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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

Isaiah 51

Verses 1-23


The Final Redemption of Israel. A Dialogue between the Servant of Jehovah who appears as one veiled, Israel, Jehovah Himself and the Prophet

Isaiah 51:0

This chapter speaks of high and mighty things. We hear four persons speak one after the other. Each of the speakers from his view-point announces what he has to produce in reference to the chief subject. The Servant of God, appearing significantly veiled, presents to Israel the condition of its redemption (Isaiah 51:1-23.51.8). Israel then turns with believing supplication to its Lord, praying for a display of power as of old (Isaiah 51:9-23.51.11). The Lord answers Israel with comfort and exhortation, but then turns to the Servant, who is called to execute the work of redemption, in order to set before Him the origin, means and goal of His work (Isaiah 51:12-23.51.16). Finally the Prophet himself takes up the word in order to exhort Israel that it would take to heart the consolation given by Jehovah (Isaiah 51:17-23.51.23).


Isaiah 51:1-23.51.8

1          Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness,

Ye that seek the Lord:
Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn,

And to the hole of the 1pit whence ye are digged.

2     Look unto Abraham your father,

And unto Sarah that bare you:

2For I called him alone,

And blessed him, and increased him.

3     For the Lord shall comfort Zion:

He will comfort all her waste places;
And he will make her wilderness like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the Lord;
Joy and gladness shall be found therein,
Thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.

4     Hearken unto me, my people;

And give ear unto me, O my nation:
For a law shall proceed from me,
And I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people.

5     My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth,

And mine arms shall judge the people;
The isles shall wait upon me,
And on mine arm shall they trust.

6     Lift up your eyes to the heavens,

And look upon the earth beneath:
For the heavens shall vanish away like smoke,
And the earth shall wax old like a garment,
And they that dwell therein shall die in like manner:
But my salvation shall be forever,
And my righteousness shall not 3be abolished.

7     Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness,

The people in whose heart is my law;
Fear ye not the reproach of men,
Neither be ye afraid of their revilings.

8     For the moth shall eat them up like a garment,

And the worm shall eat them like wool:
But my righteousness shall be forever,
And my salvation from generation to generation.


See List for the recurrence of the words: Isaiah 51:3. שָׂשׂוֹן וְשִׂמְחָה which, beside Psalms 51:10, occurs only in Isaiah; Jeremiah 15:16; Jeremiah 31:13, uses לְשָׂשׂוֹן וּלְשִׂמְחַת לְבָבִי, and Isaiah 7:24; Isaiah 16:9 קול שׂשׂון וקול שׂ׳. Comp. Zechariah 8:19. Isaiah 51:5. זְרֹעַאִיִּים. Isaiah 51:6. מָלַח. Isaiah 51:8. לְדוֹר דּוֹרִיםסָםצֶמֶר, comp. Psalms 72:5; Psalms 102:25.

Isaiah 51:1. חֻצַּבְתֶּם abbreviated relative clause for אַשֶׁר חצבתם מִמֶּנּוּ.

Isaiah 51:2. The imperf. תחוללכם, before which אשׁר is likewise to be supplied, occasions surprise. Why is the perf. not employed? Had the Prophet had in mind the one act of physical birth he must have put the perf. As the word cannot be treated as a substantive (comp. תְקוֹמְמֶיךָ Psalms 139:21), the choice of the word and the verbal form must be explained by understanding the Prophet to be thinking, not merely of the torqueri that accompanies the act of birth, but also of that torqueri spe (comp. Genesis 8:10; Job 35:14 : Psalms 37:7) that Sarah had to endure through so many years.—The punctuation of the verbs אברכהו and ארבהו with the mere Vav, copulative indicates that we are to construe the Vav as denoting intention (Ewald, § 347, a).

Isaiah 51:3. נִחַם and וַיָּשֱׂם are praeterita prophetica.—The expression גַּן יִהוָֹה occurs only here. גַּן אלהים occurs several times in Ezekiel 28:13; Ezekiel 31:8-26.31.9,—קוֹל זִמְרָה occurs beside here in Psalms 98:5. Isaiah uses זמרה again Isaiah 12:2; Isaiah 24:16.

Isaiah 51:4. It is needless and conflicting with the context to read עַמִּים and לְאֻמִּים (Codd., Syr.), instead of עַמִּי and לְאֻמִּי, or even to take עַמִּי and לְאֻמִּי as plural endings (Gesen.) and to refer both to the Gentiles. For these verses contain an exhortation to Israel not to renounce its privilege. לְאֹם is indeed nowhere else used for Israel. Yet the use of גּוֹי Zephaniah 2:9 is analogous. In this case as there, the want of a second word fitted to correspond in parallelism with עַם occasions the abnormal use.—The diversities of meanings encountered in the root רָגַע, (e.g., the meanings of emotion, trembling, resting seem to combine in the same root), is probably to be explained thus: we must distinguish between a רָגַע with original ע, and another with an ע that is derived from a hissing consonant. Probably רָגַע, denoting tremefecit, terruit, and from which is derived רֵגַע momentum (movimentum, moment of the trembling emotion), is softened from &רָנַשׂ רָגַז (as e.g., the Hebrew צ becomes ע in Aramaic, comp. &#עָנָא אַרְעָא צֹאן, etc.). But רָגַע that involves the meaning “to rest” has an original ע. The Hiph. הִרְגִּיעַ in our text means “to make rest,” and that in a similar sense to הֵנִיחַ and הִנִּיהַ, which forms, as is well known, in like manner acquire the meaning “deposuit, demisit, posuit, collocavit” (comp. Isaiah 30:32; Isaiah 14:1; Isaiah 46:7, etc.). Thus אַרְגִּיעַ would involve the meaning of “settling permanently.” For this right is that which from now on remains permanently, everlastingly.

Isaiah 51:6. It is uncertain whether מָלַח is radically related to מָרַחconterere,” hence מֶלַח contritum, what is broken small, both salt and rags (Jeremiah 38:11-24.38.12); or whether מָלַח has the fundamental meaning “to flood, to flow,” hence מֶלַח=flow, salt-flux, salt and=that which has flowed, passed away.—כְּמוֹ־כֵן is taken by the ancient translators and expositors in the sense of “just as,” which grammatically is quite correct, but is thought to be flat as to sense. Hence, after the example of Lowth and Vitringa, most recent expositors take כֵּן to mean “gnat.” But כֵּן does not occur in this sense in the singular; and the plural כִּנִּים Exodus 8:12 sqq.; Psalms 105:31 is without doubt to be referred to כִּנָּה (comp. כִּנָּם Exodus 8:13-2.8.14) and not to כֵּן. Hence Delitzsch is of the opinion that כְּמוֹ־כֵּן is to be taken in the sense of a “so” to which an accompanying gesture imparts a contemptuous meaning. But for this he can only appeal to classic analogies; for 2 Samuel 23:5; Numbers 13:33; Job 9:33 are not fitting comparisons. I am of the opinion that if כְּמוֹ־כֵן is not taken in the sense of “just as,” the application of the comparison is wanting. For whether כֵּן be taken=“gnat,” or=contemptuous “so,” in either case the clause וישׁביה to ימותון still belongs to the comparison and the application is wanting. Thus the discourse becomes obscure; whereas it is quite clear if the clause וישׁביה וגו׳ contains the application. For then it is said that all, that is nothing more than citizen of the earth, will pass away just as heaven and earth.

