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Isaiah 41

41
XLI
1Keep silence before me, O Islands;
And let the nations renew their strength:
Let them draw near; then let them speak;
Let us come near together to judgment.
2Who hath stirred up from the east him,
Whom justice met at his feet?
Who hath given up the nations before him, that he should rule over kings?
Hath made as the dust, his sword;
As chaff driven by the wind, his bow?
3He hath pursued them, he hath passed safely,
By a way which no man had ever gone with his feet.
4Who hath wrought and done it,
Calling the generations from the beginning?
I Jehovah, the first;
And with the last, I am the same.
5The isles saw it, and feared;
The ends of the earth were terrified:
They drew near, they came together.
6They helped every one his neighbour,
And everyone said to his brother, Be of good courage.
7So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith,
And he that smootheth with the hammer him that smiteth on the anvil:
Saying of the soldering, It is good;
And he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved.
8But thou, O Israel, my servant,
O Jacob, whom I have chosen,
The seed of Abraham my friend;
9Thou, whom I have taken from the ends of the earth,
And called thee from the extremities thereof;
And said unto thee, Thou art my servant;
I have chosen thee, and will not reject thee.
10Fear not, for I am with thee;
Be not dismayed, for I am thy God.
I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee;
Yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
11Behold, all they that were enraged against thee shall be ashamed and confounded:
They that contended with thee shall become as nothing, and shall utterly perish.
12Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even the men that strove with thee:
They shall become as nothing, and as mere nought, even the men that opposed thee in battle.
13For I Jehovah thy God, hold thee fast by thy right hand,
Saying unto thee, Fear not: I am thy helper.
14Fear not, thou worm Jacob; ye mortals of Israel;
I will help thee, saith Jehovah;
And thy Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
15Behold, I have made thee a new sharp threshing wain, armed with pointed teeth:
Thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small;
And shalt make the hills as chaff.
16Thou shalt winnow them, and the wind shall carry them away,
And the whirlwind shall scatter them:
But thou shalt rejoice in Jehovah,
And shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel.
17The poor and needy who seek for water, and there is none;
Whose tongue is parched with thirst:
I Jehovah will hear them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
18I will open rivers in the high places,
And fountains in the midst of the valleys:
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
And the dry land springs of waters.
19I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia,
And the myrtle, and the oil-tree;
I will set in the desert the fir-tree,
The plane-tree, and the box together:
20That they might see, and know,
And consider, and understand together,
That the hand of Jehovah hath done this,
And the Holy One of Israel hath created it.
21Bring forward your cause, saith Jehovah:
Produce your strong arguments, saith the King of Jacob,
22Let them approach, and tell us the things that shall happen;
The things that shall first happen, what they are, let them tell us;
That we may consider them, and know the event of them:
Or declare to us things to come hereafter.
23Tell us the things that will come to pass in the later times,
That we may know if ye be gods:
Yea, do good, or do evil,
That we may look around us, and behold together.
24Lo, ye are worse than nothing;
And your work is less than nought:
An abomination is he that maketh choice of you.
25I have raised up one from the north, and he shall come;
From the rising of the sun shall he call upon my name:
And he shall trample on princes, as on mortar;
And as the potter treadeth down the clay.
26Who hath declared this from the beginning, that we should know it?
And beforehand, that we should say, It is right?
Yea, there was not one that declared it; yea, not one who had spread the report;
Yea, there was not one that heard your words.
27I am the first who said unto Zion, Behold, behold them I
And gave to Jerusalem a messenger of glad tidings.
28And I looked, but there was no man;
Even among these, but there was no counsellor;
And I inquired of them, but there was no one that could return an answer.
29Behold, they are all of them vanity;
Their works are nought:
Mere wind and emptiness are their molten images.

Isaiah 41

41
The Lord Challenges the Nations
1 “Listen to me in silence, you coastlands!#tn Or “islands” (KJV, NIV, CEV); TEV “distant lands”; NLT “lands beyond the sea.”
Let the nations find renewed strength!
Let them approach and then speak;
let us come together for debate!#tn The Hebrew term מִשְׁפָּט (mishpat) could be translated “judgment,” but here it seems to refer to the dispute or debate between the Lord and the nations.
2 Who stirs up this one from the east?#sn The expression this one from the east refers to the Persian conqueror Cyrus, as later texts indicate (see 44:28-45:6; 46:11; 48:14-16).
Who#tn The interrogative particle is understood by ellipsis. officially commissions him for service?#tn Heb “[in] righteousness called him to his foot.”
