A A A A A
Bible Book List

Isaiah 40-55 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

II. Isaiah 40—55[a]

A. The Lord’s Glory in Israel’s Liberation

Chapter 40

Promise of Salvation

[b]Comfort, give comfort to my people,
    says your God.
Speak to the heart of Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
    that her service[c] has ended,
    that her guilt is expiated,
That she has received from the hand of the Lord
    double for all her sins.

    A voice proclaims:[d]
In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord!
    Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
The rugged land shall be a plain,
    the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all flesh shall see it together;
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

A voice says, “Proclaim!”
    I answer, “What shall I proclaim?”
“All flesh is grass,
    and all their loyalty like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower wilts,
    when the breath of the Lord blows upon it.”
“Yes, the people is grass!
    The grass withers, the flower wilts,
    but the word of our God stands forever.”

Go up onto a high mountain,
    Zion, herald of good news![e]
Cry out at the top of your voice,
    Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Cry out, do not fear!
    Say to the cities of Judah:
    Here is your God!
10 Here comes with power
    the Lord God,
    who rules by his strong arm;
Here is his reward with him,
    his recompense before him.
11 Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
    in his arms he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his bosom,
    leading the ewes with care.

Power of God and the Vanity of Idols

12 Who has measured with his palm the waters,
    marked off the heavens with a span,
    held in his fingers the dust of the earth,
    weighed the mountains in scales
    and the hills in a balance?[f]
13 Who has directed the spirit of the Lord,
    or instructed him as his counselor?
14 Whom did he consult to gain knowledge?
    Who taught him the path of judgment,
    or showed him the way of understanding?

15 See, the nations count as a drop in the bucket,
    as a wisp of cloud on the scales;
    the coastlands weigh no more than a speck.[g]
16 Lebanon would not suffice for fuel,[h]
    nor its animals be enough for burnt offerings.
17 Before him all the nations are as nought,
    as nothing and void he counts them.

18 To whom can you liken God?
    With what likeness can you confront him?
19 An idol? An artisan casts it,
    the smith plates it with gold,
    fits it with silver chains.[i]
20 Is mulberry wood the offering?
    A skilled artisan picks out
    a wood that will not rot,
    Seeks to set up for himself
    an idol that will not totter.

21 Do you not know? Have you not heard?
    Was it not told you from the beginning?
    Have you not understood from the founding of the earth?
22 The one who is enthroned above the vault of the earth,
    its inhabitants like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a veil
    and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in,
23 Who brings princes to nought
    and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.
24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
    scarcely their stem rooted in the earth,
When he breathes upon them and they wither,
    and the stormwind carries them away like straw.

25 To whom can you liken me as an equal?
    says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high
    and see who created[j] these:
He leads out their army and numbers them,
    calling them all by name.
By his great might and the strength of his power
    not one of them is missing!
27 Why, O Jacob, do you say,[k]
    and declare, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
    and my right is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is God from of old,
    creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary,
    and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    abundant strength to the weak.
30 Though young men faint and grow weary,
    and youths stagger and fall,
31 They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength,
    they will soar on eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
    walk and not grow faint.

Chapter 41

The Liberator of Israel

Keep silence before me, O coastlands;[l]
    let the nations renew their strength.
Let them draw near and speak;
    let us come together for judgment.
Who has stirred up from the East the champion of justice,
    and summoned him to be his attendant?
To him he delivers nations
    and subdues kings;
With his sword he reduces them to dust,
    with his bow, to driven straw.
He pursues them, passing on without loss,
    by a path his feet scarcely touch.
Who has performed these deeds?
    Who has called forth the generations from the beginning?
I, the Lord, am the first,
    and at the last[m] I am he.
The coastlands see, and fear;
    the ends of the earth tremble:
    they approach, they come on.

Each one helps his neighbor,
    one says to the other, “Courage!”
The woodworker encourages the goldsmith,
    the one who beats with the hammer, him who strikes on the anvil,
Saying of the soldering, “It is good!”
    then fastening it with nails so it will not totter.

But you, Israel, my servant,
    Jacob, whom I have chosen,
    offspring of Abraham my friend—
You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth
    and summoned from its far-off places,
To whom I have said, You are my servant;
    I chose you, I have not rejected you—
10 Do not fear: I am with you;
    do not be anxious: I am your God.
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

11 Yes, all shall be put to shame and disgrace
    who vent their anger against you;
Those shall be as nothing and perish
    who offer resistance.
12 You shall seek but not find
    those who strive against you;
They shall be as nothing at all
    who do battle with you.

13 For I am the Lord, your God,
    who grasp your right hand;
It is I who say to you, Do not fear,
    I will help you.
14 Do not fear, you worm Jacob,
    you maggot Israel;
I will help you—oracle of the Lord;
    the Holy One of Israel is your redeemer.[n]
15 I will make of you a threshing sledge,
    sharp, new, full of teeth,
To thresh the mountains and crush them,
    to make the hills like chaff.
16 When you winnow them, the wind shall carry them off,
    the storm shall scatter them.
But you shall rejoice in the Lord;
    in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.

17 The afflicted and the needy seek water in vain,
    their tongues are parched with thirst.
I, the Lord, will answer them;
    I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
18 I will open up rivers on the bare heights,
    and fountains in the broad valleys;
I will turn the wilderness into a marshland,
    and the dry ground into springs of water.
19 In the wilderness I will plant the cedar,
    acacia, myrtle, and olive;
In the wasteland I will set the cypress,
    together with the plane tree and the pine,
20 That all may see and know,
    observe and understand,
That the hand of the Lord has done this,
    the Holy One of Israel has created it.

21 Present your case, says the Lord;[o]
    bring forward your arguments, says the King of Jacob.
22 Let them draw near and foretell to us
    what it is that shall happen!
What are the things of long ago?
    Tell us, that we may reflect on them
    and know their outcome;
Or declare to us the things to come,[p]
23     tell what is to be in the future,
    that we may know that you are gods!
Do something, good or evil,
    that will put us in awe and in fear.
24 Why, you are nothing
    and your work is nought;
    to choose you is an abomination!

25 I have stirred up one from the north, and he comes;
    from the east I summon him[q] by name;
He shall trample the rulers down like mud,
    like a potter treading clay.
26 Who announced this from the beginning, that we might know;
    beforehand, that we might say, “True”?
Not one of you foretold it, not one spoke;
    not one heard you say,
27 “The first news for Zion: here they come,”
    or, “I will give Jerusalem a herald of good news.”
28 When I look, there is not one,
    not one of them to give counsel,
    to make an answer when I question them.
29 Ah, all of them are nothing,
    their works are nought,
    their idols, empty wind!

Chapter 42

The Servant of the Lord

Here is my servant[r] whom I uphold,
    my chosen one with whom I am pleased.
Upon him I have put my spirit;
    he shall bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry out, nor shout,
    nor make his voice heard in the street.
A bruised reed[s] he will not break,
    and a dimly burning wick he will not quench.
    He will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow dim or be bruised
    until he establishes justice on the earth;
    the coastlands[t] will wait for his teaching.

Thus says God, the Lord,
    who created the heavens and stretched them out,
    who spread out the earth and its produce,
Who gives breath to its people
    and spirit to those who walk on it:
I, the Lord, have called you for justice,
    I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
    as a covenant for the people,
    a light for the nations,
To open the eyes of the blind,
    to bring out prisoners from confinement,
    and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.
I am the Lord, Lord is my name;
    my glory I give to no other,
    nor my praise to idols.
See, the earlier things have come to pass,
    new ones I now declare;
Before they spring forth
    I announce them to you.

The Lord’s Purpose for Israel

10 Sing to the Lord a new song,
    his praise from the ends of the earth:
Let the sea and what fills it resound,
    the coastlands, and those who dwell in them.
11 Let the wilderness and its cities cry out,
    the villages where Kedar[u] dwells;
Let the inhabitants of Sela exult,
    and shout from the top of the mountains.
12 Let them give glory to the Lord,
    and utter his praise in the coastlands.

