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Isaiah 43:11

New American Standard Bible 1995

11 “I, even I, am the Lord, And there is no savior besides Me.

43:11 The Westminster Leningrad Codex

11 אָנֹכִ֥י אָנֹכִ֖י יְהוָ֑ה וְאֵ֥ין מִבַּלְעָדַ֖י מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

Isaiah 43:25

New American Standard Bible 1995

25 “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.

43:25 The Westminster Leningrad Codex

25 אָנֹכִ֨י אָנֹכִ֥י ה֛וּא מֹחֶ֥ה פְשָׁעֶ֖יךָ לְמַעֲנִ֑י וְחַטֹּאתֶ֖יךָ לֹ֥א אֶזְכֹּֽר׃

In Isaiah 43:11 & Isaiah 43:25, one can see the "I, even I" phrase being used. From my perspective, said verses are an example of a Duet in Literature. To elaborate, the "I, even I" phrase refers to the Father & Son persons of the Trinity/Triune God respectively.

In Isaiah 43:25, I can sort of give an explanation:

Isaiah 43:25

New American Standard Bible 1995

25 “I(Father God), even I(Son of God), am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I(Father God) will not remember your sins.

In said verse, both "Father God" and The Son of God are involved in wiping away transgressions of people because

  1. "Father God" willing put His Son to Death on The Cross in order to wipe away transgressions.

  2. Furthermore, The Son of God willingly accepted being led to Death on The Cross for transgressions.

  3. Finally, the aforementioned Death needed to happen in order to "Father God" to Not remember sins.

Is the use of the aforementioned phrase an example of a Duet in literature that involves the Father & Son persons of the Trinity(Triune God) speaking in an interleaving manner?

Related Postings: Use of "I, even I" and similar phrases

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  • 2
    Do you mean "duet" As in "a performance by two people, especially singers, instrumentalists, or dancers"? In this case it would be two people speaking alternately?
    – David D
    Commented Feb 28 at 17:41
  • 1
    @DavidD Yes, something like that. For lack of better words & phrases, I called it a "Duet in literature" for this case. Please feel free to correct me. :) Commented Feb 28 at 18:09
  • 1
    @Anne Please see my answer below.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 28 at 18:39
  • 1
    The "problem" here is that almost all these texts in Isa 41 - Isa 45 are quoted in the NT as applying to Jesus - your "duet" claim makes Jesus two people. The "I, even I" idiom is simply reinforcing the fact that God did this without help and personally. That is, God did this without delegation.
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 28 at 20:29
  • 2
    @Dottard The "duet" is clearly identified as Father and Son. It does not make Jesus two persons. The fact Isaiah 41-45 is cited in the NT can be seen as part of the answer. OT has I, I. However, the Son was sent and speaks only what the Father says. What is spoken and heard in Isaiah is I, I what is spoken and heard in NT is only I but always has an implied unspoken I [Father]. Commented Feb 29 at 2:38

3 Answers 3

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There is some evidence that this construction is, in Hebrew, indicative of a duet.

The same construction is used in Deborah's song, which is a duet involving both Deborah and Barak.

Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying, Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel. [Judges 5:1-3]


  1. Praise ye the LORD who did avenge his people Israel.

When willingly themselves did give, ‘twas then they did prevail.

  1. Give ear O kings and princes, hear; I, I, a song will raise,

unto the LORD. To Isr’el’s God, the LORD, will I sing praise.

  1. When, LORD, thou wentest out of Seir, in marching thou went’st forth;

out of the field of Edom, then strong trembling shook the earth.

  1. The heavens dropp’d, as did the clouds drop water to the ground.

The mounts did melt before the LORD; e’en Sinai was not sound.

'Songs of the Witnesses' Belmont Publications

(Versed by Nigel Johnstone.)

