Biblical commentary the Old Testament/Volume V. Greater Prophets/Isaiah 28-66

Biblical commentary the Old Testament  (1892)  by Franz Delitzsch
Isaiah 28-66

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Book of Woes or Historical Discourses Relating to Asshur and the Egyptian Alliance - Isaiah 28-33 part v Edit

These chapters carry us to the earliest years of Hezekiah's reign, probably to the second and third; as Samaria has not yet been destroyed. They run parallel to the book of Micah, which also takes its start from the destruction of Samaria, and are as faithful a mirror of the condition of the people under Hezekiah, as chapters 7-12 were of their condition under Ahaz. The time of Ahaz was characterized by a spiritless submission to the Assyrian yoke; that of Hezekiah by a casual striving after liberty. The people tried to throw off the yoke of Assyria; not with confidence in Jehovah, however, but in reliance upon the help of Egypt. This Egypticizing policy is traced step by step by Isaiah, in chapters 28-32. The gradual rise of these addresses may be seen from the fact, that they follow the gradual growth of the alliance with Egypt through all its stages, until it is fully concluded. By the side of this casual ground of trust, which Jehovah will sweep away, the prophet exhibits the precious corner-stone in Zion as the true, firm ground of confidence. We might therefore call these chapters (Isaiah 28-33) “the book of the precious corner-stone,” just as we called chapters 7-12 “the book of Immanuel.” But the prophecy in Isa 28:16

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does not determine and mould the whole of this section, in the same manner in which the other section is moulded and governed by the prophecy of the Son of the Virgin. We therefore prefer to call this cycle of prophecy “the book of woes;” for censure and threatening are uttered here in repeated utterances of “woe,” not against Israel only, but more especially against Judah and Jerusalem, until at last, in chapter 33, the “hoi concerning Jerusalem” is changed into a “hoi concerning Asshur.” All the independent and self-contained addresses in this cycle of prophecy commence with hoi (“woe:” chapters 28, 29, 30, 31-32, 33). The section which does not begin with hoi (viz., Isa 32:9-20) is the last and dependent part of the long address commencing with Isa 31:1. On the other hand, Isa 29:15-24 also commences with hoi, though it does not form a distinct address in itself, since chapter 29 forms a complete whole. The subdivisions of the sections, therefore, have not a uniform commencement throughout; but the separate and independent addresses all commence with hoi. The climax of these prophecies of woe is chapter 30. Up to this point the exclamation of woe gradually ascends, but in chapters 31-32 it begins to fall; and in chapter 33 (which contains an epilogue that was only added in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah's reign) it has changed into the very opposite. The prophet begins with hoi, but it is a woe concerning the devastator. This utmost woe, however, was not fulfilled at the point of time when the fulfilment of “the utmost” predicted in chapters 28-32 was apparently close at hand; but Jerusalem, though threatened with destruction, was miraculously saved. Yet the prophet had not merely to look on, as Jonah had. He himself predicted this change in the purpose of God, inasmuch as the direction of the “woe” in his mouth is altered, like that of the wrath of God, which turns from Jerusalem to Asshur, and destroys it.

Chap. 28 Edit

Verse 1 Edit

Isaiah, like Micah, commences with the fall of the proud and intoxicated Samaria. “Woe to the proud crown of the drunken of Ephraim, and to the fading flower of its splendid

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ornament, which is upon the head of the luxuriant valley of those slain with wine.” The allusion is to Samaria, which is called (1.) “the pride-crown of the drunken of Ephraim,” i.e., the crown of which the intoxicated and blinded Ephraimites were proud (Isa 29:9; Isa 19:14), and (2.) “the fading flower” (on the expression itself, compare Isa 1:30; Isa 40:7-8) “of the ornament of his splendour,” i.e., the flower now fading, which had once been the ornament with which they made a show. This flower stood “upon the head of the valley of fatnesses of those slain with wine” (cf., Isa 16:8), i.e., of the valley so exuberant with fruitfulness, belonging to the Ephraimites, who were thoroughly enslaved by wine. Samaria stood upon a beautiful swelling hill, which commanded the whole country round in a most regal way (Amo 4:1; Amo 6:1), in the centre of a large basin, of about two hours' journey in diameter, shut in by a gigantic circle of still loftier mountains (Amo 3:9). The situation was commanding; the hill terraced up to the very top; and the surrounding country splendid and fruitful (Ritter, Erdkunde, xvi. 660, 661). The expression used by the prophet is intentionally bombastic. He heaps genitives upon genitives, as in Isa 10:12; Isa 21:17. The words are linked together in pairs. Shemânı̄m (fatnesses) has the absolute form, although it is annexed to the following word, the logical relation overruling the syntactical usage (compare Isa 32:13; 1Ch 9:13). The sesquipedalia verba are intended to produce the impression of excessive worldly luxuriance and pleasure, upon which the woe is pronounced. The epithet nōbhēl (fading: possibly a genitive, as in Isa 28:4), which is introduced here into the midst of this picture of splendour, indicates that all this splendour is not only destined to fade, but is beginning to fade already.

Verses 2-4 Edit

In the next three vv. the hoi is expanded. “Behold, the Lord holds a strong and mighty thing like a hailstorm, a pestilent tempest; like a storm of mighty overflowing waters, He casts down to the earth with almighty hand. With feet they tread down the proud crown of the drunken of Ephraim. And it happens to the fading flower of its splendid ornament, which is upon the head of the luxuriant valley, as to an early fig before it is harvest, which whoever sees it looks at, and it is no sooner in his hand than he swallows it.” “A strong and mighty thing:” ואמּי חזק we have rendered in the neuter (with the lxx

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and Targum) rather than in the masculine, as Luther does, although the strong and mighty thing which the Lord holds in readiness is no doubt the Assyrian. He is simply the medium of punishment in the hand of the Lord, which is called yâd absolutely, because it is absolute in power - as it were, the hand of all hands. This hand hurls Samaria to the ground (on the expression itself, compare Isa 25:12; Isa 26:5), so that they tread the proud crown to pieces with their feet (tērâmasnâh, the more pathetic plural form, instead of the singular tērâmēs; Ges. 47, Anm. 3, and Caspari on Oba 1:13). The noun sa‛ar, which is used elsewhere in the sense of shuddering, signifies here, like סערה, an awful tempest; and when connected with קטב, a tempest accompanied with a pestilential blast, spreading miasma. Such destructive power is held by the absolute hand. It is soon all over then with the splendid flower that has already begun to fade נבל ציצת, like הקּטן כּלי in Isa 22:24). It happens to it as to a bikkūrâh (according to the Masora, written with mappik here, as distinguished from Hos 9:10, equivalent to kebhikkūrâthâh; see Job 11:9, “like an early fig of this valley;” according to others, it is simply euphonic). The gathering of figs takes place about August. Now, if any one sees a fig as early as June, he fixes his eyes upon it, and hardly touches it with his hand before he swallows it, and that without waiting to masticate it long. Like such a dainty bit will the luxuriant Samaria vanish. The fact that Shalmanassar, or his successor Sargon, did not conquer Samaria till after the lapse of three years (2Ki 18:10), does not detract from the truth of the prophecy; it is enough that both the thirst of the conqueror and the utter destruction of Samaria answered to it.

Verses 5-6 Edit

The threat is now followed by a promise. This is essentially the same in character as Isa 4:2-6. The place of the false glory thus overthrown is now filled by a glory that is divine and true. “In that day will Jehovah of hosts be the adorning crown and the splendid diadem to the remnant of His people; and the spirit of justice to them that sit on the judgment-seat, and heroic strength to them that drive back war at the gate.” “The remnant of His people” (שׁאר with a fixed kametz, as in Isa 21:17) is not Judah, as distinguished from Ephraim that had utterly perished; but Judah and the remaining

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portion of Ephraim, as distinguished from the portion which had perished. After the perishable thin in which they gloried had been swept away, the eternal person of Jehovah Himself would be the ornament and pride of His people. He, the Lord of the seven spirits (Isa 11:1), would be to this remnant of His people the spirit of right and heroic strength. There would be an end to unjust judging and powerless submission. The judges are called “those who sit ‛al-hammishpât” in the sense of “on the seat of judgment” (Psa 9:5; Psa 122:5); the warriors are called “those who press back milchâmâh shâ‛râh” (war at the gate), i.e., either war that has reached their own gate (Isa 22:7), or war which they drive back as far as the gate of the enemy (2Sa 11:23; 1 Macc. 5:22). The promise in this last passage corresponds to Mic 5:4-5. The athnach in Isa 28:6 ought to stand at hammishpât; the second clause of the v. may be completed from the first, ולגבוּרה being equivalent to גבורה ולרוח, and משיבי to למישבי. We might regard 2 Chron 30 as a fulfilment of what is predicted in Isa 28:6, if the feast of passover there described really fell in the age succeeding the fall of Samaria; for this feast of passover did furnish a representation and awaken a consciousness of that national unity which had been interrupted from the time of Rehoboam. But if we read the account in the Chronicles with unprejudiced minds, it is impossible to shut our eyes to the fact that this feast of passover took place in the second month of the first year of Hezekiah's reign, and therefore not after the depopulation of the northern kingdom by Shalmanassar, but after the previous and partial depopulation by Tiglath-pileser. In fact, the fulfilment cannot be looked for at all in the space between the sixth and fourteenth years of Hezekiah, since the condition of Judah during that time does not answer at all to the promises given above. The prophet here foretells what might be hoped for, when Asshur had not only humbled Ephraim, but Judah also. The address consists of two connected halves, the promising beginnings of which point to one and the same future, and lay hold of one another.

Verses 7-8 Edit

With the words, “and they also,” the prophet commences the second half of the address, and passes from Ephraim to Judah. “And they also reel with wine, and are giddy with meth;

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priest and prophet reel with meth, are swallowed up by wine: they are giddy with meth, reel when seeing visions, stagger when pronouncing judgment. For all tables are full of filthy vomit, without any more place.” The Judaeans are not less overcome with wine than the Ephraimites, and especially the rulers of Judah. In wicked violation of the law of God, which prohibited the priests from drinking strong drink when performing priestly service, and that on pain of death (Lev 10:9, cf., Eze 44:21), they were intoxicated even in the midst of their prophetic visions (הראה, literally “the thing seeing,” then the act of seeing; equivalent to ראי, like חזה in Isa 28:15 = חזוּת; Olshausen, §176,c), and when passing judicial sentences. In the same way Micah also charges the prophets and priests with being drunkards (Mic 3:1., cf., Isa 2:11). Isaiah's indignation is manifested in the fact, that in the words which he uses he imitates the staggering and stumbling of the topers; like the well-known passage, Sta pes sta mi pes stas pes ne labere mi pes. Observe, for example, the threefold repetition of shâgu - tâghu, shâgu - tâghu, shâgu - pâqu. The hereditary priests and the four prophets represent the whole of the official personages. The preterites imply that drunkenness had become the fixed habit of the holders of these offices. The preposition בּ indicates the cause (“through,” as in 2Sa 13:28 and Est 1:10), and min the effect proceeding from the cause (in consequence of wine). In v. 8 we can hear them vomit. We have the same combination of the and צ in the verb kotzen, Gothic kozan. All the tables of the carousal are full, without there being any further room (cf., Isa 5:8); everything swims with vomit. The prophet paints from nature, here without idealizing. He receives their conduct as it were in a mirror, and then in the severest tones holds up this mirror before them, adults though they were.

Verses 9-10 Edit

Isa 28:9-10“Whom then would he teach knowledge? And to whom make preaching intelligible? To those weaned from the milk? To those removed from the breast? For precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, a little here, a little there!” They sneer at the prophet, that intolerable moralist. They are of age, and free; and he does not need to bring knowledge to them (da‛ath as in Isa 11:9), or make them understand the proclamation. They know of old to what he would lead.

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Are they little children that have just been weaned (on the constructives, see Isa 9:2; Isa 5:11; Isa 30:18; Ges. §114, 1), and who must let themselves be tutored? For the things he preaches are nothing but endless petty teazings. The short words (tsâv, as in Hos 5:11), together with the diminutive זעיר (equivalent to the Arabic sugayyir, mean, from sagı̄r, small), are intended to throw ridicule upon the smallness and vexatious character of the prophet's interminable and uninterrupted chidings, as ל (= על, אל; comp. יסף ל, Isa 26:15) implies that they are; just as the philosophers in Act 17:18 call Paul a σπερμολόγος, a collector of seeds, i.e., a dealer in trifles. And in the repetition of the short words we may hear the heavy babbling language of the drunken scoffers.

Verses 11-13 Edit

The prophet takes the ki (“for”) out of their mouths, and carries it on in his own way. It was quite right that their ungodliness should show itself in such a way as this, for it would meet with an appropriate punishment. “For through men stammering in speech, and through a strange tongue, will He speak to this people. He who said to them, There is rest, give rest to weary ones, and there is refreshing! But they would not hear. Therefore the word of Jehovah becomes to them precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, a little here, a little there, that they may go and stumble backwards, and be wrecked to pieces, and be snared and taken.” Jehovah would speak to the scoffing people of stammering tongue a language of the same kind, since He would speak to them by a people that stammered in their estimation, i.e., who talked as barbarians (cf., βαρβαρίζειν and balbutire; see Isa 33:19, compared with Deu 28:49). The Assyrian Semitic had the same sound in the ear of an Israelite, as Low Saxon (a provincial dialect) in the ear of an educated German; in addition to which, it was plentifully mixed up with Iranian, and possibly also with Tatar elements. This people would practically interpret the will of Jehovah in its own patios to the despisers of the prophet. Jehovah had directed them, through His prophets, after the judgments which they had experienced with sufficient severity (Isa 1:5.), into the true way to rest and refreshing (Jer 6:16), and had exhorted them to give rest to the nation, which had suffered so much under Ahaz through the calamities of war (2 Chron 28), and not

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to drag it into another way by goading it on to rise against Assyria, or impose a new burden in addition to the tribute to Assyria by purchasing the help of Egypt. But they would not hearken (אבוּא = אבוּ, Isa 30:15-16; Ges. §23, 3, Anm. 3). Their policy was a very different one from being still, or believing and waiting. And therefore the word of Jehovah, which they regarded as en endless series of trivial commands, would be turned in their case into an endless series of painful sufferings. To those who thought themselves so free, and lived so free, it would become a stone on which they would go to pieces, a net in which they would be snared, a trap in which they would be caught (compare Isa 8:14-15).

Verses 14-17 Edit

The prophet now directly attacks the great men of Jerusalem, and holds up a Messianic prophecy before their eyes, which turns its dark side to them, as chapter 7 did to Ahaz. “Therefore hear the word of Jehovah, ye scornful lords, rulers of this people which is in Jerusalem! For ye say, We have made a covenant with death, and with Hades have we come to an agreement. The swelling scourge, when it cometh hither, will do us no harm; for we have made a lie our shelter, and in deceit have we hidden ourselves. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I am He who hath laid in Zion a stone, a stone of trial, a precious corner-stone of well-founded founding; whoever believes will not have to move. And I make justice the line, and righteousness the level; and hail sweeps away the refuge of lies, and the hiding-place is washed away by waters.” With lâkhēn (therefore) the announcement of punishment is once more suspended; and in Isa 28:16 it is resumed again, the exposition of the sin being inserted between, before the punishment is declared. Their sin is lâtsōn, and this free-thinking scorn rests upon a proud and insolent self-confidence, which imagines that there is no necessity to fear death and hell; and this self-confidence has for its secret reserve the alliance to be secretly entered into with Egypt against Assyria. What the prophet makes them say here, they do not indeed say exactly in this form; but this is the essential substance of the carnally devised thoughts and words of the rulers of the people of Jerusalem, as manifest to the Searcher of hearts. Jerusalem, the city of Jehovah, and such princes as these, who either proudly ignore Jehovah, or throw Him off as useless, what a

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contrast! Chōzeh, and châzūth in Isa 28:18, signify an agreement, either as a decision or completion (from the radical meaning of the verb châzâh), or as a choice, beneplacitum (like the Arabic ray), or as a record, i.e., the means of selecting (like the talmudic châzı̄th, a countersign, a ra'ăyâh, a proof or argument: Luzzatto). In shōt shōtēph (“the swelling scourge,” chethib שׁיט), the comparison of Asshur to a flood (Isa 28:2, Isa 28:8, Isa 28:7), and the comparison of it to a whip or scourge, are mixed together; and this is all the more allowable, because a whip, when smacked, really does move in waving lines (compare Jer 8:6, where shâtaph is applied to the galloping of a war-horse). The chethib עבר in Isa 28:15 (for which the keri reads יעבר, according to Isa 28:19) is to be read עבר (granting that it shall have passed, or that it passes); and there is no necessity for any emendation. The Egyptian alliance for which they are suing, when designated according to its true ethical nature, is sheqer (lie) and kâzâb (falsehood); compare 2Ki 17:4 (where we ought perhaps to read sheqer for qesher, according to the lxx), and more especially Eze 17:15., from which it is obvious that the true prophets regarded self-willed rebellion even against heathen rule as a reprehensible breach of faith.
The lâkhēn (therefore), which is resumed in Isa 28:16, is apparently followed as strangely as in Isa 7:14, by a promise instead of a threat. But this is only apparently the case. It is unquestionably a promise; but as the last clause, “he that believeth will not flee,” i.e., will stand firm, clearly indicates, it is a promise for believers alone. For those to whom the prophet is speaking here the promise is a threat, a savour of death unto death. Just as on a former occasion, when Ahaz refused to ask for a sign, the prophet announced to him a sign of Jehovah's own selection; so here Jehovah opposes to the false ground of confidence on which the leaders relied, the foundation stone laid in Zion, which would bear the believing in immoveable safety, but on which the unbelieving would be broken to pieces (Mat 21:44). This stone is called ‘ebhen boochan, a stone of proving, i.e., a proved and self-proving stone. Then follow other epithets in a series commencing anew with pinnath = ‘ebhen pinnath (compare Psa 118:22): angulus h. e. lapis angularis pretiositatis fundationis fundatae. It is a corner-stone, valuable in itself (on yiqrath, compare 1Ki 5:17),

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and affording the strongest foundation and inviolable security to all that is built upon it (mūsâd a substantive in form like mūsâr, and mūssâd a hophal participle in the form of those of the verba contracta pe yod). This stone was not the Davidic sovereignty, but the true seed of David which appeared in Jesus (Rom 9:33; 1Pe 2:6-7). The figure of a stone is not opposed to the personal reference, since the prophet in Isa 8:14 speaks even of Jehovah Himself under the figure of a stone. The majestically unique description renders it quite impossible that Hezekiah can be intended. Micah, whose book forms the side piece of this cycle of prophecy, also predicted, under similar historical circumstances, the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem Ephratah (Mic 5:1). What Micah expresses in the words, “His goings forth are from of old,” is indicated here in the preterite yissad connected with hineni (the construction is similar to that in Oba 1:2; Eze 25:7; compare Isa 28:2 above, and Jer 49:15; Jer 23:19). It denotes that which has been determined by Jehovah, and therefore is as good as accomplished. What is historically realized has had an eternal existence, and indeed an ideal pre-existence even in the heart of history itself (Isa 22:11; Isa 25:1; Isa 37:26). Ever since there had been a Davidic government at all, this stone had lain in Zion. The Davidic monarchy not only had in this its culminating point, but the ground of its continuance also. It was not only the Omega, but also the Alpha. Whatever escaped from wrath, even under the Old Testament, stood upon this stone. This (as the prophet predicts in יסהישׁ לא המּאמין יחישׁ׃ the fut. kal) would be the stronghold of faith in the midst of the approaching Assyrian calamities (cf., Isa 7:9); and faith would be the condition of life (Hab 2:4). But against unbelievers Jehovah would proceed according to His punitive justice. He would make this (justice and righteousness, mishpât and tsedâqâh) a norm, i.e., a line and level. A different turn, however, is given to qâv, with a play upon Isa 28:10, Isa 28:11. What Jehovah is about to do is depicted as a building which He is carrying out, and which He will carry out, so far as the despisers are concerned, on no other plan than that of strict retribution. His punitive justice comes like a hailstorm and like a flood (cf., Isa 28:2; Isa 10:22). The hail smites the refuge of lies of the great men of Jerusalem, and

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clears it away (יעה, hence יע, a shovel); and the flood buries their hiding-place in the waters, and carries it away (the accentuation should be סתר tifchah, מים mercha).

Verses 18-20 Edit

And the whip which Jehovah swings will not be satisfied with one stroke, but will rain strokes. “And your covenant with death is struck out, and your agreement with Hades will not stand; the swelling scourge, when it comes, ye will become a thing trodden down to it. As often as it passes it takes you: for every morning it passes, by day and by night; and it is nothing but shuddering to hear such preaching. For the bed is too short to stretch in, and the covering too tight when a man wraps himself in it.” Although berı̄th is feminine, the predicate to it is placed before it in the masculine form (Ges. §144). The covenant is thought of as a document; for khuppar (for obliterari (just as the kal is used in Gen 6:14 in the sense of oblinere; or in Pro 30:20, the Targum, and the Syriac, in the sense of abstergere; and in the Talmud frequently in the sense of wiping off = qinnēăch, or wiping out = mâchaq - which meanings all go back, along with the meaning negare, to the primary meaning, tegere, obducere). The covenant will be “struck out,” as you strike out a wrong word, by crossing it over with ink and rendering it illegible. They fancy that they have fortified themselves against death and Hades; but Jehovah gives to both of these unlimited power over them. When the swelling scourge shall come, they will become to it as mirmâs, i.e., they will be overwhelmed by it, and their corpses become like dirt of the streets (Isa 10:6; Isa 5:5); והייתם has the mercha upon the penult., according to the older editions and the smaller Masora on Lev 8:26, the tone being drawn back on account of the following לו. The strokes of the scourge come incessantly, and every stroke sweeps them, i.e., many of them, away. מדּי (from דּי, construct דּי, sufficiency, abundance) followed by the infinitive, quotiescunque irruet; lâqach, auferre, as in Jer 15:15, and in the idiom lâqach nephesh. These scourgings without end - what a painful lecture Jehovah is reading them! This is the thought expressed in the concluding words: for the meaning cannot be, that “even (raq as in Psa 32:6) the report (of such a fate) is alarming,” as Grotius and others explain it; or the report is nothing but alarming, as Gussetius and others

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interpret it, since in that case שׁמועה שׁמע (cf., Isa 23:5) would have been quite sufficient, instead of שׁמוּעה הבין. There is no doubt that the expression points back to the scornful question addressed by the debauchees to the prophet in Isa 28:9, “To whom will he make preaching intelligible?” i.e., to whom will he preach the word of God in an intelligible manner? (as if they did not possess bı̄nâh without this; שׁמוּעה, ἀκοή, as in Isa 53:1). As Isa 28:11 affirmed that Jehovah would take up the word against them, the drunken stammerers, through a stammering people; so here the scourging without end is called the shemū‛âh, or sermon, which Jehovah preaches to them. At the same time, the word hâbhı̄n is not causative here, as in Isa 28:9, viz., “to give to understand,” but signifies simply “to understand,” or have an inward perception. To receive into one's comprehension such a sermon as that which was now being delivered to them, was raq-zevâ‛âh, nothing but shaking or shuddering (raq as in Gen 6:5); זוּע (from which comes זועה, or by transposition זעוה) is applied to inward shaking as well as to outward tossing to and fro. Jerome renders it “tantummodo sola vexatio intellectum dabit auditui,” and Luther follows him thus: “but the vexation teaches to take heed to the word,” as if the reading were תּבין. The alarming character of the lecture is depicted in Isa 28:20, in a figure which was probably proverbial. The situation into which they are brought is like a bed too short for a man to stretch himself in (min as in 2Ki 6:1), and like a covering which, according to the measure of the man who covers himself up in it (or perhaps still better in a temporal sense, “when a man covers or wraps himself up in it,” cf., Isa 18:4), is too narrow or too tight. So would it be in their case with the Egyptian treaty, in which they fancied that there were rest and safety for them. They would have to acknowledge its insufficiency. They had made themselves a bed, and procured bed-clothes; but how mistaken they had been in the measure, how miserably and ridiculously they had miscalculated!

Verse 21 Edit

It would be with them as it was with the Philistines when David turned their army into water at Baal-perazim (2Sa 5:20; 1Ch 14:11), or when on another occasion he drove them before him from Gibeon to Gezer (1Ch 14:13.).

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“For Jehovah will rise up as in the mountain of Perazim, and be wroth as in the valley at Gibeon to work His work; astonishing is His work; and to act His act: strange is His act.” The Targum wrongly supposes the first historical reminiscence to refer to the earthquake in the time of Uzziah, and the second to Joshua's victory over the Amorites. The allusion really is to the two shameful defeats which David inflicted upon the Philistines. There was a very good reason why victories over the Philistines especially should serve as similes. The same fate awaited the Philistines at the hands of the Assyrians, as predicted by the prophet in Isa 14:28. (cf., Isa 20:1-6). And the strangeness and verity of Jehovah's work were just this, that it would fare no better with the magnates of Judah at the hand of Asshur, than it had with the Philistines at the hand of David on both those occasions. The very same thing would now happen to the people of the house of David as formerly to its foes. Jehovah would have to act in opposition to His gracious purpose. He would have to act towards His own people as He once acted towards their foes. This was the most paradoxical thing of all that they would have to experience.

Verse 22 Edit

But the possibility of repentance was still open to them, and at least a modification of what had been threatened was attainable. “And now drive ye not mockeries, lest your fetters be strengthened; for I have heard from the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, a judgment of destruction, and an irrevocable one, upon the whole earth.” It is assumed that they are already in fetters, namely, the fetters of Asshur (Nah 1:13). Out of these fetters they wanted to escape by a breach of faith, and with the help of Egypt without Jehovah, and consequently they mocked at the warnings of the prophet. He therefore appeals to them at any rate to stop their mocking, lest they should fall out of the bondage in which they now ere, into one that would bind them still more closely, and lest the judgment should become even more severe than it would otherwise be. For it was coming without fail. It might be modified, and with thorough repentance they might even escape; but that it would come, and that upon the whole earth, had been revealed to the prophet by Jehovah of hosts. This was the shemū‛âh which the prophet had heard from Jehovah, and which he gave them to

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hear and understand, though hitherto he had only been scoffed at by their wine-bibbing tongues.

Verses 23-26 Edit

Isa 28:23-26 The address of the prophet is here apparently closed. But an essential ingredient is still wanting to the second half, to make it correspond to the first. There is still wanting the fringe of promise coinciding with Isa 28:5, Isa 28:6. The prophet has not only to alarm the scoffers, that if possible he may pluck some of them out of the fire through fear (Jdg 5:23); he has also to comfort believers, who yield themselves as disciples to him and to the word of God (Isa 8:16). He does this here in a very peculiar manner. He has several times assumed the tone of the mashal, more especially in chapter 26; but here the consolation is dressed up in a longer parabolical address, which sets forth in figures drawn from husbandry the disciplinary and saving wisdom of God. Isaiah here proves himself a master of the mashal. In the usual tone of a mashal song, he first of all claims the attention of his audience as a teacher of wisdom. V. 23 “Lend me your ear, and hear my voice; attend, and hear my address!” Attention is all the more needful, that the prophet leaves his hearers to interpret and apply the parable themselves. The work of a husbandman is very manifold, as he tills, sows, and plants his field. Vv. 24-26 “Does the ploughman plough continually to sow? to furrow and to harrow his land? Is it not so: when he levels the surface thereof, he scatters black poppy seed, and strews cummin, and puts in wheat in rows, and barley in the appointed piece, and spelt on its border? And He has instructed him how to act rightly: his God teaches it him.” The ploughing (chârash) which opens the soil, i.e., turns it up in furrows, and the harrowing (siddēd) which breaks the clods, take place to prepare for the sowing, and therefore not interminably, but only so long as it necessary to prepare the soil to receive the seed. When the seed-furrows have been drawn in the levelled surface of the ground (shivvâh), then the sowing and planting begin; and this also takes place in various ways, according to the different kinds of fruit. Qetsach is the black poppy (nigella sativa, Arab. habbe soda, so called from its black seeds), belonging to the ranunculaceae. Kammōn was the cummin (cuminum cyminum) with larger aromatic seeds, Ar. kammūn, neither of them our common carraway (Kümmel, carum). The wheat he sows

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carefully in rows (sōrâh, ordo; ad ordinem, as it is translated by Jerome), i.e., he does not scatter it about carelessly, like the other two, but lays the grains carefully in the furrows, because otherwise when they sprang up they would get massed together, and choke one another. Nismân, like sōrâh, is an acc. loci: the barley is sown in a piece of the field specially marked off for it, or specially furnished with signs (sı̄mânı̄m); and kussemeth, the spelt (ζειά, also mentioned by Homer, Od. iv 604, between wheat and barley), along the edge of it, so that spelt forms the rim of the barley field. It is by a divine instinct that the husbandman acts in this manner; for God, who established agriculture at the creation (i.e., Jehovah, not Osiris), has also given men understanding. This is the meaning of v'yisserō lammishpât: and (as we may see from all this) He (his God: the subject is given afterwards in the second clause) has led him (Pro 31:1) to the right (this is the rendering adopted by Kimchi, whilst other commentators have been misled by Jer 30:11, and last of all Malbim Luzzatto, “Cosi Dio con giustizia corregge;” he would have done better, however, to say, con moderazione).

Verses 27-29 Edit

Again, the labour of the husbandman is just as manifold after the reaping has been done. “For the black poppy is not threshed with a threshing sledge, nor is a cart wheel rolled over cummin; but black poppy is knocked out with a stick, and cummin with a staff. Is bread corn crushed? No; he does not go on threshing it for ever, and drive the wheel of his cart and his horses over it: he does not crush it. This also, it goeth forth from Jehovah of hosts: He gives wonderful intelligence, high understanding.” Ki (for) introduces another proof that the husbandman is instructed by God, from what he still further does. He does not use the threshing machine (chârūts, syn. mōrag, Ar. naureg, nōreg), or the threshing cart (agâlâh: see Winer's Real-Wörterbuch, art. Dreschen), which would entirely destroy the more tender kinds of fruit, but knocks them out with a staff (baculo excutit: see at Isa 27:12). The sentence lechem yūdâq is to be accentuated as an interrogative: Is bread corn crushed? Oh no, he does not crush it. This would be the case if he were to cause the wheel (i.e., the wheels, gilgal, constr. to galgal) of the threshing cart with the horses harnessed in front to rattle over it with all their might (hâmam, to set in noisy

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violent motion). Lechem, like the Greek sitos, is corn from which bread is made (Isa 30:23; Psa 104:14). אדושׁ is metaplastic (as if from אדשׁ) for דושׁ (see Ewald, §312,b). Instead of וּפרשׁיו, the pointing ought to be וּפרשׁיו (from פרשׁ with kametz before the tone = Arab. faras, as distinguished from פרשׁ with a fixed kametz, equivalent to farras, a rider): “his horses,” here the threshing horses, which were preferred to asses and oxen.Even in this treatment of the fruit when reaped, there is an evidence of the wonderful intelligence (הפלא), as written הפלא) and exalted understanding (on תּוּשׁהיה, from ושׁי, see at Job 26:3) imparted by God. The expression is one of such grandeur, that we perceive at once that the prophet has in his mind the wisdom of God in a higher sphere. The wise, divinely inspired course adopted by the husbandman in the treatment of the field and fruit, is a type of the wise course adopted by the divine Teacher Himself in the treatment of His nation. Israel is Jehovah's field. The punishments and chastisements of Jehovah are the ploughshare and harrow, with which He forcibly breaks up, turns over, and furrows this field. But this does not last for ever. When the field has been thus loosened, smoothed, and rendered fertile once more, the painful process of ploughing is followed by a beneficent sowing and planting in a multiform and wisely ordered fulness of grace. Again, Israel is Jehovah's child of the threshing-floor (see Isa 21:10). He threshes it; but He does not thresh it only: He also knocks; and when He threshes, He does not continue threshing for ever, i.e., as Caspari has well explained it, “He does not punish all the members of the nation with the same severity; and those whom He punishes with greater severity than others He does not punish incessantly, but as soon as His end is attained, and the husks of sin are separated from those that have been punished, and the punishment ceases, and only the worst in the nation, who are nothing but husks, and the husks on the nation itself, are swept away by the punishments” (compare Isa 1:25; Isa 29:20-21). This is the solemn lesson and affectionate consolation hidden behind the veil of the parable. Jehovah punishes, but it is in order that He may be able to bless. He sifts, but He does not destroy. He does not thresh His own people, but He knocks them; and even when He threshes, they may console themselves in the face of the

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approaching period of judgment, that they are never crushed or injured.

Chap. 29 Edit

Verses 1-4 Edit

The prophecy here passes from the fall of Samaria, the crown of flowers (Isa 28:1-4), to its formal parallel. Jerusalem takes its place by the side of Samaria, the crown of flowers, and under the emblem of a hearth of God. ‘Arı̄'ēl might, indeed, mean a lion of God. It occurs in this sense as the name of certain Moabitish heroes (2Sa 23:20; 1Ch 11:22), and Isaiah himself used the shorter form אראל for the heroes of Judah (Isa 33:7). But as אריאל (God's heart, interchanged with הראל htiw degna, God's height) is the name given in Eze 43:15-16, to the altar of burnt-offering in the new temple, and as Isaiah could not say anything more characteristic of Jerusalem, than that Jehovah had a fire and hearth there (Isa 31:9); and, moreover, as Jerusalem the city and community within the city would have been compared to a lioness rather than a lion, we take אריאל in the sense of ara Dei (from ארה, to burn). The prophet commences in his own peculiar way with a grand summary introduction, which passes in a few gigantic strides over the whole course from threatening to promise. Isa 29:1 “Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the castle where David pitched his tent! Add year to year, let the feasts revolve: then I distress Ariel, and there is groaning and moaning; and so she proves herself to me as Ariel.” By the fact that David fixed his headquarters in Jerusalem, and then brought the sacred ark thither, Jerusalem became a hearth of God. Within a single year, after only one more round of feasts (to be interpreted according to Isa 32:10, and probably spoken at the passover), Jehovah would make Jerusalem a besieged city, full of sighs (vahătsı̄qōthı̄, perf. cons., with the tone upon the ultimate); but “she becomes to me like an Arı̄el,” i.e., being qualified through me, she will prove herself a hearth of God, by consuming the foes like a furnace, or by their meeting with their destruction at Jerusalem, like wood piled up on the altar and then consumed in flame. The prophecy has thus passed over the whole ground in a few majestic words. It now starts

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from the very beginning again, and first of all expands the hoi. Isa 29:3, Isa 29:4 “And I encamp in a circle round about thee, and surround thee with watch-posts, and erect tortoises against thee. And when brought down thou wilt speak from out of the ground, and thy speaking will sound low out of the dust; and thy voice cometh up like that of a demon from the ground, and thy speaking will whisper out of the dust.” It would have to go so far with Ariel first of all, that it would be besieged by a hostile force, and would lie upon the ground in the greatest extremity, and then would whisper with a ghostlike softness, like a dying man, or like a spirit without flesh and bones. Kaddūr signifies sphaera, orbis, as in Isa 22:18 and in the Talmud (from kâdar = kâthar; cf., kudur in the name Nabu-kudur-ussur, Nebo protect the crown, κίδαριν), and is used here poetically for סביב. Jerome renders it quasi sphaeram (from dūr, orbis). מצּב (from נצב, יצב) might signify “firmly planted” (Luzzatto, immobilmente; compare shūth, Isa 2:7); but according to the parallel it signifies a military post, like מצּב, נציב. Metsurōth (from mâtsōr, Deu 20:20) are instruments of siege, the nature of which can only be determined conjecturally. On ‘ōbh, see Isa 8:19;[1] there is no necessity to take it as standing for ba‛al 'ōbh.

Verses 5-8 Edit

Thus far does the unfolding of the hoi reach. Now follows an unfolding of the words of promise, which stand at the end of Isa 29:1 : “And it proves itself to me as Ariel.” Isa 29:5-8 : “And the multitude of thy foes will become like finely powdered dust, and the multitude of the tyrants like chaff flying away; and it will take place suddenly, very suddenly. From Jehovah of hosts there comes a visitation with crash of thunder and earthquake and great noise, whirlwind and tempest, and the blazing up of devouring fire. And the multitude of all the nations that gather together against Ariel, and all those who storm and distress Ariel and her stronghold, will be like a vision of the night in a

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dream. And it is just as a hungry man dreams, and behold he eats; and when he wakes up his soul is empty: and just as a thirsty man dreams, and behold he drinks; and when he wakes up, behold, he is faint, and his soul is parched with thirst: so will it be to the multitude of the nations which gather together against the mountain of Zion.” The hostile army, described four times as hâmōn, a groaning multitude, is utterly annihilated through the terrible co-operation of the forces of nature which are let loose upon them (Isa 30:30, cf., Isa 17:13). “There comes a visitation:tippâqēd might refer to Jerusalem in the sense of “it will be visited” in mercy, viz., by Jehovah acting thus upon its enemies. But it is better to take it in a neuter sense: “punishment is inflicted.” The simile of the dream is applied in two different ways: (1.) They will dissolve into nothing, as if they had only the same apparent existence as a vision in a dream. (2.) Their plan for taking Jerusalem will be put to shame, and as utterly brought to nought as the eating or drinking of a dreamer, which turns out to be a delusion as soon as he awakes. Just as the prophet emphatically combines two substantives from the same verbal root in Isa 29:1, and two adverbs from the same verb in Isa 29:5; so does he place צבא and צבה together in Isa 29:7, the former with על relating to the crowding of an army for the purpose of a siege, the latter with an objective suffix (compare Psa 53:6) to the attack made by a crowded army. The metsōdâh of Ariel (i.e., the watch-tower, specula, from tsūd, to spy)[2] is the mountain of Zion mentioned afterwards in Isa 29:8. כּאשׁר, as if; comp. Zec 10:6; Job 10:19. אוכל והנּה without הוּא; the personal pronoun is frequently omitted, not only in the leading participial clause, as in this instance (compare Isa 26:3; Isa 40:19; Psa 22:29; Job 25:2; and Köhler on Zec 9:12), but also with a minor participial clause, as in Psa 7:10; Psa 55:20, and Hab 2:10. The hungering and thirsting of the waking man are attributed to his nephesh (soul: cf., Isa 32:6; Isa 5:14; Pro 6:30), just because the soul is the cause of the physical life, and without it the action of the senses would be followed by no sensation or experience whatever. The hungry stomach is simply the object of feeling,

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and everything sensitive in the bodily organism is merely the medium of sensation or feeling; that which really feels is the soul. The soul no sooner passes out of the dreaming state into a waking condition, than it feels that its desires are as unsatisfied as ever. Just like such a dream will the army of the enemy, and that victory of which it is so certain before the battle is fought, fade away into nothing.

Verses 9-12 Edit

This enigma of the future the prophet holds out before the eyes of his contemporaries. The prophet received it by revelation of Jehovah; and without the illumination of Jehovah it could not possibly be understood. The deep degradation of Ariel, the wonderful deliverance, the sudden elevation from the abyss to this lofty height - all this was a matter of faith. But this faith was just what the nation wanted, and therefore the understanding depending upon it was wanting also. The shemu‛âh was there, but the bı̄nâh was absent; and all שׁמועה הבין was wrecked on the obtuseness of the mass. The prophet, therefore, who had received the unhappy calling to harden his people, could not help exclaiming (Isa 29:9), “Stop, and stare; blind yourselves, and grow blind!” התמהמהּ, to show one's self delaying (from מההּ, according to Luzzatto the reflective of תּמהמהּ, an emphatic form which is never met with), is connected with the synonymous verb תּמהּ, to be stiff with astonishment; but to שׁעע, to be plastered up, i.e., incapable of seeing (cf., Isa 6:10), there is attached the hithpalpel of the same verb, signifying “to place one's self in such circumstances,” se oblinere (differently, however, in Psa 119:16, Psa 119:47, compare Isa 11:8, se permulcere). They could not understand the word of God, but they were confused, and their eyes were, so to speak, festered up: therefore this self-induced condition would become to them a God-appointed punishment. The imperatives are judicial words of command.
This growth of the self-hardening into a judicial sentence of obduracy, is proclaimed still more fully by the prophet. “They are drunken, and not with wine; they reel, and not with meth. For Jehovah hath poured upon you a spirit of deep sleep, and bound up your eyes; the prophets and your heads, the seers, He has veiled. And the revelation of all this will be to you like words of a sealed writing, which they give to him who understands writing, saying, Pray, read this; but he says,

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I cannot, it is sealed. And they give the writing to one who does not understand writing, saying, Pray, read this; but he says, I do not understand writing.” They were drunken and stupid; not, however, merely because they gave themselves up to sensual intoxication (יין, dependent upon שׁכרוּ, ebrii vino), but because Jehovah had given them up to spiritual confusion and self-destruction. All the punishments of God are inflicted through the medium of His no less world-destroying than world-sustaining Spirit, which, although not willing what is evil, does make the evil called into existence by the creature the means of punishing evil. Tardēmâh is used here to signify the powerless, passive state of utter spiritual insensibility. This judgment had fallen upon the nation in all its members, even upon the eyes and heads of the nation, i.e., the prophets. Even they whose duty is was to see to the good of the nation, and lead it, were blind leaders of the blind; their eyes were fast shut (עצּם, the intensive form of the kal, Isa 33:15; Aram. עצּם; Talmud also עמּץ: to shut the eyes, or press them close), and over their heads a cover was drawn, as over sleepers in the night. Since the time of Koppe and Eichhorn it has become a usual thing to regard את־הנּביאים and החזים as a gloss, and indeed as a false one (compare Isa 9:13-14); but the reason assigned - namely, that Isaiah's polemics are directed not against the prophets, but against the stupid staring people - is utterly groundless (compare Isa 28:7, and the polemics of his contemporary Micah, e.g., Isa 3:5-8). Moreover, the author of a gloss would have been more likely to interpret ראשׁיכם by השּׂרים or הכּהנים (compare Job 9:24). And Isa 29:11, Isa 29:12 are also opposed to this assumption of a gloss. For by those who understood what was written (sēpher), it is evident that the prophets and rulers of the nation are intended; and by those who did not understand it, the great mass of the people. To both of them, “the vision of all,” i.e., of all and everything that God had shown to His true prophets, was by the judgment of God completely sealed. Some of them might have an outward knowledge; but the inward understanding of the revelation was sealed to them. Some had not even this, but stared at the word of the prophet, just as a man who cannot read stares at what is written. The chethib has הסּפר; the keri ספר, though without any ground, since the article is merely generic. Instead of נא־זה קרא,

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we should write זה קרא־נא in both cases, as certain codices and old editions do.

Verses 13-14 Edit

This stupefaction was the self-inflicted punishment of the dead works with which the people mocked God and deceived themselves. “The Lord hath spoken: Because this people approaches me with its mouth, and honours me with its lips, and keeps its heart far from me, and its reverence of me has become a commandment learned from men: therefore, behold, I will proceed wondrously with this people, wondrously and marvellously strange; and the wisdom of its wise men is lost, and the understanding of its intelligent men becomes invisible.” Ever since the time of Asaph (Ps 50, cf., Psa 78:36-37), the lamentation and condemnation of hypocritical ceremonial worship, without living faith or any striving after holiness, had been a leading theme of prophecy. Even in Isaiah's introductory address (chapter 1) this complain was uttered quite in the tone of that of Asaph. In the time of Hezekiah it was peculiarly called for, just as it was afterwards in that of Josiah (as the book of Jeremiah shows). The people had been obliged to consent to the abolition of the public worship of idols, but their worship of Jehovah was hypocrisy. Sometimes it was conscious hypocrisy, arising from the fear of man and favour of man; sometimes unconscious, inasmuch as without any inward conversion, but simply with work-righteousness, the people contented themselves with, and even prided themselves upon, an outward fulfilment of the law (Mic 6:6-8; Mic 3:11). Instead of נגּשׁ (lxx, Vulg., Syr., Mat 15:8; Mar 7:6), we also meet with the reading נגּשׂ, “because this people harasses itself as with tributary service;” but the antithesis to richaq (lxx πόῤῥω ἀπέχει ) favours the former reading niggash, accedit; and bephı̄v (with its moth) must be connected with this, though in opposition to the accents. This self-alienation and self-blinding, Jehovah would punish with a wondrously paradoxical judgment, namely, the judgment of a hardening, which would so completely empty and confuse, that even the appearance of wisdom and unity, which the leaders of Israel still had, would completely disappear. יוסיף (as in Isa 38:5) is not the third person fut. hiphil here (so that it could be rendered, according to Isa 28:16, “Behold, I am he who;” or more strictly still, “Behold me, who;” which, however, would give a prominence

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to the subject that would be out of place here), but the part. kal for יוסף. That the language really allowed of such a lengthening of the primary form qatĭl into qatı̄l, and especially in the case of יוסיף, is evident from Ecc 1:18 (see at Psa 16:5). In ופלא הפלא, פלא (cf., Lam 1:9) alternates with the gerundive (see at Isa 22:17): the fifth example in this one address of the emphatic juxtaposition of words having a similar sound and the same derivation (vid., Isa 29:1, Isa 29:5, Isa 29:7, Isa 29:9).