13 The Lord goes forth like a warrior,
    like a man of war he stirs up his fury;
He shouts out his battle cry,
    against his enemies he shows his might:
14 For a long time I have kept silent,
    I have said nothing, holding myself back;
Now I cry out like a woman in labor,
    gasping and panting.
15 [v]I will lay waste mountains and hills,
    all their undergrowth I will dry up;
I will turn the rivers into marshes,
    and the marshes I will dry up.
16 I will lead the blind on a way they do not know;
    by paths they do not know I will guide them.
I will turn darkness into light before them,
    and make crooked ways straight.
These are my promises:
    I made them, I will not forsake them.

17 They shall be turned back in utter shame
    who trust in idols;
Who say to molten images,
    “You are our gods.”
18 You deaf ones, listen,[w]
    you blind ones, look and see!
19 Who is blind but my servant,
    or deaf like the messenger I send?
Who is blind like the one I restore,
    blind like the servant of the Lord?
20 You see many things but do not observe;
    ears open, but do not hear.
21 It was the Lord’s will for the sake of his justice
    to make his teaching great and glorious.

22 This is a people[x] plundered and despoiled,
    all of them trapped in holes,
    hidden away in prisons.
They are taken as plunder, with no one to rescue them,
    as spoil, with no one to say, “Give back!”
23 Who among you will give ear to this,
    listen and pay attention from now on?
24 Who was it that gave Jacob to be despoiled,
    Israel to the plunderers?[y]
Was it not the Lord, against whom we have sinned?
    In his ways they refused to walk,
    his teaching they would not heed.
25 So he poured out wrath upon them,
    his anger, and the fury of battle;
It blazed all around them, yet they did not realize,
    it burned them, but they did not take it to heart.

Chapter 43

Promises of Redemption and Restoration

But now, thus says the Lord,
    who created you, Jacob, and formed you, Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name: you are mine.
When you pass through waters, I will be with you;
    through rivers, you shall not be swept away.
When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned,
    nor will flames consume you.
For I, the Lord, am your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your savior.
I give Egypt as ransom for you,
    Ethiopia and Seba[z] in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes
    and honored, and I love you,
I give people in return for you
    and nations in exchange for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you;
    from the east I will bring back your offspring,
    from the west I will gather you.
I will say to the north: Give them up!
    and to the south: Do not hold them!
Bring back my sons from afar,
    and my daughters from the ends of the earth:
All who are called by my name
    I created for my glory;
    I formed them, made them.
Lead out the people, blind though they have eyes,
    deaf though they have ears.

Let all the nations gather together,
    let the peoples assemble!
Who among them could have declared this,
    or announced to us the earlier things?[aa]
Let them produce witnesses to prove themselves right,
    that one may hear and say, “It is true!”
10 You are my witnesses[ab]—oracle of the Lord
    my servant whom I have chosen
To know and believe in me
    and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
    and after me there shall be none.
11 I, I am the Lord;
    there is no savior but me.
12 It is I who declared, who saved,
    who announced, not some strange god among you;
You are my witnesses—oracle of the Lord.
    I am God,
13     yes, from eternity I am he;
There is none who can deliver from my hand:
    I act and who can cancel it?

14 Thus says the Lord, your redeemer,[ac]
    the Holy One of Israel:
For your sake I send to Babylon;
    I will bring down all her defenses,
    and the Chaldeans shall cry out in lamentation.
15 I am the Lord, your Holy One,
    the creator of Israel, your King.
16 Thus says the Lord,
    who opens a way in the sea,
    a path in the mighty waters,
17 Who leads out chariots and horsemen,
    a powerful army,
Till they lie prostrate together, never to rise,
    snuffed out, quenched like a wick.
18 Remember not[ad] the events of the past,
    the things of long ago consider not;
19 See, I am doing something new!
    Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
In the wilderness I make a way,
    in the wasteland, rivers.
20 Wild beasts honor me,
    jackals and ostriches,
For I put water in the wilderness
    and rivers in the wasteland
    for my chosen people to drink,
21 The people whom I formed for myself,
    that they might recount my praise.

22 Yet you did not call upon me, Jacob,[ae]
    for you grew weary of me, Israel.
23 You did not bring me sheep for your burnt offerings,
    nor honor me with your sacrifices.
I did not exact from you the service of offerings,
    nor weary you for frankincense.
24 You did not buy me sweet cane,[af]
    nor did you fill me with the fat of your sacrifices;
Instead, you burdened me with your sins,
    wearied me with your crimes.
25 It is I, I, who wipe out,
    for my own sake, your offenses;
    your sins I remember no more.
26 Would you have me remember, have us come to trial?
    Speak up, prove your innocence!
27 Your first father[ag] sinned;
    your spokesmen rebelled against me
28 Till I repudiated the holy princes,
    put Jacob under the ban,
    exposed Israel to scorn.

Chapter 44

Hear then, Jacob, my servant,
    Israel, whom I have chosen.
Thus says the Lord who made you,
    your help, who formed you from the womb:
Do not fear, Jacob, my servant,
    Jeshurun,[ah] whom I have chosen.
I will pour out water upon the thirsty ground,
    streams upon the dry land;
I will pour out my spirit upon your offspring,
    my blessing upon your descendants.
They shall spring forth amid grass
    like poplars beside flowing waters.
One shall say, “I am the Lord’s,”
    another shall be named after Jacob,
And this one shall write on his hand,[ai] “The Lord’s,”
    and receive the name Israel.

The True God and False Gods

[aj]Thus says the Lord, Israel’s king,
    its redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
I am the first, I am the last;
    there is no God but me.[ak]
Who is like me? Let him stand up and declare,
    make it evident, and confront me with it.
Who of old announced future events?
    Let them foretell to us the things to come.
Do not fear or be troubled.
Did I not announce it to you long ago?
    I declared it, and you are my witnesses.
Is there any God but me?
    There is no other Rock,[al] I know of none!

[am]Those who fashion idols are all nothing;
    their precious works are of no avail.
They are their witnesses:[an]
    they see nothing, know nothing,
    and so they are put to shame.
10 Who would fashion a god or cast an idol,
    that is of no use?
11 Look, all its company will be shamed;
    they are artisans, mere human beings!
They all assemble and stand there,
    only to cower in shame.
12 The ironsmith fashions a likeness,
    he works it over the coals,
Shaping it with hammers,
    working it with his strong arm.
With hunger his strength wanes,
    without water, he grows faint.
13 The woodworker stretches a line,
    and marks out a shape with a stylus.
He shapes it with scraping tools,
    with a compass measures it off,
Making it the copy of a man,[ao]
    human display, enthroned in a shrine.
14 He goes out to cut down cedars,
    takes a holm tree or an oak.
He picks out for himself trees of the forest,
    plants a fir, and the rain makes it grow.
15 It is used for fuel:
    with some of the wood he warms himself,
    makes a fire and bakes bread.
Yet he makes a god and worships it,
    turns it into an idol and adores it!
16 Half of it he burns in the fire,
    on its embers he roasts meat;
    he eats the roast and is full.
He warms himself and says, “Ah!
    I am warm! I see the flames!”
17 The rest of it he makes into a god,
    an image to worship and adore.
He prays to it and says,
    “Help me! You are my god!”
18 They do not know, do not understand;
    their eyes are too clouded to see,
    their minds, to perceive.
19 He does not think clearly;
    he lacks the wit and knowledge to say,
“Half the wood I burned in the fire,
    on its embers I baked bread,
    I roasted meat and ate.
Shall I turn the rest into an abomination?
    Shall I worship a block of wood?”
20 He is chasing ashes![ap]
A deluded mind has led him astray;
    He cannot save himself,
    does not say, “This thing in my right hand—is it not a fraud?”

