65:3-5, lend themselves to this study since they parallel Isaiah 66:17. They're therefore key to the more revelatory passage in the latter verses, i.e., Isaiah 66:17. They give an important nuance that must be noted and properly exegeted to interpret the verses that follow Isaiah 66:17. In Isaiah 65:3-5, the Lord threatens the rebellious and sanctimonious Jews with their exile among the goyim, the pork-eating Gentiles, adding that he will burn up the sanctimonious Jews. But here he links the rebellious Jews with those Gentiles gathered around a unique tree in the midst of all of them ----all of whom are going to get what's coming to them.



    John
     
    #6 John D. Brey, Jun 23, 2021
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  7. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    For I know their works and their thoughts: It shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; And they shall come and see my glory.

    Isaiah 66:18.​

    The first part of the statement above parallels God's own prophesy in Deuteronomy 31:16-21, where he states that Israel will become rebellious and sanctimoniously break their covenant with God: "For know the thoughts in their mind which they go about to do, even now, before I've even brought them into the land which I swore to give them." Isaiah 66:17-21 is therefore the fulfillment of the prophesy found in Deuteronomy 31:16-21.

    The latter part of Isaiah 66:18 parallels Isaiah 51:10 thereby laying the groundwork for interpreting the priceless exegetical gems found in verses 19-21 of Isaiah 66:

    The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the Gentiles; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

    Isaiah 51:10.​

    Because God knows the wayward thoughts of Israel, he's going to gather all the nations of the world around an utterly unique tree branch, or branches twisted or nailed together (nazarene) that will be in the midst of the Gentile nations while Israel stays in the background watching the spectacle from their sanctified station:

    It shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; And they shall come and see my glory. . . For I shall make bare my holy arm in the eyes of all the Gentiles; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

    Isaiah 66:18; 52:10.​



    John
     
    #7 John D. Brey, Jun 23, 2021
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  8. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    And I will set a sign among them [that is among Rome and Jerusalem], and will send those that escape from them unto the Gentiles.

    Isaiah 66:19.​

    Jerusalem and Rome hunted down those who sanctified the tree in the midst of the Romans and the Jews on the day the Lord laid bare his holy arm before the both of them. The disciples of the Nazarene died in numbers at the hands of the Romans and the Jews. But those that escaped were sent to the Gentile nations in Asia, Greece, and Rome, where they established communities marked out by the fact that the "sign" they carried with them from Jerusalem was lifted up in the midst of them in these Gentile nations.

    The second half of the verse is the oracle in the cross-hairs of this study in that it names the most ironic character in the study. A man who was one of the Jews spying the spectacle from his sanctified or sanctimonious perch (at the foot of Gamaliel), as well as a Roman hunting down the disciples of the broken, twisted, Nazarene (Acts 8:1-3).

    Tarsus Paul תרשיש פול.



    John
     
    #8 John D. Brey, Jun 23, 2021
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  9. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    Before providing the exegesis, the correct interpretation of the naked Hebrew reads, starting from the end of verse 18:

    I will send those that escape the Romans and Jews to the Gentiles, i.e., Paul of Tarsus, who is both the bearer ולוד and carrier משך of the ornament קשת given by God to those who fear him.​

    The word that ties everything together in order to make the entire passage contextually consistent is the Hebrew word קשת. In the first part of the verse we read that God will send a "sign" with those who escape the Romans and the Jews (after the spectacle of the braking of that unique branch in the midst of the Romans on that dark day). This "sign" is further said to be an ornament קשת through which the person who fears God sees the glory of his (God's) face; it's an ornament directly associated with the unique branch in the midst of the Romans and Jews on that day of the Lord AD 30.



    John
     
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  10. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    You have given a banner to them that fear You, to raise themselves to its height before the might of truth.

