[Table of Contents]|
Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown|
Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871)
               
               
               
ISAIAH, son of Amoz (not Amos); contemporary of Jonah, Amos, Hosea, in Israel, but younger than they; and of Micah, in Judah. His call to a higher degree of the prophetic office (Isa 6:1-13) is assigned to the last year of Uzziah, that is, 754 B.C. The first through fifth chapters belong to the closing years of that reign; not, as some think, to Jotham's reign: in the reign of the latter he seems to have exercised his office only orally, and not to have left any record of his prophecies because they were not intended for all ages. The first through fifth and sixth chapters are all that was designed for the Church universal of the prophecies of the first twenty years of his office. New historical epochs, such as occurred in the reigns of Ahaz and Hezekiah, when the affairs of Israel became interwoven with those of the Asiatic empires, are marked by prophetic writings. The prophets had now to interpret the judgments of the Lord, so as to make the people conscious of His punitive justice, as also of His mercy. Isa 7:1-10:4 belong to the reign of Ahaz. The thirty-sixth through thirty-ninth chapters are historical, reaching to the fifteenth year of Hezekiah; probably the tenth through twelfth chapters and all from the thirteenth through twenty-sixth chapters, inclusive, belong to the same reign; the historical section being appended to facilitate the right understanding of these prophecies; thus we have Isaiah's office extending from about 760 to 713 B.C., forty-seven years. Tradition (Talmud) represents him as having been sawn asunder by Manasseh with a wooden saw, for having said that he had seen Jehovah (Ex 33:20; 2Ki 21:16; Heb 11:37). 2Ch 32:32 seems to imply that Isaiah survived Hezekiah; but "first and last" is not added, as in 2Ch 26:22, which makes it possible that his history of Hezekiah was only carried up to a certain point. The second part, the fortieth through sixty-sixth chapters, containing complaints of gross idolatry, needs not to be restricted to Manasseh's reign, but is applicable to previous reigns. At the accession of Manasseh, Isaiah would be eighty-four; and if he prophesied for eight years afterwards, he must have endured martyrdom at ninety-two; so Hosea prophesied for sixty years. And Eastern tradition reports that he lived to one hundred and twenty. The conclusive argument against the tradition is that, according to the inscription, all Isaiah's prophecies are included in the time from Uzziah to Hezekiah; and the internal evidence accords with this.
His WIFE is called the prophetess [Isa 8:3], that is, endowed, as Miriam, with a prophetic gift.
His CHILDREN were considered by him as not belonging merely to himself; in their names, Shearjashub, "the remnant shall return" [Isa 7:3, Margin], and Maher-shalal-hash-baz, "speeding to the spoil, he hasteth to the prey" [Isa 8:1, Margin], the two chief points of his prophecies are intimated to the people, the judgments of the Lord on the people and the world, and yet His mercy to the elect.
His GARMENT of sackcloth (Isa 20:2), too, was a silent preaching by fact; he appears as the embodiment of that repentance which he taught.
His HISTORICAL WORKS.--History, as written by the prophets, is retroverted prophecy. As the past and future alike proceed from the essence of God, an inspired insight into the past implies an insight into the future, and vice versa. Hence most of the Old Testament histories are written by prophets and are classed with their writings; the Chronicles being not so classed, cannot have been written by them, but are taken from historical monographs of theirs; for example, Isaiah's life of Uzziah, 2Ch 26:22; also of Hezekiah, 2Ch 32:32; of these latter all that was important for all ages has been preserved to us, while the rest, which was local and temporary, has been lost.
The INSCRIPTION (Isa 1:1) applies to the whole book and implies that Isaiah is the author of the second part (the fortieth through sixty-sixth chapters), as well as of the first. Nor do the words, "concerning Judah and Jerusalem" [Isa 1:1], oppose the idea that the inscription applies to the whole; for whatever he says against other nations, he says on account of their relation to Judah. So the inscription of Amos, "concerning Israel" [Am 1:1], though several prophecies follow against foreign nations. EWALD maintains that the fortieth through sixty-sixth chapters, though spurious, were subjoined to the previous portion, in order to preserve the former. But it is untrue that the first portion is unconnected with those chapters. The former ends with the Babylonian exile (Isa 39:6), the latter begins with the coming redemption from it. The portion, the fortieth through forty-sixth chapters, has no heading of its own, a proof that it is closely connected with what precedes, and falls under the general heading in Isa 1:1. JOSEPHUS (The Antiquities of the Jews, 11. 1, sec. 1, 2) says that Cyrus was induced by the prophecies of Isaiah (Isa 44:28; 45:1, 13) to aid the Jews in returning and rebuilding the temple Ezr 1:1-11 confirms this; Cyrus in his edict there plainly refers to the prophecies in the second portion, which assign the kingdoms to him from Jehovah, and the duty of rebuilding the temple. Probably he took from them his historical name Cyrus (Coresh). Moreover, subsequent prophets imitate this second portion, which EWALD assigns to later times; for example, compare Jer 50:1-51:64 with Isaiah's predictions against Babylon [Is 13:1-14:23]. "The Holy One of Israel," occurring but three times elsewhere in the Old Testament [2Ki 19:22; Ps 78:41; 89:18; Jer 50:29; 51:5], is a favorite expression in the second, as in the first portion of Isaiah: it expresses God's covenant faithfulness in fulfilling the promises therein: Jeremiah borrows the expression from him. Also Ecclesiasticus 48:22-25 ("comforted"), quotes Isa 40:1 as Isaiah's. Lu 4:17 quotes Isa 61:1, 2 as Isaiah's, and as read as such by Jesus Christ in the synagogue.
The DEFINITENESS of the prophecies is striking: As in the second portion of isaiah, so in Mic 4:8-10, the Babylonian exile, and the deliverance from it, are foretold a hundred fifty years before any hostilities had arisen between Babylon and Judah. On the other hand, all the prophets who foretell the Assyrian invasion coincide in stating, that Judah should be delivered from it, not by Egyptian aid, but directly by the Lord. Again Jeremiah, in the height of the Chaldean prosperity, foretold its conquest by the Medes, who should enter Babylon through the dry bed of the Euphrates on a night of general revelry. No human calculation could have discovered these facts. EICHORN terms these prophecies "veiled historical descriptions," recognizing in spite of himself that they are more than general poetical fancies. The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah was certainly written ages before the Messiah, yet it minutely portrays His sufferings: these cannot be Jewish inventions, for the Jews looked for a reigning, not a suffering, Messiah.
Rationalists are so far right that THE PROPHECIES ARE ON A GENERAL BASIS whereby they are distinguished from soothsaying. They rest on the essential idea of God. The prophets, penetrated by this inner knowledge of His character, became conscious of the eternal laws by which the world is governed: that sin is man's ruin, and must be followed by judgment, but that God's covenant mercy to His elect is unchangeable. Without prophetism, the elect remnant would have decreased, and even God's judgments would have missed their end, by not being recognized as such: they would have been unmeaning, isolated facts. Babylon was in Isaiah's days under Assyria; it had tried a revolt unsuccessfully: but the elements of its subsequent success and greatness were then existing. The Holy Ghost enlightened his natural powers to discern this its rise; and his spiritual faculties, to foresee its fall, the sure consequence, in God's eternal law, of the pride which pagan success generates--and also Judah's restoration, as the covenant-people, with whom God, according to His essential character, would not be wroth for ever. True conversion is the prophet's grand remedy against all evils: in this alone consists his politics. Rebuke, threatening, and promise, regularly succeed one another. The idea at the basis of all is in Isa 26:7-9; Le 10:3; Am 3:2.
The USE OF THE PRESENT AND PRETERITE in prophecy is no proof that the author is later than Isaiah. For seers view the future as present, and indicate what is ideally past, not really past; seeing things in the light of God, who "calls the things that are not as though they were." Moreover, as in looking from a height on a landscape, hills seem close together which are really wide apart, so, in events foretold, the order, succession, and grouping are presented, but the intervals of time are overlooked. The time, however, is sometimes marked (Jer 25:12; Da 9:26). Thus the deliverance from Babylon, and that effected by Messiah, are in rapid transition grouped together by THE LAW OF PROPHETIC SUGGESTION; yet no prophet so confounds the two as to make Messiah the leader of Israel from Babylon. To the prophet there was probably no double sense; but to his spiritual eye the two events, though distinct, lay so near, and were so analogous, that he could not separate them in description without unfaithfulness to the picture presented before him. The more remote and antitypical event, however, namely, Messiah's coming, is that to which he always hastens, and which he describes with far more minuteness than he does the nearer type; for example, Cyrus (compare Isa 45:1 with Isa 53:1-12). In some cases he takes his stand in the midst of events between, for example, the humiliation of Jesus Christ, which he views as past, and His glorification, as yet to come, using the future tense as to the latter (compare Isa 53:4-9 with 53:10-12). Marks of the time of events are given sparingly in the prophets: yet, as to Messiah, definitely enough to create the general expectation of Him at the time that He was in fact born.
The CHALDÆISMS alleged against the genuineness of the second portion of Isaiah, are found more in the first and undoubted portion. They occur in all the Old Testament, especially in the poetical parts, which prefer unusual expressions, and are due to the fact that the patriarchs were surrounded by Chaldee-speaking people; and in Isaiah's time a few Chaldee words had crept in from abroad.
His SYMBOLS are few and simple, and his poetical images correct; in the prophets, during and after the exile, the reverse holds good; Haggai and Malachi are not exceptions; for, though void of bold images, their style, unlike Isaiah's, rises little above prose: a clear proof that our Isaiah was long before the exile.
Of VISIONS, strictly so called, he has but one, that in the sixth chapter; even it is more simple than those in later prophets. But he often gives SIGNS, that is, a present fact as pledge of the more distant future; God condescending to the feebleness of man (Isa 7:14; 37:30; 38:7).
The VARIETIES IN HIS STYLE do not prove spuriousness, but that he varied his style with his subject. The second portion is not so much addressed to his contemporaries, as to the future people of the Lord, the elect remnant, purified by the previous judgments. Hence its tenderness of style, and frequent repetitions (Isa 40:1): for comforting exhortation uses many words; so also the many epithets added to the name of God, intended as stays whereon faith may rest for comfort, so as not to despair. In both portions alike there are peculiarities characteristic of Isaiah; for example, "to be called" equivalent to to be: the repetition of the same words, instead of synonyms, in the parallel members of verses; the interspersing of his prophecies with hymns: "the remnant of olive trees," &c., for the remnant of people who have escaped God's judgments. Also compare Isa 65:25 with Isa 11:6.
The CHRONOLOGICAL ARRANGEMENT favors the opinion that Isaiah himself collected his prophecies into the volume; not Hezekiah's men, as the Talmud guesses from Pr 25:1. All the portions, the dates of which can be ascertained, stand in the right place, except a few instances, where prophecies of similar contents are placed together: with the termination of the Assyrian invasion (the thirty-sixth through thirty-ninth chapters) terminated the public life of Isaiah. The second part is his prophetic legacy to the small band of the faithful, analogous to the last speeches of Moses and of Jesus Christ to His chosen disciples.
The EXPECTATION OF MESSIAH is so strong in Isaiah, that JEROME To Paulinus calls his book not a prophecy, but the gospel: "He is not so much a prophet as an evangelist." Messiah was already shadowed forth in Ge 49:10, as the Shiloh, or tranquillizer; also in Psalms 2, 45, 72, 110. Isaiah brings it out more definitely; and, whereas they dwelt on His kingly office, Isaiah develops most His priestly and prophetic office; the hundred tenth Psalm also had set forth His priesthood, but His kingly rather than, as Isaiah, His suffering, priesthood. The latter is especially dwelt on in the second part, addressed to the faithful elect; whereas the first part, addressed to the whole people, dwells on Messiah's glory, the antidote to the fears which then filled the people, and the assurance that the kingdom of God, then represented by Judah, would not be overwhelmed by the surrounding nations.
His STYLE (HENGSTENBERG, Christology of the Old Testament,) is simple and sublime; in imagery, intermediate between the poverty of Jeremiah and the exuberance of Ezekiel. He shows his command of it in varying it to suit his subject.
The FORM is mostly that of Hebrew poetical parallelism, with, however, a freedom unshackled by undue restrictions.
JUDAH, the less apostate people, rather than Israel, was the subject of his prophecies: his residence was mostly at Jerusalem. On his praises, see Ecclesiasticus 48:22-25. Christ and the apostles quote no prophet so frequently.
applying to the entire book: this
discountenances the Talmud tradition, that he was sawn asunder by
Isaiah--equivalent to "The Lord shall save"; significant of the subject of his prophecies. On "vision," see 1Sa 9:9; Nu 12:6; and see my Introduction.
Judah and Jerusalem--Other nations also are the subjects of his prophecies; but only in their relation to the Jews (Isa 13:1-23:18); so also the ten tribes of Israel are introduced only in the same relation (Isa 7:1-9:21). Jerusalem is particularly specified, being the site of the temple, and the center of the theocracy, and the future throne of Messiah (Ps 48:2, 3, 9; Jer 3:17). Jesus Christ is the "Lion of the tribe of Judah" (Re 5:5).
Uzziah--called also Azariah (2Ki 14:21; 2Ch 26:1, 17, 20). The Old Testament prophecies spiritually interpret the histories, as the New Testament Epistles interpret the Gospels and Acts. Study them together, to see their spiritual relations. Isaiah prophesied for only a few years before Uzziah's death; but his prophecies of that period (Isa 1:1-6:13) apply to Jotham's reign also, in which he probably wrote none; for Isa 7:1-25 enters immediately on Ahaz' reign, after Uzziah in Isa 6:1-13; the prophecies under Hezekiah follow next.
2. The very words of Moses
this implies that the law was the charter and basis of all
Lord--Jehovah; in Hebrew, "the self-existing and promise-fulfilling, unchangeable One." The Jews never pronounced this holy name, but substituted Adonai. The English Version, LORD in capitals, marks the Hebrew "Jehovah," though Lord is rather equivalent to "Adonai" than "Jehovah."
children-- (Ex 4:22).
rebelled--as sons (De 21:18) and as subjects, God being king in the theocracy (Isa 63:10). "Brought up," literally, "elevated," namely, to peculiar privileges (Jer 2:6-8; Ro 9:4, 5).
crib--the stall where it is fed (Pr 14:4). Spiritually the word and ordinances.
Israel--The whole nation, Judah as well as Israel, in the restricted sense. God regards His covenant-people in their designed unity.
not know--namely, his Owner, as the parallelism requires; that is, not recognize Him as such (Ex 19:5, equivalent to "my people," Joh 1:10, 11).
consider--attend to his Master (Isa 41:8), notwithstanding the spiritual food which He provides (answering to "crib" in the parallel clause).
4. people--the peculiar designation of God's elect nation
that they should be "laden with iniquity" is therefore the more
monstrous. Sin is a load
seed--another appellation of God's elect (Ge 12:7; Jer 2:21), designed to be a "holy seed" (Isa 6:13), but, awful to say, "evildoers!"
children--by adoption (Ho 11:1), yet "evildoers"; not only so, but "corrupters" of others (Ge 6:12); the climax. So "nation--people--seed children."
provoked--literally, "despised," namely, so as to provoke (Pr 1:30, 31).
Holy One of Israel--the peculiar heinousness of their sin, that it was against their God (Am 3:2).
gone . . . backward--literally, "estranged" (Ps 58:3).
5. Why--rather, as Vulgate, "On what part." Image from a body
covered all over with marks of blows
There is no part in which you have not been smitten.
head . . . sick, &c.--not referring, as it is commonly quoted, to their sins, but to the universality of their punishment. However, sin, the moral disease of the head or intellect, and the heart, is doubtless made its own punishment (Pr 1:31; Jer 2:19; Ho 8:11). "Sick," literally, "is in a state of sickness" [GESENIUS]; "has passed into sickness" [MAURER].
6. From the lowest to the highest of the people; "the ancient and
honorable, the head, the prophet that teacheth lies, the tail." See
He first states their wretched condition, obvious to all
and then, not previously, their irreligious state, the cause of it.
wounds--judicially inflicted (Ho 5:13).
mollified with ointment--The art of medicine in the East consists chiefly in external applications (Lu 10:34; Jas 5:14).
7. Judah had not in Uzziah's reign recovered from the ravages of the
Syrians in Joash's reign
and of Israel in Amaziah's reign
(2Ch 25:13, 23,
&c.). Compare Isaiah's contemporary
where, as here
(Isa 1:9, 10),
Israel is compared to "Sodom and Gomorrah," because of the judgments on
it by "fire."
in your presence--before your eyes: without your being able to prevent them.
desolate, &c.--literally, "there is desolation, such as one might look for from foreign" invaders.
8. daughter of Zion--the city
Jerusalem and its inhabitants
"daughter" (feminine, singular being used as a neuter collective
noun), equivalent to sons
Margin) [MAURER]. Metropolis or
"mother-city" is the corresponding term. The idea of youthful beauty is
included in "daughter."
left--as a remnant escaping the general destruction.
cottage--a hut, made to give temporary shelter to the caretaker of the vineyard.
besieged--rather, as "left," and Isa 1:9 require, preserved, namely, from the desolation all round [MAURER].
9. Jehovah of Sabaoth, that is, God of the angelic and starry hosts (Ps 59:5; 147:4; 148:2). The latter were objects of idolatry, called hence Sabaism (2Ki 17:16). God is above even them (1Ch 16:26). "The groves" were symbols of these starry hosts; it was their worship of Sabaoth instead of the Lord of Sabaoth, which had caused the present desolation (2Ch 24:18). It needed no less a power than His, to preserve even a "remnant." Condescending grace for the elect's sake, since He has no need of us, seeing that He has countless hosts to serve Him.
10. Sodom--spiritually (Ge 19:24; Jer 23:14; Eze 16:46; Re 11:8).
11. God does not here absolutely disparage sacrifice, which is as
old and universal as sin
(Ge 3:21; 4:4),
and sin is almost as old as the world; but sacrifice, unaccompanied
with obedience of heart and life
Ps 50:9-13; 51:16-19;
Positive precepts are only means; moral obedience is the
end. A foreshadowing of the gospel, when the One real sacrifice was to
supersede all the shadowy ones, and "bring in everlasting
(Ps 40:6, 7;
full--to satiety; weary of
burnt offerings--burnt whole, except the blood, which was sprinkled about the altar.
fat--not to be eaten by man, but burnt on the altar (Le 3:4, 5, 11, 17).
12. appear before me--in the temple where the Shekinah, resting on
the ark, was the symbol of God's presence
who hath required this--as if you were doing God a service by such hypocritical offerings (Job 35:7). God did require it (Ex 23:17), but not in this spirit (Mic 6:6, 7).
courts--areas, in which the worshippers were. None but priests entered the temple itself.
13. oblations--unbloody; "meat (old English sense, not flesh)
offerings," that is, of flour, fruits, oil, &c.
incense--put upon the sacrifices, and burnt on the altar of incense. Type of prayer (Ps 141:2; Re 8:3).
new moons--observed as festivals (Nu 10:10; 28:11, 14) with sacrifices and blowing of silver trumpets.
sabbaths--both the seventh day and the beginning and closing days of the great feasts (Le 23:24-39).
away with--bear, MAURER translates, "I cannot bear iniquity and the solemn meeting," that is, the meeting associated with iniquity--literally, the closing days of the feasts; so the great days (Le 23:36; Joh 7:37).
14. appointed--the sabbath, passover, pentecost, day of atonement,
and feast of tabernacles [HENGSTENBERG];
they alone were fixed to certain times of the year.
weary-- (Isa 43:24).
La 3:43, 44).
spread . . . hands--in prayer (1Ki 8:22). Hebrew, "bloods," for all heinous sins, persecution of God's servants especially (Mt 23:35). It was the vocation of the prophets to dispel the delusion, so contrary to the law itself (De 10:16), that outward ritualism would satisfy God.
16. God saith to the sinner, "Wash you," &c., that he, finding
his inability to "make" himself "clean," may cry to God, Wash me,
(Ps 51:2, 7, 10).
before mine eyes--not mere outward reformation before man's eyes, who cannot, as God, see into the heart (Jer 32:19).
17. seek judgment--justice, as magistrates, instead of
(Jer 22:3, 16).
judge--vindicate (Ps 68:5; Jas 1:27).
18. God deigns to argue the case with us, that all may see the just,
nay, loving principle of His dealings with men
scarlet--the color of Jesus Christ's robe when bearing our "sins" (Mt 27:28). So Rahab's thread (Jos 2:18; compare Le 14:4). The rabbins say that when the lot used to be taken, a scarlet fillet was bound on the scapegoat's head, and after the high priest had confessed his and the people's sins over it, the fillet became white: the miracle ceased, according to them, forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem, that is, exactly when Jesus Christ was crucified; a remarkable admission of adversaries. Hebrew for "scarlet" radically means double-dyed; so the deep-fixed permanency of sin in the heart, which no mere tears can wash away.
snow-- (Ps 51:7). Repentance is presupposed, before sin can be made white as snow (Isa 1:19, 20); it too is God's gift (La+5:21,Ac+5:31">Jer 31:18, end; La 5:21; Ac 5:31).
red--refers to "blood" (Isa 1:15).
as wool--restored to its original undyed whiteness. This verse shows that the old fathers did not look only for transitory promises (Article VII, Book of Common Prayer). For sins of ignorance, and such like, alone had trespass offerings appointed for them; greater guilt therefore needed a greater sacrifice, for, "without shedding of blood there was no remission"; but none such was appointed, and yet forgiveness was promised and expected; therefore spiritual Jews must have looked for the One Mediator of both Old Testament and New Testament, though dimly understood.
19, 20. Temporal blessings in "the land of their possession" were prominent in the Old Testament promises, as suited to the childhood of the Church (Ex 3:17). New Testament spiritual promises derive their imagery from the former (Mt 5:5).
20. Lord hath spoken it--Isaiah's prophecies rest on the law (Le 26:33). God alters not His word (Numbers 23. 19).
21. faithful--as a wife
(Isa 54:5; 62:5;
Ho 2:19, 20).
harlot-- (Eze 16:28-35).
righteousness lodged-- (2Pe 3:13).
murderers--murderous oppressors, as the antithesis requires (see on Isa 1:15; 1Jo 3:15).
22. Thy princes and people are degenerate in "solid worth,"
equivalent to "silver"
(Jer 6:28, 30;
Eze 22:18, 19),
and in their use of the living Word, equivalent to "wine"
mixed--literally, "circumcised." So the Arabic, "to murder" wine, equivalent to dilute it.
23. companions of thieves--by connivance
gifts-- (Eze 22:12). A nation's corruption begins with its rulers.
24. Lord . . . Lord--Adonai,
mighty One of Israel--mighty to take vengeance, as before, to save.
ease me--My long tried patience will find relief in at last punishing the guilty (Eze 5:13). God's language condescends to human conceptions.
25. turn . . . hand--not in wrath, but in grace
"upon thee," as
Isa 1:26, 27
show; contrasted with the enemies, of whom He will avenge
purely--literally, "as alkali purifies."
thy dross--not thy sins, but the sinful persons (Jer 6:29); "enemies" (Isa 1:24); degenerate princes (see on Isa 1:22), intermingled with the elect "remnant" of grace.
tin--Hebrew, bedil, here the alloy of lead, tin, &c., separated by smelting from the silver. The pious Bishop Bedell took his motto from this.
26. As the degeneracy had shown itself most in the magistrates
so, at the "restoration," these shall be such as the theocracy "at the
first" had contemplated, namely, after the Babylonish restoration in
part and typically, but fully and antitypically under Messiah
(Isa 32:1; 52:8;
faithful--no longer "an harlot."
27. redeemed--temporarily, civilly, and morally; type of the
spiritual redemption by the price of Jesus Christ's blood
(1Pe 1:18, 19),
the foundation of "judgment" and "righteousness," and so of
pardon. The judgment and righteousness are God's first
so they become man's when "converted"
(Ro 8:3, 4);
typified in the display of God's "justice," then exhibited in
delivering His covenant-people, whereby justice or "righteousness" was
produced in them.
converts--so MAURER. But Margin, "they that return of her," namely the remnant that return from captivity. However, as Isaiah had not yet expressly foretold the Babylonian captivity, the English Version is better.
28. destruction--literally, "breaking into shivers" (Re 2:27). The prophets hasten forward to the final extinction of the ungodly (Ps 37:20; Re 19:20; 20:15); of which antecedent judgments are types.
oaks--Others translate the "terebinth" or "turpentine tree." Groves were dedicated to idols. Our Druids took their name from the Greek for "oaks." A sacred tree is often found in Assyrian sculpture; symbol of the starry hosts, Saba.
gardens--planted enclosures for idolatry; the counterpart of the garden of Eden.
30. oak--Ye shall be like the "oaks," the object of your "desire" (Isa 1:29). People become like the gods they worship; they never rise above their level (Ps 135:18). So men's sins become their own scourges (Jer 2:9). The leaf of the idol oak fades by a law of necessary consequence, having no living sap or "water" from God. So "garden" answers to "gardens" (Isa 1:29).
31. strong--powerful rulers
maker of it--rather, his work. He shall be at once the fuel, "tow," and the cause of the fire, by kindling the first "spark."
both--the wicked ruler, and "his work," which "is as a spark."
1. The inscription.
The word--the revelation.
2. Same as
As Micah prophesied in Jotham's reign, and Isaiah in Uzziah's, Micah
rests on Isaiah, whom he confirms: not vice versa. HENGSTENBERG on slight grounds makes
last days--that is, Messiah's: especially the days yet to come, to which all prophecy hastens, when "the house of the God of Jacob," namely, at Jerusalem, shall be the center to which the converted nations shall flock together (Mt 13:32; Lu 2:31, 32; Ac 1:6, 7); where "the kingdom" of Israel is regarded as certain and the time alone uncertain (Ps 68:15, 16; 72:8, 11).
mountain of the Lord's house . . . in the top, &c.--the temple on Mount Moriah: type of the Gospel, beginning at Jerusalem, and, like an object set on the highest hill, made so conspicuous that all nations are attracted to it.
flow--as a broad stream (Isa 66:12).
3. If the curse foretold against Israel has been literally
fulfilled, so shall the promised blessing be literal. We Gentiles must
not, while giving them the curse, deny them their peculiar blessing by
spiritualizing it. The Holy Ghost shall be poured out for a general conversion then
Zec 8:21, 23;
from Jerusalem-- (Lu 24:47) an earnest of the future relations of Jerusalem to Christendom (Ro 11:12, 15).
4. judge--as a sovereign umpire, settling all controversies (compare
LOWTH translates "work," "conviction."
plowshares--in the East resembling a short sword (Isa 9:6, 7; Zec 9:10).
5. The connection is: As Israel's high destiny is to be a blessing to all nations (Ge 12:3), let Israel's children walk worthy of it (Eph 5:8).
6. Therefore--rather, "For": reasons why there is the more need of
the exhortation in
thou--transition to Jehovah: such rapid transitions are natural, when the mind is full of a subject.
replenished--rather, filled, namely, with the superstitions of the East, Syria, and Chaldea.
soothsayers--forbidden (De 18:10-14).
Philistines--southwest of Palestine: antithesis to "the east."
please themselves--rather, join hands with, that is, enter into alliances, matrimonial and national: forbidden (Ex 23:32; Ne 13:23, &c.).
7. gold--forbidden to be heaped together
(1Ki 10:21, 27).
horses . . . chariots--forbidden (De 17:16). But Solomon disobeyed (1Ki 20:26). Horses could be used effectively for war in the plains of Egypt; not so in the hilly Judea. God designed there should be as wide as possible a distinction between Israel and the Egyptians. He would have His people wholly dependent on Him, rather than on the ordinary means of warfare (Ps 20:7). Also horses were connected with idolatry (2Ki 23:11); hence His objection: so the transition to "idols" (Isa 2:8) is natural.
8. (Ho 8:4). Not so much public idolatry, which was not sanctioned in Uzziah's and Jotham's reign, but (see 2Ki 15:4, 35) as private.
9. mean--in rank: not morally base: opposed to "the great man." The
former is in Hebrew, Adam, the latter, ish.
boweth--namely, to idols. All ranks were idolaters.
forgive . . . not--a threat expressed by an imperative. Isaiah so identifies himself with God's will, that he prays for that which he knows God purposes. So Re 18:6.
10. Poetical form of expressing that, such were their sins, they
would be obliged by God's judgments to seek a hiding-place from His
(Re 6:15, 16).
dust--equivalent to "caves of the earth," or dust (Isa 2:19).
for fear, &c.--literally, "from the face of the terror of the Lord."
11. lofty looks--literally, "eyes of pride"
humbled--by calamities. God will so vindicate His honor "in that day" of judgments, that none else "shall be exalted" (Zec 14:9).
12. Man has had many days: "the day of the Lord" shall come at last,
beginning with judgment, a never-ending day in which God shall be "all
every--not merely person, as English Version explains it, but every thing on which the nation prided itself.
13. cedars . . . oaks--image for haughty nobles and princes
Zec 11:1, 2;
Bashan--east of Jordan, north of the river Jabbok, famous for fine oaks, pasture, and cattle. Perhaps in "oaks" there is reference to their idolatry (Isa 1:29).
14. high . . . hills--referring to the "high places" on which sacrifices were unlawfully offered, even in Uzziah's (equivalent to Azariah) reign (2Ki 15:4). Also, places of strength, fastnesses in which they trusted, rather than in God; so
15. tower . . . wall--Towers were often made on the walls of
16. Tarshish--Tartessus in southwest Spain, at the mouth
of the Guadalquivir, near Gibraltar. It includes the adjoining region:
a Phœnician colony; hence its connection with Palestine and the
The name was also used in a wide sense for the farthest west, as
our West Indies
Ps 48:7; 72:10).
"Ships of Tarshish" became a phrase for richly laden and
far-voyaging vessels. The judgment shall be on all that minister
to man's luxury (compare
pictures--ordered to be destroyed (Nu 33:52). Still to be seen on the walls of Nineveh's palaces. It is remarkable that whereas all other ancient civilized nations, Egypt, Assyria, Greece, Rome, have left monuments in the fine arts, Judea, while rising immeasurably above them in the possession of "the living oracles," has left none of the former. The fine arts, as in modern Rome, were so often associated with polytheism, that God required His people in this, as in other respects, to be separate from the nations (De 4:15-18). But Vulgate translation is perhaps better, "All that is beautiful to the sight"; not only paintings, but all luxurious ornaments. One comprehensive word for all that goes before (compare Re 18:12, 14, 16).
17. Repeated from Isa 2:11, for emphatic confirmation.
18. idols--literally, "vain things," "nothings" (1Co 8:4). Fulfilled to the letter. Before the Babylonian captivity the Jews were most prone to idolatry; in no instance, ever since. For the future fulfilment, see Zec 13:2; Re 13:15; 19:20.
19. The fulfilment answers exactly to the threat
caves--abounding in Judea, a hilly country; hiding-places in times of alarm (1Sa 13:6).
shake . . . earth--and the heavens also (Heb 12:26). Figure for severe and universal judgments.
20. moles--Others translate "mice." The sense is, under ground, in darkness.
bats--unclean birds (Le 11:19), living amidst tenantless ruins (Re 11:13).
22. The high ones (Isa 2:11, 13) on whom the people trust, shall be "brought low" (Isa 3:2); therefore "cease from" depending on them, instead of on the Lord (Ps 146:3-5).
1. For--continuation of
Lord of hosts--therefore able to do as He says.
doth--present for future, so certain is the accomplishment.
stay . . . staff--the same Hebrew word, the one masculine, the other feminine, an Arabic idiom for all kinds of support. What a change from the previous luxuries (Isa 2:7)! Fulfilled in the siege by Nebuchadnezzar and afterwards by Titus (Jer 37:21; 38:9).
prudent--the Hebrew often means a "soothsayer" (De 18:10-14); thus it will mean, the diviners, on whom they rely, shall in that day fail. It is found in a good sense (Pr 16:10), from which passage the Jews interpret it a king; "without" whom Israel long has been (Ho 3:4).
ancient--old and experienced (1Ki 12:6-8).
3. captain of fifty--not only captains of thousands, and centurions
of a hundred, but even semi-centurions of fifty, shall fail.
honourable--literally, "of dignified aspect."
cunning--skilful. The mechanic's business will come to a standstill in the siege and subsequent desolation of the state; artisans are no mean "stay" among a nation's safeguards.
eloquent orator--rather, as Vulgate, "skilled in whispering," that is, incantation (Ps 58:5). See Isa 8:19, below; and on "prudent," see on Isa 3:2.
4. children--in ability for governing; antithesis to the "ancient"
babes--in warlike might; antithesis to "the mighty" and "man of war."
5. The anarchy resulting under such imbecile rulers
unjust exactions mutually; the forms of respect violated
base--low-born. Compare the marks of "the last days" (2Ti 3:2).
6. Such will be the want of men of wealth and ability, that they
will "take hold of"
the first man whom they meet, having any property, to make him "ruler."
brother--one having no better hereditary claim to be ruler than the "man" supplicating him.
Thou hast clothing--which none of us has. Changes of raiment are wealth in the East (2Ki 5:5).
ruin--Let our ruined affairs be committed to thee to retrieve.
7. swear--literally, "lift up," namely, his hand; the gesture used
in solemn attestation. Or, his voice, that is, answer; so Vulgate.
healer--of the body politic, incurably diseased (Isa 1:6).
neither . . . clothing--so as to relieve the people and maintain a ruler's dignity. A nation's state must be bad indeed, when none among men, naturally ambitious, is willing to accept office.
8. Reason given by the prophet, why all shrink from the government.
eyes of his glory--to provoke His "glorious" Majesty before His "eyes" (compare Isa 49:5; Hab 1:13). The Syriac and LOWTH, by a slight change of the Hebrew, translate, "the cloud of His glory," the Shekinah.
9. show--The Hebrew means, "that which may be known by their
countenances" [GESENIUS and
But MAURER translates, "Their
respect for person"; so Syriac and Chaldee. But the parallel
word "declare" favors the other view. KIMCHI,
from the Arabic, translates "their hardness"
Margin), or impudence of countenance
They have lost not only the substance of virtue, but its color.
witness--literally, "corresponds" to them; their look answers to their inner character (Ho 5:5).
declare-- (Jude 13). "Foaming out their own shame"; so far from making it a secret, "glorying" in it (Php 3:19).
unto themselves--Compare "in themselves" (Pr 1:31; 8:36; Jer 2:19; Ro 1:27).
10. The faithlessness of many is no proof that all are
faithless. Though nothing but croaking of frogs is heard on the surface
of the pool, we are not to infer there are no fish beneath
Isa 1:19, 20).
fruit of doings-- (Pr 1:31) in a good sense (Ga 6:8; Re 22:14). Not salvation by works, but by fruit-bearing faith (Isa 45:24; Jer 23:6). GESENIUS and WEISS translate, Declare as to the righteous that, &c. MAURER, "Say that the righteous is blessed."
11. ill--antithesis to "well"
emphatic ellipsis of the words italicized. "Ill!"
hands--his conduct; "hands" being the instrument of acts (Ec 8:12, 13).
oppressors--literally, "exactors," that is, exacting princes (Isa 60:17). They who ought to be protectors are exactors; as unqualified for rule as "children," as effeminate as "women." Perhaps it is also implied that they were under the influence of their harem, the women of their court.
lead--Hebrew, "call thee blessed"; namely, the false prophets, who flatter the people with promises of safety in sin; as the political "rulers" are meant in the first clause.
way of thy paths-- (Jer 6:16). The right way set forth in the law. "Destroy"--Hebrew, "Swallow up," that is, cause so utterly to disappear that not a vestige of it is left.
13. standeth up--no longer sitting in silence.
plead--indignant against a wicked people (Isa 66:16; Eze 20:35).
14. ancients--Hence they are spoken of as "taken away"
(Isa 3:1, 2).
vineyard--the Jewish theocracy (Isa 5:1-7; Ps 80:9-13).
eaten up--"burnt"; namely, by "oppressive exactions" (Isa 3:12). Type of the crowning guilt of the husbandmen in the days of Jesus Christ (Mt 21:34-41).
spoil . . . houses-- (Mt 23:14).
15. What right have ye to beat, &c.
Mic 3:2, 3).
grind--by exactions, so as to leave them nothing.
faces--persons; with the additional idea of it being openly and palpably done. "Presence," equivalent to "face" (Hebrew).
16. Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, &c.--Luxury had
become great in Uzziah's prosperous reign
stretched forth--proudly elevated (Ps 75:5).
wanton--rather, "making the eyes to glance about," namely, wantonly (Pr 6:13) [MAURER]. But LOWTH, "falsely setting off the eyes with paint." Women's eyelids in the East are often colored with stibium, or powder of lead (see on Job 42:14; Jer 4:30, Margin).
mincing--tripping with short steps.
tinkling--with their ankle-rings on both feet, joined by small chains, which sound as they walk, and compel them to take short steps; sometimes little bells were attached (Isa 3:18, 20).
17. smite with a scab--literally, "make bald," namely, by
discover--cause them to suffer the greatest indignity that can befall female captives, namely to be stripped naked, and have their persons exposed (Isa 47:3; compare with Isa 20:4).
18. bravery--the finery.
tinkling--(See Isa 3:16).
cauls--network for the head. Or else, from an Arabic root, "little suns," answering to the "tires" or neck-ornaments, "like the moon" (Jud 8:21). The chumarah or crescent is also worn in front of the headdress in West Asia.
19. chains--rather, pendants, hanging about the neck, and dropping
on the breast.
mufflers--veils covering the face, with apertures for the eyes, close above and loosely flowing below. The word radically means "tremulous," referring to the changing effect of the spangles on the veil.
ornaments of the legs--the short stepping-chains from one foot to another, to give a measured gait; attached to the "tinkling ornaments" (Isa 3:16).
tablets--rather, "houses of the breath," that is, smelling boxes [Vulgate].
earrings--rather, amulets suspended from the neck or ears, with magic formulæ inscribed; the root means to "whisper" or "conjure."
21. nose jewels--The cartilage between the nostrils was bored to receive them; they usually hung from the left nostril.
22. Here begin entire articles of apparel. Those before were
changeable--from a root, "to put off"; not worn commonly; put on and off on special occasions. So, dress-clothes (Zec 3:4).
mantles--fuller tunics with sleeves, worn over the common one, reaching down to the feet.
wimples--that is, mufflers, or hoods. In Ru 3:15, "veils"; perhaps here, a broad cloak, or shawl, thrown over the head and body.
crisping pins--rather, money bags (2Ki 5:23).
23. glasses--mirrors of polished metal
But the Septuagint, a transparent, gauze-like, garment.
hoods--miters, or diadems (Isa 62:3; Zec 3:5).
veils--large enough to cover the head and person. Distinct from the smaller veils ("mufflers") above (Ge 24:65). Token of woman's subjection (1Co 11:10).
24. stink--arising from ulcers
girdle--to gird up the loose Eastern garments, when the person walked.
rent--the Septuagint, better, a "rope," an emblem of poverty; the poor have nothing else to gird up their clothes with.
well-set hair-- (1Pe 3:3, 4).
baldness-- (Isa 3:17).
stomacher--a broad plaited girdle.
sackcloth-- (2Sa 3:31).
burning--a sunburnt countenance, owing to their hoods and veils being stripped off, while they had to work as captives under a scorching sun (So 1:6).
25. Thy men--of Jerusalem.
26. gates--The place of concourse personified is represented
mourning for the loss of those multitudes which once frequented it.
desolate . . . sit upon . . . ground--the very figure under which Judea was represented on medals after the destruction by Titus: a female sitting under a palm tree in a posture of grief; the motto, Judæa capta (Job 2:13; La 2:10, where, as here primarily, the destruction by Nebuchadnezzar is alluded to).
that day--the calamitous period described in previous chapter.
seven--indefinite number among the Jews. So many men would be slain, that there would be very many more women than men; for example, seven women, contrary to their natural bashfulness, would sue to (equivalent to "take hold of," Isa 3:6) one man to marry them.
eat . . . own bread--foregoing the privileges, which the law (Ex 21:10) gives to wives, when a man has more than one.
reproach--of being unwedded and childless; especially felt among the Jews, who were looking for "the seed of the woman," Jesus Christ, described in Isa 4:2; Isa 54:1, 4; Lu 1:25.
2. In contrast to those on whom vengeance falls, there is a
manifestation of Jesus Christ to the "escaped of Israel" in His
characteristic attributes, beauty and glory, typified in Aaron's
Their sanctification is promised as the fruit of their being
"written" in the book of life by sovereign love
the means of it are the "spirit of judgment" and that of "burning"
Their "defense" by the special presence of Jesus Christ is promised
(Isa 4:5, 6).
branch--the sprout of JEHOVAH. Messiah (Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zec 3:8; 6:12; Lu 1:78, Margin). The parallel clause does not, as MAURER objects, oppose this; for "fruit of the earth" answers to "branch"; He shall not be a dry, but a fruit-bearing branch (Isa 27:6; Eze 34:23-27). He is "of the earth" in His birth and death, while He is also "of the Lord" (Jehovah) (Joh 12:24). His name, "the Branch," chiefly regards His descent from David, when the family was low and reduced (Lu 2:4, 7, 24); a sprout with more than David's glory, springing as from a decayed tree (Isa 11:1; 53:2; Re 22:16).
excellent-- (Heb 1:4; 8:6).
comely-- (So 5:15, 16; Eze 16:14).
escaped of Israel--the elect remnant (Ro 11:5); (1) in the return from Babylon; (2) in the escape from Jerusalem's destruction under Titus; (3) in the still future assault on Jerusalem, and deliverance of "the third part"; events mutually analogous, like concentric circles (Zec 12:2-10; 13:8, 9, &c.; 14:2; Eze 39:23-29; Joe 3:1-21).
3. left in Zion--equivalent to the "escaped of Israel"
shall be called--shall be (Isa 9:6).
holy-- (Isa 52:1; 60:21; Re 21:27).
written--in the book of life, antitypically (Php 4:3; Re 3:5; 17:8). Primarily, in the register kept of Israel's families and tribes.
living--not "blotted out" from the registry, as dead; but written there as among the "escaped of Israel" (Da 12:1; Eze 13:9). To the elect of Israel, rather than the saved in general, the special reference is here (Joe 3:17).
4. When--that is, After.
washed-- (Zec 13:1).
filth--moral (Isa 1:21-25).
daughters of Zion--same as in Isa 3:16.
purged--purified by judgments; destroying the ungodly, correcting and refining the godly.
blood-- (Isa 1:15).
spirit--Whatever God does in the universe, He does by His Spirit, "without the hand" of man (Job 34:20; Ps 104:30). Here He is represented using His power as Judge.
burning-- (Mt 3:11, 12). The same Holy Ghost, who sanctifies believers by the fire of affliction (Mal 3:2, 3), dooms unbelievers to the fire of perdition (1Co 3:13-15).
5. create--The "new creation" needs as much God's creative
omnipotence, as the material creation
So it shall be in the case of the Holy Jerusalem to come
(Isa 65:17, 18).
upon--The pillar of cloud stood over the tabernacle, as symbol of God's favor and presence (Ex 13:21, 22; Ps 91:1). Both on individual families ("every dwelling") and on the general sacred "assemblies" (Le 23:2). The "cloud" became a "fire" by night in order to be seen by the Lord's people.
upon all the glory--"upon the glorious whole"; namely, the Lord's people and sanctuary [MAURER]. May it not mean, "Upon whatever the glory (the Shekinah spoken of in the previous clause) shall rest, there shall be a defense." The symbol of His presence shall ensure also safety. So it was to Israel against the Egyptians at the Red Sea (Ex 14:19, 20). So it shall be to literal Jerusalem hereafter (Zec 2:5). Also to the Church, the spiritual "Zion" (Isa 32:18; 33:15-17; Heb 12:22).
tabernacle--Christ's body (Joh 1:14). "The word 'tabernacled' (Greek for 'dwelt') among us" (Joh 2:21; Heb 8:2). It is a "shadow from the heat" and "refuge from the storm" of divine wrath against man's sins (Isa 25:4). Heat and storms are violent in the East; so that a portable tent is a needful part of a traveller's outfit. Such shall be God's wrath hereafter, from which the "escaped of Israel" shall be sheltered by Jesus Christ (Isa 26:20, 21; 32:2).
covert--answering to "defense" (Isa 4:5). The Hebrew for defense in Isa 4:5, is "covering"; the lid of the ark or mercy seat was named from the same Hebrew word, caphar; the propitiatory; for it, being sprinkled with blood by the high priest once a year, on the day of atonement, covered the people typically from wrath. Jesus Christ is the true Mercy Seat, on whom the Shekinah rested, the propitiatory, or atonement, beneath whom the law is kept, as it was literally within the ark, and man is covered from the storm. The redeemed Israel shall also be, by union with Him, a tabernacle for God's glory, which, unlike that in the wilderness, shall not be taken down (Isa 38:20).
Isa 5:1-30. PARABLE OF JEHOVAH'S VINEYARD.
A new prophecy; entire in itself. Probably delivered about the same time as the second and third chapters, in Uzziah's reign. Compare Isa 5:15, 16 with Isa 2:17; and Isa 5:1 with Isa 3:14. However, the close of the chapter alludes generally to the still distant invasion of Assyrians in a later reign (compare Isa 5:26 with Isa 7:18; and Isa 5:25 with Isa 9:12). When the time drew nigh, according to the ordinary prophetic usage, he handles the details more particularly (Isa 7:1-8:22); namely, the calamities caused by the Syro-Israelitish invasion, and subsequently by the Assyrians whom Ahaz had invited to his help.
1. to--rather, "concerning" [GESENIUS],
that is, in the person of My
beloved, as His representative [VITRINGA].
Isaiah gives a hint of the
distinction and yet unity of the Divine Persons (compare He with
Isa 5:2, 3).
of my beloved--inspired by Him; or else, a tender song [CASTALIO]. By a slight change of reading "a song of His love" [HOUBIGANT]. "The Beloved" is Jehovah, the Second Person, the "Angel" of God the Father, not in His character as incarnate Messiah, but as God of the Jews (Ex 23:20, 21; 32:34; 33:14).
vineyard-- (Isa 3:14; Ps 80:8, &c.). The Jewish covenant-people, separated from the nations for His glory, as the object of His peculiar care (Mt 20:1; 21:33). Jesus Christ in the "vineyard" of the New Testament Church is the same as the Old Testament Angel of the Jewish covenant.
fruitful hill--literally, "a horn" ("peak," as the Swiss shreckhorn) of the son of oil; poetically, for very fruitful. Suggestive of isolation, security, and a sunny aspect. Isaiah alludes plainly to the Song of Solomon (So 6:3; 8:11, 12), in the words "His vineyard" and "my Beloved" (compare Isa 26:20; 61:10, with So 1:4; 4:10). The transition from "branch" (Isa 4:2) to "vineyard" here is not unnatural.
2. fenced--rather, "digged and trenched" the ground to prepare it
for planting the vines [MAURER].
choicest vine--Hebrew, sorek; called still in Morocco, serki; the grapes had scarcely perceptible seeds; the Persian kishmish or bedana, that is, "without seed" (Ge 49:11).
tower--to watch the vineyard against the depredations of man or beast, and for the use of the owner (Mt 21:33).
wine-press--including the wine-fat; both hewn, for coolness, out of the rocky undersoil of the vineyard.
wild grapes--The Hebrew expresses offensive putrefaction, answering to the corrupt state of the Jews. Fetid fruit of the wild vine [MAURER], instead of "choicest" grapes. Of the poisonous monk's hood [GESENIUS]. The Arabs call the fruit of the nightshade "wolf grapes" (De 32:32, 33; 2Ki 4:39-41). JEROME tries to specify the details of the parable; the "fence," angels; the "stones gathered out," idols; the "tower," the "temple in the midst" of Judea; the "wine-press," the altar.
3. And now, &c.--appeal of God to themselves, as in Isa 1:18; Mic 6:3. So Jesus Christ, in Mt 21:40, 41, alluding in the very form of expression to this, makes them pass sentence on themselves. God condemns sinners "out of their own mouth" (De 32:6; Job 15:6; Lu 19:22; Ro 3:4).
4. God has done all that could be done for the salvation of sinners, consistently with His justice and goodness. The God of nature is, as it were, amazed at the unnatural fruit of so well-cared a vineyard.
5. go to--that is, attend to me.
hedge . . . wall--It had both; a proof of the care of the owner. But now it shall be trodden down by wild beasts (enemies) (Ps 80:12, 13).
6. I will . . . command--The parable is partly dropped and Jehovah,
is implied to be the Owner: for He alone, not an ordinary husbandman
could give such a "command."
no rain--antitypically, the heaven-sent teachings of the prophets (Am 8:11). Not accomplished in the Babylonish captivity; for Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Haggai, and Zechariah prophesied during or after it. But in gospel times.
7. Isaiah here applies the parable. It is no mere human owner, nor
a literal vineyard that is meant.
vineyard of the Lord--His only one (Ex 19:5; Am 3:2).
pleasant--"the plant of his delight"; just as the husbandman was at pains to select the sorek, or "choicest vine" (Isa 5:2); so God's election of the Jews.
judgment--justice. The play upon words is striking in the Hebrew, He looked for mishpat, but behold mispat ("bloodshed"); for tsedaqua, but behold tseaqua (the cry that attends anarchy, covetousness, and dissipation, Isa 5:8, 11, 12; compare the cry of the rabble by which justice was overborne in the case of Jesus Christ, Mt 27:23, 24).
Isa 5:8-23. SIX DISTINCT WOES AGAINST CRIMES.
The jubilee restoration of possessions was intended as a guard against
till there be no place--left for any one else.
that they may be--rather, and ye be.
the earth--the land.
9. In mine ears . . . the Lord--namely, has revealed it, as in
desolate--literally, "a desolation," namely, on account of the national sins.
great and fair--houses.
10. acres--literally, "yokes"; as much as one yoke of oxen could plow
in a day.
bath--of wine; seven and a half gallons.
homer . . . ephah--Eight bushels of seed would yield only three pecks of produce (Eze 45:11). The ephah and bath, one-tenth of an homer.
11. Second Woe--against intemperance.
early--when it was regarded especially shameful to drink (Ac 2:15; 1Th 5:7). Banquets for revelry began earlier than usual (Ec 10:16, 17).
strong drink--Hebrew, sichar, implying intoxication.
continue--drinking all day till evening.
12. Music was common at ancient feasts
(Isa 24:8, 9;
Am 6:5, 6).
viol--an instrument with twelve strings [JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 8.10].
tabret--Hebrew, toph, from the use of which in drowning the cries of children sacrificed to Moloch, Tophet received its name. Arabic, duf. A kettle drum, or tambourine.
pipe--flute or flageolet: from a Hebrew root "to bore through"; or else, "to dance" (compare Job 21:11-15).
regard not . . . Lord--a frequent effect of feasting (Job 1:5; Ps 28:5).
work . . . operation--in punishing the guilty (Isa 5:19; Isa 10:12).
13. are gone--The prophet sees the future as if it were
before his eyes.
no knowledge--because of their foolish recklessness (Isa 5:12; Isa 1:3; Ho 4:6; Lu 19:44).
famished--awful contrast to their luxurious feasts (Isa 5:11, 12).
multitude--plebeians in contradistinction to the "honorable men," or nobles.
thirst-- (Ps 107:4, 5). Contrast to their drinking (Isa 5:11). In their deportation and exile, they shall hunger and thirst.
14. hell--the grave; Hebrew, sheol; Greek, hades; "the unseen
world of spirits." Not here, "the place of torment." Poetically, it is
represented as enlarging itself immensely, in order to receive the
countless hosts of Jews, which should perish
their--that is, of the Jewish people.
he that rejoiceth--the drunken reveller in Jerusalem.
15. (Compare Isa 2:9, 11, 17). All ranks, "mean" and "mighty" alike; so "honorable" and "multitude" (Isa 5:13).
16. God shall be "exalted" in man's view, because of His manifestation
of His "justice" in punishing the guilty.
sanctified--regarded as holy by reason of His "righteous" dealings.
17. after their manner--literally, "according to their own word,"
that is, at will. Otherwise, as in their own pasture
so the Hebrew in
The lands of the Scenite tent dwellers
Arab shepherds in the neighborhood shall roam at large, the whole of
Judea being so desolate as to become a vast pasturage.
waste . . . fat ones--the deserted lands of the rich ("fat," Ps 22:29), then gone into captivity; "strangers," that is, nomad tribes shall make their flocks to feed on [MAURER]. Figuratively, "the lambs" are the pious, "the fat ones" the impious. So tender disciples of Jesus Christ (Joh 21:15) are called "lambs"; being meek, harmless, poor, and persecuted. Compare Eze 39:18, where the fatlings are the rich and great (1Co 1:26, 27). The "strangers" are in this view the "other sheep not of the" the Jewish "fold" (Joh 10:16), the Gentiles whom Jesus Christ shall "bring" to be partakers of the rich privileges (Ro 11:17) which the Jews ("fat ones," Eze 34. 16) fell from. Thus "after their (own) manner" will express that the Christian Church should worship God in freedom, released from legal bondage (Joh 4:23; Ga 5:1).
18. Third Woe--against obstinate perseverance in sin, as if they
wished to provoke divine judgments.
iniquity--guilt, incurring punishment [MAURER].
cords, &c.--cart-rope--Rabbins say, "An evil inclination is at first like a fine hair-string, but the finishing like a cart-rope." The antithesis is between the slender cords of sophistry, like the spider's web (Isa 59:5; Job 8:14), with which one sin draws on another, until they at last bind themselves with great guilt as with a cart-rope. They strain every nerve in sin.
sin--substantive, not a verb: they draw on themselves "sin" and its penalty recklessly.
Language of defiance to God. So Lamech's boast of impunity
(Ge 4:23, 24;
2Pe 3:3, 4).
counsel--God's threatened purpose to punish.
20. Fourth Woe--against those who confound the distinctions of
right and wrong (compare
"reprobate," Greek, "undiscriminating: the moral perception
bitter . . . sweet--sin is bitter (Jer 2:19; 4:18; Ac 8:23; Heb 12:15); though it seem sweet for a time (Pr 9:17, 18). Religion is sweet (Ps 119:103).
21. Fifth Woe--against those who were so "wise in their own eyes" as to think they knew better than the prophet, and therefore rejected his warnings (Isa 29:14, 15).
22, 23. Sixth Woe--against corrupt judges, who, "mighty" in
drinking "wine" (a boast still not uncommon), if not in defending their
country, obtain the means of self-indulgence by taking bribes
("reward"). The two verses are closely joined [MAURER].
mingle strong drink--not with water, but spices to make it intoxicating (Pr 9:2, 5; So 8:2).
take away the righteousness--set aside the just claims of those having a righteous cause.
24. Literally, "tongue of fire eateth"
flame consumeth the chaff--rather, withered grass falleth before the flame (Mt 3:12).
root . . . blossom--entire decay, both the hidden source and outward manifestations of prosperity, perishing (Job 18:16; Mal 4:1).
cast away . . . law--in its spirit, while retaining the letter.
25. anger . . . kindled--
(2Ki 22:13, 17).
hills . . . tremble--This probably fixes the date of this chapter, as it refers to the earthquake in the days of Uzziah (Am 1:1; Zec 14:5). The earth trembled as if conscious of the presence of God (Jer 4:24; Hab 3:6).
torn--rather, were as dung (Ps 83:10).
For all this, &c.--This burden of the prophet's strains, with dirge-like monotony, is repeated at Isa 9:12, 17, 21; 10:4. With all the past calamities, still heavier judgments are impending; which he specifies in the rest of the chapter (Le 26:14, &c.).
26. lift . . . ensign--to call together the hostile nations to
execute His judgments on Judea
(Isa 10:5-7; 45:1).
But for mercy to it, in
Isa 11:12; 18:3.
hiss-- (Isa 7:18). Bees were drawn out of their hives by the sound of a flute, or hissing, or whistling (Zec 10:8). God will collect the nations round Judea like bees (De 1:44; Ps 118:12).
end of the earth--the widely distant subject races of which the Assyrian army was made up (Isa 22:6). The ulterior fulfilment took place in the siege under Roman Titus. Compare "end of the earth" (De 28:49, &c.). So the pronoun is singular in the Hebrew, for "them," "their," "whose" (him, his, &c.), Isa 5:26-29; referring to some particular nation and person [HORSLEY].
27. weary--with long marches
none . . . slumber--requiring no rest.
girdle--with which the ancient loose robes used to be girded for action. Ever ready for march or battle.
nor the latchet . . . broken--The soles were attached to the feet, not by upper leather as with us, but by straps. So securely clad that not even a strap of their sandals gives way, so as to impede their march.
28. bent--ready for battle.
hoofs . . . flint--The ancients did not shoe their horses: hence the value of hard hoofs for long marches.
wheels--of their chariots. The Assyrian army abounded in cavalry and chariots (Isa 22:6, 7; 36:8).
29. roaring--their battle cry.
30. sorrow, and the light is darkened--Otherwise,
distress and light (that is, hope and fear) alternately succeed
(as usually occurs in an unsettled state of things),
and darkness arises in, &c. [MAURER].
heavens--literally, "clouds," that is, its sky is rather "clouds" than sky. Otherwise from a different Hebrew root, "in its destruction" or ruins. HORSLEY takes "sea . . . look unto the land" as a new image taken from mariners in a coasting vessel (such as all ancient vessels were), looking for the nearest land, which the darkness of the storm conceals, so that darkness and distress alone may be said to be visible.
Isa 6:1-13. VISION OF JEHOVAH IN HIS TEMPLE.
Isaiah is outside, near the altar in front of the temple. The doors are supposed to open, and the veil hiding the Holy of Holies to be withdrawn, unfolding to his view a vision of God represented as an Eastern monarch, attended by seraphim as His ministers of state (1Ki 22:19), and with a robe and flowing train (a badge of dignity in the East), which filled the temple. This assertion that he had seen God was, according to tradition (not sanctioned by Isa 1:1; see Introduction), the pretext for sawing him asunder in Manasseh's reign (Heb 11:37). Visions often occur in the other prophets: in Isaiah there is only this one, and it is marked by characteristic clearness and simplicity.
1. In . . . year . . . Uzziah died--Either literal death, or
civil when he ceased as a leper to exercise his functions as king
754 B.C. [CALMET] 758
(Common Chronology). This is not the first beginning of Isaiah's
prophecies, but his inauguration to a higher degree of the prophetic
&c., implies the tone of one who had already experience of the people's
Lord--here Adonai, Jehovah in Isa 6:5; Jesus Christ is meant as speaking in Isa 6:10, according to Joh 12:41. Isaiah could only have "seen" the Son, not the divine essence (Joh 1:18). The words in Isa 6:10 are attributed by Paul (Ac 28:25, 26) to the Holy Ghost. Thus the Trinity in unity is implied; as also by the thrice "Holy" (Isa 6:3). Isaiah mentions the robes, temple, and seraphim, but not the form of God Himself. Whatever it was, it was different from the usual Shekinah: that was on the mercy seat, this on a throne; that a cloud and fire, of this no form is specified: over that were the cherubim, over this the seraphim; that had no clothing, this had a flowing robe and train.
2. stood--not necessarily the posture of standing; rather,
were in attendance on Him [MAURER],
hovering on expanded wings.
the--not in the Hebrew.
seraphim--nowhere else applied to God's attendant angels; but to the fiery flying (not winged, but rapidly moving) serpents, which bit the Israelites (Nu 21:6), called so from the poisonous inflammation caused by their bites. Seraph is to burn; implying the burning zeal, dazzling brightness (2Ki 2:11; 6:17; Eze 1:13; Mt 28:3) and serpent-like rapidity of the seraphim in God's service. Perhaps Satan's form as a serpent (nachash) in his appearance to man has some connection with his original form as a seraph of light. The head of the serpent was the symbol of wisdom in Egypt (compare Nu 21:8; 2Ki 18:4). The seraphim, with six wings and one face, can hardly be identified with the cherubim, which had four wings (in the temple only two) and four faces (Eze 1:5-12). (But compare Re 4:8). The "face" and "feet" imply a human form; something of a serpentine form (perhaps a basilisk's head, as in the temples of Thebes) may have been mixed with it: so the cherub was compounded of various animal forms. However, seraph may come from a root meaning "princely," applied in Da 10:13 to Michael [MAURER]; just as cherub comes from a root (changing m into b), meaning "noble."
twain--Two wings alone of the six were kept ready for instant flight in God's service; two veiled their faces as unworthy to look on the holy God, or pry into His secret counsels which they fulfilled (Ex 3:6; Job 4:18; 15:15); two covered their feet, or rather the whole of the lower parts of their persons--a practice usual in the presence of Eastern monarchs, in token of reverence (compare Eze 1:11, their bodies). Man's service a fortiori consists in reverent waiting on, still more than in active service for, God.
The Trinity is implied (on "Lord," see on
God's holiness is the keynote of Isaiah's whole prophecies.
whole earth--the Hebrew more emphatically, the fulness of the whole earth is His glory (Ps 24:1; 72:19).
4. posts of . . . door--rather, foundations of the thresholds.
smoke--the Shekinah cloud (1Ki 8:10; Eze 10:4).
The same effect was produced on others by the presence of God
(Jud 6:22; 13:22;
Job 42:5, 6;
lips--appropriate to the context which describes the praises of the lips, sung in alternate responses (Ex 15:20, 21; Isa 6:3) by the seraphim: also appropriate to the office of speaking as the prophet of God, about to be committed to Isaiah (Isa 6:9).
seen--not strictly Jehovah Himself (Joh 1:18; 1Ti 6:16), but the symbol of His presence.
6. unto me--The seraph had been in the temple, Isaiah
outside of it.
live coal--literally, "a hot stone," used, as in some countries in our days, to roast meat with, for example, the meat of the sacrifices. Fire was a symbol of purification, as it takes the dross out of metals (Mal 3:2, 3).
the altar--of burnt offering, in the court of the priests before the temple. The fire on it was at first kindled by God (Le 9:24), and was kept continually burning.
7. mouth . . . lips--(See on
The mouth was touched because it was the part to be used by
the prophet when inaugurated. So "tongues of fire" rested
on the disciples
(Ac 2:3, 4)
when they were being set apart to speak in various languages of
iniquity--conscious unworthiness of acting as God's messenger.
purged--literally, "covered," that is, expiated, not by any physical effect of fire to cleanse from sin, but in relation to the altar sacrifices, of which Messiah, who here commissions Isaiah, was in His death to be the antitype: it is implied hereby that it is only by sacrifice sin can be pardoned.
8. I . . . us--The change of number indicates the Trinity (compare
Ge 1:26; 11:7).
Though not a sure argument for the doctrine, for the plural
may indicate merely majesty, it accords with that truth
Whom . . . who--implying that few would be willing to bear the self-denial which the delivering of such an unwelcome message to the Jews would require on the part of the messenger (compare 1Ch 29:5).
Here am I--prompt zeal, now that he has been specially qualified for it (Isa 6:7; compare 1Sa 3:10, 11; Ac 9:6).
9. Hear . . . indeed--Hebrew, "In hearing hear," that is,
Though ye hear the prophet's warnings again and again, ye are
doomed, because of your perverse will
not to understand. Light enough is given in revelation to guide
those sincerely seeking to know, in order that they may
do, God's will; darkness enough is left to confound the wilfully
So in Jesus' use of parables
see . . . indeed--rather, "though ye see again and again," yet, &c.
