Isaiah 57:15 – Examining the Hebrew Word ‘Ad

Isaiah 57:15: “For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

This is one of scriptures that is often used to show that Yahweh is eternal, to which we agree; however, it is often claimed that, by the usage here, that this proves that the Hebrew word ‘ad means eternity, either as meaning eternal past, present and future, or else that eternity exists outside of time altogether. Although eternal past is implied here, the Hebrew word ‘ad does not, of itself, necessarily mean this, as one can easily determinine by looking up the how it is used in various verses.

Some read into Isaiah 57:15 that Yahweh dwells outside of time; whether Yahweh actually dwells outside of time or not is not given in the Bible, not is anything in the Hebrew to warrant this conclusion. The Hebrew word ‘ad cannot be used to make such claim. The Hebrew word ‘ad (Strong’s 5710) is also used of the dwelling of the righteous on earth in Psalm 37:29, where no thought would be placed in dwelling outside of time. In Numbers 24:20, does the word ‘ad there mean eternity outside of time, or does it refer to Amalek as having perished referring to future time? The Hebrew word ‘ad is usually used pertaining to future time.

In Psalm 41:13, 90:2; 93:2, Yahweh is said to be “from everlasting.”  These verses are often cited in connection with Isaiah 57:15. The word used in these verses, usually translated as “everlasting’, is not ‘ad, but rather the word often transliterated as ‘olam or ‘owlam. Does ‘owlam, of itself, designate eternal past, present and future, or an eternity outside of time? We have discussed this word elsewhere*, and have shown from the scriptures that it does not inherently mean either. The word can take on the meaning of eternal past or eternal future, depending on context. The very wording of the verses (Psalm 41:13, 90:2; 93:2) under discussion, however, indicates that it is not being used to mean eternity outside of time, since the time elements of “from” (past time) and “to” (future time) are given related to its use. Of itself, however, the Hebrew word ‘olam does not designate either eternal past or eternal future; the contextual usage in this verse, however, as applied to Yahweh, does give it the meaning of eternal past and eternal future.
Proverbs 8:22,23 – Proof that Jesus Existed For All Eternity Past?
Micah 5:2 – From everlasting or from ancient days?

Nevertheless, returning to Isaiah 57:15, the New American Standard renders Isaiah 57:15 as: “For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever.” The Hebrew word translated “lives” (Strong’s #7931) simply means to dwell, reside. The Hebrew is simply saying that Yahweh dwells forever, He continues to abide forever, that is, that he lives into the future without end.

Nevertheless, “eternity” is claimed to be a supposed incommunicable attribute of Yahweh, and thus no one else should have it. We concur that having an eternal past only belongs to Yahweh, the only true God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus. (John 17:3; Ephesians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3) On the other hand, to live forever (as pertaining to the future) is not an incommunicable attribute of Yahweh. We gave Psalm 37:29 which shows that humans will dwell for eternity (‘ad) upon the earth; this certainly doesn’t mean that they will dwell in an eternity outside of time, or that they will share an incommunicable attribute of Yahweh. — See also: Psalm 21:4,6; 22:26.

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