Isaiah 40
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Isaiah 40
Isaiah 40
Great Isaiah Scroll.jpg
The Great Isaiah Scroll, the best preserved of the biblical scrolls found at Qumran from the second century BC, contains all the verses in this chapter.
BookBook of Isaiah
Hebrew Bible partNevi'im
Order in the Hebrew part5
CategoryLatter Prophets
Christian Bible partOld Testament
Order in the Christian part23

Isaiah 40 is the fortieth chapter of the Book of Isaiah in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, and the first chapter of the section known as "Deutero-Isaiah" (Isaiah 40-55), dating from the time of the Israelites' exile in Babylon. This book contains the prophecies attributed to the prophet Isaiah, and is one of the Books of the Prophets. Parts of this chapter are cited in all four canonical Gospels of the New Testament.


The original text was written in Hebrew language. This chapter is divided into 31 verses.

Textual witnesses

Some early manuscripts containing the text of this chapter in Hebrew are of the Masoretic Text tradition, which includes the Codex Cairensis (895), the Petersburg Codex of the Prophets (916), Aleppo Codex (10th century), Codex Leningradensis (1008).[1]

Fragments containing parts of this chapter were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls (3rd century BC or later):

  • 1QIsaa: complete
  • 1QIsab: extant verses 1-4
  • 4QIsab (4Q56): extant verses 1-4, 22-26
  • 5Q3 (5QIsa): extant verses 16, 18-19

There is also a translation into Koine Greek known as the Septuagint, made in the last few centuries BCE. Extant ancient manuscripts of the Septuagint version include Codex Vaticanus (B; B; 4th century), Codex Sinaiticus (S; BHK: S; 4th century), Codex Alexandrinus (A; A; 5th century) and Codex Marchalianus (Q; Q; 6th century).[2]


The parashah sections listed here are based on the Aleppo Codex.[3] Isaiah 40 is a part of the Consolations (Isaiah 40-66). {P}: open parashah; {S}: closed parashah.

{P} 40:1-2 {S} 40:3-5 {P} 40:6-8 {S} 40:9-11 {S} 40:12-16 {P} 40:17-20 {S} 40:21-24 {S} 40:25-26 {S} 40:27-31 {S}


John Skinner, in the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges commentary, refers to verses 1-11 as the prologue (to Deutero-Isaiah).[4]

Verse 2

In the Septuagint this passage is addressed to the priests.[5]

Verse 3

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.[6]

This verse is cited in all four gospels in New Testament as fulfilled in the person of John the Baptist, who prepared for the coming of Jesus Christ the Lord (Matthew 3:1-3; ; ;). John himself confessed that the verse pertains to him:

He [John the Baptist] said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.[7]

Some English translations associate the reference to "the wilderness" with "the voice which cries out": examples include the King James Version and New King James Version, the Geneva Bible, Wycliffe's translation, the Darby Bible and Brenton's translation of the Septuagint. In more recent translations, "the wilderness" is associated with the place where the way of the Lord is to be prepared: examples include the ASV, Common English Bible, Contemporary English Version, English Standard Version, Jerusalem Bible, Revised Standard Version and New Revised Standard Version:

A voice cries:
"In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord.[8]

Verse 4

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:[9]

Cited in

Verse 5

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together:
for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.[10]

Cited in Luke 3:6

Verse 6

The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:[11]

Cited in 1 Peter 1:24[15]

Verse 7

The grass withers, the flower fades
because the Spirit of the Lord blows upon it;
surely the people are grass.[16]
  • "Spirit of the Lord": can also rendered as "wind of Jehovah" (Psalm 103:16) or may refer to the "withering east wind of those countries sent by Jehovah" (Jonah 4:8).[17]

Verse 8

The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God shall stand forever.[18]

Cited together with Isaiah 40:6 in 1 Peter 1:24-25[15]

Verse 13

Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,
Or as His counselor has taught Him?[19]

Verse 22

Mural in Church of the Sermon on the Mount (on the campus of Mar Elias Educational) with the text from Isaiah 40:22 by Dianne Roe.
It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth,
and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers;
that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain,
and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.[20]

