Isaiah 43
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures

Redemption or Salvation in its Entire Compass

CHAPTER 43:1–44:5


CHAPTER 43:1–8

1          BUT now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob,

And he that formed thee, O Israel,

Fear not: for I have redeemed thee,

I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

2     When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee;

And through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee:

When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned;

Neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

3     For I am the LORD thy God,

The Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour:

I gave Egypt for thy ransom,

Ethiopia and Seba for thee.

4     Since thou wast precious in my sight,

Thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee:

Therefore will I give men for thee,

And people for thy 1life.

5     Fear not: for I am with thee;

I will bring thy seed from the east,

And gather thee from the west;

6     I will say to the north, Give up;

And to the south, Keep not back:

Bring my sons from far,

And my daughters from the ends of the earth;

7     Even every one that is called by my name:

2For I have created him for my glory, I have formed him;

Yea, I have made him.

8     3Bring forth the blind people that have eyes,

And the deaf that have ears.


See List for recurrence of the words: Isa 43:1. –ועתה בָּרָא which occurs in reference to Israel again, Isa 43:7, 15; 65:18.—גאל–יצֹרּ see on 41:14קרא בשׁם see on 41:25. Isa 43:2. בָּעַר–בָּוָה–שׁטפ, see 42:25. Isa 43:3. כֹּפֶר. Isa 43:4. כַּבַד–יָקַר Niph.

Isa 43:1. On אל תירא see on 40:9.—לי אתה occurs only here.

Isa 43:3. In the causal clause, אני is subject, יהוה apposition with it, אלהיך predicate. קדושׁ ישׂראל is also in apposition with אני, and מושׁיעך is predicate. This construction is demanded partly for the sake of symmetry, partly the sense requires that in the first member אלהיד be predicate. For just in the notion of divinity lies the notion of capacity to give protection and help.

Isa 43:4. מֵאֲשֶׁר, for which stands מִפְּנֵי אֲשֶׁר (Exod. 19:18; Jer. 44:23). occurs in this causal sense, only here. When the apodosis is formed with the Vav. cons. and the imperf., it intimates that the notion of giving is conceived of as only eventual: because thou art dear to me, so I would (if need be) give men (generally and in indefinite number) in thy stead, and nations (undetermined which and how many, in antithesis with the definite, Isa 43:3 b), for thy soul. Comp. EWALD, § 136 sq.—Thus Isa 43:4 b in relation to Isa 43:3 b contains an intensification.

Isa 43:6, 7. It corresponds to the close connection between these two verses to construe Isa 43:7 formally as in apposition with Isa 43:6, whence we must reject the exposition of HITZIG and HAHN, who take כל הנקרא as a statement put first absolutely.—בראתיו וגו׳, that the participle merges into the verb. fin. happens according to the well known Heb. usus loq.


1. Having spoken in chapters 41, 42 of the Deliverer (in the first and second stage) and of those delivered, the Prophet now deals with the Deliverance in its entire extent. In this discourse he gives first (Isa 43:1–8) a general view by enumerating the chief ingredients of the deliverance: it rests on the divine redemptive-decree (Isa 43:1); nothing shall prevent it (Isa 43:2); no price is too great for it; for the sake of it nations even would be sacrificed, which shows the value of Israel in the LORD’S eyes (Isa 43:3, 4); it is to embrace all Israel, all the scattered members to be called in from all parts of the earth (Isa 43:5–7); but finally it is attached to a subjective condition, viz., spiritual receptivity (Isa 43:8).

2. But now—thy life.

Isa 43:1-4. With “and now” the Prophet turns from the troubled pictures of the future, presented at the close of the preceding chapter, to joyful and comforting outlooks. The LORD had created and formed (44:2, 24; 45:11 (49:5); 64:7), Israel, in as much as he had caused them to grow up to a nation by means of their ancestors from Adam on successively. קרא בשׁם, as in 40:26; 45:3, 4, signifies the more exact acquaintance. By reason of the fact that the LORD Himself made Israel and from the beginning prepared him as an instrument of His purposes, He calls to the nation living in exile, not to fear, for three things are determined: that Israel shall be delivered, be called to the LORD (comp. 48:12) and belong to him alone. Thus the Perfects—I have redeemed thee—I have called thee—are praeterita prophetica, and the last three clauses contain an ascending climax. Israel must not suffer itself to be deceived about this promise. It is very possible that, even after receiving it, the nation may pass through great trials—that, as it were, it must pass through waters—even there will the LORD be with it; that it must even pass through rivers (allusion to the Red Sea, Exod. 14, and the Jordan, Josh. 3)—the streams will not overflow them. Fire itself will as little hurt them. The ground for this security is the same that prompts the call fear not. Jehovah, Israel’s God, is also Israel’s protector.

