Isaiah 30:33
For Tophet is ordained of old; yes, for the king it is prepared; he has made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, does kindle it.
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(33) Tophet is ordained of old.—Literally, the Tophet, or place of burning, with perhaps the secondary sense of “a place of loathing.” Tophet was the name given to the Valley of Hinnom, outside Jerusalem, where, within the memory of living men, Ahaz had made his son to pass through the fire to Moloch (2Kings 16:3), and where like sacrifices had taken place up to the time of Hezekiah’s accession. “The king” is, of course, the king of Assyria; but the Hebrew, “for the melek,” suggests a sarcastic reference to the god there worshipped, as if it were “for Moloch.” There was to be a great sacrifice of the Melek to the Moloch, who was as a mighty king (the name of the Ammonite god being a dialectic form of the Hebrew Melek) exulting in his victims. (Comp. for the idea Isaiah 31:9.)

The pile thereof is fire and much wood.—The word seems partly literal, and partly figurative. The king of Assyria, though he did not die at Jerusalem, is represented as burnt with stately ceremonial in Tophet. Probably, as a matter of fact, it was the burial place of the corpses that were lying round the city after the pestilence had destroyed the Assyrian army, and they were literally burnt there. For such a Moloch funeral, making the valley of Hinnom then, as it afterwards became, a fit type of Gehenna, a trench deep and wide and a mighty pyre were needed. Comp. Jeremiah 19:12, where like words are spoken of Jerusalem.

Isaiah 30:33. For Tophet is ordained of old — “Tophet is a valley very near to Jerusalem, to the southeast, called also the valley of Hinnom, or Gehenna; where the Canaanites, and afterward the Israelites, sacrificed their children, by making them pass through the fire; that is, by burning them in the fire, to Moloch.” It is supposed to have been called Tophet, from the drums, timbrels, or tabrets, which sounded there, to drown the cries of the children thus inhumanly murdered: see notes on Leviticus 18:21; 2 Kings 23:10; and Joshua 15:8. Hence the word “is used for a place of punishment by fire, and by our Saviour in the gospel for hell-fire, as the Jews themselves had applied it.” As the place had been thus polluted by idolatry, Josiah, to render it as despicable and abominable as possible, ordered the filth of the city and dead carcasses to be thrown there, and made it a common burying-place. There also fires were kept continually burning, as the Jews say, to consume dead bodies, bones, and such sordid things. Vitringa justly observes, “that Tophet must be understood here, not in a literal, but in a figurative sense, for the place of punishment to be inflicted upon the Assyrians, by the burning indignation of God; in the same manner as gehenna denotes the place of punishment of the reprobate: that the fire and much wood denote the matter of the punishment destined for the king of Assyria and his army, as well with respect to its nature and effect, as its cause: see Revelation 19:20. The making the valley deep and large, signifies the same as the pile constructed of much wood; namely, the greatness of the destruction to be spread through the extensive army of the Assyrian; and indeed it was necessary this valley and this pile should be large, to contain one hundred and eighty-five thousand men. The meaning of the phrase, ordained of old, is, that God had absolutely fixed and determined this event. It was prepared for the king; whereby the prophet shows, that his army first, and Sennacherib himself afterward, should become obnoxious to the divine judgment. And the last phrase, the breath of the Lord, &c., alludes to the destroying angel, the executors of his judgment: see Isaiah 10:17. This is the literal interpretation of the words, wherein the prophet represents the Assyrian destruction as the type of that of all the enemies and persecutors of the church; and further, these destructions as a figure of the infernal fire, wherein the unbelieving and cruel persecutors of the church shall be tormented for ever, and which is said to be prepared for the devil and his angels,” Matthew 25:41. 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.For Tophet - The same idea is conveyed in this verse as in the preceding, but under another form, and with a new illustration. The sense is, that the army of the Assyrians would be completely destroyed, as if it were a large pile of wood in the valley of Hinnom that should be fired by the breath of God. The word (תפתה tâpeteh) with the ה (h) paragogic), denotes properly what causes loathing or abhorrence; that which produces disgust and vomiting (from the Chaldee תיף tūph to spit out); Job 17:6, 'I was an "abhorrence'" (תפת tôpheth), improperly rendered in our version, 'I was among them as a tabret.' The word occurs only in 2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 7:31-32; Jeremiah 19:6, Jeremiah 19:11, Jeremiah 19:13-14, and in this place. It is applied to a deep valley on the southeast of Jerusalem, celebrated as the seat of idolatry, particularly of the worship of Moloch. The name also of 'the valley of Hinnom' was given to it; and hence, the name "Gehenna" γέεννα geenna, Matthew 5:22, Matthew 5:29-30; Matthew 10:28; Matthew 18:9; Matthew 23:15, Matthew 23:33; Mark 9:43, Mark 9:45, Mark 9:47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6), as denoting the place of future torments, of which the valley of Hinnom, or Tophet, was a striking emblem.

