There was a double parsha last week, so this week’s overview covers two weeks worth of reading. This is also the final post on Yeshaiyahu.
Chapters 46-54 continue on the theme of reminding the people of the ridiculousness of idolatry. Idols may be captured and carried into captivity, but Hashem carries His people–even when they are captives (46:1-4). Remember that Hashem’s servant is an idolator and an emperor, it is vital that the Israelites not worship their new king. That said, Babylon will be shamed for her arrogance, and Israel, the wayward servant (52-3) or cast off wife (50), has been redeemed. Not only has Hashem turned away His anger, but Israel will be served by those who were formerly honored themselves, and Jerusalem will be rebuilt (49). Under Persian rule, many tributary principalities were required to pay tribute to Israel or otherwise contribute to the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
Chapter 48 is notable because it declares complete the preceding prophecies and announces the beginning of a new era of prophecy.
“And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Will that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.”Yeshaiyahu 59:21
There will always be Jews. Just as Hashem promised Noah that he would never again destroy the world with water, He now promises never to eradicate the Jewish people from the earth.
Chapters 60-2 go on to announce the beginning of Jerusalem’s redemption. It is the beginning of a new age for Jerusalem and Zion, and while the redemption has commenced, the process will be ongoing. In 63, we are reminded that Hashem has destroyed much, as a man who treads grapes in a wine vat. But treading grapes produces wine. Wine is both sweet and enduring. Note that the complicity of Edom in the destruction of Jerusalem is identified in this passage as Hashem’s handiwork (63:1-2).
Chapter 64 is a prayer of mourning and beseeches forgiveness in memory of the Temple and Jerusalem.
Chapter 65 reiterates that Hashem used idolators (Chaldeans and Assyrians) to execute his judgment against the Nation. Now, not only has his anger abated, but he has grown impatient with the foreigners’ idolatry and uncleanliness. The redemption of the Nation is not simply a new beginning for them, but a punishment for the other nations that had oppressed them. Ultimately, they will all be equal under Persian rule (65:25).
Finally, Chapter 66 is a voice of reassurance in exile. Hashem is bigger than everything, and He made everything, so the absence of a temple is not the end of the world. Making offerings and worshipping with the correct attitude are what is important. But exile will not be permanent, the priesthood will be restored, and Jerusalem rebuilt once the conquerors are conquered.