Isaiah 34:7
And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) And the unicorns shall come down with them . . .—Better, the aurochs, or wild bulls . . . The Hebrew, rem, which meets us in Deuteronomy 33:17; Psalm 22:21, has been identified with the buffalo, the antelope (Antilope leucoryx), and by Mr. Houghton, a naturalist as well as a scholar, on the strength of Assyrian inscriptions, pointing to the land of the Khatti (Hittites) and the foot of the Lebanon as its habitat, and of bas-reliefs representing it, with the Bos primigenius of zoologists (Bible Educator, ii. 24-29). Here, the fierce wild beasts stand for the chiefs of the Edomites. (Comp. Psalm 22:12; Psalm 22:21.) The verb, “shall come down,” as in Jeremiah 48:15; Jeremiah 50:27; Jeremiah 51:40, implies going down to the shambles, or slaughtering house.

Isaiah 34:7-8. And the unicorns shall come down — The word ראמים, reemim, here rendered unicorns, is the same with that used Numbers 23:22, where see the note. Bishop Lowth renders it here, wild goats; and Dr. Waterland, stags. But many learned men prefer the marginal reading, rhinoceros. It is impossible to determine precisely what sort of a creature is meant, but it is allowed by all that it was a beast of great strength and fierceness, and that it is here used metaphorically, together with the bullocks and bulls, for princes and potentates, which should be brought down and humbled, or should fall down, as Bishop Lowth reads it, according to the LXX. and Syriac, namely, as beasts do when they have received a deadly blow; that is, they shall be sacrificed, with the lambs, goats, and rams, the inferior people, mentioned Isaiah 34:6. And their land shall be soaked with blood — Hebrew, רותה, watered, as with rain coming oft upon it, and in abundance; and their dust — Their dry and barren land; made fat with fatness — With the fat of the sacrifices, namely, of the slain men, mingled with it. For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance — This is the time which God hath long since appointed and fixed to vindicate the cause of his oppressed and persecuted people against all their enemies; for the controversy of Zion — Dr. Waterland reads, for the avenging of Zion. Upon the whole, “the meaning of this period,” from Isaiah 34:5, “is, that on a certain day of judgment, which is elsewhere called the great day of the Lord’s vengeance, a mighty slaughter should be made of the hardened enemies of the church, (which had been a long time oppressed and afflicted by them,) with the effusion of much blood, and the destruction of many great, noble, and powerful men. The figure is taken from the master of a family, who, preparing a great feast, and a sacrifice, finds it necessary to slay many lambs, rams, and fatted animals, so that his knife may be said to be inebriated with the blood and fat of the slain.” As to the application of this prophecy, in which the Edomites are particularly mentioned, it may be observed that they, together with the rest of the neighbouring nations, were ravaged and laid waste by Nebuchadnezzar, and the general devastation spread through all these countries by him may be the event which the prophet had first in view in this chapter: but, as Bishop Lowth observes, “this event, as far as we have any account of it in history, seems by no means to come up to the terms of the prophecy, or to justify so highly wrought and so terrible a description. And it is not easy to discover what connection the extremely flourishing state of the church or people of God, described in the next chapter, could have with those events, or how it could be the consequence of them, as it is there represented to be. By a figure, very common in the prophetical writings, any city or people, remarkably distinguished as enemies of the people and kingdom of God, is put for those enemies in general. This seems here to be the case with Edom and Bozra. It seems, therefore, reasonable to suppose, with many learned expositors, that this prophecy has a further view to events still future; to some great revolutions to be effected in later times, antecedent to that more perfect state of the kingdom of God upon earth, and serving to introduce it, which the Scriptures warrant us to expect.” Vitringa is of opinion, that Papal, as well as heathen Rome, red or drunken with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus, is here meant. And he observes, that “Rome, which, in the Hebrew, signifies fortification, well answers to Bozra, which signifies a fortified city.” Is not the destruction of the anti-christian powers foretold in the xviith, xviiith, and xixth chapters of the Revelation by St. John, here intended by Isaiah? and especially the destruction in Armageddon, termed the great day of God Almighty, Revelation 16:14, and that described Isaiah 19:17-19? Certainly these terrible destructions are to prepare the way for that millennial reign of Christ, described Revelation 20., and which seems to be intended in the next chapter of this prophecy.34:1-8 Here is a prophecy of the wars of the Lord, all which are both righteous and successful. All nations are concerned. And as they have all had the benefit of his patience, so all must expect to feel his resentment. The description of bloodshed suggests tremendous ideas of the Divine judgments. Idumea here denotes the nations at enmity with the church; also the kingdom of antichrist. Our thoughts cannot reach the horrors of that awful season, to those found opposing the church of Christ. There is a time fixed in the Divine counsels for the deliverance of the church, and the destruction of her enemies. We must patiently wait till then, and judge nothing before the time. Through Christ, mercy is exercised to every believer, consistently with justice, and his name is glorified.And the unicorns - Margin, 'Rhinoceros' (ראמים re'ēmı̂ym from ראם re'êm). This was evidently an animal well known in Palestine, since it is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament (Numbers 23:22; Deuteronomy 33:17; Job 39:9-10; Psalm 22:21; Psalm 29:6; Psalm 92:10, in all which places it is translated unicorn, or unicorn). The derivation of the word is uncertain, and it has been regarded as doubtful what animal is intended. The corresponding Arabic word denotes the oryx, a large and fierce species of the antelope. Gesenius, Schultens, De Wette, and Rosenmuller suppose that the buffalo is intended by the word. Bochart regards it as denoting the gazelle, or a species of the antelope. It can hardly, however, be regarded as so small an animal as the gazelle. The gazelle is common in the neighborhood of mount Sinai; and when Laborde passed through that region his companions killed four, 'the father and mother, and two little animals a fortnight old.' He says of them: 'These creatures, which are very lively in their movements, endeavored to bite when they were caught; their hair is a brown yellow, which becomes pale and long as the animals grows old.

