Isaiah 1:8
And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.
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(8) The daughter of Zion.—The phrase stands, as everywhere (Psalm 45:12; Lamentations 2:8; Micah 4:10), for the ideal city personified.

Is left as a cottage in a vineyard . . .—The “hut,” or “booth,” in which the keeper of the vineyards dwelt, apart from other habitations, was an almost proverbial type of isolation, yet to such a state was Zion all but reduced. The second similitude is of the same character. Cucumbers and other plants of the gourd type (Jonah 4:6) were largely cultivated in Judæa, and here, too, each field or garden, like the olive groves and vineyards of Italy, had its solitary hut.

As a besieged city.—The comparison of the besieged city to itself is at first startling. Rhetorically, however, it forms a climax. The city was not at this time actually besieged, but it was so hemmed in with perils, so isolated from all help, that this was what its condition practically came to. It was neither more nor less than “as a besieged city,” or ‘within a measurable distance’ of becoming so.

1:1-9 Isaiah signifies, The salvation of the Lord; a very suitable name for this prophet, who prophesies so much of Jesus the Saviour, and his salvation. God's professing people did not know or consider that they owed their lives and comforts to God's fatherly care and kindness. How many are very careless in the affairs of their souls! Not considering what we do know in religion, does us as much harm, as ignorance of what we should know. The wickedness was universal. Here is a comparison taken from a sick and diseased body. The distemper threatens to be mortal. From the sole of the foot even to the head; from the meanest peasant to the greatest peer, there is no soundness, no good principle, no religion, for that is the health of the soul. Nothing but guilt and corruption; the sad effects of Adam's fall. This passage declares the total depravity of human nature. While sin remains unrepented, nothing is done toward healing these wounds, and preventing fatal effects. Jerusalem was exposed and unprotected, like the huts or sheds built up to guard ripening fruits. These are still to be seen in the East, where fruits form a large part of the summer food of the people. But the Lord had a small remnant of pious servants at Jerusalem. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed. The evil nature is in every one of us; only Jesus and his sanctifying Spirit can restore us to spiritual health.And the daughter of Zion - Zion, or Sion, was the name of one of the hills on which the city of Jerusalem was built. On this hill formerly stood the city of the Jebusites, and when David took it from them he transferred to it his court, and it was called the city of David, or the holy hill. It was in the southern part of the city. As Zion became the residence of the court, and was the most important part of the city, the name was often used to denote the city itself, and is often applied to the whole of Jerusalem. The phrase 'daughter of Zion' here means Zion itself, or Jerusalem. The name daughter is given to it by a personification in accordance with a common custom in Eastern writers, by which beautiful towns and cities are likened to young females. The name mother is also applied in the same way. Perhaps the custom arose from the fact that when a city was built, towns and villages would spring up round it - and the first would be called the mother-city (hence, the word metropolis). The expression was also employed as an image of beauty, from a fancied resemblance between a beautiful town and a beautiful and well-dressed woman. Thus Psalm 45:13, the phrase daughter of Tyre, means Tyre itself; Psalm 137:8, daughter of Babylon, that is, Babylon; Isaiah 37:22, 'The virgin, the daughter of Zion;' Jeremiah 46:2; Isaiah 23:12; Jeremiah 14:17; Numbers 21:23, Numbers 21:32, (Hebrew); Judges 11:26. Is left. נותרה nôtherâh. The word used here denotes left as a part or remnant is left - not left entire, or complete, but in a weakened or divided state.

As a cottage - literally, "a shade," or "shelter" - כסכה kesûkkâh, a temporary habitation erected in vineyards to give shelter to the grape gatherers, and to those who were uppointed to watch the vineyard to guard it from depredations; compare the note at Matthew 21:33. The following passage from Mr. Jowett's 'Christian Researches,' describing what he himself saw, will throw light on this verse. 'Extensive fields of ripe melons and cucumbers adorned the sides of the river (the Nile). They grew in such abundance that the sailors freely helped themselves. Some guard, however, is placed upon them. Occasionally, but at long and desolate intervals, we may observe a little hut, made of reeds, just capable of containing one man; being in fact little more than a fence against a north wind. In these I have observed, sometimes, a poor old man, perhaps lame, protecting the property. It exactly illustrates Isaiah 1:8.' 'Gardens were often probably unfenced, and formerly, as now, esculent vegetables were planted in some fertile spot in the open field. A custom prevails in Hindostan, as travelers inform us, of planting in the commencement of the rainy season, in the extensive plains, an abundance of melons, cucumbers, gourds, etc. In the center of the field is an artificial mound with a hut on the top, just large enough to shelter a person from the storm and the heat;' Bib. Dic. A.S.U. The sketch in the book will convey a clear idea of such a cottage. Such a cottage would be designed only for a temporary habitation. So Jerusalem seemed to be left amidst the surrounding desolation as a temporary abode, soon to be destroyed.

