Isaiah 61:6
But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.
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(6) But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord . . .—This had been the original ideal of the nation’s life (Exodus 19:6), forfeited for a time through the sins of the people (Exodus 28:1), to be fulfilled at last in the citizens of the new Jerusalem. (Comp. 1Peter 2:9.) The thought implies, it may be noted, that as Israel has succeeded to the position of the sons of Aaron, so mankind at large is to occupy the position of Israel, as chosen and redeemed. Even the heathen Gentiles shall speak of the new Israel as “Ministers of our God.”

Ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles . . .—St. Paul seems to see a partial fulfilment of the promise in the collection made among the Gentiles for the Church at Jerusalem (Romans 15:27). On the other hand, the phrase that the conversion of the Jews shall be the riches of the Gentiles (Romans 11:12), affords an illustration of the varying aspects of prophetic imagery.

Isaiah 61:6-7. But ye shall be named the Priests, &c. — The whole body of you shall now be as near to God as the priests were formerly, and shall be a royal priesthood, 1 Peter 2:9. This is most certainly true of all the faithful under the gospel; hence they have also their spiritual sacrifices, Romans 12:1; Hebrews 13:15-16; 1 Peter 2:5. Ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles — Partake of their plenty; and in their glory shall ye boast — You shall be highly advanced by the addition of all that is glorious in them. The LXX. render it, εν τω πλουτω αυτων θαυμασθησεσθε, you shall be wonderful, or the objects of admiration, through their riches; that is, by the glory which they shall bring to you, namely, in riches, parts, learning, chap. 60:5, 11. For your shame ye shall have double — Honour; though you have been little accounted of among the Gentiles, yet now you shall be highly esteemed by them; you shall have double damages. See on chap. 40:2. They shall rejoice in their portion — Namely, of honour, which God will give them. It is a repetition of that which is asserted in the former clause. Therefore, or, rather, because, they shall possess the double — Because of the doubling of their portion; everlasting joy shall be unto them — Joy that shall continue long here, and shall be everlasting hereafter. The meaning of this prediction seems to be, that though the first Christians should have a large share of shame or ignominy thrown upon them, yet their descendants should, in return, receive a double share of honour and glory. This accordingly came to pass: Christianity, from being considered as the greatest infamy, and being loaded with the greatest shame, came into the highest repute when Constantine became emperor, and received the highest honours that could possibly be paid, and was, as it were, loaded with glory, riches, and honour.”

61:4-9 Promises are here made to the Jews returned out of captivity, which extend to all those who, through grace, are delivered out of spiritual thraldom. An unholy soul is like a city that is broken down, and has no walls, like a house in ruins; but by the power of Christ's gospel and grace, it is fitted to be a habitation of God, through the Spirit. When, by the grace of God, we attain to holy indifference as to the affairs of this world; when, though our hands are employed about them, our hearts are not entangled with them, but preserved entire for God and his service, then the sons of the alien are our ploughmen and vine-dressers. Those whom He sets at liberty, he sets to work. His service is perfect freedom; it is the greatest honour. All believers are made, to our God, kings and priests; and always ought to conduct themselves as such. Those who have the Lord for their portion, have reason to say, that they have worthy portion, and to rejoice in it. In the fulness of heaven's joys we shall receive more than double for all our services and sufferings. God desires truth, and therefore hates all injustice. Nor will it justify any man's robbery to say, it was for burnt-offerings; and that robbery is most hateful which is under this pretence. Let the children of godly parents be such, that all may see the fruits of a good education; an answer to the prayers for them, in the fruit of God's blessing.But ye shall be named - The idea here literally is, 'There will be no need of your engaging in the business of agriculture. All that will be done by others; and you, as ministers of God, may engage wholly in the duties of religion. The world shall be tributary to you, and you shall enjoy the productions of all lands; and you may, therefore, devote yourselves exclusively to the service of Yahweh, as a kingdom of priests.' A similar promise occurs in Exodus 19:6 : 'And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.' The idea is, that there would be a degree of spiritual prosperity, as great as if they were permitted to enjoy all the productions of other climes; as if all menial and laborious service were performed by others; and as if they were to be entirely free from the necessity of toil, and were permitted to devote themselves exclusively to the services of religion.

Ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles - (See the notes at Isaiah 60:5-11).

And in their glory - In what constitutes their glory, or what they regard as valuable; that is, their wealth, their talents, and their power.

Shall you boast yourselves? - There has been considerable variety of interpretation in regard to the meaning of the word used here. Jerome renders it, Et in gloria earum superbietis. The Septuagint, 'In their wealth ye shall be admired' (θαυμασθήσεσθε thaumasthēsesthe). The Chaldee and Syriac render it, 'In their splendor ye shall glory.' The word used is ימר yâmar. It occurs nowhere else, it is believed, except in Jeremiah 2:11, twice, where it is tendered 'changed.' 'Hath a nation changed (ההימיר hahēymiyr) their gods, which are yet no gods? But my people have changed ( המיר hēmiyr) their glory for that which doth not profit.' In the passage before us, it is used in Hithpael, and means properly to exchange oneself with anyone. Here it means, 'In their splendor we shall take their places,' that is, we shall enjoy it in their stead. We shall avail ourselves of it as if we were to enter into their possessions, and as if it were our own. The sense is, it shall come to enrich and adorn the church. It shall cleavage places, and shall all belong to the penple of God - in accordance with that which has been so often said by Isaiah, that the wealth of the world would become tributary to the church.

