Isaiah 18:6
They shall be left together to the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth: and the fowls shall summer on them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter on them.
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(6) They shall be left together unto the fowls of the mountains . . .—The figure and the reality are strangely blended. The grapes of that vintage cut off by those pruning-hooks are none other than the carcases of the host of the Assyrians left unburied, to be devoured by the dogs and vultures.

18:1-7 God's care for his people; and the increase of the church. - This chapter is one of the most obscure in Scripture, though more of it probably was understood by those for whose use it was first intended, than by us now. Swift messengers are sent by water to a nation marked by Providence, and measured out, trodden under foot. God's people are trampled on; but whoever thinks to swallow them up, finds they are cast down, yet not deserted, not destroyed. All the dwellers on earth must watch the motions of the Divine Providence, and wait upon the directions of the Divine will. God gives assurance to his prophet, and by him to be given to his people. Zion is his rest for ever, and he will look after it. He will suit to their case the comforts and refreshments he provides for them; they will be acceptable, because seasonable. He will reckon with his and their enemies; and as God's people are protected at all seasons of the year, so their enemies are exposed at all seasons. A tribute of praise should be brought to God from all this. What is offered to God, must be offered in the way he has appointed; and we may expect him to meet us where he records his name. Thus shall the nations of the earth be convinced that Jehovah is the God, and Israel is his people, and shall unite in presenting spiritual sacrifices to his glory. Happy are those who take warning by his judgment on others, and hasten to join him and his people. Whatever land or people may be intended, we are here taught not to think that God takes no care of his church, and has no respect to the affairs of men, because he permits the wicked to triumph for a season. He has wise reasons for so doing, which we cannot now understand, but which will appear at the great day of his coming, when he will bring every work into judgment, and reward every man according to his works.They shall be left together - The figure here is dropped, and the literal narration is resumed. The sense is, that the army shall be slain and left unburied. Perhaps the "branches and twigs" in the previous verse denoted military leaders, and the captains of the armies, which are now represented as becoming food for beasts of the field and for birds of prey.

To the fowls of the mountains - Their dead bodies shall be unburied, and shall be a prey to the birds that prey upon flesh.

And to the beasts of the earth - The wild animals: the beasts of the forest.

And the fowls shall summer upon them - Shall pass the summer, that is, they shall continue to be unburied. "And the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them." They shall be unburied through the winter; probably indicating that they would furnish food for the fowls and the wild beasts for a long time. On the multitude of carcasses these animals will find nourishment for a whole year, that is, they will spend the summer and the winter with them. When this was fulfilled, it is, perhaps, not possible to tell, as we are so little acquainted with the circumstances of the people in relation to whom it was spoken. If it related, as I suppose, to the people of Nubia or Ethiopia forming an alliance with the Assyrians for the purpose of invading Judea, it was fulfilled probably when Sennacherib and his assembled hosts were destroyed. Whenever it was fulfilled, it is quite evident that the design of the prophecy was to give comfort to the Jews, alarmed and agitated as they were at the prospect of the preparations which were made, by the assurance that those plans would fail, and all the efforts of their enemies be foiled and disconcerted.

6. birds … beasts—transition from the image "sprigs," "branches," to the thing meant: the Assyrian soldiers and leaders shall be the prey of birds and beasts, the whole year through, "winter" and "summer," so numerous shall be their carcasses. Horsley translates the Hebrew which is singular: "upon it," not "upon them"; the "it" refers to God's "dwelling-place" (Isa 18:4) in the Holy Land, which Antichrist ("the bird of prey" with the "beasts," his rebel hosts) is to possess himself of, and where he is to perish. The sprigs and branches being cut down and thrown upon the ground, with the unripe grapes upon them, they shall lie upon the earth neglected by men, as being unripe, and unfit for their use, so that either birds or beasts may shelter themselves with them, or feed on them, both summer and winter. You are not to understand that the summer is appropriated to the fowls, and the winter to the beasts; but this is only an elegancy of the Hebrew language to use such distributions, of which we have many instances in prophetical writings. They shall be left, together unto the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth,.... That is, both sprigs and branches; with the fruit of them, which being unripe, are disregarded by men, but fed upon by birds and beasts; the fruits by the former, and the tender sprigs and green branches by the latter; signifying the destruction of the Ethiopians or Egyptians, and that the princes and the people should fall together, and lie unburied, and become a prey to birds and beasts; or the destruction of the Assyrian army slain by the angel, as Aben Ezra and others; though some interpret it of the army of Gog and Magog, as before observed; see Ezekiel 39:17,

