Isaiah 2:2
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
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(2) It shall come to pass in the last days.—The three verses that follow are found in almost identical form in Micah 4:1-3, with the addition of a verse (Micah 4:4) which describes the prosperity of Judah—every man sitting “under his vine and his fig-tree,” as in the days of Solomon. Whether (1) Isaiah borrowed from Micah, or (2) Micah from Isaiah, or (3) both from some earlier prophet, or (4) whether each received an independent yet identical revelation, is a problem which we have no adequate data for solving. Micah prophesied, like Isaiah, under Ahaz, Jotham, and Hezekiah, and so either may have heard it from the other. On the other hand, the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem, on which these verses follow, in Micah 3:12, appears from Jeremiah 26:18 to have been spoken in the days of Hezekiah. On the whole, (3) seems to have most to commend it. (See Introduction.)

For “in the last days” read latter or after days; the idea of the Hebrew words, as in Genesis 49:1; Numbers 24:14, being that of remoteness rather than finality. For the most part (Deuteronomy 4:30; Deuteronomy 31:29) they point to the distant future of the true King, to the time of the Messiah.

The mountain of the Lord’s house.—The prophet’s vision of the far-off days sees, as it were, a transfigured and glorified Jerusalem. Zion, with the Temple, was to be no longer surrounded by hills as high as, or higher than, itself (Psalm 125:2), scorned by other mountains (Psalm 68:16-17); but was to be to Israel as a Sinai or a Lebanon, as a Mount Meru, or an Olympus, “an exceeding high mountain” (Ezekiel 40:2), whose physical elevation should answer to its spiritual. (Comp. Zechariah 14:10.) So in that vision of the future, the waters of Shiloah, that went softly, were to become a broad and rushing river (Isaiah 33:21; Ezekiel 47:3-12). So, when men had been taught by experience that this ideal was to be realised in no Jerusalem or earth, the seer of Patmos saw a yet more transcendent vision of the glories of the heavenly Jerusalem (Revelation 21:10 to Revelation 22:5), and yet even these were but types and figures of divine and ineffable realities.

All nations shall flow unto it.—Better, all the nations—i.e., the heathen as distinct from Israel. The prophet sees and welcomes the approach of pilgrims from all regions of the earth to the new sanctuary. Thus early in his work was Isaiah (half unconsciously as to the manner in which his vision was to be realised) the prophet of a universal religion, of which the truths of Judaism were the centre, and of a catholic Church. In the admission of proselytes, commemorated in Psalms 87 (probably written about this time), we may see what may either have suggested the prophecy, or have seemed as the first-fruits of its fulfilment.

