Septuagint 43: Isaiah Devotional 2.17

This article will be semi-technical.

Thank God for Greek!

Whichever people may have translated the Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek (the Septuagint), they did so with great sensitivity to God’s Holy Spirit. This manifests in the specific Greek words used. These translators did not shy away from using words that point to Messiah. Many of the Greek words and word stems of the Septuagint also occur in the Greek of the New Testament. Readers have many tools to access both the Greek of the Septuagint and the Greek in which the New Testament was written. Comparing the two testaments Greek to Greek yields rich rewards.

These are some of the readily available language tools:

  • interlinear or side by side editions of the Septuagint showing both the Greek and the English (or other language) translation
  • interlinear New Testaments with one’s native language displayed word by word under the Greek
  • biblical editions that show Strong’s numbers for each word in one’s native language, or for each Greek word
  • a multitude of highly detailed lexicons and concordances
  • on-line lessons, printed textbooks, and in-person classes to learn Greek
  • some links are included in the footnotes (1)

Christian Correspondences with Isaiah 43

Redeemer

1 And now thus saith the Lord God that made thee, O Jacob, and formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. (Brenton)

  1. God through Isaiah speaks to Israel in first person. The text states that God specifically created and formed Jacob, also known as Israel. Using an entirely different word, Christ says in Matthew16:18, “On this rock I will build my church.” Paul in Ephesians 2:20 speaks of the church as having been “built.”
  2. Although one study Bible uses the words “will protect” for “have redeemed,” most English translations stick to “redeemed.” This word occurs multiple times in both testaments. Christ in the New Testament is known as “redeemer.” (See also Isaiah 43:14. The “Lord God” does far more than “protect” Israel. He redeems her.)

Luke 1:68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people. (ESV)

Luke 24:21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. (ESV)

Calling By Name

In the Septuagint, God speaks to Israel, “I have called you by name.” In the New Testament, Jesus calls by name.

John 10:3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out… 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (ESV)

Paul also speaks of members of the church (Israelites and Gentiles) as those whom God calls.

Romans 8:30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (ESV)

Witnesses

God appoints Israel as his witness.

10 Be ye my witnesses, and I too am a witness, saith the Lord God, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know, and believe, and understand that I am he: before me there was no other God, and after me there shall be none. 11 I am God; and beside me there is no Saviour. 12 I have declared, and have saved; I have reproached, and there was no strange god among you: ye are my witnesses, and I am the Lord God, 13 even from the beginning; and there is none that can deliver out of my hands: I will work, and who shall turn it back? (Brenton)

MESSIAH AS WITNESS

First, notice the construction of the sentence in verse 10. The Greek itself is very similar in construction (Isaiah 43:10 LXX). The plain meaning, out of context, would be that there are three witnesses: Israel (“Be ye my witnesses“), the Lord God, and “my servant whom I have chosen.” When including the context, an argument could be made that this is a very awkward construction indicating two witnesses: the Lord God and Israel, who is also the Lord’s servant. Against this interpretation lies the fact that the first phrase  is second personal plural (be ye, witnesses). The third phrase, “my servant whom I have chosen,” is singular. If the reader extends the context back to chapter 41, to which this chapter is closely linked, the servant could well be the singular Servant of Isaiah 41:8 forward.

Within the four Gospels, Jesus claims that God himself is his witness.

John 5:37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen,

John 8:18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”

John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

John 17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,

John 18:37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world– to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

And, Messiah (Jesus) witnesses to the Father.

John 8:26 I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.”

John 8:40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.

John 3:11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.

John 8:29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” (Joh 8:29 ESV)

ISRAEL AS WITNESSES

Isaiah 43:10 Be ye my witnesses… 12… ye are my witnesses

As the Lord God commanded Israel to be his witnesses, so Messiah commands his disciples to be his witnesses.

THE DISCIPLES AS WITNESSES

Luke 24:48 You are witnesses of these things.

John 15:27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

Acts1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Protection

Notice the similarity in the following two statements, one from the Septuagint, spoken by the “Lord God,” and the other from the New Testament, spoken by Christ. The actual Greek words “deliver” (ἐξαιρέω) and “snatch out” (ἁρπάζω) are different. In the context of these sentences, however, they are synonymous.

12… I am the Lord God, 13… and there is none that can deliver out of my hands: (Brenton

John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (ESV)

“I Am” Statements

The Gospel of John is famous for Jesus’s many “I am,” statements. There are a few, however, which follow the Old Testament formulation in Isaiah 43 exactly.

John 8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he (ἐγώ εἰμι), you will die in your sins.” 

John 8:28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he (ἐγώ εἰμι), and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.

Isaiah 43:10 Be ye my witnesses, and I too am a witness, saith the Lord God, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know, and believe, and understand that I am he (ἐγώ εἰμι): before me  there was no other God, and after me there shall be none.

Isaiah 43:25 <1> I, even I, am he that blots out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and thy sins; and I will not remember them. {1) Gr. I am, I am} (LXE, Brenton)

Isaiah 43:25 ἐγώ εἰμι ἐγώ εἰμι… (I am, I am) (Isaiah 43:25, LXT)

And John is not the only gospel in which Jesus claims the divine Being. Mark also includes this testimony.

