Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
The words of Jehovah Himself pass over here into the words of another, whom He has appointed as the Mediator of His gracious counsel. "The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is over me, because Jehovah hath anointed me, to bring glad tidings to sufferers, hath sent me to bind up broken-hearted ones, to proclaim liberty to those led captive, and emancipation to the fettered; to proclaim a year of grace from Jehovah, and a day of vengeance from our God; to comfort all that mourn; to put upon the mourners of Zion, to give them a head-dress for ashes, oil of joy for mourning, a wrapper of renown for an expiring spirit, that they may be called terebinths of righteousness, a planting of Jehovah for glorification." Who is the person speaking here? The Targum introduces the passage with נביּא אמר. Nearly all the modern commentators support this view. Even the closing remarks to Drechsler (iii. 381) express the opinion, that the prophet who exhibited to the church the summit of its glory in chapter 60, an evangelist of the rising from on high, an apocalyptist who sketches the painting which the New Testament apocalyptist is to carry out in detail, is here looking up to Jehovah with a grateful eye, and praising Him with joyful heart for his exalted commission. But this view, when looked at more closely, cannot possibly be sustained. It is open to the following objections: (1.) The prophet never speaks of himself as a prophet at any such length as this; on the contrary, with the exception of the closing words of Isa 57:21, "saith my God," he has always most studiously let his own person fall back into the shade. (2.) Wherever any other than Jehovah is represented as speaking, and as referring to his own calling, or his experience in connection with that calling, as in Isa 49:1., Isa 50:4., it is the very same "servant of Jehovah" of whom and to whom Jehovah speaks in Isa 42:1., Isaiah 52:13-53:12, and therefore not the prophet himself, but He who had been appointed to be the Mediator of a new covenant, the light of the Gentiles, the salvation of Jehovah for the whole world, and who would reach this glorious height, to which He had been called, through self-abasement even to death. (3.) All that the person speaking here says of himself is to be found in the picture of the unequalled "Servant of Jehovah," who is highly exalted above the prophet. He is endowed with the Spirit of Jehovah (Isa 42:1); Jehovah has sent Him, and with Him His Spirit (Isa 48:16); He has a tongue taught of God, to help the exhausted with words (Isa 50:4); He spares and rescues those who are almost despairing and destroyed, the bruised reed and expiring wick (Isa 42:7). "To open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house:" this is what He has chiefly to do for His people, both in word and deed (Isa 42:7; Isa 49:9). (4.) We can hardly expect that, after the prophet has described the Servant of Jehovah, of whom He prophesied, as coming forward to speak with such dramatic directness as in Isa 49:1., Isa 50:4. (and even Isa 48:16), he will now proceed to put himself in the foreground, and ascribe to himself those very same official attributes which he has already set forth as characteristic features in his portrait of the predicted One. For these reasons we have no doubt that we have here the words of the Servant of Jehovah. The glory of Jerusalem is depicted in chapter 60 in the direct words of Jehovah Himself, which are well sustained throughout. And now, just as in Isa 48:16, though still more elaborately, we have by their side the words of His servant, who is the mediator of this glory, and who above all others is the pioneer thereof in his evangelical predictions. Just as Jehovah says of him in Isa 42:1, "I have put my Spirit upon him;" so here he says of himself, "The Spirit of Jehovah is upon me." And when he continues to explain this still further by saying, "because" (יען from ענה, intention, purpose; here equivalent to אשׁר יען) "Jehovah hath anointed me" (mâs 'ōthı̄, more emphatic than meshâchanı̄), notwithstanding the fact that mâshach is used here in the sense of prophetic and not regal anointing (Kg1 19:16), we may find in the choice of this particular word a hint at the fact, that the Servant of Jehovah and the Messiah are one and the same person. So also the account given in Luk 4:16-22 viz. that when Jesus was in the synagogue at Nazareth, after reading the opening words of this address, He closed the book with these words, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears" - cannot be interpreted more simply in any other way, than on the supposition that Jesus here declares Himself to be the predicted and divinely anointed Servant of Jehovah, who brings the gospel of redemption to His people. Moreover, though it is not decisive in favour of our explanation, yet this explanation is favoured by the fact that the speaker not only appears as the herald of the new and great gifts of God, but also as the dispenser of them ("non praeco tantum, sed et dispensator," Vitringa).
