Isaiah 24:22
And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(22) As prisoners are gathered in the pit . . .—The imagery is drawn from the deep underground dungeons of Eastern prisons (Jeremiah 38:6), which are here the symbol of the abyss of Hades, in which the rebel powers of earth and heaven await the final judgment (2Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6).

After many days shall they be visited.—The verb is the same as that translated “punish” in the previous verse, but does not in itself involve the idea of punishing, and in some of its forms is used of visiting in mercy. Interpreters have, according to their previous bias, assigned this or that meaning to it. Probably the prophet used it in a neutral sense, drawing his imagery from the custom of Eastern kings, who, after leaving their enemies in prison for an appointed time, came to inspect them, and to award punishment or pardon according to their deserts. In such a company there might be “prisoners of hope” (Zechariah 9:12), waiting with eager expectation for the coming of the king. The passage is interesting in the history of Christian doctrine, as having furnished to Origen and his followers an argument in favour of the ultimate restitution of all created spirits.

24:16-23 Believers may be driven into the uttermost parts of the earth; but they are singing, not sighing. Here is terror to sinners; the prophet laments the miseries he saw breaking in like a torrent; and the small number of believers. He foresees that sin would abound. The meaning is plain, that evil pursues sinners. Unsteady, uncertain are all these things. Worldly men think to dwell in the earth as in a palace, as in a castle; but it shall be removed like a cottage, like a lodge put up for the night. It shall fall and not rise again; but there shall be new heavens and a new earth, in which shall dwell nothing but righteousness. Sin is a burden to the whole creation; it is a heavy burden, under which it groans now, and will sink at last. The high ones, that are puffed up with their grandeur, that think themselves out of the reach of danger, God will visit for their pride and cruelty. Let us judge nothing before the time, though some shall be visited. None in this world should be secure, though their condition be ever so prosperous; nor need any despair, though their condition be ever so deplorable. God will be glorified in all this. But the mystery of Providence is not yet finished. The ruin of the Redeemer's enemies must make way for his kingdom, and then the Sun of Righteousness will appear in full glory. Happy are those who take warning by the sentence against others; every impenitent sinner will sink under his transgression, and rise no more, while believers enjoy everlasting bliss.And they shall be gathered together - That is, those who occupy posts of honor and influence in the ecclesiastical and civil polity of the land. "As prisoners." Margin, as in the Hebrew, 'With the gathering of prisoners.' The reference is to the custom of collecting captives taken in war, and chaining them together by the hands and feet, and thrusting them in large companies into a prison.

In the pit - Margin, 'Dungeon.' The sense is, that he rulers of the land should be made captive, and treated as prisoners of war. This was undoubtedly true in the captivity under Nebuchadnezzar. The people were assembled; were regarded as captives; and were conveyed together to a distant land.

And shall be shut up in the prison - Probably this is not intended to be taken literally, but to denote that they would be as secure as if they were shut up in prison. Their prison-house would be Babylon, where they were enclosed as in a prison seventy years.

And after many days - If this refers, as I have supposed, to the captivity at Babylon, then these 'many days' refer to the period of seventy years.

Shall they be visited - Margin, 'Found wanting.' The word used here (פקד pâqad) may be used either in a good or bad sense, either to visit for the purpose of reviewing, numbering, or aiding; or to visit for the purpose of punishing. It is probably, in the Scriptures, most frequently used in the latter sense (see 1 Samuel 15:2; Job 31:14; Job 35:15; Psalm 89:33; Isaiah 26:14; Jeremiah 9:24). But it is often used in the sense of taking account of, reviewing, or mustering as a military host (see Numbers 1:44; Numbers 3:39; 1 Kings 20:15; Isaiah 13:4). In this place it may be taken in either of these senses, as may be best supposed to suit the connection. To me it seems that the connection seems to require the idea of a visitation for the purpose of relief or of deliverance; and to refer to the fact that at the end of that time there would be a reviewing, a mustering, an enrollment of those who should have been carried away to their distant prison-house, to ascertain how many remained, and to marshal them for their return to the land of their fathers (see the books of Ezra and Nehemiah). The word here used has sometimes the sense expressed in the margin, 'found wanting' (compare 1 Samuel 20:6; 1 Samuel 25:15; Isaiah 38:10); but such a sense does not suit the connection here. I regard the verse as an indication of future mercy and deliverance. They would be thrown into prison, and treated as captives of war; but after a long time they would be visited by the Great Deliverer of their nation, their covenant-keeping God, and reconducted to the land of their fathers.

