And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor dig; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain on it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)There shall come up briers and thorns.—The picture of desolation is still part of a parable. The “briers and thorns” (both the words are peculiar to Isaiah) are the base and unworthy who take the place of the true leaders of the people (Judges 9:7-15). The absence of the pruning and the digging answers to the withdrawal of the means of moral and spiritual culture (John 15:2; Luke 13:8). The command given to the clouds (comp. 2Samuel 1:21, for the outward form of the thought) implies the cessation of all gracious spiritual influences.Isaiah 5:5. The image is carried out, and means that the Jews should be left utterly without protection.
I will also command the clouds ... - It is evident here, that the parable or figure is partially dropped. A farmer could not command the clouds. It is God alone who could do that; and the figure of the vineyard is dropped, and God is introduced speaking as a sovereign. The meaning is, that he would withhold his divine influences, and would abandon them to desolation. The sense of the whole verse is plain. God would leave the Jews without protection; he would remove the guards, the helps, the influences, with which he had favored them, and leave them to their own course, as a vineyard that was unpruned, uncultivated, unwatered. The Chaldee has well expressed the sense of the passage: 'I will take away the house of my sanctuary (the temple), and they shall be trodden down. I will regard them as guilty, and there shall be no support or defense for them; they shall be abandoned, and shall become wanderers. I will command the prophets, that they shall not prophesy over them.' The lesson taught here is, that when a people become ungrateful, and rebellious, God will withdraw from them, and leave them to desolation; compare Revelation 2:3.
no rain—antitypically, the heaven-sent teachings of the prophets (Am 8:11). Not accomplished in the Babylonish captivity; for Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Haggai, and Zechariah prophesied during or after it. But in gospel times.It shall not be pruned nor digged: vine-dressers use to dig up and open the earth about the roots of the vines, for divers good purposes. The meaning is. I will remove my ministers, who used great care and diligence to make you fruitful.
There shall come briers and thorns; I will give you up to your own wicked lusts.
I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain on it; I will deprive you of all my blessings, which are oft compared to rain, &c. Matthew 23:38,
it shall not be pruned nor digged; as vineyards are, to make them more fruitful; but no care shall be taken of it, no means made use of to cultivate it, all being ineffectual:
but there shall come up briers and thorns; sons of Belial, wicked and ungodly men; immoralities, errors, heresies, contentions, quarrels, &c. which abounded about the time of Jerusalem's destruction, and before:
I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon them; by "the clouds" are meant the apostles of Christ, who were full of the doctrines of grace, from whom they dropped as rain upon the mown grass; these, when the Jews contradicted and blasphemed the Gospel, and judged themselves unworthy of it, were commanded by Christ to turn from them, and go to the Gentiles, Acts 13:45 agreeably to this sense is the Targum,And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. lay it waste] or, make an end of it. The word is thought to be connected with that rendered “desolate” in ch. Isaiah 7:19,—better “precipitous,” “cut off,” hence (as here) “made an end of.”
there shall come up … thorns] The Heb. is more forcible: it shall go up in thorns and thistles. “Thorns and thistles,” a phrase peculiar to the book of Isaiah: Isaiah 7:23-25; Isaiah 9:18; Isaiah 10:17; Isaiah 27:4. The change of rhythm referred to (Introd. Note above) commences with this clause—rightly, since the next line reveals the whole drift of the parable: He who can command the clouds must be no other than Jehovah himself.Verse 6. - I will lay it waste; literally, I will make it a desolation (comp. Isaiah 7:19, where a cognate term occurs). Active ravage is not so much pointed at, as the desolation which comes from neglect. There shall come up briers and thorns. The natural produce of neglected ground in Palestine (see Proverbs 24:31). The "thorns and briers" symbolize vices of various kinds, the natural produce of the human soul, if God leaves it to itself. The words are scarcely to be taken literally, though it is probably true that "no country in the world has such variety and abundance of thorny plants as Palestine in its present desolation" (Macmillan, 'Min. of Nat.,' p. 103). I will also command the clouds. Here at last disguise is thrown off, and the speaker manifestly appears as Jehovah, who can alone "command the clouds." The "rain" intended is probably that of his gracious influences. Isaiah 15:6; Isaiah 23:13); or else Zion (Isaiah 4:5) is the subject. We prefer the latter. Zion or Jerusalem would be a booth, that is to say, as the parallel clause affirms, a place of security and concealment (mistor, which only occurs here, is used on account of the alliteration with machseh in the place of sether, which the prophet more usually employs, viz., in Isaiah 28:17; Isaiah 32:2). "By day" (yōmâm, which is construed with לצל in the construct state, cf., Ezekiel 30:16) is left intentionally without any "by night" to answer to it in the parallel clause, because reference is made to a place of safety and concealment for all times, whether by day or night. Heat, storm, and rain are mentioned as examples to denote the most manifold dangers; but it is a singular fact that rain, which is a blessing so earnestly desired in the time of Chōreb, i.e., of drought and burning heat, should also be included. At the present day, when rain falls in Jerusalem, the whole city dances with delight. Nevertheless rain, i.e., the rain which falls from the clouds, is not paradisaical; and its effects are by no means unfrequently destructive. According to the archives of Genesis, rain from the clouds took the place of dew for the first time at the flood, when it fell in a continuous and destructive form. The Jerusalem of the last time will be paradise restored; and there men will be no longer exposed to destructive changes of weather. In this prediction the close of the prophetic discourse is linked on to the commencement. This mountain of Zion, roofed over with a cloud of smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night, is no other than the mountain of the house of Jehovah, which was to be exalted above all the mountains, and to which the nations would make their pilgrimage; and this Jerusalem, so holy within, and all glorious without, is no other than the place from which the word of Jehovah was one day to go forth into all the world. But what Jerusalem is this? Is it the Jerusalem of the time of final glory awaiting the people of God in this life, as described in Revelation 11 (for, notwithstanding all that a spiritualistic and rationalistic anti-chiliasm may say, the prophetic words of both Old and New Testament warrant us in expecting such a time of glory in this life); or is it the Jerusalem of the new heaven and new earth described in Revelation 20:1-15 :21? The true answer is, "Both in one." The prophet's real intention was to depict the holy city in its final and imperishable state after the last judgment. But to his view, the state beyond and the closing state here were blended together, so that the glorified Jerusalem of earth and the glorified Jerusalem of heaven appeared as if fused into one. It was a distinguishing characteristic of the Old Testament, to represent the closing scene on this side the grave, and the eternal state beyond, as a continuous line, having its commencement here. The New Testament first drew the cross line which divides time from eternity. It is true, indeed, as the closing chapters of the Apocalypse show, that even the New Testament prophecies continue to some extent to depict the state beyond in figures drawn from the present world; with this difference, however, that when the line had once been drawn, the demand was made, of which there was no consciousness in the Old Testament, that the figures taken from this life should be understood as relating to the life beyond, and that eternal realities should be separated from their temporal forms.
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