Isaiah 49

1 ATTEND, O islands, unto Me; and hearken, ye peoples, from afar: Jehovah hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath He made mention of my name.

VERSE 1. “Islands” signify those who are in Truths, and “peoples from afar” those who are in Goods, and, abstractedly, Truths and Goods, both in the natural man; “from afar” is predicated of Goods which are in the natural man, but what is “near” of Goods in the spiritual man. “Peoples” here signify Goods, because in the original it is a different term from that by which Truths are signified. A. E. 406. See also A. C. 1158, 2709.
Verses 1, 12. By the “islands,” and by the “peoples from afar,” and “from the north and from the sea,” are understood the Gentiles or nations with whom the church was to be established. Hence it is evident that externals are distant from internals, and stand, as it were, afar off; hence it is that, in the Word, by “afar off” is signified the external, or what is removed from the internal, as in the above passage, and in the following:-“Hear, O ye that are afar off, what I have done; and acknowledge, O ye that are near, My power.” (Isa. xxxiii. 13.) By those who are “afar off” are there understood the nations or Gentiles, because remote from internal Truths; and by the “near” are understood those who are of the church, and in Truths from the Word. A. E. 1133.
As to “islands,” see Chap. xli. 5, Exposition.
Verses 1,5. The Lord, in many parts of the Word, is called “Creator,” “Maker,” and ” Former from the womb,” and also “Redeemer,” by reason that He creates man anew, reforms, regenerates; and redeems. It may be supposed that the Lord is so called because He created man, and forms him in the womb, but still it is a spiritual creation and formation which is here understood; for the Word is not only natural, but also spiritual,-natural for men, who are natural, and spiritual for the angels, who are spiritual, as may also appear from this consideration, that the things here said are said concerning Israel, and, in the supreme sense, concerning the Lord. By “Israel” is understood the church, thus every man of the church; and inasmuch as the Lord knows the quality of every one as to the Good of love and the Truth of faith, therefore it is said-” Jehovah hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath He made mention of my name.” By “calling and knowing the name” of anyone, is signified to know his quality; “from the womb” denotes as to the Good of love, and “from the bowels of my mother,” as to Truths from that Good. By “Jacob,” who shall be brought back unto Him, and “Israel,” who shall be gathered unto Him, is signified the church; by “Jacob” the external church, and by “Israel” the internal,—the latter being in the spiritual man, the former in the natural. A. E. 710.
These words also treat of the Lord. To “make mention of His name” is to instruct as to His quality. A. C. 2009.

2 And He hath set my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand hath He concealed me, and He hath made me a polished shaft; in His quiver hath He hid me;

Verse 2. Where by the “mouth” of the prophet is signified Divine Truth, wherefore it is compared to a “sharp sword,” whereby is understood its penetrating power, and dispersing and destroying the false. A, E. 908.
In the shadow of His hand hath He concealed me, &c.-Treating also concerning the Lord. By the “sharp sword” is signified Truth dispersing the false; by the “polished shaft” is denoted Truth dispersing the evil; and by the “quiver” is signified the Word. Hence it is evident what is meant by “He hath set my mouth like a sharp sword, and hath made me a polished shaft, and in His quioer hath He hid me,” viz., that in Him and from Him is Divine Truth, by which falses and evils are dispersed, and that in Him and from Him is the Word, where and whence those Truths are. A.E.357.
The “sharp sword ” is Truth fighting; and the “polished shaft” is the Truth of doctrine. A. C. 2799.

3 And He hath said unto me, Thou art My servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.

Verses 3, 6. Israel, in whom I will be glorified.-Meaning the Divine Human of the Lord. A. C. 3441.

