Isaiah 35:3
Strengthen you the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.
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(3) Strengthen ye the weak hands . . .—Here the words are obviously, as they are quoted in Hebrews 12:12, figurative and not literal, and so far suggest a like interpretation for what follows.

Isaiah 35:3-4. Strengthen ye the weak hands — Ye prophets and ministers of God, comfort and encourage his people, who are now ready to faint, with hopes of that salvation which, in due time, he will work for them. The prophet mentions hands and knees, because the strength or weakness of any man eminently appears in those parts. Say to them that are of a fearful heart — Who, because of their own weakness and the strength of their enemies, are discouraged and cast down: Hebrew, לנמהרי לב, that are hasty of heart, that are for betaking themselves to flight, upon the first alarm, and for giving up the cause. Be strong, fear not — Resist your fears, confide in the power, love, and faithfulness of God, who has promised to deliver those that trust in him, and has engaged, that as your day is your strength shall be, and you shall become strong. Behold, your God will come — Though he seem to be absent, and to have departed from you, he will come and abide with you. He will come with vengeance — Namely, upon your enemies; and save you — The destruction he brings upon your enemies will be the means of your deliverance and salvation. If we suppose this to be spoken with any reference to the state of the Jews in Babylon, God avenged them when he overthrew the Babylonish empire, and brought them back to their own land. But, undoubtedly, the words are primarily intended of the coming of the Messiah in the flesh, and of the redemption and deliverance of God’s people through him; that is, of such as embraced Christianity, whom God signally avenged for all the malice and cruelty which the Jews had exercised upon them, when, by the Romans, he laid Jerusalem even with the ground, and cut off many hundreds of thousands of them by the sword, by famine, and other ways, for their obstinate rejection of the gospel, and crucifying of their Messiah. Thus Christ is said to have been set for the fall, as well as rising again, of many in Israel.35:1-4 Judea was prosperous in the days of Hezekiah, but the kingdom of Christ is the great subject intended. Converting grace makes the soul that was a wilderness, to rejoice with joy and singing, and to blossom abundantly. The feeble and faint-hearted are encouraged. This is the design of the gospel. Fear is weakening; the more we strive against it, the stronger we are, both for doing and suffering; and he that says to us, Be strong, has laid help for us upon One who is mighty. Assurance is given of the approach of Messiah, to take vengeance on the powers of darkness, to recompense with abundant comforts those that mourn in Zion; He will come and save. He will come again at the end of time, to punish those who have troubled his people; and to give those who were troubled such rest as will be a full reward for all their troubles.Strengthen ye - That is, you who are the religious teachers and guides of the people. This is an address made by the prophet in view of what he had said and was about to say of the proraised blessings. The sense is, strengthen and sustain the feeble and the desponding by the promised blessings; by the assurances Isaiah 34 that all the enemies of God and his people will be destroyed; and that he will manifest himself as their Protector, and send upon them the promised blessings. Or it may be regarded as addressed to the officers and ministers of religion when these blessings should have come; and as being an exhortation to them to make use of the influences, the promises, and the consolations which would attend the coming of the Messiah, to strengthen the feeble, and confirm those who were faint-hearted.

The weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees - Strength resides mainly in the arms, and in the lower limbs, or the knees. If these are feeble, the whole frame is feeble. Fear relaxes the strength of the arms, and the firmness of the knees; and the expressions 'weak hands,' and 'feeble knees,' become synonymous with saying, of a timid, fearful, and desponding frame of mind. Such were to be strengthened by the assurance of the favor of God, and by the consolations which would flow from the reign of the Messiah. The Jews, who looked abroad upon the desolations of their country, were to be comforted by the hope of future blessings; those who lived in those future times were to be consoled by the assurances of the favor of God through the Messiah (compare the notes at Isaiah 40:1).

3. Strengthen … hands … confirm … knees—The Hebrew for "strengthen" refers to the strength residing in the hand for grasping and holding a thing manfully; "confirm," to the firmness with which one keeps his ground, so as not to be dislodged by any other [Maurer]. Encourage the Jews, now desponding, by the assurance of the blessings promised. Ye prophets and ministers of God, comfort and encourage God’s people, who are now ready to faint, with hopes and assurance of that salvation which, in due time, I will work for them. He mentions

hands and

knees, because the strength and weakness of any man eminently appears in those parts. Strengthen ye the weak hands,.... These are the words of the prophet, as the Targum,

"the prophet said, strengthen the weak hands;''

or rather of God, by the prophet, to the converted Gentiles, to those who saw the glory of the Lord; particularly to the ministers of the Gospel, who have to do with weak and feeble persons, who can scarcely lift up their hands, or stand upon their legs, under a sense of sin, in a view of wrath, and immediate ruin and destruction, ready to sink and faint, because of their enemies, or through want of food; and their business is to comfort and strengthen them, by preaching the Gospel, and pointing out the promises of it to them:

and confirm the feeble knees; that so they may keep their ground against their enemies; shake off their fears and trembling; go on their way courageously and rejoicing; run, and not be weary; walk, and not faint: "hands" and "knees" are mentioned particularly, because a man's strength lies greatly in them; and his weakness is seen by the languor and trembling of them.

