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Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 1:1-15
1. The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, [and] Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
the vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz Said Rabbi Levi: We have a tradition from our ancestors that Amoz and Amaziah, king of Judah, were brothers.
which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem Now, did he not prophesy concerning many nations, viz. the prophecy of Babylonia (ch. 13), the prophecy of Moab
(ch. 15)? Thus you learn that this is not the beginning of the Book, and that the Book is not given its name for this prophecy. So we learned in the Baraitha
of the Mechilta (Exod. 15:9,10): “In the year of King Uzziah’s death” (6:1) is the beginning of the Book, but there is no early and late in the order [i.e.,
the order of the chapters is no indication of the chronological order. (Others read: There is no early and late in the BookParshandatha.] The context proves
this point, for, on the day of the earthquake (see Zech. 14:5), the day Uzziah became a metzora (see 2 Chron. 26:19), it was said: “Whom shall I send and
who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am; send me” (6:8). We learn that this was the beginning of his mission, and this prophecy was said afterwards.
And concerning this alone, it is stated: which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem, just as Scripture says concerning each nation, “the prophecy of such
and such a nation.” Here too, Scripture writes: “which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.” Since they are harsh reproofs, he calls them “chazon,” which
is the harshest of the ten expressions by which prophecy is called, as is stated in Gen. Rabbah (44:7), and proof of this is the verse (infra 21:2), “A
harsh prophecy (??????) was told to me.”
in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, [and] Hezekiah, kings of Judah. These four kings he buried, [i.e. he outlived,] in his lifetime. On the day Uzziah
became a metzora, the Shechinah rested upon him, and he prophesied all the days of these kings, until Manasseh arose and killed him. (And this prophecy
was said in the days of Hezekiah after the ten tribes were exiled.)
2. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord has spoken; Children I have raised and exalted, yet they have rebelled against Me.
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth And Moses said, “Give ear, O heavens,… and may the earth hear” (Deut. 32:1). Why did Isaiah change the wording? Our
masters taught concerning this matter, [and] many midrashim [are] in the section entitled “Ha’azinu” in Sifrei, but the Sages disagreed with them and said:
A matter is not so unless witnesses come and testify. If their words coincide, their testimony is fulfilled; if not, their testimony is not fulfilled.
Had Isaiah not addressed the heavens with giving ear and the earth with hearing, the heavens would testify and say, ‘When we were called to this testimony
in Moses’ time, when he said, (Deut. 30:19) “I call heaven and earth to witness against you,” we heard with an expression of giving ear,’ and the earth
would testify, ‘I was called with an expression of hearing,’ hence their testimony would not coincide. [Therefore,] Isaiah came and reversed the matter.
Consequently, both are found to testify with an expression of giving ear and with an expression of hearing.
for the Lord has spoken That you should be witnesses in this matter, when I warned them in Moses’ time. Therefore, come and hear what I reason with them,
for they transgressed the warning, I did not sin against them, but I raised them and exalted them, yet they rebelled against me. [Another version reads:]
That you should be witnesses in this matter. Now, where did He speak?“Give ear, O heavens and I will speak” (ibid. 32:1). [So this was taught] in Mechilta
3. An ox knows his owner and a donkey his master’s crib; Israel does not know, my people does not consider.
his owner Heb. ??????? [is] like ??????????, the one who affixes him to the plowshare for plowing by day, and since he has accustomed him to this, he knows
him. The dull donkey, however, does not recognize his master until he feeds him. Israel was not intelligent like the ox, to know, when I called him and
said, “Israel will be your name” (Gen. 35:10), and I informed them of several of My statutes, yet they deserted Me, as is related in Ezekiel (20:39): “Let
each one go and worship his idols.” Even after I took them out of Egypt and fed them the manna and called them, “My people, the children of Israel,” they
did not consider even as a donkey. Another explanation is:
An ox knows its owner An ox recognizes his owner so that his fear is upon him. He did not deviate from what I decreed upon him, by saying, I will not plow
today. Neither did a donkey say to his owner, I will not bear burdens today. Now, these [creatures,] who were created to serve you, and are not destined
to receive reward if they merit, or to be punished if they sin, did not change their manner, which I decreed upon them. Israel, however, who, if they merit
receive reward, and if they sin are punished.
does not know i.e., did not want to know; they knew but trod with their heels, and my people did not take heart to consider.