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  • 1
    Good points. When the Q was first posted, it said "Deut", not "duet"! Thankfully, "duet literature" has now been edited in to the Q, so all is clear!
    – Anne
    Commented Feb 29 at 15:27
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The "I, even I" theme in Isa 43:11 & 25 is simply Hebrew idiom which is explained in the next phrase. Let us observe the following:

  • In the common translations of "I even I", the conjunction "even" or equivalent is absent. However, many English versions add this to make sense of the Hebrew.
  • the following verbs are singular

Isa 43:11

The Hebrew would most literally read, given the implied noun train:

I [am] me, Jehovah, [there is] no Savior but me.

This simply emphasizes the previous clause which declares that there is no God but Jehovah. The NT takes up this theme and says that Jesus is the only Savior, Acts 4:12.

Therefore, given the implied reference to the Shema in Deut 6:4, 5, that Jehovah is One, it is difficult to read this any other way.

Isa 43:25

This verse uses a similar Hebrew emphasis - Jehovah is simply saying that He personally blots out transgressions and that this task is not delegated to anyone else.

Now, while Jehovah is One ("echad", Deut 6:4) this does not prevent Jehovah being more than one person, any more than husbands and wives are said to be "one" (Gen 2:24) but are more than one person. Jesus appears to allude to this in John 10:30 but that is another question.

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  • A Hebrew idiom? Why is an idiom found only in Isaiah 43:11, 43:25, and 51:12? Aren't you being dismissive of something which is quite rare in the OT? Commented Feb 28 at 22:12
  • @RevelationLad - it is not as rare as you suppose. There are other places where God says "I am Iam", and, "I am he", etc. But that is another question.
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 29 at 1:25
  • Where beside Isaiah 43:11, 43:25, and 51:12 is אנכי אנכי found? Commented Feb 29 at 1:37
  • @RevelationLad - there is a similar construction in Deut 32:39, Isa 48:15, Hos 5:14, Eze 5:8, Isa 45:12, 19, 51:12, etc.
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 29 at 1:56
  • Similar constructions might lead to similar English translations but they are not idioms in the original language. The phrase is unique to Second Isaiah which makes the use of אָנֹכִי even more notable since is אֲנִי considered to be preferred by later writers. hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/5853/… Commented Feb 29 at 2:28
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Isaiah 43:25 and Isaiah 51:12 have reduplications of the so-called ‘archaic’ personal pronoun ’ā·nō·ḵî, where the second occurrence of ’ā·nō·ḵî immediately follows the first occurrence, and each second occurrence is followed by hū. These we may render as “I— [even] I—[am] He.” We find ’ă·nî hū in Isaiah 43:10, 13; 48:12; and 52:6. In Deuteronomy 32:39 we find another reduplication of the personal pronoun written not as ’ā·nō·ḵî ’ā·nō·ḵî but as ’ă·nî ’ă·nî, and is followed by the third person pronoun hū. This, too, we may render as “I—[even] I—[am] He.”

In support, we read from Gesenius Hebrew Grammar[xi]:

1.The separate pronouns,—apart from their employment as the subject in noun-clauses (cf. §141a) and the idiom mentioned under d–h,—are used, according to §32 b, as a rule, only to give express emphasis to the subject; e.g. Gn 16:5, 2 S 24:17 אָֽנֹכִי i.e. I myself, so also 2 S 12:28, 17:15 (after the verb), Ez  34:15, Ps  2:6; 1 but 1 S 10:18, 2 S 12:7, Is  45:12 ֽאָנִֹכי I and none else; cf. also אֲנִי אֲנִי , I I! Ho  5:14, &c.; אַתָּה   Gn 15:15, Ju  15:18, 1 S 17:56 (as in 20:8, 22:18, Ex 18:19, Dt  5:24, Ju 8:21, after the imperative); 1 K 21:7; אַתֶּם Gn 9:7, Ex 20:19 (after the verb, Ju 15:12); fem. Gn 31:6; היא ; 22:18 1 הִוּא Gn  3:20, Ju 14:3; הֵ֫מָּה Jer 5:5. .... 1 ^1 Also הוּא ,הִיא he himself, she herself (of persons and things), e.g. Is  7:14 הוּא ֲאדֹנָי the Lord himself; Est 9:1 מה ה היהודים the Jews themselves. In the sense of the same (ὁ αὐτός) or (one and) the same, הוּא is used in Is  41:4, 43:10, 46:4, 48:12 (always אֲנִי הוּא), Ps  102:28 (אַתָּה הוּא), and probably also Jb  3:19 . . . [The bolding of the words is mine.]

