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The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary
   

Yeshayahu- Isaiah - Chapter 40

Yeshayahu- Isaiah - Chapter 40

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Rashi's Commentary:

Chapter 40

1. "Console, console My people," says your God.   א. נַחֲמוּ נַחֲמוּ עַמִּי יֹאמַר אֱלֹהֵיכֶם:
Console, console My people: He returns to his future prophecies; since from here to the end of the Book are words of consolations, this section separated them from the prophecies of retribution. Console, you, My prophets, console My people.  
2. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call to her, for she has become full [from] her host, for her iniquity has been appeased, for she has taken from the hand of the Lord double for all her sins.   ב. דַּבְּרוּ עַל לֵב יְרוּשָׁלִַם וְקִרְאוּ אֵלֶיהָ כִּי מָלְאָה צְבָאָהּ כִּי נִרְצָה עֲו‍ֹנָהּ כִּי לָקְחָה מִיַּד יְהֹוָה כִּפְלַיִם בְּכָל חַטֹּאתֶיהָ:
for she has become full [from] her host: Jonathan renders: She is destined to become full from the people of the exiles, as though it would say, “She has become full from her host.” Others interpret צְבָאָה like (Job 7:1), “Is there not a time (צָבָא) for man on the earth?”  
has been appeased: Heb. נִרְצָה, has been appeased.  
for she has taken etc.: [Jonathan paraphrases:] For she has received a cup of consolation from before the Lord as though she has been punished doubly for all her sins. According to its simple meaning, it is possible to explain, ‘for she received double punishment.’ Now if you ask, how is it the standard of the Holy One, blessed be He, to pay back a person double his sin, I will tell you that we find an explicit verse (Jer. 16:18): “And I will pay first the doubling of their iniquity and their sin.”  
3. A voice calls, "In the desert, clear the way of the Lord, straighten out in the wilderness, a highway for our God."   ג. קוֹל קוֹרֵא בַּמִּדְבָּר פַּנּוּ דֶּרֶךְ יְהֹוָה יַשְּׁרוּ בָּעֲרָבָה מְסִלָּה לֵאלֹהֵינוּ:
A voice: The Holy Spirit calls, “In the desert, the way to Jerusalem.”  
clear the way of the Lord: for her exiles to return to her midst. [The Warsaw edition yields:]  
Clear the way of the Lord: The way of Jerusalem for her exiles to return to her midst.  
4. Every valley shall be raised, and every mountain and hill shall be lowered, and the crooked terrain shall become a plain and the close mountains a champaigne.   ד. כָּל גֶּיא יִנָּשֵׂא וְכָל הַר וְגִבְעָה יִשְׁפָּלוּ וְהָיָה הֶעָקֹב לְמִישׁוֹר וְהָרְכָסִים לְבִקְעָה:
Every valley shall be raised: and the mountain shall be lowered, thus resulting in a smooth, even, and easily traversed road.  
and the close mountains: Heb. רְכָסִים, mountains close to each other, and because of their proximity, the descent between them is steep and it is not slanted, that it should be easy to descend and ascend. ([The word] רְכָסִים is translated by Jonathan as ‘banks,’ an expression of height like the banks of a river.)  
close mountains: Heb. רְכָסִים. Comp. (Ex. 28:28) “And they shall fasten (וְיִרְכְּסוּ) the breastplate.”  
a champaigne: Canpayne in O.F., a smooth and even terrain.  
5. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh together shall see that the mouth of the Lord spoke.   ה. וְנִגְלָה כְּבוֹד יְהֹוָה וְרָאוּ כָל בָּשָׂר יַחְדָּו כִּי פִּי יְהֹוָה דִּבֵּר:
6. A voice says, "Call!" and it says, "What shall I call?" "All flesh is grass, and all its kindness is like the blossom of the field.   ו. קוֹל אֹמֵר קְרָא וְאָמַר מָה אֶקְרָא כָּל הַבָּשָׂר חָצִיר וְכָל חַסְדּוֹ כְּצִיץ הַשָּׂדֶה:
A voice: from the Holy One, blessed be He, says to me, “Call!”  
and it says: My spirit says to Him, “What shall I call?” And the voice answers him, "Call this, all flesh is grass. All those who are haughty their greatness shall be turned over and become like grass. ([Manuscripts yield:] All the princes of the kingdom their greatness shall be turned over and shall wither away [lit. shall end] like grass.)  
