Isaiah 33:7
Behold, their valiant ones shall cry without: the ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly.
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(7) Behold, their valiant ones.—Literally, their lions of God. Heb., Arielam, probably with a reference to the “Ariel” of Isaiah 29:1, the lion-like heroes of the lion-like city. (Comp. 2Samuel 23:20; 1Chronicles 11:22.) The whole passage paints the panic caused by the approach of Sennacherib.

The ambassadors of peace.—The envoys sent by Hezekiah to Sennacherib at Lachish. They “weep bitterly” at the hard conditions imposed on them, which may be either those of 2Kings 18:14, or some yet harder terms, demanding the surrender of the city.

Isaiah 33:7-9. Behold, &c. — That the mercy here promised might be duly appreciated and magnified, he gives a lively representation of the great danger and distress in which it found them. Their valiant ones — “Three MSS.,” says Bishop Lowth, “read אראלים, lions of God, or strong lions; so they called valiant men, heroes; which appellation the Arabians and Persians still use.” The Hebrew doctors, however, understand by the word, their heralds, or messengers, namely, those whom Hezekiah sent to treat with the Assyrian commissioners, 2 Kings 18:18. Shall cry without — Through grief and fear: the ambassadors of peace — Whom Hezekiah sent to beg peace of the Assyrian; shall weep bitterly — Because they cannot obtain their desire. The wayfaring man ceaseth — Because the Assyrian soldiers possessed and filled the land. He hath broken the covenant — Sennacherib broke his faith given to Hezekiah, of departing for a sum of money, 2 Kings 18:14; 2 Kings 18:17. He hath despised the cities — The defenced cities of Judah, which he contemned and easily took. He regardeth no man — Either to spare, or to fear, or keep faith with him. He neither feareth God nor reverenceth man. The earth mourneth, &c. — Being desolate and neglected. Lebanon is hewn down — By the Assyrians. Or, as קמלrather signifies, and is here rendered by some withereth, or languisheth, because its trees are spoiled and destroyed by the Assyrians. Sharon is like a wilderness — Although before it was a pleasant and fruitful place. Bashan and Carmel shake off their fruits — Are spoiled of them. These two places, eminent for fertility, and especially for good pastures, are here put for all such places.

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.Behold - This verse introduces a new subject by a very sudden transition. It is designed, with the two following, to exhibit the desolation of the land on the invasion of Sennacherib, and the consternation that would prevail. For this purpose, the prophet introduces Isaiah 33:7 the ambassadors who had been sent to sue for peace, as having sought it in vain, and as weeping now bitterly; he represents Isaiah 33:8 the desolation that abounded, and the fact that Sennacherib refused to come to any terms; and Isaiah 33:9 the extended desolations that had come upon the fairest portions of the land.

Their valiant ones - The 'valiant ones' of the Jews who had been sent to Sennacherib to obtain conditions of pence, or to enter into a negotiation with him to spare the city and the nation. The word which is rendered here 'valiant ones' (אראלם 'ere'elâm) has given great perplexity to expositors. It occurs nowhere else in the Scriptures. The Septuagint renders the verse, 'With the dread of you shall they be terrified; they, of whom you have been afraid, will, for fear of you, raise a grievous cry.' Jerome renders it, 'Behold, they seeing, cry without,' as if the word was derived from ראה râ'âh, to see. The Chaldee renders it, 'And when it shall be revealed to them, the messengers of the people who went to announce peace, shall cry bitterly.' The Syriac, 'If he shall permit himself to be seen by them, they shall weep bitterly.' Symmachus and Theodotion render it, Ἰδοὺ ὀφθήσομαι αὐτοῖς Idou ophthēsomai autois - 'Lo, I will appear to them.' So Aquila, Ὁραθήσομαι αὐτοῖς Horathēsomai autois. Most or all the versions seem to have read it as if it were compounded of לם אראה 'ere'eh lm - 'I will appear to them.' But probably the word is formed from אראל 'ăre'el, the same as אריאל 'ărı̂y'êl (Ariel), 'a hero' (see the note at Isaiah 29:1), and means "their hero" in a collective sense, or their heroes; that is, their men who were distinguished as military leaders, and who were sent to propose terms of peace with Sennacherib. The most honorable and valiant men would be selected, of course, for this purpose (compare the note at Isaiah 30:4), but they had made the effort to obtain peace in vain, and were returning with consternation and alarm.

Shall cry without - They would lift up their voice with weeping as they returned, and publicly proclaim with bitter lamentation that their efforts to obtain peace had failed.

