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Chapter 66

True and False Worship

    [a]Thus says the Lord:
The heavens are my throne,
    the earth, my footstool.
What house can you build for me?
    Where is the place of my rest?(A)
My hand made all these things
    when all of them came to be—oracle of the Lord.
This is the one whom I approve:
    the afflicted one, crushed in spirit,
    who trembles at my word.(B)
[b]The one slaughtering an ox, striking a man,
    sacrificing a lamb, breaking a dog’s neck,
Making an offering of pig’s blood,
    burning incense, honoring an idol—
These have chosen their own ways,
    and taken pleasure in their own abominations.(C)
I in turn will choose affliction for them
    and bring upon them what they fear.
Because when I called, no one answered,
    when I spoke, no one listened.
Because they did what was evil in my sight,
    and things I do not delight in they chose,(D)
Hear the word of the Lord,
    you who tremble at his word!
Your kin who hate you
    and cast you out because of my name say,
“May the Lord show his glory,
    that we may see your joy”;
    but they shall be put to shame.
A voice roaring from the city,
    a voice from the temple;
The voice of the Lord
    rendering recompense to his enemies!(E)

Blessings of Prosperity and Consolation

[c]Before she is in labor,
    she gives birth;(F)
Before her pangs come upon her,
    she delivers a male child.
Who ever heard of such a thing,
    or who ever saw the like?
Can a land be brought forth in one day,
    or a nation be born in a single moment?
Yet Zion was scarcely in labor
    when she bore her children.
Shall I bring a mother to the point of birth,
    and yet not let her child be born? says the Lord.
Or shall I who bring to birth
    yet close her womb? says your God.
10 [d]Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad because of her,
    all you who love her;
Rejoice with her in her joy,
    all you who mourn over her—(G)
11 So that you may nurse and be satisfied
    from her consoling breast;
That you may drink with delight
    at her abundant breasts!
12     For thus says the Lord:
I will spread prosperity over her like a river,
    like an overflowing torrent,
    the wealth of nations.
You shall nurse, carried in her arms,
    cradled upon her knees;
13 As a mother comforts her child,
    so I will comfort you;
    in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.(H)
14 You will see and your heart shall exult,
    and your bodies shall flourish like the grass;
The Lord’s power shall be revealed to his servants,
    but to his enemies, his wrath.
15 For see, the Lord will come in fire,
    his chariots like the stormwind;
To wreak his anger in burning rage
    and his rebuke in fiery flames.
16 For with fire the Lord shall enter into judgment,
    and, with his sword, against all flesh;
    Those slain by the Lord shall be many.(I)

17 [e]Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one who stands within, eating pig’s flesh, abominable things, and mice, shall all together come to an end, with their deeds and purposes—oracle of the Lord.

God Gathers the Nations. 18 [f]I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; they shall come and see my glory.(J) 19 I will place a sign among them; from them I will send survivors to the nations: to Tarshish, Put and Lud, Mosoch, Tubal and Javan, to the distant coastlands which have never heard of my fame, or seen my glory; and they shall proclaim my glory among the nations. 20 They shall bring all your kin from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, on horses and in chariots, in carts, upon mules and dromedaries, to Jerusalem, my holy mountain, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. 21 Some of these I will take as priests and Levites, says the Lord.

22 Just as the new heavens and the new earth
    which I am making
Shall endure before me—oracle of the Lord
    so shall your descendants and your name endure.(K)
23 From new moon to new moon,
    and from sabbath to sabbath,
All flesh shall come to worship
    before me, says the Lord.(L)
24 [g]They shall go out and see the corpses(M)
    of the people who rebelled against me;
For their worm shall not die,
    their fire shall not be extinguished;
    and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.


  1. 66:1–2 The Lord rejects the abuses associated with Temple worship in order to emphasize his concern for the sincere worshiper.
  2. 66:3–6 The sacrificial abuses listed will only merit punishment. The true worshipers, the downtrodden, are those who “tremble” (vv. 2, 5) at God’s word. Although they are ridiculed by those who reject them (v. 5), the latter will be afflicted with divine punishment; their “choice” will be met by the Lord’s choice (v. 4).
  3. 66:7–9 The renewal of Zion is pictured in terms of a miraculous, instantaneous birth, facilitated by God’s intervention.
  4. 66:10–16 The poet addresses the children born of Jerusalem, their mother. In v. 13 the metaphor switches to the Lord as mother (cf. 49:15), comforting her charges but destroying the enemies.
  5. 66:17 This verse seems to have some connection with 65:2–3.
  6. 66:18–21 God summons the neighboring nations to Zion and from among them will send some to far distant lands to proclaim the divine glory. All your kin: Jews in exile. The “gathering of the people and the nations” is an eschatological motif common in the prophetic tradition; cf. 56:8.
  7. 66:24 God’s enemies lie dead outside the walls of the New Jerusalem; just as in the past, corpses, filth and refuse lay in the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) outside the city; cf. 34:1–4; 2 Kgs 23:10.

