Isaiah 24:22
And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.
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(22) As prisoners are gathered in the pit . . .—The imagery is drawn from the deep underground dungeons of Eastern prisons (Jeremiah 38:6), which are here the symbol of the abyss of Hades, in which the rebel powers of earth and heaven await the final judgment (2Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6).

After many days shall they be visited.—The verb is the same as that translated “punish” in the previous verse, but does not in itself involve the idea of punishing, and in some of its forms is used of visiting in mercy. Interpreters have, according to their previous bias, assigned this or that meaning to it. Probably the prophet used it in a neutral sense, drawing his imagery from the custom of Eastern kings, who, after leaving their enemies in prison for an appointed time, came to inspect them, and to award punishment or pardon according to their deserts. In such a company there might be “prisoners of hope” (Zechariah 9:12), waiting with eager expectation for the coming of the king. The passage is interesting in the history of Christian doctrine, as having furnished to Origen and his followers an argument in favour of the ultimate restitution of all created spirits.

24:16-23 Believers may be driven into the uttermost parts of the earth; but they are singing, not sighing. Here is terror to sinners; the prophet laments the miseries he saw breaking in like a torrent; and the small number of believers. He foresees that sin would abound. The meaning is plain, that evil pursues sinners. Unsteady, uncertain are all these things. Worldly men think to dwell in the earth as in a palace, as in a castle; but it shall be removed like a cottage, like a lodge put up for the night. It shall fall and not rise again; but there shall be new heavens and a new earth, in which shall dwell nothing but righteousness. Sin is a burden to the whole creation; it is a heavy burden, under which it groans now, and will sink at last. The high ones, that are puffed up with their grandeur, that think themselves out of the reach of danger, God will visit for their pride and cruelty. Let us judge nothing before the time, though some shall be visited. None in this world should be secure, though their condition be ever so prosperous; nor need any despair, though their condition be ever so deplorable. God will be glorified in all this. But the mystery of Providence is not yet finished. The ruin of the Redeemer's enemies must make way for his kingdom, and then the Sun of Righteousness will appear in full glory. Happy are those who take warning by the sentence against others; every impenitent sinner will sink under his transgression, and rise no more, while believers enjoy everlasting bliss.And they shall be gathered together - That is, those who occupy posts of honor and influence in the ecclesiastical and civil polity of the land. "As prisoners." Margin, as in the Hebrew, 'With the gathering of prisoners.' The reference is to the custom of collecting captives taken in war, and chaining them together by the hands and feet, and thrusting them in large companies into a prison.

In the pit - Margin, 'Dungeon.' The sense is, that he rulers of the land should be made captive, and treated as prisoners of war. This was undoubtedly true in the captivity under Nebuchadnezzar. The people were assembled; were regarded as captives; and were conveyed together to a distant land.

And shall be shut up in the prison - Probably this is not intended to be taken literally, but to denote that they would be as secure as if they were shut up in prison. Their prison-house would be Babylon, where they were enclosed as in a prison seventy years.

And after many days - If this refers, as I have supposed, to the captivity at Babylon, then these 'many days' refer to the period of seventy years.

Shall they be visited - Margin, 'Found wanting.' The word used here (פקד pâqad) may be used either in a good or bad sense, either to visit for the purpose of reviewing, numbering, or aiding; or to visit for the purpose of punishing. It is probably, in the Scriptures, most frequently used in the latter sense (see 1 Samuel 15:2; Job 31:14; Job 35:15; Psalm 89:33; Isaiah 26:14; Jeremiah 9:24). But it is often used in the sense of taking account of, reviewing, or mustering as a military host (see Numbers 1:44; Numbers 3:39; 1 Kings 20:15; Isaiah 13:4). In this place it may be taken in either of these senses, as may be best supposed to suit the connection. To me it seems that the connection seems to require the idea of a visitation for the purpose of relief or of deliverance; and to refer to the fact that at the end of that time there would be a reviewing, a mustering, an enrollment of those who should have been carried away to their distant prison-house, to ascertain how many remained, and to marshal them for their return to the land of their fathers (see the books of Ezra and Nehemiah). The word here used has sometimes the sense expressed in the margin, 'found wanting' (compare 1 Samuel 20:6; 1 Samuel 25:15; Isaiah 38:10); but such a sense does not suit the connection here. I regard the verse as an indication of future mercy and deliverance. They would be thrown into prison, and treated as captives of war; but after a long time they would be visited by the Great Deliverer of their nation, their covenant-keeping God, and reconducted to the land of their fathers.

