Isaiah 49
Contemporary English Version

The Work of the Lord's Servant

1 Everyone, listen,

even you foreign nations

across the sea.

The Lord chose me

and gave me a name

before I was born.

2 He made my words pierce

like a sharp sword

or a pointed arrow;

he kept me safely hidden

in the palm of his hand.

3The Lord said to me,

“Israel, you are my servant;

and because of you

I will be highly honored.”

4I said to myself,

“I'm completely worn out;

my time has been wasted.

But I did it for the Lord God,

and he will reward me.”

5Even before I was born,

the Lord God chose me

to serve him and to lead back

the people of Israel.

So the Lord has honored me

and made me strong.

6 Now the Lord says to me,

“It isn't enough for you

to be merely my servant.

You must do more than lead back

survivors from the tribes

of Israel.

I have placed you here as a light

for other nations;

you must take my saving power

to everyone on earth.”

The Lord Will Rescue His People

7Israel, I am the holy Lord God,

the one who rescues you.

You are slaves of rulers

and of a nation

who despises you.+

Now this is what I promise:

Kings and rulers will honor you

by kneeling at your feet.

You can trust me! I am your Lord,

the holy God of Israel,

and you are my chosen ones.

The Lord Will Lead His People Home

8 This is what the Lord says:

I will answer your prayers

because I have set a time

when I will help

by coming to save you.

I have chosen you

to take my promise of hope

to other nations.+

You will rebuild the country

from its ruins,

then people will come

and settle there.

9You will set prisoners free

from dark dungeons

to see the light of day.

On their way home,

they will find plenty to eat,

even on barren hills.

10 They won't go hungry

or get thirsty;

they won't be bothered

by the scorching sun

or hot desert winds.

I will be merciful

while leading them along

to streams of water.

11I will level the mountains

and make roads.

12Then my people will return

from distant lands

in the north and the west

and from the city of Syene.+

The Lord's Mercy

13Tell the heavens and the earth

to celebrate and sing;

command every mountain

to join in the song.

The Lord's people have suffered,

but he has shown mercy

and given them comfort.

14The people of Zion said,

“The Lord has turned away

and forgotten us.”

15The Lord answered,

“Could a mother forget a child

who nurses at her breast?

Could she fail to love an infant

who came from her own body?

Even if a mother could forget,

I will never forget you.

16A picture of your city

is drawn on my hand.

You are always in my thoughts!

17“Your city will be built faster

than it was destroyed+

those who attacked it

will retreat and leave.

18Look around! You will see

your people coming home.

As surely as I live,

I, the Lord, promise

that your city with its people

will be as lovely as a bride

wearing her jewelry.”

Jerusalem's Bright Future

19Jerusalem is now in ruins!

Nothing is left of the city.

But it will be rebuilt

and soon overcrowded;

its cruel enemies

will be gone far away.

20Jerusalem is a woman

whose children were born

while she was in deep sorrow+

over the loss of her husband.

Now those children

will come and seek room

in the crowded city,

21and Jerusalem will ask,

“Am I really their mother?

How could I have given birth

when I was still mourning

in a foreign land?

Who raised these children?

Where have they come from?”

22 The Lord God says:

“I will soon give a signal

for the nations

to return your sons

and your daughters

to the arms of Jerusalem.

23The kings and queens

of those nations

where they were raised

will come and bow down.

They will take care of you

just like a slave

taking care of a child.

Then you will know

that I am the Lord.

You won't be disappointed

if you trust me.”

The Lord Is on Our Side

24Is it possible to rescue victims

from someone strong

and cruel?+

25But the Lord has promised

to fight on our side

and to rescue our children

from those strong

and violent enemies.

26He will make those cruel people

dine on their own flesh

and get drunk from drinking

their own blood.

Then everyone will know

that the Lord is our Savior;

the powerful God of Israel

has rescued his people.


49.7 You … you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
49.8 my … nations: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
49.12 Syene: The Dead Sea Scrolls; the Standard Hebrew Text “Sinim.” This city was located at the first cataract of the Nile near the site of modern-day Aswan.
49.17 Your city … destroyed: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
49.20 whose children … sorrow: These “children” are Jews who were born in foreign countries during the time that Jerusalem was in ruins. Jerusalem probably stands for all the cities in Judah that were destroyed by the Babylonians.
49.24 cruel: The Dead Sea Scrolls and two ancient translations; the Standard Hebrew Text “good.”

Contemporary English Version, Second Edition (CEV®)

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