Isaiah 60:2
For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise on you, and his glory shall be seen on you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) The darkness shall cover the earth . . .—The darkness which had shrouded Zion still spreads its veil over the heathen nations of the world, but they also are to share in the light which is to stream forth from the new Jerusalem. (Comp. Malachi 4:2; Psalm 84:11.)

Isaiah 60:2. For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth — Ignorance, idolatry, and all kinds of errors and vices; and gross darkness the people — Like that of Egypt; the most palpable blindness and infatuation as to divine things; but the Lord — Christ, the bright and morning-star, the day- spring from on high, or, rather, the Sun of righteousness, Revelation 22:16; Luke 1:78; Malachi 4:2; shall arise upon thee — By his gospel and his grace, bringing light to those that before sat in darkness, and in the shadow of death; and his glory shall be seen upon thee — Shall be wonderfully conspicuous. “The design of the Holy Spirit in this clause, as I suppose,” says Vitringa, “is to describe the state of the nations of the world, at the time when God should illuminate the church with this light, as if by a new advent of his Son, and a repeated manifestation of his divine kingdom. Almost all the world should be found in a similar state of darkness to that wherein the Son of God found it at his first coming; and if we might form any judgment from the state of things, from the darkness which now overspreads the earth, through the prevalence of Popery, infidelity, and immorality, in the countries professing Christianity, and Mohammedanism and paganism in the other regions of the earth, we may reasonably conclude, that these words of the prophet, at the period alluded to, will not want their exact completion.”60:1-8 As far as we have the knowledge of God in us, and the favour of God towards us, our light is come. And if God's glory is seen upon us to our honour, we ought, not only with our lips, but in our lives, to return its praise. We meet with nothing in the history of the Jews which can be deemed a fulfilment of the prophecy in this chapter; we must conclude it relates principally to future events. It predicts the purity and enlargement of the church. The conversion of souls is here described. They fly to Christ, to the church, to the word and ordinances, as doves to their own home; thither they fly for refuge and shelter, thither they fly for rest. What a pleasant sight to see poor souls hastening to Christ!For behold - Lo, darkness covers the earth. This is designed to turn the attention to the fact that all the rest of the world would be enveloped in deep spiritual night.

Darkness - (See the notes at Isaiah 45:7).

Shall cover the earth - Shall envelope the whole world except where it is illuminated by the gospel. It is needless to say that this was the fact when the Messiah came, and that it is still extensively true also.

And gross darkness - Lowth renders this, 'A thick vapor.' Herder. 'Deep obscurity.' Septuagint, Γνόφος Gnophos - Cloud, shade, tempest. The Hebrew word (ערפל ‛ărâpel) usually denotes thick cloud, cloudy darkness, gloom; and is often applied to the thick clouds of a tempest Exodus 20:18; Deuteronomy 4:11; Psalm 18:10. It is a word of intenser meaning than that which is rendered 'darkness' (השׁך chôshek) and the idea here is, that the nations would be enveloped in a cloud of ignorance and sin so dense and obscure that no light could penetrate it - a description strikingly applicable to the whole pagan world.

But the Lord shall arise upon thee - Like the sun. That is, Yahweh would manifest his perfections to them in a glorious manner.

Shall be seen upon thee - There is more emphatic meaning in the original here than is conveyed in our translation. The Hebrew word (יראה yērâ'eh) does not mean merely that that glory would be visible, but that it would be conspicuous. It would be so bright and luminous that it would be seen afar - like a cloud or column of glory standing over Jerusalem that would be conspicuous to far distant people.

2. darkness … earth—the rest of the earth: in contrast with "light … upon thee" (Isa 60:1). The earth will be afterwards enlightened through Israel (Isa 9:2).

be seen—conspicuously: so the Hebrew.

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. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people,.... Like that which covered the land of Egypt, when there was light in Goshen: and this may be meant either of the darkness of ignorance, idolatry, superstition, false doctrine, and false worship, that should cover the far greater part of the nations of the world, before this light and glory should break out, as it does at this day; some parts of it being covered with Pagan darkness, others with Mahometan darkness, and others with Papal darkness; and a very small spot it is where the light of the Gospel is, and that clear, but among a very few; for the most part it is not clear nor dark, it is not day nor night; and this is the evening time, in which, ere long, it shall be light; see Zechariah 14:6 or else this may design the distress that the antichristian states will be in, when this light shall break forth; the kingdom of the beast will be full of darkness, distress, and confusion, Revelation 16:10,

but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee: as on the tabernacle of old, Leviticus 9:23 to which the allusion is, Isaiah 4:5 this shows that the light and glory of the Lord, in the preceding verse, design the Lord himself, and his gracious purpose, and the display of his glory in the Gospel now preached; and that it will be visible in the church, and taken notice of by others, and induce them, and even great personages, to come unto it, as follows: or "he shall be seen", or "appear", in "his glory upon thee"; so Ben Melech renders it, supposing that "in", is wanting; and so the sense is, that Christ shall appear in the glory of his person and of his offices, and especially his kingly office; and in the glory of his grace and righteousness, in the ministration of his word among his people. The Jews (r) apply this to the first coming of Christ, which belongs to his spiritual reign.

