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Isaiah 49:14--50:3

The Lord Remembers Zion

49:14 “Zion said, ‘The Lord has abandoned me,

the sovereign master 1  has forgotten me.’

49:15 Can a woman forget her baby who nurses at her breast? 2 

Can she withhold compassion from the child she has borne? 3 

Even if mothers 4  were to forget,

I could never forget you! 5 

49:16 Look, I have inscribed your name 6  on my palms;

your walls are constantly before me.

49:17 Your children hurry back,

while those who destroyed and devastated you depart.

49:18 Look all around you! 7 

All of them gather to you.

As surely as I live,” says the Lord,

“you will certainly wear all of them like jewelry;

you will put them on as if you were a bride.

49:19 Yes, your land lies in ruins;

it is desolate and devastated. 8 

But now you will be too small to hold your residents,

and those who devoured you will be far away.

49:20 Yet the children born during your time of bereavement

will say within your hearing,

‘This place is too cramped for us, 9 

make room for us so we can live here.’ 10 

49:21 Then you will think to yourself, 11 

‘Who bore these children for me?

I was bereaved and barren,

dismissed and divorced. 12 

Who raised these children?

Look, I was left all alone;

where did these children come from?’”

49:22 This is what the sovereign Lord says:

“Look I will raise my hand to the nations;

I will raise my signal flag to the peoples.

They will bring your sons in their arms

and carry your daughters on their shoulders.

49:23 Kings will be your children’s 13  guardians;

their princesses will nurse your children. 14 

With their faces to the ground they will bow down to you

and they will lick the dirt on 15  your feet.

Then you will recognize that I am the Lord;

those who wait patiently for me are not put to shame.

49:24 Can spoils be taken from a warrior,

or captives be rescued from a conqueror? 16 

49:25 Indeed,” says the Lord,

“captives will be taken from a warrior;

spoils will be rescued from a conqueror.

I will oppose your adversary

and I will rescue your children.

49:26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh;

they will get drunk on their own blood, as if it were wine. 17 

Then all humankind 18  will recognize that

I am the Lord, your deliverer,

your protector, 19  the powerful ruler of Jacob.” 20 

50:1 This is what the Lord says:

“Where is your mother’s divorce certificate

by which I divorced her?

Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? 21 

Look, you were sold because of your sins; 22 

because of your rebellious acts I divorced your mother. 23 

50:2 Why does no one challenge me when I come?

Why does no one respond when I call? 24 

Is my hand too weak 25  to deliver 26  you?

Do I lack the power to rescue you?

Look, with a mere shout 27  I can dry up the sea;

I can turn streams into a desert,

so the fish rot away and die

from lack of water. 28 

50:3 I can clothe the sky in darkness;

I can cover it with sackcloth.”

1 tn The Hebrew term translated “sovereign master” here is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay).

2 tn Heb “her suckling”; NASB “her nursing child.”

3 tn Heb “so as not to have compassion on the son of her womb?”

4 tn Heb “these” (so ASV, NASB).

5 sn The argument of v. 15 seems to develop as follows: The Lord has an innate attachment to Zion, just like a mother does for her infant child. But even if mothers were to suddenly abandon their children, the Lord would never forsake Zion. In other words, the Lord’s attachment to Zion is like a mother’s attachment to her infant child, but even stronger.

6 tn Heb “you.” Here the pronoun is put by metonymy for the person’s name.

7 tn Heb “Lift up around your eyes and see.”

8 tn Heb “Indeed your ruins and your desolate places, and the land of your destruction.” This statement is abruptly terminated in the Hebrew text and left incomplete.

9 tn Heb “me.” The singular is collective.

10 tn Heb “draw near to me so I can dwell.”

11 tn Heb “and you will say in your heart.”

12 tn Or “exiled and thrust away”; NIV “exiled and rejected.”

13 tn Heb “your,” but Zion here stands by metonymy for her children (see v. 22b).

14 tn Heb “you.” See the preceding note.

15 tn Or “at your feet” (NAB, NIV); NLT “from your feet.”

16 tc The Hebrew text has צָדִיק (tsadiq, “a righteous [one]”), but this makes no sense in the parallelism. The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa reads correctly עריץ (“violent [one], tyrant”; see v. 25).

17 sn Verse 26a depicts siege warfare and bloody defeat. The besieged enemy will be so starved they will their own flesh. The bloodstained bodies lying on the blood-soaked battle site will look as if they collapsed in drunkenness.

18 tn Heb “flesh” (so KJV, NASB).

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

20 tn Heb “the powerful [one] of Jacob.” See 1:24.

21 sn The Lord challenges the exiles (Zion’s children) to bring incriminating evidence against him. The rhetorical questions imply that Israel accused the Lord of divorcing his wife (Zion) and selling his children (the Israelites) into slavery to pay off a debt.

22 sn The Lord admits that he did sell the Israelites, but it was because of their sins, not because of some debt he owed. If he had sold them to a creditor, they ought to be able to point him out, but the preceding rhetorical question implies they would not be able to do so.

23 sn The Lord admits he did divorce Zion, but that too was the result of the nation’s sins. The force of the earlier rhetorical question comes into clearer focus now. The question does not imply that a certificate does not exist and that no divorce occurred. Rather, the question asks for the certificate to be produced so the accuser can see the reason for the divorce in black and white. The Lord did not put Zion away arbitrarily.

24 sn The present tense translation of the verbs assumes that the Lord is questioning why Israel does not attempt to counter his arguments. Another possibility is to take the verbs as referring to past events: “Why did no one meet me when I came? Why did no one answer when I called?” In this case the Lord might be asking why Israel rejected his calls to repent and his offer to deliver them.

25 tn Heb “short” (so NAB, NASB, NIV).

26 tn Or “ransom” (NAB, NASB, NIV).

27 tn Heb “with my rebuke.”

28 tn Heb “the fish stink from lack of water and die from thirst.”

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