I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)I will plant in the wilderness.—A picture as of the Paradise of God (Isaiah 51:3), with its groves of stately trees, completes the vision of the future. The two groups of four and three, making up the symbolic seven, may probably have a mystic meaning. The “shittah” is the acacia, the “oil tree” the wild olive, as distinguished from the cultivated (Romans 11:17), the “fir tree” is probably the cypress, the “pine” stands for the plane, always—as in the opening of Plato’s Phœdrus, and the story of Xerxes in Herod. vii. 31,—the glory of Eastern scenery and the “box-tree” is perhaps the larch, or a variety of cedar. The “myrtle” does not appear elsewhere in the Old Testament till after the exile (Nehemiah 8:15; Zechariah 1:8; Zechariah 1:10-11), but then it appears as if indigenous. It supplies the proper name Hadassah (Esther) in Esther 2:7.Isaiah 32:15).
The shittah-tree - This is the Hebrew name without change, שׁטה shı̂ṭṭâh. The Vulgate is spinam. The Septuagint renders it, Πύξον Puchon - 'The box.' Lowth renders it, 'The acacia.' Probably the acacia, or the spina AEgyptiaca - the Egyptian thorn of the ancients - is intended by it. It is a large tree, growing abundantly in Egypt and Arabia, and is the tree from which the gum-arabic is obtained. It is covered with large black thorns, and the wood is hard, and, when old, resembles ebony.
And the myrtle - The myrtle is a tree which rises with a shrubby upright stem, eight or ten feet high. Its branches form a dense, full head, closely garnished with oval lanceolate leaves. It has numerous small pale flowers from the axillas, singly on each footstalk (Encyc.) There are several species of the myrtle, and they are especially distinguished for their forming a dense and close top, and thus constituting a valuable tree for shade. It is a tree that grows with great rapidity.
And the oil-tree - Hebrew, 'Tree of oil' that is, producing oil. Doubtless the olive is intended here, from whose fruit oil was obtained in abundance. This was a common tree in Palestine, and was one of the most valued that grew.
The fir-tree - The word used here (ברושׁ berôsh) is commonly rendered, in our version, 'fir-tree' (Isaiah 60:13; Isaiah 55:13; Zechariah 11:2; Hosea 14:8-9; 2 Samuel 6:5; 1 Kings 5:8, 1 Kings 5:10; 1 Kings 6:15, 1 Kings 6:34; Nahum 2:3, and in other places). Our translators understood it evidently as referring to the cedar. It is often joined, however, with the cedar (see the note at Isaiah 14:8; compare Isaiah 37:24; Zechariah 11:1-2), and evidently denotes another tree, probably of the same class. It is probable that the word usually denotes the cypress. There are various kinds of cypress. Some are evergreen, and some are deciduous, as the American white cedar. The wood of these trees is remarkable for its durability. Among the ancients, coffins were made of it, and the tree itself was an emblem of mourning. It is mentioned here because its extended branches and dense foliage would produce a grateful shade.
And the pine - The Septuagint renders this Λεύκην Leukēn, And - 'The white poplar.' The Vulgate renders it, 'The elm.' Gesenius supposes that a species of hard oak, holm or ilex, is intended. It is not easy, however, to determine what species of tree is meant.
The box-tree - Gesenius supposes that by this word is denoted some tall tree - a species of cedar growing on mount Lebanon that was distinguished by the smallness of its cones, and the upward direction of its branches. With us the word box denotes a shrub used for bordering flower-beds. But the word here denotes a tree - such as was sufficient to constitute a shade.
shittah—rather, the "acacia," or Egyptian thorn, from which the gum Arabic is obtained [Lowth].
oil tree—the olive.
fir tree—rather, the "cypress": grateful by its shade.
pine—Gesenius translates, "the holm."
box tree—not the shrub used for bordering flower beds, but [Gesenius] a kind of cedar, remarkable for the smallness of its cones, and the upward direction of its branches.Exodus 25:5 and is so called by the Targum here:
and the myrtle, and the oil tree; about the former there is no difficulty, and one would think there should be none about the latter, and that the olive tree is meant; but Kimchi thinks that is not certain, and supposes the pine tree is meant; and observes that the olive tree is distinguished from this oil tree in Nehemiah 8:15, as indeed it is; and is by our translators there rendered the pine tree, which they take to be meant by another word in the next clause:
I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together; what we here render the "pine" the Targum interprets it of the "elm", and so the Vulgate Latin version: now by all these are figuratively meant converted persons in the Gentile world, in whom as great a change was wrought, as if, instead of briers and thorns, came up such trees as these; and who, by the grace of God, were made as goodly and beautiful as some of these trees were; as odorous and of as sweet a scent in their graces and duties as others; and as profitable and fruitful in grace and good works like others of them; and comparable to them, as being some of them evergreen, durable, and incorruptible; because of their perseverance in grace and holiness.I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)19. The desert itself shall be transformed into a grove of stately and beautiful trees. I will plant] Better: I will place. The shittah tree is the acacia. The myrtle is only mentioned in exilic and post-exilic writings; ch. Isaiah 55:13; Zechariah 1:8; Zechariah 1:10 f.; Nehemiah 8:15.
the oil tree] Not the olive, but the oleaster or wild olive.
the fir tree] Rather: the cypress (R.V. marg.). With regard to the two last of the seven trees there is no sure tradition. The first (tidhar) is identified by different authorities with the fir, the elm and the plane. The other (tě’asshûr) is according to some the box-tree, according to others a species of cedar, probably the sherbîn-tree of the Arabs (cypressus oxycedrus). The names occur again only in ch. Isaiah 60:13; the last, however, is also disguised in a corrupt reading in Ezekiel 27:6.Verse 19. - I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, etc. The "glory of Lebanon," the "excellency of Carmel and Sharon" (Isaiah 35:2), shall be given to the "wilderness," wherein Israel dwells. The trees named are the choicest of Syria and Palestine, viz. the cedar (erez). the great glory of Libanus; the acacia (shittah), abundant in the Jordan valley; the myrtle (hadas),whieh grew on the hills about Jerusalem (Nehemiah 8:15); the olive, cultivated over the whole country; the fir (berosh), or juniper. a product of Lebanon (2 Chronicles 2:8); the plane (tidhar), a tree far from uncommon in Coele-syria, sometimes growing to a great size; and the sherbin (teasshur), a sort of cedar, remarkable for the upward tendency of its branches. The list of names shows a writer familiar with the Palestinian region, but not familiar with Babylonia. Isaiah 45:24) stands at the head; and then, in order that every kind may be included, the enemies are called by a different name every time. The three substantives bear much the same relation to one another as lis, rixa, bellum (milchâmâh, lit., throng equals war-tumult, like the epic κλόνος), hence adversarii, inimici, hostes. The suffixes have the force of objective genitives. We have founded our translation upon the reading מצּוּתיך. The three names of the enemies are placed emphatically at the close of the sentences, and these are long drawn out, whilst the indignation gives vent to itself; whereas in Isaiah 41:13 there follows nothing but short sentences, in which the persecuted church is encouraged and affectionately embraced. Two clauses, which are made to rhyme with ēm, announce the utter destruction of their foes; then the inflective rhyme ekha is repeated five times; and the sixth time it passes over into ı̄kha.
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