For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.
For Zion's sake - (See the notes at Isaiah 1:8). On account of Zion; that is, on account of the people of God.
I will not hold my peace - There have been very various opinions in regard to the person referred to here by the word 'I.' Calvin and Gesenius suppose that the speaker here is the prophet, and that the sense is, he would not intermit his labors and prayers until Zion should be restored, and its glory spread through all the earth. The Chaldee Paraphrast supposes that it is God who is the speaker, and this opinion is adopted by Grotius. Vitringa regards it as the declaration of a prophetic choir speaking in the name of the officers of the church, and expressing the duty of making continual intercession for the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom. Estius supposes it to be the petition of the Jewish people praying to God for their restoration. Amidst such a variety of interpretation it is not easy to determine the true sense. If it is the language of God, it is a solemn declaration that he was intent on the deliverance of his people, and that he would never cease his endeavors until the work should be accomplished.
If it is the language of the prophet, it implies that he would persevere, notwithstanding all opposition, in rebuking the nation for its sins, and in the general work of the prophetic office, until Zion should arise in its glory. If the former, it is the solemn assurance of Yahweh that the church would be the object of his unceasing watchfulness and care, until its glory should fill the earth. If the latter, it expresses the feelings of earnest and devoted piety; the purpose to persevere in prayer and in active efforts to extend the cause of God until it should triumph. I see nothing in the passage by which it can be determined with certainty which is the meaning; and when this is the case it must be a matter of mere conjecture. The only circumstance which is of weight in the case is, that the language, 'I will not be silent,' is rather that which is adapted to a prophet accustomed to pray and speak in the name of God than to God himself; and if this circumstance be allowed to have any weight, then the opinion will incline to the interpretation which supposes it to refer to the prophet. The same thing is commanded the watchman on the walls of Zion in Isaiah 62:6-7; and if this be the correct interpretation, then it expresses the appropriate solemn resolution of one engaged in proclaiming the truth of God not to intermit his prayers and his public labors until the true religion should be spread around the world.
I will not rest - While I live, I will give myself to unabated toil in the promotion of this great object (see the notes at Isaiah 62:7).
Until the righteousness thereof - The word here is equivalent to salvation, and the idea is, that the deliverance of his people would break forth as a shining light.
Go forth as brightness - The word used here is commonly employed to denote the splendor, or the bright shining of the sun, the moon, or of fire (see Isaiah 60:19; compare Isaiah 4:5; 2 Samuel 23:4; Proverbs 4:18). The meaning is, that the salvation of people would resemble the clear shining light of the morning, spreading over hill and vale, and illuminating all the world.
As a lamp that burneth - A blazing torch - giving light all around and shining afar.
And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.
And the Gentiles shall see - (see Isaiah 11:10 : come a up I father me say Isaiah 49:22; Isaiah 60:3, Isaiah 60:5, Isaiah 60:16).
And thou shalt be called by a new name - A name which shall be significant and expressive of a greatly improved and favored condition (see Isaiah 62:4). The idea is, that they would not be in a condition in which a name denoting humiliation, poverty, and oppression would be appropriate, but in circumstances where a name expressive of prosperity would be adapted to express their condition. On the custom of giving significant names, see the notes at Isaiah 7:3; Isaiah 8:1.
Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.
Thou shalt also be a crown of glory - On the application of the word 'crown' to a place, see the notes at Isaiah 28:1, where it is applied to Samaria. Some difficulty has been felt by expositors in explaining this, from the fact that a crown or diadem was worn on the head and not held in the hand, and some have supposed that the word 'crown' here is equivalent to any ornament which might be either horne in the hand or worn on the head; others have supposed that the reference is to the custom of carrying a chaplet or garland in the hand on festival occasions. But probably the sense is this, 'Thou shalt I be so beautiful and prosperous as to be appropriately regarded as a splendid crown or diadem. God shall keep thee as a beautiful diadem - the crown of beauty among the cities of the earth, and as that which is most comely and valuable in his sight.' This is the sense expressed by Gataker and Rosenmuller.
And a royal diadem - Hebrew, 'A diadem of a kingdom.' The diadem is the wreath or chaplet, usually set with diamonds, which is "encircled" (צניף tsânı̂yph from צנף tsânaph) to roll or wind around, to encircle) around the head. It here means such as was usually worn by monarchs; and the sense is, that Jerusalem would become exceedingly beautiful in the sight of God.
Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.
Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken - That is, thou shalt be no more so forsaken as to make such an I appellation proper. This refers to the new name which the prophet says Isaiah 62:2 will be conferred on her.
