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Isaiah 60:1-22 | Werner Bible Commentary

Isaiah 60:1-22

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60:1. Masoretic Text: Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of YHWH has risen upon you.

Septuagint: Shine, shine, O Jerusalem, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the conjunction “and” does not precede “[the] glory.”

The Septuagint rendering includes no reference to arising, and the repetition of “shine” serves to intensify the imperative.

Commentary

Like the Septuagint, the Targum of Isaiah identifies Jerusalem as the one being addressed. Jerusalem, the capital city, represents God’s people Israel. The invitation to arise and to shine indicates that the repentant people would cease to be in a humiliated condition as if lying or sitting on the ground in gloomy darkness. As a people forgiven of their sins and restored to God’s favor, they could stand up and shine, reflecting their dignified status as his children.

The coming of the light may be understood to refer to their being granted God’s favorable attention, and the glory of YHWH would rise upon them or be revealed by his liberating them from their distress.

60:2. Masoretic Text: For look! Darkness will cover the earth and dense darkness [literally, a “cloud”] the peoples. And YHWH will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.

Septuagint: Look! Darkness and gloom will cover the earth upon the nations. But upon you the Lord will appear, and his glory will be seen upon you.

Commentary

God’s people, represented by Jerusalem, would have his favor, aid, and guidance, but the “earth,” or its other inhabitants, would continue to be in deep darkness. Those who would find themselves in darkness would be in a state of confusion, lacking clear direction in their lives. On account of the prevailing darkness among earth’s inhabitants, the positive developments among God’s people would stand out prominently. Over them, YHWH would rise as if shedding brilliant light upon them with his guidance, blessing, and protection. According to the rendering of the Septuagint, he would “appear” upon his people or manifest that his presence is with them. His glory, or the magnificent manifestation of his favorable attention and presence with his people, would clearly be seen amidst the darkness that engulfed earth’s inhabitants.

60:3. Masoretic Text: And nations will go to your light and kings to the brightness of your shining.

Septuagint: And kings will go to your light and nations to your brightness.

Commentary

Peoples of the various nations and even rulers would come to see the light that God’s people enjoy. This light would be in the form of YHWH’s guidance, aid, and blessing, and the tangible and positive results therefrom. As a consequence, people of the nations would come to this light, seeking to share in it and ceasing to be in the confused and hopeless state of darkness. Among them would be kings or rulers who would recognize the brightness of the shining light, the light or enlightenment that has its source in YHWH.

60:4. Masoretic Text: Lift up your eyes round about and see: All of them gather together. They come to you. Your sons will come from far away, and your daughters will be carried on the side.

Septuagint: Lift up your eyes round about, and see your children gathered together. Look! All your sons have come from far away, and your daughters will be carried on the shoulders.

In the Targum of Isaiah, those gathered together are identified as “all the sons of the people of [Jerusalem’s] exiles.”

Commentary

In the initial sense, the reference could be to the return of the repentant Israelite exiles to Jerusalem or to their land. Jerusalem is represented as a mother whose eyes had been downcast from humiliation and distress and who is invited to lift up her eyes and to look all around her into the distance. She would then see the assembling of those who would be returning to her. From far away her sons would be coming, and her young daughters would be carried on the “side” or the hip or, according to the Septuagint rendering, the “shoulders.” No one is identified as doing the transporting, but the words about carrying may be understood to imply that non-Israelites would be supportive of the people in their return to Jerusalem or to their land.

When linked to the time Jesus appeared on the scene as the promised Messiah or Christ and the developments that occurred thereafter, the application would be to those who came to have the heavenly Jerusalem as their mother. (Galatians 4:26) Upon putting faith in Jesus as the Messiah and the forgiveness of sins that had been made possible through his sacrificial death, they became the children of the Jerusalem above. The assistance that Jesus and the angels render to these children so that they would be approved citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem could be likened to their being carried. (Compare Hebrews 1:14; 2:16-8.)

60:5. Masoretic Text: Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will tremble and be enlarged, for to you the abundance of the sea will be turned; the wealth of the nations will come to you.

Septuagint: Then you will see and be in awe and be beside yourself in your heart, for the riches of the sea and the nations and the peoples will be turned over to you.

In the the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the reading of the initial part of the verse is shorter. “Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will be enlarged.”

The Targum of Isaiah refers to the “fear of sins” as being the reason for the enlargement of the heart.

In Rahlfs’ printed Greek text, there are three additional words that have not been translated here. These words are part of the sentence that is completed in the next verse, where they have been included.

Commentary

When Jerusalem (represented as the mother of God’s people) sees her many sons and daughters returning, she will be radiant or shine with joy. Her experience would be that of the repentant people. The heart or inmost self of Jerusalem, or of the people whom she represents as the “mother,” will tremble, apparently with a feeling of awe and wonder at what YHWH has done by effecting the liberation of his people and bestowing his favor upon them. The enlarging of the heart of the repentant people (whom the mother Jerusalem represents) could refer to the widening out of the inmost self in its affection for YHWH and in its appreciation for what he has done for them.

