Isaiah 29:9
Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry you out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.
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(9) Stay yourselves . . .—Better, Astonish yourselves. We can perhaps best understand the words by picturing to ourselves the prophet as preaching or reciting the previous prediction to his disciples and to the people. They are staggered, startled, incredulous, and he bursts into words of vehement reproof. The form of the verb implies that their astonished unbelief was self-caused. The change from the second person to the third implies that the prophet paused for a moment in his address to describe their state as an observer. Outwardly, they were as men too drunk to understand, but their drunkenness was not that of the “wineor the “strong drink” of the fermented palm-juice, in which, as in Isaiah 28:7, the prophet implies that they habitually indulged. Now their drunkenness was of another type.

Isaiah 29:9-10. Stay yourselves and wonder — The prophet, having described the temporal judgment coming on the Jews, (see the contents of the chapter,) proceeds now to predict the spiritual one, the first gradation of which is contained in these and the two following verses, which both describe the judgment and the consequence of it. It is the same with that predicted Isaiah 6:9-12; and Isaiah 8:14-15. On which see the notes. Hebrew, התמהמהו ותמהו, Pause and be astonished. Stop and consider the stupidity of this people, and you cannot but wonder at it. Cry ye out, and cry — Through amazement and horror. They are drunken, but not with wine — But with stupidity and folly, which makes them, like drunken men, insensible of their danger, and not knowing what to do. For the Lord hath poured out upon you — Hath suffered to come upon you, in a way of righteous judgment, and as a punishment for your loving, darkness rather than light; the spirit of deep sleep — Hardness of heart, and insensibility of your danger and misery. The prophets and your rulers — Your magistrates and ministers, whose blindness and stupidity are a great curse to the people; hath he covered — Permitted to be covered with the veil of ignorance and stupidity; that is, he hath withdrawn his abused light and grace from them, so that they no more see things in a true light than if a thick veil were spread over them. The prophets and seers here mean the same persons.29:9-16 The security of sinners in sinful ways, is cause for lamentation and wonder. The learned men, through prejudice, said that the Divine prophecies were obscure; and the poor urged their want of learning. The Bible is a sealed book to every man, learned or unlearned, till he begins to study it with a simple heart and a teachable spirit, that he may thence learn the truth and the will of God. To worship God, is to approach him. And if the heart be full of his love and fear, out of the abundance of it the mouth will speak; but there are many whose religion is lip-labour only. When they pretend to be speaking to God, they are thinking of a thousand foolish things. They worship the God of Israel according to their own devices. Numbers are only formal in worship. And their religion is only to comply with custom, and to serve their own interest. But the wanderings of mind, and defects in devotion, which are the believer's burden, are very different from the withdrawing of the heart from God, so severely blamed. And those who make religion no more than a pretence, to serve a turn, deceive themselves. And as those that quarrel with God, so those that think to conceal themselves from him, in effect charge him with folly. But all their perverse conduct shall be entirely done away.Stay yourselves - Thus far the prophet had given a description of the siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib, and of his sudden overthrow. He now turns to the Jews, and reproves their stupidity, formality, and hypocrisy; and the remainder of the chapter is occupied with a statement of the prevalence of these sins, of the judgments that must follow, and of the fact that there should yet be an extensive reformation, and turning to the Lord. The word rendered 'stay yourselves' (התמהמהוּ hı̂temahemehû) means properly "to linger," tarry, delay Genesis 19:16; Genesis 43:10; 2 Samuel 15:28. Here it seems to denote that state of mind in which anyone is "fixed in astonishment;" in which one stops, and stares at some strange and unexpected occurrence. The object of amazement which the prophet supposes would excite astonishment, was the stupidity, dulness, and hypocrisy of a people who had been so signally favored (compare Habakkuk 1:5).

Cry ye out, and cry - There is in the original here a paronomasia which cannot be conveyed in a translation. The word which is used (השׁתעשׁעוּ hı̂sheta‛ashe‛û) is one form of the verb שׁעע shâ‛a‛, which means, usually, to make smooth, rub, spread over; hence, in the Hithpael form which is used here, to be spread over; and hence, is applied to the eyes Isaiah 6:10, to denote blindness, as if they were overspread with something by reason of which they could not see. Here it probably means, 'be ye dazzled and blinded,' that is, ye be astonished, as in the former part of the verse. The idea seems to be that of some object of sudden astonishment that dims the sights and takes away all the powers of vision. The word is used in the same sense in Isaiah 32:3; compare Isaiah 35:5; Isaiah 42:19. Probably the idea here would be well expressed by our word "stare," 'stare and look with a stupid surprise;' denoting the attitude and condition of a man who is amazed at some remarkable and unlooked for spectacle.

