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 1 arrow,
he hid me in his quiver. 2
so that I know how to help the weary. 4
He wakes me up every morning;
he makes me alert so I can listen attentively as disciples do. 5
1 tn Or perhaps, “polished” (so KJV, ASV, NAB, NIV, NRSV); NASB “a select arrow.”
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.
5 tn Heb “he arouses for me an ear, to hear like disciples.”