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.”
“Where is the certificate of divorce By which I have sent your mother away, [O Israel]? Or to which one of My creditors did I sell you [as slaves]? In fact, You were sold for your wickedness [your sin, your injustice, your wrongdoing], And for your transgressions your mother was sent away. 2 “Why, when I came, was there no man [to greet Me]? When I called, why was there no one to answer? Is My hand really so short that it cannot redeem [My servants]? Or have I no power to rescue? Listen carefully, with My rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers into a desert; Their fish stink because there is no water And die of thirst. 3 “I clothe the heavens with the blackness [of storm clouds] And make sackcloth [of mourning] their clothing.”
4 The Lord God has given Me [His [l]Servant] the tongue of disciples [as One who is taught], That I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple [as One who is taught]. 5 The Lord God has opened My ear, And I have not been rebellious Nor have I turned back. 6 I turned My back to those who strike Me, And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not hide My face from insults and spitting. 7 For the Lord God helps Me, Therefore, I have not been ashamed or humiliated. Therefore, I have made My face like flint, And I know that I shall not be put to shame. 8 He who declares Me in the right is near; Who will [dare to] contend with Me? Let us stand up to each other; Who is My adversary? Let him approach Me. 9 In fact, the Lord God helps Me; Who is he who condemns Me [as guilty]? Indeed, they will all wear out like a garment; The moth will eat them. 10 Who is among you who fears the Lord, Who obeys the voice of His Servant, Yet who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust and be confident in the name of the Lord and let him rely on his God. 11 Listen carefully, all you who kindle your own fire [devising your own man-made plan of salvation], Who surround yourselves with torches, Walk by the light of your [self-made] fire And among the torches that you have set ablaze. But this you will have from My hand: You will lie down in [a place of] torment.
51 “Listen to Me, you who pursue righteousness (right standing with God), Who seek and inquire of the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut And to the excavation of the quarry from which you were dug. 2 “Look to Abraham your father And to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain; For I called him when he was but one, Then I blessed him and made him many.” 3 For the Lord will comfort Zion [in her captivity]; He will comfort all her ruins. And He will make her wilderness like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the Lord; Joy and gladness will be found in her, Thanksgiving and the voice of a melody.
4 “Listen carefully to Me [says the Lord], O My people, And hear Me, O My nation; For a [divine] law will go forth from Me, And I will quickly establish My justice as a light to the peoples. 5 “My righteousness (justice) is near, My salvation has gone forth, And My arms will judge the peoples; The islands and coastlands will wait for Me, And they will wait with hope and confident expectation for My arm. 6 “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, Then look to the earth beneath; For the heavens will be torn to pieces and vanish like smoke, And the earth will wear out like a garment And its inhabitants will die in like manner. But My salvation will be forever, And My righteousness (justice) [and faithfully fulfilled promise] will not be broken. 7 “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness (right standing with God), The people in whose heart is My law and instruction; Do not fear the reproach and taunting of man, Nor be distressed at their reviling. 8 “For the moth will eat them like a garment, And the worm will eat them like wool. But My righteousness and justice [faithfully promised] will exist forever, And My salvation to all generations.”
9 Awake, awake, put on strength and might, O arm of the Lord; Awake as in the ancient days, as in the generations of long ago. Was it not You who cut Rahab (Egypt) in pieces, Who pierced the dragon [of Egypt]? 10 Was it not You who dried up the [Red] Sea, The waters of the great deep, Who made the depths of the sea a pathway For the redeemed to cross over? 11 So the redeemed of the Lord will return And come with joyful shouting to Zion; Everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, And sorrow and sighing will flee away.
12 “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies And of a son of man who is made [as destructible] as grass, 13 That you have forgotten the Lord your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens And laid the foundations of the earth, That you continually tremble with fear all day long because of the rage of the oppressor, As he takes aim to destroy? And where is the rage of the oppressor?
14 The [captive] exile will soon be set free, and will not die in the dungeon, nor will his food be lacking. 15 For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord of hosts is His name. 16 I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to [m]establish the [renewed] heavens and lay the foundations of the [renewed] earth, and to say to Zion (Jerusalem), ‘You are My people.’”
17 Wake yourself up! Wake yourself up! Stand up, O Jerusalem, You who have drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of His wrath, You who have drunk the cup of staggering and intoxication to the dregs [leaving only sediment]. 18 There is no one to guide her among all the sons she has borne, Nor is there anyone to take her by the hand among all the sons she has reared. 19 These two tragedies have befallen you; Who will show sympathy for you and mourn with you? The desolation and destruction [on the land and city], famine and sword [on the inhabitants]; How shall I comfort you? 20 Your sons have fainted; They lie helpless at the head of every street, Like an antelope in a net, Full [from drinking] of the wrath of the Lord, The rebuke of your God.
