Restoration of Israel
This is what the Lord says:
‘In the time of my favour I will answer you,
and in the day of salvation I will help you;
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land
and to reassign its desolate inheritances,
to say to the captives, “Come out,”
and to those in darkness, “Be free!”
‘They will feed beside the roads
and find pasture on every barren hill.
They will neither hunger nor thirst,
nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them.
He who has compassion on them will guide them
and lead them beside springs of water.
I will turn all my mountains into roads,
and my highways will be raised up.
See, they will come from afar –
some from the north, some from the west,
some from the region of Aswan.’[a]
Shout for joy, you heavens;
rejoice, you earth;
burst into song, you mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me,
the Lord has forgotten me.’
‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.
Your children hasten back,
and those who laid you waste depart from you.
Lift up your eyes and look around;
all your children gather and come to you.
As surely as I live,’ declares the Lord,
‘you will wear them all as ornaments;
you will put them on, like a bride.
‘Though you were ruined and made desolate
and your land laid waste,
now you will be too small for your people,
and those who devoured you will be far away.
The children born during your bereavement
will yet say in your hearing,
“This place is too small for us;
give us more space to live in.”
Then you will say in your heart,
“Who bore me these?
I was bereaved and barren;
I was exiled and rejected.
Who brought these up?
I was left all alone,
but these – where have they come from?”’
This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
‘See, I will beckon to the nations,
I will lift up my banner to the peoples;
they will bring your sons in their arms
and carry your daughters on their hips.
Kings will be your foster fathers,
and their queens your nursing mothers.
They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground;
they will lick the dust at your feet.
Then you will know that I am the Lord;
those who hope in me will not be disappointed.’
Can plunder be taken from warriors,
or captives be rescued from the fierce?[b]
But this is what the Lord says:
‘Yes, captives will be taken from warriors,
and plunder retrieved from the fierce;
I will contend with those who contend with you,
and your children I will save.
I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh;
they will be drunk on their own blood, as with wine.
Then all mankind will know
that I, the Lord, am your Saviour,
your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.’
- Isaiah 49:12 Dead Sea Scrolls; Masoretic Text Sinim
- Isaiah 49:24 Dead Sea Scrolls, Vulgate and Syriac (see also Septuagint and verse 25); Masoretic Text righteous
Israel’s sin and the servant’s obedience
This is what the Lord says:
‘Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce
with which I sent her away?
Or to which of my creditors
did I sell you?
Because of your sins you were sold;
because of your transgressions your mother was sent away.
When I came, why was there no one?
When I called, why was there no one to answer?
Was my arm too short to deliver you?
Do I lack the strength to rescue you?
By a mere rebuke I dry up the sea,
I turn rivers into a desert;
their fish rot for lack of water
and die of thirst.
I clothe the heavens with darkness
and make sackcloth its covering.’
The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears;
I have not been rebellious,
I have not turned away.
I offered my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from mocking and spitting.
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame.
He who vindicates me is near.
Who then will bring charges against me?
Let us face each other!
Who is my accuser?
Let him confront me!
It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me.
Who will condemn me?
They will all wear out like a garment;
the moths will eat them up.
Who among you fears the Lord
and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on their God.
But now, all you who light fires
and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, walk in the light of your fires
and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from my hand:
you will lie down in torment.
Everlasting salvation for Zion
‘Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness
and who seek the Lord:
look to the rock from which you were cut
and to the quarry from which you were hewn;
look to Abraham, your father,
and to Sarah, who gave you birth.
When I called him he was only one man,
and I blessed him and made him many.
The Lord will surely comfort Zion
and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
he will make her deserts like Eden,
her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
‘Listen to me, my people;
hear me, my nation:
instruction will go out from me;
my justice will become a light to the nations.
My righteousness draws near speedily,
my salvation is on the way,
and my arm will bring justice to the nations.
The islands will look to me
and wait in hope for my arm.
Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
look at the earth beneath;
the heavens will vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment
and its inhabitants die like flies.
But my salvation will last for ever,
my righteousness will never fail.
‘Hear me, you who know what is right,
you people who have taken my instruction to heart:
do not fear the reproach of mere mortals
or be terrified by their insults.
For the moth will eat them up like a garment;
the worm will devour them like wool.
But my righteousness will last for ever,
my salvation through all generations.’
Awake, awake, arm of the Lord,
clothe yourself with strength!
Awake, as in days gone by,
as in generations of old.
Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces,
who pierced that monster through?
Was it not you who dried up the sea,
the waters of the great deep,
who made a road in the depths of the sea
so that the redeemed might cross over?
Those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
‘I, even I, am he who comforts you.
Who are you that you fear mere mortals,
human beings who are but grass,
that you forget the Lord your Maker,
who stretches out the heavens
and who lays the foundations of the earth,
that you live in constant terror every day
because of the wrath of the oppressor,
who is bent on destruction?
For where is the wrath of the oppressor?
The cowering prisoners will soon be set free;
they will not die in their dungeon,
nor will they lack bread.
For I am the Lord your God,
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar –
the Lord Almighty is his name.
I have put my words in your mouth
and covered you with the shadow of my hand –
I who set the heavens in place,
who laid the foundations of the earth,
and who say to Zion, “You are my people.”’