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Isaiah 49:1-13

Context
Ideal Israel Delivers the Exiles

49:1 Listen to me, you coastlands! 1 

Pay attention, you people who live far away!

The Lord summoned me from birth; 2 

he commissioned me when my mother brought me into the world. 3 

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 4  arrow,

he hid me in his quiver. 5 

49:3 He said to me, “You are my servant,

Israel, through whom I will reveal my splendor.” 6 

49:4 But I thought, 7  “I have worked in vain;

I have expended my energy for absolutely nothing.” 8 

But the Lord will vindicate me;

my God will reward me. 9 

49:5 So now the Lord says,

the one who formed me from birth 10  to be his servant –

he did this 11  to restore Jacob to himself,

so that Israel might be gathered to him;

and I will be honored 12  in the Lord’s sight,

for my God is my source of strength 13 

49:6 he says, “Is it too insignificant a task for you to be my servant,

to reestablish the tribes of Jacob,

and restore the remnant 14  of Israel? 15 

I will make you a light to the nations, 16 

so you can bring 17  my deliverance to the remote regions of the earth.”

49:7 This is what the Lord,

the protector 18  of Israel, their Holy One, 19  says

to the one who is despised 20  and rejected 21  by nations, 22 

a servant of rulers:

“Kings will see and rise in respect, 23 

princes will bow down,

because of the faithful Lord,

the Holy One of Israel who has chosen you.”

49:8 This is what the Lord says:

“At the time I decide to show my favor, I will respond to you;

in the day of deliverance I will help you;

I will protect you 24  and make you a covenant mediator for people, 25 

to rebuild 26  the land 27 

and to reassign the desolate property.

49:9 You will say 28  to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’

and to those who are in dark dungeons, 29  ‘Emerge.’ 30 

They will graze beside the roads;

on all the slopes they will find pasture.

49:10 They will not be hungry or thirsty;

the sun’s oppressive heat will not beat down on them, 31 

for one who has compassion on them will guide them;

he will lead them to springs of water.

49:11 I will make all my mountains into a road;

I will construct my roadways.”

49:12 Look, they come from far away!

Look, some come from the north and west,

and others from the land of Sinim! 32 

49:13 Shout for joy, O sky! 33 

Rejoice, O earth!

Let the mountains give a joyful shout!

For the Lord consoles his people

and shows compassion to the 34  oppressed.

Isaiah 50:4-11

Context
The Servant Perseveres

50:4 The sovereign Lord has given me the capacity to be his spokesman, 35 

so that I know how to help the weary. 36 

He wakes me up every morning;

he makes me alert so I can listen attentively as disciples do. 37 

50:5 The sovereign Lord has spoken to me clearly; 38 

I have not rebelled,

I have not turned back.

50:6 I offered my back to those who attacked, 39 

my jaws to those who tore out my beard;

I did not hide my face

from insults and spitting.

50:7 But the sovereign Lord helps me,

so I am not humiliated.

For that reason I am steadfastly resolved; 40 

I know I will not be put to shame.

50:8 The one who vindicates me is close by.

Who dares to argue with me? Let us confront each other! 41 

Who is my accuser? 42  Let him challenge me! 43 

50:9 Look, the sovereign Lord helps me.

Who dares to condemn me?

Look, all of them will wear out like clothes;

a moth will eat away at them.

50:10 Who among you fears the Lord?

Who obeys 44  his servant?

Whoever walks in deep darkness, 45 

without light,

should trust in the name of the Lord

and rely on his God.

50:11 Look, all of you who start a fire

and who equip yourselves with 46  flaming arrows, 47 

walk 48  in the light 49  of the fire you started

and among the flaming arrows you ignited! 50 

This is what you will receive from me: 51 

you will lie down in a place of pain. 52 

Isaiah 52:13--53:12

Context
The Lord Will Vindicate His Servant

52:13 “Look, my servant will succeed! 53 

He will be elevated, lifted high, and greatly exalted 54 

52:14 (just as many were horrified by the sight of you) 55 

he was so disfigured 56  he no longer looked like a man; 57 

52:15 his form was so marred he no longer looked human 58 

so now 59  he will startle 60  many nations.

