Isaiah 56 – 66 Notes: This is not exhaustive but these are notes for Chapters 56-66 of Isaiah. Works used in these study notes are Jerome Study Bible, Thomas Aquinas Commentary on Isaiah, George Leo Haydock (Catena), Orthodox Study Bible, and the Reformation Study Bible, Brenton’s LXX for main readings.
These prophecies are addressed to the exiles returned from Babylon before the rebuilding of the temple in 520 BC (64:8-12). They still suffer from idolatry, hypocrisy, and indifference. Isaiah prophesies concerning their responsibilities toward the coming glorious kingdom and the certainty of its arrival.
56:1-8 This poem opens with the familiar themes of salvation and justice just as in 40:14; 41:14; 45:8.
Of note: Many ECFs like Clement of Alexandria and Jerome recognize here the OT preparation for the NT teaching on consecrated virginity (Isaiah 54:1-3; Mt 19:11-12; 1 Cor. 7:7, 25-35).
56:1 Judgment, the right resolution to do God's will, which justice executes, chap. 32. My justice. LXX, "mercy." Christ is at hand. Prepare for your deliverance, by keeping the commandments. (Haydock)
56:2 May be recalling Ps. 1:1; if one compares it to Jer. 17:7 or Mk 5:3-11 or Ps 8:5; Job 7:17; Heb. 2:6-9.
“Sabbath”. All the Jewish festivals, as well as those of the Christian Church, and the whole law. (Haydock)
56:3 “eunuch”. Normally excluded from the covenant community (Deut. 23:1). The Ethiopian eunuch of Acts 8:26-39 fulfilled this promise through faith in Jesus, the Servant of Isa 53.
People. The Jews would not admit all nations to their communion, Deuteronomy 33:3. 1. A little before Christ's coming, they began to make more proselytes; (Matthew 23:15) and the sacred books being translated, came to the knowledge of the Gentiles, who were thus induced by degrees to embrace the true faith. The road to heaven was always open for those who kept the commandments, (ver. 6) though they might not receive circumcision. Christ has removed the wall of separation, (Eph. 2:14) and established one fold for all, John 10. (Haydock)
56:4 Eunuchs. It was ignominious to have no children among the Jews, as the propagation of the true religion depended much on their numbers. But now, since the Church is gathered from all nations, virginity is preferable to marriage, and those who keep the Sabbath, or all the commandments, and choose this state freely, will receive greater glory than the other sons and daughters of God. Against this plain meaning, P. Martyr (de Coelib.) asserts that God prefers eunuchs only before those who transgress the law. But he gives them a place better than his other sons! Protestants (Bible, 1603) understand that eunuchs shall be called after (or according to) God's people, and be of the same religion, which implies no preference at all. They add, therefore, yea, under Christ the dignity of the faithful shall be greater than the Jews were at that time; as if the comparison were between God's servants before and after Christ, and not between eunuchs and such as have children. How much better is it for us to follow the holy Fathers, who hence commend those who make a vow of perpetual chastity? They shall possess an excellent dignity among the angels. (St. Basil, virg.) The rewards of continence are great, eximia. (St. Cyril of Alexandria, hic.) "In the eternal mansion they are preferred before children." (St. Gregory, past. iii. 29.) (Worthington) Such spiritual eunuchs, as St. John the evangelist, are meant. "He hath chosen what the Lord would, that he should offer more than was commanded. He who is an eunuch, and performs all that is prescribed, shall have. The best place, so that he shall be a tower, and occupy the rank of a priest, and instead of children of the flesh, shall have many spiritual children. "(St. Jerome) (Haydock) The law excluded eunuchs from the Church, Deuteronomy xxiii. 1. But under the gospel, they may enter heaven, Matthew xix., and 1 Corinthians vii. 32. Daniel (i. 3.) and his companions were eunuchs, yet in high estimation; and virtuous eunuchs are commended, Wisdom iii. 13. (Calmet) Choose. Observing the commandments and counsels, like religious men. (Menochius) Those who choose to do more than is commanded, will have a greater reward. (Worthington) -Haydock
56:5 And first in those things pertaining especially to eunuchs: they that shall keep my sabbaths, as to religious worship, and shall choose the things that please me, as to obedience of the law, and shall hold fast my covenant, as to observance of the promise to abstain from evils. Within my walls, a place, that is, a dwelling within the walls of my city; and a name better, because they will be called my servants and holy ones, and sons, that is, as if they had begotten many sons: the eunuch, that hath not wrought iniquity (Wis 3:14). And as to foreigners: and the children of the stranger, that is, I will give them the privileges in which the Jews glory, to worship him, as to special worship, and to love his name, like children, to be his servants, and to glory in his dominion, above: they shall worship the Lord (19:21). And these things were indeed fulfilled in the return of the people from captivity, but more fully in the conversion of the gentiles to the faith of Christ, as to the Gloss explains. –Thomas Aquinas Commentary on Isaiah.
56:3-5 Eunuchs were refused admission into the community of the Lord (Deut. 23:2) because it seemed improper for a person deprived of the power to transmit life to associate with the God of Life. Certain Israelites were likely forced to be castrated by their Babylonian masters but are no readmitted to full membership to God’s people, provided they determinedly seek God’s will and communicate spiritual vitality to others (cf. Wisdom 3:14). Their contribution to Israel’s vibrant religious life will be their name and monument within the temple.
56:6-8 The Temple receives its “highest title”… “house of prayer”. Jesus quotes these words when he drove the money-changers from the Temple, but John (2:13-22) developed the full significance of the event by pointing out the greatest struggle against sin took place in the Temple of Jesus’ own body.
56:6 Second, as to everyone generally: every one that keepeth the sabbath from profaning it. And concerning this, he does two things. First he sets out the promise, in which he promises restoration of the holy place: I will bring them into my holy mount, namely, as above: come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord (2:3); and as to the acceptance of sacrifices: their holocausts, and their victims shall please me: the sacrifice of Judah and of Jerusalem shall please the Lord (Mal 3:4).
Second, he sets out the order of fulfillment, and first as to the worship of the temple: for my house: the temple which is honoured throughout the whole world (2 Macc 3:12); my house shall be called the house of prayer (Matt 21:13; cf. John 2:16); second, as to the gathering of the people: the Lord God, who gathereth, to him, Israel, the peoples who adhere to him: the Lord buildeth up Jerusalem: he will gather together the dispersed of Israel (Ps 146:2). –Aquinas-
56:7 The foreigners are the Gentiles who are welcome at God’s holy mountain, the Church.
“Prayer”. The temple is justly styled. This shall be open to all nations. After the captivity, the Jews condescended to let the Gentiles have a court, and they even suffered some princes to go into the court of the priests, 2 Maccabees 3:33. Phys on wished to penetrate into the inner sanctuary (3 Maccabees; Ecclesiasticus 1) which could not be granted. (Haydock)
56:8 The Lord gathers Jews and non-Jews into one community (John 10:16).
56:9-57:17 This poem revives the early prophetic form of invective (Amos 2:6-16; 4:1; Isaiah 1:12-17). It’s very possible this is an attack on the apostate Samaritan cults or on the religious excesses being done by Jerusalem. It’s unclear.
56:9 “beasts of the field”. Metaphor for hostile nations (18:6; Ezek. 34:5, 8, 25). God summons these foreign nations to devour his sinful flock (Amos 3:12; Jer. 12:9).
Beasts. Here a fresh discourse begins to Ch. 61. The Chaldeans and Romans are invited to punish God's people for their sins, committed before the captivity, Zachariah 14:2. The prophet foresees the negligence of some pastors, and denounces their rigorous chastisement. (Haydock)
56:10 “watchman”. They warn the city of approaching danger. The prophets were called to be spiritual watchmen (21:6; Jer 6:17; Ezek. 3:17; 33:2-7).
Watchmen. Priests and prophets. We know only Jeremiah who continued firm, Lamentations 2:14. In the days of Christ, the corruption was not diminished. (Haydock)
“dumb dogs”. Israel’s watchmen are contemptuously so called (1 Sam 17:43), “dreaming” or, as the Hebrew may imply, “uttering incoherent sounds”.
“dogs”. Dogs are counted unclean, undesirable scavengers. They’re used here as a figure for those with insatiable greed.
56:11 “shepherds”. Rulers. “relentless”. Lit. “strong of life” with a voracious gullet, living off their sacred charge (Micah 3:1-5). Last.
The scribes devour the houses of widows, making long prayers, Matthew 23:14. They are blind, Matthew 15:14. (Haydock)
56:12 Some verses of a drinking song are quoted (Is 22:13; 28:7-10).
57:1-2 The opening words present a seeming contradiction; how’s it that “the just man”, in whom the divine promises reach fulfillment (40:14; 42:1), “perishes”? Only by faith (40:31) can we know that he “enters into peace” (44:28).
57:3-8 The language is bitter and the imagery is strong, but how can the evil be cured unless it is laid bare in all its shamefulness?
57:1 “the righteous” is Christ.
The just. Christ, (Calmet) Josias, (Grotius) or any whose cause is just, yet finds no protection from such corrupt magistrates. (Haydock) Evil, by the wicked, or to prevent his fall, 4 Kings xii. 20. People little consider what a loss the world sustains, when those die who might have averted the divine wrath. (Calmet) They are usually taken away, that they may not witness such misfortunes, and are settled in eternal peace. (Worthington) (Haydock)
57:2 Bed. The grave which affords rest to the virtuous, Josias (Calmet) (Haydock)
57:3 the “lawless” people are no longer considered children of Abraham, but of the “prostitute” (see 1:21).
“sons of a sorceress”. Children manifest what their parents put in them.
“adulterous…race”. Not just because of the fertility rites at the sanctuaries but principally because of the violation of God’s personal love (Hosea 2:4-25; Isaiah 49:14; 50:1).
57:4 The ungodly are filled with sarcasm and criticism (cf. 5:18, 19; 28:9, 10; 37:3).
Tongue, in contempt. Saints, and particularly Jesus Christ, have been exposed to ridicule. (Haydock)
57:5 “children”. Child sacrifice being practiced like it was in the worship of the Ammonite god Molech.
“you who are in heat”. The same phrase is used in Canaanite mythology for the divine amours; it refers to the sensuous rites of the high places (Deut. 12:2; 2 Kings 17:10; Jer. 2:23-27; 3:2).
Comfort. Hebrew, "heat "abandoning yourselves to shameful excesses. Torrents, to avoid being seen. Such sacrifices would have been incredible, if the Scriptures, and all history did not prove their existence, Deuteronomy 12:31, Wisdom 12:3, and 4 Kings 23:10. (Haydock)
57:6 “smooth…wady…portion”. In Hebrew these words sound alike; their quick succession is like a burst of pent-up anger.
Them. The stones of the torrent, which were often the objects of adoration, Leviticus 26:1 and Genesis 28:18. The god Heliogabalus, was a rough boundary stone. (Haydock)
57:7 These people were involved in immoral and idolatrous practices at the hilltop shrines (Hos. 4:13). Their relation with these false gods is compared to sexual union.
Bed, like a shameless prostitute. The idols are generally represented in this light, as corrupting God's people. (Calmet) (Haydock)
57:8 “indecent symbol”. The Hebrew word has the same consonants as “male”, The 2nd “symbol” translates the Hebrew word yad (hand), the phallic symbol in Canaanite literature.
Remembrance. Domestic gods. (St. Jerome) The Penates were usually placed in the court or porch. The Jews probably used Hecate or Trivia, for the same purpose Ch. 65:11 and 66:17. To prevent this impiety, God had ordered some of the law to be written on the doors Deuteronomy 6:9. But this it seems was disregarded, 4 Kings 23:8, 1 Maccabees 1:58, and Ezekiel 8:5. “Near me”. Idols were placed in the very temple, Jeremiah 35:15, 4 Kings 21:4, Ezekiel 8:3, and 16:17. (Calmet) (Ezekiel 16:32). (Haydock)
57:9 Molech may be the “king” referenced here. Melek, Molech, or Milcom is the god of the underworld to whom first-born males are sacrificed to.
King. Molech, or any foreign king, of whose alliance God did not approve. To please them, the true religion was adulterated. (Haydock)
“sent down”. Isaiah describes the energy they spent in willing service of their idols.
