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Isaiah: Chapter 52

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Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion! Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for the uncircumcised and the unclean shall enter you no more. 2 Shake yourself from the dust, rise up, O captive d Q Ms Gk Syr Vg: MT how may I comfort you? Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter Zion!

3For thus says the LORD: You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money. 4For thus says the Lord GOD: Long ago, my people went down into Egypt to reside there as aliens; the Assyrian, too, has oppressed them without cause. 5Now therefore what am I doing here, says the LORD, seeing that my people are taken away without cause? Their rulers howl, says the LORD, and continually, all day long, my name is despised. 6Therefore my people shall know my name; therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here am I.


How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” 8 Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices, together they sing for joy; for in plain sight they see the return of the LORD to Zion. 9 Break forth together into singing, you ruins of Jerusalem; for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. 10 The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.


Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of it, purify yourselves, you who carry the vessels of the LORD. 12 For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight; for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.


See, my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high. 14 Just as there were many who were astonished at him a Or humbled —so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals— 15 so he shall startle b Cn: Heb rise up, sit many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which had not been told them they shall see, and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.


b Q Ms Gk Syr Vg: MT how may I comfort you?

c Or humbled

d Cn: Heb rise up, sit

Text Commentary view alone

52.1–6 : Jerusalem restored.

Repetition of the imperative is a common rhetorical device in chs 40–55 ( 40.1; 51.9,17; 52.11 ).

3–6 :

An additional note in prose referring to the tradition of oppression in Egypt (Ex 1–15 ) and the Assyrian domination in the eighth century. When the LORD releases his people from Babylon, they will know his name, i.e, his presence and power, as formerly he revealed his name in Egypt (Ex 2.25; 6.28 ). Here am I, the LORD's readiness to be present and to save, cf. 58.9; 65.1 .

52.7–12: The approach of the ruler.:

The basic metaphor is of the triumphant approach of a king to a subject kingdom. His coming is announced by lookouts on mountains along the route and eventually by sentinels on the walls of Jerusalem (cf. 2 Sam 18.25–27; Nah 1.15 ).

8 :

Sentinels, also a metaphor for prophet, seer ( 56.10; 62.6–7; Ezek 3.17; 33.2,6–7 ).

11–12 :

The surviving sacred vessels from the Temple are brought back to Jerusalem (see Ezra 1.7–11 ). Complete ritual purity was unattainable in a land like Babylon, where foreign cults were practiced. The exodus from Babylon will be different from the first Exodus; cf. Ex 12.11; 13.21–22 .

52.13–53.12 : The mission and violent death of a servant of the Lord.

The fourth of the “Servant Songs” (see 42.1–4n. ) consists of an extended comment by an adherent of this unnamed individual ( 53.1–11a ), placed between an opening and closing address of the LORD ( 52.13–15; 53.11b–12 ). The passage has been and continues to be the object of an enormous volume of commentary and is beset by problems of interpretation, several still unsolved.

52.13–15 :

The LORD proclaims the ultimate vindication and exaltation of his servant, now cruelly disfigured and the object of numbed astonishment to foreign peoples and their rulers ( 49.7,23 ).

53.1–3 :

The comment opens by referring to the unprepossessing origins of the servant. Like a leper, he suffers painful loneliness and rejection by the community (Job 19.13–19 ).

4–6 :

The commentator makes the extraordinary statement that the servant's sufferings and the violence inflicted on him were caused by the sins of others and make atonement for sin (cf. Lev 16 ).

7–9 :

Unlike Jeremiah (Jer 11.18–12.6 ) and Job, the servant suffered in silence. Early Christian interpretation applied Isa 53.4–9 to Jesus (Mt 8.17; Acts 8.32–33; 1 Pet 2.22–25 ).

10 :

The servant's offspring refer to those who follow his example and teaching after his death rather than indicating that he survived and was rehabilitated.

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