Expiation of Sin, Redemption of Israel
Message to Israel[a]
1 Listen to me, O coastlands.
Pay attention, you distant peoples.
The Lord called me before I was born;
while I was still in my mother’s womb
he gave me my name.
2 He made my tongue like a sharp sword
and hid me in the shadow of his hand.
He formed me into a polished arrow,
and he concealed me in his quiver.
3 He said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, through whom I will manifest my glory.”
4 I formerly believed that I had labored in vain
and had exhausted my strength for nothing
and for no discernible purpose.
5 Yet now the Lord has spoken;
he formed me in the womb to be his servant
so that I could bring back Jacob to him
and enable Israel to be gathered to him.
For I am honored in the sight of the Lord,
and my God is the source of my strength.
6 It is not enough for you to be my servant, he says,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the survivors of Israel.
I will make you a light to the nations
so that my salvation may reach
to the ends of the earth.
7 Thus says the Lord,
the redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,
to the one who is despised
and whom the people abhor,
the slave of tyrants:
Kings will rise up when they see you,
and princes will prostrate themselves in homage,
because of the Lord who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel who has chosen you.
The Deliverance and Restoration of Zion
8 [b]Thus says the Lord:
In a time of my favor I have answered you;
on the day of salvation I have helped you.
I have formed you and have destined you
to be a covenant to the people,
to restore the land
and to allot the desolate heritages,
9 to say to the prisoners, “Come out,”
and to those who are in darkness, “Show yourselves.”
They will find sustenance along the way,
and any bare height will serve as their pasture.
10 They will not hunger or thirst,
and neither scorching wind nor sun will weaken them,
for he who pities them will lead them,
and he will guide them beside springs of water.
11 I will blaze a path through all my mountains,
and my roads will be level.
12 Behold, some will come from far away,
others from the north and the west,
and still others from the land of Syene.[c]
13 Sing for joy, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth;
break forth into song, O mountains.
For the Lord has comforted his people,
and he will show mercy to his afflicted ones.
14 But Zion cried out, “The Lord has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
15 Can a woman forget the infant at her breast;
or feel no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.
16 Behold, I have inscribed your name
on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before my eyes.
17 Those who rebuild you do so far more swiftly
than those who destroyed you.
18 Lift up your eyes and look around you;
they are all gathering to come to you.
As I live, says the Lord,
you will put all of them on like jewels;
you will adorn yourself with them like a bride.
19 You had lived in a desolate wasteland,
amid devastated ruins.
Now the land is too tiny for its inhabitants,
while those who destroyed you will be far away.
20 The children born during your bereavement
will say in your hearing,
“This place is too cramped for me;
make room for me to live in.”
21 Then you will say to yourself,
“Who bore these children for me?
I was bereaved and barren,
I was exiled and repudiated;
who has reared them?
I was left all alone;
where then have these come from?”
22 Thus says the Lord God:
Behold, I will beckon to the nations
and raise my signal to the peoples.
Then they will bring your sons in their arms,
and they will carry your daughters on their shoulders.
23 Kings will be your foster-fathers,
and their princesses will serve as your nursing mothers.
They will bow down to you
with their faces to the ground
and lick the dust from your feet.
Then you will know that I am the Lord;
those who hope in me will not be disappointed.
24 Can spoil be taken from a warrior,
or can the tyrant’s captives be set free?
25 Thus says the Lord:
Even a warrior’s captives can be rescued,
and booty can be retrieved from a tyrant.
I myself will contend with those who oppose you,
and I will deliver your children.
26 I will force your oppressors to eat their own flesh,
and they will become drunk on their own blood
as if with wine.
Then all mankind will know
that I, the Lord, am your Savior
and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
- Isaiah 49:1 The mysterious unknown personage will be called by God and come to revive the hopes of the disappointed repatriates; he is depicted as a prophet whose words have divine power (Jer 1:9); through him God will renew the covenant with his people.
- Isaiah 49:8 The following chapters no longer speak either of Cyrus or of Babylon; their attention is focused entirely on the restoration of Jerusalem and the joy of the people as they return to the Promised Land. A new age is beginning, and the holy city will be seen rising from ruins and becoming the capital in which the glory of the Lord is manifested. But amid those hymns to the future, the figure of the Servant insistently reappears, as though to give a deeper foundation for the hope.
- Isaiah 49:12 Syene: the Elephantine of the Greeks; the modern Aswan near the first cataract of the Nile, on the border of Upper Egypt. A Jewish community existed there from the sixth century B.C.