    The Hirsch Tehillim
    .​

    This verse in Psalms, (60:4) could hardly be better situated to clarify the exegesis in Isaiah 66:19, since the word translated "truth" is קשט or קשת. Rabbi Hirsch says they're interchangeable. It's what he says the word means that makes it mean so much to the exegesis of Isaiah 66:19:

    In Rabbinic literature, קשט also means "to adorn.". . in Aramaic, קשט itself may also be employed to mean, "to shoot arrows." It is the moral "adornment". . . This high banner is to show us the height to which we must rise, challenged by the power and might of the demands upon our moral character and our way of life as symbolized by this banner.

    Ibid.​

    Isaiah 66:19, says God gives the servants of the suffering broken branch (Nazarene) a "sign" they will carry and lift up wherever they go amongst the Gentiles. It's the very "glory" made naked before all the world in Isaiah 52:10. In this one verse (66:19) God speaks of the "sign" of the naked branch, and the ornament or adornment קשת associated with the branch.

    In this one verse, the ornament of glory carried amongst the Gentiles is established as both an emblem or ornament קשט, and a sign, אות, in the Hebrew sense of that word, which "sign" (אות), Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman tells us always speaks of a tangible, visual, interpretable, manifestation of what it signifies. Which is to say that in this case, the "sign" is a visual image, a banner, and a breast-born ornament קשט, of what it signifies: the broken branch found in the midst of the Romans and the Jews on the day the Lord laid bare his salvation ישועה before the Gentiles and the Jews (Isaiah 52:10).



    John
     
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  11. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    תרשיש פול Tarsus Paul ולוד the bearer of the anointed/messianic משיח ornament קשט.​

    And where will he bear it, bring it, lift it up? Amongst the Gentiles in Asia (Tubal), and Greece (Javan), and to the isles even further off. Say maybe even Rome. Which is to say to the very places Tarsus Paul set up his churches when he "escaped" the Jews and the Romans in accordance with Acts 25:1-12, as prophesied in Isaiah 66:18.

    It is likely that the level of importance with which Paul treated the financial collection undertaken by his Gentile churches for the Jerusalem church is not matched by the amount of scholarship devoted to its exploration. The collection for the Jerusalem church occupies significant portions of the Pauline epistles (1 Cor 16:1–4; 2 Cor 8:1–9:15; Rom 15:14–32), spanned the course of years of Paul’s ministry, and was something that Paul claimed he was prepared even to die for (Rom 15:30–31).

    David J. Downs.

    After Paul escapes the Jews and the Romans of Jerusalem he embarks on a collection for the poor and starving of Jerusalem. He gathers a collection from all his Gentile churches in order to bring a significant sum of money to Jerusalem as an offering from the Gentiles to the Jews:

    And they [Paul and his Gentile churches] shall bring all your brethren an offering unto the Lord out of all the Gentile nations [just mentioned]. [They will collect the offering] upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swifter beasts, and bring the offering to my holy mountain Jerusalem saith the Lord.

    Isaiah 66:20; Acts 11:27-29.​



    John
     
    #11 John D. Brey, Jun 23, 2021
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  12. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    The parallel passage in Isaiah 65:2-5 justifies that the passage above is speaking of a particular day in the first century when a unique tree was set up by the Romans in the midst of them and the Jews. The language in Isaiah 65:2-5 is almost identical to that above, and is clearly speaking of the same event. In both cases the sanctimonious Jews are being linked with the Romans, who, eat pork and, ironically, "the mouse," which is:

    . . . according to Jerome and Zwingli the dormouse (glis esculentus), which the Talmud also mentions under the name עכברא דברא (wild mouse) as a dainty bit with epicures, and which was fattened, as is well-known, by the Romans in their gliraria.

    Keil-Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, our verse.​

    More telling, and far more along the lines of a stupendous oracular event, is the statement in Isaiah 65 that sets up the scene where the unique tree is set up in the midst of the Romans. Isaiah 65:2 says:

    I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walk in a way that's not good, after their own thoughts. . . They that sanctify themselves and purify themselves in the gardens, set apart from a unique tree in the midst of those who eat swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, [though they both, all] shall be consumed together saith the Lord.

