Isaiah 54:4
Fear not; for you shall not be ashamed: neither be you confounded; for you shall not be put to shame: for you shall forget the shame of your youth, and shall not remember the reproach of your widowhood any more.
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(4) Thou shalt forget.—The “shame of thy youth,” was the Egyptian bondage, from which Jehovah chose Israel to be His bride (Jeremiah 3:1-11; Ezekiel 16:1-14). The “reproach of widowhood” was the captivity in Babylon.

Isaiah 54:4-5. Thou shalt not be ashamed — As formerly, of the straitness of thy borders, and the fewness of thy children. Thou shalt forget the reproach of thy youth — Thy barrenness in former times: so great shall be thy fertility and felicity, that it shall cause thee to forget thy former unfruitfulness and misery. And shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood — That time and state when thou wast like a widow, disconsolate and desolate, deprived or forsaken of her husband, and having few or no children. For thy Maker — He who made thee out of nothing, and therefore can fulfil all these promises, how improbable soever their fulfilment may appear; is thy husband — Will own thee for his spouse, and give thee proof of his conjugal affection. The Lord of hosts — Who hath the sovereign command of all men and creatures, and therefore can subdue the Gentiles to thee, and can make thee to increase and multiply in so prodigious a measure, even in thy old age, notwithstanding thy barrenness in the days of thy youth, of which he speaks in the foregoing verse. The God of the whole earth shall he be called — The God and Father of all nations. Whereas formerly he was called the God of Israel only, and the Gentiles had no special relation to him, the time is now coming when he shall be called the God of the Gentiles also, having admitted them into the same covenant relation to himself with the Jews, and the partition wall between Jews and Gentiles being broken down. See Zechariah 14:9; Romans 3:29; Ephesians 2:11-16.54:1-5 Observe the low state of religion in the world, for a long time before Christianity was brought in. But by preaching the gospel, multitudes were converted from idols to the living God. This is matter of great rejoicing to the church. The bounds of the church were extended. Though its state on earth is but mean and movable, like a tent or tabernacle, it is sometimes a growing state, and must be enlarged as the family increases. But the more numerous the church grows, the more she must fortify herself against errors and corruptions. Thy Maker is thy Husband. Christ is the Holy One of Israel, the Mediator of the covenant made with the Old Testament church. Long he had been called the God of Israel; but now he shall be called the God of the whole earth. And he will cleanse from sin, and cause every true believer to rejoice in this sacred union. We never can enough admire this mercy, or duly value this privilege.Fear not ... - (See Isaiah 41:10, note, Isaiah 41:14, note).

Neither shalt thou be confounded - All these words mean substantially the same thing; and the design of the prophet is to affirm, in the strongest possible manner, that the church of God should be abundantly prospered and enlarged. The image of the female that was barren is kept up, and the idea is, that there should be no occasion of the shame which she felt who had no children.

For thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth - In the abundant increase and glory of future times, the circumstances of shame which attended their early history shall be forgotten. The 'youth' of the Jewish people refers doubtless to the bondage of Egypt, and the trials and calamities which came upon them there. So great should be their future prosperity and glory, that all this should be forgotten.

The reproach of thy widowhood - The captivity at Babylon, when they were like a woman bereft of her husband and children (see the notes at Isaiah 49:21).

4. (Isa 41:10, 14).

shame of thy youth—Israel's unfaithfulness as wife of Jehovah, almost from her earliest history.

reproach of widowhood—Israel's punishment in her consequent dismissal from God and barrenness of spiritual children in Babylon and her present dispersion (Isa 54:1; Isa 49:21; Jer 3:24, 25; 31:19; Ho 2:2-5).

Thou shalt not be ashamed for that barrenness and widowhood, which once was the matter of thy grief and shame, because now thou shalt be delivered from it, and God will own thee for his wife, and beget children of thee; as it is explained in the following words.

Thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth; it shall be forgotten both by thee and others: thou shalt not be upbraided with thy former barrenness in thy youthful state, nor confounded and tormented with the remembrance of it; both remembering and forgetting in Scripture use connote or comprehend those affections which naturally and usually follow upon them; so great shall be thy fertility and felicity, that it shall cause thee to forget thy former unfruitfulness and misery, as men commonly do in like cases, as Genesis 41:51 Job 11:16 Isaiah 65:16 John 16:21.

The reproach of thy widowhood; that time and state when thou wert like a widow, disconsolate and desolate, forsaken by her husband, and having in a manner no children; which was a great reproach, especially among the Jews. Fear not,.... The fulfilment of these things; however unlikely and unpromising they might seem, yet God was able to perform them; and therefore way should not be given to a fearful, distrustful, and unbelieving heart:

for thou shall not be ashamed; as men are, when disappointed of what they have been hoping for and expecting; but so it should not be with the church, she should not be ashamed of her hope, faith, and confidence; for there would be a performance of all that the Lord had spoken: nor should she be ashamed of her barrenness, which should cease; and of the fewness of her children or converts, which would be many; and of the straitness of the place of her tent or habitation, which would now be enlarged:

neither be thou confounded, for thou shalt not be put to shame; other words made use of to express the same thing, and for the further confirmation of it, that she needed not, and that she should not be put to the blush, or to shame and confusion, on the above accounts:

for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth; by which may be meant either the small number of converts at the first preaching of the Gospel; or more especially that there were so few of the wise and learned, the rich and noble, that embraced it, with which the first Christians were greatly upbraided; or those persecutions which attended them the three first centuries, which, being now at an end, shall be forgotten:

and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more; which signifies much the same as before, the seeming desolate estate of the church upon the death of Christ; when she seemed to be deprived of her husband, and forsaken by him, and left as a widow, and without children, barren and unfruitful; which was reckoned reproachful with the Jews, Luke 1:25.

Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy {d} youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy {e} widowhood any more.

(d) The afflictions which you suffered at the beginning.

(e) When you were refused for your sins, Isa 50:1.

4. the reproach of thy widowhood clearly refers to the period of the Exile when Zion regarded herself as cast off by Jehovah. The sense of the shame of thy youth is less obvious. Since the conception has some affinities with the striking allegory in Ezekiel 16 it is probable that the reference goes back to the origin of the nation (cf. Ezekiel 16:4-8); the reference being to the Egyptian oppression.

