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Isaiah 44:18-21

Context

44:18 They do not comprehend or understand,

for their eyes are blind and cannot see;

their minds do not discern. 1 

44:19 No one thinks to himself,

nor do they comprehend or understand and say to themselves:

‘I burned half of it in the fire –

yes, I baked bread over the coals;

I roasted meat and ate it.

With the rest of it should I make a disgusting idol?

Should I bow down to dry wood?’ 2 

44:20 He feeds on ashes; 3 

his deceived mind misleads him.

He cannot rescue himself,

nor does he say, ‘Is this not a false god I hold in my right hand?’ 4 

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! 5 

1 tn Heb “for their eyes are smeared over so they cannot see, so their heart cannot be wise.”

2 tn There is no formal interrogative sign here, but the context seems to indicate these are rhetorical questions. See GKC 473 §150.a.

3 tn Or perhaps, “he eats on an ash heap.”

4 tn Heb “Is it not a lie in my right hand?”

5 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).



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