Neither shall thy land - Thy country shall no more be so wasted that the term desolation (שׁממה shemâmâh, Greek ἔρημος erēmos) shall be properly applied to it.
But thou shalt be called Hepzi-bah - Margin, as Hebrew, 'My delight is in her.' The idea is, that Yahweh would show her such favor, and he would have so much pleasure in his people, that this name of endearment would be appropriately given to her. The Septuagint renders this, Θέλημα ἐμὸν Thelēma emon - 'My will,' or my delight. The sense is, that Jerusalem would be eminently the object of his delight.
And thy land Beulah - Margin, as Hebrew, 'Married;' or rather, 'thou art married.' The Septuagint renders it, Οἰκουμένη Oikoumenē - 'Inhabited.' Lowth renders it, 'The wedded matron.' The figure is taken from a female who had been divorced, and whose appropriate name was Forsaken.' God says here that the appropriate name henceforward would not be the Forsaken, but the married one - the one favored and blessed of God (see the notes at Isaiah 1. 1). Language like this is common in the East. 'A sovereign is spoken of as married to his dominions; they mutually depend on each other. When a king takes possessions from another, he is said to be married to them' - (Roberts).
Thy land shall be married - See the notes at Isaiah 54:4-6, where this figure is extended to greater length. By a similar figure the church is represented as the beautiful bride of the Lamb of God Revelation 21:9; Revelation 19:7.
For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.
For as a young man marrieth a virgin - Roberts remarks on this, 'In general no youth marries a widow. Such a thing I scarcely ever heard of (in India), nor will it ever be except under some very extraordinary circumstances, as in the case of a queen, princess, or great heiress. Even widowers also, if possible, always marry virgins.' The idea here is, that Yahweh would have delight in his people, which would be properly represented by the affection which a young man has for his bride.
So shall thy sons marry thee - Lowth renders this, 'So shall thy restorer wed thee.' He supposes that the word rendered in our common version, 'thy sons' (בניך bânâyı̂k), should be pointed בניך bonayı̂k, as a participle from בנה bânâh, 'to build,' rather than from בן bên, 'a son.' The parallelism requires some such construction as this; and the unusual form of expression, 'thy sons shall be wedded to thee,' seems also to demand it. The Septuagint renders it, 'As a young man cohabits (συνοικῶν sunoikōn) with a virgin (bride, παρθένῳ parthenō), so shall thy, sons dwell with thee (κατοικήσουσιν οἱ υἱοί σου katoikēsousin hoi huioi sou). So the Chaldee. the conjecture of Lowth has been adopted by Koppe and Doderlin. Rosenmuller supposes that there is here a mingling or confusion of figures, and that the idea is, that her sons should possess her - an idea which is frequently conveyed by the word בעל Ba‛al, which is used here. To me it seems that there is much force in the conjecture of Lowth, and that the reference is to God as the 'builder,' or the restorer of Jerusalem, and that the sense is that he would be 'married,' or tenderly and indissolubly united to her. If it be objected that the word is in the 'plural (בניך bonayı̂k) it may be observed thai the word commonly applied to God (אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym) is also plural, and that an expression remarkably similar to the one before us occurs in Isaiah 54:5, 'For thy Maker is thy husband' (Hebrew, בעליך bo‛ălayk, 'Thy husbands.') It is not uncommon to use a plural noun when speaking of God. It should be remembered that the points in the Hebrew are of no authority, and that all the change demanded here is in them.
And as the bridegroom - Margin, as in Hebrew,' With the joy of the bridegroom.'
Over the bride - In the possession of the bride - probably the most tender joy which results from the exercise of the social affections.
I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence,
I have set watchmen upon thy walls - (See the notes at Isaiah 21:6-11). The speaker here is undoubtedly Yahweh; and by watchmen he means those whom he had appointed to be the instructors of his people - the ministers of religion. The name 'watchmen' is often given to them (Ezekiel 3:17; Ezekiel 33:7; see the notes at Isaiah 52:8; Isaiah 56:10).
Which shall never hold their peace - The watches in the East are to this day performed by a loud cry as they go their rounds. This is done frequently in order to mark the time, and also to show that they are awake to their duty. "The watchmen in the camp of the caravans go their rounds, crying one after another, 'God is one; He is merciful'; and often add, 'Take heed to yourselves'" - (Tavernier). The truth here taught is, that they who are appointed to be the ministers of religion should be ever watchful and unceasing in the discharge of their duty.
