55:1 “Hey, 1 all who are thirsty, come to the water!
You who have no money, come!
Buy and eat!
Come! Buy wine and milk
without money and without cost! 2
55:2 Why pay money for something that will not nourish you? 3
Why spend 4 your hard-earned money 5 on something that will not satisfy?
Listen carefully 6 to me and eat what is nourishing! 7
Enjoy fine food! 8
55:3 Pay attention and come to me!
Listen, so you can live! 9
Then I will make an unconditional covenantal promise to 10 you,
just like the reliable covenantal promises I made to David. 11
55:4 Look, I made him a witness to nations, 12
a ruler and commander of nations.”
55:5 Look, you will summon nations 13 you did not previously know;
nations 14 that did not previously know you will run to you,
because of the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, 15
for he bestows honor on you.
55:6 Seek the Lord while he makes himself available; 16
call to him while he is nearby!
55:7 The wicked need to abandon their lifestyle 17
and sinful people their plans. 18
They should return 19 to the Lord, and he will show mercy to them, 20
and to their God, for he will freely forgive them. 21
55:8 “Indeed, 22 my plans 23 are not like 24 your plans,
and my deeds 25 are not like 26 your deeds,
55:9 for just as the sky 27 is higher than the earth,
so my deeds 28 are superior to 29 your deeds
and my plans 30 superior to your plans.
55:10 31 The rain and snow fall from the sky
and do not return,
but instead water the earth
and make it produce and yield crops,
and provide seed for the planter and food for those who must eat.
55:11 In the same way, the promise that I make
does not return to me, having accomplished nothing. 32
No, it is realized as I desire
and is fulfilled as I intend.” 33
55:12 Indeed you will go out with joy;
you will be led along in peace;
the mountains and hills will give a joyful shout before you,
and all the trees in the field will clap their hands.
55:13 Evergreens will grow in place of thorn bushes,
firs will grow in place of nettles;
they will be a monument to the Lord, 34
a permanent reminder that will remain. 35
56:1 This is what the Lord says,
“Promote 36 justice! Do what is right!
For I am ready to deliver you;
I am ready to vindicate you openly. 37
56:2 The people who do this will be blessed, 38
the people who commit themselves to obedience, 39
who observe the Sabbath and do not defile it,
who refrain from doing anything that is wrong. 40
56:3 No foreigner who becomes a follower of 41 the Lord should say,
‘The Lord will certainly 42 exclude me from his people.’
The eunuch should not say,
‘Look, I am like a dried-up tree.’”
56:4 For this is what the Lord says:
“For the eunuchs who observe my Sabbaths
and choose what pleases me
and are faithful to 43 my covenant,
56:5 I will set up within my temple and my walls a monument 44
that will be better than sons and daughters.
I will set up a permanent monument 45 for them that will remain.
56:6 As for foreigners who become followers of 46 the Lord and serve him,
who love the name of the Lord and want to be his servants –
all who observe the Sabbath and do not defile it,
and who are faithful to 47 my covenant –
56:7 I will bring them to my holy mountain;
I will make them happy in the temple where people pray to me. 48
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar,
for my temple will be known as a temple where all nations may pray.” 49
56:8 The sovereign Lord says this,
the one who gathers the dispersed of Israel:
“I will still gather them up.” 50
56:9 All you wild animals in the fields, come and devour,
all you wild animals in the forest!
56:10 All their watchmen 51 are blind,
they are unaware. 52
All of them are like mute dogs,
unable to bark.
They pant, 53 lie down,
and love to snooze.
56:11 The dogs have big appetites;
they are never full. 54
They are shepherds who have no understanding;
they all go their own way,
each one looking for monetary gain. 55
56:12 Each one says, 56
‘Come on, I’ll get some wine!
Let’s guzzle some beer!
Tomorrow will be just like today!
