Isaiah 52:14
As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:
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(14) As many were astonied . . .—The words point to the correspondence of the supreme exaltation following on the supreme humiliation.

His visage was so marred . . .—The words conflict strangely with the type of pure and holy beauty with which Christian art has made us familiar as its ideal of the Son of Man. It has to be noted, however, that the earlier forms of that art, prior to the time of Constantine, and, in some cases, later, represented the Christ as worn, emaciated, with hardly any touch of earthly comeliness, and that it is at least possible that the beauty may have been of expression rather than of feature or complexion, and that men have said of Him, as of St. Paul, that his “bodily presence was weak” (2Corinthians 10:10).

Isaiah 52:14-15. As many were astonished at thee — At thee, O my servant: were struck with wonder at his glorious endowments, at the excellence and power of his doctrine, and his miraculous works, or rather, at his humiliation. His visage was so marred, &c. — Christ, in respect of his birth, breeding, manner of life, and outward condition in the world, was obscure and contemptible, and therefore said to be a worm, and no man, a reproach of men, and despised of the people, Psalm 22:6, being exposed to all manner of affronts, indignities, and contumelies, from day to day. His countenance also was so marred with frequent watchings, fastings, and troubles, that he was thought to be nearly fifty years old when he was but thirty, John 8:57, and was further disfigured when he was buffeted, smitten on the cheek, spit upon, and crowned with thorns, and met with other cruel and despiteful usages. So, &c. — His exaltation shall be answerable to his humiliation; shall he sprinkle many nations — 1st, With his blood, which is called the blood of sprinkling, Hebrews 12:24, that is, he shall justify them by his blood, as it follows, Isaiah 53:11, which act is frequently expressed by washing, as Psalm 51:2; Psalm 51:7; Ezekiel 16:9; Revelation 1:5. Or, 2d, With his word or doctrine; which, being often compared to rain, or water, as chap. 55:10, 11; Psalm 72:6, may be said to be sprinkled: as it is said to be dropped, Deuteronomy 32:2; Ezekiel 20:46; Ezekiel 21:2. This sense seems to be favoured by the following words: or, 3d, With his Spirit, represented under the emblem of the sprinkling of water, Ezekiel 36:25-27; and frequently compared to water in the Scriptures, and, in the days of the Messiah, to be poured out on all flesh, Joel 2:28; and particularly promised to such as should thirst for it, and believe in Christ, John 7:37-38; Revelation 21:6; Revelation 22:17. Kings shall shut their mouths at him — Shall be silent before him, out of profound humility, reverence, and admiration of his wisdom, and an eager desire to hear and receive counsels and oracles from his mouth; for that which had not been told them shall they see — They shall hear from his mouth many excellent doctrines, which will be new and strange to them. And particularly that comfortable doctrine of the salvation of the Gentiles, which was not only new to them, but strange and incredible to the Jews themselves.

52:13-15 Here begins that wonderful, minute, and faithful description of the office, character, and glory of the Messiah, which has struck conviction to many of the most hardened unbelievers. Christ is Wisdom itself; in the work of our redemption there appeared the wisdom of God in a mystery. Those that saw him, said, Surely never man looked so miserable: never was sorrow like unto his sorrow. But God highly exalted him. That shall be discovered by the gospel of Christ, which could never be told in any other way. And Christ having once shed his blood for sinners, its power still continues. May all opposers see the wisdom of ceasing from their opposition, and be made partakers of the blood of sprinkling, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost; obeying him, and praising his salvation.As many were astonished at thee - This verse is closely connected with the following, and they should be read together. The sense is, 'as many were shocked at him - his form was so disfigured, and his visage so marred - so he shall sprinkle many nations.' That is, the one fact would correspond with the other. The astonishment would be remarkable; the humiliation would be wonderful, and suited to attract the deepest attention; and so his success and his triumph would correspond with the depth of his humiliation and sufferings. As he had in his humiliation been subjected to the lowest condition, so that all despised him; so hereafter the highest possible reverence would be shown him. Kings and nobles would shut their mouths in his presence, and show him the profoundest veneration. A change of person here occurs which is not uncommon in the Hebrew poets. In Isaiah 52:13, Yahweh speaks of the Messiah in the third person; here he changes the form of the address, and speaks of him in the second person.