6. But ye—as contrasted with the "strangers." Ye shall have no need to attend to your flocks and lands: strangers will do that for you; your exclusive business will be the service of Jehovah as His "priests" (Ex 19:6, which remains yet to be realized; compare as to the spiritual Israel, Isa 66:21; 1Pe 2:5, 9; Re 1:6; 5:10).

Ministers—(Eze 44:11).

eat … riches of … Gentiles—(Isa 60:5-11).

in their glory … boast yourselves—rather, "in their splendor ye shall be substituted in their stead"; ye shall substitute yourselves [Maurer].

But ye shall be named the Priests; for your part, ye emphatically shall be as priests; either,

1. For maintenance; as the priests of old were plentifully provided for without their labour, so shall you by the labour of strangers. Or,

2. For countenance; you shall be every where as greatly valued as the priests were wont to be; you shall be esteemed as princes; for so the word is often used, the word priest being applied not only to the sacred function, but to one that was of great note among the people, and was supplied with all necessaries from others, without any labour of his own. Thus David’s sons were called priests, or princes. Or rather,

3. For privilege; the whole body of them shall now be as peculiar and as near to God as the priests were formerly, and shall be a royal priesthood, 1 Peter 2:9. This is most certainly true of all the faithful under the gospel; hence they have also their spiritual sacrifices, Romans 12:1 Hebrews 13:15161 Peter 2:5.

Ye shall eat the richs of the Gentiles: it relates to the riches of the Gentiles, which did consist most in flocks and herds: or, what you eat shall be purchased by the riches of the Gentiles.

Shall ye boast yourselves; you shall exalt yourselves, or be renowned by others. The LXX. render it, you shall be wonderful, or to admiration; or grow high by the access of that glory which they shall bring unto you, viz. in riches, parts, learning, Isaiah 60:5,11.

But ye shall be named the priests of the Lord,.... Or, "and ye shall be named", &c. which Jerom understands of the builders of cities, pastors of flocks, the ploughmen and vinedressers, the strangers and the sons of the alien, that these also should be called priests: but rather it designs the Jews, when they shall be called and converted, and when there will be no more the distinction of priests and common people, but they shall all be kings and priests unto God, a royal priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices to him, all ceremonial ones being at an end:

men shall call you the ministers of our God; Christian men shall call, own, and acknowledge you to be the servants of Christ, of Immanuel, God with us, having professed faith in him, and submitted to his ordinances:

ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles; converted Gentiles, who shall join themselves with Jewish converts in the same church state; who shall bring their wealth with them, and with it support the interest of Christ; see Isaiah 60:5, or this may be understood of their spiritual riches, the unsearchable riches of Christ revealed in the Gospel, which the Gentiles have long possessed, but now the Jews shall have a share with them:

and in their glory shall you boast yourselves; not in being the seed of Abraham, as formerly; in birth privileges, in carnal rites and ceremonies, such as circumcision and others; but in what is the glory of the Gentiles, Christ himself, who is their glory, and of whom they glory; as also his Gospel, and the ordinances of it, which are the glory of every nation possessed of them: or, "ye shall delight yourselves" (z); in the Lord; in communion and conversation with his people, and in the enjoyment of the privileges of his house with them: or, "ye shall lift up or exalt yourselves", or "be exalted" (a); to the same degree of honour and glory, being all kings and priests unto God.

(z) "oblectabitis", Tigurine, version. So the Targum. (a) "Summe efferetis vos", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Vitringa; "exaltabimini", Munster, Pagninus. So Ben Melech, and R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 89. 2.

But ye shall be named the {k} Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the {l} riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.

(k) This is accomplished in the time of Christ, by whom all the faithful are made priests and kings, 1Pe 2:9, Re 1:6,5:10.

(l) Read Isa 6:11:16.

6. the riches of the Gentiles] the wealth of nations, as ch. Isaiah 60:5; Isaiah 60:11.

in their glory shall you boast yourselves] So the chief Ancient Versions. Another rendering is to their glory shall ye succeed (R.V. marg.); the exact idea being that Israel and the heathen shall “exchange places,” the glory that now belongs to the latter being transferred to the former.

