Isaiah 30:32
And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the LORD shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps: and in battles of shaking will he fight with it.
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(32) And in every place where the grounded staff . . .—It is not clear what meaning the English was intended to convey. Better, Wherever shall pass the destined rod (literally, the rod of foundation) which the Lord causes to fall upon him.

It shall be with tabrets and harps . . .i.e., at every stroke of God’s judgments upon Asshur Israel should raise its song of triumph with the timbrels and harps (or, perhaps, lutes), which were used by the people in their exultation after victory. So after Jephthah’s and David’s victories we have like processions (Judges 11:34; 1Samuel 18:6). Israel was to sing, as it were, its Te Deum over the fall of Assyria. So the long walls that connected Athens and the Piraeus were pulled down by the Spartans to the sound of music.

In battles of shaking will he fight with it.—Literally, battles of swinging, as marking the action of the warrior, who swings his sword rapidly to and fro, smiting his enemies at every stroke. The Hebrew pronoun for “it” is feminine, and has been referred by some critics to Jerusalem.

Isaiah 30:32. Where the grounded staff shall pass — Instead of משׂה מוסדה, the grounded, or founded staff, of which, he says, no one yet has been able to make any tolerable sense. Bishop Lowth, on the authority of two MSS, (one of them ancient,) reads משׂה מופרה, the staff of correction, which Le Clerc also supposes to be the true reading. The bishop, therefore, translates the clause thus: And it shall be, that wherever shall pass the rod of correction, which Jehovah shall lay heavily upon him, it shall be accompanied with tabrets and harps; that is, as the bishop explains it, “with every demonstration of joy and thanksgiving for the destruction of the enemy in so wonderful a manner: with hymns of praise, accompanied with musical instruments.” And in battles of shaking, &c. — Or, as it may be better rendered, in fierce or tremendous battles shall he, namely, the Lord, fight against them, that is, against the Assyrians.

30:27-33 God curbs and restrains from doing mischief. With a word he guides his people into the right way, but with a bridle he turns his enemies upon their own ruin. Here, in threatening the ruin of Sennacherib's army, the prophet points at the final and everlasting destruction of all impenitent sinners. Tophet was a valley near Jerusalem, where fires were continually burning to destroy things that were hurtful and offensive, and there the idolatrous Jews caused their children to pass through the fire to Moloch. This denotes the certainty of the destruction, as an awful emblem of the place of torment in the other world. No oppressor shall escape the Divine wrath. Let sinners then flee to Christ, seeking to be reconciled to Him, that they may be safe and happy, when destruction from the Almighty shall sweep away all the workers of iniquity.And in every place - Margin, 'Every passing of the rod founded.' Lowth renders it, 'Whenever shall pass the rod of correction.' The whole design of the passage is evidently to foretell the sudden destruction of the army of the Assyrians, and to show that this would be accomplished by the agency of God. The idea seems to be, that in all those places where the rod of the Assyrian would pass, that is, where he would cause devastation and desolation, there would be the sound of rejoicing with instruments of music when he should be overthrown.

The grounded staff - The word 'staff' here, or "rod," seems to refer to that by which the Assyrian smote the nations Isaiah 30:31; or rather perhaps the Assyrian king himself as a rod of correction in the hand of Yahweh (see Isaiah 10:5). The word rendered 'grounded' (מוסדה mûsâdâh) has given great perplexity to commentators. Lowth supposes it should be מוסרח ("correction"), according to a conjecture of Le Clerc. Two manuscripts also read it in the same way. But the authority from the MSS. is not sufficient to justify a change in the present Hebrew text. This word, which is not very intelligibly rendered 'grounded,' is derived from יסד yâsad, to "found, to lay the foundation of a building" Ezra 3:12; Isaiah 54:11; then to establish, to appoint, to ordain Psalm 104:8; Habakkuk 1:12. The idea here is, therefore, that the rod referred to had been "appointed, constituted, ordained" by God; that is, that the Assyrian had been designated by him to accomplish important purposes as a rod, or as a means of punishing the nations.

