Isaiah 11:1
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Isaiah

THE SUCKER FROM THE FELLED OAK

Isaiah 11:1 - Isaiah 11:10
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The hopeless fall of Assyria is magnificently pictured in the close of Isaiah 10:1 - Isaiah 10:16, as the felling of the cedars of Lebanon by the axe swung by Jehovah’s own hand. A cedar once cut down puts out no new shoots; and so the Assyrian power, when it falls, will fall for ever. The metaphor is carried on with surpassing beauty in the first part of this prophecy, which contrasts the indestructible vitality of the Davidic monarchy with the irremediable destruction fated for its formidable antagonist. The one is a cedar, the stump of which rots slowly, but never recovers. The other is an oak, which, every woodman knows, will put out new growth from the ‘stool.’ But instead of a crowd of little suckers, the prophet sees but one shoot, and that rising to more than the original height and fruitfulness of the tree. The prophecy is distinctly that of One Person, in whom the Davidic monarchy is concentrated, and all its decadence more than recovered.

Isaiah does not bring the rise of the Messiah into chronological connection with the fall of Assyria; for he contemplates a period of decay for the Israelitish monarchy, and it was the very burden of his message as to Assyria that it should pass away without harming that monarchy. The contrast is not intended to suggest continuity in time. The period of fulfilment is entirely undetermined.

The first point in the prophecy is the descent of the Messiah from the royal stock. That is more than Isaiah’s previous Messianic prophecies had told. He is to come at a time when the fortunes of David’s house were at their worst. There is to be nothing left but the stump of the tree, and out of it is to come a ‘shoot,’ slender and insignificant, and in strange contrast with the girth of the truncated bole, stately even in its mutilation. We do not talk of a growth from the stump as being a ‘branch’; and ‘sprout’ would better convey Isaiah’s meaning. From the top of the stump, a shoot; from the roots half buried in the ground, an outgrowth,-these two images mean but one person, a descendant of David, coming at a time of humiliation and obscurity. But this lowly shoot will ‘bear fruit,’ which presupposes its growth.

The King-Messiah thus brought on the scene is then described in regard to His character {Isaiah 11:2}, the nature of His rule {Isaiah 11:3 - Isaiah 11:5}, the universal harmony and peace which He will diffuse through nature {Isaiah 11:6 - Isaiah 11:9}, and the gathering of all mankind under His dominion. There is much in the prophetic ideal of the Messiah which finds no place in this prophecy. The gentler aspects of His reign are not here, nor the deeper characteristics of His ‘spirit,’ nor the chiefest blessings in His gift. The suffering Messiah is not yet the theme of the prophet.

The main point as to the character of the Messiah which this prophecy sets forth is that, whatever He was to be, He was to be by reason of the resting on Him of the Spirit of Jehovah. The directness, fulness, and continuousness of His inspiration are emphatically proclaimed in that word ‘shall rest,’ which can scarcely fail to recall John’s witness, ‘I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven; and it abode upon Him.’ The humanity on which the Divine Spirit uninterruptedly abides, ungrieved and unrestrained, must be free from the stains which so often drive that heavenly visitant from our breasts. The white-breasted Dove of God cannot brood over foulness. There has never been but one manhood capable of receiving and retaining the whole fulness of the Spirit of God.

The gifts of that Spirit, which become qualities of the Messiah in whom He dwells, are arranged {if we may use so cold a word} in three pairs; so that, if we include the introductory designation, we have a sevenfold characterisation of the Spirit, recalling the seven lamps before the throne and the seven eyes of the Lamb in the Apocalypse, and symbolising by the number the completeness and sacredness of that inspiration. The resulting character of the Messiah is a fair picture of one who realises the very ideal of a strong and righteous ruler of men. ‘Wisdom and understanding’ refer mainly to the clearness of intellectual and moral insight; ‘counsel and might,’ to the qualities which give sound practical direction and vigour to follow, and carry through, the decisions of practical wisdom; while ‘the knowledge and fear of the Lord’ define religion by its two parts of acquaintance with God founded on love, and reverential awe which prompts to obedience. The fulfilment, and far more than fulfilment, of this ideal is in Jesus, in whom were ‘hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,’ to whom no circumstances of difficulty ever brought the shadow of perplexity, who always saw clearly before Him the path to tread, and had always ‘might’ to tread it, however rough, who lived all His days in unbroken fellowship with the Father and in lowly obedience.

The prophet saw not all the wonders of perfect human character which that indwelling Spirit would bring to realisation in Him; but what he saw was indispensable to a perfect King, and was, at all events, an arc of the mighty circle of perfection, which has now been revealed in the life of Jesus. The possibilities of humanity under the influence of the Divine Spirit are revealed here no less than the actuality of the Messiah’s character. What Jesus is, He gives it to His subjects to become by the dwelling in them of the spirit of life which was in Him.

