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Isaiah 49

49
XLIX
1Listen, O isles, unto me;
And hearken, ye people, from far;
Jehovah hath called me from the womb,
From the bowels of my mother hath He made mention of my name.
2And He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword,
In the shadow of his hand hath He concealed me;
Yea, He hath made me a polished arrow,
In his quiver hath He hid me:
3And He said unto me: Thou art my servant,
O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.
4But I said: I have laboured in vain;
For nought, and for vanity, have I spent my strength:
Nevertheless my right is with Jehovah,
And the reward of my work with my God.
5And now, saith Jehovah
Who hath formed me from the womb to be his servant,
To bring Jacob again unto him,
And that Israel unto him may be gathered:
For I am glorious in the eyes of Jehovah,
And my God is my strength.
6Yea, He said: It is too light a thing that thou shouldest be my servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the saved of Israel:
I will also give thee for a light to the nations,
To be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
7Thus saith Jehovah,
The Redeemer of Israel, his Holy One,
To him who is despised of men; to him whom the nation abhorreth;
To the servant of rulers:
Kings shall see, and shall rise up;
Princes, and they shall bow themselves:
Because of Jehovah who is faithful,
The Holy One of Israel, who hath chosen thee.
8Thus saith Jehovah:
In time of grace will I hear thee,
And in the day of salvation will I help thee;
And I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people,
To restore the land, to give possession of the desolate heritages:
9To say to the bounden, Go forth;
To those that are in darkness, Come into light
They shall feed beside the ways,
And on all the eminences shall be their pasture.
10They shall not hunger, nor thirst;
Neither shall the glowing heat, nor the sun, smite them:
For He that hath mercy on them shall lead them,
And shall guide them to the fountains of water.
11And I will make all my mountains an even way,
And my causeways shall be raised on high.
12Behold! these shall come from far;
And, lo! these from the north and from the west;
And these from the land of Sinim.
13Sing, O ye heavens! and be joyful, O earth!
And burst forth into song, O mountains!
For Jehovah hath comforted his people,
And hath had mercy on his afflicted.
14But Zion saith: Jehovah hath forsaken me,
And the Lord hath forgotten me.
15Can a woman forget her suckling,
That she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Yea, they may forget;
Yet I will not forget thee.
16Behold! I have graven thee on the palms of my hands;
Thy walls are ever before me.
17Thy sons shall make haste:
Thy destroyers, and they that made thee waste, shall depart from thee.
18Lift up thine eyes around, and see;
All these are gathered together, they come to thee.
As I live, saith Jehovah,
Thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament;
And bind them on thee as a bride doeth.
19For in thy waste, and in thy desolate places,
And in thy land that is destroyed,
Even now shalt thou be straitened by reason of the inhabitants;
And they that devoured thee shall be removed far away.
20Moreover, thy sons, of whom thou wast bereaved, shall say in thine ears:
This place is too strait for me; make way for me that I may dwell.
21Then shalt thou say in thine heart: Who hath begotten me these?
I was childless and barren;
An exile, and an outcast; who then hath nursed these up?
Behold, I was left alone; these then, where were they?
22Thus saith the Lord Jehovah:
Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the nations,
And set up my standard to the people;
And they shall bring thy sons in their bosom,
And thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.
23And kings shall be thy nourishers,
And their queens thy nurses;
They shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth,
And shall lick up the dust of thy feet;
And thou shalt know that I am Jehovah:
For they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.
24Shall the spoil be taken away from the mighty?
Or shall the captive seized by right of strength be rescued?
25Yea, thus saith Jehovah:
Even the captive seized by the mighty shall be retaken,
And the spoil seized by the terrible shall be rescued:
For I will contend with him that contends with thee,
And I will save thy children.
26And I will gorge thine oppressors with their own flesh;
And with their own blood, as with new wine, shall they be drunken:
And all flesh shall know
That I Jehovah am thy Saviour,
And that thy Redeemer is the Mighty One of Jacob.

Isaiah 49

49
Ideal Israel Delivers the Exiles
1 Listen to me, you coastlands!#tn Or “islands” (NASB, NIV); NLT “in far-off lands.”sn The Lord’s special servant, introduced in chap. 42, speaks here of his commission.
Pay attention, you people who live far away!
The Lord summoned me from birth;#tn Heb “called me from the womb.”
he commissioned me when my mother brought me into the world.#tn Heb “from the inner parts of my mother he mentioned my name.”
2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword,
he hid me in the hollow of his hand;
he made me like a sharpened#tn Or perhaps, “polished” (so KJV, ASV, NAB, NIV, NRSV); NASB “a select arrow.” arrow,
he hid me in his quiver.#sn The figurative language emphasizes the servant’s importance as the Lord’s effective instrument. The servant’s mouth, which stands metonymically for his words, is compared to a sharp sword because he will be an effective spokesman on God’s behalf (see 50:4). The Lord holds his hand on the servant, ready to draw and use him at the appropriate time. The servant is like a sharpened arrow reserved in a quiver for just the right moment.