According to the reading of the Septuagint, God’s repentant people, as represented by Jerusalem, would be in awe or have a reverential fear on account of what their God has done for them. They would be ecstatic or beside themselves with joy and appreciation.

The “abundance” or “riches” of the sea could refer to the costly things that would be coming to Jerusalem from the islands in and the coastlands around the Mediterranean Sea, and peoples of the various nations would be bringing a significant portion of their wealth. This may be understood to denote that non-Israelites would give active support to the arrangement for true worship. After the Israelites returned from exile, they did receive support from people of the nations. (Ezra 1:4, 6; 6:7-10; 7:14-17) When understood as also applying to developments following the coming of the promised Messiah, Jesus the Anointed One or Christ, the contributions from non-Israelites were primarily for the needy Jewish fellow believers in Jerusalem and Judea. (Romans 15:25-27)

60:6. Masoretic Text: A multitude of camels will cover you; the young camels of Midian and Ephah, all those from Sheba, will come. Gold and frankincense they will bring, and the praises of YHWH they will proclaim.

Septuagint: Herds of camels will come to you, and camels from Madiam [Midian] and Gaipha [Ephah] will cover you. All from Saba [Sheba] will come, bringing gold, and they will bring frankincense. And they will proclaim the glad tidings [concerning] the deliverance of the Lord.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) contains different spellings for Ephah and Sheba (“Ephu” and “Shebu”).

The last three words of verse 5 in Rahlfs’ Greek text have been included for this verse, as they are essential for completing the initial sentence of verse 6.

Commentary

So many camels would be coming to Jerusalem that they are represented as covering the city. The Midianites were descendants of Abraham by his concubine Keturah. According to Genesis 25:4, Ephah (Gaipha or Gaiphar [LXX]) was a son of Midian. Though related to the Israelites, the Midianites frequently proved themselves to be their enemies. (Numbers 25:17, 18; 31:3-8; Judges 6:1-4) Here, in the prophecy of Isaiah, the Midianites, including the tribe that descended from Ephah, are portrayed as giving active support to the arrangement for pure worship of YHWH that existed among his people.

Sheba was an area in the Arabian Peninsula. The rendering of the Septuagint is more specific than the Hebrew text in indicating that this region was the source of the gold and frankincense transported on the numerous camels headed to Jerusalem. A number of translations of the Hebrew text identify the caravans of camels of Midian and of Ephah as having come from Sheba with gold and frankincense or incense. “Great caravans of camels will come, from Midian and Ephah. They will come from Sheba, bringing gold and incense.” (GNT, Second Edition) “Vast caravans of camels will converge on you, the camels of Midian and Ephah. From Sheba they will bring gold and incense for the worship of the LORD.” (NLT) “Camels in droves will cover the land, young camels from Midian and Ephah, all coming from Sheba laden with gold and frankincense.” (REB)

Other translations refer to the people from Sheba coming with gold and incense or spices. “Your country will be covered with caravans of young camels from Midian and Ephah. The people of Sheba will bring gold and spices.” (CEV) “Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels from Midian and Ephah. People will come from Sheba bringing gold and incense.” (NCV) “Camels in throngs will fill your streets, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; everyone in Saba will come, bringing gold and incense.” (NJB)

Regardless of how the Hebrew text is rendered, the basic message is that camels in great numbers, loaded with gold and frankincense, would be coming to Jerusalem. Those who would be coming are represented as doing so in recognition of YHWH, for they will be making expressions of praise to him. According to the Septuagint rendering, they will tell the good news regarding the deliverance he has effected. In the initial sense, this could apply to the deliverance of the Israelites from exile. When linked to the promise about the coming of the Messiah, the reference would be to the deliverance from sin and the condemnation to which sin leads.

60:7. Masoretic Text: All the flocks of Kedar will be gathered together to you; the rams of Nabaioth will serve you. They will come up with acceptance on my altar, and I will glorify my glorious house.

Septuagint: And all the sheep of Kedar will be gathered together to you, and the rams of Nabaioth will come to you, and acceptable [sacrifices] will be brought up on my altar, and my house of prayer will be glorified.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the conjunction “and” precedes the verb rendered “they will come up.” Additionally, instead of the preposition ‘al in the Masoretic Text, the scroll has the prepositional prefix le before the Hebrew word translated “acceptance.” Then, after the word for “acceptance,” ‘al appears in the scroll. These differences, however, do no affect the basic meaning of the text.

Commentary

Kedar was located in the northwestern part of the Arabian Peninsula. According to Genesis 25:13 and 1 Chronicles 1:29, Kedar was a son of Ishmael, Abraham’s son by Hagar, and Nabaioth was his older brother, Ishmael’s firstborn. Both the descendants of Kedar and Nabaioth were nomadic tent-dwelling tribes with large flocks of sheep and goats.