“Sheol”. This charge of visiting the realm of the dead is either a figure of speech to express the depths to which they sank, or a reference to necromancy (communicating with the dead).
57:10 “new strength”. In Hebrew, “life of your hand” (cf. V. 8)
Rest. They were obstinate before the coming of King Neb. and of the Romans. Asked. Confiding in their own strength. (Haydock)
57:11 Afraid, since thou hast despised me, my laws and offers (Haydock)
57:12 “righteousness” is used here in a sarcastic way declaring their sins.
If God loves his children, then he must “expose” their false “justice”, their impossible way of seeking what their whole nature yearns for.
Justice. He speaks ironically. (Calmet) Self-righteousness is vicious. (Haydock)
57:13 Companies, or princes, in whom thou hast confided. Assyria and Egypt cannot save themselves. (Calmet) (Haydock)
57:14-59:21 These are post-exilic poems. 57:14-21 shows comfort for the afflicted; 58:1-14, true fasting; 59:1-21, a penitential liturgy.
57:14-21 The opening lines almost quote 40:3-4, but the LXX emphasizes the way of faith and morals. It changes “build up” to “cleanse [the way] before him”.
57:14 This prophecy is fulfilled in John the Baptist (see 40:3).
“And I”. Seeing there is no aid in man, God will save his people for his own goodness' sake. (Haydock)
57:15 God is at once “the Lord Most High”, inconceivable and unknowable, and the “Holy One” who dwells “among His saints” and strengthens the “fainthearted”.
The psalm’s rich theology of God is illustrated here, mysteriously combining the concept of an “exalted, eternal Holy One” with God’s dwelling among the “crushed” and “dejected”. The word sakan (to dwell) comes from the desert days of Moses when it indicated the rough, Bedouin tent dwellings (Nm 16:27; 24:5). God lived with the people then and shared their hardships (Ex 25:8-9; Deut. 10:14-15). In later literature, sakan was used exclusively of God’s dwelling with his people in the Temple, but it usually, as is here, evokes a memory of his leading the people through the desert.
57:16 End. I will not always threaten or be angry, Genesis 6:3. (Calmet) Spirit. Holy Spirit. God spares the humble penitent, and grants what they desire with as much eagerness as a sailor does a fair wind. He doesn’t regard the indifferent. (Haydock)
57:17 nothing comes closer to eternal damnation than the terrible silence of God, leaving the rebellious satisfied with himself (54:8; Ps 22:2-3; 27:9).
Heart. Dreadful state of the abandoned sinner! (Deuteronomy 32:21; Ps 12:2; 43:24) (Haydock)
57:18 “I will give full comfort”. Lit. I will give peace. A promise fulfilled in the next verses. (Eph 2:17).
57:19 Lips. Whatever they could ask, so that they might sing canticles. All shall be content. He alludes to the liberation of the captives, which was near, and to the redemption of mankind far off. (Calmet) (Haydock)
57:20 “tossing sea”. The wicked are constantly in motion, restless, and causing programs (Jude 12).
Dirt. Literally, "treading/trampling” Latin: conculcationem. (Haydock) The works of the wicked are fruitless. They have no content. (Calmet) Non enim gazæ neque consular is Summovet lictor miseros tumultus, Mentis et curas laqueata circum, Tecta volantes. -- (Horace, 2. ode 16.) The obstinate sinner can receive no pardon. (Worthington) (Haydock)
57:21 Note on the words, the just perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart (57:1), that in the passion of Christ, man ought to lay to heart first love, so as to love him in return: put me as a seal upon thy heart (Song 8:6); second, bitterness, so as to sympathize with him: remember my poverty, and transgression, the wormwood and the gall (Lam 3:19); third, fortitude, so as to suffer bravely: for think diligently upon him that endured for you such opposition from sinners against himself that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds (Heb 12:3); fourth, its benefit, so as to give thanks: I will go up into the palm tree, and will take hold of the fruit thereof (Song 7:8). –Aquinas
58:1-14 The 2nd in this series of post-exilic poems answers the questions about fasting. The pracrice reaches far back into Israelite history; it was invoked for times of bereavement (2 Sam 1:12; 3:35) and national sorrow (Joshua 7:6; Judges 20:26). Fasting days naturally multiplied as sorrow abounded. Fasting commemorated the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem, the breach in the walls, the destruction of the city, and the assassination of Gedaliah (Zech 7:1-5; 8:18-19). Ezekiel (45:20) and Nehemiah (9:1) witness to the effort of concentrating on one great day of fasting, which was eventually placed on the 10th day of the 7th month (Lev 16).
58:1 God calls Isaiah to rebuke the people loudly, “like” the “trumpet” that was traditionally blown when a fast was called (Joel 2:15). The people display an outward religious piety that hides the wickedness in their hearts.
“Sins”. During the captivity, ver. 11. (St. Thomas Aquinas) Some will not hear, and those must be rebuked with all patience, till they follow virtue. (Worthington) (Haydock)
58:2 Approach, and contend with God, scrutinizing his conduct, (Proverbs 25:27) and doing good for the sake of applause and self-interest.
58:3 “fasted…oppress”. Despite their religiosity they weren’t concerned with justice for others (cf. 1:15-17; 59:2; Hos. 6:4-6; Amos 5:23, 24; Zech. 7:8-12). Instead of setting the day aside so that all can fast and pray, they wanted to rest while others worked.
Will. This alone suggested their fasts, and they did not show compassion, Ezekiel 7:2. (Calmet) Debtors, who are not able to pay. (St. Jerome) (Deuteronomy 24:12)
58:3-7 The Hebrew words for “fast” (som) and “day” (yom) sound almost alike. Isaiah lampoons the idea bit that man’s activity in fasting could turn this day into one of divine salvation (49:6; 61:2; Lk 41:18). Fasting unites and should unite the rich and poor, so they all taste the dust out of which each was made (Gen. 3:19). Only the wealthy can fast; they alone have something of which to deprive themselves of. In fasting, they share the lot of the poor who are always hungry. To fast and yet neglect the poor is a perverted form of conceit.
58:4 Strife. The usual works were interrupted. Matthew 28:28. Wickedly. LXX: "the humble."
58:5 “bow down…sackcloth and ashes”. Conventional acts of mourning ceremonies that accompany fasting.
Circle. They affected extreme debility, Matthew vi. 16. (Calmet) Ashes. These external marks of penance are not condemned, but the want of corresponding sentiments. (Haydock) Protestants would hence infer that fasting from flesh is not requisite, or a religious worship. But St. Jerome shows the contrary, provided it be joined with the observance of other commandments, as the saints and Christ himself have shown us. (Worthington) (Haydock)
58:6 This fast is chosen to be done to rescue the oppressed and provide for the needy.
Bands. Contracts of usury (Calmet) (Haydock)
58:7 “sharing your bread”. (cf. Acts 2:46; Mk 6:41; 14:22). Matthew 25:31-46 makes the eschatological judgment depend upon the kindly acts of charity mentioned here.
Deal. Literally, "break". (Haydock) Thin cakes are still used in the East. Flesh, or relation, Genesis 37:27.
58:8-12 Isaiah’s thoughts expand to include the eschatological day. When lowliness unites all men, then will God fill this need of the whole world with his glorious presence. The final age will then have come.
58:8 “your vindication”. Cf. 40:14; 54:14, 17.
Light. Prosperity, (Calmet) or Saviour. (Haydock) Matthew iv. 2., and John i. 8. (Calmet) Health. Aquila, "the scar of thy wound shall soon be covered". (St. Jerome) Up. He shall close the rear, like the angel in the cloud, Exodus xiii. 21., and xiv. 19. He will grant thee rest from bondage in the grave and in heaven. (Calmet) (Haydock)
58:9 Finger, contemptuously, or threatening. (St. Jerome) Some explain it of the ordaining sacred ministers, or taking another's property. (Haydock)
58:10 “if you bestow your bread”. This translation is a slight emendation of the Hebrew – from napseka (“your soul” to “your life”) to lahmeka (your bread). The former word will occur again in v.10 (the afflicted soul) and twice in v. 11 as “give you plenty”. When fasting makes the wealthy poor nad when the poor impart their spirit of humble waiting upon God to the wealthy, then the world will confess before God “the parched land” of their whole being and God will answer with “glory” (40:5; John 1:14), “light” (John 8:12), and “spring of water” (47:17-18; 44:3; John 7:37-38).
Soul, effectually, and with love relieving the distressed. (Calmet) (Haydock)
58:11 Fail. Alexandrian LXX adds, "and thy bones as a flower shall spring and grow fat, and shall inherit ages of ages.” St. Jerome says this is not in the best copies. (Haydock)
58:12 “ancient ruins shall be rebuilt”. The restored exiles were in need of the spiritual and economic resources to rebuild Judah. Just as Israel was called to be built on unchanging ancient foundations so is the Church, remaining faithful from generation to generation.
The poem was clearly composed before the reconstruction of the city walls in 445 BC, probably before the Temple was rebuilt in 515 BC (Ezra 6:16).
Generation. As the Jews did not comply with the condition, the Church falls heir to these promises. (Haydock)
58:13 Sabbath, doing no work, or refraining from the violation of festivals. Delightful. We must not think the Sabbath of the Lord a loss: (Amos 8:5) but rejoice in praising him, Psalm xlv. 11. (Calmet) A word, or to apply to God's word. (Grotius) Pious reading on holidays is the duty of all who have an opportunity. (Haydock)
58:14 Earth. Judea. LXX: "upon the good things of the land" (Haydock)
58:13-14 Selfish material-mindedness separates man from God and from all God’s children, whereas the “honorable” observance of “the Lord’s Day” unites everyone in a common vocation (56:2). The final words repeat 40:5.
59:1-21 Consists of a psalm (1-14), an apocalypse (15-20), and a divine oracle (21). There is a confession of guilt (9-15) and divine pardon (15-20).
59:2 Iniquities. The history of Susanna shows that the captives were not all free from sin, which alone prevented their liberation, Lamentations iii. 44. (Calmet) God is willing and able to save. He punishes for sin, to cause us to repent, ver. 20. (Worthington) (Haydock)
59:1-3 Behold the hand of the Lord is not shortened. Here he sets out the preparation for receiving salvation on the part of the savior himself. And first he sets out the necessity of salvation; second, the preparation: and the Lord saw (59:15). Concerning the first, he does two things: first, in the person of the Lord, he shows the necessity of salvation, showing the misery of the people; in the second, the people respond, recalling their misery: therefore is judgment far from us (59:9). Concerning the first, he does two things: first he shows the cause of their misery; second, the misery itself: wasting and destruction (59:7). Concerning the first, he does two things: he excludes a false cause, from lack of God’s power or understanding, because he would not rush to hear: neither is his ear heavy that it cannot hear, above: is my hand shortened? (50:2). Second, he adds the true cause, namely, their own fault, first touching upon their fault in general: but your iniquities, as to great sins, have divided, like a wall or clouds might be interposed, and your sins, as to common sins: he said: I will hide my face from them (Deut 32:20). Second, he describes their fault in particular: for your hands. And he touches in particular upon their sins against their neighbor: for he touched upon their sins against God above (57:3–11), and their sins against themselves, above (56:11–12). And he first touches upon the injustice by which they were oppressing others as to action: for your hands are defiled with blood, of the innocent, whom you have killed, and your fingers, as to lesser injustices, or as to the diligence of their action, above: for your hands are full of blood (1:15); as to speech: your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue uttereth iniquity, so that the ugliness of injustice is added to the ugliness of lying: and you shall not find iniquity in my tongue (Job 6:30). And as to omission of justice: there is none that judgeth, as to superiors, to whom it belongs to judge: seek in the broad places thereof, if you can find a man that executeth judgment (Jer 5:1). (Aquinas)
59:4 Justice. They arraign unjustly. None call upon the just God, but trust in idols. Iniquity. They kill themselves, while they strive to injure others, Psalm 7:15 and Micah 2:1.
59:7 “run…swift”. They no longer hesitate to break God’s laws (Prov 1:16); their actions result in discord and chaos (Rom 3:15-17).
59:8 “way of peace”. Those who deny others peace will themselves be kept from it (48:22; 57:21).
