Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.Isaiah 4:1. “A companion picture to Isaiah 3:6 … the male population are in search of a ruler; the women in search of a husband” (Weir, quoted by Cheyne). The verse, therefore, represents an episode in that scene of anarchy which has been the main burden of this prophecy.
let us be called …] let thy name be named over us. The wife bore the husband’s name, but only, it would seem, in such designations as “Sarai, Abram’s wife,” Genesis 16:1, &c.
to take away …] take thou away our reproach (R.V.). The disgrace of being unmarried is meant (Jdg 11:37 f.).
Grotius cites a touching parallel from Lucan (Pharsal. II. 342):—
da tantum nomen inane
Connubii: liceat tumulo scripsisse, Catonis Marcia.
In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.2. The luxuriant vegetation of the Holy Land in the latter days will reflect glory on the inhabitants as a proof of Jehovah’s signal favour—a frequent thought in Messianic prophecy: Amos 9:13; Hosea 2:21. f.; Isaiah 30:23; Jeremiah 31:12; Ezekiel 34:26-30; Ezekiel 36:34 f.; Zechariah 9:16 f.; Malachi 3:12; Joel 3:18; and cf. Leviticus 26:3-5; Deuteronomy 28:3-5; Deuteronomy 28:10-12. The verse has a close resemblance to ch. Isaiah 28:5.
the branch of the Lord] better, the growth of Jehovah, that which Jehovah causes to grow. The word occurs in the same sense in Genesis 19:15 (A.V. “that which grew”) and Isaiah 61:11 (“bud”). It stands in parallelism with the fruit of the land (not earth) in the next clause, and both expressions are to be understood quite literally. The reference to a personal Messiah is thus excluded by the context; for few will be prepared to apply both expressions to Christ, the former to His divine sonship and the latter to His human birth (although this view is defended by Delitzsch on the analogy of Ezekiel 17:5). It is true that afterwards the Heb. word for “growth” (çemaḥ) came to be used as a, title of the Messiah (Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12), but this usage rests on Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15, where the Messiah is described as a scion (çemaḥ) of the Davidic house. Observe that it is an entirely different word which is translated “Branch” in Isaiah 11:1.
beautiful and glorious … excellent and comely] better, for beauty and glory … for a pride and a renown.
to the escaped of Israel] those who have been spared in the day of the Lord’s anger. Cf. ch. Isaiah 10:20, Isaiah 37:31.
2–6. The Final State of Zion and the Redeemed Israel
Beyond the great judgment there is revealed to the prophet a vision of the ideal religious community, blessed with an exuberant supernatural fertility imparted to the soil (Isaiah 4:2), purified from sin (Isaiah 4:3-4), and overshadowed by the protecting presence of Jehovah (Isaiah 4:5-6). It is a picture of the glorious Messianic age which immediately follows the day of the Lord. Those who inherit its glories are the survivors of the catastrophe (Isaiah 4:2-3). Although the section has no definite historical background, it is obviously written as the sequel to ch. 2. 3; the allusion to the “daughters of Zion” (Isaiah 4:4) would scarcely be intelligible apart from Isaiah 3:16 ff., and possibly the glory of nature mentioned in Isaiah 4:2 may form an antithesis to the artificial glories of civilisation in Isaiah 2:7 ff. At the same time it is reasonable to suppose that the verses have only a literary connexion with the preceding oracles, and formed no part of Isaiah’s spoken message in the time of Ahaz.
By some recent critics (Duhm, Hackmann, Cheyne) the passage is assigned to a later editor of Isaiah’s prophecies, and even so cautious a scholar as Dillmann hesitates with regard to the last two verses.” The objections are based chiefly on considerations of style, and on the alleged post-Exilic character of the ideas and the symbolism. It is true that some leading words (such as those rendered “branch,” “create,” “defence,” “covert”) do not occur elsewhere in genuine writings of Isaiah. The imagery also is of a more pronounced apocalyptic cast than we might expect from Isaiah, and the style seems somewhat laboured and cumbrous. But on the other hand the main ideas—the salvation of a remnant, purification through judgment, the regeneration of nature—can all be paralleled from Isaiah, and this fact must be allowed some weight in favour of his authorship.
And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem:3. The character of the escaped remnant. They shall be called holy ch. Isaiah 60:14, Isaiah 61:6, Isaiah 62:12. “Holiness” here includes the ideas of consecration to God, and inviolability (Jeremiah 2:3) as well as of moral purity (Isaiah 4:4).
written among the living] rather, written for life, i.e. not any chance survivor, but those who are predestined to life (cf. Acts 13:48). The figure is derived from the burgess rolls in which the name of every qualified citizen was to be found (cf. Nehemiah 7:64); hence comes the idea of the “book of life” containing the names of all the true people of God; Exodus 32:32 f.; Psalm 69:28; Daniel 12:1; Luke 10:20; Php 4:3; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 20:12; Revelation 20:15; Revelation 22:19 (and cf. “bundle of life,” 1 Samuel 25:29). The transition from the secular to the religious sense may be seen in Ezekiel 13:9.
When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.4. If (once) Jehovah have washed, &c. Although the order is unusual this verse must be taken as a conditional sentence depending on Isaiah 4:3. spirit of burning] better, spirit of extermination (as in Isaiah 6:13; 1 Kings 22:46, &c.). The medium of the judgment is the “Spirit,” the divine energy, which is operative alike in the physical and in the moral sphere (cf. ch. Isaiah 32:15).
And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence.5. upon every dwelling place …] rather, over the whole (divine) habitation of Mount Zion. The word is never used of human dwellings. It might be translated, “foundation”; in either case it is equivalent to “sanctuary.”
her assemblies] convocations, worshipping assemblies, as in Isaiah 1:13.
a cloud … night] better (disregarding the accents), a cloud by day and smoke with the shining of a flaming fire by night.
for upon all the glory … defence] A perplexing clause. A literal translation would be for over every glory (should be) a canopy. So rendered, the words express a general principle of ceremonial propriety: wherever there is “a glory” (as e.g. royal majesty), it must be provided with a suitable canopy. The clause may be a marginal gloss suggested to a reader by the first part of the verse. The word for “canopy” occurs only in Psalm 19:5; Joel 2:16 in the sense of “nuptial pavilion” (see Robertson Smith, Marriage and Kinship in Early Arabia, pp. 168f.). In post-biblical Hebrew it means (as here) “canopy” in general.
5, 6. The gracious presence of God becomes a visible fact to men’s eyes, in the cloud of fire and smoke which overshadows and protects the new Jerusalem. The symbolism is drawn from the story of the Exodus and the tabernacle in the desert (Exodus 13:21 f., Exodus 40:34-38, &c.).
And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.6. a tabernacle] a pavilion as in Psalm 18:11.
in the daytime] is omitted by the LXX.
for a place of refuge … rain] for a refuge and shelter from storm and from rain. The mention of these “lesser inconveniences” reads like an anticlimax. It is certainly difficult to think that Isaiah would have written so weak a conclusion to an important oracle. The passage may be fragmentary.