    Isaiah 65:2 followed by 66:17​

    Why does the Lord say he's "spread out his hands all day" in a passage speaking of the unique tree in the midst of the Romans that's going to become a world-class, bosom-borne, ornament-of-ornaments קשט? Mind you, this unique tree in the middle of the Roman's, which becomes a shrine worn by the Nazarim and lifted up in the Gentile nations, is said, by the Nazarenes, to represent the conquering not just of the Romans and the Jews of first century Jerusalem, say Pilate, and Caiaphas, but, get this, death itself. Which gives cause to parallel these ideas with another passage in Isaiah where indeed death is in the cross-hairs of the statements.

    For on this mountain shall the hand of the Lord rest, and Moab shall be trodden down under him . . . and he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as a swimmer spreads forth his hands to swim. And he shall bring down their pride while his own hands are being spoiled by the manner of how they're spread out.

    Isaiah 25:10-11.​

    For [Roman] dogs have already surrounded me [I'm in their midst]; a company of evildoers has enclosed me . . . they paralyze my hands and feet so that I'm powerless either to defend myself or to flee.

    The Hirsch Tehillim, 22:17 (KJV 16).​

    Someone who thinks the two passages above don't belong together hasn't read Rashi on the first. He says the word for the "spreading out of the hands" ופרש, means the hands are being "broken" in the process. Ironically his noting of this nuance shines a light on his contradictory exegesis of the second verse above, Psalms 22:16.

    Because the two verses are nearly a direct parallel, Rashi is concerned about the "piercing" of the hands and feet. Jews have contended that the "piercing" of the hands and feet is an old Christian translation. But the LXX translated it "pierced" suggesting that they used an ancient text where it was written that way. The contention is between the word כארי or כארו. ---- A vav or a yod? The words are otherwise identical.

    The Masoretic Text used a manuscript with a yod, and the Septuagint a vav. A manuscript associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls has been found with the vav rather than the yod. It was only in the last decade or so that this manuscript was examined in relationship to Psalm 22:16 and it justifies the LXX translation suggesting that the translators of the LXX had a now forsaken manuscript like the one recently made available through the Dead Sea Scrolls. . . Wikipedia has some information on this under the title: "They have pierced my hands and feet."

    Rashi has the translation say: "For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil doers has encompassed me, like a lion, my hands and feet." ---- The last phrase doesn't make clear sense. But that's what it has to say if there's a yod rather than a vav.

    So Rashi explains like this: "As though they [hands and feet] are crushed in a lion's mouth, and so did Hezekiah say (in Isaiah 38:13): `like a lion, so it would break all my bones.'"

    The problem is that in the very next verse the Sufferer says that he can count all his bones. They're intact. Such that the Sufferer would be saying that his hands and feet are impaled as though by a lion's mouth, but without breaking a single bone. ----How do you pierce hands and feet without breaking a single bone? You need manufactured lion's teeth, nails. And someone to place them carefully between the bones. You need Roman style crucifixion. And that's exactly what's depicted in Psalm 22, Isaiah 25:11, and thus Isaiah 66:17.

    In Isaiah 25:11, Rashi claims the hands that are spread are also being broken, but in the parallel passage (Psalms 22:16) where hands are being pierced, broken, he tries to imply their not being pierced, or broken (since the sufferer can count all his bones) but merely jawed on a bit by a lion without it doing anything like the damage he's doing to a sound and believable exegesis of the Hebrew scripture.



