Attention!
Partner with StudyLight.org as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Utley's You Can Understand the Bible

Isaiah 27

Isaiah 27:0

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASBNKJVNRSVTEVNJB
The Deliverance of IsraelTake Refuge From the Coming Judgment(Isaiah 26:20-1)Fourth Eschatological Section(Isaiah 26:20-1)Judgment and Restoration(Isaiah 26:20-13)The LORD'S Judgment(Isaiah 26:20-1)
Isaiah 26:20-1
Isaiah 27:1(1)(Isaiah 27:1)Isaiah 27:1Isaiah 27:1
The Restoration of IsraelFourth Apocalyptic Poem of DeliveranceYahweh's Vineyard
Isaiah 27:2-11(2-11)Isaiah 27:2-11(2-5)Isaiah 27:2-11(2-5)Isaiah 27:2-5Isaiah 27:2-5(2-3)(4)(5)
Pardon and Punishment
(6)(6)Isaiah 27:6Isaiah 27:6-11(6-11)
(7-11)(7-11)Isaiah 27:7-9
Concluding Oracle of Doom and TriumphIsaiah 27:10-11The Israelites Return
Isaiah 27:12-13Isaiah 27:12-13(12)(13)Isaiah 27:12-13Isaiah 27:12Isaiah 27:12-13(12-13)
Isaiah 27:13

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compareyour subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This is the concluding chapter of the literary unit which began in Isaiah 24:0.

B. The last two lines are a fitting highly metaphorical conclusion of end-time judgment, starting with Abraham's seed (cf. Jeremiah 25:29; Amos 3:2; 1 Peter 4:17), but extending to all humans.

C. The last verse, like Isaiah 27:5, extends hope to the Gentile nations (cf. Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 19:18-23; Isaiah 25:2-3).

D. This is a wonderful poetic chapter, but its beauty causes ambiguity and confusion. Remember, seek the meaning of strophes, not the details of poetic word plays or mythological allusions.

Verse 1

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Isaiah 27:1 1In that day the LORD will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, With His fierce and great and mighty sword, Even Leviathan the twisted serpent; And He will kill the dragon who lives in the sea.

Isaiah 27:1 “In that day” See note at Isaiah 2:11.

“Leviathan the fleeing serpent” Leviathan (BDB 531) seems to be a Ugaritic mythological sea animal (i.e., Job 41:19-21) mentioned in Job 3:8; Psalms 104:26; Amos 9:3. However, sometimes it is used as a symbol for an evil nation (cf. Psalms 74:13-14, possibly Egypt). It resembles a river snaking through their land. Sometimes this term is linked specifically to “Rahab,” which is a way of referring to Egypt (cf. Psalms 87:4; Psalms 89:9-10; and Isaiah 30:7). It seems to me that, in context, we are talking about a river symbolizing a national enemy, either Egypt or Assyria (cf. Isaiah 27:12). The reason this term can be used symbolically so easily is that it was previously used in some of the mythological literature of Canaan (cf. Psalms 74:12-17; see G. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, pp. 239-240).

There is a parallelism between

1. the fleeing serpent (BDB 638 I) or sea monster (NASB footnote)

2. the twisted sea monster

3. the dragon who lives in the sea

This same allusion is found in (1) Ugaritic poems and (2) Isaiah 51:9, using “Rahab,” who is also identified by the term “dragon” (BDB 1072).

The only apparent connection between this verse and the context is Isaiah 27:11-12.

1. YHWH as creator, Isaiah 27:11

2. flowing streams of the Euphrates and the brook of Egypt in Isaiah 27:12

3. the end of time is like the beginning of time (i.e., Genesis 1-2; Revelation 21-22)

Apparently Isaiah is a compilation of his writings over many years and compiled on the basis of word plays or themes, not history.

“dragon” This term (BDB 1072) means

1. serpent, Exodus 7:9, Exodus 7:10, Exodus 7:12; Deuteronomy 32:33; Psalms 91:13

2. dragon, Nehemiah 2:13; Jeremiah 51:34

3. sea/river monster, Genesis 1:21; Job 7:12; Psalms 74:13; Psalms 148:7. It is parallel to Leviathan (cf. Psalms 74:13-14). It is used as a metaphor for Egypt in Isaiah 27:1; Isaiah 51:9, Isaiah 51:10; Ezekiel 29:3; Ezekiel 32:2.

The two great river systems of the Ancient Near East were the cradles of civilization (i.e., the Nile and the Tigris/Euphrates).

