Isaiah 63:14
As a beast goeth down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD caused him to rest: so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name.
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63:7-14 The latter part of this chapter, and the whole of the next, seem to express the prayers of the Jews on their conversation. They acknowledge God's great mercies and favours to their nation. They confess their wickedness and hardness of heart; they entreat his forgiveness, and deplore the miserable condition under which they have so long suffered. The only-begotten Son of the Father became the Angel or Messenger of his love; thus he redeemed and bare them with tenderness. Yet they murmured, and resisted his Holy Spirit, despising and persecuting his prophets, rejecting and crucifying the promised Messiah. All our comforts and hopes spring from the loving-kindness of the Lord, and all our miseries and fears from our sins. But he is the Saviour, and when sinners seek after him, who in other ages glorified himself by saving and feeding his purchased flock, and leading them safely through dangers, and has given his Holy Spirit to prosper the labours of his ministers, there is good ground to hope they are discovering the way of peace.As a beast that goeth down into the valley - As a herd of cattle in the heat of the day descends into the shady glen in order to find rest. In the vale, streams of water usually flow. By those streams and fountains trees grow luxuriantly, and these furnish a cool and refreshing shade. The cattle, therefore, in the heat of the day, naturally descend from the hills, where there are no fountains and streams, and where they are exposed to an intense sun, to seek refreshment in the shade of the valley. The figure here is that of resting in safety after exposure; and there are few more poetic and beautiful images of comfort than that furnished by cattle lying quietly and safely in the cool shade of a well-watered vale. This image would be much more striking in the intense heat of an Oriental climate than it is with us. Harmer (Obs. i. 168ff) supposes that the allusion here is to the custom prevailing still among the Arabs, when attacked by enemies, of withdrawing with their herds and flocks to some sequestered vale in the deserts, where they find safety. The idea, according to him, is, that Israel lay thus safely encamped in the wilderness; that they, with their flocks and herds and riches, were suffered to remain unattacked by the king of Egypt; and that this was a state of grateful repose, like that which a herd feels after having been closely pursued by an enemy, when it finds a safe retreat in some quiet vale. But it seems to me that the idea first suggested is the most correct - as it is, undoubtedly the most poetical and beautiful of a herd of cattle leaving the hills, and seeking a cooling shade and quiet retreat in a well-watered vale. Such repose, such calm, gentle, undisturbed rest, God gave his people. Such he gives them now, amidst sultry suns and storms, as they pass through the world.

The Spirit of the Lord - (See the note at Isaiah 63:10).

So didst thou lead - That is, dividing the sea, delivering them from their foes, and leading them calmly and securely on to the land of rest. So now, amidst dangers seen and unseen, God leads his people on toward heaven. He removes the obstacles in their way; he subdues their foes; he 'makes them to lie down in green pastures, and leads them beside the still waters' Psalm 23:2; and he bears them forward to a world of perfect peace.

14. As a beast … rest—image from a herd led "down" from the hills to a fertile and well-watered "valley" (Ps 23:2); so God's Spirit "caused Israel to rest" in the promised land after their weary wanderings.

to make … name—(So Isa 63:12; 2Sa 7:23).

As a beast goeth down into the valley; a laden beast goeth warily and gently down the hill: or, as a beast goeth down to the valley for grass, that being a mountainous country: or

going down for going along; so the word is used Isaiah 38:8; noting the evenness of their passage; or alluding to their going down from the shore into that great channel (as the coming out of it is called a going up, Isaiah 63:11) now made through the sea, orderly, and composedly, not like the Gadarenes’ swine, through consternation, ready to break their necks for haste.

The Spirit of the Lord, i.e. the Lord himself,

caused him to rest; led them easily, that they should not be over-travelled, or fall down, or come to any injury through weariness; thus Jeremiah expresseth it, Jeremiah 31:2, and thus God gave them rest from their enemies, drowning of them in the sea, and in their safe conduct, that they could not annoy or disturb them, leading them till he found them a place for resting; the word for leading and resting being much of a like notion, Zechariah 10:6; pointing at their several rests by the way, Numbers 10:33: or it may be read by way of interrogation, as all the foregoing words, and be the close of that inquiry, And where is the Spirit that caused them to rest? or he led them to Canaan, the place of their rest; so called Deu 12:9 Psalm 95:11.

So didst thou lead: the prophet here by an apostrophe doth only repeat the words in the name of the Jews that he had spake before, Isaiah 63:12: q.d. As thou didst then, so mayst thou do again if thou pleasest.

