Isaiah 63:9
In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bore them, and carried them all the days of old.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTeedTTBWESTSK
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) In all their affliction . . .—Literally, there was affliction to Him. So taken, the words speak of a compassion like that of Judges 10:16. The Hebrew text gives, In all their affliction there was no affliction: i.e., it was as nothing compared with the salvation which came from Jehovah. The Authorised Version follows the Kĕri, or marginal reading of the Hebrew. It may be inferred, from the strange rendering of both clauses in the LXX. (“neither a messenger, nor an angel, but He himself saved them “), that the variation in the text existed at an early date, and was a source of perplexity, and therefore of conjectural emendation.

The angel of his presence . . .—Literally, the angel of His face. As in Exodus 23:20-23; Exodus 32:34; Exodus 33:2, so here, Jehovah is thought of as working out His purpose of deliverance for Israel through the mediation of an angel, who is thus described either as revealing the highest attributes of God, of which the “face” is the anthropomorphic symbol, or as standing ever in the immediate presence of the King of kings, ready for any mission.

He bare them . . .—The same image of fatherly care meets us in Isaiah 46:3, Exodus 19:4, Deuteronomy 1:31; Deuteronomy 32:11.

Isaiah

THE SYMPATHY OF GOD

Isaiah 63:9
.

I. The wonderful glimpse opened here into the heart of God.

It is not necessary to touch upon the difference between the text and margin of the Revised Version, or to enter on the reason for preferring the former. And what a deep and wonderful thought that is, of divine sympathy with human sorrow! We feel that this transcends the prevalent tone of the Old Testament. It is made the more striking by reason of the other sides of the divine nature which the Old Testament gives so strongly; as, for instance, the unapproachable elevation and absolute sovereignty of God, and the retributive righteousness of God.

Affliction is His chastisement, and is ever righteously inflicted. But here is something more, tender and strange. Sympathy is a necessary part of love. There is no true affection which does not put itself in the place and share the sorrows of its objects. And His sympathy is none the less because He inflicts the sorrow. These afflictions wherein He too was afflicted, were sent by Him. Like an earthly father who suffers more than the child whom he chastises, the Heavenly Father feels the strokes that He inflicts.

That sympathy is consistent with the blessedness of God. Even in the pain of our human sympathy there is a kind of joy, and we may be sure that in His nature there is nothing else.

Contrast with other thoughts about God.

The vague agnosticism of the present day, which knows only a dim Something of which we can predicate nothing.

The God of the philosophers-whom we are bidden to think of as passionless and unemotional. No wave of feeling ever ripples that tideless sea. The attribute of infinitude or sovereign completeness is dwelt on with such emphasis as to obscure all the rest.

The gods of men’s own creation are careless in their happiness, and cruel in their vengeance. But here is a God for all the weary and the sorrowful. What a thought for us in our own burdened days!

II. The mystery of the divine salvation.

Of course the salvation here spoken of is the deliverance from Egyptian bondage. This is a summary of the Exodus. But we must mark well that significant expression, ‘the angel of His face’ or ‘presence.’ We can only attempt a partial and bald enumeration of some of the very remarkable references to that mysterious person, ‘the angel of the Lord ‘or ‘of the presence.’ The dying Jacob ascribed his being ‘redeemed from all evil’ to ‘the Angel,’ and invoked his blessing on ‘the lads.’ ‘The angel of the Lord’ appeared to Moses out of the midst of the burning bush. On Sinai, Jehovah promised to send an ‘angel’ in whom was His own name, before the people. The promise was renewed after Israel’s sin and repentance, and was then given in the form, ‘My presence shall go with thee.’ Joshua saw a man with a drawn sword in his hand, who declared himself to be the Captain of the Lord’s host. ‘The angel of the Lord’ appeared to Manoah and his wife, withheld his name from them because it was ‘wonderful’ or ‘secret,’ accepted their sacrifice, and went up to heaven in its flame. Wherefore Manoah said, ‘We have seen God.’ Long after these early visions, a psalmist knows himself safe because ‘the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him.’ Hosea, looking back on the story of Jacob’s wrestling at Peniel, says, first, that ‘he had power with God, yea, he had power over the angel,’ and then goes on to say that ‘there He spake with us, even Jehovah.’ And Malachi, on the last verge of Old Testament prophecy, goes furthest of all in seeming to run together the conceptions of Jehovah and the Angel of Jehovah, for he says, ‘The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to His temple; and the angel of the covenant . . . behold, he cometh.’ From this imperfect resume, we see that there appears in the earliest as in the latest books of the Old Testament, a person distinguished from the hosts of angels, identified in a very remarkable manner with Jehovah, by alternation of names, in attributes and offices, and in receiving worship, and being the organ of His revelation. That special relation to the divine revelation is expressed by both the representation that ‘Jehovah’s name is in him,’ and by the designation in our text, ‘the angel of His presence,’ or literally, ‘of His face.’ For ‘name’ and ‘face’ are in so far synonymous that they mean the side of the divine nature which is turned to the world.

