Notes for Isa 49:1LEB

Or "islands" (NASB, NIV); NLT "in far-off lands."


Yahweh’s special servant, introduced in chap. 42, speaks here of his commission.


"called me from the womb."


"from the inner parts of my mother he mentioned my name."


Notes for Isa 49:2LEB

Or perhaps, "polished" (so KJV, ASV, NAB, NIV, NRSV); NASB "a select arrow."


The figurative language emphasizes the servant’s importance as Yahweh’s effective instrument. The servant’s mouth, which stands metonymically for his words, is compared to a sharp sword because he will be an effective spokesman on Yahweh’s behalf (see Isa 50:4LEB). Yahweh holds his hand on the servant, ready to draw and use him at the appropriate time. The servant is like a sharpened arrow reserved in a quiver for just the right moment.


Notes for Isa 49:3LEB

This verse identifies the servant as Israel. This seems to refer to the exiled nation (cf. Isa 41:8–9LEB; Isa 44:1–2LEB, 21LEB; Isa 45:4LEB; Isa 48:20LEB), but in vv. 5–6 this servant says he has been commissioned to reconcile Israel to Yahweh, so he must be distinct from the exiled nation. This servant is an ideal "Israel" who, like Moses of old, mediates a covenant for the nation (see v. 8), leads them out of bondage (v. 9a), and carries out Yahweh’s original plan for Israel by positively impacting the pagan nations (see v. 6b). By living according to Yahweh’s law, Israel was to be a model of Yahweh’s standards of justice to the surrounding nations (Deut 4:6–8LEB). The sinful nation failed, but the servant, the ideal "Israel," will succeed by establishing justice throughout the earth.


Notes for Isa 49:4LEB

Or "said" (KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); NLT "I replied."


"for nothing and emptiness." Synonyms are combined to emphasize the common idea.


"But my justice is with Yahweh, and my reward [or "wage"] with my Yahweh."


Notes for Isa 49:5LEB

"from the womb" (so KJV, NASB).


The words "he did this" are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. In the Hebrew text the infinitive construct of purpose is subordinated to the previous statement.


The vav (ו) + imperfect is translated here as a result clause; one might interpret it as indicating purpose, "and so I might be honored."


"and my Yahweh is [perhaps, "having been"] my strength." The disjunctive structure (vav [ו] + subject + verb) is interpreted here as indicating a causal circumstantial clause.


Notes for Isa 49:6LEB

"the protected [or "preserved"] ones."


The question is purely rhetorical; it does not imply that the servant was dissatisfied with his commission or that he minimized the restoration of Israel.


See the note at Isa 42:6LEB.


"be" (so KJV, ASV); CEV "you must take."


Notes for Isa 49:7LEB

"redeemer." See the note at Isa 41:14LEB.


See the note on the phrase "the Holy One of Israel" in Isa 1:4LEB.


The Hebrew text reads literally "to [one who] despises life." It is preferable to read with the Qumran scroll 1QIsa לבזוי, which should be vocalized as a passive participle, לִבְזוּי (livzuy, "to the one despised with respect to life" [נֶפֶשׁ is a genitive of specification]). The consonantal sequence וי was probably misread as ה in the MT tradition. The contextual argument favors the 1QIsa reading. As J. N. Oswalt (Isaiah [NICOT], 2:294) points out, the three terse phrases "convey a picture of lowliness, worthlessness, and helplessness."


MT’s Piel participle ("to the one who rejects") does not fit contextually. The form should be revocalized as a Pual, "to the one rejected."


Parallelism (see "rulers," "kings," "princes") suggests that the singular גּוֹי (goy) be emended to a plural or understood in a collective sense (see Isa 55:5LEB).


For this sense of קוּם (qum), see Gen 19:1LEB; Gen 23:7LEB; Gen 33:10LEB; Lev 19:32LEB; 1 Sam 20:41LEB; 1 Sam 25:41LEB; 1 Kgs 2:19LEB; Job 29:8LEB.


Notes for Isa 49:8LEB

The translation assumes the verb is derived from the root נָצָר (natsar, "protect"). Some prefer to derive it from the root יָצָר (yatsar, "form").


"a covenant of people." A person cannot literally be a covenant; בְּרִית (bérit) is probably metonymic here, indicating a covenant mediator. Here עָם (’am, "people") appears to refer to Israel. See the note at Isa 42:6LEB.


The Hiphil of קוּם (qum, "arise") is probably used here in the sense of "rebuild."


The "land" probably stands by metonymy for the ruins within it.


Notes for Isa 49:9LEB

"to say." In the Hebrew text the infinitive construct is subordinated to what precedes.


"in darkness" (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV); NLT "the prisoners of darkness."


"show yourselves" (so ASV, NAB, NASB).


Notes for Isa 49:10LEB

"and the heat and the sun will not strike them." In Isa 35:7LEB, its only other occurrence in the OT, שָׁרָב (sharav) stands parallel to "parched ground" and in contrast to "pool." In later Hebrew and Aramaic it refers to "dry heat, heat of the sun" (Jastrow 1627 s.v.). Here it likely has this nuance and forms a hendiadys with "sun."


Notes for Isa 49:12LEB

The MT reads "Sinim" here; the Dead Sea Scrolls read "Syene," a location in Egypt associated with modern Aswan. A number of recent translations adopt this reading: "Syene" (NAB, NRSV); "Aswan" (NIV); "Egypt" (NLT).


The precise location of the land of Sinim is uncertain, but since the north and west are mentioned in the previous line, it was a probably located in the distant east or south.


Notes for Isa 49:13LEB

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


"his" (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).


Notes for Isa 49:14LEB

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


Notes for Isa 49:15LEB

"her suckling"; NASB "her nursing child."


"so as not to have compassion on the son of her womb?"


"these" (so ASV, NASB).


The argument of v. 15 seems to develop as follows: Yahweh has an innate attachment to Zion, just like a mother does for her infant child. But even if mothers were to suddenly abandon their children, Yahweh would never forsake Zion. In other words, Yahweh’s attachment to Zion is like a mother’s attachment to her infant child, but even stronger.


Notes for Isa 49:16LEB

"you." Here the pronoun is put by metonymy for the person’s name.


Notes for Isa 49:18LEB

"Lift up around your eyes and see."


Notes for Isa 49:19LEB

"Indeed your ruins and your desolate places, and the land of your destruction." This statement is abruptly terminated in the Hebrew text and left incomplete.


Notes for Isa 49:20LEB

"me." The singular is collective.


"draw near to me so I can dwell."


Notes for Isa 49:21LEB

"and you will say in your heart."


Or "exiled and thrust away"; NIV "exiled and rejected."


Notes for Isa 49:23LEB

"your," but Zion here stands by metonymy for her children (see v. 22b).


"you." See the preceding note.


Or "at your feet" (NAB, NIV); NLT "from your feet."


Notes for Isa 49:24LEB

The Hebrew text has צָדִיק (tsadiq, "a righteous [one]"), but this makes no sense in the parallelism. The Qumran scroll 1QIsa reads correctly עריץ ("violent [one], tyrant"; see v. 25).


Notes for Isa 49:26LEB

Verse 26a depicts siege warfare and bloody defeat. The besieged enemy will be so starved they will their own flesh. The bloodstained bodies lying on the blood-soaked battle site will look as if they collapsed in drunkenness.


"flesh" (so KJV, NASB).


"your redeemer." See the note at Isa 41:14LEB.


"the powerful [one] of Jacob." See Isa 1:24LEB.