A Commentary, Critical, Practical, and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments, by Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset and David Brown  at sacred-texts.com
isa 52:1FIRST THROUGH THIRTEEN VERSES CONNECTED WITH FIFTY-FIRST CHAPTER. (Isa. 52:1-15)
strength--as thy adornment; answering to "beautiful garments" in the parallel clause. Arouse thyself from dejection and assume confidence.
the holy city-- (Neh 11:1; Rev 21:2).
no more . . . unclean-- (Isa 35:8; Isa 60:21; Joe 3:17; Rev 21:27). A prophecy never yet fulfilled.
uncircumcised--spiritually (Eze 44:9; Act 7:51).
isa 52:2from the dust--the seat of mourners (Job 2:12-13).
arise, and sit--namely, in a more dignified place: on a divan or a throne [LOWTH], after having shaken off the dust gathered up by the flowing dress when seated on the ground; or simply, "Arise, and sit erect" [MAURER].
bands of . . . neck--the yoke of thy captivity.
isa 52:3As you became your foes' servants, without their paying any price for you (Jer 15:13), so they shall release you without demanding any price or reward (Isa 45:13), (where Cyrus is represented as doing so: a type of their final restoration gratuitously in like manner). So the spiritual Israel, "sold under sin," gratuitously (Rom 7:14), shall be redeemed also gratuitously (Isa 55:1).
isa 52:4My people--Jacob and his sons.
went down--Judea was an elevated country compared with Egypt.
sojourn--They went there to stay only till the famine in Canaan should have ceased.
Assyrian--Sennacherib. Remember how I delivered you from Egypt and the Assyrian; what, then, is to prevent Me from delivering you out of Babylon (and the mystical Babylon and the Antichrist in the last days)?
without cause--answering to "for naught" in Isa 52:5; it was an act of gratuitous oppression in the present case, as in that case.
isa 52:5what have I here--that is, what am I called on to do? The fact "that My people is taken away (into captivity; Isa 49:24-25) for naught" (by gratuitous oppression, Isa 52:4; also Isa 52:3, and see on Isa 52:3) demands My interposition.
they that rule--or "tyrannize," namely, Babylon, literal and mystical.
make . . . to howl--or, raise a cry of exultation over them [MAURER].
blasphemed--namely, in Babylon: God's reason for delivering His people, not their goodness, but for the sake of His holy name (Eze 20:9, Eze 20:14).
isa 52:6shall know in that day--when Christ shall reveal Himself to Israel sensibly; the only means whereby their obstinate unbelief shall be overcome (Psa 102:16; Zac 12:10; Zac 14:5).
isa 52:7beautiful . . . feet--that is, The advent of such a herald seen on the distant "mountains" (see on Isa 40:9; Isa 41:27; Isa 25:6-7; Sol 2:17) running in haste with the long-expected good tidings, is most grateful to the desolated city (Nah 1:15).
good tidings--only partially applying to the return from Babylon. Fully, and antitypically, the Gospel (Luk 2:10-11), "beginning at Jerusalem" (Luk 24:17), "the city of the great King" (Mat 5:35), where Messiah shall, at the final restoration of Israel, "reign" as peculiarly Zion's God ("Thy God reigneth"; compare Psa 2:6).
isa 52:8watchmen--set on towers separated by intervals to give the earliest notice of the approach of any messenger with tidings (compare Isa 21:6-8). The Hebrew is more forcible than English Version, "The voice of thy watchmen" (exclamatory as in Sol 2:8). "They lift up their voice! together they sing."
eye to eye--that is, close at hand, and so clearly [GESENIUS]; Num 14:14, "face to face"; Num 12:8, "mouth to mouth." Compare Co1 13:12; Rev 22:4, of which Simeon's sight of the Saviour was a prefiguration (Luk 2:30). The watchmen, spiritually, are ministers and others who pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Isa 62:6-7),
bring again--that is, restore. Or else, "return to" [MAURER].
isa 52:9(Isa 14:7-8; Isa 42:11).
redeemed--spiritually and nationally (Isa 48:20).
isa 52:10made bare . . . arm--metaphor from warriors who bare their arm for battle (Eze 4:7).
all . . . earth . . . see . . . salvation of . . . God--The deliverance wrought by God for Israel will cause all nations to acknowledge the Lord (Isa 66:18-20). The partial fulfilment (Luk 3:6) is a forerunner of the future complete fulfilment.
isa 52:11(Isa 48:20; Zac 2:6-7). Long residence in Babylon made many loath to leave it: so as to mystical Babylon (Rev 18:4).
ye . . . that bear . . . vessels of the Lord--the priests and Levites, whose office it was to carry the vessels of the temple (Jer 27:18). Nebuchadnezzar had carried them to Babylon (Ch2 36:18). Cyrus restored them (Ezr 1:7-11).
be . . . clean--by separating yourselves wholly from Babylonian idolaters, mystical and literal.
isa 52:12not . . . with haste--as when ye left Egypt (Exo 12:33, Exo 12:39; Deu 16:3; compare Note, see on Isa 28:16). Ye shall have time to cleanse yourselves and make deliberate preparation for departure.