Isaiah 2:2. And — Or rather, now, it shall come to pass in the last days — The times of the Messiah, which are always spoken of by the prophets as the last days, because they are the last times and state of the church, Christ’s institutions being to continue to the end of the world. See Joel 2:28, compared with Acts 2:17; Micah 4:1, compared with Hebrews 1:1; 1 Peter 1:20. The Jews, it must be observed, divided the times or succession of the world into three ages or periods: the first, before the law; the second, under the law; the third, under the Messiah: which they justly considered as the last dispensation, designed of God to remain till the consummation of all things. “Accordingly St. Paul tells us, that Christ appeared επι συντελεια των αιωνων, at the consummation of the ages, or several periods of the world, Hebrews 9:26; and, speaking of his own times, saith, τελη των αιωνων, the ends of the world, or conclusion of the ages, are come, 1 Corinthians 10:11. The mountain of the Lord’s house — Mount Moriah, on which the Lord’s house stood, or rather, the Lord’s house upon that mount, shall be established upon the top of the mountains — Shall be raised above, be rendered more conspicuous than, and shall be preferred before, all other mountains on which houses are built, and altars erected and dedicated to any god or gods. The prophet speaks figuratively. He means, that the worship of the true God should be established on the ruins of idolatry, that the true religion should swallow up all false religions, and the church of God, typified by the temple at Jerusalem, become most eminent and conspicuous, as a city on a high mountain: and shall be exalted above the hills — Above all churches, states, and kingdoms in the world, and all that is excellent and glorious therein. The stone cut out of the mountain, without hands, shall become itself a mountain, and shall fill the whole earth, Daniel 2:34-35. And all nations — Even the Gentile nations; shall flow unto it — Shall come in great abundance and with great eagerness to embrace the true religion, and become members of the true church, like broad streams, or mighty rivers, flowing swiftly and impetuously toward the ocean, as the word נהרי, here used, signifies. Now, it is well known, this was not the case with respect to the Jewish Church at Jerusalem, or the worship there established. It never happened, during the ages that intervened between the time of Isaiah and the destruction of their city and temple, and the dispersion of their nation by the Romans, that their religion was so exalted, or made such great account of, by any nations remote or near, as is here expressed: much less did whole nations flow unto them, or unite themselves with them in the service of God, and in church fellowship. But this prophecy has been in a great measure fulfilled with regard to the Christian Church, which has so drawn to it the greater part of the civilized nations, that it has far, very far, surpassed all other religious institutions, whether Jewish, heathen, or Mohammedan: and when the last of the four kingdoms, spoken of Daniel 2:35; Daniel 2:40-45; Daniel 7:19-27, shall be destroyed, and thereby all obstructions removed, it shall be fully and perfectly accomplished, and the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the Most High. For the Messiah shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth: yea, all kings shall fall down before him, and all nations shall serve him, Psalm 72:8; Psalm 72:11.

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?In the last days - הימים באחרית be'achărı̂yth hāyâmı̂ym. In the "after" days; in the "futurity" of days; that is, in the time to come. This is an expression that often occurs in the Old Testament. It does not of itself refer to any "particular" period, and especially not, as our translation would seem to indicate, to the end of the world. The expression properly denotes "only future time" in general. But the prophets were accustomed to concentrate all their hopes on the coming of the Messiah. They saw his advent as giving character, and sublimity, and happiness to all coming times. Hence, the expression came to denote, by way of eminence, the times of the Messiah, and is frequently used in the New Testament, as well as the Old, to designate those times; see Acts 2:17; compare Joel 2:28; Hebrews 1:2; 1 Peter 1:5, 1 Peter 1:20; 1 John 2:18; Genesis 49:1; Micah 4:1; Deuteronomy 4:30; Jeremiah 48:47; Daniel 11:28.

The expressions which follow are figurative, and cannot well be interpreted as relating to any other events than the times of the Messiah. They refer to that future period, then remote, which would constitute the "last" dispensation of things in this world - the "last" time - the period, however long it might be, in which the affairs of the world would be closed. The patriarchal times had passed away; the dispensation under the Mosaic economy would pass away; the times of the Messiah would be the "last" times, or the last dispensation, under which the affairs of the world would be consummated. Thus the phrase is evidently used in the New Testament, as denoting the "last" time, though without implying that that time would be short. It might be longer than "all" the previous periods put together, but it would be the "last" economy, and under that economy, or "in" that time, the world would be destroyed, Christ would come to judgment, the dead would be raised, and the affairs of the world would be wound up. The apostles, by the use of this phrase, never intimate that the time would be short, or that the day of judgment was near, but only that "in" that time the great events of the world's history would be consummated and closed; compare 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5. This prophecy occurs in Micah M1 Corinthians 4:1-5 with scarcely any variation. It is not known whether Isaiah made use of Micah, or Micah of Isaiah, or both of an older and well-known prophecy. Hengstenberg ("Chris." i., pp. 289, 290) supposes that Isaiah copied from Micah, and suggests the following reasons:

1. The prediction of Isaiah is disconnected with what goes before, and yet begins with the copulative ו (v), "and." In Micah, on the contrary, it is connected with what precedes and follows.

2. In the discourses of the prophets, the promise usually follows the threatening. This order is observed by Micah; in Isaiah, on the contrary, the promise contained in the passage precedes the threatening, and another promise follows. Many of the older theologians supposed that the passages were communicated alike by the Holy Spirit to both writers. But there is no improbability in supposing that Isaiah may have availed himself of language used by Micah in describing the same event.

