שִׁמְעוּ אֵלַי רֹדְפֵי צֶדֶק מְבַקְשֵׁי יְהוָה הַבִּיטוּ אֶל־צוּר חֻצַּבְתֶּם וְאֶל־מַקֶּבֶת בֹּור נֻקַּרְתֶּם׃ 51:1
Isai. 51:1 Listen to me, followers of righteousness,
seekers of the Lord!
Look to the rock you were cut from,
and to the hole of the pit you were dug from.
Isaiah is using a metaphor of a rock quarry for the seekers of the Lord, for Israel. Israel was hewn from rock, so is everlasting.
הַבִּיטוּ אֶל־אַבְרָהָם אֲבִיכֶם וְאֶל־שָׂרָה תְּחֹולֶלְכֶם כִּי־אֶחָד קְרָאתִיו וַאֲבָרְכֵהוּ וְאַרְבֵּהוּ׃ 51:2
Isai. 51:2 Look to Abraham, your father,
and to Sarah -- she bore you.
“When he was but one, I called him,
and I blessed him and made him many.”
כִּי־נִחַם יְהוָה צִיֹּון נִחַם כָּל־חָרְבֹתֶיהָ וַיָּשֶׂם מִדְבָּרָהּ כְּעֵדֶן וְעַרְבָתָהּ כְּגַן־יְהוָה שָׂשֹׂון וְשִׂמְחָה יִמָּצֵא 51:3 בָהּ תֹּודָה וְקֹול זִמְרָה׃
Isai. 51:3 For the Lord pities Zion;
He pities her waste places,
and will make her wilderness like Eden
and her desert like the garden of the Lord.
He will cause gladness and rejoicing to come within her,
praise, and the sound of psalms.
הַקְשִׁיבוּ אֵלַי עַמִּי וּלְאוּמִּי אֵלַי הַאֲזִינוּ כִּי תֹורָה מֵאִתִּי תֵצֵא וּמִשְׁפָּטִי לְאֹור עַמִּים אַרְגִּיעַ׃ 51:4
Isai. 51:4 “Attend to Me, My people!
And My nation, give ear to Me!
For instruction shall go forth from Me,
and My order,
for I shall cause a light of the peoples to settle.”
קָרֹוב צִדְקִי יָצָא יִשְׁעִי וּזְרֹעַי עַמִּים יִשְׁפֹּטוּ אֵלַי אִיִּים יְקַוּוּ וְאֶל־זְרֹעִי יְיַחֵלוּן׃ 51:5
Isai. 51:5 “My righteousness is near,
My salvation is going forth,
and My ‘arms’ shall judge the peoples.
The islands shall gather together to Me,
and by My ‘shoulder’ they shall wait.”
שְׂאוּ לַשָּׁמַיִם עֵינֵיכֶם וְהַבִּיטוּ אֶל־הָאָרֶץ מִתַּחַת כִּי־שָׁמַיִם כֶּעָשָׁן נִמְלָחוּ וְהָאָרֶץ כַּבֶּגֶד תִּבְלֶה 51:6 וְיֹשְׁבֶיהָ כְּמֹו־כֵן יְמוּתוּן וִישׁוּעָתִי לְעֹולָם תִּהְיֶה וְצִדְקָתִי לֹא תֵחָת׃
Isai. 51:6 “Raise your eyes up to the heavens,
then look at the earth below,
for the heavens disappear like smoke
and the earth shall decay like a garment,
and so its inhabitants likewise shall die.
But My salvation shall be for ever,
and My righteousness shall not be abolished.
שִׁמְעוּ אֵלַי יֹדְעֵי צֶדֶק עַם תֹּורָתִי בְלִבָּם אַל־תִּירְאוּ חֶרְפַּת אֱנֹושׁ וּמִגִּדֻּפֹתָם אַל־תֵּחָתּוּ׃ 51:7
Isai. 51:7 “Listen to Me, perceivers of righteousness,
people of My Torah in their hearts!
You need not fear the reproach of men,
and let not their vilification discourage you.”
כִּי כַבֶּגֶד יֹאכְלֵם עָשׁ וְכַצֶּמֶר יֹאכְלֵם סָס וְצִדְקָתִי לְעֹולָם תִּהְיֶה וִישׁוּעָתִי לְדֹור דֹּורִים׃ 51:8
Isai. 51:8 “For a moth shall eat them like a garment,
and a bird shall eat them like wool;
so My justice shall be for ever,
and My salvation for all generations.”
