Isaiah 38:10
I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the residue of my years.
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(10) I said in the cutting off of my days . . .—The words have been very differently interpreted—(1) “in the quietness,” and so in the even tenor of a healthy life. As a fact, however, the complaint did not, and could not, come in the “quiet” of his life, but after it had passed away; (2) “in the dividing point,” scil., the “half-way house of life.” Hezekiah was thirty-nine, but the word might rightly be used of the years between thirty-five and forty, which were the moieties of the seventy and eighty years of the psalmist (Psalm 90:10). We are reminded of Dante’s “Nel mezza del cammin di nostra vita” (Inf. i. 1).

The gates of the grave.—The image is what we should call Dantesque. Sheol, the Hades of the Hebrews, is, as in the Assyrian representations of the unseen world, and as in the Inferno of Dante (iii. 11, vii. 2, x. 22), a great city, and, therefore, it has its gates, which again become, as with other cities, the symbol of its power. So we have “gates of death” in Job 38:17; Psalm 9:18; Psalm 107:18.

The residue . . .—The words assume a normal duration, say of seventy years, on which the sufferer, who had, as he thought, done nothing to deserve punishment, might have legitimately counted.

Isaiah 38:10-11. I said — Within myself; I concluded, in the cutting off of my days — When my days were cut off by the sentence of God, related Isaiah 38:1; I shall go to the gates of the grave — I perceive that I must die without any hopes of prevention. The grave is called man’s long home, Ecclesiastes 12:5; and the house appointed for all living, Job 30:23; and death opens the gates of this house. I am deprived of the residue of my years — Which I might have lived according to the common course of nature, and of God’s dispensations; and which I hoped to live for the service of God and of my generation. I shall not see the Lord — I shall not behold his beauty and glory as he manifests them in his temple, in his oracles and ordinances; I shall not enjoy him: for seeing is frequently put for enjoying; even the Lord in the land of the living — In this world, which is often so called; which limitation is prudently added, to intimate that he expected to see God in another place and manner, on the other side death; but he despairs of seeing him any more on this side death, as he had seen him in the sanctuary, Psalm 63:2. I shall behold man no more. &c. — I shall have no more society with men upon earth. Many good men, under the law, had but imperfect notions of a future state, and thought it a great unhappiness to be deprived, by death, of the communion of saints here upon earth. But by not seeing the Lord in the land of the living, Hezekiah might probably mean that he should not see the effects of God’s grace and goodness in the deliverance of his people.

38:9-22 We have here Hezekiah's thanksgiving. It is well for us to remember the mercies we receive in sickness. Hezekiah records the condition he was in. He dwells upon this; I shall no more see the Lord. A good man wishes not to live for any other end than that he may serve God, and have communion with him. Our present residence is like that of a shepherd in his hut, a poor, mean, and cold lodging, and with a trust committed to our charge, as the shepherd has. Our days are compared to the weaver's shuttle, Job 7:6, passing and repassing very swiftly, every throw leaving a thread behind it; and when finished, the piece is cut off, taken out of the loom, and showed to our Master to be judged of. A good man, when his life is cut off, his cares and fatigues are cut off with it, and he rests from his labours. But our times are in God's hand; he has appointed what shall be the length of the piece. When sick, we are very apt to calculate our time, but are still at uncertainty. It should be more our care how we shall get safe to another world. And the more we taste of the loving-kindness of God, the more will our hearts love him, and live to him. It was in love to our poor perishing souls that Christ delivered them. The pardon does not make the sin not to have been sin, but not to be punished as it deserves. It is pleasant to think of our recoveries from sickness, when we see them flowing from the pardon of sin. Hezekiah's opportunity to glorify God in this world, he made the business, and pleasure, and end of life. Being recovered, he resolves to abound in praising and serving God. God's promises are not to do away, but to quicken and encourage the use of means. Life and health are given that we may glorify God and do good.I said - Probably the words 'I said' do not imply that he said or spoke this openly or audibly; but this was the language of his heart, or the substance of his reflections.

In the cutting off of my days - There has been considerable diversity of interpretation in regard to this phrase. Vitringa renders it as our translators have done. Rosenmuller renders it, 'In the meridian of my days.' The Septuagint, Ἐν τῷ ὕψει τῶν ἡμερῶν μου En tō hupsei tōn hēmerōn mou - 'In the height of my days,' where they evidently read ברמי instead of בדמי, by the change of a single letter. Aquila, and the Greek interpreters generally, rendered it, 'In the silence of my days.' The word used here in Hebrew (דמי demı̂y) denotes properly stillness, quiet, rest; and Gesenius renders it, 'in the quiet of my days.' According to him the idea is, 'now when I might have rest; when I am delivered from my foes; when I am in the midst of my life, of my reign, and of my plans of usefulness, I must die.' The sense is, doubtless, that he was about to be cut off in middle life, and when he had every prospect of usefulness, and of happiness in his reign.

