Sit down, O Jerusalem "Ascend thy lofty seat, O Jerusalem" - The literal rendering here is, according to our English translation, "arise, sit;" on which a very learned person remarks: "So the old versions. But sitting is an expression of mourning in Scripture and the ancients; and doth not well agree with the rising just before." It does not indeed agree, according to our ideas; but, considered in an oriental light, it is perfectly consistent. The common manner of sitting in the eastern countries is upon the ground or the floor with the legs crossed. The people of better condition have the floors of their chambers or divans covered with carpets for this purpose; and round the chamber broad couches, raised a little above the floor, spread with mattresses handsomely covered, which are called sofas. When sitting is spoken of as a posture of more than ordinary state, it is quite of a different kind; and means sitting on high, on a chair of state or throne called the musnud; for which a footstool was necessary, both in order that the person might raise himself up to it, and for supporting the legs when he was placed in it. "Chairs," says Sir John Chardin, "are never used in Persia, but at the coronation of their kings. The king is seated in a chair of gold set with jewels, three feet high. The chairs which are used by the people in the east are always so high as to make a footstool necessary. And this proves the propriety of the style of Scripture, which always joins the footstool to the throne." ( Isaiah 66:1; Psalm 105:1.) Voyages, tom. 9 p. 85, 12mo. Besides the six steps to Solomon's throne, there was a footstool of gold fastened to the seat, 2 Chronicles 9:18, which would otherwise have been too high for the king to reach, or to sit on conveniently.
When Thetis comes to wait on Vulcan to request armor for her son, she is received with great respect, and seated on a silver-studded throne, a chair of ceremony, with a footstool: -
Την μεν επειτα καθεισεν επι θρονου αργυροηλου,<-144 Καλου, δαιδαλεου· ὑπο δε θρηνυς ποσιν ηενπ .
"High on a throne, with stars of silver graced,
And various artifice, the queen she placed;
A footstool at her feet."
Ὁ γαρ θρονος αυτος μονον ελευθεριος εστι καθεδρα συν ὑποποδιῳ.
"A throne is n othing more than a handsome sort of chair with a footstool." - L.
Shake thyself from the dust - To sit on the ground, to sit in the dust, is an expression descriptive of mourning Job 2:13. Jerusalem is here called on to arise and shake off the dust, as indicating that the days of her grief were ended, and that she was about to be restored to her former beauty and splendor.
Arise and sit down - There is an incongruity in this expression in our translation, which does not occur in the original. The idea in the Hebrew is not that which seems to be implied in this expression to arise and sit down in the same place, but it means to arise from the dust, and sit in a more elevated, or honorable place. She had been represented as sitting on the earth, where her loose flowing robes would be supposed to become covered with dust. She is here called on to arise from that humble condition, and to occupy the divan, or a chair of dignity and honor. Lowth renders this, ‹Ascend thy lofty seat,‘ and supposes it means that she was to occupy a throne, or an elevated seat of honor, and he quotes oriental customs to justify this interpretation. Noyes renders it, ‹Arise and sit erect.‘ The Chaldee renders it, ‹Rise, sit upon the throne of thy glory.‘ The following quotation, from Jowett‘s Christian Researches, will explain the custom which is here alluded to: ‹It is no uncommon thing to see an individual, or group of persons, even when very well dressed, sitting with their feet drawn under them, upon the bare earth, passing whole hours in idle conversation.
Europeans would require a chair, but the natives here prefer the ground. In the heat of summer and autumn, it is pleasant to them to while away their time in this manner, under the shade of a tree. Richly adorned females, as well as men, may often be seen thus amusing themselves. As may naturally be expected, with whatever care they may, at first sitting down, choose their place, yet the flowing dress by degrees gathers up the dust; as this occurs, they, from time to time, arise, adjust themselves, shake off the dust, and then sit down again. The captive daughter of Zion, therefore, brought down to the dust of suffering and oppression, is commanded to arise and shake herself from that dust, and then, with grace, and dignity, and composure, and security, to sit down; to take, as it were, again her seat and her rank, amid the company of the nations of the earth, which had before afflicted her, and trampled her to the earth.‘
Loose thyself from the bands of thy neck - Jerusalem had been a captive, and confined as a prisoner. She is now called on to cast off these chains from her neck, and to be again at liberty. In captivity, chains or bands were attached to various parts of the body. They were usually affixed to the wrists or ankles, but it would seem also that sometimes collars were affixed to theneck. The idea is, that the Jews, who had been so long held captive, were about to be released, and restored to their own land.
“The rebuke of His people shall He take away,” the prophet declared. “They shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord.” He hath appointed “to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.” PK 724.1
“Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion;
Put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the Holy City:
For henceforth there shall no more come unto thee the
uncircumcised and the unclean. PK 724.2
“Shake thyself from the dust;
Arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem:
Loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter
of Zion.” PK 724.3
Souls are perishing out of Christ, and those who profess to be Christ's disciples are letting them die. Our brethren have talents entrusted to them for the very work of saving souls, but some have bound these up in a napkin and buried them in the earth. How much do such idlers resemble the angel who is represented as flying in the midst of heaven, proclaiming the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus? What manner of entreaty can be brought to bear upon the idlers that will arouse them to go to work for the Master? What can we say to the slothful church member to make him realize the necessity of unearthing his talent and putting it out to the exchangers? There will be no idler, no slothful one, found inside the kingdom of heaven. Oh, that God would set this matter in all its importance before the sleeping churches! Oh, that Zion would arise and put on her beautiful garments! Oh, that she would shine! 6T 434.1
There are many ordained ministers who have never yet exercised a shepherd's care over the flock of God, who have never yet watched for souls as they that must give an account. The church, instead of developing, is left to be a weak, dependent, inefficient body. The members of the church, trained to rely upon preaching, do little for Christ. They bear no fruit, but rather increase in selfishness and unfaithfulness. They put their hope in the preacher and depend upon his efforts to keep alive their weak faith. Because the church members have not been properly instructed by those whom God has placed as overseers, many are slothful servants, hiding their talents in the earth and still complaining of the Lord's dealing toward them. They expect to be tended like sick children. 6T 434.2Read in context »
Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the Holy City.... How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion. 9T 108.1
Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted His people, He hath redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord hath made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” Isaiah 52:1-10. 9T 108.2Read in context »