Notes for Isa 63:1LEB

Edom is here an archetype for the Yahweh’s enemies. See Isa 34:5LEB.


"[in] bright red garments, from Bozrah."


The interrogative particle is understood by ellipsis; note the first line of the verse.


"honored in his clothing"; KJV, ASV "glorious in his apparel."


The Hebrew text has צָעָה (tsaah), which means "stoop, bend" (Isa 51:14LEB). The translation assumes an emendation to צָעַד (tsaad, "march"; see BDB 858 s.v. צָעָה).


"I, [the one] speaking in vindication [or "righteousness"], great to deliver."


Notes for Isa 63:2LEB

"and your garments like one who treads in a vat?"


Notes for Isa 63:3LEB

Nations, headed by Edom, are the object of the Yahweh’s anger (see v. 6). He compares military slaughter to stomping on grapes in a vat.


"and I stained." For discussion of the difficult verb form, see HALOT 170 s.v. II גאל. Perhaps the form is mixed, combining the first person forms of the imperfect (note the alef prefix) and perfect (note the תי- ending).


Notes for Isa 63:4LEB

"for the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my revenge came." The term גְּאוּלַי (ulai) is sometimes translated here "my redemption," for the verbal root גאל often means "deliver, buy back." A גֹּאֵל (goel, "kinsman-redeemer") was responsible for protecting the extended family’s interests, often by redeeming property that had been sold outside the family. However, the responsibilities of a גֹּאֵל extended beyond financial concerns. He was also responsible for avenging the shed blood of a family member (see Num 35:19–27LEB; Deut 19:6–12LEB). In Isa 63:4LEB, where vengeance is a prominent theme (note the previous line), it is probably this function of the family protector that is in view. The Yahweh pictures himself as a blood avenger who waits for the day of vengeance to arrive and then springs into action.


Notes for Isa 63:5LEB

See Isa 59:16 for similar language.


"and my anger, it supported me"; NIV "my own wrath sustained me."


Notes for Isa 63:6LEB

See Isa 49:26LEB and Isa 51:23LEB for similar imagery.


"and I brought down to the ground their juice." "Juice" refers to their blood (see v. 3).


Notes for Isa 63:7LEB

"according to all which."


"greatness of goodness to the house of Israel which he did for them."


"according to."


Notes for Isa 63:8LEB

"children [who] do not act deceitfully." Here the verb refers to covenantal loyalty.


Notes for Isa 63:9LEB

"in all their distress, there was distress to him" (reading לוֹ [lo] with the margin/Qere).


"the messenger [or "angel"] of his face"; NIV "the angel of his presence."


This may refer to the "angel of Yahweh" mentioned in Exod 14:19LEB, who in turn may be identical to the divine "presence" (literally, "face") referred to in Exod 33:14–15LEB and Deut 4:37LEB. Here in Isa 63 this messenger may be equated with Yahweh’s "holy Spirit" [Set-apart] (see vv. 10–11) and "the Spirit of the Yahweh" (v. 14). See also Ps 139:7LEB, where Yahweh’s "Spirit" seems to be equated with his "presence" (literally, "face") in the synonymous parallelistic structure.


Or "redeemed" (KJV, NAB, NIV), or "delivered."


"all the days of antiquity"; KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV "days of old."


Notes for Isa 63:10LEB

Or "grieved, hurt the feelings of."


The phrase "holy Spirit" [Set-Apart] occurs in the OT only here (in v. 11 as well) and in Ps 51:11-13LEB HT), where it is associated with the divine presence.


Notes for Isa 63:11LEB

"and he remembered the days of antiquity, Moses, his people." The syntax of the statement is unclear. The translation assumes that "his people" is the subject of the verb "remembered." If original, "Moses" is in apposition to "the days of antiquity," more precisely identifying the time period referred to. However, the syntactical awkwardness suggests that "Moses" may have been an early marginal note (perhaps identifying "the shepherd of his flock" two lines later) that has worked its way into the text.


The Hebrew text has a plural form, which if retained and taken as a numerical plural, would probably refer to Moses, Aaron, and the Israelite tribal leaders at the time of the Exodus. Most prefer to emend the form to the singular (רָעָה, raah) and understand this as a reference just to Moses.


