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Isaiah 40:6-8

Context

40:6 A voice says, “Cry out!”

Another asks, 1  “What should I cry out?”

The first voice responds: 2  “All people are like grass, 3 

and all their promises 4  are like the flowers in the field.

40:7 The grass dries up,

the flowers wither,

when the wind sent by the Lord 5  blows on them.

Surely humanity 6  is like grass.

40:8 The grass dries up,

the flowers wither,

but the decree of our God is forever reliable.” 7 

1 tn Heb “and he says.” Apparently a second “voice” responds to the command of the first “voice.”

2 tn The words “the first voice responds” are supplied in the translation for clarification. The first voice tells the second one what to declare.

3 tn Heb “all flesh is grass.” The point of the metaphor is explained in v. 7.

4 tn Heb “and all his loyalty.” The antecedent of the third masculine suffix is בָּשָׂר (basar, “flesh”), which refers collectively to mankind. The LXX, apparently understanding the antecedent as “grass,” reads “glory,” but חֶסֶד (khesed) rarely, if ever, has this nuance. The normal meaning of חֶסֶד (“faithfulness, loyalty, devotion”) fits very well in the argument. Human beings and their faithfulness (verbal expressions of faithfulness are specifically in view; cf. NRSV “constancy”) are short-lived and unreliable, in stark contrast to the decrees and promises of the eternal God.

5 tn The Hebrew text has רוּחַ יְהוָה (ruakh yehvah), which in this context probably does not refer to the Lord’s personal Spirit. The phrase is better translated “the breath of the Lord,” or “the wind of [i.e., sent by] the Lord.” The Lord’s sovereign control over nature, including the hot desert winds that dry up vegetation, is in view here (cf. Ps 147:18; Isa 59:19).

6 tn Heb “the people” (so KJV, ASV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).

7 tn Heb “but the word of our God stands forever.” In this context the divine “word” specifically refers to his decreed promise assuring Jerusalem that her suffering is over and his glorious return imminent (vv. 1-5).



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