For the present I go no further than this. It is clear, then, that our text is at all events remarkable, in that it ascribes to this ‘angel of His presence’ the praise of Jehovah’s saving work. The loving heart, afflicted in all their afflictions, sends forth the messenger of His face, and by Him is salvation wrought. The whole sum of the deliverance of Israel in the past is attributed to Him. Surely this must have been felt by a devout Jew to conceal some great mystery.

III. The crowning revelation both of the heart of God and of His saving power.

{a} Jesus Christ is the true ‘angel of the face.’

I do not need to enter on the question of whether in the Old Testament the angel of the Covenant was indeed a pre-manifestation of the eternal Son. I am disposed to answer it in the affirmative. But be that as it may, all that was spoken of the angel is true of Him. God’s name is in Him, and that not in fragments or half-syllables but complete. The face of God looks lovingly on men in Him, so that Jesus could declare, ‘He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.’ His presence brings God’s presence, and He can venture to say, ‘We will come and make our abode with Him.’ He is the agent of the divine salvation.

The identity and the difference are here in their highest form.

{b} The mystery of God’s sharing our sorrows is explained in Him.

We may find a difficulty in the thought of a suffering and sympathising God. But if we believe that ‘My name is in Him,’ then the sympathy and gentleness of Jesus is the compassion of God. This is a true revelation. So tears at the grave sighs in healing, and all the sorrows which He bore are an unveiling of the heart of God.

That sharing our sorrows is the very heart of His work. We might almost say that He became man in order to increase His power of sympathy, as a prince might temporarily become a pauper. But certainly He became man that He might bear our burdens. ‘Himself took our infirmities.’ ‘Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He himself also likewise took part of the same.’

The atoning death is the climax of Christ’s being afflicted with our afflictions. His priestly sympathy flows out now and for ever to us all.

So complete is His unity with God, that He works the salvation which is God’s, and that God’s name is in Him. So complete is His union with us, that our sorrows touch Him and His life becomes ours. ‘Ye have done it unto Me.’ ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?’

For us in all our troubles there are no darker rooms than Christ has been in before us. We are like prisoners put in the same cell as some great martyr. He drank the cup, and we can put the rim to our lips at the place that His lips have touched. But not only may we have our sufferings lightened by the thought that He has borne the same, and that we know the ‘fellowship of Christ’s sufferings,’ but we have the further alleviation of being sure that He makes our afflictions His by perfect sympathy, and, still more wonderful and blessed, that there is such unity of life and sensation between the Head and the members that our afflictions are His, and are not merely made so.

‘Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,

And thy Saviour is not by;

Think not thou canst shed a tear

And thy Saviour is not near.’