Isaiah 51:7. חרפת אנושׁ comp. Psalms 22:7; and concerning אנושׁ the remarks on Isaiah 8:1.—גּדֻּפוֹת with fem. ending only here; yet comp. גּדוּפוֹת Ezekiel 5:15; with masc. ending Isaiah 43:28; Zephaniah 2:8.


1. Connecting with the exhortation, Isaiah 50:10, to hearken to the voice of the Servant of God, the Prophet first lets a speaker enter of whom one does not exactly know whether he is Jehovah or one closely connected, indeed, with Jehovah, yet a distinct person from Him. If he is the latter, he can be no other than the Servant of Jehovah, who, veiling here His servant-form, already suffers His unity with Jehovah to appear. The following are reasons for thinking that it is the Servant of Jehovah that speaks in Isaiah 51:1 to Isaiah 8:1) the reference of שִׁמְעוּ אֵלַי, Isaiah 51:1, to שֹׁמֵעַ בְּקוֹל עַבְדּוֹ, Isaiah 50:10; Isaiah 2:0) Isaiah 51:1; Isaiah 51:3, speak of Jehovah in the third person; 3) Isaiah 42:4, the Zionitic law is called the law of the Servant of Jehovah, and the speaker in these verses describes the same law as proceeding from him (Isaiah 51:4) and as his law; 4) in Isaiah 51:16 the Servant is evidently addressed, and thus is assumed to be a participator in the dialogue, as πρόσωπον τοῦ διαλόγου. This discourse divides into three sections, each of which begins with an emphatic summons to give heed: שׁמעו (Isaiah 51:1), &הקשׁיבו האזינו (Isaiah 51:4), שׁמעו (Isaiah 51:7).

2. Hearken to me—voice of melody, Isaiah 51:1-23.51.3. The exhortation “hearken to me” refers back to “who hearkeneth to the voice of my Servant,” Isaiah 50:10. Although Isaiah 51:2 is proof that Jehovah is the speaker, still on the other hand Jehovah in Isaiah 51:1 a once and in Isaiah 51:3 twice is spoken of in the third person. Should not the Servant of Jehovah Himself be regarded as the speaker? His unity with Jehovah and His glory begin to shine through here; but because the servant-form and glory still stand uncombined side by side, He does not here appear plainly as the bearer of the latter. Those whom He summons to hear Him are the same that, Isaiah 50:10, are described as those that “fear the Lord.” The last expression is a general one. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7). “To fear God” includes earnest endeavor after righteousness in the widest sense, involving being right and having salvation (proof-text for רדף צדק, Deuteronomy 16:20; comp. Proverbs 21:21). But the possession of salvation is assured to those that seek and find the Lord Himself, the highest good (בִּקֵּשׁ י׳ said with reference to Exodus 33:7; Deuteronomy 4:20, especially in Hosea 3:5; Hosea 5:6; Hosea 7:10). These upright souls that strive after true righteousness and communion with God, and who are, hence, inclined and fitted “to trust in the name of the Lord and stay upon their God” (Isaiah 50:10), the Servant of the Lord would strengthen and confirm by referring them to Abraham and Sarah. He compares Abraham to a rock from which building-stones are hewn, and Sarah to a well-hole (מַקֶּבֶת בּוֹר, the latter reminding one of נְקֵבָה, comp. Isaiah 48:1), from which earth, clay, etc., are taken. There lies in the figure the notion of the primitive paternal and maternal ancestry. Ancestors are authority. Their posterity ought to resemble them, not only physically, but spiritually. Israel, then, ought to look back to its ancestors in order to imitate their example. It is to be noticed that Sarah is named here, as in Hebrews 11:11, along with Abraham, as the companion of his faith (see Text. and Gram.). Sarah’s pains in bearing the son of promise were two-fold: first, the inward struggles of faith, the sorrows of a hope again and again deceived, and yet not given up, joyfully ended at last by the physical sorrows of the birth. Thus תחוללכם leads over to the fact in which Abraham approved himself as an example of faith: the Lord called him as standing alone, as it were a solitary tree, but of course in order to bless and multiply him (see Text. and Gram.). The verbs “to bless and multiply” play a chief part in the promise given to Abraham. Therefore the Prophet points to these here (comp. Genesis 22:17; Genesis 12:2-1.12.3; Genesis 13:15-1.13.16; Genesis 18:18, etc.). Through long decennials and up to years when posterity was no longer naturally to be expected, Abraham had stood alone like a tree in a wide field, about which, even after long years, there appeared no sign of young growth from seeds falling from it. But he was not on that account weak in faith. And thus he is a comforting example to his posterity. For that Zion that the Prophet has in mind, which will be contemporary with the Servant of God, and wasted and forsaken (comp. Isaiah 49:14 sqq.), shall also grow up again and have a numerous seed and become a glorious garden of the Lord. By pointing to believing Abraham, the Prophet lets it be understood that just and only on the condition of a faith like Abraham’s can wasted Zion become again a paradise (עֵדֶן, Genesis 2:15; Joel 2:3). Unbelieving Israel, however, remains a waste!

3. Hearken unto me—not be abolished.

Isaiah 51:4-23.51.6. This section begins with a summons to hearken, still more emphatic than the preceding. It reminds one of Isaiah 49:1. The Lord will let a new law go forth, He will promulgate a new right to the nations. According to Isaiah 42:1-23.42.4; Isaiah 49:6, it is the Servant of God that is the medium of this new revelation of Jehovah’s. The Thorah here spoken of is, therefore, the Zionitic law, or the Gospel, and the right that will be set for a light to the nations is the new ordinance which, resting on the fact of the offering made on Golgotha, makes faith, and no longer works, the central point of subjective performance. I repeat here expressly, that I do not ascribe to the Prophet this knowledge, but that I only explain here what is objectively implied in the Prophet’s words, but not clearly known by him.

If this new Thorah is promulgated, then, on the one hand, “righteousness is come near” that avails with God (Isaiah 46:12-23.46.13), and with it salvation is gone forth (i.e., given out, offered to all); but, on the other hand, the time also of universal judgment has arrived. For when the Saviour of the world has appeared, then the time of judgment has come. But the judgment begins at the house of God. The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans is the first act of the world’s judgment (Matthew 24:0). We men living at present are, therefore, already in the world’s judgment. In this time, then, of the publishing of the Zionitic law on the one hand, and of the world’s judgment on the other, the isles shall hope in the Lord, and wait on his arm (זְרֹעַ symbolically=protection, support, hence singular; whereas before in זרעי ישׁפטו the word is taken in the physical sense, therefore the plural). Here it is intimated, therefore, that just the isles, i.e., the remote, heathen nations, especially of the West, in that last time, that is to be both a time of salvation and of judgment, will accept salvation. It is to be noted that the Prophet says nothing of Israel’s believing on the Servant of the Lord and on His law. Here, therefore, is a hint of that conflict in which Israel stood after the appearance of the Servant and still stands: either to cleave to the gospel with the Gentiles and thereby to disappear as a nation, or to reject the gospel and thereby to be themselves rejected, yet to be preserved as a nation for the time when, without jealousy or competition, the kingdom of God shall appear as the kingdom of David, and will be still one flock under one Shepherd. On ייחלון comp. on Isaiah 42:4.