Ye that make mention of the Lord - Margin, 'That are the Lord's remembrancers.' These are evidently the words of the prophet addressing those who are watchmen, and urging them to do their duty, as he had said Isaiah 62:1 he was resolved to do his, Lowth renders this, 'O ye that proclaim the name of Yahweh.' Noyes, 'O ye that praise Yahweh.' But this does not express the sense of the original as well as the common version. The Hebrew word המזכירים hamazekiyriym, from זכר zâkar, "to remember") means properly those bringing to remembrance, or causing to remember. It is a word frequently applied to the praise of God, or to the celebration of his worship Psalm 20:7; Psalm 38:1; Psalm 45:17; Psalm 70:1; Psalm 102:12. In such instances the word does not mean that they who are engaged in his service cause Yahweh to remember, or bring things to his recollection which otherwise he would forget; but it means that they would keep up his remembrance among the people, or that they proclaimed his name in order that he might not be forgotten. This is the idea here. It is not merely that they were engaged in the worship of God; but it is, that they did this in order to keep up the remembrance of Yahweh among people. In this sense the ministers of religion are 'the remembrancers' of the Lord.
Keep not silence - Hebrew, 'Let there be no silence to you.' That is, be constantly employed in public prayer and praise.
And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
And give him no rest - Margin, 'Silence.' In Hebrew the same word (דמי dŏmiy) as in Isaiah 62:6. The idea is, 'Keep not silence yourselves, nor let him rest in silence. Pray without ceasing; and do not intermit your efforts until the desires of your hearts shall be granted, and Zion shall be established, and the world saved.'
Till he establish - Until he shall establish Jerusalem, and restore it to its former rank and privileges.
Till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth - That it may be the subject of universal commendation and rejoicing, instead of being an object of reproach and scorn. The truth taught here is, that it is the privilege and duty of the ministers of God to pray unceasingly for the extension of his kingdom. Day and night the voice of prayer is to be urged, and urged as if they would give Yahweh no rest until the desires of their hearts should be granted (compare Luke 18:1 ff).
The LORD hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength, Surely I will no more give thy corn to be meat for thine enemies; and the sons of the stranger shall not drink thy wine, for the which thou hast laboured:
The Lord hath sworn by his right hand - An oath was taken in various forms among the ancients. It was usually done by lifting up the hand toward beaten and appealing to God. As God could swear by no greater Hebrews 6:13, he is represented as swearing by himself (see the notes at Isaiah 45:23). Here he is represented as swearing by his right hand and by his arm - the strong instrument by which he would accomplish his purposes to defend and save his people. The sense is, that he solemnly pledged the strength of his arm to deliver them, and restore them to their own land.
Surely I will no more give - Margin, as in Hebrew, 'If I give.' That is, I will not give.
Thy corn to be meat - The word 'corn' in the Scriptures means all kinds of grain - especially wheat, barley, etc. The word 'meat' was formerly used to denote all kinds of food, and was not restricted as it is now usually to animal food. The meaning is, that they should not be subjected to the evils of foreign invasion and conquest.
And the sons of the stranger - Foreigners, Isaiah 60:10.
Shall not drink thy wine - The productions of your toil shall be safe, and you shall enjoy them yourselves. All this denotes a state of safety and prosperity, such as there would be if they were allowed to cultivate the soil without interruption, and were permitted to enjoy the fruit of their labors.
But they that have gathered it shall eat it, and praise the LORD; and they that have brought it together shall drink it in the courts of my holiness.
But they that have gathered it shall eat it - There shall be a state of security, so that every man may enjoy the avails of his own labor. Nothing is a more certain indication of liberty and prosperity than this - that every man may securely enjoy the avails of his own labor. Nothing more certainly marks the advance of civilization, and nothing so much tends to encourage industry and to promote prosperity. When a man has no security that what he sows shall be reaped by himself; when there is danger that it will be destroyed or consumed by foreign invaders; or, when it is liable to be taken by arbitrary power to minister to the needs and luxuries of the great, there will be no industry, no incitement to labor. Such is the condition always in war. Such is the condition now in the Turkish dominions; and such is the state in savage life, and in all uncivilized communities. And as the tendency of true religion is to repress wars, to establish order, and to diffuse just views of the rights of man, it everywhere promotes prosperity by furnishing security that a man shall enjoy the avails of his own productive industry. Wherever the Christian religion prevails in its purity, there is seen the fulfillment of this prophecy; and the extension of that religion everywhere would promote universal industry, order, and law.
And praise the Lord - They shall not consume it on their lusts, nor shall they partake of it without gratitude. God shall be acknowledged as the bountiful giver, and they shall render him appropriate thanksgiving.
