Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Servant in Isaiah 40-55?: Some Minor Observations

Isaiah 41 continues in the rhetorical courtroom (introduced in 40.27), in which the text envisions the nations coming before YHWH to give testimony, and ultimately YHWH pronouncing a verdict. While the verdict is important, the real purpose of the courtroom drama is to allow Israel the ability to peer into such events, and to see how YHWH is working.

The content of the argument against the gods of the nations is that they are unable to not only predict the future, but are equally unable to interpret the events of the past. The Babylonian gods seemingly have defeated YHWH in the last battle, resulting in the exile of Israel. However, the evidence presented in the courtroom is about to turn that obvious interpretation on its ear.

YHWH is actually in control of the nations, not the actual gods of those nations. It is YHWH who summons Cyrus from the east, and will bring this mighty warrior to defeat the Babylonians. In fact YHWH has always been in charge of the nations (and history; see 41.4). The major implication of this is that it was YHWH who allowed the nation Israel to be defeated and exiled, and it was not a result of the YHWH’s defeat.

The context shifts from the courtroom to that of comfort, where YHWH assures his SERVANT(s) that they have nothing to fear, that YHWH is reliable, and that with the same power used at the time of exodus Israel will be once again delivered (41.10).

The point in which I am interested in, is that in the first use of the term SERVANT (41.8), in Isaiah 40-55, its referent is that of the nation (Israel, Jacob, offspring of Abraham).

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