Basilisk, or viper. The young ones "burst through the viper's sides". (Pliny 10:62). So the works of the wicked are useless or destructive. (Haydock)
59:9-15 Communal confession of guilt is given here admitting that sin has put God’s “right” and “justice” (40:14) far from them.
59:9 Therefore. The wicked Jews nevertheless confess that their sins prove their destruction. (Haydock)
59:10 “grope…stumble”. These words describe the experience of one cursed (Deut. 28:29; Job 5:14).
Dead. The Jews will not recognize Christ, notwithstanding the prophecies and miracles (Haydock).
59:11 Judgment. That God would avenge us, (v. 9) and regard our fasts, Ch. 58:3. (Haydock)
59:12 Sorrow always teaches the sinfulness of human misdemeanor; God is the Lord of joy.
59:13 “apostasy”. Isaiah is condemning a practical abandonment and denial of God by the violation of charity, justice, and honesty.
59:14 “In”. Where truth is disregarded, there can be no justice. (Haydock)
59:15-20 Although it is similar to Isa 24-27, it’s not thundering with apocalyptic vigor. Once man recognizes the full extent of his sin he is ready to accept the full power of God’s arm of redemption (40:10; 51:5, 9).
59:15 they confess their fault. And first the manifestation of their fault as to God: for our iniquities are multiplied before thee, in your sight: all things are naked and open to his eyes (Heb 4:13); and as to the people themselves: and our sins have answered us, in punishments, for our wicked doings are with us, because we do not make satisfaction or correct our ways, above: the show of their countenance hath answered them (3:9). Second, the variety of their sins, against God: in sinning, in deed, and lying, in speech, we have turned away, in omission; and against their neighbor, in speech: but spoke calumny, against our neighbor; and against the law: and transgression: from the heart come forth evil thoughts (Matt 15:19). And as to action, and judgment is turned away backward, that is, the judgment of God for saving us; in the street, they carried out their injustices in public. He that departed from evil, lay open to be a prey, for not only did they do wicked deeds, but they plundered those who would not: there is no mercy (Hos 4:1); let us lie in wait for the just, because he is contrary to our doings (Wis 2:12). (Aquinas).
59:16 “no one to intercede”. No one was available to help, except the Messiah (53:12; Rom 5:7).
“Himself” to arrest his arm, stretched out to chastise his son; or to second him. There is nothing in man to stop God's vengeance. He therefore pardons out of his own goodness, Ch. 59:2 and 63:4. He became man to redeem us, as no pure mortal could do it. (Haydock)
59:17 Paul uses this verse in his passages on spiritual warfare (Eph 6:13-17; 1 Thess. 5:8).
Justice. None can blame his conduct. (Haydock)
The symbolism of the armor has widely influenced later biblical writings (Wisdom 5:17-23; 1 Thess 5:8; Eph. 6:14-16).
59:18 And the Lord saw. Here he sets out the preparation of salvation on the part of the savior. And first, he sets out the manner of preparation, speaking of God according to a human manner. He sets out his compassion: and the Lord saw, with the eye of mercy, there is no judgment, of anyone to save. And he saw that there is not a man, saving the Jews, and he stood astonished, saddened or distressed: and I sought among them for a man (Ezek 22:30). And he sets out the taking up of armor: and his own arm brought salvation to him, that is, his power, that he should suffer nothing contrary, or the people to the worship of him; his own justice supported him, that his vengeance be executed firmly; he put on justice as a breastplate: for as a soldier is strengthened by armor, so his work is strengthened by justice and his intention to save: his arm hath wrought for him salvation (Ps 97:1); he will put on justice as a breastplate (Wis 5:19). And he sets out the execution of vengeance: to the islands, the various peoples, the like, for the wicked things which they did to the Jews: let all men dread and fear the God of Daniel (Dan 6:26). (Aquinas)
59:19 “glory”. God’s glory is identical with his redemptive presence (40:3). The enemies seem to be world-wide, and the Israelites themselves may be included. They, too, needed purification. The powm ends with the acclamation of God as “redeemer” (41:14; 43:1; 44:22).
On. Hebrew, "is standard-bearer". (Aquila) (St. Jerome) Cyrus, the figurative redeemer, proceeds rapidly. (Haydock)
59:20 “Redeemer”. He will come in the person of Jesus Christ This promise is quoted by Paul in Romans 11:26, 27).
To Sion. Septuagint, "from Sion, and will turn away iniquity from Jacob” and this St. Paul hence proves that the Jews will at last be converted, Rom. 11:26. The return of the captives prefigured this event. (Haydock)
59:21 “You” may apply to the entire community who receive the spirit of God (Ez. 37:1-14; Zech 12:10; Joel 3:1) or to a series of prophets (Deut. 18:15; Isaiah 42:1).
Covenant. Note here a clear promise of perpetual orthodoxy to the Church of Christ. She hath still the spirit of truth. (Matthew 28:20) None will apply this to the synagogue, which is visibly in the dark, and abandoned. (Haydock)
Ch 60: He sets out their consolation in general under the metaphor of light, setting out the dawn of light itself: arise, from your former misery; be enlightened, shine in the light of his consolation; the glory of the Lord, the benefits in which he appears glorious: walk in the way by its brightness, in the presence of the light thereof (Bar 4:2). Or Jerusalem, the Church; thy light, the Son of God. And he sets out the judgment of discretion under the metaphor of perceiving by the light: for behold darkness, of tribulation; the peoples, of Babylon and their other enemies; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, like the sun illuminating you: but over them only was spread a heavy night, an image of the darkness (Wis 17:20). Or darkness, of unbelief and sins, the people, the unbelievers; the Lord shall arise, like the sun of justice, or literally; his glory, his miracles. And he sets out the effect of the light: and the Gentiles shall walk, to knowledge of and devotion to God, seeing the benefits given to you by God; in the brightness of thy rising, like the sunrise, glowing like a star: when the holy city (2 Macc 3:1). Or in thy light, in the faith of Christ: the nations shall walk in the light of it (Rev 21:24). (Aquinas)
60:1 O Jerusalem, is not in Hebrew or St. Jerome, but in the Septuagint. Some few things may refer to the terrestrial Jerusalem, though the prophet speaks chiefly of the celestial and of the Church. Lord, very great. Christ came to save us. God prevents by his grace, but man must co-operate to be justified. (Haydock)
60:2 People. Babylon shall suffer, while thou art relieved. The Gentiles continue in darkness till they embrace the faith, v. 3. Only those who are in the Church receive the light of truth. (Haydock)
60:3 “nations shall come”. The prophecy has been fulfilled day by day since the coming of the gospel (Acts 9:15; 11:18).
“kings to the brightness”. They come to Christ (42:6; 49:6). The wise men who came to see Jesus were Gentiles if not “kings” in some sense.
Rising. The three wise men were the first. (Haydock)
60:4 St. Cyril saw this not only referring to the Jews’ return from exile but also to the assembling of the Church from all nations.
Rise up. St. Jerome, "suck "as the Hebrew may imply. LXX: "shall be carried on the shoulders". This may refer to the captives and to the Church. (Haydock)
60:5 “wealth…shall come”. The prophecy began to be fulfilled with Darius’s contribution to the temple (Ezra 6:8,9). It has a much greater fulfillment through the ascended Christ, who rules in the hearts of His people.
The Gentiles have a contribution to make, enriching the people of God.
Wonder. MT and LXX in St. Jerome: "fear". This sensation is often mixed with joy, Matthew 28:8.
“Thee”. No such nations joined the Jews, as they did the Church. (Haydock)
60:6-9 “Midian, Kedar, and Ephah”. Nations of nomads descended from Ishmael and “Sheba” is an Ethiopian tribe. Christ’s Church will be glorified.
60:6 Epha. Abraham's grandson, who dwelt near his father, Madian, in Arabia, which was famous for camels. Saba. The Arabians embraced the gospel but never brought their treasures to Jerusalem. The 3 kings came on swift beasts to adore Christ and fulfilled his prophecy (Matthew 2). (Haydock)
60:7 Shows us that one day all the nations will become his children through faith (Rom 4:17).
Cedar and Nabaioth sprung from Ismael, and dwelt in desert Arabia, under tents, feeding flocks. (St. Jerome) (Ezekiel xxvii. 21.) They also were converted to Christ. (Haydock)
60:8 “Clouds”. They are thy children, accompanied by strangers. (Haydock)
60:9 “Afar”. All nations shall receive the gospel. Many made presents to the temple, after the return of the Jews. (Calmet) The islands, Great Britain, embrace the faith. (Tertullian; Origen; Ven. Bede; St. Chrysostom) (Worthington) (Haydock)
60:4-9 It almost verbatim quotes 49:18, 22. Verse 4 reads, literally, “your daughters are carried on the hips of their nurses” (49:22).
He sets out the restoration of the city as to the uniting of its inhabitants, setting out the manner of arriving under admiration: as clouds, because they come swiftly, without impediment, and as doves to their windows, that is, to their holes, for the same reason. Or this refers to the nations that were swiftly converted to the faith: who will give me wings like a dove, and I will fly and be at rest? (Ps 54:7[55:6]). And he sets out the help in coming, which they had from the gentiles: the islands, the various nations by the sea, and even far off, wait for me, as though subject to the choice of my will; the ships of the sea from the beginning of the place in which they were held captive, for perhaps some returned through the sea, or the Lord was able to lead them back thus. Or, mystically, the islands, the various nations; the ships, the churches; in the beginning, of faith, above: the islands shall wait for his law (42:4). And he sets out the treasure of those who come, which they carried with themselves: their silver; to the name, that is, to the glory and service of the name: he brought them out with silver and gold (Ps 104:37). Mystically, silver, the eloquence; gold, the wisdom of converts to the faith. (Aquinas)
60:10 “foreigners”. As Hiram, King of Tyre, helped build the 1st Temple (1 Kings 5), and Cyrus and Darius, kings of Persia, the 2nd (Ezra 6), so also today people of many nations are building up the church, the temple of the Lord (Eph. 2:11-12).
“kings shall minister”. The exiles were promised that foreign kings would depart (49:17); now it is asserted that foreign kings will serve Mt. Zion and worship God. In His wrath against kings, God will remember mercy and save some of them.
To thee. The Persian monarchs were mostly favorable to the Jews. The Gentiles help to form the Church, which rejects no one (v. 11). (Haydock)
60:11 Instead of attacking, the nations will bring tribute (Rev 21:25-26).
60:12 “perish”. Those who do not serve God and His Church falter and perish.
This verse is probably a gloss from Zech. 14:16-19, for it disturbs both the poetical style and the serene thought of these lines.
Desolation. Though the Maccabees conquered several nations, this can only be verified in the Church of Christ, to which God has subjected all; so that out of his faith none can be saved, Hebrews 2:8.
60:13 Glory; cedar, which was chiefly used in building the temple, 1 Esdras 3:7. This must be explained of the saints, who founded the Church (St. Jerome) Emperors became Christians with the most potent nations. (Haydock)
60:14 Feet. “…Jerusalem shall be rebuilt by those who destroyed it (Ch. 49:17). It’s not easy to prove this of the earthly city: but the pagans who persecuted the Church have embraced her communion and begged to receive baptism. (Haydock)
60:15 The charges of 49:14-15 or 54:6-7 are forgotten.
60:16 Jerusalem receives life’s sustenance from the nations (v. 5); v. 16cd quotes 49:26.
60:10-16 This strophe sings of peace and reconciliation (Rev 21:24-27).
Kings. Thou shalt be treated like royal babes (49:23). LXX: "thou shalt eat the riches of kings". (Haydock)
60:17 Whatever the interim fulfillments of this prophecy, it looks ultimately to the splendor of the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:9-27; see Ps. 48).
Visitation. LXX: "give thy chiefs in peace, and thy bishops in justice”. St. Clement of Rome (ad Corinthians) reads: "I’ll appoint their bishops in justice, and their deacons in faith". Scripture specifies the name and duties of the pastors of the Church (St. Jerome) (Haydock)
60:18 “walls”. God’s salvation and Israel’s place constitute the defense of the spiritual temple, Christ and His Church.