This valley was early selected as the seat of the worship of Moloch, where his rites were celebrated by erecting a huge brass image with a hollow trunk and arms, which was heated, and within which, or on the arms of which, children were placed as a sacrifice to the horrid idol. To drown their cries, drums were beaten, which were called תף tôph, or תפים tôphiym, and many suppose the name Tophet was given to the place on this account (see 2 Kings 16:3; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Kings 23:10). The name 'valley of Hinnom,' or Gehenna, was probably from the former possessor or occupier of that name. In subsequent times, however, this place was regarded with deep abhorrence. It became the receptacle of all the filth of the city; and hence, in order to purify the atmosphere, and prevent contagion, it was needful to keep fires there continually burning. It was thus a most striking emblem of hell-fire, and as such is used in the New Testament. Hezekiah was firmly opposed to idolatry; and it is not improbable that he had removed the images of Moloch, and made that valley the receptacle of filth, and a place of abomination, and that the prophet refers to this tact in the passage before us.

Is ordained - Was fitted up, appointed, constituted. The prophet by a figure represents Hezekiah as having fitted up this place as if for the appropriate punishment of the Assyrians.

Of old - Margin, as in Hebrew, 'From yesterday.' This expression may mean simply 'formerly, some time since,' as in Exodus 4:10; 2 Samuel 3:17. The idea here seems to be, that Tophet had been formerly, or was already prepared as if for the destruction of Sennacherib and his army. His ruin would be as certain, and as sudden, "as if," in the valley of Tophet, the breath of Yahweh should set on fire the vast materials that had been collected, and were ready to be kindled. It does not mean that Tophet had actually been prepared "for" the army of Sennacherib; it does not mean that his army would actually be destroyed there - for it was on the other side of the city that they were cut off (see the notes at Isaiah 10:32); it does not mean that they would be consigned to hell-fire; but it means that that place had been fitted up as if to be an emblematic representation of his ruin; that the consuming fires in that valley were a striking representation of the sudden and awful manner in which the abhorred enemies of God would be destroyed.

For the king is prepared - For Hezekiah; as if the place had been fitted up for his use in order to consume and destroy his enemies. It is not meant that Hezekiah actually had this in view, but the whole language is figurative. It was as if that place had been fitted up by Hezekiah as a suitable place in which entirely to destroy his foes.

He hath made it deep and large - Vast; as if able to contain the entire army that was to be destroyed.

The pile thereof - The wood that was collected there to be consumed.

The breath of the Lord - As if Yahweh should breathe upon it, and enkindle the whole mass, so that it should burn without the possibility of being extinguished. The meaning is, that the destruction of the Assyrian would as really come from Yahweh as if he should, by his own agency, ignite the vast piles that were collected in the valley of Hinnom.

Like a stream of brimstone - Brimstone, or sulphur, is used in the Scriptures to denote a fire of great intensity, and one that cannot be extinguished Genesis 19:24; Psalm 11:6; Ezekiel 38:22; Revelation 9:17-18. Hence, it is used to denote the eternal torments of the wicked in hell Revelation 14:10; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 21:8.

Doth kindle it - The army of the Assyrians would be destroyed in a manner which would be well represented by Yahweh'S sending down upon a vast pile collected in the valley of Hinnom, a burning stream of sulphurous flame that should ignite and consume all before it (see the notes at Isaiah 37:36).