I shall go to the gates of the grave - Hebrew, 'Gates of sheol.' On the meaning of the word sheol, and the Hebrew idea of the descent to it through gates, see the notes at Isaiah 5:14; Isaiah 14:9. The idea is, that he must go down to the regions of the dead, and dwell with departed shades (see the note at Isaiah 38:11).

The residue of my years - Those which I had hoped to enjoy; of which I had a reasonable prospect in the ordinary course of events. It is evident that Hezekiah had looked forward to a long life, and to a prosperous and peaceful reign. This was the means which God adopted to show him the impropriety of his desire, and to turn him more entirely to his service, and to a preparation for death. Sickness often has this effect on the minds of good people.

10. cutting off—Rosenmuller translates, "the meridian"; when the sun stands in the zenith: so "the perfect day" (Pr 4:18). Rather, "in the tranquillity of my days," that is, that period of life when I might now look forward to a tranquil reign [Maurer]. The Hebrew is so translated (Isa 62:6, 7).

go to—rather, "go into," as in Isa 46:2 [Maurer].

residue of my years—those which I had calculated on. God sends sickness to teach man not to calculate on the morrow, but to live more wholly to God, as if each day were the last.

I said, to and within myself, I concluded it.

In the cutting off of my days; when my days were cut off by the sentence of God, related here, Isaiah 38:1.

I shall go to the gates of the grave; I perceive that I must die without any hopes of prevention. The grave is called a man’s long home, Ecclesiastes 12:5, and the house appointed for all living men, Job 30:23, and death opens the gates of this house. We read also of the gates of death, Psalm 9:13 107:18.

I am deprived of the residue of my years; which I might have lived, according to the common course of nature, and of God’s dispensations; and which I expected and hoped to live, for the service of God and of my generation.

I said, in the cutting off of my days,.... When he was told that he should die, and he believed he should; this he calls a "cutting off" in allusion to the weaver's web, Isaiah 38:12 and a cutting off "his days", he being now in the prime of his age, about thirty nine or forty years of age, and not arrived to the common period of life, and to which, according to his constitution, and the course of nature, he might have attained. The Jews call such a death a cutting off, that is, by the hand of God, which is before a man is fifty years of age. The Vulgate Latin version is, "in the midst of my days"; as it was, according to the common term of life, being threescore and ten, and at most eighty, Psalm 90:10,

I shall go to the gates of the grave; and enter there into the house appointed for all living, which he saw were open for him, and ready to receive him:

I am deprived of the residue of my days; the other thirty or forty years which he might expect to have lived, according to the course of nature; of these he was bereaved, according to the sentence of death he now had in him; what if the words were rendered, "I am visited with more of my years (f)?" and so the sense be, when I was apprehensive that I was just going to be cut off, and to be deprived of the days and years I might have lived, and hoped I should, to the glory of God, and the good of my subjects; just when I saw it was all over with me, I had a gracious visit or message from the Lord, assuring me that fifteen years should be added to my life: and so this is mentioned as a singular instance of divine goodness, in the midst of his distress; and to this sense the Targum agrees,

"because he remembered me for good, an addition was made to my years.''

(f) "visitatus sum, eum adhuc superessent anni", Tigurine version.

I said in the {g} cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the rest of my years.

(c) At which time it was told to me, that I would die.

10. in the cutting off of my days] R.V. In the noontide of my days (lit. “in the stillness of my days”). The phrase has been variously interpreted; but the best sense is that given by the R.V., whether the noon be conceived as the time of rest, or (as in an Arabic idiom) the time when the sun seems to stand still in the heavens. Hezekiah was at the time in his thirty-ninth year. (Cf. “in the midst of my days,” Psalm 102:24.)

the gates of the grave (lit. of Sheol)] Cf. Job 38:17; Psalm 9:13; Psalm 107:18.

I am deprived (lit. “punished”) of the residue of my years] The verb for “be punished” does not elsewhere bear the sense of “be mulcted” as it must do in this translation. Duhm, with a different division of the verse, renders as follows:—

“I said, In the noon-tide of my days I must depart;

I am consigned (cf. Jeremiah 37:21) to the gates of Sheol for the rest of my years.”