4–6. Zion shall forget her former shame in the joy of reconciliation to her God.Verse 4. - Thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth; rather, of thy maidenhood; i.e. of the time when thou wert a maiden, before by the covenant of Sinai Jehowth became thy Husband (ver. 5). The "shame" of this period was 'the Egyptian bondage. Israel's later condition would be such that the very recollection of this bondage would fade away and cease. The reproach of thy widowhood. Israel became a "widow" when Jehovah withdrew his presence from her, when the Shechinah disappeared from the temple, and the temple itself was destroyed, and Jerusalem was a desolation, and the people captives in a far land. The special "reproach of her widowhood" was the Babylonian captivity, with the sins that had brought it about. This too would be forgotten in the good time to come, amid the glories of the Messianic kingdom. The last turn in the prophecy, which commences here, carries out Isaiah 53:6 still further, and opens up the background of His fate. The gracious counsel of God for our salvation was accomplished thus. "And it pleased Jehovah to bruise Him, to afflict Him with disease; if His soul would pay a trespass-offering, He should see posterity, should live long days, and the purpose of Jehovah should prosper through His hand." החלי cannot possibly be equivalent to החלי, as Hitzig supposes. An article appended to a noun never obliterates the fundamental character of its form (not even in הארץ). Nor does Bttcher's suggestion, that we should read החלי as an accusative of more precise definition, commend itself; for what would the article do in that case? It is the hiphil of חלה, like the Syriac agil from gelo; or rather, as even in Syriac this אגלי is equivalent to אגליא, of חלא, 2 Chronicles 16:12 (cf., תּחלוּאים), like החטי in 2 Kings 13:6 and Jeremiah 32:35, from חטא. דּכּאו is placed under דּכא) ( equals דּכאו with Dag. dirimens) in Gesenius' Lexicon; but this substantive is a needless fiction. דכאו is an inf. piel: conterere eum (Jerome), not καθαρίσαι αὐτόν (lxx from דּכא) equals זכה). According to Micah 6:13 (הכּותך החליתי, I hurt to smite thee, i.e., I smite thee with a painful blow), החלי דכּאו are apparently connected, in the sense of "And it pleased Jehovah to bruise Him painfully." But both logically and syntactically this would require the opposite construction, viz., דכאו החלי. דּכּאו must therefore be an infinitive, depending upon חפץ, according to Job 33:32 ( equals εὐδόκησε; the lxx thoughtlessly renders it βούλεται). The infinitive construction is then changed into the finite; for even החלי is subordinate to חפץ, as in Hosea 5:11 (cf., Isaiah 42:21; Ges. 142, 3); "he would, made ill," being equivalent to "he would make ill," i.e., he would plunge into distress. There is no necessity to repeat דכאו after החלי, in the sense of "he caused sore evil therewith," viz., with the דכאו. It was men who inflicted upon the Servant of God such crushing suffering, such deep sorrow; but the supreme causa efficiens in the whole was God, who made the sin of men subservient to His pleasure, His will, and predetermined counsel. The suffering of His Servant was to be to Him the way to glory, and this way of His through suffering to glory was to lead to the establishment of a church of the redeemed, which would spring from Him; in other words, it would become the commencement of that fulfilment of the divine plan of salvation which He, the ever-living, ever-working One, would carry out to completion. We give up the idea that תּשׂים is to be taken as addressed by Jehovah to "His Servant." The person acting is the Servant, and it is to Jehovah that the action refers. But Hofmann's present view, viz., that tâsı̄m is addressed to the people, is still less admissible. It is the people who are speaking here; and although the confession of the penitent Israel runs on from Isaiah 53:11 (where the confessing retrospective view of the past becomes prospective and prophetic glance at the future) in a direct prophetic tone, and Isaiah 53:10 might form the transition to this; yet, if the people were addressed in this word tâsı̄m, it would be absolutely necessary that it should be distinctly mentioned in this connection. And is it really Israel which makes the soul of the Servant an 'âshâm, and not rather the Servant Himself? No doubt it is true, that if nothing further were stated here than that "the people made the life of the Servant of God an 'âshâm, inasmuch as it treated Him just as if it had a pricking in its conscience so long as it suffered Him to live," - which is a natural sequel in Hofmann's case to his false assumption, that the passion described in Isaiah 53:1-12 was merely the culminating point in the sufferings which the Servant was called to endure as a prophet, whereas the prophet falls into the background here behind the sacrifice and the priest - we should no doubt have one scriptural testimony less to support the satisfactio vicaria.

(Note: In the first edition of Hofmann's Schriftbeweis (i. 2, 137), in which he regarded tâsı̄m as addressed to God, he set aside the orthodox view with the remark, that God Himself makes good the injury that men have done to Him by giving up the life of His Servant. In the second edition (i. 2, 208) he supposes the people to be addressed, and it is therefore the people who make the Servant's life an 'âshâm. The first edition contained the following correct definition of 'âshâm: "In general, it denotes what one person pays to make good an injury done by him to another." The exposition which follows above will show how we are forced to adopt the orthodox view, if we adhere to this definition and regard the Servant Himself as presenting the 'âshâm.)