21 Remember these things, Jacob,
    Israel, for you are my servant!
I formed you, a servant to me;
    Israel, you shall never be forgotten by me:
22 I have brushed away your offenses like a cloud,
    your sins like a mist;
    return to me, for I have redeemed you.

23 Raise a glad cry, you heavens—the Lord has acted!
    Shout, you depths of the earth.
Break forth, mountains, into song,
    forest, with all your trees.
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
    shows his glory through Israel.

Cyrus, Anointed of the Lord, Agent of Israel’s Liberation

24 Thus says the Lord, your redeemer,
    who formed you from the womb:
I am the Lord, who made all things,
    who alone stretched out the heavens,
    I spread out the earth by myself.
25 I bring to nought the omens of babblers,
    make fools of diviners,
Turn back the wise
    and make their knowledge foolish.
26 I confirm the words of my servant,
    carry out the plan my messengers announce.
I say to Jerusalem, Be inhabited!
    To the cities of Judah, Be rebuilt!
    I will raise up their ruins.
27 I say to the deep, Be dry!
    I will dry up your rivers.
28 I say of Cyrus,[aq] My shepherd!
    He carries out my every wish,
Saying of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,”
    and of the temple, “Lay its foundations.”

Chapter 45

Thus says the Lord to his anointed,[ar] Cyrus,
    whose right hand I grasp,
Subduing nations before him,
    stripping kings of their strength,
Opening doors before him,
    leaving the gates unbarred:
I will go before you
    and level the mountains;
Bronze doors[as] I will shatter,
    iron bars I will snap.
I will give you treasures of darkness,
    riches hidden away,
That you may know I am the Lord,
    the God of Israel, who calls you by name.

For the sake of Jacob, my servant,
    of Israel my chosen one,
I have called you by name,
    giving you a title, though you do not know me.
I am the Lord, there is no other,
    there is no God besides me.
It is I who arm you, though you do not know me,
    so that all may know, from the rising of the sun
    to its setting, that there is none besides me.[at]
I am the Lord, there is no other.
    I form the light, and create the darkness,
I make weal and create woe;[au]
    I, the Lord, do all these things.
Let justice descend, you heavens, like dew from above,
    like gentle rain let the clouds drop it down.
Let the earth open and salvation bud forth;
    let righteousness spring up with them![av]
    I, the Lord, have created this.
Woe to anyone who contends with their Maker;
    a potsherd among potsherds of the earth![aw]
Shall the clay say to the potter, “What are you doing?”
    or, “What you are making has no handles”?
10 Woe to anyone who asks a father, “What are you begetting?”
    or a woman, “What are you giving birth to?”
11 Thus says the Lord,
    the Holy One of Israel, his maker:
Do you question me about my children,
    tell me how to treat the work of my hands?
12 It was I who made the earth
    and created the people upon it;
It was my hands that stretched out the heavens;
    I gave the order to all their host.
13 It was I who stirred him[ax] up for justice;
    all his ways I make level.
He shall rebuild my city
    and let my exiles go free
Without price or payment,
    says the Lord of hosts.

14     Thus says the Lord:
The earnings of Egypt, the gain of Ethiopia,
    and the Sabeans,[ay] tall of stature,
Shall come over to you and belong to you;
    they shall follow you, coming in chains.
Before you they shall bow down,
    saying in prayer:
“With you alone is God; and there is none other,
    no other god!
15 Truly with you God is hidden,[az]
    the God of Israel, the savior!
16 They are put to shame and disgrace, all of them;
    they go in disgrace who carve images.
17 Israel has been saved by the Lord,
    saved forever!
You shall never be put to shame or disgrace
    in any future age.”

18     For thus says the Lord,
The creator of the heavens,
    who is God,
The designer and maker of the earth
    who established it,
Not as an empty waste[ba] did he create it,
    but designing it to be lived in:
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
19     I have not spoken in secret
    from some place in the land of darkness,
I have not said to the descendants of Jacob,
    “Look for me in an empty waste.”
I, the Lord, promise justice,
    I declare what is right.

20 Come and assemble, gather together,
    you fugitives from among the nations!
They are without knowledge who bear wooden idols[bb]
    and pray to gods that cannot save.
21 Come close and declare;
    let them take counsel together:
Who announced this from the beginning,
    declared it from of old?
Was it not I, the Lord,
    besides whom there is no other God?
    There is no just and saving God but me.

22 Turn to me and be safe,
    all you ends of the earth,
    for I am God; there is no other!
23 By myself I swear,
    uttering my just decree,
    a word that will not return:
To me every knee shall bend;
    by me every tongue shall swear,
24 Saying, “Only in the Lord
    are just deeds and power.
Before him in shame shall come
    all who vent their anger against him.
25 In the Lord all the descendants of Israel
    shall have vindication and glory.”

Chapter 46

The Gods of Babylon

Bel bows down, Nebo[bc] stoops,
    their idols set upon beasts and cattle;
They must be borne upon shoulders,
    a load for weary animals.
They stoop and bow down together;
    unable to deliver those who bear them,
    they too go into captivity.

Hear me, O house of Jacob,
    all the remnant of the house of Israel,
My burden from the womb,
    whom I have carried since birth.
Even to your old age I am he,
    even when your hair is gray I will carry you;
I have done this, and I will lift you up,
    I will carry you to safety.

To whom would you liken me as an equal,
    compare me, as though we were alike?
There are those who pour out gold from a purse
    and weigh out silver on the scales;
They hire a goldsmith to make it into a god
    before which they bow down in worship.
They lift it to their shoulders to carry;
    when they set it down, it stays,
    and does not move from the place.
They cry out to it, but it cannot answer;
    it delivers no one from distress.

Remember this and be firm,
    take it to heart, you rebels;
    remember the former things, those long ago:
I am God, there is no other;
    I am God, there is none like me.
10 At the beginning I declare the outcome;
    from of old, things not yet done.
I say that my plan shall stand,
    I accomplish my every desire.

11 I summon from the east a bird of prey,[bd]
    from a distant land, one to carry out my plan.
Yes, I have spoken, I will accomplish it;
    I have planned it, and I will do it.
12 Listen to me, you fainthearted,
    far from the victory of justice:
13 I am bringing on that victory, it is not far off,
    my salvation shall not tarry;
I will put salvation within Zion,
    give to Israel my glory.

Chapter 47

The Fall of Babylon[be]

Come down, sit in the dust,
    virgin daughter Babylon;
Sit on the ground, dethroned,
    daughter of the Chaldeans.
No longer shall you be called
    dainty and delicate.
Take the millstone and grind flour,
    remove your veil;
Strip off your skirt, bare your legs,
    cross through the streams.
Your nakedness shall be uncovered,
    and your shame be seen;
I will take vengeance,
    I will yield to no entreaty,
says     our redeemer,
Whose name is the Lord of hosts,
    the Holy One of Israel.

Go into darkness and sit in silence,
    daughter of the Chaldeans,
No longer shall you be called
    sovereign mistress of kingdoms.
Angry at my people,
    I profaned my heritage
And gave them into your power;
    but you showed them no mercy;
Upon the aged
    you laid a very heavy yoke.
You said, “I shall remain always,
    a sovereign mistress forever!”
You did not take these things to heart,
    but disregarded their outcome.
Now hear this, voluptuous one,
    enthroned securely,
Saying in your heart,
    “I, and no one else![bf]
I shall never be a widow,
    bereft of my children”—
Both these things shall come to you
    suddenly, in a single day:
Complete bereavement and widowhood
    shall come upon you
Despite your many sorceries
    and the full power of your spells;[bg]
10 Secure in your wickedness,
    you said, “No one sees me.”
Your wisdom and your knowledge
    led you astray,
And you said in your heart,
    “I, and no one else!”
11 But upon you shall come an evil
    you will not be able to charm away;
Upon you shall fall a disaster
    you cannot ward off.
Upon you shall suddenly come
    a ruin you cannot imagine.

