Isaiah 51:17
Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which have drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of his fury; you have drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out.
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(17) Awake . . .—The words present a strange parallelism to Isaiah 51:9. There they were addressed to the arm of Jehovah, and were the prelude of a glorious promise. Here they are spoken to Jerusalem as a drunken and desperate castaway, and introduce a painfully vivid picture of her desolation. They seem, indeed, prefixed to that picture to make it bearable. They are a call to Zion to wake out of that drunken sleep, and therefore show that her ruin is not irretrievable.

The dregs of the cup.—Literally, the goblet cup, but with the sense, as in the Authorised version, of the cup being drained.

Isaiah 51:17. Awake, awake — God having awoke and arisen for the comfort of his people, here calls on them to awake, as afterward, Isaiah 52:1. This is a call to awake, not so much out of the sleep of sin though that also was necessary, in order to their being ready for deliverance, as out of the stupor of despondency and despair. Hebrew, התעוררי, rouse up thyself; come out of that forlorn and disconsolate condition in which thou hast so long been. When the Jews were in captivity they were so overwhelmed with the sense of their troubles that they had no heart left to mind any thing that tended to their comfort or relief; and therefore when the deliverance came, they are said (Psalm 126:1) to be like them that dream. The address may be applied to the Jerusalem, or Jewish Church, which was in the apostles’ time, which is said to be in bondage with her children, (Galatians 4:25,) and to have been under the power of a spirit of slumber, Romans 11:8. They are called to awake and mind the things that belonged to their everlasting peace, and then the cup of trembling should be taken out of their hands, peace should be spoken to them, and they should triumph over Satan, who had blinded their eyes, and brought stupor insensibly upon them. Stand up — Upon thy feet, O thou who hast been thrown to the ground. Who hast drunk, &c., the cup of his fury — Who hast been sorely afflicted; the dregs of the cup of trembling — Which strikes him that drinks it with a deadly horror; and wrung them out — Drunk every drop of it.51:17-23 God calls upon his people to mind the things that belong to their everlasting peace. Jerusalem had provoked God, and was made to taste the bitter fruits. Those who should have been her comforters, were their own tormentors. They have no patience by which to keep possesion of their own souls, nor any confidence in God's promise, by which to keep possession of its comfort. Thou art drunken, not as formerly, with the intoxicating cup of Babylon's idolatries, but with the cup of affliction. Know, then, the cause of God's people may for a time seem as lost, but God will protect it, by convincing the conscience, or confounding the projects, of those that strive against it. The oppressors required souls to be subjected to them, that every man should believe and worship as they would have them. But all they could gain by violence was, that people were brought to outward hypocritical conformity, for consciences cannot be forced.Awake, awake - (See the notes at Isaiah 51:9). This verse commences an address to Jerusalem under a new figure or image. The figure employed is that of a man who has been overcome by the cup of the wrath of Yahweh, that had produced the same effect as inebriation. Jerusalem had reeled and fallen prostrate. There had been none to sustain her, and she had sunk to the dust. Calamities of the most appalling kind had come upon her, and she is now called on to arouse from this condition, and to recover her former splendor and power.

Which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord - The wrath of Yahweh is not unfrequently compared to a cup producing intoxication. The reason is, that it produces a similar effect. It prostrates the strength, and makes the subject of it reel, stagger, and fall. In like manner, all calamities are represented under the image of a cup that is drunk, producing a prostrating effect on the frame. Thus the Saviour says, 'The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?' (John 18:11; compare Matthew 20:22-23; Matthew 26:39, Matthew 26:42). The effects of drinking the cup of God's displeasure are often beautifully set forth. Thus, in Psalm 75:8 :

In the hand of Jehovah there is a cup, and the wine is red;

It is full of a mixed liquor, and he poureth out of the same,

Verily the dregs thereof all the ungodly of the earth shall wring them out and drink them.

