Isaiah 65:17
For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Behold, I create new heavens . . .—The thought reappears in many forms in the New Testament—verbally in 2Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1, substantially in the “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21), in the “manifestation of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19). The “former things,” the sin and sorrow of the past, shall then fade away from the memory of God’s people, absorbed in the abounding and everlasting joy.

Isaiah 65:17-19. For behold, I create new heavens, &c. — I will tell you yet a more admirable thing: I am about wholly to change the state, not only of my people, freeing them from the afflictions and troubles by which they have been oppressed, but also of the world, bringing a new face upon it; sending my Son to institute a new economy and worship, and raise up a new church; and pouring out my Spirit in a more plentiful manner; which new state shall continue until a new heaven and a new earth appear, in which shall dwell nothing but righteousness, 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1. And the former shall not be remembered — That state of things shall be so glorious, that the former state of my people shall not be noticed in comparison of it. But be you glad and rejoice for ever — You that are my people. Though you cannot rejoice with that degree of joy which will attend the fruition of such a good, yet be glad and rejoice with the rejoicing of hope, for the thing is certain, and what I have already begun to do. Nor let your present state, nor the discouragements you have from seeming improbabilities, prevent your joy; for it is not a work to be performed in an ordinary way, or by an ordinary power, but by that almighty and creating energy which produces and brings into being what before had no existence. For behold, I create Jerusalem — Namely, the gospel church; a rejoicing — That is, a cause and source of joy, because of the light and grace, the wisdom, holiness, and happiness that shall be possessed by its members, the pure doctrine which shall be held and professed, and the excellent discipline which shall be maintained in it; and her people a joy — They shall not only rejoice, but be rejoiced in: those that sorrowed with the church shall rejoice with her. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem — The prosperity of the church shall be a rejoicing to God himself, who has pleasure in the prosperity of his servants; and joy in my people — Taking complacency in the work of my grace wrought in them, and in the works of righteousness wrought by them. And the voice of weeping shall be no more heard — Such promises, many of which are to be found in the Scriptures, must either be understood in a comparative sense, meaning they shall suffer no such misery as formerly, or as signifying only some long or eminent state of happiness; unless they be referred to another life, in which case they may be taken strictly, as signifying a perpetuity and perfection of joy and happiness.65:17-25 In the grace and comfort believers have in and from Christ, we are to look for this new heaven and new earth. The former confusions, sins and miseries of the human race, shall be no more remembered or renewed. The approaching happy state of the church is described under a variety of images. He shall be thought to die in his youth, and for his sins, who only lives to the age of a hundred years. The event alone can determine what is meant; but it is plain that Christianity, if universal, would so do away violence and evil, as greatly to lengthen life. In those happy days, all God's people shall enjoy the fruit of their labours. Nor will children then be the trouble of their parents, or suffer trouble themselves. The evil dispositions of sinners shall be completely moritified; all shall live in harmony. Thus the church on earth shall be full of happiness, like heaven. This prophecy assures the servants of Christ, that the time approaches, wherein they shall be blessed with the undisturbed enjoyment of all that is needful for their happiness. As workers together with God, let us attend his ordinances, and obey his commands.For behold - The idea in this verse is, that there should be a state of glory as great as if a new heaven and a new earth were to be made.

I create new heavens - Calamity and punishment in the Bible are often represented by the heavens growing dark, and being rolled up like as a scroll, or passing away (see the notes at Isaiah 13:10; Isaiah 34:4). On the contrary, prosperity, happiness, and the divine favor, are represented by the clearing up of a cloudy sky; by the restoration of the serene and pure light of the sun; or, as here, by the creation of new heavens (compare the notes at Isaiah 51:16). The figure of great transformations in material things is one that is often employed in the Scriptures, and especially in Isaiah, to denote great spiritual changes (see Isaiah 11; Isaiah 51:3; Isaiah 35:1-2, Isaiah 35:7; Isaiah 60:13, Isaiah 60:17). In the New Testament, the phrase used here is employed to denote the future state of the righteous; but whether on earth, after it shall have been purified by fire, or in heaven, has been a subject of great difference of opinion (see 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1).

