Isaiah 27:8
In measure, when it shoots forth, you will debate with it: he stays his rough wind in the day of the east wind.
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(8) In measure . . .—Literally, with the force of iteration, with measure and measure. The verse continues the thought of the preceding. The word for “measure” is strictly definite: the seah, or third part of an ephah (comp. Isaiah 5:10), and therefore used as proverbial for its smallness, to express the extreme moderation of God’s chastisements.

When it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate With it.—Better, When thou didst put her away, thou didst plead with her. The prophet falls back upon the thought of Hosea 1-3, that Israel was the adulterous wife to whom Jehovah had given, as it were, a bill of divorcement, but against whom He did not carry the pleadings to the furthest point that the rigour of the law allowed. Comp. for this meaning Isaiah 1:1; Deuteronomy 24:1; Malachi 2:16.

He stayeth his rough wind . . .—The words have become familiar, as expressing the loving-kindness which will not heap chastisement on chastisement, lest a man should be swallowed up of overmuch sorrow, which keeps the “rough wind” from completing the devastation already wrought by the scorching “east wind.” That rendering, however, can scarcely be maintained. The word translated “stay” is found elsewhere in Proverbs 25:4-5, and there has the sense of “separating,” or “sifting.” And this is its sense here also, the thought expressed asserting, though in another form than the traditional rendering, the compassion of Jehovah, in that He sifts with his rough wind in the day of east wind; though punishment come on punishment, it is reformatory, and not simply penal, to sift, and not to destroy. A rendering accepted by some critics gives, He sigheth with His rough wind, as though with a sorrowing pity mingled with the chastisement.

Isaiah 27:8. In measure when it shooteth forth — Rather, In measure when thou sendest it forth, as בסאסאה בשׁלחה, may be properly rendered. The words seem to be addressed by the prophet to God, and to signify that God would observe a measure in punishing the Jewish people, and not go beyond a certain degree; and that he then would send them forth again, namely, from captivity: from which God, after they had suffered sufficient correction, would deliver them by a singular providence. Thou wilt debate, or contend with it — God is said to debate or contend with men, when he executes his judgments upon them. But תריבנהmay be rendered, Thou wilt contend for it, that is, undertake its cause and defend it. This is still spoken of God’s singular protection of the Jews, when they returned from Babylon. He stayeth his rough wind — He mitigates the severity of the judgment; in the day of the east wind — In the time when he sendeth forth his east wind, that is, very grievous and destructive calamities. The cast wind, being a dry, blasting wind, and the most violent and destructive of all others in those parts of the world, is frequently put, in the Scriptures, for the calamities of war, and such like wasting judgments: see Jeremiah 4:11-12; Ezekiel 17:10; and Ezekiel 19:12; Hosea 13:15. Here it seems to be mentioned with a reference to the shooting forth of the branches of the vine, spoken of in the foregoing words, that wind being very prejudicial to tender shoots.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.In measure ... - This verse in our translation is exceedingly obscure, and indeed almost unintelligible. Nor is it much more intelligible in Lowth, or in Noyes; in the Vulgate, or the Septuagint. The various senses which have been given to the verse may be seen at length in Vitringa and Rosenmuller. The idea, which I suppose to be the true one, without going into an examination of others which have been proposed, is the following, which is as near as possible a literal translation:

In moderation in sending her (the vineyard)

Away didst thou judge her,

Though carrying her away with a rough tempest

In the time of the east wind.

The word rendered 'measure' (סאסאה sa'se'âh) occurs nowhere else in the Scriptures. It is probably derived from סאה se'âh, "a measure;" usually denoting a measure of grain, containing, according to the rabbis, a third part of an ephah, that is, about "a peck." The word used here is probably a contraction of סאה סאה se'âh se'âh literally, "measure by measure," i: e., "moderately," or in moderation. So the rabbis generally understand it. The idea is 'small measure by small measure,' not a large measure at a time; or, in other words, moderately, or in moderation. It refers, I suppose, to the fact that in inflicting judgment on his people, it had not been done with intolerable severity. The calamity had not been so overwhelming as entirely to cut them off, but had been tempered with mercy.

