Isaiah 33:4
And your spoil shall be gathered like the gathering of the caterpillar: as the running to and fro of locusts shall he run on them.
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(4) Your spoil . . .—The words are addressed to the invader. He who came to spoil should find himself spoiled. As caterpillars and locusts devour the green herbage, so should he (or they, the indefinite pronoun standing for the people of Jerusalem) strip his camp of all its treasures.

33:1-14 Here we have the proud and false destroyer justly reckoned with for all his fraud and violence. The righteous God often pays sinners in their own coin. Those who by faith humbly wait for God, shall find him gracious to them; as the day, so let the strength be. If God leaves us to ourselves any morning, we are undone; we must every morning commit ourselves to him, and go forth in his strength to do the work of the day. When God arises, his enemies are scattered. True wisdom and knowledge lead to strength of salvation, which renders us stedfast in the ways of God; and true piety is the only treasure which can never be plundered or spent. The distress Jerusalem was brought into, is described. God's time to appear for his people, is, when all other helpers fail. Let all who hear what God has done, acknowledge that he can do every thing. Sinners in Zion will have much to answer for, above other sinners. And those that rebel against the commands of the word, cannot take its comforts in time of need. His wrath will burn those everlastingly who make themselves fuel for it. It is a fire that shall never be quenched, nor ever go out of itself; it is the wrath of an ever-living God preying on the conscience of a never-dying soul.And your spoil - The booty that the Assyrian army bad gathered in their march toward Jerusalem, and which would now be left by them to be collected by the Jews.

Shall be gathered like the gathering of the caterpillar - The grammatical construction here is such that this may admit of two interpretations. It may either mean, as the caterpillar or the locust is gathered; or it may mean, as the caterpillar gathers its spoil. It often occurred that in countries where the locust was an article of food, they were scraped together in large quantities, and thrown into ditches, or into reservoirs, and retained to be eaten. This is the custom in some parts of Africa. But the meaning here is, undoubtedly, that the plunder of the Assyrian army would be collected by the Jews, as the locust gathered its food. The sense is, that as locusts spread themselves out over a land, as they go to and fro without rule and without molestation, gathering whatever is in their way, and consuming everything, so the Jews in great numbers, and without regular military array, would run to and fro collecting the spoils of the Assyrian army. In a country where such devastation was made by the caterpillar and locust as in Palestine, this was a very striking figure. The word rendered 'caterpillar' here חסיל châseyl from חסל châsal to cut off, consume), properly denotes the devourer, and is applied usually to a species of locust. So it is understood here by most of the versions. The Septuagint renders it, 'As if one were gathering locusts, so will they insult you.'

4. The invaders' "spoil" shall be left behind by them in their flight, and the Jews shall gather it.

caterpillar—rather, "the wingless locust"; as it gathers; the Hebrew word for "gathers" is properly used of the gathering of the fruits of harvest (Isa 32:10).

running to and fro—namely, in gathering harvest fruits.

he—rather, "they."

them—rather, "it," that is, the prey.

Your spoil, that treasure which you have raked together by spoiling divers people,

shall be gathered by the Jews at Jerusalem, when you shall be forced to flee away with all possible speed, leaving your spoils behind you.

Like the gathering of the caterpillar; either,

1. Passively, with as much ease, and in as great numbers, as caterpillars are gathered and destroyed. Or rather,

2. Actively, as appears from the next clause; as caterpillars or locusts (for the word signifies either) gather and devour all the fruits of the earth; which was a common plague in those countries.

As the running to and fro of locusts; as locusts, especially when they are sent and armed by commission from God, come with great force, and run hither and thither, devouring all the fruits of the earth, wheresoever they find them. And your spoil shall be gathered like the gathering of the caterpillar,.... This is the answer of the Lord to the prayer of his church, signifying that their enemies should flee, be scattered, and perish, and that they should be victorious, and enjoy the spoils of them; which they should gather as easily as the caterpillar or locust, as some render it, gathers and consumes herbs, and every green thing; or as easily as they are gathered, and laid on heaps, being weak and unable to defend themselves: most understand it of the Jews going into the camp of the Assyrians, after the destruction of them by the angel, and gathering their spoil. The Targum is,

"and the house of Israel shall gather the substance of the people, their enemies, as they gather a locust:''

the antichristian locusts or caterpillars are here meant, whose substance shall fall into the hands of the followers of Christ, when they shall have got the victory of them; this is the flesh of the whore, her worldly substance, which the kings of the earth, the Christian kings, shall eat or enjoy, Revelation 17:16,

as the running to and fro of locusts shall he run upon them: or "upon it"; the spoil; as these locusts, of which see Revelation 9:3 run to and fro, and pillaged them in times past, as the creatures, to whom they are compared, run to and fro and destroy the fruits of the earth, so now everyone of the followers of Christ shall run and seize upon the spoil of the antichristian states.

