|Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
||Attention, all who thirst; come for water!You who have no money,come and buy food, that you may eat.Come, buy wine and milkwith no money and at no cost.
||הוֹי כָּל־צָמֵא לְכוּ לַמַּיִם וַאֲשֶׁר אֵין־לוֹ כָּסֶף לְכוּ שִׁבְרוּ וֶאֱכֹלוּ וּלְכוּ שִׁבְרוּ בְּלוֹא־כֶסֶף וּבְלוֹא מְחִיר יַיִן וְחָלָב ׃
|Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
||Why do you spend money on what is not bread,your labor on what does not satisfy?Hear me well: Eat what is good,and your souls shall enjoy abundance.
||לָמָּה תִשְׁקְלוּ־כֶסֶף בְּלוֹא־לֶחֶם וִיגִיעֲכֶם בְּלוֹא לְשָׂבְעָה שִׁמְעוּ שָׁמוֹעַ אֵלַי וְאִכְלוּ־טוֹב וְתִתְעַנַּג בַּדֶּשֶׁן נַפְשְׁכֶם ׃
|Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.
||Give ear and come unto me;pay heed, that your souls may live!And I will make with you an everlasting covenant:my loving fidelity toward David.
||הַטּוּ אָזְנְכֶם וּלְכוּ אֵלַי שִׁמְעוּ וּתְחִי נַפְשְׁכֶם וְאֶכְרְתָה לָכֶם בְּרִית עוֹלָם חַסְדֵי דָוִד הַנֶּאֱמָנִים ׃
|Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.
||See, I have appointed him as a witness to the nations,a prince and lawgiver of the peoples.
||הֵן עֵד לְאוּמִּים נְתַתִּיו נָגִיד וּמְצַוֵּה לְאֻמִּים ׃
|Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee.
||You will summon a nation that you did not know;a nation that did not know you will hasten to you—because of Jehovah your God,the Holy One of Israel, who gloriously endows you.
||הֵן גּוֹי לֹא־תֵדַע תִּקְרָא וְגוֹי לֹא־יְדָעוּךָ אֵלֶיךָ יָרוּצוּ לְמַעַן יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וְלִקְדוֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל כִּי פֵאֲרָךְ ׃
|Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
||Inquire of Jehovah while he is present;call upon him while he is near.
||דִּרְשׁוּ יְהוָה בְּהִמָּצְאוֹ קְרָאֻהוּ בִּהְיוֹתוֹ קָרוֹב ׃
|Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
||Let the wicked forsake their waysand sinful men their thoughts.Let them return to Jehovah,and he will have mercy on them;to our God, who graciously pardons.
||יַעֲזֹב רָשָׁע דַּרְכּוֹ וְאִישׁ אָוֶן מַחְשְׁבֹתָיו וְיָשֹׁב אֶל־יְהוָה וִירַחֲמֵהוּ וְאֶל־אֱלֹהֵינוּ כִּי־יַרְבֶּה לִסְלוֹחַ ׃
|For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
||For my thoughts are not your thoughts,nor are your ways my ways, says Jehovah.
||כִּי לֹא מַחְשְׁבוֹתַי מַחְשְׁבוֹתֵיכֶם וְלֹא דַרְכֵיכֶם דְּרָכָי נְאֻם יְהוָה ׃
|For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
||But as the heavens are higher than the earth,so are my ways higher than your waysand my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
||כִּי־גָבְהוּ שָׁמַיִם מֵאָרֶץ כֵּן גָּבְהוּ דְרָכַי מִדַּרְכֵיכֶם וּמַחְשְׁבֹתַי מִמַּחְשְׁבֹתֵיכֶם ׃
|For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
||And as the rains and snows descend from the sky,and return not to it without watering the earth,to render it fertile and fruitful—providing seed for the sower and food for the eater—
||כִּי כַּאֲשֶׁר יֵרֵד הַגֶּשֶׁם וְהַשֶּׁלֶג מִן־הַשָּׁמַיִם וְשָׁמָּה לֹא יָשׁוּב כִּי אִם־הִרְוָה אֶת־הָאָרֶץ וְהוֹלִידָהּ וְהִצְמִיחָהּ וְנָתַן זֶרַע לַזֹּרֵעַ וְלֶחֶם לָאֹכֵל ׃
|So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
||so is the word that leaves my mouth:it does not return to me empty;it accomplishes what I desire,achieves the purpose for which I sent it.
