YHVH to Redeem the Israelite Captives From Spiritual Blindness (Torahlessness)

Isaiah 42:5–43:10 

What is the Haftorah (Haftorot, plural)? It is that portion of the writings of the biblical prophets that in Jewish synagogues is traditionally read after the reading of the weekly Torah portion (Parashah). The subject of the Haftorah portion usually directly relates to the subject of the corresponding Torah portion, “and usually contains an explicit reference to some event described in the section previously read from the Torah” (Jewish Encyclopedia, article entitled Haftorah, p. 135). No one knows when the custom of reading a portion of the writings of the Prophets on the Sabbath along with the weekly Torah portion originated, but it seems to be of pre-Christian era derivation (Ibid.p. 136). Jewish tradition traces the origination of coupling the Torah with the Prophets back to the intertestamental period of Antiochus IV Ephiphanes (168–165 B.C.) who forbade the Jewish people from reading the Torah thus forcing them to read a corresponding section from the prophets instead that would remind them of that particular Torah portion (Ibid.). Whatever the case, the studying of the Haftorah portions teaches Bible students the divinely inspired co-relationship between the YHVH’s Torah and the rest of his Word, and encourages us to study the whole counsel of that Word for our spiritual edification.

Let’s determine the context of the Isaiah passage under consideration. Although this Haftorah portion commences in verse five, we cannot fully understand it without considering the fuller context of the preceding passages in Isaiah. For example, to whom is Isaiah 42:1–4 referring? (See Matt 12:17–21.) Please note that Matthew says that Yeshua is quoting Isaiah (verse 17), yet verse 21 (“And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.”) is not found in the Masoretic text of Isaiah 42:1–4 from which our English Bibles are translated, although the Greek Septuagint (LXX) contains this phrase in its Isaiah 42 passage. Can we explain why the LXX contains this phrase, yet the Masoretic text does not? Perhaps the Masoretic Text, which was accepted by Rabbinic Judaism in the first millennia of the common era as the official Hebrew text from which translations of the Hebrew Scriptures would be made, purposely omitted it in order to diminish the Christian notion that Yeshua was the Suffering Servant on whose name the people of the nations would place faith in order to be redeemed. (In our studies, we have discovered other instances where the rabbis have tampered with the original Hebrew to slant meanings in their favor and away from any concept of Yeshua being the Messiah.) After all, elsewhere in Isaiah we find similar statements (Read Isa 50:10; 51:5 cp. Zeph 3:12). Therefore, Matthew is indeed correct when he states that Yeshua was quoting from Isaiah. Another possibility is that the LXX translation is inaccurate having been glossed (biased) by Christian translators. A third possibility comes into view when one realizes that the Masoretic Text was but one of several text families of Hebrew “Old Testaments” in circulation at the time of Yeshua. There existed the Targumim (the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Scriptures) along with the Hebrew text from which the Dead Sea scrolls “Old Testament” derives, along with competing Hebrew “Old Testaments” from other scribal families besides the Masoretes. The Hebrew in many of these will vary slightly. Whatever the case, the Word of YHVH is not broken in Matthew 12:21, for indeed there are other passages in Isaiah which clearly point to Yeshua (e.g. Isa 50:10) being a light to the nations and redeeming them if they will but put their trust in his name.

Having established that our Haftorah passage is definitely a reference to Yeshua the Messiah, let us ask the next question. Who is the target group to which Isaiah is prophetically referring as being the recipient of Messiah’s spiritual “light” (verses 6–7)? Who is Isaiah addressing in his prophecy? In verses 16–20 YHVH refers, to his blind and deaf servants who have turned to idolatry and turned their backs on YHVH, but who will turn back to YHVH (verse 17). He says of this people-group that there are many things that they have not “observed” (the Hebrew word for observe is shamar, Strong’s H8104, meaning“kept, guarded or heeded”), and then in the next verse he begins to talk about his Torah. Would this passage in Isaiah make sense if it were referring to Gentiles who had never in their past known the Elohim of Israel or his Torah-laws? (Read verse 24.) Now who is the target group identified in 43:1? Is he talking to the Gentiles or to the descendants of Jacob who have lost their way spiritually and become mixed with the Gentiles (Hos 7:8; 8:8)? What does YHVH promise to do with his wayward children who have become lost and scattered among the Gentiles? (Read Isa 43:5–10.) How would he redeem them? This is a major issue with which Isaiah deals. (Read Isa 49:1–7; 50:1; 52:13–15; 53:1–12.) In all of these passages, who is the people-group to whom the prophet is continually urging them to return to YHVH offering them a message of redemption and hope? (See Isa 44:1, 2, 5, 21; 45:4, 19; 46:3, 13; 48:1, 12; 49:3, 5, 6, 7, 26; 51:1, 4, 17; 52:2; 54:5; 56:8.)

Now that we know what the subject of this Haftorah portion is and who the target group is, what can we learn from this passage?

Isaiah 42:5, Who created. What are the similarities between this passage and the Genesis chapter one creation account (especially verses 1–6). Both accounts speak of light. In Genesis chapter one, we understand that the light alluded to here is both physical and spiritual in nature. Isaiah speaks of this light in a prophetic and spiritual context. If 42:1–6 are referring to Yeshua, then how is he “light to the Gentiles” and what is that light? (See John 1:1–14; 8:12 and 9:5.)

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