Isaiah 46


כָּרַע בֵּל קֹרֵס נְבֹו הָיוּ עֲצַבֵּיהֶם לַחַיָּה וְלַבְּהֵמָה נְשֻׂאֹתֵיכֶם עֲמוּסֹות מַשָּׂא לַעֲיֵפָה׃   46:1

Isai. 46:1   Bow down, Bel!

                              Stoop, Nebo!

                    Their idols are for animal and for cattle.

                              Your loads are burdensome,

                     a burden for the weary.

I suspect that the phrase your loads (in the fourth English line) refers to the idols of the Babylonian gods, Bel and Nebo.  My translation in the third line differs from the traditional translation, which is usually something like “Their idols are [or were] upon the beast and upon the cattle.” The emphasis is mine to show the major difference between the two translations.  And commentators have concluded that the traditional translation addresses those fleeing before the invader and carrying their idols with them on beasts of burden.  In my opinion, this verse (and the next) is simply a metaphorical statement about the people having many idols representing these two gods, and is intended to be compared with the expression in verses 46:3 and 4.  There the Lord is explaining how He has and does carry Israel.  In this verse and the next Isaiah is showing that the gods must themselves be carried.  In other words, he is dramatizing the difference in power and capability between the One True God and the gods of humans.

קָרְסוּ כָרְעוּ יַחְדָּו לֹא יָכְלוּ מַלֵּט מַשָּׂא וְנַפְשָׁם בַּשְּׁבִי הָלָכָה׃   46:2

Isai. 46:2   They stoop, they bow down together.

                               They cannot escape the burden,

                    so their essence has gone into captivity.

In accordance with my remarks above, I believe in this verse, Isaiah is saying that those carrying the idols (their essence, that is) go into captivity.

שִׁמְעוּ אֵלַי בֵּית יַעֲקֹב וְכָל־שְׁאֵרִית בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל הַעֲמֻסִים מִנִּי־בֶטֶן הַנְּשֻׂאִים מִנִּי־רָחַם׃   46:3

Isai. 46:3   “Listen to Me, house of Jacob,

                               and all remaining of the house of Israel,

                    who have been borne from the womb,

                               who have been lifted from the womb!”

Borne and lifted by the Lord, that is!

וְעַד־זִקְנָה אֲנִי הוּא וְעַד־שֵׂיבָה אֲנִי אֶסְבֹּל אֲנִי עָשִׂיתִי וַאֲנִי אֶשָּׂא וַאֲנִי אֶסְבֹּל וַאֲמַלֵּט׃   46:4

Isai. 46:4   “Even until old age I shall be the same,

                               and until gray hair I shall carry.

                     I have made, and I shall carry.

                               And I shall carry and preserve.”

לְמִי תְדַמְיוּנִי וְתַשְׁווּ וְתַמְשִׁלוּנִי וְנִדְמֶה׃   46:5

Isai. 46:5   “To whom would you liken Me

                               so you would make equal,

                    and compare Me so we would be equal?”

הַזָּלִים זָהָב מִכִּיס וְכֶסֶף בַּקָּנֶה יִשְׁקֹלוּ יִשְׂכְּרוּ צֹורֵף וְיַעֲשֵׂהוּ אֵל יִסְגְּדוּ אַף־יִשְׁתַּחֲוּוּ׃   46:6

Isai. 46:6   “Those who lavish gold from the purse,

                               and would weigh silver in a balance,

                    would hire a goldsmith that he should make one a god,

                               would fall down, even worship,

יִשָּׂאֻהוּ עַל־כָּתֵף יִסְבְּלֻהוּ וְיַנִּיחֻהוּ תַחְתָּיו וְיַעֲמֹד מִמְּקֹומֹו לֹא יָמִישׁ אַף־יִצְעַק אֵלָיו וְלֹא יַעֲנֶה   46:7 מִצָּרָתֹו לֹא יֹושִׁיעֶנּוּ׃

Isai. 46:7   would bear it on the shoulder,

                               would carry it,

                     then deposit it in its place that it stands

                                -- from its place it cannot depart;

                    Yes, one may cry to it but it cannot answer,

                                it will not save him from his trouble.”

זִכְרוּ־זֹאת וְהִתְאֹשָׁשׁוּ הָשִׁיבוּ פֹושְׁעִים עַל־לֵב׃   46:8

Isai. 46:8   “Remember this and be encouraged,

                                transgressors, recall to mind!”

זִכְרוּ רִאשֹׁנֹות מֵעֹולָם כִּי אָנֹכִי אֵל וְאֵין עֹוד אֱלֹהִים וְאֶפֶס כָּמֹונִי׃   46:9

Isai. 46:9   “Remember the former things from antiquity,

                                that I am God and there is none else!


                                And there is none like Me,

מַגִּיד מֵרֵאשִׁית אַחֲרִית וּמִקֶּדֶם אֲשֶׁר לֹא־נַעֲשׂוּ אֹמֵר עֲצָתִי תָקוּם וְכָל־חֶפְצִי אֶעֱשֶׂה׃    46:10

Isai. 46:10   announcing the end from the beginning,

                                and what is not done from antiquity,

                      saying, ‘My counsel shall endure,

                                and all My purpose I will accomplish,’

קֹרֵא מִמִּזְרָח עַיִט מֵאֶרֶץ מֶרְחָק אִישׁ (עֲצָתֹו) [עֲצָתִי] אַף־דִּבַּרְתִּי אַף־אֲבִיאֶנָּה יָצַרְתִּי   46:11 אַף־אֶעֱשֶׂנָּה׃

Isai. 46:11   calling from the east a bird of prey,

                                 from a land far off, a man of My purpose.

                      Yes, I have spoken, I will bring it to pass;

                                 I determine, I will also do it.”

The error in the word in parentheses is a vav suffix where there should be a yad.  The word in error is translatable as his purpose, which is an obvious mistake in this context; the corrected word in the brackets is translatable as My purpose.

שִׁמְעוּ אֵלַי אַבִּירֵי לֵב הָרְחֹוקִים מִצְּדָקָה׃   46:12

Isai. 46:12   “Listen to me, stout of heart,

                                who are far from righteousness!”

קֵרַבְתִּי צִדְקָתִי לֹא תִרְחָק וּתְשׁוּעָתִי לֹא תְאַחֵר וְנָתַתִּי בְצִיֹּון תְּשׁוּעָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל תִּפְאַרְתִּי׃   46:13

Isai. 46:13   “I bring My righteousness near;

                                 it shall not be far off,

                      and My salvation shall not be delayed,

                                 and in Zion

                       I shall give deliverance to Israel, My glory.


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