Isaiah 59:18
According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompense to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompense.
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(18) To his adversaries . . .—The judgment is generally against all, in Israel or outside it, who come under this description. The word “islands” is used, as elsewhere, for far-off lands. The words point to every such judgment, from that of Cyrus to the great final day.

59:16-21 This passage is connected with the following chapters. It is generally thought to describe the coming of the Messiah, as the Avenger and Deliverer of his church. There was none to intercede with God to turn away his wrath; none to interpose for the support of justice and truth. Yet He engaged his own strength and righteousness for his people. God will make his justice upon the enemies of his church and people plainly appear. When the enemy threatens to bear down all without control, then the Spirit of the Lord shall stop him, put him to flight. He that has delivered, will still deliver. A far more glorious salvation is promised to be wrought out by the Messiah in the fulness of time, which all the prophets had in view. The Son of God shall come to us to be our Redeemer; the Spirit of God shall come to be our Sanctifier: thus the Comforter shall abide with the church for ever, Joh 14:16. The word of Christ will always continue in the mouths of the faithful; and whatever is pretended to be the mind of the Spirit, must be tried by the Scriptures. We must lament the progress of infidelity and impiety. But the cause of the Redeemer shall gain a complete victory even on earth, and the believer will be more than conqueror when the Lord receives him to his glory in heaven.According to their deeds - The general sentiment of this verse is plain, though there is not a little difficulty in the construction of the Hebrew. Lowth pronounces the former part of the verse, as it stands in the Hebrew text, to be 'absolutely unintelligible. By a slight change in the Hebrew as it now stands (reading בעל ba‛al, "lord," instead of כעל ke‛al "as according to"), Lowth supposes that he has obtained the true sense, and accordingly translates it:

He is mighty to recompense;

He that is mighty to recompense shall requite.

This translation is substantially according to the Chaldee, but there is no authority from manuscripts to change the text in this place. Nor is it necessary. The particle כעל ke‛al occurs as a preposition in Isaiah 63:7, in the sense of 'as according to,' or 'according to,' and is similar in its form to the word מעל mē‛al, which often occurs in the sense of from above, or from upon Genesis 24:64; Genesis 40:19; Isaiah 34:16; Jeremiah 36:11; Amos 7:11. The sense of the verse before us is, that God would inflict just punishment on his enemies. It is a general sentiment, applicable alike to the deliverance from Babylon and the redemption of his church and people at all times. In order to effect the deliverance of his people it was necessary to take vengeance on those who had oppressed and enslaved them. So in order to redeem his church, it is often necessary to inflict punishment on the nations that oppose it, or to remove by death the adversaries that stand in his way. This punishment is inflicted strictly according to their deeds. The principal thought here is, undoubtedly, that as they had opposed and oppressed the people of God, so he would take vengeance on them. He would remove his enemies, and prepare the way in this manner for the coming of his kingdom.

To the islands - On the use of the word 'islands' in Isaiah, see the notes at Isaiah 41:1. The idea here is, that he would 'repay recompence' or take vengeance on the foreign nations which had oppressed them.

18. deeds—Hebrew, "recompenses"; "according as their deeds demand" [Maurer]. This verse predicts the judgments at the Lord's second coming, which shall precede the final redemption of His people (Isa 66:18, 15, 16).

islands—(See on [859]Isa 41:1). Distant countries.

Deeds, Heb. recompences or deserts, i.e. he will recompense his adversaries with those effects of his fury that they have deserved.

Fury; a metonymy of the efficient, for the effects of his fury.

Islands; or, islanders; a metonymy of the containing for the contained; either Mesopotamia, and other adjacent islands, encompassed by Tigris and Euphrates; or those remoter nations (for the Hebrews call nations remote from Judea islands, Genesis 10:5 Isaiah 41:1. See Poole "Isaiah 20:6", and the reason of it) under the king of Babylon, that thought themselves secure. According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay,.... As the enemies of his people have treated them, so will the Lord deal with them; as they have shed their blood, he will, according to the laws of retribution and retaliation, give them blood to drink, as they deserve. The whore of Rome shall be rewarded as the followers of Christ have been rewarded by her, and double shall be rendered to her double, according to her works, Revelation 16:6,

fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies: the church's adversaries and enemies are Christ's, and so he esteems them; and therefore his wrath and fury is poured out by way of recompence to them, for all the ill they have done them, even the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath, Revelation 16:19,

to the islands he will repay recompence; even to those who dwell in the more distant and remote parts of the antichristian jurisdiction; for when the cup of wrath shall be given to Babylon every island will flee away, Revelation 16:20.

