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Isaiah 43:21-44:23

The final third of Isaiah (Chap. 40-66) is known for its great prophecies of redemption and comfort. The Haftarah follows a description of the astounding future redemption of God’s people, Israel, from its Babylonian exile, and opens with Israel, in the future, praising God for that salvation. God and Isaiah then critique Israel for its past and present failings which rightfully prevent that redemption: Israel’s luxurious sacrifices to God do not please Him; instead, His people’s sins weary Him. (This critique of sinners’ sacrifices complements the Parashah’s sacrificial laws.) Isaiah then proclaims that God will nonetheless redeem His chosen people, wipe away their sins, and bless them; in turn, they shall proudly become loyal to Him. Isaiah excoriates nonsensical idolatry at length and in withering terms to remind Israel of the majesty and benefit of servitude to its Creator, inspiring it to aspire to its glorious future redemption.

Haftarah Breakdown

Verse 43:21: In the future, Israel will praise God for redeeming them from Babylon…

Isaiah 43:21

This people have I formed for Myself; they shall recount My praise.

עַם־זוּ֙ יָצַ֣רְתִּי לִ֔י תְּהִלָּתִ֖י יְסַפֵּֽרוּ׃ (ס)

Verse 43:22-24: ...but in the present, their sins weary Him and their sacrifices displease Him.

Isaiah 43:24

You have bought Me no sweet cane with money, nor have you sated Me with the fat of your sacrifices - but you have burdened Me with your sins, you have wearied Me with your iniquities.

לֹא־קָנִ֨יתָ לִּ֤י בַכֶּ֙סֶף֙ קָנֶ֔ה וְחֵ֥לֶב זְבָחֶ֖יךָ לֹ֣א הִרְוִיתָ֑נִי אַ֗ךְ הֶעֱבַדְתַּ֙נִי֙ בְּחַטֹּאותֶ֔יךָ הוֹגַעְתַּ֖נִי בַּעֲוֺנֹתֶֽיךָ׃ (ס)

Verses 43:25: God will forgive their sins even though they do not deserve forgiveness.

Isaiah 43:25

I, I, am he who blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.

אָנֹכִ֨י אָנֹכִ֥י ה֛וּא מֹחֶ֥ה פְשָׁעֶ֖יךָ לְמַעֲנִ֑י וְחַטֹּאתֶ֖יךָ לֹ֥א אֶזְכֹּֽר׃

Verses 43:26-28: God challenges the people to defend and justify themselves; they have no reply. He will therefore punish them for their ancestors’ and current leaders’ sins.

Isaiah 43:26

Remind Me - let us adjudicate together! Speak, you! - so that you may be found righteous.

הַזְכִּירֵ֕נִי נִשָּׁפְטָ֖ה יָ֑חַד סַפֵּ֥ר אַתָּ֖ה לְמַ֥עַן תִּצְדָּֽק

Verses 44:1-5: Having chastised and forgiven their sins, God will bless Israel, His chosen people. Flourishing, they will dedicate themselves proudly and wholly to Him.

Isaiah 44:3

For I [God] will pour water upon thirsty [land], and floods upon the dry ground. I will pour My spirit upon your descendants, and My blessing upon your offspring.

כִּ֤י אֶצָּק־מַ֙יִם֙ עַל־צָמֵ֔א וְנֹזְלִ֖ים עַל־יַבָּשָׁ֑ה אֶצֹּ֤ק רוּחִי֙ עַל־זַרְעֶ֔ךָ וּבִרְכָתִ֖י עַל־צֶאֱצָאֶֽיךָ׃

Verses 44:6-8: God’s eternal people, Israel, must never fear idolators since Israelites are His “witnesses” that He alone controls the world.

Isaiah 44:8

Fear not, nor be afraid! Have I not told your thee from then [i.e., long ago] and declared it? You are My witnesses! Is there a God beside me? There is no [other] rock [e.g., god, that] I do not know.

אַֽל־תִּפְחֲדוּ֙ וְאַל־תִּרְה֔וּ הֲלֹ֥א מֵאָ֛ז הִשְׁמַעְתִּ֥יךָ וְהִגַּ֖דְתִּי וְאַתֶּ֣ם עֵדָ֑י הֲיֵ֤שׁ אֱל֙וֹהַּ֙ מִבַּלְעָדַ֔י וְאֵ֥ין צ֖וּר בַּל־יָדָֽעְתִּי

Verses 44:9-20: Idol worshippers engage in ineffective spirituality and intellectual folly.

Isaiah 44:9

All the idol makers are a void, their delights do not profit, their witnesses [i.e., idols] neither see nor know - they should be ashamed.

 יֹֽצְרֵי־פֶ֤סֶל כֻּלָּם֙ תֹּ֔הוּ וַחֲמוּדֵיהֶ֖ם בַּל־יוֹעִ֑ילוּ וְעֵדֵיהֶ֣ם הֵׄ֗מָּׄהׄ בַּל־יִרְא֛וּ וּבַל־יֵדְע֖וּ לְמַ֥עַן יֵבֹֽשׁוּ׃

Verses 44:21-23: Remembering this folly, Israel will remain firmly in their Creator’s service. All Creation will rejoice when they return to Him and He redeems them.

Isaiah 44:23

Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it! Shout, O lower parts of the earth! Break forth into singing, O mountains; O forest, and every tree in it! For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and glorifies himself in Israel!

רָנּ֨וּ שָׁמַ֜יִם כִּֽי־עָשָׂ֣ה יְהוָ֗ה הָרִ֙יעוּ֙ תַּחְתִּיּ֣וֹת אָ֔רֶץ פִּצְח֤וּ הָרִים֙ רִנָּ֔ה יַ֖עַר וְכָל־עֵ֣ץ בּ֑וֹ כִּֽי־גָאַ֤ל ה' יַֽעֲקֹ֔ב וּבְיִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל יִתְפָּאָֽר׃


The central blessing of the Yom Kippur Amidah cites many verses from the Haftarah.

Yom Kippur Machzor, Musaf, Amidah, Sanctification of the Day

מחזור ליום כיפור, מוסף, עמידה, קדושת היום

Our God and God of our forefathers: pardon our iniquities on this Yom Kippur; wipe away and remove all our transgressions and sins from before Your eyes, as it is said: “I, I, am he who blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25) And it is said: “I have wiped away, like mist, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins; return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” (ibid. 44:22)

אלוקינו ואלוקי אבותינו, מחול לעוונותינו ביום הכיפורים הזה, מחה והעבר פשענו וחטאתנו מנגד עיניך, כאמור (ישעיהו מג, כה): אָנֹכִי אָנֹכִי הוּא מֹחֶה פְשָׁעֶיךָ לְמַעֲנִי וְחַטֹּאתֶיךָ לֹא אֶזְכֹּר, ונאמר (שם מד, כב): מָחִיתִי כָעָב פְּשָׁעֶיךָ וְכֶעָנָן חַטֹּאותֶיךָ שׁוּבָה אֵלַי כִּי גְאַלְתִּיךָ

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