Isaiah 52


Jerusalem, in manifest allusion to the strong figure employed

in the close of the preceding chapter, is represented as fallen

asleep in the dust, and in that helpless state bound by her

enemies. The prophet, with all the ardour natural to one who

had such joyful news to communicate, bids her awake, arise, put

on her best attire, (holiness to the Lord,) and ascend her

lofty seat; and then he delivers the message he had in charge,

a very consolatory part of which was, that "no more should

enter into her the uncircumcised and the polluted," 1-6.

Awaking from her stupefaction, Jerusalem sees the messenger of

such joyful tidings on the eminence from which he spied the

coming deliverance. She expresses, in beautiful terms, her joy

at the news, repeating with peculiar elegance the words of the

crier, 7.

The rapturous intelligence, that Jehovah was returning to

resume his residence on his holy mountain, immediately spreads

to others on the watch, who all join in the glad acclamation, 8;

and, in the ardour of their joy, they call to the very ruins of

Jerusalem to sing along with them, because Jehovah maketh bare

his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends

of the earth are about to see the salvation of Israel's God,

9, 10.

To complete the deliverance, they are commanded to march in

triumph out of Babylon, earnestly exhorted to have nothing to

do with any of her abominations, and assured that Jehovah will

guide them in all their way, 11, 12.

The prophet then passes to the procuring cause of this great

blessedness to the house of Israel in particular, and to the

world in general, viz., the humiliation, sufferings, death,

burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ; a very

celebrated and clear prophet which takes up the remainder of

this and the whole of the following chapter.


Verse 1. There shall no more come into thee] For yabo,

"shall come," lebo, "to come," is the reading of five of

Kennicott's and two of De Rossi's MSS. This is the better

reading, ki lo yosiph lebo, "There shall not add

to come."

The uncircumcised and the unclean.] Christians have turned many

passages of the prophets against the Jews; and it is not to be

wondered at, that in support of their obstinate and hopeless

cause, they should press a prophecy into their service, and make

it speak against the Christians. This Kimchi does in this place;

for he says, by the uncircumcised, the Christians are meant; and

by the unclean, the Turks. The Christians are uncircumcised; and

the Turks, though circumcised, and using many ablutions, are

unclean in their works.

Verse 2. Sit down, O Jerusalem-"Ascend thy lofty seat, O

Jerusalem"] The literal rendering here is, according to our

English translation, "arise, sit;" on which a very learned person

remarks: "So the old versions. But sitting is an expression of

mourning in Scripture and the ancients; and doth not well agree

with the rising just before." It does not indeed agree, according

to our ideas; but, considered in an oriental light, it is

perfectly consistent. The common manner of sitting in the eastern

countries is upon the ground or the floor with the legs crossed.

The people of better condition have the floors of their chambers

or divans covered with carpets for this purpose; and round the

chamber broad couches, raised a little above the floor, spread

with mattresses handsomely covered, which are called sofas. When

sitting is spoken of as a posture of more than ordinary state, it

is quite of a different kind; and means sitting on high, on a

chair of state or throne called the musnud; for which a footstool

was necessary, both in order that the person might raise himself

up to it, and for supporting the legs when he was placed in it.

"Chairs," says Sir John Chardin, "are never used in Persia, but at

the coronation of their kings. The king is seated in a chair of

gold set with jewels, three feet high. The chairs which are used

by the people in the east are always so high as to make a

footstool necessary. And this proves the propriety of the style of

Scripture, which always joins the footstool to the throne."

(Isa 66:1; Ps 110:1.)

Voyages, tom. ix. p. 85, 12mo. Besides the six steps to

Solomon's throne, there was a footstool of gold fastened to the

seat, 2Ch 9:18, which would otherwise have been too high for the

king to reach, or to sit on conveniently.

When Thetis comes to wait on Vulcan to request armour for her

son, she is received with great respect, and seated on a

silver-studded throne, a chair of ceremony, with a footstool:-



Iliad xviii. 389.

"High on a throne, with stars of silver graced,

And various artifice, the queen she placed;

A footstool at her feet."



Athenaeus, v. 4. "A throne is nothing more than a handsome sort of

chair with a footstool."-L.

Verse 4. Thus saith the Lord God] Adonai Jehovah;

but Adonai is wanting in twelve of Kennicott's, five of De

Rossi's, and two of my own MSS.; and by the Septuagint and Arabic.

Some MSS. have Jehovah tsebaoth, "Lord of hosts;" and

others have Yehovah Elohim, "Lord God."

Verse 5. They that rule over them-"They that are lords over

them"] For moshelo, singular, in the text, more than a

hundred and twenty MSS. (De Rossi says, codices innumeri,

"numberless copies") have moshelaiv, plural, according to

the Masoretical correction in the margin; which shows that the

Masoretes often superstitiously retained apparent mistakes in the

text, even when they had sufficient evidence to authorize the

introduction of the true reading.

