Isa 55:1-59:21

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Home > The Old Testament > Isaiah > Chapters 55-59
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Summary[edit]

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Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Isa 55. Scholars generally lump this chapter in with the fifteen previous as "Second Isaiah," a sixteen-chapter single prophecy connected in some way with the Day of Atonement (some have even suggested that this was a text used in some Day of Atonement celebrations). Chapter 55 would be, on such a model, the conclusion to the poetic/ritual text. Its place, as such, is quite interesting: after the announcement of chapter 52, the atonement experience of chapter 53, and the resultant marriage of chapter 54, there are some final words of exhortation offered to those listening.
The role this chapter plays in the Book of Mormon is quite interesting. The Book of Mormon relies on the poetic text of "Second Isaiah" in a rather fascinating manner. It is quoted in order, from Isaiah 48 through Isaiah 54, though the quotations are spread out over the course of the Book of Mormon (48-49 are in 1 Nephi 20-21; 50-51 are in 2 Nephi 7-8; 52-53 are in Mosiah 13-14; and 54 is in 3 Nephi 22). The excerpt of the poetic text ends with chapter 54 of Isaiah, and chapter 55 is not quoted at any length. That is, the invitation that so profoundly marks the conclusion of the poem is not taken up into the Isaianic substructure of the Book of Mormon. But it might be noticed that the first two verses of this chapter do show up in the Book of Mormon, but out of place in the Isaianic substructure: they appear at the conclusion of 2 Nephi 9. Jacob, closing up his discourse (at the temple?) concerning atonement (on the Day of Atonement?), quotes these first two verses as a final invitation after everything that had been said.
  • Isa 55:1: Buy. Webster's 1828 dictionary defines the word "buy" as follows "buy - verb intransitive - To negotiate, or treat about a purchase."
  • NET note on oxymoron. The NET suggests that this statement is oxymoronic for rhetorical impact, meaning something like “Come and take freely what you normally have to pay for.”
  • Cross-references. The term keceph ("money") is also used in 2nd Isaiah in the following passages: Isa 40:19; Isa 43:24; Isa 46:6 Isa 48:10; Isa 52:3; [[Isa 55:2]. A related idea of being sold (opposite "buy" in these verses) is expressed in Isa 50:1, where God asks to whom did God sell Israel (which is more directly related to Isa 52:3, "Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money"). In another contrasting passage, Deut 2:6, Israel is commanded to buy meat and water "for money" from "the children of Esau" near mount Seir. In the Book of Mormon, the phrase "without money" is used in four different passages. In 2 Ne 9:50, Jacob gives the most complete quotation of this passage (verses 1 and 2, with some insertions), after quoting 2nd Isaiah. In 2 Ne 26:25, Nephi quotes part of verse 1. In Alma 1:20, only the phrase "without money and without price is quoted" though it's also related to God's there (as it is here in verse 3). In 3 Ne 20:38, Jesus uses the phrase "without money," but he is quoting Isa 52:3 (see this blog post by Joe Spencer for more regarding Jesus' use of Isa 52 in that speech; see also this blog post by Kirk C. for related discussion of God selling Israel in other Old Testament passages).
  • Isa 56:5. Within the Temple, the Lord is going to give a place and a name. The Hebrew word translated as "place" is the Hebrew "yad". Yad is the arm of a man. It can also be translated as "sign." It is instructive to read this verse again, and instead of "place", read the verse with "sign" in its place.
  • Isa 59:14. Rather than merely stating that "things are bad," Isaiah expresses this through the use of the following expressive action verbs in the poetic personification of judgment, justice, truth, and equity (honesty) respectively:
turned away backward
standeth afar off
fallen in the street
cannot enter
  • Isa 59:20. If this verse is an example of synonymous parallellism, then Zion = "them that turn from transgression in Jacob". In other words, Isaiah's definition of "Zion" is, those among Jacob's descendants who "turn from transgression" [unto God]. This definition clearly fits with Isa 51:16 where Zion = "my people" and possibly Isa 60:14 where Zion = "the City of the LORD". However, most instances where Isaiah uses "Zion", the synonymous parallels in them suggest that Zion = Jerusalem (Isa 4:3-4, Isa 10:32, Isa 30:19, Isa 31:4-5,9; Isa 33:20; Isa 37:22,32; Isa 40:9; Isa 52:1-2). Perhaps Isaiah (and the LORD) focus on Jerusalem in its future Zion form.
  • Isa 59:21. This verse seems to suggest that having the LORD's spirit upon us is the same as, or at least closely related to, having the LORD put words in our mouths (telling us what to preach/teach by the Spirit), and is reminiscent of Isa 51:16. This opens the possibility that when Isaiah speaks of "the mouth of the LORD", he is referring to that person (or persons) on Earth through whom the LORD speaks. See Isa 1:20; Isa 6:7; Isa 30:2; Isa 40:5-6; Isa 48:3-5.

Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

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  • Isa 58:13. Then whose pleasure are we to do on the Sabbath? Whose words are we to speak?

Prompts for further study[edit]

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Resources[edit]

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Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



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