Gates. Jerusalem was not less corrupt after the captivity than before, if we except idolatry. (Calmet) Heaven alone enjoys a perfect peace and freedom from sin, (St. Cyril) though the Church is always holy. (Haydock)
60:19 “everlasting light”. God’s presence is with His people.
The sun and moon will always remain in place but all light will radiate the splendor of the Lord’s presence (Rev 21:23; 22:5).
“Thou shalt”. In this latter part of the chapter, Isaiah passes from the illustrious promises made to the Church militant on earth to the glory of the Church triumphant in heaven. “Glory”. St. John seems to have copied this (Rev. 18).
60:20-21 And the days of thy mourning shall be ended. This as to the state of their subjects. And first he sets out the ending of their sadness: and the days of thy mourning, their captivity. Mystically, in future beatitude: God shall wipe away all tears from the eyes of the saints (Rev 21:4), above: the Lord God shall wipe away tears (25:8). Second, he sets out the observance of justice: and thy people shall be all just; to glorify me, above: every one that calleth upon my name, I have created him for my glory (43:7). They shall inherit the land for ever, as long as they remain in justice; but mystically, this clearly refers to the blessed saints. Third, the multiplication of their descendants: the least shall become a thousand, that is, from one man, so many shall be born successively, just as one nation came from Abraham. Mystically, one person from the Church will be put will be put in charge as superior over a nation, Psalm: the saints shall judge nations. In its time, that is, the time of Christ, or at the time foreordained; suddenly, as though all this that has been said shall happen was not foreseen. (Aquinas)
60:22 The least of the apostles shall bring many converts or shall be the spiritual governor of a great city - the Church militant. A small shoot or family in the Church shall produce many others. (Haydock)
61:1, 2 This passage is referred to in Lk 4:16-21 when He shows He is the Lord God of whom Isaiah wrote of.
61:1-3 “Spirit” (42:1; 44:3) signals a stupendous work of God (Judges 3:10; 11:19; 1 Sam 10:5-13). The Spirit had been promised the messianic king (Isaiah 11:1-2) and later was assured the messianic people (Joel 3; Zech. 12:10).
61:1-11 Jesus uses this to announce the Messianic era had come (Luke 4:18-19).
Prisoners are led out of dark dungeons to full daylight. Here, as throughout the poem, metaphors are abundant but the basic idea looks to the total salvation of God’s people – bodily, spiritually, individually, and socially (Mt 11:4-6).
61:1 “Spirit”. The prophecy was fulfilled in the ministry of Christ. Isaiah is included (62:1) as a shadow or forerunner of Jesus.
“proclaim liberty”. This phrase might be referring or alluding to the liberation of slaves in the Year of Jubilee (Lev 25:10).
Lord. MT adds: "God". Adonai seems to have been inserted to prevent the pronunciation of Jehovah, (Kennicott) which alone occurs in the LXX, Arabic, and in Luke, 4:18. Elohim may have been substituted for Jehovah, Genesis 22:8 and v. 14: "Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah Jireh, because he had said that day on the mount: Jehovah will provide “a victim, even Jesus Christ in the same place… Luke follows the LXX in his quotation, only instead of “to preach a”, he has an explanation, to set at liberty them that are bruised. Isaias may here speak of himself, (Chaldean) yet only as a figure of Christ. The Jews admit that the Messiah is meant. Christ had received the Holy Spirit at the Jordan, John 1:32. He performed these works, (Luke 7:22) particularly addressing his discourse to the meek and poor, Sophonias 3:12 and Zachariah 11:7 and 1 Corinthians 1:26. He was not anointed with oil, like Aaron, but with the Holy Spirit; so that of his fullness others must receive, Acts 10:39. (Haydock)
61:2 “the year of the Lord’s favor”. Through His death and resurrection Jesus inaugurated the “day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2), in which the gospel is preached all over the world, and those who were estranged can find peace in Him (Eph 2:12, 13; 3:5; 2 Tim 1:10). The Messianic jubilee has arrived (Lev 25:10).
Year of Jubilee - (Jer. 25:11) when the Jews should be delivered, as a figure of Christ's redemption. Vengeance, when the Chaldeans, should perish, and all obstinate sinners, at the Day of Judgment. (Haydock)
61:3 “day of vengeance”. Jesus closed the book before reading this portion of Isaiah’s oracle (Lk 4:18-20). The time of healing belongs to His 1st Coming; the time of judgement to the 2nd (1 Thess. 1:10).
Glorify. The rulers shall act with justice (Ch. 60:17, 21).
61:4 Ruins, as the Jews did (58:12). The apostles preached to the Gentiles, who had been long neglected. (Haydock)
61:5 Vines. Bishops were soon chosen from among the Gentiles. The Maccabees subdued the neighboring nations, 1 Maccabees 15:28.
61:6 Priests. They were greatly honored, (Exodus 19:6) so that the sons of David had the appellation. The Jews had still to labor as before. Christians become heirs to these promises, and are styled a royal priesthood, 1 Peter 2:9 and Rev 1:6. They’ve received the Scriptures from the Jews and employ human sciences for the advancement of religion. The wisest pagans yield to the force of truth. (Haydock)
61:4-6 AS the new promised land rises from the ruins of 587 BC, “strangers” from all nations will contribute their time and wealth (60:4); Israel will intercede with God for them and teach them the word of salvation.
“priests of the Lord”. This text doesn’t abolish a separate order of priests, ust as the existence of the priesthood never implied that the rest of the people were profane (Ex 19:6; 1 Peter 2:9; Isaiah 66:21).
61:7 “shame…dishonor”. These words describe the experience of the Babylonian exile of the 6th Ce. BC. (30:3; 50:4-6).
Part: God, or the land. Converts shall bless God for having withdrawn them from the crowd of infidels, and they will rejoice in suffering for his sake, preferring their lot before that of unbelievers. Before this change the apostles grieved. (Worthington) (Haydock)
61:8 I, the Lord occurs just as 41:4.
Holocaust. The pagans saw such things were improper victims. (Eusebius, præp. 4:14) LXX: "hate unjust plunder". Therefore I’ll subject the strangers to you, v. 5. “Truth”. I will grant a sure reward. “Covenant”. These of Nehemiah and the Maccabees were soon forgotten: but Christ's covenant shall abide forever.
“a lasting covenant”. The word olam is translated as eternal (54:10; 55:3; 59:21). The promises of Abraham are finally fulfilled (Gen 12:2).
61:9 “descendants”. The blessings of the covenant are extended to the children (59:21).
“all who see…blessed”. This alludes to the promise to Abraham (41:8; 51:2; Gen 12:2, 3).
Blessed. The Jews are visibly the reverse. The Church flourishes in spite of domestic and foreign enemies. (Haydock)
61:10 “I” Zion is represented here as having received the blessings described in v. 3, for example, joy and the garments of praise. To be “clothed” with something is a common figure for a change in status or condition (52:1; Zech. 3:3-5; Mt. 22:11).
“garment of salvation” is Christ Himself.
Jewels. Rev. 21:2. Jerusalem (the Church) praises God (Haydock).
61:11 Nations, whose conversion is implicitly foretold. All behold the justice which God has treated both his people and their oppressors. (Haydock)
61:10-11 Jerusalem celebrates the fulfillment of love between herself and Yahweh (54:5-8; Jer. 33:10-11; Rev 19:7, 9; John 2:1-11). Messianic glory springs from the earth – i.e., with and through human beings – but “the Lord God” remains the source of all life (45:8; 53:2).
62:1-12 Is God breaking His silence after all these years? It was particularly during the long, frustrating days after the first return that Israel complained of the divine silence (57:11; 64:12; 65:6).
62:1 “burning torch”. This picture of salvation as a welcoming light is developed in 58:8; 60:1-3.
Rest, as long as God grants me life, or till I behold the Savior; or Cyrus, the pre-figurer of Christ. True preachers will not be silent on account of any threats but will labor for the Church (2 Tim. 2). (Haydock)
62:2 So long as God was silent, Zion was desolate; but now that God is about to speak, “her vindication” (41:14; 54:14, 17) “shines” with the suddenness of the desert “dawn” (60:1). Never did this hope seem closer to fulfillment than on the Feast of Tabernacles, when lights were kindled “at the place of the water-drawing” so bright that “there was not a courtyard in Jerusalem that wasn’t illumined by the light of the place”. He who has not seen Jerusalem in her splendor has never seen a desirable city in his life (Mishnah Sukkah 51). It was as the same Feast of Tabernacles that Jesus spoke (John 7:37-38; 8:12).
“One”. No profane historian mentions what Cyrus did for the Jews; but all the world knows how much Christ has favored his Church. “Name”. Thou shalt be no longer the rebellious Jerusalem, but the spouse and chosen people, the Church of Christ. (St. Ignatius of Antioch, ad Magnesians; Jerome). (Haydock)
62:3 Hand. Chaldean, "before". MT: "by the protection". (Haydock)
62:4 Sinful Israel is restored to when she was long ago the virgin spouse of God.
“Forsaken”. Yet the synagogue was again rejected, at the death of Christ. The promises naturally relate to his Church. (Haydock)
62:5 Dwell. Hebrew, "marry". They’ll be attached to their country. “Thee”. He shall love thee as a bridegroom does one whom he has lately married. Christ never abandons his virgin spouse. Isaiah speaks of some state of the Jews which has not yet taken place. (Houbigant) (Haydock)
62:6 “Watchmen; priests and prophets” (Matthew 2:1 and Ps 133:2) or angels. (St. Jerome; Bernard) The synagogue has been long destitute of guides, but the Church has an uninterrupted succession of watchful pastors. Mindful whose duty it is to remind him of his promises, and to recite the Church office. MT: “mazcirim”. Monitors, 2 Kings 8:16. In these faithful watchman the Church is always visible. (Haydock)
62:7 Refers to the Incarnation, when the Son of God takes on human flesh, becoming like us (Ex 15:11; Ps 85:8; Jer. 10:6, 7).
62:8 “food for your enemies”. The curse (Lev 26:16; Deut. 28:33) will be replaced by blessing.
“Hand”; inviolably (Deut. 32:40). The Persians deemed this oath most sacred. Darius, just expiring, said to Polycrates, "By thee I give this right hand to Alexander" (Plutarch) that he may revenge my death. “Wine”. The Church cannot be deprived of her faith or of her God. (Haydock)
“mighty arm”. The curses for disobedience are to be removed (Deut. 18:15-68) and perpetual peace will be ensured.
62:9 “grain and wine” are the fruits of righteousness given to the faithful both righteous Jews and foreigners – in the Eucharist.
“you who harvest the grain”. They will celebrate a perpetual Feast of Tabernacles (Deut. 16:13-15).
62:6-9 Watchmen on the walls are no longer with the role to sound the alarm for invaders approaching but rather to “remind the Lord” of his merciful promises. They must be men of prayer and zeal standing between the people and God, fully aware of both.
62:10 “People”. They may return to Judea and be converted to Christ. (Haydock)
62:11 he Lord hath sworn by his right hand. Here the Lord promises to fulfill the petition. And first, as to driving back their enemies: if, supply: you do not trust in me, I will give thy corn to be meat for thy enemies: he that tilleth his ground (Prov 28:19), and eats not the fruit from it. Second, as to the liberation of captives, as to the preparation of the way: go through, you messengers of Cyrus and Darius; pick out the stones, impediments: take the stones out of the way (Jer 50:26); or you, watchmen of the walls: preachers. As to the granting of joy: lift up the standard, the decree of Cyrus that all the captives could return, or the standard, of the cross, above: he shall set up a standard unto the nations (11:12). And as to the retribution of justice: tell the daughter of Zion, the people of the Jews, behold thy Savior, God, or Cyrus; behold his reward is with him, that he might repay good things to you and evil things to your enemies. Mystically, this refers to the coming of Christ to judge, above (40:9–10) has the same thing. Third, where it says, and they shall call them, he sets out the honor of the liberated people, who had a great reputation of holiness, because of the benefits given to them, above: after this thou shalt be called the city of the just, a faithful city (1:26). Mystically, this refers to the Church and the Christian people. (Aquinas)
62:12 Work the redemption of mankind. Though Cyrus was a figure of Christ, he was as much beneath him as earth is below heaven, Zach. 9:9. (Haydock)
62:10-12 The “standard for the Gentiles” is the Cross, the “Savior” is Christ, and the “redeemed of the Lord” are the Church.
