46 Bel has bowed down, Nebo stoops over; Their idols are on the beasts [of burden] and on the cattle. Your burdens [of idols] are loaded [on them], Burdens on the weary animals. 2 They stooped over, they have bowed down together; They could not rescue the burden [of their own idols], But have themselves gone into captivity.
3 “Listen to Me,” [says the Lord], “O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel, You who have been carried by Me from your birth And have been carried [in My arms] from the womb, 4 Even to your old age I am He, And even to your advanced old age I will carry you! I have made you, and I will carry you; Be assured I will carry you and I will save you.
5 “To whom would you liken Me And make Me equal and compare Me, That we may be alike? 6 “Those who lavish gold from the bag And weigh out silver on the scales Hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god; They bow down, indeed they worship it. 7 “They lift it on their shoulders [in religious processions or into battle] and carry it; They set it in its place and there it remains standing. It cannot move from its place. Even if one cries to it [for help], the idol cannot answer; It cannot save him from his distress.
8 “Remember this, and take courage; Take it to heart, you rebellious and disloyal people. 9 “Remember [carefully] the former things [which I did] from ages past; For I am God, and there is no one else; I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end and the result from the beginning, And from ancient times the things which have not [yet] been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will do all that pleases Me and fulfills My purpose,’ 11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, From a far country, the man (Cyrus) of My purpose. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, be assured I will do it.
12 “Listen to Me, you stiff-necked people, You who are far from righteousness (right standing with God). 13 “I bring near My righteousness [in the salvation of Israel], it is not far away; And My salvation will not delay. And I will grant salvation in Zion, And My glory for Israel.
Lament for Babylon
47 “Come down and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon; Sit on the ground [in abject humiliation]; there is no throne for you, O daughter of the [a]Chaldeans, For you will no longer be called tender and delicate. 2 “Take millstones [as a female slave does] and grind meal; Remove your veil, strip off the skirt, Uncover the leg, cross the rivers [at the command of your captors]. 3 “Your nakedness will be uncovered, Your shame will also be exposed; I will take vengeance and will spare no man.” 4 Our Redeemer [will do all this], the Lord of hosts is His name, The Holy One of Israel. 5 “Sit in silence, and go into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans; For you will no longer be called The queen of kingdoms. 6 “I was angry with My people, I profaned [Judah] My inheritance And gave them into your hand [Babylon]. You showed them no mercy; You made your yoke very heavy on the aged. 7 “And you said, ‘I shall be a queen forevermore.’ You did not consider these things, Nor did you [seriously] remember the [ultimate] outcome of such conduct.
8 “Now, then, hear this, you who live a luxuriant life, You who dwell safely and securely, Who say in your heart (mind), ‘I am [the queen], and there is no one besides me. I shall not sit as a widow, Nor know the loss of children.’ 9 “But these two things shall come to you abruptly, in one day: Loss of children and widowhood. They will come on you in full measure In spite of your many [claims of power through your] sorceries, In spite of the great power of your enchantments. 10 “For you [Babylon] have trusted and felt confident in your wickedness; you have said, ‘No one sees me.’ Your wisdom and your knowledge have led you astray, And you have said in your heart (mind), ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’ 11 “Therefore disaster will come on you; You will not know how to make it disappear [with your magic]. And disaster will fall on you For which you cannot atone [with all your offerings to your gods]; And destruction about which you do not know Will come on you suddenly.
12 “Persist, then, [Babylon] in your enchantments And your many sorceries With which you have labored from your youth; Perhaps you will be able to profit [from them], Perhaps you may prevail and cause trembling. 13 “You [b]are wearied by your many counsels. Just let the astrologers, The stargazers, Those who predict by the new moons [each month] Stand up and save you from the things that will come upon you [Babylon]. 14 “In fact, they are like stubble; Fire burns them. They cannot save themselves from the power of the flame [much less save the nation], There is no blazing coal for warming Nor fire before which to sit! 15 “This is how they have become to you, those [astrologers and sorcerers] with whom you have labored, Those who have done business with you from your youth; Each has wandered in his own way. There is no one to save you.