The mountain of the Lord's house - The temple was built on mount Moriah, which was hence called the mountain of the Lord's house. The temple, or the mountain on which it was reared, would be the object which would express the public worship of the true God. And hence, to say that that should be elevated higher than all other hills, or mountains, means, that the worship of the true God would become an object so conspicuous as to be seen by all nations; and so conspicuous that all nations would forsake other objects and places of worship, being attracted by the glory of the worship of the true God.

Shall be established - Shall be fixed, rendered permanent.

In the top of the mountains - To be in the top of the mountains, would be to be "conspicuous," or seen from afar. In other words, the true religion would be made known to all people.

Shall flow unto it - This is a figurative expression, denoting that they would be converted to the true religion. It indicates that they would come in multitudes, like the flowing of a mighty river. The idea of the "flowing" of the nations, or of the movement of many people toward an object like a broad stream, is one that is very grand and sublime; compare Psalm 65:7. This cannot be understood of any period previous to the establishment of the gospel. At no time of the Jewish history did any events occur that would be a complete fulfillment of this prophecy. The expressions evidently refer to that period elsewhere often predicted by this prophet Isaiah 11:10; Isaiah 42:1, Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:22; Isaiah 54:3; Isaiah 60:3, Isaiah 60:5, Isaiah 60:10; Isaiah 62:2; Isaiah 66:12, Isaiah 66:19, when "the Gentiles" would be brought to the knowledge of the true religion. In Isaiah 66:12, there occurs a passage remarkably similar, and which may serve to explain this:

'Behold I will extend peace to her (to Zion) as a river;

And the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.'

Under the Messiah, through the preaching of the apostles and by the spread of the gospel, this prophecy was to receive its full accomplishment.

2. Same as Mic 4:1. As Micah prophesied in Jotham's reign, and Isaiah in Uzziah's, Micah rests on Isaiah, whom he confirms: not vice versa. Hengstenberg on slight grounds makes Mic 4:1 the original.

last days—that is, Messiah's: especially the days yet to come, to which all prophecy hastens, when "the house of the God of Jacob," namely, at Jerusalem, shall be the center to which the converted nations shall flock together (Mt 13:32; Lu 2:31, 32; Ac 1:6, 7); where "the kingdom" of Israel is regarded as certain and the time alone uncertain (Ps 68:15, 16; 72:8, 11).

mountain of the Lord's house … in the top, &c.—the temple on Mount Moriah: type of the Gospel, beginning at Jerusalem, and, like an object set on the highest hill, made so conspicuous that all nations are attracted to it.

flow—as a broad stream (Isa 66:12).

And; or, now, as this particle is rendered, 1 Samuel 9:1 Ezra 1:1, &c.

In the last days; in the times of the Messias or the gospel, as the generality both of Jewish and Christian writers understand it, and as may further appear both from the use of this phrase in this sense, Jeremiah 48:47 49:39 Ezekiel 38:8,16 Da 10:14 Hosea 3:5 Acts 2:17 Hebrews 1:2 1Jo 2:18, and from the conversion of the Gentiles here promised, which was not to be till that time; and from the nature of the thing, for this really was the last time and state of the church in the world; the Jewish pedagogy was to be abolished, but Christ’s institutions were to continue to the end of the world.

The mountain of the Lord’s house; the temple of the Lord which is upon Mount Moriah; which yet is not to be understood literally of that material temple, but mystically of the church of God, as appears from the next following words, which will not admit of a literal interpretation; and from the flowing of all nations to it, which was not to that temple, nor indeed was fulfilled till that temple was destroyed; and from the frequent use of this metaphor, the temple, or the house of the Lord, concerning the Christian church, both in the Old and the New Testament. Shall be exalted above the hills; shall be placed and settled in a most conspicuous and glorious manner, being advanced above all other churches and kingdoms in the world. All nations, those Gentiles, whom you now despise, and judge to be abhorred and quite forsaken by God, shall flow unto it, shall come in great abundance, and with great eagerness, like a river, as the word signifies.

