Isaiah 35:1-10

Isaiah 35:1-10
Third Sunday of Advent A


The wildernessI and the dry landII shall be glad;III

Notes on verse 1a

I “wilderness” = midbar. From dabar (to speak, command, declare). This is mouth or speech. It can also be desert or wilderness. Additionally, it can be used for a pasture to which one drives cattle.
II “dry land” = tsiyyah. 16x in OT. This is dryness or parched. So, it can also mean drought or dry places. By extension, it can mean a solitary place or a wilderness.
III “glad” = sus. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to be bright or cheerful.

    the desertIV shall rejoiceV and blossom;VI

Notes on verse 1b

IV “desert” = arabah. From the same as arab (desert plateau, Arabia) OR from arab (to become evening); {from ereb (evening) or from arab (to exchange, give or take on pledge, braid, intermix)}. This is a desert valley or plain, wilderness. Also, the name of a place Arabah.
V “rejoice” = gil. Properly, this is twirling around because of a strong feeling whether of rejoicing or from fear. This can be rejoice, be glad or joyful, or to cry.
VI “blossom” = parach. This is to sprout, blossom, bloom, spread, flourish.

like the crocusVII it shall blossom abundantlyVIII
    and rejoice with joyIX and shouting.X

Notes on verses 1c-2a

VII “crocus” = chabatstseleth. 2x in NT – here and in Song of Songs 2:1 “I am a rose of Sharon.” This is a crocus or saffron.
VIII “blossom abundantly” = parach + parach. Same as “blossom” in v1. See note VI above. The word is repeated twice – the first time as an Infinitive Absolute. The Infinitive Absolute serves to emphasize the sentiment of the word. It is rather like Foghorn Leghorn’s speech pattern, “I said, I said.”
IX “joy” = gilah. Related to “rejoice” v1. 2x in OT. From gil (see note V above). This is rejoicing or joy.
X “shouting” = ranan. This is a cry of joy or a joyful song. Properly, it is emitting a shrill sound, especially one of joy.

The gloryXI of LebanonXII shall be givenXIII to it,

Notes on verse 2b

XI “glory” = kabod. From kabad (to be heavy, weighty, burdensome). This is weighty. Figuratively, glorious, abundant, riches, honor, splendor – a reference to one’s reputation or character. This word is often used to describe God and God’s presence.
XII “Lebanon” = Lebanon. From laben (to be white, make white, make bricks) OR form Aramaic lebab (heart); corresponding to Hebrew lebab or leb (heart, courage, one’s inner self, the mind, or the will). This is Lebanon. The sense of “white” comes from the snow on the top of its mountains. See
XIII “given” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.

    the majestyXIV of CarmelXV and Sharon.XVI

Notes on verse 2c

XIV “majesty” = hadar. From hadar (to honor or adorn; majestic, respected, glorious; to favor or honor; to be proud). This is ornament, splendor, beauty, dignity, majesty, magnificence, and glory.
XV “Carmel” = Karmel. From the same as kerem (vimineyard, garden, vines, or a vintage). This is Carmel, a city whose name means “fruitful plentiful field” or “plantation” or “orchard” or “garden.” See
XVI “Sharon” = Sharon. 7x in OT. From yashar (to be straight, right, even, smooth, or agreeable; figuratively, to make something pleasant or prosperous). This is Sharon or Lasharon. It means “great plain” or “body armor.” See

They shall seeXVII the glory of the Lord,XVIII
    the majesty of our God.XIX
StrengthenXX the weakXXI handsXXII

Notes on verses 2d-3a

XVII “see” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
XVIII “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
XIX “God” = Elohim.
XX “strengthen” = chazaq. This is to strengthen, seize, be courageous, repair, bind, heal, conquer, harden.
XXI “weak” = rapheh. 4x in OT. From raphah (sink, relax, feeble, wait; it can be literal or figurative). This is weak or discouraged. It can be a physical or mental reference. It could also be Raphah, a name meaning “healed,” “sunken,” or “powerless one.” See
XXII “hands” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.

    and make firmXXIII the feebleXXIV knees.XXV

Notes on verse 3b

XXIII “make firm” = amets. This is to be strong, stout, alert, or bold, It can also mean harden, make firm, be courageous or mighty, fortify, or establish. It can refer to physical alertness or mental courage or steadfastness.
XXIV “feeble” = kashal. This is to stumble, fail, be weak or decayed, be overthrown, to totter. It can refer to weak legs or ankles so it is falter, faint, or fall.
XXV “knees” = berek. From barak (to kneel, bless; blessing God as part of worship and adoration; blessing humans to help them; can be used as a euphemism to say curse God). This is the knee.