The combination of the names of God ('Adonai Yehovâh) is the same as in Isa 50:4-9. On bissēr, εὐαγγελίζειν (-εσθαι). He comes to put a bandage on the hearts' wounds of those who are broken-hearted: ל חבשׁ (חבּשׁ) as in Eze 34:4; Psa 147:3; cf., ל רפא (רפּא); ל הצדיק. דרור קרא is the phrase used in the law for the proclamation of the freedom brought by the year of jubilee, which occurred every fiftieth year after seven sabbatical periods, and was called shenath hadderōr (Eze 46:17); deror from dârar, a verbal stem, denoting the straight, swift flight of a swallow (see at Psa 84:4), and free motion in general, such as that of a flash of lightning, a liberal self-diffusion, like that of a superabundant fulness. Peqach-qōăch is written like two words (see at Isa 2:20). The Targum translates it as if peqach were an imperative: "Come to the light," probably meaning undo the bands. But qōăch is not a Hebrew word; for the qı̄chōth of the Mishna (the loops through which the strings of a purse are drawn, for the purpose of lacing it up) cannot be adduced as a comparison. Parchon, AE, and A, take peqachqōăch as one word (of the form פּתלתּל, שׁחרחר), in the sense of throwing open, viz., the prison. But as pâqach is never used like pâthach (Isa 14:17; Isa 51:14), to signify the opening of a room, but is always applied to the opening of the eyes (Isa 35:5; Isa 42:7, etc.), except in Isa 42:20, where it is used for the opening of the ears, we adhere to the strict usage of the language, if we understand by peqachqōăch the opening up of the eyes (as contrasted with the dense darkness of the prison); and this is how it has been taken even by the lxx, who have rendered it καὶ τυφλοῖς ἀνάβλεψιν, as if the reading had been ולעורים (Psa 146:8). Again, he is sent to promise with a loud proclamation a year of good pleasure (râtsōn: syn. yeshū‛âh) and a day of vengeance, which Jehovah has appointed; a promise which assigns the length of a year for the thorough accomplishment of the work of grace, and only the length of a day for the work of vengeance. The vengeance applies to those who hold the people of God in fetters, and oppress them; the grace to all those whom the infliction of punishment has inwardly humbled, though they have been strongly agitated by its long continuance (Isa 57:15). The 'ăbhēlı̄m, whom the Servant of Jehovah has to comfort, are the "mourners of Zion," those who take to heart the fall of Zion. In Isa 61:3, לשׂוּם ... לתת, he corrects himself, because what he brings is not merely a diadem, to which the word sūm (to set) would apply, but an abundant supply of manifold gifts, to which only a general word like nâthan (to give) is appropriate. Instead of אפר, the ashes of mourning or repentance laid upon the head, he brings פּאר, a diadem to adorn the head (a transposition even so far as the letters are concerned, and therefore the counterpart of אפר; the"oil of joy" (from Psa 45:8; compare also משׁחך there with אתי משׁח here) instead of mourning; "a wrapper (cloak) of renown" instead of a faint and almost extinguished spirit. The oil with which they henceforth anoint themselves is to be joy or gladness, and renown the cloak in which they wrap themselves (a genitive connection, as in Isa 59:17). And whence is all this? The gifts of God, though represented in outward figures, are really spiritual, and take effect within, rejuvenating and sanctifying the inward man; they are the sap and strength, the marrow and impulse of a new life. The church thereby becomes "terebinths of righteousness" (אילי: Targ., Symm., Jer., render this, strong ones, mighty ones; Syr. dechre, rams; but though both of these are possible, so far as the letters are concerned, they are unsuitable here), i.e., possessors of righteousness, produced by God and acceptable with God, having all the firmness and fulness of terebinths, with their strong trunks, their luxuriant verdure, and their perennial foliage - a planting of Jehovah, to the end that He may get glory out of it (a repetition of Isa 60:21).