Verses 15-16 Edit

Their hypocrisy, which was about to be so wonderfully punished according to the universal law (Psa 18:26-27), manifested itself in their self-willed and secret behaviour, which would not inquire for Jehovah, nor suffer itself to be chastened by His word. “Woe unto them that hide plans deep from Jehovah, and their doing occurs in a dark place, and they say, Who saw us then, and who knew about us? Oh for your perversity! It is to be regarded as potters' clay; that a work could say to its maker, He has not made me; and an image to its sculptor, He does not understand it!” Just as Ahaz had carefully kept his appeal to Asshur for help secret from the prophet; so did they try, as far as possible, to hide from the prophet the plan for an alliance with Egypt. לסתּיר is a syncopated hiphil for להסתּיר, as in Isa 1:12; Isa 3:8; Isa 23:11. העמיק adds the adverbial notion, according to our mode of expression (comp. Joe 2:20, and the opposite thought in Joe 2:26; Ges. §142). To hide from Jehovah is equivalent to hiding from the prophet of Jehovah, that they might not have to listen to reproof from the word of Jehovah. We may see from Isa 8:12 how suspiciously they watched the prophet in such circumstances as these. But Jehovah saw them in their secrecy, and the prophet saw through the whole in the light of Jehovah. הפכּכם is an exclamation, like תּפלצתּך in Jer 49:16. They are perverse, or (‘im) “is it not so?” They think they can dispense with Jehovah, and yet they are His creatures; they attribute cleverness to themselves, and practically disown Jehovah, as if the pot should say to the potter who has turned it, He does not understand it.

Verses 17-21 Edit

But the prophet's God, whose omniscience, creative glory, and perfect wisdom they so basely mistook and ignored, would very shortly turn the present state of the world upside down, and make Himself a congregation out of the poor and wretched,

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whilst He would entirely destroy this proud ungodly nation. “Is it not yet a very little, and Lebanon is turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field esteemed as a forest? And in that day the deaf hear scripture words, and the eyes of the blind will see out of obscurity and out of darkness. And the joy of the humble increases in Jehovah, and the poor among men will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For tyrants are gone, and it is over with scoffers; and all who think evil are rooted out, who condemn a man for a word, and lay snares for him that is free-spoken in the gate, and overthrow the righteous through shameful lies.” The circumstances themselves, as well as the sentence passed, will experience a change, in complete contrast with the present state of things. This is what is affirmed in Isa 29:17; probably a proverb transposed into a more literary style. What is now forest becomes ennobled into garden ground; and what is garden ground becomes in general estimation a forest (לכרמל, ליער, although we should rather expect ל, just as in Isa 32:15). These emblems are explained in Isa 29:18. The people that are now blind and deaf, so far as the word of Jehovah is concerned, are changed into a people with open ears and seeing eyes. Scripture words, like those which the prophet now holds before the people so unsuccessfully, are heard by those who have been deaf. The unfettered sight of those who have been blind pierces through the hitherto surrounding darkness. The heirs of the new future thus transformed are the anâvı̄m (“meek”) and the ‘ebhyōnı̄m (“poor”). אדם (the antithesis of אנשׁהים, e.g., Isa 29:13) heightens the representation of lowliness; the combination is a superlative one, as in הצאן צעירי, Jer 49:20, and הצאן עניי in Zec 11:7 (cf., חיות פריץ in Isa 35:9): needy men who present a glaring contrast to, and stand out from, the general body of men. Such men will obtain ever increasing joy in Jehovah (yâsaph as in Isa 37:31). Such a people of God would take the place of the oppressors (cf., Isa 28:12) and scoffers (cf., Isa 28:14, Isa 28:22), and those who thought evil (shâqad, invigilare, sedulo agere), i.e., the wretched planners, who made a חטא of every one who did not enter into their plans (i.e., who called him a chōtē’; cf., Deu 24:4; Ecc 5:5), and went to law with the man who openly opposed them in the gate (Amo 5:10; yeqōshūn, possibly the perf. kal, cf., Jer 50:24;

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according to the syntax, however, it is the fut. kal of qūsh = yâqōsh: see at Isa 26:16; Ges. §44, Anm. 4), and thrust away the righteous, i.e., forced him away from his just rights (Isa 10:2), by tōhū, i.e., accusations and pretences of the utmost worthlessness; for these would all have been swept away. This is the true explanation of the last clause, as given in the Targum, and not “into the desert and desolation,” as Knobel and Luzzatto suppose; for with Isaiah tōhū is the synonym for all such words as signify nothingness, groundlessness, and fraud. The prophet no doubt had in his mind, at the time that he uttered these words, the conduct of the people towards himself and his fellow-prophets, and such as were like-minded with them. The charge brought against him of being a conspirator, or a traitor to his country, was a tōhū of this kind. All these conspirators and persecutors Jehovah would clear entirely away.

Verses 22-24 Edit

Everything that was incorrigible would be given up to destruction; and therefore the people of God, when it came out of the judgment, would have nothing of the same kind to look for again. “Therefore thus saith Jehovah of the house of Jacob, He who redeemed Abraham: Jacob shall not henceforth be ashamed, nor shall his face turn pale any more. For when he, when his children see the work of my hands in the midst of him, they will sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shudder before the God of Israel. And those who were of an erring spirit discern understanding, and murmurers accept instruction.” With אל (for which Luzzatto, following Lowth, reads אל sda, “the God of the house of Jacob”) the theme is introduced to which the following utterance refers. The end of Israel will correspond to the holy root of its origin. Just as Abraham was separated from the human race that was sunk in heathenism, to become the ancestor of a nation of Jehovah, so would a remnant be separated from the great mass of Israel that was sunk in apostasy from Jehovah; and this remnant would be the foundation of a holy community well pleasing to God. And this would never be confounded or become pale with shame again (on bōsh, see at Isa 1:29; châvar is a poetical Aramaism); for both sins and sinners that called forth the punishments of God, which had put them to shame, would have been swept away (cf., Zep 3:11). In

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the presence of this decisive work of punishment (ma‛ăseh as in Isa 28:21; Isa 10:12; Isa 5:12, Isa 5:19), which Jehovah would perform in the heart of Israel, Israel itself would undergo a thorough change. ילדיו is in apposition to the subject in בּראתו, “when he, namely his children” (comp. Job 29:3); and the expression “his children” is intentionally chosen instead of “his sons” (bânı̄m), to indicate that there would be a new generation, which would become, in the face of the judicial self-manifestation of Jehovah, a holy church, sanctifying Him, the Holy One of Israel. Yaqdı̄shū is continued in vehiqdı̄shū: the prophet intentionally repeats this most significant word, and he‛ĕrı̄ts is the parallel word to it, as in Isa 8:12-13. The new church would indeed not be a sinless one, or thoroughly perfect; but, according to Isa 29:24, the previous self-hardening in error would have been exchanged for a willing and living appropriation of right understanding, and the former murmuring resistance to the admonitions of Jehovah would have given place to a joyful and receptive thirst for instruction. There is the same interchange of Jacob and Israel here which we so frequently met with in chapters 40ff. And, in fact, throughout this undisputedly genuine prophecy of Isaiah, we can detect the language of chapters 40-66. Through the whole of the first part, indeed, we may trace the gradual development of the thoughts and forms which predominate there.

Chap. 30 Edit

Verses 1-5 Edit

The plan which, according to Isa 29:15, was already projected and prepared in the deepest secrecy, is now much further advanced. The negotiations by means of ambassadors have already been commenced; but the prophet condemns what he can no longer prevent. “Woe to the stubborn children, saith Jehovah, to drive plans, and not by my impulse, and to plait alliance, and not according to my Spirit, to heap sin upon sin: that go away to travel down to Egypt, without having asked my mouth, to fly to Pharaoh's shelter, and to conceal themselves under the shadow of Egypt. And Pharaoh's shelter becomes a shame to them, and the concealment under the shadow of Egypt a disgrace. For Judah's princes have appeared in Zoan, and his

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ambassadors arrive in Hanes. They will all have to be ashamed of a people useless to them, that brings no help and no use, but shame, and also reproach.” Sōrerı̄m is followed by infinitives with Lamed (cf., Isa 5:22; Isa 3:8): who are bent upon it in their obstinacy. Massēkhâh designates the alliance as a plait (massēkheth). According to Cappellus and others, it designates it as formed with a libation (σπονδη, from σπένδεσθαι); but the former is certainly the more correct view, inasmuch as massēkhâh (from nâsakh, fundere) signifies a cast, and hence it is more natural here to take nâsakh as equivalent to sâkhakh, plectere (Jerome: ordiremini telam). The context leaves no doubt as to the meaning of the adverbial expressions ולא־מנּי and ולא־רוּחי, viz., without its having proceeded from me, and without my Spirit being there. “Sin upon sin:” inasmuch as they carry out further and further to perfect realization the thought which was already a sinful one in itself. The prophet now follows for himself the ambassadors, who are already on the road to the country of the Nile valley. He sees them arrive in Zoan, and watches them as they proceed thence into Hanes. He foresees and foretells what a disgraceful opening of their eyes will attend the reward of this untheocratical beginning. On lâ‛ōz b’, see at Isa 10:31 : ‛ōz is the infinitive constr. of ‛ūz; mâ‛ōz, on the contrary, is a derivative of ‛âzaz, to be strong. The suffixes of שׂריו (his princes) and מלאכיו (his ambassadors) are supposed by Hitzig, Ewald, and Knobel, who take a different view of what is said, to refer to the princes and ambassadors of Pharaoh. But this is by no means warranted on the ground that the prophet cannot so immediately transfer to Zoan and Hanes the ambassadors of Judah, who were still on their journey according to Isa 30:2. The prophet's vision overleaps the existing stage of the desire for this alliance; he sees the great men of his nation already suing for the favour of Egypt, first of all in Zoan, and then still further in Hanes, and at once foretells the shameful termination of this self-desecration of the people of Jehovah. The lxx give for יגיעוּ חנּס, μάτην κοπιάσουσιν, i.e., ייגעוּ סהנּם, and Knobel approves this reading; but it is a misunderstanding, which only happens to have fallen out a little better this time than the rendering ὡς Δαυίδ given for כּדּוּר in Isa 29:3. If chinnâm had been the original reading, it would hardly have

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entered any one's mind to change it into chânēs. The latter was the name of a city on an island of the Nile in Central Egypt, the later Heracleopolis (Eg. Hnēs; Ehnēs), the Anysis of Herodotus (ii. 137). On Zoan, see at Isa 19:11. At that time the Tanitic dynasty was reigning, the dynasty preceding the Ethiopian. Tanis and Anysis were the two capitals. הבאישׁ (= היבשׁ =( ה, a metaplastic hiphil of יבשׁ = בּושׁ, a different word from יבשׁ) is incorrectly pointed for הבאישׁ, like ריאשׁנה (keri) for ראישׁנה in Jos 21:10. הבאישׁ signifies elsewhere, “to make stinking” (to calumniate, Pro 13:5), or “to come into ill odour” (1Sa 27:12); here, however, it means to be put to shame (בּאשׁ = בּושׁ).

Verses 6-7 Edit

The prophet's address is hardly commenced, however, when a heading is introduced of the very same kind as we have already met with several times in the cycle of prophecies against the heathen nations. Gesenius, Hitzig, Umbreit, and Knobel, rid themselves of it by pronouncing it a gloss founded upon a misunderstanding. But nothing is more genuine in the whole book of Isaiah than the words massâ' bahămōth negebh . The heading is emblematical, like the four headings in chapters 21, 22. And the massâ’ embraces Isa 30:6, Isa 30:7. Then follows the command to write it on a table by itself. The heading is an integral part of the smaller whole. Isaiah breaks off his address to communicate an oracle relating to the Egyptian treaty, which Jehovah has specially commanded him to hand down to posterity. The same interruption would take place if we expunged the heading; for in any case it was Isa 30:6, Isa 30:7 that he was to write upon a table. This is not an address to the people, but the preliminary text, the application of which is determined afterwards. The prophet communicates in the form of a citation what has been revealed to him by God, and then states what God has commanded him to do with it. We therefore enclose Isa 30:6, Isa 30:7 in inverted commas as a quotation, and render the short passage, which is written in the tone of chapter 21, as follows: “Oracle concerning the water-oxen of the south: Through a land of distress and confinement, whence the lioness and lion, adders and flying dragons; they carry their possessions on the shoulders of asses' foals, and their treasures on the humps of camels, to a nation that profits nothing. And Egypt, worthlessly and hollowly will they help; therefore I

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call this Egypt, Great-mouth that sits still.” The “water-ox of the south” is the Nile-horse; and this is the emblem of Egypt, the land of the south (in Daniel and Zechariah Babylonia is “the land of the north”). Bahămōth is the construct of behēmōth (Job 40), ), which is a Hebraized from of an Egyptian word, p-ehe-mau (though the word itself has not yet been met with), i.e., the ox of the water, or possibly p-ehe-mau-t (with the feminine article at the close, though in hesmut, another name for a female animal, mut = t.mau signifies “the mother:” see at Job 40:15). The animal referred to is the hippopotamus, which is called bomarino in Italian, Arab. the Nile-horse or water-pig. The emblem of Egypt in other passages of the Old Testament is tannin, the water-snake, or leviathan, the crocodile. In Psa 78:31 this is called chayyath qâneh, “the beast of the reed,” though Hengstenberg supposes that the Nile-horse is intended there. This cannot be maintained, however; but in the passage before us this emblem is chosen, just because the fat, swine-like, fleshy colossus, whose belly nearly touches the ground as it walks, is a fitting image of Egypt, a land so boastful and so eager to make itself thick and broad, and yet so slow to exert itself in the interest of others, and so unwilling to move from the spot. This is also implied in the name rahabh-hēm-shâb. Rahab is a name applied to Egypt in other passages also (Isa 51:9; Psa 87:4; Psa 89:11), and that in the senses attested by the lxx at Job 26:12 (cf., Isa 9:13), viz., κῆτος, a sea-monster, monstrum marinum. Here the name has the meaning common in other passages, viz., violence, domineering pride, boasting (ἀλαζονεία, as one translator renders it). הם is a term of comparison, as in Gen 14:2-3, etc.; the plural refers to the people called rahabh. Hence the meaning is either, “The bragging people, they are sit-still;” or, “Boast-house, they are idlers.” To this deceitful land the ambassadors of Judah were going with rich resources (chăyâlı̄m, opes) on the shoulder of asses' foals, and on the hump (dabbesheth, from dâbhash, according to Luzzatto related to gâbhash, to be hilly) of camels, without shrinking from the difficulties and dangers of the road through the desert, where lions and snakes spring out now here and now there (מהם, neuter, as in Zep 2:7, comp. Isa 38:16; see also Deu 8:15; Num 21:6). Through this very desert, through which God had led their fathers when

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He redeemed them out of the bondage of Egypt, they were now marching to purchase the friendship of Egypt, though really, whatever might be the pretext which they offered, it was only to deceive themselves; for the vainglorious land would never keep the promises that it made.

Verse 8 Edit

So runs the divine oracle to which the following command refers. “Now go, write it on a table with them, and note it in a book, and let it stand there fore future days, for ever, to eternity.” The suffixes of kothbâh (write it) and chuqqâh (note it) refer in a neuter sense to Isa 30:6, Isa 30:7; and the expression “go” is simply a general summons to proceed to the matter (cf., Isa 22:15). Sēpher could be used interchangeably with lūăch, because a single leaf, the contents of which were concluded, was called sēpher (Exo 17:14). Isaiah was to write the oracle upon a table, a separate leaf of durable material; and that “with them,” i.e., so that his countrymen might have it before their eyes (compare Isa 8:1; Hab 2:2). It was to be a memorial for posterity. The reading לעד (Sept., Targ., Syr.) for לעד is appropriate, though quite unnecessary. The three indications of time form a climax: for futurity, for the most remote future, for the future without end.

Verses 9-11 Edit

It was necessary that the worthlessness of the help of Egypt should be placed in this way before the eyes of the people. “For it is a refractory people, lying children, children who do not like to hear the instruction of Jehovah, who say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things! Speak flatteries to us! Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, remove from our face the Holy One of Israel.” On the expression ‛am merı̄ (a people of stubbornness), see at Isa 3:8. The vowel-pointing of כחשׁהים follows the same rule as that of החכם. The prophet traces back their words to an unvarnished expression of their true meaning, just as he does in Isa 28:15. They forbid the prophets of Jehovah to prophesy, more especially nekhōchōth, straight or true things (things not agreeable to their own wishes), but would rather hear chălâqōth, i.e., smooth, insinuating, and flattering things, and even mahăthallōth (from hâthal, Talm. tal, ludere), i.e., illusions or deceits. Their desire was to be entertained and lauded, not repelled and instructed. The prophets are to adopt another course (מנּי only occurs here, and that twice, instead of

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the more usual מנּי = מן, after the form אלי, עלי), and not trouble them any more with the Holy One of Israel, whom they (at least Isaiah, who is most fond of calling Jehovah by this name) have always in their mouths.

Verses 12-14 Edit

Thus do they fall out with Jehovah and the bearers of His word. “Therefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye dislike this word, and put your trust in force and shufflings, and rely upon this; therefore will this iniquity be to you like a falling breach, bent forwards in a high-towering wall, which falls to ruin suddenly, very suddenly. And He smites it to pieces, as a potter's vessel falls to pieces, when they smash it without sparing, and of which, when it lies smashed to pieces there, you cannot find a sherd to fetch fire with from the hearth, or to take water with out of a cistern.” The “word” towards which they cherished me'ōs (read mo'oskhem), was the word of Jehovah through His prophet, which was directed against their untheocratic policy of reckoning upon Egypt. Nâlōz, bent out or twisted, is the term used to denote this very policy, which was ever resorting to bypaths and secret ways; whilst ‛ōsheq denotes the squeezing out of the money required to carry on the war of freedom, and to purchase the help of Egypt (compare 2Ki 15:20). The guilt of Judah is compared to the broken and overhanging part of a high wall (nibh‛eh, bent forwards; compare (בּעבּע, a term applied to a diseased swelling). Just as such a broken piece brings down the whole of the injured wall along with it, so would the sinful conduct of Judah immediately ruin the whole of its existing constitution. Israel, which would not recognise itself as the image of Jehovah, even when there was yet time (Isa 29:16), would be like a vessel smashed into the smallest fragments. It is the captivity which is here figuratively threatened by the prophet; for the smashing had regard to Israel as a state. The subject to וּשׁברהּ in Isa 30:14 is Jehovah, who would make use of the hostile power of man to destroy the wall, and break up the kingdom of Judah into such a diaspora of broken sherds. The reading is not ושׁהברהּ (lxx, Targum), but וּשׁברהּ, et franget eam. Kâthōth is an infinitive statement of the mode; the participle kâthūth, which is adopted by the Targum, Kimchi, Norzi, and others, is less suitable. It was necessary to proceed with יחמל לא (without his sparing), simply because the infinitive absolute cannot be connected with לא

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(Ewald, §350,a). לחשּׂוף (to be written thus with dagesh both here and Hag 2:16) passes from the primary meaning nudare to that of scooping up, as ערה does to that of pouring out.

Verses 15-17 Edit

Into such small sherds, a heap thus scattered hither and thither, would the kingdom of Judah be broken up, in consequence of its ungodly thirst for self-liberation. “For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, Through turning and rest ye would be helped; your strength would show itself in quietness and confidence; but ye would not. And ye said, No, but we will fly upon horses; therefore ye shall flee: and, We will ride upon racehorses; therefore your pursuers will race. A thousand, ye will flee from the threatening of one, from the threatening of five, until ye are reduced to a remnant, like a pine upon the top of the mountain, and like a banner upon the hill.” The conditions upon which their salvation depended, and by complying with which they would attain to it, were shūbhâh, turning from their self-chosen way, and nachath, rest from self-confident work of their own (from nūăch, like rachath, ventilabrum, from rūăch, and shachath, fovea, from shūăch). Their strength (i.e., what they would be able to do in opposition to the imperial power) would show itself (hâyâh, arise, come to the light, as in Isa 29:2), in hashqēt, laying aside their busy care and stormy eagerness, and bitchâh, trust, which cleaves to Jehovah and, renouncing all self-help, leaves Him to act alone. This was the leading and fundamental principle of the prophet's politics even in the time of Ahaz (Isa 7:4). But from the very first they would not act upon it; nor would they now that the alliance with Egypt had become an irreversible fact. To fly upon horses, and ride away upon racehorses (kal, like κέλης, celer)[3] had been and still was their proud and carnal ambition, which Jehovah would answer by fulfilling upon them the curses of the thorah (Lev 26:8, Lev 26:36; Deu 28:25; Deu 32:30). One, or at the most five, of the enemy would be able with their snorting to put to flight a whole thousand of the men of Judah. The verb nūs (Isa 30:16), which rhymes with sūs, is used first of all in its primary sense of “flying” (related to nūts, cf.,

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Exo 14:27), and then in its more usual sense of “fleeing.” (Luzzatto, after Abulwalîd: vogliamo far sui cavalli gloriosa comparsa, from nūs, or rather nâsas, hence nânōs, from which comes nēs, excellere.) יקּלּוּ, the fut. niphal, signifies to be light, i.e., swift; whereas יקל, the fut. kal, had become a common expression for light in the sense of despised or lightly esteemed. The horses and chariots are Judah's own (Isa 2:7; Mic 5:9), though possibly with the additional allusion to the Egyptian cavalry, of world-wide renown, which they had called to their help. In Isa 30:17 the subject of the first clause is also that of the second, and consequently we have not וּמפּני (compare the asyndeta in Isa 17:6). The insertion of rebhâbhâh (ten thousand) after chămisshâh (five), which Lowth, Gesenius, and others propose, is quite unnecessary. The play upon the words symbolizes the divine law of retribution (talio), which would be carried out with regard to them. The nation, which had hitherto resembled a thick forest, would become like a lofty pine (tōrne, according to the talmudic tūrnı̄thâ, Pinus pinea), standing solitary upon the top of a mountain, and like a flagstaff planted upon a hill - a miserable remnant in the broad land so fearfully devastated by war. For אם עד followed by a preterite (equivalent to the fut. exactum), compare Isa 6:11 and Gen 24:19.

Verse 18 Edit

The prophet now proceeds with ולכן, to which we cannot give any other meaning than et propterea, which it has everywhere else. The thought of the prophet is the perpetually recurring one, that Israel would have to be reduced to a small remnant before Jehovah would cease from His wrath. “And therefore will Jehovah wait till He inclines towards you, and therefore will He withdraw Himself on high till He has mercy upon you; for Jehovah is a God of right, salvation to those who wait for Him.” In other places lâkhēn (therefore) deduces the punishment from the sin; here it infers, from the nature of the punishment, the long continuance of the divine wrath. Chikkâh, to wait, connected as it is here with Lamed, has at least the idea, if not the actual signification, of delay (as in 2Ki 9:3; compare Job 32:4). This helps to determine the sense of yârūm, which does not mean, He will show Himself exalted as a judge, that through judgment He may render it possible to have mercy upon you (which is too far-fetched a

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meaning); but, He will raise Himself up, so as to be far away (cf., Num 16:45, “Get you up from among this congregation;” and Psa 10:5, mârōm = “far above,” as far as heaven, out of his sight), that thus (after having for a long time withdrawn His gracious presence; cf., Hos 5:6) He may bestow His mercy upon you. A dark prospect, but only alarming to unbelievers. The salvation at the remotest end of the future belongs to believers even now. This is affirmed in the word ‘ashrē (blessed), which recalls Psa 2:12. The prophet uses châkhâh in a very significant double sense here, just as he did nuus a short time before. Jehovah is waiting for the time when He can show His favour once more, and blessed are they who meet His waiting with their own waiting.

Verses 19-22 Edit

None but such are heirs of the grace that follows the judgment - a people, newly pardoned in response to its cry for help, conducted by faithful teachers in the right way, and renouncing idolatry with disgust. “For a people continues dwelling in Zion, in Jerusalem; thou shalt not weep for ever: He will prove Himself gracious to thee at the sound of thy cry for help; as soon as He hears, He answers thee. And the Lord giveth you bread in penury, and water for your need; and thy teachers will not hide themselves any more, and thine eyes come to see thy teachers. And thine ears will hear words behind thee, saying, 'This is the way, walk ye in it!' whether ye turn to the right hand or to the left. And ye defile the covering of thy graven images of silver, and the clothing of thy molten images of gold; thou wilt scatter them like filthy thing: 'Get out!' thou sayest to it.” We do not render Isa 30:19, “For O people that dwelleth in Zion, in Jerusalem!” For although the personal pronoun may be omitted after Vav in an apostrophizing connection (Pro 8:5; Joe 2:23), we should certainly expect to find אתּה here. The accent very properly marks these words as forming an independent clause. The apparent tautology in the expression, “in Zion, in Jerusalem,” is emphatic and explanatory. The fate of Zion-Jerusalem will not be the same as that of the imperial city (Isa 13:20; Isa 25:2); for it is the city of Jehovah, which, according to His promise, cannot become an eternally deserted ruin. After this promising declaration, the prophet turns and addresses the people of the future in the people of his own time; bâkhō strengthens the verbal

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notion with the mark of duration; chânōn with the mark of certainty and fulness. יחנך, with an advanced ŏ, as in Gen 43:29, for יחן. כּ is the shortest expression used to denote simultaneous occurrence; answering and hearing would coincide (shom‛âh, nomen actionis, as in Isa 47:9; Isa 55:2; Ges. §45, 1b; ‛ânâkh, the pausal form here, as in Jer 23:37). From this lowest stage of response to the penitential cry for help, the promise rises higher and higher. The next stage is that in which Jerusalem is brought into all the distress consequent upon a siege, as threatened by the prophet in Isa 29:3-4; the besieged would not be allowed by God to die of starvation, but He would send them the necessary support. The same expression, but very little altered, viz., “to give to eat lechem lachatz ūmayim lachatz,” signifies to put any one upon the low rations of a siege or of imprisonment, in 1Ki 22:27 and 2Ch 18:26; but here it is a promise, with the threat kept in the background. צר and לחץ are connected with the absolute nouns לחם and מים, not as adverbial, but as appositional definitions (like תּרעלה יין, “wine which is giddiness,” in Psa 60:5; and בּרכּים מים, “water which is knees,” i.e., which has the measure of the knees, where birkayim is also in apposition, and not the accusative of measurement): literally, bread which is necessity, and water which is affliction; that is to say, nourishment of which there is extreme need, the very opposite of bread and water in abundance. Umbreit and Drechsler understand this spiritually. But the promise rises as it goes on. There is already an advance, in the fact that the faithful and well-meaning teachers (mōrı̄m) no longer keep themselves hidden because of the hard-heartedness and hatred of the people, as they have done ever since the time of Ahaz (נכנף, a denom.: to withdraw into כּנף, πτέρυξ, the utmost end, the most secret corner; though kânaph in itself signifies to cover or conceal). Israel, when penitent, would once more be able to rejoice in the sight of those whom it longed to have back again. מוריך is a plural, according to the context (on the singular of the previous predicate, see Ges. §147). As the shepherds of the flock, they would follow the people with friendly words of admonition, whilst the people would have their ears open to receive their instruction. תּאמינוּ is here equivalent to תּימינוּ, תּימינוּ. The abominations of idolatry (which continued even in the first years of Hezekiah's

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reign: Isa 31:7; Mic 1:5; Mic 5:11-13; Mic 6:16) would now be regarded as abominations, and put away. Even gold and silver, with which the images that were either carved or cast in inferior metal were overlaid, would be made unclean (see 2 Kings 28:8ff.); that is to say, no use would be made of them. Dâvâh is a shorter expression for kelı̄ dâvâh, the cloth worn by a woman at the monthly period. On zârâh, to dispense - to which dâvâh would be inappropriate if understood of the woman herself, as it is by Luzzatto - compare 2Ki 23:6. With זהבך, the plural used in the general address passes over into the individualizing singular; לו is to be taken as a neuter pointing back to the plunder of idols.

Verses 23-25 Edit

The promise, after setting forth this act of penitence, rises higher and higher; it would not stop at bread in time of need. “And He gives rain to thy seed, with which thou sowest the land; and bread of the produce of the land, and it is full of sap and fat: in that day your flocks will feed in roomy pastures. And the oxen and the young asses, which work the land, salted mash will they eat, which is winnowed with the winnowing shovel and winnowing fork! And upon every high mountain, and every hill that rises high, there are springs, brooks in the day of the great massacre, when the towers fall.” The blessing which the prophet depicts is the reverse of the day of judgment, and stands in the foreground when the judgment is past. The expression “in that day” fixes, as it were, the evening of the day of judgment, which is followed by the depicted morning of blessing. But the great mass of the Jewish nation would be first of all murdered in war; the towers must fall, i.e., (though without any figure, and merely as an exemplifying expression) all the bulwarks of self-confidence, self-help, and pride (Isa 2:15; Mic 5:9-10). In the place of the self-induced calamities of war, there would now come the God-given rich blessings of peace; and in the place of the proud towers, there would come fruitful heights abounding with water. The field would be cultivated again, and produce luxuriant crops of nutritious corn; so that not only the labour of man, but that of the animals also, would receive a rich reward. “Rain to thy seed:” this is the early rain commencing about the middle of October. אשׁר as an accusative, זרע being construed with a double accusative, as in Deu 22:9. מקניך

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might be the singular, so far as the form is concerned (see Isa 1:30; Isa 5:12; Isa 22:11); but, according to Exo 17:3, it must be taken as a plural, like מוריך. The ‘ălâphı̄m are the oxen used in ploughing and threshing; the ‛ăyârı̄m, the asses used for carrying manure, soil, the sheaves, or the grain. Belı̄l châmı̄ts is a mash (composed of oats, barley, and vetches, or things of that kind) made more savoury with salt and sour vegetables;[4] that is to say, a farrago (from bâlal, to mix; Comm. on Job, at Job 40:19-24). According to Wetzstein, it is ripe barley (unthreshed during the harvest and threshing time, and the grain itself for the rest of the year) mixed with salt or salt vegetables. In any case, belı̄l is to be understood as referring to the grain; this is evident from the relative clause, “which has been winnowed” (= mezōreh, Ewald, §169,d), or perhaps more correctly, “which he (one) winnows” (part. kal), the participle standing for the third person, with the subject contained within itself (Ewald, §200), i.e., not what was generally given from economy, viz., barley, etc., mixed with chopped straw (tibn), but pure grain (habb mahd, as they say at the present day). Rachath is a winnowing shovel, which is still used, according to Wetzstein, in Merj. Gedur, and Hauran; mizreh, on the other hand, is the winnowing fork with six prongs. Dainty food, such as was only given occasionally to the cattle, as something especially strengthening, would then be their regular food, and would be prepared in the most careful manner. “Who cannot see,” exclaims Vitringa, “that this is to be taken spiritually?” He appeals to what Paul says in 1Co 9:9, viz., that God does not trouble Himself about oxen. But Paul did not mean this in the same sense as Aristotle, who maintained that the minima were entirely excluded from the providence of God. What the Scriptures say concerning cattle, they do not say for the sake of the cattle, but for the sake of men; though it does not follow that the cattle are to be understood figuratively, as representing men. And this is the case here. What the prophet paints in this idyllic style, in colours furnished by the existing customs,[5] is not indeed intended to be understood in the letter; and yet it is to be taken literally. In the age of

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glory, even on this side of eternity, a gigantic stride will be taken forward towards the glorification of universal nature, and towards the end of all those sighs which are so discernible now, more especially among domestic animals. The prophecy is therefore to be interpreted according to Rom 8:19.; from which we may clearly see that God does trouble Himself about the sighing of an ox or ass that is overburdened with severe toil, and sometimes left to starve.

Verse 26 Edit

The promise now rises higher and higher, and passes from earth to heaven. “And the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be multiplied sevenfold, like the light of seven days, in the day that Jehovah bindeth the hurt of His people, and healeth the crushing of His stroke.” Modern commentators from Lowth downwards for the most part pronounce היּמים שׁבעת כּאור a gloss; and there is one external evidence in favour of this, which is wanting in the case of the other supposed glosses in Isaiah, namely, that the words are omitted by the lxx (though not by the Targum, the Syriac, or Jerome). Even Luther (although he notices these words in his exposition and sermons) merely renders them, der Sonnen schein wird siebenmal heller sein denn jtzt (the sunlight will be seven times as bright as it is now). But the internal evidence does not favour their spuriousness even in the case before us; for the fact that the regularity of the verse, as consisting of four members, is thereby disturbed, is no evidence at all, since the v. could be warranted in a pentastic quite as well as in a tetrastic form. We therefore decide in this instance also in favour of the conclusion that the prophet composed the gloss himself. But we cannot maintain, with Umbreit, that the addition was necessary, in order to guard against the idea that there would be seven suns shining in the sky; for the prophet does not predict a multiplication of the sun by seven, but simply the multiplication of its light. The seven days are the length of an ordinary week. Drechsler gives it correctly: “The radiated light, which is sufficient to produce the daylight for a whole week according to the existing order of things, will then be concentrated into a single day.” Luther renders it in

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this way, als wenn sieben tag ynn eynander geschlossen weren (as if seven days were enclosed in one another). This also is not meant figuratively, any more than Paul means is figuratively, when he says, that with the manifestation of the “glory” of the children of God, the “corruption” of universal nature will come to an end. Nevertheless, it is not of the new heaven that the prophet is speaking, but of the glorification of nature, which is promised by both the Old Testament prophecy and by that of the New at the closing period of the world's history, and which will be the closing typical self-annunciation of that eternal glory in which everything will be swallowed up. The brightest, sunniest days then alternate, as the prophet foretells, with the most brilliant moonlight nights. No other miracles will be needed for this than that wonder-working power of God, which even now produces those changes of weather, the laws of which no researches of natural science have enabled us to calculate, and which will then give the greatest brilliancy and most unchangeable duration to what is now comparatively rare - namely, a perfectly unclouded sky, with sun or moon shining in all its brilliancy, yet without any scorching from the one, or injurious effects from the other. Heaven and earth will then put on their sabbath dress; for it will be the Sabbath of the world's history, the seventh day in the world's week. The light of the seven days of the world's week will be all concentrated in the seventh. For the beginning of creation was light, and its close will be light as well. The darkness all comes between, simply that it may be overcome. At last will come a bōqer (morning), after which it will no more be said, “And evening was, and morning was.” The prophet is speaking of the last type of this morning. What he predicts here precedes what he predicted in Isa 24:23, just as the date of its composition precedes that of chapters 24-27; for there the imperial city was Babylon, whereas here the glory of the latter day is still placed immediately after the fall of Assyria.

Verses 27-28 Edit

Isa 30:27-28“Behold, the name of Jehovah cometh from far, burning His wrath, and quantity of smoke: His lips are full of wrathful foam, and His tongue like devouring fire. And His breath is like an overflowing brook, which reaches half-way to the neck, to sift nations in the sieve of nothingness; and a misleading bridle

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comes to the cheeks of the nations.” Two figures are here melted together - namely, that of a storm coming up from the farthest horizon, which turns the sky into a sea of fire, and kindles whatever it strikes, so that there rises up a heavy burden, or thick mass of smoke (kōbhed massâ'âh, like mas'ēth in Jdg 20:40, cf., Jdg 20:38; on this attributive combination, burning His wrath (Ewald, §288,c) and a quantity, etc., see Isa 13:9); and that of a man burning with wrath, whose lips foam, whose tongue moves to and fro like a flame, and whose breath is a snorting that threatens destruction, which when it issues from Jehovah swells into a stream, which so far covers a man that only his neck appears as the visible half. We had the same figure in Isa 8:8, where Asshur, as it came upon Judah, was compared to such an almost overwhelming and drowning flood. Here, again, it refers to Judah, which the wrath of Jehovah had almost though not entirely destroyed. For the ultimate object of the advancing name of Jehovah (shēm, name, relating to His judicial coming) is to sift nations, etc.: lahănâphâh for lehânı̄ph (like lahăzâdâh in Dan 5:20), to make it more like nâphâh in sound. The sieve of nothingness is a sieve in which everything, that does not remain in it as good corn, is given up to annihilation; שׁוא is want of being, i.e., of life from God, and denotes the fate that properly belongs to such worthlessness. In the case of v'resen (and a bridle, etc.) we must either supply in thought לשׂום (שׂם), or, what is better, take it as a substantive clause: “a misleading bridle” (or a bridle of misleading, as Böttcher renders it, math‛eh being the form mashqeh) holds the cheeks of the nations. The nations are regarded as wild horses, which could not be tamed, but which were now so firmly bound and controlled by the wrath of God, that they were driven down into the abyss.

Verse 29 Edit

This is the issue of the judgment which begins at the house of God, then turns against the instrument employed, namely the heathen, and becomes to the Israel that survives a counterpart of the deliverance from Egypt. “Your song will then sound as in the night, when the feast is celebrated; and ye will have joy of heart like those who march with the playing of flutes, to go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the Rock of Israel.” In the word châg (feast), which is generally used with special reference to the feast of tabernacles, there is here an unmistakeable

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allusion to the passover, as we may see from the introduction of “the night,” which evidently means the night before the passover (lēl shimmurı̄m, Exo 12:42), which was so far a festal night, that it preceded and introduced the feast of unleavened bread. The prophet has taken his figure from the first passover-night in Egypt, when Israel was rejoicing in the deliverance which it was just about to receive, whilst the destroying angel was passing through the land. Such would be the song which they would be able to sing, when Jehovah poured out His judgment upon His people's enemies outside. The church is shut up in its chamber (Isa 26:20), and its joy resembles the heartfelt joy of those who go on pilgrimage on one of the three great feasts, or in the procession that carries up the first-fruits to Jerusalem (Biccurim, iii. 3), going up with the sound of flutes to the mountain of Jehovah, to appear before Him, the Rock of Israel.

Verses 30-33 Edit

Israel is marching in such a joyful way to a sacred and glorious height, whilst outside Jehovah is sweeping the world-power entirely away, and that without any help from Israel. “And Jehovah causes His majestic voice to be heard, and causes the lowering of His arm to be seen, with the snorting of wrath and the blazing of devouring fire, the bursting of a cloud, and pouring of rain and hailstones. For Asshur will be terrified at the voice of Jehovah, when He smites with the staff. And it will come to pass, every stroke of the rod of destiny, which Jehovah causes to fall upon Asshur, is dealt amidst the noise of drums and the playing of guitars; and in battles of swinging arm He fights it. For a place for the sacrifice of abominations has long been made ready, even for the king is it prepared; deep, broad has He made it: its funeral-pile has fire and wood in abundance; the breath of Jehovah like a stream of brimstone sets it on fire.” The imposing crash (on hōd, see Job 39:20) of the cry which Jehovah causes to be heard is thunder (see Psa 29:1-11); for the catastrophe occurs with a discharge of all the destructive forces of a storm (see Isa 29:6). Nephets is the “breaking up” or “bursting,” viz., of a cloud. It is through such wrath-announcing phenomena of nature that Jehovah manifests the otherwise invisible letting down of His arm to smite (nachath may possibly not be the derivative of nūăch, “settling down,” but of nâchath, “the coming down,”

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as in Psa 38:3; just as shebheth in 2Sa 23:7 is not derived from shūbh, but from shâbhath, to go to ruin). Isa 30:31, commencing with ki (for), explains the terrible nature of what occurs, from the object at which it is directed: Asshur is alarmed at the voice of Jehovah, and thoroughly goes to pieces. We must not render this, as the Targum does, “which smites with the rod,” i.e., which bears itself so haughtily, so tyrannically (after Isa 10:24). The smiter here is Jehovah (lxx, Vulg., Luther); and basshēbhet yakkeh is either an attributive clause, or, better still, a circumstantial determining clause, eo virga percutiente. According to the accents, vehâyâh in Isa 30:32 is introductory: “And it will come to pass, every stroke of the punishing rod falls (supply יהיה) with an accompaniment of drums and guitars” (the Beth is used to denote instrumental accompaniment, as in Isa 30:29; Isa 24:9; Psa 49:5, etc.) - namely, on the part of the people of Jerusalem, who have only to look on and rejoice in the approaching deliverance. Mūsâdâh with mattēh is a verbal substantive used as a genitive, “an appointment according to decree” (comp. yâsad in Hab 1:12, and yâ‛ad in Mic 6:9). The fact that drums and guitars are heard along with every stroke, is explained in Isa 30:32: “Jehovah fights against Asshur with battles of swinging,” i.e., not with darts or any other kind of weapon, but by swinging His arm incessantly, to smite Asshur without its being able to defend itself (cf., Isa 19:16). Instead of בּהּ, which points back to Asshur, not to matteh, the keri has בּם, which is not so harsh, since it is immediately preceded by עליו. This cutting down of the Assyrians is accounted for in Isa 30:33, (ki, for), from the fact that it had long ago been decreed that they should be burned as dead bodies. ‘Ethmūl in contrast with mâchâr is the past: it has not happened today, but yesterday, i.e., as the predestination of God is referred to, “long ago.”Tophteh is the primary form of tōpheth (from tūph, not in the sense of the Neo-Persian tâften, Zend. tap, to kindle or burn, from which comes tafedra, melting; but in the Semitic sense of vomiting or abhorring: see at Job 17:6), the name of the abominable place where the sacrifices were offered to Moloch in the valley of Hinnom: a Tophet-like place. The word is variously treated as both a masculine and feminine, possibly because the place of abominable sacrifices is described

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first as bâmâh in Jer 7:31. In the clause הוּכן למּלך גּם־הוא, the gam, which stands at the head, may be connected with lammelekh, “also for the king is it prepared” (see at Job 2:10); but in all probability lammelekh is a play upon lammolekh (e.g., Lev 18:2), “even this has been prepared for the Melekh,” viz., the king of Asshur. Because he was to be burned there, together with his army, Jehovah had made this Tophet-like place very deep, so that it might have a far-reaching background, and very broad, so that in this respect also there might be room for many sacrifices. And their medūrâh, i.e., their pile of wood (as in Eze 24:9, cf., Eze 24:5, from dūr, Talm. dayyēr, to lay round, to arrange, pile), has abundance of fire and wood (a hendiadys, like “cloud and smoke” in Isa 4:5). Abundance of fire: for the breath of Jehovah, pouring upon the funeral pile like a stream of brimstone, sets it on fire. בּ בּער, not to burn up, but to set on fire. בּהּ points back to tophteh, like the suffix of medurâthâh.[6]

Chap. 31 Edit

Verses 1-3 Edit

There is nothing to surprise us in the fact, that the prophet returns again and again to the alliance with Egypt. After his warning had failed to prevent it, he wrestled with it in spirit, set before himself afresh the curse which would be its certain fruit, brought out and unfolded the consolation of believers that lay hidden in the curse, and did not rest till the cursed fruit, that had become a real thing, had been swallowed up by the promise, which was equally real. The situation of this fourth woe is just the same as that of the previous one. The alliance with Egypt is still in progress.

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“Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help, and rely upon horses, and put their trust in chariots, that there are many of them; and in horsemen, that there is a powerful multitude of them; and do not look up to the Holy One of Israel, and do not inquire for Jehovah! And yet He also is wise; thus then He brings evil, and sets not His words aside; and rises up against the house of miscreants, and against the help of evil-doers. And Egypt is man, and not God; and its horses flesh, and not spirit. And when Jehovah stretches out His hand, the helper stumbles, and he that is helped falls, and they all perish together.” The expression “them that go down” (hayyōredı̄m) does not imply that the going down was taking place just then for the first time. It is the participle of qualification, just as God is called הבּרא. לעזרה with Lamed of the object, as in Isa 20:6. The horses, chariots, and horsemen here, as those of Egypt, which Diodorus calls ἱππάσιμος, on account of its soil being so suitable for cavalry (see Lepsius in Herzog's Cyclopaedia). The participle is combined in the finite verb. Instead of ועל־סוּסים, we also find the reading preferred by Norzi, of על without Vav, as in Isa 5:11 (cf., Isa 5:23). The perfects, שׁעוּ לא and דרשׁוּ לא, are used without any definite time, to denote that which was always wanting in them. The circumstantial clause, “whilst He is assuredly also wise,” i.e., will bear comparison with their wisdom and that of Egypt, is a touching μείωσις. It was not necessary to think very highly of Jehovah, in order to perceive the reprehensible and destructive character of their apostasy from Him. The fut. consec. ויּבא is used to indicate the inevitable consequence of their despising Him who is also wise. He will not set aside His threatening words, but carry them out. The house of miscreants is Judah (Isa 1:4); and the help (abstr. pro concr., just as Jehovah is frequently called “my help,” ‛ezrâthı̄, by the Psalmist) of evil-doers is Egypt, whose help has been sought by Judah. The latter is “man” (‘âdâm), and its horses “flesh” (bâsâr); whereas Jehovah is God (El) and spirit (rūăch; see Psychol. p. 85). Hofmann expounds it correctly: “As ruuach has life in itself, it is opposed to the bâsâr, which is only rendered living through the rūăch; and so El is opposed to the corporeal ‘âdâm, who needs the spirit in order to live at all.” Thus have they preferred the help of the impotent and conditioned, to the help of the almighty and all-conditioning One.