We’ll have everything we want!’ 57
57:1 The godly 58 perish,
but no one cares. 59
Honest people disappear, 60
when no one 61 minds 62
that the godly 63 disappear 64 because of 65 evil. 66
57:2 Those who live uprightly enter a place of peace;
they rest on their beds. 67
57:3 But approach, you sons of omen readers,
you offspring of adulteresses and prostitutes! 68
57:4 At whom are you laughing?
At whom are you opening your mouth
and sticking out your tongue?
You are the children of rebels,
the offspring of liars, 69
57:5 you who practice ritual sex 70 under the oaks and every green tree,
who slaughter children near the streams under the rocky overhangs. 71
57:6 Among the smooth stones of the stream are the idols you love;
they, they are the object of your devotion. 72
You pour out liquid offerings to them,
you make an offering.
Because of these things I will seek vengeance. 73
57:7 On every high, elevated hill you prepare your bed;
you go up there to offer sacrifices.
57:8 Behind the door and doorpost you put your symbols. 74
Indeed, 75 you depart from me 76 and go up
and invite them into bed with you. 77
You purchase favors from them, 78
you love their bed,
and gaze longingly 79 on their genitals. 80
57:9 You take olive oil as tribute 81 to your king, 82
along with many perfumes. 83
You send your messengers to a distant place;
you go all the way to Sheol. 84
57:10 Because of the long distance you must travel, you get tired, 85
but you do not say, ‘I give up.’ 86
You get renewed energy, 87
so you don’t collapse. 88
57:11 Whom are you worried about?
Whom do you fear, that you would act so deceitfully
and not remember me
or think about me? 89
Because I have been silent for so long, 90
you are not afraid of me. 91
57:12 I will denounce your so-called righteousness and your deeds, 92
but they will not help you.
57:13 When you cry out for help, let your idols 93 help you!
The wind blows them all away, 94
a breeze carries them away. 95
But the one who looks to me for help 96 will inherit the land
and will have access to 97 my holy mountain.”
57:14 He says, 98
“Build it! Build it! Clear a way!
Remove all the obstacles out of the way of my people!”
57:15 For this is what the high and exalted one says,
the one who rules 99 forever, whose name is holy:
“I dwell in an exalted and holy place,
but also with the discouraged and humiliated, 100
in order to cheer up the humiliated
and to encourage the discouraged. 101
57:16 For I will not be hostile 102 forever
or perpetually angry,
for then man’s spirit would grow faint before me, 103
the life-giving breath I created.
57:17 I was angry because of their sinful greed;
I attacked them and angrily rejected them, 104
yet they remained disobedient and stubborn. 105
57:18 I have seen their behavior, 106
but I will heal them and give them rest,
and I will once again console those who mourn. 107
57:19 I am the one who gives them reason to celebrate. 108
Complete prosperity 109 is available both to those who are far away and those who are nearby,”
says the Lord, “and I will heal them.
57:20 But the wicked are like a surging sea
that is unable to be quiet;
its waves toss up mud and sand.
57:21 There will be no prosperity,” says my God, “for the wicked.”
1 tn The Hebrew term הוֹי (hoy, “woe, ah”) was used in funeral laments and is often prefixed to judgment oracles for rhetorical effect. But here it appears to be a simple interjection, designed to grab the audience’s attention. Perhaps there is a note of sorrow or pity. See BDB 223 s.v.
2 sn The statement is an oxymoron. Its ironic quality adds to its rhetorical impact. The statement reminds one of the norm (one must normally buy commodities) as it expresses the astounding offer. One might paraphrase the statement: “Come and take freely what you normally have to pay for.”
3 tn Heb “for what is not food.”
4 tn The interrogative particle and the verb “spend” are understood here by ellipsis (note the preceding line).
5 tn Heb “your labor,” which stands by metonymy for that which one earns.
6 tn The infinitive absolute follows the imperative and lends emphasis to the exhortation.
7 tn Heb “good” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV).
8 tn Heb “Let your appetite delight in fine food.”
sn Nourishing, fine food here represents the blessings God freely offers. These include forgiveness, a new covenantal relationship with God, and national prominence (see vv. 3-6).
