Isaiah 32:15
Until the spirit be poured on us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.
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(15) Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high . . .—There was, then, a fixed limit of the desolation then described. Isaiah dwelt, as Joel (Joel 2:28) had dwelt before him, on the outpouring of the Spirit which should sweep away the frivolities of a profligate luxury and lead to a nobler life. The effect of that outpouring is described in symbolic language which had been used before (see Note on Isaiah 29:17), the “wilderness” taking the place of Lebanon.

Isaiah 32:15. Until the Spirit be poured upon us, &c. — And this calamity shall, in a manner, continue until the time come in which God will pour, or, as יערה, properly signifies, reveal, that is, evidently and plentifully confer his Spirit upon his people. Which was done, in some sort, upon their return from Babylon, when God, by his Spirit, moved Cyrus to give them liberty of returning to Jerusalem, and the people to return and build the city and temple. But it was far more clearly and fully accomplished in the days of the Messiah, when God’s Spirit was in a most evident and glorious manner poured forth upon the apostles and other believing Jews, to the astonishment of their very adversaries; and when the following promises were, in a good measure, fulfilled, and are more fully to be accomplished in God’s due time. And the wilderness be a fruitful field — Which expressions are to be understood allegorically of the conversion of the Gentile nations, which had been long barren, and of the rejection of the Jews in the time of the Messiah. See on Isaiah 29:17.32:9-20 When there was so much provocation given to the holy God, bad times might be expected. Alas! how many careless ones there are, who support self-indulgence by shameful niggardliness! We deserve to be deprived of the supports of life, when we make them the food of lusts. Let such tremble and be troubled. Blessed times shall be brought in by the pouring out of the Spirit from on high; then, and not till then, there will be good times. The present state of the Jews shall continue until a more abundant pouring out of the Spirit from on high. Peace and quietness shall be found in the way and work of righteousness. True satisfaction is to be had only in true religion. And real holiness is real happiness now, and shall be perfect happiness, that is, perfect holiness for ever. The good seed of the word shall be sown in all places, and be watered by Divine grace; and laborious, patient labourers shall be sent forth into God's husbandry.Until the Spirit - The Spirit of God, as the source of all blessings, and especially as able to meet and remove the ills of the long calamity and desolation. This evidently refers to some future period, when the evils which the prophet was contemplating would be succeeded by the spread of the true religion. If the prophet meant to confine his description of calamities to those which would attend the invasion of Sennacherib, then this refers to the piety and prosperity which would prevail after that during the reign of Hezekiah. If he designed, as Lowth supposes, to describe the calamites which would attend the invasion of the Chaldeans and the desolation of the city of Jerusalem during the captivity, then this refers to the prosperous times that would occur after their return to their own land. And if he looked forward beyond even that, then this refers to the times of the Messiah also, and he designed to describe the happy period when the Messiah should have come, and when the Spirit should be poured out. Vitringa supposes that all three of these events are referred to. But although the expressions are such as are used in reference to the times of the Messiah, yet the word 'until' seems to limit the prediction to some event previous to that. The plain sense of the passage is, that the city would lie waste, and would be a pasture for flocks, until the Spirit should be poured out; that is, would lie waste a long time, and then be succeeded by the merciful interposition of God restoring them to their land and privileges. This idea would seem to limit it. at the utmost, to the return from Babylon.

Be poured out - This is a common and usual mode of indicating that the influences of the Spirit of God would be imparted Isaiah 44:3; Ezekiel 39:29; Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:17-18.

From on high - From heaven (compare Luke 24:49).

And the wilderness be a fruitful field - Until that change shall come when the places that are desolate shall become fertile, and the places which are now fertile and prosperous shall become desolate and barren. This may refer to the time when Jerusalem, that would have lain so long waste, would be again inhabited and cultivated, and when Babylon, then so prosperous, would become desolate and ruined. The expression has a proverbial cast and denotes change and revolution (see the note at Isaiah 29:17).