and all its kindness is like the blossom of the field: For “the kindness of the nations is sin” (Prov. 14:34). [Ed. note: We have inverted the order of Rashi and followed the order of K’li Paz and Parshandatha, to connect the second part of the verse with the first. Rashi’s explanation of the second part follows his first explanation of the first part. In the Lublin edition, the second explanation of the first part of the verse interrupts the sequence.] (Another explanation is: All flesh is grass.) A person’s end is to die; therefore, if he says to do kindness, he is like the blossom of the field, that is cut off and dries, and one must not rely on him, for he has no power to fulfill his promise, perhaps he will die, for, just as the grass dries out and the blossom wilts, so is it that when a man dies, his promise is null, but the word of our God shall last for He is living and existing, and He has the power to fulfill. Therefore, “Upon a lofty mountain ascend and herald, O herald of Zion, for the promise of the tidings emanates from the mouth of Him Who lives forever.”  
7. The grass shall dry out, the blossom shall wilt, for a wind from the Lord has blown upon it; behold the people is grass.   ז. יָבֵשׁ חָצִיר נָבֵל צִיץ כִּי רוּחַ יְהֹוָה נָשְׁבָה בּוֹ אָכֵן חָצִיר הָעָם:
shall wilt: Heb. נָבֵל, wilt.  
8. The grass shall dry out, the blossom shall wilt, but the word of our God shall last forever.   ח. יָבֵשׁ חָצִיר נָבֵל צִיץ וּדְבַר אֱלֹהֵינוּ יָקוּם לְעוֹלָם:
9. Upon a lofty mountain ascend, O herald of Zion, raise your voice with strength, O herald of Jerusalem; raise [your voice], fear not; say to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God!"   ט. עַל הַר גָּבֹהַ עֲלִי לָךְ מְבַשֶּׂרֶת צִיּוֹן הָרִימִי בַכֹּחַ קוֹלֵךְ מְבַשֶּׂרֶת יְרוּשָׁלִָם הָרִימִי אַל תִּירָאִי אִמְרִי לְעָרֵי יְהוּדָה הִנֵּה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם:
O herald of Zion: Heb. מְבַשֶּׂרֶת. The prophets who herald Zion. [This is the feminine form.] Elsewhere (infra 52:7), he says, “the feet of the herald (מְבַשֵּׂר).” [This is the masculine form.] This denotes that if they are worthy, he will be as swift as a male. If they are not worthy, he will be as weak as a female and will delay his steps until the end.  
10. Behold the Lord God shall come with a strong [hand], and His arm rules for Him; behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense is before Him.   י. הִנֵּה אֲדֹנָי יֱהֹוִה בְּחָזָק יָבוֹא וּזְרֹעוֹ מֹשְׁלָה לוֹ הִנֵּה שְׂכָרוֹ אִתּוֹ וּפְעֻלָּתוֹ לְפָנָיו:
shall come with a strong [hand]: to mete out retribution upon the heathens. ([Mss. read:] Upon the nations.)  
behold His reward is with Him: It is prepared with Him for the righteous.  
and His recompense: [lit. His deed,] the recompense for the deed, which He is obliged to give them.  
11. Like a shepherd [who] tends his flock, with his arm he gathers lambs, and in his bosom he carries [them], the nursing ones he leads.   יא. כְּרֹעֶה עֶדְרוֹ יִרְעֶה בִּזְרֹעוֹ יְקַבֵּץ טְלָאִים וּבְחֵיקוֹ יִשָּׂא עָלוֹת יְנַהֵל:
Like a shepherd [who] tends his flock: Like a shepherd who tends his flock; with his arm he gathers lambs, and he carries them in his bosom.  
the nursing ones he leads: [Jonathan renders:] The nursing ones he leads gently, the nursing sheep.  
he leads: Heb. יְנַהֵל, lit. he shall lead, like מְנַהֵל, he leads.  