In what sense does Jehovah give other nations as a ransom for Israel?HAHN understands it to mean that other nations are given to destruction as satisfaction for the injustice done Israel. But why does Jehovah give to destruction, not the nations themselves that carried Israel into exile, but other nations? According to KNOBEL’S idea, Cyrus is conceived as having some claim on the Jews belonging to the Babylonish kingdom. For letting them go free, satisfaction is offered to him in new conquests in Egypt, Ethiopia, and Meroe. But the Persian kingdom did not lose the Jews as subjects. Palestine belonged to it, and those returning back to it belonged to it. The relation must be more exactly defined thus: the world-power, conceived of in a sense as a bird of prey, shall have offered to it Egypt, Ethiopia and Seba to devour, as indemnity for the mildness it has used to Israel contrary to its nature. It is true Cyrus did not himself make war on Egypt. What Xenophon says on this subject he characterizes as merely hearsay (μετὰ ταῦτα ἡ εἰς Αἴγυπτον στρατεία λέγεται γενέσθαι καὶ καταστρέψασθαι Αἴγυπτον, Cyrop. VIII. 6, 20 coll. 1:1, 4). HERODOTUS relates that Cyrus only had a purpose of making war on Egypt (ἐπεῖ͂χε στρατηλατέειν ἐπι τοὺς Αἰγυπτίους, I. 153). The actual conquest of Egypt was made by Cambyses his son, who also at least attempted the conquest of Ethiopia (HEROD. III. 25). It may be said of him, that in Egypt he made havoc in the brutal manner of a genuine world-power. Egypt’s being subjected to this was probably a nemesis for much that it had practised on other nations before, and especially also on Israel. According to Gen. 10:6, 7, Cush was the older brother of Mizraim, and Seba the oldest son of Cush. It cannot be doubted that the Prophet understood by Cush and Seba the lands that bounded Egypt on the south. By Cush, therefore, must certainly be understood African Ethiopia (11:11; 18:1; 20:3; 37:9). Seba is Meroe, the city lying between the White and Blue Nile, which HERODOTUS calls the μητρόπολις τῶν τε͂ν ἄλλων Αἰθιόπων (II. 29). Comp. STADE,De vatt.Is. aeth. p. 13. Isaiah mentions the Sabeans in only one other place (45:14), and there as here after Egypt and Ethiopia. כּפֶר, properly “covering” then = כִּפוּר “expiation, ransom, indemnity,” occurs only here in Isaiah. This statement that other nations shall be offered up as satisfaction for Israel, expresses the high value that Israel has in God’s eyes, and makes plain in what a glorious sense Jehovah calls Himself Israel’s God and Redeemer. He discharges this office with such consistency and energy that, if need be, He will give such great nations as those named in Isa 43:3, as the price of their deliverance. If it be asked, why He undertakes such an office? He replies: because Israel is precious in my eyes, honorable, and I have loved thee. Love, then, is the ground that determines Jehovah to assume that protectorate. מֵאֲשֶׁר see Text, and Gram.

3. Fear not—have ears.

Isa 43:5-8. The “fear not” connects what follows with the “fear not” Isa 43:1, as a new phase of the salvation bringing future. The verses 1–4 speak of the deliverance in respect to its ground (Isa 43:1), under all circumstances (Isa 43:2), and at any price (Isa 43:3, 4). In this section the particular is made prominent, that all members of the holy nation, no matter how distant nor in what direction, shall be brought back home (comp. 11:11 sq.). In Isa 43:5b and 6a the four points of the compass are severally enumerated. Give up, and keep not back manifestly involve a contrast with “none saith, Restore” 42:22. This latter expression is qualified by our passage. The condition it describes is not to be forever, but only to a certain period of time. קַבֵּץ, on the ground of its use Deut. 30:3, 4 is the conventional expression for the return of Israel from the Exile (11:12; 54:7; Mic. 2:12; Jer. 29:14; Ezek. 11:17, etc.). In the second half of Isa 43:6 a subject is addressed that we must conceive of as the combination of the four quarters of the heavens. The entire earth, then, is meant. Hence, too, the feminine, which previously already was applied to the North and South, as parts of the entire earth. In הביאי, as related to אביא Isa 43:5, there is an intensifying of the thought: not only the LORD brings, the lands themselves must co-operate in this bringing Israel back (14:2). Isa 43:7 gives the reason for the foregoing thought. All the members of the nation must be gathered for this reason, because they all bear Jehovah’s name, and were made for His honor (see Text, and Gram.). הנקרא בשׁמי is “He that is called by means of my name,” i.e., who is called a belonging of Jehovah’s (65:1). For the Temple is not itself called “Jehovah” because Jehovah’s name is named upon it (Jer. 7:10); and just as little is one that is called by means of Jehovah’s name, Himself called Jehovah. Comp. the remarks on 4:2 and 41:25. This bearing of Jehovah’s name is, as it were, a stamp that denotes that the one so marked was called into being (ברא), formed (יצר) and finished (comp. Isa 43:1, 21) to the honor of Jehovah. How shall such an one be destroyed, in whose preparation the LORD has so greatly concerned Himself?

Isa 43:8, is by many connected with what follows. But that would require us to construe הוֹצִיא in as imperative, which would be utterly abnormal. Beside, (and that is the chief thing), neither “bring forth, nor the designation of the nation as being blind yet having eyes find an adequate motive in the context.

Three things I think must be insisted on: 1) that our passage looks back to 42:7. There it was said of the Servant of Jehovah, that He was destined to open blind eyes, and to lead (להוציא) prisoners out of prison; 2) That where three predicates, “blind, deaf, imprisoned” are joined to one and the same subject, the sense is quite different from what it would be if only one of these predicates were joined to one subject. For the former case affirms only the accumulation of every sort of suffering upon one and the same subject; whereas the latter case really concerns in some sense or other the special condition of sickness named (see on 42:16). 3) It makes a great difference whether I say: “they have eyes and see not,” or “they are blind and have eyes.” For the former signifies that although they have eyes they still do not see; the latter that their blindness does not hinder them from seeing, i.e., their blindness is only relative in respect to kind, degree or time. Accordingly, I construe Isa 43:8 as concluding the first strophe of this chapter. And this conclusion is in the words of the Prophet himself, by which he intimates that the LORD, by accomplishing what is promised Isa 43:1–7, realizes at the same time what is held out 42:7. The LORD delivers Israel but of its sufferings of all sorts in which it has languished like the blind in bonds of blindness, like the deaf in the prison of deafness, because this people, wretched as a blind or deaf person, still spiritually sees and hears, i.e., has turned its spiritual eye to the countenance of its God, and its spiritual ear to His word. If elsewhere Israel is reproached for not seeing with eyes that might see, and not hearing with ears that might hear (6:9, 10; Matt. 13:13 sq.), so here to its praise it is said that, spite of physical blindness, and deafness, or spite of all physical wretchedness figuratively represented by blindness and deafness, it will be still spiritually healthy and thereby ripe for and susceptible of deliverance. And with this is intimated also that spiritual redemption is to be an ingredient of the future, thus the redemption from sin, of which the last two strophes speak more extendedly (Isa 43:22–44:5).



(Fourth application of prophecy in this sense)

CHAPTER 43:9–13

9          4 Let all the nations be gathered together,

And let the people be assembled:

Who among them can declare this, and 5shew us former things?

Let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified:

Or let 6them hear, and say, It is truth.

10     Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD,

And my servant whom I have chosen:

That ye may know and believe me

And understand that I am he:

Before me there was 7no God formed,

Neither shall there be after me.

11     I, even I, am the LORD;

And beside me there is no Saviour.

12     I have declared, and have saved,

And I 8have shewed, when there was no strange god among you:

9Therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD,

eThat I am God.

13     Yea, 10before the day was I am he;

And there is none that 11can deliver out of my hand:

I will work, and who shall 12 let it?


Isa 43:9. In the succession of the verbal forms נקבצו (perf.) and יאספו (imperf.), it seems to me the meaning is, that the former would express the fact of all nations being assembled, the latter, however, the hypothetical wish, that, if any nation be wanting, it also be summoned. That such is the sense appears from the fact that כֹּל does not stand before לאמים. For it follows therefrom that to the assembled total shall be opposed only casual single individuals. Hence it seems to me unnecessary to construe נקבצו as imperative.

Isa 43:12. The clauses here are simply connected paratactically by וְ. But their more exact logical relation is as follows: הגדתי והושׁעתי is to be regarded as principal clause, to whose two members other two subordinate clauses correspond, each of whish has likewise two members. והשׁמעתי ואין בכם זר corresponds to the first member of the principal clause as an explication of it; but ואתם עדי וגו׳ corresponds to the second member as assigning the ground for it.

Isa 43:13. מִיּוֹם occurs again only Ezek. 48:35 as marking a time that connects with an ideal beginning. Everywhere else it leans on a real terminus a quo. The construction מִהְיוֹת יוֹם, “since days are,” i.e., ever in the past, is justified neither by usage nor the context. For one looks for something new. But the thought that Jehovah is of old is already adequately expressed Isa 43:10. One may compare מִיָּמִים (Judg. 15:1; Ezek. 38:8), which properly means “from days onward,” i.e., from a point of time onwards, till the entrance of which an indefinite number of days elapse. Therefore מִיּוֹם is not “from to-day on.” Else why should it not read: מִן הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה? Comp. Ezek. 39:22; Hag. 2:15,18,19. But it properly means, “from a period with which ends an ideally present יוֹם, onwards.” This יוֹם is the period of deliverance indicated in what precedes.


1. In all the foregoing chapters Jehovah, as the only true God, is contrasted with the idols; and especially from chapter 41 on it is made prominent as proof of the divinity of Jehovah, that He is able to declare the remote past and the remote future and the connection of both. In the same way the Prophet here joins on to the comforting promise of Isa 43:1–8, an argument that uses the promise of redemption as a proof of the divinity of Jehovah.

2. Let all the nations—after me.

Isa 43:9, 10. The Prophet institutes a grand and bold comparison. On the one side he sees all the great heathen world assembled and on the other only Israel. (See Text and Gram.). And now he lets the Lord address to the former an inquiry, whether among their tremendous multitude there is even one prophetic spirit that can prophesy as He has prophesied in Isa 43:1–8. Who among them can (will) declare this. This “who” does not refer directly to some divinity conceived of as among the crowd of people, but to some prophet, rather, thought of as organ of a divinity. But “this” can only refer to what has just been foretold Isa 43:1–8. But how can such a prophecy be looked for out of the midst of the heathen world? Were a genuine prophetic spirit in the midst of it, then, spite of all antipathy to Israel, it must still be able to see the fact and announce it beforehand just as well as Jehovah Himself. For the genuine prophet must see the facts of the future simply as they will occur in reality. But the God of Israel will also let facts of an earlier date avail. If, then, the idol-prophets can cite in their favor earlier prophecies proceeding from them, they may be allowed to do so. Former things, comp. on 40:22; 42:9. But in either case, he that designates an historical fact as the fulfilment of a prophecy of his, must prove that this prophecy actually proceeded from him. He must produce witnesses for this. These witnesses can, indeed, be chosen now, but may only be summoned to give their testimony at the time of the fulfilment. For only at the time named is their testimony possible and necessary. Possible, for only then can the prophecy and fulfilment be compared and the latter be seen to correspond with the former; necessary, for only at the time of the fulfilment does the necessity appear for inquiring who is the author of the prophecy in question. Let them bring forth their witnesses, therefore, refers to the time of the fulfilment; when this has followed, then they shall produce their witnesses, in order, by their declarations, to be recognized as just, i.e, as veracious and as representatives of a real divine power. יצדקו cannot possibly mean “to say the truth” (HITZIG), for at that moment, those that produce the witnesses, have no more to say. Rather it must then appear whether what they have said at an earlier time be the truth. Therefore צָדַק is here, as in Isa 43:26 and 45:25, simply “to be righteous.” Hence, and because אֱמֶת (comp. 41:26צדיק) is the declaration of the judge and not of the witness, the subject of let them hear and say must be those before whom the witnesses appear. For this reason we translate: “let one hear and say.”

From the side of the heathen world comes no response to the challenge of Isa 43:9. It is in no condition to respond. The LORD then turns to Israel to declare that He will perform what the others are unable to perform. Ye are My witnesses, he says. By this He would say: I say it now to you in advance, in order that, when it once comes to pass, ye may testify that I foretold it. And My Servant, is taken by many as a second subject: ye and My Servant be My witnesses. But then the Servant must be a subject distinct from the people Israel. Would one understand by this the personal Servant of Jehovah, it were against this that the Servant cannot yet be present at the time of Cyrus, for Cyrus himself is in fact related to Him as prophetic type. Or would one understand by that other subject the believing nucleus of the nation, then that would need to be otherwise expressed. An expression must be chosen that would distinguish that Servant from the mass of the nation. But such a distinction is nowhere in the context, which deals primarily only with the antithesis of Israel and the heathen world. The latter is a mass of people without God, and hence without prophecy; but Israel is the people of Jehovah and the place of His revelation. For this reason precisely it is the instrument that the LORD has chosen in order also to reveal Himself to the heathen. In “and My servant,” etc., there lies, therefore, the idea that Israel as the servant of Jehovah is at the same time according to the nature of things His witness in the sense indicated above. But Jehovah demands that Israel shall become witness, not for His interest, but for Israel’s own interest. By the facts that they verify they are to draw for themselves the conclusion that Jehovah alone is the true God. The Prophet expresses this by the words: that ye may know and believe Me,etc.תדעו may either (zeugmatically) take the object of תאמנו, or it can have the absolute meaning “to acquire knowledge, sapere” (44:18; 45:20; 32:4). Even faith presumes a certain knowledge, for one cannot believe in that of which he knows absolutely nothing. But faith is equally the condition of a correct knowledge of divine things. For without loving self surrender to God, an understanding of His being is impossible. And then the Prophet may with equal right designate faith as the product and as the condition of knowledge. On I am He see on 41:4. In there was no God formed there is of course no implied assumption that Jehovah was formed, but rather the contrary assumption underlies it, that Jehovah is the sole and only true God, a thought that is implied in I am He. If this be so, then besides Him there can only be fabricated gods, dei ficticii (comp. 44:10). Had there been a god before Him it could only have been a fictitious god. But as there was no sort of god before Him, so, too, none was made before Him. And since whatever is made must have a beginning, and necessarily, too, must have an end, so must all these fictitious gods cease to be. Therefore none can survive Jehovah.

