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Isaiah 40:4-11

Context

40:4 Every valley must be elevated,

and every mountain and hill leveled.

The rough terrain will become a level plain,

the rugged landscape a wide valley.

40:5 The splendor 1  of the Lord will be revealed,

and all people 2  will see it at the same time.

For 3  the Lord has decreed it.” 4 

40:6 A voice says, “Cry out!”

Another asks, 5  “What should I cry out?”

The first voice responds: 6  “All people are like grass, 7 

and all their promises 8  are like the flowers in the field.

40:7 The grass dries up,

the flowers wither,

when the wind sent by the Lord 9  blows on them.

Surely humanity 10  is like grass.

40:8 The grass dries up,

the flowers wither,

but the decree of our God is forever reliable.” 11 

40:9 Go up on a high mountain, O herald Zion!

Shout out loudly, O herald Jerusalem! 12 

Shout, don’t be afraid!

Say to the towns of Judah,

“Here is your God!”

40:10 Look, the sovereign Lord comes as a victorious warrior; 13 

his military power establishes his rule. 14 

Look, his reward is with him;

his prize goes before him. 15 

40:11 Like a shepherd he tends his flock;

he gathers up the lambs with his arm;

he carries them close to his heart; 16 

he leads the ewes along.

1 tn Or “glory.” The Lord’s “glory” is his theophanic radiance and royal splendor (see Isa 6:3; 24:23; 35:2; 60:1; 66:18-19).

2 tn Heb “flesh” (so KJV, ASV, NASB); NAB, NIV “mankind”; TEV “the whole human race.”

3 tn Or “indeed.”

4 tn Heb “the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV).

5 tn Heb “and he says.” Apparently a second “voice” responds to the command of the first “voice.”

6 tn The words “the first voice responds” are supplied in the translation for clarification. The first voice tells the second one what to declare.

7 tn Heb “all flesh is grass.” The point of the metaphor is explained in v. 7.

8 tn Heb “and all his loyalty.” The antecedent of the third masculine suffix is בָּשָׂר (basar, “flesh”), which refers collectively to mankind. The LXX, apparently understanding the antecedent as “grass,” reads “glory,” but חֶסֶד (khesed) rarely, if ever, has this nuance. The normal meaning of חֶסֶד (“faithfulness, loyalty, devotion”) fits very well in the argument. Human beings and their faithfulness (verbal expressions of faithfulness are specifically in view; cf. NRSV “constancy”) are short-lived and unreliable, in stark contrast to the decrees and promises of the eternal God.

9 tn The Hebrew text has רוּחַ יְהוָה (ruakh yehvah), which in this context probably does not refer to the Lord’s personal Spirit. The phrase is better translated “the breath of the Lord,” or “the wind of [i.e., sent by] the Lord.” The Lord’s sovereign control over nature, including the hot desert winds that dry up vegetation, is in view here (cf. Ps 147:18; Isa 59:19).

10 tn Heb “the people” (so KJV, ASV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).

11 tn Heb “but the word of our God stands forever.” In this context the divine “word” specifically refers to his decreed promise assuring Jerusalem that her suffering is over and his glorious return imminent (vv. 1-5).

12 tn The second feminine singular imperatives are addressed to personified Zion/Jerusalem, who is here told to ascend a high hill and proclaim the good news of the Lord’s return to the other towns of Judah. Isa 41:27 and 52:7 speak of a herald sent to Zion, but the masculine singular form מְבַשֵּׂר (mÿvaser) is used in these verses, in contrast to the feminine singular form מְבַשֶּׂרֶת (mÿvaseret) employed in 40:9, where Zion is addressed as a herald.

13 tn Heb “comes as a strong one”; ASV “will come as a mighty one.” The preposition בְּ (bet) here carries the nuance “in the capacity of.” It indicates that the Lord possesses the quality expressed by the noun. See GKC 379 §119.i and HALOT 104 s.v. בְּ.

14 tn Heb “his arm rules for him” (so NIV, NRSV). The Lord’s “arm” symbolizes his military power (see Isa 51:9-10; 63:5).

15 tn As the Lord returns to Jerusalem as a victorious warrior, he brings with him the spoils of victory, called here his “reward” and “prize.” These terms might also be translated “wages” and “recompense.” Verse 11 indicates that his rescued people, likened to a flock of sheep, are his reward.

16 tn Heb “in his bosom” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV), an expression which reflects closeness and protective care.



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