63:1-6 The Divine Solitary Conqueror – Next poem here is impressive. The conqueror tramples the enemy and scatters their blood. Unlike Ch. 59, this poem identifies the enemy of God as Edom. The Nabateans were beginning to push the Edomites out of their land so this helps explain why Edom took advantage of the fall of Jerusalem in 587 to raid and loot Judah and to occupy the Negeb district (Ez. 25:12-14). Judah’s attitude then turned from hostility to intense hatred like that of Micah 1:2-5. Divine Judgment would be laid out upon Edom from the 6th to 4th Ce. BC. By 320 BC, Edom had lost all its land. The purpose Edom though is theological: Edom represents every enemy of God’s people and God eventually destroys evil, after using it to purify and strengthen the elect. The Fathers often applied these lines to Jesus in His bloody death on the cross, but Isaiah speaks here of the wicked man’s blood on the garments of the divine conqueror.
63:1 “Edom”. This nation represents the ungodly and proud nations. Evil.
A watchman or prophet (62:6) sees someone approaching from Bozrah, major city of Edom (Rev 1:12; Jer. 49:13). As he comes closer, he manifests the majestic bearings of a victorious conqueror (Rev 19:13). In answer, the divine “I” rings out – God, announcing “vindication”.
“Edom”. Edom and Bosra (a strong city of Edom) are here taken in a mystical sense for the enemies of Christ and his Church. St. Jerome with reason finds it difficult to explain it of Christ as it regards the Maccabees. The first six verses are applied to our Savior's ascension which excites the admiration of angels, Ps. 23:7. Judas Maccabee, a glorious figure of Christ is introduced speaking in this and the following chapter. He conquered Idumea (1 Maccabees v.3 and 2 Maccabees 10:10) and fought to save the people (1 Maccabees 9:21. The highest order of angels asks this question, admiring the beauty of Christ, though imbrued in blood after his victory. (St. Dionysius, Hierarch. 7)
63:2 Christ is clothed in the flesh of His humanity and stained with the blood of His passion. Having been crushed by His enemies in His death, He in turn has crushed them under His feet.
“red” Edom has the same consonants as the color red.
63:3 In the supreme cosmic struggle with evil surpassing human endurance, God is the source of all power and the conqueror over it.
Press. Christ suffered, (St. Cyril) and punished his enemies (Rev. 14:19). Judas received God's sword from Jeremiah (2 Maccabees 15:15) and liberated his people. (Haydock)
63:4 Isaiah contrasts the Day of the Lord a terrifying event (Amos 5:18; Zeph. 1:15-18; Isaiah 2:12-17) with the happy scene of the jubilee year (49:8; 61:2; Lev 25:10). God’s people can never enjoy undisturbed peace unless the enemy is completely broken and removed.
63:5 “Me”. I depended on the goodness of my cause, and on God's aid (59:15). (Haydock).
63:6 “Drunk with the wine of my fury” Ps. 74:9 and Ezekiel 23:31. (Haydock)
63:7 The opening verse begins and concludes with the Hebrew word hesed which is explainable as a dutiful love springing from a blood bond. God has performed many redemptive acts which Isaiah poetically as this is a psalm recalls.
I, Isaias; or rather the hero mentions what induced him to rise up, 1 Maccabees 16:10. The Jews confess God's mercies. (St. Jerome)
63:8 “children who will not deal falsely”. These are faithful children of God (Ex. 4:22; Deut. 14:1), unlike the rebellious children described in 1:2-4.
Deny, or prove degenerate. God approves the conduct of the Maccabees. (Haydock)
63:9 “afflictions”. Israel’s sufferings in Egypt (Ex 2:23-25).
“Presence, in high authority” (Ex. 33:20). The angel - guardian of the Church. Particular guardians also see God's face (Mt. 28). (Haydock)
“angel of his presence”. See Ex. 14:19; 23:20-23.
63:10 “grieved his Holy Spirit”. Rebellion against God’s word brought the patience of God’s spirit to an end (cf. Ps 106:33; Acts 7:51; Eph 4:30). Divine patience is long suffering, but it will not restrain God’s judgment forever.
“One”; Moses, Numbers 14:29 and 20:3, 12.
63:11 “days of old”. That is, the period of the Exodus and wilderness wanderings.
Flock. Ps. 76:21. One. Moses inspired by God.
“shepherds of his flock”. Moses was this shepherd. Jesus is our Shepherd (Heb. 3:1-6; 13:20).
Hab. 13:20 applies this text to Christ’s resurrection the only complete and satisfying answer to the question of sorrow and death.
63:12-14 Moses prefigured Christ, for just as Moses was raised up to lead the people through the Red Sea, Christ passed through death and was raised up into life, that He might lead all His people from death to life.
63:12 (Cf. 51:5, 9).
63:13 Not, the road was so plain (Wisdom 19:7). (Haydock)
63:14 Where is he that brought them up? Here he laments the same benefits taken away from them. And first, he laments the lack of benefits: where is he that brought them up out of the sea?, Moses, or God; with the shepherds, Miriam and Aaron: she led them out in the hands of the holy prophet (Wis 11:1). Where is he that put in the midst of them the spirit of his Holy One?, Moses, which is found in Numbers 11. By the right hand, prosperously; where is the spirit that divided the waters before them? Who divided the Red Sea into parts (Ps 135:13). And where is he that led them out as a horse that stumbleth not, namely, without hindrance. As a beast that goeth down, with an unhindered course; the spirit of the Lord was their, the people’s, leader: and in the Red Sea a way without hindrance (Wis 19:7); they shall walk confidently (Prov 3:23); where are his miracles? (Judg 6:13) (Aquinas)
63:15 Isaiah begins his prayer for God to remember the inheritance (v. 17) promised to His people long ago with the word “return”, which is echoed in the final words of Revelation: Even so, come Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20). Such trials convince a man that God alone saves; even Jesus’ sacred humanity did so by experiencing this agony and abandonment (Mk 15:34-35; Heb 5:7-9).
“Back”. This is spoken by the prophet in the person of the Jews, at the time when for their sins they were given up to their enemies. Judas uses the same language at Maspha, 1 Maccabees 3:50.
63:16 “our Father”. God’s always been the Father of His people (64:8; Ex 4:22,23; Jer 3:4, 19); they’re His children by adoption (Deut. 32:6, Rom. 8:15).
“Our Father”: God is so named not as begetting them of Himself, but as caring for them and shielding them. But whereas God, as we have said, is in an improper sense the Father of men, of Christ alone He is the Father by nature, not by adoption: and the Father of men in time, but of Christ before all time. (Cyril of Alexandria).
“Abraham”. That is, Abraham will not now acknowledge us for his children, by reason of our degeneracy; but thou, O Lord, art our true father and our redeemer, and no other can be called our parent in comparison with thee. Abraham isn’t able to save us. The patriarchs may justly disregard us, as degenerate children; yet we hope in God's mercies. St. Jerome explains the passage, which doesn’t favor the errors of Vigilantius and of Luther who maintain the saints departed don’t know what passes in this world. St. Augustine (Cura. 15) shows the contrary from the example of Lazarus, Lk. 16. They know each other, though they’d not lived together, (St. Gregory, Dial. 4:33) and behold in the light of God what regards their clients. (St. Augustine, City of God 22:29) (Haydock)
63:17 God “hardened” their hearts with His patience. He allowed them to continue in their disobedience. Thus, when the chastisement comes, it will be fully justified.
God does not bestow on some the help for avoiding sin which He bestows on others. This help is not merely the infusion of grace, but also an exterior guardianship, whereby the occasions of sin are providentially removed from a man’s path. God also aids man against sin by the natural light of reason, and other natural goods that He bestows on man. When then He withdraws these aids from some, as their conduct deserves that he should, according to the exigency of His justice, He is said to harden them, or to blind them. (St. Thomas Aquinas On God and His Creature 3:163:4)
63:18 “adversaries”. The Babylonians (Ps. 74:4-8 MT).
Nothing; holding them in the greatest contempt. Epiphanes thought he should make them easily change their religion. His persecution lasted only three years and a half. Sanctuary. 1 Maccabees 1:23, 49, 57 and 3:45. (Haydock)
63:19 “called by your name”. To signify ownership (Deut. 28:10; Jer. 14:9).
Isaiah implores God’s personal intervention and pleads for a theophany more wonderous than Sinai. Mark 1:10 sees the answer to this prayer when the heavens were rent at the baptism of Jesus and the messianic era began.
64:1 With eloquence Isaiah pleads with God to make His presence unmistakably clear, especially in the fires of judgment. Fire symbolizes the wondrous power of God’s presence.
Presence, as at Sinai, Exodus 19:16 and Judges 10:4. Judas continues to pray. The faithful sign for Christ's coming. All good people desired it most fervently. (Haydock)
64:2 “They”. LXX: "As wax melts before the fire, so also fire will burn the adversaries, and thy” “Burn”. Sparks of fire seemed to proceed from it. (Haydock)
64:3 “awesome things”. Allusion to God’s appearance on Mt. Sinai after the Exodus.
“Bear”. Exodus 20:18. MT: "expect". Judas appeared victorious when the nation was prostrate.
64:4 In confession of their guilt, Isaiah admits God hasn’t heaped oppressive sorrow on the sinner but simply abandoned them to their guilt.
Isaiah is speaking of the Incarnation of Christ and of this present life. And hence Chrysostom, Ambrose, Theophylact, Oecumenius take this verse of the miracles of Christ, and of the wisdom, virtues, and grace which Christ by living here on earth has imparted to us. (Cornelius a Lapide Com. on 1 Cor 2:9). (Lapide)
“Thee”. Never was deliverance more unexpected or miraculous. Paul quotes this passage, to show the wisdom manifested in the incarnation, 1 Cor. 2:9. It’s commonly applied to the glory of heaven.
64:5 “polluted rags”. The guilty man feels disgusting (Lev 15:19-24).
“Thee”. The little band of Judas was sincerely attached to the Lord, 2 Maccabees 1:3. “Sinned”. This excited thy anger. Yet thou wilt show mercy. Sin is often put for punishment.
64:6 Unclean: leper. (Grotius) (Leviticus 8:45) Justices. That is, the works by which we pretended to make ourselves just. This is spoken particularly of the sacrifices, sacraments, and ceremonies of the Jews, after the death of Christ, and the promulgation of the new law. (Challoner) The justice which is under the law is stated uncleanness, when compared with evangelical purity, Philippians 3:8. "If any one after the gospel. Would observe the ceremonies of the law, let him hear the people confessing that all that justice is compared to a most filthy rag”. (St. Jerome) The good works which are done by grace, and not by man alone, cannot be said to be of this description. They constitute the internal glory of man, and God will one day crown these his gifts. Of ourselves indeed we can do nothing, and the works of the Mosaic Law will not avail, as St. Paul inculcates; but those works, point out the saint, which are performed by charity with faith in Christ. This justice is not imputed only, but real; and shows where true faith exists, according to St. James. Thus the apostles explain each other.
“Woman”. LXX: "of one sitting down" like Rachel, Genesis 31:35. Symmachus, "lying-in. "Aquila,
"of proofs". Grotius, "like a plaster on a sore, which is thrown away. "Such were Alcimus. To practice the Jewish rites would now be sinful. (Haydock)
That is, the works by which we pretended to make ourselves just. This is spoken particularly of the sacrifices, sacraments, and ceremonies of the Jews, after the death of Christ, and the promulgation of the new law. (Challoner)
64:7 Of thee; to remove thy indignation, like Moses, Jeremiah (7:15). See Ezekiel 13:5.
64:4-8 The people violate the Law deliberately and continually, and therefore deserve God’s anger (v. 5); yet because of the intercession of even one, God declares that He will not destroy them all (v. 8).
64:10 Desolate, under Antiochus Epiphanes, 1 Maccabees 1:31 and 4:38. (Haydock)
64:11 “our fathers”. The speakers are at least a generation removed from the fall of the temple in 586 BC.
64:7-11 This closing appeal is born of a stubborn faith that God is a father and able to help (Ps 22:5-6; 44:2-9).
