Isa 52.1-15 is a prophecy about the glorious future of Israel and is connected to the previous chapter where Jerusalem is represented as a sleeping woman (51.9) “drunk” with the judgments and wrath of God. She is to “wake up” and put on strength and return to her kingly and priestly duties as the city of Yehovah and his nation. The chapter ends with a prophecy about the Messiah.
v 1…Awake, awake (terms associated with Rosh Ha Shanah), clothe yourself in your strength (kingly and priestly duties), O Zion; clothe yourself in your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city (has a kedusha); for the uncircumcised (the pagans; those with uncircumcised hearts and flesh; her enemies) and the unclean will no more come to you (by force).
v 2…Shake yourself from the dust (from mourning), rise up (and act); sit down, O Jerusalem (upon a throne), loose yourself from the chains around your neck (undo yourself from bondage), O captive daughter of Zion.
v 3…For thus says the Lord, “You were sold for nothing and you will not be redeemed with silver (no need for money because God’s power would be all that was needed).”
v 4…For thus says the Lord God (Adonai Yehovah), “My people went down at the first into Egypt to reside (sojourn) there (but were oppressed by Pharaoh), then the Assyrian oppressed them without cause (eschatologically these two nations symbolize Europe and Russia in the birth-pains).
v 5…Now, therefore, what have I to do here (do I continue the penal penalties),” declares the Lord, “seeing that my people have been taken away without cause (to Babylon without any human claim upon them)?” The Lord declares, “Those who rule over them howl (haughtily), and my name is continually blasphemed (the butt of their jokes; that their success was due to their pagan gods) all day long.”
v 6…Therefore my people shall know my name (get to learn it through the coming redemption); therefore in the day I am the one who is speaking, ‘Here I am (is now present to help).'”
v 7…How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news (the “basar” of the redemption and the fall of Babylon to the Judean mountains; to Jerusalem), who announces peace (shalom) and brings good news (the basar) of happiness, who announces salvation (Hebrew “yeshua”), and says to Zion, “Your God reigns (and has dominion. Up to now Israel was in bondage, and it looked like Yehovah had little power and lost his kingdom, but now he has ascended to greater glory-Isa 24.23).
v 8…Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices (the prophets), they shout joyfully together (as they see happening all that they had been talking about); for they will see with their own eyes (eye to eye-a Yom Kippur expression) when the Lord restores (brings back) the captives (Isa 27.12-13; Matt 24.29-31) of Zion (these verses also allude to the coming redemption in Yeshua during the birth-pains).
v 9…Break forth, shout joyfully together, you waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord (Yehovah) has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem (Yehovah has turned away their misery and is bringing back the exiles of Zion, and Jerusalem will be built up again).
v 10…The Lord has bared his holy arm (revealed his power that seemed to be hidden and powerless) in the sight of the nations (so they can see the reality of it all); that all the ends of the earth may see the salvation (Hebrew “yeshuat) of our God (the redemption has come; this also alludes to the Messianic Redemption in the birth-pains).
v 11…Depart, depart, go from there (from Babylon when the time comes), touch nothing unclean (to enrich themselves with the property of their oppressors like they did in Egypt); go out of the midst of her, purify yourselves (in a holy exodus), you who carry the vessels of the Lord (Cyrus allowed them to take back the Temple vessels that were taken by Babylon).
v 12…But you will not go out in haste (like from Egypt), nor will you go as fugitives (in flight); for the Lord will go before you (under his guidance), and the God of Israel will be your rear guard (sheltering them from the front and behind).
v 13…Behold (take note of), my servant (The Aramaic paraphrase Targum ben Uzziel says, “my servant the Messiah” here. He was a student of Hillel and lived in the First Century. This gives us a good idea how the people saw these verses. From Isa 52.13 to 53.12 it will be talking about the Suffering Servant of Yehovah, who is also called Messiah ben Joseph, and Yochanon ha Matvil, or John the Immerser, quotes this verse in John 1.29 about Yeshua) will prosper (his cause), he will be high and lifted up (in a position of power) and greatly exalted.
v 14…Just as many were astonished (past tense) at you (now the prophecy addresses the Messiah and his low estate and humiliation), so his appearance was (past tense) marred more than any man (his entire appearance was disfigured and it was beyond comprehension how he survived), and his form more than the sons of men.
v 15…Thus he will (future tense) sprinkle many nations (alluding to the Parah Adumah or Red Heifer ceremony, the Yom Kippur ceremony where the blood is sprinkled over the kipporet, and the cleansing of a leper. It speaks about the expiation and sanctification, and the access to the redemption by the nations-Ezek 36.24-25; Zech 3.8-10; Lev 14.1-57; Lev 16.1-54; Num 19.1-13; Eph 2.11-22). Kings will (future tense) shut their mouths on account of him (struck dumb and astonished; what they see went far beyond what they have been told about him, or perceived, by his sudden appearance on Yom Kippur-Matt 24.29-31). For what had not been told them they will (future tense) see, and what they had not heard they will (future tense) understand (and tremble).