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Isaiah 51:9-10

Context

51:9 Wake up! Wake up!

Clothe yourself with strength, O arm of the Lord! 1 

Wake up as in former times, as in antiquity!

Did you not smash 2  the Proud One? 3 

Did you not 4  wound the sea monster? 5 

51:10 Did you not dry up the sea,

the waters of the great deep?

Did you not make 6  a path through the depths of the sea,

so those delivered from bondage 7  could cross over?

1 tn The arm of the Lord is a symbol of divine military power. Here it is personified and told to arouse itself from sleep and prepare for action.

2 tn Heb “Are you not the one who smashed?” The feminine singular forms agree grammatically with the feminine noun “arm.” The Hebrew text has ַהמַּחְצֶבֶת (hammakhtsevet), from the verbal root חָצַב (khatsav, “hew, chop”). The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa has, probably correctly, המחצת, from the verbal root מָחַץ (makhats, “smash”) which is used in Job 26:12 to describe God’s victory over “the Proud One.”

3 tn This title (רַהַב, rahav, “proud one”) is sometimes translated as a proper name: “Rahab” (cf. NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV). It is used here of a symbolic sea monster, known elsewhere in the Bible and in Ugaritic myth as Leviathan. This sea creature symbolizes the forces of chaos that seek to destroy the created order. In the Bible “the Proud One” opposes God’s creative work, but is defeated (see Job 26:12; Ps 89:10). Here the title refers to Pharaoh’s Egyptian army that opposed Israel at the Red Sea (see v. 10, and note also Isa 30:7 and Ps 87:4, where the title is used of Egypt).

4 tn The words “did you not” are understood by ellipsis (note the preceding line). The rhetorical questions here and in v. 10 expect the answer, “Yes, you certainly did!”

5 tn Hebrew תַּנִּין (tannin) is another name for the symbolic sea monster. See the note at 27:1. In this context the sea creature represents Egypt. See the note on the title “Proud One” earlier in this verse.

6 tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “Are you not the one who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made…?”

7 tn Heb “the redeemed” (so ASV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); KJV “the ransomed.”



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