Make them to howl-"Make their boast of it"] For

yeheililu, "make them to howl," five MSS., (two ancient,) have

yehalelu, "make their boast;" which is confirmed by the

Chaldee paraphrast, who renders it mishtabbechin.

Ulaloo is not only the cry itself, but also the name of the funeral

song of the Irish. The Arabs have a cry very much resembling this.

Verse 6. Therefore my people shall know] The word lachen,

occurring the second time in this verse, seems to be repeated by

mistake. It has no force nor emphasis as a repetition; it only

embarrasses the construction and the sense. It was not in the

copies from which the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate were

translated; it was not in the copy of the Septuagint from which

the Arabic was translated; but in the Aldine and Complutensian

editions διατουτο is repeated; probably so corrected, in order to

make it conformable with the Hebrew text.

I am he that doth speak-"I am he, JEHOVAH, that promised"] For

hu, the Bodleian MS. and another have , Jehovah;

"For I am JEHOVAH that promised;" and another ancient MS. adds

Jehovah after hu. The addition of JEHOVAH seems to

be right in consequence of what was said in the preceding line,

"My people shall know my name."

Verse 7. How beautiful] The watchmen discover afar off, on the

mountains, the messenger bringing the expected and much-wished-for

news of the deliverance from the Babylonish captivity. They

immediately spread the joyful tidings, Isa 52:8, and with a loud

voice proclaim that JEHOVAH is returning to Zion, to resume his

residence on his holy mountain, which for some time he seemed to

have deserted. This is the literal sense of the place.

"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the joyful

messenger," is an expression highly poetical: for, how welcome is

his arrival! how agreeable are the tidings which he brings!

Nahum, Na 1:15, who is generally supposed to have lived after

Isaiah, has manifestly taken from him this very pleasing image;

but the imitation does not equal the beauty of the original:-

"Behold upon the mountain the feet of the joyful messenger,

Of him that announceth peace!

Celebrate, O Judah, thy festivals; perform thy vows:

For no more shall pass through thee the wicked one;

He is utterly cut off."

But it must at the same time be observed that Isaiah's subject

is infinitely more interesting and more sublime than that of

Nahum; the latter denounces the destruction of the capital of the

Assyrian empire, the most formidable enemy of Judah; the ideas of

the former are in their full extent evangelical; and accordingly

St. Paul has, with the utmost propriety, applied this passage to

the preaching of the Gospel, Ro 10:15. The joyful tidings here to

be proclaimed, "Thy God, O Zion, reigneth," are the same that John

the Baptist, the messenger of Christ, and Christ himself,

published: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand."

From the use made of this by our Lord and the apostles, we may

rest assured that the preachers of the Gospel are particularly

intended. Mountains are put for the whole land of Judea, where the

Gospel was first preached. There seems to be an allusion to a

battle fought, and the messengers coming to announce the victory,

which was so decisive that a peace was the consequence, and the

king's throne established in the land.

There appear to have been two sorts of messengers among the

Jews: one sort always employed to bring evil tidings; the other to

bring good. The names also and persons of these different

messengers appear to have been well known; so that at a distance

they could tell, from seeing the messenger, what sort of tidings

he was bringing. See a case in point, 2Sa 18:19-27. Ahimaaz and

Cushi running to bring tidings of the defeat of Absalom and his

rebel army. Ahimaaz is a GOOD man, and bringeth GOOD tidings.

Verse 8. Thy watchmen lift up the voice-"All thy watchmen lift

up their voice"] There is a difficulty in the construction of this

place which, I think, none of the ancient versions or modern

interpreters have cleared up satisfactorily. Rendered word for

word it stands thus: "The voice of thy watchmen: they lift up

their voice." The sense of the first member, considered as

elliptical, is variously supplied by various expositors; by none,

as it seems to me, in any way that is easy and natural. I am

persuaded there is a mistake in the present text, and that the

true reading is col tsophayich, all thy watchmen, instead

of kol tsophayich, the voice of thy watchmen. The mistake

was easy from the similitude in sound of the two letters caph

and koph. And in one MS. the koph is upon a rasure. This

correction perfectly rectifies the sense and the construction.-L.

They shall see eye to eye] May not this be applied to the

prophets and apostles; the one predicting, and the other

discovering in the prediction the truth of the prophecy. The

meaning of both Testaments is best understood by bringing them

face to face.

When the Lord shall bring again Zion-"When JEHOVAH returneth to

Zion"] So the Chaldee: cad yethib shechinteih

letsiyon, "when he shall place the shechinah in Zion." God is

considered as having deserted his people during the captivity; and

at the restoration, as returning himself with them to Zion, his

former habitation. See Ps 60:1; Isa 40:9, and note.