Isaiah 65 touches on the Final Judgment. Offensive practices of idolatry are bluntly laid bare. Toward the end of Isaiah 66 we see the distinction between Jew and Gentile disappear. God only sees the saved and the damned.
65:1 “a nation that was not called by my name”. That is Gentiles (42:1; 49:6). Paul quotes this prophecy in Rom. 10:20. God’s salvation doesn’t conform to human expectations; it originates in His free decision.
Me. God answers the preceding prayer, and announces the rejection of the synagogue, alluding to the armies which prevailed in the days of the Maccabees. Not. St. Paul explains this of the conversion of the Gentiles, Romans 10:20. (Calmet) It cannot regard the Jews, who are spoken of in the next verse. (Worthington) (Haydock)
65:2 “spread out my hands”. God stands in a gesture not of supplication but of welcome. This final appeal immediately evokes a terrible scene of judgment.
65:3 “sacrifices in the groves”. The phrase recalls the Canaanite nature cults that contaminated pre-exile Israel (Amos 2:7-8; Hosea 2:4; Jer. 2:8-3:5). Every sin can be counted as an act of adultery against God because of God’s excessive love (57:3).
Gardens, to the impure Venus and Adonis. Bricks, to the Manes. (Calmet) Tegula porrectis satis est velata coronis Et sparsæ fruges parvaque mica salis. (Ovid, Fast. 10) (Haydock)
“burning incense” Cf. Jer. 1:16; 7:9.
65:4 “eating swine’s flesh”. Condemned by Deut. 14:8, this practice featured in Canaanite worship at Ugarit.
Idols: to have dreams, (Strabo 16) and commit impurities. Broth of swine's flesh, which was prohibited, Lev. 11:7 (Haydock)
65:5 The people wanted to be left alone in their practices.
Unclean. Thus acted the hypocritical Pharisees. Smoke. A just punishment of those who had sought the smoke of human applause (Haydock)
65:6 God can’t remain quiet, lest mercy be confused with weakness and the definitive triumph of good be delayed forever.
Bosom: good measure, Luke 6:38. Rewards and punishments will be eternal. (Haydock)
65:7 Hills. Some offered sacrifices to God, others to idols; both unlawfully. (Calmet) (Haydock)
65:8-10 Isaiah returns to the remnant theme. A few will survive the sad ordeal of being crushed like grapes. The full extent of the promised land will revert back to God’s people, from the Valley of Achor (Joshua 7:24; Hosea 2:17) in the South East corner where Joshua began his conquest, to the Plain of Sharon on the Northwest coast beneath Mt. Carmel (Isa 35:2).
65:8 Whole. The good grain is preserved amid the general corruption. A few of the Jews were chosen to believe in Christ (Haydock)
65:9 “Mountains of Judea” (Deut. 3:25) which the captives shall recover, as a figure of those who shall embrace the Christian faith. (Haydock)
65:10 Plains. Hebrew Sharon, in the land of Basan. Achor, near Jericho, called after Achan, who perhaps was more correctly styled Achor, Josue 7:26, and Osee 2:15 (Haydock)
65:11 “Fortune…Destiny”. Syrian gods.
Fortune. Hebrew, "Gad "the sun, Genesis 30:11. Upon it. Symmachus, "without me”. LXX: "to fortune”. MT: "to Meni "the moon, or Queen of heaven, Jeremiah 7:18 and 44:17. (Calmet) (Haydock)
65:11-16 Very emphatically, Isaiah calls out “You” who have committed all these crimes and worship “Fortune and Destiny” or “Gad and Fortune”.
65:12 God replies to the charge of his remaining silent.
Chosen. Free-will is clearly expressed, as rewards are, ver. 13. (Worthington) (Haydock)
65:13 Each line begins with “Behold my servant” who receives the gifts of the beatitudes (cf. Luke 6:20-26).
Servants; Christians, (Calmet) particularly the elect. (Haydock) When the Romans approached Jerusalem, the Christians retired to Pella, and had plenty. (Houbigant) (Haydock)
65:15 The apostate becomes a curse symbol (Jer. 29:22).
Servants; Christians, (Calmet) particularly the elect. (Haydock) When the Romans approached Jerusalem, the Christians retired to Pella, and had plenty. (Houbigant) (Haydock)
65:16 Amen, or "of truth. "False gods shall be neglected. They shall not swear by them, as formerly, Sophonias i. 5. Christ usually adopted the asseveration, Amen, Amen, to enforce his truths. (Haydock)
65:17 “new heavens and a new earth”. This prophecy awaits the 2nd Coming of Christ (2 Peter 3:13; Rev 21:1). In the meantime through faith the saints experience in part the blessing of the age to come (42:9; 43:19).
New earth, in eternity, (Clarius) or here indeed, (2 Peter 3:3; Houbigant) having purified the former by the general conflagration, which many assert will take place at the end of 6,000 years. (St. Jerome; St. Augustine) At the return of the captives, the country flourished again under the Maccabees; (ver. 18; Grotius) or rather the gospel changes the face of the earth, 66:22. (Calmet) (Forerius). After the resurrection the qualities, and not the substance, of the world, will be changed. (Worthington) (Haydock)
65:18 “create Jerusalem”. It will be altogether new with no remembrance of the old (Rev 21:8).
65:20 “infant…old man”. Premature death of infants or persons in mid-career can provoke the thought that life is meaningless. Such early death, as also the transfer of one person’s reward to another person who didn’t earn it (v.22), is part of God’s judgment on sin. God promises to remove this curse from His people (Amos 5:11).
Fill up. To die soon was deemed a misfortune, Ps. 54:24, and Exodus 20:12. Virtue is the measure of the Christian's life, and God will reward those who labor even late, Matthew xx. 13. Accursed. This age will not be spared. Both just and wicked shall be immortal in eternity. (Theodoret) (Haydock)
65:21 We glimpse a picture of idyllic peace but it’s not to be accredited to human ingenuity nor proportioned to human merit. It is God who has brought about this.
65:22 The LXX and Targum both read “according to the days of the tree of life”, clearly referring to the days of paradise (Gen 2:9; Rev 22:2, 14).
A tree. LXX: "of the tree of life" Jeremiah 28:8. (Calmet) Continuance. MT: "My elect shall long enjoy the works" (Haydock). They shall not build for others to enjoy. (Haydock)
65:23 In. MT: "for trouble". Chaldean, "death". LXX: "malediction” The children shall not be cut off; and baptism shall secure their salvation. (Haydock)
65:24 God’s anticipation of every wish, even before man speaks, shows that such happiness is his creation.
65:25 “dust shall be the serpent’s food”. This alludes to Gen. 3:14. The curse on Satan is carried out. Cf. Isaiah 11:6-9. Unlike Chapter 11 however, the Davidic messiah is passed over in silence.
Straw. People of the most perverse tempers shall become mild by the influence of the gospel, and shall dwell together in perfect concord. (Calmet) Food, according to the sentence, Genesis 3:14. (Menochius) The devil's power is abridged, chap. 11:6. (Calmet) The proudest Gentiles are converted, and adopt the mild manners of Christians, in fasting and mortification. (Worthington) (Haydock)
65:17-25 This prophecy is partially fulfilled in this age, where those who have been united to Christ are a “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17); but it will be fulfilled completely in the age to come, when Christ comes again with a “new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1-4). A panorama of joy with the whole universe sharing man’s redemption, now extends before us. Three times bara (to create) occurs; very plainly the achievement is God’s, and he and Israel are united in common joy. The world will not be destroyed but transformed into “a new heavens and a new earth”, a phrase familiar in apocrphyal language (2 Esdras 6:16; 7:30; 2 Baruch 32:16; 1 Enoch 91:16; 2 Cor 5:17; 2 Peter 3:10-13; Rev 21:1).
66:1-16 The mood and vocabulary continue in this new section. The same eschatological war is being fought, but now it becomes clearer that the sides don’t divide between Jew and Gentile but between the good and the evil, the elect and the damned. The Church of apostolic days, living in the final age of the world and inaugurated by Christ’s death and resurrection, frequently quoted this chapter to settle internal quarrels with Judaizing groups and to argue against those Jews who rejected Christianity.
66:1 House. This is a prophecy that the temple should be cast off. (Challoner) Isaias alludes to the return of the captives, as to a figure of the Church. They had flattered themselves with the idea of building a magnificent temple. God regards it not, as long as they follow their own wills and cherish pride. (Calmet) He is pleased with the piety of his servants, which may be exhibited any where, though the temple is the most proper place. See Acts 7 and 14. After the gospel, the sacrifices of the law became unlawful. (Worthington) (Haydock)
66:3-6 These verses shout the fiercest condemnation of formalism in temple worship in the entire Bible. God condemns the formalist attitude that temple liturgy (slaughtering an ox) can blind him to moral faults (killing a man). The language is ripe obviously with symbolism and draws on pre-exilic conditions that were present then.
66:3 “kills a man”. This may be an allusion to child sacrifice.
He. LXX: "the wicked who" (Haydock) “Ox”. This is a prophecy, that the sacrifices which were offered in the old law, should be abolished in the new; and that the offering of them should be a crime. (Challoner) Without the proper dispositions, sacrifice only displeases God. (Calmet) Brain, or slay. (Haydock) Incense. To offer it in the way of a sacrifice; (Challoner) or to remind God of his people. The expression is popular, but energetic, Leviticus 2:2, 9, and 6:15. Ways, to please themselves, and to bind me. But I will not have a divided heart, 1:11 and 58:3. (Calmet) (Haydock)
66:4 Mockeries. I will turn their mockeries upon themselves; and will cause them to be mocked by their enemies. (Challoner) (Haydock)
66:5 “who hate you”. The opposition reflected in Ch. 65 between God’s servants and nominal Israel has intensified.
Brethren, the Idumeans, or the Jews, who would not believe in Christ. (Haydock)
66:6 “a sound”. God proclaims the Messianic era (Ps 28; Is 40:3; Joel 4:16).
Lord, who is about to quit the temple, and to abandon the Jews to their internal dissensions, and to the arms of the Romans. Many prodigies announced this judgment. (Calmet) (Haydock). The Destruction of Jerusalem is used in this verse. It is obviously not the 2nd Coming despite full preterist objections since the NT teaches a physical and literal parousia and resurrection of the dead to come.
66:7 “Before…birth”. The birth of the new community will be sudden, and no human effort will contribute to it. Christ laid the foundation of the church in His lifetime, especially in the week of his death and resurrection (John 2:19).
Before This relates to the conversion of the Gentiles, who were born as it were all on a sudden to the Church of God. (Challoner) Sion furnished the first preachers of the Gospel. (Haydock)
This prophecy 66:7 is fulfilled first in the Virgin Mary and also in the Church.
66:8 The Church will indeed be born “in one day”, at Pentacost, and she will in turn “give birth to a nation”, whereas the old covenant of the law will be “sterile”.
Day. Shall a whole nation be born at once? 12 fishermen effect the most surprising change in the manners of the world. (Haydock)
66:9 The purposes of God will not be frustrated or begun only to be left unfinished.
66:7-9 These lines announce the birth of the messianic people, continuing a long biblical tradition (Micah 4:8-10; 5:1-2; Zeph 3:14-20; Isaiah 7:14; 54:1; 62:4) and in turn will influence other future writers (2 Esdras 9-10 example). God is always the source of life, most especially in the messianic age.
God. His grace converts the nations. (Calmet) (Haydock)
66:10-14 All God’s children nurse at the breast of Jerusalem – an image that beautifully portrays universal peace, contentment, and love. The image changes and God takes the place of Jerusalem – fondling, conforting, and nursing his children (cf. 1 Peter 2:2 and the early baptismal liturgy).
66:10 For her. Ye shall be comforted, when the captives return, and the gospel is propagated. (Haydock)
66:12 “her” refers to Jerusalem.
You. St. Paul fed the weak with milk, 1 Cor. 3:2, Hebrews 5:12 and 1 Peter 2:2.
66:14 Herb, in baptism and the resurrection. Enemies, the Chaldeans, infidel Jews, and all the reprobate, ver. 15. How many miracles were wrought by Christian preachers! Persecutors have come to an untimely end. (Calmet) Before judgment, the world shall be consumed. (Worthington) (Haydock)
66:15 “fire…whirlwind”. These depict lightning and storm clouds respectively (Deut. 33:26; Ps. 18:10 MT; Jer. 4:13), common accompaniments of God’s appearance (10:17, 18; 29:6; Ezek. 32:6-8). Isaiah prayed for God to come in this way to bring judgment (64:1-3).
