Isaiah 42:1-9

Isaiah 42:1-9
Monday of Holy Week ABC


HereA is my servant,B whom I uphold,C
    my chosen,D in whom my soulE delights;F

Notes on verse 1a

A “here” = hen. This is a remark of surprise or excitement: lo! Behold! It can also mean if or though.
B “servant” = ebed. From abad (to work, serve, compel; any kind of work; used causatively, can mean to enslave or keep in bondage). This is a servant, slave, or bondservant.
C “uphold” = tamak. This is to sustain, support, maintain, grasp. Figuratively, it can be to help or uphold.
0 “chosen” = bachir. From bachar (to choose, appoint, try, excellent). This is chosen or choice. So, it implies excellence.
E “soul” = nephesh. Related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.
F “delights” = ratsah. This is to be pleased with, delight, take pleasure in, or accept with favor. It can mean to approve or consent regarding something. It can also be used specifically of satisfying debts or being pardoned.

I have putG my spiritH upon him;
    he will bring forthI justiceJ to the nations.K

Notes on verse 1b

G “put” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
H “spirit” = ruach. This is breath, wind, air, cool, spirit. This is wind, which resembles the breath and so this can be used figuratively for life itself or being frail/mortal/impermanent. It can refer to the air of the sky or the spirit.
I “bring forth” = yatsa. This is to go or come out, bring forth, appear. It is to go out in a literal or figurative sense.
J “justice” = mishpat. From shaphat (to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, govern). This is a verdict or formal sentence whether from humans or from God. It includes the act of judging as well as the place that judging takes place, the suit itself, and the penalty. Abstractly, this is justice, which includes the rights of the participants.
K “nations” = goy. From the same root as gevah (the back, person, or body); related to gev (among); related to gaah (to rise up). This is nation or people. Often used to refer to Gentiles or foreign nations. It can also be used figuratively for a group of animals. This is where the Yiddish “goy” comes from.

He will not cry outL or lift upM his voiceN
    or make it heardO in the street;P

Notes on verse 2

L “cry out” = tsaaq. This is to cry out or call together, to shriek. It can mean, by implication, calling for an assembly.
M “lift up” = nasa. This is to lift in a broad sense, literally and figuratively. So it could be to carry, take, or arise. It could also be bring forth, advance, accept.
N “voice” = qol. This is a sound, used often for human voices. Also used when God speaks or angels, animals or instruments. It can be a cry or a noise, thunder or earthquakes and so on.
O “heard” = shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied.
P “street” = chuts. Root may mean to sever. So, this is something that is separated by a wall – the outside, the street, a field, highway, or abroad.

a bruisedQ reedR he will not break,S

Notes on verse 3a

Q “bruised” = ratsats. 19x in OT. This is properly cracking in pieces. It is used in a literal or figurative sense. So, crush, break, bruise, struggle, discourage, oppress.
R “reed” = qaneh. Perhaps from qanah (to get, buy, redeem, create, possess). This is reed, branch, stalk, beam, or measuring rod.
S “break” = shabar. This is break, collapse, destroy, break in pieces, tear. It is bursting in a literal or figurative sense.

    and a dimly burningT wickU he will not quench;V
    he will faithfullyW bring forth justice.

Notes on verse 3b

T “dimly burning” = keheh. 9x in OT. From kahah (to darken, grow faint, fail, be weak, have one’s eye dim or become dull). This is dark, faded, feeble, dim, smoking, or obscure. It can also mean abated.
U “wick” = pishtah. 4x in OT. From peshet (flax, linen); from the same as pash (extremity, continuing). This is falx, which may refer to a wick.
V “quench” = kabah. This is to quench or extinguish. It could refer to a fire or to anger.
W “faithfully” = emet. From aman (to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful, put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid). This is firmness or stability. Figuratively, it is faithfulness, truth, or trustworthiness. This is the same root that “amen” comes from.

He will not grow faintX or be crushedY
    until he has establishedZ justice in the earth,AA
    and the coastlandsBB waitCC for his teaching.DD

Notes on verse 4

X “grow faint” = kahah. Related to “dimly burning” in v3. 8x in OT. See note T above.
Y “crushed” = ratsats. Same as “bruised” in v3. See note Q above.
Z “established” = sim. This is to put or place in a literal or figurative sense. It can be appoint, care, change, make, and may other things.
AA “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
BB “coastlands” = i. Perhaps from avah (to desire, crave, wish for, lust after). This is coastland, island, or region. It is a desirable place to live – dry land, coast.
CC “wait” = yachal. This is to wait, which implies patience, hope, and trust. It can also be pained waiting.
DD “teaching” = torah. From yarah (to throw, shoot, be stunned; to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach). This is law, instruction, teaching, or statute. It can also refer to the first five books of the Bible – the Torah.

