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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible
Isaiah 60

 

 

Verse 1

ISAIAH CHAPTER 60

The glory and blessings of the new church after a short affliction.

Arise; a word of encouragement accommodated to the Jewish or Hebrew style, wherein, as by lying down is described a servile and calamitous condition, Isaiah 47:1; so by rising, and standing up, a recovery out of it into a free and prosperous one, as may be seen frequently. Rouse up; intimating her deliverance to be at hand. And here under a type, or hieroglyphical description of Jerusalem’s restoration, is displayed the flourishing state of the Gentile church under the Messiah, and that in the greatness, for quality, and also the number of her proselytes; in the description whereof the evangelical prophet, whatever he doth in other parts of his prophecy, doth here most briskly sparkle forth in Divine eloquence. Shine; discover thyself as one breaking forth from a dark night; or, look out, as men do at sea, who use to look out sharp, to see what they can discover after a dark and stormy season; or, be enlightened with more knowledge; or, be thou filled with joy; a metaphorical metonymy of the efficient; as thou art about to change thy condition, change thy countenance; be cheerful in that light or salvation that is approaching. Thy light; either,

1. Thy flourishing and prosperous estate; an allusion to people’s rising, when after a dark night the light breaks forth. they begin to rise. Or,

2. The causer of thy light, the effect for the efficient, viz. thy God, or Christ, because the fountain of all happiness, as the sun and moon are called lights, because they give light, Genesis 1:16. Thus Christ is called the true Light, John 1:9; and compare John 8:12, with Ephesians 5:14, and you will find these words quoted to that purpose. The glory of the Lord, i.e. the greatest glory, as the cedars of God, the mountains of God, &c.: compare Revelation 21:11: or, the glorious Lord, or the Lord of glory, or Christ, who is the glory of the Father, is come unto thee; he is at hand to make himself glorious in some wonderful work for thy salvation, either in his doctrine, or miracles, or work of redemption, that his glory may rest upon thee, suitable to the psalmist’s prayer, Psalms 85:6,7,9. Is risen; like as when the sun spreads itself into every place, leaving none dark: thus it refers to the glorious gospel, called such a glorious light, 2 Corinthians 4:4.


Verse 2

The darkness; either affliction and misery, a known metaphor; or ignorance and idolatry; as also all kinds of errors and immoralities, with which all that are out of the church are smutted and polluted: compare Ephesians 4:18,19.

Shall cover the earth; either,

1. General, all the inhabitants of the earth, such as through ignorance reject the gospel. Or rather,

2. More particular, the Babylonians, by a synecdoche of the whole for a part, in that dismal condition being harassed by Cyrus, whereby the Jews were delivered; this being also a type of the deliverance of God’s people by the Messiah, which this text principally intends.

Gross darkness; an allusion to that Egyptian darkness, Exodus 10:21, &c.; palpable ignorance, the inlet and nursery to gross idolatry and all profaneness.

The Lord, i.e. Christ, Malachi 4:2 Luke 1:77-79.

His glory shall be seen; shall be wonderfully conspicuous: as the Lord’s arising answers to the darkness covering the earth, so the glory being seen answers to that gross darkness. The sense is, that whereas the time was, that the people of God were under great calamities, while their enemies were in ease and prosperity, now it shall be quite contrary; now these shall be in adversity, and those in prosperity, a great turn of providence; and withal implies that this light of grace is a peculiar to his people, in respect of which all other prosperity is but darkness and misery; as light was peculiar to Goshen, when darkness was in all the Egyptian houses, Exodus 10:23.


Verse 3

The Gentiles shall come; either to congratulate thy deliverance, or to note the respect that should be shown them by other nations upon their deliverance; or rather, shall be allured by thy light to come to thee: as travellers in a dark night, and out of their way, when a light discovers itself do make to it; so the doctrine of the gospel shall shine so bright, and be made so conspicuous by preaching and miracles, that they shall not only congratulate them, and wish them much joy, but rejoice and participate with them in their happiness, Revelation 21:24. A plain prophecy of the calling of the Gentiles, which promise was made to Christ, Isaiah 49:6. And, or yea, or even kings, which was fulfilled under Cyrus, Darius, Alexander, and the Egyptian kings.