4 And I said, I have laboured in vain; for nought, and for vanity, I have spent my strength: nevertheless my judgment is with Jehovah, and the recompense of my work with my God.
5 And now [thus] saith Jehovah, my Former from the womb to be His servant, to bring back Jacob unto Him, and that Israel unto Him may be gathered: then shall I be glorious in the eyes of Jehovah, and my God will be my strength:

Verse 4. Speaking of the establishment of the New Church from the Lord. That it could not be established with the Jewish nation, because Truths could not be received by that nation from any spiritual affection, is understood by “I said, I have laboured in vain; for nought [or emptiness], and for vanity, I have spent my strength.” That still a spiritual church is provided by the Lord, viz., with the Gentiles, is signified by “My judgment is with Jehovah, and the recompense of my work with my God.” By “recompense” is here signified the church, which is in the spiritual affection of Truth; by “labour” and ‘by “work” is understood the combat of the Lord against the hells; and the subjugation of them, whereby the Lord restored the equilibrium between heaven and hell, in which man can receive Truth and become spiritual; concerning which equilibrium, see the work on Heaven and Hell, n. 589-603, and in the small work on the Last Judgrnent, n. 33, 34, 73, 74. A. E. 695.

6 And He said, It is a light thing that Thou shouldst be My Servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: [but] I will also give Thee for a light to the nations, to be My salvation to the end of the earth.
7 Thus saith Jehovah, the Redeemer of Israel, his Holy One; to Him who is despised in soul, whom the nation abhorreth; to the Servant of rulers: Kings shall see Him, and shall rise up; princes also, and they shall bow themselves down; for the sake of Jehovah, who is faithful; of the Holy One of Israel, for He hath chosen Thee.

Verse 6. [These words seem to imply that the Lord, or Jehovah in His Humanity, would not only” raise up the tribes of Israel,” &c., that is, establish the true church, but that from Him should come the “light” and “salvation” for all nations and peoples, and for the entire universe. That the tribes of Israel and the Jews will not again, in a literal sense, be gathered to their own land, as is supposed by many from not knowing the spiritual sense of the Word, can be abundantly proved. See Chap. lxvi. 20, Exposition.]
My salvation to the end of the earth.-See above, Chap. xlii. 10-12, Exposition.

8 Thus saith Jehovah, In the time of acceptance have I answered Thee, and in the day of salvation have I helped Thee; and I will preserve Thee, and give Thee for a covenant of the people; to restore the land, to give possession of the desolate heritages:

Verse 8. I will give Thee for a covenant of the people, &c.-To “give for a covenant of the people,” signifies that conjunction may be with the Lord and by Him; to “restore the land,” is to restore the church; and to “give possession of the desolate heritages,” signifies to restore the Goods and Truths of the church which were destroyed. A. E. 701.
As to the” Covenant,” see above, Chap. xlii. 6, Exposition.
Verses 8, 13. I will give Thee for a covenant of the people, to restore the land. Sing, O ye heavens; and rejoice, O earth; ye mountains, break forth into song, &c.—Treating of the Lord and of His advent. The establishment of the church by Him is signified by “I will give Thee for a covenant of the people, to restore the land;” to “restore the land” denoting to re-establish the church. It is well known that the Lord did not restore the land to the Jewish people, but that He established the church arnongst the Gentiles. The joy in consequence thereof is described by “Sing, O ye heavens; rejoice, O earth; ye mountains, break forth into song.” By the “heavens” are understood the heavens where are the angels who are in the interior Truths of the church; by the “earth” is understood the church with men; and by the “mountains,” those who are in the Good of love to the Lord. A. E. 304.

9 Saying to the prisoners, Go forth; to those that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and on all the eminences shall be their pasture.

Verse 9. These words treat manifestly of the Lord. The “prisoners” [or the bound] are, in particular, those who were detained in the lower earth until the advent of the Lord, and who were then elevated into heaven; and, in general, those who are in Good, and kept, as it were, bound by falses, from which, however, they endeavour to come forth. To “feed in the ways” is to be instructed in Truths; that “ways” are Truths, see A. C. 627, 2333; and that to “feed” is to be instructed, n. 5201. “On all eminences shall be their pasture,” signifies to be nourished in Good; for “eminences,” like mountains, are the Goods of love. A. C. 6854. See also 6078.
By “the bound [or prisoners], to whom He shall say, Go forth,”and by “those that are in darkness, to whom He shall say, Shew yourselves,” are signified the Gentiles who have lived in Good according to their religion, and yet were in falses from ignorance, who are called “bound” when they are in temptations; “darkness” denotes
falses from ignorance. A. E. 481.
As to the “lower earth” in the world of spirits, and the “prisoners,” or the “bound,” who are detained there until they are devastated of their false principles, see Chap. xxiv. 22, Exposition.