The passage before us is highly poetical, and we are not required to understand it literally. There is, so far as the language is concerned, no more reason for understanding this literally than there is for so understanding the numerous declarations which affirm that the brute creation will undergo a change in their very nature, on the introduction of the gospel Isaiah 11; and all that the language necessarily implies is, that there would be changes in the condition of the people of God as great as if the heavens, overcast with clouds and subject to storms, should be recreated, so as to become always mild and serene; or as if the earth, so barren in many places, should become universally fertile and beautiful. The immediate reference here is, doubtless, to the land of Palestine, and to the important changes which would be produced there on the return of the exiles; but it cannot be doubted that, under this imagery, there was couched a reference to far more important changes and blessings in future times under the Messiah - changes as great as if a barren and sterile world should become universally beautiful and fertile.

For the former shall not be remembered - That is, that which shall be created shall be so superior in beauty as entirely to eclipse the former. The sense is, that the future condition of the people of God would be as superior to what it was in ancient times as would be a newly created earth and heaven superior in beauty to this - where the heavens are so often obscured by clouds, and where the earth is so extensively desolate or barren.

Nor come into mind - Margin, as Hebrew, 'Upon the heart.' That is, it shall not be thought of; it shall be wholly forgotten. On this verse, compare the notes at Isaiah 51:16.

17. As Caleb inherited the same land which his feet trod on (De 1:36; Jos 14:9), so Messiah and His saints shall inherit the renovated earth which once they trod while defiled by the enemy (Isa 34:4; 51:16; 66:22; Eze 21:27; Ps 2:8; 37:11; 2Pe 3:13; Heb 12:26-28 Re 21:1).

not be remembered—See on [874]Isa 65:16, note on "troubles"; the words here answer to "the former … forgotten," &c. The former sorrows of the earth, under the fall, shall be so far from recurring, that their very remembrance shall be obliterated by the many mercies I will bestow on the new earth (Re 21:4-27).

For, behold, I will tell you yet a more admirable thing, I am about wholly to alter and change the state not only of my people, who are now afflicted, restoring them to a more lightsome state, more free from trouble and afflictions; but

I create new heavens and a new earth, bringing a new face upon the world, sending my Son to raise up a new church, and to institute a new worship, John 4:21,24, and giving out my Spirit in a more plentiful manner, Acts 2:17, which new state shall abide until a new heaven and earth appear, in which shall dwell nothing but righteousness, 2 Peter 3:13 Revelation 21:1. And that state of things shall be such, and so glorious, as the former state of my people shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. Whether this new heavens and new earth here promised signifies such a stale of the church wherein Christ shall personally reign upon earth over his saints, the wicked being destroyed, (as some have thought lie shall for a thousand years,) I very much doubt, and do not see how from this and the parallel texts any such thing can be concluded. For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth,.... This prophecy began to have its accomplishment in the first times of the Gospel, when through the preaching of it there was a new face of things appeared in Judea, and in the Gentile world, so that the whole looked like a new world; and this was all the effect of creating power, of the mighty, powerful, and efficacious grace of God attending the word, to the conversion of many souls; a new church state was formed, consisting of persons gathered out of the world, the old national church of the Jews being dissolved, and Gospel churches everywhere set up; new ordinances appointed, to continue till Christ's second coming and the old ones abolished; a new way of worship observed, at least in a more spiritual and evangelic manner; a new covenant exhibited, or the covenant of grace held forth in a new form of administration, the former waxen old and vanished away; and the new and living way to the Father, through Christ, made more manifest: this will have a further accomplishment at the conversion of the Jews, which will be as life from the dead, and things will look like a new world with them; their blindness will be removed, the veil will be taken away from them; they will part with all their legal rites and ceremonies, and the traditions of the elders, and embrace the Messiah, and all his truths and ordinances; old things shall pass away, and all things become new: and it shall have its complete accomplishments in the New Jerusalem state, when not only Christ will appear, and make all things new in a spiritual sense, and that completely; but even in a literal sense there will be new heavens, and a new earth, which John in vision saw; and which Peter says he and other believers expected, according to the promise of God, when these heavens and earth shall be dissolved and pass away; and unless this passage is referred to by him, it will be difficult to find where this promise is; see Revelation 21:1,

and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind; either the old heavens and earth, which shall pass away, and be no more seen; or the former state both of the Jewish, and Gentile world; or the former troubles, as in the preceding verse, taken in the sense of affliction and persecution; all antichristian troubles shall cease in the latter day, after the conversion of the Jews, and especially in the New Jerusalem state; see Isaiah 2:4.