Kings: to add to thy lustre, thou shalt not be honoured only by the conversion of mean persons, but even of honourable personages, embracing the Christian faith, and submitting themselves to Christ’s sceptre and government; See Poole "Isaiah 49:23"; to observe thy progress, and how thou shalt increase by degrees, as the sun in its ascending. In Christ’s time there were twelve apostles, afterwards one hundred and twenty disciples, in a short time many thousands, then the church grew into congregations, and then spread to nations.


Verse 4

Lift up thine eyes round abrupt; or in a circle; into all parts of the earth: it seems to relate to the apostles and disciples, with their successors, carrying the gospel into all parts of the world. And in regard it would be as it were a thing incredible, he bids them lift up their eyes, as if they were to behold it in some vision, or upon some watch tower in Jerusalem: there is the like expression Isaiah 49:18.

All they gather themselves together: he speaks more particularly, either of the Jews flocking from all parts to Jerusalem, when they shall hear of their return from Babylon, which may be true in the type; or especially, of the coming in of some of all nations to the gospel.

Thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side; the same thing, only for elegancy’ sake expressed in its parts; the sense respects both persons and place; as to persons, Thy sons and thy daughters also shall be brought unto thee tenderly, as it were in arms, Isaiah 49:22, where by thy side, by equivalent expressions of arms, bosoms, and shoulders, is supplied with reference to them both, and may import they shall be brought unto the church of Christ as unto their mother; and it may be further observed, that where the masculine gender is joined with the feminine of the same species, it notes multitude and variety, as Ecclesiastes 2:8, men singers and women singers, i.e. all sorts and variety of vocal music: and as to place, Both thy sons and thy daughters that are not only near, but also afar off, shall come to thee, as we say, far and near, Acts 2:39; or it is the same with what was said before, round about in all quarters of the world; from far noting the longitude, and ad latus, at or on thy side, the latitude, and even those that perhaps were before at enmity one with another.


Verse 5

Then shalt thou see, viz. with a great deal of delight, the multitudes of thy children running to thee.

Flow together; as when one river meeting with another and joining waters, run sweetly together, as one and the same river: this notes the abundance of their united joys and delights; or they shall flock together to behold such an amazing sight.

Thine heart shall fear; as standing amazed to see such multitudes come in to the Lord Christ; See Poole "Isaiah 44:1", See Poole "Isaiah 44:2", &c.; as it were surprised with it, as those Ac 2 7, or overwhelmed with the joyful sight, as Jacob was with the tidings of Joseph, Genesis 45:26, and those of the circumcision that were with Acts 10:45: such a mixture of fear and joy you have expressed Jeremiah 33:9; the sense is much the same with Isaiah 49:18.

Be enlarged, both with joy and love; joy within at the coming in of the Gentiles, and this outwardly expressed in the enlargedness of love and charity towards them. Fear doth properly contract the heart, therefore this expression intimates it to be a fear mixed with such an affection as will dilate it.

The abundance of the sea; either the islands of the sea, viz. the nations, as before, a metonymy of the subject, shall turn to thee, in religion or affection; they that formerly so much hated thee (they that live by the sea-coasts being usually noted for the worst of men) shall now love thee: or the wealth and traffic of those that trade by sea, the riches of the merchant; and so possibly the prophet may allude to Psalms 72:10, for Tarshish is sometimes taken for the sea, as hath been before showed: see on 1 Kings 10:22.

Shall be converted unto thee; thy traders shall not so much convert their riches to their own use as to thine.

The forces; or, wealth; thou shalt not have only the wealth, but the strength of the nations, to stand by thee, which hath also an eye, as in the type, to that readiness and willingness that would be in the nations to help them out of Babylon.


Verse 6

The multitude of camels, i.e. the abundance of wealth and treasure that is brought upon camels; this being the creature the Eastern people used for carriage of their gold and spice, and other rich treasure, which are said to cover them; the like phrase with that Jude 6:5: or whereby is understood those people that did use to ride on camels, as the Arabians and the bordering countries; for by these and such-like figurative and borrowed expressions in several verses, of this chapter is particularized several nations, and by them is implied the coming in of all nations unto Christ; and therefore they are brought in as presenting the choicest commodities of their respective countries, so that we may be the better excused from speaking particularly to them in their respective places.

