Isaiah 29:4
And you shall be brought down, and shall speak out of the ground, and your speech shall be low out of the dust, and your voice shall be, as of one that has a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and your speech shall whisper out of the dust.
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(4) Shalt speak out of the ground.—The words paint the panic of the besieged, the words pointing probably to Sennacherib’s invasion. They spoke in whispers, like the voice of the spectres which men heard in the secret chambers of the soothsayers. The war-cry of the brave was changed into the feeble tones of those that “peep and mutter.” (See Note on Isaiah 8:19.)

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.And shalt speak out of the ground - (see the note at Isaiah 8:19). The sense here is, that Jerusalem, that had been accustomed to pride itself on its strength I would be greatly humbled and subdued. Its loud and lofty tone would be changed. It would use the suppressed language of fear and alarm as if it spoke from the dust, or in a shrill small voice, like the pretended conversers with the dead.

And thy speech shall whisper out of the dust - Margin, 'Peep,' or 'Chirp,' (see the note at Isaiah 8:19).

4. Jerusalem shall be as a captive, humbled to the dust. Her voice shall come from the earth as that of the spirit-charmers or necromancers (Isa 8:19), faint and shrill, as the voice of the dead was supposed to be. Ventriloquism was doubtless the trick caused to make the voice appear to come from the earth (Isa 19:3). An appropriate retribution that Jerusalem, which consulted necromancers, should be made like them! Thy speech shall be low out of the dust; thou who now speakest so loftily and scornfully against the Lord’s prophets and others, shalt be humbled and confounded, and afraid and ashamed to speak aloud, and shalt in a submissive manner, and with a low voice, beg the favour of thine enemies.

Thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground; who, that they might possess the people with a kind of reverence and horror, used to speak and deliver their answers with a low voice, either out of their bellies, or from some dark cave under the ground. And thou shalt be brought down,.... To the ground, and laid level with it, even the city of Jerusalem, as it was by the Romans; and as it was predicted by Christ it would, Luke 19:44 though some understand this of the humbling of the inhabitants of it, by the appearance of Sennacherib's army before it, and of which they interpret the following clauses:

and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust; which some explain of the submissive language of Hezekiah to Sennacherib, and of his messengers to Rabshakeh, 2 Kings 18:14 as Aben Ezra and Kimchi; but it is expressive of the great famine in Jerusalem, at the time of its siege by the Romans, when the inhabitants were so reduced by it, as that they were scarce able to speak as to be heard, and could not stand upon their legs, but fell to the ground, and lay in the dust, uttering from thence their speech, with a faint and feeble voice:

and thy voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust: or peep and chirp, as little birds, as Jarchi and Kimchi, as those did that had familiar spirits; and as the Heathen oracles were delivered, as if they came out of the bellies of those that spoke, or out of caves and hollow places in the earth; and this was in just retaliation to these people, who imitated such practices, and made use of such spirits; see Isaiah 8:19.

And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the {d} ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, like a medium, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.

(d) Your speech will be no longer be so lofty but abased and low as the very charmers who are in low places and whisper, so that their voice can scarcely by heard.

Verse 4. - Thy speech shall be low. The feeble cries of a people wasted and worn out by a long siege are intended. These cries would resemble those which seemed to come out of the ground when a necromancer professed to raise a ghost. The Hebrew 'ohv is used both of the necromancers (Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6, etc.) and of the ghosts which they professed to raise (1 Samuel 28:7, 8; 2 Kings 21:6, etc.). Here the "ghost" is spoken cf. Thy speech shall whisper; literally, chirp (comp. Isaiah 8:19). The word used occurs only in Isaiah. Again, the labour of the husbandman is just as manifold after the reaping has been done. "For the black poppy is not threshed with a threshing sledge, nor is a cart wheel rolled over cummin; but black poppy is knocked out with a stick, and cummin with a staff. Is bread corn crushed? No; he does not go on threshing it for ever, and drive the wheel of his cart and his horses over it: he does not crush it. This also, it goeth forth from Jehovah of hosts: He gives wonderful intelligence, high understanding." Ki (for) introduces another proof that the husbandman is instructed by God, from what he still further does. He does not use the threshing machine (chârūts, syn. mōrag, Ar. naureg, nōreg), or the threshing cart (agâlâh: see Winer's Real-Wrterbuch, art. Dreschen), which would entirely destroy the more tender kinds of fruit, but knocks them out with a staff (baculo excutit: see at Isaiah 27:12). The sentence lechem yūdâq is to be accentuated as an interrogative: Is bread corn crushed? Oh no, he does not crush it. This would be the case if he were to cause the wheel (i.e., the wheels, gilgal, constr. to galgal) of the threshing cart with the horses harnessed in front to rattle over it with all their might (hâmam, to set in noisy violent motion). Lechem, like the Greek sitos, is corn from which bread is made (Isaiah 30:23; Psalm 104:14). אדושׁ is metaplastic (as if from אדשׁ) for דושׁ (see Ewald, 312, b). Instead of וּפרשׁיו, the pointing ought to be וּפרשׁיו (from פרשׁ with kametz before the tone equals Arab. faras, as distinguished from פרשׁ with a fixed kametz, equivalent to farras, a rider): "his horses," here the threshing horses, which were preferred to asses and oxen.Even in this treatment of the fruit when reaped, there is an evidence of the wonderful intelligence (הפלא), as written הפלא) and exalted understanding (on תּוּשׁהיה, from ושׁי, see at Job 26:3) imparted by God. The expression is one of such grandeur, that we perceive at once that the prophet has in his mind the wisdom of God in a higher sphere. The wise, divinely inspired course adopted by the husbandman in the treatment of the field and fruit, is a type of the wise course adopted by the divine Teacher Himself in the treatment of His nation. Israel is Jehovah's field. The punishments and chastisements of Jehovah are the ploughshare and harrow, with which He forcibly breaks up, turns over, and furrows this field. But this does not last for ever. When the field has been thus loosened, smoothed, and rendered fertile once more, the painful process of ploughing is followed by a beneficent sowing and planting in a multiform and wisely ordered fulness of grace. Again, Israel is Jehovah's child of the threshing-floor (see Isaiah 21:10). He threshes it; but He does not thresh it only: He also knocks; and when He threshes, He does not continue threshing for ever, i.e., as Caspari has well explained it, "He does not punish all the members of the nation with the same severity; and those whom He punishes with greater severity than others He does not punish incessantly, but as soon as His end is attained, and the husks of sin are separated from those that have been punished, and the punishment ceases, and only the worst in the nation, who are nothing but husks, and the husks on the nation itself, are swept away by the punishments" (compare Isaiah 1:25; Isaiah 29:20-21). This is the solemn lesson and affectionate consolation hidden behind the veil of the parable. Jehovah punishes, but it is in order that He may be able to bless. He sifts, but He does not destroy. He does not thresh His own people, but He knocks them; and even when He threshes, they may console themselves in the face of the approaching period of judgment, that they are never crushed or injured.
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