Consider the following passage:

Isaiah 55:13 KJV Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

I am reading the pronoun in the emphasized clause to refer to either "my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth" (v. 11), so that the passage would indicate that the word that comes forth shall be to Yahweh for a name (of calling), or otherwise that the pronoun "the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands" (v. 12) and so the passage would indicate that these miraculous signs shall be a name (of character or renown).

Is either one of these a more reliable reading? Am I missing "it" altogether?

3 Answers 3


"It" is the dual occurrence of the fir tree coming up instead of the thorn and the myrtle tree coming up instead of the brier, or perhaps simply the presence of the cypress and the myrtle. A less archaic translation makes this more clear:

Isaiah 55:13 (Tanakh)

Instead of the brier, a cypress shall rise;
Instead of the nettle, a myrtle shall rise.
These shall stand as a testimony to the LORD,
As an everlasting sign that shall not perish.

where the JPS translators chose "testimony" in place of the King James' "name" for שֵׁם

  • 1
    +1 I see the same thing in the word לְשֵׁ֔ם, i.e. for renown/fame/a report (testimony). It's not as if Isaiah is coining a new name for God like, El Shaddai, Jehovah Nissi, Jehovah Jireh, etc., but rather, when these things appear you will know that the LORD has fulfilled his promise, which will then trigger the joy and song and hand clapping of verse 12.
    – enegue
    Jun 4, 2017 at 6:06

I came across your intriguing question and I felt compelled to 'tuck in'.

In Ezekiel 2:6

And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.

The briers, the thorns and the scorpions are the rebellious. It's same figure of speech in
Isaiah 55:13

Trees are symbolic for people when their deeds are the subject matter;

Judges 9:6-16

6 And all the men of Shechem gathered together, and all the house of Millo, and went, and made Abimelech king, by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem.
7 And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you.
8 The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.
9 But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?
10 And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. .
16 Now therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely, in that ye have made Abimelech king, and if ye have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done unto him according to the deserving of his hands;

From the above verses, the trees depicted Israel;

Judges 8:22-23.

22 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, "Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son's son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian."
23 But Gideon said to them, "I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the LORD shall rule over you."

The olive, the vine, the fig, etc denoted more noble individuals than Abimelech, his own slain brothers, himself as the bramble.

In Isaiah 55:13 God signifies by a thorn and a brier, a type of people that walks in specific rebellious ways relative to another type of people, denoted as the fir and the myrtle, that walk in righteous ways. The latter category are those for a name to the LORD, a name that will not be cut-off.
Cut-off is a term specific to judgement upon wicked spirits.
Note below that even when an idolater has already been killed, or in the case when people have no will to kill him, God says he will 'cut him off'; what Matthew 10:28 properly summarises.

Leviticus 20

2 Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.
3 And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.
4 And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not:
5 Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people.

A name here denotes essence, what makes an angel to be an angel, for example or a human being to be a human. That is the name meant here. That is to say, concerning a people with a wicked nature that plagued Israel, and this wickedness is also categorised by the presence of a thorn and a brier, the LORD promises to 'form' a people with a righteous nature in the symbols of fir and myrtle. This has always been God's plan for Israel; This new nature or essence is the name that will not be cut-off.

A sign is contextual, denoting a servant who convenes, in Isaiah 66:19 & Matthew 24:30, it's messiah. But in this case of Isaiah 55 the sing refers to a permanent feature of reference, as a reminder, as meant in;

Ezekiel 20:12

Also I gave them My sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them.

So, whereas other 'names' can be 'cut-off', for example, the famous name of 666 having which sends one into the infernal lake, the essence or name that these fir trees and myrtle trees become, from above, is forever.

The essence or the new nature of the righteous people, these denoted as the fir and the myrtle, that is the referent of 'it shall be to the LORD for a name'. Simply put, it's His 'name', Isaiah 56:5 and Isaiah 43:7, forexample. .

  • Intriguing answer. Do you have any more support for your use of "name" as "Essence"? I can see what you are saying but your support for it is the weakest part of the answer now. In contrast, your point on the trees is very fully laid out.
    – Joshua
    Dec 6, 2016 at 12:13
  • The Hebrew word that the KJV translates as "name" does not appear to have the meaning you suggest in this context. It leans more towards reputation or fame - as in "He made a name for himself." One Jewish translation (the JPS Tanakh) translates שֵׁם as "testimony". NASB and RSV suggest "memorial"; NIV chose "renown".
    – user33515
    Mar 6, 2017 at 1:57
  • @user33515 Genesis 48:17...bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers... Fame cannot be 'cut off,' A nature, a kind or an essence can, 1Sam 24:21. A seed is the 'Name'. Don't read scriptures like a newspaper! The seed/offspring is the same as the name in Isaiah 66:22. In scriptures a name often refers to those not of the stock of Israel. It was custom to sire a 'child' for the deceased that his 'name' may not be 'cut off' from Israel; Ruth 4:5 + 4:10. It's the same notion of a seed 'raised up' for a 'name' to YAH and such as can never be 'cut off,'
    – Ted O
    Mar 6, 2017 at 2:25
  • I'm with Joshua. I wouldn't say "essence," I'd say "breath," but essence is correct. A person's name described their essence, in some way -what the birth meant to their parents or what it meant to God. This can be compared to the holy spirit (the holy breath) = we needed Christ to die to resurrect to give us the holy spirit (the holy breath), a completely different breath than what we have. That breath absolutely determines our essence. "Shem" is "name" and "breath." :-) Mar 6, 2017 at 2:28
  • @Gigi Sanchez A name is contextual, granted, and breath also seeming to be included as an allusion, but one express reference is to essence, the famous one being in Exodus 23:21 alongside several others.
    – Ted O
    Mar 6, 2017 at 2:52

I would translate Isaiah 55:13 like this:

In the place of the thorn, a fir tree will come up.
And in the place of the brier, a myrtle tree will come up.
And it shall be to the LORD for esteem,
An everlasting beacon that will never be extinguished.


enter image description here

The first port of call for determining a referent, is surely the immediate context. The prophet is not coining a new name for God in this passage, but is depicting a state of blessing that will stand as an everlasting memorial to his goodness.

The miraculous transformation of a land of thorns and briers will cause the joy and singing and hand clapping referred to in verse 12, and it will be as perpetual as the stars in the night sky.

  • Can you give a little more justification for choosing esteem/renown?
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 5, 2017 at 0:06
  • I have given the justification "The miraculous transformation of a land of thorns and briers will cause the joy and singing and hand clapping referred to in verse 12, and it will be as perpetual as the stars in the night sky". I even included the verse from Genesis where God created the stars for signs (אוֹת - same word used here in Isaiah) and seasons, i.e. a perpetual advertisement to God's goodness and creative genius, which Paul says is inexcusable not to recognize (Romans 1:19-20).
    – enegue
    Jun 5, 2017 at 2:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.