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Bible Commentaries

Utley's You Can Understand the Bible

Isaiah 60

Isaiah 60:0

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASBNKJVNRSVTEVNJB
A Glorified ZionThe Gentiles Bless ZionJerusalem's Glorious RestorationThe Future Glory of JerusalemThe Splendor of Jerusalem
Isaiah 60:1-3(1-3)Isaiah 60:1-3(1-3)Isaiah 60:1-3(1-3)Isaiah 60:1-3(1-3)Isaiah 60:1-11(1-11)
Isaiah 60:4-9(4-9)Isaiah 60:4-7(4-7)Isaiah 60:4-16(4-16)Isaiah 60:4-5(4-5)
Isaiah 60:6-7(6-7)
Isaiah 60:8-9(8-9) Isaiah 60:8-9(8-9)
Isaiah 60:10-14(10-14)Isaiah 60:10-12(10-12) Isaiah 60:10-12(10-12)
Isaiah 60:12(12)
Isaiah 60:13-14(13-14) Isaiah 60:13-14(13-14)Isaiah 60:13-18(13-18)
Isaiah 60:15-22(15-22)Isaiah 60:15-16(15-16) Isaiah 60:15-16(15-16)
Isaiah 60:17-18(17-18)Isaiah 60:17-22(17-22)Isaiah 60:17-18(17-18)
God the Glory of His People
Isaiah 60:19-22(19-22) Isaiah 60:19-22(19-22)Isaiah 60:19-22(19-22)

READING CYCLE THREE (see Guide to Good Bible Reading)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. There is a radical change in the mood between Isaiah 59:0 and Isa. 60-62.

B. Isa. 60-62 form a unit that deals with the glorious future of God's people as depicted in the restoration of Jerusalem.

Verses 1-3

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Isaiah 60:1-3 1”Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you. 3Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.

Isaiah 60:1 “Arise, shine” Two Qal IMPERATIVES implore the covenant people to be what they were called to be for themselves and for the world.

Light is a recurrent metaphor in this chapter to describe:

1. God's presence, Isaiah 60:1; Isaiah 60:1, Isaiah 60:2, Isaiah 60:9-20; Revelation 21:23; Revelation 22:5

2. spiritual holiness, Isaiah 60:1, Isaiah 60:3, Isaiah 60:5, Isaiah 60:21; Isaiah 62:1

3. this recurring metaphor of light in Isaiah (cf. Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 58:8; Isaiah 59:9)

“your light has come” The subject of Isaiah 60:1-22 is “Zion” (cf. Isaiah 60:14), which symbolizes the people of God.

The common VERB “come” (BDB 97, KB 112) is used several times in this chapter.

1. has come - Qal PERFECT, Isaiah 60:1

2. come - Qal PERFECT, Isaiah 60:4

3. will come - Qal IMPERFECT, Isaiah 60:4

4. will come - Qal IMPERFECT, Isaiah 60:5

5. will come - Qal IMPERFECT, Isaiah 60:6

6. will bring - Hiphil INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT, Isaiah 60:6

7. bring - same as #6, Isaiah 60:11

8. will come - Qal IMPERFECT, Isaiah 60:13

9-10. will bring - Hiphil IMPERFECT, twice, Isaiah 60:17

11. will set - Qal IMPERFECT, Isaiah 60:20

Remember the time element is not in the Hebrew VERB but in its use in context.

“the glory of the LORD” This is parallel to “light” in line 1. It is used in other places in Isaiah connected to light/lights (cf. Isaiah 24:23; Isaiah 58:8) and agricultural abundance (cf. Isaiah 35:2). The Hebrew term for “glory” (BDB 458), because of its association with the Shekinah cloud of glory (cf. Exodus 13:21-22; Exodus 14:19, Exodus 14:20, Exodus 14:24; Exodus 19:16-18; Exodus 20:21), symbolized YHWH's personal presence with the Israelites during the Exodus. Fire and lightning were associated with the coming of YHWH to Mt. Sinai (cf. Exodus 19-20), so brightness became an aspect of “glory.”