3 He said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, through whom I will reveal my splendor.”#sn This verse identifies the servant as Israel. This seems to refer to the exiled nation (cf. 41:8-9; 44:1-2, 21; 45:4; 48:20), but in vv. 5-6 this servant says he has been commissioned to reconcile Israel to God, so he must be distinct from the exiled nation. This servant is an ideal “Israel” who, like Moses of old, mediates a covenant for the nation (see v. 8), leads them out of bondage (v. 9a), and carries out God’s original plan for Israel by positively impacting the pagan nations (see v. 6b). By living according to God’s law, Israel was to be a model of God’s standards of justice to the surrounding nations (Deut 4:6-8). The sinful nation failed, but the servant, the ideal “Israel,” will succeed by establishing justice throughout the earth.
4 But I thought,#tn Or “said” (KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); NLT “I replied.” “I have worked in vain;
I have expended my energy for absolutely nothing.”#tn Heb “for nothing and emptiness.” Synonyms are combined to emphasize the common idea.
But the Lord will vindicate me;
my God will reward me.#tn Heb “But my justice is with the Lord, and my reward [or “wage”] with my God.”
5 So now the Lord says,
the one who formed me from birth#tn Heb “from the womb” (so KJV, NASB). to be his servant –
he did this#tn The words “he did this” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. In the Hebrew text the infinitive construct of purpose is subordinated to the previous statement. to restore Jacob to himself,
so that Israel might be gathered to him;
and I will be honored#tn The vav (ו) + imperfect is translated here as a result clause; one might interpret it as indicating purpose, “and so I might be honored.” in the Lord’s sight,
for my God is my source of strength#tn Heb “and my God is [perhaps, “having been”] my strength.” The disjunctive structure (vav [ו] + subject + verb) is interpreted here as indicating a causal circumstantial clause.
6 he says, “Is it too insignificant a task for you to be my servant,
to reestablish the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the remnant#tn Heb “the protected [or “preserved”] ones.” of Israel?#sn The question is purely rhetorical; it does not imply that the servant was dissatisfied with his commission or that he minimized the restoration of Israel.
I will make you a light to the nations,#tn See the note at 42:6.
so you can bring#tn Heb “be” (so KJV, ASV); CEV “you must take.” my deliverance to the remote regions of the earth.”
7 This is what the Lord,
the protector#tn Heb “redeemer.” See the note at 41:14. of Israel, their Holy One,#sn See the note on the phrase “the Holy One of Israel” in 1:4. says
to the one who is despised#tc The Hebrew text reads literally “to [one who] despises life.” It is preferable to read with the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa לבזוי, which should be vocalized as a passive participle, לִבְזוּי (livzuy, “to the one despised with respect to life” [נֶפֶשׁ is a genitive of specification]). The consonantal sequence וי was probably misread as ה in the MT tradition. The contextual argument favors the 1QIsaa reading. As J. N. Oswalt (Isaiah [NICOT], 2:294) points out, the three terse phrases “convey a picture of lowliness, worthlessness, and helplessness.” and rejected#tn MT’s Piel participle (“to the one who rejects”) does not fit contextually. The form should be revocalized as a Pual, “to the one rejected.” by nations,#tn Parallelism (see “rulers,” “kings,” “princes”) suggests that the singular גּוֹי (goy) be emended to a plural or understood in a collective sense (see 55:5).
a servant of rulers:
“Kings will see and rise in respect,#tn For this sense of קוּם (qum), see Gen 19:1; 23:7; 33:10; Lev 19:32; 1 Sam 20:41; 25:41; 1 Kgs 2:19; Job 29:8.
princes will bow down,
because of the faithful Lord,
the Holy One of Israel who has chosen you.”
8 This is what the Lord says:
“At the time I decide to show my favor, I will respond to you;
in the day of deliverance I will help you;
I will protect you#tn The translation assumes the verb is derived from the root נָצָר (natsar, “protect”). Some prefer to derive it from the root יָצָר (yatsar, “form”). and make you a covenant mediator for people,#tn Heb “a covenant of people.” A person cannot literally be a covenant; בְּרִית (bÿrit) is probably metonymic here, indicating a covenant mediator. Here עָם (’am, “people”) appears to refer to Israel. See the note at 42:6.
to rebuild#tn The Hiphil of קוּם (qum, “arise”) is probably used here in the sense of “rebuild.” the land#tn The “land” probably stands by metonymy for the ruins within it.
and to reassign the desolate property.
9 You will say#tn Heb “to say.” In the Hebrew text the infinitive construct is subordinated to what precedes. to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’
and to those who are in dark dungeons,#tn Heb “in darkness” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV); NLT “the prisoners of darkness.” ‘Emerge.’#tn Heb “show yourselves” (so ASV, NAB, NASB).
They will graze beside the roads;
on all the slopes they will find pasture.