Shall pass - In his march of desolation and conquest.

Which the Lord shall lay upon him - Or rather, as it should be translated, 'upon which Yahweh should lay,' that is, the rod, meaning that in all those places where Yahweh should lay this appointed scourge there would be yet rejoicing.

It shall be with tabrets and harps - Those places where he had passed, and which he had scourged, would be filled with joy and rejoicing at his complete overthrow, and at their entire deliverance from the scourge. For a description of the tabret and harp, see the notes at Isaiah 5:12.

And in battles of shaking - In the Hebrew there is an allusion here to what is said in Isaiah 30:28, that he would 'sift,' that is, agitate or toss the nations as in a winnowing shovel.

Will he fight with it - Margin, 'Against them.' Yahweh would fight against the 'rod,' to wit, the Assyrian, and destroy him (see Isaiah 37:36).

32. grounded—rather, "decreed," "appointed" [Maurer].

staff—the avenging rod.

him—the Assyrian; type of all God's enemies in every age. Margin and Maurer construe, "Every passing through (infliction, Isa 28:15) of the appointed rod, which, &c., shall be with tabrets," that is, accompanied with joy on the part of the rescued peoples.

battles of shaking—that is, shock of battles (Isa 19:16; compare "sift … sieve," Isa 30:28).

with it—namely, Assyria.

The grounded staff, Heb. the founded rod; the judgment of God, which is frequently called a rod in Scripture, and may be here called a founded rod, or the rod of foundation, either because it was firmly established, and certainly to come, by God’s immutable purpose and appointment; or because the rod should not slightly touch him, and pass over him, but strike deep, and be fixed, and as it were grounded or founded in his flesh, and made to rest upon him, as it follows in the next clause.

Shall lay, Heb. shall cause to rest; which is contrary to the manner of God’s dealing with his people, upon whom he will not suffer the rod of the wicked to rest, Psalm 125:3.

Upon him; upon the Assyrian, mentioned in the foregoing verse.

It shall be with tabrets and harps: the sense is either,

1. Their destruction shall be celebrated by God’s people with joy, and music, and songs of praise. Or,

2. The victory shall be got, not by warlike instruments and achievements, but as it were by tabrets and harps; wherein he may possibly allude to the victory which Jehoshaphat got against Moab and Ammon, not by fighting; but only by singing and praising God with the voice, and with musical instruments, 2 Chronicles 20:19,21,27,28; God being pleased to fight for them by his own immediate power; which also was the case here, which made the people of God sing a triumph before the fight, Isaiah 37:22. In battles of shaking; or, with battles or fightings of shaking, to wit, of shaking of the hand, of which kind of shaking this Hebrew word is constantly used, such as are performed by the mere shaking of the hand; namely, by God’s shaking his hand against them, as he threatens to do against others, Isaiah 11:15 19:16, in which last place this very word is used, and in the former the verb from whence it comes. For that this shaking is an act of God seems more than probable, and from the following words, will he, i.e. God, as all understand it, fight against it. And so the sense of the place may be this, God will fight against them, and destroy them by his own hands. Will he, to wit, the Lord, who declareth himself to be the enemy of the Assyrian, both in the foregoing and following verses, fight with it; with the army of the Assyrians: or, according to the other Hebrew reading, with them; with the, Assyrians.

And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass,.... The storm before mentioned, the wrath and righteous judgment of God, founded upon his unalterable purposes and decrees; and, wherever it came, would fall with great weight, sink deep, stick fast, and remain fixed and sure, like a rod or staff fastened in the earth:

which the Lord shall lay upon him; or, "cause to rest upon him" (o); the Lord would lay his rod upon him, the Assyrian, and let it remain there, so that it should be a destroying rod or staff, as before; it should continue until it had done full execution, and utterly destroyed him. The Targum is,