33. Tophet—literally, "A place of abomination"; the valley of the sons of Hinnom, southeast of Jerusalem, where Israel offered human sacrifices to Moloch by fire; hence a place of burning (2Ki 23:10; Jer 7:31). Latterly Gehinnom or Gehenna, that is, valley of Hinnom, was the receptacle of the refuse of the city, to consume which fires were constantly burning. Hence it came to express hell, the place of torment. In the former sense it was a fit place to symbolize the funeral pyre of the Assyrian army (not that it actually perished there); the Hebrews did not burn, but buried their dead, but the heathen Assyrians are to be burnt as a mark of ignominy. In the latter sense Tophet is the receptacle "prepared for the devil (antitype to the king, Isa 14:12-15) and his angels," and unbelieving men (Mt 5:22; 25:41; Mr 9:43, 44). Tophet was a place near Jerusalem, in which the idolatrous Israelites used cruelly to offer up their children to Moloch, 2 Chronicles 28:3 33:6; see also Jeremiah 7:31 19:6; and it may be put synecdochically for any place of torment or misery; and particularly it is put for hell, as well in the writings of the ancient Jewish doctors as in Holy Scripture, as Matthew 18:8,9 23:15 Mark 9:43,44. And so this place may be understood either,

1. Literally, of Tophet in the valley of Hinnom, in which the Assyrian host was either slain by the angel, as Josephus reports, or buried or burnt. For although the Assyrians did not make any great attempt upon Jerusalem, Isaiah 37:36, yet Rabshakeh came very near it with a great army, Isaiah 36:2. Or,

2. Figuratively, of hell. Is ordained; or, was ordered or prepared. And it might be said, in some sort, to be prepared by Hezekiah for this end, by the care which he took to purge this and other places abused to idolatry, which made them more fit to receive so great a favour mid deliverance from God. But for hell, that doubtless was ordained or prepared by God for the punishment of impenitent sinners.

Of old, Heb. from yesterday; which phrase is sometimes used of a time but lately past, as 2 Samuel 15:20 Job 8:9, and sometimes of any time past, without limitation.

For the king; for the king of Assyria; either,

1. For the kings, the singular number being put for the plural, whereby he may understand the princes or chief commanders of the host, by comparing Isaiah 10:8, Are not my princes altogether kings? Or,

2. For Rabshakeh, the general of this army, who, according to the style of Scripture, might very well be called king. Or,

3. Sennacherib, for whom this place might be said to be ordained or prepared, partly because it was ordained for the destruction of his host; nothing being more ordinary, both in sacred and profane writers, than to entitle the king or general of the army to all the victories procured, or losses or slaughter sustained, by his army; and partly because the sudden destruction of the Assyrian army, supposed to be in this place, was the occasion of the conspiracy of that king’s sons, and so of the king’s death. But if this Tophet design hell, this is emphatically denounced against him, to intimate, that although he escaped that sudden plague which cut off his army, yet there was a more terrible judgment appointed for him, which he should be utterly unable to escape. He; the Lord, who is oft designed by this pronoun, as in the next foregoing verse, and elsewhere; and who is expressed in the following words. Or it is an indefinite expression, for, it is made deep and large. Hath made it deep and large, capable of receiving vast numbers; whereby he intimates that he designed to make a great and general destruction of the Assyrians; and withal, that it was a vain and foolish confidence which the Assyrians had in their numerous host, seeing the greatest numbers of God’s enemies are wholly unable, either to oppose him, or to save themselves from his wrath and power. The pile thereof is fire and much wood; whereby he further implies that he intended to make a great slaughter among them. And he alludes in this phrase to the ancient custom, either of burning sacrifices, and particularly of burning children to Moloch, or of burning the dead bodies of men.

The breath of the Lord, the immediate hand of God, or his word of anger: See Poole "Isaiah 30:28".

Like a stream of brimstone; he seems to allude to that shower of fire and brimstone, Genesis 19:24.