The rule of the King is accordant with His character. It is described in Isaiah 11:3 - Isaiah 11:5. The first characteristic named may be understood in different ways. According to some commentators, who deserve respectful consideration, it means, ‘He shall draw His breath in the fear of Jehovah’; that is, that that fear has become, as it were, His very life-breath. But the meaning of ‘breathing’ is doubtful; and the phrase seems rather to express, as the Revised Version puts it, ‘His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.’ That might mean that those who fear Jehovah shall be His delight, and this would free the expression from any shade of tautology, when compared with the previous clause, and would afford a natural transition to the description of His rule. It might, on the other hand, continue the description of His personal character, and describe the inward cheerfulness of His obedience, like ‘I delight to do Thy will.’ In any case, the ‘fear of the Lord’ is represented as a sweet-smelling fragrance; and, if we adopt the former explanation, then it is almost a divine characteristic which is here attributed to the Messiah; for it is God to whom the fear of Him in men’s hearts is ‘an odour of a sweet smell.’

Then follow the features of His rule. His unerring judgment pierces through the seen and heard. That is the quality of a monarch after the antique pattern, when kings were judges. It does not appear that the prophet rose to the height of perceiving the divine nature of the Messiah; but we cannot but remember how far the reality transcends the prophecy, since He whose ‘eyes are as a flame of fire’ knows what is in man, and the earliest prayers of the Church were addressed to Jesus as ‘Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men.’

The relation of Messiah to two classes is next set forth. The oppressed and the meek shall have Him for their defender and avenger,-a striking contrast to the oppressive monarchs whom Isaiah had seen. We remember who said ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,’ ‘Blessed are the meek.’ The King Himself has taught us to deepen the meaning of the words of the prophet, and to find in them the expression of the law of His kingdom by which its blessings belong to those who know their need and come with humble hearts. But the same acts which are for the poor are against the oppressors. The emendation which reads ‘tyrant’ {arits} for ‘earth’ {erets} brings the two clauses descriptive of the punitive acts into parallelism, and is probably to be preferred. The same pillar was light to Israel and darkness to the Egyptians. Christ is the savour of life unto life and of death unto death. But what is His instrument of destruction? ‘The rod of His mouth’ or ‘the breath of His lips.’ And who is He whose bare word thus has power to kill and make alive? Is not this a divine prerogative? and does it not belong in the fullest sense to Him whose voice rebuked fevers, storms, and demons, and pierced the dull, cold ear of death? Further, righteousness, the absolute conformity of character and act to the standard in the will of God, and faithfulness, the inflexible constancy, which makes a character consistent with itself, and so reliable, are represented by a striking figure as being twined together to make the girdle, which holds the vestments in place, and girds up the whole frame for effort. This righteous King ‘shall not fail nor be discouraged.’ He is to be reckoned on to the uttermost, or, as the New Testament puts it, He is ‘the faithful and true witness.’ This is the strong Son of God, who gathered all His powers together to run with patience the race set before Him, and to whom all may turn with the confidence that He is faithful ‘as a Son over His own house,’ and will inviolably keep the promise of His word and of His past acts.

We pass from the picture of the character and rule of the King over men to that fair vision of Paradise regained, which celebrates the universal restoration of peace between man and the animals. The picture is not to be taken as a mere allegory, as if ‘lions’ and ‘wolves’ and ‘snakes’ meant bad men; but it falls into line with other hints in Scripture, which trace the hostility between man and the lower creatures to sin, and shadow a future when ‘the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee.’ The psalm which sings of man’s dominion over the creatures is to be one day fulfilled; and the Epistle to the Hebrews teaches that it is already fulfilled in Christ, who will raise His brethren, for whom He tasted death, to partake in His dominion. The present order of things is transient; and if earth is to be, as some shadowy hints seem to suggest, the scene of the future glories of redeemed humanity, it may be the theatre of a fulfilment of such visions as this. But we cannot dogmatise on a subject of which we know so little, nor be sure of the extent to which symbolism enters into this sweet picture. Enough that there surely comes a time when the King of men and Lord of nature shall bring back peace between both, and restore ‘the fair music that all creatures made To their great Lord.’

Isaiah 11:10 begins an entirely new section, which describes the relations of Messiah’s kingdom to the surrounding peoples. The picture preceding closed with the vision of the earth filled with the knowledge of the Lord, and this verse proclaims the universality of Messiah’s kingdom. By ‘the root of Jesse’ is meant, not the root from which Jesse sprang, but, in accordance with Isaiah 11:1, the sprout from the house of Jesse. Just as in that verse the sprout was prophesied of as growing up to be fruitbearing, so here the lowly sucker shoots to a height which makes it conspicuous from afar, and becomes, like some tall mast, a sign for the nations. The contrast between the obscure beginning and the conspicuous destiny of Messiah is the point of the prophecy. ‘I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.’ Strange elevation for a king is a cross! But it is because He has died for men that He has the right to reign over them, and that they ‘shall seek’ to Him. ‘His resting-place shall be glorious.’