They are drunken, but not with wine - The people of Jerusalem. They reel and stagger, but the cause is not that they are drunken with wine. It is a moral and spiritual intoxication and reeling. They err in their doctrines and practice; and it is with them as it is with a drunken man that sees nothing clearly or correctly, and cannot walk steadily. They have perverted all doctrines; they err in their views of God and his truth, and they are irregular and corrupt in their conduct.

9. Stay—rather, "Be astounded"; expressing the stupid and amazed incredulity with which the Jews received Isaiah's announcement.

wonder—The second imperative, as often (Isa 8:9), is a threat; the first is a simple declaration of a fact, "Be astounded, since you choose to be so, at the prophecy, soon you will be amazed at the sight of the actual event" [Maurer].

cry … out … cry—rather, "Be ye blinded (since you choose to be so, though the light shines all round you), and soon ye shall be blinded" in good earnest to your sorrow [Maurer], (Isa 6:9, 10).

not with wine—but with spiritual paralysis (Isa 51:17, 21).

ye … they—The change from speaking to, to speaking of them, intimates that the prophet turns away from them to a greater distance, because of their stupid unbelief.

Stay yourselves, and wonder; pause upon it, and you will see cause to wonder at the stupidity of this people, of which he is now about to speak. He directeth his speech, either to the religious part of the people, or to those particular persons who heard him when he delivered this prophecy.

Cry ye out, and cry; cry out again and again, either in way of supplication for them; or rather through astonishment and horror. Or, they take pleasure or sport themselves, (as this word most commonly signifies,) and riot; in the midst of all these threatenings and dangers, they are secure, and give up themselves to sensuality; which is matter of just wonder.

They are drunken, but not with wine; but either,

1. With drinking the cup of God’s fury, wherewith they are said to be made drunk, Isaiah 51:17,20. And then, they are drunk, is put for, they shall be drunk, after the manner of the prophets. Or,

2. With the spirit of giddiness or stupidity, which makes them like drunken men, insensible of their danger, and not knowing what to do. Stay yourselves, and wonder,.... Stop a while, pause a little, consider within yourselves the case and circumstances of these people, and wonder at their stupidity. Kimchi thinks these words were spoken in the times of Ahaz, with respect to the men of Judah; and so Aben Ezra says, they are directed to the men of Zion; and it is generally thought that they are spoken to the more religious and sober part of them; though, by the following verse Isaiah 29:10, it appears that the case was general, and that the people to whom this address is made were as stupid as others:

cry ye out, and cry; or, "delight yourselves" (s), as in the margin; take your pleasure, indulge yourselves in carnal mirth, gratify your sensual appetite in rioting and wantonness, and then "cry" and lament, as you will have reason to do. Kimchi says, his father rendered the words, "awake yourselves, and awake others"; that is, from that deep sleep they were fallen into, afterwards mentioned:

they are drunken, but not with wine; not with that only, for otherwise many of them were given to drunkenness in a literal sense, Isaiah 28:7 but they were like drunken men, as stupid, senseless, and secure, though in the utmost danger:

they stagger, but not with strong drink; unsteady in their counsels and resolutions, in their principles and practices, and stumble in their goings.

(s) "oblectate vos", Cocceius; "delicias agunt", Junius & Tremellius; "deliciantur", Piscator.

{h} Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunk, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.

(h) Muse on this a long as ye like, yet you will find nothing but opportunity to be astonished for your prophets are blind, and therefore cannot direct you.

9. Stay yourselves, and wonder] Rather (as R.V. marg.), Be ye amazed and wonder. The first verb is of uncertain derivation. Probably both express the idea of astonishment. Cheyne (Comm.) rendered: “astonish yourselves and be astonished.”

cry ye out, and cry] Render: Blind yourselves and be blind. The root of both verbs is that used in ch. Isaiah 6:10 of “smearing” the eyes: the doom then threatened is now being fulfilled.

they are drunken … they stagger] These perfects should probably be pointed and translated as imperatives; “be drunken” (so the LXX.).

