Isaiah 4:2-6 Commentary

To go directly to that verse

Isaiah 4:2 In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel. (NASB: Lockman)

English Translation of the Septuagint: And in that day God shall shine gloriously in counsel on the earth, to exalt and glorify the remnant of Israel.

Amplified: In that day the Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be excellent and lovely to those of Israel who have escaped. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

BBE: In that day will the young growth of the Lord be beautiful in glory, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride of those who are still living in Israel.

ESV: In that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel. (ESV)

KJV: In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.

NET: At that time the crops given by the Lord will bring admiration and honor; the produce of the land will be a source of pride and delight to those who remain in Israel. (NET Bible)

NLT: But in that day, the branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious; the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory (NLT - Tyndale House)

Young's Literal: In that day is the Shoot of Jehovah for desire and for honor, And the fruit of the earth For excellence and for beauty to the escaped of Israel.

In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious:

  • the branch. Isa 11:1, 60:21 Jer 23:5, 33:15-commentary Ezek 17:22,23 Zec 3:8; 6:12
  • beautiful and glorious. Heb. beauty and glory. Ex 28:2 Zec 9:17 Jn 1:14 2Co 4:6 2Pe 1:16)


Prophetic passage - Isaiah 4:2-6 describes the future Messianic Age or Millennium and the Messiah's Reign

In the midst of wrath (as described in the preceding passages in Isaiah), God remembers mercy in the form of the merciful One, the Messiah, the Branch of Jehovah. This is a "gutter to glory" transition - From the "gutter" of the preceding descriptions of Israel under judgment, Isaiah moves to a description of the glory of the Glorious One. It is fascinating (and it should be encouraging) to see how Isaiah often transitions from judgment passages to messages of hope and comfort throughout this book. What a merciful God we serve for as the Psalmist rightly said…

If Thou, LORD, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? (Ps 130:3-note)

And then he went to praise God adding these wonderful words…

But (one of those many great contrasts in the Bible) there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared. (Ps 130:4-note)

Pastor Chuck Smith entitles this chapter Vision of the Coming Kingdom and says that…

Isaiah 4:2-6 Speaks of Jesus' righteous reign upon the earth in the future (Zech 3:8).

A C Gaebelein entitles the chapter…

Zion's Future Cleansing and Glory…

Israel regathered and cleansed (Isa 4:2, 3, 4)

Jehovah's visible glory revealed (Isa 4:5, 6)

The Branch of the Lord (Jehovah) is the Lord Jesus Christ. After judgment has been executed cleansing is promised and glory is established on Mount Zion. (Commentary on Isaiah - by A C Gaebelein - Annotated Bible)

Matthew Henry aptly describes the hopeful words of Isaiah…

By the foregoing threatenings Jerusalem is brought into a very deplorable condition: every thing looks melancholy. But here the sun breaks out from behind the cloud. Many exceedingly great and precious promises we have in these verses, giving assurance of comfort which may be discerned through the troubles, and of happy days which shall come after them, and these certainly point at the kingdom of the Messiah, and the great redemption to be wrought out by him

Unfortunately that is where Henry's accuracy leaves off, for as he so often does in Isaiah's prophecy, he applies these truths to the church when they are clearly addressed to Israel (at a time when the church is still a complete mystery). He writes (incorrectly in my opinion) that "the kingdom of the Messiah shall be set up; and then shall be the reviving of the church" despite the fact that this section repeatedly mentions distinctly Jewish names ("survivors of Israel… Zion… Jerusalem (twice)… daughters of Zion… bloodshed of Jerusalem… Mount Zion")

Even older commentaries (Keil lived from Feb 26, 1807 to May 5, 1888) like Keil and Delitzsch agree that Isaiah is not addressing "the church" (New Testament church) writing…

The four epithets of glory, which are here grouped in pairs, strengthen our expectation, that now that the mass of Israel has been swept away, together with the objects of its worthless pride, we shall find a description of what will become an object of well-grounded pride to the "escaped of Israel," i.e., to the remnant that has survived the judgment, and been saved from destruction. But with this interpretation of the promise it is impossible that it can be the church of the future itself, which is here called the "sprout of Jehovah" and "fruit of the land," as Luzzatto and Malbim suppose

William Kelly (1821-1906 - Plymouth Brethren) adds that…

Vitringa's application of the spirit of judgment and that of destruction to the Holy Spirit guiding the ruler and ministers of the church in discrimination, is the old source of endless error - the turning aside of Jewish scripture to an essentially Christian object. (Isaiah 1-39 Expositional Commentary)

In that day - 40v in Isaiah (out of 258 uses) -

Isa 2:11, 17, 20; 3:7, 18; 4:1, 2; 5:30; 7:18, 20f, 23; 10:20, 27; 11:10, 16; 12:4; 17:4, 7, 9, 11; 19:16, 18f, 21, 23f; 20:6; 22:8, 12, 20, 25; 23:15; 24:21; 25:9; 26:1; 27:1f, 12f; 28:5; 30:23; 31:7; 39:6; 52:6; 58:2; 60:11; 65:5

J Vernon McGee

"In that day" refers to the Day of the Lord. This phrase will occur again and again in Isaiah (and in all the prophets), and it will be mentioned in the New Testament. Joel particularly will have something to say about it. It begins as every Hebrew day always begins -- at sundown. It begins with darkness and moves to the dawn. It begins with the Great Tribulation and goes on into the millennial Kingdom.

John Martin comments…

In spite of the coming severe judgment, divine blessing would eventually come. Sometimes the phrase in that day refers to the Babylonian attack on Jerusalem (e.g., Is 3:7, 18; 4:1), but here (see the statements in Is 4:2, 5) as in Is 2:11, 12, 17 it means the millennial reign of Christ. (Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., et al: The Bible Knowledge Commentary. 1985. Victor)

John Walvoord writes that…

The expression in that day sometimes referred to the contemporary scene, sometimes to the future Millennium, as determined by the context. In Isaiah 4:2, 3, 4, 5, 6 the beauty of the millennial reign was described, “In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem” (Is 4:2, 3).(Walvoord, J. F. The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books)

In that day equates with that aspect of the Day of the LORD which includes the one thousand year reign of Christ or the Millennium. As discussed earlier, the Day of the LORD is not a single day but an extended period of time that ends with the passing away of the present heavens and earth (after the Millennium which will take place on the present earth), for Peter says that…

the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. (2Pe 3:10-note)

Comment: Compare Revelation 20:11 (note) where John records an "unusual time" when "no place was found for" the earth and heaven, these entities having "fled away" from the Great White Throne judgment site.

Skinner writing in 1897 interpreted this passage as a "picture of the glorious messianic age". (The Book of Prophet Isaiah - Online)


The Branch of the LORD ("the Sprout of Jehovah") - This is a title of the Messiah Who came as a "shoot" from the seeming dead stump of David's dynasty (Isa 11:1; cp Isa 53:2 - describes the humble, unimpressive beginnings of the "Branch"). The famous Jewish Rabbi David Kimchi interpreted this phrase as "The Messiah, the Son of David." Below are other OT prophetic passages that refer to the Messiah as the Branch

Behold, the days are coming,” (in Daniel's Seventieth Week and specifically at the end of the Great Tribulation and inauguration of the Millennium) declares the Lord, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land (Note: The phrase "the land" - in Scripture this most often refers to "the land" of Israel, although of course when He returns as King of kings [Re 19:16-note], He will reign over all the land of earth! Maranatha!). (Jeremiah 23:5).

In those days (see context = Je 33:14) and at that time (see note in preceding verse) I will cause a righteous Branch (tsemach) of David to spring forth (tsamach - the root verb of tsemach = Branch); and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth (Note: Because of His literal presence in the city, Jerusalem will be called "the LORD is our righteousness"! Je 33:16 Messiah's reign also fulfills the unconditional promise in the Davidic Covenant [2Sa 16] of an eternal kingdom - Je 33:17). (Jeremiah 33:15-commentary).

Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you—indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch. (Zec 3:8).

Then say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the Lord. (Zechariah 6:12).

Ryrie Comments: Zech 6:12, 13 The crowning of Joshua foreshadowed the crowning of Messiah, who at His second coming will build the (millennial) temple and unite the offices of King and Priest in one Person, like Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18, 19, 20). (The Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Translation: 1995. Moody Publishers)

MacArthur comments that…

The thought behind the title relates to 2Samuel 23:5 (Ed: where "everlasting covenant" = Davidic Covenant - 2Sa 7:12, 13, 14, 15, 16), that of growth. The life of the Branch will bear spiritual fruit (cf. Jn 15:4,5). (MacArthur, J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word)

Matthew Henry comments that Christ…

is the branch of the Lord, the man the branch; it is one of his prophetical names, my servant the branch (Zech. 3:8; 6:12), the branch of righteousness (Jer. 23:5; 33:15), a rod out of the stem of Jesse and a branch out of his roots (Is 11:1), and this, as some think, is alluded to when he is called a Nazarene, Mt. 2:23. Here he is called the branch of the Lord, because planted by his power and flourishing to his praise.

Branch (06780) (tsemach/semah from the verb tsamach = spring forth) masculine noun meaning a branch, a growth, a crop. It refers to what grows on the ground, domesticated or wild (Ge 19:25; Ps. 65:1; Isa. 61:11). Tsemach refers to Jerusalem (Ezek. 16:7). It refers to grain on the stalks (Hos. 8:7). The most significant theological meaning is five times tsemach refers to Messiah as the Branch (Isa 4:2, Jer 23:5, Jer 33:15-commentary, Zech 3:8, Zech 6:12).