Isaiah 60:2 This has some allusion to the physical darkness of Genesis 1:1-2 or Exodus 10:21-23 or even Isaiah 9:2, and the spiritual darkness caused by sin. YHWH will not allow the darkness of the Fall (cf. Genesis 3:0), which covers all humans, to remain. His light of revelation and salvation will rise (Qal IMPERFECT, BDB 280, KB 281).

Isaiah 60:3 “Nations will come to your light” It is obvious that God's original purpose for Israel was to bring the world to Himself (cf. Isaiah 61:6, Isaiah 61:11b; Isaiah 62:2, Isaiah 62:11; Genesis 12:3; Exodus 19:5-6). See Special Topic at Isaiah 40:15.

Of all the prophets, with the possible exceptions of Micah and Jonah, it is Isaiah who saw the universal implications of

1. monotheism

2. OT Patriarchal promises

3. Israel's evangelistic purpose

Note Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 45:14, Isaiah 45:22-25; Isaiah 49:23. This is surely the precursor of John 3:16; John 4:42; 1 Timothy 2:4; Titus 2:11; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:1; 1 John 4:14. The NT, following the teachings of Jesus, universalized the OT promises to Israel (cf. Genesis 12:3; Exodus 19:5), to the whole world (cf. Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8).

Verses 4-9

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Isaiah 60:4-9 4”Lift up your eyes round about and see; They all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, And your daughters will be carried in the arms. 5Then you will see and be radiant, And your heart will thrill and rejoice; Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, The wealth of the nations will come to you. 6A multitude of camels will cover you, The young camels of Midian and Ephah; All those from Sheba will come; They will bring gold and frankincense, And will bear good news of the praises of the LORD. 7All the flocks of Kedar will be gathered together to you, The rams of Nebaioth will minister to you; They will go up with acceptance on My altar, And I shall glorify My glorious house. 8Who are these who fly like a cloud And like the doves to their lattices? 9Surely the coastlands will wait for Me; And the ships of Tarshish will come first, To bring your sons from afar, Their silver and their gold with them, For the name of the LORD your God, And for the Holy One of Israel because He has glorified you.

Isaiah 60:4 “Lift up. . .see” These are two Qal IMPERATIVES (cf. Isaiah 49:18; John 4:35). IMPERATIVES often begin a new strophe.

“Your sons will come from afar” In chapters 60-62, there are two major eschatological signs that deal with traveling.

1. the people of God will return to their ancestral home, symbolized by the city of Jerusalem

2. the nations, instead of taking the Jews prisoner and deporting them, will flow into the people of God with gifts and praise

Isaiah 60:5 As a result of God's repentant people “seeing” (Qal IMPERFECT, BDB 906, KB 1157), notice the stated consequences of seeing the light of God (cf. Isaiah 60:1, Isaiah 60:4, Isaiah 60:19, Isaiah 60:20).

1. be radiant - Qal PERFECT, BDB 626, KB 676

2. thrill (lit. tremble) - Qal PERFECT, BDB 808, KB 922

3. rejoice - Qal PERFECT, BDB 931, KB 1210

The reasons for this hope and joy are God's gracious acts.

1. the abundance of the seas will be turned to you (i.e., the wealth of the seafaring peoples)

2. the wealth of the nations will come to you (cf. Isaiah 60:6-7, Isaiah 60:11; Isaiah 61:6)

These parallel lines of poetry describe the gratitude of the nations for Israel's

1. revealing of YHWH

2. bringing the reality of YHWH's presence to earth

3. opening a way for their inclusion to God's covenant family (cf. Isaiah 56:7)

Isaiah 60:6 “will bear good news of the praises of the LORD” The VERB (Piel IMPERFECT, BDB 142, KB 163) refers to the grace of God to Israel and to all nations (cf. Isaiah 40:9-10; Isaiah 41:27; Isaiah 42:10-13; Isaiah 52:7). Isn't it shocking to hear of the pagan nations praising the God of Israel? This is the obvious theological goal of monotheism (see Special Topic at Isaiah 40:14). There is one God and all humans are created in His image and likeness (cf. Genesis 1:26-27) for fellowship (implication of Genesis 3:8; Leviticus 26:12). The promise of Genesis 3:15 to all humans and the hope of covenant blessings to the families of the earth in Genesis 12:3 have come to fruition.