    John
     
    #12 John D. Brey, Jun 27, 2021
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  13. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    And he shall spread out his hands ----Heb. ופרש. He shall break his hands and his arms by clapping his hands in weeping. ---[Rashi] Rashi explains ופרש, as related to breaking. This is in accordance with the first definition of the root in Machbereth Menachem. This presents a difficulty in interpreting the second half of the verse in which the swimmer "breaks his hands." Rashi. . . So did Menachem classify it . . . And it means that Zion was like a person who is in pain, who clasps his hands and breaks them. Hence Rashi explains our verse as: And he shall spread out his hands in his midst as the swimmer spreads out [his hands] to swim.

    Judaica Books of the Prophets, The Book of Isaiah, volume one, p. 203.​

    It's hard not to think about, picture, Corcovado, in Rio, with hands spread out like a swimmer, and with painful holes signifying broken hands; looking out, as he is, over the water he once walked on, floated above:

    the swimmer ---- Heb. השחה the one who floats upon the water. ----[Rashi, Redak].

    Ibid.​

    Yes. Rashi and Redak really say that in context. They say the swimmer in the midst of the Roman dogs gets his hands broken in the manner in which his hands are spread out. And in the same context they say he floats above the water. Which in context we might say is he who stills the water and then walks or floats above it.



    John
     
    #13 John D. Brey, Jun 27, 2021
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  14. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    Verse 8 of Isaiah 25, says: "He will swallow up death in victory." Which is ironic since two verses later, in verses 10-11, he's swimming in it: death. His hands are spread out like a swimmer in such a manner that according to the Hebrew, according to Rashi and the sages, his hands are also being "broken." Even the latter part of verse 11 claims fairly unambiguously ---in the pre-Masoreticized Hebrew text, that his hands are "spoiled" ארבח by the manner in which they're spread out as a Corcovado-like swimmer.

    As the parallel verse in Psalms 22:17 says, his hands are spread out, and spoiled/broken, when he's found on a unique, man-made tree, in the midst of "dogs" Romans. And he's on this unique, man-made tree, in such a manner that, as Rabbi Hirsch reads it, his hands and feet are paralyzed so that he can hardly wiggle or move without causing no small pain.

    Exegeting verse 22 of the same Psalm (22), Rabbi Hirsch says that great powers "have already gored me with their horns . . . their horns already held me [down] . . .." The great power of Rome encircles the man-made tree in their midst where they've manufactured iron horns with which they hold down the sufferer in their midst:

    They that sanctify themselves [sanctimonious Israel] and purify themselves in the gardens, set apart from a unique tree in the midst of those who eat swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, [the Romans] shall be consumed together saith the Lord.

    Isaiah 66:17.​

    The self-righteous and the crude, Israel and Rome, encircle a unique (man-made) tree in their midst. Israel is too holy (Isaiah 65:5) to engage in the bloody spectacle as other than a spectator. So they call the dogs, they let the dogs out so to say, the Romans, whilst they watch from a distance, sanctified, in their mind, form the goings on. Rabbi Hirsch says the sufferer on the tree is impaled in such a manner that he can't move, and this by, so Rabbi Hirsch says, horns that gore his hands and feet while the former are spread out like a swimmer and both are broken from the violent spectacle.

    And He will spread out His hands in the midst of it, namely, of Moab and the ungodly synagog. That is, Christ will spread out His hand and His power over the Jewish exiles as a swimmer spreads his hands out.

    Martin Luther.

    So did Menachem classify it . . . And it means that Zion was like a person who is in pain, who clasps his hands and breaks them. Hence Rashi explains our verse as: And he shall spread out his hands in his midst as the swimmer spreads out [his hands] to swim.

    Judaica Books of the Prophets, The Book of Isaiah, volume one, p. 203.​



    John
     
    #14 John D. Brey, Jun 28, 2021
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  15. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    Even someone who takes biblical exegesis seriously, and has thus read Isaiah chapter 66 hundreds of times, might find the exegesis above new, or even difficult to swallow, as though it strays from the orthodox, dry, dead, reading . . . which naturally it does. And yet ironically, Ibn Ezra lived over a thousand years ago, which is to say before the current readings became so dry, orthodox, and encrusted, and surprisingly, his exegesis is closer to the interpretation here, than it is to any of the orthodox readings peddled by the orthodox guardians of the faith.