Walter Kaiser comments on the noun tsemach and the verb - The first writer to take up the thought of 2Sa 23:5 and use the root smh as a noun to designate the Messiah is Isaiah (Isa 4:2). Many deny that Isaiah is referring to the Messiah when he speaks of “the Branch or Shoot of Yahweh” because it is paralleled by the expression “the fruit of the earth.” Therefore, Isa 4:2 is simply a reference to the agricultural prosperity of the land. But this view fails to notice that both of these expressions are elsewhere messianic. It also neglects to account for the unusual limitation of this fruitfulness “in that day”; the fruitfulness is for the survivors of Israel. Furthermore, they overlook the progressive nature of revelation, for certainly 2Sa 23:5 and perhaps Ps 132:17 are controlling ideas when we come to the eighth century B.C. Thus the “Sprout of Yahweh” (or as clarified by the cognate studies, “the son of Yahweh”) is an obvious reference to the divine nature of the tsemach. Yet his human nature is also in view, for he is “the Offspring or Fruit of the Earth.” In Jer 23:5–6 and Jer 33:15–16, He is “the Righteous Branch [or Sprout)” raised up for David to reign as King. While focusing on His human, but regal nature, this passage also stresses His deity by calling Him “the Lord our Righteousness.” Note that the context of both passages is the promise that Israel will return to the land. Even more pointedly, Jer 33:19–26 sets the tsemach promise in line with God’s previous promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the Levite priests, and David! Zechariah 3:8 pictures the Branch (tsemach) as the Lord’s Servant. No doubt the allusion is to Isaiah’s archetypal statements concerning Yah-weh’s Servant, Jesus Christ. In Zech 6:12 the prophet proclaims, “Behold the Man” who is “a priest on his throne,” a ruler, a counselor of peace, whose name is Branch. Zechariah sees the high priest Joshua as a type of the promise, but only a pledge of God’s future fulfillment in Jesus Christ. The Dead Sea Scrolls use the phrase tsemah dāwîd as a Messianic term in explanation of the Davidic covenant of 2Sa 7:14 (JBL 77:353). The NT makes at least two references to this messianic title “Branch” using the LXX translation of the root smh: anatolē and anatellō. Hebrews 7:14 is to be translated “our Lord sprang forth (or sprouted - anatello in perfect tense) from Judah.” But in Luke 1:78KJV with its anatolē ex hypsous ("the Dayspring from on high hath visited us") the equation of tsemach YHWH is complete. Therefore we translate the verse, “Because of the tender mercy of our God by which the Branch from on High shall visit us.” The only change needed is to convert the term “height” into the divine name and the OT expression appears again. Additional evidence for this Messianic concept may be found in netser/neser “branch” and hōter “shoot” (Isa 11:1) and yônēq “young plant” and šōresh “root” (Isa 53:2). (TWOT)

Tsemach/semah - 12x in 12v -  Branch(5), growth(1), heads(1), plants(1), sprouting(1), sprouts(1), what grew(1), where it grew(1).

Genesis 19:25  and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
Psalm 65:10  You water its furrows abundantly, You settle its ridges, You soften it with showers, You bless its growth.
Isaiah 4:2  In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel.
Isaiah 61:11  For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, And as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise To spring up before all the nations.
Jeremiah 23:5  "Behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land.
Jeremiah 33:15-commentary  'In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth.
Ezekiel 16:7  "I made you numerous like plants of the field. Then you grew up, became tall and reached the age for fine ornaments; your breasts were formed and your hair had grown. Yet you were naked and bare.
Ezekiel 17:9  "Say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Will it thrive? Will he not pull up its roots and cut off its fruit, so that it withers-- so that all its sprouting leaves wither? And neither by great strength nor by many people can it be raised from its roots again.
Ezekiel 17:10  "Behold, though it is planted, will it thrive? Will it not completely wither as soon as the east wind strikes it-- wither on the beds where it grew?"'"
Hosea 8:7  For they sow the wind And they reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no heads; It yields no grain. Should it yield, strangers would swallow it up.
Zechariah 3:8  'Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you-- indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch.
Zechariah 6:12  "Then say to him, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the LORD.

Sprout (06779)(tsamach) means to grow, to sprout, to "spring forth"  as in Isa 43:19 - here are other passages that use tsamach - 2Sa 23:5 ( These are some of the last words of David = "Truly is not my house so with God? For He has made an everlasting covenant with me [Davidic Covenant], Ordered in all things, and secured; For all my salvation and all my desire, Will He not indeed make it grow?) 

Tsamach refers to a plant as it breaks forth out of the ground (Ge. 2:5, 9); or to trees as they grow from the ground (Ex. 10:5). Both God and the ground cause plants, trees, etc. to sprout (Ge. 3:18). Tsamach describe Samson's hair beginning to grow (Jdg 16:22-note; cf 2 Sa 10:5).

Tsamach is used in figurative expressions:

  • "trouble sprout from the ground" (Job 5:6);
  • of the good man's offspring = " out of the dust others will spring" (Job 8:19);
  • "Truth springs from the earth" (Ps. 85:11);
  • " I will cause the horn of David to spring forth" = of the sprouting of the line of kings from David (Ps 132:17; cf Jer. 33:15; Ezek. 29:21; Zech. 6:12);
  • "Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you" = springing forth of new things ordained by God (Isa. 42:9; 43:19);
  • of Israel growing up as a child (Ezek. 16:7).

Tsamach has Messianic overtones (some but not all are in the verses that follow)

Ps 132:17, Is 42:9, Isa 43:19, Isa 44:4, Isa 45:8, Isa 55:10, Isa 58:8, Isa 61:11, Jer 33:15, Ezek 29:21 Zec 6:12

Here are some other interesting uses of tsamach...

Psalm 132:17 "There I will cause the horn of David to spring forth; I have prepared a lamp for Mine anointed (mashiach)."

Comment - Some (e.g., NET Bible and Notes) think this refers to power (military strength) of David's kingdom, but in context it seems much more likely to refers to the Messiah God's Anointed One!

Isaiah 44:4 And they will spring up among the grass Like poplars by streams of water.'

Comment - Who is they? Isa 44:1 "Jacob, My servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen." In context this is a prophecy directed to literal Israel and it will be fully fulfilled when Messiah returns, for Isa 44:3 says " I will pour out My Spirit on your (Who in context? the nation of Israel's) offspring, and My blessing on your descendants." While some Jews have been saved and had the Spirit "poured" out on them, this prophecy has not be completely fulfilled, for this has not happened to the nation as it will in the end times.

Bible Knowledge Commentary - This outpouring of the Spirit will occur when the people have returned in belief to the land (cf. Ezek. 36:24, 27; Joel 2:25–29) just after the Messiah’s second coming to establish the Millennium.

Isaiah 58:8 "Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

John MacArthur - When Israel learned the proper way to fast, she would enjoy the blessings of salvation and the Messiah’s kingdom (Isa 52:12) (Ed: In the Millennium).

Isaiah 61:11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts (noun form tsemach - -6780), And as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up (literal), So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up (figurative) before all the nations.

Comment - This passage also describes an end times scenario. How can we be sure? Note the phrase "praise to spring up before all the nations" something that has not yet occurred nor it will until the Desire of the Nations Messiah returns to reign and rule.

Ezekiel 29:21 "On that day I will make a horn sprout for the house of Israel, and I will open your mouth in their midst. Then they will know that I am the LORD."

Comment - What day? This is not clear from the context, and there are a number of commentaries who feel this describes the restoration of Israel in the end times. The NLT reads "And the day will come when I will cause the ancient glory of Israel to revive, and then, Ezekiel, your words will be respected. Then they will know that I am the LORD." The phrase "they will know that I am the LORD" is found 26x in the OT all in Ezekiel and some refer to the time of Ezekiel (Ezek 33:29) but others are in the context of end times (Ezek 34:27 where "secure in the their [Israel's] land" = not been fulfilled! cp Ezek 36:38, 38:23, 39:6, 28). The point is that this phrase in Ezek 29:21 could support an end times fulfillment. However it is best to not be dogmatic.

Zechariah 6:12 "Then say to him, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out (tsamach) from where He is; and He will build the temple of the LORD.

Comment - This passage clearly uses tsamach to describe the Messiah Who will rebuild the Millennial Temple (Ezekiel 40:1-48:35)

Tsamach - 36x in 32v in OT -  branch(1), grow(8), growing(1), grown(2), spring(5), spring forth(5), springs(1), sprout(4), sprouted(4), sprouts(1), unproductive*(1).

Ge 2:5, 9; 3:18; 41:6, 23; Ex 10:5; Lev 13:37; Deut 29:23; Judg 16:22; 2 Sam 10:5; 23:5; 1 Chr 19:5; Job 5:6; 8:19; 38:27; Ps 85:11; 104:14; 132:17; 147:8; Eccl 2:6; Isa 42:9; 43:19; 44:4; 45:8; 55:10; 58:8; 61:11; Jer 33:15; Ezek 16:7; 17:6; 29:21; Zech 6:12

Gilbrant on the verb tsamach - meaning "to sprout" or "to grow." 

The Qal stem occurs fifteen times, usually referring to the sprouting or growing of various kinds of plants. Thus, plants and herbs sprout (Gen. 2:5); trees sprout (Exo. 10:5; Ezek. 17:6), as well as whole forests (Ecc. 2:6); ears of grain sprout (Gen. 41:6, 23); and even hair sprouts (Lev. 13:37). Figuratively, tsāmach refers to a hypocrite sprouting up (Job 8:19), to trouble sprouting from the ground (Job 5:6) and to truth springing up from the ground (Ps. 85:11).

Theologically, tsāmach refers to foretold events that spring forth (Isa. 42:9; 43:19). In the eschatological kingdom, the righteous will spring forth like willows by the water courses (Isa. 44:4); their healing will spring forth speedily (Isa. 58:8) and the messianic Branch will sprout or branch out (Zech. 6:12). Righteousness will spring up (Isa. 45:8).

The Piel stem occurs four times, always referring to the growing of hair. Tsāmach refers to the growth of the hair of the head (Judg. 16:22; Ezek. 16:7) and the growth of a beard (2 Sam. 10:5; 1 Chr. 19:5).

The Hiphil stem occurs fourteen times, usually meaning "to cause something to sprout or grow." Thus, God caused trees to grow (Gen. 2:9), as well as grass (Job 38:27; Pss. 104:14; 147:8). In a secondary sense, the earth causes seeds or plants to grow: the cursed ground caused thorns and thistles to grow (Gen. 3:18); a garden causes seed to spring up (Isa. 61:11); after God rained fire and brimstone, the land of Sodom and Gomorrah could not cause grass to grow (Deut. 29:23). In a similar sense, the rain makes the earth grow herbage (Isa. 55:10).

