This is the fourth haftara of consolation. Once again we find the language of redemption doubled in this portion. Also drawn from this haftara are most of the themes of R’ Shlomo Alkebetz’s Lecha Dodi. This is where Hashem tells us that it didn’t cost anything to send us into exile, and that we won’t need money to return to Israel. “And since my people were sold for free, what is here for me?” (Yeshayahu 52:5).
In the long and bitter exile to which Israel was banished, “those who rule over them celebrate [the apparent victory over G-d’s people] and… all day long they desecrate my name!” The last word in the sentence, “minoatz,” on the one hand is grammatically problematic but on the other, it sounds to our ears somewhat like that of the enemies who tried to destroy us less than a century ago. The Ibn Ezra believes the word was a copyist’s error – that it ought to have been a reflexive verb because the enemies are making themselves into desecrators. But Ibn Ezra was not familiar with those particular enemies who made their name the same as the Hebrew word for those who agitate against or desecrate the name of G-d. Earlier Moshe warned us that we ourselves might act like this, and we will be met with appropriate punishment.
The navi tells us that when Hashem decides to act to redeem Israel, He will do it in a way that all of the nations of the world will be forced to take notice. When the final redemption comes, it won’t be a relatively local affair like the Exodus from Egypt. When Hashem comes to take His people out of the final exile, as we have already heard in the preceding haftarot, the voice that heralds the redemption will be skipping across the mountains.
Another important difference between the final redemption and the redemption from Egypt is that in the final redemption, Israel will not be hurried out in panic and in urgency. According to Radak on the final verse of our haftara (Yeshayahu 52:12), the victory over the forces of evil will be so absolute that Israel will return at a leisurely pace because her enemies will be crushed and nobody will dare to threaten her again.
We spoke a few weeks ago of the names of Hashem traveling together to accentuate the work of mercy and forgiveness that is done in the universe. Here we see them marching together with Israel returning to the Land. “Hashem [the four-letter name] goes before you and the rearguard is the G-d of Israel [from the name Elokim].” Israel is guarded and escorted on both sides by the divine aspects of Mercy and Justice.