3. I, even I——let it.

Isa 43:11-13. These verses conclude the foregoing series of thoughts by recapitulating the chief particulars, and adding several important inferences. I, I am Jehovah: that such is the proper rendering appears from the fact that the Jehovah-name manifestly corresponds to the latter part of Isa 43:10, the sentiment of which is comprehended in that name. For if before the LORD there was no god, and there will be none after Him, then He is the One that was and shall be the eternally Existent, i.e., Jehovah (comp. Exod. 3:14). And, because this entire part of Isaiah deals with the deliverance of Israel and the ground and consequences of it, it is added: and beside Me there is no Saviour comp. Isa 43:3; 45:21, and the List). Therefore Israel must take care not to look for its salvation from any other. As מוֹשׁיע, “Saviour,” refers back to Isa 43:3, so הגדתי and השׁמעתיI have declared——I have shewed” refer to Isa 43:9. According to the argument in Isa 43:9, prophecy and fulfilment are proof of divinity. This proof Jehovah gives. I announce, He says, and I save. The perfects present the thought apodictically as a fact accomplished. The salvation, indeed, is still future, and must be waited for. But the announcement is, in respect to time, in the past, and, as an actual deed of Jehovah’s, can now already be proved. Hence this particular is not only repeated in השׁמעתי “I have declared,” but also supported by an argumentum a non existente altero. Jehovah must have announced because no other, or strange god (זָר as in Deut. 32:16; Ps. 44:21; 81:10), was in Israel. In this there is an assumption that there exist real, super-terrestrial powers beside Jehovah. But none of the kind have power in Israel. The idols that Israel worshipped are not reckoned, for they are to be regarded as nothing (41:23 sq.). On the logical connection of Isa 43:12 see Text and Gram. We remarked before that הושׁעתי, I have saved refers to a future deed that is to be waited for. But there is a guaranty of its fulfilment. Israel is even set up as testimony, Isa 43:10, and the LORD will and can do that to which Israel testifies, for He is God, the Strong One (אֵל comp. 46:9 and the List). Thus the sense of Isa 43:12 is as follows: that I am the proclaimer of salvation follows because beside Me there was no one that could proclaim it; and that I will carry out also what I have proclaimed is guaranteed by your being in evidence and by My strength.

Isa 43:13 refers to the future following the period of the promised deliverance (see Text, and Gram.). Thus the LORD does not content Himself here with prophesying to the time of the deliverance. He goes further He gives assurance that after it has come also, He will remain the same. Therefore הוא in this place is idem (comp. 41:4). Israel is redeemed. The words none delivereth from My hand cannot apply to it here, as the similar words do, indeed, 42:22. Rather, after Israel’s deliverance, only the heathen are in the hand of God as objects of His judgment. Therefore these words concern them. But finally, as the end of all history, it will appear that all thoughts and counsels of God must inevitably find their accomplishment. “Sein Werk kann niemand hindern.” Comp. 14:27.



CHAPTER 43:14–21

14          Thus saith the LORD,

Your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel;

For your sake I have sent to Babylon,

13And have brought down all their 14nobles,

And the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships.

15     I am the LORD, your Holy One,

The Creator of Israel, your king.

16     Thus saith the LORD,

Which15 maketh a way in the sea,

And a path in the mighty waters;

17     Which16 bringeth forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power;

They shall lie down together, they shall not rise:

They are extinct, they are quenched as tow.

18     Remember ye not the former things,

Neither consider the things of old.

19     Behold, 17 I will do a new thing;

Now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?

18 I will even make a way in the wilderness,

And rivers in the desert.

20     The beast of the field shall honor me,

The19 dragons and the 20 21owls:

Because I give waters in the wilderness,

And rivers in the desert,

To give drink to my people, my chosen.

21     This people have I formed for myself;

They shall show forth my praise.


See List for the recurrence of the words: Isa 43:14. בְּרִיחַ–רִנָּה. Isa 43:16.נְתִיבָה–עַז. Isa 43:17. כָּבָה–דָּעַךְ. Isa 43:18. קדמניות–התבונן–ראשׁנות. Isa 43:19.–חדשׁה נהרות–ישׁימון. ver.20. תַּנִּים. comp. 13:22.בָּחִיר–השׁקה. Isa 43:21. סִפֵּר–תהלה.