Of course Israel acts thus from no praiseworthy motives, but from obstinacy and pride. And hence fleshly Israel shall be destroyed in the judgment. In Isaiah 51:6 the Prophet commands to consider heaven and earth. The heavens, seemingly so firm (firmamentum, στερέωμα) shall vanish away like smoke, the earth that bears all, will become worm-eaten and rotten and pass away as an old garment, and the inhabitants of the earth shall perish just so. But the salvation of Jehovah shall be forever and his righteousness shall not perish. Therefore whoever possesses this salvation and this righteousness shall be preserved. It is not said that whoever is dug out of the fountain of Abraham shall be blessed. But he that will follow the call of the Lord as Abraham, he that takes His law and believes Him, he shall be blessed, though he were a heathen. Whoever does not believe, though of the seed of Abraham after the flesh, shall perish away just as (see Text. and Gram.) the heaven and earth. Thus the difference between Israel and Gentiles disappears. He that has not the “salvation” and “righteousness” of the Lord is a mere earth inhabitant, whether of the race of Israel or not, and as such he shall perish with the earth.

4. Hearken unto me—generation.

Isaiah 51:7-23.51.8. For the third time we hear the summons to hearken. This time it is not addressed to Israel, but to all those that know the true righteousness, and have the law of the Servant of Jehovah in their hearts. “Those that know righteousness” differ from “those that follow after righteousness” only so far as that one must first know righteousness before he can follow after it. It is implied that, not a mere outward acquaintance is meant, but one truly inward and experimental. With this agrees the additional clause the people in whose heart is my law. From this is seen: 1) That not the outward Israel is meant, that received the Mosaic law outwardly. The words manifestly contain an express antithesis (comp. Jeremiah 31:33, which seems to rest on our text). 2) That here, too, the Servant of Jehovah is thought of. For this new, higher law is in Isaiah 42:4, expressly called His law, and the Thorah of which Isaiah 51:4 speaks, can be no other than that of which the Servant of Jehovah is called to be the mediator. Just on this account, however, the nation, in whose heart is the law of the Servant of Jehovah cannot be regarded here as itself appertaining to the “Servant of Jehovah,” as Del. [also J. A. A.] supposes. The people that has the righteousness and the law of the Servant of Jehovah in their hearts is not the people of Israel. It is a great people, a more numerous congregation. It is believing mankind, the congregation of those born again, the spiritual Israel, in distinction from unbelieving mankind, the world. This believing congregation has ever and everywhere to contend with the world. It is hated and persecuted by the world (Matthew 10:34 sqq.; 2 Timothy 3:12). But it can rest assured of the protection of its Lord. Hence the exhortation: fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up as a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool. There is a play of sound in the original יאכלם עשׁ and יאכלם סם that cannot be well reproduced in another language. This is the third time that the figure of the garment recurs (Isaiah 50:9; Isaiah 51:6), and the second time for that of the moth (Isaiah 50:9). Both are here combined and strengthened by the rhetorical variation, “the worm shall eat them like wool.” סָם, probably from the fundamental meaning of “to spring”, allied to סּוּם, is the Greek σήσ (Matthew 6:19, comp. Bochart, Hieroz., Lib. IV, cap. 25). The concluding clause, but my righteousness, etc., Isaiah 51:8 b, corresponds in part verbatim to the close of Isaiah 51:6; only that here, too, for the sake of variety there occurs a transposition of the notions.



[2]For he was alone when I called him.



Isaiah 51:9-23.51.11

9          Awake! Awake! put on strength, O arm of the Lord;

Awake! as in the ancient days, in the generation of old.

Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab,

And wounded the dragon?

10     Art thou not it which hath dried the sea,

The waters of the great deep;
That hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over?

11     Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return,

And come with singing unto Zion;
And everlasting joy shall be upon their head:

They shall obtain gladness and joy;

And sorrow and mourning shall flee away.


See List for the recurrence of the words: Isaiah 51:9. חָלַלתַּנִּיןעולמים Poel.—הָצַב Hiph.

Isaiah 51:9. דורות עולמים depends on the כְּ before יְמֵי, and not, as Hitzig and Hahn suppose, on יְמֵי; for the expression ימֵי דוֹרוֹת never occurs, and the absence of the preposition before דורות is according to common usage (comp. Isaiah 48:9; Isaiah 48:14; Isaiah 46:5; Isaiah 44:28, etc.). On the other hand the ימי קֶדֶם is a frequent expression (Isaiah 23:7; Isaiah 37:26; Micah 7:20; Jeremiah 46:26; Psa 44:2; 2 Kings 19:25; Lamentations 1:7; Lamentations 2:17). The expression דורות עולמים does not occur again. The plural, עולמים, expressing the relative notion of an immeasurable duration of time past or to come (comp. Isaiah 63:11), belongs to the words that occur only in Part Second.

Isaiah 51:10. הַשָּׂמָה, according to the Masoretic pointing with double-Pashta (comp. Olsh., § 41, k, 47, c. Anm.), should be read as Milel [accented on the penult.—Tr.], consequently regarded as third pers. fem. perf. Then the expression must be taken in a relative sense (Gesen., § 100, Rem.). But this punctuation seems to me a needless refinement. For there is no grammatical or logical ground for departing from the simple and natural construction of the verse, according to which the word is a parallel participle to the foregoing הַמַּֽחֲרֶבֶת.

Isaiah 51:11. The verse is repeated almost verbatim from Isaiah 35:10. The only difference is the small one of ישׂיגון נסו in our text instead of the ישׂיגו ונסו of Isaiah 35:10, which may be referred to an error of transcription. In 35 Isaiah 51:9 concludes with the words וְהָלְכוּ גְאוּלִים. Our Isaiah 51:10 also concludes with גאוים. It is possible, indeed, that thus ending Isaiah 51:10, the Prophet was reminded of Isaiah 35:9, and that occasioned his repeating here the words that there follow, viz., Isaiah 35:10. But it is not correct, when Hitzig remarks, that Isaiah 51:11 does not suit the context because here those delivered from Egypt are meant. For the deliverance out of Egypt is only a type of that of final history.


Awake—flee away.

Isaiah 51:9-23.51.11. In accordance with the almost dramatic arrangement that the Prophet observes, Zion now takes up the discourse. It is so bold as to return exhortation for exhortation. For if Israel was reminded in Isaiah 51:1-23.51.6 of what it needed to do for its salvation, it in turn summons the Lord to do His part now, i.e., in the time of the Servant of Jehovah, in the last time, as He did in the beginning time, in Egypt. There is in עוּרִי “awake” a slight intimation that the arm of the Lord has slept, i.e., that there has been a pause in the display of its power. How else could the destruction and desolation (Isaiah 51:3) of Zion, and its consequent second and greatest exile have come about? Thrice is the cry “awake” called out to the arm of the Lord, as to one lying in deepest slumber, and that can only be wakened by repeated calling. Comp. Isaiah 52:1; Judges 5:12. Put on strength, equip one’s self with strength, is a figure drawn from the arming of a warrior with pieces of armor. The naked arm is thought of as weaker, that covered with brazen bands as stronger, firmer, better able to resist (comp. Isaiah 52:1; Psalms 93:1). Hitzig cites Homer, Il. 19, 36, δύσεο δ̓ἀλκήν; Delitzsch, Revelation 11:17, λαμβάνειν δύναμιν. And now the Lord’s former doings are, as it were, held up to Him as an example. Art thou not He that cut Rahab asunder, etc. Rahab, properly ferocia, then designation of a monstrum marinum, in which sense it corresponds to תַּנִּין, and thence, like the latter, which=“the crocodile,” a symbolical name for Egypt (comp. on Isaiah 30:7). On תַּנִּין comp. List and Ezekiel 29:3; Psalms 74:13-19.74.14.