10 They will not be hungry or thirsty;
the sun’s oppressive heat will not beat down on them,#tn Heb “and the heat and the sun will not strike them.” In Isa 35:7, its only other occurrence in the OT, שָׁרָב (sharav) stands parallel to “parched ground” and in contrast to “pool.” In later Hebrew and Aramaic it refers to “dry heat, heat of the sun” (Jastrow 1627 s.v.). Here it likely has this nuance and forms a hendiadys with “sun.”
for one who has compassion on them will guide them;
he will lead them to springs of water.
11 I will make all my mountains into a road;
I will construct my roadways.”
12 Look, they come from far away!
Look, some come from the north and west,
and others from the land of Sinim!#tc The MT reads “Sinim” here; the Dead Sea Scrolls read “Syene,” a location in Egypt associated with modern Aswan. A number of recent translations adopt this reading: “Syene” (NAB, NRSV); “Aswan” (NIV); “Egypt” (NLT).sn The precise location of the land of Sinim is uncertain, but since the north and west are mentioned in the previous line, it was a probably located in the distant east or south.
13 Shout for joy, O sky!#tn Or “O heavens.” The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heavens” or “sky” depending on the context.
Rejoice, O earth!
Let the mountains give a joyful shout!
For the Lord consoles his people
and shows compassion to the#tn Heb “his” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV). oppressed.
The Lord Remembers Zion
14 “Zion said, ‘The Lord has abandoned me,
the sovereign master#tn The Hebrew term translated “sovereign master” here is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay). has forgotten me.’
15 Can a woman forget her baby who nurses at her breast?#tn Heb “her suckling”; NASB “her nursing child.”
Can she withhold compassion from the child she has borne?#tn Heb “so as not to have compassion on the son of her womb?”
Even if mothers#tn Heb “these” (so ASV, NASB). were to forget,
I could never forget you!#sn The argument of v. 15 seems to develop as follows: The Lord has an innate attachment to Zion, just like a mother does for her infant child. But even if mothers were to suddenly abandon their children, the Lord would never forsake Zion. In other words, the Lord’s attachment to Zion is like a mother’s attachment to her infant child, but even stronger.
16 Look, I have inscribed your name#tn Heb “you.” Here the pronoun is put by metonymy for the person’s name. on my palms;
your walls are constantly before me.
17 Your children hurry back,
while those who destroyed and devastated you depart.
18 Look all around you!#tn Heb “Lift up around your eyes and see.”
All of them gather to you.
As surely as I live,” says the Lord,
“you will certainly wear all of them like jewelry;
you will put them on as if you were a bride.
19 Yes, your land lies in ruins;
it is desolate and devastated.#tn Heb “Indeed your ruins and your desolate places, and the land of your destruction.” This statement is abruptly terminated in the Hebrew text and left incomplete.
But now you will be too small to hold your residents,
and those who devoured you will be far away.
20 Yet the children born during your time of bereavement
will say within your hearing,
‘This place is too cramped for us,#tn Heb “me.” The singular is collective.
make room for us so we can live here.’#tn Heb “draw near to me so I can dwell.”
21 Then you will think to yourself,#tn Heb “and you will say in your heart.”
‘Who bore these children for me?
I was bereaved and barren,
dismissed and divorced.#tn Or “exiled and thrust away”; NIV “exiled and rejected.”
Who raised these children?
Look, I was left all alone;
where did these children come from?’”
22 This is what the sovereign Lord says:
“Look I will raise my hand to the nations;
I will raise my signal flag to the peoples.
They will bring your sons in their arms
and carry your daughters on their shoulders.
23 Kings will be your children’s#tn Heb “your,” but Zion here stands by metonymy for her children (see v. 22b). guardians;
their princesses will nurse your children.#tn Heb “you.” See the preceding note.
With their faces to the ground they will bow down to you
and they will lick the dirt on#tn Or “at your feet” (NAB, NIV); NLT “from your feet.” your feet.
Then you will recognize that I am the Lord;
those who wait patiently for me are not put to shame.
24 Can spoils be taken from a warrior,
or captives be rescued from a conqueror?#tc The Hebrew text has צָדִיק (tsadiq, “a righteous [one]”), but this makes no sense in the parallelism. The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa reads correctly עריץ (“violent [one], tyrant”; see v. 25).
25 Indeed,” says the Lord,
“captives will be taken from a warrior;
spoils will be rescued from a conqueror.
I will oppose your adversary
and I will rescue your children.
26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh;
they will get drunk on their own blood, as if it were wine.#sn Verse 26a depicts siege warfare and bloody defeat. The besieged enemy will be so starved they will their own flesh. The bloodstained bodies lying on the blood-soaked battle site will look as if they collapsed in drunkenness.
Then all humankind#tn Heb “flesh” (so KJV, NASB). will recognize that
I am the Lord, your deliverer,
your protector,#tn Heb “your redeemer.” See the note at 41:14. the powerful ruler of Jacob.”#tn Heb “the powerful [one] of Jacob.” See 1:24.