12 Keep on with your spells
    and your many sorceries,
    at which you toiled from your youth.
Perhaps you can prevail,
    perhaps you can strike terror!
13 You wore yourself out with so many consultations!
    Let the astrologers stand forth to save you,
The stargazers who forecast at each new moon
    what would happen to you.
14 See, they are like stubble,
    fire consumes them;
They cannot deliver themselves
    from the spreading flames.
This is no warming ember,
    no fire to sit before!
15 Thus do your wizards serve you
    with whom you have toiled from your youth;
They wander their separate ways,
    with none to save you.

Chapter 48

Exhortations to the Exiles

Hear this, house of Jacob
    called by the name Israel,
    sprung from the stock of Judah,
You who swear by the name of the Lord
    and invoke the God of Israel
    without sincerity, without justice,
Though you are named after the holy city
    and rely on the God of Israel,
    whose name is the Lord of hosts.
Things of the past I declared long ago,
    they went forth from my mouth, I announced them;
    then suddenly I took action and they came to be.
Because I know that you are stubborn
    and that your neck is an iron sinew
    and your forehead bronze,
I declared them to you of old;
    before they took place I informed you,
That you might not say, “My idol did them,
    my statue, my molten image commanded them.”
Now that you have heard, look at all this;
    must you not admit it?
From now on I announce new things to you,
    hidden events you never knew.
Now, not from of old, they are created,
    before today you did not hear of them,
    so that you cannot claim, “I have known them.”
You never heard, you never knew,
    they never reached your ears beforehand.
Yes, I know you are utterly treacherous,
    a rebel you were named from the womb.
For the sake of my name I restrain my anger,
    for the sake of my renown I hold it back from you,
    lest I destroy you.
10 See, I refined you, but not like silver;
    I tested you in the furnace of affliction.
11 For my sake, for my own sake, I do this;
    why should my name be profaned?
    My glory I will not give to another.

12 Listen to me, Jacob,
    Israel, whom I called!
I, it is I who am the first,
    and am I the last.
13 Yes, my hand laid the foundations of the earth;
    my right hand spread out the heavens.
When I summon them,
    they stand forth at once.

14 All of you assemble and listen:
    Who among you declared these things?
The one the Lord loves[bh] shall do his will
    against Babylon and the offspring of Chaldea.
15 I myself have spoken, I have summoned him,
    I have brought him, and his way succeeds!
16 Come near to me and hear this!
    From the beginning I did not speak in secret;
At the time it happens, I am there:
    “Now the Lord God has sent me, and his spirit.”[bi]

17 Thus says the Lord, your redeemer,
    the Holy One of Israel:
I am the Lord, your God,
    teaching you how to prevail,
    leading you on the way you should go.
18 If only you would attend to my commandments,
    your peace would be like a river,
    your vindication like the waves of the sea,
19 Your descendants like the sand,
    the offspring of your loins like its grains,
Their name never cut off
    or blotted out from my presence.
20 Go forth from Babylon, flee from Chaldea!
    With shouts of joy declare this, announce it;
Make it known to the ends of the earth,
    Say: “The Lord has redeemed his servant Jacob.
21 They did not thirst
    when he led them through dry lands;
Water from the rock he set flowing for them;
    he cleft the rock, and waters welled forth.”

22 There is no peace[bj] for the wicked,
    says the Lord.

B. Expiation of Sin, Spiritual Liberation of Israel

Chapter 49

The Servant of the Lord[bk]

Hear me, coastlands,
    listen, distant peoples.
Before birth the Lord called me,
    from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.[bl]
He made my mouth like a sharp-edged sword,
    concealed me, shielded by his hand.
He made me a sharpened arrow,
    in his quiver he hid me.
He said to me, You are my servant,
    in you, Israel,[bm] I show my glory.

Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
    for nothing and for naught spent my strength,
Yet my right is with the Lord,
    my recompense is with my God.
For now the Lord has spoken
    who formed me as his servant from the womb,
That Jacob may be brought back to him
    and Israel gathered to him;
I am honored in the sight of the Lord,
    and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
    to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
    and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
    that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.[bn]
Thus says the Lord,
    the redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,
To the one despised, abhorred by the nations,
    the slave of rulers:
When kings see you, they shall stand up,
    and princes shall bow down
Because of the Lord who is faithful,
    the Holy One of Israel who has chosen you.

The Liberation and Restoration of Zion

    Thus says the Lord:
In a time of favor I answer you,[bo]
    on the day of salvation I help you;
I form you and set you
    as a covenant for the people,
To restore the land
    and allot the devastated heritages,
To say to the prisoners: Come out!
    To those in darkness: Show yourselves!
Along the roadways they shall find pasture,
    on every barren height shall their pastures be.
10 They shall not hunger or thirst;
    nor shall scorching wind or sun strike them;
For he who pities them leads them
    and guides them beside springs of water.
11 I will turn all my mountains into roadway,
    and make my highways level.
12 See, these shall come from afar:
    some from the north and the west,
    others from the land of Syene.[bp]

13 Sing out, heavens, and rejoice, earth,
    break forth into song, you mountains,
For the Lord comforts his people
    and shows mercy to his afflicted.

14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me;
    my Lord has forgotten me.”
15 Can a mother forget her infant,
    be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
    I will never forget you.
16 See, upon the palms of my hands I have engraved you;[bq]
    your walls are ever before me.
17 Your children hasten—
    your levelers, your destroyers
    go forth from you;
18 Look about and see,
    they are all gathering and coming to you.
As I live—oracle of the Lord
    you shall don them as jewels,
    bedeck yourself like a bride.

19 Though you were waste and desolate,
    a land of ruins,
Now you shall be too narrow for your inhabitants,
    while those who swallowed you up will be far away.
20 The children of whom you were bereft
    shall yet say in your hearing,
“This place is too narrow for me,
    make room for me to live in.”
21 You shall ask yourself:
    “Who has borne me these,
    when I was bereft and barren?
Exiled and repudiated,
    who has reared them?
I was left all alone;
    where then do these come from?”
22     Thus says the Lord God:
See, I will lift up my hand to the nations,
    and to the peoples raise my signal;
They shall bring your sons in their arms,
    your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.
23 Kings shall be your guardians,
    their princesses your nursemaids;
Face to the ground, they shall bow down before you
    and lick the dust at your feet.
Then you shall know that I am the Lord,
    none who hope in me shall be ashamed.
24 Can plunder be taken from a warrior,
    or captives rescued from a tyrant?
25     Thus says the Lord:
Yes, captives can be taken from a warrior,
    and plunder rescued from a tyrant;
Those who oppose you I will oppose,
    and your sons I will save.
26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh,
    and they shall be drunk with their own blood
    as though with new wine.
All flesh shall know
    that I, the Lord, am your savior,
    your redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

Chapter 50

Salvation Through the Lord’s Servant

    Thus says the Lord:
Where is the bill of divorce
    with which I dismissed your mother?[br]
Or to which of my creditors
    have I sold you?
It was for your sins you were sold,
    for your rebellions your mother was dismissed.

Why was no one there when I came?
    Why did no one answer when I called?[bs]
Is my hand too short to ransom?
    Have I not the strength to deliver?
See, with my rebuke I dry up the sea,
    I turn rivers into wilderness;
Their fish rot for lack of water,
    and die of thirst.
I clothe the heavens in black,
    and make sackcloth their covering.

[bt]The Lord God has given me
    a well-trained tongue,
That I might know how to answer the weary
    a word that will waken them.
Morning after morning
    he wakens my ear to hear as disciples do;
The Lord God opened my ear;
    I did not refuse,
    did not turn away.[bu]
I gave my back to those who beat me,
    my cheeks to those who tore out my beard;[bv]
My face I did not hide
    from insults and spitting.

