"All Who Are Thirsty"


Free Food?

Yeshayahu 55 opens with the announcement that "all who are thirsty" should head for water:

(א) הוֹי כׇּל צָמֵא לְכוּ לַמַּיִם וַאֲשֶׁר אֵין לוֹ כָּסֶף לְכוּ שִׁבְרוּ וֶאֱכֹלוּ וּלְכוּ שִׁבְרוּ בְּלוֹא כֶסֶף וּבְלוֹא מְחִיר יַיִן וְחָלָב. (ב) לָמָּה תִשְׁקְלוּ כֶסֶף בְּלוֹא לֶחֶם וִיגִיעֲכֶם בְּלוֹא לְשׇׂבְעָה שִׁמְעוּ שָׁמוֹעַ אֵלַי וְאִכְלוּ טוֹב וְתִתְעַנַּג בַּדֶּשֶׁן נַפְשְׁכֶם.
(1) Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye for water, And he that hath no money; Come ye, buy, and eat; Yea, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price. (2) Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your gain for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto Me, and eat ye that which is good, And let your soul delight itself in fatness.

Yeshayahu provides no background to his call, making one wonder what prompts the proclamation.  Are the people in economic distress, in dire need of food and drink? Why is it that they spend money and get nothing in return?  The prophet also suggests that to benefit from Hashem's promise the people must first heed Hashem's words.  Which is the primary focus of the prophecy – this exhortation to repent or the earlier promise of prosperity?

Additional Questions

Several other verses raise questions which impact upon our understanding of the prophecy: