What does Isaiah 6:2 mean?
ESV: Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
NIV: Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.
NASB: Seraphim were standing above Him, each having six wings: with two each covered his face, and with two each covered his feet, and with two each flew.
CSB: Seraphim were standing above him; they each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew.
NLT: Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew.
KJV: Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
Verse Commentary:
Isaiah is describing a powerful experience he had with the Lord at or near the beginning of his work as a prophet. It's unknown whether he was physically in the temple or somewhere else (Isaiah 6:1). But whether this was a vision or Isaiah was standing in the temple, the context is the temple in Jerusalem. God chose for Isaiah to glimpse His presence in this way to call him to the work He had set aside for him.

For a mere man to be in the presence of God in any context is both terrifying and awesome, as Isaiah's reaction will show. He looks up to see the Lord upon His throne, with His royal robe filling the room (Isaiah 6:1). Now he adds that he saw the seraphim or "seraphs" standing above the Lord God.

Seraphim are a type of angel. The Hebrew word seraphim is used in Numbers 21:6 for the fiery serpents sent among the Israelites to bite and kill some of the people. Isaiah will also use the term to describe fiery flying serpents later in this book (Isaiah 14:29; 30:6). Scholars suggest they may have a dragon-like appearance.

These seraphim are six-winged creatures who stand in the presence of the Lord. This passage breaks down a description of these creatures by stating how each set of wings are used. One pair of wings is used to cover their faces, another pair is used to cover their feet, and the final pair of wings is used to fly. They hide their eyes from looking directly at the Lord and hide their feet so that He need not see them. Isaiah does not say how many of these creatures were with the Lord in this moment.
Verse Context:
Isaiah 6:1–7 describes Isaiah's call to serve as God's prophet in response to a powerful vision. This vision takes place near the beginning of his ministry, which is also the same year that King Uzziah of Judah dies. In this vision, Isaiah sees the Lord on a throne in His temple. Angelic seraphim call out about God's holiness in voices that shake the building. The prophet is overwhelmed by his own uncleanness. One of the seraph touches his lips with a coal from the altar, pronouncing his sin paid for.
Chapter Summary:
Isaiah 6 describes the vision of God, experienced by Isaiah, which began his work as a prophet. He sees the Lord in royal robes sitting on a throne in the temple. There are angelic seraphim calling out to each other about His holiness. Isaiah is overwhelmed by his own uncleanness until one seraph touches his lips with a burning coal from the altar. With his sin symbolically atoned for, Isaiah volunteers to go to his people on behalf of the Lord. The message he preaches will not penetrate their dull hearts. Yet Isaiah must preach until the judgment comes.
Chapter Context:
Isaiah 6 seems to answer the question of why Isaiah (Isaiah 1:1) was qualified to speak of Judah's sin and the Lord's coming judgment. The previous five chapters have already been on this topic. Isaiah describes seeing God in the temple on a throne, while hearing seraphim calling out about the Lord's holiness. After his lips are cleansed, Isaiah volunteers to take the Lord's message to his people Judah. The Lord shows Isaiah that message will not be received and that he will preach until the judgment comes. Chapters 7 and 8 detail Isaiah's early prophecies, including a famous prediction about the Messiah.
Book Summary:
Isaiah is among the most important prophetic books in the entire Bible. The first segment details God's impending judgment against ancient peoples for sin and idolatry (Isaiah 1—35). The second part of Isaiah briefly explains a failed assault on Jerusalem during the rule of Hezekiah (Isaiah 36—39). The final chapters predict Israel's rescue from Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 40—48), the promised Messiah (Isaiah 49—57), and the final glory of Jerusalem and God's people (Isaiah 58—66).
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