10 They shall not hunger, neither shall they thirst; neither shall, the heat nor the sun smite them: for He that hath mercy on them shall lead them, and, shall guide them to springs of water.

Verse 10. Any one who thinks deeply may see that hunger and thirst for natural meat and drink are not here meant, neither the natural sun and heat which shall not smite them, nor natural springs of water to which they shall be led; by “hunger” and “thirst,” therefore, is signified to hunger and thirst for such things as belong to eternal life, or which communicate that life, which, in general, have reference to the Good of love and the Truth of faith, “hunger” relating to the former, and “thirst” to the latter. The “heat” and the “sun” signify the heat derived from false principles and the love of evil; for these take away all spiritual hunger and thirst. The “springs of water, to which the Lord will lead them,” signify illustration in all Truth; a “spring” or “fountain” denoting the Word and doctrine from the Word; “water” denoting Truth; and to “lead,” when predicated of the Lord, denoting to illustrate. From these considerations it may appear what is signified by the words of the Lord in John:-“I am the Bread of Life: He who cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he who believeth on Me shall never thirst;” (vi. 35.) where that to “hunger” is to come to the Lord; and that to “thirst” is to believe on Him, is evident; to “come to the Lord” is to do His commandments, A. E. 386.
That “the heat shall not smite them,” signifies that the false originating in concupiscence shall not affect them. A. E. 481.

11 And I will make all My mountains a way, and My highways shall be exalted.

Verse 11, 13. By “mountains,” in the plural number, are understood both mountains and hills, thus both the Good of love and the Good of charity. The “mountains and hills being made into a way, and the highways being exalted,” signifies that they who are in those Goods shall be in genuine Truths,-to be “made or set into a way” signifying to be in Truths; and for “the highways to be exalted,” is meant to be in genuine Truths, for “ways” and “highways” signify Truths, which are said to be “exalted” by Good; and Truths derived from Good are genuine Truths. Their joy of heart in consequence thereof is signified by “Sing, O ye heavens; and rejoice, O earth; “internal joy by “Sing, O ye heavens,” and external joy by “Rejoice, O earth.” Confessions from joy originating in the Good of love, are signified by “Ye mountains, break forth into song.” That this was on account of reformation and regeneration, is signified by “for Jehovah hath comforted His people.” That the mountains in the world are not here understood, is evident, for to what purpose would it be for “mountains to be made into a way,” for “the highways to be exalted,” and likewise for” the mountains to break forth into singing”? A. E. 405.

12 Lo! these shall come from afar; and lo! these from the north and from the sea; and these from the land of Sinim.

Verse 12. The “north” signifies those who are in obscurity as to Truth; the “west” [or the sea], those who are in obscurity as to Good; and they are said to “come from afar” who are remote from the light which is from the Lord. A. C. 3708.
As to the “east,” “west,” “north,” and “south,” see Chap. xliii. 5, 6, Exposition.
From the land of Sinim.-[It is not known what country “Sinim” designated, but it is probable that it was adopted as an appellation for the south, as the “sea” in this verse, and frequently elsewhere, is for the west. In this way the four quarters are designated,-“from afar” denoting the east, or those who are remote from the acknowledgment and love of the Lord; and “Sinim,” those who are remote from the light or intelligence of Truth proceeding from that love.]

13 Sing, O ye heavens; and rejoice, O earth; ye mountains, break forth into song: for Jehovah hath comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted.

Verse 13. See Chap. xliv. 23, Exposition.

14 But Zion saith, Jehovah hath forsaken me, and the Lord hath forgotten me,
15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, these may forget; but I will not forget thee.

Verses 14, 15. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion. on the son of her womb?-This is said because in the spiritual sense regeneration is understood, wherefore comparison is made with a “woman” and “her love towards her infant.” The case is the same with those who are regenerated by the Lord. A. E. 710.

