Is this a possible rendering of this verse: "ask Me of things to come concerning my sons, and command the works of My hands" (as Joshua did, for example; Josh 10:12)

  • 1
    Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your question. Is this your own translation of the Hebrew text?
    – user25930
    Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 10:44
  • I cannot see the connection between Isa 45:11 and Josh 10:12. Could you clarify this question?
    – user25930
    Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 10:50
  • Joshua commanded the sun and moon to stand still in the sky Josh.10:12-13 Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 11:11
  • i would not presume to translate: thus the question. Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 11:15
  • the backdrop for this question are both the various translations of this verse, and the accounts of people in history commanding the works of His hands, such as Joshua, and more recently some churches in Tampa were rebuking the storm (Irma) in Jesus' name. (the hurricane was about to hit Tampa; "a lot of things went Florida’s way at the last minute,” said Phil Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University." It was predicted to hit tampa with a 120mph force causing major flooding, etc. It made a sharp turn on the coastline never touching Tampa. Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 2:42

2 Answers 2


I think that one could literally read the text that way, but I don't think the interpretation should be as you suggest.

I understand the connection with Joshua 10:12 you are proposing to be the sense that Joshua "told" God to make the sun and moon stand still:

Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; And thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.

In this passage, though, Joshua is actually commanding the sun and the moon, and not God.

Further, Isaiah 45:9-13 are part of God's rebuke of the people for bringing salvation to the exiles by means of a Persian king. "God rebukes them for their chutzpah", writes one Jewish commentator, "in questioning the means through which God chose to work."*

In essence, God is being sarcastic; somewhat in the way that is expressed in Job 38:4ff (Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding ...)

* Benjamin Sommer, in The Oxford Jewish Study Bible


First of all, I apologize for my wobbly English.

In spite of the hyper-praised Masoretic diacritic system, we do not found - in the written text - some specific symbols (like punctuation marks of ours) to conclude that Isa 45:11b is a God’s rhetorical (-negative) question, immediately.

Regrettably, the present condition of the Hebrew Holy Scriptures obliges us – in a number of cases – to make use of textual criticism and/or context to try to reach the correct understanding of a passage.

In this case, it is useful taking into an account the context of this specific passage.

As ‘User 33515’ has yet mentioned, this verse is part of a God’s answer to who objected to the choice of the Creator (Isa 45:12, 18) to ‘anoint’ Cyrus – a non-Israelite man/king - as who would subdue Babylonians, so setting the exiled Israelites free (Isa 45:13). Instead to anoint an Israelite king – like David the Warrior – to deliver Israel from the Babylonian grasp, God decided to utilize an heathen man, one who “not knows יהוה” (Isa 45:4-5).

This choice of God would be considered a strange, also, obscure decision, but, instead to consider this decision of God negatively, the Israelites would have to consider it in the same manner the prophet Isaiah did express himself in 45:15: “Indeed, You are a God Who hides, God of Israel, Rescuer” (Alter). Even if Isaiah did could think that this God’s decision were odd (Isa 28:21), he remained full of respect about the right of יהוה to do what He think is better for men. Anyway, for Isaiah, God will reveal himself as a Savior of his people. From their part, the Israelites, beyond their regained freedom, will have to reconstruct Jerusalem, restarting to worship God in a temple to him dedicated (Isa 44:26-28).

Taking into an account this background, we see how, starting from the verse 9, God rebukes who contend His choices. God compares the objectors to the 'clay', and Himself to the 'potter'. So, to translate the second part of the verse 11 as a rebuke against who dare to object the decisions of God reflects the more natural understanding of this Bible passage.

For John Wesley (in his Notes on the Bible) the sense of the second part of this passage is: “Will you not allow me that liberty which yourselves take, of disposing of my own children and works, as I see fit?

Also, some passages of the John Calvin’s Commentary – in this instance - would be useful (bold is mine). “[…] it is more reasonable to view this statement as depending on the preceding, so as to be an application of the metaphor in this sense: ‘A son will not be allowed to enter into a dispute with his father, and the clay will not be permitted to strive with its potter; how much more intolerable is this liberty which men take, when they prescribe to God in what manner he ought to treat his sons?’ For otherwise this sentence would be broken and imperfect, but those two clauses agree beautifully with each other. ‘The potter will make clay of any shape according to his pleasure, the son of a mortal man will not venture to expostulate with his father; and will you refuse to me, who am the supreme Father and Maker of all things, to have equal power over my sons and my creatures?’ […] Thus, in the clause, ‘Ask me of things to come’, the word ‘ask’ is taken in a bad sense, when men, forgetting modesty, do not hesitate to summon God to their bar, and to demand a reason for anything that he has done. This is still more evident from the word command; as if he had said, ‘It will belong to you, forsooth, to prescribe what shape I ought to give to my work!’ […]. It is as if God, wishing to maintain his right, thus refuted the slanders of the whole world: ‘How far shall your insolence carry its excesses, that you will not allow me to be master in my own workshop, or to govern my family as I think fit?

Moreover, there is a number of Bible versions which translate this passage with a rhetorical interrogative nuance, or - in any case - in a negative mode (from God’s viewpoint): BBE, CEV, ESV, ISV, LITV, MKJV, TS2009, TOB, Concordata (Italian).

In this groove also did proceed Calvin (how we have yet seen), Gataker, Vitringa, Lowth (“And do ye give me directions concerning the work of my hands?”), Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and Adam Clarke.

The Concordant Version (2015) translates: “Yet on concerning My children and concerning the deeds of My hands, shall you instruct Me?

The Bonaventura Mariani’s translation: “Is that for you to interrogate me about the future of my sons, and to give me orders about the work of my hands?” (translated from the original Italian).

The NET Bible translates and comments so: “How dare you question me [note 31] about my children! How dare you tell me what to do with [note 32] the work of my own hands!

tn #31) Heb “Ask me.” The rhetorical command sarcastically expresses the Lord’s disgust with those who question his ways.

tn #32) Heb “Do you command me about…?” The rhetorical question sarcastically expresses the Lord’s disgust with those who question his ways.

In conclusion, without being dogmatic, the Isa 45:11b higher translating probability is linked to a (rhetorical-)negative and/or interrogative sentence structure, in which God reprimands His objectors.

I take the opportunity – at the end of this answer of mine – to remember all, first to me, to accept what God has established for us. His purpose are always wise and long-sighted.

Indeed, You are a God Who hides, God of Israel, Rescuer

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