42:3 A crushed reed he will not break,
a dim wick he will not extinguish; 1
he will faithfully make just decrees. 2
before establishing justice on the earth;
the one who created the sky and stretched it out,
the one who fashioned the earth and everything that lives on it, 7
the one who gives breath to the people on it,
and life to those who live on it: 8
I take hold of your hand.
to release prisoners 15 from dungeons,
those who live in darkness from prisons.
1 sn The “crushed reed” and “dim wick” symbolize the weak and oppressed who are on the verge of extinction.
2 tn Heb “faithfully he will bring out justice” (cf. NASB, NRSV).
4 tn Or “islands” (NIV); NLT “distant lands beyond the sea.”
5 tn Or “his law” (KJV, ASV, NASB, NIV) or “his instruction” (NLT).
6 tn Heb “the God.” The definite article here indicates distinctiveness or uniqueness.
7 tn Heb “and its offspring” (so NASB); NIV “all that comes out of it.”
8 tn Heb “and spirit [i.e., “breath”] to the ones walking in it” (NAB, NASB, and NRSV all similar).
10 tn The translation assumes the verb is derived from the root נָצַר (natsar, “protect”). Some prefer to derive it from the root יָצַר (yatsar, “form”).
11 tn Heb “a covenant of people.” A person cannot literally be a covenant; בְּרִית (bÿrit) is probably metonymic here, indicating a covenant mediator. The precise identity of עָם (’am, “people”) is uncertain. In v. 5 עָם refers to mankind, and the following reference to “nations” also favors this. But in 49:8, where the phrase בְּרִית עָם occurs again, Israel seems to be in view.
13 tn Or “the Gentiles” (so KJV, ASV, NIV); the same Hebrew word can be translated “nations” or “Gentiles” depending on the context.
14 sn This does not refer to literal physical healing of the blind. As the next two lines suggest, this refers metonymically to freeing captives from their dark prisons where their eyes have grown unaccustomed to light.
15 sn This does not refer to hardened, dangerous criminals, who would have been executed for their crimes in ancient Near Eastern society. This verse refers to political prisoners or victims of social injustice.