Isaiah 63:11
Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his holy Spirit within him?
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(11) Then he remembered . . .—The readings vary, and the construction is difficult. Probably, the best rendering is, His people remembered the ancient days of Moses. In any case, it is Israel that remembers, and by that act repents. (Comp. the tone and thoughts of Psalms 77, 78, 105, 106)

With the shepherd . . .—Many MSS., as in the margin, give the plural, “shepherds,” probably as including Aaron and Miriam as among the leaders and deliverers of the people. (Comp. Psalm 77:20; Micah 6:4.)

Within him.—Not Moses only, but Israel collectively. Note the many instances of the gift of the Spirit, to Bezaleel (Exodus 35:31), to the Seventy Elders (Numbers 11:25), to Joshua (Deuteronomy 34:9). (Comp. Nehemiah 9:20.)

Isaiah 63:11-14. Then, or yet, he remembered the days of old — “God is here represented by an elegant figure, as recollecting with himself what he had done for his people, and using that as a motive why he should still own and defend them. The same argument is used by Moses: see the margin. Moses and his people — Or, what great things he had done for them by Moses. Where is he that brought them out of the sea — That divided the sea for them? Here God speaks of himself as in the former clause; and dividing the sea being one of the greatest miracles he ever wrought for his people, it is therefore mentioned, with peculiar propriety, by way of encouragement to them in their sore troubles, as indeed it frequently is. With the shepherd — Or shepherds, as the margin reads it; of his flock — That is, Moses and Aaron. That put his Holy Spirit within him — That gave his Spirit, the spirit of wisdom and courage, as well as of prophecy, to Moses and the seventy elders, to furnish them with gifts and graces for the great work of governing his people. That led them by the right hand of Moses — Namely, by the power that God gave him. With his glorious arm — Or, that arm wherewith God gained to himself so much glory, being always present to the assistance of Moses, Deuteronomy 4:34. Dividing the water before them — The Red sea, and also Jordan. To make himself an everlasting name — With reference both to his power and providence: that he might be glorified, and that everlastingly, upon this account. That led them through the deep — Between those vast heaps of waters, that stood up as a wall on each side of them. As a horse in the wilderness — Or plain, as the word rendered wilderness is sometimes taken; namely, with as much safety as a horse traverses the plain ground, or with as much ease as a horse is led by the bridle. That they should not stumble — That is, though the sea was but newly divided, yet the ground was so dried and smoothed by the wind which God sent, that it was, as it were, prepared before them. As a beast, &c. — As a beast goes down to his pasture; or as a camel, or such like beast of burden, travels through a champaign country, so the Spirit of the Lord conducted the people of Israel into the promised land of rest and security.63:7-14 The latter part of this chapter, and the whole of the next, seem to express the prayers of the Jews on their conversation. They acknowledge God's great mercies and favours to their nation. They confess their wickedness and hardness of heart; they entreat his forgiveness, and deplore the miserable condition under which they have so long suffered. The only-begotten Son of the Father became the Angel or Messenger of his love; thus he redeemed and bare them with tenderness. Yet they murmured, and resisted his Holy Spirit, despising and persecuting his prophets, rejecting and crucifying the promised Messiah. All our comforts and hopes spring from the loving-kindness of the Lord, and all our miseries and fears from our sins. But he is the Saviour, and when sinners seek after him, who in other ages glorified himself by saving and feeding his purchased flock, and leading them safely through dangers, and has given his Holy Spirit to prosper the labours of his ministers, there is good ground to hope they are discovering the way of peace.Then he remembered - He did not forget his solemn premises to be their protector and their God. For their crimes they were subjected to punishment, but God did not forget that they were his people, nor that he had entered into covenant with them. The object of this part of the petition seems to be, to recall the fact that in former times God had never wholly forsaken them, and to plead that the same thing might occur now. Even in the darkest days of adversity, God still remembered his promises, and interposed to save them. Such they trusted it would be still.