Say to those who are of a fearful heart,XXVI
    “Be strong,XXVII do not fear!XXVIII
HereXXIX is your God.

Notes on verse 4a

XXVI “are of a fearful heart” = mahar + leb. Mahar is being liquid, which implies flowing. So, this word implies hurrying forward, whether in a positive or negative sense. Leb is related to “Lebanon” in v2. See note XII above.
XXVII “be strong” = chazaq. Same as “strengthen” in v3. See note XX above.
XXVIII “fear” = yare. This is to fear, be afraid, dreadful. It can also refer to fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect.
XXIX “here” = hinneh. From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!

    He will comeXXX with vengeance,XXXI
with terrible recompense.XXXII
    HeXXXIII will come and saveXXXIV you.”

Notes on verse 4b

XXX “come” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
XXXI “vengeance” = naqam. 17x in OT. From naqam (to avenge, punish, have a grudge, execute). This can be a quarrel or vengeance.
XXXII “recompense” = gemul. 19x in OT. From gamal (how one deals with someone whether positively or negatively – so to reward, requite; to wean or the work that goes into something ripening). This is benefit, deed, recompense. It is some treatment that is deserved or earned, whether positive or negative. It can be reward or requital.
XXXIII {untranslated} = Elohim. Same as “God” in v2. See note XIX above.
XXXIV “save” = yasha. To deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue, be safe. Properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. Used causatively, it means to free.

Then the eyesXXXV of the blindXXXVI shall be opened,XXXVII
    and the earsXXXVIII of the deafXXXIX shall be opened;XL

Notes on verse 5

XXXV “eyes” = ayin. This is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).
XXXVI “blind” = ivver. From avar (to blind, put out). This is blindness or someone who is blind. It can be used literally or figuratively.
XXXVII “opened” = paqach. This is open, as opening one’s senses, particularly eyes. So, figuratively this can refer to being watchful.
XXXVIII “ears” = ozen. This is ear, hearing, audience, show. Properly, it is broadness – applied to its ear in reference to its shape.
XXXIX “deaf” = cheresh. 9x in OT. From charash (to scratch, which implies etching or plowing; to manufacture regardless of materials used; figuratively, to devise or conceal; secrecy – hence, being silent, left alone, or speechless). This is deaf or a someone who is deaf in a literal or figurative sense.
XL “opened” = pathach. This is to open wide in a literal or figurative sense. So, it is open, draw out, let something go free, break forth. It can also mean to plow, engrave, or carve.

then the lameXLI shall leapXLII like a deer,XLIII

Notes on verse 6a

XLI “lame” = pisseach. 13x in OT. From pasach (to limp, hesitate). This is lameness or someone who is lame.
XLII “leap” = dalag. 5x in OT. This is to leap or spring over, to climb.
XLIII “deer” = ayyal. 11x in OT. From the same as ulam (porch, hall); from the same as ul (mighty, strength, body, belly; root may mean to twist and that implies strength and power); from alam (to bind or tie fast; to be silent or speechless, whether voluntary or involuntary) or from ayil (strength; things that are strong or powerful: political chiefs, rams, posts, trees, oaks). This is deer, hart. It can symbolize leaping, looking for pasture or sustenance. It can also be used to refer to princes.

    and the tongueXLIV of the speechlessXLV sing for joy.XLVI
For watersXLVII shall break forthXLVIII in the wilderness
    and streamsXLIX in the desert;