When it shooteth forth - This expression does not convey an intelligible idea. The Hebrew, בשׁלחה beshallechâh - literally, "in sending her forth," from שׁלח shâlach "to send," or "to put forth" - refers, I suppose, to the fact that God had sent her, that is, his vineyard, his people, forth to Babylon; he had cast them out of their own land into a distant country, but when it was done it was tempered with mercy and kindness. In this expression there is indeed a mingling of a metaphor with a literal statement, since it appears rather incongruous to speak of sending forth a "vineyard;" but such changes in expressions are not uncommon in the Hebrew poets.

Thou wilt debate with it - Or, rather, thou hast "judged" it; or hast punished it. The word ריב riyb means sometimes to debate, contend, or strive; but it means also to take vengeance 1 Samuel 25:39, or to punish; to contend with anyone so as to overcome or punish him. Here it refers to the fact that God "had" had a contention with his people, and had punished them by removing them to Babylon.

He stayeth - ( הגה hâgâh). This word means in one form "to meditate," to think, to speak; in another, "to separate," as dross from silver, to remove, to take away Proverbs 25:4-5. Here it means that he "had" removed, or separated his people from their land as with the sweepings of a tempest. The word 'stayeth' does not express the true sense of the passage. It is better expressed in the margin, 'when he removeth it.'

His rough wind - A tempestuous, boisterous wind, which God sends. Winds are emblematic of judgment, as they sweep away everything before them. Here the word is emblematic of the calamities which came upon Judea by which the nation was removed to Babylon; and the sense is, that they were removed as in a tempest; they were carried away as if a violent storm had swept over the land.

In the day of the east wind - The east wind in the climate of Judea was usually tempestuous and violent; Job 27:21 :

The east wind carrieth him away and he departeth;

And, as a storm, hurleth them out of his place.

8. In measure—not beyond measure; in moderation (Job 23:6; Ps 6:1; Jer 10:24; 30:11; 46:28).

when it shooteth—image from the vine; rather, passing from the image to the thing itself, "when sending her away (namely, Israel to exile; Isa 50:1, God only putting the adulteress away when He might justly have put her to death), Thou didst punish her" [Gesenius].

stayeth—rather, as Margin, "when He removeth it by His rough wind in the day," &c.

east wind—especially violent in the East (Job 27:21; Jer 18:17).

In measure; with moderation, in certain proportions which God meteth out and fitteth to their strength. When it shooteth forth; when the vine shooteth forth its luxuriant branches, he, like the vine-dresser, cutteth them off, but so as not to spoil or destroy the vine. Or, as divers interpreters render it, and the word properly and frequently signifies, in or by casting, or dismissing, or sending her or it out; or, when thou dost cast or send her out, to wit, out of her own land, in which she was planted, into captivity. He alludes to a man that divorceth his wife, which is expressed by this word; but withal intimates that this shall not be peremptory and perpetual, as other divorces were.

Thou wilt debate with it; God is said to debate or contend with men, when he executeth his judgments upon them, as Isaiah 57:16 Amos 7:4.

He stayeth his rough wind; he mitigateth the severity of the judgment. But I must confess I do not meet with any of the ancient or modern translators that agree with ours in this version; nor is the Hebrew verb used, so far as I know, in the signification of staying or restraining; besides, our translation takes no notice of the Hebrew preposition. But this word unquestionably signifies to remove or take away, as 2 Samuel 20:13 Proverbs 25:4,5, and thus most interpreters understand it. And so the place is very fitly thus rendered, he (or, when he, which particle may easily be understood out of the former clause, as is usual) removeth (understand either it, to wit, the vine; or them, to wit; the enemies of God and his people. And so this agreeth with the former verse, in representing the different way of God’s proceeding against his people, and his and their enemies. Either way there is only a defect of the pronoun, which I have before showed in divers places to be very usual in the Hebrew language) with or by his rough wind; by which sometimes vines and other trees are pulled up by the roots, as that did, 1 Kings 19:11, whereby he understands his most terrible judgments.