In the following verse the mode of address is again changed, and he speaks of him again in the third person. Lowth, however, proposes to read this in the third person, 'As many were astonished at him,' on the authority of two ancient Hebrew manuscripts, and of the Syriac and Chaldee. But the authority is not sufficient to justify a change in the text, nor is it necessary. In the word rendered 'astonished' (שׁממוּ shâmmû), the primary idea is that of being struck dumb, or put to silence from sudden astonishment. Whether the astonishment is from admiration or abhorrence is to be determined by the connection. In the latter sense, it is used in Jeremiah 18:16; Jeremiah 19:8. Here it evidently refers to the fact that he was disfigured, and destitute of apparent beauty and attractiveness from his abject condition and his sufferings. They were struck with amazement that one so abject, and that had so little that was attractive, should presume to lay claim to the character of the Messiah. This idea is more fully expressed in the following chapter. Here it is stated in general that his appearance was such as to excite universal astonishment, and probably to produce universal disgust. They saw no beauty or comeliness in him (see Isaiah 53:2). This expression should also be regarded as standing in contrast with what is added in Isaiah 52:15. Here it is said they were amazed, astonished, silent, at his appearance of poverty and his humiliation; there it is said, 'kings should shut their mouths at him,' that is, they would be so deeply impressed with his majesty and glory that they would remain in perfect silence - the silence not of contempt, but of profound veneration.

His visage - מראהוּ mare'ēhû. This word denotes properly sight, seeing, view; then that which is seen; then appearance, form, looks Exodus 24:17; Ezekiel 1:16-28; Daniel 10:18. Here it means, his appearance, his looks. It does not necessarily refer to his face, but to his general appearance. It was so disfigured by distress as to retain scarcely the appearance of a man.

Was so marred - (משׁחת mishechath). This word properly means destruction. Here it means defaced, destroyed, disfigured. There was a disfiguration, or defacement of his aspect, more than that of man.

More than any man - (מאישׁ mē'iysh). This may either mean, more than any other man, or that he no longer retained the appearance of a man. It probably means the latter - that his visage was so disfigured that it was no longer the aspect of a man. Castellio renders it, Ut non jam sit homo, non sit unus de humano genere.

And his form - (תארו to'ărô). This word denotes a form or a figure of the body 1 Samuel 28:14. Here it denotes the figure, or the appearance, referring not to the countenance, but to the general aspect of the body.

More than the sons of men - So as to seem not to belong to people, or to be one of the human family. All this evidently refers to the disfiguration which arises from excessive grief and calamity. It means that he was broken down and distressed; that his great sorrows had left their marks on his frame so as to destroy the beautiful symmetry and proportions of the human form. We speak of being crushed with grief; of being borne down with pain; of being laden with sorrow. And we all know the effect of long-continued grief in marring the beauty of the human countenance, and in bowing down the frame. Deep emotion depicts itself on the face, and produces a permanent impression there. The highest beauty fades under long-continued trials, though at first it may seem to be set off to advantage. The rose leaves the cheek, the luster forsakes the eye, vigor departs from the frame, its erect form is bowed, and the countenance, once brilliant and beautiful, becomes marked with the deep furrows of care and anxiety.

Such seems to be the idea here. It is not indeed said that the sufferer before this had been distinguished for any extraordinary beauty - though this may not be improperly supposed - but that excessive grief had almost obliterated the traces of intelligence from the face, and destroyed the aspect of man. How well this applies to the Lord Jesus, needs not to be said. We have, indeed, no positive information in regard to his personal appearance. We are not told that he was distinguished for manliness of form, or beauty of countenance. But it is certainly no improbable supposition that when God prepared for him a body Hebrews 10:5 in which the divinity should dwell incarnate, the human form would be rendered as fit as it could be for the indwelling of the celestial inhabitant. And it is no unwarrantable supposition that perfect truth, benevolence, and purity, should depict themselves on the countenance of the Redeemer; as they will be manifested in the very aspect wherever they exist - and render him the most beautiful of human beings - for the expression of these principles and feelings in the countenance constitutes beauty (compare the notes at Isaiah 53:2). Nor is it an improbable supposition, that this beauty was marred by his long-continued and inexpressibly deep sorrows, and that he was so worn down and crushed by the sufferings which he endured as scarcely to have retained the aspect of a man.

