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Isaiah 52:1-12

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Chosen For Prostrate Zion God Redeems Jerusalem God's Kingship  (51:17-52:12) God Will Rescue Jerusalem The Liberation of Jerusalem
52:1-2  (1-2) 52:1-2  (1-2) 52:1-2  (1-2) 52:1-2  (1-2) 52:1-2  (1-2)
52:3-6 52:3  (3) 52:3-6 52:3-6 52:3-6  (3-6)
  52:4-6  (4-6)      
52:7-10  (7-10) 52:7-10  (7-10) 52 :7-10  (7-10) 52:7-8  (7-8) 52:7-12  (7-12)
      52:9-12  (9-12)  
52:11-12  (11-12) 52:11-12  (11-12) 52:11-12  (11-12)    
The Exalted Servant The Sin-bearing Servant Song (52:13-53:12) The Fourth Servant Song (52:13-53:12) The Suffering Servant (52:13-53:12) Fourth Song of the Servant (52:13-53:12)
52:13-15  (13-15) 52:13-15  (13-15) 52:13-15  (13-15) 52:13-15  (13-15) 52:13-15  (13-15)

 

READING CYCLE THREE

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. The context of chapter 51 runs through 52:12.

 

B. Notice the different people to whom the imperatives are addressed (52:1-52:12).

1. O My people. . .O My nations (51:4-8)

a. pay attention - Hiphil (BDB 904, KB 1151)

b. give ear - Hiphil (BDB 24, KB 27)

c. lift your eyes - Qal (BDB 669, KB 724)

d. look - Hiphil (BDB 613, KB 661)

e. listen - Qal (BDB 1033, KB 1570)

2. O arm of the Lord (51:9-11)

a. awake - Qal (BDB 734, KB 802)

b. awake - same as "a"

c. put on - Qal (BDB 527, KB 519)

d. awake - same as "a"

3. O Jerusalem (51:17-23)

a. rouse - Hithpolel or Hithpael (BDB 734, KB 802)

b. rouse - same as "a"

c. arise - Qal (BDB 872, KB 1086)

4. O Zion, O Jerusalem (52:1)

a. awake - Qal (BDB 734, KB 802)

b. awake - same as "a"

c. clothe - Qal (BDB 527, KB 519)

d. clothe - same as "c"

5. O captive (52:2)

a. shake - Hithpael (BDB 654, KB 707)

b. rise - Qal (BDB 877, KB 1086)

c. loose - Hithpael (BDB 605, KB 647 [MT has masculine but qere is feminine])

6. unspecified (52:9-10, fits #1,3,4, or 5)

a. break forth - Qal (BDB 822, KB 953)

b. shout joyfully - Piel (BDB 943, KB 1247)

7. unspecified (52:11-12, fits #1,3,4, or 5)

a. depart - Qal (BDB 693, KB 747)

b. depart - same as "a"

c. go out - Qal (BDB 422, KB 425)

d. touch nothing - Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense (BDB 619, KB 668)

e. go out - same as "c"

f. purify yourselves - Niphal (BDB 140, KB 162)

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 52:1-2
1Awake, awake,
Clothe yourself in your strength, O Zion;
Clothe yourself in your beautiful garments,
O Jerusalem, the holy city;
For the uncircumcised and the unclean
Will no longer come into you.
2Shake yourself from the dust, rise up,
O captive Jerusalem;
Loose yourself from the chains around your neck,
O captive daughter of Zion.

52:1-2 "Awake. . .clothe. . .shake. . .loose" This is a series of imperatives (see Contextual Insights, B), like 51:9,17. Many compare this with the opposite condition of the city of Babylon in 47:1ff.

52:1e "For the uncircumcised and the unclean

  Will no longer come into you" This cannot refer to the exclusion of the Gentiles from redemption, but that no heathen nation would again invade the Promised Land. This may be the source of John's imagery in Rev. 21:27.

52:2

NASB, NRSV,
NJB, NET"captive"
NKJV"sit down"
LXX, Vulgate,
TEV, JPSOA"sit [on your throne]"

The MT has "sit" (BDB 442, KB 444, Qal imperative, יבש, but later in the verse היבש (BDB 985), is translated "captive"). The UBS Text Project gives "sit" a B rating (some doubt). Israel is to rise up and sit on her throne.

▣ "loose" This is a place where the MT has a masculine plural form of the Hithpael imperative, but the Masoretic scholars suggested (qere) a feminine singular form.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 52:3-6
  3For thus says the Lord, "You were sold for nothing and you will be redeemed without money." 4For thus says the Lord God, "My people went down at the first into Egypt to reside there; then the Assyrian oppressed them without cause. 5Now therefore, what do I have here," declares the Lord, "seeing that My people have been taken away without cause?" Again the Lord declares, "Those who rule over them howl, and My name is continually blasphemed all day long. 6Therefore My people shall know My name; therefore in that day I am the one who is speaking, 'Here I am.'"

52:3 "redeemed without money" This verse must be seen in light of 45:13. Cyrus will let the Jews return freely. Cyrus reversed the relocation policy of both the Assyrians and Babylonians. He allowed all conquered peoples to return home and rebuild their national temples. This was his way of restoring order to his empire and also he was superstitious and wanted all the returning people groups to pray to their gods for him and his successors.

52:4-5 Verse 5 is referring to Babylonian exile though Babylon is not mentioned by name. These verses are looking at past oppression (i.e., Egypt and Assyria). Theologically Israel and Judah were exiled because of their sin against YHWH (cf. 43:22-24; 50:1).

