For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.
Verses 1-12. - FURTHER GRACIOUS PROMISES MADE TO ISRAEL BY "THE SERVANT." Some regard the speaker in this chapter as Jehovah; some as the prophet, or the prophetical order; some as "the Servant." The last supposition appears to us the simplest and the best. The close connection with the preceding chapter is evident. If that then be, in the main, "a soliloquy of the Servant," this should he a continuation of the soliloquy. Israel is promised "righteousness," "glory," "a new name," a guard of angels, a time of peace and prosperity, deliverance from Babylon, and triumphant establishment in Zion under God's protection. Verse 1. - For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace. In the past God has kept silence (Isaiah 42:14; Isaiah 57:11). "The Servant" has not caused his voice to be heard. Babylon has been allowed to continue her oppression unchecked. But now there will be a change. God will lift up his voice, and the nations will hear; and the "salvation" of Israel will be effected speedily. For Jerusalem's sake. "Zion" and "Jerusalem" are used throughout as synonyms (Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 4:3, 4; Isaiah 31:4, 5, and 9; 33:20; 40:9; 41:27; 52:1; 64:10, etc.), like "Israel" and Jacob." Strictly speaking, "Zion" is the mountain, "Jerusalem" the city built upon it. Until the righteousness thereof go forth (comp. Isaiah 54:17; Isaiah 61:10, 11). As brightness; or, as the dawn (comp Isaiah 60:3; Proverbs 4:18; Daniel 6:19). Salvation... as a lamp that burneth; rather, as a torch that blazeth (comp. Judges 15:4; Nahum 2:14; Zechariah 12:6). Israel's "salvation" would be made manifest; primarily by her triumphant return from Babylon, and more completely by her position in the final kingdom of the Redeemer.
And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.
Verse 2. - The Gentiles shall see, etc. A continuation of the account of Israel's final glory, as given in Isaiah 61:6-9. What the Gentiles are especially to see and admire is Israel's righteousness. This may point to those acknowledgments of the purity and excellence of the early Church which were made by the heathen (Plin., 'Epist.,' 10:97), and which culminated in the saying, "See how these Christians love one another!" The sceptic Gibbon acknowledges, among the causes of the success of Christianity, "the virtues of the early Christians." All kings (comp. Isaiah 49:7, 23; Isaiah 60:3; Psalm 50:22:11). Thou shalt be called by a new name (comp. vers. 4 and 12; and see also Isaiah 65:15). It is not altogether clear what the "new name" is, since in the remainder of the present chapter more than one name is suggested. Rosenmuller supposes" Hephzibah" to be meant. Dr. Kay suggests "the holy people," and notes that the title of "holy ones," or "saints," is given by St. Paul to all Christians (Acts 26:10; Romans 1:7; Romans 16:15; 1 Corinthians 1:2, etc.). Mr. Cheyne thinks that it is some unknown title of honour, akin to that mentioned by Jeremiah "Jehovah our Righteousness" (Jeremiah 33:16). "New names" will be given to individual saints in the heavenly kingdom (Revelation 2:17; Revelation 3:12).
Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.
Verse 3. - Thou shalt also be a crown of glory, etc. God will exhibit Israel to an admiring world, as a man might exhibit a "crown" or "diadem" which he held in his hand. They will look on with admiration and reverence - "for they shall perceive that it is his work" (Psalm 64:9).
Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.
Verse 4. - Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken. Judah had believed herself" forsaken" of God (Isaiah 49:14), and had actually been, in a certain sense, forsaken "for a small moment" (Isaiah 54:7). Her enemies, it would seem, had gone so far as to give her the name in derision. Neither shall thy land ... be termed Desolate. Judaea had not only been desolated by the Babylonian invaders under Nebucbarlnezzar, but had remained "desolate" during the whole period of the Captivity (Isaiah 32:13, 14; Isaiah 49:19, etc.). It had come to be spoken of as Sh'marnah, "a desolation" (see Jeremiah 34:22; Jeremiah 44:2, 6; Ezekiel 33:29; Ezekiel 36:34). Now all should be altered. As Ezekiel prophesied, "The land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced and are inhabited" (Ezekiel 36:35). Thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah; i.e. "my delight is in her." Hephzi-bah was the name of Hezekiah's queen, Manasseh's mother (2 Kings 21:1). And thy land Beulah. Beulah, or rather Be'ulah, means "married" (comp. Isaiah 54:1). Judaea would be "married" to her sons, or her people, when they quitted Babylon and once more took possession of her. The Hebrew verb toe "to marry" (as a man marries) means literally "to be lord over."
For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.