Notes on verse 6b

XLIV “tongue” = lashon. This is tongue, talker, language, or wedge. It can also be a tongue of flame or a water cove.
XLV “speechless” = illem. 6x in OT. From the same as alam (to bind or tie fast; to be silent or speechless, whether voluntary or involuntary). This is mute or speechless.
XLVI “sing for joy” = ranan. Same as “shouting” in v2. See note X above.
XLVII “waters” = mayim. This is water, waters, or waterway in a general sense. Figuratively, it can also mean juice, urine, or semen.
XLVIII “break forth” = baqa. This is to break open, breach, divide, rip, shake, tear. It can also mean dash into pieces or being ready to burst.
XLIX “streams” = nachal. From nachal (to take as heritage, inherit, or distribute). This is a river or stream. It could be a wadi or arroyo – sometimes a narrow valley with no water at all, but in strong rains or when winter snow melts, it swells or floods with water.

the burning sandL shall becomeLI a poolLII
    and the thirsty groundLIII springsLIV of water;

Notes on verse 7a

L “burning sand” = sharab. 2x in OT – both in Isaiah. May come from a word that means to glare. This refers to an intense heat as when the air seems to be wavy. So, it could be scorched land or burning sand.
LI “become” = hayah. Related to “Lord” in v2. See note XVIII above.
LII “pool” = agam. 9x in OT. This is a marsh, pool, pond, or swamp. Its root may refer to an area that holds standing water. It can also refer to reeds as grow in marshes.
LIII “thirsty ground” = tsimmaon. 3x in OT. From tsame (to thirst in a literal or figurative sense). This is a place that is thirsty. So, it could refer to a drought or desert.
LIV “springs” = mabbua. 3x in OT. From naba (to spring up, flow, gush, or spout; to belch as in emitting a bad smell; figuratively, to speak, whether positively or negatively). This is a spring or well.

the hauntLV of jackalsLVI shall become a swamp;LVII

Notes on verse 7b

LV “haunt” = naveh. From navah (home, beautify, praise) This is home, place where shepherd or sheep live. It is at home – implies a lovely place or a place of satisfaction. It can also be used for the Temple or a pasture as the home of wild animals.
LVI “jackals” = tannin. From the same as tan (jackal, dragon, whale). It may stem from a root meaning elongate. It is some kind of monster of land or sea like a jackal or a sea serpent.
LVII “swamp” = rebets. 4x in OT. From rabats (crouched like an animal, lie down, lie stretch out, rest, sit, brood, lurk). This is somewhere that you lie down. So, it’s somewhere for resting or living.

    the grassLVIII shall become reedsLIX and rushes.LX

Notes on verse 7c

LVIII “grass” = chatsir. Perhaps from the same as chatsir (village, settlement); from chatser (enclosure or court – a yard that is fenced in. It could also be a village or hamlet that is walled in); from chatsar (to blow a trumpet, trumpeter, to surround); from chatsotsrah (trumpet). This is grass, plant, hay, leeks.
LIX “reeds” = qaneh. Perhaps from qanah (to get, buy, redeem, create, possess). This is reed, branch, stalk, beam, or measuring rod.
LX “rushes” = gome. 4x in OT. From gama (to drink or absorb, literally or figuratively). This is something that is absorbent, i.e. a reed or rush. It can also be used for papyrus or wicker.

A highwayLXI shall beLXII there,
    andLXIII it shall be calledLXIV the HolyLXV Way;LXVI

Notes on verse 8a

LXI “highway” = maslul. 1x in OT. From salal (to lift up, build, pile, extol, exalt; can also be used for opposing as a dam holds back water). This is a highway.
LXII “be” = hayah. Same as “become” in v7. See note LI above.
LXIII {untranslated} = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.
LXIV “called” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
LXV “Holy” = qodesh. This is set apart and so sacred. God is different from us and so God is holy/set apart. Things we dedicate to God’s service are set apart for God and so they, too, are holy, etc.
LXVI “Way” = derek. Same as {untranslated} in v8. See note LXIII above.

the uncleanLXVII shall not travelLXVIII on it,
    but it shall be for God’s people;
    no traveler,LXIX not even fools,LXX shall go astray.LXXI

Notes on verse 8b

LXVII “unclean” = tame. From tame (to defile, be unclean, pollute in a ritual or ethical sense). This is unclean, ill, or ritually impure.
LXVIII “travel” = abar. This is to pass over or cross over. It is used for transitions, whether literal or figurative. It can also mean to escape, alienate, or fail. This is the root verb from which “Hebrew” is drawn.
LXIX “traveler” = halak + derek. Halak is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc. Derek is the same as {untranslated} in v8. See note LXIII above.
LXX “fools” = evil. Root may be to be preserve. This is a fool or, figuratively, silly.
LXXI “go astray” = taah. This is to wander, deceive, seduce, vacillate. It is to stray in a literal or figurative sense.

