Isaiah 61


The subject of the preceding chapter is continued in this; and

to give it the greater solemnity, the Messiah is introduced

describing his character and office, and confirming the large

promises made before, 1-9.

In consequence of this the Jewish Church is introduced,

praising God for the honour done her by her restoration to

favour, and by to accession of the Gentiles, which is

beautifully described by allusions to the rich pontifical dress

of the high priest; a happy similitude to express the ornaments

of a restored nation and of a renewed mind, 10.

Certainty of the prophecy illustrated by a figure drawn from

the vegetable kingdom, 11.


Verse 1. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me-"The Spirit of

JEHOVAH is upon me"] The Septuagint, Vulgate, and St. Luke,

(Lu 4:18,) and a MS., and two old editions omit the word

Adonai, the Lord; which was probably added to the text through the

superstition of the Jews, to prevent the pronunciation of the word

Jehovah following. See Kennicott on the state of the

printed Hebrew text, vol. i., p. 610.

In most of Isaiah's prophecies there is a primary and secondary

sense, or a remote subject illustrated by one that is near. The

deliverance of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon is

constantly used to shadow forth the salvation of men by Jesus

Christ. Even the prophet himself is a typical person, and is

sometimes intended to represent the great Saviour. It is evident

from Lu 4:18 that this is a prophecy of our blessed Lord and his

preaching; and yet it is as evident that it primarily refers to

Isaiah preaching the glad tidings of deliverance to the Jews.

The opening of the prison-"Perfect liberty"] pekach

koach. Ten MSS. of Kennicott's, several of De Rossi's, and one of

my own, with the Complutensian, have pekachkoach in one

word; and so the Septuagint and Vulgate appear to have taken it:

not merely opening of prisons, but every kind of liberty-complete


The proclaiming of perfect liberty to the bound, and the year of

acceptance with JEHOVAH. is a manifest allusion to the proclaiming

of the year of jubilee by sound of trumpet. See Le 25:9, &c. This

was a year of general release of debts and obligations, of bondmen

and bondwomen, of lands and possessions which had been sold from

the families and tribes to which they belonged. Our Saviour, by

applying this text to himself, (Lu 4:18, 19,) a text so

manifestly relating to the institution above mentioned, plainly

declares the typical design of that institution.

Verse 3. To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion-"To impart

gladness to the mourners of Zion"] A word necessary to the

sense is certainly lost in this place, of which the ancient

Versions have preserved no traces. Houbigant, by conjecture,

inserts the word sason, gladness, taken from the line next

but one below, where it stands opposed to ebel, sorrow or

mourning, as the word lost here was to abeley, mourners:

I follow him.-L.

Beauty for ashes-"A beautiful crown instead of ashes"] In times

of mourning the Jews put on sackcloth, or coarse and sordid

raiment, and spread dust and ashes on their heads; on the

contrary, splendid clothing and ointment poured on the head were

the signs of joy. "Feign thyself to be a mourner," says Joab to

the woman of Tekoah, "and put on now mourning apparel, and anoint

not thyself with oil," 2Sa 14:2. These customs are at large

expressed in the Book of Judith: "She pulled off the sackcloth

which she had on, and put off the garments of her widowhood, and

washed her body all over with water and anointed herself with

precious ointment, and braided the hair of her head, and put on a

tire [mitre, marg.] upon it; and put on her garments of gladness;"

Judith 10:3.-L.

peer tachath ephar, glory for ashes; a paronomasia

which the prophet often uses: a chaplet, crown, or other ornament

of the head (for so the Vulgate renders the word here and in the

both verse; in which last place the Septuagint agree in the same

rendering,) instead of dust and ashes, which before covered it;

and the costly ointments used on occasions of festivity, instead

of the ensigns of sorrow.-L.

Trees of righteousness-"Trees approved"] Heb. oaks of

righteousness or truth; that is, such as by their flourishing

condition should show that they were indeed "the scion of God's

planting, and the work of his hands;" under which images, in the

preceding chapter, Isa 60:21, the true servants of God, in a

highly improved state of the Church, were represented; that is,

says Vitringa on that place, "commendable for the strength of

their faith, their durability, and firmness."