The seat of His dominion is also the seat of His repose. The beneficent activity just described is wielded from a calm, central palace, and does not break the King’s tranquillity. That is a paradox, except to those who know that Jesus Christ, sitting in undisturbed rest at the right hand of God, thence works with and for His servants. His repose is full of active energy; His active energy is full of repose. And that place of calm abode is ‘glorious’ or, more emphatically and literally, ‘glory. He shall dwell in the blaze of the uncreated glory of God,-a prediction which is only fulfilled in its true meaning by Christ’s ascension and session at the right hand of God, in the glory which He had with the Father before the world was, and into which He has borne that lowly manhood which He drew from the cut-down stem of Jesse.Isaiah 11:1. And, &c. — The fifth section of the fifth discourse begins here, and concludes with the next chapter. It is two-fold: in the first part the kingdom of Christ is described; in what manner, arising from the smallest beginnings, it should go on to increase, till, at length, it attained the highest perfection, Isaiah 11:1-9. In the second part are set forth some remarkable events of that kingdom, illustrating its glory, with their consequences, Isaiah 11:10 to chap. 12:6: see Vitringa. There shall come forth a rod — The prophet, having despatched the Assyrian, and comforted God’s people with the promise of their deliverance from that formidable enemy, now proceeds further, and declares that God would do greater things than that for them; that he would give them their long-expected and much-desired Messiah, and by him would work wonders of mercy for them. For this is the manner of the prophets, to take occasion, from particular deliverances, to fix the people’s minds upon that great and everlasting deliverance from all their enemies by the Messiah. And having said that the Assyrian yoke should be destroyed, because of the anointing, he now more particularly explains who that anointed person was. Bishop Lowth mentions another particular, which he thinks plainly shows the connection between this and the preceding chapter. “The prophet had described the destruction of the Assyrian army under the image of a mighty forest, consisting of flourishing trees, growing thick together, and of a great height: of Lebanon itself crowned with lofty cedars, but cut down, and laid level with the ground, by the axe wielded by the hand of some powerful and illustrious agent; in opposition to this image he represents the great person, who makes the subject of this chapter, as a slender twig, shooting out from the trunk of an old tree, cut down, lopped to the very root, and decayed; which tender plant, so weak in appearance, should nevertheless become fruitful and prosper.” Out of the stem — Or, rather, stump, as the word properly signifies: by which he clearly implies that the Messiah should be born of the royal house of David, at that time when it was in a most forlorn condition, like a tree cut down, and whereof nothing is left but a stump, or root under ground. Of Jesse — He doth not say of David, but of Jesse, who was a private and mean person, to intimate, that at the time of Christ’s birth the royal family should be reduced to its primitive obscurity.11:1-9 The Messiah is called a Rod, and a Branch. The words signify a small, tender product; a shoot, such as is easily broken off. He comes forth out of the stem of Jesse; when the royal family was cut down and almost levelled with the ground, it would sprout again. The house of David was brought very low at the time of Christ's birth. The Messiah thus gave early notice that his kingdom was not of this world. But the Holy Spirit, in all his gifts and graces, shall rest and abide upon him; he shall have the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in him, Col 1:19; 2:9. Many consider that seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are here mentioned. And the doctrine of the influences of the Holy Spirit is here clearly taught. The Messiah would be just and righteous in all his government. His threatening shall be executed by the working of his Spirit according to his word. There shall be great peace and quiet under his government. The gospel changes the nature, and makes those who trampled on the meek of the earth, meek like them, and kind to them. But it shall be more fully shown in the latter days. Also Christ, the great Shepherd, shall take care of his flock, that the nature of troubles, and of death itself, shall be so changed, that they shall not do any real hurt. God's people shall be delivered, not only from evil, but from the fear of it. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? The better we know the God of love, the more shall we be changed into the same likeness, and the better disposed to all who have any likeness to him. This knowledge shall extend as the sea, so far shall it spread. And this blessed power there have been witnesses in every age of Christianity, though its most glorious time, here foretold, is not yet arrived. Meanwhile let us aim that our example and endeavours may help to promote the honour of Christ and his kingdom of peace.And there shall come forth a rod - In the previous chapter, the prophet had represented the Assyrian monarch and his army under the image of a dense and flourishing forest, with all its glory and grandeur. In opposition to this, he describes the illustrious personage who is the subject of this chapter, under the image of a slender twig or shoot, sprouting up from the root of a decayed and fallen tree. Between the Assyrian, therefore, and the person who is the subject of this chapter, there is a most striking and beautiful contrast. The one was at first magnificent - like a vast spreading forest - yet should soon fall and decay; the other was the little sprout of a decayed tree, which should yet rise, expand and flourish.

