AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOKS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT. by W. O. E. Oesterley, D.D., Litt.D.,& T. H. Robinson, D.D., Litt.D. Hon. D.D. (Aberdeen), Hon. D.Th. (Halle Wittenberg). © W O E Oesterley & T H Robinson 1934. First published SPCK. 1934. - This edition prepared for katapi by Paul Ingram 2003.


HOME | Historical Background. | Structure and Contents of Isa.xl‑lv. | The Prophet and his Teaching. | Language and Style of Isa.xl‑lv. | The Hebrew Text and the Septuagint.


Cyrus Cylinder.
Stele of Nabonidus.
Chronicle of Nabonidus.

In the year 549BC, Cyrus, king of Anshan, a vassal-state of Astyages, king of Media, revolted against his suzerain and conquered him. He became thus ruler of the Perso-Median Empire. In fear of the rising power of Cyrus three kings formed an alliance with the object of stemming his further advance: Creosus Gold. Croesus, king of the Lydians, Nabonidus, king of Babylonia, and Amasis, king of Egypt. Cyrus conquered the first of these in 546BC, whereby the whole of Asia Minor came under his rule; Egypt was, for the time being, left unmolested. (Cambyses, the son of Cyrus in 525BC conquered it.)

In 539-8BC Babylon fell. The Chronicle of Nabonidus records as follows:

On the I6th (of the month Tishri = October) Ugbaru (Gobryas) the governor of Gutium and the troops of Cyrus entered Babylon without a battle. ... In Marcheswan ( = November) on the 3rd, Cyrus entered Babylon. ... There was peace in the city. Cyrus proclaimed peace to Babylon, to everyone.

The period covered by these chapters is probably from 549 to 538BC), i.e. from Cyrus' victory over Astyages to the eve of the capture of Babylon; the actual fall of the city is not mentioned. [Torrey (The Second Isaiah (1928) does not believe that any part of Isa.xl-lxvi was written during the exile; he assigns the whole to about 400BC, Palestine being the place of origin. The references to Cyrus, Babylon, & Chaldaea he simply cuts out, maintaining that the metre of the passages in which they occur shows them to be interpolations. He sums up his position thus:- "Second Isaiah is indeed a prophecy of release from bondage & a triumphant return of "exiles" to Jerusalem by sea & land; but the prophet is looking to the ends of the earth, not to Babylonia. There is indeed prediction, definite & many times repeated, of the speedy advent of a great conqueror & deliverer, the restorer of Israel & benefactor of the world; but the prophet is speaking of the Anointed Servant of the Lord, the Son of David, not the son of Cambyses" (p.37). That Torrey has found but few scholars to agree with him cannot surprise.]

The references in these chapters to the historical background are as follows: (The renderings here given differ in some cases from the RV, which does not always take the corruptions in the Hebrew text into account, & sometimes misses the point of the original.)

xli.2: Who aroused from the east him whom victory meeteth at every step, that delivereth up nations before him, and bringeth down kings? His sword maketh them like dust, his bow driveth them away like chaff. He pursueth them, he passeth on - Peace (i.e. his victories bring peace, see the quotation from the Nabonidus Chronicle, above); he doth not tread the pathway with his feet.

(In xlvi.11 Cyrus is compared with a ravenous bird, so swift and sweeping in his progress).

These graphic words must refer, in the first instance, to Cyrus' victory over Astyages, king of the Medes; he came from Anshan, which lay to the east of Babylonia. The passage also refers to the defeat of Croesus, king of the Lydians, and Cyrus' acquisition of Asia Minor.

xli.25: I aroused up one from the north, and he came from the rising of the sun (east). I called him by his name (see xlv.3, cp. also xliii.1).

The north refers to Media, which lay northeast of Babylonia; the east is again in reference to Anshan.

xliii.3: I give Egypt as thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in place of thee.