The Lord God is my help,
    therefore I am not disgraced;
Therefore I have set my face like flint,
    knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
He who declares my innocence is near.
    Who will oppose me?
    Let us appear together.
Who will dispute my right?
    Let them confront me.
See, the Lord God is my help;
    who will declare me guilty?
See, they will all wear out like a garment,
    consumed by moths.
10 Who among you fears the Lord,[bw]
    heeds his servant’s voice?
Whoever walk in darkness,
    without any light,
Yet trust in the name of the Lord
    and rely upon their God!
11 All you who kindle flames
    and set flares alight,
Walk by the light of your own fire
    and by the flares you have burnt!
This is your fate from my hand:
    you shall lie down in a place of torment.

Chapter 51

Exhortation to Trust in the Lord

Listen to me, you who pursue justice,
    who seek the Lord;
Look to the rock from which you were hewn,
    to the quarry[bx] from which you were taken;
Look to Abraham, your father,
    and to Sarah, who gave you birth;
Though he was but one when I called him,
    I blessed him and made him many.
Yes, the Lord shall comfort Zion,
    shall comfort all her ruins;
Her wilderness he shall make like Eden,
    her wasteland like the garden of the Lord;
Joy and gladness shall be found in her,
    thanksgiving and the sound of song.

Be attentive to me, my people;[by]
    my nation, give ear to me.
For teaching shall go forth from me,
    and my judgment, as light to the peoples.
I will make my victory come swiftly;
    my salvation shall go forth
    and my arm shall judge the nations;
In me the coastlands shall hope,
    and my arm they shall await.

Raise your eyes to the heavens,
    look at the earth below;
Though the heavens vanish like smoke,
    the earth wear out like a garment
    and its inhabitants die like flies,
My salvation shall remain forever
    and my victory shall always be firm.[bz]
Hear me, you who know justice,
    you people who have my teaching at heart:
Do not fear the reproach of others;
    remain firm at their revilings.
They shall be like a garment eaten by moths,
    like wool consumed by grubs;
But my victory shall remain forever,
    my salvation, for all generations.

Awake, awake, put on strength,
    arm of the Lord!
Awake as in the days of old,
    in ages long ago!
Was it not you who crushed Rahab,[ca]
    you who pierced the dragon?
10 Was it not you who dried up the sea,
    the waters of the great deep,[cb]
You who made the depths of the sea into a way
    for the redeemed to pass through?
11 Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return
    and enter Zion singing,
    crowned with everlasting joy;
They will meet with joy and gladness,
    sorrow and mourning will flee.

12 I, it is I who comfort you.
    Can you then fear mortals who die,
    human beings who are just grass,
13 And forget the Lord, your maker,
    who stretched out the heavens
    and laid the foundations of earth?
All the day you are in constant dread
    of the fury of the oppressor
When he prepares himself to destroy;
    but where is the oppressor’s fury?

14 The captives shall soon be released;
    they shall not die and go down into the pit,
    nor shall they want for bread.
15 For I am the Lord, your God,
    who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar;
    the Lord of hosts by name.
16 I have put my words into your mouth,
    I covered you, shielded by my hand,
Stretching out the heavens,
    laying the foundations of the earth,
    saying to Zion: You are my people.

The Cup of the Lord

17 Wake up, wake up!
    Arise, Jerusalem,
You who drank at the Lord’s hand
    the cup of his wrath;
Who drained to the dregs
    the bowl of staggering!
18 She has no one to guide her
    of all the children she bore;
She has no one to take her by the hand,
    of all the children she reared!—
19 Your misfortunes are double;
    who is there to grieve with you?
Desolation and destruction, famine and sword!
    Who is there to comfort you?
20 Your children lie helpless
    at every street corner
    like antelopes in a net.
They are filled with the wrath of the Lord,
    the rebuke of your God.

21 But now, hear this, afflicted one,
    drunk, but not with wine,
22 Thus says the Lord, your Master,
    your God, who defends his people:
See, I am taking from your hand
    the cup of staggering;
The bowl of my wrath
    you shall no longer drink.
23 I will put it into the hands of your tormentors,
    those who said to you,
    “Bow down, that we may walk over you.”
So you offered your back like the ground,
    like the street for them to walk on.

Chapter 52

Let Zion Rejoice

Awake, awake!
    Put on your strength, Zion;
Put on your glorious garments,
    Jerusalem, holy city.
Never again shall the uncircumcised
    or the unclean enter you.
Arise, shake off the dust,
    sit enthroned, Jerusalem;
Loose the bonds from your neck,
    captive daughter Zion!
    For thus says the Lord:
For nothing you were sold,
    without money you shall be redeemed.

    For thus says the Lord God:
To Egypt long ago my people went down,
    to sojourn there;
    Assyria, too, oppressed them for nought.
But now, what am I to do here?
    —oracle of the Lord.
My people have been taken away for nothing;
    their rulers mock, oracle of the Lord;
    constantly, every day, my name is reviled.
Therefore my people shall know my name
    on that day, that it is I who speaks: Here I am!
How beautiful upon the mountains[cc]
    are the feet of the one bringing good news,
Announcing peace, bearing good news,
    announcing salvation, saying to Zion,
    “Your God is King!”

Listen! Your sentinels raise a cry,
    together they shout for joy,
For they see directly, before their eyes,
    the Lord’s return to Zion.
Break out together in song,
    O ruins of Jerusalem!
For the Lord has comforted his people,
    has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The Lord has bared his holy arm
    in the sight of all the nations;
All the ends of the earth can see
    the salvation of our God.

11 Depart, depart, go out from there,
    touch nothing unclean!
Out from there![cd] Purify yourselves,
    you who carry the vessels of the Lord.
12 But not in hurried flight will you go out,
    nor leave in headlong haste,
For the Lord goes before you,
    and your rear guard is the God of Israel.

Suffering and Triumph of the Servant of the Lord[ce]

13 See, my servant shall prosper,
    he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
14 Even as many were amazed at him—
    so marred were his features,
    beyond that of mortals
    his appearance, beyond that of human beings—
15 So shall he startle many nations,
    kings shall stand speechless;
For those who have not been told shall see,
    those who have not heard shall ponder it.

Chapter 53

Who would believe what we have heard?[cf]
    To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up like a sapling before him,
    like a shoot from the parched earth;
He had no majestic bearing to catch our eye,
    no beauty to draw us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by men,
    a man of suffering, knowing pain,
Like one from whom you turn your face,
    spurned, and we held him in no esteem.

Yet it was our pain that he bore,
    our sufferings he endured.
We thought of him as stricken,
    struck down by God[cg] and afflicted,
But he was pierced for our sins,
    crushed for our iniquity.
He bore the punishment that makes us whole,
    by his wounds we were healed.
We had all gone astray like sheep,
    all following our own way;
But the Lord laid upon him[ch]
    the guilt of us all.

Though harshly treated, he submitted
    and did not open his mouth;
Like a lamb led to slaughter
    or a sheep silent before shearers,
    he did not open his mouth.
Seized and condemned, he was taken away.
    Who would have thought any more of his destiny?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
    struck for the sins of his people.
He was given a grave among the wicked,
    a burial place with evildoers,
Though he had done no wrong,
    nor was deceit found in his mouth.
10 But it was the Lord’s will to crush him with pain.
By making his life as a reparation offering,[ci]
    he shall see his offspring, shall lengthen his days,
    and the Lord’s will shall be accomplished through him.
11 Because of his anguish he shall see the light;
    because of his knowledge he shall be content;
My servant, the just one, shall justify the many,
    their iniquity he shall bear.
12 Therefore I will give him his portion among the many,
    and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
Because he surrendered himself to death,
    was counted among the transgressors,
Bore the sins of many,
    and interceded for the transgressors.

