Isaiah 27:12-13 Septuagint Modernized
Isaiah brings his four-chapter apocalyptic vision to a close with verses 12-13 of chapter 27, the blessing on Israel. The “apocalypse,” or end time vision, began in Chapter 24. Briefly, here is an outline of these chapters in the Septuagint tradition.
- Chapter 24: Worldwide judgment, destruction; worldwide rejoicing in the Lord by a spared, “left behind” remnant (24:14).
- Chapter 25: Worldwide salvation by God in Zion and worldwide judgment on evil.
- Chapter 26: A back and forth movement between praise for worldwide salvation and statements of worldwide judgment and removal of the ungodly.
- Chapter 27: Israel–God’s judgment and blessing.
Dividing Septuagint Chapter 27
Except for verse 1, Chapter 27 speaks of Israel only. I divide this Septuagint chapter as follows.
- Isaiah 27:1 describes the final destruction of Satan. This verse best fits with Chapter 26. It provides a suitable ending for the three prior apocalyptic chapters that deal with the entire world.
- Septuagint chapter 27 gives three statements of blessing for Israel: verse 6, verse 9, and verses 12-13. Verses 2-5 in the Septuagint differ significantly from the Masoretic text. They are in fact at opposite poles (See Journal 56). While the Masoretic sees blessing for the vineyard, the Septuagint prophesies that God “has set her aside” (v. 4).
- Because the totality of chapter 27:2-11 appears to prophesy concerning Israel throughout, verses 12 to 13 best apply to Israel alone, rather than to the whole world. Christians everywhere know that they have been sought out, chosen, and accepted by God. They have been grafted into Israel’s olive tree (Romans 11:17 and elsewhere). Here though, I believe Isaiah is not describing the ingathering of Gentiles. He has already done so in chapters 25-26, and he will do so again elsewhere. But here in verses 12 and 13, I believe the text specifically speaks again of the “children of Jacob” (vs 6).
- On the other hand, there is no reason, other than chapter context, to exclude Gentiles from the meaning of verse 13. The vocabulary itself does not appear to do so.
Details of Septuagint Verses 12 and 13
12 And it shall come to pass in that day that God shall fence men off from the channel of the river as far as the Brook of Egypt; but gather one by one the children of Israel. 13 And it shall come to pass in that day that they shall blow the great trumpet, and the lost ones in the land of the Assyrians shall come, and the lost ones in Egypt, and shall worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem. (CAB, LXE) (1)
These two verse of Isaiah raise more questions than they answer. Two things are clear, however. First, these verses are not clear in their details. Second, God intends to bless the children of Israel.
1. Both verses open with the phrase, “in that day”. In this end times context, “in that day” refers to the end times. This could include any time from the advent of Christ and the spread of his kingdom through the gospel message (Isaiah 26:1-6) to Satan’s destruction near the very end of this age (Isaiah 27:1).
2. The geographical boundaries indicated in verse 12 approximate the boundaries of the land promised to Abraham by God (Genesis 13:14). These ideal boundaries reflect times of blessing and prosperity in Israel’s long history.
3. In verse 13, the “great trumpet” will call “the lost ones in the land of the Assyrians” and “the lost ones in Egypt” to worship. These boundaries reflect times of hardship and abandonment by the Lord. Assyria and Egypt are the nations to which many Israelites fled or were led before the last invasion by Babylonia. These are Gentile nations, although the reader should not forget Isaiah 19:24-25, in which God specifically blesses these peoples.
4. Placed together and in totality, the two verses seem to indicate that the in-harvesting of Israel shall be complete, encompassing all the known places where they lived, up to and including Isaiah’s day. (Greece had not yet conquered Israel, nor had Rome.) Note: The fact that Assyria and Egypt worshiped pagan deities in Isaiah’s day does not indicate that the “lost ones” include Gentiles.
The “Lost Ones”
1. What about the Septuagint phrase, “lost ones, οἱ ἀπολόμενοι,“–the “lost ones” in the land of the Assyrians and the “lost ones” in Egypt? The verb base of this noun represents a strong form of destruction. It first appears in Genesis for the destruction, or sweeping away, of Sodom. It shows up in Exodus 10:7 for the destruction of Egypt. Leviticus 7 uses the word for a cutting off in the sense of complete separation. (See Leviticus 7:20.) In Numbers 14:12 the word means “disinherit.”
2. Isaiah uses the verb form of “lost ones” frequently. Examples are Isaiah 24:12; 25:11; and 26:14. In each of these verses, the verb means to destroy, even permanently.
3. In the context of verse 13, Egypt and Assyria were enemy nations. Those “lost” there were cut off, even to the point of destruction. Therefore, when Isaiah 27:13 speaks of bringing back the “lost ones” in Egypt and Assyria, it is as though he were saying that the great trumpet will bring them back from the dead “to worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.”
4. Other biblical passages refer to Israel having been dead and resurrected. The most famous of these is Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14). Paul speaks of Israel’s having been cut off and grafted back in again (Romans 11:15, 17, 23-24). These verses display the mercy and goodness of God.
NEW TESTAMENT PARALLELS
Matthew 10:6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Matthew 15:24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
The words “lost” in the verses above use the identical Greek word base as in Septuagint Isaiah.
Jesus is saying that the people of Israel were “lost.” Further, he came to rescue them.