The reference is again to Cyrus, who is to receive the whole of Africa, as then known, as compensation for letting the exiles go free. Our records, unfortunately, give no information as to what occurred after Cyrus' defeat of Croesus; the prophet, presumably, expected that Egypt would suffer the same fate as Lydia; but Cyrus did not conquer Egypt; that was left to his son Cambyses, to accomplish.

xliv.28: ... that saith of Cyrus, 'My shepherd' and all my requirement shall he perform.

For "shepherd" in the sense of " ruler " see, e.g., Jer.iii.15; the passage means that Cyrus rules by the will of Yahweh. (Perhaps, by a difference of pointing, we should read, "My friend.")

The remainder of this verse:

... Even saying of Jerusalem, let her be built, and of the Temple, let its foundations be laid,

 would imply that these words were written after Cyrus' decree, permitting the return of the exiles (see Ezra i.2-4, vi.1ff.), had been put forth, i.e. after the fall of Babylon. That is highly improbable, and doubtless those commentators are right who hold that the words have been misplaced and that they came originally after verse 26 (emended) thus:

 ... that saith of Jerusalem, she shall be inhabited; and of the waste places thereof, I will raise them up; yea, that saith of Jerusalem, let her be built, and of the Temple, let its foundations be laid.

xlv.1-4: This is too long to quote - it speaks of Cyrus as Yahweh's anointed and describes his victorious progress.

xlv.9-13: This is also too long to quote - it is a rebuke to those who take exception to Cyrus being the instrument of Yahweh; the passage ends with the words:

I raised him up in righteousness, and I will make straight all his ways; he shall build my city, and he shall let my exiles go free. ...

xlvi.1-2: This fragment, which also reflects the historical background, has a special interest of its own; it stands isolated, being unconnected with what precedes as well as with what follows, and the Hebrew text can hardly be in order. The prophet is so certain of the now impending fall of Babylon that he speaks of this as having already come to pass. The verbs are all in the perfect. It may be rendered thus:

Bel hath stooped down (cp. Gen.xlix.9), Nebo hath crouched down; their images are for beasts, for beasts of burden; their things which were carried about (a contemptuous reference to the images) are become loads - A burden for weary (beasts). They (i.e. Bel and Nebo) have crouched down, they have stooped down (both) together, they were not able to rescue the burden (i.e. these gods could not deliver their own images), They are gone into captivity.

The meaning then is that when Babylon fell the worshippers of Bel and Nebo, the tutelary deities of the city, attempted to escape with these images; but they failed in this, and the gods, i.e. their images, were carried captive. In this last particular, however, the prophet was mistaken, for Cyrus was careful not to interfere with the religious beliefs of conquered peoples; on one of his inscriptions he says:

"I returned the gods to their shrines." [Gadd, History & Monuments of Ur, p.250 (1929).]

 xIvii, cp. (also xlviii.14, 15): The long passage containing a prophecy of the downfall of Babylon is also Illustrative of the historical background.

The passages so far considered refer to the external historical conditions.

We have next to point to those that reflect the circumstances under which the Jews were living.

ii.14: That the Hebrew text is corrupt is clear even from the RV. rendering, which is meaningless; many emendations have been suggested with more or less plausibility, b ut certainty as to what the original text read is out of the question; the following has some points in its favour:-

This saith Yahweh, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and I will bring down the bars of the prison house (i.e. Babylon); and (as for) the Chaldaeans, I will still their shouting with sighs. [:םתנר תוינאב יתבשהו םידשכו אלכ יחירב יתדרזהו]

The mention of Babylon is, in any case, indisputable; and this is the first direct reference to it in these chapters. Yahweh is about to send Cyrus to Babylon to release the Jews from captivity.

xlviii.20: Go forth from Babylon, Flee ye from the Chaldaeans ... Say ye, Yahweh hath redeemed his servant Jacob.

