Isaiah 27:10
Yet the defended city shall be desolate, and the habitation forsaken, and left like a wilderness: there shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down, and consume the branches thereof.
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(10) The defenced city shall be desolate . . .—The key to this prediction is found in Isaiah 25:2, where the same words occur. The “defenced city” is that of the strangers, who are the enemies of God’s people, and its destruction is contrasted with the restoration of the purified Jerusalem of the preceding verse. To see in the “defenced city” which is to be laid low Jerusalem itself is at variance with the natural sequence of thought. The picture of desolation—calves feeding in what had been the busy streets of a populous city—is analogous to that of the “wild beasts of the desert,” roaring among the ruins of Babylon, in Isaiah 13:21-22.

Isaiah 27:10-11. Yet, &c. — Before this glorious promise, concerning the removal of Israel’s sin and calamity, shall be fulfilled, a dreadful and desolating judgment shall come upon them. The defenced city shall be desolate — Jerusalem, and the rest of the defenced cities of the land, the singular number being put for the plural; and the habitation forsaken — The most inhabited and populous parts of the country; or, as נוהproperly signifies, their pleasant habitation, whether in the city or country; left like a wilderness — Which was the case in the time of the Babylonish captivity. There shall the calf feed — The calf is put for all sorts of cattle, which, it is foretold, should securely feed there, because there should be no man left to disturb or annoy them; and consume the branches thereof — Of their pleasant habitation; of the young trees that grow up in that desolated country. When the boughs thereof are withered — As they will be when they are thus gnawed and cropped by cattle; they shall be broken off — That there may be no hopes of their recovery. The women come, &c. —

He mentions women, because the men would be destroyed. For it is a people of no understanding — They neither know me, nor themselves; neither my word, nor my works: they know not the things which concern their peace, but blindly and wilfully go on in sin. Therefore he that made them — Both as they are creatures, and as they are his people; for this also is expressed by making, or forming; will not have mercy on them — So as to save them from this dreadful calamity and ruin, which they bring on themselves. Thus he overthrows their false and presumptuous conceit, that God would never destroy the work of his own hands, nor the seed of Abraham his friend.27:6-13 In the days of the gospel, the latter days, the gospel church shall be more firmly fixed than the Jewish church, and shall spread further. May our souls be continually watered and kept, that we may abound in the fruits of the Spirit, in all goodness, righteousness, and truth. The Jews yet are kept a separate and a numerous people; they have not been rooted out as those who slew them. The condition of that nation, through so many ages, forms a certain proof of the Divine origin of the Scriptures; and the Jews live amongst us, a continued warning against sin. But though winds are ever so rough, ever so high, God can say to them, Peace, be still. And though God will afflict his people, yet he will make their afflictions to work for the good of their souls. According to this promise, since the captivity in Babylon, no people have shown such hatred to idols and idolatry as the Jews. And to all God's people, the design of affliction is to part between them and sin. The affliction has done us good, when we keep at a distance from the occasions of sin, and use care that we may not be tempted to it. Jerusalem had been defended by grace and the Divine protection; but when God withdrew, she was left like a wilderness. This has awfully come to pass. And this is a figure of the deplorable state of the vineyard, the church, when it brought forth wild grapes. Sinners flatter themselves they shall not be dealt with severely, because God is merciful, and is their Maker. We see how weak those pleas will be. Verses 12,13, seem to predict the restoration of the Jews after the Babylonish captivity, and their recovery from their present dispersion. This is further applicable to the preaching of the gospel, by which sinners are gathered into the grace of God; the gospel proclaims the acceptable year of the Lord. Those gathered by the sounding of the gospel trumpet, are brought in to worship God, and added to the church; and the last trumpet will gather the saints together.Yet the defensed city - Gesenius supposes that this means Jerusalem. So Calvin and Piscator understand it. Others understand it of Samaria, others of Babylon (as Vitringa, Rosenmuller, and Grotius), and others of cities in general, denoting those in Judea, or in other places. To me it seems plain that Babylon is referred to. The whole description seems to require this; and especially the fact that this song is supposed to be sung after the return from captivity to celebrate their deliverance. It is natural, therefore, that they should record the fact that the strong and mighty city where they had been so long in captivity, was now completely destroyed. For the meaning of thee phrase 'defensed city,' see the note at Isaiah 25:2.

