Isaiah 29:2
Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow: and it shall be to me as Ariel.
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(2) And it shall be unto me as Ariel.—Better, But she (the city) shall be unto me as Ariel. That name would not falsify itself. In the midst of all her “heaviness and sorrow,” Jerusalem should still be as “the lion of God,” or, taking the other meaning, as the “altar-hearth” of God. (Comp. Ezekiel 43:15.)

Isaiah 29:2. Yet will I distress Ariel — Notwithstanding all your sacrifices, by bringing and strengthening her enemies against her. And there shall be heaviness and sorrow — Instead of your present joy and festivity. And it shall be to me as Ariel — That is, either, 1st, I will treat her like a strong and fierce lion, which the people, among whom it is, endeavour by nets and pits, and divers other ways, to take and destroy. Or, 2d, I will make Ariel the city like Ariel the altar, filling it with sacrifices, even of men, whom I will slay in my anger; which act of God is called his sacrifice, Ezekiel 39:17-19. Agreeably to this latter interpretation, Bishop Lowth renders the clause, It shall be unto me as the hearth of the great altar: that is, as he explains it, “all on flame; as it was when taken by the Chaldeans; or covered with carcasses and blood, as when taken by the Romans: an intimation of which more distant events, though not immediate subjects of the prophecy, may perhaps be given in this obscure passage.”29:1-8 Ariel may signify the altar of burnt-offerings. Let Jerusalem know that outward religious services will not make men free from judgements. Hypocrites never can please God, nor make their peace with him. God had often and long, by a host of angels, encamped round about Jerusalem for protection and deliverance; but now he fought against it. Proud looks and proud language shall be brought down by humbling providences. The destruction of Jerusalem's enemies is foretold. The army of Sennacherib went as a dream; and thus the multitudes, that through successive ages fight against God's altar and worship, shall fall. Speedily will sinners awake from their soothing dreams in the pains of hell.Yet I will distress Ariel - The reference here is doubtless to the siege which God says Isaiah 29:3 he would bring upon the guilty and formal city.

And there shall be heaviness and sorrow - This was true of the city in the siege of Sennacherib, to which this probably refers. Though the city was delivered in a sudden and remarkable manner (see the note at Isaiah 29:7-8), yet it was also true that it was reduced to great distress (see Isaiah 36; 37)

And it shall be unto me as Ariel - This phrase shows that in Isaiah 29:1 Jerusalem is called 'Ariel,' because it contained the great altar, and was the place of sacrifice. The word "Ariel" here is to be understood in the sense "of the hearth of the great altar;" and the meaning is, 'I will indeed make Jerusalem like the great altar; I will make it the burning place of wrath where my enemies shall be consumed as if they were on the altar of burnt sacrifice.' Thus in Isaiah 30:9, it is said of Yahweh that his 'fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.' This is a strong expression, denoting the calamity that was approaching; and though the main reference in this whole passage is to the distress that would come upon them in the invasion of Sennacherib, yet there is no impropriety in supposing that there was presented to the mind of the prophet in vision the image of the total ruin that would come yet upon the city by the Chaldeans - when the temple, the palaces, and the dwellings of the magnificent city of David would be in flames, and like a vast blazing altar consuming that which was laid upon it.

2. Yet—rather, "Then."

heaviness … sorrow—rather, preserving the Hebrew paronomasia, "groaning" and "moaning."

as Ariel—either, "the city shall be as a lion of God," that is, it shall emerge from its dangers unvanquished; or "it shall be as the altar of burnt offering," consuming with fire the besiegers (Isa 29:6; Isa 30:30; 31:9; Le 10:2); or best, as Isa 29:3 continues the threat, and the promise of deliverance does not come till Isa 29:4, "it shall be like a hearth of burning," that is, a scene of devastation by fire [G. V. Smith]. The prophecy, probably, contemplates ultimately, besides the affliction and deliverance in Sennacherib's time, the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome, the dispersion of the Jews, their restoration, the destruction of the enemies that besiege the city (Zec 14:2), and the final glory of Israel (Isa 29:17-24).

Yet, notwithstanding all your sacrifices,

I will distress Ariel, by bringing and strengthening her enemies against her.

It shall be unto me as Ariel: the sense is either,

1. I will treat her like a strong and fierce lion, which, the people among whom it is endeavour by nets, or pits, and all other ways, to take and to destroy; or,

2. I will make Ariel the city like Ariel the altar, filling it with sacrifices, even with men, whom I will slay in my anger; which act of God’s is called his sacrifice, Ezekiel 39:17,19. Yet I will distress Ariel,.... Or "straiten" it, by causing it to be besieged; and this he would do, notwithstanding their yearly sacrifices, and their observance of their solemn feasts, and other ceremonies of the law, in which they placed their confidence, and neglected weightier matters:

and there shall be heaviness and sorrow; on account of the siege; by reason of the devastations of the enemy without, made on all the cities and towns in Judea round about; and because of the famine and bloodshed in the city:

and it shall be unto me as Ariel; the whole city shall be as the altar; as that was covered with the blood and carcasses of slain beasts, so this with the blood and carcasses of men; and so the Targum,

"and I will distress the city where the altar is, and it shall be desolate and empty; and it shall be surrounded before me with the blood of the slain, as the altar is surrounded with the blood of the holy sacrifices on a solemn feast day all around;''

so Jarchi and Kimchi.

Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow: and it shall be to me {c} as Ariel.

(c) Your city will be full of blood as an altar on which they sacrifice.

2. there shall be heaviness and sorrow] Better: “mourning and lamentation” (R.V.), but still better (as reproducing the assonance of the original): moaning and bemoaning (Cheyne). The expression recurs in Lamentations 2:5.

it shall be unto me as Ariel] she shall be to me like a (true) altar-hearth (Kaph veritatis). If Ariel meant “Lion of God” this clause would necessarily have to be understood in a favourable sense; on the view here followed it may be either a promise or a threat; the context decides for the latter. The meaning is that Jerusalem will be either a place where the flames of war rage fiercely, or a place reeking with the blood of countless human victims. We may suppose that Isaiah addressed these words to the worshippers in the Temple, and that the great altar with its bleeding victims stood out before his mind as an emblem of Jerusalem’s fate, and suggested the name “Ariel.”

2–5. The humiliation and distress of Ariel, at the hands of the Assyrians.Verse 2. - Yet will I distress Ariel; rather, and then will I distress Ariel. The sense runs on from the preceding verse. There shall be heaviness and sorrow. Mr. Cheyne's "moaning and bemoaning" represents the Hebrew play upon words better. The natural consequence of the siege would be a constant cry of woe. And it shall be unto me as Ariel. It would be better to translate, "Yet she shall be unto me as Ariel." The meaning is that, though distressed and straitened, Jerusalem shall still through all be able by God's help to answer to her name of "Ariel" - to behave as a lien when attacked by the hunters. The address of the prophet is here apparently closed. But an essential ingredient is still wanting to the second half, to make it correspond to the first. There is still wanting the fringe of promise coinciding with Isaiah 28:5, Isaiah 28:6. The prophet has not only to alarm the scoffers, that if possible he may pluck some of them out of the fire through fear (Judges 5:23); he has also to comfort believers, who yield themselves as disciples to him and to the word of God (Isaiah 8:16). He does this here in a very peculiar manner. He has several times assumed the tone of the mashal, more especially in chapter 26; but here the consolation is dressed up in a longer parabolical address, which sets forth in figures drawn from husbandry the disciplinary and saving wisdom of God. Isaiah here proves himself a master of the mashal. In the usual tone of a mashal song, he first of all claims the attention of his audience as a teacher of wisdom. V. 23 "Lend me your ear, and hear my voice; attend, and hear my address!" Attention is all the more needful, that the prophet leaves his hearers to interpret and apply the parable themselves. The work of a husbandman is very manifold, as he tills, sows, and plants his field. Vv. 24-26 "Does the ploughman plough continually to sow? to furrow and to harrow his land? Is it not so: when he levels the surface thereof, he scatters black poppy seed, and strews cummin, and puts in wheat in rows, and barley in the appointed piece, and spelt on its border? And He has instructed him how to act rightly: his God teaches it him." The ploughing (chârash) which opens the soil, i.e., turns it up in furrows, and the harrowing (siddēd) which breaks the clods, take place to prepare for the sowing, and therefore not interminably, but only so long as it necessary to prepare the soil to receive the seed. When the seed-furrows have been drawn in the levelled surface of the ground (shivvâh), then the sowing and planting begin; and this also takes place in various ways, according to the different kinds of fruit. Qetsach is the black poppy (nigella sativa, Arab. habbe soda, so called from its black seeds), belonging to the ranunculaceae. Kammōn was the cummin (cuminum cyminum) with larger aromatic seeds, Ar. kammūn, neither of them our common carraway (Kmmel, carum). The wheat he sows carefully in rows (sōrâh, ordo; ad ordinem, as it is translated by Jerome), i.e., he does not scatter it about carelessly, like the other two, but lays the grains carefully in the furrows, because otherwise when they sprang up they would get massed together, and choke one another. Nismân, like sōrâh, is an acc. loci: the barley is sown in a piece of the field specially marked off for it, or specially furnished with signs (sı̄mânı̄m); and kussemeth, the spelt (ζειά, also mentioned by Homer, Od. iv 604, between wheat and barley), along the edge of it, so that spelt forms the rim of the barley field. It is by a divine instinct that the husbandman acts in this manner; for God, who established agriculture at the creation (i.e., Jehovah, not Osiris), has also given men understanding. This is the meaning of v'yisserō lammishpât: and (as we may see from all this) He (his God: the subject is given afterwards in the second clause) has led him (Proverbs 31:1) to the right (this is the rendering adopted by Kimchi, whilst other commentators have been misled by Jeremiah 30:11, and last of all Malbim Luzzatto, "Cosi Dio con giustizia corregge;" he would have done better, however, to say, con moderazione).
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