4. Woe to a sinful nation, a people heavy with iniquity, evildoing seed, corrupt children. They forsook the Lord; they provoked the Holy One of Israel;
they drew backwards.
Woe Every instance of ???? in Scripture is an expression of complaining and lamenting, like a person who sighs from his heart and cries, “Alas!” There are,
however, several, which are an expression of a cry, the vocative voice, e.g., “Ho, ho, flee from the land of the north” (Zech. 2:10), which the Targum
renders, ???????, an expression of announcing.
Woe There is a reason to cry about a holy nation that turned into a sinful nation, and a people referred to by the expression, “for you are a holy people”
(Deut. 7:6), turned into a people with iniquity.
a people heavy with iniquity The heaviness of iniquity. The word denotes a person who is heavy, pesant in French, ponderous. The word ????? is a substantive
of heaviness, pesantoma in French, and is in the construct state, and is connected with the word ?????, iniquity.
evildoing seed And they were seed whom the Lord blessed (Isa. 61: 9). Similarly, they were children of the Holy One, blessed be He, and they became corrupt.
they provoked Heb. ???????, they angered.
they drew backwards [The root ????????,] wherever it appears, is only an expression of separation. Similarly, Scripture states: “And they shall separate
(????????????) from the holy things of the children of Israel” (Lev. 22:2), “the one separated (??????) from his brothers” (Gen. 49:26). Here too, they
drew away from being near the Omnipresent.
5. Why are you beaten when you still continue to rebel? Every head is [afflicted] with illness and every heart with malaise.
Why are you beaten… A person who was punished (lit. beaten) and repeats his sinhis friend admonishes him and says to him, For this you have been punished,
yet you do not take heart to say, ‘For this I have been punished. I will not repeat it again.’ Here too, why are you beaten since you continue disobedience,
to turn away from following the Omnipresent? Is not every head afflicted with illness and every heart with malaise? Why then do you not understand?
6. From the sole of the foot until the head there is no soundness-wounds and contusions and lacerated sores; they have not sprinkled, neither have they
been bandaged, nor was it softened with oil.
soundness An expression of perfection, sound without pain.
wounds Heb. ??????, i.e., a wound of a sword.
contusions Heb. ?????????, an expression of a bruise. [Some editions read:] Other bruises.
and lacerated sores Jonathan renders: ?????????, lacerated and crushed.
and lacerated sores demarcejjre, in O.F., and in the language of the Talmud, we find, “he bumped (???????) his head” (Chullin 45b). Menahem explained it
as an expression of moisture, i.e., moist and wet, always oozing [muyte in O.F.].
they have not been sprinkled These lesions were not sprinkled with medicinal powders by physicians. This is an expression of: (Job 18:15) “Sulphur shall
be sprinkled (???????) on his dwelling.” Menahem explained it as an expression of healing, as in (Jeremiah 30:13): “No one pronounced your judgment for
neither was it softened with oil Their wound was not softened with oil, as is customary with other wounds. It would be inappropriate to say here, “They
were not softened with oil,” for they soften only the place of the sore, not the wound and the contusion but the sprinkling and the bandaging applies to
all three, [i.e., the wound, the contusion, and the lacerated sore.] Therefore, the plural number applies to them; the lesions were not sprinkled and not
bandaged. Jonathan interprets the entire verse figuratively, referring to the fact that they were soiled and afflicted with iniquity. Accordingly, he rendered,
“From the sole of the foot until the head,” from the smallest to the greatest, there is no soundness. There is none good among them, wounds and contusions,
rebellious deeds, iniquities, and inadvertent sins.
they have not been sprinkled… i.e., they have not been healed by repenting wholeheartedly, nor has it been softened with oil, not even a trace of repentant
thought has entered their heart.