Figuratively, God will cause David's house to increase (2 Sam. 23:5); He will cause the horn of David to grow (Ps. 132:17) and the horn of the house of Israel to spring forth (Ezek. 29:21); and He will cause the righteous branch of David to spring forth (Jer. 33:15) (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)

Contrast the devastating effects of sin with the beauty and glory of the Branch…

Ge 3:18 Both thorns and thistles it shall grow (root verb - tsamach) for you; And you shall eat the plants of the field

Chuck Smith

The branch of the LORD, of course, is one of the terms by which Christ is described, the branch of Jehovah. He is called, actually, the branch of David (Je 33:15), and Jehovah's servant, the Branch in Zechariah 3:8 and the term branch is used many times in reference to Jesus Christ. (Commentary)

John Martin

The term Branch is a fitting figure for the Messiah because He “sprouted” from David’s line (Je 33:15) and will bear fruit. Just as people delight in fruit from their land so the survivors will delight in the Messiah, the Fruit of the land. The Branch is suggestive of Jesus’ words that He is the Vine (Jn 15:1). (Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., et al: The Bible Knowledge Commentary. 1985. Victor)

William Kelly (1821-1906 - Plymouth Brethren) comments that

The Branch is a favourite and frequent figure for the Messiah, as the reader of Jeremiah and Zechariah will recognize. He will be there in His beauty and glory, and all will be in unison for the escaped of Israel. However many the slain, this one Man will be the restorer of all breaches, and holiness will be a reality, and not a mere name, in Jerusalem (cp aged Joshua's encouragement to Israel = Josh 21:45, 23:14). (Isaiah 1-39 Expositional Commentary)

As with all Biblical interpretation (Interpretation) but especially with prophetic writings (see notes) the reader is strongly encouraged to maintain a Berean mindset (Acts 17:11) for even the translations/translators (especially the paraphrased translations - when you read "paraphrase", think "partial commentary"!) add their own interpretative bias. Although the New Living Translation is usually (in my opinion) one of the better paraphrases (Literalness of Various Versions), discernment is always needed for the first edition (corrected in revisions) of the NLT rendered this verse…

But in the future, Israel--the branch of the LORD--will be lush and beautiful, and the fruit of the land will be the pride of its people.

Comment: In fairness the revised NLT (Isa 4:2NLT) is more accurate and drops the interpretation that "Israel" is the branch. Unfortunately the NLT Study Bible still favors a non-messianic interpretation commenting "The branch (or the Branch) in this context probably refers to the remnant that would constitute Israel’s new beginning after the Exile (see Isa 6:13). Some also understand it as representing the ideal descendant of David, the Messiah" (New Living Translation Study Bible. 2008.Tyndale House)

Suggestion: If you own a study Bible, please attempt first to arrive at your own interpretation (inductive Bible study) before you are biased by the study Bible comments! If you take this general approach to your study of Scripture, you will be more likely to recognize and avoid confusing, inaccurate interpretations that reflect the writer's "systematic theology", whether that system is reformed, covenant, dispensational, etc. The stance taken on this website is to interpret literally where that is possible, and while this approach often produces interpretations most similar to the dispensationalist school, this web site is not dispensationalist but is dogmatically literalist (Literalist)

Beautiful and glorious - Beauty and glory stand in marked contrast to the shame and disgrace that Isaiah has just described in Is 3:17-25, 4:1. This beauty and glory is that which every saint of every age has longed to see come to fruition. Dearly beloved of the Father, co-heir of Christ Jesus His Son, do not let the last days detractors and scoffers shake your confidence in the prophetic promises of our ever faithful God (cp Da 11:32b). God's promises are "yea and… amen" in Christ Jesus (2Co 1:20KJV) and therefore will surely come to pass just as the Lord has promised. We "gird (our) minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix (our) hope (absolute assurance that God will do me good in the future) completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1Pe 1:13-note) which is why in his second epistle, Peter declared…

Know this first of all, that in the last days (these days began with Jesus' first advent and end with His Second Coming - we are in the "last" of the last days!) mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." (Which of course is overt denial of the truth of Scripture which clearly records the world wide flood! cp 2Pe 3:5, 6-note) (2Pe 3:3, 4-note)

Isaiah has a parallel passage in chapter 28 writing…

In that day (this prophecy looks toward the establishment of the Messianic Age in the Millennium) the Lord of hosts will become a beautiful crown and a glorious diadem to the remnant of His people ( Isaiah refers frequently to the remnant in the Day of the Lord - Isa 10:20, 21, 22; 11:11,16; 37:31,32; 46:3) (Is 28:5)

Ironside - When times are darkened, deliverance will come through the Branch of the LORD, the promised Messiah of Israel, and the loveliest of the sons of men. Those left in Zion and remaining in Jerusalem will be the special objects of His favor and will be set apart to the Lord who will wash away their filth in His own blood and cleanse their hearts with the spirit of burning, in accordance with the promises made through many other prophets. (Isaiah 4 - When the LORD Returns to Zion - Online)

and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel:

  • the fruit. Is 27:6, 30:23, 45:8, Ps 67:6, 85:11,12 Ho 2:22,23 Joel 3:18) (Survivors Heb = the escaping. Isa 10:20, 21, 22, 27:12,13, 37:31,32 Jer 44:14,28 Ezek 7:16 Joel 2:32 Ob 1:17 Mt 24:22 Lk 21:36 Ro 11:4,5 Re 7:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

Fruit of the earth - (same two Hebrew words occur in Nu 13:20, 13:26, Dt 1:25, Ps 107:34, Is 4:2

Ezek 34:27, Zec 8:12) This verse and specifically this phrase have been subject to a number of different interpretations but it is beyond the scope of these notes to go into detailed pros and cons (the interested reader is referred to the Expositor's Bible Commentary or J A Motyer's commentary on Isaiah published by InterVarsity Press) (Note also that the translators' "bias" will be reflected in the way this verse is actually rendered, and this caution applies especially to the paraphrased versions, so be alert!) Briefly, it is to be noted that many commentators (John Martin, Alex Motyer, Edward Young, to name a few) associate this description ("fruit… and the adornment") as applying to the Messiah Himself (in addition to the Branch clearly being a Messianic reference). Others fail to see any Messianic overtones at all in this passage (even ascribing a non-messianic interpretation to the "Branch"). Finally, others interpret this as a description of the transformed fruitful land of Israel, similar to Isaiah's later description of the land resembling the garden of Eden (Isa 51:3, 65:22).

Skinner (written in 1897) for example remarks that

the luxuriant vegetation of the Holy Land in the latter days will reflect glory on the inhabitants as a proof of Jehovah's signal favor -- a frequent thought in Messianic prophecy: Amos 9:13, Hos 2:21, 22, 23ff, Is 30:23, Jer 31:12, Ezek 34:26, 27, 28, 29, 30, Ezek 36:34, 35f; Zech 9:16f; Mal 3:12; Joel 3:18 and compare Lv 26:3, 4, 5, Dt 28:3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12. The verse has a close resemblance to Is 28:5. (Online)

The NET Bible note comments that the phrase "fruit of the earth"…

corresponds to “produce of the land,” a phrase that refers elsewhere exclusively to literal agricultural produce (see Nu 13:20, 26; Dt 1:25). In the majority of its uses "sprout" refers to literal crops or vegetation (in Ps 65:10 the Lord is the source of this vegetation). A reference to the Lord restoring crops would make excellent sense in Isa 4 and the prophets frequently included this theme in their visions of the future age (see Is 30:23, 24; 32:20; Je 31:12; Ezek 34:26, 27, 28, 29; and Amos 9:13, 14).


The NET has an interesting translation -- all in Jerusalem who are destined to live

Survivors (06413) (peletah) refers to those who have escaped the Lord's hand of judgment and are "left over". The primary meaning refers to the remnant of God's people Israel as in 2Ki 19:30,31 (= Isa 37:31, 22, etc) (See study of the remnant). Those who have escaped do not owe their survival to fortuitous circumstances but to the mercy of God. Peletah also conveys not only the idea of "escape" but also of "deliverance, " as in 2Chr 12:7. This word is used in Ezra 9:8, 13, 14, 15 to reflect the goodness of God in preserving a believing Jewish remnant, rather than liquidating the entire Jewish race.

The Septuagint (Lxx) translates peletah with the word kataleipo which literally describes those left behind. 

Petelah - 26v in the OT - deliverance(2), escape(7), escaped(2), escaped remnant(3), escapes(1), fugitives(1), survivors(5), what has escaped(1), who have escaped(1), who escape(1), who escaped(2).

Ge 32:8; 45:7; Ex 10:5; Jdg 21:17; 2Sa 15:14; 2Kgs 19:31; 1Chr 4:43; 2 Chr 12:7; 20:24; 30:6; Ezra 9:8, 13, 14, 15; Neh 1:2; Isa 4:2; 10:20; 15:9; 37:32; Jer 25:35; 50:29; Ezek 14:22; Da 11:42; Joel 2:3, 32; Obad 1:17.

Survivors of Israel - (Literally "the escaped of Israel", ethnic, national Israel, not "the escaped of the church") These are the Jews who remain alive after the Lord has purified His people through judgment and burning, which in context refers to those who survive the time of Jacob's distress (Jer 30:7, 8, 9). Isaiah goes on to specify that the survivors are those Jews who have placed their faith (this is implied in the next verse for the only way to be holy is by grace through faith = a gift of God) in Messiah during this tumultuous time of the Great Tribulation. Several synonymous terms for survivors are used in the next verse (Is 4:3) to describe this group = "he who is left", "remains" (both these terms imply there has been a purging or separation), "everyone who is recorded for life in Jerusalem" (Is 4:3). See also study of the remnant.

MacArthur commenting on the Jewish remnant writes that it represents…

a small nucleus of God’s people, preserved by His sovereign grace, form this righteous remnant in the midst of national apostasy (Cf. Isa 1:9-note). There were always the obedient few (referring to believing OT Jews) who preserved, obeyed, and passed on God’s law. There will always be a remnant because God will never forsake the Abrahamic Covenant (cf. Mic 2:12,13; Ro 9:27-note; Ro 11:5-note). (MacArthur, J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word)

Isaiah 4:3 It will come about that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy --everyone who is recorded for life in Jerusalem. (NASB: Lockman)

English Translation of the Septuagint: And it shall be, that the remnant left in Sion, and the remnant left in Jerusalem, even all that are appointed to life in Jerusalem, shall be called holy.