Lord--Jehovah, as your Leader in front (Isa 40:3; Exo 23:20; Mic 2:13).
rereward--literally, "gather up," that is, to bring up the rear of your host. The transition is frequent from the glory of Messiah in His advent to reign, to His humiliation in His advent to suffer. Indeed, so are both advents accounted one, that He is not said, in His second coming, to be about to return, but to come.
isa 52:13Here the fifty-third chapter ought to begin, and the fifty-second chapter end with Isa 52:12. This section, from here to end of the fifty-third chapter settles the controversy with the Jews, if Messiah be the person meant; and with infidels, if written by Isaiah, or at any time before Christ. The correspondence with the life and death of Jesus Christ is so minute, that it could not have resulted from conjecture or accident. An impostor could not have shaped the course of events so as to have made his character and life appear to be a fulfilment of it. The writing is, moreover, declaredly prophetic. The quotations of it in the New Testament show: (1) that it was, before the time of Jesus, a recognized part of the Old Testament; (2) that it refers to Messiah (Mat 8:17; Mar 15:28; Luk 22:37; Joh 12:38; Act 8:28-35; Rom 10:16; Pe1 2:21-25). The indirect allusions to it still more clearly prove the Messianic interpretation; so universal was that interpretation, that it is simply referred to in connection with the atoning virtue of His death, without being formally quoted (Mar 9:12; Rom 4:25; Co1 15:3; Co2 5:21; Pe1 1:19; Pe1 2:21-25; Jo1 3:5). The genuineness of the passage is certain; for the Jews would not have forged it, since it is opposed to their notion of Messiah, as a triumphant temporal prince. The Christians could not have forged it; for the Jews, the enemies of Christianity, are "our librarians" [PALEY]. The Jews try to evade its force by the figment of two Messiahs, one a suffering Messiah (Ben Joseph), the other a triumphant Messiah (Ben David). HILLEL maintained that Messiah has already come in the person of Hezekiah. BUXTORF states that many of the modern Rabbins believe that He has been come a good while, but will not manifest Himself because of the sins of the Jews. But the ancient Jews, as the Chaldee paraphrast, Jonathan, refer it to Messiah; so the Medrasch Tauchuma (a commentary on the Pentateuch); also Rabbi Moses Haddarschan (see HENGSTENBERG, Christology of the Old Testament). Some explain it of the Jewish people, either in the Babylonish exile, or in their present sufferings and dispersion. Others, the pious portion of the nation taken collectively, whose sufferings made a vicarious satisfaction for the ungodly. Others, Isaiah, or Jeremiah [GESENIUS], the prophets collectively. But an individual is plainly described: he suffers voluntarily, innocently, patiently, and as the efficient cause of the righteousness of His people, which holds good of none other but Messiah (Isa 53:4-6, Isa 53:9, Isa 53:11; contrast Jer 20:7; Jer 15:10-21; Psa 137:8-9). Isa 53:9 can hold good of none other. The objection that the sufferings (Isa 53:1-10) referred to are represented as past, the glorification alone as future (Isa 52:13-15; Isa 53:11-12) arises from not seeing that the prophet takes his stand in the midst of the scenes which he describes as future. The greater nearness of the first advent, and the interval between it and the second, are implied by the use of the past tense as to the first, the future as to the second.
Behold--awakening attention to the striking picture of Messiah that follows (compare Joh 19:5, Joh 19:14).
my servant--Messiah (Isa 42:1).
deal prudently--rather, "prosper" [GESENIUS] as the parallel clause favors (Isa 53:10). Or, uniting both meanings, "shall reign well" [HENGSTENBERG]. This verse sets forth in the beginning the ultimate issue of His sufferings, the description of which follows: the conclusion (Isa 53:12) corresponds; the section (Isa 52:13; Isa 53:12) begins as it ends with His final glory.
extolled--elevated (Mar 16:19; Eph 1:20-22; Pe1 3:22).
isa 52:14Summary 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; Jer 19:8), &c.; his visage, &c.; so shall He sprinkle," &c.; Israel in this answers to its antitype Messiah, now "an astonishment and byword" (Deu 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 Psa 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.
isa 52:15sprinkle many--GESENIUS, for the antithesis to "be astonished," translates, "shall cause . . . to exult." But the word universally in the Old Testament means either to sprinkle with blood, as the high priest makes an expiation (Lev 4:6; Lev 16:18-19); or with water, to purify (Eze 36:25; compare as to the Spirit, Act 2:33), both appropriate to Messiah (Joh 13:8; Heb 9:13-14; Heb 10:22; Heb 12:24; Pe1 1:2). The antithesis is sufficient without any forced rendering. Many were astonished; so many (not merely men, but) nations shall be sprinkled. They were amazed at such an abject person claiming to be Messiah; yet it is He who shall justify and purify. Men were dumb with the amazement of scorn at one marred more than the lowest of men, yet the highest: even kings (Isa 49:7, Isa 49:23) shall be dumb with awe and veneration ("shut . . . mouths"; Job 29:9-10; Mic 7:16).
that . . . not . . . told them--the reason why kings shall so venerate them; the wonders of redemption, which had not been before told them, shall then be announced to them, wonders such as they had never heard or seen parallelled (Isa 55:1; Rom 15:21; Rom 16:25-26).
The speaker, according to HORSLEY, personates the repenting Jews in the latter ages of the world coming over to the faith of the Redeemer; the whole is their penitent confession. This view suits the context (Isa 52:7-9), which is not to be fully realized until Israel is restored. However, primarily, it is the abrupt exclamation of the prophet: "Who hath believed our report," that of Isaiah and the other prophets, as to Messiah? The infidel's objection from the unbelief of the Jews is anticipated and hereby answered: that unbelief and the cause of it (Messiah's humiliation, whereas they looked for One coming to reign) were foreseen and foretold.