Isaiah 60:7 “Nabaioth” This refers to Arabian tribes, as the phrase, “the flocks of Kedar,” does. This tribe is mentioned in Genesis 25:13. They are called the Nabateans by the Greeks and Romans.

Isaiah 60:8 “Who are these who fly like a cloud And like the doves to their lattices” This refers to sails of ships on the horizon coming to the restored and renewed Jerusalem (cf. Isaiah 60:9).

Isaiah 60:9 “Surely the coastlands will wait for Me” The “coastlands” (or “islands”) is used in this section of Isaiah as a metaphor for all Gentiles.

The VERB “wait” (Piel IMPERFECT, BDB 875, KB 1082) is often used of trusting in YHWH (cf. Isaiah 8:17; Isaiah 25:9; Isaiah 26:8; Isaiah 33:2). Notice how it is used of YHWH in Isaiah 30:18!

“the ships of Tarshish” Tarshish could refer to

1. Southern Spain

2. Sardinia

3. a proverbial use of the ends of the earth

See Special Topic: Tarshish.

Notice the covenant names for Deity (also notice Isaiah 60:14, Isaiah 60:16).

1. YHWH (God as Savior and Redeemer)

2. Elohim (God as creator and provider)

3. Holy One of Israel (covenant God)

See Special Topic: Names for Deity.

Verses 10-14

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Isaiah 60:10-14 10”Foreigners will build up your walls, And their kings will minister to you; For in My wrath I struck you, And in My favor I have had compassion on you. 11Your gates will be open continually; They will not be closed day or night, So that men may bring to you the wealth of the nations, With their kings led in procession. 12For the nation and the kingdom which will not serve you will perish, And the nations will be utterly ruined. 13The glory of Lebanon will come to you, The juniper, the box tree and the cypress together, To beautify the place of My sanctuary; And I shall make the place of My feet glorious. 14The sons of those who afflicted you will come bowing to you, And all those who despised you will bow themselves at the soles of your feet; And they will call you the city of the LORD, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 60:10 “For in My wrath I struck you,

And in My favor I have had compassion on you” Here we see the two major actions of YHWH in the Bible: His grace (long term, cf. Psalms 103:10-14) and His wrath (short term, cf. Isaiah 57:16; Psalms 103:9). His judgment is parental in nature and meant to cause His creation to return to Him (cf. Romans 1-3; Hebrews 12:1-13).

Isaiah 60:11 “Your gates will be open continually” This phrase is used to show (1) security is assured (2) availability is certain (cf. Revelation 21:25).

Isaiah 60:12 “the nation and the kingdom which will not serve you will perish” This warning is similar to God's covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12:3 (cf. Genesis 27:29).

Isaiah 60:13 This verse speaks of the construction of a new Holy Place (i.e., temple) with the beautiful lumber from Lebanon.

“the place of My sanctuary; And I shall make the place of My feet glorious” The Ark of the Covenant and the Holy of Holies symbolize God's presence on earth. The Jews conceived of the space between the wings of the Cherubim as the footstool of God (cf. Psalms 99:5; Psalms 132:7); His throne was in heaven.

Isaiah 60:14 “Zion” The term “Zion” (BDB 851) is synonymous with the City of Jerusalem. The Temple was built on Mt. Moriah, but the city was seldom referred to by this term (cf. Isaiah 62:1).