Westermann notes the similarity of parts of this verse to other Bible verses: verse 22a vs. Job 34:13b and verse 22b vs. Psalm 104:2b.[21] This verse contains several rare words  – such as ‎, doq ("curtain"), and ‎, mathach ("spread, stretch"), which are only found here, as well as ‎, chug ("circle"), which are only found in a few other verses (Proverbs 8:27; Job 22:14; Job 26:10) – suggesting "well-defined, distinctive traditions."[21]

  • "Circle" (of the earth): is translated from the Hebrew word ?‎, chug, which also denotes "horizon, circuit, vault of the heavens."[22][23][a] It can refer to
    • the full circuit  – the seen and unseen halves – of the stars across the dome of the sky, or
    • the vault of heaven (Job 22:14) extending "in a half-circle from horizon to horizon", or
    • a circular observable horizon (cf. Proverbs 8:27; Job 26:10)
It is to emphasize the range of God's authority "over everything the eye can see in every direction, even to the distant ends of the earth,"[25][26] but not necessarily refer to the "circular nature of the earth."[26]
Rashi mentions an expression with the same root in Isaiah 44:13 "and with a compass (?)" to view this word as a "circle" (as made by a compass).[27]Douay-Rheims Bible renders it as "globe"[28] and so does the Spanish version of the Jubilee Bible (el globo,[29] but the English version renders as "circle"[30]).


Modern literature

A part of the Hebrew text of Isaiah 40:4 was used by Shmuel Yosef Agnon as the title for his 1912-novella, "Vehaya Ha'akov Lemishor" ("The Crooked Shall Be Made Straight").[31]

See also


  1. ^ "a circle, sphere, used of the arch or vault of the sky."[24]


  1. ^ Würthwein 1995, pp. 35-37.
  2. ^ Würthwein 1995, pp. 73-74.
  3. ^ As implemented in the Jewish Publication Society's 1917 edition of the Hebrew Bible in English.
  4. ^ Skinner, J. (1897-8), Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges on Isaiah 40, accessed 30 July 2018
  5. ^ Isaiah 40:4 - Brenton's Septuagint Translation
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ - ESV
  9. ^
  10. ^ Isaiah 40:5 KJV
  11. ^ Isaiah 40:6 KJV
  12. ^ Hebrew Text Analysis: Isaiah 40:6. Biblehub
  13. ^ Exell, Joseph S.; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice (Editors). On "Isaiah 40". In: The Pulpit Commentary. 23 volumes. First publication: 1890. Accessed 24 April 2019.
  14. ^ Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Isaiah 40. Accessed 28 April 2019.
  15. ^ a b Barnes, Albert. Notes on the Bible - Isaiah 40. James Murphy (ed). London: Blackie & Son, 1884.
  16. ^ MEV
  17. ^ Jamieson, Robert; Fausset, Andrew Robert; Brown, David. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary On the Whole Bible. "Isaiah 40". 1871.
  18. ^ MEV
  19. ^
  20. ^ Isaiah 40:22 KJV
  21. ^ a b Westermann 1969, p. 56.
  22. ^ Smith 2009, p. 116.
  23. ^ Brown 1994 "?"
  24. ^ Gesenius 1979 "?"
  25. ^ Smith 2009, pp. 116-117.
  26. ^ a b Oswalt 1998, p. 67.
  27. ^ Yeshayahu - Isaiah - Chapter 40. The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary. Accessed on February 28, 2019.
  28. ^ Isaiah 40:22 Douay-Rheims
  29. ^ Isaiah 40:22 JBS
  30. ^ Isaiah 40:22 JUB
  31. ^ Aschkenasy, Nehama (1983). "Biblical Substructures in the Tragic Form Hardy, "The Mayor of Casterbridge" Agnon, "And the Crooked Shall Be Made Straight"". Modern Language Studies. 13 (1): 105. doi:10.2307/3194323. JSTOR 3194323.


External links



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