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This is what Yahweh,
the Redeemer of Israel, its Holy One, says
to one whose soul is despised,
to one whom the nation abhors,
to a servant of rulers:
“Kings will see and arise,
officials, and they will worship,
because of Yahweh who is faithful,
even the Holy One of Israel who has chosen you.” Bible

“Yahweh, the Redeemer of Israel, its Holy One.” Yahweh has many different names, and two of them are placed together in this verse: “the Redeemer of Israel” and “Holy One.” A few English versions (the KJV included) put an “and” between “the Redeemer of Israel” and “its Holy One,” but that is not necessary and causes confusion because then it could seem that there are two beings talking, the Redeemer and also the “Holy One.” But only Yahweh is speaking.

The Holy One of Israel is another name for Yahweh, as we see here in Isaiah 49:7 and in many other verses (cp. 2 Kings 19:22; Job 6:10; Ps. 71:22; 78:41; 89:18; Prov. 9:10, 30:3; Isa. 5:19, 24; 10:20; 12:6). Some English versions read “his Holy One,” and that is okay if we understand that Israel being referred to as a male (sometimes Israel is referred to as a female). However, since Hebrew does not have a neuter gender, and thus things are either male or female, it seems to make better sense to translate the nation of Israel as an “it” and not a “him.”

“to one whose soul is despised.” This translation closely agrees with K. Baltzer (Hermeneia: A Critical Commentary). The one being spoken to is the Messiah, as the context and history make clear. The English translations differ, in part because the Hebrew word nephesh can be “soul” or “life,” or it can refer to the self and thus be “him” or an equivalent. Although the English versions differ as to exactly how to translate the Hebrew text, they all catch the main idea: this person is despised, and we learn from the scope of Scripture that he is despised by worldly and ungodly people.

“the nation.” The use of the singular here indicates that this is not “the nations,” that is, the Gentiles, but the nation of Israel itself, and indeed, the majority of the Jews rejected Christ. At Jesus’ trial before Pilate, the people and their leaders shouted, “Crucify him” (Matt. 27:20-23).

“a servant of rulers.” Although he was the Son of God and therefore higher than any earthly ruler, the Messiah came to serve, not be served, and by his life and death made everlasting life available to everyone (cp. Matt. 28:20; Phil. 2:7).


Commentary for: Isaiah 49:7