Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament
The words of Jehovah Himself pass over here into the words of another, whom He has appointed as the Mediator of His gracious counsel. “The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is over me, because Jehovah hath anointed me, to bring glad tidings to sufferers, hath sent me to bind up broken-hearted ones, to proclaim liberty to those led captive, and emancipation to the fettered; to proclaim a year of grace from Jehovah, and a day of vengeance from our God; to comfort all that mourn; to put upon the mourners of Zion, to give them a head-dress for ashes, oil of joy for mourning, a wrapper of renown for an expiring spirit, that they may be called terebinths of righteousness, a planting of Jehovah for glorification.” Who is the person speaking here? The Targum introduces the passage with נביּא אמר. Nearly all the modern commentators support this view. Even the closing remarks to Drechsler (iii. 381) express the opinion, that the prophet who exhibited to the church the summit of its glory in chapter 60, an evangelist of the rising from on high, an apocalyptist who sketches the painting which the New Testament apocalyptist is to carry out in detail, is here looking up to Jehovah with a grateful eye, and praising Him with joyful heart for his exalted commission. But this view, when looked at more closely, cannot possibly be sustained. It is open to the following objections: (1.) The prophet never speaks of himself as a prophet at any such length as this; on the contrary, with the exception of the closing words of Isaiah 57:21, “saith my God,” he has always most studiously let his own person fall back into the shade. (2.) Wherever any other than Jehovah is represented as speaking, and as referring to his own calling, or his experience in connection with that calling, as in Isaiah 49:1., Isaiah 50:4., it is the very same “servant of Jehovah” of whom and to whom Jehovah speaks in Isaiah 42:1., Isaiah 52:13-53:12, and therefore not the prophet himself, but He who had been appointed to be the Mediator of a new covenant, the light of the Gentiles, the salvation of Jehovah for the whole world, and who would reach this glorious height, to which He had been called, through self-abasement even to death. (3.) All that the person speaking here says of himself is to be found in the picture of the unequalled “Servant of Jehovah,” who is highly exalted above the prophet. He is endowed with the Spirit of Jehovah (Isaiah 42:1); Jehovah has sent Him, and with Him His Spirit (Isaiah 48:16 ); He has a tongue taught of God, to help the exhausted with words (Isaiah 50:4); He spares and rescues those who are almost despairing and destroyed, the bruised reed and expiring wick (Isaiah 42:7). “To open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house:” this is what He has chiefly to do for His people, both in word and deed (Isaiah 42:7; Isaiah 49:9). (4.) We can hardly expect that, after the prophet has described the Servant of Jehovah, of whom He prophesied, as coming forward to speak with such dramatic directness as in Isaiah 49:1., Isaiah 50:4. (and even Isaiah 48:16 ), he will now proceed to put himself in the foreground, and ascribe to himself those very same official attributes which he has already set forth as characteristic features in his portrait of the predicted One. For these reasons we have no doubt that we have here the words of the Servant of Jehovah. The glory of Jerusalem is depicted in chapter 60 in the direct words of Jehovah Himself, which are well sustained throughout. And now, just as in Isaiah 48:16 , though still more elaborately, we have by their side the words of His servant, who is the mediator of this glory, and who above all others is the pioneer thereof in his evangelical predictions. Just as Jehovah says of him in Isaiah 42:1, “I have put my Spirit upon him;” so here he says of himself, “The Spirit of Jehovah is upon me.” And when he continues to explain this still further by saying, “because” (יען from ענה, intention, purpose; here equivalent to אשׁר יען) “Jehovah hath anointed me” ((mâs) ('ōthı̄), more emphatic than (meshâchanı̄)), notwithstanding the fact that (mâshach) is used here in the sense of prophetic and not regal anointing (1 Kings 19:16), we may find in the choice of this particular word a hint at the fact, that the Servant of Jehovah and the Messiah are one and the same person. So also the account given in Luke 4:16-22 viz. that when Jesus was in the synagogue at Nazareth, after reading the opening words of this address, He closed the book with these words, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” - cannot be interpreted more simply in any other way, than on the supposition that Jesus here declares Himself to be the predicted and divinely anointed Servant of Jehovah, who brings the gospel of redemption to His people. Moreover, though it is not decisive in favour of our explanation, yet this explanation is favoured by the fact that the speaker not only appears as the herald of the new and great gifts of God, but also as the dispenser of them (“non praeco tantum, sed et dispensator,” Vitringa).