9–12. The people meet their doom in a state of spiritual stupor, unobservant of Jehovah’s work, and heedless of the warnings given to them.Verses 9-12. - NEITHER WARNING NOR PROMISE COMPREHENDED BY THOSE TO WHOM THEY HAVE BEEN ADDRESSED, "Who hath believed our report?" says the prophet in another place (Isaiah 53:1), "and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" It was among the most painful circumstances attaching to the prophetical office, that scarcely ever was the prophet held in any esteem among his own people, or in his own lifetime. Isaiah knows that his warning will fall dead - that the people and their rulers have neither "eyes to see" nor "ears to hear." He places on record this knowledge, while at the same time striving if by any means he may arouse some from their condition of dull apathy. Verse 9. - Stay yourselves, and wonder; rather, stand stupefied and be astonished. The prophet bids them act as he knows that they will act. They will simply "stare with astonishment" at a prophecy which will seem to them "out of all relation to facts" (Cheyne). They will not yield it the slightest credence. They will only marvel how a sane man could have uttered such egregious folly. Cry ye out, and cry. Delitzsch and Mr. Cheyne translate, "Blind yourselves, and be blind," which certainly gives a much better sense, and is justified by the use of the same verb in Isaiah 6:10. As Pharaoh began by hardening his own heart, and then God hardened it ('Pulpit Commentary' on Exodus, pp. 103, 166, 203, etc.), so those who blind their own eyes, and will not see when they have the power, are, in the end, if they persist, judicially blinded by God. They are drunken, but not with wine. "The drunkards of Ephraim" (Isaiah 28:3) were such literally. They "erred through strong drink" (Isaiah 28:7); they "were swallowed up of wine;" but the case was different with the infatuated ones of Judah. They were morally, not physically, intoxicated. Their pride and self-trust rendered them as irrational and as unimpressionable as ever drunkenness rendered any man; but they were not actual drunkards. The prophecy here passes from the fall of Samaria, the crown of flowers (Isaiah 28:1-4), to its formal parallel. Jerusalem takes its place by the side of Samaria, the crown of flowers, and under the emblem of a hearth of God. 'Arı̄'ēl might, indeed, mean a lion of God. It occurs in this sense as the name of certain Moabitish heroes (2 Samuel 23:20; 1 Chronicles 11:22), and Isaiah himself used the shorter form אראל for the heroes of Judah (Isaiah 33:7). But as אריאל (God's heart, interchanged with הראל htiw degna, God's height) is the name given in Ezekiel 43:15-16, to the altar of burnt-offering in the new temple, and as Isaiah could not say anything more characteristic of Jerusalem, than that Jehovah had a fire and hearth there (Isaiah 31:9); and, moreover, as Jerusalem the city and community within the city would have been compared to a lioness rather than a lion, we take אריאל in the sense of ara Dei (from ארה, to burn). The prophet commences in his own peculiar way with a grand summary introduction, which passes in a few gigantic strides over the whole course from threatening to promise. Isaiah 29:1 "Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the castle where David pitched his tent! Add year to year, let the feasts revolve: then I distress Ariel, and there is groaning and moaning; and so she proves herself to me as Ariel." By the fact that David fixed his headquarters in Jerusalem, and then brought the sacred ark thither, Jerusalem became a hearth of God. Within a single year, after only one more round of feasts (to be interpreted according to Isaiah 32:10, and probably spoken at the passover), Jehovah would make Jerusalem a besieged city, full of sighs (vahătsı̄qōthı̄, perf. cons., with the tone upon the ultimate); but "she becomes to me like an Arı̄el," i.e., being qualified through me, she will prove herself a hearth of God, by consuming the foes like a furnace, or by their meeting with their destruction at Jerusalem, like wood piled up on the altar and then consumed in flame. The prophecy has thus passed over the whole ground in a few majestic words. It now starts from the very beginning again, and first of all expands the hoi. Isaiah 29:3, Isaiah 29:4 "And I encamp in a circle round about thee, and surround thee with watch-posts, and erect tortoises against thee. And when brought down thou wilt speak from out of the ground, and thy speaking will sound low out of the dust; and thy voice cometh up like that of a demon from the ground, and thy speaking will whisper out of the dust." It would have to go so far with Ariel first of all, that it would be besieged by a hostile force, and would lie upon the ground in the greatest extremity, and then would whisper with a ghostlike softness, like a dying man, or like a spirit without flesh and bones. Kaddūr signifies sphaera, orbis, as in Isaiah 22:18 and in the Talmud (from kâdar equals kâthar; cf., kudur in the name Nabu-kudur-ussur, Nebo protect the crown, κίδαριν), and is used here poetically for סביב. Jerome renders it quasi sphaeram (from dūr, orbis). מצּב (from נצב, יצב) might signify "firmly planted" (Luzzatto, immobilmente; compare shūth, Isaiah 2:7); but according to the parallel it signifies a military post, like מצּב, נציב. Metsurōth (from mâtsōr, Deuteronomy 20:20) are instruments of siege, the nature of which can only be determined conjecturally. On 'ōbh, see Isaiah 8:19;

(Note: The 'akkuubh mentioned there is equivalent to anbûb, Arab. a knot on a reed stalk, then that part of such a reed which comes between two knots, then the reed stalk itself; root נב, to rise up, swell, or become convex without and concave within (Fl.). It is possible that it would be better to trace 'ōbh back to this radical and primary meaning of what is hollow (and therefore has a dull sound), whether used in the sense of a leather-bag, or applied to a spirit of incantation, and the possessor of such a spirit.)

there is no necessity to take it as standing for ba‛al 'ōbh.

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