Isaiah 49:18
Lift up your eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to you. As I live, said the LORD, you shall surely clothe you with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on you, as a bride does.
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(18) Lift up thine eyes.—The daughter of Zion is called on to gaze on the returning exiles. They shall be her gems and her girdle as the bride of her new espousals. A distant parallel is found in the story of the mother of the Gracchi pointing to her children as more precious jewels than those of her wealthy rival.

Isaiah 49:18. Lift up thine eyes round about — And behold numbers flocking unto thee from all quarters. All these shall gather themselves unto thee, &c. — Namely, the Gentiles. Thy church, O Zion, shall not only be restored and established, but vastly enlarged and adorned by an accession of converts from various nations; and come unto thee — To receive instruction from thee, and to be incorporated with thee into one and the same church. Thou shalt clothe thee with them, &c. — Instead of being a disgrace, or a snare and occasion of sin to thee, (as the Gentiles formerly were, when they mixed themselves with the Jews,) they shall be an honour and ornament, in respect of those excellent gifts and graces wherewith they shall enrich and adorn thy community. The addition of such numbers to the church shall complete her clothing, and make her appear comely and considerable. And bind them on thee as a bride doth — The LXX. read, περιθησεις αυτους ως κοσμον νυμφη, Thou shalt put them on thee as a bride her attire; supplying, as Bishop Lowth thinks, a word that appears to be wanting to complete the sense. “Zion clothes herself with her children as a bride clothes herself — with what? with some other thing, certainly;” namely, her ornaments, jewels, or rich dress.49:18-23 Zion is addressed as an afflicted widow, bereaved of her children. Numbers flock to her, and she is assured that they come to be a comfort to her. There are times when the church is desolate and few in number; yet its desolations shall not last for ever, and God will repair them. God can raise up friends for returning Israelites, even among Gentiles. They shall bring their children, and make them thy children. Let all deal tenderly and carefully with young converts and beginners in religion. Princes shall protect the church. It shall appear that God is the sovereign Lord of all. And those who in the exercise of faith, hope, and patience, wait on God for the fulfilment of his promises, shall never be confounded.Lift up thine eyes round about - That is, see the multitudes that shall be converted to thee; see thy ruined city rise again in its former beauty; see the Gentiles come and yield themselves to the worship of the true God; see kings and princes approach and do thee homage.

All these gather themselves - That is, from a far country, from the north, the west, and the south, Isaiah 49:12.

As I live, saith the Lord - The customary form of an oath when Yahweh swears It is a solemn assurance that the event shall as certainly occur as he has an existence (see the note at Isaiah 45:23; compare Jeremiah 22:24; Ezekiel 5:11; Ezekiel 14:16, Ezekiel 14:18, Ezekiel 14:20; Ezekiel 16:48).

Thou shalt surely clothe thee with them - Zion is here represented, as it is often elsewhere, as a female (see the note at Isaiah 1:8); and the accession of converts from abroad is represented under the figure of bridal ornaments. The accession of converts karo the Gentiles should be to her what jewels are to a bride.

And bind them on thee as a bride doth - The sentence here is manifestly incomplete. It means, as a bride binds on her ornaments. The Septuagint has supplied this, and renders it, 'As a bride her ornaments' (ὡς κόσμον νύμφη hōs kosmon numphē). The sentiment is, that the accession of the large humber of converts under the Messiah to the true church of God, would be the real ornament of Zion, and would greatly increase her beauty and loveliness.

18. As Zion is often compared to a bride (Isa 54:5), so the accession of converts is like bridal ornaments ("jewels," Isa 62:3; Mal 3:17). Her literal children are, however, more immediately meant, as the context refers to their restoration; and only secondarily to her spiritual children by conversion to Christ. Israel shall be the means of the final complete conversion of the nations (Mic 5:7; Ro 11:12, 15).

as a bride—namely, binds on her ornaments.

All these, to wit, the Gentiles, as sufficiently appeareth from what hath been already said, and from that which followeth. The sense is, Thy church shall not only be restored and established in Jerusalem, but it shall be vastly enlarged and adorned by the accession of the Gentiles to it.

Come to thee, to receive instruction from thee, and to be incorporated with thee into one and the same church.

