Isaiah 29:14
Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) I will proceed to do a marvellous work . . .—The sure doom of hypocrisy would come upon the hypocrites: not loving the light, they would lose the light they had, and be left to their self-chosen blindness. Here, again, history was to repeat itself, and the words of Isaiah were to be fulfilled in an age and in a manner that lay beyond the horizon of his thoughts.

29:9-16 The security of sinners in sinful ways, is cause for lamentation and wonder. The learned men, through prejudice, said that the Divine prophecies were obscure; and the poor urged their want of learning. The Bible is a sealed book to every man, learned or unlearned, till he begins to study it with a simple heart and a teachable spirit, that he may thence learn the truth and the will of God. To worship God, is to approach him. And if the heart be full of his love and fear, out of the abundance of it the mouth will speak; but there are many whose religion is lip-labour only. When they pretend to be speaking to God, they are thinking of a thousand foolish things. They worship the God of Israel according to their own devices. Numbers are only formal in worship. And their religion is only to comply with custom, and to serve their own interest. But the wanderings of mind, and defects in devotion, which are the believer's burden, are very different from the withdrawing of the heart from God, so severely blamed. And those who make religion no more than a pretence, to serve a turn, deceive themselves. And as those that quarrel with God, so those that think to conceal themselves from him, in effect charge him with folly. But all their perverse conduct shall be entirely done away.I will proceed to do - Hebrew, 'I will add to do;' that is, I will do it.

For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish - I will bring calamity upon them which shall baffle all the skill and wisdom of their wise men.

Shall be hid - That is, shall not appear; shall vanish. It shall not be sufficient to prevent the calamities that shall come upon the nation.

14. (Hab 1:5; Ac 13:41). The "marvellous work" is one of unparalleled vengeance on the hypocrites: compare "strange work," Isa 28:21. The judgment, too, will visit the wise in that respect in which they most pride themselves; their wisdom shall be hid, that is, shall no longer appear, so as to help the nation in its distress (compare 1Co 1:19). Shall disappear and vanish; for this answers to,

shall perish, in the former clause. A veil shall be east upon the eyes of their minds; they shall give no evidences or proofs of their wisdom, but their folly shall be made manifest. And this was indeed a wonderful thing for their wise men to be made fools. Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people,.... Because of their hypocrisy and formality, their regard to men, their doctrines and commandments, and not to the will and word of God, therefore he determines "to deal marvellously with this people":

even a marvellous work, and a wonder; that is, something exceedingly marvellous, which would be matter of astonishment to everyone that observed it; and is as follows:

for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid; and be no more: this was eminently fulfilled in the wise men, the doctors and learned Rabbins of the Jews; and they themselves own (x), that, from the time the temple was destroyed, the wise men became like to Scribes, and the Scribes to those that looked after the synagogues, and these became like the common people, and they grew worse and worse: and Maimonides acknowledges (y), that this respects their present case; he says, when the Heathen princes destroyed their best things, took away their wisdom, and their books, and killed their wise men, they became ignorant and unlearned; which evil God threatened them for their iniquities, as is said in this passage: and also this had its accomplishment in the wise philosophers of the Gentiles; see 1 Corinthians 1:18.

(x) Misna Sota, c. 9. sect. 15. (y) More Nevochim, par. 2. c. 11. p. 212.

Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even an wonderful work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall {m} perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.

(m) Meaning, where God is not worshipped according to his word, both magistrates and ministers are fools and without understanding.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. Israel being thus hopelessly estranged from true knowledge of Jehovah, Jehovah must (and will) reveal His character in a way not to be misunderstood.

behold, I will proceed] The Hebr. has the same peculiar construction as in Isaiah 28:16.

to do a marvellous … wonder] Render: to work wonderfully with this people,—wonderfully and wondrously (cf. Isaiah 28:21).

the wisdom of their wise men (cf. Jeremiah 18:18) shall perish]—so far will the issue surpass human forethought.