The fact that animals from the flocks of these tribes are portrayed as coming to be acceptable sacrifices suggests that the former hostilities between the Israelites and the descendants of Ishmael would end and that they would come to be united in acceptably worshiping God.

After the exiled Israelites returned to Jerusalem and their land, many non-Isrelites did either become proselytes or began to worship YHWH as the only true God. At festival time, many proselytes traveled to Jerusalem from distant lands and offered sacrifices at the temple. It was YHWH’s will that the temple be rebuilt, and so the increase in worshipers there from among the nations can rightly be attributed to him. He thus glorified his “house” or temple, particularly on account of the many who went there for worship. The Septuagint rendering identified the temple as a “house of prayer,” indicating that it would be glorified or made magnificent with the influx of worshipers from many nations.

A more extensive turning of non-Israelites to the true God began after the coming of Jesus, the promised Messiah or Christ. As Jesus explained to a Samaritan woman, the time had then arrived when true worship would no longer be associated with a temple at a specific geographical location. (John 4:21-24) Therefore, the worship “in spirit and truth” to which he referred did not include animal sacrifices to be presented on an altar in Jerusalem. Acceptable sacrifices, as mentioned in Hebrews 13:15, 16, included expressions of praise and generous giving to those in need.

60:8. Masoretic Text: Who [are] these that fly like a cloud, and like doves to their openings?

Septuagint: Who [are] these that fly like clouds, and like doves with young?

The answer to the rhetorical question found in the Targum of Isaiah is, “The exiles of Israel who gather themselves together and come to their land, even as doves that return to the midst of their cotes.”

Commentary

If the answer to the rhetorical question is directly linked to the words in the next verse, the poetic portrayal is that of many ships, with their white sails unfurled. A number of translations make this significance explicit. “Who are these that sail along like clouds, that fly like doves to their dovecotes? They are vessels assembling from the coasts and islands.” (REB) “And what do I see flying like clouds to Israel, like doves to their nests? They are the ships of Tarshish, reserved to bring the people of Israel home.” (NLT) “What are these ships that skim along like clouds, like doves returning home? They are ships coming from distant lands, bringing God’s people home.” (GNT, Second Edition)

The numerous sails of the ships as a whole would resemble a cloud and be moving like a cloud. The sailing vessels would also appear like a large number of doves swiftly heading for the openings to their nesting places. According to the Septuagint rendering, the doves are with young, suggesting they they would repeatedly be flying to the nesting sites to feed their offspring.

Another possibility is that the question serves to highlight that the number of exiles returning to Jerusalem and their land would be large, comparable to a cloud or to many doves in flight.

Understood in relation to the coming of the Messiah, the question indicated that many would become approved servants of God, putting their faith in Jesus as the Christ, the unique Son of God, and his sacrificial death for them.

60:9. Masoretic Text: For the islands [coastlands] will wait for me, and ships of Tarshish [will be] in the first [position] to bring your sons from far away, their silver and their gold with them, for the name of YHWH your God, and for the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.

Septuagint: The islands waited for me, and ships of Tarshish [will be] among the first ones to bring your children from afar, and silver and gold with them, because of the name of the Lord, the holy [name], and because the Holy One of Israel [is] to be glorious.

Instead of “your sons,” the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) says “my sons.”

Commentary

The reference to the waiting of the islands apparently applies to God’s people who had been forcibly taken from their land and found themselves on the islands and in regions along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. They would have waited on YHWH, longing for the time when they would be able to return to their land.

Tarshish is commonly linked to a region of the Iberian Peninsula, but this identification is not certain. Ships of Tarshish probably were large vessels that could sail to the most distant ports on the Mediterranean Sea. These ships would be in the leading position to transport the “sons” of Jerusalem back to their home. These “sons” would be coming with silver and gold as a contribution for the temple in Jerusalem. The silver and gold being designated for a sacred purpose, they were for the name of YHWH or for the God whom his name represented. He is the Holy One of Israel, the God who is pure in the ultimate sense. By effecting the liberation of his repentant people and making it possible through the agency of the Persian monarch Cyrus for the temple to be rebuilt, YHWH made the desolated and depopulated Jerusalem glorious or magnificent.

The Septuagint rendering suggests that the positive developments would occur for the sake of the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. He would be glorious on account of what he would do for his people.

When these words are linked to the coming Messiah, they may be understood to indicate that, in ever-increasing numbers, individuals would become citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem as approved children of God by reason of their faith in Jesus and his sacrificial death for them. (Galatians 4:26)

60:10. Masoretic Text: And foreigners will build your walls, and their kings will attend to you; for in my wrath I struck you, and in my goodwill I have had mercy on you.

Septuagint: And foreigners [those of another tribe] will build your walls, and their kings will attend to you, for because of my wrath I struck you, and because of mercy I loved you.

