Isaiah 17:11
In the day shall you make your plant to grow, and in the morning shall you make your seed to flourish: but the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) In the day shalt thou make.—Better, thou makest, or, thou fencest, thy plant. The alliance between Syria and Ephraim is compared in the rapidity of its growth with the “gardens of Adonis.” All the “harvest heaps” from such a planting would end, not in the wonted joy of harvest (Isaiah 9:3), but in “grief and incurable pain” There is no sufficient evidence for the marginal reading of the Authorised version.

17:1-11 Sin desolates cities. It is strange that great conquerors should take pride in being enemies to mankind; but it is better that flocks should lie down there, than that they should harbour any in open rebellion against God and holiness. The strong holds of Israel, the kingdom of the ten tribes, will be brought to ruin. Those who are partakers in sin, are justly made partakers in ruin. The people had, by sins, made themselves ripe for ruin; and their glory was as quickly cut down and taken away by the enemy, as the corn is out of the field by the husbandman. Mercy is reserved in the midst of judgment, for a remnant. But very few shall be marked to be saved. Only here and there one was left behind. But they shall be a remnant made holy. The few that are saved were awakened to return to God. They shall acknowledge his hand in all events; they shall give him the glory due to his name. To bring us to this, is the design of his providence, as he is our Maker; and the work of his grace, as he is the Holy One of Israel. They shall look off from their idols, the creatures of their own fancy. We have reason to account those afflictions happy, which part between us and our sins. The God of our salvation is the Rock of our strength; and our forgetfulness and unmindfulness of him are at the bottom of all sin. The pleasant plants, and shoots from a foreign soil, are expressions for strange and idolatrous worship, and the vile practices connected therewith. Diligence would be used to promote the growth of these strange slips, but all in vain. See the evil and danger of sin, and its certain consequences.In the day ... - Thou shalt cultivate it assiduously and constantly. Thou shalt be at special pains that it may be watered and pruned, in order that it may produce abundantly.

And in the morning - With early care and attention - denoting the pains that would be bestowed on the young plant.

The harvest shall be a heap - The margin reads this, 'the harvest shall be removed in the day of inheritance, rendering it as if the word נד nêd usually meaning a heap, were derived from נוד nûd, to shake, move, wander; or, as if it were to be removed. Probably the translation in the text is correct; and the sense is, 'When from the plant which was so beautiful and valuable, and which you cherished with so much care, you expected to obtain a rich harvest, you had only sorrow and inexpressible disappointment.' The figure used here is supposed by Rosenmuller to be that of hendiadys (ἕν διὰ δυοῖν hen dia duoin)by which the phrases 'shall be an heap,' and 'desperate sorrow,' are to be taken together, meaning 'the heap of the harvest shall be inexpressible sorrow.'

In the day of grief - The word rendered 'grief' here (נחלה nachălâh) means, properly, "inheritance, heirship, possession," and should have been so rendered here. It means that in the day when they "hoped" to possess the result of their planting, or in the time of the usual harvest, they would obtain only grief and disappointment.

And desperate sorrow - The word rendered 'desperate' (אנשׁ 'ânash), denotes that which is "weak, mortal, incurable" Job 34:6; Jeremiah 17:16; Jeremiah 30:12, Jeremiah 30:15. The sense here is, that there would be grievous disappointment, and that there would be no remedy for it; and the idea of the whole is, that calamities were coming upon the nation which would blast all their hopes, and destroy all their prospects. The prophecy was fulfilled in the invasion by Tiglath-pileser, and the army of the Assyrians.

The twelfth verse commences a new prophecy, which has no connection with that which precedes it; and which in itself gives no certain indication of the time when it was uttered, or of the people to which it relates. It is a broken and detached piece, and is evidently the description of some army rushing to conquest, and confident of success, but which was to be overtaken with sudden calamity. The entire description is so applicable to the invasion of the land of Judah by the army of Sennacherib, and his overthrow by the angel of Yahweh, that by the common consent of interpreters it has been regarded as referring to it (see the notes at Isaiah 10). But when it was spoken, or why it was placed here, is unknown. It may be added that many commentators, and, among the rest, Gesenius, have supposed that the following chapter is a part of this prophecy. The general sense of the prophecy is, that numerous hostile nations would overrun Palestine, but that Yahweh would destroy them all.

