Isaiah 48 and The Holy Trinity

“Draw near to Me, hearken to this; in the beginning I did not speak in secret, from the time it was, there was I, and now, the Lord God has sent Me, and His Spirit” – verse 16

Who is the speaker of these words in verse 16? Some commentators, like Thomas Cheyne, have suggested the words “and now Lord YHWH has”, belong to another speaker, who is introduced here. No doubt this is due to the influence of the Targum of Jonathan Ben Uzie’s reading;

“The prophet saith: And now the Lord God and His Word, hath sent me” (C W H Pauli; The Chaldee Paraphrase on the Prophet Isaiah, pp.166-167)

This is also accepted by John Calvin in his commentary. That this view is wrong, can be seen from the facts of the passage, where it will be seen, that, The Speaker in this verse, is none other than YHWH. There is no Hebrew text that supports the paraphrase reading.

The words in this verse are like those found in verse 3, “I have declared the former things from the beginning”, and verse 5, “I have even from the beginning declared it to you”. In verse 12 and 13 the Speaker says, “Listen to Me, O Jacob and Israel, My called; I am He, I am the First, I also am the Last. My hand has also laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand spread out the heavens”. In verse 15 we read, “I, even I have spoken, yes, and I have called him”. In the very next verse, we read, “Thus says YHWH, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: “I am YHWH your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go”.

In Isaiah 41:4, we read, “Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am He”. And, 44:6, “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god”

Can any of these words have been spoken by a created human? In the Book of Revelation, Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”. Dr Thayer, in his Greek lexicon says of these words, “absolutely (i. e. without a noun) and substantively; α. with the article: ὁ πρῶτος καί ὁ ἔσχατος, i. e. the eternal One, Revelation 1:17; Revelation 2:8; Revelation 22:13”. The words “The First and The Last”, are equivalent to “The Eternal One”. In Exodus 3:14, where Jesus Christ is Speaking with Moses, and gives His Name, the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint (LXX), reads, “εγω ειμι ο ων”, literally, “I am The Eternal One”.

In the Book of Hebrews, God the Father is addressing Jesus Christ, and says, “And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain, they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.” (verses 10-12). These words are spoken in the passage in Isaiah, and could only refer to the Creator God, YHWH!

Are there two subjects in this verse, “Adonay Yahweh”, and “His Spirit”, Who both send the Speaker? This is the reading of the older English Versions, as Wycliffe, Coverdale, Great, Geneva, Bishops, and KJV. Or, is “Adonay Yahweh” the one subject, and the Speaker and “His Spirit”, two objects, Who sends the Speaker and His Spirit? The actual word order in the Hebrew, LXX, and Latin Vulgate, make two objects, and not two subjects.

The Hebrew here is: “ועתה אדני יהוה שׁלחני ורוחו׃”, the order of words here are: “And now 'Adônây YHWH He has sent Me and Spirit of Him”.

The Hebrew verb “שְׁלָחַנִי” is masculine, singular, 3rd person, “He has sent Me”

The Greek Old Testament, The Septuagint, has rendered this Hebrew as;

“καὶ νῦν κύριος κύριος ἀπέσταλκέν με καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ”, the order of words here are: “And now the Lord Lord hath sent Me and His Spirit.

The Latin Vulgate of Jerome;

et nunc Dominus Deus misit me, et spiritus eius”, the order of words here are: “And now, the Lord God has sent Me and His Spirit”

The following (and others) Jewish Bible’s also translate the words, where the Holy Spirit is the second object and not subject.

And now, the Lord Eternal hath sent me, and his Spirit” (Isaac Leeser, The Twenty-Four Books of the Holy Scriptures: Carefully Translated According to the Massoretic Text)

and now the Lord Eternal hath sent me, and his spirit.” (Dr A Benisch; Jewish School and Family Bible, Vol. III)

And now the Lord GOD has sent me, and his Spirit” (The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text, A New Translation. The Jewish Publication Society of America. 5677-1917)

There can be no doubt that the Speaker in Isaiah 48:16, is YHWH, as seen from the chapter, especially in the verses shown. As the Speaker is One Who has been “sent” by “Adonay Yahweh”, it most certainly refers to the Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. As passages like Matthew 10:40; Mark 9:37; Luke 9:48; John 5:23, etc, show.

In the Prophecy of Isaiah 9:6, we see that the Child to be born, will be called, or known as, “The Mighty God”, the Hebrew, “אֵל גִּבּוֹר”, literally, “God of Might”. This same Title is used in Isaiah 10:21. The Hebrew noun, “שְׁמוֹ”, is masculine, 3rd person, singular, and can only refer to the Child, “His Name”. The Deity of the Child is clear, It is interesting that the Jehovah’s Witnesses, here read in their New World Translation, “Mighty God”.

Isaiah 48:16 has “Adonay Yahweh”, sending the Speaker, Who is also “Yahweh”. We also have “His Spirit”, Who is also “sent”, along with the Speaker. As both the Speaker, and they One Who “sent”, are YHWH, “His Spirit”, must also refer to One Who is YHWH. That the “Spirit” here is a Person, is clear from the fact that He is “sent”, which can hardly refer to something impersonal. Neither can “His Spirit” refer to a created being, as no creature can have this relationship with God, from eternity past!

In 2 Samuel 23:2, it is clear that the Holy Spirit is Yahweh, and so Speaks through David as Yahweh.

Spirit of Yahweh He Speaks by me, and the Word of Him is on my tongue. He said the God of Israel to me, He has Spoken Rock of Israel…”

In the Hebrew, “Spirit” is “רוּח”, which is a feminine word. Yet we have “דִּבֶּר־בִּי”, which is in the singular, masculine, “He Speaks by me”. And further, “וּמִלָּתוֹ” (His Word), which is also singular, masculine. It is the One Subject Who is the Speaker, “רוּחַ יהוה” (the Spirit of Yahweh), or, “the Spirit Who is Yahweh”. The following words in this passage are also used for the Holy Spirit. Here we have the Holy Spirit Who is clearly identified as Yahweh, and also as a masculine Person, not impersonal, or feminine, as some heretically teach.

In Job 33:4, we see the Holy Spirit as the Creator.

The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of (וְנִשְׁמַת)the Almighty gives me life (תְּחַיֵּנִי).”

The spirit of God hath made me, And the breath of the Almighty given me life.” (The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text, A New Translation. The Jewish Publication Society of America. 5677-1917)

In this verse also, the Hebrew is very interesting. We have “רוּחַ־אֵל”, “the Spirit of God”, and then, “עָשָׂתְנִי”, the feminine singular, literally, “She has made me”, referring grammatically to “Spirit (רוּח)”, which is also feminine in the Hebrew. “רוּחַ־אֵל, refers to only one Person, The Holy Spirit, Who IS The Creator.

made”, is the same Hebrew word, “עֲשׂוֹת”, used in Genesis 1:7, 2:4, etc. In Genesis 2:7 we read, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים); and man became a living soul (לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה)”

The Deity and Personality of The Holy Spirit is clear in the Old Testament. Taken together with “Adonay YHWH”, and the Speaker Who is also “YHWH”, in Isaiah 48:16, we have a very clear reference to The Holy Trinity in the Old Testament. Three DISTINCT Persons, Who are EQUALLY YHWH.