Isaiah 11:3 Commentaries: And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;
Isaiah 11:3
And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
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(3) And shall make him of quick understanding . . .—Better, he shall draw his breath in the fear of the Lord. It shall be, as it were, the very air in which he lives and breathes. Some commentators, however, interpret he shall find a sweet savour. The Hebrew word rendered “understanding” means primarily, as the margin shows, “scent” or “smell,” either as the organ or the object of perception.

He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes . . .—Earthly kings are apt to judge “according to the appearance” (John 7:24), and the reports of interested or corrupt advisers, but the true King shall “know what is in man” (John 2:25), and judge righteous judgment.

Isaiah 11:3. And shall make him of quick understanding — Hebrew, והריחו, shall make him of quick scent, smell, or perception; or, of quick discernment, as Bishop Lowth renders it; in the fear of the Lord — In things which concern the worship and service of God, and every part of religion. Or the meaning may be, He shall not judge rashly and partially, but considerately and justly, as the fear of God obliges all judges to do. And he shall not judge — Of persons, things, or causes; after the sight of the eyes — According to outward appearance, as men do, because they cannot search men’s hearts; neither reprove — Condemn, or pass sentence against any person; after the hearing of the ears — By uncertain rumours or suggestions, but shall thoroughly examine all causes, and search out the truth of things, and the very hearts of men. It implies also, that, “in collecting the people who shall compose his kingdom, he shall principally regard in them this quality of fear, or reverence for the Lord; and with the greatest sagacity and perspicuity of judgment, shall discern and separate those subjects in whom he finds this quality; not suffering that judgment to be deluded by the external appearance of truth or honesty, but, penetrating into the interior recesses of the mind by his prophetic spirit, he shall discriminate truth from error, the good from the bad, the sincere and pious from the hypocritical and impious.” All the churches shall know, says he, that I am he who searcheth the reins and the hearts.11:1-9 The Messiah is called a Rod, and a Branch. The words signify a small, tender product; a shoot, such as is easily broken off. He comes forth out of the stem of Jesse; when the royal family was cut down and almost levelled with the ground, it would sprout again. The house of David was brought very low at the time of Christ's birth. The Messiah thus gave early notice that his kingdom was not of this world. But the Holy Spirit, in all his gifts and graces, shall rest and abide upon him; he shall have the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in him, Col 1:19; 2:9. Many consider that seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are here mentioned. And the doctrine of the influences of the Holy Spirit is here clearly taught. The Messiah would be just and righteous in all his government. His threatening shall be executed by the working of his Spirit according to his word. There shall be great peace and quiet under his government. The gospel changes the nature, and makes those who trampled on the meek of the earth, meek like them, and kind to them. But it shall be more fully shown in the latter days. Also Christ, the great Shepherd, shall take care of his flock, that the nature of troubles, and of death itself, shall be so changed, that they shall not do any real hurt. God's people shall be delivered, not only from evil, but from the fear of it. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? The better we know the God of love, the more shall we be changed into the same likeness, and the better disposed to all who have any likeness to him. This knowledge shall extend as the sea, so far shall it spread. And this blessed power there have been witnesses in every age of Christianity, though its most glorious time, here foretold, is not yet arrived. Meanwhile let us aim that our example and endeavours may help to promote the honour of Christ and his kingdom of peace.And shall make him of quick understanding - (והריחו vahărı̂ychô) The Septuagint renders this, 'And the spirit of the fear of God shall fill him.' The Chaldee, 'And the Lord shall draw him near to him in his fear.' The Syriac, 'And he shall be resplendent (like the sun, or the stars) in the fear of the Lord.' The Hebrew word used here is probably derived from ריח rêyach, used only in Hiphil, "to smell;" and is kindred with רוח rûach, "wind, breath," for fragrant substances "breathe out" an odor. - "Gesenius." It then denotes "to take delight in smelling" Exodus 30:38; Leviticus 26:31; and thence, by an easy transition, to take delight in anything; Amos 5:21. The reason is, that the objects of smell are usually pleasant and agreeable; and especially such as were the aromatics used in public worship. The sense here is, probably, that he would take pleasure in the fear of Yahweh, that is, in piety, and in devoting himself to his service. The interpretation given in our translation, is that given by many expositors; though that above suggested is probably the correct one. The word is used to denote "pleasure" in a thing; it is not used anywhere, it is believed, to denote a quick understanding; compare Exodus 5:21; Philippians 4:18. The idea which is conveyed by our translators is, probably, derived from "the discernment of the quality" of objects by an acute sense of smell, and hence, they interpreted the word to denote an acute discrimination of any objects.