11. In the day … thy plant—rather, "In the day of thy planting" [Horsley].

shalt … make … grow—Maurer translates, "Thou didst fence it," namely, the pleasure-ground. The parallel clause, "Make … flourish," favors English Version. As soon as thou plantest, it grows.

in the morning—that is, immediately after; so in Ps 90:14, the Hebrew, "in the morning," is translated "early."

but … shall be a heap—rather, "but (promising as was the prospect) the harvest is gone" [Horsley].

in … day of grief—rather, "in the day of (expected) possession" [Maurer]. "In the day of inundation" [Horsley].

of desperate sorrow—rather, "And the sorrow shall be desperate or irremediable." In English Version "heap" and "sorrow" may be taken together by hendiadys. "The heap of the harvest shall be desperate sorrow" [Rosenmuller].

In the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish; thou shalt from day to day, beginning early in the morning, use all care and diligence that what thou hast planted and sown may thrive; and thou shalt see some effect of thy labours, and some hopes of success.

But the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow: the sense of the words thus rendered is this, But in the time of your grief, &c., or when this grievous calamity shall come, all your harvest shall be but one heap, which in itself is very inconsiderable, and is easily carried away by your enemies. But the place is and may be otherwise rendered, and that very agreeably both to the words and order of the Hebrew text; But the heap (or, heaps, the singular number being most commonly put for the plural) of the harvest (i.e. instead of those heaps of corn which thou didst expect, and which men usually reap in harvest)

in the day or time (to wit, of the harvest; or, in the day of calamity, of which I have spoken, Isaiah 17:4,9; or, in a day, i.e. speedily or suddenly) shall be (or, thou shalt have)

grief and desperate sorrow. This shall be all thy harvest, and the event of thy labours. In the day shall thou make thy plant to grow,.... Not that it is in the power of man to make it grow; but the sense is, that all means and methods should be used to make it grow, no cost nor pains should be spared:

and in the morning shall thou make thy seed to flourish; which may denote both diligence in the early care of it, and seeming promising success; and yet all should be in vain, and to no purpose:

but the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief; or "of inheritance"; when it was about to be possessed and enjoyed, according to expectation, it shall be all thrown together in a heap, and be spoiled by the enemy: or, "the harvest" shall be "removed in the day of inheritance" (w); just when the fruit is ripe, and going to be gathered in, the enemy shall come and take it all away; and so, instead of being a time of joy, as harvest usually is, it will be a time of grief and trouble,

and of desperate sorrow too, or "deadly"; which will leave them in despair, without hope of subsistence for the present year, or of having another harvest hereafter, the land coming into the hands of their enemies.

(w) "recedit messis in die hereditatis sive possessionis"; so some in Vatablus.

In the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish: but the harvest shall be a heap in the day {n} of grief and of desperate sorrow.

(n) As the Lord threatens the wicked in his law, Le 26:16.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. The verse reads: In the day when thou plantest thou makest it to grow, and in the morning when thou sowest thou makest it to blossom, (but) the harvest disappears in a day of sickness and incurable sorrow. “However successful your enterprise may seem in its early stages, it is doomed to failure.” For “makest it to grow” we may render with R.V. “hedgest it in.” The words “plant” and “seed” must be construed alike, both are taken above as infinitives. The word for “disappears” means “heap” in Exodus 15:8; Psalm 33:7; Psalm 78:13 and so A.V. here. But here it is better taken as a verb; R.V. rightly “fleeth away.”Verse 11. - In the day; or, in a day (Kay). Shalt thou make; rather, thou makest. Each new slip that is planted is forced to take root and grow and flourish at once; the next morning it is expected to have formed its seed and reached perfection. So the harvest is hurried on; but when it is reached, the day of visitation has arrived - a day of grief and of desperate sorrow. Second turn: "And it comes to pass in that day, the glory of Jacob wastes away, and the fat of his flesh grows thin. And it will be as when a reaper grasps the stalks of wheat, and his arm mows off the ears; and it will be as with one who gathers together ears in the valley of Rephaim. Yet a gleaning remains from it, as at the olive-beating: two, three berries high up at the top; four, five in its, the fruit tree's, branches, saith Jehovah the God of Israel. At that day will man look up to his Creator, and his eyes will look to the Holy One of Israel. And he will not look to the altars, the work of his hands; and what his fingers have made he will not regard, neither the Astartes nor the sun-gods." This second turn does not speak of Damascus, but simply of Israel, and in fact of all Israel, the range of vision widening out from Israel in the more restricted sense, so as to embrace the whole. It will all disappear, with the exception of a small remnant; but the latter will return. Thus "a remnant will return," the law of Israel's history, which is here shown first of all in its threatening aspect, and then in its more promising one. The reputation and prosperity to which the two kingdoms were raised by Jeroboam II and Uzziah would pass away. Israel was ripe for judgment, like a field of corn for the harvest; and it would be as when a reaper grasps the stalks that have shot up, and cuts off the ears. קציר is not used elliptically for קציר אישׁ (Gesenius), nor is it a definition of time (Luzzatto), nor an accusative of the object (Knobel), but a noun formed like נביא, פליל, פריץ, and used in the sense of reaper (kōtzēr in other cases).