Even in Isaiah 61:3 with להם וקרא a perfect was introduced in the place of the infinitives of the object, and affirmed what was to be accomplished through the mediation of the Servant of Jehovah. The second turn in the address, which follows in Isaiah 61:4-9, continues the use of such perfects, which afterwards pass into futures. But the whole is still governed by the commencement in Isaiah 61:1. The Servant of Jehovah celebrates the glorious office committed to him, and expounds the substance of the gospel given him to proclaim. It points to the restoration of the promised land, and to the elevation of Israel, after its purification in the furnace of judgment, to great honour and dignity in the midst of the world of nations. “And they will build up wastes of the olden time, raise up desolations of the forefathers, and renew desolate cities, desolations of former generations. And strangers stand and feed your flocks, and foreigners become your ploughmen and vinedressers. But ye will be called priests of Jehovah; Servants of our God, will men say to you: ye will eat the riches of the nations, and pride yourselves in their glory.” The desolations and wastes of (‛ōlâm) and (dōr) (vâdōr), i.e., of ages remote and near (Isaiah 58:12), are not confined to what had lain in ruins during the seventy years of the captivity. The land will be so thickly populated, that the former places of abode will not suffice (Isaiah 49:19-20); so that places must be referred to which are lying waste beyond the present bounds of the promised land (Isaiah 54:3), and which will be rebuilt, raised up, and renewed by those who return from exile, and indeed by the latest generations (Isaiah 58:12, מםּ; cf., Isaiah 60:14). (Chōrebh), in the sense of desolation, is a word belonging to the alter period of the language (Zeph., Jer., and Ezek.). The rebuilding naturally suggests the thought of assistance on the part of the heathen (Isaiah 60:10). But the prophet expresses the fact that they will enter into the service of Israel (Isaiah 61:5), in a new and different form. They “stand there” (viz., at their posts ready for service, (‛al) -(mish-(martâm), 2 Chronicles 7:6), “and feed your flocks” (צאן singularetantum, cf., Genesis 30:43), and foreigners are your ploughmen and vinedressers. Israel is now, in the midst of the heathen who have entered into the congregation of Jehovah and become the people of God (ch Isaiah 19:25), what the Aaronites formerly were in the midst of Israel itself. It stands upon the height of its primary destination to be a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6). They are called “priests of Jehovah,” and the heathen call them “servants of our God;” for even the heathen speak with believing reverence of the God, to whom Israel renders priestly service, as “our God.” This reads as if the restored Israelites were to stand in the same relation to the converted heathen as the clergy to the laity; but it is evident, from Isaiah 66:21, that the prophet has no such hierarchical separation as this in his mind. All that we can safely infer from his prophecy is, that the nationality of Israel will not be swallowed up by the entrance of the heathen into the community of the God of revelation. The people created by Jehovah, to serve as the vehicle of the promise of salvation and the instrument in preparing the way for salvation, will also render Him special service, even after that salvation has been really effected. At the same time, we cannot take the attitude, which is here assigned to the people of sacred history after it has become the teacher of the nations, viz., as the leader of its worship also, and shape it into any clear and definite form that shall be reconcilable with the New Testament spirit of liberty and the abolition of all national party-walls. The Old Testament prophet utters New Testament prophecies in an Old Testament form. Even when he continues to say, “Ye will eat the riches of the Gentiles, and pride yourselves in their glory,” i.e., be proud of the glorious things which have passed from their possession into yours, this is merely colouring intended to strike the eye, which admits of explanation on the ground that he saw the future in the mirror of the present, as a complete inversion of the relation in which the two had stood before. The figures present themselves to him in the form of contrasts. The New Testament apostle, on the other hand, says in Romans 11:12 that the conversion of all Israel to Christ will be “the riches of the Gentiles.” But if even then the Gentile church should act according to the words of the same apostle in Romans 15:27, and show her gratitude to the people whose spiritual debtor she is, by ministering to them in carnal things, all that the prophet has promised here will be amply fulfilled. We cannot adopt the explanation proposed by Hitzig, Stier, etc., “and changing with them, ye enter into their glory” ((hithyammēr) from (yâmar) = (mūr), Hiph.: (hēmı̄r), Jeremiah 2:11; lit., to exchange with one another, to enter into one another's places); for (yâmar) = (‛âmar) (cf., (yâchad) = ('âchad); (yâsham) = ('âsham); (yâlaph) = ('âlaph)), to press upwards, to rise up (related to (tâmar), see at Isaiah 17:9; (sâmar), Symm. ὀρθοτριχεῖν , possibly also (‛âmar) with the (hithpael) (hith‛ammēr), lxx καταδυναστεύειν ), yields a much simpler and more appropriate meaning. From this verb we have (hith'ammēr) in Psalm 94:4, “to lift one's self up (proudly),” and here (hithyammēr); and it is in this way that the word has been explained by Jerome (superbietis), and possibly by the lxx ( θαυμασθήσεσθε , in the sense of spectabiles eritis), by the Targum, and the Syriac, as well as by most of the ancient and modern expositors.