And they that have brought it together - They who have gathered in the vintage.
Shall drink it in the courts of my holiness - It would be drank with gratitude to God in the feasts which were celebrated at the temple (see Leviticus 6:16; Deuteronomy 12:17-18; Deuteronomy 14:23). The idea is, that the effect of true religion would be to produce security and liberty, and to make people feel that all their blessings came from God; to partake of them with gratitude, and to make them the occasion of praise and thanksgiving.
Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people.
Go through, go through the gates - The connection of this with what goes before is not very apparent, and there has been a great diversity of opinion in regard to it among interpreters. Grotius supposes that it refers to the priests and Levites who are referred to also in the previous verses, and that it is a command for them to enter into the temple. Calvin supposes that it refers to the Christian church, and that the idea is, that the gates of it should be continually open for the return of penitent sinners. Rosenmuller supposes that it is an address to the cities lying between Babylon and Jerusalem, and that the idea is, that their gates would be thrown open for the return of the exiles, and that all obstacles would be taken out of the way. Others suppose that it refers to the Jews, and that the command is to them to go through the gates of Babylon, and an immediate order is added to the people to prepare the way for them. This last seems to me to be the sense of the passage. It is a direction to the exiles in Babylon to go forth and return to their own land. The gates so long closed against their return would be thrown open, and they would now have liberty to depart for their own country. Thus explained, the connection is apparent. The watchmen were commanded to pray until this was done Isaiah 62:7; the prophet had said that he would not rest until it was done Isaiah 62:1; Yahweh had promised this in a most solemn manner Isaiah 62:8-9; and now those prayers are heard, and that promise is about to be fulfilled, and they are commanded to leave the city and enter upon their journey to their own land (compare the notes at Isaiah 52:10-12).
Prepare ye the way of the people - (Compare the notes at Isaiah 40:3).
Cast up, cast up the highway - (See the notes at Isaiah 57:14).
Gather out the stones - Clear it from the stones - in other words, make a smooth path on which they can travel with ease. The word which is used here (סקל sāqal) commonly denotes to stone, or to pelt with stones, a species of capital punishment among the Hebrews 2 Samuel Hebrews 16:6-13. Hence, it means to pile up stones in a heap; and it has also the signification of removing stones from a field Isaiah 5:2, and here of removing them from the way when they are an obstruction to the traveler. Harmer supposes that the word here means to pile up stones at proper distances, as a kind of landmark in the deserts, in order to mark the way for travelers - a practice which, he says, is quite common in Arabia. But the more correct interpretation is, that they were to remove the stones from the way, in order that the journey might be made with ease.
Lift up a standard - As when an army is about to march. They were about to be collected from their dispersions and restored to their own land, and the command is given, that the banner might be reared that they might rally around it (see the notes at Isaiah 10:18; Isaiah 59:19; Isaiah 49:22).
Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
Behold the Lord hath proclaimed - Proclamation is made to all nations that Yahweh is about to come and rescue his people.
Say ye to the daughter of Zion - To Jerusalem (see the notes at Isaiah 1:8).
Thy salvation cometh - Lowth renders this, 'Lo!, thy Saviour cometh.' So the Vulgate, the Septuagint, the Chaldee, and the Syriac. The Hebrew word properly means salvation, but the reference is to God as the Deliverer or Saviour. The immediate allusion is probably to the return from Babylon, but the remote and more important reference is to the coming of the Redeemer (see the notes at Isaiah 40:1-10).
Behold, his reward is with him - See these words explained in the notes at Isaiah 40:10.
And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the LORD: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.
And they shall call them - It shall be the honorable and just name by which they shall be known, that they are a holy people, and that they are the redeemed of Yahweh. No name is so honorable as that; no one conveys so much that is elevated and ennobling as to say of one, 'he is one whom Yahweh has redeemed from sin and death and hell by atoning blood.' He who has a just sense of the import of this name, will desire no Other record to be made of his life - no other inscription on his tomb - than that he is one who has been redeemed by Yahweh.
And thou shalt be called - (See the notes at Isaiah 62:2).
Sought out - The city much sought after, or much desired - to wit, by converts who shall come from afar; by foreigners who shall come to do thee honor (see Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 40:5-6, Isaiah 40:10-11; Isaiah 49:18-22). Or it may mean that Jerusalem would be a city sought out and desired by Yahweh; that is, no more forsaken by him. So Gesenius understands it.
A city not forsaken - No longer given up to the invasions of a foreign enemy, and abandoned to long desolation. The idea is, that the church and people of God would be the object of his kind protecting care henceforward, and would enjoy his continued smiles.