Isaiah 29:5
Moreover the multitude of your strangers shall be like small dust, and the multitude of the terrible ones shall be as chaff that passes away: yes, it shall be at an instant suddenly.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) Moreover the multitude . . .—Better, But. The words interpret those of Isaiah 30:28. The tribulation should be great, but it should last but for a while. As in Isaiah 25:5, the “strangers”—i.e., the “enemies,” and the “terrible ones”—should be brought low. A sudden catastrophe, pointing, probably, to the destruction of Sennacherib’s army, should bring them low. They, too, should pass under the “threshing instrument” of God’s judgments, and be as chaff before the wind.

Isaiah 29:5-7. Moreover — Or, rather, But, the multitude of thy strangers — Of the strangers that encamp and fight against thee; shall be like small dust — Dispersed by the least breath of air; and the multitude of the terrible ones — Of the Assyrian army, terrible for courage and ferocity; shall be as the chaff that passeth away — Which is quickly carried away by the wind. Yea, at an instant, suddenly — This dissipation and destruction of thine enemies shall be as instantaneous as it is unexpected. Bishop Lowth, who considers these verses as containing “an admirable description of the destruction of Sennacherib’s army, with a beautiful variety of the most expressive and sublime images, adapted to show the greatness, the suddenness, and horror of the event,” gives us the following elegant and striking translation of them, which will give the reader a more just and enlarged view of their meaning, than any note wherewith we might attempt to explain it: But the multitude of the proud shall be like the small dust; And like the flitting chaff, the multitude of the terrible: Yea, the effect shall be momentary, in an instant. From Jehovah there shall be a sudden visitation, With thunder, and earthquake, and a mighty voice; With storm, and tempest, and flame of devouring fire. And like as a dream, a vision of the night, So shall it be with the multitude of all the nations, that fight against Ariel; And all their armies, and their towers, and those that distress her. The reader will observe, that this view of the passage has the sanction of the Vulgate version, and is approved by Prebendary Lowth, Vitringa, Dr. Waterland, Henry, and several others. Some, however, think that these verses should be connected with the preceding, and that the prophet continues in them to describe the judgment to be inflicted on Jerusalem.29:1-8 Ariel may signify the altar of burnt-offerings. Let Jerusalem know that outward religious services will not make men free from judgements. Hypocrites never can please God, nor make their peace with him. God had often and long, by a host of angels, encamped round about Jerusalem for protection and deliverance; but now he fought against it. Proud looks and proud language shall be brought down by humbling providences. The destruction of Jerusalem's enemies is foretold. The army of Sennacherib went as a dream; and thus the multitudes, that through successive ages fight against God's altar and worship, shall fall. Speedily will sinners awake from their soothing dreams in the pains of hell.Moreover - These verses Isaiah 29:5, Isaiah 29:7-8 contain a beautiful description of the destruction of the army of Sennacherib. Though they had laid the plan of a regular siege; though the city, in itself, would not be able to hold out against them, and all was alarm and conscious imbecility within; yet in an instant the siege would be raised, and the advancing hosts of the Assyrians would all be gone.

The multitude of thy strangers - The multitude of the strangers that shall besiege thee; called 'thy strangers,' because they besieged, or oppressed thee. The word 'strangers' here, as elsewhere, means "foreigners" (see the note at Isaiah 1:7; compare Isaiah 2:6; Isaiah 5:17; Isaiah 14:1; Isaiah 25:2, Isaiah 25:5; Isaiah 29:5; Isaiah 60:10).

Shall be like small dust - Light, fine dust that is easily dissipated by the wind.

Of the terrible ones - Of the invading, besieging army, that is so much the object of dread.

As chaff that passeth away - (see the note at Isaiah 17:13). This image of chaff driven before the wind, to denote the sudden and entire discomfiture of enemies, is common in the Scriptures (see Job 21:18; Psalm 1:4; Psalm 35:5; Hosea 13:13).