And he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes - He sha 1 not judge of things by their external appearance. or with partiality. This is language which is applicable to a magistrate, and is spoken of the Messiah as the descendant of David, and as sitting on his throne as a ruler of his people. He who judges 'after the sight of his eyes,' does it according to external appearances, showing favor to rank, to the rich, and the great; or judging as things "appear" without a close and careful inquiry into their true nature and bearings; compare John 7:24 : 'Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment;' Deuteronomy 1:16-17.

Neither reprove - יוכיח yôkiyach. This word means "to show, to prove; to correct, reprove, convince; to reproach, or censure; to punish; to judge, decide, etc." Here it is evidently used as synonymous with 'shall he judge' in the former part of the parallelism - retaining the idea of a just judge, who decides not according to the hearing of the ears, but according to justice.

After the hearing of his ears - Not by plausible statements, and ingenious defenses, but by weighing evidence, and by an impartial examination of the true merits of the case. This belonged to the Lord Jesus, because,

(1) He was never influenced by any undue regard to rank, honor, or office. His opinions were always impartial; his judgments without bias or favoritism.

(2) He was able to discern the true merits of every case. He knew what was in man, saw the true state of the heart, and, therefore, was not deceived or imposed upon as human judges are; see John 2:24-25; compare Revelation 2:28; John 6:64.

3. make him of quick understanding—literally, "quick-scented in the fear of Jehovah"; endowed with a singular sagacity in discerning the genuine principle of religious fear of God, when it lies dormant in the yet unawakened sinner (Mt 12:20; Ac 10:1-48; 16:14) [Horsley]. But Maurer, "He shall delight in the fear of God." The Hebrew means "to delight in the odors" of anything (Ex 30:38; Am 5:21); "smell," that is, "delight in."

after … sight—according to mere external appearances (Joh 7:24; 8:15; Jas 2:1; 1Sa 16:7). Herein Messiah is represented a just Judge and Ruler (De 1:16, 17).

reprove—"decide," as the parallelism shows.

after … ears—by mere plausible hearsays, but by the true merits of each case (Joh 6:64; Re 2:23).

Shall make him of quick understanding, Heb. he shall make him smell, i.e. perceive, as that word is used, Judges 16 9 Job 39 25; understand or judge, as it is explained in the next clause. Or, his smelling shall be. Smelling is put for judging, because the sense of smelling, where it is quick and good, is more exact and sure in the judging of its proper objects, than the senses of seeing and hearing are.

In the fear of the Lord; which is added, either,

1. As the object of his judging; he is most perspicacious and judicious in the things which concern the fear, i.e. the worship and service of God, which he was to order and establish in his church. Or rather,

2. As the rule and manner of his judging, as may be gathered from the opposite and following clause. So the sense is, He shall not judge rashly and partially, but considerately and justly, as the fear of God obligeth all judges to do.

He shall not judge, of persons or causes. And judging seems to be here synecdochically put for absolving or giving sentence for a person, as it is used Psalm 7:8,11, and in many other places, because this is opposed to reproving in the next clause.

After the sight of his eyes; according to outward appearance, as men must do, because they cannot search men’s hearts, 1 Samuel 16:7, or with respect of persons, but with righteous judgment, which is opposed to judging by appearance, John 7:24. Reprove, i.e. condemn or pass sentence against a person; for Christ is here supposed to be a Judge, and so he speaks of a judicial reproof. After the hearing of his ears, by false or uncertain rumours or suggestions, but shall thoroughly examine all causes, and search out the truth of things, and the very hearts of men. And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord,.... Or "cause him to smell the fear of the Lord" (w); that is, to discern in whom it was: this is one effect of the Spirit's resting upon him, and particularly as the spirit of understanding, and of the fear of the Lord, whereby he has a quick and sharp discerning of it; not merely of the grace of fear, so as to know what that is, and what the exercise of it; or so as to make it the rule of his actions, though all this is true; but so as to discern where and in whom it was, and was not; he could distinguish between him that feared God and him that feared him not; he knew Nathanael to be an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile, John 1:47 and the Scribes and Pharisees to be hypocrites, Matthew 22:18. As the Jews (x) understand this passage of the Messiah, and of his quick smell, as the word used signifies, or of his discerning of good and bad men, they make this to be a rule of judging the Messiah by; and accordingly made use of it with one that set up himself for the Messiah, and took the name of Barcochab, the son of a star, referring to Numbers 24:17 and tried him whether he could discern a good man from a bad man; and because he could not, they rejected him as a false Messiah, and called him Barcoziba, the son of a lie (y): compare with this Luke 7:39 where it may be seen the same notion obtained among the Jews in Christ's time:

and, he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes; or according to the outward appearance, the external guise of sanctity and religion men might put on; as the Scribes and Pharisees were outwardly righteous before men, but not to Christ, who knew their hearts; they seemed to be somewhat to others, but nothing to him, because he judged not by appearances to the eyes:

neither reprove after the hearing of his ears; he needed no testimony of men, for he knew what was in men; nor did he regard the words of men, the boastings of a Pharisee, any more than his outward actions; nor would he reprove or condemn, nor will he, upon a human testimony.

(w) "et faciet odorari eum timorem Jehovae", Munster, Vatablus; "et odorabitur timorem Jehovae", Cocceius. (x) Zohar in Exod. fol. 31. 3. & 86. 1. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 62. 3.((y) T. Bab. Sanhedrin. fol. 93. 2.

And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
3. and shall make him … Lord] The best translation is that of R.V. and his delight shall be in the fear of Jehovah, lit. “his scent shall be in, &c.” The Messiah shall not only possess true religion himself, but shall be quick to recognise its presence in others and shall take delight in it wherever he finds it. The sense is perhaps appropriate, but the expression is very peculiar, and hence some critics consider that the clause is a corrupt repetition of the preceding words. (See Cheyne’s Commentary, crit. note.)

he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, &c.] i.e. in virtue of the spirit with which he is endowed, he shall not be dependent on the evidence of his senses, but shall immediately and infallibly discern the moral condition of men’s hearts (cf. 2 Samuel 14:20). The second member of the parallelism shews that more than mere impartiality in judgment is intended. For reprove render decide, as R.V. marg.

3–5. Thus equipped with all the personal qualities needful for his high office, the ideal King will exercise a perfectly just and equitable government over his subjects. The Hebrew conception of kingship includes two functions, leadership in war and the administration of justice in time of peace (1 Samuel 8:20). Here, for an obvious reason (ch. Isaiah 9:5), only the civil aspect of the office is dwelt upon.Verse 3. - And shall make him of quick understanding. This rendering of the original, though defended by Dr. Kay, is quite without support from any other passage where the same word is used. Modern writers almost all translate, either "the breath of his nostrils shall be in the fear of the Lord" (Herder, Ewald, Meier, Cheyne), or "a sweet savor shall he find in the fear of the Lord" (Gesenius, Delitzsch, Rosenmüller, Knobel). He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes. "God sooth the heart." Our Lord "knew men's thoughts" (Matthew 9:4, etc.), and therefore did not need to "judge according to the appearance" (John 7:24). Thus his judgments were always righteous. Professor Schegg travelled by this very route to Jerusalem (cf., p. 560, Anm. 2): From Gifneh he went direct to Tayibeh (which he imagined to be the ancient Ai), and then southwards through Muchmas, Geba, Hizmeh, 'Anata, and el-Isawiye to Jerusalem.

Isaiah 10:28Aesthetically considered, the description is one of the most magnificent that human poetry has ever produced. "He comes upon Ayyath, passes through Migron; in Michmash he leaves his baggage. They go through the pass: let Geba be our quarters for the night! Ramah trembles; Gibeah of Saul flees. Scream aloud, O daughter of Gallim! Only listen, O Laysha! Poor Anathoth! Madmenah hurries away; the inhabitants of Gebim rescue. He still halts in Nob today; swings his hand over the mountain of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem. Behold, the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, lops down the branches with terrific force; and those of towering growth are hewn down, and the lofty are humbled. And He fells the thickets of the forest with iron; and Lebanon, it falls by a Majestic One." When the Assyrian came upon Ayyath ( equals Ayyah, 1 Chronicles 7:28 (?), Nehemiah 11:31, generally hâ-‛ai, or 'Ai), about thirty miles to the north-east of Jerusalem, he trod for the first time upon Benjaminitish territory, which was under the sway of Judaea. The name of this 'Ai, which signifies "stone-heap," tallies, as Knobel observes, with the name of the Tell el-hagar, which is situated about three-quarters of an hour to the south-east of Beitn, i.e., Bethel. But there are tombs, reservoirs, and ruins to be seen about an hour to the south-east of Beitin; and these Robinson associates with Ai. From Ai, however, the army will not proceed towards Jerusalem by the ordinary route, viz., the great north road (or "Nablus road"); but, in order to surprise Jerusalem, it takes a different route, in which it will have to cross three deep and difficult valleys. From Ai they pass to Migron, the name of which has apparently been preserved in the ruins of Burg Magrun, situated about eight minutes' walk from Beitn.