Doth kindle it; the pile of fire and wood now mentioned. For Tophet is ordained of old,.... The place long ago appointed for the ruin of the Assyrian army, which pitched here: this was a valley near Jerusalem, the valley of the son of Hinnom; so called, from the drums and tabrets beat upon here, to prevent parents hearing the cries of their infants offered to Molech: into it was brought the filth and dung of the city; here malefactors were buried, it is said; and such as were condemned to burning were burned here; and such as had no burial were cast here; so that it was an image and picture of hell itself: and the word "Gehenna", used for hell, comes from "Gehinnom", or the valley of Hinnom, the name of this place; and some think that is here meant, which from all eternity was appointed as the place of torment for wicked men, So the Targum,

"for hell is ordained from the worlds (or before the worlds), because of their sins.''

It is in the original, "from yesterday": hence Jarchi interprets it of the second day of the creation, which had a yesterday; on which day the Jews suppose hell was made: and so it is interpreted in the Talmud (p), where it is said to be one of the seven things created before the world was, and is proved from this text; and said to be called Tophet, because whoever is deceived by his imagination (or evil concupiscence) falls into it; See Gill on Matthew 25:41 with this compare Jde 1:4,

yea, for the king it is prepared; for Sennacherib king of Assyria; that is, for his army, which perished here, though he did not; or for kings, the singular for the plural; for his princes, which, as he boastingly said, were "altogether kings", Isaiah 10:8 and particularly for Rabshakeh, the general of his army, who might be so called, and was eminently one of these kings. Understood of hell, it may not only be interpreted of Satan, the king and prince of devils, for whom and his angels the everlasting fire of hell is prepared, Matthew 25:41 but also of antichrist, the king of the bottomless pit, and of all antichristian kings; see Revelation 11:9. Some render it, "by the king it is prepared"; so the Vulgate Latin version; by whom may be meant either Hezekiah, who cleared it from idols and idolatrous worship, and so eventually prepared it to make room for the Assyrian army; or else the King of kings. So the Targum,

"the King of worlds (of all worlds) prepared it;''

and he seems manifestly designed in the next clause:

he hath made it deep and large; to hold the whole army alive, and to bury them when dead; and so hell is large and deep enough to hold Satan and all his angels, antichrist and all his followers; yea, all the wicked that have been from the beginning of the world, and will be to the end of it:

the pile thereof is fire and much wood; alluding to the burning of bodies in this place, and particularly of infants sacrificed to Molech; and refers to the burning of the Assyrian army, either by lightning from heaven, or by the Jews when they found them dead the next morning. In hell, the "fire" is the wrath of God; the "wood" or fuel ungodly men:

the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it; the pile of fire and wood. The Targum is,

"the word of the Lord, like an overflowing torrent of brimstone, shall kindle it;''

it shall be done by his order, at his word of command. In hell, the wrath of God will be like a continual stream of brimstone, keeping up the fire of it, so that it shall ever burn, and never be quenched; hence it is called a lake burning with fire and brimstone; into which Satan, the beast, and false prophet, and the worshippers of antichrist, will be cast, Revelation 14:10. The allusion is to the fire and brimstone rained by Jehovah, from Jehovah, upon Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 19:24.

(p) T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 54. 1. Nedarim, fol. 39. 2. & Erubim, fol. 19. 1.

For {g} Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the {h} king it is prepared; he hath made it {i} deep and large: the pile of it is fire and much wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.

(g) Here it is taken for hell, where the wicked are tormented, read 2Ki 23:10.

(h) So that their estate or degree cannot exempt the wicked.

(i) By these figurative speeches he declares the condition of he wicked after this life.

