In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.Isaiah 27:1. In that day, &c. — This verse, which Bishop Lowth considers as being connected with the last two verses of the preceding chapter, is translated by him as follows: “In that day shall Jehovah punish with his sword; his well-tempered, and great, and strong sword; Leviathan the rigid serpent, and Leviathan the winding serpent: and shall slay the monster that is in the sea.” And he observes, “The animals here mentioned seem to be, the crocodile, rigid, by the stiffness of the back-bone, so that he cannot readily turn himself when he pursues his prey; hence the easiest way of escaping from him is by making frequent and short turnings: the serpent, or dragon, flexible and winding, which coils himself up in a circular form; the sea-monster, or the whale. These are used allegorically, without doubt, for great potentates, enemies and persecutors of the people of God; but to specify the particular persons or states designed by the prophet under these images, is a matter of great difficulty.” Vitringa, who considers the prophecy contained in verse 19 of the preceding chapter, as referring to the deliverance granted to the Jews under the Maccabees, thinks that by the first two of these creatures, the piercing, or rigid serpent, and the crooked, or winding serpent, “the kingdoms of Egypt and Assyria are meant, as they existed after the times of Alexander the Great; and by the whale, the kingdom of Arabia, and the other neighbouring nations, which were adversaries to the people of God; or that by these three animals are to be understood the persecutors and adversaries of the church, who should exist successively in the world, and be destroyed by the divine judgments.” But whether this be the right interpretation of the allegory is much to be questioned.
In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine.Isaiah 27:2-3. In that day — When these powerful enemies shall be destroyed. Sing ye unto her — Hebrew, ענו לה, answer ye her, or say ye to her, namely, to the church of God. A vineyard of red wine — “Behold a vineyard,” or, “Thou art a vineyard of red wine,” that is, of the choicest and best wine, which in those parts was red, as appears both from the Scriptures and from heathen authors. I the Lord do keep it, &c. — I will protect my church from all her enemies, and supply her with my ordinances, word, and Spirit, with all necessary means and helps. “The import of these two verses,” says Lowth, “is, that when the enemies of God’s people are destroyed, among other songs and thanksgivings, this acknowledgment shall be made to the praise of God, and of the church which he protects, that as she is fruitful in all good works, so God continually watches over her, and defends her from danger.”
I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.
Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together.Isaiah 27:4-5. Fury is not in me — Namely, against my vineyard or my people; I have been displeased with them, and have chastized them, but I am not implacable toward them, and resolved utterly to destroy them, as their enemies are. Who would set the briers and thorns against me, &c. — Yet if any hypocrite in the church, false professor, or wilful sinner, shall offer to contend with me, he shall feel the effects of my fury. Or, more largely, thus: “Though fury doth not belong to me, and vengeance be called my strange work, (Isaiah 28:21,) yet if the briers and thorns, that is, the wicked and incorrigible, bid defiance to me, they will find I shall soon destroy and consume them like fire.” Or let him take hold of my strength, &c. — Rather, let such a one return to me, and make his peace with me, by unfeigned repentance and living faith, and he shall make peace with me — For I am always ready to receive returning sinners, and to pardon the truly penitent, who have recourse to me for mercy and salvation.
Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.
He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.Isaiah 27:6. He shall cause them of Jacob to take root — To be firmly settled in their possessions. The words may be rendered, In times to come he shall cause Jacob to take root. Israel shall blossom and bud — Shall revive and flourish. The metaphor of a vine is still pursued, and these expressions signify the increase of the Jewish people, after their return from their captivity in Babylon. And fill the face of the world with fruit — Their posterity shall be so numerous that their own land shall not be sufficient for them, but they shall be forced to seek habitations in other countries, and shall replenish them with people. This prediction was indeed fulfilled after the captivity; for the Jews filled all Judea and Syria, and were spread over all the Roman empire, as appears, not only from their own histories, but from the books of the New Testament. See note on Isaiah 26:15. But, perhaps, this is chiefly intended to be understood of the spiritual seed of Jacob, or of believers, who are often called God’s Israel, as Romans 9:6, and elsewhere.
Hath he smitten him, as he smote those that smote him? or is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him?Isaiah 27:7. Hath he smitten him — Namely, Jacob; as he smote those that smote him? — The question implies a denial. He hath not so smitten him. He hath not dealt so severely with his people as he hath with their enemies, whom he hath utterly destroyed. Or is he slain as those slain by him — Namely, those slain by God on the behalf of Israel? The meaning is, God had never permitted the Jews to be smitten to their entire destruction, as he had their enemies, but had always taken care to preserve a remnant.
In measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it: he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind.Isaiah 27:8. In measure when it shooteth forth — Rather, In measure when thou sendest it forth, as בסאסאה בשׁלחה, may be properly rendered. The words seem to be addressed by the prophet to God, and to signify that God would observe a measure in punishing the Jewish people, and not go beyond a certain degree; and that he then would send them forth again, namely, from captivity: from which God, after they had suffered sufficient correction, would deliver them by a singular providence. Thou wilt debate, or contend with it — God is said to debate or contend with men, when he executes his judgments upon them. But תריבנהmay be rendered, Thou wilt contend for it, that is, undertake its cause and defend it. This is still spoken of God’s singular protection of the Jews, when they returned from Babylon. He stayeth his rough wind — He mitigates the severity of the judgment; in the day of the east wind — In the time when he sendeth forth his east wind, that is, very grievous and destructive calamities. The cast wind, being a dry, blasting wind, and the most violent and destructive of all others in those parts of the world, is frequently put, in the Scriptures, for the calamities of war, and such like wasting judgments: see Jeremiah 4:11-12; Ezekiel 17:10; and Ezekiel 19:12; Hosea 13:15. Here it seems to be mentioned with a reference to the shooting forth of the branches of the vine, spoken of in the foregoing words, that wind being very prejudicial to tender shoots.