Verses 15-22

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Isaiah 60:15-22 15”Whereas you have been forsaken and hated With no one passing through, I will make you an everlasting pride, A joy from generation to generation. 16You will also suck the milk of nations And suck the breast of kings; Then you will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. 17Instead of bronze I will bring gold, And instead of iron I will bring silver, And instead of wood, bronze, And instead of stones, iron. And I will make peace your administrators And righteousness your overseers. 18Violence will not be heard again in your land, Nor devastation or destruction within your borders; But you will call your walls salvation, and your gates praise. 19No longer will you have the sun for light by day, Nor for brightness will the moon give you light; But you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, And your God for your glory. 20Your sun will no longer set, Nor will your moon wane; For you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, And the days of your mourning will be over. 21Then all your people will be righteous; They will possess the land forever, The branch of My planting, The work of My hands, That I may be glorified. 22The smallest one will become a clan, And the least one a mighty nation. I, the LORD, will hasten it in its time.”

Isaiah 60:15-22 This passage is very similar to Revelation 21:1-27, which describes “New Jerusalem.” There have been two major opinions on the relationship of the OT promises to the NT:

1. They are meant to be taken literally and Jerusalem will be rebuilt with its central sacrificial temple, i.e., dispensational premillennialism.

2. These passages are symbolic of the church and their significance is caught up in the NT as the new people of God, i.e., a millennialism.

The same ambiguity can be seen in Isaiah 61:6, where Israel is referred to as a “Priests of the Lord” (cf. Exodus 19:6 “a Knowledge of Priests”). But these same terms are used in 1 Peter 2:5, 1 Peter 2:9 and Revelation 1:6 to describe the church. Israel's purpose has always been to bring the world to God (cf. Isaiah 62:2, Isaiah 62:11; see Special Topic at Isaiah 40:15). However, they failed and God has chosen the church to fulfill this task. See Special Topic: Why are End-time Events so Controversial?

Isaiah 60:15 “you have been forsaken and hated” This phrase is a Hebrew idiom relating to marriage. We can see this in the terms to describe “Leah” in Genesis 29:21ff. This same idiom of marriage is continued in Isaiah 62:4-5 and in the NT as the church in Ephesians 5:22-33. “Hate” is a Hebrew idiom of comparison.

Isaiah 60:17 This is possibly an allusion to 1 Kings 14:26-27 relating to the stripping of precious metals from the Temple to pay a tribute to Egypt.

“And I will make peace your administrators And righteousness your overseers” This may reflect the Messianic government mentioned in chapters 7-14.

Isaiah 60:18 This prophecy is surely not applicable to Israel's subsequent history! This seems to show the absence of social violence and problems in the Messianic Age.

Isaiah 60:19-20 John uses this imagery in Revelation 21:23; Revelation 22:5. YHWH's presence is the true light!

Isaiah 60:20 “your mourning will be over” A new day has/will dawn, cf. Isaiah 35:10; Isaiah 65:19; Revelation 21:4.

Isaiah 60:21 “all your people will be righteous” God's blessings will come only when the people repent (see Special Topic: Repentance in the Old Testament). He, Himself, will provide a new heart and a new mind (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:22-38).

This type of promise is the source of the theological debate over sovereignty and free will. Can fallen mankind do anything toward their own salvation or is everything (i.e., faith, repentance) a gift from God (cf. Acts 5:31; Acts 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25). Other texts point toward a preaching that draws humans to repent (i.e., free will response to a Divine offer, cf. Matthew 3:8; Luke 3:8; John 1:12; Acts 2:38; etc.). somehow both are biblical! This is the western problem with eastern paradox!

“They will possess the land forever” This may be an allusion to Genesis 17:8. The word “forever” is the interpretive problem. See Special Topic: Forever ('olam).

“The branch of My planting” This same metaphor is used in Isaiah 61:3. It seems to reflect Psalms 1:0, but is also seen in Isaiah 11:1. The OT uses many agricultural metaphors.

Isaiah 60:22 “clan” This term can mean “thousands.” See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: THOUSAND (ELEPH)

“I, the LORD, will hasten it in its time” History is in God's hands (cf. Isaiah 45:23; Isaiah 61:11).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why is this chapter replete with metaphors that describe “brightness” or “light”?

2. Will there be a literal restoration of the Jews or does this refer to the Messianic Age?

3. Why would the Gentiles flow into Jerusalem?

4. What is the connection between Isaiah 60:15-22 and the book of Revelation?

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Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Isaiah 60". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/isaiah-60.html. 2021.