According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the {r} isles he will repay recompence.

(r) That is, your enemies who dwell in various places, and beyond the sea.

18. According to their deeds] Or deserts. The word means simply an accomplished deed, either in a good or bad sense; but it is chiefly used in expressions which imply a reference to reward or retribution. In the next line it denotes the recompence itself (cf. ch. Isaiah 35:4).

According to … accordingly] The form of the comparative sentence is hardly grammatical. The compound preposition which introduces both protasis and apodosis has in the second case no noun to govern, and it cannot be treated either as a conjunction or as an adverb. We must either (with Dillmann) omit “accordingly” as dittography, or (with Duhm) change “he will repay” into a noun; rendering, “as the deserts so the retribution.” The sentence, however, would read awkwardly without a verb.

to the islands he will repay recompence] The clause seems to identify the “adversaries” and “enemies” of Jehovah with the “islands” (cf. Isaiah 41:1), i.e. the heathen world; but that is almost certainly a misinterpretation of the sense of the passage. If there is any connexion with the earlier part of the discourse, the “adversaries” spoken of must be the apostate Jews,—those who by their sins hindered the coming of salvation. The prophet cannot mean that because Israel’s sin has separated it from Jehovah, therefore judgement will descend on the heathen. Apart from this clause, indeed, there is nothing in the context to suggest the thought of a world-judgement, although of course the conception of a judgement beginning with Israel and extending to the nations is possible (see on ch. Isaiah 3:13). The words, however, are wanting in the LXX., and the verse would be greatly simplified by their removal. Their insertion is easily accounted for through a misunderstanding of Isaiah 59:19.

18–20. The consequences of Jehovah’s interposition.Verse 18. - According to their deeds; rather, according to their deserts (comp. Psalm 28:4, ad fin.). He will repay. The ordinary future here, and in the remainder of the prophecy, replaces the "perfect of prophetic certitude," which has been employed in vers. 16, 17. Fury to his adversaries, recompense to his enemies. God's "adversaries" are those of his own household - his people, the ungodly Israelites; his "enemies" are the heathen that oppress his people (comp. Isaiah 1:24, which is very similar). To the islands; i.e. the maritime lands, which, under Assyria, and afterwards under Babylon, took part in the oppression of his people. The people have already indicated by על־כּן in Isaiah 59:9 that this benighted, hopeless state is the consequence of their prevailing sins; they now come back to this, and strike the note of penitence (viddui), which is easily recognised by the recurring rhymes ānu and ênu. The prophet makes the confession (as in Jeremiah 14:19-20, cf., Isaiah 3:21.), standing at the head of the people as the leader of their prayer (ba‛al tephillâh): "For our transgressions are many before Thee, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are known to us, and our evil deeds well known: apostasy and denial of Jehovah, and turning back from following our God, oppressive and false speaking, receiving and giving out from the heart words of falsehood." The people acknowledge the multitude and magnitude of their apostate deeds, which are the object of the omniscience of God, and their sins which bear witness against them (ענתה the predicate of a neuter plural; Ges. 146, 3). The second כּי resumes the first: "our apostate deeds are with us (את as in Job 12:3; cf., עם, Job 15:9), i.e., we are conscious of them; and our misdeeds, we know them" (ידענוּם for ידענון, as in Genesis 41:21, cf., Isaiah 59:8, and with ע, as is always the case with verbs ל ע before נ, and with a suffix; Ewald, 60). The sins are now enumerated in Isaiah 59:13 in abstract infinitive forms. At the head stands apostasy in thought and deed, which is expressed as a threefold sin. בּה (of Jehovah) belongs to both the "apostasy" (treachery; e.g., Isaiah 1:2) and the "denial" (Jeremiah 5:12). נסוג is an inf. abs. (different from Psalm 80:19). Then follow sins against the neighbour: viz., such speaking as leads to oppression, and consists of sârâh, that which deviates from or is opposed to the law and truth (Deuteronomy 19:16); also the conception (concipere) of lying words, and the utterance of them from the heart in which they are conceived (Matthew 15:18; Matthew 12:35). הרו and הגו are the only poel infinitives which occur in the Old Testament, just as שׁושׂתי (Isaiah 10:13) is the only example of a poel perfect of a verb ל ה. The pol is suitable throughout this passage, because the action expressed affects others, and is intended to do them harm. According to Ewald, the poel indicates the object or tendency: it is the conjugation employed to denote seeking, attacking, or laying hold of; e.g., לושׁן, lingua petere, i.e., to calumniate; עוין, oculo petere, i.e., to envy.
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