In The School of the Prophets
Isaiah 63:8-16 + 65:9 By: Hakham Dr. Yosef ben Haggai
As usual, our Prophetic Lesson for this Sabbath in the Hebrew text extends along two Petuchot (Closed Paragraphs) –the first starting in Isaiah 61:10 and concluding at Isaiah 64:11(with section breaks at 62:9 and ;12 ;63:6 and ,)64:2 and the next Petucha (Closed Paragraph) starts in Isaiah 65:1 until verse 12(with a section brake at .)65:7 However, our Sages full of compassion for the congregation stipulated that for public reading from the Teba (pulpit) we only read from the Prophets ten verses (Isaiah 63:8-16 + .)65:12 This of course, does not limit the preacher to refer or use in the course of his homily (sermon) from Isaiah 61:10 through to .65:12
This also brings the point that Archbishop Stephen Langton and Cardinal Hugo de Sancto Caro developed different schemas for the systematic division of the Bible into chapters and verses in the early 13th century (for the so called Old Testament) and Robert Estienne in 16th century (for the so called New Testament). Both the Hebrew Scriptures and the earliest manuscripts of the Nazarean Codicil did not have verse divisions, and the only divisions they have is that of Closed Paragraphs (Heb. Petuchot) and Sections (Heb. Setumot) within those paragraphs. 17
Again, since the first Petucha (Paragraph) is rather long we have limited ourselves only to comment from Isaiah -63:1 ,65:12otherwise this commentary would be too long and tiresome. I think that in this respect I learned from my mentors well.
The verbal tally between our Torah Seder and Ashlamatah (Prophetic Lesson) is as follows:
Debarim (Deuteronomy) 14:1 ָּבִניםַאֶּתם,ַליהָּוהֱאֹלֵהיֶּכם:לֹאִתְתֹגְדדּו,ְולֹא-ָּתִשימּוָּקְרָּחהֵביןֵעיֵניֶּכם–ָּלֵמת.
You are children of the LORD your God: you will not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.
ְלמֹוִשיַע ָּלֶּהם, ָּבִניםלֹאְיַשֵקרּו;ַוְיִהי ֵהָּמה, ַאְך-ַעִמיַויֹאֶּמר “For He said: ‘Surely, they are My people, children that will not deal falsely’; so He was their Savior.”
The term “children” (Heb. Banim), does not only refer to young human beings but also it refers to “progeny” irrespective of age, as in this instance. Ha-Shem speaks to the Jewish people and their proselytes and says –“You are My progeny.” This raises a very important question: Are not all human beings “progeny” of the LORD our God? To answer this question, we need to realize that the above texts were written in Biblical Hebrew, and as such, when translated to English they loose much of their original meaning.
We can with some difficulty still see the shadow of the meaning of these verses in Hebrew. Notice that the first clauses in both verses are in the present continuous tense –an eternal present. Since G-d is Eternal then his progeny will enjoy eternal life. However if his progeny rebels and/or apostatize then that progeny is only temporal. Accordingly Isaiah 63:8 says
Note that our verbal tally equates “the children of the Eternal One” with “My People (Israel)”; and with “children who will not deal falsely”; and with “God is their Savior.” That is, those who do not know G-d –i.e. those who do not have a permanent and regular connection to/with Him, and those who are not part of the Jewish people observing and guarding His commandments, whether by birth or adoption cannot have G-d, most blessed be He, as their Savior.
And since “G-d is their Savior,” it follows that they are continuously released from “the law of sin and death”
footnote: 17Cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapters_and_verses_of_the_Bible
(propensity to habitually commit sin which leads to spiritual death).18 And as it is written in Debarim (Deuteronomy) 15:1 – “At the end of seven years you will make a release”; and as Hakham Shaul states (in Romans 8:35-39):
“35Who will separate us from the love of G-d in Messiah King Yeshua [and in God’s Torah/Law]? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword do it? 36As it is written (Psalm 44:23): ‘No, but for Your sake are we killed all the day; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him (i.e. G-d) that loves us. 38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Messiah King Yeshua our Master [and in G-d’s Torah/Law].”
