Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Ch. 62. Intercession for the Salvation of Zion, with further Predictions of her Glory
Although the chapter is commonly treated as forming along with ch. 61 a single discourse, it has a distinct character of its own, and is perhaps better regarded as the last member of the Trilogy commencing with ch. 60. There are three clearly marked sections:
i. Isaiah 62:1-5.—The prophet announces his purpose to labour unremittingly on behalf of Zion (Isaiah 62:1), assured that the time is at hand when her righteousness shall be manifested to all the world, and a new name shall symbolize her new relation to Jehovah (Isaiah 62:2-3). Instead of being forsaken and desolate she shall be reunited to her Husband and her children, and her God shall rejoice over her as a bridegroom over his bride (Isaiah 62:4-5).
ii. Isaiah 62:6-9.—Even now the prophet sees in vision the walls of the city crowned with faithful “watchers,” whose function is to remind Jehovah unceasingly of His promises to Jerusalem (Isaiah 62:6-7). For the encouragement of the “remembrancers” these promises are supplemented by the oath of Jehovah, that strangers shall no longer be permitted to rob the community of the fruit of its labours (Isaiah 62:8-9).
iii. Isaiah 62:10-12.—A last summons to “prepare the way of the people,” i.e. the returning exiles (Isaiah 62:10). The proclamation has gone forth to the end of the world; Zion’s salvation draws near and her sentence of rejection is finally reversed (Isaiah 62:11-12). This last section is almost wholly made up of reminiscences of earlier passages.
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.1. The speaker here is most naturally to be supposed the prophet, although the words are often explained as those of Jehovah Himself. This, however, is less probable, in spite of the fact that the verb for “hold my peace” is always in these chapters, except here and Isaiah 62:6, used by or of Jehovah (ch. Isaiah 42:14, Isaiah 57:11, Isaiah 64:12, Isaiah 65:6); for when Jehovah breaks His silence salvation has come. The thought of the verse is entirely appropriate on the lips of the prophet who wrote ch. Isaiah 61:1 ff.; he declares that he will persevere in the course of action there described until the year of Jehovah’s favour has actually come.
until the righteousness … brightness] i.e. until her right, at present obscured, becomes brilliantly manifest (Psalm 37:6). Comp. ch. Isaiah 60:2-3, Isaiah 58:8.
a lamp that burneth] a burning torch.
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.2. And the Gentiles &c.] Rather, And nations. Cf. ch. Isaiah 60:3.
a new name] the symbol both of a new character and a new relation to God. Cf. Revelation 2:17; Revelation 3:12, ch. Isaiah 65:15.
which the mouth of the Lord shall name] Rather, shall determine (as Genesis 30:28). This new name is a mystery (see Revelation 2:17) yet to be disclosed, and is not to be brought into connexion with the names of Isaiah 62:4 and Isaiah 62:12.
Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.3. a crown of glory] R.V. of beauty. There is probably an allusion to the mural crown which tutelary deities of cities are sometimes represented as wearing, on ancient coins &c. The prophet for some reason hesitates to adopt the heathen image in its completeness; and pictures Jehovah as holding the crown in His hand.
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.4, 5. The reunion of Zion with her Husband and her children. Cf. ch. Isaiah 49:14 ff., Isaiah 54:1 f., 4 ff.
Forsaken] Hebr. ‘ăsûbâh; found as a proper name in 1 Kings 22:42. Similarly Hephzi-bah (= “delight in her”) is the actual name of the mother of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:1).
Beulah] (bĕ‘ûlâh) i.e. “married,” see ch. Isaiah 54:1.
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.5. so shall thy sons marry thee] The harshness of the conception is obvious; and it is hardly relieved by pointing to the double meaning of the verb bâ‘al (“marry” and “possess”). Lowth and others, by a slight emendation of the text, read “so shall thy Builder (Jehovah) marry thee.” (So Cheyne, who refers to Psalm 147:2 : “Jehovah is the builder up of Jerusalem.”) See on Isaiah 49:17.
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,6. I have set … walls] Another translation might be: “I have appointed guardians of thy walls.” The verb for “set” means strictly “commission,” and the thing put in commission is expressed by the prep. rendered “upon.” On either view, the “walls” are the ruined walls of the actual city, rather than those of the ideal Zion of the future (cf. ch. Isaiah 49:16).
ye that make mention of the Lord] Render with R.V. ye that are the Lord’s remembrancers. The words are to be joined with Isaiah 62:7.
