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Isaiah 41:1-7

The Lord Challenges the Nations

41:1 “Listen to me in silence, you coastlands! 1 

Let the nations find renewed strength!

Let them approach and then speak;

let us come together for debate! 2 

41:2 Who stirs up this one from the east? 3 

Who 4  officially commissions him for service? 5 

He hands nations over to him, 6 

and enables him to subdue 7  kings.

He makes them like dust with his sword,

like windblown straw with his bow. 8 

41:3 He pursues them and passes by unharmed; 9 

he advances with great speed. 10 

41:4 Who acts and carries out decrees? 11 

Who 12  summons the successive generations from the beginning?

I, the Lord, am present at the very beginning,

and at the very end – I am the one. 13 

41:5 The coastlands 14  see and are afraid;

the whole earth 15  trembles;

they approach and come.

41:6 They help one another; 16 

one says to the other, ‘Be strong!’

41:7 The craftsman encourages the metalsmith,

the one who wields the hammer encourages 17  the one who pounds on the anvil.

He approves the quality of the welding, 18 

and nails it down so it won’t fall over.”

1 tn Or “islands” (KJV, NIV, CEV); TEV “distant lands”; NLT “lands beyond the sea.”

2 tn The Hebrew term מִשְׁפָּט (mishpat) could be translated “judgment,” but here it seems to refer to the dispute or debate between the Lord and the nations.

3 sn The expression this one from the east refers to the Persian conqueror Cyrus, as later texts indicate (see 44:28-45:6; 46:11; 48:14-16).

4 tn The interrogative particle is understood by ellipsis.

5 tn Heb “[in] righteousness called him to his foot.”

6 tn Heb “he [the Lord] places before him [Cyrus] nations.”

7 tn The verb יַרְדְּ (yardÿ) is an otherwise unattested Hiphil form from רָדָה (radah, “rule”). But the Hiphil makes no sense with “kings” as object; one must understand an ellipsis and supply “him” (Cyrus) as the object. The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa has יוֹרִד (yorid), which appears to be a Hiphil form from יָרַד (yarad, “go down”). Others suggest reading יָרֹד (yarod), a Qal form from רָדַד (radad, “beat down”).

8 sn The point is that they are powerless before Cyrus’ military power and scatter before him.

9 tn Heb “[in] peace”; KJV, ASV “safely”; NASB “in safety”; NIV “unscathed.”

10 tn Heb “a way with his feet he does not come [or “enter”].” One could translate, “by a way he was not [previously] entering with his feet.” This would mean that he is advancing into new territory and expanding his conquests. The present translation assumes this is a hyperbolic description to his speedy advance. He moves so quickly he does not enter the way with his feet, i.e., his feet don’t even touch the ground. See C. R. North, Second Isaiah, 94.

11 tn Heb “Who acts and accomplishes?”; NASB “Who has performed and accomplished it.”

12 tn The interrogative particle is understood by ellipsis (note the preceding line).

13 tn Heb “I, the Lord, [am with] the first, and with the last ones I [am] he.”

14 tn Or “islands” (NIV, CEV); NCV “faraway places”; NLT “lands beyond the sea.”

15 tn Heb “the ends of the earth,” but this is a merism, where the earth’s extremities stand for its entirety, i.e., the extremities and everything in between them.

16 tn Heb “each his neighbor helps”; NCV “The workers help each other.”

17 tn The verb “encourages” is understood by ellipsis (note the preceding line).

18 tn Heb “saying of the welding, ‘It is good.’”

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