Tanin (BDB 1072) is parallel with

1. Leviathan, Psalms 74:13-14; Isaiah 27:1

2. Rahab, Isaiah 51:9

3. Bashan, Psalms 68:22; Amos 9:3 (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 87)

Verses 2-6

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Isaiah 27:2-6 2In that day, “A vineyard of wine, sing of it! 3I, the LORD, am its keeper; I water it every moment. So that no one will damage it, I guard it night and day. 4I have no wrath. Should someone give Me briars and thorns in battle, Then I would step on them, I would burn them completely. 5Or let him rely on My protection, Let him make peace with Me, Let him make peace with Me.” 6In the days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will blossom and sprout, And they will fill the whole world with fruit.

Isaiah 27:2

NASB“A vineyard of wine” NKJV“a vineyard of red wine” NRSV, TEV“a pleasant vineyard” NJB, REB“the splendid vineyard” LXX“a fair vineyard” JPSOA“a Vineyard of Delight”

The Hebrew word for “pleasant” is חמד (BDB 326), which is in the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, but the MT and the DSS have the ר not the ד. The Hebrew word for “wine” is חמר (BDB 330). The vowel points are the same for both words. The UBS Hebrew Text Project gives “pleasant”a “C” rating (considerable doubt).

The vineyard was a symbol of Israel (cf. Isaiah 5:1-7; Peshitta), but here, because of the universal nature of chapters 24-27, it may be the whole earth (cf. Isaiah 26:21; JPSOA footnote).

“sing” This is a Piel IMPERATIVE (BDB 777, KB 854). There are several “songs” mentioned in this literary unit. See note at Isaiah 26:1b.

Isaiah 27:3 YHWH had a special relationship, a covenant relationship with the descendants of Abraham. They were uniquely His people. However, Isaiah 27:6 shows He had a universal plan for all the world (cf. Genesis 3:15; Genesis 12:3; Exodus 19:5).

Isaiah 27:4-5 There are several COHORTATIVES and JUSSIVES in these verses.

1. I would step on them, BDB 832, KB 979, Qal COHORTATIVE (VERB found only here in the OT)

2. I would burn them, BDB 428, KB 429, Hiphil IMPERFECT used in a COHORTATIVE sense

3. let him rely on My protection, BDB 304, KB 302, Hiphil JUSSIVE

4. let him make peace with Me, BDB 793, KB 889, Qal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense, twice

Verse Isaiah 27:3 describes YHWH's care and protection for Abraham's descendants; Isaiah 27:4 describes His willingness to protect and destroy her enemies; Isaiah 27:5 is a call to trust in His care and protection; Isaiah 27:6 is the result of the blessings which will one day fill the earth (the original intention of God in Genesis 1:0).

Isaiah 27:4

NASB“wrath” NKJV“fury” TEV, JB“angry” NJB, LXX“wall” REB“wine” PESHITTA“hedge”

Notice how many options.

1. חמה (BDB 404), “wrath,” very common in Isaiah

2. חומה (BDB 327), “wall,” used several times in this literary unit, cf. Isaiah 2:15; Isaiah 22:10, Isaiah 22:11; Isaiah 25:12; Isaiah 26:1

3. חמר (BDB 330), “wine,” rare, only in Isaiah 27:2 and Deuteronomy 32:14

The UBS Hebrew Text Project gives “wrath” a “B” rating (some doubt).

Isaiah 27:5 “Or let him rely on My protection” This shows that human (even for God's enemies, cf. Isaiah 27:4) response is part of God's plan (cf. Isaiah 1:16-17, Isaiah 1:18-20). There is a paradox in the Bible between the sovereignty of God in history and God's will that humans respond to Him by faith. See Special Topic at Isaiah 1:3. Isaiah 27:5 is God's offering of forgiveness and salvation to those Gentiles who trust in Him (cf. Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 45:22; Isaiah 49:6).

“Let him make peace with Me” This phrase is doubled, which is characteristic of this section of Isaiah. See note at Isaiah 26:6.

Peace is such a crucial aspect of a faith relationship with God (cf. Isaiah 26:12; Isaiah 32:17; Isaiah 52:7; Isaiah 54:10; Isaiah 55:12; Isaiah 57:2, Isaiah 57:19; Isaiah 60:17; Isaiah 66:12; Philippians 4:7, Philippians 4:9) and His Messiah (cf. Isaiah 9:6, Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 53:5; Romans 5:1; John 14:27; John 16:33; John 20:19, John 20:21, John 20:26). It also involves peace between nations (cf. Isaiah 2:4; Isaiah 39:8), but there is no peace for the wicked (cf. Isaiah 48:22; Isaiah 57:1; Isaiah 59:18).

