Isaiah 30:21
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk you in it, when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee.—The voice of the human teacher on whom the people looked as they listened would find an echo in that inner voice telling them which was the true way, when they were tempted to turn to the right hand or the left.

30:19-26 God's people will soon arrive at the Zion above, and then they will weep no more for ever. Even now they would have more comfort, as well as holiness, if they were more constant in prayer. A famine of bread is not so great a judgment as a famine of the word of God. There are right-hand and left-hand errors; the tempter is busy courting us into by-paths. It is happy if, by the counsels of a faithful minister or friend, or the checks of conscience, and the strivings of God the Spirit, we are set right when doubting, and prevented from going wrong. They shall be cured of their idolatry. To all true penitents sin becomes very hateful. This is shown daily in the conversion of souls, by the power of Divine grace, to the fear and love of God. Abundant means of grace, with the influences of the Holy Spirit, would be extended to places destitute of them. The effect of this should be comfort and joy to the people of God. Light, that is, knowledge, shall increase. This is the light which the gospel brought into the world, and which proclaims healing to the broken-hearted.And thine ears shall hear a word - A command or admonition. You shall not be left without spiritual guides and directors.

Behind thee - That is, says Vitringa, the voice of conscience, as an "invisible" guide, shall admonish you. The idea, however, seems to be that if they were ignorant of the way, or if they were inclined to err, they should be admonished of the true path which they ought to pursue. The idea is taken either from the practice of teachers who are represented as "following" their pupils and admonishing them if they were in danger of going astray (Grotius; or from shepherds, who are represented as following their flocks, and directing them when they wandered. The Jews understand this voice 'from behind' to be the כל בת bath kol - 'the daughter of the voice;' a divine admonition which they suppose attends the pious. The essential thought is, that they would not be left without a guide and instructor; that, if they were inclined to go astray, they would be recalled to the path of truth and duty. Perhaps there is the idea, also, that the admonition would come from some "invisible" influence, or from some unexpected quarter, as it is often the case that those who are inquiring on the subject of religion receive light from quarters where they least expected, and from sources to which they were not looking. It is also true that the admonitions of Providence, of conscience, and of the Holy Spirit, seem often to come from "behind" us. that is, they "recall" us from the path in which we were going, and restrain us from a course that would be fraught with danger.

When ye turn to the right hand ... - When you shall be in danger of wandering from the direct and straight path. The voice shall recall you, and direct you in the way in which you ought to go.

21. word—conscience, guided by the Holy Spirit (Joh 16:13). Thine ears shall hear a word; as oft as need requires thou shalt hear the voice of God’s word and Spirit directing thee in thy course.

Hear a word behind thee; a metaphor borrowed either,

1. From the custom of shepherds, who use to follow their sheep, and to recall them when they go out of the way. Or,

2. From travellers, who when they are gone out of the right way, are ofttimes recalled and admonished of their error by some other passenger or person who is behind them, and therefore discerns their mistake; which he could not so easily discover if he were before them. And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee,.... Which may be said in reference to the backsliding and declining state of the people, Isaiah 30:11 and is thought by some to be an allusion to schoolmasters, who stand behind their scholars, or at their backs, to guide, teach, and instruct them; and by others to shepherds following their flocks, who, when they observe any of the sheep going out of the way, call them back; or to travellers, who, coming to a place where are several ways, and being at a loss which way to take, and inclining to turn to the right or left, are called to by persons behind them, and directed in the right way. This "voice behind" is by the Jews (e) interpreted of Bath Kol; and by others of the voice of conscience; but it rather intends the Spirit of God, and his grace; though it seems best to understand it of the Scriptures of truth, the word of God, the only rule of faith and practice; the language of which is,

saying, This is the way, walk ye in it; it directs to Christ the way, and who is the only way of life and salvation to be walked in by faith, and to all the lesser paths of duty and doctrine, which to walk in is both pleasant and profitable, and which is the right way; so the Targum paraphrases it,

"this is the right way;''

to which agree the comments of Aben Ezra, Jarchi, and Kimchi; though the Arabic and Syriac versions, following the Septuagint, represent them as the words of seducers, directing to a wrong way: but the words are a promise of being led right, and not a threatening of being led wrong:

when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left; through ignorance or inadvertency, through the prevalence of corruption, or force of temptation; and as it is promised there should be such a voice, so they should have ears to hear, their ears erect to attend to what is said, to observe it, and act according to it.