Kings will be shocked by his exaltation, 61 

for they will witness something unannounced to them,

and they will understand something they had not heard about.

53:1 Who would have believed 62  what we 63  just heard? 64 

When 65  was the Lord’s power 66  revealed through him?

53:2 He sprouted up like a twig before God, 67 

like a root out of parched soil; 68 

he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention, 69 

no special appearance that we should want to follow him. 70 

53:3 He was despised and rejected by people, 71 

one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness;

people hid their faces from him; 72 

he was despised, and we considered him insignificant. 73 

53:4 But he lifted up our illnesses,

he carried our pain; 74 

even though we thought he was being punished,

attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done. 75 

53:5 He was wounded because of 76  our rebellious deeds,

crushed because of our sins;

he endured punishment that made us well; 77 

because of his wounds we have been healed. 78 

53:6 All of us had wandered off like sheep;

each of us had strayed off on his own path,

but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him. 79 

53:7 He was treated harshly and afflicted, 80 

but he did not even open his mouth.

Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block,

like a sheep silent before her shearers,

he did not even open his mouth. 81 

53:8 He was led away after an unjust trial 82 

but who even cared? 83 

Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living; 84 

because of the rebellion of his own 85  people he was wounded.

53:9 They intended to bury him with criminals, 86 

but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb, 87 

because 88  he had committed no violent deeds,

nor had he spoken deceitfully.

53:10 Though the Lord desired to crush him and make him ill,

once restitution is made, 89 

he will see descendants and enjoy long life, 90 

and the Lord’s purpose will be accomplished through him.

53:11 Having suffered, he will reflect on his work,

he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done. 91 

“My servant 92  will acquit many, 93 

for he carried their sins. 94 

53:12 So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes, 95 

he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful, 96 

because he willingly submitted 97  to death

and was numbered with the rebels,

when he lifted up the sin of many

and intervened 98  on behalf of the rebels.”

1 tn Or “islands” (NASB, NIV); NLT “in far-off lands.”

sn The Lord’s special servant, introduced in chap. 42, speaks here of his commission.

2 tn Heb “called me from the womb.”

3 tn Heb “from the inner parts of my mother he mentioned my name.”

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

5 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.

6 sn This verse identifies the servant as Israel. This seems to refer to the exiled nation (cf. 41:8-9; 44:1-2, 21; 45:4; 48:20), but in vv. 5-6 this servant says he has been commissioned to reconcile Israel to God, so he must be distinct from the exiled nation. This servant is an ideal “Israel” who, like Moses of old, mediates a covenant for the nation (see v. 8), leads them out of bondage (v. 9a), and carries out God’s original plan for Israel by positively impacting the pagan nations (see v. 6b). By living according to God’s law, Israel was to be a model of God’s standards of justice to the surrounding nations (Deut 4:6-8). The sinful nation failed, but the servant, the ideal “Israel,” will succeed by establishing justice throughout the earth.

7 tn Or “said” (KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); NLT “I replied.”

8 tn Heb “for nothing and emptiness.” Synonyms are combined to emphasize the common idea.

9 tn Heb “But my justice is with the Lord, and my reward [or “wage”] with my God.”

10 tn Heb “from the womb” (so KJV, NASB).

11 tn The words “he did this” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. In the Hebrew text the infinitive construct of purpose is subordinated to the previous statement.

12 tn The vav (ו) + imperfect is translated here as a result clause; one might interpret it as indicating purpose, “and so I might be honored.”

13 tn Heb “and my God is [perhaps, “having been”] my strength.” The disjunctive structure (vav [ו] + subject + verb) is interpreted here as indicating a causal circumstantial clause.

14 tn Heb “the protected [or “preserved”] ones.”

15 sn The question is purely rhetorical; it does not imply that the servant was dissatisfied with his commission or that he minimized the restoration of Israel.

16 tn See the note at 42:6.

