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Go to Bible: Isaiah 52
|Isa 52:1||- (top)|
“Arise! Sit down.” What seems like a contradiction to us (get up and sit down) makes perfect sense according to biblical custom. Jerusalem had been like a captive, but now it was to be free. It could arise and get up off the ground, but more than that, it was to reign, and so it was to “sit down.” In the biblical culture, rulers sat while others stood. See commentary on Isaiah 14:13, “sit.”
“Daughter Zion.” The Hebrew is idiomatic for Zion itself, i.e., Jerusalem (see commentary on Isa. 1:8).(top)
“sold yourselves.” The Hebrew verb makar (#04376 מָכַר) is masculine plural and in the Niphal aspect, and thus can either mean “to be sold” or “to sell oneself” (cp. Lev. 25:47). Although most English versions have “were sold,” and most commentaries say that God sold His people to the enemy, the fact that God could not protect Israel was their own doing. God loves Israel and would never sell them to an enemy unless He was somehow forced to, and He was. The truth is that Israel, through their defiance and disobedience to God, forfeited His care and protection and “sold themselves” into the hand of the enemy. Because Israel sold themselves, God was forced to let them go into the hands of the enemy. There are times when the text does say that God “sold” Israel (Isa. 50:1), but the deeper understanding, set forth here in Isaiah 52:3, is that Israel always first sold themselves by abandoning God.
Versions such as Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible and commentaries such as the Commentary on Isaiah by Harry Bultema translate the verb as a reflexive, that Israel “sold themselves.” Also, the verb “sell” is plural in the Hebrew text, but for God to be the seller we would expect the verb to be singular. Thus, the grammar in the verse also supports that it was the people, “you,” which is plural in the Hebrew text, who sold themselves.
It should be both a comfort and an exhortation for believers to know that the people of Israel sold themselves to the enemy and that God would never do that on His own, as if He were somehow fickle or vindictive. Believers have the comfort of knowing God will always be with them, but have the exhortation of knowing that if we abandon God, then we limit His protection over us. The believer’s best blessing and protection is by obeying God.
“without money you will be redeemed.” God knew that Israel’s, indeed, the whole world’s, redemption would not be by a payment of money but by a payment of innocent blood, and furthermore, on the basis of that payment the Messiah could conquer the earth and reign over it in righteousness. [For more on Jesus Christ’s coming kingdom on earth, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth”].(top)
|Isa 52:4||- (top)|
“what am I to do here.” The Hebrew is an idiom: “What to me here?” The idiom likely means, “What am I to do here,” or “What should I do here?” God had helped Israel in Egypt, and from the Assyrians, but what is He to do now? Even if the phrase is translated, “What do I have here,” He still has a situation that He needs to deal with.(top)
|Isa 52:6||- (top)|
|Isa 52:7||- (top)|
“eye to eye.” The Hebrew text says, “eye to eye,” although many translations do not reflect that fact. Communication that is “eye to eye” is as intimate and personal as possible. The only other occurrence of “eye to eye” in the Bible is Numbers 14:14. When Yahweh returns to Zion, which He does by sending the Messiah, His Son, those who are watching in Jerusalem will shout for joy.(top)
|Isa 52:9||- (top)|
|Isa 52:10||- (top)|
“Depart, depart, go out from there.” The location where the people are to depart from is unstated, and scholars have many suggestions, including Babylon, although that is after Isaiah’s time. It seems Edward Young could well be correct that Zion itself is an oppressor. Godly people should leave it in a more spiritual sense, leave the unclean and return to God.(top)
|Isa 52:12||- (top)|
“my servant.” In this context, the “servant” is the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Isaiah contains four sections that the scholars refer to as “Servant Songs,” in which Isaiah portrays the Messiah as the Servant of Yahweh. Most of the scholars agree to when these Servant Songs start, but they do not have as good agreement as to when they stop; what is the last verse of the Song. For the purposes of the REV, the Songs are Isaiah 42:1-7; 49:1-7; 50:4-11, and 52:13-53:12. The start of the first Servant Song, Isaiah 42:1, is quoted in Matthew 12:18 and positively identifies the “servant” as the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The disciples understood that Jesus Christ was the servant of God and called him that (cp. Acts 4:27).
Reading the Servant Songs and applying them to Jesus Christ tells us—and they told Jesus—a lot about Jesus Christ, about his mission, what he would accomplish, and what would happen to him.
“Just as many were astonished at you.” This line is the only time in the Servant Song of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 that the servant, the Messiah, was addressed directly. The rest of the Servant Song is about him.(top)
“sprinkle.” The word “sprinkle” takes us back to the Mosaic Law, for different things were “sprinkled” to make them ritually clean. For example, Aaron and his sons were sprinkled with oil and blood to make them clean in the eyes of God (Exod. 29:21; Lev. 8:30); oil was sprinkled on the altar and vessels to make them holy (Lev. 8:11); people with skin diseases were sprinkled when they were cleansed (Lev. 14:7); blood was sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:14-15), and there are many other examples as well. So when the text says that Jesus will “sprinkle many nations” it refers to the priestly function of Jesus Christ and his making people clean before God.
“Kings will shut their mouths on account of him.” Kings and people of prominence and power who had denigrated the Messiah and had contempt for him will stand in awe and fear when they see him for who he really is.(top)