Larry Hunt's Bible Commentary


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Isaiah 50

Chapter Fifty:

v. 1:  I think the mother in this analogy is still (from chapter forty-nine) Mount Zion, or at least “Israel” as an abstraction separate from the Israelites themselves, who are her children.  The questions in this verse are rhetorical, so their answers are implied in the questions themselves.  The questions are as follows:

Did I divorce your mother? (No.)

Did I sell you off as if I were in trouble with debt and needed the money? (No.)

Nevertheless, their mother “was put away” and they themselves “were sold,”[1] so how did these things come about?  Their own sin, not the will of God, brought both things about.  There is a danger of confusing this  analogy with other analogies in the Bible which do describe God as divorcing Israel, but the analogy in this chapter is emphasizing the truth that the Jews brought misfortune on themselves by sinning, whereas scriptures that describe God as actively divorcing Israel emphasize the truth that God was justified in divorcing Israel because she was (they were) so sinful.  To view the analogy in this chapter as contradictory to those in other verses is to take the analogy too far.

Vs. 4-9:  The first three verses of this chapter are spoken by God.  I and most other Christians believe that verses 4-9 (and possibly 10 and 11 as well) are spoken by Jesus, but there has been some debate as to whether these verses are spoken by a human prophet like Isaiah himself or Jeremiah.  I will not deny that the suffering endured by the righteous speaker in these verses is comparable to the sufferings endured by Isaiah or Jeremiah, but I do not believe either one is the speaker.  All the chapters surrounding this one deal with an unnamed, suffering servant of God who will save the people of God.  If the speakers were meant to be Isaiah or Jeremiah, it seems like the writer would have named them or had them speak in their own voices as Isaiah does earlier in the book or as Jeremiah does throughout the book of Jeremiah.  Besides, this suffering servant also has the qualities of a conquering king (49:7) who will save all humanity, including Gentiles (49:6).  Such qualities do not describe Isaiah or Jeremiah.  Sometimes Cyrus, the Persian king who rescued Israel from Babylon and allowed them to return to Judah, is used to foreshadow this servant, but obviously the servant and Cyrus are two different people.  Just as Isaiah and Jeremiah suffered in the service of God but were not kings, so Cyrus was a king but did not suffer the type of rejection and humiliation in the name of God that this unnamed servant suffers.  Neither Cyrus, not Isaiah, nor Jeremiah had all the qualities attributed to this unnamed, suffering servant.  But Jesus did.

v. 5:  I think the servant’s statement “I was not rebellious,” which comes just before he says that he allowed himself to be abused by the people of Israel, implies that God told the servant to allow himself to be abused.

v. 7:  “I have set my face like flint” means that the servant is patient and determined.

v. 10:  Saying that the servant of God “walks in the darkness and has no light” seems strange to me because such language is typically used to describe those who are ignorant of God, but I think, in this context, “walking in the darkness” refers to the fear and suffering this servant will have to endure as he serves God.  If this is the correct interpretation, a beautiful irony presents itself when one reads this verse in conjunction with verse eleven where the enemies of God are called “kindlers of fire.”  There, the fire that they kindle (the light that they have made for themselves) is the instrument of their own destruction.

[1] Notice how, in the English anyway, the voice becomes passive Your mother was put away rather than active, as in I put her away.  This helps convey the point that God was not the active agent behind the divorce or the enslavement.


2 Responses to “Isaiah 50”

  1. […] have updated my Bible commentary notes to include chapters 48, 49, 50, and 51 of Isaiah.  As always, feel free to leave comments! Like this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  2. […] have updated my Bible commentary notes to include chapters 48, 49, 50, and 51 of Isaiah.  As always, feel free to leave comments! Like this:LikeBe the first to like […]

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