In Isaiah 51:10, reference is further made to the drying up of the Red sea and the passage of the Israelites through it. Therefore here again we find the deliverance out of Egyptian bondage as a type of the last and final redemption. In Isaiah 51:11 (see Text. and Gram.) the Prophet, in entire agreement with the context, expresses the confidence that the arm of the Lord will, indeed, in the last time give proof again of its power displayed in ancient time, and that therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return home to Zion with rejoicings and to everlasting joy.


Isaiah 51:12-23.51.16

12          I, even I, am he that comforteth you:

Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die?

And of the son of man which shall be 4made as grass;

13     And forgettest the Lord thy Maker,

That hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth;
And hast feared continually every day
Because of the fury of the oppressor,

5As if he 6were ready to destroy?

And where is the fury of the oppressor?

14     7The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed,

And 8that he should not die in the pit,

Nor that his bread should fail.

15     9But I am the Lord thy God,

That 10divided the sea, whose waves roared:

The Lord of hosts is his name.

16     And I have put my words in thy mouth,

And I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand,

11That I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth,

And say unto Zion, Thou art my people.


See List for the recurrence of the words: Isaiah 51:14, צָעָה, comp. Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 48:12; Isaiah 51:15 יהוה צ׳ שְׁמוֹ; the expression occurs in the same form in Jeremiah 10:16; Jeremiah 31:35 : Jeremiah 32:18; Jeremiah 46:18; Jeremiah 48:15; Jeremiah 50:34; Jeremiah 51:19; Jeremiah 51:57. It seems original with Amos, where it appears now in a simpler form (Amos 5:8; Amos 9:6), now in a more extended form (Amos 4:13; Amos 5:27).

Isaiah 51:12. In מִי־אַתְּ the מִי is self-evidently qualis. The expression also corresponds in sound to את־היא Isaiah 51:9. The Prophet uses freedom in respect to gender and number. After מנחמכם he puts the sing מי־את, and after the feminine מי־את ותיראי the masculines ותשׁכח and ותפחד, according as the notion Zion or Israel is uppermost. The Vav consec. after מי־את expresses the effect, and hence is=ut; qualis eras, ut timeres. Thus מי־את by no means signifies “how little art thou?” (Knobel). For the same interrogative form may mean: “how great art thou?” comp. Judges 9:28. And any way מי may, regardless of size great or small, inquire for the occasioning quality generally. Comp. Isaiah 51:19 and מי־את Ruth 3:16 with the same phrase, Ruth 3:9; Isaiah 57:4; Isaiah 57:11.

Isaiah 51:13. One may supply חִצָּיו “his arrows” after כּוֹנֵן (Psalms 11:2; comp. Isaiah 7:13); still, without an expressed object, the word also means “to aim” (Psalms 21:13).

Isaiah 51:14. מהר לחפתח is construed as e.g., מִהַרְתָּ לִמְצֹא Genesis 27:20. צָעָה is “to bow” transitive and intransitive. Here it means the one bowed down by chains or the מַהְפֶּכֶת (Jeremiah 20:2; Jeremiah 29:26; 2 Chronicles 16:10). הפתח is a metonymy as in Isaiah 14:17, etc.


1. I, even I—should fail.

Isaiah 51:12-23.51.14. Jehovah enters here as the third and most exalted person of the dialogue. The “I, even I” corresponds to the “awake, awake” of Isaiah 51:9 and replies to it. It seems to me that “He that comforteth you” refers back to the double נִחַם “comforted” Isaiah 51:3. It is as if the Lord would say: Have ye not heard that I, I Jehovah am He that comforts Zion? Are ye not competently assured of this? Who art thou, now, that thou fearest a man that will die? (See Text. and Gram.). Man that dies, the son of man who is given away as grass, such is the enemy that Israel ought not to fear. There could be no mention of this fear, were it not that Israel forgot Jehovah, who, as Maker of His people (Isaiah 43:1) stretcher forth of the heavens and founder of the earth (Isaiah 40:22; Isaiah 42:5; Isaiah 44:24; Isaiah 45:12) surely offered a sufficient guaranty for trusting in Him. Forgetting Jehovah is really the cause both of fearing men (Isaiah 51:12) and of the continual trembling (Isaiah 51:13). The mention of one effect before and of the other after the cause, thus proceeding in the one case from effect to cause, and in the other from cause to effect, though not quite exact, is still a common way of speaking (comp. Amos 5:10-30.5.12; Jeremiah 2:9 sq.; Isaiah 49:19 sq.; 2 Samuel 12:9). Evidently and hast trembled every day, etc., Isaiah 51:13, makes stronger the expression of Isaiah 51:12, both qualitatively and quantitatively. To understand by “the oppressor” the Babylonian oppressor (Knobel) is only possible to one that has no conception of the wide reach of the prophetic gaze. Though Babylon may be included, it cannot be all that is meant, for the Prophet sees together all that Israel feels as an oppressor until the end. Moreover the expression is founded on Deuteronomy 28:53; Deuteronomy 28:55; Deuteronomy 28:57, and is used by Isaiah here and Isaiah 29:2; Isaiah 29:7 in this sense, and besides only by Jeremiah 19:9. כאשׁר=“according as,” and thus expresses that the trembling is in proportion to the aiming of the oppressor.

But where is the fury of the oppressor?” asks the Lord, anticipating, as it were, the future. The question intimates that a time will come when that fury shall suddenly vanish. With this wondrously quick disappearance of the oppressor connects the instant, and unhindered release of the captives. Prison scenes appear here before the Prophet’s mind: he sees captives bent under the weight of chains, or, worse still, by racking instruments, who are now quickly let go, and thus escape a dreadful fate of slow dying to the pit (a pregnant construction) for want of necessary food.

2. But I am—My people.

Isaiah 51:15-23.51.16. I regard both these verses as the address of Jehovah to His Servant. Such an address is not out of place, but the contrary, if we were right in regarding the Servant of Jehovah as taking part in the dialogue and the Isaiah 51:1-23.51.8 as His words. ואנכיand I” answers to the double אנכי Isaiah 51:12 as a similar beginning. The Servant of Jehovah has also great conflicts to endure. The world storms against Him like a raging sea (Psalms 2:1; Isaiah 57:20). Hence Jehovah, to strengthen Him, calls Himself in relation to Him His God, that has power over the sea, to raise it up and, naturally, to quiet it again (Isaiah 17:12-23.17.13; Isaiah 23:11; Isaiah 50:2; Isaiah 51:10). Jehovah Sabaoth is this God called, as Lord of the heavenly hosts. Shall He that has dominion over the powers of heaven not have dominion also over the powers of the earth?