(Note: I also find the name written Magrum (read Magrun), which is probably taken from a more correct hearsay than the Machrn of Robinson (ii.127).)

Michmash is still to be found in the form of a deserted village with ruins, under the name of Muchms, on the eastern side of the valley of Migron. Here they deposit their baggage (hiphkid, Jeremiah 36:20), so far as they are able to dispense with it - either to leave it lying there, or to have it conveyed after them by an easier route. For they proceed thence through the pass of Michmash, a deep and precipitous ravine about forty-eight minutes in breadth, the present Wady Suweinit. "The pass" (ma‛bârâh) is the defile of Michmash, with two prominent rocky cliffs, where Jonathan had his adventure with the garrison of the Philistines. One of these cliffs was called Seneh (1 Samuel 14:4), a name which suggests es-Suweinit. Through this defile they pass, encouraging one another, as they proceed along the difficult march, by the prospect of passing the night in Geba, which is close at hand. It is still disputed whether this Geba is the same place as the following Gibeah of Saul or not. There is at the present time a village called Geba' below Muchms, situated upon an eminence. The almost universal opinion now is, that this is not Gibeah of Saul, but that the latter is to be seen in the prominent Tell (Tuleil) el-Fl, which is situated farther south. This is possibly correct.

(Note: This is supported by Robinson in his Later Biblical Researches in Palestine (1857), by Valentiner (pastor at Jerusalem), and by Keil in the Commentary on Joshua, Judges, etc. (Joshua 18:21-28), where all the more recent writings on this topographical question are given.)

For there can be no doubt that this mountain, the name of which signifies "Bean-hill," would be a very strong position, and one very suitable for Gibeah of Saul; and the supposition that there were two places in Benjamin named Geba, Gibeah, or Gibeath, is favoured at any rate by Joshua 18:21-28, where Geba and Gibeath are distinguished from one another. And this mountain, which is situated to the south of er-Rm - that is to say, between the ancient Ramah and Anathoth - tallies very well with the route of the Assyrian as here described; whilst it is very improbable that Isaiah has designated the very same place first of all Geba, and then (for what reason no one can tell) Gibeah of Saul. We therefore adopt the view, that the Assyrian army took up its quarters for the night at Geba, which still bears this name, spreading terror in all directions, both east and west, and still more towards the south. Starting in the morning from the deep valley between Michmash and Geba, they pass on one side of Rama (the present er-Rm), situated half an hour to the west of Geba, which trembles as it sees them go by; and the inhabitants of Gibeath of Saul, upon the "Bean-hill," a height that commands the whole of the surrounding country, take to flight when they pass by. Every halting-place on their route brings them nearer to Jerusalem. The prophet goes in spirit through it all. It is so objectively real to him, that it produces the utmost anxiety and pain. The cities and villages of the district are lost.

