Isaiah 10:4
Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
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(4) Without me they shall bow down . . .—The Hebrew text is obscure, but these words were probably intended as the answer to the taunting question that had preceded them. Dropping the direct address, and passing to the third person, the prophet seems to say as with a kind of ominous “aside,” “No, there is no ally, no hiding-place but this, except they bow down among the captives or fall among the slain.” Exile or death, that was their only alternative. When that sentence has been uttered, the doom-bell, as we have called it, “For all this . . .” tolls once more. If we adopt the Authorised version we have the same fact asserted, with the suggested thought that there was a refuge to be found in God.

10:1-4 These verses are to be joined with the foregoing chapter. Woe to the superior powers that devise and decree unrighteous decrees! And woe to the inferior officers that draw them up, and enter them on record! But what will sinners do? Whither will they flee?Without me - בלתי biltı̂y. There has been a great variety of interpretation affixed to this expression. The sense in which our translators understood it was, evidently, that they should be forsaken of God; and that, as the effect of this, they should bow down under the condition of captives, or among the slain. The Vulgate and the Septuagint, however. and many interpreters understand the word bore as a simple negative. 'Where will you flee for refuge? Where will you deposit your wealth so as not to bow down under a chain?' Vulgate, Ne incurvemini sub vinculo. Septuagint, Τοῦ μὴ ἐμπεσεῖν εἰς ἀπαγωνήν tou mē empesein eis apagōnēn - 'Not to fall into captivity.' The Hebrew will bear either mode of construction. Vitringa and Lowth understand it as our translators have done, as meaning that God would forsake them, and that without him, that is, deprived of his aid, they would be destroyed.

They shall bow down - They shall be subdued, as armies are that are taken captive.

Under the prisoners - That is, under the "condition" of prisoners; or as prisoner. Some understand it to mean, that they should bear down "in the place of prisoners;" that is, in prison, But it evidently means, simply, that they should be captives.

They shall fall under the slain - They shall be slain. Gesenius renders it, "'Among the prisoners, and "among" the slain.'" The Chaldee reads it, 'You shall be east into chains out of your own land, and beyond your own cities you shall be cast out slain.' Vitringa supposes that the prophet, in this verse, refers to the custom, among the ancients, of placing prisoners in war under a yoke of wood to indicate their captivity. That such a custom obtained, there can be no doubt; but it is not probable that Isaiah refers to it here. The simple idea is, that many of them should be taken captive, and many of them slain. This prediction was fulfilled in the invasion of Tiglath-pileser; 2 Kings 15; 16.

For all this - Notwithstanding these calamities. The cup of punishment is not filled by these, but the divine judgment shall still be poured out further upon the nation. The anger of God shall not be fully expressed by these minor inflictions of his wrath, but his hand shall continue to be stretched out until the whole nation shall be overwhelmed and ruined; see the note at Isaiah 10:12.

4. Without me—not having Me to "flee to" (Isa 10:3).

bow down—Bereft of strength they shall fall; or else, they shall lie down fettered.

under … under—rather, "among" (literally, "in the place of") [Horsley]. The "under" may be, however, explained, "trodden under the (feet of the) prisoners going into captivity," and "overwhelmed under the heaps of slain on the battlefield" [Maurer].

Without me they shall bow down: the words thus translated seem to contain an answer to the foregoing questions: In vain do you seek for a refuge and help from others; for without me, without my favour and help which you have forfeited, and do not seek to recover, and which I shall withdraw from you, or because you are without me, or forsaken by me,

you shall bow down, notwithstanding all your succours. In the Hebrew here is a change of the person and number, which is very usual in prophetical writings. The LXX., and some others, join these words to the foregoing verse, and translate them thus, that you may not bow down: so the sense of the place is, What will you do to prevent your captivity or slaughter? And it is true, that the first word is elsewhere taken for a negative particle. But the former translation seems more genuine.

Under the prisoners; or rather, in the place (as this particle signifies, and is rendered by interpreters, Genesis 30:2 50:19 Exodus 16:29 Joshua 5:8, and elsewhere) of the prisoners, or among the prisoners; and so in the next clause, among or in the place of the slain. Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain,.... That is, either, being forsaken by me, and destitute of my help, they shall bow down; or, "because they are without me", are not my people, and do not hearken to me, therefore they shall bow down, so David Kimchi; or, were it not for me, they would, as others; or that they might not bow down and fall; and so the words may be connected with the preceding verse Isaiah 10:3, others render the word, translated "without me, besides"; and the sense is either, as Moses Kimchi, besides their bowing in their own land, when subdued by the Gentiles, a greater affliction shall befall them, captivity; when they should be either carried captive or slain; or besides him that shall bow down under the prisoners, they shall fall under the slain; besides those that are taken, others shall be killed; or none shall escape, but, or "except", him that bows, and hides himself under the prisoners, or in the place of the slain, that he might not be thought to be alive: or the sense is, the desolation shall be so general, that none shall escape, either they shall be taken prisoners, or they shall be slain; agreeably to which Noldius (i) renders the words, "without me", everyone "shall bow down among the prisoners, or shall fall among the slain"; which gives the best sense of them; that, being left of God for their sins, they would either be bound and carried captive, or else slain with the sword, and one or the other would be the lot of everyone of them:

for all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still; the final and utter destruction of the nation of the Jews being then not yet come, when carried captive to Babylon, there remained a greater calamity for them, to come by the hands of the Romans. These first four verses Isaiah 10:1 seem more properly to belong to the preceding chapter Isaiah 9:1, and this should begin with the next verse Isaiah 10:5.

(i) Ebr. Concord. Part. p. 201, 771.

{d} Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.

(d) Because they have forsaken me, some will go into captivity and the rest will be slain.

