I kept quiet and held back.
Like a woman in labor I groan;
I pant and gasp. 2
I will dry up all their vegetation.
I will turn streams into islands, 4
and dry up pools of water. 5
I will guide them down paths they have never traveled. 7
I will turn the darkness in front of them into light,
and level out the rough ground. 8
This is what I will do for them.
I will not abandon them.
43:16 This is what the Lord says,
the one who made a road through the sea,
a pathway through the surging waters,
together with a mighty army.
They fell down, 10 never to rise again;
they were extinguished, put out like a burning wick:
don’t recall these former events.
43:19 “Look, I am about to do something new.
Yes, I will make a road in the desert
and paths 14 in the wilderness.
43:20 The wild animals of the desert honor me,
the jackals and ostriches,
because I put water in the desert
and streams in the wilderness,
to quench the thirst of my chosen people,
43:21 the people whom I formed for myself,
so they might praise me.” 15
1 tn Heb “silent” (so NASB, NIV, TEV, NLT); CEV “have held my temper.”
2 sn The imagery depicts the Lord as a warrior who is eager to fight and can no longer hold himself back from the attack.
3 tn Heb “I will dry up the mountains and hills.” The “mountains and hills” stand by synecdoche for the trees that grow on them. Some prefer to derive the verb from a homonymic root and translate, “I will lay waste.”
4 tc The Hebrew text reads, “I will turn streams into coastlands [or “islands”].” Scholars who believe that this reading makes little sense have proposed an emendation of אִיִּים (’iyyim, “islands”) to צִיּוֹת (tsiyyot, “dry places”; cf. NCV, NLT, TEV). However, since all the versions support the MT reading, there is insufficient grounds for an emendation here. Although the imagery of changing rivers into islands is somewhat strange, J. N. Oswalt describes this imagery against the backdrop of rivers of the Near East. The receding of these rivers at times occasioned the appearance of previously submerged islands (Isaiah [NICOT], 2:126).
5 sn The imagery of this verse, which depicts the Lord bringing a curse of infertility to the earth, metaphorically describes how the Lord will destroy his enemies.
6 tn Heb “a way they do not know” (so NASB); NRSV “a road they do not know.”
7 tn Heb “in paths they do not know I will make them walk.”
8 tn Heb “and the rough ground into a level place.”
9 tn Heb “led out chariots and horses.” The words “to destruction” are supplied in the translation for clarification. The verse refers to the destruction of the Egyptians at the Red Sea.
10 tn Heb “lay down”; NAB “lie prostrate together”; CEV “lie dead”; NRSV “they lie down.”
11 tn Heb “the former things” (so KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); NLT “forget all that.”
12 tn Heb “sprouts up”; NASB “will spring forth.”
13 tn Or “know” (KJV, ASV); NASB “be aware of”; NAB, NIV, NRSV “perceive.”
15 tn Heb “[so] they might declare my praise.”