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Isaiah 50:1-3

Context

50:1 This is what the Lord says:

“Where is your mother’s divorce certificate

by which I divorced her?

Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? 1 

Look, you were sold because of your sins; 2 

because of your rebellious acts I divorced your mother. 3 

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

Why does no one respond when I call? 4 

Is my hand too weak 5  to deliver 6  you?

Do I lack the power to rescue you?

Look, with a mere shout 7  I can dry up the sea;

I can turn streams into a desert,

so the fish rot away and die

from lack of water. 8 

50:3 I can clothe the sky in darkness;

I can cover it with sackcloth.”

1 sn The Lord challenges the exiles (Zion’s children) to bring incriminating evidence against him. The rhetorical questions imply that Israel accused the Lord of divorcing his wife (Zion) and selling his children (the Israelites) into slavery to pay off a debt.

2 sn The Lord admits that he did sell the Israelites, but it was because of their sins, not because of some debt he owed. If he had sold them to a creditor, they ought to be able to point him out, but the preceding rhetorical question implies they would not be able to do so.

3 sn The Lord admits he did divorce Zion, but that too was the result of the nation’s sins. The force of the earlier rhetorical question comes into clearer focus now. The question does not imply that a certificate does not exist and that no divorce occurred. Rather, the question asks for the certificate to be produced so the accuser can see the reason for the divorce in black and white. The Lord did not put Zion away arbitrarily.

4 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.

5 tn Heb “short” (so NAB, NASB, NIV).

6 tn Or “ransom” (NAB, NASB, NIV).

7 tn Heb “with my rebuke.”

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



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