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Isaiah 50:2-9

Context

50:2 Why does no one challenge me when I come?

Why does no one respond when I call? 1 

Is my hand too weak 2  to deliver 3  you?

Do I lack the power to rescue you?

Look, with a mere shout 4  I can dry up the sea;

I can turn streams into a desert,

so the fish rot away and die

from lack of water. 5 

50:3 I can clothe the sky in darkness;

I can cover it with sackcloth.”

The Servant Perseveres

50:4 The sovereign Lord has given me the capacity to be his spokesman, 6 

so that I know how to help the weary. 7 

He wakes me up every morning;

he makes me alert so I can listen attentively as disciples do. 8 

50:5 The sovereign Lord has spoken to me clearly; 9 

I have not rebelled,

I have not turned back.

50:6 I offered my back to those who attacked, 10 

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; 11 

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! 12 

Who is my accuser? 13  Let him challenge me! 14 

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.

1 sn The present tense translation of the verbs assumes that the Lord is questioning why Israel does not attempt to counter his arguments. Another possibility is to take the verbs as referring to past events: “Why did no one meet me when I came? Why did no one answer when I called?” In this case the Lord might be asking why Israel rejected his calls to repent and his offer to deliver them.

2 tn Heb “short” (so NAB, NASB, NIV).

3 tn Or “ransom” (NAB, NASB, NIV).

4 tn Heb “with my rebuke.”

5 tn Heb “the fish stink from lack of water and die from thirst.”

6 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.

7 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.

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

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

10 tn Or perhaps, “who beat [me].”

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

12 tn Heb “Let us stand together!”

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

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



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