Isa 43:14. The context shows that שׁלחתי is the praeter. propheticum.——The following words are very difficult. The correct understanding of בריחים is of first importance. Most expositors render it “fugitives.” But who are the fugitives? According to some they are the πάμμικτος ὄχλος of the world’s emporium (DELITZSCH), “the concurrent nations in the commercial city of Babylon” (GESENIUS). This construction takes proper account of the וְ before כשׂדים, by distinguishing the fugitives from the Chaldeans. But why call those foreigners precisely fugitives? Why not say then גֵרִים or עֶרֶב (Jer. 50:37), or the like? And do not the Chaldeans flee, too? How then could the foreigners be distinguished from the Chaldeans just by the designation “fugitives?” This objection lies even more against DELITZSCH’S construction than against that of GESENIUS. For according to DELITZSCH כֻּלָּם is the chief notion, בריחים only an attribute joined on in the form of apposition. But then how in the world does the notion כֹּל come to designate the foreigners in distinction from the Chaldeans?——Since JEROME, many (ABENESRA, ABARBANEL, CASTALIO, FORERIUS, SEB. SCHMIDT, UMBREIT, etc.) have read בְּרִיחִים=“bars,” and understood that breaking down bars is meant. Then it would be declared that the prison of the Israelites would be opened. GESENIUS testifies “that the departure from the points in such a case were a small matter.” And, of course, it might easily happen, especially in the unpointed text, that barichim would be spoken instead of berichim. But in general the reading בָּרִיחִים has the evidences in its favor, and we cannot permit ourselves to depart from it needlessly. Others, as HAHN, understand the Chaldeans themselves to be meant by בריחים. But if this word and כשׂדים be object of הורדתי, then וְ before the latter is inexplicable. I therefore (on the ground of Deut. 28:68, see Comment below) construe כשׂדים as acc. loci, to the question, whither? The Prophet might have written, indeed, כַּשְׂדִּֽימָה, which occurs often enough. But, influenced by Deut. 28:68, he writes here כשׂדים as מִצְרַיִם is written there. באניות is used in both places with a similar construction and meaning. וְ connects, not the word, but the entire clause, as e.g., Jer. 50:44.——רִנָּתָם is subject of the clause whose predicate consists in the words כשׂדים באיות רִנָּה means “shout;” mostly in a joyful sense, but it occurs, too, in regard to lamentation, especially with suffixes: Jer. 14:12; Ps. 106:44. To this exposition of the last member of Isa 43:14, the foregoing והורדתי forms a fitting introduction. For this הוֹרִיד takes place, according to our signification, both in the neuter and in the local sense: with the בריחים there is a going downwards not only down the Euphrates, but from their previous elevation.

Isa 43:15 is to be construed as apposition with the subject of שׁלחתי and הורדתי Isa 43:14.

Isa 43:16. It comes to substantially the same thing whether the participles נוֹתֵן and מוֹצִיא are rendered by the preterite or present. Still I prefer the former, because Isa 43:17 b and Isa 43:18 better agree with it.——מַיִם עַזִּים occurs again only Neh. 9:11.

Isa 43:17. מוציא, elsewhere the Hiph., is the standing expression for leading Israel out of Egypt (comp. Exod. 20:2; Deut. 5:6; 13:6, etc.). Here it is used of the Egyptians. It is even the LORD, that occasioned also the marching out of the Egyptian army.——רכב־וסום, which rhymes with חיל ועזוז, recalls Exod. 14:9; 15:1,19, 21. Elsewhere it generally reads סום ורכב (Deut. 20:1; Josh. 11:4; 1 Kings 20:1; 2 Kings 6:15; Ezek. 39:20). The transposition in our text, which is for the sake of the rhyme, occurs again only Ps. 76:7 חיל, too, occurs in the Song of Moses, Exod. 15:4.——עִזּוּז “robustus, validus,” beside here, occurs only Ps. 24:8 where it is paired with גִּבּוֹר——Imperf. ישׁכבו signifies the continuance, בל־יקומו (comp. 26:14; on the use of בל see on 26:8) is future; the perfects דָּֽעֲכוּ and כָּבוּ signify the completed fact.

Isa 43:19. חדשׁה only here in a neutral sense in the sing., beside Jer. 31:22: חדשׁות 42:9; 48:6. It is known that הֲלֹא is often used in the sense of an emphatic affirmative. Comp. e.g., 1 Sam. 20:37; 1 Kings 11:41, etc. It is used very often for הִנֵּה. Not only does the LXX. very often translate it by ἰδού (Deut. 3:11; Josh. 1:9, etc.), but the parallel passages in Chronicles often have הִנֵּה where the Books of Kings have הֲלֹא. Comp. 1 Kings 15:23 with 2 Chron. 16:11; 1 Kings 22:46 with 2 Chron. 20:34, etc.

Isa 43:20. Isaiah uses only here the expression השׁדה חית. Before him, on the ground of many passages in the Pentateuch (Gen. 2:19 sq.; 3:1,14; Exod. 33:11; Lev. 26:22; Deut. 7:22, etc.), it appears in Hosea (2:14, 20; 4:3; 13:8) and Job (5:23; 39:15; 40:20). Isa. 56. we read חַיְתוֹ שָׂדַי——יענה בנות again 13:21; 34:13, and in Job 30:29; Mic. 1:5; Jer. 50:39.——כי נתתי is=“that,” or “because I have given.”


1. This third strophe corresponds to the first. As the first represents how the LORD will bring back His people into their land, from all quarters of the earth and through all possible dangers, so the present strophe represents how this restoration shall happen out of Babylon and through the wilderness lying between Chaldea and Palestine. Thus the first strophe is general in its contents; the third is specific.