Verse 5. - As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride. There is a double employment of the analogy with marriage here. The land, Judaea, personified as a female, is married to her sons, or her people, regarded (in this connection) as a male. The people, regarded as a female ("the virgin daughter of Zion," Isaiah 37:22) is also married to Jehovah, and recognizes him as her Bridegroom (Comp. Isaiah 54:5). As Bridegroom, God calls his bride "Hephzi-bah" - "my delight is in her."
I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence,
Verse 6. - I have set watchmen upon thy walls. "The Servant" has appointed watchers upon the walls of Zion - either "prophets" (Delitzsch), or "priests and prophets" (Kay), or, more probably, "angelic beings" (Cheyne), who keep perpetual watch and ward (Comp. Isaiah 52:8). Neither day nor night do they hold their peace, or keep silence, but ever intercede with God for his people, like the "angel of Jehovah" in Zechariah 1:12, reminding him of his covenant with them, and his promises to them, and exhorting him to "awake, awake" for his own honour's sake (Isaiah 51:9-11). It is generally allowed that the "watchers" in Daniel 4:13, 17, 23 are angels; and the same interpretation best suits the "watchmen" of the present passage. Ye that make mention of the Lord; rather, as in the margin, ye that are the Lord's remembrancers; i.e. "ye whose business it is to call to God's remembrance the needs and claims of his people, and the obligations of his covenant promises."
And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
Verse 7. - Give him no rest. Compare the teaching of our Lord with respect to the efficacy of importunity (Luke 11:5-8; Luke 18:1-8).
The LORD hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength, Surely I will no more give thy corn to be meat for thine enemies; and the sons of the stranger shall not drink thy wine, for the which thou hast laboured:
Verse 8. - The Lord hath sworn. In answer to the representations of the "remembrancers," God solemnly binds himself by an oath to come to the relief of the people, to restore them to their own land, and to give them the enjoyment of its fruits in peace. By his right hand. God commonly swears "by himself" (Genesis 22:16; Isaiah 45:23; Jeremiah 49:13; Jeremiah 51:14; Amos 6:5), or "by his holiness" (Psalm 89:35; Amos 4:2). Once he swears "by his great Name" (Jeremiah 44:26), and once "by the excellency of Jacob" (Amos 8:7). There is no other place in Scripture where he swears "by his right hand and arm" - emblems of his power to act. Thy corn... thy wine; i.e. the fruits of thy land. Hitherto, even when Israel was in possession of Palestine, its fruits were constantly destroyed, or carried off, by the raids of hostile neighbours. Henceforth this plundering should cease.
But they that have gathered it shall eat it, and praise the LORD; and they that have brought it together shall drink it in the courts of my holiness.
Verse 9. - Shall drink it in the courts of my holiness. This is not to be understood literally, at any rate, of the whole produce of the laud. What is meant is, that the produce will be consecrated by such festal means as the Law enjoined (Deuteronomy 14:22-27), and that then the remainder will be consumed with due thanks and acknowledgments.
Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people.
Verse 10. - Go through, go through the gates. The speaker returns to the period of the exile, and exhorts the people to pass forth from Babylon, and speed on their way homewards (comp. Isaiah 48:20; Isaiah 52:11). Some of them are to clear away obstacles, others are to bring materials and construct a highway along which the stream of emigrants may march (comp. Isaiah 57:14), while a third body removes such stones as might cause stumbling, and a fourth lifts up a standard to direct the march.
Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
Verse 11. - Meanwhile Jehovah, by his angels or his prophets, causes it to be made known to the ends of the earth that the redemption of Israel draws nigh, and that Zion's" salvation" approaches. His reward is with him, etc. The words are repeated from Isaiah 40:10. Here they are certainly said of Israel. They go forth from Babylon, having their reward with them - i.e. liberty, honour, riches to some extent (Ezra 1:4-11), and their work, or rather their recompense - the possession of Palestine - before them.
And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the LORD: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.
Verse 12. - They shall call them; or, men shall call them, equivalent to "they shall be called." The holy people. The Persians in some degree recognized this character in the Israelites (Ezra 1:2, 3; Ezra 6:8-12: 7:12-26). So did Alexander, according to Josephus. The Romans, on the contrary, regarded them as the votaries of a degrading superstition. Since the Roman conquest, they have been almost universally despised. Perhaps the prophecy may be considered to still await its complete fulfilment. Thou shalt be called. "Thou" refers to Zion or Jerusalem. She should be called Sought out - i.e. a special object of God's care - and A city not for-saken - the very opposite of her former name (ver. 4), which was "Forsaken." All the conditions of her former existence would be altered, nay, reversed, in the future.