Isaiah 44:4
And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) As willows.—The same word as in Psalm 137:2 and Isaiah 15:7. Botanists identify it with a species of Viburnum, which grows on the banks of streams, rather than with the weeping” or other species of Salix.

44:1-8 Israel is here called Jeshurun, which means the upright one. Such only are Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile. Those that serve God he will own. He will help them over difficulties, and in their services. Water is the emblem of the Holy Spirit; as water refreshes, cleanses, and makes the earth fruitful, so do his influences the soul. This gift of the Holy Ghost is the great blessing, the plentiful pouring out of which God kept for the latter days. Where God gives his Spirit, he will give all other blessings. Hereby shall be a great increase of the church; thus it shall be spread to distant places. Was there any other Rock, or Protector, that could defend them? None besides could foretell these things to come, of which God by his prophets gave notice. All was set in order in the Divine predictions, as well as in the Divine purposes. Could any other have done so? Who can compare with Israel's Redeemer and King?And they shall spring up - The idea is, that as plants and trees planted by water-courses, and in well-watered fields, grow and flourish, so should their children grow in virtue, hope, piety, and zeal.

As among the grass - They shall spring up and flourish as the grass does when abundantly watered from heaven. On the meaning of the unusual form of the word בבים bebēyn, in the Hebrew ("in among"), see Vitringa and Rosenmuller. The ב (b) here is undoubtedly an error of the transcriber for כ (k) ("as") - an error which, from the similarity of the letters, might be readily made. The Septuagint reads it, Ὡς Hōs - 'As.' The Chaldee reads it, כ (k) ("as").

As willows by the water-courses - Willows are usually planted in such places, and grow rapidly and luxuriantly. It denotes here, abundant increase, vigor and beauty; and means that their posterity would be greatly blessed of God. A similar figure to denote the prosperity and happiness of the righteous occurs in Psalm 1:3 :

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,

That bringeth forth his fruit in his season;

His leaf also shall not wither.

These two verses teach us:

1. That God will pour his blessings on the children of his people - a promise which in all ages, when parents are faithful, is abundantly fulfilled.

2. That one of the richest blessings which can be imparted to a people is, that God's Spirit should descend on their children.

3. That the Spirit of God alone is the source of true happiness and prosperity to our children. All else - property, learning, accomplishment. beauty, vigor, will be vain. It is by his blessing only - by the influence of piety - that they will spring forth as among the grass, and like willows by the streams of water.

4. Parents should pray earnestly for a revival of religion. No better description can be given of a revival than that given here - the Spirit of God descending like streams and floods on the young; and their springing forth in the graces of piety as among the grass, and growing in love to God and love to mankind like willows by the water-courses. Who would not pray for such a work of grace? What family, what congregation, what people can be happy without it?

4. they—thy "seed" and "offspring" (Isa 44:3).

as among—needlessly inserted in English Version. Rather, "The seed shall spring up as willows among the grass beside canals of water" [Horsley]. Or, "They shall spring up among the grass (that is, luxuriantly; for what grows in the midst of grass grows luxuriantly) as willows by the water-courses," which makes the parallel clauses better balanced [Maurer].

They shall spring up as among the grass; they shall increase and flourish like grass, and those herbs and plants which grow up in the midst of it.

And they shall spring up as among the grass,.... That is, such on whom the Spirit of the Lord shall be poured with his gifts and grace, and with the blessings of it: by the "grass" may be meant common believers, comparable to green grass, for their numbers, being many; for their weakness in themselves; for their flourishing condition; like grass for its greenness, and verdure, and its springing up by clear shining after rain; see Psalm 72:6 and by those that "spring up among them" are intended the apostles and ministers of the word, who exceed common Christians in their gifts, and grace, and usefulness; grow up higher and taller than they, like palm trees and cedars in Lebanon; and as such exceed private saints as tall trees exceed the grass they grow among:

as willows by the water courses; a sort of trees well known, and which delight in watery places, and grow best on banks of rivers, and shoot up apace in a very short time, and spread their branches; so the apostles, after the effusion of the Spirit on them, grew quickly in gifts, and grace, and evangelic knowledge; and their usefulness spread far and near. The Targum is,

"the righteous shall grow tender and delicate as the flowers of the grass, as a tree that sends forth its roots by flows of water.''

And they {d} shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.

