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Isaiah 42:1-4

Context
The Lord Commissions His Special Servant

42:1 1 “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 2  for the nations. 3 

42:2 He will not cry out or shout;

he will not publicize himself in the streets. 4 

42:3 A crushed reed he will not break,

a dim wick he will not extinguish; 5 

he will faithfully make just decrees. 6 

42:4 He will not grow dim or be crushed 7 

before establishing justice on the earth;

the coastlands 8  will wait in anticipation for his decrees.” 9 

Isaiah 42:7

Context

42:7 to open blind eyes, 10 

to release prisoners 11  from dungeons,

those who live in darkness from prisons.

Isaiah 49:2

Context

49:2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword,

he hid me in the hollow of his hand;

he made me like a sharpened 12  arrow,

he hid me in his quiver. 13 

Isaiah 49:9

Context

49:9 You will say 14  to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’

and to those who are in dark dungeons, 15  ‘Emerge.’ 16 

They will graze beside the roads;

on all the slopes they will find pasture.

Isaiah 50:4

Context
The Servant Perseveres

50:4 The sovereign Lord has given me the capacity to be his spokesman, 17 

so that I know how to help the weary. 18 

He wakes me up every morning;

he makes me alert so I can listen attentively as disciples do. 19 

1 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.

2 tn Heb “he will bring out justice” (cf. ASV, NASB, NRSV).

3 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.

4 tn Heb “he will not cause his voice to be heard in the street.”

5 sn The “crushed reed” and “dim wick” symbolize the weak and oppressed who are on the verge of extinction.

6 tn Heb “faithfully he will bring out justice” (cf. NASB, NRSV).

7 tn For rhetorical effect the terms used to describe the “crushed (רָצַץ, ratsats) reed” and “dim (כָּהָה, kahah) wick” in v. 3 are repeated here.

8 tn Or “islands” (NIV); NLT “distant lands beyond the sea.”

9 tn Or “his law” (KJV, ASV, NASB, NIV) or “his instruction” (NLT).

10 sn This does not refer to literal physical healing of the blind. As the next two lines suggest, this refers metonymically to freeing captives from their dark prisons where their eyes have grown unaccustomed to light.

11 sn This does not refer to hardened, dangerous criminals, who would have been executed for their crimes in ancient Near Eastern society. This verse refers to political prisoners or victims of social injustice.

12 tn Or perhaps, “polished” (so KJV, ASV, NAB, NIV, NRSV); NASB “a select arrow.”

13 sn The figurative language emphasizes the servant’s importance as the Lord’s effective instrument. The servant’s mouth, which stands metonymically for his words, is compared to a sharp sword because he will be an effective spokesman on God’s behalf (see 50:4). The Lord holds his hand on the servant, ready to draw and use him at the appropriate time. The servant is like a sharpened arrow reserved in a quiver for just the right moment.

14 tn Heb “to say.” In the Hebrew text the infinitive construct is subordinated to what precedes.

15 tn Heb “in darkness” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV); NLT “the prisoners of darkness.”

16 tn Heb “show yourselves” (so ASV, NAB, NASB).

17 tn Heb “has given to me a tongue of disciples.”

sn Verses 4-11 contain the third of the so-called servant songs, which depict the career of the Lord’s special servant, envisioned as an ideal Israel (49:3) who rescues the exiles and fulfills God’s purposes for the world. Here the servant alludes to opposition (something hinted at in 49:4), but also expresses his determination to persevere with the Lord’s help.

18 tc Heb “to know [?] the weary with a word.” Comparing it with Arabic and Aramaic cognates yields the meaning of “help, sustain.” Nevertheless, the meaning of עוּת (’ut) is uncertain. The word occurs only here in the OT (see BDB 736 s.v.). Various scholars have suggested an emendation to עָנוֹת (’anot) from עָנָה (’anah, “answer”): “so that I know how to respond kindly to the weary.” Since the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa and the Vulgate support the MT reading, that reading is retained.

19 tn Heb “he arouses for me an ear, to hear like disciples.”



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