Isaiah 43:11a and 43:25a have the device (reduplication of first person pronouns), which the speaker (God) again uses for heightening the emphasis on Himself, although it occurs there with a different first person pronoun אנכי אנכי הוא ’ā·nō·ḵî ’ā·nō·ḵî hū (“I— [even] I, [am] he”) than the single use of אני, ’ă·nî that we see one verse earlier (!) in 43:10b ’ă·nî hū, (“I [am] He [YHWH]”; see 43:10a for that antecedent, YHWH).

In Isaiah 43:25 LXX, the translator of the LXX Isaiah text, as represented in Alfred Rahlfs’ version, did not ignore the second occurrence of ’ā·nō·ḵî. He did not skip over it, but correctly saw it as a copular construction in which its subject (the speaker, God) placed emphasis on Himself by means of the first ’ā·nō·ḵî. So, for correspondence to that ’ā·nō·ḵî, the LXX translator, constructing here reduplication of ἐγώ εἰμι for sole purpose of using the first of the two clauses for emphasis, considered himself as having thereby accomplished it with his first use of ἐγώ εἰμι. So, the original translator for LXX Isaiah was not slavishly following Hebrew grammar. He felt that he could introduce the second use of ἐγώ εἰμι with no device for any heightening of that emphasis. Therefore, his translation is ἐγώ εἰμι ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ἐξαλείφων τὰς ἀνομίας σου, “I—[even] I am the one blotting out your transgressions” for conveying literalness and emphasis. He therefore did not follow after the lead in the Hebrew where we see that God made a more expansive predicate by His use of הוא hū before He spoke מחה, mō-ḥeh, the predicate participle: ‘I—[even] I [am] He who blots out your transgressions.’ No, the original LXX did not, but certain editors of the LXX did for a more literal translation of the Hebrew. I take this up in the next paragraph.

Now, here it really gets interesting as respects what we find from the hands of editors for their alteration of the original LXX at Isaiah 43:25. There are codices that present a variant to the original LXX here at 43:25, which was made by insertion of αὐτός after ἐγώ εἰμι ἐγώ εἰμι. And then in that edited LXX, following after αὐτός, we find the participial phrase ὁ ἐξαλείφων τὰς ἀνομίας, and the result in translation is: “I—[even] I myself am the one who blots out your transgressions.” What grammatical effect was made by this addition of αὐτός? Ken Penner states:

Because pronoun Αὐτός is not exclusively a third person pronoun [e.g Isaiah 54:5 LXX, which has the reading Σε Αὐτὸς Θεὸς Ἰσραήλ, God of Israel himself who rescues you, in manuscript witnesses A and B, and is followed by Alfred Rahlfs’, (q.v. Penner])], here since it is nominative it emphasizes the subject, even though the verb is in the first person [for the typical emphasis it conveys], hence the translation “I myself” [for heightened emphasis]. (All bracketed material here is mine.)

So, to recap: what we find by comparison of the original LXX Isaiah 43:25 with an edited Isaiah 43:25 LXX, is this: for the phrase ’ā·nō·ḵî hū that follows the first ’ā·nō·ḵî, original Isaiah 43:25 LXX translated it by recording the second use of ἐγώ εἰμι: the translator saw the phrase ’ā ·nō·ḵî hū as copulative for joining the subject to its subject complement hū, and to its predicate adjunct, the Hebrew participle mō-ḥeh, “who blots out.” So, the original LXX sentence is: “I— [even] I, am the one blotting out . . .” But then came along certain editors of the LXX, and they knew that the first ’ā·nō·ḵî was for setting up the salient phrase that followed as device for giving it emphasis. But here in 43:25, the editors wanted to render a translation for further heightening the emphasis. They achieved it by inclusion of αὐτός as predicate after the second occurrence of the ἐγώ εἰμι, which second occurrence was already in place in the original LXX.

