Isaiah – Chapter 6

The Bible – Old Testament



Chapter 6


1 2 In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of his garment filling the temple.


Seraphim were stationed above; each of them had six wings: with two they veiled their faces, with two they veiled their feet, and with two they hovered aloft.


«Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts!» they cried one to the other. «All the earth is filled with his glory!»


3 At the sound of that cry, the frame of the door shook and the house was filled with smoke.


4 Then I said, «Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!»


Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar.


5 He touched my mouth with it. «See,» he said, «now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.»


Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, «Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?» «Here I am,» I said; «send me!»


6 And he replied: Go and say to this people: Listen carefully, but you shall not understand! Look intently, but you shall know nothing!


You are to make the heart of this people sluggish, to dull their ears and close their eyes; Else their eyes will see, their ears hear, their heart understand, and they will turn and be healed.


«How long, O Lord?» I asked. And he replied: Until the cities are desolate, without inhabitants, Houses, without a man, and the earth is a desolate waste.


7 Until the LORD removes men far away, and the land is abandoned more and more.


If there be still a tenth part in it, then this in turn shall be laid waste; As with a terebinth or an oak whose trunk remains when its leaves have fallen. (Holy offspring is the trunk.)


1 [1-3] Temple: the holy place, just in front of the holy of holies. Seraphim: literally «the burning ones,» are celestial beings who surround the throne of God. Each has six wings. Reverence for the divine majesty causes them to veil their faces with two wings; modesty, to veil their extremities in similar fashion; alacrity in God’s service, to extend two wings in preparation for flight. Holy, holy, holy: God’s perfect interior holiness whose exterior manifestation is his glory. These words are found in the Roman liturgy just before the Canon of the Mass.

2 [1] In the year King Uzziah died: 742 B.C.

3 [4] Smoke: reminiscent of the clouds which surrounded God at Mount Sinai; cf ⇒ Exodus 19:16-19; ⇒ Deut 4:11, ⇒ 12.

4 [5] Doomed: it was popularly believed that to see God would lead to one’s death; cf ⇒ Genesis 32:31; ⇒ Exodus 33:20; ⇒ Judges 13:22.

5 [7] Touched your lips: Isaiah is thus symbolically purified to be worthy of his vocation as God’s prophet. In the Roman liturgy, the celebrant at Mass makes reference to this incident just before he reads the gospel.

6 [9-10] The truth that the nation will remain impenitent is vividly foretold, as if its obstinacy would be caused, instead of merely occasioned, by the prophet’s warning. Cf ⇒ Matthew 13:13-15; ⇒ Mark 4:12; ⇒ Luke 8:10.

7 [12] Several limited deportations in the time of Isaiah would later culminate in the Babylonian exile.