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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 60

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary



The preceding two chapters present in dark colours the great moral deterioration of natural Israel, by which the better few, “the small remnant left,” (Isaiah 1:9,) were overwhelmed, till Jehovah came again and manifested himself, through prophetic vision, for their deliverance. The place and order of the vision is Jerusalem, at the birth of the Messiah, with a comprehensive extension of the scene far into the latest days. This literal advent of Zion’s Redeemer appears to take on a typical character of stages manifested gloriously in the far future. St. Paul quotes one of them when he (Romans 11:0) applies it to the still future recovery of Israel, when the broken olive branches shall be grafted in once more. The Apocalypse (Revelation 20, 22) borrows imagery from this chapter of blessings still future. The chapter is the close of the second cycle of those later prophecies of Isaiah, which also show an intimate relation to each of the earlier series; for example, the charge to comfort Zion (Isaiah 40:1) is herein fulfilled, and her sorrowful complaints (Isaiah 49:1-2) are silenced by rich abundance of blessing. No less intimate is the relation here with the opening and close of the earlier visions in Isaiah 1:26-27; Isaiah 2:1-5, with Isaiah 35:1, presenting thus a unity of structure in the whole book of Isaiah which neological commentators cannot well gainsay.

Verse 1

1. Arise The chapter opens with an animating address to the delivered children of God.

Shine The image is a sunrise scene. The night, long and dismal, has brooded, but now gradually ends.

Thy light is come The tops of the mountains (Isaiah 2:1-5; Micah 4:1) are gilded, and are seen by the prophet, though far back in time.

Glory of the Lord… risen upon thee That is, upon Zion-Jerusalem. The light falls upon her, not for her sake alone, but for all man-kind. This vision is welcome recompense for the darkness hitherto. (See Isaiah 58, 59.) Zion is to have the first view of the new day.

Verses 2-3

2, 3. Darkness shall cover the earth Apparently spoken of the Gentiles, whose “darkness” shall continue for awhile, but will be ultimately dissipated by the reflected light from Zion.

The Lord shall arise upon thee Zion is brought into light, not as a spectacle, not to be in contrast with Gentiles engrossed in darkness; but to impart her light upon Gentiles.

This explains Isaiah 60:2. The Lord is risen upon the whole pagan world in that he has confided to Zion that is, the whole Christian world the duty of direct evangelization in every part of the earth. Thus (Isaiah 60:3) all nations are to walk in Zion’s light of truth and salvation.

Brightness of thy rising The glory of Zion is to increase, and attract many and strong nations and kings, as by a light suddenly breaking on thickest gloom. The words here must not be weakened by a change to thy rising brightness. “Thy rising” is as the “sun of suns” coming over Jerusalem from the east and in surpassing splendour passing on to the west.

Verse 4

4. Lift up thine eyes Zion is directed to look about her, and see the crowds approaching from afar. The crowds consist of dispersed Jews, thy sons; and more numerously of heathen as well.

Thy daughters The sons walk, the daughters are carried. Words used to heighten the parallelism.

Verse 5

5. Thou shalt see Or, fear; it matters little which, in its ultimate meaning. (The Hebrew word is uncertain.) Both meanings may come in play crowds so great coming into view may occasion surprise, yes, even fear. The heart of renewed Zion shall throb with wonder and joy at the sight of the abundance of western maritime nations converted to God; at the sight of the wealth and treasure pouring in for the Lord’s service.

Verses 6-7

6, 7. Multitude That is, a stream of camels, bearing presents to enrich Zion.

Dromedaries The camel is used for burden-bearing; the dromedary for fast travelling. Here presents are brought in reward for spiritual hospitalities, and glad tidings thereof are promptly sent afar.

Midian… Ephah… Sheba The two first named are thought to represent Northern and Central Arabia, and the latter Arabia Felix. Here the descendants of Abraham and Keturah were settled. Midian was their son, and Ephah their grandson. (Genesis 25:2; Genesis 25:4; Genesis 38:28.)

Kedar… Nebaioth (See Smith’s Bible Dictionary on these names.) These bring altar-victims, instead of seeking gain as formerly; and they all now volunteer themselves as spiritual tributaries. Their gifts, therefore, are received with acceptance With gladness, because unselfishly offered.

Verse 8

8. Who are these… fly as a cloud Emigrants from over the seas from the west the sails of whose ships are likened to flying clouds. A striking figure.

As… doves Skimming the waters as “doves” do the air. Refined poetic element here.

Verse 9

9. The isles shall wait for me The people of the “isles” and of the seacoast naturally mariners are also eager to become Zion’s tributaries, and to bring to her the wealth of commerce. (Isaiah 42:4.) Apostolic zeal and labour wrought them at once with greatest success. The figurative descriptions in these verses imply a glorious diffusion of the Gospel over peoples hitherto unfriendly to Zion. The language throughout is in Isaiah’s accustomed drapery.