But if we adopt the following rendering, which is the simplest, and the one least open to exception: if His soul offered (placed, i.e., should have placed; cf., Job 14:14, si mortuus fuerit) an 'âshâm - it is evident that 'âshâm has here a sacrificial meaning, and indeed a very definite one, inasmuch as the 'âshâm (the trespass-offering) was a sacrifice, the character of which was very sharply defined. It is self-evident, however, that the 'âshâm paid by the soul of the Servant must consist in the sacrifice of itself, since He pays it by submitting to a violent death; and a sacrifice presented by the nephesh (the soul, the life, the very self) must be not only one which proceeds from itself, but one which consists in itself. If, then, we would understand the point of view in which the self-sacrifice of the Servant of God is placed when it is called an 'âshâm, we must notice very clearly the characteristic distinction between this kind of sacrifice and every other. Many of the ritual distinctions, however, may be indicated superficially, inasmuch as they have no bearing upon the present subject, where we have to do with an antitypical and personal sacrifice, and not with a typical and animal one. The 'âshâm was a sanctissimum, like that of the sin-offering (Leviticus 6:10, Leviticus 6:17, and Leviticus 14:13), and according to Leviticus 7:7 there was "one law" for them both. This similarity in the treatment was restricted simply to the fact, that the fat portions of the trespass-offering, as well as of the sin-offering, were placed upon the altar, and that the remainder, as in the case of those sin-offerings the blood of which was not taken into the interior of the holy place, was assigned to the priests and to the male members of the priestly families (see Leviticus 6:22; Leviticus 7:6). There were the following points of contrast, however, between these two kinds of sacrifice: (1.) The material of the sin-offerings varied considerably, consisting sometimes of a bullock, sometimes of a pair of doves, and even of meal without oil or incense; whereas the trespass-offering always consisted of a ram, or at any rate of a male sheep. (2.) The choice of the victim, and the course adopted with its blood, was regulated in the case of the sin-offering according to the condition of the offerer; but in the case of the trespass-offering they were neither of them affected by this in the slightest degree. (3.) Sin-offerings were presented by the congregation, and upon holy days, whereas trespass-offerings were only presented by individuals, and never upon holy days. (4.) In connection with the trespass-offering there was none of the smearing of the blood (nethı̄nâh) or of the sprinkling of the blood (hazzâ'âh) connected with the sin-offering, and the pouring out of the blood at the foot of the altar (shephı̄khâh) is never mentioned.The ritual for the blood consisted purely in the swinging out of the blood (zerı̄qâh), as in the case of the whole offering and of the peace-offerings. There is only one instance in which the blood of the trespass-offering is ordered to be smeared, viz., upon certain portions of the body of the leper (Leviticus 14:14), for which the blood of the sin-offering that was to be applied exclusively to the altar could not be used. And in general we find that, in the case of the trespass-offering, instead of the altar-ritual, concerning which the law is very brief (Leviticus 7:1-7), other acts that are altogether peculiar to it are brought prominently into the foreground (Leviticus 5:14.; Numbers 5:5-8). These are all to be accounted for from the fact that a trespass-offering was to be presented by the man who had unintentionally laid hands upon anything holy, e.g., the tithes or first-fruits, or who had broken any commandment of God "in ignorance" (if indeed this is to be taken as the meaning of the expression "and wist it not" in Leviticus 5:17-19); also by the man who had in any way defrauded his neighbour (which was regarded as unfaithfulness towards Jehovah), provided he anticipated it by a voluntary confession - this included the violation of another's conjugal rights in the case of a bondmaid (Leviticus 19:20-22); also by a leper or a Nazarite defiled by contact with a corpse, at the time of their purification, because their uncleanness involved the neglect and interruption of the duties of worship which they were bound to observe. Wherever a material restitution was possible, it was to be made with the addition of a fifth; and in the one case mentioned in Leviticus 19:20-22, the trespass-offerings was admissible even after a judicial punishment had been inflicted. But in every case the guilty person had to present the animal of the trespass-offering "according to thy valuation, O priest, in silver shekels," i.e., according to the priests' taxation, and in holy coin. Such was the prominence given to the person of the priest in the ritual of the trespass-offering. In the sin-offering the priest is always the representative of the offerer; but in the trespass-offering he is generally the representative of God. The trespass-offering was a restitution or compensation made to God in the person of the priest, a payment or penance which made amends for the wrong done, a satisfactio in a disciplinary sense. And this is implied in the name; for just as חטּאת denotes first the sin, then the punishment of the sin and the expiation of the sin, and hence the sacrifice which cancels the sin; so 'âshâm signifies first the guilt or debt, then the compensation or penance, and hence (cf., Leviticus 5:15) the sacrifice which discharges the debt or guilt, and sets the man free.

