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Relationship to Isaiah. The relationship of Chapter 52 to the rest of Isaiah is discussed at Isaiah.
Story. Chapter 52 consists of ____ major sections:
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 52 include:
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- Isa 52:1: Put on thy strength, beautiful garments. The Heb. beged, translated here as garments, is a very generic term used throughout the Bible for clothing or raiment of any kind, ranging from the simplest sackcloth to the finest linens, and from the filthiest of rags to the robes of the high priest. In this case, its use in the construct state is more literally rendered, garments of beauty or robes of honor. The parallel with strength indicates that the sense is more than simply; "Put on your best clothes." The word for beautiful is tifarah (p-a-r), which has been translated variously as beauty, glory or honor. For example: Isa. 60:7, the house of my glory; Ex. 28:2, Aaron's holy (kodesh) garments were for glory and for beauty / honor (although it is not strictly a cultic term).
- Isa 52:2: Arise and sit down. Compare the king of Nineveh who, in response to the word of God, arises from his throne and then covers himself with sackcloth and sits in ashes (Jonah 3:6).
- Isa 52:7: How beautiful upon the mountains. Heb. mah-nahvoo 'al-heharim. Literally the reading is, "How / beautiful are they (ie., the feet of the messengers) / upon / the mountains." The Hebrew word here for "beautiful" occurs only three times in the Old Testament, and only twice pronounced nahvoo (the other occurrence is Song of Solomon 1:10). The verb (nun - alef - heh) is thought to mean "be comely, be fitting." This passage is probably the source of the city name Nauvoo.
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Prompts for life application
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Prompts for further study
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- Isa 52:1: Who are the uncircumcised and unclean?
- Isa 52:2: What dust is Israel to shake off of itself? Does referring back to v. 23 give you any ideas? What would shaking the dust off be a symbol of? Does this reference help us understand references such as D&C 24:15; 60:15; and 75:20 (as well as Matt 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5; Acts 13:51)?
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- Isa 52:13ff: Substitute king ritual. See John Walton's The Imagery of the Substitute King Ritual In Isaiah's Fourth Servant Song in the Journal of Biblical Literature for a discussion of how Isa 52:13-Isa 53:12 relates to ancient substitute king rituals. Walton argues that the substitute king ritual—where a substitute dresses as a king to attract the effects of evil omens—serves as background context for this passage. Walton depicts Isaiah as not simply describing a substitute king ritual ,but "representing what an ideal anointed monarch would look like" (p. 743). In this way, Walton implicitly contests non-messianic readings of this passage.
Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.