15. This can only partially apply to the spiritual revival in Hezekiah's time; its full accomplishment belongs to the Christian dispensation, first at Pentecost (Joe 2:28; Ac 2:17), perfectly in coming times (Ps 104:30; Eze 36:26; 39:29; Zec 12:10), when the Spirit shall be poured on Israel, and through it on the Gentiles (Mic 5:7).

wilderness … fruitful field … forest—when Judea, so long waste, shall be populous and fruitful, and the land of the enemies of God shall be desolate. Or, "the field, now fruitful, shall be but as a barren forest in comparison with what it shall be then" (Isa 29:17). The barren shall become fruitful by regeneration; those already regenerate shall bring forth fruits in such abundance that their former life shall seem but as a wilderness where no fruits were.

Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high: and this calamity and desolation shall, in a manner, continue until the time come, in which God will pour, or, as the Hebrew word properly signifies, reveal, i.e. evidently and plentifully pour out, his Spirit from heaven upon his people; which was done in some sort upon the return of the people from Babylon, when God, by his Spirit, stirred up the spirit, both of Cyrus to give them liberty of returning to Jerusalem, and of the people to return and build the city and temple; but was far more clearly and fully accomplished in the days of the Messiah. And indeed the promises contained in these and the following words and verses were not fulfilled upon their coming out of Babylon, after which time they had but a little reviving in their bond. age, as is said, Ezra 9:8, and continued in servitude and distress under the Persian emperors, Nehemiah 9:36,37, and afterward suffered many and grievous calamities from the kings of Syria and Egypt, and from the Romans; which suits very ill with that glorious promise here following, Isaiah 32:18. And therefore these promises concern the times of the gospel, when God’s Spirit was in a most evident and glorious manner poured forth upon the apostles, and other believing Jews, to the astonishment of their very adversaries; and when the following promises were in a good measure fulfilled, and are more fully to be accomplished in God’s due time.

The wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest; which is allegorically understood. The meaning may be this; God’s people, who were desolate and destroyed, shall be revived and flourish, and their flourishing enemies shall be brought to desolation and destruction. It may also signify the conversion of the barren and despised Gentiles, and the rejection of the Jews, in the time of the Messiah. Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high,.... That is, Jerusalem shall lie in ruins until this time comes; which therefore cannot be understood of the effusion of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, which, as it was before the destruction of the city by the Romans, so the desolation it was brought to by the Chaldeans did not last so long; but must be interpreted of a pouring forth of the Spirit in his gifts and graces yet to come, which will bring on the fulness of the Gentiles, and the conversion of the Jews, and till that time comes Jerusalem will continue in a ruinous condition; the sense is the same with that of Luke 21:24 "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled". The Targum of the place is,

"until refreshing comes to us from the face of him, whose Shechinah, or Majesty, is in the highest heavens;''

with which may be compared Acts 3:19,

and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest; this will be the consequence, fruit, and effect of the effusion of the Spirit in the latter day; that such parts of the world as were like a wilderness, barren and unfruitful, producing nothing but the briers and thorns of impiety, infidelity, superstition, and idolatry, should now become like a fruitful field; the Gospel being now preached everywhere, multitudes of souls converted, churches raised and formed, and these filled with such as were laden with the fruits of righteousness; and such places where the Gospel had been preached and professed, and where churches had been planted, and there were some good degree of fruitfulness in word and works, now should be abundantly more fruitful, and the professors of religion more numerous, and look more like a forest, for number of trees, than a field. Kimchi says this whole paragraph shall be accomplished in the days of the Messiah.

Until the {k} spirit shall be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness shall be a fruitful field, and the {l} fruitful field shall be counted for a forest.

(k) That is, when the Church will be restored, thus the prophets after they have denounced God's judgments against the wicked, used to comfort the godly, lest they should faint.