Chapter 54

The New Zion

Raise a glad cry, you barren one[cj] who never bore a child,
    break forth in jubilant song, you who have never been in labor,
For more numerous are the children of the deserted wife
    than the children of her who has a husband,
    says the Lord.
Enlarge the space for your tent,
    spread out your tent cloths unsparingly;
    lengthen your ropes and make firm your pegs.
For you shall spread abroad to the right and left;
    your descendants shall dispossess the nations
    and shall people the deserted cities.[ck]

[cl]Do not fear, you shall not be put to shame;
    do not be discouraged, you shall not be disgraced.
For the shame of your youth you shall forget,
    the reproach of your widowhood no longer remember.
For your husband is your Maker;
    the Lord of hosts is his name,
Your redeemer,[cm] the Holy One of Israel,
    called God of all the earth.

The Lord calls you back,
    like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
A wife married in youth and then cast off,
    says your God.
For a brief moment I abandoned you,
    but with great tenderness I will take you back.
In an outburst of wrath, for a moment
    I hid my face from you;
But with enduring love I take pity on you,
    says the Lord, your redeemer.

This is for me like the days of Noah:
As I swore then that the waters of Noah
    should never again flood the earth,
So I have sworn now not to be angry with you,
    or to rebuke you.
10 Though the mountains fall away
    and the hills be shaken,
My love shall never fall away from you
    nor my covenant of peace[cn] be shaken,
    says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

11 O afflicted one,[co] storm-battered and unconsoled,
    I lay your pavements in carnelians,
    your foundations in sapphires;
12 I will make your battlements of rubies,
    your gates of jewels,
    and all your walls of precious stones.
13 All your children shall be taught by the Lord;
    great shall be the peace of your children.
14 In justice shall you be established,
    far from oppression, you shall not fear,
    from destruction, it cannot come near.
15 If there be an attack, it is not my doing;
    whoever attacks shall fall before you.

16 See, I have created the smith
    who blows on the burning coals
    and forges weapons as his work;
It is I also who have created
    the destroyer to work havoc.
17 Every weapon fashioned against you shall fail;
    every tongue that brings you to trial
    you shall prove false.

This is the lot of the servants of the Lord,
    their vindication from me—oracle of the Lord.

Chapter 55

An Invitation to Grace

All you who are thirsty,[cp]
    come to the water!
You who have no money,
    come, buy grain and eat;
Come, buy grain without money,
    wine and milk without cost!
Why spend your money for what is not bread;
    your wages for what does not satisfy?
Only listen to me, and you shall eat well,
    you shall delight in rich fare.
Pay attention and come to me;
    listen, that you may have life.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
    the steadfast loyalty promised to David.
As I made him a witness to peoples,
    a leader and commander of peoples,
So shall you summon a nation you knew not,
    and a nation[cq] that knew you not shall run to you,
Because of the Lord, your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you.

[cr]Seek the Lord while he may be found,
    call upon him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their way,
    and sinners their thoughts;
Let them turn to the Lord to find mercy;
    to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways,
    my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

10 [cs]Yet just as from the heavens
    the rain and snow come down
And do not return there
    till they have watered the earth,
    making it fertile and fruitful,
Giving seed to the one who sows
    and bread to the one who eats,
11 So shall my word be
    that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me empty,
    but shall do what pleases me,
    achieving the end for which I sent it.

12 Yes, in joy you shall go forth,
    in peace you shall be brought home;
Mountains and hills shall break out in song before you,
    all trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 In place of the thornbush, the cypress shall grow,
    instead of nettles,[ct] the myrtle.
This shall be to the Lord’s renown,
    as an everlasting sign that shall not fail.

Footnotes:

  1. 40:1–55:13 Chapters 40–55 are usually designated Second Isaiah (or Deutero-Isaiah) and are believed to have been written by an anonymous prophet toward the end of the Babylonian exile. Isaiah, who is named frequently in chaps. 1–39, does not appear here; the Assyrians, the great threat during the eighth century, hardly appear; the Judeans are in Babylon, having been taken there by the victorious Babylonians; Cyrus, the Persian king, is named; he will defeat Babylon and release the captives. Second Isaiah, who sees this not as a happy circumstance but as part of God’s age-old plan, exhorts the Judeans to resist the temptations of Babylonian religion and stirs up hopes of an imminent return to Judah, where the Lord will again be acknowledged as King (52:7). Because the prophet proclaimed the triumph of Persia over Babylon, his message would have been considered seditious, and it is very likely for this reason that the collection would have circulated anonymously. At some point it was appended to Is 1–39 and consequently was long considered the work of Isaiah of Jerusalem of the eighth century. But the fact that it is addressed to Judean exiles in Babylon indicates a sixth-century date. Nevertheless, this eloquent prophet in many ways works within the tradition of Isaiah and develops themes found in the earlier chapters, such as the holiness of the Lord (cf. note on 1:4) and his lordship of history. Second Isaiah also develops other Old Testament themes, such as the Lord as Israel’s redeemer or deliverer (cf. Ex 3:8; 6:6; 15:13; 18:8).
  2. 40:1 The “voices” of vv. 3, 6 are members of the heavenly court addressing the prophet; then v. 1 can be understood as the Lord addressing them. It is also possible to translate, with the Vulgate, “Comfort, give comfort, O my people” (i.e., the exiles are called to comfort Jerusalem). The juxtaposition of “my people” and “your God” recalls the covenant formulary.
  3. 40:2 Service: servitude (cf. Jb 7:1) and exile.
  4. 40:3–5 A description of the return of the exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem (Zion). The language used here figuratively describes the way the exiles will take. The Lord leads them, so their way lies straight across the wilderness rather than along the well-watered routes usually followed from Mesopotamia to Israel. Mt 3:3 and gospel parallels adapt these verses to the witness of John the Baptizer to Jesus.
  5. 40:9 Herald of good news: i.e., of the imminent restoration of the people to their land. This theme of the proclamation of the good news occurs elsewhere in Second Isaiah; cf. also 41:27; 52:7.
  6. 40:12 The implicit answer is “the hand of the Lord” (v. 2). Waters…heavens…earth: together form the universe; cf. Gn 1:1–2. Span: the distance between the extended little finger and the thumb. Fingers: lit., “three fingers” (i.e., thumb, index, and middle).
  7. 40:15 Drop…wisp of cloud…a speck: the smallest constituent parts of the cosmic waters, heavens, and earth mentioned in v. 12.
  8. 40:16 Lebanon…fuel: the famed cedars would not be enough to keep the fires of sacrifice burning.
  9. 40:19 Chains: needed to hold the idol steady when carried in processions; cf. v. 20; Jer 10:4.
  10. 40:26 Created: see note on Gn 1:1–2:3. By name: for he is their Creator.
  11. 40:27–28 The exiles, here called Jacob-Israel (Gn 32:29), must not give way to discouragement: their Lord is the eternal God.
  12. 41:1–4 Earlier prophets had spoken of the Assyrians and Babylonians as the Lord’s instruments for the punishment of Israel’s sins; here the Lord is described as raising up and giving victory to a foreign ruler in order to deliver Israel from the Babylonian exile. The ruler is Cyrus (44:28; 45:1), king of Anshan in Persia, a vassal of the Babylonians. He rebelled against the Babylonian overlords in 556 B.C., and after a series of victories, entered Babylon as victor in 539; the following year he issued a decree which allowed the Jewish captives to return to their homeland (2 Chr 36:22–23; Ezr 1:1–4). For Second Isaiah, the meteoric success of Cyrus was the work of the Lord to accomplish the deliverance promised by earlier prophets.
  13. 41:4 The first…the last: God as the beginning and end encompasses all reality. The same designation is used in 44:6 and 48:12.
  14. 41:14 Redeemer: in Hebrew, go’el, one who frees others from slavery and avenges their sufferings; cf. Lv 25:48; Dt 19:6, 12. Cf. note on Ru 2:20.
  15. 41:21–29 This indictment of Babylonian gods is patterned on a legal trial, in which they are challenged to prove power over events of history and so justify their status as gods (vv. 21–24). Israel’s God, on the other hand, has foretold and now brings to pass Israel’s deliverance (vv. 25–27). The accused are unable to respond (vv. 28–29). By such polemics (see also 43:12) the prophet declares that all gods other than the Lord are nonexistent; this implicit claim of monotheism later becomes explicit (see 43:10–11; 45:5–7, 14, 18, 21–22; 46:9; and note on 44:6).
  16. 41:22 Things of long ago…things to come: there are no predictions attributed to idols that have since been fulfilled. Second Isaiah makes frequent reference to “things of long ago,” sometimes in conjunction with “things to come” or “new things” in connection with the Lord’s activity (cf. 42:9; 43:9, 18; 46:9–10; 48:3–8); both the old things (e.g., creation, exodus) and the new things (release from exile) God brings to pass (cf. 51:9–11), which is why he can declare them beforehand.
  17. 41:25 I summon him: Cyrus.
  18. 42:1–4 Servant: three other passages have been popularly called “servant of the Lord” poems: 49:1–7; 50:4–11; 52:13–53:12. Whether the servant is an individual or a collectivity is not clear (e.g., contrast 49:3 with 49:5). More important is the description of the mission of the servant. In the early Church and throughout Christian tradition, these poems have been applied to Christ; cf. Mt 12:18–21.
  19. 42:3 Bruised reed…: images to express the gentle manner of the servant’s mission.
  20. 42:4 Coastlands: for Israel, the world to the west: the islands and coastal nations of the Mediterranean.
  21. 42:11 Kedar: cf. note on 21:16. Sela: Petra, the capital of Edom.
  22. 42:15–16 Active once more, God will remove the obstacles that hinder the exiles’ return, and will lead them by new roads to Jerusalem; cf. 40:3–4.
  23. 42:18–20 The Lord rebukes his people for their failures, but their role and their mission endure: they remain his servant, his messenger to the nations.
  24. 42:22 A people: Israel in exile.
  25. 42:24 Plunderers: the Assyrians and Babylonians. We…they: the switch from first- to third-person speech, though puzzling, does not obscure the fact that “the people” is meant.
  26. 43:3–4 Egypt…Ethiopia and Seba: countries which God permitted the Persians to conquer in return for having given Israel its freedom.
  27. 43:9 Who among them…?: God, and only God, can foretell the future because it is he who brings it to pass. The argument from prediction is an important theme in Second Isaiah and occurs also in 41:22; 43:10; 44:7–8, 26.
  28. 43:10 You are my witnesses: Israel’s role as chosen people now takes a new turn as they are given the active role of bearing witness before humankind to the Lord’s role in history by proclaiming events beforehand and bringing them to pass; see also 44:8. The false gods, on the other hand, cannot produce such witnesses (v. 9; cf. 44:9). I am he: this formula of self-identification, repeated in vv. 13 and 25, is used here to support the assertion that the Lord alone is God; see also 41:4; 46:4; 48:12; 51:12; 52:6. This expression in part may be behind the self-identification formula used by Jesus in John’s gospel (cf. Jn 8:58). Before…after: another example of the same assertion, that the Lord alone is God; see also note on 44:6.
  29. 43:14–17 The destruction of Babylon is described in language that recalls the drowning of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea (Ex 14–15).
  30. 43:18 Remember not: God’s new act of delivering Israel from the Babylonian captivity is presented as so great a marvel as to eclipse even the memory of the exodus from Egypt. This comparison of the return from Babylon to the exodus from Egypt recurs throughout Second Isaiah (cf. 41:17–20; 43:18–21; 48:20–21; 49:8–13; 51:9–11).
  31. 43:22–28 The reason for the liberation of the Israelites is not their constancy but rather God’s faithfulness to his promise (cf. 40:6–8).
  32. 43:24 Sweet cane: a fragrant substance used in making incense and the sacred anointing oil; cf. Ex 30:23; Jer 6:20.
  33. 43:27 First father: Jacob. Spokesmen: leaders, priests, prophets.
  34. 44:2 Jeshurun: see note on Dt 32:15; cf. also Dt 33:5, 26.
  35. 44:5 Write on his hand: an allusion to the Babylonian custom of tattooing the owner’s name on the hand of his slave.
  36. 44:6–8 Prediction and fulfillment are here seen as the hallmarks of true divinity. See note on 43:9.
  37. 44:6 No god but me: with Second Isaiah, Israel’s faith is declared to be explicitly monotheistic. However implicit it may have been, earlier formulas did not exclude the existence of other gods, not even that of the first commandment: “You shall not have other gods besides me” (Ex 20:3). Cf. also note on 41:21–29.
  38. 44:8 Rock: place of refuge, a title here used of God; cf., e.g., Dt 32:4, 18; 1 Sm 2:2; Ps 18:3.
  39. 44:9–20 A satire on the makers and worshipers of idols.
  40. 44:9 Their witnesses: Israel has been called to bear witness to the awesome power of God (cf. 43:10, 12; 44:8), but idol makers cannot testify in support of their creations, for idols cannot act (Dt 4:28; Ps 135:15–18).
  41. 44:13 Copy of a man: in the biblical view human beings are made in the image of God; here gods are made in the image of human beings.
  42. 44:20 Chasing ashes: an exercise in futility.
  43. 44:28 Cyrus: king of Persia (559–529 B.C.); cf. note on 41:1–4.
  44. 45:1 Anointed: in Hebrew, mashiah, from which the word “Messiah” is derived; from its Greek translation, Christos, we have the title “Christ.” Applied to kings, “anointed” originally referred only to those of Israel, but it is here given to Cyrus because he is the agent of the Lord.