The expression רָגַע הַיָם “to arouse the sea” occurs first Job 26:12. Afterwards comes our text, and our text is literally reproduced by Jeremiah 31:35. [The Author has an argument that follows here to prove that the language is original with Isaiah, and borrowed by Jeremiah. This is reproduced in brief in the Introduction, pp. 23, 24. The present amplification adds nothing to the clearness of it, and is omitted to save space. As an argument it is not forcible. His explanation is that Jeremiah uses the language in question to denote “a regularly recurring motion of the sea,” and that the ebb and flow of the tide must be meant, because that is the only firmly established ordinance for the sea’s motion that can be classified with the sun, moon and stars, and made a type of the stability of God’s covenant with His people. But the context of Jeremiah 31:35 does not require us to think that Jeremiah gives this application to the language. Moreover רָגַע in any of its accepted meanings is unsuitable to express such motion as the tide. Besides, to Hebrews, remote as they were from the ocean, the tide was an unfamiliar phenomenon, and thus does not appear in their literature. And it may be said that, in relation to our Isaiah 51:13 a. the notion of phenomenal stability is as much demanded for Isaiah 51:15 as in Jeremiah 31:35.

The best treatment of the attempt to prove that our text is borrowed from Jeremiah, and therefore not genuine Isaianic, is to ignore it as frivolous. Still, perhaps, the scrutiny which the debate occasions may lead to a more exact understanding of the language in question. The LXX render Job 26:12, דָגַע הַיָם, κατέπαυσε τὴν θάλασσαν. The Author’s discussion of רָגַע under Isaiah 51:4 shows how ambiguous the word is in itself, and that we must rely on our tact and the context to determine its meaning. The general scriptural appeal to the sea as proof of God’s power, is to the evidence it gives of His controlling it. It is the sea that rages, He settles it and holds it in bounds. Comp. Job 38:8-18.38.11, and Christ stilling the tempest Mark 4:35 sqq. It seems preferable therefore to accept Lowth’s rendering. “He who stilleth the sea, though the waves thereof roar,” which also Barnes adopts. Tr.]

The words Isaiah 51:16 can only be spoken to the Servant of God. “I have put My words in Thy mouth” designates both the task and the equipment the Servant of God receives. The words recall Isaiah 49:2, where it is said: “And He hath made My mouth like a sharp sword.” The Servant of God must proclaim the will of God. To be able to do this, He must be able to find the proper, powerful, incisive words (Hebrews 4:12). This comes about by God’s word being put into His mouth. If the wrath of men that are enemies to the truth be thereby aroused, the Lord protects Him: “I have covered Thee in the shadow of My hand.” The same is said Isaiah 49:2, in almost the same words of the Servant of the Lord, viz., בְּצַל יָדוֹ הֶחְבִּיאָֽנִי. By this means the Servant of God will be preserved and enabled to carry out His work. The aim of this work is that He may plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth. Who must this Servant of God be to whom is assigned such a task? What heaven shall He plant? what earth shall He found? Certainly not the old heaven and the old earth that have already been planted and founded, but which, too, are destined, according to Isaiah 51:6 “to vanish away like smoke, and wax old like a garment,” in that assize that the Servant of God will hold. But the Servant of God will plant a new heaven and found a new earth (Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22; Revelation 21:1). Concerning the way in which He has done this see under Doctrinal and Ethical, p. 559, § 6. But the new heaven and the new earth are also a dwelling for the people of God, the Ἰσραὴλ πνευματικός, which of course has not proceeded merely from the Twelve Tribes. Nevertheless the historical Israel constitutes the frame into which the new humanity will be joined on as members. Hence, as is said Isaiah 66:22 : “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me,—so shall your seed and your name remain,” so here the people that is to populate the new heaven and new earth is called Zion. Jerusalem, which is from above is the mother of us all, says Paul (Galatians 4:26).

Those that do not recognize the Servant of God as the speaker in Isaiah 51:1-23.51.8, must, in order to get tolerable sense out of our passage, assume that Jehovah is the subject of “to plant,” “to found” and “to say.” Let this even be justified respecting “to plant” and “to found,” yet it remains inexplicable how Jehovah should put His word in Zion’s mouth, in order that He, Jehovah, may say: thou art My people.—Others, as Hitzig, take the three infinitives in a gerundive sense: in planting a heaven, and founding an earth, and saying to Zion, etc. Apart from the planting and founding of heaven and earth being made to mean only a new order of things on this earth, or even a new founding of Israel as a state, one can never prove that the Lordthereby put His word into the mouth of His Servant, and thereby protected Him, in that He renewed heaven and earth. For it is inconceivable that the Servant of the Lord will still stand in need of inspiration after heaven and earth are become new.—Less justifiable still, grammatically, is the exposition of Hahn, who would take לנטע וגוי simply as a paraphrase of the future: I will plant. He appeals to the usage that permits the use of הָיָה with following לְ and the infin. constr. to paraphrase the verb. fin. But there can be no mention of this here, not, indeed, because היה is wanting, which would make no difference, but because the subject is wanting. For according to Hahnלגטע וגו׳ should represent an independent sentence. But for that at least a subject were requisite. It must at least read אָנֹכִי לִנְטֹעַ. But as a subject is every way wanting, it follows, necessarily, that לנטע וגוי can only be construed as a dependent infinitive clause.



[5]As he took aim.

[6]Or, made himself ready.

[7]The one bowed down hastens.

[8]he will not die away to the pit, and will not want his bread.


[10][stilleth, Lowth.—TR.]

[11]To plant—to lay, etc.


Isaiah 51:17-23.51.23

17          Awake! Awake! stand up, O Jerusalem,

Which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury;
Thou hast drunken the 12dregs of the cup of 13trembling,

And 14wrung them out.

18     There is none to guide her

Among all the sons whom she hath brought forth;

Neither is there any that taketh her by the hand

Of all the sons that she hath brought up.

19     These two things 1are come unto thee;

Who shall be sorry for thee?

15Desolation, and 16destruction, and the famine, and the sword:

17By whom shall I comfort thee?

20     Thy sons 18have fainted.

They lie at the head of all the streets, as a 19wild bull in a net:

20They are full of the fury of the Lord,

The rebuke of thy God.

21     Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted,

And drunken, but not with wine:

22     Thus saith thy Lord the Lord,

And thy God that 21pleadeth the cause of his people,

Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of htrembling,

Even the 22dregs of the cup of my fury;

Thou shalt no more drink it again:

23     But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee:

Which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over:
And thou hast laid thy body as the ground,
And 23as the street, to them that went over.


See List for the recurrence of the words: Isaiah 51:17. מָצָה. Isaiah 51:19. חרברעבהַשֹּׁד וְהַשֶּׁבֶר. Isaiah 51:20. מִכְמָרעָלַף. Isaiah 51:21.שְׁבֻרָה. Isaiah 51:22. אֲדֹנִים. Isaiah 51:23. מוֹגִים.