"and there shall be every passage of their princes, and of their mighty ones, on whom the Lord shall cause to rest the vengeance of his power;''

and so the "grounded staff" may be understood of the Assyrian himself, that wherever he should be, this storm of vengeance should follow him, and rest upon him:

it shall be with tabrets and harps; the allusion is to the use of these in war; but, instead of these, no other music would be used at this time than what thunder, and rain, and hailstones made; unless this refers to the joy of God's people, upon the destruction of their enemies; so the Targum,

"with tabrets, and harps shall the house of Israel praise, because of the mighty war which shall be made for them among the people:''

see Revelation 15:2,

and in battles of shaking will he fight with it; the Assyrian camp; or as the Keri, or marginal reading, "with them": with the Assyrians, with the men of the camp; the soldiers, as Kimchi explains it; that is, the Lord will fight with them in battles, by shaking his hand over them in a way of judgment, and thereby shaking them to pieces, and utterly destroying them; see Revelation 19:11.

(o) "requiescere faciet", Pagninus, Montanus; "quiescere faciet", Cocceius.

And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, {d} which the LORD shall lay upon him, it shall be with {e} tabrets and harps: and in battles of shaking will he fight {f} with it.

(d) It will destroy.

(e) With joy and assurance of the victory.

(f) Against Babel, meaning the Assyrians and Babylonians.

32. The verse may be translated as in R.V. And every stroke of the appointed staff which the Lord shall lay upon him shall be with tabrets and harps; and in battles of shaking will he fight with them. The expression “grounded staff” is, however, barely intelligible; the emendation “staff of correction” (Proverbs 22:15) only replaces one singular expression by another, and is besides too easy to be worth much. The phrase “battles of shaking” is also difficult. “Battles of the swinging (of Jehovah’s rod)” is the construction usually put upon it, but the sense is rhetorically weak. The word for “shaking” is the technical term for the “wave offering” in the Law (e.g. Leviticus 7:30); hence Ewald renders “battles of wave-offering,” i.e. battles in which Assyria is devoted to destruction.

Verse 32. - In every place where the grounded staff shall pass, etc.; rather, and it shall come to pass that every stroke (literally, passage) of the destined rod which Jehovah causes to rest upon him shall be with an accompaniment of drums and citherns. Each blow dealt to Assyria shall rejoice her enemies, and cause them to break out into songs of praise, accompanied by the music of various instruments (comp. ver. 29; and see also Exodus 15:1-21). In battles of shaking; or, battles of swinging - "those in which Jehovah swings his rod, and deals (repeated) blows to his enemies" (Cheyne). Will he fight with it; rather, will he fight against her; i.e. against Assyria. Isaiah 30:32Israel is marching in such a joyful way to a sacred and glorious height, whilst outside Jehovah is sweeping the world-power entirely away, and that without any help from Israel. "And Jehovah causes His majestic voice to be heard, and causes the lowering of His arm to be seen, with the snorting of wrath and the blazing of devouring fire, the bursting of a cloud, and pouring of rain and hailstones. For Asshur will be terrified at the voice of Jehovah, when He smites with the staff. And it will come to pass, every stroke of the rod of destiny, which Jehovah causes to fall upon Asshur, is dealt amidst the noise of drums and the playing of guitars; and in battles of swinging arm He fights it. For a place for the sacrifice of abominations has long been made ready, even for the king is it prepared; deep, broad has He made it: its funeral-pile has fire and wood in abundance; the breath of Jehovah like a stream of brimstone sets it on fire." The imposing crash (on hōd, see Job 39:20) of the cry which Jehovah causes to be heard is thunder (see Psalm 29:1-11); for the catastrophe occurs with a discharge of all the destructive forces of a storm (see Isaiah 29:6). Nephets is the "breaking up" or "bursting," viz., of a cloud. It is through such wrath-announcing phenomena of nature that Jehovah manifests the otherwise invisible letting down of His arm to smite (nachath may possibly not be the derivative of nūăch, "settling down," but of nâchath, "the coming down," as in Psalm 38:3; just as shebheth in 2 Samuel 23:7 is not derived from shūbh, but from shâbhath, to go to ruin). Isaiah 30:31, commencing with ki (for), explains the terrible nature of what occurs, from the object at which it is directed: Asshur is alarmed at the voice of Jehovah, and thoroughly goes to pieces. We must not render this, as the Targum does, "which smites with the rod," i.e., which bears itself so haughtily, so tyrannically (after Isaiah 10:24). The smiter here is Jehovah (lxx, Vulg., Luther); and basshēbhet yakkeh is either an attributive clause, or, better still, a circumstantial determining clause, eo virga percutiente. According to the accents, vehâyâh in Isaiah 30:32 is introductory: "And it will come to pass, every stroke of the punishing rod falls (supply יהיה) with an accompaniment of drums and guitars" (the Beth is used to denote instrumental accompaniment, as in Isaiah 30:29; Isaiah 24:9; Psalm 49:5, etc.) - namely, on the part of the people of Jerusalem, who have only to look on and rejoice in the approaching deliverance. Mūsâdâh with mattēh is a verbal substantive used as a genitive, "an appointment according to decree" (comp. yâsad in Habakkuk 1:12, and yâ‛ad in Micah 6:9). The fact that drums and guitars are heard along with every stroke, is explained in Isaiah 30:32: "Jehovah fights against Asshur with battles of swinging," i.e., not with darts or any other kind of weapon, but by swinging His arm incessantly, to smite Asshur without its being able to defend itself (cf., Isaiah 19:16). Instead of בּהּ, which points back to Asshur, not to matteh, the keri has בּם, which is not so harsh, since it is immediately preceded by עליו. This cutting down of the Assyrians is accounted for in Isaiah 30:33, (ki, for), from the fact that it had long ago been decreed that they should be burned as dead bodies. 'Ethmūl in contrast with mâchâr is the past: it has not happened today, but yesterday, i.e., as the predestination of God is referred to, "long ago."