10. Make . . . fat--
"Render them the more hardened by thy warnings" [MAURER]. This effect is the fruit, not of the
truth in itself, but of the corrupt state of their hearts,
to which God here judicially gives them over
GESENIUS takes the imperatives as futures.
"Proclaim truths, the result of which proclamation will
be their becoming the more hardened"
but this does not so well as the former set forth God as
designedly giving up sinners to judicial hardening
In the first member of the sentence, the order is, the heart, ears,
eyes; in the latter, the reverse order, the eyes, ears,
heart. It is from the heart that corruption flows into the
ears and eyes
(Mr 7:21, 22);
but through the eyes and ears healing reaches the heart
the words are quoted in the indicative, "is waxed gross"
(so the Septuagint), not the imperative, "make fat";
God's word as to the future is as certain as if it were already
fulfilled. To see with one's eyes will not convince a will that
is opposed to the truth (compare
Joh 11:45, 46; 12:10, 11).
"One must love divine things in order to understand them"
be healed--of their spiritual malady, sin (Isa 1:6; Ps 103:3; Jer 17:14).
11. how long--will this wretched condition of the nation being hardened
to its destruction continue?
until-- (Isa 5:9) --fulfilled primarily at the Babylonish captivity, and more fully at the dispersion under the Roman Titus.
forsaking--abandonment of dwellings by their inhabitants (Jer 4:29).
13. and it shall return, and . . . be eaten--Rather,
"but it shall be again given over to be consumed": if even a
tenth survive the first destruction, it shall be destroyed by a second
Eze 5:1-5, 12),
[MAURER and HORSLEY]. In
English Version, "return" refers to the poor remnant left in the
land at the Babylonish captivity
(2Ki 24:14; 25:12),
which afterwards fled to Egypt in fear
and subsequently returned thence along with others who had fled
to Moab and Edom
(Jer 40:11, 12),
and suffered under further divine judgments.
tell--rather, "terebinth" or "turpentine tree" (Isa 1:29).
substance . . . when . . . cast . . . leaves--rather, "As a terebinth or oak in which, when they are cast down (not 'cast their leaves,' Job 14:7), the trunk or stock remains, so the holy seed (Ezr 9:2) shall be the stock of that land." The seeds of vitality still exist in both the land and the scattered people of Judea, waiting for the returning spring of God's favor (Ro 11:5, 23-29). According to Isaiah, not all Israel, but the elect remnant alone, is destined to salvation. God shows unchangeable severity towards sin, but covenant faithfulness in preserving a remnant, and to it Isaiah bequeaths the prophetic legacy of the second part of his book (the fortieth through sixty-sixth chapters).
Isa 7:1-9:7. PREDICTION OF THE ILL SUCCESS OF THE SYRO-ISRAELITISH INVASION OF JUDAH--AHAZ'S ALLIANCE WITH ASSYRIA, AND ITS FATAL RESULTS TO JUDEA--YET THE CERTAINTY OF FINAL PRESERVATION AND OF THE COMING OF MESSIAH.
In the Assyrian inscriptions the name of Rezin, king of Damascus, is found among the tributaries of Tiglath-pileser, of whose reign the annals of seventeen years have been deciphered. For the historical facts in this chapter, compare 2Ki 15:37-16:9. Rezin of Syria and Pekah of Israel, as confederates, advanced against Jerusalem. In the first campaign they "smote Ahaz with a great slaughter" (2Ch 28:5). Their object was probably to unite the three kingdoms against Assyria. Egypt seems to have favored the plan, so as to interpose these confederate kingdoms between her own frontier and Assyria (compare Isa 7:18, "Egypt"; and 2Ki 17:4, Hoshea's league with Egypt). Rezin and Pekah may have perceived Ahaz' inclination towards Assyria rather than towards their own confederacy; this and the old feud between Israel and Judah (1Ki 12:16) occasioned their invasion of Judah. Ahaz, at the second inroad of his enemies (compare 2Ch 28:1-26 and 2Ki 15:37, with Isa 16:5), smarting under his former defeat, applied to Tiglath-pileser, in spite of Isaiah's warning in this chapter, that he should rather rely on God; that king accordingly attacked Damascus, and slew Rezin (2Ki 16:9); and probably it was at the same time that he carried away part of Israel captive (2Ki 15:29), unless there were two assaults on Pekah--that in 2Ki 15:29, the earlier, and that in which Tiglath helped Ahaz subsequently [G. V. SMITH]. Ahaz was saved at the sacrifice of Judah's independence and the payment of a large tribute, which continued till the overthrow of Sennacherib under Hezekiah (Isa 37:37; 2Ki 16:8, 17, 18; 2Ch 28:20). Ahaz' reign began about 741 B.C., and Pekah was slain in 738 [WINER].
1. Ahaz--In the first years of his reign the design of the two kings
against Judah was carried out, which was formed in Jotham's reign
Syria--Hebrew, Aram (Ge 10:22, 23), originally the whole region between the Euphrates and Mediterranean, including Assyria, of which Syria is an abbreviation; here the region round Damascus, and along Mount Libanus.
Jerusalem--An actual siege of it took place, but was foiled (2Ki 16:5).
2. is confederate with--rather, is encamped upon the territory of
Ephraim [MAURER], or better,
as Rezin was encamped against Jerusalem, "is supported by"
[LOWTH] Ephraim, whose land lay between Syria and
Judah. The mention of "David" alludes, in sad contrast with the present,
to the time when David made Syria subject to him
Ephraim--the ten tribes.
as . . . trees of . . . wood--a simultaneous agitation.
3. Go forth--out of the city, to the place where Ahaz was
superintending the works for defense and the cutting off of the water
supply from the enemy, and securing it to the city. So
Shearjashub--that is, A remnant shall return (Isa 6:13). His very name (compare Isa 7:14; Isa 8:3) was a standing memorial to Ahaz and the Jews that the nation should not, notwithstanding the general calamity (Isa 7:17-25; Isa 8:6-8), be utterly destroyed (Isa 10:21, 22).
conduit--an aqueduct from the pool or reservoir for the supply of the city. At the foot of Zion was Fount Siloah (Isa 8:6; Ne 3:15; Joh 9:7), called also Gihon, on the west of Jerusalem (2Ch 32:30). Two pools were supplied from it, the Upper, or Old (Isa 22:11), or King's (Ne 2:14), and the Lower (Isa 22:9), which received the superfluous waters of the upper. The upper pool is still to be seen, about seven hundred yards from the Jaffa gate. The highway leading to the fullers' field, which was in a position near water for the purposes of washing, previous to drying and bleaching, the cloth, was probably alongside the aqueduct.
4. Take heed, &c.--that is, See that thou be quiet (not seeking
Assyrian aid in a fit of panic).
tails--mere ends of firebrands, almost consumed themselves (about soon to fall before the Assyrians, Isa 7:8), therefore harmless.
smoking--as about to go out; not blazing.
son of Remaliah--Pekah, a usurper (2Ki 15:25). The Easterners express contempt by designating one, not by his own name, but by his father's, especially when the father is but little known (1Sa 20:27, 31).
6. vex--rather, "throw into consternation"
make a breach--rather, "cleave it asunder." Their scheme was to divide a large portion of the territory between themselves, and set up a vassal king of their own over the rest.
son of Tabeal--unknown; a Syrian-sounding name, perhaps favored by a party in Jerusalem (Isa 3:6, 9, 12).
7. (Isa 8:10; Pr 21:30).
8. head--that is, in both Syria and Israel the capital shall remain
as it is; they shall not conquer Judah, but each shall possess only his
threescore and five . . . not a people--As these words break the symmetry of the parallelism in this verse, either they ought to be placed after "Remaliah's son," in Isa 7:9, or else they refer to some older prophecy of Isaiah, or of Amos (as the Jewish writers represent), parenthetically; to which, in Isa 7:8, the words, "If ye will not believe . . . not be established," correspond in parallelism. One deportation of Israel happened within one or two years from this time, under Tiglath-pileser (2Ki 15:29). Another in the reign of Hoshea, under Shalmaneser (2Ki 17:1-6), was about twenty years after. But the final one which utterly "broke" up Israel so as to be "not a people," accompanied by a colonization of Samaria with foreigners, was under Esar-haddon, who carried away Manasseh, king of Judah, also, in the twenty-second year of his reign, sixty-five years from the utterance of this prophecy (compare Ezr 4:2, 3, 10, with 2Ki 17:24; 2Ch 33:11) [USHER]. The event, though so far off, was enough to assure the people of Judah that as God, the Head of the theocracy, would ultimately interpose to destroy the enemies of His people, so they might rely on Him now.
9. believe, . . . be established--There is a paronomasia, or play on the words, in the Hebrew: "if ye will not confide, ye shall not abide." Ahaz brought distress on himself by distrust in the Lord, and trust in Assyria.
11. Ask thee--since thou dost not credit the prophet's words.
sign--a miraculous token to assure thee that God will fulfil His promise of saving Jerusalem (Isa 37:30; 38:7, 8). "Signs," facts then present or near at hand as pledges for the more distant future, are frequent in Isaiah.
ask . . . in . . . depth--literally, "Make deep . . . ask it," that is, Go to the depth of the earth or of Hades [Vulgate and LOWTH], or, Mount high for it (literally, "Make high"). So in Mt 16:1. Signs in heaven are contrasted with the signs on earth and below it (raising the dead) which Jesus Christ had wrought (compare Ro 10:6, 7). He offers Ahaz the widest limits within which to make his choice.
12. neither . . . tempt--hypocritical pretext of keeping the law (De 6:16); "tempt," that is, put God to the proof, as in Mt 4:7, by seeking His miraculous interposition without warrant. But here there was the warrant of the prophet of God; to have asked a sign, when thus offered, would not have been a tempting of God. Ahaz' true reason for declining was his resolve not to do God's will, but to negotiate with Assyria, and persevere in his idolatry (2Ki 16:7, 8, 3, 4, 10). Men often excuse their distrust in God, and trust in their own devices, by professed reverence for God. Ahaz may have fancied that though Jehovah was the God of Judea and could work a sign there, that was no proof that the local god of Syria might not be more powerful. Such was the common heathen notion (Isa 10:10, 11; 36:18-20).
13. Is it a small thing?--Is it not enough for you
The allusion to "David" is in order to contrast his trust in God
with his degenerate descendant Ahaz' distrust.
weary--try the patience of.
men--prophets. Isaiah as yet had given no outward proof that he was from God; but now God has offered a sign, which Ahaz publicly rejects. The sin is therefore now not merely against "men," but openly against "God." Isaiah's manner therefore changes from mildness to bold reproof.
14. himself--since thou wilt not ask a sign, nay, rejectest the offer
you--for the sake of the house of believing "David" (God remembering His everlasting covenant with David), not for unbelieving Ahaz' sake.
Behold--arresting attention to the extraordinary prophecy.
virgin--from a root, "to lie hid," virgins being closely kept from men's gaze in their parents' custody in the East. The Hebrew, and the Septuagint here, and Greek (Mt 1:23), have the article, the virgin, some definite one known to the speaker and his hearers; primarily, the woman, then a virgin, about immediately to become the second wife, and bear a child, whose attainment of the age of discrimination (about three years) should be preceded by the deliverance of Judah from its two invaders; its fullest significancy is realized in "the woman" (Ge 3:15), whose seed should bruise the serpent's head and deliver captive man (Jer 31:22; Mic 5:3). Language is selected such as, while partially applicable to the immediate event, receives its fullest, most appropriate, and exhaustive accomplishment in Messianic events. The New Testament application of such prophecies is not a strained "accommodation"; rather the temporary fulfilment of an adaptation of the far-reaching prophecy to the present passing event, which foreshadows typically the great central end of prophecy, Jesus Christ (Re 19:10). Evidently the wording is such as to apply more fully to Jesus Christ than to the prophet's son; "virgin" applies, in its simplest sense, to the Virgin Mary, rather than to the prophetess who ceased to be a virgin when she "conceived"; "Immanuel," God with us (Joh 1:14; Re 21:3), cannot in a strict sense apply to Isaiah's son, but only to Him who is presently called expressly (Isa 9:6), "the Child, the Son, Wonderful (compare Isa 8:18), the mighty God." Local and temporary features (as in Isa 7:15, 16) are added in every type; otherwise it would be no type, but the thing itself. There are resemblances to the great Antitype sufficient to be recognized by those who seek them; dissimilarities enough to confound those who do not desire to discover them.
call--that is, "she shall," or as Margin, "thou, O Virgin, shalt call;" mothers often named their children (Ge 4:1, 25; 19:37; 29:32). In Mt 1:23 the expression is strikingly changed into, "They shall call"; when the prophecy received its full accomplishment, no longer is the name Immanuel restricted to the prophetess' view of His character, as in its partial fulfilment in her son; all shall then call (that is, not literally), or regard Him as peculiarly and most fitly characterized by the descriptive name, "Immanuel" (1Ti 3:16; Col 2:9).
name--not mere appellation, which neither Isaiah's son nor Jesus Christ bore literally; but what describes His manifested attributes; His character (so Isa 9:6). The name in its proper destination was not arbitrary, but characteristic of the individual; sin destroyed the faculty of perceiving the internal being; hence the severance now between the name and the character; in the case of Jesus Christ and many in Scripture, the Holy Ghost has supplied this want [OLSHAUSEN].
15. Butter--rather, curdled milk, the acid of which is grateful in
the heat of the East
honey--abundant in Palestine (Jud 14:8; 1Sa 14:25; Mt 3:4). Physicians directed that the first food given to a child should be honey, the next milk [BARNABAS, Epistle]. HORSLEY takes this as implying the real humanity of the Immanuel Jesus Christ, about to be fed as other infants (Lu 2:52). Isa 7:22 shows that besides the fitness of milk and honey for children, a state of distress of the inhabitants is also implied, when, by reason of the invaders, milk and honey, things produced spontaneously, shall be the only abundant articles of food [MAURER].
that he may know--rather, until He shall know.
evil . . . choose . . . good--At about three years of age moral consciousness begins (compare Isa 8:4; De 1:39; Jon 4:11).
16. For--The deliverance implied in the name "Immanuel," and the
cessation of distress as to food
(Isa 7:14, 15),
shall last only till the child grows to know good and evil;
for . . . the land that . . . abhorrest . . . forsaken of . . . kings--rather, desolate shall be the land, before whose two kings thou art alarmed [HENGSTENBERG and GESENIUS].
the land--namely, Syria and Samaria regarded as one (2Ki 16:9; 15:30), just two years after this prophecy, as it foretells. HORSLEY takes it, "The land (Judah and Samaria) of (the former of) which thou art the plague (literally, 'thorn') shall be forsaken," &c.; a prediction thus, that Judah and Israel (appropriately regarded as one "land") should cease to be kingdoms (Lu 2:1; Ge 49:10) before Immanuel came.
Isa 7:17-25. FATAL CONSEQUENCES OF AHAZ' ASSYRIAN POLICY.
Though temporary deliverance (Isa 7:16; 8:4) was to be given then, and final deliverance through Messiah, sore punishment shall follow the former. After subduing Syria and Israel, the Assyrians shall encounter Egypt (2Ki 23:29), and Judah shall be the battlefield of both (Isa 7:18), and be made tributary to that very Assyria (2Ch 28:20; 2Ki 16:7, 8) now about to be called in as an ally (Isa 39:1-6). Egypt, too, should prove a fatal ally (Isa 36:6; 31:1, &c.).
18. hiss--whistle, to bring bees to settle
fly--found in numbers about the arms of the Nile and the canals from it (Isa 19:5-7; 23:3), here called "rivers." Hence arose the plague of flies (Ex 8:21). Figurative, for numerous and troublesome foes from the remotest parts of Egypt, for example, Pharaoh-nechoh.
bee-- (De 1:44; Ps 118:12). As numerous in Assyria as the fly in marshy Egypt. Sennacherib, Esar-haddon, and Nebuchadnezzar fulfilled this prediction.
19. rest--image of flies and bees kept up. The enemy shall overspread
the land everywhere, even in "desolate valleys."
thorns--wild, contrasted with "bushes," which were valued and objects of care (see Margin).
20. razor--The Assyrians are to be God's instrument of devastating
Judea, just as a razor sweeps away all hair before it
Eze 29:19, 20).
hired--alluding to Ahaz' hiring (2Ki 16:7, 8) Tiglath-pileser against Syria and Israel; namely,
by them beyond the river--namely, the Euphrates; the eastern boundary of Jewish geographical knowledge (Ps 72:8); the river which Abram crossed; the Nile also may be included (Isa 7:18) [G. V. SMITH]. GESENIUS translates, "With a razor hired in the parts beyond the river."
head . . . feet--the whole body, including the most honored parts. To cut the "beard" is the greatest indignity to an Easterner (Isa 50:6; 2Sa 10:4, 5; Eze 5:1).
Isa 7:21-25. THE COMING DESOLATE STATE OF THE LAND OWING TO THE ASSYRIANS AND EGYPTIANS.
21. nourish--that is, own.
young cow--a heifer giving milk. Agriculture shall cease, and the land become one great pasturage.
22. abundance--by reason of the wide range of land lying desolate
over which the cows and sheep (including goats) may range.
butter--thick milk, or cream.
honey--(See on Isa 7:15). Food of spontaneous growth will be the resource of the few inhabitants left. Honey shall be abundant as the bees will find the wild flowers abounding everywhere.
23. where there were, &c.--where up to that time there was so valuable a vineyard as to have in it a 1000 vines, worth a silverling (shekel, about 2s. 3d.; a large price) each, there shall be only briers (So 8:11). Vineyards are estimated by the number of the vines, and the goodness of the kind of vine. Judea admits of a high state of cultivation, and requires it, in order to be productive; its present barrenness is due to neglect.
24. It shall become a vast hunting ground, abounding in wild beasts (compare Jer 49:19).
25. shall be--rather, "were once."
digged--in order to plant and rear vines (Isa 5:6).
there shall not come--that is, none shall come who fear thorns, seeing that thorns shall abound on all sides [MAURER]. Otherwise, "Thou shalt not come for fear of thorns" [GESENIUS]. Only cattle shall be able to penetrate the briery ground.
lesser cattle--sheep and goats.
The first seven verses of the ninth chapter belong to this section. The eighth chapter continues the subject of the seventh chapter, but at a later period (compare Isa 8:4 with Isa 7:16); implying that the interval till the accomplishment is shorter now than then. The tone of Isa 8:17, 21, 22, expresses calamity more immediate and afflictive than Isa 7:4, 15, 22.
1. great--suitable, for letters large enough to be read by all.
roll--rather, tablet of wood, metal, or stone (Isa 30:8; Hab 2:2); sometimes coated with wax, upon which characters were traced with a pointed instrument, or iron stylus; skins and papyrus were also used (Isa 19:7).
man's pen--that is, in ordinary characters which the humblest can read (so Hab 2:2). Hebrew, enosh means a "common man," is contrasted with the upper ranks (Re 21:17; Ro 3:5). Not in hieroglyphics. The object was that, after the event, all might see that it had been predicted by Isaiah.
concerning--the title and subject of the prophecy.
Maher-shalal-hash-baz--"They (that is, the Assyrians) hasten to the spoil (namely, to spoil Syria and Samaria), they speed to the prey" [GESENIUS]. Otherwise, "The spoil (that is, spoiler) hastens, the rapine speeds forward" [MAURER].
2. I took--rather, "The Lord said to me, that I should take," &c.
Uriah--an accomplice of Ahaz in idolatry, and therefore a witness not likely to assist the prophet of God in getting up a prophecy after the event (2Ki 16:10). The witnesses were in order that when the event should come, they might testify that the tablet containing the prophecy had been inscribed with it at the time that it professed.
Zechariah-- (2Ch 29:13).
3. prophetess--perhaps the same as the "virgin" (Isa 7:14), in the interim married as Isaiah's second wife: this is in the primary and temporary sense. Immanuel is even in this sense distinct from Maher-shalal-hash-baz. Thus nineteen months at least intervene from the prophecy (Isa 7:14), nine before the birth of Immanuel, and ten from that time to the birth of Maher-shalal-hash-baz: adding eleven or twelve months before the latter could cry, "Father" (Isa 8:4), we have about three years in all, agreeing with Isa 7:15, 16.
4. before, &c.--within a year.
6. waters of Shiloah . . . softly--Their source is on the southeast of Zion and east of Jerusalem. It means "sent," the water being sent through an aqueduct (Joh 9:7). Figurative for the mild, though now weak, sway of the house of David; in the highest sense Shiloah expresses the benignant sway of Jehovah in the theocracy, administered through David. Contrast to the violent Euphrates, "the river" that typifies Assyria (Isa 8:7; Re 17:15). "This people" refers both to Israel, which preferred an alliance with Rezin of Syria to one with the kings of Judah, and to Judah, a party in which seems to have favored the pretentions of the son of Tabeal against David's line (Isa 7:6); also to Judah's desire to seek an Assyrian alliance is included in the censure (compare Isa 7:17). Isa 8:14 shows that both nations are meant; both alike rejected the divine Shiloah. Not "My people," as elsewhere, when God expresses favor, but "this people" (Isa 6:9).
7. therefore--for the reason given in
the Assyrian flood, which is first to overflood Syria and Samaria,
shall rise high enough to reach rebel Judah also
the river--Euphrates swollen in spring by the melting of the snow of the Armenian mountains (compare Isa 8:6; Isa 7:20).
all his glory--Eastern kings travel with a gorgeous retinue.
channels--natural and artificial in the level region, Mesopotamia.
8. pass through--The flood shall not stop at Syria and Samaria, but
shall penetrate into Judea.
the neck--When the waters reach to the neck, a man is near drowning; still the head is not said to be overflowed. Jerusalem, elevated on hills, is the head. The danger shall be so imminent as to reach near it at Sennacherib's invasion in Hezekiah's reign; but it shall be spared (Isa 30:28).
wings--the extreme bands of the Assyrian armies, fulfilled (Isa 36:1; 37:25).
thy land, O Immanuel--Though temporarily applied to Isaiah's son, in the full sense this is applicable only to Messiah, that Judea is His, was, and still is, a pledge that, however sorely overwhelmed, it shall be saved at last; the "head" is safe even now, waiting for the times of restoration (Ac 1:6); at the same time these words imply that, notwithstanding the temporary deliverance from Syria and Israel, implied in "Immanuel," the greatest calamities are to follow to Judah.
9. Associate yourselves--rather, "Raise tumults," or, Rage, that is,
Do your worst [MAURER],
referring perhaps to the attack of Rezin and
Pekah on Jerusalem.
and . . . be broken in pieces--rather, "yet ye shall be thrown into consternation." Imperative in the Hebrew, according to the idiom whereby the second of two imperatives implies the future, namely, the consequence of the action contained in the first (so Isa 6:9). The name "Immanuel" in Isa 8:8 (compare Isa 8:10) suggests the thought of the ultimate safety of Immanuel's land, both from its present two invaders, and even from the Assyrians, notwithstanding the grievous flood, wherewith the previous verses foretell they shall deluge it. The succession of the house of David cannot be set aside in Judah, for Immanuel Messiah is to be born in it as heir of David, of whom Isaiah's son is but a type (Isa 9:4, 6).
give ear . . . far countries--witness the discomfiture of Judah's enemies. The prophecy probably looks on also to the final conspiracy of Antichrist and his supporters against the Heir of David's throne in the latter days and their utter overthrow [HORSLEY].
gird yourselves . . . gird yourselves--The repetition expresses vehemently the certainty of their being thrown into consternation (not as English Version, "broken in pieces").
10. the word--of command, for the assault of Jerusalem.
God is with us--"Immanuel" implies this (Nu 14:9; Ps 46:7).
11. with a strong hand--or else, "when He grasped me with His hand"
MAURER, as English Version,
"with the impetus of His
hand," that is, the felt impulse of His inspiration in my mind
Eze 1:3; 3:14, 22; 37:1).
way of . . . people--their distrust of Jehovah, and the panic which led them and Ahab to seek Assyrian aid.
12-16. The words of Jehovah.
confederacy--rather, a conspiracy; an appropriate term for the unnatural combination of Israel with Syrian foreigners against Judea and the theocracy, to which the former was bound by ties of blood and hereditary religion [MAURER].
to all . . . say--rather, of all which this people calleth a conspiracy [G. V. SMITH].
their fear--namely, object of fear: the hostile conspiracy.
be afraid--rather [MAURER], "nor make others to be afraid."
13. Sanctify--Honor His holy name by regarding Him as your
only hope of safety
him . . . fear--"fear" lest you provoke His wrath by your fear of man and distrust of Him.
14. sanctuary--inviolable asylum, like the altar of the temple
(1Ki 1:50; 2:28;
namely, to those who fear and trust in Him.
but . . . offence--that is, a rock over which they should fall to their hurt; namely those who would not believe.
both . . . houses--Israel and Judah. Here again the prophecy expands beyond the temporary application in Ahaz' time. The very stone, Immanuel, which would have been a sanctuary on belief, becomes a fatal stumbling-block through unbelief. Jesus Christ refers to this in Mt 21:44. (Compare De 32:4, 15, 18, 30, 31, 37; Da 2:34; Ro 9:33; 1Pe 2:8).
gin--trap, in which birds are unexpectedly caught (Lu 21:35; 1Th 5:2). So at the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus.
15. stumble . . . taken--images from the means used in taking wild animals.
16. Bind up . . . seal--What Isaiah had before briefly
noted by inscribing Maher-shalal-hash-baz in a tablet,
fixed up in some public place, he afterwards wrote out more in detail
in a parchment roll
this he is now to seal up, not merely in order that nothing may
be added to, or taken from it, as being complete, but to imply that it
relates to distant events, and is therefore to be a sealed and
not understood testimony
(Isa 6:9, 10),
except in part among God's "disciples," that is, those who "sanctify
the Lord" by obedient trust
Subsequent revelations would afterwards clear up what now was dark. So
the Apocalypse explains what in Daniel was left unexplained (compare
Da 8:26; 12:9).
"The words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end";
"Seal not the sayings of the prophecy . . . for the
time is at hand" (compare
Re 5:1, 5, 9),
testimony--attested by Uriah and Zechariah (Isa 8:2).
law--the revelation just given, having the force of a law.
disciples--not as MAURER, Uriah and Zechariah (compare Joh 7:17; 15:15).
17. I--Whatever the rest of the nation may do, I will
look to Jehovah alone.
that hideth . . . face--though He seems now to withdraw His countenance from Judah (the then representative of "the house of Jacob"). Let us wait and trust in, though we cannot see, Him (Isa 50:10; 54:8; Hab 2:3; Lu 2:25, 38).
18. I and the children--Isaiah means "salvation of Jehovah"; His
children's names, also
(Isa 7:3, 14; 8:3),
were "signs" suggestive of the coming and final deliverance.
wonders--that is, symbols of the future (Isa 20:3; Zec 3:8). "Behold I . . . me" is quoted in Heb 2:13 to prove the manhood of the Messiah. This is the main and ultimate fulfilment of the prophecy; its temporary meaning is applied to Ahaz' time. Isaiah typically, in Isa 8:17, 18, personates Messiah, who is at once "Father" and "Son," Isaiah and Immanuel, "Child" and "Mighty God," and is therefore called here a "wonder," as in Isa 9:6, "Wonderful." Hence in Heb 2:13, believers are called His "children"; but in Isa 8:11, 12, His "brethren." On "the Lord hath given me," see Joh 6:37, 39; 10:29; 17:12.
which dwelleth in . . . Zion--and will therefore protect Jerusalem.
19. Seek unto--Consult in your national difficulties.
them . . . familiar spirits--necromancers, spirit charmers. So Saul, when he had forsaken God (1Sa 28:7, &c.), consulted the witch of En-dor in his difficulties. These follow in the wake of idolatry, which prevailed under Ahaz (2Ki 16:3, 4, 10). He copied the soothsaying as he did the idolatrous "altar" of Damascus (compare Le 20:6, which forbids it, Isa 19:3).
wizards--men claiming supernatural knowledge; from the old English, "to wit," that is, know.
peep--rather "chirp faintly," as young birds do; this sound was generally ascribed to departed spirits; by ventriloquism the soothsayers caused a low sound to proceed as from a grave, or dead person. Hence the Septuagint renders the Hebrew for "necromancers" here "ventriloquists" (compare Isa 29:4).
should not, &c.--The answer which Isaiah recommends to be given to those advising to have recourse to necromancers.
for the living, &c.--"should one, for the safety of the living, seek unto (consult) the dead?" [GESENIUS]. LOWTH renders it, "In place of (consulting) the living, should one consult the dead?"
20. To the law, &c.--the revelation of God by His prophet
to which he directs them to refer those who would advise necromancy.
if they speak not . . . it is because--English Version understands "they" as the necromancers. But the Hebrew rendered "because" is not this but "who"; and "if not," ought rather to be "shall they not"; or, truly they shall speak according to this word, who have no morning light (so the Hebrew, that is, prosperity after the night of sorrows) dawning on them [MAURER and G. V. SMITH]. They who are in the dark night of trial, without a dawn of hope, shall surely say so, Do not seek, as we did, to necromancy, but to the law," &c. The law perhaps includes here the law of Moses, which was the "Magna Charta" on which prophetism commented [KITTO].
21, 22. More detailed description of the despair, which they shall
fall into, who sought necromancy instead of God;
implies that too late they shall see how much better it would
have been for them to have sought "to the law," &c.
But now they are given over to despair. Therefore, while seeing the
truth of God, they only "curse their King and God"; foreshadowing the
future, like conduct of those belonging to the "kingdom of the beast,"
when they shall be visited with divine plagues
through it--namely, the land.
hardly bestead--oppressed with anxiety.
hungry--a more grievous famine than the temporary one in Ahaz' time, owing to Assyria; then there was some food, but none now (Isa 7:15, 22; Le 26:3-5, 14-16, 20).
their king . . . God--Jehovah, King of the Jews (Ps 5:2; 68:24).
look upward . . . unto the earth--Whether they look up to heaven, or down towards the land of Judea, nothing but despair shall present itself.
dimness of anguish--darkness of distress (Pr 1:27).
driven to darkness--rather, "thick darkness" (Jer 23:12). Driven onward, as by a sweeping storm. The Jewish rejection of "their King and God," Messiah, was followed by all these awful calamities.
Isa 9:1-7. CONTINUATION OF THE PROPHECY IN THE EIGHTH CHAPTER.
1. Nevertheless, &c.--rather, "For darkness shall not
(continually) be on it (that is, the land) on which there is (now)
distress" [HENGSTENBERG and
MAURER]. The "for" refers, not to the words
immediately preceding, but to the consolations in
Isa 8:9, 10, 17, 18.
Do not despair, for, &c.
when at the first, &c.--rather, "as the former time has brought contempt on the land of Zebulun and Naphtali (namely, the deportation of their inhabitants under Tiglath-pileser, 2Ki 15:29, a little before the giving of this prophecy); so shall the after-coming time bring honor to the way of the sea (the district around the lake of Galilee), the land beyond (but HENGSTENBERG, "by the side of") Jordan (Perea, east of Jordan, belonging to Reuben, Gad, and half-Manasseh), the circle (but HENGSTENBERG, "Galilee") (that is, region) of the "Gentiles" [MAURER, HENGSTENBERG, &c.]. Galil in Hebrew is a "circle," "circuit," and from it came the name Galilee. North of Naphtali, inhabited by a mixed race of Jews and Gentiles of the bordering Phœnician race (Jud 1:30; 1Ki 9:11). Besides the recent deportation by Tiglath-pileser, it had been sorely smitten by Ben-hadad of Syria, two hundred years before (1Ki 15:20). It was after the Assyrian deportation colonized with heathens, by Esar-haddon (2Ki 17:24). Hence arose the contempt for it on the part of the southern Jews of purer blood (Joh 1:46; 7:52). The same region which was so darkened once, shall be among the first to receive Messiah's light (Mt 4:13, 15, 16). It was in despised Galilee that He first and most publicly exercised His ministry; from it were most of His apostles. Foretold in De 33:18, 19; Ac 2:7; Ps 68:27, 28, Jerusalem, the theocratic capital, might readily have known Messiah; to compensate less favored Galilee, He ministered mostly there; Galilee's very debasement made it feel its need of a Saviour, a feeling not known to the self-righteous Jews (Mt 9:13). It was appropriate, too, that He who was both "the Light to lighten the Gentiles, and the Glory of His people Israel," should minister chiefly on the border land of Israel, near the Gentiles.
2. the people--the whole nation, Judah and Israel.
shadow of death--the darkest misery of captivity.
3. multiplied . . . nation--primarily, the rapid increase of
Israelites after the return from Babylon; more fully and exhaustively
the rapid spread of Christianity at first.
not increased the joy--By a slight change in the Hebrew, its (joy) is substituted by some for not, because "not increased the joy" seems opposite to what immediately follows, "the joy," &c. HENGSTENBERG, retains not thus: "Whose joy thou hadst not increased," (that is, hadst diminished). Others, "Hast thou not increased the joy?" The very difficulty of the reading, not, makes it less likely to be an interpolation. HORSLEY best explains it: The prophet sees in vision a shifting scene, comprehending at one glance the history of the Christian Church to remotest times--a land dark and thinly peopled--lit up by a sudden light--filled with new inhabitants--then struggling with difficulties, and again delivered by the utter and final overthrow of their enemies. The influx of Gentile converts (represented here by "Galilee of the Gentiles") soon was to be followed by the growth of corruption, and the final rise of Antichrist, who is to be destroyed, while God's people is delivered, as in the case of Gideon's victory over Midian, not by man's prowess, but by the special interposition of God.
before thee--a phrase taken from sacrificial feasts; the tithe of harvest was eaten before God (De 12:7; 14:26).
as men rejoice . . . divide . . . spoil--referring to the judgments on the enemies of the Lord and His people, which usually accompany revelations of His grace.
4. The occasion of the "joy," the deliverance not only of Ahaz and
Judah from the Assyrian tribute
and of Israel's ten tribes from the oppressor
but of the Jewish Christian Church from its last great enemy.
hast--the past time for the future, in prophetic vision; it expresses the certainty of the event.
yoke of his burden--the yoke with which he was burdened.
staff of . . . shoulder--the staff which strikes his shoulder [MAURER]; or the wood, like a yoke, on the neck of slaves, the badge of servitude [ROSENMULLER].
day of Midian-- (Jud 7:8-22). As Gideon with a handful of men conquered the hosts of Midian, so Messiah the "child" (Isa 9:6) shall prove to be the "Prince of peace," and the small Israel under Him shall overcome the mighty hosts of Antichrist (compare Mic 5:2-5), containing the same contrast, and alluding also to "the Assyrian," the then enemy of the Church, as here in Isaiah, the type of the last great enemy. For further analogies between Gideon's victory and the Gospel, compare 2Co 4:7, with Jud 7:22. As the "dividing of the spoil" (Isa 9:3) was followed by that which was "not joy," the making of the idolatrous ephod (Jud 8:24-27), so the gospel victory was soon followed by apostasy at the first, and shall be so again after the millennial overthrow of Antichrist (Re 20:3, 7-9), previous to Satan's last doom (Re 20:10).
5. every battle, &c.--rather, "every greave of (the warrior who is) armed with greaves in the din of battle, and the martial garment (or cloak, called by the Latins sagum) rolled in blood, shall be for burning, (and) fuel for fire" [MAURER]. All warlike accoutrements shall be destroyed, as no longer required in the new era of peace (Isa 2:4; 11:6, 7; Ps 46:9; Eze 39:9; Mic 5:5, 10; Zec 9:9, 10). Compare Mal 4:1, as to the previous burning up of the wicked.
6. For--the ground of these great expectations,
unto us--for the benefit of the Jews first, and then the Gentiles (compare "unto you," Lu 2:11).
son . . . given-- (Ps 2:7). God's gratuitous gift, on which man had no claim (Joh 3:16; Ro 6:23).
government . . . upon . . . shoulder--The ensign of office used to be worn on the shoulder, in token of sustaining the government (Isa 22:22). Here the government on Messiah's shoulder is in marked antithesis to the "yoke and staff" of the oppressor on Israel's "shoulder" (Isa 9:4). He shall receive the kingdom of the earth from the Father, to vindicate it from the misrule of those to whom it was entrusted to hold it for and under the Most High, but who sought to hold it in defiance of His right; the Father asserts His right by the Son, the "Heir of all things," who will hold it for Him (Da 7:13, 14).
name . . . called--His essential characteristics shall be.
Wonderful--(See on Isa 8:18; Jud 13:18, Margin; 1Ti 3:16).
Counsellor-- (Ps 16:7; Ro 11:33, 34; 1Co 1:24; Col 2:3).
mighty God-- (Isa 10:21; Ps 24:8; Tit 2:13) HORSLEY translates: "God the mighty man." "Unto us . . . God" is equivalent to "Immanuel" (Isa 7:14).
everlasting Father--This marks Him as "Wonderful," that He is "a child," yet the "everlasting Father" (Joh 10:30; 14:9). Earthly kings leave their people after a short reign; He will reign over and bless them for ever [HENGSTENBERG].
Prince of Peace--(See on Isa 9:5; Ge 49:10; Shiloh, "The Tranquillizer"). Finally (Ho 2:18). Even already He is "our peace" (Lu 2:14; Eph 2:14).
7. Of . . . increase . . . no end--His princely rule shall perpetually
increase and be unlimited
throne of David-- (1Ki 8:25; Ps 2:6; 132:11; Jer 3:17, 18 Eze 34:23-26; 37:16, 22; Lu 1:32, 33; Ac 2:30).
judgment . . . justice--It is not a kingdom of mere might, and triumph of force over enemies, but of righteousness (Isa 42:21; Ps 45:6, 7), attainable only in and by Messiah.
zeal, &c.--including not only Christ's hidden spiritual victory over Satan at the first coming, but the open one accompanied with "judgments" on Antichrist and every enemy at the second coming (Isa 59:17; Ps 9:6-8).
Isa 9:8-10:4. PROPHECY AS TO THE TEN TRIBES.
Delivered a little later than the previous one. The ninth and tenth chapters ought to have been so divided. The present division into chapters was made by Cardinal Hugo, in A.D. 1250; and into verses, by Robert Stephens, the famous printer of Paris, in 1551. After the Assyrian invasion of Syria, that of Ephraim shall follow (2Ki 16:9); Isa 9:8-11, 17-20, foretell the intestine discords in Israel after Hoshea had slain Pekah (A.D. 739), that is, just after the Assyrian invasions, when for seven years it was stripped of magistrates and torn into factions. There are four strophes, each setting forth Ephraim's crime and consequent punishment, and ending with the formula, "For all this His anger is not turned away," &c. (Isa 9:12, 17, 21, and Isa 10:4).
8. Heading of the prophecy;
the first strophe.
unto Jacob--against the ten tribes [LOWTH].
lighted upon--fallen from heaven by divine revelation (Da 4:31).
9. know--to their cost: experimentally
Samaria--the capital of Ephraim (compare as to phrase, Isa 1:1).
10. bricks--in the East generally sun-dried, and therefore soon
dissolved by rain. Granting, say the Ephraimites to the prophet's
threat, that our affairs are in a ruinous state, we will restore them to
more than their former magnificence. Self-confident unwillingness to
see the judgments of God
hewn stones-- (1Ki 5:17).
sycamores--growing abundantly on the low lands of Judea, and though useful for building on account of their antiseptic property (which induced the Egyptians to use them for the cases of their mummies), not very valuable. The cedar, on the other hand, was odorous, free from knots, durable, and precious (1Ki 10:27). "We will replace cottages with palaces."
11. adversaries of Rezin--the Assyrians, who shall first attack
Damascus, shall next advance "against him" (Ephraim). This is the
punishment of Ephraim's pride in making light
of the judgment already inflicted by God through Tiglath-pileser
A second Assyrian invasion (see on
shall follow. The reading "princes" for "adversaries" in uncalled for.
join--rather, "arm"; cover with armor [MAURER].
12. Syrians--Though now allies of Ephraim, after Rezin's death they
shall join the Assyrians against Ephraim. "Together," in
refers to this. Conquering nations often enlist in their armies the
[ABEN EZRA, GESENIUS]. HORSLEY less probably
takes "Syrians before," as the Syrians to the east, that is, not
Rezin's subjects, but the Assyrians: "Aram" being the common
name of Syrians and Assyrians.
behind--from the west: in marking the points of the compass, Orientalists face the east, which is before them: the west is behind. The right hand is the south: the left, the north.
devour--as a ravenous beast (Isa 1:20; Jer 10:25; 30:16; Nu 14:9).
For all this, &c.--The burden of each strophe.
13-17. Second strophe.
turneth not--the design of God's chastisements; not fulfilled in their case; a new cause for punishment (Jer 2:20; 5:3).
14. head and tail--proverbial for the highest and lowest
(De 28:13, 44).
branch and rush--another image for the same thought (Isa 19:15). The branch is elevated on the top of the tree: the rush is coarse and low.
15. ancient--the older.
honourable--the man of rank.
prophet . . . lies, . . . tail--There were many such in Samaria (1Ki 22:6, 22, 23; compare as to "tail," Re 9:19).
16. leaders, &c.--(See Isa 3:12, Margin, and see on Isa 3:12.)
17. no joy--the parallelism, "neither . . . mercy," shows that this
means, He shall have no such delight in their youthful warriors,
however much they be the nation's delight and reliance, as to save them from the enemy's sword
fatherless, &c.--not even the usual objects of His pity (Ps 10:14, 18; 68:5; Jer 49:11; Ho 14:3) shall be spared.
hypocrite--rather, a libertine, polluted [HORSLEY].
folly--wickedness (Ps 14:1).
still--Notwithstanding all these judgments, more remain.
18-21. Third strophe.
burneth--maketh consumption, not only spreading rapidly, but also
consuming like fire: sin is its own punishment.
briers . . . thorns--emblem of the wicked; especially those of low rank (Isa 27:4; 2Sa 23:6).
forest--from the humble shrubbery the flame spreads to the vast forest; it reaches the high, as well as the low.
mount up like . . . smoke--rather. "They (the thickets of the forest) shall lift themselves proudly aloft [the Hebrew is from a Syriac root, a cock, expressing stateliness of motion, from his strutting gait, HORSLEY], in (in passing into) volumes of ascending smoke" [MAURER].
19. darkened--namely, with smoke
The Septuagint and Chaldee render it, "is burnt up," so
MAURER, from an Arabic
root meaning "suffocating heat."
no man . . . spare . . . brother--intestine discord snapping asunder the dearest ties of nature.
20. hungry--not literally. Image from unappeasable hunger, to picture
internal factions, reckless of the most tender ties
and insatiably spreading misery and death on every side
eat--not literally, but destroy (Ps 27:2; Job 19:22).
flesh of . . . arm--those nearest akin: their former support (helper) (Isa 32:2) [MAURER].
21. Manasseh, Ephraim--the two sons of Joseph. So closely united as to form between them but one tribe; but now about to be rent into factions, thirsting for each other's blood. Disunited in all things else, but united "together against their brother Judah" (2Ki 15:10, 30).
Isa 10:1-4. Fourth strophe.
1. them that decree--namely, unrighteous judges.
write grievousness, &c.--not the scribes, but the magistrates who caused unjust decisions (literally, "injustice" or "grievousness") to be recorded by them (Isa 65:6) [MAURER], (Isa 1:10, 23).
2. To turn aside, &c.--The effect of their conduct is to pervert the
cause of the needy [HORSLEY]. In English Version
"from judgment" means "from obtaining justice."
take away the right--"make plunder of the right" (rightful claim) [HORSLEY].
3. what will ye do--what way of escape will there be for you?
visitation--of God's wrath (Isa 26:14; Job 35:15; Ho 9:7).
from far--from Assyria.
leave . . . glory--rather, "deposit (for safekeeping) your wealth" [LOWTH]. So Ps 49:17.
4. Without me--not having Me to "flee to"
bow down--Bereft of strength they shall fall; or else, they shall lie down fettered.
under . . . under--rather, "among" (literally, "in the place of") [HORSLEY]. The "under" may be, however, explained, "trodden under the (feet of the) prisoners going into captivity," and "overwhelmed under the heaps of slain on the battlefield" [MAURER].
Isa 10:5-34 and Isa 11:12. DESTRUCTION OF THE ASSYRIANS; COMING OF MESSIAH; HYMN OF PRAISE.
Isa 10:9, 11 show that Samaria was destroyed before this prophecy. It was written when Assyria proposed (a design which it soon after tried to carry out under Sennacherib) to destroy Judah and Jerusalem, as it had destroyed Samaria. This is the first part of Isaiah's prophecies under Hezekiah. Probably between 722 and 715 B.C. (see Isa 10:27).
5. O Assyrian, &c.--rather, "What, ho (but MAURER, Woe to the) Assyrian! He is the rod and staff of Mine anger (My instrument in punishing, Jer 51:20; Ps 17:13). In their hands is Mine indignation" [HORSLEY, after JEROME]. I have put into the Assyrians' hands the execution of Mine indignation against My people.
6. send him--"Kings' hearts are in the hand of the Lord"
nation--Judah, against whom Sennacherib was forming designs.
of my wrath--objects of My wrath.
give . . . charge-- (Jer 34:22).
and to tread, &c.--HORSLEY translates: "And then to make him (the Assyrian) a trampling under foot like the mire of the streets" (so Isa 10:12; Isa 33:1; Zec 10:5). But see Isa 37:26.
7. meaneth not so--He is only thinking of his own schemes, while God
is overruling them to His purposes.
think--intend. Sinners' plans are no less culpable, though they by them unconsciously fulfil God's designs (Ps 76:10; Mic 4:12). So Joseph's brethren (Ge 50:20; Pr 16:4). The sinner's motive, not the result (which depends on God), will be the test in judgment.
heart to destroy . . . not a few--Sennacherib's ambition was not confined to Judea. His plan was also to conquer Egypt and Ethiopia (Isa 20:1-6; Zec 1:15).
8-11. Vauntings of the Assyrians. Illustrated by the self-laudatory
inscriptions of Assyria deciphered by HINCKS.
princes . . . kings--Eastern satraps and governors of provinces often had the title and diadem of kings. Hence the title, "King of kings," implying the greatness of Him who was over them (Eze 26:7; Ezr 7:12).
9. Is not . . . as--Was there any one of these cities able to
withstand me? Not one. So Rab-shakeh vaunts
Calno--Calneh, built by Nimrod (Ge 10:10), once his capital, on the Tigris.
Carchemish--Circesium, on the Euphrates. Taken afterwards by Necho, king of Egypt; and retaken by Nebuchadnezzar: by the Euphrates (Jer 46:2).
Hamath--in Syria, north of Canaan (Ge 10:18). Taken by Assyria about 753 B.C. From it colonists were planted by Assyria in Samaria.
Damascus-- (Isa 17:1, 3).
10, 11. found--unable to resist me: hath overcome (so
and whose--rather, "and their." This clause, down to "Samaria," is parenthetical.
excel--were more powerful. He regards Jerusalem as idolatrous, an opinion which it often had given too much ground for: Jehovah was in his view the mere local god of Judea, as Baal of the countries where it was adored, nay, inferior in power to some national gods (Isa 36:19, 20; 37:12). See in opposition, Isa 37:20; 46:1.
As my hand . . . shall I not, as I have--a double protasis. Agitation makes one accumulate sentences.
12. whole work--His entire plan is regard to the punishment of
Zion--the royal residence, the court, princes and nobles; as distinguished from "Jerusalem," the people in general.
fruit--the result of, that is, the plants emanating from.
stout--Hebrew, "greatness of," that is, pride of.
13. I am prudent--He ascribes his success to his own prudence, not
to God's providence.
removed the bounds--set aside old, and substituted new boundaries of kingdoms at will. A criminal act, as Jehovah Himself had appointed the boundaries of the nations (De 32:8).
treasures--"hoarded treasures" [HORSLEY].
put down . . . inhabitants like, &c.--rather, "as a valiant man, I have brought down (from their seats) those seated" (namely, "on thrones"; as in Ps 2:4; 29:10; 55:19). The Hebrew for "He that abideth," is He that sitteth on a throne); otherwise, "I have brought down (as captives into Assyria, which lay lower than Judea; therefore 'brought down,' compare Isa 36:1, 10), the inhabitants" [MAURER].
14. nest--implying the ease with which he carried off all before him.
left--by the parent bird.
none . . . moved . . . wing--image from an angry bird resisting the robbery of its "nest."
peeped--chirped even low (Isa 8:19). No resistance was offered me, of deed, or even word.
15. Shall the instrument boast against Him who uses it? Through
free in a sense, and carrying out his own plans, the Assyrian was
unconsciously carrying out God's purposes.
shaketh it--moves it back and forward.
staff . . . lift . . . itself . . . no wood--rather, "as if the staff (man, the instrument of God's judgments on his fellow man) should set aside (Him who is) not wood" (not a mere instrument, as man). On "no wood" compare De 32:21, "that which is not God;" Isa 31:8 shows that God is meant here by "not wood" [MAURER].
16. fat ones--
The robust and choice soldiers of Assyria
where "fattest" answers in the parallelism to "chosen," or "young men,"
leanness--carrying out the image on "fat ones." Destruction (Ps 106:15). Fulfilled (Isa 37:36).
his glory--Assyria's nobles. So in Isa 5:13, Margin; Isa 8:7.
kindle--a new image from fire consuming quickly dry materials (Zec 12:6).
17, 18. light of Israel--carrying out the image in the end of Isa 10:16. Jehovah, who is a light to Israel, shall be the "fire" (De 4:24; Heb 12:29) that shall ignite the "thorns," (the Assyrians, like dry fuel, a ready prey to flame).
18. glory of his forest--The common soldiers, the
princes, officers, &c., all alike together, shall be consumed
in one day-- (Isa 37:36).
fruitful field--literally, "Carmel," a rich mountain in the tribe of Asher. Figurative for Sennacherib's mighty army. Perhaps alluding to his own boasting words about to be uttered (Isa 37:24), "I will enter the forest of his Carmel."
soul and body--proverbial for utterly; the entire man is made up of soul and body.
as when a standard bearer fainteth--rather, "they shall be as when a sick man" (from a Syriac root) wastes away." Compare "leanness," that is, wasting destruction (Isa 10:16) [MAURER]. Or, "there shall be an entire dissipation, like a perfect melting" (namely, of the Assyrian army) [HORSLEY].
19. rest--those who shall survive the destruction of the host.
his forest--same image as in Isa 10:18, for the once dense army.
child . . . write--so few that a child might count them.
20-22. The effect on the "remnant" (contrasted with the Assyrian remnant, Isa 10:19); namely, those who shall be left after the invasion of Sennacherib, will be a return from dependence on external idolatrous nations, as Assyria and Egypt (2Ki 18:21; 16:7-9), to the God of the theocracy; fulfilled in part in the pious Hezekiah's days; but from the future aspect under which Paul, in Ro 9:27, 28 (compare "short work" with "whole work," Isa 10:12, here), regards the whole prophecy, the "remnant," "who stay upon the Lord," probably will receive their fullest realization in the portion of Jews left after that Antichrist shall have been overthrown, who shall "return" unto the Lord (Isa 6:13; 7:3; Zec 12:9, 10; 14:2, 3; Zep 3:12).
21. mighty God-- (Isa 9:6) the God who shall have evinced such might in destroying Israel's enemies. As the Assyrians in Sennacherib's reign did not carry off Judah captive, the returning "remnant" cannot mainly refer to this time.
22. yet--rather in the sense in which Paul quotes it (Ro 9:27), "Though Israel be now numerous as the sand, a remnant only of them shall return"--the great majority shall perish. The reason is added, Because "the consumption (fully completed destruction) is decreed (literally, decided on, brought to an issue), it overfloweth (Isa 30:28; 8:8) with justice"; that is, the infliction of just punishment (Isa 5:16) [MAURER].
23. even determined--"A consumption, and whatever is determined,"
or decreed [MAURER].
midst--Zion, the central point of the earth as to Jehovah's presence.
land--Israel. But the Septuagint, "in the whole habitable world." So English Version (Ro 9:28), "upon the earth."
24. Therefore--Return to the main proposition, Assyria's ultimate
punishment, though employed as God's "rod" to chastise Judea for a time.
O my people--God's tenderness towards His elect nation.
after the manner of Egypt--as Egypt and Pharaoh oppressed thee. Implying, too, as Israel was nevertheless delivered from them, so now it would be from the Assyrian Sennacherib. The antithesis in Isa 10:26 requires this interpretation [MAURER].
25. For--Be not afraid
indignation . . . cease--The punishments of God against Israel shall be consummated and ended (Isa 26:20; Da 11:36). "Till the indignation be accomplished," &c.
mine anger--shall turn to their (the Assyrians') destruction.
26. slaughter of--"stroke upon."
Midian-- (Isa 9:4; Jud 7:25).
as his rod was upon the sea--rather, understanding "stroke" from the previous clause, "according to the stroke of His rod upon the Red Sea" (Ex 14:16, 26). His "rod" on the Assyrian (Isa 10:24, 26) stands in bold contrast to the Assyrian used as a "rod" to strike others (Isa 10:5).
after the manner of Egypt--as He lifted it up against Egypt at the Red Sea.
27. his burden--the Assyrians' oppression
Judah was still tributary to Assyria; Hezekiah had not yet revolted, as
he did in the beginning of Sennacherib's reign.
because of-- (Ho 10:15).
the anointing--namely, "Messiah" (Da 9:24). Just as in Isa 9:4-6, the "breaking of the yoke of" the enemies' "burden and staff" is attributed to Messiah, "For unto us a child is born," &c., so it is here. MAURER not so well translates, "Because of the fatness"; an image of the Assyrians fierce and wanton pride drawn from a well-fed bull tossing off the yoke (De 32:15). So Isa 10:16 above, and Isa 5:17, "fat ones."
28-32. Onward gradual march of Sennacherib's army towards Jerusalem,
and the panic of the inhabitants vividly pictured before the eyes.
come to--come upon as a sudden invader (Ge 34:27).
Aiath--same as Ai (Jos 7:2; Ne 7:32). In the north of Benjamin; so the other towns also; all on the line of march to Jerusalem.
Michmash--nine miles northeast of Jerusalem.
laid up . . . carriages--He has left his heavier baggage (so "carriages" for the things carried, Ac 21:15) at Michmash, so as to be more lightly equipped for the siege of Jerusalem. So 1Sa 17:22; 25:13; 30:24 [JEROME and MAURER].
29. passage--the jaws of the wady or defile at Michmash
(1Sa 13:23; 14:4, 5).
lodging--their quarters for the night, after having passed the defile which might have been easily guarded against them.
Ramah--near Geba; seven miles from Jerusalem.
Gibeah of Saul--his birthplace and residence, in Benjamin (1Sa 11:4), distinct from Gibeah of Judah (Jos 15:57).
30. daughter of Gallim--Gallim and her sons
"Cry aloud in consternation."
Laish--not the town in Dan (Jud 18:7), but one of the same name near Jerusalem (1 Maccabees 9:9).
Anathoth--three miles from Jerusalem in Benjamin; the birthplace of Jeremiah. "Poor" is applied to it in pity, on account of the impending calamity. Others translate, Answer her, O Anathoth.
31. Madmenah--not the city in Simeon
but a village near Jerusalem.
removed--fled from fear.
gather themselves to flee--"put their goods in a place of safety" [MAURER].
32. that day--literally, "As yet this (one only) day (is allowed
to the soldiers) for remaining (halting for rest) at Nob"; northeast of
Jerusalem on Olivet; a town of the priests
daughter--rightly substituted for the Chetib reading, house. His "shaking his hand" in menace implies that he is now at Nob, within sight of Jerusalem.
33. bough--literally, the "beauty" of the tree; "the beautiful branch."
high ones of stature--"the upright stem," as distinguished from the previous "boughs" [HORSLEY].
34. This verse and Isa 10:33 describe the sudden arrest and overthrow of Sennacherib in the height of his success; Isa 10:18, 19; Eze 31:3, 14, &c., contain the same image; "Lebanon" and its forest are the Assyrian army; the "iron" axe that fells the forest refers to the stroke which destroyed the one hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrians (2Ki 19:35). The "Mighty One" is Jehovah (Isa 10:21; Isa 9:6).
From the local and temporary national deliverance the prophet passes by the law of suggestion in an easy transition to the end of all prophecy--the everlasting deliverance under Messiah's reign, not merely His first coming, but chiefly His second coming. The language and illustrations are still drawn from the temporary national subject, with which he began, but the glories described pertain to Messiah's reign. Hezekiah cannot, as some think, be the subject; for he was already come, whereas the "stem of Jesse" was yet future ("shall come") (compare Mic 4:11, &c.; 5:1, 2; Jer 23:5, 6; 33:15, 16; Ro 15:12).
1. rod--When the proud "boughs" of "Lebanon"
(Isa 10:33, 34,
the Assyrians) are lopped, and the vast "forests cut down"
amidst all this rage, a seemingly humble rod shall come out of
Jesse (Messiah), who shall retrieve the injuries done by the Assyrian
"rod" to Israel
(Isa 10:5, 6, 18, 19).
stem--literally, "the stump" of a tree cut close by the roots: happily expressing the depressed state of the royal house of David, owing to the hostile storm (Isa 10:18, 19), when Messiah should arise from it, to raise it to more than its pristine glory. Lu 2:7 proves this (Isa 53:2; compare Job 14:7, 8; see on Isa 8:6).
Branch--Scion. He is nevertheless also the "root" (Isa 11:10; Re 5:5; 22:16. "Root and offspring" combines both, Zec 3:8; 6:12).
2. Spirit of the Lord--JEHOVAH. The Spirit
by which the prophets spake: for Messiah was to be a Prophet
De 18:15, 18).
Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are specified, to imply that the
perfection of them was to be in Him. Compare "the seven
that is, the Holy Ghost in His perfect fulness: seven being the
sacred number. The prophets had only a portion out of the
"fulness" in the Son of God
(Joh 1:16; 3:34;
rest--permanently; not merely come upon Him (Nu 11:25, 26).
wisdom-- (1Co 1:30; Eph 1:17; Col 2:3).
understanding--coupled with "wisdom," being its fruit. Discernment and discrimination (Mt 22:18; Joh 2:25).
counsel . . . might--the faculty of forming counsels, and that of executing them (Isa 28:29). Counsellor (Isa 9:6).
knowledge--of the deep things of God (Mt 11:27). The knowledge of Him gives us true knowledge (Eph 1:17).
fear of the Lord--reverential, obedient fear. The first step towards true "knowledge" (Job 28:28; Ps 111:10).
3. make him of quick understanding--literally, "quick-scented in
the fear of Jehovah"; endowed with a singular sagacity in discerning the
genuine principle of religious fear of God, when it lies dormant in the
yet unawakened sinner
Ac 10:1-48; 16:14)
[HORSLEY]. But MAURER, "He
shall delight in the fear of God." The Hebrew means "to
delight in the odors" of anything
"smell," that is, "delight in."
after . . . sight--according to mere external appearances (Joh 7:24; 8:15; Jas 2:1; 1Sa 16:7). Herein Messiah is represented a just Judge and Ruler (De 1:16, 17).
reprove--"decide," as the parallelism shows.
after . . . ears--by mere plausible hearsays, but by the true merits of each case (Joh 6:64; Re 2:23).
4. judge--see that impartial justice is done them. "Judge" may mean
here "rule," as in
reprove--or, "argue"; "decide." But LOWTH, "work conviction in."
earth--Compare with Mt 5:5, and Re 11:15.
earth--its ungodly inhabitants, answering to "the wicked" in the parallel, and in antithesis to the "poor" and "meek," namely, in spirit, the humble pious (Mt 5:3). It is at the same time implied that "the earth" will be extraordinarily wicked when He shall come to judge and reign. His reign shall therefore be ushered in with judgments on the apostates (Ps 2:9-12; Lu 18:8; Re 2:27).
rod of . . . mouth--condemning sentences which proceed from His mouth against the wicked (Re 1:16; 2:16; 19:15, 21).
breath of . . . lips--his judicial decisions (Isa 30:28; Job 15:30; Re 19:20; 20:9-12). He as the Word of God (Re 19:13-15) comes to strike that blow which shall decide His claim to the kingdom, previously usurped by Satan, and "the beast" to whom Satan delegates his power. It will be a day of judgment to the Gentile dispensation, as the first coming was to the Jews. Compare a type of the "rod" (Nu 17:2-10).
5. righteousness . . . girdle-- (Re 1:13; 19:11). The antitypical High Priest (Ex 28:4). The girdle secures firmly the rest of the garments (1Pe 1:13). So "truth" gives firm consistency to the whole character (Eph 5:14). In Isa 59:17, "righteousness" is His breastplate.
6. wolf . . . lamb--Each animal is coupled with that one which is its natural prey. A fit state of things under the "Prince of Peace" (Isa 65:25; Eze 34:25; Ho 2:18). These may be figures for men of corresponding animal-like characters (Eze 22:27; 38:13; Jer 5:6; 13:23; Mt 7:15; Lu 10:3). Still a literal change in the relations of animals to man and each other, restoring the state in Eden, is a more likely interpretation. Compare Ge 2:19, 20, with Ps 8:6-8, which describes the restoration to man, in the person of "the Son of man," of the lost dominion over the animal kingdom of which he had been designed to be the merciful vicegerent under God, for the good of his animal subjects (Ro 8:19-22).
7. feed--namely, "together"; taken from the second clause.
straw--no longer flesh and blood.
8. play--literally, "delight" himself in sport.
cockatrice--a fabulous serpent supposed to be hatched from the egg of a cock. The Hebrew means a kind of adder, more venomous than the asp; BOCHART supposes the basilisk to be meant, which was thought to poison even with its breath.
9. my holy mountain--Zion, that is, Jerusalem. The seat of government
and of Messiah's throne is put for the whole earth
sea--As the waters find their way into every cavern of its depths, so Christianity shall pervade every recess of the earth (Hab 2:14). As Isa 11:1-5 describe the personal qualities of Messiah, and Isa 11:6-9 the regenerating effects of His coming on creation, so Isa 11:10-16 the results of it in the restoration of His people, the Jews, and the conversion through them of the Gentiles.
10. root--rather, "shoot from the root" (compare Note,
Re 5:5; 22:16).
stand--permanently and prominently, as a banner lifted up to be the rallying point of an army or people (Isa 5:26; Joh 12:32).
the people--peoples, answering to "the Gentiles" in the parallel member.
to it . . . seek--diligently (Job 8:5). They shall give in their allegiance to the Divine King (Isa 2:2; 60:5; Zec 2:11). HORSLEY translates, "Of Him shall the Gentiles inquire"; namely, in a religious sense, resort as to an oracle for consultation in difficulties" (Zec 14:16). Compare Ro 15:12, which quotes this passage, "In Him shall the Gentiles trust."
rest--resting-place (Isa 60:13; Ps 132:8, 14; Eze 43:7). The sanctuary in the temple of Jerusalem was "the resting-place of the ark and of Jehovah." So the glorious Church which is to be is described under the image of an oracle to which all nations shall resort, and which shall be filled with the visible glory of God.