A rod - (חטר choṭı̂r). This word occurs in but one other place; Proverbs 14:3 : 'In the mouth of the foolish is a "rod" of pride.' Here it means, evidently, a branch, a twig, a shoot, such as starts up from the roots of a decayed tree, and is synonymous with the word rendered "branch" (צמח tsemach) in Isaiah 4:2; see the Note on that place.

Out of the stem - (מגזע mı̂geza‛). This word occurs but three times in the Old Testament; see Job 14:8; where it is rendered "stock:"

Though the root thereof wax old in the earth,

And the stock thereof die in the ground;

And in Isaiah 40:24 : 'Yea, their "stock" shall not take root in the earth.' It means, therefore, the stock or stump of a tree that has been cut down - a stock, however, which may not be quite dead, but where it may send up a branch or shoot from its roots. It is beautifully applied to an ancient family that is fallen into decay, yet where there may be a descendant that shall rise and flourish; as a tree may fall and decay, but still there may be vitality in the root, and it shall send up a tender germ or sprout.

Of Jesse - The father of David. It means, that he who is here spoken of should be of the family of Jesse, or David. Though Jesse had died, and though the ancient family of David would fall into decay, yet there would arise from that family an illustrious descendant. The beauty of this description is apparent, if we bear in recollection that, when the Messiah was born, the ancient and much honored family of David had fallen into decay; that the mother of Jesus, though pertaining to that family, was poor, obscure, and unknown; and that, to all appearance, the glory of the family had departed. Yet from that, as from a long-decayed root in the ground, he should spring who would restore the family to more than its ancient glory, and shed additional luster on the honored name of Jesse.

And a branch - (נצר nêtser). A twig, branch, or shoot; a slip, scion, or young sucker of a tree, that is selected for transplanting, and that requires to be watched with special care. The word occurs but four times; Isaiah 60:21 : 'They shall inherit the land forever, the branch of my planting;' Isaiah 14:19 : 'But thou art cast out of thy grave as an abominable branch;' Daniel 11:7. The word rendered branch in Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15, is a different word in the original (צמח tsemach), though meaning substantially the same thing. The word "branch" is also used by our translators, in rendering several other Hebrew words; "see" Taylor's "Concordance." Here the word is synonymous with that which is rendered "rod" in the previous part of the verse - a shoot, or twig, from the root of a decayed tree.

Out of his roots - As a shoot starts up from the roots of a decayed tree. The Septuagint renders this, 'And a flower (ἄνθος anthos) shall arise from the root.' The Chaldee, 'And a king shall proceed from the sons of Jesse, and the Messiah from his sons' sons shall arise;' showing conclusively that the ancient Jews referred this to the Messiah.

That this verse, and the subsequent parts of the chapter, refer to the Messiah, may be argued from the following considerations:

(1) The fact that it is expressly applied to him in the New Testament. Thus Paul, in Romans 15:12, quotes the tenth verse of this chapter as expressly applicable to the times of the Messiah.

(2) The Chaldee Paraphrase shows, that this was the sense which the ancient Jews put upon the passage. That paraphrase is of authority, only to show that this was the sense which appeared to be the true one by the ancient interpreters.

(3) The description in the chapter is not applicable to any other personage than the Messiah. Grotius supposes that the passage refers to Hezekiah; though, 'in a more sublime sense,' to the Messiah. Others have referred it to Zerubbabel. But none of the things here related apply to either, except the fact that they had a descent from the family of Jesse; for neither of those families had fallen into the decay which the prophet here describes.

(4) The peace, prosperity, harmony and order, referred to in the subsequent portions of the chapter, are not descriptive of any portion of the reign of Hezekiah.

continued...

CHAPTER 11

Isa 11:1-16.

From the local and temporary national deliverance the prophet passes by the law of suggestion in an easy transition to the end of all prophecy—the everlasting deliverance under Messiah's reign, not merely His first coming, but chiefly His second coming. The language and illustrations are still drawn from the temporary national subject, with which he began, but the glories described pertain to Messiah's reign. Hezekiah cannot, as some think, be the subject; for he was already come, whereas the "stem of Jesse" was yet future ("shall come") (compare Mic 4:11, &c.; 5:1, 2; Jer 23:5, 6; 33:15, 16; Ro 15:12).

1. rod—When the proud "boughs" of "Lebanon" (Isa 10:33, 34, the Assyrians) are lopped, and the vast "forests cut down" amidst all this rage, a seemingly humble rod shall come out of Jesse (Messiah), who shall retrieve the injuries done by the Assyrian "rod" to Israel (Isa 10:5, 6, 18, 19).

stem—literally, "the stump" of a tree cut close by the roots: happily expressing the depressed state of the royal house of David, owing to the hostile storm (Isa 10:18, 19), when Messiah should arise from it, to raise it to more than its pristine glory. Lu 2:7 proves this (Isa 53:2; compare Job 14:7, 8; see on [704]Isa 8:6).

