Word Study: Closed Up עצר

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WORD STUDY – CLOSED UP ת

Isaiah 66:9: “Shall I bring forth birth and not cause to bring forth, says the Lord. Shall I cause to bring forth and shut the womb?, says your God.”

At first glance this repetition of two phrases seem to say the same thing and indeed it does, once the birthing process is started, the birth will take place. The picture being that once God has made a promise, He will not do anything from preventing that promise from being fulfilled. The prior verses show that there is a time element involved in the fulfillment of His promises just as there is a time element involved from the conception of a baby to its birth. Just as there are birth pains before a child is born, so there are birth pains to a promise as it is being delivered.

But soft, let’s back up. These two phrases that appear to repeat themselves are not identical. As it is typical of Hebrew poetry, when a phrase or thought is repeated, there is a shade of difference between the two. This is more apparent in the Hebrew than in the English.

The words bring forth in the first phrase are two different words. The first word for bring forth is shavar which is the word for destruction, sorrow, affliction, broken heart and pain. It is in a Hiphal (causative) form. Now, I am not saying that this is wrongly translated, I believe our English versions give a correct translation and the picture of childbirth is the intent of the passage. However, these words carry a double meaning for those who seek a deeper understanding. This can also be rendered: “Shall I bring affliction, sorrow, heartbreak or pain upon you and not cause it to bring forth?’ This second word for bring forth is yalad which is to give birth but also the word used for a child. This also has a double meaning. Hence this first phrase can also be render: “Shall I bring affliction, sorrow, heartbreak and pain upon you and not cause it to make you like little children. It is very interesting that after this first phrase the writer says: “says the Lord or Jehovah.” This name for God is in a feminine form and reveals His feminine nature, the caring and nurturing part of God. So the picture being drawn here is that of God using affliction, sorrow , heartbreak and pain to cause us to become like little children so we will be dependent upon Him like a child is totally dependent upon its mother for provision, nourishment, and protection.

The second phrase, although similar is quite different. “Shall I cause to bring forth and shut the womb?” Here the word bring forth is yalad meaning birth or child, but used as a Hiphal (causative) participle with an article in front of it. This would be rendered: “Should I cause the birthing or the making of you as a child and shut the womb?” The word for womb is not in the Hebrew, rather it is just the word shut up. This word is asar which means to restrain, shut up, close up, or hold back. However, this is in a qal perfect form. Thus we could render this phrase as: “Shall I cause the making of you as a child when I have already shut up, or closed up? This word for closed up is spelled Ayin, Sade and Resh. These letters and position indicate this is being closed off from support, love and restoration.

Notice how this ends by saying: “says your God.” Here the word is “Elohim” which is masculine and represents the masculine nature of God, the provider, protector as well as the disciplinarian. Here we see where this process of being humbled and dependent upon God is a disciplinarian process that could be painful but it is administered with love, support and the promise of restoration after the discipline has been administered.

This verse can be read two ways, both ways being correct, both giving a similar and wonderful promise. I would give this second rendering as: “Shall I cause the making of you as a child who is totally dependant upon me as a child is to its mother and this process of making you into this child be without the support, love and restoration of a father?”

The first rendering tells us that when God makes a promise and sets it into motion, nothing will stop its birthing process. The second, dual rendering tells us that the process of making us dependent upon God as little children are to their parents, is like a birthing process and there will be birth pains but we will be carried through with the love and support of our Heavenly Father who will restore us as a little child totally dependent upon Him.

I personally have no specific personal promise from God other than those found in His word “never leave nor forsake” or a “heavenly home.” So the first rendering is not as applicable to me as this second rendering. This second application promises me that as I go through this process of experiencing the type of difficulty that will strip me of all my trust in myself, God will always be there to support, love and restore me until the world can see that my trust is in Him and in Him alone.