66:16 “sword”. The Lord appears as a world (27:1; 34:5; Rev 19:11-18).
Many. Few are chosen. All the wicked shall perish eternally. (Menochius) (Haydock)
66:15-16 The 2nd Coming is depicted and the Last Judgment. The poem ends with booming thunder and crackling fire, constant biblical symbols of divine victory, with many parallels to other ancient Near Eastern literature. The symbols continue in the NT.
66:17 Within the court, or gardens, where they purified themselves, foolishly supposing that this would remove their crimes, as the pagans did. (St. Jerome) (Tertullian, Bapt. 5) Instead of gate, St. Jerome wrote unam, "one” moon or Hecate, which is obviously derived from MT, 57:8, and 65:11. Chaldean, Syriac, "gardens, one after another with those who eat" Mouse, or "field-rat" all declared unclean; (Lev. 11:7, 29.; Calmet) or, "the dor-mouse" (St. Jerome) which was looked upon as a delicacy by the Romans. (Varro 3, 15; Pliny 36:1) (Haydock)
66:18 “all nations and tongues”. There will be universal acknowledgement of the Lord’s Kingdom (Zech 8:23; Rev 7:9, 10).
Gather them, thoughts All is personified in poetry. The Gentiles shall witness my judgments. (Calmet) (Haydock)
“glory”. This is God’s glory in His temple (Ezek. 11:22, 23; 44:4).
66:19 “declare…nations”. The Gentiles will submit themselves to the Lord and rejoice in His mighty acts.
The cross is the sign of salvation which the apostles “shall declare…among the Gentiles” (Mt 8:19).
Sign; the cross, which Christ left to enlighten us, (Ezekiel 9; St. Jerome; Worthington) or the gospel, with the power of working miracles. Some Jews shall be saved, and shall preach to others, as God's servants. Sea. Hebrew, "Tharsis, to Phul in Thebais, Lud, (Ethiopians; Bo chart) who were expert archers". LXX: "Mosoch". Italy. MT: "Thubal” denoting Italy, Spain, Iberia Greece. MT:"Javan" who peopled Ionia and the Archipelago. Islands, near Asia, (Calmet) and all distant places. (Parkhurst, p. 4.) Men of all nations shall be converted, and brought by angels to the Church. (St. Jerome) (Worthington) (Haydock)
66:20 “all your brothers”. The Gentiles will bring dispersed Israel back to the temple (43:5; 60:4, 9; Rom. 11:11-14). Worship, sacrifices with psalms, will be open to both Gentiles and Jews and Christ will choose priests to serve His Church from the Gentile believers.
Brethren, as the converts may justly be styled. (Calmet) Coaches, (carrucis) Hebrew circa Roth, (Haydock) "dromedaries" (Bo chart) "with songs of praise" (Chaldean) The precise import is unknown. Truth shall show its sweet force. Offering; the first-fruits, brought by all with great solemnity, Deuteronomy 26:4 and 2 Thessalonians 2:12. (Calmet) (Haydock)
66:21 Of them, Gentiles; (ver. 19.) some of whom alone will be properly priests, though all enjoy the title in a figurative sense, 1 Peter 2:9. The Jews strive in vain to elude this text. (Calmet) Under the law, one family alone enjoyed this honor: but Christ chooses the most deserving pastors. (Worthington) (Haydock)
66:22 Name. The faith and morals of Christianity shall subsist forever, like the gospel, which is termed the new heavens, 65:17 and Matthew 16:18. (Haydock)
66:23 “new moon…Sabbath”. There will be universal worship of God at His appointed time (cf. Zech. 14:16).
Sabbath. Grotius explains this of the Gentiles, who should come to Jerusalem. But this was never realized before the propagation of the gospel. The Jews came thrice a-year. Christians shall attend the sacred mysteries every week, Exodus 13:14 and Malachi 1:11. (Haydock)
66:24 Men; rebellious Jews and persecutors, who perish miserably. Flesh. Josephus (Jewish Wars 11:16) describes the horrors of the last siege of Jerusalem. The prophet may allude to the fires kept up in the vale of Hinnon; (30:33) and our Savior applies this text to the damned, Mark 9:43. All shall condemn them. (Calmet) (Haydock)
66:17-24 All hypocrisy, idolatry, and mockery of God will be destroyed together, and those who refuse repentance will be made to see the truth in the light of God’s glory. These are the “dead bodies” who will never escape the fire of God’s chastisement. The opening verses here are snagged with some textual issues but this is a section of prose and it sees the glory of the Lord appearing before all nations like in Ezra. The “sign” mentioned may be the Jewish Diaspora, spread through the world and always protected by God. We glimpse a triumphal procession converging upon Jerusalem from all directions. Many believe (v.21) is foreseeing Gentiles functioning as priests (60:10; 61:5). I would agree it does do so because Jew and Gentile are one in Christ and can all be priests therefore.
66:22-24 “the new heavens and the new earth”. The joy (2 Peter 3:13; Rev 21:1) will be accepted by God as a perpetual act of worship (Gen 2:1-3; 2 Cor 5:1-10). The final verse is terrifying. “They” (all mankind) “shall go out” of Jerusalem to the surrounding Hinnom Valley (Gehenna) where human sacrifice was once practiced (Jer. 7:31) and which eventually became the city’s refuse heap. This proximity of the greatest sorrow and the greatest horror is typical of the eschatological battle, which even as announced by Christ at the end of his ministry (Mt 25:31-46). Many texts are inspired by these lines (Judith 16:17; Daniel 12:2; Mark 9:48).
Thomas Aquinas - They have sought me. Here the judge, namely, God, gives the sentence of the separation of the wicked from the good, in the reception of the promised salvation. And this is divided into two parts: in the first, he pronounces the sentence of separation; in the second, he determines the manner of execution: thus saith the Lord (ch. 66). Concerning the first, he does two things.
First he promises a response, showing the opportunity of responding: they have sought me that before asked not for me, as if to say: thus far, you Jews have not sought after me, but idols; because you ask, I will respond.
Mystically, this concerns the conversion of the gentiles: I was found by them that did not seek me (Rom 10:20). And he sets out the promise: I said: behold me, behold me, to a nation, I will respond, namely, to the Jews, or I will be turned to the converted gentiles, I to my beloved, and my beloved to me (Song 6:2). Second, he sentences separation: I have spread forth my hands. And first he sentences the separation of the wicked from the good, because of sins of transgression; second, because of sins of omission: and you, that have forsaken (65:11). The first of these is divided into two: in the first, he threatens punishment for the wicked; in the second, he promises rewards for the good: thus saith the Lord (65:8).
Concerning the first, he does two things: first, he denounces their fault of transgression; second, he threatens punishment: these shall be smoke (65:5). He denounces their fault from three things. First from their ungratefulness for his benefits: I have spread forth my hands, giving many benefits, all the day, the whole time since I took them to myself; mystically, I have spread forth my hands, on the cross: every one walketh (Jer 16:12) in a way that is not good.
Second, from the continuity of their sinning: a people that continually provoke me to anger before my face, for all things are naked and open to his eyes (Heb 4:13), or because they placed idols in the temple: they have provoked me with that which was no god (Deut 32:21). Third, from the variety or seriousness of their sins, as to four things. First as to the worship of idols: that immolate, to idols, in gardens, for they worshiped idols in places of pleasure, upon bricks, upon altars constructed from bricks, so that they could sustain the fire of sacrifice, above: they shall be confounded for their idols (1:29). Second, as to their enthusiasm for divinations: that dwell in sepulchers, that they might have answers from the dead; in the temples (delubris), temples of idols so called from diluendo (“washing”), for they thought all things were washed away there; or because of the fonts, which were there for washing the victims and priests; and sleep, upon the hides of the victims for the purpose of divination: your temples shall be destroyed (Ezek 6:6). Third, as to the uncleanness of their food: that eat swine’s flesh, and profane broth, from pork, below: they that did eat swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse (66:17). Fourth, as to their contempt for the just: that say, namely, to those who do not adore idols: he is grievous unto us (Wis 2:15); or that say, to God: who say to God: depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways (Job 21:14). These shall be smoke. Here he threatens punishment. And first, the length of the punishment: smoke, that is, like smoke is consumed by fire, so shall they shall be burned by my anger: a fire is kindled in my wrath, and shall burn even to the lowest hell (Deut 32:22). Second, the certainty of punishment: behold it is written, for their sin is firmly in memory, and their punishment in preordination; I will not be silent, overlooking their sins: the sin of Judah is written (Jer 17:1), above: I have held my peace, always I have kept silence (42:14). Third, the multitude of the punishments, because they are for all the sins of their fathers: but I will render: I am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children (Exod 20:5).
Who have reproached me, by adoring idols in the high places; and also for the sins of their youth: and I will measure back their first work, as if to say, I will make the punishment commensurate to the fault, above: she hath received of the hand of the Lord double (40:2). Thus saith the Lord. Here he promises rewards to the good. And first, as to their preservation from evils: as if a grain, of a grape; it is a blessing, that is, it pleases God for it to be reserved for a blessing; for the sake of my servants, your fathers; that I may not destroy the whole, people of the Jews, above: it shall be as when one gathereth (17:5) clusters in the vintage. Second, as to their advancement in good things. And first as to the multiplication of their seed: and I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, above: except the Lord of hosts had left us seed, we had been as Sodom (1:9). Second, as to the restoration of the inheritance of their fathers: and my elect shall inherit it: they shall possess thee for their inheritance: and thou shalt be their inheritance (Ezek 36:12). Third, as to the fertility of their pastures: and the plains, and the valley of Achor, so called, because they stoned Achan there (Josh 7:24–26); I will give them the valley of Achor for an opening of hope (Hos 2:15). And you, that have forsaken. Here he separates the wicked from the consolation of the good, because of their sins of omission. And first, he threatens punishment for the wicked; second, he promises rewards for the good: because the former distresses are forgotten (65:16).
Concerning the first, he does two things. First, he threatens them because they have abandoned God, and he sets out their fault: and you, Jews; that set for fortune, a god of the Egyptians, a table: he touches upon a ritual in which this god was worshipped, for, at the end of the year, a table was prepared for him, crammed with every food: they forsook God who made them, and departed from God their savior (Deut 32:15). And he sets out the punishment: I will number you in the sword, as if to say: so that none remain who will not be crushed: they shall fall by the sword, and by the famine (Jer 44:12). Second, because they did not obey when they were called back, and he sets out the fault: because I called and you did not answer: I called, and you refused (Prov 1:24). And he threatens the punishment of separation. First in satisfaction of the body: therefore thus saith the Lord God: behold my servants shall eat, and you shall be hungry: the rich have wanted, and have suffered hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not be deprived of any good (Ps 33:11[34:10]). Second, in joy of heart: behold my servants shall rejoice, and you shall be confounded: repenting, and groaning for anguish of spirit (Wis 5:3). Third, in difference of name, and first he sets out the sort of name the impious shall have: and you shall leave your name for an oath to my elect, that they might confirm their words thus: if it is not so, so shall it happen to me as happened to them: by the sword, and by the famine shall they die: and they shall be for an oath, and for a wonder, and for a curse, and for a reproach (Jer 44:12). And next he sets out the sort of name the good shall have: and call his servants; in which, namely, in which name, the name is Jesus; amen, faithfully, above: thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name (62:2). Because the former distresses are forgotten. Here he promises rewards seen. And first in general as to the removal of evils: because the former distresses are forgotten, not because of lack of knowledge, but because they have been succeeded by good things, above: thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth (54:4). And as to the restoration of goods: for behold I create new heavens, new help from heaven, and a new earth, new benefits from the earth; or this refers to the day of judgment, when the world will be renewed to the glory of the saints: the former things are passed away (Rev 21:4). Second, in particular: for behold I create Jerusalem. And first as to cheerfulness of heart: Jerusalem, earthly Jerusalem, but more, the heavenly Jerusalem; <a rejoicing, that is,> rejoicing, emphatically, so that all things are absorbed in joy, above: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away (35:10). Second, as to length of life: there shall no more be an infant of days there, nor an old man that shall not fill up his days, dying before his time, but the child shall die a hundred years old, that is, when he will have reached such an age; and, if he be a sinner, although he will have lived to such an age, he shall be subject to a curse: Abraham died in a good old age (Gen 25:8). Mystically, in the heavenly Jerusalem, all will fill up their days, for none will die; the child shall die a hundred years old, that is, he who lived to old age childishly shall die, in eternal death: for venerable old age is not that of long time, nor counted by the number of years (Wis 4:8). Third, as to prosperity of goods, both as to security of their possessions: and they shall build: and they shall build houses (Ezek 28:26); they shall plant vineyards (Amos 9:14); and he assigns the reason: for as the days of a tree, that is, because they will live a long time just as the wood of a tree lasts a long time, the works of their hands shall grow old, that is, they shall remain in their use until old age: he shall be like a tree which is planted near the running waters (Ps 1:3). And as to the peace of their children: nor bring forth in trouble, as though bringing forth children into servitude to their enemies: good things continue with their seed (Sir 44:11). Fourth, as to the hearing of their prayers: and it shall come to pass, that before they call, with their mouth, above: at the voice of thy cry, as soon as he shall hear, he will answer thee (30:19). Fifth, as to the tranquility of peace: the wolf and the lamb, for those who formerly were tyrants and evildoers will abide peacefully with others, above (11:6) has the same.