(e) T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 32. 1.

And thy ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, {s} walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

(s) God will direct all your ways and appoint you how to go either hither or thither.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. thine ears shall hear a word behind thee] that of Jehovah, walking like a Father behind His children. Cf. Isaiah 29:18.Verse 21. - Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee. Kay says, "The teacher will go before his flock, marking out the way before them." But in that case, the flock would hear the word before them. Delitzsch explains better, "They (the teachers), as the shepherds of the flock, would follow the people with friendly words of admonition." Even in the East, shepherds sometimes follow their flocks (see Genesis 32:17). When ye turn, i.e. when ye are about to turn. Into such small sherds, a heap thus scattered hither and thither, would the kingdom of Judah be broken up, in consequence of its ungodly thirst for self-liberation. "For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, Through turning and rest ye would be helped; your strength would show itself in quietness and confidence; but ye would not. And ye said, No, but we will fly upon horses; therefore ye shall flee: and, We will ride upon racehorses; therefore your pursuers will race. A thousand, ye will flee from the threatening of one, from the threatening of five, until ye are reduced to a remnant, like a pine upon the top of the mountain, and like a banner upon the hill." The conditions upon which their salvation depended, and by complying with which they would attain to it, were shūbhâh, turning from their self-chosen way, and nachath, rest from self-confident work of their own (from nūăch, like rachath, ventilabrum, from rūăch, and shachath, fovea, from shūăch). Their strength (i.e., what they would be able to do in opposition to the imperial power) would show itself (hâyâh, arise, come to the light, as in Isaiah 29:2), in hashqēt, laying aside their busy care and stormy eagerness, and bitchâh, trust, which cleaves to Jehovah and, renouncing all self-help, leaves Him to act alone. This was the leading and fundamental principle of the prophet's politics even in the time of Ahaz (Isaiah 7:4). But from the very first they would not act upon it; nor would they now that the alliance with Egypt had become an irreversible fact. To fly upon horses, and ride away upon racehorses (kal, like κέλης, celer)

(Note: We regard the Sanscrit kal, to drive or hunt, the Greek κέλλ(ὀκέλλ)ειν, and the Semitic qal, as all having the same root: cf., Vurtius, Grundzge der griech. Etymol. i.116.))

had been and still was their proud and carnal ambition, which Jehovah would answer by fulfilling upon them the curses of the thorah (Leviticus 26:8, Leviticus 26:36; Deuteronomy 28:25; Deuteronomy 32:30). One, or at the most five, of the enemy would be able with their snorting to put to flight a whole thousand of the men of Judah. The verb nūs (Isaiah 30:16), which rhymes with sūs, is used first of all in its primary sense of "flying" (related to nūts, cf., Exodus 14:27), and then in its more usual sense of "fleeing." (Luzzatto, after Abulwald: vogliamo far sui cavalli gloriosa comparsa, from nūs, or rather nâsas, hence nânōs, from which comes nēs, excellere.) יקּלּוּ, the fut. niphal, signifies to be light, i.e., swift; whereas יקל, the fut. kal, had become a common expression for light in the sense of despised or lightly esteemed. The horses and chariots are Judah's own (Isaiah 2:7; Micah 5:9), though possibly with the additional allusion to the Egyptian cavalry, of world-wide renown, which they had called to their help. In Isaiah 30:17 the subject of the first clause is also that of the second, and consequently we have not וּמפּני (compare the asyndeta in Isaiah 17:6). The insertion of rebhâbhâh (ten thousand) after chămisshâh (five), which Lowth, Gesenius, and others propose, is quite unnecessary. The play upon the words symbolizes the divine law of retribution (talio), which would be carried out with regard to them. The nation, which had hitherto resembled a thick forest, would become like a lofty pine (tōrne, according to the talmudic tūrnı̄thâ, Pinus pinea), standing solitary upon the top of a mountain, and like a flagstaff planted upon a hill - a miserable remnant in the broad land so fearfully devastated by war. For אם עד followed by a preterite (equivalent to the fut. exactum), compare Isaiah 6:11 and Genesis 24:19.

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