As a beast goeth down into the valley,.... Softly and gently, especially when laden; which may have some respect to the descent of the Israelites into the sea, into which they entered without any fear and dread, and without any hurry and precipitation, though Pharaoh's host was behind them; or rather, "as a beast goes along a valley", or "plain" (c); with ease, and without any interruption, so passed the Israelites through the sea. Thus the Targum renders it,

"as a beast goes, or is led, in a plain;''

so the word is used in Isaiah 38:8, and elsewhere:

the Spirit of the Lord caused him to rest; or gently led him, that is, Israel; he walked on through the sea, with as much facility, and as little danger, as a beast walks on in a valley, or a horse in a plain. Some understand this of leading Israel through the wilderness, where often resting places were found for them, and at last they were brought to the land of rest, Canaan, and settled there:

so didst thou lead thy people; both through the sea, and through the wilderness, in a like easy, safe, and gentle manner:

to make thyself a glorious name; among the nations of the world, as he did by this amazing appearance of his for Israel; and it is hoped by those, whose words these are, he would do the like again, and get himself immortal glory.

(c) "sicut jumentum quod in campo, vel valle, vel planitie, graditur", Gataker.

As a beast goeth down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD caused him to rest: so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name.
14. As the cattle that go down into the valley (R.V.). It is doubtful whether this clause does not continue Isaiah 63:13, adding a second image of the security with which Israel went down into the depths of the sea. It has certainly a more forcible sense in that connexion than if taken as an illustration of the words which follow. The only difficulty is that these words may seem too short to stand alone.

caused him to rest] i.e. brought him (the nation) to the resting-place, the Promised Land (Exodus 33:14; Deuteronomy 12:9; Joshua 1:13 &c.). The ancient versions read, less suitably, “led him.”

so didst thou lead &c.] Summarising the previous description and concluding the retrospect.

Verse 14. - As a beast goeth down into the valley. Bishop Lowth's version seems the best," As the herd descendeth to the valley." Israel's passage through the Sinaitic peninsula into Canaan is compared to the movement of a herd of cattle from its summer pastures in the mountains to the valley at their base, where for a time it rests. So God gave his people, after their many trials, "rest" in Canaan (Hebrews 3:11-18). So didst thou lead thy people. "So" refers, not to the last simile only, but to the entire description contained in vers. 11-14. To make thyself a glorious name (comp. ver. 12, and see also Ezekiel 36:21-23; Malachi 1:2). Isaiah 63:14Israel being brought to a right mind in the midst of this state of punishment, longed fro the better past to return. "Then His people remembered the days of the olden time, of Moses: Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is He who put the spirit of His holiness in the midst of them; who caused the arm of His majesty to go at the right of Moses; who split the waters before them, to make Himself an everlasting name: who caused them to pass through abysses of the deep, like the horse upon the plain, without their stumbling? Like the cattle which goeth down into the valley, the Spirit of Jehovah brought them to rest: thus hast Thou led Thy people, to make Thyself a majestic name." According to the accentuation before us, Isaiah 63:11 should be rendered thus: "Then He (viz., Jehovah) remembered the days of the olden time, the Moses of His people" (lxx, Targ., Syr., Jerome). But apart from the strange expression "the Moses of His people," which might perhaps be regarded as possible, because the proper name mōsheh might suggest the thought of its real meaning in Hebrew, viz., extrahens equals liberator, but which the Syriac rejects by introducing the reading ‛abhdō (Moses, His servant), we have only to look at the questions of evidently human longing which follow, to see that Jehovah cannot be the subject to ויּזכּר (remembered), by which these reminiscences are introduced. It is the people which begins its inquiries with איּה, just as in Jeremiah 2:6 (cf., Isaiah 51:9-10), and recals "the days of olden time," according to the admonition in Deuteronomy 32:7. Consequently, in spite of the accents, such Jewish commentators as Saad. and Rashi regard "his people" (‛ammō) as the subject; whereas others, such as AE, Kimchi, and Abravanel, take account of the accents, and make the people the suppressed subject of the verb "remembered," by rendering it thus, "Then it remembered the days of olden time, (the days) of Moses (and) His people," or in some similar way. But with all modifications the rendering is forced and lame. The best way of keeping to the accents is that suggested by Stier, "Then men (indef. man, the French on) remembered the days of old, the Moses of His people."

