Letter To The Jews / Chapter 21

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21: The Man

Continuing YHWH’s conversation with Zion, Isaiah writes: “This is what YHWH says: 'Where is the scroll of divorce of your mother, by which I sent her away? Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? Look! For your iniquities you were sold, and for your transgressions your mother was sent away.

Why did I come, but there was no man? I called, but nobody answered. Is my hand too short to redeem, or is there no strength in me to deliver?'” 1

And so YHWH makes it clear that Zion was not divorced, but was sent away for her own transgressions, and not to pay the debts of others. But now it seems that a different one, a man, speaks. “My Lord YHWH has given me the tongue of disciples, to know how to speak a timely word to the weary one. He awakens morning by morning, he awakens my ear to hear like the disciples.

My Lord YHWH has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious and did not turn away. I gave my back to the ones striking, and my cheeks to the ones plucking at my beard. I did not hide my face from humiliation and spit.” 2

Who is speaking here? It cannot be Zion, unless she is now a bearded lady! Besides, this one “was not rebellious,” while YHWH has already said that Zion went away for her iniquities and transgressions.

It could perhaps be a description of the prophet Isaiah himself; but if YHWH's purpose is to bring salvation to Zion as well as the Gentiles, then it could be “the one whom the nation abhorred,” YHWH’s servant who is given for “a covenant of the people.” If the nation abhorred him, it makes sense that he faced humiliation and spit. But he did not hide his cheeks from them.

Certainly he seems to follow Jeremiah’s advice, or is perhaps the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s words: “It is good for the man for him to bear the yoke in his youth. He sits alone and is silent, for he has laid it upon him. He puts his mouth in the dust. Perhaps there is hope. He gives his cheek to the one striking him. He will have his fill of reproach.” 3

He could also be the answer to YHWH’s question: “Why did I come, but there was no man?” For here is a man, one man, who not only listened to YHWH’s voice, but may also be YHWH’s means to redeem and deliver! In that case, the question asked a few verses later by Isaiah takes on a vital meaning: “Who among you fears YHWH? The one listening to the voice of his servant.” 4

And now YHWH promises to reverse Zion's situation. “Awake, awake, rise up Jerusalem, you who drank from the hand of YHWH the cup of his fury. You have drunk to the dregs, and drained out the cup of trembling.”

And also: “Therefore hear this please, you afflicted and drunken one, but not from wine. This is what your Lord YHWH says, and the God who contends for his people: 'Look! I will take the cup of trembling from your hand, even the dregs of the cup of my fury.

You will not drink from it again. But I will put it in the hand of the ones afflicting you, who have said to your soul, 'Bow down, that we may walk over,' and you placed your body as the ground, and as the street for them to walk over.'” 5

And so Zion bears her own iniquities, but then those who mistreated her receive punishment for their sins against her.

1 Isaiah 50:1,2. 2 Isaiah 50:4-6. 3 Lamentations 3:27-30. 4 Isaiah 50:10. 5 Isaiah 51:17-23.

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