Amplified: And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who is recorded for life in Jerusalem and for eternal life, (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

BBE: And it will come about that the rest of the living in Zion, and of those who have been kept from destruction in Jerusalem, will be named holy, even everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem:

ESV: And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, (ESV)

KJV: And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem:

NET: Those remaining in Zion, those left in Jerusalem, will be called "holy," all in Jerusalem who are destined to live. (NET Bible)

NLT: All who remain in Zion will be a holy people— those who survive the destruction of Jerusalem and are recorded among the living. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Young's Literal: And it hath been, he who is left in Zion, And he who is remaining in Jerusalem, `Holy' is said of him, Of every one who is written for life in Jerusalem.

It will come about that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy:

  • Is 1:27; 52:1; 60:21; Ezekiel 36:24, 25, 26, 27, 28; 43:12; Zechariah 14:20,21-note; Ephesians 1:4; Colossians 3:12; Hebrews 12:14 1Peter 2:9)


It will come about - These words introduce the consequence after having just prophesied the reign of Messiah (and by implication the longed for, promised Messianic Age).

Isaiah uses this phrase 8 times in the NAS - Isa 2:2; 3:24; 4:3; 7:23; 16:12; 22:20; 23:17; 27:13

He who is left = remains = survivors of Israel (Isa 4:2) = The repentant, believing, regenerate, saved Jewish remnant

Left (07604) (sha'ar) is a verb which means to be left over or to remain and is related to the noun translated "remnant" (Hebrew = she'ar - 07605)

Zion… Jerusalem (See in depth study of Zion) - Why two terms? Zion is the term for various aspects of Jerusalem, Judah or even the entire country (of Israel). In Isaiah 1:27 Zion is used as a figure of speech to represent the people of Israel (Isa 1:27). In the present context, Zion most likely refers to the entire country, in contrast to the designation of "Mount Zion" in Isaiah 4:5 (see below).

Zion - 154v in the OT (46x in Isaiah) -

2Sa 5:7; 1Kgs 8:1; 2 Kgs 19:21, 31; 1 Chr 11:5; 2 Chr 5:2; Ps 2:6; 9:11, 14; 14:7; 20:2; 48:2, 11f; 50:2; 51:18; 53:6; 65:1; 69:35; 74:2; 76:2; 78:68; 84:7; 87:2, 5; 97:8; 99:2; 102:13, 16, 21; 110:2; 125:1; 126:1; 128:5; 129:5; 132:13; 133:3; 134:3; 135:21; 137:1, 3; 146:10; 147:12; 149:2; Song 3:11; Isaiah 1:8, 27; 2:3; 3:16f; 4:3ff; 8:18; 10:12, 24, 32; 12:6; 14:32; 16:1; 18:7; 24:23; 28:16; 29:8; 30:19; 31:4, 9; 33:5, 14, 20; 34:8; 35:10; 37:22, 32; 40:9; 41:27; 46:13; 49:14; 51:3, 11, 16; 52:1f, 7f; 59:20; 60:14; 61:3; 62:1, 11; 64:10; 66:8; Jer 3:14; 4:6, 31; 6:2, 23; 8:19; 9:19; 14:19; 26:18; 30:17; 31:6, 12; 50:5, 28; 51:10, 24, 35; Lam 1:4, 6, 17; 2:1, 4, 6, 8, 10, 13, 18; 4:2, 11, 22; 5:11, 18; Joel 2:1, 15, 23, 32; 3:16f, 21; Amos 1:2; 6:1; Obad 1:17, 21; Mic 1:13; 3:10, 12; 4:2, 7f, 10f, 13; Zeph 3:14, 16; Zech 1:14, 17; 2:7, 10; 8:2f; 9:9, 13

Earlier Isaiah had predicted that

Zion would be redeemed (Hebrew = achieve transfer of ownership from one to another thru payment of a price or an equivalent substitute, cp 1Pe 1:18, 19) with justice and her repentant ones with righteousness." (Isaiah 1:27)

and in this verse he describes the redeemed, repentant remnant as holy and as those who have been recorded for life (speaks of divine "election")

Jerusalem - 48x in 46v -

Isa 1:1; 2:1, 3; 3:1, 8; 4:3f; 5:3; 7:1; 8:14; 10:10ff, 32; 22:10, 21; 24:23; 27:13; 28:14; 30:19; 31:5, 9; 33:20; 36:2, 7, 20; 37:10, 22, 32; 40:2, 9; 41:27; 44:26, 28; 51:17; 52:1f, 9; 62:1, 6f; 64:10; 65:18f; 66:10, 13, 20

Dolphin comments that in context Jerusalem refers to…

the rebuilt capital city in Israel, here on earth--during the Millennium--should not be confused with the heavenly city known as "New Jerusalem," referred to in the New Testament, (He 11:16, 12:18-29, Rev 21-22). The latter city seems to resemble a great orbiting, or stationary, satellite high above the earth. This vast city has dimensions of the order of 1500 miles on a side. The heavenly city of New Jerusalem does not include a temple (Rev 21:22, 23) -- "The Lord God, the Almighty and the Lamb, are its temple." We must carefully distinguish between future events on earth regarding the nation of Israel during Messiah's coming reign on earth--and the heavenly city as a home for all the redeemed of earth. God's covenant promises to His church are not the same as His promises to Israel, nor has the church replaced Israel in the plan of God. (See The Error of Replacement Theology, by Clarence Wagner, or see replacement theology / supersessionism). (Bolding and color added for emphasis)

Will be called holy (Hebrew = qadosh; Lxx = hagios) - Literally the Hebrew reads "'Holy' shall he be called". He will be called "set apart" from the profane (common) and unto God for His good purposes. After Israel's deliverance in the Exodus, Jehovah instructs Moses to speak His desire that Israel…

shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy (Hebrew = qadosh; Lxx = hagios) nation. (Ex 19:6).

In Deuteronomy Moses records that…

The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He swore to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. (Dt 28:9)

Comment: The context is critical to understand this promise, for in the latter half of this verse as well as in the introduction in Dt 28:1 Moses writes "if" marking this as a conditional promise which also implies the possibility of Israel's failure, which did come to pass. And yet since God's promise was and is based on His covenant promises to Abraham [Ge 12:2], He will fulfill His promise and here in Isaiah we see clear evidence of God keeping His oath He "swore to [their] fathers" in Dt 28:11.

And thus Isaiah's description of their holy character (cp Is 1:27-note, Is 60:21, 62:12) refers to the remnant of repentant, believing Jews who will be marked by their holiness, not by their wealth, their works (of the flesh), etc. Isaiah describes this holy remnant again in the latter half of his prophecy writing…

Then all your people will be righteous; They will possess the land forever (Israel will inherit the "promised land" first bequeathed in an unconditional, unbreakable, inviolable covenant to Abraham -- Ge 12:1,7; 13:15; 15:18 - God has fulfilled all His promises to Abraham—except the first one where He promised “Abraham, I’m going to give you the land.”), The branch of My planting, The work of My hands, That I may be glorified. (Isaiah 60:21) (MacArthur comments on a dual fulfillment of Is 60:21 writing that "During the millennial kingdom, that will be the land of Israel as we know it today. In the eternal kingdom, it will be the New Jerusalem, capital of the new creation.")

Zechariah 14:20-21-commentary writes that in the future Millennial Kingdom of Christ EVERYTHING IN ZION WILL BE HOLY! HALLELUJAH!

In that day (The Day of the LORD - THE "GOOD ASPECT" OF THAT DAY!) there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “HOLY TO THE LORD.” And the cooking pots in the LORD’S house will be like the bowls before the altar. 21 Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the LORD of hosts; and all who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. And there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts in that day.

Young - This verse sets the ultimate ground of the preservation in the doctrine of election, and not in any merit to be discovered in the remnant. At the same time, Hengstenberg may be correct in asserting that the remnant was already holy in a moral sense. If such were the case, however, that holiness would have been a fruit of the election. It is true that without holiness no man shall see the Lord, but that holiness is not the ground of deliverance. The remnant must have clean hands and a pure heart, and doubtless the remnant did have. In that sense we may speak of it as ethically holy, and so as escaping the wrath of judgment. (Ibid)

Everyone who is recorded for life in Jerusalem

  • Ex 32:32,33; Ezek 13:9; Lk 10:20; Php 4:3; Re 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:15; Re 21:27 Acts 13:48


Everyone recorded for life - This refers to the "survivors" who escape the Lord's anger and who are not just chance survivors but those who have been divinely predestined for life, not physical life but eternal life (cp Acts 13:48), life being the antithesis of the condemnation which judgment will bring.

Young comments on the "book of life"…

Compare also Ezek 13:9 and Ex 32:32, 33, to be blotted out of the book which God has written; Ps 69:28, blotted out of the book of the living; Ps 139:16; 1Sa 25:29, the bundle of life. The phrase probably goes back to the recording of genealogical records (cf. Neh 7:5, 64). The word “life” may be taken as “the living ones” or as a plural of intensity. The preposition would then express purpose, “written down for the purpose of life.” The One who writes down is God, and hence, this phrase serves as a picturesque expression for election. Cf. Isa. 49:16. For extra-biblical parallels to the process of enrollment we may note the catalog of ships, Iliad II; the rosters of captive towns, initiated by Thothmes III; the recording in Egypt of those who performed rebellious deeds, and the names of the Pharaoh’s enemies. (Ibid) (Bolding added)

NET Note…

A city register is envisioned; everyone whose name appears on the roll will be spared. This group comprises the remnant of the city referred to earlier in the verse. (NET Bible)

The following notes are from Dr Tony Garland's A Testimony of Jesus Christ … in his notes on the "Book of Life" in Revelation 20:11-14.