21 Therefore, now hear this, you who are afflicted, Who are drunk, but not with wine [but overwhelmed by the wrath of God]. 22 So says your Lord, the Lord, who is also your God Who pleads the cause of His people, “Listen carefully, I have taken from your hand the cup of staggering and intoxication, The cup of My wrath; You shall never drink it again. 23 “I will put it into the hands of your tormentors, Who have said to you, ‘Lie down so that we may walk over you.’ You have even made your back like the ground And like the street for those who walk over it.”
Cheer for Downtrodden Zion
52 Awake, awake, Put on your strength, O Zion; Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; For the uncircumcised and the unclean Will no longer come into you. 2 Shake yourself from the dust, arise, O captive Jerusalem; Rid yourself of the chains around your neck, O captive Daughter of Zion.
3 For the Lord says this, “You were sold for nothing and you will be redeemed, but not with money.” 4 For the Lord God says this, “My people went down at the first into Egypt to live there; and [many years later Sennacherib] the Assyrian oppressed them without cause. 5 But now, what do I have here,” declares the Lord, “seeing that My people have been taken away without reason? Those who rule over them howl [with taunting and mockery of salvation],” declares the Lord, “and My name is continually blasphemed all day long.6 Therefore My people shall know My Name and what it means. Therefore in that day I am the One who is speaking, ‘Here I am.’”
7 How beautiful and delightful on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace, Who brings good news of good [things], Who announces salvation, Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” 8 Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices, Together they shout for joy; For they will see face to face The return of the Lord to Zion. 9 Break forth, shout joyfully together, You ruins of Jerusalem; For the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem. 10 The Lord has bared His holy arm (His infinite power) Before the eyes of all the nations [revealing Himself as the One by Whom Israel is redeemed from captivity], That all the ends of the earth may see The salvation of our God.
11 Depart, depart, go out from there (the lands of exile), Touch no unclean thing; Go out of the midst of her (Babylon), purify yourselves, You who carry the articles of the Lord [on your journey from there]. 12 For you will not go out in a hurry [as when you left Egypt], Nor will you go in flight [fleeing, as you did from the Egyptians]; For the Lord will go before you, And the God of Israel will be your rear guard.
The Exalted Servant
13 Indeed, My Servant (the Messiah) will act wisely and prosper; He will be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted. 14 Just as many were astonished and appalled at you, My people, So His appearance was marred more than any man And His form [marred] more than the sons of men. 15 So He will sprinkle many nations [with His blood, providing salvation], Kings will shut their mouths because of Him; For what they had not been told they will see, And what they had not heard they will understand.
The Suffering Servant
53 Who has believed [confidently trusted in, relied on, and adhered to] our message [of salvation]? And to whom [if not us] has the arm and infinite power of the Lord been revealed? 2 For He [the Servant of God] grew up before Him like a tender shoot (plant), And like a root out of dry ground; He has no stately form or majestic splendor That we would look at Him, Nor [handsome] appearance that we would [n]be attracted to Him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and pain and acquainted with grief; And like One from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or esteem Him.
4 But [in fact] He has borne our griefs, And He has carried our sorrows and pains; Yet we [ignorantly] assumed that He was stricken, Struck down by God and degraded and humiliated [by Him]. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing]; The punishment [required] for our well-being fell on Him, And by His stripes (wounds) we are healed. 6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, We have turned, each one, to his own way; But the Lord has caused the wickedness of us all [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing] To fall on Him [instead of us].
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth [to complain or defend Himself]; Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before her shearers, So He did not open His mouth. 8 [o]After oppression and judgment He was taken away; And [p]as for His generation [His contemporaries], who [among them] concerned himself with the fact That He was cut off from the land of the living [by His death] For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke [of death] was due? 9 His grave was assigned with the wicked, But He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
10 Yet the Lord was [q]willing To crush Him, [r]causing Him to suffer; If [s]He would give Himself as a guilt offering [an atonement for sin], He shall see His [spiritual] offspring, He shall prolong His days, And the will (good pleasure) of the Lord shall succeed and prosper in His hand. 11 As a result of the [t]anguish of His soul, He shall see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge [of what He has accomplished] the Righteous One, My Servant, shall justify the many [making them righteous—upright before God, in right standing with Him], For He shall bear [the responsibility for] their sins. 12 Therefore, I will divide and give Him a portion with the great [kings and rulers], And He shall divide the spoils with the mighty, Because He [willingly] poured out His life to death, And was counted among the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore and took away the sin of many, And interceded [with the Father] for the transgressors.
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.
Isaiah 50:1An ancient rabbi suggested this as an answer that God gave to Isaiah in response to Jews who came to him, but refused to repent. They compared themselves to a wife divorced by her husband and to a slave sold by his master (referring to God as husband and master), claiming that they had no further obligations to God.
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