Isaiah 51:18. Note the many liquidae, and the likeness in sound of the conclusion of both halves of the verse. Both impart to the words a character of tenderness, sadness.

Isaiah 51:19. Here, too, both halves of the verse have a similar conclusion. For the two interjection-like parentheses מי ינוד לך and אנחמך, each beginning with מִי, are two rhymes in sentiment. The form of expression שׁתים הנה recalls Job 13:20; Proverbs 30:7; comp. Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 15:3. קֹרְאֹת (from &#קָרָא קָרָה Isaiah 60:18), and also &שֹׁד מי ינוד לך and מי אנחמך are undeniable points of contact between our text and Nahum 3:7. For our קֹרְאֹתַיִךְ answers to the רֹאַיִךְ there; our שֹׁד to שָדּדָה there; our מיאנחמך to the מֵאַיִן אֲבַקֵּשׁ מֲנזחֲמִים לָךְ there.—מי in the concluding question מי אנחמך can only mean quails. It is properly an abbreviation of מִי אָנכִי וַאֲנַחֲמֵךְ, answering to the מִי־אַתְּ וַתִּירְאִי, Isaiah 51:12.

Isaiah 51:20. מִכְמָר means the same as מִכְּמֶרֶת (Isaiah 19:8; Habakkuk 1:15-35.1.16) and מִכְמרֹ Psalms 141:10).—שְׁכֻרָה part. pass, only here, comp. Isaiah 29:9; the st. constr. is explained by all that follows being conceived of as one notion, a very common construction in Isaiah 5:11; Isaiah 8:6; Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 28:9; Isaiah 16:6,19; Isaiah 56:9-23.56.10, etc.

Isaiah 51:22. אֲדֹנִים of Jehovah only here.—רִיב with that for which God contends in the accusative as in Isaiah 1:17; comp. on Isaiah 49:25.

Isaiah 51:23. מוֹגִים “tormentors,” occurs only here in Isaiah, but occurs oftenest in Lamentations, where, however, it is used only of God who visits men with tribulation (Lamentations 1:5; Lamentations 1:12; Lamentations 3:32-25.3.33). Only in Job 19:2, is it used, as here, of men who torment the souls of their fellow-men. Perhaps the latter passage was in the mind of the Prophet. It favors this that he continues: “Which have said to thy soul.”—Our text is the only one in all the Old Testament where the Kal. שָׁחָה occurs. With this exception the verb is only used in Hithp.—לַעֹבְרִים may depend on תָּשִׂימִי, hut also on כַּחוּץ. The latter is more likely: first, because of the position; second, because just in the connection with חוץ there is a strengthening of the thought. For the earth is not chiefly destined to serve the use of the עֹבְרִים; but such is the special destination of a street.


1. The reverse side of the redemption of Israel is here presented, viz., the judgment on the enemies of the Theocracy (comp. Isaiah 11:14; Isaiah 14:2; Isaiah 25:10 sqq.; Isaiah 34:1 sqq., etc.), as if to strengthen the effect of light by contrast with its corresponding shadow. But now it is the Prophet that speaks, as if he, too, on his part would induce Israel to take cheerful courage from God’s word. Perhaps this section is meant to form a transition to chap. 52. For instance, in this Isaiah 51:17-23.51.23 the population of Jerusalem is addressed, whereas chap. 52. speaks of the holy nation reunited to the holy places.

2. Awake——rebuke of thy God.

Isaiah 51:17-23.51.20. The double התעוררי corresponds to the double עורי (Isaiah 51:9) and אנכי (Isaiah 51:12). In relation to עורי, the Hithp. involves the idea of self as an object,=“rouse thyself.” Jerusalem must not persist in a state devoid of comfort and courage; it must wake itself up, cheer up, rouse itself (comp. Isaiah 64:6). It has received from the hand of its Lord the cup of His fury, which by its intoxicating contents, is also a cup of reeling, and has drunk it to the dregs, even sipped it empty. The figure of the cup of wrath is found also Psalms 75:9; Jeremiah 25:15; Jeremiah 25:17; Jeremiah 25:28; Jeremiah 49:12; Jeremiah 51:7; Habakkuk 2:16; Ezekiel 23:31 sqq.: Lamentations 4:21. The figure of drinking divine fury occurs already Job 21:20, and beside that Obadiah 1:16; Jeremiah 48:26. קֻבַּעַת (comp. &בּוֹבַע קוֹבַע “a helmet,” κύβη, cupa, Passow, s. v.), the helm-like, rounded [convex] top of the cup, occurs only here and Isaiah 51:22. תַּרְעֵלָה (comp. רְעָלוֹת3:19) that denotes the effect of the drink, beside here and Isaiah 51:17, occurs only Psalms 60:5. The intensifying of the figure by וּמָצִית occurs for substance Obadiah 1:16, by the same word Psalms 75:9 (8), and (which is probably an imitation of our text) Ezekiel 23:34. In Isaiah 51:18 the figure of the drunken woman is continued by saying, that none of the sons of Zion have been in condition to lead their drunken mother. What the Prophet means by this figure appears from Isaiah 51:20. “What is said figuratively in Isaiah 51:17-23.51.18, is said without figure in Isaiah 51:19-23.51.20. Answering to the full cup, Jerusalem’s misfortune is Isaiah 51:19, represented as a double one, each half, of which is again divided into two parts, so that there results a sort of arithmetical progression. See Text. and Gram. Whether our text or the similar one in Nahum 3:7 is the original, in my opinion, cannot be doubtful. Manifestly the passage in Isaiah is bolder, of more original construction, it even sounds harsh compared with the smooth form in which it appears in Nahum. The two interjectional clauses have disappeared. The bold, and difficult מי אנחמך is resolved into the sober: “whence shall I seek comforters for thee?” And it may be further remarked, that מִי appears to be referred to a human subject and not to the person of Jehovah. Thus it may be said, that the modern expositors, who following the LXX. and Vulg. take אנחמך without further ado for י‌‍מד (Boettcher, N. ex. krit. Æhrenlese, Nr. 765), or construe מִי> as acc. Instrument. (Hitzig.), have their predecessor already in Nahum. נוּד is “commiserari, to compassionate, sympathize with,” and occurs with following לֽ and נַחֵם also Job 2:11; Job 42:11; comp. Jeremiah 15:5; Jeremiah 16:6; Jeremiah 22:10; Jeremiah 48:17.

