Isaiah – Chapter 59

Snake Eggs

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Isaiah tells us that G-d’s “hand” is not incapable of saving us, nor is His “ear” incapable of hearing us. It is our sins that keep Him from doing so! The people’s hands are full of sin and their mouths speak falsehoods. Prayers are insincere, court judgments are biased and injustices multiply. Isaiah likens things to poisonous vipers’ eggs – if you eat one, it’s poison. If it hatches, it’s a viper. No good can possibly come of this. Isaiah also compares the people’s deeds to spider webs – wholly ineffective for making a protective cover.

The people run to do evil; all they think about is doing bad things. They have ingrained evil in themselves so deeply, they wouldn’t know justice if it jumped up and bit them. (That last metaphor was my choice of words, not Isaiah’s.) They hope for light, but they walk in darkness. They have to feel their way, as if they were blind. They cry out likes a bear’s growl and a dove’s wail, but there is no reply; the people’s sins testify against them and they know it.

The people have rebelled against G-d, acting as if He wasn’t there. They are so steeped in oppression and falsehood that truth and righteousness keep their distance. Things have gotten so bad that people assume an honest person must be insane! Naturally, G-d is not pleased by this situation. There’s no righteous person to stand up. Since the people were not worthy of being saved, G-d had to save them for Himself, rather than for them.

G-d metaphorically “put on” his armor of righteousness and salvation, along with garments of vengeance to those who oppose Him. He repays them according to their deeds. East and west, they will fear the Name of G-d and honor His glory. A savior (Moshiach – the Messiah) will come to Israel and to those who repent of their sins. (Remember how we had the closing phrase of the prayer “U’va L’Tziyon” in chapter 42? Well, this verse is the opening line of that prayer.) G-d’s covenant with the Jewish people is that the Torah will not be forgotten from them or their descendants, forever.

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