a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

The Ingathering of the Dispersed


Arise, shine; for your light has come,

and the glory of the L ord has risen upon you.


For darkness shall cover the earth,

and thick darkness the peoples;

but the L ord will arise upon you,

and his glory will appear over you.


Nations shall come to your light,

and kings to the brightness of your dawn.



Lift up your eyes and look around;

they all gather together, they come to you;

your sons shall come from far away,

and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.


Then you shall see and be radiant;

your heart shall thrill and rejoice,

because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,

the wealth of the nations shall come to you.


A multitude of camels shall cover you,

the young camels of Midian and Ephah;

all those from Sheba shall come.

They shall bring gold and frankincense,

and shall proclaim the praise of the L ord.


All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you,

the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;

they shall be acceptable on my altar,

and I will glorify my glorious house.



Who are these that fly like a cloud,

and like doves to their windows?


For the coastlands shall wait for me,

the ships of Tarshish first,

to bring your children from far away,

their silver and gold with them,

for the name of the L ord your God,

and for the Holy One of Israel,

because he has glorified you.


Foreigners shall build up your walls,

and their kings shall minister to you;

for in my wrath I struck you down,

but in my favor I have had mercy on you.


Your gates shall always be open;

day and night they shall not be shut,

so that nations shall bring you their wealth,

with their kings led in procession.


For the nation and kingdom

that will not serve you shall perish;

those nations shall be utterly laid waste.


The glory of Lebanon shall come to you,

the cypress, the plane, and the pine,

to beautify the place of my sanctuary;

and I will glorify where my feet rest.


The descendants of those who oppressed you

shall come bending low to you,

and all who despised you

shall bow down at your feet;

they shall call you the City of the L ord,

the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.


Whereas you have been forsaken and hated,

with no one passing through,

I will make you majestic forever,

a joy from age to age.


You shall suck the milk of nations,

you shall suck the breasts of kings;

and you shall know that I, the L ord, am your Savior

and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.



Instead of bronze I will bring gold,

instead of iron I will bring silver;

instead of wood, bronze,

instead of stones, iron.

I will appoint Peace as your overseer

and Righteousness as your taskmaster.


Violence shall no more be heard in your land,

devastation or destruction within your borders;

you shall call your walls Salvation,

and your gates Praise.

God the Glory of Zion


The sun shall no longer be

your light by day,

nor for brightness shall the moon

give light to you by night;

but the L ord will be your everlasting light,

and your God will be your glory.


Your sun shall no more go down,

or your moon withdraw itself;

for the L ord will be your everlasting light,

and your days of mourning shall be ended.


Your people shall all be righteous;

they shall possess the land forever.

They are the shoot that I planted, the work of my hands,

so that I might be glorified.


The least of them shall become a clan,

and the smallest one a mighty nation;

I am the L ord;

in its time I will accomplish it quickly.


12. For the nation and kingdom. The Prophet dwells largely on confirming the hearts of believers, that they may not doubt that the restoration shall be such as he has described. Those events were altogether incredible; and we ourselves, though we have obtained abundant confirmation of them from the actual event, (for they have been made manifest to the eyes of all,) yet, unless we are guided by the Spirit of the Lord, could hardly conceive of them in our mind. He shows, therefore, that there is no reason why the Jews should doubt as to the restoration of the temple, because the Gentiles will aid them to the utmost of their power But here Isaiah looks at something higher than the building of the visible temple; for he intends to speak of that obedience which kings and nobles and the common people render to the Church when they promote, as far as they are able, pure doctrine.

Shall perish. He goes still farther, and confirms his statement the more by declaring that “the kingdoms and nations which will not serve the Church shall be destroyed.” And if so dreadful a punishment was pronounced against those who did not aid the Church, what shall we say of the tyrants who rush upon her with furious attack, and labor with all their might to destroy her? If careless and slothful men do not pass unpunished, does not a fearful vengeance await the ungodly, who disturb and overturn the work of the Lord?

The nations, I say, shall be utterly destroyed. What he had said in the singular number he immediately repeats in the plural, in order to show that even the whole world, if it be involved in the same guilt, shall likewise perish; for their multitude will not be able to prevent all who are estranged from God from perishing, and ungodly men will have no excuse for throwing obstacles in each other’s way, or for encouraging each other to impiety and wickedness. Kings and nations are said, as we have already seen, to “serve the Church;” not that she exercises any dominion over them, but because God has committed to her the scepter of his word by which he rules.

13. The glory of Lebanon. Isaiah again employs the metaphor which he formerly used, when he compared the Church of God to a building or a city. He enumerates those things which were necessary for building, such as “the fir-tree, the pine, and the box-tree,” which grew in Lebanon, a forest abounding, as we know, in excellent trees.

