Visualizing Isaiah 35: the desert shall rejoice

Isaiah prophesies the return of the redeemed to Zion, a promise that would be fulfilled with the return from the Babylonian exile. The illustration is one that would be vivid to those who lived on the ridge above the wilderness of Judah.

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. (Isaiah 35:1-2 ESV)

Our aerial view  was made toward the east from a location a few miles south of Jerusalem. In the distance you will see the Dead Sea and the Transjordan plateau. At this point it is the Biblical land of Moab.

Aerial view east across the wilderness of Judah and the Dead Sea to the Transjordan Plateau. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aerial view east across the wilderness of Judah and the Dead Sea to the Transjordan Plateau. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

For illustrations of the streams in the desert, see here (Isaiah 35:5-7).

Saffron Crocus. The Illustrated Bible Treasury.

Saffron Crocus. The Illustrated Bible Treasury.

When I first began to travel, during the early days of the State of Israel, it was rather common for tour operators to include a phrase such as “See the desert blossom as a rose” in the tour brochure. The word rose came from the King James Version of Isaiah 35:1. The Hebrew term here is chabatstseleth. BDB defines it as a “meadow-saffron or crocus.”

Identifying plants and animals of Bible times is not easy. One common mistake is to find a plant of a certain name in our local language and identify it with one we read about in the Bible.

The point is rather simple. Places that were dry and barren would become watered and beautiful with the return of the redeemed.

 

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2 responses to “Visualizing Isaiah 35: the desert shall rejoice

  1. I heartily agree with your refreshing interpretation that “the return of the redeemed to Zion” was “a promise that would be fulfilled with the return from the Babylonian exile.” May this understanding free us all up to treat the modern, sovereign State of Israel as any other member of the family of nations, and to hold them accountable to the norms of international law, human rights and common decency.

    TOM POWERS / Waynesville, NC

  2. What an amazing view. Great photo !

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