He hands nations over to him,#tn Heb “he [the Lord] places before him [Cyrus] nations.”
and enables him to subdue#tn The verb יַרְדְּ (yardÿ) is an otherwise unattested Hiphil form from רָדָה (radah, “rule”). But the Hiphil makes no sense with “kings” as object; one must understand an ellipsis and supply “him” (Cyrus) as the object. The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa has יוֹרִד (yorid), which appears to be a Hiphil form from יָרַד (yarad, “go down”). Others suggest reading יָרֹד (yarod), a Qal form from רָדַד (radad, “beat down”). kings.
He makes them like dust with his sword,
like windblown straw with his bow.#sn The point is that they are powerless before Cyrus’ military power and scatter before him.
3 He pursues them and passes by unharmed;#tn Heb “[in] peace”; KJV, ASV “safely”; NASB “in safety”; NIV “unscathed.”
he advances with great speed.#tn Heb “a way with his feet he does not come [or “enter”].” One could translate, “by a way he was not [previously] entering with his feet.” This would mean that he is advancing into new territory and expanding his conquests. The present translation assumes this is a hyperbolic description to his speedy advance. He moves so quickly he does not enter the way with his feet, i.e., his feet don’t even touch the ground. See C. R. North, Second Isaiah, 94.
4 Who acts and carries out decrees?#tn Heb “Who acts and accomplishes?”; NASB “Who has performed and accomplished it.”
Who#tn The interrogative particle is understood by ellipsis (note the preceding line). summons the successive generations from the beginning?
I, the Lord, am present at the very beginning,
and at the very end – I am the one.#tn Heb “I, the Lord, [am with] the first, and with the last ones I [am] he.”
5 The coastlands#tn Or “islands” (NIV, CEV); NCV “faraway places”; NLT “lands beyond the sea.” see and are afraid;
the whole earth#tn Heb “the ends of the earth,” but this is a merism, where the earth’s extremities stand for its entirety, i.e., the extremities and everything in between them. trembles;
they approach and come.
6 They help one another;#tn Heb “each his neighbor helps”; NCV “The workers help each other.”
one says to the other, ‘Be strong!’
7 The craftsman encourages the metalsmith,
the one who wields the hammer encourages#tn The verb “encourages” is understood by ellipsis (note the preceding line). the one who pounds on the anvil.
He approves the quality of the welding,#tn Heb “saying of the welding, ‘It is good.’”
and nails it down so it won’t fall over.”
The Lord Encourages His People
8 “You, my servant Israel,
Jacob whom I have chosen,
offspring of Abraham my friend,#tn Or perhaps, “covenantal partner” (see 1 Kgs 5:15 HT [5:1 ET]; 2 Chr 20:7).
9 you whom I am bringing back#tn Heb “whom I have taken hold of [i.e., to lead back].” from the earth’s extremities,
and have summoned from the remote regions –
I told you, “You are my servant.”
I have chosen you and not rejected you.
10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you!
Don’t be frightened, for I am your God!#tn According to BDB (1043 s.v. שָׁעָה), the verb תִּשְׁתָּע (tishta’) in the second line of the poetic couplet is a Hitpael form from the root שָׁעָה (sha’ah, “gaze,” with metathesis of the stem prefix and the first root letter). Taking the Hitpael as iterative, one may then translate “do not anxiously look about.” However, the alleged Hitpael form of שָׁעָה (sha’ah) only occurs here and in verse 23. HALOT 1671 s.v. שׁתע proposes that the verb is instead a Qal form from the root שׁתע (“fear”) which is attested in cognate Semitic languages, including Ugaritic (discovered after the publishing of BDB), suggests the existence of this root. The poetic structure of v. 10 also supports the proposal, for the form in question is in synonymous parallelism to יָרֵא (yare’, “fear”).
I strengthen you –
yes, I help you –
yes, I uphold you with my saving right hand!#tn The “right hand” is a symbol of the Lord’s power to deliver (Exod 15:6, 12) and protect (Ps 63:9 HT [63:8 ET]). Here צֶדֶק (tsedeq) has its well-attested nuance of “vindicated righteousness,” i.e., “victory, deliverance” (see 45:8; 51:5, and BDB 841-42 s.v.).
11 Look, all who were angry at you will be ashamed and humiliated;
your adversaries#tn Heb “the men of your strife”; NASB “those who contend with you.” will be reduced to nothing#tn Heb “like nothing”; NAB “come to nought.” and perish.
12 When you will look for your opponents,#tn Heb “the men of your struggle”; NASB “those who quarrel with you.” you will not find them;
your enemies#tn Heb “the men of your battle”; NAB “who do battle with you.” will be reduced to absolutely nothing.
13 For I am the Lord your God,
the one who takes hold of your right hand,
who says to you, ‘Don’t be afraid, I am helping you.’
14 Don’t be afraid, despised insignificant Jacob,#tn Heb “O worm Jacob” (NAB, NIV). The worm metaphor suggests that Jacob is insignificant and despised.
men of#tn On the basis of the parallelism (note “worm”) and an alleged Akkadian cognate, some read “louse” or “weevil.” Cf. NAB “O maggot Israel”; NRSV “you insect Israel.” Israel.