shall be hid] shall hide itself, in shame and confusion.Verse 14. - I will proceed to do a marvelous work. Commentators are not agreed what this "marvelous work" was. Some, with Delitzsch, consider it to be the hardening of the hearts of the Jews to such an extent that even the appearance of wisdom and understanding, which the rulers of the people had hitherto retained, would completely disappear. Others, with Mr. Cheyne, regard it as the coming siege, with those extreme sufferings and perils (vers. 3, 4) which the Jews would have to undergo - sufferings and perils barely consistent with the previous covenant-promises made to the nation. It is difficult to decide between these two views; but, on the whole, Mr. Cheyne's view seems preferable. A marvelous work and a wonder; rather, a marvelous work and a marvel. The repetition is for the sake of emphasis. For the wisdom; rather, and the wisdom; i.e. "when I do my marvel, then the wisdom of the wise men shall perish" - all their crafty designs and plans shall be of no avail, but come wholly to naught. The chief of these designs was that alluded to in the next verse. Thus far does the unfolding of the hoi reach. Now follows an unfolding of the words of promise, which stand at the end of Isaiah 29:1 : "And it proves itself to me as Ariel." Isaiah 29:5-8 : "And the multitude of thy foes will become like finely powdered dust, and the multitude of the tyrants like chaff flying away; and it will take place suddenly, very suddenly. From Jehovah of hosts there comes a visitation with crash of thunder and earthquake and great noise, whirlwind and tempest, and the blazing up of devouring fire. And the multitude of all the nations that gather together against Ariel, and all those who storm and distress Ariel and her stronghold, will be like a vision of the night in a dream. And it is just as a hungry man dreams, and behold he eats; and when he wakes up his soul is empty: and just as a thirsty man dreams, and behold he drinks; and when he wakes up, behold, he is faint, and his soul is parched with thirst: so will it be to the multitude of the nations which gather together against the mountain of Zion." The hostile army, described four times as hâmōn, a groaning multitude, is utterly annihilated through the terrible co-operation of the forces of nature which are let loose upon them (Isaiah 30:30, cf., Isaiah 17:13). "There comes a visitation:" tippâqēd might refer to Jerusalem in the sense of "it will be visited" in mercy, viz., by Jehovah acting thus upon its enemies. But it is better to take it in a neuter sense: "punishment is inflicted." The simile of the dream is applied in two different ways: (1.) They will dissolve into nothing, as if they had only the same apparent existence as a vision in a dream. (2.) Their plan for taking Jerusalem will be put to shame, and as utterly brought to nought as the eating or drinking of a dreamer, which turns out to be a delusion as soon as he awakes. Just as the prophet emphatically combines two substantives from the same verbal root in Isaiah 29:1, and two adverbs from the same verb in Isaiah 29:5; so does he place צבא and צבה together in Isaiah 29:7, the former with על relating to the crowding of an army for the purpose of a siege, the latter with an objective suffix (compare Psalm 53:6) to the attack made by a crowded army. The metsōdâh of Ariel (i.e., the watch-tower, specula, from tsūd, to spy)

(Note: In Arabic, also, masâd signifies a lofty hill or mountain-top, from a secondary form of tsud; and massara, to lay the foundations of a fortified city (‛ı̄r mâtsōr, Psalm 31:22), from tsūr.))

is the mountain of Zion mentioned afterwards in Isaiah 29:8. כּאשׁר, as if; comp. Zechariah 10:6; Job 10:19. אוכל והנּה without הוּא; the personal pronoun is frequently omitted, not only in the leading participial clause, as in this instance (compare Isaiah 26:3; Isaiah 40:19; Psalm 22:29; Job 25:2; and Khler on Zechariah 9:12), but also with a minor participial clause, as in Psalm 7:10; Psalm 55:20, and Habakkuk 2:10. The hungering and thirsting of the waking man are attributed to his nephesh (soul: cf., Isaiah 32:6; Isaiah 5:14; Proverbs 6:30), just because the soul is the cause of the physical life, and without it the action of the senses would be followed by no sensation or experience whatever. The hungry stomach is simply the object of feeling, and everything sensitive in the bodily organism is merely the medium of sensation or feeling; that which really feels is the soul. The soul no sooner passes out of the dreaming state into a waking condition, than it feels that its desires are as unsatisfied as ever. Just like such a dream will the army of the enemy, and that victory of which it is so certain before the battle is fought, fade away into nothing.

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