Isaiah 25:11 Commentaries: And he will spread out his hands in the middle of it As a swimmer spreads out his hands to swim, But the Lord will lay low his pride together with the trickery of his hands.
Isaiah 25:11
And he shall spread forth his hands in the middle of them, as he that swims spreads forth his hands to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) As he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim.—The structure of the sentence leaves it uncertain whether the comparison applies (1) to Jehovah spreading forth His hands with the swimmer’s strength to repress the pride of Moab, or (2) to the outstretched hands upon the Cross, or (3) to Moab vainly struggling in the deep waters of calamity. Each view has the support of commentators. The last seems beyond question most in harmony with the context. Ineffective struggles for preservation naturally suggest the parallel, “like some strong swimmer in his agony” (Psalm 69:1-2; Psalm 69:14). In the second clause there is, of course, no reason for doubt. It is Jehovah who “brings down the pride” of the guilty nation.

Isaiah 25:11-12. And he — Either, 1st, Moab, who, being plunged into a sea of troubles, shall endeavour to swim out of it, but to no purpose; or, 2d, The Lord, (who is designed by this pronoun he, both in the latter clause of this verse, and in the following verse,) whose power they shall be no more able to resist than the waters can resist a man that swims, who, with great facility, divides them hither and thither. The former sense is adopted by Bishop Lowth, who says, “I cannot conceive that the stretching out the hands of a swimmer can be any illustration of the action of God stretching out his hands over Moab to destroy it.” The latter, however, is preferred by, most interpreters, as connecting best with the following clause. And they consider the comparison as implying, that God should extend his powerful hands on every side, to the utmost limits of Moab, to bring down his enemies, as a swimmer stretches out his hands to beat down with them the opposing waters. 25:9-12 With joy and praise will those entertain the glad tidings of the Redeemer, who looked for him; and with a triumphant song will glorified saints enter into the joy of their Lord. And it is not in vain to wait for him; for the mercy comes at last, with abundant recompence for the delay. The hands once stretched out upon the cross, to make way for our salvation, will at length be stretched forth to destroy all impenitent sinners. Moab is here put for all adversaries of God's people; they shall all be trodden down or threshed. God shall bring down the pride of the enemies by one humbling judgment after another. This destruction of Moab is typical of Christ's victory, and the pulling down of Satan's strong holds. Therefore, beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; for your labour is not in vain in the Lord.And he shall spread forth his hands - The sense is, that Yahweh would stretch out his hands everywhere, prostrating his enemies, and the enemies of his people. Lowth, however, applies this to Moab, and supposes that it is designed to represent the action of one who is in danger of sinking, and who, in swimming, stretches out his hands to sustain himself. In order to this, he supposes that there should be a slight alteration of a single letter in the Hebrew. His main reason for suggesting this change is, that he cannot conceive how the act of the stretch out of the hands of a swimmer can be any illustration of the action of God in extending his hands ever Moab to destroy it. It must be admitted that the figure is one that is very unusual. Indeed it does not anywhere else occur. But it is the obvious meaning of the Hebrew text; it is so understood in the Vulgate, the Chaldee, the Syriac, and the figure is one that is net unintelligible. It is that of a swimmer who extends his hands and arms as far as possible, and who by force removes all that is in his way in passing through the water. So Yahweh would extend his hands over all Moab. He would not confine the desolation to any one place, but it would be complete and entire. He would subject all to himself, as easily as a swimmer makes his way through the waters.

With the spoils of their hands - The word rendered here 'spoils' ( ארבות 'ârebôth), Lowth renders, 'The sudden gripe.' The Chaldee renders it substantially in the same manner, 'With the laying on of his hands,' that is, with all his might. Kimchi also understands it of the gripe of the hands or the arms. The Septuagint renders it, 'Upon whatsoever he lays his hands,' that is, God shall humble the pride of Moab in respect to everything on which he shall lay his hands. The word properly and usually signifies snares, ambushes, craft; and then, by a natural metonymy, the plunder or spoils which he had obtained by snares and ambushes - which seems to be the sense here. It would all perish with Moab, and the land would thus be completely subdued.