For, behold, I create {y} new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

(y) I will so altar and change the state of my church, that it will seem to dwell in a new world.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. new heavens and a new earth] i.e. a new universe, Hebrew having no single word for the Cosmos (cf. ch. Isaiah 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). The phrase sums up a whole aspect of the prophetic theology. The idea of a transformation of nature so as to be in harmony with a renewed humanity has met us several times in the earlier part of the book (ch. Isaiah 11:6-9, Isaiah 29:17, Isaiah 30:23 ff., Isa 32:15, 35, &c.), and is a frequent theme of prophecy, but the thought of a new creation is nowhere expressed so absolutely as here. It may have been suggested to the prophet by ch. Isaiah 51:6, where it is said that the present universe shall be dissolved, although it is doubtful if that verse contains more than a metaphorical expression of the transitoriness of the material in contrast with the spiritual. Here there can be no doubt that the words are to be interpreted literally. At the same time the new creation preserves as it were the form of the old, for the next verse shews that a new Jerusalem is the centre of the renovated earth.

the former] R.V. the former things. The reference may be specifically to the “former troubles” of Isaiah 65:16, or generally to the old state of things which shall have vanished for ever.

nor come into mind] Lit. “come up on the heart,” as Jeremiah 3:16; Jeremiah 7:31, &c.

17–25. The last sentence of Isaiah 65:16 inspires the loftiest flight of the prophet’s imagination. The “former troubles shall be forgotten” in the glories of a new creation, in which all things minister to the welfare of Jehovah’s regenerate people.Verses 17-25. - A PROMISE OF NEW HEAVENS AND A NEW EARTH. The final answer of God to the complaint and prayer of his people (ch. 64.) is now given. The entire existing state of things is to pass away. God will create a new heaven and a new earth, and place his people therein; and the old conditions will be all changed, and the old grounds of complaint disappear. In the "new Jerusalem" there will be no sorrow, neither "weeping" nor "crying" (ver. 19); life will be greatly prolonged (ver. 20); men will always enjoy the fruit of their labours (vers. 21, 22), and see their children grow up (ver. 23). Prayer will be answered almost before it is uttered (ver. 24). Finally, there will be peace in the animal world, and between the animal world and man. No living thing will kill or hurt another in all God's "holy mountain" (ver. 25). Verse 17. - I create. The same verb is used as in Genesis 1:1; and the prophet's idea seems to be that the existing heaven and earth are to be entirely destroyed (see Isaiah 24:19, 20, and the comment ad loc.), and a fresh heaven and earth created in their place out of nothing. The "new Jerusalem" is not the old Jerusalem renovated, but is a veritable "new Jerusalem," "created a rejoicing" (ver. 18; scrap. Revelation 21:2). The germ of the teaching will be found in Isaiah 51:16. The former shall not be remembered. Some suppose "the former troubles" (see ver. 16) to be meant; but it is best (with Delitzsch) to understand "the former heavens and earth." The glory of the new heavens and earth would be such that the former ones would not only not be regretted, but would not even be had in remembrance. No one would so much as think of them. Μήνη appears in μηναγύρθς equals μητραγύρθς as the name of Cybele, the mother of the gods. In Egyptian, Menhi is a form of Isis in the city of Hat-uer. The Ithyphallic Min, the cognomen of Amon, which is often written in an abbreviated form with the spelling men (Copt. MHIN, signum), is further removed.