14, 15. Summary of Messiah's history, which is set forth more in detail in the fifty-third chapter. "Just as many were astonished (accompanied with aversion, Jer 18:16; 19:8), &c.; his visage, &c.; so shall He sprinkle," &c.; Israel in this answers to its antitype Messiah, now "an astonishment and byword" (De 28:37), hereafter about to be a blessing and means of salvation to many nations (Isa 2:2, 3; Mic 5:7).

thee; his—Such changes of persons are common in Hebrew poetry.

marred—Hebrew, "disfigurement"; abstract for concrete; not only disfigured, but disfigurement itself.

more than man—Castalio translates, "so that it was no longer that of a man" (compare Ps 22:6). The more perfect we may suppose the "body prepared" (Heb 10:5) for Him by God, the sadder by contrast was the "marring" of His visage and form.

Were astonished; were struck with wonder, either,

1. At his glorious endowments, and the excellency and power of his doctrine, and his miraculous works. Or rather,

2. At his great deformity, and stupendous humiliation and calamity, as may be gathered both from the following words, and from the use of this word in Scripture, which is generally used in a bad sense, or of wondering at some extraordinary evil, as Jeremiah 18:16 19:8, and oft elsewhere; and never in a good sense, or of wondering at any thing which is extraordinarily good.

At thee; at thee, O my servant, to whom he now turneth his speech, and then turneth his speech from him, and speaks of him in the next words; such sudden changes of persons, and speaking of one and the same man sometimes in one person, and then presently in another, being very frequent in the writings of the prophets, as we have already seen in divers instances.

His visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men; he was more deformed or uncomely than any other man; which was undoubtedly verified in Christ, who, in respect of his birth, and breeding, and manner of life, was most obscure and contemptible, and therefore said to be a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people, Psalm 22:6; who was more hated and vilified by the generality of the Jews than any man upon earth, and was accounted and called by them a deceiver, a Samaritan, a blasphemer, and a devil, &c.; whose countenance also was so marred with frequent watchings, and fastings, and troubles, that he was thought to be near fifty years old when he was but about thirty, John 8:57; and was further spoiled with buffetings, and crowning with thorns, and other cruel and despiteful usages from men, and with the deep and continual sense of the burden of men’s sins, and of God’s displeasure due unto them; all which did not only oppress his spirit, but had a great influence upon the very constitution of his body.

As many were astonished at thee,.... Not so much at the miracles he wrought, the doctrines he taught, and the work he did; or at his greatness and glory, at his exaltation and dignity, though very wonderful; as at his humiliation, the mean appearance he made, the low estate he was brought into; the sufferings and death which he underwent. These words are placed between the account of his exaltation and humiliation, and may be thought to have respect to both; and indeed it is astonishing that one so great as he was, and is, should become so low as he did; and also that one that was brought so low should be raised so high:

his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men; though fairer than the children of men, as he was the immediate workmanship of the divine Spirit, and without sin; yet, what with his griefs and sorrows he bore, and troubles he met with; what with watchings and fastings, with laborious preaching, and constant travelling about to do good; what with sweat and blood, with buffetings and scourgings, never was any man's face more marred, or his form more altered, than his was.

As many were astonished at thee; his visage was so {o} marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:

(o) In the corrupt judgment of man, Christ in his person was not valued.

