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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 49

Verses 1-6

Isaiah 49:1-6 . The Preparation of Yahweh’ s Servant, and its Purpose (the second Servant Song).— The Servant of Yahweh speaks, bidding the far lands hearken; for them he has a glorious message, which is, however, not uttered at once but forms the climax of the song ( Isaiah 49:6). “ Yahweh has from my earliest days ordained and nominated me to be His Servant. My mouth He has made like a keen blade, for I am to speak for Him a piercing word. Like an arrow saved in the quiver for a special quarry He has made me ready against the time. But when He told me that He would use me to His glory I answered, ‘ With no result have I exhausted my strength: yet my right and reward are in Yahweh’ s keeping.’ But now the moment has come. Yahweh purposes to bring His exiles home, and I am glorified in His sight, and He is become my strength. Nor will this task suffice Him: He will make me a light for the nations to achieve a world-wide deliverance.”

Isaiah 49:4 . judgement: render “ right,” i.e. what is due to me.

Isaiah 49:5 . This very difficult and certainly corrupt verse has been variously construed and emended. Read perhaps, “ And now Yahweh that formed . . . servant, promiseth to bring Jacob again to him and to gather Israel.” It is Yahweh, not the Servant, who brings back Jacob.

Isaiah 49:6 . that thou shouldest be my servant: delete as an incorrect gloss.— salvation: i.e. deliverance; read mg.

Verses 7-12

Isaiah 49:7-12 . The Glorious Home-Coming of the Exiles.— To Israel, despised and oppressed, Yahweh promises a reversal of fortune so wonderful that kings in astonishment shall do homage to Israel, recognising him as Yahweh’ s chosen. When the time is ripe Yahweh responds to his appeal. He will preserve him and restore him to the deserted homeland, bidding the exiles and prisoners come forth. He, their shepherd, will feed them on their way through the barren country. Nor shall the sirocco or the sun’ s heat strike them, for He will lead them from the most distant dispersion by tree-shaded streams, along a road miraculously made over mountain and plain.

Isaiah 49:7 . Read, “ whom nations abhor.”— rulers: in bad sense, “ tyrants.”— worship: render, “ do homage.”

Isaiah 49:8 . acceptable time: a time of favour. The perfects are perfects of certainty, “ I will answer,” “ I will help.”— Render, “ raising up,” “ making” ; the subject is Yahweh.

Isaiah 49:10 . heat: i.e. the hot wind (LXX). Mg. is wrong; a mirage cannot “ smite” ( Isaiah 35:7 *).— Sinim: possibly Syene in the S. of Egypt, where there was certainly a settlement of Jews in the fifth century B.C.

Verse 13

Isaiah 49:13 . A Short Lyric Appended to the Foregoing.

Verses 14-21

Isaiah 49:14-21 . Jerusalem shall be Forthwith Rebuilt and Repeopled.— Zion has believed herself forgotten of Yahweh. But though a mother should forget her babe He will not forget Zion. His plan for rebuilding it He has cut upon the palms of His hands that it may be ever before Him. Zion’ s builders ( mg.) shall speedily get to work, while her destroyers shall haste out of the city. From all sides the dispersed people return; they shall be to the newly-built city as ornaments to a new-made wife. Though all the waste places be made habitable (?) still the people shall more than fill them. Oppressors shall be far away. Those born while the city lay desolate are so many as on their return to strive in Zion’ s hearing for room. And Zion shall ask herself in bewilderment, “ Who hath borne and reared me these when I was childless?” ( cf. Genesis 16:2).

Isaiah 49:18 . Cf. Jeremiah 2:32.

Isaiah 49:19 . There is a considerable gap in the text after destroyed.

Isaiah 49:21 . Read mg. an exile and wandering to and fro: omit with LXX this clause, which spoils the picture. In the last clause read, “ And these, whence are they?”

Verses 22-26

Isaiah 49:22 to Isaiah 50:3 . The Promises to Zion Elaborated and Confirmed.— At a sign from Yahweh the nations shall with solicitous care bring back the exiles to Zion. Kings and queens shall tend them and do them abject homage (is it too abject for the prophet to have penned Isaiah 49:23 or Isaiah 49:26?). So shall His people’ s trust in their God be justified. But from such mighty ones can the captives be freed? Yes: for Yahweh will fight His people’ s battle, and cause their oppressors to slay one another; all men shall know that He is the deliverer. He has not finally divorced Israel— that would have required a bill of divorcement. Nor has debt compelled Him to sell His children into slavery; He has banished them as a punishment, and so He can bring them back. Why so reluctant to respond? Do they doubt His power, the power of Him who can dry up the sea and veil the heavens in darkness?

Isaiah 49:22 . bosom: the fold of the garment.

Isaiah 49:24 . Read Vulg, and Syr. ( mg.) .

Isaiah 50:2 . Apparently an appeal to a well-known tradition of Yahweh’ s exploits at the creation. Read perhaps, “ Their fish dry up (LXX), because there is no water, and their monsters on the parched land.”

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Isaiah 49". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.