(d) That is, your children and posterity will increase wonderfully after their deliverance from Babylon.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. spring up as among the grass] R.V., more accurately, omits “as”; but the text is unquestionably corrupt. There is no doubt that the LXX. preserves the true reading: spring up as grass among the waters. (Instead of the impossible בבן חציר, read כבין מים חציר.)

willows] or poplars; see on ch. Isaiah 15:7.

Verse 4. - They shall spring up as among the grass. The LXX. have, "As grass among the waters;" and this reading is followed by Bishop Lowth, Ewald, and Mr. Cheyne. But there does not seem to be any necessity for departing from the existing Hebrew text. As willows. There is some doubt whether the Hebrew word used ('ereb) is rightly translated "willows." The modern yarab seems certainly not to be a "willow," but rather a species of Viburnum (see the long note in Delitzsch's 'Commentary on Isaiah,' vol. 2. pp. 203, 204, Eng. trans.). It is, however, most strictly a water-plant, growing only "near flowing water." Isaiah 44:4The prophet cannot bear to dwell any longer upon this dark picture of their state of punishment; and light of the promise breaks through again, and in this third field of the fourth prophecy in all the more intensive form. "And now hear, O Jacob my servant, and Israel whom I have chosen. Thus saith Jehovah, thy Creator, and thy Former from the womb, who cometh to thy help; Fear not, my servant Jacob; and Jeshurun, whom I have chosen! For I will pour out water upon thirsty ones, and brooks upon the dry ground; will pour out my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine after-growth; and they shoot up among the grass, as willows by flowing waters." In contrast with the cheerem, i.e., the setting apart for destruction, there is here presented the promise of the pouring out of the Spirit and of blessing; and in contrast with the giddūphı̄m, the promise of general eagerness to come and honour Israel and its God (Isaiah 44:5). The epithets by which Jehovah designates Himself, and those applied to Israel in Isaiah 44:1, Isaiah 44:2, make the claim to love all the more urgent and emphatic. The accent which connects מבּטן ויצרך, so as to make יעזרך by itself an attributive clause like בו בּחרתּי, is confirmed by Isaiah 44:24 and Isaiah 49:5 : Israel as a nation and all the individuals within it are, as the chosen servant of Jehovah (Isaiah 49:1), the direct formation of Jehovah Himself from the remotest point of their history. In Isaiah 44:26, Jeshurun is used interchangeably with Jacob. This word occurs in three other passages (viz., Deuteronomy 32:15; Deuteronomy 33:5, Deuteronomy 33:26), and is always written with kibbutz, just as it is here. The rendering ̓Ισραελίσκος in Gr. Ven. is founded upon the supposition that the word is equivalent to ישׂרלוּן - a strange contraction, which is inadmissible, if only on account of the substitution of שׁ for שׂ. The שׁ points back to ישׁר, to be straight or even; hence A. S. Th. εὐθύσς (elsewhere εὐθύτατος), Jerome rectissimus (though in Deuteronomy 32:15 he renders it, after the lxx, dilectus). It is an offshoot of ישׁר equals ישׁר (Psalm 25:21), like זבלוּן, ידתוּן from זבל, ידת; and ūn ( equals ōn) does not stamp it as a diminutive (for אישׁון, which Kamphausen adduces in opposition to Hengstenberg and Volck, does not stand in the same relation to אישׁ as mannikin to man, but rather as the image of a man to a man himself; compare the Arabic insân). We must not render it therefore as an affectionate diminutive, as Gesenius does, the more especially as Jehovah, though speaking in loving terms, does not adopt the language of a lover. The relation of Jeshurun to ישׁר is rather the same as that of שׁלמה to שׁלום, so that the real meaning is "gentleman," or one of gentlemanly or honourable mind, though this need not appear in the translation, since the very nature of a proper name would obliterate it. In Isaiah 44:3, the blessings to be expected are assigned as the reason for the exhortation to be of good cheer. In Isaiah 44:3 water is promised in the midst of drought, and in Isaiah 44:3 the Spirit and blessing of God, just as in Joel the promise of rain is first of all placed in contrast with drought; and this is followed by the promise of the far surpassing antitype, namely, the outpouring of the Spirit. There is nothing at variance with this in the fact that we have not the form צמאה in the place of צמא fo e (according to the analogy of עיפה ארץ, ציּה, נלאה, Psalm 68:10). By צמא) we understand the inhabitants of the land who are thirsting for rain, and by yabbâshâh the parched land itself. Further on, however, an express distinction is made between the abundance of water in the land and the prosperous growth of the nation planted by the side of water-brooks (Psalm 1:3). We must not regard Isaiah 44:3, therefore, as a figure, and Isaiah 44:3 as the explanation, or turn Isaiah 44:3 into a simile introduced in the form of a protasis, although unquestionably water and mountain streams are made the symbol, or rather the anagogical type, of spiritual blessings coming down from above in the form of heavenly gifts, by a gradual ascent from מים and נוזלים (from נזל, to trickle downwards, Sol 4:15, Jeremiah 18:14) to ה רוּח and ה בּרכת (בּרכּת). When these natural and spiritual waters flow down upon the people, once more restored to their home, they spring up among (בּבין only met with here, lxx and Targum כּבין) the grass, like willows by water-brooks.

