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TitleIsaiah 33
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsParry, Donald W.
EditorHalverson, Taylor
Book TitleOld Testament Minute: Isaiah
PublisherBook of Mormon Central
CitySpringville, UT

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Isaiah 33:1 A Woe against Sennacherib

The “destroyer” here in this woe oracle is often identified as Sennacherib, Assyria’s king who attacked Jerusalem in circa 701 BC. Sennacherib is identified by name in Isaiah 36:1; 37:17, 21, 37. traitor. Sennacherib was indeed a traitor. He offered to spare the lives of Jerusalem’s inhabitants who paid him tribute (2 Kings 18:13–16), and though they paid him at great cost, he treacherously continued to attack them. But the passage, of course, can also refer to any evil person who destroys and betrays others. betrayed. Isaiah’s prophecy against Sennacherib was fulfilled exactly; after the king fled to Ninevah, his sons betrayed him and murdered him (see 37:38).

Isaiah 33:2–6 The Righteous Praise the Lord in Prayer

This sublime prayer, which presents an example of how we may praise and worship the Lord, sets forth the attributes of God, including His graciousness, strength, salvation, exaltation, justice, and righteous­ness. It appears to be the prayer of those who dwell in Zion (anciently, or in the last days), or at least those who desire and anticipate the building of Zion. Verses 2–4 may also describe the people’s hope for help against Assyria, followed by their praise to God after the angel smote the 185,000 and the Assyrian army fled and left behind some of their goods.

Isaiah 33:2

O Lord. God’s covenant people address the Lord in prayer. The vocative “O” sometimes indicates a prayer. be gracious unto us. The text could also read “Show favor to us.” waited. The Hebrew verb qwh (“waited”) can also be rendered “hoped.” be thou our arm. A symbol, meaning “be our strength.”

Isaiah 33:4

your spoil {O nations} is gathered as the caterpillar gathers. Your in this sentence is a masculine plural form (in the Hebrew). Isaiah adds these parenthetical words in the middle of the prayer. When God’s voice roars, the “nations scatter” (see verse 3) and people gather the goods and spoils that are left behind, as straightaway as a “caterpillar gathers” or “as the locusts leap” (onto a field and gathers its riches, i.e., its rich crops).

Isaiah 33:5

He fills Zion with justice and righteousness. Elsewhere Isaiah taught that “Zion shall be redeemed with judgment [justice] and its converts with righteous­ness” (1:27). The Psalmist wrote, “Righteousness and judgment [justice] are the habitation of [God’s] throne” (Psalm 97:2).

Isaiah 33:6

faithfulness. God is our faithfulness. salvation. literally salvations. a treasure of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. The Lord is, to each of us, symbolically a “treasure of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge.” And, also, “the fear of the Lord” is our “treasure.”

Isaiah 33:7–14 The Wicked Are Burned

The recipient of this prophecy is unknown, though it is probably the inhabitants of the kingdom of Judah, in view of the Assyrian domination. In any case, we can liken this prophecy to us, in our day, with the outlook that the burning of the wicked anticipates their destruction at the time of Christ’s Second Coming. Using poetic and symbolic language, Isaiah’s prophecy has several noteworthy expressions. For example, Isaiah compares evil persons to thorns that are cut down and “burned in the fire.” The wicked will be burned as easily as thorns are consumed in a bonfire.

Isaiah 33:7

heroes cry outside. Everyone will “weep bitterly” because of the destruction, including “heroes” and “messengers of peace.”

Isaiah 33:8

Highways lie desolate, the traveler ceases. Why? Because of the destruction that accompanies great wars and battles. covenants are broken/witnesses are despised/no respect. Isaiah lists three reasons why the people are destroyed: they break covenants and agreements, they despise witnesses, and they lack respect for others. DSS Isaiah reads “witnesses” (Hebrew ‘adim) versus MT’s reading of “cities” (Hebrew ‘arim), a case of graphically similar words. “Witnesses” (versus “cities”) parallels “covenants” in the first line.

Isaiah 33:9

land mourns . . . ; Lebanon is ashamed. Poetically, Isaiah gives the land and Lebanon the qualities of a person, thus the “land mourns,” as if the land is a person. Lebanon, Sharon, Bashan, and Carmel are four very fertile regions of the ancient Holy Land.

Isaiah 33:10

I will arise/I will be exalted/I will lift Myself. The Lord utters these three expressions to inform Isaiah’s audience(s) that He is rising up to enact His decrees of justice and judgment on the wicked.

Isaiah 33:11

You conceive chaff. You (plural, referring to the wicked) will conceive (become pregnant with) chaff, or useless husks of grain. The Lord’s severe statement to the wicked informs them that their evil lives and plans are in vain. you give birth to stubble. Your (plural, referring to the wicked) pregnancy has come to completion, and you will now bring forth stubble. In other words, the lives and evil designs of the wicked are such that they will be burned, as chaff and stubble.

Isaiah 33:11–12

The Lord employs terms that express burning with fire—“stubble,” “fire,” “consume,” “burnings of lime,” “burned in the fire.” burnings of lime/like thorns . . . burned in the fire. Something burned with lime is completely burned, or totally incinerated. The expression “thorns . . . burned” expresses the same thing.

Isaiah 33:14

sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling seizes the godless. Zion’s sinners, like other wicked people, will fear because of God’s judgments.

