Isaiah – Chapter 48

No Peace for the Wicked

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Isaiah speaks to the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin, who are fated to be exiled to Babylonia. They say they rely on G-d, but they are not truthful about it. They are called by the name of Jerusalem, the Holy City, and they express faith in G-d, but deep inside, they have doubts.

G-d foretold earlier events – the redemption from Egypt and the salvation from Assyria in the time of Chizkiyahu – and they happened. But the Jewish people is a stubborn nation. G-d foretold these things so they would know that He did it and not some other power. Just as these past things came true as foretold, so will future events, such as those involving Cyrus. The people have not listened to the words of the Torah and they might think that these events are unfolding naturally.

When G-d saved the Jewish people in Egypt, He knew they would ultimately sin; the capacity for sin is inborn. But G-d puts off His anger for them. He purifies the people in a “furnace of affliction,” through exile and poverty. G-d does this – punishing the Jews rather than destroying them outright – so that His Name will not be profaned. Listen to G-d, for He is the Eternal One.

G-d established the Heavens and Earth, causing them to interact with one another. Because G-d loves the Jewish people, He will carry out His mission in Babylonia, to restore the nation through Cyrus. G-d called Abraham from the east and made him successful. The Torah was not given in secret. Now G-d sends Isaiah as His messenger. G-d teaches us for our own benefit; He leads us the way we should go.

If the Jews would but obey the Torah, their peace would flow as constantly as a river and their merits would be as powerful as the crashing waves. Your descendants would be as plentiful as the sand of the beach and the nation would never be destroyed. (Even though they have sinned, the nation will never be destroyed, although they will be exiled.)

Return from Babylonia, singing in joy that G-d has redeemed His nation. They will not thirst when they return through the desert; G-d will care for their needs as He did when they left Egypt.

G-d says: There is no peace for the wicked, referring to Nebuchadnezzar and his successors.

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