Those whose names are written in the Book of Life are said to have their names “written in heaven” (Luke 10:20) or be “registered in heaven” (He 12:23). This implies that the book is kept in heaven and this is where we find it in its ultimate use at the end of history: at the Great White Throne Judgment:

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:12-15)

This is the judgment which attends the second resurrection.1 These are the resurrected dead who were not part of the first resurrection. Over such the second death has power. Their ultimate destiny is the Lake of Fire. Several books are involved in their judgment:

The Book of Life - This book is consulted to verify they have not trusted in Christ and therefore must stand before God on their own merit. Since the books, which record their works, will indicate the presence of sin in their lives and that they have not been credited with the righteousness of Christ by trusting in Him, they have a major problem: they stand condemned as sinners before a Holy God and are now without recourse.

The Books - These books record their life’s works. Every good and bad deed of every moment of their life prior to death is recorded in these books. The degree of punishment is based upon their works, but there is no possibility of rescue from the Lake of Fire which awaits because their name fails to appear in the Book of Life.

God is a just God and will provide unbelievers what they so frequently say they desire: the opportunity to be judged by their own merit. Their merit, falling short of perfection and lacking the covering of Christ, will result in just condemnation by degrees in the Lake of Fire. They will realize too late that God does not “grade on a curve.”

When are Names Written?

Several passages indicate that the names of the redeemed are written in the book while they are still alive—prior to death (Lk 10:20; Php 4:3). An additional passage indicates that the names of those who worship the beast were never recorded in the book:

The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. (Rev 17:8) [emphasis added]

The phrase “from the foundation of the world” could be understood as describing either “the book” or the “names… written,” emphasizing that either the Book of Life itself existed from the foundation of the world or that the names have been absent since then. If the former, the verse may only be conveying that the book has itself existed from the foundation of the world. If the latter, the verse would imply that the names of the redeemed were written from the foundation of the world. This latter meaning appears to be compatible with what is revealed concerning the election of the believer which took place “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).

When these facts are taken together, they indicate:

1) The Book of Life existed before the foundation of the world.

2) According to the eternal electing purposes of God, the names of the redeemed were written in the book before the foundation of the world whereas the names of the beast worshipers were omitted.

Names Blotted Out

Having established that the names of the redeemed appear to have been recorded in the book at the time of their election (Eph. 1:4), but that the names of the beast worshippers were not, we encounter a difficulty. Certain passages imply that names are blotted out (removed) from the book (Ex. 32:32, 33; Ps. 69:28; Rev. 3:5; 22:19). But we’ve just seen that the names of the beast worshipers were not written in the book. So who is it that is being blotted out? If it were the redeemed that could be blotted out, then how does this square with predestination and God’s electing purposes which result in the security of the believer? Various solutions have been proposed to reconcile the blotted names with what Scripture teaches elsewhere regarding the perseverance of the saints. We turn now to a brief survey of some of these. The question we want to answer is who is it that is “blotted out” from the Book of Life?

The solution to the logical predicament attending the various passages regarding the Book of Life generally results in the proposal that Scripture describes at least two and as many as three books associated with life:

Book of the Living - A book which records all those who attain a long life physically. Being blotted out of this book results in premature physical death (Ex. 32:32, 33; Ps. 69:28).

Book of Life - A book which records the name of every individual ever born. Those who fail to exercise faith prior to death are “blotted out” of the book. Being blotted out of this book results in spiritual death and eternal damnation.

Book of Life of the Lamb - A book which records only those individuals who are predestined to salvation. None of the names written in this book is ever blotted out (Rev. 13:8; Re 21:27).

It is our view that attempting to explain the various passages by using two or three different books is overly complicated and imposes distinctions between the books which are not derived strictly from the Biblical text. We believe a simpler solution comes by understanding all these passages as describing the self-same book, but also recognizing the unique soteriological category of those who dwell on the earth in the last days and who worship the beast and take his mark. Rather than requiring two or even three books for logical consistency, all that is needed is a single book but two categories of people—where the earth dwellers of the end are treated uniquely from all other people of history.

Let’s take a look at some of the solutions which have been proposed for understanding all that Scripture teaches concerning the Book of Life.

Isaiah 4:4 When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, (NASB: Lockman)

English Translation of the Septuagint: For the Lord shall wash away the filth of the sons and daughters of Sion, and shall purge out the blood from the midst of them, with the spirit of judgement, and the spirit of burning.

Amplified: After the Lord has washed away the [moral] filth of the daughters of Zion [pride, vanity, haughtiness] and has purged the bloodstains of Jerusalem from the midst of it by the spirit and blast of judgment and by the spirit and blast of burning and sifting. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

BBE: When Zion has been washed from her sin by the Lord, and Jerusalem made clean from her blood by a judging and a burning wind.

ESV: when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. (ESV)

KJV: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.

NET: At that time the sovereign master will wash the excrement from Zion's women, he will rinse the bloodstains from Jerusalem's midst, as he comes to judge and to bring devastation. (NET Bible)

NLT: The Lord will wash the filth from beautiful Zion and cleanse Jerusalem of its bloodstains with the hot breath of fiery judgment. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Young's Literal: If the Lord hath washed away The filth of daughters of Zion, And the blood of Jerusalem purgeth from her midst, By the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.

When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion:

  • Isa 3:16-26; Lam 1:9; Ezek 16:6, 7, 8, 9; 22:15; 36:25,29; Joel 3:21; Zeph 3:1; Zech 3:3,4; 13:1,9; Mal 3:2,3

Ezekiel 22:15 I will scatter you among the nations and I will disperse you through the lands, and I will consume (Heb = tamam = conveys the sense of bringing something to an end) your uncleanness from you.

When - This time phrase serves to explain "when" and how the believing Jewish remnant described in Isaiah 4:3 are cleansed of their iniquities and made holy unto the LORD (by grace through faith). Clearly this has not yet happened to Israel, so must speak of a future fulfillment. Furthermore, Isaiah emphasizes that this is a sovereign work of Jehovah ("the Lord has washed away… ") and this is reiterated in a parallel passage in Zechariah…

In that day (same day described here in Isa 4:2-6) a fountain will be opened for the house of David (for ethnic Israel, not the church) and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity. It will come about in that day,” declares the LORD of hosts (of armies), “that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they will no longer be remembered; and I will also remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land. (cp "washed away the filth", etc) (Zechariah 13:1-2-commentary)

The Lord - Not Jehovah but Adonay (see 'adonay), translated in the Greek ( Lxx) by kurios, the one who is the Master and Owner and Who alone possesses all authority and all power to enable Him to accomplish this supernatural cleansing of the believing remnant of Israel at the end of Daniel's Seventieth Week.

Washed away - Earlier Isaiah had given them a command that if followed would be rewarded but if rejected would be judged (observe especially the verbs)…

Wash (all verbs in red are imperatives - commands) yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, 17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless; Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow. 18 "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. 19 "If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land; 20 "But if you refuse and rebel, You will be devoured by the sword." Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isa 1:16, 17, 18, 19, 20-see notes)

Comment: The problem with Israel in Isaiah's day was that she (like all those deceived by sin) failed to recognize her filthiness (and thus her need for "spiritual cleansing"), even as spoken of in Pr 30:12. Ultimately, no man can wash himself spiritually (eg, see Ps 49:7, 8), for only the Lord can do this perfect, efficacious inner heart cleansing (compare circumcision of one's heart - compare God's part - Dt 30:6 with man's part Dt 10:16) and this divine work of salvation is what Isaiah is describing in Isa 4:4! Salvation is always and forever of the Lord (cp the repeated theme of salvation in Isaiah = Isa 12:2; 12:3; 25:9; 33:2; 33:6; 49:6; 49:8; 51:6; 51:8; 52:7; 52:10; 56:1; 59:11; 59:17; 60:18; 62:1).


Filth (06675) (so'ah/tso'ah from tseah = filth, human excrement) in the enhanced Brown-Driver Briggs is said to refer literally to human dung (!) with a focus on the foulness of this waste product of the body (2Ki 18:27, cp the other use in Isaiah 28:8 = filthy!) but in the present passage is used figuratively of moral, spiritual, or behavioral uncleanness (Pr 30:12). The Lxx of Isa 4:4 translates so'ah with rhupos (1 Pe 3:21) which means dirt, filth, refuse, figuratively uncleanness (Lxx of Job 14:4)

What a horrid picture of sin in the eyes of the Holy One! Oh that God would cause His Spirit to continually remind each of us (who have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb) of the vile nature of even one sin against God's holiness, so that we might be continually restrained from such abominable behavior!

Gilbrant -

The noun tsōʾāh, which means "excrement," has a number of by-forms. This particular nominal form is unattested elsewhere in Semitic, aside from the Dead Sea Scrolls. It appears five times in the Hebrew Bible, twice as Kethiv (written) forms.

The first occurrence of tsōʾāh is found in 2 Ki. 18:27. It appears in the course of the propagandistic proclamation of the representative of the Assyrian king as he stood at the wall of Jerusalem as Assyria laid siege to it. He proclaimed that those who were sitting on the walls were doomed to eat their own dung and drink their own urine.

The next occurrence of tsōʾāh is found in Prov. 30:12. Here, those who are wicked but do not realize it are instead besmeared by excrement. The noun is also found in Isa. 4:4. The impurity of the people would be cleansed, as their oppressiveness of the weak would be obliterated by the impoverishment caused by divine chastisement. At that time, the excrement would be cleansed from the people, symbolically connoting that they would again be eligible to be in the presence of Yahweh.

Another occurrence of the noun is found in Isa. 28:8. The chapter is a scathing condemnation of the elite of the Northern Kingdom, casting them as drunkards. This class characteristic is extended to the (false) prophets and priests. The imagery here declares that furnishings are covered with vomit and excrement, the symptoms of excessive drinking (the two are paralleled in other ancient Near Eastern cultures). (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)

So'ah - 3x in 3v -  filth(1), filthiness(1), filthy(1).

Proverbs 30:12 There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes, Yet is not washed from his filthiness

Isaiah 28:8  For all the tables are full of filthy vomit, without a single clean place. 

