Isaiah 24:15
Why glorify you the LORD in the fires, even the name of the LORD God of Israel in the isles of the sea.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) Wherefore glorify ye the Lord in the fires.—The last word, which is identical in form with the Urim of the high priest’s breastplate, has been very differently interpreted:—(1) Taking it in the sense of “light,” it has been taken as meaning the east, as contrasted with the “isles of the sea” as a synonym for the west, and so standing parallel to the familiar phrase “from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same” (Malachi 1:11; Isaiah 59:19), and, we may add, to the like formula in Assyrian inscriptions, e.g., that of Esarhaddon (Records of the Past, iii. 111). So Homer, the dawn and the sun” (Il, xii. 239) as a phrase for the East; and our Orient and East have substantially the same significance. (2) It has been rendered simply “regions,” or “countries” (Cheyne). (3) It has been interpreted of the “fiery trial” of tribulation, or of the “light” of Divine truth. Of these, (1) has the merit of being more in harmony with the primary meaning of the word, and giving a more vivid antithesis. The “isles of the sea” we have met in Isaiah 11:11.

Isaiah 24:15. Wherefore glorify ye the Lord — These seem to be the words of the prophet directing and exciting God’s people to glorify him in their afflictions, because of that deliverance which he had promised, and would assuredly grant them; in the fires — When you are in the furnace of affliction. But, as the word בארים, here translated, in the fires, is not used elsewhere in Scripture, in this sense, others render it, in the valleys; and others again, in the holes, or caves: as if he had said, Glorify ye the Lord, who are forced to hide yourselves in secret places. Possibly, however, the word may be better rendered, for lights, or illuminations, which may be understood, either of the light of the truth which God would reveal to them, or of the comfort which God would confer upon them, light being frequently taken in both senses in Scripture. For this Hebrew word, in all other places of Scripture where it is found, signifies the Urim, which was in the high-priest’s breast-plate, and which properly signifies lights or illuminations, as both Jews and Christians understand it: see note on Exodus 28:30. Add to this, that this part of the prophecy seems to concern the days of the gospel, and that light which the Jews should then receive by the Messiah, of whom the high-priest, with his ephod and urim, was a type. Thus understood, this is an exhortation to the converted Jews to bless God for the true Urim, even for Christ and the gospel. The name of the Lord in the isles of the sea — In remote countries beyond the sea, which in Scripture are commonly called isles. It is a just observation of Mr. Scott, that “the chief accomplishment of this prophecy seems to have been after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. At that season there was a small company like the gleanings of the vine, or of the olive, which had embraced Christianity; and wherever they were dispersed among the nations, and in the isles of the sea, they lifted up their voice in songs of praise, while they beheld the majesty of God displayed in accomplishing these predictions; and mingled thanksgivings with their fervent prayers; nay, they excited one another to glorify God in the fiery trial of persecution, and though banished to the remotest regions. The destruction of Jerusalem was exceedingly conducive to the establishment of the Christian Church; and, in this respect, was the subject of joy and praise to the primitive Christians.”24:13-15 There shall be a remnant preserved from the general ruin, and it shall be a devout and pious remnant. These few are dispersed; like the gleanings of the olive tree, hid under the leaves. The Lord knows those that are his; the world does not. When the mirth of carnal worldlings ceases, the joy of the saints is as lively as ever, because the covenant of grace, the fountain of their comforts, and the foundation of their hopes, never fails. Those who rejoice in the Lord can rejoice in tribulation, and by faith may triumph when all about them are in tears. They encourage their fellow-sufferers to do likewise, even those who are in the furnace of affliction. Or, in the valleys, low, dark, miry places. In every fire, even the hottest, in every place, even the remotest, let us keep up our good thoughts of God. If none of these trials move us, then we glorify the Lord in the fires.Wherefore glorify ye the Lord - The prophet, in this verse, calls upon the people to join in the praise of Yahweh wherever they are scattered. In the previous verse he describes the scattered few who were left in the land, or who had escaped to the adjacent islands in the sea, as celebrating the praises of God where they were. In this verse he calls on all to join in this wherever they were scattered.