And as the Psalmist, Messiah King David most elegantly puts it this week:
Psalm 119:113. I hate those who think vain thoughts, but I have loved [or, I continuously love] Your Torah/Law.
Psalm 119:114. You are my hiding place and my shield; I have waited long for Your Word.
Psalm 119:115. Turn from me, evildoers; and I will keep the commandments of my God.
And this is the remarkable noted difference between those that genuinely love G-d, His Law, and their fellow Jewish people versus those that despise G-d, His Law, and His people the Jews, Whilst the former do whatever possible to release their fellowmen from bondage (slavery) to sin and death, negativity, vain thoughts, mediocrity, rudeness, stinginess, dealing falsely, and injustice; the later bind (enslave) their fellowmen to all of these evils. Consequently, despite our many faults, how pleasant, how beautiful, invigorating and refreshing it is to dwell with the brethren – “for there (i.e. where the brethren dwell together and in unity) the LORD commands the blessing, even eternal life!”19
Now, Isaiah 63:8 is not a verse that stands alone, but its contents continue in the next verse, so that we read:
8. And He said, “They are but My people, children who will not deal falsely.” And He became their Savior.
8. For he said, Surely they are My people, sons who will not deal falsely; and His Memra became their Savior.
9. In all their trouble, He did not trouble [them], and the angel of His presence saved them; with His love and with His pity He redeemed them, and He bore them, and He carried them all the days of old.
9. In every time that they sinned before Him so as to bring affliction upon themselves, He did not afflict them, an angel sent from Him saved them; in His love and in His pity upon them He delivered them; He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
Note that in verse 8, “G-d becomes our Saviour,” and then in v.9 it is stated that “the angel of His presence saves us.” How can this be reconciled? Rashi, therefore comments on v.9 –
“He did not trouble [them] He did not trouble them according to their deeds, that they deserved to suffer, for the angel of His presence i.e., Michael the prince of the Presence, of those who minister before Him saved them always as an agent of the Omnipresent.”
From this, we learn the principle of agency – i.e. that the agent is as the one who sent him. If for example, you do something good to anyone or to the world at large as an agent of G-d, most blessed be He, it is accounted as G-d doing it, and not you. Thus, most certainly Messiah King Yeshua does bring salvation and release, but he is only a faithful agent of G-d, therefore we like David profess: “G-d has become our Saviour!” This, in no way means that Messiah King Yeshua is a god, no! G-d forbid! He is simply an agent of G-d like all of our Sages and heavenly ministers.
This, again we find in our Pericope of Mark for this week, where we find Pilate as an agent of Rome releasing a murderer and condemning to death a Tsadiq (righteous/generous man) and the King of Israel. This is Gentile Justice, and therefore the command that we do not recourse among the brethren to Gentile courts of justice in order to solve legal problems amongst us. And so Hakham Shaul teaches:
1Co 6:5I say this to your shame. So is there not any wise man (Hebrew: Hakham/Rabbi) among you who is able to render a judgment between his brothers?
1Co 6:6But brother goes to court with brother, and this before unbelievers [unfaithful men to the Torah]!
And this is in accordance with Rashi’s commentary on Exodus 21:1where he states:
before them But not before gentiles. Even if you know that they [gentiles] judge a certain law similarly to the laws of Israel, do not bring it to their courts,
as it is said: “For not like our Rock [God] is their rock, but [yet] our enemies judge [us]” (Deut. .)32:31When [we let] our enemies judge [us], this is testimony to [our] esteem of their deity.- [From Tanchuma ]3
Thus, the Hakham/Rabbi that renders judgments based on the Commandments of G-d, among the congregation of the people of G-d act as “saviours”20 since they render this service on behalf of G-d as agents of G-d, most blessed be He, to the end that “G-d becomes our Saviour!”
18 Cf Romans 8:2 – “For the law of the Spirit of life (i.e. the Jewish Oral Torah) in Yeshua King Messiah has made me free from the law of sin and death (i.e. propensity to habitually commit sin which leads to spiritual death).”
19 Cf. Psalm 133:1ff.