(r) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 99. 1.

For, behold, the darkness shall cover the {b} earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

(b) Signifying, that all men are in darkness till God gives them the light of his Spirit, and that this light shines to no one, but to those that are in his Church.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2, 3. While Zion is thus illuminated by the presence of Jehovah the heathen world still lies in darkness. Jerusalem is the one point of light on the earth’s surface, to which the nations and their kings are attracted. For people read with R.V. peoples.

but the Lord &c.] Better: but upon thee (emphatic) shall Jehovah arise.Verse 2. - For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth. As in Egypt a "thick darkness" covered the whole land at the word of Moses (Exodus 10:22), while still "the children of Israel had light in their dwellings," so now the world and "the nations' of the world lay in a deep obscurity, into which scarcely a ray of light penetrated, while on Israel there dawned a glory which streamed from the throne of God, and at once transfigured her, and gave her the appearance of an angel of the Most High. In the radiance of this light she was to stand up and show herself, and then great results would follow. The confession of personal sins is followed by that of the sinful state of society. "And right is forced back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth has fallen in the market-place, and honesty finds no admission. And truth became missing, and he who avoids evil is outlawed." In connection with mishpât and tsedâqâh here, we have not to think of the manifestation of divine judgment and justice which is prevented from being realized; but the people are here continuing the confession of their own moral depravity. Right has been forced back from the place which it ought to occupy (hissı̄g is the word applied in the law to the removal of boundaries), and righteousness has to look from afar off at the unjust habits of the people, without being able to interpose. And why are right and righteousness - that united pair so pleasing to God and beneficial to man - thrust out of the nation, and why do they stand without? Because there is no truth or uprightness in the nation. Truth wanders about, and stands no longer in the midst of the nation; but upon the open street, the broad market-place, where justice is administered, and where she ought above all to stand upright and be preserved upright, she has stumbled and fallen down (cf., Isaiah 3:8); and honesty (nekhōchâh), which goes straight forward, would gladly enter the limits of the forum, but she cannot: people and judges alike form a barrier which keeps her back. The consequence of this is indicated in Isaiah 59:15: truth in its manifold practical forms has become a missing thing; and whoever avoids the existing voice is mishtōlēl (part. hithpoel, not hithpoal), one who is obliged to let himself be plundered and stripped (Psalm 76:6), to be made a shōlâl (Micah 1:8), Arab. maslûb, with a passive turn given to the reflective meaning, as in התחפּשׂ, to cause one's self to be spied out equals to disguise one's self, and as in the so-called niphal tolerativum (Ewald, 133, b, 2).

The third strophe of the prophecy commences at Isaiah 59:15 or Isaiah 59:16. It begins with threatening, and closes with promises; for the true nature of God is love, and every manifestation of wrath is merely one phase in its development. In consideration of the fact that this corrupt state of things furnishes no prospect of self-improvement, Jehovah has already equipped Himself for judicial interposition. "And Jehovah saw it, and it was displeasing in His eyes, that there was no right. And He saw that there was not a man anywhere, and was astonished that there was nowhere an intercessor: then His arm brought Him help, and His righteousness became His stay. And He put on righteousness as a coat of mail, and the helmet of salvation upon His head; and put on garments of vengeance as armour, and clothed Himself in zeal as in a cloak. According to the deeds, accordingly He will repay: burning wrath to His adversaries, punishment to His foes; the islands He will repay with chastisement." The prophet's language has now toilsomely worked its way through the underwood of keen reproach, of dark descriptions of character, and of mournful confession which has brought up the apostasy of the great mass in all the blacker colours before his mind, from the fact that the confession proceeds from those who are ready for salvation. And now, having come to the description of the approaching judgment, out of whose furnace the church of the future is to spring, it rises again like a palm-tree that has been violently hurled to the ground, and shakes its head as if restored to itself in the transforming ether of the future. Jehovah saw, and it excited His displeasure ("it was evil in His eyes," an antiquated phrase from the Pentateuch, e.g., Genesis 38:10) to see that right (which He loves, Isaiah 61:8; Psalm 37:28) had vanished form the life of His nation. He saw that there was no man there, no man possessing either the disposition or the power to stem this corruption (אישׁ as in Jeremiah 5:1, cf., 1 Samuel 4:9; 1 Kings 2:2, and the old Jewish saying, "Where there is no man, I strive to be a man"). He was astonished (the sight of such total depravity exciting in Him the highest degree of compassion and displeasure) that there was no מפגּיע, i.e., no one to step in between God and the people, and by his intercession to press this disastrous condition of the people upon the attention of God (see Isaiah 53:12); no one to form a wall against the coming ruin, and cover the rent with his body; no one to appease the wrath, like Aaron (Numbers 17:12-13) or Phinehas (Numbers 25:7).