For the beauty of the place of my holiness. He means that all that is excellent and beautiful in Lebanon shall be carried into the Church. But it must be believed that these figures contain an emblematical reference to the spiritual worship of God; for the Lord adorns his Church with the title of a sanctuary, because he dwells in the midst of it. Yet he always alludes to the temple, so as to accommodate himself to the time and to ordinary custom. Thus he holds out to us the pattern of the temple which stood at Jerusalem, that under the image of it we may contemplate the “spiritual temple,” (Ephesians 2:21) of which we are the “living stones” and the living substance. (1 Peter 2:5)

For I will glorify the place of my feet. By “the place of his feet,” he means that he dwells in the temple in such a manner that his majesty is not confined within it, (for he is not limited to so narrow a place;) and therefore his feet only, what may be called the smallest part, is there, that we may ascend to heaven, and not fix our whole attention on those outward signs by which we are instructed according to our capacity. Thus also in the Psalm,

“Worship the footstool of his feet, for it is holy.”
(Psalm 99:5)

And again,

“We will worship in the place where his feet stood.”
(Psalm 132:7)

Not that God’s essence is divided into parts above and below, 158158     “L’une au ciel, l’autre en terre.” “One in heaven, another on earth.” but because by such means he lifts up his servants, as it were, from the feet to the head.

14. And the sons of them that afflict thee shall come. He continues the same subject, for he shows how splendid will be this work of redemption; that is, that they who persecuted or despised the Church “shall come,” so as to bow down humbly before her, and submit to her with their whole heart. By “the sons of them that afflict her,” he means the persecutors and enemies who oppressed her. This was indeed partly fulfilled, when the Jews returned to their native country; but that return was nothing more than a dark shadow of the deliverance which we have obtained through Christ. These things were actually accomplished under the reign of Christ, yet so that the full accomplishment of them may be expected at; his second coming, as we have already said under a different passage.

Some one will ask, “Is not this honor, of which the Prophet speaks, excessive and greater than ought to be given to the Church? for to bow down and prostrate ourselves are tokens of honor which no human being ought to receive.” I reply, this honor is rendered, not to the members, but to the Head; that is, to Christ, who is worshipped in the Church; and this worship is rendered by those who formerly hated and persecuted him. Now we say that Christ is worshipped in the Church, not as the Papists do, who think that the honor which they bestow on that Roman idol is rendered to Christ. 159159     “Qui pensent bien honnorer Christ en s’agenouillant derant cette idole de Rome pour baiser sa pantoufle.” “Who think that they greatly honor Christ by kneeling before that idol of Rome to kiss his slipper.” They for whose sake these things are said reject and despise doctrine; for Christ is honored by those who obey his doctrine. And this is what the Prophet means, that they who were formerly alienated from it shall heartily submit, so as to obey Christ; for if Christ; has any majesty, it shines forth in the doctrine which he administers by the agency of men.

They shall call thee the city of Jehovah. The Church had formerly been adorned with that title; but it was nearly obliterated when the city was destroyed, the temple thrown down, and the people carried into captivity. Jerusalem was no more, and nothing was to be seen in it but frightful desolation; and therefore he means that it shall be restored in such a manner that all shall acknowledge it to be the city of God.

The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. He next speaks of the temple, that all may know that this high rank is ascribed to Jerusalem on account of the temple; that is, on account of the worship of God which the Lord established there.

15. Instead of 160160     תחת (tachath) merely expresses ‘in exchange for:’ though, from the circumstances of the case, the idea of compensation is necessarily implied.” ­ Henderson. “The תחת (tachath) may express either simply a change of condition, (whereas,) or the reason of the change, (because,) or the further idea of equitable compensation.” ­ Alexander thy having been forsaken and hated. The Prophet has in his eye that intermediate period which was already at hand; for, soon after his death, the people were deprived of their heritage and led into captivity, so that all thought that there was no remaining hope of their safety. Lest this thought should come into the minds of believers, by which they might be reduced to despair, “We are undone, there can be no remedy for affairs so desperate, and we ought not to hope for a better condition,” he shows that those grievous calamities cannot prevent God from restoring them; for, although for a time, when the Lord chastised them, they appeared to be forsaken, yet it was easy for him to raise them again to prosperity and to a better condition than before.

If any one object that this splendor of the Church was not of long duration, the reply is short. Although the people were afflicted in various ways after their return, and although even the Christian Church did not long retain its glory, yet those things which the Prophet foretold were fulfilled; for under the cross the glory of Christ shines forth, so that the name of God remains, and there is a people that calls upon him by faith. It ought also to be observed, that in consequence of our ingratitude, we do not obtain the fruit of those promises; for we interrupt the course of God’s works, and deprive ourselves of the fruit of them by our malice. Besides, we ought always to keep in remembrance what I have so often said, that the Prophet does not speak of a few years or a short period, but embraces the whole course of redemption, from the end of the captivity to the preaching of the Gospel, and, finally, down to the end of the reign of Christ.