In two other passages (Iii.11, 1 2, lv.12), although Babylon is not mentioned by name, it is obvious that the prophet is thinking of the city when he bids the exiles go forth.

xliii.5, li.11, 14, 21-23, lii.7-9 speak of the return from captivity in the near future while others -

xI.2, xlii.14, xliii.10 (and others) refer implicitly to the Exile.

We are left, therefore, in not the slightest doubt that the historical background points to the eve of the Return as the period to which these chapters (xl-lv) belong.

It is, however, possible to indicate more precisely the time during which the prophet uttered these poems. On closer examination it is seen that the whole collection consists of two main divisions:

xl-xlviii repeatedly speaks of the downfall of Babylon; and Cyrus, as we have seen, is mentioned as the conqueror, either directly or implicitly referred to as such.

But in xlix-lv no mention is made either of Babylon or of Cyrus. This can be accounted for only on the supposition that the two sets of poems do not belong to precisely the same period.

xl-xlviii it may be gathered, belong to the time immediately preceding the fall of Babylon. Cyrus had begun his Babylonian campaign. By his victory over the Akkadians at Opis, on the Tigris, north of Babylon, and by his capture, a fortnight later, of Sippar, only fifty miles from the capital, the prophet knew that the end was in sight.

xlix-lv the other set of poems would then have been uttered after the fall of the city, which would explain why the prophet does not mention it. Instead of this he says:

Depart ye, depart ye, go out from thence; touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, ye that bear the vessels of Yahweh. (Iii.11; see also li.14, lv.12).

(The command to go forth from Babylon occurs also at the close of the earlier set of poems, xlviii.2021, which would suggest that these verses really belong to the later set.)

That the exiles would not have departed immediately after the fall of the city is evident, for they could not have done so until Cyrus had issued his decree permitting this. The decree was put forth in the same year as the fall of the city; but it is not known in what month. [When it is said in Ezra vi.2 that this decree was found at Acmetha, i.e. Ecbatana, in Media, it does not follow that Cyrus issued it from there.]

In support of what has been said it may also be pointed out that there is a difference of characteristic between the two sets of poems. Chs.xl-xlviii deal more pronouncedly with the relationship between Yahweh and His people, whereas xlix-lv speak more of that between Yahweh and Jerusalem, or Zion, the goal of the exiles, which after the fall of Babylon would be the more prominent thought in the mind of the prophet. In the earlier group, moreover, there is much stress laid on the folly of idolatry and of god with Yahweh. (See xi.18-26; xli.6, 7, 21-29; xliv.9-20; xlvi.1, 2; cp. Also xlii.17; xlv.16, 20.)

This was doubtless needed so long as the exiles were settled among the Babylonians; but in the later group idolatry is not mentioned, nor was there any need for this now that the exiles were about to depart. And finally, there is in the later group a more fully expressed and eager looking forward to the return to the homeland than in the earlier, pointing therefore to its greater imminence.


These chapters contain a number of independent poetical pieces; a sequence of thought is, however, often to be observed. In the following table these various little poems are enumerated, but it is recognized that in some cases there are differences of opinion as to their precise scope, some scholars would further subdivide a few of the poems. It must also be pointed out that no detailed discussion of the intricate metrical problems presented by these chapters is here possible. The metre indicated for each section is that which predominates within it, and must not be understood as implying that there is necessarily no variation from it in our present text.

xl.1-11: Mainly in the Qinah measure (3 : 2), though there are considerable irregularities. It is a message of consolation, introductory to others which follow, proclaiming to the exiles that the time of release is at hand. Verses 9-11 should probably come after verse 5, since they continue the tone of hope and exultation, whereas verses 6-8 speak of the transitoriness of human life, a subject which comes inappropriately between verses 5 and 9.

xl.12-17: An almost regular 3 : 3 measure. The great things in the physical world are as nothing in the sight of Yahweh; similarly, all the nations of the earth are nothing accounted of in His sight.

xl.18-20: To this xli.6, 7 evidently belongs; the whole is again 3 : 3. It speaks of the folly of comparing graven images with God.