Verse 9. He hath redeemed Jerusalem-"He hath redeemed Israel."]

For the word yerushalaim, which occurs the second time in

this verse, MS. Bodleian and another read yisrael. It is

upon a rasure in a third; and left unpointed at first, as

suspected, in a fourth. It was an easy mistake, by the transcriber

casting his eye on the line above: and the propriety of the

correction, both in regard to sense and elegance, is evident.

Verse 11. Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence] The

Prophet Jeremiah seems to have had his eye on this passage of

Isaiah, and to have applied it to a subject directly opposite. It

is here addressed by the prophet in a way of encouragement and

exhortation to the Jews coming out of Babylon. Jeremiah has given

it a different turn, and has thrown it out, as a reproach of the

heathen upon the Jews when they were driven from Jerusalem into


"Depart; ye are polluted, depart; depart ye, forbear to touch.

Yea, they are fled, they are removed: they shall dwell here

no more."

La 4:15.

Of the metrical distribution of these lines, see the Prelim.

Dissert., p. lviii. note.

Verse 13. My servant shall deal prudently] yaskil, shall

prosper, or act prosperously. The subject of Isaiah's prophecy,

from the fortieth chapter inclusive, has hitherto been, in

general, the deliverance of the people of God. This includes in it

three distinct parts; which, however, have a close connexion with

one another; that is, 1. The deliverance of the Jews from the

captivity of Babylon; 2. The deliverance of the Gentiles from

their miserable state of ignorance and idolatry; and, 3. The

deliverance of mankind from the captivity of sin and death. These

three subjects are subordinate to one another; and the two

latter are shadowed out under the image of the former. They are

covered by it as by a veil; which however is transparent, and

suffers them to appear through it. Cyrus is expressly named as the

immediate agent of God in effecting the first deliverance. A

greater person is spoken of as the Agent who is to effect the

two latter deliverances, called the servant, the elect, of God, in

whom his soul delighteth; Israel, in whom God will be glorified.

Now these three subjects have a very near relation to one another;

for as the Agent who was to effect the two latter

deliverances,-that is, the Messiah,-was to be born a Jew, with

particular limitations of time, family, and other circumstances;

the first deliverance was necessary in the order of providence,

and according to the determinate counsel of God, to the

accomplishment of the two latter deliverances; and the second

deliverance was necessary to the third, or rather was involved in

it, and made an essential part of it. This being the case, Isaiah

has not treated the three subjects as quite distinct and separate

in a methodical and orderly manner, like a philosopher or a

logician, but has taken them in their connective view. He has

handled them as a prophet and a poet; he has allegorized the

former, and under the image of it has shadowed out the two latter:

he has thrown them all together, has mixed one with another, has

passed from this to that with rapid transitions, and has painted

the whole with the strongest and boldest imagery. The restoration

of the Jews from captivity, the call of the Gentiles, the

redemption by Messiah, have hitherto been handled

interchangeably and alternately. Babylon has hitherto been kept

pretty much in sight; at the same time, that strong intimations of

something much greater have frequently been thrown in. But here

Babylon is at once dropped, and I think hardly ever comes in

sight again; unless perhaps in Isa 55:12; 57:14. The prophet's

views are almost wholly engrossed by the superior part of his

subject. He introduces the Messiah as appearing at first in the

lowest state of humiliation, which he had just touched upon

before, (Isa 50:5, 6,) and obviates the offence which would be

occasioned by it, by declaring the important and necessary cause

of it, and foreshowing the glory which should follow it.

This seems to me to be the nature and the true design of this

part of Isaiah's prophecies; and this view of them seems to afford

the best method of resolving difficulties, in which expositors are

frequently engaged, being much divided between what is called the

literal and the mystical sense, not very properly; for the

mystical or spiritual sense is very often the most literal sense

of all.

Abarbanel seems to have had an idea of this kind, as he is

quoted by Vitringa on chap. xlix. 1, who thus represents his

sentiments: Censet Abarbanel prophetam hic transitum facere a

liberatione ex exilio Babylonico ad liberationem ex exilio

Romano; et, quod hic animadversu dignum est, observat liberationem

ex exilio Babylonico esse oth veraayah, signum et

argumentum liberationis futurae; atque adeo orationem prophetae de

duabus hisce liberationibus in superioribus concionibus saepe

inter se permisceri. Verba ejus: "Et propterea verba, sive res, in

prophetic superiore inter se permixtae occurrunt; modo de

liberatione Babylonica, modo de liberatione extrema accipiendae,

ut orationis necessitas exigit." Nullum hic vitium, nisi quod

redemptionem veram et spiritualem a Messia vero Jesu adductam, non

agnoscat. "Abarbanel supposes that the prophet here makes a

transition from the deliverance from the Babylonish captivity to

the deliverance from the Roman captivity; and (which is worthy of

particular note) he observes that the deliverance from the

Babylonish captivity is a sign and pledge of the future

redemption; and that on this account it is we find in the

preceding prophecies the circumstances of the two captivities

intimately blended together. His words are the following: 'And,

therefore, the words or subjects in the foregoing prophecy are

very much intermixed; in one passage the redemption from the

Babylonish captivity being treated of, in another the redemption

from the general dispersion, as may be collected from the obvious

import of the words.' No fault can be found with the above remark,

except that the true and spiritual redemption procured by Jesus

the Messiah is not acknowledged."-L.

