Isaiah 11:12
And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) And he shall set up an ensign . . .—The thought of Isaiah 11:10 re-appears. The “signal” is, as before, “the root of Jesse,” and the exiles gather round it. In the Hebrew the “outcasts” are men, and the “dispersed” are women, the prophet thus implying that in the case of both Israel and Judah both sexes should alike be sharers in the blessings of restoration.

11:10-16 When the gospel should be publicly preached, the Gentiles would seek Christ Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, and find rest of soul. When God's time is come for the deliverance of his people, mountains of opposition shall become plains before him. God can soon turn gloomy days into glorious ones. And while we expect the Lord to gather his ancient people, and bring them home to his church, also to bring in the fulness of the Gentiles, when all will be united in holy love, let us tread the highway of holiness he has made for his redeemed. Let us wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life, looking to him to prepare our way through death, that river which separates this world from the eternal world.And he shall set up an ensign - See Isaiah 11:10. The Messiah shall stand in view of the nations, as a standard is erected by a military leader. An ensign or standard was usually lifted up on the mountains or on some elevated place (compare Isaiah 18:3); and the meaning here is, that the Messiah would be the conspicuous object around which the nations would rally.

And shall assemble - This word, אסף 'âsaph, properly means, to gather, collect, to assemble together, as fruits are collected for preservation Exodus 23:10; to collect a people together Numbers 21:16; to gather or collect gold; 2 Kings 22:4. It may also mean to gather or collect anything for destruction Jeremiah 8:13; and hence, to take out of the way, to kill, destroy; 1 Samuel 15:6. Here, it is evidently synonymous with the word 'recover' in Isaiah 11:11. It cannot be proved that it means that God will "literally" re-assemble all the scattered Jews, for the "collecting them," or regathering them to himself "as his people," though they may be still scattered among the nations, is all that the words necessarily imply. Thus when the word is used, as it is repeatedly, to denote the death of the patriarchs, where it is said they were 'gathered to their fathers,' it does not mean that they were buried in the same grave, or the same vicinity, but that they were united to them in death; they partook of the same lot; they all alike went down to the dead; Genesis 25:8; Genesis 35:29; Genesis 49:29; Numbers 20:24; Deuteronomy 32:50.

The outcasts of Israel - The name 'Israel,' applied at first to all the descendants of Jacob, came at length to denote the 'kingdom of Israel,' or of the 'ten tribes,' or of 'Ephraim,' as the tribes which revolted under Jeroboam were called. In this sense it is used in the Scriptures after the time of Jeroboam, and thus it acquired a technical signification, distinguishing it from Judah.

The dispersed of Judah - 'Judah,' also, though often used in a general sense to denote the Jews as such, without reference to the distinction in tribes, is also used technically to denote the kingdom of Judah, as distinguished from the kingdom of Israel. The tribe of Judah was much larger than Benjamin, and the name of the latter was lost in the former. A considerable part of the ten tribes returned again to their own land, with those of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin; a portion remained still in the countries of the East, and were intermingled with the other Jews who remained there. All distinctions of the tribes were gradually abolished, and there is no reason to think that the 'ten tribes,' here referred to by the name 'Israel,' have now anywhere a distinct and separate existence; see this point fully proved in a review of Dr. Grant's work on '" The Nestorians, or, the Lost Ten tribes,"' in the "Bib. Rep." for October 1841, and January 1842, by Prof. Robinson. The literal meaning here then would be, that he would gather the remains of those scattered people, whether pertaining to 'Israel' or 'Judah,' from the regions where they were dispersed.

It does not necessarily mean that they would be regathered in their distinctive capacity as 'Israel' and 'Judah,' or that the distinction would be still preserved, but that the people of God would be gathered together, and that all sources of alienation and discord would cease. The meaning, probably, is, that under the Messiah all the remains of that scattered people, in all parts of the earth, whether originally pertaining to 'Israel' or 'Judah,' should be collected into one spiritual kingdom, constituting one happy and harmonious people. To the fulfillment of this, it is not necessary to be supposed that they would be literally gathered into one place, or that they would be restored to their own land, or that they would be preserved as a distinct and separate community. The leading idea is, that the Messiah would set up a glorious kingdom in which all causes of alienation and discord would cease.

From the four corners of the earth - Chaldee, 'From the four winds of the earth.' The Septuagint renders it, 'From the four wings (πτερύγων pterugōn) of the earth.' It means, that they should be collected to God from each of the four parts of the earth - the east, the west, the north, and the south. The Hebrew word rendered here 'corners,' means properly "wings." It is applied, however, to the corner, or border of a thing, as a skirt, or mantle 1 Samuel 24:5, 1 Samuel 24:11; Deuteronomy 23:1; and hence, to the boundaries, or corners of the earth, because the earth seems to have been represented as a quadrangular plain; Ezekiel 7:2.

