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Isaiah 41:21-29

Context
The Lord Challenges the Pagan Gods

41:21 “Present your argument,” says the Lord.

“Produce your evidence,” 1  says Jacob’s king. 2 

41:22 “Let them produce evidence! Let them tell us what will happen!

Tell us about your earlier predictive oracles, 3 

so we may examine them 4  and see how they were fulfilled. 5 

Or decree for us some future events!

41:23 Predict how future events will turn out, 6 

so we might know you are gods.

Yes, do something good or bad,

so we might be frightened and in awe. 7 

41:24 Look, you are nothing, and your accomplishments are nonexistent;

the one who chooses to worship you is disgusting. 8 

41:25 I have stirred up one out of the north 9  and he advances,

one from the eastern horizon who prays in my name. 10 

He steps on 11  rulers as if they were clay,

like a potter treading the clay.

41:26 Who decreed this from the beginning, so we could know?

Who announced it 12  ahead of time, so we could say, ‘He’s correct’?

Indeed, none of them decreed it!

Indeed, none of them announced it!

Indeed, no one heard you say anything!

41:27 I first decreed to Zion, ‘Look, here’s what will happen!’ 13 

I sent a herald to Jerusalem. 14 

41:28 I look, but there is no one,

among them there is no one who serves as an adviser,

that I might ask questions and receive answers.

41:29 Look, all of them are nothing, 15 

their accomplishments are nonexistent;

their metal images lack any real substance. 16 

1 tn Heb “strong [words],” see HALOT 870 s.v. *עֲצֻמוֹת.

2 sn Apparently this challenge is addressed to the pagan idol gods, see vv. 23-24.

3 tn Heb “As for the former things, tell us what they are!”

4 tn Heb “so we might set [them to] our heart.”

5 tn Heb “and might know their outcome.”

6 tn Heb “Declare the coming things, with respect to the end.”

7 tc The translation assumes the Qere (וְנִרְאֶה [vÿnireh], from יָרֵא [yare’], “be afraid”).

tn Heb “so we might be frightened and afraid together.” On the meaning of the verb שָׁתָע (shata’), see the note at v. 10.

8 tn Heb “an object of disgust [is he who] chooses you.”

9 sn That is, Cyrus the Persian. See the note at v. 2.

10 tn Heb “[one] from the rising of the sun [who] calls in my name.”

11 tn The Hebrew text has וְיָבֹא (vÿyavo’, “and he comes”), but this is likely a corruption of an original וַיָּבָס (vayyavas), from בּוּס (bus, “step on”).

12 tn The words “who announced it” are supplied in the translation for clarification. The interrogative particle and verb are understood by ellipsis (see the preceding line).

13 tn The Hebrew text reads simply, “First to Zion, ‘Look here they are!’” The words “I decreed” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

14 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

15 tc The Hebrew text has אָוֶן (’aven, “deception,” i.e., “false”), but the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa has אין (“nothing”), which forms a better parallel with אֶפֶס (’efes, “nothing”) in the next line. See also 40:17 and 41:12.

16 tn Heb “their statues are wind and nothing”; NASB “wind and emptiness”; NIV “wind and confusion.”



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