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Isaiah 49:6-12

Context

49:6 he says, “Is it too insignificant a task for you to be my servant,

to reestablish the tribes of Jacob,

and restore the remnant 1  of Israel? 2 

I will make you a light to the nations, 3 

so you can bring 4  my deliverance to the remote regions of the earth.”

49:7 This is what the Lord,

the protector 5  of Israel, their Holy One, 6  says

to the one who is despised 7  and rejected 8  by nations, 9 

a servant of rulers:

“Kings will see and rise in respect, 10 

princes will bow down,

because of the faithful Lord,

the Holy One of Israel who has chosen you.”

49:8 This is what the Lord says:

“At the time I decide to show my favor, I will respond to you;

in the day of deliverance I will help you;

I will protect you 11  and make you a covenant mediator for people, 12 

to rebuild 13  the land 14 

and to reassign the desolate property.

49:9 You will say 15  to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’

and to those who are in dark dungeons, 16  ‘Emerge.’ 17 

They will graze beside the roads;

on all the slopes they will find pasture.

49:10 They will not be hungry or thirsty;

the sun’s oppressive heat will not beat down on them, 18 

for one who has compassion on them will guide them;

he will lead them to springs of water.

49:11 I will make all my mountains into a road;

I will construct my roadways.”

49:12 Look, they come from far away!

Look, some come from the north and west,

and others from the land of Sinim! 19 

1 tn Heb “the protected [or “preserved”] ones.”

2 sn The question is purely rhetorical; it does not imply that the servant was dissatisfied with his commission or that he minimized the restoration of Israel.

3 tn See the note at 42:6.

4 tn Heb “be” (so KJV, ASV); CEV “you must take.”

5 tn Heb “redeemer.” See the note at 41:14.

6 sn See the note on the phrase “the Holy One of Israel” in 1:4.

7 tc The Hebrew text reads literally “to [one who] despises life.” It is preferable to read with the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa לבזוי, which should be vocalized as a passive participle, לִבְזוּי (livzuy, “to the one despised with respect to life” [נֶפֶשׁ is a genitive of specification]). The consonantal sequence וי was probably misread as ה in the MT tradition. The contextual argument favors the 1QIsaa reading. As J. N. Oswalt (Isaiah [NICOT], 2:294) points out, the three terse phrases “convey a picture of lowliness, worthlessness, and helplessness.”

8 tn MT’s Piel participle (“to the one who rejects”) does not fit contextually. The form should be revocalized as a Pual, “to the one rejected.”

9 tn Parallelism (see “rulers,” “kings,” “princes”) suggests that the singular גּוֹי (goy) be emended to a plural or understood in a collective sense (see 55:5).

10 tn For this sense of קוּם (qum), see Gen 19:1; 23:7; 33:10; Lev 19:32; 1 Sam 20:41; 25:41; 1 Kgs 2:19; Job 29:8.

11 tn The translation assumes the verb is derived from the root נָצָר (natsar, “protect”). Some prefer to derive it from the root יָצָר (yatsar, “form”).

12 tn Heb “a covenant of people.” A person cannot literally be a covenant; בְּרִית (bÿrit) is probably metonymic here, indicating a covenant mediator. Here עָם (’am, “people”) appears to refer to Israel. See the note at 42:6.

13 tn The Hiphil of קוּם (qum, “arise”) is probably used here in the sense of “rebuild.”

14 tn The “land” probably stands by metonymy for the ruins within it.

15 tn Heb “to say.” In the Hebrew text the infinitive construct is subordinated to what precedes.

16 tn Heb “in darkness” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV); NLT “the prisoners of darkness.”

17 tn Heb “show yourselves” (so ASV, NAB, NASB).

18 tn Heb “and the heat and the sun will not strike them.” In Isa 35:7, its only other occurrence in the OT, שָׁרָב (sharav) stands parallel to “parched ground” and in contrast to “pool.” In later Hebrew and Aramaic it refers to “dry heat, heat of the sun” (Jastrow 1627 s.v.). Here it likely has this nuance and forms a hendiadys with “sun.”

19 tc The MT reads “Sinim” here; the Dead Sea Scrolls read “Syene,” a location in Egypt associated with modern Aswan. A number of recent translations adopt this reading: “Syene” (NAB, NRSV); “Aswan” (NIV); “Egypt” (NLT).

sn The precise location of the land of Sinim is uncertain, but since the north and west are mentioned in the previous line, it was a probably located in the distant east or south.



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