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Jerusalem’s punishment


Rabbi David Sperling

Av 3, 5779
I've pondered Is. 40:2 for many years. I was hoping to discover what is meant by Jerusalem has received double by the hand of HaShem for all her sins?
Shalom, Thank you for your question. You ask about the verse in Isiah 40, 2 “Bid Jerusalem take heart, And proclaim unto her, That her time of service is accomplished, That her guilt is paid off; That she hath received of the Lord's hand Double for all her sins.” This prophecy (which is read in synagogues in a few weeks, after the fast of the 9th of Av, marking many tragedies) describes that Jerusalem (the city, or the Jewish people) will find comfort after having received “double” punishment for her sins. The various commentators explain this verse in different ways. Some explain that the comfort will be so great, as great as the comfort given to us if we had in fact been hit two fold for our sins (even if we did not in fact suffer so much). Others explain that indeed we were punished twofold (as found in a possible reading of Jeramiah16,18). Others still explain the “double” refers to the two exiles (after the first Temple, and then after the second). Or we received double the punishment other nations receive for their sins. In any event – the main message of the verse is that G-d will in fact return His care to the Jewish people. We are blessed to live in a time when we see these verses being played out before our eyes. May we merit to see the complete redemption, and the full actualization of the prophesies in our days. Blessings.
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