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
49:6 he says, “Is it too insignificant a task for you to be my servant,
to reestablish the tribes of Jacob,
I will make you a light to the nations, 9
so you can bring 10 my deliverance to the remote regions of the earth.”
49:7 This is what the Lord,
a servant of rulers:
“Kings will see and rise in respect, 16
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;
and to reassign the desolate property.
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 Heb “the protected [or “preserved”] ones.”
8 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.
10 tn Heb “be” (so KJV, ASV); CEV “you must take.”
13 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.”
14 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.”
17 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”).
18 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.
19 tn The Hiphil of קוּם (qum, “arise”) is probably used here in the sense of “rebuild.”
20 tn The “land” probably stands by metonymy for the ruins within it.