Isaiah 66:3-17 is organized in a modified chiasm:

A. Fourfold abominations, 3 (“blood of swine”).

B. Punishment of enemies, 4-6 (begins with “hear the word of Yahweh”).

C. Zion gives birth, 7-9 (“says your God” at end).

D. Jerusalem’s joy, 10-11.

E. Peace like a river, 12a (begins with “thus says Yahweh”)

C’. Comforted  like a child with mother, 12b-13.

D’. Joy, 14a.

B’. Indignation toward enemies, 14b-16

A’. Abominations, 17 (“swine’s flesh”; ends with “declares Yahweh”).

This moves from judgment on enemies, the travail of punishment, to the travail of Zion’s labor that gives birth to a nation in a day. But the joy and comfort of Zion is not itself the center of the passage. That is the promise that Yahweh will make peace flow to and through Jerusalem like a river, like one of the nourishing rivers of Eden. And that river is a river of glory, flowing from the nations to Zion. Verse 12 might allude back to Isaiah 49:23, where Gentile princesses are promised as Israel’s nurses.

In any case, the judgment and new birth described in this section is for the purpose of unstopping the flow of glory, so that the world’s riches will be used to adorn a new Jerusalem.

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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