By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up.Isaiah 27:9. By this therefore — By this manner of God’s dealing with his people; shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged — Hebrew, יכפר, expiated, or forgiven: that is, by these chastisements Jacob shall be brought to true repentance, and in consequence thereof shall be pardoned. And this is all the fruit — The effect designed to be produced, by these severe corrections; to take away his sin — Not to destroy the sinner, as others are often destroyed by the calamities brought upon them, but only to take away the guilt and power of his sins; when he, &c. — Which sin of Jacob shall be taken away, and the punishment thereof removed, when he shall give such an evidence of the reality of his repentance as to destroy all the objects, instruments, means, and signs of idolatry out of the land; when he maketh the stones of the altar — Namely, the idolatrous altar, or altars, as chalk-stones — That is, broken into small pieces, and reduced to powder and dust. Possibly he may say, the altar, with respect to that particular altar which Ahaz had set up in the place of God’s altar; and this prophecy might be delivered in Ahaz’s time, while that altar stood and was used. He seems to allude to Moses’s showing his detestation of idolatry, by taking the golden calf, burning it, and grinding it to powder: and he intimates that when their repentance should be sincere, it would discover itself in a similar way. It must be observed, that of all sins, which are of a heinous nature, the Jews, till they were carried into captivity, were most inclined to idolatry, and for that sin especially, most of God’s judgments, which they had hitherto suffered, had been inflicted upon them. But of that most unreasonable and wicked inclination they were in a great measure cured by that severe punishment, the seventy years captivity in Babylon. The groves and images shall not stand up — Shall be thrown down with contempt and indignation.
Yet the defenced city shall be desolate, and the habitation forsaken, and left like a wilderness: there shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down, and consume the branches thereof.Isaiah 27:10-11. Yet, &c. — Before this glorious promise, concerning the removal of Israel’s sin and calamity, shall be fulfilled, a dreadful and desolating judgment shall come upon them. The defenced city shall be desolate — Jerusalem, and the rest of the defenced cities of the land, the singular number being put for the plural; and the habitation forsaken — The most inhabited and populous parts of the country; or, as נוהproperly signifies, their pleasant habitation, whether in the city or country; left like a wilderness — Which was the case in the time of the Babylonish captivity. There shall the calf feed — The calf is put for all sorts of cattle, which, it is foretold, should securely feed there, because there should be no man left to disturb or annoy them; and consume the branches thereof — Of their pleasant habitation; of the young trees that grow up in that desolated country. When the boughs thereof are withered — As they will be when they are thus gnawed and cropped by cattle; they shall be broken off — That there may be no hopes of their recovery. The women come, &c. —
He mentions women, because the men would be destroyed. For it is a people of no understanding — They neither know me, nor themselves; neither my word, nor my works: they know not the things which concern their peace, but blindly and wilfully go on in sin. Therefore he that made them — Both as they are creatures, and as they are his people; for this also is expressed by making, or forming; will not have mercy on them — So as to save them from this dreadful calamity and ruin, which they bring on themselves. Thus he overthrows their false and presumptuous conceit, that God would never destroy the work of his own hands, nor the seed of Abraham his friend.
When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off: the women come, and set them on fire: for it is a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no favour.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel.Isaiah 27:12-13. It shall come to pass, &c., that the Lord shall beat off — Or, beat out: which is not meant in the way of punishment, but as an act of mercy, as is evident from the following clause of this, and of the next verse: the sense is, He shall sever, and take from among the nations, and gather together, like thrashed corn into the garner; from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt — All the Israelites that are scattered in those parts. It is a metaphor taken from thrashing, or beating out and separating the pure grain from the chaff. And ye shall be gathered one by one — Which signifies God’s exact and singular care of them. And in that day the great trumpet shall be blown — God shall summon them, as it were, by the sound of trumpet, namely, by an eminent call, or act of his providence on their behalf. He alludes to the custom of calling the Israelites together with trumpets: of which see Numbers 10:2-3. And they shall come which were in the land of Assyria — Into which the ten tribes had been carried captive; and the outcasts in the land of Egypt — Where many of the Jews were, as is manifest, both from the Scriptures and from other authors. This prediction had its first accomplishment in the restoration of the Jews from Babylon, to whom many of the Israelites from Assyria were joined, and returned with them; and to whom many from Egypt, and other parts, came and united themselves, and having rebuilt the city and temple, worshipped the Lord, as is here said, in his holy mountain at Jerusalem. But this prophecy has manifestly a further aspect, and foretels the restoration of the Jews in the latter times; when, the gospel trumpet having been blown, and the fulness of the Gentiles brought in, the Jews shall be gathered from their several dispersions, united to God’s church, numbered among his true worshippers, and probably reinstated in their own land.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.