The Victorious Divine Warrior
1 Who is this who comes from Edom,#sn Edom is here an archetype for the Lord’s enemies. See 34:5.
dressed in bright red, coming from Bozrah?#tn Heb “[in] bright red garments, from Bozrah.”
Who#tn The interrogative particle is understood by ellipsis; note the first line of the verse. is this one wearing royal attire,#tn Heb “honored in his clothing”; KJV, ASV “glorious in his apparel.”
who marches confidently#tc The Hebrew text has צָעָה (tsa’ah), which means “stoop, bend” (51:14). The translation assumes an emendation to צָעַד (tsa’ad, “march”; see BDB 858 s.v. צָעָה). because of his great strength?
“It is I, the one who announces vindication,
and who is able to deliver!”#tn Heb “I, [the one] speaking in vindication [or “righteousness”], great to deliver.”
2 Why are your clothes red?
Why do you look like someone who has stomped on grapes in a vat?#tn Heb “and your garments like one who treads in a vat?”
3 “I have stomped grapes in the winepress all by myself;
no one from the nations joined me.
I stomped on them#sn Nations, headed by Edom, are the object of the Lord’s anger (see v. 6). He compares military slaughter to stomping on grapes in a vat. in my anger;
I trampled them down in my rage.
Their juice splashed on my garments,
and stained#tn Heb “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). all my clothes.
4 For I looked forward to the day of vengeance,
and then payback time arrived.#tn Heb “for the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my revenge came.” The term גְּאוּלַי (gÿ’ulai) is sometimes translated here “my redemption,” for the verbal root גאל often means “deliver, buy back.” A גֹּאֵל (go’el, “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 35:19-27; Deut 19:6-12). In Isa 63:4, where vengeance is a prominent theme (note the previous line), it is probably this function of the family protector that is in view. The Lord pictures himself as a blood avenger who waits for the day of vengeance to arrive and then springs into action.
5 I looked, but there was no one to help;
I was shocked because there was no one offering support.#sn See Isa 59:16 for similar language.
So my right arm accomplished deliverance;
my raging anger drove me on.#tn Heb “and my anger, it supported me”; NIV “my own wrath sustained me.”
6 I trampled nations in my anger,
I made them drunk#sn See Isa 49:26 and 51:23 for similar imagery. in my rage,
I splashed their blood on the ground.”#tn Heb “and I brought down to the ground their juice.” “Juice” refers to their blood (see v. 3).
A Prayer for Divine Intervention
7 I will tell of the faithful acts of the Lord,
of the Lord’s praiseworthy deeds.
I will tell about all#tn Heb “according to all which.” the Lord did for us,
the many good things he did for the family of Israel,#tn Heb “greatness of goodness to the house of Israel which he did for them.”
because of#tn Heb “according to.” his compassion and great faithfulness.
8 He said, “Certainly they will be my people,
children who are not disloyal.”#tn Heb “children [who] do not act deceitfully.” Here the verb refers to covenantal loyalty.
He became their deliverer.
9 Through all that they suffered, he suffered too.#tn Heb “in all their distress, there was distress to him” (reading לוֹ [lo] with the margin/Qere).
The messenger sent from his very presence#tn Heb “the messenger [or “angel”] of his face”; NIV “the angel of his presence.”sn This may refer to the “angel of God” mentioned in Exod 14:19, who in turn may be identical to the divine “presence” (literally, “face”) referred to in Exod 33:14-15 and Deut 4:37. Here in Isa 63 this messenger may be equated with God’s “holy Spirit” (see vv. 10-11) and “the Spirit of the Lord” (v. 14). See also Ps 139:7, where God’s “Spirit” seems to be equated with his “presence” (literally, “face”) in the synonymous parallelistic structure. delivered them.
In his love and mercy he protected#tn Or “redeemed” (KJV, NAB, NIV), or “delivered.” them;
he lifted them up and carried them throughout ancient times.#tn Heb “all the days of antiquity”; KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV “days of old.”
10 But they rebelled and offended#tn Or “grieved, hurt the feelings of.” his holy Spirit,#sn The phrase “holy Spirit” occurs in the OT only here (in v. 11 as well) and in Ps 51:11 (51:13 HT), where it is associated with the divine presence.
so he turned into an enemy
and fought against them.
11 His people remembered the ancient times.#tn Heb “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.
Where is the one who brought them up out of the sea,
along with the shepherd of#tn 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, ra’ah) and understand this as a reference just to Moses. his flock?
Where is the one who placed his holy Spirit among them,#sn See the note at v. 10.
12 the one who made his majestic power available to Moses,#tn Heb “who caused to go at the right hand of Moses the arm of his splendor.”
who divided the water before them,
gaining for himself a lasting reputation,#tn Heb “making for himself a lasting name.”
13 who led them through the deep water?
Like a horse running on flat land#tn Heb “in the desert [or “steppe”].” they did not stumble.
14 Like an animal that goes down into a valley to graze,#tn The words “to graze” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
so the Spirit of the Lord granted them rest.
In this way#tn Or “so” (KJV, ASV), or “thus” (NAB, NRSV). you guided your people,
gaining for yourself an honored reputation.#tn Heb “making for yourself a majestic name.”
15 Look down from heaven and take notice,
from your holy, majestic palace!
Where are your zeal#tn This probably refers to his zeal for his people, which motivates him to angrily strike out against their enemies. and power?
Do not hold back your tender compassion!#tn 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, tit’appaq). The Hitpael of אָפַק (’afaq) also occurs in 42:14.
16 For you are our father,
though Abraham does not know us
and Israel does not recognize us.
You, Lord, are our father;
you have been called our protector from ancient times.#tn Heb “our protector [or “redeemer”] from antiquity [is] your name.”
17 Why, Lord, do you make us stray#tn Some suggest a tolerative use of the Hiphil here, “[why do] you allow us to stray?” (cf. NLT). Though the Hiphil of תָעָה (ta’ah) appears to be tolerative in Jer 50:6, elsewhere it is preferable or necessary to take it as causative. See Isa 3:12; 9:15; and 30:28, as well as Gen 20:13; 2 Kgs 21:9; Job 12:24-25; Prov 12:26; Jer 23:13, 32; Hos 4:12; Amos 2:4; Mic 3:5. from your ways,#tn This probably refers to God’s commands.
and make our minds stubborn so that we do not obey you?#tn Heb “[Why do] you harden our heart[s] so as not to fear you.” The interrogative particle is understood by ellipsis (note the preceding line).sn How direct this hardening is, one cannot be sure. The speaker may envision direct involvement on the Lord’s part. The Lord 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 64:7 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 1:20-21), while the author of Ps 88 directly attributes his horrible suffering and loneliness to God (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 63:17 (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 Lord’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 Lord (note especially 64:5-6).
Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your inheritance!
18 For a short time your special#tn Or “holy” (ASV, NASB, NRSV, TEV, NLT). nation possessed a land,#tn Heb “for a short time they had a possession, the people of your holiness.”
but then our adversaries knocked down#tn Heb “your adversaries trampled on.” your holy sanctuary.
19 We existed from ancient times,#tn Heb “we were from antiquity” (see v. 16). The collocation עוֹלָם + מִן + הָיָה (hayah + min + ’olam) occurs only here.
but you did not rule over them,
they were not your subjects.#tn Heb “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 4:1. 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 Lord’s rule in the past, perhaps explaining why they could commit the atrocity described in v. 18b.