Moses and his people - Lowth renders this, 'Moses his servant,' supposing that a change had occurred in the Hebrew text. It would be natural indeed to suppose that the word 'servant' would occur here (see the Hebrew), but the authority is not sufficient for the change. The idea seems to be that which is in our translation, and which is approved by Vitringa and Gesenius. 'He recalled the ancient days when he led Moses and his people through the sea and the wilderness.'

Where is he - The Chaldee renders this, 'Lest they should say, Where is he?' that is, lest surrounding nations should ask in contempt and scorn, Where is the protector of the people, who defended them in other times? According to this, the sense is that God remembered the times of Moses and interposed, lest his not doing it should bring reproach upon his name and cause. Lowth renders it, 'How he brought them up;' that is, he recollected his former interposition. But the true idea is that of one asking a question. 'Where now is the God that formerly appeared for their aid? And though it is the language of God himself, yet it indicates that state of mind which arises when the question is asked, Where is now the former protector and God of the people?

That brought them up out of the sea - The Red Sea, when he delivered them from Egypt. This fact is the subject of a constant reference in the Scriptures, when the sacred writers would illustrate the goodness of God in any great and signal deliverance.

With the shepherd of his flock - Margin, 'Shepherds.' Lowth and Noyes render this in the singular, supposing it to refer to Moses. The Septuagint, Chaldee, and Syriac, also read it in the singular. The Hebrew is in the plural (רעי ro‛ēy), though some manuscripts read it in the singular. If it is to be read in the plural, as the great majority of manuscripts read it, it probably refers to Moses and Aaron as the shepherds or guides of the people. Or it may also include others, meaning that Yahweh led up the people with all their rulers and guides.

Where is he that put his Holy Spirit within him? - (see the notes at Isaiah 63:10). Hebrew, בקרבו beqirebô - 'In the midst of him,' that is, in the midst of the people or the flock. They were then under his guidance and sanctifying influence. The generation which was led to the land of Canaan was eminently pious, perhaps more so than any other of the people of Israel (compare Joshua 24:31; Judges 2:6-10). The idea here is, that God, who then gave his Holy Spirit, had seemed to forsake them. The nation seemed to be abandoned to wickedness; and in this state, God remembered how he had formerly chosen and sanctified them; and he proposed again to impart to them the same Spirit.

11. remembered—Notwithstanding their perversity, He forgot not His covenant of old; therefore He did not wholly forsake them (Le 26:40-42, 44, 45; Ps 106:45, 46); the Jews make this their plea with God, that He should not now forsake them.

saying—God is represented, in human language, mentally speaking of Himself and His former acts of love to Israel, as His ground for pitying them notwithstanding their rebellion.

sea—Red Sea.

shepherd—Moses; or if the Hebrew be read plural, "shepherds," Moses, Aaron, and the other leaders (so Ps 77:20).

put … Spirit … within him—Hebrew, "in the inward parts of him," that is, Moses; or it refers to the flock, "in the midst of his people" (Nu 11:17, 25; Ne 9:20; Hag 2:5).

Then, or yet,

he remembered: this relates either,

1. To the people, and then he is collectively taken; and so it looks like the language of the people in Babylon, and must be read, he shall remember. Or,

2. It may look back to their condition in the wilderness; and thus they may properly say, Where is he? or that God that delivered his people of old, to do the like for us now? there is a like phrase used by Elisha, 2 Kings 2:14. Or rather

3. To God, as it were recollecting himself in a pathetical prosopoeia: q.d. Where is he? Where am I with my former bowels, that moved me to help them of old, that I would now turn to be their enemy? Or, Is my hand shortened that I cannot do it? And so in the following verses he gives a particular description how kind he had been to them formerly, the times mentioned Isaiah 63:9; and thus God seems to work upon himself.