Even in Isa 61:3 with להם וקרא a perfect was introduced in the place of the infinitives of the object, and affirmed what was to be accomplished through the mediation of the Servant of Jehovah. The second turn in the address, which follows in Isa 61:4-9, continues the use of such perfects, which afterwards pass into futures. But the whole is still governed by the commencement in Isa 61:1. The Servant of Jehovah celebrates the glorious office committed to him, and expounds the substance of the gospel given him to proclaim. It points to the restoration of the promised land, and to the elevation of Israel, after its purification in the furnace of judgment, to great honour and dignity in the midst of the world of nations. "And they will build up wastes of the olden time, raise up desolations of the forefathers, and renew desolate cities, desolations of former generations. And strangers stand and feed your flocks, and foreigners become your ploughmen and vinedressers. But ye will be called priests of Jehovah; Servants of our God, will men say to you: ye will eat the riches of the nations, and pride yourselves in their glory." The desolations and wastes of ‛ōlâm and dōr vâdōr, i.e., of ages remote and near (Isa 58:12), are not confined to what had lain in ruins during the seventy years of the captivity. The land will be so thickly populated, that the former places of abode will not suffice (Isa 49:19-20); so that places must be referred to which are lying waste beyond the present bounds of the promised land (Isa 54:3), and which will be rebuilt, raised up, and renewed by those who return from exile, and indeed by the latest generations (Isa 58:12, מםּ; cf., Isa 60:14). Chōrebh, in the sense of desolation, is a word belonging to the alter period of the language (Zeph., Jer., and Ezek.). The rebuilding naturally suggests the thought of assistance on the part of the heathen (Isa 60:10). But the prophet expresses the fact that they will enter into the service of Israel (Isa 61:5), in a new and different form. They "stand there" (viz., at their posts ready for service, ‛al-mish-martâm, Ch2 7:6), "and feed your flocks" (צאן singularetantum, cf., Gen 30:43), and foreigners are your ploughmen and vinedressers. Israel is now, in the midst of the heathen who have entered into the congregation of Jehovah and become the people of God (ch Isa 19:25), what the Aaronites formerly were in the midst of Israel itself. It stands upon the height of its primary destination to be a kingdom of priests (Exo 19:6). They are called "priests of Jehovah," and the heathen call them "servants of our God;" for even the heathen speak with believing reverence of the God, to whom Israel renders priestly service, as "our God." This reads as if the restored Israelites were to stand in the same relation to the converted heathen as the clergy to the laity; but it is evident, from Isa 66:21, that the prophet has no such hierarchical separation as this in his mind. All that we can safely infer from his prophecy is, that the nationality of Israel will not be swallowed up by the entrance of the heathen into the community of the God of revelation. The people created by Jehovah, to serve as the vehicle of the promise of salvation and the instrument in preparing the way for salvation, will also render Him special service, even after that salvation has been really effected. At the same time, we cannot take the attitude, which is here assigned to the people of sacred history after it has become the teacher of the nations, viz., as the leader of its worship also, and shape it into any clear and definite form that shall be reconcilable with the New Testament spirit of liberty and the abolition of all national party-walls. The Old Testament prophet utters New Testament prophecies in an Old Testament form. Even when he continues to say, "Ye will eat the riches of the Gentiles, and pride yourselves in their glory," i.e., be proud of the glorious things which have passed from their possession into yours, this is merely colouring intended to strike the eye, which admits of explanation on the ground that he saw the future in the mirror of the present, as a complete inversion of the relation in which the two had stood before. The figures present themselves to him in the form of contrasts. The New Testament apostle, on the other hand, says in Rom 11:12 that the conversion of all Israel to Christ will be "the riches of the Gentiles." But if even then the Gentile church should act according to the words of the same apostle in Rom 15:27, and show her gratitude to the people whose spiritual debtor she is, by ministering to them in carnal things, all that the prophet has promised here will be amply fulfilled. We cannot adopt the explanation proposed by Hitzig, Stier, etc., "and changing with them, ye enter into their glory" (hithyammēr from yâmar = mūr, Hiph.: hēmı̄r, Jer 2:11; lit., to exchange with one another, to enter into one another's places); for yâmar = ‛âmar (cf., yâchad = 'âchad; yâsham = 'âsham; yâlaph = 'âlaph), to press upwards, to rise up (related to tâmar, see at Isa 17:9; sâmar, Symm. ὀρθοτριχεῖν, possibly also ‛âmar with the hithpael hith‛ammēr, lxx καταδυναστεύειν), yields a much simpler and more appropriate meaning. From this verb we have hith'ammēr in Psa 94:4, "to lift one's self up (proudly)," and here hithyammēr; and it is in this way that the word has been explained by Jerome (superbietis), and possibly by the lxx (θαυμασθήσεσθε, in the sense of spectabiles eritis), by the Targum, and the Syriac, as well as by most of the ancient and modern expositors.