And it shall come to pass in the last days,.... The days of the Messiah, as Aben Ezra rightly interprets it; and it is a rule laid down by Kimchi and Ben Melech, that wherever the last days are mentioned, the days of the Messiah are intended. The days of the Messiah commenced in the latter part of the Old Testament dispensation, or Jewish world, towards the close of their civil and church state, at the end of which he was to come, Habakkuk 2:3 and accordingly did, which is called the end of the world, and the last days; that is, of that state, Hebrews 1:2 and ushered in the world to come, or Gospel dispensation, which is properly the days of the Messiah, reaching from his first to his second coming; the first of which were the times of John the Baptist, Christ and his apostles; the latter days of that dispensation take in the rise and reign of antichrist, 1 Timothy 4:1 the last days of it are those which bring in the perilous times, the spiritual reign of Christ, and the destruction of antichrist, and which will precede the personal coming of Christ, 2 Timothy 3:1 and these are the days here referred to.

That the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains; by "the mountain" of the Lord's house is meant, not Mount Moriah, on which the temple was built, as Kimchi interprets it; nor the temple itself, as the Targum; though in the last days of it, and at the first coming of the Messiah, that had a greater glory than ever it had before, through the personal presence of Christ in it; through the effusion of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles there, on the day of Pentecost; and through the Gospel being first preached here by Christ and his apostles, from whence it went forth into all the world, as is afterwards predicted it should; but the kingdom of Christ, which is his church, is here designed; called "the Lord's house", because of his building, and where he dwells, and which he will at this time beautify and glorify; the materials of it are lively stones, or true believers; laid on Christ the foundation, into which there is no right entrance but through faith in him, who is the door, and where is plenty of provisions; the pillars and beams of it are the ministers of the Gospel, and its windows are the ordinances: here Christ is as a Son over his own house; he is the Master of it, the High Priest and Prophet in it; and his servants are the stewards of it, to give to everyone their portion; and happy are they that have a name and a place in it: and it is called "the mountain", in allusion to Mount Zion, on which the temple stood; because of its immovableness, being secured in the everlasting and electing love of God, and in the unalterable covenant of grace, founded on the Rock Christ, and guarded by the mighty power of God. This is "established in the top of the mountains"; in Christ, who is higher than the kings of the earth, signified by mountains, Revelation 17:9 who is the Head of all principality and power; not in their first head, or in themselves, is the establishment of the saints, but in Christ, 2 Corinthians 1:21 he is the stability of their persons, of their grace, and of their life, spiritual and eternal. Here it seems to denote the superiority of the kingdom and interest of Christ to all civil and religious states; the settlement and security of it; its standing above them, and continuance when they shall be no more, even all antichristian states, both Papal, Pagan, and Mahometan, Revelation 16:19.

and shall be exalted above the hills; Mount Zion is above Mount Sinai, or the Gospel dispensation is preferable to the legal one. It is an observation of Jarchi, that it shall be exalted by a greater sign or miracle that shall be done in it than was done in Sinai, Carmel, and Tabor; the law was given on Sinai, and many wonders wrought; but on Zion the Messiah himself appeared, and his Gospel was published, and miracles wrought by him. And in the latter day, when Christ, and he alone, shall be exalted, as he will at the time this prophecy refers to, Isaiah 2:11 the church will be exalted; the glory of the Lord will be risen upon her; the interest of Christ will exceed all other interests; his religion will be the prevailing one; the kingdoms of this world will become his; and his dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the rivers to the end of the earth. This may also denote the visibility of the kingdom and church of Christ; it will be as a city on a hill; and however obscure the church is now, being in the wilderness, it will at this time be visible to all:

and all nations shall flow unto it; that is, many out of all nations shall be converted, and come freely and willingly to join themselves to the church of Christ; they shall come in great numbers, in company together, and that continually, like flowing streams; they shall first flow to the Lord, and to his goodness, and then to his church and ordinances; see Isaiah 60:4.