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Jehovah, who is God and spirit, only requires to stretch out His hand (an anthropomorphism, by the side of which we find the rule for interpreting it); and the helpers, and those who are helped (i.e., according to the terms of the treaty, though not in reality), that is to say, both the source of the help and the object of help, are all cast into one heap together.

Verse 4 Edit

And things of this kind would occur. “For thus hath Jehovah spoken to me, As the lion growls, and the young lion over its prey, against which a whole crowd of shepherds is called together; he is not alarmed at their cry, and does not surrender at their noise; so will Jehovah of hosts descend to the campaign against the mountain of Zion, and against their hill.” There is no other passage in the book of Isaiah which sounds so Homeric as this (vid., Il. xviii. 161, 162, xii. 299ff.). It has been misunderstood by Knobel, Umbreit, Drechsler, and others, who suppose על לצבּא to refer to Jehovah's purpose to fight for Jerusalem: Jehovah, who would no more allow His city to be taken from Him, than a lion would give up a lamb that it had taken as its prey. But how could Jerusalem be compared to a lamb which a lion holds in its claws as tereph? (Isa 5:29). We may see, even from Isa 29:7, what construction is meant to be put upon על צבא. Those sinners and their protectors would first of all perish; for like a fierce indomitable lion would Jehovah advance against Jerusalem, and take it as His prey, without suffering Himself to be thwarted by the Judaeans and Egyptians, who set themselves in opposition to His army (The Assyrians). The mountain of Zion was the citadel and temple; the hill of Zion the city of Jerusalem (Isa 10:32). They would both be given up to the judgment of Jehovah, without any possibility of escape. The commentators have been misled by the fact, that a simile of a promising character follows immediately afterwards, without anything to connect the one with the other. But this abrupt μετάβασις was intended as a surprise, and was a true picture of the actual fulfilment of the prophecy; for in the moment of the greatest distress, when the actual existence of Jerusalem was in question (cf., Isa 10:33-34), the fate of Ariel took suddenly and miraculously a totally different turn (Isa 29:2). In this sense, a pleasant picture is placed side by side with the terrible one (compare Mic 5:6-7).

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Verse 5 Edit

Jehovah suddenly arrests the work of punishment, and the love which the wrath enfolds within itself begins to appear. “Like fluttering birds, so will Jehovah of Hosts screen Jerusalem; screening and delivering, sparing and setting free.” The prophet uses the plural, “like fluttering birds,” with an object - namely, not so much to represent Jehovah Himself, as the tender care and, as it were, maternal love, into which His leonine fierceness would be changed. This is indicated by the fact, that he attaches the feminine ‛âphōth to the common gender tsippŏrı̄m. The word pâsōăch recals to mind the deliverance from Egypt (as in Isa 30:29) in a very significant manner. The sparing of the Israelites by the destroyer passing over their doors, from which the passover derived its name, would be repeated once more. We may see from this, that in and along with Assyria, Jehovah Himself, whose instrument of punishment Assyria was, would take the filed against Jerusalem (Isa 29:2-3); but His attitude towards Jerusalem is suddenly changed into one resembling the action of birds, as they soar round and above their threatened nests. On the inf. abs. kal (gânōn) after the hiphil, see Ewald, §312, b; and on the continuance of the inf. abs. in the finite verb, §350, a. This generally takes place through the future, but here through the preterite, as in Jer 23:14; Gen 26:13, and 1Sa 2:26 (if indeed vegâdēl is the third pers. preterite there).

Verse 6 Edit

On the ground of this half terrible, half comforting picture of the future, the call to repentance is now addressed to the people of the prophet's own time. “Then turn, O sons of Israel, to Him from whom men have so deeply departed.” Strictly speaking, “to Him with regard to whom (אשׁר) ye are deeply fallen away” (he‛ĕmı̄q, as in Hos 9:9, and sârâh, that which is alienated, alienation, as in Isa 1:5); the transition to the third person is like the reverse in Isa 1:29. This call to repentance the prophet strengthens by two powerful motives drawn from the future.

Verse 7 Edit

The first is, that idolatry would one day be recognised in all its abomination, and put away. “For in that day they will abhor every one their silver idols and their gold idols, which your hands have made you for a sin,” i.e., to commit sin and repent, with the preponderance of the latter idea, as in Hos 8:11 (compare 1Ki 13:34). חטא, a second accusative to עשׂוּ,

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indicating the result. The prospect is the same as that held out in Isa 30:22; Isa 27:9; Isa 17:8; Isa 2:20.

Verses 8-9 Edit

The second motive is, that Israel will not be rescued by men, but by Jehovah alone; so that even He from whom they have now so deeply fallen will prove Himself the only true ground of confidence. “And Asshur falls by a sword not of a man, and a sword not of a man will devour him; and he flees before a sword, and his young men become tributary. And his rock, for fear will it pass away, and his princes be frightened away by the flags: the saying of Jehovah, who has His fire in Zion, and His furnace in Jerusalem.” The lxx and Jerome render this falsely φεύξεται οὐκ (לא) ἀπὸ προσώπου μαχαίρας. לו is an ethical dative, and the prophet intentionally writes “before a sword” without any article, to suggest the idea of the unbounded, infinite, awful (cf., Isa 28:2, beyâd; Psalter, vol. i. p. 15). A sword is drawn without any human intervention, and before this Asshur falls, or at least so many of the Assyrians as are unable to save themselves by flight. The power of Asshur is for ever broken; even its young men will henceforth become tributary, or perform feudal service. By “his rock” most commentators understand the rock upon which the fugitive would gladly have taken refuge, but did not dare (Rosenmüller, Gesenius, Knobel, etc.); others, again, the military force of Asshur, as its supposed invincible refuge (Saad., etc.); others, the apparently indestructible might of Asshur generally (Vulgate, Rashi, Hitzig). But the presence of “his princes” in the parallel clause makes it most natural to refer “his rock” to the king; and this reference is established with certainty by what Isa 32:2 affirms of the king and princes of Judah. Luther also renders it thus: und jr Fels wird fur furcht wegzihen (and their rock will withdraw for fear). Sennacherib really did hurry back to Assyria after the catastrophe in a most rapid flight. Minnēs are the standards of Asshur, which the commanders of the army fly away from in terror, without attempting to rally those that were scattered. Thus speaks Jehovah, and this is what He decrees who has His ‘ūr and tannūr in Jerusalem. We cannot suppose that the allusion here is to the fire and hearth of the sacrifices; for tannūr does not mean a hearth, but a furnace (from nūr, to burn). The reference is to the light of the divine presence, which was outwardly

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a devouring fire for the enemies of Jerusalem, an unapproachable red-hot furnace (ignis et caminus qui devorat peccatores et ligna, faenum stipulamque consumit: Jerome).

Chap. 32 Edit

Verses 1-2 Edit

For Judah, sifted, delivered, and purified, there now begins a new ear. Righteous government, as a blessing for the people, is the first beneficent fruit. “Behold, the king will reign according to righteousness; and the princes, according to right will they command. And every one will be like a shelter from the wind, and a covert from the storm; like water-brooks in a dry place, like the shadow of a gigantic rock in a languishing land.” The kingdom of Asshur is for ever destroyed; but the kingdom of Judah rises out of the state of confusion into which it has fallen through its God - forgetting policy and disregard of justice. King and princes now rule according to the standards that have been divinely appointed and revealed. The Lamed in ūlesârı̄m (and the princes) is that of reference (quod attinet ad, as in Psa 16:3 and Ecc 9:4), the exponent of the usual casus abs. (Ges. §146, 2); and the two other Lameds are equivalent to κατά, secundum (as in Jer 30:11). The figures in Isa 32:2 are the same as in Isa 25:4. The rock of Asshur (i.e., Sennacherib) has departed, and the princes of Asshur have deserted their standards, merely to save themselves. The king and princes of Judah are now the defence of their nation, and overshadow it like colossal walls of rock. This is the first fruit of the blessing.

Verses 3-4 Edit

The second is an opened understanding, following upon the ban of hardening. “And the eyes of the seeing no more are closed, and the ears of the hearing attend. And the heart of the hurried understands to know, and the tongue of stammerers speaks clear things with readiness.” It is not physical miracles that are predicted here, but a spiritual change. The present judgment of hardening will be repealed: this is what Isa 32:3 affirms. The spiritual defects, from which many suffer who do not belong to the worst, will be healed: this is the statement in Isa 32:4. The form תּשׁעינה is not the future of שׁעה here, as in Isa 31:1; Isa 22:4; Isa 17:7-8 (in the sense of, they will no longer stare about restlessly and without aim), but of שׁעה = שׁעע, a metaplastic future of the latter, in the sense of, to be smeared over to closed (see Isa 29:9; Isa 6:10; cf., tach in Isa 44:18).

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On qâshabh (the kal of which is only met with here), see at Isa 21:7. The times succeeding the hardening, of which Isaiah is speaking here, are “the last times,” as Isa 6:1-13 clearly shows; though it does not therefore follow that the king mentioned in Isa 32:1 (as in Isa 11:1.) is the Messiah Himself. In Isa 32:1 the prophet merely affirms, that Israel as a national commonwealth will then be governed in a manner well pleasing to God; here he predicts that Israel as a national congregation will be delivered from the judgment of not seeing with seeing eyes, and not hearing with hearing ears, and that it will be delivered from defects of weakness also. The nimhârı̄m are those that fall headlong, the precipitate, hurrying, or rash; and the עלּגים, stammerers, are not scoffers (Isa 28:7., Isa 19:20), as Knobel and Drechsler maintain, but such as are unable to think and speak with distinctness and certainty, more especially concerning the exalted things of God. The former would now have the gifts of discernment (yâbhı̄n), to perceive things in their true nature, and to distinguish under all circumstances that which is truly profitable (lâda‛ath); the latter would be able to express themselves suitably, with refinement, clearness, and worthiness. Tsachōth (old ed. tsâchōth) signifies that which is light, transparent; not merely intelligible, but refined and elegant. תּמהר gives the adverbial idea to ledabbēr (Ewald, §§285,a).

Verses 5-8 Edit

A third fruit of the blessing is the naming and treating of every one according to his true character. “The fool will no more be called a nobleman, nor the crafty a gentleman. For a fool speaks follies, and his heart does godless things, to practise tricks and to speak error against Jehovah, to leave the soul of hungry men empty, and to withhold the drink of thirsty ones. And the craft of a crafty man is evil, who devises stratagems to destroy suffering ones by lying words, even when the needy exhibits his right. But a noble man devises noble things, and to noble things he adheres.” Nobility of birth and wealth will give place to nobility of character, so that the former will not exist or not be recognised without the latter. Nâdı̄bh is properly one who is noble in character, and then, dropping the ethical meaning, one who is noble by rank. The meaning of the word generosus follows the same course in the opposite direction. Shōă‛ is the man who is raised to eminence by the possession of property; the gentleman, as in

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Job 34:19. The prophet explains for himself in what sense he uses the words nâbhâl and kı̄lai. We see from his explanation that kı̄lai neither signifies the covetous, from kūl (Saad.), nor the spendthrift, from killâh (Hitzig). Jerome gives the correct rendering, viz., fraudulentus; and Rashi and Kimchi very properly regard it as a contraction of nekhı̄lai. It is an adjective form derived from כּיל = נכיל, like שׂיא = נשׂיא (Job 20:6). The form כּלי in Isa 32:1 is used interchangeably with this, merely for the sake of the resemblance in sound to כּליו (machinatoris machinae pravae). In Isa 32:6, commencing with ki (for), the fact that the nâbhâl (fool) and kı̄lai (crafty man) will lose their titles of honour, is explained on the simple ground that such men are utterly unworthy of them. Nâbhâl is a scoffer at religion, who thinks himself an enlightened man, and yet at the same time has the basest heart, and is a worthless egotist. The infinitives with Lamed show in what the immorality (‘âven) consists, with which his heart is so actively employed. In Isa 32:6, ūbhedabbēr (“and if he speak”) is equivalent to, “even in the event of a needy man saying what is right and well founded:” Vâv = et in the sense of etiam ((cf., 2Sa 1:23; Psa 31:12; Hos 8:6; Ecc 5:6); according to Knobel, it is equivalent to et quidem, as in Ecc 8:2; Amo 3:11; Amo 4:10; whereas Ewald regards it as Vav conj. (§283,d), “and by going to law with the needy,” but את־אביון would be the construction in this case (vid., 2Ki 25:6). According to Isa 32:8, not only does the noble man devise what is noble, but as such (הוּא) he adheres to it. We might also adopt this explanation, “It is not upon gold or upon chance that he rises;” but according to the Arabic equivalents, qūm signifies persistere here.

Verses 9-14 Edit

This short address, although rounded off well, is something more than a fragment complete in itself, like the short parabolic piece in Isa 28:23-29, which commences in a similar manner. It is the last part of the fourth woe, just as that was the last part of the first. It is a side piece to the threatening prophecy of the time of Uzziah-Jotham (Isa 3:16.), and chastises the frivolous self-security of the women of Jerusalem, just

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as the former chastises their vain and luxurious love of finery. The prophet has now uttered many a woe upon Jerusalem, which is bringing itself to the verge of destruction; but notwithstanding the fact that women are by nature more delicate, and more easily affected and alarmed, than men, he has made no impression upon the women of Jerusalem, to whom he now foretells a terrible undeceiving of their carnal ease, whilst he holds out before them the ease secured by God, which can only be realized on the ruins of the former.
The first part of the address proclaims the annihilation of their false ease. “Ye contented women, rise up, hear my voice; ye confident daughters, hearken to my speech! Days to the year: then will ye tremble, confident ones! for it is all over with the vintage, the fruit harvest comes to nought. Tremble, contented ones! Quake, ye confident ones! Strip, make yourselves bare, and gird your loins with sackcloth! They smite upon their breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine. On the land of my people there come up weeds, briers; yea, upon all joyous houses of the rejoicing city. For the palace is made solitary; the crowd of the city is left desolate; the ofel and watch-tower serve as caves for ever, for the delight of wild asses, for the tending of flocks.” The summons is the same as in Gen 4:23 and Jer 9:19 (comp. Isa 28:23); the attributes the same as in Amo 6:1 (cf., Isa 4:1, where Isaiah apostrophizes the women of Samaria). שׁאנן, lively, of good cheer; and בּטח, trusting, namely to nothing. They are to rise up (qōmnâh), because the word of God must be heard standing (Jdg 3:20). The definition of the time “days for a year” (yâmı̄m ‛al-shânâh) appears to indicate the length of time that the desolation would last, as the word tirgaznâh is without any Vav apod. (cf., Isa 65:24; Job 1:16-18); but Isa 29:1 shows us differently, and the Vav is omitted, just as it is, for example, in Dan 4:28. Shânâh is the current year. In an undefined number of days, at the most a year from the present time (which is sometimes the meaning of yâmı̄m), the trembling would begin, and there would be neither grapes nor fruit to gather. Hence the spring harvest of corn is supposed to be over when the devastation begins. ימים is an acc. temporis; it stands here (as in Isa 27:6, for example; vid., Ewald, §293, 1) to indicate the starting point, not the period of duration. The milel-forms פּשׁטה, ערה, חגרה ,ערה ,

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are explained by Ewald, Drechsler, and Luzzatto, as plur. fem. imper. with the Nun of the termination nâh dropped - an elision that is certainly never heard of. Others regard it as inf. with He femin. (Credner, Joel, p. 151); but קטלה for the infinitive קטלה is unexampled; and equally unexampled would be the inf. with He indicating the summons, as suggested by Böttcher, “to the shaking!” “to the stripping!” They are sing. masc. imper., such as occur elsewhere apart from the pause, e.g., מלוכה (for which the keri has מלכה) in Jdg 9:8; and the singular in the place of the plural is the strongest form of command. The masculine instead of the feminine appears already in הרדוּ, which is used in the place of חרדנה. The prophet then proceeds in the singular number, comprehending the women as a mass, and using the most massive expression. The He introduced into the summons required that the feminine forms, רגזי, etc., should be given up. ערה, from ערר, to be naked, to strip one's self. חגרה absolute, as in Joe 1:13 (cf., Isa 3:24), signifies to gird one's self with sackcloth (saq). We meet with the same remarkable enall. generis in Isa 32:12. Men have no breasts (shâdaim), and yet the masculine sōphedı̄m is employed, inasmuch as the prophet had the whole nation in his mind, throughout which there would be such a plangere ubera on account of the utter destruction of the hopeful harvest of corn and wine. Shâdaim (breasts) and שׂדי (construct to sâdōth) have the same common ring as ubera and ubertas frugum. In Isa 32:13 ta‛ăleh points back to qōts shâmı̄r, which is condensed into one neuter idea. The ki in Isa 32:13 has the sense of the Latin imo (Ewald, §330,b). The genitive connection of עלּיזה קריה with משׂושׂ בּתּי (joy-houses of the jubilant city) is the same as in Isa 28:1. The whole is grammatically strange, just as in the Psalms the language becomes all the more complicated, disjointed, and difficult, the greater the wrath and indignation of the poet. Hence the short shrill sentences in Isa 32:14 : palace given up (cf., Isa 13:22); city bustle forsaken (i.e., the city generally so full of bustle, Isa 22:2). The use of בּעד is the same as in Pro 6:26; Job 2:4. ‛Ofel, i.e., the south-eastern fortified slope of the temple mountain, and the bachan (i.e., the watch-tower, possibly the flock-tower which is mentioned in Mic 4:8 along with ‛ofel), would be pro speluncis, i.e., would be considered and serve as such. And in the very place where

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the women of Jerusalem had once led their life of gaiety, wild asses would now have their delight, and flocks their pasture (on the wild asses, perâ'ı̄m, that fine animal of the woodless steppe, see at Job 24:5; Job 39:5-8). Thus would Jerusalem, with its strongest, proudest places, be laid in ruins, and that in a single year, or ever less than a year.

Verses 15-19 Edit

The state would then continue long, very long, until at last the destruction of the false rest would be followed by the realization of the true. “Until the Spirit is poured out over us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as the forest. And justice makes its abode in the desert, and righteousness settles down upon the fruit-field. And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the reward of righteousness rest and security for ever. And my people dwells in a place of peace, and in trustworthy, safe dwellings, and in cheerful resting-places. And it hails with the overthrow of the forest, and into lowliness must the city be brought low.” There is a limit, therefore, to the “for ever” of Isa 32:14. The punishment would last till the Spirit, which Israel had not then dwelling in the midst of it (see Hag 2:5), and whose fulness was like a closed vessel to Israel, should be emptied out over Israel from the height of heaven (compare the piel ערה, Gen 24:20), i.e., should be poured out in all its fulness. When that was done, a great change would take place, the spiritual nature of which is figuratively represented in the same proverbial manner as in Isa 29:17. At the same time, a different turn is given to the second half in the passage before us. The meaning is, not that what was now valued as a fruit-bearing garden would be brought down from its false eminence, and be only regarded as forest; but that the whole would be so glorious, that what was now valued as a fruit-garden, would be thrown into the shade by something far more glorious still, in comparison with which it would have the appearance of a forest, in which everything grew wild. The whole land, the uncultivated pasture-land as well as the planted fruitful fields of corn and fruit, would then become the tent and seat of justice and righteousness. “Justice and righteousness' (mishpât and tsedâqâh) are throughout Isaiah the stamp of the last and perfect time. As these advance towards self-completion, the produce and result of these will be peace (ma‛ăseh and abhōdâh

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are used to denote the fruit or self-reward of work and painstaking toil; compare פּעלּה). But two things must take place before this calm, trustworthy, happy peace, of which the existing carnal security is only a caricature, can possibly be realized. In the first place, it must hail, and the wood must fall, being beaten down with hail. We already know, from Isa 10:34, that “the wood” was an emblem of Assyria; and in Isa 30:30-31, we find “the hail” mentioned as one of the forces of nature that would prove destructive to Assyria. And secondly, “the city” (העיר, a play upon the word, and a counterpart to היּער) must first of all be brought low into lowliness (i.e., be deeply humiliated). Rosenmüller and others suppose the imperial city to be intended, according to parallels taken from chapters 24-27; but in this cycle of prophecies, in which the imperial city is never mentioned at all, “the city” must be Jerusalem, whose course from the false peace to the true lay through a humiliating punishment (Isa 29:2-4; Isa 30:19., Isa 31:4.).

Verse 20 Edit

In the face of this double judgment, the prophet congratulates those who will live to see the times after the judgment. “Blessed are ye that sow by all waters, and let the foot of the oxen and asses rove in freedom.” Those who lived to see these times would be far and wide the lords of a quiet and fruitful land, cleared of its foes, and of all disturbers of peace. They would sow wherever they pleased, by all the waters that fertilized the soil, and therefore in a soil of the most productive kind, and one that required little if any trouble to cultivate. And inasmuch as everything would be in the most copious abundance, they would no longer need to watch with anxiety lest their oxen and asses should stray into the corn-fields, but would be able to let them wander wherever they pleased. There cannot be the slightest doubt that this is the correct explanation of the verse, according to Isa 30:23-25 (compare also Isa 7:21.).
This concludes the four woes, from which the fifth, that immediately follows, is distinguished by the fact, that in the former the Assyrian troubles are still in the future, whereas the fifth places us in the very midst of them. The prophet commenced (Isa 28:1-4) with the destruction of Samaria; he then threatened Judah and Jerusalem also. But it is uncommonly

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difficult to combine the different features of the threat into a complete picture. Sifting even to a small remnant is a leading thought, which runs through the threat. And we also read throughout the whole, that Asshur will meet with its own destruction in front of that very Jerusalem which it is seeking to destroy. But the prophet also knows, on the one hand, that Jerusalem is besieged by the Assyrians, and will not be rescued till the besieged city has been brought to the last extremity (Isa 29:1., Isa 31:4.); and, on the other hand, that this will reach even to the falling of the towers (Isa 30:25), the overthrow of the wall of the state (Isa 30:13-14), the devastation of the land, and the destruction of Jerusalem itself (Isa 32:12.); and for both of these he fixes the limit of a year (Isa 29:1; Isa 32:10). This double threat may be explained in the following manner. The judgments which Israel has still to endure, and the period of glory that will follow them, lie before the mental eye of the prophet like a long deep diorama. While threatening the existing generation, he penetrates more or less deeply into the judgments which lie in perspective before him. He threatens at one time merely a siege that will continue till it is brought to the utmost extremity; at another time utter destruction. But the imperial power intended, by which this double calamity is to be brought upon Judah, must be Assyria; since the prophet knew of no other in the earliest years of Hezekiah, when these threatening addresses were uttered. And this gives rise to another difficulty. Not only was the worst prediction - namely, that of the destruction of Jerusalem - not fulfilled; but even the milder prophecy - namely, that of a siege, which would bring them to the deepest distress - was not accomplished. There never was any actual siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrians. The explanation of this is, that, according to Jer 18:7-8, and Jer 18:9, Jer 18:10, neither the threatenings of punishment nor the promises of blessing uttered by the prophets were so unconditional, that they were certain to be fulfilled and that with absolute necessity, at such and such a time, or upon such and such a generation. The threatened punishment might be repealed or modified, if repentance ensued on the part of the persons threatened (Jon 3:4; 1Ki 21:29; 2Ki 22:15-20; 2Ch 12:5-8). The words of the prophecy did not on that account fall to the ground. If they produced repentance, they

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answered the very purpose for which they were intended; but if the circumstances which called for punishment should return, their force returned as well in all its fulness. If the judgment was one irrevocably determined, it was merely delayed by this, to be discharged upon the generation which should be ripest for it. And we have also an express historical testimony, which shows that this is the way in which the non-fulfilment of what Isaiah threatened as about to take place within a year is to be accounted for. Not only Isaiah, but also his contemporary Micah, threatened, that along with the judgment upon Samaria, the same judgment would also burst upon Jerusalem. Zion would be ploughed as a field, Jerusalem would be laid in ruins, and the temple mountain would be turned into a wooded height (Mic 3:12). This prophecy belongs to the first year of Hezekiah's reign, for it was then that the book of Micah was composed. But we read in Jer 26:18-19, that, in their alarm at this prophecy, Hezekiah and all Judah repented, and that Jehovah withdrew His threat in consequence. Thus, in the very first year of Hezekiah, a change for the better took place in Judah; and this was necessarily followed by the withdrawal of Isaiah's threatenings, just as those threatenings had co-operated in the production of this conversion (see Caspari, Micha, p. 160ff.). Not one of the three threats (Isa 29:1-4; Isa 32:9-14; Mic 3:12), which form an ascending climax, was fulfilled. Previous threatenings so far recovered their original force, when the insincerity of the conversion became apparent, that the Assyrians did unquestionably march through Judah, devastating everything as they went along. But because of Hezekiah's self-humiliation and faith, the threat was turned from that time forward into a promise. In direct opposition to his former threatening, Isaiah now promised that Jerusalem would not be besieged by the Assyrians (Isa 37:33-35), but that, before the siege was actually established, Assyria would fall under the walls of Jerusalem.

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Chap. 33 Edit

Verse 1 Edit

We are now in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah's reign. The threatenings of the first years, which the repentance of the people had delayed, are now so far in force again, and so far actually realized, that the Assyrians are already in Judah, and have not only devastated the land, but are threatening Jerusalem. The element of promise now gains the upper hand, the prophet places himself between Asshur and his own nation with the weapons of prophecy and prayer, and the woe turns from the latter to the former. “Woe, devastator, and thyself not devastated; and thou spoiler, and still not spoiled! Hast thou done with devastating? thou shalt be devastated. Hast thou attained to rob? men rob thee.” Asshur is described as not devastated and not spoiled (which could not be expressed by a participle as with us, since bâgad is construed with Beth, and not with the accusative of the person), because it had not yet been visited by any such misfortune as that which had fallen upon other lands and nations. But it would be repaid with like for the like as soon as כּ indicating simultaneousness, as in Isa 30:19 and Isa 18:5, for example) its devastating and spoiling had reached the point determined by Jehovah. Instead of בך, we find in some codd. and editions the reading בו, which is equally admissible. In כּהתימך (from תּמם) the radical syllable is lengthened, instead of having dagesh. כּנּלתך is equivalent to כּהנלותך, a hiphil syncopated for the sake of rhythm (as in Isa 3:8; Deu 1:33, and many other passages), written here with dagesh dirmens, from the verb nâlâh, which is attested also by Job 15:29. The coincidence in meaning with the Arab. verb nâl (fut. i and u), to acquire or attain (see Comm. on Job, at Job 15:29 and Job 30:24-27), has been admitted by the earliest of the national grammarians, Ben-Koreish, Chayug, etc. The conjecture כּכלּותך (in addition to which Cappellus proposed כנלאותך) is quite unnecessary. The play upon the sound sets forth the punishment of the hitherto unpunished one as the infallible echo of its sin.

Verse 2 Edit

In Isa 33:2 the prophet's word of command is changed into a

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believing prayer: “Jehovah, be gracious to us; we wait for Thee: be their arm with every morning, yea, our salvation in time of need!”Their arm,” i.e., the power which shelters and defends them, viz., Thy people and my own. “Yea,” ‘aph, is emphatic. Israel's arm every morning, because the danger is renewed every day; Israel's salvation, i.e., complete deliverance (Isa 25:9), because the culminating point of the trouble is still in prospect.

Verses 3-4 Edit

While the prophet is praying thus, he already sees the answer. “At the sound of a noise peoples pass away; at Thy rising nations are scattered. And your booty is swept away as a swarm of locusts sweeps away; as beetles run, they run upon it.” The indeterminate hâmōn, which produces for that very reason the impression of something mysterious and terrible, is at once explained. The noise comes from Jehovah, who is raising Himself judicially above Assyria, and thunders as a judge. Then the hostile army runs away (נפצוּ = נפצּוּ, from the niphal נפץ, 1Sa 13:11, from פּץ = נפוץ, from פּוּץ); and your booty (the address returns to Assyria) is swept away, just as when a swarm of locusts settles on a field, it soon eats it utterly away. Jerome, Cappellus, and others follow the Septuagint rendering, ὃν τρόπον ἐάν τις συναγάγη ἀκρίδας. The figure is quite as appropriate, but the article in hechâsı̄l makes the other view the more natural one; and Isa 33:4 places this beyond all doubt. Shâqaq, from which the participle shōqēq and the substantive masshâq are derived, is sued here, as in Joe 2:9, to signify a busy running hither and thither (discursitare). The syntactic use of shōqēq is the same as that of קרא (they call) in Isa 21:11, and sōphedı̄m (they smite) in Isa 32:12. The inhabitants of Jerusalem swarm in the enemy's camp like beetles; they are all in motion, and carry off what they can.

Verses 5-6 Edit

The prophet sees this as he prays, and now feasts himself on the consequences of this victory of Jehovah, prophesying in Isa 33:5, Isa 33:6 : “Jehovah is exalted; for, dwelling on high, He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness. And there will be security of thy times, riches of salvation, of wisdom, and knowledge. Fear of Jehovah is then the treasure of Judah.” Exalted: for though highly exalted in Himself, He has performed an act of justice and righteousness, with the sight and remembrance of which Zion is filled as with an overflowing rich supply of

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instruction and praise. A new time has dawned for the people of Judah. The prophet addresses them in Isa 33:6; for there is nothing to warrant us in regarding the words as addressed to Hezekiah. To the times succeeding this great achievement there would belong ‘emūnâh, i.e., (durability (Exo 17:12) - a uniform and therefore trustworthy state of things (compare Isa 39:8, “peace and truth”). Secondly, there would also belong to them חסן, a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge (compare the verb in Isa 23:18). We regard these three ideas as all connected with chōsen. The prophet makes a certain advance towards the unfolding of the seven gifts in Isa 11:2, which are implied in “salvation;” but he hurries at once to the lowest of them, which forms the groundwork of all the rest, when he says, thirdly, that the fear of Jehovah will be the people's treasure. The construct form, chokhmath, instead of chokhmâh, is a favourite one, which Isaiah employs, even apart from the genitive relation of the words, for the purpose of securing a closer connection, as Isa 35:2; Isa 51:21 (compare pârash in Eze 26:10), clearly show. In the case before us, it has the further advantage of consonance in the closing sound.

Verses 7-10 Edit

The prophet has thus run through the whole train of thought with a few rapid strides, in accordance with the custom which we have already frequently noticed; and now he commences afresh, mourning over the present miserable condition of things, in psalm-like elegiac tones, and weeping with his weeping people. “Behold, their heroes weep without; the messengers of peace weep bitterly. Desolate are roads, disappeared are travellers; he has broken covenant, insulted cities, despised men. The land mourns, languishes; Lebanon stands ashamed, parched; the meadow of Sharon has become like a steppe, and Bashan and Carmel shake their leaves.” אראלּם is probably chosen with some allusion to ‘Ariel, the name of Jerusalem in chapter 29; but it has a totally different meaning. We have rendered it “heroes,” because אראל is here synonymous with אראל in the Nibelung-like piece contained in 2Sa 23:20 and 1Ch 11:22. This ‘ărı̄'ēl, which is here contracted into ‘er'el (compare the biblical name ‘Ar'ēlı̄ and the post-biblical name of the angels, ‘Er'ellı̄m), is compounded of ‘arı̄ (a lion) and ‛El (God), and therefore signifies “the lion of

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God,” but in this sense, that El (God) gives to the idea of leonine courage merely the additional force of extraordinary or wonderful; and as a composite word, it contents itself with a singular, with a collective sense according to circumstances, without forming any plural at all. The dagesh is to be explained from the fact that the word (which tradition has erroneously regarded as a compound of להם אראה) is pointed in accordance with the form כּרמל (כרמלּו). The heroes intended by the prophet were the messengers sent to Sennacherib to treat with him for peace. They carried to him the amount of silver and gold which he had demanded as the condition of peace (2Ki 18:14). But Sennacherib broke the treaty, by demanding nothing less than the surrender of Jerusalem itself. Then the heroes of Jerusalem cried aloud, when they arrived at Jerusalem, and had to convey this message of disgrace and alarm to the king and nation; and bitterly weeping over such a breach of faith, such deception and disgrace, the embassy, which had been sent off, to the deep self-humiliation of Judah and themselves, returned to Jerusalem. Moreover, Sennacherib continued to storm the fortified places, in violation of his agreement (on mâ'as ‛arı̄m, see 2Ki 18:13). The land was more and more laid waste, the fields were trodden down; and the autumnal aspect of Lebanon, with its faded foliage, and of Bashan and Carmel, with their falling leaves, looked like shame and grief at the calamities of the land. It was in the autumn, therefore, that the prophet uttered these complaints; and the definition of the time given in his prophecy (Isa 32:10) coincides with this. קמל is the pausal form for קמל, just as in other places an ē with the tone, which has sprung from i, easily passes into a in pause; the sharpening of the syllable being preferred to the lengthening of it, not only when the syllable which precedes the tone syllable is an open one, but sometimes even when it is closed (e.g., Jdg 6:19, ויּגּשׁ). Instead of כּערבה we should read כּערבה (without the article), as certain codd. and early editions do.[7]
Isaiah having mourned in the tone of the Psalms, now comforts himself with the words of a

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psalm. Like David in Psa 12:6, he hears Jehovah speak. The measure of Asshur's iniquity is full; the hour of Judah's redemption is come; Jehovah has looked on long enough, as though sitting still (Isa 18:4). Isa 33:10 “Now will I arise, saith Jehovah, now exalt myself, now lift up myself.” Three times does the prophet repeat the word ‛attâh (now), which is so significant a word with all the prophets, but more especially with Hosea and Isaiah, and which always fixes the boundary-line and turning-point between love and wrath, wrath and love. ארומם (in half pause for ארוממא is contracted from עתרומם (Ges. §54, 2,b). Jehovah would rise up from His throne, and show Himself in all His greatness to the enemies of Israel.

Verse 11 Edit

After the prophet has heard this from Jehovah, he knows how it will fare with them. He therefore cries out to them in triumph (Isa 33:11), “Ye are pregnant with hay, ye bring forth stubble! Your snorting is the fire that will devour you.” Their vain purpose to destroy Jerusalem comes to nothing; their burning wrath against Jerusalem becomes the fire of wrath, which consumes them (for chashash and qash, see at Isa 5:24).

Verse 12 Edit

The prophet announces this to them, and now tells openly what has been exhibited to him in his mental mirror as the purpose of God. “And nations become as lime burnings, thorns cut off, which are kindled with fire.” The first simile sets forth the totality of the destruction: they will be so completely burned up, that nothing but ashes will be left, like the lump of lime left at the burning of lime. The second contains a figurative description of its suddenness: they have vanished suddenly, like dead brushwood, which is cut down in consequence, and quickly crackles up and is consumed (Isa 5:24, cf., Isa 9:17): kâsach is the Targum word for zâmar, amputare, whereas in Arabic it has the same meaning as sâchâh, verrere.

Verses 13-14 Edit

But the prophet, while addressing Asshur, does not overlook those sinners of his own nation who are deserving of punishment. The judgment upon Asshur is an alarming lesson, not only for the heathen, but for Israel also; for there is no respect of persons with Jehovah. “Hear, ye distant ones, what I have accomplished; and perceive, ye near ones, my omnipotence! The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling seizes

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the hypocrites: who of us can abide with devouring fire? who of us abide with everlasting burnings?” Even for the sinners in Jerusalem also there is no abiding in the presence of the Almighty and Just One, who has judged Asshur (the act of judgment is regarded by the prophet as having just occurred); they must either repent, or they cannot remain in His presence. Jehovah, so far as His wrath is concerned, is “a consuming fire” (Deu 4:24; Deu 9:3); and the fiery force of His anger is “everlasting burnings” (mōkedē ‛ōlâm), inasmuch as it consists of flames that are never extinguished, never burn themselves out. And this God had His fire and His furnace in Jerusalem (Isa 31:9), and had just shown what His fire could do, when once it burst forth. Therefore do the sinners inquire in their alarm, whilst confessing to one another (lânū; cf., Amo 9:1) that none of them can endure it, “Who can dwell with devouring fire?” etc. (gūr with the acc. loci, as in Psa 5:5).

Verses 15-16 Edit

The prophet answers their question. “He that walketh in righteousness, and speaketh uprightness; he that despiseth gain of oppressions, whose hand keepeth from grasping bribes; he that stoppeth his ear from hearing murderous counsel, and shutteth his eyes from looking at evil; he will dwell upon high places; rocky fastnesses are his castle; his bread is abundant, his waters inexhaustible.” Isaiah's variation of Psa 15:1-5 and Psa 24:3-6 (as Jer 17:5-8 contains Jeremiah's variation of Psa 1:1-6). Tsedâqōth is the accusative of the object, so also is mēshârı̄m: he who walks in all the relations of life in the full measure of righteousness, i.e., who practises it continually, and whose words are in perfect agreement with his inward feelings and outward condition. The third quality is, that he not only does not seek without for any gain which injures the interests of his neighbour, but that he inwardly abhors it. The fourth is, that he diligently closes his hands, his ears, and his eyes, against all danger of moral pollution. Bribery, which others force into his hand, he throws away (cf., Neh 5:13); against murderous suggestions, or such as stimulate revenge, hatred, and violence, he stops his ear; and from sinful sights he closes his eyes firmly, and that without even winking. Such a man has no need to fear the wrath of God. Living according to the will of God, he lives in the love of God; and in that he is

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shut in as it were upon the inaccessible heights and in the impregnable walls of a castle upon a rock. He suffers neither hunger nor thirst; but his bread is constantly handed to him (nittân, partic.), namely, by the love of God; and his waters never fail, for God, the living One, makes them flow. This is the picture of a man who has no need to be alarmed at the judgment of God upon Asshur.

Verse 17 Edit

Over this picture the prophet forgets the sinners in Zion, and greets with words of promise the thriving church of the future. “Thine eyes will see the king in his beauty, will see a land that is very far off.” The king of Judah, hitherto so deeply humbled, and, as Micah instances by way of example, “smitten upon the cheeks,” is then glorified by the victory of his God; and the nation, constituted as described in Isa 33:15, Isa 33:16, will see him in his God-given beauty, and see the land of promise, cleared of enemies as far as the eye can reach and the foot carry, restored to Israel without reserve, and under the dominion of this sovereign enjoying all the blessedness of peace.

Verses 18-19 Edit

The tribulation has passed away like a dream. “Thy heart meditates upon the shuddering. Where is the valuer? where the weigher? where he who counted the towers? The rough people thou seest no more, the people of deep inaudible lip, of stammering unintelligible tongue.” The dreadful past is so thoroughly forced out of mind by the glorious present, that they are obliged to turn back their thoughts (hâgâh, meditari, as Jerome renders it) to remember it at all. The sōphēr who had the management of the raising of the tribute, the shōqēl who tested the weight of the gold and silver, the sōpher 'eth hammigdâl who drew up the plan of the city to be besieged or stormed, are all vanished. The rough people (נועז עם, the niphal of עזז, from יעז), that had shown itself so insolent, so shameless, and so insatiable in its demands, has become invisible. This attribute is a perfectly appropriate one; and the explanation given by Rashi, Vitringa, Ewald, and Fürst, who take it in the sense of lō‛ēz in Psa 114:1, is both forced and groundless. The expressions ‛imkē and nil‛ag refer to the obscure and barbarous sound of their language; misshemōă to the unintelligibility of their speech; and בּינה אין to the obscurity of their meaning. Even if the Assyrians spoke a Semitic language,

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they were of so totally different a nationality, and their manners were so entirely different, that their language must have sounded even more foreign to an Israelite than Dutch to a German.

Verse 20 Edit

And how will Jerusalem look when Asshur has been dashed to pieces on the strong fortress? The prophet passes over here into the tone of Psa 48:1-14 (Psa 48:13, Psa 48:14). Psa 46:1-11 and Psa 48:1-14 probably belong to the time of Jehoshaphat; but they are equally applicable to the deliverance of Jerusalem in the time of Hezekiah. “Look upon Zion, the castle of our festal meeting. Thine eyes will see Jerusalem, a pleasant place, a tent that does not wander about, whose pegs are never drawn, and none of whose cords are ever broken.” Jerusalem stands there unconquered and inviolable, the fortress where the congregation of the whole land celebrates its feasts, a place full of good cheer (Isa 32:18), in which everything is now arranged for a continuance. Jerusalem has come out of tribulation stronger than ever - not a nomadic wandering tent (tsâ‛am, a nomad word, to wander, lit., to pack up = tâ‛an in Gen 45:17), but one set up for a permanent dwelling.

Verses 21-22 Edit

It is also a great Lord who dwells therein, a faithful and almighty defender. “No, there dwells for us a glorious One, Jehovah; a place of streams, canals of wide extent, into which no fleet of rowing vessels ventures, and which no strong man of war shall cross. For Jehovah is our Judge; Jehovah is our war-Prince; Jehovah is our King; He will bring us salvation.” Following upon the negative clauses in Isa 33:20, the next v. commences with kı̄ 'im (imo). Glorious (‘addı̄r) is Jehovah, who has overthrown Lebanon, i.e., Assyria (Isa 10:34). He dwells in Jerusalem for the good of His people - a place of streams, i.e., one resembling a place of streams, from the fact that He dwells therein. Luzzatto is right in maintaining, that בּו and יעברנּוּ point back to מקום, and therefore that mekōm is neither equivalent to loco (tachath, instead of), which would be quite possible indeed, as 1Ki 21:19, if not Hos 2:1, clearly proves (cf., 1Ki 22:38), nor used in the sense of substitution or compensation. The meaning is, that, by virtue of Jehovah's dwelling there, Jerusalem had become a place, or equivalent to a place, or broad streams, like those which in other instances defended the cities they surrounded (e.g., Babylon, the “twisted snake,” Isa 27:1), and of broad canals,

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which kept off the enemy, like moats around a fortification. The word יארים was an Egyptian word, that had become naturalized in Hebrew; nevertheless it is a very natural supposition, that the prophet was thinking of the No of Egypt, which was surrounded by waters, probably Nile-canals (see Winer, R.W. Nah 3:8). The adjective in which yâdaim brings out with greater force the idea of breadth, as in Isa 22:18 (“on both sides”), belongs to both the nouns, which are placed side by side, ὰσυνδέτως (because permutative). The presence of Jehovah was to Jerusalem what the broadest streams and canals were to other cities; and into these streams and canals, which Jerusalem had around it spiritually in Jehovah Himself, no rowing vessels ventured בּ הלך, ingredi). Luzzatto renders the word “ships of roving,” i.e., pirate ships; but this is improbable, as shūt, when used as a nautical word, signifies to row. Even a majestic tsı̄, i.e., trieris magna, could not cross it: a colossal vessel of this size would be wrecked in these mighty and dangerous waters. The figure is the same as that in Isa 26:1. In the consciousness of this inaccessible and impenetrable defence, the people of Jerusalem gloried in their God, who watched as a shōphēt over Israel's rights and honour, who held as mechoqēq the commander's rod, and ruled as melekh in the midst of Israel; so that for every future danger it was already provided with the most certain help.

