I was surprised by the universal vision of Isaiah/Yeshayahu 60. Whereas I had previously read this passage, I hadn’t really understood it before, and this time the text, especially the dynamic between “Israel” and the kings of the other nations, really stood out to me in a profound way, and exemplifies the History and Plurality aspects of the Hebraic map.
The chapter opens, “Arise, shine, for your light has come.” Previously, I had been sure about whom this spoke, but I know understood it to be the prophetic voice speaking to Israel and Jerusalem, specifically. Although sometimes these prophetic texts can be difficult to discern with so many layers of discourse occurring, the context can only be none other than Jerusalem. Additionally, the HCSB Bible text adds a footnote identifying the object of “you” as “Jerusalem.”
The chapter describes how nations, and kings, and caravans of camels will stream into Jerusalem day and night, carrying the riches of east and west. This is certainly a cosmic vision, with a clear King reigning from Jerusalem.
“Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your radiance. Raise your eyes and look around: they gather all around you!” It describes how the “riches of the sea will become yours,” and “the wealth of nations will come to you.” This is surely an impressive vision of how the glories of the nations will come to Jerusalem, with caravans coming from Midian, Ephah, and Sheba, gold and frankincense, flocks from Kedar, and rams from Nebaioth, cedars from Lebanon, and even ships laden with silver and gold from Tarshish. The previous nations are in the Arabian peninsula, and Tarshish is believed to be in Spain, so it’s from one end of the Mediterranean to another. And these other kings are subjects or vassals of the One King reigning at Jerusalem: they build His walls and serve Him (v. 10).
This incredible vision includes that the sun will no longer set, which matches the vision of Revelation 21, where Jesus is the light of the city. Violence is gone, and the gates are open forever.
Interestingly, there is a theme that was picked up by America’s Founding Fathers. Verse 4 implies that the dispersed tribes of Israel will return to the land: that “your sons will come from far away, and your daughters will be carried on the hip,” the latter which carries an idea of child-rearing, which is repeated in verse 16: “You will nurse on the milk of nations, and nurse at the breast of kings.” This image of Israel being nursed or suckled by the nations was also stated in Isaiah 49:23, which reads, in the King James: “And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers.” The founding Fathers, including Benjamin Franklin, quoted this passage in some of their writings, applying it to the fledgling nation of America. Apparently, they saw America as inheriting the wealth and the “milk” of the other European nations. But in this context, perhaps it refers to how the dispersed children of Israel were reared by other lands and other nations (just as Daniel and Esther were reared in pagan contexts), but return to Israel for their final redemption.