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to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;

Is the year and the day referring to the same time period?

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  • I suggest that they are, in any case, the same event. "Favour" meaning God saving his people from their enemies (including the existence of sin), and "vengeance" meaning what happens to the enemies. Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 20:14
  • @StephenDisraeli I believe they are but I want justification Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 20:15

2 Answers 2

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If the poetry of Isaiah were all we had to go on, we would tend to see verse two as synonymous parallel, although Hebrew poetry does not require it to be so. There are other forms. However, that is not all that we have to go on. When Jesus said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing,” he had read only the first half of verse two and left off "the day of vengeance." This indicates that Jesus did not see the day of vengeance as full filled at that time.

And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

        18       “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, 
  because he has anointed me 
  to proclaim good news to the poor. 
              He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives 
  and recovering of sight to the blind, 
  to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 
        19       to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 

20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:17–21, ESV)

Thus, the parallelism in Isaiah 61:2 is something like antithetic parallelism. Favor and vengeance are opposites. Favor is shown to friends and vengeance to enemies. The traditional Christian interpretation being "the year of the LORD’s favor" is Christ's first coming and "and the day of vengeance of our God" (ESV) refers to the second coming.

However, the Jewish interpretation, while seeing the antithetic nature of the parallelism, usually sees them as the same time period.

And a day of vengeance for our God—It shall be a year of the Lord’s favor for the nation, but the very opposite for the Lord’s enemies, as in 63:4: “For I had planned a day of vengeance, and My year of redemption arrived”; -- Paul, S. M. (2012). Isaiah 40–66: Translation and Commentary (p. 540). William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

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We see a similar pattern often in the Hebrew scriptures such as:

  • Isa 34:8 - For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion.
  • Isa 61:2 - to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of our God’s vengeance, to comfort all who mourn
  • Isa 63:4 - For the day of vengeance was in My heart, and the year of My redemption had come.
  • Job 10:5 - Are Your days like those of a mortal, or Your years like those of a man,
  • Job 15:20 - A wicked man writhes in pain all his days; only a few years are reserved for the ruthless.
  • Job 36:11 - If they obey and serve Him, then they end their days in prosperity and their years in happiness.
  • Ps 61:6 - Increase the days of the king’s life; may his years span many generations.
  • Ps 90:15 - Make us glad for as many days as You have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen evil.
  • Eze 22:4 - ... You have brought your days to a close, and the end of your years has come. ...

Observe the consistent pattern - "day" and "year" are always used in synthetic parallelism. Further, "vengeance" and "redemption/favor/recompense" are also used in synthetic parallelism. How can this be? This is explicitly answered in Deut 32:35 -

Vengeance is Mine; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; for their day of disaster is near, and their doom is coming quickly.”

This, "day of vengeance" is explained further in the NT where this verse is quoted:

  • Rom 12:19 - Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but leave room for God’s wrath. For it is written: “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, says the Lord.”
  • Heb 10:30 - For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge His people.”

This idea is central to the Hebrew concept of righteousness and leaving the consequences to God. Quite frequently, the righteous ask God to repay them by vindicating them on the day of judgement, as per 2 Sam 16:12, 1 Kings 2:32, 44, 2 Tim 4:14, Isa 26:23, etc.

Thus, God was seen as the final arbiter of justice - giving the reward to the saints and punishing the wicked, Ps 62:12, Prov 24:12, Matt 16:27, Rom 2:6, 2 Cor 5:10, Rev 22;12, etc.

Thus, there is nothing unusual about "the year of the Lord's favor" being synonymous with "the day of God's vengeance". In the Hebrew mind, this is the same thing - one cannot have one without the other.

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  • Synthetic parallelism. Lowth concluded his description of the types of parallelism with a third category, synthetic parallelism. Synthetic parallelism labels those lines in which the second phrase completes or supplements the first. There is little positive to be said in favor of retaining this category. As a matter of fact, it is likely that synthetic lines are not parallel at all. The label has been used by some scholars as a “catchall” for those lines which are neither synonymous nor antithetic. Longman, T., III. (1988). How to Read the Psalms (p. 100). IVP Academic; Inter-Varsity Press.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Feb 4, 2023 at 12:50

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