The Branch From Jesse

Isa 11:1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
Isa 11:2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD—
Isa 11:3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
Isa 11:4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Isa 11:5 Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

Isa 11:6 The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
Isa 11:7 The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
Isa 11:8 The infant will play near the hole of the cobra,
and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest.
Isa 11:9 They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.

Isa 11:10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. 11 In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea.

The Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant – ‘The first reaching out (v. 11) was presumably that at the exodus (cf. Isa 10:24, 26; 11:15–16). The second reaching out is then a “second exodus.” There has not been one particular moment when all the people of Israel have been brought back to Palestine from the four corners of the world, as is evidenced by the fact that most of the Jewish people do not live there. But the fall of Babylon, Assyria’s imperial successors, freed them to return, and subsequent periods of freedom and flourishing in the land have witnessed to God’s faithfulness to this promise.’ (Goldingay, UBCS)

Thomas notes that a first return is implied, and suggests that this would refer to the Exodus.  This second return would happen in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Isa 11:12 He will raise a banner for the nations
and gather the exiles of Israel;
he will assemble the scattered people of Judah
from the four quarters of the earth.

This passage (Isa 11:11-16), along with Isa 2:1-4, is used by Christian Friends of Israel to support the following article of faith:-

‘We believe that the restoration of the Jewish people to the land of Israel is a fulfillment of the prophetic Scriptures of the Old Testament, and that the restored nation of Israel has a predominant role to play in the final purposes of God among the nations.’

It is of interest that of nine articles of faith, this is the only one that appeals for support only to passages from the OT.

Derek Thomas notes that v11f has been thought to refer, firstly, to the restoration of the Jews to Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel on 14th May 1948, and then to a future gathering at the time of Christ’s return.  He comments that this interpretation fails by being inconsistently literalistic: ‘Verse 14 mentions the subjugation of the Philistines, Edomites, Moabites and the Ammonites. That this did indeed take place during the time of the Maccabees is clear from history, but any belief that this has any reference to the twentieth century is ill-informed for the simple reason that the Philistines, Edomites, Moabites and Ammonites do not exist any more.’

Of this passage and others that speak of the restoration of Israel (e.g. Jer. 23:3–6; Amos 9:11–15; Micah 4:1–4; Zech. 14:1–9, 16–21), Thomas says that ‘All these passages seem to predict that Israel will once again be gathered in the land of Canaan and enjoy a time of blessing and prosperity. Since these have not yet been fulfilled, some (dispensationalists) expect their fulfilment during the millennium. This all seems unlikely. It is true that Isaiah 11:11 refers to a second recovery, but the context makes clear that here the first refers to the exodus in the time of Moses. The second therefore refers to the return from Babylonian exile in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.’

Isa 11:13 Ephraim’s jealousy will vanish,
and Judah’s enemies will be cut off;
Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah,
nor Judah hostile toward Ephraim.
Isa 11:14 They will swoop down on the slopes of Philistia to the west;
together they will plunder the people to the east.
They will lay hands on Edom and Moab,
and the Ammonites will be subject to them.
Isa 11:15 The LORD will dry up
the gulf of the Egyptian sea;
with a scorching wind he will sweep his hand
over the Euphrates River.
He will break it up into seven streams
so that men can cross over in sandals.
Isa 11:16 There will be a highway for the remnant of his people
that is left from Assyria,
as there was for Israel
when they came up from Egypt.