Isaiah 34:16
Seek you out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it has commanded, and his spirit it has gathered them.
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(16) Seek ye out of the book of the Lord . . .—The phrase is an exceptional one. Isaiah applies that title either to this particular section, or to the volume of his collected writings. When the time of the fulfilment comes, men are invited to compare what they shall then find with the picture which Isaiah had drawn. Keith and others have brought together from the descriptions of modern travellers, illustrations of the condition of Edom as it is well summed up by Delitzsch in loc. “It swarms with snakes, and the desolate heights and barren table-lands are only inherited by wild crows and eagles; and great flocks of birds.” It has to be remembered, however, that the decay was very gradual. The ruins of Petra and other Idumæan cities are of Roman origin, and indicate a period of culture and prosperity stretching far into the history of the Empire.

His spirit.—In the sense of the creative Breath of the Almighty working in Nature (Psalm 104:30).

Isaiah 34:16-17. Seek ye out of the book of the Lord — Here the prophet confirms the preceding prediction; and, “to convict hypocrites, and confirm the pious, assures them of the certain completion of his prophecy.” He terms it, and his other prophecies, The book of the Lord. as being a part of divine revelation; and he supposes they would be extant at the time of the completion of their contents, and therefore invites all men to seek into and consider them in all their parts, in order that, comparing the events with the predictions, they might be fully satisfied of the truth of them, and thereby might find their faith in them, and all the other parts of God’s book, confirmed. Not one of these shall fail — No, not so much as the minutest circumstance, even respecting the impure beasts now mentioned. None shall want her mate — As I have said that the vultures should all have their mates, so it shall be: for my mouth — The mouth of the Lord; it hath commanded — The direful muster of the beasts and fowls; these marks and evidences of desolation; and his Spirit — That is, his power; it hath gathered — Shall gather all his creatures together, as he formerly brought the creatures to Adam and to Noah, by an instinct which he put into them. And he hath cast the lot for them, &c. — He hath divided the land to them, as it were, by lot and line, as Canaan was divided among the Israelites. 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.Seek ye out - Lock carefully at the prediction, and its fulfillment. This seems to be addressed to the inhabitants of that land, or to any who might doubt, or be disposed to examine. They were invited to compare the prediction with the fulfillment, and see how literally all would be fulfilled - an examination which may be made now, and the prediction will be seen to have been accomplished with most surprising particularity and accuracy.

The book of the Lord - The book of Yahweh, which he has caused to be written, referring, perhaps, especially to what Isaiah has here recorded; including also what had been uttered by the other prophets in regard to Edom. The main reference is, however, doubtless, to what Isaiah has written; and the invitation is to compare his predictions with the certain and remarkable evidence of the fulfillment. 'The prophet evidently contemplated the insertion of his prophecy among the sacred books of the Jews, from which those that followed him might judge of the correctness of the prophecy' (Noyes). That a collection of the various prophetic books was made, constituting one book or volume, and regarded as the work of inspiration, is well known, and is referred to during the captivity in Babylon by Daniel Isa 9:2. The direction to search that book accords with the command of the Saviour John 5:39, and the direction of Nicodemus John 7:32, to search the Scriptures.

No one of these shall fail - Not one of these predictions, or these things which have been spoken.

None shall want her mate - That is, none of the things which I have spoken shall want a fulfillment as its companion. The language is here evidently taken from the pairing of animals, and denotes that all that is spoken shall be entirely fulfilled. Some have understood tilts as referring to the wild animals of which he had spoken, and as meaning that in desolate Idumea they should be appropriately paired, and should breed and increase in abundance. But the more natural interpretation is to refer it to the predictions of the prophet, as meaning that no one thing which he had uttered should want a complete fulfillment.

For my mouth - The word 'my' is not in the Hebrew. The Hebrew phrase is הוא כי־פי kı̂y-pı̂y hû', 'For the mouth, he hath commanded.' The word הוא hû' stands for "He," that is, Yahweh, and the phrase means the same as his mouth, that is, the mouth of God. The Septuagint renders it, 'For the Lord hath commanded them.' Lowth renders it, 'For the mouth of Jehovah,' changing הוא hû' into יהוה yehovâh in accordance with five manuscripts and the translation of the Septuagint.

And his spirit - The Spirit of God; that is, Yahweh himself.

Hath gathered them - Will collect, or assemble; that is, the wild beasts spoken of in the previous verses that shall occupy desolate Idumea. It shall be the agency of God that shall bring them up upon the land to occupy it forever.

16. book of the Lord—the volume in which the various prophecies and other parts of Scripture began henceforward to be collected together (Isa 30:8; Da 9:2).