11. he—Jehovah shall spread His hands to strike the foe on this side and on that, with as little effort as a swimmer spreads forth his arms to cleave a passage through the water [Calvin]. (Zec 5:3). Lowth takes "he" as Moab, who, in danger of sinking, shall strain every nerve to save himself; but Jehovah (and "he") shall cause him to sink ("bring down the pride" of Moab, Isa 16:6).

with the spoils of … hands—literally, "the craftily acquired spoils" of his (Moab's) hands [Barnes]. Moab's pride, as well as the sudden gripe of his hands (namely, whereby he tries to save himself from drowning) [Lowth]. "Together with the joints of his hands," that is, though Moab struggle against Jehovah hand and foot [Maurer].

He; either,

1. Moab, who being plunged into a sea of troubles, shall endeavour to swim out of it, but to no purpose; or rather,

2. The Lord, who is designed by this very pronoun he, both in the latter clause of this verse, and in the following verse; whose power they shall be no more able to resist, than the waters can resist a man that swims, who with great facility divides them hither and thither.

Shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them; or, stretch forth his hands to the utmost, to smite and destroy them.

As he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands, which he doth to the uttermost.

With the spoils of their hands; with all that wealth which they have gained by rapine, and spoiling of God’s people, and others. But the words are otherwise rendered by others, with or by (as this Hebrew particle is used, Esther 9:25) the arms of his hands; which he may mention, because the strength of a man, and of his hands, consisteth in his arms; whence also the arm in Scripture is oft put for strength: or, by the motion or stroke of his hands, as all the ancient translators do in effect render it. And this seems to agree best with the metaphor here borrowed from one that swimmeth, which is performed in that manner. And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them,.... In the midst of Moab, in the midst of the enemies of the church of God; and so it denotes the utter destruction of them; for the spreading forth of the hands is to be understood of the Lord, that should do so:

as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim; signifying, that as he should exert the power of his might, in the midst of them, he should strike on both sides, as a swimmer does; and as easily and utterly destroy them as the swimmer parts the waters, and has the command of them; though some interpret this of Moab stretching out his hands as the swimmer, either in a way of submission and supplication, or as catching, as men drowning do, at anything, to save them. But the former sense agrees best with what follows:

and he shall bring down their pride; that is, God shall bring down the pride of Moab, which was notorious in them, and hateful to God, and was the cause of their ruin, Isaiah 16:6 with this compare the pride of the Romish antichrist, which God will humble, Revelation 17:7,

together with the spoils of their hands; which their hands are full of; and which they have spoiled or robbed others of; or, "with the wiles of their hands" (o), as some, which they had by craft and insidious methods taken from others; these shall be taken from them, and they be stripped of them; or the words may, be rendered, "with the elbows", or "armholes of his hands" (p); as the swimmer with his arms keeps the water under him, and himself above it, so the Lord with the strength of his arm would bring down and destroy those enemies of his.

(o) "insidiis, vel cum insidiis manuum suarum", Montanus, Piscator. (p) "Cum cubitis, vel axillis manuum suarum", Pagninus, Tigurine version; and Ben Melech, who mentions both senses.

And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. The figure of Moab trying to swim in the dung-pit is sufficiently graphic, if somewhat repulsive.

in the midst of them] should be (as in R.V.) in the midst thereof, i.e. of the dung-pit, although there is an enallage generis.

and he (Jehovah) shall bring down his pride] See on ch. Isaiah 16:6.

