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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Isaiah

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41.1–10 : A challenge issued to the nations.

The rhetoric of the law courts is much in evidence in chs 40–48 , with the nations challenged to identify the LORD as responsible for the great changes taking place on the international scene.

1–3 :

After the customary call for attention, the seer draws attention to Cyrus II, who by 545 BCE had conquered Media, Lydia, and the Greek‐speaking cities on the western seaboard of Asia Minor (the coastlands). The seer draws attention to the amazing rapidity of these conquests.

4–7 :

The God of Israel is behind these events. He is the first and the last (also 44.6; 48.12; cf. 43.10 ). The artisan, see 40.18–20n.

8–10 :

A word of encouragement is addressed to Israel‐Jacob, the LORD's servant. Servanthood is a basic motif in chs 40–66 , and is used with different meanings and different emphases. In chs 40–48 it refers to the people as a whole, with the possible exception of 42.1–4 .

8 :

Abraham, my friend, see 2 Chr 20.7 .

41.11–20 : Israel is assured of God's help.

11–16 :

Though politically insignificant, Israel will survive by the power of its God. In exilic texts the people of Israel are often referred to as Jacob, whose exile in Mesopotamia and return to the homeland mirrors the experience of the deportees and later Judeo‐Babylonians who came back to Judah (cf. Gen 28.13–16 ). The LORD as redeemer ( 43.14; 44.6; 47.4; see Ex 6.6; 15.13 ) is the first of many echoes of the Exodus tradition in these chapters.

17–20 :

The provision of water in the wilderness recalls the narrative tradition about national origins (Ex 15.22–25; 17.1–7; Num 20.2–13; cf. 49.10 ). The LORD will facilitate their return from foreign lands.

41.21–29 : A challenge addressed to the gods of other lands.

21–24 :

The LORD proves his power to effect what he proclaims by citing “the former things,” earlier prophecies now seen to be fulfilled ( 42.9; 43.18; 46.9; 48.3 ). Other deities fail this test and thus demonstrate their ineffectiveness and unreality (vv. 28–29; see 40.18–20n. ).

25–29 :

Cyrus is represented as coming from the north as well as from the east (as 42.2 ), since the north traditionally symbolizes danger (Jer 1.13–14; 4.6; etc), because north was the direction from which invading armies from Mesopotamia came.

27 :

Cf. 40.9 .

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