41:8 “You, my servant Israel,
Jacob whom I have chosen,
offspring of Abraham my friend, 1
41:9 you whom I am bringing back 2 from the earth’s extremities,
and have summoned from the remote regions –
I told you, “You are my servant.”
I have chosen you and not rejected you.
42:1 3 “Here is my servant whom I support,
my chosen one in whom I take pleasure.
I have placed my spirit on him;
he will make just decrees 4 for the nations. 5
42:19 My servant is truly blind,
my messenger is truly deaf.
My covenant partner, 6 the servant of the Lord, is truly blind. 7
43:10 You are my witnesses,” says the Lord,
“my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may consider 8 and believe in me,
and understand that I am he.
No god was formed before me,
and none will outlive me. 9
44:1 “Now, listen, Jacob my servant,
Israel whom I have chosen!”
44:2 This is what the Lord, the one who made you, says –
the one who formed you in the womb and helps you:
“Don’t be afraid, my servant Jacob,
Jeshurun, 10 whom I have chosen!
44:21 Remember these things, O Jacob,
O Israel, for you are my servant.
I formed you to be my servant;
O Israel, I will not forget you! 11
1 tn Or perhaps, “covenantal partner” (see 1 Kgs 5:15 HT [5:1 ET]; 2 Chr 20:7).
2 tn Heb “whom I have taken hold of [i.e., to lead back].”
3 sn Verses 1-7 contain the first of Isaiah’s “servant songs,” which describe the ministry of a special, ideal servant who accomplishes God’s purposes for Israel and the nations. This song depicts the servant as a just king who brings justice to the earth and relief for the oppressed. The other songs appear in 49:1-13; 50:4-11; and 52:13-53:12.
4 tn Heb “he will bring out justice” (cf. ASV, NASB, NRSV).
5 sn Like the ideal king portrayed in Isa 11:1-9, the servant is energized by the divine spirit and establishes justice on the earth.
6 tc The precise meaning of מְשֻׁלָּם (mÿshullam) in this context is uncertain. In later biblical Hebrew the form (which appears to be a Pual participle from the root שָׁלַם, shalam) occurs as a proper name, Meshullam. The Pual of שָׁלַם (“be complete”) is attested with the meaning “repaid, requited,” but that makes little sense here. BDB 1023 s.v. שָׁלַם relates the form to the denominative verb שָׁלַם (“be at peace”) and paraphrases “one in a covenant of peace” (J. N. Oswalt suggests “the covenanted one”; Isaiah [NICOT], 2:128, n. 59) Some emend the form to מֹשְׁלָם (moshÿlam, “their ruler”) or to מְשֻׁלָּחִי (mÿshullakhi, “my sent [or “commissioned”] one”), which fits nicely in the parallelism (note “my messenger” in the previous line). The translation above assumes an emendation to כְּמוֹ שֹׁלְמִי (kÿmo sholÿmi, “like my ally”). Isaiah uses כְּמוֹ in 30:22 and perhaps 51:5; for שֹׁלְמי (“my ally”) see Ps 7:5 HT (7:4 ET).
7 tn Heb “Who is blind but my servant, and deaf like my messenger I send? Who is blind like my commissioned one, blind like the servant of the Lord?” The point of the rhetorical questions is that no one is as blind/deaf as this servant. In this context the Lord’s “servant” is exiled Israel (cf. 41:8-9), which is spiritually blind and deaf and has failed to fulfill God’s purpose for it. This servant stands in contrast to the ideal “Israel” of the servant songs.
8 tn Or “know” (KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).
9 tn Heb “and after me, there will not be”; NASB “there will be none after Me.”
10 sn Jeshurun is a poetic name for Israel; it occurs here and in Deut 32:15; 33:5, 26.
11 tc The verb in the Hebrew text is a Niphal imperfect with a pronominal suffix. Although the Niphal ordinarily has the passive sense, it can have a reflexive nuance as well (see above translation). Some have suggested an emendation to a Qal form: “Do not forget me” (all the ancient versions, NEB, REB; see GKC 369 §117.x). “Do not forget me” would make a good parallel with “remember these things” in the first line. Since the MT is the harder reading and fits with Israel’s complaint that God had forgotten her (Isa 40:27), the MT reading should be retained (NASB, NKJV, NRSV, ESV). The passive has been rendered as an active in the translation in keeping with contemporary English style (so also NIV, NCV, TEV, NLT).