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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 52

Verses 1-12


The Hope of speedy Return for the Exiles

Isaiah 51:1-16. Encouragement from consideration of the past. Jehovah’s purpose for His people is sure. Prayer for deliverance (based on the deliverance of the exodus). Jehovah in response reassures His people.

17-23. The divine wrath, which was upon Jerusalem, shall be turned against her oppressors.

Isaiah 52:1-6. The glorious change in Zion’s fortune.

7-12. The deliverance of the exiles imminent.

Verses 1-12

1, 2. Zion invited to array herself as a queen and sit enthroned, freed from the presence of heathen foes, and with her children restored from captivity.

1. Thy strength] Strength returns to Zion when the Arm of Jehovah works within her (Isaiah 51:9).

3. Her captors paid no price, and therefore have no claim upon her.

4. The Assyrian oppressed] alluding to the sufferings of God’s people at the hands of Sargon and Sennacherib.

5. What have I] RV ’what do I.’ The argument is that the Egyptian and Assyrian oppressors were but temporary; is there any reason why the Babylonian exile should be permanent? Make.. howl] RV ’do howl.’

Every day] RV ’all the day.’

6. Shall know my name] Owing to the exile men had doubted Jehovah’s power (cp. Isaiah 52:5, ’my name.. is blasphemed’), but in the ensuing deliverance He will vindicate Himself, and His people shall know Him in His true character.

7. Cp. Isaiah 40:9; This and the following vv. refer to the return from the exile.

8. Watch-men] may refer to prophets (cp. Isaiah 21:6, Isaiah 21:11-12; Isaiah 56:10), or to heavenly spirits (cp. Daniel 4:13). Eye to eye] i.e. as one looks into the eye of his friend.

10. His holy arm] cp. Isaiah 51:9.

11. No unclean thing] cp. v.

1. That bear the vessels, etc.] i.e. the priests and Lévites, who are to carry back to Jerusalem for use in the restored Temple the sacred utensils, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken away to Babylon. See the fulfilment of this recorded in Ezra 1:7-11.

12. With haste, etc.] in contrast to the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12:39).

Rereward] i.e. rearguard.

Verses 1-12

1, 2. Zion invited to array herself as a queen and sit enthroned, freed from the presence of heathen foes, and with her children restored from captivity.

1. Thy strength] Strength returns to Zion when the Arm of Jehovah works within her (Isaiah 51:9).

3. Her captors paid no price, and therefore have no claim upon her.

4. The Assyrian oppressed] alluding to the sufferings of God’s people at the hands of Sargon and Sennacherib.

5. What have I] RV ’what do I.’ The argument is that the Egyptian and Assyrian oppressors were but temporary; is there any reason why the Babylonian exile should be permanent? Make.. howl] RV ’do howl.’

Every day] RV ’all the day.’

6. Shall know my name] Owing to the exile men had doubted Jehovah’s power (cp. Isaiah 52:5, ’my name.. is blasphemed’), but in the ensuing deliverance He will vindicate Himself, and His people shall know Him in His true character.

7. Cp. Isaiah 40:9; This and the following vv. refer to the return from the exile.

8. Watch-men] may refer to prophets (cp. Isaiah 21:6, Isaiah 21:11-12; Isaiah 56:10), or to heavenly spirits (cp. Daniel 4:13). Eye to eye] i.e. as one looks into the eye of his friend.

10. His holy arm] cp. Isaiah 51:9.

11. No unclean thing] cp. v.

1. That bear the vessels, etc.] i.e. the priests and Lévites, who are to carry back to Jerusalem for use in the restored Temple the sacred utensils, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken away to Babylon. See the fulfilment of this recorded in Ezra 1:7-11.

12. With haste, etc.] in contrast to the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12:39).

Rereward] i.e. rearguard.

Verses 1-15

This section is not so argumentative in tone as the last. Its distinguishing feature is the development of the prophet's teaching concerning the Servant of Jehovah. The conception seems to arise, as has been noted, with the nation considered collectively as a Servant of God (Isaiah 41:8-9; Isaiah 44:1-2, Isaiah 44:21; Isa 45:4). So long as the attitude and work of God in relation to the nation are solely in view, there is no limitation of the idea; but when the nation's work and attitude to Him and the fulfilment of His purposes come to be considered, the Servant of God seems to take on a narrower sense. The actual Israel, with its many shortcomings—its blindness to the truth, its deafness to God's message—gives way to those more select souls—a part only of the people—through whom the duties and destiny of the nation will be fulfilled. At the same time, it is clear that the idea passes on to an individual distinct from the nation (Isa 49:5-6), in whom are concentrated all the attributes of the ideal nation, and who shall realise all that Israel was intended to be. His character and office are thus delineated: (a) He is prepared by Jehovah from the womb for His lifework (Isa 49:1-2); (b) He is endowed with the Divine Spirit (Isa 42:1); (c) He is not ostentatious or unduly severe (Isa 42:2-3); (d) He is to be the embodiment of a New Covenant between Jehovah and His people (Isaiah 42:6; Isa 49:8); (e) and to teach all nations true religion (Isaiah 42:1, Isaiah 42:6; Isa 49:6); (f) but most remarkable of all, and especially characteristic of this division of the book, are the passages which intimate that this great work is only to be accomplished through humiliation, suffering, and death, issuing in a new and glorious life. The first hint that the Servant's work is to be carried on in face of difficulty and discouragement is found in Isaiah 42:4. His exposure to insult and contumely in the exercise of His mission is expressly indicated in Isa 50:6 then follows (Isaiah 52:13; Isaiah 53:0) a section entirely devoted to the subject, in which the prominent features are the Servant's gentleness and patience under affliction, the vicarious nature of His sufferings, which are not endured on His own account, but for the sins of His people, and the intimation that after pain and death there awaits Him new life full of joy in the contemplation of the success of His work. The correspondence, even in detail, with the Passion of Jesus Christ cannot fail to arrest attention. The way in which the Servant is despised and misunderstood by His contemporaries (Isa 53:3), His patience and silence before His accusers (Isa 53:7), and His association with malefactors in His death (Isa 53:9): these read like a description of what happened in the case of our Lord. How far the prophet understood the meaning of his own words it is difficult to say. No doubt he was thinking at the outset of the faithful core of Israel as being Jehovah's Servant with a great mission to accomplish, and the experience of the exile showed him that this great work for the whole world was only to be wrought through contumely and suffering; yet Jehovah sometimes spake 'with a strong hand' (Eze 3:14), and we can scarcely doubt that the Divine Spirit in these wonderful passages through the prophet foreshadowed the things that should be suffered and accomplished by the perfect Servant of God, the embodiment of Israel's splendid ideal, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Verses 1-15

