Because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The palaces shall be forsaken.—With a bold pencil and rapid strokes the picture of desolation is sketched in outline. The forts are those of Ophel (so in Heb.), the fortified south-eastern slope of the Temple mountain; the towers, probably such as “the tower of the flock,” mentioned in conjunction with Ophel in Micah 4:8. These would serve as dens for the wild asses, which commonly roved in the open country.1 Kings 16:18; Isaiah 25:2; Jeremiah 30:18; Amos 1:4, Amos 1:7, Amos 1:10, Amos 1:12).
The forts - Margin, 'Cliffs and watch-towers.' Hebrew, עפל ‛opel. This word properly denotes a hill or a cliff, such as is an advantageous situation for fortresses. It is translated in Micah 4:8, 'the stronghold;' in 2 Kings 5:24, 'the tower;' in 2 Chronicles 27:3; 2 Chronicles 30:14; Nehemiah 3:27; Nehemiah 11:21, 'Ophel.' With the article (the hill) it was given, by way of eminence, to a bluff or hilt lying northeast of mount Zion, and south of mount Moriah, which was surrounded and fortified with a wall (Jos. Jewish Wars, vi. 6). It extends south from mount Moriah, running down to the fountain of Siloam, lying between the valley of Jehoshaphat on the east, and the Tyropeon or valley of Cheesemongers on the west. It terminates over the pool of Siloam in a steep point of rock forty or fifty feet high. The top of the ridge is flat, and the ground is now tilled, and planted with olive and other fruit trees (see Robinson's Bib. Researches, vol. i. pp. 341, 394). It may be used here, however, to denote a hill or cliff, a strongly-fortified place in general, without supposing of necessity that it refers to the mountain in Jerusalem.
Towers - Towers were erected on the walls of cities at convenient distances for purposes of observation.
Shall be for dens - Shall become places where banditti and robbers may abide, and secure themselves.
Forever - This is evidently one instance in which the word 'forever' (עד־עולם ‛ad-‛ôlâm), denotes a long time, because in the verse When the word is used without any suet limitation, it denotes proper eternity
multitude … left—the noisy din of the city, that is, the city with its noisy multitude shall lie forsaken [Maurer].
forts—rather, "Ophel" (that is, the mound), the term applied specially to the declivity on the east of Zion, surrounded with its own wall (2Ch 27:3; 33:14; 2Ki 5:24), and furnished with "towers" (or watchtowers), perhaps referred to here (Ne 3:26, 27).
for ever—limited by thee, "until," &c., Isa 32:15, for a long time.The palaces, Heb. the palace; the king’s house, and other magnificent buildings in the city.
Shall be left; or rather, shall be forsaken, to wit, of God, and given up into their enemies’ hands. And the verb in the foregoing clause may be rendered, shall be left.
A joy of wild asses; desolate places, in which wild asses delight to be, Job 39:5,6 Jer 2:24. Matthew 23:38,
the multitude of the city shall be left; to take care of themselves, and to the fury of their enemies, their princes and nobles being killed or fled; or, "the city shall be left of the multitude" (p); the multitude of inhabitants that were in it shall forsake it, and flee, or be destroyed in it, so that few or none shall remain:
the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever; Ophel and Bachan, which some take to be the names of two towers of Jerusalem; of Ophel we read in 2 Chronicles 27:3 but rather these intend in general the high towers and strong fortifications of Jerusalem, which being cut out of rocks, when demolished served for dens for thieves and robbers, and wild creatures; and this being "for ever", that is, for a very long time, shows that it cannot be applied to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, and the seventy years' captivity; but it is to be understood of the last destruction, which continues unto this day:
a joy of wild asses; which delight in wild and desert places; see Job 39:5.
a pasture of flocks; where flocks of sheep feed, instead of being inhabited by men. Jarchi's note is pretty remarkable,
"for the desire, or at the will, of the Ishmaelites, and for the feeding of the Grecians, and their army;''
and certain it is that Jerusalem now is in the hands of the Ishmaelites, or Turks. The Targum is,
"the place which was a house of joy and gladness for kings is now become a spoil for armies.''Because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)14. Render: For the palace is forsaken, the tumult of the city is a solitude (as in ch. Isaiah 6:12), &c. The tenses are prophetic perfects.
the forts and towers] Better as in R.V.: the hill and the watch tower. The first word is ‘Ophel, the name of the southern projection of the hill on which the temple stood (Nehemiah 3:26 f., Nehemiah 11:21; 2 Chronicles 27:3; 2 Chronicles 33:14), and is doubtless mentioned as the aristocratic quarter of the city, near the royal palace. The word translated “watch tower” occurs nowhere else, and is of uncertain significance; probably, like Ophel, it denotes a particular locality in the capital.