17 tn Heb “be” (so KJV, ASV); CEV “you must take.”

18 tn Heb “redeemer.” See the note at 41:14.

19 sn See the note on the phrase “the Holy One of Israel” in 1:4.

20 tc The Hebrew text reads literally “to [one who] despises life.” It is preferable to read with the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa לבזוי, which should be vocalized as a passive participle, לִבְזוּי (livzuy, “to the one despised with respect to life” [נֶפֶשׁ is a genitive of specification]). The consonantal sequence וי was probably misread as ה in the MT tradition. The contextual argument favors the 1QIsaa reading. As J. N. Oswalt (Isaiah [NICOT], 2:294) points out, the three terse phrases “convey a picture of lowliness, worthlessness, and helplessness.”

21 tn MT’s Piel participle (“to the one who rejects”) does not fit contextually. The form should be revocalized as a Pual, “to the one rejected.”

22 tn Parallelism (see “rulers,” “kings,” “princes”) suggests that the singular גּוֹי (goy) be emended to a plural or understood in a collective sense (see 55:5).

23 tn For this sense of קוּם (qum), see Gen 19:1; 23:7; 33:10; Lev 19:32; 1 Sam 20:41; 25:41; 1 Kgs 2:19; Job 29:8.

24 tn The translation assumes the verb is derived from the root נָצָר (natsar, “protect”). Some prefer to derive it from the root יָצָר (yatsar, “form”).

25 tn Heb “a covenant of people.” A person cannot literally be a covenant; בְּרִית (bÿrit) is probably metonymic here, indicating a covenant mediator. Here עָם (’am, “people”) appears to refer to Israel. See the note at 42:6.

26 tn The Hiphil of קוּם (qum, “arise”) is probably used here in the sense of “rebuild.”

27 tn The “land” probably stands by metonymy for the ruins within it.

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

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

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

31 tn Heb “and the heat and the sun will not strike them.” In Isa 35:7, its only other occurrence in the OT, שָׁרָב (sharav) stands parallel to “parched ground” and in contrast to “pool.” In later Hebrew and Aramaic it refers to “dry heat, heat of the sun” (Jastrow 1627 s.v.). Here it likely has this nuance and forms a hendiadys with “sun.”

32 tc The MT reads “Sinim” here; the Dead Sea Scrolls read “Syene,” a location in Egypt associated with modern Aswan. A number of recent translations adopt this reading: “Syene” (NAB, NRSV); “Aswan” (NIV); “Egypt” (NLT).

sn The precise location of the land of Sinim is uncertain, but since the north and west are mentioned in the previous line, it was a probably located in the distant east or south.

33 tn Or “O heavens.” The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heavens” or “sky” depending on the context.

34 tn Heb “his” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).

35 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.

36 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.

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

38 tn Or perhaps, “makes me obedient.” The text reads literally, “has opened for me an ear.”

39 tn Or perhaps, “who beat [me].”

40 tn Heb “Therefore I set my face like flint.”

41 tn Heb “Let us stand together!”

42 tn Heb “Who is the master of my judgment?”

43 tn Heb “let him approach me”; NAB, NIV “Let him confront me.”

44 tn Heb “[who] listens to the voice of his servant?” The interrogative is understood by ellipsis (note the preceding line).

45 tn The plural indicates degree. Darkness may refer to exile and/or moral evil.

46 tc Several more recent commentators have proposed an emendation of מְאַזְּרֵי (mÿazzÿre, “who put on”) to מְאִירִי (mÿiri, “who light”). However, both Qumran scrolls of Isaiah and the Vulgate support the MT reading (cf. NIV, ESV).

47 tn On the meaning of זִיקוֹת (ziqot, “flaming arrows”), see HALOT 268 s.v. זִיקוֹת.

48 tn The imperative is probably rhetorical and has a predictive force.

49 tn Or perhaps, “flame” (so ASV).

50 sn Perhaps the servant here speaks to his enemies and warns them that they will self-destruct.

51 tn Heb “from my hand” (so NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).