12. Who measured water with his gait, and measured the heavens with his span, and measured by thirds the dust of the earth, and weighed mountains with a scale and hills with a balance?   יב. מִי מָדַד בְּשָׁעֳלוֹ מַיִם וְשָׁמַיִם בַּזֶּרֶת תִּכֵּן וְכָל בַּשָּׁלִשׁ עֲפַר הָאָרֶץ וְשָׁקַל בַּפֶּלֶס הָרִים וּגְבָעוֹת בְּמֹאזְנָיִם:
Who measured etc.: He had the power to do all this, and surely He has the power to keep these promises.  
with his gait: Heb. בְּשָׁעֳלוֹ, with his walking, as it is said (Habakkuk 3:15): “You trod with Your horses in the sea.” Comp. (Num. 22: 24) “In the path (בְּמִשְׁעוֹל) of the vineyards, a path (for walking).” Another explanation is that שַׁעַל is the name of a receptacle. Comp. (Ezekiel 13:19) “For measures (בְּשַׁעֲלוֹ) of barley.”  
measured: Amolad in O.F., an expression of measure and number. Comp. (Ex. 5:18) “And the number (וְתֹכֶן) of bricks you shall give.”  
and measured by thirds: Heb. בַּשָּׁלִשׁ, and measured by thirds, one third wilderness, one third civilization, and one third seas and rivers. Another interpretation: בַּשָּׁלִשׁ, from the thumb to the middle finger, the third of the fingers. Menahem explains it as the name of a vessel. Comp. (Ps. 80:6) “And You gave them to drink tears with a vessel (שָׁלִישׁ).”  
and weighed mountains with a scale: Everything according to the earth, a heavy mountain He inserted into hard earth, and the light ones into soft earth.  
13. Who meted the spirit of the Lord, and His adviser who informs Him?   יג. מִי תִכֵּן אֶת רוּחַ יְהֹוָה וְאִישׁ עֲצָתוֹ יוֹדִיעֶנּוּ:
Who meted: the Holy Spirit in the mouth of the prophets? The Lord prepared it, and He is worthy of belief.  
and His adviser who informs Him: [and the one with whom He takes counsel He informs] of His spirit. So did Jonathan render it. [Who meted out the spirit? The Lord, and the one with whom He takes counsel He informs him, i.e., the righteous in whom God confides, He informs of His plans for the future.] But, according to its context, עֲצָתו ֹוְאִישׁ refers back to the beginning of the verse. Who meted out His spirit and who is His adviser who informs the Holy One, blessed be He, of counsel?  
14. With whom did He take counsel give him to understand, and teach him in the way of justice, and teach him knowledge, and the way of understandings did He let him know?   יד. אֶת מִי נוֹעַץ וַיְבִינֵהוּ וַיְלַמְּדֵהוּ בְּאֹרַח מִשְׁפָּט וַיְלַמְּדֵהוּ דַעַת וְדֶרֶךְ תְּבוּנוֹת יודִיעֶנּוּ:
With whom did He take counsel and give him to understand: With which of the heathens ([mss., K’li Paz:] nations) did He take counsel, as He took counsel with the prophets, as it is said concerning Abraham (Gen. 18:17): “Do I conceal from Abraham…?”  
and give him to understand, and teach him in the way of justice: With which one of the heathens ([mss., K’li Paz:] nations) did He do so, that He taught him wisdom as He did to Abraham, to whom He gave a heart to recognize Him by himself and to understand the Torah, as it is said (ibid. 26:5): “And he kept My charge,” and Scripture states further (ibid. 18:19), “For he commands etc.” And his kidneys would pour forth wisdom to him, as it is said (Ps. 16:7): “Even at night my kidneys chastised me.” (  
With whom did He take counsel and who gave Him to understand: [With which man did He take counsel and which] man gave the Holy One, blessed be He, [to understand?] Behold all the nations are like a drop in a bucket, and how could they teach Him?)  
15. Behold the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and like dust on a balance are they counted; behold the islands are like fine [dust] that blows away.   טו. הֵן גּוֹיִם כְּמַר מִדְּלִי וּכְשַׁחַק מֹאזְנַיִם נֶחְשָׁבוּ הֵן אִיִּים כַּדַּק יִטּוֹל:
Behold the nations are like a drop from a bucket: And are not worthy to Him to appoint some of them as prophets to reveal His secret.  
like a drop from a bucket: Heb. כְּמַר, like a bitter drop that drips from the bottom of the bucket, bitter from the putrid water that is embedded in the bucket and the decay of the wood, limonede in O.F.  
and like the dust of a balance: for the copper corrodes and wears off.  
like fine: fine dust.  
that blows away: [lit. that will be taken.] Like dust that is picked up and goes up through the wind, like fine dust that is carried away.  