33. For Tophet is ordained of old] Render: For a burning-place is already laid out. Tophet is the name of a spot in the valley of the son of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where human sacrifices were offered to the god Melek or Molek (2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 7:31 f., Isaiah 19:6; Isaiah 19:13). According to Prof. Robertson Smith (Religion of the Semites, p. 377) the word was originally pronounced Těphath, and, like its equivalents in Aramaic and Arabic, meant simply “fireplace.” This view seems preferable to the common derivation, which explains it as a term of contempt (“spitting” Job 17:6); and it accounts for the generic sense which the word undoubtedly has in this passage (where, however, a bye-form tophteh is used). “The Tophet” was so-called because the most distinctive feature of the revolting rites there practised was the burning of the victims in a great pit dug in the ground, which constituted the “fireplace.”

yea, for the king it is prepared] lit. “even it is prepared for the king” (not “even for the king it is prepared”). The “king” might be either the king of Assyria, or the god “Melek” (Molech), or a play of words alluding to both. But a “witty allusion” in such a passage leads us to suspect the hand of a glossator. The objection to understanding it of the king of Assyria is that the emphasis rests on “it” and not on “the king.”

the pile thereof] Cf. Ezekiel 24:9. For “fire” some other word must have been used; perhaps “coals of fire” (נחלי omitted before אשׁ).Verse 33. - For Tophet is ordained of old; rather, for a Tophet has been long since prepared. A "Tophet" is a place of burning, probably derived from the Aryan root tap or taph, found in Greek τάφος τέφρα, Latin tep-idus, Sanskrit tap, Persian taphtan. The name was specially attached to a particular spot in the Valley of Hinnom, where sacrifices were offered to Moloch (2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 7:31; Jeremiah 19:6, 11, etc.); but Isaiah seems to use it generically, as if there were many Tophets. For the king it is prepared; literally, it also is prepared for the king - in the Hebrew "for the moloch," which is the same word as "Moloch," who was looked upon by his worshippers as "the king" ςκατς ἐξοχήν. Isaiah means to say, "As the Tophet of the Vale of Hinnom is prepared for a king (Moloch), so this new Tophet is prepared for another king (the King of Assyria)." He hath made it deep and large - a vast burning-place for a vast multitude (2 Kings 19:35), with the fire and the wood ready, only awaiting the breath of Jehovah to kindle it. As the bodies of great malefactors were burnt (Joshua 7:25), and not buried, so the prophet consigns to a great burning the hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrian corpses, of which it would soon be necessary to dispose in some way.

"Behold, the name of Jehovah cometh from far, burning His wrath, and quantity of smoke: His lips are full of wrathful foam, and His tongue like devouring fire. And His breath is like an overflowing brook, which reaches half-way to the neck, to sift nations in the sieve of nothingness; and a misleading bridle comes to the cheeks of the nations." Two figures are here melted together - namely, that of a storm coming up from the farthest horizon, which turns the sky into a sea of fire, and kindles whatever it strikes, so that there rises up a heavy burden, or thick mass of smoke (kōbhed massâ'âh, like mas'ēth in Judges 20:40, cf., Judges 20:38; on this attributive combination, burning His wrath (Ewald, 288, c) and a quantity, etc., see Isaiah 13:9); and that of a man burning with wrath, whose lips foam, whose tongue moves to and fro like a flame, and whose breath is a snorting that threatens destruction, which when it issues from Jehovah swells into a stream, which so far covers a man that only his neck appears as the visible half. We had the same figure in Isaiah 8:8, where Asshur, as it came upon Judah, was compared to such an almost overwhelming and drowning flood. Here, again, it refers to Judah, which the wrath of Jehovah had almost though not entirely destroyed. For the ultimate object of the advancing name of Jehovah (shēm, name, relating to His judicial coming) is to sift nations, etc.: lahănâphâh for lehânı̄ph (like lahăzâdâh in Daniel 5:20), to make it more like nâphâh in sound. The sieve of nothingness is a sieve in which everything, that does not remain in it as good corn, is given up to annihilation; שׁוא is want of being, i.e., of life from God, and denotes the fate that properly belongs to such worthlessness. In the case of v'resen (and a bridle, etc.) we must either supply in thought לשׂום (שׂם), or, what is better, take it as a substantive clause: "a misleading bridle" (or a bridle of misleading, as Bttcher renders it, math‛eh being the form mashqeh) holds the cheeks of the nations. The nations are regarded as wild horses, which could not be tamed, but which were now so firmly bound and controlled by the wrath of God, that they were driven down into the abyss.
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