Isaiah 2:21
To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) To go into the clefts of the rocks . . .—Comp. for the phrase, Exodus 33:22. The picture of Isaiah 2:19 is reproduced, with some noticeable variations. As men feel shock after shock of the earthquake, and see the flashing fires, and hear the crash of the thunder, they leave the larger caverns in which they had at first sought shelter, and where they have left the idols that were once so precious, and fly to the smaller and higher openings, the “clefts of the rocks,” and the rents of the crags, in their unspeakable panic.

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.To go - That is, that he may go.

Clefts of the rocks - see the note at Isaiah 2:19.

Into the tops ... - The tops of such rocks were not easily accessible, and were, therefore, deemed places of safety. We may remark here, how vain were the refuges to which they would resort - as if they were safe from "God," when they had fled to the places in which they sought safety from "man." The image here is, however, one that is very sublime. The earth shaking; the consternation and alarm of the people; their renouncing confidence in all to which they had trusted; their rapid flight; and their appearing on the high projecting cliffs, are all sublime and terrible images. They denote the severity of God's justice, and the image is a faint representation of the consternation of people when Christ shall come to judge the earth; Revelation 6:15-17.

20. moles—Others translate "mice." The sense is, under ground, in darkness.

bats—unclean birds (Le 11:19), living amidst tenantless ruins (Re 11:13).

No text from Poole on this verse.

To go into the clifts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks,.... That is, the idolaters shall either go there themselves; or they shall cause their idols to go there, thither they shall cast them; though the former sense seems the best, because of what follows,

for fear of the Lord, &c. See Gill on Isaiah 2:10, Isaiah 2:19.

To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. See on Isaiah 2:10; Isaiah 2:19. Translate: to enter into the hollows of the rocks and clefts of the crags, &c.

Verse 21. - To go into; or, as they go into; i.e. "as they make their escape, they shall fling the idols away." The clefts of the rocks (comp. Exodus 33:22, the only other passage of Scripture where the word occurs). The tops of the ragged rocks; rather, the rents, or crevices. The idea of hiding themselves from the awful majesty of God is kept up throughout (cf. vers. 10 and 19; and see also Luke 23:30). Isaiah 2:21"To creep into the cavities of the stone-blocks, and into the clefts of the rocks, before the terrible look of Jehovah, and before the glory of His majesty, when He arises to put the earth in terror." Thus ends the fourth strophe of this "dies irae, dies illa," which is appended to the earlier prophetic word. But there follows, as an epiphonem, this nota bene in Isaiah 2:22 : Oh, then, let man go, in whose nose is a breath; for what is he estimated at? The Septuagint leaves this v. out altogether. But was it so utterly unintelligible then? Jerome adopted a false pointing, and has therefore given this marvellous rendering: excelsus (bâmâh!) reputatus est ipse, by which Luther was apparently misled. But if we look backwards and forwards, it is impossible to mistake the meaning of the verse, which must be regarded not only as the resultant of what precedes it, but also as the transition to what follows. It is preceded by the prediction of the utter demolition of everything which ministers to the pride and vain confidence of men; and in Isaiah 3:1. the same prediction is resumed, with a more special reference to the Jewish state, from which Jehovah is about to take away every prop, so that it shall utterly collapse. Accordingly the prophet exhorts, in Isaiah 2:22, to a renunciation of trust in man, and everything belonging to him, just as in Psalm 118:8-9; Psalm 146:3, and Jeremiah 17:5. The construction is as general as that of a gnome. The dat. Commodi לכם (Ges. 154, 3, e) renders the exhortation both friendly and urgent: from regard to yourselves, for your own good, for your own salvation, desist from man, i.e., from your confidence in him, in whose nose (in cujus naso, the singular, as in Job 27:3; whereas the plural is used in Genesis 2:7 in the same sense, in nares ejus, "into his nostrils") is a breath, a breath of life, which God gave to him, and can take back as soon as He will (Job 34:14; Psalm 104:29). Upon the breath, which passes out and in through his nose, his whole earthly existence is suspended; and this, when once lost, is gone for ever (Job 7:7). It is upon this breath, therefore, that all the confidence placed in man must rest - a bad soil and foundation! Under these conditions, and with this liability to perish in a moment, the worth of man as a ground of confidence is really nothing. This thought is expressed here in the form of a question: At (for) what is he estimated, or to be estimated? The passive participle nechshâb combines with the idea of the actual (aestimatus) that of the necessary (aestimandus), and also of the possible or suitable (aestimabilis); and that all the more because the Semitic languages have no special forms for the latter notions. The Beth is Beth pretı̄, corresponding to the Latin genitive (quanti) or ablative (quanto) - a modification of the Beth instrumenti, the price being regarded as the medium of exchange or purchase: "at what is he estimated," not with what is he compared, which would be expressed by ‛eth (Isaiah 53:12; compare μετά, Luke 22:37) or ‛im (Psalm 88:5). The word is בּמּה, not בּמּה, because this looser form is only found in cases where a relative clause follows (eo quod, Ecclesiastes 3:22), and not bama equals h, because this termination with ā is used exclusively where the next word begins with Aleph, or where it is a pausal word (as in 1 Kings 22:21); in every other case we have bammeh. The question introduced with this quanto (quanti), "at what," cannot be answered by any positive definition of value. The worth of man, regarded in himself, and altogether apart from God, is really nothing.

The proclamation of judgment pauses at this porisma, but only for the purpose of gathering fresh strength. The prophet has foretold in four strophes the judgment of God upon every exalted thing in the kosmos that has fallen away from communion with God, just as Amos commences his book with a round of judgments, which are uttered in seven strophes of uniform scope, bursting like seven thunder-claps upon the nations of the existing stage of history. The seventh stroke falls upon Judah, over which the thunderstorm rests after finding such abundant booty. And in the same manner Isaiah, in the instance before us, reduces the universal proclamation of judgment to one more especially affecting Judah and Jerusalem. The current of the address breaks through the bounds of the strophe; and the exhortation in Isaiah 2:22 not to trust in man, the reason for which is assigned in what precedes, also forms a transition from the universal proclamation of judgment to the more special one in Isaiah 3:1, where the prophet assigns a fresh ground for the exhortation.

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