Notes for Isa 40:1LEB

The pronominal suffix is second masculine plural. The identity of the addressee is uncertain: (1) Yahweh’s people may be addressed, or (2) the unidentified heralds commanded to comfort Jerusalem.


Notes for Isa 40:2LEB

"speak to the heart of Jerusalem." Jerusalem is personified as a woman.


"that she is filled [with] her warfare." Some understand צָבָא (tsavah, "warfare") as meaning "hard service" or "compulsory labor" in this context.


"that her punishment is accepted [as satisfactory]."


"for she has received from the hand of Yahweh double." The principle of the double portion in punishment is also seen in Jer 16:18LEB; Jer 17:18LEB and Rev 18:6LEB. For examples of the double portion in Israelite law, see Exod 22:4-9LEB, (double restitution by a thief) and Deut 21:17LEB (double inheritance portion for the firstborn).


Notes for Isa 40:5LEB

Or "glory." Yahweh’s "glory" is his theophanic radiance and royal splendor (see Isa 6:3LEB; Isa 24:23LEB; Isa 35:2LEB; Isa 60:1LEB; Isa 66:18–19LEB).


"flesh" (so KJV, ASV, NASB); NAB, NIV "mankind"; TEV "the whole human race."


Or "indeed."


"the mouth of Yahweh has spoken" (so NASB, NIV, NRSV).


Notes for Isa 40:6LEB

"and he says." Apparently a second "voice" responds to the command of the first "voice."


The words "the first voice responds" are supplied in the translation for clarification. The first voice tells the second one what to declare.


"all flesh is grass." The point of the metaphor is explained in v. 7.


"and all his loyalty." The antecedent of the third masculine suffix is בָּשָׂר (basar, "flesh"), which refers collectively to mankind. The LXX, apparently understanding the antecedent as "grass," reads "glory," but חֶסֶד (khesed) rarely, if ever, has this nuance. The normal meaning of חֶסֶד ("faithfulness, loyalty, devotion") fits very well in the argument. Human beings and their faithfulness (verbal expressions of faithfulness are specifically in view; cf. NRSV "constancy") are short-lived and unreliable, in stark contrast to the decrees and promises of the eternal Yahweh.


Notes for Isa 40:7LEB

The Hebrew text has רוּחַ יְהוָה (ruakh yehvah), which in this context probably does not refer to Yahweh’s personal Spirit. The phrase is better translated "the breath of Yahweh," or "the wind of [i.e., sent by] Yahweh." Yahweh’s sovereign control over nature, including the hot desert winds that dry up vegetation, is in view here (cf. Ps 147:18LEB; Isa 59:19LEB).


"the people" (so KJV, ASV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).


Notes for Isa 40:8LEB

"but the word of our Yahweh stands forever." In this context the divine "word" specifically refers to his decreed promise assuring Jerusalem that her suffering is over and his glorious return imminent (vv. 1–5).


Notes for Isa 40:9LEB

The second feminine singular imperatives are addressed to personified Zion/Jerusalem, who is here told to ascend a high hill and proclaim the good news of Yahweh’s return to the other towns of Judah. Isa 41:27LEB and Isa 52:7LEB speak of a herald sent to Zion, but the masculine singular form מְבַשֵּׂר (mévaser) is used in these verses, in contrast to the feminine singular form מְבַשֶּׂרֶת (mévaseret) employed in Isa 40:9LEB, where Zion is addressed as a herald.


Notes for Isa 40:10LEB

"comes as a strong one"; ASV "will come as a mighty one." The preposition בְּ (bet) here carries the nuance "in the capacity of." It indicates that Yahweh possesses the quality expressed by the noun. See GKC 379 §119.i and HALOT 104 s.v. בְּ.


"his arm rules for him" (so NIV, NRSV). The Yahweh’s "arm" symbolizes his military power (see Isa 51:9–10LEB; Isa 63:5LEB).


As the Yahweh returns to Jerusalem as a victorious warrior, he brings with him the spoils of victory, called here his "reward" and "prize." These terms might also be translated "wages" and "recompense." Verse 11 indicates that his rescued people, likened to a flock of sheep, are his reward.


Notes for Isa 40:11LEB

"in his bosom" (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV), an expression which reflects closeness and protective care.


Notes for Isa 40:12LEB

The Qumran scroll 1QIsa has מי ים ("waters of the sea"), a reading followed by NAB.


"with a span." A "span" was the distance between the ends of the thumb and the little finger of the spread hand" (BDB 285 s.v. זֶרֶת).


Or "the heavens." The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated "heavens" or "sky" depending on the context.


"or weighed by a third part [of a measure]."


The implied answer to the rhetorical questions of v. 12 is "no one but Yahweh. Yahweh, and no other, created the world. Like a merchant weighing out silver or commodities on a scale, Yahweh established the various components of the physical universe in precise proportions.


Notes for Isa 40:13LEB

Perhaps the verb is used metonymically here in the sense of "advises" (note the following line).