Tophteh is the primary form of tōpheth (from tūph, not in the sense of the Neo-Persian tâften, Zend. tap, to kindle or burn, from which comes tafedra, melting; but in the Semitic sense of vomiting or abhorring: see at Job 17:6), the name of the abominable place where the sacrifices were offered to Moloch in the valley of Hinnom: a Tophet-like place. The word is variously treated as both a masculine and feminine, possibly because the place of abominable sacrifices is described first as bâmâh in Jeremiah 7:31. In the clause הוּכן למּלך גּם־הוא, the gam, which stands at the head, may be connected with lammelekh, "also for the king is it prepared" (see at Job 2:10); but in all probability lammelekh is a play upon lammolekh (e.g., Leviticus 18:2), "even this has been prepared for the Melekh," viz., the king of Asshur. Because he was to be burned there, together with his army, Jehovah had made this Tophet-like place very deep, so that it might have a far-reaching background, and very broad, so that in this respect also there might be room for many sacrifices. And their medūrâh, i.e., their pile of wood (as in Ezekiel 24:9, cf., Ezekiel 24:5, from dūr, Talm. dayyēr, to lay round, to arrange, pile), has abundance of fire and wood (a hendiadys, like "cloud and smoke" in Isaiah 4:5). Abundance of fire: for the breath of Jehovah, pouring upon the funeral pile like a stream of brimstone, sets it on fire. בּ בּער, not to burn up, but to set on fire. בּהּ points back to tophteh, like the suffix of medurâthâh.

(Note: So far as the form of the text is concerned, kōl has the disjunctive yethib before pashta, which occurs eleven times according to the Masora. Nevertheless the word is logically connected in the closest manner with what follows (comp. 'ēth tōrath in Isaiah 5:24). The âh of mūsâdâh is rafatum pro mappicato, according to the Masora; in which case the suffix would refer to Asshur. In the place of הוא גם we also meet with היּא גם, with this chethib and keri reversed; but the former, according to which הוכן is equivalent to הוכנה, has many examples to support it in the Masora. הוכן has kametz in correct MSS in half pause; whereas Kimchi (Michlol, 117b) regards it as a participle.)

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