16. And the Lebanon-there is not enough to burn, and its beasts-there is not enough for burnt offerings.   טז. וּלְבָנוֹן אֵין דֵּי בָּעֵר וְחַיָּתוֹ אֵין דֵּי עוֹלָה:
there is not enough to burn: on His altar.  
and its beasts: (the beasts] of the Lebanonthere is not enough for burnt offerings. Another explanation is:  
And the Lebanon etc.: to expiate the iniquity of the heathens.  
17. All the nations are as nought before Him; as things of nought and vanity are they regarded by Him.   יז. כָּל הַגּוֹיִם כְּאַיִן נֶגְדּוֹ מֵאֶפֶס וָתֹהוּ נֶחְשְׁבוּ לוֹ:
All the nations are as naught before Him: In His eyes they are as naught, and are not regarded by Him.  
18. And to whom do you compare God, and what likeness do you arrange for Him?   יח. וְאֶל מִי תְּדַמְּיוּן אֵל וּמַה דְּמוּת תַּעַרְכוּ לוֹ:
19. The graven image, the craftsman has melted, and the smith plates it with gold, and chains of silver he attaches.   יט. הַפֶּסֶל נָסַךְ חָרָשׁ וְצֹרֵף בַּזָּהָב יְרַקְּעֶנּוּ וּרְתֻקּוֹת כֶּסֶף צוֹרֵף:
melted: Heb. נָסַ, an expression of melting (מַסֵּכָה).  
the craftsman has melted: The ironsmith has cast it from iron or from copper, and then the goldsmith plates it with plates of gold and covers it from above.  
and chains: Heb. וּרְתֻקוֹת, and chains.  
20. He who is accustomed to select, chooses a tree that does not rot; he seeks for himself a skilled craftsman, to prepare a graven image, which will not move.   כ. הַמְסֻכָּן תְּרוּמָה עֵץ לֹא יִרְקַב יִבְחָר חָרָשׁ חָכָם יְבַקֶּשׁ לוֹ לְהָכִין פֶּסֶל לֹא יִמּוֹט:
He who is accustomed to select: הַמְסֻכָּן תְּרוּמָה. Or, if he comes to make it of wood, one who is accustomed to discern between a durable tree and other trees, chooses a tree that does not decay quickly.  
He who is accustomed: Heb. הַמְסֻכָּן. Comp. (Num. 22:30) “Have I been accustomed (הַהַסְכֵּן הִסְכַּנְתִּי) ?”  
to select: Heb. תְּרוּמָה, separation, selection of the trees.  
21. Do you not know, have you not heard has it not been told to you from the beginning? Do you not understand the foundations of the earth?   כא. הֲלוֹא תֵדְעוּ הֲלוֹא תִשְׁמָעוּ הֲלוֹא הֻגַּד מֵרֹאשׁ לָכֶם הֲלוֹא הֲבִינוֹתֶם מוֹסְדוֹת הָאָרֶץ:
Do you not know… the foundations of the earth: Who founded it, and you should have worshipped Him.  
22. It is He Who sits above the circle of the earth, and whose inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heaven like a curtain, and He spread them out like a tent to dwell.   כב. הַיּשֵׁב עַל חוּג הָאָרֶץ וְיֹשְׁבֶיהָ כַּחֲגָבִים הַנּוֹטֶה כַדֹּק שָׁמַיִם וַיִּמְתָּחֵם כָּאֹהֶל לָשָׁבֶת:
the circle: Heb. חוּג, an expression similar to (infra 44:13) “And with a compass (וּבַמְּחוּגָה),” a circle (compas in O.F.).  
and whose inhabitants: are to Him [lit. before Him] like grasshoppers.  
like a curtain: Heb. כַדֹּק, a curtain, toile in French.  