Yea, it shall be at an instant suddenly - The forces of Sennacherib were destroyed in a single night by the angel of the Lord (Isaiah 37:36; the note at Isaiah 10:12, Isaiah 10:28-34, note), and the siege of Jerusalem was of course immediately raised.

5. Moreover—rather, "Yet"; yet in this extremity help shall come, and the enemy be scattered.

strangers—foreign enemies, invaders (Isa 25:2).

it shall be—namely, the destruction of the enemy.

at an instant—in a moment (Isa 30:23).

Of thy strangers; either,

1. Of the strangers that encamp and fight against thee. Or,

2. Of the Egyptians, and other strangers, whom thou hast hired to assist thee, as indeed they did, when the Chaldeans came against them. This exposition seems to agree best, as with the phrase, thy strangers, so with the scope of the place, and with the whole context, especially the foregoing verses; which plainly shows that this is not a promise to Jerusalem, but a threatening against it.

Like small dust; quickly blown away with the least wind, by comparing this with the following clause.

Of the terrible ones; of thy great commanders and stoutest soldiers.

It shall be; this dissipation and destruction of thy strangers and terrible ones shall come to pass. Moreover, the multitude of thy strangers shall be like small dust,.... Or "of those that fan thee" (q), as the Vulgate Latin Version; and so the Targum,

"of those that scatter thee;''

or of thine enemies, as others; meaning the Romans, who were a strange people to them, who got the dominion over them, and scattered them abroad in the world: and the simile of "small dust", to which they are compared, is not used to express the weakness of them, but the greatness of their number, which was not to be counted, any more than the dust of the earth; see Numbers 23:10,

and the multitude of the terrible ones shall be as chaff that passeth away; designing the same numerous army of the Romans as before, who were terrible to the Jews: nor does this metaphor signify any imbecility in them, and much less the ruin of them, but their swiftness in executing the judgments of God upon his people, who moved as quick as chaff, or any such light thing, before a mighty wind:

yea, it shall be at an instant suddenly; either the numerous army should be suddenly before Jerusalem, or the destruction of that city should be as it were in a moment; and though the siege of it lasted long, yet the last sack and ruin of it was suddenly, and in so short a time, that it might be said to be in an instant, in a moment, as it were. The Jewish writers interpret this of the sudden destruction of Sennacherib's army by the angel, 2 Kings 19:35 but the next words show that the destruction of Jerusalem is meant.

(q) "ventilantium te", V. L. "dispergentium te", Vatablus, so Targum; "hostium tuorum", Pagninus, Cocceius.

Moreover the multitude of thy {e} strangers shall be like small dust, and the multitude of the terrible ones shall be as chaff that passeth away: yea, it shall be at an instant suddenly.

(e) Your hired soldiers in whom you trusted, will be destroyed as dust or chaff in a whirlwind.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. thy strangers] the barbarians who assail thee.

the terrible ones] or the tyrants.