22. in the pit—rather, "for the pit" [Horsley]. "In the dungeon" [Maurer]. Image from captives thrust together into a dungeon.

prison—that is, as in a prison. This sheds light on the disputed passage, 1Pe 3:19, where also the prison is figurative: The "shutting up" of the Jews in Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar, and again under Titus, was to be followed by a visitation of mercy "after many days"—seventy years in the case of the former—the time is not yet elapsed in the case of the latter. Horsley takes "visited" in a bad sense, namely, in wrath, as in Isa 26:14; compare Isa 29:6; the punishment being the heavier in the fact of the delay. Probably a double visitation is intended, deliverance to the elect, wrath to hardened unbelievers; as Isa 24:23 plainly contemplates judgments on proud sinners, symbolized by the "sun" and "moon."

They shall be gathered together, by God’s special providence, in order to their punishment, as the following words show. And thus the unbelieving Jews were generally gathered together at Jerusalem, to their solemn feast, when Titus came and besieged, and after some time took and destroyed them; which was a very remarkable hand of God, as Josephus and other historians observed. And I know nothing to the contrary but this very thing may be meant in this place, it being confessed that divers passages of this chapter concern the times of the Messiah.

Shall be shut up in the prison; as malefactors, which are taken in several places, are usually brought to one common prison, where they are reserved in order to their trial and punishment.

Shall they be visited; either,

1. In judgment, as visiting is oft used. So the sense is, After they have been punished with long imprisonment, and tormented with expectation and fear, they shall be brought forth to receive condign punishment. Or rather,

2. In mercy. And so the sense may be either,

1. After the Jews shall have suffered many and grievous things from the Assyrians, Chaldeans, Persians, and others, at last their Messiah and Deliverer shall come into the world, he. Or,

2. After the unbelieving and apostate Jews shall have been shut up in unbelief and in great tribulations for many ages together, they shall be convinced of their sin in crucifying their Messiah, and brought home to God and Christ by true repentance. And they shall be gathered together,.... First to the battle of the great day of God Almighty at Armageddon, Revelation 16:14 and there being overcome and taken, they shall be gathered together

as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison; in the prison or the grave, and in hell; as captives are, till such time as something is determined and ordered what to be done with them:

and after many days shall they be visited; or punished, that is, after the thousand years are ended, when the wicked dead will be all raised; after the battle of Gog and Magog, when Satan, the beast, and false prophet, and all their adherents, shall be cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, Revelation 19:20.

And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be {o} visited.

(o) Not with his rods as in Isa 24:21 but will be comforted.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
22. after many days shall they be visited] See Judges 6, “reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day” (cf. 2 Peter 2:4); and the following passages from the book of Enoch (ch. 18:14, 16). “This … place … serves as a prison for the stars of heaven and the host of heaven … And he was wroth with them and bound them unto the time when their guilt should be complete in the year of the secret.” (See also Enoch Isaiah 21:6.) It is true that the verb “visited” may bear a favourable sense, and many commentators prefer that sense here. But this is opposed both to the tenor of the passage and the analogy of eschatological representations.Verse 22. - In the pit; literally, in a dungeon. Mr. Cheyne suggests that sheol, or "hell," is meant; but the context points to some narrower confinement. In the prison; rather, in prison (comp. 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6). After many days. In the Revelation (Revelation 20:2) Satan is bound "a thousand years;" i.e. an indefinite term. The imprisonment of the present passage is scarcely the same, but it is analogous. God's purposes require sometimes long periods of inaction. Shall they be visited; or, published. The word is the same as that translated "punish" in ver. 21. "Visiting" for good is scarcely to be thought of. This appeal is not made in vain. Isaiah 24:16. "From the border of the earth we hear songs: Praise to the Righteous One!" It no doubt seems natural enough to understand the term tzaddı̄k (righteous) as referring to Jehovah; but, as Hitzig observes, Jehovah is never called "the Righteous One" in so absolute a manner as this (compare, however, Psalm 112:4, where it occurs in connection with other attributes, and Exodus 9:27, where it stands in an antithetical relation); and in addition to this, Jehovah gives צבי (Isaiah 4:2; Isaiah 28:5), whilst כבוד, and not צבי, is ascribed to Him. Hence we must take the word in the same sense as in Isaiah 3:10 (cf., Habakkuk 2:4). The reference is to the church of righteous men, whose faith has endured the fire of the judgment of wrath. In response to its summons to the praise of Jehovah, they answer it in songs from the border of the earth. The earth is here thought of as a garment spread out; cenaph is the point or edge of the garment, the extreme eastern and western ends (compare Isaiah 11:12). Thence the church of the future catches the sound of this grateful song as it is echoed from one to the other.

