The Lord Carries His People
1 Bel#sn Bel was the name of a Babylonian god. The name was originally associated with Enlil, but later was applied to Marduk. See HALOT 132 s.v. בֵּל. kneels down,
Nebo#sn Nebo is a variation of the name of the Babylonian god Nabu. bends low.
Their images weigh down animals and beasts.#tn Heb “their images belong to animals and beasts”; NIV “their idols are borne by beasts of burden”; NLT “are being hauled away.”
Your heavy images are burdensome to tired animals.#tn Heb “your loads are carried [as] a burden by a weary [animal].”
2 Together they bend low and kneel down;
they are unable to rescue the images;#tn Heb “[the] burden,” i.e., their images, the heavy burden carried by the animals.
they themselves#tn נַפְשָׁם (nafsham, “their souls/lives”) is equivalent here to a third masculine plural suffix, but the third feminine singular verb הָלָכָה (halakhah, “they go”) agrees with the feminine noun נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “soul, life”). head off into captivity.#sn The downfall of Babylon is depicted here. The idols are carried off by the victorious enemy; the gods are likened to defeated captives who cower before the enemy and are taken into exile.
3 “Listen to me, O family of Jacob,#tn Heb “house of Jacob”; TEV “descendants of Jacob.”
all you who are left from the family of Israel,#tn Heb “and all the remnant of the house of Israel.”
you who have been carried from birth,#tn Heb “from the womb” (so NRSV); KJV “from the belly”; NAB “from your infancy.”
you who have been supported from the time you left the womb.#tn Heb “who have been lifted up from the womb.”
4 Even when you are old, I will take care of you,#tn Heb “until old age, I am he” (NRSV similar); NLT “I will be your God throughout your lifetime.”
even when you have gray hair, I will carry you.
I made you and I will support you;
I will carry you and rescue you.#sn Unlike the weary idol gods, whose images must be carried by animals, the Lord carries his weary people.
5 To whom can you compare and liken me?
Tell me whom you think I resemble, so we can be compared!
6 Those who empty out gold from a purse
and weigh out silver on the scale#tn Heb “the reed,” probably referring to the beam of a scales. See BDB 889 s.v. קָנֶה 4.c.
hire a metalsmith, who makes it into a god.
They then bow down and worship it.
7 They put it on their shoulder and carry it;
they put it in its place and it just stands there;
it does not#tn Or perhaps, “cannot,” here and in the following two lines. The imperfect forms can indicate capability. move from its place.
Even when someone cries out to it, it does not reply;
it does not deliver him from his distress.
8 Remember this, so you can be brave!#tn The meaning of the verb אָשַׁשׁ (’ashash, which appears here in the Hitpolel stem) is uncertain. BDB 84 s.v. אשׁשׁ relates it to a root meaning “found, establish” in Arabic; HALOT 100 s.v. II אשׁשׁ gives the meaning “pluck up courage.” The imperative with vav (ו) may indicate purpose following the preceding imperative.
Think about it, you rebels!#tn Heb “return [it], rebels, to heart”; NRSV “recall it to mind, you transgressors.”
9 Remember what I accomplished in antiquity!#tn Heb “remember the former things, from antiquity”; KJV, ASV “the former things of old.”
Truly I am God, I have no peer;#tn Heb “and there is no other” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV).
I am God, and there is none like me,
10 who announces the end from the beginning
and reveals beforehand#tn Or “from long ago”; KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV “from ancient times.” what has not yet occurred,
who says, ‘My plan will be realized,
I will accomplish what I desire,’
11 who summons an eagle#tn Or, more generally, “a bird of prey” (so NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV; see 18:6). from the east,
from a distant land, one who carries out my plan.
Yes, I have decreed,#tn Heb “spoken”; KJV “I have spoken it.”
yes, I will bring it to pass;
I have formulated a plan,
yes, I will carry it out.
12 Listen to me, you stubborn people,#tn Heb “strong of heart [or, mind]”; KJV “stouthearted”; NAB “fainthearted”; NIV “stubborn-hearted.”
you who distance yourself from doing what is right.#tn Heb “who are far from righteousness [or perhaps, “deliverance”].”
13 I am bringing my deliverance near, it is not far away;
I am bringing my salvation near,#tn Heb “my salvation.” The verb “I am bringing near” is understood by ellipsis (note the previous line). it does not wait.
I will save Zion;#tn Heb “I will place in Zion salvation”; NASB “I will grant salvation in Zion.”
I will adorn Israel with my splendor.”#tn Heb “to Israel my splendor”; KJV, ASV “for Israel my glory.”