Each of the two evils that come on Jerusalem is, according to the parenthesis, represented as a whole consisting of two parts. The first whole is called הַשֹׁד וְהַשֶׁבֶר “the blow and the downfall” [E. V., “desolation and destruction”]. The two words occur together as here Isaiah 59:7; Isaiah 60:18; Jeremiah 48:3, which last text seems to lean on Isaiah 60:18, because in both שׁד ושׁבר is spoken of as something audible. While “the blow” and “the downfall” primarily concern the city as a complex of buildings, רעב and חרב “hunger and sword” relate to the persons. The conjunction of these words occurs in Isaiah only here. It occurs more frequently in Jer., and Ezek. (Jeremiah 14:15-24.14.16; Jeremiah 21:7, etc.; Ezekiel 14:21; Ezekiel 6:11; Ezekiel 12:16). Isaiah 51:20 corresponds to Isaiah 51:18, explaining what has rendered the sons of Jerusalem incapable of helping their mother. They were themselves overtaken by the destroying woe. עָלַף, which occurs only in Pual and Hithp., means “to be enveloped, especially by a night of tribulation” (comp. Amos 8:13). The Prophet graphically describes the scenes that took place in the city just taken. Thy sons are not small children as in Lamentations 2:11-25.2.12; Lamentations 4:4, but children in general, and especially the sons that ought to be able to help their mother. At the corner of all the streets these unfortunate children lie. This expression, also, appears in Nahum 3:10, as if borrowed from our passage (comp. Lamentations 2:19; Lamentations 4:1), and Nahum seems to have taken our passage in the sense of Isaiah 13:16, in as much as he writes גַּם עֹלָלֶיהָ יְרֻטְּשׁוּ בְּתוֹא כָּל־חוּצוֹת. The vigorous, and genuinely Isaianic expression כְּתוֹא מִכְמָר proves the originality of our passage. The children of Jerusalem are compared to an antelope entangled in a net, and making desperate, but vain efforts to free itself. תוא occurs again only Deuteronomy 14:5, and is there pointed תְּאוֹ. It signifies a large kind of antelope, classified among the clean beasts, fit for food. Comp. Bochart, Hieroz. Tom. II. p. 367, ed. Lips., and especially the remarks of Rosenmueller, pp. 369,281. המלאים is in apposition with בָּנַיִךְ. The words form, so to speak, the bridge between the figure of the cup of fury, Isaiah 51:17 and the literal description in Isaiah 51:20 a. so that Isaiah 51:20 a. is a description of the effect of the cup of fury.

3. Therefore hear——went over.

Isaiah 51:21-23.51.23. Having, from Isaiah 51:17 on, described the effect of the cup of fury, the Prophet now gives his reason for calling to Jerusalem “rouse thyself.” Jerusalem, that hitherto was wretched (Isaiah 10:30; Isaiah 54:11), that was drunken but not with wine, but with misery, shall hear (Isaiah 47:8) that its Lord, Jehovah, its God, who represents His people in the judicial contest (רִיב see Text. and Gram.), takes the cup of fury out of their hand, and gives it into the hand of their enemies. The thought is the same as Obadiah 1:16; Jeremiah 49:12; Jeremiah 48:26. By the departure of the cup of fury from the hand of Jerusalem into the hand of its enemy is revealed the rule of the divine nemesis. The enemies had provoked this by the arrogance with which they had illtreated and abused Jerusalem. The expression: which said to thy soul, bow down, beside being an echo of Job 19:2, is a sort of metonymy. For what the humiliation feels is named as that which the outward act suffers. The figure indicates how wicked and excessive had been the ill usage inflicted on Israel (comp. Isaiah 10:5 sqq.; Jeremiah 51:20 sqq). [See Barnesin loc., for rich illustration of the final clause from oriental usages.—Tr.].


[12]Heb. happened.


[14]sipped it.

[15]The blow and the downfall.

[16]Heb. breaking.


[18]are benighted.


[20]They that.


[22][convex] top of.

[23]as a street for passengers


1. On Isaiah 51:1-23.51.3. Here one clearly recognizes the evangelist of the Old Testament. Is it not as if we heard Paul, who wrote Romans 4:11 sqq.; Galatians 3:6 sqq.? Abraham, says Isaiah, is not merely the rock from which ye are hewn, i.e. he is not merely your fleshly ancestor. Look also on his faith. Become also his spiritual children! “And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully persuaded that what He had promised He was able to perform “(Romans 4:19-45.4.21). So ye should have a firm faith that God can make also the ruins of Zion into an Eden, and her waste places into a garden of God. And this hope we ought ever to have respecting the Church of the Lord. If it has even become a “solitarius Abraham et sicut desertum et ruina,” still it may hope to become a paradise and garden of God. And just so may the individual “episcopus et pastor” cheer himself in such a away, “ut credat, ministeriam, suum non esse inefficax, etiamsi in specie nullus fructus videatur sequi” (Luther).

2. On Isaiah 51:4-23.51.6. The time when the gospel, the tidings of justification by faith, went forth into the world was at once a time of salvation and of judgment. For these tidings were despised by the Jews and received with joy by the Gentiles. Hence Jerusalem was destroyed. That was the beginning of the judgment of the world, which needed to happen to the house of God. Had Israel received the gospel, it would have disappeared among the Gentiles. We see this daily in the case of single Israelitish families that are converted to Christianity. They mix with the Gentiles and disappear in their preponderant numbers. Such would have been the case with all Israel had the nation en masse believed on Christ. Just by its unbelief it was preserved as a nation. At last, when the fulness of the Gentiles shall have entered in, all Israel, too, will become believing. That is, the ἐκλογή, the remnant, will become so. All the rest of Israel, all the ’Ἰσραὴλ σαρκικός, will be overtaken by the judgment, and, with the earthly heaven and the earthly earth and all earthly minded men on it, they shall pass away like smoke in the wind, or like a garment consumed by fire. But everything that will have laid hold on the salvation of the Servant of God and His righteousness shall be called Zion, and will belong to the Bride of the Lord, whose wedding-day will then have come. The people of Israel will, indeed, even then retain their individuality, as generally every creature that becomes new in the kingdom of God will retain its specific peculiarity. Indeed, Israel will ever remain what it was: the son of the house, the first-born. But then it will assume this position without prejudice or disregard of the Gentile world, and without danger for itself. For no one will then any more be able to make of any avail personal reputation or personal merit, but all will recognize that they are what they are by God’s grace.

3. On Isaiah 51:7-23.51.8. Jerome says of the רֹדכֵּי צֶדֶק and the עַם תּוֹרָתִי בְלִבָּם, that they are those “qui habeant legem, quam per Jeremiam Dominus pollicitur, dicens, ‘statuam testamentum novum, non juxta testamentum, quod deposui patribus eorum; sed statuam testamentum, dans leges meas in mentibus eorum (Jeremiah 31:31 sqq.),’ ut nequaquam vivant juxta literam, sed juxta spiritum instaurantes naturalem legem in cordibus suis (Romans 2:14; Psalms 37:30-19.37.31).” But those who have the law of the Servant of God in their hearts, stand in the directest opposition to the world, and have only to expect the hatred of the world in the highest degree; yet even alone they are strong against the world, and need not fear its rage (Matthew 5:11-40.5.12; Matthew 10:28).