6, 7. Jehovah hears perpetually the voice of importunate intercession ascending for the ruined walls of Jerusalem. This is the thought poetically expressed in the two verses, but the details of the conception present several difficult questions. In the first place, Who are meant by the watchmen, or rather watchers? [The word differs from that used in Isaiah 56:10, Isaiah 52:8 (= “lookers out”) and means literally “keepers” or “guards” (Song of Solomon 3:3; Song of Solomon 5:7; Psalm 127:1)]. (a) Some hold that it is here a name for the company of prophets, but this view has really little in its favour. The function ascribed to the watchers is not strictly prophetic, and the word is nowhere else used of a prophet except in ch. Isaiah 21:11 f., where there is obviously a comparison of the prophet to a city watchman. (b) Another, but less probable, opinion is that pious Israelites are meant. (c) The best interpretation seems to be that of the Jewish exegetes, that the “watchers” are angelic beings, forming the invisible guard of the city. The representation, therefore, is purely ideal, and this fact has to be borne in mind in considering the second question, Who is the speaker in the first half of Isaiah 62:6? The prophet could not strictly be said to appoint either angelic or prophetic watchers; hence the prevalent opinion is that Jehovah is the speaker. On the other hand it seems to some unnatural that Jehovah should appoint those who are to remind Himself of His own promises, and it is certainly the prophet who speaks in the latter part of the verse. It might be held that the language is not too bold for the prophet to use of himself in describing a scene which belongs to the region of the spiritual imagination, just as other prophets do things in vision which exceed human authority (cf. Zechariah 11:7 ff.). Cheyne alone regards the three passages Isaiah 61:1 ff., Isaiah 62:1 ff., and Isaiah 62:6 f., as soliloquies of the ideal Servant of Jehovah, or rather of that ideal as reflected in the mind of a later disciple of the second Isaiah.
And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.7. Keep not silence] Lit. “No silence to you!” The word rest in the next clause is the same as “silence.”
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:8. The Lord hath sworn by his right hand &c.] i.e. so surely as He has the power to help. Cf. ch. Isaiah 45:23, Isaiah 54:9.
the sons of the stranger] R.V. strangers.
thy wine] Lit. “new wine,” must.
8, 9. Jehovah has sworn that the Israelites shall no longer be spoiled by their enemies, but shall be secured in the peaceful enjoyment of the fruits of the ground. The phrase “no longer” seems to imply that at the time of writing the community was exposed to the depredations of its hostile neighbours. This would be an additional indication of post-exilic authorship, which is confirmed by the mention of the Temple courts in the end of Isaiah 62:9.
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.9. Cf. ch. Isaiah 65:21-22.
in the courts of my holiness] Render, in my holy courts; not as R.V., “in the courts of my sanctuary.” The allusion is to the festivals in the Temple, where the first-fruits were eaten with rejoicing before Jehovah (Deuteronomy 12:17 f., Isaiah 14:23 ff., Isaiah 16:9-14).
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.10. Go through, go through the gates] To whom are these words addressed? The gates might be those of Babylon, in which case the passage is the exact counterpart of ch. Isaiah 48:20 (“Go ye forth of Babylon”) and Isaiah 52:11 (“go ye out from thence”). It is possible, on the other hand, that those addressed are the present inhabitants of Jerusalem, who are invited to prepare for the final restoration of the Dispersion. The gates must then be those of Jerusalem or of the Temple (so Duhm).
prepare you the way of the people] In ch. Isaiah 40:3 a similar command is addressed to angelic beings, and the “way” is that by which Jehovah Himself is to return, at the head of His people. Here the persons addressed must be the same as in the first clause of the verse; and throughout this section the prophet appears studiously to avoid the idea, so prominent in the earlier part of the book, of a triumphal march of Jehovah in person through the desert to Jerusalem.
cast up the highway] ch. Isaiah 57:14.
lift up an ensign for the peoples (R.V.)] Cf. ch. Isaiah 49:22.
10–12. Announcement of the return of the exiles. The passage resembles ch. Isaiah 48:20 ff., Isaiah 52:11 f.; and at first sight it seems to imply that no exodus from Babylon has as yet taken place. This indeed has been the prevalent view of commentators, based on the assumption that the writer is the same as in the two parallels. But the secondary character of the passage, betrayed by the accumulated citations, is somewhat adverse to this hypothesis, and it will be seen that the language itself is susceptible of a different construction. It is certain that a return of exiled Israelites is announced, but there is nothing to exclude the supposition that (as in ch. Isaiah 60:4; Isaiah 60:9) the return of those who took advantage of the edict of Cyrus lies behind the prophet’s standpoint.
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.11. Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world] Cf. ch. Isaiah 48:20. There redeemed Israel is enjoined to declare to all the world the great salvation it has experienced; here Jehovah Himself makes it known.
thy salvation cometh] Instead of “the Lord God shall come” in ch. Isaiah 40:10.
Behold his reward is with him &c.] Repeated from Isaiah 40:10 (see on the passage). The chief Ancient Versions seem to have felt the want of a personal antecedent to the pronouns; hence they render in the previous clause “thy Saviour” for “thy salvation.”
And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the LORD: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.12. Zion and its people shall then be recognised in their true character by all.
The holy people] The priesthood of humanity; ch. Isaiah 61:6.
The redeemed of the Lord] ch. Isaiah 35:10 [Isaiah 51:10]; cf. Isaiah 48:20.
Sought out] i.e. “much sought after.” Cf. Jeremiah 30:17, “This is Zion whom no man seeketh after.”
A city not forsaken] See Isaiah 62:4.