The ambassadors of peace - When Sennacherib invaded fife land, and had advanced as far as to Lachish, Hezekiah sent messengers to him with a rich present, having stripped the temple of its gold, and sent him all the silver which was in his treasury, for the purpose of propitiating his favor, and of inducing him to return to his own land 2 Kings 18:14-16. But it was all in vain. Sennacherib sent his generals with a great host against Jerusalem, and was unmoved by all the treasures which Hezekiah had sent to him, and by his solicitations for peace 2 Kings 18:17. It was to the failure of this embassy that Isaiah refers in the passage before us.

7-9. From the vision of future glory Isaiah returns to the disastrous present; the grief of "the valiant ones" (parallel to, and identical with, "the ambassadors of peace"), men of rank, sent with presents to sue for peace, but standing "without" the enemy's camp, their suit being rejected (2Ki 18:14, 18, 37). The highways deserted through fear, the cities insulted, the lands devastated.

cry—(Isa 15:4).

Behold: that the mercy here promised might be duly magnified, he makes a lively representation of their great danger and distress, in which it found them.

Their valiant ones; or, their heralds or messengers, as the Hebrew doctors expound the word: either,

1. Those whom the king of Assyria sent to Jerusalem, 2 Kings 18:17. Or rather,

2. Those whom Hezekiah sent to treat with the Assyrian commissioners, 2 Kings 18:18, as the next clause showeth.

Shall cry without, through grief and fear.

The ambassadors of peace, whom he shall send to beg peace of the Assyrian, shall weep bitterly, because they cannot obtain their desires.

Behold, their valiant ones shall cry without,.... Or, "in the street": this, and the two following verses Isaiah 33:8, describe the sad and desolate condition of the people of God, before the above happy times take place; "their valiant ones", such who have been valiant for the truth on earth; or "their angels", as Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech interpret the word; these are the angels and pastors of the churches, the two witnesses that prophesy in sackcloth openly and publicly, and who will be slain, and their bodies lie unburied in the street of the great city, Revelation 11:3,

the ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly; most interpreters understand this of the ambassadors which Hezekiah sent to the king of Assyria to obtain peace, but could not succeed, on account of which they are said to weep bitterly; but the character of "ambassadors of peace" well agrees with the ministers of the Gospel, who are "ambassadors" in Christ's stead, and whose work it is to exhort men to "be reconciled to God", and to preach the Gospel of peace to sinful men; these now will "weep bitterly", when they are removed into corners, and are silenced, and not suffered to deliver their messages of peace, to the comfort of the Lord's people, and the glory of his name; which will be the case at the time of the slaying of the witnesses.

Behold, {l} their valiant ones shall cry outside: the {m} ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly.

(l) Sent from Sennacherib.

(m) Whom they of Jerusalem sent to intreat of peace.

7. their valiant ones] This word is hopelessly obscure. It is usually translated “God’s lions,” i.e. ‘picked warriors, each as fierce as a lion and as invincible as his God’ (Cheyne: see on Isaiah 29:1, and cf. 2 Samuel 23:20; 1 Chronicles 11:22); and this is probably the sense intended by E.V. Another suggestion is that it is a gentilic name, meaning “inhabitants of Ariel.” It is impossible to get beyond conjecture. The reading of the text (’er’ellâm) appears to rest on a false etymology. It should probably be pointed as a simple plural, ’ar’çlîm or (if necessary) ’ǎrî’çlîm. The verbs shall cry and shall weep should both be translated as presents (R.V.).

the ambassadors of peace (omit shall) weep bitterly] Cf. ch. Isaiah 22:4. Taken in connexion with the last half of Isaiah 33:8, these words seem to point to the conclusion of a treaty of peace, which had been shamelessly violated by the enemy. Those immediately responsible for the arrangement are naturally loudest in their expression of dismay. We have no certain knowledge of such negotiations between Hezekiah and Sennacherib, although such an incident might very well have happened then.

7–9. For a moment the prophet’s faith seems to relax its hold on the great principles he has enunciated, as he turns to contemplate the misery and desolation of the present. But in reality this is an additional plea for the Divine intervention, to be followed by the exultant outburst of Isaiah 33:10-13.