16 Behold, on the palms of My hands have I graven thee; thy walls are continually before Me.

Verse 16. To “engrave” or to “write on stone,” also on the “palms of the hands,” signifies perpetual remembrance. “Thy walls are continually before Me;”-“walls” are the Truths of faith. (A. C. 6419, 9841.) See, as to the meaning of a “city,” “walls,” “bulwarks,” &c., Chap. xxvi. 1, Exposition.

17 They shall hasten thy sons; thy destroyers and thy devastators shall depart from thee.

Verses 17, 18. These things are said of “Zion,” by which is signified the celestial church. By “the sons who shall make haste” are understood the Truths of that church. That “sons” are Truths has been frequently shewn above; hence it is said that “she [Zion] should clothe herself with them all, as with an ornament; and should bind them about her, as a bride [her jewels],”-which words can be said of, the Truths of the church, but not of the “sons” of Zion. A. C. 10,540.
Verses 17, 22. They shall hasten thy sons; thy destroyers and thy devastators shall depart from thee, &c.-The establishment of a New Church by the Lord is treated of in these words. By “the sons whom they shall hasten, and whom they shall bring in their bosom,” and by “the daughters whom they shall carry upon their shoulder,” are understood all who are in Truths and in the affection thereof and abstractedly from persons, Truths themselves, and their affections, with those who will be of the New Church. “Thy destroyers and thy devastators” signify the falses of evil; that these will be removed is signified: by “they shall depart from thee.” A. E. 724.

18 Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all these gather themselves together, they come to thee. As I live, saith Jehovah, surely thou shalt clothe thyself with them all, as with an ornament; and shalt bind them on thee, as a bride [her jewels],
19 For thy wastes and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow for the inhabitants; and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away.
20 The sons, of whom thou wast bereaved, shall yet say in thine ears, This place is too narrow for me; make room for me that I may dwell.
21 And thou shalt say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these? I was bereaved [of my sons], and solitary; an exile, and an outcast; and these, who hath nourished them up? Lo! I was forsaken, and alone; these, where were they?

Verses 18, 20, 21. These words treat of “Zion,” or of the celestial church and of its fructification after vastation. The “sons of bereavement.” stand for Truths, of which in vastation she was deprived, but which were afterwards restored and immensely increased. (A. C. 5536.) In the whole of this chapter the desolation of those who are regenerated is treated of, and of their regeneration and fructification after desolation and at length, [in ver. 26] of the punishment of those who desolate or oppress. A. C. 5376.

22 Thus saith the Lord Jehovih, Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations, and to the peoples will I exalt My standard: and they shall bring thy sons in their bosom, and thy daughters shall be borne on their shoulder.

Verses 22, 23. These words treat of the Lord, and of those who worship and adore Him. To “lift up the hand to the nations and to the peoples a standard,” is to bring to Himself all who are in the Goods of love and in Truths hence derived; of them it is said that “they should bring their sons in the bosom, and their daughters on the shoulder;” “sons” are the affections of Truth, and “daughters” are affections of Good; of them it is also said that “kings should be their nursing fathers [or nourishers], and their queens [or princesses]their nursing mothers;” “kings” are the veriest Truths and “queens” their Goods; and because man is regenerated and also nourised by these Truths and Goods, it is said they shall be thy nourlshers and thy nurses [giving suck]. This is the internal sense of these words; who, without that sense, could understand them? That man is regenerated by Truths, and by a life according to them, see Chap. i, 2; viii. 3, Exposition. A. E. 175.
The whole of this chapter treats of the advent of the Lord and of the salvation of those who receive Him, as is evident from ver. 6-9; consequently it is not the salvation of the Jews which is here treated of much less their restoration to the land of Canaan. That the Jewish nation was not understood in the passages here adduced, may also appear from this circumstance, that it was the worst, of all nations, and idolatrous in heart; and that they were not introduced into the land of Canaan on account of any goodness and justice of heart, but on account of the promise made to their fathers; likewise that there were no Truths and Goods of the church with them, but falses and evils; and that they were therefore rejected and expelled from the land of Canaan, as may appear from all those passages in the Word wherever that nation is described. A. E. 433. See Chap. lxvi. 20, 22, Exposition.
Verse 22. For the meaning of a “standard,” see Chap. xiii. 2, Exposition.