Verses 23-24 Edit

Now indeed it was apparently very different from this. It was not Assyria, but Jerusalem, that was like a ship about to be wrecked; but when that which had just been predicted should be fulfilled, Jerusalem, at present so powerless and sinful, would be entirely changed. “Thy ropes hang loose; they do not hold fast the support of thy mast; they do not hold the flag extended: then is booty of plunder divided in abundance; even lame men share the prey. And not an inhabitant will say, I am weak: the people settled there have their sins forgiven.” Nearly every commentator (even Luzzatto) has taken Isa 33:23 as addressed to Assyria, which, like a proud vessel of war, would cross the encircling river by which Jerusalem was surrounded. But Drechsler has very properly given up this view. The address itself, with the suffix ayikh (see at Isa 1:26), points to Jerusalem; and the reference to this gives the most appropriate sense, whilst the contrast

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between the now and then closes the prophecy in the most glorious manner. Jerusalem is now a badly appointed ship, dashed about by the storm, the sport of the waves. Its rigging hangs loose (Jerome, laxati sunt); it does not hold the kēn tornâm fast, i.e., the support of their mast, or cross beam with a hole in it, into which the mast is slipped (the mesodme of Homer, Od. xv 289), which is sure to go to ruin along with the falling mast, if the ropes do not assist its bearing power (malum sustinentes thecae succurrant, as Vitruvius says). And so the ropes of the ship Jerusalem do not keep the nēs spread out, i.e., the ἐπίσημον of the ship, whether we understand by it a flag or a sail, with a device worked upon it (see Winer, R.W. s. v. Schiffe). And this is the case with Jerusalem now; but then (‘âz) it will be entirely different. Asshur is wrecked, and Jerusalem enriches itself, without employing any weapons, from the wealth of the Assyrian camp. It was with a prediction of this spoiling of Asshur that the prophet commenced in Isa 33:1; so that the address finishes as it began. But the closing words of the prophet are, that the people of Jerusalem are now strong in God, and are עון נשׂא (as in Psa 32:1), lifted up, taken away from their guilt. A people humbled by punishment, penitent, and therefore pardoned, would then dwell in Jerusalem. The strength of Israel, and all its salvation, rest upon the forgiveness of its sins. Finale of the Judgment upon All the World (More Especially upon Edom); Redemption of the People of Jehovah - Isaiah 34-35 part vi
These two chapters stand in precisely the same relation to chapters 28-33 as chapters 24-27 to chapters 13-23. In both instances the special prophecies connected with the history of the prophet's own times are followed by a comprehensive finale of an apocalyptic character. We feel that we are carried entirely

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away from the stage of history. There is no longer that foreshortening, by which the prophet's perspective was characterized before the fall of Assyria. The tangible shapes of the historical present, by which we have been hitherto surrounded, are now spiritualized into something perfectly ideal. We are transported directly into the midst of the last things; and the eschatological vision is less restricted, has greater mystical depth, belongs more to another sphere, and has altogether more of a New Testament character. The totally different impression which is thus made by chapters 34-35, as compared with chapters 28-33, must not cause any misgivings as to the authenticity of this closing prophecy. The relation in which Jeremiah and Zephaniah stand to chapters 34 and Isa 35:1-10, is quite sufficient to drive all doubts away. (Read Caspari's article, “Jeremiah a Witness to the Genuineness of Isaiah 34, and therefore also to the Genuineness of Isaiah; 13:1-14:23, and Isa 21:1-10,” in the Lutherische Zeitschrift, 1843, 2; and Nägelsbach's Jeremia und Babylon, pp. 107-113, on the relation of Jer 50-51 more especially to Isaiah 34-35.) There are many passages in Jeremiah (viz., Jer 25:31, Jer 25:22-23; Jer 46:10; Jer 50:27, Jer 50:39; Jer 51:40) which cannot be explained in any other way than on the supposition that Jeremiah had the prophecy of Isaiah in chapter 34 before him. We cannot escape from the conclusion, that just as we find Jeremiah introducing earlier prophecies generally into his cycle of prophecies against the nations, and, in the addresses already mentioned, borrowing from Amos and Nahum, and placing side by side with a passage from Amos (compare Jer 25:30 with Amo 1:2) one of a similar character, and agreeing with Isaiah 34, so he also had Isaiah 34 and Isa 35:1-10 before him, and reproduced it in the same sense as he did other and earlier models. It is equally certain that Zep 1:7-8, and Zep 2:14, stand in a dependent relation to Isa 34:6, Isa 34:11; just as Zep 2:15 was taken from Isa 47:8, and Zep 1:7 fin. and Isa 3:11 from Isa 13:3; whilst Zep 2:14 also points back to Isa 13:21-22. We might, indeed, reverse the relation, and make Jeremiah and Zephaniah into the originals in the case of the passages mentioned; but this is opposed to the generally reproductive and secondary character of both these prophets, and also to the evident features of the passages in question. We might also

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follow Movers, De Wette, and Hitzig, who get rid of the testimony of Isaiah by assuming that the passages resting upon Isaiah 34, and other disputed prophecies of Isaiah, are interpolated; but this is opposed to the moral character of all biblical prophecy, and, moreover, it could only apply to Jeremiah, not to Zephaniah. We must in this case “bring reason into captivity to obedience” to the external evidence; though internal evidence also is not wanting to set a seal upon these external proofs. Just as chapters 24-27 are full of the clearest marks of Isaiah's authorship, so is it also with chapters 34-35. It is not difficult to understand the marked contrast which we find between these two closing prophecies and the historical prophecies of the Assyrian age. These two closing prophecies were appended to chapters 13-23 and 28-33 at the time when Isaiah revised the complete collection. They belong to the latest revelations received by the prophet, to the last steps by which he reached that ideal height at which he soars in chapters 40-66, and from which he never descends again to the stage of passing history, which lay so far beneath. After the fall of Assyria, and when darkness began to gather on the horizon again, Isaiah broke completely away from his own times. “The end of all things” became more and more his own true home. The obscure foreground of his prophecies is no longer Asshur, which he has done with now so far as prophecy is concerned, but Babel (Babylon). And the bright centre of his prophecies is not the fall of Asshur (for this was already prophetically a thing of the past, which had not been followed by complete salvation), but deliverance from Babylon. And the bright noon-day background of his prophecies is no longer the realized idea of the kingdom of prophecy - realized, that is to say, in the one person of the Messiah, whose form had lost the sharp outlines of chapters 7-12 even in the prophecies of Hezekiah's time - but the parousia of Jehovah, which all flesh would see. It was the revelation of the mystery of the incarnation of God, for which all this was intended to prepare the way. And there was no other way in which that could be done, than by completing the perfect portrait of the Messiah in the light of the ultimate future, so that both the factors in the prophecy might be assimilated. The spirit of Isaiah, more than that of any other prophet, was the laboratory of this great

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process in the history of revelation. The prophetic cycles in chapters 24-27 and 34-35 stand in the relation of preludes to it. In chapters 40-66 the process of assimilation is fully at work, and there is consequently no book of the Old Testament which has gone so thoroughly into New Testament depths, as this second part of the collection of Isaiah's prophecies, which commences with a prediction of the parousia of Jehovah, and ends with the creation of the new heaven and new earth. Chapters 34 and Isa 35:1-10 are, as it were, the first preparatory chords. Edom here is what Moab was in chapters 24-27. By the side of Babylon, the empire of the world, whose policy of conquest led to its enslaving Israel, it represents the world in its hostility to Israel as the people of Jehovah. For Edom was Israel's brother-nation, and hated Israel as the chosen people. In this its unbrotherly, hereditary hatred, it represented the sum-total of all the enemies and persecutors of the church of Jehovah. The special side-piece to chapter 34 is Isa 63:1-6.

Chap. 34 Edit

Verses 1-3 Edit

What the prophet here foretells relates to all nations, and to every individual within them, in their relation to the congregation of Jehovah. He therefore commences with the appeal in Isa 34:1-3 : “Come near, ye peoples, to hear; and he nations, attend. Let the earth hear, and that which fills it, the world, and everything that springs from it. For the indignation of Jehovah will fall upon all nations, and burning wrath upon all their host; He has laid the ban upon them, delivered them to the slaughter. And their slain are cast away, and their corpses - their stench will arise, and mountains melt with their blood.” The summons does not invite them to look upon the completion of the judgment, but to hear the prophecy of the future judgment; and it is issued to everything on the earth, because it would all have to endure the judgment upon the nations (see at Isa 5:25; Isa 13:10). The expression qetseph layehōvâh implies that Jehovah was ready to execute His wrath (compare yōm layehōvâh in Isa 34:8 and Isa 2:12). The nations that are hostile to Jehovah are slaughtered, the bodies remain unburied, and the streams of blood loosen the firm masses of the mountains, so that they melt away. On the stench of the corpses, compare Eze 39:11. Even if châsam, in this instance, does not mean “to take away the breath with the stench,” there

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is no doubt that Ezekiel had this prophecy of Isaiah in his mind, when prophesying of the destruction of Gog and Magog (Ezek 39).

Verse 4 Edit

The judgment foretold by Isaiah also belongs to the last things; for it takes place in connection with the simultaneous destruction of the present heaven and the present earth.”And all the host of the heavens moulder away, and the heavens are rolled up like a scroll, and all their host withers as a leaf withers away from the vine, and like withered leaves from the fig-tree” (Nâmaq, to be dissolved into powdered mother (Isa 3:24; Isa 5:24); nâgōl (for nâgal, like nâzōl in Isa 63:19; Isa 64:2, and nârōts in Ecc 12:6), to be rolled up - a term applied to the cylindrical book-scroll. The heaven, that is to say, the present system of the universe, breaks up into atoms, and is rolled up like a book that has been read through; and the stars fall down as a withered leaf falls from a vine, when it is moved by even the lightest breeze, or like the withered leaves shaken from the fig-tree. The expressions are so strong, that they cannot be understood in any other sense than as relating to the end of the world (Isa 65:17; Isa 66:22; compare Mat 24:29). It is not sufficient to say that “the stars appear to fall to the earth,” though even Vitringa gives this explanation.
When we look, however, at the following kı̄ (for), it undoubtedly appears strange that the prophet should foretell the passing away of the heavens, simply because Jehovah judges Edom. But Edom stands here as the representative of all powers that are hostile to the church of God as such, and therefore expresses an idea of the deepest and widest cosmical signification (as Isa 24:21 clearly shows). And it is not only a doctrine of Isaiah himself, but a biblical doctrine universally, that God will destroy the present world as soon as the measure of the sin which culminates in unbelief, and in the persecution of the congregation of the faithful, shall be really full.

Verses 5-7 Edit

If we bear this in mind, we shall not be surprised that the prophet gives the following reason for the passing away of the present heavens. “For my sword has become intoxicated in the heaven; behold, it comes down upon Edom, and upon the people of my ban to judgment. The sword of Jehovah fills itself with blood, is fattened with fat, with blood

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of lambs and he-goats, with kidney-fat of rams; for Jehovah has a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Edom. And buffaloes fall with them, and bullocks together with bulls; and their land become intoxicated with blood, and their dust fattened with fat.” Just as in chapter 63 Jehovah is represented as a treader of the wine-press, and the nations as the grapes; so here He is represented as offering sacrifice, and the nations as the animals offered (zebhach: cf., Zep 1:7; Jer 46:10); Eze 39:17.: all three passages founded upon this). Jehovah does not appear here in person as judge, as He does there, but His sword appears; just as in Gen 3:24, the “sword which turned every way” is mentioned as an independent power standing by the side of the cherub. The sword is His executioner, which has no sooner drunk deeply of wrath in heaven, i.e., in the immediate sphere of the Deity (rivvethâh, an intensive form of the kal, like pittēăch, Isa 48:8; Ewald, §120,d), than it comes down in wild intoxication upon Edom, the people of the ban of Jehovah, i.e., the people upon whom He has laid the ban, and there, as His instrument of punishment, fills itself with blood, and fattens itself with fat. הדּשׁנה is the hothpaal = התדּשׁנה, with the ת of the preformative syllable assimilated (compare הזּכּוּ in Isa 1:16, and אדּמּה in Isa 14:14). The penultimate has the tone, the nâh being treated as in the plural forms of the future. The dropping of the dagesh in the שׁ eht ni hse is connected with this. The reading מחלב, in Isa 34:6, is an error that has been handed down in modern copies (in opposition to both codices and ancient editions); for חלב (primary form, chilb) is the only form met with in the Old Testament. The lambs, he-goats, and rams, represent the Edomitish nation, which is compared to these smaller sacrificial animals. Edom and Bozrah are also placed side by side in Isa 63:1. The latter was one of the chief cities of the Edomites (Gen 36:33; Amo 1:12; Jer 49:13, Jer 49:22) - not the Bozrah in Auranitis (Haurân), however, which is well known in church history, but Bozrah in the mountains of Edom, upon the same site as the village of Buzaire (i.e., Minor Bozrah), which is still surrounded by its ruins. In contrast with the three names of the smaller animals in Isa 34:6, the three names of oxen in Isa 34:7 represent the lords of Edom. They also will fall, smitten by the sword (yâredū: cf., Jer 50:27; Jer 51:40;

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also Jer 48:15). The feast of the sword is so abundant, that even the earth and the dust of the land of Edom are satiated with blood and fat.

Verses 8-10 Edit

Thus does Jehovah avenge His church upon Edom. “For Jehovah hath a day of vengeance, a year of recompense, to contend for Zion. And the brooks of Edom are turned into pitch, and its dust into brimstone, and its land becomes burning pitch. Day and night it is not quenched; the smoke of Edom goes up for ever: it lies waste from generation to generation; no one passes through it for ever and ever.” The one expression, “to contend for Zion,” is like a flash of lightning, throwing light upon the obscurity of prophecy, both backwards and forwards. A day and a year of judgment upon Edom (compare Isa 61:2; Isa 63:4) would do justice to Zion against its accusers and persecutors (rı̄bh, vindicare, as in Isa 51:22). The everlasting punishment which would fall upon it is depicted in figures and colours, suggested by the proximity of Edom to the Dead Sea, and the volcanic character of this mountainous country. The unquenchable fire (for which compare Isa 66:24), and the eternally ascending smoke (cf., Rev 19:3), prove that the end of all things is referred to. The prophet meant primarily, no doubt, that the punishment announced would fall upon the land of Edom, and within its geographical boundaries; but this particular punishment represented the punishment of all nations, and all men who were Edomitish in their feelings and conduct towards the congregation of Jehovah.

Verses 11-12 Edit

The land of Edom, in this geographical and also emblematical sense, would become a wilderness; the kingdom of Edom would be for ever destroyed. “And pelican and hedgehog take possession of it, and eared-owl and raven dwell there; and he stretches over it the measure of Tohu and the level of Bohu. Its nobles - there is no longer a monarchy which they elected; and all its princes come to nought.” The description of the ruin, which commences in Isa 34:11 with a list of animals that frequent marshy and solitary regions, is similar to the one in Isa 13:20-22; Isa 14:23 (compare Zep 2:14, which is founded upon this). Isaiah's was the original of all such pictures of ruin which we meet with in the later prophets. The qippōd is the hedgehog, although we find it here in the company of birds (from qâphad,

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to draw one's self together, to roll up; see Isa 14:23). קאת is written here with a double kametz, as well as in Zep 2:14, according to codd. and Kimchi, W.B. (Targ. qâth, elsewhere qâq; Saad. and Abulwalid, qûq: see at Psa 102:7). According to well-established tradition, it is the long-necked pelican, which lives upon fish (the name is derived either from קוא, to vomit, or, as the construct is קאת, from a word קאה, formed in imitation of the animal's cry). Yanshūph is rendered by the Targum qı̄ppōphı̄n (Syr. kafûfo), i.e., eared-owls, which are frequently mentioned in the Talmud as birds of ill omen (Rashi, or Berachoth 57b, chouette). As the parallel to qâv, we have אבני (stones) here instead of משׁקלת, the level, in Isa 28:17. It is used in the same sense, however - namely, to signify the weight used in the plumb or level, which is suspended by a line. The level and the measure are commonly employed for the purpose of building up; but here Jehovah is represented as using these fore the purpose of pulling down (a figure met with even before the time of Isaiah: vid., Amo 7:7-9, cf., 2Ki 21:13; Lam 2:8), inasmuch as He carries out this negative reverse of building with the same rigorous exactness as that with which a builder carries out his well-considered plan, and throws Edom back into a state of desolation and desert, resembling the disordered and shapeless chaos of creation (compare Jer 4:23, where tōhū vâbhōhū represents, as it does here, the state into which a land is reduced by fire). תהוּ has no dagesh lene; and this is one of the three passages in which the opening mute is without a dagesh, although the word not only follows, but is closely connected with, one which has a soft consonant as its final letter (the others are Psa 68:18 and Eze 23:42). Thus the primeval kingdom with its early monarchy, which is long preceded that of Israel, is brought to an end (Gen 36:31). חריה stands at the head as a kind of protasis. Edom was an elective monarchy; the hereditary nobility electing the new king. But this would be done no more. The electoral princes of Edom would come to nothing. Not a trace would be left of all that had built up the glory of Edom.

Verses 13-15 Edit

The allusion to the monarchy and the lofty electoral dignity leads the prophet on to the palaces and castles of the land. Starting with these, he carries out the picture of the ruins in Isa 34:13-15. “And the palaces of Edom break out into thorns,

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nettles and thistles in its castles; and it becomes the abode of wild dogs, pasture for ostriches. And martens meet with jackals, and a wood-devil runs upon its fellow; yea, Liiliith dwells there, and finds rest for itself. There the arrow-snake makes its nest, and breeds and lays eggs, and broods in the shadow there; yea, there vultures gather together one to another.” The feminine suffixes refer to Edom, as they did in the previous instance, as בּת־אדום or אדום ארץ. On the tannı̄m, tsiyyı̄m, and ‘iyyı̄m, see at Isa 13:21-22. It is doubtful whether châtsı̄r here corresponds to the Arabic word for an enclosure (= חצר), as Gesenius, Hitzig, and others suppose, as elsewhere to the Arabic for green, a green field, or garden vegetable. We take it in the latter sense, viz., a grassy place, such as was frequented by ostriches, which live upon plants and fruits. The word tsiyyim (steppe animals) we have rendered “martens,” as the context requires a particular species of animals to be named. This is the interpretation given by Rashi (in loc.) and Kimchi in Jer 50:39 to the Targum word tamvân. We do not render ‘iyyı̄m “wild cats” (chattūilin), but “jackals,” after the Arabic. קרא with על we take in the sense of קרה (as in Exo 5:3). Lı̄lı̄th (Syr. and Zab. lelitho), lit., the creature of the night, was a female demon (shēdâh) of the popular mythology; according to the legends, it was a malicious fairy that was especially hurtful to children, like some of the fairies of our own fairy tales. There is life in Edom still; but what a caricature of that which once was there! In the very spot where the princes of Edom used to proclaim the new king, satyrs now invite one another to dance (Isa 13:21); and there kings and princes once slept in their palaces and country houses, the lı̄lı̄th, which is most at home in horrible places, finds, as though after a prolonged search, the most convenient and most comfortable resting-place. Demons and serpents are not very far distant from one another. The prophet therefore proceeds in Isa 34:15 to the arrow-snake, or springing-snake (Arabic qiffâze, from qâphaz, related to qâphats, Sol 2:8, to prepare for springing, or to spring; a different word from qippōd, which has the same root). This builds its nest in the ruins; there it breeds (millēt, to let its eggs slide out) and lays eggs (bâqa‛, to split, i.e., to bring forth); and then it broods in the shade (dâgar is the Targum word in Job 39:14 for chimmēm (ithpael in Lam 1:20

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for חמרמר), and is also used in the rabbinical writings for fovere, as Jerome renders it here). The literal sense of the word is probably to keep the eggs together (Targum, Jer 17:11, בּעין מכנּשׁ, lxx συνήγαγεν), since דּגר (syn. חמּר) signifies “to collect.” Rashi has therefore explained it in both passages as meaning glousser, to cluck, the noise by which a fowl calls its brood together. The dayyâh is the vulture. These fowls and most gregarious birds of prey also collect together there.

Verses 16-17 Edit

Whenever any one compared the prophecy with the fulfilment, they would be found to coincide. “Search in the book of Jehovah, and read! Not one of the creatures fails, not one misses the other: for my mouth - it has commanded it; and His breath - it has brought them together. And He has cast the lot for them, and His hand has assigned it (this land)to them by measure: they will possess it for ever; to generation and generation they will dwell therein.” The phrase על כּתב is used for entering in a book, inasmuch as what is written there is placed upon the page; and מעל דּרשׁ for searching in a book, inasmuch as a person leans over the book when searching in it, and gets the object of his search out of it. The prophet applied the title “The Book of Jehovah” to his collection of the prophecies with which Jehovah had inspired him, and which He had commanded him to write down. Whoever lived to see the time when the judgment should come upon Edom, would have only to look inquiringly into this holy scripture; and if he compared what was predicted there with what had been actually realized, he would find the most exact agreement between them. The creatures named, which loved to frequent the marshes and solitary places, and ruins, would all really make their homes in what had once been Edom. But the satyrs and the lı̄lı̄th, which were only the offspring of the popular belief - what of them? They, too, would be there; for in the sense intended by the prophet they were actual devils, which he merely calls by well-known popular names to produce a spectral impression. Edom would really become a rendezvous for all the animals mentioned, as well as for such unearthly spirits as those which he refers to here. The prophet, or rather Jehovah, whose temporary organ he was, still further confirms this by saying, “My mouth hath commanded it, and His breath has brought them (all these creatures) together.” As the first creating

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word proceeded from the mouth of Jehovah, so also does the word of prophecy, which resembles such a word; and the breath of the mouth of Jehovah, i.e., His Spirit, is the power which accomplishes the fiat of prophecy, as it did that of creation, and moulds all creatures and their history according to the will and counsel of God (Psa 33:6). In the second part of Isa 34:16 the prophet is speaking of Jehovah; whereas in the first Jehovah speaks through him - a variation which vanishes indeed if we read פּיו (Olshausen on Job 9:2), or, what would be better, פּיהוּ, but which may be sustained by a hundred cases of a similar kind. There is a shadow, as it were, of this change in the להם, which alternates with להן in connection with the animals named. The suffix of chilleqattâh (without mappik, as in 1Sa 1:6) refers to the land of Edom. Edom is, as it were, given up by a divine lot, and measured off with a divine measure, to be for ever the horrible abode of beasts and demons such as those described. A prelude of the fulfilment of this swept over the mountainous land of Edom immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem (see Köhler on Mal 1:2-5); and it has never risen to its previous state of cultivation again. It swarms with snakes, and the desolate mountain heights and barren table-lands are only inhabited by wild crows and eagles, and great flocks of birds. But the ultimate fulfilment, to which the appeal in Isa 34:16 refers, is still in the future, and will eventually fall upon the abodes of those who spiritually belong to that circle of hostility to Jehovah (Jesus) and His church, of which ancient Edom was merely the centre fixed by the prophet.

Chap. 35 Edit

Verses 1-2 Edit

Edom falls, never to rise again. Its land is turned into a horrible wilderness. But, on the other hand, the wilderness through which the redeemed Israel returns, is changed into a flowery field. “Gladness fills the desert and the heath; and the steppe rejoices, and flowers like the crocus. It flowers abundantly, and rejoices; yea, rejoicing and singing: the glory of Lebanon is given to it, the splendour of Carmel and the plain of Sharon; they will see the glory of Jehovah, the splendour of our God.” מדבּר ישׂשׂוּם (to be accentuated with tiphchah munach, not with mercha tiphchah) has been correctly explained by Aben-Ezra. The original Nun has been assimilated to the following Mem, just as pidyōn in Num 3:49 is afterwards

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written pidyōm (Ewald, §91,b). The explanation given by Rashi, Gesenius, and others (laetabuntur his), is untenable, if only because sūs (sı̄s) cannot be construed with the accusative of the object (see at Isa 8:6); and to get rid of the form by correction, as Olshausen proposes, is all the more objectionable, because “the old full plural in ūn is very frequently met with before Mem” (Böttcher), in which case it may have been pronounced as it is written here.[8]
According to the Targum on Sol 2:1 (also Saad., Abulw.), the chăbhatstseleth is the narcissus; whilst the Targum on the passage before us leaves it indefinite - sicut lilia. The name (a derivative of bâtsal) points to a bulbous plant, probably the crocus and primrose, which were classed together.[9]
The sandy steppe would become like a lovely variegated plain covered with meadow flowers.[10]
On gı̄lath, see at Isa 33:6 (cf., Isa 65:18): the infin. noun takes the place of an inf. abs., which expresses the abstract verbal idea, though in a more rigid manner; ‘aph (like gam in Gen 31:15; Gen 46:4) is an exponent of the increased emphasis already implied in the gerunds that come after. So joyful and so gloriously adorned will the barren desert, which has been hitherto so mournful, become, on account of the great things that are in store for it. Lebanon, Carmel, and Sharon have, as it were, shared their splendour with the desert, that all might be clothed alike in festal dress, when the glory of Jehovah, which surpasses everything self in

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its splendour, should appear; that glory which they would not only be privileged to behold, but of which they would be honoured to be the actual scene.

Verses 3-4 Edit

The prophet now exclaims to the afflicted church, in language of unmixed consolation, that Jehovah is coming. “Strengthen ye the weak hands, and make the trembling knees strong! Say to those of a terrified heart, Be strong! Fear ye not! Behold, your God will come for vengeance, for a divine retribution: He will come, and bring you salvation.” Those who have become weak in faith, hopeless and despairing, are to cheer up; and the stronger are to tell such of their brethren as are perplexed and timid, to be comforted now: for Jehovah is coming nâqâm (i.e., as vengeance), and gemūl ‘Elōhı̄m (i.e., as retribution, such as God the highly exalted and Almighty Judge inflicts; the expression is similar to that in Isa 30:27; Isa 13:9, cf., Isa 40:10, but a bolder one; the words in apposition stand as abbreviations of final clauses). The infliction of punishment is the immediate object of His coming, but the ultimate object is the salvation of His people (וישעכם a contracted future form, which is generally confined to the aorist).

Verses 5-7 Edit

Isa 35:5-7“Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame man leap as the stag, and the tongue of the dumb man shout; for waters break out in the desert, and brooks in the steppe. And the mirage becomes a fish-pond, and the thirsty ground gushing water-springs; in the place of jackals, where it lies, there springs up grass with reeds and rushes.” The bodily defects mentioned here there is no reason for regarding as figurative representations of spiritual defects. The healing of bodily defects, however, is merely the outer side of what is actually effected by the coming of Jehovah (for the other side, comp. Isa 32:3-4). And so, also, the change of the desert into a field abounding with water is not a mere poetical ornament; for in the last times, he era of redemption, nature itself will really share in the doxa which proceeds from the manifested God to His redeemed. Shârâb (Arab. sarâb) is essentially the same thing as that which we call in the western languages the mirage, or Fata morgana; not indeed every variety of this phenomenon of the refraction of light, through strata of air of varying density lying one above another, but more especially that appearance of water, which is

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produced as if by magic in the dry, sandy desert[11] (literally perhaps the “desert shine,” just as we speak of the “Alpine glow;” see Isa 49:10). The antithesis to this is ‘ăgam (Chald. ‘agmâ’, Syr. egmo, Ar. agam), a fish-pond (as in Isa 41:18, different from ‘âgâm in Isa 19:10). In the arid sandy desert, where the jackal once had her lair and suckled her young (this is, according to Lam 4:3, the true explanation of the permutative ribhtsâh, for which ribhtsâm would be in some respects more suitable), grass springs up even into reeds and rushes; so that, as Isa 43:20 affirms, the wild beasts of the desert praise Jehovah.

Verses 8-10 Edit

In the midst of such miracles, by which all nature is glorified, the people of Jehovah are redeemed, and led home to Zion. “And a highway rises there, and a road, and it will be called the Holy Road; no unclean man will pass along it, as it is appointed for them: whoever walks the road, even simple ones do not go astray. There will be no lion there, and the most ravenous beast of prey will not approach it, will not be met with there; and redeemed ones walk. And the ransomed of Jehovah will return, and come to Zion with shouting, and everlasting joy upon their head: they lay hold of gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing flee away.” Not only unclean persons from among the heathen, but even unclean persons belonging to Israel itself, will never pass along that holy road; none but the church purified and sanctified through sufferings, and those connected with it. למו הוּא, to them, and to them alone, does this road belong, which Jehovah has made and secured, and which so readily strikes the eye, that even an idiot could not miss it; whilst it lies to high, that no beast of prey, however powerful (perı̄ts chayyōth, a superlative verbal noun: Ewald, §313,c), could possibly leap up to it: not one is ever encountered by the pilgrim there. The pilgrims are those whom Jehovah has redeemed and delivered, or set free from captivity and affliction (גּאל, לג, related to חל, solvere; פּדה, פד, scindere, abscindere). Everlasting joy soars above their head; they lay fast hold of delight and joy (compare on Isa 13:8), so that it never departs from them. On the other hand, sorrow and sighing flee away. The whole of Isa 35:10 is like a mosaic from Isa 51:11; Isa 61:7; Isa 51:3; and what is affirmed of the holy road,

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is also affirmed in Isa 52:1 of the holy city (compare Isa 62:12; Isa 63:4). A prelude of the fulfilment is seen in what Ezra speaks of with gratitude to God in Ezr 8:31. We have intentionally avoided crowding together the parallel passages from chapters 40-66. The whole chapter is, in every part, both in thought and language, a prelude of that book of consolation for the exiles in their captivity. Not only in its spiritual New Testament thoughts, but also in its ethereal language, soaring high as it does in majestic softness and light, the prophecy has now reached the highest point of its development. Fulfilments of Prophecy; Prophecies Belonging to the Fourteenth Year of Hezekiah's Reign; and the Times Immediately Following - Isaiah 36-39 part vii
To the first six books of Isaiah's prophecies there is now appended a seventh. The six form three syzygies. In the “Book of Hardening,” chapters 1-6 (apart from chapter 1, which belonged to the times of Uzziah and Jotham), we saw Israel's day of grace brought to an end. In the “Book of Immanuel,” chapters 7-12 (from the time of Ahaz), we saw the judgment of hardening and destruction in its first stage of accomplishment; but Immanuel was pledge that, even if the great mass should perish, neither the whole of Israel nor the house of David would be destroyed. The separate judgments through which the way was to be prepared for the kingdom of Immanuel, are announced in the “Book concerning the Nations,” chapters 13-23 (from the time of Ahaz and Hezekiah); and the general judgment in which they would issue, and after which a new Israel would triumph, is foretold in the “Book of the great Catastrophe,” chapters 24-27 (after the fifteenth year of Hezekiah). These two syzygies form the first great orbit of the collection. A second opens with the “Book of Woes, or of the Precious Corner-stone,” chapters 28-33 (ch. 28-32,

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from the first years of Hezekiah, and chapter 33 from the fourteenth year), by the side of which is placed the “Book of the Judgment upon Edom, and of the Restoration of Israel,” chapters 34-35 (after Hezekiah's fifteenth year). The former shows how Ephraim succumbs to the power of Asshur, and Judah's trust in Egypt is put to shame; the latter, how the world, with its hostility to the church, eventually succumbs to the vengeance of Jehovah, whereas the church itself is redeemed and glorified. Then follows, in chapters 36-39, a “Book of Histories,” which returns from the ideal distances of chapters 34-35 to the historical realities of chapters 33, and begins by stating that “at the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field,” where Ahaz had formerly preferred the help of Asshur to that of Jehovah, there stood an embassy from the king of Asshur with a detachment of his army (Isa 36:2), scornfully demanding the surrender of Jerusalem.
Just as we have found throughout a well-considered succession and dovetailing of the several parts, so here we can see reciprocal bearings, which are both designed and expressive; and it is à priori a probable thing that Isaiah, who wrote the historical introduction to the Judaeo-Assyrian drama in the second book, is the author of the concluding act of the same drama, which is here the subject of Book 7. The fact that the murder of Sennacherib is related in Isa 37:37-38, in accordance with the prophecy in Isa 37:7, does not render this impossible, since, according to credible tradition, Isaiah outlived Hezekiah. The assertion made by Hitzig and others - that the speciality of the prophecy, and the miraculous character of the events recorded in chapters 36-39, preclude the possibility of Isaiah's authorship, inasmuch as, “according to a well-known critical rule,” such special prophecies as these are always vaticinia ex eventu, and accounts of miracles are always more recent than their historical germ - rests upon a foregone conclusion which was completed before any investigation took place, and which we have good ground for rejecting, although we are well acquainted with the valuable service that has been rendered by this philosopher's stone. The statement that accounts of miracles as such are never contemporaneous with the events themselves, is altogether at variance with experience; and if the advance from the general to the particular were to

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be blotted out of Isaiah's prophecy in relation to Asshur, this would be not only unhistorical, but unpsychological also.
The question whether Isaiah is the author of chapters 36-39 or not, is bound up with the question whether the original place of these histories is in the book of Isaiah or the book of Kings, where the whole passage is repeated with the exception of Hezekiah's psalm of thanksgiving (2 Kings 18:13-20:19). We shall find that the text of the book of Kings is in several places the purer and more authentic of the two (though not so much so as a biassed prejudice would assume), from which it apparently follows that this section is not in its original position in the book of Isaiah, but has been taken from some other place and inserted there. But this conclusion is a deceptive one. In the relation in which Jer 52 and 2 Kings 24:18-25:30 stand to one another, we have a proof that the text of a passage may be more faithfully preserved in a secondary place than in its original one. For in this particular instance it is equally certain that the section relating to king Zedekiah and the Chaldean catastrophe was written by the author of the book of Kings, whose style was formed on that of Deuteronomy, and also, that in the book of Jeremiah it is an appendix taken by an unknown hand from the book of the Kings. But it is also an acknowledged fact, that the text of Jer is incomparably the purer of the two, and also that there are many other instances in which the passage in the book of Kings is corrupt - that is to say, in the form in which it lies before us now - whereas the Alexandrian translator had it in his possession in a partially better form. Consequently, the fact that Isaiah 36-39 is in some respects less pure than 2 Kings 18:13-20:19, cannot be any argument in itself against the originality of this section in the book of Isaiah.
It is indeed altogether inconceivable, that the author of the book of Kings should have written it; for, on the one hand, the liberality of the prophetic addresses communicated point to a written source; and, on the other hand, it is wanting in that Deuteronomic stamp, by which the hand of this author is so easily recognised. Nor can it have been copied by him out of the annals of Hezekiah (dibhrē hayyâmı̄m), as is commonly supposed, since it is written in prophetic and not in annalistic style. Whoever has once made himself

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acquainted with these two different kinds of historical composition, the fundamentally different characteristics of which we have pointed out in the Introduction, can never by any possibility confound them again. And this passage is written in a style so peculiarly prophetical, that, like the magnificent historical accounts of Elijah, for example, which commence so abruptly in 2Ki 17:1, it must have been taken from some special and prophetical source, which had nothing to do with other prophetico-historical portions of the book of Kings. And the following facts are sufficient to raise the probability, that this source was no other than the book of Isaiah itself, into an absolute certainty. In the first place, the author of the book of Kings had the book of Isaiah amongst the different sources, of which his apparatus was composed; this is evident from 2Ki 16:5, a passage which was written with Isa 7:1 in view. And secondly, we have express, though indirect, testimony to the effect that this section, which treats of the most important epoch in Hezekiah's reign, is in its original place in the book of Isaiah. The author of the book of Chronicles says, in 2Ch 32:32 : “Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and the gracious occurrences of his life, behold, they are written in the vision (châzōn) of Isaiah the son of Amoz, and in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel.” This notice clearly proves that a certain historical account of Hezekiah had either been taken out of the collection of Isaiah's prophecies, which is headed châzōn (vision), and inserted in the “book of the kings of Judah and Israel,” or else had been so inserted along with the whole collection. The book of the Kings was the principal source employed by the chronicler, which he calls “the midrash of the book of the Kings” in 2Ch 24:27. Into this Midrash, or else into the still earlier work upon which it was a commentary, the section in question was copied from the book of Isaiah; and it follows from this, that the writer of the history of the kings made use of our book of Isaiah for one portion of the history of Hezekiah's reign, and made extracts from it. The chronicler himself did not care to repeat the whole section, which he knew to be already contained in the canonical book of Kings (to say nothing of the book of Isaiah). At the same time, his own historical account of Hezekiah in 2Ch 27:1-9

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clearly shows that he was acquainted with it, and also that the historical materials, which the annals supplied to him through the medium of the Midrash, were totally different both in substance and form from those contained in the section in question. These two testimonies are further strengthened by the fact, that Isaiah is well known to us as a historian through another passage in the Chronicles, namely, as the author of a complete history of Uzziah's reign; also by the fact, that the prophetico-historical style of chapters 36-39, with their fine, noble, pictorial prose, which is comparable to the grandest historical composition to be met with in Hebrew, is worthy of Isaiah, and bears every mark of Isaiah's pen; thirdly, by the fact, that there are other instances in which Isaiah has interwoven historical accounts with his prophecies (chapters 7-8 and Isa 20:1-6), and that in so doing he sometimes speaks of himself in the first person (Isa 6:1; Isa 8:1-4), and sometimes in the third (Isa 7:3., and Isa 20:1), just as in chapters 36-39; and fourthly, by the fact that, as we have already observed, Isa 7:3 and Isa 36:2 bear the clearest marks of having had one and the same author; and, as we shall also show, the order in which the four accounts in chapters 36-39 are arranged, corresponds to the general plan of the whole collection of prophecies - chapters 36 and 37 looking back to the prophecies of the Assyrian era, and chapters 38 and Isa 39:1-8 looking forwards to those of the Babylonian era, which is the prophet's ideal present from chapter 40 onwards.

Chap. 36 Edit

Verses 1-2 Edit

Marcus V. Niebuhr, in his History of Asshur and Babel (p. 164), says, “Why should not Hezekiah have revolted from Asshur as soon as he ascended the throne? He had a motive for doing this, which other kings had not - namely, that as he held his kingdom in fief from his God, obedience to a temporal monarch was in his case sin.” But this assumption, which is founded upon the same idea as that in which the question was put to Jesus concerning the tribute money, is not at all in accordance with Isaiah's view, as we may see from chapters 28-32; and Hezekiah's revolt cannot have occurred

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even in the sixth year of his reign. For Shalmanassar, or rather Sargon, made war upon Egypt and Ethiopia after the destruction of Samaria (Isa 20:1-6; cf., Oppert, Les Inscriptions des Sargonides, pp. 22, 27), without attempting anything against Hezekiah. It was not till the time of Sargon, who overthrew the reigning house of Assyria, that the actual preparations for the revolt were commenced, by the formation of an alliance between the kingdom of Judah on the one hand, and Egypt, and probably Philistia, on the other, the object of which was the rupture of the Assyrian yoke.[12]
The campaign of Sennacherib the son of Sargon, into which we are transported in the following history, was the third of his expeditions, the one to which Sennacherib himself refers in the inscription upon the prism: “dans ma ̄e campagne je marchai vers la Syrie.” The position which we find Sennacherib taking up between Philistia and Jerusalem, to the south-west of the latter, is a very characteristic one in relation to both the occasion and the ultimate object of the campaign.[13]
Isa 32:1 “And it came to pass in the (K.and in the)fourteenth year of king Hizkîyahu, Sancherîb king of Asshur came up against all the fortified cities of Judah, and took them. (K. adds:Then Hizkiyah king of Judah sent to the king of Asshur to Lachish, saying, I have sinned, withdraw from me again; what thou imposest upon me I will raise. And the king of Asshur imposed upon Hizkiyah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver, and thirty talents of gold. And Hizkiyah gave up all the silver that was in the house of Jehovah, and in the treasures of the king's house. At the same time Hizkiyah mutilated the doors of the temple of Jehovah, and the pillars which Hizkiyah king of Judah had plated with gold, and gave it to the king of Asshur).” This long addition, which is distinguished at once by the introduction of חזיקה in the place of חזקיהו, is probably only an annalistic interpolation, though one of great importance in relation to Isa 33:7. What follows in Isaiah does not dovetail

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well into this addition, and therefore does not presuppose its existence. Isa 36:2 “Then the king of Asshur sent Rabshakeh (K.:Tartan, and Rabsaris, and Rabshakeh)from Lachish towards Jerusalem to king Hizkiyahu with a great army, and he advanced (K.:to king H. with a great army to Jerusalem; and they went up and came to Jerusalem, and went up, and came and advanced)to the conduit of the upper pool by the road of the fuller's field.” Whereas in K. the repeated ויבאו ויעלו (and went up and came) forms a “dittography,” the names Tartan and Rab-saris have apparently dropped out of the text of Isaiah, as Isa 37:6, Isa 37:24 presuppose a plurality of messengers. The three names are not names of persons, but official titles, viz., the commander-in-chief (Tartan, which really occurs in an Assyrian list of offices; see Rawlinson, Monarchies, ii. 412), the chief cup-bearer (רבשׁקה with tzere = רבשׁקא)). The situation of Lachish is marked by the present ruins of Umm Lakis, to the south-west of Bet-Gibrin ((Eleutheropolis) in the Shephelah. The messengers come from the south-west with the ultima ratio of a strong detachment (חיל a connecting form, from חיל, like גדולה גּיא, Zec 14:4; Ewald, §287,a); they therefore halt on the western side of Jerusalem (on the locality, see at Isa 7:3; Isa 22:8-11; compare Keil on Kings).

Verses 3-10 Edit

Hezekiah's confidential ministers go there also. Isa 36:3 (K. “And they called to the king), and there went out to him ( them)Eliakim son of Hilkiyahu, the house-minister, and Shebna the chancellor, and Joah son of Asaph, the recorder.” On the office of the house-minister, or major-domo, which was now filled by Eliakim instead of Shebna (שׁבנא, K. twice שׁבנה), see Isa 22:15.; and on that of sōphēr and mazkı̄r. Rabshakeh's message follows in Isa 36:4-10 :“And Rabshakeh said to them, Say now to Hizkiyahu, Thus saith the great king, the king of Asshur, What sort of confidence is this that thou hast got? I say (K.thou sayest, i.e., thou talkest),vain talk is counsel and strength for war: now, then, in whom dost thou trust, that thou hast rebelled against me? (K. Now)Behold, thou trustest (K. לּך)in this broken reed-staff there, in Egypt, on which one leans, and it runs into his hand and pierces it; so does Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. But if thou sayest to me (K. ye say),We trust in Jehovah our God; is it

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not He whose high places and altars Hizkiyahu has removed, and has said to Judah and Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before the altar (K. ads,in Jerusalem)?And now take a wager with my lord (K. with) the king of Asshur; I will deliver thee two thousand horses, if thou art able for thy part to give horsemen upon them. And how couldst thou repel the advance of a single satrap among the least of the servants of my lord?! Thou puttest thy trust then in Egypt for chariots and riders! And (omitted in K.)now have I come up without Jehovah against this land to destroy it (K. against this place, to destroy it)?Jehovah said to me, Go up to (K. against)this land, and destroy it.” The chronicler has a portion of this address of Rabshakeh in 2Ch 32:10-12. And just as the prophetic words in the book of Kings have a Deuteronomic sound, and those in the Chronicles the ring of a chronicle, so do Rabshakeh's words, and those which follow, sound like the words of Isaiah himself. “The great king” is the standing royal title appended to the names of Sargon and Sennacherib upon the Assyrian monuments (compare Isa 10:8). Hezekiah is not thought worthy of the title of king, ether here or afterwards. The reading אמרתּ in Isa 36:5 (thou speakest vain talk) is not the preferable one, because in that case we should expect דּבּרתּ, or rather (according to the usual style) אך דּבּרתּ. The meaning is, that he must look upon Hezekiah's resolution, and his strength (וּגבוּרה עצה connected as in Isa 11:2) for going to war, as mere boasting (“lip-words,” as in Pro 14:23), and must therefore assume that there was something in the background of which he was well aware. And this must be Egypt, which would not only be of no real help to its ally, but would rather do him harm by leaving him in the lurch. The figure of a reed-staff has been borrowed by Ezekiel in Isa 29:6-7. It was a very appropriate one for Egypt, with its abundance of reeds and rushes (Isa 19:6), and it has Isaiah's peculiar ring (for the expression itself, compare Isa 42:3; and for the fact itself, Isa 30:5, and other passages). רצוּץ does not mean fragile (Luzz. quella fragil canna), but broken, namely, in consequence of the loss of the throne by the native royal family, from whom it had been wrested by the Ethiopians (Isa 18:1-7), and the defeats sustained at the hands of Sargon (Isa 20:1-6). The construction cui quis innitur et intrat is paratactic

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for cui si quis. In Isa 36:7 the reading תאמרוּן commends itself, from the fact that the sentence is not continued with הסירת; but as Hezekiah is addressed throughout, and it is to him that the reply is to be made, the original reading was probably תאמר. The fact that Hezekiah had restricted the worship of Jehovah to Jerusalem, by removing the other places of worship (2Ki 18:4), is brought against him in a thoroughly heathen, and yet at the same time (considering the inclination to worship other gods which still existed in the nation) a very crafty manner. In Isa 36:8, Isa 36:9, he throws in his teeth, with most imposing scorn, his own weakness as compared with Asshur, which was chiefly dreaded on account of its strength in cavalry and war-chariots. נא התערב does not refer to the performance and counter-performance which follow, in the sense of “connect thyself” (Luzz. associati), but is used in a similar sense to the Omeric μιγῆναι, though with the idea of vying with one another, not of engaging in war (the synonym in the Talmud is himrâh, to bet, e.g., b. Sabbath 31a): a bet and a pledge are kindred notions (Heb. ערבון, cf., Lat. vadari). On pechâh (for pachâh), which also occurs as an Assyrian title in Eze 23:6, Eze 23:23. אחד פּחת, two constructives, the first of which is to be explained according to Ewald, §286, a (compare above, Isa 36:2, כבד חיל), form the logical regens of the following servorum dominin mei minimorum; and hēshı̄bh penē does not mean here to refuse a petitioner, but to repel an antagonist (Isa 28:6). The fut. consec. ותּבטח deduces a consequence: Hezekiah could not do anything by himself, and therefore he trusted in Egypt, from which he expected chariots and horsemen. In Isa 36:10, the prophetic idea, that Asshur was the instrument employed by Jehovah (Isa 10:5, etc.), is put into the mouth of the Assyrian himself. This is very conceivable, but the colouring of Isaiah is undeniable.

