Isaiah 52:15
So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
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(15) So shall he sprinkle many nations . . .—The words have been very differently rendered by, He shall cause to spring up, i.e., shall startle, He shall scatter, He shall fling away, or, Many nations shall marvel at him. On the whole, however, admitting the difficulty of the passage, the Authorised version seems preferable. The “sprinkling” is that of the priest who cleanses the leper (Leviticus 4:6; Leviticus 4:17), and this was to be done by Him who was Himself counted as a leper “smitten of God” (Isaiah 53:4). We may probably trace an echo of the words in the “sprinkling clean water” of Ezekiel 36:25, in the “blood of sprinkling,” of Hebrews 10:22; Hebrews 12:24. Here it comes as an explanation of the paradox that the Servant of Jehovah was to bring in “many nations” into the holy city, and yet that the “uncircumcised and unclean” were not to enter it (Isaiah 52:1).

The kings shall shut their mouths . . .—The reverence, as in Isaiah 49:7, Job 29:9; Job 40:4, is that of silent wonder at the change which has passed over the suffering Servant. Wisdom Of Solomon 5:1-5 presents an interesting parallel, the reference there being to the person of the ideal righteous sufferer. In that case, as in this, there was, so to speak, a transfiguration “beyond all that men looked for.”

52:13-15 Here begins that wonderful, minute, and faithful description of the office, character, and glory of the Messiah, which has struck conviction to many of the most hardened unbelievers. Christ is Wisdom itself; in the work of our redemption there appeared the wisdom of God in a mystery. Those that saw him, said, Surely never man looked so miserable: never was sorrow like unto his sorrow. But God highly exalted him. That shall be discovered by the gospel of Christ, which could never be told in any other way. And Christ having once shed his blood for sinners, its power still continues. May all opposers see the wisdom of ceasing from their opposition, and be made partakers of the blood of sprinkling, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost; obeying him, and praising his salvation.So - (כן kên). This word corresponds to 'as' (כאשׁר ka'ăsher) in the former verse. 'In like manner as many were astonished or shocked at thee - so shall he sprinkle many nations.' The one is to be in some respects commensurate with the other. The comparison seems to consist of two points:

1. In regard to the numbers. Many would be shocked: many would be sprinkled by him. Large numbers would be amazed at the fact of his sorrows; and numbers correspondently large would be sprinkled by him.

2. In the effects. Many would be struck dumb with amazement at his appearance; and, in like manner, many would be struck dumb with veneration or respect. He would be regarded on the one hand as having scarce the form of a man; on the other, even kings would be silent before him from profound reverence and awe.

Shall he sprinkle many nations - The word rendered here 'sprinkle' (יזה yazzeh) has been very variously rendered. Jerome renders it, Asperget - 'Shall sprinkle.' The Septuagint, 'So shall many nations express admiration (θαυμάσονται thaumasontai) at him.' The Chaldee, 'So shall he scatter,' or dissipate (יבדר yebaddar) 'many people.' The Syriac renders it, 'Thus shall he purify,' cleanse, make expiation for 'many nations.' The Syriac verb used here means to purify, to cleanse, to make holy; and, in aph., to expiate; and the idea of the translator evidently was, that he would purify by making expiation. See the Syriac word used in Luke 3:17; Acts 11:9; Acts 24:18; Hebrews 9:22; Hebrews 10:4. Castellio renders it as Jerome does; and Jun. and Tremell., 'He shall sprinkle many nations with stupor.' Interpreters have also varied in the sense which they have given to this word. Its usual and proper meaning is to sprinkle, and so it has been here commonly interpreted. But Martini, Rosenmuller, and Gesenius suppose that it is derived from an Arabic word meaning to leap, to spring, to spring up, to leap for joy, to exult; and that the idea here is, that he should cause many nations to exult, or leap for joy. Parallel places, says Gesenius, occur in Isaiah 49:6-7; Isaiah 51:5. Against the common interpretation, 'to sprinkle,' he objects:

1. That the verb could not be construed without the accusative, and that if it means that he would sprinkle with blood, the word blood would be specified.

