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Isaiah 51

51
LI
1Hearken unto me, ye that follow after righteousness,
Ye that seek Jehovah:
Look unto the rock, from whence ye were hewn,
And to the hole of the pit, whence ye were digged.
2Look unto Abraham your father,
And unto Sarah, who bare you:
For I called him, being then one,
And blessed him, and multiplied him.
3For Jehovah shall comfort Zion;
He will comfort all her desolate places:
And He will make her wilderness like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of Jehovah:
Joy and gladness shall be found in her,
Thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.
4Attend unto me, my people;
And give ear unto me, O my nation:
For a law shall proceed from me,
And my judgment will I establish for a light of the people.
5My righteousness is near, my salvation is gone forth;
And mine arm shall judge the people;
The isles shall wait upon me,
And on mine arm shall they trust
6Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
And look upon the earth beneath:
For the heavens shall vanish away like smoke,
And the earth shall wax old like a garment,
And the inhabitants thereof shall die off like insects;
But my solvation shall be for ever,
And my righteousness shall not be abolished.
7Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness,
The people in whose heart is my law;
Fear ye not the reproach of men,
Neither be ye borne down by their revilings:
8For the moth shall eat them up like a garment,
And the worm shall eat them like wool:
But my righteousness shall be for ever,
And my salvation from generation to generation.
9Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of Jehovah!
Awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old.
Art thou not it that cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon?
10Art thou not it which dried the sea, the waters of the great deep?
That made the depths of the sea a path for the redeemed to pass over?
11Thus shall the ransomed of Jehovah return,
And come with singing unto Zion;
And everlasting joy shall be upon their head:
They shall obtain gladness and joy,
And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
12I, even I, am he that comforteth you:
Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of man that shall die,
And of the son of man, who shall be made as grass?
13And shouldest forget Jehovah thy maker,
Who hath stretched out the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth;
And shouldest fear continually, every day,
Because of the fury of the oppressor,
As if he were ready to destroy:
And where is the fury of the oppressor?
14The bound prisoner shall soon be released:
He shall not die in the pit,
Neither shall his bread fail.
15For I am Jehovah thy God,
He who setteth the sea in commotion, so that the waves thereof roar:
Jehovah of hosts is his name.
16I have put my words in thy mouth,
And with the shadow of my hand have I covered thee:
That I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth,
And say unto Zion: Thou art my people.
17Awake, awake; stand up, O Jerusalem!
Which hast drunk from the hand of Jehovah the cup of his fury:
The dregs of the cup of dizziness, hast thou drunk; thou hast wrung them out.
18There is not one to guide her of all the sons which she hath brought forth;
Neither is there one to support her by the hand, of all the sons which she hath brought up.
19These two things have befallen thee, who shall bemoan thee?
Desolation and destruction; and the famine and the sword; by whom shall I comfort thee?
20Thy sons have fainted away; they lie down at the head of all the streets,
As a stag in a net;
They are full of the fury of Jehovah, the rebuke of thy God.
21Wherefore hear now this, thou afflicted,
And drunken, but not with wine.
22Thus saith thy Lord, Jehovah,
And thy God, who pleadeth the cause of his people;
Behold! I take from thy hand the cup of dizziness,
The dregs of the cup of my fury;
Thou shalt no more drink it again.
23But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee,
Who have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over:
And thou madest thy back as the ground,
And as the street, to them that passed over.

Isaiah 51

51
There is Hope for the Future
1 “Listen to me, you who pursue godliness,#tn Or “righteousness” (KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); NAB “justice”; NLT “hope for deliverance.”
who seek the Lord!
Look at the rock from which you were chiseled,
at the quarry#tn Heb “the excavation of the hole.” from which you were dug!#sn The “rock” and “quarry” refer here to Abraham and Sarah, the progenitors of the nation.
2 Look at Abraham, your father,
and Sarah, who gave you birth.#sn Although Abraham and Sarah are distant ancestors of the people the prophet is addressing, they are spoken of as the immediate parents.
When I summoned him, he was a lone individual,#tn Heb “one”; NLT “was alone”; TEV “was childless.”
but I blessed him#tn “Bless” may here carry the sense of “endue with potency, reproductive power.” See Gen 1:28. and gave him numerous descendants.#tn Heb “and I made him numerous.”
3 Certainly the Lord will console Zion;
he will console all her ruins.
He will make her wilderness like Eden,
her desert like the Garden of the Lord.
Happiness and joy will be restored to#tn Heb “found in” (so NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV). her,
thanksgiving and the sound of music.
4 Pay attention to me, my people!
Listen to me, my people!
