New English Translation
Zion Will Be Secure
54 “Shout for joy, O barren one who has not given birth!
Give a joyful shout and cry out, you who have not been in labor!
For the children of the desolate one are more numerous
than the children of the married woman,” says the Lord.
2 Make your tent larger,
stretch your tent curtains farther out![a]
Spare no effort,
lengthen your ropes,
and pound your stakes deep.[b]
3 For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
your children will conquer[c] nations
and will resettle desolate cities.
4 Don’t be afraid, for you will not be put to shame.
Don’t be intimidated,[d] for you will not be humiliated.
You will forget about the shame you experienced in your youth;
you will no longer remember the disgrace of your abandonment.[e]
5 For your husband is the one who made you—
the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name.
He is your Protector,[f] the Holy One of Israel.[g]
He is called “God of the entire earth.”
6 “Indeed, the Lord will call you back
like a wife who has been abandoned and suffers from depression,[h]
like a young wife when she has been rejected,” says your God.
7 “For a short time I abandoned[i] you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
8 In a burst[j] of anger I rejected you[k] momentarily,
but with lasting devotion I will have compassion on you,”
says your Protector,[l] the Lord.
9 “As far as I am concerned, this is like in Noah’s time,[m]
when I vowed that the waters of Noah’s flood[n] would never again cover the earth.
In the same way I have vowed that I will not be angry at you or shout at you.
10 Even if the mountains are removed
and the hills displaced,
my devotion will not be removed from you,
nor will my covenant of friendship[o] be displaced,”
says the Lord, the one who has compassion on you.
11 “O afflicted one, driven away,[p] and unconsoled!
Look, I am about to set your stones in antimony,
and lay your foundation with lapis lazuli.
12 I will make your pinnacles out of gems,[q]
your gates out of beryl,[r]
and your outer wall[s] out of beautiful[t] stones.
13 All your children will be followers of the Lord,
and your children will enjoy great prosperity.[u]
14 You will be reestablished when I vindicate you.[v]
You will not experience oppression;[w]
indeed, you will not be afraid.
You will not be terrified,[x]
for nothing frightening[y] will come near you.
15 If anyone dares to[z] challenge you, it will not be my doing!
Whoever tries to challenge you will be defeated.[aa]
16 Look, I create the craftsman,
who fans the coals into a fire
and forges a weapon.[ab]
I create the destroyer so he might devastate.
17 No weapon forged to be used against you will succeed;
you will refute everyone who tries to accuse you.[ac]
This is what the Lord will do for his servants—
I will vindicate them,”[ad]
says the Lord.
The Lord Gives an Invitation
55 “Hey,[ae] all who are thirsty, come to the water!
You who have no money, come!
Buy and eat!
Come! Buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.[af]
2 Why pay money for something that will not nourish you?[ag]
Why spend[ah] your hard-earned money[ai] on something that will not satisfy?
Listen carefully[aj] to me and eat what is nourishing![ak]
Enjoy fine food.[al]
3 Pay attention and come to me.
Listen, so you can live.[am]
Then I will make an unconditional covenantal promise to[an] you,
just like the reliable covenantal promises I made to David.[ao]
4 Look, I made him a witness to nations,[ap]
a ruler and commander of nations.”
5 Look, you will summon nations[aq] you did not previously know;
nations[ar] that did not previously know you will run to you,
because of the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel,[as]
for he bestows honor on you.
6 Seek the Lord while he makes himself available;[at]
call to him while he is nearby!
7 The wicked need to abandon their lifestyle[au]
and sinful people their plans.[av]
They should return[aw] to the Lord, and he will show mercy to them,[ax]
and to their God, for he will freely forgive them.[ay]
8 “Indeed,[az] my plans[ba] are not like[bb] your plans,
and my deeds[bc] are not like[bd] your deeds,” says the Lord,
9 “for just as the sky[be] is higher than the earth,
so my deeds[bf] are superior to[bg] your deeds
and my plans[bh] superior to your plans.
10 [bi] The rain and snow fall from the sky
and do not return,
but instead water the earth
and make it produce and yield crops,
and provide seed for the planter and food for those who must eat.
11 In the same way, the promise that I make
does not return to me, having accomplished nothing.[bj]
No, it is realized as I desire
and is fulfilled as I intend.”[bk]
12 Indeed you will go out with joy;
you will be led along in peace;
the mountains and hills will give a joyful shout before you,
and all the trees in the field will clap their hands.
13 Evergreens will grow in place of thorn bushes,
firs will grow in place of nettles;
they will be a monument to the Lord,[bl]
a permanent reminder that will remain.[bm]
- Isaiah 54:2 tn Heb “the curtains of your dwelling places let them stretch out.”
- Isaiah 54:2 tn Heb “your stakes strengthen.”
- Isaiah 54:3 tn Or “take possession of”; NAB “shall dispossess.”
