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Isaiah 43

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Israel Redeemed The Redeemer of Israel Israel, the Blind and Dead (42:18-43:7) God's Promise to Rescue His People God, Israel's Protector and Liberator
43:1-7  (1-7) 43:1-7  (1-7) 43:1-7  (1-7) 43:1-5a  (1-5a) 43:1-7  (1-7)
      43:5b-7  (5b-7)  
Israel is God's Witness   The Servant Israel Is the Lord's Witness Israel is the Lord's Witness Yahweh Alone Is God
43:8-13  (8-13) 43:8-13  (8-13) 43:8-13  (8-13) 43:8-9  (8-9) 43:8-12a  (8-12a)
      43:10  (10)  
      43:11-13  (11-13)  
        43:12b-13  (12b-13)
Babylon to Be Destroyed   The Redemption and Restoration of Israel (43:14-44:5) Escape From Babylon Against Babylon
43:14-21  (14-21) 43:14-15  (14-15) 43:14-21  (14-21) 43:14-15  (14-15) 43:14-15  (14-15)
        Miracles Of The New Exodus
  43:16-21  (16-21)   43:16-17  (16-17) 43:16-21  (16-21)
      43:18-21  (18-21)  
The Shortcomings of Israel Pleading With Unfaithful Israel   Israel's Sin Israel's Ingratitude
43:22-24  (22-24) 43:22-24  (22-24) 43:22-24  (22-24) 43:22-25  (22-25) 43:22-28  (22-28)
43:25-28  (25-28) 43:25-28  (25-28) 43:25-28  (25-28)    
      43:26-28  (26-28)  

READING CYCLE THREE

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. Israel's unique position as YHWH's covenant people is clearly revealed in vv. 1-7.

1. He formed them, vv. 1,7

2. He redeemed them, v. 1

3. He called them by His name, vv. 1,7

4. He protected them, v. 2

5. He is their covenant God, v. 3

6. They are precious in His sight, v. 4

7. He honored them, v. 4

8. He loved them, v. 4

9. He is with them, v. 5

 

B. YHWH wants to use them to reveal Himself to the nations, vv. 8-10 (esp. v. 10c).

 

C. Verses 10d-f - 13 are a theological affirmation of YHWH's uniqueness. See SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM at 40:14.

 

D. YHWH will bring His people back from exile (vv. 5-6,14,16,19-20)

1. through Cyrus II

2. ultimately through the Messiah

 

E. YHWH will redeem Israel even though they do not deserve it (cf. vv. 22-24).

 

F. YHWH as Israel's redeemer is the focus of this chapter (cf. vv. 1,3,11,14,25-26). YHWH acts because of who He is and for His purposes. Israel is a precious tool in the hand of God for universal redemption.

 

G. Names for God used in chapter 43 (see SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY at 40:3)

1. "the Lord" (vv. 1,3,11,14) YHWH - The covenant name for God (cf. Exod. 3:14), "I Am," is from the Hebrew verb "to be."

2. "God" (v. 3; "El in v. 13) Elohim - This is a plural word. The rabbis say YHWH is God's name for mercy, while Elohim deals with the world in general (i.e., creator, sustainer). These two names for God are the most common in the OT.

3. "The Holy One of Israel" (vv. 3,15) - This title expresses God's purity and transcendance (see note at 40:25).

4. "Savior" (vv. 3,11,12) Yasha - This is from the same root as Joshua and Jesus. The basic meaning is "to be wide" or "spacious" (cf. 19:20; 45:15,21; 49:26; 60:16; 63:8).

5. "Redeemer" (v. 14) - This is from the same root as Go'el, the kinsman redeemer or avenger (cf. Ruth 4:4,6). This term depicts God as our near kinsman (cf. 41:14; 44:6,24; 47:4; 48:17; 49:7,26; 54:5,8; 59:20; 60:16; 63:16). It is another example of God's personal relationship with us. Other examples are God as parent or husband.

6. "The Creator" (v. 15) - YHWH the creator (cf. 40:28) is also the special covenant God of Israel. This (the verb bara, cf. v. 1) is a common theme (cf. Isaiah 40-66).