(Note: Instead of kâtzar (to cut off, or shorten), they now say kâratz in the whole of the land to the east of the Jordan, which gives the idea of sawing off - a much more suitable one where the Syrian sickle is used.)

The figure suggested here is more fully expanded in John 4 and Revelation 14. Hardly a single one will escape the judgment: just as in the broad plain of Rephaim, which slopes off to the south-west of Jerusalem as far as Bethlehem, where it is covered with rich fields of wheat, the collectors of ears leave only one or two ears lying scattered here and there.

Nevertheless a gleaning of Israel ("in it," viz., in Jacob, Isaiah 17:4; Isaiah 10:22) will be left, just as when the branches of the olive tree, which have been already cleared with the hand, are still further shaken with a stick, there still remain a few olives upon the highest branch (two, three; cf., 2 Kings 9:32), or concealed under the foliage of the branches. "Its, the fruit tree's, branches:" this is an elegant expression, as, for example, in Proverbs 14:13; the carrying over of the ה to the second word is very natural in both passages (see Ges. 121, b). This small remnant will turn with stedfast gaze to the living God, as is becoming in man as such (hâ'âdâm), and not regard the idols as worthy of any look at all, at least of any reverential look. As hammânim are here images of the sun-god חמן בעל, which is well known from the Phoenician monuments,

(Note: See Levy, Phnizisches Wrterbuch (1864), p. 19; and Otto Strauss on Nahum, p. xxii. ss.)

ashērim (for which we find, though more rarely, 'ashēroth) apparently signifies images of the moon-goddess. And the combination of "Baal, Asherah, and all the host of heaven" in 2 Kings 23:4, as well as the surname "queen of heaven" in Jeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 44:18-19, appears to require this (Knobel). But the latest researches have proved that 'Ashērâh is rather the Semitic Aphrodite, and therefore the planet Venus, which was called the "little luck" (es-sa‛d el-as'gar)

(Note: See Krehl, Religion der vorislamischen Araber (1863), p. 11.)

by the Arabs, in distinction from Musteri (Jupiter),

(Note: This was the tutelar deity of Damascus; see Comm. on Job, Appendix.)

or "the great luck." And with this the name 'Asherah the "lucky" (i.e., the source of luck or prosperity) and the similar surname given to the Assyrian Istar agree;

(Note: "Ishtar," says Rawlinson in his Five Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World, - a work which challenges criticism through its dazzling results - "Ishtar is the goddess who rejoices mankind, and her most common epithet is Amra, 'the fortunate' or 'the happy.' But otherwise her epithets are vague and general, insomuch that she is often scarcely distinguishable from Beltis (the wife of Bel-Nimrod)." Vid., vol. i. p. 175 (1862).)

for 'Asherah is the very same goddess as 'Ashtoreth, whose name is thoroughly Arian, and apparently signifies the star (Ved. stir equals star; Zend. stare; Neo-Pers. sitâre, used chiefly for the morning star), although Rawlinson (without being able to suggest any more acceptable interpretation) speaks of this view as "not worthy of much attention."

(Note: The planet Venus, according to a Midrash relating to Genesis 6:1-2, is 'Istehar transferred to the sky; and this is the same as Zuhare (see Geiger, Was hat Muhammed, etc. 1833, pp. 107-109).)

Thus Asherim is used to signify the bosquets (shrubberies) or trees dedicated to the Semitic Aphrodite (Deuteronomy 16:21; compare the verbs used to signify their removal, גדע, כרת, נתשׁ); but here it probably refers to her statues or images

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