Commentary

In the past, foreigners had desolated and destroyed Jerusalem. The rebuilding efforts, however, were to have the support of foreigners, including kings. Persian monarch Cyrus authorized the return of Israelite exiles and their rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. Additionally, he urged that they be given assistance in the form of silver, gold, domestic animals, and offerings for this temple. (Ezra 1:2-4, 6) Later, after opposition from surrounding peoples succeeded in putting a stop to the rebuilding efforts (Ezra 4:6-23), Persian King Darius (Darius Hystaspis, also called Darius the Great or Darius I), subsequent to a check of the royal archives for the decree of Cyrus, ordered that the work continue and insisted on its being given full support by the officials in the region that were under his authority. (Ezra 5:17-6:12) Artaxerxes Longimanus, the son of Xerxes I, and members of his court gave gold and silver to Ezra to obtain animals for sacrifice, the things essential for grain offerings and libations, and other features of the temple services. (Ezra 7:12-20; 8:25-30) This Persian king later granted Nehemiah the authority to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. (Nehemiah 2:1-9) So, according to the historical details preserved in the biblical record, foreigners did build the walls of Jerusalem, and kings attended or ministered to Jerusalem with their active support and contributions.

In his wrath on account of the unfaithfulness of the Israelites, he struck them, allowing them to fall before their enemies and for the survivors to be taken into exile. In expression of his goodwill or his favor, he had mercy on them, forgiving his repentant people and restoring them to their land. According to the Septuagint rendering, his mercy in forgiving the repentant people made it possible for him to love them.

In relation to the coming Messiah, Jesus the Anointed One or the Christ, non-Israelites would become closely associated with those among the Israelites who put faith in him. These non-Israelites would actively support them, responding compassionately to the needy ones among them. (Compare Romans 15:25-27.)

60:11. Masoretic Text: And your gates will always be open. Day and night they will not be shut [in order] to bring to you the wealth of the nations and their kings being led.

Septuagint: And your gates will always be open. Day and night they will not be shut [in order] to bring to you the power of the nations and kings being led.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the conjunction “and” follows the Hebrew word for night, indicating that the gates would be open day and night.

The Septuagint reference to the “power of the nations” could refer to their wealth, for the possession of riches endows the possessor with power that the one without them does not have.

Commentary

Restored Jerusalem is represented as a city with gates that, both day and night, would continually remain open. The reason the gates would not be shut would be to make it possible for the “wealth of the nations” to be brought into the city. (Compare Revelation 21:25, 26.)

Historically, no comparable developments occurred in the case of the rebuilt Jerusalem. Therefore, the prophetic words apparently are to be linked to the Messiah, Jesus the Anointed One or the Christ, and the opportunity that his coming opened up for people of the nations to come to have the relationship of children or citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem or the “Jerusalem above.” (Galatians 4:26) There is never a time when individuals who put faith in Jesus and his sacrificial death for them cannot come to have the Jerusalem above as their mother or to be citizens of this heavenly Jerusalem. Accordingly, access is always available.

Based on Jesus’ words about storing up “treasure in heaven” (Matthew 6:20), the wealth of the people of the nations may be understood to be this treasure, treasure that would come to be in the heavenly Jerusalem. When those who put faith in Jesus use their assets, time, and energies unselfishly for the benefit of others because of their loving concern for them, they establish a record that is divinely approved. Their building up an account of generous giving based on their ability and in expression of genuine compassion for those in need is comparable to making a deposit in heaven or in the heavenly city, the Jerusalem above.

Numerous translations add “in procession” (ESV, HCSB, NASB, NRSV) after the Hebrew verb rendered “led.” The Targum of Isaiah identifies the kings as captives in chains. This significance is also found explicitly expressed in modern translations. “The kings of the world will be led as captives in a victory procession.” (NLT) If the meaning is that the kings would be led in a triumphal procession as captives, this would be as voluntary captives by reason of their choosing to be subject to Jesus Christ as the King of kings and Lord of lords.

According to the renderings in other translations, the kings are represented as being in the leading position. “Your gates will be open day and night to let the rulers of nations lead their people to you with all their treasures.” (CEV) “They will not be closed day or night, so that men may bring the riches of the nations to you with the kings leading the way.” (NLB) “Your gates shall stand open constantly; day and night they shall not be closed but shall admit to you the wealth of nations, and their kings, in the vanguard.” (NAB) In relation to the Jerusalem above, kings or rulers have the same opportunities as all other members of the human family. (1 Timothy 2:1-6)

60:12. Masoretic Text: For the nation and the kingdom that will not serve you will perish, and the nations will be utterly desolated [literally, “to desolate will be desolated”].

Septuagint: For the nations and the kings that will not serve you will perish, and the nations will be utterly desolated [literally, “(for) desolation will be desolated”].

Commentary

The words were not fulfilled in connection with rebuilt Jerusalem, but the situation respecting the city and its inhabitants proved to be much like the description in Nehemiah 9:36, 37 [NRSV], “Here we are, slaves to this day — slaves in the land that you gave to our ancestors to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts. Its rich yield goes to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins; they have power also over our bodies and over our livestock at their pleasure, and we are in great distress.”