(l) The field which is now fruitful, will be but as a barren forest in comparison to what it will be then as in Isa 29:17 which will be fulfilled in Christ's time, for then they who were before as the barren wilderness, being regenerate will be fruitful and they who had some beginning of godliness, will bring forth fruit in such abundance, that their former life will seem but as a wilderness where no fruit was.

15. At last the great transformation of all things will be ushered in, by an outpouring of spirit (the Heb. has no art.) from on high; i.e. from heaven, as in ch. Isaiah 33:5. The spirit, conceived as a subtle essence descending upon and then permeating the human world, is said to be “poured out” as in ch. Isaiah 29:10; Ezekiel 39:29; Joel 2:28 f. (although different verbs are there used). Any supernatural influence, even when acting to the injury of man, might be so spoken of (ch. Isaiah 19:14, Isaiah 29:10), just as a personal “spirit from Jehovah” may be evil or false (1 Samuel 16:14; 1 Kings 22:21 ff.). Here the word is used absolutely and denotes the Divine principle of life, and especially the power by which the will of God is made to prevail in human society (Isaiah 32:16 f.).

On the second half of the verse see ch. Isaiah 29:17.Verse 15. - Until. The expression "until" modifies the previous "forever," showing that the desolation was not always to continue. The Spirit be poured upon us from on high. An effluence from the Holy Spirit of God on individuals of eminence, prophets, kings, artificers, to fit them for their tasks, is recognized in many of the earlier books of Scripture, and especially in the Davidical psalms. But a general effluence of the Spirit of holiness on a nation, to produce a change of heart, seems to be first announced by Isaiah. The nearly contemporary prophecy of Joel (Joel 2:28, 29) is, perhaps, as wide in its scope, but limited to the prophetic gift, which is not necessarily conjoined with spiritual-minded-ness or holiness of life. Isaiah, the "evangelical prophet," first teaches that the conversion of a nation is God's work, effected by the Holy Spirit, and effectual to the entire change of the heart of a people. And the wilderness be a fruitful field; i.e. "the community long cursed with barrenness of good works" (ver. 10) "becomes once more fruitful of them." And the fruitful field be counted for a forest. An order of climax seems to be here intended. The midbar, the bare pasturage-ground, becomes a Carmel, i.e. carefully cultivated; the Carmel becomes like Lebanon, a rich and luxurious forest. There is no close parallel between this verse and ver. 17 of Isaiah 29. The prophet is not tied down by his previous metaphors. This short address, although rounded off well, is something more than a fragment complete in itself, like the short parabolic piece in Isaiah 28:23-29, which commences in a similar manner. It is the last part of the fourth woe, just as that was the last part of the first. It is a side piece to the threatening prophecy of the time of Uzziah-Jotham (Isaiah 3:16.), and chastises the frivolous self-security of the women of Jerusalem, just as the former chastises their vain and luxurious love of finery. The prophet has now uttered many a woe upon Jerusalem, which is bringing itself to the verge of destruction; but notwithstanding the fact that women are by nature more delicate, and more easily affected and alarmed, than men, he has made no impression upon the women of Jerusalem, to whom he now foretells a terrible undeceiving of their carnal ease, whilst he holds out before them the ease secured by God, which can only be realized on the ruins of the former.

