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 rises to shake terribly the earth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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.
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.
bats—unclean birds (Le 11:19), living amidst tenantless ruins (Re 11:13).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). 2 Chronicles 26, that he built strong towers above "the corner-gate, the valley-gate, and the southern point of the cheesemakers' hollow," and fortified these places, which had probably been till that time the weakest points in Jerusalem; also that he built towers in the desert (probably in the desert between Beersheba and Gaza, to increase the safety of the land, and the numerous flocks which were pastured in the shephelah, i.e., the western portion of southern Palestine). With regard to Jotham, it is related in both the book of Kings (2 Kings 15:32.) and the Chronicles, that he built the upper gate of the temple; and in the Chronicles (2 Chronicles 27:1-9) that he fortified the 'Ofel, i.e., the southern spur of the temple hill, still more strongly, and built cities on the mountains of Judah, and erected castles and towers in the forests (to watch for hostile attacks and ward them off). Hezekiah also distinguished himself by building enterprises of this kind (2 Chronicles 32:27-30). But the allusion to the ships of Tarshish takes us to the times of Uzziah and Jotham, and not to those of Hezekiah (as Psalm 48:7 does to the time of Jehoshaphat); for the seaport town of Elath, which was recovered by Uzziah, was lost again to the kingdom of Judah during the reign of Ahaz. Jewish ships sailed from this Elath (Ailath) through the Red Sea and round the coast of Africa to the harbour of Tartessus, the ancient Phoenician emporium of the maritime region watered by the Baetis (Guadalquivir), which abounded in silver, and then returned through the Pillars of Hercules (the Straits of Gibraltar: vid., Duncker, Gesch. i.-312-315). It was to these Tartessus vessels that the expression "ships of Tarshish" primarily referred, though it was afterwards probably applied to mercantile ships in general. The following expression, "works of curiosity" (sechiyyoth hachemdah), is taken in far too restricted a sense by those who limit it, as the lxx have done, to the ships already spoken of, or understand it, as Gesenius does, as referring to beautiful flags. Jerome's rendering is correct: "et super omne quod visu pulcrum est" (and upon everything beautiful to look at); seciyyâh, from sâcâh, to look, is sight generally. The reference therefore is to all kinds of works of art, whether in sculpture or paintings (mascith is used of both), which delighted the observer by their imposing, tasteful appearance. Possibly, however, there is a more especial reference to curiosities of art and nature, which were brought by the trading vessels from foreign lands.
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