Verse 10. - In the cutting off of my days; literally, in the pausing of my days - which is taken by some to mean "the noon-tide of my life" - when my sun had reached its zenith, and might have been expected to begin to decline; by others to signify "the still tranquillity of my life," when it was gliding quietly and peacefully along without anything to disturb it. Ver. 6 is against this latter view. I shall go to the gates of the grave; rather, I shall enter in at the gates of hell (or, Hades) - the place of departed spirits (see the comment on Isaiah 14:9). Hezekiah bewails his fate somewhat as Antigone: Ἀλλ ἔμ ὁ παγκοίτας Αἴδης ζῶσαν ἄγει τὰν Ἀχέροντος ἀκτάν (Soph., 'Ant.,' 11. 810-813). Isaiah 38:10Strophe 1 consists indisputably of seven lines:

"I said, In quiet of my days shall I depart into the gates of Hades:

I am mulcted of the rest of my years.

I said, I shall not see Jah, Jah, in the land of the living:

I shall behold man no more, with the inhabitants of the regions of the dead.

My home is broken up, and is carried off from me like a shepherd's tent:

I rolled up my life like a weaver; He would have cut me loose from the roll:

From day to night Thou makest an end of me."

"In quiet of my days" is equivalent to, in the midst of the quiet course of a healthy life, and is spoken without reference to the Assyrian troubles, which still continued. דּמי, from דּמה, to be quiet, lit., to be even, for the radical form דם has the primary idea of a flat covering, of something stroked smooth, of that which is level and equal, so that it could easily branch out into the different ideas of aequabilitas, equality of measure, aequitas, equanimity, aequitas, equality, and also of destruction equals complanatio, levelling. On the cohortative, in the sense of that which is to be, see Ewald, 228, a; אלכה, according to its verbal idea, has the same meaning as in Psalm 39:14 and 2 Chronicles 21:20; and the construction with בּ ( equals ואבואה אלכה) is constructio praegnans (Luzzatto). The pual פּקּדתּי does not mean, "I am made to want" (Rashi, Knobel, and others), which, as the passive of the causative, would rather be הפקשׂדתּי, like הנסהלתּי, I am made to inherit (Job 7:3); but, I am visited with punishment as to the remnant, mulcted of the remainder, deprived, as a punishment, of the rest of my years. The clause, "Jah in the land of the living," i.e., the God of salvation, who reveals Himself in the land of the living, is followed by the corresponding clause, הדל עם־יושׁבי, "I dwelling with the inhabitants of the region of the dead;" for whilst הלד signifies temporal life (from châlad, to glide imperceptibly away, Job 11:17), הלד signifies the end of this life, the negation of all conscious activity of being, the region of the dead. The body is called a dwelling (dōr, Arab. dâr), as the home of a man who possesses the capacity to distinguish himself from everything belonging to him (Psychol. p. 227). It is compared to a nomadic tent. רעי (a different word from that in Zechariah 11:17, where it is the chirek compaginis) is not a genitive ( equals רעה, Ewald, 151, b), but an adjective in i, like אוילי רעה in Zechariah 11:15. With niglâh (in connection with נסּע, as in Job 4:21), which does not mean to be laid bare (Luzz.), nor to be wrapt up (Ewald), but to be obliged to depart, compare the New Testament ἐκδημεῖν ἐκ τοῦ σώματος (2 Corinthians 5:8). The ἁπ γεγρ קפד might mean to cut off, or shorten (related to qâphach); it is safer, however, and more appropriate, to take it in the sense of rolling up, as in the name of the badger (Isaiah 14:23; Isaiah 34:11), since otherwise what Hezekiah says of himself and of God would be tautological. I rolled or wound up my life, as the weaver rolls up the finished piece of cloth: i.e., I was sure of my death, namely, because God was about to give me up to death; He was about to cut me off from the thrum (the future is here significantly interchanged with the perfect). Dallâh is the thrum, licium, the threads of the warp upon a loom, which becomes shorter and shorter the further the weft proceeds, until at length the piece is finished, and the weaver cuts through the short threads, and so sets it free (בצּע, cf., Job 6:9; Job 27:8). The strophe closes with the deep lamentation which the sufferer poured out at that time: he could not help feeling that God would put an end to him (shâlam, syn. kâlâh, tâmam, gâmar) from day to night, i.e., in the shortest time possible (compare Job 4:20).

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