No earthly nation or ruler, however, has any power in relation to the “Jerusalem above,” and her children or citizens have as their God-appointed ruler, Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Therefore, nations and their rulers who persist in taking a stand against the children of the “Jerusalem above” will in due time experience severe judgment. Their deliberate refusal to become children of this Jerusalem and to make themselves available for service as devoted citizens constitutes opposition to Jesus Christ as King. The time will come when he will act against the opposing rulers and peoples of the nations, and they will then perish and come to complete desolation. (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10)

60:13. Masoretic Text: The glory of Lebanon will come to you, fir [beróhsh], elm [tidhár], and box [te’ashshúr] [trees] together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary, and I will glorify the place of my feet.

Septuagint: And the glory of Lebanon will come to you, with cypress and pine and cedar together, to glorify my holy place.

The opening words in the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) may be translated, “He has given you the glory of Lebanon, and it will come to you.” (The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible)

Commentary

There is uncertainty about the identification of the trees. (For information about trees in Israel, see trees.) According to the reading of the Hebrew text, the same trees are listed in the identical order at Isaiah 41:19. The Hebrew noun beróhsh may refer to the “fir” (Latin, abies), which is the rendering found in the Vulgate. Another suggested meaning is “juniper,” which is based on the Akkadian word for “juniper” (burāšu). According to the Septuagint, the tree is the “cypress” (kypárissos).

In case of the Hebrew noun tidhár, “elm” has been favored as the possible identification, and this has the support of the Vulgate in Isaiah 41:19, where ulmus (“elm”) is found. Here, in verse 13 of Isaiah 60, the designation ulmus does not appear, but the rendering is buxus (“box tree”). The Latin noun buxus, however, is the word that, in Isaiah 41:19, corresponds to the Hebrew designation te’ashshúr. In Isaiah 60:13, the Septuagint rendering for tidhár is “pine” (peúke) and for te’ashshúr is “cedar” (kédros). The Vulgate here uses pinus (“pine”) for te’ashshúr.

The “glory of Lebanon” applies to the magnificence of the lofty trees that flourished there to a far greater extent than they do presently. For the “glory of Lebanon” to come to Jerusalem suggests that wood from the trees there would be used for rebuilding the desolated city and the temple. With quality wood from trees of Lebanon, YHWH purposed to beautify the place of his sanctuary, which could apply either to Jerusalem or, more specifically, to the temple itself. In relation to the exalted heavenly location, either Jerusalem or the temple could figuratively designate the place for YHWH’s feet. With the finest wood from Lebanon, YHWH would make the place of his feet glorious or magnificent.

When applied to the “Jerusalem above,” the portrayal may be understood to indicate that the heavenly Jerusalem is indeed glorious or of surpassing splendor. It is comparable to a beautiful and prosperous city with an ever-increasing number of children or citizens, persons who accept Jesus as the promised Messiah or Christ, the unique Son of God, and gain forgiveness of their sins through his sacrificial death for them.

60:14. Masoretic Text: And the sons of those having oppressed you will come to you to bow down, and all having despised you will prostrate themselves at the soles of your feet. And they will call you “City of YHWH, Zion of the Holy One of Israel.”

Septuagint: And, being in fear, sons of those having humiliated you and having provoked you will come to you. And you will be called “City of the Lord, Zion of the Holy One of Israel.”

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) includes the word “all,” indicating that all the sons of the oppressors would bow down.

Commentary

Historically, this could only be understood as having occurred in a very limited way in connection with the city of Jerusalem. Before the Persian Darius the Great began his rule, those who opposed the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple succeeded in persuading a Persian monarch to have the work stopped. According to the book of Ezra, the king was Artaxerxes, but whether this was Bardiya or Gaumata cannot be established with any degree of certainty. (Ezra 4:8-24) After the document authorizing the rebuilding of the temple was found during the reign of Darius the Great, he ordered the officials on the western side of the Euphrates River not to interfere with the temple rebuilding work and to support it. (Ezra 5:7-6:12)

It could be said that the “sons” — men who, by reason of their opposition to the temple rebuilding, could be spoken of as offspring of oppressors or humiliators — had to bow down to Jerusalem. They had to support the rebuilding effort, the very thing they had strongly resisted. Those who had despised Jerusalem, desiring the city to remain in a desolated state and viewing it as having the potential to become a threat to the security of the region (Ezra 4:12-16), or who had “provoked” (LXX) Jerusalem (the people) by interfering with the rebuilding had to submit to the order of the Persian king to cooperate. That submission was comparable to having to prostrate themselves at the feet of Jerusalem. According to the Septuagint rendering, these “sons” would be in fear. Darius the Great decreed that the death penalty be imposed on those who violated his order respecting the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. This must certainly have engendered dread among those who had been hostile to the efforts of the Israelite exiles who had returned to the land to rebuild the temple. (Ezra 6:11)

The temple in Jerusalem was the temple of YHWH, and so the city was his own as the location of his center of worship. With the temple being rebuilt, those who had been guilty of afflicting and despising Jerusalem would have to acknowledge that it was the “City of YHWH,” the Zion of the God who was holy or pure, the God whom the people of Israel worshiped.