Branch—Scion. He is nevertheless also the "root" (Isa 11:10; Re 5:5; 22:16. "Root and offspring" combines both, Zec 3:8; 6:12).Christ, a Branch out of the root of Jesse, endued with the Spirit of the Lord, should set up a kingdom by the preaching of his word, Isaiah 19:1-5. The members of his church should live in peace and unity, Isaiah 19:6-9; and be victorious over their enemies; and to him should the Gentiles seek, Isaiah 11:10-16.

The prophet having despatched the Assyrian, and comforted God’s people with the promise of their deliverance from that formidable enemy, now he proceeds further, and declares that God will do greater things than that for them, that he will give them their long-expected and much desired Messiah, and by him will work wonders of mercy for them. For this is the manner of the prophets, to take the occasion of particular deliverances, to fix the people’s minds upon their great and everlasting deliverance from all their enemies by the Messiah. And having said that the Assyrian yoke should be destroyed because of the anointing, Isaiah 10:27, he now more particularly explains who that anointed person was. A rod, or twig, called a Branch in the next clause. Parents are oft compared to roots or trees, and their children to branches. He speaks of the most eminent Branch, of that famous Son of a virgin, Isaiah 7:14, of that wonderful Child, Isaiah 9:6; not of Hezekiah, as some of the Jews and judaizing Christians conceit; but of the Messiah, as will evidently appear from the following description. The stem, or trunk; or rather, stump; for the word properly signifies a trunk cut off from the root; or, root, as the LXX. here render the word, and as it is explained in the next clause. By which he clearly implies that the Messiah should be born of the royal house of David, at that lime when it was in a most forlorn and contemptible condition, like a tree cut down, and whereof nothing is left but a stump or root under ground; which really was the state of David’s family when Christ was born, as is notoriously known, but was in a far better condition when Hezekiah was born. Of Jesse; he doth not say of David, but

of Jesse, who was a private and mean person, 1 Samuel 18:18,23 20:30, to intimate, that at the time of Christ’s birth the royal family should be reduced to its primitive obscurity.

A Branch shall grow: he speaks of one not yet born, and therefore not of Hezekiah, who was born divers years before his father Ahaz (in whose time this prophecy was delivered) was king, by comparing 2 Kings 16:2 18:2; but of the Messiah.

Out of his roots; out of one of his roots, i.e. branches, as this word root is sometimes used, by a very usual figure called a metonymy, as it is here below, Isaiah 11:10 Isaiah 53:2 Hosea 14:5.

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse,.... By which is meant, not Hezekiah, as R. Moses (o) the priest, and others, since he was now born, and must be at least ten or twelve years of age; but the Messiah, as both the text and context show, and as is owned by many Jewish writers (p), ancient and modern: and he is called a "rod", either because of his unpromising appearance, arising "out of the stem of Jesse"; from him, in the line of David, when that family was like a tree cut down, and its stump only left in the ground, which was the case when Jesus was born of it: Jesse's family was at first but a mean and obscure one; it became very illustrious in David's time, and in some following reigns; from the Babylonish captivity, till the time of Christ, it was very low; and at the birth of Christ was low indeed, his supposed father being a carpenter, and his real mother Mary a poor virgin, dwelling at Nazareth; and it seemed very unlikely, under these circumstances, that he should be the King Messiah, and be so great as was foretold he should; and have that power, authority, and wisdom he had; and do such mighty works as he did; and especially be the author of eternal salvation; and bring forth such fruits, and be the cause of such blessings of grace, as he was: or else because of his kingly power and majesty, the rod or branch being put for a sceptre, and so a symbol of that; to which the Targum agrees, paraphrasing the words thus,

"and a King shall come forth from the sons of Jesse:''

and the sense is, that though Jesse's or David's family should be brought so very low as to be as the stem or stump of a tree, without a body, branches, leaves, and fruit; yet from thence should arise a mighty King, even the King Messiah, who is spoken of by so many august names and titles, Isaiah 9:6 and this is observed for the comfort of the people of Israel, when distressed by the Assyrians, as in the preceding chapter Isaiah 10:1; when those high ones, comparable to the loftiest cedars in Lebanon, and to the tallest trees in the forest, should be hewn down, a rod should come out of Jesse's stem, which should rise higher, and spread more than ever they did:

and a branch shall grow out of his roots; the roots of Jesse, out of his family, compared to the stump of a tree; meaning either his ancestors, as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Boaz, and Obed; or his posterity, as David, Joseph, and Mary; and so the Targum,

"and the Messiah shall be anointed (or exalted) from his children's children.''

