Isaiah 64:1-4, 8-11
A “spirit” = ruach. This is breath, wind, air, cool, spirit. This is wind, which resembles the breath and so this can be used figuratively for life itself or being frail/mortal/impermanent. It can refer to the air of the sky or the spirit.
B “Lord” = Adonai. From adon (lord, master, owner); root means to rule or be sovereign. This is the actual Hebrew word for Lord used (in a different form) of humans and (in the present form) of God. It means someone who is in control.
C “God” = 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.
D “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “God” in v1. See note C above.
E “anointed” = mashach. This is smear, paint, spread, or paint. It can also be to rub with oil or, otherwise stated, to anoint. This implies a consecration. This root verb is where the word “messiah” comes from.
F “sent” = shalach. This is to send out, away, send for, forsake. It can also mean to divorce or set a slave free.
G “bring good news” = basar. This is being a messenger, to publish, carry, or preach. Properly, this is being fresh, rosy or cheerful as one bearing news.
H “oppressed” = anav. From anah (to be bowed down; can refer to a sense of humility or to a sense of being browbeaten, oppressed, afflicted, or depressed; literal or figurative – depressed in mood or circumstance). This is poor, needy, afflicted as well as humble or meek.
I “bind up” = chabash. This is to wrap tightly or bind, to bandage, or heal. It can be to saddle an animal or wrap a turban. Figuratively, it can mean to stop or to govern.
J “brokenhearted” = shabar + leb. Shabar is to break, collapse, destroy, break in pieces, tear. It is bursting in a literal or figurative sense. Leb may be related to labab (to encourage; properly, to be encased as with fat; used in a good sense, this means to transport someone with love; used in a bad sense, it can mean to dull one’s senses). This is the heart, courage, one’s inner self, the mind, or the will. Heart is only used in a figurative sense in the Old and New Testaments.
K “proclaim” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
L “liberty” = deror. 8x in OT. This is flowing quickly – hence flowing free, release, and liberty. It can also mean pure or clear.
M “captives” = shabah. This is to carry away into captivity, bring away, capture, lead away.
N “release” = peqach–qoach. 1x in OT. From paqach (to open eyes). This is an opening like being delivered from a dungeon or jail. It can also be freedom or figuratively salvation as from sin.
O “prisoners” = asar. This is to tie, yoke, bind, or fasten. It can mean to harness an animal, to join in fighting a battle, or to imprison someone.
P “favor” = ratson. From ratsah (to be pleased with, delight, take pleasure in, or accept with favor; to approve or consent regarding something; can be used specifically of satisfying debts or being pardoned). This is delight shown in favor, good will, something that is accepted or acceptable.
Q “vengeance” = naqam. 17x in OT. From naqam (to avenge, punish, have a grudge, execute). This can be a quarrel or vengeance.
R “God” = Elohim.
S “comfort” = nacham. Properly, this is a strong breath or a sigh. This can be to be sorry, to pity, console. Comfort, or repent. But, one can also comfort oneself with less righteous thoughts, so this can also mean to avenge oneself.
T “mourn” = abel. 8x in OT. From abal (to mourn, bewail). This is mourning or a mourner.
U “provide” = sim. This is to put or place in a literal or figurative sense. It can be appoint, care, change, make, and may other things.
V “Zion” = tsiyyon. The word is related to tsyiyyun (signpost, monument); from tsavah (to charge someone, to command, order); from the same as tsiyyah (dryness drought); 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.
W “garland” = p’er. 7x in OT. From paar (to beautify or adorn, to gleam; can refer to showing honor or glorifying someone; also to boast or to shake a tree for harvest). This is beauty or embellishment. It is used of priestly headdresses, garlands, ornaments, and turbans.
X “ashes” = epher. Root may mean to strew. This is ashes or dust.
Y “oil” = shemen. From shamen (to shine, which implies being oily, growing fat). This is fat, oil, grease, olive oil – often with perfume. Used figuratively for fertile, lavish, rich.
Z “gladness” = sason. From sus (to rejoice, be glad; properly, to be bright or cheerful). This is rejoicing, cheerfulness, and welcome.
AA “mourning” = ebel. Related to “who mourn” in v2. From abal (see note T above). This is mourning or lamentation.
BB “mantle” = maateh. 1x in OT. From atah (to enwrap, cover, roll or to wear). This is a mantle, wrap, or other garment.
CC “praise” = tehillah. From halal (to praise, be boastful). This is praise or a song of praise. It is to offer God a hymn, to boast in God. This shares a root with “hallelujah.”