Young remarks…

What a contrast this word offers to the opinion which the daughters of Jerusalem entertained of themselves! It characterizes the idolatry and superstition of the time and in addition the moral corruption of the women. With deliberate reflection upon Isa 3:16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24., Isaiah identifies the possessors of filth as the daughters of Zion (Ed: But see note below on the meaning of this phrase in the present context). It is a ghastly contrast. The daughters of Zion possess not holiness but filth. (Ibid)

NET Bible note on filth

Many English versions render this somewhat euphemistically as "filth" (e.g., NAB, NIV, NRSV). Ironically in God's sight the beautiful jewelry described earlier is (described here as) nothing but vomit and feces, for it symbolizes the moral decay of the city's residents (cf. Isa 4:4NLT "moral filth")!

Washed away the filth… purged the bloodshed - Note that the Lord and Master Adonay is the One Who initiates the washing and purging which figuratively language describes their spiritual purification from defiling sins and iniquities. This "refining process" (this "metallurgist imagery" is prominent in the passages below) of the nation of Israel productive of a holy remnant is alluded to a number of Old Testament passages…

Isaiah 1:25-note I will also turn My hand against you, and will smelt away your dross as with lye and will remove all your alloy.

Ezekiel 36:25-commentary Then (After God has begun to bring them into the land of Israel - Ezek 36:24 - a process already initiated by God with the creation of a sovereign Israel in May, 1948) I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 "And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

Comment: This is a clear description of the promise of the New Covenant which God gave to Judah and Israel in Jer 31:31, 32, 33, 34. Note in Ezekiel 36:27 that God gives them a new heart enabling new (righteous) walk, but then calls for them to obey. God's sovereignty and provision of power does not alleviate man of the responsibility to live righteously. Note that living righteously does not earn "merits" with God, but is to be done out of a love relationship, not a legalistic constraint (Related Resource: Obedience of faith)

Malachi 3:2-commentary "But who can endure the day of His coming (Referring to Christ's Second Coming)? And who can stand when He appears? (Answer? No one. The same sun that melts the wax, hardens the clay) For He is like a refiner's fire (which burns away the dross of iniquity) and like fullers' soap (to "wash" the stain of sin, cp Isa 1:18-note).

3 "And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver (see illustration below - God Himself is carefully refining them), and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness (Indicating that they are now righteous by grace through faith in Messiah. These offerings during the Millennium will be memorials and have no atoning value).

4 "Then (When? When they are repentant and redeemed and regenerate) the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD, as in the days of old and as in former years.

5 "Then (the same divine "fire" that purifies the believing Jewish remnant will destroy those who persist in their rebellion against God) I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien, and do not fear Me (This is the foundational problem that "births" all the sins in this list - cp "protective effect" of a healthy fear of Jehovah - Pr 8:13, 16:6, Ro 3:18-note)," says the LORD of hosts.

AN ILLUSTRATION: While studying the Scriptures a woman came across the picture of God as a Refiner in Malachi 3:3 (cp Titus 2:14, Heb 12:10, 1Pe 1:7, 4:12,13 Rev 3:18). She visited a silversmith to learn more about the process of refining silver. After the silversmith had described the refining process to her, she asked, "Do you sit while the work of refining is going on?" The silversmith replied, "Oh, yes, madam, I must sit with my eyes steadily fixed on the furnace because if the refining time is exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be damaged." The lady at once saw the beauty and comfort found in the picture of God as a Refiner. When God sees it needful to put His children into a furnace, His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, while His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for us. Our trials do not come at random, and He will not let us be tested beyond what we can endure (1Co 10:13). Before she left, the lady asked one final question, "When do you know the process is complete?" The silversmith smiled and said, "Why, that's quite simple. When I can see my own image in the silver, the refining process is finished." (Ro 8:29, Php 3:10)

The believing Jewish remnant that survives this divine judgment and fire will be a holy people set apart to their Master as His possession and to be used for His good purpose (Is 4:3).

Young offers a somber note for reflection and application regarding the word "filth" writing…

So it is with all that in which, apart from God, we find our glory. Our wealth, our activity, our philosophy, our good works, all apart from God are filth. But all these the gracious Lord will wash away. (Ibid) (Ed: How reminiscent this is of Isaiah 64:6 speaking of all of man's "righteous deeds"!)

Daughters of Zion - Here this term refers not just to females (as it does in the only other uses in Isaiah - Is 3:16, 17) but includes Israelite males. The Septuagint (LXX) supports this interpretation by translating the Hebrew "daughters" with two Greek words, "sons and daughters".

There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood
(Play this great hymn)
Based on Zechariah 13:1-see commentary

by William Cowper

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;
And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.
Washed all my sins away, washed all my sins away;
And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.

Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.
Be saved, to sin no more, be saved, to sin no more;
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.

E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.
And shall be till I die, and shall be till I die;
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.

Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing Thy power to save,
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.
Lies silent in the grave, lies silent in the grave;
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.

Lord, I believe Thou hast prepared, unworthy though I be,
For me a blood bought free reward, a golden harp for me!
’Tis strung and tuned for endless years, and formed by power divine,
To sound in God the Father’s ears no other name but Thine.

And purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning:

  • Isa 26:20,21; Ezek 24:7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14; Mt 23:37) (Isa 9:5; Ezek 22:18, 19, 20, 21, 22; Mal 3:2,3; 4:1; Mt 3:11,12; Jn 16:8, 9, 10, 11


John Walvoord - Isaiah predicted cleansing of the bloodstains of Jerusalem and the presence of the Lord over Mount Zion signified by a cloud of smoke by day and fire by night (Isa 4:5). In the millennial kingdom the day will come when Israel will be cleansed from sin and her glory restored (Zeph 3:14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20). (Walvoord, J. F. The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books)

Although these words are addressed to literal Israel, Ray Ortlund unfortunately applies this entire section to the church commenting that…

On the Day of the Lord, the Spirit will wash the church clean with judgment and burning (Isa 4:4 - ED COMMENT: TO WHOM IS ISAIAH SPEAKING IN THIS VERSE???)… (And commenting on Isa 4:5 he writes) "On this final Day of the Lord the glory will not just fill a tabernacle or a temple; it will cover “the whole site of Mount Zion” and “her assemblies.” God is moving us toward a time when his glorious presence will cover his whole church and all local gatherings of believers. (Ortlund, R. C., Jr, & Hughes, R. K.. Isaiah : God Saves Sinners. Preaching the Word . Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books) (Bolding added)

Note: "Preaching the Word" is an excellent series and Ray Ortlund is a gifted communicator but his commentary on Isaiah is replete with non-literal interpretation in regard to national Israel - in fact Ortlund's comments have 282 occurrences of "church" in a book where Isaiah never uses that word a single time! Be a Berean and let the Scripture speak for itself remembering that if the literal sense makes good sense in context, then to make any other sense out of the text can potentially lead to non-sense! Related Resource: Read and Interpret Literally

William Kelly (1821-1906 - Plymouth Brethren) comments that

It is not the church but Israel which is in question (in this section of Scripture), and her purification by judgment, when the manifest presence of Jehovah will follow and will be her security and her glory. (Isaiah 1-39 Expositional Commentary)

The Prophet Zephaniah warns the city of Jerusalem

Zephaniah 3:1 Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled (see how defiled Jerusalem was = Jer 5:1; 19:5; 23:13, 14; 32:35), the tyrannical city! (see the following context for a "list" of why she is called tyrannical or oppressive - Zeph 3:2, 3, 4!)

The spirit of - Although some equate this with the Holy Spirit (Ed Young), much more likely this refers to spirit in the sense of the principle which activates a person (eg, acted in a spirit of compassion). See other similar uses of spirit - Isa 19:14; 28:6; 29:10, 61:3.

NET note says that spirit

may be referring to the Lord’s Spirit or, more likely, to a disposition that the Lord brings to the task of judgment. (Ibid)

Adam Clarke writes that the spirit of burning refers to…

the fire of God's wrath, by which He will prove and purify his people; gathering them into his furnace, in order to separate the dross from the silver, the bad from the good.

G Campbell Morgan - In the oracle concerning the women, the prophet had foretold the destruction of the city by reason of the corruption in which these women were involved, both as to cause and course. As ever, this mes­senger of God saw that the retribution resulting from Divine judgment would issue in restoration; and in the brief but beautiful utterances contained in verses 2 to 6 of this chapter he described the new order. In the process of that judgment, evil will be eliminated, and those left in Jerusalem will be holy; the daughters of Jerusalem will be washed from their filth and the city cleansed of its blood. The words we have stressed are those in which the prophet described the agency by which this process of cleansing will be carried out. It is a remarkable description: "The spirit of justice and the spirit of burning." Justice is government in action, and in strict and impartial justice, it is discriminative and irresistible. Burning is a process which exterminates the things that are base and unworthy, and purifies to freedom from all alloy the things which are noble and worthy. This conception of God as a Spirit of justice and of fire, recurs again and again in these Old Testament writings, and passes over into the New Testament with its interpretation of the age of the Spirit. While there are senses in which the Spirit as fire is now available and at work in special ways, as the result of the perfected work of the Son of God, there are senses in which all human history has known the presence and power of "the spirit of justice," and "the spirit of burning." That spirit ever blasts the evil, and establishes the good. (Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible)

Isaiah 4:5 then the LORD will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy. (NASB: Lockman)

English Translation of the Septuagint: And he shall come, and it shall be with regard to every place of mount Sion, yea, all the region round about it shall a cloud overshadow by day, and there shall be as it were the smoke and light of fire burning by night: and upon all the glory shall be a defence.

Amplified: And the Lord will create over the whole site, over every dwelling place of Mount Zion and over her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory shall be a canopy (a defense of divine love and protection). (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

BBE: And over every living-place on Mount Zion, all over all her meetings, the Lord will make a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night, for over all, the glory of the Lord will be a cover and a tent;

ESV: Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy. (ESV)

KJV: And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence.