11. set . . . hand--take in hand the work. Therefore the coming
restoration of the Jews is to be distinct from that after the Babylonish
captivity, and yet to resemble it. The first restoration was
literal, therefore so shall the second be; the latter, however, it
is implied here, shall be much more universal than the former
(Isa 43:5-7; 49:12, 17, 18;
Am 9:14, 15;
Mic 4:6, 7;
Zep 3:19, 20;
As to the "remnant" destined by God to survive the judgments on the
Pathros--one of the three divisions of Egypt, Upper Egypt.
Cush--either Ethiopia, south of Egypt, now Abyssinia, or the southern parts of Arabia, along the Red Sea.
Elam--Persia, especially the southern part of it now called Susiana.
Shinar--Babylonian Mesopotamia, the plain between the Euphrates and the Tigris: in it Babel was begun (Ge 10:10). In the Assyrian inscriptions RAWLINSON distinguishes three periods: (1) The Chaldean; from 2300 B.C. to 1500, in which falls Chedorlaomer (Ge 14:1-17), called in the cuneiform characters Kudur of Hur, or Ur of the Chaldees, and described as the conqueror of Syria. The seat of the first Chaldean empire was in the south, towards the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates. (2) The Assyrian, down to 625 B.C. (3) The Babylonian, from 625 to 538 B.C., when Babylon was taken by the Persian Cyrus.
islands of . . . sea--the far western regions beyond the sea [JEROME].
12. In the first restoration Judah alone was restored, with perhaps
some few of Israel (the ten tribes): in the future restoration both
are expressly specified
To Israel are ascribed the "outcasts" (masculine); to Judah the
"dispersed" (feminine), as the former have been longer and more utterly
castaways (though not finally) than the latter
The masculine and feminine conjoined express the universality of
from the four corners of the earth--Hebrew, "wings of the earth."
13. envy . . . of Ephraim . . . Judah--which began as early as the
(Jud 8:1; 12:1,
&c.). Joshua had sprung from, and resided among the Ephraimites
the sanctuary was with them for a time
The jealousy increased subsequently
&c.; 19:41; 20:2; 3:10);
and even before David's time
(1Sa 11:8; 15:4),
they had appropriated to themselves the national name Israel. It ended
&c.; 1Ki 12:1-33;
adversaries of Judah--rather, "the adversaries from Judah"; those of Judah hostile to the Ephraimites [MAURER]. The parallelism "the envy of Ephraim," namely, against Judah, requires this, as also what follows; namely, "Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim" (Eze 37:15, 17, 19).
14. With united forces they shall subdue their foes
fly--as a bird of prey (Hab 1:8).
upon the shoulders--This expresses an attack made unexpectedly on one from behind. The image is the more apt, as the Hebrew for "shoulders" in Nu 34:11 is used also of a maritime coast ("side of the sea": Hebrew, "shoulder of the sea," Margin). They shall make a sudden victorious descent upon their borders southwest of Judea.
them of the east--Hebrew, "children of the East," the Arabs, who, always hostile, are not to be reduced under regular government, but are only to be despoiled (Jer 49:28, 29).
lay . . . hand upon--take possession of (Da 11:42).
Edom--south of Judah, from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea; "Moab"--east of Jordan and the Dead Sea.
Ammon--east of Judea, north of Moab, between the Arnon and Jabbok.
15. There shall be a second exodus, destined to eclipse even the
former one from Egypt in its wonders. So the prophecies elsewhere
The same deliverance furnishes the imagery by which the return from
Babylon is described
(Isa 48:20, 21).
destroy--literally, "devote," or "doom," that is, dry up; for what God dooms, perishes (Ps 106:9 Na 1:4).
tongue--the Bubastic branch of the Nile [VITRINGA]; but as the Nile was not the obstruction to the exodus, it is rather the west tongue or Heroöpolite fork of the Red Sea.
with . . . mighty wind--such as the "strong east wind" (Ex 14:21), by which God made a way for Israel through the Red Sea. The Hebrew for "mighty" means terrible. MAURER translates, "With the terror of His anger"; that is, His terrible anger.
in the seven streams--rather, "shall smite it (divide it by smiting) into seven (many) streams, so as to be easily crossed" [LOWTH]. So Cyrus divided the river Gyndes, which retarded his march against Babylon, into three hundred sixty streams, so that even a woman could cross it [HERODOTUS, 1.189]. "The river" is the Euphrates, the obstruction to Israel's return "from Assyria" (Isa 11:16), a type of all future impediments to the restoration of the Jews.
dry shod--Hebrew, "in shoes." Even in sandals they should be able to pass over the once mighty river without being wet (Re 16:12).
16. highway--a highway clear of obstructions
(Isa 19:23; 35:8).
like as . . . Israel . . . Egypt-- (Isa 51:10, 11; 63:12, 13).
Isa 12:1-6. THANKSGIVING HYMN OF THE RESTORED AND CONVERTED JEWS.
Just as Miriam, after the deliverance of the Red Sea (Isa 11:16), celebrated it with an ode of praise (Ex 15:1-19).
2. Lord JEHOVAH--Jah, Jehovah. The
repetition of the name
denotes emphasis, and the unchangeableness of God's character.
strength . . . song . . . salvation--derived from Ex 15:2; Ps 118:14. The idea of salvation was peculiarly associated with the feast of tabernacles (see Isa 12:3). Hence the cry "Hosanna," "Save, we beseech thee," that accompanied Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem on that day (the fifteenth of the seventh month) (Mt 21:9; compare with Ps 118:25, 26); the earnest of the perfected "salvation" which He shall bring to His people at His glorious second appearance at Jerusalem (Heb 9:28). "He shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Compare Re 21:3, "The tabernacle of God is with men." Compare Lu 9:33, "three tabernacles: one for thee," &c. (the transfiguration being a pledge of the future kingdom), (Ps 118:15; Zec 14:16). As the Jew was reminded by the feast of tabernacles of his wanderings in tents in the wilderness, so the Jew-Gentile Church to come shall call to mind, with thanksgiving, the various past ways whereby God has at last brought them to the heavenly "city of habitation" (Ps 107:7).
3. draw water . . . salvation--an expressive image in
a hot country. On the last day of the feast of tabernacles the Jews
used to bring water in a golden pitcher from the fountain of Siloam,
and pour it, mingled with wine, on the sacrifice on the altar, with
great rejoicing. This is the allusion in Jesus' words on "the last day
of the feast"
(Joh 7:2, 37-39).
The pouring out of water indicated repentance
compare, as to the Jews' repentance hereafter,
There shall be a latter outpouring of the Spirit like the
former one on pentecost
wells--not mere streams, which may run dry, but ever-flowing fountains (Joh 4:14; 7:38), "Out of his belly (that is, in and from himself)--living water" (Isa 42:18; Ps 84:6; Zec 13:1; Re 7:17).
4. make mention--Hebrew, "cause it to be remembered."
5. Sing, &c.--alluding to Ex 15:21.
6. inhabitant of Zion--Hebrew, "inhabitress"; so "daughter of
Zion," that is, Zion and its people.
in the midst of thee--of Jerusalem literally (Jer 3:17; Eze 48:35; Zep 3:15, 17; Zec 2:10).
Isa 13:1-22. THE THIRTEENTH THROUGH TWENTY-THIRD CHAPTERS CONTAIN PROPHECIES AS TO FOREIGN NATIONS.--THE THIRTEENTH, FOURTEENTH, AND TWENTY-SEVENTH CHAPTERS AS TO BABYLON AND ASSYRIA.
The predictions as to foreign nations are for the sake of the covenant people, to preserve them from despair, or reliance on human confederacies, and to strengthen their faith in God: also in order to extirpate narrow-minded nationality: God is Jehovah to Israel, not for Israel's sake alone, but that He may be thereby Elohim to the nations. These prophecies are in their right chronological place, in the beginning of Hezekiah's reign; then the nations of Western Asia, on the Tigris and Euphrates, first assumed a most menacing aspect.
1. burden--weighty or mournful prophecy [GROTIUS]. Otherwise, simply, the prophetical
declaration, from a Hebrew root to put forth with the
voice anything, as in
of Babylon--concerning Babylon.
2. Lift . . . banner--
(Isa 5:26; 11:10).
the high mountain--rather, "a bare (literally, "bald," that is, without trees) mountain"; from it the banner could be seen afar off, so as to rally together the peoples against Babylon.
unto them--unto the Medes (Isa 13:17), the assailants of Babylon. It is remarkable that Isaiah does not foretell here the Jews' captivity in Babylon, but presupposes that event, and throws himself beyond, predicting another event still more future, the overthrow of the city of Israel's oppressors. It was now one hundred seventy-four years before the event.
shake . . . hand--beckon with the hand--wave the hand to direct the nations to march against Babylon.
nobles--Babylonian. Rather, in a bad sense, tyrants; as in Isa 14:5, "rulers" in parallelism to "the wicked"; and Job 21:28 [MAURER].
3. sanctified ones--the Median and Persian soldiers
solemnly set apart by Me for the destruction of Babylon, not
inwardly "sanctified," but designated to fulfil God's holy purpose
(Jer 51:27, 28;
Joe 3:9, 11;
where the Hebrew for prepare war is "sanctify" war).
for mine anger--to execute it.
rejoice in my highness--"Those who are made to triumph for My honor" [HORSLEY]. The heathen Medes could not be said to "rejoice in God's highness" MAURER translates, "My haughtily exulting ones" (Zep 3:11); a special characteristic of the Persians [HERODOTUS,1.88]. They rejoiced in their own highness, but it was His that they were unconsciously glorifying.
4. the mountains--namely, which separate Media and Assyria, and on
one of which the banner to rally the hosts is supposed to be reared.
tumultuous noise--The Babylonians are vividly depicted as hearing some unwonted sound like the din of a host; they try to distinguish the sounds, but can only perceive a tumultuous noise.
nations--Medes, Persians, and Armenians composed Cyrus' army.
5. They--namely, "Jehovah," and the armies which are "the weapons of
far country--Media and Persia, stretching to the far north and east.
end of heaven--the far east (Ps 19:6).
destroy--rather, "to seize" [HORSLEY].
6. day of the Lord--day of His vengeance on Babylon
Type of the future "day of wrath"
destruction--literally, "a devastating tempest."
from the Almighty--not from mere man; therefore irresistible. "Almighty," Hebrew, Shaddai.
7. faint . . . melt--So Jer 50:43; compare Jos 7:5. Babylon was taken by surprise on the night of Belshazzar's impious feast (Da 5:30). Hence the sudden fainting and melting of hearts.
8. pangs--The Hebrew means also a "messenger."
with the Septuagint translates, "The heralds (who bring word of
the unexpected invasion) are terrified."
MAURER agrees with
English Version, literally, "they shall take hold of pangs and
woman . . . travaileth-- (1Th 5:3).
amazed--the stupid, bewildered gaze of consternation.
faces . . . flames--"their visages have the livid hue of flame" [HORSLEY]; with anguish and indignation.
9. cruel--not strictly, but unsparingly just; opposed to
mercy. Also answering to the cruelty (in the strict sense) of
Babylon towards others
now about to be visited on itself.
the land--"the earth" [HORSLEY]. The language of Isa 13:9-13 can only primarily and partially apply to Babylon; fully and exhaustively, the judgments to come, hereafter, on the whole earth. Compare Isa 13:10 with Mt 24:29; Re 8:12. The sins of Babylon, arrogancy (Isa 13:11; Isa 14:11; 47:7, 8), cruelty, false worship (Jer 50:38), persecution of the people of God (Isa 47:6), are peculiarly characteristic of the Antichristian world of the latter days (Da 11:32-37; Re 17:3, 6; 18:6, 7, 9-14, 24).
10. stars, &c.--figuratively for anarchy, distress, and
revolutions of kingdoms
Eze 32:7, 8;
There may be a literal fulfilment finally, shadowed forth
under this imagery
constellations--Hebrew, "a fool," or "impious one"; applied to the constellation Orion, which was represented as an impious giant (Nimrod deified, the founder of Babylon) chained to the sky. See on Job 38:31.
11. world--the impious of the world (compare
arrogancy--Babylon's besetting sin (Da 4:22, 30).
the terrible--rather, tyrants [HORSLEY].
12. man . . . precious--I will so cut off Babylon's defenders, that a single man shall be as rare and precious as the finest gold.
13. Image for mighty revolutions (Isa 24:19; 34:4; Hab 3:6, 10; Hag 2:6, 7; Re 20:11).
roe--gazelle; the most timid and easily startled.
no man taketh up--sheep defenseless, without a shepherd (Zec 13:7).
every man . . . to his own people--The "mingled peoples" of foreign lands shall flee out of her (Jer 50:16, 28, 37; 51:9).
15. found--in the city.
joined--"intercepted" [MAURER]. "Every one that has withdrawn himself," namely, to hide in the houses [GESENIUS].
16. (Ps 137:8, 9).
Jer 51:11, 28).
At that time they were subject to Assyria; subsequently Arbaces, satrap
of Media, revolted against the effeminate Sardanapalus, king of
Assyria, destroyed Nineveh, and became king of Media, in the ninth
not regard silver--In vain will one try to buy his life from them for a ransom. The heathen XENOPHON (Cyropædia, 5,1,10) represents Cyrus as attributing this characteristic to the Medes, disregard of riches. A curious confirmation of this prophecy.
18. bows--in the use of which the Persians were particularly skilled.
19. glory of kingdoms--
(Isa 14:4; 47:5;
beauty of . . . excellency--Hebrew, "the glory of the pride" of the Chaldees; it was their glory and boast.
as . . . Gomorrah--as utterly (Jer 49:18; 50:40; Am 4:11). Taken by Cyrus, by clearing out the canal made for emptying the superfluous waters of the Euphrates, and directing the river into this new channel, so that he was able to enter the city by the old bed in the night.
20. Literally fulfilled.
neither . . . Arabian pitch tent--Not only shall it not be a permanent residence, but not even a temporary resting-place. The Arabs, through dread of evil spirits, and believing the ghost of Nimrod to haunt it, will not pass the night there (compare Isa 13:21).
neither . . . shepherds--The region was once most fertile; but owing to the Euphrates being now no longer kept within its former channels, it has become a stagnant marsh, unfit for flocks; and on the wastes of its ruins (bricks and cement) no grass grows.
21. wild beasts--Hebrew, tsiyim, animals dwelling in arid wastes.
Wild cats, remarkable for their howl [BOCHART].
doleful creatures--"howling beasts," literally, "howlings" [MAURER].
owls--rather, "ostriches"; a timorous creature, delighting in solitary deserts and making a hideous noise [BOCHART].
satyrs--sylvan demi-gods--half man, half goat--believed by the Arabs to haunt these ruins; probably animals of the goat-ape species [VITRINGA]. Devil-worshippers, who dance amid the ruins on a certain night [J. WOLFF].
22. wild beasts of the islands--rather, "jackals"; called by the
Arabs "sons of howling"; an animal midway between a fox and a wolf
cry--rather, "answer," "respond" to each other, as wolves do at night, producing a most dismal effect.
dragons--serpents of various species, which hiss and utter dolorous sounds. Fable gave them wings, because they stand with much of the body elevated and then dart swiftly. MAURER understands here another species of jackal.
her time . . . near--though one hundred seventy-four years distant, yet "near" to Isaiah, who is supposed to be speaking to the Jews as if now captives in Babylon (Isa 14:1, 2).
Isa 14:1-3. THE CERTAINTY OF DELIVERANCE FROM BABYLON.
Isa 14:4-23. THE JEWS' TRIUMPHAL SONG THEREAT.
"It moves in lengthened elegiac measure like a song of lamentation for the dead, and is full of lofty scorn" [HERDER].
Isa 14:24-27. CONFIRMATION OF THIS BY THE HEREFORETOLD DESTRUCTION OF THE ASSYRIANS UNDER SENNACHERIB;
a pledge to assure the captives in Babylon that He who, with such ease, overthrew the Assyrian, could likewise effect His purpose as to Babylon. The Babylonian king, the subject of this prediction, is Belshazzar, as representative of the kingdom (Da 5:1-31).
1. choose--"set His choice upon." A deliberate predilection
Their restoration is grounded on their election (see
strangers--proselytes (Es 8:17; Ac 2:10; 17:4, 17). TACITUS, a heathen [Histories, 5.5], attests the fact of numbers of the Gentiles having become Jews in his time. An earnest of the future effect on the heathen world of the Jews' spiritual restoration (Isa 60:4, 5, 10; Mic 5:7; Zec 14:16; Ro 11:12).
2. the people--of Babylon, primarily. Of the whole Gentile world
(Isa 49:22; 66:20; 60:9).
their place--Judea (Ezr 1:1-6).
possess--receive in possession.
captives--not by physical, but by moral might; the force of love, and regard to Israel's God (Isa 60:14).
3. rest-- (Isa 28:12; Eze 28:25, 26).
Isa 14:4-8. A CHORUS OF JEWS EXPRESS THEIR JOYFUL SURPRISE AT BABYLON'S DOWNFALL.
The whole earth rejoices; the cedars of Lebanon taunt him.
4. proverb--The Orientals, having few books, embodied their thoughts
in weighty, figurative, briefly expressed gnomes. Here a taunting song
the king--the ideal representative of Babylon; perhaps Belshazzar (Da 5:1-31). The mystical Babylon is ultimately meant.
golden city--rather, "the exactress of gold" [MAURER]. But the old translators read differently in the Hebrew, "oppression," which the parallelism favors (compare Isa 3:5).
5. staff--not the scepter
but the staff with which one strikes others, as he is speaking of more
tyrants than one
(Isa 9:4; 10:24; 14:29)
rulers--tyrants, as the parallelism "the wicked" proves (compare see on Isa 13:2).
6. people--the peoples subjected to Babylon.
is persecuted--the Hebrew is rather, active, "which persecuted them, without any to hinder him" [Vulgate, JEROME, and HORSLEY].
7. they--the once subject nations of the whole earth. HOUBIGANT places the stop after "fir trees" (Isa 14:8), "The very fir trees break forth," &c. But the parallelism is better in English Version.
8. the fir trees--now left undisturbed. Probably a kind of evergreen.
rejoice at thee-- (Ps 96:12). At thy fall (Ps 35:19, 24).
no feller--as formerly, when thou wast in power (Isa 10:34; 37:24).
Isa 14:9-11. THE SCENE CHANGES FROM EARTH TO HELL.
Hades (the Amenthes of Egypt), the unseen abode of the departed; some of its tenants, once mighty monarchs, are represented by a bold personification as rising from their seats in astonishment at the descent among them of the humbled king of Babylon. This proves, in opposition to WARBURTON [The Divine Legation], that the belief existed among the Jews that there was a Sheol or Hades, in which the "Rephaim" or manes of the departed abode.
9. moved--put into agitation.
for thee--that is, "at thee"; towards thee; explained by "to meet thee at thy coming" [MAURER].
chief ones--literally, "goats"; so rams, leaders of the flock; princes (Zec 10:3). The idea of wickedness on a gigantic scale is included (Eze 34:17; Mt 25:32, 33). MAGEE derives "Rephaim" (English Version, "the dead") from a Hebrew root, "to resolve into first elements"; so "the deceased" (Isa 26:14) "ghosts" (Pr 21:16). These being magnified by the imagination of the living into gigantic stature, gave their name to giants in general (Ge 6:4; 14:5; Eze 32:18, 21). "Rephaim," translated in the Septuagint, "giants" (compare see on Job 26:5, 6). Thence, as the giant Rephaim of Canaan were notorious even in that guilty land, enormous wickedness became connected with the term. So the Rephaim came to be the wicked spirits in Gehenna, the lower of the two portions into which Sheol is divided.
10. They taunt him and derive from his calamity consolation under
weak--as a shade bereft of blood and life. Rephaim, "the dead," may come from a Hebrew root, meaning similarly "feeble," "powerless." The speech of the departed closes with Isa 14:11.
11. "Pomp" and music, the accompaniment of Babylon's former feastings
(Isa 5:12; 24:8),
give place to the corruption and the stillness of the grave
worm--that is bred in putridity.
worms--properly those from which the crimson dye is obtained. Appropriate here; instead of the crimson coverlet, over thee shall be "worms." Instead of the gorgeous couch, "under thee" shall be the maggot.
Isa 14:12-15. THE JEWS ADDRESS HIM AGAIN AS A FALLEN ONCE-BRIGHT STAR.
The language is so framed as to apply to the Babylonian king primarily, and at the same time to shadow forth through him, the great final enemy, the man of sin, Antichrist, of Daniel, St. Paul, and St. John; he alone shall fulfil exhaustively all the lineaments here given.
12. Lucifer--"day star." A title truly belonging to Christ
"the bright and morning star," and therefore hereafter to be assumed by
Antichrist. GESENIUS, however, renders the
Hebrew here as in
weaken--"prostrate"; as in Ex 17:13, "discomfit."
13. above . . . God--In
"stars" express earthly potentates. "The stars" are often also
used to express heavenly principalities
mount of the congregation--the place of solemn meeting between God and His people in the temple at Jerusalem. In Da 11:37, and 2Th 2:4, this is attributed to Antichrist.
sides of the north--namely, the sides of Mount Moriah on which the temple was built; north of Mount Zion (Ps 48:2). However, the parallelism supports the notion that the Babylonian king expresses himself according to his own, and not Jewish opinions (so in Isa 10:10) thus "mount of the congregation" will mean the northern mountain (perhaps in Armenia) fabled by the Babylonians to be the common meeting-place of their gods. "Both sides" imply the angle in which the sides meet; and so the expression comes to mean "the extreme parts of the north." So the Hindus place the Meru, the dwelling-place of their gods, in the north, in the Himalayan mountains. So the Greeks, in the northern Olympus. The Persian followers of Zoroaster put the Ai-bordsch in the Caucasus north of them. The allusion to the stars harmonizes with this; namely, that those near the North Pole, the region of the aurora borealis (compare see on Job 23:9; Job 37:22) [MAURER, Septuagint, Syriac].
14. clouds--rather, "the cloud," singular. Perhaps there is a reference to the cloud, the symbol of the divine presence (Isa 4:5; Ex 13:21). So this tallies with 2Th 2:4, "above all that is called God"; as here "above . . . the cloud"; and as the Shekinah-cloud was connected with the temple, there follows, "he as God sitteth in the temple of God," answering to "I will be like the Most High" here. Moreover, Re 17:4, 5, represents Antichrist as seated in BABYLON, to which city, literal and spiritual, Isaiah refers here.
15. to hell--to Sheol
thou who hast said, "I will ascend into heaven"
sides of the pit--antithetical to the "sides of the north" (Isa 14:13). Thus the reference is to the sides of the sepulcher round which the dead were arranged in niches. But MAURER here, as in Isa 14:13, translates, "the extreme," or innermost parts of the sepulchre: as in Eze 32:23 (compare 1Sa 24:3).
Isa 14:16-20. THE PASSERS-BY CONTEMPLATE WITH ASTONISHMENT THE BODY OF THE KING OF BABYLON CAST OUT, INSTEAD OF LYING IN A SPLENDID MAUSOLEUM, AND CAN HARDLY BELIEVE THEIR SENSES THAT IT IS HE.
16. narrowly look--to be certain they are not mistaken.
consider--"meditate upon" [HORSLEY].
17. opened not . . . house . . . prisoners--But MAURER, as Margin, "Did not let his captives loose homewards."
18. All--that is, This is the usual practice.
in glory--in a grand mausoleum.
house--that is, "sepulchre," as in Ec 12:5; "grave" (Isa 14:19). To be excluded from the family sepulcher was a mark of infamy (Isa 34:3; Jer 22:19; 1Ki 13:22; 2Ch 21:20; 24:25; 28:27).
19. cast out of--not that he had lain in the grave and was then
cast out of it, but "cast out without a grave,"
such as might have been expected by thee ("thy").
branch--a useless sucker starting up from the root of a tree, and cut away by the husbandman.
raiment of those . . . slain--covered with gore, and regarded with abhorrence as unclean by the Jews. Rather, "clothed (that is, covered) with the slain"; as in Job 7:5, "My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust" [MAURER].
thrust through--that is, "the slain who have been thrust through," &c.
stones of . . . pit--whose bodies are buried in sepulchres excavated amidst stones, whereas the king of Babylon is an unburied "carcass trodden under foot."
20. not . . . joined with them--whereas the princes slain with thee
shall be buried, thou shalt not.
thou . . . destroyed . . . land--Belshazzar (or Naboned) oppressed his land with wars and tyranny, so that he was much hated [XENOPHON, Cyropædia 4.6, 3; 7.5, 32].
seed . . . never be renowned--rather, "shall not be named for ever"; the Babylonian dynasty shall end with Belshazzar; his family shall not be perpetuated [HORSLEY].
Isa 14:21-23. GOD'S DETERMINATION TO DESTROY BABYLON.
21. Prepare, &c.--charge to the Medes and Persians, as if they were
God's conscious instruments.
his children--Belshazzar's (Ex 20:5).
rise--to occupy the places of their fathers.
fill . . . with cities--MAURER translates, "enemies," as the Hebrew means in 1Sa 28:16; Ps 139:20; namely, lest they inundate the world with their armies. VITRINGA translates, "disturbers." In English Version the meaning is, "lest they fill the land with such cities" of pride as Babylon was.
22. against them--the family of the king of Babylon.
name--all the male representatives, so that the name shall become extinct (Isa 56:5; Ru 4:5).
remnant--all that is left of them. The dynasty shall cease (Da 5:28-31). Compare as to Babylon in general, Jer 51:62.
23. bittern--rather, "the hedgehog" [MAURER and
(16:1) states that enormous hedgehogs were found in the islands of the
pools--owing to Cyrus turning the waters of the Euphrates over the country.
besom--sweep-net [MAURER], (1Ki 14:10; 2Ki 21:13).
Isa 14:24-27. A FRAGMENT AS TO THE DESTRUCTION OF THE ASSYRIANS UNDER SENNACHERIB.
This would comfort the Jews when captives in Babylon, being a pledge that God, who had by that time fulfilled the promise concerning Sennacherib (though now still future), would also fulfil His promise as to destroying Babylon, Judah's enemy.
24. In this verse the Lord's thought (purpose) stands in antithesis to the Assyrians' thoughts (Isa 10:7). (See Isa 46:10, 11; 1Sa 15:29; Mal 3:6).
25. That--My purpose, namely, "that."
break . . . yoke-- (Isa 10:27).
my mountains--Sennacherib's army was destroyed on the mountains near Jerusalem (Isa 10:33, 34). God regarded Judah as peculiarly His.
26. This is . . . purpose . . . whole earth--A hint that the prophecy
embraces the present world of all ages in its scope, of which the
purpose concerning Babylon and Assyria, the then representatives of the
world power, is but a part.
hand . . . stretched out upon--namely, in punishment (Isa 5:25).
27. (Da 4:35).
Isa 14:28-32. PROPHECY AGAINST PHILISTIA.
To comfort the Jews, lest they should fear that people; not in order to call the Philistines to repentance, since the prophecy was probably never circulated among them. They had been subdued by Uzziah or Azariah (2Ch 26:6); but in the reign of Ahaz (2Ch 28:18), they took several towns in south Judea. Now Isaiah denounces their final subjugation by Hezekiah.
28. In . . . year . . . Ahaz died--726 B.C. Probably it was in this year that the Philistines threw off the yoke put on them by Uzziah.
29. Palestina--literally, "the land of sojourners."
rod . . . broken--The yoke imposed by Uzziah (2Ch 26:6) was thrown off under Ahaz (2Ch 28:18).
serpent's root--the stock of Jesse (Isa 11:1). Uzziah was doubtless regarded by the Philistines as a biting "serpent." But though the effects of his bite have been got rid of, a more deadly viper, or "cockatrice" (literally, "viper's offspring," as Philistia would regard him), namely, Hezekiah awaits you (2Ki 18:8).
30. first-born of . . . poor--Hebraism, for the
most abject poor; the first-born being the foremost of the family.
Compare "first-born of death"
for the most fatal death. The Jews, heretofore exposed to
Philistine invasions and alarms, shall be in safety. Compare
"Children of the needy," expressing those "needy in condition."
feed--image from a flock feeding in safety.
He shall slay--Jehovah shall. The change of person, "He" after "I," is a common Hebraism.
31. gate--that is, ye who throng the gate; the chief place of concourse
in a city.
from . . . north--Judea, north and east of Palestine.
smoke--from the signal-fire, whereby a hostile army was called together; the Jews' signal-fire is meant here, the "pillar of cloud and fire," (Ex 13:21; Ne 9:19); or else from the region devastated by fire [MAURER]. GESENIUS less probably refers it to the cloud of dust raised by the invading army.
none . . . alone . . . in . . . appointed times--Rather, "There shall not be a straggler among his (the enemy's) levies." The Jewish host shall advance on Palestine in close array; none shall fall back or lag from weariness (Isa 5:26, 27), [LOWTH]. MAURER thinks the Hebrew will not bear the rendering "levies" or "armies." He translates, "There is not one (of the Philistine watch guards) who will remain alone (exposed to the enemy) at his post," through fright. On "alone," compare Ps 102:7; Ho 8:9.
32. messengers of the nation--When messengers come from
Philistia to enquire as to the state of Judea, the reply shall be, that
the Lord . . .
(Ps 87:1, 5; 102:16).
poor-- (Zep 3:12).
Isa 15:1-9. THE FIFTEENTH AND SIXTEENTH CHAPTERS FORM ONE PROPHECY ON MOAB.
LOWTH thinks it was delivered in the first years of Hezekiah's reign and fulfilled in the fourth when Shalmaneser, on his way to invade Israel, may have seized on the strongholds of Moab. Moab probably had made common cause with Israel and Syria in a league against Assyria. Hence it incurred the vengeance of Assyria. Jeremiah has introduced much of this prophecy into his forty-eighth chapter.
1. Because--rather, "Surely"; literally, "(I affirm) that"
night--the time best suited for a hostile incursion (Isa 21:4; Jer 39:4).
Ar--meaning in Hebrew, "the city"; the metropolis of Moab, on the south of the river Arnon.
Kir--literally, "a citadel"; not far from Ar, towards the south.
Bajith--rather, "to the temple" [MAURER]; answering to the "sanctuary" (Isa 16:12), in a similar context.
to Dibon--Rather, as Dibon was in a plain north of the Arnon, "Dibon (is gone up) to the high places," the usual places of sacrifice in the East. Same town as Dimon (Isa 15:9).
to weep--at the sudden calamity.
over Nebo--rather "in Nebo"; not "on account of" Nebo (compare Isa 15:3) [MAURER]. The town Nebo was adjacent to the mountain, not far from the northern shore of the Dead Sea. There it was that Chemosh, the idol of Moab, was worshipped (compare De 34:1).
Medeba--south of Heshbon, on a hill east of Jordan.
baldness . . . beard cut off--The Orientals regarded the beard with peculiar veneration. To cut one's beard off is the greatest mark of sorrow and mortification (compare Jer 48:37).
3. tops of . . . houses--flat; places of resort for prayer, &c., in
weeping abundantly--"melting away in tears." HORSLEY prefers "descending to weep." Thus there is a "parallelism by alternate construction" [LOWTH], or chiasmus; "howl" refers to "tops of houses." "Descending to weep" to "streets" or squares, whither they descend from the housetops.
4. Heshbon--an Amorite city, twenty miles east of Jordan; taken by
Moab after the carrying away of Israel (compare
Elealeh--near Heshbon, in Reuben.
Jahaz--east of Jordan, in Reuben. Near it Moses defeated Sihon.
therefore--because of the sudden overthrow of their cities. Even the armed men, instead of fighting in defense of their land, shall join in the general cry.
life, &c.--rather, "his soul is grieved" (1Sa 1:8) [MAURER].
5. My--The prophet himself is moved with pity for Moab. Ministers,
in denouncing the wrath of God against sinners, should do it with tender
sorrow, not with exultation.
fugitives--fleeing from Moab, wander as far as to Zoar, on the extreme boundary south of the Dead Sea. HORSLEY translates, "her nobility," or "rulers" (Ho 4:18).
heifer, &c.--that is, raising their voices "like a heifer" (compare Jer 48:34, 36). The expression "three years old," implies one at its full vigor (Ge 15:9), as yet not brought under the yoke; as Moab heretofore unsubdued, but now about to be broken. So Jer 31:18; Ho 4:13. MAURER translates, "Eglath" (in English Version, "a heifer") Shelishijah (that is, the third, to distinguish it from two others of the same name).
by the mounting up--up the ascent.
Luhith--a mountain in Moab.
Horonaim--a town of Moab not far from Zoar (Jer 48:5). It means "the two poles," being near caves.
cry of destruction--a cry appropriate to the destruction which visits their country.
6. For--the cause of their flight southwards (2Ki 3:19, 25). "For" the northern regions and even the city Nimrim (the very name of which means "limpid waters," in Gilead near Jordan) are without water or herbage.
7. Therefore--because of the devastation of the land.
abundance--literally, "that which is over and above" the necessaries of life.
brook of . . . willows--The fugitives flee from Nimrim, where the waters have failed, to places better watered. Margin has "valley of Arabians"; that is, to the valley on the boundary between them and Arabia-Petræa; now Wady-el Arabah. "Arabia" means a "desert."
En-eglaim. Not the Agalum of EUSEBIUS,
eight miles from Areopolis towards the south; the context requires a
town on the very borders of Moab or beyond them.
Beer-elim--literally, "the well of the Princes"--(so Nu 21:16-18). Beyond the east borders of Moab.
9. Dimon--same as Dibon
Its waters are the Arnon.
full of blood--The slain of Moab shall be so many.
bring more--fresh calamities, namely, the "lions" afterwards mentioned (2Ki 17:25; Jer 5:6; 15:3). VITRINGA understands Nebuchadnezzar as meant by "the lion"; but it is plural, "lions." The "more," or in Hebrew, "additions," he explains of the addition made to the waters of Dimon by the streams of blood of the slain.
Isa 16:1-14. CONTINUATION OF THE PROPHECY AS TO MOAB.
1. lamb--advice of the prophet to the Moabites who had fled southwards
to Idumea, to send to the king of Judah the tribute of lambs, which they
had formerly paid to Israel, but which they had given up
(2Ki 3:4, 5).
David probably imposed this tribute before the severance of Judah and
Therefore Moab is recommended to gain the favor and protection of
Judah, by paying it to the Jewish king. Type of the need of
submitting to Messiah
from Sela to--rather, "from Petra through (literally, 'towards') the wilderness" [MAURER]. "Sela" means "a rock," Petra in Greek; the capital of Idumea and Arabia-Petræa; the dwellings are mostly hewn out of the rock. The country around was a vast common ("wilderness") or open pasturage, to which the Moabites had fled on the invasion from the west (Isa 15:7).
ruler of the land--namely, of Idumea, that is, the king of Judah; Amaziah had become master of Idumea and Sela (2Ki 14:7).
2. cast out of . . . nest--rather, "as a brood cast out" (in
apposition with "a wandering bird," or rather, wandering birds),
namely, a brood just fledged and expelled from the nest in which they
were hatched [HORSLEY].
daughters of Moab--that is, the inhabitants of Moab. So 2Ki 19:21; Ps 48:11; Jer 46:11; La 4:22 [MAURER].
at the fords--trying to cross the boundary river of Moab, in order to escape out of the land. EWALD and MAURER make "fords" a poetical expression for "the dwellers on Arnon," answering to the parallel clause of the same sense, "daughters of Moab."
3-5. GESENIUS, MAURER,
&c., regard these verses as an address of the fugitive Moabites to the
Jews for protection; they translate
"Let mine outcasts of Moab dwell with thee, Judah"; the
protection will be refused by the Jews, for the pride of Moab
VITRINGA makes it an additional advice to
Moab, besides paying tribute. Give shelter to the Jewish outcasts
who take refuge in thy land
(Isa 16:3, 4);
so "mercy" will be shown thee in turn by whatever king sits on the
"throne" of "David"
Isaiah foresees that Moab will be too proud to pay the tribute, or
conciliate Judah by sheltering its outcasts
therefore judgment shall be executed. However, as Moab just before is
represented as itself an outcast in Idumea, it seems incongruous
that it should be called on to shelter Jewish outcasts. So that
it seems rather to foretell the ruined state of Moab when its people
should beg the Jews for shelter, but be refused for their pride.
make . . . shadow as . . . night . . . in . . . noonday--emblem of a thick shelter from the glaring noonday heat (Isa 4:6; 25:4; 32:2).
bewray . . . wandereth--Betray not the fugitive to his pursuer.
4. Rather, "Let the outcasts of Moab dwell with thee" (Judah)
for the extortioner, &c.--The Assyrian oppressor probably.
is at an end--By the time that Moab begs Judah for shelter, Judah shall be in a condition to afford it, for the Assyrian oppressor shall have been "consumed out of the land."
5. If Judah shelters the suppliant Moab, allowing him to remain in
Idumea, a blessing will redound to Judah itself and its "throne."
truth . . . judgment . . . righteousness--language so divinely framed as to apply to "the latter days" under King Messiah, when "the Lord shall bring again the captivity of Moab" (Ps 72:2; 96:13; 98:9; Jer 48:47; Ro 11:12).
hasting--"prompt in executing."
6. We--Jews. We reject Moab's supplication for his pride.
not be so--rather, "not right"; shall prove vain (Isa 25:10; Jer 48:29, 30; Zep 2:8). "It shall not be so; his lies shall not so effect it."
7. Therefore--all hope of being allowed shelter by the Jews
being cut off.
foundations--that is, "ruins"; because, when houses are pulled down, the "foundations" alone are left (Isa 58:12). Jeremiah, in the parallel place (Jer 48:31), renders it "men," who are the moral foundations or stay of a city.
Kirhareseth--literally, "a citadel of brick."
surely they are stricken--rather, joined with "mourn"; "Ye shall mourn utterly stricken" [MAURER and HORSLEY].
vine of Sibmah--near Heshbon: namely, languishes.
lords of . . . heathen--The heathen princes, the Assyrians, &c., who invaded Moab, destroyed his vines. So Jeremiah in the parallel place (Jer 48:32, 33). MAURER thinks the following words require rather the rendering, "Its (the vine of Sibmah) shoots (the wines got from them) overpowered (by its generous flavor and potency) the lords of the nations" (Ge 49:11, 12, 22).
come . . . Jazer--They (the vine shoots) reached even to Jazer, fifteen miles from Heshbon.
wandered--They overran in wild luxuriance the wilderness of Arabia, encompassing Moab.
the sea--the Dead Sea; or else some lake near Jazer now dry; in Jer 48:32 called "the sea of Jazer"; but see on Jer 48:32 (Ps 80:8-11).
9. I--will bewail for its desolation, though I belong to another
nation (see on
with . . . weeping of Jazer--as Jazer weeps.
shouting for . . . fallen--rather, "Upon thy summer fruits and upon thy luxuriant vines the shouting (the battle shout, instead of the joyous shout of the grape-gatherers, usual at the vintage) is fallen" (Isa 16:10; Jer 25:30; 51:14). In the parallel passage (Jer 48:32) the words substantially express the same sense. "The spoiler is fallen upon thy summer fruits."
10. gladness--such as is felt in gathering a rich harvest. There shall be no harvest or vintage owing to the desolation; therefore no "gladness."
11. bowels--in Scripture the seat of yearning compassion. It means
the inward seat of emotion, the heart, &c.
sound . . . harp--as its strings vibrate when beaten with the plectrum or hand.
12. when it is seen that--rather, "When Moab shall have appeared (before his gods; compare Ex 23:15), when he is weary (that is, when he shall have fatigued himself with observing burdensome rites; 1Ki 18:26, &c.), on the high place (compare Isa 15:2), and shall come to his sanctuary (of the idol Chemosh on Mount Nebo) to pray, he shall not prevail"; he shall effect nothing by his prayers [MAURER].
13. since that time--rather, "respecting that time" [HORSLEY]. BARNES translates it, "formerly" in contrast to "but now" (Isa 16:14): heretofore former prophecies (Ex 15:15; Nu 21:29) have been given as to Moab, of which Isaiah has given the substance: but now a definite and steady time also is fixed.
14. three years . . . hireling--Just as a hireling has his fixed term of engagement, which neither he nor his master will allow to be added to or to be taken from, so the limit within which Moab is to fall is unalterably fixed (Isa 21:16). Fulfilled about the time when the Assyrians led Israel into captivity. The ruins of Elealeh, Heshbon, Medeba, Dibon, &c., still exist to confirm the inspiration of Scripture. The accurate particularity of specification of the places three thousand years ago, confirmed by modern research, is a strong testimony to the truth of prophecy.
Isa 17:1-11. PROPHECY CONCERNING DAMASCUS AND ITS ALLY SAMARIA, that is, Syria and Israel, which had leagued together (seventh and eighth chapters).
Already, Tiglath-pileser had carried away the people of Damascus to Kir, in the fourth year of Ahaz (2Ki 16:9); but now in Hezekiah's reign a further overthrow is foretold (Jer 49:23; Zec 9:1). Also, Shalmaneser carried away Israel from Samaria to Assyria (2Ki 17:6; 18:10, 11) in the sixth year of Hezekiah of Judah (the ninth year of Hoshea of Israel). This prophecy was, doubtless, given previously in the first years of Hezekiah when the foreign nations came into nearer collision with Judah, owing to the threatening aspect of Assyria.
1. Damascus--put before Israel (Ephraim, Isa 17:3), which is chiefly referred to in what follows, because it was the prevailing power in the league; with it Ephraim either stood or fell (Isa 7:1-25).
2. cities of Aroer--that is, the cities round Aroer, and under its
jurisdiction [GESENIUS]. So "cities with their villages"
"Heshbon and all her cities"
Aroer was near Rabbahammon, at the river of Gad, an arm of the Jabbok
founded by the Gadites
for flocks-- (Isa 5:17).
3. fortress . . . cease--The strongholds shall be pulled down
remnant of Syria--all that was left after the overthrow by Tiglath-pileser (2Ki 16:9).
as the glory of . . . Israel--They shall meet with the same fate as Israel, their ally.
4. glory of Jacob--the kingdom of Ephraim and all that they rely on
fatness . . . lean--(See on Isa 10:16).
5. harvestman, &c.--The inhabitants and wealth of Israel shall be
swept away, and but few left behind just as the husbandman gathers the
corn and the fruit, and leaves only a few gleaning ears and grapes
with his arm--He collects the standing grain with one arm, so that he can cut it with the sickle in the other hand.
Rephaim--a fertile plain at the southwest of Jerusalem toward Beth-lehem and the country of the Philistines (2Sa 5:18-22).
6. in it--that is, in the land of Israel.
two or three . . . in the top--A few poor inhabitants shall be left in Israel, like the two or three olive berries left on the topmost boughs, which it is not worth while taking the trouble to try to reach.
7. look to his Maker--instead of trusting in their fortresses-- (Isa 17:3; Mic 7:7).
8. groves--A symbolical tree is often found in Assyrian inscriptions,
representing the hosts of heaven ("Saba"), answering to Ashteroth or
Astarte, the queen of heaven, as Baal or Bel is the king. Hence the
expression, "image of the grove," is explained
images--literally, "images to the sun," that is, to Baal, who answers to the sun, as Astarte to the hosts of heaven (2Ki 23:5; Job 31:26).
9. forsaken bough--rather "the leavings of woods," what the axeman
leaves when he cuts down the grove (compare
which they left because of--rather, "which (the enemies) shall leave for the children of Israel"; literally, "shall leave (in departing) from before the face of the children of Israel" [MAURER]. But a few cities out of many shall be left to Israel, by the purpose of God, executed by the Assyrian.
10. forgotten . . . God of . . . salvation . . . rock--
(De 32:15, 18).
plants--rather, "nursery grounds," "pleasure-grounds" [MAURER].
set in--rather, "set them," the pleasure-grounds.
strange slips--cuttings of plants from far, and therefore valuable.
11. In the day . . . thy plant--rather, "In the day of
thy planting" [HORSLEY].
shalt . . . make . . . grow--MAURER translates, "Thou didst fence it," namely, the pleasure-ground. The parallel clause, "Make . . . flourish," favors English Version. As soon as thou plantest, it grows.
in the morning--that is, immediately after; so in Ps 90:14, the Hebrew, "in the morning," is translated "early."
but . . . shall be a heap--rather, "but (promising as was the prospect) the harvest is gone" [HORSLEY].
in . . . day of grief--rather, "in the day of (expected) possession" [MAURER]. "In the day of inundation" [HORSLEY].
of desperate sorrow--rather, "And the sorrow shall be desperate or irremediable." In English Version "heap" and "sorrow" may be taken together by hendiadys. "The heap of the harvest shall be desperate sorrow" [ROSENMULLER].
Isa 17:12-18:7. SUDDEN DESTRUCTION OF A GREAT ARMY IN JUDEA (namely that of the Assyrian Sennacherib), AND ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE EVENT TO THE ETHIOPIAN AMBASSADORS.
The connection of this fragment with what precedes is: notwithstanding the calamities coming on Israel, the people of God shall not be utterly destroyed (Isa 6:12, 13); the Assyrian spoilers shall perish (Isa 17:13, 14).
12. Woe . . . multitude--rather, "Ho (Hark)!
a noise of," &c. The prophet in vision perceives the vast and
mixed Assyrian hosts (Hebrew, "many peoples," see on
on the hills of Judah (so "mountains,"
but at the "rebuke" of God, they shall "flee as chaff."
to the rushing . . . that make--rather, "the roaring . . . roareth" (compare Isa 8:7; Jer 6:23).
13. shall . . . shall--rather, "God rebuketh
them, and they flee--are chased"; the event is set before the
eyes as actually present, not future.
chaff of . . . mountains--Threshing floors in the East are in the open air on elevated places, so as to catch the wind which separates the chaff from the wheat (Ps 88:13; Ho 13:3).
rolling thing--anything that rolls: stubble.
14. eventide . . . before morning--fulfilled to the letter in the
destruction "before morning" of the vast host that "at eveningtide" was
such a terror ("trouble") to Judah; on the phrase see
Ps 90:6; 30:5.
he is not--namely, the enemy.
us--the Jews. A general declaration of the doom that awaits the foes of God's people (Isa 54:17).
Isaiah announces the overthrow of Sennacherib's hosts and desires the Ethiopian ambassadors, now in Jerusalem, to bring word of it to their own nation; and he calls on the whole world to witness the event (Isa 18:3). As Isa 17:12-14 announced the presence of the foe, so Isa 18:1-7 foretells his overthrow.
1. Woe--The heading in English Version, "God will destroy the
Ethiopians," is a mistake arising from the wrong rendering "Woe,"
whereas the Hebrew does not express a threat, but is an appeal calling attention
"Ho." He is not speaking against but to the Ethiopians,
calling on them to hear his prophetical announcement as to the
destruction of their enemies.
shadowing with wings--rather, "land of the winged bark"; that is, "barks with wing-like sails, answering to vessels of bulrushes" in Isa 18:2; the word "rivers," in the parallelism, also favors it; so the Septuagint and Chaldee [EWALD]. "Land of the clanging sound of wings," that is, armies, as in Isa 8:8; the rendering "bark," or "ship," is rather dubious [MAURER]. The armies referred to are those of Tirhakah, advancing to meet the Assyrians (Isa 37:9). In English Version, "shadowing" means protecting--stretching out its wings to defend a feeble people, namely, the Hebrews [VITRINGA]. The Hebrew for "wings" is the same as for the idol Cneph, which was represented in temple sculptures with wings (Ps 91:4).
beyond--Meroe, the island between the "rivers" Nile and Astaboras is meant, famed for its commerce, and perhaps the seat of the Ethiopian government, hence addressed here as representing the whole empire: remains of temples are still found, and the name of "Tirhakah" in the inscriptions. This island region was probably the chief part of Queen Candace's kingdom (Ac 8:27). For "beyond" others translate less literally "which borderest on."
Ethiopia--literally, "Cush." HORSLEY is probably right that the ultimate and fullest reference of the prophecy is to the restoration of the Jews in the Holy Land through the instrumentality of some distant people skilled in navigation (Isa 18:2; Isa 60:9, 10; Ps 45:15; 68:31; Zep 3:10). Phœnician voyagers coasting along would speak of all Western remote lands as "beyond" the Nile's mouths. "Cush," too, has a wide sense, being applied not only to Ethiopia, but Arabia-Deserta and Felix, and along the Persian Gulf, as far as the Tigris (Ge 2:13).
2. ambassadors--messengers sent to Jerusalem at the time that
negotiations passed between Tirhakah and Hezekiah against the expected
attack of Sennacherib
by . . . sea--on the Nile (Isa 19:5): as what follows proves.
vessels of bulrushes--light canoes, formed of papyrus, daubed over with pitch: so the "ark" in which Moses was exposed (Ex 2:3).
Go--Isaiah tells them to take back the tidings of what God is about to do (Isa 18:4) against the common enemy of both Judah and Ethiopia.
scattered and peeled--rather, "strong and energetic" [MAURER]. The Hebrew for "strong" is literally, "drawn out" (Margin; Ps 36:10; Ec 2:3). "Energetic," literally, "sharp" (Hab 1:8, Margin; the verb means to "sharpen" a sword, Eze 21:15, 16); also "polished." As HERODOTUS (3:20, 114) characterizes the Ethiopians as "the tallest and fairest of men," G. V. SMITH translates, "tall and comely"; literally, "extended" (Isa 45:14, "men of stature") and polished (the Ethiopians had "smooth, glossy skins"). In English Version the reference is to the Jews, scattered outcasts, and loaded with indignity (literally, "having their hair torn off," HORSLEY).
terrible--the Ethiopians famed for warlike prowess [ROSENMULLER]. The Jews who, because of God's plague, made others to fear the like (De 28:37). Rather, "awfully remarkable" [HORSLEY]. God puts the "terror" of His people into the surrounding nations at the first (Ex 23:27; Jos 2:9); so it shall be again in the latter days (Zec 12:2, 3).
from . . . beginning hitherto--so English Version rightly. But GESENIUS, "to the terrible nation (of upper Egypt) and further beyond" (to the Ethiopians, properly so called).
meted out--Hebrew, "of line." The measuring-line was used in destroying buildings (Isa 34:11; 2Ki 21:13; La 2:8). Hence, actively, it means here "a people meting out,--an all-destroying people"; which suits the context better than "meted," passively [MAURER]. HORSLEY, understanding it of the Jews, translates it, "Expecting, expecting (in a continual attitude of expectation of Messiah) and trampled under foot"; a graphic picture of them. Most translate, of strength, strength (from a root, to brace the sinews), that is, a most powerful people.
trodden down--true of the Jews. But MAURER translates it actively, a people "treading under foot" all its enemies, that is, victorious (Isa 14:25), namely, the Ethiopians.
spoiled--"cut up." The Nile is formed by the junction of many streams in Abyssinia, the Atbara, the Astapus or Blue river (between which two rivers Meroe, the "Ethiopia" here meant, lies), and the Astaboras or White river; these streams wash down the soil along their banks in the "land" of Upper Egypt and deposit it on that of Lower Egypt. G. V. SMITH translates it, "Divide." HORSLEY takes it figuratively of the conquering armies which have often "spoiled" Judea.
3. see ye . . . hear ye--rather, "ye shall see . . . shall hear." Call to the whole earth to be witnesses of what Jehovah ("He") is about to do. He will "lift up an ensign," calling the Assyrian motley hosts together (Isa 5:26) on "the mountains" round Jerusalem, to their own destruction. This (the eighteenth chapter) declares the coming overthrow of those armies whose presence is announced in Isa 17:12, 13. The same motive, which led Hezekiah to seek aid from Egypt, led him to accept gladly the Ethiopian Tirhakah's aid (Isa 36:6; 37:9). Ethiopia, Egypt, and Judea were probably leagued together against the common enemy, 713 B.C. See notes on the twenty-second chapter, where a difference of tone (as referring to a different period) as to Ethiopia is observable. HORSLEY takes the "ensign" to be the cross, and the "trumpet" the Gospel trumpet, which shall be sounded more loudly in the last days.
4. take . . . rest . . . consider--I will
calmly look on and not interpose, while all seems to promise
success to the enemy; when figuratively, "the sun's heat" and "the
night dews" ripen their "harvest"; but "before" it reaches its maturity
I will destroy it
Ec 8:11, 12).
like a clear heat--rather, "at the time of the clear (serene) heat" [MAURER].
upon herbs--answering to "harvest" in the parallel clause. MAURER translates, "in the sunlight" (Job 31:26; 37:21; Hab 3:4).
like . . . dew--rather, "at the time of the dew cloud." God's "silence" is mistaken by the ungodly for consent; His delay in taking vengeance for forgetfulness (Ps 50:21); so it shall be before the vengeance which in the last day shall usher in the restoration of the Jews (Isa 34:1-8; 57:11, end of the verse, 2Pe 3:3-10).
5. For--rather, "But."
perfect--perfected. When the enemy's plans are on the verge of completion.
sour grape . . . flower--rather, "when the flower shall become the ripening grape" [MAURER].
sprigs--the shoots with the grapes on them. God will not only disconcert their present plans, but prevent them forming any future ones. HORSLEY takes the "harvest" and vintage here as referring to purifying judgments which cause the excision of the ungodly from the earth, and the placing of the faithful in a state of peace on the earth: not the last judgment (Joh 15:2; Re 14:15-20).
6. birds . . . beasts--transition from the image "sprigs," "branches," to the thing meant: the Assyrian soldiers and leaders shall be the prey of birds and beasts, the whole year through, "winter" and "summer," so numerous shall be their carcasses. HORSLEY translates the Hebrew which is singular: "upon it," not "upon them"; the "it" refers to God's "dwelling-place" (Isa 18:4) in the Holy Land, which Antichrist ("the bird of prey" with the "beasts," his rebel hosts) is to possess himself of, and where he is to perish.
7. present . . . people scattered and peeled--For the
right rendering, see on
The repetition of epithets enhances the honor paid to Jehovah by so
mighty a nation. The Ethiopians, wonder-struck at such an
interposition of Jehovah in behalf of His people, shall send gifts to
Jerusalem in His honor
Thus translate: "a present . . . from a people." Or
translate, as English Version; "the present" will mean "the
people" of Ethiopia converted to God
HORSLEY takes the people converted to Jehovah, as
the Jews in the latter days.
place of the name--where Jehovah peculiarly manifests His glory; Ac 2:10 and 8:27 show how worshippers came up to Jerusalem from Egypt" and "Ethiopia." Frumentius, an Egyptian, in the fourth century, converted Abyssinia to Christianity; and a Christian church, under an abuna or bishop, still flourishes there. The full accomplishment is probably still future.
The nineteenth and twentieth chapters are connected, but with an interval between. Egypt had been held by an Ethiopian dynasty, Sabacho, Sevechus, or Sabacho II, and Tirhakah, for forty or fifty years. Sevechus (called So, the ally of Hoshea, 2Ki 17:4), retired from Lower Egypt on account of the resistance of the priests; and perhaps also, as the Assyrians threatened Lower Egypt. On his withdrawal, Sethos, one of the priestly caste, became supreme, having Tanis ("Zoan") or else Memphis as his capital, 718 B.C.; while the Ethiopians retained Upper Egypt, with Thebes as its capital, under Tirhakah. A third native dynasty was at Sais, in the west of Lower Egypt; to this at a later period belonged Psammetichus, the first who admitted Greeks into Egypt and its armies; he was one of the dodecarchy, a number of petty kings between whom Egypt was divided, and by aid of foreign auxiliaries overcame the rest, 670 B.C. To the divisions at this last time, GESENIUS refers Isa 19:2; and Psammetichus, Isa 19:4, "a cruel lord." The dissensions of the ruling castes are certainly referred to. But the time referred to is much earlier than that of Psammetichus. In Isa 19:1, the invasion of Egypt is represented as caused by "the Lord"; and in Isa 19:17, "Judah" is spoken of as "a terror to Egypt," which it could hardly have been by itself. Probably, therefore, the Assyrian invasion of Egypt under Sargon, when Judah was the ally of Assyria, and Hezekiah had not yet refused tribute as he did in the beginning of Sennacherib's reign, is meant. That Assyria was in Isaiah's mind appears from the way in which it is joined with Israel and Egypt in the worship of Jehovah (Isa 19:24, 25). Thus the dissensions referred to (Isa 19:2) allude to the time of the withdrawal of the Ethiopians from Lower Egypt, probably not without a struggle, especially with the priestly caste; also to the time when Sethos usurped the throne and entered on the contest with the military caste, by the aid of the town populations: when the Saitic dynasty was another cause of division. Sargon's reign was between 722-715 B.C. answering to 718 B.C., when Sethos usurped his throne [G. V. SMITH].
1. burden--(See on
upon . . . cloud-- (Ps 104:3; 18:10).
come into Egypt--to inflict vengeance. "Egypt," in Hebrew, Misraim, plural form, to express the two regions of Egypt. BUNSEN observes, The title of their kings runs thus: "Lord of Upper and Lower Egypt."
idols--the bull, crocodile, &c. The idols poetically are said to be "moved" with fear at the presence of one mightier than even they were supposed to be (Ex 12:12; Jer 43:12).
2. set--stir up. GESENIUS translates, "arm."
Egyptians against the Egyptians--Lower against Upper: and Saitic against both. (See Isa 3:10). NEWTON refers it to the civil wars between Apries and Amasis at the time of Nebuchadnezzar's invasion; also between Tachos, Nectanebus, and the Mendesians, just before Ochus subdued Egypt.
kingdom against kingdom--The Septuagint has "nome against nome"; Egypt was divided into forty-two nomes or districts.
3. spirit--wisdom, for which Egypt was famed
answering to "counsel" in the parallel clause.
fail--literally, "be poured out," that is, be made void (Jer 19:7). They shall "seek" help from sources that can afford none, "charmers," &c. (Isa 8:19).
charmers--literally, "those making a faint sound"; the soothsayers imitated the faint sound which was attributed to the spirits of the dead (see on Isa 8:19).
4. cruel lord--"Sargon," in Hebrew it is lords; but plural is often used to express greatness, where, one alone is meant (Ge 39:2). The parallel word "king" (singular) proves it. NEWTON makes the general reference to be to Nebuchadnezzar, and a particular reference to Cambyses, son of Cyrus (who killed the Egyptian god, Apis), and Ochus, Persian conquerors of Egypt, noted for their "fierce cruelty." GESENIUS refers it to Psammetichus, who had brought into Egypt Greek and other foreign mercenaries to subdue the other eleven princes of the dodecarchy.
5. the sea--the Nile. Physical calamities, it is observed in history, often accompany political convulsions (Eze 30:12). The Nile shall "fail" to rise to its wonted height, the result of which will be barrenness and famine. Its "waters" at the time of the overflow resemble "a sea" [PLINY, Natural History, 85.11]; and it is still called El-Bahr," "the sea," by the Egyptians (Isa 18:2; Jer 51:36). A public record is kept at Cairo of the daily rise of the water at the proper time of overflow, namely, August: if it rises to a less height than twelve cubits, it will not overflow the land, and famine must be the result. So, also, when it rises higher than sixteen; for the waters are not drained off in time sufficient to sow the seed.
6. they shall turn the rivers--rather, "the streams shall become
putrid"; that is, the artificial streams made for irrigation shall
become stagnant and offensive when the waters fail
with the Septuagint, translates, "And waters from the sea shall be
drunk"; by the failure of the river water they shall be reduced to sea
brooks of defence--rather, "canals of Egypt"; "canals," literally, "Niles," Nile canals, the plural of the Egyptian term for the great river. The same Hebrew word, Matzor, whence comes Mitzraim, expresses Egypt, and a place of "defense." HORSLEY, as English Version translates it, "embanked canals,"
reeds . . . flags--the papyrus. "Reed and rush"; utter withering.
7. paper-reeds--rather, pastures, literally, "places naked" of
wood, and famed for rich herbage, on the banks of the Nile [GESENIUS]. Compare
HORSLEY translates, "nakedness upon the river,"
descriptive of the appearance of a river when its bottom is bare and
its banks stripped of verdure by long drought: so Vulgate.
the brooks--the river.
mouth--rather, "the source" [Vulgate]. "Even close to the river's side vegetation shall be so withered as to be scattered in the shape of powder by the wind" (English Version, "driven away") [HORSLEY].
8. fishers--The Nile was famed for fish
many would be thrown out of employment by the failure of fishes.
angle--a hook. Used in the "brooks" or canals, as the "net" was in "the waters" of the river itself.
9. fine flax--GESENIUS, for "fine,"
translates, "combed"; fine "linen"
was worn by the rich only
Egypt was famous for it
The processes of its manufacture are represented on the Egyptian tombs.
Israel learned the art in Egypt
The cloth now found on the mummies was linen, as is shown by the
microscope. WILKINSON mentions linen from Egypt
which has five hundred forty (or two hundred seventy double) threads in
one inch in the warp; whereas some modern cambric has but a hundred
networks--rather, white cloth (Es 1:6; 8:16).
10. in the purposes--rather, "the foundations," that is, "the nobles
shall be broken" or brought low: so
"The princes--the stay of the tribes. The Arabs call a prince "a
pillar of the people" [MAURER]. "Their
weaving-frames" [HORSLEY]. "Dykes"
all that make sluices, &c.--"makers of dams," made to confine the waters which overflow from the Nile in artificial fish-ponds [HORSLEY]. "Makers of gain," that is, the common people who have to earn their livelihood, as opposed to the "nobles" previously [MAURER].
11. Zoan--The Greeks called it Tanis, a city of Lower Egypt, east of
the Tanitic arms of the Nile, now San; it was one the Egyptian towns
nearest to Palestine
the scene of Moses' miracles
(Ps 78:12, 43).
It, or else Memphis, was the capital under Sethos.
I am . . . son of the wise . . . kings--Ye have no advice to suggest to Pharaoh in the crisis, notwithstanding that ye boast of descent from wise and royal ancestors. The priests were the usual "counsellors" of the Egyptian king. He was generally chosen from the priestly caste, or, if from the warrior caste, he was admitted into the sacred order, and was called a priest. The priests are, therefore, meant by the expression, "son of the wise, and of ancient kings"; this was their favorite boast (HERODOTUS, 2.141; compare Am 7:14; Ac 23:6; Php 3:5). "Pharaoh" was the common name of all the kings: Sethos, probably, is here meant.
12. let them know--that is, How is it that, with all their boast of knowing the future [DIODORUS, 1.81], they do not know what Jehovah of hosts . . .
13. Noph--called also Moph; Greek, Memphis
on the western bank of the Nile, capital of Lower Egypt, second only to
Thebes in all Egypt: residence of the kings, until the Ptolemies
removed to Alexandria; the word means the "port of the good" [PLUTARCH]. The military caste probably ruled in
it: "they also are deceived," in fancying their country secure
from Assyrian invasion.
stay of . . . tribes--rather, "corner-stone of her castes" [MAURER], that is, the princes, the two ruling castes, the priests and the warriors: image from a building which rests mainly on its corner-stones (see on Isa 19:10; Isa 28:16; Ps 118:22; Nu 24:17, Margin; Jud 20:2; 1Sa 14:28, Margin; Zec 10:4).
14. err in every work thereof--referring to the anarchy arising from their internal feuds. HORSLEY translates, "with respect to all His (God's) work"; they misinterpreted God's dealings at every step. "Mingled" contains the same image as "drunken"; as one mixes spices with wine to make it intoxicating (Isa 5:22; Pr 9:2, 5), so Jehovah has poured among them a spirit of giddiness, so that they are as helpless as a "drunken man."
