Isaiah 54:3
For you shall break forth on the right hand and on the left; and your seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.
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(3) On the right hand and on the left.—Comp. Genesis 28:14. Strictly speaking, the words indicate specially the north and the south, in relation to one who stands looking towards the East. Here, of course, they mean “on every side.” The words that follow have, like others, a lower or material and a higher or spiritual meaning.

54:1-5 Observe the low state of religion in the world, for a long time before Christianity was brought in. But by preaching the gospel, multitudes were converted from idols to the living God. This is matter of great rejoicing to the church. The bounds of the church were extended. Though its state on earth is but mean and movable, like a tent or tabernacle, it is sometimes a growing state, and must be enlarged as the family increases. But the more numerous the church grows, the more she must fortify herself against errors and corruptions. Thy Maker is thy Husband. Christ is the Holy One of Israel, the Mediator of the covenant made with the Old Testament church. Long he had been called the God of Israel; but now he shall be called the God of the whole earth. And he will cleanse from sin, and cause every true believer to rejoice in this sacred union. We never can enough admire this mercy, or duly value this privilege.For thou shalt break forth - (See the notes at Isaiah 49:19-20).

And make the desolate cities - (See the notes at Isaiah 44:26).

3. break forth—rather, "burst forth" with increase; thy offspring shall grow, answering to "thy seed" in the parallel clause.

thy seed—Israel and her children, as distinguished from "the Gentiles."

desolate cities—of Israel (Isa 44:26).

Thou shalt break forth; thou shalt bring forth a multitude of children; for this word is commonly used of any great and extraordinary propagation of living creatures, whether beasts or men, Genesis 30:30 Exodus 1:12.

On the right hand and on the left; on every side, in all the parts of the world.

Thy seed; either,

1. Thy spiritual seed, the church of the new testament, which is accounted Abraham’s seed, or children, Galatians 3:7-9,29. Or,

2. Thy natural seed, Christ and his apostles, and other ministers, who were Jews, by whom this work was first and most eminently done.

Shall inherit the Gentiles; shall subdue the Gentile world to the church, and to the obedience of the faith.

The desolate cities; those cities and countries which in a spiritual sense were desolate and forsaken by God. For thou shall break forth on the right hand and on the left,.... To the south, and to the north, as the Targum, like an inundation of water, that breaks through and overflows the banks of the river, and spreads itself in the adjacent countries; or like a warehouse overstocked with goods, bursts the walls in which they are pent up; or rather as infants break forth from the womb at the time of birth, as Pharez did, from whence he had his name, Genesis 38:29 see Hosea 13:13, or as, when a country is become exceeding numerous, the inhabitants break out, and go forth beyond their borders, and seek new settlements, the place of their abode being too small for them; so it shall be in the latter day, through the vast number of converts that will be made; see Isaiah 49:19,

and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles; where formerly only Heathens lived, there the Gospel of Christ shall be carried by his apostles and other ministers; and being succeeded to the conversion of many souls, through the power of divine grace accompanying it, a spiritual seed, the seed of the church, shall take place, and dwell there; this was true in the first ages of Christianity, more especially in Constantine's time; and will be more fully accomplished in the latter day, when the fulness of the Gentiles shall be brought in:

and make the desolate cities to be inhabited: such cities as were destitute of the knowledge of Christ and his salvation, and of all divine and spiritual things, shall now be inhabited by spiritual men, such as believe in Christ, and profess his name; such cities as Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Colosse, Philippi, Thessalonica, and many others.

For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.
3. The tent must be larger than of old, for the new community shall spread abroad (cf. Genesis 28:14; Genesis 30:30; Genesis 30:43) on the right hand and on the left, i.e. in all directions.

inherit the Gentiles] take possession of nations (cf. Genesis 22:17; Genesis 24:60). The reference is not to be limited to the heathen who had occupied the soil of Palestine; although the desolate cities in the parallel clause are no doubt primarily those of the holy land.Verse 3. - For thou shalt break forth; or, thou shalt increase (see Genesis 30:30, 43; Exodus 1:12). An overflow, like that of the bursting out of water, is pointed at. On the right hand and on the left; i.e. "on all sides" (comp. Genesis 28:14). Thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles. The Christian Church is viewed as a continuation of the Jewish Church; and the conversion of nation after nation to the gospel is regarded as the extension of Jewish dominion over fresh lands. The cities of these lands - desolate hitherto, i.e. without godly inhabitants - will under these circumstances come to be inhabited; i.e. will be peopled by faithful men. After this description in Isaiah 53:7 of the patience with which He suffered, and in Isaiah 53:8 of the manner in which He died, there follows a retrospective glance at His burial. "And they assigned Him His grave with sinners, and with a rich man in His martyrdom, because He had done no wrong, and there was no deceit in His mouth." The subject to ויּתּן (assigned) is not Jehovah, although this would not be impossible, since נגע has Jehovah as the latent subject; but it would be irreconcilable with Isaiah 53:10, where Jehovah is introduced as the subject with antithetical prominence. It would be better to assume that "my people" is the subject; but as this would make it appear as if the statement introduced in Isaiah 53:8 with kı̄ (for) were continued here, we seem compelled to refer it to dōrō (His generation), which occurs in the principal clause. No objection could be offered to our regarding "His own generation" as the subject; but dōrō is somewhat too far removed for this; and if the prophet had had the contemporaries of the sufferer in his mind, he would most likely have used a plural verb (vayyittenū). Some, therefore, supply a personal subject of the most general kind to yittēn (which occurs even with a neuter subject, like the German es gibt, Fr. il y a, Eng. "there is;" cf., Proverbs 13:10): "they (on) gave;" and looking at the history of the fulfilment, we confess that this is the rendering we prefer. In fact, without the commentary supplied by the fulfilment, it would be impossible to understand Isaiah 53:9 at all. The earlier translators did great violence to the text, and yet failed to bring out any admissible thought. And the explanation which is most generally adopted now, viz., that עשׁיר is the synonymous parallel to רשׁעי (as even Luther rendered it, "and died like a rich man," with the marginal gloss, "a rich man who sets all his heart upon riches, i.e., a wicked man"), is also untenable; for even granting that ‛âshīr could be proved by examples to be sometimes used as synonymous with רשׁע, as עני and אביון are as synonyms of צדּיק, this would be just the passage in which it would be least possible to sustain any such use of the word; since he who finds his grave with rich men, whether with the godly or the ungodly, would thereby have received a decent, and even honourable burial. This is so thoroughly sustained by experience, as to need no confirmation from such passages as Job 21:32. Hitzig has very good ground, therefore, for opposing this "synonymous" explanation; but when he adopts the rendering lapsator, after the Arabic ‛tūr, this is quite as much in opposition to Arabic usage (according to which this word merely signifies a person who falls into error, and makes a mistake in speaking), as it is to the Hebrew. Ewald changes עשׁיר into עשּׁהיק (a word which has no existence); and Bttcher alters it into רע עשׂי, which is comparatively the best suggestion of all. Hofmann connects the two words בּמותיו עשׁיר, "men who have become rich through the murders that they have treacherously caused" (though without being able to adduce any proof that mōth is ever applied to the death which one person inflicts upon another). At any rate, all these attempts spring from the indisputable assumption, that to be rich is not in itself a sin which deserves a dishonourable burial, to say nothing of its receiving one.

