Promises of Redemption and Restoration
1But now, thus says the LORD,
who created you, Jacob, and formed you, Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name: you are mine.
2When you pass through waters, I will be with you;
through rivers, you shall not be swept away.
When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned,
nor will flames consume you.
3For I, the LORD, am your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your savior.
I give Egypt as ransom for you,
Ethiopia and Seba* in exchange for you.
4Because you are precious in my eyes
and honored, and I love you,
I give people in return for you
and nations in exchange for your life.a
5Fear not, for I am with you;
from the east I will bring back your offspring,
from the west I will gather you.
6I will say to the north: Give them up!
and to the south: Do not hold them!
Bring back my sons from afar,
and my daughters from the ends of the earth:b
7All who are called by my name
I created for my glory;
I formed them, made them.
8Lead out the people, blind though they have eyes,
deaf though they have ears.
9Let all the nations gather together,
let the peoples assemble!
Who among them could have declared this,
or announced to us the earlier things?*
Let them produce witnesses to prove themselves right,
that one may hear and say, “It is true!”
10You are my witnesses*—oracle of the LORD—
my servant whom I have chosen
To know and believe in me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
and after me there shall be none.
11I, I am the LORD;
there is no savior but me.
12It is I who declared, who saved,
who announced, not some strange god among you;
You are my witnesses—oracle of the LORD.
I am God,
13yes, from eternity I am he;
There is none who can deliver from my hand:
I act and who can cancel it?c
14Thus says the LORD, your redeemer,*
the Holy One of Israel:
For your sake I send to Babylon;
I will bring down all her defenses,
and the Chaldeans shall cry out in lamentation.
15I am the LORD, your Holy One,
the creator of Israel, your King.
16Thus says the LORD,
who opens a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,d
17Who leads out chariots and horsemen,
a powerful army,
Till they lie prostrate together, never to rise,
snuffed out, quenched like a wick.e
18Remember not* the events of the past,
the things of long ago consider not;
19See, I am doing something new!
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
In the wilderness I make a way,
in the wasteland, rivers.
20Wild beasts honor me,
jackals and ostriches,
For I put water in the wilderness
and rivers in the wasteland
for my chosen people to drink,
21The people whom I formed for myself,
that they might recount my praise.
22Yet you did not call upon me, Jacob,*
for you grew weary of me, Israel.
23You did not bring me sheep for your burnt offerings,
nor honor me with your sacrifices.
I did not exact from you the service of offerings,
nor weary you for frankincense.f
24You did not buy me sweet cane,*
nor did you fill me with the fat of your sacrifices;
Instead, you burdened me with your sins,
wearied me with your crimes.
25It is I, I, who wipe out,
for my own sake, your offenses;
your sins I remember no more.
26Would you have me remember, have us come to trial?
Speak up, prove your innocence!
27Your first father* sinned;
your spokesmen rebelled against me
28Till I repudiated the holy princes,
put Jacob under the ban,
exposed Israel to scorn.
* [43:3–4] Egypt…Ethiopia and Seba: countries which God permitted the Persians to conquer in return for having given Israel its freedom.
* [43:9] Who among them…?: God, and only God, can foretell the future because it is he who brings it to pass. The argument from prediction is an important theme in Second Isaiah and occurs also in 41:22; 43:10; 44:7–8, 26.
* [43:10] You are my witnesses: Israel’s role as chosen people now takes a new turn as they are given the active role of bearing witness before humankind to the Lord’s role in history by proclaiming events beforehand and bringing them to pass; see also 44:8. The false gods, on the other hand, cannot produce such witnesses (v. 9; cf. 44:9). I am he: this formula of self-identification, repeated in vv. 13 and 25, is used here to support the assertion that the Lord alone is God; see also 41:4; 46:4; 48:12; 51:12; 52:6. This expression in part may be behind the self-identification formula used by Jesus in John’s gospel (cf. Jn 8:58). Before…after: another example of the same assertion, that the Lord alone is God; see also note on 44:6.
* [43:14–17] The destruction of Babylon is described in language that recalls the drowning of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea (Ex 14–15).
* [43:18] Remember not: God’s new act of delivering Israel from the Babylonian captivity is presented as so great a marvel as to eclipse even the memory of the exodus from Egypt. This comparison of the return from Babylon to the exodus from Egypt recurs throughout Second Isaiah (cf. 41:17–20; 43:18–21; 48:20–21; 49:8–13; 51:9–11).
* [43:22–28] The reason for the liberation of the Israelites is not their constancy but rather God’s faithfulness to his promise (cf. 40:6–8).
* [43:24] Sweet cane: a fragrant substance used in making incense and the sacred anointing oil; cf. Ex 30:23; Jer 6:20.
* [43:27] First father: Jacob. Spokesmen: leaders, priests, prophets.
d. [43:16] Is 51:10–11; Ex 14:21.