He appeals to the daughter, i.e., the population, of Gallim, to raise a far-sounding yell of lamentation with their voice (Ges. 138, 1, Anm. 3), and calls out in deep sympathy to Laysha, which was close by (on the two places, both of which have vanished now, see 1 Samuel 25:44 and Judges 18:29), "only listen," the enemy is coming nearer and nearer; and then for Anathoth (‛Anâtâ, still to be seen about an hour and a quarter to the north of Jerusalem) he utters this lamentation (taking the name as an omen of its fate): O poor Anathoth! There is no necessity for any alteration of the text; ‛anniyâh is an appeal, or rather an exclamation, as in Isaiah 54:11; and ‛anâthoth follows, according to the same verbal order as in Isaiah 23:12, unless indeed we take it at once as an adjective written before the noun - an arrangement of the words which may possibly have been admissible in such interjectional sentences. The catastrophe so much to be dreaded by Jerusalem draws nearer and nearer. Madmenah (dung-hill, see Comm. on Job, at Job 9:11-15) flees in anxious haste: the inhabitants of Gebim (water-pits) carry off their possessions (הּעיז, from עוּז, to flee, related to chush, hence to carry off in flight, to bring in haste to a place of security, Exodus 9:19, cf., Jeremiah 4:6; Jeremiah 6:1; synonymous with hēnı̄s, Exodus 9:20; Judges 6:11; different from ‛âzaz, to be firm, strong, defiant, from which mâ‛oz, a fortress, is derived - in distinction from the Arabic ma‛âdh, a place of refuge: comp. Isaiah 30:2, to flee to Pharaoh's shelter). There are no traces left of either place. The passage is generally understood as implying that the army rested another day in Nob. But this would be altogether at variance with the design - to take Jerusalem by surprise by the suddenness of the destructive blow. We therefore render it, "Even to-day he will halt in Nob" (in eo est ut subsistat, Ges. 132, Anm. 1) - namely, to gather up fresh strength there in front of the city which was doomed to destruction, and to arrange the plan of attack. The supposition that Nob was the village of el-'Isawiye, which is still inhabited, and lies to the south-west of Ant, fifty-five minutes to the north of Jerusalem, is at variance with the situation, as correctly described by Jerome, when he says: "Stans in oppidulo Nob et procul urbem conspiciens Jerusalem." A far more appropriate situation is to be found in the hill which rises to the north of Jerusalem, and which is called Sadr, from its breast-like projection or roundness - a name which is related in meaning to nob, nâb, to rise. From this eminence the way leads down into the valley of Kidron; and as you descend, the city spreads out before you at a very little distance off. It may have been here, in the prophet's view, that the Assyrians halted.

(Note: This is the opinion of Valentiner, who also regards the march of the Assyrians as an "execution-march" in two columns, one of which took the road through the difficult ground to the east, whilst the other inflicted punishment upon the places that stood near the road. The text does not require this, however, but describes a march, which spread alarm both right and left as it went along.)

It was not long, however (as the yenōphēph which follows ἀσυνδέτως implies), before his hand was drawn out to strike (Isaiah 11:15; Isaiah 19:16), and swing over the mountain of the daughter of Zion (Isaiah 16:1), over the city of the holy hill. But what would Jehovah do, who was the only One who could save His threatened dwelling-place in the face of such an army? As far as Isaiah 10:32, the prophet's address moved on at a hurried, stormy pace; it then halted, and seemed, as it were, panting with anxiety; it now breaks forth in a dactylic movement, like a long rolling thunder. The hostile army stands in front of Jerusalem, like a broad dense forest. But it is soon manifest that Jerusalem has a God who cannot be defied with impunity, and who will not leave His city in the lurch at the decisive moment, like the gods of Carchemish and Calno. Jehovah is the Lord, the God of both spiritual and starry hosts. He smites down the branches of this forest of an army: sē‛ēph is a so-called piel privativum, to lop (lit. to take the branches in hand; cf., sikkēl, Isaiah 5:2); and pu'rah equals pe'urah (in Ezekiel pō'rah) is used like the Latin frons, to include both branches and foliage - in other words, the leafy branches as the ornament of the tree, or the branches as adorned with leaves. The instrument He employs is ma‛arâtzâh, his terrifying and crushing power (compare the verb in Isaiah 2:19, Isaiah 2:21). And even the lofty trunks of the forest thus cleared of branches and leaves do not remain; they lie hewn down, and the lofty ones must fall. It is just the same with the trunks, i.e., the leaders, as with the branches and the foliage, i.e., with the great crowded masses. The whole of the forest thicket (as in Isaiah 9:17) he hews down (nikkaph, third pers. piel, though it may also be niphal); and Lebanon, i.e., the army of Asshur which is now standing opposite to Mount Zion, like Lebanon with its forest of cedars, falls down through a Majestic One ('addı̄r), i.e., through Jehovah (Isaiah 33:21, cf., Psalm 76:5; Psalm 93:4). In the account of the fulfilment (Isaiah 37:36) it is the angel of the Lord (mal'ach Jehovah), who is represented as destroying the hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp in a single night. The angel of Jehovah is not a messenger of God sent from afar, but the chosen organ of the ever-present divine power.

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