15. work for Egypt--nothing which Egypt can do to extricate itself
from the difficulty.
head or tail--high or low (Isa 19:11-15, and Isa 19:8-10).
branch or rush--the lofty palm branch or the humble reed (Isa 9:14, 15; 10:33, 34).
16. like . . . women--timid and helpless
shaking of . . . hand--His judgments by means of the invaders (Isa 10:5, 32; 11:15).
17. Judah . . . terror unto Egypt--not by itself: but
at this time Hezekiah was the active subordinate ally of Assyria in its
invasion of Egypt under Sargon. Similarly to the alliance of Judah with
Assyria here is
where Josiah takes the field against Pharaoh-nechoh of Egypt, probably
as ally of Assyria against Egypt [G. V. SMITH].
VITRINGA explains it that Egypt in its calamities
would remember that prophets of Judah had foretold them, and so Judah
would be "a terror unto Egypt."
18-22. In that day, &c.--Suffering shall lead to repentance. Struck
with "terror" and "afraid"
because of Jehovah's judgments, Egypt shall be converted to Him: nay,
even Assyria shall join in serving Him; so that Israel, Assyria, and
Egypt, once mutual foes, shall be bound together by the tie of a common
faith as one people. So a similar issue from other prophecies
(Isa 18:7; 23:18).
five cities--that is, several cities, as in Isa 17:6; 30:17; Ge 43:34; Le 26:8. Rather, five definite cities of Lower Egypt (Isa 19:11, 13; 30:4), which had close intercourse with the neighboring Jewish cities [MAURER]; some say, Heliopolis, Leontopolis (else Diospolis), Migdol, Daphne (Tahpanes), and Memphis.
language of Canaan--that is, of the Hebrews in Canaan, the language of revelation; figuratively for, They shall embrace the Jewish religion: so "a pure language" and conversion to God are connected in Zep 3:9; as also the first confounding and multiplication of languages was the punishment of the making of gods at Babel, other than the One God. Pentecost (Ac 2:4) was the counterpart of Babel: the separation of nations is not to hinder the unity of faith; the full realization of this is yet future (Zec 14:9; Joh 17:21). The next clause, "swear to the Lord of Hosts," agrees with this view; that is, bind themselves to Him by solemn covenant (Isa 45:23; 65:16; De 6:13).
city of destruction--Onias; "city of the sun," that is, On, or Heliopolis; he persuaded Ptolemy Philometer (149 B.C.) to let him build a temple in the prefecture (nome) of Heliopolis, on the ground that it would induce Jews to reside there, and that the very site was foretold by Isaiah six hundred years before. The reading of the Hebrew text is, however, better supported, "city of destruction"; referring to Leontopolis, the site of Onias' temple: which casts a reproach on that city because it was about to contain a temple rivalling the only sanctioned temple, that at Jerusalem. MAURER, with some manuscripts, reads "city of defense" or "deliverance"; namely, Memphis, or some such city, to which God was about to send "a saviour" (Isa 19:20), to "deliver them."
19. altar--not for sacrifice, but as the "pillar" for memorial and worship
Isaiah does not contemplate a temple in Egypt: for the only
legal temple was at Jerusalem; but, like the patriarchs, they shall
have altars in various places.
pillar--such as Jacob reared (Ge 28:18; 35:14); it was a common practice in Egypt to raise obelisks commemorating divine and great events.
at the border--of Egypt and Judah, to proclaim to both countries the common faith. This passage shows how the Holy Spirit raised Isaiah above a narrow-minded nationality to a charity anticipatory of gospel catholicity.
20. it--the altar and pillar.
a sign--(of the fulfilment of prophecy) to their contemporaries.
a witness--to their descendants.
unto the Lord--no longer, to their idols, but to Jehovah.
for they shall cry--or, "a sign . . . that they cried, . . . and He sent to them a saviour"; probably, Alexander the Great (so "a great one"), whom the Egyptians welcomed as a deliverer (Greek, Soter, a title of the Ptolemies) out of the hands of the Persians, who under Cambyses had been their "oppressors." At Alexandria, called from him, the Old Testament was translated into Greek for the Greek-speaking Jews, who in large numbers dwelt in Egypt under the Ptolemies, his successors. Messiah is the antitype ultimately intended (compare Ac 2:10, "Egypt").
22. return--for heathen sin and idolatry are an apostasy from
heal--as described (Isa 19:18-20).
23. highway--free communication, resting on the highest basis, the
common faith of both
Assyria and Egypt were joined under Alexander as parts of his empire:
Jews and proselytes from both met at the feasts of Jerusalem. A type of
gospel times to come.
serve with--serve Jehovah with the Assyrians. So "serve" is used absolutely (Job 36:11).
24. third--The three shall be joined as one nation.
blessing--the source of blessings to other nations, and the object of their benedictions.
in the midst of the land--rather, "earth" (Mic 5:7). Judah is designed to be the grand center of the whole earth (Jer 3:17).
25. Whom--rather, "Which," namely, "the land," or "earth," that is,
the people of it [MAURER].
my people--the peculiar designation of Israel, the elect people, here applied to Egypt to express its entire admission to religious privileges (Ro 9:24-26; 1Pe 2:9, 10).
work of my hands--spiritually (Ho 2:23; Eph 2:10).
Isa 20:1-6. CONTINUATION OF THE SUBJECT OF THE NINETEENTH CHAPTER, BUT AT A LATER DATE. CAPTIVITY OF EGYPT AND ETHIOPIA.
In the reign of Sargon (722-715 B.C.), the successor of Shalmaneser, an Assyrian invasion of Egypt took place. Its success is here foretold, and hence a party among the Jews is warned of the folly of their "expectation" of aid from Egypt or Ethiopia. At a later period (Isa 18:1-7), when Tirhakah of Ethiopia was their ally, the Ethiopians are treated as friends, to whom God announces the overthrow of the common Assyrian foe, Sennacherib. Egypt and Ethiopia in this chapter (Isa 20:3, 4) are represented as allied together, the result no doubt of fear of the common foe; previously they had been at strife, and the Ethiopian king had, just before Sethos usurpation, withdrawn from occupation of part of Lower Egypt. Hence, "Egypt" is mentioned alone in Isa 19:1-25, which refers to a somewhat earlier stage of the same event: a delicate mark of truth. Sargon seems to have been the king who finished the capture of Samaria which Shalmaneser began; the alliance of Hoshea with So or Sabacho II of Ethiopia, and his refusal to pay the usual tribute, provoked Shalmaneser to the invasion. On clay cylindrical seals found in Sennacherib's palace at Koyunjik, the name of Sabacho is deciphered; the two seals are thought, from the inscriptions, to have been attached to the treaty of peace between Egypt and Assyria, which resulted from the invasion of Egypt by Sargon, described in this chapter; 2Ki 18:10 curiously confirms the view derived from Assyrian inscriptions, that though Shalmaneser began, Sargon finished the conquest of Samaria; "they took it" (compare 2Ki 17:4-6). In Sargon's palace at Khorsabad, inscriptions state that 27,280 Israelites were led captive by the founder of the palace. While Shalmaneser was engaged in the siege of Samaria, Sargon probably usurped the supreme power and destroyed him; the siege began in 723 B.C., and ended in 721 B.C., the first year of Sargon's reign. Hence arises the paucity of inscriptions of the two predecessors of Sargon, Tiglath-pileser and Shalmaneser; the usurper destroyed them, just as Tiglath-pileser destroyed those of Pul (Sardanapalus), the last of the old line of Ninus; the names of his father and grandfather, which have been deciphered in the palace of his son Sennacherib, do not appear in the list of Assyrian kings, which confirms the view that he was a satrap who usurped the throne. He was so able a general that Hezekiah made no attempt to shake off the tribute until the reign of Sennacherib; hence Judah was not invaded now as the lands of the Philistines and Egypt were. After conquering Israel he sent his general, Tartan, to attack the Philistine cities, "Ashdod," &c., preliminary to his invasion of Egypt and Ethiopia; for the line of march to Egypt lay along the southwest coast of Palestine. The inscriptions confirm the prophecy; they tell us he received tribute from a Pharaoh of "Egypt"; besides destroying in part the Ethiopian "No-ammon," or Thebes (Na 3:8); also that he warred with the kings of "Ashdod," Gaza, &c., in harmony with Isaiah here; a memorial tablet of him is found in Cyprus also, showing that he extended his arms to that island. His reign was six or seven years in duration, 722-715 B.C. [G. V. SMITH].
1. Tartan--probably the same general as was sent by Sennacherib
GESENIUS takes "Tartan" as a title.
Ashdod--called by the Greeks Azotus (Ac 8:40); on the Mediterranean, one of the "five" cities of the Philistines. The taking of it was a necessary preliminary to the invasion of Egypt, to which it was the key in that quarter, the Philistines being allies of Egypt. So strongly did the Assyrians fortify it that it stood a twenty-nine years' siege, when it was retaken by the Egyptian Psammetichus.
sent--Sargon himself remained behind engaged with the Phœnician cities, or else led the main force more directly into Egypt out of Judah [G. V. SMITH].
2. by--literally, "by the hand of" (compare
sackcloth--the loose outer garment of coarse dark hair-cloth worn by mourners (2Sa 3:31) and by prophets, fastened at the waist by a girdle (Mt 3:4; 2Ki 1:8; Zec 13:4).
naked--rather, "uncovered"; he merely put off the outer sackcloth, retaining still the tunic or inner vest (1Sa 19:24; Am 2:16; Joh 21:7); an emblem to show that Egypt should be stripped of its possessions; the very dress of Isaiah was a silent exhortation to repentance.
3. three years--Isaiah's symbolical action did not continue all
this time, but at intervals, to keep it before the people's mind
during that period [ROSENMULLER].
Rather, join "three years" with
"sign," a three years' sign, that is, a sign that a three years'
calamity would come on Egypt and Ethiopia
This is the only instance of a strictly symbolical act performed by
Isaiah. With later prophets, as Jeremiah and Ezekiel, such acts were
common. In some cases they were performed, not literally, but only in
wonder--rather, "omen"; conveying a threat as to the future [G. V. SMITH].
upon--in reference to, against.
4. buttocks uncovered--BELZONI says that captives are found represented thus on Egyptian monuments (Isa 47:2, 3; Na 3:5, 8, 9), where as here, Egypt and Ethiopia are mentioned as in alliance.
5. they--the Philistine allies of Egypt who trusted in it for help against Assyria. A warning to the party among the Jews, who, though Judah was then the subordinate ally of Assyria, were looking to Egypt as a preferable ally (Isa 30:7). Ethiopia was their "expectation"; for Palestine had not yet obtained, but hoped for alliance with it. Egypt was their "glory," that is, boast (Isa 13:19); for the alliance with it was completed.
6. isle--that is, coast on the Mediterranean--Philistia, perhaps
Isa 23:2; 11:11; 13:22;
we--emphatical; if Egypt, in which we trusted, was overcome, how shall we, a small weak state, escape?
Isa 21:1-10. REPETITION OF THE ASSURANCE GIVEN IN THE THIRTEENTH AND FOURTEENTH CHAPTERS TO THE JEWS ABOUT TO BE CAPTIVES IN BABYLON, THAT THEIR ENEMY SHOULD BE DESTROYED AND THEY BE DELIVERED.
He does not narrate the event, but graphically supposes himself a watchman in Babylon, beholding the events as they pass.
1. desert--the champaign between Babylon and Persia; it was once a
desert, and it was to become so again.
of the sea--The plain was covered with the water of the Euphrates like a "sea" (Jer 51:13, 36; so Isa 11:15, the Nile), until Semiramis raised great dams against it. Cyrus removed these dykes, and so converted the whole country again into a vast desert marsh.
whirlwinds in the south-- (Job 37:9; Zec 9:14). The south wind comes upon Babylon from the deserts of Arabia, and its violence is the greater from its course being unbroken along the plain (Job 1:19).
desert--the plain between Babylon and Persia.
terrible land--Media; to guard against which was the object of Nitocris' great works [HERODOTUS, 1.185]. Compare as to "terrible" applied to a wilderness, as being full of unknown dangers, De 1:29.
2. dealeth treacherously--referring to the military stratagem
employed by Cyrus in taking Babylon. It may be translated, "is repaid
with treachery"; then the subject of the verb is Babylon. She is
repaid in her own coin;
Go up--Isaiah abruptly recites the order which he hears God giving to the Persians, the instruments of His vengeance (Isa 13:3, 17).
Elam--a province of Persia, the original place of their settlement (Ge 10:22), east of the Euphrates. The name "Persia" was not in use until the captivity; it means a "horseman"; Cyrus first trained the Persians in horsemanship. It is a mark of authenticity that the name is not found before Daniel and Ezekiel [BOCHART].
thereof--the "sighing" caused by Babylon (Isa 14:7, 8).
3. Isaiah imagines himself among the exiles in Babylon and cannot
help feeling moved by the calamities which come on it. So for Moab
(Isa 15:5; 16:11).
pain--(Compare Isa 13:8; Eze 30:4, 19; Na 2:10).
at the hearing--The Hebrew may mean, "I was so bowed down that I could not hear; I was so dismayed that I could not see" (Ge 16:2; Ps 69:23) [MAURER].
4. panted--"is bewildered" [BARNES].
night of my pleasure--The prophet supposes himself one of the banqueters at Belshazzar's feast, on the night that Babylon was about to be taken by surprise; hence his expression, "my pleasure" (Isa 14:11; Jer 51:39; Da 5:1-31).
5. Prepare the table--namely, the feast in Babylon; during which
Cyrus opened the dykes made by Semiramis to confine the Euphrates to one
channel and suffered them to overflow the country, so that he could
enter Babylon by the channel of the river. Isaiah first represents the
king ordering the feast to be got ready. The suddenness of the irruption
of the foe is graphically expressed by the rapid turn in the language to
an alarm addressed to the Babylonian princes, "Arise," &c. (compare
MAURER translates, "They prepare the
table," &c. But see
watch in . . . watchtower--rather, "set the watch." This done, they thought they might feast in entire security. Babylon had many watchtowers on its walls.
anoint . . . shield--This was done to prevent the leather of the shield becoming hard and liable to crack. "Make ready for defense"; the mention of the "shield" alone implies that it is the Babylonian revellers who are called on to prepare for instant self-defense. HORSLEY translates, "Grip the oiled shield."
6. Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth--God's direction to Isaiah to set a watchman to "declare" what he sees. But as in Isa 21:10, Isaiah himself is represented as the one who "declared." HORSLEY makes him the "watchman," and translates, "Come, let him who standeth on the watchtower report what he seeth."
7. chariot, &c.--rather, "a body of riders," namely, some riding in pairs on horses (literally, "pairs of horsemen," that is, two abreast), others on asses, others on camels (compare Isa 21:9; Isa 22:6). "Chariot" is not appropriate to be joined, as English Version translates, with "asses"; the Hebrew means plainly in Isa 21:7, as in Isa 21:9, "a body of men riding." The Persians used asses and camels for war [MAURER]. HORSLEY translates, "One drawn in a car, with a pair of riders, drawn by an ass, drawn by a camel"; Cyrus is the man; the car drawn by a camel and ass yoked together and driven by two postilions, one on each, is the joint army of Medes and Persians under their respective leaders. He thinks the more ancient military cars were driven by men riding on the beasts that drew them; Isa 21:9 favors this.
8. A lion--rather, "(The watchman) cried, I am as a lion"; so as is understood (Isa 62:5; Ps 11:1). The point of comparison to "a lion" is in Re 10:3, the loudness of the cry. But here it is rather his vigilance. The lion's eyelids are short, so that, even when asleep, he seems to be on the watch, awake; hence he was painted on doors of temples as the symbol of watchfulness, guarding the place (Hor. Apollo) [HORSLEY].
9. chariot of men--chariots with men in them; or rather, the same
body of riders, horsemen two abreast, as in
HORSLEY, "The man drawn in a car with a pair of riders." The first half
of this verse describes what the watchman sees; the second half,
what the watchman says, in consequence of what he sees. In the
and Isa 21:9,
the overthrow of Babylon by the horsemen, or man in the car, is
accomplished. The overthrow needed to be announced to the prophet by
the watchman, owing to the great extent of the city. HERODOTUS (1.131) says that one part of the city was
captured some time before the other received the tidings of it.
answered--not to something said previously, but in reference to the subject in the mind of the writer, to be collected from the preceding discourse: proclaimeth (Job 3:2, Margin; Da 2:26; Ac 5:8).
fallen . . . fallen--The repetition expresses emphasis and certainty (Ps 92:9; 93:3; compare Jer 51:8; Re 18:2).
images--Bel, Merodach, &c. (Jer 50:2; 51:44, 52). The Persians had no images, temples, or altars, and charged the makers of such with madness [HERODOTUS 1.131]; therefore they dashed the Babylonian "images broken unto the ground."
10. my threshing--that is, my people (the Jews) trodden down by
corn of my floor--Hebrew, "my son of the floor," that is, my people, treated as corn laid on the floor for threshing; implying, too, that by affliction, a remnant (grain) would be separated from the ungodly (chaff) [MAURER]. HORSLEY translates, "O thou object of my unremitting prophetic pains." See Isa 28:27, 28. Some, from Jer 51:33, make Babylon the object of the threshing; but Isaiah is plainly addressing his countrymen, as the next words show, not the Babylonians.
Isa 21:11, 12. A PROPHECY TO THE IDUMEANS WHO TAUNTED THE AFFLICTED JEWS IN THE BABYLONISH CAPTIVITY.
One out of Seir asks, What of the night? Is there a hope of the dawn of deliverance? Isaiah replies, The morning is beginning to dawn (to us); but night is also coming (to you). Compare Ps 137:7. The Hebrew captives would be delivered, and taunting Edom punished. If the Idumean wish to ask again, he may do so; if he wishes an answer of peace for his country, then let him "return (repent), come" [BARNES].
11. Dumah--a tribe and region of Ishmael in Arabia
now called Dumah the Stony, situated on the confines of Arabia
and the Syrian desert; a part put for the whole of Edom. VITRINGA thinks "Dumah," Hebrew, "silence," is
here used for Idumea, to imply that it was soon to be reduced to
silence or destruction.
Seir--the principal mountain in Idumea, south of the Dead Sea, in Arabia-Petræa. "He calleth" ought to be rather, "There is a call from Seir."
to me--Isaiah. So the heathen Balak and Ahaziah received oracles from a Hebrew prophet.
Watchman--the prophet (Isa 62:6; Jer 6:17), so called, because, like a watchman on the lookout from a tower, he announces future events which he sees in prophetic vision (Hab 2:1, 2).
what of the night--What tidings have you to give as to the state of the night? Rather, "What remains of the night?" How much of it is past? [MAURER]. "Night" means calamity (Job 35:10; Mic 3:6), which, then, in the wars between Egypt and Assyria, pressed sore on Edom; or on Judah (if, as BARNES thinks, the question is asked in mockery of the suffering Jews in Babylon). The repetition of the question marks, in the former view, the anxiety of the Idumeans.
12. Reply of the prophet, The morning (prosperity)
cometh, and (soon after follows) the night (adversity).
Though you, Idumeans, may have a gleam of prosperity, it will soon be
followed by adversity again. Otherwise, as BARNES,
"Prosperity cometh (to the Jews) to be quickly followed by adversity
(to you, Idumeans, who exult in the fall of Jerusalem, have seized on
the southern part of their land in their absence during the captivity,
and now deride them by your question)"
This view is favored by
if ye will inquire, inquire--If ye choose to consult me again, do so (similar phrases occur in Ge 43:14; 2Ki 7:4; Es 4:16).
return, come--"Be converted to God (and then), come" [GESENIUS]; you will then receive a more favorable answer.
Isa 21:13-17. PROPHECY THAT ARABIA WOULD BE OVERRUN BY A FOREIGN FOE WITHIN A YEAR.
Probably in the wars between Assyria and Egypt; Idumea and Arabia lay somewhat on the intermediate line of march.
13. upon--that is, respecting.
forest--not a grove of trees, but a region of thick underwood, rugged and inaccessible; for Arabia has no forest of trees.
travelling companies--caravans: ye shall be driven through fear of the foe to unfrequented routes (Isa 33:8; Jud 5:6; Jer 49:8 is parallel to this passage).
Dedanim--In North Arabia (Ge 25:3; Jer 25:23; Eze 25:13; 27:20; a different "Dedan" occurs Ge 10:7).
14. Tema--a kindred tribe: an oasis in that region
The Temeans give water to the faint and thirsting Dedanites; the
greatest act of hospitality in the burning lands of the East, where
water is so scarce.
prevented--that is, anticipated the wants of the fugitive Dedanites by supplying bread (Ge 14:18).
their bread--rather, "his (the fugitive's) bread"; the bread due to him, necessary for his support; so "thy grave" (Isa 14:19), [MAURER].
15. they--the fugitive Dedanites and other Arabs.
16. years of . . . hireling--(See on
Kedar--a wandering tribe (Ps 120:5). North of Arabia-Petræa, and south of Arabia-Deserta; put for Arabia in general.
17. residue . . . diminished--The remnant of Arab warriors, famous in the bow, left after the invasion, shall be small.
Isa 22:1-14. PROPHECY AS TO AN ATTACK ON JERUSALEM.
That by Sennacherib, in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah; Isa 22:8-11, the preparations for defense and securing of water exactly answer to those in 2Ch 32:4, 5, 30. "Shebna," too (Isa 22:15), was scribe at this time (Isa 36:3) [MAURER]. The language of Isa 22:12-14, as to the infidelity and consequent utter ruin of the Jews, seems rather to foreshadow the destruction by Nebuchadnezzar in Zedekiah's reign, and cannot be restricted to Hezekiah's time [LOWTH].
1. of . . . valley of vision--rather, "respecting the
valley of visions"; namely, Jerusalem, the seat of divine revelations
and visions, "the nursery of prophets" [JEROME],
(Isa 2:3; 29:1;
It lay in a "valley" surrounded by hills higher than Zion and Moriah
thee--the people of Jerusalem personified.
housetops--Panic-struck, they went up on the flat balustraded roofs to look forth and see whether the enemy was near, and partly to defend themselves from the roofs (Jud 9:51, &c.).
2. art--rather, "wert"; for it could not now be said to be "a
The cause of their joy
may have been because Sennacherib had accepted Hezekiah's offer to renew
the payment of tribute, and they were glad to have peace on any terms,
or on account of the alliance with Egypt. If the reference be to
Zedekiah's time, the joy and feasting are not inapplicable, for this
recklessness was a general characteristic of the unbelieving Jews
not slain with the sword--but with the famine and pestilence about to be caused by the coming siege (La 4:9). MAURER refers this to the plague by which he thinks Sennacherib's army was destroyed, and Hezekiah was made sick (Isa 37:36; 38:1). But there is no authority for supposing that the Jews in the city suffered such extremities of plague at this time, when God destroyed their foes. BARNES refers it to those slain in flight, not in open honorable "battle"; Isa 22:3 favors this.
3. rulers--rather, "generals"
Jud 11:6, 11).
bound--rather, "are taken."
by the archers--literally, "by the bow"; so Isa 21:17. Bowmen were the light troops, whose province it was to skirmish in front and (2Ki 6:22) pursue fugitives (2Ki 25:5); this verse applies better to the attack of Nebuchadnezzar than that of Sennacherib.
all . . . in thee--all found in the city (Isa 13:15), not merely the "rulers" or generals.
fled from far--those who had fled from distant parts to Jerusalem as a place of safety; rather, fled afar.
4. Look . . . from me--Deep grief seeks to be alone; while others
feast joyously, Isaiah mourns in prospect of the disaster coming on
(Mic 1:8, 9).
daughter, &c.--(see on Isa 1:8; La 2:11).
5. trouble . . . by the Lord--that is, sent by or from the Lord
valley of vision--(See on Isa 22:1). Some think a valley near Ophel is meant as about to be the scene of devastation (compare see on Isa 32:13,14).
breaking . . . walls--that is, "a day of breaking the walls" of the city.
crying to the mountains--the mournful cry of the townsmen "reaches" to (MAURER translates, towards) the mountains, and is echoed back by them. JOSEPHUS describes in the very same language the scene at the assault of Jerusalem under Titus. To this the prophecy, probably, refers ultimately. If, as some think, the "cry" is that of those escaping to the mountains, compare Mt 13:14; 24:16, with this.
6. Elam--the country stretching east from the Lower Tigris,
answering to what was afterwards called Persia (see on
Later, Elam was a province of Persia
In Sennacherib's time, Elam was subject to Assyria
and so furnished a contingent to its invading armies. Famed for the bow
in which the Ethiopians alone excelled them.
with chariots of men and horsemen--that is, they used the bow both in chariots and on horseback. "Chariots of men," that is, chariots in which men are borne, war chariots (compare see on Isa 21:7; Isa 21:9).
Kir--another people subject to Assyria (2Ki 16:9); the region about the river Kur, between the Caspian and Black Seas.
uncovered--took off for the battle the leather covering of the shield, intended to protect the embossed figures on it from dust or injury during the march. "The quiver" and "the shield" express two classes--light and heavy armed troops.
7. valleys--east, north, and south of Jerusalem: Hinnom on the south
side was the richest valley.
in array at the gate--Rab-shakeh stood at the upper pool close to the city (Isa 36:11-13).
8. he discovered the covering--rather, "the veil of Judah shall be
taken off" [HORSLEY]: figuratively for,
exposing to shame as a captive
Sennacherib dismantled all "the defensed cities of Judah"
thou didst look--rather, "thou shalt look."
house of . . . forest--The house of armory built of cedar from the forest of Lebanon by Solomon, on a slope of Zion called Ophel (1Ki 7:2; 10:17; Ne 3:19). Isaiah says (Isa 22:8-13) his countrymen will look to their own strength to defend themselves, while others of them will drown their sorrows as to their country in feasting, but none will look to Jehovah.
9. Ye have seen--rather, "Ye shall see."
city of David--the upper city, on Zion, the south side of Jerusalem (2Sa 5:7, 9; 1Ki 8:1); surrounded by a wall of its own; but even in it there shall be "breaches." Hezekiah's preparations for defense accord with this (2Ch 32:5).
ye gathered--rather, "ye shall gather."
lower pool--(See on Isa 22:11). Ye shall bring together into the city by subterranean passages cut in the rock of Zion, the fountain from which the lower pool (only mentioned here) is supplied. See on Isa 7:3; 2Ki 20:20; 2Ch 32:3-5, represent Hezekiah as having stopped the fountains to prevent the Assyrians getting water. But this is consistent with the passage here. The superfluous waters of the lower pool usually flowed into Hinnom valley, and so through that of Jehoshaphat to the brook Kedron. Hezekiah built a wall round it, stopped the outflowing of its waters to debar the foe from the use of them, and turned them into the city.
10. numbered--rather, "ye shall number," namely, in order to see
which of them may be pulled down with the least loss to the city, and
with most advantage for the repair of the walls and rearing of towers
have ye broken down--rather, "ye shall break down."
11. Ye made . . . a ditch--rather, "Ye shall make a reservoir" for
receiving the water. Hezekiah surrounded Siloah, from which the old
(or king's, or upper) pool took its rise, with a wall joined to the wall
of Zion on both sides; between these two walls he made a new pool, into
which he directed the waters of the former, thus cutting off the foe
from his supply of water also. The opening from which the upper pool
received its water was nearer Zion than the other from which the lower
pool took its rise, so that the water which flowed from the former could
easily be shut in by a wall, whereas that which flowed from the latter
could only be brought in by subterranean conduits (compare
2Ch 32:3-5, 30;
Ecclesiasticus 48:17). Both were southwest of Jerusalem.
have not looked . . . neither had respect--answering by contrast to "Thou didst look to the armor, ye have seen ('had respect', or 'regard to') the breaches" (Isa 22:8, 9).
maker thereof--God, by whose command and aid these defenses were made, and who gave this fountain "long ago." G. V. SMITH translates, "Him who doeth it," that is, has brought this danger on you--"Him who hath prepared it from afar," that is, planned it even from a distant time.
12. did the Lord God call--Usually the priests gave the summons
to national mourning
now JEHOVAH Himself shall give it; the "call"
shall consist in the presence of a terrible foe. Translate, "shall
baldness--emblem of grief (Job 1:20; Mic 1:16).
13. Notwithstanding Jehovah's "call to mourning" (Isa 22:12), many shall make the desperate state of affairs a reason for reckless revelry (Isa 5:11, 12, 14; Jer 18:12; 1Co 15:32).
Isa 22:15-25. PROPHECY THAT SHEBNA SHOULD BE DEPOSED FROM BEING PREFECT OF THE PALACE, AND ELIAKIM PROMOTED TO THE OFFICE.
In Isa 36:3, 22; 37:2, we find Shebna "a scribe," and no longer prefect of the palace ("over the household"), and Eliakim in that office, as is here foretold. Shebna is singled out as the subject of prophecy (the only instance of an individual being so in Isaiah), as being one of the irreligious faction that set at naught the prophet's warnings (Isa 28:1-33:24); perhaps it was he who advised the temporary ignominious submission of Hezekiah to Sennacherib.
15. Go, get thee unto--rather, "Go in to" (that is, into the house to).
treasurer--"him who dwells in the tabernacle" [JEROME]; namely, in a room of the temple set apart for the treasurer. Rather, "the king's friend," or "principal officer of the court" (1Ki 4:5; 18:3; 1Ch 27:33, "the king's counsellor") [MAURER]. "This" is prefixed contemptuously (Ex 32:1).
unto Shebna--The Hebrew for "unto" indicates an accosting of Shebna with an unwelcome message.
16. What . . . whom--The prophet accosts Shebna at the very place where
he was building a grand sepulcher for himself and his family (compare
Ge 23:1-20; 49:29; 50:13).
"What (business) hast thou here, and whom hast thou (of
thy family, who is likely to be buried) here, that thou
buildest," &c., seeing that thou art soon to be deposed from
office and carried into captivity? [MAURER].
on high--Sepulchres were made in the highest rocks (2Ch 32:33, Margin).
habitation for himself--compare "his own house" (Isa 14:18).
17. carry . . . away with . . .
captivity--rather, "will cast thee away with a mighty throw"
[MAURER]. "Mighty," literally, "of a man" (so
surely cover--namely, with shame, where thou art rearing a monument to perpetuate thy fame [VITRINGA]. "Rolling will roll thee," that is, will continually roll thee on, as a ball to be tossed away [MAURER]. Compare Isa 22:18.
18. violently turn and toss--literally, "whirling He will whirl thee,"
that is, He will, without intermission, whirl thee
[MAURER]. "He will
whirl thee round and round, and (then) cast thee away," as a stone in a
sling is first whirled round repeatedly, before the string is let go
large country--perhaps Assyria.
chariots . . . shall be the shame of thy lord's house--rather, "thy splendid chariots shall be there, O thou disgrace of thy lord's house" [NOYES]; "chariots of thy glory" mean "thy magnificent chariots." It is not meant that he would have these in a distant land, as he had in Jerusalem, but that he would be borne thither in ignominy instead of in his magnificent chariots. The Jews say that he was tied to the tails of horses by the enemy, to whom he had designed to betray Jerusalem, as they thought he was mocking them; and so he died.
he--God. A similar change of persons occurs in Isa 34:16.
20. son of Hilkiah--supposed by KIMCHI to be the same as Azariah, son of Hilkiah, who perhaps had two names, and who was "over the household" in Hezekiah's time (1Ch 6:13).
21. thy robe--of office.
girdle--in which the purse was carried, and to it was attached the sword; often adorned with gold and jewels.
father--that is, a counsellor and friend.
22. key--emblem of his office over the house; to "open" or "shut";
access rested with him.
upon . . . shoulder--So keys are carried sometimes in the East, hanging from the kerchief on the shoulder. But the phrase is rather figurative for sustaining the government on one's shoulders. Eliakim, as his name implies, is here plainly a type of the God-man Christ, the son of "David," of whom Isaiah (Isa 9:6) uses the same language as the former clause of this verse. In Re 3:7, the same language as the latter clause is found (compare Job 12:14).
23. nail . . . sure place--Large nails or pegs stood
in ancient houses on which were suspended the ornaments of the family.
The sense is: all that is valuable to the nation shall rest securely on
"nail" is used of the large spike driven into the ground to fasten the
cords of the tent to.
throne--resting-place to his family, as applied to Eliakim; but "throne," in the strict sense, as applied to Messiah, the antitype (Lu 1:32, 33).
24. Same image as in
It was customary to "hang" the valuables of a house on nails
(1Ki 10:16, 17, 21;
offspring and the issue--rather, "the offshoots of the family, high and low" [VITRINGA]. Eliakim would reflect honor even on the latter.
vessels of cups--of small capacity: answering to the low and humble offshoots.
vessels of flagons--larger vessels: answering to the high offshoots.
25. nail . . . fastened--Shebna, who was supposed to be firmly
fixed in his post.
burden . . . upon it--All that were dependent on Shebna, all his emoluments and rank will fail, as when a peg is suddenly "cut down," the ornaments on it fall with it. Sin reaches in its effects even to the family of the guilty (Ex 20:5).
Isa 23:1-18. PROPHECY RESPECTING TYRE.
MENANDER, the historian, notices a siege of Tyre by Shalmaneser, about the time of the siege of Samaria. Sidon, Acco, and Old Tyre, on the mainland, were soon reduced; but New Tyre, on an island half a mile from the shore, held out for five years. Sargon probably finished the siege. Sennacherib does not, however, mention it among the cities which the Assyrian kings conquered (thirty-sixth and thirty-seventh chapters). The expression, "Chaldeans" (Isa 23:13), may imply reference to its siege under Nebuchadnezzar, which lasted thirteen years. Alexander the Great destroyed New Tyre after a seven months' siege.
1. Tyre--Hebrew, Tsur, that is, "Rock."
ships of Tarshish--ships of Tyre returning from their voyage to Tarshish, or Tartessus in Spain, with which the Phœnicians had much commerce (Eze 27:12-25). "Ships of Tarshish" is a phrase also used of large and distant-voyaging merchant vessels (Isa 2:16; 1Ki 10:22; Ps 48:7).
no house--namely, left; such was the case as to Old Tyre, after Nebuchadnezzar's siege.
no entering--There is no house to enter (Isa 24:10) [G. V. SMITH]. Or, Tyre is so laid waste, that there is no possibility of entering the harbor [BARNES]; which is appropriate to the previous "ships."
Chittim--Cyprus, of which the cities, including Citium in the south (whence came "Chittim"), were mostly Phœnician (Eze 27:6). The ships from Tarshish on their way to Tyre learn the tidings ("it is revealed to them") of the downfall of Tyre. At a later period Chittim denoted the islands and coasts of the Mediterranean (Da 11:30).
2. Be still--"struck dumb with awe." Addressed to those already in
the country, eye-witnesses of its ruin
or, in contrast to the busy din of commerce once heard in Tyre;
now all is hushed and still.
isle--strictly applicable to New Tyre: in the sense coast, to the mainland city, Old Tyre (compare Isa 23:6; Isa 20:6).
Zidon--of which Tyre was a colony, planted when Zidon was conquered by the Philistines of Ascalon. Zidon means a "fishing station"; this was its beginning.
replenished--with wealth and an industrious population (Eze 27:3, 8, 23). Here "Zidon," as the oldest city of Phœnicia, includes all the Phœnician towns on the strip of "coast." Thus, Eth-baal, king of Tyre [JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 8.3,2], is called king of the Sidonians (1Ki 16:31); and on coins Tyre is called the metropolis of the Sidonians.
3. great waters--the wide waters of the sea.
seed--"grain," or crop, as in 1Sa 8:15; Job 39:12.
Sihor--literally, "dark-colored"; applied to the Nile, as the Egyptian Jeor, and the Greek Melas, to express the "dark, turbid" colors given to its waters by the fertilizing soil which it deposits at its yearly overflow (Jer 2:18).
harvest of the river--the growth of the Delta; the produce due to the overflow of the Nile: Egypt was the great granary of corn in the ancient world (Ge 41:1-57; 42:1-38; 43:1-34).
her revenue--Tyrian vessels carried Egyptian produce obtained in exchange for wine, oil, glass, &c., into various lands, and so made large profits.
mart-- (Eze 27:3). No city was more favorably situated for commerce.
4. Zidon--called on, as being the parent country of Tyre (Isa 23:12), and here equivalent to Phœnicia in general, to feel the shame (as it was esteemed in the East) of being now as childless as if she never had any. "I (no more now) travail, nor bring forth," &c. "Strength of the sea," that is, stronghold, namely, New Tyre, on a rock (as "Tyre" means) surrounded by the sea (Eze 26:4, 14-17; so Venice was called "Bride of the sea"; Zec 9:3).
5. As, &c.--rather, "When the report (shall reach) the people of Egypt, they shall be sorely pained at the report concerning Tyre" (namely, its overthrow). So JEROME, "When the Egyptians shall hear that so powerful a neighboring nation has been destroyed, they must know their own end is near" [LOWTH, &c.].
6. Pass . . . over--Escape from Tyre to your colonies as Tarshish (compare Isa 23:12). The Tyrians fled to Carthage and elsewhere, both at the siege under Nebuchadnezzar and that under Alexander.
7. Is this silent ruin all that is left of your once
antiquity--The Tyrian priests boasted in HERODOTUS' time that their city had already existed 2300 years: an exaggeration, but still implying that it was ancient even then.
her own feet--walking on foot as captives to an enemy's land.
8. Who--answered in
"The Lord of hosts."
crowning--crown-giving; that is, the city from which dependent kingdoms had arisen, as Tartessus in Spain, Citium in Cyprus, and Carthage in Africa (Eze 27:33).
traffickers--literally, "Canaanites," who were famed for commerce (compare Ho 12:7, Margin).
9. Whoever be the instruments in overthrowing haughty sinners, God,
who has all hosts at His command, is the First Cause
stain--rather, "to profane"; as in Ex 31:14, the Sabbath, and other objects of religious reverence; so here, "the pride of all glory" may refer to the Tyrian temple of Hercules, the oldest in the world, according to ARRIAN (Isa 2:16); the prophet of the true God would naturally single out for notice the idol of Tyre [G. V. SMITH]. It may, however, be a general proposition; the destruction of Tyre will exhibit to all how God mars the luster of whatever is haughty (Isa 2:11).
10. a river--Hebrew, "the river," namely, Nile.
daughter of Tarshish--Tyre and its inhabitants (Isa 1:8), about henceforth, owing to the ruin of Tyre, to become inhabitants of its colony, Tartessus: they would pour forth from Tyre, as waters flow on when the barriers are removed [LOWTH]. Rather, Tarshish, or Tartessus and its inhabitants, as the phrase usually means: they had been kept in hard bondage, working in silver and lead mines near Tarshish, by the parent city (Eze 26:17): but now "the bond of restraint" (for so "strength," Margin, "girdle," that is, bond, Ps 2:3, ought to be translated) is removed, since Tyre is no more.
kingdoms--the Phœnician cities and colonies.
the merchant city--rather, Canaan, meaning the north of it, namely, Phœnicia. On their coins, they call their country Canaan.
rejoice--riotously (Isa 23:7).
oppressed--"deflowered"; laying aside the figure "taken by storm"; the Arabs compare a city never taken to an undefiled virgin (compare Na 3:5, &c.).
daughter of Zidon--Tyre: or else, sons of Zidon, that is, the whole land and people of Phœnicia (see on Isa 23:2) [MAURER].
Chittim--Citium in Cyprus (Isa 23:1).
there also . . . no rest--Thy colonies, having been harshly treated by thee, will now repay thee in kind (see on Isa 23:10). But VITRINGA refers it to the calamities which befell the Tyrians in their settlements subsequently, namely, Sicily, Corcyra, Carthage, and Spain, all flowing from the original curse of Noah against the posterity of Canaan (Ge 9:25-27).
13. Behold--Calling attention to the fact, so humiliating to Tyre,
that a people of yesterday, like the Chaldees, should destroy the most
ancient of cities, Tyre.
was not--had no existence as a recognized nation; the Chaldees were previously but a rude, predatory people (Job 1:17).
Assyrian founded it--The Chaldees ("them that dwell in the wilderness") lived a nomadic life in the mountains of Armenia originally (Arphaxad, in Ge 10:22, refers to such a region of Assyria near Armenia), north and east of Assyria proper. Some may have settled in Mesopotamia and Babylonia very early and given origin to the astrologers called Chaldees in later times. But most of the people had been transferred only a little before the time of this prophecy from their original seats in the north to Mesopotamia, and soon afterwards to South Babylonia. "Founded it," means "assigned it (the land) to them who had (heretofore) dwelt in the wilderness" as a permanent settlement (so in Ps 104:8) [MAURER]. It was the Assyrian policy to infuse into their own population of the plain the fresh blood of hardy mountaineers, for the sake of recruiting their armies. Ultimately the Chaldees, by their powerful priest-caste, gained the supremacy and established the later or Chaldean empire. HORSLEY refers it to Tyre, founded by an Assyrian race.
towers thereof--namely, of Babylon, whose towers, HERODOTUS says, were "set up" by the Assyrians [BARNES]. Rather, "The Chaldees set up their siege-towers" against Tyre, made for the attack of high walls, from which the besiegers hurled missiles, as depicted in the Assyrian sculptures [G. V. SMITH].
raised up--rather, "They lay bare," namely, the foundations of "her (Tyre's) palaces," that is, utterly overthrew them (Ps 137:7).
14. strength--stronghold (compare Eze 26:15-18).
15. forgotten--Having lost its former renown, Tyre shall be in
seventy years--(so Jer 25:11, 12; 29:10).
days of one king--that is, a dynasty. The Babylonian monarchy lasted properly but seventy years. From the first year of Nebuchadnezzar to the taking of Babylon, by Cyrus, was seventy years; then the subjected nations would be restored to liberty. Tyre was taken in the middle of that period, but it is classed in common with the rest, some conquered sooner and others later, all, however, alike to be delivered at the end of the period. So "king" is used for dynasty (Da 7:17; 8:20): Nebuchadnezzar, his son Evil-merodach, and his grandson, Belshazzar, formed the whole dynasty (Jer 25:11, 12; 27:7; 29:10).
shall Tyre sing as . . . harlot--It shall be to Tyre as the song of the harlot, namely, a harlot that has been forgotten, but who attracts notice again by her song. Large marts of commerce are often compared to harlots seeking many lovers, that is, they court merchants of all nations, and admit any one for the sake of gain (Na 3:4; Re 18:3). Covetousness is closely akin to idolatry and licentiousness, as the connection (Eph 5:5; Col 3:5) proves (compare Isa 2:6-8, 16).
16. Same figure [Isa 23:15] to express that Tyre would again prosper and attract commercial intercourse of nations to her, and be the same joyous, self-indulging city as before.
17. visit--not in wrath, but mercy.
hire--image from a harlot: her gains by commerce. After the Babylonian dynasty was ended, Tyre was rebuilt; also, again, after the destruction under Alexander.
18. merchandise . . . holiness--Her traffic and gains shall at last
(long after the restoration mentioned in
be consecrated to Jehovah. Jesus Christ visited the neighborhood of
Paul found disciples there
it early became a Christian bishopric, but the full evangelization of
that whole race, as of the Ethiopians
of the Egyptians and Assyrians
is yet to come
not treasured--but freely expended in His service.
them that dwell before the Lord--the ministers of religion. But HORSLEY translates, "them that sit before Jehovah" as disciples.
durable clothing--Changes of raiment constituted much of the wealth of former days.
Isa 24:1-23. THE LAST TIMES OF THE WORLD IN GENERAL, AND OF JUDAH AND THE CHURCH IN PARTICULAR.
The four chapters (the twenty-fourth through the twenty-seventh) form one continuous poetical prophecy: descriptive of the dispersion and successive calamities of the Jews (Isa 24:1-12); the preaching of the Gospel by the first Hebrew converts throughout the world (Isa 24:13-16); the judgments on the adversaries of the Church and its final triumph (Isa 24:16-23); thanksgiving for the overthrow of the apostate faction (Isa 25:1-12), and establishment of the righteous in lasting peace (Isa 26:1-21); judgment on leviathan and entire purgation of the Church (Isa 27:1-13). Having treated of the several nations in particular--Babylon, Philistia, Moab, Syria, Israel, Egypt, Edom, and Tyre (the miniature representative of all, as all kingdoms flocked into it)--he passes to the last times of the world at large and of Judah the representative and future head of the churches.
1. the earth--rather, "the land" of Judah (so in Isa 24:3, 5, 6; Joe 1:2). The desolation under Nebuchadnezzar prefigured that under Titus.
2. as with the people, so with the priest--All alike shall share the same calamity: no favored class shall escape (compare Eze 7:12, 13; Ho 4:9; Re 6:15).
4. world--the kingdom of Israel; as in
haughty--literally, "the height" of the people: abstract for concrete, that is, the high people; even the nobles share the general distress.
5. earth--rather, "the land."
defiled under . . . inhabitants--namely, with innocent blood (Ge 4:11; Nu 35:33; Ps 106:38).
laws . . . ordinance . . . everlasting covenant--The moral laws, positive statutes, and national covenant designed to be for ever between God and them.
6. earth--the land.
burned--namely, with the consuming wrath of heaven: either internally, as in Job 30:30 [ROSENMULLER]; or externally, the prophet has before his eyes the people being consumed with the withering dryness of their doomed land (so Joe 1:10, 12), [MAURER].
7. mourneth--because there are none to drink it
[BARNES]. Rather, "is
become vapid" [HORSLEY].
languisheth--because there are none to cultivate it now.
8. (Re 18:22).
9. with a song--the usual accompaniment of feasts.
strong drink--(See on Isa 5:11). "Date wine" [HORSLEY].
bitter--in consequence of the national calamities.
10. city of confusion--rather, "desolation." What Jerusalem would
be; by anticipation it is called so.
HORSLEY translates, "The city is
broken down; it is a ruin."
shut up--through fear; or rather, "choked up by ruins."
11. crying for wine--to drown their sorrows in drink (Isa 16:9); Joe 1:5, written about the same time, resembles this.
12. with destruction--rather "crash" [GESENIUS]. "With a great tumult the gate is battered down" [HORSLEY].
13. the land--Judea. Put the comma after "land," not after "people." "There shall be among the people (a remnant left), as the shaking (the after-picking) of an olive tree"; as in gathering olives, a few remain on the highest boughs (Isa 17:5, 6).
14. They--those who are left: the remnant.
sing for the majesty of the Lord--sing a thanksgiving for the goodness of the Lord, who has so mercifully preserved them.
from the sea--from the distant lands beyond the sea, whither they have escaped.
15. in the fires--VITRINGA translates, "in the caves." Could it mean the fires of affliction (1Pe 1:7)? They were exiles at the time. The fires only loose the carnal bonds off the soul, without injuring a hair, as in the case of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. LOWTH reads, in the islands (Eze 26:18). Rather translate for "fires," "in the regions of morning light," that is, the east, in antithesis to the "isles of the sea," that is, the west [MAURER]. Wheresoever ye be scattered, east or west, still glorify the Lord (Mal 1:11).
16. Songs to God come in together to Palestine from distant lands,
as a grand chorus.
glory to the righteous--the burden of the songs (Isa 26:2, 7). Amidst exile, the loss of their temple, and all that is dear to man, their confidence in God is unshaken. These songs recall the joy of other times and draw from Jerusalem in her present calamities, the cry, "My leanness." HORSLEY translates, "glory to the Just One"; then My leanness expresses his sense of man's corruption, which led the Jews, "the treacherous dealers" (Jer 5:11), to crucify the Just One; and his deficiency of righteousness which made him need to be clothed with the righteousness of the Just One (Ps 106:15).
treacherous dealers--the foreign nations that oppress Jerusalem, and overcome it by stratagem (so in Isa 21:2) [BARNES].
17. This verse explains the wretchedness spoken of in Isa 24:16. Jeremiah (Jer 48:43, 44) uses the same words. They are proverbial; Isa 24:18 expressing that the inhabitants were nowhere safe; if they escaped one danger, they fell into another, and worse, on the opposite side (Am 5:19). "Fear" is the term applied to the cords with feathers of all colors which, when fluttered in the air, scare beasts into the pitfall, or birds into the snare. HORSLEY makes the connection. Indignant at the treatment which the Just One received, the prophet threatens the guilty land with instant vengeance.
18. noise of . . . fear--the shout designed to rouse the game and drive
it into the pitfall.
windows . . . open--taken from the account of the deluge (Ge 7:11); the flood-gates. So the final judgments of fire on the apostate world are compared to the deluge (2Pe 3:5-7).
19. earth--the land: image from an earthquake.
20. removed like a cottage--(See on
Here, a hanging couch, suspended from the trees by cords, such
as NIEBUHR describes the Arab keepers of lands as
having, to enable them to keep watch, and at the same time to be secure
from wild beasts. Translate, "Shall wave to and fro like a hammock"
swung about by the wind.
heavy upon it--like an overwhelming burden.
not rise again--not meaning, that it never would rise (Isa 24:23), but in those convulsions it would not rise, it would surely fall.
21. host of . . . high ones--the heavenly host, that is, either the visible host of heaven (the present economy of nature, affected by the sun, moon, and stars, the objects of idolatry, being abolished, Isa 65:17; 60:19, simultaneously with the corrupt polity of men); or rather, "the invisible rulers of the darkness of this world," as the antithesis to "kings of the earth" shows. Angels, moreover, preside, as it were, over kingdoms of the world (Da 10:13, 20, 21).
22. in the pit--rather, "for the pit"
[HORSLEY]. "In the dungeon"
Image from captives thrust together into a dungeon.
prison--that is, as in a prison. This sheds light on the disputed passage, 1Pe 3:19, where also the prison is figurative: The "shutting up" of the Jews in Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar, and again under Titus, was to be followed by a visitation of mercy "after many days"--seventy years in the case of the former--the time is not yet elapsed in the case of the latter. HORSLEY takes "visited" in a bad sense, namely, in wrath, as in Isa 26:14; compare Isa 29:6; the punishment being the heavier in the fact of the delay. Probably a double visitation is intended, deliverance to the elect, wrath to hardened unbelievers; as Isa 24:23 plainly contemplates judgments on proud sinners, symbolized by the "sun" and "moon."
Still future: of which Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem amidst
hosannas was a pledge.
his ancients--the elders of His people; or in general, His ancient people, the Jews. After the overthrow of the world kingdoms. Jehovah's shall be set up with a splendor exceeding the light of the sun and moon under the previous order of things (Isa 60:19, 20).
Isa 25:1-12. CONTINUATION OF THE TWENTY-FOURTH CHAPTER. THANKSGIVING FOR THE OVERTHROW OF THE APOSTATE FACTION, AND THE SETTING UP OF JEHOVAH'S THRONE ON ZION.
The restoration from Babylon and re-establishment of the theocracy was a type and pledge of this.
counsels of old-- (Isa 42:9; 46:10). Purposes planned long ago; here, as to the deliverance of His people.
truth--Hebrew, Amen; covenant-keeping, faithful to promises; the peculiar characteristic of Jesus (Re 3:14).
2. a city . . . heap--Babylon, type of the seat of
Antichrist, to be destroyed in the last days (compare
with Re 18:1-24,
followed, as here, by the song of the saints' thanksgiving in
"Heaps" is a graphic picture of Babylon and Nineveh as they now are.
palace--Babylon regarded, on account of its splendor, as a vast palace. But MAURER translates, "a citadel."
of strangers--foreigners, whose capital pre-eminently Babylon was, the metropolis of the pagan world. "Aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise" (Isa 29:5; Eph 2:12; see in contrast, Joe 3:17).
never be built-- (Isa 13:19, 20, &c.).
3. strong people--This cannot apply to the Jews; but other nations
on which Babylon had exercised its cruelty
shall worship Jehovah, awed by the judgment inflicted on Babylon
city--not Babylon, which shall then be destroyed, but collectively for the cities of the surrounding nations.
4. the poor . . . needy--the Jews, exiles from their country
(Isa 26:6; 41:17).
heat--calamity (Isa 4:6; 32:2).
blast--that is, wrath.
storm--a tempest of rain, a winter flood, rushing against and overthrowing the wall of a house.
5. Translate, "As the heat in a dry land (is brought down by the shadow of a cloud, so) thou shalt bring down the tumult (the shout of triumph over their enemies) of strangers (foreigners); and as the heat by the shadow of the cloud (is brought low), so the branch (the offspring) of the terrible ones shall be brought low." PARKHURST translates the Hebrew for "branch," the exulting song. JEROME translates the last clause, "And as when the heat burns under a cloud, thou shalt make the branch of the terrible ones to wither"; the branch withering even under the friendly shade of a cloud typifies the wicked brought to ruin, not for want of natural means of prosperity, but by the immediate act of God.
6. in this mountain--Zion: Messiah's kingdom was to begin, and is to
have its central seat hereafter, at Jerusalem, as the common country of
all people-- (Isa 56:7; Da 7:14; Lu 2:10).
feast--image of felicity (Ps 22:26, 27; Mt 8:11; Lu 14:15; Re 19:9; compare Ps 36:8; 87:1-7).
fat things--delicacies; the rich mercies of God in Christ (Isa 55:2; Jer 31:14; Job 36:16).
wines on the lees--wine which has been long kept on the lees; that is, the oldest and most generous wine (Jer 48:11).
marrow--the choicest dainties (Ps 63:5).
well refined--cleared of all dregs.
7. face of . . . covering--image from mourning, in which it was usual to cover the face with a veil (2Sa 15:30). "Face of covering," that is, the covering itself; as in Job 41:13, "the face of his garment," the garment itself. The covering or veil is the mist of ignorance as to a future state, and the way to eternal life, which enveloped the nations (Eph 4:18) and the unbelieving Jew (2Co 3:15). The Jew, however, is first to be converted before the conversion of "all nations"; for it is "in this mountain," namely, Zion, that the latter are to have the veil taken off (Ps 102:13, 15, 16, 21, 22; Ro 11:12).
8. Quoted in
in support of the resurrection.
swallow up . . . in victory--completely and permanently "abolish" (2Ti 1:10; Re 20:14; 21:4; compare Ge 2:17; 3:22).
rebuke--(Compare Mr 8:38; Heb 11:26).
9. And it shall be said in that day, &c.--"After death has been
swallowed up for ever, the people of God, who had been delivered from
the hand of death, shall say to the Lord, Lo, this is our God, whom
unbelievers regarded as only a man"
[JEROME]. "The words are so
moulded as to point us specially to the person of the Son of God, who
'saves' us; as He vouchsafed to Israel temporal saving, so to His elect
He appears for the purpose of conferring eternal salvation"
The Jews, however, have a special share in the words, This is
our God (see on
we have waited--"Waited" is characteristic of God's people in all ages (Ge 49:18; Tit 2:13).
we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation--compare Ps 118:24, which refers to the second coming of Jesus (compare Ps 118:26, with Lu 13:35).
10. rest--as its permanent protector; on "hand" in this
Ezr 7:6, 28.
Moab--while Israel is being protected, the foe is destroyed; Moab is the representative of all the foes of God's people.
under him--Rather, "in his own place" or "country" (Ex 10:23; 16:29).
for the dunghill--Rather, "in the water of the dung heap," in which straw was trodden to make it manure (Ps 83:10). HORSLEY translates either, "in the waters of Madmenah," namely, for the making of bricks; or as the Septuagint, "as the threshing-floor is trampled by the corn-drag" (see Margin; Mic 4:11-13).
11. he--Jehovah shall spread His hands to strike the foe
on this side and on that, with as little effort as a swimmer spreads
forth his arms to cleave a passage through the water
LOWTH takes "he" as Moab, who, in danger of
sinking, shall strain every nerve to save himself; but Jehovah
(and "he") shall cause him to sink ("bring down the pride" of Moab,
with the spoils of . . . hands--literally, "the craftily acquired spoils" of his (Moab's) hands [BARNES]. Moab's pride, as well as the sudden gripe of his hands (namely, whereby he tries to save himself from drowning) [LOWTH]. "Together with the joints of his hands," that is, though Moab struggle against Jehovah hand and foot [MAURER].
12. fortress--the strongholds of Moab, the representative of the foes of God's people [BARNES]. Babylon [MAURER]. The society of infidels represented as a city (Re 11:8).
Isa 26:1-21. CONNECTED WITH THE TWENTY-FOURTH AND TWENTY-FIFTH CHAPTERS. SONG OF PRAISE OF ISRAEL AFTER BEING RESTORED TO THEIR OWN LAND.
As the overthrow of the apostate faction is described in the twenty-fifth chapter, so the peace of the faithful is here described under the image of a well-fortified city.
1. strong city--Jerusalem, strong in Jehovah's protection: type of
the new Jerusalem
contrasted with the overthrow of the ungodly foe
(Isa 26:4-7, 12-14;
Re 22:2, 10-12,
salvation . . . walls-- (Isa 60:18; Jer 3:23; Zec 2:5). MAURER translates, "Jehovah makes His help serve as walls" (Isa 33:20, 21, &c.).
bulwarks--the trench with the antemural earthworks exterior to the wall.
2. Address of the returning people to the gates of Jerusalem
(type of the heavenly city,
(Ps 24:7, 9; 118:19).
(Re 22:14; 21:25, 27).
righteous nation--that had not apostatized during the captivity. HORSLEY translates, "The nation of the Just One," namely, the Jews.
3. mind . . . stayed-- (Ps 112:7, 8). Jesus can create "perfect peace" within thy mind, though storms of trial rage without (Isa 57:19; Mr 4:39); as a city kept securely by a strong garrison within, though besieged without (so Php 4:7). "Keep," literally, "guard as with a garrison." HORSLEY translates, (God's) workmanship (the Hebrew does not probably mean "mind," but "a thing formed," Eph 2:10), so constantly "supported"; or else "formed and supported (by Thee) Thou shalt preserve (it, namely, the righteous nation) in perpetual peace."
4. Lord JEHOVAH--Hebrew, Jah, Jehovah. The union of the two names expresses in the highest degree God's unchanging love and power (compare Ps 68:4). This passage, and Isa 12:2; Ex 6:3; Ps 83:18, are the four in which the English Version retains the JEHOVAH of the original. MAURER translates, "For JAH (the eternal unchangeable One, Ex 3:14) is JEHOVAH, the rock of ages" (compare Isa 45:17; De 32:15; 1Sa 2:2).
5. lofty city--Babylon; representative of the stronghold of the foes of God's people in all ages (Isa 25:2, 12; 13:14).
6. poor-- (Isa 25:4), the once afflicted Jewish captives. "Foot shall tread," is figurative for exulting in the fall of God's enemies (Re 18:20).
7. uprightness--rather, "is direct," that is, is directed by God to
a prosperous issue, however many be their afflictions in the
meantime (as in the case of the Jewish exiles); the context requires
Pr 3:6; 11:5),
[MAURER]: thus "way" means God's dealings with
most upright-- (De 32:4).
dost weigh-- (1Sa 2:3; Pr 5:21). Rather, "thou dost make plain and level" [MAURER], removing all obstacles (Isa 40:3, 4).
8. way of thy judgments--We have waited for Thy proceeding to
punish the enemy
(Isa 26:9, 10)
[MAURER]. HORSLEY translates
Isa 26:7, 8,
"The path of the Just One is perfectly even; an even road Thou
wilt level for the Just One, even the path of Thy laws, O
Jehovah. We have expected Thee."
name . . . remembrance--the manifested character of God by which He would be remembered (Isa 64:5; Ex 3:15).
9. With, . . . soul . . . I--literally, "I . . . my soul," in
apposition; the faithful Jews here speak individually. The overthrow
of the foe and the restoration of the Jews are to follow upon prayer on the part of the latter and of all God's people
(Isa 62:1-4, 6, 7;
in the night-- (Ps 63:6; So 3:1).
world . . . learn . . . righteousness--the remnant left after judgments (Ps 58:10, 11; Zec 14:16).
10. uprightness--rather, as in Isa 26:7, "prosperity," answering to "favor" in the parallelism, and in antithesis to "judgments in the earth" (Isa 26:9); where prosperity attends the wicked as well as the just, "he will not learn righteousness," therefore judgments must be sent that he may "learn" it [MAURER].
11. lifted up--to punish the foes of God's people. They who will not see shall be made to "see" to their cost
their envy at the people--that is, "Thy people." LOWTH translates, "They shall see with confusion Thy zeal for Thy people."
fire of . . . enemies--that is, the fire to which Thine enemies are doomed (Isa 9:18).
12. peace--God's favor, including all blessings, temporal and spiritual, opposed to their previous trials (Ps 138:8).
13. other lords--temporal; heathen kings
(2Ch 12:8; 28:5, 6),
Nebuchadnezzar, &c. Spiritual also, idols and lusts
by thee only--It is due to Thee alone, that we again worship Thee as our Lord [MAURER]. "(We are) Thine only, we will celebrate Thy name" [HORSLEY]. The sanctifying effect of affliction (Ps 71:16; 119:67, 71).
14. They--The "other lords" or tyrants
shall not live--namely, again.
deceased--Hebrew, "Rephaim"; powerless, in the land of shades (Isa 14:9, 10).
therefore--that is, inasmuch as. Compare "therefore" (Ge 18:5; 19:8).
15. hast--prophetical preterite
hast removed . . . far . . . ends of . . . earth--rather, "Thou hast extended far all the borders of the land" [VITRINGA].
poured out-- (Ps 62:8), as a vessel emptying out all its contents.
prayer--literally, "a whispered prayer," Margin, "a secret sighing" to God for help (compare Jer 13:17; De 8:16).
17. An image of anguish accompanied with expectation, to be followed by joy that will cause the anguish utterly to be forgotten. Zion, looking for deliverance, seemingly in vain, but really about to be gloriously saved (Mic 4:9, 10-13; 5:1-3; Joh 16:21, 22).
18. brought forth wind--MICHAELIS explains
this of the disease empneumatosis. Rather, "wind" is a figure
for that which proves an abortive effort. The "we" is in
antithesis to "Thy," "my"
what we vainly attempt, God will accomplish.
not wrought . . . deliverance in . . . earth--literally, "the land (Judea) is not made security," that is, is not become a place of security from our enemies.
neither . . . world fallen--The "world" at large, is in antithesis to "the earth," that is, Judea. The world at enmity with the city of God has not been subdued. But MAURER explains "fallen," according to Arabic idiom, of the birth of a child, which is said to fall when being born; "inhabitants of the world (Israel, Isa 24:4; not the world in general) are not yet born"; that is, the country as yet lies desolate, and is not yet populated.
19. In antithesis to
"They (Israel's foes) shall not live"; "Thy (Jehovah's) dead men (the
Jews) shall live," that is, primarily, be restored, spiritually
civilly and nationally
whereas Thy foes shall not; ultimately, and in the fullest scope of the
prophecy, restored to life literally
together with my dead body--rather, "my dead body," or "bodies" (the Jewish nation personified, which had been spiritually and civilly dead; or the nation, as a parent, speaking of the bodies of her children individually, see on Isa 26:9, "I," "My"): Jehovah's "dead" and "my dead" are one and the same [HORSLEY]. However, as Jesus is the antitype to Israel (Mt 2:15), English Version gives a true sense, and one ultimately contemplated in the prophecy: Christ's dead body being raised again is the source of Jehovah's people (all, and especially believers, the spiritual Israelites) also being raised (1Co 15:20-22).