2. That the connection is opposed to the idea of sprinkling, and that the antithesis requires some word that shall correspond with שׁמם shāmam, 'shall be astonished,' and that the phrase 'they shall be joyful,' or 'he shall cause them to exult with joy,' denotes such antithesis.

To this it may be replied, that the usual, the universal signification of the word (נזה nāzâh) in the Old Testament is to sprinkle. The word occurs only in the following places, and is in all instances translated 'sprinkle' Exodus 29:21; Leviticus 5:9; Leviticus 6:6-17, Leviticus 6:27; Leviticus 8:11, Leviticus 8:30; Leviticus 14:7, Leviticus 14:16, Leviticus 14:27, Leviticus 14:51; Leviticus 16:14-15, Leviticus 16:19; Numbers 8:7; Numbers 19:4, Numbers 19:18-19, Numbers 19:21; 2 Kings 9:33; Isaiah 63:3. It is properly applicable to the act of sprinkling blood, or water; and then comes to be used in the sense of cleansing by the blood that makes expiation for sin, or of cleansing by water as an emblem of purifying. In Ezekiel 36:25, the practice of sprinkling with consecrated water is referred to as synonymous with purifying - though a different word from this is used (זרק zâraq), 'and I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean.' If the word used here means 'to sprinkle,' it is used in one of the following significations:

1. To sprinkle with blood, in allusion to the Levitical rite of sprinkling the blood of the sacrifice, meaning that in that way sin would be expiated and removed Leviticus 14:51; Leviticus 16:14; Hebrews 9:19; Hebrews 10:22; or,

2. By an allusion to the custom of sprinkling with water as emblematic of purity, or cleansing Numbers 8:7; Numbers 19:18; Ezekiel 36:25. If used in the former sense, it means, that the Redeemer would make expiation for sin, and that his blood of purifying would be sprinkled on the nations.

If in the latter, as is most probable, then it means that he would purify them, as objects were cleansed by the sprinkling of water. If in either sense, it means substantially the same thing - that the Redeemer would purify, or cleanse many nations, that is, from their sins, and make them holy. Still there is a difficulty in the passage which does not seem to be solved. This difficulty has been thus expressed by Taylor (Concord.): 'It seems here to have a special meaning, which is not exactly collected from the other places where this word is used. The antithesis points to regard, esteem, admiration. So shall he sprinkle, engage the esteem and admiration of many nations. But how to deduce this from the sense of the word I know not.' It was to meet this difficulty that Martini, Rosenmuller, and Gesenius, propose the sense of leaping, exulting, filling with joy, from the Arabic. But that signification does not accord with the uniform Hebrew usage, and probably the sense of purifying is to be retained. It may be remarked that whichever of the above senses is assigned, it furnishes no argument for the practice of sprinkling in baptism. It refers to the fact of his purifying or cleansing the nations, and not to the ordinance of Christian baptism; nor should it be used as an argument in reference to the mode in which that should be administered.

The kings shall shut their mouths at him - Or rather, kings. It does not refer to any particular kings; but the idea is, that he would be honored by kings. To shut the mouths here indicates veneration and admiration. See Job 29:9-10, where reverence or respect is indicated in the same way:

The princes refrained talking,

And laid their hand upon their mouth:

The nobles held their peace,


15. sprinkle many—Gesenius, for the antithesis to "be astonished," translates, "shall cause … to exult." But the word universally in the Old Testament means either to sprinkle with blood, as the high priest makes an expiation (Le 4:6; 16:18, 19); or with water, to purify (Eze 36:25; compare as to the Spirit, Ac 2:33), both appropriate to Messiah (Joh 13:8; Heb 9:13, 14; 10:22; 12:24; 1Pe 1:2). The antithesis is sufficient without any forced rendering. Many were astonished; so many (not merely men, but) nations shall be sprinkled. They were amazed at such an abject person claiming to be Messiah; yet it is He who shall justify and purify. Men were dumb with the amazement of scorn at one marred more than the lowest of men, yet the highest: even kings (Isa 49:7, 23) shall be dumb with awe and veneration ("shut … mouths"; Job 29:9, 10; Mic 7:16).

that … not … told them—the reason why kings shall so venerate them; the wonders of redemption, which had not been before told them, shall then be announced to them, wonders such as they had never heard or seen parallelled (Isa 55:1; Ro 15:21; 16:25, 26).