- Isaiah 54:4 tn Or “embarrassed”; NASB “humiliated…disgraced.”
- Isaiah 54:4 tn Another option is to translate, “the disgrace of our widowhood” (so NRSV). However, the following context (vv. 6-7) refers to Zion’s husband, the Lord, abandoning her, not dying. This suggests that an אַלְמָנָה (ʾalmanah) was a woman who had lost her husband, whether by death or abandonment.
- Isaiah 54:5 tn Or “redeemer.” See the note at 41:14.
- Isaiah 54:5 sn See the note on the phrase “the Holy One of Israel” in 1:4.
- Isaiah 54:6 tn Heb “like a woman abandoned and grieved in spirit.”
- Isaiah 54:7 tn Or “forsook” (NASB).
- Isaiah 54:8 tn According to BDB 1009 s.v. שֶׁטֶף the noun שֶׁצֶף here is an alternate form of שֶׁטֶף (shetef, “flood”). Some relate the word to an alleged Akkadian cognate meaning “strength.”
- Isaiah 54:8 tn Heb “I hid my face from you.”
- Isaiah 54:8 tn Or “redeemer.” See the note at 41:14.
- Isaiah 54:9 tc The Hebrew text reads literally, “For [or “indeed”] the waters of Noah [is] this to me.” כִּי־מֵי (ki-me, “for the waters of”) should be emended to כִּימֵי (kime, “like the days of”), which is supported by the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa and all the ancient versions except LXX.
- Isaiah 54:9 tn Heb “the waters of Noah” (so NAB, NIV, NRSV).
- Isaiah 54:10 tn Heb “peace” (so many English versions); NLT “of blessing.”
- Isaiah 54:11 tn Or, more literally, “windblown, storm-tossed.”
- Isaiah 54:12 tn Perhaps, “rubies” (so ASV, NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).
- Isaiah 54:12 tn On the meaning of אֶקְדָּח (ʾeqdakh), which occurs only here, see HALOT 82 s.v.
- Isaiah 54:12 tn Heb “border” (so ASV); NASB “your entire wall.”
- Isaiah 54:12 tn Heb “delightful”; KJV “pleasant.”
- Isaiah 54:13 tn Heb “and great [will be] the peace of your sons.”
- Isaiah 54:14 tn Heb “in righteousness [or “vindication”] you will be established.” The precise meaning of צְדָקָה (tsedaqah) here is uncertain. It could mean “righteousness, justice,” indicating that the city will be a center for justice. But the context focuses on deliverance, suggesting that the term means “deliverance, vindication” here.
- Isaiah 54:14 tn Heb “Be far from oppression!” The imperative is used here in a rhetorical manner to express certainty and assurance. See GKC 324 §110.c.
- Isaiah 54:14 tn Heb “from terror.” The rhetorical command, “be far” is understood by ellipsis here. Note the preceding context.
- Isaiah 54:14 tn Heb “it,” i.e., the “terror” just mentioned.
- Isaiah 54:15 tn The infinitive absolute precedes the finite verb here for emphasis.
- Isaiah 54:15 tn Heb “will fall over you.” The expression נָפַל עַל (nafal ʿal) can mean “attack,” but here it means “fall over to,” i.e., “surrender to.”
- Isaiah 54:16 tn Heb “who brings out an implement for his work.”
- Isaiah 54:17 tn Heb “and every tongue that rises up for judgment with you will prove to be guilty.”
- Isaiah 54:17 tn Heb “this is the inheritance of the servants of the Lord, and their vindication from me.”
- Isaiah 55:1 tn The Hebrew term הוֹי (hoy, “woe, ah”) was used in funeral laments and is often prefixed to judgment oracles for rhetorical effect. But here it appears to be a simple interjection, designed to grab the audience’s attention. Perhaps there is a note of sorrow or pity. See BDB 223 s.v.
- Isaiah 55:1 sn The statement is an oxymoron. Its ironic quality adds to its rhetorical impact. The statement reminds one of the norm (one must normally buy commodities) as it expresses the astounding offer. One might paraphrase the statement: “Come and take freely what you normally have to pay for.”
- Isaiah 55:2 tn Heb “for what is not food.”
- Isaiah 55:2 tn The interrogative particle and the verb “spend” are understood here by ellipsis (note the preceding line).
- Isaiah 55:2 tn Heb “your labor,” which stands by metonymy for that which one earns.
- Isaiah 55:2 tn The infinitive absolute follows the imperative and lends emphasis to the exhortation.
- Isaiah 55:2 tn Heb “good” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV).
- Isaiah 55:2 tn Heb “Let your appetite delight in fine food.”sn Nourishing, fine food here represents the blessings God freely offers. These include forgiveness, a new covenantal relationship with God, and national prominence (see vv. 3-6).
