Isaiah 37:27
Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded: they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the housetops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up.
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(27) Therefore.—Better, and.

They were as the grass of the field.—One symbol of weakness follows after another. The “grass upon the housetops” was, in this respect, a proverbial emblem (Psalm 129:6). The italics in as corn seem to suggest some error in transcription. The words as they stand give a field before the blades; those in 2Kings 19:26, a blasting.

37:1-38 This chapter is the same as 2Ki 19Therefore - Not because you have so great power; but because I have rendered them incapable of resisting you.

Were of small power - Hebrew, 'Short of hand;' they were feeble, imbecile, unable to resist you.

They were dismayed - Hebrew, 'They were broken and ashamed.' Their spirits sank; they were ashamed of their feeble powers of resistance; and they submitted to the ignominy of a surrender.

They were as the grass of the field - The same idea is expressed by Sennacherib himself in Isaiah 10:15, though under a different image (see the note on that verse). The idea here is, as the grass of the field offers no resistance to the march of an army, so it was with the strongly fortified towns in the way of Sennacherib.

As the grass on the housetops - In eastern countries the roofs of houses are always flat. They are made of a mixture of sand gravel, or earth; and on the houses of the rich there is a firmly constructed flooring made of coals, chalk, gypsum, and ashes, made hard by being beaten or rolled. On these roofs spears of wheat, barley, or grass sometimes spring up, but they are soon withered by the heat of the sun Psalm 129:6-8. The idea here, therefore, is that of the greatest feebleness. His enemies were not simply like the grass in the field, but they were like the thin, slender, and delicate blade that sprung up in the little earth on the roof of a house, where there was no room for the roots to strike down, and where it soon withered beneath the burning sun.

As corn blasted before it is grown up - Before it acquires any strength. The idea in all these phrases is substantially the same - that they were incapable of offering even the feeblest resistance.

27. Therefore—not because of thy power, but because I made them unable to withstand thee.

grass—which easily withers (Isa 40:6; Ps 37:2).

on … housetops—which having little earth to nourish it fades soonest (Ps 129:6-8).

corn blasted before it be grown up—Smith translates, "The cornfield (frail and tender), before the corn is grown."

No text from Poole on this verse.

Therefore their inhabitants were of small power,.... Or, "short of hand" (u); it was not in the power of their hands to help themselves, because the Lord took away their strength, having determined that they should be destroyed for their sins; otherwise it would not have been in the power of Sennacherib to have subdued them; this takes off greatly from the king of Assyria's triumph, that they were a weak people, whom he had conquered, and were given up into his hands by the Lord, according to his purposes, or he had never been lord over them:

they were dismayed and confounded; not so much at the sight of Sennacherib's army, but because the Lord had dispirited them, and took away their natural courage from them, so that they became an easy prey to him:

they were as the grass of the field: which has no strength to stand before the mower:

and as the green herb; which is easily cropped with the hand of man, or eaten by the beasts of the field:

as the grass on the housetops: which has no matter of root, and is dried up with the heat of the sun:

and as corn blasted before it be grown up; before it rises up into anything of a stalk, and much less into ears; so the Targum,

"which is blasted before it comes to be ears;''

all which represent the feeble condition of the people overcome by him; so that he had not so much to glory of, as having done mighty things.

(u) breviati, "vel breves manu", Forerius; "abbreviati manu", Vatablus, Montanus.

Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded: they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the housetops, and as grain blighted {s} before it is grown up.

(s) He shows that the state and power of most flourishing cities endures but a moment in respect to the Church, which will remain forever, because God is the maintainer of it.

27. Therefore their inhabitants … confounded] Better, And their inhabitants (being) of small power (lit. “short of hand”) were terrified and ashamed.

grass on the housetops] See Psalm 129:6-8.

corn blasted before it be grown up] The Hebr. text reads “a corn-field before it is in stalk” (see R.V.). The A.V. adopts the reading of 2 Kings 19:26, which is perhaps to be preferred—“a blasting before it is in stalk.” But neither rendering accounts quite satisfactorily for the words “before it is in stalk.” In all probability they are, as Wellhausen has suggested, a corruption of the opening words of the next verse, which is obviously unsymmetrical as it stands.

Verse 27. - Therefore. The original is not so emphatic, but still contains the idea, not merely of sequence, but of consequence. God, having decreed the successes of the Assyrians, effected them (in part) by infusing weakness into the nations that were their adversaries. They were as the grass of the field (comp. Isaiah 40:6, 7). The comparison is one constantly used by the Hebrew psalmists (Psalm 37:2; Psalm 90:5; Psalm 92:7; Psalm 103:15), and was not unknown to the Assyrians ('Records of the Past,' vol. 3. p. 41; vol. 5. p. 14). The delicate grass of spring in the East withers within a few weeks, and the fresh and tender herbage becomes yellow, parched, and sapless. The grass that springs upon the earthen roofs of houses fails even more rapidly (comp. Psalm 129:6). As corn blasted before it be grown up; literally, like a field before the stalk. Our translators seem to have rightly preferred the reading of 2 Kings 19:26 (sh'dephah, equivalent to "blasting") to that of Isaiah (sh'demah, equivalent to "field") in this place. Their rendering brings out the true sense. Isaiah 37:27And yet what he was able to do was not the result of his own power, but of the counsel of God, which he subserved. Fourth turn, "Hast thou not heart? I have done it long ago, from (K. lemin, since) the days of ancient time have I formed it, and now brought it to pass (הבאתיה, K. הביאתיה): that thou shouldst lay waste fortified cities into desolate stone heaps; and their inhabitants, powerless, were terrified, and were put to shame (ובשׁוּ, K. ויּבשׁוּ): became herb of the field and green of the turf, herb of the house-tops, and a corn-field (וּשׁדמה, K. and blighted corn) before the blades." L'mērâcōq (from afar) is not to be connected with the preceding words, but according to the parallel with those which follow. The historical reality, in this instance the Assyrian judgment upon the nations, had had from all eternity an ideal reality in God (see at Isaiah 22:11). The words are addressed to the Assyrian; and as his instrumentality formed the essential part of the divine purpose, וּתהי does not mean "there should," but "thou shouldest," e!mellej e)chremw equals sai (cf., Isaiah 44:14-15, and Habakkuk 1:17). K. has להשׁות instead of להשׁאות (though not as chethib, in which case it would have to be pointed להשׁות), a singularly syncopated hiphil (for לשׁאות). The point of comparison in the four figures is the facility with which they can be crushed. The nations in the presence of the Assyrian became, as it were, weak, delicate grasses, with roots only rooted in the surface, or like a cornfield with the stalk not yet formed (shedēmâh, Isaiah 16:8), which could easily be rooted up, and did not need to be cut down with the sickle. This idea is expressed still more strikingly in Kings, "like corn blighted (shedēphâh, compare shiddâpōn, corn-blight) before the shooting up of the stalk;" the Assyrian being regarded as a parching east wind, which destroys the seed before the stalk is formed.
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