16. And thou shalt suck the milk of the Gentiles. He speaks of the extension of the Church which he had formerly mentioned; but it was of great importance that the same things should be frequently repeated, because it appeared to be incredible that the Church, which had been reduced to calamities so great and so numerous, would be restored and spread throughout the whole world. Her condition was desperate; but at length, out of that slender remnant which had been, as it were, snatched from the burning, to the great astonishment of all she was restored, and her seed was spread far and wide through every part of the world. And therefore it is as if he had said, “Although thou art confined within narrow limits, and thou hast had no intercourse with the Gentiles, yet thou wilt obtain very abundant fruit from them.”

Thou shalt suck the breast of kings. 161161     “Sucking the breast of kings is unusual, and by fastidious critics may be deemed unnatural: but the phrase is merely employed for the purpose of carrying out more efficiently the idea taught in the preceding clause; namely, that abundant contributions would be made by the inhabitants of the different nations to the sustenance of Zion.” ­ Henderson By “milk” and “breasts” he means nothing else than service and obedience, which the Gentiles shall render to the Church for supporting her offspring; for, having formerly said that at one birth she would bring forth innumerable children, he now gives them milk for nourishment till they grow up. And he speaks expressly of “kings,” because it was more difficult to be believed. Here, too, in passing, “kings” are reminded of their duty; and if they wish to discharge it in a proper manner, they must be the servants of the Church; otherwise the Lord will call them to account. We see also what David says of them,

“And now, O ye kings, be wise; and ye judges of the earth, be instructed. Serve Jehovah with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” (Psalm 2:10,11)

But we ought carefully to observe in what manner the Church sucks “the milk” and “the breasts” of the Gentiles; for she is not at liberty to exhaust the wealth of the whole world, but to preserve her own condition safe and sound. What is more inconsistent with the nature of a Church than to be an insatiable gulf, and to draw the wealth of all to herself? Those things, therefore, must relate to her spiritual condition, that God may be purely worshipped in her, that the ministry of the word may prosper and flourish, and that some discipline may be maintained, which shall serve as a bridle to restrain all. Yet let believers remember that (Acts 20:35) “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” and that they ought to bear poverty so patiently as to enrich others abundantly with spiritual benefits.

And thou shalt know that I Jehovah am thy Redeemer. At length he adds that what had been concealed for a time shall be made manifest, that the Jews were not elected in vain, because they shall know by undoubted experience that God takes care of their salvation. It may be asked, Did they not know this even before they were led into captivity? I answer, that captivity was like the thick darkness to which also the Prophet compared it in the beginning of this chapter. Since, therefore, during that harsh tyranny, they could not behold God’s majesty and power, the Lord led them out into open day, not that faith gives way amidst afflictions, but that the feeling of faith is different from that of experience. When we appear to be ruined, faith raises itself above the present condition and the thick darkness in which we are involved; and if God restore us perfectly, then we see it, not by the eyes of faith, but by actual experience. And this is the clear knowledge of which he speaks; as if he had said, “When I shall have acted so kindly towards you, then you shall actually know that I am your Redeemer.”

The mighty one of Jacob. He expressly claims the title of “the mighty one of Jacob,” because he had often shown that he was so; and not only had Jacob experience in various ways of the power of God, but Jacob’s posterity had also known that in the power of God there was abundant protection. He therefore calls himself the “mighty one,” that they may know that God will henceforth be to them what he formerly was to their fathers.

17. For brass I will bring gold. He alludes to the building of the ancient temple, and compares it with the heavenly and spiritual temple; as if he had said, “When you shall be led into captivity, you will deplore the ruin of the temple, but I will cause you to build one far more excellent.” Thus, “for brass I will bring gold, for iron silver, for wood brass, for stones iron;” that is, everything shall be full of magnificence and splendor in that temple which shall come in place of the former.

