And I will camp against you round about, and will lay siege against you with a mount, and I will raise forts against you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)I will encamp against thee . . .—The words describe the strategy of an Eastern siege, as we see it in the Assyrian sculptures—the mound raised against the walls of the city, the battering-ram placed upon the mound, and brought to bear upon the walls. (See Jeremiah 33:4; Ezekiel 4:2.)Isaiah 29:3-4. And I will camp against thee, &c. — That is, by those enemies whom I will assist and enable to take and destroy thee. The prophet may here refer to different sieges of Jerusalem, that of Sennacherib, that of the Chaldeans, or even to that of the Romans. Thou shalt be brought down — thy speech shall be low — Thou, who now speakest so loftily, shalt be humbled, and in a submissive manner, and with a low voice, shalt beg the favour of thine enemies. As of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground — “That the souls of the dead uttered a feeble, stridulous sound, very different from the natural human voice, was a popular notion among the heathen, as well as among the Jews. This appears from several passages of their poets, Homer, Virgil, Horace. The pretenders to the art of necromancy, who were chiefly women, had an art of speaking with a reigned voice, so as to deceive those who applied to them, by making them believe that it was the voice of the ghost. They had a way of uttering sounds, as if they were formed, not by the organs of speech, but deep in the chest, or in the belly, and were thence called εγγαστριμυθοι, ventriloqui. They could make the voice seem to come from beneath the ground, from a distant part, in another direction, and not from themselves, the better to impose upon those who consulted them. From these arts of the necromancers, the popular notion seems to have arisen that the ghost’s voice was a weak, stridulous, almost an inarticulate sort of sound, very different from the speech of the living.” — Bishop Lowth.Isaiah 10:5).
Round about - (כדוּר kadûr). As in a circle; that is, he would encompass or encircle the city. The word used here דור dûr in Isaiah 22:18, means a ball, but here it evidently means a circle; and the sense is, that the army of the besiegers would encompass the city. A similar form of expression occurs in regard to Jerusalem in Luke 19:43 : 'For the days shall come upon thee, than thine enemies shall cast a trench (χάρακα charaka - "a rampart," a "mound") about thee σοί soi "against thee"), and "compass thee round" περικυκλώτονσί σε perikuklōsousi se, "encircle thee").' So also Luke 21:20. The Septuagint renders this, 'I will encompass thee as David did;' evidently reading it as if it were כדוּד kadûd; and Lowth observes that two manuscripts thus read it, and he himself adopts it. But the authority for correcting the Hebrew text in this way is not sufficient, nor is it necessary. The idea in the present reading is a clear one, and evidently means that the armies of Sennacherib would encompass the city.
With a mount - A rampart; a fortification. Or, rather, perhaps, the word מצב mutsâb means a post, a military station, from יצב yâtsab, "to place, to station." The word in this form occurs nowhere else in the Scriptures, but the word מצב matsâb occurs in 1 Samuel 13:23; 1 Samuel 14:1, 1 Samuel 14:4; 2 Samuel 23:14, in the sense of a military post, or garrison.
I will rise forts - That is, ramparts, such as were usually thrown up against a besieged city, meaning that it should be subjected to the regular process of a siege. The Septuagint reads, Πύργου Purgou; 'Towers;' and so also two manuscripts by changing the Hebrew letter ד (d) into the Hebrew letter ר (r). But there is no necessity for altering the Hebrew text. Lowth prefers the reading of the Septuagint.
mount—an artificial mound formed to out-top high walls (Isa 37:33); else a station, namely, of warriors, for the siege.
round about—not fully realized under Sennacherib, but in the Roman siege (Lu 19:43; 21:20).
forts—siege-towers (De 20:20).
1. By Sennacherib, as some learned men think. But what is here affirmed of these enemies is expressly denied concerning Sennacherib, Isaiah 37:3. Or rather,
2. By the Chaldeans, 2 Kings 25:1, &c. Luke 19:43,
and will lay siege against thee with a mount: raised up for soldiers to get up upon, and cast their arrows into the city from, and scale the walls; Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it a wooden tower. This cannot be understood of Sennacherib's siege, for he was not suffered to raise a bank against the city, nor shoot an arrow into it, Isaiah 37:33 but well agrees with the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans, as related by Josephus (p):
and I will raise forts against thee; from whence to batter the city; the Romans had their battering rams.And I will camp against thee round about, and will lay siege against thee with a mount, and I will raise forts against thee.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)3. I will camp against thee round about] see Isaiah 29:1. LXX. carries the parallel still further by reading “I will encamp … like David,” a reading which would be plausible if “against which” could be fairly supplied in Isaiah 29:1. “Round about” is the same word as “like a ball” in Isaiah 22:18.
with a mount] R.V. with a fort; perhaps lines of circumvallation. For forts, read siege-works, as R.V. Comp. Ezekiel 4:1-3.
4 explains the “moaning and bemoaning” of Isaiah 29:2. The verse reads: And thou shalt be laid low, speaking from (beneath) the earth, and thy speech shall come humbly from the dust; and thy voice shall be like (that of) a ghost (coming) from the earth, and thy speech shall squeak from the dust. The allusions in the latter half of the verse are explained under ch. Isaiah 8:19. The figures signify the utter abasement and exhaustion of the “joyous city.”Verse 3. - I will camp against thee round about; i.e. "I will bring armed men against thee who shall encamp around the entire circuit of thy walls." There was small chance of forcing an entrance into Jerusalem on any side except the north; but, order to distress and harass her, an enemy with numerous forces would dispose them all round the walls, thus preventing all ingress or egress (see Luke 19:43). And... lay siege against thee with a mount; or, with a mound. Artificial mounds were raised up against the walls of cities by the Assyrians, as a foundation from which to work their battering rams with greater advantage against the upper and weaker portion of the defenses (see 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2. p. 80). And... raise forts against thee. "Forts" were usually movable, and accompanied the battering-ram for its better protection. Archers in the forts cleared the walls of their defenders, while the ram was employed in making a breach (see Layard, 'Monuments of Nineveh,' Second Series, p. 21). 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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