9 tn The jussive with vav (ו) conjunctive following the imperative indicates purpose/result.
sn To live here refers to covenantal blessing, primarily material prosperity and national security (see vv. 4-5, 13, and Deut 30:6, 15, 19-20).
10 tn Or “an eternal covenant with.”
11 tn Heb “the reliable expressions of loyalty of David.” The syntactical relationship of חַסְדֵי (khasde, “expressions of loyalty”) to the preceding line is unclear. If the term is appositional to בְּרִית (bÿrit, “covenant”), then the Lord here transfers the promises of the Davidic covenant to the entire nation. Another option is to take חַסְדֵי (khasde) as an adverbial accusative and to translate “according to the reliable covenantal promises.” In this case the new covenantal arrangement proposed here is viewed as an extension or perhaps fulfillment of the Davidic promises. A third option, the one reflected in the above translation, is to take the last line as comparative. In this case the new covenant being proposed is analogous to the Davidic covenant. Verses 4-5, which compare David’s international prominence to what Israel will experience, favors this view. In all three of these interpretations, “David” is an objective genitive; he is the recipient of covenantal promises. A fourth option would be to take David as a subjective genitive and understand the line as giving the basis for the preceding promise: “Then I will make an unconditional covenantal promise to you, because of David’s faithful acts of covenantal loyalty.”
12 sn Ideally the Davidic king was to testify to the nations of God’s greatness (cf. Pss 18:50 HT [18:49 ET]; 22:28 HT [22:27 ET]). See J. H. Eaton, Kingship in the Psalms (SBT), 182-84.
13 tn Heb “a nation,” but the singular is collective here, as the plural verbs in the next line indicate (note that both “know” and “run” are third plural forms).
14 tn Heb “a nation,” but the singular is collective here, as the plural verbs that follow indicate.
15 sn See the note on the phrase “the Holy One of Israel” in 1:4.
16 tn Heb “while he allows himself to be found.” The Niphal form has a tolerative force here.
17 tn Heb “Let the wicked one abandon his way.” The singular is collective.
18 tn Heb “and the man of evil his thoughts.” The singular is collective.
19 tn Heb “let him return.” The singular is collective, meaning “let them.”
20 tn The imperfect with vav (ו) conjunctive after the jussive indicates purpose/result.
21 sn The appeal and promise of vv. 6-7 echoes the language of Deut 4:25-31; 30:1-10; and 1 Kgs 8:46-53, all of which anticipate the exile and speak of the prerequisites for restoration.
22 tn Or “For” (KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV).
23 tn Or “thoughts” (so many English versions).
24 tn Heb “are not.” “Like” is interpretive, but v. 9 indicates that a comparison is in view.
25 tn Heb “ways” (so many English versions).
26 tn Heb “are not.” “Like” is interpretive, but v. 9 indicates that a comparison is in view.
27 tn Or “the heavens.” The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heavens” or “sky” depending on the context.
28 tn Heb “ways” (so many English versions).
29 tn Heb “are higher than.”
30 tn Or “thoughts” (so many English versions).
31 tn This verse begins in the Hebrew text with כִּי כַּאֲשֶׁר (ki ka’asher, “for, just as”), which is completed by כֵּן (ken, “so, in the same way”) at the beginning of v. 11. For stylistic reasons, this lengthy sentence is divided up into separate sentences in the translation.
32 tn Heb “so is the word which goes out from my mouth, it does not return to empty.” “Word” refers here to divine promises, like the ones made just prior to and after this (see vv. 7b, 12-13).
33 tn Heb “but it accomplishes what I desire, and succeeds [on the mission] which I send it.”
sn Verses 8-11 focus on the reliability of the divine word and support the promises before (vv. 3-5, 7b) and after (vv. 12-13) this. Israel can be certain that repentance will bring forgiveness and a new covenantal relationship because God’s promises are reliable. In contrast to human plans (or “thoughts”), which are destined to fail (Ps 94:11) apart from divine approval (Prov 19:21), and human deeds (or “ways”), which are evil and lead to destruction (Prov 1:15-19; 3:31-33; 4:19), God’s plans are realized and his deeds accomplish something positive.