    17. That sanctify themselves, for idolatry. . . That purify themselves. . . In the gardens. In the groves. אחת One. The feminine form agrees with אשרה "groves," while the masculine form of the Ketib refers to עץ "tree;" for every grove consists of trees. In the midst. They surround the tree from all sides; or it is in the midst of the garden.

    Ibn Ezra.​

    Ibn Ezra starts out with a very important point. He implies that a Jewish reading (keri) that he has, translates the actual Hebrew text (ketib) to imply a plural meaning concerning the tree in the midst; which is to say the Jewish reading he notes considers it an asherah grove rather than a singular tree. But Ibn Ezra clarifies that in the naked-Hebrew (before it's clothed by the Masoretes) the word is singular: the text is speaking not of a grove, but of a unique, singular tree.

    He next points out that according to the Hebrew, the sanctimonious Jews and the pork-eating Romans surround the tree from all sides: it's in their midst.

    Naturally this is important stuff in the context of the reading being proffered here. Sanctimonious Jews and pork-eating Romans gathering to surround a unique tree that's in their midst? And this in the context it's found in the passage:

    18. And I am (MT and KJV "I know") their works and their thoughts. It has the same meaning as "the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and his anointed (Messiah)" (Ps. ii. 2).

    Ibid. (First two parenthetic statements should be bracketed but software here reads brackets as command to use strike-through text).​

    After pointing out that the persons in the cross-hairs of the verse are gathered around a unique, singular אחד tree, opposed, get this, to the Lord's "Messiah," Ibn Ezra, amazingly, relates the statements, the events in the text, to Psalms 2:2 which reads:

    The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord, and against his anointed (or Messiah, i.e., משיח).

    Psalms 2:2.​

    In context this is all remarkable. And yet after telling us that the Lord laughs at the farce, the next verses, Psalms 2:6-8 segues directly into our verse, Isaiah 66:17, when in Psalms 2:6-8, the ketib, the naked-Hebrew, says:

    I have poured out my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will thus repeat the decree . . . Thou are my son. This day have I begotten thee. Ask of me and I shall give thee the Gentiles for thine inheritance, And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

    Psalms 2:6-8.​

    Jewish rulers (rabbis), and Roman kings (Titus became emperor, Pilate was governor of Judea) surround a unique, singular, tree, while God pours out his Messiah on the holy ground, thereafter declaring Messiah his very son, and declaring his inheritance to be more than just Israel and Jerusalem, but the entire world.

    Where have we heard this before?




    John
     
    #15 John D. Brey, Jun 30, 2021
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  16. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    The meaning of the whole verse (Isaiah 66:17) is, "When they intend to rebel against me, then the time is come to assemble all nations round Jerusalem," etc. And see my glory.

    Ibn Ezra.

    The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the Gentiles; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

    Isaiah 51:10.

    I have poured out my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will thus repeat the decree . . . Thou are my son. This day have I begotten thee. Ask of me and I shall give thee the Gentiles for thine inheritance, And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

    Psalms 2:6-8.​

    Isaiah 66:18 says the persecutors gathered around the tree will see the glory of God just before the verse proclaims that the survivors of the ordeal, those who recognize the personage on the tree, will be sent around the globe, to the ends of the earth, proclaiming what they saw.

    The next verse, Isaiah 66:19 could be considered the most important verse in the chapter. It says that the way the survivors of the fiasco, the survivors of the bloody ordeal, will publish the ordeal to the very ends of the earth is through a "sign" אות they will carry with them. The Hebrew word for the "sign" signifies something like a picture, or emblem, of the bloody ordeal, such that Ibn Ezra says: "אות. A sign of reproach . . .."

