Isaiah Institute Weekly Reading: Isaiah 2:2–4


Isaiah 2:2-4

2 In the latter days the mountain of Jehovah’s house shall become established as the head of the mountains; it shall be preeminent among the hills, and all nations will flow to it.

Isaiah’s locating the fulfillment of his prophecy in “the latter days” or “end-time” (’aharit hayyamim) ties his entire “vision” of events (Isaiah 1:1) to that time frame. One way Isaiah does this is to predict the same event several times in different combinations with other events, domino fashion, throughout his book. By that means, he establishes a single scenario of events, all of which connect to the present passage’s context of the “end-time.” Isaiah’s Seven-Part Structure—a synchronous literary structure that establishes a single scenario for his entire book—connects to the same end-time time frame.

The mountain of Jehovah’s house. While the word “mountain” may refer to a literal mountain, Isaiah additionally establishes a metaphorical meaning for this term by means of synonymous parallels that identify a “mountain” as a “nation” or “kingdom” (Isaiah 13:4; 64:1–2; cf. 52:7; and Babylon as a “destroying mountain,” Jeremiah 51:24–25). The “mountain of Jehovah’s house” thus signifies the nation of Jehovah’s house, in which the term “house” refers to his temple (Isaiah 66:1, 20). From that holy place, Jehovah directs the affairs of his people and of all nations (cf. Isaiah 6:1, 9–13; 56:6–8).

As the head of the mountains. When we apply the metaphorical meaning of this passage, we are reminded of Jehovah’s promise to his people Israel that if they would keep the terms of the Sinai Covenant they would become the head of the nations as a covenant blessing (Deuteronomy 28:13). A secondary meaning of the word “head” (ro’s)—also “chief” or “top”—on the other hand, alludes to a physical location. (While the Masoretic Text uses the preposition “in” [be], the older, Dead Sea scroll of Isaiah reads “as” [ke].) In the end-time context of this passage, therefore, both meanings may apply.

All nations will flow to it. To this prominent end-time nation, other nations and peoples are drawn. The verb “flow” or “stream” (nhr)—as in “nations” or “Gentiles” (goyim) “flowing” or “streaming”—is a word link that connects this passage to two others that predict “nations” or “Gentiles” (goyim) “flowing” or “streaming” (nhr). Both deal with the return of Jehovah’s people from among the nations in a new exodus to Zion (Isaiah 60:3–5; 66:12). Those passages thus suggest that verses 2–3 portray the new exodus to Zion, while that event is here given a time frame—the “end-time” (’aharit hayyamim).

3 Many people shall go, saying, Come, let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, that we may follow in his paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and from Jerusalem the word of Jehovah.

While verse 2 speaks of “all nations,” verse 3 mentions “many peoples.” Because the return of Jehovah’s people in the new exodus to Zion occurs from among “all nations” (Isaiah 52:10–12), “many peoples” more definitively identifies remnants of all nations (Isaiah 11:11–12, 15–16; 49:22). The verb “go up” or “ascend” (‘lh) denotes the ascent of Jehovah’s people to a higher spiritual level (cf. Isaiah 40:31) and compares their return from exile to Israel’s ancient pilgrimage to the temple (Psalm 122:1–4; Isaiah 30:29) where the Levites taught Jehovah’s law and word (2 Chronicles 30:1, 22; 35:2–3).

The restoration of Jehovah’s law and word—the terms of his covenant—forms an integral part of “the restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21) that existed in ancient Israel. Together with temple ordinances and blessings pertaining to Jehovah’s covenant, the way is thus prepared for the long-awaited millennium of peace to begin (v 4). While the names Zion and Jerusalem identify a category of Jehovah’s people who repent (Isaiah 1:27; 40:1–2; 55:6–7; 59:20), they additionally allude to two millennial centers from which Jehovah’s law and word go forth to all nations (Isaiah 4:3; 12:4–6; 33:20; 51:4–5).

4 He will judge between the nations and arbitrate for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks: nation will not lift the sword against nation, nor will they learn warfare any more.

The millennial peace Jehovah establishes follows a war to end all wars (Isaiah 14:4–7). The nations who comprise the earth’s millennial inhabitants engage in agriculture rather than warfare (Isaiah 30:23–24; 61:5; 65:10, 21–22). Never again do they “lift up,” “sustain,” or “elevate” (yissa’) tyrants such as the king of Assyria/Babylon—Jehovah’s sword of destruction. By Isaiah’s definition, those who “judge” are principally Jehovah and his servant (Isaiah 5:16; 11:3–4; 16:5; 33:22; 51:5), although certain “judges” additionally judge in Jehovah’s theocratic millennial government (Isaiah 1:26; 28:6). 


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