So; his exaltation shall be answerable to his humiliation.

Shall he sprinkle; either,

1. With his blood, which is called the blood of sprinkling, Hebrews 12:24; or, shall justify them, as it follows, Isaiah 53:11, which is frequently expressed by washing, as Psalm 51:2,7 Eze 16:9, and by sprinkling clean water, Ezekiel 36:25. Or,

2. With his word or doctrine; which being oft compared to rain or waters, as Deu 32:2 Isaiah 55:10,11 Hab 2:4, &c, may be said to be sprinkled, as it is said to be dropped, Deu 32:2 Ezekiel 20:46 21:2. And this sense seems to be most favoured by the following words.

The kings shall shut their mouths at him; shall be silent before him, out of a profound humility, and reverence, and admiration of his wisdom, and an eager desire to hear and receive counsels and oracles from his mouth. Compare Job 29:9-11,21. They shall no more contend with him, nor blaspheme the true God and religion, as they formerly used to do.

For that which had not been told them shall they see; for they shall hear from his mouth many excellent doctrines, which also will be new and strange to them, such as men are very desirous to hear. And particularly they shall hear from him that comfortable doctrine concerning the conversion and salvation of the Gentiles, which was not only new to them, but was strange and incredible to the most of the Jews themselves.

Shall they consider; or, they shall understand; which is added to show that the seeing in the former clause was meant of discerning these things with the eyes of their minds. So shall he sprinkle many nations,.... This is not to be understood of water baptism, for though this has been administered in many nations, yet not by Christ, nor done by sprinkling; rather of the grace of the Spirit, which is expressed by water, and its application by sprinkling, and is of a cleansing and sanctifying nature, and which Gentiles are made partakers of; but better of the blood of Christ, called the blood of sprinkling, by which the conscience is purged from dead works, and the heart from an evil conscience, and by which multitudes of many nations are justified and sanctified; though it seems best of all to interpret it of the doctrine of Christ, which is compared to rain and dew, and is dropped, distilled, and sprinkled, and falls gently upon the souls of men, and has been published in many nations, with good effect and success. So Kimchi and Ben Melech say the phrase is expressive of speaking. This passage is applied to the Messiah by a Jewish writer (y). The Targum is,

"he will scatter many people;''

and Aben Ezra interprets it of pouring out their blood and taking vengeance on them.

The kings shall shut their mouths at him; astonished at the glories and excellencies of his person and office, as outshining theirs; at his wonderful works of grace and salvation, and as having nothing to object to his doctrines; and if they do not profess them, yet dare not blaspheme them. It seems to denote a reverent attention to them, and a subjection to Christ and his ordinances; and must be understood of their subjects as well as of themselves.

For that which had not been told them shall they see, and that which they had not heard shall they consider; or "understand" (z); this is applied to Christ and his Gospel, in the times of the apostles, Romans 15:20. The Gentiles had not the oracles of God committed to them; could not be told the things of the Gospel, and what relate to Christ, by their oracles, or by their philosophers; nor could they be come at by the light of nature, or by carnal reason; such as the doctrines of a trinity of Persons in the Godhead; of the deity, sonship, and incarnation of Christ; of salvation by him; of justification by his righteousness, pardon by his blood, and atonement by his sacrifice; of the resurrection of the dead, and eternal life: but now Christ and his Gospel are seen and understood by spiritual men; who, besides having a revelation given them, and the Gospel preached unto them, have their eyes opened, and indeed new eyes and understandings given them; so that they have a sight of Christ, of the glory, beauty, and fulness of his person by faith, through the glass of the word, so as to approve of him, appropriate him, and become like unto him; and of his Gospel, and the doctrines of it, so as to like and esteem them, believe them, distinguish them, and look upon them with wonder and pleasure.