Plato, as referred to by Lowth, has an idea resembling this. 'Suppose,' says he, 'God had given to men a medicating potion inducing fear; so that the more anyone should drink of it, so much the more miserable he should find himself at every draught, and become fearful of everything present and future; and at last, though the most courageous of people, should become totally possessed by fear; and afterward, having slept off the effects of it, should become himself again.' A similar image is used by Homer (Iliad, xvi. 527ff), where he places two vessels at the threshold of Jupiter, one of good, the other of evil. He gives to some a mixed potion of each; to others from the evil vessel only, and these are completely miserable:

Two urns by Jove's high throne have ever stood

The source of evil one, and one of good;

From thence the cup of mortal man he fills,

Blessings to these; to those distributes ills.

To most he mingles both: The wretch decreed

To taste the bad unmix'd, is curs'd indeed;

Pursued by wrongs, by meagre famine driven,

He wanders, outcast by both earth and heaven:


17. Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, &c.—(Isa 52:1).

drunk—Jehovah's wrath is compared to an intoxicating draught because it confounds the sufferer under it, and makes him fall (Job 21:20; Ps 60:3; 75:8; Jer 25:15, 16; 49:12; Zec 12:2; Re 14:10); ("poured out without mixture"; rather, "the pure wine juice mixed with intoxicating drugs").

of trembling—which produced trembling or intoxication.

wrung … out—drained the last drop out; the dregs were the sediments from various substances, as honey, dates, and drugs, put into the wine to increase the strength and sweetness.

Awake; either,

1. Out of the sleep of security. Or,

2. Out of the sleep of death. Heb. Rouse up thyself; come out of that forlorn and disconsolate condition in which thou hast so long been. This sense suits best with the following words. Stand up upon thy feet, O thou who hast fallen, and been thrown down to the ground.

Which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury; which hast been sorely afflicted; for so this metaphor is used. Psalm 75:8 Jeremiah 25:15, &c.; Jeremiah 49:12.

The cup of trembling; which striketh him that drinketh it with a deadly horror.

Wrung them out; drunk every drop of, it. See Poole "Psalm 75:8". Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem,.... As persons out of a sleep, or out of a stupor, or even out of the sleep of death; for this respects a more glorious state of the church, the Jerusalem, the mother of us all, after great afflictions; and especially if it respects the more glorious state of all on earth, signified by the New Jerusalem, that will be preceded by the resurrection of the dead, called the first resurrection, when the saints will awake out of the dust of the earth, and stand upon their feet; see Daniel 12:2, though the last glorious state of the church, in the spiritual reign of Christ, is also expressed by the rising of the witnesses slain, by their standing on their feet, and by their ascension to heaven, Revelation 11:11, before which will be a time of great affliction to the church, as here:

which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury; it is no unusual thing in Scripture for the judgments of God, upon a nation and people, or on particular persons, to be signified by a cup, and especially on wicked men, as the effect of divine wrath, Psalm 11:6. Here it signifies that judgment that begins at the house and church of God, 1 Peter 4:17, which looks as if it arose from the wrath and fury of an incensed God: and though it may greatly intend the wrathful persecutions of men, yet since they are by the permission and will of God, and are bounded and limited by him, they are called "his cup", and said to come from his hand; and the people of God take them, or consider them as coming by his appointment:

thou hast drunk the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out; alluding to excessive drinking, which brings a trembling of limbs, and sometimes paralytic disorders on men, and to the thick sediments in the bottom of the cup, which are fixed there, as the word (u) signifies, and are not easily got out, and yet every drop and every dreg are drunk up; signifying, that the whole portion of sufferings, allotted to the Lord's people, shall come upon them, even what are most disagreeable to them, and shall fill them with trembling and astonishment.

(u) "crassamentum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Vitringa.

Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drank at the hand of the LORD the {p} cup of his fury; thou hast drank the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out.

(p) You have been justly punished and sufficiently as Isa 40:2 and this punishment in the elect is by measure, and according as God gives grace to hear it: but in the reprobate it is the just vengeance of God to drive them to an insensibleness and madness, as Jer 25:15,16.