52 sn The imagery may be that of a person who becomes ill and is forced to lie down in pain on a sickbed. Some see this as an allusion to a fiery place of damnation because of the imagery employed earlier in the verse.

53 tn Heb “act wisely,” which by metonymy means “succeed.”

54 tn This piling up of synonyms emphasizes the degree of the servant’s coming exaltation.

55 tn Some witnesses read “him,” which is more consistent with the context, where the servant is spoken about, not addressed. However, it is possible that the Lord briefly addresses the servant here. The present translation assumes the latter view and places the phrase in parentheses.

56 tn Heb “such was the disfigurement.” The noun מִשְׁחַת (mishkhat) occurs only here. It may be derived from the verbal root שָׁחַת (shakhat, “be ruined”; see BDB 1007-8 s.v. שָׁחַת). The construct form appears here before a prepositional phrase (cf. GKC 421 §130.a).

57 tn Heb “from a man his appearance.” The preposition מִן (min) here carries the sense “away from,” i.e., “so as not to be.” See BDB 583 s.v.

58 tn Heb “and his form from the sons of men.” The preposition מִן (min) here carries the sense “away from,” i.e., “so as not to be.”

59 tn This statement completes the sentence begun in v. 14a. The introductory כֵּן (ken) answers to the introductory כַּאֲשֶׁר (kaasher) of v. 14a. Verses 14b-15a are parenthetical, explaining why many were horrified.

60 tn Traditionally the verb יַזֶּה (yazzeh, a Hiphil stem) has been understood as a causative of נָזָה (nazah, “spurt, spatter”) and translated “sprinkle.” In this case the passage pictures the servant as a priest who “sprinkles” (or spiritually cleanses) the nations. Though the verb נָזָה does occur in the Hiphil with the meaning “sprinkle,” the usual interpretation is problematic. In all other instances where the object or person sprinkled is indicated, the verb is combined with a preposition. This is not the case in Isaiah 52:15, unless one takes the following עָלָיו (’alayv, “on him”) with the preceding line. But then one would have to emend the verb to a plural, make the nations the subject of the verb “sprinkle,” and take the servant as the object. Consequently some interpreters doubt the cultic idea of “sprinkling” is present here. Some emend the text; others propose a homonymic root meaning “spring, leap,” which in the Hiphil could mean “cause to leap, startle” and would fit the parallelism of the verse nicely.

61 tn Heb “Because of him kings will shut their mouths,” i.e., be speechless.

62 tn The perfect has a hypothetical force in this rhetorical question. For another example, see Gen 21:7.

63 sn The speaker shifts here from God to an unidentified group (note the first person plural pronouns throughout vv. 1-6). The content of the speech suggests that the prophet speaks here as representative of the sinful nation Israel. The group acknowledges its sin and recognizes that the servant suffered on their behalf.

64 tn The first half of v. 1 is traditionally translated, “Who has believed our report?” or “Who has believed our message?” as if the group speaking is lamenting that no one will believe what they have to say. But that doesn’t seem to be the point in this context. Here the group speaking does not cast itself in the role of a preacher or evangelist. No, they are repentant sinners, who finally see the light. The phrase “our report” can mean (1) the report which we deliver, or (2) the report which was delivered to us. The latter fits better here, where the report is most naturally taken as the announcement that has just been made in 52:13-15.

65 tn Heb “to whom” (so KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV).

66 tn Heb “the arm of the Lord.” The “arm of the Lord” is a metaphor of military power; it pictures the Lord as a warrior who bares his arm, takes up his weapon, and crushes his enemies (cf. 51:9-10; 63:5-6). But Israel had not seen the Lord’s military power at work in the servant.

67 tn Heb “before him.” Some suggest an emendation to “before us.” If the third singular suffix of the Hebrew text is retained, it probably refers to the Lord (see v. 1b). For a defense of this reading, see R. Whybray, Isaiah 40-66 (NCBC), 173-74.

68 sn The metaphor in this verse suggests insignificance.