Moses and his people; or what great things he had done for them by Moses·

Where is he that brought them up out of the sea? here God speaks of himself, as in the former clause, viz. that divided the sea for them, being one of the greatest miracles that ever God wrought for his people; it is therefore frequently mentioned by way of encouragement to them, when they are in sore troubles.

The shepherd; or, shepherds; viz. Moses, that brought out his people as a shepherd doth his flock; he and Aaron are both joined, Psalm 77:20.

His holy Spirit, i.e. those abilities and gifts wherewith God furnished Moses, as properly proceeding from the Spirit, he can do the like again, and qualify instruments for his work. Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people,.... Which may be understood either of the Lord, who remembered his lovingkindnesses towards these people, and his tender mercies which had been ever of old; the covenant he made with their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the wonders he did for them in Egypt, at the Red sea, and in the wilderness, by the hand of Moses; his intercession to him on their behalf, and the many great and good things he did for them; and therefore determined not now to cast them off altogether, but to do as he had done before; and, to stir up himself thereunto, puts the following questions:

where is he? &c.; so the Targum paraphrases it,

"he had mercy for the glory of his name, and because of the remembrance of his goodness of old, the mighty things he did by the hands of Moses to his people;''

and adds,

"lest they should say;''

that is, the Gentiles, as Aben Ezra also explains it, lest they should by way of taunt and reproach say, as follows: "where is he?" &c.; compare with this Deuteronomy 32:26. Gussetius (z) thinks the last words should be rendered, "the extractor of his people"; or, he that drew out his people; that is, out of many waters, delivered them from various afflictions, as in Psalm 18:16 and to be understood not of Moses, only in allusion to him, who had his name from being drawn out of the waters; but of a divine Person, who is said to do all the following things; so Ben Melech says the word here has the signification of drawing, or bringing out, as in the above psalm: or else these are the words of the people themselves; at least of some of the truly good and gracious, wise and faithful, among them, in this time of their distress; calling to mind former times, and former appearances of God for them, using them as pleas and arguments with him, and as an encouragement to their faith and hope; and right it is to

remember the years of the right hand of the most High, Psalm 77:10 so Jarchi takes them to be the words of the prophet in his distress, bemoaning and saying, in a supplicating way, what is after expressed; and Kimchi interprets them of Israel in captivity; it seems to be the language of the believing Jews a little before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, or about the time of their conversion in the latter day: saying,

where is he that brought them up out of the sea, with the shepherd of his flock? or "shepherds" (a), according to another reading; that is, Moses and Aaron, by the hands of whom the Lord led his people Israel as a flock of sheep, and which were his, and not the property of those shepherds; they were only instruments by, and with whom, he brought them through the sea, and out of it, which was a wonderful work of God, and often mentioned as a proof of his power, as it is here; for what is it he cannot do who did this? see Psalm 77:20.

where is he that put his Holy Spirit within him? either within Moses, the shepherd of the flock, as Aben Ezra; or within Israel, the flock itself, as Jarchi; for the Spirit of God was not only upon Moses, but upon the seventy elders, and upon all the people at Sinai, as Kimchi observes; and indeed the Holy Spirit was given to the body of the people to instruct and teach them, according to Nehemiah 9:20 now these questions are put, not by way of jeer, but by way of complaint, for want of the divine presence as formerly; and by way of inquiry where the Lord was; and by way of expostulation with him, that he would show himself again, as in the days of old.

(z) Ebr. Comment. p. 482, (a) "cum pastoribus", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Vitringa.

Then he {l} remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them out of the sea with the {m} shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his Holy Spirit within {n} him?

(l) That is, the people of Israel being afflicted, called to mind God's benefits, which he had bestowed on their fathers in times past.

(m) Meaning, Moses.

(n) That is, in Moses that he might well govern the people: some refer this giving of the spirit to the people.

11. In adversity the people realised the privilege they had forfeited by their rebellion, and longed for a return of the days of Moses.

