Isaiah 27:7 Commentaries: Like the striking of Him who has struck them, has He struck them? Or like the slaughter of His slain, have they been slain?
Isaiah 27:7
Has he smitten him, as he smote those that smote him? or is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him?
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(7) Hath he smitten him . . .—The pronouns are left in the English Version somewhat obscure, but the use of capitals makes the meaning plain: “Hath He (Jehovah) smitten him (Israel) as He smote those that smote him; or is he slain according to the slaughter of those that are slain by Him?” A slight alteration in the last clause in the text gives, according to the slaughter of his slayers. In any case the thought is that Jehovah had chastised the guilt with a leniency altogether exceptional. They had not been punished as others had been. The words admit, however, of another meaning, which is preferred by some critics, viz., that Jehovah doth not smite Israel with the smiting like that with which his (Israel’s) smiters smote him—i.e., had not punished, as the oppressors had punished, ruthlessly and in hate, but had in His wrath remembered mercy.

Isaiah 27:7. Hath he smitten him — Namely, Jacob; as he smote those that smote him? — The question implies a denial. He hath not so smitten him. He hath not dealt so severely with his people as he hath with their enemies, whom he hath utterly destroyed. Or is he slain as those slain by him — Namely, those slain by God on the behalf of Israel? The meaning is, God had never permitted the Jews to be smitten to their entire destruction, as he had their enemies, but had always taken care to preserve a remnant.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.Hath he smitten him, as he smote those that smote them? - Has God punished his people in the same manner and to the same extent as he has their enemies? It is implied by this question that he had not. He had indeed punished them for their sins, but he had I not destroyed them. Their enemies he had utterly destroyed.

According to the slaughter of those that are slain by him - Hebrew, 'According to the slaying of his slain.' That is, not as our translation would seem to imply, that their enemies had been slain "BY" them; but that they were 'their slain,' inasmuch as they had been slain on their account, or to promote their release and return to their own land. It was not true that their enemies had been slain "by" them; but it was true that they had been slain on their account, or in order to secure their return to their own country.

7. him … those—Israel—Israel's enemies. Has God punished His people as severely as He has those enemies whom He employed to chastise Israel? No! Far from it. Israel, after trials, He will restore; Israel's enemies He will utterly destroy at last.

the slaughter of them that are slain by him—rather, "Is Israel slain according to the slaughter of the enemy slain?" the slaughter wherewith the enemy is slain [Maurer].

Hath he smitten him, as he smote those that smote him? the question implies a denial; he hath not so smitten him, to wit, Jacob. He hath not dealt so severely with his people as he hath dealt with his and their enemies, whom he hath utterly destroyed. This may look either,

1. Backward, upon times past. If you consult former experiences, you will find that God hath done so, hath spared and restored his people, and in judgment remembered mercy to them, when he hath totally ruined their enemies. Or,

2. Forward, upon the time to come, of which he speaks as of a thing past, after the manner of the prophets, and of which he speaks in the next verse.

Of them that are slain by him; of those who were slain by Israel, or rather by God at the prayer and on the behalf of Israel. Heb. of his slain ones, i.e. of those of his smiters or enemies who were slain; which exposition is favoured by comparing this with the foregoing clause. Hath he smitten him, as he smote those that smote him?.... No; the Lord does smite his people by afflictive dispensations of his providence; he smites them in their persons, and families, and estates; see Isaiah 57:17 as he smote Israel, by suffering them to be carried captive, and as the Jews are now smitten by him in their present state; yet not as he smote Pharaoh, with his ten plagues, and him and his host at the Red Sea; or as he smote Sennacherib and his army, by an angel, in one night; or as Amalek was smitten, and its memory perished; or as he will smite mystical Babylon, which will be utterly destroyed; all which have been smiters of God's Israel, who, though smitten of God, yet not utterly destroyed; the Jews returned from captivity, and, though now they are scattered abroad, yet continue a people, and will be saved. God deals differently with his own people, his mystical and spiritual Israel, than with their enemies that smite them: he afflicts them, but does not destroy them, as he does their enemies; he has no fury in him towards his people, but he stirs up all his wrath against his enemies:

or, is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him? or, "of his slain" (w); the Lord's slain, or Israel's slain, which are slain by the Lord for Israel's sake; though Israel is slain, yet not in such numbers, to such a degree, or with such an utter slaughter, as their enemies; though the people of God may come under slaying providences, yet not such as wicked men; they are "chastened, but not killed"; and, though killed with the sword, or other instruments of death, in great numbers, both by Rome Pagan and Papal, yet not according to the slaughter as will be made of antichrist and his followers, Revelation 19:15.

(w) "occisorum ejus", Montanus; "interfecti illius", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

Hath he smitten {g} him, as he smote those that smote him? or is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him?

(g) He shows that God punishes his in mercy, and his enemies in justice.

7. For the thought cf. Jeremiah 10:24-25. The interrogations imply, of course, a negative answer; Jehovah has not smitten Israel as He has those that smote it. In the second question the reading of LXX. and Peshito is to be preferred on account of the parallelism: hath he been slain according to the slaughter of those that slew him (Israel).