In this context רוּחַ (ruakh) likely refers to Yahweh’s "mind," or mental faculties, rather than his personal Spirit (see BDB 925 s.v.).


"or [as] the man of his counsel causes him to know?"


Notes for Isa 40:14LEB

"With whom did he consult, so that he gave discernment to him?"


"and taught him." The vav (ו) consecutive with prefixed verbal form continues the previous line. The translation employs an interrogative pronoun for stylistic reasons.


The phrase אֹרַח מִשְׁפָּט (’orakh mishpat) could be translated "path of justice" (so NASB, NRSV), but in this context, where creative ability and skill is in view, the phrase is better understood in the sense of "the way that is proper or fitting" (see BDB 1049 s.v. מִשְׁפָּט 6); cf. NIV, NCV "the right way."


"or the way of understanding causes him to know?"


The implied answer to the rhetorical questions in vv. 13–14 is, "No one." In contrast to Marduk, the creator-god of Mesopotamian myths who receives help from the god of wisdom, Yahweh neither needs nor receives any such advice or help. See R. Whybray, Heavenly Counsellor (SOTSMS), 64–77.


Notes for Isa 40:15LEB

Or "weighs" (NIV); NLT "picks up."


Or "islands" (NASB, NIV, NLT).


Notes for Isa 40:16LEB

The words "for a sacrifice" are supplied in the translation for clarification.


The point is that not even the Lebanon forest could supply enough wood and animals for an adequate sacrifice to Yahweh.


Notes for Isa 40:17LEB

"[as derived] from nothing and unformed."


Notes for Isa 40:19LEB

"pours out"; KJV "melteth."


Notes for Isa 40:20LEB

The first two words of the verse (הַמְסֻכָּן תְּרוּמָה, hamsukan térumah) are problematic. Some take מְסֻכָּן as an otherwise unattested Pual participle from סָכַן (sakhan, "be poor") and translate "the one who is impoverished." תְּרוּמָה (térumah, "contribution") can then be taken as an adverbial accusative, "with respect to a contribution," and the entire line translated, "the one who is too impoverished for such a contribution [i.e., the metal idol of v. 19?] selects wood that will not rot." However, מְסֻכָּן is probably the name of a tree used in idol manufacturing (cognate with Akkadian musukkanu, cf. H. R. Cohen, Biblical Hapax Legomena [SBLDS], 133). מְסֻכָּן may be a scribal interpretive addition attempting to specify עֵץ (’ets) or עֵץ may be a scribal attempt to categorize מְסֻכָּן. How an idol constitutes a תְּרוּמָה ("contribution") is not entirely clear.


Or "set up" (ASV, NAB, NIV, NRSV); KJV, NASB "to prepare."


Notes for Isa 40:22LEB

"the circle of the earth" (so KJV, NIV, NRSV, NLT).


The words "before him" are supplied in the translation for clarification.


The otherwise unattested noun דֹּק (doq), translated here "thin curtain," is apparently derived from the verbal root דקק ("crush") from which is derived the adjective דַּק (daq, "thin"; see HALOT 229 s.v. דקק). The nuance "curtain" is implied from the parallelism (see "tent" in the next line).


The meaning of the otherwise unattested verb מָתַח (matakh, "spread out") is determined from the parallelism (note the corresponding verb "stretch out" in the previous line) and supported by later Hebrew and Aramaic cognates. See HALOT 654 s.v. מתה.


"like a tent [in which] to live"; NAB, NASB "like a tent to dwell (live NIV, NRSV) in."


Notes for Isa 40:25LEB

See the note on the phrase "the Holy One of Israel" in Isa 1:4LEB.


Notes for Isa 40:26LEB

"Lift on high your eyes and see."


The words "heavenly lights" are supplied in the translation for clarification. See the following lines.


"the one who brings out by number their host." The stars are here likened to a huge army that Yahweh leads out. Perhaps the next line pictures Yahweh calling roll. If so, the final line may be indicating that none of them dares "go AWOL." ("AWOL" is a military acronym for "absent without leave.")


"my way is hidden from Yahweh" (so NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).


"and from my Yahweh my justice passes away"; NRSV "my right is disregarded by my Yahweh."


Notes for Isa 40:28LEB

"the ends of the earth," but this is a merism, where the earth’s extremities stand for its entirety, i.e., the extremities and everything in between them.


Exiled Israel’s complaint (v. 27) implies that Yahweh might be limited in some way. Perhaps he, like so many of the pagan gods, has died. Or perhaps his jurisdiction is limited to Judah and does not include Babylon. Maybe he is unable to devise an adequate plan to rescue his people, or is unable to execute it. But v. 28 affirms that he is not limited temporally or spatially nor is his power and wisdom restricted in any way. He can and will deliver his people, if they respond in hopeful faith (v. 31a).


Notes for Isa 40:30LEB

"stumbling they stumble." The verbal idea is emphasized by the infinitive absolute.


Notes for Isa 40:31LEB

The words "for Yahweh’s help" are supplied in the translation for clarification.


"they rise up [on] wings like eagles" (TEV similar).