Isaiah 2:1
The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
II.

(1) The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.—On the relation of this chapter to Isaiah 1, see Introduction. The moral and social state described in it points to an earlier date than the reformation of Hezekiah. The sins of the people are more flagrant; but there is not as yet with them the added guilt of a formal and ceremonial worship. The character of the king in Isaiah 3:12 corresponds with that of Ahaz. The influence of the Philistines, traceable in Isaiah 2:6, is probably connected with their invasion of Judah in that reign (2Chronicles 28:18). The mention of “ships of Tarshish” in Isaiah 2:16 points to a time when the commerce of the Red Sea (1Kings 9:26; 1Kings 22:48) was still in the hands of Judah, and prior, therefore, to the capture of Elath by Rezin, king of Syria (2Kings 16:6). We are able, therefore, with hardly the shadow of uncertainty, to fix the date of the whole section as belonging to the early years of the reign of Ahaz, with, perhaps, a backward glance at evils which belonged also to the reigns of Uzziah and Jotham. The title of the superscription unites in an exceptional form the two ideas of the prophet and of the seer. What follows is “the word” of Isaiah, but it is a word that he has seen.

Isaiah 2:1. The word that Isaiah saw — The matter, or thing, as the Hebrew word, הדבר, commonly signifies; the prophecy or vision. He speaks of the prophecy contained in this and the two following chapters, which makes one continued discourse. “The first five verses of this chapter foretel the kingdom of the Messiah, the conversion of the Gentiles, and their admission into it. From the 6th verse to the end of this second chapter is foretold the punishment of the unbelieving Jews for their idolatrous practices, their confidence in their own strength, and distrust of God’s protection: and, moreover, the destruction of idolatry in consequence of the establishment of the Messiah’s kingdom. The whole third chapter, with Isaiah 2:1, of the fourth, is a prophecy of the calamities of the Babylonian invasion and captivity; with a particular amplification of the distress of the proud and luxurious daughters of Sion. Isaiah 4:2-6, promises to the remnant, which shall have escaped this severe purgation, a future restoration to the favour and protection of God. This prophecy was probably delivered in the time of Jotham, or, perhaps, in that of Uzziah, to which time not any of his prophecies (and he prophesied in their days) is so applicable as that of these chapters.” — Bishop Lowth.

2:1-9 The calling of the Gentiles, the spread of the gospel, and that far more extensive preaching of it yet to come, are foretold. Let Christians strengthen one another, and support one another. It is God who teaches his people, by his word and Spirit. Christ promotes peace, as well as holiness. If all men were real Christians, there could be no war; but nothing answering to these expressions has yet taken place on the earth. Whatever others do, let us walk in the light of this peace. Let us remember that when true religion flourishes, men delight in going up to the house of the Lord, and in urging others to accompany them. Those are in danger who please themselves with strangers to God; for we soon learn to follow the ways of persons whose company we keep. It is not having silver and gold, horses and chariots, that displeases God, but depending upon them, as if we could not be safe, and easy, and happy without them, and could not but be so with them. Sin is a disgrace to the poorest and the lowest. And though lands called Christian are not full of idols, in the literal sense, are they not full of idolized riches? and are not men so busy about their gains and indulgences, that the Lord, his truths, and precepts, are forgotten or despised?The word - This indicates that this is the commencement of a new prophecy. It has no immediate connection with the preceding. It was delivered doubtless at a different time, and with reference to a different class of events. In the previous chapter the term "vision" is used Isaiah 2:1, but the meaning is substantially the same. The term "word" דבר dâbâr, denotes a "command, a promise, a doctrine, an oracle, a revelation, a message, a thing," etc. It means here, that Isaiah foresaw certain "future events" or "things" that would happen in regard to Judah and Jerusalem.

Judah ... - see the notes at Isaiah 1:1.

CHAPTER 2

Isa 2:1-22.

1. The inscription.

The word—the revelation.A prophecy of Christ’s kingdom, and the calling of the Gentiles, Isaiah 2:1-5; and rejection of the Jews for their idolatry and pride, Isaiah 2:6-9. The great majesty and power of God; and his terrors on the wicked; with an exhortation to fear God, and not to trust in man, Isaiah 2:10-22.

The word; or, the matter or thing, as this Hebrew word commonly signifies; the prophecy or vision.