7. Your land is desolate; your cities burnt with fire. Your land-in your presence, strangers devour it; and it is desolate as that turned over to strangers.
in your presence, strangers devour it Before your eyes, your enemies will devour it.
and desolate of you as a heritage turned over to strangers, which is desolate of its owners. Jonathan renders in this manner.
8. And the daughter of Zion shall be left like a hut in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city.
And the daughter of Zion shall be left devoid of its inhabitants, for they will be exiled from its midst, as a hut in a vineyard, made by a watchman, and
when the produce of the vineyard is gathered, he leaves his hut and goes away, after they gather it.
like a lodge in a cucumber field As the lodge, which the watchman made at the end of a cucumber field, to watch its cucumber, is left, for after it is gathered,
he leaves it and goes away; the one in the vineyard is called a hut since he lives in it day and night; by day, he guards it from the birds and by night
from the thieves, b ut cucumbers are hard, and there is no fear of the birds, and one need not watch them by day. It is, therefore, called a lodge since
it is a place of lodging at night. Jonathan renders: Like a bed in a lodge (again repeated in Hebrew), [in] a cucumber field, in a cucumber field after
it has been picked (?????? ??????????????) , after it has been picked. [This is the expression of the Mishnah] (Peah 4: 5): “There are three gatherings
(??????????) a day.”
like a besieged city Like a city which was besieged, and they make huts around it to hide the troops, and when they give up the siege [lit., when they go
away from it], they leave them and go away. All this is Jonathan’s translation.
9. “Had not the Lord of Hosts left us a remnant, we would soon be like Sodom; we would resemble Gomorrah.”
Had not the Lord of Hosts left us a remnant by His own volition and with His mercy, not because of our merits.
we would soon be like Sodom All of us would be destroyed.
10. Hear the word of the Lord, O rulers of Sodom; give ear to the law of our God, O people of Gomorrah!
rulers of Sodom Princes whose deeds are like those of Sodom. From here, [the Rabbis] deduced that a person should not open his mouth to Satan.
11. Of what use are your many sacrifices to Me? says the Lord. I am sated with the burnt-offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle; and the blood
of bulls and sheep and hegoats I do not want.
I am sated with the burnt-offerings of rams This is similar to: “Lest he have too much of you and hate you,” (Proverbs 25:18).
fattened cattle Fattened cattle and sheep.
I do not want Since you transgress My Torah, the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination [from Prov. 21:27].
12. When you come to appear before Me, who requested this of you, to trample My courts?
who requested this of you, to trample My courts to trample [the preposition is absent in the Hebrew] My courts, since your heart is not whole with Me.
13. You shall no longer bring vain meal-offerings, it is smoke of abomination to Me; New Moons and Sabbaths, calling convocations, I cannot [bear] iniquity
You shall bring no more vain meal-offerings I warn you, you shall not bring Me your vain meal-offering, for the smoke that rises from it is smoke of abomination
to Me, and not for My satisfaction.
New moons and Sabbaths, calling, convocations, I cannot… and [sic, does not appear in Parshandatha] to call convocations, i.e., New Moons and Sabbaths when
you gather to call a convocation and an assembly on them, I cannot bear the iniquity in your hearts that is inclined to paganism, and the convocation with
it, for these two things are incompatible: to call a convocation to gather before Me, and the iniquity that is in your hearts for paganism, and you do
not take it out of your hearts.
14. Your New Moons and your appointed seasons My soul hates, they are a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing [them].
15. And when you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you, even when you pray at length, I do not hear; your hands are full of blood.
And when you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you because your hands are full of blood.