The first part of the address proclaims the annihilation of their false ease. "Ye contented women, rise up, hear my voice; ye confident daughters, hearken to my speech! Days to the year: then will ye tremble, confident ones! for it is all over with the vintage, the fruit harvest comes to nought. Tremble, contented ones! Quake, ye confident ones! Strip, make yourselves bare, and gird your loins with sackcloth! They smite upon their breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine. On the land of my people there come up weeds, briers; yea, upon all joyous houses of the rejoicing city. For the palace is made solitary; the crowd of the city is left desolate; the ofel and watch-tower serve as caves for ever, for the delight of wild asses, for the tending of flocks." The summons is the same as in Genesis 4:23 and Jeremiah 9:19 (comp. Isaiah 28:23); the attributes the same as in Amos 6:1 (cf., Isaiah 4:1, where Isaiah apostrophizes the women of Samaria). שׁאנן, lively, of good cheer; and בּטח, trusting, namely to nothing. They are to rise up (qōmnâh), because the word of God must be heard standing (Judges 3:20). The definition of the time "days for a year" (yâmı̄m ‛al-shânâh) appears to indicate the length of time that the desolation would last, as the word tirgaznâh is without any Vav apod. (cf., Isaiah 65:24; Job 1:16-18); but Isaiah 29:1 shows us differently, and the Vav is omitted, just as it is, for example, in Daniel 4:28. Shânâh is the current year. In an undefined number of days, at the most a year from the present time (which is sometimes the meaning of yâmı̄m), the trembling would begin, and there would be neither grapes nor fruit to gather. Hence the spring harvest of corn is supposed to be over when the devastation begins. ימים is an acc. temporis; it stands here (as in Isaiah 27:6, for example; vid., Ewald, 293, 1) to indicate the starting point, not the period of duration. The milel-forms פּשׁטה, ערה, חגרה ,ערה , are explained by Ewald, Drechsler, and Luzzatto, as plur. fem. imper. with the Nun of the termination nâh dropped - an elision that is certainly never heard of. Others regard it as inf. with He femin. (Credner, Joel, p. 151); but קטלה for the infinitive קטלה is unexampled; and equally unexampled would be the inf. with He indicating the summons, as suggested by Bttcher, "to the shaking!" "to the stripping!" They are sing. masc. imper., such as occur elsewhere apart from the pause, e.g., מלוכה (for which the keri has מלכה) in Judges 9:8; and the singular in the place of the plural is the strongest form of command. The masculine instead of the feminine appears already in הרדוּ, which is used in the place of חרדנה. The prophet then proceeds in the singular number, comprehending the women as a mass, and using the most massive expression. The He introduced into the summons required that the feminine forms, רגזי, etc., should be given up. ערה, from ערר, to be naked, to strip one's self. חגרה absolute, as in Joel 1:13 (cf., Isaiah 3:24), signifies to gird one's self with sackcloth (saq). We meet with the same remarkable enall. generis in Isaiah 32:12. Men have no breasts (shâdaim), and yet the masculine sōphedı̄m is employed, inasmuch as the prophet had the whole nation in his mind, throughout which there would be such a plangere ubera on account of the utter destruction of the hopeful harvest of corn and wine. Shâdaim (breasts) and שׂדי (construct to sâdōth) have the same common ring as ubera and ubertas frugum. In Isaiah 32:13 ta‛ăleh points back to qōts shâmı̄r, which is condensed into one neuter idea. The ki in Isaiah 32:13 has the sense of the Latin imo (Ewald, 330, b). The genitive connection of עלּיזה קריה with משׂושׂ בּתּי (joy-houses of the jubilant city) is the same as in Isaiah 28:1. The whole is grammatically strange, just as in the Psalms the language becomes all the more complicated, disjointed, and difficult, the greater the wrath and indignation of the poet. Hence the short shrill sentences in Isaiah 32:14 : palace given up (cf., Isaiah 13:22); city bustle forsaken (i.e., the city generally so full of bustle, Isaiah 22:2). The use of בּעד is the same as in Proverbs 6:26; Job 2:4. ‛Ofel, i.e., the south-eastern fortified slope of the temple mountain, and the bachan (i.e., the watch-tower, possibly the flock-tower which is mentioned in Micah 4:8 along with ‛ofel), would be pro speluncis, i.e., would be considered and serve as such. And in the very place where the women of Jerusalem had once led their life of gaiety, wild asses would now have their delight, and flocks their pasture (on the wild asses, perâ'ı̄m, that fine animal of the woodless steppe, see at Job 24:5; Job 39:5-8). Thus would Jerusalem, with its strongest, proudest places, be laid in ruins, and that in a single year, or ever less than a year.

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