Isaiah 11:9
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
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(9) They shall not hurt nor destroy . . .—The pronoun may possibly refer to the evil beasts, the lion, the bear, the leopard, of the previous verses. The prophet, on this view, sees in his vision, as it were, a restored Eden, a paradise life, in which the fiercest brutes have lost their fierceness. The words admit, however, of being taken as a generalised statement: “None shall hurt nor destroy . . .” The “holy mountain “is none other than the “mountain of the Lord’s house” of Isaiah 2:2 in its future apocalyptic glory (Ezekiel 40:2; Zechariah 14:10), but may, perhaps, include the whole of the hill-country of Israel, as in Isaiah 57:13; Psalm 78:54; Exodus 15:17.

The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord.—If, as some have thought, the “earth” here should be the land (i.e., as in Isaiah 9:19; Isaiah 10:23, the land of Judah), that region is represented as the paradise centre of a restored world, to which, as in Isaiah 2:2, all nations turn for light and blessing. Probably, however, the words may be taken in their wider significance. This was for the prophet the crown and consummation of the work of redemption. More than all removal of physical evil, he thought of a victory over moral and spiritual darkness. As it is, in the existing order of the world, few fear God; still fewer know Him as He should be known. But in that new earth “the knowledge of Jehovah” shall flow far and wide. Even as the waters of the Mediterranean (the sea which must have suggested the prophet’s comparison) washed the shores of the far-off isles of the Gentiles, the coasts of Chittim (Numbers 24:24), as well as those of Israel, so should the knowledge of the truth of God expand beyond the limits of the people of Israel. Hence the transition was natural to the prophecies which speak at once of the restoration of Israel and the in-gathering of the heathen. It should be remembered that in Hosea 3:5; Joel 2:28; Joel 3:17, prophecies like in kind had preceded Isaiah’s utterance. In Habakkuk 2:14 it is all but verbally reproduced.

Isaiah 11:9. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain — Here the prophet himself gives us a key wherewith to open his meaning in the three preceding verses. By the holy mountain he means, the Christian Church, frequently termed Zion, Jerusalem, and God’s holy mountain, in the writings of the prophets. Wherever the gospel comes and prevails; wherever the true and genuine religion of Christ takes place and is established, these effects are produced. And in due time the gospel shall prevail, and the true religion of Jesus be established everywhere. For the earth — The world, with its inhabitants, shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord — By this he intimates, that all that savageness and malignity which are in carnal and wicked men toward the people of God, and all those unholy, unkind, and unhappy dispositions which are in any of the human race, proceed from their ignorance of God, or their want of a true and saving acquaintance with him, which, wherever it takes place, produces a marvellous and thorough change in men’s hearts and lives. As the waters cover the sea — As the waters spread themselves over the bottom, and entirely fill all the channels of the sea. Although this prophecy begins to be fulfilled wherever the kingdom of grace is set up among men, and is more and more fulfilled in proportion as that kingdom is enlarged; yet the perfect accomplishment of it will not be witnessed till those latter days come, when, according to the Scriptures, the knowledge and practice of Christianity will be universally diffused, and all those divine virtues which it inculcates will be most eminently exerted and displayed.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.They shall not hurt - That is, those who are designated above under the emblems of the lion, the leopard, the bear, and the adder.

Nor destroy in all my holy mountain - Mount Zion; used here, as elsewhere, to denote the seat of his reign on the earth, or his church; the notes at Isaiah 1:8; Isaiah 2:4. The disposition of people, naturally ferocious and cruel, shall be changed so entirely, that the causes of strife and contention shall cease. They shall be disposed to do justice, and to promote each other's welfare everywhere.

For the earth - That is, in the times of the Messiah, It does not say that it shall be immediate under his reign, but under his reign this shall occur on the earth.

The knowledge of the Lord - This is put for piety, as the "fear" of the Lord often is. The earth shall be full of a correct understanding of the existence, perfections, plans, and claims of God; and shall be disposed to yield to those claims - thus producing universal peace.

As the waters cover the sea - That is, the depths or the bottom of the sea; compare Habakkuk 2:14. The vast waters of the ocean cover all its depths, find their way into all the caverns, flow into all the recesses on the shore - and thus shall the knowledge of Yahweh spread like deep, flowing waters, until the earth shall be pervaded and covered with it. It is evident that a time is here spoken of which has not yet fully come, and the mind is still directed onward, as was that of the prophet, to a future period when this shall be accomplished. The prophecy has been indeed in part fulfilled. Wherever the gospel has spread, its effect has been just that which is predicted here. It has calmed and subdued the angry passions of people; changed their feelings and their conduct; disposed them to peace; and tended to mitigate national ferocity, to produce kindness to captives, and to those who had been oppressed. It has mitigated laws that were cruel and bloody; and has abolished customs, games, sports, and pastimes that were ferocious and savage. It has often changed the bitter persecutor, as it did Saul of Tarsus, to the mildness and gentleness of a lamb; and it has spread an influence over nations tending to produce humanity and benevolence. It has produced mildness, gentleness, and love, in the domestic circle; changed a the cruel and lordly husband to a companion and friend; and the character of the stern and inexorable father to one of paternal kindness and peace. Wherever it has spread "in truth" and not "in form merely," it has shed a mild, calming, and subduing influence over the passions, laws, and customs of people. But its effects have been but partially felt; and we are led, therefore, to look forward to future times, when the prophecy shall be entirely fulfilled, and the power of the gospel shall be felt in all nations.