Seek—(so Isa 8:16, 20; Joh 5:39; 7:52).

no one … fail—of these prophecies (Mt 5:18).

none shall want … mate—image from pairing of animals mentioned, Isa 34:15 ("mate"); no prediction shall want a fulfilment as its companion. Or rather, "none of these wild animals (just spoken of) shall be wanting: none shall be without its mate" to pair and breed with, in desolate Idumea.

my … his—Such changes of person are frequent in Hebrew poetry.

them—the wild beasts.

Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read; when this judgment is executed, if you peruse this book of holy writ, and particularly this prophecy of mine, you will find that all things shall exactly come to pass as I have told you.

No one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: as I have said, that the vultures should each have their mate, so shall it be; and this prophecy shall be exactly fulfilled, even in its smallest circumstances. His Spirit; my Spirit; such sudden changes of persons being frequent here. And God’s Spirit may be put for his might and power, as it is in many places of Scripture. Hath gathered them; hath brought all these creatures together, as he formerly brought the creatures to Adam and to Noah, by an instinct which he put into them. Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read,.... Joseph Kimchi interprets this of the book of the law of Moses; which being consulted, it will appear that punishment was threatened to be inflicted on the enemies of God's people, particularly the Edomites. Jarchi thinks the book of Genesis is intended; in which we may read how every creature, with its mate, at the time of the flood, was gathered to Noah in the ark. Aben Ezra supposes the book of God's decrees is meant; in which, could it be seen, might be read all the particulars of this prophecy. But it seems best to understand it of this book of the prophecy of Isaiah; which being sought to, and read at the time when these predictions will be fulfilled, it will be easily seen, by comparing events with prophecies, how everything will be exactly accomplished; from whence may be concluded, this book being called the book of the Lord, that it was written by divine inspiration, as all other parts of the Bible are; which is a recommendation of them, and is a reason why they should be constantly applied unto, and diligently read. It may deserve some consideration, whether the book of the Revelation may not be designed; which, at the destruction of Babylon or Rome, will be proper to be looked into afresh, to see the agreement between the prophecies in it, and the then state of things respecting it, when it will be an habitation of devils and unclean birds:

not one of these shall fail: not one of these beasts or birds before mentioned shall be wanting here, or be "deprived" of its prey:

none shall want her mate; the satyr, or vulture, or any other, which will engage their continuance, and by which means there will be a fresh brood of them in succession for after ages:

for my mouth, it hath commanded them; these beasts and birds, to assemble in the above mentioned place:

and his spirit, it hath gathered them; the Spirit of the mouth of the Lord, his power, and his providence; as he gathered all creatures to Adam, to give them names; and to Noah, to be preserved with him in the ark; so, by a secret instinct; will he gather together these creatures, to inhabit the desolate places of Edom or Rome. The Targum is,

"for by his word they shall be gathered, and by his will they shall draw near.''

So Ben Melech interprets it of his will and pleasure.

Seek ye out of the {p} book of the LORD, and read: no one of {q} these shall fail, none shall lack her mate: for my {r} mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.

(p) That is, in the law where such curses are threatened against the wicked.

(q) That is, beasts and souls.

(r) That is, the mouth of the Lord.

16. The verse is remarkable in several respects. It seems to be a solemn assurance that the foregoing prediction shall be fulfilled literally and down to the smallest details; and must therefore be addressed to a future generation of readers. This implies a view of the scope and functions of prophecy, which is not that of the older prophets. Further, the expression “book of Jehovah” appears to point to the existence of a prophetic canon; and the opening exhortation presupposes a habit of searching for evidences of the fulfilment of prophecy. All these circumstances would indicate a late date for the composition of this oracle. Some commentators, however, have sought to evade this interpretation by amending the text with the help of the LXX.; reading: “According to their number Jehovah calls them, &c.” But the received text excites no suspicion.

the book of the Lord] The immediate reference must be to the present prophecy, since there is no other which speaks of the desert creatures that are to possess the land of Edom. But the phrase is too pregnant to be used of a detached oracle; we must therefore conclude that it was destined to be incorporated in a collection of sacred writings.

my mouth … his spirit] The change of person is harsh. Read either “his mouth” or (better) “the mouth of Jehovah” (LXX. has “Jehovah” alone).Verse 16. - Seek ye out of the book of the Lord. By "the book of the Lord" some understand a collected volume of Moses and the prophets, psalmists, etc., previous to Isaiah's time, which they suppose to have existed in his day. But there is no evidence of any such collection. It is better to understand the expression of Isaiah's own prophecies, or of such a collection of them as he had made previously to the composition of the present chapter. Nothing contained in the entire book should, he says, fail of its accomplishment. Even the minutiae of the present chapter should, each and all, have their fulfillment, though not, perhaps, in every case a literal one. My mouth... his Spirit. The "mouth" of the prophet and the "Spirit" of God, which dictates to him what he is to write, are in accord; and the Spirit will bring to pass what the mouth inspired by him has "commanded." 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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