Isaiah 11:6
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatted calf together; and a little child shall lead them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb . . .—It is significant of the prophet’s sympathy with the animal world that he thinks of that also as sharing in the blessings of redemption. Rapine and cruelty even there were to him signs of an imperfect order, or the consequences of a fall, even as to St. Paul they witnessed of a “bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21). The very instincts of the brute creation should be changed in “the age to come,” and “the lion should eat straw like the ox.” Men have discussed the question whether and when the words shall receive a literal fulfilment, and the answer to that question lies behind the veil. It may be that what we call the laws of animal nature in these respects are tending to a final goal, of which the evolution that has tamed the dog, the bull, the horse, is as it were a pledge and earnest (Soph., Antig., 342-351). It may be, however, that each form of brute cruelty was to the prophet’s mind the symbol of a human evil, and the imagery admits, therefore, of an allegorical rather than a literal interpretation. The classical student will remember the striking parallelism of the fourth Eclogue of Virgil, which, in its turn, may have been a far-off echo of Isaiah’s thoughts, floating in the air or embodied in apocryphal Sibylline Oracles among the Jews of Alexandria and Rome.

Isaiah 11:6-8. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, &c. — “We have here the illustrious consequence of the economy of this divine kingdom, this kingdom of righteousness, equity, faith, and grace.” The expressions which describe it are metaphorical: they represent the subjects of it under the figure of a flock, lying down and feeding under the care of the Messiah, as the great and chief shepherd, in the utmost peace, harmony, and security. Men of fierce, cruel, and ungovernable dispositions shall be so transformed by the preaching of the gospel, and by the grace of Christ, that they shall become most humble, gentle, and tractable, and shall no more vex and persecute those meek and poor ones, mentioned Isaiah 11:4; but shall become such as they. Yea, the most inveterate enemies of the kingdom of God, such as the persecuting Saul, shall be brought into its communion, having laid down their cruelty, barbarity, and ferocity, their inclination to hurt, their craft and subtlety; and not only so, but this kingdom also shall be purged from all offences, from all evils and instruments of malice. For the people, being enlightened with truth, and renewed by grace, shall put off their barbarous and depraved manners; shall willingly subject themselves to the rule of the Messiah, with meekness and humility, and shall fulfil the law of brotherly love in all the offices of good-will. This is the sum of the present passage, divested of metaphor. For, it is evident, as Michaelis has observed, that a mystical sense is not intended to be assigned to each of these images, or figurative expressions, and a particular and partial truth to be deduced therefrom; but a general doctrine is to be learned from the whole, namely, that the kingdom of the Messiah is a kingdom of peace, as well as of righteousness; of happiness, as well as of holiness; and that the natural tendency of his religion is to produce meekness, gentleness, long- suffering, and the exercise of mutual benevolence among men, as well as piety in all its branches toward God. This indeed is declared in plain words in the next verse.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.The wolf also - In this, and the following verses, the prophet describes the effect of his reign in producing peace and tranquility on the earth. The description is highly poetical, and is one that is common in ancient writings in describing a golden age. The two leading ideas are those of "peace" and "security." The figure is taken from the condition of animals of all descriptions living in a state of harmony, where those which are by nature defenseless, and which are usually made the prey of the strong, are suffered to live in security. By nature the wolf preys upon the lamb, and the leopard upon the kid, and the adder is venomous, and the bear, and the cow, and the lion, and the ox, cannot live together. But if a state of things should arise, where all this hostility would cease; where the wild animals would lay aside their ferocity, and where the feeble and the gentle would be safe; where the adder would cease to be venomous, and where all would be so mild and harmless that a little child would be safe, and could lead even the most ferocious animals, that state would represent the reign of the Messiah. Under his dominion, such a change would be produced as that those who were by nature violent, severe, and oppressive; those whose disposition is illustrated by the ferocious and bloodthirsty propensities of the lion and the leopard, and by the poison of the adder, would be changed and subdued, and would be disposed to live in peace and harmony with others. This is the "general" idea of the passage. We are not to cut the interpretation to the quick, and to press the expressions to know what particular class of people are represented by the lion, the bear, or the adder. The "general" image that is before the prophet's mind is that of peace and safety, "such as that would be" if a change were to be produced in wild animals, making them tame, and peaceful, and harmless.