22. in the pit—rather, "for the pit" [Horsley]. "In the dungeon" [Maurer]. Image from captives thrust together into a dungeon.

prison—that is, as in a prison. This sheds light on the disputed passage, 1Pe 3:19, where also the prison is figurative: The "shutting up" of the Jews in Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar, and again under Titus, was to be followed by a visitation of mercy "after many days"—seventy years in the case of the former—the time is not yet elapsed in the case of the latter. Horsley takes "visited" in a bad sense, namely, in wrath, as in Isa 26:14; compare Isa 29:6; the punishment being the heavier in the fact of the delay. Probably a double visitation is intended, deliverance to the elect, wrath to hardened unbelievers; as Isa 24:23 plainly contemplates judgments on proud sinners, symbolized by the "sun" and "moon."

They shall be gathered together, by God’s special providence, in order to their punishment, as the following words show. And thus the unbelieving Jews were generally gathered together at Jerusalem, to their solemn feast, when Titus came and besieged, and after some time took and destroyed them; which was a very remarkable hand of God, as Josephus and other historians observed. And I know nothing to the contrary but this very thing may be meant in this place, it being confessed that divers passages of this chapter concern the times of the Messiah.

Shall be shut up in the prison; as malefactors, which are taken in several places, are usually brought to one common prison, where they are reserved in order to their trial and punishment.

Shall they be visited; either,

1. In judgment, as visiting is oft used. So the sense is, After they have been punished with long imprisonment, and tormented with expectation and fear, they shall be brought forth to receive condign punishment. Or rather,

2. In mercy. And so the sense may be either,

1. After the Jews shall have suffered many and grievous things from the Assyrians, Chaldeans, Persians, and others, at last their Messiah and Deliverer shall come into the world, he. Or,

2. After the unbelieving and apostate Jews shall have been shut up in unbelief and in great tribulations for many ages together, they shall be convinced of their sin in crucifying their Messiah, and brought home to God and Christ by true repentance.

And they shall be gathered together,.... First to the battle of the great day of God Almighty at Armageddon, Revelation 16:14 and there being overcome and taken, they shall be gathered together

as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison; in the prison or the grave, and in hell; as captives are, till such time as something is determined and ordered what to be done with them:

and after many days shall they be visited; or punished, that is, after the thousand years are ended, when the wicked dead will be all raised; after the battle of Gog and Magog, when Satan, the beast, and false prophet, and all their adherents, shall be cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, Revelation 19:20.

And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be {o} visited.

(o) Not with his rods as in Isa 24:21 but will be comforted.

22. after many days shall they be visited] See Judges 6, “reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day” (cf. 2 Peter 2:4); and the following passages from the book of Enoch (ch. 18:14, 16). “This … place … serves as a prison for the stars of heaven and the host of heaven … And he was wroth with them and bound them unto the time when their guilt should be complete in the year of the secret.” (See also Enoch Isaiah 21:6.) It is true that the verb “visited” may bear a favourable sense, and many commentators prefer that sense here. But this is opposed both to the tenor of the passage and the analogy of eschatological representations.

