Yeshayahu Ten: Engravings

“Woe to those who engrave engravings of injustice and missives of perverseness they write (Isaiah 10:1).” When Jews study Torah seriously, we tend to consider every word and inspect it from multiple angles and perspectives before settling on a consensus regarding its meaning. In this verse, a great deal of meaning can be taken from each word. Why is engrave used here, instead of write? To me, engraving is more permanent, an etching into a stone or other surface, while writing is on top of the surface, not penetrating it. Therefore, engraving goes deeper, and therefore would carry more weight than simply writing something down.

“And the light of Israel shall become fire, and his holy one shall become a flame, and it shall consume his thorns and his worms in one day (Isaiah 10:17).” The impending, inevitable destruction of Israel can’t be avoided. No matter what happens in the days and years leading up to it, the exile is coming, and the people will suffer. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. “For if your people Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, the remnant of them that shall return, shall wash away with righteousness the decreed destruction (Isaiah 10:22).” Israel will never be fully wiped out. There will always be a piece of the tribe remaining, ready to come back and rebuild and try to get things right yet again. That’s a reality that continues today. Once again, we’re back in the land of Israel, in the form of the modern state of Israel, and we’re trying to finally be the light unto the nations that we were charged with being.


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