Isaiah 29:13 &14
Context of the Scripture:
God is expressing a state of condition that He sees in the Israelite’s; saying the Israeli’s draw near to Him outwardly – with verbal expressions they express honor, but not honor from their heart. Their fear of Him is a commandment that has been learned by meaningless repetition. He then goes on to say that He will again do a marvelous work and a wonder, however the wisdom of the wise men will go away, and He will hide the prudence of the prudent men.
And the Lord said: For as much as this people draw near, and with their mouth and with their lips do honor Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear of Me is a commandment of men learned by rote;Isaiah 29:13, 14
How verse is used in the NT:
The writer tells us that Jesus is quoting the first portion of this prophecy. He quotes the first half of verse 13 similar to the original but the second half of the verse is different.
COMPARE THE COLOR HIGHLIGHTED COMPARISON:
- Isaiah says,
“and their fear of Me is a commandment of men learned by rote;”.
- Matthew says,
“And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
Isaiah’s prophecy is stating that their fear of The Lord is a commandment that is learned by “rote”. Matthew instead is saying, that in vain they worship G-d, and “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men”. Isaiah is telling us that the method being used to learn was by “rote”. Rote learning is meaningless repetition. We can learn by repetition, but if it is meaningless repetition, it is not coming from the heart. Isaiah tells us that their fear of The Lord was a rote learned commandment.
- And the Lord said: For as much as this people draw near, and with their mouth and with their lips do honor Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear of Me is a commandment of men learned by rote; (JPS)
Matt 15:8, 9
- ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
- And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ” (NKJ)
The first portion of the verse is similar, however following Matthew’s “but their heart is far from Me”, it changes.
- Isaiah, “and their fear of Me”,
- becomes “And in vain they worship Me”,
- Isaiah’s “is a commandment of men”
- remains the same,
- Isaiah’s “learned by rote”,
- becomes “ teaching as doctrine”.
- Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the prudence of their prudent men shall be hid. (JPS)
Isaiah goes on to say in verse 14, that G-d will do a marvelous work with them again including a wonder. He tells us that the wisdom of their wise men will go away, and the prudence of the prudent men will be hidden. Prudence is being wise in handling practical matters or the ability to exercise good judgment or common sense. He doesn’t say that prudence will go away, but He says it will be hidden. He says that He was taking “Wisdom away” but “Prudence” was being hidden. In Judaism I believe we have many Sages that can easily fall under the category of “Prudent”. With this I believe that we can say that even though prudence has been hidden, HaShem makes it exposed to those He desires to expose it to.
Context of the Scripture:
Hark! one calleth: ‘Clear ye in the wilderness the way of the LORD, make plain in the desert a highway for our God. (JPS)
A voice is crying out in the wilderness, “Clear the way of Ha Shem, and make the way plain in the desert as a highway for our G-d. Who is speaking, and when?
According to the Soncino commentary1 of Isaiah, the voice is referring to a heavenly voice, that cries out. For a highway to be built for HaShem. The purpose is to lead all the exiles back to Israel. The wilderness is referring to the area between Persia and Israel.
The prophesy was fulfilled after the time of exile, when the Israelites were actually sent back by the King of Persia, and were to reestablish the Temple in Jerusalem. A way way was cleared, and a highway was established for the Israeli’s to return.
How verse is used in the NT
This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord,make straight paths for Him.’ ” (NKJ)
Note some differences between the original from the Tanach (Old Testament) and how Matthew presents it. Left out of Matthew is; “Hark, one calleth,” , “in the desert”, and “God”. I include God in this list because it wasn’t until years later that Christianity adopted the doctrine of Jesus to be God. So why use “Him” instead of using “God”, as in the original passage in Isaiah? The Christian presumption would be Jesus.
As opposed to the understanding of the prophecy given above, the writer of Matthew tweaks the prophecy to promote a belief that Isaiah is prophesying someone physically calling in the wilderness a pathway for “the Lord”, meaning the end time messiah. This voice that is calling in the wilderness is John the Baptist, who is preparing the way to make the path straight, for Jesus from Nazareth.
Notice the differences when the two verses are parallel to each otherl
- ISAIAH – Hark! one calleth: ‘Clear ye in the wilderness the way of the LORD, make plain in the desert a highway for our God.
- MATTHEW – “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.’ ”
Take note how the writer of Matthew leaves out “in the desert a” from the original text. Persia was a desert, where as the area of John the Baptist wasn’t considered a desert along the Jordan River.
Compare the highlighted areas . It is my opinion, these two readings are different.
Number 1. Isaiah is saying that one is calling to clear in the wilderness the way, of the Lord (Adoni) and to make plain (to make it clear), in the desert a highway (a large road or passage way to travel on) for our God.
Number 2. Matthew is saying that this voice is call from the wilderness, to prepare the way for the Lord (Adoni) make straight paths (not paths is plural, and a path is much smaller than a highway, eluding that Adoni could use various paths), for Him (eluding to Adoni).
The writer then goes on to lead his readers that the one voice of the cone calling is John the Baptist, and the Lord or Adoni is Jesus.