48 “Hear this, O house of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel And who come from the [c]seed of Judah, You who swear [allegiance] by the name of the Lord And invoke the God of Israel, But not in truth (sincerity) nor in righteousness [with moral and spiritual integrity]. 2 “For they call themselves [citizens of Jerusalem] after the holy city And depend on the God of Israel; The Lord of hosts is His name. 3 “I have declared the former things [which happened to Israel] in times past; They went forth from My mouth and I proclaimed them; Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass. 4 “Because I know that you are obstinate, And your neck is an iron tendon And your brow is bronze [both unyielding], 5 I have declared them to you long ago; Before they came to pass I announced them to you, So that you could not say, ‘My idol has done them, And my carved image and my cast image have commanded them.’ 6 “You have heard [these things foretold]; look at all this [that has been fulfilled]. And you, will you not declare it? I proclaim to you [specific] new things from this time, Even [d]hidden things which you have not known. 7 “They are created now [called into being by the prophetic word] and not long ago; And before today you have not heard of them, So that you will not say, ‘Oh yes! I knew them.’ 8 “You have not heard, you have not known; Even from long ago your ear has not been open. For I [the Lord] knew that you [Israel] would act very treacherously; You have been called a transgressor and a rebel from birth. 9 “For the sake of My Name I refrain from My wrath, And for My praise I restrain Myself from you, So that I do not cut you off. 10 “Indeed, I have refined you, but not as [e]silver; I have tested and chosen you in the furnace of affliction. 11 “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it [I refrain and do not completely destroy you]; For how can My Name be defiled and profaned [as it would if My chosen people were completely destroyed]? And I will not give My glory to another [by permitting the worshipers of idols to triumph over you].
End of Captivity Promised
12 “Listen to Me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called; I am He, I am the First, I am the Last. 13 “My hand founded and established the earth, And My right hand spread out the heavens; When I call to them, they stand together [in obedience to carry out My decrees]. 14 “Assemble, all of you, and listen! Who among them [the idols and Chaldean astrologers] has declared these things? The Lord loves him (Cyrus of Persia); he will do His pleasure and purpose against Babylon, And his arm will be against the Chaldeans [who reign in Babylon]. 15 “I, even I, have spoken; indeed, I have called Cyrus; I have brought him, and will make his way successful. 16 “Come near to Me, listen to this: From the beginning I have not spoken in secret, From the time that it happened, I was there. And now the Lord God has sent Me, and His [Holy] Spirit.”
17 This is what the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says,
“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit (benefit), Who leads you in the way that you should go. 18 “Oh, that you had paid attention to My commandments! Then your peace and prosperity would have been like a [flowing] river, And your righteousness [the holiness and purity of the nation] like the [abundant] waves of the sea. 19 “Your offspring would have been like the sand, And your descendants [in number] like the grains of sand; Their name would never be cut off or destroyed from My presence.”
20 Get out of Babylon! Flee from the Chaldeans [who reign there]! Declare with a voice of jubilation, proclaim this, Send it out to the end of the earth; Say, “The Lord has redeemed His servant Jacob.” 21 They did not thirst when He led them through the deserts. He made the waters flow out of the rock for them; He split the rock and the waters flowed. 22 “There is no peace for the wicked,” says the Lord.
Salvation Reaches to the End of the Earth
49 Listen to [f]Me, O islands and coastlands, And pay attention, you peoples from far away. The Lord has called Me from the womb; From the body of My mother He has named Me. 2 He has made My mouth like a sharp sword, In the shadow of His hand He has kept Me hidden; And He has made Me a sharpened arrow, In His quiver He has hidden Me. 3 And [the Lord] said to Me, “You are My [g]Servant, Israel, In Whom I will show My glory.” 4 Then I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity (pride, uselessness); However My justice is with the Lord, And My reward is with My God.”
5 And now says the Lord, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him and that Israel might be gathered to Him, —For I am honored in the eyes of the Lord, And My God is My strength— 6 He says, “It is too trivial a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the [h]survivors of Israel; I will also make You a light to the nations That My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” 7 This is what the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, Israel’s Holy One says, To the thoroughly despised One, To the One hated by the nation To the Servant of rulers, “[i]Kings will see and arise, Princes shall also bow down, Because of the Lord who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel who has chosen You.”
