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Isaiah 52:13-15

Context
The Lord Will Vindicate His Servant

52:13 “Look, my servant will succeed! 1 

He will be elevated, lifted high, and greatly exalted 2 

52:14 (just as many were horrified by the sight of you) 3 

he was so disfigured 4  he no longer looked like a man; 5 

52:15 his form was so marred he no longer looked human 6 

so now 7  he will startle 8  many nations.

Kings will be shocked by his exaltation, 9 

for they will witness something unannounced to them,

and they will understand something they had not heard about.

1 tn Heb “act wisely,” which by metonymy means “succeed.”

2 tn This piling up of synonyms emphasizes the degree of the servant’s coming exaltation.

3 tn Some witnesses read “him,” which is more consistent with the context, where the servant is spoken about, not addressed. However, it is possible that the Lord briefly addresses the servant here. The present translation assumes the latter view and places the phrase in parentheses.

4 tn Heb “such was the disfigurement.” The noun מִשְׁחַת (mishkhat) occurs only here. It may be derived from the verbal root שָׁחַת (shakhat, “be ruined”; see BDB 1007-8 s.v. שָׁחַת). The construct form appears here before a prepositional phrase (cf. GKC 421 §130.a).

5 tn Heb “from a man his appearance.” The preposition מִן (min) here carries the sense “away from,” i.e., “so as not to be.” See BDB 583 s.v.

6 tn Heb “and his form from the sons of men.” The preposition מִן (min) here carries the sense “away from,” i.e., “so as not to be.”

7 tn This statement completes the sentence begun in v. 14a. The introductory כֵּן (ken) answers to the introductory כַּאֲשֶׁר (kaasher) of v. 14a. Verses 14b-15a are parenthetical, explaining why many were horrified.

8 tn Traditionally the verb יַזֶּה (yazzeh, a Hiphil stem) has been understood as a causative of נָזָה (nazah, “spurt, spatter”) and translated “sprinkle.” In this case the passage pictures the servant as a priest who “sprinkles” (or spiritually cleanses) the nations. Though the verb נָזָה does occur in the Hiphil with the meaning “sprinkle,” the usual interpretation is problematic. In all other instances where the object or person sprinkled is indicated, the verb is combined with a preposition. This is not the case in Isaiah 52:15, unless one takes the following עָלָיו (’alayv, “on him”) with the preceding line. But then one would have to emend the verb to a plural, make the nations the subject of the verb “sprinkle,” and take the servant as the object. Consequently some interpreters doubt the cultic idea of “sprinkling” is present here. Some emend the text; others propose a homonymic root meaning “spring, leap,” which in the Hiphil could mean “cause to leap, startle” and would fit the parallelism of the verse nicely.

9 tn Heb “Because of him kings will shut their mouths,” i.e., be speechless.



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