7. "King" (v. 15) - God is the true King of Israel. The earthly king is merely His representative (cf. I Samuel 8).

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 43:1-7
1But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel,
"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!
2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
3For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I have given Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your place.
4Since you are precious in My sight,
Since you are honored and I love you,
I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life.
5Do not fear, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
And gather you from the west.
6I will say to the north, 'Give them up!'
And to the south, 'Do not hold them back.'
Bring My sons from afar
And My daughters from the ends of the earth,
7Everyone who is called by My name,
And whom I have created for My glory,
Whom I have formed, even whom I have made."

43:1 "Lord" This is from the word YHWH. In Exod. 3:14 it is translated "I Am." This form is from the Hebrew verb "to be." See Special Topic at 40:3.

▣ "your creator" This is a Qal participle (BDB 135, KB 153). This is a common theme throughout the Servant Songs. Here it refers to the establishment of the nation (cf. Genesis 12,15,22).

The second line of chapter 43 has the parallel verb "formed" (BDB 427, KB 428, Qal participle, cf. v. 21; 44:2,21,24). YHWH was not only the Creator of the physical realm but also the covenant people (cf. Genesis 12,15,18,22).

▣ "O Jacob. . .O Israel" These two vocatives both refer to the collective covenant people, the seed of Abraham.

▣ "Do not fear" This is a command (BDB 431, KB 432, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense). So often this is God's word for His people, especially after the exile and destruction of Jerusalem and the temple (cf. 40:9; 41:10,13,14; 44:2; 54:4).

▣ "redeemed" See Special Topic at 41:14.

▣ "I have called you by name" This (both "redeemed" and "called" are Qal perfects) refers to God's choice of Israel (cf. v. 7; 45:3-4). This was a special calling through Abraham (cf. Genesis 12,15,18,22).

▣ "you are Mine" See v. 21 and Exod. 19:5-6. Israel was uniquely YHWH's people.

43:2 "the waters. . .the fire. . .the flame" This is such a wonderful text! These are used as metaphors of problems, fears, and foes!

▣ "will be with you" This is God's greatest promise (i.e., His personal presence, cf. v. 5; Deut. 31:6,8; Ps. 23:4; Matt. 28:20).

▣ "Nor will the flame burn you" For one example see Daniel 3.

43:3 "Savior" This root's basic meaning can be translated "to be wide" (BDB 446, KB 448). The names Joshua and Jesus are based on this root.

▣ "ransom" This speaks of the high cost of redemption (see Special Topic at 41:14). The object of this verse seems to be Cyrus II's conquests.

43:4 There is an apparent parallel between

1. v. 3 - a ransom involving Egypt, Cush, and Seba instead of Israel

2. v. 4 - a ransom involving

a. other men

b. other peoples

The UBS Text Project (p. 111) gives another option (i.e., Assyria. . .Edom), which is found in the REB. This change is possible without a change of consonants. However, the UBS Text Project rates option #1 as A (very high probability).

Verses 3 and 4 are a literary way of showing YHWH's great love for Israel and His willingness for Cyrus' military victories to assure Israel's return to Palestine.

43: 5-7 This reflects the return from Babylonian exile allowed by Cyrus II's decree.

43:7 "called. . .created. . .formed. . .made" God had a purpose for Israel (cf. v. 10; Gen. 12:1-3; Exod. 19:5-6). See Special Topic at 40:15.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 43:8-13
8Bring out the people who are blind, even though they have eyes,
And the deaf, even though they have ears.
9All the nations have gathered together
So that the peoples may be assembled.
Who among them can declare this
And proclaim to us the former things?
Let them present their witnesses that they may be justified,
Or let them hear and say, "It is true.
10You are My witnesses," declares the Lord,
"And My servant whom I have chosen,
So that you may know and believe Me
And understand that I am He.
Before Me there was no God formed,
And there will be none after Me.
11I, even I, am the Lord,
And there is no savior besides Me.
12It is I who have declared and saved and proclaimed,
And there was no strange god among you;
So you are My witnesses," declares the Lord,
"And I am God.
13Even from eternity I am He,
And there is none who can deliver out of My hand;
I act and who can reverse it?"