The shame of banishment will then be changed into an excess of joy, and honourable distinction. “Instead of shame ye will have double, and (instead) of insult they rejoice at their portion: thus in their land they will possess double; everlasting joy will they have. For I Jehovah love right, hate robbery in wickedness; and give them their reward in faithfulness, and conclude an everlasting covenant with them. And their family will be known among the nations, and their offspring in the midst of the nations: all who see them will recognise them, for they are a family that Jehovah hath blessed.” The enigmatical first half of Isaiah 61:7 is explained in Isaiah 61:2, where (mishneh) is shown to consist of double possession in the land of their inheritance, which has not only been restored to them, but extended far beyond the borders of their former possession; and (yârōnnū) (chelqâm) (cf., Isaiah 65:14) denotes excessive rejoicing in the ground and soil belonging to them (according to the appointment of Jehovah): (chelqâm) as in Micah 2:4; and (mishneh) as equivalent not to כבוד משׁנה, but to ירשּׁה משׁנה. Taking this to be the relation between Isaiah 61:7 and Isaiah 61:7 , the meaning of (lâkhēn) is not, “therefore, because they have hitherto suffered shame and reproach;” but what is promised in Isaiah 61:7 is unfolded according to its practical results, the effects consequent upon its fulfilment being placed in the foreground; so that there is less to astonish us in the elliptically brief form of Isaiah 61:7 which needed explanation. The transition from the form of address to that of declaration is the same as in Isaiah 1:29; Isaiah 31:6; Isaiah 52:14-15. וּכלמּה is a concise expression for כלמה ותחת, just as וּתהלּתי in Isaiah 48:9 is for תהלתי וּלמען. (Chelqâm) is either the accusative of the object, according to the construction of רנּן, which occurs in Psalm 51:16; or what I prefer, looking at חמה in Isaiah 42:25, and וּזבחיך in Isaiah 43:23, an adverbial accusative = בחלקם. The lxx, Jerome, and Saad. render the clause, in opposition to the accents, “instead of your double shame and reproach;” but in that case the principal words of the clause would read הלקכם תּרנּוּ. The explanation adopted by the Targum, Saad., and Jerome, “shame on the part of those who rejoice in their portion,” is absolutely impossible. The great majority of the modern commentators adopt essentially the same explanation of Isaiah 61:7 as we have done, and even A. E. Kimchi does the same. Hahn's modification, “instead of your shame is the double their portion, and (instead) of the insult this, that they will rejoice,” forces a meaning upon the syntax which is absolutely impossible. The reason for the gracious recompense for the wrong endured is given in Isaiah 61:8, “Jehovah loves the right,” which the enemies of Israel have so shamefully abused. “He hates בּעולה גזל, i.e., not rapinam in holocausto (as Jerome, Talmud b. Succa 30a, Luther, and others render it; Eng. ver. “robbery for burnt-offering”) - for what object would there be in mentioning sacrifices here, seeing that only heathen sacrifices could be intended, and there would be something worse than (gâzēl) to condemn in them? - but robbery, or, strictly speaking, “something robbed in or with knavery” (lxx, Targ., Syr., Saad.), which calls to mind at once the cruel robbery or spoiling that Israel had sustained from the Chaldeans, its (bōzezı̄m) (Isaiah 42:24) - a robbery which passed all bounds. עולה is softened from עולה (from עול, עול), like עלתה in Job 5:16, and עולת in Psalm 58:3 and Psalm 64:7; though it is doubtful whether the punctuation assumes the latter, as the Targum does, and not rather the meaning holocaustum supported by the Talmud. For the very reason, therefore, that Israel had been so grievously ill-treated by the instruments of punishment employed by Jehovah, He would give those who had been ill-treated their due reward, after He had made the evil, which He had not approved, subservient to His own salutary purposes. פּעלּה is the reward of work in Leviticus 19:13, of hardship in Ezekiel 29:20; here it is the reward of suffering. This reward He would give בּאמת, exactly as He had promised, without the slightest deduction. The posterity of those who have been ill-treated and insulted will be honourably known (נודע as in Proverbs 31:23) in the world of nations, and men will need only to catch sight of them to recognise them (by prominent marks of blessing), for they are a family blessed of God. כּי, not quod (because), although it might have this meaning, but nam (for), as in Genesis 27:23, since (hikkı̄r) includes the meaning agnoscere (to recognise).