But why did the prophet not say ויּזכּרוּ, as the proper sequel to Isaiah 63:10? We prefer to adopt the following rendering and accentuation: Then remembered (zakeph gadol) the days-of-old (mercha) of Moses (tiphchah) His people. The object stands before the subject, as for example in 2 Kings 5:13 (compare the inversions in Isaiah 8:22 extr., Isaiah 22:2 init.); and mosheh is a genitive governing the composite "days of old" (for this form of the construct state, compare Isaiah 28:1 and Ruth 2:1). The retrospect commences with "Where is He who led them up?" etc. The suffix of המּעלם (for המעלם, like רדם in Psalm 68:28, and therefore with the verbal force predominant) refers to the ancestors; and although the word is determined by the suffix, it has the article as equivalent to a demonstrative pronoun (ille qui sursum duxit, eduxit eos). "The shepherd of his flock" is added as a more precise definition, not dependent upon vayyizkōr, as even the accents prove. את is rendered emphatic by yethib, since here it signifies un cum. The Targum takes it in the sense of instar pastoris gregis sui; but though עם is sometimes used in this way, את never is. Both the lxx and Targum read רעה; Jerome, on the other hand, adopts the reading רעי, and this is the Masoretic reading, for the Masora in Genesis 47:3 reckons four רעה, without including the present passage. Kimchi and Abravanel also support this reading, and Norzi very properly gives it the preference. The shepherds of the flock of Jehovah are Moses and Aaron, together with Miriam (Psalm 77:21; Micah 6:4). With these (i.e., in their company or under their guidance) Jehovah led His people up out of Egypt through the Red Sea. With the reading רעי, the question whether beqirbô refers to Moses or Israel falls to the ground. Into the heart of His people (Nehemiah 9:20) Jehovah put the spirit of His holiness: it was present in the midst of Israel, inasmuch as Moses, Aaron, Miriam, the Seventy, and the prophets in the camp possessed it, and inasmuch as Joshua inherited it as the successor of Moses, and all the people might become possessed of it. The majestic might of Jehovah, which manifested itself majestically, is called the "arm of His majesty;" an anthropomorphism to which the expression "who caused it to march at the right hand of Moses" compels us to give an interpretation worthy of God. Stier will not allow that תּפארתּו זרע is to be taken as the object, and exclaims, "What a marvellous figure of speech, an arm walking at a person's right hand!" But the arm which is visible in its deeds belongs to the God who is invisible in His own nature; and the meaning is, that the active power of Moses was not left to itself, but he overwhelming omnipotence of God went by its side, and endowed it with superhuman strength. It was by virtue of this that the elevated staff and extended hand of Moses divided the Red Sea (Exodus 14:16). בּוקע has mahpach attached to the ב, and therefore the tone drawn back upon the penultimate, and metheg with the tsere, that it may not be slipped over in the pronunciation. The clause וגו לעשׂות affirms that the absolute purpose of God is in Himself. But He is holy love, and whilst willing for Himself, He wills at the same time the salvation of His creatures. He makes to Himself an "everlasting name," by glorifying Himself in such memorable miracles of redemption, as that performed in the deliverance of His people out of Egypt. According to the general order of the passage, Isaiah 63:13 apparently refers to the passage through the Jordan; but the psalmist, in Psalm 106:9 (cf., Psalm 77:17), understood it as referring to the passage through the Red Sea. The prayer dwells upon this chief miracle, of which the other was only an after-play. "As the horse gallops over the plain," so did they pass through the depths of the sea יכּשׁלוּ לא (a circumstantial minor clause), i.e., without stumbling. Then follows another beautiful figure: "like the beast that goeth down into the valley," not "as the beast goeth down into the valley," the Spirit of Jehovah brought it (Israel) to rest, viz., to the menūchâh of the Canaan flowing with milk and honey (Deuteronomy 12:9; Psalm 95:11), where it rested and was refreshed after the long and wearisome march through the sandy desert, like a flock that had descended from the bare mountains to the brooks and meadows of the valley. The Spirit of God is represented as the leader here (as in Psalm 143:10), viz., through the medium of those who stood, enlightened and instigated by Him, at the head of the wandering people. The following כּן is no more a correlate of the foregoing particle of comparison than in Isaiah 52:14. It is a recapitulation, and refers to the whole description as far back as Isaiah 63:9, passing with נהגתּ into the direct tone of prayer.

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