Verse 14. As many were astonished at thee-"As many were

astonished at him"] For aleicha read alaiv. So the

Syriac, Chaldee, and Vulgate in a MS.; and so likewise two ancient


His visage was so marred more than any man] Most interpreters

understand this of the indignities offered to our blessed Lord:

but Kimchi gives it another turn, and says, "It means the Jewish

people, whom are considered by most nations as having an

appearance different from all the people of the earth." Poor Jews!

they have in general a very disagreeable look, partly affected,

and partly through neglect of neatness and cleanliness. Most

Christians think they carry the impress of their reprobation on

every feature of their face. However this may be, it should never

be forgotten that the greatest men that ever flourished as kings,

judges, magistrates, lawgivers, heroes, and poets, were of Jewish

extraction. Isaiah was a Jew; so was Paul, and so was JESUS of


Verse 15. So shall he sprinkle many nations] I retain the common

rendering, though I am by no means satisfied with it. " yazzeh,

frequent in the law, means only to sprinkle: but the water

sprinkled is the accusative case; the thing on which has al or

el. θαυμασονταιο, makes the best apodosis.

yenahag would do. yinharu is used Isa 2:2;

Jer 31:12; Isa 51:14, but is unlike. 'Kings shall shut,'

&c., is good, but seems to want a first part."-SECKER. Munster

translates it, faciet loqui, (de se;) and in his note thus

explains it: yazzeh proprie significat spargere et stillas

disseminare; hic hero capitur pro loqui, et verbum disseminare.

" yazzeh properly signifies to sprinkle, and to scatter

about drops; but it here means to speak, and to disseminate the

word." This is pretty much as the Rabbins Kimchi and Sal. ben

Melec explain it, referring to the expression of "dropping the

word." But the same objection lies to this as to the common

rendering; it ought to be yazzeh (debar) al

goyim. Bishop Chandler, Defence, p. 148, says, "that to sprinkle

is used for to surprise and astonish, as people are that have much

water thrown upon them. And this sense is followed by the

Septuagint." This is ingenious, but rather too refined. Dr.

Durell conjectures that the true reading may be yechezu,

they shall regard, which comes near to the θαυμασονται of the

Septuagint, who seem to give the best sense of any to this


"I find in my papers the same conjecture which Dr. Durell made

from θαυμασονται in the Septuagint. And it may be added that

chazah is used to express 'looking on any thing with admiration,'

Ps 11:7; 17:15; 27:4; 63:2; So 6:13. It is particularly

applied to 'looking on God,' Ex 24:11, and Job 19:26.

Gisbert Cuper, in Observ. lib. ii. 1, though treating on another

subject, has some observations which show how nearly οραω and

θαυμαζω are allied, which, with the peculiar sense of the verb

chazah above noted, add to the probability of θαυμασονται

being the version of yechezu in the text: οιδενυλαοι

παντεςεςαυτονορωσι. Hesiod., id est. cum veneratione quadam

adminantur. Hinc οραω et θαυμαζω junxit Themistius Or.

i. ειταπαυσονταιοιανθρωποιπροςσεμονονορωνεςκαισεμονον

θαυμαζοντες Theophrastus in Charact. c. 3. ενθυμηωςαποβλεπουσιν

ειςσεοιανθρωποι Hence the rendering of this verse seems to be-

"So many nations shall look on him with admiration

Kings shall stop their mouths-" DR. JUBB.

Does not sprinkling the nations refer to the conversion and

baptism of the Gentiles? Many nations shall become proselytes to

his religion.

Kings shall shut their mouths at him] His Gospel shall so

prevail that all opposition shall be finally overcome; and kings

and potentates shall be overwhelmed with confusion, and become

speechless before the doctrines of his truth. When they hear these

declared they shall attentively consider them, and their

conviction of their truth shall be the consequence.

For that which had not been told them] The mystery of the Gospel

so long concealed. See Ro 15:21; 16:25.

Shall they see] With the eyes of their faith; God enlightening

both organ and object.

And that which they had not heard] The redemption of the world

by Jesus Christ; the conversion of the Gentiles, and making them

one flock with the converted Jews.-TRAPP

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