DD “faint” = keheh. 9x in OT. From kahah (to darken, grow faint, fail, be weak, have one’s eye dim or become dull). This is dark, faded, feeble, dim, smoking, or obscure. It can also mean abated.
EE “called” = qara. Same as “proclaim” in v1. See note K above.
FF “oaks” = ayil. From the same as ul (mighty, strength, body, belly; root may mean to twist and that implies strength and power). This is strength so it is used to indicate things that are strong or powerful: political chiefs, rams, posts, trees, oaks.
GG “righteousness” = tsedeq. This is rightness, righteousness, vindication. It is everything that is just or ethical. That which is right in a natural, moral, or legal sense. It also includes just weights (i.e. true weights). Figuratively, this is justice, righteousness, equity – even prosperity.
HH “planting” = matta. 6x in OT. From nata (to fix or fasten, establish or plant; planting in a literal or figurative sense). This is the act or location of planting or the thing planted. It can be a garden or vineyard. It can also refer to people.
II “display his glory” = paar. Related to “garland” in v3 See note W above.
JJ “build up” = banah. This is to build, make, set up, restore, repair, or obtain children. It is to build literally or figuratively.
KK “ancient” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
LL “ruins” = chorbah. From chareb (to be waste or desolate, destroyer). This is ruin, desert, waste place. Properly, it is a drought, which implies a desolated or decayed place.
MM “raise up” = qum. To arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide. This is rising as in rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action. It can also be standing in a figurative sense.
NN “former” = rishon. From rishah (beginning or early time); from rosh (head, captain, or chief; excellent or the forefront; first in position or in statue or in time). This is first, former, ancestor, beginning, ranked first.
OO “devastations” = shamem. 10x in OT. From shamen (to shine, which implies being oily, growing fat). This is fat, plenteous, rich, greasy, roust, lusty. It refers to rich food, fertile land, and strong people.
PP “repair” = chadash. 10x in OT. This is to renew or restore, to repair or rebuild.
QQ “ruined” = choreb. Related to “ruins” in v4. 16x in OT. See note LL above.
RR “cities” = iyr. From uwr (to awaken or wake oneself up). This can mean excitement in the sense of wakefulness or city. Properly, this is a place that is guarded. Guards kept schedules according to watches. This sense of the word would include cities as well as encampments or posts that were guarded.
SS “many generations” = dor + dor. From dur (to move in a circle, which implies living somewhere or remaining there; it can also be the sense of piling or heaping up). This is a revolution of time, which is to say, an age or generation. It can also be a dwelling or one’s posterity.
TT “justice” = mishpat. From shaphat (to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, govern). This is a verdict or formal sentence whether from humans or from God. It includes the act of judging as well as the place that judging takes place, the suit itself, and the penalty. Abstractly, this is justice, which includes the rights of the participants.
UU “hate” = sane. This is an enemy or foe. It is one that is hated with a personal hatred.
VV “robbery” = gazel. 4x in OT. From gazal (to snatch, take violently, seize, tear away; to flay or rob). This is robbery, plunder – taking something by violence.
WW “wrongdoing” = olah. From alah (to go up, climb, approach, bring; to be high or actively climb; can be literal or figurative). This is a step, stairs, or some kind of ascent. It is also used for whole burnt offerings, being the offering in which the whole thing is burned and rises as smoke. Burnt offerings were the least common of the offerings: most were eaten, shared with the priest and the one bringing the offering.
XX “faithfully” = emet. From aman (to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful, put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid). This is firmness or stability. Figuratively, it is faithfulness, truth, or trustworthiness. This is the same root that “amen” comes from.
YY “recompense” = peullah. 14x in OT. From paal (to do, make, work, or accomplish; generally refers to regularly repeated or systematic action – to practice). This is work, deed, reward, or wages.
ZZ “make” = karat. This is to cut down, cut off, or make a covenant (idiom for making a covenant is “to cut a covenant”). It can also mean to destroy, fail, or consume.
AAA “everlasting” = olam. Same as “ancient” in v4. See note KK above.
BBB “covenant” = berit. Perhaps from barah (to eat, choose, make clear); perhaps from bar (grain, wheat); from bara (to select, purify, cleanse, test, brighten, polish). This is a compact, covenant, alliance, treaty, or league.
CCC “descendants” = zera. From zara (to sow or scatter seed; conceive or yield). This is seed or sowing. It can, thus, mean a fruit, plant, sowing time, child, offspring, or posterity.
