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Isaiah 42:6

Context

42:6 “I, the Lord, officially commission you; 1 

I take hold of your hand.

I protect you 2  and make you a covenant mediator for people, 3 

and a light 4  to the nations, 5 

Isaiah 42:19

Context

42:19 My servant is truly blind,

my messenger is truly deaf.

My covenant partner, 6  the servant of the Lord, is truly blind. 7 

1 tn Heb “call you in righteousness.” The pronoun “you” is masculine singular, referring to the servant. See the note at 41:2.

2 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”).

3 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.

4 sn Light here symbolizes deliverance from bondage and oppression; note the parallelism in 49:6b and in 51:4-6.

5 tn Or “the Gentiles” (so KJV, ASV, NIV); the same Hebrew word can be translated “nations” or “Gentiles” depending on the context.

6 tc The precise meaning of מְשֻׁלָּם (mÿshullam) in this context is uncertain. In later biblical Hebrew the form (which appears to be a Pual participle from the root שָׁלַם, shalam) occurs as a proper name, Meshullam. The Pual of שָׁלַם (“be complete”) is attested with the meaning “repaid, requited,” but that makes little sense here. BDB 1023 s.v. שָׁלַם relates the form to the denominative verb שָׁלַם (“be at peace”) and paraphrases “one in a covenant of peace” (J. N. Oswalt suggests “the covenanted one”; Isaiah [NICOT], 2:128, n. 59) Some emend the form to מֹשְׁלָם (moshÿlam, “their ruler”) or to מְשֻׁלָּחִי (mÿshullakhi, “my sent [or “commissioned”] one”), which fits nicely in the parallelism (note “my messenger” in the previous line). The translation above assumes an emendation to כְּמוֹ שֹׁלְמִי (kÿmo sholÿmi, “like my ally”). Isaiah uses כְּמוֹ in 30:22 and perhaps 51:5; for שֹׁלְמי (“my ally”) see Ps 7:5 HT (7:4 ET).

7 tn Heb “Who is blind but my servant, and deaf like my messenger I send? Who is blind like my commissioned one, blind like the servant of the Lord?” The point of the rhetorical questions is that no one is as blind/deaf as this servant. In this context the Lord’s “servant” is exiled Israel (cf. 41:8-9), which is spiritually blind and deaf and has failed to fulfill God’s purpose for it. This servant stands in contrast to the ideal “Israel” of the servant songs.



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