Then he (i.e. Israel) remembered &c.]. Since the second half of the verse contains obviously words of the people, the subject of “remembered” must be Israel, not Jehovah. In the view of many commentators this subj. is expressed in the following phrase “his people” (“Then his people remembered the days of old”). But this order of words would be unnatural. The two expressions “Moses” and “his people” probably represent separate marginal glosses which have crept into the text, the first explanatory of “shepherd” and the second perhaps of “his flock.” Neither is found in the LXX.

Where is he &c.] Or, Where is He that brought up from the sea the shepherd of His flock (i.e. Moses)? This reading is easier than that of the Massoretic text; it is supported by Hebr. MSS., and is followed by the LXX. The plural “shepherds” of R.V. represents the received Hebrew text; but the singular is the older and better reading. The plural was no doubt substituted in order to include Aaron (cf. Psalm 77:20).

This turning back of the people’s mind to the wonders of the Exodus is a hopeful sign of penitence which Jeremiah did not discover in the men of his day: “neither said they, Where is the Lord that brought us up out of the land of Egypt?” (Jeremiah 2:6).

that put his holy Spirit within him] Rather, within it, i.e. His flock, the community; see on Isaiah 63:10. Cf. Haggai 2:5; Nehemiah 9:20; Numbers 11:17; Numbers 11:25.Verse 11. - Then he remembered the days of old. It is questioned who remembered, God or his people. Gesenius, Hitzig, Ewald, Nagelbach, Delitzsch, Knobel, and Mr. Cheyne are in favour of the people; Bishop Lowth and Dr. Kay of God. The reflections which follow (vers. 11-13) seem certainly most appropriate to the people, or to the prophet speaking in their name. Where is he that brought them up out of the sea? i.e. "the Red Sea" (comp. Isaiah 51:10). What has become of the protecting God who then delivered them? With the shepherd of his flock; or, shepherds, according to another reading. The "shepherd" might be either Moses, or "the angel of his face" (ver. 9). The "shepherds" - if that reading be preferred - must be Moses, Aaron, and perhaps Miriam (Micah 6:4). Where he that put his Holy Spirit within him? The "him" of this passage undoubtedly refers to "the people" (Rosenmuller, Knobel, Delitzsch, Kay, Cheyne). God gave to the people in the wilderness "his good Spirit to instruct them" (Nehemiah 9:20), and guide them (Haggai 2:4, 5), and govern them (Numbers 11:17). The person replies: "I have trodden the wine-trough alone, and of the nations no one was with me: and I trode them in my wrath, and trampled them down in my fury; and their life-sap spirted upon my clothes, and all my raiment was stained. For a day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption was come. And I looked round, and there was no helper; and I wondered there was no supporter: then mine own arm helped me; and my fury, it became my support. And I trode down nations in my wrath, and made them drunk in my fury, and made their life-blood run down to the earth." He had indeed trodden the wine-press (pūrâh equals gath, or, if distinct from this, the pressing-trough as distinguished from the pressing-house or pressing-place; according to Frst, something hollowed out; but according to the traditional interpretation from pūr equals pârar, to crush, press, both different from yeqebh: see at Isaiah 5:2), and he alone; so that the juice of the grapes had saturated and coloured his clothes, and his only. When he adds, that of the nations no one was with him, it follows that the press which he trode was so great, that he might have needed the assistance of whole nations. And when he continues thus: And I trod them in my wrath, etc., the enigma is at once explained. It was to the nations themselves that the knife was applied. They were cut off like grapes and put into the wine-press (Joel 3:13); and this heroic figure, of which there was no longer any doubt that it was Jehovah Himself, had trodden them down in the impulse and strength of His wrath. The red upon the clothes was the life-blood of the nations, which had spirted upon them, and with which, as He trode this wine-press, He had soiled all His garments. Nētsach, according to the more recently accepted derivation from nâtsach, signifies, according to the traditional idea, which is favoured by Lamentations 3:18, vigor, the vital strength and life-blood, regarded as the sap of life. ויז (compare the historical tense ויּז in 2 Kings 9:33) is the future used as an imperfect, and it spirted, from nâzâh (see at Isaiah 52:15). אגאלתּי (from גּאל equals גּעל, Isaiah 59:3) is the perfect hiphil with an Aramaean inflexion (compare the same Aramaism in Psalm 76:6; 2 Chronicles 20:35; and הלאני, which is half like it, in Job 16:7); the Hebrew form would be הגאלתּי.