Verse 22. - In the pit; literally, in a dungeon. Mr. Cheyne suggests that sheol, or "hell," is meant; but the context points to some narrower confinement. In the prison; rather, in prison (comp. 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6). After many days. In the Revelation (Revelation 20:2) Satan is bound "a thousand years;" i.e. an indefinite term. The imprisonment of the present passage is scarcely the same, but it is analogous. God's purposes require sometimes long periods of inaction. Shall they be visited; or, published. The word is the same as that translated "punish" in ver. 21. "Visiting" for good is scarcely to be thought of. Isaiah 24:22Isaiah 24:22 announces the preliminary punishment of both angelic and human princes: 'asēphâh stands in the place of a gerundive, like taltēlâh in Isaiah 22:17. The connection of the words 'asēphâh 'assir is exactly the same as that of taltēlâh gâbēr in Isaiah 22:17 : incarceration after the manner of incarcerating prisoners; 'âsaph, to gather together (Isaiah 10:14; Isaiah 33:4), signifies here to incarcerate, just as in Genesis 42:17. Both verbs are construed with ‛al, because the thrusting is from above downwards, into the pit and prison (‛al embraces both upon or over anything, and into it, e.g., 1 Samuel 31:4; Job 6:16; see Hitzig on Nahum 3:12). We may see from 2 Peter 2:4 and Jde 1:6 how this is to be understood. The reference is to the abyss of Hades, where they are reserved in chains of darkness unto the judgment of the great day. According to this parallel, yippâkedu (shall be visited) ought apparently to be understood as denoting a visitation in wrath (like Isaiah 29:6; Ezekiel 38:8; compare pâkad followed by an accusative in Isaiah 26:21, also Isaiah 26:14, and Psalm 59:6; niphkad, in fact, is never used to signify visitation in mercy), and therefore as referring to the infliction of the final punishment. Hitzig, however, understands it as relating to a visitation of mercy; and in this he is supported by Ewald, Knobel, and Luzzatto. Gesenius, Umbreit, and others, take it to indicate a citation or summons, though without any ground either in usage of speech or actual custom. A comparison of Isaiah 23:17 in its relation to Isaiah 23:15

(Note: Cf., Targ., Saad., "they will come into remembrance again.")

favours the second explanation, as being relatively the most correct; but the expression is intentionally left ambiguous. So far as the thing itself is concerned, we have a parallel in Revelation 20:1-3 and Revelation 20:7-9 : they are visited by being set free again, and commencing their old practice once more; but only (as Isaiah 24:23 affirms) to lose again directly, before the glorious and triumphant might of Jehovah, the power they have temporarily reacquired. What the apocalyptist of the New Testament describes in detail in Revelation 20:4, Revelation 20:11., and Revelation 21:1, the apocalyptist of the Old Testament sees here condensed into one fact, viz., the enthroning of Jehovah and His people in a new Jerusalem, at which the silvery white moon (lebânâh) turns red, and the glowing sun (chammâh) turns pale; the two great lights of heaven becoming (according to a Jewish expression) "like a lamp at noonday" in the presence of such glory. Of the many parallels to Isaiah 24:23 which we meet with in Isaiah, the most worthy of note are Isaiah 11:10 to the concluding clause, "and before His elders is glory" (also Isaiah 4:5), and Isaiah 1:26 (cf., Isaiah 3:14), with reference to the use of the word zekēnim (elders). Other parallels are Isaiah 30:26, for chammâh and lebânâh; Isaiah 1:29, for châphēr and bōsh; Isaiah 33:22, for mâlak; Isaiah 10:12, for "Mount Zion and Jerusalem." We have already spoken at Isaiah 1:16 of the word neged (Arab. Ne'gd, from nâgad, njd, to be exalted; vid., opp. Arab. gâr, to be pressed down, to sink), as applied to that which stands out prominently and clearly before one's eyes. According to Hofmann (Schriftbeweis, i.-320-1), the elders here, like the twenty-four presbuteroi of the Apocalypse, are the sacred spirits, forming the council of God, to which He makes known His will concerning the world, before it is executed by His attendant spirits the angels. But as we find counsellors promised to the Israel of the new Jerusalem in Isaiah 1:26, in contrast with the bad zekēnim (elders) which it then possessed (Isaiah 3:14), such as it had at the glorious commencement of its history; and as the passage before us says essentially the same with regard to the zekēnim as we find in Isaiah 4:5 with regard to the festal meetings of Israel (vid., Isaiah 30:20 and Isaiah 32:1); and still further, as Revelation 20:4 (cf., Matthew 19:28) is a more appropriate parallel to the passage before us than Revelation 4:4, we may assume with certainty, at least with regard to this passage, and without needing to come to any decision concerning Revelation 4:4, that the zekēnim here are not angels, but human elders after God's own heart. These elders, being admitted into the immediate presence of God, and reigning together with Him, have nothing but glory in front of them, and they themselves reflect that glory.

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