The willows

(Note: "The garab," says Wetzstein, "was only met with by me in one locality, or, at any rate, I only noticed it once, namely in the Wady So'b, near to a ford of the river which is called the Hd ford, from the chirbet el-Hd, a miserable ruin not far off. It is half an hour to the west of Nimrin (Nimrim, Isaiah 15:6), or, speaking more exactly, half an hour above (i.e., to the east of) Zaft Nimriin, an antique road on the northern bank of the river, hewn in a precipitous wall of rock, like the ladder of Tyre. I travelled through the valley in June 1860, and find the following entry in my diary: 'At length the ravine opened up into a broader valley, so that we could get down to the clear, copious, and rapid stream, and were able to cross it. Being exhausted by the heat, we lay down near the ford among the oleanders, which the mass of flowers covered with a rosy glow. The reed grows here to an unusual height, as in the Wady Yarmk, and willows (zafzaf) and garab are mingled together, and form many-branched trees of three or four fathoms in height. The vegetation, which is fresh and luxuriant by the water-side, is scorched up with the heat in the valley within as little as ten paces from the banks of the stream. The farthest off is the 'osar plant, with its thick, juicy, dark green stalks and leaves, and its apple-like fruit, which is of the same colour, and therefore not yet ripe. The garab tree has already done flowering. The leaves of this tree stand quite close around the stem, as in the case of the Sindiana (the Syrian oak), and, like the leaves of the latter, are fringed with little thorns; but, like the willow, it is a water plant, and our companions Abdallah and Nasrallah assured us that it was only met with near flowing water and in hot lowlands. Its bunches of flowers are at the points of the slender branches, and assume an umbelliferous form. This is the ערב of the Bible.' Consequently the garab (or (as nom. unitatis) the garaba cannot be regarded as a species of willow; and Winer's assumption (Real-Wrterbuch, s.v. Weiden), that the weeping willow is intended at any rate in Psalm 137:2, is an error. In Arabic the weeping willow is always called shafshaf mustachi (the drooping tree). At the same time, we may render ערבים 'willows,' since the garab loves running water as well as the willow, and apparently they seek one another's society; it is quite enough that the difference should be clearly pointed out in the commentary. The reason why the garab did not find its way into my herbarium was the following. On my arrival in Salt, I received the first intelligence of the commencement of the slaughter of the Christians on Antilibanus, and heard the report, which was then commonly believed, that a command had been sent from Constantinople to exterminate Christianity from Syria. This alarming report compelled me to inquire into the actual state of affairs; therefore, leaving my luggage and some of my companions behind, I set off with all speed to Jerusalem, where I hoped to obtain reliable information, accompanied by Herr Drgen, my kavas, and two natives, viz., Abdallah the smith, from Salt, and Nasrallah the smith, from Ain Genna. For a ride like this, which did not form part of the original plan of my journey, everything but weapons, even a herbarium, would have been in the way. Still there are small caravans going every week between Salt and Jerusalem, and they must always cross the Hd ford, so that it would be easy to get a twig of the garab. So far as I remember, the remains of the blossom were of a dirty white colour." (Compare p. 213, where we have taken nachal hâ‛ărâbhı̄m, according to the meaning of the words, as a synonym of Wady Sufsaf, or, more correctly, Safsf. From the description given above, the garab is a kind of viburnum with indented leaves. This tree, which is of moderate height, is found by the side of streams along with the willow. According to Sprengel (Gesch. der Botanik. i. 25), the safsâf is the salix subserrata of Wildenow).)

are the nation, which has hitherto resembled withered plants in a barren soil, but is now restored to all the bloom of youth through the Spirit and blessing of God. The grass stands for the land, which resembles a green luxuriant plain; and the water-brooks represent the abundant supply of living waters, which promote the prosperity of the land and its inhabitants.

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