NET: Then the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion and over its convocations a cloud and smoke by day and a bright flame of fire by night; indeed a canopy will accompany the LORD's glorious presence. (NET Bible)

NLT: Then the Lord will provide shade for Mount Zion and all who assemble there. He will provide a canopy of cloud during the day and smoke and flaming fire at night, covering the glorious land. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Young's Literal: Then hath Jehovah prepared Over every fixed place of Mount Zion, And over her convocations, A cloud by day, and smoke, And the shining of a flaming fire by night, That, over all honour a safe-guard,

Then the LORD will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy:

  • Is 32:18; 33:20; Ps 87:2,3; 89:7; 111:1; Mt 18:20; 28:20
  • Ex 13:21,22; 14:19,20,24; 40:34, 35, 36, 37, 38; Nu 9:15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22; Neh 9:12; Ps 78:14; Zech 2:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
  • Is 31:4,5; 37:35; 46:13; Ps 85:9
  • Canopy - Ex 26:1,7, Joel 2:16, Psalm 19:5)

Then - A time phrase. Always stop and ask "When is 'then'"? Isaiah has just explained that "then" is when he has washed… Zion and purged… Jerusalem. As we have established elsewhere this time of (spiritual) cleansing and purging corresponds to the Great Tribulation which culminates (and is terminated) by the Second Coming of Christ.


The LORD = Jehovah (See also Jehovah = Jesus)

Create (01254) (barah) is the same Hebrew word used for creation of the heavens and earth (Ge 1:1, 21, 27, 2:3, 4, cp Is 65:17) and conveys the sense of creating something out of nothing (in contrast to "re-shaping" something).

Barah - 45v (Notice 16 of 45 uses are in Isaiah and from chapter 40 onward) - brings about(1), clear(2), create(6), created(32), creates(1), creating(3), Creator(4), cut them down(1), make(2), produced(1).

Ge 1:1, 21, 27; 2:3f; 5:1f; 6:7; Ex 34:10; Nu 16:30; Dt 4:32; Josh 17:15, 18; Ps 51:10; 89:12, 47; 102:18; 104:30; 148:5; Eccl 12:1; Isa 4:5; 40:26, 28; 41:20; 42:5; 43:1, 7, 15; 45:7, 8, 12, 18; 48:7; 54:16; 57:19; 65:17, 18; Jer 31:22; Ezek 21:19, 30; 23:47; 28:13, 15; Amos 4:13; Mal 2:10. 

Area (04349) (makon) means dwelling place (so translated in Isa 4:5KJV) and all but one of the 17 OT uses (Ps104:5) refer to God's dwelling place, either in heaven or the temple.

Makon - 17v - Ex 15:17; 1 Kgs 8:13, 39, 43, 49; 2 Chr 6:2, 30, 33, 39; Ezra 2:68; Ps 33:14; 89:14; 97:2; 104:5; Isa 4:5; 18:4; Dan 8:11. NAS = area(1), dwelling place(1), foundation(3), foundations(1), place(11).

Young adds an interesting comment that makon

is not used of human dwellings, and so designates a divine place of abode, the divine dwelling of Mount Zion. Zion is thus conceived as a unit. No longer is it necessary for access to the presence of God to be confined to the high priest, for the Holy of Holies is here done away and the entirety of Mount Zion is now the recipient of the blessing of God’s presence. (Young, E. The Book of Isaiah: Volume 1, Chapters 1-18. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co)

To show how far fetched some of the interpretations in Isaiah can range (which therefore call for a diligent Berean approach - Acts 17:11-note), here is one from the Pulpit Commentary which comments on "area" or "dwelling" (KJV) writing…

Perhaps, however, every dwelling. place of God, i.e. every Christian Church, is intended. On these, and on all Christian assemblies, there will rest a new presence of God—one which he will have “created (The Pulpit Commentary: Isaiah Vol. I. 2004 H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed.)

Mount Zion (06726)(See in depth discussion of Zion and Mount Zion at Tsiyyon) - In Isa 4:3 the designation of "Zion" in the context is more consistent with the nation of Israel, but in this verse "Mt Zion" while it could refer to the entire city, is more likely a reference to the Temple Mount complex, the site of the future Millennial Temple and the dwelling place of Jehovah (cp Ps 9:11; 76:2; Is 8:18; 18:7; 24:23; Joel 3:17). Today (June, 2009) Mt Zion is controlled by the Muslims and is occupied in part by the Islamic holy place, the Dome of the Rock. in fact Jews are not even allowed into the Temple Mount complex at the time of this writing. Isaiah declares that there is a day in the future when not only will they be allowed on Mount Zion, but they will be protected there by the Lord's canopy (Isa 4:6)!

Assemblies (04744) (miqra from qārāʾ= "to call," "to summon) refers to a convocation, a public meeting, reading, and an assembly. The term refers primarily to a sacred assembly or a convocation called together for sacred or religious purposes. Sometimes the word is attached to the word "holiness" to describe the feasts prescribed by the Lord in the Law (Lev. 23:2; Num. 28:18, 25). The word is used in the plural to refer to a place of holy assemblies or sanctuaries (Isa. 4:5).  Miqrāʾ can also mean "a recitation" or "a reading aloud" such as the incident in Israel when Ezra gathered the people and "read aloud" the Book of the Law to all the people who were returning from exile so that a proper religious and moral foundation would be laid in Jerusalem and the covenant renewed (Neh. 8:1-12, specifically Neh 8:8). The Passover included a holy convocation on the first and seventh days (Ex 12:16); other festivals also included the gathering of the people (Nu. 28:18, 25, 26; 29:1, 7, 12).

Miqra - 22v - assemblies(2), assembly(2), convocation(14), convocations(3), reading(1), summoning(1).

Ex 12:16; Lev 23:2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 21, 24, 27, 35, 36, 37; Nu 10:2; 28:18, 25, 26; 29:1, 7, 12; Neh 8:8; Is 1:13; 4:5.

Leonard J Coppes writes that miqra describes that which is the "the result of qārā (The root qr denotes primarily the enunciation of a specific vocable or message. In the case of the latter usage it is customarily addressed to a specific recipient and is intended to elicit a specific response) is used, first, for convocations exclusively cultic, and secondly, of the result of reading aloud (Neh 8:8). Miqra designates the weekly Sabbaths (Lev 23:2) and the new moons (Ezek 46:3; cf. Is 66:23). However, its most usual meaning is reserved for the seven special convocation Sabbaths. These were observed in the course of the five annual feasts (Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles were opened and closed with a special convocation Sabbath). Such days (and the weekly Sabbath as well) included a formal summoning of people to worship by the blast of trumpets (Nu 10:2, 10; cf. qôl). Physical presence was mandatory, however, only for the three festal pilgrimage feasts and only for males (Ex 23:14, 17). The Sabbath and Day of Atonement were further distinguished by the divine prohibition excluding all labor (Lv 23:3, 31), indeed, any pursuit of non-cultic goals (Is 58:13, 14.). The godly were to focus their time and effort on worship. The six other special convocations did not exclude the preparation of food even though servile labor was prohibited (Lev 23). (Harris, R L, Archer, G L & Waltke, B K Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Moody Press)

Young adds that "The close connection between Zion and the assemblies would indicate that the true places of worship are to be found at Zion, and that over them all is the protecting cover of God. (Young, E. The Book of Isaiah: Volume 1, Chapters 1-18. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co)

Cloud by day… fire by night - To the Jewish readers these allusions would bring to mind the days of wilderness wandering when the cloud and fire were tangible reminders that Jehovah was "personally" guiding and protecting His people (cp Ex 13:21, 22, 14:19, 24). Today we have His indwelling Spirit to guide believers.

Grogan notes that "In Is 2:4 Mount Zion is elevated above the surrounding hills; here (Is 4:5) it is protected by divine symbols reminiscent of the journey out of Egypt (Ex13:21; 14:19-20). The protective symbols would not move, as they did during the Exodus; for the future Amount Zion is journey's end. (Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary OT 7 Volume Set: Books: Zondervan Publishing)


Over all the glory - This suggests that when Messiah the Branch is reigning in Jerusalem on Mt Zion, the manifestation of God's glory will be apparent similar to the glory that was seen over the wilderness Tabernacle and then over Solomon's Temple. Whereas the Shekinah glory cloud was formerly confined to the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and Temple, now the glory will appear over all of Mount Zion. Compare this description to Isaiah's vision in Isa 6:3 where the glory of Jehovah fills the whole earth. Here by contrast the focus and center of attention is on Mt Zion and by implication on Messiah the Branch as it is only proper, for the Lamb alone is worthy of such adulation and adoration.

NET note - This may allude to Ex 40:34, 35, where a cloud overshadows the meeting tent as it is filled with God’s glory. (Ibid)

MacArthur notes that the glory "recalls Ezekiel’s prophecy of the return of the Shekinah to the temple (Ezek 43:2, 3, 4, 5). (MacArthur, J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word)

Related Resources:

Canopy (02646) (chuppah) describes an overhead cover that protects from hostile elements or a bridal tent for the wedding ceremony or the first nuptial night. The idea that this represents a marriage canopy is intriguing in view of the fact that in the OT Israel was pictured as the wife of Jehovah (Isa 54:5, Jer 31:31, cp Jer 2:2, 3:14, Ho 2:19), and the canopy could therefore speak of a marriage canopy for the Lord's beloved, the believing Remnant of Israel, those who are now washed and purified (i.e., spiritually speaking -- when all Israel is saved as described in Ro 11:26, 27-note] and as such would now be the "chaste" faithful wife to Jehovah. What a glorious day awaits us all when Messiah rules and reigns as King of kings!

Chuppah - 3x in 3v - canopy(1), chamber(2).

Psalms 19:5   Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; It rejoices as a strong man to run his course. 

Isaiah 4:5  then the LORD will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy.

Joel 2:16 ) Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and the nursing infants. Let the bridegroom come out of his room And the bride out of her bridal chamber. 

