Isaiah 63:19 Commentaries: We have become like those over whom You have never ruled, Like those who were not called by Your name.
Isaiah 63:19
We are yours: you never bore rule over them; they were not called by your name.
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(19) We are thine . . .Thine, as the italics show, is not in the Hebrew, and its insertion distorts the meaning. Better, We are become as those over whom Thou hast never ruled, upon whom Thy name hath never been called (Cheyne). What the prophet presents as a plea is not the contrast between Israel and the heathen, but the fact that Israel has been left to sink to the level of the heathen who had not known God. Would not that thought move Jehovah, as it were, to remember this covenant?

63:15-19 They beseech him to look down on the abject condition of their once-favoured nation. Would it not be glorious to his name to remove the veil from their hearts, to return to the tribes of his inheritance? The Babylonish captivity, and the after-deliverance of the Jews, were shadows of the events here foretold. The Lord looks down upon us in tenderness and mercy. Spiritual judgments are more to be dreaded than any other calamities; and we should most carefully avoid those sins which justly provoke the Lord to leave men to themselves and to their deceiver. Our Redeemer from everlasting is thy name; thy people have always looked upon thee as the God to whom they might appeal. The Lord will hear the prayers of those who belong to him, and deliver them from those not called by his name.We are thine - We urge it as a reason for thy interposition to restore the land and the temple, that we are thine from ancient times. Such I take to be the meaning of the passage - in accordance with the common translation, except that the expression מעולם mē‛ôlâm, 'from ancient times,' rendered by our translators in connection with לא lo', 'never,' is thus connected with the Jewish people, instead of being regarded as applied to their enemies. The idea is, that it is an argument why God should interpose in their behalf, that they had been for a long time his people, but that his foes, who then had possession of the land, had never submitted to his laws. There has been, however, great variety in interpreting the passage. Lowth renders it:

We have long been as those whom thou hast not ruled;

We have not been called by thy name.

Noyes renders it better:

It has been with us as if thou hadst never ruled over us,

As if we had not been called by thy name.

Symmachus and the Arabic Saadias render it in the same manner. The Septuagint renders it, 'We have been as at the beginning when thou didst not rule over us, neither were we called by thy name;' that is, we have gone back practically to our former pagan condition, by rejecting thy laws, and by breaking thy covenant. Each of these interpretations makes a consistent sense, but it seems to me that the one which I have expressed above is more in accordance with the Hebrew.

Thou never barest rule over them - Over our enemies - regarded in the prophetic vision as then in possession of the land. The idea is, that they have come into thy land by violence, and laid waste a nation where they had no right to claim any jurisdiction, and have now no claim to thy protection.

They were not called by thy name - Hebrew, 'Thy name was not called upon them.' They were aliens and strangers who had unjustly intruded into the heritage of the Lord.

19. thine … never—rather, "We are Thine from of old; Thou barest not rule over them" [Barnes]. Lowth translates, "We for long have been as those over whom Thou hast not ruled, who are not called by Thy name"; "for long" thus stands in contrast to "but a little while" (Isa 63:18). But the analogy of Isa 63:18 makes it likely that the first clause in this verse refers to the Jews, and the second to their foes, as English Version and Barnes translate it. The Jews' foes are aliens who have unjustly intruded into the Lord's heritage. We are thine; we continue so; we are in covenant which they never were; and thus it is an argument they use with God to look upon them. Or, the word thine, being not in the text, some do otherwise interpret it; We are even in the same condition we were in at first, either in Egypt, or Ur of the Chaldees, before thou broughtest us into covenant, and are accordingly dealt with; we are become even as they, whom thou didst not bear rule over. Or, we are as, if thou hadst never ruled over us of old.

Thou never barest rule over them; not in that manner, or in that relation to them, that thou didst over us.

They were not called by thy name; neither owned thee, nor owned by thee: this phrase implies a near relation in some circumstance or other, as wife, or servant, or child, &c., Isaiah 4:1. We are thine,.... Thy children, thy people, thy subjects. Some read it, taking a word from the next clause, "we are thine of old", or "from everlasting" (h); as the Lord's special people are, being chosen by him in Christ before the foundation of the world, and taken into an everlasting covenant by him, when he became their God, and they his people; agreeably to which is the Targum,

"we are thy people that were of old;''

so Kimchi reads the words: "thou never barest rule over them"; the Heathens that oppressed them; they never acknowledged God as their King as they did, or were subject to him as they were; and therefore had no claim to protection from him as they had:

they were not called by thy name; they were not called the people of God, nor the children of God, nor the servants or subjects of God; or, "thy name is not called upon them" (i); or they called after it; nor did they call upon it, but served other gods. The Targum is,

"thou hast not given unto the people the doctrine of thy law, neither is thy name called upon by them.''

(h) "non fuimus tui ab omni aevo", Grotius; "a seculo", Pagninus, Montanus. (i) "nec invocatum est nomen tuum super eos", Pagninus, Montanus.

We are thine: thou never barest rule over them; they were not called by thy name.
19. Render: We are become (as those) over whom from of old Thou hast not borne rule, over whom Thy name has not been called. The visible splendours of Jehovah’s kingship have been absent throughout the later period of the nation’s history. Comp. ch. Isaiah 26:13, and (for the second part of the verse) Deuteronomy 28:10; Jeremiah 14:9.Verse 19. - We are thine. There is no "thine" in the original, and so important a word cannot possibly be supplied from without. Translate, We are as those over whom thou hast not ruled from of old, as those upon whom thy Name has not been called; i.e. we have lost all our privileges - we have become in God's sight no better than the heathen - he has forgotten that we were ever his people.

Israel 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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