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Injustice Brings Alienation from God

59 Look, the Lord’s hand is not too weak[a] to deliver you;
his ear is not too deaf to hear you.[b]
But your sinful acts have alienated you from your God;
your sins have caused him to reject you and not listen to your prayers.[c]
For your hands are stained with blood
and your fingers with sin;
your lips speak lies,
your tongue utters malicious words.
No one is concerned about justice;[d]
no one sets forth his case truthfully.
They depend on false words[e] and tell lies;
they conceive of oppression[f]
and give birth to sin.
They hatch the eggs of a poisonous snake
and spin a spider’s web.
Whoever eats their eggs will die,
a poisonous snake is hatched.[g]
Their webs cannot be used for clothing;
they cannot cover themselves with what they make.
Their deeds are sinful;
they commit violent crimes.[h]
They are eager to do evil,[i]
quick to shed innocent blood.[j]
Their thoughts are sinful;
they crush and destroy.[k]
They are unfamiliar with peace;
their deeds are unjust.[l]
They use deceitful methods,
and whoever deals with them is unfamiliar with peace.[m]

Israel Confesses its Sin

For this reason deliverance[n] is far from us[o]
and salvation does not reach us.
We wait for light,[p] but see only darkness;[q]
we wait for[r] a bright light,[s] but live[t] in deep darkness.[u]
10 We grope along the wall like the blind,
we grope like those who cannot see;[v]
we stumble at noontime as if it were evening.
Though others are strong, we are like dead men.[w]
11 We all growl like bears,
we coo mournfully like doves;
we wait for deliverance,[x] but there is none,
for salvation, but it is far from us.
12 For you are aware of our many rebellious deeds,[y]
and our sins testify against us;
indeed, we are aware of our rebellious deeds;
we know our sins all too well.[z]
13 We have rebelled and tried to deceive the Lord;
we turned back from following our God.
We stir up[aa] oppression and rebellion;
we tell lies we concocted in our minds.[ab]
14 Justice is driven back;
godliness[ac] stands far off.
Indeed,[ad] honesty stumbles in the city square
and morality is not even able to enter.
15 Honesty has disappeared;
the one who tries to avoid evil is robbed.
The Lord watches and is displeased,[ae]
for there is no justice.

The Lord Intervenes

16 He sees there is no advocate;[af]
he is shocked[ag] that no one intervenes.
So he takes matters into his own hands;[ah]
his desire for justice drives him on.[ai]
17 He wears his desire for justice[aj] like body armor,[ak]
and his desire to deliver is like a helmet on his head.[al]
He puts on the garments of vengeance[am]
and wears zeal like a robe.
18 He repays them for what they have done,
dispensing angry judgment to his adversaries
and punishing his enemies.[an]
He repays the coastlands.[ao]
19 In the west, people respect[ap] the Lord’s reputation;[aq]
in the east they recognize his splendor.[ar]
For he comes like a rushing[as] stream
driven on by wind sent from the Lord.[at]
20 “A protector[au] comes to Zion,
to those in Jacob who repent of their rebellious deeds,”[av] says the Lord.

21 “As for me, this is my promise to[aw] them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is upon you, and my words, which I have placed in your mouth, will not depart from your mouth or from the mouths of your children and descendants from this time forward,”[ax] says the Lord.