Awake-- (Eph 5:14), spiritually.
in dust--prostate and dead, spiritually and nationally; also literally (Isa 25:12; 47:1).
dew--which falls copiously in the East and supplies somewhat the lack of rain (Ho 14:5).
cast out . . . dead--that is, shall bring them forth to life again.
20. enter . . . chambers--When God is about to take vengeance on the ungodly, the saints shall be shut in by Him in a place of safety, as Noah and his family were in the days of the flood (Ge 7:16), and as Israel was commanded not to go out of doors on the night of the slaying of the Egyptian first-born (Ex 12:22, 23; Ps 31:20; 83:3). The saints are calmly and confidently to await the issue (Ex 14:13, 14).
disclose . . . blood-- (Ge 4:10, 11; Job 16:18; Eze 24:7, 8). All the innocent blood shed, and all other wrongs done, so long seemingly with impunity, shall then be avenged (Re 16:6).
Isa 27:1-13. CONTINUATION OF THE TWENTY-FOURTH, TWENTY-FIFTH, AND TWENTY-SIXTH CHAPTERS.
At the time when Israel shall be delivered, and the ungodly nations punished, God shall punish also the great enemy of the Church.
1. sore--rather, "hard," "well-tempered."
leviathan--literally, in Arabic, "the twisted animal," applicable to every great tenant of the waters, sea-serpents, crocodiles, &c. In Eze 29:3; 32:2; Da 7:1, &c. Re 12:3, &c., potentates hostile to Israel are similarly described; antitypically and ultimately Satan is intended (Re 20:10).
piercing--rigid [LOWTH]. Flying [MAURER and Septuagint]. Long, extended, namely, as the crocodile which cannot readily bend back its body [HOUBIGANT].
dragon--Hebrew, tenin; the crocodile.
sea--the Euphrates, or the expansion of it near Babylon.
2. In that day when leviathan shall be destroyed, the vineyard
the Church of God, purged of its blemishes, shall be lovely in
God's eyes; to bring out this sense the better, LOWTH, by changing a Hebrew letter, reads
"pleasant," "lovely," for "red wine."
sing--a responsive song [LOWTH].
unto her--rather, "concerning her" (see on Isa 5:1); namely, the Jewish state [MAURER].
3. lest any hurt it--attack it [MAURER]. "Lest aught be wanting in her" [HORSLEY].
4. Fury is not in me--that is, I entertain no longer anger
towards my vine.
who would set . . . in battle--that is, would that I had the briers, &c. (the wicked foe; Isa 9:18; 10:17; 2Sa 23:6), before me! "I would go through," or rather, "against them."
5. Or--Else; the only alternative, if Israel's enemies wish to escape
being "burnt together."
strength--rather, "the refuge which I afford" [MAURER]. "Take hold," refers to the horns of the altar which fugitives often laid hold of as an asylum (1Ki 1:50; 2:28). Jesus is God's "strength," or "refuge" which sinners must repair to and take hold of, if they are to have "peace" with God (Isa 45:24; Ro 5:1; Eph 2:14; compare Job 22:21).
6. He--Jehovah. Here the song of the Lord as to His vineyard
ends; and the prophet confirms the sentiment in the song, under the
same image of a vine (compare
Ho 14:5, 6).
Israel . . . fill . . . world-- (Ro 11:12).
7. him . . . those--Israel--Israel's enemies. Has God punished His
people as severely as He has those enemies whom He employed to chastise
Israel? No! Far from it. Israel, after trials, He will restore; Israel's
enemies He will utterly destroy at last.
the slaughter of them that are slain by him--rather, "Is Israel slain according to the slaughter of the enemy slain?" the slaughter wherewith the enemy is slain [MAURER].
8. In measure--not beyond measure; in moderation
Jer 10:24; 30:11; 46:28).
when it shooteth--image from the vine; rather, passing from the image to the thing itself, "when sending her away (namely, Israel to exile; Isa 50:1, God only putting the adulteress away when He might justly have put her to death), Thou didst punish her" [GESENIUS].
stayeth--rather, as Margin, "when He removeth it by His rough wind in the day," &c.
east wind--especially violent in the East (Job 27:21; Jer 18:17).
9. By this--exile of Israel (the "sending away,"
all the fruit--This is the whole benefit designed to be brought about by the chastisement; namely, the removal of his (Israel's) sin (namely, object of idolatry; De 9:21; Ho 10:8).
when he--Jehovah; at the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, His instrument. The Jews ever since have abhorred idolatry (compare Isa 17:8).
not stand up--shall rise no more [HORSLEY].
10. city--Jerusalem; the beating asunder of whose altars and images
was mentioned in
calf feed-- (Isa 17:2); it shall be a vast wild pasture.
branches--resuming the image of the vine (Isa 27:2,6).
11. boughs . . . broken off--so the Jews are called
(Ro 11:17, 19, 20).
set . . . on fire--burn them as fuel; "women" are specified, as probably it was their office to collect fuel and kindle the fire for cooking.
no understanding--as to the ways of God (De 32:28, 29; Jer 5:21; Ho 4:6).
12. Restoration of the Jews from their dispersion, described under
the image of fruits shaken from trees and collected.
beat off--as fruit beaten off a tree with a stick (De 24:20), and then gathered.
stream of Egypt--on the confines of Palestine and Egypt (Nu 34:5; Jos 15:4, 47), now Wady-el-Arish, Jehovah's vineyard, Israel, extended according to His purpose from the Nile to the Euphrates (1Ki 4:21, 24; Ps 72:8).
one by one--gathered most carefully, not merely as a nation, but as individuals.
13. great trumpet--image from the trumpets blown on the first day of
the seventh month to summon the people to a holy convocation
Antitypically, the gospel trumpet
(Re 11:15; 14:6)
which the Jews shall hearken to in the last days
(Zec 12:10; 13:1).
As the passover in the first month answers to Christ's crucifixion, so
the day of atonement and the idea of "salvation" connected with the
feast of tabernacles in the same seventh month, answer to the
crowning of "redemption" at His second coming; therefore
redemption is put last in
Assyria--whither the ten tribes had been carried; Babylonia is mainly meant, to which Assyria at that time belonged; the two tribes were restored, and some of the ten accompanied them. However, "Assyria" is designedly used to point ultimately to the future restoration of the ten fully, never yet accomplished (Jer 3:18).
Egypt--whither many had fled at the Babylonish captivity (Jer 41:17, 18). Compare as to the future restoration, Isa 11:11, 12, 16; 51:9-16 ("Rahab" being Egypt).
The twenty-eighth through thirty-third chapters form almost one continuous prophecy concerning the destruction of Ephraim, the impiety and folly of Judah, the danger of their league with Egypt, the straits they would be reduced to by Assyria, from which Jehovah would deliver them on their turning to Him; the twenty-eighth chapter refers to the time just before the sixth year of Hezekiak's reign, the rest not very long before his fourteenth year.
1. crown of pride--Hebrew for "proud crown of the drunkards,"
&c. [HORSLEY], namely,
Samaria, the capital of Ephraim, or Israel.
(Isa 28:7, 8;
Isa 5:11, 22;
Am 4:1; 6:1-6)
and metaphorically, like drunkards, rushing on to their own
beauty . . . flower--"whose glorious beauty or ornament is a fading flower." Carrying on the image of "drunkards"; it was the custom at feasts to wreathe the brow with flowers; so Samaria, "which is (not as English Version, 'which are') upon the head of the fertile valley," that is, situated on a hill surrounded with the rich valleys as a garland (1Ki 16:24); but the garland is "fading," as garlands often do, because Ephraim is now close to ruin (compare Isa 16:8); fulfilled 721 B.C. (2Ki 17:6, 24).
2. strong one--the Assyrian
cast down--namely, Ephraim (Isa 28:1) and Samaria, its crown.
with . . . hand--with violence (Isa 8:11).
3. crown . . . the drunkards--rather, "the crown of the drunkards."
4. Rather, "the fading flower, their glorious beauty
which is on the head of the fat (fertile) valley, shall be as the early
fig" [G. V. SMITH]. Figs usually ripened in
August; but earlier ones (Hebrew bikkurah, Spanish
bokkore) in June, and were regarded as a delicacy
while it is yet--that is, immediately, without delay; describing the eagerness of the Assyrian Shalmaneser, not merely to conquer, but to destroy utterly Samaria; whereas other conquered cities were often spared.
5-13. The prophet now turns to Judah; a gracious promise to the remnant
("residue"); a warning lest through like sins Judah should share the
fate of Samaria.
crown--in antithesis to the "fading crown" of Ephraim (Isa 28:1, 3).
the residue--primarily, Judah, in the prosperous reign of Hezekiah (2Ki 18:7), antitypically, the elect of God; as He here is called their "crown and diadem," so are they called His (Isa 62:3); a beautiful reciprocity.
6. Jehovah will inspire their magistrates with justice, and their
soldiers with strength of spirit.
turn . . . battle to . . . gate--the defenders of their country who not only repel the foe from themselves, but drive him to the gates of his own cities (2Sa 11:23; 2Ki 18:8).
7. Though Judah is to survive the fall of Ephraim, yet "they also"
(the men of Judah) have perpetrated like sins to those of Samaria
(Isa 5:3, 11),
which must be chastised by God.
erred . . . are out of the way--"stagger . . . reel." Repeated, to express the frequency of the vice.
priest . . . prophet--If the ministers of religion sin so grievously, how much more the other rulers (Isa 56:10, 12)!
vision--even in that most sacred function of the prophet to declare God's will revealed to them.
judgment--The priests had the administration of the law committed to them (De 17:9; 19:17). It was against the law for the priests to take wine before entering the tabernacle (Le 10:9; Eze 44:21).
9, 10. Here the drunkards are introduced as scoffingly
commenting on Isaiah's warnings: "Whom will he (does
Isaiah presume to) teach knowledge? And whom will He make to
understand instruction? Is it those (that is, does he take us to
be) just weaned, &c.? For (he is constantly repeating, as if to little
children) precept upon precept," &c.
line--a rule or law. [MAURER]. The repetition of sounds in Hebrew tzav latzav, tzav latzav, qav laqav, qav laquav, expresses the scorn of the imitators of Isaiah's speaking; he spoke stammering (Isa 28:11). God's mode of teaching offends by its simplicity the pride of sinners (2Ki 5:11, 12; 1Co 1:23). Stammerers as they were by drunkenness, and children in knowledge of God, they needed to be spoken to in the language of children, and "with stammering lips" (compare Mt 13:13). A just and merciful retribution.
11. For--rather, "Truly." This is Isaiah's reply to the scoffers: Your drunken questions shall be answered by the severe lessons from God conveyed through the Assyrians and Babylonians; the dialect of these, though Semitic, like the Hebrew, was so far different as to sound to the Jews like the speech of stammerers (compare Isa 33:19; 36:11). To them who will not understand God will speak still more unintelligibly.
12. Rather, "He (Jehovah) who hath said to them."
this . . . the rest--Reference may be primarily to "rest" from national warlike preparations, the Jews being at the time "weary" through various preceding calamities, as the Syro-Israelite invasion (Isa 7:8; compare Isa 30:15; 22:8; 39:2; 36:1; 2Ki 18:8). But spiritually, the "rest" meant is that to be found in obeying those very "precepts" of God (Isa 28:10) which they jeered at (compare Jer 6:16; Mt 11:29).
13. But--rather, "Therefore," namely, because "they would not hear"
that they might go--the designed result to those who, from a defect of the will, so far from profiting by God's mode of instructing, "precept upon precept," &c., made it into a stumbling-block (Ho 6:5; 8:12; Mt 13:14).
go, and fall--image appropriately from "drunkards" (Isa 28:7, 8, which they were) who in trying to "go forward fall backward."
14. scornful--(See on Isa 28:9).
15. said--virtually, in your conduct, if not in words.
covenant--There may be a tacit reference to their confidence in their "covenant" with the Assyrians in the early part of Hezekiah's prosperous reign, before he ceased to pay tribute to them, as if it ensured Judah from evil, whatever might befall the neighboring Ephraim (Isa 28:1). The full meaning is shown by the language ("covenant with death--hell," or sheol) to apply to all lulled in false security spiritually (Ps 12:4; Ec 8:8; Jer 8:11); the godly alone are in covenant with death (Job 5:23; Ho 2:18; 1Co 3:22).
overflowing scourge--two metaphors: the hostile Assyrian armies like an overwhelming flood.
pass through--namely, through Judea on their way to Egypt, to punish it as the protector of Samaria (2Ki 17:4).
lies--They did not use these words, but Isaiah designates their sentiments by their true name (Am 2:4).
16. Literally, "Behold Me as Him who has laid";
namely, in My divine counsel
none save I could lay it
stone--Jesus Christ; Hezekiah [MAURER], or the temple [EWALD], do not realize the full significancy of the language; but only in type point to Him, in whom the prophecy receives its exhaustive accomplishment; whether Isaiah understood its fulness or not (1Pe 1:11, 12), the Holy Ghost plainly contemplated its fulfilment in Christ alone; so in Isa 32:1; compare Ge 49:24; Ps 118:22; Mt 21:42; Ro 10:11; Eph 2:20.
tried--both by the devil (Lu 4:1-13) and by men (Lu 20:1-38), and even by God (Mt 27:46); a stone of tested solidity to bear the vast superstructure of man's redemption. The tested righteousness of Christ gives its peculiar merit to His vicarious sacrifice. The connection with the context is, though a "scourge" shall visit Judea (Isa 28:15), yet God's gracious purpose as to the elect remnant, and His kingdom of which "Zion" shall be the center, shall not fail, because its rests on Messiah (Mt 7:24, 25; 2Ti 2:19).
precious--literally, "of preciousness," so in the Greek, (1Pe 2:7). He is preciousness.
corner-stone-- (1Ki 5:17; 7:9; Job 38:6); the stone laid at the corner where two walls meet and connecting them; often costly.
make haste--flee in hasty alarm; but the Septuagint has "be ashamed"; so Ro 9:33, and 1Pe 2:6, "be confounded," substantially the same idea; he who rests on Him shall not have the shame of disappointment, nor flee in sudden panic (see Isa 30:15; 32:17).
17. line--the measuring-line of the plummet.
HORSLEY translates, "I
will appoint judgment for the rule, and justice for the plummet." As the
corner-stone stands most perpendicular and exactly proportioned, so
Jehovah, while holding out grace to believers in the Foundation-stone,
will judge the scoffers
according to the exact justice of the law (compare
hail--divine judgment (Isa 30:30; 32:19).
18. disannulled--obliterated, as letters traced on a waxen tablet are
obliterated by passing the stylus over it.
trodden down--passing from the metaphor in "scourge" to the thing meant, the army which treads down its enemies.
19. From the time, &c.--rather, "As often as it comes over (that is,
passes through), it shall overtake you"
[HORSLEY]; like a flood
returning from time to time, frequent hostile invasions shall assail
Judah, after the deportation of the ten tribes.
vexation . . . understand . . . report--rather, "It shall be a terror even to hear the mere report of it" [MAURER], (1Sa 3:11). But G. V. SMITH, "Hard treatment (HORSLEY, 'dispersion') only shall make you to understand instruction"; they scorned at the simple way in which the prophet offered it (Isa 28:9); therefore, they must be taught by the severe teachings of adversity.
20. Proverbial, for they shall find all their sources of confidence fail them; all shall be hopeless perplexity in their affairs.
21. Perazim--In the valley of Rephaim
(2Sa 5:18, 20;
there Jehovah, by David, broke forth as waters do, and made a
breach among the Philistines, David's enemies, as
Perazim means, expressing a sudden and complete overthrow.
Gibeon-- (1Ch 14:16; 2Sa 5:25, Margin); not Joshua's victory (Jos 10:10).
strange--as being against His own people; judgment is not what God delights in; it is, though necessary, yet strange to Him (La 3:33).
work--punishing the guilty (Isa 10:12).
22. mockers--a sin which they had committed
(Isa 28:9, 10).
bands--their Assyrian bondage (Isa 10:27); Judah was then tributary to Assyria; or, "lest your punishment be made still more severe" (Isa 24:22).
consumption--destruction (Isa 10:22, 23; Da 9:27).
23. Calling attention to the following illustration from husbandry (Ps 49:1, 2). As the husbandman does his different kinds of work, each in its right time and due proportion, so God adapts His measures to the varying exigencies of the several cases: now mercy, now judgments; now punishing sooner, now later (an answer to the scoff that His judgments, being put off so long, would never come at all, Isa 5:19); His object being not to destroy His people any more than the farmer's object in threshing is to destroy his crop; this vindicates God's "strange work" (Isa 28:21) in punishing His people. Compare the same image, Jer 24:6; Ho 2:23; Mt 3:12.
24. all day--emphatic; he is not always ploughing: he also "sows,"
and that, too, in accordance with sure rules
doth he open--supply "always." Is he always harrowing?
25. face--the "surface" of the ground: "made plain," or level, by
fitches--rather, "dill," or "fennel"; Nigella romana, with black seed, easily beaten out, used as a condiment and medicine in the East. So the Septuagint, "cummin" was used in the same way.
cast in . . . principal wheat--rather, plant the wheat in rows (for wheat was thought to yield the largest crop, by being planted sparingly [PLINY, Natural History, 18.21]); [MAURER]; "sow the wheat regularly" [HORSLEY]. But GESENIUS, like English Version, "fat," or "principal," that is, excellent wheat.
appointed barley--rather, "barley in its appointed place" [MAURER].
in their place--rather, "in its (the field's) border" [MAURER].
26. to discretion--in the due rules of husbandry; God first taught it to man (Ge 3:23).
27. The husbandman uses the same discretion in threshing. The dill
("fitches") and cummin, leguminous and tender grains, are beaten out,
not as wheat, &c., with the heavy corn-drag ("threshing instrument"),
but with "a staff"; heavy instruments would crush and injure the seed.
cart wheel--two iron wheels armed with iron teeth, like a saw, joined together by a wooden axle. The "corn-drag" was made of three or four wooden cylinders, armed with iron teeth or flint stones fixed underneath, and joined like a sledge. Both instruments cut the straw for fodder as well as separated the corn.
staff--used also where they had but a small quantity of corn; the flail (Ru 2:17).
28. Bread corn--corn of which bread is made.
bruised--threshed with the corn-drag (as contrasted with dill and cummin, "beaten with the staff"), or, "trodden out" by the hoofs of cattle driven over it on the threshing-floor [G. V. SMITH], (De 25:4; Mic 4:13).
because--rather, "but" [HORSLEY]; though the corn is threshed with the heavy instrument, yet he will not always be thus threshing it.
break it--"drive over it (continually) the wheel" [MAURER].
horsemen--rather, "horses"; used to tread out corn.
29. This also--The skill wherewith the husbandman duly adjusts his modes of threshing is given by God, as well as the skill (Isa 28:26) wherewith he tills and sows (Isa 28:24, 25). Therefore He must also be able to adapt His modes of treatment to the several moral needs of His creatures. His object in sending tribulation (derived from the Latin tribulum, a "threshing instrument," Lu 22:31; Ro 5:3) is to sever the moral chaff from the wheat, not to crush utterly; "His judgments are usually in the line of our offenses; by the nature of the judgments we may usually ascertain the nature of the sin" [BARNES].
Isa 29:1-24. COMING INVASION OF JERUSALEM: ITS FAILURE: UNBELIEF OF THE JEWS.
This chapter opens the series of prophecies as to the invasion of Judea under Sennacherib, and its deliverance.
1. Ariel--Jerusalem; Ariel means "Lion of God," that is, city rendered
by God invincible: the lion is emblem of a mighty hero
Otherwise "Hearth of God," that is, place where the altar-fire
continually burns to God
Eze 43:15, 16).
add . . . year to year--ironically; suffer one year after another to glide on in the round of formal, heartless "sacrifices." Rather, "add yet another year" to the one just closed [MAURER]. Let a year elapse and a little more (Isa 32:10, Margin).
let . . . kill sacrifices--rather, "let the beasts (of another year) go round" [MAURER]; that is, after the completion of a year "I will distress Ariel."
2. Yet--rather, "Then."
heaviness . . . sorrow--rather, preserving the Hebrew paronomasia, "groaning" and "moaning."
as Ariel--either, "the city shall be as a lion of God," that is, it shall emerge from its dangers unvanquished; or "it shall be as the altar of burnt offering," consuming with fire the besiegers (Isa 29:6; Isa 30:30; 31:9; Le 10:2); or best, as Isa 29:3 continues the threat, and the promise of deliverance does not come till Isa 29:4, "it shall be like a hearth of burning," that is, a scene of devastation by fire [G. V. SMITH]. The prophecy, probably, contemplates ultimately, besides the affliction and deliverance in Sennacherib's time, the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome, the dispersion of the Jews, their restoration, the destruction of the enemies that besiege the city (Zec 14:2), and the final glory of Israel (Isa 29:17-24).
3. I--Jehovah, acting through the Assyrian, &c., His instruments
mount--an artificial mound formed to out-top high walls (Isa 37:33); else a station, namely, of warriors, for the siege.
round about--not fully realized under Sennacherib, but in the Roman siege (Lu 19:43; 21:20).
forts--siege-towers (De 20:20).
4. Jerusalem shall be as a captive, humbled to the dust. Her voice shall come from the earth as that of the spirit-charmers or necromancers (Isa 8:19), faint and shrill, as the voice of the dead was supposed to be. Ventriloquism was doubtless the trick caused to make the voice appear to come from the earth (Isa 19:3). An appropriate retribution that Jerusalem, which consulted necromancers, should be made like them!
5. Moreover--rather, "Yet"; yet in this extremity help shall come, and
the enemy be scattered.
strangers--foreign enemies, invaders (Isa 25:2).
it shall be--namely, the destruction of the enemy.
at an instant--in a moment (Isa 30:23).
6. Thou--the Assyrian army.
thunder, &c.--not literally, in the case of the Assyrians (Isa 37:36); but figuratively for an awful judgment (Isa 30:30; 28:17). The ulterior fulfilment, in the case of the Jews' foes in the last days, may be more literal (see as to "earthquake," Zec 14:4).
8. Their disappointment in the very height of their confident
expectation of taking Jerusalem shall be as great as that of the hungry
man who in a dream fancies he eats, but awakes to hunger still
their dream shall be dissipated on the fatal morning
soul--simply his appetite: he is still thirsty.
9. Stay--rather, "Be astounded"; expressing the stupid and amazed
incredulity with which the Jews received Isaiah's announcement.
wonder--The second imperative, as often (Isa 8:9), is a threat; the first is a simple declaration of a fact, "Be astounded, since you choose to be so, at the prophecy, soon you will be amazed at the sight of the actual event" [MAURER].
cry . . . out . . . cry--rather, "Be ye blinded (since you choose to be so, though the light shines all round you), and soon ye shall be blinded" in good earnest to your sorrow [MAURER], (Isa 6:9, 10).
not with wine--but with spiritual paralysis (Isa 51:17, 21).
ye . . . they--The change from speaking to, to speaking of them, intimates that the prophet turns away from them to a greater distance, because of their stupid unbelief.
10. Jehovah gives them up judicially to their own hardness of heart
Quoted by Paul, with variations from the Septuagint,
eyes; the prophets, &c.--rather, "hath closed your eyes, the prophets; and your heads (Margin; see also Isa 3:2), the seers, He hath covered." The Orientals cover the head to sleep; thus "covered" is parallel to "closed your eyes" (Jud 4:19). Covering the face was also preparatory to execution (Es 7:8). This cannot apply to the time when Isaiah himself prophesied, but to subsequent times.
11. of all--rather, "the whole vision." "Vision" is the same here
as "revelation," or "law"; in
the same Hebrew word is translated, "covenant" [MAURER].
sealed-- (Isa 8:16), God seals up the truth so that even the learned, because they lack believing docility, cannot discern it (Mt 13:10-17; 11:25). Prophecy remained comparatively a sealed volume (Da 12:4, 9), until Jesus, who "alone is worthy," "opened the seals" (Re 5:1-5, 9; 6:1).
12. The unlearned succeed no better than the learned, not from want of human learning, as they fancy, but from not having the teaching of God (Isa 54:13; Jer 31:34; Joh 6:45; 1Co 2:7-10; 1Jo 2:20).
13. precept of men--instead of the precepts of God, given by His prophets; also worship external, and by rule, not heartfelt as God requires (Joh 4:24). Compare Christ's quotation of this verse from the Septuagint.
14. (Hab 1:5; Ac 13:41). The "marvellous work" is one of unparalleled vengeance on the hypocrites: compare "strange work," Isa 28:21. The judgment, too, will visit the wise in that respect in which they most pride themselves; their wisdom shall be hid, that is, shall no longer appear, so as to help the nation in its distress (compare 1Co 1:19).
15. seek deep to hide--rather, "That seek to hide deeply," &c. (compare Isa 30:1, 2). The reference is to the secret plan which many of the Jewish nobles had of seeking Egyptian aid against Assyria, contrary to the advice of Isaiah. At the same time the hypocrite in general is described, who, under a plausible exterior, tries to hide his real character, not only from men, but even from God.
16. Rather, "Ah! your perverseness! just as if the potter should be esteemed as the clay!" [MAURER]. Or, "Ye invert (turn upside down) the order of things, putting yourselves instead of God," and vice versa, just as if the potter should be esteemed as the clay [HORSLEY], (Isa 45:9; 64:8).
17. turned--as contrasted with your "turnings of things upside
there shall be other and better turnings or revolutions; the
outpouring of the Spirit in the latter days
first on the Jews; which shall be followed by their national
restoration (see on
then on the Gentiles
fruitful field--literally, "a Carmel" (see on Isa 10:18). The moral change in the Jewish nation shall be as great as if the wooded Lebanon were to become a fruitful field, and vice versa. Compare Mt 11:12, Greek: "the kingdom of heaven forces itself," as it were, on man's acceptance; instead of men having to seek Messiah, as they had John, in a desert, He presents Himself before them with loving invitations; thus men's hearts, once a moral desert, are reclaimed so as to bear fruits of righteousness: vice versa, the ungodly who seemed prosperous, both in the moral and literal sense, shall be exhibited in their real barrenness.
18. deaf . . . blind--(Compare Mt 11:5). The spiritually blind, &c., are chiefly meant; "the book," as Revelation is called pre-eminently, shall be no longer "sealed," as is described (Isa 29:11), but the most unintelligent shall hear and see (Isa 35:5).
19. meek--rather, the afflicted godly: the idea is,
Ps 25:9; 37:11)
poor among men--that is, the poorest of men, namely, the pious poor.
rejoice--when they see their oppressors punished (Isa 29:20, 21), and Jehovah exhibited as their protector and rewarder (Isa 29:22-24; Isa 41:17; Jas 2:5).
20. terrible--namely, the persecutors among the Jewish nobles.
scorner-- (Isa 28:14, 22).
watch for--not only commit iniquity, but watch for opportunities of committing it, and make it their whole study (see Mic 2:1; Mt 26:59; 27:1).
21. Rather, "Who make a man guilty in his cause"
is, unjustly condemn him. "A man" is in the Hebrew a poor man, upon
whom such unjust condemnations might be practiced with more impunity
than on the rich; compare
"the meek . . . the poor."
him that reproveth--rather, "pleadeth"; one who has a suit at issue.
gate--the place of concourse in a city, where courts of justice were held (Ru 4:11; Pr 31:23; Am 5:10, 12).
just--one who has a just cause; or, Jesus Christ, "the Just One" [HORSLEY].
for a thing of naught--rather, "through falsehood," "by a decision that is null in justice" [BARNES]. Compare as to Christ, Pr 28:21; Mt 26:15; Ac 3:13, 14; 8:33.
22. Join "saith . . . concerning the house of Jacob."
redeemed--out of Ur, a land of idolaters (Jos 24:3).
not now--After the moral revolution described (Isa 29:17), the children of Jacob shall no longer give cause to their forefathers to blush for them.
wax pale--with shame and disappointment at the wicked degeneracy of his posterity, and fear as to their punishment.
23. But--rather, "For."
work of mine hands--spiritually, as well as physically (Isa 19:25; 60:21; Eph 2:10). By Jehovah's agency Israel shall be cleansed of its corruptions, and shall consist wholly of pious men (Isa 54:13, 14; 2:1; 60:21).
midst of him--that is, his land. Or else "His children" are the Gentiles adopted among the Israelites, his lineal descendants (Ro 9:26; Eph 3:6) [HORSLEY].
24. They . . . that erred--
learn doctrine--rather, "shall receive discipline" or "instruction." "Murmuring" was the characteristic of Israel's rebellion against God (Ex 16:8; Ps 106:25). This shall be so no more. Chastisements, and, in HORSLEY'S view, the piety of the Gentiles provoking the Jews to holy jealousy (Ro 11:11, 14), shall then produce the desired effect.
Isa 30:1-32. THE THIRTIETH THROUGH THIRTY-SECOND CHAPTERS REFER PROBABLY TO THE SUMMER OF 714 B.C., AS THE TWENTY-NINTH CHAPTER TO THE PASSOVER OF THAT YEAR.
Jewish ambassadors were now on their way to Egypt to seek aid against Assyria (Isa 30:2-6, 15; 31:1). Isaiah denounces this reliance on Egypt rather than on Jehovah. God had prohibited such alliances with heathen nations, and it was a leading part of Jewish polity that they should be a separate people (Ex 23:32; De 7:2).
1. take counsel--rather, as
Isa 30:4, 6
imply, "execute counsels."
cover . . . covering--that is, wrap themselves in reliances disloyal towards Jehovah. "Cover" thus answers to "seek to hide deeply their counsel from the Lord" (Isa 29:15). But the Hebrew is literally, "who pour out libations"; as it was by these that leagues were made (Ex 24:8; Zec 9:11), translate, "who make a league."
not of--not suggested by My Spirit" (Nu 27:21; Jos 9:14).
that they may add--The consequence is here spoken of as their intention, so reckless were they of sinning: one sin entails the commission of another (De 29:19).
2. walk--are now setting out, namely, their ambassadors
Egypt--See on Isa 19:1; Isa 20:1.
Pharaoh--the generic name of the kings of Egypt, as Cæsar was at Rome. The word in Egyptian means "king" [JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 8.6,2]. Phra, "the sun," was the hieroglyphic symbol and title of the king.
shadow--image from shelter against heat: protection (Ps 121:5, 6).
3. shame--disappointment. Egypt, weakened by its internal dissensions, can give no solid help.
4. his--Judah's (compare
at Zoan--are already arrived there on their errand to Pharaoh (see Isa 19:11).
came to Hanes--are come there. West of the Nile, in central Egypt: Egyptian Hnes; the Greek Heracleopolis: perhaps the Anysis of HERODOTUS (2.137); according to GROTIUS, Tahpanhes contracted (Jer 43:7-9); the seat of a reigning prince at the time, as was Zoan, hence the Jewish ambassadors go to both.
5. (Jer 2:36.)
6. burden--the prophecy as to, &c.
[MAURER]; so the Septuagint, the
fresh inscription here marks emphatically the prediction that
follows. Or, rather, Isaiah sees in vision, the ambassador's beasts
burdened with rich presents travelling southwards (namely, to
Da 11:5, 6),
and exclaims, Oh, the burden of treasure on the beasts! &c.
(Ho 8:9; 12:1).
land of trouble--the desert between Palestine and Egypt, destitute of water and abounding in dangerous animals (De 8:15; Jer 2:6).
flying serpent-- (Isa 14:29), a species which springs like a dart from trees, on its prey.
will carry--rather, present, "carry," namely, as presents to Egypt (1Ki 15:19).
young asses--rather, "full-grown asses" [MAURER].
7. "Egypt is vanity, and to no purpose will they help"
[G. V. SMITH].
strength--Hebrew, Rabah, a designation for Egypt (Isa 51:9; Ps 87:4), implying her haughty fierceness; translate, "Therefore I call her Arrogance that sitteth still." She who boasted of the help she would give, when it came to the test, sat still (Isa 36:6). English Version agrees with Isa 30:15; Isa 7:4.
8. table--a tablet
which should be set in public, containing the prophecy in a briefer
form, to be read by all.
a book--namely, a parchment roll, containing the prophecy in full, for the use of distant posterity. Its truth will be seen hereafter when the event has come to pass. See on Isa 8:1; Isa 8:16.
for ever and ever--rather read, "For a testimony for ever" [Chaldee, JEROME, LOWTH]: "testimony is often joined to the notion of perpetuity (De 31:19, 21, 26).
9. lying--unfaithful to Jehovah, whose covenant they had taken on them as His adopted children (Isa 59:13; Pr 30:9).
(Mic 2:6, 11; 3:5).
See not--as you now do, foretelling misfortune.
Prophesy not . . . right things--Not that they avowedly requested this, but their conduct virtually expressed it. No man, professedly, wished to be deceived; but many seek a kind of teaching which is deceit; and which, if they would examine, they might know to be such (1Ki 22:13). The Jews desired success to be foretold as the issue of their league with Egypt, though ill had been announced by God's prophet as the result; this constituted the "deceits."
11. Depart from the true "way" (so in
Ac 19:9, 23)
cause . . . to cease--Let us hear no more of His name. God's holiness is what troubles sinners most.
12. Holy One--Isaiah so little yields to their wicked prejudices that
he repeats the very name and truth which they disliked.
this word--Isaiah's exhortation to reliance on Jehovah.
oppression--whereby they levied the treasures to be sent to conciliate Egypt (Isa 30:6).
perverseness--in relying on Egypt, rather than on Jehovah.
13. Image from a curve swelling out in a wall (Ps 62:3); when the former gives way, it causes the downfall of the whole wall; so their policy as to Egypt.
14. he--the enemy; or rather, God
It--the Jewish state.
potter's vessel--earthen and fragile.
sherd--a fragment of the vessel large enough to take up a live coal, &c.
pit--cistern or pool. The swell of the wall is at first imperceptible and gradual, but at last it comes to the crisis; so the decay of the Jewish state.
15. returning and rest--turning back from your embassy to Egypt, and
ceasing from warlike preparations.
quietness--answering to "wait for Him (God)" (Isa 30:18).
16. flee--not as fugitives, but we will speed our course;
namely, against the Assyrians, by the help of cavalry supplied by Egypt
This was expressly against the Mosaic law
shall . . . flee--literally, "before your enemies"; their sin and its punishment correspond.
17. One thousand--A thousand at once, or, "As one man"
rebuke--the battle cry.
shall ye--at the rebuke of five shall ye, namely, all (in contrast to the "one thousand") flee so utterly that even two shall not be left together, but each one shall be as solitary "as a signal staff" [G. V. SMITH], or "a banner on a hill" (Isa 5:26; 11:12). The signal staff was erected to rally a nation in war. The remnant of Jews left would be beacons to warn all men of the justice of God, and the truth of His threatenings. GESENIUS (from Le 26:8; De 32:30) arbitrarily inserts "ten thousand." "At the rebuke of five shall ten thousand of you flee."
18. therefore--on account of your wicked perverseness
(Isa 30:1, 2, 9, 15, 16),
Jehovah will delay to be gracious [HORSLEY]. Rather, wait or delay in
punishing, to give you time for repentance
(Isa 30:13, 14, 17)
[MAURER]. Or, "Yet therefore" (namely,
because of the distress spoken of in the previous verses; that distress
will lead the Jews to repentance, and so Jehovah will pity them)
be exalted--Men will have more elevated views of God's mercy; or else, "He will rise up to pity you" [G. V. SMITH]. Or (taking the previous clause as MAURER, "Therefore Jehovah will delay" in punishing you, "in order that He may be gracious to you," if ye repent), He will be far removed from you (so in Ps 10:5, far above out sight); that is, He will not immediately descend to punish, "in order that He may have mercy," &c.
judgment--justice; faithfulness to His covenant.
wait--compare Isa 30:15, wait, namely, for His times of having mercy.
The restoration from Babylon only typifies the full
accomplishment of the prophecy
weep no more-- (Isa 25:8).
thy cry-- (Isa 26:8, 9; Jer 29:12-14).
20. Rather, "The Lord will give"; the "though" is not in the original.
bread of adversity--He will not deny you food enough to save you in your adversity (1Ki 22:27; Ps 127:2).
be removed--rather, "hide themselves"; they shall no more be forced to hide themselves from persecution, but shall be openly received with reverence [MAURER]. Contrast with this Ps 74:9; Am 8:11.
21. word--conscience, guided by the Holy Spirit (Joh 16:13).
22. covering of . . . images--rather, "images" (formed of wood or potter's clay, and) "covered with silver." Hezekiah, and afterwards Josiah, defiled them (2Ki 23:8, 10, 14, 16; 2Ch 31:1; compare Isa 2:20; De 7:25).
23. rain of--rather, "for thy seed." Physical prosperity
accompanies national piety; especially under the Old Testament. The
early rain fell soon after the seed was sown in October or November;
the latter rain in the spring, before the ripening of the corn. Both
were needed for a good harvest.
fat--bread made of the best wheat flour (compare Ge 49:20; De 32:14).
24. ear--that is, till. Asses were employed in tillage, as well
clean--rather, salted provender [GESENIUS]. The Arab proverb is, "Sweet provender is as bread to camels--salted provender as confectionery." The very cattle shall share the coming felicity. Or else, well-fermented maslin, that is, provender formed of a mixture of various substances: grain, beans, vetches, hay, and salt.
winnowed--not as it is usually given to cattle before it is separated from the chaff; the grain shall be so abundant that it shall be given winnowed.
shovel--by which the grain was thrown up in the wind to separate it from the chaff.
fan--an instrument for winnowing.
25. Even the otherwise barren hills shall then be well-watered
the day, &c.--when the disobedient among the Jews shall have been slain, as foretold in Isa 30:16: "towers," that is, mighty men (Isa 2:15). Or else, the towers of the Assyrian Sennacherib, or of Babylon, types of all enemies of God's people.
26. Image from the heavenly bodies to express the increase of spiritual
light and felicity. "Sevenfold" implies the perfection of that
felicity, seven being the sacred number. It shall also be literally
fulfilled hereafter in the heavenly city
(Isa 60:19, 20;
Re 21:23, 24; 22:5).
breach--the wound, or calamity, sent by God on account of their sins (Isa 1:5).
27. name of . . . Lord--that is, Jehovah Himself
(Ps 44:5; 54:1);
represented as a storm approaching and ready to burst over the
(Isa 30:30, 31).
burden . . . is heavy--literally, "grievousness is the flame," that is, the flame which darts from Him is grievous. Or else (as the Hebrew means an "uplifting") the uprising cloud is grievous [G. V. SMITH]; the gathering cloud gradually rising till it bursts.
reach . . . neck--the most extreme danger; yet as the head, or capital of Judah, was to be spared (Isa 8:8), so the head, or sovereign of Assyria, Sennacherib, should escape.
sieve of vanity--Rather, "the winnowing fan of destruction" [LOWTH] (Isa 41:16).
bridle in . . . jaws--as prisoners are represented in the Assyrian inscriptions (Isa 37:29).
causing . . . to err-- (Isa 63:17). "People," Hebrew, "peoples," namely, the various races composing the Assyrian armies (Isa 5:26).
29. the night . . . solemnity--As in the passover night ye celebrate
your deliverance from Egypt, so shall ye celebrate your rescue from
Assyrian bondage. Translate, "the solemnity"
goeth with a pipe--or flute. They used to go up to Jerusalem ("the mountain of the Lord," Zion) at the three feasts with music and gladness (De 16:16; Ezr 2:65; Ps 122:1-4).
30. Jehovah's "glorious voice," raised against the enemy
is again mentioned here, in contrast to the music
with which His people shall come to worship Him.
lighting down of . . . arm-- (Isa 30:32; Ps 38:2). The descent of His arm in striking.
scattering--namely, a blast that scatters, or an "inundation" [MAURER].
31. The Assyrian rod which beat shall itself be beaten, and that by the mere voice of the Lord, that is, an unseen divine agency (Isa 10:5, 24).
32. grounded--rather, "decreed," "appointed"
staff--the avenging rod.
him--the Assyrian; type of all God's enemies in every age. Margin and MAURER construe, "Every passing through (infliction, Isa 28:15) of the appointed rod, which, &c., shall be with tabrets," that is, accompanied with joy on the part of the rescued peoples.
battles of shaking--that is, shock of battles (Isa 19:16; compare "sift . . . sieve," Isa 30:28).
with it--namely, Assyria.
33. Tophet--literally, "A place of abomination"; the valley of the sons of Hinnom, southeast of Jerusalem, where Israel offered human sacrifices to Moloch by fire; hence a place of burning (2Ki 23:10; Jer 7:31). Latterly Gehinnom or Gehenna, that is, valley of Hinnom, was the receptacle of the refuse of the city, to consume which fires were constantly burning. Hence it came to express hell, the place of torment. In the former sense it was a fit place to symbolize the funeral pyre of the Assyrian army (not that it actually perished there); the Hebrews did not burn, but buried their dead, but the heathen Assyrians are to be burnt as a mark of ignominy. In the latter sense Tophet is the receptacle "prepared for the devil (antitype to the king, Isa 14:12-15) and his angels," and unbelieving men (Mt 5:22; 25:41; Mr 9:43, 44).
Isa 31:1-9. THE CHIEF STRENGTH OF THE EGYPTIAN ARMIES LAY IN THEIR CAVALRY.
1. and stay on horses, and trust in chariots--In their level and fertile plains horses could easily be used and fed (Ex 14:9; 1Ki 10:28). In hilly Palestine horses were not so easily had or available. The Jews were therefore the more eager to get Egyptian chariots as allies against the Assyrian cavalry. In Assyrian sculptures chariots are represented drawn by three horses, and with three men in them (see Isa 36:9; Ps 20:7; Da 9:13).
2. he also is wise--as well as the Egyptian priests, so famed for
but who are "fools" before Him
He not only devises, but executes what He devises without "calling back
home--the whole race.
help--the Egyptian succor sought by the Jews.
3. not spirit--not of divine power
(Ps 56:4; 146:3, 5;
he that helpeth--Egypt.
roaring on--"growling over" his prey.
abase himself--be disheartened or frightened.
5. As in the image of "the lion," the point of comparison is the
fearless might of Jehovah; so in that of the birds, it is His solicitous
flying--Rather, "which defend" their young with their wings; "to fly" is a secondary meaning of the Hebrew word [MAURER]. "Hovering over" to protect their young [G. V. SMITH].
passing over--as the destroying angel passing over, so as to spare the blood-marked houses of the Israelites on the first passover (Ex 12:13, 23, 27). He passed, or leaped forward [LOWTH], to destroy the enemy and to spare His people.
6. The power and love of Jehovah, just mentioned, are the strongest
incentives for returning to Him
(Eze 16:62, 63;
ye . . . Israel--The change of person marks that when they return to the Lord, He will address them in more direct terms of communion in the second person; so long as they were revolters, God speaks of them, as more at a distance, in the third person, rather than to them.
7. In the day of trial the idols will be found to render no help and
will therefore be cast away. Compare as to the future restoration and
conversion of Israel simultaneously with the interposition of Jehovah in
Zec 12:9-14; 13:1, 2.
for a sin--that is, whereby especially you contracted guilt (1Ki 12:30).
8. Assyrian--Sennacherib, representative of some powerful head of the
ungodly in the latter ages [HORSLEY].
sword, not of . . . mighty . . . mean man--but by the unseen sword of God.
flee--Sennacherib alone fled homewards after his army had been destroyed (Isa 37:37).
young men--the flower of his army.
discomfited--rather, "shall be subject to slavery"; literally, "shall be liable to tribute," that is, personal service (De 20:11; Jos 9:21) [MAURER]. Or, not so well, "shall melt away" [ROSENMULLER].
9. Rather, "shall pass beyond his strongholds"; he Shall not stop
to take refuge in it through fear
ensign--the banner of Jehovah protecting the Jews [MAURER].
fire . . . furnace--"light" and "fire," namely, of Jehovah's altar at Jerusalem (Isa 29:1). Perhaps "furnace," as distinguished from "fire," may mean that His dwelling-place (His hearth) was at Jerusalem (compare Isa 4:5); or else the fiery furnace awaiting all the enemies who should attack Jerusalem.
Isa 32:1-20. MESSIAH'S KINGDOM; DESOLATIONS, TO BE SUCCEEDED BY LASTING PEACE, THE SPIRIT HAVING BEEN POURED OUT.
The times of purity and happiness which shall follow the defeat of the enemies of Jehovah's people (Isa 32:1-8). The period of wrath before that happy state (Isa 32:9-14). The assurance of the final prosperity of the Church is repeated (Isa 32:15-20).
1. king--not Hezekiah, who was already on the throne, whereas a
future time is contemplated. If he be meant at all, it can only be
as a type of Messiah the King, to whom alone the language is fully
The kingdom shall be transferred from the world kings, who have
exercised their power against God, instead of for God, to
the rightful King of kings
Da 7:13, 14).
princes--subordinate; referring to all in authority under Christ in the coming kingdom on earth, for example, the apostles, &c. (Lu 22:30; 1Co 6:2; 2Ti 2:12; Re 2:26, 27; 3:21).
2. a man--rather, the man Christ
[LOWTH]; it is as "the Son of
man" He is to reign, as it was as Son of man He suffered
Joh 5:27; 19:5).
Not as MAURER explains, "every one of the
princes shall be," &c.
rivers--as refreshing as water and the cool shade are to the heated traveller (Isa 35:6, 7; 41:18).
3. them that see--the seers or prophets.
them that hear--the people under instruction (Isa 35:5, 6).
4. rash--rather, "the hasty"; contrast "shall not make haste"
the reckless who will not take time to weigh religious truth aright. Or
else, the well-instructed [HORSLEY].
stammers--those who speak confusedly on divine things (compare Ex 4:10-12; Jer 1:6; Mt 10:19, 20). Or, rather, those drunken scorners who in stammering style imitated Isaiah's warnings to mock them [MAURER] (Isa 28:7-11, 13, 14, 22; 29:20); in this view, translate, "speak uprightly" (agreeably to the divine law); not as English Version, referring to the distinctness of articulation, "plainly."
5. vile--rather, "fool"
[LOWTH]; that is, ungodly
(Ps 14:1; 74:18).
churl--rather, "fraudulent" [GESENIUS].
bountiful--religiously. The atheistic churl, who envies the believer his hope "full of immortality," shall no longer be held as a patriot struggling for the emancipation of mankind from superstition [HORSLEY].
6. vile . . . villainy--rather, "the (irreligious) fool . . . (his)
will speak--rather, "present"; for (so far is the "fool" from deserving the epithet "noble-minded") the fool "speaketh" folly and "worketh," &c.
hypocrisy--rather, "profligacy" [HORSLEY].
error--impiety, perverse arguments.
hungry--spiritually (Mt 5:6).
7. churl--"the fraudulent"; this verse refers to the last clause of
referred to its first clause.
speaketh right--pleadeth a just cause (Isa 29:21); spiritually, "the poor man's cause" is the divine doctrine, his rule of faith and practice.
8. liberal--rather, "noble-minded."
stand--shall be approved under the government of the righteous King.
9-20. Address to the women of Jerusalem who troubled themselves little about the political signs of the times, but lived a life of self-indulgence (Isa 3:16-23); the failure of food through the devastations of the enemy is here foretold, being what was most likely to affect them as mothers of families, heretofore accustomed to every luxury. VITRINGA understands "women--daughters" as the cities and villages of Judea (Eze 16:1-63). See Am 6:1.
10. Many days and years--rather, "In little more than a year"
[MAURER]; literally, "days upon a year" (so
vintage shall fail--through the arrival of the Assyrian invader. As the wheat harvest is omitted, Isaiah must look for the invasion in the summer or autumn of 714 B.C., when the wheat would have been secured already, and the later fruit "gathering," and vintage would be still in danger.
11. strip you--of your gay clothing. (See Isa 2:19, 21).
12. lament for . . . teats--rather, shall smite on their breasts in lamentation "for thy pleasant fields" (Na 2:7) [MAURER]. "Teats" in English Version is used for fertile lands, which, like breasts, nourish life. The transition from "ye" to "they" (Isa 32:11, 12) is frequent.
(Isa 5:6; 7:23).
houses of joy--pleasure-houses outside of Jerusalem, not Jerusalem itself, but other cities destroyed by Sennacherib in his march (Isa 7:20-25). However, the prophecy, in its full accomplishment, refers to the utter desolation of Judea and its capital by Rome, and subsequently, previous to the second coming of the King (Ps 118:26; Lu 13:35; 19:38); "the joyous city" is in this view, Jerusalem (Isa 22:2).
14. palaces--most applicable to Jerusalem
multitude . . . left--the noisy din of the city, that is, the city with its noisy multitude shall lie forsaken [MAURER].
forts--rather, "Ophel" (that is, the mound), the term applied specially to the declivity on the east of Zion, surrounded with its own wall (2Ch 27:3; 33:14; 2Ki 5:24), and furnished with "towers" (or watchtowers), perhaps referred to here (Ne 3:26, 27).
for ever--limited by thee, "until," &c., Isa 32:15, for a long time.
15. This can only partially apply to the spiritual revival in
Hezekiah's time; its full accomplishment belongs to the Christian
dispensation, first at Pentecost
perfectly in coming times
Eze 36:26; 39:29;
when the Spirit shall be poured on Israel, and through it on the
wilderness . . . fruitful field . . . forest--when Judea, so long waste, shall be populous and fruitful, and the land of the enemies of God shall be desolate. Or, "the field, now fruitful, shall be but as a barren forest in comparison with what it shall be then" (Isa 29:17). The barren shall become fruitful by regeneration; those already regenerate shall bring forth fruits in such abundance that their former life shall seem but as a wilderness where no fruits were.
fruitful field--then become more fruitful (Isa 32:15); thus "wilderness" and "fruitful field" include the whole land of Judea.
17. work--the effect
peace--internal and external.
18. sure . . . quiet--free from fear of invasion.
19. Literally, "But it shall hail with coming down of the forest, and in lowness shall the city (Nineveh) be brought low; that is, humbled." The "hail" is Jehovah's wrathful visitation (Isa 30:30; 28:2, 17). The "forest" is the Assyrian host, dense as the trees of a forest (Isa 10:18, 19, 33, 34; Zec 11:2).
20. While the enemy shall be brought "low," the Jews shall cultivate
their land in undisturbed prosperity.
all waters--well-watered places (Isa 30:25). The Hebrew translation, "beside," ought rather to be translated, "upon" (Ec 11:1), where the meaning is, "Cast thy seed upon the waters when the river overflows its banks; the seed will sink into the mud and will spring up when the waters subside, and you will find it after many days in a rich harvest." Before sowing, they send oxen, &c., into the water to tread the ground for sowing. CASTALIO thinks there is an allusion to the Mosaic precept, not to plough with an ox and ass together, mystically implying that the Jew was to have no intercourse with Gentiles; the Gospel abolishes this distinction (Col 3:11); thus the sense here is, Blessed are ye that sow the gospel seed without distinction of race in the teachers or the taught. But there is no need of supposing that the ox and ass here are yoked together; they are probably "sent forth" separately, as in Isa 30:24.
Isa 33:1-24. THE LAST OF ISAIAH'S PROPHECIES AS TO SENNACHERIB'S OVERTHROW.
Isa 33:1, 8, 9, describe the Assyrian spoiler; strong as he is, he shall fall before Jehovah who is stronger (Isa 33:2-6, 10-12). The time is the autumn of 713 B.C.
1. and thou--that is, though thou wast not spoiled--though thou wast
not dealt treacherously with
thy spoiling and treachery are therefore without excuse, being
cease--When God has let thee do thy worst, in execution of His plans, thine own turn shall come (compare Isa 10:12; 14:2; Hab 2:8; Re 13:10).
2. us; we . . . their . . . our--He speaks interceding for His people,
separating himself in thought for a moment from them, and immediately
returns to his natural identification with them in the word "our."
every morning--each day as it dawns, especially during our danger, as the parallel "time of trouble" shows.
3. the tumult--the approach of Jehovah is likened to an advancing
(Isa 29:6; 30:27),
which is His voice
causing the people to "flee."
nation--the Assyrian levies.
4. The invaders' "spoil" shall be left behind by them in their flight,
and the Jews shall gather it.
caterpillar--rather, "the wingless locust"; as it gathers; the Hebrew word for "gathers" is properly used of the gathering of the fruits of harvest (Isa 32:10).
running to and fro--namely, in gathering harvest fruits.
them--rather, "it," that is, the prey.
6. wisdom--sacred; that is, piety.
thy--Hezekiah's; or rather, "Judea's." "His" refers to the same; such changes from the pronoun possessive of the second person to that of the third are common in Hebrew poetry.
treasure--Not so much material wealth as piety shall constitute the riches of the nation (Pr 10:22; 15:16).
7-9. From the vision of future glory Isaiah returns to the disastrous
present; the grief of "the valiant ones" (parallel to, and identical
with, "the ambassadors of peace"), men of rank, sent with presents to
sue for peace, but standing "without" the enemy's camp, their suit being
(2Ki 18:14, 18, 37).
The highways deserted through fear, the cities insulted, the lands
cry-- (Isa 15:4).
8. broken . . . covenant--When Sennacherib invaded Judea, Hezekiah
paid him a large sum to leave the land; Sennacherib received the money
and yet sent his army against Jerusalem
(2Ki 18:14, 17).
despised--make slight of as unable to resist him (Isa 10:9; 36:19); easily captures them.
Lebanon--personified; the allusion may be to the Assyrian cutting down its choice trees (Isa 14:8; 37:24).
Sharon--south of Carmel, along the Mediterranean, proverbial for fertility (Isa 35:2).
Bashan--afterwards called Batanea (Isa 2:13).
fruits--rather, understand "leaves"; they lie as desolate as in winter.
10. The sight of His people's misery arouses Jehovah; He has let the
enemy go far enough.
I--emphatic; God Himself will do what man could not.
11. Ye--the enemy.
conceive chaff-- (Isa 26:18; 59:4).
your breath--rather, your own spirit of anger and ambition [MAURER], (Isa 30:28).
Perhaps alluding to their being about to be burnt on the funeral pyre
thorns--the wicked (2Sa 23:6, 7).
13. far off--distant nations.
near--the Jews and adjoining peoples (Isa 49:1).
14. sinners in Zion--false professors of religion among the elect
hypocrites--rather, "the profane"; "the abandoned" [HORSLEY].
who, &c.--If Jehovah's wrath could thus consume such a host in one night, who could abide it, if continued for ever (Mr 9:46-48)? Fire is a common image for the divine judgments (Isa 29:6; 30:30).
among us--If such awful judgments have fallen on those who knew not the true God, how infinitely worse shall fall on us who, amid religious privileges and profession, sin against God, (Lu 12:47, 48; Jas 4:17)?
15. In contrast to the trembling "sinners in Zion"
the righteous shall be secure amid all judgments; they are described
according to the Old Testament standpoint of righteousness
(Ps 15:2; 24:4).
stoppeth . . . ears . . . eyes--"Rejoiceth not in iniquity" (1Co 13:6; contrast Isa 29:20; Ps 10:3; Ro 1:32). The senses are avenues for the entrance of sin (Ps 119:37).
16. on high--heights inaccessible to the foe
bread . . . waters--image from the expected siege by Sennacherib; however besieged by trials without, the godly shall have literal and spiritual food, as God sees good for them (Isa 41:17; Ps 37:25; 34:10; 132:15).
17. Thine--the saints'.
king in . . . beauty--not as now, Hezekiah in sackcloth, oppressed by the enemy, but King Messiah (Isa 32:1) "in His beauty" (So 5:10, 16; Re 4:3).
land . . . very far off--rather, "the land in its remotest extent" (no longer pent up as Hezekiah was with the siege); see Margin. For Jerusalem is made the scene of the king's glory (Isa 33:20, &c.), and it could not be said to be "very far off," unless the far-off land be heaven, the Jerusalem above, which is to follow the earthly reign of Messiah at literal Jerusalem (Isa 65:17-19; Jer 3:17; Re 21:1, 2, 10).
18. meditate--on the "terror" caused by the enemy, but now past.
where, &c.--the language of the Jews exulting over their escape from danger.
scribe--who enrolled the army [MAURER]; or, who prescribed the tribute to be paid [ROSENMULLER]; or, who kept an account of the spoil. "The principal scribe of the host" (2Ki 25:19; Jer 52:25). The Assyrian records are free from the exaggerations of Egyptian records. Two scribes are seen in every Assyrian bas-relief, writing down the various objects brought to them, the heads of the slain, prisoners, cattle, sheep, &c.
receiver--"weigher," Margin. LAYARD mentions, among the Assyrian inscriptions, "a pair a scales for weighing the spoils."
counted . . . towers--he whose duty it was to reconnoitre and report the strength of the city to be besieged.
19. fierce people--The Assyrians shall not be allowed to enter
Or, thou shalt not any longer see fierce enemies threatening thee as
previously; such as the Assyrians, Romans, and the last Antichristian
host that is yet to assail Jerusalem
(De 28:49, 50;
stammering--barbarous; so "deeper," &c., that is, unintelligible. The Assyrian tongue differed only in dialect from the Hebrew, but in the Assyrian levies were many of non-Semitic race and language, as the Medes, Elamites, &c. (see on Isa 28:11).
20. solemnities--solemn assemblies at the great feasts
not . . . taken down . . . removed--image from captives "removed" from their land (Isa 36:17). There shall be no more "taking away" to an enemy's land. Or else, from nomads living in shifting tents. The saints, who sojourned once in tabernacles as pilgrims, shall have a "building of God--eternal in the heavens" (2Co 5:1; Heb 11:9, 10; compare Isa 54:2).
stakes--driven into the ground; to these the "cords" were fastened. Christ's Church shall never fall (Mt 16:18). So individual believers (Re 3:12).
21. there--namely, in Jerusalem.
will be . . . rivers--Jehovah will be as a broad river surrounding our city (compare Isa 19:6; Na 3:8), and this, too, a river of such a kind as no ship of war can pass (compare Isa 26:1). Jerusalem had not the advantage of a river; Jehovah will be as one to it, affording all the advantages, without any of the disadvantages of one.
galley with oars--war vessels of a long shape, and propelled by oars; merchant vessels were broader and carried sail.
gallant--same Hebrew word as for "glorious," previously; "mighty" will suit both places; a ship of war is meant. No "mighty vessel" will dare to pass where the "mighty Lord" stands as our defense.
22. Lord--thrice repeated, as often: the Trinity
judge . . . lawgiver . . . king--perfect ideal of the theocracy, to be realized under Messiah alone; the judicial, legislative, and administrative functions as king to be exercised by Him in person (Isa 11:4; 32:1; Jas 4:12).
23. tacklings--Continuing the allegory in
he compares the enemies' host to a war galley which is deprived of the
tacklings or cords by which the mast is sustained and the sail is
spread; and which therefore is sure to be wrecked on "the broad river"
and become the prey of Israel.
they--the tacklings, "hold not firm the base of the mast."
then--when the Assyrian host shall have been discomfited. Hezekiah had given Sennacherib three hundred talents of silver, and thirty of gold (2Ki 18:14-16), and had stripped the temple of its gold to give it to him; this treasure was probably part of the prey found in the foe's camp. After the invasion, Hezekiah had so much wealth that he made an improper display of it (2Ki 20:13-15); this wealth, probably, was in part got from the Assyrian.
the lame--Even the most feeble shall spoil the Assyrian camp (compare Isa 35:6; 2Sa 5:6).
24. sick--SMITH thinks the allusion is to the beginning of the pestilence by which the Assyrians were destroyed, and which, while sparing the righteous, affected some within the city ("sinners in Zion"); it may have been the sickness that visited Hezekiah (Isa 38:1-22). In the Jerusalem to come there shall be no "sickness," because there will be no "iniquity," it being forgiven (Ps 103:3). The latter clause of the verse contains the cause of the former (Mr 2:5-9).
Isa 34:1-17. JUDGMENT ON IDUMEA.
The thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth chapters form one prophecy, the former part of which denounces God's judgment against His people's enemies, of whom Edom is the representative; the second part, of the flourishing state of the Church consequent on those judgments. This forms the termination of the prophecies of the first part of Isaiah (the thirty-sixth through thirty-ninth chapters being historical) and is a kind of summary of what went before, setting forth the one main truth, Israel shall be delivered from all its foes, and happier times shall succeed under Messiah.
1. All creation is summoned to hear God's judgments
Mic 6:1, 2),
for they set forth His glory, which is the end of creation
(Re 15:3; 4:11).
that come forth of it--answering to "all that is therein"; or Hebrew, "all whatever fills it," Margin.
2. utterly destroyed--rather, "doomed them to an utter curse"
3. cast out--unburied
melted--washed away as with a descending torrent.
Joe 2:31; 3:15;
dissolved-- (2Pe 3:10-12). Violent convulsions of nature are in Scripture made the images of great changes in the human world (Isa 24:19-21), and shall literally accompany them at the winding up of the present dispensation.
scroll--Books were in those days sheets of parchment rolled together (Re 6:14).
fall down--The stars shall fall when the heavens in which they are fixed pass away.
fig tree-- (Re 6:13).
Or else, knife for sacrifice for God does not here appear as a
warrior with His sword, but as one about to sacrifice victims doomed to
bathed--rather "intoxicated," namely, with anger (so De 32:42). "In heaven" implies the place where God's purpose of wrath is formed in antithesis to its "coming down" in the next clause.
Idumea--originally extending from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea; afterwards they obtained possession of the country east of Moab, of which Bozrah was capital. Petra or Selah, called Joktheel (2Ki 14:7), was capital of South Edom (see on Isa 16:1). David subjugated Edom (2Sa 8:13, 14). Under Jehoram they regained independence (2Ch 21:8). Under Amaziah they were again subdued, and Selah taken (2Ki 14:7). When Judah was captive in Babylon, Edom, in every way, insulted over her fallen mistress, killed many of those Jews whom the Chaldeans had left, and hence was held guilty of fratricide by God (Esau, their ancestor, having been brother to Jacob): this was the cause of the denunciations of the prophets against Edom (Isa 63:1, &c.; Jer 49:7; Eze 25:12-14; 35:3-15; Joe 3:19; Am 1:11, 12; Ob 8, 10, 12-18; Mal 1:3,4). Nebuchadnezzar humbled Idumea accordingly (Jer 25:15-21).
of my curse--that is, doomed to it.
to judgment--that is, to execute it.
6. filled--glutted. The image of a sacrifice is continued.
blood . . . fat--the parts especially devoted to God in a sacrifice (2Sa 1:22).
lambs . . . goats--sacrificial animals: the Idumeans, of all classes, doomed to slaughter, are meant (Zep 1:7).
Bozrah--called Bostra by the Romans, &c., assigned in Jer 48:24 to Moab, so that it seems to have been at one time in the dominion of Edom, and at another in that of Moab (Isa 63:1; Jer 49:13, 20, 22); it was strictly not in Edom, but the capital of Auranitis (the Houran). Edom seems to have extended its dominion so as to include it (compare La 4:21).