Here the term denotes a peace treaty, initiated by YHWH, but must be accepted and lived out by the faithful.

Isaiah 27:6 “Israel will blossom and sprout;

And they will fill the whole world with fruit” Here again is the imagery of Mount Zion being raised to the highest of all mountains and all the other topological barriers eliminated so that all the world can flow to Jerusalem to worship God (cf. Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 24:23; Isaiah 25:6, Isaiah 25:7; Isaiah 27:13). This faithfulness is the exact opposite of Isaiah 26:18. Maybe part of the fruit is “raised ones” of Isaiah 26:19.

Verses 7-11

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Isaiah 27:7-11 7Like the striking of Him who has struck them, has He struck them? Or like the slaughter of His slain, have they been slain? 8You contended with them by banishing them, by driving them away. With His fierce wind He has expelled them on the day of the east wind. 9Therefore through this Jacob's iniquity will be forgiven; And this will be the full price of the pardoning of his sin: When he makes all the altar stones like pulverized chalk stones; When Asherim and incense altars will not stand. 10For the fortified city is isolated, A homestead forlorn and forsaken like the desert; There the calf will graze, And there it will lie down and feed on its branches. 11When its limbs are dry, they are broken off; Women come and make a fire with them, For they are not a people of discernment, Therefore their Maker will not have compassion on them. And their Creator will not be gracious to them.

Isaiah 27:7 This is a very difficult verse. It states that God's judgment is going to fall on those nations that He had used to judge His own people. (cf. Isaiah 47:6).

Repetition of words and phrases is characteristic of this literary unit (see Isaiah 26:6). Here the NOUN, הכמ (BDB 646, FEMININE, often used of YHWW bringing judgment on His own people, cf. Leviticus 26:21; Deuteronomy 28:61; Jeremiah 30:12), “to wound,” or “to slaughter,” is followed by the repeating of a related VERB, הכנ (BDB 645, KB 697, Hiphil PARTICIPLE and Hiphil PERFECT). Those who YHWH used to punish will be punished even more severely than they punished God's people (NET Bible).

Isaiah 27:8 “them” The “them” of Isaiah 27:8 refers to Israel being divorced (i.e., “context,” BDB 936, KB 1224, Qal IMPERFECT, cf. Hosea 2:2) by God because she broke the covenant (cf. Isaiah 50:1). Therefore, God brought foreign rulers to judge His people (cf. Deuteronomy 28:49-57; i.e., Assyria, Isaiah 10:5, and Babylon, Isaiah 14:0). However, God will judge them also (cf. Isaiah 27:7; Isaiah 47:6; Isaiah 49:25).

NASB“by banishing them” NKJV“in measure” NRSV“by expulsion” NJB“by expelling” LXX“dismiss” PESHITTA“in measure by which he has measured”

The MT has בסאסאה (found only here), which can be understood as

1. סאה אסאה, “in measure by measure” (BDB 684, KB 738, Pilpel INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT, Targums and Vulgate)

2. אסאסאה, by driving her out (see next paragraph)

The UBS Hebrew Text Project gives #1 a “B” rating (some doubt), possibly because doubling of words and phrases is so common in this literary unit.

The next Hebrew word is בשׁלחה (BDB 1018, KB 1511, Piel INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT), which means “send away by exile.” Several of the translations above simply leave out the first VERBAL and translate the second VERBAL.

“by driving them away” The Hebrew VERB (BDB 212, KB 237, Qal PERFECT) denotes a cleansing by removing impurities (from the refining of silver, cf. Proverbs 25:4).

“east wind” Often this refers to the powers of Mesopotamia (i.e., Isaiah 46:11; Ezekiel 17:10; Hosea 13:15) that invade Palestine, but that cannot be the meaning here because of Isaiah 27:7. So it must be a metaphor of divine judgment (cf. Exodus 10:13; Psalms 48:7; Jeremiah 18:17). Sometimes the east wind is a divine act of blessing (cf. Exodus 14:21; Exodus 15:10; Numbers 11:31; see NIDOTTE, vol. 3, pp. 871-873).