Thus says God,EE the Lord,FF
    who createdGG the heavensHH and stretched them out,II

Notes on verse 5a

EE “God” = El.
FF “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
GG “created” = bara. This is to create, shape, choose, or select. It is the word used in Genesis 1:1 when God created the heavens and the earth.
HH “heavens” = shamayim. Root may mean being lofty. This is sky, the air, or heaven. It is in a dual noun form so this might refer to the part of the sky where the clouds move on the one hand and the part beyond that where the sun, moon, and stars are on the other hand.
II “stretched…out” = natah. This is to stretch or spread out, to extend, or bend. In can also imply moral deflection.

    who spread outJJ the earth and what comes from it,KK
who givesLL breathMM to the peopleNN upon it
    and spirit to those who walkOO in it:

Notes on verse 5b

JJ “spread out” = raqa. 11x in OT. This is to beat the earth in a fit of passion. By analogy, it is to hammer something so that it is spread out or spread thin. By extension, it is decoratively overlaying something with metal.
KK “what comes from it” = tseetsa. Related to “bring forth” in v1. 11x in OT. From yatsa (see note I above). This is that which comes forth i.e. offspring, children, crops, springs, etc.
LL “gives” = natan. Same as “put” in v1. See note G above.
MM “breath” = neshamah. From nasham (to blow away, pant, gasp). This is a breath or blast – a puff like of wind. It is also a spirit or soul or divine inspiration or intellect. It could also be an animal. This is the word used for the breath of life when humanity was created in Genesis 2:7.
NN “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.
OO “walk” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.

I am the Lord; I have calledPP you in righteousness;QQ
    I have takenRR you by the handSS and keptTT you;

Notes on verse 6a

PP “called” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
QQ “righteousness” = tsedeq. This is rightness, righteousness, vindication. It is everything that is just or ethical. That which is right in a natural, moral, or legal sense. It also includes just weights (i.e. true weights). Figuratively, this is justice, righteousness, equity – even prosperity.
RR “taken” = chazaq. This is to strengthen, seize, be courageous, repair, bind, heal, conquer, harden.
SS “hand” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
TT “kept” = natsar. This is to watch, guard, protect. It can be positive – preserve or obey. It can be negative as conceal.

I have given you as a covenantUU to the people,
    a lightVV to the nations,
    to openWW the eyesXX that are blind,YY

Notes on verses 6b-7a

UU “covenant” = berit. Perhaps from barah (to eat, choose, make clear); perhaps from bar (grain, wheat); from bara (to select, purify, cleanse, test, brighten, polish). This is a compact, covenant, alliance, treaty, or league.
VV “light” = or. From or (to be or become light). This is light, sun, sunshine, dawn, or daylight. Figuratively, it can refer to light from instruction, light of a face (that is to say one that is cheerful or finds favor). It can refer to prosperity or salvation; a light that guides, a light eternal from Zion.
WW “open” = paqach. This is open, as opening one’s senses, particularly eyes. So, figuratively this can refer to being watchful.
XX “eyes” = ayin. This is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).
YY “blind” = ivver. From avar (to blind, put out). This is blindness or someone who is blind. It can be used literally or figuratively.

to bring outZZ the prisonersAAA from the dungeon,BBB

Notes on verse 7b

ZZ “bring out” = yatsa. Same as “bring forth” in v1. See note I above.
AAA “prisoners” = assir. 4x in OT. From asar (to tie, yoke, bind, or fasten; can mean to harness an animal, to join in fighting a battle, or to imprison someone). This is prisoner or captive.
BBB “dungeon” = masger. 7x in OT. From sagar (to shut up, imprison, lock, hand over, or figuratively surrender). This is a locksmith, prison, dungeon.

    from the prisonCCC those who sitDDD in darkness.EEE

Notes on verse 7c

CCC “prison” = bayit + kele. Literally, “house of imprisonment.” Bayit is probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple. Kele is 10x in OT. From kala (to stop in the sense of holding back or restraining; to keep, refuse, forbid, or to prohibit by word). This is confinement or restraint.
DDD “sit” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.
EEE “darkness” = choshek. From chashak (to be or become dark). This is literal darkness is contrast to light. Figuratively, it can be obscurity, sorrow, misery, blindness, wickedness, destruction, death. It can also be hiding places. Additionally, it can mean judgment, mourning, ignorance, evil, or sin.

I am the Lord; that is my name;FFF
    my gloryGGG I give to no other,
    nor my praiseHHH to idols.III

Notes on verse 8

FFF “name” = shem. Related to “established” in v4. May be from sim (see note Z above). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.
GGG “glory” = kabod. From kabad (to be heavy, weighty, burdensome). This is weighty. Figuratively, glorious, abundant, riches, honor, splendor – a reference to one’s reputation or character. This word is often used to describe God and God’s presence.
HHH “praise” = tehillah. From halal (to praise, be boastful). This is praise or a song of praise. It is to offer God a hymn, to boast in God. This shares a root with “hallelujah.”
III “idols” = pasil. From pasal (to hew, carve; used for wood or stone). This is an idol or other image.

See,JJJ the former thingsKKK have come to pass,LLL

Notes on verse 9a

JJJ “see” = hinneh. Related to “here” in v1. From hen (see note A above). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!
KKK “former things” = rishon. From rishah (beginning or early time); from rosh (head, captain, or chief; excellent or the forefront; first in position or in statue or in time). This is first, former, ancestor, beginning, ranked first.
LLL “come to pass” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.

    and new thingsMMM I now declare;NNN
beforeOOO they spring forth,PPP
    I tellQQQ you of them.

Notes on verse 9b

MMM “new things” = chadash. From chadash (to renew or restore, to repair or rebuild). This is something fresh or new.
NNN “declare” = nagad. This is to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain.
OOO “before” = terem. May come from a word that means to interrupt. This is not yet or before.
PPP “spring forth” = tsamach. This is to sprout, grow, or spring up – literal or figurative.
QQQ “tell” = shama. Same as “heard” in v2. See note O above.

Image credit: “Diya Diwali India” [“Traditional earthenware oil and wick lamp”] by Subharnab Majumdar, 2013.

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