Theodotion, Symmachus, and Aquila are the ones who are named for editing in antiquity the LXX here (43:25), by insertion of αὐτός. Assuming the likely thing that they did it, we have seen Penner’s explanation for why they did it, and it is not contradicted by Catrin H. Williams:

‘The Three’ are said to add αυτός after the doubling of έγώ είμι in Isa. 43:25 and 51:12 (QSyh), a feature again reflecting their attempts at literalness. (Emphasis is mine).

They simply were attempting emphasis and literalness in their rendering of the Hebrew here. There is absolutely nothing in the Hebrew texts nor in the Greek Septuagint translation (LXX) of the Hebrew as though "I even I" can be construed for argument that the texts give us presentation of speakers in dialogue with themselves but referenced by a reduplication of the pertinent singular-number pronoun.

We find this device (reduplication of אני) used again at Isaiah 48:15: ואני־אני דיברתי ’ă·nî ’ă·nî dib·har·tî (“I—[even] I, spoke”). The clause lacks הוא hū (“he”)—it does not have that predicate pronoun, nor any predicate nominative, either, and that because the clause here is not copulative. But what was the apparent reason that there was no insertion of hū in the text? It was not inserted, and that because God scaled back on any further heightening of the emphasis that he might have given Himself had He followed the second ’ă·nî with הוא, hū in copulative construction, and then have followed it up for an even more expansive predicate, for this: ינא־ינאו אוה רשא דיבר (“And I— [even] I [am] He who spoke [when I prophetically announced Cyrus]” (cf. v. 14b, c).
The final occurrence of this emphasis-giving device (reduplication of a first-person pronoun) in Isaiah is 51:12: אנכי אנכי הוא ’ā·nō·ḵî ’ā·nō·ḵî hū (“I—[even] I—[am] he”). Note that the first-person pronoun here is ’ā·nō·ḵî, not ’ă·nî.) The emphasis God gives Himself may be conveyed in translation without supplying the adverb “even” before the second occurrence of the first-person pronoun, but rather by use of the reflexive pronoun “myself”: “I myself.” It is the translator’s choice. (We may, however, see hū in Isaiah 51:12 as a cataphor that co-refers with the participle that follows it: “I [am] he, (the one) comforting you”; see also Isaiah 52:7 for such use of hū as a cataphor.)

(In what follows in this paragraph, the reader should be attentive to which part of Hosea 5:14 is being cited, whether it is 5:14a, or 5:14b.) So, first as respects Hosea 5:14b Hebrew: the salient reduplication of the first-person pronoun ’ă·nî is found again. We read the following in Hosea 5:14b: אני אני, ’ă·nî ’ă·nî [“I—[even] I”]. The third person pronoun is not found in Hosea 5:14b because, unlike the copulative construction with use of ’ā·nō·ḵî in Isaiah 51:12, the text does not have the device in copular construction. The thing about Hosea 5:14a LXX, however, is this: it still used the salient construction ἐγώ εἰμι in copulative construction, and that because the Hebrew had used one of its first-person pronouns, אנכי,’ā·nō·ḵî, as the subject of a copulative construction, too.

The LXX gives no support to the theory that we should see in any of Isaiah's Hebrew texts any presentations of God's speech acts as having a linguistic device that reveals a plurality of persons as the referents of a singular-number pronoun whether in the subject or predicate position, and that such theologizing was employed by the LXX. Ken Penner agrees that there is no theologizing peculiar to Hebrew Isaiah passages where the speaker, God, uses reduplication of first-person pronouns references to Himself. Ken Penner:

Because the Greek simply represents the Hebrew, these are not instances of the translator injecting a theological point into his translation.

PENNER, KEN M., Esaias 7 in Codex Sinaiticus, Religious Studies, Antigonish, Nova Scotia: St. Francis Xavier University, 2016

WILLIAMS, CATRIN H., I am He: The Interpretation of ’Anî Hû' in Jewish and Early Christian Literature, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000

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