If, therefore, רשׁיעם and עשׁיר are not kindred ideas, they must be antithetical; but it is no easier to establish a purely ethical antithesis than an ethical coincidence. If, however, we take the word רשׁעים as suggesting the idea of persons found guilty, or criminals (an explanation which the juridical context of the passage well sustains; see at Isaiah 50:9), we get a contrast which our own usage of speech also draws between a rich man who is living in the enjoyment of his own possessions, and a delinquent who has become impoverished to the utmost, through hatred, condemnation, ruin. And if we reflect that the Jewish rulers would have given to Jesus the same dishonourable burial as to the two thieves, but that the Roman authorities handed over the body to Joseph the Arimathaean, a "rich man" (Matthew 27:57), who placed it in the sepulchre in his own garden, we see an agreement at once between the gospel history and the prophetic words, which could only be the work of the God of both the prophecy and its fulfilment, inasmuch as no suspicion could possibly arise of there having been any human design of bringing the former into conformity with the latter. But if it be objected, that according to the parallel the ‛âshı̄r must be regarded as dead, quite as much as the reshâ‛ı̄m, we admit the force of this objection, and should explain it in this way: "They assigned Him His grave with criminals, and after He had actually died a martyr's death, with a rich man;" i.e., He was to have lain where the bodies of criminals lie, but He was really laid in a grave that was intended for the corpse of a rich man.

(Note: A clairvoyant once said of the Lord: "Died like a criminal; buried like a prince of the earth" (vid., Psychol. pp. 262, 364).)

The rendering adopted by Vitringa and others, "and He was with a rich man in his death," is open to this objection, that such a clause, to be quite free from ambiguity, would require במויתו הוּא ואת־עשׁיר. Hengstenberg and Stier very properly refer both ויתן and קברו, which must be repeated in thought, to the second clause as well as the first. The rendering tumulum ejus must be rejected, since bâmâh never has this meaning; and בּמתיו, which is the pointing sustained by three Codd., would not be mausolea, but a lofty burial-hill, after the fashion of the Hnengrber (certain "giants' graves," or barrows, in Holstein and Saxony).

(Note: The usage of the language shows clearly that bâmâh had originally the meaning of "height" (e.g., 2 Samuel 1:19). The primary meaning suggested by Bttcher, of locus clausus, septus (from בום equals מהב, Arab. bhm), cannot be sustained. We still hold that בם is the expanded בא, and במה an ascent, steep place, or stair. In the Talmud, bâmâh is equivalent to βωμός, an altar, and בּימה (Syr. bim) equivalent to the βῆμα of the orator and judge; βωμός, root βα, like the Hebrew bâmâh, signifies literally an elevation, and actually occurs in the sense of a sepulchral hill, which this never has, not even in Ezekiel 43:7.)

מותי is a plur. exaggerativus here, as in Ezekiel 28:10 (compare memōthē in Ezekiel 28:8 and Jeremiah 16:4); it is applied to a violent death, the very pain of which makes it like dying again and again. The first clause states with whom they at first assigned Him His grave; the second with whom it was assigned Him, after He had really died a painful death. "Of course," as F. Philippi observes, "this was not a thorough compensation for the ignominy of having died the death of a criminal; but the honourable burial, granted to one who had been ignominiously put to death, showed that there must be something very remarkable about Him. It was the beginning of the glorification which commenced with His death." If we have correctly interpreted the second clause, there can be no doubt in our minds, since we cannot shake the word of God like a kaleidoscope, and multiply the sensus complex, as Stier does, that לא על ( equals לא על־אשׁר) does not mean "notwithstanding that not," as in Job 16:17, but "because not," like על־בּלי in Genesis 31:20. The reason why the Servant of God received such honourable treatment immediately after His ignominious martyrdom, was to be found in His freedom from sin, in the fact that He had done no wrong, and there was no deceit in His mouth (lxx and 1 Peter 2:22, where the clause is correctly rendered οὐδὲ εὑρέθη δόλος ἐν τῶ στόματι αὐτοῦ). His actions were invariably prompted by pure love, and His speech consisted of unclouded sincerity and truth.

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