34 tn Heb “to the Lord for a name.” For שֵׁם (shem) used in the sense of “monument,” see also 56:5, where it stands parallel to יָד (yad).
35 tn Or, more literally, “a permanent sign that will not be cut off.”
36 tn Heb “guard”; KJV “Keep”; NAB “Observe”; NASB “Preserve”; NIV, NRSV “Maintain.”
37 tn Heb “for near is my deliverance to enter, and my vindication [or “righteousness”] to be revealed.”
38 tn Heb “blessed is the man who does this.”
39 tn Heb “the son of mankind who takes hold of it.”
40 tn Heb and who keeps his hand from doing any evil.”
41 tn Heb “who attaches himself to.”
42 tn The infinitive absolute precedes the finite verb for emphasis.
43 tn Heb “and take hold of” (so KJV); NASB “hold fast.”
44 tn Heb “a hand and a name.” For other examples where יָד (yad) refers to a monument, see HALOT 388 s.v.
45 tn Heb “name” (so KJV, NIV, NRSV).
46 tn Heb “who attach themselves to.”
47 tn Heb “and take hold of”; NAB “hold to”; NIV, NRSV “hold fast.”
48 tn Heb “in the house of my prayer.”
49 tn Heb “for my house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations.”
50 tn The meaning of the statement is unclear. The text reads literally, “Still I will gather upon him to his gathered ones.” Perhaps the preposition -לְ (lamed) before “gathered ones” introduces the object of the verb, as in Jer 49:5. The third masculine singular suffix on both עָלָיו (’alayv) and נִקְבָּצָיו (niqbatsayv) probably refers to “Israel.” In this case one can translate literally, “Still I will gather to him his gathered ones.”
51 sn The “watchmen” are probably spiritual leaders, most likely prophets and priests, responsible for giving the people moral direction.
52 tn Heb “they do not know”; KJV “they are all ignorant”; NIV “they all lack knowledge.”
53 tn The Hebrew text has הֹזִים (hozim), which appears to be derived from an otherwise unattested verbal root הָזָה (hazah). On the basis of alleged cognates, BDB 223 s.v. הָזָה offers the definition “dream, rave” while HALOT 243 s.v. הזה lists “pant.” In this case the dog metaphor of the preceding lines continues. The reference to dogs at the beginning of v. 11 favors the extension of the metaphor. The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa has חזים (“seers”) here. In this case the “watchmen” are directly identified as prophets and depicted as lazy.
54 sn The phrase never full alludes to the greed of the leaders.
55 tn Heb “for his gain from his end.”
56 tn The words “each one says” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
57 tn Heb “great, [in] abundance, very much,” i.e., “very great indeed.” See HALOT 452 s.v. יֶתֶר.
58 tn Or “righteous” (KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT); NAB “the just man”; TEV “Good people.”
59 tn Or perhaps, “understands.” Heb “and there is no man who sets [it] upon [his] heart.”
60 tn Heb “Men of loyalty are taken away.” The Niphal of אָסַף (’asaf) here means “to die.”
61 tn The Hebrew term בְּאֵין (bÿ’en) often has the nuance “when there is no.” See Prov 8:24; 11;14; 14:4; 15:22; 26:20; 29:18.
62 tn Or “realizes”; Heb “understands” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV).
63 tn Or “righteous” (KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT); NAB “the just man.”
64 tn Heb “are taken away.” The Niphal of אָסַף (’asaf) here means “to die.”
65 tn The term מִפְּנֵי (mippÿne, “from the face of”) often has a causal nuance. It also appears with the Niphal of אָסַף (’asaph, “gather”) in 2 Chr 12:5: אֲשֶׁר־נֶאֶסְפוּ אֶל־יְרוּשָׁלַם מִפְּנֵי שִׁישָׁק (’asher-ne’esphu ’el-yÿrushalam mippÿney shishaq, “who had gathered at Jerusalem because of [i.e., due to fear of] Shishak”).