In the fires - Margin, 'Valleys.' The Septuagint reads, Ἐν τοῖς νήσοις En tois nēsois - 'In the islands.' The Chaldee, 'Therefore, when light shall come to the just, they shall glorify the Lord.' Lowth supposes that the word: בארים bâ'uriym should have been באיים bâ'iyiym, 'in the islands,' or 'coasts.' But the MSS. do not give authority for this reading; the only authority which Lowth refers to being that of the Septuagint. Other conjectures have been made by others, but all without any authority from MSS. The Hebrew world in the plural form does not occur elsewhere in the Scriptures. The proper signification of the word אור 'ôr is light, and it is applied

(a) to daylight, or daybreak, 1 Samuel 14:36; Nehemiah 8:3;

(b) to light from daybreak to mid-day, Job 24:14;

(c) the sun, Job 31:26; Job 37:21;

(d) light as the emblem of happiness;

(e) light as the emblem of knowledge is also used to denote fire, Ezekiel 5:2; Isaiah 44:16; Isaiah 47:14,

In the plural form it is applied, in connection with the word "Thummim," to the gems or images which were on the breastplate of the high priest, and from which responses were obtained. Exodus 28:30 : 'And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim (האוּרים hâ'ûriym) and the Thummim' (compare Leviticus 8:8; Ezra 2:63). Probably it was thus used to denote the splendor or beauty of the gems there set, or perhaps the light or instruction which was the result of consulting the oracle. The proper meaning of the word is, however, light, and it usually and naturally suggests the idea of the morning light, the aurora; perhaps, also, the northern light, or the aurora borealis. It in no instance means caves, or valleys. Vitringa supposed it referred to caves, and that the address was to the "Troglodytes," or those who had been driven from their homes, and compelled to take up their residence in caves. The word probably refers either to the regions of the morning light, the rising of the sun; or of the northern light, the aurora borealis; and in either case, the reference is doubtless to those who would be carried away to Babylon, and who were called on there by the prophet to glorify God. 'In those regions of light, where the morning dawns; or where the northern skies are illuminated at night, there glorify God' (see the note at Isaiah 14:13). The reasons for this opinion are,

(1) That such is the natural and proper sense of the word. It properly refers to light, and not to caves, to valleys, or to islands.

(2) The parallelism, the construction, demands such an interpretation.

It would then be equivalent to calling on the scattered people to glorify God in the East, and in the West; in the regions of the rising sun and in the coasts of the sea; or wherever they were scattered. And the sense is,

(1) that they should be encouraged to do this by the prospect of a return;

(2) that it was their duty still to do this wherever they were; and

(3) that the worship of the true God would be in fact continued and celebrated, though his people were scattered, and driven to distant lands.

continued...

15. in the fires—Vitringa translates, "in the caves." Could it mean the fires of affliction (1Pe 1:7)? They were exiles at the time. The fires only loose the carnal bonds off the soul, without injuring a hair, as in the case of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Lowth reads, in the islands (Eze 26:18). Rather translate for "fires," "in the regions of morning light," that is, the east, in antithesis to the "isles of the sea," that is, the west [Maurer]. Wheresoever ye be scattered, east or west, still glorify the Lord (Mal 1:11). Glorify ye the Lord: these are the words either,

1. Of the remnant, who being themselves delivered, do encourage and exhort their brethren to glorify God with them; or,

2. Of the prophet, directing and exciting God’s people to glorify God in their afflictions, because of that deliverance which he had promised, and would assuredly give to them.

In the fires; when you are in the furnace of affliction; although this word is never used in Scripture in this sense. Others therefore render the word, in the valleys; and others, in the holes, you that are now forced to hide yourselves in holes. Possibly it may be better rendered, for light or illumination; which may be understood either of the light of the truth which God would reveal to them, or for the comfort and felicity which God would confer upon them; light being frequently taken both ways in Scripture. For this Hebrew word, in all other places of Scripture where it is found, signifies that Urim which was in the high priest’s breastplate, and which properly signifies illumination, as both Jews and Christians render it, whereof that was both a sign and instrument; of which See Poole "Exodus 28:30". Add to this, that this part of the prophecy seems to concern the days of the gospel, and that light which the Jews should then receive by the Messias, of whom the high priest with his ephod and Urim was a type. And so this is an exhortation to the converted Jews to bless God for the true Urim, even for Christ and the gospel. And some of the ancient translators had this signification of the word in their eye, as the vulgar Latin, who render it, in doctrines; and the Chaldee, who translate it, when light shall come to the just. But this I propose with submission.

