Haftarah Helper: Final Two Days of Passover

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The final days of Passover commemorate the conclusion of the Israelites’ redemption with Egypt’s defeat at the Red Sea. Their Haftarot relate to two later episodes of God’s redeeming His people: King David from his many enemies, and Isaiah’s prophecy of Assyria’s defeat, the end of the Northern Kingdom’s exile, and the messianic redemption.


Day 7

II Samuel 22:1-51

The Israelites’ Song at the Sea is the Torah reading for Passover’s seventh day; similarly, its Haftarah is King David’s majestic song of salvation. Written in honor of God’s defeat of his enemies[2], David poetically reprises his brushes with death. In these moments, David looked to God for aid and was helped. God reveals Himself to David, descending from heaven to Earth to save him. David declares that God treats people measure for measure and asserts that he acted righteously before Him. Therefore, David praises God for His great justice, His aid, and for strengthening his royal rule. He concludes by expressing confidence in God’s future help.


Haftarah Breakdown

Verses 1-3: Introduction to David’s song to his savior, God.

II Samuel 22:1 שמואל ב כ״ב:א
David spoke to the Lord the words of this song at the time the Lord saved him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. וַיְדַבֵּ֤ר דָּוִד֙ לַֽה’ אֶת־דִּבְרֵ֖י הַשִּׁירָ֣ה הַזֹּ֑את בְּיוֹם֩ הִצִּ֨יל ה’ אֹת֛וֹ מִכַּ֥ף כָּל־אֹיְבָ֖יו וּמִכַּ֥ף שָׁאֽוּל׃


Verses 4-7: David prays to God in his time of distress; God hearkens to him.

II Samuel 22:7 שמואל ב כ״ב:ז
In my distress, I called upon the Lord and cried to my God. He heard my voice [in] His [heavenly] temple; my cry is in His ears. בַּצַּר־לִי֙ אֶקְרָ֣א ה’ וְאֶל־אֱלֹקי אֶקְרָ֑א וַיִּשְׁמַ֤ע מֵהֵֽיכָלוֹ֙ קוֹלִ֔י וְשַׁוְעָתִ֖י בְּאָזְנָֽיו׃


Verses 8-16: Earth trembles as God reveals Himself in the heavens to David; He descends to save him.

II Samuel 22:16 שמואל ב כ״ב:ט״ז
Water channels appeared [and] earth’s foundations were revealed by the Lord’s rebuke, by the blast of His nostrils’ breath. וַיֵּֽרָאוּ֙ אֲפִ֣קֵי יָ֔ם יִגָּל֖וּ מֹסְד֣וֹת תֵּבֵ֑ל בְּגַעֲרַ֣ת ה’ מִנִּשְׁמַ֖ת ר֥וּחַ אַפּֽוֹ׃


Verses 17-20a: God saves David from his enemies.

II Samuel 22:18 שמואל ב כ״ב:י״ח
He delivered me from my strong enemy,  from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me. יַצִּילֵ֕נִי מֵאֹיְבִ֖י עָ֑ז מִשֹּׂ֣נְאַ֔י כִּ֥י אָמְצ֖וּ מִמֶּֽנִּי׃

Verses 20b -32: God treats people measure for measure. Since David acted righteously, God interceded on his behalf, and he trusts Him.

II Samuel 22:21 שמואל ב כ״ב:כ״א
The Lord rewards me according to my righteousness. According to the cleanness of my hands, He recompenses me. יִגְמְלֵ֥נִי ה’ כְּצִדְקָתִ֑י כְּבֹ֥ר יָדַ֖י יָשִׁ֥יב לִֽי׃


Verses 33-43: God strengthened and supported David for victory against all his enemies.

II Samuel 22:40 שמואל ב כ״ב:מ
For You have girded me with the strength to battle: them that rose up against me you have subdued under me. וַתַּזְרֵ֥נִי חַ֖יִל לַמִּלְחָמָ֑ה תַּכְרִ֥יעַ קָמַ֖י תַּחְתֵּֽנִי׃


Verses 44-46: God’s salvation of David has made him ruler of many peoples.

II Samuel 22:44 שמואל ב כ״ב:מ״ד
You delivered me from my people’s strivings. You preserved me to be head of nations: a people whom I knew not shall serve me. וַֽתְּפַלְּטֵ֔נִי מֵרִיבֵ֖י עַמִּ֑י תִּשְׁמְרֵ֙נִי֙ לְרֹ֣אשׁ גּוֹיִ֔ם עַ֥ם לֹא־יָדַ֖עְתִּי יַעַבְדֻֽנִי׃


Verses 47-51: David’s final thanks and praise to God, who supports him and his descendants.

II Samuel 22:51 שמואל ב כ״ב:נ״א
[God] is a tower of salvation for His king, who does kindness for His anointed, for David and his seed forever. מגדיל [מִגְדּ֖וֹל] יְשׁוּע֣וֹת מַלְכּ֑וֹ וְעֹֽשֶׂה־חֶ֧סֶד לִמְשִׁיח֛וֹ לְדָוִ֥ד וּלְזַרְע֖וֹ עַד־עוֹלָֽם׃ (פ)



The Talmud compares God’s redemptive power to His power over nature, specifically the rain.