Thus saith the Lord. Here he determines the manner of execution of the sentence. And first in particular as to the Jews; second, universally, as to all: but I know their works, and their thoughts (66:18).The first is divided into two parts: in the first, he excludes false confidence; second, he sets out and determines the sentence that has been given as to the manner of execution: hear the word of the Lord (66:5). Concerning the first, he does two things. First he excludes false trust in the sanctity of the temple, showing that the temple is not the location of God: both from the greatness of God, who fills all things, whose throne is said to be heaven, because it participates greatly in his goodness, as a seat holds the greater part of the one seated; the earth my footstool, because the earth participates least in his goodness, as the outer part of the seated person reaches to the footstool; or, by heaven, he indicates the saints, by earth, the earthly: if heaven, and the heavens of heavens, cannot contain thee, how much less this house which I have built? (1 Kgs 8:27); do not I fill heaven and earth? (Jer 23:24); God dwelleth not in temples made with hands (Acts 17:24). And from his rest, for each thing rests in the place which is its own; however, God does not rest in anything, but all things rest in him, as they are made by him: and what is this place of my rest?, above: lift up your eyes on high, and see who hath created these things (40:26). And he gives a useful remedy: but to whom shall I have respect, but to him that is poor and little, that is, the humble man, who reckons himself to be little, as to the present, and of a contrite spirit, concerning his past sins, and that trembleth, as to his intention of doing future things: the eyes of the Lord are towards them that fear him (Sir 15:20). Second, he excludes the confidence that they took from their rites of sacrifice. And first he sets out their rejection: he that sacrificeth an ox, is as if he slew a man, as if to say: their sacrifices are so abominable, as if they were doing something against the law, because they were offering them to idols; as if he should bless, praise and venerate, an idol, above: offer sacrifice no more in vain (1:13). Second, he shows the reason for their rejection, first setting out their fault: all these things have they chosen, namely, their sacrifices, walking in their wicked ways: who are glad when they have done evil, and rejoice in the most wicked things (Prov 2:14); second, he threatens punishment: wherefore I also will choose their mockeries: he shall scorn the scorners (Prov 3:34); the fear which I feared, hath come upon me: and that which I was afraid of, hath befallen me (Job 3:25). Third, he denounces the hardness of sinners: because I called: I called, and you refused (Prov 1:24). Hear the word of the Lord. Here he describes the manner of execution of the sentence. .And first as to the rewards of the good; second, as to the punishments of the wicked: and the hand of the Lord shall be known (66:14). The first of these is divided into two. First, he stirs up attention: hear the word of the Lord, you that tremble, from reverence for his words: ye that fear the Lord, believe him (Sir 2:8); second, he describes the promise. And first as to vengeance on the mockers, setting out their mockery: your brethren have said: let the Lord be glorified, as if to say: let the glory of the Lord, which you await, appear, as if to say: he will never appear, above: they shall come with speed swiftly, and there is none that shall faint, nor labor among them (5:26–27); and he foretells their confusion: but they shall be confounded, in this manner, because a voice of the people, fearing, the voice of the Lord, as to the tumult of their enemies: the voice of the day of the Lord is bitter (Zeph 1:14). Second, he describes the promise as to abundance of goods.And first, as to the reuniting of the people, setting out the promise, before she was in labor, she brought forth; that is, the children of Jerusalem will be gathered to her suddenly and at the same time, just as if a woman brought forth a child suddenly, without first being in labor, above: the children are come to the birth (37:3). Mystically, this is interpreted as concerning the labor of the Blessed Virgin, and the labor of the Church in the conversion of the faithful, and the labor of eternal begetting. And he introduces the wondering question: who hath ever heard such a thing?, above: who hath begotten these? (49:21). And he sets out the response in the person of the Lord: shall not I that make others to bring forth children, myself bring forth?, gathering the Jews, or the converted faithful; or the Son, from eternity. Similar to this is Psalm 93:9: he that planted the ear, shall he not hear? or he that formed the eye, doth he not consider? And these arguments hold, if that which belongs to the perfection of creatures is attributed [to God], removing all that which belongs to imperfection. Second, he promises immense comfort to the gathered Jews. And first he invites others to congratulation: rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, as in the object of joy, setting out the condition of congratulation as to affection: all you that love her: eat, O friends, and drink, and be inebriated, my dearly beloved (Song 5:1); as to the sign of affection: all you that mourn for her: blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted (Matt 5:5). And the fruit of congratulation as to participation in her gladness or peace: that you may suck: thy breasts are better than wine (Song 1:1); as to participation in her glory, that you may milk out, as though extracting milk: then shalt thou abound in delights in the Almighty (Job 22:6). Second, he promises an abundant gathering of peace: for thus saith the Lord: behold I will bring upon her, so that an overflowing is called, as a river descending with great force comes and does not overflow; and of glory: and as an overflowing torrent, above: thy peace had been as a river (48:18). Third, he promises full reception of comfort. First, as to the administration of the gentiles: which you shall suck, that is, the glory of the Gentiles, for the kings of the gentiles themselves will comfort and sustain you; thus follows: at the breasts. Mystically: this is said of the Apostles, who delighted in the glory of the gentiles who were swiftly converted, and who carried them as at the breast with caressing admonitions, above: thou shalt suck the milk of the Gentiles (60:16). Second, as to divine protection: as one whom the mother caresseth: you have forgotten the consolation (Heb 12:5). Third, as to the enjoyment of goods, you shall see good things given to you by God; bones, you who in adversity were like dry bones: ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord (Ezek 37:4). Or you shall see the divine essence: the light is sweet, and it is delightful for the eyes to see the sun (Eccl 11:7); and your bones shall flourish like an herb, in the resurrection. And the hand of the Lord shall be known. Here he promises punishment to the wicked. And first he threatens punishment, setting out the indignation of the judge: the hand, afflicting the impious, in his servants; or, the hand, of comfort, in his servants, by its effect, above: there is no indignation in me (27:4). And he sets out the magnitude of the punishment: for behold the Lord will come with fire, by which the city is to be burned, or by which the world is to be purified; and his chariots, the army of the Chaldeans, in which God comes, as it were, or the angels, who will come with him for judgment: a fire shall go before him (Ps 96:3); they shall fall by the sword of God (Amos 9:10). And he sets out the multitude of those who are punished: the slain of the Lord shall be many, above: for there is a victim of the Lord in Bosra and a great slaughter in the land of Edom (34:6). Second, he reproaches their fault: they that were sanctified, thinking to cleanse themselves of uncleanness by the waters, or even by the sacrifices of idols, in the gardens, in which they worshipped idols, or occupied themselves with pleasure; behind one woman, copulating with women in the manner of beasts, or behind the gate, in other manuscripts; the mouse, the dormouse, contrary to the law (Lev 11:29), above: that eat swine’s flesh, and profane broth (65:4). But I. Here he describes the manner of separation as to everyone together. And first he decrees universal judgment: I know their works, and their thoughts, as though judging them for both; I come, in the day of judgment, or the various kingdoms of your enemies destroying also the wicked among you; they shall come, into Jerusalem after your return, either to judgment, or to faith: behold, I will raise them up out of the place wherein you have sold them (Joel 3:7). Second, he sets out the summons to judgment: and I will set a sign, the edict of Cyrus, among them, that is, the Jews who were with Zorobabel and the other leaders; to the Gentiles, to the nations whom the Jews had been dispersed; Lydia them that draw the bow, for they are good archers; my glory, which will appear in your liberation, above: he shall set up a sign unto the nations (11:12). Or he sets the sign of the cross on the apostles, so that they might convert all nations to God, as though prepared for judgment. Third, he sets out the preparation of those to be judged. And first as to the good; as to the wicked: and they shall go out, and see (66:22). The first of these is divided into two parts. First, as to the Jews, he sets out their honorable return: and they shall bring all your brethren out upon horses, by which are signified the reinforcements they reverently received from the gentiles: the Lord will bring them to thee (Bar 5:6); or by which are signified the various conditions of those who are converted to the faith, as the Gloss explains. Second, the exaltation of their return, first as to their worthiness: and I will take of them to be priests, which was literally fulfilled in the Jews, and also in the apostles, above: you shall be called the priests of the Lord: to you it shall be said: ye ministers of our God (61:6); second, as to the preservation of their seed: for as the new heavens, as above, so shall your seed stand (65:17), forever: if these ordinances shall fail before me, saith the Lord: then also the seed of Israel shall fail (Jer 31:36); or the saints will stand eternally renewed as heaven and earth; third, as to the duration of their glory: and there shall be month after month, as if to say, month will follow month and feast will follow feast in your prosperity, above: year is added to year: the solemnities are at an end (29:1). Mystically: the Church after the end, spiritual rest after carnal rest. Second, as to the gentiles, and all flesh shall come, for from the various nations they came to Jerusalem to adore the Lord: all the nations shall come and adore before thee, O Lord (Ps 85:9); or in the day of judgment. And they shall go out. Here he sets out the following judgment as to the wicked. And first the manifestation of the punishment: and they shall go out, coming to Jerusalem, and see, in the ancient sepulchers, and in the fields, the bones of their dead fathers, above: their slain shall be cast forth, and out of their carcasses shall rise a stink (34:3); or the saints will see the damned falling into damnation. Second, he sets out the duration of the punishment: their worm, of conscience, by which they will be tortured even when they are dead, and their fire, of hell: he will give fire, and worms into their flesh (Jdth 16:21). Third, the delight from the punishments, as to those who see it: and they shall be a satisfying sight to all flesh, that is, to the saints: the just shall rejoice when he shall see the revenge (Ps 57:11[58:10]). From which punishments may he liberate us, who grants us to begin and to finish. And thus ends the teaching and literal exposition on Isaiah according to Brother Thomas Aquinas, which Brother Jacob of Asti of the province of Lombardy, then a student in the studium generale of Naples, transcribed into legible script with completed citation of authorities. He also arranged the collations over the readings in particular places; and he did this for the use of the brothers of our Order and so that a copy might be had. Praise, therefore, be to him who grants us to begin and makes us to finish. Amen. (Aquinas)
The fact is Isaiah 65-66 teach an exalted reality to come and this could not have taken place in AD 70. The New Testament does not assist in any way either with Paul’s resurrection of the dead. Isaiah uses poetry and prose from Chapters 56-66 to share with us events to come such as what will happen to Israel because of her apostasy, what will happen with Babylon and the Exile, what will happen with the Jews and Cyrus, the Maccabean Revolt, the Messiah promised to come, and ultimately the resurrection of the dead which is to solve the problem of evil and end all suffering. I pray this study helps all of you come closer to Christ and that it benefits you.
Works Used: Reformation Study Bible, Orthodox Study Bible, Catena, Thomas Aquinas Commentary on Isaiah, Brenton LXX for reading.