43:8 "the people who are blind" This was because of their continuing unbelief and covenant disobedience (cf. 6:9-10 and 42:18-22).

43:9 There is a series of Qal imperfects used as jussives (cf. NRSV and NJB, "let. . .").

1. let them bring their witness (BDB 678, KB 733)

2. let them justify themselves (BDB 842, KB 1003)

3. let them hear (BDB 1033, KB 1570)

4. let them say (BDB 55, KB 65)

The nations, like the idols of chapter 40, do not know the future. Only YHWH holds time and history in His hand. He will use Israel to reveal Himself and ultimately He will use the Messiah, His special Servant.

43:10-13 Notice the many ways YHWH's uniqueness, power, and eternality are expressed.

1. He wants humans, made in His image, to

a. know (BDB 393, KB 390, Qal imperfect)

b. believe (BDB 52, KB 63, Hiphil imperfect)

c. understand (BDB 106, KB 122, Qal imperfect)

2. He is the only God

a. I am He, vv. 10,11,12,13

b. before Me there was no God formed, v. 10

c. after Me no God formed, v. 10

d. no savior beside Me, v. 11

3. His acts (all Hiphil perfects)

a. He has spoken (BDB 616, KB 665)

b. He has saved (BDB 446, KB 448)

c. He has proclaimed (BDB 1033, KB 1570)

4. He is from eternity, v. 13a

5. His power, v. 13b,c

These truths are what the nations need to know and affirm, v. 9.

43:10 "You are My witnesses" This is metaphorical for a court scene (cf. v. 12; 1:18; 41:21; 44:8; Rom. 8:31-39), where all the nations are gathered (cf. v. 9).

▣ "Before Me there was no God" This refers to monotheism (cf. vv. 10-13, see Special Topic at 40:14). This is reflected in Exod. 20:5.

43:13 "eternity" This follows the Septuagint. The MT has "from the day."

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 43:14-21
14Thus says the Lord your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,
"For your sake I have sent to Babylon,
And will bring them all down as fugitives,
Even the Chaldeans, into the ships in which they rejoice.
15I am the Lord, your Holy One,
The Creator of Israel, your King."
16Thus says the Lord,
Who makes a way through the sea
And a path through the mighty waters,
17Who brings forth the chariot and the horse,
The army and the mighty man
(They will lie down together and not rise again;
They have been quenched and extinguished like a wick):
18"Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
19Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.
20The beasts of the field will glorify Me,
The jackals and the ostriches,
Because I have given waters in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert,
To give drink to My chosen people.
21The people whom I formed for Myself
Will declare My praise."

43:14 "will bring them all down as fugitives" This refers to the fall of Babylon by Cyrus II. It was not Cyrus' power that defeated Neo-Babylon but YHWH's power and purpose (i.e., "for your sake").

There is a possible revocalization of the Hebrew consonants.

1. "fugitives" (NASB, NKJV, NET Bible)

2. "bars" (JPSOA, NRSV, NJB, TEV)

 

▣ "the Chaldeans" Herodotus (450 b.c.), Hist. I, uses this term to refer to an ethnic group (cf. II Kgs. 24:1-4; Dan. 5:30) as well as a priestly class (cf. Dan. 2:2; 3:8; 4:7; 5:7,11) whose usage goes back to Cyrus II. Even before this time period Assyrian records used the term (BDB 505) in an ethnic sense (cf. R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 1113). Also read the good discussion of the possibility of a confusion of two similar terms (i.e., Kal-du vs. Kasdu) in The Expositors Bible Commentary, vol. 7, pp. 14-15 or Robert Dick Wilson, Studies in the Book of Daniel, series 1.

Because Gen. 11:28 states that Ur of the Chaldeans was the home of Terah and his family, Chaldeans may have been ethnically Semitic (i.e., same racial group as the Hebrews).

There is another possible revocalization of the Hebrew consonants.