The dromedaries; or, also or even the dromedaries, which are a lesser sort of camel, so called from their swiftness in running, to which they are the better enabled, because, as Pliny observes, they can endure thirst four days together: q.d. They shall make all the haste imaginable in bringing their riches to thee. Of Midian and Ephah: both these Midianites and Ephaites descended from Abraham by Keturah, Genesis 25:2,4; they dwelt beyond Arabia; and camels are mentioned coming from hence, because of all places they were the most numerous here, Jude 7:12.

Sheba: this Sheba descended from Cush, the son of cursed Ham, the son of Noah, Genesis 10:6,7, from whom a certain country in Arabia Felix took its name, whose queen it was that came to visit Solomon 1 Kings 10:1; and her bringing gifts might be a type of this, Solomon being a type of Christ, of which the wise men might be the first-fruits, Mt 2.

Shall bring gold and incense; the principal commodities with which this country abounded, and by which we are to understand whatever is precious; and frankincense is only peculiar to Arabia.

They shall show forth the praises of the Lord; the motive drawing them thither being more for religion than trade.


Verse 7

All the flocks of Kedar; the people whereof descended from Ishmael, and lived in Arabia Petrea, who were principally shepherds. The rams; q.d. nay, the chief of the flock, viz. for sacrifice; this Nebaioth being put for the people thereof, and sprang from Ishmael also, Genesis 25:13; rich as the other were in flocks, and inhabiting the same country. As the Sabeans offered the proper commodities of their country, as gold and spice; so these of theirs, viz. cattle, showing that each country, and so each person, should bring that wherewith they did most excel.

Of Nebaioth: this shows that Abraham’s children according to the flesh should also be brought in to the gospel: compare Malachi 1:11.

They shall come up with acceptance; being offered, they shall not now, as heretofore, be rejected; and hereby they shall be distinguished from the profane oblations of the Gentiles, i.e. in the name of Christ, who is the true and only gospel Altar. The house of my glory, i.e. the temple, or my house; glory being put here by a metonymy of the adjunct for God himself, who is glorious. God shall become glorious by the multitude of sacrifices that shall be offered and accepted here, Psalms 29:9. And it is a type how glorious his New Testament spiritual worship shall be; this altar pointing at Christ, out of whom nothing is accepted, and that his church should be glorious, being built of living stones, 1 Peter 2:5.


Verse 8

In the 4th verse he spake to them as upon some high watch tower, whereby they might behold as in a circle all the parts of the world. Now espying from all parts, he brings them in calling out with admiration,

Who are these? partly with reference to the number, or partly with reference to the persons; so the Heb. What are these? they being not Jews, but strangers, and so directly intimating the Gentiles flocking into the church, that come so swiftly, and in so great flocks: the same thing still. The former metaphor of clouds imports their number as well as their speed, Ezekiel 38:9: thus abundance of witnesses is called a cloud of witnesses, Hebrews 12:1: the scope is to note the great confluence of people that should come into the church, that should be begotten by the apostles’ doctrine; which the LXX. translation seems to point at, who render it as doves with their young ones unto me; and by flying may be noted their spiritual state, being elevated above the world, . as the clouds above the earth, and doves when upon the wing.


Verse 9

The isles: see Isaiah 41:1 49:18. The ships, viz. to convey them to me.

Of Tarshish, i.e. those that traffic by sea, as before; see Isaiah 2:16; these lying most convenient for that employment. In naming this he implies by a synecdoche all that had commerce with other nations. First; preferring this before any other business they take in hand. This hath undergone the various senses of divers interpreters; such as are not futilous and vain, I conceive, may run into one of these two: either,

1. By reading it with a supplement of the note of similitude, which is frequent, as at first, or formerly, viz. as in the days of Solomon, who was a type of Christ, the matter here spoken of seeming to suit with it, 1 Kings 10:12: see 2 Chronicles 9:21, &c. Or rather,

2. By taking the word first, as the Hebrews mostly do, not so much with reference to time or order as to dignity; namely, they shall have the precedency and honour of bringing themselves and conducting others: this may be true also as to time, and so verified in the wise men coming the first to Christ when he was born, and as the firstfruits of the rest of the Gentiles.