The branch is a well known name of the Messiah; See Gill on Isaiah 4:2 the word Netzer, here used, is the name of the city of Nazareth (q); which perhaps was so called, from the trees, plants, and grass, which grew here; and so our Lord's dwelling here fulfilled a prophecy, that he should be called a Nazarene; or an inhabitant of Netzer, Matthew 2:23. The Jews (r) speak of one Ben Netzer, who they say was a robber, took cities, and reigned over them, and became the head of robbers; and make (s) him to be the little horn in Daniel 7:8 and wickedly and maliciously say (t) he was Jesus; and yet, under all this wickedness, they tacitly own that Jesus of Nazareth is the Netzer this prophecy speaks of; the design of which is to show the meanness of Christ's descent as man, and that he should be as a root out of a dry ground, Isaiah 53:2 or rather as a rod and branch out of a dry root.

(o) Apud Aben Ezra in loc. (p) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 85. fol. 75. 1. Midrash Tillim in Psal. lxxii. 1. Apud Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 112. 2. Abarbinel, Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 8. 4. Aben Ezra, Jarchi, & Kimchi, in loc. Nachman. Disputat. cum Fratre Paulo, p. 53. (q) David de Pomis Lexic. p. 141. (r) T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 51. 2. & Gloss. in ib. (s) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 76. fol. 67. 2.((t) Abarbinel in Daniel 7.8. fol. 44. 1.

And there shall come forth a {a} rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:

(a) Because the captivity of Babylon was a figure of the spiritual captivity under sin, he shows that our true deliverance must come by Christ: for as David came out of Jesse, a man without dignity, so Christ would come of a poor carpenter's house as out of a dead stock, Isa 53:2.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. The advent of the Messiah. Idea and figure correspond to those of ch. Isaiah 6:13; as a new Israel will spring up from the “stump” of the old, so the Messianic King will arise from the decayed family of David. Some commentators find in the image an intentional contrast to that of ch. Isaiah 10:34; while the forest of Assyria is cut down never to spring up again, the stock of Judah’s royal dynasty will sprout and flourish. The precise relation of the Messiah to the reigning branch of the family is purposely left indefinite (cf. Micah 5:2).

a rod] Better as R.V. a shoot. The word rendered “stem” occurs only twice again. Here it bears the same meaning as in Job 14:8; it is the stock which remains in the earth after the tree is cut down. In Isaiah 40:24 it means a “slip” planted in the ground in order to strike root. The figure, therefore, like “roots” in the next line, seems to imply the downfall of the dynasty.

a Branch shall grow out of his roots] Render as R.V. a branch out of his roots shall boar fruit—shall come to maturity. Jesse is mentioned instead of David probably because of the intentional vagueness in which the Messiah’s origin is left.

Ch. Isaiah 11:1-9. The Messiah and His Kingdom

It is interesting to compare this passage with ch. Isaiah 9:1-7. There the delineation of the Messianic age starts from its broadest and most general features—the light breaking on the land, the universally diffused joy of the redeemed nation—and only at the end centres itself in the person of the Wonderful Child who is born to ascend the throne. Here the person of the Messiah comes first, and then the healing and regenerating influences of which he is the channel. To what period of Isaiah’s career the prophecy belongs cannot be determined. The affinity with ch. Isaiah 9:1-7 suggests the reign of Ahaz, to which it is assigned by Guthe in accordance with a particular theory of the development of Isaiah’s eschatology. But since there is no evidence that the idea of the Messianic King ever lost its significance to the prophet’s mind, it might with equal propriety be referred to any subsequent period of his ministry. Duhm places this and the companion oracles of Isaiah 2:2-4, Isaiah 32:1-5 in the evening of Isaiah’s long life. In its present setting the passage is no doubt intended as a sequel to ch. Isaiah 10:5-34 and it might even belong to the same date.Verses 1-9. - A RENEWED PROPHECY OF MESSIAH AND OF HIS KINGDOM. This chapter is closely connected with the preceding. With the final destruction of Assyria, which, being cut down, sends out no shoot (Isaiah 10:33, 34), is contrasted the recuperative energy of Israel, which, though equally leveled with the ground (Isaiah 9:18, 19), shall spring afresh into life, and "renew its youth." The recovery is connected - or rather identified with the coming of Messiah, whose character is beautifully portrayed (vers. 2-5). An elaborate description of Messiah's kingdom follows (vers. 6-10) - an expansion of the briefer one in Isaiah 2:3, 4. Verse 1. - There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse. The blasted and ruined "stem" or stock of Jesse, cut down, and for ages hidden from sight, shall suddenly put forth a sprout - a young green sapling, tender vet vigorous, weak seemingly, yet foil of life (comp. Job 14:7-9, "There is hope of a tree, if it he cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not crease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant"). "The stem of Jesse" must mean the house of David, for there is but one Jesse (Ishai) in Scripture - David's father. A Branch shall grow out of his roots. That which is at first a sapling gains strength and grows into a "branch" (see Isaiah 4:2, where the word used, though different, is synonymous). Professor Schegg travelled by this very route to Jerusalem (cf., p. 560, Anm. 2): From Gifneh he went direct to Tayibeh (which he imagined to be the ancient Ai), and then southwards through Muchmas, Geba, Hizmeh, 'Anata, and el-Isawiye to Jerusalem.