66 tn The translation assumes that this verse, in proverbial fashion, laments society’s apathy over the persecution of the godly. The second half of the verse observes that such apathy results in more widespread oppression. Since the next verse pictures the godly being taken to a place of rest, some interpret the second half of v. 1 in a more positive vein. According to proponents of this view, God removes the godly so that they might be spared suffering and calamity, a fact which the general populace fails to realize.
67 tn Heb “he enters peace, they rest on their beds, the one who walks straight ahead of himself.” The tomb is here viewed in a fairly positive way as a place where the dead are at peace and sleep undisturbed.
68 tc The Hebrew text reads literally, “offspring of an adulterer [masculine] and [one who] has committed adultery.” Perhaps the text has suffered from transposition of vav (ו) and tav (ת) and מְנָאֵף וַתִּזְנֶה (mÿna’ef vattizneh) should be emended to מְנָאֶפֶת וְזֹנָה (mÿna’efet vÿzonah, “an adulteress and a prostitute”). Both singular nouns would be understood in a collective sense. Most modern English versions render both forms as nouns.
69 tn Heb “Are you not children of rebellion, offspring of a lie?” The rhetorical question anticipates the answer, “Of course you are!”
70 tn Heb “inflame yourselves”; NRSV “burn with lust.” This verse alludes to the practice of ritual sex that accompanied pagan fertility rites.
71 sn This apparently alludes to the practice of child sacrifice (cf. TEV, CEV, NLT).
72 tn Heb “among the smooth stones of the stream [is] your portion, they, they [are] your lot.” The next line indicates idols are in view.
73 tn The text reads literally, “Because of these am I relenting?” If the prefixed interrogative particle is retained at the beginning of the sentence, then the question would be rhetorical, with the Niphal of נָחָם (nakham) probably being used in the sense of “relent, change one’s mind.” One could translate: “Because of these things, how can I relent?” However, the initial letter he may be dittographic (note the final he [ה] on the preceding word). In this case one may understand the verb in the sense of “console oneself, seek vengeance,” as in 1:24.
74 tn The precise referent of זִכָּרוֹן (zikkaron) in this context is uncertain. Elsewhere the word refers to a memorial or commemorative sign. Here it likely refers to some type of idolatrous symbol.
75 tn Or “for” (KJV, NRSV).
76 tc The Hebrew text reads literally, “from me you uncover.” The translation assumes an emendation of the Piel form גִּלִּית (gillit, “you uncover”), which has no object expressed here, to the Qal גָּלִית (galit, “you depart”).
77 tn Heb “you make wide your bed” (NASB similar).
78 tc Heb “and you [second masculine singular, unless the form be taken as third feminine singular] cut for yourself [feminine singular] from them.” Most English translations retain the MT reading in spite of at least three problems. This section makes significant use of feminine verbs and noun suffixes because of the sexual imagery. The verb in question is likely a 2nd person masculine singular verb. Nevertheless, this kind of fluctuation in gender appears elsewhere (GKC 127-28 §47.k and 462 §144.p; cf. Jer 3:5; Ezek 22:4; 23:32; cf. J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah [NICOT], 2:473, n. 13). Secondly, when this verbal root signifies establishing a covenant, it is normally accompanied by the noun for “covenant” (בְּרִית, bÿrit). Finally, this juxtaposition of the verb “to cut” and “covenant” normally is followed by the preposition “with,” while here it is “from.” The translation above assumes an emendation of וַתִּכְרָת (vatikhrah, “and you cut”) to וְכָרִית (vÿkharit, “and you purchase”) from the root כָּרָה (kharah); see HALOT 497 s.v. II כרה.
79 tn The Hebrew text has simply חָזָה (khazah, “gaze”). The adverb “longingly” is interpretive (see the context, where sexual lust is depicted).
80 tn Heb “[at] a hand you gaze.” The term יָד (yad, “hand”) probably has the sense of “power, manhood” here, where it is used, as in Ugaritic, as a euphemism for the genitals. See HALOT 387 s.v. I יָד.