7. unicorns--Hebrew, reem: conveying the idea of loftiness,
power, and pre-eminence (see on
in the Bible. At one time the image in the term answers to a reality in
nature; at another it symbolizes an abstraction. The rhinoceros was the
original type. The Arab rim is two-horned: it was the oryx (the
leucoryx, antelope, bold and pugnacious); but when accident or
artifice deprived it of one horn, the notion of the unicorn arose. Here
is meant the portion of the Edomites which was strong and warlike.
come down--rather, "fall down," slain [LOWTH].
with them--with the "lambs and goats," the less powerful Edomites (Isa 34:6).
bullocks . . . bulls--the young and old Edomites: all classes.
8. recompenses for the controversy of Zion--that is, the year when God will retaliate on those who have contended with Zion. Her controversy is His. Edom had thought to extend its borders by laying hold of its neighbor's lands and has instigated Babylon to cruelty towards fallen Judah (Ps 137:7; Eze 36:5); therefore Edom shall suffer the same herself (La 4:21, 22). The final winding up of the controversy between God and all enemies of Him and His people is also foreshadowed (Isa 61:2; 63:4; 66:14-16; Mal 4:1, 3; 2Th 1:7, 8, 9; Re 11:18; 18:20; 19:2).
9. Images from the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah (Ge 19:24-28; so De 29:23; Jer 49:17, 18).
10. It--The burning pitch, &c.
smoke . . . for ever-- (Re 14:11; 18:18; 19:3).
generation to generation-- (Mal 1:4).
none . . . pass through--Edom's original offense was: they would not let Israel pass through their land in peace to Canaan: God recompenses them in kind, no traveller shall pass through Edom. VOLNEY, the infidel, was forced to confirm the truth of this prophecy: "From the reports of the Arabs, southeast of the Dead Sea, within three days' journey are upwards of thirty ruined towns, absolutely deserted."
11. cormorant--The Hebrew is rendered, in
"pelican," which is a seafowl, and cannot be meant here: some waterfowl
(katta, according to BURCKHARDT) that
tenants desert places is intended.
bittern--rather, "the hedgehog," or "porcupine" [GESENIUS] (Isa 14:23).
owl--from its being enumerated among water birds in Le 11:17; De 14:16. MAURER thinks rather the heron or crane is meant; from a Hebrew root, "to blow," as it utters a sound like the blowing of a horn (Re 18:2).
line . . . stones--metaphor from an architect with line and plummet-stone (see on Isa 18:2; Isa 28:17); God will render to it the exact measure of justice without mercy (Jas 2:13; 2Ki 21:13; La 2:8; Am 7:7, 8).
emptiness--desolation. Edom is now a waste of "stones."
12. Rather, "As to her nobles, there shall be none there who shall declare a kingdom," that is, a king [MAURER]; or else, "There shall be no one there whom they shall call to the kingdom" [ROSENMULLER] (Isa 3:6, &c.). Idumea was at first governed by dukes (Ge 36:15); out of them the king wan chosen when the constitution became a monarchy.
13. dragons--(See on
court for owls--rather, "a dwelling for ostriches."
14. wild beasts of the desert . . . island--rather,
"wild cats . . . jackals"
screech owl--rather, "the night specter"; in Jewish superstition a female, elegantly dressed, that carried off children by night. The text does not assert the existence of such objects of superstition, but describes the place as one which superstition would people with such beings.
15. great owl--rather, "the arrow snake," so called from its darting
on its prey [GESENIUS].
gather under her shadow--rather, "cherishes" her young under, &c. (Jer 17:11).
16. book of the Lord--the volume in which the various prophecies and
other parts of Scripture began henceforward to be collected together
Seek--(so Isa 8:16, 20; Joh 5:39; 7:52).
no one . . . fail--of these prophecies (Mt 5:18).
none shall want . . . mate--image from pairing of animals mentioned, Isa 34:15 ("mate"); no prediction shall want a fulfilment as its companion. Or rather, "none of these wild animals (just spoken of) shall be wanting: none shall be without its mate" to pair and breed with, in desolate Idumea.
my . . . his--Such changes of person are frequent in Hebrew poetry.
them--the wild beasts.
17. cast . . . lot--As conquerors apportion lands by lot, so Jehovah has appointed and marked out ("divided") Edom for the wild beasts (Nu 26:55, 56; Jos 18:4-6).
Isa 35:1-10. CONTINUATION OF THE PROPHECY IN THE THIRTY-FOURTH CHAPTER.
See on Isa 34:1, introduction there.
1. solitary place--literally, "a dry place," without springs of
water. A moral wilderness is meant.
for them--namely, on account of the punishment inflicted according to the preceding prophecy on the enemy; probably the blessings set forth in this chapter are included in the causes for joy (Isa 55:12).
rose--rather, "the meadow-saffron," an autumnal flower with bulbous roots; so Syriac translation.
2. glory of Lebanon--its ornament, namely, its cedars
excellency of Carmel--namely, its beauty.
Sharon--famed for its fertility.
see . . . glory of the Lord . . . excellency-- (Isa 40:5, 9). While the wilderness which had neither "glory" nor "excellency" shall have both "given to it," the Lord shall have all the "glory" and "excellency" ascribed to Him, not to the transformed wilderness (Mt 5:16).
3. Strengthen . . . hands . . . confirm . . . knees--The Hebrew for "strengthen" refers to the strength residing in the hand for grasping and holding a thing manfully; "confirm," to the firmness with which one keeps his ground, so as not to be dislodged by any other [MAURER]. Encourage the Jews, now desponding, by the assurance of the blessings promised.
4. fearful--"hasty," Margin; that is, with a heart fluttered with
with--the Hebrew is more forcible than the English Version: "God will come, vengeance! even God, a recompense!" The sense is the same.
5, 6. Language figuratively, descriptive of the joy felt at the deliverance from Assyria and Babylon; literally, true of the antitypical times of Messiah and His miracles (see Margin references, Mt 11:5; Lu 7:2; 2Jo 5, 8; Ac 3:2).
6. leap--literally, "fulfilled"
(Ac 3:8; 14:10).
in . . . wilderness . . . waters-- (Isa 41:18).
7. parched ground--rather, "the mirage (Hebrew, Sharab, 'the
sun's heat') shall become a
(real) lake." The sun's rays refracted on
the glowing sands at midday give the appearance of a lake of water and
often deceive the thirsty traveller (compare
grass--rather, "a dwelling or receptacle (answering to the previous habitation) for reeds," &c. (which only grow where there is water, Job 8:11). Where once there was no water, water shall abound.
8. highway--such a causeway (raised way, from a
Hebrew root, "to cast up") as was used for the march of armies;
valleys being filled up, hills and other obstructions removed
Isa 40:3, 4).
way of holiness--Hebraism for "the holy way." HORSLEY translates, "the way of the Holy One;" but the words that follow, and Isa 35:10, show it is the way leading the redeemed back to Jerusalem, both the literal and the heavenly (Isa 52:1; Joe 3:17; Re 21:27); still Christ at His coming again shall be the Leader on the way, for which reason it is called, "The way of the Lord" (Isa 40:3; Mal 3:1).
it shall be for those: the wayfaring men--rather, "He (the Holy One) shall be with them, walking in the way" [HORSLEY].
though fools--rather, "And (even) fools," that is, the simple shall not go astray, namely, because "He shall be with them" (Mt 11:25; 1Co 1:26-28).
9. No lion--such as might be feared on the way through the wilderness which abounded in wild beasts, back to Judea. Every danger shall be warded off the returning people (Isa 11:6-9; Eze 34:25; Ho 2:18). Compare spiritually, Pr 3:17.
10. Language: literally, applying to the return from Babylon;
figuratively and more fully to the completed redemption of both literal
and spiritual Israel.
joy upon . . . heads-- (Ps 126:2). Joy manifested in their countenances. Some fancy an allusion to the custom of pouring oil "upon the head," or wearing chaplets in times of public festivity (Ec 9:8).
Isa 36:1-22. SENNACHERIB'S INVASION; BLASPHEMOUS SOLICITATIONS; HEZEKIAH IS TOLD OF THEM.
This and the thirty-seventh through thirty-ninth chapters form the historical appendix closing the first division of Isaiah's prophecies, and were added to make the parts of these referring to Assyria more intelligible. So Jer 52:1-34; compare 2Ki 25:1-30. The section occurs almost word for word (2Ki 18:13, 17-20; 19:1-37); 2Ki 18:14-16, however, is additional matter. Hezekiah's "writing" also is in Isaiah, not in Kings (Isa 38:9-20). We know from 2Ch 32:32 that Isaiah wrote the acts of Hezekiah. It is, therefore, probable, that his record here (Isa 36:1-39:8) was incorporated into the Book of Kings by its compiler. Sennacherib lived, according to Assyrian inscriptions, more than twenty years after his invasion; but as Isaiah survived Hezekiah (2Ch 32:32), who lived upwards of fifteen years after the invasion (Isa 38:5), the record of Sennacherib's death (Isa 37:38) is no objection to this section having come from Isaiah; 2Ch 32:1-33 is probably an abstract drawn from Isaiah's account, as the chronicler himself implies (2Ch 32:32). Pul was probably the last of the old dynasty, and Sargon, a powerful satrap, who contrived to possess himself of supreme power and found a new dynasty (see on Isa 20:1). No attempt was made by Judah to throw off the Assyrian yoke during his vigorous reign. The accession of his son Sennacherib was thought by Hezekiah the opportune time to refuse the long-paid tribute; Egypt and Ethiopia, to secure an ally against Assyria on their Asiatic frontier, promised help; Isaiah, while opposed to submission to Assyria, advised reliance on Jehovah, and not on Egypt, but his advice was disregarded, and so Sennacherib invaded Judea, 712 B.C. He was the builder of the largest of the excavated palaces, that of Koyunjik. HINCKS has deciphered his name in the inscriptions. In the third year of his reign, these state that he overran Syria, took Sidon and other Phœnician cities, and then passed to southwest Palestine, where he defeated the Egyptians and Ethiopians (compare 2Ki 18:21; 19:9). His subsequent retreat, after his host was destroyed by God, is of course suppressed in the inscriptions. But other particulars inscribed agree strikingly with the Bible; the capture of the "defensed cities of Judah," the devastation of the country and deportation of its inhabitants; the increased tribute imposed on Hezekiah--thirty talents of gold--this exact number being given in both; the silver is set down in the inscriptions at eight hundred talents, in the Bible three hundred; the latter may have been the actual amount carried off, the larger sum may include the silver from the temple doors, pillars, &c. (2Ki 18:16).
1. fourteenth--the third of Sennacherib's reign. His ultimate object was Egypt, Hezekiah's ally. Hence he, with the great body of his army (2Ch 32:9), advanced towards the Egyptian frontier, in southwest Palestine, and did not approach Jerusalem.
Tartan and Rab-saris are joined with him. Rab-shakeh was probably the
chief leader; Rab is a title of authority, "chief-cup-bearer."
Lachish--a frontier town southwest of Jerusalem, in Judah; represented as a great fortified city in a hilly and fruitful country in the Koyunjik bas-reliefs, now in the British Museum; also, its name is found on a slab over a figure of Sennacherib on his throne.
upper pool--the side on which the Assyrians would approach Jerusalem coming from the southwest (see on Isa 7:3).
3. Eliakim--successor to Shebna, who had been "over the household,"
that is, chief minister of the king; in
this was foretold.
scribe--secretary, recorder--literally, "one who reminds"; a remembrancer to keep the king informed on important facts, and to act as historiographer. In 2Ki 18:18, the additional fact is given that the Assyrian envoys "called to the king," in consequence of which Eliakim, &c., "came out to them."
4. great king--the usual title of the Persian and Assyrian kings, as they had many subordinate princes or kings under them over provinces (Isa 10:8).
5. counsel--Egypt was famed for its wisdom.
6. It was a similar alliance with So (that is, Sabacho, or else Sevechus), the Ethiopian king of Egypt, which provoked the Assyrian to invade and destroy Israel, the northern kingdom, under Hoshea.
7. The Assyrian mistakes Hezekiah's religious reforms whereby he took
away the high places
as directed against Jehovah. Some of the high places may have
been dedicated to Jehovah, but worshipped under the form of an
image in violation of the second commandment: the "brazen
serpent," also (broken in pieces by Hezekiah, and called
Nehushtan, "a piece of brass," because it was worshipped by
Israel) was originally set up by God's command. Hence the
Assyrian's allegation has a specious color: you cannot look for help
from Jehovah, for your king has "taken away His altars."
to Jerusalem-- (De 12:5, 11; Joh 4:20).
8. give pledges--a taunting challenge. Only give the guarantee that you can supply as many as two thousand riders, and I will give thee two thousand horses. But seeing that you have not even this small number (see on Isa 2:7), how can you stand against the hosts of Assyrian cavalry? The Jews tried to supply their weakness in this "arm" from Egypt (Isa 31:1).
9. captain--a governor under a satrap; even he commands more horsemen than this.
10. A boastful inference from the past successes of Assyria, designed to influence the Jews to surrender; their own principles bound them to yield to Jehovah's will. He may have heard from partisans in Judah what Isaiah had foretold (Isa 10:5, 6).
11. Syrian--rather, "Aramean": the language spoken north and east of
Palestine, and understood by the Assyrians as belonging to the same
family of languages as their own: nearly akin to Hebrew also, though
not intelligible to the multitude (compare
"Aram" means a "high land," and includes parts of Assyria as well as
Jews' language--The men of Judah since the disruption of Israel, claimed the Hebrew as their own peculiarly, as if they were now the only true representatives of the whole Hebrew twelve tribes.
ears of . . . people on . . . wall--The interview is within hearing distance of the city. The people crowd on the wall, curious to hear the Assyrian message. The Jewish rulers fear that it will terrify the people and therefore beg Rab-shakeh to speak Aramean.
12. Is it to thy master and thee that I am sent? Nay, it is to the men on the wall, to let them know (so far am I from wishing them not to hear, as you would wish), that unless they surrender, they shall be reduced to the direst extremities of famine in the siege (2Ch 32:11, explains the word here), namely, to eat their own excrements: or, connecting, "that they may eat," &c., with "sit upon the wall"; who, as they hold the wall, are knowingly exposing themselves to the direst extremities [MAURER]. Isaiah, as a faithful historian, records the filthy and blasphemous language of the Assyrians to mark aright the true character of the attack on Jerusalem.
13. Rab-shakeh speaks louder and plainer than ever to the men on the wall.
15. The foes of God's people cannot succeed against them, unless they can shake their trust in Him (compare Isa 36:10).
16. agreement . . . by . . . present--rather, "make peace with me";
literally, "blessing" so called from the mutual congratulations attending the ratification of peace. So Chaldee. Or else,
"Do homage to me" [HORSLEY].
come out--surrender to me; then you may remain in quiet possession of your lands till my return from Egypt, when I will lead you away to a land fruitful as your own. Rab-shakeh tries to soften, in the eyes of the Jews, the well-known Assyrian policy of weakening the vanquished by deporting them to other lands (Ge 47:21; 2Ki 17:6).
19. Hamath . . . Arphad--(See on
Sepharvaim--literally, "the two scribes"; now Sipphara, on the east of Euphrates, above Babylon. It was a just retribution (Pr 1:31; Jer 2:19). Israel worshipped the gods of Sepharvaim, and so colonists of Sepharvaim were planted in the land of Israel (thenceforth called Samaria) by the Assyrian conqueror (2Ki 17:24; compare 2Ki 18:34).
Samaria--Shalmaneser began the siege against Hoshea, because of his conspiring with So of Egypt (2Ki 17:4). Sargon finished it; and, in his palace at Khorsabad, he has mentioned the number of Israelites carried captive--27,280 [G. V. SMITH].
20. (Compare Isa 10:11; 2Ch 32:19). Here he contradicts his own assertion (Isa 36:10), that he had "come up against the land with the Lord." Liars need good memories. He classes Jehovah with the idols of the other lands; nay, thinks Him inferior in proportion as Judah, under His tutelage, was less than the lands under the tutelage of the idols.
21. not a word--so as not to enter into a war of words with the blasphemer (Ex 14:14; Jude 9).
22. clothes rent--in grief and horror at the blasphemy (Mt 26:65).
Isa 37:1-38. CONTINUATION OF THE NARRATIVE IN THE THIRTY-SIXTH CHAPTER.
1. sackcloth--(See on
house of the Lord--the sure resort of God's people in distress (Ps 73:16, 17; 77:13).
2. unto Isaiah--implying the importance of the prophet's position at the time; the chief officers of the court are deputed to wait on him (compare 2Ki 22:12-14).
3. rebuke--that is, the Lord's rebuke for His people's sins
blasphemy--blasphemous railing of Rab-shakeh.
the children, &c.--a proverbial expression for, We are in the most extreme danger and have no power to avert it (compare Ho 13:13).
4. hear--take cognizance of
reprove--will punish him for the words, &c. (Ps 50:21).
remnant--the two tribes of the kingdom of Judah, Israel being already captive. Isaiah is entreated to act as intercessor with God.
6. servants--literally, "youths," mere lads, implying disparagement,
not an embassy of venerable elders. The Hebrew is different from
that for "servants" in
blasphemed me-- (Isa 36:20).
7. blast--rather, "I will put a spirit
into him," that is, so influence his judgment that when he hears the
concerning Tirhakah), he shall return [GESENIUS];
the "report" also of the destruction of his army at Jerusalem, reaching
Sennacherib, while he was in the southwest of Palestine on the borders
of Egypt, led him to retreat.
by the sword-- (Isa 37:38).
8. returned--to the camp of his master.
Libnah--meaning "whiteness," the Blanche-garde of the Crusaders [STANLEY]. EUSEBIUS and JEROME place it more south, in the district of Eleutheropolis, ten miles northwest of Lachish, which Sennacherib had captured (see on Isa 36:2). Libnah was in Judea and given to the priests (1Ch 6:54, 57).
9. Tirhakah--(See on
Egypt was in part governed by three successive Ethiopian monarchs, for
forty or fifty years: Sabacho, Sevechus, and Tirhakah. Sevechus retired
from Lower Egypt owing to the resistance of the priests, whereupon
Sethos, a prince-priest, obtained supreme power with Tanis (Zoan in
Scripture), or Memphis, as his capital. The Ethiopians retained Upper
Egypt under Tirhakah, with Thebes as the capital. Tirhakah's fame as a
conqueror rivalled that of Sesostris; he, and one at least, of the
Pharaohs of Lower Egypt, were Hezekiah's allies against Assyria. The
tidings of his approach made Sennacherib the more anxious to get
possession of Jerusalem before his arrival.
sent-- 2Ki 19:9 more fully expresses Sennacherib's eagerness by adding "again."
10. He tries to influence Hezekiah himself, as Rab-shakeh had
addressed the people.
God . . . deceive--(Compare Nu 23:19).
11. all lands-- (Isa 14:17). He does not dare to enumerate Egypt in the list.
12. Gozan--in Mesopotamia, on the Chabour
(2Ki 17:6; 18:11).
Gozan is the name of the district, Chabour of the river.
Haran--more to the west. Abraham removed to it from Ur (Ge 11:31); the Carroe of the Romans.
Rezeph--farther west, in Syria.
Eden--There is an ancient village, Adna, north of Baghdad. Some think Eden to be the name of a region (of Mesopotamia or its vicinity) in which was Paradise; Paradise was not Eden itself (Ge 2:8). "A garden in Eden."
Telassar--now Tel-afer, west of Mosul [LAYARD]. Tel means a "hill" in Arabic and Assyrian names.
13. Hena . . . Ivah--in Babylonia. From Ava colonists had been brought to Samaria (2Ki 17:24).
14. spread--unrolled the scroll of writing. God "knows our necessities before we ask Him," but He delights in our unfolding them to Him with filial confidence (2Ch 20:3, 11-13).
16. dwellest--the Shekinah, or fiery symbol of God's presence,
dwelling in the temple with His people, is from shachan,
Ps 80:1; 99:1).
cherubim--derived by transposition from either a Hebrew root, rachab, to "ride"; or rather, barach, to "bless." They were formed out of the same mass of pure gold as the mercy seat itself (Ex 25:19, Margin). The phrase, "dwellest between the cherubim," arose from their position at each end of the mercy seat, while the Shekinah, and the awful name, JEHOVAH, in written letters, were in the intervening space. They are so inseparably associated with the manifestation of God's glory, that whether the Lord is at rest or in motion, they always are mentioned with Him (Nu 7:89; Ps 18:10). (1) They are first mentioned (Ge 3:24) "on the edge of" (as "on the east" may be translated) Eden; the Hebrew for "placed" is properly to "place in a tabernacle," which implies that this was a local tabernacle in which the symbols of God's presence were manifested suitably to the altered circumstances in which man, after the fall, came before God. It was here that Cain and Abel, and the patriarchs down to the flood, presented their offerings: and it is called "the presence of the Lord" (Ge 4:16). When those symbols were removed at the close of that early patriarchal dispensation, small models of them were made for domestic use, called, in Chaldee, "seraphim" or "teraphim." (2) The cherubim, in the Mosaic tabernacle and Solomon's temple, were the same in form as those at the outskirts of Eden: compound figures, combining the distinguishing properties of several creatures: the ox, chief among the tame and useful animals; the lion among the wild ones; the eagle among birds; and man, the head of all (the original headship of man over the animal kingdom, about to be restored in Jesus Christ, Ps 8:4-8, is also implied in this combination). They are, throughout Scripture, represented as distinct from God; they could not be likenesses of Him which He forbade in any shape. (3) They are introduced in the third or gospel dispensation (Re 4:6) as "living creatures" (not so well translated "beasts" in English Version), not angels, but beings closely connected with the redeemed Church. So also in Eze 1:5-25; 10:1-22. Thus, throughout the three dispensations, they seem to be symbols of those who in every age should officially study and proclaim the manifold wisdom of God.
thou alone--literally, "Thou art He who alone art God of all the kingdoms"; whereas Sennacherib had classed Jehovah with the heathen gods, he asserts the nothingness of the latter and the sole lordship of the former.
17. ear . . . eyes--singular, plural. When we wish to hear a thing we lend one ear; when we wish to see a thing we open both eyes.
18. have laid waste--conceding the truth of the Assyrian's allegation (Isa 36:18-20), but adding the reason, "For they were no gods."
19. cast . . . gods into . . . fire--The policy of the Assyrians in order to alienate the conquered peoples from their own countries was, both to deport them elsewhere, and to destroy the tutelary idols of their nation, the strongest tie which bound them to their native land. The Roman policy was just the reverse.
20. The strongest argument to plead before God in prayer, the honor of God (Ex 32:12-14; Ps 83:18; Da 9:18, 19).
21. Whereas thou hast prayed to me--that is, hast not relied on thy own strength but on Me (compare 2Ki 19:20). "That which thou hast prayed to Me against Sennacherib, I have heard" (Ps 65:2).
22. Transition to poetry: in parallelism.
virgin . . . daughter--honorable terms. "Virgin" implies that the city is, as yet, inviolate. "Daughter" is an abstract collective feminine personification of the population, the child of the place denoted (see on Isa 23:10; Isa 1:8). Zion and her inhabitants.
shaken . . . head--in scorn (Ps 22:7; 109:25; Mt 27:39). With us to shake the head is a sign of denial or displeasure; but gestures have different meanings in different countries (Isa 58:9; Eze 25:6; Zep 2:15).
23. Whom--not an idol.
24. said--virtually. Hast thou within thyself?
height--imagery from the Assyrian felling of trees in Lebanon (Isa 14:8; 33:9); figuratively for, "I have carried my victorious army through the regions most difficult of access, to the most remote lands."
sides--rather, "recesses" [G. V. SMITH].
fir trees--not cypresses, as some translate; pine foliage and cedars are still found on the northwest side of Lebanon [STANLEY].
height of . . . border--In 2Ki 19:23, "the lodgings of his borders." Perhaps on the ascent to the top there was a place of repose or caravansary, which bounded the usual attempts of persons to ascend [BARNES]. Here, simply, "its extreme height."
forest of . . . Carmel--rather, "its thickest forest." "Carmel" expresses thick luxuriance (see on Isa 10:18; Isa 29:17).
25. digged, and drunk water--In
it is "strange waters." I have marched into foreign lands where
I had to dig wells for the supply of my armies; even the natural
destitution of water there did not impede my march.
rivers of . . . besieged places--rather, "the streams (artificial canals from the Nile) of Egypt." "With the sole of my foot," expresses that as soon as his vast armies marched into a region, the streams were drunk up by them; or rather, that the rivers proved no obstruction to the onward march of his armies. So Isa 19:4-6, referring to Egypt, "the river--brooks of defense--shall be dried up." HORSLEY, translates the Hebrew for "besieged places," "rocks."
26. Reply of God to Sennacherib.
long ago--join, rather, with "I have done it." Thou dost boast that it is all by thy counsel and might: but it is I who, long ago, have ordered it so (Isa 22:11); thou wert but the instrument in My hands (Isa 10:5, 15). This was the reason why "the inhabitants were of small power before thee" (Isa 37:27), namely, that I ordered it so; yet thou art in My hands, and I know thy ways (Isa 37:28), and I will check thee (Isa 37:29). Connect also, "I from ancient times have arranged ('formed') it." However, English Version is supported by Isa 33:13; 45:6, 21; 48:5.
27. Therefore--not because of thy power, but because I made them
unable to withstand thee.
grass--which easily withers (Isa 40:6; Ps 37:2).
on . . . housetops--which having little earth to nourish it fades soonest (Ps 129:6-8).
corn blasted before it be grown up--SMITH translates, "The cornfield (frail and tender), before the corn is grown."
28. abode--rather, "sitting down" (Ps 139:2). The expressions here describe a man's whole course of life (De 6:7; 28:6; 1Ki 3:7; Ps 121:8). There is also a special reference to Sennacherib's first being at home, then going forth against Judah and Egypt, and raging against Jehovah (Isa 37:4).
hook in . . . nose--Like a wild beast led by a ring through the nose, he shall be forced back to his own country (compare Job 41:1, 2; Eze 19:4; 29:4; 38:4). In a bas-relief of Khorsabad, captives are led before the king by a cord attached to a hook, or ring, passing through the under lip or the upper lip, and nose.
30. Addressed to Hezekiah.
sign--a token which, when fulfilled, would assure him of the truth of the whole prophecy as to the enemy's overthrow. The two years, in which they were sustained by the spontaneous growth of the earth, were the two in which Judea had been already ravaged by Sennacherib (Isa 32:10). Thus translate: "Ye did eat (the first year) such as groweth of itself, and in the second year that . . . but in this third year sow ye," &c., for in this year the land shall be delivered from the foe. The fact that Sennacherib moved his camp away immediately after shows that the first two years refer to the past, not to the future [ROSENMULLER]. Others, referring the first two years to the future, get over the difficulty of Sennacherib's speedy departure, by supposing that year to have been the sabbatical year, and the second year the jubilee; no indication of this appears in the context.
31. remnant--Judah remained after the ten tribes were carried away; also those of Judah who should survive Sennacherib's invasion are meant.
33. with shields--He did come near it, but was not allowed to conduct
a proper siege.
bank--a mound to defend the assailants in attacking the walls.
34. (See Isa 37:29, 37; Isa 29:5-8).
35. I will defend--Notwithstanding Hezekiah's measures of defense
Jehovah was its true defender.
mine own sake--since Jehovah's name was blasphemed by Sennacherib (Isa 37:23).
David's sake--on account of His promise to David (Ps 132:17, 18), and to Messiah, the heir of David's throne (Isa 9:7; 11:1).
36. Some attribute the destruction to the agency of the plague
which may have caused Hezekiah's sickness, narrated immediately after;
Isa 33:1, 4,
proves that the Jews spoiled the corpses, which they would not have
dared to do, had there been on them infection of a plague. The
secondary agency seems, from
Isa 29:6; 30:30,
to have been a storm of hail, thunder, and lightning (compare
The simoon belongs rather to Africa and Arabia than Palestine, and
ordinarily could not produce such a destructive effect. Some few of the
seems to imply, survived and accompanied Sennacherib home. HERODOTUS (2.141) gives an account confirming Scripture
in so far as the sudden discomfiture of the Assyrian army is concerned.
The Egyptian priests told him that Sennacherib was forced to retreat
from Pelusium owing to a multitude of field mice, sent by one of their
gods, having gnawed the Assyrians' bow-strings and
shield-straps. Compare the language
"He shall not shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with
shields," which the Egyptians corrupted into their version of
the story. Sennacherib was as the time with a part of his army, not at
Jerusalem, but on the Egyptian frontier, southwest of Palestine. The
sudden destruction of the host near Jerusalem, a considerable part of
his whole army, as well as the advance of the Ethiopian Tirhakah,
induced him to retreat, which the Egyptians accounted for in a way
honoring to their own gods. The mouse was the Egyptian emblem of
destruction. The Greek Apollo was called Sminthian, from
a Cretan word for "a mouse," as a tutelary god of agriculture, he was
represented with one foot upon a mouse, since field mice hurt corn. The
Assyrian inscriptions, of course, suppress their own defeat, but
nowhere boast of having taken Jerusalem; and the only reason to be
given for Sennacherib not having, amidst his many subsequent
expeditions recorded in the monuments, returned to Judah, is the
terrible calamity he had sustained there, which convinced him that
Hezekiah was under the divine protection. RAWLINSON says, In Sennacherib's account of his wars with
Hezekiah, inscribed with cuneiform characters in the hall of the palace
of Koyunjik, built by him (a hundred forty feet long by a hundred
twenty broad), wherein even the Jewish physiognomy of the captives is
portrayed, there occurs a remarkable passage; after his mentioning his
taking two hundred thousand captive Jews, he adds, "Then I prayed unto
God"; the only instance of an inscription wherein the name of GOD occurs without a heathen adjunct. The forty-sixth
Psalm probably commemorates Judah's deliverance. It occurred in one
"night," according to
with which Isaiah's words, "when they arose early in the morning,"
&c., are in undesigned coincidence.
they . . . they--"the Jews . . . the Assyrians."
37. dwelt at Nineveh--for about twenty years after his disaster, according to the inscriptions. The word, "dwelt," is consistent with any indefinite length of time. "Nineveh," so called from Ninus, that is, Nimrod, its founder; his name means "exceedingly impious rebel"; he subverted the existing patriarchal order of society, by setting up a system of chieftainship, founded on conquest; the hunting field was his training school for war; he was of the race of Ham, and transgressed the limits marked by God (Ge 10:8-11, 25), encroaching on Shem's portion; he abandoned Babel for a time, after the miraculous confusion of tongues and went and founded Nineveh; he was, after death, worshipped as Orion, the constellation (see on Job 9:9; Job 38:31).
38. Nisroch--Nisr, in Semitic, means
"eagle;" the termination och, means "great." The
eagle-headed human figure in Assyrian sculptures is no doubt Nisroch,
the same as Asshur, the chief Assyrian god; the corresponding goddess
was Asheera, or Astarte; this means a "grove," or sacred tree, often
found as the symbol of the heavenly hosts (Saba) in the
sculptures, as Asshur the Eponymus hero of Assyria
answered to the sun or Baal, Belus, the title of office, "Lord." This
explains "image of the grove"
The eagle was worshipper by the ancient Persians and Arabs.
Esar-haddon--In Ezr 4:2 he is mentioned as having brought colonists into Samaria. He is also thought to have been the king who carried Manasseh captive to Babylon (2Ch 33:11). He built the palace on the mound Nebbiyunus, and that called the southwest palace of Nimroud. The latter was destroyed by fire, but his name and wars are recorded on the great bulls taken from the building. He obtained his building materials from the northwest palaces of the ancient dynasty, ending in Pul.
Isa 38:1-22. HEZEKIAH'S SICKNESS; PERHAPS CONNECTED WITH THE PLAGUE OR BLAST WHEREBY THE ASSYRIAN ARMY HAD BEEN DESTROYED.
1. Set . . . house in order--Make arrangement as to the succession
to the throne; for he had then no son; and as to thy other concerns.
thou shall die--speaking according to the ordinary course of the disease. His being spared fifteen years was not a change in God's mind, but an illustration of God's dealings being unchangeably regulated by the state of man in relation to Him.
2. The couches in the East run along the walls of houses. He turned away from the spectators to hide his emotion and collect his thoughts for prayer.
3. He mentions his past religious consistency, not as a boast or a
ground for justification; but according to the Old Testament
dispensation, wherein temporal rewards (as long life, &c.,
followed legal obedience, he makes his religious conduct a plea for
asking the prolongation of his life.
walked--Life is a journey; the pious "walk with God" (Ge 5:24; 1Ki 9:4).
perfect--sincere; not absolutely perfect, but aiming towards it (Mt 5:45); single-minded in walking as in the presence of God (Ge 17:1). The letter of the Old Testament legal righteousness was, however, a standard very much below the spirit of the law as unfolded by Christ (Mt 5:20-48; 2Co 3:6, 14, 17).
wept sore--JOSEPHUS says, the reason why he wept so sorely was that being childless, he was leaving the kingdom without a successor. How often our wishes, when gratified, prove curses! Hezekiah lived to have a son; that son was the idolater Manasseh, the chief cause of God's wrath against Judah, and of the overthrow of the kingdom (2Ki 23:26, 27).
4. In 2Ki 20:4, the quickness of God's answer to the prayer is marked, "afore Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him"; that is, before he had left Hezekiah, or at least when he had just left him, and Hezekiah was in the act of praying after having heard God's message by Isaiah (compare Isa 65:24; Ps 32:5; Da 9:21).
5. God of David thy father--God remembers the covenant with the father
to the children
Ps 89:28, 29).
tears-- (Ps 56:8).
days . . . years--Man's years, however many, are but as so many days (Ge 5:27).
after this verse comes the statement which is put at the end, in order
not to interrupt God's message
(Isa 38:21, 22)
will deliver--The city was already delivered, but here assurance is given, that Hezekiah shall have no more to fear from the Assyrians.
7. sign--a token that God would fulfil His promise that Hezekiah should "go up into the house of the Lord the third day" (2Ki 20:5, 8); the words in italics are not in Isaiah.
8. bring again--cause to return
2Ki 20:9, 11,
the choice is stated to have been given to Hezekiah, whether the shadow
should go forward, or go back, ten degrees. Hezekiah replied, "It is a
light thing (a less decisive miracle) for the shadow to go down (its
usual direction) ten degrees: nay, but let it return backward ten
degrees"; so Isaiah cried to Jehovah that it should be so, and it was
Jos 10:12, 14).
sundial of Ahaz--HERODOTUS (2.109) states that the sundial and the division of the day into twelve hours, were invented by the Babylonians; from them Ahaz borrowed the invention. He was one, from his connection with Tiglath-pileser, likely to have done so (2Ki 16:7, 10). "Shadow of the degrees" means the shadow made on the degrees. JOSEPHUS thinks these degrees were steps ascending to the palace of Ahaz; the time of day was indicated by the number of steps reached by the shadow. But probably a sundial, strictly so called, is meant; it was of such a size, and so placed, that Hezekiah, when convalescent, could witness the miracle from his chamber. Compare Isa 38:21, 22 with 2Ki 20:9, where translate, shall this shadow go forward, &c.; the dial was no doubt in sight, probably "in the middle court" (2Ki 20:4), the point where Isaiah turned back to announce God's gracious answers to Hezekiah. Hence this particular sign was given. The retrogression of the shadow may have been effected by refraction; a cloud denser than the air interposing between the gnomon and dial would cause the phenomenon, which does not take from the miracle, for God gave him the choice whether the shadow should go forward or back, and regulated the time and place. BOSANQUET makes the fourteenth year of Hezekiah to be 689 B.C., the known year of a solar eclipse, to which he ascribes the recession of the shadow. At all events, there is no need for supposing any revolution of the relative positions of the sun and earth, but merely an effect produced on the shadow (2Ki 20:9-11); that effect was only local, and designed for the satisfaction of Hezekiah, for the Babylonian astronomers and king "sent to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land" (2Ch 32:31), implying that it had not extended to their country. No mention of any instrument for marking time occurs before this dial of Ahaz, 700 B.C. The first mention of the "hour" is made by Daniel at Babylon (Da 3:6).
9-20. The prayer and thanksgiving song of Hezekiah is only given here, not in the parallel passages of Second Kings and Second Chronicles. Isa 38:9 is the heading or inscription.
10. cutting off--ROSENMULLER
translates, "the meridian"; when the sun
stands in the zenith: so "the perfect day"
Rather, "in the tranquillity of my days," that is, that period
of life when I might now look forward to a tranquil reign [MAURER]. The Hebrew is so translated
(Isa 62:6, 7).
go to--rather, "go into," as in Isa 46:2 [MAURER].
residue of my years--those which I had calculated on. God sends sickness to teach man not to calculate on the morrow, but to live more wholly to God, as if each day were the last.
11. Lord . . . Lord--The repetition, as in
expresses the excited feeling of the king's mind.
See the Lord (Jehovah)--figuratively for "to enjoy His good gifts." So, in a similar connection (Ps 27:13). "I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living"; (Ps 34:12), "What man is he that desireth life that he may see good?"
world--rather, translate: "among the inhabitants of the land of stillness," that is, Hades [MAURER], in parallel antithesis to "the land of the living" in the first clause. The Hebrew comes from a root, to "rest" or "cease" (Job 14:6).
12. age--rather, as the parallel "shepherd's tent" requires
habitation, so the Arabic [GESENIUS].
departed--is broken up, or shifted, as a tent to a different locality. The same image occurs (2Co 5:1; 2Pe 1:12, 13). He plainly expects to exist, and not cease to be in another state; as the shepherd still lives, after he has struck his tent and removed elsewhere.
I have cut off--He attributes to himself that which is God's will with respect to him; because he declares that will. So Jeremiah is said to "root out" kingdoms, because he declares God's purpose of doing so (Jer 1:10). The weaver cuts off his web from the loom when completed. Job 7:6 has a like image. The Greeks represented the Fates as spinning and cutting off the threads of each man's life.
with pining sickness--rather, "from the thrum," or thread, which tied the loom to the weaver's beam.
from day . . . to night--that is, in the space of a single day between morning and night (Job 4:20).
13. I reckoned . . . that--rather, I composed (my mind, during the night, expecting relief in the "morning," so Job 7:4): for ("that" is not, as in the English Version, to be supplied) as a lion He was breaking all my bones [VITRINGA] (Job 10:16; La 3:10, 11). The Hebrew, in Ps 131:2, is rendered, "I quieted." Or else, "I made myself like a lion (namely, in roaring, through pain), He was so breaking my bones!" Poets often compare great groaning to a lion's roaring, so, Isa 38:14, he compares his groans to the sounds of other animals (Ps 22:1) [MAURER].
14. Rather, "Like a swallow, or a crane" (from a root; "to disturb
the water," a bird frequenting the water)
chatter--twitter: broken sounds expressive of pain.
dove--called by the Arabs the daughter of mourning, from its plaintive note (Isa 59:11).
looking upward--to God for relief.
undertake for--literally, "be surety for" me; assure me that I shall be restored (Ps 119:122).
15-20. The second part of the song passes from prayer to thanksgiving
at the prayer being heard.
What shall I say?--the language of one at a loss for words to express his sense of the unexpected deliverance.
both spoken . . . and . . . done it-- (Nu 23:19). Both promised and performed (1Th 5:24; Heb 10:23).
himself--No one else could have done it (Ps 98:1).
go softly . . . in the bitterness--rather, "on account of the bitterness"; I will behave myself humbly in remembrance of my past sorrow and sickness from which I have been delivered by God's mercy (see 1Ki 21:27, 29). In Ps 42:4, the same Hebrew verb expresses the slow and solemn gait of one going up to the house of God; it is found nowhere else, hence ROSENMULLER explains it, "I will reverently attend the sacred festivals in the temple"; but this ellipsis would be harsh; rather metaphorically the word is transferred to a calm, solemn, and submissive walk of life.
16. by these--namely, by God's benefits, which are implied in
"He hath Himself done it" "unto me"). All "men live by these"
"and in all these is the life of my spirit," that is, I also live by
and (wilt) make me to live--The Hebrew is imperative, "make me to live." In this view he adds a prayer to the confident hope founded on his comparative convalescence, which he expressed, "Thou wilt recover me" [MAURER].
17. for peace--instead of the prosperity which I had previously.
great bitterness--literally, "bitterness to me, bitterness"; expressing intense emotion.
in love--literally, "attachment," such as joins one to another tenderly; "Thou hast been lovingly attached to me from the pit"; pregnant phrase for, Thy love has gone down to the pit, and drawn me out from it. The "pit" is here simply death, in Hezekiah's sense; realized in its fulness only in reference to the soul's redemption from hell by Jesus Christ (Isa 61:1), who went down to the pit for that purpose Himself (Ps 88:4-6; Zec 9:11, 12; Heb 13:20). "Sin" and sickness are connected (Ps 103:3; compare Isa 53:4, with Mt 8:17; 9:5, 6), especially under the Old Testament dispensation of temporal sanctions; but even now, sickness, though not invariably arising from sin in individuals, is connected with it in the general moral view.
cast . . . behind back--consigned my sins to oblivion. The same phrase occurs (1Ki 14:9; Ne 9:26; Ps 50:17). Contrast Ps 90:8, "Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance."
18. death--that is, the dead; Hades and its inhabitants
Plainly Hezekiah believed in a world of disembodied spirits; his
language does not imply what skepticism has drawn from it, but simply
that he regarded the disembodied state as one incapable of declaring
the praises of God before men, for it is, as regards this
world, an unseen land of stillness; "the living" alone can praise
God on earth, in reference to which only he is speaking;
Isa 57:1, 2
shows that at this time the true view of the blessedness of the
righteous dead was held, though not with the full clearness of the
Gospel, which "has brought life and immortality to light"
hope for thy truth-- (Ps 104:27). Their probation is at an end. They can no longer exercise faith and hope in regard to Thy faithfulness to Thy promises, which are limited to the present state. For "hope" ceases (even in the case of the godly) when sight begins (Ro 8:24, 25); the ungodly have "no hope" (1Th 4:13). Hope in God's truth is one of the grounds of praise to God (Ps 71:14; 119:49). Others translate, "cannot celebrate."
19. living . . . living--emphatic repetition, as in
Isa 38:11, 17;
his heart is so full of the main object of his prayer that, for want of
adequate words, he repeats the same word.
father to the children--one generation of the living to another. He probably, also, hints at his own desire to live until he should have a child, the successor to his throne, to whom he might make known and so perpetuate the memory of God's truth.
truth--faithfulness to His promises; especially in Hezekiah's case, His promise of hearing prayer.
20. was ready--not in the Hebrew; "Jehovah was for my salvation,"
that is, saved me (compare
we--I and my people.
in the house of the Lord--This song was designed, as many of the other Psalms, as a form to be used in public worship at stated times, perhaps on every anniversary of his recovery; hence "all the days of our life."
lump of figs--a round cake of figs pressed into a mass (1Sa 25:18). God works by means; the meanest of which He can make effectual.
boil--inflamed ulcer, produced by the plague.
22. house of the Lord--Hence he makes the praises to be sung there prominent in his song (Isa 38:20; Ps 116:12-14, 17-19).
Isa 39:1-8. HEZEKIAH'S ERROR IN THE DISPLAY OF HIS RICHES TO THE BABYLONIAN AMBASSADOR.
1. Merodach-baladan--For a hundred fifty years before the overthrow
of Nineveh by Cyaxares the Mede, a succession of rulers, mostly viceroys
of Assyria, ruled Babylon, from the time of Nabonassar, 747 B.C. That
date is called "the Era of Nabonassar." Pul or Phallukha was then
expelled, and a new dynasty set up at Nineveh, under Tiglath-pileser.
Semiramis, Pul's wife, then retired to Babylon, with Nabonassar, her
son, whose advent to the throne of Babylon, after the overthrow of the
old line at Nineveh, marked a new era. Sometimes the viceroys of Babylon
made themselves, for a time, independent of Assyria; thus
Merodach-baladan at this time did so, encouraged by the Assyrian
disaster in the Jewish campaign. He had done so before, and was defeated
in the first year of Sennacherib's reign, as is recorded in cuneiform
characters in that monarchs palace of Koyunjik. Nabopolassar was the
first who established, permanently, his independence; his son,
Nebuchadnezzar, raised Babylon to the position which Nineveh once
occupied; but from the want of stone near the Lower Euphrates, the
buildings of Babylon, formed of sun-dried brick, have not stood the wear
of ages as Nineveh has.
Merodach--an idol, the same as the god of war and planet Mars (Jer 50:2). Often kings took their names from their gods, as if peculiarly under their tutelage. So Belshazzar from Bel.
Baladan--means "Bel is his lord." The chronicle of EUSEBIUS contains a fragment of BEROSUS, stating that Acises, an Assyrian viceroy, usurped the supreme command at Babylon. Merodach- (or Berodach-) baladan murdered him and succeeded to the throne. Sennacherib conquered Merodach-baladan and left Esar-haddon, his son, as governor of Babylon. Merodach-baladan would naturally court the alliance of Hezekiah, who, like himself, had thrown off the yoke of the Assyrian king, and who would be equally glad of the Babylonian alliance against Assyria; hence arose the excessive attention which he paid to the usurper.
sick--An additional reason is given (2Ch 32:31). "The princes of Babylon sent to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land"; namely, the recession of the shadow on Ahaz' sundial; to the Chaldean astronomers, such a fact would be especially interesting, the dial having been invented at Babylon.
2. glad--It was not the mere act, but the spirit of it, which provoked
"Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him,
for his heart was lifted up"; also compare
God "tries" His people at different times by different ways, bringing
out "all that is in their heart," to show them its varied corruptions.
Compare David in a similar case
precious things--rather, "the house of his (aromatic) spices"; from a Hebrew root, to "break to pieces," as is done to aromatics.
silver . . . gold--partly obtained from the Assyrian camp (Isa 33:4); partly from presents (2Ch 32:23, 27-29).
precious ointment--used for anointing kings and priests.
armour--or else vessels in general; the parallel passage (2Ch 32:27), "treasuries . . . for shields," favors English Version. His arsenal.
3. What . . . whence--implying that any proposition
coming from the idolatrous enemies of God, with whom Israel was
forbidden to form alliance, should have been received with anything but
gladness. Reliance on Babylon, rather than on God, was a similar
sin to the previous reliance on Egypt
far country--implying that he had done nothing more than was proper in showing attention to strangers "from a far country."
4. All--a frank confession of his whole fault; the king submits his conduct to the scrutiny of a subject, because that subject was accredited by God. Contrast Asa (2Ch 16:7-10).
5. Lord of hosts--who has all thy goods at His disposal.
6. days come--one hundred twenty years afterwards. This is the first intimation that the Jews would be carried to Babylon--the first designation of their place of punishment. The general prophecy of Moses (Le 26:33; De 28:64); the more particular one of Ahijah in Jeroboam's time (1Ki 14:15), "beyond the river"; and of Am 5:27, "captivity beyond Damascus"; are now concentrated in this specific one as to "Babylon" (Mic 4:10). It was an exact retribution in kind, that as Babylon had been the instrument of Hezekiah and Judah's sin, so also it should be the instrument of their punishment.
7. sons . . . from thee--The sons which Hezekiah (as
JOSEPHUS tells us) wished to have (see on
on "wept sore") will be among the foremost in suffering.
eunuchs--fulfilled (Da 1:2, 3, 7).
8. peace . . . in my days--The punishment was not, as in David's case (2Sa 24:13-15), sent in his time. True repentance acquiesces in all God's ways and finds cause of thanksgiving in any mitigation.
Isa 40:1-31. SECOND PART OF THE PROPHECIES OF ISAIAH.
The former were local and temporary in their reference. These belong to the distant future, and are world-wide in their interest; the deliverance from Babylon under Cyrus, which he here foretells by prophetic suggestion, carries him on to the greater deliverance under Messiah, the Saviour of Jews and Gentiles in the present eclectic Church, and the restorer of Israel and Head of the world-wide kingdom, literal and spiritual, ultimately. As Assyria was the hostile world power in the former part, which refers to Isaiah's own time, so Babylon is so in the latter part, which refers to a period long subsequent. The connecting link, however, is furnished (Isa 39:6) at the close of the former part. The latter part was written in the old age of Isaiah, as appears from the greater mellowness of style and tone which pervades it; it is less fiery and more tender and gentle than the former part.
1. Comfort ye, comfort ye--twice repeated to give double assurance.
Having announced the coming captivity of the Jews in Babylon, God now
desires His servants, the prophets
to comfort them. The scene is laid in Babylon; the time, near the close
of the captivity; the ground of comfort is the speedy ending of the
captivity, the Lord Himself being their leader.
my people . . . your God--correlatives (Jer 31:33; Ho 1:9, 10). It is God's covenant relation with His people, and His "word" of promise (Isa 40:8) to their forefathers, which is the ground of His interposition in their behalf, after having for a time chastised them (Isa 54:8).
2. comfortably--literally, "to the heart"; not merely to the intellect.
Jerusalem--Jerusalem though then in ruins, regarded by God as about to be rebuilt; her people are chiefly meant, but the city is personified.
cry--publicly and emphatically as a herald cries aloud (Isa 40:3).
warfare--or, the appointed time of her misery (Job 7:1, Margin; Job 14:14; Da 10:1). The ulterior and Messianic reference probably is the definite time when the legal economy of burdensome rites is at an end (Ga 4:3, 4).
pardoned--The Hebrew expresses that her iniquity is so expiated that God now delights in restoring her.
double for all her sins--This can only, in a very restricted sense, hold good of Judah's restoration after the first captivity. For how can it be said her "warfare was accomplished," when as yet the galling yoke of Antiochus and also of Rome was before them? The "double for her sins" must refer to the twofold captivity, the Assyrian and the Roman; at the coming close of this latter dispersion, and then only, can her "iniquity" be said to be "pardoned," or fully expiated [HOUBIGANT]. It does not mean double as much as she deserved, but ample punishment in her twofold captivity. Messiah is the antitypical Israel (compare Mt 2:15, with Ho 11:1). He indeed has "received" of sufferings amply more than enough to expiate "for our sins" (Ro 5:15, 17). Otherwise (cry unto her) "that she shall receive (blessings) of the Lord's hand double to the punishment of all her sins" (so "sin" is used, Zec 14:19, Margin) [LOWTH]. The English Version is simpler.
3. crieth in the wilderness--So the Septuagint and
connect the words. The Hebrew accents, however, connect them thus:
"In the wilderness prepare ye," &c., and the parallelism also requires
this, "Prepare ye in the wilderness," answering to "make straight
in the desert." Matthew was entitled, as under inspiration, to vary
the connection, so as to bring out another sense, included in the Holy
Spirit's intention; in
"John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness," answers thus to
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness." MAURER takes the participle as put for the finite verb
"A voice crieth." The clause, "in the wilderness," alludes to
Israel's passage through it from Egypt to Canaan
Jehovah being their leader; so it shall be at the coming restoration of
Israel, of which the restoration from Babylon was but a type (not the
full realization; for their way from it was not through the
"wilderness"). Where John preached (namely, in the wilderness; the type
of this earth, a moral wilderness), there were the hearers who
are ordered to prepare the way of the Lord, and there was to be
the coming of the Lord [BENGEL]. John, though he
was immediately followed by the suffering Messiah, is rather the herald
of the coming reigning Messiah, as
Mal 4:5, 6
("before the great and dreadful day of the Lord"),
implies that John is not exclusively meant; and that though in one
sense Elias has come, in another he is yet to come. John was the
figurative Elias, coming "in the spirit and power of Elias"
where John the Baptist denies that he was the actual Elias, accords
with this view.
Mal 4:5, 6
cannot have received its exhaustive fulfilment in John; the Jews always
understood it of the literal Elijah. As there is another consummating
advent of Messiah Himself, so perhaps there is to be of his forerunner
Elias, who also was present at the transfiguration.
the Lord--Hebrew, Jehovah; as this is applied to Jesus, He must be Jehovah (Mt 3:3).
4. Eastern monarchs send heralds before them in a journey to clear
away obstacles, make causeways over valleys, and level hills. So John's
duty was to bring back the people to obedience to the law and to remove
all self-confidence, pride in national privileges, hypocrisy, and
irreligion, so that they should be ready for His coming
5. see it--The Septuagint for "it," has "the salvation of God."
that is, Messiah); but the Evangelist probably took these words from
for--rather, "All flesh shall see that the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it" [BENGEL].
6. The voice--the same divine herald as in
he--one of those ministers or prophets (see on Isa 40:1) whose duty it was, by direction of "the voice," to "comfort the Lord's afflicted people with the promises of brighter days."
All flesh is grass--The connection is, "All human things, however goodly, are transitory: God's promises alone steadfast" (Isa 40:8, 15, 17, 23, 24); this contrast was already suggested in Isa 40:5, "All flesh . . . the mouth of the Lord." 1Pe 1:24, 25 applies this passage distinctly to the gospel word of Messiah (compare Joh 12:24; Jas 1:10).
7. spirit of the Lord--rather, "wind of Jehovah"
The withering east wind of those countries sent by Jehovah
the people--rather, "this people" [LOWTH], which may refer to the Babylonians [ROSENMULLER]; but better, mankind in general, as in Isa 42:5, so Isa 40:6, "all flesh"; this whole race, that is, man.
9. Rather, "Oh, thou that bringest good things to Zion; thou that
bringest good tidings to Jerusalem." "Thou" is thus the collective
personification of the messengers who announce God's gracious
purpose to Zion (see on
confirms this [Vulgate and GESENIUS]. If
English Version be retained, the sense will be the glad message
was first to be proclaimed to Jerusalem, and then from it as the center
to all "Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth"
(Lu 24:47, 49;
[VITRINGA and HENGSTENBERG].
mountain--It was customary for those who were about to promulgate any great thing, to ascend a hill from which they could be seen and heard by all (Jud 9:7; Mt 5:1).
be not afraid--to announce to the exiles that their coming return home is attended with danger in the midst of the Babylonians. The gospel minister must "open his mouth boldly" (Pr 29:25; Eph 6:19).
Behold--especially at His second coming (Zec 12:10; 14:5).
10. with strong hand--or, "against the strong"; rather, "as a strong
one" [MAURER]. Or, against the strong one, namely, Satan
Re 20:2, 3, 10)
arm--power (Ps 89:13; 98:1).
for him--that is, He needs not to seek help for Himself from any external source, but by His own inherent power He gains rule for Himself (so Isa 40:14).
work--or, "recompense for his work"; rather, "recompense which He gives for work" (Isa 62:11; Re 22:12).
11. feed--including all a shepherd's care--"tend"
carry--applicable to Messiah's restoration of Israel, as sheep scattered in all lands, and unable to move of themselves to their own land (Ps 80:1; Jer 23:3). As Israel was "carried from the womb" (that is, in its earliest days) (Isa 63:9, 11, 12; Ps 77:20), so it shall be in "old age" (that is, its latter days) (Isa 46:3, 4).
gently lead--as a thoughtful shepherd does the ewes "giving suck" (Margin) (Ge 33:13, 14).
12. Lest the Jews should suppose that He who was just before described
as a "shepherd" is a mere man, He is now described as GOD.
Who--Who else but GOD could do so? Therefore, though the redemption and restoration of His people, foretold here, was a work beyond man's power, they should not doubt its fulfilment since all things are possible to Him who can accurately regulate the proportion of the waters as if He had measured them with His hand (compare Isa 40:15). But MAURER translates: "Who can measure," &c., that is, How immeasurable are the works of God? The former is a better explanation (Job 28:25; Pr 30:4).
span--the space from the end of the thumb to the end of the middle finger extended; God measures the vast heavens as one would measure a small object with his span.
dust of the earth--All the earth is to Him but as a few grains of dust contained in a small measure (literally, "the third part of a larger measure").
hills in a balance--adjusted in their right proportions and places, as exactly as if He had weighed them out.
13. Quoted in Ro 11:34; 1Co 2:16. The Hebrew here for "directed" is the same as in Isa 40:12 for "meted out"; thus the sense is, "Jehovah measures out heaven with His span"; but who can measure Him? that is, Who can search out His Spirit (mind) wherewith He searches out and accurately adjusts all things? MAURER rightly takes the Hebrew in the same sense as in Isa 40:12 (so Pr 16:2; 21:2), "weigh," "ponder." "Direct," as in English Version, answers, however, better to "taught" in the parallel clause.
14. path of judgment--His wisdom, whereby He so beautifully adjusts the places and proportions of all created things.
15. of--rather, (hanging) from a bucket
he taketh up . . . as a very little thing--rather, "are as a mere grain of dust which is taken up," namely, by the wind; literally, "one taketh up," impersonally (Ex 16:14) [MAURER].
isles--rather, "lands" in general, answering to "the nations" in the parallel clause; perhaps lands, like Mesopotamia, enclosed by rivers [JEROME] (so Isa 42:15). However, English Version, "isles" answers well to "mountains" (Isa 40:12), both alike being lifted up by the power of God; in fact, "isles" are mountains upheaved from the bed of the sea by volcanic agency; only that he seems here to have passed from unintelligent creatures (Isa 40:12) to intelligent, as nations and lands, that is, their inhabitants.
16. All Lebanon's forest would not supply fuel enough to burn
sacrifices worthy of the glory of God
beasts--which abounded in Lebanon.
less than nothing--MAURER translates, as in Isa 41:24, "of nothing" (partitively; or expressive of the nature of a thing), a mere nothing.
18. Which of the heathen idols, then, is to be compared to this Almighty God? This passage, if not written (as BARNES thinks) so late as the idolatrous times of Manasseh, has at least a prospective warning reference to them and subsequent reigns; the result of the chastisement of Jewish idolatry in the Babylonish captivity was that thenceforth after the restoration the Jews never fell into it. Perhaps these prophecies here may have tended to that result (see 2Ki 23:26, 27).
19. graven--rather, an image in general; for it is incongruous to
say "melteth" (that is, casts out of metal) a graven image
(that is, one of carved wood); so
spreadeth it over--(See on Isa 30:22).
chains--an ornament lavishly worn by rich Orientals (Isa 3:18, 19), and so transferred to their idols. Egyptian relics show that idols were suspended in houses by chains.
20. impoverished--literally, "sunk" in circumstances.
no oblation--he who cannot afford to overlay his idol with gold and silver (Isa 40:19).
tree . . . not rot--the cedar, cypress, oak, or ash (Isa 44:14).
graven--of wood; not a molten one of metal.
not be moved--that shall be durable.
21. ye--who worship idols. The question emphatically implies, they
from the beginning-- (Isa 41:4, 26; 48:16). God is the beginning (Re 1:8). The tradition handed down from the very first, of the creation of all things by God at the beginning, ought to convince you of His omnipotence and of the folly of idolatry.
22. It is he--rather, connected with last verse, "Have ye not
known?"--have ye not understood Him that sitteth . . .?
circle--applicable to the globular form of the earth, above which, and the vault of sky around it, He sits. For "upon" translate "above."
as grasshoppers--or locusts in His sight (Nu 13:33), as He looks down from on high (Ps 33:13, 14; 113:4-6).
curtain--referring to the awning which the Orientals draw over the open court in the center of their houses as a shelter in rain or hot weather.
judges--that is, rulers; for these exercised judicial authority (Ps 2:10). The Hebrew, shophtee, answers to the Carthaginian chief magistrates, suffetes.
24. they--the "princes and judges"
who oppose God's purposes and God's people. Often compared to tall
not . . . sown--the seed, that is, race shall become extinct (Na 1:14).
stock--not even shall any shoots spring up from the stump when the tree has been cut down: no descendants whatever (Job 14:7; see on Isa 11:1).
and . . . also--so the Septuagint. But MAURER translates, "They are hardly (literally, 'not yet', as in 2Ki 20:4) planted (&c.) when He (God) blows upon them."
blow--The image is from the hot east wind (simoon) that "withers" vegetation.
whirlwind . . . stubble-- (Ps 83:13), where, "like a wheel," refers to the rotatory action of the whirlwind on the stubble.
25. (Compare Isa 40:18).
26. bringeth out . . . host--image from a general reviewing his army:
He is Lord of Sabaoth, the heavenly hosts
calleth . . . by names--numerous as the stars are. God knows each in all its distinguishing characteristics--a sense which "name" often bears in Scripture; so in Ge 2:19, 20, Adam, as God's vicegerent, called the beasts by name, that is, characterized them by their several qualities, which, indeed, He has imparted.
by the greatness . . . faileth--rather, "by reason of abundance of (their inner essential) force and firmness of strength, not one of them is driven astray"; referring to the sufficiency of the physical forces with which He has endowed the heavenly bodies, to prevent all disorder in their motions [HORSLEY]. In English Version the sense is, "He has endowed them with their peculiar attributes ('names') by the greatness of His might," and the power of His strength (the better rendering, instead of, "for that He is strong").
27. Since these things are so, thou hast no reason to think that thine
interest ("way," that is, condition,
is disregarded by God.
judgment is passed over from--rather, "My cause is neglected by my God; He passes by my case in my bondage and distress without noticing it."
my God--who especially might be expected to care for me.
28. known--by thine own observation and reading of Scripture.
heard--from tradition of the fathers.
everlasting, &c.--These attributes of Jehovah ought to inspire His afflicted people with confidence.
no searching of his understanding--therefore thy cause cannot, as thou sayest, escape His notice; though much in His ways is unsearchable, He cannot err (Job 11:7-9). He is never "faint" or "weary" with having the countless wants of His people ever before Him to attend to.
29. Not only does He "not faint"
but He gives power to them who do faint.
no might . . . increaseth strength--a seeming paradox. They "have no might" in themselves; but in Him they have strength, and He "increases" that strength (2Co 12:9).
30. young men--literally, "those selected"; men picked out on account of their youthful vigor for an enterprise.
31. mount up-- (2Sa 1:23). Rather, "They shall put forth fresh feathers as eagles" are said to renovate themselves; the parallel clause, "renew their strength," confirms this. The eagle was thought to moult and renew his feathers, and with them his strength, in old age (so the Septuagint, Vulgate, Ps 103:5). However, English Version is favored by the descending climax, mount up--run--walk; in every attitude the praying, waiting child of God is "strong in the Lord" (Ps 84:7; Mic 4:5; Heb 12:1).
Isa 41:1-29. ADDITIONAL REASONS WHY THE JEWS SHOULD PLACE CONFIDENCE IN GOD'S PROMISES OF DELIVERING THEM; HE WILL RAISE UP A PRINCE AS THEIR DELIVERER, WHEREAS THE IDOLS COULD NOT DELIVER THE HEATHEN NATIONS FROM THAT PRINCE.
God is about to argue the case; therefore let the nations listen in
reverential silence. Compare
Ge 28:16, 17,
as to the spirit in which we ought to behave before God.
before me--rather (turning), "towards me" [MAURER].
islands--including all regions beyond sea (Jer 25:22), maritime regions, not merely isles in the strict sense.
renew . . . strength--Let them gather their strength for the argument; let them adduce their strongest arguments (compare Isa 1:18; Job 9:32). "Judgment" means here, to decide the point at issue between us.