When the prophetic words are linked to heavenly Jerusalem, they have a significance on a far larger scale. Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of Lords, is God’s appointed ruler in this heavenly city. Anyone guilty of trying to hinder others from coming to have the Jerusalem above as their mother through acceptance of Jesus as their Lord or King and his sacrificial death for them as the basis for having their sins forgiven will experience the severest judgment possible. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10) To be divinely approved, all must acknowledge Jesus as Lord, thus prostrating themselves before him, and this includes all who may formerly have been guilty of afflicting or oppressing and despising the children of heavenly Jerusalem. (Galatians 4:26-31; Philippians 2:9-11)

60:15. Masoretic Text: Instead of being forsaken and hated and [with] no one passing through, I will make you a majestic one for limitless time, a joy [from] generation [to] generation.

Septuagint: Because you became forsaken and hated and [there] was no one helping, [therefore] I will make you an eternal rejoicing, a joy of generations to generations.

Commentary

When the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, the city did become a forsaken and hated place. YHWH had permitted this to happen in expression of his judgment against the people who had disregarded his commands. He forsook the city, withdrawing his protection and expressing his hatred or intense displeasure with his wayward people. In Jerusalem’s devastated state, no one passed through, for all activity in the city had stopped. This situation was to end, with Jerusalem becoming a majestic place or an object of pride as a restored, repopulated, and flourishing city for years to come. The changed circumstances would provide a basis for joy among the people from one generation after another.

Insofar as earthly children were concerned, the “Jerusalem above” appeared to be a forsaken and hated city, a place with no one passing through. Not until the arrival of the promised Messiah, Jesus, the Anointed One or the Christ, did the opportunity open up for humans to be forgiven of their sins through faith in him and his sacrificial death for them and thus to become children of the “Jerusalem above.” In the generations since then, this Jerusalem has continued to have more and more children, and it is a place of splendor or an object of pride that far outstrips the majesty of earthly Jerusalem during its most prosperous times. On account of the benefits and blessings that the children of the heavenly Jerusalem receive in the form of divine guidance, help, and safeguarding, it has proved to be a source of joy from generation to generation.

60:16. Masoretic Text: And you will suck the milk of nations, and you will suck the breast of kings. And you will know that I, YHWH, am the one delivering you and the one redeeming you, [I], the Mighty One of Jacob.

Septuagint: And you will suck the milk of nations and consume the wealth of kings. And you will know that, I, the Lord, [am] the one delivering you and rescuing you, the God of Israel.

Commentary

“Milk” may here represent rich food, and the reference to sucking the milk of nations suggests that “Jerusalem” (that is, the inhabitants of the city and the land) would receive an abundance of food from other peoples and so would never again experience any lack. Jerusalem’s sucking the breast of rulers or consuming their “wealth” (LXX) indicates that the Israelites would benefit from the riches that rulers would be bringing or sending to the city.

After the Israelites returned from exile to their own land, support for the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem and the city and for services at the temple did come from non-Israelites, including kings. (Ezra 1:3-6; 6:8-10; 7:12-24; Nehemiah 2:7, 8) Upon witnessing the restoration of the temple and the devastated city, the people came to know that their God YHWH had effected the deliverance and redeemed them or rescued (LXX) them from servitude to their captors. All this occurred in fulfillment of the word of YHWH through his prophets, confirming undeniably that he was indeed the Deliverer and Redeemer of his people.

The lofty prophetic language suggests that more was involved than the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple with the support of non-Israelite peoples and rulers. When the words are also understood to apply to the heavenly Jerusalem, they may indicate that people from all nations, including persons in high station, who came to be children of the heavenly Jerusalem would generously be using their assets to aid those in need. By doing so, they would store up treasure in heaven or be bringing their riches into the heavenly Jerusalem, where their sacrifices in the form of praise and thanksgiving to God and their compassionate giving would prove to be a deposit that would be pleasing to him. (Matthew 6:19-21; Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 13:15, 16)

60:17. Masoretic Text: Instead of bronze, I will bring gold, and instead of iron, I will bring silver; and instead of wood, bronze; and instead of stones, iron. And I will make your overseers peace and your masters righteousness.

Septuagint: And instead of bronze, I will bring gold to you, but instead of iron I will bring silver to you, but instead of wood I will bring bronze to you, but instead of stones, iron. And I will give your rulers in peace and your overseers in righteousness.

Commentary

The Targum of Isaiah interprets these words to indicate that what the conquerors of Jerusalem had taken would be replaced with superior materials. Whereas the temple and the city were rebuilt, the preserved biblical record does not suggest that the people did the rebuilding with better and more costly materials than those that were used formerly. Centuries later Herod the Great had the temple rebuilt on a grand scale and also undertook other impressive building projects, but the Roman military forces under the command of Titus destroyed these magnificent architectural works in 70 CE.

