What does a merciful justice mean? Does suffering have a meaning? What is its relationship with repentance? What type of cosmological and theological effects can this repentance have?
In Isa 30:18-26 we have an emphasis on the faithfulness of YHWH based on his merciful justice. This merciful justice cannot be frustrated by human infidelity. God's grace is manifested in blessing the rebellious children. The time of suffering will be over and the time of repentance will come. That is when the people will do away with all the evil ways of behaving, will get rid of the idols and heed to the voice of YHWH. Then the earth will also rejoice and participate in the blessings that people will enjoy. There will be abundant rain and fertility. The oppressing enemies will give way to prosperity. This is the Lord's healing promise.
In other words, we admit that the biblical passage presents five themes: a) God's merciful justice; b) The aim of suffering; c) Human response; d) Cosmological effects; e) God's healing.
The text of Isaiah 30:18-26 is generally considered to be dated from sometime after the fall of Jerusalem (587 B.C.) or post-exilic. In this case the prophet sows a seed of real hope in the people assuring them of a brighter future when YHWH will be the fountain of healing for his people. In fact the assurance with which the pericope starts says much about that.
Our former analysis was based on the literary aspects of Isa 30:18-26. Now the philological-exegetical side of these verses will be taken into consideration. This will lead us to take a look on the different witnesses of some codices.
1. God's Merciful Justice (vv. 18-19)
? V. 18: The text starts with "laken" which means "according to such conditions", "that being so", "therefore". It often introduces a divine declaration pronounced by the prophet. Its importance in this verse is seen through the fact that it is repeated twice. Before the "laken" we have a "waw" which can be considered as a concessive "waw". In this case, the "welaken" is saying that notwithstanding the iniquity and the infidelity of these rebellious children the Lord remains faithful to his covenant, to his love (cf. Isa 5:7; 54:8). We can also give an adversative sense to "waw", which will give us as a result: "but" or "on the contrary". This sense fits in with the prophet's idea that judgment is not the last word for Jerusalem but salvation.
"Yehakeh" (is waiting) at Piel form is a frequentative or iterative action, which is carried forward in order to achieve a definite goal. We can therefore translate it with "longs". Such a thought is made clear when we consider that in this verse the verb is used in such a way that it forms an inclusio and in two different forms: Piel when referred to YHWH and the Qal when referred to man. "Yehakeh" is parallel to "yarum" (rises) and the objects (or the aims) of the two verbs are "lehananken" (be gracious to you, to show you favour) and "lehemkem" (to have mercy on you, to pity you). YHWH is a gracious and merciful God as he introduced himself at Sinai (cf. Exod 34:6). This verse shows the importance of "raham" and "hanan" (cf. Exod 33:19; 2 Kgs 13:23; Isa 27:11 though in a negative sense; Ps 86:15; 102:14; 103:8; 111:4; 112:4; 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; 2 Chr 30:9; Neh 9:17,31). This numerous citation shows that the conviction of God's graciousness is deeply rooted in the people's heart.
"Ki" (for, because) is a subordinating causal conjunction. It gives the motivation of the previous sentences. When we consider the religious situation of the nation, it simply means that if God is just he only has to punish and not to have pity. God's justice is divine and not human. He doesn't wait for the sinner to repent before he grants his grace neither does he wait for the other part to ask for his mercy before he gives it. He is merciful by nature. This is the strange but upright justice of God who pardons.
"Ashrei" (blessed) is a noun that normally goes before a participle or a relative clause. Here it indicates the state of those who wait for God's merciful justice. A similar phrase is found in Ps 2:11 and the formula seems to be liturgical (cf. Ps 1:1; 32:1-2; 33:12; 40:5 etc.; Isa 56:2). The trustful hope of man has to correspond to God's longing patience. The people's patience depends on their being sure that YHWH will certainly be gracious and merciful to them.
? V. 19: This "ki" is a continuation of the v. 18's "ki" and it helps us to understand the justice of God. Some translators treat "ki" as redundant or emphatic and the rest of the sentence as a vocative. Anyway, it seems that the massoretic division with 'atnah is unfavourable to such a translation. Jerusalem has to be seen as an apposition to ...
This solution intends to give a thorough and careful exegetical and theological analysis of Isa 30:18-26. At the same time it gives the student an idea of how to tackle difficulties concerning the analysis of biblical texts. The analysis is based on Hebrew text. We will find the keynote of the text and see how it fits in with the whole passage. Verses 18-21 will be meticulously analyzed and verses 22-26a only mentioned. In verse 22 we have the human responses to the goodness of God and in verses 23-26a we have the cosmological effects of God's intervention. Ultimately, you have the end notes with the bibliography of the books cited.
Due to font problem, the Hebrew letters will be transliterated and numbers referring to the end-notes are found in square brackets. Moreover, in the attachment you will find the fully written form of the abbreviations used.