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The Land and Its People Are Transformed

35 Let the wilderness and desert be happy;[a]
let the arid rift valley[b] rejoice and bloom like a lily!
Let it richly bloom;[c]
let it rejoice and shout with delight![d]
It is given the grandeur[e] of Lebanon,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the grandeur of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that have gone limp,
steady the knees that shake.[f]
Tell those who panic,[g]
“Be strong! Do not fear!
Look, your God comes to avenge;
with divine retribution he comes to deliver you.”[h]
Then blind eyes will open,
deaf ears will hear.
Then the lame will leap like a deer,
the mute tongue will shout for joy;
for water will burst forth in the wilderness,
streams in the arid rift valley.[i]
The dry soil will become a pool of water,
the parched ground springs of water.
Where jackals once lived and sprawled out,
grass, reeds, and papyrus will grow.
A thoroughfare will be there—
it will be called the Way of Holiness.[j]
The unclean will not travel on it;
it is reserved for those authorized to use it[k]
fools[l] will not stray into it.
No lions will be there,
no ferocious wild animals will be on it[m]
they will not be found there.
Those delivered from bondage will travel on it,
10 those whom the Lord has ransomed will return that way.[n]
They will enter Zion with a happy shout.
Unending joy will crown them,[o]
happiness and joy will overwhelm[p] them;
grief and suffering will disappear.[q]


  1. Isaiah 35:1 tn The final mem (ם) on the verb יְשֻׂשׂוּם (yesusum) is dittographic (note the initial mem on the following noun מִדְבָּר [midbar]). The ambiguous verbal form is translated as a jussive because it is parallel to the jussive form תָגֵל (tagel). The jussive is used rhetorically here, not as a literal command or prayer.
  2. Isaiah 35:1 tn This verse employs three terms for desolate paces: מִדְבָּר (midbar, “wilderness”), צִיָּה (tsiyyah, “dry place, desert”), and עֲרָבָה (ʿaravah, “rift valley”). A midbar is an area that receives less than twelve inches of rain per year. It may have some pasturage (if receiving six to twelve inches of rain), but often has desert-like qualities. A tsiyyah is not a sandy desert per se, but of the three terms most clearly indicates a dry, desert region. The rift valley includes the Jordan Valley, but it still has a reputation as a dry, desolate place from its conditions near the Dead Sea and southward.
  3. Isaiah 35:2 tn The ambiguous verb form תִּפְרַח (tifrakh) is translated as a jussive because it is parallel to the jussive form תָגֵל (tagel).
  4. Isaiah 35:2 tn Heb “and let it rejoice, yes [with] rejoicing and shouting.” גִּילַת (gilat) may be an archaic feminine nominal form (see GKC 421 §130.b).
  5. Isaiah 35:2 tn Or “glory” (KJV, NIV, NRSV); also a second time later in this verse.
  6. Isaiah 35:3 tn Heb “staggering knees”; KJV, ASV, NRSV “feeble knees”; NIV “knees that give way.”
  7. Isaiah 35:4 tn Heb “Say to the hasty of heart,” i.e., those whose hearts beat quickly from fear.
  8. Isaiah 35:4 tn The jussive form וְיֹשַׁעֲכֶם (veyoshaʿakhem), which is subordinated to the preceding imperfect with vav conjunctive, indicates purpose.
  9. Isaiah 35:6 tn The rift valley (עֲרָבָה, ʿaravah) extends from Galilee to the Gulf of Aqaba. Near the Dead Sea and southward its conditions are very dry and desolate. Other translations render it as “desert” (KJV, NIV, NRSV), “wastelands” (NLT), or by its Hebrew name, “the Arabah” (NASB).
  10. Isaiah 35:8 tc The Hebrew text reads literally, “and there will be there a road and a way, and the Way of Holiness it will be called.” וְדֶרֶךְ (vederekh, “and a/the way”) is accidentally duplicated; the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa does not reflect the repetition of the phrase.
  11. Isaiah 35:8 tn The precise meaning of this line is uncertain. The text reads literally “and it is for them, the one who walks [on the] way.” In this context those authorized to use the Way of Holiness would be morally upright people who are the recipients of God’s deliverance, in contrast to the morally impure and foolish who are excluded from the new covenant community.
  12. Isaiah 35:8 tn In this context “fools” are those who are morally corrupt, not those with limited intellectual capacity.
  13. Isaiah 35:9 tn Heb “will go up on it”; TEV “will pass that way.”
  14. Isaiah 35:10 tn Heb “and the redeemed will walk, the ransomed of the Lord will return.”
  15. Isaiah 35:10 tn Heb “[will be] on their head[s].” “Joy” may be likened here to a crown (cf. 2 Sam 1:10). The statement may also be an ironic twist on the idiom “earth/dust on the head” (cf. 2 Sam 1:2; 13:19; 15:32; Job 2:12), referring to a mourning practice.
  16. Isaiah 35:10 tn Heb “will overtake” (NIV); NLT “they will be overcome with.”
  17. Isaiah 35:10 tn Heb “grief and groaning will flee”; KJV “sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”