A.E. Gardner, «Isaiah 65, 20: Centenarians or Millenarians?», Vol. 86 (2005) 88-96
Isa 65,20 which forms part of the future blessings of God’s
servants, subsequent to the inauguration of the new heavens and new earth, is
contentious theologically and linguistically. The present paper investigates why
sinners persist in the future glorious age, concluding that human nature does
not change with the appearance of the new heavens and new earth. Rather the
latter indicate that no longer will the righteous suffer, nor will the land be
devastated, because of the deeds of the unrighteous. Further it is noted that
the usual translation of Isa 65,20 appears not to accord with Isa 65,22. It is
argued that the LXX version is to be rejected as a later rationalisation.
should be taken as the dividing point of the verse and
llq recognised as an
allusion to Job 24,18.
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Isaiah 65, 20: Centenarians or Millenarians? 91
The incense you burned in the cities of Judah and in the streets of
you and your fathers and the people of the land,
did not Yahweh remember them (rkz)
and did it not come into his mind (wblAl[ hl[t)?
(22) so that Yahweh could not stand it, because of the evil of your
and because of the abominations you committed;
therefore your land has become a desolation, an astonishment, a curse,
without inhabitant, as it is this day.
It is apparent in this Jeremiah passage that the land was devastated
because God remembered the sins of the people. A similar assertion occurs in
Deut 29, 23 where the curse which falls upon those who break the Mosaic
covenant (cf Deut 29, 20-21&27) affects the land so that it becomes like
Sodom and Gemorrah. Applied to Isa 65,17 this intimates that in the time of
the new heavens and new earth God will not remember past sins so the land
will not be devastated.
Isa 65,16 further amplifies the relationship between the people (Godâ€™s
servants) and the land:
he will call his servants by another name
(16) so that he who blesses himself by the earth
blesses himself by the God of â€™amen
and he who swears ([BvNh) by the earth
swears ([bVy) by the God of â€™amen
because the former troubles are forgotten
and because they are hidden from my eyes.
The description of God as the God of â€™amen (Ë†ma) (16) recalls Biblical
passages where Ë†ma appears. It is not used elsewhere as a descriptor of God,
rather as a response to statements made â€” an affirmation of their acceptance.
Such statements fall into two categories:
1) a promise of obedience with curses invoked on those who break their
promise (Deut 27, 15-16 cf Jer 11,4-5)
2) affirmations of Godâ€™s singular and everlasting nature (cf Ps 41,14
repeated in 1 Chron 16,36; Ps 72,9; 89,33; 106,48.
The word â€™amen (Ë†ma) recalls Godâ€™s eternal nature and the rewards for
those who live in accordance with his will. This links with the allusions to
Deuteronomic passages found in Isa 65,18-25. It should be noted that in Isa
65,16 it is Godâ€™s servants who bless themselves in the God of â€™amen.
The notion of swearing by the land was also found to derive from
Deuteronomy where â‰ˆra and [bv occur together frequently:
1) the land was promised (sworn) to Abraham and his seed (1,8; 6,10.23;
7,13; 8,1; 10,11; 28,11; 30,20; 34,40)
(16) The LXX substituted tma for â€˜amen (Ë†ma). However the Ë†ma of the MT is supported
by the DSS.