{d} Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.

(d) He wills all to encourage one another, and especially the ministers to exhort and strengthen the weak, that they may patiently abide the coming of God, which is at hand.

3, 4. An exhortation to the despondent. For the figures of Isaiah 35:3 see Job 4:3-4.Verse 3. - Strengthen ye the weak hands. In the Church of the redeemed there will be "weak" brethren as well as strong, "feeble" as well as healthful (see 1 Corinthians 3:1; Galatians 6:1; Hebrews 5:12-14). God, by the mouth of his prophet, calls on the strong to impart of their strength to their weaker brethren, uplifting their "weak hands," as Aaron and Hur did those of Moses (Exodus 17:12), and "confirming" or sustaining their "feeble knees." So St. Paul: "We that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves" (Romans 15:1). The allusion to the monarchy and the lofty electoral dignity leads the prophet on to the palaces and castles of the land. Starting with these, he carries out the picture of the ruins in Isaiah 34:13-15. "And the palaces of Edom break out into thorns, nettles and thistles in its castles; and it becomes the abode of wild dogs, pasture for ostriches. And martens meet with jackals, and a wood-devil runs upon its fellow; yea, Liiliith dwells there, and finds rest for itself. There the arrow-snake makes its nest, and breeds and lays eggs, and broods in the shadow there; yea, there vultures gather together one to another." The feminine suffixes refer to Edom, as they did in the previous instance, as בּת־אדום or אדום ארץ. On the tannı̄m, tsiyyı̄m, and 'iyyı̄m, see at Isaiah 13:21-22. It is doubtful whether châtsı̄r here corresponds to the Arabic word for an enclosure ( equals חצר), as Gesenius, Hitzig, and others suppose, as elsewhere to the Arabic for green, a green field, or garden vegetable. We take it in the latter sense, viz., a grassy place, such as was frequented by ostriches, which live upon plants and fruits. The word tsiyyim (steppe animals) we have rendered "martens," as the context requires a particular species of animals to be named. This is the interpretation given by Rashi (in loc.) and Kimchi in Jeremiah 50:39 to the Targum word tamvân. We do not render 'iyyı̄m "wild cats" (chattūilin), but "jackals," after the Arabic. קרא with על we take in the sense of קרה (as in Exodus 5:3). Lı̄lı̄th (Syr. and Zab. lelitho), lit., the creature of the night, was a female demon (shēdâh) of the popular mythology; according to the legends, it was a malicious fairy that was especially hurtful to children, like some of the fairies of our own fairy tales. There is life in Edom still; but what a caricature of that which once was there! In the very spot where the princes of Edom used to proclaim the new king, satyrs now invite one another to dance (Isaiah 13:21); and there kings and princes once slept in their palaces and country houses, the lı̄lı̄th, which is most at home in horrible places, finds, as though after a prolonged search, the most convenient and most comfortable resting-place. Demons and serpents are not very far distant from one another. The prophet therefore proceeds in Isaiah 34:15 to the arrow-snake, or springing-snake (Arabic qiffâze, from qâphaz, related to qâphats, Sol 2:8, to prepare for springing, or to spring; a different word from qippōd, which has the same root). This builds its nest in the ruins; there it breeds (millēt, to let its eggs slide out) and lays eggs (bâqa‛, to split, i.e., to bring forth); and then it broods in the shade (dâgar is the Targum word in Job 39:14 for chimmēm (ithpael in Lamentations 1:20 for חמרמר), and is also used in the rabbinical writings for fovere, as Jerome renders it here). The literal sense of the word is probably to keep the eggs together (Targum, Jeremiah 17:11, בּעין מכנּשׁ, lxx συνήγαγεν), since דּגר (syn. חמּר) signifies "to collect." Rashi has therefore explained it in both passages as meaning glousser, to cluck, the noise by which a fowl calls its brood together. The dayyâh is the vulture. These fowls and most gregarious birds of prey also collect together there.
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