Do not front the world alone. In all our afflictions He is with us; out of them all He saves.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.In all their affliction he was afflicted - This is a most beautiful sentiment, meaning that God sympathized with them in all their trials, and that he was ever ready to aid them. This sentiment accords well with the connection; but there has been some doubt whether this is the meaning of the Hebrew. Lowth renders it, as has been already remarked, 'It was not an envoy, nor an angel of his presence that saved him.' Noyes, 'In all their straits they had no distress.' TheSeptuagint renders it, 'It was not an ambassador (ου ̓ πρέσβυς ou presbus), nor an angel (οὐδὲ ἄγγελος oude angelos), but he himself saved them.' Instead of the present Hebrew word (צר tsâr, 'affliction'), they evidently read it, ציר tsiyr, 'a messenger.' The Chaldee renders it, 'Every time when they sinned against him, so that he might have brought upon them tribulation, he did not afflict them.' The Syriac, 'In all their calamities he did not afflict them.' This variety of translation has arisen from an uncertainty or ambiguity in the Hebrew text.

Instead of the present reading (לא lo', 'not') about an equal number of manuscripts read לו lô, 'to him,' by the change of a single letter. According to the former reading, the sense would be, 'in all their affliction, there was no distress,' that is, they were so comforted and supported by God, that they did not feel the force of the burden. According to the other mode of reading it, the sense would be, 'in all their affliction, there was affliction to him;' that is, he sympathized with them, and upheld them. Either reading makes good sense, and it is impossible now to ascertain which is correct. Gesenius supposes it to mean, 'In all their afflictions there would be actually no trouble to them. God sustained them, and the angel of of his presence supported and delivered them.' For a fuller view of the passage, see Rosenmuller. In the uncertainty and doubt in regard to the true reading of the Hebrew, the proper way is not to attempt to change the translation in our common version. It expresses an exceedingly interesting truth, and one that is suited to comfort the people of God; - that he is never unmindful of their sufferings; that he feels deeply when they are afflicted; and that he hastens to their relief. It is an idea which occurs everywhere in the Bible, that God is not a cold, distant, abstract being; but that he takes the deepest interest in human affairs, and especially that he has a tender solicitude in all the trials of his people.

And the angel of his presence saved them - This angel, called 'the angel of the presence of God,' is frequently mentioned as having conducted the children of Israel through the wilderness, and as having interposed to save them Exodus 23:20, Exodus 23:31; Exodus 32:34; Exodus 33:2; Numbers 20:16. The phrase, 'the angel of his presence,' (Hebrew, פניו מלאך פ male'âk pânâyv, 'angel of his face,' or 'countenance'), means an angel that stands in his presence, and that enjoys his favor, as a man does who stands before a prince, or who is admitted constantly to his presence (compare Proverbs 22:29). Evidently there is reference here to an angel of superior order or rank, but to whom has been a matter of doubt with interpreters. Jarchi supposes that it was Michael, mentioned in Daniel 10:13-21. The Chaldee renders it, 'The angel sent (שׁליח shelı̂yach) from his presence.' Most Christian interpreters have supposed that the reference is to the Messiah, as the manifested guide and defender of the children of Israel during their long journey in the desert. This is not the place to go into a theological examination of that question. The sense of the Hebrew here is, that it was a messenger sent from the immediate presence of God, and therefore of elevated rank. The opinion that it was the Son of God is one that can be sustained by arguments that are not easily refuted. On the subject of angels, according to the Scripture doctrine, the reader may consult with advantage an article by Dr. Lewis Mayer, in the Bib. Rep., Oct. 1388.

He redeemed them - (See the notes at Isaiah 43:1).

And he bare them - As a shepherd carries the lambs of the flock, or as a nurse carries her children; or still more probably, as an eagle bears her young on her wings Deuteronomy 32:11-12. The idea is, that he conducted them through all their trials in the wilderness, and led them in safety to the promised land (compare the notes at Isaiah 40:11).

All the days of old - In all their former history. He has been with them and protected them in all their trials.