    The text of Isaiah says this "sign of reproach" will be sent throughout the nations by those who survive the bloody ordeal captured in the sign of the reproach. The verse says by publishing this "sign אות of reproach" the survivors of the reproachable behavior of the Jews and the Romans will be publishing the glory of the Lord among the Gentiles to whom they will carry the banner.

    And they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.

    Isaiah 66:19.

    And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, a branch that will be lifted up as a banner before the Jews, although it will be the Gentiles who initially seek it out. . . I'm sought of them that asked not for me; I'm found of them that sought me not. For I said behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name as Israel was. . . My hands were spread out like a swimmer, my hands broken and impaled in the process, spread out all day long before the rebels of Israel. . . the holier than thou crowd. . . So my servants declared my glory among the Gentiles.

    Isaiah 11:10; 65:1-5; 66:19.​




    John
     
    #16 John D. Brey, Jun 30, 2021
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  17. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    Ibn Ezra is one of the greatest Hebrew exegetes of all time. And he's less loquacious than his lesser peers. Which is why whenever he focuses on a word, or phrase, the serious student of God's word should take note. He's not just whistling Dixie by toying with the exegetical nuance associated with the difference between a singular tree versus a grove or orchard. And this is particularly true where the grove or orchard in the cross-hairs is in the "midst" of the persons who should be viewing and perhaps being nourished by it.

    In Genesis 2:9 we similarly find talk of a "tree" in the midst of a garden, orchard, or grove. And what the sages say about it is similar to what they say about the tree in the midst of Isaiah 66:17. The parallels are so unmistakable that it seems like a mistake of the greatest magnitude that no serious exegete appears to have drawn the parallel. Perhaps there's a reason?

    At Genesis 2:9 (as in Isaiah 66:17), Ibn Ezra points out the strange nuance that when the text speaks of the tree of life and the tree of knowledge, in his words, "there is a word missing here: the definite article in "the tree of knowledge." The text speaks of "the" tree of life, but leaves out the definite article that would speak of "the" tree of knowledge.

    The Hebrew text is somewhat clear even if it's disturbing to the Masoretic tradition. The Hebrew text implies that God created "the" tree of life which is also a tree of knowledge. Jewish midrashim therefore speaks of the tree of life and the tree of knowledge being entwined, i.e., as sharing the same root.

    Technically speaking, two or more trees could be reckoned a grove, or an orchard, or a garden. One tree, not so much. Which is what Ibn Ezra is going on about in Isaiah 66:17. Is it a tree in the midst, or an orchard/garden/grove. He notices that the Hebrew text appears to be attempting to get the serious reader to ask this question as though the answer hides a truth much deeper than meets the uncircumcised eye.



    John
     
    #17 John D. Brey, Jul 1, 2021
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  18. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    Regarding Genesis 2:9, which appears to be parallel to Isaiah 66:17, Rabbi Hirsch says:

    The garden supplied all of man's physical needs; Scripture, however, puts נחמד למראה (gratification of the sense of beauty) before תוב למאכל (gratification of the sense of taste and the need for nourishment). Here the aesthetic sense, man's sense of beauty, receives its justification and sanctity ----and this, too, confirms the higher dignity of man.

    The Hirsch Chumash, Bere****, 2:9.​

    With amazing insight, Rabbi Hirsch notes that because of the nature of the Hebrew text, it's implying that the beauty of the tree of life is more important than its fruit, or, even, that seeing the tree of life (since seeing is believing), is the true source of the tree's power.

    The meaning of the whole verse (Isaiah 66:17) is, "When they intend to rebel against me, then the time is come to assemble all nations round Jerusalem," etc. And see my glory.

    Ibn Ezra.

    The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the Gentiles; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

    Isaiah 51:10.
    According to these texts, and the genius of Rabbi Hirsch's exegesis of Genesis 2:9 (which is the verse most parallel to Isaiah 66:17), seeing is believing. Seeing the glory of the Lord is tantamount, then, to eating the fruit from the tree of life. It's gaining admission to life that can, in Rabbi Hirsch's parlance, continually renew itself simply by looking at the tree of life which, because of its power, is placed in a place men are wont to look all the time, or whenever they can: betwixt the bosom of their bride or virgin, or, if less morally attuned, between the breasts of attractive women to the ends of the earth, all over the world.