xl.21-26: Partly Qinah and partly 3 : 3; possibly we have here two fragments, verses 21-24, and 25, 26. The subject is the omnipotence of Yahweh, the Creator of all things.

xl.27-31: Mostly 3 : 3, but there is some slight irregularity; the change at the beginning of verse 28 to 2 : 2, "Hast thou not known, hast thou not heard," is very effective; the 3 : 3 continues immediately after. The little poem protests that Israel's fear of being ignored by Yahweh is groundless. He is from of old, and mighty in power, and gives strength to those who wait upon Him.

xli.1-5: 3 : 3; as already pointed out, verses 6, 7 do not belong here. It speaks of Yahweh's lordship over all nations, illustrated by His raising up Cyrus to do His will.

xli.8-16: The metre is somewhat varied, partly 3 : 3 (verses 8-10. 14-16), partly Qinah (verses 11-13). God's love and care for His people; Israel's enemies will be overthrown.

xli.17-20: While 3 : 3 predominates, there is some irregularity. It contains a description of how the wilderness will be turned into a fruitful land when the exiles pass through it on their way to the homeland.

xli.21-29: The metre again alternates between 3 : 3 and Qinah; but there is some textual corruption. Its theme is the nothingness of idols; in contrast to them Yahweh foresees and foreordains all things; an illustration of this is the advent of Cyrus.

xlii.1-4: Regular 3 : 3. The first "Servant of the Lord" song.

xlii.5-9: The metre alternates between 3 : 3 and 2 : 2 : 2 in verses 6 and 9. The theme of the poem is the loving-kindness of Yahweh towards His people.

xlii.10-13: A slightly irregular 3 : 3 poem, calling upon the physical world to give glory to Yahweh, the Mighty One.

xlii.14-17: The metre is very irregular, 3: 3 and 3 :2 seem to have been used originally, but some textual corruption have made havoc with any regular metre. The poet tells of how in the past Yahweh had been silent while His people suffered (e.g. Assyrian invasions and the Captivity); but now He is about to show forth His mercy to His people.

xlii.18-25: A variety of textual corruptions in this piece have again disturbed the metre; probably it was originally composed of 3 : 3 and the Qinah metre. It is a lament over Israel's spiritual blindness and deafness.

xliii.1-7: Again an intermixture of 3 : 3 and Qinah with some other irregularities. Israel is about to be released from captivity, and with them those of the Dispersion will be brought back to the homeland.

xliii.8-13: Though there are some irregularities, the main metre is 3 : 3. Israel, the people of Yahweh, are witnesses of His Unity.

xliii.14, 15: This isolated fragment is in regular 3 : 3 metre. It takes up again the subject of Yahweh as the Redeemer of His people.

xliii.16-21: The usual 3 : 3 metre occurs here again, though with some irregularity. The subject is God's mercy in bringing His people home through the wilderness.

xliii.22-28: A fairly regular 3 : 3. Israel's ingratitude to Yahweh in spite of His having chosen them as His people; therefore punishment must inevitably come upon the nation.

xliv.1-5: The metre is, more or less, Qinah. In spite of Israel's sin Yahweh will pour His spirit upon His people; as a consequence the Gentiles will join themselves to the people of God, and call upon Yahweh.

xliv.6-8: To this section, in 3 : 3, it is probable that verses 21, 22 belong. The theme is the Oneness of Yahweh; because Israel is His servant their sins shall be blotted out.

xliv.9-20: This is a prose section, and probably a later insertion; it deals with the folly of idolatry.

xliv.21, 22: Somewhat irregular Qinah; it belongs to verses 6-8.

xliv.23: An isolated fragment with irregular metre.

xliv.24-xlv.7: The metre in this comparatively long section is varied, 3 : 3 and Qinah predominate. Cyrus, the instrument of Yahweh, has been chosen for the sake of Israel. It is by Yahweh that he has been called, and by no other God.