This is the joyful calling of the Servant of Jehovah to be the messenger of such promises of God to His people. “Joyfully I rejoice in Jehovah; my soul shall be joyful in my God, that He hath given me garments of salvation to put on, hath wrapped me in the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom who wears the turban like a priest, and as a bride who puts on her jewellery. For like the land which brings forth its sprouts, and as a garde which causes the things sown in it to sprout up; so the Lord Jehovah bringeth righteousness to sprouting, and renown before all nations.” The Targum precedes this last turn with “Thus saith Jerusalem.” But as Isaiah 61:4-9 are a development of the glorious prospects, the realization of which has to be effected through the instrumentality of the person speaking in Isaiah 61:1-3 both in word and deed, the speaker here is certainly the same as there. Nor is it even the fact that he is here supposed to commence speaking again; but he is simply continuing his address by expressing at the close, as he did at the beginning, the relation in which he stands in his own person to the approaching elevation of His people. Exalted joy, which impels him to exult, is what he experiences in Jehovah his God (בּ denoting the ground and orbit of his experience): for the future, which so abounds in grace, and which he has to proclaim as a prophet and as the evangelist of Israel, and of which he has to lay the foundation as the mediator of Israel, and in which he is destined to participate as being himself an Israelite, consists entirely of salvation and righteousness; so that he, the bearer and messenger of the divine counsels of grace, appears to himself as one to whom Jehovah has given clothes of salvation to put on, and whom He has wrapped in the robe of righteousness. (Tsedâqâh) (righteousness), looked at from the evangelical side of the idea which it expresses, is here the parallel word to (yeshū‛âh) (salvation). The figurative representation of both by different articles of dress is similar to Isaiah 59:17: (yâ‛at), which only occurs here, is synonymous with (‛âtâh), from which comes (ma‛ăteh), a wrapper or cloak (Isaiah 61:3). He appears to himself, as he stands there hoping such things for his people, and preaching such things to his people, to resemble a bridegroom, who makes his turban in priestly style, i.e., who winds it round his head after the fashion of the priestly (migbâ‛ōth) (Exodus 29:9), which are called פּארים in Exodus 39:28 (cf., Ezekiel 44:18). Rashi and others think of the (mitsnepheth) of the high priest, which was of purple-blue; but יכהן does not imply anything beyond the (migba‛âh), a tall mitra, which was formed by twisting a long linen band round the head so as to make it stand up in a point. כּהן is by no means equivalent to (kōnēn), or (hēkhı̄n), as Hitzig and Hahn suppose, since the verb (kâhan) = (kūn) only survives in (kōhēn). (Kı̄hēn) is a denom., and signifies to act or play the priest; it is construed here with the accusative פּאר, which is either the accusative of more precise definition (“who play the priest in a turban;” A. ὡς νύμφιον ἱερατευόμενον στεφάνῳ ), or what would answer better to the parallel member, “who makes the turban like a priest.” As often as he receives the word of promise into his heart and takes it into his mouth, it is to him like the turban of a bridegroom, or like the jewellery which a bride puts on ((ta‛deh), kal, as in Hosea 2:15). For the substance of the promise is nothing but salvation and renown, which Jehovah causes to sprout up before all nations, just as the earth causes its vegetation to sprout, or a garden its seed (כ as a preposition in both instances, instar followed by attributive clauses; see Isaiah 8:22). The word in the mouth of the servant of Jehovah is the seed, out of which great things are developed before all the world. The ground and soil (('erets)) of this development is mankind; the enclosed garden therein ((gannâh)) is the church; and the great things themselves are (tsedâqâh), as the true inward nature of His church, and (tehillâh) as its outward manifestation. The force which causes the seed to germinate is Jehovah; but the bearer of the seed is the servant of Jehovah, and the ground of his festive rejoicing is the fact that he is able to scatter the seed of so gracious and glorious a future.
Monday, September 26th, 2016
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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