Hewn from the Rock

Isaiah tells the people of Judah to look to the “rock from which you were hewn, and to the cistern from which you were dug” (Isaiah 51:1). The next verse makes it clear that he is talking about Abraham and Sarah. Abraham the father is the rock; mother Sarah is the cistern or well from which they were plucked (cf. Proverbs 5:15 for a woman as well).

The only other passage that uses the verb “hew” with this noun “rock” ( tsor ) is Isaiah 22:16, which describes a tomb hewn out of a rock for kings. In the New Testament, “hewn from a rock” is only used for the tomb of Jesus (Matthew 27:60; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53). The same Greek verb and noun are used in the LXX of the Isaianic passages ( latomeo petra ), and these same terms are used by Matthew and Mark. Luke uses the single word laxeutos , “hewn in stone.”

“Look to the rock” is “look to the grave from which you came” – the grave of Abraham’s body, who along with Sarah was good as dead (Romans 4). Israel doesn’t look ahead to resurrection. Her birth was a resurrection. Isaiah says, “Look to that birth from the dead, and hope for a future resurrection.”

Abraham was only one when Yahweh called him (Isaiah 51:2), but Yahweh blessed and multiplied – as He blessed and multiplied the creatures at the beginning. From the sepulcher of Abraham, Yahweh called out a new creation.

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