For#tn Or “certainly.” I will issue a decree,#tn Heb “instruction [or “a law”] will go out from me.”
I will make my justice a light to the nations.#tn Heb “and my justice for a light to the nations I will cause to rest.”
5 I am ready to vindicate,#tn Heb “my righteousness [or “vindication”] is near.”
I am ready to deliver,#tn Heb “my deliverance goes forth.”
I will establish justice among the nations.#tn Heb “and my arms will judge [on behalf of] nations.”
The coastlands#tn Or “islands” (NIV); TEV “Distant lands.” wait patiently for me;
they wait in anticipation for the revelation of my power.#tn Heb “for my arm” (so NIV, NRSV).
6 Look up at the sky!
Look at the earth below!
For the sky will dissipate#tn Heb “will be torn in pieces.” The perfect indicates the certitude of the event, from the Lord’s rhetorical perspective. like smoke,
and the earth will wear out like clothes;
its residents will die like gnats.
But the deliverance I give#tn Heb “my deliverance.” The same Hebrew word can also be translated “salvation” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT); cf. CEV “victory.” is permanent;
the vindication I provide#tn Heb “my righteousness [or “vindication”].” will not disappear.#tn Heb “will not be shattered [or “dismayed”].”
7 Listen to me, you who know what is right,
you people who are aware of my law!#tn Heb “people (who have) my law in their heart.”
Don’t be afraid of the insults of men;
don’t be discouraged because of their abuse!
8 For a moth will eat away at them like clothes;
a clothes moth will devour them like wool.
But the vindication I provide#tn Heb “my vindication”; many English versions “my righteousness”; NRSV, TEV “my deliverance”; CEV “my victory.” will be permanent;
the deliverance I give will last.”
9 Wake up! Wake up!
Clothe yourself with strength, O arm of the Lord!#tn The arm of the Lord is a symbol of divine military power. Here it is personified and told to arouse itself from sleep and prepare for action.
Wake up as in former times, as in antiquity!
Did you not smash#tn Heb “Are you not the one who smashed?” The feminine singular forms agree grammatically with the feminine noun “arm.” The Hebrew text has ַהמַּחְצֶבֶת (hammakhtsevet), from the verbal root חָצַב (khatsav, “hew, chop”). The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa has, probably correctly, המחצת, from the verbal root מָחַץ (makhats, “smash”) which is used in Job 26:12 to describe God’s victory over “the Proud One.” the Proud One?#tn This title (רַהַב, rahav, “proud one”) is sometimes translated as a proper name: “Rahab” (cf. NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV). It is used here of a symbolic sea monster, known elsewhere in the Bible and in Ugaritic myth as Leviathan. This sea creature symbolizes the forces of chaos that seek to destroy the created order. In the Bible “the Proud One” opposes God’s creative work, but is defeated (see Job 26:12; Ps 89:10). Here the title refers to Pharaoh’s Egyptian army that opposed Israel at the Red Sea (see v. 10, and note also Isa 30:7 and Ps 87:4, where the title is used of Egypt).
Did you not#tn The words “did you not” are understood by ellipsis (note the preceding line). The rhetorical questions here and in v. 10 expect the answer, “Yes, you certainly did!” wound the sea monster?#tn Hebrew תַּנִּין (tannin) is another name for the symbolic sea monster. See the note at 27:1. In this context the sea creature represents Egypt. See the note on the title “Proud One” earlier in this verse.
10 Did you not dry up the sea,
the waters of the great deep?
Did you not make#tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “Are you not the one who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made…?” a path through the depths of the sea,
so those delivered from bondage#tn Heb “the redeemed” (so ASV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); KJV “the ransomed.” could cross over?
11 Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return;
they will enter Zion with a happy shout.
Unending joy will crown them,#tn Heb “[will be] on their head[s].” “Joy” may be likened here to a crown (cf. 2 Sam 1:10). The statement may also be an ironic twist on the idiom “earth/dust on the head” (cf. 2 Sam 1:2; 13:19; 15:32; Job 2:12), referring to a mourning practice.
happiness and joy will overwhelm#tn Heb “overtake” (so NIV); NASB “they will obtain.” them;
grief and suffering will disappear.#tn Heb “grief and groaning will flee.”
12 “I, I am the one who consoles you.#tc The plural suffix should probably be emended to the second masculine singular (which is used in v. 13). The final mem (ם) is probably dittographic; note the mem at the beginning of the next word.
Why are you afraid of mortal men,
of mere human beings who are as short-lived as grass?#tn Heb “Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, and of the son of man who [as] grass is given up?” The feminine singular forms should probably be emended to the masculine singular (see v. 13). They have probably been influenced by the construction אַתְּ־הִיא (’at-hi’) in vv. 9-10.
