Notes for Isa 50:1LEB

Yahweh challenges the exiles (Zion’s children) to bring incriminating evidence against him. The rhetorical questions imply that Israel accused Yahweh of divorcing his wife (Zion) and selling his children (the Israelites) into slavery to pay off a debt.


Yahweh admits that he did sell the Israelites, but it was because of their sins, not because of some debt he owed. If he had sold them to a creditor, they ought to be able to point him out, but the preceding rhetorical question implies they would not be able to do so.


Yahweh admits he did divorce Zion, but that too was the result of the nation’s sins. The force of the earlier rhetorical question comes into clearer focus now. The question does not imply that a certificate does not exist and that no divorce occurred. Rather, the question asks for the certificate to be produced so the accuser can see the reason for the divorce in black and white. Yahweh did not put Zion away arbitrarily.


Notes for Isa 50:2LEB

The present tense translation of the verbs assumes that Yahweh is questioning why Israel does not attempt to counter his arguments. Another possibility is to take the verbs as referring to past events: "Why did no one meet me when I came? Why did no one answer when I called?" In this case Yahweh might be asking why Israel rejected his calls to repent and his offer to deliver them.


"short" (so NAB, NASB, NIV).


Or "ransom" (NAB, NASB, NIV).


"with my rebuke."


"the fish stink from lack of water and die from thirst."


Notes for Isa 50:4LEB

"has given to me a tongue of disciples."


Verses Isa 50:4–11LEB contain the third of the so-called servant songs, which depict the career of Yahweh’s special servant, envisioned as an ideal Israel (Isa 49:3LEB) who rescues the exiles and fulfills Yahweh’s purposes for the world. Here the servant alludes to opposition (something hinted at in Isa 49:4LEB), but also expresses his determination to persevere with Yahweh’s help.


"to know [?] the weary with a word." Comparing it with Arabic and Aramaic cognates yields the meaning of "help, sustain." Nevertheless, the meaning of עוּת (’ut) is uncertain. The word occurs only here in the OT (see BDB 736 s.v.). Various scholars have suggested an emendation to עָנוֹת (’anot) from עָנָה (’anah, "answer"): "so that I know how to respond kindly to the weary." Since the Qumran scroll 1QIsa and the Vulgate support the MT reading, that reading is retained.


"he arouses for me an ear, to hear like disciples."


Notes for Isa 50:5LEB

Or perhaps, "makes me obedient." The text reads literally, "has opened for me an ear."


Notes for Isa 50:6LEB

Or perhaps, "who beat [me]."


Notes for Isa 50:7LEB

"Therefore I set my face like flint."


Notes for Isa 50:8LEB

"Let us stand together!"


"Who is the master of my judgment?"


"let him approach me"; NAB, NIV "Let him confront me."


Notes for Isa 50:10LEB

"[who] listens to the voice of his servant?" The interrogative is understood by ellipsis (note the preceding line).


The plural indicates degree. Darkness may refer to exile and/or moral evil.


Notes for Isa 50:11LEB

Several more recent commentators have proposed an emendation of מְאַזְּרֵי (azzére, "who put on") to מְאִירִי (iri, "who light"). However, both Qumran scrolls of Isaiah and the Vulgate support the MT reading (cf. NIV, ESV).


On the meaning of זִיקוֹת (ziqot, "flaming arrows"), see HALOT 268 s.v. זִיקוֹת.


The imperative is probably rhetorical and has a predictive force.


Or perhaps, "flame" (so ASV).


Perhaps the servant here speaks to his enemies and warns them that they will self-destruct.


"from my hand" (so NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).


The imagery may be that of a person who becomes ill and is forced to lie down in pain on a sickbed. Some see this as an allusion to a fiery place of damnation because of the imagery employed earlier in the verse.