23 And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: with their faces to the earth they shall bow down unto thee, and shall lick the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am Jehovah, and that they who trust in Me shall not be ashamed.

Verse 23. Because “kings” signify those who are in Truths derived from the Good of love to the Lord, therefore it became a custom from ancient times that “kings,” when they were crowned; should be distinguished by certain insignia, which signify Truths derived from Good, as that a “king” should be anointed with oil, that he should wear a crown of gold, that he should hold a sceptre in his right hand, that he should be clothed with a purple robe, that he should sit upon a throne of silver, and that he should ride with his insignia upon a white horse; for “oil” signifies Good, from which is Truth, see A. C. 886, 4638; a “crown of gold” upon the head [is wisdom, and] has a similar signification, n. 9930; a “sceptre,” which is a staff, is the power of Truth from Good, n. 4581, 4876; the “robe,” divine Truths in the spiritual kingdom, n. 9825; and “purple,” the spiritual love of Good, n. 9467; a “throne,” the kingdom of Truth derived from Good, n. 5315, 6397; “silver,” that Truth itself, n. 1551, 1552; and a “white horse,” the understanding illustrated therefrom, as may be seen in the work concerning the White Horse, n. 1-5. (See also above, Chap. xxxi, 1, Exposition.) That rituals about the coronation of ” kings” involve such things, but that the knowledge thereof is at this day lost, see also the Arcana Coelcstia, n. 4581, 4966. A. E. 31.

24 Shall the prey be taken away from the mighty? or shall the captivity of the just be delivered?
25 Yea, thus saith Jehovah, Even the captivity of the mighty shall be taken away, and the spoil of the terrible shall be delivered: for with him that contendeth with thee I will contend, and thy sons I will save.

Verses 24, 25. These words treat of the Lord, and of the bringing back of the sons of Zion from captivity, but by the “sons of Zion” are meant those who are in love to the Lord, and thence in Truths. That they were secluded from Truths by those who strenuously confirmed falses, and that still they were liberated by the Lord, is signified by ” Shall the prey be taken away from the mighty? or shall the captivity of the just be delivered? Yea, thus saith Jehovah, Even the captivity of the mighty shall be taken away, and the spoil of the terrible shall be delivered: for with him that contendeth with thee I will contend, and thy sons I will save.” A.E.811.
[The “prey of the mighty,” the “captivity of the just,” and the “spoil of the terrible,” would seem specifically to denote those who are held captive in the lower earth of the spiritual world, or in vastations, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, “went to preach;” (1 Peter iii. 19.) and whom He delivered from those who are here called the” mighty” and the “terrible,” that is, the evils and falses by which they had been held captive. The “captivity of the just” denotes those who, although in false principles, were nevertheless in good intentions, of which “justice” is here predicated. See, as to the further meaning of “vastations,” and the nature of those who undergo them, Chap. xxiv, 22, Exposition.]

26 And I will feed thine oppressors with their own flesh; and with their own blood, as with new wine, shall they be drunken: and all flesh shall know that I Jehovah am thy Saviour, and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

Verse 26. That by “flesh,” in a bad sense, is signified the proprium of man’s will which, viewed in itself, is evil, may appear from the above and from the followIng passages:-“A man shall eat the flesh of his own arm.” (Isa. ix. 20.) And in Jeremiah:-“I will feed you with the flesh of their sons, and with the flesh of their daughters; and they shall devour every man the flesh of his companion.” (xix. 9.) And in Zechariah:”-The rest shall eat everyone the flesh of another.” (xi. 9.) A. E. 1082. See Chap. ix. 19-21, Exposition.
To “feed oppressors with their own flesh” is to feed thrm with their own evil. A. C. 8409.

Author: Emanuel Swedenborg [Compiled by J. H. Smithson 1860]