  1. Isaiah 59:1 tn Heb “short” (so NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).
  2. Isaiah 59:1 tn Heb “or his ear too heavy [i.e., “dull”] to hear.”
  3. Isaiah 59:2 tn Heb “and your sins have caused [his] face to be hidden from you so as not to hear.”
  4. Isaiah 59:4 tn Heb “no one pleads with justice.”
  5. Isaiah 59:4 tn Heb “nothing”; NAB “emptiness.”
  6. Isaiah 59:4 tn Or “trouble” (NIV), or “harm.”
  7. Isaiah 59:5 tn Heb “that which is pressed in hatches [as] a snake.”
  8. Isaiah 59:6 tn Heb “their deeds are deeds of sin, and the work of violence [is] in their hands.”
  9. Isaiah 59:7 tn Heb “their feet run to evil.”
  10. Isaiah 59:7 tn Heb “they quickly pour out innocent blood.”
  11. Isaiah 59:7 tn Heb “their thoughts are thoughts of sin, destruction and crushing [are] in their roadways.”
  12. Isaiah 59:8 tn Heb “a way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their pathways.”
  13. Isaiah 59:8 tn Heb “their paths they make crooked; everyone who walks in it does not know peace.”
  14. Isaiah 59:9 tn מִשְׁפָּט (mishpat), which refers to “justice” in the earlier verses, here refers to “justice from God,” or “vindication.” Because the people are unjust, God refuses to vindicate them before their enemies. See v. 11.
  15. Isaiah 59:9 sn The prophet speaks on behalf of the sinful nation and confesses its sins.
  16. Isaiah 59:9 sn Light here symbolizes prosperity and blessing.
  17. Isaiah 59:9 tn Heb “but, look, darkness”; NIV “but all is darkness.”
  18. Isaiah 59:9 tn The words “we wait for” are supplied in the translation; the verb is understood by ellipsis (note the preceding line).
  19. Isaiah 59:9 tn The plural noun form may indicate degree here.
  20. Isaiah 59:9 tn Or “walk about”; NCV “all we have is darkness.”
  21. Isaiah 59:9 tn The plural noun form may indicate degree here.
  22. Isaiah 59:10 tn Heb “like there are no eyes.”
  23. Isaiah 59:10 tn Heb among the strong, like dead men.”
  24. Isaiah 59:11 tn See the note at v. 9.
  25. Isaiah 59:12 tn Heb “for many are our rebellious deeds before you.”
  26. Isaiah 59:12 tn Heb “indeed [or “for”] our rebellious deeds (are) with us, and our sins, we know them.”
  27. Isaiah 59:13 tn Heb “speaking.” A new sentence was started here in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  28. Isaiah 59:13 tn Heb “conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.”
  29. Isaiah 59:14 tn Or “righteousness” (ASV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); KJV, NAB “justice.”
  30. Isaiah 59:14 tn Or “for” (KJV, NRSV).
  31. Isaiah 59:15 tn Heb “and it is displeasing in his eyes.”
  32. Isaiah 59:16 tn Heb “man” (so KJV, ASV); TEV “no one to help.”
  33. Isaiah 59:16 tn Or “appalled” (NAB, NIV, NRSV), or “disgusted.”
  34. Isaiah 59:16 tn Heb “and his arm delivers for him.”
  35. Isaiah 59:16 tn Heb “and his justice [or “righteousness”] supports him.”
  36. Isaiah 59:17 tn Or “righteousness” (KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT); NCV “goodness.”
  37. Isaiah 59:17 tn Or “a breastplate” (traditional; so many English versions); TEV “a coat of armour.”
  38. Isaiah 59:17 tn Heb “and [as] a helmet deliverance on his head.”
  39. Isaiah 59:17 tn Heb “and he puts on the clothes of vengeance [as] a garment.”
  40. Isaiah 59:18 tn Heb “in accordance with deeds, so he repays, anger to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies.”
  41. Isaiah 59:18 tn Or “islands” (KJV, NIV).
  42. Isaiah 59:19 tc Heb “fear.” A few medieval Hebrew mss read “see.”
  43. Isaiah 59:19 tn Heb “and they fear from the west the name of the Lord.”
  44. Isaiah 59:19 tn Heb “and from the rising of the sun his splendor.”
  45. Isaiah 59:19 tn Heb “narrow”; NAB, NIV, NRSV “pent-up.”
  46. Isaiah 59:19 tn Heb “the wind of the Lord drives it on.” The term רוּחַ (ruakh) could be translated “breath” here (see 30:28).
  47. Isaiah 59:20 tn Or “redeemer.” See the note at 41:14.
  48. Isaiah 59:20 tn Heb “and to those who turn from rebellion in Jacob.”
  49. Isaiah 59:21 tn Or “my covenant with” (so many English versions); NCV “my agreement with.”sn The Lord promises the repentant (note “to them”) that they and their offspring will possess his spirit and function as his spokesmen. In this regard they follow in the footsteps of the Lord’s special servant. See 42:1; 49:2; 51:16.
  50. Isaiah 59:21 tn Heb “from now and on into the future.”