||כֵּן יִהְיֶה דְבָרִי אֲשֶׁר יֵצֵא מִפִּי לֹא־יָשׁוּב אֵלַי רֵיקָם כִּי אִם־עָשָׂה אֶת־אֲשֶׁר חָפַצְתִּי וְהִצְלִיחַ אֲשֶׁר שְׁלַחְתִּיו ׃
|For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
||You shall depart in joy and be led back in peace;the mountains and hills shall sing at your presenceand the trees of the meadows all clap their hands.
||כִּי־בְשִׂמְחָה תֵצֵאוּ וּבְשָׁלוֹם תּוּבָלוּן הֶהָרִים וְהַגְּבָעוֹת יִפְצְחוּ לִפְנֵיכֶם רִנָּה וְכָל־עֲצֵי הַשָּׂדֶה יִמְחֲאוּ־כָף ׃
|Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
||In place of the thornbush shall come up the cypress,in place of nettles, the myrtle.This shall serve as a testimony of Jehovah,an everlasting sign that shall not be done away.
||תַּחַת הַנַּעֲצוּץ יַעֲלֶה בְרוֹשׁ ְתַחַת (וְתַחַת) הַסִּרְפַּד יַעֲלֶה הֲדַס וְהָיָה לַיהוָה לְשֵׁם לְאוֹת עוֹלָם לֹא יִכָּרֵת ׃
Jehovah offers the covenant blessings of food and drink, physical and spiritual, to both the poor—“you who have no money”—and the rich, who “spend money on what is not bread.” The words “attention,” “hear well,” “give ear,” and “pay heed” imply that Jehovah’s people need waking up from their covenantal non-compliance to again observing the covenant’s terms (Isaiah 50:4). Except for their keeping Jehovah’s law and word, his covenant blessings are free—“at no cost.” As now is the “favorable time” and “day of salvation” in which Jehovah restores his people (Isaiah 49:8-13), they have but two choices.
Chapter 55 forms an integral part of Part VI of Isaiah’s Seven-Part Structure (Isaiah 28-31; 55-59), which juxtaposes a Covenant of Life—“that your souls may live” (v 3)—modeled on the Davidic Covenant with a “Covenant with Death” (Isaiah 28:15, 18) that is grounded in human counsels and schemes. Unlike the Sinai Covenant, Jehovah’s “everlasting covenant” is unconditional to individuals who prove loyal to Jehovah under all conditions. His servant—the “David” of Hebrew prophecy (Jeremiah 33:15-16; Ezekiel 34:23-25; Hosea 3:5)—personifies and mediates it (Isaiah 42:6; 49:8).
The mission of Jehovah’ servant is (1) national and (2) international because he restores Jehovah’s people (Isaiah 49:5-6, 8-12) and because they are scattered among all nations (Isaiah 42:1-7; 49:1, 22). The terms “witness,” (‘ed), “prince” or “spokesman” (nagid), and “lawgiver” (mesawweh) express functions relating to Jehovah’s covenant (Genesis 31:44; Deuteronomy 31:26; Isaiah 42:4; Ezekiel 34:24-25). The servant’s personifying the covenant (v 3; Isaiah 42:6; 49:8) entails his teaching the true points of Jehovah law and word that are the terms of the covenant (Isaiah 8:16; 48:1; 50:4, 10).
The verb “appoint” establishes a word link to other passages in which Jehovah “appoints” his servant. These reflect both the descent and ascent phases of his end-time mission of restoring Jehovah’s people: “I will appoint him as a herald of good tidings to Jerusalem” (Isaiah 41:27); “I will appoint him your jurisdiction. And he will be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah” (Isaiah 22:21); “I have created you and appointed you to be a covenant for the people, a light to the nations” (Isaiah 42:6; emphasis added; cf. 49:6, 8); “To us a child is born, a son appointed” (Isaiah 9:6).
Now addressing his servant, Jehovah predicts his success in restoring his people. As the verb to “know” denotes an extant covenant relationship (Isaiah 19:21; 21:10; 33:6; Ezekiel 16:62), those who “do not know” one another, as in this instance, at first possess no covenant relationship (Isaiah 1:3; cf. Matthew 7:23; 25:12). When Jehovah empowers his servant, however (Isaiah 49:1-8; 51:9-11; 52:13)—when he “gloriously endows” him—Jehovah’s people who are dispersed among the nations renew the covenant and “hasten” to him, becoming a righteous “nation” or “people” (goy) of God.