(Note: The Babylonian MSS have אגאלתי with chirek, since the Babylonian (Assyrian) system of punctuation has no seghol.)

AE and A regard the form as a mixture of the perfect and future, but this is a mistake. This work of wrath had been executed by Jehovah, because He had in His heart a day of vengeance, which could not be delayed, and because the year (see at Isaiah 61:2) of His promised redemption had arrived. גּאּלי (this is the proper reading, not גּאוּלי, as some codd. have it; and this was the reading which Rashi had before him in his comm. on Lamentations 1:6) is the plural of the passive participle used as an abstract noun (compare היּים vivi, vitales, or rather viva, vitalia equals vita). And He only had accomplished this work of wrath. Isaiah 63:5 is the expansion of לבדּי, and almost a verbal repetition of Isaiah 59:16. The meaning is, that no one joined Him with conscious free-will, to render help to the God of judgment and salvation in His purposes. The church that was devoted to Him was itself the object of the redemption, and the great mass of those who were estranged from Him the object of the judgment. Thus He found Himself alone, neither human co-operation nor the natural course of events helping the accomplishment of His purposes. And consequently He renounced all human help, and broke through the steady course of development by a marvellous act of His own. He trode down nations in His wrath, and intoxicated them in His fury, and caused their life-blood to flow down to the ground. The Targum adopts the rendering "et triturabo eos," as if the reading were ואשׁבּרם, which we find in Sonc. 1488, and certain other editions, as well as in some codd. Many agree with Cappellus in preferring this reading; and in itself it is not inadmissible (see Lamentations 1:15). But the lxx and all the other ancient versions, the Masora (which distinguishes ואשׁכרם with כ, as only met with once, from ואשׁברם morf , with ב in Deuteronomy 9:17), and the great majority of the MSS, support the traditional reading. There is nothing surprising in the transition to the figure of the cup of wrath, which is a very common one with Isaiah. Moreover, all that is intended is, that Jehovah caused the nations to feel the full force of this His fury, by trampling them down in His fury.

Even in this short ad highly poetical passage we see a desire to emblematize, just as in the emblematic cycle of prophetical night-visions in Isaiah 21:1-22:14. For not only is the name of Edom made covertly into an emblem of its future fate, אדם becoming אדם upon the apparel of Jehovah the avenger, when the blood of the people, stained with blood-guiltiness towards the people of God, is spirted out, but the name of Bozrah also; for bâtsar means to cut off bunches of grapes (vindemiare), and botsrâh becomes bâtsı̄r, i.e., a vintage, which Jehovah treads in His wrath, when He punishes the Edomitish nation as well as all the rest of the nations, which in their hostility towards Him and His people have taken pleasure in the carrying away of Israel and the destruction of Jerusalem, and have lent their assistance in accomplishing them. Knobel supposes that the judgment referred to is the defeat which Cyrus inflicted upon the nations under Croesus and their allies; but it can neither be shown that this defeat affected the Edomites, nor can we understand why Jehovah should appear as if coming from Edom-Bozrah, after inflicting this judgment, to which Isaiah 41:2. refers. Knobel himself also observes, that Edom was still an independent kingdom, and hostile to the Persians (Diod. xv 2) not only under the reign of Cambyses (Herod. iii. 5ff.), but even later than that (Diod. xiii. 46). But at the time of Malachi, who lived under Artaxerxes Longimanus, if not under his successor Darius Nothus, a judgment of devastation was inflicted upon Edom (Malachi 1:3-5), from which it never recovered. The Chaldeans, as Caspari has shown (Obad. p. 142), cannot have executed it, since the Edomites appear throughout as their accomplices, and as still maintaining their independence even under the first Persian kings; nor can any historical support be found to the conjecture, that it occurred in the wars between the Persians and the Egyptians (Hitzig and Khler, Mal. p. 35). What the prophet's eye really saw was fulfilled in the time of the Maccabaeans, when Judas inflicted a total defeat upon them, John Hyrcanus compelled them to become Jews, and Alexander Jannai completed their subjection; and in the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, when Simon of Gerasa avenged their cruel conduct in Jerusalem in combination with the Zelots, by ruthlessly turning their well-cultivated land into a horrible desert, just as it would have been left by a swarm of locusts (Jos. Wars of the Jews, iv 9, 7).