xlv.8: An isolated fragment in 3 : 3 metre. The Creatorship of Yahweh.

xlv.9-13: The metre is again irregular, 3 : 3 predominating. Yahweh is justified in His choice of Cyrus. Evidently spoken against some, who questioned the propriety of a Gentile ruler being chosen by Yahweh.

xlv.I4-I7: Irregular metre. To Israel alone has Yahweh revealed Himself.

xlv.18-25: The metre is again irregular, but Qinah predominates. A striking poem dealing with the Oneness and righteousness of Yahweh; the Gentiles are called upon to worship Him.

xlvi.1-4: In the main 3 : 3. The gods of Babylon are carried in flight from the foe, but they cannot escape; in contrast to this it is told how Yahweh carried His people Israel in the past, and will deliver them now.

xlvi.5-13: The irregular metre alternates between 3 : 3 and Qinah; it is evident that verses 6-8 are out of place here; their content shows this; they must be a late insertion. The theme is again the Oneness of Yahweh; His will is supreme, and in accordance with this Israel is about to be delivered from captivity by Cyrus.

xlvii: A taunt-song of triumph over Babylon in Qinah measure.

xlviii.1-11: Mainly 3 : 3, but the text has suffered through glosses. The poem deals with the stiff-neckedness of Israel; nevertheless, God will have mercy upon His people for His name's sake.

xlviii.12-16: The metre is irregular possibly owing to textual corruption; 3 : 3 predominates. The theme is again the Oneness of Yahweh; it is by His will, and by His will alone, that Cyrus is about to conquer Babylon.

xlviii.17-19: Qinah. Yahweh taught Israel, but Israel would not hearken, therefore punishment was meted out.

xlviii.20-22: Irregular metre, with Qinah predominating. Verse 22 is clearly an editorial addition. The exiles are bidden to go forth from Babylon.

xlix.1-6: Mainly 3 : 3. The second "Servant of the Lord" song.

xlix.7-I2: Qinah in verse 7, the rest 3 : 3. Though Israel has been oppressed and despised, yet will Yahweh re-establish her, and she shall be an object of wonder to the Gentiles.

xlix.13: An isolated fragment in irregular measure; but possibly an introduction to the poem which follows. Heaven and earth are called upon to rejoice, for Yahweh has shown compassion on His people.

xlix.14-21: Irregular metre, varying between 3 : 3 and Qinah; a message of comfort to Israel, telling of Yahweh's loving-kindness.

xlix.22-26: There is a break after verse 24, but the whole is 3 : 3. A promise that Israel's children shall be restored to her; they shall be brought by the Gentiles; kings shall do honour to her; the enemies of Israel shall be punished; but Yahweh will redeem His people.

l.1-3: Irregular metre, with 3 : 3 predominating. A message of comfort to Israel; she was, indeed, punished for her sins , but Yahweh is, nevertheless, ready, in His mercy, to receive her.

l.4-11: Qinah. The third "Servant of the Lord" song.

li.1-8: Mostly 3 : 3, but with some irregularities. Yahweh's blessing on those who follow after righteousness. His salvation shall be for the entire world; the evildoers shall not prevail.

li.9-11: Alternation between Qinah and 3 : 3. An appeal to Yahweh to show forth His might as in primeval times.

li.12-16: The metre is similar to the preceding; a song of comfort for Israel which is put into the mouth of Yahweh.

li.17-lii.12: The metre in this poem is very varied; Qinah seems to predominate, but li.21, 22 are in 3 : 3, and Iii.1, 2 are prose. Jerusalem's sufferings in the past are recorded; but now her redemption is proclaimed.

lii.13-Iiii.12: With a few variations the metre is 3 : 3. The fourth "Servant of the Lord" song.

liv.1-6: Qinah and 3 : 3; a song of comfort for Zion.

liv.7-10: Almost wholly 3 : 3. The theme is the same as in the preceding piece; the loving-kindness of Yahweh shall never cease.