As a lodge - The word lodge here properly denotes a place for passing the night, but it means also a temporary abode. It was erected to afford a shelter to those who guarded the enclosure from thieves, or from jackals, and small foxes. 'The jackal,' says Hasselquist, 'is a species of mustela, which is very common in Palestine, especially during the vintage, and often destroys whole vineyards, and gardens of cucumbers.'

A garden of cucumbers - The word cucumbers here probably includes every thing of the melon kind, as well as the cucumber. They are in great request in that region on account of their cooling qualities, and are produced in great abundance and perfection. These things are particularly mentioned among the luxuries which the Israelites enjoyed in Egypt, and for which they sighed when they were in the wilderness. Numbers 11:5 : 'We remember - the cucumbers and the melons,' etc. The cucumber which is produced in Egypt and Palestine is large - usually a foot in length, soft, tender, sweet, and easy of digestion (Gesenius), and being of a cooling nature, was especially delicious in their hot climate. The meaning here is, that Jerusalem seemed to be left as a temporary, lonely habitation, soon to be forsaken and destroyed.

As a besieged city - נצוּרה כעיר ke‛ı̂yr netsôrâh. Lowth. 'As a city taken by siege.' Noyes. "'So is the delivered city.' This translation was first proposed by Arnoldi of Marburg. It avoids the incongruity of comparing a city with a city, and requires no alteration of the text except a change of the vowel points. According to this translation, the meaning will be, that all things round about the city lay desolate, like the withered vines of a cucumber garden around the watchman's hut; in other words, that the city alone stood safe amidst the ruins caused by the enemy, like the hut in a gathered garden of cucumber." Noyes. According to this interpretation, the word נצוּרה netsôrâh is derived not from צור tsûr, to besiege, to press, to straiten; but from נצר nâtsar, to preserve, keep, defend; compare Ezekiel 6:12. The Hebrew will bear this translation; and the concinnity of the comparison will thus be preserved. I rather prefer, however, the common interpretation, as being more obviously the sense of the Hebrew, and as being sufficiently in accordance with the design of the prophet. The idea then is, that of a city straitened by a siege, yet standing as a temporary habitation, while all the country around was lying in ruins. Jerusalem, alone preserved amidst the desolation spreading throughout the land, will resemble a temporary lodge in the garden - itself soon to be removed or destroyed. The essential idea, whatever translation is adopted, is that of the solitude, loneliness, and temporary continuance of even Jerusalem, while all around was involved in desolation and ruin.

8. daughter of Zion—the city (Ps 9:14), Jerusalem and its inhabitants (2Ki 19:21): "daughter" (feminine, singular being used as a neuter collective noun), equivalent to sons (Isa 12:6, Margin) [Maurer]. Metropolis or "mother-city" is the corresponding term. The idea of youthful beauty is included in "daughter."

left—as a remnant escaping the general destruction.

cottage—a hut, made to give temporary shelter to the caretaker of the vineyard.

lodge—not permanent.

besieged—rather, as "left," and Isa 1:9 require, preserved, namely, from the desolation all round [Maurer].

The daughter of Zion, i.e. Zion, or Jerusalem; for these two names are promiscuously used of the same place; the name of daughter being frequently given to cities or countries. Thus the daughter of Babylon is put for Babylon itself, Psalm 137:8 Isaiah 47:1. In the same sense we read of the daughter of Tyre, Psalm 45:12, and of Zidon, Isaiah 23:12, and of Egypt, Jeremiah 46:11,24, and of Edom, Lamentations 4:21.

Is left as a cottage in a vineyard as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers; is left solitary, all the neighbouring villages and country round about it being laid waste.

And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in the vineyard,.... The Targum is,

"after they have got in the vintage.''

A cottage in the vineyard was a booth, as the word (e) signifies, which was erected in the middle of the vineyard for the keeper of the vineyard to watch in night and day, that the fruit might not be hurt by birds, or stolen by thieves, and was a very, lonely place; and when the clusters of the vine were gathered, this cottage or booth was left by the keeper himself: and such it is suggested Jerusalem should be, not only stand alone, the cities all around being destroyed by the besiegers, but empty of inhabitants itself, when taken.

As a lodge in a garden of cucumbers: the Targum adds here also,

"after they have gathered them out of it.''

A lodge in a garden of cucumbers was built up for the gardener to watch in at night, that nobody came and stole away the cucumbers, and this was also a lonely place; but when the cucumbers were gathered, the gardener left his lodge entirely; and such a forsaken place would Jerusalem be at the time of its destruction; see Luke 19:43.

as a besieged city; which is in great distress, and none care to come near it, and as many as can make their escape out of it; or "as a city kept"; so Gussetius (f), who understands this, and all the above clauses, of some places preserved from the sword in the common desolation.

(e) , Sept. (f) "ut urbs custodita", Gusset. Comment. Ling. Ebr. p. 529. "Observata vel observanda", Forerius.

And the daughter of {o} Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.

