Who has directed the spirit of Yahweh,
or who has instructed him as his counselor? Bible other translations

“Who has.” Here in these verses, Isaiah 40:12-28, Yahweh is clearly the one and only God. He created the universe and no other god was His counselor. Yahweh is the one God of Israel, surely, but He is the One God, period. There are no other gods who helped Him create the universe. We today don’t think twice about these statements, but they were a new revelation to people in the ancient world, who saw the universe as the product of the work of many gods.

“the spirit of Yahweh.” In this context, the “spirit” of Yahweh refers to His mind, which is why it could be “directed” or “instructed.” The word “directed” is takan (#08505 תָּכַן), and it has been translated a number of different ways (“directed,” HCSB, KJV, NASB, NAB, NRSV, REV; “measured,” CJB, ESV; “meted out,” JPS, YLT; “understood,” NIV84; “can fathom,” NIV2011; “able to advise,” NLT. In the context, “directed” seems to be a good translation.

The “spirit of God” sometimes refers to the deep inner things of God, such as His mind, something which the Bible itself clarifies. Isaiah 40:13 is quoted two times in the New Testament: Romans 11:34 and 1 Corinthians 2:16. In both of those passages, the word “spirit” in Isaiah is translated as “mind.” For example, Romans 11:34 says, “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor,” and 1 Corinthians 2:16 also has “the mind of the Lord.” That Isaiah uses the word “spirit” but the New Testament uses the word “mind” shows us that “the spirit of Yahweh” in Isaiah is not a reference to a separate “Person” in the Trinity, but is a way of speaking about God or His inner parts, in this case, His mind.

The Septuagint also reads “mind” instead of “spirit,” showing that the ancient Jews understood the “spirit” of God to refer to the workings of His mind. That would not be unusual since many times the Hebrew word “spirit” was used of the working of the mind or the emotions (cp. The Hebrew word for “spirit,” ruach, is also used of people’s thoughts, attitudes, and emotions (cp. Gen. 26:35; 45:27; Exod. 6:9; Deut. 2:30; Josh. 2:11; 5:1; Judg. 8:3; 1 Sam. 1:15; 1 Kings 10:5; 21:5; Job 7:11; 17:1; 21:4; Ps. 34:18; 51:17; 143:4; Prov. 16:18, 19, 32; 29:11; Ecc. 1:14; Isa. 54:6; Ezek. 11:5; and Haggai 1:14). [For more on the usages of “spirit” in the Bible, see Appendix 6, “Usages of Spirit”].

“counselor.” The Hebrew is literally, “a man of his counsel,” that is a “man” who gives him counsel. The Hebrew word “man,” ish (#0376אִישׁ ), while it could refer to a human, in this context more likely generically refers to “someone,” human or spirit being, who is a counselor, thus the translation, “counselor.”

Isaiah 40:13-14 have been used to try to show that God does not work with a divine council, but works alone and without the advice or support of others. However, that is not what the verse is saying. There is ample evidence that God works in concert with His creation and enlists them in helping Him administer the universe. 1 Kings 22:19-20 shows God asking his spirit beings how Ahab can be defeated in battle. Isaiah 6:8 shows God asking who He can send to Israel.

Beyond those scriptures, and there are more like them, God enlisted the aid of Adam and Eve to administer the earth (Gen. 1:28), the aid of judges to help Him rule mankind (Deut. 16:18), the aid of ministers in the Church to help His Son administer the Church (Eph. 4:10-12), and in the future He will enlist the aid of judges and rulers to help His Son rule the Messianic Kingdom on earth (Isa. 1:26; Jer. 23:4). Given that God has worked with His creation to help administer it in all those different ways, why would he not work with His creation to administer the spirit world? Furthermore, the word “archangel” means “leading, chief, or ruling” angel, so there are ruling spirits in the spirit world.

The point of this section of Isaiah is not to make the point that God works alone without the help of other spirit or human beings, but to show that He does not need their help—God is the Great Power in the universe, the everlasting God. He does not need anyone to counsel or teach Him. He is enthroned above the earth (Isa. 40:22), and none can be compared to Him or be His equal (Isa. 40:25). God enlists the help of His creation to rule the various aspects of the universe, but not because He could not do it Himself, it is an act of love and desire to interact with His creation. [For more on God’s divine council, see commentary on Genesis 1:26. For more on the future Millennial Kingdom on earth, see commentary on Matt. 5:5].

Commentary for: Isaiah 40:13