Home » Isaiah: A Personal Devotional Journal » Septuagint Isaiah 62:6-12: Journal 2.85

Septuagint Isaiah 62:6-12: Journal 2.85

By Christina M Wilson

Clarification: Septuagint Isaiah 62 NOT a Return from Babylon

The main point of Septuagint Isaiah is not the physical exile to Babylon–both its occurrence and the people’s return. Nor is the main point the salvation of Zion. No, rather, Septuagint Isaiah’s main point is the salvation of Zion and the Gentile world by means of God’s Servant. The Servant and his work are the fulcrum from which all else flows. On the downward side is judgment. On the upward side is glory for Zion and the annexed Gentile believers. When the main point is realized, understanding the story line of the text becomes much easier.

The New Testament quotes Isaiah approximately 52 times, according to Archer and Chirichingno (1). Other than the Psalter (Psalms), Isaiah is the book most frequently quoted by New Testament authors. Most people familiar with the Gospels and New Testament epistles recognize that the bulk of the gospel message concerns the Christ’s incarnation, divine powers, and work of salvation. In other words, the Gospel writers did not concern themselves with Old Testament Israel’s return from Babylon. The quotations from Isaiah in the New Testament concern the Servant’s/Messiah’s/Christ’s divine identity and saving work for Israel and the world at large.

Therefore, to read Isaiah 62 with the Israelites’ return from Babylon primarily in view is to miss the main point of Isaiah’s prophecy. For example, some commentators place the thrust of the message of chapter 62 chronologically  before the exile. They may write that verses 10-12 make reference to passing through Babylon’s gates in return to their homeland. Please understand, I am not denying that for Israelites in the year 700 BC, Babylon may have been first and foremost in their line of vision. But as Jesus himself explains in Luke 24:25-27, the important message of the Prophets concerned himself.

The current section of Isaiah begins in Septuagint Isaiah 56:9. This fresh repetition does take the reader back to a time before the exile (see Devotional 2.73). However, a recounting of God’s salvation through his Servant begins with a confession of sin spoken by a representative of the remnant in Septuagint Isaiah 59:12-15. The narrative of the Servant begins in verse 16 of that same chapter. It continues through the end of the chapter. The climax in Septuagint Isaiah 59:21 is God’s New Covenant, the pouring out of his Spirit in response to the Savior’s cleansing work. Immediately, chapters 60-62 celebrate this amazing work. Chapter 62 does not leap back in time to a period before the exile, but remains firmly fixed in the outcome of the Servant’s work, as recounted in Septuagint Isaiah 59:16-21.

Verses 6-9: Protection for God’s People

1. Watchmen on Her Walls: 6-7

In Septuagint verse 6, God himself speaks (not Isaiah the prophet). God appoints “watchmen all day and all night.” The watchmen of verse 6 “never cease making mention of the Lord.” These watchmen appear to be witnesses to the Lord. The Septuagint text differs from the Masoretic in this verse. It is the Lord these watchmen talk about. Verse 7 gives the reason. There will be none like Jerusalem when the Lord establishes her and makes her a praise on the earth. In other words, this figure could be applied to a bride who is always talking about her betrothed (see verse 5). The reason is that he has treated her extremely well, she being very special to him. Therefore, she spends all her time recounting his praises and what he has done for her (2).

62:6 And upon your walls, O Ierousalem, I have posted sentinels all day and all night, who shall never be silent, making mention of the Lord. 7 For you [plural] have none like him [singular], if he should restore Ierousalem and make it a boast on the earth. (Silva, M. NETS) (3)

2. Protection and Praise: 8-9

8 For the Lord has sworn by his glory, and by the might of his arm, I will no more give your corn and your provisions to your enemies; nor shall strangers any more drink your wine, for which you have laboured. 9 But they that have gathered them shall eat them, and they shall praise the Lord; and they that have gathered the grapes shall drink thereof in my holy courts. (Septuagint Isaiah, Brenton LXE)

In verses 8 and 9, the bridegroom of verse 5 promises to protect his bride from all her enemies. She will labor, harvest, and enjoy the fruits of her labor (Matthew 6:19-20). In return, the bride “shall praise the Lord.” Isaiah presents metaphorical figures. “They” are the people of Jerusalem. Verse 5 explains in metaphor that the Lord will rejoice over his people in the same way that a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.

Verses 10-11: A Missionary Directive

62:10 Go through my gates, and make a way for my people; and cast the stones out of the way; lift up a standard for the Gentiles. 11 For behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth, say you to the daughter of Sion, Behold, your Saviour has come to you, having his reward and his work before his face. (LXE) (Reference Bibles point the reader to Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:5; and John 12:15)

The extended context of Septuagint Isaiah 62:10-11 is everything that’s gone before in chapters 60-61. In these chapters, Sion and Jerusalem have already been redeemed. The chapters present Jerusalem (the people of God) rejoicing and celebrating over the goodness and provision of the Lord. Because the text mentions the phrase “my gates,” this does not of necessity refer to Babylon. The last direct reference to Babylon occurs in chapter 48. Chapter 53 brings the time frame up to the advent of the Lord. Chapter 59 repeats the advent, while chapters 60-62 expound the beneficial outcome of the advent for God’s people. Specifically, 62:1-9 describe the glories of Jerusalem, God’s people, in the period following God’s new covenant of Spirit with them in Isaiah 59:21. As readers may recall, God enacted his covenant of Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-39) and elsewhere in book of Acts.

