Isaiah – Chapter 49

Unforgettable... That's What You Are...

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Isaiah calls to various nations to pay heed. This was the job G-d had for Isaiah since before he was born. G-d gave Isaiah a mouth “like a sword,” with which to rebuke the wicked. G-d covered Isaiah with the shadow of His hand, so that those he rebuked would not be able to harm him. Isaiah is like an arrow in G-d’s arsenal against evil. Isaiah is as precious to G-d as the entire nation of Israel, in Whom He takes pride. When Isaiah despaired that people did not change their ways, despite his prophesying, G-d knew that it was not that Isaiah was lazy, but that the nation was stubborn. Now, G-d made Isaiah His messenger to bring Israel back to Him in repentance. Israel will return to G-d and Isaiah will be honored in G-d’s eyes.

G-d said to Isaiah that it’s no small thing to be His servant, bringing Israel back to Him. But G-d added even more to that, as Isaiah also prophesied to the other nations, as well. Isaiah’s prophecies would be a “light unto the nations” so that G-d’s salvation would reach the ends of the world.

G-d spoke about Israel, who are despised among nations. Ultimately, kings will rise before them and princes will bow down because they are the chosen people of G-d. G-d says that He answered and saved Israel, and He will watch them and make them an eternal people, rebuilding their desolate land. The exiles will be released from their captivity; on their return, they will graze along the road, not hungry, nor thirsty, nor suffering from the heat, because G-d will lead them by springs of water. Mountains will be leveled to smooth roads and overgrown highways will be cleared. The exiles will return from far and wide. Heaven and Earth will rejoice in song that G-d has had mercy on His people.

The land weeps that G-d has “forgotten” her, but that would be like a mother just forgetting her baby. And even though there may be such neglectful mothers, G-d still won’t overlook the land. It’s as if the land of Israel were engraved on G-d’s “hands” – that’s how unforgettable the land is to Him. The exiles are anxious to return. The wicked who caused the exile will depart. Look up and see the exiles returning; they are like a bride’s jewelry to the land. Those places that had been destroyed and emptied will be crowded with residents. The inhabitants for whom the land cried will tell each other “Move over and gimme room!” When the land sees Jerusalem so overflowing with activity, she will ask where they all came from, seeing how she was all alone for so long. G-d will reply that He will raise His hand to the nations, signaling the return; the nations will assist with the return, affording Israel great honor in the process. Kings and queens will be like nurses and nannies to you. They will bow down and you will know that it is G-d Who has caused this.

G-d says that He can take captives from the mightiest rulers and He will rescue us. Those who oppress Israel will be so distressed that they will become physically ill. Everyone will know that it is G-d Who has saved Israel.

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