Isaiah 32 Septuagint Modernized NETS
Variations in Septuagint Isaiah 32:1-8 Part Two
Septuagint Isaiah 32:1-8 describes the messianic King and his messianic kingdom followers. The Hebrew scripture loses the poignancy of this messianic passage when compared to the Greek. In the Septuagint, the King and his kingdom remain in sharp focus throughout.
A Short Review
Let’s do a short review of verses 1 and 2 before beginning with verse 3. Verses 1 and 2 introduce the reign of a righteous king in Zion. He shall appear as a glorious, rushing river in a thirsty land. This King is Christ. The ministry and life of Jesus of Nazareth match the prophetic words Isaiah spoke many hundreds of years earlier. (See the following links to Part One and a Devotional concerning Christ.)
Isaiah 32:1 For, behold, a righteous king shall reign, and princes shall govern with judgement.
2 And a man shall hide his words, and be hidden, as from rushing water, and shall appear in Sion as a rushing river, glorious in a thirsty land. (CAB, LXE)
The Issue of Trust in Isaiah
Now, moving forward, verse 3 in the Masoretic (Hebrew) text presents a quite positive statement. It sounds good! Who wouldn’t want this?
Isaiah 32:3 Then the eyes of those who see will not be closed, and the ears of those who hear will give attention. (ESV)
Yet, the Septuagint (Greek) presents a picture with a somewhat different emphasis, which later Scripture fulfills.
Isaiah 32:3 And they shall no longer trust in men, but they shall incline their ears to hear. (CAB, LXE)
Isaiah emphasizes the issue of trust throughout his writing. God’s people are to trust God, not men. Oddly, however, the following verse, which spells out this principle appears in the Masoretic but not in the Septuagint.
Isaiah 2:22 Stop trusting in human beings, whose life’s breath is in their nostrils. For why should they be given special consideration? (NET)
When Septuagint Isaiah states in verse three, “And they shall no longer trust in men, but they shall incline their ears to hear,” he implies that when they bend their ears forward to hear, they will be hearing God.
Jesus Christ in the New Testament fulfills the very behavior that Isaiah enjoins in 32:3.
John 2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. (ESV)
Septuagint Isaiah 2:22 sounds like John the Apostle’s, “But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie– just as it has taught you, abide in him.” (1John 2:27 ESV) This matches the rushing river/water analogy of the Holy Spirit in the prior verse. The presence of Christ within believers is like the rushing river of the Holy Spirit (John 4:14).
The ESV (Hebrew Masoretic) of verse 3 in Isaiah is also good, because there’s a reversal of the blind eyes and deaf ears of Isaiah 6:9-10. However, Jesus never said that the leaders’ eyes and ears had opened. In fact, he said the opposite.
John 12:39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. (ESV).
Therefore, Isaiah 32:3 applies to the common people who followed Christ, rather than to the religious leaders of his day. Gospel history shows that while the Jewish religious leaders as a whole failed to trust God and his emissary, Messiah, the common people did choose to trust him, rather than men. Along with Isaiah, they “saw his glory” and believed.
The Heart of the Weak Ones
Verse 4 of the Septuagint continues from verse 3. It openly states that those who hear are the “weak ones.” Another common way of translating the Greek word for “weak” is “sick.”
Isaiah 32:4 And the heart of the weak ones shall attend to hear, and the stammering tongues shall soon learn to speak peace. (CAB, LXE)
And in similar fashion, Jesus stated that he came to heal the sick, not the healthy.
Luke 5:31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. (ESV) (See also Matthew 9:12 and Mark 2:17.)
The Masoretic, in contrast, seems to lack the immediate tie to the King of verse 1. “The mind that acts rashly will possess discernment and the tongue that stutters will speak with ease and clarity.” (Isaiah 32:4 NET). Although not specifically mentioned in these later verses, the King of Septuagint Isaiah 32:1 appears to be he to whom the hearts of the weak ones attend to hear in verse 32:4.
Fools Who Rule
While the Masoretic of verse 5 sounds like a good proverb,
The fool will no more be called noble, nor the scoundrel said to be honorable. (ESV)
the Septuagint goes one step further. It identifies the “fool” as the ruler.
And they shall no longer tell a fool to rule, and your servants shall no longer say, Be silent. (CAB, LXE)
Verses 6 and 7 further describe the fool who rules.
6 For the fool shall speak foolish words, and his heart shall meditate vanities, and to perform lawless deeds and to speak error against the Lord, to scatter hungry souls, and He will cause the thirsty souls to be empty. 7 For the counsel of the wicked will devise iniquity, to destroy the poor with unjust words, and ruin the cause of the poor in judgment.
Who cannot hear echoes of this Isaiah description as Jesus repeatedly proclaims “woe” upon the religious rulers of his day?
Matthew 23:13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. (ESV) (See also Matthew 23:15, 17, 23, 25, 29; and John 10:10.)
Matthew 23:17 You blind fools!… (ESV)
“Fools” in Matthew 23:17 is the same Septuagint Greek word that Isaiah uses. In more ways than one, Jesus came to cleanse his temple of the “blind fools” who ruled there. And as previously discussed, the eyes of the rulers remained blind. Nor did they incline their ears to hear. God reserves for the meek and humble the blessing of seeing and hearing him.
Contrast with Messiah’s Kingdom
Continuing in the same vein, verse 8 closes this Isaian messianic passage of Messiah’s kingdom with a contrasting description of the leaders of the early biblical New Testament church.
8 But the godly have devised wise measures, and this counsel shall stand. (CAB, LXE)
The writers of the letters of the New Testament amply demonstrate fulfillment of this prophesy. Each of the apostles and elders of the early church repeatedly enjoin Christ’s followers to behave decently and in love for one another. I give but one of a multitude of examples. This is the “counsel” of the “godly” that replaces the “counsel of the wicked,” the “blind fools” who ruled in Jesus’s day.
Colossians 3:8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (ESV)
Isaiah 32:1-8 describes the messianic King and his followers. The flow of the Septuagint in Isaiah 32 is smooth. The verses connect well one with another, as they keep the focus upon the King of verse 1. The king, though no longer directly mentioned, interacts with the sick and the weak of later verses. The Masoretic, on the other hand, takes a step into stiff formality. The “king who reigns in righteousness” is almost forgotten in the later verses. Unlike the Septuagint, the Masoretic passage appears to be more about a certain prophesied period of time, rather than a person. The poignant prophesy of the Septuagint dissolves into a mechanical abstraction in the Masoretic.
But the Septuagint was the “Scripture” of Jesus’s day. Fortunately, in the Septuagint, the presence of the “righteous King” permeates the characters portrayed in the ensuing verses. As we continue in Septuagint Isaiah, we see that both Jesus and the writers who chronicled his life were steeped in this Old Testament gospel account.