To bring thy sons, begotten by the word,

from far, from the remotest parts: this may be understood with reference either to place or state; at how great a distance soever either in place or state, they shall come to Christ, who hath sons abroad in God’s decree, not yet called, other sheep that he will bring into his fold, John 10:16. Their: their may refer either to the merchants bringing traffic with them, as Isaiah 60:6; or the Jews, as Israel came out of Egypt with all their treasure with them, and what others gave them, Ezra 1:4, as also the vessels that were sent back with them, Ezra 1:7.

Unto the name, i.e. to the Lord himself, by a periphrasis; or to his temple, where his name was placed, the type of the church; compare 2 Samuel 7:13, with 1 Chronicles 17:12; or in the name of the Lord; or for his sake, who is the Holy One; the like metonymies having been formerly and frequently pointed at.

He hath glorified thee; he will spread thy fame, and make thee honourable in the eyes of the world, and that especially in setting up the ministry of the gospel in the midst of thee. The name of God, and so also of Israel, were contemptible among the Gentiles before the coming of Christ and spreading of the gospel, but (as a consolation to his people) it is promised they shall both be honourable; and here God by an enallage of the person speaks of himself in the third person.


Verse 10

The sons of strangers, viz. such as were not Israelites; and he puts sons of strangers by a usual Hebraism for strangers, properly termed alienigenae: see Isaiah 56:3. This was literally fulfilled in repairing the walls of Jerusalem; he spake before of the temple, now of the city; and spiritually in the ministers of the gospel, who are the walls and bulwarks of the church by preaching and writing for her; and ecclesiastical history affords us many instances of kings and princes that were great benefactors to her, among whom Constantine did greatly excel, not caring what he bestowed on her, Valentinian and Theodosius, &c.

Shall minister; shall administer all necessaries to thee: as they had been demolished by the Babylonians, so they were repaired by the favour of Cyrus, Darius Hystaspes, Artsxerxes, &c., all strangers, Ezra 6:7, &c, or strangers becoming proselytes: see Isaiah 56:6.

In my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee; as I afflicted thee in my anger, so out of my compassions I will abundantly bless thee.


Verse 11

Therefore; for that end and purpose; or by reason of the conflux of people that shall be continually flocking thither, arguing abundance of peace and security, and great enlargement of the church, and that the Christian church shall be always open to the godly, to receive all comers freely.

The forces; or, wealth; either all wherein they excel, or all the prey taken in fight.

May be brought, as it were, captives in chains, such as they took in war, being made victorious, so say some; but rather, such as were led and conducted in state.


Verse 12

That will not serve thee; do offices of kindness; so is the word used, Isaiah 19:23; or rather, that will not submit to Christ’s sceptre.

Shall perish; shall be no more sui juris, but subdued to thee; and as refusing subjection to Christ, shall perish everlastingly; as they all perished in the deluge that were not in the ark: they that should be saved were added to the church, Acts 2:47 Revelation 21:24.

Utterly wasted, Heb. wasting be wasted, viz. by the sword: accordingly we read of many victories in Josephus that the Jews obtained, and in the Book of the Maccabees, as a fulfilling of this prophecy; but this doth principally relate to the spiritual Jerusalem, and this seems to anticipate an objection, If the gates stand continually open, we shall be in danger of enemies. Not so, saith he, for they shall either serve thee or perish.


Verse 13

The glory of Lebanon; the box, the fir, the pine, and the cedar, on account whereof Lebanon grew so famous; a metonymy of the efficient: kings and great ones, the glory of the world, and also persons of a lower rank, the

pines, firs, and box trees, as also the choicest persons, endued with the special gifts of the Holy Ghost, shall be the materials and members of Christ’s church, as those also of a lower size and measure. We find the godly called trees, Isaiah 61:3. They shall have sweet communion together; the box shall not envy the pine, nor the pine despise the box, they shall worship the Lord together.

To beautify: this is the reason and end why the glory of Lebanon is to be brought hither: by these trees understand the beauty and nobility of the church; trees being both for building and for beautifying.

The place of my sanctuary; the temple, wherein was the sanctuary; this being a type of the church, both actively, as that which his presence sanctifieth; and passively, as that wherein he is worshipped and sanctified.

