Isaiah 50:4-9a

Isaiah 50:4-9a
Palm/Passion Sunday B18


The LordA GodB has given me
    the tongue of a teacher,C
that I may knowD how to sustainE
    the weary with a word.F
Morning by morning he wakens—
    wakens my ear
    to listenG as those who are taught.H

Notes on verse 4

A “Lord” = Adonai. From adon (lord, master, owner); root means to rule or be sovereign. This is the actual Hebrew word for Lord used (in a different form) of humans and (in the present form) of God. It means someone who is in control.
B “God” = 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.
C “teacher” = limmud. 6x in OT. From lamad (properly, this refers to goading – using a pointed stick to guide or prod one’s flock; by implication, it means teaching or instructing). This is disciple, teacher, instruct.
D “know” = yada. This is to know, acknowledge, advise, answer, be aware, be acquainted with. Properly, this is to figure something out by seeing. It includes ideas of observation, recognition, and care about something. It can be used causatively for instruction, designation, and punishment.
E “sustain” = uth. 1x in OT. Perhaps from ush (to help, hasten). This may mean help or sustain – to go quickly and so to provide relief.
F “word” = dabar. From dabar (to speak, declare, discuss). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
G “listen” = 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.
H “who are taught” = limmud. Same as “teacher” in v4.

5 The Lord God has openedI my ear,
    and I was not rebellious,J
    I did not turnK backward.
I gave my backL to those who struckM me,
    and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hideN my face
    from insultO and spitting.

Notes on verses 5-6

I “opened” = patach. This is to open wide in a literal or figurative sense. So, it is open, draw out, let something go free, break forth. It can also mean to plow, engrave, or carve
J “rebellious” = marah. This is to be contentious, rebellious, bitter, provoking, disobedient. It can be to be or make bitter or unpleasant. Figuratively, it is to rebel or resist and causatively to provoke. This is the root of “Miriam.”
K “turn” = sug. 14x in OT. This is to turn back, aside, or away. Properly, it means to flinch, which implies moving away or going back. Literally it can mean retreat or figuratively it can mean backslide i.e. apostatize.
L “back” = gev. 7x in OT. From ga’ah (to rise up, increase, grow, be highly exalted; figuratively to be majestic). This is the back or body. By analogy, it is among or in the middle.
M “those who struck” = nakah. This is to hit whether lightly or severely. It can be used in a literal or figurative sense. So, this could be beat, punish, give wounds, kill, or slaughter.
N “hide” = sathar. This is hide, conceal, or be absent. It is hiding because something is covered – used in a literal or figurative sense.
O “insult” = kelimmah. From kalam (bearing shame, bringing dishonor or disgrace, humiliate insult, taunt, embarrass, reproach; properly to wound in a figurative sense). This is insult, disgrace, dishonor, humiliation, shame, or reproach.

The Lord God helpsP me;
    therefore I have not been disgraced;Q
therefore I have set my face like flint,
    and I know that I shall not be put to shame;R
    he who vindicatesS me is near.
Who will contendT with me?
    Let us stand upU together.
Who are my adversaries?V
    Let them confront me.

Notes on verses 7-8

P “helps” = azar. This is to help, protect, or support. Properly, to surround so as to provide aid.
Q “disgraced” = kalam. Related to “insult” in v6. See note O above.
R “put to shame” = bosh. Properly, this mean to be pale, which implies shame, disappointment, or confusion.
S “who vindicates” = tsadeq. From tsedeq (rightness, righteousness, just cause, vindication; that which is right in a natural, moral, or legal sense; abstractly equity; figuratively prosperity). This is being just or righteousness. It refers to right in a moral or legal sense. So, it can be doing justice, clearing oneself, or turning to righteousness.
T “contend” = rib. This is properly to toss or grapple. It is used figuratively to mean wrangling and so for arguments, complaints, or disputes. It is used in a legal setting for pleading or defending a case.
U “stand up” = amad. This is to stand up in a literal or figurative sense. So it can be establish, continue, endure, take a stand, act, be a servant, stand still, remain, stand against an enemy.
V “adversaries” = ba’al + mishpat. From baal (to marry, have dominion, be master). This is lord, owner, ally, or archer. Mishpat is 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.

9 W It is the Lord God who helps me;
    who will declare me guilty?X
YAll of them will wear out like a garment;
    the moth will eat them up.

Notes on verse 9

W {untranslated} = hen. This is a remark of surprise or excitement: lo! Behold! It can also mean if or though.
X “declare…guilty” = rasha. This is morally wrong so it refers to someone who is actively bad as wicked, criminal, an evil person, offender, condemned, or ungodly.
Y {untranslated} = hen. Same as v9. See note W above.

Image Credit: “Job – Out of the Depths I Call to You” by Andreas Neumann-Nochten.

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