Shall be desolate - (see Isaiah 25:2; compare the notes at Isaiah 13)

The habitation forsaken - The habitation here referred to is Babylon. It means the habitation or dwelling-place where "we" have so long dwelt as captives (compare Proverbs 3:33; Proverbs 21:20; Proverbs 24:15).

And left like a wilderness - See the description of Babylon in the notes at Isaiah 13:20-22.

There shall the calf feed - It shall become a vast desert, and be a place for beasts of the forest to range in (compare Isaiah 7:23; see the note at Isaiah 5:17).

And consume the branches thereof - The branches of the trees and shrubs that shall spring up spontaneously in the vast waste where Babylon was.

10. city—Jerusalem; the beating asunder of whose altars and images was mentioned in Isa 27:9 (compare Isa 24:10-12).

calf feed—(Isa 17:2); it shall be a vast wild pasture.

branches—resuming the image of the vine (Isa 27:2,6).

Yet; yet before this glorious promise concerning the removal of Israel’s sin and calamity be fulfilled, a dreadful and desolating judgment shall first come upon them.

The defenced city; Jerusalem, and the rest of the defenced cities in the land, the singular number being put for the plural.

The habitation; the most inhabited and populous places. Or, as the Hebrew word properly signifies, their pleasant habitations, whether in the city or country.

Forsaken and left like a wilderness; which was fulfilled in the time of the Babylonish captivity.

The calf; which is synecdochically put for all sorts of cattle, which may securely feed there, because there shall be no men left to disturb or annoy them.

The branches thereof; of their pleasant habitation; of the young trees which shall grow up in that ruinated country. Yet the defenced city shall be desolate,.... Or "but", or "notwithstanding" (b); though the Lord deals mercifully with his own people, and mixes mercy with their afflictions, and causes them to issue well, and for their good; yet he does not deal so with others, his and their enemies: for by the "defenced city" is not meant Jerusalem, as many interpret it, so Kimchi; nor Samaria, as Aben Ezra; nor literal Babylon, as others; but mystical Babylon, the city of Rome, and the whole Roman or antichristian jurisdiction, called the "great" and "mighty" city, Revelation 18:10 which will be destroyed, become desolate, or "alone" (c), without inhabitants:

and the habitation forsaken and left like a wilderness; or "habitations"; the singular for the plural; even beautiful ones, as the word (d) signifies, the stately palaces of the pope and cardinals, and other princes and great men, which, upon the destruction of Rome, will be deserted, and become as a wilderness, uninhabited by men:

there shall the calf feed: not Ephraim, as Jarchi, from Jeremiah 31:18 nor the king of Egypt, as Kimchi, from Jeremiah 46:20 nor the righteous that shall attack the city, and spoil its substance, as the Targum; see Psalm 68:30 but literally, and which is put for all other cattle, or beasts of the field, that should feed here, without any molestation or disturbance:

there shall he lie down, and consume the branches thereof; which the Targum interprets of the army belonging to the city; it denotes the utter destruction of it, and its inhabitants; see Revelation 18:2. Some of the Jewish writers (e) interpret this passage of Edom or Rome, and of the Messiah being there to take vengeance on it.

(b) "sed", Junius & Tremellius, Forerius; "tamen, nihilominus", Calvin. (c) "solitaria", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (d) "amoenum habitaculum", Tigurine version; Piscator (e) Shemot Rabba, sect. 1. fol. 91. 3.

Yet the {k} fortified city shall be desolate, and the habitation forsaken, and left like a wilderness: there shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down, and consume its branches.

(k) Not withstanding his favour that he will show them later, yet Jerusalem will be destroyed, and grass for cattle will grow in it.

10. Yet the defenced city …] Render with R.V.: For the defenced city is solitary, an habitation deserted (lit. “expelled”) and forsaken, &c. The verbs throughout are in the present tense.