1. into the ships (NASB, NKJV)

2. in lamentation (JPSOA, NRSV, NJB, TEV, REB, NET Bible)

3. the LXX has "bound in ships"

It is possible that v. 14 should be taken as Babylonian people thinking they could escape the Persian army by floating down river (i.e., Euphrates) in their ships.

43:15 "your King" This is possible linked to II Samuel 7.

43:16 This uses (1) the Exodus from Egypt (cf. v. 17; Exodus 14-15) as an example for the return from Babylon or (2) YHWH's control of the waters of chaos.

"I will do something new" See full note at 62:2.

43:19 "I will even make a roadway in the wilderness" This is a very common biblical theme (cf. 40:1-4).

▣ "rivers" The Dead Sea Scrolls have "paths" (REB).

43:20 Instead of curses (cf. Deuteronomy 27-29) the beasts became tame. Nature blooms and produces in light of YHWH's presence and blessings.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 43:22-24
22"Yet you have not called on Me, O Jacob;
But you have become weary of Me, O Israel.
23You have not brought to Me the sheep of your burnt offerings,
Nor have you honored Me with your sacrifices.
I have not burdened you with offerings,
Nor wearied you with incense.
24You have bought Me not sweet cane with money,
Nor have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices;
Rather you have burdened Me with your sins,
You have wearied Me with your iniquities.

43:22-24 This is not a condemnation of sacrifice in general but of false motives (cf. Jeremiah 7). The verbs are all perfects which show a settled attitude of rebellion.

43:24 "sweet cane" This refers to holy anointing oil (cf. Exod. 30:23; Jer. 6:20).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 43:25-28
25"I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake,
And I will not remember your sins.
26Put Me in remembrance, let us argue our case together;
State your cause, that you may be proved right.
27Your first forefather sinned,
And your spokesmen have transgressed against Me.
28So I will pollute the princes of the sanctuary,
And I will consign Jacob to the ban and Israel to revilement.

43:25 "I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake" God's forgiveness is an act of pure grace, not merit (cf. 37:35; 48:9,11; Ezek. 36:22-38).

▣ "I will not remember your sins" When God forgives, God forgets (cf. 1:18; 38:17; 44:22; Ps. 103:12; Micah 7:19). What a needed truth in light of Satan's continuing condemnations! Oh the mercy and grace of God!

SPECIAL TOPIC: WORDS FOR FORGIVENESS

43:26 "let us argue our case together" This reflects a legal metaphor of a court room (cf. 1:18; 41:21; Rom. 8:31-39). This verse has a series of commands by the judge.

1. put Me in remembrance - BDB 269, KB 269, Hiphil imperative

2. let us argue our case together - BDB 1047, KB 1627, Niphal cohortative

3. state your case - BDB 707, KB 765, Piel imperative

 

43:27 "Your first forefathers sinned" Literally it is "father." It could refer to Adam or Jacob or any Jewish ancestor. It shows that God's love is undeserved. The OT does not dwell on the origin of sin, but acknowledges its presence and pervasiveness. Some rabbis, like Paul, emphasize Genesis 3, but others emphasize Genesis 6.

▣ "spokesmen" This is a reference to either

1. the prophets

2. the priests

3. the politicians

 

43:28 "I will pollute the princes of the sanctuary" The verb "pollute" (BDB 320 III, KB 319, Piel imperfect) can mean "pollute," defile," or "profane." The NEB and REB slightly change the Hebrew consonants to "your princes profaned my sanctuary," which follows the LXX.

It is uncertain whether the two verbs of v. 28 refer to the past or the future. The Hebrew text links verses 27 and 28. Verse 28 obviously refers to the past. Most of chapter 43 deals with YHWH's current deliverance of Israel from exile. Hebrew tenses do not give time, just action; time must be ascertained from the context.

▣ "the ban" This is from the word herem (BDB 356). Something was "holy," so unusable by fallen humanity, therefore, it must be destroyed. An example would be Jericho (cf. Joshua 6).

 

Related Topics: Bible Study Methods