The phrase for ever must be understood in a relative sense, being restricted by the “until” of Isaiah 32:15.
The verse contains an absolute and explicit prediction of the complete overthrow of Jerusalem. Dillmann’s assertion that such an expectation must have been expressed in different language is inexplicable, and his distinction between destruction and desolation is sophistical. Surprising as this idea may be alongside of certain passages in this section of the book, it is not to be explained away, and after all it does not go very much beyond what is said in ch. Isaiah 29:4. For a complete parallel, however, we must go back to the early prophecy of ch. Isaiah 5:14; Isaiah 5:17.Verse 14. - The palaces shall be forsaken; literally, the palace; but the word is used in a generic sense. The prophet sees in vision Jerusalem deserted by her inhabitants, the grand houses of the rich empty, the strongholds haunted by wild beasts, and the slopes of the hills fed on by sheep, and even occasionally visited by the timid and solitude-loving wild ass. The description suits well the time of the Babylonian captivity, but not any earlier period. Probably it was not revealed to the prophet how soon the condition would be reached. The multitude of the city shall be left. The real meaning is, as Bishop Lowth expresses it, "The populous city shall be left desolate." But the whole passage is. as Delitzsch observes, "grammatically strange, the language becoming more complicated, disjointed, and difficult, the greater the wrath and indignation of the poet." The forts and towers; rather, hill and tower, with (perhaps) a special reference to the part of Jerusalem called Ophel (2 Chronicles 27:3; Nehemiah 3:26, etc.), the long projecting spur from the eastern hill, which points a little west of south, and separates the Kedron valley from the Tyropoeon. Shall be for dens; literally, for caves; but dens for wild beasts seem to be meant (comp. Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 34:14; Jeremiah 50:39). For ever. This expression must not be pressed. Hyperbole is a recognized feature of poetry written under strong excitement. A joy of wild asses. The wild ass is not now found nearer Palestine than Mesopotamia, or perhaps Northern Syria. It is exceedingly shy, and never approaches the habitations of men. Job 34:19. The prophet explains for himself in what sense he uses the words nâbhâl and kı̄lai. We see from his explanation that kı̄lai neither signifies the covetous, from kūl (Saad.), nor the spendthrift, from killâh (Hitzig). Jerome gives the correct rendering, viz., fraudulentus; and Rashi and Kimchi very properly regard it as a contraction of nekhı̄lai. It is an adjective form derived from כּיל equals נכיל, like שׂיא equals נשׂיא (Job 20:6). The form כּלי in Isaiah 32:1 is used interchangeably with this, merely for the sake of the resemblance in sound to כּליו (machinatoris machinae pravae). In Isaiah 32:6, commencing with ki (for), the fact that the nâbhâl (fool) and kı̄lai (crafty man) will lose their titles of honour, is explained on the simple ground that such men are utterly unworthy of them. Nâbhâl is a scoffer at religion, who thinks himself an enlightened man, and yet at the same time has the basest heart, and is a worthless egotist. The infinitives with Lamed show in what the immorality ('âven) consists, with which his heart is so actively employed. In Isaiah 32:6, ūbhedabbēr ("and if he speak") is equivalent to, "even in the event of a needy man saying what is right and well founded:" Vâv equals et in the sense of etiam ((cf., 2 Samuel 1:23; Psalm 31:12; Hosea 8:6; Ecclesiastes 5:6); according to Knobel, it is equivalent to et quidem, as in Ecclesiastes 8:2; Amos 3:11; Amos 4:10; whereas Ewald regards it as Vav conj. (283, d), "and by going to law with the needy," but את־אביון would be the construction in this case (vid., 2 Kings 25:6). According to Isaiah 32:8, not only does the noble man devise what is noble, but as such (הוּא) he adheres to it. We might also adopt this explanation, "It is not upon gold or upon chance that he rises;" but according to the Arabic equivalents, qūm signifies persistere here.
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