Isaiah 2:19
And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he rises to shake terribly the earth.
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(19) And they shall go into the holes of the rocks.—The imagery of the earthquake in Uzziah’s reign (see Note on Isaiah 2:10) is still present to Isaiah’s thoughts. (See Revelation 6:15.)

When he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.—The Hebrew verb and noun have the emphasis of a paronomasia which cannot be reproduced in English, but of which the Latin “ut terreat terram” gives some idea.

Isaiah 2:19. And they — The idolatrous Israelites; shall go into the holes of the rocks, &c. — Their usual places of retreat in cases of danger; see Joshua 10:16; Jdg 6:2; 1 Samuel 13:6. The idea is taken from the nature of the land of Canaan; which was full of caves and dens; for fear of the Lord, and the glory of his majesty, &c. — “The meaning is, that there should be, at this time, a great and most bright display of the divine majesty and justice, which the impious and hypocritical could not bear; and that, struck with the terror of the divine judgment, they should consult for their safety, with the utmost terror and consternation, in caves, dens, and holes of the earth.” “The Prophet Hosea hath carried the same image further, and added great strength and spirit to it, Hosea 10:8. They shall say to the mountains, Cover us; and to the hills, Fall on us; which image, together with these of Isaiah, is adopted by the sublime author of the Revelation 6:15-16.” See Dodd and Bishop Lowth.2:10-22 The taking of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans seems first meant here, when idolatry among the Jews was done away; but our thoughts are led forward to the destruction of all the enemies of Christ. It is folly for those who are pursued by the wrath of God, to think to hide or shelter themselves from it. The shaking of the earth will be terrible to those who set their affections on things of the earth. Men's haughtiness will be brought down, either by the grace of God convincing them of the evil of pride, or by the providence of God depriving them of all the things they were proud of. The day of the Lord shall be upon those things in which they put their confidence. Those who will not be reasoned out of their sins, sooner or later shall be frightened out of them. Covetous men make money their god; but the time will come when they will feel it as much their burden. This whole passage may be applied to the case of an awakened sinner, ready to leave all that his soul may be saved. The Jews were prone to rely on their heathen neighbours; but they are here called upon to cease from depending on mortal man. We are all prone to the same sin. Then let not man be your fear, let not him be your hope; but let your hope be in the Lord your God. Let us make this our great concern.And they shall go - That is, the worshippers of idols.

Into the holes of the rocks - Judea was a mountainous country, and the mountains abounded with caves that offered a safe retreat for those who were in danger. Many of those caverns were very spacious. At En-gedi, in particular, a cave is mentioned where David with six hundred men hid himself from Saul in the "sides" of it; 1 Samuel 24. Sometimes caves or dens were artificially constructed for refuge or defense in danger; Judges 6:2; 1 Samuel 13:6. Thus, 'because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds.' Judges 6:2. To these they fled in times of hostile invasion. 'When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait (for the people were distressed), then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits;' 1 Samuel 13:6; compare Jeremiah 41:9. Mahomet speaks of a tribe of Arabians, the tribe of Thamud, who 'hewed houses out of the mountains to secure themselves;' Koran, ch. xv. and xxvi. Grots or rooms hewed out of rocks for various purposes are often mentioned by travelers in Oriental regions: see Maundrell, p. 118, and Burckhardt's "Travels in Syria," and particularly Laborde's "Journey to Arabia Petrea." Such caves are often mentioned by Josephus as affording places of refuge for banditti and robbers; "Ant.," B. xiv. ch. 15, and "Jewish Wars," B. i. ch. 16. To enter into the caves and dens, therefore, as places of refuge, was a very natural image to denote consternation. The meaning here is, that the worshippers of idols should be so alarmed as to seek for a place of security and refuge; compare Isaiah 2:10.

When he ariseth - This is an expression often used in the Scriptures to denote the commencement of doing anything. It is here derived, perhaps, from the image of one who has been in repose - as of a lion or warrior, rousing up suddenly, and putting forth mighty efforts.

To shake terribly the earth - An image denoting the presence of God, for judgment or punishment. One of the magnificent images which the sacred writers often use to denote the presence of the Lord is, that the earth shakes and trembles; the mountains bow and are convulsed; 2 Samuel 22:8 : 'Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved, because he was wroth;' See also Isaiah 2:9-16; Judges 5:4; Habakkuk 3:6-10 : 'The mountains saw thee and trembled;' Hebrews 12:26 : 'Whose voice then shook the earth.' The image here denotes that he would come forth in such wrath that the very earth should tremble, as if alarmed his presence. The mind cannot conceive more sublime images than are thus used by the sacred writers.

19. The fulfilment answers exactly to the threat (Isa 2:10).

they—the idol-worshippers.

caves—abounding in Judea, a hilly country; hiding-places in times of alarm (1Sa 13:6).

shake … earth—and the heavens also (Heb 12:26). Figure for severe and universal judgments.