Verses 7-12. - THE PROPHET ENTERS FURTHER INTO PARTICULARS. Having "sketched the main outlines of his revelation," Isaiah proceeds to "fill in and apply the details" (Cheyne). He first describes the despair and low condition of Judah: the men of war wailing aloud; the ambassadors just returned kern Laehish weeping at the ill success of their embassy; all travelling stopped; the land wasted and made a desert; the Assyrians still ravaging and destroying, despite the peace which had been made (2 Kings 18:14-16). Then suddenly he sees Jehovah rousing himself (ver. 10), and the Assyrians con-stoned, as if with a fire (vers. 11, 12). Verse 7. - Behold, their valiant ones shall cry without. "Their lion-hearts "(Cheyne); "heroes" (Delitzsch). Literally, lions of God (comp. Isaiah 29:1). They raise a cry of mourning in the streets, with child-like effusiveness (comp. Herod., 8:99; 9:24). The ambassadors of peace. Hezekiah probably sent several embassies to Sennacherib in the course of the war. One went to Lachish, offering submission, in B.C. 701 (2 Kings 18:14); another to Nineveh, with tribute and presents, in the same or the following year (2 Kings 18:15; comp. 'Eponym Canon,' p. 135). A third probably sought to deprecate Sennacherib's auger, when he made his second invasion (2 Kings 18:17) in B.C. 699 (?). These last would seem to be the "ambassadors" of this verse. Isaiah 33:7The prophet has thus run through the whole train of thought with a few rapid strides, in accordance with the custom which we have already frequently noticed; and now he commences afresh, mourning over the present miserable condition of things, in psalm-like elegiac tones, and weeping with his weeping people. "Behold, their heroes weep without; the messengers of peace weep bitterly. Desolate are roads, disappeared are travellers; he has broken covenant, insulted cities, despised men. The land mourns, languishes; Lebanon stands ashamed, parched; the meadow of Sharon has become like a steppe, and Bashan and Carmel shake their leaves." אראלּם is probably chosen with some allusion to 'Ariel, the name of Jerusalem in chapter 29; but it has a totally different meaning. We have rendered it "heroes," because אראל is here synonymous with אראל in the Nibelung-like piece contained in 2 Samuel 23:20 and 1 Chronicles 11:22. This 'ărı̄'ēl, which is here contracted into 'er'el (compare the biblical name 'Ar'ēlı̄ and the post-biblical name of the angels, 'Er'ellı̄m), is compounded of 'arı̄ (a lion) and ‛El (God), and therefore signifies "the lion of God," but in this sense, that El (God) gives to the idea of leonine courage merely the additional force of extraordinary or wonderful; and as a composite word, it contents itself with a singular, with a collective sense according to circumstances, without forming any plural at all. The dagesh is to be explained from the fact that the word (which tradition has erroneously regarded as a compound of להם אראה) is pointed in accordance with the form כּרמל (כרמלּו). The heroes intended by the prophet were the messengers sent to Sennacherib to treat with him for peace. They carried to him the amount of silver and gold which he had demanded as the condition of peace (2 Kings 18:14). But Sennacherib broke the treaty, by demanding nothing less than the surrender of Jerusalem itself. Then the heroes of Jerusalem cried aloud, when they arrived at Jerusalem, and had to convey this message of disgrace and alarm to the king and nation; and bitterly weeping over such a breach of faith, such deception and disgrace, the embassy, which had been sent off, to the deep self-humiliation of Judah and themselves, returned to Jerusalem. Moreover, Sennacherib continued to storm the fortified places, in violation of his agreement (on mâ'as ‛arı̄m, see 2 Kings 18:13). The land was more and more laid waste, the fields were trodden down; and the autumnal aspect of Lebanon, with its faded foliage, and of Bashan and Carmel, with their falling leaves, looked like shame and grief at the calamities of the land. It was in the autumn, therefore, that the prophet uttered these complaints; and the definition of the time given in his prophecy (Isaiah 32:10) coincides with this. קמל is the pausal form for קמל, just as in other places an ē with the tone, which has sprung from i, easily passes into a in pause; the sharpening of the syllable being preferred to the lengthening of it, not only when the syllable which precedes the tone syllable is an open one, but sometimes even when it is closed (e.g., Judges 6:19, ויּגּשׁ). Instead of כּערבה we should read כּערבה (without the article), as certain codd. and early editions do.

(Note: We find the same in Zechariah 14:10, and כּערבים in Isaiah 44:4, whereas we invariably have בּערבה (see Michlol, 45b), just as we always find בּאבנים, and on the other hand כּבנים.)

Isaiah having mourned in the tone of the Psalms, now comforts himself with the words of a psalm. Like David in Psalm 12:6, he hears Jehovah speak. The measure of Asshur's iniquity is full; the hour of Judah's redemption is come; Jehovah has looked on long enough, as though sitting still (Isaiah 18:4). Isaiah 33:10 "Now will I arise, saith Jehovah, now exalt myself, now lift up myself." Three times does the prophet repeat the word ‛attâh (now), which is so significant a word with all the prophets, but more especially with Hosea and Isaiah, and which always fixes the boundary-line and turning-point between love and wrath, wrath and love. ארומם (in half pause for ארוממא is contracted from עתרומם (Ges. 54, 2, b). Jehovah would rise up from His throne, and show Himself in all His greatness to the enemies of Israel.

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