In appearance they resemble the Guinea pig. Their legs are of the same height, but the form of their feet is unique; instead of nails and claws, they have three toes in front and four behind, and they walk. like rabbits, on the whole length of the foot. The Arabs call it El Oueber, and know no other name for it. It lives upon the scanty herbage with which the rain in the neighborhood of springs supplies it. It does not burrow in the earth, its feet not being calculated for that purpose; but it conceals itself in the natural holes or clefts which it finds in the rocks.' (Journey through Arabia Petrea, pp. 106, 107. Lond. 8vo. 1836.) Taylor (Heb. Con.) supposes it means the rhinoceros; a fierce animal that has a single horn on the nose, which is very strong, and which sometimes grows to the height of thirty-seven inches. The ancient versions certainly regarded the word as denoting an animal with a single horn. It denotes here, evidently, some strong, fierce, and wild animal that was horned Psalm 22:21, but perhaps it is not possible to determine precisely what animal is meant. For a more full investigation in reference to the kind of animal denoted by the word reem, see the notes at Job 39:9. Here it represents that portion of the people which was strong, warlike, and hitherto unvanquished, and who regarded themselves as invincible.

Shall come down - Shall be subdued, humbled, destroyed.

With them - With the lambs and goats mentioned in Isaiah 34:6. All classes of the people shall be subdued and subjected to the slaughter.

And the bullocks with the bulls - The young bulls with the old. All shall come down together - the fierce and strong animals representing the fierce and strong people.

And their land shall be soaked with blood - Margin, 'Drunken;' the same word which is rendered 'bathed' in Isaiah 34:5.

Their dust made fat - Their land manured and made rich with the slain. A battlefield is usually distinguished afterward for its fertility. The field of Waterloo has thus been celebrated, since the great battle there, for producing rank and luxuriant harvests.

7. unicorns—Hebrew, reem: conveying the idea of loftiness, power, and pre-eminence (see on [755]Job 39:9), in the Bible. At one time the image in the term answers to a reality in nature; at another it symbolizes an abstraction. The rhinoceros was the original type. The Arab rim is two-horned: it was the oryx (the leucoryx, antelope, bold and pugnacious); but when accident or artifice deprived it of one horn, the notion of the unicorn arose. Here is meant the portion of the Edomites which was strong and warlike.

come down—rather, "fall down," slain [Lowth].

with them—with the "lambs and goats," the less powerful Edomites (Isa 34:6).

bullocks … bulls—the young and old Edomites: all classes.

dust—ground.