5–8. The discomfiture and dispersion of Zion’s enemies in the hour of their triumph.Verses 5-8. - THE WARNING FOLLOWED BY A PROMISE. It is ever God's care to prevent men from being "swallowed up with overmuch sorrow" (2 Corinthians 2:7). As long as he is not about to "make a full end" (Jeremiah 4:27), he mingles promises with his threats, words of cheer with words of warning. So now the prophet is directed to attach to his four verses of denunciation (vers. 1-4) four others of encouragement, and to declare the utter discomfiture of the vast host of enemies which for a time has besieged and "distressed" Ariel. Verse 5. - Moreover; rather, but. The relation of vers. 5-8 to vers. 1-4 is that of contrast. The multitude of thy strangers; i.e. "of thy enemies" (comp. Isaiah 25:5). In primitive societies every stranger is an enemy; and hence language - the formation of primitive men - often has one word for the two ideas. In Latin hostis is said to have originally meant "foreigner" (Cic., 'De Off',' 1:12). Shall be like small dust. Ground down, i.e. to an impalpable powder - rendered utterly weak and powerless. The meaning is determined by the clause which follows, with which it must necessarily be in close accordance. As chaff that passeth away. "Chaff," in Scripture, is always a metaphor for weakness (comp. Isaiah 5:24; Isaiah 17:13; Isaiah 33:11; Isaiah 41:15; and see also Psalm 1:4; Psalm 35:5; Job 21:18; Hosea 13:3; Daniel 2:35; Zephaniah 2:2). It has no value; man's object is to get rid of it: a light wind carries it away, and no one inquires whither. Yea, it shall be at an instant suddenly. Dr. Kay says it is "the collapse of Jerusalem" which is here intended. But most other commentators understand, with more reason, the collapse of her enemies (Cheyne, Delitzsch, Vance Smith, Knobel, etc.). Again, the labour of the husbandman is just as manifold after the reaping has been done. "For the black poppy is not threshed with a threshing sledge, nor is a cart wheel rolled over cummin; but black poppy is knocked out with a stick, and cummin with a staff. Is bread corn crushed? No; he does not go on threshing it for ever, and drive the wheel of his cart and his horses over it: he does not crush it. This also, it goeth forth from Jehovah of hosts: He gives wonderful intelligence, high understanding." Ki (for) introduces another proof that the husbandman is instructed by God, from what he still further does. He does not use the threshing machine (chârūts, syn. mōrag, Ar. naureg, nōreg), or the threshing cart (agâlâh: see Winer's Real-Wrterbuch, art. Dreschen), which would entirely destroy the more tender kinds of fruit, but knocks them out with a staff (baculo excutit: see at Isaiah 27:12). The sentence lechem yūdâq is to be accentuated as an interrogative: Is bread corn crushed? Oh no, he does not crush it. This would be the case if he were to cause the wheel (i.e., the wheels, gilgal, constr. to galgal) of the threshing cart with the horses harnessed in front to rattle over it with all their might (hâmam, to set in noisy violent motion). Lechem, like the Greek sitos, is corn from which bread is made (Isaiah 30:23; Psalm 104:14). אדושׁ is metaplastic (as if from אדשׁ) for דושׁ (see Ewald, 312, b). Instead of וּפרשׁיו, the pointing ought to be וּפרשׁיו (from פרשׁ with kametz before the tone equals Arab. faras, as distinguished from פרשׁ with a fixed kametz, equivalent to farras, a rider): "his horses," here the threshing horses, which were preferred to asses and oxen.Even in this treatment of the fruit when reaped, there is an evidence of the wonderful intelligence (הפלא), as written הפלא) and exalted understanding (on תּוּשׁהיה, from ושׁי, see at Job 26:3) imparted by God. The expression is one of such grandeur, that we perceive at once that the prophet has in his mind the wisdom of God in a higher sphere. The wise, divinely inspired course adopted by the husbandman in the treatment of the field and fruit, is a type of the wise course adopted by the divine Teacher Himself in the treatment of His nation. Israel is Jehovah's field. The punishments and chastisements of Jehovah are the ploughshare and harrow, with which He forcibly breaks up, turns over, and furrows this field. But this does not last for ever. When the field has been thus loosened, smoothed, and rendered fertile once more, the painful process of ploughing is followed by a beneficent sowing and planting in a multiform and wisely ordered fulness of grace. Again, Israel is Jehovah's child of the threshing-floor (see Isaiah 21:10). He threshes it; but He does not thresh it only: He also knocks; and when He threshes, He does not continue threshing for ever, i.e., as Caspari has well explained it, "He does not punish all the members of the nation with the same severity; and those whom He punishes with greater severity than others He does not punish incessantly, but as soon as His end is attained, and the husks of sin are separated from those that have been punished, and the punishment ceases, and only the worst in the nation, who are nothing but husks, and the husks on the nation itself, are swept away by the punishments" (compare Isaiah 1:25; Isaiah 29:20-21). This is the solemn lesson and affectionate consolation hidden behind the veil of the parable. Jehovah punishes, but it is in order that He may be able to bless. He sifts, but He does not destroy. He does not thresh His own people, but He knocks them; and even when He threshes, they may console themselves in the face of the approaching period of judgment, that they are never crushed or injured.
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