This description of a golden age is one that is common in Oriental writers, where the wild beasts are represented as growing tame; where serpents are harmless; and where all is plenty, peace, and happiness. Thus Jones, in his commentary on Asiatic poetry, quotes from an Arabic poet, "Ibn Onein," p. 380:

Justitia, a qua mansuetus fit lupus fame astrictus,

Esuriens, licet hinnulum candidurn videat -

'Justice, by which the ravening wolf, driven by hunger, becomes tame, although he sees a white kid.' Thus, also, Ferdusi, a Persian poet:

Rerum Dominus, Mahmud, rex. potens,

Ad cujus aquam potum veniunt simul agnus et lupus -

'Mahmud, mighty king, lord of events, to whose fountain the lamb and the wolf come to drink.' Thus Virgil, Eclogue iv. 21:

Ipsae lactae domum referent distenta capellae

Ubera; nec magnos metuent armenta leones -

Home their full udders, goats, unurged shall bear,

Nor shall the herd the lordly lion fear.

And immediately after:

Occidet et serpens, et fallax herba veneni

continued...

6. wolf … lamb—Each animal is coupled with that one which is its natural prey. A fit state of things under the "Prince of Peace" (Isa 65:25; Eze 34:25; Ho 2:18). These may be figures for men of corresponding animal-like characters (Eze 22:27; 38:13; Jer 5:6; 13:23; Mt 7:15; Lu 10:3). Still a literal change in the relations of animals to man and each other, restoring the state in Eden, is a more likely interpretation. Compare Ge 2:19, 20, with Ps 8:6-8, which describes the restoration to man, in the person of "the Son of man," of the lost dominion over the animal kingdom of which he had been designed to be the merciful vicegerent under God, for the good of his animal subjects (Ro 8:19-22). The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, & c.; the creatures shall be restored to that state of innocency in which they were before the fall of man. But this is not to be understood literally, which is a gross and vain conceit of some Jews; but spiritually and metaphorically, as is evident. And the sense of the metaphor is this, Men of fierce, and cruel, and ungovernable dispositions, shall be so transformed by the preaching of the gospel, and by the grace of Christ, that they shall become most humble, and gentle, and tractable, and shall no more vex and persecute those meek and poor ones mentioned Isaiah 11:4, but shall become such as they; of which we have instances in Saul being made a Paul, and in the rugged jailer, Ac 16, and in innumerable others. But how can this be applied to Hezekiah with any colour?

A little child shall lead them; they will submit their proud and rebellious wills to the conduct and command of the meanest persons that speak to them in Christ’s name. And the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,.... This, and the three following verses Isaiah 11:7, describe the peaceableness of the Messiah's kingdom; and which the Targum introduces in this manner,

"in the days of the Messiah of Israel, peace shall be multiplied in the earth.''

The wild and tame creatures shall agree together, and the former shall become the latter; which is not to be understood literally of the savage creatures, as if they should lose their nature, and be restored, as it is said, to their paradisiacal estate, which is supposed to be the time of the restitution of all things; but figuratively of men, comparable to wild creatures, who through the power of divine grace, accompanying the word preached, shall become tame, mild, meek, and humble; such who have been as ravenous wolves, have worried Christ's sheep, made havoc of them, breathing out slaughter and threatenings against them, as did Saul, through converting grace, become as gentle and harmless as lambs, and take up their residence in Christ's fold, and dwell with, yea, some of them even feed, Christ's lambs and sheep, as the above mentioned person:

and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; such who are like the leopard, for the fierceness of his nature, and the variety of his spots; who can no more change their hearts and their actions, than that creature can change its nature and its spots; are so wrought upon by the power of divine grace, as to drop their rage against the saints, alter their course of life, and attend on the word and ordinances, lie down beside the shepherds' tents, where the church feeds her kids, or young converts:

and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; either dwell and feed together, or lie down together, or walk together, since it follows:

and a little child shall lead them; become through the grace of God so tractable, that they shall be led, guided, and governed by the ministers of the Gospel, Christ's babes and sucklings, to whom he reveals the great things of his Gospel, and out of whose mouths he ordains praise. Bohlius (a) interprets this little child of Christ himself, by whom they should be led and directed, see Isaiah 9:6 and the following passages are referred to the times of the Messiah by the Jewish writers (b); and Maimonides (c) in particular observes, that they are not to be understood literally, as if the custom and order of things in the world would cease, or that things would be renewed as at the creation, but in a parabolical and enigmatical sense; and interprets them of the Israelites dwelling safely among the wicked of the nations of the world, comparable to the wild beasts of the field.

(This verse may apply to the future state when all things will be restored to their original state before man fell. By Adam's sin, death and bloodshed were introduced into the creation. Romans 5:12. In the final state these will be removed and the wild nature of animals become tame. Editor.)

(a) Comment. Bibl. Rab. in Thesaur. Dissert. Philolog. par. 1. p. 752. (b) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 25. 3. Baal Hatturim in Deuteronomy 11. 25. (c) Hilchot Melachim, c. 12. sect. 1. & Moreh Nevochim, par 3. c. 11. p. 354.

The {c} wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

(c) Men because of their wicked affections are named by the names of beasts, in which the same affections reign: but Christ by his Spirit will reform them, and work in them such mutual charity, that they will be like lambs, favouring and loving one another and cast off all their cruel affections, Isa 65:25.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6–8. This remarkable prophecy of the idyllic state of the brute creation is imitated in the Sibylline Oracles (3:766 ff.) and more faintly echoed in the Fourth and Fifth Eclogues of Vergil. Similarly, an Arabic poet (Ibn Onein, quoted by Ges.) speaks of “a righteousness, through which the hungry wolf becomes tame.”—The description is not to be interpreted allegorically, as if the wild beasts were merely symbols for cruel and rapacious men. Neither perhaps is it to be taken quite literally. It is rather a poetic presentation of the truth that the regeneration of human society is to be accompanied by a restoration of the harmony of creation (cf. Romans 8:19-22). The fact that tame and wild animals are regularly bracketed together shews that the main idea is the establishment of peace between man and the animals (Hosea 2:20); the animals that are now wild shall no longer prey on those that are domesticated for the service of man. But the striking feature of the prophecy is that the predatory beasts are not conceived as extirpated (as Ezekiel 34:25; Ezekiel 34:28) but as having their habits and instincts changed.Verses 6-9. - Messiah's kingdom, when fully realized, shall be one of perfect peace. "They shall neither hurt nor destroy in all his holy mountain." Primarily, no doubt, the passage is figurative, and points to harmony among men, who, in Messiah's kingdom, shall no longer prey one upon another (see especially ver. 9). But, from the highest spiritual standpoint, the figure itself becomes a reality, and it is seen that, if in the "new heavens and new earth" there is an animal creation, it will be fitting that there harmony should equally prevail among the inferior creation. Human sin may not have introduced rapine and violence among the beasts - at least, geologists tell us that animals preyed one upon another long before the earth was the habitation of man - but still man's influence may prevail to eradicate the beasts' natural impulses and educate them to something higher. Already domestication produces an accord and harmony that is in a certain sense against nature. May not this be carried further in the course of ages, and Isaiah's picture have a literal fulfillment? Jerome's scorn of the notion as a poetic dream has about it something harsh and untender. Will not God realize all, and more than all, of love and happiness that poets' dreams can reach to? Verse 6. - The wolf... the leopard... the young lion... the bear are the only ferocious animals of Palestine, where the tiger, the crocodile, the alligator, and the jaguar are unknown. That the Palestinian bear was carnivorous, and a danger to man, appears by Lamentations 3:10; Daniel 7:5; Amos 5:19. A little child shall lead them. Man's superiority over the brute creation shall continue, and even be augmented. The most powerful beasts shall submit to the control of a child. 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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