Isaiah 34:15
There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate.
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(15) The great owl . . .—Better, the arrow snake.

34:9-17 Those who aim to ruin the church, can never do that, but will ruin themselves. What dismal changes sin can make! It turns a fruitful land into barrenness, a crowded city into a wilderness. Let us compare all we discover in the book of the Lord, with the dealings of providence around us, that we may be more diligent in seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness. What the mouth of the Lord has commanded, his Spirit will perform. And let us observe how the evidences of the truth continually increase, as one prophecy after another is fulfilled, until these awful scenes bring in more happy days. As Israel was a figure of the Christian church, so the Edomites, their bitter enemies, represent the enemies of the kingdom of Christ. God's Jerusalem may be laid in ruins for a time, but the enemies of the church shall be desolate for ever.There shall the great owl - (קפוז qı̂pôz). Gesenius supposes that this is the arrow-snake, so called from its darting or springing, in the manner of the rattle-snake - from an obsolete root to draw oneself together, to contract. Bochart (Hieroz. ii. 3. 11. 408-419) has examined the meaning of the word at length, and comes to the conclusion that it means the serpent which the Greeks called acontias, and the Latins, jaculus - the arrow-snake. The serpent is oviparous, and nourishes its young. The ancient versions, however, understand it in the same sense as the קפד qippôd in Isaiah 34:11 - the hedgehog or porcupine.

Under her shadow - This might be done by the serpent that should coil up and cherish her young.

The vultures ... - The black vulture, according to Bochart; according to Gesenius, the kite, or falcon so called from its swift flight. Either of them will suit the connection.

Also be gathered, every one with her mate - They shall make their nests there; that is, this shall be their secure, undisturbed retreat.

15. great owl—rather, "the arrow snake," so called from its darting on its prey [Gesenius].

lay—namely, eggs.

gather under her shadow—rather, "cherishes" her young under, &c. (Jer 17:11).

The great owl; whether this or what other creature is meant by this Hebrew word, the learned reader may find largely discoursed in my Latin Synopsis upon this place; for others, it may suffice to know, what all agree in, that, whether it be a bird or a serpent, it is a creature that lives in desert places.

Make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow, as fearing no disturbance from any men. There shall the great owl make her nest,.... Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, say that "kippoz" here is the same with "kippod", rendered "bittern" in Isaiah 34:11 but Aben Ezra takes them to be two different birds; it is hard to say what is designed by it. Bochart thinks that one kind of serpent is here meant, so called from its leaping up, and which may be said to make nests, lay eggs and hatch them, as follows:

and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow; lay its eggs, sit upon them, and hatch them; or "break" them (u), that is, the eggs, by sitting on them, when the young ones spring out of them; and then being hatched, and running about, gather them under their wing, especially when in any danger:

there shall the vultures also be gathered, everyone with her mate; which creatures usually gather together where dead carcasses lie.

(u) "et scindet", Pagninus, Montanus; "rumpet", Vatablus; "quumque eruperit", Junius & Tremellius, i.e. "pullities", so Ben Melech.

There {o} shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate.

(o) Signifying that Idumea would be a horrible desolation and barren wilderness.

15. the great owl] the arrowsnake as in R.V.

gather under her shadow] The expression is almost meaningless, when applied to a very small snake. Duhm, by a clever emendation, reads “shall lay and hatch and heap up her eggs” (bêçehâ for běçillâh).Verse 15. - The great owl; rather, the arrow-snake (Serpens jaculus). Gather under her shadow; i.e. "gather her young ones under her." There shall the vultures also be gathered; rather, there verily shall the vultures assemble. Thus does Jehovah avenge His church upon Edom. "For Jehovah hath a day of vengeance, a year of recompense, to contend for Zion. And the brooks of Edom are turned into pitch, and its dust into brimstone, and its land becomes burning pitch. Day and night it is not quenched; the smoke of Edom goes up for ever: it lies waste from generation to generation; no one passes through it for ever and ever." The one expression, "to contend for Zion," is like a flash of lightning, throwing light upon the obscurity of prophecy, both backwards and forwards. A day and a year of judgment upon Edom (compare Isaiah 61:2; Isaiah 63:4) would do justice to Zion against its accusers and persecutors (rı̄bh, vindicare, as in Isaiah 51:22). The everlasting punishment which would fall upon it is depicted in figures and colours, suggested by the proximity of Edom to the Dead Sea, and the volcanic character of this mountainous country. The unquenchable fire (for which compare Isaiah 66:24), and the eternally ascending smoke (cf., Revelation 19:3), prove that the end of all things is referred to. The prophet meant primarily, no doubt, that the punishment announced would fall upon the land of Edom, and within its geographical boundaries; but this particular punishment represented the punishment of all nations, and all men who were Edomitish in their feelings and conduct towards the congregation of Jehovah.
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