12. In the first restoration Judah alone was restored, with perhaps some few of Israel (the ten tribes): in the future restoration both are expressly specified (Eze 37:16-19; Jer 3:18). To Israel are ascribed the "outcasts" (masculine); to Judah the "dispersed" (feminine), as the former have been longer and more utterly castaways (though not finally) than the latter (Joh 7:52). The masculine and feminine conjoined express the universality of the restoration.

from the four corners of the earth—Hebrew, "wings of the earth."

For the nations; all nations, Jews and Gentiles, who shall then embrace the true faith and the Messiah, as was said, Isaiah 11:10.

The outcasts; that were driven and banished out of their own land into foreign parts, as the word implies.

Of Israel; strictly so called, or of the ten tribes, as is manifest, both from their opposition to Judah in this verse, and from the mention of Ephraim in the next verse. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations,.... For the gathering of them, for the calling of the Gentiles, that is, the Lord would do it; he who before is said to set his hand a second time to recover his people, whether among Jews or Gentiles; this he has done in the ministration of the Gospel, in which Christ is lifted up and held forth as the only Saviour of lost sinners, the sole author and glorious Captain of salvation, for them to flee to, and lay hold on; and this he still does, and will continue to do, until all his people are gathered in from the several parts of the world:

and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel; so those of his people among the ten tribes, that were scattered about in various countries, when the Gospel was preached throughout the world by the apostles, were called by it, and gathered into Gospel churches among the Gentiles, of whom the first churches of Christ consisted; and so it will be in the latter day, when all Israel shall be saved:

and gather together the dispersed of Judah; the Jews, scattered about like lost sheep, among each of the nations of the world; some of which were looked up, and found out, and brought into the sheepfold, in the first times of Christianity; and others will be in the latter day:

even from the four corners of the earth: which shows that this cannot intend the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, which was only from one corner of the earth; The Targum is,

"from the four winds of the earth;''

a phrase the same with that in Revelation 7:1.

And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. The meaning of the “signal” here is explained by ch. Isaiah 49:22; it is a signal to the nations to release or even to bring back the exiles.

the dispersed of Judah] The participle in Hebr. is fem. This may be “a short way of expressing that both sexes will be included” (Cheyne). Giesebrecht, however, explains it by the favourite emblem (with later writers) of a scattered flock (Ezekiel 34:4 ff.; Zephaniah 3:19).