Verse 11 Edit

The concluding words, in which the Assyrian boasts of having Jehovah on his side, affect the messengers of Hezekiah in the keenest manner, especially because of the people present. “Then said Eliakim (K.the son of Hilkiyahu), and Shebna, and Joah, to Rabshakeh, Pray, speak to thy servants in Aramaean, for we understand it; and do not speak to (K.with)us in Jewish, in the ears of the people that are on the wall.” They spoke Yehūdı̄th, i.e., the

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colloquial language of the kingdom of Judah. The kingdom of Israel was no longer in existence, and the language of the Israelitish nation, as a whole, might therefore already be called Judaean (Jewish), as in Neh 13:24, more especially as there may have been a far greater dialectical difference between the popular speech of the northern and southern kingdoms, than we can gather from the biblical books that were written in the one or the other. Aramaean (‘arâmı̄th), however, appears to have been even then, as it was at a later period (Ezr 4:7), the language of intercourse between the empire of Eastern Asia and the people to the west of the Tigris (compare Alex. Polyhistor in Euseb. chron. arm. i. 43, where Sennacherib is said to have erected a monument with a Chaldean inscription); and consequently educated Judaeans not only understood it, but were able to speak it, more especially those who were in the service of the state. Assyrian, on the contrary, was unintelligible to Judaeans (Isa 28:11; Isa 33:19), although this applied comparatively less to the true Assyrian dialect, which was Semitic, and can be interpreted for the most part from the Hebrew (see Oppert's “Outlines of an Assyrian Grammar” in the Journal Asiatique, 1859), than to the motley language of the Assyrian army, which was a compound of Arian and Turanian elements. The name Sennacherib (Sanchērı̄bh = סן־אסהי־ירב, lxx Sennachēreim, i.e., “Sin, the moon-god, had multiplied the brethren”) is Semitic; on the other hand, the name Tartan, which cannot be interpreted either from the Semitic or the Arian, is an example of the element referred to, which was so utterly strange to a Judaean ear.

Verse 12 Edit

The harsh reply is given in Isa 36:12. “Then Rabshakeh said (K. to them),Has my lord sent me to (K. העל)the men who sit upon the wall, to eat their dung, and to drink their urine together with you?” - namely, because their rulers were exposing them to a siege which would involve the most dreadful state of famine.

Verses 13-20 Edit

After Rabshakeh had refused the request of Hezekiah's representatives in this contemptuous manner, he turned in defiance of them to the people themselves. “Then Rabshakeh went near, and cried with a loud voice in the Jewish language (K.and spake), and said, Hear the words (K.the word)of the great king, the king of Asshur. Thus saith

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the king, Let not Hizkiyahu practise deception upon you (יסה, K.יסהיא)); for he cannot deliver you (K.out of his hand). And let not Hizkiyahu feed you with hope in Jehovah, saying, Jehovah will deliver, yea, deliver us: (K.and)this city will not be delivered into the hand of the king of Asshur. Hearken not to Hizkiyahu: for thus saith the king (hammelekh, K.melekh)of Asshur, Enter into a connection of mutual good wishes with me, and come out to me: and enjoy every one his vine, and every one his fig-tree, and drink every one the water of his cistern; till I come and take you away into a land like your land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread-corn and vineyards (K.a land full of fine olive-trees and honey, and live and do not die, and hearken not to Hizkiyahu); that Hizkiyahu to not befool you (K.for he befools you), saying, Jehovah will deliver us! Have the gods of the nations delivered (K.really delivered)every one his land out of the hand of the king of Asshur? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? where the gods of Sepharvayim (K.adds, Hena‛and ‛Ivah)? and how much less (וכי, K. כּי)have they delivered that Samaria out of my hand? Who were they among all the gods of these (K.of the)lands, who delivered their land out of my hand? how much less will Jehovah deliver Jerusalem out of my hand!? The chronicler also has this continuation of Rabshakeh's address in part (2Ch 32:13-15), but he has fused into one the Assyrian self-praise uttered by Rabshakeh on his first and second mission. The encouragement of the people, by referring to the help of Jehovah (2Ch 32:6-8), is placed by him before this first account is given by Isaiah, and forms a conclusion to the preparations for the contest with Asshur as there described. Rabshakeh now draws nearer to the wall, and harangues the people. השּׁיא is construed here with a dative (to excite treacherous hopes); whereas in 2Ch 32:15 it is written with an accusative. The reading מיּדו is altered from מיּדי in Isa 36:20, which is inserted still more frequently by the chronicler. The reading את־העיר with תנּתן is incorrect; it would require ינּתן (Ges. §143, 1a). To make a berâkhâh with a person was equivalent to entering into a relation of blessing, i.e., into a state of mind in which each wished all prosperity to the other. This was probably a common phrase, though we only meet with it here. יצא, when applied to the besieged, is equivalent to surrendering (e.g., 1Sa 11:3). If they did

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that, they should remain in quiet possession and enjoyment, until the Assyrian fetched them away (after the Egyptian campaign was over), and transported them to a land which he describes to them in the most enticing terms, in order to soften down the inevitable transportation. It is a question whether the expansion of this picture in the book of Kings is original or not; since ועוּה הנע in Isa 36:19 appears to be also tacked on here from Isa 37:13 (see at this passage). On Hamath and Arpad (to the north of Haleb in northern Syria, and a different place from Arvad = Arad), see Isa 10:9. Sepharvayim (a dual form, the house of the Sepharvı̄m, 2Ki 17:31) is the Sipphara of Ptol. v. 18, 7, the southernmost city of Mesopotamia, on the left bank of the Euphrates; Pliny's Hipparenum on the Narraga, i.e., the canal, nehar malkâ, the key to the irrigating or inundating works of Babylon, which were completed afterwards by Nebuchadnezzar (Plin. h. n. vi. 30); probably the same place as the sun-city, Sippara, in which Xisuthros concealed the sacred books before the great flood (see K. Müller's Fragmenta Historicorum Gr. ii. 501-2). פּן in Isa 36:18 has a warning meaning (as if it followed לכם השּׁמרו ); and both וכי and כּי in Isa 36:19, Isa 36:20, introduce an exclamatory clause when following a negative interrogatory sentence: and that they should have saved,” or “that Jehovah should save,” equivalent to “how much less have they saved, or will He save” (Ewald, §354, c; comp. אף־כּי, 2Ch 32:15). Rabshakeh's words in Isa 36:18-20 are the same as those in Isa 10:8-11. The manner in which he defies the gods of the heathen, of Samaria, and last of all of Jerusalem, corresponds to the prophecy there. It is the prophet himself who acts as historian here, and describes the fulfilment of the prophecy, though without therefore doing violence to his character as a prophet.

Verses 21-22 Edit

The effect of Rabshakeh's words. “But they held their peace (K.and they, the people, held their peace), and answered him not a word; for it was the king's commandment, saying, Ye shall not answer him. Then came Eliakim son of Hilkiyahu (K.Hilkiyah), the house-minister, and Shebna the chancellor, and Joah son of Asaph, the recorder, to Hizkiyahu, with torn clothes, and told him the words of Rabshakeh.” It is only a superficial observation that could commend the reading in Kings, “They, the people, held their peace,” which Hitzig

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and Knobel prefer, but which Luzzatto very properly rejects. As the Assyrians wished to speak to the king himself (2Ki 18:18), who sent the three to them as his representatives, the command to hear, and to make no reply, can only have applied to them (and they had already made the matter worse by the one remark which they had made concerning the language); and the reading ויּחרישׁוּ in the text of Isaiah is the correct one. The three were silent, because the king had imposed the duty of silence upon them; and regarding themselves as dismissed, inasmuch as Rabshakeh had turned away from them to the people, they hastened to the king, rending their clothes, in despair and grief and the disgrace they had experienced.

Chap. 37 Edit

Verses 1-4 Edit

The king and the deputation apply to Isaiah. “And it came to pass, when king Hizkiyahu had heard, he rent his clothes, and wrapped himself in mourning linen, and went into the house of Jehovah. And sent Eliakim the house-minister, and Shebna (K. omits את)the chancellor, and the eldest of the priests, wrapped in mourning linen, to Isaiah son of Amoz, the prophet (K. has what is inadmissible: the prophet son of Amoz).And they said to him, Thus saith Hizkiyahu, A day of affliction, and punishment, and blasphemy is this day; for children are come to the matrix, and there is no strength to bring them forth. Perhaps Jehovah thy God will hear the words (K. all the words)of Rabshakeh, with which the king of Asshur his lord has sent him to revile the living God; and Jehovah thy God will punish for the words which He hath heard, and thou wilt make intercession for the remnant that still exists.” The distinguished embassy is a proof of the distinction of the prophet himself (Knobel). The character of the deputation accorded with its object, which was to obtain a consolatory word for the king and people. In the form of the instructions we recognise again the flowing style of Isaiah. תּוכחה, as a synonym of מוּסר, נקם, is used as in Hos 5:9; נאצה (from the kal נאץ) according to Isa 1:4; Isa 5:24; Isa 52:5, like נאצה (from the piel נאץ), Neh 9:18, Neh 9:26 (reviling, i.e., reviling of God, or blasphemy). The figure of there not being sufficient strength to bring forth the child, is the same as in Isa 66:9. משׁבּר (from שׁבר, syn. פּרץ, Gen 38:29) does not signify the actual birth (Luzzatto, punto di dover nascere), nor the delivering-stool (Targum), like mashbēr shel-chayyâh, the delivering-

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stool of the midwife (Kelim xxiii. 4); but as the subject is the children, and not the mother, the matrix or mouth of the womb, as in Hos 13:13, “He (Ephraim) is an unwise child; when it is time does he not stop in the children's passage” (mashbēr bânı̄m), i.e., the point which a child must pass, not only with its head, but also with its shoulders and its whole body, for which the force of the pains is often not sufficient? The existing condition of the state resembled such unpromising birth-pains, which threatened both the mother and the fruit of the womb with death, because the matrix would not open to give birth to the child. לדה like דּעה in Isa 11:9. The timid inquiry, which hardly dared to hope, commences with ‘ūlai. The following future is continued in perfects, the force of which is determined by it: “and He (namely Jehovah, the Targum and Syriac) will punish for the words,” or, as we point it, “there will punish for the words which He hath heard, Jehovah thy God (hōkhı̄ach, referring to a judicial decision, as in a general sense in Isa 2:4 and Isa 11:4); and thou wilt lift up prayer” (i.e., begin to offer it, Isa 14:4). “He will hear,” namely as judge and deliverer; “He hath heard,” namely as the omnipresent One. The expression, “to revile the living God” (lechârēph 'Elōhı̄m chai), sounds like a comparison of Rabshakeh to Goliath (1Sa 17:26, 1Sa 17:36). The “existing remnant” was Jerusalem, which was not yet in the enemy's hand (compare Isa 1:8-9). The deliverance of the remnant is a key-note of Isaiah's prophecies. But the prophecy would not be fulfilled, until the grace which fulfilled it had been met by repentance and faith. Hence Hezekiah's weak faith sues for the intercession of the prophet, whose personal relation to God is here set forth as a closer one than that of the king and priests.

Verses 5-7 Edit

Isaiah's reply. “And the servants of king Hizkiyahu came to Isaiah. And Isaiah said to them (אליהם, K. להם),Speak thus to your lord, Thus saith Jehovah, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Asshur have blasphemed me! Behold, I will bring a spirit upon him, and he will hear a hearsay, and return to his land; and I cut him down with the sword in his own land.” Luzzatto, without any necessity, takes ויּאמרוּ in Isa 37:3 in the modal sense of what they were to do (e dovevano dirgli):

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they were to say this to him, but he anticipated them at once with the instructions given here. The fact, so far as the style is concerned, is rather this, that Isa 37:5, while pointing back, gives the ground for Isa 37:6 : “and when they had come to him (saying this), he said to them.” נערי we render “servants” (Knappen)[14] after Est 2:2; Est 6:3, Est 6:5; it is a more contemptuous expression than עבדי. The rūăch mentioned here as sent by God is a superior force of a spiritual kind, which influences both thought and conduct, as in such other connections as Isa 19:14; Isa 28:6; Isa 29:10 (Psychol. p. 295, Anm.).
The external occasion which determined the return of Sennacherib, as described in Isa 37:36-37, was the fearful mortality that had taken place in his army. The shemū‛âh (rumour, hearsay), however, was not the tidings of this catastrophe, but, as the continuation of the account in Isa 37:8, Isa 37:9, clearly shows, the report of the advance of Tirhakah, which compelled Sennacherib to leave Palestine in consequence of this catastrophe. The prediction of his death is sufficiently special to be regarded by modern commentators, who will admit nothing but the most misty figures as prophecies, as a vaticinium post eventum. At the same time, the prediction of the event which would drive the Assyrian out of the land is intentionally couched in these general terms. The faith of the king, and of the inquirers generally, still needed to be tested and exercised. The time had not yet come for him to be rewarded by a clearer and fuller announcement of the judgment.

Verses 8-9 Edit

Rabshakeh, who is mentioned alone in both texts as the leading person engaged, returns to Sennacherib, who is induced to make a second attempt to obtain possession of Jerusalem, as a position of great strength and decisive importance. “Rabshakeh thereupon returned, and found the king of

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Asshur warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he had withdrawn from Lachish. And he heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, (K.Behold), he has come out to make war with thee; and heard, and sent (K.and repeated, and sent)messengers to Hizkiyahu, saying.” Tirhakah was cursorily referred to in Isa 18:1-7. The twenty-fifth dynasty of Manetho contained three Ethiopian rulers: Sabakon, Sebichōs (סוא = סוא), although, so far as we know, the Egyptian names begin with Sh), and Tarakos (Tarkos), Egypt. Taharka, or Heb. with the tone upon the penultimate, Tirhâqâh. The only one mentioned by Herodotus is Sabakon, to whom he attributes a reign of fifty years (ii. 139), i.e., as much as the whole three amount to, when taken in a round sum. If Sebichos is the biblical So’, to whom the lists attribute from twelve to fourteen years, it is perfectly conceivable that Tirhakah may have been reigning in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah. But if this took place, as Manetho affirms, 366 years before the conquest of Egypt by Alexander, i.e., from 696 onwards (and the Apis-stele, No. 2037, as deciphered by Vic. de Rougé, Revue archéol. 1863, confirms it), it would be more easily reconcilable with the Assyrian chronology, which represents Sennacherib as reigning from 702-680 (Oppert and Rawlinson), than with the current biblical chronology, according to which Hezekiah's fourteenth year is certainly not much later than the year 714.[15]
It is worthy of remark also, that Tirhakah is not described as Pharaoh here, but as the king of Ethiopia (melekh Kūsh; see at Isa 37:36). Libnah, according to the Onom. a place in regione Eleutheropolitana, is probably the same as Tell es-Safieh (“hill of the pure” = of the white), to the north-west of Bet Gibrin, called Alba Specula (Blanche Garde) in ten middle ages. The expression ויּשׁמע (“and he heard”), which occurs twice in the text, points back to what is past, and also prepares the way for what follows: “having heard this, he sent,” etc. At the same time it appears to have been altered from ויּשׁב.

Verses 10-13 Edit

The message. “Thus shall ye say to Hizkiyahu king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Asshur. Behold, thou hast surely heard what

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(K.that which)the kings of Asshur have done to all lands, to lay the ban upon them; and thou, thou shouldst be delivered?! Have the gods of the nations, which my fathers destroyed, delivered them: Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the Benē-‛Eden, which are in Tellasar? Where is (K.where is he)the king of Hamath, and the king of Arpad, and the king of 'Ir-Sepharvaim, Hena', and 'Ivah?”Although ארץ is feminine, אותם (K. אתם), like להחרימם, points back to the lands (in accordance with the want of any thoroughly developed distinction of the genders in Hebrew); likewise אשׁר quas pessumdederunt. There is historical importance in the fact, that here Sennacherib attributes to his fathers (Sargon and the previous kings of the Derketade dynasty which he had overthrown) what Rabshakeh on the occasion of the first mission had imputed to Sennacherib himself. On Gozan, see p. 33. It is no doubt identical with the Zuzan of the Arabian geographers, which is described as a district of outer Armenia, situated on the Chabur, e.g., in the Merasid. (“The Chabur is the Chabur of el-Hasaniye, a district of Mosul, to the east of the Tigris; it comes down from the mountains of the land of Zuzan, flows through a broad and thickly populated country in the north of Mosul, which is called outer Armenia, and empties itself into the Tigris.” Ptolemy, on the other hand (Isa 37:18, Isa 37:14), is acquainted with a Mesopotamian Gauzanitis; and, looking upon northern Mesopotamia as the border land of Armenia, he says, κατέχει δὲ τῆς ξηώρας τὰ μὲν πρὸς τῆ Αρμενία ἡ Ανθεμουσία (not far from Edessa) ὑφ ἥν ἡ Χαλκῖτις ὑπὸ δὲ ταύτην ἡ Γαυζανῖτις, possibly the district of Gulzan, in which Nisibin, the ancient Nisibis, still stands.[16]
For Hârân (Syr. Horon; Joseph. Charran of Mesopotamia), the present Harrân, not far from Charmelik, see Genesis, p. 327. The Harran in the Guta of Damascus (on the southern arm of the Harus), which Beke has recently identified with it, is not connected with it in any way. Retseph is the Rhesapha of Ptol. v. 18, 6, below Thapsacus, the present Rusafa in the Euphrates-valley of ez-Zor, between the Euphrates and Tadmur (Palmyra; see Robinson, Pal.). Telassar, with which the Targum (ii. iii.) and Syr. confound the Ellasar of Gen 14:1, i.e., Artemita (Artamita), is not the Thelseae of the Itin. Antonini and of the

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Notitia dignitatum - in which case the Benē-‛Eden might be the tribe of Bêt Genn (Bettegene) on the southern slope of Lebanon (i.e., the 'Eden of Coelesyria, Amo 1:5; the Paradeisos of Ptol. v. 15, 20; Paradisus, Plin. v. 19) - but the Thelser of the Tab. Peuting., on the eastern side of the Tigris; and Benē-‛Eden is the tribe of the ‘Eden mentioned by Ezekiel (Eze 27:23) after Haran and Ctesiphon. Consequently the enumeration of the warlike deeds describes a curve, which passes in a north-westerly direction through Hamath and Arpad, and then returns in Sepharvaim to the border of southern Mesopotamia and Babylonia. ‘Ir-Sepharvaim is like ‘Ir-Nâchâs, ‘Ir-shemesh, etc. The legends connect the name with the sacred books. The form of the name is inexplicable; but the name itself probably signifies the double shore (after the Aramaean), as the city, which was the southernmost of the leading places of Mesopotamia, was situated on the Euphrates. The words ועוּה הנע, if not take as proper names, would signify, “he has taken away, and overthrown;” but in that case we should expect ועוּוּ הניעוּ or ועוּיתי הניעתי. They are really the names of cities which it is no longer possible to trace. Hena’ is hardly the well-known Avatho on the Euphrates, as Gesenius, V. Niebuhr, and others suppose; and ‘Ivah, the seat of the Avvı̄m (2Ki 17:31), agrees still less, so far as the sound of the word is concerned, with “the province of Hebeh (? Hebeb: Ritter, Erdk. xi. 707), situated between Anah and the Chabur on the Euphrates,” with which V. Niebuhr combines it.[17]

Verses 14-20 Edit

This intimidating message, which declared the God of Israel to be utterly powerless, was conveyed by the messengers of Sennacherib in the form of a latter. “And Hizkiyahu took the letter out of the hand of the messengers, and read it ( them), and went up to the house of Jehovah; and Hizkiyahu spread it before Jehovah.” Sephârı̄m (the sheets) is equivalent to the letter (not a letter in duplo), like literae (cf., grammata). ויּקראהוּ (changed by K. into m- ') is construed according to the singular idea. Thenius regards this spreading out of the letter as a naiveté; and Gesenius even goes so far as to speak of the praying machines of the Buddhists. But it was simply prayer without words - an act of prayer, which afterwards passed into vocal prayer. “And Hizkiyahu prayed to (K. before)

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Jehovah, saying (K. and said),Jehovah of hosts (K. omits tsebhâ'ōth),God of Israel, enthroned upon the cherubim, Thou, yea Thou alone, art God of all the kingdoms of the earth; Thou, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth. Incline Thine ear, Jehovah, and hear וּשׁמע, various reading in both texts וּשׁמע)! Open Thine eyes (K. with Yod of the plural),Jehovah, and see; and hear the (K. all the)words of Sennacherib, which he hath sent (K. with which he hath sent him, i.e., Rabshakeh)to despise the living God! Truly, O Jehovah, the kings of Asshur have laid waste all lands, and their land (K. the nations and their land),and have put (venâthōn, K. venâthenū)their gods into the fire: for they were not gods, only the work of men's hands, wood and stone; therefore they have destroyed them. And now, Jehovah our God, help us (K. adds pray)out of his hand, and all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou Jehovah (K. Jehovah Elohim)art it alone.” On כּרבים (no doubt the same word as γρυπές, though not fabulous beings like these, but a symbolical representation of heavenly beings), see my Genesis, p. 626; and on yōshēbh hakkerubhı̄m (enthroned on the cherubim), see at Psa 18:11 and Psa 80:2. הוּא in אתּה־הוּא is an emphatic repetition, that is to say a strengthening, of the subject, like Isa 43:25; Isa 51:12; 2Sa 7:28; Jer 49:12; Psa 44:5; Neh 9:6-7; Ezr 5:11 : tu ille (not tu es ille, Ges. §121, 2) = tu, nullus alius. Such passages as Isa 41:4, where הוּא is the predicate, do not belong here. עין is not a singular (like עיני in Psa 32:8, where the lxx have עיני), but a defective plural, as we should expect after pâqach. On the other hand, the reading shelâchō (“hath sent him”), which cannot refer to debhârı̄m (the words), but only to the person bringing the written message, is to be rejected. Moreover, Knobel cannot help giving up his preference for the reading venâthōn (compare Gen 41:43; Ges. §131, 4a); just as, on the other hand, we cannot help regarding the reading ואת־ארצם את־כּל־הארצות as a mistake, when compared with the reading of the book of Kings. Abravanel explains the passage thus: “The Assyrians have devastated the lands, and their own land” (cf., Isa 14:20), of which we may find examples in the list of victories given above; compare also Beth-arbel in Hos 10:14, if this is Irbil on the Tigris, from which Alexander's second battle in Persia, which was really fought at Gaugamela, derived its name. But how does this

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tally with the fact that they threw the gods of these lands - that is to say, of their own land also (for אלהיהם could not possibly refer to הארצות, to the exclusion of ארצם) - into the fire? If we read haggōyı̄m (the nations), we get rid both of the reference to their own land, which is certainly purposeless here, and also of the otherwise inevitable conclusion that they burned the gods of their own country. The reading הארצות appears to have arisen from the fact, that after the verb החריב the lands appeared to follow more naturally as the object, than the tribes themselves (compare, however, Isa 60:12). The train of thought is the following: The Assyrians have certainly destroyed nations and their gods, because these gods were nothing but the works of men: do Thou then help us, O Jehovah, that the world may see that Thou alone art it, viz., God (‘Elōhı̄m, as K. adds, although, according to the accents, Jehovah Elohim are connected together, as in the books of Samuel and Chronicles, and very frequently in the mouth of David: see Symbolae in Psalmos, pp. 15, 16).

Verses 21-23 Edit

The prophet's reply. “And Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hizkiyahu, saying, Thus saith Jehovah the God of Israel, That which thou hast prayed to me concerning Sennacherib the king of Asshur (K. adds,I have heard): this is the utterance which Jehovah utters concerning him.” He sent, i.e., sent a message, viz., by one of his disciples (limmūdı̄m, Isa 8:16). According to the text of Isaiah, אשׁר would commence the protasis to הדּבר זה (as for that which - this is the utterance); or, as the Vav of the apodosis is wanting, it might introduce relative clauses to what precedes (“I, to whom:” Ges. §123, 1, Anm. 1). But both of these are very doubtful. We cannot dispense with שׁמעתּי (I have heard), which is given by both the lxx and Syr. in the text of Isaiah, as well as that of Kings.
The prophecy of Isaiah which follows here, is in all respects one of the most magnificent that we meet with. It proceeds with strophe-like strides on the cothurnus of the Deborah style: “The virgin daughter of Zion despiseth thee, laugheth thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem shaketh her head after thee. Whom hast thou reviled and blasphemed, and over whom hast thou spoken loftily, that thou hast lifted up thine eyes on high? Against the Holy One of Israel.” The predicate is

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written at the head, in Isa 37:22, in the masculine, i.e., without any precise definition; since בּזה is a verb ל ה, and neither the participle nor the third pers. fem. of בּוּז. Zion is called a virgin, with reference to the shame with which it was threatened though without success (Isa 23:12); bethūlath bath are subordinate appositions, instead of co-ordinate. With a contented and heightened self-consciousness, she shakes her head behind him as he retreats with shame, saying by her attitude, as she moves her head backwards and forwards, that it must come to this, and could not be otherwise (Jer 18:16; Lam 2:15-16). The question in Isa 37:23 reaches as far as עיניך, although, according to the accents, Isa 37:23 is an affirmative clause: “and thou turnest thine eyes on high against the Holy One of Israel” (Hitzig, Ewald, Drechsler, and Keil). The question is put for the purpose of saying to Asshur, that He at whom they scoff is the God of Israel, whose pure holiness breaks out into a consuming fire against all by whom it is dishonoured. The fut. cons. ותּשּׂה is essentially the same as in Isa 51:12-13, and מרום is the same as in Isa 40:26.

Verse 24 Edit

Second turn, “By thy servants (K.thy messengers)hast thou reviled the Lord, in that thou sayest, With the multitude (K.chethib ברכב)of my chariots have I climbed the height of the mountains, the inner side of Lebanon; and I shall fell the lofty growth of its cedars, the choice (mibhchar, K.mibhchōr)of its cypresses: and I shall penetrate (K.and will penetrate)to the height (K.the halting-place)of its uttermost border, the grove of its orchard.” The other text appears, for the most part, the preferable one here. Whether mal'ăkhekhâ (thy messengers, according to Isa 9:14) or ‛ăbhâdekhâ (thy servants, viz., Rabshakeh, Tartan, and Rabsaris) is to be preferred, may be left undecided; also whether רכבי ברכב is an error or a superlative expression, “with chariots of my chariots,” i.e., my countless chariots; also, thirdly, whether Isaiah wrote mibhchōr. He uses mistōr in Isa 4:6 for a special reason; but such obscure forms befit in other instances the book of Kings, with its colouring of northern Palestine; and we also meet with mibhchōr in 2Ki 3:19, in the strongly Aramaic first series of histories of Elisha. On the other hand, קצּה מלון is certainly the original reading, in contrast with קצו מרום. It is important, as bearing upon the interpretation of the passage, that both texts have ואכרת,

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not ואכרת, and that the other text confirms this pointing, inasmuch as it has ואבואה instead of ואובא. The Lebanon here, if not purely emblematical (as in Jer 22:6 = the royal city Jerusalem; Eze 17:3 = Judah-Jerusalem), has at any rate a synecdochical meaning (cf., Isa 14:8), signifying the land of Lebanon, i.e., the land of Israel, into which he had forced a way, and all the fortresses and great men of which he would destroy. He would not rest till Jerusalem, the most renowned height of the land of Lebanon, was lying at his feet. Thenius is quite right in regarding the “resting-place of the utmost border” and “the pleasure-garden wood” as containing allusions to the holy city and its royal citadel (compare the allegory in chapter 5).

Verse 25 Edit

Third turn, “I, I have digged and drunk (K.foreign)waters, and will make dry with the sole of my feet all the Nile-arms (יארי, K. יאורי)of Matsor.” If we take עליתי in Isa 37:24 as a perfect of certainty, Isa 37:25 would refer to the overcoming of the difficulties connected with the barren sandy steppe on the way to Egypt (viz., et-Tih); but the perfects stand out against the following futures, as statements of what was actually past. Thus, in places where there were no waters at all, and it might have been supposed that his army would inevitably perish, there he had dug them (qūr, from which mâqōr is derived, fodere; not scaturire, as Luzzatto supposes), and had drunk up these waters, which had been called up, as if by magic, upon foreign soil; and in places where there were waters, as in Egypt (mâtsōr is used in Isaiah and Micah for mitsrayim, with a play upon the appellative meaning of the word: an enclosing fence, a fortifying girdle: see Psa 31:22), the Nile-arms and canals of which appeared to bar all farther progress, it was an easy thing for him to set at nought all these opposing hindrances. The Nile, with its many arms, was nothing but a puddle to him, which he trampled out with his feet.

Verses 26-27 Edit

And yet what he was able to do was not the result of his own power, but of the counsel of God, which he subserved. Fourth turn, “Hast thou not heart? I have done it long ago, from (K.lemin, since)the days of ancient time have I formed it, and now brought it to pass (הבאתיה, K. הביאתיה):that thou shouldst lay waste fortified cities into desolate stone heaps; and their inhabitants, powerless, were terrified, and were

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put to shame (ובשׁוּ, K. ויּבשׁוּ):became herb of the field and green of the turf, herb of the house-tops, and a corn-field (וּשׁדמה, K. and blighted corn)before the blades.” L'mērâcōq (from afar) is not to be connected with the preceding words, but according to the parallel with those which follow. The historical reality, in this instance the Assyrian judgment upon the nations, had had from all eternity an ideal reality in God (see at Isa 22:11). The words are addressed to the Assyrian; and as his instrumentality formed the essential part of the divine purpose, וּתהי does not mean “there should,” but “thou shouldest,” e!mellej e)chremw=sai (cf., Isa 44:14-15, and Hab 1:17). K. has להשׁות instead of להשׁאות (though not as chethib, in which case it would have to be pointed להשׁות), a singularly syncopated hiphil (for לשׁאות). The point of comparison in the four figures is the facility with which they can be crushed. The nations in the presence of the Assyrian became, as it were, weak, delicate grasses, with roots only rooted in the surface, or like a cornfield with the stalk not yet formed (shedēmâh, Isa 16:8), which could easily be rooted up, and did not need to be cut down with the sickle. This idea is expressed still more strikingly in Kings, “like corn blighted (shedēphâh, compare shiddâpōn, corn-blight) before the shooting up of the stalk;” the Assyrian being regarded as a parching east wind, which destroys the seed before the stalk is formed.

Verses 28-29 Edit

Asshur is Jehovah's chosen instrument while thus casting down the nations, which are “short-handed against him,” i.e., incapable of resisting him. But Jehovah afterwards places this lion under firm restraint; and before it has reached the goal set before it, He leads it back into its own land, as if with a ring through its nostril. Fifth turn, “And thy sitting down, and thy going out, and thy entering in, I know; and thy heating thyself against me. On account of thy heating thyself against me, and because thy self-confidence has risen up into mine ears, I put my ring into thy nose, and my muzzle into thy lips, and lead thee back by the way by which thou hast come.” Sitting down and rising up (Psa 139:2), going out and coming in (Psa 121:8), denote every kind of human activity. All the thoughts and actions, the purposes and undertakings of Sennacherib, more especially with regard to the people of Jehovah, were under divine control. יען is followed by the

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infinitive, which is then continued in the finite verb, just as in Isa 30:12. שׁאננך (another reading, שׁאננך) is used as a substantive, and denotes the Assyrians' complacent and scornful self-confidence (Psa 123:4), and has nothing to do with שׁאון (Targum, Abulw., Rashi, Kimchi, Rosenmüller, Luzzatto). The figure of the leading away with a nose-ring (chachı̄ with a latent dagesh, חא to prick, hence chōach, Arab. chōch, chōcha, a narrow slit, literally means a cut or aperture) is repeated in Eze 38:4. Like a wild beast that had been subdued by force, the Assyrian would have to return home, without having achieved his purpose with Judah (or with Egypt).

Verse 30 Edit

The prophet now turns to Hezekiah. “And let this be a sign to thee, Men eat this year what is self-sown; and in the second year what springs from the roots (shâc, K. sâchı̄sh);and in the third year they sow and reap and plant vineyards, and eat (chethib אכול)their fruit.” According to Thenius, hasshânâh (this year) signifies the first year after Sennacherib's invasions, hasshânâh hasshēnı̄th (the second year) the current year in which the words were uttered by Hezekiah, hasshânâh hasshelı̄shith (the third year) the year that was coming in which the land would be cleared of the enemy. But understood in this way, the whole would have been no sign, but simply a prophecy that the condition of things during the two years was to come to an end in the third. It would only be a “sign” if the second year was also still in the future. By hasshânâh, therefore, we are to understand what the expression itself requires (cf., Isa 29:1; Isa 32:10), namely the current year, in which the people had been hindered from cultivating their fields by the Assyrian who was then in the land, and therefore had been thrown back upon the sâphı̄ach, i.e., the after growth (αὐτόματα, lxx, the self-sown), or crop which had sprung up from the fallen grains of the previous harvest (from sâphach, adjicere, see at Hab 2:15; or, according to others, effundere). It was autumn at the time when Isaiah gave this sign (Isa 33:9), and the current civil year was reckoned from one autumnal equinox to the other, as, for example, in Exo 23:16, where the feast of tabernacles or harvest festival is said to fall at the close of the year; so that if the fourteenth year of Hezekiah was the year 714, the current year would extend from Tishri 714 to Tishri 713. But if in the next year also,

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713-712, there was no sowing and reaping, but the people were to eat shâchis, i.e., that which grew of itself (αὐτοφυές, Aq., Theod.), and that very sparingly, not from the grains shed at the previous harvest, but from the roots of the wheat, we need not assume that this year, 713-712, happened to be a sabbatical year, in which the law required all agricultural pursuits to be suspended.[18]
It is very improbable in itself that the prophet should have included a circumstance connected with the calendar in his “sign;” and, moreover, according to the existing chronological data, the year 715 had been a sabbatical year (see Hitzig). It is rather presupposed, either that the land would be too thoroughly devastated and desolate for the fields to be cultivated and sown (Keil); or, as we can hardly imagine such an impossibility as this, if we picture to ourselves the existing situation and the kind of agriculture common in Palestine, that the Assyrian would carry out his expedition to Egypt in this particular year (713-12), and returning through Judah, would again prevent the sowing of the corn (Hitzig, Knobel). But in the third year, that is to say the year 712-11, freedom and peace would prevail again, and there would be nothing more to hinder the cultivation of the fields or vineyards. If this should be the course of events during the three years, it would be a sign to king Hezekiah that the fate of the Assyrian would be no other than that predicated. The year 712-11 would be the peremptory limit appointed him, and the year of deliverance.

Verses 31-32 Edit

Seventh turn, “And that which is escaped of the house of Judah, that which remains will again take root downward, and bear fruit upward. For from Jerusalem will a remnant go forth, and a fugitive from Mount Zion; the zeal of Jehovah of hosts (K.chethib omitstsebhâ'ōth)will carry this out.” The agricultural prospect of the third year shapes itself there into a figurative representation of the fate of Judah. Isaiah's watchword, “a remnant shall return,” is now fulfilled; Jerusalem has been spared, and becomes the source of national rejuvenation. You year the echo of Isa 5:24; Isa 9:6, and also of Isa 27:6. The word tsebhâ'ōth is wanting in Kings, here as well as in Isa 37:17; in fact, this

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divine name is, as a rule, very rare in the book of Kings, where it only occurs in the first series of accounts of Elijah (1Ki 18:15; 1Ki 19:10, 1Ki 19:14; cf., 2Ki 3:14).

Verses 33-35 Edit

The prophecy concerning the protection of Jerusalem becomes more definite in the last turn than it ever has been before. “Therefore thus saith Jehovah concerning the king of Asshur, He will not enter into this city, nor shoot off an arrow there; nor do they assault it with a shield, nor cast up earthworks against it. By the way by which he came (K.will come)will he return; and he will not enter into this city, saith Jehovah. And I shield this city (על, K. אל), to help it, for mine own sake, and for the sake of David my servant.” According to Hitzig, this conclusion belongs to the later reporter, on account of its “suspiciously definite character.” Knobel, on the other hand, sees no reason for disputing the authorship of Isaiah, inasmuch as in all probability the pestilence had already set in (Isa 33:24), and threatened to cripple the Assyrian army very considerably, so that the prophet began to hope that Sennacherib might now be unable to stand against the powerful Ethiopian king. To us, however, the words “Thus saith Jehovah” are something more than a flower of speech; and we hear the language of a man exalted above the standard of the natural man, and one how has been taken, as Amos says (Amo 3:7), by God, the moulder of history into “His secret.” Here also we see the prophecy at its height, towards which it has been ascending from Isa 6:13 and Isa 10:33-34 onwards, through the midst of obstacles accumulated by the moral condition of the nation, but with the same goal invariably in view. The Assyrian will not storm Jerusalem; there will not even be preparations for a siege. The verb qiddēm is construed with a double accusative, as in Psa 21:4 : sōlelâh refers to the earthworks thrown up for besieging purposes, as in Jer 32:24. The reading יבא instead of בּא has arisen in consequence of the eye having wandered to the following יבא. The promise in Isa 37:35 sounds like Isa 31:5. The reading אל for על is incorrect. One motive assigned (“for my servant David's sake”) is the same as in 1Ki 15:4, etc.; and the other (“for mine own sake”) the same as in Isa 43:25; Isa 48:11 (compare, however, Isa 55:3 also). On the one hand, it is in accordance with the honour and faithfulness of Jehovah, that Jerusalem is

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delivered; and, on the other hand, it is the worth of David, or, what is the same thing, the love of Jehovah turned towards him, of which Jerusalem reaps the advantage.

Verses 36-38 Edit

To this culminating prophecy there is now appended an account of the catastrophe itself. “Then (K.And it came to pass that night, that)the angel of Jehovah went forth and smote (vayyakkeh, K.vayyakh)in the camp of Asshur a hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when men rose up in the morning, behold, they were all lifeless corpses. Then Sennacherib king of Asshur decamped, and went forth and returned, and settled down in Nineveh. And it cam to pass, as he was worshipping in the temple of Misroch, his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons (L.chethib omits ‘his sons’)smote him with the sword; and when they escaped to the land of Ararat, Esarhaddon ascended the throne in his stead.” The first pair of histories closes here with a short account of the result of the Assyrian drama, in which Isaiah's prophecies were most gloriously fulfilled: not only the prophecies immediately preceding, but all the prophecies of the Assyrian era since the time of Ahaz, which pointed to the destruction of the Assyrian forces (e.g., Isa 10:33-34), and to the flight and death of the king of Assyrian (Isa 31:9; Isa 30:33). If we look still further forward to the second pair of histories (chapters 38-39), we see from Isa 38:6 that it is only by anticipation that the account of these closing events is finished here; for the third history carries us back to the period before the final catastrophe. We may account in some measure for the haste and brevity of this closing historical fragment, from the prophet's evident wish to finish up the history of the Assyrian complications, and the prophecy bearing upon it. But if we look back, there is a gap between Isa 37:36 and the event narrated here. For, according to Isa 37:30, there was to be an entire year of trouble between the prophecy and the fulfilment, during which the cultivation of the land would be suspended. What took place during that year? There can be no doubt that Sennacherib was engaged with Egypt; for (1.) when he made his second attempt to get Jerusalem into his power, he had received intelligence of the advance of Tirhakah, and therefore had withdrawn the centre of his army from Lachish, and encamped before Libnah (Isa 37:8-9); (2.) according to Josephus (Ant. x.

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1, 4), there was a passage of Berosus, which has been lost, in which he stated that Sennacherib “made an expedition against all Asia and Egypt;” (3.) Herodotus relates (ii. 141) that, after Anysis the blind, who lost his throne for fifty years in consequence of an invasion of Egypt by the Ethiopians under Sabakoa, but who recovered it again, Sethon the priest of Hephaestus ascended the throne. The priestly caste was so oppressed by him, that when Sanacharibos, the king of the Arabians and Assyrians, led a great army against Egypt, they refused to perform their priestly functions. but the priest-king went into the temple to pray, and his God promised to help him. He experienced the fulfilment of this prophecy before Pelusium, where the invasion was to take place, and where he awaited the foe with such as continued true to him. “Immediately after the arrival of Sanacharibos, an army of field-mice swarmed throughout the camp of the foe, and devoured their quivers, bows, and shield-straps, so that when morning came on they had to flee without arms, and lost many men in consequence. This is the origin of the stone of Sethon in the temple of Hephaestus (at Memphis), which is standing there still, with a mouse in one hand, and with this inscription: Whosoever looks at me, let him fear the gods!” This Σέθως (possibly the Zet whose name occurs in the lists at the close of the twenty-third dynasty, and therefore in the wrong place) is to be regarded as one of the Saitic princes of the twenty-sixth dynasty, who seem to have ruled in Lower Egypt contemporaneously with the Ethiopians[19] (as, in fact, is stated in a passage of the Armenian Eusebius, Aethiopas et Saitas regnasse aiunt eodem tempore), until they succeeded at length in ridding themselves of the hateful supremacy. Herodotus evidently depended in this instance upon the hearsay of Lower Egypt, which transferred the central point of the Assyrian history to their own native princely house. The question,

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whether the disarming of the Assyrian army in front of Pelusium merely rested upon a legendary interpretation of the mouse in Sethon's hand,[20] which may possibly have been originally intended as a symbol of destruction; or whether it was really founded upon an actual occurrence which was exaggerated in the legend,[21] may be left undecided.
But it is a real insult to Isaiah, when Thenius and G. Rawlinson place the scene of Isa 37:36 at Pelusium, and thus give the preference to Herodotus. Has not Isaiah up to this point constantly prophesied that the power of Asshur was to be broken in the holy mountain land of Jehovah (Isa 14:25), that the Lebanon forest of the Assyrian army would break to pieces before Jerusalem (Isa 10:32-34), and that there the Assyrian camp would become the booty of the inhabitants of the city, and that without a conflict? And is not the catastrophe that would befal Assyria described in Isa 18:1-7 as an act of Jehovah, which would determine the Ethiopians to do homage to God who was enthroned upon Zion? We need neither cite 2Ch 32:21 nor Psa 76:1-12 (lxx ὠδὴ πρὸς τὸν Ἀσσύριον), according to which the weapons of Asshur break to pieces upon Jerusalem; Isaiah's prophecies are quite sufficient to prove, that to force this Pelusiac disaster[22] into Isa 37:36 is a most thoughtless concession to Herodotus. The final catastrophe occurred before Jerusalem, and the account in Herodotus gives us no certain information even as to the issue of the Egyptian campaign, which took place in the intervening year. Such a gap as the one which occurs before Isa 37:36 is not without analogy in the historical writings of the Bible; see, for example, Num 20:1, where an abrupt leap is made over the thirty-seven years of the wanderings in the desert. The abruptness is not affected by the addition of the clause in the book of Kings, “It came to pass that night.” For, in the face of the “sign” mentioned in Isa 37:30, this cannot mean “in that very night” (viz., the night following the answer given by Isaiah); but (unless

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it is a careless interpolation) it must refer to Isa 37:33, Isa 37:34, and mean illa nocte, viz., the night in which the Assyrian had encamped before Jerusalem. The account before us reads just like that of the slaying of the first-born in Egypt (Exo 12:12; Exo 11:4). The plague of Egypt is marked as a pestilence by the use of the word nâgaph in connection with hikkâh in Exo 12:23, Exo 12:13 (compare Amo 4:10, where it seems to be alluded to under the name דּבר); and in the case before us also we cannot think of anything else than a divine judgment of this kind, which even to the present day defies all attempts at an aetiological solution, and which is described in 2 Sam as effected through the medium of angels, just as it is here. Moreover, the concise brevity of the narrative leaves it quite open to assume, as Hensler and others do, that the ravages of the pestilence in the Assyrian army, which carried off thousands in the night (Psa 91:6), even to the number of 185,000, may have continued for a considerable time.[23]
The main thing is the fact that the prophecy in Isa 31:8 was actually fulfilled. According to Josephus (Ant. x. 1, 5), when Sennacherib returned from his unsuccessful Egyptian expedition, he found the detachment of his army, which he had left behind in Palestine, in front of Jerusalem, where a pestilential disease sent by God was making great havoc among the soldiers, and that on the very first night of the siege. The three verses, “he broke up, and went away, and returned home,” depict the hurried character of the retreat, like “abiit excessit evasit erupit” (Cic. ii. Catil. init.). The form of the sentence in Isa 37:38 places Sennacherib's act of worship and the murderous act of his sons side by side, as though they had occurred simultaneously. The connection would be somewhat different if the reading had been ויּכּהוּ (cf., Ewald, §341,a).Nisroch apparently signifies the eagle-like, or hawk-like (from nisr, nesher), possibly like “Arioch from ‘ărı̄. (The lxx transcribe it νασαραχ, A. ασαραχ, א ασαρακ (K. ἐσθραχ, where B. has μεσεραχ), and explorers of the monuments imagined at one time that they had discovered this god as Asarak;[24] but

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they have more recently retracted this, although there really is a hawk-headed figure among the images of the Assyrian deities or genii.[25]
The name has nothing to do with that of the supreme Assyrian deity, Asur, Asshur. A better derivation of Nisroch would be from סרך, שׂרך, שׂרג; and this is confirmed by Oppert, who has discovered among the inscriptions in the harem of Khorsabad a prayer of Sargon to Nisroch, who appears there, like the Hymen of Greece, as the patron of marriage, and therefore as a “uniter.”[26]
The name ‘Adrammelekh (a god in 2Ki 17:31) signifies, as we now known, gloriosus (‘addı̄r) est rex;” and Sharetser (for which we should expect to find Saretser), dominator tuebitur. The Armenian form of the latter name (in Moses Chroen. i. 23), San-asar (by the side of Adramel, who is also called Arcamozan), probably yields the original sense of “Lunus (the moon-god Sin) tuebitur.” Polyhistorus (in Euseb. chron. arm. p. 19), on the authority of Berosus, mentions only the former, Ardumuzan, as the murderer, and gives eighteen years as the length of Sennacherib's reign. The murder did not take place immediately after his return, as Josephus says (Ant. x. 1, 5; cf., Tobit i. 21-25, Vulg.); and the expression used by Isaiah, he “dwelt (settled down) in Nineveh,” suggests the idea of a considerable interval. This interval embraced the suppression of the rebellion in Babylon, where Sennacherib made his son Asordan king, and the campaign in Cilicia (both from Polyhistorus),[27] and also, according to the monuments, wars both by sea and land with Susiana, which supported the Babylonian thirst for independence. The Asordan of Polyhistorus is Esar-haddon (also written without the makkeph, Esarhaddon), which is generally supposed to be the Assyrian form of אשׁור־ח־ידן, Assur fratrem dedit. It is so difficult to make the chronology tally here, that Oppert, on Isa 36:1, proposes to alter the fourteenth year into the twenty-ninth, and Rawlinson would alter it into the twenty-seventh.[28]
They both of them assign to king

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Sargon a reign of seventeen (eighteen) years, and to Sennacherib (in opposition to Polyhistorus) a reign of twenty-three (twenty-four) years; and they both agree in giving 680 as the year of Sennacherib's death. This brings us down below the first decade of Manasseh's reign, and would require a different author from Isaiah for Isa 37:37, Isa 37:38. But the accounts given by Polyhistorus, Abydenus, and the astronomical canon, however we may reconcile them among themselves, do not extend the reign of Sennacherib beyond 693.[29]
It is true that even then Isaiah would have been at least about ninety years old. But the tradition which represents him as dying a martyr's death in the reign of Manasseh, does really assign him a most unusual old age. Nevertheless, Isa 37:37, Isa 37:38 may possibly have been added by a later hand. The two parricides fled to the “land of Ararat,” i.e., to Central Armenia. The Armenian history describes them as the founders of the tribes of the Sassunians and Arzerunians. From the princely house of the latter, among whom the name of Sennacherib was a very common one, sprang Leo the Armenian, whom Genesios describes as of Assyrio-Armenian blood. If this were the case, there would be no less than ten Byzantine emperors who were descendants of Sennacherib, and consequently it would not be till a very late period that the prophecy of Nahum was fulfilled.[30]

Chap. 38 Edit

Verses 1-3 Edit

There is nothing to surprise us in the fact that we are carried back to the time when Jerusalem was still threatened by the Assyrian, since the closing vv. of chapter 37 merely

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contain an anticipatory announcement, introduced for the purpose of completing the picture of the last Assyrian troubles, by adding the fulfilment of Isaiah's prediction of their termination. It is within this period, and indeed in the year of the Assyrian invasion (Isa 36:1), since Hezekiah reigned twenty-nine years, and fifteen of these are promised here, that the event described by Isaiah falls - an event not merely of private interest, but one of importance in connection with the history of the nation also. “In those days Hizkiyahu became dangerously ill. And Isaiah son of Amoz, the prophet, came to him, and said to him, Thus saith Jehovah, Set thine house in order: for thou wilt die, and not recover. Then Hizkiyahu turned (K. om.)his face to the wall, and prayed to Jehovah, and said (K.saying), O Jehovah, remember this, I pray, that I have walked before thee in truth, and with the whole heart, and have done what was good in Thine eyes! And Hizkiyahu wept with loud weeping.” “Give command to thy house” (ל, cf., אל, 2Sa 17:23) is equivalent to, “Make known thy last will to thy family” (compare the rabbinical tsavvâ'âh, the last will and testament); for though tsivvâh is generally construed with the accusative of the person, it is also construed with Lamed (e.g., Exo 1:22; cf., אל, Exo 16:34). חיה in such a connection as this signifies to revive or recover. The announcement of his death is unconditional and absolute. As Vitringa observes, “the condition was not expressed, because God would draw it from him as a voluntary act.” The sick man turned his face towards the wall (פּניו הסב, hence the usual fut. cons. ויּסּב as in 1Ki 21:4, 1Ki 21:8, 1Ki 21:14), to retire into himself and to God. The supplicatory אנּה (here, as in Psa 116:4, Psa 116:16, and in all six times, with ה) always has the principal tone upon the last syllable before יהוה = אדני (Neh 1:11). The metheg has sometimes passed into a conjunctive accent (e.g., Gen 50:17; Exo 32:31). אשׁר את does not signify that which, but this, that, as in Deu 9:7; 2Ki 8:12, etc. “In truth,” i.e., without wavering or hypocrisy. שׁלם בלב, with a complete or whole heart, as in 1Ki 8:61, etc. He wept aloud, because it was a dreadful thing to him to have to die without an heir to the throne, in the full strength of his manhood (in the thirty-ninth year of his age), and with the nation in so unsettled a state.