Verse 14. - As many were astonied at thee. The world was "astonied" to see, in One come to deliver it, no outward show of grandeur or magnificence, no special beauty or "comeliness" (Isaiah 53:2), but a Presence unattractive to the mass of men at all times, and in the end so cruelly marred and disfigured as to retain scarcely any resemblance to the ordinary form and face of man. The prophet, as Delitzsch says, sits at the foot of the cross on Calvary, and sees the Redeemer as he hung upon the accursed tree, after he had been buffeted, and crowned with thorns, and smitten, and scourged, and crucified, when his face was covered with bruises and with gore, and his frame and features distorted with agony. Isaiah 52:14The prophecy concerning him passes now into an address to him, as in Isaiah 49:8 (cf., Isaiah 49:7), which sinks again immediately into an objective tone. "Just as many were astonished at thee: so disfigured, his appearance was not human, and his form not like that of the children of men: so will he make many nations to tremble; kings will shut their mouth at him: for they see what has not been told them, and discover what they have not heard." Both Oehler and Hahn suppose that the first clause is addressed to Israel, and that it is here pointed away from its own degradation, which excited such astonishment, to the depth of suffering endured by the One man. Hahn's principal reason, which Oehler adopts, is the sudden leap that we should otherwise have to assume from the second person to the third - an example of "negligence" which we can hardly impute to the prophet. But a single glance at Isaiah 42:20 and Isaiah 1:29 is sufficient to show how little force there is in this principal argument. We should no doubt expect עליכם or עליך after what has gone before, if the nation were addressed; but it is difficult to see what end a comparison between the sufferings of the nation and those of the One man, which merely places the sufferings of the two in an external relation to one another, could be intended to answer; whilst the second kēn (so), which evidently introduces an antithesis, is altogether unexplained. The words are certainly addressed to the servant of Jehovah; and the meaning of the sicut (just as) in Isaiah 52:14, and of the sic (so) which introduces the principal sentence in Isaiah 52:15, is, that just as His degradation was the deepest degradation possible, so His glorification would be of the loftiest kind. The height of the exaltation is held up as presenting a perfect contrast to the depth of the degradation. The words, "so distorted was his face, more than that of a man," form, as has been almost unanimously admitted since the time of Vitringa, a parenthesis, containing the reason for the astonishment excited by the servant of Jehovah. Stier is wrong in supposing that this first "so" (kēn) refers to ka'ăsher (just as), in the sense of "If men were astonished at thee, there was ground for the astonishment." Isaiah 52:15 would not stand out as an antithesis, if we adopted this explanation; moreover, the thought that the fact corresponded to the impression which men received, is a very tame and unnecessary one; and the change of persons in sentences related to one another in this manner is intolerably harsh; whereas, with our view of the relation in which the sentences stand to one another, the parenthesis prepares the way for the sudden change from a direct address to a declaration. Hitherto many had been astonished at the servant of Jehovah: shâmēm, to be desolate or waste, to be thrown by anything into a desolate or benumbed condition, to be startled, confused, as it were petrified, by paralyzing astonishment (Leviticus 26:32; Ezekiel 26:16). To such a degree (kēn, adeo) was his appearance mishchath mē'ı̄sh, and his form mibbenē 'âdâm (sc., mishchath). We might take mishchath as the construct of mishchâth, as Hitzig does, since this connecting form is sometimes used (e.g., Isaiah 33:6) even without any genitive relation; but it may also be the absolute, syncopated from משׁחתתּ equals משׁחתת (Hvernick and Stier), like moshchath in Malachi 1:14, or, what we prefer, after the form mirmas (Isaiah 10:6), with the original ă, without the usual lengthening (Ewald, 160, c, Anm. 4). His appearance and his form were altogether distortion (stronger than moshchâth, distorted), away from men, out beyond men, i.e., a distortion that destroys all likeness to a man;

(Note: The church before the time of Constantine pictured to itself the Lord, as He walked on earth, as repulsive in His appearance; whereas the church after Constantine pictured Him as having quite an ideal beauty (see my tract, Jesus and Hillel, 1865, p. 4). They were both right: unattractive in appearance, though not deformed, He no doubt was in the days of His flesh; but He is ideally beautiful in His glorification. The body in which He was born of Mary was no royal form, though faith could see the doxa shining through. It was no royal form, for the suffering of death was the portion of the Lamb of God, even from His mother's womb; but the glorified One is infinitely exalted above all the idea of art.)

'ı̄sh does not signify man as distinguished from woman here, but a human being generally.