69 tn Heb “that we might see him.” The vav conjunctive prefixed to the imperfect introduces a result clause here. See GKC 504-5 §166.a.

70 tn Heb “that we should desire him.” The vav conjunctive prefixed to the imperfect introduces a result clause here. See GKC 504-5 §166.a.

71 tn Heb “lacking of men.” If the genitive is taken as specifying (“lacking with respect to men”), then the idea is that he lacked company because he was rejected by people. Another option is to take the genitive as indicating genus or larger class (i.e., “one lacking among men”). In this case one could translate, “he was a transient” (cf. the use of חָדֵל [khadel] in Ps 39:5 HT [39:4 ET]).

72 tn Heb “like a hiding of the face from him,” i.e., “like one before whom the face is hidden” (see BDB 712 s.v. מַסְתֵּר).

73 sn The servant is likened to a seriously ill person who is shunned by others because of his horrible disease.

74 sn Illness and pain stand by metonymy (or perhaps as metaphors) for sin and its effects, as vv. 11-12 make clear.

75 tn The words “for something he had done” are supplied in the translation for clarification. The group now realizes he suffered because of his identification with them, not simply because he was a special target of divine anger.

76 tn The preposition מִן (min) has a causal sense (translated “because of”) here and in the following clause.

77 tn Heb “the punishment of our peace [was] on him.” שָׁלוֹם (shalom, “peace”) is here a genitive of result, i.e., “punishment that resulted in our peace.”

78 sn Continuing to utilize the imagery of physical illness, the group acknowledges that the servant’s willingness to carry their illnesses (v. 4) resulted in their being healed. Healing is a metaphor for forgiveness here.

79 tn Elsewhere the Hiphil of פָגַע (paga’) means “to intercede verbally” (Jer 15:11; 36:25) or “to intervene militarily” (Isa 59:16), but neither nuance fits here. Apparently here the Hiphil is the causative of the normal Qal meaning, “encounter, meet, touch.” The Qal sometimes refers to a hostile encounter or attack; when used in this way the object is normally introduced by the preposition -בְּ (bet, see Josh 2:16; Judg 8:21; 15:12, etc.). Here the causative Hiphil has a double object – the Lord makes “sin” attack “him” (note that the object attacked is introduced by the preposition -בְּ. In their sin the group was like sheep who had wandered from God’s path. They were vulnerable to attack; the guilt of their sin was ready to attack and destroy them. But then the servant stepped in and took the full force of the attack.

80 tn The translation assumes the Niphal is passive; another option is take the clause (note the subject + verb pattern) as concessive and the Niphal as reflexive, “though he humbled himself.”

81 sn This verse emphasizes the servant’s silent submission. The comparison to a sheep does not necessarily suggest a sacrificial metaphor. Sheep were slaughtered for food as well as for sacrificial rituals, and טֶבַח (tevakh) need not refer to sacrificial slaughter (see Gen 43:16; Prov 7:22; 9:2; Jer 50:27; note also the use of the related verb in Exod 21:37; Deut 28:31; 1 Sam 25:11).

82 tn The precise meaning of this line is uncertain. The present translation assumes that מִן (min) here has an instrumental sense (“by, through”) and understands עֹצֶר וּמִמִּשְׁפָּט (’otser umimmishpat, “coercion and legal decision”) as a hendiadys meaning “coercive legal decision,” thus “an unjust trial.” Other interpretive options include: (1) “without [for this sense of מִן, see BDB 578 s.v. 1.b] hindrance and proper judicial process,” i.e., “unfairly and with no one to defend him,” (2) “from [in the sense of “after,” see BDB 581 s.v. 4.b] arrest and judgment.”

83 tn Heb “and his generation, who considers?” (NASB similar). Some understand “his generation” as a reference to descendants. In this case the question would suggest that he will have none. However, אֶת (’et) may be taken here as specifying a new subject (see BDB 85 s.v. I אֵת 3). If “his generation” refers to the servant’s contemporary generation, one may then translate, “As for his contemporary generation, who took note?” The point would be that few were concerned about the harsh treatment he received.