2. Who--else but God? The fact that God "raiseth up" Cyrus and
qualifies him for becoming the conqueror of the nations and deliverer of
God's people, is a strong argument why they should trust in Him. The
future is here prophetically represented as present or past.
the righteous man--Cyrus; as Isa 44:28; 45:1-4, 13; 46:11, "from the East," prove. Called "righteous," not so much on account of his own equity [HERODOTUS, 3.89], as because he fulfilled God's righteous will in restoring the Jews from their unjust captivity. Raised him up in righteousness. The Septuagint takes the Hebrew as a noun "righteousness." MAURER translates, "Who raised up him whom salvation (national and temporal, the gift of God's 'righteousness' to the good, Isa 32:17; compare Isa 45:8; 51:5) meets at his foot" (that is, wherever he goes). Cyrus is said to come from the East, because Persia is east of Babylon; but in Isa 41:25, from the north, in reference to Media. At the same time the full sense of righteousness, or righteous, and of the whole passage, is realized only in Messiah, Cyrus' antitype (Cyrus knew not God, Isa 45:4). He goes forth as the Universal Conqueror of the "nations," in righteousness making war (Ps 2:8, 9; Re 19:11-15; 6:2; 2:26, 27). "The idols He shall utterly abolish" (compare Isa 7:23, with Isa 2:18). Righteousness was always raised up from the East. Paradise was east of Eden. The cherubim were at the east of the garden. Abraham was called from the East. Judea, the birthplace of Messiah, was in the East.
called . . . to . . . foot--called him to attend His (God's) steps, that is, follow His guidance. In Ezr 1:2, Cyrus acknowledges Jehovah as the Giver of his victories. He subdued the nations from the Euxine to the Red Sea, and even Egypt (says XENOPHON).
dust-- (Isa 17:13; 29:5; Ps 18:42). Persia, Cyrus' country, was famed for the use of the "bow" (Isa 22:6). "Before him" means "gave them into his power" (Jos 10:12). MAURER translates, "Gave his (the enemy's) sword to be dust, and his (the enemy's) bow to be as stubble" (Job 41:26, 29).
3. Cyrus had not visited the regions of the Euphrates and westward until he visited them for conquest. So the gospel conquests penetrated regions where the name of God was unknown before.
4. Who--else but God?
calling . . . generations from . . . beginning--The origin and position of all nations are from God (De 32:8; Ac 17:26); what is true of Cyrus and his conquests is true of all the movements of history from the first; all are from God.
with the last--that is, the last (Isa 44:6; 48:12).
5. feared--that they would be subdued.
drew near, and came--together, for mutual defense.
6. Be of good courage--Be not alarmed because of Cyrus, but make new images to secure the favor of the gods against him.
7. One workman encourages the other to be quick in finishing the idol,
so as to avert the impending danger.
nails--to keep it steady in its place. Wisdom 13:15, 16, gives a similar picture of the folly of idolatry.
8. Contrast between the idolatrous nations whom God will destroy by
Cyrus, and Israel whom God will deliver by the same man for their
servant--so termed as being chosen by God to worship Him themselves, and to lead other peoples to do the same (Isa 45:4).
Jacob . . . chosen-- (Ps 135:4).
my friend--literally, "loving me."
9. Abraham, the father of the Jews, taken from the remote Ur of the
Chaldees. Others take it of Israel, called out of Egypt
from the chief men--literally, "the elbows"; so the joints; hence the root which joins the tree to the earth; figuratively, those of ancient and noble stock. But the parallel clause "ends of the earth" favors GESENIUS, who translates, "the extremities of the earth"; so JEROME.
10. be not dismayed--literally, anxiously to look at one another in dismay.
right hand of my righteousness--that is, My right hand prepared in accordance with My righteousness (faithfulness to My promises) to uphold thee.
11. ashamed--put to the shame of defeat (compare Isa 54:17; Ro 9:33).
12. seek . . . and . . . not find--said of one so utterly put out of
the way that not a trace of him can be found
thing of naught--shall utterly perish.
13. (De 33:26, 29).
14. worm--in a state of contempt and affliction, whom all loathe and
tread on, the very expression which Messiah, on the cross, applies to
so completely are the Lord and His people identified and assimilated.
God's people are as 'worms' in humble thoughts of themselves, and in
their enemies' haughty thoughts of them; worms, but not vipers, or of
the serpent's seed." [HENRY].
men--The parallelism requires the word "men" here to have associated with it the idea of fewness or feebleness. LOWTH translates, "Ye mortals of Israel." The Septuagint, "altogether diminutive." MAURER supports English Version, which the Hebrew text best accords with.
the Lord--in general.
and thy redeemer--in particular; a still stronger reason why He should "help" them.
15. God will make Israel to destroy their enemies as the Eastern
(Isa 28:27, 28)
bruises out the grain with its teeth, and gives the chaff to the winds
teeth--serrated, so as to cut up the straw for fodder and separate the grain from the chaff.
mountains . . . hills--kingdoms more or less powerful that were hostile to Israel (Isa 2:14).
16. fan--winnowed (compare
whirlwind . . . scatter them-- (Job 27:21; 30:22).
17. poor and needy--primarily, the exiles in Babylon.
water--figuratively, refreshment, prosperity after their affliction. The language is so constructed as only very partially to apply to the local and temporary event of the restoration from Babylon; but fully to be realized in the waters of life and of the Spirit, under the Gospel (Isa 30:25; 44:3; Joh 7:37-39; 4:14). God wrought no miracles that we read of, in any wilderness, during the return from Babylon.
faileth--rather, "is rigid" or parched [HORSLEY].
18. Alluding to the waters with which Israel was miraculously supplied
in the desert after having come out of Egypt.
high places--bare of trees, barren, and unwatered (Jer 4:11; 14:6). "High places . . . valleys" spiritually express that in all circumstances, whether elevated or depressed, God's people will have refreshment for their souls, however little to be expected it might seem.
(Isa 32:15; 55:13).
shittah--rather, the "acacia," or Egyptian thorn, from which the gum Arabic is obtained [LOWTH].
oil tree--the olive.
fir tree--rather, the "cypress": grateful by its shade.
pine--GESENIUS translates, "the holm."
box tree--not the shrub used for bordering flower beds, but [GESENIUS] a kind of cedar, remarkable for the smallness of its cones, and the upward direction of its branches.
20. consider--literally, "lay it (to heart)"; turn (their attention) to it. "They" refers to all lands (Isa 41:1; Ps 64:9; 40:3). The effect on the Gentiles of God's open interposition hereafter in behalf of Israel shall be, they shall seek Israel's God (Isa 2:3; Zec 8:21-23).
21. A new challenge to the idolaters (see
Isa 41:1, 7)
to say, can their idols predict future events as Jehovah can
your strong reasons--the reasons for idol-worship which you think especially strong.
22. what shall happen--"Let them
bring near and declare future contingencies"
former things . . . the latter end of them--show what former predictions the idols have given, that we may compare the event ("latter end") with them; or give new prophecies ("declare things to come") (Isa 42:9), [MAURER]. BARNES explains it more reconditely, "Let them foretell the entire series of events, showing, in their order, the things which shall first occur, as well as those which shall finally happen"; the false prophets tried to predict isolated events, having no mutual dependency; not a long series of events mutually and orderly connected, and stretching far into futurity. They did not even try to do this. None but God can do it (Isa 46:10; 44:7, 8). "Or . . . things to come" will, in this view, mean, Let them, if they cannot predict the series, even predict plainly any detached events.
23. do good . . . evil--give any proof at all of your power, either
to reward your friends or punish your enemies
that we may be dismayed, and behold it together--MAURER translates, "That we (Jehovah and the idols) may look one another in the face (that is, encounter one another, 2Ki 14:8, 11), and see" our respective powers by a trial. HORSLEY translates, "Then the moment we behold, we shall be dismayed." "We" thus, and in English Version, refers to Jehovah and His worshippers.
24. of nothing--(See on
The Hebrew text is here corrupt; so English Version
abomination--abstract for concrete: not merely abominable, but the essence of whatever is so (De 18:12).
chooseth you--as an object of worship.
25. raised up--in purpose: not fulfilled till a hundred fifty years
north--In Isa 41:2, "from the East"; both are true: see the note there.
call . . . my name--acknowledge Me as God, and attribute his success to Me; this he did in the proclamation (Ezr 1:2). This does not necessarily imply that Cyrus renounced idolatry, but hearing of Isaiah's prophecy given a hundred fifty years before, so fully realized in his own acts, he recognized God as the true God, but retained his idol (so Naaman, 2Ki 5:1-27; compare 2Ki 17:33, 41; Da 3:28; 4:1-3, 34-37).
princes--the Babylonian satraps or governors of provinces.
mortar--"mire"; He shall tread them under foot as dirt (Isa 10:6).
26. Who--of the idolatrous soothsayers? When this prophecy shall be
fulfilled, all shall see that God foretold as to Cyrus, which none of
the soothsayers have.
beforetime--before the event occurred.
He is righteous--rather, "It is true"; it was a true prophecy, as the event shows. "He is righteous," in English Version, must be interpreted, The fulfilment of the idol's words proves that he is faithful.
showeth, &c.--rather, "there was none (of the soothsayers) that showed . . . declared--no one has heard your words" foretelling the event.
27. Rather, "I first will give to Zion and to Jerusalem the messenger of good tidings, Behold, behold them!" The clause, "Behold . . . them" (the wished-for event is now present) is inserted in the middle of the sentence as a detached exclamation, by an elegant transposition, the language being framed abruptly, as one would speak in putting vividly as it were, before the eyes of others, some joyous event which he had just learned [LUDOVICUS DE DIEU] (compare Isa 40:9). None of the idols had foretold these events. Jehovah was the "first" to do so (see Isa 41:4).
28. no counsellor--no one of the idolatrous soothsayers who could
those who consulted them what would take place. Compare
"counsel of His messenger"
when I asked--that is, challenged them, in this chapter.
29. confusion--"emptiness" [BARNES].
Isa 42:1-25. MESSIAH THE ANTITYPE OF CYRUS.
God's description of His character (Isa 42:1-4). God addresses Him directly (Isa 42:5-7). Address to the people to attend to the subject (Isa 42:8, 9). Call to all, and especially the exile Jews to rejoice in the coming deliverance (Isa 42:10-25).
1. my servant--The law of prophetic suggestion leads Isaiah from
Cyrus to the far greater Deliverer, behind whom the former is lost sight
of. The express quotation in
and the description can apply to Messiah alone
with which compare
Israel, also, in its highest ideal, is called the "servant" of God
But this ideal is realized only in the antitypical Israel, its
representative-man and Head, Messiah (compare
with Ho 11:1).
"Servant" was the position assumed by the Son of God throughout His
elect--chosen by God before the foundation of the world for an atonement (1Pe 1:20; Re 13:8). Redemption was no afterthought to remedy an unforeseen evil (Ro 16:25, 26; Eph 3:9, 11; 2Ti 1:9, 10; Tit 1:2, 3). In Mt 12:18 it is rendered "My beloved"; the only beloved Son, beloved in a sense distinct from all others. Election and the love of God are inseparably joined.
soul--a human phrase applied to God, because of the intended union of humanity with the Divinity: "I Myself."
delighteth--is well pleased with, and accepts, as a propitiation. God could have "delighted" in no created being as a mediator (compare Isa 42:21; 63:5; Mt 3:17).
spirit upon him-- (Isa 11:2; 61:1; Lu 4:18; Joh 3:34).
judgment--the gospel dispensation, founded on justice, the canon of the divine rule and principle of judgment called "the law" (Isa 2:3; compare Isa 42:4; 51:4; 49:6). The Gospel has a discriminating judicial effect: saving to penitents; condemnatory to Satan, the enemy (Joh 12:31; 16:11), and the wilfully impenitent (Joh 9:39). Mt 12:18 has, "He shall show," for "He shall bring forth," or "cause to go forth." Christ both produced and announced His "judgment." The Hebrew dwells most on His producing it; Matthew on His announcement of it: the two are joined in Him.
marks the kind of "cry" as that of altercation by quoting it,
"He shall not strive"
street--the Septuagint translates "outside." An image from an altercation in a house, loud enough to be heard in the street outside: appropriate of Him who "withdrew Himself" from the public fame created by His miracles to privacy (Mt 12:15; Mt 12:34, there, shows another and sterner aspect of His character, which is also implied in the term "judgment").
3. bruised--"It pleased the Lord to bruise Him"
(Isa 53:5, 10;
so He can feel for the bruised. As
described His unturbulent spirit towards His violent enemies
and His utter freedom from love of notoriety, so
His tenderness in cherishing the first spark of grace in the penitent
reed--fragile: easily "shaken with the wind" (Mt 11:7). Those who are at best feeble, and who besides are oppressed by calamity or by the sense of sin.
break--entirely crush or condemn. Compare "bind up the broken-hearted" (Isa 50:4; 61:1; Mt 11:28).
flax--put for the lamp-wick, formed of flax. The believer is the lamp (so the Greek, Mt 5:15; Joh 5:35): his conscience enlightened by the Holy Ghost is the wick. "Smoking" means "dimly burning," "smouldering," the flame not quite extinct. This expresses the positive side of the penitent's religion; as "bruised reed," the negative. Broken-hearted in himself, but not without some spark of flame: literally, "from above." Christ will supply such a one with grace as with oil. Also, the light of nature smouldering in the Gentiles amidst the hurtful fumes of error. He not only did not quench, but cleared away the mists and superadded the light of revelation. See JEROME, To Algasia, Question 2.
truth--Mt 12:20 quotes it, "send forth judgment unto victory." Matthew, under the Spirit, gives the virtual sense, but varies the word, in order to bring out a fresh aspect of the same thing. Truth has in itself the elements of victory over all opposing forces. Truth is the victory of Him who is "the truth" (Joh 14:6). The gospel judicial sifting ("judgment") of believers and unbelievers, begun already in part (Joh 3:18, 19; 9:39), will be consummated victoriously in truth only at His second coming; Isa 42:13, 14, here, and Mt 12:32, 36, 41, 42, show that there is reference to the judicial aspect of the Gospel, especially finally: besides the mild triumph of Jesus coming in mercy to the penitent now (Isa 42:2), there shall be finally the judgment on His enemies, when the "truth" shall be perfectly developed. Compare Isa 61:1-3, where the two comings are similarly joined (Ps 2:4-6, 8; Re 15:2, 4; 19:11-16). On "judgment," see on Isa 42:1.
4. fail--faint; man in religion may become as the almost
but not so He in His purposes of grace.
discouraged--literally, "broken," that is, checked in zeal by discouragements (compare Isa 49:4, 5). ROSENMULLER not so well translates, "He shall not be too slow on the one hand, nor run too hastily on the other."
judgment--His true religion, the canon of His judgments and righteous reign.
isles . . . wait, &c.--The distant lands beyond sea shall put their trust in His gospel way of salvation. Mt 12:21 virtually gives the sense, with the inspired addition of another aspect of the same thing, "In his name shall the Gentiles trust" (as "wait for" here means, Isa 30:18). "His law" is not something distinct from Himself, but is indeed Himself, the manifestation of God's character ("name") in Christ, who is the embodiment of the law (Isa 42:21; Jer 23:6; Ro 10:4). "Isles" here, and in Isa 42:12, may refer to the fact that the populations of which the Church was primarily formed were Gentiles of the countries bordering on the Mediterranean.
5. Previously God had spoken of Messiah; now
He speaks to Him. To show to all that He is able to sustain the
Messiah in His appointed work, and that all might accept Messiah as
commissioned by such a mighty God, He commences by announcing Himself as
the Almighty Creator and Preserver of all things.
spread . . . earth-- (Ps 136:6).
6. in righteousness--rather, "for a righteous purpose"
God "set forth" His Son "to be a propitiation (so as) to declare His
(God's) righteousness, that God might be just, and (yet) the
justifier of him which believeth in Jesus"
(Ro 3:25, 26;
compare see on
Isa 45:13; 50:8, 9).
hold . . . hand--compare as to Israel, the type of Messiah, Ho 11:3.
covenant--the medium of the covenant, originally made between God and Abraham (Isa 49:8). "The mediator of a better covenant" (Heb 8:6) than the law (see Isa 49:8; Jer 31:33; 50:5). So the abstract "peace," for peace-maker (Mic 5:5; Eph 2:14).
the people--Israel; as Isa 49:8, compared with Isa 42:6, proves (Lu 2:32).
(Isa 42:16, 18, 19;
prison-- (Isa 61:1, 2).
darkness--opposed to "light" (Isa 42:6; Eph 5:8; 1Pe 2:9).
8. God turns from addressing Messiah to the people.
Lord--JEHOVAH: God's distinguishing and incommunicable name, indicating essential being and immutable faithfulness (compare Ex 6:3; Ps 83:18; 96:5; Ho 12:5).
my--that is due to Me, and to Me alone.
9. former things--Former predictions of God, which were now fulfilled,
are here adduced as proof that they ought to trust in Him alone as God;
namely, the predictions as to Israel's restoration from Babylon.
new--namely, predictions as to Messiah, who is to bring all nations to the worship of Jehovah (Isa 42:1, 4, 6).
spring forth--The same image from plants just beginning to germinate occurs in Isa 43:19; 58:8. Before there is the slightest indication to enable a sagacious observer to infer the coming event, God foretells it.
10. new song--such as has never before been sung, called for by a new
manifestation of God's grace, to express which no hymn for former
mercies would be appropriate. The new song shall be sung when the Lord
shall reign in Jerusalem, and all "nations shall flow unto it"
(Isa 2:2; 26:1;
Re 5:9; 14:3).
ye that go down to the sea--whose conversion will be the means of diffusing the Gospel to distant lands.
all . . . therein--all the living creatures that fill the sea (Ps 96:11) [MAURER]. Or, all sailors and voyagers [GESENIUS]. But these were already mentioned in the previous clause: there he called on all who go upon the sea; in this clause all animals in the sea; so in Isa 42:11, he calls on the inanimate wilderness to lift up its voice. External nature shall be so renovated as to be in unison with the moral renovation.
11. cities--in a region not wholly waste, but mainly so, with an
oasis here and there.
Kedar--in Arabia-Deserta (Isa 21:16; Ge 25:13). The Kedarenians led a nomadic, wandering life. So Kedar is here put in general for that class of men.
rock--Sela, that is, Petra, the metropolis of Idumea and the Nabathœan Ishmaelites. Or it may refer in general to those in Arabia-Petræa, who had their dwellings cut out of the rock.
the mountains--namely, of Paran, south of Sinai, in Arabia-Petræa [VITRINGA].
12. glory . . . islands-- (Isa 24:15).
13-16. Jehovah will no longer restrain His wrath: He will go forth as
a mighty warrior
to destroy His people's and His enemies, and to deliver Israel (compare
stir up jealousy--rouse His indignation.
roar--image from the battle cry of a warrior.
14. long time--namely, during the desolation of Israel
holden my peace--(Compare Ps 50:21; Hab 1:2).
cry like a travailing woman, &c.--Like a woman in parturition, who, after having restrained her breathing for a time, at last, overcome with labor pain, lets out her voice with a panting sigh; so Jehovah will give full vent to His long pent-up wrath. Translate, instead of "destroy . . . devour"; I will at once breathe hard and pant, namely, giving loose to My wrath.
15. I will destroy all My foes.
mountains--in Palestine usually planted with vines and olives in terraces, up to their tops.
islands--rather, "dry lands." God will destroy His foes, the heathen, and their idols, and "dry up" the fountains of their oracles, their doctrines and institutions, the symbol of which is water, and their schools which promoted idolatry [VITRINGA].
16. blind--God's people, Israel, in captivity, needing a guide. In
the ulterior sense the New Testament Church, which was about to be led
and enlightened by the Son of God as its leader and shepherd in the
wilderness of the Roman empire, until it should reach a city of
habitation. "A way . . . they knew not," refers to the various means
ployed by Providence for the establishment of the Church in the world,
such as would never have occurred to the mind of mere man. "Blind," they
are called, as not having heretofore seen God's ways in ordering His
make darkness light, &c.--implies that the glorious issue would only be known by the event itself [VITRINGA]. The same holds good of the individual believer (Isa 30:21; Ps 107:7; compare Ho 2:6, 14; Eph 5:8; Heb 13:5).
17. turned back . . . ashamed--disappointed in their trust; the same phrase occurs in Ps 35:4.
18. deaf--namely, to the voice of God.
blind--to your duty and interest; wilfully so (Isa 42:20). In this they differ from "the blind" (Isa 42:16). The Jews are referred to. He had said, God would destroy the heathen idolatry; here he remembers that even Israel, His "servant" (Isa 42:19), from whom better things might have been expected, is tainted with this sin.
19. my servant--namely, Israel. Who of the heathen is so blind?
Considering Israel's high privileges, the heathen's blindness was as
nothing compared with that of Israelite idolaters.
my messenger . . . sent--Israel was designed by God to be the herald of His truth to other nations.
perfect--furnished with institutions, civil and religious, suited to their perfect well-being. Compare the title, "Jeshurun," the perfect one, applied to Israel (compare Isa 44:2), as the type of Messiah [VITRINGA]. Or translate, the friend of God, which Israel was by virtue of descent from Abraham, who was so called (Isa 41:8), [GESENIUS]. The language, "my servant" (compare Isa 42:1), "messenger" (Mal 3:1), "perfect" (Ro 10:4; Heb 2:10; 1Pe 2:22), can, in the full antitypical sense, only apply to Christ. So Isa 42:21 plainly refers to Him. "Blind" and "deaf" in His case refer to His endurance of suffering and reproach, as though He neither saw nor heard (Ps 38:13, 14). Thus there is a transition by contrast from the moral blindness of Israel (Isa 42:18) to the patient blindness and deafness of Messiah [HORSLEY].
20. observest--Thou dost not keep them. The "many things" are
the many proofs which all along from the first God had given Israel of
His goodness and His power
(De 4:32-38; 29:2-4;
Ps 78:1-72; 105:1-45).
he--transition from the second to the third person. "Opening . . . ears," that is, though he (Israel) hath his ears open (see on Isa 6:10). This language, too (see on Isa 42:19), applies to Messiah as Jehovah's servant (Isa 50:5; Ps 40:6).
21. his righteousness--not His people's, but His own; Isa 42:24 shows that they had no righteousness (Isa 45:24; 59:16). God is well pleased with His Son ("in whom My soul delighteth," Isa 42:1), "who fulfils all righteousness" (Mt 3:15) for them, and with them for His sake (compare Isa 42:6; Ps 71:16, 19; Mt 5:17; Ro 10:3, 4; Php 3:9). Perhaps in God's "righteousness" here is included His faithfulness to His promises given to Israel's forefathers [ROSENMULLER]; because of this He is well pleased with Israel, even though displeased with their sin, which He here reproves; but that promise could only be based on the righteousness of Messiah, the promised seed, which is God's righteousness.
22. holes--caught by their foes in the caverns where they
had sought refuge [BARNES]. Or bound in
subterranean dungeons [MAURER].
prison-houses--either literal prisons, or their own houses, whence they dare not go forth for fear of the enemy. The connection is: Notwithstanding God's favor to His people for His righteousness' sake (Isa 42:21), they have fallen into misery (the Babylonish and Romish captivities and their present dispersion), owing to their disregard of the divine law: spiritual imprisonment is included (Isa 42:7).
none saith, Restore--There is no deliverer (Isa 63:5).
23. A call that they should be warned by the past judgments of God to obey Him for the time to come.
24. Who--Their calamity was not the work of chance, but
God's immediate act for their sins.
Jacob . . . Israel . . . we--change from the third to the first person; Isaiah first speaking to them as a prophet, distinct from them; then identifying himself with them, and acknowledging His share in the nation's sins (compare Jos 5:1).
strength of battle--violence of war.
it--the battle or war (compare Isa 10:16).
knew not--knew not the lesson of repentance which the judgment was intended to teach (Isa 5:13; 9:13; Jer 5:3).
Isa 43:1-28. A SUCCESSION OF ARGUMENTS WHEREIN ISRAEL MAY BE ASSURED THAT, NOTWITHSTANDING THEIR PERVERSITY TOWARDS GOD (Isa 42:25), HE WILL DELIVER AND RESTORE THEM.
1. But now--notwithstanding God's past just judgments for Israel's
created--not only in the general sense, but specially created as a peculiar people unto Himself (Isa 43:7, 15, 21; Isa 44:2, 21, 24). So believers, "created in Christ Jesus" (Eph 2:10), "a peculiar people" (1Pe 2:9).
redeemed--a second argument why they should trust Him besides creation. The Hebrew means to ransom by a price paid in lieu of the captives (compare Isa 43:3). Babylon was to be the ransom in this case, that is, was to be destroyed, in order that they might be delivered; so Christ became a curse, doomed to death, that we might be redeemed.
called . . . by . . . name--not merely "called" in general, as in Isa 42:6; 48:12; 51:2, but designated as His own peculiar people (compare Isa 45:3, 4; Ex 32:1; 33:12; Joh 10:3).
2. rivers . . . not overflow thee--so in passing Jordan, though at its
"overflow," when its "swellings" were especially dangerous
waters . . . fire--a proverbial phrase for the extremest perils (Ps 66:12; also Ps 138:7). Literally fulfilled at the Red Sea (Ex 14:21, 22), and in the case of the three youths cast into the fiery furnace for conscience' sake (Da 3:25, 27).
3. Egypt for thy ransom--Either Egypt or Israel must perish; God chose that Egypt, though so much more mighty, should be destroyed, in order that His people might be delivered; thus Egypt stood, instead of Israel, as a kind of "ransom." The Hebrew, kopher, means properly "that with which anything is overlaid," as the pitch with which the ark was overlaid; hence that which covers over sins, an atonement. Nebuchadnezzar had subdued Egypt, Ethiopia (Hebrew, Cush), and Saba (descended from Cush, Ge 10:7, probably Meroe of Ethiopia, a great island formed by the Astaboras and the Nile, conquered by Cambyses, successor of Cyrus). Cyrus received these from God with the rest of the Babylonian dominions, in consideration of his being about to deliver Israel. However, the reference may be to the three years' war in which Sargon overcame these countries, and so had his attention diverted from Israel (see on Isa 20:1) [VITRINGA]. But the reference is probably more general, namely, to all the instances in which Jehovah sacrificed mighty heathen nations, when the safety of Israel required it.
4. Since--All along from the beginning; for there was never a time
when Israel was not Jehovah's people. The apodosis should be at, "I
will give." "Since ever thou wast precious in My sight, honorable, and
that I loved thee, I will give," &c. [MAURER].
English Version, takes "Since" to mean, "Inasmuch as." If the
apodosis be as in English Version, "Since thou wast precious" will
refer to the time when God called His people out of Egypt, manifesting
then first the love which He had from everlasting towards them
"honorable" and "loved," refer to outward marks of honor and
love from God.
men . . . people--other nations for thee (so Isa 43:3).
thy life--thy person.
seed--descendants scattered in all lands. VITRINGA understands it of the spiritual "seed" of the Church produced by mystical regeneration: for the expression is, "bring," not "bring back." This sense is perhaps included, but not to the exclusion of the literal Israel's restoration (Jer 30:10, 11; Am 9:9; Zec 2:6-13).
6. Give up--namely, My people.
sons . . . daughters--The feminine joined to the masculine expresses the complete totality of anything (Zec 9:17).
7. called by my name--belong to Israel, whose people, as sons of
God, bear the name of their Father
(Isa 44:5; 48:1).
for my glory-- (Isa 43:21; Isa 29:23).
8. Solemn challenge given by God to the nations to argue with Him the
question of His superiority to their idols, and His power to deliver
blind people--the Gentiles, who also, like Israel (Isa 42:19), are blind (spiritually), though having eyes; that is, natural faculties, whereby they might know God (Ro 1:20, 21) [LOWTH]. Or else, the Jews [VITRINGA].
9. who . . . can declare this--who among the idolatrous soothsayers
hath predicted this; that is, as to Cyrus being the deliverer of
former--predictions, as in Isa 42:9 [MAURER]. Or, things that shall first come to pass (see on Isa 41:21, 22) [BARNES].
let them bring forth their witnesses--as I do mine (Isa 43:10).
justified--declared veracious in their pretended prophecies.
or--rather, "and"; let men hear their prediction and say, from the event, It is verified (see on Isa 41:26).
10. Ye--the Jews, to whom I have given predictions, verified by the
event; and in delivering whom I have so often manifested My power (see
Isa 43:3, 4;
and my servant--that is, the whole Jewish people (Isa 41:8).
formed--before I existed none of the false gods were formed. "Formed" applies to the idols, not to God. Re 1:11 uses the same language to prove the Godhead of Jesus, as Isaiah here to prove the Godhead of Jehovah.
saviour--temporally, from Babylon: eternally, from sin and hell (Ho 13:4; Ac 4:12). The same titles as are applied to God are applied to Jesus.
12. declared--predicted the future
(Isa 41:22, 23).
saved--the nation, in past times of danger.
showed--namely, that I was God.
when . . . no strange god, &c.--to whom the predictions uttered by Me could be assigned. "Strange" means foreign, introduced from abroad.
13. before--literally, from the time of the first existence of day.
let--Old English for "hinder" (Isa 14:27). Rather, translate, "undo it" [HORSLEY].
14. sent--namely, the Medes and Persians
(Isa 10:5, 6; 13:3).
brought down--"made to go down" to the sea (Isa 42:10), in order to escape the impending destruction of Babylon.
nobles--rather, "fugitives," namely, the foreigners who sojourned in populous Babylon (Isa 13:14), distinct from the Chaldeans [MAURER].
whose cry is in the ships--exulting in their ships with the joyous sailors--cry, boastingly; their joy heretofore in their ships contrasts sadly with their present panic in fleeing to them (Isa 22:2; Zep 2:15). Babylon was on the Euphrates, which was joined to the Tigris by a canal, and flowed into the Persian Gulf. Thus it was famed for ships and commerce until the Persian monarchs, to prevent revolt or invasion, obstructed navigation by dams across the Tigris and Euphrates.
15. creator of Israel--
your--proved to be specially yours by delivering you.
16, 17. Allusion to the deliverance of Israel and overthrow of Pharaoh in the Red Sea, the standing illustration of God's unchanging character towards His people (Ex 14:21, 22, 27, 28).
17. the power--the might of the enemies host, every mighty warrior.
they shall lie down together--as Pharaoh's army sank "together" in a watery grave.
18. So wonderful shall be God's future interpositions in your behalf, that all past ones shall be forgotten in comparison. Plainly the future restoration of Israel is the event ultimately meant. Thus the "former things" are such events as the destruction of Sennacherib and the return from Babylon. "Things of old" are events still more ancient, the deliverance from Egypt and at the Red Sea, and entry into Canaan [VITRINGA].
19. new--unprecedented in its wonderful character
spring forth--as a germinating herb: a beautiful image of the silent but certain gradual growth of events in God's providence (Mr 4:26-28).
way in . . . wilderness--just as Israel in the wilderness, between the Red Sea and Canaan, was guided, and supplied with water by Jehovah; but the "new" deliverance shall be attended with manifestations of God's power and love, eclipsing the old (compare Isa 41:17-19). "I will open a way, not merely in the Red Sea, but in the wilderness of the whole world; and not merely one river shall gush out of the rock, but many, which shall refresh, not the bodies as formerly, but the souls of the thirsty, so that the prophecy shall be fulfilled: 'With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation'" [JEROME]. "A way" often stands for the true religion (Ac 9:2; 18:26). "Rivers" express the influences of the Holy Spirit (Joh 7:37-39). Israel's literal restoration hereafter is included, as appears by comparing Isa 11:15, 16.
20. beast--image of idolaters, defiled with blood and pollutions,
dwelling like dragons, &c., in the wastes of Gentile ignorance: even
they shall be converted. Or else, literally, such copious floods of
water shall be given by God in the desert, that the very beasts shall
(in poetic language) praise the Lord
dragons--"serpents," or else jackals (see on Isa 13:22).
21. This people--namely, The same as "My people, My chosen" (see
Isa 43:1, 7;
my praise--on account of the many and great benefits conferred on them, especially their restoration.
22. But--Israel, however, is not to think that these divine favors
are due to their own piety towards God. So the believer
weary of me-- (Am 8:5, 6; Mal 1:13), though "I have not wearied thee" (Isa 43:23), yet "thou hast been weary of Me."
23. small cattle--rather, the "lamb" or "kid," required by the law
to be daily offered to God
sacrifices--offered any way; whereas the Hebrew for "holocaust," or "burnt offering," denotes that which ascends as an offering consumed by fire.
I have not caused thee to serve--that is, to render the the service of a slave (Mt 11:30; Ro 8:15; 1Jo 4:18; 5:3).
offering--bloodless (Le 2:1, 2).
wearied--antithetical to Isa 43:22, "Thou hast been weary of Me." Though God in the law required such offerings, yet not so as to "weary" the worshipper, or to exact them in cases where, as in the Babylonish captivity, they were physically unable to render them; God did not require them, save in subordination to the higher moral duties (Ps 50:8-14; 51:16, 17; Mic 6:3, 6-8).
24. bought--for "sweet cane" (aromatic calamus) was not indigenous
to Palestine, but had to be bought from foreign countries
It was used among the Hebrews to make the sacred ointment
It is often offered as a mark of hospitality.
filled--satiated (Jer 31:14). God deigns to use human language to adapt Himself to human modes of thought.
made me to serve--though "I have not caused thee to serve" (Isa 43:23). Our sin made the Son of God to become "a servant." He served to save us from servile bondage (Php 2:7; Heb 2:14, 15).
wearied me--Though I have "not wearied thee" (Isa 43:23; see Isa 1:14).
25. I, even I--the God against whom your sin is committed, and who
alone can and will pardon.
for mine own sake-- (Isa 48:9, 11). How abominable a thing sin is, since it is against such a God of grace! "Blotted out" is an image from an account-book, in which, when a debt is paid, the charge is cancelled or blotted out.
not remember . . . sins-- (Jer 31:34). When God forgives, He forgets; that is, treats the sinner as if He had forgotten his sins.
26. Put me in remembrance--Remind Me of every plea which thou hast to urge before Me in thy defense. Image from a trial (Isa 1:18; 41:1). Our strongest plea is to remind God of His own promises. So Jacob did at Mahanaim and Peniel (Ge 32:9, 12). God, then, instead of "pleading against us with His great power," "will put His strength" in us (Job 23:6); we thus become "the Lord's remembrancers" (Isa 62:6, Margin). "Declare God's righteousness" vindicated in Jesus Christ "that thou mayest be justified" (Ro 3:26; compare Isa 20:1-6, and Ps 143:2).
27. first father--collectively for "most ancient
ancestors," as the parallelism ("teachers") proves [MAURER]. Or, thy chief religious ministers or
priests [GESENIUS]. Adam, the common
father of all nations, can hardly be meant here, as it would have been
irrelevant to mention his sin in an address to the Jews
specially. Abraham is equally out of place here, as he is
everywhere cited as an example of faithfulness, not of "sin." However,
taking the passage in its ultimate application to the Church at large,
Adam may be meant.
teachers--literally, "interpreters" between God and man, the priests (Job 33:23; Mal 2:7).
28. profaned the princes--
La 2:2, 6, 7).
I have esteemed, or treated, them as persons not sacred. I have left
them to suffer the same treatment as the common people, stripped of
their holy office and in captivity.
princes of the sanctuary--"governors of" it (1Ch 24:5); directing its holy services; priests.
curse--Hebrew, cherim, a "solemn anathema," or "excommunication."
reproaches-- (Ps 123:3, 4).
Isa 44:1-28. CONTINUATION OF THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER.
1-5. Yet--Though thou hast sinned, yet hear God's gracious promise as
to thy deliverance.
chosen-- (Isa 41:8).
(Isa 43:1, 7).
formed . . . from . . . womb--(So Isa 44:24; Isa 49:1, 5). The sense is similar to that in Isa 1:2, "I have nourished and brought up children."
Jesurun--A diminutive term of endearment applied to Israel. The full title of affection was Israelun; contracted it became Jeshurun, with an allusion to the Hebrew root, jashar, "upright," "perfect" (see on Isa 42:19, note on "He that is perfect") [GESENIUS], (De 32:15).
him . . . thirsty--rather, "the land" (Isa 35:6, 7), figuratively for man thirsting after righteousness (Mt 5:6).
floods--the abundant influences of the Holy Spirit, stronger than "water."
spirit--including all spiritual and temporal gifts, as the parallel, "blessing," proves (Isa 11:2; 32:15).
seed-- (Isa 59:21).
4. they--thy "seed" and "offspring"
as among--needlessly inserted in English Version. Rather, "The seed shall spring up as willows among the grass beside canals of water" [HORSLEY]. Or, "They shall spring up among the grass (that is, luxuriantly; for what grows in the midst of grass grows luxuriantly) as willows by the water-courses," which makes the parallel clauses better balanced [MAURER].
5. The third clause answers in parallelism to the first, the fourth
to the second.
I am the Lord's-- (Jer 50:5; 1Co 6:19, 20; 2Co 8:5).
call himself by the name of Jacob--The Gentiles (as the result of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Israel, the Lord's "seed," first) shall join themselves to the children of Jacob, in order to worship their God (compare Isa 43:7; Ps 49:11). Or, "calls," that is, invokes and celebrates the name of Jacob, attaches himself to his nation and religion [MAURER], (Ps 24:6).
subscribe . . . hand unto . . . Lord--in solemn and public covenant, pledging himself to God's service (compare Ne 9:38), before "witnesses" (Heb 12:1), after the manner of a civil contract (Jer 32:10, 12, 44). So the Christian in the sacraments [BARNES]. Literally, "shall fill his hand with letters (Ex 32:15; Eze 2:10) in honor of Jehovah"; or "shall write upon his hand, I am Jehovah's" (compare Isa 49:16; Re 13:16); alluding to the puncture with ink on the hand, whereby a soldier marked himself as bound to his commander; and whereby the Christians used to mark themselves with the name of Christ [LOWTH]. The former view is simpler.
surname himself . . . Israel--MAURER and GESENIUS interpret this as the Hebrew sanctions, answering to their rendering of the parallel second clause, "calls blandly (speaks in honorable terms of) the name of Israel." Retaining English Version, we must, from the Hebrew understand it thus, "Surname himself by the honorable name of Israel" (Isa 45:4).
6. Here follows an argument for Jehovah, as the only God, and against the idols, as vanity (see on Isa 41:4; Isa 43:1; Isa 43:10-12).
7. Who but God can predict future events and declare also the
order and time of each (see on
Isa 41:22, 23;
call--"openly proclaim" (Isa 40:6) things to come [MAURER]. Or, "call forth" the event; command that it happen (Isa 46:11; 48:15), [BARNES].
set . . . in order--There is no chance or confusion; all events occur in the order best fitted to subserve God's plans.
for me--It is FOR GOD that all things exist and take place (Re 4:11). But MAURER translates, "Let him set it forth (Job 37:19) to me."
since . . . ancient people--I have given the Jews predictions of the future ever since I appointed them as My people in ancient times; therefore they were qualified to be His witnesses (Isa 44:8). As to their being God's "ancient (everlasting) people," see De 32:7-9; Jer 31:3; the type of the redeemed Church (Eph 1:4).
8. be afraid--literally, "be astounded," or "distracted with fear."
from that time--namely, from the time that "I appointed the ancient people" (Isa 44:7). From the time of Abraham's call, his family were the depositories of the predictions of the Redeemer, whereas the promise of Cyrus was not heard of till Isaiah's time; therefore, the event to the prediction and accomplishment of which God appeals in proof of His sole Godhead, is the redemption of man by a descendant of Abraham, in whose person "the ancient people" was first formally "appointed." The deliverance of the Jews, by Cyrus, is mentioned afterwards only as an earnest of that greater mercy [HORSLEY].
no God--Hebrew, tsur, "rock" (De 32:4); that is, a stronghold to take refuge in, and a solid foundation to build on.
(Isa 40:18, 20; 41:29).
delectable things--the idols in which they take such pride and delight.
not profit-- (Hab 2:18).
they are their own witnesses--contrasted with, "Ye are My witnesses" (Isa 44:8). "They," that is, both the makers and the idols, are witnesses against themselves, for the idols palpably see and know nothing (Ps 115:4-8).
that they may be ashamed--the consequence deducible from the whole previous argument, not merely from the words immediately preceding, as in Isa 28:13; 36:12. I say all this to show that they are doomed to perish with shame, which is their only fitting end.
10. Who . . . ?--Sarcastic question: "How debased the man must be who forms a god!" It is a contradiction in terms. A made god, worshipped by its maker (1Co 8:4)!
11. his fellows--the associates of him who makes an idol; or of the
they are of men--They are mortal men themselves; what better, then, can the idol be than its maker?
gathered together . . . stand up--as in a court of justice, to try the issue between God and them (see on Isa 41:1; Isa 41:21).
yet--wrongly inserted in English Version. The issue of the trial shall be, "they shall fear," &c.
12. tongs--rather, "prepareth (to be supplied) an axe," namely,
with which to cut down the tree designed as the material of the idol.
The "smith" (Hebrew, "workman in iron") here answers to the
"carpenter" (Hebrew, "workman in wood"). "He worketh it (the axe, not the idol, which was wood, not metal) in the coals," &c. The axe was
wrought, not cast. The smith makes the axe for the carpenter.
hungry . . . drinketh no water--so eager is he to expedite his work while the iron is hot. If the god were worth anything, it would not let him grow "faint" with hunger and thirst. WILLIAMS, the missionary, states that the South Sea islanders when they make an idol abstain from food and drink.
13. After the smith's work in preparing the instruments comes the
carpenter's work in forming the idol.
rule--rather, "line" [BARNES].
with a line--rather, a "pencil," [HORSLEY]. Literally, "red ochre," which he uses to mark on the wood the outline of the figure [LOWTH]. Or best, the stylus or graver, with which the incision of the outline is made [GESENIUS].
planes--rather, "chisels" or "carving tools," for a plane would not answer for carving.
compass--from a Hebrew root, "to make a circle"; by it, symmetry of form is secured.
according to . . . beauty of a man--irony. The highest idea the heathen could form of a god was one of a form like their own. JEROME says, "The more handsome the statue the more august the god was thought." The incarnation of the Son of God condescends to this anthropomorphic feeling so natural to man, but in such a way as to raise man's thoughts up to the infinite God who "is a spirit."
that it may remain in . . . house--the only thing it was good for; it could not hear nor save (compare Wisdom 13:15).
14. Description of the material out of which the idol is formed.
cypress--rather, from Hebrew root, "to be hard," the holm oak," an evergreen abundant in Palestine [GESENIUS].
strengtheneth--literally, "and he getteth strength to himself in the trees of the forest;" that is, he layeth in a great store of timber [LOWTH]. Or, "chooseth," as "madest strong for thyself," that is, hast chosen (Ps 80:15, 17) [GESENIUS]. But English Version gives a good sense: "strengtheneth"; that is, rears to maturity; a meaning suitable also to the context of Ps 80:15, 17, where Israel is compared to a vine planted by Jehovah [MAURER].
rain doth nourish it--Though the man planted the tree, yet he could not make it grow. In preparing to make an idol, he has to depend on the true God for rain from heaven (Jer 14:22).
15. The same tree that furnishes the material for the god is in part
used as fuel for a fire to cook his meals and warm himself!
thereto--rather, "he falleth down before them," that is, such images [MAURER].
16. part . . . part--not distinct parts, but the same part of the
eateth--that is, cooks so as to eat (Isa 44:19).
I have seen--I feel its power.
18. he, &c.--God hath given them over to judicial blindness; not His direct physical, but His providential agency in administering His moral government, is meant (Isa 6:9, 10). "Shut," literally, "daubed," plastered up; it is an Eastern custom in some cases to seal up the eyes of offenders.
19. considereth--literally, "layeth it to heart,"
abomination--the scriptural term for an idol, not merely abominable, but the essence of what is so, in the eyes of a jealous God (1Ki 11:5, 7).
20. feedeth on ashes--figuratively, for the idolater delights in what
"Feedeth on wind." There is an allusion, perhaps, also, to the god
being made of a tree, the half of which was reduced to ashes by
the idol, it is implied, was no better, and could, and ought, to have
been reduced to ashes like the other half.
deceived heart--The heart and will first go astray, then the intellect and life (Ro 1:28; Eph 4:18).
lie in . . . right hand--Is not my handiwork (the idol) a self-deceit?
21. Remember--"Be not like the idolaters who consider not in their
these--things just said as to the folly of idol-worship.
my servant--not like the idolaters, slaves to the stock of a tree (Isa 44:19). See Isa 44:1, 2.
thou . . . not . . . forgotten of me--Therefore thou oughtest to "remember" Me.
22. blotted out--the debt of thy sin from the
account-book in which it was entered
(Ex 32:32, 33;
as a thick cloud--scattered away by the wind (Ps 103:12).
as a cloud--a descending gradation. Not only the "thick cloud" of the heavier "transgressions," but the "cloud" ("vapor" [LOWTH], not so dense, but covering the sky as a mist) of the countless "sins." These latter, though not thought much of by man, need, as much as the former, to be cleared away by the Sun of righteousness; else they will be a mist separating us from heaven (Ps 19:12, 13; 1Jo 1:7-9).
return . . . for--The antecedent redemption is the ground of, and motive to, repentance. We do not repent in order that He may redeem us, but because He hath redeemed us (Zec 12:10; Lu 24:47; Ac 3:18,19). He who believes in his being forgiven cannot but love (Lu 7:43, 47).
23. Call to inanimate nature to praise God; for it also shall share in
the coming deliverance from "the bondage of corruption"
(Ro 8:20, 21).
done it--effected redemption for both the literal and spiritual Israel.
lower parts, &c.--antithetical to "heavens"; "mountains," "forest," and "tree," are the intermediate objects in a descending gradation (see Ps 96:11, 12).
24-28. Confirmation of His promises to the Church and Israel, by
various instances of His omnipotence; among these the restoration of the
Jews by Cyrus.
alone--literally, "Who was with Me?" namely, when I did it; answering to "by Myself," in the parallel clause (compare similar phrases, Ho 8:4; Joh 5:30) [MAURER].
25. tokens--prognostics; the pretended miracles which they gave as
proofs of their supernatural powers.
liars-- (Jer 50:36). Conjurers; or, astrologers; men leading a retired contemplative life in order to study divination by the signs of the stars [VITRINGA].
backward--with shame at their predictions not being verified. "To turn away the face" is to frustrate defeat (Isa 36:9; 1Ki 2:15). The "wise men" are the diviners who, when Babylon was attacked by Cyrus, predicted his overthrow.
26. servant--in a collective sense, for the prophets in general,
who foretold the return from Babylon; answering to "His messengers"
(plural, in the parallel clause)
[MAURER]. Antitypically, and
ultimately, Messiah, who is the consummating embodiment of all the
prophets and messengers of God
Mt 21:34, 36, 37;
hence the singular, "His servant."
counsel--predictions; prophets' counsels concern the future (compare "counsellor," Isa 41:28).
Jerusalem--regarded prophetically, as lying in ruins.
27. Referring to the Euphrates, which was turned into a different channel, close to Babylon, by Cyrus, who thereby took the city. "The deep" is applied to Euphrates as "sea" (Jer 51:32, 36). "Rivers" refers to the artificial canals from the Euphrates made to irrigate the country; when it was turned off into a different bed (namely, a lake, forty miles square, which was originally formed to receive the superfluous water in an inundation), the canals became dry.
28. my shepherd--type of Messiah
Ps 23:1; 77:20;
all my pleasure--so Messiah (Isa 42:1; 53:10). This is the first time Cyrus is named expressly; and that, a hundred fifty years before the time when in 550 B.C. he began his reign. The name comes from the Persian khorschid, "the sun"; kings often taking their names from the gods; the sun was worshipped as a god in Persia.
saying--rather, "and that saith"; construed with God, not with Cyrus. God's word is instantaneously efficient in accomplishing His will.
to . . . to--or, "of Jerusalem . . . of the temple," as previously, the same Hebrew word is translated, "of Cyrus" [BARNES]. English Version is more graphic. Cyrus, according to JOSEPHUS, heard of this prophecy of Isaiah delivered so long before; hence he was induced to do that which was so contrary to Oriental policy, to aid in restoring the captive Jews and rebuilding their temple and city.
Isa 45:1-25. THE SUBJECT OF THE DELIVERANCE BY CYRUS IS FOLLOWED UP.
Isa 45:1-7. These seven verses should have been appended to previous chapter, and the new chapter should begin with Isa 45:8, "Drop down," &c. [HORSLEY]. Reference to the deliverance by Messiah often breaks out from amidst the local and temporary details of the deliverance from Babylon, as the great ultimate end of the prophecy.
1. his anointed--Cyrus is so called as being set apart as king, by God's providence, to fulfil His special purpose. Though kings were
not anointed in Persia, the expression is applied to him in
reference to the Jewish custom of setting apart kings to the regal
office by anointing.
right hand . . . holden--image from sustaining a feeble person by holding his right hand (Isa 42:6).
subdue nations--namely, the Cilicians, Syrians, Babylonians, Lydians, Bactrians, &c.; his empire extended from Egypt and the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean, and from Ethiopia to the Euxine Sea.
loose . . . girdle loins--that is, the girdle off the loins; and so enfeeble them. The loose outer robe of the Orientals, when girt fast round the loins, was the emblem of strength and preparedness for action; ungirt, was indicative of feebleness (Job 38:3; 12:21); "weakeneth the strength of the mighty" (Margin), "looseth the girdle of the strong." The joints of (Belshazzar's) loins, we read in Da 5:6, were loosed during the siege by Cyrus, at the sight of the mysterious handwriting on the palace walls. His being taken by surprise, unaccoutred, is here foretold.
to open . . . gates--In the revelry in Babylon on the night of its capture, the inner gates, leading from the streets to the river, were left open; for there were walls along each side of the Euphrates with gates, which, had they been kept shut, would have hemmed the invading hosts in the bed of the river, where the Babylonians could have easily destroyed them. Also, the gates of the palace were left open, so that there was access to every part of the city; and such was its extent, that they who lived in the extremities were taken prisoners before the alarm reached the center of the palace. [HERODOTUS, 1.191].
2. crooked . . . straight--
rather, "maketh mountains plain" [LOWTH], that is,
clear out of thy way all opposing persons and things. The Keri
reads as in
"make straight" (Margin).
gates of brass-- (Ps 107:16). HERODOTUS (1.179) says, Babylon had a hundred massive gates, twenty-five on each of the four sides of the city, all, as well as their posts, of brass.
bars of iron--with which the gates were fastened.
3. treasures of darkness--that is, hidden in subterranean places; a
common Oriental practice. Sorcerers pretended to be able to show where
such treasures were to be found; in opposition to their pretensions, God
says, He will really give hidden treasures to Cyrus
(Jer 50:37; 51:13).
PLINY (Natural History,, 33:3) says that
Cyrus obtained from the conquest of Asia thirty-four thousand pounds
weight of gold, besides golden vases, and five hundred thousand talents
of silver, and the goblet of Semiramis, weighing fifteen talents.
that thou mayest know--namely, not merely that He was "the God of Israel," but that He was Jehovah, the true God. Ezr 1:1, 2 shows that the correspondence of the event with the prediction had the desired effect on Cyrus.
which call . . . thy name--so long before designate thee by name (Isa 43:1).
4. (See on
surnamed--that is, designated to carry out My design of restoring Judah (see on Isa 44:5; Isa 44:28; Isa 45:1). MAURER here, as in Isa 44:5, translates, "I have addressed thee by an honorable name."
hast not known me--previous to My calling thee to this office; after God's call, Cyrus did know Him in some degree (Ezr 1:1-3).
(Isa 42:8; 43:3, 11; 44:8; 46:9).
girded thee--whereas "I will loose (the girdle off) the loins of kings" (Isa 45:1), strengthening thee, but enfeebling them before thee.
though . . . not known me-- (Isa 45:4). God knows His elect before they are made to know Him (Ga 4:9; Joh 15:16).
6. From the rising to the setting of the sun, that is, from east to west, the whole habitable world. It is not said, "from north to south," for that would not imply the habitable world, as, "from east to west" does (Ezr 1:1, &c.). The conquest of Jerusalem by Babylon, the capital of the world, and the overthrow of Babylon and restoration of the Jews by Cyrus, who expressly acknowledged himself to be but the instrument in God's hands, were admirably suited to secure, throughout the world, the acknowledgment of Jehovah as the only true God.
7. form . . . create--yatzar, to give "form" to previously
existing matter. Bara, to "create" from nothing the chaotic dark
light . . . darkness--literally (Ge 1:1-3), emblematical also, prosperity to Cyrus, calamity to Babylon and the nations to be vanquished [GROTIUS] . . . Isaiah refers also to the Oriental belief in two coexistent, eternal principles, ever struggling with each other, light or good, and darkness or evil, Oromasden and Ahrimanen. God, here, in opposition, asserts His sovereignty over both [VITRINGA].
create evil--not moral evil (Jas 1:13), but in contrast to "peace" in the parallel clause, war, disaster (compare Ps 65:7; Am 3:6).
8. Drop--namely, the fertilizing rain
skies--clouds; lower than the "heavens."
righteousness--that is, the dews of the Holy Spirit, whereby "righteousness" shall "spring up." (See latter end of the verse).
earth--figuratively for the hearts of men on it, opened for receiving the truth by the Holy Ghost (Ac 16:14).
them--the earth and the heavens. HORSLEY prefers: "Let the earth open, and let salvation and justice grow forth; let it bring them forth together; I the Lord have created him" (Isa 45:13). MAURER translates, "Let all kinds of salvation (prosperity) be fruitful" (Ps 72:3, 6, 7). The revival of religion after the return from Babylon suggests to the prophet the diffusion of Messiah's Gospel, especially in days still future; hence the elevation of the language to a pitch above what is applicable to the state of religion after the return.
9. Anticipating the objections which the Jews might raise as to why
God permitted their captivity, and when He did restore them, why He did
so by a foreign prince, Cyrus, not a Jew
&c.), but mainly and ultimately, the objections about to be raised by
the Jews against God's sovereign act in adopting the whole Gentile
world as His spiritual Israel
referring to this catholic diffusion of the Gospel), as if it
were an infringement of their nation's privileges; so Paul expressly
(Ro 9:4-8, 11-21).
Let . . . strive--Not in the Hebrew; rather, in apposition with "him," "A potsherd among the potsherds of the earth!" A creature fragile and worthless as the fragment of an earthen vessel, among others equally so, and yet presuming to strive with his Maker! English Version implies, it is appropriate for man to strive with man, in opposition to 2Ti 2:24 [GESENIUS].
thy . . . He--shall thy work say of thee, He . . . ?
10. If it be wrong for a child, born in less favorable circumstances, to upbraid his parents with having given him birth, a fortiori, it is, to upbraid God for His dealings with us. Rather translate, "a father . . . a woman." The Jews considered themselves exclusively God's children and were angry that God should adopt the Gentiles besides. Woe to him who says to one already a father, Why dost thou beget other children? [HORSLEY].
11. Ask . . . command--Instead of striving with Me in regard to My
purposes, your wisdom is in prayer to ask, and even command Me,
in so far as it is for My glory, and for your real good
Joh 16:23, 13,
latter part of the verse;
sons-- (Isa 54:13; Ga 3:26).
work of my hands--spiritually (Eph 2:10); also literal Israel (Isa 60:21). MAURER translates, instead of "command," Leave it to Me, in My dealings concerning My sons and concerning the work of My hands, to do what I will with My own. LOWTH reads it interrogatively, Do ye presume to question Me and dictate to Me (see Isa 45:9, 10)? The same sense is given, if the words be taken in irony. But English Version is best.
12. The same argument for prayer, drawn from God's omnipotence and
consequent power, to grant any request, occurs in
I, even my hands--so Hebrew (Ps 41:2), "Thou . . . thy hand" (both nominatives, in apposition).
13. him--Cyrus, type of Messiah, who redeems the captives of Satan
"without money and without price"
(Isa 52:3; 61:1;
in righteousness--to fulfil My righteous purpose (see on Isa 41:2; Isa 42:6; Jer 23:6).
14. The language but cursorily alludes to Egypt, Ethiopia, and Seba,
being given to Cyrus as a ransom in lieu of Israel whom he restored
but mainly and fully describes the gathering in of the Gentiles to
(Ac 2:10, 11; 8:27-38),
especially at Israel's future restoration
14:1, 2; 19:18-22; 60:3-14; 49:23;
Ps 68:31; 72:10, 11).
labour--wealth acquired by labor (Jer 3:24).
Sabeans . . . of stature--the men of Meroe, in Upper Egypt. HERODOTUS (3.30) calls the Ethiopians "the tallest of men" (see on Isa 18:2; 1Ch 11:23).
thee--Jerusalem ("my city," Isa 45:13).
in chains-- (Ps 149:8). "The saints shall judge the world" (1Co 6:2) and "rule the nations with a rod of iron" (Zec 14:12-19; Re 2:26, 27). The "chains," in the case of the obedient, shall be the easy yoke of Messiah; as "the sword of the Spirit" also is saving to the believer, condemnatory to the unbeliever (Joh 12:48; Heb 4:12; Re 19:15).
God is in thee-- (Jer 3:19).
15. God that hidest thyself--HORSLEY, after JEROME, explains this as the confession of Egypt, &c., that God is concealed in human form in the person of Jesus. Rather, connected with Isa 45:9, 10, the prophet, contemplating the wonderful issue of the seemingly dark counsels of God, implies a censure on those who presume to question God's dealings (Isa 55:8, 9; De 29:29). Faith still discerns, even under the veil, the covenant-keeping "God of Israel, the Saviour" (Isa 8:17).
16. ashamed--"disappointed" in their expectation of help from their idols (see on Isa 42:17; Psalm 97. 7).
17. in the Lord--
(Isa 45:24, 25),
contrasted with the idols which cannot give even temporary help
in Jehovah there is everlasting salvation
not . . . ashamed--opposed to the doom of the idolaters, who, in the hour of need, shall be "ashamed" (see on Isa 45:16).
18. (See on
not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited--Therefore, Judah, lying waste during the Babylonish captivity, shall be peopled again by the exiles. The Jews, from this passage, infer that, after the resurrection, the earth shall be inhabited, for there can be no reason why the earth should then exist in vain any more than now (2Pe 3:13).
19. not . . . secret--not like the heathen oracles which gave their
responses from dark caverns, with studied obscurity
Christ plainly quotes these words, thereby identifying Himself with
I said not . . . Seek . . . in vain--When I commanded you to seek Me (Jehovah did so, Isa 45:11, "Ask Me," &c.), it was not in order that ye might be sent empty away (De 32:47). Especially in Israel's time of trial, God's interposition, in behalf of Zion hereafter, is expressly stated as about to be the answer to prayer (Isa 62:6, 7-10; Ps 102:13-17, 19-21). So in the case of all believers, the spiritual Israel.
righteousness--that which is veracious: not in the equivocal terms of heathen responses, fitly symbolized by the "dark places" from which they were uttered.
right--true (see on Isa 41:26).
20. escaped of the nations--those of the nations who shall have escaped the slaughter inflicted by Cyrus. Now, at last, ye shall see the folly of "praying to a god that cannot save" (Isa 45:16). Ultimately, those that shall be "left of all the nations which shall come against Jerusalem" are meant (Zec 14:16). They shall then all be converted to the Lord (Isa 66:23, 24; Jer 3:17; Zec 8:20-23).
21. Challenge the worshippers of idols
take counsel together--as to the best arguments wherewith to defend the cause of idolatry.
who . . . from that time-- (Isa 41:22, 23; see on Isa 44:8). Which of the idols has done what God hath, namely, foretold, primarily as to Cyrus; ultimately as to the final restoration of Israel hereafter? The idolatry of Israel before Cyrus' time will have its counterpart in the Antichrist and the apostasy, which shall precede Christ's manifestation.
just . . . and . . . Saviour--righteous in keeping His promises, and therefore a Saviour to His people. Not only is it not inconsistent with, but it is the result of, His righteousness, or justice, that He should save His redeemed (Isa 42:6, 21; Ps 85:10, 11; Ro 3:26).
22. Look . . . and be ye saved--The second imperative expresses the result which will follow obedience to the first (Ge 42:18); ye shall be saved (Joh 3:14, 15). Nu 21:9: "If a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass he lived." What so simple as a look? Not do something, but look to the Saviour (Ac 16:30, 31). Believers look by faith, the eye of the soul. The look is that of one turning (see Margin) to God, as at once "Just and the Saviour" (Isa 45:21), that is, the look of conversion (Ps 22:27).
23. sworn by myself--equivalent to, "As I live," as
quotes it. So
God could swear by no greater, therefore He swears by Himself
(Heb 6:13, 16).
word . . . in righteousness--rather, "the truth (see on Isa 45:19) is gone forth from My mouth, the word (of promise), and it shall not return (that is, which shall not be revoked)" [LOWTH]. But the accents favor English Version.
tongue . . . swear--namely, an oath of allegiance to God as their true King (see on Isa 19:18; Isa 65:16). Yet to be fulfilled (Zec 14:9).
24. Rather, "Only in Jehovah shall men say of me
(this clause is parenthetical), is there righteousness"
(which includes salvation,
"a just God and a Saviour,"
strength--namely, to save.
shall men come--Those who have set themselves up against God shall come to Him in penitence for the past (Isa 19:22).
ashamed-- (Isa 45:16; Isa 54:17; 41:11).
25. all . . . Israel--the spiritual Israel
and the literal Israel, that is, the final remnant which shall all
justified--treated as if they were just, through Christ's righteousness and death (Jer 23:5).
glory--literally, "sing" in His praise (Jer 9:24; 1Co 1:31).
Isa 46:1-13. BABYLON'S IDOLS COULD NOT SAVE THEMSELVES, MUCH LESS HER. BUT GOD CAN AND WILL SAVE ISRAEL: CYRUS IS HIS INSTRUMENT.
1. Bel--the same as the Phœnician Baal, that is, lord, the
chief god of Babylon; to it was dedicated the celebrated tower of
Babylon, in the center of one of the two parts into which the city was
divided, the palace being in the center of the other. Identical with
the sun, worshipped on turrets, housetops, and other high
places, so as to be nearer the heavenly hosts (Saba)
(Jer 19:13; 32:29;
GESENIUS identifies Bel with the planet Jupiter,
which, with the planet Venus (under the name Astarte or Astaroth), was
worshipped in the East as the god of fortune, the most propitious star
to be born under (see on
According to the Apocryphal book, Bel and the Dragon, Bel was
cast down by Cyrus.
boweth . . . stoopeth--falleth prostrate (Isa 10:4; 1Sa 5:3, 4; Ps 20:8).
Nebo--the planet Mercury or Hermes, in astrology. The scribe of heaven, answering to the Egyptian Anubis. The extensive worship of it is shown by the many proper names compounded of it: Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuzar-adan, Nabonassar, &c.
were upon--that is, were a burden (supplied from the following clause) upon. It was customary to transport the gods of the vanquished to the land of the conquerors, who thought thereby the more effectually to keep down the subject people (1Sa 5:1, &c.; Jer 48:7; 49:3; Da 11:8).
carriages--in the Old English sense of the things carried, the images borne by you: the lading (Ac 21:15), "carriages," not the vehicles, but the baggage. Or, the images which used to be carried by you formerly in your solemn processions [MAURER].
were heavy loaden--rather, are put as a load on the beasts of burden [MAURER]. HORSLEY translates, "They who should have been your carriers (as Jehovah is to His people, Isa 46:3, 4) are become burdens" (see on Isa 46:4).