As with an ornament; they shall not be a burden, as the Gentiles formerly were when they mixed themselves with the Jews; but an ornament, in respect of those excellent gifts and graces wherewith they shall enrich and honour thy church. Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold,.... Look east, west, north, and south, and behold the flocking converts from all parts; see on Isaiah 49:12. The words are spoken to the church, and for her comfort; and so the Targum,

"lift up thine eyes round about, O Jerusalem, and see all the children of the people of thy captivity:''

all these gather themselves together, and come to thee; though of different nations, and come from different quarters, yet coalesce together, make one body, and join themselves with the church, in which they centre, and are incorporated:

as I live, saith the Lord; this is the form of an oath, sometimes used by the Lord, to denote the importance and certainty of a thing, and to assure his people of it:

thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all as with an ornament; as children's children are the crown of old men, Proverbs 17:6, so young converts are the crown, glory, and ornament of the church; even such who are beautified with the graces of the Spirit, and whose conversations are as become the Gospel of Christ:

and bind them on thee as a bride doeth; her clothes, the attire of her head, and her jewels. So in the latter day, when the Jews are converted, and the fulness of the Gentiles brought in, the marriage of the Lamb will be come, and the church made ready, as a bride, for her husband, and be very beautiful and comely in his sight, as well as very comfortable and glorious in herself; and which will be matter of joy to all the saints, Revelation 19:7. The Targum is,

"all these shall be unto thee as a garment of glory, and their works in the midst of thee as the ornament of a bride.''

Lift up thy eyes around, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the LORD, thou shalt surely {z} clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth.

(z) He shows what are the ornaments of the Church: to have many children, who are assembled by the word of God, and governed by his Spirit.

18. As I live, saith the Lord] Jehovah’s oath by Himself, ch. Isaiah 45:23. It introduces a new, though closely related, conception; the inhabitants being compared to the bridal attire with which Zion replaces the signs of her widowhood.

bind them on thee] Strictly gird them on. The verb is connected with the word for “girdle” in ch. Isaiah 3:20 (qishshûrîm, A.V. “headbands”). It was evidently an ornamental girdle, possibly a part of the bridal costume (cf. Jeremiah 2:32, “can … a bride forget her girdle”).Verse 18. - Lift up thine eyes round about and behold (comp. Isaiah 50:4, where the same phrase occurs in connection with the conversion of the Gentiles). All these gather themselves together (comp. ver. 12). Thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament (comp. Zechariah 9:16). The restored Church, receiving adhesions from the nations on all sides, will be like a bride who puts on her ornaments, and is thereby made glorious to look upon (Isaiah 61:10, ad fin.). The entire Church, not any one part, is designated as the "Bride" of Christ in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:29, 32; Revelation 21:2, 9; Revelation 22:17). The next two vv. describe (though only with reference to Israel, the immediate circle) what is the glory of the vocation to which Jehovah, in accordance with His promise, exalts His chosen One. "Thus saith Jehovah, In a time of favour have I heard thee, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee: and I form thee, and set thee for a covenant of the people, to raise up the land, to apportion again desolate inheritances, saying to prisoners, Go ye out: to those who are in darkness, Come ye to the light." Jehovah heard His servant, and came to his help when he prayed to Him out of the condition of bondage to the world, which he shared with his people. He did it at the time for the active display of His good pleasure, and for the realizing of salvation, which had been foreseen by Him, and had now arrived. The futures which follow are to be taken as such. The fact that Jehovah makes His servant "a covenant of the people," i.e., the personal bond which unites Israel and its God in a new fellowship (see Isaiah 42:6), is the fruit of his being heard and helped. The infinitives with Lamed affirm in what way the new covenant relation will be made manifest. The land that has fallen into decay rises into prosperity again, and the desolate possessions return to their former owners. This manifestation of the covenant grace, that has been restored to the nation again, is effected through the medium of the servant of Jehovah. The rendering of the lxx is quite correct: τοῦ καταστῆσαι τὴν γῆν καὶ κληρονομῆσαι κληρονομίας ἐρήμους λέγοντα לאמר is a dicendo governed by both infinitives. The prisoners in the darkness of the prison and of affliction are the exiles (Isaiah 42:22). The mighty word of the servant of Jehovah brings to them the light of liberty, in connection with which (as has been already more than once observed) the fact should be noticed, that the redemption is viewed in connection with the termination of the captivity, and, in accordance with the peculiar character of the Old Testament, is regarded as possessing a national character, and therefore is purely external.