2. Thus saith——your king.

Isa 43:14-15. As the first promissory strophe (Isa 43:1) began with thus saith, so this one in both its parts, the negative (Isa 43:14) and the positive (Isa 43:16). The LORD, Israel’s Holy One, Creator and King, announces that He will send, to Babylon and bring the Chaldeans down from the elevation they have scaled, and lead them back to the littleness of their original home on the lower Euphrates, to which they will set out with the cry “to Chaldea on the ships.” This is the first negative act; the opening of the prison and putting aside the prison keeper. Glorious act of deliverance! that at the same time proves the God of Israel to be the only Holy One. For your sake I have sent to Babylon, says the LORD, and indicates that the proper intent of the sending was the deliverance of Israel, though the messenger had no presentiment of performing a divine mission in the interest of Israel. Who this messenger was appears from 41:2, 3, 25. It is Cyrus. We know that Isaiah foresaw a Babylonish exile of his people from 13, 14, 21:9 sq; 39:6, 7. Especially I have sent, reminds one strongly for substance of 13:2 sqq. See Text and Gram. It appears to me that we are justified by Job 26:13 and Isa. 27:1 in giving בָרִיחִים the meaning “fugitives” (see Text and Gram.). Only in those passages and here does the word occur. As regards the clause, and the Chaldeans, etc., I think that here, too, the Prophet makes allusion to an older passage of Scripture, that sheds light on his meaning. That is Deut. 28:68; where we read וֶֽהֱשִׁייְךָ יְהוָֹה מִצְרַיִם כָּֽאֳנִיוֹת As is known, Deut. 28. contains that emphatic exhortation to obey the law of the LORD, based on promised blessings and threatened curses. It concludes with the threat that “Jehovah shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships,” to be sold there into bondage. It is worthy of notice that מִצְרַיִם must be construed as acc. localis to the question, whither? It might have read מִצְרַיְמָה, which, if not the more correct, were still the more frequent mode of expression. Now it seems to me, that the Prophet in cur text would intimate that, what the LORD threatened against Israel would be fulfilled on the Babylonians. We have showed above 23:13 that the Chaldeans (in Babylonian Kaldi or Kaldaai, SCHRADER, p. 43) were a nation settled in very ancient time in South-Babylon and reaching to the Persian Gulf. In course of time they rose to a dominant position in Babylon itself: in fact for a considerable time the ruling dynasty belonged to their race. Moreover that lower Euphrates region abounded in swamps, and hence offered numerous hiding-places. We know this especially from the history of Merodach-Baladan, of which, at chap. 39. we gave a sketch from FRANCOIS LENORMANT. [The Author’s recapitulation of points of that sketch may be omitted. TR.] From the particulars given there, it appears that when the Chaldeans could no longer maintain themselves in Babylon, their next step would be to take refuge in ships. For them, flight into the recesses of the lower Euphrates and of the Schatt-el-arab, was at the same time a return into their proper home. Under such circumstances there was certainly sufficient motive for their raising the cry: כשׂדם כאניות=“into Chaldea on the ships.” Such was the cry when Babylon, which had only become so strong by the colossal walls of Asarhaddon and Nebuchadnezzar, but had often enough before been taken by the Assyrian kings, was no longer tenable. On this construction see Text. and Gram.

As Isa 43:14 begins with a thought that gives the reason for what follows, so it is followed also by another and similar one in Isa 43:15 as a conclusion. As an independent statement, Isa 43:15 would be superfluous and clumsy. It has sense and significance only in closest connection with Isa 43:14. Jehovah is often called Israel’s king: 41:21; 44:6; 33:22; 43:15.

3. Thus saith——as tow.

Isa 43:16, 17. Now the positive part of the promise is given. To the liberated Israelites is extended what they need for the long and difficult journey home. Already in the words “to Chaldea on ships” we found the Prophet’s thoughts directed toward Egypt. This direction becomes now still more manifest. He presents the miraculous deliverance of Israel at the Red Sea as a guaranty of the promised deliverance from the Babylonish exile. The same God, he says, that prepared a way through the Red Sea, where there was too much water, will know how to make a way through the arid desert, where there is too little water. Comp. in general 51:10; 63:11–13; 11:16.

4. Remember ye——my praise. Isa 43:18-21. Although the LORD fortifies the promise about to follow by recalling His performance at the Red Sea, still, by the demand no more to remember those old events, He lets the Israelites understand that what is promised and future will be infinitely more glorious than what is past (comp. Jer. 23:7). Not that He would have those mighty deeds of old sink into absolute oblivion. He means only a relative forgetting. He would only give a standard by which may be measured the glory of what is new. From this, already, we may see that the LORD by no means intends only the corporeal return from the Exile. Already introduced in Isa 43:18 as Himself speaking, the LORD announces Isa 43:19 that He is about to create a new thing.—Already, he says, it is germinating (comp. 42:9); i. ., the causes that are to bring about that new thing exist already. And of course, as Isaiah must have lived to see Judah give itself into the hand of the world-power, so he saw therewith the bud of the Exile, and also of the deliverance out of it (6:11 sqq.; 7:17; 10:5 sqq.). But the implicit reality will also realize itself explicitly. Hence is said: ye shall certainly know it. For such is the sense of the negative question: shall ye not know it (see Text. and Gram.). In naming this new thing, the LORD does not describe it completely. He only mentions one characteristic trait. Ex ungue leonem. But this one trait from many is chosen, not only because of its inherent significance, but also, on the one hand, with reference to what was mentioned, Isa 43:16, 17, by way of guaranty, and on the other, because there is present already here the thought that comes to expression, 43:3. On the brink of the Red-Sea, also, it was water that seemed to prevent Israel’s deliverance. They could not walk through the deep sea. There the LORD helped Israel threatened by too much water, by making a way through the sea. In the day when “the new thing” shall come about Israel will be confronted by a dearth of water. Freed from Babylonian captivity, they will resolve to return home. But an arid desert must be traversed! Now there is too little water. “But the LORD will help as before. He will make in the desert a way (35:1, 2, 7; 40:3 sq.; 41:18 sq.), by furnishing it with a bounding stream of water. Comp. 48:21; 49:10. On אַף see on 26:8. How glorious this help will be, that Israel is to enjoy by the watering of the desert, may be seen from the very beasts of the field rendering honor to God for it.—It weakens the force of this description to understand (with HAHN) the beasts to represent heathen nations. For it is something higher when the very beasts own and praise the hand of God. We must rather think of 11:6 sqq., and how there, immediately after the description of the universal state of peace, the prospect of the home-return of Israel out of the Assyrian exile is presented as the antitype of the home return out of Egypt (11:11–16, where note especially Isa 43:16). And 35:8, 9 is also to be drawn into comparison here, where that way of return is called a holy way, and it is said that no lion shall be there, and that most ravenous of beasts shall not walk on it. This passage, compared with 11:6 sqq. and our text, thus receives its complement and explanation, to the effect that wild beasts shall indeed be there, but will change their nature, and as regenerated, so to speak, will own and praise God. But by this we become aware that the LORD thinks not merely of physical water, but, as in 44:3, also of spiritual water and streams of the Spirit. For these necessarily belong to the condition of peace. The physical water of the desert is thus at the same time type of the spiritual streams of water of the last time. The beasts praise God for being permitted to participate in the blessings imparted to the people of Israel. But (Isa 43:21) especially this people themselves that the LORDformed for Himself (comp. Isa 43:1, 7; זוּ see on 42:24) shall recount His praise. This signifies the acme of the new time, the time of salvation that begins with the deliverance out of the Babylonian exile. But that that acme will not be attained without backsliding on the part of the nation, and even greater manifestations of grace on the part of God, appears from the following context. [This brings us back to the main proposition of the chapter, namely, that Jehovah had not only made them what they were, but had made them for the purpose of promoting His own glory, so that any claim of merit on their part, and any apprehension of entire destruction, must be equally unfounded.”—J. A. A.].