Although back in their own land, the returned exiles continued to be subject to foreign powers, and no king of the royal line of David ever ruled at Jerusalem in subsequent centuries. Peace, well-being, or an absence of oppression, and righteousness or justice did not hold sway in the land under foreign rule. So it could not be said that YHWH had then made “peace,” instead of tyranny or oppression, overseers in the land nor made masters of righteousness or justice. From their overlords, the Israelites often suffered.

The magnificence of the “Jerusalem above” eclipses the splendor of the most precious materials on earth. Heavenly Jerusalem is far more impressive than earthly Jerusalem ever was. From that standpoint, one could say that YHWH did replace the inferior building materials with more precious ones. (Compare Revelation 21:10-21.)

Additionally, the children or citizens of the “Jerusalem above” have had selfless, caring shepherds who have labored diligently to promote peace or well-being among fellow children. These shepherds have upheld the highest standard of righteousness or uprightness in their lives, and their admonition for fellow members of God’s beloved family to act uprightly has been backed by their own example, an example worthy of imitation. (Acts 20:31-35; Hebrews 13:7, 17; 1 Peter 5:1-3)

60:18. Violence will no more be heard in your land, [nor] devastation and crash within your borders. And you will call your walls “Deliverance” and your gates “Praise.”

Septuagint: And injustice will no more be heard in your land, nor devastation nor misery within your borders, but your walls will be called “Deliverance” and your gates “Carved Work [glýmma].”

In the Dead the Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the verse begins with the conjunction “and.”

The Septuagint rendering glýmma, designating carved work, an engraved figure, an inscription, a sculpture, or a sculpted object, appears to refer to the architectural beauty of the gates. If the Hebrew text available to the translator contained a word for “praise,” he may have considered it to signify that the gates were objects of praise and, therefore, chose a Greek expression that focused on their appearance.

Commentary

These words did not find their fulfillment among the returned exiles and their offspring. Many continued to experience violence or injustice. Nehemiah, in prayer, acknowledged that the Israelites were slaves in their own land and that much of the produce and many animals of their flocks and herds ended up having to be given to the foreign rulers who exercised dominion over them. As a consequence, the people generally found themselves in great distress. (Nehemiah 9:36, 37) The tribute they had to pay was extremely burdensome. Many had to borrow money to do so. As lenders, wealthy Israelites took advantage of the plight of the needy and took over their land, vineyards, and homes, and had their children be their slaves. In his role as governor, Nehemiah acted swiftly to correct the situation when he heard the outcry of the oppressed people. (Nehemiah 5:1-12)

Among the children of the “Jerusalem above,” all forms of violence and injustice have ceased to exist. Their former disposition is described in Titus 3:3 (REB): “There was a time when we too were lost in folly and disobedience and were slaves to passions and pleasures of every kind. Our days were passed in malice and envy; hateful ourselves, we loathed one another.”

Moreover, the time will come under the rule of Jesus, the promised Messiah and the unique Son of God, when violence, the devastation that results from wars, and the crash, wreckage, or “misery” (LXX) that invading armies cause will end. Then there will be security as if walls assured that there would be no threat of any kind. Such walls would deserve to be called “Deliverance” or “Salvation.” At the gates of ancient cities, watchmen were stationed to be on the lookout for any sign of danger and to sound warnings. The name “Praise” for the gates suggests that there would be no occasion for watchmen to sound an alarm. Instead, at the gates, praise and thanksgiving would be heard on account of the existing peace and prosperity.

60:19. Masoretic Text: No more will the sun be your light by day; and for brightness, the moon will not give light to you, for YHWH will be a light to you [for] limitless time, and your God [will be] for your glory.

Septuagint: And the sun will not be for light to you by day nor will the rising of the moon shine for you at night, but the Lord will be an eternal light to you, and God [will be] your glory.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll), like the Septuagint, includes “night” (the moon will not give light to you by night).

Commentary

According to the interpretation of the Targum of Isaiah, the sun will no longer be needed for light by day, and the brightness of the moon will not be needed at night. This explanation does appear to fit the meaning of the passage. With YHWH being the light for all time to come and his glory, magnificence, or splendor continually serving as illumination, the beneficiaries thereof would have reliable guidance and the joy and abundant blessings that are associated with light. (Compare Revelation 21:23, 24.)

When the Israelite exiles were able to return to their land, the darkness they had experienced as a humiliated people on foreign soil ended, and YHWH proved to be their light, dispelling the gloom of the past and providing them with needed guidance and aid on their way back and then in carrying out his purpose to have the temple and the city of Jerusalem rebuilt.

In case of the children of the “Jerusalem above,” God has been their light, providing them with the needed guidance, assistance, and safeguarding. They are not in the dark as if in a state of ignorance and without any clear direction in their lives.

