The Trinity in Isaiah

“Come near to Me:  Hear this, not from the beginning in secret have I spoken.  From the time of its Being, there I was.  And now, Lord Yahweh has sent Me and His Spirit.” (Isaiah 48:16)

     The above quoted verse is a transliteration of the Hebrew of Isaiah 48:16.  (I will spare you the gory details of the syntax, which too many of my friends, will be much appreciated.  My wife included.)  I am writing about this to continue on the theme of the last few post regarding Christian Deity from the Old Testament.  I mention the syntax and exegesis (translation and exact meaning of the text) because I’ve been using a “Peshat” approach to prove the existence of the Trinity from the Tanach (Old Testament).  Additionally, I’ve quoted the transliteration above because I believe that most English translations get it wrong.  They will write something like “Come near me and listen to this:  From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret at the time it happens, I am there.  And now, the Sovereign LORD has sent me with His Spirit.” (New International Version)  It is my opinion that this translation misses the essence of the text.  Mainly, that God is identifying His Triune Nature in this verse.  God is speaking in the verse.  He speaks of three distinct beings.  First, the speaker, second, the Lord Yahweh, and lastly, His Spirit.  Additionally, this speaker states, “From the time of its Being”, the word in Hebrew for Being is the same word from which “Yahweh” is formulated.  The speaker is identifying His eternal nature and thus, identifies Himself as Yahweh.  But, let’s not just take my word for it, let’s hear from the theologians.

     Keil and Delitzsch write, “Up to this point Jehovah is speaking; but who is it that now proceeds to say, “And now—namely, now that the redemption of Israel is about to appear (וְעַתָּה being here, as in many other instances, e.g., Isa. 33:10, the turning-point of salvation)—now that the Lord Jehovah sent me and His Spirit?” The majority of the commentators assume that the prophet comes forward here in his own person, behind Him whom he has introduced, and interrupts Him. But although it is perfectly true, that in all prophecy, from Deuteronomy onwards, words of Jehovah through the prophet and words of the prophet of Jehovah alternate in constant, and often harsh transitions, and that our prophet has this mark of divine inspiration in common with all the other prophets (cf., Isa. 62:5, 6), it must also be borne in mind, that hitherto he has not spoken once objectively of himself, except quite indirectly (vid., Isa. 40:6; 44:26), to say nothing of actually coming forward in his own person. Whether this takes place further on, more especially in Isa. 61, we will leave for the present; but here, since the prophet has not spoken in his own person before, whereas, on the other hand, these words are followed in Isa. 49:1ff. by an address concerning himself from that servant of Jehovah who announces himself as the restorer of Israel and light of the Gentiles, and who cannot therefore be ether Israel as a nation or the author of these prophecies, nothing is more natural than to suppose that the words, “And now hath the Lord,” etc., form a prelude to the words of the One unequalled servant of Jehovah concerning Himself which occur in Isa. 49. The surprisingly mysterious way in which the words of Jehovah suddenly pass into those of His messenger, which is only comparable to Zech. 2:12ff., 4:9 (where the speaker is also not the prophet, but a divine messenger exalted above him), can only be explained in this manner. And in no other way can we explain the וְעַתָּה, which means that, after Jehovah has prepared the way for the redemption of Israel by the raising up of Cyrus, in accordance with prophecy, and by his success in arms, He has sent him, the speaker in this case, to carry out, in a mediatorial capacity, the redemption thus prepared, and that not by force of arms, but in the power of the Spirit of God (Isa. 42:1; cf., Zech. 4:6). Consequently the Spirit is not spoken of here as joining in the sending (as Umbreit and Stier suppose, after Jerome and the Targum: the Septuagint is indefinite, καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ); nor do we ever find the Spirit mentioned in such co-ordination as this (see, on the other hand, Zech. 7:12, per spiritum suum ). The meaning is, that it is also sent, i.e., sent in and with the servant of Jehovah, who is speaking here. To convey this meaning, there was no necessity to write either ‏שָׁלַח אֹתִי וְרוּחוֹ‎ or ‏שׁלחני וְאֶת־רוחו‎, since the expression is just the same as that in Isa. 29:7, ‏צֹבֶיהָ וּמְצֹדָתָהּ; and the Vav may be regarded as the Vav of companionship (Mitschaft, lit., with-ship, as the Arabs call it; see at Isa. 42:5). (1)  Notice this last part, the Vav of companionship.  In Hebrew this vav is attached to the beginning of a word and is almost always translated “and” and almost never “with”.  Thus, the trinity is defined in the verse.

 

     What is the sense of all this?  Basically, the text speaks of three individuals.  Lord YHWH, and the messenger who steps forward to speak, a pre-incarnate Messiah, and the Sprit which linguistically is connected by companionship and, as such, represents a separate being in the text.  The trinity is here clearly (Peshatly) defined in the Hebrew of the Old Testament.  The speaker clearly identifies His co-eternal existence with Lord Yahweh (Hebrew is Adonai YHWH) and the Spirit.  This is strikingly similar to what Jesus says about Himself to a group of Jews.  He states, “Before Abraham was, I am.”  Jesus is clearly making a claim to Deity and His message is clearly understood by the Jews.  They pick up stones to stone Him.

 

Endnotes

 R.L. Harris, Editor; Gleason Archer, Jr. and Bruce Waltke, Associate Editors, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Moody Press, Chicago, 1980, page 465

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