Isaiah 60:9
Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the LORD thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee.
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(9) The isles . . .i.e., as in Isaiah 49:1, the far-off maritime regions of the West.

Ships of Tarshish.—These are, as in Isaiah 2:16, the first-class trading ships, whether trading with that country (Spain) or in the Indian Ocean. (Comp. 1Kings 10:22; 1Kings 22:48.) The mention of silver and gold may, therefore, point to Ophir as well as Spain.

The Holy One of Israel.—We note once more the recurrence of the characteristic Name.

Isaiah 60:9. Surely the isles shall wait for me — The countries remote from Judea, and especially the islands and continents of Europe, generally intended by the term isles. And the ships — To convey them to me; of Tarshish first — Those that traffic by sea. In naming this, he implied all places that had commerce with other nations. Concerning Tarshish, see note on Isaiah 2:16. To bring thy sons from far — From the most distant countries; their silver and their gold with them — With all their treasure; unto the name of the Lord — To be presented to the Lord, and employed for the advancement of his glory, and the benefit of his church and people. Because he hath glorified thee — He will make thee honourable in the eyes of the world, and that especially by setting up the ministry of the gospel in the midst of thee.

60:9-14 God will be very gracious. We must begin with his promise, thence all mercies take rise. Many shall be brought into the church, even from far countries. Christ is always ready to receive all who come to him; and the gate of mercy is always open, night and day. All that are about the church shall be made serviceable to it. But those who will not be subject to Christ's golden sceptre, to his word and Spirit, who will not be kept in by the laws and rules of his family, shall be broken in pieces by his iron rod. The peculiar advantages of every nation, and of every description of men, shall join to beautify the church of Christ. We must suppose this to be accomplished in the beauties of holiness, and the graces and comforts of the Spirit, with which gospel ordinances are adorned and enriched. Blessed be his name, the gates of Zion are ever open to returning sinners.Surely the isles - On the meaning of the word 'isles' in Isaiah, see the notes at Isaiah 41:1.

Shall wait for me - (See the notes at Isaiah 41:4).

And the ships of Tarshish - (See the notes at Isaiah 2:16). The main idea here is clear. These ships were the principal vessels known to the Hebrews as employed in foreign commerce, and the prophet employs the name to denote ships in general that sailed to distant ports. They will be employed in importing the most valuable productions of distant climes to Zion, and in collecting those who should be converted to God; that is, the commerce of the world would be made tributary to religion, and the ships that sail to distant lands would be employed in advancing the cause of salvation.

First - Among the first, in the first rank; they shall be among the most active and useful agents in diffusing the knowledge of the truth. Twenty-five manuscripts and the Syriac read it, 'As at the first.' Jarchi and Kimchi suppose it means, as at the first; that is, as in the time of Solomon. But the idea is, that the ships which trade to the most distant regions will be among the principal instrumentalities employed in the conversion of the pagan world to Christianity. To some extent this has already been done. The servants of God have been borne already to almost every pagan land; and the time may come when it shall be deemed an essential object of those engaged in foreign commerce to diffuse a knowledge of civilization, and of the arts of life; of science, and of pure religion.

To bring thy sons from far - Those who shall be converted from distant lands - as if they were to come personally and worship at Jerusalem (see the notes at Isaiah 49:22).

Unto the name of the Lord thy God - Lowth renders this, 'Because of the name.' So the Septuagint, Διὰ τὸ ὄνομα dia to onoma, etc. The idea is, that all this wealth would be devoted to Yahweh, and employed in his service.

Because he hath glorified thee - He has honored thee by imparting to thee the true religion, and making me the means of diffusing it around the world.

9. (see on [860]Isa 42:4).

Tarshish first—The ships of Tartessus (see on [861]Isa 2:16; Isa 23:1, that is, vessels that trade to the most distant regions) will be among the foremost to bring back the scattered Israelites (Isa 66:20).

their silver—The nations among whom the Jews have been scattered shall help them with their money in returning (Isa 60:5-7, 11, 16), as was the case at the return from Babylon (Ezr 1:4; compare Ps 68:30, 31).

unto the name … to the Holy One—rather, because of the name—because of the Holy One (compare Isa 55:5) [Lowth].