The New Testament counterpart of this passage in Isaiah is the destruction of Antichrist and his army (Revelation 19:11.). He who effects this destruction is called the Faithful and True, the Logos of God; and the seer beholds Him sitting upon a white horse, with eyes of flaming fire, and many diadems upon His head, wearing a blood-stained garment, like the person seen by the prophet here. The vision of John is evidently formed upon the basis of that of Isaiah; for when it is said of the Logos that He rules the nations with a staff of iron, this points to Psalm 2:1-12; and when it is still further said that He treads the wine-press of the wrath of Almighty God, this points back to Isaiah 63. The reference throughout is not to the first coming of the Lord, when He laid the foundation of His kingdom by suffering and dying, but to His final coming, when He will bring His regal sway to a victorious issue. Nevertheless Isaiah 63:1-6 has always been a favourite passage for reading in Passion week. It is no doubt true that the Christian cannot read this prophecy without thinking of the Saviour streaming with blood, who trode the wine-press of wrath for us without the help of angels and men, i.e., who conquered wrath for us. But the prophecy does not relate to this. The blood upon the garment of the divine Hero is not His own, but that of His enemies; and His treading of the wine-press is not the conquest of wrath, but the manifestation of wrath. This section can only be properly used as a lesson for Passion week so far as this, that Jehovah, who here appears to the Old Testament seer, was certainly He who became man in His Christ, in the historical fulfilment of His purposes; and behind the first advent to bring salvation there stood with warning form the final coming to judgment, which will take vengeance upon that Edom, to whom the red lentil-judgment of worldly lust and power was dearer than the red life-blood of that loving Servant of Jehovah who offered Himself for the sin of the whole world.

There follows now in Isaiah 63:7-64:11 a prayer commencing with the thanksgiving as it looks back to the past, and closing with a prayer for help as it turns to the present. Hitzig and Knobel connect this closely with Isaiah 63:1-6, assuming that through the great event which had occurred, viz., the overthrow of Edom, and of the nations hostile to the people of God as such, by which the exiles were brought one step nearer to freedom, the prophet was led to praise Jehovah for all His previous goodness to Israel. There is nothing, however, to indicate this connection, which is in itself a very loose one. The prayer which follows is chiefly an entreaty, and an entreaty appended to Isaiah 63:1-6, but without any retrospective allusion to it: it is rather a prayer in general for the realization of the redemption already promised. Ewald is right in regarding Isaiah 63:7-66:24 as an appendix to this whole book of consolation, since the traces of the same prophet are unmistakeable; but the whole style of the description is obviously different, and the historical circumstances must have been still further developed in the meantime.

The three prophecies which follow are the finale of the whole. The announcement of the prophet, which has reached its highest point in the majestic vision in Isaiah 63:1-6, is now drawing to an end. It is standing close upon the threshold of all that has been promised, and nothing remains but the fulfilment of the promise, which he has held up like a jewel on every side. And now, just as in the finale of a poetical composition, all the melodies and movements that have been struck before are gathered up into one effective close; and first of all, as in Hab, into a prayer, which forms, as it were, the lyrical echo of the preaching that has gone before.

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