 Mark 14:61… Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am (ἐγώ εἰμι), and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 63 And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? 64 You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. 

A Chosen Race

Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I will do new things, which shall presently spring forth, and ye shall know them: and I will make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the dry land. 20 the beasts of the field shall bless me, the owls and young ostriches; for I have given water in the wilderness, and rivers in the dry land, to give drink to my chosen race, 21 my people whom I have preserved to tell forth my praises. (Brenton

The phrase “chosen race” in the Septuagint, or “chosen people” in the Hebrew, is all but unique in the Old Testament. A digital search engine shows “chosen people” and “chosen race” nowhere else in the Old Testament, other than Septuagint Esther 8:13.  Various Greek lexicons define the word γένος (gen-os) as: 1) race, offspring, descendants, family; 2) nation, people; and 3) class, kind (Thayer, and Gingrich).

The New Testament likewise uses the phrase “chosen race, γένος (gen-os)” just once. Peter’s statement closely resembles Isaiah’s use of the phrase “chosen race” in verse 20. Peter combines verses 20 and 21.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race (γένος), a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

The shortened form, “chosen” as in “my chosen” occurs more frequently in both testaments.

Water

Isaiah 43 speaks often of water. The occurrences of water fall into two categories. The first category is dangerous water. The second category is the water necessary for life. This section will consider the second category, the water of life. The Gospels also relate Jesus/Messiah’s ministry in connection with two categories of water: dangerous water and the water that gives life.

DANGEROUS WATER

Isaiah 43:2 And if thou pass through water, I am with thee; and the rivers shall not overflow thee… (Brenton

Isaiah 43:16 Thus saith the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty water; (Brenton

And from the New Testament–

Mark 4:37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 

John 6:16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

WATER OF LIFE

From Isaiah 43–

43:19… I will make… rivers in the dry land. 20 The beasts of the field shall bless me, the owls and young ostriches; for I have given water in the wilderness, and rivers in the dry land, to give drink to my chosen race, (Brenton) [Note: The ESV writes, “rivers in the desert.”]

And from the mouth of Messiah–

John 7:38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”

John 4:13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Blindness

God through Isaiah seems to never grow weary of calling out Israel’s blindness.

Isaiah 43:8 and I have brought forth the blind people; for their eyes are alike blind, and they that have ears are deaf. 

Messiah in his ministry did the same with the religious leaders of his day.

Matthew 23:24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 

John 9:39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

Jesus in his day healed many who were physically blind. Which is more difficult? To heal a physically blind person or to give spiritual life and sight to a spiritually blind person? Jesus did both.

Matthew 20:30 And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 31 The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 32 And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” 33 They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” 34 And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.

John 12:46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

Summary: The Christian Message

Septuagint Isaiah 43 speaks the Christian message.

First, verses 1 through 7 cry out the Lord’s love for his people (Isaiah 43:1-7). For Christians, this includes all people everywhere. God seeks out his own and calls them by name from the far corners of the earth. No one is too far away to be saved. He cares for his people, provides for them, and protects them.

Second, just as Israel was a witness among the nations (Isaiah 43:8-21) to the existence, sovereignty, might, and eternity of the Lord God, Christians are witnesses of the same. Most importantly, Christians witness that Christ came in the flesh, died and was buried, arose from the grave, and ascended into heaven. The first Christians saw all these things. Christians further witness that Jesus Messiah sent his Holy Spirit to take his place in the hearts of believers everywhere. This is how Christians know that Jesus lives.

Third, the Christian message is inclusive. The Lord’s people are one. Isaiah 43:5-7 indicates this truth, which will be developed further as Isaiah progresses. There are no ethnic nor language barriers in the body of Christ. The body of Christ includes all people who believe, both those of Israeli descent and Gentiles. There is no separation. God and Messiah are one. Their people are one.

Romans 10:12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.

Fourth, God judges his people as being blind, distant from him, and sinful (Isaiah 43:22-28). Yet, he is willing to forgive them. He will do this for himself (Isaiah 43:25). The Christian message is that all people have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. Yet God in Christ will forgive them.

Fifth, confession and repentance are necessary.

Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am he that blots out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and thy sins; and I will not remember them. 26 But do thou remember, and let us plead together: do thou first confess thy transgressions, that thou mayest be justified [made righteous (SAAS)].

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

When one reads through Isaiah 43, God appears to be as though he were a lover spurned. I see a God who is bending over backward, pleading with his people to return to him. Yet, verses 27-28 indicate that they have turned against him, to their shame and destruction. Why did God’s people not love him?

But the story has not ended. It continues. And, God’s message today is the same as yesterday.

 Hebrews 3:15 As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” 

Amen.

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1 Brenton’s English Septuagint; New English Translation of the Septuagint, translated by Moisés Silva NETSAbarim Interlinear New TestamentBlue Letter Bible Septuagint in Greek with links to Strong’s concordance for each word. All links accessed October 28, 2021.

Love to Hear from You