The Lord Will Rescue His People
1 Now, this is what the Lord says,
the one who created you, O Jacob,
and formed you, O Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, for I will protect#tn Or “redeem.” See the note at 41:14. Cf. NCV “saved you”; CEV “rescued you”; NLT “ransomed you.” you.
I call you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I am with you;
when you pass#tn The verb is understood by ellipsis (note the preceding line). through the streams, they will not overwhelm you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not harm#tn Heb “burn” (so NASB); NAB, NRSV, NLT “consume”; NIV “set you ablaze.” you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel,#sn See the note on the phrase “the Holy One of Israel” in 1:4. your deliverer.
I have handed over Egypt as a ransom price,
Ethiopia and Seba#sn Seba is not the same as Sheba in southern Arabia; cf. Gen 1:10; 1 Chr 1:9. in place of you.
4 Since you are precious and special in my sight,#tn Heb “Since you are precious in my eyes and you are honored.”
and I love you,
I will hand over people in place of you,
nations in place of your life.
5 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
From the east I will bring your descendants;
from the west I will gather you.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Hand them over!’
and to the south, ‘Don’t hold any back!’
Bring my sons from distant lands,
and my daughters from the remote regions of the earth,
7 everyone who belongs to me,#tn Heb “everyone who is called by my name” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV).
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed – yes, whom I made!
The Lord Declares His Sovereignty
8 Bring out the people who are blind, even though they have eyes,
those who are deaf, even though they have ears!
9 All nations gather together,
the peoples assemble.
Who among them announced this?
Who predicted earlier events for us?#tn Heb “and the former things was causing us to hear?”
Let them produce their witnesses to testify they were right;
let them listen and affirm, ‘It is true.’
10 You are my witnesses,” says the Lord,
“my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may consider#tn Or “know” (KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV). and believe in me,
and understand that I am he.
No god was formed before me,
and none will outlive me.#tn Heb “and after me, there will not be”; NASB “there will be none after Me.”
11 I, I am the Lord,
and there is no deliverer besides me.
12 I decreed and delivered and proclaimed,
and there was no other god among you.
You are my witnesses,” says the Lord, “that I am God.
13 From this day forward I am he;
no one can deliver from my power;#tn Heb “hand” (so KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); NLT “No one can oppose what I do.”
I will act, and who can prevent it?”
The Lord Will Do Something New
14 This is what the Lord says,
your protector,#tn Or “kinsman redeemer.” See the note at 41:14. the Holy One of Israel:#sn See the note on the phrase “the Holy One of Israel” in 1:4.
“For your sake I send to Babylon
and make them all fugitives,#tn Heb “and I bring down [as] fugitives all of them.”
turning the Babylonians’ joyful shouts into mourning songs.#tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “as for the Babylonians, in ships their joyful shout.” This might be paraphrased, “even the Babylonians in the ships [over which] they joyfully shouted.” The point would be that the Lord caused the Babylonians to flee for safety in the ships in which they took such great pride. A slight change in vocalization yields the reading “into mourning songs,” which provides a good contrast with “joyful shout.” The prefixed bet (בְּ) would indicate identity.
15 I am the Lord, your Holy One,#sn See the note on the phrase “the Holy One of Israel” in 1:4.
the one who created Israel, your king.”
16 This is what the Lord says,
the one who made a road through the sea,
a pathway through the surging waters,
17 the one who led chariots and horses to destruction,#tn Heb “led out chariots and horses.” The words “to destruction” are supplied in the translation for clarification. The verse refers to the destruction of the Egyptians at the Red Sea.
together with a mighty army.
They fell down,#tn Heb “lay down”; NAB “lie prostrate together”; CEV “lie dead”; NRSV “they lie down.” never to rise again;
they were extinguished, put out like a burning wick:
18 “Don’t remember these earlier events;#tn Heb “the former things” (so KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); NLT “forget all that.”
don’t recall these former events.
19 “Look, I am about to do something new.
Now it begins to happen!#tn Heb “sprouts up”; NASB “will spring forth.” Do you not recognize#tn Or “know” (KJV, ASV); NASB “be aware of”; NAB, NIV, NRSV “perceive.” it?
Yes, I will make a road in the desert
and paths#tn The Hebrew texts has “streams,” probably under the influence of v. 20. The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa has נתיבות (“paths”). in the wilderness.
20 The wild animals of the desert honor me,
the jackals and ostriches,
because I put water in the desert
and streams in the wilderness,
to quench the thirst of my chosen people,
21 the people whom I formed for myself,
so they might praise me.”#tn Heb “[so] they might declare my praise.”
The Lord Rebukes His People
22 “But you did not call for me, O Jacob;
you did not long#tn Or “strive”; KJV, ASV, NRSV “been weary of me.” for me, O Israel.
23 You did not bring me lambs for your burnt offerings;
you did not honor me with your sacrifices.
I did not burden you with offerings;
I did not make you weary by demanding#tn Heb “with.” The words “by demanding” are supplied in the translation for clarification. incense.
24 You did not buy me aromatic reeds;#tn That is, “calamus” (so NIV); NCV, TEV, NLT “incense”; CEV “spices.”
you did not present to me#tn Heb “you did not saturate me”; NASB “Neither have you filled Me.” the fat of your sacrifices.
Yet you burdened me with your sins;
you made me weary with your evil deeds.#sn In vv. 22-24 the Lord appears to be condemning his people for failure to bring the proper sacrifices. However, this is problematic. If this refers to the nation’s behavior while in exile, such cultic service was impossible and could hardly be expected by the Lord. If this refers to the nation’s conduct before the exile, it contradicts other passages that depict Israel as bringing excessive sacrifices (see, e.g., Isa 1:11-14; Jer 6:20; Amos 4:4-5, 5:21-23). Rather than being a condemnation of Israel’s failure to bring sacrifices, these verses are better taken as a highly rhetorical comment on the worthlessness of Israel’s religious ritual. They may have brought sacrifices, but not to the Lord, for he did not accept them or even want them. See C. R. North, Second Isaiah, 127, and R. Whybray, Isaiah 40-66 (NCBC), 91.
25 I, I am the one who blots out your rebellious deeds for my sake;
your sins I do not remember.
26 Remind me of what happened! Let’s debate!
You, prove to me that you are right!#tn Heb “you, tell in order that you may be right”; NAB “prove your innocence.”
27 The father of your nation#tn Heb “your first father.” This could refer to Abraham (see 51:2), but elsewhere in Isaiah he does not appear in a negative light (see 29:22; 41:8; 63:16). A more likely candidate is Jacob/Israel, also referred to as the nation’s “father” elsewhere (see 58:14; 63:16). sinned;
your spokesmen#tn On the meaning of the term לִיץ (lits), see HALOT 590 s.v. מֵלִיץ. This may refer to the nation’s prophets, priests, and/or kings. rebelled against me.
28 So I defiled your holy princes,
and handed Jacob over to destruction,
and subjected#tn The word “subjected” is supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. Israel to humiliating abuse.”