13 Why do you forget#tn Heb “and that you forget.” the Lord, who made you,
who stretched out the sky#tn Or “the heavens” (also in v. 16). The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heavens” or “sky” depending on the context.
and founded the earth?
Why do you constantly tremble all day long#tn Heb “and that you tremble constantly all the day.”
at the anger of the oppressor,
when he makes plans to destroy?
Where is the anger of the oppressor?#tn The question anticipates the answer, “Ready to disappear!” See v. 14.
14 The one who suffers#tn Heb “who is stooped over” (under a burden). will soon be released;
he will not die in prison,#tn Heb “the pit” (so KJV); ASV, NAB “die and go down into the pit”; NASB, NIV “dungeon”; NCV “prison.”
he will not go hungry.#tn Heb “he will not lack his bread.”
15 I am the Lord your God,
who churns up the sea so that its waves surge.
The Lord who commands armies is his name!
Zion’s Time to Celebrate
16 I commission you#tn The addressee (second masculine singular, as in vv. 13, 15) in this verse is unclear. The exiles are addressed in the immediately preceding verses (note the critical tone of vv. 12-13 and the reference to the exiles in v. 14). However, it seems unlikely that they are addressed in v. 16, for the addressee appears to be commissioned to tell Zion, who here represents the restored exiles, “you are my people.” The addressee is distinct from the exiles. The language of v. 16a is reminiscent of 49:2 and 50:4, where the Lord’s special servant says he is God’s spokesman and effective instrument. Perhaps the Lord, having spoken to the exiles in vv. 1-15, now responds to this servant, who spoke just prior to this in 50:4-11. as my spokesman;#tn Heb “I place my words in your mouth.”
I cover you with the palm of my hand,#tn Heb “with the shadow of my hand.”
to establish#tc The Hebrew text has לִנְטֹעַ (lintoa’, “to plant”). Several scholars prefer to emend this form to לִנְטֹת (lintot) from נָטָה (natah, “to stretch out”); see v. 13, as well as 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; cf. NAB, NCV, NRSV. However, since the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa, LXX (and Aquila and Symmachus), and Vulgate support the MT reading, there is no need to emend the form. The interpretation is clear enough: Yahweh fixed the sky in its place. the sky and to found the earth,
to say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’”#tn The infinitives in v. 16b are most naturally understood as indicating the purpose of the divine actions described in v. 16a. The relationship of the third infinitive to the commission is clear enough – the Lord has made the addressee (his special servant?) his spokesman so that the latter might speak encouraging words to those in Zion. But how do the first two infinitives relate? The text seems to indicate that the Lord has commissioned the addressee so that the latter might create the universe! Perhaps creation imagery is employed metaphorically here to refer to the transformation that Jerusalem will experience (see 65:17-18).
17 Wake up! Wake up!
Get up, O Jerusalem!
You drank from the cup the Lord passed to you,
which was full of his anger!#tn Heb “[you] who have drunk from the hand of the Lord the cup of his anger.”
You drained dry
the goblet full of intoxicating wine.#tn Heb “the goblet, the cup [that causes] staggering, you drank, you drained.”
18 There was no one to lead her
among all the children she bore;
there was no one to take her by the hand
among all the children she raised.
19 These double disasters confronted you.
But who feels sorry for you?
Destruction and devastation,
famine and sword.
But who consoles you?#tc The Hebrew text has אֲנַחֲמֵךְ (’anakhamekh), a first person form, but the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa reads correctly יִנַחֲמֵךְ (yinakhamekh), a third person form.
20 Your children faint;
they lie at the head of every street
like an antelope in a snare.
They are left in a stupor by the Lord’s anger,
by the battle cry of your God.#tn Heb “those who are full of the anger of the Lord, the shout [or “rebuke”] of your God.”
21 So listen to this, oppressed one,
who is drunk, but not from wine!
22 This is what your sovereign master,#tn The Hebrew term translated “sovereign master” here is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay). the Lord your God, says:
“Look, I have removed from your hand
the cup of intoxicating wine,#tn Heb “the cup of [= that causes] staggering” (so ASV, NAB, NRSV); NASB “the cup of reeling.”
the goblet full of my anger.#tn Heb “the goblet of the cup of my anger.”
You will no longer have to drink it.
23 I will put it into the hand of your tormentors#tn That is, to make them drink it.
who said to you, ‘Lie down, so we can walk over you.’
You made your back like the ground,
and like the street for those who walked over you.”