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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 60

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary

Verse 1


(1) Arise, shine . . .—The description of the redeemed Zion—i.e., the new Jerusalem—seen in the prophet’s vision as under the forms of the old. She has been prostrate, as in the darkness of Sheol (as in Isaiah 51:23; Isaiah 57:9). The word comes that bids her rise to a new life, radiant with the glory of the Lord. In Ephesians 5:14 we have, perhaps, an echo, though not a quotation, of the prophet’s words.

Verse 2

(2) The darkness shall cover the earth . . .—The darkness which had shrouded Zion still spreads its veil over the heathen nations of the world, but they also are to share in the light which is to stream forth from the new Jerusalem. (Comp. Malachi 4:2; Psalms 84:11.)

Verse 4

(4) Lift up thine eyes . . .—Repeated from Isaiah 49:18.

Thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side . . .—Asin Isaiah 66:12, the words point to the Eastern custom of carrying young children on the hip of their mother, with their arms clasped round her waist.

Verse 5

(5) Then thou shalt see.—A various reading adopted by many commentators gives thou shalt Jear.

Thine heart shall fear . . .—Literally, shall throb, as with an awe-stricken joy at the marvellous prosperity, but that throb of awe is followed by the expansion of ecstatic joy.

The abundance of the sea—i.e., the riches of the Western isles, with which the new Jerusalem was to be filled, as Tyre and Zidon had been of old. (Ezekiel 27:1-25).

Verse 6

(6) The multitude of camels . . .—The verse paints the commerce of the East, as Isaiah 60:5 had described that of the West. For the camels and riches of Midian, see Judges 6:5; Judges 8:26. “Ephah” appears in Genesis 25:4 among the sons of Midian. “Sheba” keeps up its traditional fame for gold and incense (Psalms 72:10; Strabo xvi. 4, 19).

Verse 7

(7) Kedar.—The nomad tribes (Isaiah 21:17) come as well as the trading ones. Nebaioth, mentioned with Kedar, in Genesis 25:13, among the descendants of Ishmael, expanded iii the centuries preceding the Christian era, into the kingdom of the Nabathœan Arabs, spreading from the Ælanitic Gulf to the Haurân. The two names together include what were known to the Roman geographers as Arabia Felix and Arabia Petræa. The primary thought is that the Temple of the new Jerusalem will be supplied with its sacrifices from the inexhaustible flocks of these regions.

Verse 8

(8) Who are these . . .—The vision of the prophet brings before him the cloud-like sails of the ships that. are bringing back the exiles over the Mediterrauear and the Red Seas, hastening to their home like doves to their dove-cote. (Comp. Hosea 11:11.)

Verse 9

(9) The isles . . .i.e., as in Isaiah 49:1, the far-off maritime regions of the West.

Ships of Tarshish.—These are, as in Isaiah 2:16, the first-class trading ships, whether trading with that country (Spain) or in the Indian Ocean. (Comp. 1 Kings 10:22; 1 Kings 22:48.) The mention of silver and gold may, therefore, point to Ophir as well as Spain.

The Holy One of Israel.—We note once more the recurrence of the characteristic Name.

Verse 10

(10) The sons of strangers shall build . . .—Either as willing proselytes or as being brought into subjection. (Comp. Zechariah 6:15.) To build the temples or palaces of conquerors was, as in the case of the Egyptian and Babylonian bondage, the almost inevitable lot of the conquered.

Verse 11

(11) Thy gates shall be open continually.—The words imply (1) a state of peace in which there would be no danger of attack; and (2) the constant stream of caravans of pilgrims, With their offerings, entering by night as well as day. It is interesting to note St. John’s transfer of the thought to the heavenly Jerusalem (Revelation 21:25-26).

The forces of the Gentiles.—Better, the riches, or the possessions.

That their kings may be brought . . .—The verb, as in Isaiah 20:4, 1 Samuel 30:2, implies that they are brought as captives, acknowledging, with or against their will, the sovereignty of Zion.

Verse 13

(13) The glory of Lebanon . . .—The prophet sees in the new Jerusalem a revival of the glories of the days of Solomon. The cedars of Lebanon, and other trees of the forest, are to furnish timber for its buildings, or even to be planted in the courts of the Temple, or in its open places and streets (Psalms 52:8; Psalms 92:12-13; Isaiah 35:2).

The box is probably, as in Isaiah 41:19, a species of cedar.

The place of my feet is clearly parallel with the “sanctuary” of the previous clause. So the word “footstool” is used of the Temple in Psalms 99:5; Psalms 132:7.

Verse 14

(14) The sons also of them that afflicted thee . . .—The explanation commonly given is that the “sons” are named because the persecutors themselves are thought of as no more. It seems better, however, to see in the words an expression of the law of inherited retribution, which entered so largely into the Hebrew’s thought of the moral government of the world. That law will show itself in the prostrate homage with which the descendants of the old oppressors will recognise that the restored city is indeed the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

Verse 15

(15) Whereas thou hast been forsaken . . .—The figure of the daughter of Zion, who had been as a forsaken and slighted wife (comp. Isaiah 62:4), mingles with the literal picture of a city in ruins, abandoned and unvisited.

Verse 16

(16) Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles . . .—The metaphor is bold, but the prophet had already presented it in a less startling form in Isaiah 49:23. What is meant in either case is that the new Jerusalem shall be supported by the offerings of the Gentiles.

Verse 17

(17) For brass I will bring gold . . . The material wealth of the days of Solomon (1 Kings 10:21-27) furnishes another element in the picture of the ideal city, but with this striking difference: that there the “officers” and “exactors” of the king had been instruments of oppression (1 Kings 12:4), while now they were to be the very embodiment of righteousness, and, in the widest sense, of “peace,” and, therefore, of prosperity.

Verse 18

(18) Violence shall no more . . .—Following the thought of the previous verse, we see in the words a picture of freedom from internal misgovernment rather than from external invasion.

Thou shalt call thy walls Salvation . . . The idea, almost the very phrase, has met us before in Isaiah 26:1. They probably found a starting-point in the Eastern practice of giving to the walls of a city names that implied a consecration. Thus the walls of Babylon were named Imgur Bel and Nimetti Belkit (Records of the Past, v. 124, 125).

Verse 19

(19) The sun shall be no more . . .—The ideal picture becomes bolder and more transcendent. Sun and moon may still shine, but, as in Revelation 21:23 (obviously derived from this), they shall not be needed in the radiance of the greater glory of the presence of Jehovah. Here on earth the sun sets and the moon wanes, but in that Divine glory there is no waning and no setting. “Mourning” will belong to the past (comp. Revelation 21:4), everlasting joy to the future.

Verse 21

(21) Thy people also shall be all righteous . . .—The city is to realise the as yet unfulfilled ideal of Psalms 15:0 and Psalms 21:5 Evil will be blotted out, and, therefore, there will be no forfeiture of the inheritance. In the “branch” we have the words which had been prominent in Isaiah 11:1, and which is now extended from the ideal representative of the nation to the whole body of the people.

Verse 22

(22) A little one shall become a thousand.—The noun is probably to be taken not in its merely numerical value, but, as in Judges 6:15, 1 Samuel 23:23, Micah 5:2, for a clan or sub-division of a tribe.

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Isaiah 60". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/isaiah-60.html. 1905.
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