Isaiah 18:6
They shall be left together unto the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth: and the fowls shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon 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. Isaiah 18:6The prophet knows for certain that the messengers may be home and announce this act of Jehovah to their own people and to all the world. "For thus hath Jehovah spoken to me: I will be still, and will observe upon my throne during clear weather in sunshine, during a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest. For before the harvest, when the blossom falls off, and the fruit becomes the ripening grape: then will He cut off the branches with pruning-hooks; and the tendrils He removes, breaks off. They are left altogether to the birds of prey on the mountains, and to the cattle of the land; and the birds of prey summer thereon, and all the cattle of the land will winter thereon." The prophecy explains itself here, as is very frequently the case, especially with Isaiah; for the literal words of v. 6 show us unquestionably what it is that Jehovah will allow to develop itself so prosperously under favourable circumstances, and without any interposition on His part, until He suddenly and violently puts an end to the whole, must as it is approaching perfect maturity. It is the might of Assyria. Jehovah quietly looks on from the heavenly seat of His glorious presence, without disturbing the course of the thing intended. This quietness, however, is not negligence, but, as the hortative expressions show, a well-considered resolution. The two Caphs in v. 4 are not comparative, but indicate the time. He remains quiet whilst there is clear weather with sunshine (עלי indicating continuance, as in Jeremiah 8:18; 1 Samuel 14:32), and whilst there is a dew-cloud in the midst of that warmth, which is so favourable for the harvest, by causing the plants that have been thoroughly heated in the day and refreshed at night by the dew, to shoot up and ripen with rapidity and luxuriance. The plant thought of, as v. 5 clearly shows, is the vine. By liphnē kâtzir (before the harvest) we are either to understand the period just before the wheat-harvest, which coincides with the flowering of the grape; or, since Isaiah uses kâtzir for bâzri in Isaiah 16:9, the time at the close of the summer, immediately preceding the vintage. Here again the Caph indicates the time. When the blossoming is over, so that the flower fades away, and the fruit that has set becomes a ripening grape (boser, as in Job 15:33, not in the sense of labruscum, but of omphax; and gâmal, maturescere, as in Numbers 17:8, maturare), He cuts off the branches (zalzalilm, from zilzēl, to swing to and fro; compare the Arabic dâliye, a vine-branch, from dalâ, to hang long and loose) upon which the nearly ripened grapes are hanging, and removes or nips off

(Note: התז equals התז with a pausal sharpening of the tzere, which is lengthened by the tone, from tâzaz or tı̄z in post-biblical Hebrew, to knock off, knock to pieces, or weaken (compare tâshash). On this change of vowels in pause, see at Genesis 17:14; and compare Olshausen, 91, d. For an example of the post-biblical use of the word, vid., b. Sanhedrin 102a, "like two sticks hammattı̄zōth," i.e., one of which "hits the other in two" (hittiz, apparently from tūz, or tiz, like hinnı̄ach from nuach).)

the tendrils (netishoth, as in Jeremiah 5:10, from nâtash, to stretch far out; niphal, to twist about a long way, Isaiah 16:8, compare Jeremiah 48:32); an intentional asyndeton with a pictorial sound. The words of Jehovah concerning Himself have here passed imperceptibly into words of the prophet concerning Jehovah. The ripening grapes, as Isaiah 18:6 now explains, are the Assyrians, who were not far from the summit of their power; the fruit-branches that are cut off and nipped in pieces are their corpses, which are now through both summer and winter the food of swarms of summer birds, as well as of beasts of prey that remain the whole winter through. This is the act of divine judgment, to which the approaching exaltation of the banner, and the approaching blast of trumpets, is to call the attention of the people of Ethiopia.

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