The person of the servant of Jehovah now falls into the background again, and the prophecy proceeds with a description of the return of the redeemed. "They shall feed by the ways, and there is pasture for them upon all field-hills. They shall not hunger nor thirst, and the mirage and sun shall not blind them: for He that hath mercy on them shall lead them, and guide them by bubbling water-springs. And I make all my mountains ways, and my roads are exalted. Behold these, they come from afar; and, behold, these from the north and from the sea; and these from the land of the Sinese." The people returning home are represented as a flock. By the roads that they take to their homes, they are able to obtain sufficient pasture, without being obliged to go a long way round in order to find a sufficient supply; and even upon bare sandy hills (Isaiah 41:18) there is pasture found for them. Nothing is wanting; even the shârâb (see Isaiah 35:7) and the sun do not hurt them, the former by deceiving and leading astray, the latter by wearying them with its oppressive heat: for He whose compassion has been excited by their long pining misery (Isaiah 41:17-20) is leading them, and bringing them along in comfort by bubbling springs of real and refreshing water (ינחל, as Petrarch once says of shepherds, Move la schira sua soavemente). Jehovah also makes all the mountains into roads for those who are returning home, and the paths of the desert are lifted up, as it were, into well-made roads (yerumūn, Ges. 47, Anm. 4). They are called my mountains and my highways (differently from Isaiah 14:25), because they are His creation; and therefore He is also able to change them, and now really does change them for the good of His people, who are returning to the land of their forefathers out of every quarter of the globe. Although in Psalm 107:3 yâm (the sea) appears to stand for the south, as referring to the southern part of the Mediterranean, which washes the coast of Egypt, there is no ground at all in the present instance for regarding it as employed in any other than its usual sense, namely the west; mērâchōq (from far) is therefore either the south (cf., Isaiah 43:6) or the east, according to the interpretation that we give to 'erets Sı̄nı̄m, as signifying a land to the east or to the south.

The Phoenician Sinim (Ges. Isaiah 10:17), the inhabitants of a fortified town in the neighbourhood of Area, which has now disappeared, but which was seen not only by Jerome, but also by Mariono Sanuto (de castro Arachas ad dimidiam leucam est oppidum Sin), cannot be thought of, for the simple reason that this Sin was too near, and was situated to the west of Babylon and to the north of Jerusalem; whilst Sin ( equals Pelusium) in Egypt, to which Ewald refers, did not give its name to either a tribe or a land. Arias Montanus was among the first to suggest that the Sinim are the Sinese (Chinese); and since the question has been so thoroughly discussed by Gesenius (in his Commentary and Thesaursu), most of the commentators, and also such Orientalists as Langles (in his Recherches asiatiques), Movers (in his Phoenicians), Lassen (in his Indische Alterthumskunde, i.-856-7), have decided in favour of this opinion. The objection brought against the supposition, that the name of the Chinese was known to the nations of the west at so early a period as this, viz., that this could not have been the case till after the reign of the emperor Shi-hoang-ti, of the dynasty of Thsin, who restored the empire that had been broken up into seven smaller kingdoms (in the year 247 b.c.), and through whose celebrated reign the name of his dynasty came to be employed in the western nations as the name of China generally, is met by Lassen with the simple fact that the name occurs at a much earlier period than this, and in many different forms, as the name of smaller states into which the empire was broken up after the reign of Wu-wang (1122-1115 b.c.). "The name Θῖναι (Strabo), Σῖναι (Ptol.), Τζίνιτζα (Kosmas), says the Sinologist Neumann, did not obtain currency for the first time from the founder of the great dynasty of Tsin; but long before this, Tsin was the name of a feudal kingdom of some importance in Shen-si, one of the western provinces of the Sinese land, and Fei-tse, the first feudal king of Tsin, began to reign as early as 897 b.c." It is quite possible, therefore, that the prophet, whether he were Isaiah or any other, may have heard of the land of the Sinese in the far east, and this is all that we need assume; not that Sinese merchants visited the market of the world on the Euphrates (Movers and Lassen), but only that information concerning the strange people who were so wealthy in rare productions, had reached the remote parts of the East through the medium of commerce, possibly from Ophir, and through the Phoenicians. But Egli replies: "The seer on the streams of Babel certainly could not have described any exiles as returning home from China, if he had not known that some of his countrymen were pining there in misery, and I most positively affirm that this was not the case." What is here assumed - namely, that there must have been a Chinese diaspora in the prophet's own time - is overthrown by what has been already observed in Isaiah 11:11; and we may also see that it is to purely by accident that the land of the Sinese is given as the farthest point to the east, from my communications concerning the Jews of China in the History of the Post-biblical Poetry of the Jews (1836, pp. 58-62, cf., p. 21). I have not yet seen Sionnet's work, which has appeared since, viz., Essai sur les Juifs de la Chine et sur l'influence, qu'ils ont eue sur la litrature de ce vaste empire, avant l're chrtienne; but I have read the Mission of Enquiry to the Jews in China in the Jewish Intelligence, May 1851, where a facsimile of their thorah is given. The immigration took place from Persia (cf., ‛Elâm, Isaiah 11:11), at the latest, under the Han dynasty (205 b.c.-220 a.d.), and certainly before the Christian era.

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