In the day of the east wind; in the time when he sendeth forth his east wind; which he mentions, because that wind in those parts was most violent, and most hurtful to trees and fruits, as hath been oft observed, and therefore is used to signify the most grievous calamities. In measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it,.... Or, "when he sendeth it forth" (x); when God sends forth an affliction on his people, or gives it a commission to them, as all are sent by him, he does it with moderation; he proportions it to their strength, and will not suffer them to be afflicted above what they are able to bear; and as, in afflicting, he debates and contends with his people, having a controversy with them, so he contends with the affliction he sends, and debates the point with it, and checks and corrects it, and will not suffer it to go beyond due bounds; and in this the afflictions of God's people differ from the afflictions of others, about which he is careless and unconcerned:

he stayeth his rough wind in the day of his east wind: when afflictions, like a blustering and blasting east wind, threaten much mischief, and to carry all before them, Jehovah, from whom they have their commission, and who holds the winds in his fist, represses them, stops the violence of them, and gradually abates the force of them, and quite stills them, when they have answered the end for which they are sent: or "he meditateth" (y); or speaketh, as Jarchi interprets it, "by his rough wind in the day of his east wind"; God sometimes meditates hard things against his people, and speaks unto them by the rough dispensations of his providence, admonishes them of their sins, and brings them to a sense and acknowledgment of them, which is his view in suffering them to befall them; or, "he removes by his rough wind" (z); their fruit, so Kimchi interprets it; as a rough wind blows off the blossoms and fruits, so the Lord, by afflictions, removes the unkind blossoms and bad fruit from his people, their sins and transgressions, as it follows.

(x) "in emittendo eam", Montanus. (y) "meditatus est", V. L. so it is used in Psal. i. 2. It sometimes intends a great sound and noise, such as the roaring of a lion, Isaiah 31.4. and Gussetius here interprets it of thunder, Ebr. Comment. p. 202. so Castalio renders it, "sonans suo duro spiritu". (z) "Removit in vento suo duro", Pagninus, Montanus; "removebit", Vatablus; "abstulit", Tigurine version, Piscator; so Ben Melech observes that the word has the signification of removing in Proverbs 25.4, 5.

In {h} measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it: he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind.

(h) That is, you will not destroy the root of your Church, though the branches of it seem to perish by the sharp wind of affliction.

8. A very difficult verse. The first word in the Hebr. is supposed to be a contracted reduplication of ṣěâh (the third part of an ephah); hence “by seah and seah” = “in exact measure,” “dealing out punishment in carefully adjusted quantities” (Cheyne and Kay). But this cannot be right. A better, though still precarious, sense is reached by the help of a word (sa’sa’a) which the Arabs use in driving animals. The first half of the verse would thus read: By driving her forth, by sending her away, thou contendest with her (i.e. Israel). The allusion is to the Exile, and perhaps the figure may be that of a divorced wife. The last clause reads: he hath removed (her) with his rough blast in a day of east wind (nearly as R.V.).Verse 8. - Our translators have entirely mistaken the meaning of this verse. The proper rendering is, In measure, when thou puttest her away, thou wilt contend with her; he sighed with his keen breath in the day of the east wind. "In measure" means "with forbearance and moderation" - the punishment being carefully adjusted to the degree of the offence. God was about to "put Judah away" - to banish her into a far country; but still he would refrain himself - he would "not suffer his whole displeasure to arise," or give her over wholly to destruction. In the day of the east wind, or of the national catastrophe, when his breath was fierce and hard against his people, he would "sigh" at the needful chastisement. As Dr. Kay well says, "Amid the rough and stern severity which he breathed into the tempest, there was an undertone of sadness and grief." 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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