51:3 Certainly the Lord will console Zion;
he will console all her ruins.
He will make her wilderness like Eden,
her desert like the Garden of the Lord.
Happiness and joy will be restored to 1 her,
thanksgiving and the sound of music.
51:4 Pay attention to me, my people!
Listen to me, my people!
I will make my justice a light to the nations. 4
I am ready to deliver, 6
I will establish justice among the nations. 7
The coastlands 8 wait patiently for me;
they wait in anticipation for the revelation of my power. 9
51:6 Look up at the sky!
Look at the earth below!
For the sky will dissipate 10 like smoke,
and the earth will wear out like clothes;
its residents will die like gnats.
But the deliverance I give 11 is permanent;
51:7 Listen to me, you who know what is right,
you people who are aware of my law! 14
Don’t be afraid of the insults of men;
don’t be discouraged because of their abuse!
51:8 For a moth will eat away at them like clothes;
a clothes moth will devour them like wool.
But the vindication I provide 15 will be permanent;
the deliverance I give will last.”
51:9 Wake up! Wake up!
Clothe yourself with strength, O arm of the Lord! 16
Wake up as in former times, as in antiquity!
51:10 Did you not dry up the sea,
the waters of the great deep?
Did you not make 21 a path through the depths of the sea,
so those delivered from bondage 22 could cross over?
51:11 Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return;
they will enter Zion with a happy shout.
Unending joy will crown them, 23
happiness and joy will overwhelm 24 them;
grief and suffering will disappear. 25
Why are you afraid of mortal men,
of mere human beings who are as short-lived as grass? 27
who stretched out the sky 29
and founded the earth?
Why do you constantly tremble all day long 30
at the anger of the oppressor,
when he makes plans to destroy?
Where is the anger of the oppressor? 31
he will not die in prison, 33
he will not go hungry. 34
51:15 I am the Lord your God,
who churns up the sea so that its waves surge.
The Lord who commands armies is his name!
I cover you with the palm of my hand, 37
to establish 38 the sky and to found the earth,
to say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’” 39
1 tn Heb “found in” (so NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).
2 tn Or “certainly.”
3 tn Heb “instruction [or “a law”] will go out from me.”
4 tn Heb “and my justice for a light to the nations I will cause to rest.”
5 tn Heb “my righteousness [or “vindication”] is near.”
6 tn Heb “my deliverance goes forth.”
7 tn Heb “and my arms will judge [on behalf of] nations.”
8 tn Or “islands” (NIV); TEV “Distant lands.”
9 tn Heb “for my arm” (so NIV, NRSV).
10 tn Heb “will be torn in pieces.” The perfect indicates the certitude of the event, from the Lord’s rhetorical perspective.
11 tn Heb “my deliverance.” The same Hebrew word can also be translated “salvation” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT); cf. CEV “victory.”
12 tn Heb “my righteousness [or “vindication”].”
13 tn Heb “will not be shattered [or “dismayed”].”
14 tn Heb “people (who have) my law in their heart.”
15 tn Heb “my vindication”; many English versions “my righteousness”; NRSV, TEV “my deliverance”; CEV “my victory.”
16 tn The arm of the Lord is a symbol of divine military power. Here it is personified and told to arouse itself from sleep and prepare for action.
17 tn Heb “Are you not the one who smashed?” The feminine singular forms agree grammatically with the feminine noun “arm.” The Hebrew text has ַהמַּחְצֶבֶת (hammakhtsevet), from the verbal root חָצַב (khatsav, “hew, chop”). The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa has, probably correctly, המחצת, from the verbal root מָחַץ (makhats, “smash”) which is used in Job 26:12 to describe God’s victory over “the Proud One.”
18 tn This title (רַהַב, rahav, “proud one”) is sometimes translated as a proper name: “Rahab” (cf. NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV). It is used here of a symbolic sea monster, known elsewhere in the Bible and in Ugaritic myth as Leviathan. This sea creature symbolizes the forces of chaos that seek to destroy the created order. In the Bible “the Proud One” opposes God’s creative work, but is defeated (see Job 26:12; Ps 89:10). Here the title refers to Pharaoh’s Egyptian army that opposed Israel at the Red Sea (see v. 10, and note also Isa 30:7 and Ps 87:4, where the title is used of Egypt).
20 tn Hebrew תַּנִּין (tannin) is another name for the symbolic sea monster. See the note at 27:1. In this context the sea creature represents Egypt. See the note on the title “Proud One” earlier in this verse.
21 tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “Are you not the one who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made…?”
22 tn Heb “the redeemed” (so ASV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); KJV “the ransomed.”
23 tn Heb “[will be] on their head[s].” “Joy” may be likened here to a crown (cf. 2 Sam 1:10). The statement may also be an ironic twist on the idiom “earth/dust on the head” (cf. 2 Sam 1:2; 13:19; 15:32; Job 2:12), referring to a mourning practice.
24 tn Heb “overtake” (so NIV); NASB “they will obtain.”
25 tn Heb “grief and groaning will flee.”
26 tc The plural suffix should probably be emended to the second masculine singular (which is used in v. 13). The final mem (ם) is probably dittographic; note the mem at the beginning of the next word.
27 tn Heb “Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, and of the son of man who [as] grass is given up?” The feminine singular forms should probably be emended to the masculine singular (see v. 13). They have probably been influenced by the construction אַתְּ־הִיא (’at-hi’) in vv. 9-10.
28 tn Heb “and that you forget.”
30 tn Heb “and that you tremble constantly all the day.”
32 tn Heb “who is stooped over” (under a burden).
33 tn Heb “the pit” (so KJV); ASV, NAB “die and go down into the pit”; NASB, NIV “dungeon”; NCV “prison.”
34 tn Heb “he will not lack his bread.”
35 tn The addressee (second masculine singular, as in vv. 13, 15) in this verse is unclear. The exiles are addressed in the immediately preceding verses (note the critical tone of vv. 12-13 and the reference to the exiles in v. 14). However, it seems unlikely that they are addressed in v. 16, for the addressee appears to be commissioned to tell Zion, who here represents the restored exiles, “you are my people.” The addressee is distinct from the exiles. The language of v. 16a is reminiscent of 49:2 and 50:4, where the Lord’s special servant says he is God’s spokesman and effective instrument. Perhaps the Lord, having spoken to the exiles in vv. 1-15, now responds to this servant, who spoke just prior to this in 50:4-11.
36 tn Heb “I place my words in your mouth.”
37 tn Heb “with the shadow of my hand.”
38 tc The Hebrew text has לִנְטֹעַ (lintoa’, “to plant”). Several scholars prefer to emend this form to לִנְטֹת (lintot) from נָטָה (natah, “to stretch out”); see v. 13, as well as 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; cf. NAB, NCV, NRSV. However, since the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa, LXX (and Aquila and Symmachus), and Vulgate support the MT reading, there is no need to emend the form. The interpretation is clear enough: Yahweh fixed the sky in its place.
39 tn The infinitives in v. 16b are most naturally understood as indicating the purpose of the divine actions described in v. 16a. The relationship of the third infinitive to the commission is clear enough – the Lord has made the addressee (his special servant?) his spokesman so that the latter might speak encouraging words to those in Zion. But how do the first two infinitives relate? The text seems to indicate that the Lord has commissioned the addressee so that the latter might create the universe! Perhaps creation imagery is employed metaphorically here to refer to the transformation that Jerusalem will experience (see 65:17-18).