And it {a} shall come to pass in the last days, that the mount of the LORD'S house {b} shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall {c} flow to it.

(a) The decree and ordinance of God, concerning the restoration of the Church, which is chiefly meant by the time of Christ.

(b) In an evident place to be seen and discerned.

(c) When the kingdom of Christ will be enlarged by the preaching of the doctrine. Here also is declared the zeal of the children of God when they are called.

2. And it shall come to pass] This formula (so common in continuous discourse) nowhere else introduces a prophetic oration (Ezekiel 38:10 is not really an exception), and shews that the passage has been detached from its original context. in the last days] Better, in the after-days (Cheyne) or “latter days” (R.V.), lit. “in the sequel of the days.” The phrase in itself denotes simply the (remote) future, and is so used in Genesis 49:1; Numbers 24:14; Deuteronomy 4:30; Deuteronomy 31:29. An exact Assyrian parallel to this use (akhrat yumi) is given by Cheyne and Delitzsch. By the prophets the expression is often specialised in an eschatological sense, as in Hosea 3:5; Ezekiel 38:16 (cf. Isaiah 2:8), and probably Jeremiah 48:47; Jeremiah 49:39, where it means (as here) the final age of the world’s history following the establishment of the kingdom of God. In Jeremiah 23:20; Jeremiah 30:24, however, the vaguer sense is more probable.

the mountain of the Lord’s house] the Temple mount, which is also the seat of the Messiah’s government. The phrase occurs in the parallel passage in Micah, also in Micah 3:12 (“mount of the house”); 1Ma 16:20 (“mount of the temple”). In the next verse it is resolved into the two members of a parallelism: “mountain of Jehovah” and “house of the God of Jacob.” established in the top of …] Better as R.V. at the head of … (cf. 1 Samuel 9:22; Amos 6:7); although the translation “as the chief of the mountains” would also be admissible (Davidson, Synt. § 101 R, 1 a.). A miraculous physical elevation of Zion may possibly be thought of (Ezekiel 40:2; Zechariah 14:10); but the idea (seriously entertained by some) that Zion is to be literally set on the top of the other hills is too grotesque to be attributed to any prophet, save under compulsion. In this passage a metaphorical exaltation, in respect of political and religious importance, seems to satisfy all the requirements both of syntax and exegesis (cf. Psalm 68:15 f.).

all (the) nations shall flow] Properly “shall stream,” a verb only used figuratively of the movement of masses of men to great centres of intercourse like Babylon (Jeremiah 31:12; Jeremiah 51:44). Instead of “all the nations” Micah has (in harmony with Isaiah 2:3 f.) simply “peoples,” which probably preserves the original text. The universality of the true religion is in either case implied; and the bare suggestion is perhaps more effective than an explicit assertion would be.