The unicorns, Heb. the reemim. But what kind of beast this is, whether that beast which is commonly called an unicorn, which seems to be but a fiction in the judgment of the learned, or a rhinoceros, or a wild ox or bull, it is needless to trouble the ordinary reader about it; and the learned may consult my Latin Synopsis upon Numbers 23:22 about it. It is confessed that it was a beast of great strength and fierceness; and it is certain that it is metephorically used in this place, to signify their princes and potentates.

Shall come down; shall be humbled and cast down. The LXX. and Syriac render it,

they shall fall down, as such beasts do when they have received a deadly blow. With them; with the lambs, and goats, and rams, last mentioned, Isaiah 34:6.

With fatness; with the fat of the slain sacrifices, which shall he mingled with it. And the unicorns shall come down with them,.... With the lambs, goats, and rams; that is, either the rhinoceros, as some, there being no such creature as the unicorn; or the buffaloes, as (m) others; these "shall fall", as the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions render it, they shall be slain, as well as the rest; meaning, that along with the common soldiers, and inferior officers, the general officers should fall; and so the Targum,

"and the mighty shall be slain with them.''

R. Abraham Seba says (n) he read in a certain book, that the word here should not be read "unicorns", but "the Romans shall come down", &c.:

and the bullocks with the bulls: or, as the Targum,

"and the rulers with the princes;''

the same with the kings, captains, and mighty men in Revelation 19:18,

and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness; Or, "their land shall be inebriated" (o), or made drunk, with blood; and the dust thereof thickened by it, and made clods of with it, as the parched earth is watered with a plentiful shower, and the dust laid with it: this is a just retaliation to the whore of Rome, who has been made drunk with the blood of the saints, and now blood shall be given her to drink, even her own, with which she shall be filled, and welter and wallow in the clods of it, Revelation 17:6.

(m) So Gussetius understands it of a larger sort of oxen, Comment. Ebr. p. 783. (n) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 47. 3.((o) "et inebriabitur", Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator.

And the {h} unicorns shall come down with them, and the bulls with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.

(h) The mighty and rich will be as well destroyed as the inferiors.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. For unicorns render with R.V. wild oxen.

come down] sc. to the place of slaughter, Jeremiah 48:15, &c.Verse 7. - The unicorns; Bishop Lowth renders ream by "wild goats;" Mr. Cheyne by "buffaloes." Probably the wild ox, a native of the trans-Jordanic region, is intended (see Mr. Houghton's paper on the animals of the Assyrian bas-reliefs, in the 'Transactions of the Society of Bibl. Archaeology,' vol. 5. p. 336). Shall come down; rather, shall go down; i.e. shall fall and perish (comp. Jeremiah 50:27). What the prophet here foretells relates to all nations, and to every individual within them, in their relation to the congregation of Jehovah. He therefore commences with the appeal in Isaiah 34:1-3 : "Come near, ye peoples, to hear; and he nations, attend. Let the earth hear, and that which fills it, the world, and everything that springs from it. For the indignation of Jehovah will fall upon all nations, and burning wrath upon all their host; He has laid the ban upon them, delivered them to the slaughter. And their slain are cast away, and their corpses - their stench will arise, and mountains melt with their blood." The summons does not invite them to look upon the completion of the judgment, but to hear the prophecy of the future judgment; and it is issued to everything on the earth, because it would all have to endure the judgment upon the nations (see at Isaiah 5:25; Isaiah 13:10). The expression qetseph layehōvâh implies that Jehovah was ready to execute His wrath (compare yōm layehōvâh in Isaiah 34:8 and Isaiah 2:12). The nations that are hostile to Jehovah are slaughtered, the bodies remain unburied, and the streams of blood loosen the firm masses of the mountains, so that they melt away. On the stench of the corpses, compare Ezekiel 39:11. Even if châsam, in this instance, does not mean "to take away the breath with the stench," there is no doubt that Ezekiel had this prophecy of Isaiah in his mind, when prophesying of the destruction of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 39).
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