and the fowls shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them; not that the one should feed upon them in the summer time, and the other in the winter; the fowls in the summer time, when they fly in large flocks, and the beasts in the winter, when they go together in great numbers, as Kimchi; but the sense is, that the carnage should be so great, there would be sufficient for them both, all the year long.

They shall be left together to the fowls of the mountains, and to the {i} beasts of the earth: and the fowls shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them.

(i) Not only men will contemn them, but the brute beast.

6. The figure is now abandoned; instead of the “sprigs and branches” of the vine, we have the dead bodies of the Assyrian soldiers left as carrion for unclean beasts and birds, summer … winter] a whole year. The idea is amplified, with somewhat gruesome details, in Ezekiel 39:11 ff.; cf. also Jeremiah 7:33; 1 Samuel 17:46; 2 Samuel 21:10.Verse 6. - They shall be left together unto the fowls. At length imagery is dropped. The vine is shown to be an army, slaughtered all "together," and left a prey to kites and vultures, jackals and hyaenas. Shall summer... shall winter. They will furnish food to the beasts and birds of prey for the remainder of the year. Fourth turn: "Woe to the raoring of many nations: like the roaring of seas they roar; and to the rumbling of nations, like the rumbling of mighty waters they rumble! Nations, like the rumbling of many waters they rumble; and He threatens it: then it flies far away, and is chased like chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a cloud of dust before the gale. At eventide, behold consternation; and before the morning dawn it is destroyed: this the portion of our plunderers, and the lot of our robbers." It is the destruction of Asshur that the prophet is predicting here (as in Isaiah 14:24-27; Isaiah 29:5-8, etc.), though not of Asshur as Asshur, but of Asshur as the imperial kingdom, which embraced a multitude of nations (Isaiah 22:6; Isaiah 8:9, Isaiah 8:10; Isaiah 14:26; Isaiah 29:7, Isaiah 29:8) all gathered together under the rule of one will, to make a common attack upon the church of God. The connection between this fourth turn and the third is precisely the same as between Isaiah 8:9, Isaiah 8:10, and Isaiah 8:6-8. The exclamation of woe (hoi) is an expression of pain, as in Isaiah 10:1; and this is followed by a proclamation of the judgment of wrath. The description of the rolling wave of nations is as pictorial as the well-known illi inter sese, etc., of the Cyclops in Virgil. "It spreads and stretches out, as if it would never cease to roll, and roar, and surge, and sweep onward in its course" (Drechsler). In the expression "it" (bo) in Isaiah 17:13, the many surging nations are kneaded together, as it were, into one mass. It costs God simply a threatening word; and this mass all flies apart (mimmerchâk like mērâchōk, Isaiah 23:7), and falls into dust, and whirls about in all directions, like the chaff of threshing-floors in high situations, or like dust whirled up by the storm. The judgment commences in the evening, and rages through the night; and before the morning dawns, the army of nations raised by the imperial power is all destroyed (compare Isaiah 29:7, Isaiah 29:8, and the fulfilment in Isaiah 37:36). The fact that the oracle concerning Damascus in its fourth stage takes so comprehensive and, so far as Israel is concerned, so promising a form, may be explained on the ground that Syria was the forerunner of Asshur in the attack upon Israel, and that the alliance between Israel and Syria became the occasion of the complications with Asshur. If the substance of the massâ Dammesek (the oracle concerning Damascus) had been restricted to the prophecy contained in the name Mahershalal, the element of promise so characteristic of the prophecies against the nations of the world would be entirely wanting. But the shout of triumph, "This is the portion," etc., supplied a terminal point, beyond which the massa could not go without the sacrifice of its unity. We are therefore warranted in regarding Isaiah 18:1-7 as an independent prophecy, notwithstanding its commencement, which apparently forms a continuation of the fourth strophe of Isaiah 17:1-14.
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