Verses 2-4. - PROPHECY OF THE LAST DAYS. The resemblance of this prophecy to Micah 4:1-3 is so close as to necessitate the conclusion either that one of the two prophets copied from the other, or that both copied from an earlier document. The latter view, which is that taken by Rosenmüller, Maurer, De Wette, Meier, and Mr. Cheyne, seems preferable. Verse 2. - In the last days; literally, in the sequel of the days; but generally used of a remote future (Genesis 49:1; Numbers 24:14; Deuteronomy 4:30, etc.). The mountain of the Lord's house; i.e. the Church, the true Zion, which is to be the antitype of the existing Zion, and is therefore given its material attributes. Spiritually, it would be a "mountain," as "a city set on a hill," which "could not be hid" (Matthew 5:14); and again, as occupying a position from which it would command the whole earth. In the top of the mountains; rather, at the head of the mountains; i.e. with pre-eminence over them. The metaphor is drawn from the common physical fact of a high mountain range culminating in a single supreme eminence. So Mount Hermon towers above the rest of the Antilibanus, Demavend over Elburz, Rowandiz over Zagros. The "mountains" above which the true Zion shall tower are the kingdoms, or perhaps the religions, of the earth. All nations; literally, all the nations; i.e. "all the nations of the earth" (comp. Psalm 72:11). Shall flow; or, stream. A constant accession of converts from all quarters is intended. These are represented as continually streaming upward into the holy mountain of God's house. Isaiah 2:2The subject of the borrowed prophecy is Israel's future glory: "And it cometh to pass at the end of the days, the mountain of the house of Jehovah will be set at the top of the mountains, and exalted over hills; and all nations pour unto it." The expression "the last days" (acharith hayyamim, "the end of the days"), which does not occur anywhere else in Isaiah, is always used in an eschatological sense. It never refers to the course of history immediately following the time being, but invariably indicates the furthest point in the history of this life - the point which lies on the outermost limits of the speaker's horizon. This horizon was a very fluctuating one. The history of prophecy is just the history of its gradual extension, and of the filling up of the intermediate space. In Jacob's blessing (Genesis 49) the conquest of the land stood in the foreground of the acharith or last days, and the perspective was regulated accordingly. But here in Isaiah the acharith contained no such mixing together of events belonging to the more immediate and the most distant future. It was therefore the last time in its most literal and purest sense, commencing with the beginning of the New Testament aeon, and terminating at its close (compare Hebrews 1:1; 1 Peter 1:20, with 1 Corinthians 15 and the Revelation). The prophet here predicted that the mountain which bore the temple of Jehovah, and therefore was already in dignity the most exalted of all mountains, would. one day tower in actual height above all the high places of the earth. The basaltic mountains of Bashan, which rose up in bold peaks and columns, might now look down with scorn and contempt upon the small limestone hill which Jehovah had chosen (Psalm 68:16-17); but this was an incongruity which the last times would remove, by making the outward correspond to the inward, the appearance to the reality and the intrinsic worth. That this is the prophet's meaning is confirmed by Ezekiel 40:2, where the temple mountain looks gigantic to the prophet, and also by Zechariah 14:10, where all Jerusalem is described as towering above the country round about, which would one day become a plain. The question how this can possibly take place in time, since it presupposes a complete subversion of the whole of the existing order of the earth's surface, is easily answered. The prophet saw the new Jerusalem of the last days on this side, and the new Jerusalem of the new earth on the other (Revelation 21:10), blended as it were together, and did not distinguish the one from the other. But whilst we thus avoid all unwarrantable spiritualizing, it still remains a question what meaning the prophet attached to the word b'rosh ("at the top"). Did he mean that Moriah would one day stand upon the top of the mountains that surrounded it (as in Psalm 72:16), or that it would stand at their head (as in 1 Kings 21:9, 1 Kings 21:12; Amos 6:7; Jeremiah 31:7)? The former is Hofmann's view, as given in his Weissagung und Erfllung, ii.:217: "he did not indeed mean that the mountains would be piled up one upon the other, and the temple mountain upon the top, but that the temple mountain would appear to float upon the summit of the others." But as the expression "will be set" (nacon) does not favour this apparently romantic exaltation, and b'rosh occurs more frequently in the sense of "at the head" than in that of "on the top," I decide for my own part in favour of the second view, though I agree so far with Hofmann, that it is not merely an exaltation of the temple mountain in the estimation of the nations that is predicted, but a physical and external elevation also. And when thus outwardly exalted, the divinely chosen mountain would become the rendezvous and centre of unity for all nations. They would all "flow unto it" (nâhar, a denom. verb, from nâhâr, a river, as in Jeremiah 51:44; Jeremiah 31:12). It is the temple of Jehovah which, being thus rendered visible to nations afar off, exerts such magnetic attraction, and with such success. Just as at a former period men had been separated and estranged from one another in the plain of Shinar, and thus different nations had first arisen; so would the nations at a future period assemble together on the mountain of the house of Jehovah, and there, as members of one family, live together in amity again. And as Babel (confusion, as its name signifies) was the place whence the stream of nations poured into all the world; so would Jerusalem (the city of peace) become the place into which the stream of nations would empty itself, and where all would be reunited once more. At the present time there was only one people, viz., Israel, which made pilgrimages to Zion on the great festivals, but it would be very different then.
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