The servant’s task is to gather them: “The sprig of Jesse, who stands for an ensign to the peoples, shall be sought by the nations, and his rest shall be glorious. . . . He will raise the ensign to the nations and assemble the exiled of Israel; he will gather the scattered of Judah from the four directions of the earth” (Isaiah 11:10, 12; emphasis added); “I will lift up my hand to the nations, raise my ensign to the peoples; and they will bring your sons in their bosoms and carry your daughters on their shoulders. Kings shall be your foster fathers, queens your nursing mothers” (Isaiah 49:22-23; emphasis added).
With the servant’s appearance to prepare the way for Jehovah’s coming to reign on the earth, direct divine revelation resumes (Isaiah 28:9, 16; 40:1-3; 41:27; 42:9; 48:6-8, 16). Jehovah’s people have but to inquire of Jehovah and to call upon him—whether through his servant or in their effectual personal prayers—and he will graciously respond. As Jehovah’s spokesman (v 4)—his mouth and voice (Isaiah 11:4; 28:23; 40:3; 49:2; 50:10)—the servant appeals to them to repent of their transgressions. As they do so, they find Jehovah “present” and “near”—literally, in person (Isaiah 52:6).
Unfortunately, many of Jehovah’s people have grown weary of him (Isaiah 40:27-30; 50:4) and don’t inquire of him or call upon him (Isaiah 8:19; 9:13; 30:2; 43:22; 65:1). Because the verb “return” (swb) also means “repent” (swb) (Isaiah 6:10; 21:12; 31:6; 44:22; 59:20), repentance is here defined as calling upon Jehovah, forsaking sinful thoughts, and refraining from evil ways. Only on those conditions does Jehovah mercifully pardon their faults. Without mercy, his justice alone operates, implying a prolongation of covenant curses until such time as his people do their part (Isaiah 1:5; 27:9-11).
As thoughts lead to actions, and as actions create “ways” or patterns of behavior, so those of man and his Maker differ greatly in righteousness. While man’s thoughts and ways are marred by temptations and transgressions, Jehovah’s ways are at all times pure and holy. And while man’s perspective is limited mostly to his experience with earthly matters, Jehovah’s perspective transcends man’s by encompassing the heavenly and the earthly. But those differences aren’t enough simply to contemplate. The challenge of Jehovah’s people is to learn Jehovah’s thoughts and ways and make them their own.
Jehovah’s servant, who exemplifies righteousness (Isaiah 11:4-5; 41:2; 46:11-13), succeeds in this. When “righteousness and praise spring up in the presence of all nations” (Isaiah 61:11); when Jehovah’s servant “has brought about justice in the earth” (Isaiah 42:4); when “the skies overflow with righteousness” and “the earth receives it and salvation blossoms” (Isaiah 45:8); when Jehovah’s “salvation extends to the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6); when “the earth is filled with the knowledge of Jehovah” (Isaiah 11:9)—then are the heaven and the earth indeed one (Isaiah 44:22-23; 49:13; 65:17-18).
Just as the covenant blessings of fertile and fruitful lands originate in the sky, so to speak, so all blessings originate with Jehovah who dwells in the heavens (Isaiah 63:15; 66:1). Parallel verses show that Jehovah’s desire and purpose are none other than to bless his people. His “word,” which issues from his mouth—his servant (Isaiah 50:4; 59:21)—is key to his sending forth blessings to achieve that end. When Jehovah’s people live by his word—pure and unadulterated by the precepts of men—it becomes “seed for the sower and food for the eater” and yields an abundance of blessings (vv 1-2).
Characterizing the return journey of Jehovah’s people to Zion are the enduring blessings of joy and peace that both attest to Jehovah’s handiwork (Isaiah 9:3; 26:12, 19; 51:3, 11; 53:5) and typify the fruits of his people’s righteousness (Isaiah 26:2-3; 57:1-2; 61:7-11; 65:13-18). Like the rainbow after the Flood (Genesis 9:12-17), Jehovah’s everlasting “sign” and “testimony” are the regenerating wilderness that accompanies his people’s return (Isaiah 35:1-10; 41:17-20; 43:19-21; 51:1-3) as Jehovah and his servant personally lead them home (Isaiah 52:11-12; 58:8; cf. 48:20-21; 49:8-13).