Sin, Confession and Redemption

59 Surely the arm(A) of the Lord is not too short(B) to save,
    nor his ear too dull to hear.(C)
But your iniquities have separated(D)
    you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
    so that he will not hear.(E)
For your hands are stained with blood,(F)
    your fingers with guilt.(G)
Your lips have spoken falsely,(H)
    and your tongue mutters wicked things.
No one calls for justice;(I)
    no one pleads a case with integrity.
They rely(J) on empty arguments, they utter lies;(K)
    they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.(L)
They hatch the eggs of vipers(M)
    and spin a spider’s web.(N)
Whoever eats their eggs will die,
    and when one is broken, an adder is hatched.
Their cobwebs are useless for clothing;
    they cannot cover themselves with what they make.(O)
Their deeds are evil deeds,
    and acts of violence(P) are in their hands.
Their feet rush into sin;
    they are swift to shed innocent blood.(Q)
They pursue evil schemes;(R)
    acts of violence mark their ways.(S)
The way of peace they do not know;(T)
    there is no justice in their paths.
They have turned them into crooked roads;(U)
    no one who walks along them will know peace.(V)

So justice is far from us,
    and righteousness does not reach us.
We look for light, but all is darkness;(W)
    for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.
10 Like the blind(X) we grope along the wall,
    feeling our way like people without eyes.
At midday we stumble(Y) as if it were twilight;
    among the strong, we are like the dead.(Z)
11 We all growl like bears;
    we moan mournfully like doves.(AA)
We look for justice, but find none;
    for deliverance, but it is far away.

12 For our offenses(AB) are many in your sight,
    and our sins testify(AC) against us.
Our offenses are ever with us,
    and we acknowledge our iniquities:(AD)
13 rebellion(AE) and treachery against the Lord,
    turning our backs(AF) on our God,
inciting revolt and oppression,(AG)
    uttering lies(AH) our hearts have conceived.
14 So justice(AI) is driven back,
    and righteousness(AJ) stands at a distance;
truth(AK) has stumbled in the streets,
    honesty cannot enter.
15 Truth(AL) is nowhere to be found,
    and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.

The Lord looked and was displeased
    that there was no justice.(AM)
16 He saw that there was no one,(AN)
    he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;(AO)
so his own arm achieved salvation(AP) for him,
    and his own righteousness(AQ) sustained him.
17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate,(AR)
    and the helmet(AS) of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments(AT) of vengeance(AU)
    and wrapped himself in zeal(AV) as in a cloak.
18 According to what they have done,
    so will he repay(AW)
wrath to his enemies
    and retribution to his foes;
    he will repay the islands(AX) their due.
19 From the west,(AY) people will fear the name of the Lord,
    and from the rising of the sun,(AZ) they will revere his glory.(BA)
For he will come like a pent-up flood
    that the breath(BB) of the Lord drives along.[a]

20 “The Redeemer(BC) will come to Zion,(BD)
    to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,”(BE)
declares the Lord.

21 “As for me, this is my covenant(BF) with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit,(BG) who is on you, will not depart from you,(BH) and my words that I have put in your mouth(BI) will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the Lord.


  1. Isaiah 59:19 Or When enemies come in like a flood, / the Spirit of the Lord will put them to flight