Verses 4-6 Edit

The prospect is now mercifully changed.

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“And it came to pass (K. Isaiah was not yet out of the inner city; keri סהצר,the forecourt, and)the word of Jehovah came to Isaiah ( him) as follows: Go (K.turn again) and say to Hizkiyahu (K. adds,to the prince of my people),Thus saith Jehovah, the God of David thine ancestor, I have heard thy prayer, seen thy tears; behold, I (K.will cure thee, on the third day thou shalt go up to the house of Jehovah)add (K.and I add) to thy days fifteen years. And I will deliver thee ad this city out of the hand of the king of Asshur, and will defend this city (K.for mine own sake and for David my servant's sake).” In the place of העיר (the city) the keri and the earlier translators have הצר. The city of David is not called the “inner city” anywhere else; in fact, Zion, with the temple hill, formed the upper city, so that apparently it is the inner space of the city of David that is here referred to, and Isaiah had not yet passed through the middle gate to return to the lower city, where he dwelt. The text of Kings is the more authentic throughout; except that עמּי נגיד, “the prince of my people,” is an annalistic adorning which is hardly original. סהלוך in Isaiah is an inf. abs. used in an imperative sense; שׁוּב, on the other hand, which we find in the other text, is imperative. On yōsiph, see at Isa 29:14.

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Verses 7-8 Edit

The pledge desired. (K.Then Isaiah said)and (K. om.)let this be the sign to thee on the part of Jehovah, that (אשׁר, K. כּי)Jehovah will perform this (K.the)word which He has spoken; Behold, I make the shadow retrace the steps, which it has gone down upon the sun-dial of Ahaz through the sun, ten steps backward. And the sun went back ten steps upon the dial, which it had gone down” (K. “Shall the shadow go forward [הלך, read הלך according to Job 40:2, or הילך]ten steps, or shall it go back ten steps? Then Yechizkiyahu said, It is easy for the shadow to go down ten steps; no, but the shadow shall go back ten steps. Then Isaiah the prophet cried to Jehovah, and turned back the shadow by the steps that it had gone down upon the sun-dial of Ahaz, ten steps backward”). “Steps of Ahaz” was the name given to a sun-dial erected by him. As ma‛ălâh may signify either one of a flight of steps or a degree (syn. madrigâh), we might suppose the reference to be to a dial-plate with a gnomon; but, in the first place, the expression points to an actual succession of steps, that is to say, to an obelisk upon a square or circular elevation ascended by steps, which threw the shadow of its highest point at noon upon the highest steps, and in the morning and evening upon the lowest either on the one side or the other, so that the obelisk itself served as a gnomon. It is in this sense that the Targum on 2Ki 9:13 renders gerem hamma‛ălōth by derag shâ‛ayyâ’, step (flight of steps) of the sun-dial; and the obelisk of Augustus, on the

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Field of Mars at Rome, was one of this kind, which served as a sun-dial. The going forward, going down, or declining of the shadow, and its going back, were regulated by the meridian line, and under certain circumstances the same might be said of a vertical dial, i.e., of a sun-dial with a vertical dial-plate; but it applies more strictly to a step-dial, i.e., to a sun-dial in which the degrees that measure definite periods of time are really gradus. The step-dial of Ahaz may have consisted of twenty steps or more, which measured the time of day by half-hours, or even quarters. If the sign was given an hour before sunset, the shadow, by going back ten steps of half-an-hour each, would return to the point at which it stood at twelve o'clock. But how was this effected? Certainly not by giving an opposite direction to the revolution of the earth upon its axis, which would have been followed by the most terrible convulsions over the entire globe; and in all probability not even by an apparently retrograde motion of the sun (in which case the miracle would be optical rather than cosmical); but as the intention was to give a sign that should serve as a pledge, and therefore had not need whatever to be supernatural, it may have been simply through a phenomenon of refraction, since all that was required was that the shadow which was down at the bottom in the afternoon should be carried upwards by a sudden and unexpected refraction. Hamma‛ălōth (the steps) in Isa 38:8 does not stand in a genitive relation to tsēl (the shadow), as the accents would make it appear, but is an accusative of measure, equivalent to בּמּעלות in the sum of the steps (2Ki 20:11). To this accusative of measure there is appended the relative clause: quos (gradus) descendit (ירדה; צל being used as a feminine) in scala Ahasi per solem, i.e., through the onward motion of the sun. When it is stated that “the sun returned,” this does not mean the sun in the heaven, but the sun upon the sun-dial, upon which the illuminated surface moved upwards as the shadow retreated; for when the shadow moved back, the sun moved back as well. The event is intended to be represented as a miracle; and a miracle it really was. The force of will proved itself to be a power superior to all natural law; the phenomenon followed upon the prophet's prayer as an extraordinary result of divine power, not effected through his astronomical learning, but simply through

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that faith which can move mountains, because it can set in motion the omnipotence of God.

Verse 9 Edit

As a documentary proof of this third account, a psalm of Hezekiah is added in the text of Isaiah, in which he celebrates his miraculous rescue from the brink of death. The author of the book of Kings has omitted it; but the genuineness is undoubted. The heading runs thus in Isa 38:9 : “Writing of Hizkiyahu king of Judah, when he was sick, and recovered from his sickness.” The song which follows might be headed Mikhtam, since it has the characteristics of this description of psalm (see at Psa 16:1). We cannot infer from bachălōthō (when he was sick) that it was composed by Hezekiah during his illness (see at Psa 51:1); vayyechi (and he recovered) stamps it as a song of thanksgiving, composed by him after his recovery. In common with the two Ezrahitish psalms, Ps 88 and 89, it has not only a considerable number of echoes of the book of Job, but also a lofty sweep, which is rather forced than lyrically direct, and appears to aim at copying the best models.

Verses 10-12 Edit

Isa 38:10-12Strophe 1 consists indisputably of seven lines:“I said, In quiet of my days shall I depart into the gates of Hades: I am mulcted of the rest of my years. I said, I shall not see Jah, Jah, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more, with the inhabitants of the regions of the dead. My home is broken up, and is carried off from me like a shepherd's tent: I rolled up my life like a weaver; He would have cut me loose from the roll: From day to night Thou makest an end of me.” “In quiet of my days” is equivalent to, in the midst of the quiet course of a healthy life, and is spoken without reference to the Assyrian troubles, which still continued. דּמי, from דּמה, to be quiet, lit., to be even, for the radical form דם has the primary idea of a flat covering, of something stroked smooth, of that which is level and equal, so that it could easily branch out into the different ideas of aequabilitas, equality of measure, aequitas, equanimity, aequitas, equality, and also of destruction =

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complanatio, levelling. On the cohortative, in the sense of that which is to be, see Ewald, §228, a; אלכה, according to its verbal idea, has the same meaning as in Ps. 39:14 and 2Ch 21:20; and the construction with בּ (= ואבואה אלכה) is constructio praegnans (Luzzatto). The pual פּקּדתּי does not mean, “I am made to want” (Rashi, Knobel, and others), which, as the passive of the causative, would rather be הפקשׂדתּי, like הנסהלתּי, I am made to inherit (Job 7:3); but, I am visited with punishment as to the remnant, mulcted of the remainder, deprived, as a punishment, of the rest of my years. The clause, “Jah in the land of the living,” i.e., the God of salvation, who reveals Himself in the land of the living, is followed by the corresponding clause, הדל עם־יושׁבי, “I dwelling with the inhabitants of the region of the dead;” for whilst הלד signifies temporal life (from châlad, to glide imperceptibly away, Job 11:17), הלד signifies the end of this life, the negation of all conscious activity of being, the region of the dead. The body is called a dwelling (dōr, Arab. dâr), as the home of a man who possesses the capacity to distinguish himself from everything belonging to him (Psychol. p. 227). It is compared to a nomadic tent. רעי (a different word from that in Zec 11:17, where it is the chirek compaginis) is not a genitive (= רעה, Ewald, §151,b), but an adjective in i, like אוילי רעה in Zec 11:15. With niglâh (in connection with נסּע, as in Job 4:21), which does not mean to be laid bare (Luzz.), nor to be wrapt up (Ewald), but to be obliged to depart, compare the New Testament ἐκδημεῖν ἐκ τοῦ σώματος (2Co 5:8). The ἁπ γεγρ קפד might mean to cut off, or shorten (related to qâphach); it is safer, however, and more appropriate, to take it in the sense of rolling up, as in the name of the badger (Isa 14:23; Isa 34:11), since otherwise what Hezekiah says of himself and of God would be tautological. I rolled or wound up my life, as the weaver rolls up the finished piece of cloth: i.e., I was sure of my death, namely, because God was about to give me up to death; He was about to cut me off from the thrum (the future is here significantly interchanged with the perfect). Dallâh is the thrum, licium, the threads of the warp upon a loom, which becomes shorter and shorter the further the weft proceeds, until at length the piece is finished, and the weaver cuts through the short threads, and so sets it free (בצּע,

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cf., Job 6:9; Job 27:8). The strophe closes with the deep lamentation which the sufferer poured out at that time: he could not help feeling that God would put an end to him (shâlam, syn. kâlâh, tâmam, gâmar) from day to night, i.e., in the shortest time possible (compare Job 4:20).

Verses 13-14 Edit

In strophe 2 the retrospective glance is continued. His sufferings increased to such an extent, that there was nothing left in his power but a whining moan - a languid look for help.I waited patiently till the morning; like the lion, So He broke in pieces all my bones: From day to night Thou makest it all over with me. Like a swallow, a crane, so I chirped; I cooed like the dove; Mine eyes pined for the height. O Lord, men assault me! Be bail for me.”
The meaning of shivvithi may be seen from Psa 131:2, in accordance with which an Arabic translator has rendered the passage, “I smoothed, i.e., quieted (sâweitu) my soul, notwithstanding the sickness, all night, until the morning.” But the morning brought no improvement; the violence of the pain, crushing him like a lion, forced from him again and again the mournful cry, that he must die before the day had passed, and should not live to see another. The Masora here has a remark, which is of importance, as bearing upon Psa 22:17, viz., that כּארי occurs twice, and לישׁני בתרי with two different meanings. The meaning of עגוּר סוּס is determined by Jer 8:7, from which it is evident that עגּור is not an attribute of סּוס here, in the sense of “chirping mournfully,” or “making a circle in its flight,” but is the name of a particular bird, namely the crane. For although the Targum and Syriac both seem to render סוס in that passage (keri סיס, which is the chethib here, according to the reading of Orientals) by כּוּרכּיא) (a crane, Arab. Kurki), and עגוּר, by סנוּניתא) (the ordinary name of the swallow, which Haji Gaon explains by the Arabic chuttaf), yet the relation is really the reverse: sūs (sı̄s) is the swallow, and ‛âgūr the crane. Hence Rashi, on b. Kiddusin 44a (“then cried Res Lakis like a crane”), gives âg, Fr. grue, as the rendering of כרוכי;

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whereas Parchon (s.verse ‛âgūr), confounds the crane with the hoarsely croaking stork (ciconia alba). The verb ‘ătsaphtsēph answers very well not only to the flebile murmur of the swallow (into which the penitential Progne was changed, according to the Grecian myth), but also to the shrill shriek of the crane, which is caused by the extraordinary elongation of the windpipe, and is onomatopoetically expressed in its name ‛âgūr.[31]Tsiphtsēph, like τρίζειν, is applied to every kind of shrill, penetrating, inarticulate sound. The ordinary meaning of dallū, to hang long and loose, has here passed over into that of pining (syn. kâlâh). The name of God in Isa 38:14 is Adonai, not Jehovah, being one of the 134 ודּין, i.e., words which are really written Adonai, and not merely to be read so.[32]
It is impossible to take עשׁקה־לּי as an imperative. The pointing, according to which we are to read ‛ashqa, admits this (compare shâmrâh in Psa 86:2; Psa 119:167; and on the other hand, zochrālli, in Neh 5:19, etc.);[33] but the usage of the language does not yield any appropriate meaning for such an imperative. It is either the third person, used in a neuter sense, “it is sorrowful with me;” or, what Luzzatto very properly considers still more probable, on account of the antithesis of ‛ashqâh and ‛ârbēni, a substantive (‛ashqah for ‛osheq), “there is pressure upon me” (compare רזי־לי, Isa 24:16), i.e., it presses me like an unmerciful creditor; and to this there is appended the petition, Guarantee me, i.e., be bail for me, answer for me (see at Job 17:3).

Verses 15-17 Edit

In strophe 3 he now describes how Jehovah promised him help, how this promise put new life into him, and how it was fulfilled, and turned his sufferings into salvation.“What shall I say, that He promised me, and He hath carried it out: I should walk quietly all my years, on the trouble of my soul?!

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'O Lord, by such things men revive, and the life of my spirit is always therein: And so wilt Thou restore me, and make me to live!' Behold, bitterness became salvation to me, bitterness; And Thou, Thou hast delivered my soul in love out of the pit of destruction For Thou hast cast all my sins behind Thy back.”
The question, “What shall I say?” is to be understood as in 2Sa 7:20, viz., What shall I say, to thank Him for having promised me, and carried out His promise? The Vav in ואמר introduces the statement of his reason (Ges. §155, 1,c). On הדּדּה (= התדּדּה), from דּדה (= דּאדא), see at Psa 42:5. The future here, in Isa 38:15, gives the purpose of God concerning him. He was to walk (referring to the walk of life, not the walk to the temple) gently (without any disturbance) all his years upon the trouble of his soul, i.e., all the years that followed upon it, the years that were added to his life. This is the true explanation of על, as in Isa 38:5; Isa 32:10; Lev 15:25; not “in spite of” (Ewald), or “with,” as in Psa 31:24; Jer 6:14, where it forms an adverb. A better rendering than this would be “for,” or “on account of,” i.e., in humble salutary remembrance of the way in which God by His free grace averted the danger of death. What follows in Isa 38:16 can only be regarded in connection with the petition in Isa 38:16, as Hezekiah's reply to the promise of God, which had been communicated to him by the prophet. Consequently the neuters עליהם and בּהן( dna (cf., Isa 64:4; Job 22:21; Eze 33:18-19) refer to the gracious words and gracious acts of God. These are the true support of life (על as in Deu 8:3) for every man, and in these does the life of his spirit consist, i.e., his inmost and highest source of life, and that “on all sides” (לכל, which it would be more correct to point לכּל, as in 1Ch 7:5; cf., bakkōl, in every respect, 2Sa 23:5). With this explanation, the conjecture of Ewald and Knobel, that the reading should be רוּחו, falls to the ground. From the general truth of which he had made a personal application, that the word of God is the source of all life, he drew this conclusion, which he here repeats with a retrospective glance, “So wilt Thou then make me whole (see the kal in Job 39:4), and

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keep me alive” (for ותחיני; with the hope passing over into a prayer). The praise for the fulfilment of the promise commences with the word hinnēh (behold). His severe illness had been sent in anticipation of a happy deliverance (on the radical signification of mar, which is here doubled, to give it a superlative force, see Comm. on Job, at Job 16:2-5). The Lord meant it for good; the suffering was indeed a chastisement, but it was a chastisement of love. Casting all his sins behind Him, as men do with things which they do not wish to know, or have no desire to be reminded of (compare e.g., Neh 9:26), He “loved him out,” i.e., drew him lovingly out, of the pit of destruction (châshaq, love as a firm inward bond; belı̄, which is generally used as a particle, stands here in its primary substantive signification, from bâlâh, to consume).

Verses 18-20 Edit

In strophe 4 he rejoices in the preservation of his life as the highest good, and promises to praise God for it as long as he lives.“For Hades does not praise Thee; death does not sing praises to Thee: They that sink into the grave do not hope for Thy truth. The living, the living, he praises Thee, as I do today; The father to the children makes known Thy truth. Jehovah is ready to give me salvation; Therefore will we play my stringed instruments all the days of my life In the house of Jehovah.”
We have here that comfortless idea of the future state, which is so common in the Psalms (vid., Psa 6:6; Psa 30:10; Psa 88:12-13, cf., Psa 115:17), and also in the book of Ecclesiastes (Ecc 9:4-5, Ecc 9:10). The foundation of this idea, notwithstanding the mythological dress, is an actual truth (vid., Psychol. p. 409), which the personal faith of the hero of Job endeavours to surmount (Comment. pp. 150-153, and elsewhere), but the decisive removal of which was only to be effected by the progressive history of salvation. The v. is introduced with “for” (kı̄), inasmuch as the gracious act of God is accounted for on the ground that He wished to be still further glorified by His servant whom He delivered. לא, in Isa 38:18, is written only once instead of twice, as in Isa 23:4. They “sink

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into the grave,” i.e., are not thought of as dying, but as already dead. “Truth” (‘ĕmeth) is the sincerity of God, with which He keeps His promises. Isa 38:19 reminds us that Manasseh, who was twelve years old when he succeeded his father, was not yet born (cf., Isa 39:7). The להושׁיעני יהוה, μέλλει σώζειν με, is the same as in Isa 37:26. The change in the number in Isa 38:20 may be explained from the fact that the writer thought of himself as the choral leader of his family; ay is a suffix, not a substantive termination (Ewald, §164, p. 427). The impression follows us to the end, that we have cultivated rather than original poetry here. Hezekiah's love to the older sacred literature is well known. He restored the liturgical psalmody (2Ch 29:30). He caused a further collection of proverbs to be made, as a supplement to the older book of Proverbs (Pro 25:1). The “men of Hezekiah” resembled the Pisistratian Society, of which Onomacritos was the head.
On Isa 38:21, Isa 38:22, see the notes at the close of Isa 38:4-6, where these two vv. belong.

Verses 21-22 Edit

The text of Isaiah is not only curtailed here in a very forced manner, but it has got into confusion; for Isa 38:21 and Isa 38:22 are removed entirely from their proper place, although even the Septuagint has them at the close of Hezekiah's psalm. They have been omitted from their place at the close of Isa 38:6 through an oversight, and then added in the margin, where they now stand (probably with a sign, to indicate that they were supplied). We therefore insert them here, where they properly belong. “Then Isaiah said they were to bring (K.take)a fig-cake; and they plaistered (K. brought and covered)the boil, and he recovered. And Hizkiyahu said ( Isaiah), What sign is there that (K.Jehovah will heal me, so that I go up)I shall go up into the house of Jehovah?” As shechı̄n never signifies a plague-spot, but an abscess (indicated by heightened temperature), more especially that of leprosy (cf., Exo 9:9; Lev 13:18), there is no satisfactory ground, as some suppose, for connecting Hezekiah's illness (taken along with Isa 33:24) with the pestilence which broke out in the Assyrian army. The use of the figs does not help us to decide whether we are to assume that it was a boil (bubon) or a carbuncle (charbon). Figs were a well-known emmoliens or maturans, and were used to accelerate the rising of the swelling and the subsequent discharge. Isaiah did not show any special medical skill by ordering a softened cake of pressed figs to be laid upon the boil, nor did he expect it to act as a specific, and effect a cure: it was merely intended to promote what had already been declared to be the will of God. על ויּמרהוּ is probably more original than the simpler but less definite על ויּשׂימוּ. Hitzig is wrong in rendering ויּהי, “that it (the boil) may get well;” and Knobel in rendering it, “that he may recover.” It is merely the anticipation of the result so common in the historical writings of Scripture (see at Isa 7:1 and Isa 20:1), after which the historian goes back a step or two.

Chap. 39 Edit

Verse 1 Edit

From this point onwards the text of the book of Kings (2Ki 20:12-19, cf., 2Ch 32:24-31) runs parallel to the text before us. Babylonian ambassadors have an interview with the convalescent king of Judah. “At that time Merodach Bal'adan (K.Berodach Bal'adan),son of Bal'adan king of Babel, sent writings and a present to Hizkiyahu, and heard (K.for he had heard)that he (K.Hizkiyahu)had been sick, and was restored again.” The two texts here share the original text between them. Instead of the unnatural ויּשׁמע (which would link the cause on to the effect, as in 2Sa 14:5), we should read שׁמע כּי, whereas ויּחזק in our text appears to be the genuine word out of which חזקיהו in the other text has sprung, although it is not indispensable, as חלה has a pluperfect sense. In a similar manner the name of the king of Babylon is given here correctly as מראדך (Nissel, מרדך without א, as in Jer 50:2), whilst the book of Kings has בּראד (according to the Masora with א), probably occasioned by the other name Bal'ădân, which begins with Beth. It cannot be maintained that the words

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ben Bal’ădân are a mistake; at the same time, Bal'ădân (Jos. Baladas) evidently cannot be a name by itself if Merō'dakh Bal’ădân signifies “Merodach (the Babylonian Bel or Jupiter)[34]filium dedit.[35]
In the Canon Ptol. Mardokempados is preceded by a Jugaeus; and the inscriptions, according to G. Rawlinson, Mon. ii. 395, indicate Merodach-Baladan as the “son of Yakin.” They relate that the latter acknowledged Tiglath-pileser as his feudal lord; that, after reigning twelve years as a vassal, he rose in rebellion against Sargon in league with the Susanians and the Aramaean tribes above Babylonia, and lost everything except his life; that he afterwards rebelled against Sennacherib in conjunction with a Chaldean prince named Susub, just after Sennacherib had returned from his first[36]
Judaean campaign to Nineveh; and that having been utterly defeated, he took refuge in an island of the Persian Gulf. He does not make his appearance any more; but Susub escaped from his place of concealment, and being supported by the Susanians and certain Aramaean tribes, fought a long and bloody battle with Sennacherib on the Lower Tigris. this battle he lost, and Nebo-som-iskun, a son of Merodach Baladan, fell into the hands of the conqueror. In the midst of these details, as given by the inscriptions, the statement of the Can. Ptol. may still be maintained, according to which the twelve years of Mardokempados (a contraction, as Ewald supposes, of Mardokempalados) commence with the year 721. From this point onwards the biblical and extra-biblical accounts dovetail together; whereas in Polyhistor (Eus. chron. arm.) the following Babylonian rulers are mentioned: “a brother of Sennacherib, Acises, who reigned hardly a month; Merodach Baladan, six months; Elibus into the third year; Asordan, Sennacherib's son, who was made king after the defeat of Elibus.” Now, as the Can. Ptolem. also gives a Belibos with a three years' reign, the identity of Mardokempados and Marodach Baladan is indisputable. The Can. Ptol. seems only to take into account his legitimate reign as a vassal, and Polyhistor (from Berosus) only his last act of rebellion. At the same time, this is very far from removing all the difficulties that lie in the way of a reconciliation, more

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especially the chronological difficulties. Rawlinson, who places the commencement of the (second) Judaean campaign in the year 698, and therefore transfers it to the end of the twenty-ninth year of Hezekiah's reign instead of the middle, sets himself in opposition not only to Isa 36:1, but also to Isa 38:5 and 2Ki 18:2. According to the biblical accounts, as compared with the Can. Ptol., the embassy must have been sent by Merodach Baladan during the period of his reign as vassal, which commenced in the year 721. Apparently it had only the harmless object of congratulating the king upon his recovery (and also, according to 2Ch 32:31, of making some inquiry, in the interests of Chaldean astrology, into the mōphēth connected with the sun-dial); but it certainly had also the secret political object of making common cause with Hezekiah to throw off the Assyrian yoke. All that can be maintained with certainty beside this is, that the embassy cannot have been sent before the fourteenth year of Hezekiah's reign; for as he reigned twenty-nine years, his illness must have occurred, according to Isa 38:5, in the fourteenth year itself, i.e., the seventh year of Mardokempados. Such questions as whether the embassy came before or after the Assyrian catastrophe, which was till in the future at the time referred to in Isa 38:4-6, or whether it came before or after the payment of the compensation money to Sennacherib (2Ki 18:14-16), are open to dispute. In all probability it took place immediately before the Assyrian campaign,[37] as Hezekiah was still able to show off the abundance of his riches to the Babylonian ambassadors.

Verse 2 Edit

Isa 39:2“And Hezekiah rejoiced (K.heard, which is quite inappropriate)concerning them, and showed them (K.all)his storehouse: the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the fine oil (hasshâmen,K.shemen), and all his arsenal, and all that was in his treasures: there was nothing that Hezekiah had not shown them, in his house or in all his kingdom.” Although there were

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spices kept in נכת בּית, נכת is not equivalent to נכאת (from נכא, to break to pieces, to pulverize), which is applied to gum-dragon and other drugs, but is the niphal נכת from כּוּת (piel, Arab. kayyata, to cram full, related to כּוּס (כּיס), נכס (נכס), and possibly also to כּתם, katama (Hitzig, Knobel, Fürst), and consequently it does not mean “the house of his spices,” as Aquila, Symmachus, and the Vulgate render it, but his “treasure-house or storehouse” (Targ., Syr., Saad.). It differs, however, from bēth kēilim, the wood house of Lebanon (Isa 22:8). He was able to show them all that was worth seeing “in his whole kingdom,” inasmuch as it was all concentrated in Jerusalem, the capital.

Verses 3-8 Edit

The consequences of this coqueting with the children of the stranger, and this vain display, are pointed out in Isa 39:3-8 : “Then came Isaiah the prophet to king Hizkiyahu, and said to him, What have these men said, and whence come they to thee? Hizkiyahu said, They came to me from a far country (K. omits to me), out of Babel. He said further, What have they seen in thy house? Hizkiyahu said, All that is in my house have they seen: there was nothing in my treasures that I had not shown them. Then Isaiah said to Hizkiyahu, Hear the word of Jehovah of hosts (K. omits tsebhâ'ōth);Behold, days come, that all that is in thy house, and all that thy fathers have laid up unto this day, will be carried away to Babel (בּבל, K. בּבלה):nothing will be left behind, saith Jehovah. And of thy children that proceed from thee, whom thou shalt beget, will they take (K. chethib, ‘will he take’); and they will be courtiers in the palace of the king of Babel. Then said Hizkiyahu to Isaiah, Good is the word of Jehovah which thou hast spoken. And he said further, Yea (כּי, K. אם הלוא),there shall be peace and stedfastness in my days.” Hezekiah's two candid answers in vv. 3 and 4 are an involuntary condemnation of his own conduct, which was sinful in two respects. This self-satisfied display of worthless earthly possessions would bring its own punishment in their loss; and this obsequious suing for admiration and favour on the part of strangers, would be followed by plundering and enslaving on the part of those very same strangers whose envy he had excited. The prophet here foretells the Babylonian captivity; but, in accordance with the occasion here given, not as the destiny of the whole nation, but as that of the house of David.

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Even political sharp-sightedness might have foreseen, that some such disastrous consequences would follow Hezekiah's imprudent course; but this absolute certainty, that Babylon, which was then struggling hard for independence, would really be the heiress to the Assyrian government of the world, and that it was not from Assyria, which was actually threatening Judah with destruction for its rebellion, but from Babylon, that this destruction would really come, was impossible without the spirit of prophecy. We may infer from Isa 39:7 (cf., Isa 38:19, and for the fulfilment, Dan 1:3) that Hezekiah had no son as yet, at least none with a claim to the throne; and this is confirmed by 2Ki 21:1. So far as the concluding words are concerned, we should quite misunderstand them, if we saw nothing in them but common egotism. כּי (for) is explanatory here, and therefore confirmatory. אם הלוא, however, does not mean “yea, if only,” as Ewald supposes (§324,b), but is also explanatory, though in an interrogative form, “Is it not good (i.e., still gracious and kind), if,” etc.? He submits with humility to the word of Jehovah, in penitential acknowledgement of his vain, shortsighted, untheocratic conduct, and feels that he is mercifully spared by God, inasmuch as the divine blessings of peace and stability (אמת a self-attesting state of things, without any of those changes which disappoint our confident expectations) would continue. “Although he desired the prosperity of future ages, it would not have been right for him to think it nothing that God had given him a token of His clemency, by delaying His judgment” (Calvin).
Over the kingdom of Judah there was now hanging the very same fate of captivity and exile, which had put an end to the kingdom of Israel eight years before. When the author of the book of Kings prefaces the four accounts of Isaiah in 2Ki 18:13-20, with the recapitulation in 2Ki 18:9-12 (cf., Isa 17:5-6), his evident meaning is, that the end of the kingdom of Israel, and the beginning of the end of the kingdom of Judah, had their meeting-point in Hezekiah's time. As Israel fell under the power of the Assyrian empire, which foundered upon Judah, though only through a miraculous manifestation of the grace of God (see Hos 1:7); so did Judah fall a victim to the Babylonian empire. The four accounts are so arranged, that the first two, together with the

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epilogue in Isa 37:36., which contains the account of the fulfilment, bring the Assyrian period of judgment to a close; and the last two, with the eventful sketch in Isa 39:6-7, open the way for the great bulk of the prophecies which now follow in chapters 40-66, relating to the Babylonian period of judgment. This Janus-headed arrangement of the contents of chapters 36-39 is a proof that this historical section formed an original part of the “vision of Isaiah.” At any rate, it leads to the conclusion that, whoever arranged the four accounts in their present order, had chapters 40-66 before him at the time. We believe, however, that we may, or rather, considering the prophetico-historical style of chapters 36-39, that we must, draw the still further conclusion, that Isaiah himself, when he revised the collection of his prophecies at the end of Hezekiah's reign, or possibly not till the beginning of Manasseh's, bridged over the division between the two halves of the collection by the historical trilogy in the seventh book.

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Second Half of the Collection - Isaiah 40-66 Edit

The first half consisted of seven parts; the second consists of three. The trilogical arrangement of this cycle of prophecies has hardly been disputed by any one, since Rückert pointed it out in his Translation of the Hebrew Prophets (1831). And it is equally certain that each part consists of 3 x 3 addresses. The division of the chapters furnishes an unintentional proof of this, though the true commencement is not always indicated. The first part embraces the following nine addresses: chapters 40; 41, Isaiah 42:1-43:13; 43:14-44:5; 44:6-23; 44:24-45:25; Isa 46:1-13; Isa 47:1-15; 48. The second part includes the following nine: chapters 49; Isa 50:1-11; 51; Isa 52:1-12; 52:13-53:12; 54; Isa 55:1-13; Isa 56:1-8; 56:9-57:21. The third part the following nine: Isa 58:1-14; 59; 60; Isa 61:1-11; Isa 62:1-12; Isa 63:1-6; 63:7-64:12; 65; 66. It is only in the middle of the first part that the division is at all questionable. In the other two it is hardly possible to err. The theme of the whole is the comforting announcement of the approaching deliverance, and its attendant summons to repentance. For the deliverance itself was for the Israel, which remained true to the confession of Jehovah in the midst of affliction and while redemption was delayed, and not for the rebellious, who denied Jehovah in word and deed, and thus placed themselves on the level of the heathen. “There is no peace, saith Jehovah, for the wicked:” with these words does the first part of the twenty-seven addresses close in Isa 48:22. The second closes in Isa 57:21 in a more excited and fuller tone: “There is no peace, saith my God, for the wicked.” And at the close of the third part (Isa 66:24) the prophet drops this form of refrain, and declares the miserable end of the wicked in deeply pathetic though horrifying terms: “Their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be

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quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh;” just as, at the close of the fifth book of the Psalms, the shorter form of berâkhâh (blessing) is dropt, and an entire psalm, the Hallelujah (Ps), takes its place.
The three parts, which are thus marked off by the prophet himself, are only variations of the one theme common to them all. At the same time, each has its own leading thought, and its own special key-note, which is struck in the very first words. In each of the three parts, also, a different antithesis stands in the foreground: viz., in the first part, chapters 40-48, the contrast between Jehovah and the idols, and between Israel and the heathen; in the second part, chapters 49-57, the contrast between the present suffering of the Servant of Jehovah and His future glory; in the third part, chapters 58-66, the contrast observable in the heart of Israel itself, between the hypocrites, the depraved, the rebellious, on the one side, and the faithful, the mourning, the persecuted, on the other. The first part sets forth the deliverance from Babylon, in which the prophecy of Jehovah is fulfilled, to the shame ad overthrow of the idols and their worshippers; the second part, the way of the Servant of Jehovah through deep humiliation to exaltation and glory, which is at the same time the exaltation of Israel to the height of its world-wide calling; the third part, the indispensable conditions of participation in the future redemption and glory. There is some truth in Hahn's opinion, that the distinctive characteristics of the three separate parts are exhibited in the three clauses of Isa 40:2 : “that her distress is ended, that her debt is paid, that she has received (according to his explanation, ‘will receive’) double for all her sins.” For the central point of the first part is really the termination of the Babylonian distress; that of the second, the expiation of guilt by the self-sacrifice of the Servant of Jehovah; and that of the third, the assurance that the sufferings will be followed by “a far more exceeding weight of glory.” The promise rises higher and higher in the circular movements of the 3 x 9 addresses, until at length it reaches its zenith in chapters 65 and 66, and links time and eternity together.
So far as the language is concerned, there is nothing more finished or more elevated in the whole of the Old Testament than this trilogy of addresses by Isaiah. In chapters 1-39 of

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the collection, the prophet's language is generally more compressed, chiselled (lapidarisch), plastic, although even there his style passes through all varieties of colour. But here in chapters 40-66, where he no longer has his foot upon the soil of his own time, but is transported into the far distant future, as into his own home, even the language retains an ideal and, so to speak, ethereal character. It has grown into a broad, pellucid, shining stream, which floats us over as it were into the world beyond, upon majestic yet gentle and translucent waves. There are only two passages in which it becomes more harsh, turbid, and ponderous, viz., Isa 53:1-12 and Isaiah 56:9-57:11a. In the former it is the emotion of sorrow which throws its shadow upon it; in the latter, the emotion of wrath. And in every other instance in which it changes, we may detect at once the influence of the object and of the emotion. In Isa 63:7 the prophet strikes the note of the liturgical tephillâh; in Isaiah 63:19b-64:4 it is sadness which chokes the stream of words; in Isa 64:5 you year, as in Jer 3:25, the key-note of the liturgical vidduy, or confessional prayer.
And when we turn to the contents of his trilogy, it is more incomparable still. It commences with a prophecy, which gave to John the Baptist the great theme of his preaching. It closes with the prediction of the creation of a new heaven and new earth, beyond which even the last page of the New Testament Apocalypse cannot go. And in the centre (Isaiah 52:13-53:12) the sufferings and exaltation of Christ are proclaimed as clearly, as if the prophet had stood beneath the cross itself, and had seen the Risen Saviour. He is transported to the very commencement of the New Testament times, and begins just like the New Testament evangelists. He afterwards describes the death and resurrection of Christ as completed events, with all the clearness of a Pauline discourse. And lastly, he clings to the heavenly world beyond, like John in the Apocalypse. Yet the Old Testament limits are not disturbed; but within those limits, evangelist, apostle, and apocalyptist are all condensed into one. Throughout the whole of these addresses we never meet with a strictly Messianic prophecy; and yet they have more christological depth than all the Messianic prophecies taken together. The bright picture of the coming King, which is met with in the earlier Messianic prophecies, undergoes a

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metamorphosis here, out of which it issues enriched by many essential elements, viz., those of the two status, the mors vicaria, and the munus triplex. The dark typical background of suffering, which the mournful Davidic psalms give to the figure of the Messiah, becomes here for the first time an object of direct prediction. The place of the Son of David, who is only a King, is now take by the Servant of Jehovah, who is Prophet and Priest by virtue of His self-sacrifice, and King as well; the Saviour of Israel and of the Gentiles, persecuted even to death by His own nation, but exalted by God to be both Priest and King. So rich and profound a legacy did Isaiah leave to the church of the captivity, and to the church of the future also, yea, even to the New Jerusalem upon the new earth. Hengstenberg has very properly compared these prophecies of Isaiah to the Deuteronomic “last words” of Moses in the steppes of Moab, and to the last words of the Lord Jesus, within the circle of His own disciples, as reported by John. It is a thoroughly esoteric book, left to the church for future interpretation. To none of the Old Testament prophets who followed him was the ability given perfectly to open the book. Nothing but the coming of the Servant of Jehovah in the person of Jesus Christ could break all the seven seals. But was Isaiah really the author of this book of consolation? Modern criticism visits all who dare to assert this with the double ban of want of science and want of conscience. It regards Isaiah's authorship as being quite as impossible as any miracle in the sphere of nature, of history, or of the spirit. No prophecies find any favour in its eyes, but such as can be naturally explained. It knows exactly how far a prophet can see, and where he must stand, in order to see so far. But we are not tempted at all to purchase such omniscience at the price of the supernatural. We believe in the supernatural reality of prophecy, simply because history furnishes indisputable proofs of it, and because a supernatural interposition on the part of God in both the inner and outer life of man takes place even at the present day, and can be readily put to the test. But this interposition varies greatly both in degree and kind; and even in the far-sight of the prophets there were the greatest diversities, according to the measure of their charisma. It is quite possible, therefore, that Isaiah may

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have foreseen the calamities of the Babylonian age and the deliverance that followed “by an excellent spirit,” as the son of Sirach says (Ecclus. 48:24), and may have lived and moved in these “last things,” even at a time when the Assyrian empire was still standing. But we do not regard all that is possible as being therefore real. We can examine quite impartially whether this really was the case, and without our ultimate decision being under the constraint of any unalterable foregone conclusion, like that of the critics referred to. All that we have said in praise of chapters 40-66 would retain its fullest force, even if the author of the whole should prove to be a prophet of the captivity, and not Isaiah.
We have already given a cursory glance at the general and particular grounds upon which we maintain the probability, or rather the certainty, that Isaiah was the author of chapters 40-66; and we have explained them more fully in the concluding remarks to Drechsler's Commentary (vol. iii. pp. 361-416), to which we would refer any readers who wish to obtain a complete insight into the pro and con of this critical question. All false supports of Isaiah's authorship have there been willingly given up; for the words of Job to his friends (Job 13:7-8) are quite as applicable to a biblical theologian of the present day.
We have admitted, that throughout the whole of the twenty-seven prophecies, the author of chapters 40-66 has the captivity as his fixed standpoint, or at any rate as a standpoint that is only so far a fluctuating one, as the eventual deliverance approaches nearer and nearer, and that without ever betraying the difference between the real present and this ideal one; so that as the prophetic vision of the future has its roots in every other instance in the soil of the prophet's own time, and springs out of that soil, to all appearance he is an exile himself. But notwithstanding this, the following arguments may be adduced in support of Isaiah's authorship. In the first place, the deliverance foretold in these prophecies, with all its attendant circumstances, is referred to as something beyond the reach of human foresight, and known to Jehovah alone, and as something the occurrence of which would prove Him to be the God of Gods. Jehovah, the God of the prophecy, new the name of Cyrus even before he knew it himself; and He demonstrated

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His Godhead to all the world, inasmuch as He caused the name and work of the deliverer of Israel to be foretold (Isa 45:4-7). Secondly, although these prophecies rest throughout upon the soil of the captivity, and do not start with the historical basis of Hezekiah's time, as we should expect them to do, with Isaiah as their author; yet the discrepancy between this phenomenon and the general character of prophecy elsewhere, loses its full force as an argument against Isaiah's authorship, if we do not separate chapters 40-66 from chapters 1-39 and take it as an independent work, as is generally done. The whole of the first half of the collection is a staircase, leading up to these addresses to the exiles, and bears the same relation to them, as a whole, as the Assyrian pedestal in Isa 14:24-27 to the Babylonian massâ in Isaiah 13-14:26. This relation between the two - namely, that Assyrian prophecies lay the foundation for Babylonian - runs through the whole of the first half. It is so arranged, that the prophecies of the Assyrian times throughout have intermediate layers, which reach beyond those times; and whilst the former constitute the groundwork, the latter form the gable. This is the relation in which chapters 24-27 stand to chapters 13-23, and chapters 34-35 to chapters 28-33. And within the cycle of prophecies against the nations, three Babylonian prophecies - viz. Isaiah 13-14:23; Isa 21:1-10, and 23 - form the commencement, middle, and end. The Assyrian prophecies lie within a circle, the circumference and diameter of which consist of prophecies that have a longer span. And are all these prophecies, that are inserted with such evident skill and design, to be taken away from our prophet? The oracle concerning Babel, in Isaiah 13-14:23, has all the ring of a prophecy of Isaiah's, as we have already seen; and in the epilogue, in Isa 14:24-27, it has Isaiah's signature. The second oracle concerning Babel, in Isa 21:1-10, is not only connected with three passages of Isaiah's that are acknowledged as genuine, so as to form a tetralogy; but in style and spirit it is most intimately bound up with them. The cycle of prophecies of the final catastrophe (chapters 24-27) commences so thoroughly in Isaiah's style, that nearly every word and every turn in the first three vv. bears Isaiah's stamp; and in Isa 27:12-13, it dies away, just like the book of Immanuel, Isa 11:11. And

