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Isaiah 48:1-22

The Lord Appeals to the Exiles

48:1 Listen to this, O family of Jacob, 1 

you who are called by the name ‘Israel,’

and are descended from Judah, 2 

who take oaths in the name of the Lord,

and invoke 3  the God of Israel –

but not in an honest and just manner. 4 

48:2 Indeed, they live in the holy city; 5 

they trust in 6  the God of Israel,

whose name is the Lord who commands armies.

48:3 “I announced events beforehand, 7 

I issued the decrees and made the predictions; 8 

suddenly I acted and they came to pass.

48:4 I did this 9  because I know how stubborn you are.

Your neck muscles are like iron

and your forehead like bronze. 10 

48:5 I announced them to you beforehand;

before they happened, I predicted them for you,

so you could never say,

‘My image did these things,

my idol, my cast image, decreed them.’

48:6 You have heard; now look at all the evidence! 11 

Will you not admit that what I say is true? 12 

From this point on I am announcing to you new events

that are previously unrevealed and you do not know about. 13 

48:7 Now they come into being, 14  not in the past;

before today you did not hear about them,

so you could not say,

‘Yes, 15  I know about them.’

48:8 You did not hear,

you do not know,

you were not told beforehand. 16 

For I know that you are very deceitful; 17 

you were labeled 18  a rebel from birth.

48:9 For the sake of my reputation 19  I hold back my anger;

for the sake of my prestige 20  I restrain myself from destroying you. 21 

48:10 Look, I have refined you, but not as silver;

I have purified you 22  in the furnace of misery.

48:11 For my sake alone 23  I will act,

for how can I allow my name to be defiled? 24 

I will not share my glory with anyone else! 25 

48:12 Listen to me, O Jacob,

Israel, whom I summoned!

I am the one;

I am present at the very beginning

and at the very end. 26 

48:13 Yes, my hand founded the earth;

my right hand spread out the sky.

I summon them;

they stand together.

48:14 All of you, gather together and listen!

Who among them 27  announced these things?

The Lord’s ally 28  will carry out his desire against Babylon;

he will exert his power against the Babylonians. 29 

48:15 I, I have spoken –

yes, I have summoned him;

I lead him and he will succeed. 30 

48:16 Approach me! Listen to this!

From the very first I have not spoken in secret;

when it happens, 31  I am there.”

So now, the sovereign Lord has sent me, accompanied by his spirit. 32 

48:17 This is what the Lord, your protector, 33  says,

the Holy One of Israel: 34 

“I am the Lord your God,

who teaches you how to succeed,

who leads you in the way you should go.

48:18 If only you had obeyed my 35  commandments,

prosperity would have flowed to you like a river, 36 

deliverance would have come to you like the waves of the sea. 37 

48:19 Your descendants would have been as numerous as sand, 38 

and your children 39  like its granules.

Their name would not have been cut off

and eliminated from my presence. 40 

48:20 Leave Babylon!

Flee from the Babylonians!

Announce it with a shout of joy!

Make this known!

Proclaim it throughout the earth! 41 

Say, ‘The Lord protects 42  his servant Jacob.

48:21 They do not thirst as he leads them through dry regions;

he makes water flow out of a rock for them;

he splits open a rock and water flows out.’ 43 

48:22 There will be no prosperity for the wicked,” says the Lord.

1 tn Heb “house of Jacob”; TEV, CEV “people of Israel.”

2 tc The Hebrew text reads literally “and from the waters of Judah came out.” מִמֵּי (mimme) could be a corruption of מִמְּעֵי (mimmÿe, “from the inner parts of”; cf. NASB, NIV, NLT, NRSV) as suggested in the above translation. Some translations (ESV, NKJV) retain the MT reading because the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa, which corrects a similar form to “from inner parts of” in 39:7, does not do it here.

3 tn Heb “cause to remember”; KJV, ASV “make mention of.”

4 tn Heb “not in truth and not in righteousness.”

5 tn Heb “they call themselves [or “are called”] from the holy city.” The precise meaning of the statement is uncertain. The Niphal of קָרָא (qara’) is combined with the preposition מִן (min) only here. When the Qal of קָרָא is used with מִן, the preposition often indicates the place from which one is summoned (see 46:11). So one could translate, “from the holy city they are summoned,” meaning that they reside there.

6 tn Heb “lean on” (so NASB, NRSV); NAB, NIV “rely on.”

7 tn Heb “the former things beforehand I declared.”

8 tn Heb “and from my mouth they came forth and I caused them to be heard.”

9 tn The words “I did this” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. In the Hebrew text v. 4 is subordinated to v. 3.

10 sn The image is that of a person who has tensed the muscles of the face and neck as a sign of resolute refusal.

11 tn Heb “gaze [at] all of it”; KJV “see all this.”

12 tn Heb “[as for] you, will you not declare?”

13 tn Heb “and hidden things, and you do not know them.”

14 tn Heb “are created” (so KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); NLT “They are brand new.”

15 tn Heb “look”; KJV, NASB “Behold.”

16 tn Heb “beforehand your ear did not open.”

17 tn Heb “deceiving, you deceive.” The infinitive absolute precedes the finite verb for emphasis.

18 tn Or “called” (KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).

19 tn Heb “for the sake of my name” (so NAB, NASB); NLT “for my own sake.”

20 tn Heb “and my praise.” לְמַעַן (lÿmaan, “for the sake of”) is understood by ellipsis (note the preceding line).

21 tn Heb “I restrain [myself] concerning you not to cut you off.”

22 tc The Hebrew text has בְּחַרְתִּיךָ (bÿkhartikha, “I have chosen you”), but the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa reads correctly בחנתיכה (“I have tested you”). The metallurgical background of the imagery suggests that purification through testing is the idea.

23 tn The Hebrew text repeats לְמַעֲנִי (lÿmaani, “for my sake”) for emphasis.

24 tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “for how can it be defiled?” The subject of the verb is probably “name” (v. 9).

25 sn See 42:8.

26 tn Heb “I [am] he, I [am the] first, also I [am the] last.”

27 sn This probably refers to the idol gods (see v. 5).

28 tn Or “friend,” or “covenant partner.”

sn The Lord’s ally is a reference to Cyrus.

29 tn Heb “and his arm [against] the Babylonians.”

30 tn Heb “and his way will be prosperous.”

31 tn Heb “from the time of its occurring.”

32 sn The speaker here is not identified specifically, but he is probably Cyrus, the Lord’s “ally” mentioned in vv. 14-15.

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

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

35 tn Heb “paid attention to” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV); TEV “had listened to.”

36 tn Heb “like a river your peace would have been.” שָׁלוֹם (shalom) probably refers here to the peace and prosperity which God promised in return for obedience to the covenant.

37 tn Heb “and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” צְדָקָה (tsÿdaqah) probably refers here to divine deliverance from enemies. See v. 19.

38 tn Heb “like sand”; NCV “as many as the grains of sand.”

39 tn Heb “and the issue from your inner parts.”

40 tn Heb “and his name would not be cut off and would not be destroyed from before me.”

41 tn Heb “to the end of the earth” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV).

42 tn Heb “redeems.” See the note at 41:14.

43 sn The translation above (present tense) assumes that this verse describes God’s provision for returning Babylonian exiles (see v. 20; 35:6; 49:10) in terms reminiscent of the Exodus from Egypt (see Exod 17:6).

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