DDD “known” = yada. This is to know, acknowledge, advise, answer, be aware, be acquainted with. Properly, this is to figure something out by seeing. It includes ideas of observation, recognition, and care about something. It can be used causatively for instruction, designation, and punishment.
EEE “nations” = goy. From the same root as gevah (the back, person, or body); related to gev (among); related to gaah (to rise up). This is nation or people. Often used to refer to Gentiles or foreign nations. It can also be used figuratively for a group of animals. This is where the Yiddish “goy” comes from.
FFF “offspring” = tseetsa. 11x in OT. From yatsa (to go or come out, bring forth, appear; to go out in a literal or figurative sense). This is that which comes forth i.e. offspring, children, crops, springs, etc.
GGG “among” = tavek. This is among, middle, in the midst, the center. Perhaps, properly, to sever.
HHH “peoples” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.
III “see” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
JJJ “acknowledge” = nakar. This is to recognize, examine, take notice, show, scrutinize. It is looking at something in a fixed way, showing perhaps respect or reverence. Alternately, it can show gazing with suspicion. Also, it can mean being strange towards someone or something and rejecting or ignoring it.
KKK “people” = zera. Same as “descendants” in v9. See note CCC above.
LLL “blessed” = barak. This is to kneel, to bless. It is blessing God as part of worship and adoration or blessing humans to help them. It can be used as a euphemism to say curse God.
MMM “greatly rejoice” = sus + sus. Related to “gladness” in v3. See note Z 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.”
NNN “whole being” = nephesh. Related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.
OOO “exult” = 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.
PPP “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v2. See note R above.
QQQ “clothed” = labash. This is to wrap around, which implies clothing oneself or someone else. This is wrapping around in a literal or figurative way.
RRR “garments” = beged. From bagad (to cover or conceal; figuratively, to act in a covert or treacherous way, to transgress or pillage). This is clothing, garment, robe, or some other kind of clothing. Figuratively, it can be treachery or pillaging.
SSS “salvation” = yesha. From 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). This is salvation, deliverance, rescue, safety, welfare, liberty.
TTT “covered” = yaat. Perhaps related to “mantel” in v3. 1x in OT. From atah (see note BB above). This is to clothe or cover.
UUU “robe” = meil. From maal (to cover up; figuratively, to act in a covert or treacherous way, to be unfaithful or transgress). This is a robe, mantle, or cloak – an outer garment.
VVV “righteousness” = tsedaqah. Related to “righteousness” in v3. From the same as tsedeq (see note GG above). This is righteousness, justice, righteous acts, and moral virtue.
WWW “bridegroom” = chathan. From chathan (to intermarry, make an alliance through marriage, father-in-law, son-in-law, give one’s daughter in marriage). This is bridegroom, son-in-law. It is someone who is related through marriage. Figuratively, it can be a child who is circumcised.
XXX “decks” = kahan. From kohen (a priest, one who officiates or acts as priest). This is officiating as a priest does over religious service. It can also figuratively mean donning regalia or formal ornamentation/attire.
YYY “bride” = kallah. Perhaps related to kalal (to complete, perfect). This is bride or daughter-in-law and the term is used before and after marriage.
ZZZ “adorns” = adah. 10x in OT. This is to advance or continue. It can also mean to take away or remove. Plus, it has a specific usage as adorning oneself with ornaments.
AAAA “jewels” = keli. From kalah (to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed). This is something that was prepared – any implement, utensil, article, vessel, weapon, or instrument. Also includes jewels, weapons, bags, carriages, and furniture.
BBBB “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
CCCC “brings forth” = yatsa. Related to “offspring” in v9. See note FFF above.
DDDD “shoots” = tsemach. 12x in OT. From tsamach (to sprout, grow – literal or figurative). This is a sprout or growth, literal or figurative.
EEEE “garden” = gannah. 12x in OT. From gan (garden that is fenced in; an enclosure); from ganan (to put a hedge around – generally, protect or defend; to cover or surround). This is a garden or an orchard.
FFFF “what is sown” = zerua. Related to “descendants” in v9. 2x in OT. From zara (see note CCC above). This is something that is sown, which is to say a plant or the act of sowing itself.
GGGG “spring up” = tsamach. Related to “shoots” in v11. See note DDDD above.
HHHH “Lord” = Adonai. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note B above.
IIII “God” = YHVH. Same as “God” in v1. See note C above.
Image credit: “Color and Light” at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.