Judgment and Hope

66 This is what the Lord says:

“Heaven is my throne,(A)
    and the earth is my footstool.(B)
Where is the house(C) you will build for me?
    Where will my resting place be?
Has not my hand made all these things,(D)
    and so they came into being?”
declares the Lord.

“These are the ones I look on with favor:
    those who are humble and contrite in spirit,(E)
    and who tremble at my word.(F)
But whoever sacrifices a bull(G)
    is like one who kills a person,
and whoever offers a lamb
    is like one who breaks a dog’s neck;
whoever makes a grain offering
    is like one who presents pig’s(H) blood,
and whoever burns memorial incense(I)
    is like one who worships an idol.
They have chosen their own ways,(J)
    and they delight in their abominations;(K)
so I also will choose harsh treatment for them
    and will bring on them what they dread.(L)
For when I called, no one answered,(M)
    when I spoke, no one listened.
They did evil(N) in my sight
    and chose what displeases me.”(O)

Hear the word of the Lord,
    you who tremble at his word:(P)
“Your own people who hate(Q) you,
    and exclude you because of my name, have said,
‘Let the Lord be glorified,
    that we may see your joy!’
    Yet they will be put to shame.(R)
Hear that uproar from the city,
    hear that noise from the temple!
It is the sound(S) of the Lord
    repaying(T) his enemies all they deserve.

“Before she goes into labor,(U)
    she gives birth;
before the pains come upon her,
    she delivers a son.(V)
Who has ever heard of such things?
    Who has ever seen(W) things like this?
Can a country be born in a day(X)
    or a nation be brought forth in a moment?
Yet no sooner is Zion in labor
    than she gives birth to her children.(Y)
Do I bring to the moment of birth(Z)
    and not give delivery?” says the Lord.
“Do I close up the womb
    when I bring to delivery?” says your God.
10 “Rejoice(AA) with Jerusalem and be glad for her,
    all you who love(AB) her;
rejoice greatly with her,
    all you who mourn(AC) over her.
11 For you will nurse(AD) and be satisfied
    at her comforting breasts;(AE)
you will drink deeply
    and delight in her overflowing abundance.”(AF)

12 For this is what the Lord says:

“I will extend peace(AG) to her like a river,(AH)
    and the wealth(AI) of nations like a flooding stream;
you will nurse and be carried(AJ) on her arm
    and dandled on her knees.
13 As a mother comforts her child,(AK)
    so will I comfort(AL) you;
    and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

14 When you see this, your heart will rejoice(AM)
    and you will flourish(AN) like grass;
the hand(AO) of the Lord will be made known to his servants,(AP)
    but his fury(AQ) will be shown to his foes.
15 See, the Lord is coming with fire,(AR)
    and his chariots(AS) are like a whirlwind;(AT)
he will bring down his anger with fury,
    and his rebuke(AU) with flames of fire.
16 For with fire(AV) and with his sword(AW)
    the Lord will execute judgment(AX) on all people,
    and many will be those slain(AY) by the Lord.

17 “Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens,(AZ) following one who is among those who eat the flesh of pigs,(BA) rats(BB) and other unclean things—they will meet their end(BC) together with the one they follow,” declares the Lord.

18 “And I, because of what they have planned and done,(BD) am about to come[a] and gather the people of all nations(BE) and languages, and they will come and see my glory.(BF)

19 “I will set a sign(BG) among them, and I will send some of those who survive(BH) to the nations—to Tarshish,(BI) to the Libyans[b] and Lydians(BJ) (famous as archers), to Tubal(BK) and Greece,(BL) and to the distant islands(BM) that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory.(BN) They will proclaim my glory among the nations. 20 And they will bring(BO) all your people, from all the nations, to my holy mountain(BP) in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord—on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,”(BQ) says the Lord. “They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the Lord in ceremonially clean vessels.(BR) 21 And I will select some of them also to be priests(BS) and Levites,” says the Lord.

22 “As the new heavens and the new earth(BT) that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure.(BU) 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath(BV) to another, all mankind will come and bow down(BW) before me,” says the Lord. 24 “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies(BX) of those who rebelled(BY) against me; the worms(BZ) that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched,(CA) and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”


  1. Isaiah 66:18 The meaning of the Hebrew for this clause is uncertain.
  2. Isaiah 66:19 Some Septuagint manuscripts Put (Libyans); Hebrew Pul