The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw,.... That is, the vision which he saw, for a new one here begins, though agreeable to what goes before; or the prophecy of future things, which he had given to him in a visionary way. The Targum paraphrases it,

"the word of prophecy, which Isaiah, the son of Amoz, prophesied:''

or the thing, the "decree", as some choose to render it, the purpose of God concerning things to come, which was revealed to the prophet, and he here declares:

concerning Judah and Jerusalem; the church and people of God, and what should befall them and their enemies in the latter day: this inscription stands for this and the three following chapters.

The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
CH. Isaiah 2:2-4. ZION THE CENTRE OF THE UNIVERSAL RELIGION IN THE LATTER DAYS

In this striking picture of the Messianic age the following features should be noticed:—(i) The preeminence, amongst the mountains of the world, of Zion, the acknowledged seat of Jehovah’s universal dominion (cf. Jeremiah 3:17; Psalm 2:6; Psalm 110:2, &c., also Ezekiel 40:2). (ii) The extension of the true religion is effected, not by conquest, but by the moral influence of Israel’s theocratic institutions on surrounding peoples (cf. Isaiah 60:3). The submission of the nations is spontaneous; they are filled with eager desire to learn the ways of Jehovah (comp. Zechariah 2:11; Zechariah 8:22). Hence (iii) the nations retain their political independence. They are not conceived as absorbed in the Jewish nationality or as incorporated in a world-empire. Jehovah, not Israel, rules the world, and He rules it by His word, not by the sword. (iv) The authority of Jehovah, appealed to in all international disputes, brings war to an end, and ushers in an era of universal peace.

The representation is ideal, yet it contains little to which the hope of the Church does not look forward as the issue of the Christian dispensation. The only traces of the limitations of the Old Testament stand point spring from the idea of Zion as the earthly centre of Jehovah’s sovereignty. Even this has been understood literally by many Christians. But it is more in accordance with the analogy of prophecy to regard it as one of those symbols of spiritual truth, which, although conceived realistically by the prophets, were destined to be fulfilled in ways that could not be perfectly revealed until the true nature of God’s kingdom was disclosed by Christ.

The occurrence of this prophecy, with slight variations, in Micah 4:1-4, raises a difficult literary problem, for no one will now hold that the two prophets were independently inspired to utter identical words. Did Isaiah borrow from Micah or Micah from Isaiah, or both from some unknown earlier prophet? Against the first hypothesis it is pointed out that Micah’s prophetic career had not begun till a time considerably later than the date of these chapters; hence if either prophet borrowed from the other the citation must be on the part of Micah. But against this it is urged that its position in Isaiah and the want of connexion with what follows mark it out as a quotation, and also that it is given by Micah in what appears to be the more original form. Hence the third alternative (originally propounded by Koppe in the last century) has been widely accepted by critics. On this view the utterance of an older prophet has been adopted by Isaiah and Micah as a “classic” and perhaps popular expression of the ideal to which they both looked forward. But a theory which is reached by a process of exhaustion cannot command much confidence, especially when the process is after all not exhaustive. The possibility of a later insertion in both places cannot be ignored, and a certain presumption in favour of Isaiah’s authorship is furnished by resemblances both in matter and style to other passages in the book (Isaiah 11:1-8, Isaiah 32:1-8), (so Duhm). At the same time it cannot be denied that its connexion in the present passage is somewhat loose, and it must remain doubtful whether it was originally composed as the introduction to this group of prophecies or belongs to a later stage of Isaiah’s life. The assertion that the conception presented would be unintelligible in the age of Isaiah may be disregarded. As Wellhausen remarks, the prediction is one that would be remarkable in any age; it is perhaps even less surprising from the pen of Isaiah than from that of a later prophet.

Verse 1. - TITLE OF THE CHAPTER. It is generally allowed that the heading belongs, not to this chapter only, but to a section of the work, beginning here and ending at the close, either of Isaiah 4. or of Isaiah 5. It is probable that the section was originally published separately. Isaiah 2:1The limits of this address are very obvious. The end of Isaiah 4:1-6 connects itself with the beginning of chapter 2, so as to form a circle. After various alternations of admonition, reproach, and threatening, the prophet reaches at last the object of the promise with which he started. Chapter 5, on the other hand, commences afresh with a parable. It forms an independent address, although it is included, along with the previous chapters, under the heading in Isaiah 2:1 : "The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw over Judah and Jerusalem." Chapters 2-5 may have existed under this heading before the whole collection arose. It was then adopted in this form into the general collection, so as to mark the transition from the prologue to the body of the book. The prophet describes what he here says concerning Judah and Jerusalem as "the word which he saw." When men speak to one another, the words are not seen, but heard. But when God spoke to the prophet, it was in a supersensuous way, and the prophet saw it. The mind indeed has no more eyes than ears; but a mind qualified to perceive what is supersensuous is altogether eye.