Taanit 8b תענית ח׳ ב
Rabbi Yoḥanan said: The day of the [first] rains is as great as the day of the ingathering of the exiles, as Scripture states, “Turn our captivity, O Lord, as wadis in the Negev” (Psalms 126:4). “Wadis” refers to rain, as Scripture states, “Water channels [wadis] appeared.” (II Samuel 22:16) אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן גָּדוֹל יוֹם הַגְּשָׁמִים כְּיוֹם קִבּוּץ גָּלִיּוֹת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר שׁוּבָה ה׳ אֶת שְׁבִיתֵנוּ כַּאֲפִיקִים בַּנֶּגֶב וְאֵין אֲפִיקִים אֶלָּא מָטָר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וַיֵּרָאוּ אֲפִקֵי יָם


Day 8

Isaiah 10:32 – 12:6

At one of Judah’s bleakest hours, Isaiah gives one of his greatest prophecies of hope. From without, mighty Assyria had already exiled the Northern Kingdom and was now invading Judah as well. From within, the idolatrous King Ahaz ruled over a corrupt society. Isaiah prophesies a complete reversal of Judah’s desperate situation. Not only will Assyria be defeated, but a new divinely inspired Davidic king[3] will arise to bring about a just society and a peaceful era. God will also return the ten northern tribes from exile in a manner reminiscent of the Exodus, reuniting them with Judah. Together, the united nation will defeat all its enemies. In response to all this, the people will praise and thank God with new songs.

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel recommends reciting this Haftarah, without blessings, on Israel’s Independence Day.


Haftarah Breakdown

Verses 10:32-34: Assyria’s invasion of Judah from the north will halt at Nob, just northwest of Jerusalem. God will cut down its numerous army.

Isaiah 10:32 ישעיהו י:ל״ב
This very day [Assyria’s general] will stand at Nob. He will wave his hand [towards] the mountain of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem. ע֥וֹד הַיּ֖וֹם בְּנֹ֣ב לַֽעֲמֹ֑ד יְנֹפֵ֤ף יָדוֹ֙ הַ֣ר בית־[בַּת־] צִיּ֔וֹן גִּבְעַ֖ת יְרוּשָׁלִָֽם׃ (ס)


Verses 11:1-5: A new era will dawn, when a new Davidic king rules with righteous wisdom and awe of God.

Isaiah 11:4 ישעיהו י״א:ד
With righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth. He shall smite land[s] with his mouth’s rod, and with his lips’ breath shall he slay the wicked. וְשָׁפַ֤ט בְּצֶ֙דֶק֙ דַּלִּ֔ים וְהוֹכִ֥יחַ בְּמִישׁ֖וֹר לְעַנְוֵי־אָ֑רֶץ וְהִֽכָּה־אֶ֙רֶץ֙ בְּשֵׁ֣בֶט פִּ֔יו וּבְר֥וּחַ שְׂפָתָ֖יו יָמִ֥ית רָשָֽׁע׃


Verses 11:6-9: In that future era, peace will reign between animals, and between animals and people.

Isaiah 11:6 ישעיהו י״א:ו
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid- a calf, a young lion and a fatling together; a small child shall lead them. וְגָ֤ר זְאֵב֙ עִם־כֶּ֔בֶשׂ וְנָמֵ֖ר עִם־גְּדִ֣י יִרְבָּ֑ץ וְעֵ֨גֶל וּכְפִ֤יר וּמְרִיא֙ יַחְדָּ֔ו וְנַ֥עַר קָטֹ֖ן נֹהֵ֥ג בָּֽם׃


Verse 11:10: Moreover, all nations will seek out the Davidic king and honor him.

Isaiah 11:10 ישעיהו י״א:י
On that day, Jesse’s root [shall] stand as a banner for [all] peoples. Nations shall seek him, [making] his resting place glorious. וְהָיָה֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא שֹׁ֣רֶשׁ יִשַׁ֗י אֲשֶׁ֤ר עֹמֵד֙ לְנֵ֣ס עַמִּ֔ים אֵלָ֖יו גּוֹיִ֣ם יִדְרֹ֑שׁוּ וְהָיְתָ֥ה מְנֻחָת֖וֹ כָּבֽוֹד׃ (פ)



Verses 11:11-12: God will return His people from all lands of their exile.

Isaiah 11:12 ישעיהו י״א:י״ב
[God] shall raise a banner for the nations and assemble Israel’s outcasts. He shall gather together Judah’s dispersed from earth’s four corners. וְנָשָׂ֥א נֵס֙ לַגּוֹיִ֔ם וְאָסַ֖ף נִדְחֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וּנְפֻצ֤וֹת יְהוּדָה֙ יְקַבֵּ֔ץ מֵאַרְבַּ֖ע כַּנְפ֥וֹת הָאָֽרֶץ׃


Verses 11:13-14: Reunited, the northern and southern kingdoms will defeat their enemies.