81 tn Heb “you journey with oil.”
82 tn Heb “the king.” Since the context refers to idolatry and child sacrifice (see v. 5), some emend מֶלֶך (melekh, “king”) to “Molech.” Perhaps Israel’s devotion to her idols is likened here to a subject taking tribute to a ruler.
83 tn Heb “and you multiply your perfumes.”
84 sn Israel’s devotion to her idols is inordinate, irrational, and self-destructive.
85 tn Heb “by the greatness [i.e., “length,” see BDB 914 s.v. רֹב 2] of your way you get tired.”
86 tn Heb “it is hopeless” (so NAB, NASB, NIV); NRSV “It is useless.”
87 tn Heb “the life of your hand you find.” The term חַיָּה (khayyah, “life”) is here used in the sense of “renewal” (see BDB 312 s.v.) while יָד (yad) is used of “strength.”
88 tn Heb “you do not grow weak.”
89 tn Heb “you do not place [it] on your heart.”
90 tn Heb “Is it not [because] I have been silent, and from long ago?”
91 sn God’s patience with sinful Israel has caused them to think that they can sin with impunity and suffer no consequences.
92 tn Heb “I, I will declare your righteousness and your deeds.”
93 tn The Hebrew text has קִבּוּצַיִךְ (qibbutsayikh, “your gatherings”), an otherwise unattested noun from the verbal root קָבַץ (qavats, “gather”). Perhaps this alludes to their religious assemblies and by metonymy to their rituals. Since idolatry is a prominent theme in the context, some understand this as a reference to a collection of idols. The second half of the verse also favors this view.
94 tn Heb “all of them a wind lifts up.”
95 tn Heb “a breath takes [them] away.”
96 tn Or “seeks refuge in me.” “Seeking refuge” is a metonymy for “being loyal to.”
97 tn Heb “possess, own.” The point seems to be that he will have free access to God’s presence, as if God’s temple mount were his personal possession.
98 tn Since God is speaking throughout this context, perhaps we should emend the text to “and I say.” However, divine speech is introduced in v. 15.
99 tn Heb “the one who dwells forever.” שֹׁכֵן עַד (shokhen ’ad) is sometimes translated “the one who lives forever,” and understood as a reference to God’s eternal existence. However, the immediately preceding and following descriptions (“high and exalted” and “holy”) emphasize his sovereign rule. In the next line, he declares, “I dwell in an exalted and holy [place],” which refers to the place from which he rules. Therefore it is more likely that שֹׁכֵן עַד (shokhen ’ad) means “I dwell [in my lofty palace] forever” and refers to God’s eternal kingship.
100 tn Heb “and also with the crushed and lowly of spirit.” This may refer to the repentant who have humbled themselves (see 66:2) or more generally to the exiles who have experienced discouragement and humiliation.
101 tn Heb “to restore the lowly of spirit and to restore the heart of the crushed.”
102 tn Or perhaps, “argue,” or “accuse” (so NAB, NIV, NRSV).
103 tn Heb “for a spirit from before me would be faint.”
104 tn Heb “and I struck him, hiding, and I was angry.” פָּנַיִם (panayim, “face”) is the implied object of “hiding.”
105 tn Heb “and he walked [as an] apostate in the way of his heart.”
106 tn Heb “his ways” (so KJV, NASB, NIV); TEV “how they acted.”
107 tn Heb “and I will restore consolation to him, to his mourners.”
108 tc The Hebrew text has literally, “one who creates fruit of lips.” Perhaps the pronoun אֲנִי (’ani) should be inserted after the participle; it may have been accidentally omitted by haplography: נוּב שְׂפָתָיִם[אֲנִי] בּוֹרֵא (bore’ [’ani] nuv sÿfatayim). “Fruit of the lips” is often understood as a metonymy for praise; perhaps it refers more generally to joyful shouts (see v. 18).
109 tn Heb “Peace, peace.” The repetition of the noun emphasizes degree.