9. he was afflicted—English Version reads the Hebrew as the Keri (Margin), does, "There was affliction to Him." But the Chetib (text) reads, "There was no affliction" (the change in Hebrew being only of one letter); that is, "In all their affliction there was no (utterly overwhelming) affliction" [Gesenius]; or, for "Hardly had an affliction befallen them, when the angel of His presence saved them" [Maurer]; or, as best suits the parallelism, "In all their straits there was no straitness in His goodness to them" [Houbigant], (Jud 10:16; Mic 2:7; 2Co 6:12).

angel of his presence—literally, "of His face," that is, who stands before Him continually; Messiah (Ex 14:19; 23:20, 21; Pr 8:30), language applicable to no creature (Ex 32:34; 33:2, 14; Nu 20:16; Mal 3:1).

bare them—(Isa 46:3, 4; 40:11; Ex 19:4; De 32:11, 12).

In all their affliction he was afflicted; because of all the afflictions they endured in Egypt: this notes the sympathy that is in Christ, he having the same Spirit in him that the church hath, and her Head and Father. Or, In all their afflictions no affliction; so the words may be read; their afflictions were rather favors than afflictions; all that befell them from the Red Sea through the wilderness; and then tzar is taken actively, he afflicted not: this may note his clemency, their sting was taken out; either way it may be read according to the different spelling of lo, whether by aleph or vau. The first seems the more genuine; they that list to drive this notion further may consult the Latin Synopsis, and the English Annotations. The angel of his presence; the same that conducted them through the wilderness, called an angel, Exodus 33:2, and his presence, Isaiah 63:14, and Jehovah, Exodus 13:21; so that it must be the Lord Jesus Christ, who appeared to Moses in the bush, as Stephen doth interpret it, Acts 7:35, &c. Other angels are in his presence, but they were not always; he was ever so, therefore so called by way of eminency; hence the LXX. express it not a legate, or angel, but himself. Saved them from the house of bondage; brought them through the Red Sea, the wilderness, &c. Their Rock was Christ, 1 Corinthians 10:4.

In his love and in his pity: this shows the ground of his kindness; they were a stubborn, superstitious, idolatrous people, yet Christ’s love and pity saved them for all that; it was because he loved them.

He bare them, and carried them; he left them not to shift for themselves, but bare them as a father his child, or an eagle her young ones; he carried them in the arms of his power; see Isaiah 46:4; and on the wings of his providence: see Deu 32:10-12; and See Poole "Deu 1:31". And he is said to do it

of old, to remember his ancient kindness for many generations past; elam signifies an eternity, or a long time past, as well as to come; from the clays of Abraham or Moses, from their bondage in Egypt, to the time of Isaiah; and it is used as an argument to move him to do so still; he will carry her till he bring her unto his Father. In all their affliction he was afflicted,.... That is, God, who said the above words; not properly speaking; for to be afflicted is not consistent with his nature and perfections, being a spirit, and impassible; nor with his infinite and complete happiness; but this is said after the manner of men, and is expressive of the sympathy of God with his afflicted people, and his tender care of them, and concern for them under affliction, as one friend may have for another: afflictions belong to the people of God; they come to them, not by chance, but according to the will of God; and are not in wrath, but in love; they are many and various; there is an "all" of them, yet not one too many, and in everyone of them God is afflicted, or sympathizes with them: as he looked upon the affliction of the people of Israel, in Egypt, at the Red sea, and in the wilderness, and had compassion upon them, and saved them, so he visits all his people when afflicted, and pities them, and speaks comfortably to them; knows and owns their souls in adversity; makes known himself to them; grants them his gracious presence; puts underneath them his everlasting arms; makes their bed in their affliction, and supplies their wants; and this sympathy arises from their union to him, from his relation to them as a Father, and from his great love to them. There is a double reading of these words; the marginal reading is, "in all their affliction there is affliction to him" (t); or, "he was afflicted"; which our version follows: the textual reading is, "there is no affliction"; or, "he was not afflicted" (u); he seemed to take no notice of their affliction, or be concerned at it, that he might the sooner bring them to a sense of themselves and their sins, Hosea 5:15. The Targum follows this reading, and renders it actively, "and he afflicted them not" (w): they were indeed in affliction, but they, and not he, brought it upon them, and by their sins. Some render it, "he was no enemy" (x); though he afflicted them, yet not in wrath, but love; or, "in all their straits there was no strait" (y); the Israelites were in straits when Pharaoh's army pursued them behind, the rocks were on both sides them, and the sea before them, and yet there was no strait as it were, they were so soon delivered out of it; and so it may be read, "in all their afflictions there was no affliction"; there is so much love in the afflictions of God's people, and they work so much for their good, and they are so soon delivered out of them, that they scarce deserve the name of afflictions; and so both readings may be taken in, "in all their afflictions there was no affliction to him"; or to them, to Israel, to the people of God:

and the Angel of his presence saved them; not Michael, as Jarchi; but the Messiah is here meant; the Angel of the covenant, the Angel which went before the Israelites in the wilderness, Exodus 23:20 not a created angel, or an angel by nature, but by office; being sent of God, as the word signifies, on the errand and business of salvation; called "the Angel of God's presence", or "face", because his face was seen in him; his name, and nature, and perfections were in him; he is the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person besides, the presence of God was always with him; he is the "Ithiel", the Word that was with God, and with whom God always was; who lay in the bosom of his Father, and was ever with him; and who also, as Mediator, introduces his people into the presence of God, and always appears in it for them as their advocate and intercessor: now to him salvation is ascribed; he saved Israel out of Egypt, and out of the hands of all their enemies in the wilderness; and which salvation was typical of the spiritual, eternal, and complete salvation, which is only by Christ, and issues in eternal glory:

in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; Israel out of Egyptian bondage, and from all their enemies, which was owing to his great love to them, which operated in a way of mercy, pity, and compassion, Hosea 11:1, and it is he who has redeemed the spiritual Israel of God, not by power only, but by price, from sin, Satan, and the law, death, and hell, with a spiritual and eternal redemption, and which flows from his love to those persons; hence he undertook to be their Redeemer; came in their nature to redeem them; and gave himself for them for that purpose; which love is wonderful and matchless, and showed itself in pity and compassion; he became a merciful as well as a faithful high priest; he saw them in their low estate, pitied them, and delivered them out of it:

and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old; he bore them in his bosom, and in his arms, as a nursing father his child; he carried them, as on eagles' wings, from the time of their coming out of Egypt, to their settlement in Canaan's land, Numbers 11:12 he bore with their manners for forty years, and carried them through all their trials and difficulties, and supported them under them, and brought them out of them all, Acts 13:18 and so he bears all his people on his heart, and in his hands, and bears them up under all their temptations and afflictions; and, from the time of their conversion, carries on his work in them, and carries them safe to heaven, as the great Captain of their salvation, and never leaves them, nor forsakes them; see Isaiah 46:3.

(t) "angustia ipsi fuit", Calvin, Grotius; "ipse fuit contribulatus", Munster; "ipsi fuit angustum", Vitringa. (u) "non angustia, Montanus; non afflictus est", Tigurine version. (w) "Non affecit eos angustia", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "non coarctavit eos, sub. Deus, vel angustia", Forerius, (x) "Non fuit hostis", Gataker; so Gussetius, Ebr. Comment. p. 423. (y) "In omni angustia eorum non augustia", Montanus.

In all their affliction he was {i} afflicted, and the angel {k} of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bore them, and carried them all the days of old.

(i) He bore their afflictions and griefs as though they had been his own.

