The Lord Carries His People
1 Bel1 kneels down,
Nebo2 bends low.
Their images weigh down animals and beasts.3
Your heavy images are burdensome to tired animals.4
2 Together they bend low and kneel down;
they are unable to rescue the images;5
they themselves6 head off into captivity.7
3Listen to me, O family of Jacob,8
all you who are left from the family of Israel,9
you who have been carried from birth,10
you who have been supported from the time you left the womb.11
4 Even when you are old, I will take care of you,12
even when you have gray hair, I will carry you.
I made you and I will support you;
I will carry you and rescue you.13
5 To whom can you compare and liken me?
Tell me whom you think I resemble, so we can be compared!
6 Those who empty out gold from a purse
and weigh out silver on the scale14
hire a metalsmith, who makes it into a god.
They then bow down and worship it.
7 They put it on their shoulder and carry it;
they put it in its place and it just stands there;
it does not15 move from its place.
Even when someone cries out to it, it does not reply;
it does not deliver him from his distress.
8 Remember this, so you can be brave!16
Think about it, you rebels!17
9 Remember what I accomplished in antiquity!18
Truly I am God, I have no peer;19
I am God, and there is none like me,
10 who announces the end from the beginning
and reveals beforehand20 what has not yet occurred,
who says, ‘My plan will be realized,
I will accomplish what I desire,’
11 who summons an eagle21 from the east,
from a distant land, one who carries out my plan.
Yes, I have decreed,22
yes, I will bring it to pass;
I have formulated a plan,
yes, I will carry it out.
12 Listen to me, you stubborn people,23
you who distance yourself from doing what is right.24
13 I am bringing my deliverance near, it is not far away;
I am bringing my salvation near,25 it does not wait.
I will save Zion;26
I will adorn Israel with my splendor.”27
146:1sn Bel was the name of a Babylonian god. The name was originally associated with Enlil, but later was applied to Marduk. See HALOT 132 s.v. בֵּל. 246:1sn Nebo is a variation of the name of the Babylonian god Nabu. 346:1tn Heb “their images belong to animals and beasts”; NIV “their idols are borne by beasts of burden”; NLT “are being hauled away.” 446:1tn Heb “your loads are carried [as] a burden by a weary [animal].” 546:2tn Heb “[the] burden,” i.e., their images, the heavy burden carried by the animals. 646:2tn נַפְשָׁם (nafsham, “their souls/lives”) is equivalent here to a third masculine plural suffix, but the third feminine singular verb הָלָכָה (halakhah, “they go”) agrees with the feminine noun נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “soul, life”). 746:2sn The downfall of Babylon is depicted here. The idols are carried off by the victorious enemy; the gods are likened to defeated captives who cower before the enemy and are taken into exile. 846:3tn Heb “house of Jacob”; TEV “descendants of Jacob.” 946:3tn Heb “and all the remnant of the house of Israel.” 1046:3tn Heb “from the womb” (so NRSV); KJV “from the belly”; NAB “from your infancy.” 1146:3tn Heb “who have been lifted up from the womb.” 1246:4tn Heb “until old age, I am he” (NRSV similar); NLT “I will be your God throughout your lifetime.” 1346:4sn Unlike the weary idol gods, whose images must be carried by animals, the Lord carries his weary people. 1446:6tn Heb “the reed,” probably referring to the beam of a scales. See BDB 889 s.v. קָנֶה 4.c. 1546:7tn Or perhaps, “cannot,” here and in the following two lines. The imperfect forms can indicate capability. 1646:8tn The meaning of the verb אָשַׁשׁ (’ashash, which appears here in the Hitpolel stem) is uncertain. BDB 84 s.v. אשׁשׁ relates it to a root meaning “found, establish” in Arabic; HALOT 100 s.v. II אשׁשׁ gives the meaning “pluck up courage.” The imperative with vav (ו) may indicate purpose following the preceding imperative. 1746:8tn Heb “return [it], rebels, to heart”; NRSV “recall it to mind, you transgressors.” 1846:9tn Heb “remember the former things, from antiquity”; KJV, ASV “the former things of old.” 1946:9tn Heb “and there is no other” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV). 2046:10tn Or “from long ago”; KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV “from ancient times.” 2146:11tn Or, more generally, “a bird of prey” (so NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV; see 18:6). 2246:11tn Heb “spoken”; KJV “I have spoken it.” 2346:12tn Heb “strong of heart [or, mind]”; KJV “stouthearted”; NAB “fainthearted”; NIV “stubborn-hearted.” 2446:12tn Heb “who are far from righteousness [or perhaps, “deliverance”].” 2546:13tn Heb “my salvation.” The verb “I am bringing near” is understood by ellipsis (note the previous line). 2646:13tn Heb “I will place in Zion salvation”; NASB “I will grant salvation in Zion.” 2746:13tn Heb “to Israel my splendor”; KJV, ASV “for Israel my glory.”