17–20. The description of Jerusalem’s degradation. The rhythm is that of the qínah, and the resemblances to the book of Lamentations are so striking that Ewald has conjectured that the passage is taken from one of the elegies composed during the Exile.

Awake] Better Arouse thee (Cheyne); the verb being a reflexive as distinct from the simple “Awake” of Isaiah 52:1 (and Isaiah 51:9).

which hast drunk … the cup of his fury] The image of the cup of the Divine wrath originated in Jeremiah’s great vision of judgement (ch. Jeremiah 25:15 ff.), where the prophet hands the cup to all nations, beginning with Jerusalem. Cf. also Jeremiah 49:12; Habakkuk 2:16; Ezekiel 23:31-34; Lamentations 4:21; Obadiah 1:16; Revelation 14:10.

the dregs of the cup of trembling] R.V. the bowl of the cup of staggering. “Dregs” is a mistaken Jewish rendering of a word (qubba‘ath), found only here and in Isaiah 51:22. It means undoubtedly a “bowl” or “chalice,” and the pleonasm “bowl of the cup” has probably arisen through the common word for cup being added as an explanatory gloss.

of trembling] of intoxication. Psalm 60:3 (A.V. “wine of astonishment”).

and wrung them out] drained (cf. Ezekiel 23:34)—an asyndetic construction in the Hebr.—“hast drunk, hast drained,” i.e. “hast drunk to the dregs.” The whole clause reads:—

Thou who hast drunk from Jehovah’s hand—the cup of His wrath, The chalice of intoxication—hast thou drunk to the dregs.

Ch. Isaiah 51:17 to Isaiah 52:12. The Lord will turn the Captivity of Zion

The three oracles into which this passage naturally falls are these:—(1) Isaiah 51:17-23. The prophet, returning to the thought with which the book opens (ch. Isaiah 40:2), announces that the period of Jerusalem’s degradation has expired. The city is figured as a woman lying prostrate and senseless, intoxicated with the cup of the Lord’s indignation which she has drunk to the dregs, her sons unable to help her (17–20). But the cup is now taken from her and passed to the enemies who had oppressed and insulted her (21–23).

-2Isaiah 52:1-6. In a new apostrophe, the image is carried on; let Zion lay aside her soiled raiment, and the emblems of her slavery, and put on her holiday attire (1, 2). Jehovah will no longer endure that His name should be blasphemed through the banishment of His people (3–6).

