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Isaiah 44:1-23

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Blessings of Israel God's Blessing of Israel Jeshurun The Lord Is the Only God The Blessing In Store For Israel
44:1-5  (2-5) 44:1-5  (2-5) 44:1-5  (1-5) 44:1-5  (1-5) 44:1-5  (1-5)
  There Is No Other God God's Uniqueness   There Is Only One God
44:6-8  (6-8) 44:6-8  (6-8) 44:6-8  (6-8) 44:6-8  (6-8) 44:6-8  (6-8)
The Folly of Idolatry Idolatry Is Foolishness Satire Against Idolatry Idolatry Is Ridiculed The Fatuity of Idols
44:9-17 44:9-11  (9-11) 44:9-11 44:9-11 44:9-11
  44:12  (12) 44:12-17 44:12 44:12
  44:13-14  (13-14)   44:13-17 44:13-17
  44:15-17  (15-17)      
44:18-20 44:18-20  (18-20) 44:18-20 44:18-19 44:18-19
      44:20 44:20
God Forgives and Redeems Israel Is Not Forgotten Israel Is Forgiven and Redeemed The Lord, the Creator and Savior Loyalty to Yahweh
44:21-23  (21-23) 44:21-22  (21-22) 44:21-22  (21-22) 44:21-22  (21-22) 44:21-23  (21-13)
  44:23  (23) 44:23  (23) 44:23  (23)  

 

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.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 44:1-5
1"But now listen, O Jacob, My servant,
And Israel, whom I have chosen:
2Thus says the Lord who made you
And formed you from the womb, who will help you,
'Do not fear, O Jacob My servant;
And you Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
3For I will pour out water on the thirsty land
And streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring
And My blessing on your descendants;
4And they will spring up among the grass
Like poplars by streams of water.'
5This one will say, 'I am the Lord's';
And that one will call on the name of Jacob;
And another will write on his hand, 'Belonging to the Lord,'
And will name Israel's name with honor."

44:1 "listen" This is an imperative (BDB 1033, KB 1570) which characterizes many oracles in Isaiah (cf. 1:2,10; 6:8,9,10; 7:13; 28:14; 32:9; 33:13; 34:1; 36:13; 39:5; 42:18; 46:3,12; 47:8; 48:1,12,14, 16; 51:1,7,21; 55:2,3; 59:1; 66:5).

This word means "to hear so as to perform." It became the name (the Shema) of the famous Jewish prayer in Deut. 6:4-5.

▣ "O Jacob, My servant" Notice the parellelism between lines 1 and 2. YHWH is addressing corporate Israel.

▣ "whom I have chosen" YHWH

1. chose Israel, vv. 1,2

2. made Israel, v. 2

3. formed Israel, v. 2

4. helped Israel, v. 2

 

44:2 Notice the parallelism between lines 1 and 2.

1. "made you" - BDB 793, KB 889, Qal participle, line 1

2. "formed you" - BDB 427, KB 428, Qal participle, line 2

There are several Hebrew words used to describe YHWH's creative acts.

44:3 "Do not fear" This phrase (BDB 431, KB 432, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense) is used often in chapters 40-66 (cf. 40:9; 41:10,13,14; 43:1,5; 44:3; 51:7; 54:4,14; 57:11). They were not to fear because

1. they were God's people

2. He was with them

3. their punishment was over

4. He would provide all they needed

 

▣ "Jeshurun" This (BDB 449) was a rare title for Israel meaning "the upright one" (cf. Deut. 32:15; 33:5,26). It is parallel to "O Jacob My servant."

▣ "I will pour" This verb (BDB 427, KB 428, Qal imperfect) is often used in connection with anointings or sacrifices. In this verse it is repeated twice.

1. once for the miraculous water of abundance

2. once for the Spirit (cf. [1] 32:15, different word [BDB 788]; [2] Joel 2:28, different word [BDB 1049])

YHWH is the source of blessings and for desert people water was the symbol of life and abundance (cf. v. 4).

▣ "on your offspring" Blessings, like curses, moved through families (cf. Deut. 5:9-10; 7:9).

