Isaiah 48:12-13 The Heavens and the Earth Stand Up Together

I read through Isaiah 48 yesterday and it had another reference to God laying the foundations of the earth and stretching the heavens. (I should have started counting how many times Isaiah mentions this; they’re adding up.)

I glossed over verse 13 because it seemed similar to what I read before. But it caught my eye this morning and now it’s haunting me so I have to post about it:

“Listen to Me, Jacob,
and Israel, the one called by Me:
I am He; I am the first,
I am also the last.
My own hand founded the earth,
and My right hand spread out the heavens;
when I summoned them,
they stood up together.

“Listen to Me, O Jacob,
And Israel, My called:
I am He, I am the First,
I am also the Last.
13 Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth,
And My right hand has stretched out the heavens;
When I call to them,
They stand up together.

I get the picture of a person lying flat on the floor and standing up. Or a house that has a foundation and the walls being raised. Both of these things picture adding dimension or possibly mass. :exploding_head: But I also don’t want to go too overboard with reading in science where there’s only metaphor - though it fits the cosmology I already have in my head.

So provide me your expert exegesis and commentary. :grinning:

Here’s what Matthew Henry has to say:

He is the God that made the world, and he that did that can do any thing, Isa. 48:13. Look we down? We see the earth firm under us, and feel it so; it was his hand that laid the foundation of it. Look we up? We see the heavens spread out as a canopy over our heads, and it was his hand that spread them, that spanned them, that stretched them out, and did it by an exact measure, as the workman sometimes metes out his work by spans. This intimates that God has a vast reach and can compass designs of the greatest extent. If the palm of his right hand (so the margin reads it) has gone so far as to stretch out the heavens, what will he do with his outstretched arm? Yet this is not all: he has not only made the heavens and the earth, and therefore he in whom our hope and help is omnipotent (Ps. 124:8), but he has the command of all the hosts of both; when he calls them into his service, to go on his errands, they stand up together, they come at the call, they answer to their names: “Here we are; what wilt thou have us to do?” They stand up, not only in reverence to their Creator, but in a readiness to execute his orders: They stand up together , unanimously concurring, and helping one another in the service of their Maker. If God therefore will deliver his people, he cannot be at a loss for instruments to be employed in effecting their deliverance.


Sometimes my google feed likes me.

Alas, there is nothing specifically theological about the Higgs boson, even if it does help to fill in the scientific picture of creation, the Big Bang theory.


As Quanta magazine reports, study of the Higgs field and boson are ongoing. Mathematical models of the Big Bang indicate that in the first few moments of the universe’s expansion, the Higgs field had a value of zero, and nothing in the universe had any mass. Physicists are still not sure what caused the Higgs field to “switch on” just after the Big Bang, giving mass to particles and eventually causing them to form galaxies, stars and us.

I haven’t read the Higgs described this way before that I can remember.

@deuteroKJ @AllenWitmerMiller
Do you have any opinion on the verb tense of Isaiah 48:13b? That’s especially what I was wondering about.

First I should emphasize that tense in Hebrew is rather tricky for English speakers because (and this gets complicated, so I’m not going to try and explain it) but Hebrew verb tense operated very differently from most modern European languages.

The first two verbs (for laid and stretched) are perfect tense but the last verb (stand up) is an imperfect.

The stretched out verb is a Piel perfect. Piel is usually summarized as an intensive action but can also be causative or resultative.


@AllenWitmerMiller already mentioned the problem with thinking about tense. But what really are you asking?

Thanks @AllenWitmerMiller I looked up some basics of those terms so I had some idea of what you were talking about. That “stretched out” is an intensive action is interesting enough.

My question was whether “call” and “stand up” are each past actions, past and ongoing actions, or present actions compared to “laid the foundation” and “stretched out.”

But the answer is that you can’t tell in Hebrew without the context?

Most likely, the last option: “laid” and “spread out” are past; “call” and “stand forth” are generic/axiomatic/ongoing (“call” is a participle, so seems to have a durative sense; translations that say “when I call…” seem to be on the right track).