Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
Zion long in bondage
is called to put on beautiful garments appropriate to its future
1. strength--as thy adornment; answering to "beautiful garments" in
the parallel clause. Arouse thyself from dejection and assume
the holy city--
no more . . . unclean--
(Isa 35:8; 60:21;
A prophecy never yet fulfilled.
2. from the dust--the seat of mourners
(Job 2:12, 13).
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
bands of . . . neck--the yoke of thy captivity.
3. As you became your foes' servants, without their paying any price
so they shall release you without demanding any price or reward
(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
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
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
it was an act of gratuitous oppression in the present case, as
in that case.
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,
and see on
demands My interposition.
they that rule--or "tyrannize," namely, Babylon, literal and mystical.
make . . . to howl--or, raise a cry of exultation over them
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
Zec 12:10; 14:5).
7. beautiful . . . feet--that is, The advent of such a herald seen
on the distant "mountains"
Isa 25:6, 7;
running in haste with the long-expected good tidings, is most
grateful to the desolated city
good tidings--only partially applying to the return from Babylon.
Fully, and antitypically, the Gospel
(Lu 2:10, 11),
"beginning at Jerusalem"
"the city of the great King"
where Messiah shall, at the final restoration of Israel, "reign" as
peculiarly Zion's God ("Thy God reigneth"; compare
8. watchmen--set on towers separated by intervals to give the earliest
notice of the approach of any messenger with tidings
The Hebrew is more forcible than English Version, "The
voice of thy watchmen" (exclamatory as in
"They lift up their voice! together they sing."
eye to eye--that is, close at hand, and so clearly
"face to face";
"mouth to mouth." Compare
of which Simeon's sight of the Saviour was a prefiguration
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"
(Isa 14:7, 8; 42:11).
redeemed--spiritually and nationally
10. made bare . . . arm--metaphor from warriors who bare their arm for
all . . . earth . . . see . . . salvation of . . . God--The deliverance
wrought by God for Israel will cause all nations to acknowledge the Lord
The partial fulfilment
is a forerunner of the future complete fulfilment.
Zec 2:6, 7).
Long residence in Babylon made many loath to leave it: so as to
ye . . . that bear . . . vessels of the Lord--the priests and Levites,
whose office it was to carry the vessels of the temple
Nebuchadnezzar had carried them to Babylon
Cyrus restored them
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;
compare Note, see on
Ye shall have time to cleanse yourselves and make deliberate
preparation for departure.
Lord--Jehovah, as your Leader in front
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 come.
13. Here the fifty-third chapter ought to begin, and the fifty-second
chapter end with
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
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
1Pe 1:19; 2:21-25;
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;
Jer 20:7; 15:10-21;
Ps 137:8, 9).
can hold good of none other. The objection that the sufferings
referred to are represented as past, the glorification alone as
(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
Joh 19:5, 14).
deal prudently--rather, "prosper"
[GESENIUS] as the parallel clause
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
corresponds; the section
(Isa 52:13; 53:12)
begins as it ends with His final glory.
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
hereafter about to be a blessing and means of salvation to many nations
(Isa 2:2, 3;
thee; his--Such changes of persons are common in Hebrew poetry.
marred--Hebrew, "disfigurement"; abstract for concrete; not only
disfigured, but disfigurement itself.
more than man--CASTALIO
translates, "so that it was no longer that
of a man" (compare
The more perfect we may suppose the "body prepared"
for Him by God, the sadder by contrast was the "marring" of His visage
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
compare as to the Spirit,
both appropriate to Messiah
Heb 9:13, 14; 10:22; 12:24;
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
(Isa 49:7, 23)
shall be dumb with awe and veneration ("shut . . .
Job 29:9, 10;
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
Ro 15:21; 16:25, 26).