CHAPTER 43:22–28

22          But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob;

22But thou hast been weary of me, O Israel.

23     Thou hast not brought me the 23small cattle of thy burnt offerings;

Neither hast thou honoured me with thy sacrifices.

I have not caused thee to serve with an offering,

Nor wearied thee with incense.

24     Thou hast bought me no24 sweet cane with money,

Neither hast thou 25filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices:

But thou hast made me to serve with thy sins,

Thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.

25     I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake,

And will not remember thy sins.

26     Put me in remembrance: let us plead together:

Declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.

27     Thy first father hath sinned,

And thy 26teachers have transgressed against me.

28     27Therefore I have profaned the 28princes of the sanctuary,

And29 have given Jacob to the curse,

And Israel to reproaches.


See List for the recurrence of the words: Isa 43:24. קָנֶהרָוָה. Isa 43:25. מָחָה comp. 44:22. Isa 43:26, 27, 28. All the terms.

Isa 43:22. וְ init. is adversative. קָרָא used of calling on God, occurs more frequently with prepositions. Still it is found elsewhere also with the accusative (Ps. 14:4; 17:6; 88:10; 91:15). Many (MAURER, HITZIG, EWALD, HENDEWERK, UMBREIT, KNOBEL, DELITZSCH) construe the second clause כי יגעת וגו׳ as a conclusion: that thou shouldest have wearied thyself with me. But in that case 1) the foregoing clause should contain an inquiry; 2) the dependent clause with כִּי should relate to something future. Neither is the case.——יָגַע means “laborare, desudare, defatigatam esse.” The last in passages like 40:28; 57:10; Jer. 45:3; Ps. 6:7. Hence Hiph. “defatigare, to make weary,” (Isa 43:23, 24). Hence I agree decidedly with those that translate: “for thou art weary of me.”

Isa 43:23. שֶׂה, for which there is no plural form, is collective [meaning the young of both sheep and goats, hence exactly rendered in the English Version, “small cattle.”—TR.].—זבחיך is accus. of the means.——עָבַד is the technical term for service rendered to God in worship. Comp. Exod. 10:26, and the expression עֲבֹדָה.

Isa 43:24. אַךְ. cannot be referred exclusively to the notion “with;” otherwise it must read אַךְ אֹתִי הֶֽעֱבַדְתָּ It must be referred to the entire following clause.

Isa 43:25. The double אנכי makes emphatic that the wiping out of sin is solely in God’s power. הוּא stands emphatically after אנכי. But it is not predicate as in Isa 43:10,13; 41:4; 46:4; 48:12, but in apposition with the subject as in 7:14. Thus the sense is: I—I such an one. In this lies a reference back to the emphatic use of הוּא twice already in this chapter.——מָחָה.is rendered by the LXX. by ἐξαλεἰΦω, as also in Ps. 51:3,11; 69:29, etc,——למעני as in 37:35; 48:9,11.

Isa 43:28. It seems to me presumptuous and needless to read וָֽאֲחַלֵּל and וָאֶתְּנָה. This were, indeed, the easier reading, but for that very reason suspicious. The more difficult reading necessitates a deeper penetration into the sense. I construe וַאֲחַלֵל and וְאֶתְּנָה as simply future, and both וְ as simply copulative.——There are likely only rhetorical reasons for using the cohortative form אתנה instead of אֶתֵּן. At least this form is very usual precisely with נתןַ. It occurs thirty times in the Old Testament, including the forms with Vav. consec. I doubt if it occurs as often with any other verbs.


1. But thou——sacrifices.

Isa 43:22-24a. In Isa 43:21 the LORD has expressed a glorious hope for the future. But he reflects here that the past history of Israel lets this hope appear unfounded. The outward return from the Exile is not sufficient to qualify Israel for that praise of God (Isa 43:21). As long as Israel is under the outward ceremonial law, it is also under the dominion of sin. The LORD Himself must first blot out the guilt of sin by an offering that only He can make, and break the power of sin by an outpouring of holy streams of the Spirit. Only a regenerated Israel will be able to do what is expected in Isa 43:21.

The following clauses do not mean that Israel has never fulfilled the duties of divine service therein mentioned, but only that they have not fulfilled them, i.e., not fully satisfied the requirements. The long period from the giving of the law to Isaiah’s time, that ought to have been a period of uninterrupted fulfilment of the law, was in fact a period of prevalent transgression of the law. Hence the Prophet can well say, Israel has not brought the LORD the gifts of divine service that they ought to have brought.

In שֶׁה, small cattle, collective, there may be an allusion to the daily morning and evening sacrifice, in which a year-old lamb must be brought (Exod. 29:38 sqq.; Numb. 28:3 sqq.). What a perverted world, when the LORD must Himself perform the work that Israel ought to have done by their divine service!