These future generations will know who they are in YHWH and rejoice in it (v. 5).

44:5 The textual question is to whom this verse refers.

1. proud descendants of Abraham

2. foreigners who claim and extol Israel's God (cf. 56:3-6)

The verb "call" (BDB 894, KB 1128, Qal imperfect) is translated

1. passive in the Aramaic Targums, "shall be called"

2. reflexive (Niphal) in the LXX and the Peshitta, "shall call himself"

3. active in the Hebrew, "shall call on" (i.e., act of worship)

It seems to me from the context of the parallelism of lines 2 and 3 that it is talking about foreigners. If so, then this is one of those texts that assures non-Jews of access to the one true God! Not only is the servant a light to the nations, but a savior of the nations! Genesis 3:15 is fulfilled, as well as 12:3!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 44:6-8
6Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
"I am the first and I am the last,
And there is no God besides Me.
7Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it;
Yes, let him recount it to Me in order,
From the time that I established the ancient nation.
And let them declare to them the things that are coming
And the events that are going to take place.
8Do not tremble and do not be afraid;
Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it?
And you are My witnesses.
Is there any God besides Me,
Or is there any other Rock?
I know of none."

44:6 Notice the titles for God in this context (similar to 43:3,15).

1. the Lord (YHWH)

2. the King of Israel

3. Redeemer (BDB 145 I, cf. 41:14)

4. the Lord of hosts

5. I am the first and I am the last (cf. 41:4; 43:10; 48:12; Rev. 1:8,17; 22:13)

6. God (Elohim)

7. Rock, v. 8 (cf. 17:10; 26:4; 30:29; Ps. 18:2)

 

See SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY at 40:3.

These titles emphasize the uniqueness, eternality, faithfulness, and power of Israel's God.

▣ "there is no God besides Me" This is an affirmation of uniqueness and monotheism. See Special Topic at 40:14. This is a recurrent theme in Isaiah.

44:7 "Let him proclaim and declare it" This is an allusion to the court scene again. YHWH is challenging the idols to prove their existence and power but they cannot (cf. Isa. 41:21-24). They cannot predict the future.

Notice the number of commands addressed to the false gods (idols of the nations).

1. proclaim - BDB 894, KB 1128, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

2. declare - BDB 616, KB 615, Hiphil imperfect used in a jussive sense

3. recount - BDB 789, KB 884, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

4. declare - same as #2

 

44:8 In light of the impotence of the false gods of the nations, Israel is not to

1. tremble - BDB 808, KB 922, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

2. fear - BDB 923 (רהה), KB 437 (ירה), Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense (different root from v. 2)

▣ "you are My witnesses" YHWH had a specific revelatory purpose for His servants/servant.

▣ "I know of none" YHWH answers His own question. The verb is Qal perfect; there is no other god or gods, only Him (see Special Topic at 40:14).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 44:9-11
  9Those who fashion a graven image are all of them futile, and their precious things are of no profit; even their own witnesses fail to see or know, so that they will be put to shame. 10Who has fashioned a god or cast an idol to no profit? 11Behold, all his companions will be put to shame, for the craftsmen themselves are mere men. Let them all assemble themselves, let them stand up, let them tremble, let them together be put to shame.

44:9-20 This is a prose section dealing with the folly of idolatry (cf. Jer. 10:2-16).

44:9

NASB"futile"
NKJV"useless"
NRSV"nothing"
TEV"worthless"
NJB"nothingness"

This is the Hebrew word (BDB 1062) translated "formless" in Gen. 1:2; "desolation" in Isa. 34:11; and "emptiness" in 41:29. Here it denotes unreality.

44:11 There is a series of imperfects used as jussives describing the idol maker and worshiper.

