Isaiah 32:19
When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place.
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(19) When it shall hail, coming down on the forest.—Better, But it shall hail. A time of sharp judgment, “hailstones and coals of fire,” is to precede that of blessedness and peace. Of such a judgment “hail” was the natural symbol. (Comp. Isaiah 30:30; Ezekiel 13:13.) The “forest” stands in the symbolism of prophecy for the rulers and princes of any kingdom, as in Isaiah 10:34 for those of Assyria, and here probably of Judah. Not a few commentators refer the words here also to Assyria, but the city that follows is clearly Jerusalem, and the interpretation given above harmonises accordingly better with the context. Of that city Isaiah says that it shall be “brought down to a low estate,” its pride humbled even to the ground, in order that it may afterwards be exalted.

Isaiah 32:19. When — Or, rather, And it shall hail — As my blessings shall be poured down upon my people, who, from a wilderness, are turned into a fruitful field, so my judgments (which are signified by hail, Isaiah 28:2; Isaiah 28:17, and elsewhere) shall fall upon them who were a fruitful field, but are turned into a forest, as was said Isaiah 32:15; that is, upon the unbelieving and rebellious Jews. And the city — Jerusalem, which, though now it was the seat of God’s worship and people, yet he foresaw would be the great enemy of the Messiah; shall be low in a low place — Hebrew, תשׁפל בשׁפלה, shall be humbled with humiliation; that is, shall be greatly humbled, or brought very low.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.When it shall hail - Hebrew, ברדת ברד bârad beredeth - 'And it shall hail in coming down. There is a paranomasia in the original here, which cannot be expressed in a translation - a figure of speech, which, as we have seen, is common in Isaiah. 'Hail' is an image of divine vengeance or punishment; and the reference here is, doubtless, to the storms of indignation that would come on the enemies of the Jews, particularly on the Assyrians (see the notes at Isaiah 30:30).

Coming down on the forest - Coming down on the army of the Assyrian, which is here called 'a forest.' The same term 'forest' is given to the army of the Assyrians in Isaiah 10:18-19, Isaiah 10:33-34. The sense is, that the divine judgment would come down on that army with as much severity as a storm of hail descends on a forest - stripping the leaves from the trees, destroying its beauty, and laying it waste.

And the city - According to Gesenius, this is Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire. According to Rosenmuller, Grotius, and others, it is Babylon. Hensler supposes that it is Jerusalem, and that the sense is, that as a city that is situated in a valley is safe when the storm and tempest sweep over the hills, so would it be to Jerusalem when the storm of wrath should sweep away the army of the Assyrian. But the connection evidently requires us to understand it of the capital of the enemy; though whether it be Nineveh or Babylon perhaps cannot be determined.

Shall be low in a low place - Margin, 'Utterly abased.' Hebrew, 'In humility shall be humbled.' The sense is, shall be completely prostrate. Those who refer this to Jerusalem suppose it refers to the time when God should humble it by bringing the enemy so near, and exciting so much consternation and alarm. Those who refer it to Babylon suppose it relates to its destruction. If referred to Nineveh, it must mean when the pride of the capital of the Assyrian empire should be iratabled by the complete overthrow of their army, and the annihilation of their hopes. The connection seems to require us to adopt this latter interpretation. The whole verse is very obscure; but perhaps the above will express its general sense.

19. Literally, "But it shall hail with coming down of the forest, and in lowness shall the city (Nineveh) be brought low; that is, humbled." The "hail" is Jehovah's wrathful visitation (Isa 30:30; 28:2, 17). The "forest" is the Assyrian host, dense as the trees of a forest (Isa 10:18, 19, 33, 34; Zec 11:2). When it shall hail, coming down on the forest, Heb. And it shall hail, &c. As my blessings shall be poured down upon my people, who from a wilderness are turned into a fruitful field, as it is said, Isaiah 32:15; so my wrath and judgments (which are signified by hail, Isaiah 28:2,17, and elsewhere) shall fall upon them, who were a fruitful field, but are turned into a forest, as was said, Isaiah 32:15, i.e. upon the unbelieving and rebellious Jews, who seem there to be designed under that notion.

The city; either,

1. Babylon, the great enemy and oppressor of God’s people. Or,

2. Jerusalem, which, though now it was the seat of God’s worship and people, yet he foresaw by the Spirit of prophecy that it would be the great enemy of the Messiah, and of God’s people.

Shall be low in a low place, Heb. shall be humbled with humiliation; which by an ordinary Hebraism signifies, shall be greatly humbled, or brought very low. When it shall hail, coming down on the forest,.... The people of God will be peaceable and quiet, safe and secure, when the judgments of God, signified by a "hail" storm, shall come upon antichrist, and the antichristian states, intended by the "forest", both for their numbers, and for their barrenness and unfruitfulness; see Revelation 16:21 and as so it sometimes is, by the disposition of divine Providence, that a storm of hail falls not upon fields and gardens, and the fruits of the earth, but upon forests and desert lands; and as the plague of hail fell upon the Egyptians, and not upon the Israelites in Goshen, to which some think the allusion is here; so will it be when God comes to take vengeance on the enemies of his people:

and the city shall be low in a low place: meaning not the city of Jerusalem, surrounded with mountains, built under hills, and so under the wind, and not exposed to the fury of a storm; but rather Babylon, built in a plain, in a low plain, and yet should be brought lower still; mystical Babylon is here meant, the city of Rome, that should "in humiliation be humbled", as the words may be rendered, that is, brought very low, exceeding low; see Isaiah 26:5 and which, at the time of the great hail, will be divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations shall fall, and Babylon be had in remembrance by the Lord to destroy it, Revelation 16:19.

When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the {m} city shall be low in a low place.

(m) They will not need to build it in high places for fear of the enemy: for God will defend it, and turn away the storms from hurting their conveniences.

19. The verse reads: And it shall hail at the falling of the forest, and in lowliness shall the city be laid low. According to most commentators the “forest” is a symbol for Assyria, as in ch. Isaiah 10:18 f., 33 f. But this is suggested by nothing in the context, and the “city” in the next line cannot be Nineveh, which is never referred to by Isaiah, and is far from his thoughts here. The verse as a whole must (if genuine) be taken as an announcement of judgment on Jerusalem; but it comes in so awkwardly between Isaiah 32:18; Isaiah 32:20, that it may not unreasonably be regarded as an interpolation. On the “hail” as a synonym for Divine judgment see ch. Isaiah 28:2; Isaiah 28:17, Isaiah 30:30.Verse 19. - When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; rather, but it shall hail in the coming down (i.e. the destruction) of the forest. "The forest" has commonly been regarded as Assyria, on the strength of Isaiah 10:18, 19, 33, 34. Mr. Cheyne, however, suggests Judah, or the high and haughty ones of Judah, whose destruction was a necessary preliminary to the establishment of Christ's kingdom. May not God's enemies generally be meant? The city. Nineveh (Lowth, Gesenius, Rosenmüller); Jerusalem (Delitzsch, Knobel, Cheyne, Kay); "the city in which the hostility of the world to Jehovah will, in the latter days, be centralized" (Drechsler, Nagel) - the "world-power," in fact. The last view seems to give the best sense. 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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