Isaiah 27:9 Here again many have asserted that this shows that Israel/Judah was forgiven because of the judgment that they experienced from the hand of God. But wait, they must also destroy all remnants of their fertility worship (lines 3, 4). However, this must be brought in line with the concept of “the Suffering Servant” found in Isaiah 52:13-12. Again, it is not an either/or situation, but two different ways of looking at the actions of God in human history. The Messiah is the means of salvation, but people must respond to Him in faith and faithfulness.

“altar stones. . .Asherim” These were the symbols of the male and female fertility deities of Canaan which were so devastating to the worship of YHWH. They will be destroyed! See Fertility Worship of the Ancient Near East.

“chalk stones” This word (BDB 162) appears only here in the OT. It denotes a soft stone that can easily be pulverized.

The same word is found in Daniel 5:5, but in Aramaic, and refers to the plaster on the walls of the banquet room in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar's grandson, Belshazzar.

Isaiah 27:10 “For the fortified city is isolated” This is a play on the term “city.” See note at Isaiah 24:10 and chart at chapter 26, Introduction, D.

Isaiah 27:11 The imagery of a deserted pasture representing the exiled, sinful people of God continues from Isaiah 27:10 in Isaiah 27:11, lines 1-2.

These disobedient covenant people are characterized:

1. they are not a people of discernment, cf. Hosea 4:14

2. their Maker (cf. Isaiah 43:1, Isaiah 43:7; Isaiah 44:2, Isaiah 44:21, Isaiah 44:24; Deuteronomy 32:18) will not have compassion on them

3. their Creator will not be gracious to them

Verses 12-13

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Isaiah 27:12-13 12In that day the LORD will start His threshing from the flowing stream of the Euphrates to the brook of Egypt, and you will be gathered up one by one, O sons of Israel. 13It will come about also in that day that a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were perishing in the land of Assyria and who were scattered in the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD in the holy mountain at Jerusalem.

Isaiah 27:12-13 This seems to form a concluding literary statement. Isaiah 27:12 is talking about God's dealing with (i.e., “thresh,” BDB 286, KB 285, Qal IMPERFECT which denotes an eschatological harvest with its separation of the faithful and unfaithful, cf. Matthew 13:36-43; Matthew 24:31; Matthew 25:32) His people, using national imagery. It refers to the limits of the Promised Land found so often in the OT (cf. Genesis 15:18; 1 Kings 8:65; Ezekiel 47:15-19). Isaiah 27:13 is international in scope; it deals with those Gentile nations beyond the people of God who are also invited to respond to God by faith (i.e., Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 19:18-25).

These last two verses reflect Deuteronomy 30:1-10 in eschatological imagery (note Hosea 11:8-11).

Isaiah 27:12 “from the flowing stream” This word (BDB 987) has two meanings.

1. flowing stream, BDB 987 I, cf. Psalms 69:2, Psalms 69:15

2. gathering grain, BDB 987 II, cf. Isaiah 17:5; Genesis 41:5, Genesis 41:6, Genesis 41:7, Genesis 41:22, Genesis 41:23, Genesis 41:24, Genesis 41:26, Genesis 41:27; Ruth 2:2; Job 24:24

This chapter uses both senses. Number 1 fits the allusion in Isaiah 27:1, but number 2 fits the immediate VERB (thresh) and the metaphor for judgment (i.e., harvesting).

“the brook of Egypt” This refers to the wadi El'arish, which is the southern boundary of the Promised Land.

Isaiah 27:13 “in that day that a great trumpet will be blown” This is a recurrent eschatological theme using a worship or military metaphor of a blown trumpet (two kinds).

1. worship, Exodus 19:16, Exodus 19:19; Leviticus 25:9; Numbers 10:2, Numbers 10:8, Numbers 10:10; 1 Chronicles 15:24

2. military, Numbers 10:9; Joshua 6:0; Judges 3:27; Judges 6:34; Judges 7:0; 1 Samuel 13:3; 2 Samuel 2:28

3. eschatological, here and possibly Zechariah 9:14; Matthew 24:31; 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16

SPECIAL TOPIC: HORNS USED BY ISRAEL

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Who or what is Leviathan in Isaiah 27:1?

2. How is Isaiah 27:5 related to Isaiah 1:16-17?

3. Why is Isaiah 27:6 so significant in light of God's plan for Jerusalem?

4. How are Isaiah 27:12 and 13 characteristic of this entire literary unit? (i.e. a play between the national and the international and the corporate and the individual)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Isaiah 27". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/isaiah-27.html. 2021.