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Isaiah 51:5-6

Context

51:5 I am ready to vindicate, 1 

I am ready to deliver, 2 

I will establish justice among the nations. 3 

The coastlands 4  wait patiently for me;

they wait in anticipation for the revelation of my power. 5 

51:6 Look up at the sky!

Look at the earth below!

For the sky will dissipate 6  like smoke,

and the earth will wear out like clothes;

its residents will die like gnats.

But the deliverance I give 7  is permanent;

the vindication I provide 8  will not disappear. 9 

Isaiah 51:16

Context
Zion’s Time to Celebrate

51:16 I commission you 10  as my spokesman; 11 

I cover you with the palm of my hand, 12 

to establish 13  the sky and to found the earth,

to say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’” 14 

1 tn Heb “my righteousness [or “vindication”] is near.”

2 tn Heb “my deliverance goes forth.”

3 tn Heb “and my arms will judge [on behalf of] nations.”

4 tn Or “islands” (NIV); TEV “Distant lands.”

5 tn Heb “for my arm” (so NIV, NRSV).

6 tn Heb “will be torn in pieces.” The perfect indicates the certitude of the event, from the Lord’s rhetorical perspective.

7 tn Heb “my deliverance.” The same Hebrew word can also be translated “salvation” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT); cf. CEV “victory.”

8 tn Heb “my righteousness [or “vindication”].”

9 tn Heb “will not be shattered [or “dismayed”].”

10 tn The addressee (second masculine singular, as in vv. 13, 15) in this verse is unclear. The exiles are addressed in the immediately preceding verses (note the critical tone of vv. 12-13 and the reference to the exiles in v. 14). However, it seems unlikely that they are addressed in v. 16, for the addressee appears to be commissioned to tell Zion, who here represents the restored exiles, “you are my people.” The addressee is distinct from the exiles. The language of v. 16a is reminiscent of 49:2 and 50:4, where the Lord’s special servant says he is God’s spokesman and effective instrument. Perhaps the Lord, having spoken to the exiles in vv. 1-15, now responds to this servant, who spoke just prior to this in 50:4-11.

11 tn Heb “I place my words in your mouth.”

12 tn Heb “with the shadow of my hand.”

13 tc The Hebrew text has לִנְטֹעַ (lintoa’, “to plant”). Several scholars prefer to emend this form to לִנְטֹת (lintot) from נָטָה (natah, “to stretch out”); see v. 13, as well as 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; cf. NAB, NCV, NRSV. However, since the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa, LXX (and Aquila and Symmachus), and Vulgate support the MT reading, there is no need to emend the form. The interpretation is clear enough: Yahweh fixed the sky in its place.

14 tn The infinitives in v. 16b are most naturally understood as indicating the purpose of the divine actions described in v. 16a. The relationship of the third infinitive to the commission is clear enough – the Lord has made the addressee (his special servant?) his spokesman so that the latter might speak encouraging words to those in Zion. But how do the first two infinitives relate? The text seems to indicate that the Lord has commissioned the addressee so that the latter might create the universe! Perhaps creation imagery is employed metaphorically here to refer to the transformation that Jerusalem will experience (see 65:17-18).



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