    He has covered me with a garment of righteousness, like the ornament worn by a circumcised priest, and like a bride's chosen jewel worn in her bosom, which sprouts out, like a branch shooting forth from the garden before it's been tilled or watered, from the seed of the earth before it's been seeded. In this way the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before the Gentile nations.

    Isaiah 61:10-11.

    And I will set a sign among those who escape to the Gentile nations. . . And they shall publish the image אות of my glory among the Gentiles.

    Isaiah 66:19.​



    John
     
    #18 John D. Brey, Jul 1, 2021
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  19. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    Sound exegesis of Isaiah 61:10-11 is a thread all in itself. Nevertheless, in the spirit of brevity, without going into all the sagely exegesis of the actual Hebrew, the interpretation above parallels Rashi pointing out that prior to the fall of Adam in the garden, the earth produced its fruit without being tilled, or watered, both of which, throughout the Tanakh, are allegory for sexual congress and thus natural procreation.

    But in Isaiah 61:10-11, the sprout is being said to spring forth not from between the legs of the bride, and this prior to the chuppah, but from betwixt her bosom, just as the high priest wore the chosen חשן ornament of salvation between his breast חצן.

    Perhaps because the correct interpretation of these verses is the glue that ties all the foregoing exegesis together, it appears that nature herself gets into the act in order to say "amen," as it were, to what's being said.

    As any knowledgeable naturalist, or good biologist will point out, only the human virgin's bosom blossom, spring forth, from her virginity, such that Isaiah 61:10-11, is playing on this truism.

    Whereas every other mammal must have seed planted in its soil before anything sprouts, springs up, from it, be it offspring or breast, the human virgin's breasts spring up, blossom, even as a virgin. They blossom from a virgin, like the tree of life sprouted up from the virgin soil in the garden and Bethlehem.

    Segueing with the previous exegesis of these texts we read in Genesis 2 that God plants a garden and causes to grow the tree that's pleasant to the sight (the tree of life) and good for food (the tree of knowledge).

    Rabbi Daniel Boyarin goes to no small trouble to exegete out of these texts the truth that "eating" is associated with both "knowledge" ידע , and "sex." Throughout the Tanakh, a man comes (so to say) to "know" ידע his wife, precisely when he lays with her. Prior to laying with her, he admires her beauty with his eyes without contaminating her soil with the adamic-seed-of-sin come, so to say, through the serpent in the middle of his garden.

    The tree of life was obviously a tree whose fruit gives those who eat it long life. The tree of knowledge of good and bad, the commentators say, had a fruit that gives rise to lust (which is why they covered themselves up after eating it).

    Nachmanides.​



    John
     
    #19 John D. Brey, Jul 1, 2021
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  20. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    Rabbi Hirsch's comment leads into numerous avenues for examination. Abarbanel says:

    How could eating a piece of fruit give someone intelligence---let alone eternal life. This is inconceivable.​

    In a parallel passage Abarbanel says:

    If looking at it [Nehushtan] was supposed to cure those who were bitten, that is extremely strange.​

    Apparently, seeing is believing, and believing is the source for salvation and thus eternal life?

    What if seeing Nehushtan, the branch in Moses' hand, is like seeing the tree of life, and thus being saved from death? This branch of theological logic seems to sprout up throughout Isaiah, the Psalms, if not the Tanakh in general. It appears to be the exegetical key to numerous passages throughout Isaiah; one of which, Isaiah 25:5-8, when opened up by the foregoing (so to say) threatens to unveil passages of Isaiah sealed up til this very day.



    John
     
    #20 John D. Brey, Jul 2, 2021
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