Isaiah 29:8
It shall even be as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite: so shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against mount Zion.
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(8) It shall even be as when an hungry man . . . eateth.—The foes of Jerusalem were greedy of their prey, eager to devour; they thought it was already theirs. The rude awakening found them still empty. The lion of Judah was not to be devoured even by the strong bull of Assyria.

Isaiah 29:8. “As when a hungry man dreameth; and, lo! he seemeth to eat; but he awaketh, and his appetite is still unsatisfied: and as a thirsty man, &c. So shall it be with the multitude of all the nations, which have set themselves in array against mount Zion.” Thus Bishop Lowth. The Assyrians had swallowed up Jerusalem in their imagination: but God would suddenly disappoint all their hopes, and send them away empty and confounded. For, the reader will observe, “Sennacherib and his mighty army are not here compared to a dream, because of their sudden disappearance; but the disappointment of their eager hopes is compared to what happens to a hungry and thirsty man, when he awakes from a dream, in which fancy had presented to him meat and drink in abundance, and finds it nothing but a vain illusion. The comparison is elegant and beautiful in the highest, degree, well wrought up, and perfectly suited to the end proposed.”

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.It shall even be ... - This is a most striking figure representing the earnest desire of the Assyrian to possess the city of Jerusalem, and his utter disappointment. The comparison is elegant and beautiful in the highest degree. It is performed up to great perfection; and is perfectly suited to illustrate the object in view. The same image substantially is found in the classic writers; and this, says Lowth, may, for beauty and ingenuity, fairly come in competition with one of the most elegant of Virgil (greatly improved from Homer, "Iliad" xxii. 119), where he has applied to a different purpose, but not so happily, the same image of the ineffectual workings of the imagination in a dream:

Ac veluti in somnis oculos ubi languida pressit

Nocte quies, nequicquam avidos extendere cursus

Velle videmur, et in mediis conatibus aegri

Succidimus; non lingua valet, non corpore notae

Sufficiunt vires; nec, vox, nec verba scquuniur.

AEniad xii. 908.

And as when slumber seals the closing sight,

The sick wild fancy labors in the night,

Some dreadful visionary foe we shun,

With airy strides, but strive in vain to run;

In vain our baffled limbs their powers essay,

We faint, we struggle, sink, and fall away;

Drained of our strength we neither fight nor fly,


8. Their disappointment in the very height of their confident expectation of taking Jerusalem shall be as great as that of the hungry man who in a dream fancies he eats, but awakes to hunger still (Ps 73:20); their dream shall be dissipated on the fatal morning (Isa 37:36).

soul—simply his appetite: he is still thirsty.

His soul is empty; his appetite or desire (as the soul is taken, Psalm 41:4 78:18, and elsewhere) is unsatisfied. Or, his stomach or body (as the soul is used, Psalm 16:10) is empty.

So shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against Mount Zion; no less unsatisfied and unsatiable shall the enemies of the Jews be, with all the cruelties which they have committed against you; and they shall be always thirsting after more of your blood, as if they had never tasted any of it.

It shall be even as when a hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth,.... That is, he dreams of food, and imagines it before him, and that he is really eating it:

but he awaketh, and his soul is empty; his stomach is empty when he awakes, and he finds he has not ate anything at all:

or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh: who fancies that he has got a cup of liquor in his hand, and at his mouth, and is drinking it with a great deal of eagerness and pleasure:

but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite; when he awakes, he is not at all refreshed with his imaginary drinking, but still desires liquor to revive his fainting spirits, and extinguish his thirst:

so shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against Mount Zion; either shall quickly perish; or, having raised their expectations, and pleased themselves with the booty they should obtain, of which they thought themselves sure, shall find themselves mistaken, and all like an illusive dream. Some interpret this of the disappointment of Sennacherib's army; and others of the insatiable cruelty of the Chaldeans; but rather, if the above sense pleases not, it would be better to understand it of the Jews, who, amidst their greatest danger, flattered themselves with the hope of deliverance, which was all a dream and an illusion; and to which sense the following words seem to incline.

It shall even be as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, {g} he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite: so shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against mount Zion.

(g) That is, he thinks that he eats.

8. dreameth, and behold] The invariable formula in narrating a dream; Genesis 40:9; Genesis 40:16; Genesis 41:1 ff.; Daniel 2:31; Daniel 7:5-6.

his soul] the seat of appetite and desire: cf. Isaiah 5:14, Isaiah 32:6; Proverbs 6:30. A more vivid representation of utter disenchantment than this verse gives can scarcely be conceived.