liv.11-14: The metre is again 3 : 3, but in this case carried right through. The future glory of Zion is depicted.

liv.15-17: Metre very irregular. Zion's permanent safety is prophesied.

lv.1-5: Irregular metre, but, apparently, with a 3 : 3 basis. An invitation to the people to accept Yahweh's blessings, which are freely given.

lv.6-13: The metre varies between 3 : 3 (verses 6-11) and Qinah (verses 12, 13). A beautiful little poem calling upon the people to seek Yahweh; His mercy, like His glory, is everlasting.

In most cases these poems, in their originally spoken form, were doubtless much longer. They would, therefore, seem to be a collection of brief summaries of the prophet's addresses, delivered at different times, and, likely enough, made by himself; in some cases, as will have been seen, a fuller form of the address has been written down. (This is not to be understood as implying that our records are in any way incorrect or deficient in essentials. The essence of the message is always there, though the prophet, when speaking face to face with all & sundry, probably delivered it in a form considerably more extensive than that, which appears in our Bibles. My collaborator, Dr. Robinson, is however, unable to agree with me on this point, & still holds it to be more probable that the words ascribed to the prophet in the Bible do (except where, as often happens, an oracles has been mutilated in the course of transmission) represent verbatim what the prophet said, on each occasion, as he delivered the message divinely communicated to him. - W.O.E.O.)

This would seem to be the best way to account for the number of independent pieces on the one hand, and a certain grouping together of subject matter on the other.


Of the life of the prophet his writings give us no information. It is highly probable that he lived in Babylon, though that he always addresses the exiles would not necessarily prove this; more convincing is his intimate knowledge of the manner of life of the Babylonians (xlvii.8.ff.), and of Babylonian religion (xlvi.1), and astrology (xlvii.13-15); these passages suggest first-hand knowledge. Further, as Meinhold has pointed out, the anonymity of the writer supports this. [Einfuhrung in das Alte Testament, p.273 (1932).]

There would have been no reason for his name to be concealed had he lived in Palestine, whereas in Babylon this was necessary. Had the writer of much that occurs in these chapters, especially xlvii, been identified, his career would soon have been cut short.

And perhaps most convincing of all is the prophet's familiarity with certain expressions and modes of address, which are specifically Babylonian.

Details of this cannot be given here. [See Gressmann, Der Ursprung der israelitisch-judischen Eschatologie, pp.250 ff, 305 ff. (1905).]

But the use of these is a strong argument in favour of the prophet having lived in Babylon. (The suggestions of his having lived in Northern Syria, or in Egypt, do not carry conviction.)

The outstanding subjects of "Deutero-Isaiah's" teaching are:

  1. His conception of God. It is true to say that we have here the most exalted teaching in the whole of the Old Testament. His monotheism is explicit as never before, and his words concerning the greatness and omnipotence of God are unrivalled.

  2. His teaching on the regeneration of the people. Here, while following in the footsteps of earlier prophets, he handles the subject independently and develops it in a way peculiar to himself.

  3. His universalistic conceptions. This, again, while not in itself new, surpasses in its wideness all that had previously been taught. [These subjects are more fully dealt with in the present writer's Hebrew Religion, pp.259-2704 (1930).]

But, apart from the first of these, the most striking and specific teaching of this prophet is contained in the "Servant of the Lord" poems (xlii.1-4, xlix.1-6, l.4-9, Iii.13-Iiii.12). Each of these four pieces stands independent and could be taken out of its present position without affecting the contents. In assigning the authorship of these poems to Deutero-Isaiah, we do not lose sight of the fact that opinions vary on the subject. Much can be urged for and against his authorship. Either view can claim a number of outstanding authorities in its favour, supported by cogent arguments; or, naturally enough, such arguments appeal with differing force to different minds. But who the writer of these poems was is a matter of less importance than the teaching they contain.