  45. 45:2 Bronze doors: those defending the city gates of Babylon.
  46. 45:6 The nations will come to know that Israel’s God is the only God; cf. also vv. 20–25.
  47. 45:7 Create woe: God created and controls all aspects of creation (light and darkness, order and chaos).
  48. 45:8 The Vulgate rendering gave a messianic sense to this verse, using “just one” and “savior” in place of “justice” and “salvation,” phraseology taken over in the Advent liturgy, e.g., the “Rorate coeli.”
  49. 45:9 No one may challenge God’s freedom of action, exemplified here by the selection of Cyrus as his anointed.
  50. 45:13 Him: Cyrus, called by God for the deliverance and restoration of Israel. Justice: the Hebrew word (sedeq) has multiple connotations; here it relates to the saving victory that the Lord will give to Cyrus for the deliverance of his people Israel. This word and others from the same root frequently have this connotation in Second Isaiah, occurring as a parallel term with “deliverance,” “salvation,” etc. Cf. its use in 41:10 (rendered “victorious”) and 51:5 (rendered “victory”).
  51. 45:14 Egypt…Ethiopia…Sabeans: the Egyptians and their allies who, when conquered by Cyrus, are seen as acknowledging the God of Israel; cf. 43:3.
  52. 45:15 God is hidden: i.e., the one known only to Israel, who cannot be represented by wooden or molten images. The concept of the “Deus absconditus,” “the hidden God,” becomes an important theme in later theology.
  53. 45:18 Empty waste: an allusion to Gn 1:2, where the earth is waste and void; the same Hebrew word, tohu, is used in both passages. Here it points to devastated Judah and Jerusalem, where God wishes to resettle the returning exiles.
  54. 45:20 Who bear wooden idols: in their religious processions. Such gods have feet but cannot walk; cf. Ps 115:7; Bar 6:25.
  55. 46:1–4 Bel…Nebo: gods of Babylon; their complete helplessness is here contrasted with God’s omnipotence; whereas they must be carried about, the Lord carries Israel as a parent does a child.
  56. 46:11 From the east a bird of prey: Cyrus; cf. 41:2–4.
  57. 47:1–15 A taunt-song, mocking Babylon, once queen of the nations, now a mere slave.
  58. 47:8, 10 I, and no one else: Babylon is mockingly presented as making the same claim as the Lord (cf. 45:6, 14, 22; 46:9), a claim that events will soon prove to be false and foolish (v. 11).
  59. 47:9–13, 15 Babylon was known for its sorcery and astrology.
  60. 48:14 The one the Lord loves: the reference is no doubt to Cyrus, who does the Lord’s will by overcoming Babylon and releasing Israel from captivity.
  61. 48:16 “Now the Lord…spirit”: said by Cyrus; cf. v. 14.
  62. 48:22 No peace: while the good news proclaimed by the prophet is directed to the people as a whole, “peace,” which can represent the fullness of God’s blessings and which would here include deliverance from exile, is not extended to all regardless of disposition.
  63. 49:1–7 The second of the four “servant of the Lord” oracles (cf. note on 42:1–4).
  64. 49:1 Gave me my name: designated me for a special task or mission (cf. Jer 1:5).
  65. 49:3 Israel: the servant is identified with the people of Israel as their ideal representative; however, vv. 5–6 seem to distinguish the servant from Israel.
  66. 49:6 The servant’s vocation extends beyond the restoration of Israel in order to bring the knowledge of Israel’s God to the rest of the earth; cf. Lk 2:32.
  67. 49:8 You: the individual is not named; perhaps Cyrus or the prophet.
  68. 49:12 Syene: now called Aswan, at the first cataract of the Nile in southern Egypt.
  69. 49:16 Upon the palms…you: for continual remembrance; cf. Ex 13:9, 16; Dt 6:6–9.
  70. 50:1 Responding to the people’s complaint of utter abandonment by God, the prophet asserts that their sins were responsible for their banishment. Since there was no bill of divorce, the bond between the Lord and his people still exists and he has the power to deliver them (v. 2).
  71. 50:2 Israel’s faith in God is weak; the people do not answer God’s call, nor believe promises of deliverance.
  72. 50:4–11 The third of the four “servant of the Lord” oracles (cf. note on 42:1–4); in vv. 4–9 the servant speaks; in vv. 10–11 God addresses the people directly.
  73. 50:5 The servant, like a well-trained disciple, does not refuse the divine vocation.
  74. 50:6 He willingly submits to insults and beatings. Tore out my beard: a grave and painful insult.
  75. 50:10–11 The Lord offers a choice to those who walk in darkness: either trust in the true light (v. 10), or walk in their false light and suffer the consequences.
  76. 51:1 Rock…quarry: your glorious ancestry.
  77. 51:4–5 The conversion of the nations.
  78. 51:6 While the heavens and the earth appear eternal and changeless, they are not so firm and lasting as God’s saving will for Israel.
  79. 51:9 Rahab: see note on 30:7. The dragon: see notes on 27:1; Ps 74:12–17.
  80. 51:10 Great deep: a reference to the primeval chaos (cf. Gn 1:2; 7:11; 49:25; Jb 28:14; Ps 36:7; Jon 2:4).
  81. 52:7–10 God leads the people back from Babylon to Zion, from whose ruined walls sentinels greet the returning exiles.
  82. 52:11 From there: from Babylon. Vessels of the Lord: taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, now carried back by the exiles returning in procession to Zion; cf. Ezr 1:7.
  83. 52:13–53:12 The last of the “servant of the Lord” oracles (see note on 42:1–4). Taken together, these oracles depict a figure of one called by God for a vocation to Israel and the nations (42:4; 49:5–6); the servant’s exaltation both opens and closes the passage (52:13; 53:12). The servant responded in fidelity but has suffered opposition (50:4–6). In this fourth oracle the servant is characterized as “a man of suffering” (53:3) and appears to be unjustly put to death (53:8–9). Those who have witnessed his career somehow recognize that he is innocent, has undergone suffering for their sins (53:4–6), and his death is referred to as a reparation offering (see note on 53:10–11). The servant is described in ways that identify him with Israel (which is frequently referred to as “servant” in the context of Second Isaiah—e.g., 41:8, 9; 44:2, 21; 43:4) and is designated as “Israel” in 49:3; yet Israel outside the “servant of the Lord” oracles is not presented as sinless, but rather in exile because of sin (40:2; 42:21–25) and even as servant as deaf and blind (42:18–19). The servant is thus both identified with Israel and distinguished from it. As with the previous servant poems, this chapter helped the followers of Jesus to interpret his suffering, death, and resurrection; see especially the passion narratives.
  84. 53:1–10 What we have heard: this fourth servant oracle is introduced by words of the Lord (52:13–15) but is now continued by speakers who are not identified, perhaps those referred to in 52:15, perhaps Israel (cf. “struck for the sins of his people”—v. 8). The Lord is again the speaker in vv. 11–13.
  85. 53:4 Struck down by God: the Bible often sees suffering as a punishment for sin (e.g., Ps 6:2; 32:1–5), yet sin sometimes appears to go unpunished and the innocent often suffer (cf. Ps 73; the Book of Job). In the case of the servant, the onlookers initially judge him guilty because of his suffering but, in some way not explained, they come to understand that his sufferings are for the sins of others. One notes the element of surprise, for such vicarious suffering, in the form described here, is without parallel in the Old Testament.
  86. 53:6 The Lord laid upon him: the servant’s suffering is no accidental or casual matter, but part of God’s plan; see also v. 10. The bystanders’ speculation of v. 4 is verified, but not in the sense intended by them.
  87. 53:10–11 Reparation offering: the Hebrew term ’asham is used of a particular kind of sacrifice, one that is intended as compensation for that which is due because of guilt. See Lv 5:14–26 and note. Justify: the verb means “to be acquitted,” “declared innocent,” but since the servant bears “their iniquity,” an effective rather than simply legal action is suggested.
  88. 54:1 Jerusalem, pictured as a wife who had been barren and deserted, now suddenly finds herself with innumerable children (the returning exiles); cf. Gal 4:27 for an application to a new context.
  89. 54:3 Those who had taken advantage of the exile to encroach on Jerusalem’s territory will be driven out, and the returning exiles will repopulate the cities of Judah.
  90. 54:4–8 As with some other Old Testament themes, Second Isaiah uses that of Israel as the Lord’s bride in a new manner. Whereas Hosea and Jeremiah had depicted Israel as the Lord’s spouse to emphasize both Israel’s infidelity and the Lord’s continued love (Hos 1–3; Jer 2:2; 3:1–15) and Ezekiel to accuse Israel unsparingly (Ez 16; 23), Second Isaiah speaks only of the love with which the Lord restores the people, speaking tender words with no hint of reproach.
  91. 54:5 Redeemer: cf. note on 41:14.
  92. 54:10 Covenant of peace: this whole section, vv. 9–17, is given to various assurances of God’s love for Israel and of safety from various possible threats; the phrase sums up both the positive aspects of shalom, which implies a fullness of blessing, and protection from all that might harm. Cf. also 55:3; Nm 25:12; Ez 34:25; 37:26; Mal 2:5.
  93. 54:11 Afflicted one: Jerusalem.
  94. 55:1–3 The prophet invites all to return, under the figure of a banquet; cf. the covenant banquet in Ex 24:9–11 and wisdom’s banquet in Prv 9:1–6. The Lord’s covenant with David (2 Sm 7) is now to be extended beyond his dynasty.
  95. 55:5 The “nation” is Persia under Cyrus, but the perspective is worldwide.
  96. 55:6–9 The invitation to seek the Lord is motivated by the mercy of a God whose “ways” are completely mysterious.
  97. 55:10–11 The efficacy of the word of God recalls 40:5, 8.
  98. 55:13 Thornbush…nettles: suggestive of the desert and therefore symbolic of suffering and hardship; cypress…myrtle: suggestive of fertile land and therefore symbolic of joy and strength. To the Lord’s renown: lit., “to the name of the Lord.”
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

  Back

1 of 1

You'll get this book and many others when you join Bible Gateway Plus. Learn more

Viewing of
Cross references
Footnotes