9. my holy mountain—Zion, that is, Jerusalem. The seat of government and of Messiah's throne is put for the whole earth (Jer 3:17).

sea—As the waters find their way into every cavern of its depths, so Christianity shall pervade every recess of the earth (Hab 2:14). As Isa 11:1-5 describe the personal qualities of Messiah, and Isa 11:6-9 the regenerating effects of His coming on creation, so Isa 11:10-16 the results of it in the restoration of His people, the Jews, and the conversion through them of the Gentiles.

In my holy mountain; in Zion, in my church. Wherever the gospel comes and prevails, it will have this effect.

The earth; metonymically put for the inhabitants of the earth; and as before it was used for the greater part, Isaiah 11:4, so here it is used for the better part of the world.

Of the knowledge of the Lord; of saying and practical knowledge; whereby he intimates that all that savageness and malignity which is in wicked men towards true Christians proceeded from their deep ignorance, and particularly from ignorance of God; and withal, that a right knowledge of God will make a marvellous and thorough change in the dispositions and conversations of men.

The sea; the channel of the sea, the thing contained being put for the thing containing, by a metonymy common in Scripture and all authors. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain,.... In the Church, so called, in allusion to the holy hill of Zion; in the latter day, after the destruction of antichrist, there will be no more persecution of the saints; they will be no more injured nor harassed by wicked men, comparable to the above mentioned creatures, either for their cruelty or cunning; the reason follows:

for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea: full of the Gospel, the means of conveying the knowledge of Christ, and of God in Christ, of his person and office, of his grace and righteousness, of peace, pardon, life, and salvation by him. The phrase denotes the abundance and depth of the knowledge of divine things, and the large spread of the Gospel, and the multitude of persons that shall be blessed with it, and a profound knowledge of it; so that there will be none to molest, disturb, and distress the people of God, see Habakkuk 2:14 this has had some appearance of accomplishment at several times; as at the first times of the Gospel, when the sound of it, by the apostles, went into all the earth, and diffused the savour of the knowledge of Christ in every place; and in the times of Constantine, when Paganism was abolished, and the whole empire became Christian, persecution ceased, and peace ensued, as before described; and at the Reformation, when whole nations embraced the Gospel of Christ; but the full accomplishment of it is yet to come, when the angel shall fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach to all men, and the earth shall be lightened with his glory; when men shall run to and fro, and knowledge be increased, and all shall know the Lord, from the least to the greatest. This passage is applied to the times of the Messiah by the Jews, ancient and modern (d).

(d) Zohar in Exod. fol. 28. 3. Kimchi in Joel 2. 28. Maimon. Melachim. c. 12. sect. 1. Caphtor, fol. 57. 2. and 93. 1. and 108. 1.

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as {d} the waters cover the sea.

(d) It will be in as great abundance as the waters in the sea.

9. It is questionable if the subject here is still the wild beasts (as in Isaiah 65:25). The second half of the verse is rather against this, and it is better to translate the first half: none shall do evil or act corruptly in all, &c.

my holy mountain] Most naturally “Zion,” but some commentators understand it of the whole hill-country of Palestine.

for the earth shall be full … sea] Cf. Habakkuk 2:14. On the peculiar participial construction, see Driver, Tenses § 135. (7) Obs.Verse 9. - My holy mountain. As the Jewish Church is always bound up with the "holy hill of Zion," so the Messianic one receives the designation of "the mountain of the Lord" (Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 30:29; Micah 4:2), or "the holy mountain" (Zechariah 8:3). What was physically true of the type is transferred to the antitype, which is "a city set upon a hill" in a certain sense. The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord (romp. Habakkuk 2:14; Joel 2:28; Matthew 28:29). A fruitful knowledge, guiding and influencing conduct, seems to be intended (see below, Isaiah 54:13, "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children"). As the waters cover the sea; i.e. "as the ocean covers and fills the bed prepared for it." And His regal conduct is regulated by this His thoroughly spiritual nature."And fear of Jehovah is fragrance to Him; and He judges not according to outward sight, neither does He pass sentence according to outward hearing." We must not render it: His smelling is the smelling of the fear of God, i.e., the penetration of it with a keen judicial insight (as Hengstenberg and Umbreit understand it); for hērı̄ach with the preposition Beth has not merely the signification to smell (as when followed by an accusative, Job 39:25), but to smell with satisfaction (like בּ ראה, to see with satisfaction), Exodus 30:38; Leviticus 26:31; Amos 5:21. The fear of God is that which He smells with satisfaction; it is rēach nı̄choach to Him. Meier's objection, that fear of God is not a thing that can be smelt, and therefore that hērı̄ach must signify to breathe, is a trivial one. Just as the outward man has five senses for the material world, the inner man has also a sensorium for the spiritual world, which discerns different things in different ways. Thus the second David scents the fear of God, and only the fear of God, as a pleasant fragrance; for the fear of God is a sacrifice of adoration continually ascending to God. His favour or displeasure does not depend upon brilliant or repulsive external qualities; He does not judge according to outward appearances, but according to the relation of the heart to His God.
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