Verse 8. - It shall be even as when an hungry man dreameth. The melting away of the vision would involve a keen disappointment. The enemies of Israel had expected to secure a most valuable prey. They had dreamed of a rich booty when they should take the city - a booty which would reward them for all the hardships of their marches, their watches, their toils in the siege, the dangers to which they exposed themselves in the assaults. It was as if a hungry man had dreamed that he was engaged in a feast, or a thirsty man that he was drinking deep at a banquet, when suddenly he wakes up, and finds that he has been merely dreaming, and that there is no reality in his fancies. Dr. Kay quotes a passage which is much to the point from Mungo Park's journals: "No sooner had I shut my eyes than fancy would convey me to the streams and rivers of my native land. There, as I wandered along the verdant bank, I surveyed the clear streams with transport, and hastened to swallow the delightful draught; but, alas! disappointment awaked me, and I found myself a lonely captive, perishing of thirst amid the wilds of Africa." Those engaged in the siege, while themselves vanishing away, would likewise find their dreams of plunder vanish, and Would bitterly feel the disappointment. That fight against Mount Zion. To attack Jerusalem was to fight against the mount of God, the place where Jehovah had "set his Name, "and where he condescended in some true sense to dwell continually. How could those who engaged in such an enterprise hope to succeed? Isaiah 29:8Thus far does the unfolding of the hoi reach. Now follows an unfolding of the words of promise, which stand at the end of Isaiah 29:1 : "And it proves itself to me as Ariel." Isaiah 29:5-8 : "And the multitude of thy foes will become like finely powdered dust, and the multitude of the tyrants like chaff flying away; and it will take place suddenly, very suddenly. From Jehovah of hosts there comes a visitation with crash of thunder and earthquake and great noise, whirlwind and tempest, and the blazing up of devouring fire. And the multitude of all the nations that gather together against Ariel, and all those who storm and distress Ariel and her stronghold, will be like a vision of the night in a dream. And it is just as a hungry man dreams, and behold he eats; and when he wakes up his soul is empty: and just as a thirsty man dreams, and behold he drinks; and when he wakes up, behold, he is faint, and his soul is parched with thirst: so will it be to the multitude of the nations which gather together against the mountain of Zion." The hostile army, described four times as hâmōn, a groaning multitude, is utterly annihilated through the terrible co-operation of the forces of nature which are let loose upon them (Isaiah 30:30, cf., Isaiah 17:13). "There comes a visitation:" tippâqēd might refer to Jerusalem in the sense of "it will be visited" in mercy, viz., by Jehovah acting thus upon its enemies. But it is better to take it in a neuter sense: "punishment is inflicted." The simile of the dream is applied in two different ways: (1.) They will dissolve into nothing, as if they had only the same apparent existence as a vision in a dream. (2.) Their plan for taking Jerusalem will be put to shame, and as utterly brought to nought as the eating or drinking of a dreamer, which turns out to be a delusion as soon as he awakes. Just as the prophet emphatically combines two substantives from the same verbal root in Isaiah 29:1, and two adverbs from the same verb in Isaiah 29:5; so does he place צבא and צבה together in Isaiah 29:7, the former with על relating to the crowding of an army for the purpose of a siege, the latter with an objective suffix (compare Psalm 53:6) to the attack made by a crowded army. The metsōdâh of Ariel (i.e., the watch-tower, specula, from tsūd, to spy)

(Note: In Arabic, also, masâd signifies a lofty hill or mountain-top, from a secondary form of tsud; and massara, to lay the foundations of a fortified city (‛ı̄r mâtsōr, Psalm 31:22), from tsūr.))

is the mountain of Zion mentioned afterwards in Isaiah 29:8. כּאשׁר, as if; comp. Zechariah 10:6; Job 10:19. אוכל והנּה without הוּא; the personal pronoun is frequently omitted, not only in the leading participial clause, as in this instance (compare Isaiah 26:3; Isaiah 40:19; Psalm 22:29; Job 25:2; and Khler on Zechariah 9:12), but also with a minor participial clause, as in Psalm 7:10; Psalm 55:20, and Habakkuk 2:10. The hungering and thirsting of the waking man are attributed to his nephesh (soul: cf., Isaiah 32:6; Isaiah 5:14; Proverbs 6:30), just because the soul is the cause of the physical life, and without it the action of the senses would be followed by no sensation or experience whatever. The hungry stomach is simply the object of feeling, and everything sensitive in the bodily organism is merely the medium of sensation or feeling; that which really feels is the soul. The soul no sooner passes out of the dreaming state into a waking condition, than it feels that its desires are as unsatisfied as ever. Just like such a dream will the army of the enemy, and that victory of which it is so certain before the battle is fought, fade away into nothing.

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