84 sn The “land of the living” is an idiom for the sphere where people live, in contrast to the underworld realm of the dead. See, for example, Ezek 32:23-27.

85 tn The Hebrew text reads “my people,” a reading followed by most English versions, but this is problematic in a context where the first person plural predominates, and where God does not appear to speak again until v. 11b. Therefore, it is preferable to read with the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa עמו (“his people”). In this case, the group speaking in these verses is identified as the servant’s people (compare פְּשָׁעֵנוּ [pÿshaenu, “our rebellious deeds”] in v. 5 with פֶּשַׁע עַמִּי [pesha’ ’ammi, “the rebellion of his people”] in v. 8).

86 tn Heb “one assigned his grave with criminals.” The subject of the singular is impersonal; English typically uses “they” in such constructions.

87 tn This line reads literally, “and with the rich in his death.” בְּמֹתָיו (bÿmotayv) combines a preposition, a plural form of the noun מוֹת (mot), and a third masculine singular suffix. The plural of the noun is problematic and the יו may be the result of virtual dittography. The form should probably be emended to בָּמָתוֹ (bamato, singular noun). The relationship between this line and the preceding one is uncertain. The parallelism appears to be synonymous (note “his grave” and “in his death”), but “criminals” and “the rich” hardly make a compatible pair in this context, for they would not be buried in the same kind of tomb. Some emend עָשִׁיר (’ashir, “rich”) to עָשֵׂי רָע (’ase ra’, “doers of evil”) but the absence of the ayin (ע) is not readily explained in this graphic environment. Others suggest an emendation to שְׂעִירִים (sÿirim, “he-goats, demons”), but the meaning in this case is not entirely transparent and the proposal assumes that the form suffered from both transposition and the inexplicable loss of a final mem. Still others relate עָשִׁיר (’ashir) to an alleged Arabic cognate meaning “mob.” See HALOT 896 s.v. עָשִׁיר. Perhaps the parallelism is antithetical, rather than synonymous. In this case, the point is made that the servant’s burial in a rich man’s tomb, in contrast to a criminal’s burial, was appropriate, for he had done nothing wrong.

88 tn If the second line is antithetical, then עַל (’al) is probably causal here, explaining why the servant was buried in a rich man’s tomb, rather than that of criminal. If the first two lines are synonymous, then עַל is probably concessive: “even though….”

89 tn The meaning of this line is uncertain. It reads literally, “if you/she makes, a reparation offering, his life.” The verb תָּשִׂים (tasim) could be second masculine singular,in which case it would have to be addressed to the servant or to God. However, the servant is only addressed once in this servant song (see 52:14a), and God either speaks or is spoken about in this servant song; he is never addressed. Furthermore, the idea of God himself making a reparation offering is odd. If the verb is taken as third feminine singular, then the feminine noun נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) at the end of the line is the likely subject. In this case one can take the suffixed form of the noun as equivalent to a pronoun and translate, “if he [literally, “his life”] makes a reparation offering.”

sn What constitutes the servant’s reparation offering? Some might think his suffering, but the preceding context views this as past, while the verb here is imperfect in form. The offering appears to be something the servant does after his suffering has been completed. Perhaps the background of the language can be found in the Levitical code, where a healed leper would offer a reparation offering as part of the ritual to achieve ceremonial cleanliness (see Lev 14). The servant was pictured earlier in the song as being severely ill. This illness (a metaphor for the effects of the people’s sin) separated him from God. However, here we discover the separation is not final; once reparation is made, so to speak, he will again experience the Lord’s favor.

90 sn The idiomatic and stereotypical language emphasizes the servant’s restoration to divine favor. Having numerous descendants and living a long life are standard signs of divine blessing. See Job 42:13-16.

91 tn Heb “he will be satisfied by his knowledge,” i.e., “when he knows.” The preposition is understood as temporal and the suffix as a subjective genitive. Some take בְּדַעְתּוֹ (bÿdato, “by his knowledge”) with what follows and translate “by knowledge of him,” understanding the preposition as instrumental and the suffix as objective.

