Haftarah for Eikev

Isaiah 49:14-51:3

The land weeps that G-d has “forgotten” her, but that would be like a mother just forgetting her baby. And even though there may be such neglectful mothers, G-d still won’t overlook the land. It’s as if the land of Israel were engraved on G-d’s “hands” – that’s how unforgettable the land is to Him. The exiles are anxious to return. The wicked who cause the exile will depart. Look up and see the exiles returning; they are like a bride’s jewelry to the land. Those places that had been destroyed and emptied will be crowded with residents. The inhabitants for who the land cried will tell each other “Move over and gimme room!” When the land sees Jerusalem so overflowing with activity, she will ask where they all came from, seeing how she was all alone for so long. G-d will reply that He will raise His hand to the nations, signaling the return; the nations will assist with the return, affording Israel great honor in the process. Kings and queens will be like nurses and nannies to you. They will bow down and you will know that it is G-d Who has caused this.

G-d says that He can take captives from the mightiest rulers and He will rescue us. Those who oppress Israel will be so distressed that they will become physically ill. Everyone will know that it is G-d Who has saved Israel.

Chapter 50

G-d says that, despite their sins, He has not “divorced” the Jewish people. (This seems to contradict Jeremiah 3:8, which says that He did. However, Jeremiah was prophesying to the Ten Tribes of the Northern Kingdom – the now “lost” Tribes – while Isaiah was speaking to the kingdom of Judah.) Why does G-d call for us to return, but no one answers? Is the exile so long that you think He is unable to save you? Whenever He wishes, G-d could dry up the sea, as He did the Red Sea when the Jews left Egypt, or stop a river from flowing, as He did the Jordan when the Jews entered Israel. He dresses the Heavens with darkness and covers them with sackcloth.

G-d gave Isaiah the ability to teach the weary the word of G-d. G-d rouses Isaiah every day, energizing him to hear His teachings. G-d appointed Isaiah His prophet and Isaiah accepted the job without any hesitation, unlike many other prophets. He did his appointed task, despite the insults and abuse his detractors would heap upon him. G-d gave him the strength to carry on with his task.

Soon, Isaiah says, he will be vindicated – let those who wish to debate him step forward! G-d will help him and his opponents will wear out like moth-eaten clothes. Who fears G-d and heeds the words of His prophets in darkness? Let such a person rely on G-d! But those who do not listen ignite the fire of G-d’s anger and are thereby burned accordingly. This is payback and these people will have no strength before their enemies.

Chapter 51

Isaiah tells the righteous to listen to him: Look at the rock from which you were cut and the hole from which you were dug – referring to Abraham and Sarah. Abraham was a lone person when G-d called him and G-d blessed him to become multitudes. G-d will console Israel, turning wasteland into gardens. Rejoicing will be found in the land. Words of Torah will shine forth and G-d’s judgment will be a light to nations; they will have rest from war.

Excerpted from The OU’s Nach Yomi