Isaiah 56

Return of the First Captives[a]

Chapter 56

The Lord Welcomes All People

1 Thus says the Lord:
Maintain justice
and do what is right.
For my salvation is close at hand,
and my righteousness will soon be revealed.
2 Happy is the man who does this,
the one who holds fast to my instructions,
who observes the Sabbath without profaning it
and refrains from every evil deed.
3 Let no foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.”
Permit no eunuch[b] to believe,
“I am nothing but a dried-up tree.”
4 For thus says the Lord:
To the eunuchs who observe my Sabbaths,
who choose to do my will
and hold fast to my covenant,
5 I will give in my house
and within my walls
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters.
I will give them an everlasting name
that will never be effaced.
6 The foreigners who pledge their allegiance to the Lord,
who minister to him,
who love the name of the Lord
and become his servants,
who keep the Sabbath and do not profane
and who hold fast to my covenant:
7 all these I will bring to my holy mountain
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar,
for my house will be called
a house of prayer for all peoples.
8 Thus says the Lord God
who gathers the exiles of Israel:
There are others whom I will call forth
besides those who have already been gathered.

Wicked Rulers

9 All you wild beasts of the fields and of the forest,
come forth and gorge yourselves.
10 Israel’s watchmen are all blind;
they perceive absolutely nothing.
They are all dumb watchdogs
that are unable to bark,
dreaming as they lie there,
loving the opportunity to sleep.
11 The dogs have a ravenous appetite;
meanwhile the shepherds are never satisfied.
They comprehend nothing;
each of them goes his own way,
all of them interested solely in their own gain.
12 “Come,” says each one, “I will fetch some wine,
and we will fill ourselves with strong drink.
And tomorrow will be like today,
or perhaps even better.”


  1. Isaiah 56:1 The oracles of the third part of the Book of Isaiah give us a glimpse chiefly of the difficulties faced by Judaism, which was born during the Exile. Most of the passages seem to come from the most difficult years, those following upon the return (530–510 B.C.). All are not the work of one and the same author. The oracles endeavor to lead believers to a surer, but also purer and more spiritual hope.
  2. Isaiah 56:3 Eunuch[s] were to be equal in every respect to the other members of the community of Israel (see Deut 23:2).

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