52:4 "Egypt. . .Assyria" These were two of the Jews' previous enemies before that of Babylon (cf. 10:5ff).

52:5 There are several ways to view the Hebrew text.

1. the rulers ("those who rule," BDB 605, KB 647, Qal participle)

a. leaders of Jerusalem who "wail" (BDB 410, KB 413, Hiphil imperfect) over the fall of Jerusalem

b. leaders of Babylon "mock" as Jerusalem falls

 

▣ "My name is continually blasphemed" This verb (BDB 610, KB 658) is a rare Hithpolel form. God's name was linked to Israel's condition. God will act, not because of Israel's goodness but because of His name (cf. 48:11; Ezek. 20:9,14,22,44; 36:19-20,22-23; Dan. 9:17-19; Rom. 2:24).

52:6 By YHWH's deliverance His people will know that He has reestablished the covenant. His name will have meaning again!

SPECIAL TOPIC: "THE NAME" of YHWH

▣ "in that day" See Special Topic from my commentary on the Eighth Century Prophets below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: THAT DAY

NASB, NJB,
REB"Here I am"
NKJV"Behold, it is I"
NRSV"Here am I"
JPSOA"Am now at hand"
LXX"I am here"
Peshitta"It is I"

This phrase is usually a faith response from a human being who has been addressed by God (i.e., Gen. 22:1,11; Exod. 3:4; Isa. 6:8). It would denote availability to do God's will.

It is only in Isaiah that it is used of God and denotes His presence, power, and ability to do what He promised (cf. 58:9; 65:1).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 52:7-10
7How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
8Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices,
They shout joyfully together;
For they will see with their own eyes
When the Lord restores Zion.
9Break forth, shout joyfully together,
You waste places of Jerusalem;
For the Lord has comforted His people,
He has redeemed Jerusalem.
10The Lord has bared His holy arm
In the sight of all the nations,
That all the ends of the earth may see
The salvation of our God.

52:7-9 These verses are using the metaphor of (1) a governmental messenger bringing good news (cf. v. 7) and (2) the watchman (cf. v. 8) at the gate announcing it to the whole city. The city is Zion; the good news is that YHWH reigns again as King over His restored people.

52:7 The Hebrew verb "bring good news" (BDB 142, KB 163, Piel participle, twice) is alluded to in Rom. 10:15 for the "good news" of the gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. Isa. 52:13-53:12).

Notice the parallelism between the announced good news.

1. peace (BDB 1022)

2. happiness/good (BDB 373 I)

3. salvation (BDB 447)

 

SPECIAL TOPIC: PEACE (SHALOM)

▣ "Your God reigns" This (BDB 573, KB 590, Qal perfect) is the fulfillment of 24:23. It may reflect a well known Israeli liturgy (cf. Ps. 93:1; 96:10; 97:1; 99:1).

52:8

NASB, TEV,
NJB"they will see with their own eyes"
NKJV"they shall see eye to eye"
NRSV"in plain sight they see"
JPSOA"every eye shall behold"
NET Bible"they will see with their very own eyes"

The MT has "eye to eye." Leupold, in his commentary on Isaiah, makes a good point.

"The phrase 'eye to eye' has an utterly different meaning in English than in Hebrew. In English it means something like agreeing completely in one's approach and outlook with another. In Hebrew the meaning is 'close at hand,' something like being so near that you can see the whites of the eye of the person approaching" (p. 219).

52:10 Israel was established by YHWH to be a kingdom of priests to the world (cf. Gen. 12:3; Exod. 19:4-6). However, her covenant unfaithfulness required God's judgment, therefore, the world never saw God's true character. By God delivering Israel from captivity, first Egypt, then Assyria, and now Babylon, all the peoples of the earth will see God's power, love, and blessing.

▣ "has bared His holy arm" The verb (BDB 362, KB 359, Qal perfect) is an anthropomorphic metaphor (see Special Topic at 41:2) for YHWH getting ready for action/deliverance (cf. Ezek. 4:7).

Often the phrase "with an outstretched arm" denotes the same divine actions (cf. Exod. 6:6; Deut. 4:34; 5:15; 26:8).

▣ "In the sight of all the nations" This is parallel to the next phrase, "all the ends of the earth may see." This is also parallel to "all flesh will see it" (40:5; also note Joel 2:28 for another universal image).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 52:11-12
11Depart, depart, go out from there,
Touch nothing unclean;
Go out of the midst of her, purify yourselves,
You who carry the vessels of the Lord.
12But you will not go out in haste,
Nor will you go as fugitives;
For the Lord will go before you,
And the God of Israel will be your rear guard.

52:11-12 These verses are using God's directions to the priests (cf. v. 11d) as a way to assure all covenant people that God is with them and for them (cf. v. 12). It is a veiled warning to leave the idolatry of Mesopotamia behind!

The returnees will take the vessels from YHWH's temple with them (cf. Ezra 1:5-11; 5:14; 6:8; also note II Chronicles 4 where they are described). They left Babylon as they had Egypt (cf. Exod. 11:2; 12:35-36) by taking the spoils of the land with then (i.e., a symbol of the defeat of the nation and its gods).

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why was Isaiah using Abraham's call as an encouragement to the Jews in captivity?

2. How does creation and the Exodus bring encouragement to exiled Israel and Judah?

3. To whom does 51:16 refer?

4.  How did God use Israel to reach the Gentiles?

 

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Related Topics: Bible Study Methods