1. let them assemble - BDB 867, KB 1062, Hithpael imperfect used in a jussive sense

2. let them stand up - BDB 763, KB 840, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

3. let them tremble - BDB 808, KB 922, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

4. let them be put to shame - BDB 101, KB 116, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 44:12-17
  12The man shapes iron into a cutting tool and does his work over the coals, fashioning it with hammers and working it with his strong arm. He also gets hungry and his strength fails; he drinks no water and becomes weary. 13Another shapes wood, he extends a measuring line; he outlines it with red chalk. He works it with planes and outlines it with a compass, and makes it like the form of a man, like the beauty of man, so that it may sit in a house. 14Surely he cuts cedars for himself, and takes a cypress or an oak and raises it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a fir, and the rain makes it grow. 15Then it becomessomething for a man to burn, so he takes one of them and warms himself; he also makes a fire to bake bread. He also makes a god and worships it; he makes it a graven image and falls down before it. 16Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he eats meat as he roasts a roast and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, "Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire." 17But the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image. He falls down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, "Deliver me, for you are my god."

44:14-20 This shows the folly of idolatry (cf. Jer. 10:2-16).

1. plants a tree

2. cut it for

a. warmth

b. cooking food

c. making a god

3. falls down in worship before a helpless god, the remainder of a cut log. He asks the log to help him, save him!

4. the maker forgets all this preparation because he has deceived himself (v. 20)

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 44:18-20
  18They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend. 19No one recalls, nor is there knowledge or understanding to say, "I have burned half of it in the fire and also have baked bread over its coals. I roast meat and eat it. Then I make the rest of it into an abomination, I fall down before a block of wood!" 20He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside. And he cannot deliver himself, nor say, "Is there not a lie in my right hand?"

44:18 Is the unbelief and superstition a result of

1. the Fall

2. YHWH's hand?

The OT relates all causality to God (i.e., Pharaoh, also note 6:9-10; 29:10), but still humans are responsible for their acts. This is the mystery of God's sovereignty and humanity's free will (i.e., necessary human acts for God's forgiveness, cf. 55:7). Maybe Ps. 81:12 sums it up best (cf. Rom. 1:24,26,28).

SPECIAL TOPIC: ELECTION/PREDESTINATION AND THE NEED FOR A THEOLOGICAL BALANCE

44:19 "an abomination" See Special Topic: Abomination at 41:24.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 44:21-23
21"Remember these things, O Jacob,
And Israel, for you are My servant;
I have formed you, you are My servant,
O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me.
22I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud
And your sins like a heavy mist.
Return to Me, for I have redeemed you."
23Shout for joy, O heavens, for the Lord has done it!
Shout joyfully, you lower parts of the earth;
Break forth into a shout of joy, you mountains,
O forest, and every tree in it;
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob
And in Israel He shows forth His glory.

44:21-23 In light of the false witness of idolatry, the true witness of YHWH's people is crucial! They are commanded to

1. remember, v. 21 - BDB 269, KB 269, Qal imperative

2. return, v. 22 - BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal imperative

YHWH's creation is also to witness

3. shout for joy, O heavens, v. 23 - BDB 943, KB 1247, Qal imperative

4. shout joyfully O depths of the earth, v. 23 - BDB 929, KB 1206, Hiphil imperative

5. break forth with a shout of joy you mountains and forests, v. 23 - BDB 822 KB 953, Qal imperative

It is ironic that the idol makers burn and form the trees, but the trees rejoice over YHWH's redemption and Israel's witness to His glory.

 

44:21

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV"you will not be forgotten by Me"
REB, LXX,
Peshitta,
JPSOA"never forget me"

The difference is in vocalization only. The UBS Text Project gives option #1 (NASB) a "C" rating (considerable doubt).

44:22 This is another tremendous promise of complete forgiveness. The verb "wipe out" (BDB 562, KB 567, Qal perfect) is also used in 43:25; Ps. 51:2,9. When God forgives, God forgets (cf. 1:18; 38:17; 43:25; 44:22; Micah 7:19).

The bases for this complete blotting out of our transgressions are

1. YHWH's redemption

2. a believer's repentance

 

SPECIAL TOPIC: REPENTANCE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

44:23

NASB, NKJV"lower parts of the earth"
NRSV, JPSOA"depths of the earth"
TEV"deep places of the earth"
NJB"underworld"
LXX, Peshitta"foundations of the earth"

This apparently refers to Sheol (BDB 982).

SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead?

 

Related Topics: Bible Study Methods