- Isaiah 55:3 tn The jussive with vav (ו) conjunctive following the imperative indicates purpose/result.sn To live here refers to covenantal blessing, primarily material prosperity and national security (see vv. 4-5, 13, and Deut 30:6, 15, 19-20).
- Isaiah 55:3 tn Or “an eternal covenant with.”
- Isaiah 55:3 tn Heb “the reliable expressions of loyalty of David.” The syntactical relationship of חַסְדֵי (khasde, “expressions of loyalty”) to the preceding line is unclear. If the term is appositional to בְּרִית (berit, “covenant”), then the Lord here transfers the promises of the Davidic covenant to the entire nation. Another option is to take חַסְדֵי (khasde) as an adverbial accusative and to translate “according to the reliable covenantal promises.” In this case the new covenantal arrangement proposed here is viewed as an extension or perhaps fulfillment of the Davidic promises. A third option, the one reflected in the above translation, is to take the last line as comparative. In this case the new covenant being proposed is analogous to the Davidic covenant. Verses 4-5, which compare David’s international prominence to what Israel will experience, favors this view. In all three of these interpretations, “David” is an objective genitive; he is the recipient of covenantal promises. A fourth option would be to take David as a subjective genitive and understand the line as giving the basis for the preceding promise: “Then I will make an unconditional covenantal promise to you, because of David’s faithful acts of covenantal loyalty.”
- Isaiah 55:4 sn Ideally the Davidic king was to testify to the nations of God’s greatness (cf. Pss 18:50 HT [18:49 ET]; 22:28 HT [22:27 ET]). See J. H. Eaton, Kingship in the Psalms (SBT), 182-84.
- Isaiah 55:5 tn Heb “a nation,” but the singular is collective here, as the plural verbs in the next line indicate (note that both “know” and “run” are third plural forms).
- Isaiah 55:5 tn Heb “a nation,” but the singular is collective here, as the plural verbs that follow indicate.
- Isaiah 55:5 sn See the note on the phrase “the Holy One of Israel” in 1:4.
- Isaiah 55:6 tn Heb “while he allows himself to be found.” The Niphal form has a tolerative force here.
- Isaiah 55:7 tn Heb “Let the wicked one abandon his way.” The singular is collective.
- Isaiah 55:7 tn Heb “and the man of evil his thoughts.” The singular is collective.
- Isaiah 55:7 tn Heb “let him return.” The singular is collective, meaning “let them.”
- Isaiah 55:7 tn The imperfect with vav (ו) conjunctive after the jussive indicates purpose/result.
- Isaiah 55:7 sn The appeal and promise of vv. 6-7 echoes the language of Deut 4:25-31; 30:1-10; and 1 Kgs 8:46-53, all of which anticipate the exile and speak of the prerequisites for restoration.
- Isaiah 55:8 tn Or “For” (KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV).
- Isaiah 55:8 tn Or “thoughts” (so many English versions).
- Isaiah 55:8 tn Heb “are not.” “Like” is interpretive, but v. 9 indicates that a comparison is in view.
- Isaiah 55:8 tn Heb “ways” (so many English versions).
- Isaiah 55:8 tn Heb “are not.” “Like” is interpretive, but v. 9 indicates that a comparison is in view.
- Isaiah 55:9 tn Or “the heavens.” The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heavens” or “sky” depending on the context.
- Isaiah 55:9 tn Heb “ways” (so many English versions).
- Isaiah 55:9 tn Heb “are higher than.”
- Isaiah 55:9 tn Or “thoughts” (so many English versions).
- Isaiah 55:10 tn This verse begins in the Hebrew text with כִּי כַּאֲשֶׁר (ki kaʾasher, “for, just as”), which is completed by כֵּן (ken, “so, in the same way”) at the beginning of v. 11. For stylistic reasons, this lengthy sentence is divided up into separate sentences in the translation.
- Isaiah 55:11 tn Heb “so is the word which goes out from my mouth, it does not return to me empty.” “Word” refers here to divine promises, like the ones made just prior to and after this (see vv. 7b, 12-13).
- Isaiah 55:11 tn Heb “but it accomplishes what I desire, and succeeds in what I commission it with.”sn Verses 8-11 focus on the reliability of the divine word and support the promises before (vv. 3-5, 7b) and after (vv. 12-13) this. Israel can be certain that repentance will bring forgiveness and a new covenantal relationship because God’s promises are reliable. In contrast to human plans (or “thoughts”), which are destined to fail (Ps 94:11) apart from divine approval (Prov 19:21), and human deeds (or “ways”), which are evil and lead to destruction (Prov 1:15-19; 3:31-33; 4:19), God’s plans are realized, and his deeds accomplish something positive.
- Isaiah 55:13 tn Heb “to the Lord for a name.” For שֵׁם (shem) used in the sense of “monument,” see also 56:5, where it stands parallel to יָד (yad).
- Isaiah 55:13 tn Or, more literally, “a permanent sign that will not be cut off.”