23. Who brings princes to nought, judges of the land He made like a thing of nought.   כג. הַנּוֹתֵן רוֹזְנִים לְאָיִן שֹׁפְטֵי אֶרֶץ כַּתֹּהוּ עָשָׂה:
24. Even [as though] they were not planted, even [as though] they were not sown, even [as though] their trunk was not rooted in the earth; and also He blew on them, and they dried up, and a tempest shall carry them away like straw.   כד. אַף בַּל נִטָּעוּ אַף בַּל זֹרָעוּ אַף בַּל שֹׁרֵשׁ בָּאָרֶץ גִּזְעָם וְגַם נָשַׁף בָּהֶם וַיִּבָשׁוּ וּסְעָרָה כַּקַּשׁ תִּשָּׂאֵם:
Even [as though] they were not planted: They are even as though they were not planted.  
even [as though] they were not sown: And still more than this, that they shall be uprooted and plucked out, as if they were not sown. Sowing is less than planting.  
their trunk is not rooted in the earth: When they will be plucked out, the trunk will not take root in the ground that it will grow up anew. Every שֹׁרֶשׁ, root, in Scripture is accented on the first letter, and the ‘reish’ is vowelized with a ‘pattah’ [segol]. This one, however, is accented on the latter syllable and it is vowelized with a ‘kamatz katan’ [tzeireh] because it is a verb, present tense, [enracinant in French] being rooted.  
25. "Now, to whom will you compare Me that I should be equal?" says the Holy One.   כה. וְאֶל מִי תְדַמְּיוּנִי וְאֶשְׁוֶה יֹאמַר קָדוֹשׁ:
26. Lift up your eyes on high and see, who created these, who takes out their host by number; all of them He calls by name; because of His great might and because He is strong in power, no one is missing.   כו. שְׂאוּ מָרוֹם עֵינֵיכֶם וּרְאוּ מִי בָרָא אֵלֶּה הַמּוֹצִיא בְמִסְפָּר צְבָאָם לְכֻלָּם בְּשֵׁם יִקְרָא מֵרֹב אוֹנִים וְאַמִּיץ כֹּחַ אִישׁ לֹא נֶעְדָּר:
who created these: All the host that you will see on high.  
because of His great might: that He has, and that He is strong in power, no one of His host is missing, that He does not call by name.  
27. Why should you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, "My way has been hidden from the Lord, and from my God, my judgment passes"?   כז. לָמָּה תֹאמַר יַעֲקֹב וּתְדַבֵּר יִשְׂרָאֵל נִסְתְּרָה דַרְכִּי מֵיְהֹוָה וּמֵאֱלֹהַי מִשְׁפָּטִי יַעֲבוֹר:
Why should you say: My people ([K’li Paz, mss.:] the people of) Jacob, and speak in exile.  
My way has been hidden from the Lord: He hid from before His eyes all that we served Him, and gave those who did not know Him, dominion over us.  
and from my God, my judgment passes?: He ignores the judgment of the good reward He should have paid our forefathers and us.  
28. Do you not know-if you have not heard-an everlasting God is the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth; He neither tires nor wearies; there is no fathoming His understanding.   כח. הֲלוֹא יָדַעְתָּ אִם לֹא שָׁמַעְתָּ אֱלֹהֵי עוֹלָם | יְהֹוָה בּוֹרֵא קְצוֹת הָאָרֶץ לֹא יִיעַף וְלֹא יִיגָע אֵין חֵקֶר לִתְבוּנָתוֹ:
the Creator of the ends of the earth… there is no fathoming His understanding: And One who has such strength and such wisdomHe knows the thoughts. Why does He delay your benefit, only to terminate the transgression and to expiate the sin through afflictions.  
29. Who gives the tired strength, and to him who has no strength, He increases strength.   כט. נֹתֵן לַיָּעֵף כֹּחַ וּלְאֵין אוֹנִים עָצְמָה יַרְבֶּה:
Who gives the tired strength: And who will eventually renew strength for your tiredness.  
30. Now youths shall become tired and weary, and young men shall stumble.   ל. וְיִעֲפוּ נְעָרִים וְיִגָעוּ וּבַחוּרִים כָּשׁוֹל יִכָּשֵׁלוּ:
Now youths shall become tired: Heb. נְעָרִים. The might of your enemies who are devoid (מְנֹעָרִים) of commandments, shall become faint.  
and young men shall stumble: Those who are now mighty and strong, shall stumble, but you, who put your hope in the Lord shall gain new strength and power.  
31. But those who put their hope in the Lord shall renew [their] vigor, they shall raise wings as eagles; they shall run and not weary, they shall walk and not tire.   לא. וְקוֵֹי יְהֹוָה יַחֲלִיפוּ כֹחַ יַעֲלוּ אֵבֶר כַּנְּשָׁרִים יָרוּצוּ וְלֹא יִיגָעוּ יֵלְכוּ וְלֹא יִיעָפוּ:
wings: [The Hebrew אבר means] a wing.  
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