Verse 10

10. Strangers Foreigners of false religions converted to the true religion. In…

wrath I smote thee This refers to the morale of wasted Jerusalem, and their captivity at Babylon.

Their kings Perhaps including Cyrus, Darius, etc., of Persia; likewise the later Christian kings.

Verse 11

11. Thy gates… open continually… day nor night The gates of Zion, because thus open, denote the unremitting influx of converted new comers.

Forces of the Gentiles “Forces” not unlikely their wealth as well as their people. (See Isaiah 60:5.)

Their kings That these may be “brought bound, or in chains,” ( Chaldee Paraph.;) “pompously attended,” ( Lowth;) “with their retinues,” ( Noyes.) But the Hebrew rather means, that they may be brought or led, in any way, (as by the force of truth,) to serve Jehovah. The following, however, is quite as likely to be the idea intended: that their kings may be led in as captives to grace the triumph of the true religion, after a long time making themselves brave against it.

Verse 12

12. Nation and kingdom Even at the height of Messianic triumphs it would seem resistance was occasionally made. So in the New Testament, at the so-called millennial periods, the conquests of the true religion will not fully prevail till after long unsuccessful struggles.

Shall perish Final resistance will end disastrously. This is the providential law, till the last enemy shall be conquered. Absolute peril awaits all who resist God.

Verse 13

13. The glory of Lebanon The whole of it, here specified in its trees, shall be employed to beautify thee: as it did so, literally, in Zion’s temple under Solomon, so shall it in the exalted figurative and spiritual senses.

The place of my feet See Ezekiel 43:7; 1 Chronicles 27:2. The ark of the covenant is God’s footstool. In Isaiah 66:1, the whole earth is so named.

Verse 14

14. Sons… of them that afflicted thee Descendants of thy ancient persecutors.

Shall come bending unto thee Shall confess the mistakes and sins of their fathers, and shall (not with nicknames or worse, as heretofore) respectfully acknowledge thee to be the city of Jehovah, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel. And they declare thereby their faith in the true God; for Jerusalem stands as the monument proclaiming to the world the true Godhead of Jehovah.

Verse 15

15. Whereas thou hast been forsaken This is said under the figure of an abandoned wife; but the meaning would be clearer if read, “Instead of thy being a forsaken and hated holy city, so that no one would pass through thee” so that travellers and caravans did pass altogether by I will exalt thee to be the eternal city a position of growth in importance and honour, and which shall never cease to exist as such.

Verse 16

16. Suck the milk… the breast, etc. The meaning here is, that Zion-Jerusalem, or the Messianic Church, shall draw on the resources of the more wealthy Gentiles as well as of kings: allegorical of being cherished with tenderest regard by them. From this, Zion is made to know that Jehovah is her all-compensating Lord and Saviour, mighty to save.

Verse 17

17. In the first part of Isaiah 60:17, the material of which the city is built is the allegorical subject.

For brass I will bring gold… for iron… silver… for wood brass… for stones iron In Solomon’s day (1 Kings 10:21; 1 Kings 10:27) civilization so rapidly advanced that in the above terms it was made a type, as here used, of advancing improvements evermore in Zion’s city. Gold in place of brass, silver in place of iron, etc., signify ever-growing preciousness in all that pertains to the temple of holy Zion. Compare Revelation 21:10-21.

Thy officers peace Better, Thy magistracy shall be peace. The term characterizing it shall be “peace;” shall be, in other words, order, truth, love. These shall mark the whole of Zion’s government.

Thy exactors Not tyrants or tyranny, but justice, equity absolute.

Verse 18

18. Her very walls shall suggest nothing else than salvation, or safety, or perfect security.

Her gates The places where differences are judged or adjusted, shall be utterly without cases to adjudicate, hence they are worthily named, Praise.

Verses 19-20

19, 20. The sun shall be no more thy light For thy light and beauty shall exceed its brightness. No words can excel in beauty these verses. The spiritual Jerusalem is glorified through the shining of Jehovah as her everlasting light. In this verse, light denotes knowledge of spiritual truth, as a characteristic source of moral power concreted in the victories and blessedness of the Church militant and triumphant.

Verse 21

21. Thy people… all righteous Because true disciples of the Lord. Isaiah 26:2.

They shall inherit the land Or, as St. Paul transforms the words, it shall be “the inheritance of the saints in light.” Jehovah’s desire is expressed that what he has planted, watered, and pruned, shall be gloriously productive. That I may be glorified, contains the idea of such desire.

Verse 22

22. A little one shall become a thousand To the broadest dimensions the relatively small one shall be extended. Genesis 18:18. Not, however, from descent from Abraham is this increase of numbers to obtain, but from an extension of spiritual fellowship to all the families of the earth.

Micah 4:7. This is surely to come to pass, but in God’s own time. The meaning is, God prepares by stages for the times of Messiah, then for the grand and final conquests of his Church militant. This chapter is addressed to Zion-Jerusalem, and so sustains the address, predicting growth and blessedness to the end.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Isaiah 60". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/isaiah-60.html. 1874-1909.
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