The place of my feet, viz. the ark, 1 Chronicles 28:2, described here by a periphrasis; so called, because, supposing God after the manner of man to sit as on a seat between the wings of the cherubims, his feet would rest upon the ark, and therefore called the mercy-seat, Exodus 25:17-20. The temple and Zion is called his rest, Psalms 132:13,14, and all this is made good in the gospel church, 2 Corinthians 6:16.


Verse 14

The sons; either their posterity, acknowledging their fathers’ sins in afflicting thee; or themselves; for it is the manner of the Hebrews to put the sons of a thing for the thing itself.

Bending; humbling themselves, as penitents; this being the sign of reverence and respect; and that either for love or fear submit to the yoke of Christ; they shall be like Christ, of a humble and meek spirit, and the degree of this is mentioned in the next clause.

Bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet: this notes that great degree of submission, that even despisers and enemies shall yield to the church, prostrating themselves as humble suppliants; see Isaiah 49:23; or rather to Christ, the Head, King, and Husband of the church.

They shall call thee, The city; they shall give her that honourable title, or acknowledge her to be so, and so called, both from the love that God had for her, and from the temple of God that was in her.


Verse 15

Forsaken, both of God, i.e. as to outward appearance; and of her inhabitants, being upon the matter depopulated.

Hated; either slighted and neglected, or suffering actual miseries and slaughters: thus was she dealt with, Lamentations 1:2.

No man went through thee; thy streets were left desolate. An eternal excellency: the abstract is put here for the concrete, whereby the Hebrews were wont to express the superlative degree; and in this happy estate we find the church, Zec 2. per tot. Zechariah 9:9, &c.; which refers to the coming of Christ; and it is said to be eternal, i.e. for a great while; it being an hyperbolical expression, frequent with the Hebrews, who express a long time by eternity.

A joy of many generations; the church’s happiness should be, the rejoicing and comfort of succeeding generations; she would be the matter of their great rejoicing; a metonymy of the object.


Verse 16

Thou shalt also suck, & c.; a metaphor taken from children sucking nourishment from the breast. The sense is, that the church should draw or drain the wealth of nations, and the riches and power of kings, and whatever is most excellent, and that it should come freely and affectionately, as milk flows from the breast of the mother; the same thing intended Isaiah 49:23, and in the foregoing verses. Thou shalt know, i.e. experience it; knowing is often put for an experimental knowing.

The mighty one of Jacob; styled so either with reference to Jacob’s person, he being the first that gave God this title, Genesis 49:24; or with reference to Jacob’s posterity, viz. the Jews. These things will certainly be accomplished; for he is the mighty God, and so able; and the God of Jacob, so obliged by covenant and relation.


Verse 17

For brass I will bring gold: here is the effect of the former promise, Thy poverty shall be turned to riches, all things shall be altered for the best; an allusion to the days of Solomon, when gold was as brass: thus, on the contrary, when they change for the worse in the state, it useth to be expressed by the like metaphors, Isa 21 Isa 22 Isa 23.

I will also make thy officers peace, i.e. loving, meek, and peaceable; the abstract put for the concrete, as is usual, whether you understand it of under officers, they shall be officers of peace, or of governors, thou shalt have a peaceable government, as it was made good to them under Ezra, Nehemiah, Zorobabel, and such like.

And thine exactors righteousness; most righteous, as before peace for peaceable. The church is not freed from taxes and payments, that is given by Christ and Peter unto Caesar, but it shall be without oppression and grinding; no more than is necessary, and not exacted rigorously. Though all these were made good in their return out of Babylon, yet doth it more properly relate to the meliorating of the church under the gospel, wherein instead of carnal ceremonies, she had spiritual ordinances, which is the scope of the apostle, Heb 9, and larger measures of the Holy Spirit, and should have such officers as would speak peace to the consciences, by discovering the complete and perfect righteousness of him who fulfilled all righteousness.


Verse 18

That this and what follows must necessarily be understood of the church triumphant (though there only it will be complete) I see no necessity, neither will obtrude my judgment, but leave it to the judicious, as being more proper in a comment: none to offer violence to this quiet state thou shalt attain to, either within thee, to oppress by injustice, rapine, or fraud, or without thee by hostile invasions; and this the prophet mentions as the effect of good officers in the former verse.

