(1) The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them . . .—The desolation of the chief enemy of Israel is contrasted with the renewed beauty of Israel’s own inheritance. The two last words are better omitted. The three nouns express varying degrees of the absence of culture, the wild pasture-land, the bare moor, the sandy steppe.
Shall . . . blossom as the rose.—Better, as the narcissus, but the primrose and the crocus (Colchicum autumnale) have also been suggested. The words paint the beauty of the chosen land flourishing once more as “the garden of Jehovah” (Genesis 13:10), and therefore a fit type of that which is in a yet higher sense the “Paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7).
In the habitation of dragons . . .—Better, as elsewhere, jackals, which had their lair in the sandy desert.
Shall be grass with reeds and rushes.—Better, grass shall grow as (or unto) reeds and rushes, the well-watered soil giving even to common herbage an intensified fertility.
The way of holiness . . .—The name of the road confirms the interpretation just given. There was to be a true Via Sacra to the earthly temple, as the type of that eternal Temple, not made with hands, which also was in the prophet’s thoughts. Along that road there would be no barbarous invaders polluting the ground they trod, no Jews ceremonially or spiritually unclean. The picture of the heavenly Jerusalem (Revelation 21:27) into which “there entereth nothing that defileth,” presents a like feature. It shall be for them, i.e. . . . It is appointed for those, for whosoever walketh therein (the Hebrew verb is in the singular). Then, in strict order, comes the final clause: Even the simple ones shall not lose their way. A curious parallel is found in Ecclesiastes 10:15, where “he knoweth not how to go to the city,” is one of the notes of the man who is void of understanding.
The redeemed . . . (10) . . . the ransomed.—The Hebrew words express simply the idea of release and freedom, without implying, as the English words do, a payment as its condition.
Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.—The words have a special interest as being the closing utterance of Isaiah’s political activity, written, therefore, probably, in his old age, and in the midst of much trouble, whether he wrote at the close of Hezekiah’s reign, or the beginning of Manasseh’s, which must have been sufficiently dark and gloomy. (See 2 Chronicles 32:26; 2 Chronicles 33:1-10.) The hopes of the prophet were, however, inextinguishable, and they formed a natural starting-point for the words: “Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people,” with which the second collection opens, the intermediate chapters being obviously of the nature of an historical appendix. They find their echo in Revelation 7:17, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”