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the genuineness of chapters 34 and Isa 35:1-10 has never yet been disputed on any valid grounds. Knobel, indeed, maintains that the historical background of this passage establishes its spuriousness; but it is impossible to detect any background of contemporaneous history. Edom in this instance represents the world, as opposed to the people of God, just as Moab does in Isa 25:1-12. Consider, moreover, that these disputed prophecies form a series which constitutes in every respect a prelude to chapters 40-66. Have we not in Isa 13:1-2, the substance of chapters 40-66, as it were, in nuce? Is not the trilogy “Babel,” in chapters 46-48, like an expansion of the vision in Isa 21:1-10? Is not the prophecy concerning Edom in chapter 34 the side-piece to Isa 63:1-6? And do we not hear in Isa 35:1-10 the direct prelude to the melody, which is continued in chapters 40-66? And to this we may add still further the fact, that prominent marks of Isaiah are common alike to the disputed prophecies, and to those whose genuineness is acknowledged. The name of God, which is so characteristic of Isaiah, and which we meet with on every hand in acknowledged prophecies in chapters 1-39, viz., “the Holy One of Israel,” runs also through chapters 40-66. And so again do the confirmatory words, “Thus saith Jehovah,” and the interchange of the national names Jacob and Israel (compare, for example, Isa 40:27 with Isa 29:23).[38]
The rhetorical figure called epnanaphora, which may be illustrated by an Arabic proverb -[39]“Enjoy the scent of the yellow roses of Negd; For when the evening if gone, it is over with the yellow roses,” - is very rare apart from the book of Isaiah (Gen 6:9; Gen 35:12; Lev 25:41; Job 11:7); whereas in the book of Isaiah itself it runs like a favourite oratorical turn from beginning to end (vid., Isa 1:7; Isa 4:3; Isa 6:11; Isa 13:10; Isa 14:25; Isa 15:8; Isa 30:20; Isa 34:9; Isa 40:19; Isa 42:15, Isa 42:19; Isa 48:21; Isa 51:13; Isa 53:6-7; Isa 54:5, Isa 54:13; Isa 50:4; Isa 58:2; Isa 59:8 - a collection of examples which could probably be still further increased). But there are still deeper lines of connection than these. How strikingly, for example,

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does Isa 28:5 ring in harmony with Isa 62:3, and Isa 29:23 (cf., Isa 5:7) with Isa 60:21! And does not the leading thought which is expressed in Isa 22:11; Isa 37:26 (cf., Isa 25:1), viz., that whatever is realized in history has had its pre-existence as an idea in God, run with a multiplied echo through chapters 40-66? And does not the second half repeat, in Isa 65:25, in splendidly elaborate paintings, and to some extent in the very same words (which is not unlike Isaiah), what we have already found in Isa 11:6., Isa 30:26, and other passages, concerning the future glorification of the earthly and heavenly creation? Yea, we may venture to maintain (and no one has ever attempted to refute it), that the second half of the book of Isaiah (chapters 40-66), so far as its theme, its standpoint, its style, and its ideas are concerned, is in a state of continuous formation throughout the whole of the first (chapters 1-39). On the frontier of the two halves, the prediction in Isa 39:5, Isa 39:7 stands like a sign-post, with the inscription, “To Babylon.” There, viz., in Babylon, is henceforth Isaiah's spiritual home; there he preaches to the church of the captivity the way of salvation, and the consolation of redemption, but to the rebellious the terrors of judgment.
That this is the case, is confirmed by the reciprocal relation in which chapters 40-66 stand to all the other literature of the Old Testament with which we are acquainted. In chapters 40-66 we find reminiscences from the book of Job (compare Isa 40:23 with Job 12:24; Isa 44:25 with Job 12:17, Job 12:20; Isa 44:24 with Job 9:8; Isa 40:14 with Job 21:22; Isa 59:4 with Job 15:35 and Psa 7:15). And the first half points back to Job in just the same manner. The poetical words גזע, התגּבּר, צאצאים, are only met with in the book of Isaiah and the book of Job. Once at least, namely Isa 59:7, we are reminded of mishlē (Pro 1:16); whilst in the first half we frequently met with imitations of the mâshâl of Solomon. The two halves stand in exactly the same relation to the book of Micah; compare Isa 58:1 with Mic 3:8, like Isa 2:2-4 with Mic 4:1-4, and Isa 26:21 with Mic 1:3. And the same relation to Nahum runs through the two; compare Nah 3:4-5 with Isa 47:1-15, Nah 2:1 with Isa 52:7, Isa 52:1, and Nah 2:11 with Isa 24:1; Nah 3:13 with Isa 19:16. We leave the question open, on which side the priority lies. But when we find in Zephaniah and Jeremiah points of contact not only with Isaiah 40-66,

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but also with chapter 13-14:23; Isa 21:1-10; 21:34-35, which preclude the possibility of accident, it is more than improbable that these two prophets should have been imitated by the author of chapters 40-66, since it is in them above all others that we meet with the peculiar disposition to blend the words and thoughts of their predecessors with their own. Not only does Zephaniah establish points of contact with Isaiah 13 and 34 in by no means an accidental manner, but compare Isa 2:15 with Isa 47:8, Isa 47:10, and Isa 3:10 with Isa 66:20. The former passage betrays its derivative character by the fact that עלּיז is a word that belongs exclusively to Isaiah; whilst the latter is not only a compendium of Isa 66:20, but also points back to Isa 18:1, Isa 18:7, in the expression לנהרי־כוּשׁ מעבר. In Jeremiah, the indication of dependence upon Isaiah comes out most strongly in the prophecy against Babylon in Jer 50-51; ; in fact, it is so strong, that Movers, Hitzig, and De Wette regard the anonymous author of chapters 40-66 as the interpolator of this prophecy. But it also contains echoes of Isaiah 13-14; 21, and 34, and is throughout a Mosaic or earlier prophecies. The passage in Jer 10:1-16 concerning the nothingness of the gods of the nations, sounds also most strikingly like Isaiah's; compare more especially Isa 44:12-15; Isa 41:7; Isa 46:7, though the attempt has also been made to render this intelligible by the interpolation hypothesis. It is not only in Isa 40:6-8 and Isa 40:10, which are admitted to be Jeremiah's, that we meet with the peculiar characteristics of Jeremiah; but even in passages that are rejected we find such expressions of his as יפּה, אותם for אתּם, נבער, תּעתּעים, פּקדּה, a penal visitation, such as we never meet with in Isaiah II. And the whole of the consolatory words in Jer 30:10-11, and again in Jer 46:27-28, which sound so much like the deutero-Isaiah, are set down as having been inserted in the book of Jeremiah by Isaiah II. But Caspari has shown that this is impossible, because the concluding words of the promise, “I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished,” would have no meaning at all if uttered at the close of the captivity; and also, because such elements as are evidently Jeremiah's, and in which it coincides with prophecies of Jeremiah that are acknowledged to be genuine, far outweigh those of the deutero-Isaiah. And yet in this passage, when

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Israel is addressed as “my servant,” we hear the tone of the deutero-Isaiah. Jeremiah fuses in this instance, as in many other passages, the tones of Isaiah with his own. There are also many other passages which coincide with passages of the second part of Isaiah, both in substance and expression, though not so conclusively as those already quoted, and in which we have to decide between regarding Jeremiah as an imitator, or Isaiah II as an interpolator. But if we compare Jer 6:15 with Isa 56:11, and Isa 48:6 with Jer 33:3, where Jeremiah, according to his usual custom, gives a different turn to the original passages by a slight change in the letters, we shall find involuntary reminiscences of Isaiah in Jeremiah, in such parallels as Jer 3:16; Isa 65:17; Jer 4:13; Isa 66:15; Jer 11:19; Isa 53:1; and shall hear the ring of Isa 51:17-23 in Jeremiah's qı̄nōth, and that of Isaiah 56:9-57:11a in the earlier reproachful addresses of Jeremiah, and not vice versa.
In conclusion, let us picture to ourselves the gradual development of Isaiah's view of the captivity, that penal judgment already threatened in the law. (1.) In the Uzziah-Jotham age the prophet refers to the captivity, in the most general terms that can be conceived, in Isa 6:12, though he mentions it casually by its own name even in Isa 5:13. (2.) In the time of Ahaz we already see him far advanced beyond this first sketchy reference to the captivity. In Isa 11:11. he predicts a second deliverance, resembling the Egyptian Exodus. Asshur stands at the head of the countries of the diaspora, as the imperial power by which the judgment of captivity is carried out. (3.) In the early years of Hezekiah, Isa 22:18 appears to indicate the carrying away of Judah by Asshur. But when the northern kingdom had succumbed to the judgment of the Assyrian banishment, and Judah had been mercifully spared this judgment, the eyes of Isaiah were directed to Babylon as the imperial power destined to execute the same judgment upon Judah. We may see this from Isa 39:5-7. Micah also speaks of Babylon as the future place of punishment and deliverance (Mic 4:10). The prophecies of the overthrow of Babylon in Isa 13:14, Isa 13:21, are therefore quite in the spirit of the prophecies of Hezekiah's time. And chapters 40-66 merely develop on all sides what was already contained in germ in Isa 14:1-2; Isa 21:10. It is well known that in the time of

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Hezekiah Babylon attempted to break loose from Assyria; and so also the revolt of the Medes from Asshur, and the union of their villages and districts under one monarch named Deyoces, occurred in the time of Hezekiah.[40]
It is quite characteristic of Isaiah that he never names the Persians, who were at that time still subject to the Medes. He mentions Madai in Isa 13:17 and Isa 21:2, and Kōresh (Kurus), the founder of the Persian monarchy; but not that one of the two leading Iranian tribes, which gained its liberty through him in the time of Astyages, and afterwards rose to the possession of the imperial sway.
But how is it possible that Isaiah should have mentioned Cyrus by name centuries before this time (210 years, according to Josephus, Ant. xi. 1, 2)? Windischmann answers this question in his Zoroastrische Studien, p. 137. “No one,” he says, “who believes in a living, personal, omniscient God, and in the possibility of His revealing future events, will ever deny that He possesses the power to foretell the name of a future monarch.” And Albrecht Weber, the Indologian, finds in this answer “an evidence of self-hardening against the scientific conscience,” and pronounces such hardening nothing less than “devilish.”
It is not possible to come to any understanding concerning this point, which is the real nerve of the prevailing settled conclusion as to chapters 40-66. We therefore hasten on to our exposition. And in relation to this, if we only allow that the prophet really was a prophet, it is of no essential consequence to what age he belonged. For in this one point we quite agree with the opponents of its genuineness, namely, that the standpoint of the prophet is the second half of the captivity. If the author is Isaiah, as we feel constrained to assume for reasons that we have already stated here and elsewhere, he is entirely carried away from his own times, and leads a pneumatic life among the exiles. There is, in fact, no more “Johannic” book in the whole of the Old Testament than this book of consolation. It is like the produce of an Old Testament gift of tongues. The fleshly body of speech has been changed into a glorified body; and we hear, as it were, spiritual voices from the world beyond, or world of glory.

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Verse 1 Edit

In this first address the prophet vindicates his call to be the preacher of the comfort of the approaching deliverance, and explains this comfort on the ground that Jehovah, who called him to this comforting proclamation, was the incomparably exalted Creator and Ruler of the world. The first part of this address (Isa 40:1-11) may be regarded as the prologue to the whole twenty-seven. The theme of the prophetic promise, and the irresistible certainty of its fulfilment, are here declared. Turning of the people of the captivity, whom Jehovah has neither forgotten nor rejected, the prophet commences thus in Isa 40:1 : “Comfort ye, comfort ye may people, saith your God.” This is the divine command to the prophets. Nachămū (piel, literally, to cause to breathe again) is repeated, because of its urgency (anadiplosis, as in Isa 41:27; Isa 43:11, Isa 43:25, etc.). The word יאמר, which does not mean “will say” here (Hofmann, Stier), but “saith” (lxx, Jerome) - as, for example, in 1Sa 24:14 - affirms that the command is a continuous one. The expression “saith your God” is peculiar to Isaiah, and common to both parts of the collection (Isa 1:11, Isa 1:18; Isa 33:10; Isa 40:1, Isa 40:25; Isa 41:21; Isa 66:9). The future in all these passages is expressive of that which is taking place or still continuing. And it is the same here. The divine command has not been issued once only, or merely to one prophet, but is being continually addressed to many prophets. “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people,” is the continual charge of the God of the exiles. who has not ceased to be their God even in the midst of wrath, to His messengers and heralds the prophets.

Verse 2 Edit

The summons is now repeated with still greater emphasis, the substance of the consoling proclamation being also given. “Speak ye to the heart of Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her affliction is ended, that her debt is paid, that she has received from the hand of Jehovah double for all her sins.” The

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holy city is thought of here in connection with the population belonging to it. על־לב דּבּר (to speak to the heart) is an expression applied in Gen 34:3 and Jdg 19:3 to words adapted to win the heart; in Gen 50:21, to the words used by Joseph to inspire his brethren with confidence; whilst here it is used in precisely the same sense as in Hos 2:16, and possibly not without a reminiscence of this earlier prophecy. אל קרא (to call to a person) is applied to a prophetic announcement made to a person, as in Jer 7:27; Zec 1:4. The announcement to be made to Jerusalem is then introduced with כּי, ὅτι, which serves as the introduction to either an indirect or a direct address (Ges. §155, 1,e). (1.) Her affliction has become full, and therefore has come to an end. צבא, military service, then feudal service, and hardship generally (Job 7:1); here it applies to the captivity or exile - that unsheltered bivouac, as it were, of the people who had bee transported into a foreign land, and were living there in bondage, restlessness, and insecurity. (2.) Her iniquity is atoned for, and the justice of God is satisfied: nirtsâh, which generally denotes a satisfactory reception, is used here in the sense of meeting with a satisfactory payment, like עון רצה in Lev 26:41, Lev 26:43, to pay off the debt of sin by enduring the punishment of sin. (3.) The third clause repeats the substance of the previous ones with greater emphasis and in a fuller tone: Jerusalem has already suffered fully for her sins. In direct opposition to לקחה, which cannot, when connected with two actual perfects as it is here, be take as a perfect used to indicate the certainty of some future occurrence, Gesenius, Hitzig, Ewald, Umbreit, Stier, and Hahn suppose kiphlayim to refer to the double favour that Jerusalem was about to receive (like mishneh in Isa 61:7, and possibly borrowed from Isaiah in Zec 9:12), instead of to the double punishment which Jerusalem had endured (like mishneh in Jer 16:18). It is not to be taken, however, in a judicial sense; in which case God would appear over-rigid, and therefore unjust. Jerusalem had not suffered more than its sins had deserved; but the compassion of God regarded what His justice had been obliged to inflict upon Jerusalem as superabundant. This compassion also expresses itself in the words “for all” (bekhol, c. Beth pretii): there is nothing left for further punishment. The turning-point from wrath to love

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has arrived. The wrath has gone forth in double measure. With what intensity, therefore, will the love break forth, which has been so long restrained!

Verse 3 Edit

There is a sethume in the text at this point. The first two vv. form a small parashah by themselves, the prologue of the prologue. After the substance of the consolation has been given on its negative side, the question arises, What positive salvation is to be expected? This question is answered for the prophet, inasmuch as, in the ecstatic stillness of his mind as turned to God, he hears a marvellous voice. “Hark, a crier! In the wilderness prepare ye a way for Jehovah, make smooth in the desert a road for our God.” This is not to be rendered “a voice cries” (Ges., Umbreit, etc.); but the two words are in the construct state, and form an interjectional clause, as in Isa 13:4; Isa 52:8; Isa 66:6 : Voice of one crying! Who the crier is remains concealed; his person vanishes in the splendour of his calling, and falls into the background behind the substance of his cry. The cry sounds like the long-drawn trumpet-blast of a herald (cf., Isa 16:1). The crier is like the outrider of a king, who takes care that the way by which the king is to go shall be put into good condition. The king is Jehovah; and it is all the more necessary to prepare the way for Him in a becoming manner, that this way leads through the pathless desert. Bammidbâr is to be connected with pannū, according to the accents on account of the parallel (zakeph katan has a stronger disjunctive force here than zekpeh gadol, as in Deu 26:14; Deu 28:8; 2Ki 1:6), though without any consequent collision with the New Testament description of the fulfilment itself. And so also the Targum and Jewish expositors take במדבר קור קול together, like the lxx, and after this the Gospels. We may, or rather apparently we must, imagine the crier as advancing into the desert, and summoning the people to come and make a road through it. But why does the way of Jehovah lie through the desert, and whither does it lead? It was through the desert that He went to redeem Israel out of Egyptian bondage, and to reveal Himself to Israel from Sinai (Deu 33:2; Jdg 5:4; Psa 88:8); and in Psa 88:4 (5.) God the Redeemer of His people is called hârōkhēbh bâ‛ărâbhōth. Just as His people looked for Him then, when they were between Egypt and Canaan; so was He to be looked

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for by His people again, now that they were in the “desert of the sea” (Isa 21:1), and separated by Arabia deserta from their fatherland. If He were coming at the head of His people, He Himself would clear the hindrances out of His way; but He was coming through the desert to Israel, and therefore Israel itself was to take care that nothing should impede the rapidity or detract from the favour of the Coming One. The description answers to the reality; but, as we shall frequently find as we go further on, the literal meaning spiritualizes itself in an allegorical way.

Verse 4 Edit

The summons proceeds in a commanding tone. “Let every valley be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low; and let the rugged be made a plain, and the ledges of rocks a valley.” והיה, which takes its tone from the two jussive verbs, is also itself equivalent to ויהי. Instead of גּיא (from גּיא), the pointing in Zec 14:4, we have here (according to Kimchi) the vowel-pointing גּיא; at the same time, the editions of Brescia, Pesaro, Venice 1678, have גּיא (with tzere), and this is also the reading of a codex of Luzzatto without Masoretic notes. The command, according to its spiritual interpretation, points to the encouragement of those that are cast down, the humiliation of the self-righteous and self-secure, the changing of dishonesty into simplicity, and of unapproachable haughtiness into submission (for ‛âqōbh, hilly, rugged,[41] compare Jer 17:9 together with Hab 2:4). In general, the meaning is that Israel is to take care, that the God who is coming to deliver it shall find it in such an inward and outwards state as befits His exaltation and His purpose.

Verse 5 Edit

The cry of the crier proceeds thus in Isa 40:5 : “And the glory of Jehovah will be revealed, and all flesh seeth together: for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it.” The pret. cons. קנגלה is here apodosis imper. When the way is prepared for Jehovah the Coming One, the glory of the God of salvation will unveil itself (on the name Jehovah, which is applied to God, the absolute I, as living and revealing Himself in history, more especially in the history of salvation). His parousia is the revelation of His glory (1Pe 4:13). This revelation is made for the good of Israel, but not secretly or exclusively;

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for all the human race, called here designedly “all flesh” (kol bâsâr), will come to see it (compare Luk 3:6, “the salvation of God”). Man, because he is flesh, cannot see God without dying (Exo 33:20); but the future will fill up this gulf of separation. The object to the verb “see” is not what follows, as Rosenmüller supposes, viz., “that the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken,” for the word of promise which is here fulfilled is not one addressed to all flesh; nor does it mean, “see that Jehovah hath spoken with His own mouth,” i.e., after having become man, as Stier maintains, for the verb required in this case would be מדבּר, not דּבּר. The clause, “for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it,” is rather Isaiah's usual confirmation of the foregoing prophecy. Here the crier uses it to establish the certainty of what he foretells, provided that Israel will do what he summons it to perform.

Verses 6-8 Edit

The prophet now hears a second voice, and then a third, entering into conversation with it. “Hark, one speaking, Cry! And he answers, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all its beauty as the flower of the field. Grass is withered, flower faded: for the breath of Jehovah has blown upon it. Surely grass is the people; grass withereth, flower fadeth: yet the word of our God will stand for ever.” A second voice celebrates the divine word of promise in the face of the approaching fulfilment, and appoints a preacher of its eternal duration. The verb is not ואמר (et dixi, lxx, Vulg.), but ואמר; so that the person asking the question is not the prophet himself, but an ideal person, whom he has before him in visionary objectiveness. The appointed theme of his proclamation is the perishable nature of all flesh (Isa 40:5 πᾶσα σάρξ, here πᾶσα ἡ σάρξ), and, on the other hand, the imperishable nature of the word of God. Men living in the flesh are universally impotent, perishing, limited; God, on the contrary (Isa 31:3), is the omnipotent, eternal, all-determining; and like Himself, so is His word, which, regarded as the vehicle and utterance of His willing and thinking, is not something separate from Himself, and therefore is the same as He. Chasdō is the charm or gracefulness of the outward appearance (lxx; 1Pe 1:24, δόξα: see Schott on the passage, Jam 1:11, εὐπρέπεια). The comparison instituted with grass and flower recals Isa 37:27 and Job 8:12, and still more Psa 90:5-6, and Job 14:2. Isa 40:7

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describes what happens to the grass and flower. The preterites, like the Greek aoristus gnomicus (cf., Isa 26:10), express a fact of experience sustained by innumerable examples: exaruit gramen, emarcuit flos;[42] consequently the כּי which follows is not hypothetical (granting that), but explanatory of the reason, viz., “because rūăch Jehovah hath blown upon it,” i.e., the “breath” of God the Creator, which pervades the creation, generating life, sustaining life, and destroying life, and whose most characteristic elementary manifestation is the wind. Every breath of wind is a drawing of the breath of the whole life of nature, the active indwelling principle of whose existence is the rūăch of God. A fresh v. ought to commence now with אכן. The clause העם חציר אכן is genuine, and thoroughly in Isaiah's style, notwithstanding the lxx, which Gesenius and Hitzig follow. עכן is not equivalent to a comparative כן (Ewald, §105,a), but is assuring, as in Isa 45:15; Isa 49:4; Isa 53:4; and hâ‛âm (the people) refers to men generally, as in Isa 42:5. The order of thought is in the form of a triolet. The explanation of the striking simile commences with ‘âkhēn (surely); and then in the repetition of the words, “grass withereth, flower fadeth,” the men are intended, resemble the grass and the flower. Surely grass is the human race; such grass withereth and such flower fadeth, but the word of our God (Jehovah, the God of His people and of sacred history) yâqūm le‛ōlâm, i.e., it rises up without withering or fading, and endures for ever, fulfilling and verifying itself through all times. This general truth refers, in the preset instance, to the word of promise uttered by the voice in the desert. If the word of God generally has an eternal duration, more especially is this the case with the word of the parousia of God the Redeemer, the word in which all the words of God are yea and amen. The imperishable nature of this word, however, has for its dark foil the perishable nature of all flesh, and all the beauty thereof. The oppressors of Israel are mortal, and their chesed with which they impose and bribe is perishable; but the word of God, with which Israel can console itself, preserves the fields,

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and ensures it a glorious end to its history. Thus the seal, which the first crier set upon the promise of Jehovah's speedy coming, is inviolable; and the comfort which the prophets of God are to bring to His people, who have now been suffering so long, is infallibly sure.

Verse 9 Edit

The prophet accordingly now takes, as his standpoint, the time when Jehovah will already have come. “Upon a high mountain get thee up, O evangelistess Zion; lift up they voice with strength, evangelistess Jerusalem: lift up, be not afraid; say to the cities of Judah, Behold your God.” Knobel and others follow the lxx and Targum, and regard Zion and Jerusalem as accusatives of the object, viz., “preacher of salvation (i.e., a chorus of preachers) to Zion-Jerusalem;” but such parallels as Isa 52:7 and Isa 62:11 are misleading here. The words are in apposition (A. S. Th. εὐαγγελιζομένη Σιών). Zion-Jerusalem herself is called an evangelistess: the personification as a female renders this probable at the outset, and it is placed beyond all doubt by the fact, that it is the cities of Judah (the daughters of Zion-Jerusalem) that are to be evangelized. The prophet's standpoint here is in the very midst of the parousia. When Jerusalem shall have her God in the midst of her once more, after He has broken up His home there for so long a time; she is then, as the restored mother-community, to ascend a high mountain, and raising her voice with fearless strength, to bring to her daughters the joyful news of the appearance of their God. The verb bissēr signifies literally to smooth, to unfold, then to make glad, more especially with joyful news.[43]
It lies at the root of the New Testament εὐαγγελίζειν (evangelize), and is a favourite word of the

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author of chapters 40-66, that Old Testament evangelist, though it is no disproof of Isaiah's authorship (cf., Nah 2:1). Hitherto Jerusalem has been in despair, bowed down under the weight of the punishment of her sins, and standing in need of consolation. But now that she has Jehovah with her again, she is to lift up her voice with the most joyful confidence, without further anxiety, and to become, according to her true vocation, the messenger of good tidings to all Judaea.

Verse 10 Edit

In Isa 40:10 the prophet goes back from the standpoint of the fulfilment to that of the prophecy. “Behold the Lord, Jehovah, as a mighty one will He come, His arm ruling for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His retribution before Him.” We must not render the first clause “with strong,” i.e., with strength, as the lxx and Targum do. The Beth is Beth essentiae (cf., Isa 26:4; Ges. §154, 3,a). He will come in the essence, strength, and energy of a strong one; and this is still further defined by the participial, circumstantial clause, “His arm ruling for Him” (brachio suo ipsi dominante). It is His arm that rules for Him, i.e., that either brings into subjection to Him, or else overthrows whatever opposes Him. Nevertheless, Isa 40:10 does not present Him merely in one aspect, namely as coming to judge and punish, but in both aspects, viz., that of the law and that of the gospel, as a righteous rewarder; hence the double name of God, Adonai Jehovah (compare Isa 3:15; Isa 28:16; Isa 30:15, all in the first part), which is used even in the Pentateuch, and most frequently by Amos and Ezekiel, and which forms, as it were, an anagram. פּעלּה is already met with in Lev 19:13 as a synonym of שׂכר, passing from the general idea of work to that of something earned and forfeited. Jehovah brings with Him the penal reward of the enemies of His people, and also the gracious reward of the faithful of His people, whom He will compensate for their previous sufferings with far exceeding joys (see Isa 62:11).

Verse 11 Edit

The prophet dwells upon this, the redeeming side not the judicial, as he proceeds to place the image of the good shepherd by the side of that of the Lord Jehovah. “He will feed His flock like a shepherd, take the lambs in His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are giving suck.” The flock is His people, now dispersed in a foreign

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land. The love with which He tends this flock is shown, by way of example, in His conduct towards the טלאים (= טליים from טלי = טלה), the young lambs that have not long been born, and the עלות, those giving suck, lactantes (Vulg. fetae), not those that are sucking, sugentes (from עוּל med. Vav, to nourish). Such as cannot keep pace with the flock he takes in his arms, and carries in the bosom of his dress; and the mothers he does not overdrive, but ינהל (see at Psa 23:2), lets them go gently alone, because they require care (Gen 33:13). With this loving picture the prologue in Isa 40:1-11 is brought to a close. It stands at the head of the whole, like a divine inauguration of the prophet, and like the quintessence of what he is commanded to proclaim. Nevertheless it is also an integral part of the first address. For the questions which follow cannot possibly be the commencement of the prophecy, though it is not very clear how far they form a continuation.
The connection is the following: The prophet shows both didactically and paraenetically what kind of God it is whose appearance to redeem His people has been prophetically announced in Isa 40:1-11. He is the incomparably exalted One. This incomparable exaltation makes the ignorance of the worshipers of idols the more apparent, but it serves to comfort Israel. And Israel needs such consolation in its present banishment, in which it is so hard for it to comprehend the ways of God.

Verse 12 Edit

In order to bring His people to the full consciousness of the exaltation of Jehovah, the prophet asks in Isa 40:12, “Who hath measured the waters with the hollow of his hand, and regulated the heavens with a span, and taken up the dust of the earth in a third measure, and weighed the mountains with a steelyard, and hills with balances?” Jehovah, and He alone, has given to all these their proper quantities, their determinate form, and their proportionate place in the universe. How very little can a man hold in the hollow of his hand (shō‛al)![44] how very small is the space which a man's span will cover! how little is contained in

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the third of an ephah (shâlı̄sh; see at Psa 80:6)! and how trifling in either bulk or measure is the quantity you can weight in scales, whether it be a peles, i.e., a steelyard (statera), or mō'zenayim, a tradesman's balance (bilances), consisting of two scales.[45]
But what Jehovah measures with the hollow of His hand, and with His span, is nothing less than the waters beneath and the heavens above. He carries a scoop, in which there is room for all the dust of which the earth consists, and a scale on which He has weighed the great colossal mountains.

Verses 13-14 Edit

A second question follows in Isa 40:13, Isa 40:14. “Who regulated the Spirit of Jehovah, and (who)instructed Him as His counsellor? With whom took He counsel, and who would have explained to Him and instructed Him concerning the path of right, and taught Him knowledge, and made known to Him a prudent course?” The first question called to mind the omnipotence of Jehovah; this recalls His omniscience, which has all fulness in itself, and therefore precludes all instruction from without. “The Spirit of Jehovah” is the Spirit which moved upon the waters at the creation, and by which chaos was reduced to order. “Who,” inquires this prophet - “who furnished this Spirit with the standard, according to which all this was to be done?” תּכּן as in Isa 40:12, to bring into conformity with rule, and so to fit for regulated working. Instead of mercha tifchah athnach, which suggests the Targum rendering, “quis direxit spiritum? Jehova” (vid., Pro 16:2), it would be more correct to adopt the accentuation tifchah munach athnach (cf., Exo 21:24; Exo 23:9), and there are certain codices in which we find this (see Dachselt). In Isa 40:13 we might follow the Septuagint translation, καὶ τίς αὐτοῦ σύμβουλος ἐγένετο ὃς σύμβιβᾶ (Rom 11:34; 1Co 2:16, συμβιβάσει) αὐτόν, but in this case we miss the verb היה. The rendering we have given above is not so harsh, and the accentuation is indifferent here, since silluk is never written without tifchahif only a single word precedes it. In Isa 40:14 the reciprocal נוע is connected with את = אם. The futt. cons. retain their literal meaning: with whom did He

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consult, so that he supplied Him with understanding in consequence (hēbhı̄n, generally to understand, here in a causative sense). The verbs of instruction are sometimes construed with בּ of the lesson taught, sometimes with a double accusative. In reply to the questions in Isa 40:13, Isa 40:14, which are essentially one, Israel must acknowledge that its God is the possessor of absolute might, and also of absolute wisdom.

Verse 15 Edit

From His exaltation as Creator, the prophet now proceeds to His exaltation as Governor of the world. “Behold, nations like a little drop on a bucket, and like a grain of sand in a balance, are they esteemed; behold, islands like an atom of dust that rises in the air.” Upon Jehovah, the King of the world, does the burden rest of ruling over the whole human race, which is split up into different nations; but the great masses of people over whom Jehovah rules are no more burden to Him than a drop hanging upon a bucket is a burden to the man who carries it (min is used in the same sense as in Sol 4:1; Sol 6:5), no more than the weight in a balance is perceptibly increased or diminished by a grain of sand that happens to lie upon it (shachaq, from shâchaq, to grind to powder). The islands, those fragments of firm ground in the midst of the ocean (אי = ivy, from אוה, to betake one's self to a place, and remain there), upon which the heathen world was dispersed (Gen 10), ), are to Him who carries the universe like the small particle of dust (דּק from דּקק, to crush or pulverize), which is lifted up, viz., by the slightest breath of wind (יטּול metaplastic fut. niph. of tūl = nâtal, cf., Isa 63:9). The rendering of Knobel, “dust which is thrown,” would require עפר (Isa 41:2); and neither that of Gesenius, viz., “He takes up islands like a particle of dust,” nor that of Hitzig, “He carries islands,” etc., is admissible, for טוּל = נטל signifies tollere, not portare; and the former, viz., insulas tollit, furnishes no answer to the question, “How so, and to what end?”

Verse 16 Edit

By the side of this vanishing diminutiveness on the part of man as contrasted with Jehovah, everything by which man could express his adoration of the exalted One comes incomparably short of His exaltation. “And Lebanon is not a sufficiency of burning, nor its game a sufficiency of burnt-offerings;” i.e., there is not enough wood to sustain the fire, nor a sufficient supply of sacrificial animals to be slaughtered, and to

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ascend in fire. דּי (constr. דּי) signifies that which suffices (and then that which is plentiful); it differs therefore from τὸ δέον, what is requisite.[46]

Verse 17 Edit

From the obverse of the thought in Isa 40:15 the prophet returns to the thought itself, and dwells upon it still further. “All the nations are as nothing before Him; they are regarded by Him as belonging to nullity and emptiness.” ‘Ephes is the end at which a thing ceases, and in an absolute sense that at which all being ceases, hence non-existence or nullity. Tōhū (from tâhâh, related to shâ'âh; vid., Comm. on Job, at Job 37:6), a horrible desolation, like the chaos of creation, where there is nothing definite, and therefore as good as nothing at all; min is hardly comparative in the sense of “more nothing than nothing itself” (Like Job 11:17, where “brighter” is to be supplied, or Mic 7:4, where “sharper” is similarly required), but is used in the same partitive sense as in Isa 41:24 (cf., Isa 44:11 and Psa 62:10).

Verse 18 Edit

The conclusion drawn from Isa 40:17, that Jehovah is therefore the matchless Being, shapes itself into a question, which is addressed not to idolaters, but to such of the Israelites as needed to be armed against the seductive power of idolatry, to which the majority of mankind had yielded. “And to whom can ye liken God, and what kind of image can ye place beside Him!” The ו before ואל is conclusive, as in Isa 28:26, and the futures are modi potent.: with what can ye bring into comparison (אל as in Isa 14:10) El, i.e., God, the one Being who is absolutely the Mighty? and what kind of demūth (i.e., divine, like Himself) can ye place by His side?

Verse 19 Edit

Least of all can an idol bear comparison with Him. “The idol, when the smith has cast it, the melter plates it with gold, and melteth silver chains for it.” The object (happesel, the idol), which is here placed first as the theme in the accusative (lit. the image hewn out), denotes in this instance an idol generally. חרשׁ is as comprehensive as faber. בּזּהב רקּע signifies here to cover over with a זהב רקּע (laminâ auri), the verb being used in a denominative sense, and not in its primary meaning.

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As we must assume, according to Isa 40:20, that the prophet intends to carry us into the midst of the process of manufacturing the idol, the paratactic expression is to be pointed as above, viz., “after the (a) smith has cast it (compare Arab. nasik, a piece of cast metal), the (a) melter (goldsmith) covers it with gold plate;” and tsōrēph, which is palindromically repeated, according to Isaiah's custom, is not the third pers. poel (on the poel of strong stems, see at Job 9:15 and Psa 109:10), but a participle, equivalent to הוּא צורף (as in Isa 29:8, which see; and also, according to the accents, Isa 33:5), “and he melteth chains of silver,” viz., to fasten the image.

Verse 20 Edit

This is the origin of a metal idol. The wooden idol is described in Isa 40:20 : “The man who is impoverished in oblations, he chooseth a block of wood that will not rot; he seeketh for himself a skilful smith, to prepare an idol that will not shake.” He who has fallen into such poverty that he can only offer to his God a poor oblation (terūmâh, accusative, according to Ewald, §284,c), has an idol cut for himself out of a block of wood. That sâkhan (Arab. sakana or sakuna)[47] is an ancient word, is evident from Deu 8:9. The verb yimmōt, like yittōl in Isa 40:15, is a fut. niphal, to be made to shake. A wooden image, which is planed at the bottom, and made heavier below than above, to prevent its falling over with every shock, is to be a god! The thing carries its own satire, even when described with the greatest seriousness.

Verse 21 Edit

Having thus depicted in a few strokes the infatuation of idolatry, the prophet addresses the following question to such of the Israelites as are looking at it with longing eye, even if they have not already been deluded by it. “Do ye not know? Do ye not hear? Is it not proclaimed to you from the beginning? Have ye not obtained an insight into the foundations of the earth?” We have here four questions chiastically

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arranged. The absolute being of God, which is above all created things, is something which may be either inferred per ratiocinationem, or learned per traditionem. When Israel failed to acknowledge the absolute distinctness and unequalled supremacy of Jehovah its God, it hardened itself against the knowledge which it might acquire even in a natural way (cf., Psa 19:1-14 and Rom 1:20), and shut its ears against the teaching of revelation and tradition, which had come down from the very beginning of its history. The first two questions are construed with futures, the other two with perfects; the former refer to what is possible, the latter to what is an actual fact. Have you - this is the meaning of the four questions - have you obtained no knowledge of the foundations of the earth, namely, as to the way in which they were laid?

Verse 22 Edit

The prophet now proceeds to describe the God whom both His works and word proclaim. The participles which follow are predicates of the subject, which filled the consciousness of the prophet as well as that of every believer. “He who is enthroned above the vault of the earth, and its inhabitants resemble grasshoppers; who has spread out the heavens like gauze, and stretched them out like a tent-roof to dwell in.” He, the manifested and yet unknown, is He who has for His throne the circle of the heavens (chūg shâmayim, Job 22:14), which arches over the earth, and to whom from His inaccessible height men appear as diminutive as grasshoppers (Num 13:33); He who has spread out the blue sky like a thin transparent garment (dōq, a thin fabric, like daq, fine dust, in Isa 40:15), and stretched it out above the earth like a tent for dwelling in (‘ōhel[48]lâshebheth). The participle brings to view the actions and circumstances of all times. In the present instance, where it is continued in the historical sense, it is to be resolved into the perfect; in other cases, the preservation of the world is evidently thought of as a creatio continua (see Psychol. P. 111).

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Verses 23-24 Edit

This is followed by a series of predicates of God the Ruler of the universe. “He who giveth up rulers to annihilation; maketh judges of the earth like a desolation. They are hardly planted, hardly sown, their stem has hardly taken root in the earth, and He only blows upon them, and they dry up, and the storm carries them away like stubble.” There is nothing so high and inaccessible in the world, that He cannot bring it to nothing, even in the midst of its most self-confident and threatening exaltation. Rōzenı̄m are solemn persons, σεμνοί, possessors of the greatest distinction and influence; shōphelı̄m, those who combine in themselves the highest judicial and administrative power. The former He gives up to annihilation; the latter He brings into a condition resembling the negative state of the tōhū out of which the world was produced, and to which it can be reduced again. We are reminded here of such descriptions as Job 12:17, Job 12:24. The suddenness of the catastrophe is depicted in Isa 40:24. אף בּל (which only occurs here), when followed by וגם in the apodosis (cf., 2Ki 20:4), signifies that even this has not yet taken place when the other also occurs: hence vixdum plantati sunt, etc. The niphal נטּע and the pual זרע denote the hopeful commencement; the poelשׁרשׁ the hopeful continuation. A layer or seed excites the hope of blossom and fruit, more especially when it has taken root; but nothing more is needed than a breath of Jehovah, and it is all over with it (the verb nâshaph is used in this verse, where plants with stems are referred to; a verb with a softer labial, nâshabh, was employed above in connection with grass and flowers). A single withering breath lays them at rest; and by the power of Jehovah there rises a stormy wind, which carries them away like light dry stubble (נשׂא); compare, on the other hand, the verb used in Isa 40:15, viz., tūl = nâtal, to lift up, to keep in the air).

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Verse 25 Edit

The thought of Isa 40:18 now recurs like a refrain, a conclusion being appended to the premises by means of ו, as was the case there. “And to whom will ye compare me, to whom I can be equal? saith the Holy One.” Not haqqâdōsh, because a poetical or oratorical style omits the article wherever it can be dispensed with. The Holy One asks this, and can ask it, because as such He is also exalted above the whole world (Job 15:15; Job 25:5).

Verse 26 Edit

After the questions in Isa 40:18 and Isa 40:25, which close syllogistically, a third start is made, to demonstrate the incomparable nature of Jehovah. “Lift up your eyes on high, and see: who hath created these things? It is He who bringeth out their host by number, calleth them all by names, because of the greatness of (His)might, and as being strong in power: there is not one that is missing.” Jehovah spoke in Isa 40:25; now the prophet speaks again. We have here the same interchange which occurs in every prophetic book from Deuteronomy downwards, and in which the divine fulness of the prophets is displayed. The answer does not begin with המּוציא, in the sense of “He who brings them out has created them;” but the participle is the predicate to the subject of which the prophet's soul is full: Jehovah, it is He who brings out the army of stars upon the plane of heaven, as a general leads out his army upon the field of battle, and that bemispâr, by number, counting the innumerable stars, those children of light in armour of light, which meet the eye as it looks up by night. The finite verb יקרא denotes that which takes place every night. He calls them all by name (comp. the derivative passage, Psa 147:4): this He does on account of the greatness and fulness of His might (‘ōnı̄m, vires, virtus), and as strong in power, i.e., because He is so. This explanation is simpler than Ewald's (§293,c), viz., “because of the power (τὸ κρατερὸν) of the Strong One.” The call addressed to the stars that are to rise is the call of the Almighty, and therefore not one of all the innumerable host remains behind. אישׁ individualizes; נעדּר (participle), as in Isa 34:16, suggests the idea of a sheep that is missed from the flock through staying behind. The second part of the address closes here, having demonstrated the folly of idolatry from the infinite superiority of God; and from this the third part deduces consolation for Israel in the midst of its despair.

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Verse 27 Edit

Such of the Israelites are required first of all to be brought to a consciousness of the folly of idolatry are not called Israel at all, because they place themselves on a part with the gōyı̄m. But now the prophet addresses those of little faith, who nevertheless desire salvation; those who are cast down, but not in utter despair. “Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hidden from Jehovah, and my right is overlooked by my God?” The name Jacob stands here at the head, as in Isa 29:22, as being the more exquisite name, and the one which more immediately recalled their patriarchal ancestor. They fancied that Jehovah had completely turned away from them in wrath and weariness. “My way” refers to their thorny way of life; “my right” (mishpâtı̄) to their good right, in opposition to their oppressors. Of all this He appeared to take no notice at all. He seemed to have no thought of vindicating it judicially (on the double min, away from him, see Ges. §154, 3,c).

Verse 28 Edit

The groundlessness of such despondency is set before them in a double question. “Is it not known to thee, or hast thou not heard, an eternal God is Jehovah, Creator of the ends of the earth: He fainteth not, neither becomes weary; His understanding is unsearchable.” Those who are so desponding ought to know, if not from their own experience, at least from information that had been handed down, that Jehovah, who created the earth from one end to the other, so that even Babylonian was not beyond the range of His vision or the domain of His power, was an eternal God, i.e., a God eternally the same and never varying, who still possessed and manifested the power which He had displayed in the creation. Israel had already passed through a long history, and Jehovah had presided over this, and ruled within it; and He had not so lost His power in consequence, as to have now left His people to themselves. He does not grow faint, as a man would do, who neglected to take the repeated nourishment requisite to sustain the energy of his vital power; nor does He become weary, like a man who has exhausted his capacity for work by over-exertion. And if He had not redeemed His people till then, His people were to know that His course was pure tebhūnâh or understanding, which was in the possession of infallible criteria for determining the right point of time at which to interpose with His aid.

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Verse 29 Edit

Jehovah is so far from becoming faint, that it is He who gives strength to the fainting. “Giving power to the faint, and to the incapable He giveth strength in abundance.” אונים לאין is equivalent to אונים איןלאשׁר אין is used exactly like a privative to form a negative adjective (e.g., Psa 88:5; Pro 25:3).

Verses 30-31 Edit

Faith is all that is needed to ensure a participation in the strength (עצמה after the form חכמה), which He so richly bestows and so powerfully enhances. “And youths grow faint and weary, and young men suffer a fall. But they who wait for Jehovah gain fresh strength; lift up their wings like eagles; run, and are not weary; go forward, and do not faint.” Even youths, even young men in the early bloom of their morning of life (bachūrı̄m, youths, from בּחר, related to בּכר, בּגר), succumb to the effects of the loss of sustenance or over-exertion (both futures are defective, the first letter being dropped), and any outward obstacle is sufficient to cause them to fall (נכשׁל with inf. abs. kal, which retains what has been stated for contemplation, according to Ges. §131, 3, Anm. 2). In Isa 40:30 the verb stands first, Isa 40:30 being like a concessive clause in relation to Isa 40:31. “Even though this may happen, it is different with those who wait for Jehovah,” i.e., those who believe in Him; for the Old Testament applies to faith a number of synonyms denoting trust, hope, and longing, and thus describes it according to its inmost nature, as fiducia and as hope, directed to the manifestation and completion of that which is hoped for. The Vav cop. introduces the antithesis, as in Isa 40:8. החליף, to cause one to pursue, or new to take the place of the old (Lat. recentare). The expression וגו יעלוּ is supposed by early translators, after the Sept., Targ. Jer., and Saad., to refer to the moulting of the eagle and the growth of the new feathers, which we meet with in Psa 103:5 (cf., Mic 1:16) as a figurative representation of the renewal of youth through grace. But Hitzig correctly observes that העלה is never met with as the causative of the kal used in Isa 5:6, and moreover that it would require נוצה instead of אבר. The proper rendering therefore is, “they cause their wings to rise, or lift their wings high, like the eagles” (‘ēbher as in Psa 55:7). Their course of life, which has Jehovah for its object, is as it were possessed of wings. They draw from Him strength upon strength (see Psa 84:8); running does

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not tire them, nor do they become faint from going ever further and further.
The first address, consisting of three parts (Isa 40:1-11, Isa 40:12-26, Isa 40:27-31), is here brought to a close. Second Prophecy - Isaiah 41
The God of the World's History and of Prophecy
Jehovah comes forward here, and speaking in the tone in which He already began to speak in Isa 40:25, invites the idolatrous nations to contend with Him, declares the raising up of the conqueror from the east to be His work, and adduces this as the sign that He has been the Author and Guider of the world's history from the beginning. But what if the question should be asked on the part of the nations, With what right does He do this? The acts of the conqueror prove themselves to be a work of the God who is exalted above the idols, from the fact that they bring destruction to the idolatrous nations, and to the people of Jehovah the long-desired redemption. It is in this that the conclusiveness of the illustration lies. The argument, however, presupposes that Cyrus has already entered upon his victorious course. It is evident at the outset that future events, or events still unfulfilled, would have no force as present proofs. And the words also clearly imply, that the work which Jehovah attributes to Himself, in opposition to the gods of the nations, is already in progress.

