The first part of Isaiah 11 is usually understood as a guarantee that, in the days to come, there will be global peace, and even the wild beasts will not harm each other:

the wolf shall dwell with the lamb. (v6)

But, the passage ends with:

They won't harm or destroy anywhere on my holy mountain. (v9)

From this verse, it seems that this peace will only occur in the holy mountain, that is, in a special location in Jerusalem.

On the other hand, since this geographic qualification appears only at the end of the passage, maybe the promise is more general.

Does the promise of "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb" apply to the entire world, or only to the holy mountain in Jerusalem?

  • Insightful question, +1. I added the verse numbers and updated the tags, happy to roll them back if you don't like the edits. Mar 25, 2022 at 14:33
  • More than any other book in the Old Testament, Isaiah focuses on the salvation that will come through the Messiah who will one day rule in justice and righteousness (Isaiah 9:7; 32:1). Isaiah 11:9 is a prophecy, one that has not yet been fulfilled because God's kingdom has not yet been established on earth. Do you enquire about the physical geography of God's holy mountain that existed in Isaiah's time, or to the prophetic fulfilment when the New Jerusalem, the Holy City, descends from heaven "after the old order othings has passed away" as described in Revelation chapter 21?
    – Lesley
    Mar 25, 2022 at 16:17

2 Answers 2


The full verse offers further context:

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9)

This promise extends beyond the geography of one single mountain.

In the Old Testament, mountains are frequently a place where people go to commune with God, and this practice is not restricted to only one mountain.

Later verses in the chapter speak of gathering, such as:

12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth

Whether Isaiah has in mind a physical gathering to one region, or a spiritual gathering to one faith (or both), this gathering is a worldwide phenomenon.

Jesus taught the woman at the well that it would not be necessary to go specifically to Jerusalem to worship (see John 4:21-23), suggesting God's intention to make knowledge, truth, and blessings available throughout the earth.

Nevertheless, access to this power from God is presented as contingent on heeding the call to "gather". The alternative (or opposite extreme), presented by Isaiah in verse 4, is to be slain with the wicked. If the wicked are destroyed and the righteous are gathered (physically and/or spiritually), the peace described by Isaiah should be seen as globally available.

  • So "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain" actually means "They shall not hurt nor destroy whenever they gather to worship God?" Mar 25, 2022 at 14:27
  • @ErelSegal-Halevi I might rephrase it slightly - if the only ones who remain are those who gather - there will be no hurt or destruction once that gathering is complete. Mar 25, 2022 at 14:30

What one makes of Isa 11 depends on the general prophetic scheme one adopts concerning eschatology, whether, preterist, historicist, futurist or idealist/spiritual. Regardless of which of these one adopts, several points about this prophecy are clear:

  • it concerns (at least in part) the return of the Jews to Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity under Zerubbabel
  • it concerns the work and ministry of the future Messiah
  • if "for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the sea is full of water" then this can only occur after Jesus' return

Thus, it appears that Isa 11 is a combination prophecy about at least three events:

  • The return of the Jews under Zerubbabel
  • The first coming of Jesus in Bethlehem and His ministry
  • The second coming of Jesus and the kingdom of God

That is, the actual event of the return of the Jews under the descendant of Jesse, Zerubbabel, is used as a prophetic model of the work of Messiah at His first and second advents. Note the text of Isa 11:6-9

6 The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the goat; the calf and young lion and fatling will be together, and a little child will lead them.

7 The cow will graze with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

8 The infant will play by the cobra’s den, and the toddler will reach into the viper’s nest.

9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the sea is full of water.

None of this has ever occurred, and will never occur, until the LORD establishes the literal, visible kingdom of God following His return to earth. In such a scenario, the New Jerusalem on the new Mt Zion (Rev 21) will be the capital of God's government and only then (compare Heb 8:11) will everyone "know the Lord".

Historically, the earthly city of Jerusalem has been one of the most fought-over places on earth with untold bloodshed in countless battles. However, when the New Jerusalem is established:

They will neither harm nor destroy on all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the sea is full of water. (Isa 11:9)

  • So you say that the term "holy mountain" refers to a different place? What place exactly? Mar 26, 2022 at 18:24
  • @ErelSegal-Halevi - I did not say that anywhere!! (No did it enter my head) All I said was V9 refers to the place of the New Jerusalem - if you understand Zech 14 applies to the New Jerusalem then it will be in the same place but that is another question.
    – Dottard
    Mar 26, 2022 at 20:42
  • OK, so there will be peace only in the New Jerusalem? Not in the rest of the world? Mar 26, 2022 at 20:52
  • @ErelSegal-Halevi - again, that is not what I said - the New Jerusalem is the capitol of God's government (whatever that means) to govern the whole world and all the earth (ie, the whole world) "will be full of the knowledge of the LORD".
    – Dottard
    Mar 26, 2022 at 20:54
  • 1
    @ErelSegal-Halevi - I am not a fan of re-wording the Scriptures. However, that is the idiom of the Hebrew - the implication of this idiom is that because God's government, justice and influence will be both known and understood throughout the earth, God's influence will spread from the "holy mountain" throughout the earth, ie, all the people.
    – Dottard
    Mar 26, 2022 at 21:00

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