Notes for Isa 51:1LEB

Or "righteousness" (KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); NAB "justice"; NLT "hope for deliverance."


"the excavation of the hole."


The "rock" and "quarry" refer here to Abraham and Sarah, the progenitors of the nation.


Notes for Isa 51:2LEB

Although Abraham and Sarah are distant ancestors of the people the prophet is addressing, they are spoken of as the immediate parents.


"one"; NLT "was alone"; TEV "was childless."


"Bless" may here carry the sense of "endue with potency, reproductive power." See Gen 1:28LEB.


"and I made him numerous."


Notes for Isa 51:3LEB

"found in" (so NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).


Notes for Isa 51:4LEB

Or "certainly."


"instruction [or "a law"] will go out from me."


"and my justice for a light to the nations I will cause to rest."


Notes for Isa 51:5LEB

"my righteousness [or "vindication"] is near."


"my deliverance goes forth."


"and my arms will judge [on behalf of] nations."


Or "islands" (NIV); TEV "Distant lands."


"for my arm" (so NIV, NRSV).


Notes for Isa 51:6LEB

"will be torn in pieces." The perfect indicates the certitude of the event, from Yahweh’s rhetorical perspective.


"my deliverance." The same Hebrew word can also be translated "salvation" (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT); cf. CEV "victory."


"my righteousness [or "vindication"]."


"will not be shattered [or "dismayed"]."


Notes for Isa 51:7LEB

"people (who have) my law in their heart."


Notes for Isa 51:8LEB

"my vindication"; many English versions "my righteousness"; NRSV, TEV "my deliverance"; CEV "my victory."


Notes for Isa 51:9LEB

The arm of Yahweh is a symbol of divine military power. Here it is personified and told to arouse itself from sleep and prepare for action.


"Are you not the one who smashed?" The feminine singular forms agree grammatically with the feminine noun "arm." The Hebrew text has ַהמַּחְצֶבֶת (hammakhtsevet), from the verbal root חָצַב (khatsav, "hew, chop"). The Qumran scroll 1QIsa has, probably correctly, המחצת, from the verbal root מָחַץ (makhats, "smash") which is used in Job 26:12LEB to describe Yahweh’s victory over "the Proud One."


This title (רַהַב, rahav, "proud one") is sometimes translated as a proper name: "Rahab" (cf. NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV). It is used here of a symbolic sea monster, known elsewhere in the Bible and in Ugaritic myth as Leviathan. This sea creature symbolizes the forces of chaos that seek to destroy the created order. In the Bible "the Proud One" opposes Yahweh’s creative work, but is defeated (see Job 26:12LEB; Ps 89:10LEB). Here the title refers to Pharaoh’s Egyptian army that opposed Israel at the Red Sea (see v. 10, and note also Isa 30:7LEB and Ps 87:4LEB, where the title is used of Egypt).


The words "did you not" are understood by ellipsis (note the preceding line). The rhetorical questions here and in v. 10 expect the answer, "Yes, you certainly did!"


Hebrew תַּנִּין (tannin) is another name for the symbolic sea monster. See the note at Isa 27:1LEB. In this context the sea creature represents Egypt. See the note on the title "Proud One" earlier in this verse.


Notes for Isa 51:10LEB

The Hebrew text reads literally, "Are you not the one who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made…?"


"the redeemed" (so ASV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); KJV "the ransomed."


Notes for Isa 51:11LEB

"[will be] on their head[s]." "Joy" may be likened here to a crown (cf. 2 Sam 1:10LEB). The statement may also be an ironic twist on the idiom "earth/dust on the head" (cf. 2 Sam 1:2LEB; 2 Sam 13:19LEB; 2 Sam 15:32LEB; Job 2:12LEB), referring to a mourning practice.


"overtake" (so NIV); NASB "they will obtain."


"grief and groaning will flee."


Notes for Isa 51:12LEB

The plural suffix should probably be emended to the second masculine singular (which is used in v. 13). The final mem (ם) is probably dittographic; note the mem at the beginning of the next word.


"Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, and of the son of man who [as] grass is given up?" The feminine singular forms should probably be emended to the masculine singular (see v. 13). They have probably been influenced by the construction אַתְּ־הִיא (’at-hi’) in vv. 9–10.


Notes for Isa 51:13LEB

"and that you forget."


Or "the heavens" (also in v. 16). The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated "heavens" or "sky" depending on the context.


"and that you tremble constantly all the day."


The question anticipates the answer, "Ready to disappear!" See v. 14.


Notes for Isa 51:14LEB

"who is stooped over" (under a burden).


"the pit" (so KJV); ASV, NAB "die and go down into the pit"; NASB, NIV "dungeon"; NCV "prison."


"he will not lack his bread."


Notes for Isa 51:16LEB

The addressee (second masculine singular, as in vv. 13, 15) in this verse is unclear. The exiles are addressed in the immediately preceding verses (note the critical tone of vv. 12–13 and the reference to the exiles in v. 14). However, it seems unlikely that they are addressed in v. 16, for the addressee appears to be commissioned to tell Zion, who here represents the restored exiles, "you are my people." The addressee is distinct from the exiles. The language of v. 16a is reminiscent of Isa 49:2LEB and Isa 50:4LEB, where Yahweh’s special servant says he is Yahweh’s spokesman and effective instrument. Perhaps Yahweh, having spoken to the exiles in vv. 1–15, now responds to this servant, who spoke just prior to this in Isa 50:4–11LEB.


"I place my words in your mouth."


"with the shadow of my hand."


The Hebrew text has לִנְטֹעַ (lintoa’, "to plant"). Several scholars prefer to emend this form to לִנְטֹת (lintot) from נָטָה (natah, "to stretch out"); see v. 13, as well as Isa 40:22LEB; Isa 42:5LEB; Isa 44:24LEB; Isa 45:12LEB; cf. NAB, NCV, NRSV. However, since the Qumran scroll 1QIsa, LXX (and Aquila and Symmachus), and Vulgate support the MT reading, there is no need to emend the form. The interpretation is clear enough: Yahweh fixed the sky in its place.


The infinitives in v. 16b are most naturally understood as indicating the purpose of the divine actions described in v. 16a. The relationship of the third infinitive to the commission is clear enough – Yahweh has made the addressee (his special servant?) his spokesman so that the latter might speak encouraging words to those in Zion. But how do the first two infinitives relate? The text seems to indicate that Yahweh has commissioned the addressee so that the latter might create the universe! Perhaps creation imagery is employed metaphorically here to refer to the transformation that Jerusalem will experience (see Isa 65:17–18LEB).


Notes for Isa 51:17LEB

"[you] who have drunk from the hand of Yahweh the cup of his anger."


"the goblet, the cup [that causes] staggering, you drank, you drained."


Notes for Isa 51:19LEB

The Hebrew text has אֲנַחֲמֵךְ (’anakhamekh), a first person form, but the Qumran scroll 1QIsa reads correctly יִנַחֲמֵךְ (yinakhamekh), a third person form.


Notes for Isa 51:20LEB

"those who are full of the anger of Yahweh, the shout [or "rebuke"] of your Yahweh."


Notes for Isa 51:22LEB

The Hebrew term translated "sovereign master" here is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay).


"the cup of [= that causes] staggering" (so ASV, NAB, NRSV); NASB "the cup of reeling."


"the goblet of the cup of my anger."


Notes for Isa 51:23LEB

That is, to make them drink it.