Isaiah Chapter 52 Notes

Isaiah Ch 52 Commentary // larryhuntbiblecommentary.wordpress.com

Chapter Fifty-two:

v. 1:  The theme of calling something or someone to wake up occurs also in 51:9 and 17.

Since the uncircumcised and the unclean did in fact enter Jerusalem again after the Jews returned from Babylonian Captivity[1], I would interpret the prophet’s words to mean one of two things:  Either he is referring to the Babylonians specifically and is saying something like “Your nightmare with the Babylonians (the uncircumcised and unclean) is over.  They will not hurt you again,” or he means that Spiritual Israel, under the Messiah, will not suffer as they have suffered, and that their return to Zion is a significant step in preparing for the coming of the Messiah and his kingdom.  Or perhaps Isaiah means both of these things to some degree.

V. 10:  The LORD has bared his holy arm in order to fight.  He has come to fight against Babylon and will use Persia as his weapon.

Vs. 13-15:  The Oxford commentary says that these verses and chapter 53 are “…the object of an enormous volume of commentary and …[are] beset by problems of interpretation.”  How strange, that scriptures that can be so easily applied to Christ should be considered so difficult to interpret.  I suspect the difficult mostly lies in trying to apply them to something or someone other than Christ.  According to Barnes, the Jews who lived before Christ believed that this section referred to the Messiah, but since the coming of Christ they have dropped that interpretation in an attempt to discredit Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah.  He goes on to say that many Jews have subsequently adopted the idea that this suffering servant is an allegory of the nation of Israel, or of the faithful people of Israel (Isaiah II, 248-251).  Not only does this subsequent interpretation seem wrong in and of itself, it also seems dishonest, given the Jews’ earlier Messianic reading.  This, combined with the fact that these passages describe Christ so perfectly, and the fact that Christ applies them to himself, convinces me that they do refer to the Messiah.

v. 14:  The OKJ and NRSV translations lead one to believe that the ugliness of the suffering servant is due to his being abused.  They say his appearance was marred.  Luther’s translation makes no allusion to marring.  It simply says that his form was uglier than that of other people: “Seine Gestalt häßlicher war als die anderer Leute.”  Compare this with 53:2, which seems to say that his physical appearance was unimpressive by nature, even without marring.

Barnes notes that many unbelievers cite Isaiah’s use of the past tense here as proof that these events happened before Isaiah wrote, and thus that they could not apply to Christ, but this is a very weak argument.  See notes on48:3, 22:8, and 3:4.

[1] The Greeks under Antiochus Epiphanes defiled the temple in the 2nd century B.C., and the Romans destroyed the temple in 70 A.D.


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