In the isles of the sea; in remote countries beyond the sea, which in Scripture are commonly called isles, as hath been formerly and oft observed; whereby he seems to imply that he here speaks not so much of a temporal felicity which the Jews should receive and enjoy in their own country, as of a spiritual advantage which they should have by the Messias in the places where they were dispersed. Wherefore glorify ye the Lord, in the fires,.... These are the words of the remnant, now triumphing and singing, calling upon others also to glorify the Lord in the fires of affliction and tribulation, in which they had lately been, and had themselves done: or, "in the valleys" (u); in low estates and conditions: or, "in holes" (w); dens and clefts of rocks, where they fled from their persecuting enemies; but neither of these versions suit the state of the true church, as it will be at this time. The word "Urim", here used, which is one of the names of what was put into the breastplate of the high priest, signifies "lights"; which sense of the word the Vulgate Latin version retains, rendering it, "in doctrines glorify the Lord", and so the Targum,

"therefore, when light cometh to the righteous, they shall glorify the Lord;''

and so the words may be rendered, "glorify the Lord for the Urim", or "the lights"; for Christ, who has the true "Urim" and "Thummim", lights and perfections; for the light of his Gospel, and the truths of it, which will now be spread in a most wonderful manner throughout the world; to which times may be applied those words, "arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee--and the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising", Isaiah 60:1 and which will be a just and sufficient reason for giving glory to the Lord:

even the name of the Lord God of Israel, in the isles of the sea; whose name will now be known, not in Israel, or among the Jews only, but in all distant and foreign countries, which are sometimes meant by the isles of the sea; and in all islands, even the most remote, who will have reason to join with them on the continent to glorify God, whose name will now be great in all the earth.

(u) "in vallibus". So Kimchi, Ben Melech, Munster, Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator. (w) "In cavernis vel speluncis", Forerius, Sanctius.

Wherefore glorify ye the LORD in the fires, even the name of the LORD God of Israel in the isles of the sea.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. The words are those of the hymn of praise from over the sea, as is shewn by the particle Wherefore, referring to the unexpressed cause of rejoicing.

in the fires] This gives no sense. R.V. has in the east; strictly “the (regions of) lights,” which is the translation adopted by the majority of commentators. The idea would then be that the West calls on the East to join in the praise of Jehovah. But the form does not occur elsewhere and is not improbably written by mistake for “coasts,” which is repeated in the next line in accordance with what is called ‘the ascending rhythm.’

the Lord God of Israel] The singers, therefore, are in all probability Israelites.