the four corners (lit. “edges,” Deuteronomy 22:12) of the earth] The expression occurs only in Ezekiel 7:2 (of the land); Job 37:3; Job 38:13 (cf. Isaiah 24:16).Verse 12. - He shall set up an ensign for the nations (comp. ver. 10). Christ is the Ensign. God sets it up to draw the nations to his standard. The outcasts of Israel... the dispersed of Judah. "Outcasts" is masculine, "the dispersed" feminine. The meaning is, "He shall gather together the outcasts and dispersed of both Israel and Judah, both male and female." The fruit of righteousness is peace, which now reigns in humanity under the rule of the Prince of Peace, and even in the animal world, with nothing whatever to disturb it. "And the wolf dwells with the lamb, and the leopard lies down with the kid; and calf and lion and stalled ox together: a little boy drives them. And cow and bear go to the pasture; their young ones lie down together: and the lion eats shopped straw like the ox. And the suckling plays by the hole of the adder, and the weaned child stretches its hand to the pupil of the basilisk-viper. They will not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the land is filled with knowledge of Jehovah, like the waters covering the sea." The fathers, and such commentators as Luther, Calvin, and Vitringa, have taken all these figures from the animal world as symbolical. Modern rationalists, on the other hand, understand them literally, but regard the whole as a beautiful dream and wish. It is a prophecy, however, the realization of which is to be expected on this side of the boundary between time and eternity, and, as Paul has shown in Romans 8, is an integral link in the predestined course of the history of salvation (Hengstenberg, Umbreit, Hofmann, Drechsler). There now reign among irrational creatures, from the greatest to the least, - even among such as are invisible, - fierce conflicts and bloodthirstiness of the most savage kind. But when the Son of David enters upon the full possession of His royal inheritance, the peace of paradise will be renewed, and all that is true in the popular legends of the golden age be realized and confirmed. This is what the prophet depicts in such lovely colours. The wolf and lamb, those two hereditary foes, will be perfectly reconciled then. The leopard will let the teazing kid lie down beside it. The lion, between the calf and stalled ox, neither seizes upon its weaker neighbour, nor longs for the fatter one. Cow and bear graze together, whilst their young ones lie side beside in the pasture. The lion no longer thirsts for blood, but contents itself, like the ox, with chopped straw. The suckling pursues its sport (pilpel of שׁעע, mulcere) by the adder's hole, and the child just weaned stretches out its hand boldly and fearlessly to me'ūrath tziph‛ōni. It is evident from Jeremiah 8:17 that tziph‛ōni is the name of a species of snake. According to Aquila and the Vulgate, it is basiliskos, serpens regulus, possibly from tzaph, to pipe or hiss (Ges., Frst); for Isidorus, in his Origg. xii. 4, says, Sibilus idem est qui et regulus; sibilo enim occidit, antequam mordeat vel exurat. For the hapax leg. hâdâh, the meaning dirigere, tendere, is established by the Arabic; but there is all the more uncertainty about the meaning of the hap. leg. מאורה. According to the parallel חר, it seems to signify the hollow (Syr., Vulg., lxx, κοίτη): whether from אּוּר equals עוּר, from which comes מערה; or from אור, the light-hole (like מאור, which occurs in the Mishna, Ohaloth xiii. 1) or opening where a cavern opens to the light of day. It is probable, however, that me'ūrâh refers to something that exerts an attractive influence upon the child, either the "blending of colours" (Saad. renders tziph‛oni, errakas', the motley snake), or better still, the "pupil of the eye" (Targum), taking the word as a feminine of mâ'ōr, the light of the eye (b. Erubin 55b - the power of vision). The look of a snake, more especially of the basilisk (not merely the basilisk-lizard, but also the basilisk-viper), was supposed to have a paralyzing and bewitching influence; but now the snake will lose this pernicious power (Isaiah 65:25), and the basilisk become so tame and harmless, as to let children handle its sparkling eyes as if they were jewels. All this, as we should say with Luthardt and Hofmann (Schriftbeweis, ii. 2, 567), is only colouring which the hand of the prophet employs, for the purpose of painting the peace of that glorified state which surpasses all possibility of description; and it is unquestionably necessary to take the thought of the promise in a spiritual sense, without adhering literally to the medium employed in expressing it. But, on the other hand, we must guard against treating the description itself as merely a drapery thrown around the actual object; whereas it is rather the refraction of the object in the mind of the prophet himself, and therefore a manifestation of the true nature of that which he actually saw.

But are the animals to be taken as the subject in Isaiah 11:9 also? The subject that most naturally suggests itself is undoubtedly the animals, of which a few that are alarming and destructive to men have been mentioned just before. And the fact that they really are thought of as the subject, is confirmed by Isaiah 65:25, where Isaiah 11:6-9 is repeated in a compendious form. The idea that ירעוּ requires men as the subject, is refuted by the common רעה חיּה (compare the parallel promise in Ezekiel 34:25, which rests upon Hosea 2:20). That the term yashchithu can be applied to animals, is evident from Jeremiah 2:30, and may be assumed as a matter of course. But if the animals are the subject, har kodshi (my holy mountain) is not Zion-Moriah, upon which wild beasts never made their home in historical times; but, as the generalizing col (all) clearly shows, the whole of the holy mountain-land of Israel: har kodshi has just this meaning in Isaiah 57:13 (cf., Psalm 78:54; Exodus 15:17). The fact that peace prevails in the animal world, and also peace between man and beast, is then attributed to the universal prevalence of the knowledge of God, in consequence of which that destructive hostility between the animal world and man, by which estrangement and apostasy from God were so often punished (2 Kings 17:25; Ezekiel 14:15, etc.: see also Isaiah 7:24), have entirely come to an end. The meaning of "the earth" is also determined by that of "all my holy mountain." The land of Israel, the dominion of the Son of David in the more restricted sense, will be from this time forward the paradisaical centre, as it were, of the whole earth - a prelude of its future state of perfect and universal glorification (Isaiah 6:3, "all the earth"). It has now become full of "the knowledge of Jehovah," i.e., of that experimental knowledge which consists in the fellowship of love (דעה, like לדה, is a secondary form of דעת, the more common infinitive or verbal noun from ידע: Ges. 133, 1), like the waters which cover the sea, i.e., bottom of the sea (compare Habakkuk 2:14, where lâda‛ath is a virtual accusative, full of that which is to be known). "Cover:" cissâh l' (like sâcac l', Psalm 91:4), signifies to afford a covering to another; the Lamed is frequently introduced with a participle (in Arabic regularly) as a sign of the object (Ewald, 292, e), and the omission of the article in the case of mecassim is a natural consequence of the inverted order of the words.

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