4. On Isaiah 51:9-23.51.11. “Dicit ‘consurge,’ perinde atque si Deus altum somnum dormiat.” Luther. Comp. the sleeping of Jesus in the boat (Matthew 8:24 sqq.—“Arise! So the pious pray, not because they believe God is lying idle in heaven, but because they confess their slothfulness and their ignorance, inasmuch as they are unable to think of God as long as they do not feel His help. But although the flesh supposes He sleeps, and that He does not concern Himself about our suffering, yet faith raises itself higher up and lays hold on God’s everlasting power.” Heim u. Hoffmann.—”Sentit ecclesia suam Aegyptum et premitur variis tentationibus mundi, Satanae et conscientiae. Christus tamen promittit: tristitia vestra vertetur in gaudiam. … Sed hoc molestum est, quod Christus et Petrus dicunt, modicum expectandum esse. Videtur enim hoc modicum turn, cum in tentatione sumus, aeternitas quaedam esse, quare opus habemus his consolationibus verbi.” Luther.—“As the Prophets appeal to previous examples, and, as has happened a little before, the Prophet Isaiah quotes Abraham’s history, and here recalls that of Pharaoh, thus the ancient books of Moses are canonized and confirmed, so that one may not doubt their certainty.” Cramer.—“As the people of Israel in the Babylonian captivity sighed for deliverance and said: If the Lord will redeem the captives of Zion, then we will be like those that dream; then our mouth shall be full of laughter, and our tongue full of singing (Psalms 126:1-19.126.2); and as the most ardent longings of the believers in the ancient world were for the coming of Christ in the flesh, as old Jacob says: ‘I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord’ (Genesis 49:18), so we are to long for nothing more than for the coming of Christ to judgment, in which also John precedes us with the words: ‘Even so come, Lord Jesus!’ after it was said: ‘I come quickly. Amen’ (Revelation 22:20). When, therefore, we hear of the signs of the coming of Christ, we should raise up our heads because our salvation draws near (Luke 21:18). There will be no more suffering, cry, pain (Revelation 21:4), but fulness of joy and lovely existence at the right hand of God forevermore (Psalms 16:11).” Renner.

5. On Isaiah 51:12-23.51.14. “I, I comfort thee. Not gold, not silver, not honor, not the world, but my word, my Spirit, shall keep and protect thee. Thou fearest men that terrify thee. Why then dost thou not let thyself be raised up when I comfort? For I am God that fill heaven and earth. They are water-bubbles, moths, stalks of straw, drops in the bucket, dust in the balance, burning thorns. I am a comforter, not alarmer, although the flesh in time of tribulation so judges. I am thy Creator, not thine executioner or tormentor, and my power is so great that I have spread out the heavens and founded the earth. Hence thou hast no cause to fear that I have not strength enough to redeem thee.” Heim and Hoffmann.—“God often withdraws from us consolationes rerum, so that the consolatio verbi may have room and operation with us.” Foerster.—“What is man? What is he good for? What can he profit, or what harm can he do (Sir 18:7; Psalms 56:12; Psalms 118:6)? And if God be for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)? As is to be seen in the examples of Pharaoh, Sennacherib and countless others.” Cramer.

6. On Isaiah 51:15-23.51.16. In the second Psalm it is said: “Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth … cast away their cords from us.” And in Psalms 16:0 : “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar,” etc. The Lord who has power over the sea, and over those powers that rage like the sea, protects His servant against this raging. The Servant of the Lord does not speak of himself, but what He speaks He speaks as the Father has said to Him (John 12:49-43.12.50). And even if what He has spoken and done according to the Father’s will bring Him on the cross, still this bitter day of death is followed by a glorious day of resurrection. And this day of the resurrection is a second creative day. It is the beginning of a new and better world. The glorified life, which in Christ entered into this world out of the cavern of the grave, was not confined to His person. Rather it has penetrated from Him forth, by word and sacrament, to all men. As through the first Adam death seized also the creation, so through the second Adam the glorified life communicates itself to the whole creation. Not only a new humanity will be formed from Him, but a new heaven and a new earth. Thus it can be said of the Servant of God, that He plants the heaven and lays the foundation of the earth.

7. On Isaiah 51:15-23.51.16. “Comfort for the sacred office of the ministry. 1) On account of the founder, who is God Himself. As the great lords, when they issue commands, use their titles in advance, and subscribe themselves by their lands and peoples, so God does also, who is the Lord of hosts. He is strong and reputable enough. 2) This founder and beginner Himself makes those in the gospel ministry capable persons to discharge the office of the Spirit. For our ability is of God (2 Corinthians 3:5). 3) The word that they preach is not their own, but God’s word, which He Himself puts into their mouths (Matthew 10:20). 4) God takes the preachers under His guidance, protection and shelter, and covers them under the shadow of His hand, hides them secretly with Himself against every man’s arrogance (Psalms 31:21). 6) Their office is dear and precious before God, because through them not only are the foundations of the earth laid, but also heaven is set with glorious plants of honor that shall grow and bloom in all eternity to the glory of God.”—Cramer.


1. On Isaiah 51:4-23.51.6. Missionary Sermon. The Lord says: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:14. According to this, there is a close connection between missions and the judgment of the world. The former belongs to the preliminary conditions of the latter. The judgment of the world does not come before missions have accomplished their task, and at the same time missions offer to men what they must have in order to be able to stand in judgment. If now, beside this, all believing souls long for the second coming of the Lord, because only by that will our redemption be accomplished (Luke 21:18), and the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer be heard, so, from the view-point of Christianity, the wish is justified, that missions may soon accomplish their work, that the day of the Lord may soon come. In this lies a motive to be, not neglectful, but diligent and zealous in missionary labor. Thus we may discourse in this wise on the connection between the last judgment and missions, and show: 1) how the coming of the judgment depends on missions accomplishing their task (Isaiah 51:4-23.51.5, the law of the Lord and His righteousness are here; the isles wait. Let us bring to them the former; the sooner they come to all nations, the sooner will the Lord come also, and with Him our redemption). 2) How standing in judgment depends on the acceptance of what missions offer (Isaiah 51:6, he that has the righteousness of Christ will not despond; he that has it not, will perish).

2. On Isaiah 51:7-23.51.8. Consolation in time of persecution. Why the children of God need not fear the hostility of the World. 1) Because they are strong (the law of God is in their hearts, they have the righteousness that avails with God; God Himself lives in them with His Spirit and His strength; their cause is God’s cause, therefore the power of God is on their side). 2) Because the world is weak (its power is only apparent; the world is inwardly hollow, untrue, therefore forsaken of God, and judged, and this condition of being judged must in a short time become manifest).

3. On Isaiah 51:9-23.51.11. These words, too, can be applied to address consolation to the Church. The appeal is to the facts by which the Lord even in ancient time proved His saving power, especially by redeeming the people of Israel out of Egyptian bondage, and by leading them through the Red Sea. God is still the same that He was then. His arm is still just as strong. Therefore He can do again what He did then. Hence the children of God, to-day also, have nothing to fear from the fury of the dragon, from the deep waters through which they must pass. They shall arrive prosperously at their goal, and everlasting joy shall be their portion (Isaiah 66:14; John 16:22).

4. On Isaiah 51:12-23.51.14. Warning against the fear of man. 1) It is a sin. For it is to forget what God has already done for us, and what He promises. 2) It is folly; for men are powerless and perishing.

5. On Isaiah 51:15-23.51.16. Even though the world tosses and rages ever so much, still let us hold fast to Jesus Christ the Son of God; for in Him we find 1) the divine truth, 2) the most powerful protection, 3) participation in divine glory (the new heaven and new earth).

6. On Isaiah 51:17-23.51.23. A call to the Church militant. Two things are certainly in prospect for it: 1) That here on earth, for its trial and purification, it must empty the cup of wrath; 2) That, after it has drunk, the cup of wrath shall be put into the hands of its enemies that they may be judged, while it is saved.

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Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Isaiah 51". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.