Isaiah 33:14b–17 The Righteous Will Dwell in Everlasting Burnings (Glory) with God

One common link between the previous section and this one is fire—the wicked will be destroyed by fire at Jesus’ Second Coming, but the righteous will eventually dwell in the “everlasting burnings” (or great glory) of the celestial world. The section has a three-part structure: (1) two parallel rhetorical questions asking who can dwell [with God] in His magnificent glory (3:14), (2) a response, detailing the attributes of one who is able to dwell with God (33:15), and (3) a description of the bless­ings of those who will be privileged to dwell with Him in heaven (33:16–17). This passage has the same three-part structure as two psalms that give the requirements for entrance into the temple (Psalms 15, 24), both of which have two rhetorical questions, a response, and a description of the blessings. The psalms deal with the earthly temple, but the present Isaiah section pertains to the Temple in Heaven, or the celestial kingdom.

Isaiah 33:14

Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire/everlasting burnings? Joseph Smith taught that “God dwells in everlasting burnings” (Teachings, 361), meaning that He dwells in everlasting light and glory.

Isaiah 33:15

This verse answers the two questions posed in verse 14. Isaiah sets forth six statements to describe the qualities of one who will inherit and enjoy the glories of the celestial kingdom. The first of the six, for example, is “he who walks righteously.” If you want to dwell with God in the celestial kingdom, you have to live a righteous life. Paraphrased, the six statements are include walking righteously, speaking the truth, rejecting extortions and bribes, and eschewing anything pertaining to murder and evil.

Isaiah 33:16–17

Isaiah sets forth six additional statements, which describe the blessings of those who will inherit the celestial kingdom. dwell on the heights. “The heights” refers to heaven, an exalted place. his place of defense will be fortresses of rocks. The celestial kingdom is the quintessential fortress, or “place of defense,” from all things evil or dangerous. bread will be given/water will be sure. “Bread” and “water” are emblems of Jesus’s broken body and blood, providing us with spiritual life; in heaven, “bread will be given” and “water will be sure,” meaning our life in heaven will be eternal. Your eyes will see the King in His beauty. Exalted souls will see God in all His glory. “See” (Hebrew chzh) means to see as one of God’s seers sees—to see beyond what a mortal’s eyes can comprehend. they will see a land that is far off. Exalted souls will be privileged and blessed to see God’s celestial kingdom, which is far away.

Isaiah 33:18–24 The Glorious Conditions of Zion

Isaiah sets forth the glories and wonders of the latter-day and millennial Zion; it will be “a peaceful habitation” (33:20) where Jehovah Himself will be “our judge,” “lawgiver,” and “king” (33:22). No resident of Zion will become sick (33:24), and all who dwell there will be “forgiven of iniquity” (33:24).

Isaiah 33:18

Your heart will meditate on the terror. Zion’s inhabitants will look back and meditate on the hardships of mortality, which include paying taxes and tributes to tyrannical governments and kingdoms. Where is the one who counts {the taxes}? For this passage, one lexicon reads, “Where is the tax collector?” Zion’s inhabitants will no longer worry about such things. Where is he who counts the towers? Meaning the officer in charge of securing the city’s towers and other defensive components as protections against enemies and armies. Zion’s inhabitants will no longer be anxious about such problems that belong to the world.

Isaiah 33:19

fierce people . . . unintelligible speech . . . strange tongue. Zion’s inhabitants will no longer have to deal with invading armies, whose languages are foreign and strange. Why not? Because Jehovah is our king, and “He will save us” (33:22).

Isaiah 33:20

Behold Zion . . . ; your eyes will see Jerusalem. When we look at Zion, we will see that it is “a peaceful habitation.” This is a reversal of the untold horrors of mortality, when Jerusalem (and other cities) was the site of literally scores of battles during the course of history. appointed festivals. The Hebrew term mo‘ed often refers to the sacred festivals or feasts of the temple; anciently, these included the Day of Atonement, Passover, and others. tent not moved, its stakes not pulled up forever, and its cords never broken. The tent refers to the Tabernacle of Moses, a portable temple that was moved to various locations, both in the wilderness and in the Holy Land. In Zion, however, God’s temple will never have to be moved. “Its stakes” is a reference to the Church’s stakes, or ecclesiastical units (see 54:2).

Isaiah 33:21

Lord in majesty will be for us, a place of rivers, wide streams. “Rivers” and “wide streams” are symbols of the Lord, who is our “fountain of living waters” (Jeremiah 2:13; 17:13; Isaiah 8:6; Psalm 36:8–9; see also Ether 12:28). There will no longer be thirsty souls in Zion, a reversal of earlier history when there were thirsty Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 17:3–7). nor mighty ship will pass on it. Anciently, ships that were sometimes used for nefarious purposes—transporting slaves, armies, worldly goods, spoils of war, and the like—will not pass through Zion.

Isaiah 33:22

Lord is our judge . . . lawgiver . . . king; He will save us. There can be no better justice of the peace, lawmaker, ruler, and protector than Jehovah Himself. He is the very reason why Zion will be a “peaceful habitation” (33:20).

Isaiah 33:23

ropes/mast/sail. Isaiah now directly addresses the wicked (“your ropes”) who had commandeered the ships mentioned in verse 21, informing them that that their ships will no longer operate properly. lame have taken the plunder. Fierce warriors will no longer ravage and plunder; instead, the lame (symbolic of the feeble and weak) will gather and divide the spoils of war, left behind by their enemies (33:4).

Isaiah 33:24

no resident will say, I am sick. This may refer to our terrestrial bodies during the Millennium. people who dwell there are forgiven of iniquity. Zion’s inhabitants are the pure in heart who have repented and become cleansed through Jesus’s Atonement.


Scripture Reference

Isaiah 33:1