The prophet feels himself, "in spirit," to be a member of this church; but all at once he becomes aware of the sufferings which will have first of all to be overcome, and which he cannot look upon without sharing the suffering himself. "Then I said, Ruin to me! ruin to me! Woe to me! Robbers rob, and robbing, they rob as robbers. Horror, and pit, and snare, are over thee, O inhabitant of the earth! And it cometh to pass, whoever fleeth from the tidings of horror falleth into the pit; and whoever escapeth out of the pit is caught in the snare: for the trap-doors on high are opened, and the firm foundations of the earth shake. The earth rending, is rent asunder; the earth bursting, is burst in pieces; the earth shaking, tottereth. The earth reeling, reeleth like a drunken man, and swingeth like a hammock; and its burden of sin presseth upon it; and it falleth, and riseth not again." The expression "Then I said" (cf., Isaiah 6:5) stands here in the same apocalyptic connection as in Revelation 7:14, for example. He said it at that time in a state of ecstasy; so that when he committed to writing what he had seen, the saying was a thing of the past. The final salvation follows a final judgment; and looking back upon the latter, he bursts out into the exclamation of pain: râzı̄-lı̄, consumption, passing away, to me (see Isaiah 10:16; Isaiah 17:4), i.e., I must perish (râzi is a word of the same form as kâli, shâni, ‛âni; literally, it is a neuter adjective signifying emaciatum equals macies; Ewald, 749, g). He sees a dreadful, bloodthirsty people preying among both men and stores (compare Isaiah 21:2; Isaiah 33:1, for the play upon the word with בגד, root גד, cf., κεύθειν τινά τι, tecte agere, i.e., from behind, treacherously, like assassins). The exclamation, "Horror, and pit," etc. (which Jeremiah applies in Jeremiah 48:43-44, to the destruction of Moab by the Chaldeans), is not an invocation, but simply a deeply agitated utterance of what is inevitable. In the pit and snare there is a comparison implied of men to game, and of the enemy to sportsmen (cf., Jeremiah 15:16; Lamentations 4:19; yillâcēr, as in Isaiah 8:15; Isaiah 28:13). The על in עליך is exactly the same as in Judges 16:9 (cf., Isaiah 16:9). They who should flee as soon as the horrible news arrived (min, as in Isaiah 33:3) would not escape destruction, but would become victims to one form if not to another (the same thought which we find expressed twice in Amos 5:19, and still more fully in Isaiah 9:1-4, as well as in a more dreadfully exalted tone). Observe, however, in how mysterious a background those human instruments of punishment remain, who are suggested by the word bōgdim (robbers). The idea that the judgment is a direct act of Jehovah, stands in the foreground and governs the whole. For this reason it is described as a repetition of the flood (for the opened windows or trap-doors of the firmament, which let the great bodies of water above them come down from on high upon the earth, point back to Genesis 7:11 and Genesis 8:2, cf., Psalm 78:23); and this indirectly implies its universality. It is also described as an earthquake. "The foundations of the earth" are the internal supports upon which the visible crust of the earth rests. The way in which the earth in its quaking first breaks, then bursts, and then falls, is painted for the ear by the three reflective forms in Isaiah 24:19, together with their gerundives, which keep each stage in the process of the catastrophe vividly before the mind. רעה is apparently an error of the pen for רע, if it is not indeed a n. actionis instead of the inf. absol. as in Habakkuk 3:9. The accentuation, however, regards the ah as a toneless addition, and the form therefore as a gerundive (like kob in Numbers 23:25). The reflective form התרעע is not the hithpalel of רוּע, vociferari, but the hithpoel of רעע (רצץ), frangere. The threefold play upon the words would be tame, if the words themselves formed an anti-climax; but it is really a climax ascendens. The earth first of all receives rents; then gaping wide, it bursts asunder; and finally sways to and fro once more, and falls. It is no longer possible for it to keep upright. Its wickedness presses it down like a burden (Isaiah 1:4; Psalm 38:5), so that it now reels for the last time like a drunken man (Isaiah 28:7; Isaiah 29:9), or a hammock (Isaiah 1:8), until it falls never to rise again.

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