|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
66:5-14 The prophet turns to those that trembled at God's word, to comfort and encourage them. The Lord will appear, to the joy of the humble believer, and to the confusion of hypocrites and persecutors. When the Spirit was poured out, and the gospel went forth from Zion, multitudes were converted in a little time. The word of God, especially his promises, and ordinances, are the consolations of the church. The true happiness of all Christians is increased by every convert brought to Christ. The gospel brings with it, wherever it is received in its power, such a river of peace, as will carry us to the ocean of boundless and endless bliss. Divine comforts reach the inward man; the joy of the Lord will be the strength of the believer. Both God's mercy and justice shall be manifested, and for ever magnified.
Verses 7, 8. - Before she travailed, etc. Without any long delay, without any labour pains, Zion will bring forth a man-child - a whole nation, which wilt be born at once, and not grow up by slow degrees. The occupation of Jerusalem by the great body of the returned exiles (Ezra 2:1; Ezra 3:1) is intended. Such a second birth of a nation was strange, and without precedent (comp. Isaiah 42:9; Isaiah 43:19). Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? rather, can a land be brought forth in one day? It is not only a people, but a country, that is born anew; not only the Jews, but Judaea.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Before she travailed, she brought forth,.... That is, Zion, as appears from the following verse: lest it should be thought that the interest of Christ would be swallowed up and lost in the destruction of the Jews, this, and what follows, are said concerning the conversion of many of that people, both in the first times of the Gospel, and in the latter day, as well as concerning the calling of the Gentiles, and the uniting of both in one church state. Zion, or the church of God, is here compared to a pregnant woman, that brings forth suddenly and easily, without feeling any pain, or going through any travail, or having any birth throes; at least, feeling very little pain and travail, and having very few pangs, and those, as soon as they come, are gone, and an immediate delivery ensues:
before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child; like a woman before she is scarcely sensible of any pain; as soon as ever she perceives the least uneasiness of this kind, is delivered of a son, to her great joy, and the joy of all about her. This is to be understood, not of the sudden and easy deliverance of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, by the proclamation of Cyrus, which occasioned great joy; much less of the birth of Christ, of the Virgin Mary at the inn, and in the stable, which is the sense of some Popish interpreters; much better do some Jewish writers interpret it of the birth and appearance of Christ, before the troubles of their nation came on; so the Targum,
"before distress comes to her, she shall be redeemed; and before trembling comes upon her, her King shall be revealed;''
that is, the King Messiah; and so some copies have it, according to Galatinus (r); who also makes mention of another exposition of this passage, by R. Moses Haddarsan, if it may be depended on,
"before he should be born that should bring Israel into the last captivity, the Redeemer should be born;''
that is, as he explains it, before the birth of Titus, who destroyed the temple and city of Jerusalem, the Messiah should be born; but the passage refers not to his natural but mystical birth, or the regeneration of a spiritual seed in his church; or of the conversion of the first Christians both in Judea and in the Gentile world; who were like a man child, strong and robust, able to bear and did endure great hardships for the sake of Christ, and do him much work and service, in which they persevered to the end; see Galatians 4:26, as the first Christians did through various persecutions, until the times of Constantine, by whom they were delivered from them, and who is prophesied of as the church's man child, as in Revelation 12:2.
(r) De Arcan. Cathol. Ver. I. 4. c. 11. p. 219.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Before … travailed … brought forth—The accession of numbers, and of prosperity to her, shall be sudden beyond all expectation and unattended with painful effort (Isa 54:1, 4, 5). Contrast with this case of the future Jewish Church the travail-pains of the Christian Church in bringing forth "a man child" (Re 12:2, 5). A man child's birth is in the East a matter of special joy, while that of a female is not so; therefore, it here means the manly sons of the restored Jewish Church, the singular being used collectively for the plural: or the many sons being regarded as one under Messiah, who shall then be manifested as their one representative Head.
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