OT Encounters: Isaiah 61:10-62:3 – Wedding Garments

By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament text for this Sunday, December 31, 2017, is from the book of the prophet Isaiah. The text is Isaiah 61:10-62:3, which forms a beautiful portion of the fifth Servant Song in Isaiah. In this periscope, we see a wonderful blending of three prominent motifs from Scripture: the garment motif, the marriage motif, and the garden motif. While this may seem rather confusing at first, the three motifs are artfully woven together here in Isaiah, as well as throughout the Bible.

The garment motif begins in the Garden of Eden, and so there is an immediate context for the pericope. In the Garden after the fall, Adam and Eve make for themselves garments of fig leaves to cover their shame and sin (they also hide in the bushes). When God seeks them out and then expels them from the Garden, He gives them clothes from animal skins to replace the fig leaves. The point is that the fig leaves are man’s attempt to cover, hide, or pay for his own shame and sin, but God makes it clear that only He can atone/cover sin, and it is through the shedding of blood. Luther and the Early Church Fathers claim the animals slain were lambs. The point is that man is helpless in regards to paying the price for his sin even though he continues to try (still today). Isaiah calls these fig leaves, “filthy rags/menstrual clothes,” and in Jesus wedding parable in Matthew 22, the man who came to the wedding feast (Marriage Motif) with his own fig leaves/filthy rags rather than the garment provided by the King is expelled into the darkness of weeping and gashing of teeth (hell).

The beauty of Isaiah 61:10 is that the Bridegroom adorns His bride (the Church). The Lamb of God sheds His blood on the cross in order to clothe us in robes of righteousness and garments of salvation, like a bridegroom adorns himself and his bride. As a result of these salvific garments, the bride of Christ will enter into the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom (Rev.19)—in other words, the new Eden/Garden.

Lessing and his Isaiah 56-66 Concordia Commentary provided some great insight in this study.

61:10 sos asis—root: sis/sus “to rejoice; exalt; show joy” This infinitive absolute intensifies the meaning/action. “I will rejoice greatly; I will rejoice exuberantly”

          tagel—root: gil “to exult” A Jussive form

          hilbiyshani—root: lavesh—hiphil “to clothe; to cause to be clothed”

          yesha—“help; deliverance; salvation”

          meiyl—“sleeveless outer garment; robe”

          yeatani—root: yatah “to cover” Hapax legomenon

          yekahen—root: kahan—piel: “to act like a priest”

          tadeh—root: adah “to put on something as an ornament; to adorn with”

Note the idea is that the bride adorns herself with a garment provided by the bridegroom. Thus, the Bridegroom/Christ pays for His bride and then adorns her with garments, headdress, etc. Imputed righteousness.

61:11 thatsmiach/yatsmiach—root: tsamach—hiphil: “to cause to sprout; cause to grow” Root is used three times in this verse.

          ganah—“garden” Alludes to the Garden of Eden.

          wuthhilah—“praise; song of praise”

62:1 It appears that the speaker has returned to the “Anointed Servant” of Isaiah 61:1-3. The motifs of garment/marriage/garden continue from 61:10-11.

         eshqot—root: “to maintain a quiet attitude”

         wishuathah—“help; salvation” …and her salvation…

         yivar—root: baar “to burn; be burning”

62:2 chadash—“new; fresh”

        yiqavenu—root: naqab “to decide; designate” Only case in the OT where this verb is used in a positive sense.

62:3 tiphereh—“beauty; glory”