10, 11. A picture of the desolation of Jerusalem, and the explanation of it. The commoner view is that the same hostile city as in Isaiah 25:2, Isaiah 26:5 is referred to, but the latter part of Isaiah 27:11 must refer to Israel. A partial parallel is found in ch. Isaiah 42:19 ff.Verse 10. - Yet the defensed city shall be desolate. Though her punishment is in mercy, as a chastisement which is to purge away her sin, yet Jerusalem shall for a time be desolate, void, without inhabitant, left like a wilderness. Forsaken; or, put away; the same word that is used in ver. 8 of Jerusalem. There shall the calf feed. A familiar image of desolation (comp. Isaiah 5:17; Isaiah 17:2; Isaiah 32:14, etc.). The prophecy here passes for the fourth time into the tone of a song. The church recognises itself in the judgments upon the world, as Jehovah's well-protected and beloved vineyard.

In that day a merry vineyard - sing it!

I, Jehovah, its keeper,

Every moment I water it.

That nothing may come near it,

I watch it night and day.

Wrath have I none;

O, had I thorns, thistles before me!

I would make up to them in battle,

Burn them all together.

Men would then have to grasp at my protection,

Make peace with me,

Make peace with me.

Instead of introducing the song with, "In that day shall this song be sung," or some such introduction, the prophecy passes at once into the song. It consists in a descending scale of strophes, consisting of one of five lines (Isaiah 27:2, Isaiah 27:3), one of four lines (Isaiah 27:4), and one of three lines (Isaiah 27:5). The thema is placed at the beginning, in the absolute case: cerem chemer. This may signify a vineyard of fiery or good wine (compare cerem zaith in Judges 15:5); but it is possible that the reading should be cerem chemed, as in Isaiah 32:12, as the lxx, Targum, and most modern commentators assume. ענּה ל signifies, according to Numbers 21:17; Psalm 147:7 (cf., Exodus 32:18; Psalm 88:1), to strike up a song with reference to anything - an onomatopoetic word (different from ענה, to begin, literally to meet). Cerem (the vineyard) is a feminine here, like בּאר, the well, in the song of the well in Numbers 21:17-18, and just as Israel, of which the vineyard here is a symbol (Isaiah 3:14; Isaiah 5:1.), is sometimes regarded as masculine, and at other times as feminine (Isaiah 26:20). Jehovah Himself is introduced as speaking. He is the keeper of the vineyard, who waters it every moment when there is any necessity (lirgâ‛im, like labbekârim in Isaiah 33:2, every morning), and watches it by night as well as by day, that nothing may visit it. על פּקד (to visit upon) is used in other cases to signify the infliction of punishment; here it denotes visitation by some kind of misfortune. Because it was the church purified through afflictions, the feelings of Jehovah towards it were pure love, without any admixture of the burning of anger (chēmâh). This is reserved for all who dare to do injury to this vineyard. Jehovah challenges these, and says, Who is there, then, that gives me thorns, thistles! עיתּנני equals לי יתּן, as in Jeremiah 9:1, cf., Joshua 15:19.) The asyndeton, instead of ושׁית שׁמיר, which is customary elsewhere, corresponds to the excitement of the exalted defender. If He had thorns, thistles before Him, He would break forth upon them in war, i.e., make war upon them (bâh, neuter, upon such a mass of bush), and set it all on fire (הצית equals הצּית). The arrangement of the strophes requires that we should connect כּמּלחמה with אפשׂעה (var. אפשׂעה), though this is at variance with the accents. We may see very clearly, even by the choice of the expression bammilchâmâh, that thorns and thistles are a figurative representation of the enemies of the church (2 Samuel 23:6-7). And in this sense the song concludes in Isaiah 27:5 : only by yielding themselves to mercy will they find mercy. או with a voluntative following, "unless," as in Leviticus 26:41. "Take hold of:" hechezik b', as in 1 Kings 1:50, of Adonijah, who lays hold of the horns of the altar. "Make peace with:" ‛âsâh shâlōm l', as in Joshua 9:15. The song closes here. What the church here utters, is the consciousness of the gracious protection of its God, as confirmed in her by the most recent events.

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