There is further support of the premise that the word “gates” do not refer to Babylon. While the Masoretic translations write “the gates” in 62:10, the Septuagint states, “my gates.” It seems most likely that God’s gates would be those at the entrance/exit of Jerusalem, rather than the gates of Cyrus the Persian. But consider. These verses describe God’s people as already living in Jerusalem. Verse 10 pictures a different scenario than the exit from Babylon. Rather, the flow is from Jerusalem outward.

“Go!” in 62:10 is a verbal imperative directed toward God’s people who live in Sion. God directs them to go out from Sion and prepare a road for the Gentiles, who will be advancing toward Sion. See Matthew 28:19 for the same Greek word, “Go!”. (In Isaiah the word is πορεύεσθε (por-EV-es-thay) and in Matthew the text reads πορευθέντες (por-ev-THEN-tes). The first is active and the second is passive. The Greek word for “standard” in Septuagint verse 10 is σύσσημον (SIS-see-mon). This is a composite word made of a prefix and the base word “sign.” Early Christians, it is said, used the sign of a fish. This represented an anagram for the words, “Jesus Christ God’s Son Savior.” Later Christians up to the present have used the sign of the cross. 

The point of verses 10-11 is to proclaim God’s purpose of broadcasting Jerusalem’s salvation to the end of the earth. The command is to prepare the way for Gentiles the world over to travel to Jerusalem to partake of God’s blessings, remembering that Jerusalem is a metaphor (as defined and used repeatedly by Isaiah himself) for God’s believing people  (see all of Isaiah 54) (4).

Verse 12: A Holy People

12 And one shall call them the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord: and you shall be called a city sought out, and not forsaken. (LXE)

The New Testament refers to believers as “saints” some 46 times, outside of the gospels and Revelation. The NIV and CEB use the phrase “holy people” in nearly half of these occurrences. Philippians 1:1 represents a typical example of this usage.

Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: (ESV)

Paul in Galatians explains the redemption that Christ (the Servant) brings.

Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us– for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”– 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (ESV)

Paul also writes:

Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (ESV) 

And see Titus 2:14.

God accomplishes both the pouring out of the Spirit and the adoption as sons solely based upon of the cleansing work of the Servant, as Isaiah describes it in Isaiah 53 (see Isaiah 53:5-6, 9-12).

Verse 12: A City Sought Out and Not Forsaken

12 And one shall call them the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord: and you shall be called a city sought out, and not forsaken. (LXE)

Jerusalem in Isaiah 62 is a geographical location with land (verse 4), a bride (verse 5), a holy people (verse 12), and a city (verses 6 and 12). Jerusalem in verse 12 shall be called a “city sought out” and “not forsaken.” The sense of the Greek word for “forsaken” is “left-over,” that is, what remains after the bulk has been used or taken away. Its stem is the same as that for the word “remnant.”

The believing people of Israel were so small in number that Isaiah calls them a “remnant,” (Isaiah 10:22). After the influx of the Gentiles, they will be a remnant no longer (Septuagint Isaiah 54:1-3).

1  Rejoice, you barren that bear not; break forth and cry, you that do not travail: for more are the children of the desolate than of her that has a husband: for the Lord has said, 2 Enlarge the place of your tent, and of your curtains: fix the pins, spare not, lengthen your cords, and strengthen your pins; 3 spread forth your tent yet to the right and the left: for your seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and you shall make the desolate cities to be inhabited. (LXE)

Rather than being called a “remnant,” “forsaken,” they “shall be called a city sought out, and not forsaken” (Septuagint Isaiah 62:12).

Conclusion

The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews sums up Septuagint Isaiah 62 quite well. Notice how many of the ideas and images these verses present are present in Isaiah, as well.

Hebrews 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (ESV)

And, of course, the book of Hebrews applies the above verses to the church, the assembly of God’s people now, both “Jew” and Gentile, those believers who receive the work of God’s Servant (as presented in Isaiah) and offer their allegiance to him.

__________
1 Archer, Gleason L. and Gregory Chirichigno. Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 1983. See also Christianity.com which writes, “What’s more, fully 90% of the New Testament’s 260 chapters quote from Isaiah’s writings. It’s that important.” More information can be found at SimplyBible.com and JesusWalk.com.

2 Does this sound a bit like a Christian worship service? As mentioned above, the Masoretic text renders a completely different interpretation (see Masoretic Isaiah 62:6-7 ESV).

3 Silva, Moíses. A New English Translation of the Septuagint: Esaias. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Available online at A New English Translation of the Septuagint. 33. Esaias (upenn.edu). Accessed July 22, 2022.

4 At least one commentator who brings in the “millennium” as the time frame for the blessings of verse 7 also brings in ancient, concrete-literal Babylon as the location and time frame of the “gates” in verse 10. Isaiah does not jump around in such an erratic fashion. Nothing in the context of Isaiah in these verses and chapters makes reference to a “millennium.” If this were the case, then God’s people are still waiting for fulfillment of God’s word. And why, if such were the case, would Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, and Peter be citing Isaiah in reference to the incarnation of Christ? Rather, the Lord’s people–both descendants of Israelites and Gentiles–enjoy God’s communal protection and blessings now. His presence among them comforts them now. They praise the Lord as a bride her groom, now.


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