Isaiah 65:11The prophecy now turns again to those already indicated and threatened in Isaiah 65:1-7. "And ye, who are enemies to Jehovah, O ye that are unmindful of my holy mountain, who prepare a table for Gad, and fill up mixed drink for the goddess of destiny - I have destined you to the sword, and ye will all bow down to the slaughter, because I have called and ye have not replied, I have spoken and ye have not heard; and ye did evil in mine eyes, and ye chose that which I did not like." It may be taken for granted as a thing generally admitted, that Isaiah 65:11 refers to two deities, and to the lectisternia (meals of the gods, cf., Jeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 51:44) held in their honour. שׁלחן ערך is the other side of the lectum sternere, i.e., the spreading of the cushions upon which the images of the gods were placed during such meals of the gods as these. In the passage before us, at any rate, the lectus answering to the shulchân (like the sella used in the case of the goddesses) is to be taken as a couch for eating, not for sleeping on. In the second clause, therefore, ממסך למני והממלאים (which is falsely accentuated in our editions with tifchah mercha silluk, instead of mercha tifchah silluk), ממסך מלּא signifies to fill with mixed drink, i.e., with wine mixed with spices, probably oil of spikenard. מלּא may be connected not only with the accusative of the vessel filled, but also with that of the thing with which it is filled (e.g., Exodus 28:17). Both names have the article, like הבּעל. הגּד is perfectly clear; if used as an appellative, it would mean "good fortune." The word has this meaning in all the three leading Semitic dialects, and it also occurs in this sense in Genesis 30:11, where the chethib is to be read בּגד (lxx ἐν τύχῃ). The Aramaean definitive is גּדּא (not גּדא), as the Arabic 'gadd evidently shows. The primary word is גּדד (Arab. 'gadda), to cut off, to apportion; so that Arab. jaddun, like the synonymous ḥaḍḍun, signifies that which is appointed, more especially the good fortune appointed. There can be no doubt, therefore, that Gad, the god of good fortune, more especially if the name of the place Baal-Gad is to be explained in the same way as Baal-hammn, is Baal (Bel) as the god of good fortune. Gecatilia (Mose ha-Cohen) observes, that this is the deified planet Jupiter. This star is called by the Arabs "the greater luck" as being the star of good fortune; and in all probability it is also the rabb-el-bacht (lord of good fortune) worshipped by the Ssabians (Chwolsohn, ii. 30, 32). It is true that it is only from the passage before us that we learn that it was worshipped by the Babylonians; for although H. Rawlinson once thought that he had found the names Gad and Menni in certain Babylonian inscriptions (Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, xii. p. 478), the Babylonian Pantheon in G. Rawlinson's Monarchies contains neither of these names. With this want of corroborative testimony, the fact is worthy of notice, that a Rabbi named 'Ulla, who sprang from Babylon, explains the דרגשׁ of the Mishna by דגדא ערסא (a sofa dedicated to the god of prosperity, and often left unused) (b. Nedarim 56a; cf., Sanhedrin 20a).

(Note: The foreign formula of incantation given in b. Sabbath 67a, ובושכי עושדי ל וסינוק ידג דג (according to the glosses, "O Fortune, give good fortune, and be not tardy day and night"), also belongs here; whereas the name of a place not far from Siloah, called Gad-yavan (Gad of Greece), contains some allusion to the mythology of Greece, which we are unable to trace. In the later usage of the language Gad appears to have acquired the general meaning of numen (e.g., b. Chullin 40a; דהר גד, the mountain-spirit); and this helps to explain the fact that in Pehlewi גדמן signifies majesty in a royal, titular sense (see Vuller's Lex.; and Spiegel in the Indische Studien, 3, 412).)

But if Gad is Jupiter, nothing is more probable than that Meni is Venus; for the planet Venus is also regarded as a star of prosperity, and is called by the Arabs "the lesser luck." The name Meni in itself, indeed, does not necessarily point to a female deity; for meni from mânâh, if taken as a passive participial noun (like גּרי בּריה, a creature), signifies "that which is apportioned;" or if taken as a modification of the primary form many, like גּדי, טלי, צבי, and many others, allotment, destination, fate. We have synonyms in the Arabic mana-n and meniye, and the Persian bacht (adopted into the Arabic), which signify the general fate, and from which bago-bacht is distinguished as signifying that which is exceptionally allotted by the gods. The existence of a deity of this name meni is also probably confirmed by the occurrence of the personal name עבדמני on certain Aramaeo-Persian coins of the Achaemenides,

(Note: See Rdiger in the concluding part of the thes. p. 97.)