Isaiah 11:14 ישעיהו י״א:י״ד
The [reunited kingdoms] shall together fly upon the Philistines to the west. Together they shall plunder the eastern peoples of the east: Edom and Moab shall be subject to them, and the children of Ammon shall obey them. וְעָפ֨וּ בְכָתֵ֤ף פְּלִשְׁתִּים֙ יָ֔מָּה יַחְדָּ֖ו יָבֹ֣זּוּ אֶת־בְּנֵי־קֶ֑דֶם אֱד֤וֹם וּמוֹאָב֙ מִשְׁל֣וֹח יָדָ֔ם וּבְנֵ֥י עַמּ֖וֹן מִשְׁמַעְתָּֽם׃


Verses 11:15-16: God will return His people and punish His enemies with Exodus-like miracles.

Isaiah 11:16 ישעיהו י״א:ט״ז
There shall be a highway for the remainder of His people who remain from Assyria, such as there was for Israel when it went up from the land of Egypt. וְהָיְתָ֣ה מְסִלָּ֔ה לִשְׁאָ֣ר עַמּ֔וֹ אֲשֶׁ֥ר יִשָּׁאֵ֖ר מֵֽאַשּׁ֑וּר כַּאֲשֶׁ֤ר הָֽיְתָה֙ לְיִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בְּי֥וֹם עֲלֹת֖וֹ מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃


Verses 12:1-6: The new songs that Israel will sing after its redemption.

Isaiah 12:2 ישעיהו י״ב:ב
Behold, God is my salvation! I will trust and not fear for the Lord God is my strength and my song; He shall be my salvation. הִנֵּ֨ה קל יְשׁוּעָתִ֛י אֶבְטַ֖ח וְלֹ֣א אֶפְחָ֑ד כִּֽי־עָזִּ֤י וְזִמְרָת֙ קהּ ה’ וַֽיְהִי־לִ֖י לִֽישׁוּעָֽה׃



Isaiah 11:12 (above) is an origin of the idiom “four corners of the earth” and the Amidah’s tenth blessing.

Siddur Ashkenaz, Weekday, Amidah, Gathering the Exiles סידור אשכנז, ימי חול, עמידה, קבוץ גליות
Sound the great shofar for our liberty, raise a banner to gather our exiles, and gather us together from the four corners of the earth. Blessed are You, God, Gatherer of the dispersed of His people Israel. תְּקַע בְּשׁוֹפָר גָּדוֹל לְחֵרוּתֵֽנוּ וְשָׂא נֵס לְקַבֵּץ גָּלֻיּוֹתֵֽינוּ וְקַבְּ֒צֵֽנוּ יַֽחַד מֵאַרְבַּע כַּנְפוֹת הָאָֽרֶץ: בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ מְקַבֵּץ נִדְחֵי עַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל


Maimonides concludes his masterwork, the Mishneh Torah, with words from the Haftarah.

Mishneh Torah, Kings and Wars 12:5 משנה תורה, הלכות מלכים ומלחמות י״ב:ה
In that [Messianic] era, there will be neither famine, war, envy, nor competition, for good will be very pervasive. All delicacies will be as available as dust. The entire world’s activity will only be to know God alone. Therefore, Israel will be great sages who know the sealed matters. They will achieve knowledge of their Creator according to man’s ability as [Scripture] states, “For the Earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9) וּבְאוֹתוֹ הַזְּמַן לֹא יִהְיֶה שָׁם לֹא רָעָב וְלֹא מִלְחָמָה. וְלֹא קִנְאָה וְתַחֲרוּת. שֶׁהַטּוֹבָה תִּהְיֶה מֻשְׁפַּעַת הַרְבֵּה. וְכָל הַמַּעֲדַנִּים מְצוּיִין כֶּעָפָר. וְלֹא יִהְיֶה עֵסֶק כָּל הָעוֹלָם אֶלָּא לָדַעַת אֶת ה’ בִּלְבַד. וּלְפִיכָךְ יִהְיוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל חֲכָמִים גְּדוֹלִים וְיוֹדְעִים דְּבָרִים הַסְּתוּמִים וְיַשִּׂיגוּ דַּעַת בּוֹרְאָם כְּפִי כֹּחַ הָאָדָם. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה יא, ט) “כִּי מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ דֵּעָה אֶת ה’ כַּמַּיִם לַיָּם מְכַסִּים”:


[1] With emendations, all translations are from Sefaria.org.  To dedicate, comment, or subscribe, email zbeer570@gmail.com.

[2] With slight variations, this song is also Psalm 18. Most commentators claim that David wrote this song towards the end of his life, after defeating all his enemies. Abarbanel argues that David wrote it in the midst of his youthly troubles, using it as a prayer to God each time he defeated his enemies; Psalm 18 is David’s final version.

[3] Since only some of these prophecies were fulfilled under Judah’s next king, righteous Hezekiah, tradition assigns them to the messianic era.