60:20. Masoretic Text: No more will your sun set, and your moon will not withdraw itself; for YHWH will be a light to you for limitless time, and the days of your mourning will be ended.

Septuagint: For the sun will not set to you and the moon will not eclipse itself to you, for the Lord will be an eternal light to you, and the days of your mourning will be fulfilled.

The opening words of the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the Great Isaiah Scroll) may be rendered, “Your sun will not set.”

In the Targum of Isaiah, the first part of the verse is interpreted to mean that the kingdom of Jerusalem will cease no more, and her glory will not depart.

Commentary

The setting of the sun and the withdrawal of the light of the moon as when it is eclipsed refer to the arrival of a period of darkness or gloom. This would be a time when bright prospects end for the people, and they would experience affliction, misery, and hopelessness. The promise that the sun would not set and that the moon would not cease to shed its light indicated that there would never be a time when the people would be without illumination. This is because YHWH would continue to be their light, providing them with the guidance and everything else they would need to remain in a state of well-being. (Compare Revelation 21:23, 24.)

When the Israelites found themselves in exile, they did mourn. (Compare Psalm 137:1-4.) Upon being able to return to their land, the days of Jerusalem’s mourning ceased. The city no longer was like a childless widow in a state of grief, and the returned children mourned no more on account of their captive condition.

Children of the “Jerusalem above” — those who put their faith in Jesus, the unique Son of God, and the atoning benefits of his sacrificial death for them — are also children of God. They enjoy their heavenly Father’s guidance, care, and blessing, and so do not experience the darkness or gloom comparable to being deprived of the light of the sun and the moon. At all times, God is their light. In the past, they mourned about their sinful state. They were like captives whom sin had bound, and they faced the condemnation to which sin leads. Because of having been forgiven of their sins, their period of mourning ended, making it possible for them to rejoice in the light of God’s favor as his approved children.

60:21. Masoretic Text: And your people [will] all [be] righteous. For limitless time, they will inherit the land. [They are] the shoot of his planting, the work of my hands, for [me] to be glorified.

Septuagint: And your people [will] all [be] righteous, and they will inherit the land throughout the age, guarding the planting, the works of his hands, for glory.

According to the reading of the Dead Sea Scroll (the Great Isaiah Scroll), the people are the “shoot that YHWH planted, the works of his hands.”

Commentary

As revealed in the historical record preserved in the sacred writings, the Israelite exiles and their offspring who resided in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the land could not all be described as “righteous” or upright. The prophetic words were not fulfilled respecting the people for whom the temple at Jerusalem served as the center of worship. These words are fulfilled in the case of the people belonging to the “Jerusalem above,” for all of them have been forgiven of their sins and have been divinely approved as righteous on the basis of their faith in Jesus as God’s Son and his having died for their sins.

Jesus Christ is the heir of everything. (Hebrews 1:2) Therefore, as joint heirs with Christ, the children of the “Jerusalem above” share in his inheritance. (Romans 8:17) With him, they may be regarded as coming to inherit or to possess the land.

God is the one who made it possible through his Son for humans to become his children, children of the “Jerusalem above” or citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem. As a composite whole, they are the shoot or the product of his planting. They are the work of his hands, for they owe their existence to him. As the result of his action, they are to serve for his glory or to glorify him. This they do by conducting themselves as his beloved children, following a way of life that he had predetermined as befitting those whom he would recognize as his own. Love for him would prompt them to conduct themselves in an upright manner and to respond compassionately to those in need. (Ephesians 2:10)

According to the rendering of the Septuagint, God is the one who would guard the “planting,” the “work of his hands.” This would mean that his people would have his aid and protection.

60:22. Masoretic Text: The little one will become a thousand, and the small one a mighty nation. I, YHWH, will hasten it in its time.

Septuagint: The smallest one will become thousands, and the least, a great nation. I, the Lord, will gather them according to the [due] time.

Commentary

Eventually, the sparsely inhabited city of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 11:1, 2) did become a populous metropolis, but a far more remarkable increase has taken place in relation to the heavenly Jerusalem.

The first “children” of the “Jerusalem above,” Israelites who accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah and as the unique Son of God, were few in number. (Matthew 9:37) From the few, there came to be thousands. As a collective whole, the smallest one became a mighty or large nation composed of Jews and non-Jews who were scattered throughout the world. (Acts 4:4; 5:14; 6:7; Colossians 1:21-23) As indicated in the Hebrew reading of the prophetic words, this would occur because YHWH would cause it to progress speedily in his due time. Once that due time arrived, the increase proved to be rapid. To God, this remarkable growth is to be attributed. (Compare Mark 4:26-31; Acts 2:46, 47; 1 Corinthians 3:6.)

The Septuagint refers to God as gathering the large number. He did gather the Israelite exiles and made it possible for them to return to their land. The gathering in ever-increasing numbers of the children of “Jerusalem above” is likewise his doing.