Isa 52:1-15. First through
Thirteen Verses Connected with Fifty-first Chapter.
Zion long in bondage (Isa 51:17-20) is called to put on beautiful garments
appropriate to its future prosperity.
1. strength—as thy adornment; answering
to "beautiful garments" in the parallel clause. Arouse thyself from
dejection and assume confidence.
the holy city—(Ne 11:1; Re
no more … unclean—(Isa 35:8; 60:21; Joe 3:17; Re 21:27). A prophecy never yet fulfilled.
uncircumcised—spiritually (Eze 44:9;
2. from the dust—the seat of mourners
arise, and sit—namely, in a more
dignified place: on a divan or a throne [Lowth], after having shaken off the dust gathered up
by the flowing dress when seated on the ground; or simply, "Arise, and
sit erect" [Maurer].
bands of … neck—the yoke of thy
3. As you became your foes' servants, without
their paying any price for you (Jer 15:13), so they shall release you without
demanding any price or reward (Isa 45:13), (where Cyrus is represented as doing
so: a type of their final restoration gratuitously in like manner). So
the spiritual Israel, "sold under sin," gratuitously (Ro 7:14), shall be redeemed also gratuitously
4. My people—Jacob and his sons.
went down—Judea was an elevated
country compared with Egypt.
sojourn—They went there to stay only
till the famine in Canaan should have ceased.
Assyrian—Sennacherib. Remember how I
delivered you from Egypt and the Assyrian; what, then, is to prevent Me
from delivering you out of Babylon (and the mystical Babylon and the
Antichrist in the last days)?
without cause—answering to "for
naught" in Isa 52:5; it
was an act of gratuitous oppression in the present case, as in
5. what have I here—that is, what am I
called on to do? The fact "that My people is taken away (into
captivity; Isa 49:24, 25) for naught" (by gratuitous
oppression, Isa 52:4;
52:3, and see on Isa 52:3) demands My interposition.
they that rule—or "tyrannize," namely,
Babylon, literal and mystical.
make … to howl—or, raise a cry
of exultation over them [Maurer].
blasphemed—namely, in Babylon: God's
reason for delivering His people, not their goodness, but for the sake
of His holy name (Eze 20:9, 14).
6. shall know in that day—when Christ
shall reveal Himself to Israel sensibly; the only means whereby their
obstinate unbelief shall be overcome (Ps 102:16; Zec 12:10;
7. beautiful … feet—that is, The
advent of such a herald seen on the distant "mountains" (see on
Isa 40:9; Isa 41:27; Isa 25:6, 7; So 2:17)
running in haste with the long-expected good tidings, is most
grateful to the desolated city (Na 1:15).
good tidings—only partially applying
to the return from Babylon. Fully, and antitypically, the Gospel (Lu 2:10,
11), "beginning at Jerusalem"
24:47), "the city of the
great King" (Mt 5:35),
where Messiah shall, at the final restoration of Israel, "reign" as
peculiarly Zion's God ("Thy God reigneth"; compare Ps 2:6).
8. watchmen—set on towers separated by
intervals to give the earliest notice of the approach of any messenger
with tidings (compare Isa 21:6-8). The Hebrew is more forcible
than English Version, "The voice of thy watchmen" (exclamatory
as in So
2:8). "They lift up their
voice! together they sing."
eye to eye—that is, close at hand, and
so clearly [Gesenius]; Nu 14:14, "face to face"; Nu 12:8, "mouth to mouth." Compare 1Co 13:12; Re
22:4, of which Simeon's sight
of the Saviour was a prefiguration (Lu 2:30). The watchmen, spiritually, are
ministers and others who pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Isa 62:6, 7),
bring again—that is, restore. Or else,
"return to" [Maurer].
9. (Isa 14:7, 8; 42:11).
redeemed—spiritually and nationally
10. made bare … arm—metaphor from
warriors who bare their arm for battle (Eze 4:7).
all … earth … see … salvation
of … God—The deliverance wrought by God for Israel will
cause all nations to acknowledge the Lord (Isa 66:18-20). The partial fulfilment (Lu 3:6) is a forerunner of the future complete
11. (Isa 48:20; Zec 2:6, 7). Long residence in Babylon made
many loath to leave it: so as to mystical Babylon (Re 18:4).
ye … that bear … vessels of the
Lord—the priests and Levites, whose office it was to carry
the vessels of the temple (Jer 27:18).
Nebuchadnezzar had carried them to Babylon (2Ch 36:18). Cyrus restored them (Ezr 1:7-11).
be … clean—by separating
yourselves wholly from Babylonian idolaters, mystical and literal.
12. not … with haste—as when ye
left Egypt (Ex 12:33, 39; De 16:3; compare Note, see on Isa 28:16). Ye shall have time to cleanse yourselves
and make deliberate preparation for departure.