Verse 6. - But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord. By the covenant made at Sinai, Israel was to be "a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation" (Exodus 19:6). Had they risen to the height of their calling when our Lord and his disciples offered them salvation before offering it to the Gentiles, they might have "been in the midst of the heathen who had entered into the congregation of Jehovah and become the people of God, what the Aaronites farmerly were in the midst of Israel itself" (Delitzsch). Will they ever now obtain this position? Ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles (comp. Isaiah 60:5-9 and 16). The Gentiles, when they came in, would freely offer to the Church of their substance. Isaiah 61:6Even in Isaiah 61:3 with להם וקרא a perfect was introduced in the place of the infinitives of the object, and affirmed what was to be accomplished through the mediation of the Servant of Jehovah. The second turn in the address, which follows in Isaiah 61:4-9, continues the use of such perfects, which afterwards pass into futures. But the whole is still governed by the commencement in Isaiah 61:1. The Servant of Jehovah celebrates the glorious office committed to him, and expounds the substance of the gospel given him to proclaim. It points to the restoration of the promised land, and to the elevation of Israel, after its purification in the furnace of judgment, to great honour and dignity in the midst of the world of nations. "And they will build up wastes of the olden time, raise up desolations of the forefathers, and renew desolate cities, desolations of former generations. And strangers stand and feed your flocks, and foreigners become your ploughmen and vinedressers. But ye will be called priests of Jehovah; Servants of our God, will men say to you: ye will eat the riches of the nations, and pride yourselves in their glory." The desolations and wastes of ‛ōlâm and dōr vâdōr, i.e., of ages remote and near (Isaiah 58:12), are not confined to what had lain in ruins during the seventy years of the captivity. The land will be so thickly populated, that the former places of abode will not suffice (Isaiah 49:19-20); so that places must be referred to which are lying waste beyond the present bounds of the promised land (Isaiah 54:3), and which will be rebuilt, raised up, and renewed by those who return from exile, and indeed by the latest generations (Isaiah 58:12, מםּ; cf., Isaiah 60:14). Chōrebh, in the sense of desolation, is a word belonging to the alter period of the language (Zeph., Jer., and Ezek.). The rebuilding naturally suggests the thought of assistance on the part of the heathen (Isaiah 60:10). But the prophet expresses the fact that they will enter into the service of Israel (Isaiah 61:5), in a new and different form. They "stand there" (viz., at their posts ready for service, ‛al-mish-martâm, 2 Chronicles 7:6), "and feed your flocks" (צאן singularetantum, cf., Genesis 30:43), and foreigners are your ploughmen and vinedressers. Israel is now, in the midst of the heathen who have entered into the congregation of Jehovah and become the people of God (ch Isaiah 19:25), what the Aaronites formerly were in the midst of Israel itself. It stands upon the height of its primary destination to be a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6). They are called "priests of Jehovah," and the heathen call them "servants of our God;" for even the heathen speak with believing reverence of the God, to whom Israel renders priestly service, as "our God." This reads as if the restored Israelites were to stand in the same relation to the converted heathen as the clergy to the laity; but it is evident, from Isaiah 66:21, that the prophet has no such hierarchical separation as this in his mind. All that we can safely infer from his prophecy is, that the nationality of Israel will not be swallowed up by the entrance of the heathen into the community of the God of revelation. The people created by Jehovah, to serve as the vehicle of the promise of salvation and the instrument in preparing the way for salvation, will also render Him special service, even after that salvation has been really effected. At the same time, we cannot take the attitude, which is here assigned to the people of sacred history after it has become the teacher of the nations, viz., as the leader of its worship also, and shape it into any clear and definite form that shall be reconcilable with the New Testament spirit of liberty and the abolition of all national party-walls. The Old Testament prophet utters New Testament prophecies in an Old Testament form. Even when he continues to say, "Ye will eat the riches of the Gentiles, and pride yourselves in their glory," i.e., be proud of the glorious things which have passed from their possession into yours, this is merely colouring intended to strike the eye, which admits of explanation on the ground that he saw the future in the mirror of the present, as a complete inversion of the relation in which the two had stood before. The figures present themselves to him in the form of contrasts. The New Testament apostle, on the other hand, says in Romans 11:12 that the conversion of all Israel to Christ will be "the riches of the Gentiles." But if even then the Gentile church should act according to the words of the same apostle in Romans 15:27, and show her gratitude to the people whose spiritual debtor she is, by ministering to them in carnal things, all that the prophet has promised here will be amply fulfilled. We cannot adopt the explanation proposed by Hitzig, Stier, etc., "and changing with them, ye enter into their glory" (hithyammēr from yâmar equals mūr, Hiph.: hēmı̄r, Jeremiah 2:11; lit., to exchange with one another, to enter into one another's places); for yâmar equals ‛âmar (cf., yâchad equals 'âchad; yâsham equals 'âsham; yâlaph equals 'âlaph), to press upwards, to rise up (related to tâmar, see at Isaiah 17:9; sâmar, Symm. ὀρθοτριχεῖν, possibly also ‛âmar with the hithpael hith‛ammēr, lxx καταδυναστεύειν), yields a much simpler and more appropriate meaning. From this verb we have hith'ammēr in Psalm 94:4, "to lift one's self up (proudly)," and here hithyammēr; and it is in this way that the word has been explained by Jerome (superbietis), and possibly by the lxx (θαυμασθήσεσθε, in the sense of spectabiles eritis), by the Targum, and the Syriac, as well as by most of the ancient and modern expositors.
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