7–11. A summons to national repentance and reformation. Has Israel suffered the extremity of Divine punishment as its oppressors have done (7)? There is a ground of hope in the moderation displayed by Jehovah in His chastisement of Israel; the prospect of ultimate reconciliation is held out; and this hope will be realised when all the monuments of idolatry are erased from the land (9). At present the city lies desolate, a witness to the sinful blindness of the people and the estrangement of its Creator (10, 11). The section is full of difficulties. The words of Isaiah 27:8 stand in no obvious relation to the context, and are probably to be regarded (with Duhm) as a marginal gloss to Isaiah 27:10. The connexion between Isaiah 27:9 and Isaiah 27:10 is also somewhat obscure.Verses 7-11. - THE COMING JUDGMENT UPON JUDAH A CHASTISEMENT IN WHICH MERCY IS BLENDED WITH JUSTICE. A coming judgment upon Judah has been one of the main subjects of Isaiah's prophecy from the beginning. It has been included in the catalogue of "burdens" (see Isaiah 22.). It will have to be one of the prophet's main subjects to the end of his "book." Hence he may at any time recur to it, as he does now, without special reason or excuse. In this place the special aspect under which the judgment presents itself to him is that of its merciful character,

(1) in degree (vers. 7, 8);

(2) in intention (ver. 9).

While noting this, he feels, however, bound to note also, that the judgment is, while it lasts, severe (vers. 10, 11). Verse 7. - Hath he smitten him; etc.? i.e. "Has God smitten Judah, as he '(God) smote Judah's smiters?" Judah's chief smiters were Assyria and Babylon. The judgments upon them would be more severe than that upon Judah. They would be destroyed; Judah would be taken captive, and restored. Them that are slain by him; rather, them that slew him (so Lowth, Ewald, Knobel, and Mr. Cheyne). But, to obtain this meaning, the pointing of the present text must be altered. The law of parallelism seems, however, to require the alteration. Upon whom the judgment of Jehovah particularly falls, is described in figurative and enigmatical words in Isaiah 27:1 : "In that day will Jehovah visit with His sword, with the hard, and the great, and the strong, leviathan the fleet serpent, and leviathan the twisted serpent, and slay the dragon in the sea." No doubt the three animals are emblems of three imperial powers. The assertion that there are no more three animals than there are three swords, is a mistake. If the preposition were repeated in the case of the swords, as it is in the case of the animals, we should have to understand the passage as referring to three swords as well as three animals. But this is not the case. We have therefore to inquire what the three world-powers are; and this question is quite a justifiable one: for we have no reason to rest satisfied with the opinion held by Drechsler, that the three emblems are symbols of ungodly powers in general, of every kind and every sphere, unless the question itself is absolutely unanswerable. Now the tannin (the stretched-out aquatic animal) is the standing emblem of Egypt (Isaiah 51:9; Psalm 74:13; Ezekiel 29:3; Ezekiel 32:2). And as the Euphrates-land and Asshur are mentioned in Isaiah 27:12, Isaiah 27:13 in connection with Egypt, it is immediately probable that the other two animals signify the kingdom of the Tigris, i.e., Assyria, with its capital Nineveh which stood on the Tigris, and the kingdom of the Euphrates, i.e., Chaldea, with its capital Babylon which stood upon the Euphrates. Moreover, the application of the same epithet Leviathan to both the kingdoms, with simply a difference in the attributes, is suggestive of two kingdoms that were related to each other. We must not be misled by the fact that nâchâsh bâriach is a constellation in Job 26:13; we have no bammarōm (on high) here, as in Isaiah 24:21, and therefore are evidently still upon the surface of the globe. The epithet employed was primarily suggested by the situation of the two cities. Nineveh was on the Tigris, which was called Chiddekel,

(Note: In point of fact, not only does Arab. tyr signify both an arrow and the Tigris, according to the Neo-Persian lexicons, but the old explanation "Tigris, swift as a dart, since the Medes call the Tigris toxeuma" (the shot or shot arrow; Eustath, on Dion Perieg. v. 984), is confirmed by the Zendic tighri, which has been proved to be used in the sense of arrow or shot (Yesht 8, 6, yatha tighris mainyavacâo), i.e., like a heavenly arrow.)

on account of the swiftness of its course and its terrible rapids; hence Asshur is compared to a serpent moving along in a rapid, impetuous, long, extended course (bâriach, as in Isaiah 43:14, is equivalent to barriach, a noun of the same form as עלּיז, and a different word from berriach, a bolt, Isaiah 15:5). Babylon, on the other hand, is compared to a twisted serpent, i.e., to one twisting about in serpentine curves, because it was situated on the very winding Euphrates, the windings of which are especially labyrinthine in the immediate vicinity of Babylon. The river did indeed flow straight away at one time, but by artificial cuttings it was made so serpentine that it passed the same place, viz., Arderikka, no less than three times; and according to the declaration of Herodotus in his own time, when any one sailed down the river, he had to pass it three times in three days (Ritter, x. p. 8). The real meaning of the emblem, however, is no more exhausted by this allusion to the geographical situation, than it was in the case of "the desert of the sea" (Isaiah 21:1). The attribute of winding is also a symbol of the longer duration of one empire than of the other, and of the more numerous complications into which Israel would be drawn by it. The world-power on the Tigris fires with rapidity upon Israel, so that the fate of Israel is very quickly decided. But the world-power on the Euphrates advances by many windings, and encircles its prey in many folds. And these windings are all the more numerous, because in the prophet's view Babylon is the final form assumed by the empire of the world, and therefore Israel remains encircled by this serpent until the last days. The judgment upon Asshur, Babylon, and Egypt, is the judgment upon the world-powers universally.

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