I am helping you,” says the Lord,
your protector,#tn Heb “your kinsman redeemer.” A גָּאַל (ga’al, “kinsman redeemer”) was a protector of the extended family’s interests. the Holy One of Israel.#sn See the note on the phrase “the Holy One of Israel” in 1:4.
15 “Look, I am making you like#tn Heb “into” (so NIV); ASV “have made thee to be.” a sharp threshing sledge,
new and double-edged.#tn Heb “owner of two-mouths,” i.e., double-edged.
You will thresh the mountains and crush them;
you will make the hills like straw.#sn The mountains and hills symbolize hostile nations that are obstacles to Israel’s restoration.
16 You will winnow them and the wind will blow them away;
the wind will scatter them.
You will rejoice in the Lord;
you will boast in the Holy One of Israel.
17 The oppressed and the poor look for water, but there is none;
their tongues are parched from thirst.
I, the Lord, will respond to their prayers;#tn Heb “will answer them” (so ASV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).
I, the God of Israel, will not abandon them.
18 I will make streams flow down the slopes
and produce springs in the middle of the valleys.
I will turn the desert into a pool of water
and the arid land into springs.
19 I will make cedars, acacias, myrtles, and olive trees grow in the wilderness;
I will make evergreens, firs, and cypresses grow together in the desert.
20 I will do this so#tn The words “I will do this” are supplied in the translation for clarification. The Hebrew text has here simply, “in order that.” people#tn Heb “they”; NAB, NRSV “that all may see”; CEV, NLT “Everyone will see.” will observe and recognize,
so they will pay attention and understand
that the Lord’s power#tn Heb “hand” (so KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV). has accomplished this,
and that the Holy One of Israel has brought it into being.”#tn Or “created it” (KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV); TEV “has made it happen.”
The Lord Challenges the Pagan Gods
21 “Present your argument,” says the Lord.
“Produce your evidence,”#tn Heb “strong [words],” see HALOT 870 s.v. *עֲצֻמוֹת. says Jacob’s king.#sn Apparently this challenge is addressed to the pagan idol gods, see vv. 23-24.
22 “Let them produce evidence! Let them tell us what will happen!
Tell us about your earlier predictive oracles,#tn Heb “As for the former things, tell us what they are!”
so we may examine them#tn Heb “so we might set [them to] our heart.” and see how they were fulfilled.#tn Heb “and might know their outcome.”
Or decree for us some future events!
23 Predict how future events will turn out,#tn Heb “Declare the coming things, with respect to the end.”
so we might know you are gods.
Yes, do something good or bad,
so we might be frightened and in awe.#tc The translation assumes the Qere (וְנִרְאֶה [vÿnir’eh], from יָרֵא [yare’], “be afraid”).tn Heb “so we might be frightened and afraid together.” On the meaning of the verb שָׁתָע (shata’), see the note at v. 10.
24 Look, you are nothing, and your accomplishments are nonexistent;
the one who chooses to worship you is disgusting.#tn Heb “an object of disgust [is he who] chooses you.”
25 I have stirred up one out of the north#sn That is, Cyrus the Persian. See the note at v. 2. and he advances,
one from the eastern horizon who prays in my name.#tn Heb “[one] from the rising of the sun [who] calls in my name.”
He steps on#tn The Hebrew text has וְיָבֹא (vÿyavo’, “and he comes”), but this is likely a corruption of an original וַיָּבָס (vayyavas), from בּוּס (bus, “step on”). rulers as if they were clay,
like a potter treading the clay.
26 Who decreed this from the beginning, so we could know?
Who announced it#tn The words “who announced it” are supplied in the translation for clarification. The interrogative particle and verb are understood by ellipsis (see the preceding line). ahead of time, so we could say, ‘He’s correct’?
Indeed, none of them decreed it!
Indeed, none of them announced it!
Indeed, no one heard you say anything!
27 I first decreed to Zion, ‘Look, here’s what will happen!’#tn The Hebrew text reads simply, “First to Zion, ‘Look here they are!’” The words “I decreed” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
I sent a herald to Jerusalem.#map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4.
28 I look, but there is no one,
among them there is no one who serves as an adviser,
that I might ask questions and receive answers.
29 Look, all of them are nothing,#tc The Hebrew text has אָוֶן (’aven, “deception,” i.e., “false”), but the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa has אין (“nothing”), which forms a better parallel with אֶפֶס (’efes, “nothing”) in the next line. See also 40:17 and 41:12.
their accomplishments are nonexistent;
their metal images lack any real substance.#tn Heb “their statues are wind and nothing”; NASB “wind and emptiness”; NIV “wind and confusion.”