See the note at v. 10.


Notes for Isa 63:12LEB

"who caused to go at the right hand of Moses the arm of his splendor."


"making for himself a lasting name."


Notes for Isa 63:13LEB

"in the desert [or "steppe"]."


Notes for Isa 63:14LEB

The words "to graze" are supplied in the translation for clarification.


Or "so" (KJV, ASV), or "thus" (NAB, NRSV).


"making for yourself a majestic name."


Notes for Isa 63:15LEB

This probably refers to his zeal for his people, which motivates him to angrily strike out against their enemies.


The Hebrew text reads literally, "the agitation of your intestines and your compassion to me they are held back." The phrase "agitation of your intestines" is metonymic, referring to the way in which one’s nervous system reacts when one feels pity and compassion toward another. אֵלַי (’elay, "to me") is awkward in this context, where the speaker represents the nation and, following the introduction (see v. 7), utilizes first person plural forms. The translation assumes an emendation to the negative particle אַל (’al). This also necessitates emending the following verb form (which is a plural perfect) to a singular jussive (תִתְאַפָּק, titappaq). The Hitpael of אָפַק (’afaq) also occurs in Isa 42:14LEB.


Notes for Isa 63:16LEB

"our protector [or "redeemer"] from antiquity [is] your name."


Notes for Isa 63:17LEB

Some suggest a tolerative use of the Hiphil here, "[why do] you allow us to stray?" (cf. NLT). Though the Hiphil of תָעָה (taah) appears to be tolerative in Jer 50:6LEB, elsewhere it is preferable or necessary to take it as causative. See Isa 3:12LEB; Isa 9:15LEB; and Isa 30:28LEB, as well as Gen 20:13LEB; 2 Kgs 21:9LEB; Job 12:24–25LEB; Prov 12:26LEB; Jer 23:13LEB, Jer 32:LEB; Hos 4:12LEB; Amos 2:4LEB; Mic 3:5LEB.


This probably refers to Yahweh’s commands [instructions].


"[Why do] you harden our heart[s] so as not to fear you." The interrogative particle is understood by ellipsis (note the preceding line).


How direct this hardening is, one cannot be sure. The speaker may envision direct involvement on the Yahweh’s part. The Yahweh has brought the exile as judgment for the nation’s sin and now he continues to keep them at arm’s length by blinding them spiritually. The second half of Isa 64:7LEB might support this, though the precise reading of the final verb is uncertain. On the other hand, the idiom of lament is sometimes ironic and hyperbolically deterministic. For example, Naomi lamented that Shaddai was directly opposing her and bringing her calamity (Ruth 1:20–21LEB), while the author of Ps 88 directly attributes his horrible suffering and loneliness to Yahweh (see especially vv. 6–8, 16–18). Both individuals make little, if any, room for intermediate causes or the principle of sin and death which ravages the human race. In the same way, the speaker in Isa 63:17LEB (who evidences great spiritual sensitivity and is anything but "hardened") may be referring to the hardships of exile, which discouraged and even embittered the people, causing many of them to retreat from their Yahwistic faith. In this case, the "hardening" in view is more indirect and can be lifted by the Yahweh’s intervention. Whether the hardening here is indirect or direct, it is important to recognize that the speaker sees it as one of the effects of rebellion against the Yahweh (note especially Isa 64:5–6LEB).


Notes for Isa 63:18LEB

Or "holy" [Set-Apart] (ASV, NASB, NRSV, TEV, NLT).


"for a short time they had a possession, the people of your holiness."


"your adversaries trampled on."


Notes for Isa 63:19LEB

"we were from antiquity" (see v. 16). The collocation עוֹלָם + מִן + הָיָה (hayah + min + ’olam) occurs only here.


"you did not rule them, your name was not called over them." The expression "the name is called over" indicates ownership; see the note at Isa 4:1LEB. As these two lines stand they are very difficult to interpret. They appear to be stating that the adversaries just mentioned in v. 18 have not been subject to the Yahweh’s rule in the past, perhaps explaining why they could commit the atrocity described in v. 18b.