Every species of sacrifice had its own primary idea. The fundamental idea of the ‛ōlâh (burnt-offering) was oblatio, or the offering of worship; that of the shelâmı̄m (peace-offerings), conciliatio, or the knitting of fellowship that of the minchâh (meat-offering), donatio, or sanctifying consecration; that of the chattâ'th (sin-offering), expiatio, or atonement; that of the 'âshâm (trespass-offering), mulcta (satisfactio), or a compensatory payment. The self-sacrifice of the Servant of Jehovah may be presented under all these points of view. It is the complete antitype, the truth, the object, and the end of all the sacrifices. So far as it is the antitype of the "whole offering," the central point in its antitypical character is to be found in the offering of His entire personality (προσφορὰ τοῦ σώματος, Hebrews 10:10) to God for a sweet smelling savour (Ephesians 5:2); so far as it is the antitype of the sin-offering, in the shedding of His blood (Hebrews 9:13-14), the "blood of sprinkling" (Hebrews 12:24; 1 Peter 1:2); so far as it is the antitype of the shelâmı̄m, and especially of the passover, in the sacramental participation in His one self-sacrifice, which He grants to us in His courts, thus applying to us His own redeeming work, and confirming our fellowship of peace with God (Hebrews 13:10; 1 Corinthians 5:7), since the shelâmı̄m derive their name from shâlōm, pax, communio; so far as it is the antitype of the trespass-offering, in the equivalent rendered to the justice of God for the sacrileges of our sins. The idea of compensatory payment, which Hofmann extends to the whole sacrifice, understanding by kipper the covering of the guilt in the sense of a debt (debitum), is peculiar to the 'âshâm; and at the same time an idea, which Hofmann cannot find in the sacrifices, is expressed here in the most specific manner, viz., that of satisfaction demanded by the justice of God, and of paena outweighing the guilt contracted (cf., nirtsâh, Isaiah 40:2); in other words, the idea of satisfactio vicaria in the sense of Anselm is brought out most distinctly here, where the soul of the Servant of God is said to present such an atoning sacrifice for the whole, that is to say, where He offers Himself as such a sacrifice by laying down the life so highly valued by God (Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 49:5). As the verb most suitable to the idea of the 'âshâm the writer selects the verb sı̄m, which is generally used to denote the giving of a pledge (Job 17:3), and is therefore the most suitable word for every kind of satisfactio that represents a direct solutio. The apodoses to "if His soul shall have paid the penalty (paenam or mulctam)" are expressed in the future, and therefore state what would take place when the former should have been done. He should see posterity (vid., Genesis 50:23; Job 42:16), i.e., should become possessed of a large family of descendants stretching far and wide. The reference here is to the new "seed of Israel," the people redeemed by Him, the church of the redeemed out of Israel and all nations, of which He would lay the foundation. Again, He should live long days, as He says in Revelation 1:18, "I was dead, and, behold, I am alive for evermore."

(Note: Knobel observes here: "The statement that a person first offers himself as a trespass-offering, and then still lives for a long time, and still continues working, is a very striking one; but it may be explained on the ground that the offerer is a plurality." But how are we to explain the striking expression in our creed, "rose again from the dead?")

Thirdly, the pleasure of Jehovah should prosper "in His hand," i.e., through the service of His mediation, or (according to the primary meaning of tsâlach) should go on advancing incessantly, and pressing on to the final goal. His self-sacrifice, therefore, merely lays the foundation for a progressively self-realizing "pleasure of the Lord," i.e., (cf., Isaiah 44:28) for the realization of the purpose of God according to His determinate counsel, the fuller description of which we had in chapters 42 and 49, where it was stated that He should be the mediator of a new covenant, and the restorer of Israel, the light of the Gentiles and salvation of Jehovah even to the ends of the earth.

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