Verse 13. "My servant shall deal prudently" - lyky yaskil, shall prosper, or act prosperously. The subject of Isaiah's prophecy, from the fortieth chapter inclusive, has hitherto been, in general, the deliverance of the people of God. This includes in it three distinct parts; which, however, have a close connection with one another; that is, 1. The deliverance of the Jews from the captivity of Babylon; 2. The deliverance of the Gentiles from their miserable state of ignorance and idolatry; and, 3. The deliverance of mankind from the captivity of sin and death. These three subjects are subordinate to one another; and the two latter are shadowed out under the image of the former. They are covered by it as by a veil; which however is transparent, and suffers them to appear through it.
Cyrus is expressly named as the immediate agent of God in effecting the first deliverance. A greater person is spoken of as the Agent who is to effect the two latter deliverances, called the servant, the elect, of God, in whom his soul delighteth; Israel, in whom God will be glorified. Now these three subjects have a very near relation to one another; for as the Agent who was to effect the two latter deliverances, - that is, the Messiah, - was to be born a Jew, with particular limitations of time, family, and other circumstances; the first deliverance was necessary in the order of providence, and according to the determinate counsel of God, to the accomplishment of the two latter deliverances; and the second deliverance was necessary to the third, or rather was involved in it, and made an essential part of it. This being the case, Isaiah has not treated the three subjects as quite distinct and separate in a methodical and orderly manner, like a philosopher or a logician, but has taken them in their connective veiw. He has handled them as a prophet and a poet; he has allegorized the former, and under the image of it has shadowed out the two latter: he has thrown them all together, has mixed one with another, has passed from this to that with rapid transitions, and has painted the whole with the strongest and boldest imagery. The restoration of the Jews from captivity, the call of the Gentiles, the redemption by Messiah, have hitherto been handled interchangeably and alternately. Babylon has hitherto been kept pretty much in sight; at the same time, that strong intimations of something much greater have frequently been thrown in. But here Babylon is at once dropped, and I think hardly ever comes in sight again; unless perhaps in chap. lv. 12, and lvii. 14. The prophet's views are almost wholly engrossed by the superior part of his subject. He introduces the Messiah as appearing at first in the lowest state of humiliation, which he had just touched upon before, (chap. l. 5, 6,) and obviates the offense which would be occasioned by it, by declaring the important and necessary cause of it, and foreshowing the glory which should follow it.
This seems to me to be the nature and the true design of this part of Isaiah's prophecies; and this view of them seems to afford the best method of resolving difficulties, in which expositors are frequently engaged, being much divided between what is called the literal and the mystical sense, not very properly; for the mystical or spiritual sense is very often the most literal sense of all.
Abarbanel seems to have had an idea of this kind, as he is quoted by Vitringa on chap. xlix. 1, who thus represents his sentiments: Censet Abarbanel prophetam hic transitum facere a liberatione ex exilio Babylonico ad liberationem ex exilio Romano; et, quod hic animadversu dignum est, observat liberationem ex exilio Babylonico esse hyarw twa oth veraayah, signum et argumentum liberationis futurae; atque adeo orationem prophetae de duabus hisce liberationibus in superioribus concionibus saepe inter se permisceri. Verba ejus: "Et propterea verba, sive res, in prophetic superiore inter se permixtae occurrunt; modo de liberatione Babylonica, modo de liberatione extrema accipiendae, ut orationis necessitas exigit. " Nullum hic vitium, nisi quod redemptionem veram et spiritualem a Messia vero Jesu adductam, non agnoscat.
"Abarbanel supposes that the prophet here makes a transition from the deliverance from the Babylonish captivity to the deliverance from the Roman captivity; and (which is worthy of particular note) he observes that the deliverance from the Babylonish captivity is a sign and pledge of the future redemption; and that on this account it is we find in the preceding prophecies the circumstances of the two captivities intimately blended together. His words are the following: 'And, therefore, the words or subjects in the foregoing prophecy are very much intermixed; in one passage the redemption from the Babylonish captivity being treated of, in another the redemption from the general dispersion, as may be collected from the obvious import of the words.' No fault can be found with the above remark, except that the true and spiritual redemption procured by Jesus the Messiah is not acknowledged." - L.