(o) That is, Jerusalem.

8. daughter of Zion] A gen. of apposition = “the daughter, Zion.” It is a personification either of the city or the population of Jerusalem, or both together. The capital is as yet spared, but its isolation in the midst of the devastated country suggests to the imagination of the prophet two homely and vivid pictures of forlorn and dreary solitariness: like a booth in a vineyard, or a night-lodge in a cucumber field. Such frail structures, consisting of four poles stuck in the ground, with cross-pieces supporting a couch and a slight roof or awning overhead, were erected for the watchers who guarded the fruit or crop from thieves and wild animals. (See Wetzstein’s description in Del. Comm. on Job, Trans., vol. ii. p. 74, and ed.)

as a besieged city] The exact sense is doubtful. Some render: “like a city under observation,” others: “like a watch-tower.”

An interesting parallel to the idea of the verse is furnished by Sennacherib’s boast (in 701) that he shut up Hezekiah in his capital “like a bird in a cage.”

Verse 8. - The daughter of Zion. Not "the faithful Church" (Kay), but the city of Jerusalem, which is thus personified. Comp. Isaiah 47:1, 5, where Babylon is called the "daughter of the Chaldeans;" and Lamentations 1:6; Lamentations 2:1, 4, 8, 10, where the phrase here used is repeated in the same sense. More commonly it designates the people without the city (Lamentations 2:13; Lamentations 4:22; Micah 3:8, 10, 13; Zephaniah 3:14; Zechariah 2:10; Zechariah 9:9, etc.). As a cottage; rather, as a booth (Revised Version; see Leviticus 23:42). Vineyards required to be watched for a few weeks only as the fruit began to ripen; and the watchers, or keepers, built themselves, therefore, mere "booths" for their protection (Job 27:18). These were frail, solitary dwellings - very forlorn, very helpless. Such was now Jerusalem. As a lodge in a garden of cucumbers. Cucumber-gardens required watching throughout the season, i.e. from spring to autumn, and their watcher needed a more solid edifice than a booth. Hence such gardens had "lodges" in them, i.e. permanent huts or sheds, such as those still seen in Palestine (Tristram's 'Natural History of Palestine,' p. 442). As a besieged city. Though not yet besieged, Jerusalem is as if besieged - isolated, surrounded by waste tracts, threatened. Isaiah 1:8"And the daughter of Zion remains lie a hut in a vineyard; like a hammock in a cucumber field." The vineyard and cucumber field (mikshah, from kisshu, a cucumber, Cucumis, not a gourd, Cucurbita; at least not the true round gourd, whose Hebrew name, dalâth, does not occur in the Old Testament) are pictured by the prophet in their condition before the harvest (not after, as the Targums render it), when it is necessary that they should be watched. The point of comparison therefore is, that in the vineyard and cucumber field not a human being is to be seen in any direction; and there is nothing but the cottage and the night barrack or hammock (cf., Job 27:18) to show that there are any human beings there at all. So did Jerusalem stand in the midst of desolation, reaching far and wide - a sign, however, that the land was not entirely depopulated. But what is the meaning of the third point of comparison? Hitzig renders it, "like a watch-tower;" Knobel, "like a guard-city." But the noun neither means a tower nor a castle (although the latter would be quite possible, according to the primary meaning, Cingere); and nezurâh does not mean "watch" or "guard." On the other hand, the comparison indicated (like, or as) does not suit what would seem the most natural rendering, viz., "like a guarded city," i.e., a city shielded from danger. Moreover, it is inadmissible to take the first two Caphs in the sense of sicut (as) and the third in the sense of sic (so); since, although this correlative is common in clauses indicating identity, it is not so in sentences which institute a simple comparison. We therefore adopt the rendering, Isaiah 1:8, "As a besieged city," deriving nezurâh not from zur, niphal nâzor (never used), as Luzzatto does, but from nâzar, which signifies to observe with keen eye, either with a good intention, or, as in Job 7:20, for a hostile purpose. It may therefore be employed, like the synonyms in 2 Samuel 11:16 and Jeremiah 5:6, to denote the reconnoitring of a city. Jerusalem was not actually blockaded at the time when the prophet uttered his predictions; but it was like a blockaded city. In the case of such a city there is a desolate space, completely cleared of human beings, left between it and the blockading army, in the centre of which the city itself stands solitary and still, shut up to itself. The citizens do not venture out; the enemy does not come within the circle that immediately surrounds the city, for fear of the shots of the citizens; and everything within this circle is destroyed, either by the citizens themselves, to prevent the enemy from finding anything useful, or else by the enemy, who cut down the trees. Thus, with all the joy that might be felt at the preservation of Jerusalem, it presented but a gloomy appearance. It was, as it were, in a state of siege. A proof that this is the way in which the passage is to be explained, may be found in Jeremiah 4:16-17, where the actual storming of Jerusalem is foretold, and the enemy is called nozerim, probably with reference to the simile before us.
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