עוּרִי עוּרִי לִבְשִׁי־עֹז זְרֹועַ יְהוָה עוּרִי כִּימֵי קֶדֶם דֹּרֹות עֹולָמִים הֲלֹוא אַתְּ־הִיא הַמַּחְצֶבֶת רַהַב 51:9 מְחֹולֶלֶת תַּנִּין׃
Isai. 51:9 Awaken, Awaken! Don strength,
agent of the Lord!
Awaken as in the days of old,
the generations of ancient times!
Are you not she who cut up Rahab,
who pierced the dragon?
Isaiah calls Israel the agent of the Lord. Rahab is thought to be a poetic name for Egypt, and the dragon is thought to be Pharoah.
הֲלֹוא אַתְּ־הִיא הַמַּחֲרֶבֶת יָם מֵי תְּהֹום רַבָּה הַשָּׂמָה מַעֲמַקֵּי־יָם דֶּרֶךְ לַעֲבֹר גְּאוּלִים׃ 51:10
Isai. 51:10 Are you not she who dried up the sea,
the waters of the great deep,
who made the depths of the sea
a pathway for passing over the redeemed?
The sea is the Reed Sea, that the Lord dried up to allow the Israelites, whom Isaiah calls the redeemed, to cross on dry land. Isaiah appears to be giving credit to the Israelites for the plagues of the Exodus (previous verse) and for this miracle. Odd! Perhaps it’s poetic license.
וּפְדוּיֵי יְהוָה יְשׁוּבוּן וּבָאוּ צִיֹּון בְּרִנָּה וְשִׂמְחַת עֹולָם עַל־רֹאשָׁם שָׂשֹׂון וְשִׂמְחָה יַשִּׂיגוּן נָסוּ יָגֹון 51:11 וַאֲנָחָה׃
Isai. 51:11 So the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and shall come to Zion in song,
and everlasting joy shall be on their heads.
Gladness and joy shall they grasp,
sorrow and sighing are fled.
אָנֹכִי אָנֹכִי הוּא מְנַחֶםְכֶם מִי־אַתְּ וַתִּירְאִי מֵאֱנֹושׁ יָמוּת וּמִבֶּן־אָדָם חָצִיר יִנָּתֵן׃ 51:12
Isai. 51:12 “Only I am He Who comforts you.
Who are you that you are afraid because man can die,
and because the son of man might be made of grass,
I see this verse as an important statement. But you should take into account that my translation differs from many others, maybe all of them, in that it is literal, exact. I need to add no words or assume anything about the Hebrew other than it says what is meant, which seems to be what other translators have not done. Their translations of the second and third lines come out something like, “who art thou, that thou art afraid of man that shall die, and the son of man that shall be made like grass?” They have to add two words and ignore two prepositions to make their translation read the way they assume. So they are interpreting the words of the Lord as saying that Israel should not fear men who are transient. But I’m interpreting the words of the Lord as saying that we should not be afraid of our own transience and death. I believe my translation is more reasonable, considering the context. What are the people afraid of after all? If they are being promised that they will return in gladness and joy (the previous verse), why would they be afraid of men? They would more likely be afraid of their not being among the survivors. Their lives would be seen as too transient. Isaiah is saying that the Lord is reassuring them that death is not a factor in their gladness and joy. Death counts for nothing.
וַתִּשְׁכַּח יְהוָה עֹשֶׂךָ נֹוטֶה שָׁמַיִם וְיֹסֵד אָרֶץ וַתְּפַחֵד תָּמִיד כָּל־הַיֹּום מִפְּנֵי חֲמַת הַמֵּצִיק כַּאֲשֶׁר 51:13
כֹּונֵן לְהַשְׁחִית וְאַיֵּה חֲמַת הַמֵּצִיק׃
Isai. 51:13 and have forgotten the Lord, your Maker,
Spreader of the heavens
and Setter of the foundation of the earth,
and are afraid continually every day
because of the fury of the oppressor
as he prepares to destroy?
So where is the fury of the oppressor?”
I believe that in Isaiah’s view, the Lord is saying in the last line, that the fury of the oppressor is as nothing.
מִהַר צֹעֶה לְהִפָּתֵחַ וְלֹא־יָמוּת לַשַּׁחַת וְלֹא יֶחְסַר לַחְמֹו׃ 51:14
Isai. 51:14 “Hastily the bent one is being set loose
so he will not die at the pit,
and he will not lack his bread.”
Is this a reference to the metaphor of v. 51:1? It might be that Isaiah is comparing the exodus from Egypt with the release from the oppressor.
וְאָנֹכִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ רֹגַע הַיָּם וַיֶּהֱמוּ גַּלָּיו יְהוָה צְבָאֹות שְׁמֹו׃ 51:15
Isai. 51:15 “So I am the Lord, your God,
stirring up the sea so that its waves roar.”
The Lord of hosts is His name.
וָאָשִׂים דְּבָרַי בְּפִיךָ וּבְצֵל יָדִי כִּסִּיתִיךָ לִנְטֹעַ שָׁמַיִם וְלִיסֹד אָרֶץ וְלֵאמֹר לְצִיֹּון עַמִּי־אָתָּה׃ 51:16
Isai. 51:16 “And I have put My words in your mouth,
but I concealed you in the shadow of My ‘hand,’
to plant the heavens and to lay the foundation of the earth,
then to say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’”
Here is more support for my contention that when the second-person pronoun is singular while addressing more than one person, it refers to the entire group as a whole. In the last line of this verse, the pronoun you is singular, and it refers to Zion, to the people as one.
הִתְעֹורְרִי הִתְעֹורְרִי קוּמִי יְרוּשָׁלִַם אֲשֶׁר שָׁתִית מִיַּד יְהוָה אֶת־כֹּוס חֲמָתֹו אֶת־קֻבַּעַת כֹּוס 51:17
הַתַּרְעֵלָה שָׁתִית מָצִית׃
Isai. 51:17 Arise, arise, endure, Jerusalem,
while you drink from the “hand” of the Lord
the cup of His “fury!”
You drink the dregs of the cup of trembling, you drain.
אֵין־מְנַהֵל לָהּ מִכָּל־בָּנִים יָלָדָה וְאֵין מַחֲזִיק בְּיָדָהּ מִכָּל־בָּנִים גִּדֵּלָה׃ 51:18
Isai. 51:18 There is no protector for her
out of all the sons she has borne,
and there is none who puts strength in her hand
out of all the sons she has raised.
שְׁתַּיִם הֵנָּה קֹרְאֹתַיִךְ מִי יָנוּד לָךְ הַשֹּׁד וְהַשֶּׁבֶר וְהָרָעָב וְהַחֶרֶב מִי אֲנַחֲמֵךְ׃ 51:19
Isai. 51:19 “Twice have I made these things come upon you.
Who might pity you the destruction
and the affliction and the famine and the sword?
Who? I shall comfort you.”
Here we have another deviation from standard translations. In the last line, others typically have “How shall I comfort you?” To do this, they have to mistranslate the next-to-last word in the verse. However, it is almost universally translated as who, as it is in the second line (the fourth word in the verse).
בָּנַיִךְ עֻלְּפוּ שָׁכְבוּ בְּרֹאשׁ כָּל־חוּצֹות כְּתֹוא מִכְמָר הַמְלֵאִים חֲמַת־יְהוָה גַּעֲרַת אֱלֹהָיִךְ׃ 51:20
Isai. 51:20 Your sons faint,
they lie at the beginning of all the streets
like the netted antelope,
full of the “fury” of the Lord,
the rebuke of your God.
לָכֵן שִׁמְעִי־נָא זֹאת עֲנִיָּה וּשְׁכֻרַת וְלֹא מִיָּיִן׃ 51:21
Isai. 51:21 Therefore hear now this,
afflicted and always drunk but not with wine:
כֹּה־אָמַר אֲדֹנַיִךְ יְהוָה וֵאלֹהַיִךְ יָרִיב עַמֹּו הִנֵּה לָקַחְתִּי מִיָּדֵךְ אֶת־כֹּוס הַתַּרְעֵלָה אֶת־קֻבַּעַת כֹּוס 51:22 חֲמָתִי לֹא־תֹוסִיפִי לִשְׁתֹּותָהּ עֹוד׃
Isai. 51:22 Thus says your Master, the Lord, and your God
-- He shall plead the cause of His people:
“Behold, I remove from your hand the cup of trembling,
the dregs of the cup of My ‘fury.’
You shall continue to drink it no more.”
וְשַׂמְתִּיהָ בְּיַד־מֹוגַיִךְ אֲשֶׁר־אָמְרוּ לְנַפְשֵׁךְ שְׁחִי וְנַעֲבֹרָה וַתָּשִׂימִי כָאָרֶץ גֵּוֵךְ וְכַחוּץ לַעֹבְרִים׃ 51:23
Isai. 51:23 “And I will put it into the hand of those who afflict you,
who say to your soul,
‘Fall down that we may go over!’
And you make your back like the ground,
and like the street, for those crossing.”
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