לבנה is the fragrant gum of a tree found in Arabia, Persia, India and the eastern coast of Africa, but not definitely identified by modern botanists (see LEYER, HERZ.R.-Encycl. XVII. p. 602 sq.). The Israelites used it partly as an ingredient of incense (Exod. 30:34), partly as an accompaniment to the meat offering, and the shew-bread (Lev. 2:1 sq., 15 sq.; 24:7). The expression לא קנית Isa 43:24, when we compare the foregoing parallel enumerations, seems manifestly to be prompted by the assonance with קָּנֶהקָנֶה is mentioned Exod. 30:23 with the addition בֹּשֶׂם as an ingredient of the holy anointing oil (LEYRER,ibid. XIV. p. 663 sq.; XIII. p. 322); according to the Rabbins (ibid. XII. p. 507) it was also an ingredient of the holy incense. It is almost universally agreed that it is the calamus (ibid. XIV. p. 664). DELITZSCH says “the calamus forms no stalk, much less a reed;” but it is to be considered that it has a stem formed underneath by the leaves overlaying one another. And these leaves are, each for itself, reeds open at the sides. Hence the calamus is reckoned among reeds. Besides, not our common calamus is meant, but the Asiatic, indigenous to tropical Asia, and which is still used there in preparing fragrant oils and incense (LEYRER,ibid.). The expression: with the fat of thy sacrifices thou hast not intoxicated (34:5) me is anthropopathic. The effect of the fumes of fat on men being imputed to God. [רָוָה in the Hiph means “to drench.” In this case “to drench with fumes of fat,” i.e., be-smoke.—Tr.].

2. But thou——thy sins.

Isa 43:24b—25.Having said what Israel did not do, it is now said what they have only done: Only this hast thou done, thou hast laden me, etc. An antithesis is implied that we would better express by “but thou hast (see Text and Gram.). These words declare how the LORD has hitherto borne Himself with reference to His people’s burden of guilt. He patiently submitted to the painful service of bearing this burden. These “sins” and iniquities are the “sins that are past through the forbearance of God” (Rom. 3:25; comp. 9:22). In Isa 43:25, however, the LORD says what He will do in the future:He will blot out their transgressions. He will not eternally drag Himself along with this burden; He will take it out of the world. And He says He will do it for His own sake. There is that in Himself that impels Him to this: It is love. It does not rest till it has found the ways and means of gratifying itself without trenching on justice. The LORD must have in mind here that sacrifice which did what all sacrifices of the Old Testament were unable to do. Acts 3:19, and Col. 2:14 seem to be founded on our passage. In the latter it appears that Paul recognized as the basis of the expression the representation of a delible writing. On “blot out” and “will not remember” comp. Ps. 51:3, 11; 25:7; 79:8; Jer. 31:34, etc.

3. Put me——reproaches.

Isa 43:26-28. The LORD’S exceeding gracious language Isa 43:22–25 does not by any means suit the taste of Israel. The Prophet sees in spirit that Israel does not acknowledge its unrighteousness and will not accept the LORD’S proposed sacrifice (Isa 43:25). Israel is self-righteous. The LORD does not peremptorily rebuke the assertion of it. He again gives the nation an opportunity to prove it, if possible. Hence He demands an enumeration of the facts calculated to confute the LORD and to prove their assertion. הזכירני is = “remind me,” viz.: by naming the facts. On the ground of these facts there shall be justification; and if the enumeration holds good, Israel shall be just (justified). But Israel can produce nothing that will bear sifting. On the other hand (Isa 43:27) the LORD adduces facts. He confines Himself to naming capital facts, that warrant a conclusion a majori ad minus. Without doubt the first father of Israel means Abraham. For Adam is the father of the whole human race. Abraham’s conduct in reference to Pharaoh and Abimelech (Gen. 12:11 sqq.; 20:1 sqq.), is of itself enough to prove that he sinned. מֵלִיץ is “the spokesman, interpreter, medium” (comp. Gen. 42:23; Job 33:23; 2 Chron. 32:31). Theocratic office-bearers are meant, who were mediums between God and the people. For this reason they are called just after princes of the sanctuary. They were, indeed, the pillars and props of the Theocracy. It was just their sins (comp. Jer. 22–23), because of their commanding influence, that contributed most to their own and the nation’s fall.

The debate, therefore, does not turn to the advantage of Israel. In conclusion, the LORD must pronounce the judgment: I will profane the princes of the sanctuary (comp. e.g., Jer. 52:24), but Israel itself I must give up to the curse and reproaches by the heathen. (See Text and Gram.). According to the foregoing exposition, the Prophet (Isa 43:21) points to a glorious last-time of salvation that begins with deliverance from the Exile, but in such a way that, from this beginning onwards to the completion of it, there occurs a long and changeful period. In reference to this period he distinguishes four particulars: 1) that the natural, fleshly Israel, as ever, is incapable of serving the LORD and of properly proclaiming His praise; 2) that the LORD Himself will blot out Israel’s sin; 3) that Israel, in proud self-righteousness, does not accept this gracious gift of the LORD; 4) that, consequently, His worship will be profaned, i.e., done away, and the nation itself will be given up to the curse of destruction and outward reproach. When “the princes of the sanctuary” are profaned, then the sanctuary itself, the cultus of Jehovah, the Old Testament covenant in general, will be desecrated, i.e., done away and dissolved. For as GESENIUS justly remarks: “foedus res sacra est, idque qui profanat etiam violat et dissolvat.” Israel rejected Christ. They accepted neither Himself, nor, after His death, the gospel of the cross. For this the old covenant was broken and the Temple destroyed, the nation dispersed into all lands. But this happened only to the fleshly Israel. There remains a remnant, an ὲκλογή, and these, according to 44:3, will obtain the baptism of the Spirit, and thereby the qualification to fulfil Isa 43:21.


[1]Or, person.


[3]He bringeth.

[4]All the nations gather together, and the peoples are to be assembled.

[5]let us hear.


[7]Or, nothing formed of God.

[8]let hear, declared.


[10]thereafter I am he.


[12]Heb. turn it back.

[13]And lead them downwards as fugitives all, And “to Chaldea on the ships” is their cry.

[14]Heb. bars.

[15]that made.


[17]I do.

[18]Surely I will.


[20]Or, ostriches.

[21]Heb. daughters of the owl.


[23]Heb. lambs, or, kids,


[25]Heb. made me drunk, or, abundantly moistened.

[26]Heb. interpreters.

[27]And I will profane.

[28]Or, holy princes.

[29]will give.

But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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