No lionLXXII shall be there,
    norLXXIII shall any ravenousLXXIV beastLXXV come up onLXXVI it;

Notes on verse 9a

LXXII “lion” = ari. From arah (to gather or pluck). This is a young lion.
LXXIII “nor” = bal. From balah (to grow old, wear out, consume, waste, enjoy, fail, decay). This is not, lest, neither. Properly, it refers to a failure, so it implies nothing or not at all.
LXXIV “ravenous” = parits. 6x in OT. From parats (to make a breach, burst out, compel, disperse; to break out literally or figuratively). This is violent, vicious or one who is violent like a robber, tyrant, or destroyer.
LXXV “beast” = chay. From chayah (to live or keep alive literally or figuratively). This is alive, living, lifetime. It can also be used to describe someone’s age. It can refer to animals, plants, water, or a company or congregation of people. It is life in a very broad sense.
LXXVI “come up on” = alah. This is to go up, approach, ascend, be high, be a priority; to arise in a literal or figurative sense.

they shall not be foundLXXVII there,
    but the redeemedLXVIII shall walkLXXIX there.
10 And the ransomedLXXX of the Lord shall returnLXXXI

Notes on verses 9b-10a

LXXVII “found” = matsa. This is to find, catch or acquire. It can also mean to come forth or appear. Figuratively, this can mean to meet or be together with.
LXXVIII “redeemed” = gaal. This is to redeem someone or something according to kinship laws. So, it could be acting on a relative’s behalf to buy back their property, to marry one’s brother’s widow, etc. This could be more briefly translated as to redeem, acts as kinsman, or purchase. As a noun, it could be deliverer or avenger.
LXXIX “walk” = halak. Same as “traveler” in v8. See note LXIX above.
LXXX “ransomed” = padah. This is to sever, which is to say to ransom. To secure someone’s release (by paying their debt to free them from slavery) and thus redeem, rescue, deliver, preserve. Can also be the redemption price.
LXXXI “return” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”

    and come to ZionLXXXII with singing;LXXXIII
everlastingLXXXIV joyLXXXV shall be upon their heads;LXXXVI

Notes on verse 10b

LXXXII “Zion” = tsiyyon. Related to “dry land” in v1. Related to tsyiyyun (signpost, monument); from tsavah (to charge someone, to command, order); from the same as tsiyyah (see note II above); from a root meaning parched as desert, dry land. Zion can refer to a mountain in Jerusalem as well as another name for Jerusalem itself or the people.
LXXXIII “singing” = rinnah. Related to “singing” in v2. From ranan (see note X above). This is a song, shout, cry of joy, or proclamation. It could also be a shout of grief.
LXXXIV “everlasting” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
LXXXV “joy” = simchah. From samach (to rejoice, be glad; properly, to brighten up; also used figuratively). This is joy, rejoicing, pleasure, or glee.
LXXXVI “heads” = rosh. This may come a word that means to shake. It is the head, captain, or chief. It can also be excellent or the forefront. It can be first in position or in statue or in time (i.e. the beginning).

    they shall obtainLXXXVII joyLXXXVIII and gladness,LXXXIX
    and sorrowXC and sighingXCI shall flee away.XCII

Notes on verse 10c

LXXXVII “obtain” = nasag. This is to reach in a literal or figurative sense. It is to overtake, catch, or be able to.
LXXXVIII “joy” = sason. Related to “glad” in v1. From sus (see note III above). This is rejoicing, cheerfulness, and welcome.
LXXXIX “gladness” = simchah. Same as “joy” in v10. See note LXXXV above.
XC “sorrow” = yagon. 14x in OT. From yagah (to suffer, grieve, afflict). This is grief or sorrow.
XCI “sighing” = anachah. 11x in OT. From anach (to sigh, groan, or mourn). This is sighing or groaning.
XCII “flee away” = nus. This is to flee, vanish away, hide, escape, be displayed.

Image credit: “Naot Farm in the Negev, Israel.” Photo by Avishai Teicher, 2011.

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