4. Without me … slain] This clause is very difficult. The easiest explanation perhaps is to take it as the answer to the questions of Isaiah 10:3 : (they can do nothing) except crouch under the captives and fall under the slain. Another is “Except one (here and there) crouch among captives, they must fell under the slain.” Objections to both occur readily enough to anyone who reads the Hebrew, especially the abrupt changes from singular to plural. An ingenious conjecture of Lagarde’s gives the sense “Beltis crouches, Osiris is broken (חַת אֹסִיר כֵּלְתִּי כֹּרַעַת cf. Isaiah 46:1; Jeremiah 50:2), they fall, &c.”; i.e. the heathen gods shall be unable to give protection to their votaries. But there is no evidence that Egyptian deities (Osiris) were worshipped in Israel in Isaiah’s time; and in any case their sudden introduction here would be surprising.

his hand is stretched out still] See on ch. Isaiah 5:25 ff.Verse 4. - Without me. That this is a possible rendering of the word used seems proved by Hosea 13:4. But here it scarcely suits the context. God does not speak directly, in the first person, elsewhere in the entire prophecy (Isaiah 9:8-10:4), but is spoken of in the third person throughout, as even in the present verse, where we have "his anger," "his hand." It is better, therefore, to give the word its ordinary meaning - "unless," "except." Have they anywhere to flee to, unless they shall crouch amid the captives that are being carried off, or fall amid the slain? In other words, there is no escape for them; they must either submit to captivity or death. For all this, etc. Even when the two kingdoms were destroyed, and the captivity of both was complete, God's wrath was not fully appeased, his anger was not wholly turned away. Both peoples suffered grievous things in their captivity, as appears from the Book of Daniel (Isaiah 3, 6.) and other places. It took seventy years for God's anger to be appeased in the case of Judah (2 Chronicles 36:21), while in the case of Israel it was never appeased. Crushed beneath the iron heel of their conquerors, Israel ceased to exist as a nation. SECTION V. PROPHECIES OF WOE UPON FOREIGN NATIONS (Isaiah 10:5-23) Strophe 3. "For the wickedness burneth up like fire: it devours thorns and thistles, and burns in the thickets of the wood; and they smoke upwards in a lofty volume of smoke. Through the wrath of Jehovah of hosts the land is turned into coal, and the nation has become like the food of fire: not one spares his brother. They hew on the right, and are hungry; and devour on the left, and are not satisfied: they devour the flesh of their own arm: Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh: these together over Judah. With all this His anger is not turned away, and His hand is stretched out still." The standpoint of the prophet is at the extreme end of the course of judgment, and from that he looks back. Consequently this link of the chain is also past in his view, and hence the future conversives. The curse, which the apostasy of Israel carries within itself, now breaks fully out. Wickedness, i.e., the constant thirst of evil, is a fire which a man kindles in himself. And when the grace of God, which damps and restrains this fire, is all over, it is sure to burst forth: the wickedness bursts forth like fire (the verb is used here, as in Isaiah 30:27, with reference to the wrath of God). And this is the case with the wickedness of Israel, which now consumes first of all thorns and thistles, i.e., individual sinners who are the most ripe for judgment, upon whom the judgment commences, and then the thicket of the wood (sib-che,

(Note: The metheg (gaya) in סבכי (to be pronounced sib-che) has simply the caphonic effect of securing a distinct enunciation to the sibilant letter (in other instances to the guttural, vid., ‛arboth, Numbers 31:12), in cases where the second syllable of the word commences with a guttural or labial letter, or with an aspirate.)

as in Isaiah 10:34, from sebac, Genesis 22:13 equals sobec), that is to say, the great mass of the people, which is woven together by bands of iniquity (vattizzath is not a reflective niphal, as in 2 Kings 22:13, but kal, to kindle into anything, i.e., to set it on fire). The contrast intended in the two figures is consequently not the high and low (Ewald), nor the useless and useful (Drechsler), but individuals and the whole (Vitringa). The fire, into which the wickedness bursts out, seizes individuals first of all; and then, like a forest fire, it seizes upon the nation at large in all its ranks and members, who "whirl up (roll up) ascending of smoke," i.e., who roll up in the form of ascending smoke (hith'abbek, a synonym of hithhappēk, Judges 7:13, to curl or roll). This fire of wickedness was no other than the wrath (ebrâh) of God: it is God's own wrath, for all sin carries this within itself as its own self-punishment. By this fire of wrath the soil of the land is gradually but thoroughly burnt out, and the people of the land utterly consumed: עתם ἁπ λεγ to be red-hot (lxx συγκέκαυται, also the Targum), and to be dark or black (Arabic ‛atame, late at night), for what is burnt out becomes black. Fire and darkness are therefore correlative terms throughout the whole of the Scriptures. So far do the figures extend, in which the prophet presents the inmost essence of this stage of judgment. In its historical manifestation it consisted in the most inhuman self-destruction during an anarchical civil war. Destitute of any tender emotions, they devoured one another without being satisfied: gâzar, to cut, to hew (hence the Arabic for a butcher): zero'o, his arm, according to Jeremiah 19:9, equivalent to the member of his own family and tribe, who was figuratively called his arm (Arabic ‛adud: see Ges. Thes. p. 433), as being the natural protector and support. This interminable self-immolation, and the regicide associated with the jealousy of the different tribes, shook the northern kingdom again and again to its utter destruction. And the readiness with which the unbrotherly feelings of the northern tribes towards one another could turn into combined hostility towards Judah, was evident enough from the Syro-Ephraimitish war, the consequences of which had not passed away at the time when these prophecies were uttered. This hostility on the part of the brother kingdoms would still further increase. And the end of the judgments of wrath had not come yet.

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