Wasting nor destruction within thy borders; no havoc made among thy people.

Thou shalt call thy walls Salvation; they shall be safe, and able to defend thee; thou shalt bc as safe as salvation itself can make thee. When a thing is said in Scripture to be called so, it often signifies as much as to be so, Isaiah 26:1 47:1 65:7, and it intimates as much as that God will be salvation to his church: when they shall be without gates and walls, he will be their safety, and the matter of their praise; see Isaiah 26:1; and God’s care of his church is the matter of that exhortation to praise him, Psa 147.

And thy gates Praise; a double metonymy, viz. of the effect, as salvation will cause praise; and of the adjunct, as it is worthy of praise; so that within or upon thy gates and walls thou shalt sing praises.


Verse 19

The sun shall be no more thy light, & c.; these shall not be at all esteemed in comparison of the spiritual light of the church; and this is laid down as the assurance of the church’s comfort, as the former was for her safety, so that God will not only be a shield, but a sun to her, Psalms 84:11; not that they shall not have the sun and moon among them, but that the light of the godly, as such, should principally consist in what is spiritual.

The Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light; Christ shall scatter all darkness and ignorance, enlightening thee with the doctrines of the gospel, and graces of his Spirit; and this shall be

everlasting, not wax and wane, and suffer eclipses and settings, as the sun and moon do, but it shall be constant, without shadow of change; no night; which will be undoubtedly true of the church in heaven, whatever it will be, or how near soever it will come to it, here, which I presume will bear its analogy.

Thy God thy glory; always ministering matter of thy glorying in him; or, thy interest in this God shall be great honour to thee; or else it is the same thing with the sentence immediately before in other words, that will make time glorious, a metonymy of the efficient; thus he is said to give glory, Psalms 84:11.


Verse 20

Literally he means the Jews’ mourning in Babylon, but especially the uninterrupted happiness of the church: the Hebrew here for

ended signifies recompensed; their days of rejoicing shall abundantly recompense all their days of mourning.


Verse 21

Thy people also shall be all righteous, i.e. the greater part; the word in this use hath been shown frequently; or, altogether righteous, completely righteous. As this respects the Jews, the sense may be, they went into captivity wicked, but most of them being dead, and many of the survivors tarrying behind, they that are returned are said to be righteous, Isaiah 1:25-27 4:4: but principally as it respects the church, they shall be all saints, either by profession, as Paul calls them frequently saints by calling; or rather by an inherent righteousness, or perfectly by the imputed righteousness of Christ: See Poole "Isaiah 35:8".

They shall inherit the land for ever, i.e. for a long time, as you have many instances; and this is spoken, lest that poor remnant should be afraid of being driven out again; but with reference to the church, that they should for ever be continued as God’s peculiar people.

The branch of my planting; put by apposition, viz. Thy people being of my planting, and so also the next clause, the

work of my hands, and therefore cannot miscarry, being what I shall take delight in; and thus the children of God are said to be his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 2:10.

That I may be glorified; either that I may make them glorious in being thus planted, or myself glorious in thus planting them.


Verse 22

A little one shall become a thousand; though of very small beginning, and contemptible, yet shall greatly multiply. Though the church at first will be but a very few, yet will it increase into many thousands; this plant or seed will spring up to many. Some understand it, that many shall be converted, and brought into the church, by men of very few, low, and mean parts; however, these things seem to agree better to some state of the church here, than to the state of the church triumphant.

A small one a strong nation: if this signify, not the same with the other, as probably it may, the word strong signifying numerous, Joel 1:6, then we may understand it, that as the former respected their number, so this their strength.

Will hasten it in his time, viz. in due time, the time that I have appointed: q.d. Let not this be doubted, because I have undertaken it, to whom nothing is difficult. When the time of the promise comes, he will make haste, it will be done speedily; or as soon as it begins it shall hasten apace, as it did in Peter’s sermon, three thousand in one day, Ac 2, and five thousand in another, Ac 4, and so soon filled the whole world, and one Paul planted whole churches, as the people in Egypt increased from seventy persons to a vast multitude.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Isaiah 60:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/isaiah-60.html. 1685.

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