The manner in which Isaiah commences this second address is altogether unparalleled. There is no other example of a prophecy beginning with והיה. And it is very easy to discover the reason why. The praet. consecutivum v'hâyâh derives the force of a future from the context alone; whereas the fut. consecutivum vay'hi (with which historical books and sections very generally commence) is shown to be an aorist by its simple form. Moreover, the Vav in the fut. consecut. has almost entirely lost its copulative character; in the praet. consec., on the other hand, it retains it with all the greater force. The prophet therefore commences with "and"; and it is from what follows, not from what goes before, that we learn that hayah is used in a future sense. But this is not the only strange thing. It is also an unparalleled occurrence, for a prophetic address, which runs as this does through all the different phases of the prophetic discourses generally (viz., exhortation, reproof, threatening, and promise), to commence with a promise. We are in a condition, however, to explain the cause of this remarkable phenomenon with certainty, and not merely to resort to conjecture. Isaiah 2:2-4 do not contain Isaiah's own words, but the words of another prophet taken out of their connection. We find them again in Micah 4:1-4; and whether Isaiah took them from Micah, or whether both Isaiah and Micah took them from some common source, in either case they were not originally Isaiah's.

(Note: The historical statement in Jeremiah 26:18, from which we learn that it was in the days of Hezekiah that Micah uttered the threat contained in Micah 3:12 (of which the promise sin Micah 4:1-4 and Isaiah 2:2-4 are the direct antithesis), apparently precludes the idea that Isaiah borrowed from Micah, whilst the opposite is altogether inadmissible, for reasons assigned above. Ewald and Hitzig have therefore come to the conclusion, quite independently of each other, that both Micah and Isaiah repeated the words of a third and earlier prophet, most probably of Joel. And the passage in question has really very much in common with the book of Joel, viz., the idea of the melting down of ploughshares and pruning-hooks (Joel 3:10), the combination of râb (many) and âtsum (strong), of gephen (vine) and te'enah (fig-tree), as compared with Micah 4:4; also the attesting formula, "For Jehovah hath spoken it" (Chi Jehovah dibber: Joel 3:8), which is not found in Micah, whereas it is very common in Isaiah - a fact which makes the sign itself a very feeble one (cf., 1 Kings 14:11, also Obadiah 1:18). Hitzig, indeed, maintains that it is only by restoring this passage that the prophetic writings of Joel receive their proper rounding off and an appropriate termination; but although swords and spears beaten into ploughshares and pruning-hooks form a good antithesis to ploughshares and pruning-hooks beaten into swords and spears (Joel 3:10), the coming of great and mighty nations to Mount Zion after the previous judgment of extermination would be too unprepared or much too abrupt a phenomenon. On the other hand, we cannot admit the force of the arguments adduced either by E. Meier (Joel, p. 195) or by Knobel and G. Baur (Amos, p. 29) against the authorship of Joel, which rest upon a misapprehension of the meaning of Joel's prophecies, which the former regards as too full of storm and battle, the latter as too exclusive and one-sided, for Joel to be the author of the passage in question. At the same time, we would call attention to the fact, that the promises in Micah form the obverse side to the previous threatenings of judgment, so that there is a presumption of their originality; also that the passage contains as many traces of Micah's style (see above at Isaiah 1:3) as we could expect to find in these three verses; and, as we shall show at the conclusion of this cycle of predictions (chapters 1-6), that the historical fact mentioned in Jeremiah 26:18 may be reconciled in the simplest possible manner with the assumption that Isaiah borrowed these words of promise from Micah. (See Caspari, Micha, p. 444ff.))

Nor was it even intended that they should appear to be his. Isaiah has not fused them into the general flow of his own prophecy, as the prophets usually do with the predictions of their predecessors. He does not reproduce them, but, as we may observe from the abrupt commencement, he quote them. It is true, this hardly seems to tally with the heading, which describes what follows as the word of Jehovah which Isaiah saw. But the discrepancy is only an apparent one. It was the spirit of prophecy, which called to Isaiah's remembrance a prophetic saying that had already been uttered, and made it the starting-point of the thoughts which followed in Isaiah's mind. The borrowed promise is not introduced for its own sake, but is simply a self-explaining introduction to the exhortations and threatenings which follow, and through which the prophet works his way to a conclusion of his own, that is closely intertwined with the borrowed commencement.

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