49 Listen to [a]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 [b]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 [c]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, “[d]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 [e]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 [f]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 [g]palms of My hands; Your city walls [Zion] are continually before Me. 17 “Your [h]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; [i]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 [j]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 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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