together with the spoils of their hands] Perhaps: in spite of the wiles of his hands. The expression is strange.Verse 11. - He shall spread forth his hands... as he that swimmeth. Moab will endeavor to save himself from sinking in the water of the dung-pit; but in vain. God will bring down his pride, or abase his haughtiness, together with all the plots and snares that he contrives. A continued plotting of the enemies of God against his Church seems to be assumed, even after the Church is established in the spiritual Zion under the direct protection and rule of Jehovah. The first echo is Isaiah 25:1-8, or more precisely Isaiah 25:1-5. The prophet, whom we already know as a psalmist from Isaiah 12:1-6, now acts as choral leader of the church of the future, and praises Jehovah for having destroyed the mighty imperial city, and proved Himself a defence and shield against its tyranny towards His oppressed church. "Jehovah, Thou art my God; I will exalt Thee, I will praise Thy name, that Thou hast wrought wonders, counsels from afar, sincerity, truth. For Thou hast turned it from a city into a heap of stones, the steep castle into a ruin; the palace of the barbarians from being a city, to be rebuilt no more for ever. Therefore a wild people will honour Thee, cities of violent nations fear Thee. For Thou provedst Thyself a stronghold to the lowly, a stronghold to the poor in his distress, as a shelter from the storm of rain, as a shadow from the burning of the sun; for the blast of violent ones was like a storm of rain against a wall. Like the burning of the sun in a parched land, Thou subduest the noise of the barbarians; (like) the burning of the sun through the shadow of a cloud, the triumphal song of violent ones was brought low." The introductory clause is to be understood as in Psalm 118:28 : Jehovah (voc.), my God art Thou. "Thou hast wrought wonders:" this is taken from Exodus 15:11 (as in Psalm 77:15; Psalm 78:12; like Isaiah 12:2, from Exodus 15:2). The wonders which are now actually wrought are "counsels from afar" (mērâcōk), counsels already adopted afar off, i.e., long before, thoughts of God belonging to the olden time; the same ideal view as in Isaiah 22:11; Isaiah 37:26 (a parallel which coincides with our passage on every side), and, in fact, throughout the whole of the second part. It is the manifold "counsel" of the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 5:19; Isaiah 14:24-27; Isaiah 19:12, Isaiah 19:17; Isaiah 23:8; Isaiah 28:29) which displays its wonders in the events of time. To the verb עשׂית we have also a second and third object, viz., אמן אמוּנה. It is a common custom with Isaiah to place derivatives of the same word side by side, for the purpose of giving the greatest possible emphasis to the idea (Isaiah 3:1; Isaiah 16:6). אמוּנה indicates a quality, אמן in actual fact. What He has executed is the realization of His faithfulness, and the reality of His promises. The imperial city is destroyed. Jehovah, as the first clause which is defined by tzakeph affirms, has removed it away from the nature of a city into the condition of a heap of stones. The sentence has its object within itself, and merely gives prominence to the change that has been effected; the Lamed is used in the same sense as in Isaiah 23:13 (cf., Isaiah 37:26); the min, as in Isaiah 7:8; Isaiah 17:1; Isaiah 23:1; Isaiah 24:10. Mappēlâh, with kametz or tzere before the tone, is a word that can only be accredited from the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 17:1; Isaiah 23:13). עיר, קריה, and אמרון are common parallel words in Isaiah (Isaiah 1:26; Isaiah 22:2; Isaiah 32:13-14); and zârim, as in Isaiah 1:7 and Isaiah 29:5, is the most general epithet for the enemies of the people of God. The fall of the imperial kingdom is followed by the conversion of the heathen; the songs proceed from the mouths of the remotest nations. Isaiah 25:3 runs parallel with Revelation 15:3-4. Nations hitherto rude and passionate now submit to Jehovah with decorous reverence, and those that were previously oppressive (‛arı̄tzim, as in Isaiah 13:11, in form like pârı̄tzim, shâlı̄shı̄m) with humble fear. The cause of this conversion of the heathen is the one thus briefly indicated in the Apocalypse, "for thy judgments are made manifest" (Revelation 15:4). דּל and אביון (cf., Isaiah 14:30; Isaiah 29:19) are names well known from the Psalms, as applying to the church when oppressed. To this church, in the distress which she had endured (לו בּצּר, as in Isaiah 26:16; Isaiah 63:9, cf., Isaiah 33:2), Jehovah had proved Himself a strong castle (mâ'ōz; on the expression, compare Isaiah 30:3), a shelter from storm and a shade from heat (for the figures, compare Isaiah 4:6; Isaiah 32:2; Isaiah 16:3), so that the blast of the tyrants (compare ruach on Isaiah 30:28; Isaiah 33:11, Psalm 76:13) was like a wall-storm, i.e., a storm striking against a wall (compare Isaiah 9:3, a shoulder-stick, i.e., a stick which strikes the shoulder), sounding against it and bursting upon it without being able to wash it away (Isaiah 28:17; Psalm 62:4), because it was the wall of a strong castle, and this strong castle was Jehovah Himself. As Jehovah can suddenly subdue the heat of the sun in dryness (tzâyōn, abstract for concrete, as in Isaiah 32:2, equivalent to dry land, Isaiah 41:18), and it must give way when He brings up a shady thicket (Jeremiah 4:29), namely of clouds (Exodus 19:9; Psalm 18:12), so did He suddenly subdue the thundering (shâ'on, as in Isaiah 17:12) of the hordes that stormed against His people; and the song of triumph (zâmı̄r, only met with again in Sol 2:12) of the tyrants, which passed over the world like a scorching heat, was soon "brought low" (‛ânâh, in its neuter radical signification "to bend," related to כּנע, as in Isaiah 31:4).
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