We know that this prediction was never accomplished ill that external restoration of the people, or during the commencement of it, and even that the temple which was afterwards erected was far inferior to the former. It follows, therefore, that the Prophet, to whom a full redemption was exhibited in spirit, not only relates what shall happen immediately after the return of the people, but discourses concerning the excellence of the spiritual temple; that is, of the Church of Christ. We must, therefore, come down in uninterrupted succession to Christ, if we wish to understand this prophecy. In his reign these things were abundantly fulfilled, and the glory of the former temple was greatly surpassed; for the Lord poured out gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are more excellent than gold, silver, and jewels. We may therefore see the temple now built with precious stones, as was formerly said. (Isaiah 54:11, 12)

I will make thy magistracy peace. 162162     “‘And I will make thy magistracy peace;’ that is, ‘I will make thy rulers peaceful. פקדה, (pekudah,) which evidently corresponds to the Greek word ἐπισκοπὴ, is here used by metonymy for, אנשי פקדה, (anshe pekudah,) or בעלי פקדה, (begnale pekudah,) those who discharge the office of magistracy, as in 2 Kings 11:18, Ezekiel 44:11. The Septuagint renders it ἄρχοντάς, ‘thy rulers,’ and the Chaldee פרנסך, (parnasach,) ‘thy governors.’“ ­ Rosenmuller Instead of “magistracy” some render the word “tribute.” I have no doubt that the Prophet intended indirectly to compare the wretched bondage of the people under which they were to be kept, with that pre­eminently high rank which they afterwards obtained. With “peace” and “righteousness” he contrasts the “magistrates” who exercised unjust rule, while they were harassed by the avarice and cruelty of the Babylonians.

And thy exactors righteousness. He now shows that when their “exactors” shall have been exterminated, there will be no “magistracy” but that of “peace” and “righteousness.” “They who shall have power over thee will observe righteousness and peace.” This was more fully accomplished when, through Christ, we were delivered from the tyranny of the devil; for by the Gospel he set up a kingdom of righteousness which he has not yet completed; but we must look for his last coming so as to have our eyes eagerly fixed on it, and, in the meantime, must; be satisfied with those first­fruits.

18. Oppression shall no longer be heard in thy land. Here he states more clearly what we have already said, namely, that, while the Prophet discourses concerning the prosperous condition of the Church, he indirectly contrasts the miseries and calamities by which they had been afflicted in various ways. He promises, therefore, that they shall never afterwards be subjected to such afflictions. Yet nevertheless various afflictions afterwards befell them. This is undoubtedly true; but the people were never scattered in such a manner as not to have some remaining form of the Church, and thus to enjoy peace, and to feel that they were protected and kept by the hand of God. These words did not contain a promise of exemption from every annoyance and distress; but by comparison they held out this solace for future evils, that God spares his Church, and consequently the Church shall be safe under his protection; and during the very course of the deliverance there was exhibited a striking proof of this peace, which the Prophet extols. Finally, we must always keep in remembrance what we have so often said, that; it is only in part that all these things are experienced by us; for the kingdom of Christ has not yet been completed.

And thy gates Praise. He alludes, as we have often said already, to the building of the temple or the city, and shows that the Church shall be safe, not by means of walls, or towers, or any enclosures, but that, although there are no earthly defenses, there shall be abundance of safety and peaceful joy in God alone. Now he connects the safety of the Church with “peace” or “joy;“ because she rejoices at being safe and sound, whereas formerly she lay silently in affliction and despair.

19. and 20. And thou shalt no longer have the sun for the light of days. He teaches that the prosperity of the Church shall not be temporary, but permanent; for he distinguishes it from the ordinary condition of men, among whom there is nothing steadfast or permanent; because there is nothing under the sun, however well regulated, that is not subject to various changes. But we ought not to judge of the Church from the dangers of the present life; for she is preserved in the midst of the billows; as if he had said, “Do not judge of thy safety from the present appearance of things, but know that it is laid up in God. God will be thy sun, so that thou hast no need of borrowing light from the sun or the moon. Do not, therefore, dread any change or revolution of affairs; for thou shalt have a perpetual and unchangeable light.”

By these words the Prophet does not mean that the children of God shall be deprived of the ordinary advantages of life; for, since the Lord bestows them indiscriminately on all men, he certainly has appointed them also for his children, for whose sake, indeed, God created all things, since he exercises a peculiar care over them. But the Prophet intended to express a still greater blessing, which the children of God alone enjoy, namely, the heavenly Light, which ungodly men hate, and therefore cannot receive; for, although they enjoy the sun and other blessings, yet their happiness cannot be firm and enduring; because, being void of taste, they do not relish that which was of the greatest importance, that they have God for their Father.

Thus he distinguishes the condition of the Church and of believers from the ordinary lot of men, that we may not judge of it from the revolution and change of events, and next that we may know that, amidst the thickest darkness, the fatherly kindness of God shines on believers, in order to cheer them. And, indeed, although all the elements either cease to discharge their duty, or threaten us with a melancholy aspect, yet it ought to be enough that God is reconciled to us. By a figure of speech, in which a part is taken for the whole, he includes, under the terms “Sun” and “Moon,” the whole condition of man, which is continually undergoing change.

VIEWNAME is study