The Great Trumpet
“They shall blow the great trumpet” (vs 13). What trumpet is this?
1. The word “trumpet” is first used in Exodus 19:13 to call the people to God’s presence on Mt Sinai. The trumpet sounded in Israel to call the people to war, to announce victory (1 Samuel 13:3), to stop the people from fighting (2 Samuel 2:28), and to announce a new king (2 Samuel 15:10, 1 Kings 1:41, 43). The trumpet therefore signifies an important announcement or command. Yet none of these are a “great trumpet.” This particular phrase seems to be unique to Isaiah, chapter 27.
2. The purpose of the “great trumpet” is to call the “lost ones” out from Egypt and Assyria in order to “worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.”
3. The Septuagint reads that “they” shall blow the great trumpet. Who could “they” be? Could “they” be the apostles and disciples of Christ who blew the gospel trumpet?
One by One
Verse 12 in the Septuagint states, “do ye gather one by one the children of Israel.” The text does not indicate who “they” are. (The Masoretic text displays a second person plural, “You will be gleaned one by one, O people of Israel.”)
1. The Septuagint uses the word “gather, συναγάγετε.” This word is a verb form of the noun “synagogue.” The Hebrew texts, depending upon translation, use the metaphorical language of threshing grain or beating off fruit from a tree.
2. The gathering in the Septuagint and in Masoretic texts is to be done “one by one.”
3. Ordinarily, grain on the threshing floor is not gathered up “grain by grain” or “one by one” after the chaff has been removed. Rather, the totality of the threshed grain is gathered together in heaps. Neither is fruit that is beaten, or knocked, from a tree gathered “one by one” out in the orchard. Rather, everything that falls is collected and separated out later. Isaiah uses his language carefully to indicate that the harvest is not bulk, but individual, one by one.
These two verses in Isaiah 27, verses 12 and 13, stun with their brevity and enormity of meaning.
1. They represent a reversal in the fortunes of Israel. Septuagint Isaiah 27 in its entirety describes a nation whom God rejects. The vineyard image in verses 2-5 portray judgment. Verses 7-8 and 10-11 expand the theme of exile.
2. Verses 6 and 9 stand out like large boulders in a rapidly flowing stream. The torrential waters flow around these verses of blessing, but not over them. Similarly, God’s wrath flows around his people, but does not drown them completely. God’s mercy is like a boulder that will not be moved (Matthew 7:24-25).
3. Finally, verses 12 and 13 describe the manner of God’s blessing upon his “lost” people.
God’s promise of blessing upon Israel stands today. What are the details of this blessing?
First, God does not and will not bless stubborn resistance to his ways. People who persist in rebellion will be removed and cut off from his people and worse, his own presence (vv 2-5, 7-8, 9-11).
Second, some will turn to the Lord, crying, “Let us make peace with him, let us make peace” (vs 5). These are the “children of Jacob” from whom “Israel shall bud and blossom.” “The world shall be filled with his fruit.” (The latter quotes are from Septuagint verse 6.)
Verse 9 speaks of atonement and sanctification. It speaks of atonement, because God himself will take away their sin. It speaks of sanctification, because the people shall themselves destroy and remove all their idolatry and signs of it.
Finally, verses 12 and 13 describe how Israel’s “fruit” (vs 6) shall be harvested.
THE HARVEST–VERSES 12-13
The harvest will be of a remnant of the people. Not everyone born to Israel will be saved. The prior sections establish this. God makes no promises to the persistently rebellious. Even more specifically, verse 12 spells out that “the children of Israel” will be gathered “one by one.”
“One by one” indicates several things. One, the phrase pronounces God’s sovereignty of choice. Selection is not by an automatic standard. Second, “one by one” indicates care and precision. God cares about each individual child. Third, and most importantly, “one by one” indicates the individuality of the selection process. The nation as a whole, as a group, shall not be harvested. Each grain or piece of fruit individually will be examined and either collected or rejected on its own merit.
John 1:11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, (ESV)
Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (ESV)
Matthew 25:32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (ESV)
The advent of Jesus Christ, God’s chosen one, Messiah, changed everything for Israel. God did indeed set the nation aside, as a national theocracy. When its fruit ripened, the seed emerged. The flesh of the fruit then rotted and died. God wanted the eternal Seed, not the fleshly, outer husk. Further, the advent of Israel’s Messiah introduced a new standard of acceptance based on God’s grace through faith in Christ. Nevertheless, God gloriously fulfilled Old Testament Israel’s purpose. Messiah came. The physical seed of Abraham and David had been preserved. The eternal king was born of their genetic line. And, God spared a remnant of the people. Even though it’s a remnant, there is no limit to its size. The eternal kingdom of Christ can be infinitely large. God is willing. He is for descendants of Jacob, just as he is for all people–descendants of Cain, Ishmael, Esau, and every single ethnicity on the globe. Septuagint Isaiah 27, which concerns Israel, meshes well with the New Testament gospel message: God is for us.
God is for us, through his Son. Are you, dear reader, for him?
1 The Complete Apostles’ Bible. Translated by Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton. Revised and Edited by Paul W. Esposito, and, The English Majority Text Version (EMTV) of the Holy Bible, New Testament. Copyright © 2002-2004 Paul W. Esposito.