The shame of banishment will then be changed into an excess of joy, and honourable distinction. "Instead of shame ye will have double, and (instead) of insult they rejoice at their portion: thus in their land they will possess double; everlasting joy will they have. For I Jehovah love right, hate robbery in wickedness; and give them their reward in faithfulness, and conclude an everlasting covenant with them. And their family will be known among the nations, and their offspring in the midst of the nations: all who see them will recognise them, for they are a family that Jehovah hath blessed." The enigmatical first half of Isa 61:7 is explained in Isa 61:2, where mishneh is shown to consist of double possession in the land of their inheritance, which has not only been restored to them, but extended far beyond the borders of their former possession; and yârōnnū chelqâm (cf., Isa 65:14) denotes excessive rejoicing in the ground and soil belonging to them (according to the appointment of Jehovah): chelqâm as in Mic 2:4; and mishneh as equivalent not to כבוד משׁנה, but to ירשּׁה משׁנה. Taking this to be the relation between Isa 61:7 and Isa 61:7, the meaning of lâkhēn is not, "therefore, because they have hitherto suffered shame and reproach;" but what is promised in Isa 61:7 is unfolded according to its practical results, the effects consequent upon its fulfilment being placed in the foreground; so that there is less to astonish us in the elliptically brief form of Isa 61:7 which needed explanation. The transition from the form of address to that of declaration is the same as in Isa 1:29; Isa 31:6; Isa 52:14-15. וּכלמּה is a concise expression for כלמה ותחת, just as וּתהלּתי in Isa 48:9 is for תהלתי וּלמען. Chelqâm is either the accusative of the object, according to the construction of רנּן, which occurs in Psa 51:16; or what I prefer, looking at חמה in Isa 42:25, and וּזבחיך in Isa 43:23, an adverbial accusative = בחלקם. The lxx, Jerome, and Saad. render the clause, in opposition to the accents, "instead of your double shame and reproach;" but in that case the principal words of the clause would read הלקכם תּרנּוּ. The explanation adopted by the Targum, Saad., and Jerome, "shame on the part of those who rejoice in their portion," is absolutely impossible. The great majority of the modern commentators adopt essentially the same explanation of Isa 61:7 as we have done, and even A. E. Kimchi does the same. Hahn's modification, "instead of your shame is the double their portion, and (instead) of the insult this, that they will rejoice," forces a meaning upon the syntax which is absolutely impossible. The reason for the gracious recompense for the wrong endured is given in Isa 61:8, "Jehovah loves the right," which the enemies of Israel have so shamefully abused. "He hates בּעולה גזל, i.e., not rapinam in holocausto (as Jerome, Talmud b. Succa 30a, Luther, and others render it; Eng. ver. "robbery for burnt-offering") - for what object would there be in mentioning sacrifices here, seeing that only heathen sacrifices could be intended, and there would be something worse than gâzēl to condemn in them? - but robbery, or, strictly speaking, "something robbed in or with knavery" (lxx, Targ., Syr., Saad.), which calls to mind at once the cruel robbery or spoiling that Israel had sustained from the Chaldeans, its bōzezı̄m (Isa 42:24) - a robbery which passed all bounds. עולה is softened from עולה (from עול, עול), like עלתה in Job 5:16, and עולת in Psa 58:3 and Psa 64:7; though it is doubtful whether the punctuation assumes the latter, as the Targum does, and not rather the meaning holocaustum supported by the Talmud. For the very reason, therefore, that Israel had been so grievously ill-treated by the instruments of punishment employed by Jehovah, He would give those who had been ill-treated their due reward, after He had made the evil, which He had not approved, subservient to His own salutary purposes. פּעלּה is the reward of work in Lev 19:13, of hardship in Eze 29:20; here it is the reward of suffering. This reward He would give בּאמת, exactly as He had promised, without the slightest deduction. The posterity of those who have been ill-treated and insulted will be honourably known (נודע as in Pro 31:23) in the world of nations, and men will need only to catch sight of them to recognise them (by prominent marks of blessing), for they are a family blessed of God. כּי, not quod (because), although it might have this meaning, but nam (for), as in Gen 27:23, since hikkı̄r includes the meaning agnoscere (to recognise).