8 This is what the Lord says, “In a [j]favorable time I have answered You, And in a day of salvation I have helped You; And I will keep watch over You and give You for a covenant of the people, To restore the land [from its present state of ruin] and to apportion and give as inheritances the deserted hereditary lands, 9 Saying to those who are bound and captured, ‘Go forth,’ And to those who are in [spiritual] darkness, ‘Show yourselves [come into the light of the Savior].’ They will feed along the roads [on which they travel], And their pastures will be on all the bare heights. 10 “They will not hunger or thirst, Nor will the scorching heat or sun strike them down; For He who has compassion on them will lead them, And He will guide them to springs of water. 11 “And I will make all My mountains a roadway, And My highways will be raised. 12 “In fact, these will come from far away; And, lo, these shall come from the north and from the west, And these from the land of [k]Aswan (southern Egypt).” 13 Shout for joy, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth, And break forth into singing, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted His people And will have compassion on His afflicted.
Promise to Zion
14 But Zion (Jerusalem in captivity) said, “The Lord has abandoned me, And my Lord has forgotten me.” 15 [The Lord answered] “Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. 16 “Indeed, I have inscribed [a picture of] you on the [l]palms of My hands; Your city walls [Zion] are continually before Me. 17 “Your [m]builders hurry; Your destroyers and devastators Will go away from you. 18 “Lift up your eyes and look around [at the returning exiles]; All these gather together and they come to you [to rebuild you]. As I live,” declares the Lord, “You [Zion] will indeed clothe yourself with all of them as jewels and tie them on as a bride. 19 “For your ruins and desolate places and your land [once the scene] of destruction— Certainly now [in the coming years] will be too cramped for the inhabitants, And those who once engulfed you will be far away. 20 “The children of your bereavement [those born in captivity] will yet say in your ears, ‘The place is too cramped for me’; Make room for me that I may live here. 21 “Then [Zion], you will say in your heart, ‘Who has borne me these children, Since I have been bereaved of my children And am barren, an exile and a wanderer? And who has reared these? Indeed, I was left alone; [n]From where then did these children come?’”
22 This is what the Lord God says,
“Listen carefully, I will lift up My hand to the [Gentile] nations And set up My banner to the peoples; And they will bring your sons in the fold of their garments, And your daughters will be carried on their shoulders. 23 “Kings will be your attendants, And their princesses your nurses. They will bow down to you with their faces to the earth And lick the dust of your feet; And you shall know [with an understanding based on personal experience] that I am the Lord; For they shall not be put to shame who wait and hope expectantly for Me.
24 “Can the spoils of war be taken from the mighty man, Or the captives of a tyrant be rescued?”
25 Indeed, this is what the Lord says,
“Even the captives of the mighty man will be taken away, And the tyrant’s spoils of war will be rescued; For I will contend with your opponent, And I will save your children. 26 “I will make those who oppress you consume their own flesh [in mutually destructive wars] And they will become drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine; And all [o]mankind will know [with a knowledge grounded in personal experience] that I, the Lord, am your Savior And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”
Isaiah 48:10The melting of silver requires a relatively low heat.
Isaiah 49:1The upper case pronouns here and in the following verses reflect the position that Isaiah is referring to the Messiah, the divine Servant and Son of God. Some have argued that Isaiah is referring instead to himself or to Israel (see v 3 and the note there).
Isaiah 49:3At first glance it would seem that Israel is the servant. However, many scholars maintain that the Messiah is being addressed as Israel because He represents and fulfills what Israel as a nation was meant to be: the source of salvation to the world. Note also that in v 6 the Servant is destined to restore Israel, which indicates that He is not Israel itself.
Isaiah 49:7Rising and bowing down are both gestures of respect: kings arise from their thrones.
Isaiah 49:8One ancient rabbi explained this as a time predestined for good.
Isaiah 49:12A reading favored by DSS; MT has Sinim, traditionally interpreted as China, which is unlikely. The Greek (LXX) indicates Persia, the Latin (Vulgate) has “southern land.”
Isaiah 49:16In Jewish tradition there is a story representing Israel as God’s daughter, who asks Him to stamp a seal of her on His heart and arm (Song 8:6). God replies that such a seal cannot always be seen, so He has instead inscribed her upon His palms.
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