What the fut. consec. affirms from ותּושׁע onwards, is not something to come, but something past, as distinguished form the coming events announced from Isaiah 59:18 onwards. Because the nation was so utterly and deeply corrupt, Jehovah had quipped Himself for judicial interposition. The equipment was already completed; only the taking of vengeance remained to be effected. Jehovah saw no man at His side who was either able or willing to help Him to His right in opposition to the prevailing abominations, or to support His cause. Then His own arm became His help, and His righteousness His support (cf., Isaiah 63:5); so that He did not desist from the judgment to which He felt Himself impelled, until He had procured the fullest satisfaction for the honour of His holiness (Isaiah 5:16). The armour which Jehovah puts on is now described. According to the scriptural view, Jehovah is never unclothed; but the free radiation of His own nature shapes itself into a garment of light. Light is the robe He wears (Psalm 104:2). When the prophet describes this garment of light as changed into a suit of armour, this must be understood in the same sense as when the apostle in Eph speaks of a Christian's panoply. Just as there the separate pieces of armour represent the manifold self-manifestations of the inward spiritual life so here the pieces of Jehovah's armour stand for the manifold self-manifestations of His holy nature, which consists of a mixture of wrath and love. He does not arm Himself from any outward armoury; but the armoury is His infinite wrath and His infinite love, and the might in which He manifests Himself in such and such a way to His creatures is His infinite will. He puts on righteousness as a coat of mail (שׁרין in half pause, as in 1 Kings 22:34 in full pause, for שׁריון, ō passing into the broader a, as is generally the case in יחפּץ, יחבשׁ; also in Genesis 43:14, שׁכלתי; Genesis 49:3, עז; Genesis 49:27, יטרף), so that His appearance on every side is righteousness; and on His head He sets the helmet of salvation: for the ultimate object for which He goes into the conflict is the redemption of the oppressed, salvation as the fruit of the victory gained by righteousness. And over the coat of mail He draws on clothes of vengeance as a tabard (lxx περιβόλαιον), and wraps Himself in zeal as in a war-cloak. The inexorable justice of God is compared to an impenetrable brazen coat of mail; His joyful salvation, to a helmet which glitters from afar; His vengeance, with its manifold inflictions of punishment, to the clothes worn above the coat of mail; and His wrathful zeal (קנאה from קנא), to be deep red) with the fiery-looking chlamys. No weapon is mentioned, neither the sword nor bow; for His own arm procures Him help, and this alone. But what will Jehovah do, when He has armed Himself thus with justice and salvation, vengeance and zeal? As Isaiah 59:18 affirms, He will carry out a severe and general retributive judgment. גּמוּל and גּמלה signify accomplishment of (on gâmal, see at Isaiah 3:9) a ῥῆμα μέσον; גּמלות, which may signify, according to the context, either manifestations of love or manifestations of wrath, and either retribution as looked at from the side of God, or forfeiture as regarded from the side of man, has the latter meaning here, viz., the works of men and the double-sided gemūl, i.e., repayment, and that in the infliction of punishment. כּעל, as if, as on account of, signifies, according to its Semitic use, in the measure (כּ) of that which is fitting (על); cf., Isaiah 63:7, uti par est propter. It is repeated with emphasis (like לכן in Isaiah 52:6); the second stands without rectum, as the correlate of the first. By the adversaries and enemies, we naturally understand, after what goes before, the rebellious Israelites. The prophet does not mention these, however, but "the islands," that is to say, the heathen world. He hides the special judgment upon Israel in the general judgment upon the nations. The very same fate falls upon Israel, the salt of the world which has lost its savour, as upon the whole of the ungodly world. The purified church will have its place in the midst of a world out of which the crying injustice has been swept away.

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