The antithesis follows in Isaiah 52:15 : viz., the state of glory in which this form of wretchedness has passed away. As a parallel to the "many" in Isaiah 52:14, we have here "many nations," indicating the excess of the glory by the greater fulness of the expression; and as a parallel to "were astonished at thee," "he shall make to tremble" (yazzeh), in other words, the effect which He produces by what He does to the effect produced by what He suffers. The hiphil hizzâh generally means to spirt or sprinkle (adspergere), and is applied to the sprinkling of the blood with the finger, more especially upon the capporeth and altar of incense on the day of atonement (differing in this respect from zâraq, the swinging of the blood out of a bowl), also to the sprinkling of the water of purification upon a leper with the bunch of hyssop (Leviticus 14:7), and of the ashes of the red heifer upon those defiled through touching a corpse (Numbers 19:18); in fact, generally, to sprinkling for the purpose of expiation and sanctification. And Vitringa, Hengstenberg, and others, accordingly follow the Syriac and Vulgate in adopting the rendering adsperget (he will sprinkle). They have the usage of the language in their favour; and this explanation also commends itself from a reference to נגוּע in Isaiah 53:4, and נגע in Isaiah 53:8 (words which are generally used of leprosy, and on account of which the suffering Messiah is called in b. Sanhedrin 98b by an emblematical name adopted from the old synagogue, "the leper of Rabbi's school"), since it yields the significant antithesis, that he who was himself regarded as unclean, even as a second Job, would sprinkle and sanctify whole nations, and thus abolish the wall of partition between Israel and the heathen, and gather together into one holy church with Israel those who had hitherto been pronounced "unclean" (Isaiah 52:1). But, on the other hand, this explanation has so far the usage of the language against it, that hizzâh is never construed with the accusative of the person or thing sprinkled (like adspergere aliqua re aliquem; since 'eth in Leviticus 4:6, Leviticus 4:17 is a preposition like ‛al, ‛el elsewhere); moreover, there would be something very abrupt in this sudden representation of the servant as a priest. Such explanations as "he will scatter asunder" (disperget, Targum, etc.), or "he will spill" (sc., their blood), are altogether out of the question; such thoughts as these would be quite out of place in a spiritual picture of salvation and glory, painted upon the dark ground we have here. The verb nâzâh signified primarily to leap or spring; hence hizzâh, with the causative meaning to sprinkle. The kal combines the intransitive and transitive meanings of the word "spirt," and is used in the former sense in Isaiah 63:3, to signify the springing up or sprouting up of any liquid scattered about in drops. The Arabic nazâ (see Ges. Thes.) shows that this verb may also be applied to the springing or leaping of living beings, caused by excess of emotion. And accordingly we follow the majority of the commentators in adopting the rendering exsilire faciet. The fact that whole nations are the object, and not merely individuals, proves nothing to the contrary, as Habakkuk 3:6 clearly shows. The reference is to their leaping up in amazement (lxx θαυμάσονται); and the verb denotes less an external than an internal movement. They will tremble with astonishment within themselves (cf., pâchădū verâgezū in Jeremiah 33:9), being electrified, as it were, by the surprising change that has taken place in the servant of Jehovah. The reason why kings "shut their mouths at him" is expressly stated, viz., what was never related they see, and what was never heard of they perceive; i.e., it was something going far beyond all that had ever been reported to them outside the world of nations, or come to their knowledge within it. Hitzig's explanation, that they do not trust themselves to begin to speak before him or along with him, gives too feeble a sense, and would lead us rather to expect לפניו than עליו. The shutting of the mouth is the involuntary effect of the overpowering impression, or the manifestation of their extreme amazement at one so suddenly brought out of the depths, and lifted up to so great a height. The strongest emotion is that which remains shut up within ourselves, because, from its very intensity, it throws the whole nature into a suffering state, and drowns all reflection in emotion (cf., yachărı̄sh in Zephaniah 3:17). The parallel in Isaiah 49:7 is not opposed to this; the speechless astonishment, at what is unheard and inconceivable, changes into adoring homage, as soon as they have become to some extent familiar with it. The first turn in the prophecy closes here: The servant of Jehovah, whose inhuman sufferings excite such astonishment, is exalted on high; so that from utter amazement the nations tremble, and their kings are struck dumb.

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