Verse 4. "And they that spring from thee"] A word is lost here

likewise. After ubanu, "they shall build," add

mimmecha, they that spring from thee. Four MSS. have it so,

(two of them ancient,) and one of mine has it in the margin, and

it is confirmed by Isa 58:12, where the sentence is the very

same, this word being here added. Kimchi makes the same remark:

"the word mimmecha is omitted here; but is found in

Isa 58:12."

The desolations of many generations] It seems that these words

cannot refer to the Jews in the Babylonish captivity, for they

were not there many generations; but it may refer to their

dispersions and state of ruin since the advent of our Lord; and

consequently this may be a promise of the restoration of the

Jewish people.

Verse 5. Strangers shall-feed your flocks] Gentiles shall first

preach to you the salvation of Christ, and feed with Divine

knowledge the Jewish congregations.

Verse 7. For your shame-"Instead of your shame"] The translation

of this verse, which is very confused, and probably corrupted in

the Hebrew, is taken from the Syriac Version; except that the

latter has not expressed the word mishneh, double, in the

first place. Five MSS. add the conjunction vau to

simchath. The Syriac reads taronnu, and

tirashu, in the second person, "ye shall rejoice, ye shall

inherit." And for lahem, to them, two MSS., (one of them

ancient,) three of De Rossi's, and the Syriac, read lachem,

to you, in the second person likewise.

The Version of the Septuagint is imperfect in this place; the

first half of the verse is entirely omitted in all the printed

copies. It is supplied by MSS. Pachom. and I. D. II. in the

following manner:-




"Instead of your shame ye shall have double,

And instead of your confusion their portion shall rejoice;

Therefore, they shall possess their land a second time."

In which the two MSS. agree, except that I. D. II. has by mistake

ημερας, day, for ημερις, the part. And Cod. Marchal.,

in the margin, has pretty nearly the same supplement as from


Verse 8. I hate robbery for burnt-offering-"Who hate rapine and

iniquity"] The Syriac, and Chaldee prefix the conjunction

vau, instead of the preposition beth, to olah,

which they render iniquity or oppression; and so the Septuagint,

αδικιας. The difference lies in the punctuation; beolah,

in a burnt-offering beavelah, in iniquity. The

letters are the same in both words. Five of De Rossi's MSS.

confirm this reading.

Verse 9. Their seed shall be known among the Gentiles] Both Jews

and Gentiles are to make but one fold under one shepherd, Christ

Jesus. But still, notwithstanding this, they may retain their

peculiarity and national distinction; so that though they are

known to be Christians, yet they shall appear to be converted

Jews. After their conversion to Christianity this will necessarily

be the case for a long time. Strange nations are not so speedily

amalgamated, as to lose their peculiar cast of features, and other

national distinctions.

Verse 10. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord] These may be the

words of the Jews now converted, and brought into the Church of

Christ, and with the Gentiles made fellow heirs of the blessings

of the new covenant.

As a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments-"As the

bridegroom decketh himself with a priestly crown"] An allusion to

the magnificent dress of the high priest, when performing his

functions; and particularly to the mitre, and crown or plate of

gold on the front of it, Ex 29:6. The bonnet or mitre of the

priests also was made, as Moses expresses it, "for glory and for

beauty," Ex 28:40. It is difficult to give its full force to the

prophet's metaphor in another language. The version of Aquila and

Symmachus comes nearest to it: ωςνυμφιονιερατευομενονστεφανω

"as a bridegroom decked with a priestly crown."-L.

Verse 11. The Lord God-"The Lord JEHOVAH"] " Adonai, the

Lord, makes the line longer than the preceding and following; and

the Septuagint, Alexandrian, (and MSS. Pachom. and I. D. II.,) and

Arabic, do not so render it. Hence it seems to be

interpolated."-Dr. JUBB. Three MSS. have it not. See on Isa 61:1

of this chapter. Both words Adonai Jehovah, are wanting

in one of my MSS.; but are supplied in the margin by a later hand.

Copyright information for Clarke