(k) Which was a witness of God's presence, and this may be referred to Christ, to whom belongs the office of salvation.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. In all their affliction he was afflicted] (lit. “there was affliction to Him”). This is the sense of the Qĕrê, which substitutes (to him) for the lô’ (not) of the Kĕthîb (see on ch. Isaiah 9:3). It is impossible to obtain a good sense from the consonantal text; and it is accordingly rejected in favour of the Qĕrê by nearly all commentators. There is, however, no equally strong expression of Jehovah’s sympathy with His people in the O.T.; both Jdg 10:16, and Psalm 106:44 fall far short of it. The LXX. (joining “in all their affliction” to the previous verse) continues: οὐ πρέσβυς οὐδὲ ἄγγελος, ἀλλʼ αὐτὸς ἔσωσεν αὐτούς; i.e. Not a messenger or an angel (but) His Presence saved them. The only textual difference here is that צִיר (“messenger” or “ambassador”) is read instead of צָר (“affliction”). It is true that צִיר is not elsewhere used of an angelic representative of Jehovah; but the metaphor is a natural one, and otherwise the translation has much to recommend it. (a) The “Presence” (lit. “Face”) of Jehovah is used elsewhere of His self-manifestation. The fundamental passage is Exodus 33:14-15 : “My presence shall go … If thy presence go not, &c.” But comp. also Deuteronomy 4:37; Lamentations 4:16, and see on ch. Isaiah 59:2. (b) An “angel of the Presence” on the other hand is a figure elsewhere unknown to the O.T.; the phrase would seem to be “a confusion of two forms of expression, incident to a midway stage of revelation” (Cheyne). (c) The “Face” of Jehovah, however, is not (as the LXX. inferred) just the same as Jehovah Himself in person. It is rather a name for His highest sensible manifestation, and hardly differs from what is in other places called the Mal’ak Yahveh (Angel of Jehovah). This is shewn by a comparison of Exodus 33:14 f., with Exodus 23:20-23. The verse therefore means that it was no ordinary angelic messenger, but the supreme embodiment of Jehovah’s presence that accompanied Israel in the early days. The idea has its analogies in Semitic heathenism, as when at Carthage the goddess Tanit was worshipped as the “Face of Baal,” although this has been otherwise explained (Euting, Punische Steine, p. 8).

and he bare them] Better, took them up, as in ch. Isaiah 40:15. Cf. Deuteronomy 32:11.Verse 9. - In all their affliction he was afflicted. The "affliction" of Israel began in Egypt (Genesis 15:13), probably not long after the death of Joseph. It became an intense oppression, when the king "arose who knew not Joseph" (Exodus 1:8). God's sympathy with Israel's sufferings at this time is strongly marked in the narrative of Exodus (Exodus 2:23, 24; Exodus 3:7, 17). An alternative reading of the Hebrew text gives the sense, "In all their affliction he was not an adversary;" i.e. he did not afflict them for their hurt, but for their benefit. But the reading followed by our translators, and most moderns, is to be preferred. The angel of his presence saved them. "The angel of his presence" occurs nowhere but in this place. It is probably equivalent to "the angel of God" (Exodus 14:19; Judges 15:6; Acts 27:23), or "the angel of the Lord" (Genesis 16:7; Numbers 22:23; Judges 13:3, etc.), and designates either the Second Person of the Trinity, or the highest of the angelic company, who seems to be the archangel Michael (see Pussy's 'Daniel,' pp. 525, 526). (For the angelic interpositions which "saved" Israel, see Exodus 14:19; Judges 6:11-23; Judges 13:3-21; 2 Kings 19:35, etc.) In his love and in his pity he redeemed them. The "redemption" of this passage is probably that from the bondage of Egypt (Exodus 6:6; Exodus 15:13; Deuteronomy 7:8, etc.), which belonged to "the days of old" - not the spiritual redemption from the bondage of sin, which was reserved for the time of the Messiah. Having "redeemed" them, i.e. delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and thereby, as it were, purchased them to be his own, he bare them - "Carried them on eagles' wings" (Exodus 19:4), and brought them safely through the wilderness to Palestine (comp. Deuteronomy 32:10-12). 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.

Links
Isaiah 63:9 Interlinear
Isaiah 63:9 Parallel Texts


Isaiah 63:9 NIV
Isaiah 63:9 NLT
Isaiah 63:9 ESV
Isaiah 63:9 NASB
Isaiah 63:9 KJV

Isaiah 63:9 Bible Apps
Isaiah 63:9 Parallel
Isaiah 63:9 Biblia Paralela
Isaiah 63:9 Chinese Bible
Isaiah 63:9 French Bible
Isaiah 63:9 German Bible

Bible Hub
Isaiah 63:8
Top of Page
Top of Page