Chap. 41 Edit

Verse 1 Edit

Summons to the contest: “Be silent to me, ye islands; and let the nations procure fresh strength: let them come near, then speak; we will enter into contest together.” The words are addressed to the whole of the heathen world, and first of all to the inhabitants of the western islands and coasts. This was the expression commonly employed in the Old Testament to designate the continent of Europe, the solid ground of which is so deeply cut, and so broken up, by seas and lakes, that it looks as if it were about to resolve itself into nothing but islands and peninsulas. על החרישׁ is a pregnant expression for turning in silence towards a person; just as in Job 13:13 it is used with min, in the sense of forsaking a person in silence. That they may have no excuse if they are defeated, they are

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to put on fresh strength; just as in Isa 40:31 believers are spoken of as drawing fresh strength out of Jehovah's fulness. They are to draw near, then speak, i.e., to reply after hearing the evidence, for Jehovah desires to go through all the forms of a legal process with them in pro et contra. The mishpât is thought of here in a local sense, as a forum or tribunal. But if Jehovah is one party to the cause, who is the judge to pronounce the decision? The answer to this question is the same as at Isa 5:3. “The nations,” says Rosenmüller, “are called to judgment, not to the tribunal of God, but to that of reason.” The deciding authority is reason, which cannot fail to recognise the facts, and the consequences to be deduced from them.

Verse 2 Edit

The parties invited are now to be thought of as present, and Jehovah commences in Isa 41:2 : “Who hath raised up the man from the rising of the sun, whom justice meets at his foot, He giveth up nations before him, and kings He subdues, giveth men like the dust to his sword, and like driven stubble to his bow?” The sentence governed by “who” (mı̄) ends at leraglō (at his foot); at the same time, all that follows is spoken with the echo of the interrogative accent. The person raised up is Cyrus, who is afterwards mentioned by name. The coming one (if, that is to say, we adhere to the belief in Isaiah's authorship of these addresses) first approaches gradually within the horizon of the prophet's ideal present; and it is only little by little that the prophet becomes more intimately acquainted with a phenomenon which belongs to so distant a future, and has been brought so close to his own eyes. Jehovah has raised up the new great hero “from the east” (mimmizrâch), and, according to Isa 41:25, “from the north” also. Both of these were fulfilled; for Cyrus was a Persian belonging to the clan of Achaemenes (Hakhâmanis), which stood at the head of the tribe, or of the Pasargadae. He was the son of Cambyses; and even if the Median princess Mandane were not his mother, yet, according to nearly all the ancient accounts, he was connected with the royal house of Media; at any rate, after Astyages was dethroned, he became head and chief of the Medes as well as of the Persians (hence the name of “Mule” which was give to him by the oracle, and that given by Jerome, “agitator bigae”). Now Media was to the north of Babylonia, and Persia

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to the east; so that his victorious march, in which, even before the conquest of Babylon, he subjugated all the lands from the heights of Hinduku to the shores of the Aegean Sea, had for its starting-point both the east and north.[49]
The clause לרגלו יקראהוּ צדק is an attributive clause, and as such a virtual object: “him whom (supply עת־אשׁר) justice comes to meet (קרא) = קרה, Ges. §75, vi.) on his track” (cf., Gen 30:30; Job 18:11; Hab 3:5). The idea of tsedeq is determined by what follows: Jehovah gives up nations before him, and causes kings to be trodden down (causative of râdâh). Accordingly, tsedeq is either to be understood here in an attributive sense, as denoting the justice exercised by a person (viz., the justice executed successfully by Cyrus, as the instrument of Jehovah, by the force of arms); or objectively of the justice awarded to a person (to which the idea of “meeting” is more appropriate), viz., the favourable result, the victory which procures justice for the just cause of the combatant. Rosenmüller, Knobel, and others, are wrong in maintaining that tsedeq (tsedâqâh) in chapters 40-66 signifies primarily justice, and the prosperity and salvation as its reward. The word means straightness, justice, righteousness, and nothing more (from tsâdaq, to be hard, firm, extended, straight, e.g., rumh-un-tsadq, a hard, firm, and straight lance); but it has a double aspect, because justice consists, according to circumstances, of either wrath of favour, and therefore has sometimes the idea of the strict execution of justice, as in this instance, sometimes of a manifestation of justice in fidelity to promises, as in Isa 41:10. יתּן is repeated here in Isa 41:2 (just like וילמדהו in Isa 40:14) with the same subject, but in a different sense. To make sword and bow the subject, in the sense of “his sword gives (sc., 'the foe'),” is a doubtful thing in itself; and as cherebh and qesheth are feminines, it is by no means advisable. Moreover, in other instances, the comparative כ leaves it to the reader to carry out the figure indicated according to his own fancy. And this is the case here: He (Jehovah) makes his sword as if there were dust, his bow as if there were hunted stubble (Böttcher), i.e., pounding the enemy like dust, and hunting it like flying stubble. Our text has כּעפר, but in certain codices we find כּעפר with tzere; and this reading, which is

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contrary to rule, has in its favour the express testimony of Moses the punctuator.[50]

Verse 3 Edit

The conqueror is now still further described in futures, which might be defined by העיר, and so express a simultaneous past (synchronistic imperfects), but which it is safer to take as standing traits in the picture drawn of the conqueror referred to. “He pursueth them and marcheth in peace by a course which he never trod with his feet.” He marches victoriously further and further, shâlōm,” i.e., “in safety” (or, as an adjective, safely; Job 21:9), without any one being able to do him harm, by a course (accus. Ges. §138, 1) which he has not been accustomed to tread with his feet (ingredi).

Verse 4 Edit

The great fact of the present time, which not one of the gods of the heathen can boast of having brought to pass, is now explained. Jehovah is its author. “Who hath wrought and executed it? He who calleth the generations of men from the beginning, I Jehovah am first, and with the last am I He.” The synonyms פּעל and עשׂה are distinguished from each other in the same way as “to work” (or bring about) and “to realize” (or carry out). Hence the meaning is, Who is the author to whom both the origin and progress of such an occurrence are to be referred? It is He who “from the beginning,” i.e., ever since there has been a human history, has called into existence the generations of men through His authoritative command. And this is no other than Jehovah, who can declare of Himself, in contrast with the heathen and their gods, who are of yesterday, and tomorrow will not be: I am Jehovah, the very first, whose being precedes all history; and with the men of the latest generations yet to come “I am it.” הוּא is not introduced here to strengthen the subject, ego ille “I and no other,” as in Isa 37:16, which see); but, as in Isa 43:10, Isa 43:13; Isa 56:4; Isa 48:12, it is a predicate of the substantive clause, ego sum is (ille), viz., ‘Elōhı̄m; or even as in Psa 102:28 (cf., Job 3:19 and Heb 13:8), ego sum idem (Hitzig). They are both included, without any distinction in the assertion. He is this, viz., God throughout all ages, and is through all ages He, i.e., the Being who is ever the same in this His deity. It is the full meaning of the name Jehovah which is unfolded here; for God is called

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Jehovah as the absolute I, the absolutely free Being, pervading all history, and yet above all history, as He who is Lord of His own absolute being, in revealing which He is purely self-determined; in a word, as the unconditionally free and unchangeably eternal personality.

Verses 5-7 Edit

In the following v. we have not a description of the impression made upon the heathen by the argument of Jehovah, but the argument itself is continued. Isa 41:5 “Islands have seen it, and shuddered; the ends of the earth trembled; they have approached, and drawn near.” We have here a description of the effects which the victorious course of Cyrus had begun to produce in the heathen world. The perfects denote the past, and the futures a simultaneous past; so that we have not to compare Isa 41:5 with Hab 3:10 so much as with Psa 77:17. The play upon the words וייראּוּ ... ראּוּ pairs together both seeing and fearing. The Cumaeans, when consulting the oracle, commenced thus: ἡμεῖς δὲ δειμαίνοντες τὴν Περσέων δύναμιν. The perfect with the aorist following in Isa 41:5 places the following picture upon the stage: They have approached and drawn near (from all directions) to meet the threatening danger; and how? Isa 41:6, Isa 41:7 “One helped his companion, and he said to his brother, Only firm! The caster put firmness into the melter, the hammer-smoother into the anvil-smiter, saying of the soldering, It is good; and made him firm with nails, that he should not shake.” Him, viz., the idol. Everything is in confusion, from the terror that prevails; and the gods from which they expect deliverance are not made till now, the workmen stimulating one another to work. The chârâsh, who casts the image, encourages the tsōrēph, whose task it is to provide it with the plating of gold and silver chains (Isa 40:19), to work more bravely; and the man who smooths with the hammer (pattish, instrumentalis) does the same to the man who smites the anvil (הולם with seghol, whereas in other cases, e.g., Eze 22:25, the tone generally gives way without any change in the vowel-pointing). The latter finds the soldering all right, by which the gold plates of the covering are fastened together, so as to give to the golden idol a massive appearance. He is the last into whose hands it comes; and nothing more is wanting, than that he should forge upon the anvil the nails with which it is fastened, to prevent it from falling. To such foolish, fruitless

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proceedings have the nations resorted when threatened with subjugation by Cyrus.

Verses 8-10 Edit

The proof adduced by Jehovah of His own deity closes here. But instead of our hearing whether the nations, with which He has entered upon the contest, have any reply to make, the address turns to Israel, upon which deliverance dawns from that very quarter, from which the others are threatened with destruction. “And thou, Israel my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, seed of Abraham my friend, thou whom I have laid hold of from the ends of the earth, and called from the corners thereof, and said to thee, Thou art my servant, I have chosen and not despised thee; fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not afraid, for I am thy God: I have chosen thee, I also help thee, I also hold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” The ו before ואתּה connects together antitheses, which show themselves at once to be antitheses. Whereas the nations, which put their trust in idols that they themselves had made, were thrown into alarm, and yielded before the world-wide commotions that had originated with the eastern conqueror, Israel, the nation of Jehovah, might take comfort to itself. Every word here breathes the deepest affection. The address moves on in soft undulating lines. The repetition of the suffix ך, with which אשׁר forms a relative of the second person, for which we have no equivalent in our language (Ges. §123, Anm. 1), gives to the address a pressing, clinging, and, as it were, loving key-note. The reason, which precedes the comforting assurance in Isa 41:10, recals the intimate relation in which Jehovah had placed Himself towards Israel, and Israel towards Himself. The leading thought, “servant of Jehovah,” which is characteristic of chapters 40-46, and lies at the root of the whole spirit of these addresses, more especially of their Christology, we first meet with here, and that in a popular sense. It has both an objective and a subjective side. On the one hand, Israel is the servant of Jehovah by virtue of a divine act; and this act, viz., its election and call, was an act of pure grace, and was not to be traced, as the expression “I have chosen and not despised thee' indicates, to any superior excellence or merit on the part of Israel. On the contrary, Israel was so obscure that Jehovah might have despised it; nevertheless He had anticipated it in free unmerited love with this stamp of the character indelibilis of a

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servant of Jehovah. On the other hand, Israel was the servant of Jehovah, inasmuch as it acted out what Jehovah had made it, partly in reverential worship of this God, and partly in active obedience. את־ה עבד, i.e., “serving Jehovah,” includes both liturgical service (also עבד absolutely, Isa 19:23) and the service of works. The divine act of choosing and calling is dated from Abraham. From a Palestinian point of view, Ur of Chaldaea, within the old kingdom of Nimrod, and Haran in northern Mesopotamia, seemed like the ends and corners of the earth (‘ătsı̄lı̄m, remote places, from ‘âtsal, to put aside or apart). Israel and the land of Israel were so inseparably connected, that whenever the origin of Israel was spoken of, the point of view could only be taken in Palestine. To the far distant land of the Tigris and Euphrates had Jehovah gone to fetch Abraham, “the friend of God” (Jam 2:23), who is called in the East even to the present day, chalil ollah, the friend of God. This calling of Abraham was the furthest terminus a quo of the existence of Israel as the covenant nation; for the leading of Abraham was providentially appointed with reference to the rise of Israel as a nation. The latter was pre-existent in him by virtue of the counsel of God. And when Jehovah adopted Abraham as His servant, and called him “my servant” (Gen 26:24), Israel, the nation that was coming into existence in Abraham, received both the essence and name of a “servant of Jehovah.” Inasmuch then as, on looking back to its past history, it would not fail to perceive that it was so thoroughly a creation of divine power and grace, it ought not to be fearful, and look about with timidity and anxiety; for He who had presented Himself at the very beginning as its God, was still always near. The question arises, in connection with the word אמּצתּי, whether it means to strengthen (Isa 35:3; Psa 89:22), or to lay firm hold of, to attach firmly to one's self, to choose. We decide in favour of the latter meaning, which is established by Isa 44:14, cf., Psa 80:16, Psa 80:18. The other perfects affirm what Jehovah has ever done, and still continues to do. In the expression “by the right hand of my righteousness,” the justice or righteousness is regarded pre-eminently on its brighter side, the side turned towards Israel; but it is also regarded on its fiery side, or the side turned towards the enemies of Israel. It is the righteousness which aids the oppressed congregation

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against its oppressors. The repeated אף heaps one synonym upon another, expressive of the divine love; for ו simply connects, גּם appends, אף heaps up (cumulat). Language is too contracted to hold all the fulness of the divine love; and for this reason the latter could not find words enough to express all that it desired.

Verses 11-13 Edit

With the exclamation hēn (behold) the eyes of Israel are now directed to the saving interposition of Jehovah in the immediate future. “Behold, all they that were incensed against thee must be ashamed and confounded; the men of thy conflict become as nothing, and perish. Thou wilt seek them, and not find them, the men of thy feuds; the men of thy warfare become as nothing, and nonentity. For I, Jehovah thy God, lay hold of thy right hand, He who saith to thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” The comprehensive expression omnes inflammati in te (niphal, as in Isa 45:24) stands at the head; and then, in order that every kind may be included, the enemies are called by a different name every time. The three substantives bear much the same relation to one another as lis, rixa, bellum (milchâmâh, lit., throng = war-tumult, like the epic κλόνος), hence adversarii, inimici, hostes. The suffixes have the force of objective genitives. We have founded our translation upon the reading מצּוּתיך. The three names of the enemies are placed emphatically at the close of the sentences, and these are long drawn out, whilst the indignation gives vent to itself; whereas in Isa 41:13 there follows nothing but short sentences, in which the persecuted church is encouraged and affectionately embraced. Two clauses, which are made to rhyme with ēm, announce the utter destruction of their foes; then the inflective rhyme ekha is repeated five times; and the sixth time it passes over into ı̄kha.

Verses 14-16 Edit

The consolatory words, “Fear not,” are now repeated, for the purpose of once more adding the promise that Israel will not succumb to its foes, but will acquire power over its enemies. “Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and handful Israel: I will help thee, saith Jehovah; and thy Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. Behold, I have made thee a threshing roller, a sharp new one, with double edges: thou wilt thresh mountains, and pound them; and hills thou wilt make like chaff. Thou wilt winnow them, and wind carries them away, and tempest scatters

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them: and thou wilt rejoice in Jehovah, and glory in the Holy One of Israel.” Israel, which is now helplessly oppressed, is called “worm of Jacob” (gen. appos.) in compassion, i.e., Jacob that is like a worm, probably with some allusion to Psa 22:7; for the image of the Messiah enriches itself in these discourses, inasmuch as Israel itself is looked upon in a Messianic light, so that the second David does not stand by the side of Israel, but appears as Israel's heart, or true and inmost essence. The people are then addressed as the “people of Israel,” with some allusion to the phrase מספּר מתי (i.e., few men, easily numbered) in Gen 34:30; Deu 4:27 (lxx ὀλιγοστὸσ ̓Ισραήλ; Luther, Ir armer hauffe Israel, ye poor crowd of Israel). They no longer formed the compact mass of a nation; the band of the commonwealth was broken: they were melted down into a few individuals, scattered about hither and thither. But it would not continue so. “I help thee” (perfect of certainty) is Jehovah's solemn declaration; and the Redeemer (redemtor, Lev 25:48-49) of His now enslaved people is the Holy One of Israel, with His love, which perpetually triumphs over wrath. Not only will He set it free, but He will also endow it with might over its oppressors; samtı̄kh is a perfect of assurance (Ges. §126, 4); mōrag (roller) signifies a threshing-sledge (Arab. naureg, nōreg), which has here the term חרוּץ (Isa 28:27) as a secondary name along with חדשׁ, and is described as furnished on the under part of the two arms of the sledge not only with sharp knives, but with two-edged knives (פּיפיּות a reduplication, like מאסּאה in Isa 27:8, whereas מימי is a double plural). Just like such a threshing machine would Israel thresh and grind to powder from that time forth both mountains and hills. This is evidently a figurative expression for proud and mighty foes, just as wind and tempest denote the irresistible force of Jehovah's aid. The might of the enemy would be broken down to the very last remnant, whereas Israel would be able to rejoice and glory in its God.

Verses 17-20 Edit

At the present time, indeed, the state of His people was a helpless one, but its cry for help was not in vain. “The poor and needy, who seek for water and there is none, their tongue faints for thirst. I Jehovah will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I open streams upon hills of the

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field, and springs in the midst of the valleys; I make the desert into a pond, and dry land into fountains of water. I give in the desert cedars, acacias, and myrtles, and oleasters; I set in the steppe cypresses, plane-trees, and sherbin-trees together, that they may see, and know, and lay to heart and understand all together, that the hand of Jehovah hath accomplished this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.” Kimchi, Hitzig, and others refer these promises to the returning exiles; but there is also a description, without any restriction to the return home, of the miraculous change which would take place in the now comfortless and helpless condition of the exiles. The shephâyı̄m, i.e., bare, woodless hills rising up from the plain, Jer 12:12, the beqâ‛ōth, or deep valleys, by the sides of which there rise precipitous mountains, and the ‘erets tsiyyâh, the land of burning heat or drought (cf., Psa 63:2), depict the homeless condition of Israel, as it wandered over bald heights and through waterless plains about a land with parched and gaping soil. For the characteristics of the object, which is placed before אענם, we may therefore compare such passages as Isa 44:3; Isa 55:1. נשׁתּה is either a pausal form for נשׁתּה, and therefore the niphal of שׁתת (to set, become shallow, dry up), or a pausal form for נשׁתה, and therefore the kal of נשׁת with dagesh affectuosum, like נתנּוּ in Eze 27:19 (Olshausen, §83,b). The form נשׁתה in Jer 51:30 may just as well be derived from שׁתת (Ges. §67, Anm. 11) as from נשׁת, whereas נשּׁתוּ may certainly be taken as the niphal of שׁתת after the form נמּל, נחר (Ges. §67, Anm. 5), though it would be safer to refer it to a kal נשׁת, which seems to be also favoured by ינּתשׁוּ in Jer 18:14 as a transposition of ינּשׁתוּ. The root נש, of which נשׁת would be a further expansion, really exhibits the meaning to dry up or thirst, in the Arabic nassa; whereas the verbs נוּשׁ, אנשׁ, נסס (Isa 10:18), נשׁה, Syr. nas’, nos’, Arab. nâsa, nasnasa, with the primary meaning to slacken, lose their hold, and נשׁא, נשׁה, נסע, to deceive, derange, and advance, form separate families. Just when they are thus on the point of pining away, they receive an answer to their prayer: their God opens streams, i.e., causes streams to break forth on the hills of the field, and springs in the midst of the valleys. The desert is transformed into a lake, and the steppe of burning sand into fountains of water. What was predicted in Isa 35:6-7 is echoed again here - a figurative

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representation of the manifold fulness of refreshing, consolation, and marvellous help which was to burst all at once upon those who were apparently forsaken of God. What is depicted in Isa 41:19, Isa 41:20, is the effect of these. It is not merely a scanty vegetation that springs up, but a corresponding manifold fulness of stately, fragrant, and shady trees; so that the steppe, where neither foot nor eye could find a resting-place, is changed, as by a stroke of magic, into a large, dense, well-watered forest, and shines with sevenfold glory - an image of the many-sided manifestations of divine grace which are experienced by those who are comforted now. Isaiah is especially fond of such figures as these (vid., Isa 5:7; Isa 6:13; Isa 27:6; Isa 37:31). There are seven (4 + 3) trees named; seven indicating the divine character of this manifold development (Psychol. p. 188). ‘Erez is the generic name for the cedar; shittâh, the acacia, the Egyptian spina (ἄκανθα), Copt. shont; hadas, the myrtle, ‛ēts shemen, the wild olive, as distinguished from zayith (ἡ ἀγριέλαιος, opposed to ἡ ἐλαία in Rom 11:17); berōsh, the cypress, at any rate more especially this; tidhâr we have rendered the “plane-tree,” after Saad.; and te'asshūr the “sherbin” (a kind of cedar), after Saad. and Syr. The crowded synonyms indicating sensual and spiritual perception in Isa 41:20 (ישׂימוּ, sc. לבּם, Isa 41:22) are meant to express as strongly as possible the irresistible character of the impression. They will be quite unable to regard all this as accidental or self-produced, or as anything but the production of the power and grace of their God.

Verses 21-23 Edit

There follows now the second stage in the suit. “Bring hither your cause, saith Jehovah; bring forward your proofs, saith the king of Jacob. Let them bring forward, and make known to us what will happen: make known the beginning, what it is, and we will fix our heart upon it, and take knowledge of its issue; or let us hear what is to come. Make known what is coming later, and we will acknowledge that ye are gods: yea, do good, and do evil, and we will measure ourselves, and see together.” In the first stage Jehovah appealed, in support of His deity, to the fact that it was He who had called the oppressor of the nations upon the arena of history. In this second stage He appeals to the fact that He only knows or can predict the future. There the challenge was addressed to the worshippers

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of idols, here to the idols themselves; but in both cases both of these are ranged on the one side, and Jehovah with His people upon the other. It is with purpose that Jehovah is called the “King of Jacob,”as being the tutelar God of Israel, in contrast to the tutelar deities of the heathen. The challenge to the latter to establish their deity is first of all addressed to them directly in Isa 41:21, and then indirectly in Isa 41:22, where Jehovah connects Himself with His people as the opposing party; but in Isa 41:22 He returns again to a direct address. עצּמות are evidences (lit. robara, cf., ὀχυρώματα, 2Co 10:4, from עצם, to be strong or stringent; mishn. נתעצּם, to contend with one another pro et contra); here it signifies proofs that they can foresee the future. Jehovah for His part has displayed this knowledge, inasmuch as, at the very time when He threatened destruction to the heathen at the hands of Cyrus, He consoled His people with the announcement of their deliverance (Isa 41:8-20). It is therefore the turn of the idol deities now: “Let them bring forward and announce to us the things that will come to pass.” the general idea of what is in the future stands at the head. Then within this the choice is given them of proving their foreknowledge of what is afterwards to happen, by announcing either ראשׁנות, or even בּאות. These two ideas, therefore, are generic terms within the range of the things that are to happen. Consequently הרשׁנות cannot mean “earlier predictions,” prius praedicta, as Hitzig, Knobel, and others suppose. This explanation is precluded in the present instance by the logic of the context. Both ideas lie upon the one line of the future; the one being more immediate, the other more remote, or as the expression alternating with הבאות implies לאחור האתיּות, ventura in posterum (“in later times,” compare Isa 42:23, “at a later period;” from the participle אתה, radical form אתי, vid., Ges. §75, Anm. 5, probably to distinguish it from אתות). This is the explanation adopted by Stier and Hahn, the latter of whom has correctly expounded the word, as denoting “the events about to happen first in the immediate future, which it is not so difficult to prognosticate from signs that are discernible in the present.” The choice is given them, either to foretell “things at the beginning” (haggı̄dū in our editions is erroneously pointed with kadma instead of geresh), i.e., that which will take place first or

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next, “what they be” (quae et qualia sint), so that now, when the achărı̄th, “the latter end” (i.e., the issue of that which is held out to view), as prognosticated from the standpoint of the present, really occurs, the prophetic utterance concerning it may be verified; or “things to come,” i.e., things further off, in later times (in the remote future), the prediction of which is incomparably more difficult, because without any point of contact in the present. They are to choose which they like (או from אוה, like vel from velle): “ye do good, and do evil,” i.e., (according to the proverbial use of the phrase; cf., Zep 1:12 and Jer 10:5) only express yourselves in some way; come forward, and do either the one or the other. The meaning is, not that they are to stir themselves and predict either good or evil, but they are to show some sign of life, no matter what. “And we will measure ourselves (i.e., look one another in the face, testing and measuring), and see together,” viz., what the result of the contest will be. השׁתּעה like התראה in 2Ki 14:8, 2Ki 14:11, with a cohortative âh, which is rarely met with in connection with verbs ל ה, and the tone upon the penultimate, the âh being attached without tone to the voluntative נשׁתּע in 2Ki 14:5 (Ewald, §§228,c). For the chethib ונראה, the Keri has the voluntative ונרא.

Verse 24 Edit

Jehovah has thus placed Himself in opposition to the heathen and their gods, as the God of history and prophecy. It now remains to be seen whether the idols will speak, to prove their deity. By no means; not only are they silent, but they cannot speak. Therefore Jehovah breaks out into words of wrath and contempt. “Behold, ye are of nothing, and your doing of nought: an abomination whoever chooseth you.” The two מן are partitive, as in Isa 40:17; and מאפע is not an error of the pen for מאפס, as Gesenius and others suppose, but אפע from עפע = פּה (from which comes פּה), פּעה, Isa 42:14 (from which comes אפעה, Isa 59:5), to breathe, stands as a synonym to און, הבל, רוח. The attributive clause בּכם יבחר (supply אשׁר חוּא) is a virtual subject (Ewald, §333,b): ye and your doings are equally nil; and whoever chooses you for protectors, and makes you the objects of his worship, is morally the most degraded of beings.

Verse 25 Edit

The more conclusively and incontrovertibly, therefore, does Jehovah keep the field as the moulder of history and foreteller of the future, and therefore as God above all gods.

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“I have raised up from the north, and he came: from the rising of the sun one who invokes my name; and he treads upon satraps as mud, and like a potter kneadeth clay.” The object of the verb hâ‛ı̄rōthı̄ (I have wakened up) is he who came when wakened up by Jehovah from the north and east, i.e., from Media and Persia (ויּאת = ויּאתּ for ויּאת, with evasion of the auxiliary pathach, Ges. §76, 2,c), and, as the second clause affirms, who invokes or will invoke the name of Jehovah (at any rate, qui invocabit is the real meaning of qui invocat). For although the Zarathustrian religion, which Cyrus followed, was nearest to the Jehovah religion of all the systems of heathenism, it was a heathen religion after all. The doctrine of a great God (baga vazarka), the Creator of heaven and earth, and at the same time of a great number of Bagas and Yazatas, behind whose working and worship the great God was thrown into the shade, is (apart from the dualism condemned in Isa 45:7) the substance of the sacred writings of the Magi in our possession, as confirmed by the inscriptions of the Achemenides.[51]
But the awakened of Jehovah would, as is here predicted, “call with the name, or by means of the name, of Jehovah,” which may mean either call upon this name (Zep 3:9; Jer 10:25), or call out the name (compare Exo 33:19; Exo 34:5, with Exo 35:30) in the manner in which he does make use of it in the edict setting the exiles free (Ezr 1:2). The verb יבא which follows (cf., Isa 41:2) designated him still further as a conqueror of nations; the verb construed with an accusative is used here, as is very frequently the case, in the sense of hostile attack. The word Sâgân, which is met with first in Ezekiel - apart, that is to say, from the passage before us - may have owed its meaning in the Hebrew vocabulary to its similarity in sound to sōkhēn (Isa 22:15); at any rate, it is no doubt a Persian word, which became naturalized in the Hebrew (ζωγάνης in Athenaeus, and Neo-Pers. sichne, a governor: see Ges. Thes.), though this comparison is by no means so certain[52] as that σατράπης is the same as the Ksatrapâv of the inscriptions, i.e., protector of the kingdom.[53]
Without at all overlooking the fact that this word segânı̄m, so far as it can really be supposed to be a Persian word, favours the later composition of this portion of the book of Isaiah, we cannot admit that it has any decisive weight, inasmuch as the Persian word pardēs occurs even in the Song of Solomon. And the indications which might be found in the word segânı̄m unfavourable to Isaiah's authorship are abundantly counterbalanced by what immediately follows.

Verses 26-28 Edit

As Isa 41:25 points back to the first charge against the heathen and their gods (Isa 41:2-7), so Isa 41:26-28 point back to the second. Not only did Jehovah manifest Himself as the Universal Ruler in the waking up of Cyrus, but as the Omniscient Ruler also. “Who hath made it known from the beginning, we will acknowledge it, and from former time, we will say He is in the right?! Yea, there was none that made known; yea, none that caused to hear; yea, none that heard your words. As the first I saith to Zion, Behold, behold, there it is: and I bestow evangelists upon Jerusalem. And I looked, and there was no man; and of these there was no one answering whom I would ask, and who would give me an answer.” If any one of the heathen deities had foretold this appearance of Cyrus so long before as at the very commencement of that course of history

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which had thus reached its goal, Jehovah with His people, being thus taught by experience, would admit and acknowledge their divinity. מראשׁ is used in the same sense as in Isa 48:16 : and also in Isa 41:4 and Isa 40:21, where it refers according to the context in each case, to the beginning of the particular line of history. צדּיק signifies either “he is right,” i.e., in the right (compare the Arabic siddik, genuine), or in a neuter sense, “it is right” (= true), i.e., the claim to divine honours is really founded upon divine performances. But there was not one who had proclaimed it, or who gave a single sound of himself; no one had heard anything of the kind from them. אין receives a retrospective character from the connection; and bearing this in mind, the participles may be also resolved into imperfects. The repeated אף, passing beyond what is set down as possible, declares the reality of the very opposite. What Jehovah thus proves the idols to want, He can lay claim to for Himself. In Isa 41:27 we need not assume that there is any hyperbaton, as Louis de Dieu, Rosenmüller, and others have done: “I first will give to Zion and Jerusalem one bringing glad tidings: behold, behold them.” After what has gone before in Isa 41:26 we may easily supply אמרתּי, “I said,” in Isa 41:27 (compare Isa 8:19; Isa 14:16; Isa 27:2), not אמר, for the whole comparison drawn by Jehovah between Himself and the idols is retrospective, and looks back from the fulfilment in progress to the prophecies relating to it. The only reply that we can look for to the question in Isa 41:26 is not, “I on the contrary do it,” but “I did it.” At the same time, the rendering is a correct one: “Behold, behold them” (illa; for the neuter use of the masculine, compare Isa 48:3; Isa 38:16; Isa 45:8). “As the first,” Jehovah replies (i.e., without any one anticipating me), “Have I spoken to Zion: behold, behold, there it is,” pointing with the finger of prophecy to the coming salvation, which is here regarded as present; “and I gave to Jerusalem messengers of joy;” i.e., long ago, before what is now approaching could be known by any one, I foretold to my church, through the medium of prophets, the glad tidings of the deliverance from Babylon. If the author of chapters 40-66 were a prophet of the captivity, his reference here would be to such prophecies as Isa 11:11 (where Shinar is mentioned as a land of dispersion), and more especially still Mic 4:10,

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“There in Babylon wilt thou be delivered, there will Jehovah redeem thee out of the hand of thine enemies;” but if Isaiah were the author, he is looking back from the ideal standpoint of the time of the captivity, and of Cyrus more especially, to his own prophecies before the captivity (such as Isaiah 13:1-14:23, and Isa 21:1-10), just as Ezekiel, when prophesying of Gog and Magog, looks back in Isa 38:17 fro the ideal standpoint of this remote future, more especially to his own prophecies in relation to it. In that case the mebhassēr, or evangelist, more especially referred to is the prophet himself (Grotius and Stier), namely, as being the foreteller of those prophets to whom the commission in Isa 40:1, “Comfort ye, comfort ye,” is addressed, and who are greeted in Isa 52:7-8 as the bearers of the joyful news of the existing fulfilment of the deliverance that has appeared, and therefore as the mebhassēr or evangelist of the future מבשׂרים. In any case, it follows from Isa 41:26, Isa 41:27 that the overthrow of Babylon and the redemption of Israel had long before been proclaimed by Jehovah through His prophets; and if our exposition is correct so far, the futures in Isa 41:28 are to be taken as imperfects: And I looked round (וארא, a voluntative in the hypothetical protasis, Ges. §128, 2), and there was no one (who announced anything of the kind); and of these (the idols) there was no adviser (with regard to the future, Num 24:14), and none whom I could ask, and who answered me (the questioner). Consequently, just as the raising up of Cyrus proclaimed the sole omnipotence of Jehovah, so did the fact that the deliverance of Zion-Jerusalem, for which the raising up of Cyrus prepared the way, had been predicted by Him long before, proclaim His sole omniscience.

Verse 29 Edit

This closing declaration of Jehovah terminates with similar words of wrath and contempt to those with which the judicial process ended in Isa 41:24. “See them all, vanity; nothingness are their productions, wind and desolation their molten images.” מעשׂיהם are not the works of the idols, but, as the parallel shows, the productions (plural, as in Eze 6:6; Jer 1:16) of the idolaters - in other words, the idols themselves - a parallel expression to נסכּיהם (from נסך, as in Isa 48:5 = massēkhâh, Isa 42:17). אפס און is an emotional asyndeton (Ges. §155, 1,a). The address is thus rounded off by returning

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to the idolaters, with whom it first started. The first part, vv. 1-24, contains the judicial pleadings; the second part, Isa 41:25., recapitulates the evidence and the verdict.

Chap. 42 Edit

Verse 1 Edit

The hēn (behold) in Isa 41:29 is now followed by a second hēn. With the former, Jehovah pronounced sentence upon the idolaters and their idols; with the latter, He introduces His “servant.” In Isa 41:8 this epithet was applied to the nation, which had been chosen as the servant and for the service of Jehovah. But the servant of Jehovah who is presented to us here is distinct from Israel, and has so strong an individuality and such marked personal features, that the expression cannot possibly be merely a personified collective. Nor can the prophet himself be intended; for what is here affirmed of this servant of Jehovah goes infinitely beyond anything to which a prophet was ever called, or of which a man was ever capable. It must therefore be the future Christ; and this is the view taken in the Targum, where the translation of our prophecy commences thus: “Hâ' ‛abhdı̄ Meshı̄châ.” Still there must be a connection between the national sense, in which the expression “servant of Jehovah” was used in Isa 41:8, and the personal sense in which it is used here. The coming Saviour is not depicted as the Son of David, as in chapters 7-12, and elsewhere, but appears as the embodied idea of Israel, i.e., as its truth and reality embodied in one person. The idea of “the servant of Jehovah” assumed, to speak figuratively, the from of a pyramid. The base was Israel as a whole; the central section was that Israel, which was not merely Israel according to the flesh, but according to the spirit also; the apex is the person of the Mediator of salvation springing out of Israel. And the last of the three is regarded (1.) as the centre of the circle of the promised kingdom - the second David; (2.) the centre of the circle of the people of salvation - the second Israel; (3.) the centre of the circle of the human race - the second Adam. Throughout the whole of these prophecies in chapters 40-66 the knowledge of salvation is still in its second stage, and about to pass into the

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third. Israel's true nature as a servant of God, which had its roots in the election and calling of Jehovah, and manifested itself in conduct and action in harmony with this calling, is all concentrated in Him, the One, as its ripest fruit. The gracious purposes of God towards the whole human race, which were manifested even in the election of Israel, are brought by Him to their full completion. Whilst judgments are inflicted upon the heathen by the oppressor of the nations, and display the nothingness of idolatry, the servant of Jehovah brings to them in a peaceful way the greatest of all blessings. “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, whom my soul loveth: I have laid my Spirit upon Him; He will bring out right to the Gentiles.” We must not render the first clause “by whom I hold.” Tâmakh b’ means to lay firm hold of and keep upright (sustinere). נפשׁי רצתה (supply בו or אתו, Job 33:26) is an attributive clause. The amplified subject extends as far as naphshii; then follows the predicate: I have endowed Him with my Spirit, and by virtue of this Spirit He will carry out mishpât, i.e., absolute and therefore divine right, beyond the circle in which He Himself is to be found, even far away to the Gentiles. Mishpât is the term employed here to denote true religion regarded on its practical side, as the rule and authority for life in all its relations, i.e., religion as the law of life, νομός.

Verse 2 Edit

The prophet then proceeds to describe how the servant of Jehovah will manifest Himself in the world outside Israel by the promulgation of this right. “He will not cry, nor lift up, nor cause to be heard in the street, His voice.” “His voice” is the object of “lift up,” as well as “cause to be heard.” With our existing division of the verse, it must at least be supplied in thought. Although he is certain of His divine call, and brings to the nations the highest and best, His manner of appearing is nevertheless quiet, gentle, and humble; the very opposite of those lying teachers, who endeavoured to exalt themselves by noisy demonstrations. He does not seek His own, and therefore denies Himself; He brings what commends itself, and therefore requires no forced trumpeting.

Verse 3 Edit

With this unassuming appearance there is associated a tender pastoral care. “A bruised reed He does not break, and a glimmering wick He does not put out: according to truth He brings out right.”Bruised:râtsūts signifies here, as in Isa 36:6,

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what is cracked, and therefore half-broken already. Glimmering: kēheh (a form indicative of defects, like עוּר), that which is burning feebly, and very nearly extinguished. Tertullian understands by the “bruised reed” (arundinem contusam) the faith of Israel, and by the “glimmering wick” (linum ardens) the momentary zeal of the Gentiles. But the words hardly admit of this distinction; the reference is rather a general one, to those whose inner and outer life is only hanging by a slender thread. In the statement that in such a case as this He does not completely break or extinguish, there is more implied than is really expressed. Not only will He not destroy the life that is dying out, but He will actually save it; His course is not to destroy, but to save. If we explain the words that follow as meaning, “He will carry out right to truth,” i.e., to its fullest efficacy and permanence (lxx εἰς ἀλήθειαν; instead of which we find εἰς νῖκος, “unto victory,” in Mat 12:20,[54] as if the reading were לנצח, as in Hab 1:4), the connection between the first and last clauses of Isa 42:3 is a very loose one. It becomes much closer if we take the ל as indicating the standard, as in Isa 11:3 and Isa 32:1, and adopt the rendering “according to truth” (Hitzig and Knobel). It is on its subjective and practical side that truth is referred to here, viz., as denoting such a knowledge, and acknowledgement of the true facts in the complicated affairs of men, as will promote both equity and kindness.

Verse 4 Edit

The figures in Isa 42:3 now lead to the thought that the servant of God will never be extinguished or become broken Himself. “He will not become faint or broken, till He establish right upon earth, and the islands wait for His instruction.” As יכהה (become faint) points back to כהה פשׁתה (the finat or glimmering wick), so ירּוץ must point back to רצוּץ קנה (the bruised or broken reed); it cannot therefore be derived from רוּץ (to run) in the sense of “He will not be rash or impetuous, but execute His calling with wise moderation,” as Hengstenberg supposes, but as in Ecc 12:6, from רצץ = ירץ (Ges. §67, Anm. 9), in the neuter sense of infringetur (will break). His zeal will not be extinguished, nor will anything break His strength, till He shall have secured for right a firm standing on the earth (ישׂים is a fut. ex. so far as the meaning is concerned,

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like יבצּע in Isa 10:12). The question arises now, whether what follows is also governed by עד, in the sense of “and until the islands shall have believed his instruction,” as Hitzig supposes; or whether it is an independent sentence, as rendered by the lxx and in Mat 12:21. We prefer the latter, both because of Isa 51:5, and also because, although לדבר ה יחל may certainly mean to exercise a believing confidence in the word of God (Psa 119:74, Psa 119:81), לתורתו יחל can only mean “to wait with longing for a person's instruction” (Job 29:23), and especially in this case, where no thought is more naturally suggested, than that the messenger to the Gentile world will be welcomed by a consciousness of need already existing in the heathen world itself. There is a gratia praeparans at work in the Gentile world, as these prophecies all presuppose, in perfect harmony with the Gospel of John, with which they have so much affinity; and it is an actual fact, that the cry for redemption runs through the whole human race, i.e., an earnest longing, the ultimate object of which, however unconsciously, is the servant of Jehovah and his instruction from Zion (Isa 2:3) - in other words, the gospel.

Verses 5-7 Edit

The words of Jehovah are now addressed to His servant himself. He has not only an exalted vocation, answering to the infinite exaltation of Him from whom he has received his call; but by virtue of the infinite might of the caller, he may be well assured that he will never be wanting in power to execute his calling. “Thus saith God, Jehovah, who created the heavens, and stretched them out; who spread the earth, and its productions; who gave the spirit of life to the people upon it, and the breath of life to them that walk upon it: I, Jehovah, I have called thee in righteousness, and grasped thy hand; and I keep thee, and make thee the covenant of the people, the light of the Gentiles, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners out of the prison, them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house.” The perfect ‘âmar is to be explained on the ground that the words of God, as compared with the prophecy which announces them, are always the earlier of the two. האל (the absolutely Mighty) is an anticipatory apposition to Jehovah (Ges. §113**). The attributive participles we have resolved into perfects, because the three first at least declare facts of creation, which have occurred once for all. נוטיהם is not to be

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regarded as a plural, after Isa 54:5 and Job 35:10; but as בּורא precedes it, we may take it as a singular with an original quiescent Yod, after Isa 5:12; Isa 22:11; Isa 26:12. On רקע (construct of רקע), see Isa 40:19. The ו of וצאצאיה (a word found both in Job and Isaiah, used here in its most direct sense, to signify the vegetable world) must be taken in accordance with the sense, as the Vav of appurtenance; since רקע may be affirmed of the globe itself, but not of the vegetable productions upon it (cf., Gen 4:20; Jdg 6:5; 2Ch 2:3). Neshâmâh and rūăch are epithets applied to the divine principle of life in all created corporeal beings, or, what is the same thing, in all beings with living souls. At the same time, neshâmâh is an epithet restricted to the self-conscious spirit of man, which gives him his personality (Psychol. p. 76, etc.); whereas rūăch is applied not only to the human spirit, but to the spirit of the beast as well. Accordingly, עם signifies the human race, as in Isa 40:7. What is it, then, that Jehovah, the Author of all being and all life, the Creator of the heaven and the earth, says to His servant here? “I Jehovah have called thee 'in righteousness'” (betsedeq: cf., Isa 45:13, where Jehovah also says of Cyrus, “I have raised him up in righteousness”). צדק, derived from צדק, to be rigid, straight, denotes the observance of a fixed rule. The righteousness of God is the stringency with which He acts, in accordance with the will of His holiness. This will of holiness is, so far as the human race is concerned, and apart from the counsels of salvation, a will of wrath; but from the standpoint of these counsels it is a will of love, which is only changed into a will of wrath towards those who despise the grace thus offered to them. Accordingly, tsedeq denotes the action of God in accordance with His purposes of love and the plan of salvation. It signifies just the same as what we should call in New Testament phraseology the holy love of God, which, because it is a holy love, has wrath against its despisers as its obverse side, but which acts towards men not according to the law of works, but according to the law of grace. The word has this evangelical sense here, where Jehovah says of the Mediator of His counsels of love, that He has called Him in strict adherence to the will of His love, which will show mercy as right, but at the same time will manifest a right of double severity towards those

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who scornfully repel the offered mercy. That He had been called in righteousness, is attested to the servant of Jehovah by the fact that Jehovah has taken Him by the hand (ואחזד contracted after the manner of a future of sequence), and guards Him, and appoints Him גּוים לאור עם לברית. These words are a decisive proof that the idea of the expression “servant of Jehovah” has been elevated in Isa 42:1., as compared with Isa 41:8, from the national base to the personal apex. Adherence to the national sense necessarily compels a resort to artifices which carry their own condemnation, such as that עם ברית signifies the “covenant nation,”as Hitzig supposes, or “the mediating nation,” as Ewald maintains, whereas either of these would require ברית עם; or “national covenant” (Knobel), in support of which we are referred, though quite inconclusively, to Dan 11:28, where קדשׁ בּרית does not mean the covenant of the patriots among themselves, but the covenant religion, with its distinctive sign, circumcision; or even that עם is collective, and equivalent to עמים (Rosenmüller), whereas עם and גוים, when standing side by side,