in the isles] in the coasts.Verse 15. - Wherefore glorify ye the Lord in the fires. The reading baiyyim, "in the fires," is doubtful. If it be regarded as sound, we must understand the "fiery trials" which were coming on the faithful remnant. But the LXX. seems to have had the reading baiyyim, "in the islands" or "in the coasts;" and so Lowth, Hitzig, and Mr. Oheyne. That this is the case is evident from Isaiah 24:4-9, where the accursed state into which the earth is brought is more fully described, and the cause thereof is given. "Smitten down, withered up is the earth; pined away, wasted away is the world; pined away have they, the foremost of the people of the earth. And the earth has become wicked among its inhabitants; for they transgressed revelations, set at nought the ordinance, broke the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they who dwelt in it make expiation: therefore are the inhabitants of the earth withered up, and there are very few mortals left. New wine mourneth, vine is parched, all the merry-hearted groan. The joyous playing of tabrets is silent; the noise of them that rejoice hath ceased; the joyous playing of the guitar is silent. They drink no wine with a song; meth tastes bitter to them that drink it." "The world" (tēbēl) is used here in Isaiah 24:4, as in Isaiah 26:9 (always in the form of a proper name, and without the article), as a parallel to "the earth" (hâ'âretz), with which it alternates throughout this cycle of prophecies. It is used poetically to signify the globe, and that without limitation (even in Isaiah 13:11 and Isaiah 18:3); and therefore "the earth" is also to be understood here in its most comprehensive sense (in a different sense, therefore, from Isaiah 33:9, which contains the same play upon sounds). The earth is sunk in mourning, and has become like a faded plant, withered up with heat; the high ones of the people of the earth (merōm; abstr. pro concr., like câbōd in Isaiah 5:13; Isaiah 22:24) are included (עם is used, as in Isaiah 42:5; Isaiah 40:7, to signify humanity, i.e., man generally). אמללוּ (for the form, see Comm. on Job, at Job 18:16-19) stands in half pause, which throws the subjective notion that follows into greater prominence. It is the punishment of the inhabitants of the earth, which the earth has to share, because it has shared in the wickedness of those who live upon it: chânaph (not related to tânaph) signifies to be degenerate, to have decided for what is evil (Isaiah 9:16), to be wicked; and in this intransitive sense it is applied to the land, which is said to be affected with the guilt of wicked, reckless conduct, more especially of blood-guiltiness (Psalm 106:38; Numbers 35:33; compare the transitive use in Jeremiah 3:9). The wicked conduct of men, which has caused the earth also to become chanēphâh, is described in three short, rapid, involuntarily excited sentences (compare Isaiah 15:6; Isaiah 16:4; Isaiah 29:20; Isaiah 33:8; also Isaiah 24:5; Isaiah 1:4, Isaiah 1:6, Isaiah 1:8; out of the book of Isaiah, however, we only meet with this in Joel 1:10, and possibly Joshua 7:11). Understanding "the earth" as we do in a general sense, "the law" cannot signify merely the positive law of Israel. The Gentile world had also a torâh or divine teaching within, which contained an abundance of divine directions (tōrōth). They also had a law written in their hearts; and it was with the whole human race that God concluded a covenant in the person of Noah, at a time when the nations had none of them come into existence at all. This is the explanation given by even Jewish commentators; nevertheless, we must not forget that Israel was included among the transgressors, and the choice of expression was determined by this. With the expression "therefore" the prophecy moves on from sin to punishment, just as in Isaiah 5:25 (cf., Isaiah 5:24). אלה is the curse of God denounced against the transgressors of His law (Daniel 9:11; compare Jeremiah 23:10, which is founded upon this, and from which אבלה has been introduced into this passage in some codices and editions). The curse of God devours, for it is fire, and that from within outwards (see Isaiah 1:31; Isaiah 5:24; Isaiah 9:18; Isaiah 10:16-17; Isaiah 29:6; Isaiah 30:27., Isaiah 33:11-14): chârū (milel, since pashta is an acc. postpos.),

(Note: In correct texts châr has two pashtas, the former indicating the place of the tone.)

from chârar, they are burnt up, exusti. With regard to ויּאשׁמוּ, it is hardly necessary to observe that it cannot be traced back to אשׁם equals ישׁם, שׁמם; and that of the two meanings, culpam contrahere and culpam sustinere, it has the latter meaning here. We must not overlook the genuine mark of Isaiah here in the description of the vanishing away of men down to a small remnant: נשׁאר (שׁאר) is the standing word used to denote this; מזער (used with regard to number both here and in Isaiah 16:14; and with regard to time in Isaiah 10:25 and Isaiah 29:17) is exclusively Isaiah's; and אנושׁ is used in the same sense as in Isaiah 33:8 (cf., Isaiah 13:12). In Isaiah 24:7 we are reminded of Joel 1 (on the short sentences, see Isaiah 29:20; Isaiah 16:8-10); in Isaiah 24:8, Isaiah 24:9 any one acquainted with Isaiah's style will recall to mind not only Isaiah 5:12, Isaiah 5:14, but a multitude of other parallels. We content ourselves with pointing to עלּיז (which belongs exclusively to Isaiah, and is taken from Isaiah 22:2 and Isaiah 32:13 in Zephaniah 2:15, and from Isaiah 13:3 in Zephaniah 3:11); and for basshir (with joyous song) to Isaiah 30:32 (with the beating of drums and playing of guitars), together with Isaiah 28:7. The picture is elegiac, and dwells so long upon the wine (cf., Isaiah 16:1-14), just because wine, both as a natural production and in the form of drink, is the most exhilarating to the heart of all the natural gifts of God (Psalm 104:15; Judges 9:13). All the sources of joy and gladness are destroyed; and even if there is much still left of that which ought to give enjoyment, the taste of the men themselves turns it into bitterness.

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