This section is not so argumentative in tone as the last. Its distinguishing feature is the development of the prophet's teaching concerning the Servant of Jehovah. The conception seems to arise, as has been noted, with the nation considered collectively as a Servant of God (Isaiah 41:8-9; Isaiah 44:1-2, Isaiah 44:21; Isa 45:4). So long as the attitude and work of God in relation to the nation are solely in view, there is no limitation of the idea; but when the nation's work and attitude to Him and the fulfilment of His purposes come to be considered, the Servant of God seems to take on a narrower sense. The actual Israel, with its many shortcomings—its blindness to the truth, its deafness to God's message—gives way to those more select souls—a part only of the people—through whom the duties and destiny of the nation will be fulfilled. At the same time, it is clear that the idea passes on to an individual distinct from the nation (Isa 49:5-6), in whom are concentrated all the attributes of the ideal nation, and who shall realise all that Israel was intended to be. His character and office are thus delineated: (a) He is prepared by Jehovah from the womb for His lifework (Isa 49:1-2); (b) He is endowed with the Divine Spirit (Isa 42:1); (c) He is not ostentatious or unduly severe (Isa 42:2-3); (d) He is to be the embodiment of a New Covenant between Jehovah and His people (Isaiah 42:6; Isa 49:8); (e) and to teach all nations true religion (Isaiah 42:1, Isaiah 42:6; Isa 49:6); (f) but most remarkable of all, and especially characteristic of this division of the book, are the passages which intimate that this great work is only to be accomplished through humiliation, suffering, and death, issuing in a new and glorious life. The first hint that the Servant's work is to be carried on in face of difficulty and discouragement is found in Isaiah 42:4. His exposure to insult and contumely in the exercise of His mission is expressly indicated in Isa 50:6 then follows (Isaiah 52:13; Isaiah 53:0) a section entirely devoted to the subject, in which the prominent features are the Servant's gentleness and patience under affliction, the vicarious nature of His sufferings, which are not endured on His own account, but for the sins of His people, and the intimation that after pain and death there awaits Him new life full of joy in the contemplation of the success of His work. The correspondence, even in detail, with the Passion of Jesus Christ cannot fail to arrest attention. The way in which the Servant is despised and misunderstood by His contemporaries (Isa 53:3), His patience and silence before His accusers (Isa 53:7), and His association with malefactors in His death (Isa 53:9): these read like a description of what happened in the case of our Lord. How far the prophet understood the meaning of his own words it is difficult to say. No doubt he was thinking at the outset of the faithful core of Israel as being Jehovah's Servant with a great mission to accomplish, and the experience of the exile showed him that this great work for the whole world was only to be wrought through contumely and suffering; yet Jehovah sometimes spake 'with a strong hand' (Eze 3:14), and we can scarcely doubt that the Divine Spirit in these wonderful passages through the prophet foreshadowed the things that should be suffered and accomplished by the perfect Servant of God, the embodiment of Israel's splendid ideal, our Lord Jesus Christ.


The Suffering of Jehovah’s Servant: Its Meaning and Results

See introductory note to chapters

49-57.

Isaiah 52:13-15. The contrast between the Servant’s humiliation and exaltation; its effect upon the world.

Isaiah 53:1-12. The import of the Servant’s sufferingnot understood. The vicarious nature and triumphant issue of the Servant’s suffering.

Verses 13-15

13. Deal prudently] RV ’wisely.’ The word implies success as the result of prudent plan; it is used of David’s behaviour (1 Samuel 18:14-15, 1 Samuel 18:30).

Exalted, etc.] The idea is repeated for emphasis.

14. 15. At the Servant’s exaltation, following upon his deep humiliation and suffering, the nations and their rulers are dumb with awe, and learn truth unknown before. This was fulfilled in the effect upon the world of the resurrection and exaltation of Christ following upon His passion.

15. So corresponds to as (Isaiah 52:14), the words his visage.. men being a parenthesis. Sprinkle] i.e. so as to cleanse (Pesh. ’he shall purify’): or, read, ’startle’ (RM).

Verses 13-15

13. Deal prudently] RV ’wisely.’ The word implies success as the result of prudent plan; it is used of David’s behaviour (1 Samuel 18:14-15, 1 Samuel 18:30).

Exalted, etc.] The idea is repeated for emphasis.

14. 15. At the Servant’s exaltation, following upon his deep humiliation and suffering, the nations and their rulers are dumb with awe, and learn truth unknown before. This was fulfilled in the effect upon the world of the resurrection and exaltation of Christ following upon His passion.

15. So corresponds to as (Isaiah 52:14), the words his visage.. men being a parenthesis. Sprinkle] i.e. so as to cleanse (Pesh. ’he shall purify’): or, read, ’startle’ (RM).

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 52". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/isaiah-52.html. 1909.