They, the idolatrous Israelites,

shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth; their usual places of retreat in cases of danger; of which see Joshua 10:16 Judges 6:2 1 Samuel 13:6.

To shake terribly the earth; either properly, or rather figuratively, to send dreadful judgments upon the inhabitants of the land. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth,.... That is, the worshippers of idols, as they are bid to do, Isaiah 2:10.

for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty; see Gill on Isaiah 2:10.

when be ariseth; out of his place; Jarchi says, at the day of judgment; but it respects the judgment of the great whore, and the time when Babylon the great shall come in remembrance before God:

to shake terribly the earth; at which earthquake, or shaking of the earth, that is, a revolution of the antichristian state, the tenth part of the city will fall, and seven thousand men of name be slain, Revelation 9:13 and so the Targum paraphrases it,

"when he shall be revealed, to break in pieces the wicked of the earth;''

which will be done by him, as the vessels of a potter are broken to shivers, Revelation 2:27.

And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.
19. they shall go] i.e., as R.V., men shall go.

holes of the rocks … earth] Better: caves of the rocks and into the holes of the dust (R.V. and marg.; see on Isaiah 2:10 above).

to shake terribly the earth] R.V. has “to shake mightily,” but the strict rendering is to terrify the earth: a paronomasia in Heb., easily imitated in Latin, “ut terreat terram.” There is an undoubted allusion to an earthquake. Isaiah must have experienced the great earthquake in the reign of Uzziah (Amos 1:1; Zechariah 14:5); and the deep impression made on his youthful mind furnished him with a presentiment of the terror of the great day of Jehovah.Verse 19. - They shall go into the holes of the rooks, etc. (see ver. 10, which is an exhortation to do what this verse declares will be done). On the abundant caves of Palestine, see note on the former passage. To shake terribly the earth; literally, to affright the earth. It is not said in what way he will affright it. The cognate Arabic verb has the meaning "to shake;" but it is not clear that the Hebrew one has ever this sense. The prophet then proceeds to enumerate all the high things upon which that day would fall, arranging them two and two, and binding them in pairs by a double correlative Vav. The day of Jehovah comes, as the first two pairs affirm, upon everything lofty in nature. "As upon all the cedars of Lebanon, the lofty and exalted, so upon all the oaks of Bashan. As upon all mountains, the lofty ones, so upon all hills the exalted ones." But wherefore upon all this majestic beauty of nature? Is all this merely figurative? Knobel regards it as merely a figurative description of the grand buildings of the time of Uzziah and Jotham, in the erection of which wood had been used from Lebanon as well as from Bashan, on the western slopes of which the old shady oaks (sindiân and ballūt) are flourishing still.

(Note: On the meaning of the name of this region, Bashan (Basanitis), see Comm. on Job, Appendix, Eng. Tr.)

But the idea that trees can be used to signify the houses built with the good obtained from them, is one that cannot be sustained from Isaiah 9:9 (10.), where the reference is not to houses built of sycamore and cedar wood, but to trunks of trees of the king mentioned; nor even from Nahum 2:4 (3.), where habberoshim refers to the fir lances which are brandished about in haughty thirst for battle. So again mountains and hills cannot denote the castles and fortifications built upon them, more especially as these are expressly mentioned in Isaiah 2:15 in the most literal terms. In order to understand the prophet, we must bear in mind what the Scriptures invariably assume, from their first chapter to the very close, namely, that the totality of nature is bound up with man in one common history; that man and the totality of nature are inseparably connected together as centre and circumference; that this circumference is affected by the sin which proceeds from man, as well as by the anger or the mercy which proceeds from God to man; that the judgments of God, as the history of the nations proves, involve in fellow-suffering even that part of the creation which is not free; and that this participation in the "corruption" (phthora) and "glory" (doxa) of humanity will come out with peculiar distinctness and force at the close of the world's history, in a manner corresponding to the commencement; and lastly, that the world in its present condition needs a palingenesia, or regeneration, quite as much as the corporeal nature of man, before it can become an object of good pleasure on the part of God. We cannot be surprised, therefore, that, in accordance with this fundamental view of the Scriptures, when the judgment of God fell upon Israel, it should also be described as going down to the land of Israel, and as overthrowing not only the false glory of the nation itself, but everything glorious in the surrounding nature, which had been made to minister to its national pride and love of show, and to which its sin adhered in many different ways. What the prophet foretold began to be fulfilled even in the Assyrian wars. The cedar woods of Lebanon were unsparingly destroyed; the heights and valleys of the land were trodden down and laid waste; and, in the period of the great empires which commenced with Tiglath-pileser, the Holy Land was reduced to a shadow of its former promised beauty.

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