This is the joyful calling of the Servant of Jehovah to be the messenger of such promises of God to His people. "Joyfully I rejoice in Jehovah; my soul shall be joyful in my God, that He hath given me garments of salvation to put on, hath wrapped me in the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom who wears the turban like a priest, and as a bride who puts on her jewellery. For like the land which brings forth its sprouts, and as a garde which causes the things sown in it to sprout up; so the Lord Jehovah bringeth righteousness to sprouting, and renown before all nations." The Targum precedes this last turn with "Thus saith Jerusalem." But as Isa 61:4-9 are a development of the glorious prospects, the realization of which has to be effected through the instrumentality of the person speaking in Isa 61:1-3 both in word and deed, the speaker here is certainly the same as there. Nor is it even the fact that he is here supposed to commence speaking again; but he is simply continuing his address by expressing at the close, as he did at the beginning, the relation in which he stands in his own person to the approaching elevation of His people. Exalted joy, which impels him to exult, is what he experiences in Jehovah his God (בּ denoting the ground and orbit of his experience): for the future, which so abounds in grace, and which he has to proclaim as a prophet and as the evangelist of Israel, and of which he has to lay the foundation as the mediator of Israel, and in which he is destined to participate as being himself an Israelite, consists entirely of salvation and righteousness; so that he, the bearer and messenger of the divine counsels of grace, appears to himself as one to whom Jehovah has given clothes of salvation to put on, and whom He has wrapped in the robe of righteousness. Tsedâqâh (righteousness), looked at from the evangelical side of the idea which it expresses, is here the parallel word to yeshū‛âh (salvation). The figurative representation of both by different articles of dress is similar to Isa 59:17 : yâ‛at, which only occurs here, is synonymous with ‛âtâh, from which comes ma‛ăteh, a wrapper or cloak (Isa 61:3). He appears to himself, as he stands there hoping such things for his people, and preaching such things to his people, to resemble a bridegroom, who makes his turban in priestly style, i.e., who winds it round his head after the fashion of the priestly migbâ‛ōth (Exo 29:9), which are called פּארים in Exo 39:28 (cf., Eze 44:18). Rashi and others think of the mitsnepheth of the high priest, which was of purple-blue; but יכהן does not imply anything beyond the migba‛âh, a tall mitra, which was formed by twisting a long linen band round the head so as to make it stand up in a point. כּהן is by no means equivalent to kōnēn, or hēkhı̄n, as Hitzig and Hahn suppose, since the verb kâhan = kūn only survives in kōhēn. Kı̄hēn is a denom., and signifies to act or play the priest; it is construed here with the accusative פּאר, which is either the accusative of more precise definition ("who play the priest in a turban;" A. ὡς νύμφιον ἱερατευόμενον στεφάνῳ), or what would answer better to the parallel member, "who makes the turban like a priest." As often as he receives the word of promise into his heart and takes it into his mouth, it is to him like the turban of a bridegroom, or like the jewellery which a bride puts on (ta‛deh, kal, as in Hos 2:15). For the substance of the promise is nothing but salvation and renown, which Jehovah causes to sprout up before all nations, just as the earth causes its vegetation to sprout, or a garden its seed (כ as a preposition in both instances, instar followed by attributive clauses; see Isa 8:22). The word in the mouth of the servant of Jehovah is the seed, out of which great things are developed before all the world. The ground and soil ('erets) of this development is mankind; the enclosed garden therein (gannâh) is the church; and the great things themselves are tsedâqâh, as the true inward nature of His church, and tehillâh as its outward manifestation. The force which causes the seed to germinate is Jehovah; but the bearer of the seed is the servant of Jehovah, and the ground of his festive rejoicing is the fact that he is able to scatter the seed of so gracious and glorious a future.