92 sn The song ends as it began (cf. 52:13-15), with the Lord announcing the servant’s vindication and exaltation.

93 tn Heb “he will acquit, a righteous one, my servant, many.” צַדִּיק (tsadiq) may refer to the servant, but more likely it is dittographic (note the preceding verb יַצְדִּיק, yatsdiq). The precise meaning of the verb (the Hiphil of צָדַק, tsadaq) is debated. Elsewhere the Hiphil is used at least six times in the sense of “make righteous” in a legal sense, i.e., “pronounce innocent, acquit” (see Exod 23:7; Deut 25:1; 1 Kgs 8:32 = 2 Chr 6:23; Prov 17:15; Isa 5:23). It can also mean “render justice” (as a royal function, see 2 Sam 15:4; Ps 82:3), “concede” (Job 27:5), “vindicate” (Isa 50:8), and “lead to righteousness” (by teaching and example, Dan 12:3). The preceding context and the next line suggest a legal sense here. Because of his willingness to carry the people’s sins, the servant is able to “acquit” them.

sn Some (e.g., H. M. Orlinsky, “The So-called ‘Suffering Servant’ in Isaiah 53,22,” VTSup 14 [1967]: 3-133) object to this legal interpretation of the language, arguing that it would be unjust for the righteous to suffer for the wicked and for the wicked to be declared innocent. However, such a surprising development is consistent with the ironic nature of this song. It does seem unfair for the innocent to die for the guilty. But what is God to do when all have sinned and wandered off like stray sheep (cf. v. 6)? Covenant law demands punishment, but punishment in this case would mean annihilation of what God has created. God’s justice, as demanded by the law, must be satisfied. To satisfy his justice, he does something seemingly unjust. He punishes his sinless servant, the only one who has not strayed off! In the progress of biblical revelation, we discover that the sinless servant is really God in the flesh, who offers himself because he is committed to the world he has created. If his justice can only be satisfied if he himself endures the punishment, then so be it. What appears to be an act of injustice is really love satisfying the demands of justice!

94 tn The circumstantial clause (note the vav [ו] + object + subject + verb pattern) is understood as causal here. The prefixed verb form is either a preterite or an imperfect used in a customary manner.

95 tn Scholars have debated the precise meaning of the term רַבִּים (rabbim) that occurs five times in this passage (Isa 52:14, 15; 53:11, 12 [2x]). Its two broad categories of translation are “much”/“many” and “great” (HALOT 1171-72 s.v. I רַב). Unlike other Hebrew terms for might or strength, this term is linked with numbers or abundance. In all sixteen uses outside of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 (articular and plural) it signifies an inclusive meaning: “the majority” or “the multitude” (J. Jeremias, TDNT 6:536-37). This term occurs in parallelism with עֲצוּמִים (’atsumim), which normally signifies “numerous” or “large” or “powerful” (through large numbers). Like רַבִּים (rabbim), it refers to greatness in numbers (cf. Deut 4:38; 7:1; 9:1; 11:34). It emphasizes the multitudes with whom the Servant will share the spoil of his victory. As J. Olley wrote: “Yahweh has won the victory and vindicates his Servant, giving to him many subservient people, together with their spoils. These numerous peoples in turn receive blessing, sharing in the “peace” resulting from Yahweh’s victory and the Servant’s suffering” (John W. Olley, “‘The Many’: How Is Isa 53,12a to Be Understood,” Bib 68 [1987]: 330-56).

96 sn The servant is compared here to a warrior who will be richly rewarded for his effort and success in battle.

97 tn Heb “because he laid bare his life”; traditionally, ASV “because he (+ hath KJV) poured out his soul (life NIV) unto death.”

98 tn The Hiphil of פָּגַע (paga’) can mean “cause to attack” (v. 6), “urge, plead verbally” (Jer 15:11; 36:25), or “intervene militarily” (Isa 59:16). Perhaps the third nuance fits best here, for military imagery is employed in the first two lines of the verse.



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