I suggest that Mathews translation of Isaiah to Greek is not accurate, it’s a misquote and parts of the original are left out. It appears that the writer miss using the Scripture to accomplish his objective.
This is another example of a verse from the Tanach being adjusted to present a self serving conclusion, by the New Testament writer.
Isaiah 42: 1-4
Behold My servant, whom I uphold; Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth; I have put My spirit upon him, He shall make the right to go forth to the nations.He shall not cry, nor lift up, Nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.A bruised reed shall he not break, And the dimly burning wick shall he not quench; He shall make the right to go forth according to the truth.He shall not fail nor be crushed, Till he have set the right in the earth; And the isles shall wait for his teaching. (JPS)
“Here is My Servant, whom I have chosen, My beloved, in whom My soul delights. I will put My Spirit on Him, and He will proclaim justice to the nations.He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear His voice in the streets.A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not extinguish, till He leads justice to victory.In His name the nations will put their hope.”c (NKJ)
I will lay these two verses together and compare the them with highlighted colors.
- Behold My servant, whom I uphold; Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth; I have put My spirit upon him, He shall make the right to go forth to the nations.
- “Here is My Servant, whom I have chosen, My beloved, in whom My soul delights. I will put My Spirit on Him, and He will proclaim justice to the nations.
Isaiah says, “I have”, and Matthew misquotes stating, “I will”. This difference changes the meaning of the actual prophecy. Why would Matthew not use the Prophecy as Isaiah stated it in the Tanach (Old Testament)? Isaiah uses the Hebrew word “natatti” translation as “I have put” (or “to give”); the verse could read, “I have given My spirit upon him”. While Matthew changes natatti to read in the Greek as, “theso” (Greek for “I will put”). The Greek word “theso” is found three times in the New Testament, first in this passage, and in John 13: 37 as “I will….” and then in 1 Corinthians 9:18 as “I may …”. In each of these occurrences it implies to do something in the future, as opposed to the Hebrew word “natatti” implying action; either that has happened, or is happening. I am not a Bible solar, therefore this is only my opinion.
- He shall not cry, nor lift up, Nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.
- He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear His voice in the streets.
Isaiah’s “He shall not cry nor lift up” verses Matthew’s “He will not quarrel or cry out”, does not read the same. Isaiah is saying that he will not, “tsaw-ak” to cry or cry out, nor “naw-saw” to exalt himself. Matthew on the other hand, from what he wrote in the Greek says, He will not “er-id-zo”, wrangle, or engage in strife, or “krow-gad-zo”, to cry out, to shout, cry out to some one.
“Nor cause his voice to be heard”, versus “no one will hear His voice”, is a change in how his voice will be heard or not heard. The writer of Matthew says streets (Plural) whereas Isaiah says street (singular).
- A bruised reed shall he not break, And the dimly burning wick shall he not quench; he shall make the right to go forth according to the truth.
- A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not extinguish, till He leads justice to victory.
Isaiah says, “He shall make the right to go forth”, while Matthew adds “till” eluding that the previous will happen until he “leads to victory”. Matthew completely leaves out “according to the truth”. When the righteous go forth they will go with the truth (Hebrew – emit). What is the truth? How do we accomplish “according” to the truth?
- He shall not fail nor be crushed, Till he have set the right in the earth; And the isles shall wait for his teaching. (JPS)
- In His name the nations will put their hope.”c (NKJ)
The writer of Matthew leaves out the entire first part of the next verse, and then adds “in his name” coupled with a misquote of the last portion. Isaiah states that the “isles (Hebrew – I-yim) “the coastlands) will wait for his teaching”. Isaiah is talking about a specific area and Matthew is referring to all non Jews; “the nations (Greek – Gentiles) will put “their hope”. Isaiah is talking about “teaching”, while Matthew is talking about “hope”. Two different topics. Teaching can help us develop our hope, but teaching isn’t the same as hope.
Who is Isaiah referring to as “My servant”? An important item to always keep in mind when studying the Scriptures. There are no capital letters in Hebrew. The translators or editors make the decisions if a letter is to be capitalized or not. The Christian translators/editors capitalized servant while the Jewish translators did not. Capitalizing servant eludes to a deity, while not capitalizing eludes to it referring to a human. According to Rev. Dr. I. W. Slotki, in his beginning notes to Isaiah chapter 42, verses 1-4, “The prophet in the name of God describes some of the characteristics of His ideal servant. Quite and unobtrusive, his spiritual influence would spread throughout the world.”2
In verses 16 & 17 of Matthew 12 he states that Jesus tells the people to not make him known so to fulfill the Isaiah Scripture, thus eluding to the servant being Jesus.
However the Jewish view is two fold;
1. The verses do not point to an individual, but rather to the ideal servant.
2. The verse is referring to either Jacob, Cyrus, Israel, or the king messiah. There are several various views.3
1Isaiah, Hebrew text & English translation with an Introduction and commentary, by The Rev. Dr. I W Slotki, MA, Litt.D., 1949, page 185, The Chesham Press, Chesham, Bucks, England
2Isaiah – Hebrew Text & English Translation with an Introduction and Commentary, by The Rev. Dr. I. W. Slotki, M.A., Litt.D., The Soncino Press, 1949, page 199