Herbert Wolf writes that chuppah "is used three times in the OT. In Isa 4:5 the idea of protection seems paramount. and chuppah is in close conjunction with sukka (cp feast of booths = Sukkoth), a word for “booth” or “shelter” (Is 4:6). This important passage describes the future glory of Zion in terms of the wilderness wandering. Just as the pillar of cloud and fire shielded Israel from the Egyptians, a protective canopy will provide shade and refuge from storms for Mount Zion. Twice chuppah is related to a wedding. In Joel 2:16 it is parallel to heder, which means “bedroom, inner chamber.” The bride is instructed to go from her bedroom, the groom from his canopy to plead that the Lord might spare his people from judgment. Normal joys are interrupted during this spiritual crisis. There is some question as to whether the canopy was a special tent where the marriage was consummated, or whether it was a protective covering over the wedding ceremony itself. Psalm 19:5 compares the sun rising in its strength to a bridegroom coming out of his canopy. This expresses the joy of youthful love as the groom anticipates a new life with his bride, perhaps specifically referring to the sun’s course as a happy wedding procession (cf. MT 25:6-10). (Harris, R L, Archer, G L & Waltke, B K Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Moody Press)

Jack Hayford feels the canopy is related to marriage - The Lord had entered a covenant with His people that could be likened to a marriage. Isaiah pictured Judah, the Lord’s bride, as a lovely vineyard. He saw her under a wedding canopy (Isa 4:6). He sang a love ballad about the Lord and His vineyard bride (Isa 5:1, 2). But the ballad ended on a note of discord. The bride wasn’t content with her Groom. Isaiah 4:2 continues the theme of judgment present in Isa 4:1 as marked by the phrase “in that day” introducing both verses. God’s judgment on His people ultimately is restorative. What blessings will follow the calamities awaiting flirty, faithless Judah? (Is. 4:2-6) (Welcoming the Saving Reign of God: A study of Isaiah)

Fruchtenbaum commenting on Ezekiel 37:27 writes that "the Shechinah Glory (see Shekinah glory cloud) will serve as a canopy over the people of Israel. This is the same point made in Isaiah 4:5, 6. The result of God’s Temple in the midst of them will be: I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (The Messianic Bible Study Collection)

ESV Study Bible - Perhaps, as in Joel 2:16, a wedding canopy; cf. Isa. 54:4–8; Rev. 21:9–11, 22–27. (ESV Study Bible

J Alec Motyer - the Lord designs for them a bridal canopy of unimaginable splendour (Is 4:5). (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)

Allan Harman comments that "The exodus experience of a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud will be repeated. Just as Israel had the LORD’s protection when they came out of Egypt, so will a renewed and cleansed Israel/Zion. The word for ‘canopy’ or ‘covering’ (Heb. chuppâh) is only used three times in the Old Testament (Isa. 4:5; Joel 2:16; Ps. 19:5), but it has come into modern usage as the term to describe the canopy over a couple during the Jewish marriage service. The conjunction here with the terms ‘shelter’, ‘shade’, ‘refuge’ and ‘hiding place’ make it plain that the idea is of a protective canopy that will provide shade and a shield to Mount Zion. The use of the verb ‘create’ (Heb. bârâ’) is significant because it is reserved for when God is the subject. The great creator will act in his sovereignty to protect Zion and all the remnant who gather there. (Isaiah - Focus on the Bible)

Holman Christian Study Bible - After the exodus from Egypt, God guided Israel through the desert by a cloud and flame (cp. Ex 40:38), which represented God's mysterious and powerful presence with His people. Isaiah used this language to teach that the future remnant will again enjoy an intimate and assuring relationship with God after the judgment. (HCSB Study Bible or Online)

Gary Smith - Isaiah draws these images from the Exodus tradition, where God's presence was known through the cloud and fire that led the Israelites out of Egypt and eventually dwelt in the tabernacle and temple (Exod 13:21-22; 14:19, 24; 40:34; Deut 1:33; 31:15; 1 Kgs 8:10-11). The divine presence demonstrates God's acceptance and nearness to his holy people. The surprising difference is that God's presence will not be limited to a temple building; it will be like a canopy over the whole of Zion (cf. 60:1-2; 62:2; Ezek 39:25-29), because all of Zion and its people will be holy. The canopy (4:5 sukkâ) is sometimes associated with weddings in Hebrew culture (Ps 19:6; Joel 2:16), but its function here seems to point to the divine protection of all the holy people in Zion. God's glory is imaginatively pictured as a shelter or refuge from the harshness of the weather. These symbols represent any danger that might threaten the people of God. God is there to care for and to protect his people. (The New American Commentary- Isaiah 1-39, Vol. 15A )

John Oswalt - the cloud seems not to be merely a pillar over the temple, but a canopy which covers all of Mount Zion and those who assemble there. The glory which the canopy of cloud covers (Ex 40:34) no longer resides merely within the temple precincts; now it is the possession of all who worship the God of Zion (Ezek. 39:25, 26, 27, 28, 29; Jn 17:10, 22, 24). The canopy of cloud and fire, so terrifying to God's enemies, will be a source of comfort to the remnant. The same fire which purged them is now their protection and hope. In language reminiscent of Ps 91, the author asserts that neither blinding sunlight nor driving rain can hurt God's people. This reference is apparently an antinomy which, by expressing the opposites, includes everything between. Thus, the author is saying that there is nothing in the created universe which can harm those who belong to God. Some have felt this mention of the sun and the rain to be somewhat mundane and thus to offer a rather weak conclusion to the segment. However, when it is remembered that in a pagan worldview the natural forces are deities to be feared, this assertion gains considerable strength. Those who "abide in the shadow of the Almighty" (Ps 91:1) have nothing to fear from the "principalities and powers" (Ro 8:38; Ep 1:21, 22; 6:12) of this world. (The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1–39)

Isaiah 4:6 There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain. (NASB: Lockman)

English Translation of the Septuagint: And it shall be for a shadow from the heat, and as a shelter and a hiding place from inclemency of weather and from rain.

Amplified: And there shall be a pavilion for shade in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge and a shelter from storm and from rain. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

BBE: And a shade in the daytime from the heat, and a safe cover from storm and from rain.

ESV: There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain. (ESV)

KJV: And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.

NET: By day it will be a shelter to provide shade from the heat, as well as safety and protection from the heavy downpour. (NET Bible)

NLT: It will be a shelter from daytime heat and a hiding place from storms and rain. .(NLT - Tyndale House)

Young's Literal: And a covering may be, For a shadow by day from drought, And for a refuge, and for a hiding place, From inundation and from rain!

There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain:

  • Isa 8:14; 25:4; Ps 27:5; 91:1; 121:5,6; Pr 18:10; Ezek 11:16; He 6:18; Re 7:16) (Is 32:2,18,19; Mt 7:24, 25, 26, 27; He 11:7


Shelter - Some commentators state because of the need for shelter and protection, this description could not apply to the conditions of the millennium, but note the context (especially the description of the Messiah , "the branch" in Isa 4:2).

Most commonly, sukkah is used in connection with the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. Once a year the Israelite left his home to tabernacle in a "booth" made from tree branches (Lv 23:34, 35, 36). The feast marked not only the joy and thankfulness of a grateful people for God's provision at the end of the agricultural season (Lv 23:39, 40, 41), but was to be a perpetual reminder (Dt 16:13, 14, 15) to the people of God's care for his own whom he had rescued from Egypt during those long years in the wilderness (Lv 23:42, 43). The feast was closed by a day of rest, featured by a holy convocation, marking not only the climax of the religious year but symbolizing the rest of the believer in his God (Lv 23:39). Prophetically, the Feast of Booths has its future fulfillment in that grand day when God will raise up the fallen booth of David (Amos 9:11) and give shelter to his repentant, redeemed, and regathered remnant of Israel (Isa 4:6).

Shelter (05521)(sukkah) conveys the basic sense of that which blocks or stops up something and then describes a covert, a booth, a temporary abode.

Shelter - 29v - NAS = booth(1), Booths(9), booths(8), canopies(1), canopy(1), hut(1), lair(1), pavilion(1), shelter(4), temporary shelters(3).

Ge 33:17; Lev 23:34, 42f; Deut 16:13, 16; 31:10; 2 Sam 11:11; 22:12; 1 Kgs 20:12, 16; 2 Chr 8:13; Ezra 3:4; Neh 8:14, 15, 16; Job 27:18; 36:29; 38:40; Ps 18:11; 31:20; Isa 1:8; 4:6; Amos 9:11; Jonah 4:5;

Zechariah uses this same word to describe the re-institution of the Feast of the Booths (Succoth, Tabernacles)

Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.... 18 If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.  (Zech 14:16, 18, 19-note).

See Table summarizing all Seven Great Feasts of Israel

The KJV Bible Commentary notes that sukkah - literally means a sheltering pavilion. That it refers to the millennial Temple is most likely indeed. In this scene Delitzsch (p. 158) also sees paradise restored. The prophet pictures the mountain of Zion roofed over with a cloud of smoke by day and a shining, flaming fire by night. This is none other than the mountain of the house of the Lord. Here shall His Temple once again stand during the millennial kingdom, and all the nations shall come to it for protection. (Ed: This comment is not unreasonable but is somewhat difficult to definitely defend just from this context. Other verses are far more clear that there will be a glorious millennial Temple.)

Shade from the heat - In the arid, hot conditions of the Middle East, shade is a wonderful provision.

W E Vine - Nature will continue its activities during the Millennial age. The most glorious feature of the whole scene will be the conjoint existence of the restored and glorious Jerusalem on earth, “the city of the Great King,” and the Heavenly Jerusalem, consisting of all the glorified saints, and described figuratively in Re 21:10-22:5, the great City-Bride, the wife of the Lamb, the “Light-Giver” of which is Christ Himself. (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)

Harry Ironside - Then Mount Zion and Jerusalem will become a center of blessing to the whole earth, and the glory of the Lord that once was seen over the sanctuary of old will be as a cloudy pillar over all the homes of the redeemed city, both as a glory and a defence. "And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain" (verse 6). Thus, like Israel in the wilderness so long ago, will the restored nation be under Jehovah's gracious care when He has cleansed them from their iniquities and turned their hearts back to Himself. (Isaiah 4 - When the LORD Returns to Zion - Online)

I agree with Thomas Constable's summation of this section - This oracle (Is 2:1-4:6) reveals events that would happen in a “day” yet future from Isaiah’s perspective. History has shown that some of the predictions of judgment found partial fulfillment in the exiles of Israel that preceded Messiah’s appearing. However most of the judgment, and all of the blessing connected to Messiah, lies in the future from our perspective (cf. Matt. 24:4-30). It is mainly the Tribulation and Messiah’s blessing of Israel in the Millennium to follow that is in view here.