(3) Isaiah 51:7-12. A description of the triumphal return of Jehovah to Zion, obviously based on the last section of the Prologue (ch. Isaiah 40:9-11). The writer pictures the scene of joy within the city when the heralds of the King arrive (7, 8); he calls on the waste places of Jerusalem to break forth into singing (9, 10); and finally, turning to the exiles (as in Isaiah 48:20 f.) he summons them to hasten their escape from the land of their captivity (11, 12).Verses 17-23. - AN ADDRESS OF THE PROPHET TO JERUSALEM. The comfort afforded to Israel generally is now concentrated on Jerusalem. Her condition during the long period of the Captivity is deplored, and her want of a champion to assert her cause and raise her out of the dust is lamented (vers. 17-20). After this, an assurance is given her that the miseries which she has suffered shall pass from her to her great enemy, by whom the dregs of the "cup of trembling" shall be drained, and the last drop wrung out (vers. 21-23). Verse 17. - Awake, awake (comp. ver. 9 and Isaiah 52:1). Isaiah marks the breaks in his prophecy, sometimes by a repetition of terminal clauses, which have the effect of a refrain (Isaiah 5:25; Isaiah 9:12, 17, 21; Isaiah 10:4; and Isaiah 48:22; 57:21); sometimes by a repetition of initial clauses of a striking character (Isaiah 5:8, 11, 20; Isaiah 13:1; Isaiah 15:1; Isaiah 17:1; Isaiah 19:1; Isaiah 21:1, 11; Isaiah 22:1; Isaiah 23:1; Isaiah 28:1; Isaiah 29:1; Isaiah 30:1; Isaiah 31:1; Isaiah 33:1; Isaiah 48:1, 12, 16; Isaiah 50:4, 7, 9, etc.). Here we have thrice over "Awake, awake" - not, however, an exact repetition in the Hebrew, but a near approach to it each summons forming the commencement of a new paragraph or subsection. Which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury. The cup of God's fury was poured out on Jerusalem when the city was taken by Nebuchadnezzar, the temple, the royal palace, and the houses of the nobles burnt (2 Kings 25:9), the walls broken down (2 Kings 25:10), and the bulk of the inhabitants carried away captive to Babylon (2 Kings 25:11; comp. 2 Chronicles 34:25; Jeremiah 42:18; Jeremiah 44:6; Ezekiel 22:31, etc.). "The cup of God's fury" is an expression used by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:15). The dregs of the cup; rather, perhaps, the goblet-cup (Cheyne), or the out-swollen cup. It is the fulness of the measure of Jerusalem's punishment, not its character, which is pointed at. But just as such an exhortation as this followed very naturally from the grand promises with which they prophecy commenced, so does a longing for the promised salvation spring out of this exhortation, together with the assurance of its eventual realization. "Awake, awake, clothe thyself in might, O arm of Jehovah; awake, as in the days of ancient time, the ages of the olden world! Was it not thou that didst split Rahab in pieces, and pierced the dragon? Was it not thou that didst dry up the sea, the waters of the great billow; that didst turn the depths of the sea into a way for redeemed to pass through? Ad the emancipated of Jehovah will return, and come to Zion with shouting, and everlasting joy upon their head: they grasp at gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing flee away." The paradisaical restoration of Zion, the new world of righteousness and salvation, is a work of the arm of Jehovah, i.e., of the manifestation of His might. His arm is now in a sleeping state. It is not lifeless, indeed, but motionless. Therefore the church calls out to it three times, "Awake" (‛ūrı̄: to avoid monotony, the milra and milel tones are interchanged, as in Judges 5:12).

(Note: See Norzi and Luzzatto's Grammatica della Lingua Ebr. 513.)

It is to arise and put on strength out of the fulness of omnipotence (lâbhēsh as in Psalm 93:1; cf., λαμβάνειν δύναμιν Revelation 11:17, and δύσεο ἀλκήν, arm thyself with strength, in Il. 19:36; 9:231). The arm of Jehovah is able to accomplish what the prophecy affirms and the church hopes for; since it has already miraculously redeemed Israel once. Rahabh is Egypt represented as a monster of the waters (see Isaiah 30:7), and tannı̄n is the same (cf., Isaiah 27:1), but with particular reference to Pharaoh (Ezekiel 29:3). אתּ־היא, tu illud, is equivalent to "thou, yea thou" (see at Isaiah 37:16). The Red Sea is described as the "waters of the great deep" (tehōm rabbâh), because the great storehouse of waters that lie below the solid ground were partially manifested there. השּׂמה has double pashta; it is therefore milel, and therefore the third pr. equals שׂמה אשׁר (Ges. 109, Anf.). Isaiah 35:10 is repeated in Isaiah 51:11, being attached to גּאוּלים of the previous verse, jut as it is there. Instead of נסוּ ישּׂיגוּן, which we find here, we have there ונסוּ ישּׂיגוּ; in everything else the two passages are word for word the same. Hitzig, Ewald, and Knobel suppose that Isaiah 51:11 was not written by the author of these addresses, but was interpolated by some one else. But in Isaiah 65:25 we meet with just the same kind of repetition from chapters 1-39; and in the first part we find, at any rate, repetitions in the form of refrains and others of a smaller kind (like Isaiah 19:15, cf., Isaiah 9:13). And Isaiah 51:11 forms a conclusion here, just as it does in Isaiah 35:10. An argument is founded upon the olden time with reference to the things to be expected now; the look into the future is cleared and strengthened by the look into the past. And thus will the emancipated of Jehovah return, being liberated from the present calamity as they were delivered from the Egyptian then. The first half of this prophecy is here brought to a close. It concludes with expressions of longing and of hope, the echo of promises that had gone before.

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