Isaiah 10:28Aesthetically considered, the description is one of the most magnificent that human poetry has ever produced. "He comes upon Ayyath, passes through Migron; in Michmash he leaves his baggage. They go through the pass: let Geba be our quarters for the night! Ramah trembles; Gibeah of Saul flees. Scream aloud, O daughter of Gallim! Only listen, O Laysha! Poor Anathoth! Madmenah hurries away; the inhabitants of Gebim rescue. He still halts in Nob today; swings his hand over the mountain of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem. Behold, the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, lops down the branches with terrific force; and those of towering growth are hewn down, and the lofty are humbled. And He fells the thickets of the forest with iron; and Lebanon, it falls by a Majestic One." When the Assyrian came upon Ayyath ( equals Ayyah, 1 Chronicles 7:28 (?), Nehemiah 11:31, generally hâ-‛ai, or 'Ai), about thirty miles to the north-east of Jerusalem, he trod for the first time upon Benjaminitish territory, which was under the sway of Judaea. The name of this 'Ai, which signifies "stone-heap," tallies, as Knobel observes, with the name of the Tell el-hagar, which is situated about three-quarters of an hour to the south-east of Beitn, i.e., Bethel. But there are tombs, reservoirs, and ruins to be seen about an hour to the south-east of Beitin; and these Robinson associates with Ai. From Ai, however, the army will not proceed towards Jerusalem by the ordinary route, viz., the great north road (or "Nablus road"); but, in order to surprise Jerusalem, it takes a different route, in which it will have to cross three deep and difficult valleys. From Ai they pass to Migron, the name of which has apparently been preserved in the ruins of Burg Magrun, situated about eight minutes' walk from Beitn.

(Note: I also find the name written Magrum (read Magrun), which is probably taken from a more correct hearsay than the Machrn of Robinson (ii.127).)

Michmash is still to be found in the form of a deserted village with ruins, under the name of Muchms, on the eastern side of the valley of Migron. Here they deposit their baggage (hiphkid, Jeremiah 36:20), so far as they are able to dispense with it - either to leave it lying there, or to have it conveyed after them by an easier route. For they proceed thence through the pass of Michmash, a deep and precipitous ravine about forty-eight minutes in breadth, the present Wady Suweinit. "The pass" (ma‛bârâh) is the defile of Michmash, with two prominent rocky cliffs, where Jonathan had his adventure with the garrison of the Philistines. One of these cliffs was called Seneh (1 Samuel 14:4), a name which suggests es-Suweinit. Through this defile they pass, encouraging one another, as they proceed along the difficult march, by the prospect of passing the night in Geba, which is close at hand. It is still disputed whether this Geba is the same place as the following Gibeah of Saul or not. There is at the present time a village called Geba' below Muchms, situated upon an eminence. The almost universal opinion now is, that this is not Gibeah of Saul, but that the latter is to be seen in the prominent Tell (Tuleil) el-Fl, which is situated farther south. This is possibly correct.

(Note: This is supported by Robinson in his Later Biblical Researches in Palestine (1857), by Valentiner (pastor at Jerusalem), and by Keil in the Commentary on Joshua, Judges, etc. (Joshua 18:21-28), where all the more recent writings on this topographical question are given.)

For there can be no doubt that this mountain, the name of which signifies "Bean-hill," would be a very strong position, and one very suitable for Gibeah of Saul; and the supposition that there were two places in Benjamin named Geba, Gibeah, or Gibeath, is favoured at any rate by Joshua 18:21-28, where Geba and Gibeath are distinguished from one another. And this mountain, which is situated to the south of er-Rm - that is to say, between the ancient Ramah and Anathoth - tallies very well with the route of the Assyrian as here described; whilst it is very improbable that Isaiah has designated the very same place first of all Geba, and then (for what reason no one can tell) Gibeah of Saul. We therefore adopt the view, that the Assyrian army took up its quarters for the night at Geba, which still bears this name, spreading terror in all directions, both east and west, and still more towards the south. Starting in the morning from the deep valley between Michmash and Geba, they pass on one side of Rama (the present er-Rm), situated half an hour to the west of Geba, which trembles as it sees them go by; and the inhabitants of Gibeath of Saul, upon the "Bean-hill," a height that commands the whole of the surrounding country, take to flight when they pass by. Every halting-place on their route brings them nearer to Jerusalem. The prophet goes in spirit through it all. It is so objectively real to him, that it produces the utmost anxiety and pain. The cities and villages of the district are lost.