Verse 14. "As many were astonished at thee "As many were astonished at him"" - For ūyl[ aleicha read wyl[ again. So the Syriac, Chaldee, and Vulgate in a MS.; and so likewise two ancient MSS.
"His visage was so marred more than any man" - Most interpreters understand this of the indignities offered to our blessed Lord: but Kimchi gives it another turn, and says, "It means the Jewish people, whom are considered by most nations as having an appearance different from all the people of the earth. " Poor Jews! they have in general a very disagreeable look, partly affected, and partly through neglect of neatness and cleanliness. Most Christians think they carry the impress of their reprobation on every feature of their face. However this may be, it should never be forgotten that the greatest men that ever flourished as kings, judges, magistrates, lawgivers, heroes, and poets, were of Jewish extraction. Isaiah was a Jew; so was Paul, and so was JESUS of Nazareth.
Verse 15. "So shall he sprinkle many nations" - I retain the common rendering, though I am by no means satisfied with it. " hzy yazzeh, frequent in the law, means only to sprinkle: but the water sprinkled is the accusative case; the thing on which has l[ al or la el. qaumasontai, o, makes the best apodosis. ghny yenahag would do. wrhny yinharu is used chap. ii. 2; Jer. xxxi. 12; chap. li. 14, but is unlike. 'Kings shall shut,' &c., is good, but seems to want a first part." - SECKER. Munster translates it, faciet loqui, (de se;) and in his note thus explains it: hzy yazzeh proprie significat spargere et stillas disseminare; hic hero capitur pro loqui, et verbum disseminare. " hzy yazzeh properly signifies to sprinkle, and to scatter about drops; but it here means to speak, and to disseminate the word. " This is pretty much as the Rabbins Kimchi and Sal. ben Belec explain it, referring to the expression of "dropping the word.
" But the same objection lies to this as to the common rendering; it ought to be µywg l[ (rbd) hzy yazzeh (debar) al goyim. Bishop Chandler, Defence, p. 148, says, "that to sprinkle is used for to surprise and astonish, as people are that have much water thrown upon them. And this sense is followed by the Septuagint. " This is ingenious, but rather too refined. Dr. Duress conjectures that the true reading may be wzhy yechezu, they shall regard, which comes near to the qaumasontai of the Septuagint, who seem to give the best sense of any to this place.
"I find in my papers the same conjecture which Dr. Durell made from qaumasontai in the Septuagint. And it may be added that hzj chazah is used to express 'looking on any thing with admiration,' Psa. xi. 7; xvii. 15; xxvii. 4; lxiii. 2; Cant. vi. 13. It is particularly applied to 'looking on God,' Exod. xxiv. 11, and Job xix. 26. Gisbert Cuper, in Observ. lib. ii. 1, though treating on another subject, has some observations which show how nearly oraw and qaumazw are allied, which, with the peculiar sense of the verb hzj chazah above noted, add to the probability of qaumasontai being the version of wzjy yechezu in the text: oi de nu laoi pantev ev auton orwsi. Hesiod., id est. cum veneratione quadam adminantur. Hinc oraw et qaumazw junxit Themistius Or. i. eita pausontai oi anqrwpoi prov se monon orwnev, kai se monon qaumazontev. Theophrastus in Charact. c. 3. enqumh wv apoblepousin eiv se oi anqrwpoi. Hence the rendering of this verse seems to be] "So many nations shall look on him with admiration Kings shall stop their mouths." DR. JUBB.
Does not sprinkling the nations refer to the conversion and baptism of the Gentiles? Many nations shall become proselytes to his religion.
"Kings shall shut their mouths at him" - His Gospel shall so prevail that all opposition shall be finally overcome; and kings and potentates shall be overwhelmed with confusion, and become speechless before the doctrines of his truth. When they hear these declared they shall attentively consider them, and their conviction of their truth shall be the consequence.
"For that which had not been told them" - The mystery of the Gospel so long concealed. See Rom. xv. 21; xvi. 25.
"Shall they see" - With the eyes of their faith; God enlightening both organ and object.
"And that which they had not heard" - The redemption of the world by Jesus Christ; the conversion of the Gentiles, and making them one flock with the converted Jews. - TRAPP