with which Frst associates the personal name Achiman (see his Lex.), combining מן with Μήν, and מני with Μήνη, as Movers (Phnizier, i. 650) and Knobel have also done. מן and מני would then be Semitic forms of these Indo-Germanic names of deities; for Μήν is Deus Lunus, the worship of which in Carrae (Charran) is mentioned by Spartian in chapter vi. of the Life of Caracalla, whilst Strabo (xii. 3, 31, 32) speaks of it as being worshipped in Pontus, Phrygia, and other places; and Μήνη is Dea Luna (cf., Γενείτη Μάνη in Plut. quaest. Romans 52, Genita Mana in Plin. h. n. 29, 4, and Dea Mena in Augustine, Civ. 4, 11), which was worshipped, according to Diodorus (iii. 56) and Nonnus (Dionys. v. 70 ss.), in Phoenicia and Africa. The rendering of the lxx may be quoted in favour of the identity of the latter with מני (ἑτοιμάζοντες τῷ δαιμονίῳ (another reading δαίμονι τράπεζαν καὶ πληροῦντες τῇ τύχῃ κέρασμα), especially if we compare with this what Macrobius says in Saturn. i. 19, viz., that "according to the Egyptians there are four of the gods which preside over the birth of men, Δαίμων Τύχη ̓́Ερωσ ̓Ανάγκη. Of these Daimōn is the sun, the author of spirit, of warmth, and of light. Tychē is the moon, as the goddess through whom all bodies below the moon grow and disappear, and whose ever changing course accompanies the multiform changes of this mortal life."

(Note: See Ge. Zoega's Abhandlungen, edited by Welcker (1817), pp. 39, 40.)

In perfect harmony with this is the following passage of Vettius Valens, the astrologer of Antioch, which has been brought to light by Selden in his Syntagma de Diis Syris: Κλῆροι τῆς τύχης καὶ τοῦ δαίμονος σημαίνουσιν (viz., by the signs of nativity) ἣλιον τε καὶ σελήνην. Rosenmller very properly traces back the Sept. rendering to this Egyptian view, according to which Gad is the sun-god, and Meni the lunar goddess as the power of fate. Now it is quite true that the passage before us refers to Babylonian deities, and not to Egyptian; at the same time there might be some relation between the two views, just as in other instances ancient Babylonia and Egypt coincide.

But there are many objections that may be offered to the combination of מני (Meni) and Μήνη: (1.) The Babylonian moon-deity was either called Sı̄n, as among the ancient Shemites generally, or else by other names connected with ירח (ירח) and châmar. (2.) The moon is called mâs is Sanscrit, Zendic mâo, Neo-Pers. mâh (mah); but in the Arian languages we meet with no such names as could be traced to a root mân as the expansion of mâ (to measure), like μήν μήνη), Goth. mena; for the ancient proper names which Movers cites, viz., ̓Αριαμένησ ̓Αρταμένης, etc., are traceable rather to the Arian manas equals μένος, mens, with which Minerva (Menerva, endowed with mind) is connected. (3.) If meni were the Semitic form of the name for the moon, we should expect a closer reciprocal relation in the meanings of the words. We therefore subscribe to the view propounded by Gesenius, who adopts the pairing of Jupiter and Venus common among the Arabs, as the two heavenly bodies that preside over the fortunes of men; and understands by Meni Venus, and by Gad Jupiter. There is nothing at variance with this in the fact that 'Ashtoreth (Ishtar, with 'Ashērâh) is the name of Venus (the morning star), as we have shown at Isaiah 14:12. Meni is her special name as the bestower of good fortune and the distributor of fate generally; probably identical with Mant, one of the three leading deities of the prae-Islamitish Arabs.

(Note: See Krehl, Religion der vorislamischen Araber, p. 78. Sprenger in his Life of Mohammad, 1862, compares the Arabic Manât with מני.)

The address proceeds with umânı̄thı̄ (and I have measured), which forms an apodosis and contains a play upon the name of Meni, Isaiah 65:11 being as it were a protasis indicating the principal reason of their approaching fate. Because they sued for the favour of the two gods of fortune (the Arabs call them es-sa'dâni, "the two fortunes") and put Jehovah into the shade, Jehovah would assign them to the sword, and they would all have to bow down (כּרע as in Isaiah 10:4). Another reason is now assigned for this, the address thus completing the circle, viz., because when I called ye did not reply, when I spake ye did not hear (this is expressed in the same paratactic manner as in Isaiah 5:4; Isaiah 12:1; Isaiah 50:2), and ye have done, etc.: an explanatory clause, consisting of four members, which is repeated almost word for word in Isaiah 66:4 (cf., Isaiah 56:4).

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