Lord—Jehovah, as your Leader in front
(Isa 40:3; Ex 23:20; Mic 2:13).
rereward—literally, "gather up," that
is, to bring up the rear of your host. The transition is frequent from
the glory of Messiah in His advent to reign, to His humiliation in His
advent to suffer. Indeed, so are both advents accounted one, that He is
not said, in His second coming, to be about to return, but to
13. Here the fifty-third chapter ought to
begin, and the fifty-second chapter end with Isa 52:12. This section, from here to end of the
fifty-third chapter settles the controversy with the Jews, if Messiah
be the person meant; and with infidels, if written by Isaiah, or at any
time before Christ. The correspondence with the life and death of Jesus
Christ is so minute, that it could not have resulted from conjecture or
accident. An impostor could not have shaped the course of events
so as to have made his character and life appear to be a fulfilment of
it. The writing is, moreover, declaredly prophetic. The
quotations of it in the New Testament show: (1) that it was, before the
time of Jesus, a recognized part of the Old Testament; (2) that it
refers to Messiah (Mt
8:17; Mr 15:28; Lu 22:37; Joh 12:38; Ac 8:28-35; Ro 10:16; 1Pe
2:21-25). The indirect
allusions to it still more clearly prove the Messianic interpretation;
so universal was that interpretation, that it is simply referred
to in connection with the atoning virtue of His death, without
being formally quoted (Mr
9:12; Ro 4:25; 1Co 15:3; 2Co 5:21; 1Pe 1:19; 2:21-25; 1Jo 3:5). The genuineness of the passage
is certain; for the Jews would not have forged it, since it is
opposed to their notion of Messiah, as a triumphant temporal
prince. The Christians could not have forged it; for the Jews,
the enemies of Christianity, are "our librarians" [Paley]. The Jews try to evade its force by the
figment of two Messiahs, one a suffering Messiah (Ben Joseph), the
other a triumphant Messiah (Ben David). Hillel maintained that Messiah has already come in
the person of Hezekiah. Buxtorf states
that many of the modern Rabbins believe that He has been come a good
while, but will not manifest Himself because of the sins of the Jews.
But the ancient Jews, as the Chaldee paraphrast, Jonathan, refer it to
Messiah; so the Medrasch Tauchuma (a commentary on the
Pentateuch); also Rabbi Moses Haddarschan (see Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old
Testament). Some explain it of the Jewish people, either in
the Babylonish exile, or in their present sufferings and dispersion.
Others, the pious portion of the nation taken collectively,
whose sufferings made a vicarious satisfaction for the ungodly. Others,
Isaiah, or Jeremiah [Gesenius], the
prophets collectively. But an individual is plainly
described: he suffers voluntarily, innocently, patiently, and as
the efficient cause of the righteousness of His people, which holds
good of none other but Messiah (Isa 53:4-6, 9, 11; contrast Jer 20:7; 15:10-21; Ps
137:8, 9). Isa 53:9 can hold good of none other. The
objection that the sufferings (Isa 53:1-10) referred to are represented as
past, the glorification alone as future (Isa
52:13-15; 53:11, 12) arises
from not seeing that the prophet takes his stand in the midst of
the scenes which he describes as future. The greater nearness of the
first advent, and the interval between it and the second, are implied
by the use of the past tense as to the first, the future
as to the second.
Behold—awakening attention to the
striking picture of Messiah that follows (compare Joh 19:5, 14).
my servant—Messiah (Isa 42:1).
deal prudently—rather, "prosper"
[Gesenius] as the parallel clause favors
53:10). Or, uniting both
meanings, "shall reign well" [Hengstenberg]. This verse sets forth in the
beginning the ultimate issue of His sufferings, the description of
which follows: the conclusion (Isa 53:12) corresponds; the section (Isa 52:13;
53:12) begins as it ends with
His final glory.
16:19; Eph 1:20-22; 1Pe 3:22).
14, 15. Summary of Messiah's history, which is
set forth more in detail in the fifty-third chapter. "Just as many were
astonished (accompanied with aversion, Jer 18:16;
19:8), &c.; his visage,
&c.; so shall He sprinkle," &c.; Israel in this answers to its
antitype Messiah, now "an astonishment and byword" (De 28:37), hereafter about to be a blessing and
means of salvation to many nations (Isa 2:2, 3; Mic 5:7).
thee; his—Such changes of persons are
common in Hebrew poetry.
abstract for concrete; not only disfigured, but disfigurement
more than man—Castalio translates, "so that it was no longer that
of a man" (compare Ps 22:6). The
more perfect we may suppose the "body prepared" (Heb 10:5) for Him by God, the sadder by contrast
was the "marring" of His visage and form.
15. sprinkle many—Gesenius, for the antithesis to "be astonished,"
translates, "shall cause … to exult." But the word universally in
the Old Testament means either to sprinkle with blood, as the
high priest makes an expiation (Le 4:6; 16:18, 19); or with water, to purify (Eze 36:25; compare as to the Spirit, Ac 2:33), both appropriate to Messiah
(Joh 13:8; Heb 9:13, 14; 10:22;
12:24; 1Pe 1:2). The
antithesis is sufficient without any forced rendering. Many were
astonished; so many (not merely men, but) nations shall
be sprinkled. They were amazed at such an abject person claiming to
be Messiah; yet it is He who shall justify and purify. Men
were dumb with the amazement of scorn at one marred more than
the lowest of men, yet the highest: even kings (Isa 49:7,
23) shall be dumb with awe
and veneration ("shut … mouths"; Job 29:9,
10; Mic 7:16).
that … not … told them—the
reason why kings shall so venerate them; the wonders of redemption,
which had not been before told them, shall then be announced to them,
wonders such as they had never heard or seen parallelled (Isa
55:1; Ro 15:21; 16:25, 26).