2. deliver--from the enemies' hands.
burden--their images laid on the beasts (Isa 46:1).
themselves--the gods, here also distinguished from their images.
3. in contrast to what precedes: Babylon's idols, so far from bearing its people safely are themselves borne off, a burden to the laden beast; but Jehovah bears His people in safety even from the womb to old age (Isa 63:9; De 32:11; Ps 71:6, 18). God compares Himself to a nurse tenderly carrying a child; contrast Moses' language (Nu 11:12).
4. old age--As "your"--"you"--"you," are not in the Hebrew, the
sentiment is more general than English Version, though of course it
includes the Jews from the infancy to the more advanced age of their
I am he--that is, the same (Ps 102:27; Joh 8:24; Heb 13:8).
I will bear . . . carry--Not only do I not need to be borne and carried Myself, as the idols (Isa 46:1).
5. (Isa 40:18, 25).
6. (Isa 40:19, 20; 41:7.) They lavish gold out of their purses and spare no expense for their idol. Their profuseness shames the niggardliness of professors who worship God with what cost them nothing. Sin is always a costly service.
7. cry . . . can . . . not . . . save-- (Isa 45:20, with which contrast Isa 45:19).
8. show yourselves men--Renounce the childishness of idolatry as
shown in what precedes
(1Co 14:20; 16:13;
In order to be manly we must be godly; for man was made
"in the image of God," and only rises to his true dignity when joined
to God; virtue is derived from the Latin vir, "a man."
bring . . . to mind--rather, "lay it to heart."
transgressors--addressed to the idolaters among the Jews.
9. former--namely, proofs of the sole Godship of Jehovah, from predictions fulfilled, and interpositions of God in behalf of Israel (Isa 45:5).
(Isa 45:21; 41:22, 23; 44:26).
yet--not in the Hebrew. Translate, "What had not been done" [HORSLEY].
do all my pleasure-- (Isa 53:10; Ro 9:19).
11. ravenous bird--Cyrus so called on account of the rapidity of his
marches from the distant regions of Persia to pounce on his prey
The standard of Cyrus, too, was a golden eagle on a spear (see
the heathen historian, XENOPHON, 7, where almost
the same word is used, aetos, as here, ayit).
executeth my counsel-- (Isa 44:28; 45:13). Babylon represents, mystically, the apostate faction: the destruction of its idols symbolizes the future general extirpation of all idolatry and unbelief.
purposed . . . also do it-- (Isa 43:13).
12. stout-hearted--stubborn in resisting God
far from righteousness-- (Isa 59:9; Hab 2:4).
13. near--antithetical to "far"
Isa 51:5; 56:1; 61:10, 11;
righteousness--answering to "salvation" in the parallel clause; therefore it means here, "my righteous deliverance"; righteous, because proving the truth of God's promises, and so contrived as to not compromise, but vindicate, His righteousness (Isa 42:21; Ro 3:26).
Zion . . . my glory--rather, "I will give salvation in Zion; to Israel (I will give) my glory" [HORSLEY]. (Isa 63:11; Ps 14:7; Lu 2:32).
Isa 47:1-15. THE DESTRUCTION OF BABYLON IS REPRESENTED UNDER THE IMAGE OF A ROYAL VIRGIN BROUGHT DOWN IN A MOMENT FROM HER MAGNIFICENT THRONE TO THE EXTREME OF DEGRADATION.
1. in the dust--(See on
virgin--that is, heretofore uncaptured [HERODOTUS, 1.191].
daughter of Babylon--Babylon and its inhabitants (see on Isa 1:8; Isa 37:22).
no throne--The seat of empire was transferred to Shushan. Alexander intended to have made Babylon his seat of empire, but Providence defeated his design. He soon died; and Seleucia, being built near, robbed it of its inhabitants, and even of its name, which was applied to Seleucia.
delicate--alluding to the effeminate debauchery and prostitution of all classes at banquets and religious rites [CURTIUS, 5.1; HERODOTUS, 1.199; BARUCH, 6.43].
2. millstones--like the querns or hand-mills, found in this
country, before the invention of water mills and windmills: a convex
stone, made by the hand to turn in a concave stone, fitted to receive
it, the corn being ground between them: the office of a female slave in
the East; most degrading
uncover thy locks--rather, "take off thy veil" [HORSLEY]: perhaps the removal of the plaited hair worn round the women's temples is included; it, too, is a covering (1Co 11:15); to remove it and the veil is the badge of the lowest female degradation; in the East the head is the seat of female modesty; the face of a woman is seldom, the whole head almost never, seen bare (see on Isa 22:8).
make bare the leg--rather "lift up (literally, 'uncover'; as in lifting up the train the leg is uncovered) thy flowing train." In Mesopotamia, women of low rank, as occasion requires, wade across the rivers with stript legs, or else entirely put off their garments and swim across. "Exchange thy rich, loose, queenly robe, for the most abject condition, that of one going to and fro through rivers as a slave, to draw water," &c.
uncover . . . thigh--gather up the robe, so as to wade across.
3. not meet . . . as a man--rather, "I will not meet a man," that is, suffer man to intercede with me--give man an audience [HORSLEY]. Or, "I will not make peace with any man," before all are destroyed. Literally, "strike a league with"; a phrase arising from the custom of striking hands together in making a compact [MAURER], (see on Pr 17:18; Pr 22:26; 11:15, Margin). Or else from striking the victims sacrificed in making treaties.
4. As for--rather supply, "Thus saith our Redeemer" [MAURER]. LOWTH supposes this verse to be the exclamation of a chorus breaking in with praises, "Our Redeemer! Jehovah of hosts," &c. (Jer 50:34).
5. Sit--the posture of mourning
darkness--mourning and misery (La 3:2; Mic 7:8).
lady of kingdoms--mistress of the world (Isa 13:19).
6. reason for God's vengeance on Babylon: in executing God's will
against His people, she had done so with wanton cruelty
&c.; Jer 50:17; 51:33;
polluted my inheritance-- (Isa 43:28).
the ancient--Even old age was disregarded by the Chaldeans, who treated all alike with cruelty (La 4:16; 5:12) [ROSENMULLER]. Or, "the ancient" means Israel, worn out with calamities in the latter period of its history (Isa 46:4), as its earlier stage of history is called its "youth" (Isa 54:6; Eze 16:60).
7. so that--Through thy vain expectation of being a queen for ever,
thou didst advance to such a pitch of insolence as not to believe "these
things" (namely, as to thy overthrow,
end of it--namely, of thy insolence, implied in her words, "I shall be a lady for ever."
8. given to pleasures--(See on
In no city were there so many incentives to licentiousness.
I am . . . none . . . beside me-- (Isa 47:10). Language of arrogance in man's mouth; fitting for God alone (Isa 45:6). See Isa 5:8, latter part.
widow . . . loss of children--A state, represented as a female, when it has fallen is called a widow, because its king is no more; and childless, because it has no inhabitants; they having been carried off as captives (Isa 23:4; 54:1, 4, 5; Re 18:7, 8).
9. in a moment--It should not decay slowly, but be suddenly and
unexpectedly destroyed; in a single night it was taken by Cyrus. The
prophecy was again literally fulfilled when Babylon revolted against
Darius; and, in order to hold out to the last, each man chose one
woman of his family, and strangled the rest, to save provisions.
Darius impaled three thousand of the revolters.
in . . . perfection--that is, "in full measure."
for . . . for--rather, "notwithstanding the . . . notwithstanding"; "in spite of" [LOWTH]. So "for" (Nu 14:11). Babylon was famous for "expiations or sacrifices, and other incantations, whereby they tried to avert evil and obtain good" [DIODORUS SICULUS].
10. wickedness--as in
the cruelty with which Babylon treated its subject states.
None seeth me-- (Ps 10:11; 94:7). "There is none to exact punishment from me." Sinners are not safe, though seeming secret.
Thy wisdom--astrological and political (Isa 19:11, &c., as to Egypt).
perverted--turns thee aside from the right and safe path.
11. from whence it riseth--Hebrew, "the dawn thereof," that is,
its first rising. Evil shall come on thee without the least previous
But dawn is not applied to "evil," but to
prosperity shining out after misery
Translate, "Thou shall not see any dawn" (of alleviation) [MAURER].
put . . . off--rather, as Margin, "remove by expiation"; it shall be never ending.
not know--unawares: which thou dost not apprehend. Proving the fallacy of thy divinations and astrology (Job 9:5; Ps 35:8).
12. Stand--forth: a scornful challenge to Babylon's magicians to
show whether they can defend their city.
laboured--The devil's service is a laborious yet fruitless one (Isa 55:2).
astrologers--literally, those who form combinations of the heavens; who watch conjunctions and oppositions of the stars. "Casters of the configurations of the sky" [HORSLEY]. GESENIUS explains it: the dividers of the heavens. In casting a nativity they observed four signs:--the horoscope, or sign which arose at the time one was born; the mid-heaven; the sign opposite the horoscope towards the west; and the hypogee.
monthly prognosticators--those who at each new moon profess to tell thereby what is about to happen. Join, not as English Version, "save . . . from those things," &c.; but, "They that at new moons make known from (by means of) them the things that shall come upon thee" [MAURER].
(Isa 29:6; 30:30).
not . . . a coal--Like stubble, they shall burn to a dead ash, without leaving a live coal or cinder (compare Isa 30:14), so utterly shall they be destroyed.
15. Thus, &c.--Such shall be the fate of those astrologers who cost
thee such an amount of trouble and money.
thy merchants, from thy youth--that is, with whom thou hast trafficked from thy earliest history, the foreigners sojourning in Babylon for the sake of commerce (Isa 13:14; Jer 51:6, 9; Na 3:16, 17) [BARNES]. Rather, the astrologers, with whom Babylon had so many dealings (Isa 47:12-14) [HORSLEY].
to his quarter--literally, "straight before him" (Eze 1:9, 12). The foreigners, whether soothsayers or merchants, shall flee home out of Babylon (Jer 50:16).
Isa 48:1-22. THE THINGS THAT BEFALL BABYLON JEHOVAH PREDICTED LONG BEFORE, LEST ISRAEL SHOULD ATTRIBUTE THEM, IN ITS "OBSTINATE" PERVERSITY, TO STRANGE GODS (Isa 48:1-5).
1. the waters of Judah--spring from the fountain of Judah
Margin). Judah has the "fountain" attributed to it,
because it survived the ten tribes, and from it Messiah was to spring.
swear by . . . Lord-- (Isa 19:18; 45:23; 65:16).
mention--in prayers and praises.
not in truth-- (Jer 5:2; Joh 4:24).
2. For--Ye deserve these reproofs; "for" ye call yourselves citizens of "the holy city" (Isa 52:1), but not in truth (Isa 48:1; Ne 11:1; Da 9:24); so the inscription on their coins of the time of the Maccabees. "Jerusalem the Holy."
3. former--things which have happened in time past to Israel
(Isa 42:9; 44:7, 8; 45:21; 46:10).
suddenly--They came to pass so unexpectedly that the prophecy could not have resulted from mere human sagacity.
4. obstinate--Hebrew, "hard"
iron sinew--inflexible (Ac 7:51).
brow brass--shameless as a harlot (see Jer 6:28; 3:3; Eze 3:7, Margin).
5. (See on Isa 48:1; Isa 48:3).
6. Thou, &c.--So "ye are my witnesses"
Thou canst testify the prediction was uttered long before the
fulfilment: "see all this," namely, that the event answers to the
declare--make the fact known as a proof that Jehovah alone is God (Isa 44:8).
new things--namely, the deliverance from Babylon by Cyrus, new in contradistinction from former predictions that had been fulfilled (Isa 42:9; 43:19). Antitypically, the prophecy has in view the "new things" of the gospel treasury (So 7:13; Mt 13:52; 2Co 5:17; Re 21:5). From this point forward, the prophecies as to Messiah's first and second advents and the restoration of Israel, have a new circumstantial distinctness, such as did not characterize the previous ones, even of Isaiah. Babylon, in this view, answers to the mystical Babylon of Revelation.
hidden--which could not have been guessed by political sagacity (Da 2:22, 29; 1Co 2:9, 10).
7. Not like natural results from existing causes, the events when
they took place were like acts of creative power, such as had never
before been "from the beginning."
even before the day when--rather [MAURER], "And before the day (of their occurrence) thou hast not heard of them"; that is, by any human acuteness; they are only heard of by the present inspired announcement.
8. heardest not--repeated, as also "knewest not," from
from that time--Omit "that." "Yea, from the first thine ear did not open itself," namely, to obey them [ROSENMULLER]. "To open the ear" denotes obedient attention (Isa 50:5); or, "was not opened" to receive them; that is, they were not declared by Me to thee previously, since, if thou hadst been informed of them, such is thy perversity, thou couldst not have been kept in check [MAURER]. In the former view, the sense of the words following is, "For I knew that, if I had not foretold the destruction of Babylon so plainly that there could be no perverting of it, thou wouldst have perversely ascribed it to idols, or something else than to Me" (Isa 48:5). Thus they would have relapsed into idolatry, to cure them of which the Babylonian captivity was sent: so they had done (Ex 32:4). After the return, and ever since, they have utterly forsaken idols.
wast called--as thine appropriate appellation (Isa 9:6).
from the womb--from the beginning of Israel's national existence (Isa 44:2).
9. refrain--literally, "muzzle"; His wrath, after the return, was to
be restrained a while, and then, because of their sins, let loose
for thee--that is, mine anger towards thee.
10. (See on
with silver--rather, "for silver." I sought by affliction to purify thee, but thou wast not as silver obtained by melting, but as dross [GESENIUS]. Thy repentance is not complete: thou art not yet as refined silver. ROSENMULLER explains, "not as silver," not with the intense heat needed to melt silver (it being harder to melt than gold), that is, not with the most extreme severity. The former view is better (Isa 1:25; 42:25; Eze 22:18-20, 22).
chosen--or else [LOWTH], tried . . . proved: according to GESENIUS, literally, "to rub with the touchstone," or to cut in pieces so as to examine (Zec 13:9; Mal 3:3; 1Pe 1:7).
11. how should my name--MAURER, instead of
"My name" from
supplies "My glory" from the next clause; and translates, "How
(shamefully) My glory has been profaned!" In English Version the
sense is, "I will refrain
that is, not utterly destroy thee), for why should I permit My name to
be polluted, which it would be, if the Lord utterly destroyed His elect
not give my glory unto another--If God forsook His people for ever, the heathen would attribute their triumph over Israel to their idols; so God's glory would be given to another.
12-15. The Almighty, who has founded heaven and earth, can, and will,
restore His people.
the first . . . last-- (Isa 41:4; 44:6).
13. spanned--measured out
when I call . . . stand up together-- (Isa 40:26; Jer 33:25). But it is not their creation so much which is meant, as that, like ministers of God, the heavens and the earth are prepared at His command to execute His decrees (Ps 119:91) [ROSENMULLER].
14. among them--among the gods and astrologers of the Chaldees
(Isa 41:22; 43:9; 44:7).
Lord . . . loved him; he will, &c.--that is, "He whom the Lord hath loved will do," &c. [LOWTH]; namely, Cyrus (Isa 44:28; 45:1, 13; 46:11). However, Jehovah's language of love is too strong to apply to Cyrus, except as type of Messiah, to whom alone it fully applies (Re 5:2-5).
his pleasure--not Cyrus' own, but Jehovah's.
15. brought--led him on his way.
he--change from the first to the third person [BARNES]. Jehovah shall make his (Cyrus') way prosperous.
16. not . . . in secret--
Jehovah foretold Cyrus' advent, not with the studied ambiguity of
heathen oracles, but plainly.
from the time, &c.--From the moment that the purpose began to be accomplished in the raising up of Cyrus I was present.
sent me--The prophet here speaks, claiming attention to his announcement as to Cyrus, on the ground of his mission from God and His Spirit. But he speaks not in his own person so much as in that of Messiah, to whom alone in the fullest sense the words apply (Isa 61:1; Joh 10:36). Plainly, Isa 49:1, which is the continuation of the forty-eighth chapter, from Isa 48:16, where the change of speaker from God (Isa 48:1, 12-15) begins, is the language of Messiah. Lu 4:1, 14, 18, shows that the Spirit combined with the Father in sending the Son: therefore "His Spirit" is nominative to "sent," not accusative, following it.
17. teacheth . . . to profit--by affliction, such as the Babylonish captivity, and the present long-continued dispersion of Israel (Heb 12:10).
Compare the desire expressed by the same Messiah
river-- (Isa 33:21; 41:18), a river flowing from God's throne is the symbol of free, abundant, and ever flowing blessings from Him (Eze 47:1; Zec 14:8; Re 22:1).
righteousness--religious prosperity; the parent of "peace" or national prosperity; therefore "peace" corresponds to "righteousness" in the parallelism (Isa 32:17).
19. sand--retaining the metaphor of "the sea"
like the gravel thereof--rather, as the Hebrew, "like that (the offspring) of its (the sea's) bowels"; referring to the countless living creatures, fishes, &c., of the sea, rather than the gravel [MAURER]. JEROME, Chaldee, and Syriac support English Version.
his name . . . cut off--transition from the second person, "thy," to the third "his." Israel's name was cut off "as a nation" during the Babylonish captivity; also it is so now, to which the prophecy especially looks (Ro 11:20).
20. Go . . . forth . . . end of the earth--Primarily, a prophecy of
their joyful deliverance from Babylon, and a direction that they should
leave it when God opened the way. But the publication of it "to the ends
of the earth" shows it has a more world-wide scope antitypically;
shows that the mystical Babylon is ultimately meant.
redeemed . . . Jacob-- (Isa 43:1; 44:22, 23).
21. Ezra, in describing the return, makes no mention of God cleaving the rock for them in the desert [KIMCHI]. The circumstances, therefore, of the deliverance from Egypt (Ex 17:6; Nu 20:11; Ps 78:15; 105:41) and of that from Babylon, are blended together; the language, while more immediately referring to the latter deliverance, yet, as being blended with circumstances of the former not strictly applicable to the latter, cannot wholly refer to either, but to the mystic deliverance of man under Messiah, and literally to the final restoration of Israel.
22. Repeated (Isa 57:21). All the blessings just mentioned (Isa 48:21) belong only to the godly, not to the wicked. Israel shall first cast away its wicked unbelief before it shall inherit national prosperity (Zec 12:10-14; 13:1, 9; 14:3, 14, 20, 21). The sentiment holds good also as to all wicked men (Job 15:20-25, 31-34).
Isa 49:1-26. SIMILAR TO CHAPTER 42:1-7 (Isa 49:1-9).
Messiah, as the ideal Israel (Isa 49:3), states the object of His mission, His want of success for a time, yet His certainty of ultimate success.
1. O isles--Messiah is here regarded as having been rejected by the
(Isa 49:4, 5),
and as now turning to the Gentiles, to whom the Father hath given Him
"for a light and salvation." "Isles" mean all regions beyond
from the womb-- (Isa 44:2; Lu 1:31; Joh 10:36).
from . . . bowels . . . mention of my name--His name "Jesus" (that is, God-Saviour) was designated by God before His birth (Mt 1:21).
2. my mouth . . . sword--
The double office of the Word of God, saving and damnatory, is implied
shaft-- (Ps 45:5). "Polished," that is, free from all rust, implies His unsullied purity.
in . . . quiver . . . hid me--Like a sword in its scabbard, or a shaft in the quiver, Messiah, before His appearing, was hid with God, ready to be drawn forth at the moment God saw fit [HENGSTENBERG]; also always protected by God, as the arrow by the quiver (Isa 51:16).
3. Israel--applied to Messiah, according to the true import of the
name, the Prince who had power with God in wrestling in behalf
of man, and who prevails
Ho 12:3, 4).
He is also the ideal Israel, the representative man of the nation
with Ho 11:1).
in whom . . . glorified-- (Joh 14:13; 17:1-5).
in vain--comparatively in the case of the greater number of His own countrymen. "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not" (Isa 53:1-3; Lu 19:14; Joh 1:11; 7:5). Only a hundred twenty disciples met after His personal ministry was ended (Ac 1:15).
yet . . . my judgment . . . with the Lord--Ultimately, God will do justice to My cause, and reward (Margin for "work," compare Isa 40:10; 62:11) My labors and sufferings. He was never "discouraged" (Isa 42:4; 50:7, 10). He calmly, in spite of seeming ill success for the time, left the result with God, confident of final triumph (Isa 53:10-12; 1Pe 2:23). So the ministers of Christ (1Co 4:1-5; 1Pe 4:19).
5. The reason why He was confident that His work would be
accepted and rewarded, namely, because He is "glorious in the eyes of
to bring Jacob again to him-- (Mt 15:24; Ac 3:26).
Though Israel be not gathered--metaphor from a scattered flock which the shepherd gathers together again; or a hen and her chickens (Mt 23:37). Instead of the text "not," the Keri has the similar Hebrew word, "to Him," which the parallelism favors: "And that Israel may be gathered to Him."
yet--rather, parenthetically. "For I am glorious, &c., and My God is My strength." Then (Isa 49:6) resuming the words from the beginning of Isa 49:5, "He saith" (I repeat), &c. HORSLEY explains, "Notwithstanding the incredulity of the Jews, Messiah shall be glorified in the conversion of the Gentiles," reading as English Version: but if the Keri be read, "Israel shall at one time or other be gathered, notwithstanding their incredulity during Messiah's sojourn on earth."
6. It is a light thing--"It is too little that Thou shouldest,"
[HENGSTENBERG], that is, It is not enough honor
to Thee to raise up
Jacob and Israel, but I design for Thee more, namely, that Thou
shouldest be the means of enlightening the Gentiles
(Isa 42:6, 7; 60:3).
the preserved--namely, those remaining after the judgments of God on the nation--the elect remnant of Israel reserved for mercy. LOWTH, with a slight but needless change of the Hebrew, translates for "tribes" and "preserved," the "scions"--the "branches."
7. whom man despiseth--Hebrew, "the despised of soul," that is,
by every soul, by all men
(Isa 52:14, 15; 53:3; 50:6-9;
LOWTH translates, "whose person is
abhorreth--literally, "who is an abomination to the nation" (Lu 23:18-23). The Jews contemptuously call Him always Tolvi, "the crucified." I prefer, on account of Goi, the Hebrew term for nation being usually applied to the Gentiles, and that for people to the Jews (Ho 1:9; so the Greek terms respectively also Laos and Ethne, Ro 9:25), to take "nation" here collectively for the Gentile world, which also spurned Him (Ps 2:1-3; Ac 4:25-27).
servant of rulers-- (Mt 17:27). He who would not exert His power against the rulers (Mt 26:52, 53).
shall see--namely the fulfilment of God's promises (Isa 49:3, 6), "when He (shall be) a light to the Gentiles."
arise--to reverence Thee (Ps 72:10, 11; Php 2:10).
princes also--rather, for the parallelism, supply the ellipsis, thus, "Princes shall see and shall worship."
faithful--namely, to His promises.
choose thee--as God's elect (Isa 42:1).
8. Messiah is represented as having asked for the grace of God in
behalf of sinners; this verse contains God the Father's favorable
an acceptable time--"In a time of grace" [HENGSTENBERG]. A limited time (Isa 61:2; 2Co 6:2). The time judged by God to be the best fitted for effecting the purposes of His grace by Messiah.
heard thee-- (Ps 2:8; Heb 5:7).
day of salvation--when "the fulness of time" (Ga 4:4) shall have come. The day of salvation is "to-day" (Heb 4:7).
helped--given Thee the help needed to enable Thee, as man, to accomplish man's salvation.
preserve--from the assaults and efforts of Satan, to divert Thee from Thy voluntary death to save man.
covenant of the people--(See on Isa 42:6). "The people," in the singular, is always applied exclusively to Israel.
establish the earth--rather, "to restore the land," namely, Canaan to Israel. Spiritually, the restoration of the Church (the spiritual Israel) to the heavenly land forfeited by man's sin is also included.
cause to inherit . . . desolate heritages--image from the desolate state of Judea during the Babylonish captivity. Spiritually, the Gentile world, a moral waste, shall become a garden of the Lord. Literally, Judea lying desolate for ages shall be possessed again by Israel (compare Isa 61:7, "in their land"). Jesus, the antitype of, and bearing the same name as Joshua (Heb 4:8), shall, like him, divide the land among its true heirs (Isa 54:3; 61:4).
prisoners--the Jews bound in legal bondage.
them . . . in darkness--the Gentiles having no light as to the one true God [VITRINGA].
Show yourselves--not only see but be seen (Mt 5:16; Mr 5:19). Come forth from the darkness of your prison into the light of the Sun of righteousness.
in the ways, &c.--In a desert there are no "ways," nor "high places," with "pastures"; thus the sense is: "They shall have their pastures, not in deserts, but in cultivated and inhabited places." Laying aside the figure, the churches of Christ at the first shall be gathered, not in obscure and unknown regions, but in the most populous parts of the Roman empire, Antioch, Alexandria, Rome, &c. [VITRINGA]. Another sense probably is the right one. Israel, on its way back to the Holy Land, shall not have to turn aside to devious paths in search of necessaries, but shall find them in all places wherever their route lies; so ROSENMULLER. God will supply them as if He should make the grass grow in the trodden ways and on the barren high places.
10. Messiah will abundantly satisfy all the wants, both of literal Israel on their way to Palestine, and of the spiritual on their way to heaven, as their Shepherd (Isa 65:13; Mt 5:6), also in heaven (Re 7:16, 17).
11. my--All things are God's.
mountains a way--I will remove all obstructions out of the way (Isa 40:4).
exalted--that is, cast up (Isa 57:14; 62:10); for instance, over valleys. VITRINGA explains "mountains" as great kingdoms, Egypt, Syria, &c., subjected to Rome, to facilitate the spreading of the Gospel; "highways," the Christian doctrine wherein those who join the Church walk, and which, at the time of Constantine, was to be raised into prominence before all, and publicly protected (Isa 35:8, 9).
12. Sinim--The Arabians and other Asiatics called China Sin, or Tchin; the Chinese had no special name for themselves, but either adopted that of the reigning dynasty or some high-sounding titles. This view of "Sinim" suits the context which requires a people to be meant "from far," and distinct from those "from the north and from the west" [GESENIUS].
13. So Re 12:12. God will have mercy on the afflicted, because of His compassion; on His afflicted, because of His covenant.
14. Zion--the literal Israel's complaint, as if God had forsaken her in the Babylonian captivity; also in their dispersion previous to their future restoration; thereby God's mercy shall be called forth (Isa 63:15-19; Ps 77:9, 10; 102:17).
15. (Isa 44:21; Ps 103:13; Mt 7:11).
16. Alluding to the Jews' custom (perhaps drawn from Ex 13:9) of puncturing on their hands a representation of their city and temple, in token of zeal for them [LOWTH], (So 8:6).
17. Thy children--Israel
(Isa 49:20, 21;
JEROME reads, for "Thy children," "Thy builders";
they that destroyed thee shall hasten to build thee.
haste--to rebuild thy desolate capital.
shall go forth--Thy destroyers shall leave Judea to Israel in undisturbed possession.
18. As Zion is often compared to a bride
so the accession of converts is like bridal ornaments ("jewels,"
Her literal children are, however, more immediately meant, as
the context refers to their restoration; and only secondarily to her
spiritual children by conversion to Christ. Israel shall be the
means of the final complete conversion of the nations
Ro 11:12, 15).
as a bride--namely, binds on her ornaments.
19. land of thy destruction--thy land once the scene of destruction.
too narrow-- (Isa 54:1, 2; Zec 10:10).
20. children . . . after . . . other--rather, "the children of thy
widowhood," that is, the children of whom thou hast been bereft during
their dispersion in other lands
give place--rather, "stand close to me," namely, in order that we may be the more able to dwell in in the narrow place [HORSLEY]. Compare as to Israel's spiritual children, and the extension of the gospel sphere, Ro 15:19, 24; 2Co 10:14-16. But Isa 49:22 (compare Isa 66:20) shows that her literal children are primarily meant. GESENIUS translates, "Make room."
21. Who, &c.--Zion's joyful wonder at the unexpected restoration of
the ten tribes. Secondarily, the accession of spiritual Israelites
to the mother church of Jerusalem from the Gentiles is meant. This
created surprise at first
(Ac 10:45; 14:27; 15:3, 4).
lost . . . am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro--rather, "bereaved of . . . have been barren, an exile and outcast" [HORSLEY]. She had been "put away" by Jehovah, her husband (Isa 50:1); hence her wonder at the children begotten to her.
22. lift . . . hand--that is, beckon to (see on
standard-- (Isa 11:12).
bring . . . sons in . . . arms--The Gentiles shall aid in restoring Israel to its own land (Isa 60:4; 66:20). Children able to support themselves are carried on the shoulders in the East; but infants, in the arms, or astride on one haunch (Isa 60:12). "Thy sons" must be distinct from "the Gentiles," who carry them; and therefore cannot primarily refer to converts among the Gentiles.
23. lick . . . dust--that is, kiss thy feet in token of humble
for they . . . not . . . ashamed . . . wait for me--The restoration of Israel shall be in answer to their prayerful waiting on the Lord (Isa 30:18, 19; Ps 102:16, 17; Zec 12:10; 14:3).
24. the prey--Israel, long a prey to mighty Gentile nations, whose
oppression of her shall reach its highest point under Antichrist
(Da 11:36, 37, 41, 45).
lawful captive--the Jews justly consigned for their sins (Isa 50:1) as captives to the foe. Secondarily, Satan and Death are "the mighty" conquerors of man, upon whom his sin give them their "lawful" claim. Christ answers that claim for the sinners, and so the captive is set free (Job 19:25; 14:14; Mt 12:29; Ho 6:2, where Isa 49:4 shows the primary reference is to Israel's restoration, to which the resurrection corresponds; Isa 26:19; Eph 4:8; Heb 2:14, 15). Others not so well translate, "the captives taken from among the just Israelites."
contend with him, &c.-- (Isa 54:17).
26. feed . . . own flesh--a phrase for internal strifes
own blood--a just retribution for their having shed the blood of God's servants (Re 16:6).
sweet wine--that is, must, or new wine, the pure juice which flows from the heap of grapes before they are pressed; the ancients could preserve it for a long time, so as to retain its flavor. It was so mild that it required a large quantity to intoxicate; thus the idea here is that very much blood would be shed (Re 14:10, 20).
all flesh shall, &c.--the effect on the world of God's judgments (Isa 66:15, 16, 18, 19; Re 15:3, 4).
Isa 50:1-11. THE JUDGMENTS ON ISRAEL WERE PROVOKED BY THEIR CRIMES, YET THEY ARE NOT FINALLY CAST OFF BY GOD.
1. Where . . . mothers divorcement--Zion is "the mother"; the Jews
are the children; and God the Husband and Father
(Isa 54:5; 62:5;
GESENIUS thinks that God means by the question to
deny that He had given "a bill of divorcement" to her, as was
often done on slight pretexts by a husband
or that He had "sold" His and her "children," as a poor parent
under pressure of his "creditors"; that it was they who sold themselves
through their own sins. MAURER explains,
"Show the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom
. . . ; produce the creditors to whom ye have been sold; so
it will be seen that it was not from any caprice of Mine, but through
your own fault, your mother has been put away, and you sold"
HORSLEY best explains (as the antithesis between
"I" and "yourselves" shows, though LOWTH
translates, "Ye are sold") I have never given your mother
a regular bill of divorcement; I have merely "put her away" for a time,
and can, therefore, by right as her husband still take her back on her
submission; I have not made you, the children, over to any "creditor"
to satisfy a debt; I therefore still have the right of a father over
you, and can take you back on repentance, though as rebellious children
you have sold yourselves to sin and its penalty
bill . . . whom--rather, "the bill with which I have put her away" [MAURER].
no man--willing to believe in and obey Me (Isa 52:1, 3). The same Divine Person had "come" by His prophets in the Old Testament (appealing to them, but in vain, Jer 7:25, 26), who was about to come under the New Testament.
hand shortened--the Oriental emblem of weakness, as the long stretched-out hand is of power (Isa 59:1). Notwithstanding your sins, I can still "redeem" you from your bondage and dispersion.
dry up . . . sea-- (Ex 14:21). The second exodus shall exceed, while it resembles in wonders, the first (Isa 11:11, 15; 51:15).
make . . . rivers . . . wilderness--turn the prosperity of Israel's foes into adversity.
fish stinketh--the very judgment inflicted on their Egyptian enemies at the first exodus (Ex 7:18, 21).
3. heavens . . . blackness--another of the judgments on Egypt to be
repeated hereafter on the last enemy of God's people
sackcloth-- (Re 6:12).
4. Messiah, as "the servant of Jehovah"
declares that the office has been assigned to Him of encouraging the
"weary" exiles of Israel by "words in season" suited to their case; and
that, whatever suffering it is to cost Himself, He does not shrink from
(Isa 50:5, 6),
for that He knows His cause will triumph at last
(Isa 50:7, 8).
learned--not in mere human learning, but in divinely taught modes of instruction and eloquence (Isa 49:2; Ex 4:11; Mt 7:28, 29; 13:54).
speak a word in season-- (Pr 15:23; 25:11). Literally, "to succor by words," namely, in their season of need, the "weary" dispersed ones of Israel (De 28:65-67). Also, the spiritual "weary" (Isa 42:3; Mt 11:28).
wakeneth morning by morning, &c.--Compare "daily rising up early" (Jer 7:25; Mr 1:35). The image is drawn from a master wakening his pupils early for instruction.
wakeneth . . . ear--prepares me for receiving His divine instructions.
as the learned--as one taught by Him. He "learned obedience," experimentally, "by the things which He suffered"; thus gaining that practical learning which adapted Him for "speaking a word in season" to suffering men (Heb 5:8).
5. opened . . .
that is, hath made me obediently attentive (but MAURER, "hath informed me of my duty"), as a
servant to his master (compare
with Php 2:7;
Isa 42:1; 49:3, 6; 52:13; 53:11;
not rebellious--but, on the contrary, most willing to do the Father's will in proclaiming and procuring salvation for man, at the cost of His own sufferings (Heb 10:5-10).
6. smiters--with scourges and with the open hand
(Mt 27:26; 26:27;
To "pluck the hair" is the highest insult that can be offered an
"I gave" implies the voluntary nature of His sufferings; His example
corresponds to His precept
spitting--To spit in another's presence is an insult in the East, much more on one; most of all in the face (Job 30:10; Mt 27:30; Lu 18:32).
7. Sample of His not being "discouraged"
(Isa 42:4; 49:5).
set . . . face like . . . flint--set Myself resolutely, not to be daunted from My work of love by shame or suffering (Eze 3:8, 9).
The believer, by virtue of his oneness with Christ, uses the same
But "justify" in His case, is God's judicial acceptance and
vindication of Him on the ground of His own righteousness
with which compare
in their case, on the ground of His righteousness and
meritorious death imputed to them
stand together--in judgment, to try the issue.
adversary--literally, "master of my cause," that is, who has real ground of accusation against me, so that he can demand judgment to be given in his favor (compare Zec 3:1, &c. Re 12:10).
9. (Compare "deal," or "proper,"
as a garment-- (Isa 51:6, 8; Ps 102:26). A leading constituent of wealth in the East is change of raiment, which is always liable to the inroads of the moth; hence the frequency of the image in Scripture.
10. Messiah exhorts the godly after His example
(Isa 49:4, 5; 42:4)
when in circumstances of trial ("darkness,"
to trust in the arm of Jehovah alone.
Who is, &c.--that is, Whosoever (Jud 7:3).
obeyeth . . . servant--namely, Messiah. The godly "honor the Son, even as they honor the Father" (Joh 5:23).
darkness-- (Mic 7:8, 9). God never had a son who was not sometimes in the dark. For even Christ, His only Son, cried out, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
light--rather, "splendor"; bright sunshine; for the servant of God is never wholly without "light" [VITRINGA]. A godly man's way may be dark, but his end shall be peace and light. A wicked man's way may be bright, but his end shall be utter darkness (Ps 112:4; 97:11; 37:24).
let him trust in the name of the Lord--as Messiah did (Isa 50:8, 9).
11. In contrast to the godly
the wicked, in times of darkness, instead of trusting in God, trust in
themselves (kindle a light for themselves to walk by)
The image is continued from
"darkness"; human devices for salvation
(Pr 19:21; 16:9, 25)
are like the spark that goes out in an instant in darkness (compare
Job 18:6; 21:17,
with Ps 18:28).
sparks--not a steady light, but blazing sparks extinguished in a moment.
walk--not a command, but implying that as surely as they would do so, they should lie down in sorrow (Jer 3:25). In exact proportion to mystic Babylon's previous "glorifying" of herself shall be her sorrow (Mt 25:30; 8:12; Re 18:7).
Isa 51:1-23. ENCOURAGEMENT TO THE FAITHFUL REMNANT OF ISRAEL TO TRUST IN GOD FOR DELIVERANCE, BOTH FROM THEIR LONG BABYLONIAN EXILE, AND FROM THEIR PRESENT DISPERSION.
1. me--the God of your fathers.
ye . . . follow after righteousness--the godly portion of the nation; Isa 51:7 shows this (Pr 15:9; 1Ti 6:11). "Ye follow righteousness," seek it therefore from Me, who "bring it near," and that a righteousness "not about to be abolished" (Isa 51:6, 7); look to Abraham, your father (Isa 51:2), as a sample of how righteousness before Me is to be obtained; I, the same God who blessed him, will bless you at last (Isa 51:3); therefore trust in Me, and fear not man's opposition (Isa 51:7, 8, 12, 13). The mistake of the Jews, heretofore, has been, not in that they "followed after righteousness," but in that they followed it "by the works of the law," instead of "by faith," as Abraham did (Ro 9:31, 32; 10:3, 4; 4:2-5).
hole of . . . pit--The idea is not, as it is often quoted, the inculcation of humility, by reminding men of the fallen state from which they have been taken, but that as Abraham, the quarry, as it were (compare Isa 48:1), whence their nation was hewn, had been called out of a strange land to the inheritance of Canaan, and blessed by God, the same God is able to deliver and restore them also (compare Mt 3:9).
2. alone--translate, "I called him when he was but one" (Eze 33:24). The argument is: the same God who had so blessed "one" individual, as to become a mighty nation (Ge 12:1; 22:7), can also increase and bless the small remnant of Israel, both that left in the Babylonish captivity, and that left in the present and latter days (Zec 14:2); "the residue" (Isa 13:8, 9).
3. For--See for the argument,
the garden of the Lord--restoration of the primeval paradise (Ge 2:8; Eze 28:13; Re 2:7).
melody--Hebrew, "psalm." God's praises shall again be heard.
4. my people--the Jews. This reading is better than that of
GESENIUS: "O peoples . . . nations,"
namely, the Gentiles. The Jews are called on to hear and rejoice in the
extension of the true religion to the nations; for, at the first
preaching of the Gospel, as in the final age to come, it was from
Jerusalem that the gospel law was, and is, to go forth
law . . . judgment--the gospel dispensation and institutions (Isa 42:1, "judgment").
make . . . to rest--establish firmly; found.
light, &c.-- (Isa 42:6).
5. righteousness . . . near--that is, faithful fulfilment of the
promised deliverance, answering to "salvation" in the parallel clause
(Isa 46:13; 56:1;
Ro 10:8, 9).
Ye follow after "righteousness"; seek it therefore, from Me, and you
will not have far to go for it
arms--put for Himself; I by My might.
judge-- (Isa 2:3, 4; Ps 98:9).
isles, &c.-- (Isa 60:9).
arm-- (Ro 1:16), "the power of God unto (the Gentiles as well as the Jews) salvation."
(Isa 40:6, 8;
Heb 1:11, 12).
vanish away--literally, "shall be torn asunder," as a garment [MAURER]; which accords with the context.
in like manner--But GESENIUS, "Like a gnat"; like the smallest and vilest insect. JEROME translates, as English Version, and infers that "in like manner" as man, the heavens (that is, the sky) and earth are not to be annihilated, but changed for the better (Isa 65:17).
righteousness--My faithfully fulfilled promise (see on Isa 51:5).
7. know righteousness--(See on Isa 51:1).
8. (See on Isa 50:9; Job 4:18-20). Not that the moth eats men up, but they shall be destroyed by as insignificant instrumentality as the moth that eats a garment.
9. Impassioned prayer of the exiled Jews.
ancient days-- (Ps 44:1).
Rahab--poetical name for Egypt (see on Isa 30:7).
dragon--Hebrew, tannin. The crocodile, an emblem of Egypt, as represented on coins struck after the conquest of Egypt by Augustus; or rather here, "its king," Pharaoh (see on Isa 27:1; Ps 74:13, 14; Eze 32:2, Margin; Eze 29:3).
10. it--the arm.
Art not Thou the same Almighty power that . . . ? dried the sea--the Red Sea (Isa 43:16; Ex 14:21).
Therefore--assurance of faith; or else the answer of Jehovah corresponding to their prayer. As surely as God redeemed Israel out of Egypt, He shall redeem them from Babylon, both the literal in the age following, and mystical in the last ages (Re 18:20, 21). There shall be a second exodus (Isa 11:11-16; 27:12, 13).
singing--image from the custom of singing on a journey when a caravan is passing along the extended plains in the East.
everlasting joy-- (Jude 24).
sorrow . . . flee away-- (Re 21:4).
son of man--frail and dying as his parent Adam.
be made as grass--wither as grass (Isa 40:6, 7).
(Isa 40:12, 26, 28),
the same argument of comfort drawn from the omnipotence of the Creator.
as if . . . ready, &c.--literally, "when he directs," namely, his arrow, to destroy (Ps 21:12; 7:13; 11:2) [MAURER].
14. captive exile--literally, one bowed down as a captive
[MAURER]. The scene is primarily Babylon, and the
time near the close of the captivity. Secondarily, and antitypically,
the mystical Babylon, the last enemy of Israel and the Church, in which
they have long suffered, but from which they are to be gloriously
pit--such as were many of the ancient dungeons (compare Jer 38:6, 11, 13; Ge 37:20).
nor . . . bread . . . fail-- (Isa 33:16; Jer 37:21).
15. divided . . . sea--the Red Sea. The same Hebrew word as "make to rest" (Isa 51:4). Rather, "that terrify the sea," that is, restrain it by My rebuke, "when its waves roar" [GESENIUS]. The Hebrew favors MAURER, "that terrify the sea so that the waves roar." The sense favors GESENIUS (Jer 5:22; 31:35), or English Version (Isa 51:9, 10, which favors the special reference to the exodus from Egypt).
16. Addressed to Israel, embodied in "the servant of Jehovah"
Messiah, its ideal and representative Head, through whom the elect
remnant is to be restored.
put my words in thy mouth--true of Israel, the depository of true religion, but fully realized only in Israel's Head and antitype, Messiah (Isa 49:2; 50:4, 5; 59:21; De 18:18; Joh 3:34).
covered . . . in . . . shadow of . . . hand--protected thee (see on Isa 49:2).
plant--rather, "fix" as a tabernacle; so it ought to be rendered (Da 11:45). The "new creation," now going on in the spiritual world by the Gospel (Eph 2:10), and hereafter to be extended to the visible world, is meant (Isa 65:17; 66:22; compare Isa 13:13; 2Pe 3:10-13).
Zion--Its restoration is a leading part in the new creation to come (Isa 65:17, 19).
17. Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, &c.--
drunk--Jehovah's wrath is compared to an intoxicating draught because it confounds the sufferer under it, and makes him fall (Job 21:20; Ps 60:3; 75:8; Jer 25:15, 16; 49:12; Zec 12:2; Re 14:10); ("poured out without mixture"; rather, "the pure wine juice mixed with intoxicating drugs").
of trembling--which produced trembling or intoxication.
wrung . . . out--drained the last drop out; the dregs were the sediments from various substances, as honey, dates, and drugs, put into the wine to increase the strength and sweetness.
18. Following up the image in Isa 51:17, intoxicated and confused by the cup of God's anger, she has none to guide her in her helpless state; she has not yet awakened out of the sleep caused by that draught. This cannot apply to the Babylonish captivity; for in it they had Ezekiel and Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah, as "guides," and soon awoke out of that sleep; but it applies to the Jews now, and will be still more applicable in their coming oppression by Antichrist.
19. two--classes of evils, for he enumerates four, namely,
desolation and destruction to the land and state; famine and
the sword to the people.
who shall be sorry for thee--so as to give thee effectual relief: as the parallel clause, "By whom shall I comfort thee?" shows (La 2:11-13).
20. head of all . . . streets--
(La 2:19; 4:1).
wild bull--rather, "oryx" [JEROME], or gazelle [GESENIUS], or wild goat [BOCHART]; commonly in the East taken in a net, of a wide sweep, into which the beasts were hunted together. The streets of cities in the East often have gates, which are closed at night; a person wishing to escape would be stopped by them and caught, as a wild animal in a net.
21. drunken . . . not with wine-- (Isa 29:9; compare Isa 51:17, 20, here; La 3:15).
22. pleadeth . . . cause--
no more drink it-- (Isa 54:7-9). This cannot apply to Israel after the return from Babylon, but only to them after their final restoration.
Bow down that . . . go over--Conquerors often literally trod on the necks of conquered kings, as Sapor of Persia did to the Roman emperor Valerian (Jos 10:24; Ps 18:40; 66:11, 12).
Isa 52:1-15. FIRST THROUGH THIRTEEN VERSES CONNECTED WITH FIFTY-FIRST CHAPTER.
Zion long in bondage (Isa 51:17-20) is called to put on beautiful garments appropriate to its future prosperity.
1. strength--as thy adornment; answering to "beautiful garments" in
the parallel clause. Arouse thyself from dejection and assume
the holy city-- (Ne 11:1; Re 21:2).
no more . . . unclean-- (Isa 35:8; 60:21; Joe 3:17; Re 21:27). A prophecy never yet fulfilled.
uncircumcised--spiritually (Eze 44:9; Ac 7:51).
2. from the dust--the seat of mourners
(Job 2:12, 13).
arise, and sit--namely, in a more dignified place: on a divan or a throne [LOWTH], after having shaken off the dust gathered up by the flowing dress when seated on the ground; or simply, "Arise, and sit erect" [MAURER].
bands of . . . neck--the yoke of thy captivity.
3. As you became your foes' servants, without their paying any price for you (Jer 15:13), so they shall release you without demanding any price or reward (Isa 45:13), (where Cyrus is represented as doing so: a type of their final restoration gratuitously in like manner). So the spiritual Israel, "sold under sin," gratuitously (Ro 7:14), shall be redeemed also gratuitously (Isa 55:1).
4. My people--Jacob and his sons.
went down--Judea was an elevated country compared with Egypt.
sojourn--They went there to stay only till the famine in Canaan should have ceased.
Assyrian--Sennacherib. Remember how I delivered you from Egypt and the Assyrian; what, then, is to prevent Me from delivering you out of Babylon (and the mystical Babylon and the Antichrist in the last days)?
without cause--answering to "for naught" in Isa 52:5; it was an act of gratuitous oppression in the present case, as in that case.
5. what have I here--that is, what am I called on to do? The fact
"that My people is taken away (into captivity;
Isa 49:24, 25)
for naught" (by gratuitous oppression,
and see on
demands My interposition.
they that rule--or "tyrannize," namely, Babylon, literal and mystical.
make . . . to howl--or, raise a cry of exultation over them [MAURER].
blasphemed--namely, in Babylon: God's reason for delivering His people, not their goodness, but for the sake of His holy name (Eze 20:9, 14).
6. shall know in that day--when Christ shall reveal Himself to Israel sensibly; the only means whereby their obstinate unbelief shall be overcome (Ps 102:16; Zec 12:10; 14:5).
7. beautiful . . . feet--that is, The advent of such a herald seen
on the distant "mountains"
Isa 25:6, 7;
running in haste with the long-expected good tidings, is most
grateful to the desolated city
good tidings--only partially applying to the return from Babylon. Fully, and antitypically, the Gospel (Lu 2:10, 11), "beginning at Jerusalem" (Lu 24:47), "the city of the great King" (Mt 5:35), where Messiah shall, at the final restoration of Israel, "reign" as peculiarly Zion's God ("Thy God reigneth"; compare Ps 2:6).
8. watchmen--set on towers separated by intervals to give the earliest
notice of the approach of any messenger with tidings
The Hebrew is more forcible than English Version, "The
voice of thy watchmen" (exclamatory as in
"They lift up their voice! together they sing."
eye to eye--that is, close at hand, and so clearly [GESENIUS]; Nu 14:14, "face to face"; Nu 12:8, "mouth to mouth." Compare 1Co 13:12; Re 22:4, of which Simeon's sight of the Saviour was a prefiguration (Lu 2:30). The watchmen, spiritually, are ministers and others who pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Isa 62:6, 7),
bring again--that is, restore. Or else, "return to" [MAURER].
(Isa 14:7, 8; 42:11).
redeemed--spiritually and nationally (Isa 48:20).
10. made bare . . . arm--metaphor from warriors who bare their arm for
all . . . earth . . . see . . . salvation of . . . God--The deliverance wrought by God for Israel will cause all nations to acknowledge the Lord (Isa 66:18-20). The partial fulfilment (Lu 3:6) is a forerunner of the future complete fulfilment.
Zec 2:6, 7).
Long residence in Babylon made many loath to leave it: so as to
ye . . . that bear . . . vessels of the Lord--the priests and Levites, whose office it was to carry the vessels of the temple (Jer 27:18). Nebuchadnezzar had carried them to Babylon (2Ch 36:18). Cyrus restored them (Ezr 1:7-11).
be . . . clean--by separating yourselves wholly from Babylonian idolaters, mystical and literal.
12. not . . . with haste--as when ye left Egypt
(Ex 12:33, 39;
compare Note, see on
Ye shall have time to cleanse yourselves and make deliberate
preparation for departure.
Lord--Jehovah, as your Leader in front (Isa 40:3; Ex 23:20; Mic 2:13).
rereward--literally, "gather up," that is, to bring up the rear of your host. The transition is frequent from the glory of Messiah in His advent to reign, to His humiliation in His advent to suffer. Indeed, so are both advents accounted one, that He is not said, in His second coming, to be about to return, but to come.
13. Here the fifty-third chapter ought to begin, and the fifty-second
chapter end with
This section, from here to end of the fifty-third chapter settles the
controversy with the Jews, if Messiah be the person meant; and with
infidels, if written by Isaiah, or at any time before Christ. The
correspondence with the life and death of Jesus Christ is so minute,
that it could not have resulted from conjecture or accident. An
impostor could not have shaped the course of events so as to
have made his character and life appear to be a fulfilment of it. The
writing is, moreover, declaredly prophetic. The quotations of it
in the New Testament show: (1) that it was, before the time of Jesus, a
recognized part of the Old Testament; (2) that it refers to Messiah
The indirect allusions to it still more clearly prove the Messianic
interpretation; so universal was that interpretation, that it is simply
referred to in connection with the atoning virtue of His death,
without being formally quoted
1Pe 1:19; 2:21-25;
The genuineness of the passage is certain; for the Jews would
not have forged it, since it is opposed to their notion of
Messiah, as a triumphant temporal prince. The Christians could
not have forged it; for the Jews, the enemies of Christianity, are "our
librarians" [PALEY]. The Jews try to evade its
force by the figment of two Messiahs, one a suffering Messiah (Ben
Joseph), the other a triumphant Messiah (Ben David). HILLEL maintained that Messiah has already come in the
person of Hezekiah. BUXTORF states that many of
the modern Rabbins believe that He has been come a good while, but will
not manifest Himself because of the sins of the Jews. But the ancient
Jews, as the Chaldee paraphrast, Jonathan, refer it to Messiah; so the
Medrasch Tauchuma (a commentary on the Pentateuch); also Rabbi
Moses Haddarschan (see HENGSTENBERG,
Christology of the Old Testament). Some explain it of the
Jewish people, either in the Babylonish exile, or in their present
sufferings and dispersion. Others, the pious portion of the
nation taken collectively, whose sufferings made a vicarious
satisfaction for the ungodly. Others, Isaiah, or Jeremiah [GESENIUS], the prophets collectively. But an
individual is plainly described: he suffers voluntarily,
innocently, patiently, and as the efficient cause of the
righteousness of His people, which holds good of none other but Messiah
(Isa 53:4-6, 9, 11;
Jer 20:7; 15:10-21;
Ps 137:8, 9).
can hold good of none other. The objection that the sufferings
referred to are represented as past, the glorification alone as
(Isa 52:13-15; 53:11, 12)
arises from not seeing that the prophet takes his stand in the
midst of the scenes which he describes as future. The greater
nearness of the first advent, and the interval between it and the
second, are implied by the use of the past tense as to the
first, the future as to the second.
Behold--awakening attention to the striking picture of Messiah that follows (compare Joh 19:5, 14).
my servant--Messiah (Isa 42:1).
deal prudently--rather, "prosper" [GESENIUS] as the parallel clause favors (Isa 53:10). Or, uniting both meanings, "shall reign well" [HENGSTENBERG]. This verse sets forth in the beginning the ultimate issue of His sufferings, the description of which follows: the conclusion (Isa 53:12) corresponds; the section (Isa 52:13; 53:12) begins as it ends with His final glory.
extolled--elevated (Mr 16:19; Eph 1:20-22; 1Pe 3:22).
14, 15. Summary of Messiah's history, which is set forth more in
detail in the fifty-third chapter. "Just as many were astonished
(accompanied with aversion,
Jer 18:16; 19:8),
&c.; his visage, &c.; so shall He sprinkle," &c.; Israel in this
answers to its antitype Messiah, now "an astonishment and
hereafter about to be a blessing and means of salvation to many nations
(Isa 2:2, 3;
thee; his--Such changes of persons are common in Hebrew poetry.
marred--Hebrew, "disfigurement"; abstract for concrete; not only disfigured, but disfigurement itself.
more than man--CASTALIO translates, "so that it was no longer that of a man" (compare Ps 22:6). The more perfect we may suppose the "body prepared" (Heb 10:5) for Him by God, the sadder by contrast was the "marring" of His visage and form.
15. sprinkle many--GESENIUS, for the antithesis to "be astonished,"
translates, "shall cause . . . to exult." But the word universally in
the Old Testament means either to sprinkle with blood, as the high
priest makes an expiation
(Le 4:6; 16:18, 19);
or with water, to purify
compare as to the Spirit,
both appropriate to Messiah
Heb 9:13, 14; 10:22; 12:24;
The antithesis is sufficient without any forced rendering. Many
were astonished; so many (not merely men, but) nations
shall be sprinkled. They were amazed at such an abject person
claiming to be Messiah; yet it is He who shall justify and
purify. Men were dumb with the amazement of scorn at one
marred more than the lowest of men, yet the highest: even
(Isa 49:7, 23)
shall be dumb with awe and veneration ("shut . . .
Job 29:9, 10;
that . . . not . . . told them--the reason why kings shall so venerate them; the wonders of redemption, which had not been before told them, shall then be announced to them, wonders such as they had never heard or seen parallelled (Isa 55:1; Ro 15:21; 16:25, 26).
Isa 53:1-12. MAN'S UNBELIEF: MESSIAH'S VICARIOUS SUFFERINGS, AND FINAL TRIUMPH FOR MAN.
The speaker, according to HORSLEY, personates the repenting Jews in the latter ages of the world coming over to the faith of the Redeemer; the whole is their penitent confession. This view suits the context (Isa 52:7-9), which is not to be fully realized until Israel is restored. However, primarily, it is the abrupt exclamation of the prophet: "Who hath believed our report," that of Isaiah and the other prophets, as to Messiah? The infidel's objection from the unbelief of the Jews is anticipated and hereby answered: that unbelief and the cause of it (Messiah's humiliation, whereas they looked for One coming to reign) were foreseen and foretold.
1. report--literally, "the thing heard," referring to which sense
Paul says, "So, then, faith cometh by hearing"
(Ro 10:16, 17).
arm--power (Isa 40:10); exercised in miracles and in saving men (Ro 1:16; 1Co 1:18). The prophet, as if present during Messiah's ministry on earth, is deeply moved to see how few believed on Him (Isa 49:4; Mr 6:6; 9:19; Ac 1:15). Two reasons are given why all ought to have believed: (1) The "report" of the "ancient prophets." (2) "The arm of Jehovah" exhibited in Messiah while on earth. In HORSLEY'S view, this will be the penitent confession of the Jews, "How few of our nation, in Messiah's days, believed in Him!"
2. tender plant--Messiah grew silently and insensibly, as a sucker
from an ancient stock, seemingly dead (namely, the house of David, then
in a decayed state)
shall grow . . . hath--rather, "grew up . . . had."
before him--before Jehovah. Though unknown to the world (Joh 1:11), Messiah was observed by God, who ordered the most minute circumstances attending His growth.
root--that is, sprout from a root.
form--beautiful form: sorrow had marred His once beautiful form.
and when we shall see--rather, joined with the previous words, "Nor comeliness (attractiveness) that we should look (with delight) on Him."
there is--rather, "was." The studied reticence of the New Testament as to His form, stature, color, &c., was designed to prevent our dwelling on the bodily, rather than on His moral beauty, holiness, love, &c., also a providential protest against the making and veneration of images of Him. The letter of P. LENTULUS to the emperor Tiberius, describing His person, is spurious; so also the story of His sending His portrait to Abgar, king of Edessa; and the alleged impression of His countenance on the handkerchief of Veronica. The former part of this verse refers to His birth and childhood; the latter to His first public appearance [VITRINGA].
3. rejected--"forsaken of men" [GESENIUS]. "Most abject of men." Literally, "He who
ceases from men," that is, is no longer regarded as a man
[HENGSTENBERG]. (See on
man of sorrows--that is, whose distinguishing characteristic was sorrows.
acquainted with--familiar by constant contact with.
grief--literally, "disease"; figuratively for all kinds of calamity (Jer 6:14); leprosy especially represented this, being a direct judgment from God. It is remarkable Jesus is not mentioned as having ever suffered under sickness.
and we hid . . . faces--rather, as one who causes men to hide their faces from Him (in aversion) [MAURER]. Or, "He was as an hiding of the face before it," that is, as a thing before which a man covers his face in disgust [HENGSTENBERG]. Or, "as one before whom is the covering of the face"; before whom one covers the face in disgust [GESENIUS].
we--the prophet identifying himself with the Jews. See HORSLEY'S view (see on Isa 53:1).
esteemed . . . not--negative contempt; the previous words express positive.
4. Surely . . . our griefs--literally, "But yet
He hath taken (or borne) our sicknesses," that is,
they who despised Him because of His human infirmities ought rather to
have esteemed Him on account of them; for thereby "Himself took
OUR infirmities" (bodily diseases). So
quotes it. In the Hebrew for "borne," or took, there is
probably the double notion, He took on Himself vicariously (so
Isa 53:5, 6, 8, 12),
and so He took away; His perfect humanity whereby He was bodily
afflicted for us, and in all our afflictions
was the ground on which He cured the sick; so that Matthew's quotation
is not a mere accommodation. See Note 42 of ARCHBISHOP MAGEE, Atonement.
The Hebrew there may mean to overwhelm with darkness;
Messiah's time of darkness was temporary
answering to the bruising of His heel; Satan's is to be eternal,
answering to the bruising of his head (compare
carried . . . sorrows--The notion of substitution strictly. "Carried," namely, as a burden. "Sorrows," that is, pains of the mind; as "griefs" refer to pains of the body (Ps 32:10; 38:17). Mt 8:17 might seem to oppose this: "And bare our sicknesses." But he uses "sicknesses" figuratively for sins, the cause of them. Christ took on Himself all man's "infirmities;" so as to remove them; the bodily by direct miracle, grounded on His participation in human infirmities; those of the soul by His vicarious suffering, which did away with the source of both. Sin and sickness are ethically connected as cause and effect (Isa 33:24; Ps 103:3; Mt 9:2; Joh 5:14; Jas 5:15).
we did esteem him stricken--judicially [LOWTH], namely, for His sins; whereas it was for ours. "We thought Him to be a leper" [JEROME, Vulgate], leprosy being the direct divine judgment for guilt (Le 13:1-59; Nu 12:10, 15; 2Ch 26:18-21).
smitten--by divine judgments.
afflicted--for His sins; this was the point in which they so erred (Lu 23:34; Ac 3:17; 1Co 2:8). He was, it is true, "afflicted," but not for His sins.
5. wounded--a bodily wound; not mere mental sorrow; literally,
"pierced"; minutely appropriate to Messiah, whose hands, feet, and side
The Margin, wrongly, from a Hebrew root, translates,
for . . . for-- (Ro 4:25; 2Co 5:21; Heb 9:28; 1Pe 2:24; 3:18) --the cause for which He suffered not His own, but our sins.
bruised--crushing inward and outward suffering (see on Isa 53:10).
chastisement--literally, the correction inflicted by a parent on children for their good (Heb 12:5-8, 10, 11). Not punishment strictly; for this can have place only where there is guilt, which He had not; but He took on Himself the chastisement whereby the peace (reconciliation with our Father; Ro 5:1; Eph 2:14, 15, 17) of the children of God was to be effected (Heb 2:14).
upon him--as a burden; parallel to "hath borne" and "carried."
stripes--minutely prophetical of His being scourged (Mt 27:26; 1Pe 2:24).
healed--spiritually (Ps 41:4; Jer 8:22).
6. Penitent confession of believers and of Israel in the last days
sheep . . . astray-- (Ps 119:176; 1Pe 2:25). The antithesis is, "In ourselves we were scattered; in Christ we are collected together; by nature we wander, driven headlong to destruction; in Christ we find the way to the gate of life" [CALVIN]. True, also, literally of Israel before its coming restoration (Eze 34:5, 6; Zec 10:2, 6; compare with Eze 34:23, 24; Jer 23:4, 5; also Mt 9:36).
laid--"hath made to light on Him" [LOWTH]. Rather, "hath made to rush upon Him" [MAURER].
the iniquity--that is, its penalty; or rather, as in 2Co 5:21; He was not merely a sin offering (which would destroy the antithesis to "righteousness"), but "sin for us"; sin itself vicariously; the representative of the aggregate sin of all mankind; not sins in the plural, for the "sin" of the world is one (Ro 5:16, 17); thus we are made not merely righteous, but righteousness, even "the righteousness of God." The innocent was punished as if guilty, that the guilty might be rewarded as if innocent. This verse could be said of no mere martyr.
translates, "It was exacted, and He was made
answerable." The verb means, "to have payment of a debt sternly exacted"
(De 15:2, 3),
and so to be oppressed in general; the exaction of the
full penalty for our sins in His sufferings is probably alluded to.
and . . . afflicted--or, and yet He suffered, or bore Himself patiently, &c. [HENGSTENBERG and MAURER]. LOWTH'S translation, "He was made answerable," is hardly admitted by the Hebrew.
opened not . . . mouth-- Jer 11:19; and David in Ps 38:13, 14; 39:9, prefiguring Messiah (Mt 26:63; 27:12, 14; 1Pe 2:23).
8. Rather, "He was taken away (that is, cut off) by oppression and by a judicial sentence"; a hendiadys for, "by an oppressive judicial sentence" [LOWTH and HENGSTENBERG]. GESENIUS not so well, "He was delivered from oppression and punishment" only by death. English Version also translates, "from . . . from," not "by . . . by." But "prison" is not true of Jesus, who was not incarcerated;