He appeals to the daughter, i.e., the population, of Gallim, to raise a far-sounding yell of lamentation with their voice (Ges. 138, 1, Anm. 3), and calls out in deep sympathy to Laysha, which was close by (on the two places, both of which have vanished now, see 1 Samuel 25:44 and Judges 18:29), "only listen," the enemy is coming nearer and nearer; and then for Anathoth (‛Anâtâ, still to be seen about an hour and a quarter to the north of Jerusalem) he utters this lamentation (taking the name as an omen of its fate): O poor Anathoth! There is no necessity for any alteration of the text; ‛anniyâh is an appeal, or rather an exclamation, as in Isaiah 54:11; and ‛anâthoth follows, according to the same verbal order as in Isaiah 23:12, unless indeed we take it at once as an adjective written before the noun - an arrangement of the words which may possibly have been admissible in such interjectional sentences. The catastrophe so much to be dreaded by Jerusalem draws nearer and nearer. Madmenah (dung-hill, see Comm. on Job, at Job 9:11-15) flees in anxious haste: the inhabitants of Gebim (water-pits) carry off their possessions (הּעיז, from עוּז, to flee, related to chush, hence to carry off in flight, to bring in haste to a place of security, Exodus 9:19, cf., Jeremiah 4:6; Jeremiah 6:1; synonymous with hēnı̄s, Exodus 9:20; Judges 6:11; different from ‛âzaz, to be firm, strong, defiant, from which mâ‛oz, a fortress, is derived - in distinction from the Arabic ma‛âdh, a place of refuge: comp. Isaiah 30:2, to flee to Pharaoh's shelter). There are no traces left of either place. The passage is generally understood as implying that the army rested another day in Nob. But this would be altogether at variance with the design - to take Jerusalem by surprise by the suddenness of the destructive blow. We therefore render it, "Even to-day he will halt in Nob" (in eo est ut subsistat, Ges. 132, Anm. 1) - namely, to gather up fresh strength there in front of the city which was doomed to destruction, and to arrange the plan of attack. The supposition that Nob was the village of el-'Isawiye, which is still inhabited, and lies to the south-west of Ant, fifty-five minutes to the north of Jerusalem, is at variance with the situation, as correctly described by Jerome, when he says: "Stans in oppidulo Nob et procul urbem conspiciens Jerusalem." A far more appropriate situation is to be found in the hill which rises to the north of Jerusalem, and which is called Sadr, from its breast-like projection or roundness - a name which is related in meaning to nob, nâb, to rise. From this eminence the way leads down into the valley of Kidron; and as you descend, the city spreads out before you at a very little distance off. It may have been here, in the prophet's view, that the Assyrians halted.

(Note: This is the opinion of Valentiner, who also regards the march of the Assyrians as an "execution-march" in two columns, one of which took the road through the difficult ground to the east, whilst the other inflicted punishment upon the places that stood near the road. The text does not require this, however, but describes a march, which spread alarm both right and left as it went along.)

It was not long, however (as the yenōphēph which follows ἀσυνδέτως implies), before his hand was drawn out to strike (Isaiah 11:15; Isaiah 19:16), and swing over the mountain of the daughter of Zion (Isaiah 16:1), over the city of the holy hill. But what would Jehovah do, who was the only One who could save His threatened dwelling-place in the face of such an army? As far as Isaiah 10:32, the prophet's address moved on at a hurried, stormy pace; it then halted, and seemed, as it were, panting with anxiety; it now breaks forth in a dactylic movement, like a long rolling thunder. The hostile army stands in front of Jerusalem, like a broad dense forest. But it is soon manifest that Jerusalem has a God who cannot be defied with impunity, and who will not leave His city in the lurch at the decisive moment, like the gods of Carchemish and Calno. Jehovah is the Lord, the God of both spiritual and starry hosts. He smites down the branches of this forest of an army: sē‛ēph is a so-called piel privativum, to lop (lit. to take the branches in hand; cf., sikkēl, Isaiah 5:2); and pu'rah equals pe'urah (in Ezekiel pō'rah) is used like the Latin frons, to include both branches and foliage - in other words, the leafy branches as the ornament of the tree, or the branches as adorned with leaves. The instrument He employs is ma‛arâtzâh, his terrifying and crushing power (compare the verb in Isaiah 2:19, Isaiah 2:21). And even the lofty trunks of the forest thus cleared of branches and leaves do not remain; they lie hewn down, and the lofty ones must fall. It is just the same with the trunks, i.e., the leaders, as with the branches and the foliage, i.e., with the great crowded masses. The whole of the forest thicket (as in Isaiah 9:17) he hews down (nikkaph, third pers. piel, though it may also be niphal); and Lebanon, i.e., the army of Asshur which is now standing opposite to Mount Zion, like Lebanon with its forest of cedars, falls down through a Majestic One ('addı̄r), i.e., through Jehovah (Isaiah 33:21, cf., Psalm 76:5; Psalm 93:4). In the account of the fulfilment (Isaiah 37:36) it is the angel of the Lord (mal'ach Jehovah), who is represented as destroying the hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp in a single night. The angel of Jehovah is not a messenger of God sent from afar, but the chosen organ of the ever-present divine power.

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