(y) Baal Hatturim in Leviticus 16.14. (z) Sept.; intelligent, Calvin; "intellexerunt", Vitringa.

So {p} shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their {q} mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they {r} consider.

(p) He will spread his word through many nations.

(q) In sign of reverence, and as being astonished at his excellency.

(r) By the preaching of the gospel.

15. so shall he sprinkle many nations] The verb rendered “sprinkle” means elsewhere to “scatter (a liquid) in small drops,” and its usage is confined to the ceremonial act illustrated by Leviticus 4:6; Numbers 19:18 f. etc. This is the sense intended by the A.V. and the ancient authorities (Aquila, Theodotion, Vulg.) which it follows; the antithesis suggested being that as the Servant had been shunned by many as unclean, so he shall (metaphorically) “sprinkle” them, i.e. make them clean. But this interpretation imports into the passage ideas which are not expressed, and is besides inadmissible on grammatical grounds; i.e. the verb always means to sprinkle (a liquid), not to besprinkle (a person or thing). The only rendering at all compatible with the ceremonial use of the word would be that of the Targ.: “so shall he scatter many nations,” where the nations are actually, by a most unnatural metaphor, compared to spirting drops of water. To reach a satisfactory sense it is only necessary to assume that the Hebrew verb had a wider range of meaning than is represented in the O.T. It might be causative of a verb (found in Arabic) meaning to “spring” or “leap,” just as the English “sprinkle” is perhaps etymologically the causative of “spring.” We may thus render with R.V. marg. so will he startle many nations, i.e. “cause them to spring” in surprise, or (better) “cause them to rise up suddenly” in reverential admiration. Cf. ch. Isaiah 49:7 and Job 29:8 (“The aged arose and stood up”). Most modern writers agree in this explanation, although some have recourse to emendation of the text. The LXX. expresses the same general idea (θαυμάσονται ἔθνη πολλά, “many nations shall marvel”).

kings shall shut their mouths because of him (R.V. marg.)] Comp. again Job’s touching description of the respect paid to him in the days of his prosperity: “The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouth. The nobles held their peace, and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth” (Isaiah 29:9 f.). The art. before “kings” should be omitted (as in R.V.).

for that which had not been told them &c.] The meaning is either that the exaltation of the Servant is an event of which they had received no announcement beforehand, or that it is one the like of which had never been known. If the reference be to the coming elevation of Israel, either sense would be suitable; if on the other hand the resurrection of an individual be predicted, the second would be more appropriate.Verse 15. - So shall he sprinkle many nations. The Septuagint has, "So shall many nations marvel at him;" and this translation is followed by Gesenius and Ewald. Mr. Cheyne thinks that the present Hebrew text is corrupt, and suggests that a verb was used antithetical to the "astonied" of ver. 14, expressing "joyful surprise." It is certainly hard to see how the idea of "sprinkling," even if it can mean "purifying," comes in here. Kings shall shut their mouths at him; rather, because of him. In reverential awe of his surpassing greatness (comp. Micah 7:16). That which had not been told them shall they see. They will learn the facts of Christ's humiliation, sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven - events that it had never entered into the heart of man to conceive, and of which, therefore, no tongue had ever spoken.

Zion is restored, inasmuch as Jehovah turns away her misery, brings back her exiles, and causes the holy city to rise again from her ruins. "Break out into exultation, sing together, ye ruins of Jerusalem: for Jehovah hath comforted His people, He hath redeemed Jerusalem." Because the word of consolation has become an act of consolation, i.e., of redemption, the ruins of Jerusalem are to break out into jubilant shouting as they rise again from the ground.
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