Briefly summarized this may be stated as follows:

  1. xlii.1-4 In the first poem the Servant, the chosen one of God, will by means of the divine spirit of which he is the recipient, proclaim the message of truth and righteousness to the world;
  2. xlix.1-6 In the second poem this universalistic note is further emphasized. The Servant is described as one, who through apparent failure in toiling among his own people, will by divine help, become not only the saviour of them, but will also be for salvation to the whole earth;
  3. l.4-11 The third poem tells of the Servant's suffering for bearing witness to God, but with the help of God all his adversaries will be put to shame;
  4. Iii.13-Iiii.12 In the last poem he is depicted as a leper and martyr who lays down his life for others, but who will be raised from death by God to complete his work for his fellow-men.

The identity of the Servant, whether representing the nation of Israel personified or an individual, is again a matter of divided opinions; but this, as well as that of the authorship of the poems, is a special study which cannot be dealt with in detail here. (See further, Oesterley & Robinson, Hebrew Religion, pp.264 ff.)


It has been pointed out that the form in which the writings of "Deutero-Isaiah" are composed is poetical; that the Hebrew in which they are written is so pure shows that in spite of their foreign surroundings the Jews preserved their language uncontaminated. The style of the writing is for the most part simple and straightforward, and usually easy to understand. At the same time, in reading through these chapters one cannot help experiencing a certain sense of monotony on account of the reiteration of the same subjects. This is, however, to be explained by the fact, already mentioned, that we have here summaries of discourses uttered at different times. All being pieces; they were never intended to be read as a unity. The Prophet had a certain number of outstanding themes, which filled his mind, and these found frequent expression when he addressed his people.

This must be borne in mind when reading these chapters. (Mowinkel's careful study, Die Komposition des deuterojesajanischen Buches, in ZATW, 1931, pp.87-112, 242-260, should be consulted.)


In general, the text has come down to us in a remarkably good state. There are a certain number of corruptions, and one or two displacements due to copyists. Various instances occur of later additions, a feature common to all the Biblical books, but as a rule they are fairly obvious.

For a rectification of the corrupt passages the Septuagint is often of great help; one or two illustrations of this will be of interest: at the end of xl.19 there is a meaningless phrase which disturbs the rhythm and may possibly be the corrupt remnant of a marginal note which found its way into the text. The Septuagint omits it altogether. (The RV paraphrases it: "& casteth (for it) silver chains.")

The Hebrew text of xl.20 reads: "He that is impoverished a heave-offering wood that doth not rot he chooseth". The Septuagint, without which it would be difficult to make anything of this, reads, "He who prepares a likeness," i.e. he who sets up an image, "chooseth wood ... ". Moreover, the Septuagint enables us to see what the original Hebrew text read, and how easily, owing to the similarity of the letters, the corruption arose. Another illustration may be given which occurs in xlii.19. Taking the Hebrew text as it stands it reads:

"Who is blind, but my servant, and deaf, like my messenger (whom) I send? Who is blind like one that is recompensed, and blind like the servant of Yahweh?"

In view of what has been said at the beginning of the chapter about the servant of Yahweh, this reads very strangely, apart from the obvious lack of sense in the passage. Following the Septuagint this verse should be read:

"Who is blind like my servants (plur. i.e. the Israelites), and deaf like their rulers?"

(i.e. Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah, largely owing to whose folly the Exile came about). The Septuagint, following the original form of the Hebrew text, makes the passage full of significance. Other illustrations could be given, and there are also a number of less important cases in which, following the Septuagint, a single word, emended, gives point to the text.

It will thus be realized how extremely important the Septuagint is for the study of these chapters. On the other hand, the Septuagint, in many instances, gives fantastic renderings, having clearly misunderstood the Hebrew. The outcome is that, while we cannot afford to do without the Septuagint, it must be used with caution and discrimination. (Zillessen offers a valuable contribution to the subject in ZATW, 1903, pp.49-86.)