And your spoil shall be gathered like the gathering of the {h} caterpiller: as the running to and fro of locusts shall {i} he run upon them.

(h) You who as caterpillars destroyed with your number the whole world, will have no strength to resist your enemies the Chaldeans: but will be gathered on a heap and destroyed.

(i) Meaning, the Medes and Persians against the Chaldeans.

4. like the gathering of the caterpillar] i.e. “as the caterpillar gathers.” The last word (meaning “devourer”) is one of many names for the locust. It is sometimes taken as gen. of obj. (“as men gather locusts”), the creature being an article of diet among the poorer classes in the East; but this is opposed to the next clause. On the “running” of the locust, see Joel 2:9, where the same verb is employed. The locusts in the figure represent the Israelites (Isaiah 33:23).Verse 4. - Your spoil shall be gathered. The "spoiling" of Assyria would commence with the discomfiture of the great host. In the historical narrative (2 Kings 19:35; Isaiah 37:36) nothing is said of it; but, beyond a doubt, when the host was to a largo extent destroyed, and the remainder fled, there must have been an enormous booty left behind, which the enemies of the Assyrians would naturally seize. A further spoiling of the fugitives probably followed; and, the prestige of the great king being gone, marauding bands would probably on all sides ravage the Assyrian territory. Like the gathering of the caterpillar. The "caterpillar" (khasil) is probably the grub out of which the locust develops - a very destructive insect. Shall he run. It would be better to render, shall they run. The word, indeed, is in the singular; but it is used distributively, of the various spoilers. The state would then continue long, very long, until at last the destruction of the false rest would be followed by the realization of the true. "Until the Spirit is poured out over us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as the forest. And justice makes its abode in the desert, and righteousness settles down upon the fruit-field. And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the reward of righteousness rest and security for ever. And my people dwells in a place of peace, and in trustworthy, safe dwellings, and in cheerful resting-places. And it hails with the overthrow of the forest, and into lowliness must the city be brought low." There is a limit, therefore, to the "for ever" of Isaiah 32:14. The punishment would last till the Spirit, which Israel had not then dwelling in the midst of it (see Haggai 2:5), and whose fulness was like a closed vessel to Israel, should be emptied out over Israel from the height of heaven (compare the piel ערה, Genesis 24:20), i.e., should be poured out in all its fulness. When that was done, a great change would take place, the spiritual nature of which is figuratively represented in the same proverbial manner as in Isaiah 29:17. At the same time, a different turn is given to the second half in the passage before us. The meaning is, not that what was now valued as a fruit-bearing garden would be brought down from its false eminence, and be only regarded as forest; but that the whole would be so glorious, that what was now valued as a fruit-garden, would be thrown into the shade by something far more glorious still, in comparison with which it would have the appearance of a forest, in which everything grew wild. The whole land, the uncultivated pasture-land as well as the planted fruitful fields of corn and fruit, would then become the tent and seat of justice and righteousness. "Justice and righteousness' (mishpât and tsedâqâh) are throughout Isaiah the stamp of the last and perfect time. As these advance towards self-completion, the produce and result of these will be peace (ma‛ăseh and abhōdâh are used to denote the fruit or self-reward of work and painstaking toil; compare פּעלּה). But two things must take place before this calm, trustworthy, happy peace, of which the existing carnal security is only a caricature, can possibly be realized. In the first place, it must hail, and the wood must fall, being beaten down with hail. We already know, from Isaiah 10:34, that "the wood" was an emblem of Assyria; and in Isaiah 30:30-31, we find "the hail" mentioned as one of the forces of nature that would prove destructive to Assyria. And secondly, "the city" (העיר, a play upon the word, and a counterpart to היּער) must first of all be brought low into lowliness (i.e., be deeply humiliated). Rosenmller and others suppose the imperial city to be intended, according to parallels taken from chapters 24-27; but in this cycle of prophecies, in which the imperial city is never mentioned at all, "the city" must be Jerusalem, whose course from the false peace to the true lay through a humiliating punishment (Isaiah 29:2-4; Isaiah 30:19., Isaiah 31:4.).
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