The isles: see Isaiah 41:1 49:18. The ships, viz. to convey them to me.

Of Tarshish, i.e. those that traffic by sea, as before; see Isaiah 2:16; these lying most convenient for that employment. In naming this he implies by a synecdoche all that had commerce with other nations. First; preferring this before any other business they take in hand. This hath undergone the various senses of divers interpreters; such as are not futilous and vain, I conceive, may run into one of these two: either,

1. By reading it with a supplement of the note of similitude, which is frequent, as at first, or formerly, viz. as in the days of Solomon, who was a type of Christ, the matter here spoken of seeming to suit with it, 1 Kings 10:12: see 2 Chronicles 9:21, &c. Or rather,

2. By taking the word first, as the Hebrews mostly do, not so much with reference to time or order as to dignity; namely, they shall have the precedency and honour of bringing themselves and conducting others: this may be true also as to time, and so verified in the wise men coming the first to Christ when he was born, and as the firstfruits of the rest of the Gentiles.

To bring thy sons, begotten by the word,

from far, from the remotest parts: this may be understood with reference either to place or state; at how great a distance soever either in place or state, they shall come to Christ, who hath sons abroad in God’s decree, not yet called, other sheep that he will bring into his fold, John 10:16. Their: their may refer either to the merchants bringing traffic with them, as Isaiah 60:6; or the Jews, as Israel came out of Egypt with all their treasure with them, and what others gave them, Ezra 1:4, as also the vessels that were sent back with them, Ezra 1:7.

Unto the name, i.e. to the Lord himself, by a periphrasis; or to his temple, where his name was placed, the type of the church; compare 2 Samuel 7:13, with 1 Chronicles 17:12; or in the name of the Lord; or for his sake, who is the Holy One; the like metonymies having been formerly and frequently pointed at.

He hath glorified thee; he will spread thy fame, and make thee honourable in the eyes of the world, and that especially in setting up the ministry of the gospel in the midst of thee. The name of God, and so also of Israel, were contemptible among the Gentiles before the coming of Christ and spreading of the gospel, but (as a consolation to his people) it is promised they shall both be honourable; and here God by an enallage of the person speaks of himself in the third person.

Surely the isles shall wait for me;.... The Targum is,

"for my Word.''

The Messiah, and his coming. The isles of Great Britain may more especially be intended, who, as they waited for his Gospel, and readily received it, and embraced it, as soon as it was brought to them, which was very early; so there are many here now waiting for the spiritual coming of Christ, and the glory of his churches in the latter day, and perhaps more than in any other part of the world besides:

and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them; this is to be understood of the Jews converted in distant parts of the world, who shall be brought in transport ships to the churches of Christ, particularly in Judea; and the ships of Tarshish shall be used in that service principally, they shall be the chief that shall be employed. Most of the Jewish commentators, as Jarchi, Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, think there is a want of the particle of similitude "as", and that it should be rendered, "and the ships of Tarshish, as at first"; and then the sense is, they shall be made use of now to bring, the converted Jews with their substance from foreign parts, as they had been in Solomon's time, for bringing gold and silver, and other things to him, from distant places, 2 Chronicles 9:21 but by Tarshish here is not meant Tartessus in Spain, as Vitringa; nor Tarsus in Cilicia; but the sea itself; which is so called; and so the Targum renders it, "the ships of the sea"; and Jarchi observes that this is the name of the sea; and what ships can be better understood than ours of Great Britain, so famous for shipping, and which claims the sovereignty of the seas? these may be principally employed in bringing great numbers of converts from different places to the church of God; and as Israel, when they came out of Egypt, came forth with silver and gold; and when they came out of Babylon, they were furnished with gold and silver, and everything convenient for their journey, and for the rebuilding of their city and temple, Psalm 105:37 so when they are gathered from their present dispersion, and are called and converted, they shall come with their tribes to the church of Christ, and honour the Lord with their substance, and promote the interest of religion by it, as it follows:

unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel; that is, their persons shall be brought unto him, and their riches also; they shall give up themselves, and all they have, to the Lord, and devote themselves and their substance to his glory, and the good of his interest; even to him whose name was detestable to them, but now precious; and whom they will own with the church to be the Lord their God, their Redeemer and Sanctifier:

because he hath glorified thee; the church; caused such a glory to arise upon her, and upon that a defence; so that it will continue, and be so visible and manifest as to draw persons from all parts, though the most distant, to come unto her, and join themselves with her.

Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships {k} of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, to the name of the LORD thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee.

(k) The Gentiles that are now enemies, will become friends and set forth the Church.

9. Surely the isles shall wait for me] ch. Isaiah 42:4, Isaiah 51:5. Duhm proposes to read “For to me shall the seafarers be gathered” (substituting ציים [see on ch. Isaiah 23:13] for איים, and slightly changing the verb). Some such sense would better explain the word “first” in the following line.

ships of Tarshish] See on ch. Isaiah 2:16.

glorified thee] beautified thee (as Isaiah 60:7).

10 ff. The restoration of Zion’s material prosperity through the labour and gifts of foreign peoples.

Verse 9. - Surely the isles shall wait for me. The "isles," or maritime countries of the West, have long waited for a Redeemer (Isaiah 41:1; Isaiah 42:4; Isaiah 49:1; Isaiah 51:5, etc.). They shall send their sons, and their gifts, in ships, which will come from far, and cover the Mediterranean (see the preceding verse). The ships of Tarshish. Either ships belonging to the people of Tartessus, in Spain, who had a widely extended commerce in ancient times (Herod., 1:163; 4:152; 1 Kings 10:22; Ezekiel 27:12; Jonah 1:3; etc.), or ships of a peculiar class, such as were considered suitable for the long and dangerous voyage to the distant Western port (see the comment on Isaiah 2:16). To bring thy sons from far (see the comment on ver. 4). Unto the Name of the Lord; i.e. "to the place where the Lord has set his Name" (comp. Isaiah 18:7). Isaiah 60:9From the mainland, over which caravans and flocks are coming, the prophet now turns his eyes to the sea. "Who are these who fly hither as a cloud, and like the doves to their windows? Yea, the islands wait for me; and the ships of Tarshish come first, to bring thy children from far, their silver and gold with them, to the name of thy God, and to the holy One of Israel, because He hath ornamented thee." Upon the sea there appear first of all enigmatical shapes, driving along as swiftly as if they were light clouds flying before the wind (Isaiah 19:1; Isaiah 45:22), or like doves flying to their dovecots (celeres cavis se turribus abdunt, as Ovid says), i.e., to the round towers with their numerous pigeon-holes, which are provided for their shelter. The question is addressed to Zion, and the answer may easily be anticipated - namely, that this swarm of swiftly flying figures are hurrying to a house which they long to reach, as much as pigeons do to reach their pigeon-house. The kı̄ which follows is explanatory: this hurrying presents itself to thine eyes, because the isles wait for me. The reason for all this haste is to be found in the faith of those who are hurrying on. The Old Testament generally speaks of faith as hope (ל קוּה as in Isaiah 51:5; Isaiah 42:4); not that faith is the same as hope, but it is the support of hope, just as hope is the comfort of faith. In the Old Testament, when the true salvation existed only in promise, this epithet, for which there were many synonyms in the language, was the most appropriate one. The faith of the distant lands of the west is now beginning to work. The object of all this activity is expressed in the word להביא. The things thus flying along like clouds and doves are ships; with the Tartessus ships, which come from the farthest extremity of the European insular quarter of the globe, at their head (בּראשׁנה with munach instead of metheg, in the same sense as in Numbers 10:14; lxx ἐν πρώτοις; Jerome, in principio, in the foremost rank), i.e., acting as the leaders of the fleet which is sailing to Zion and bringing Zion's children from afar, and along with them the gold and silver of the owners of the vessels themselves, to the name (לשׁם, to the name, dative, not equivalent to למען; lxx διὰ, as in Isaiah 55:5) of thy God, whom they adore, and to the Holy One of Israel, because He hath ornamented thee, and thereby inspired them with reverence and love to thee (פארך for פארך, as in Isaiah 54:6, where it even stands out of pause).
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