Isaiah 63:3
I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) I have trodden the winepress alone . . .—The “winepress” is here, as elsewhere (Joel 3:13; Lamentations 1:15; Revelation 14:18-20), the received symbol of the carnage of battle. What the hero-conqueror asserts is that the battle was fought by him single-handed. He had no human allies, but God was with him. A slight change in the vowel-points, adopted by some interpreters, turns the verbs into futures: “I will tread . . . will trample, . . .” as in the second clause of the Authorised Version. It is better, perhaps to take the latter verb also as in the past. The work of slaughter is clearly thought of as accomplished before the warrior is seen.

63:1-6 The prophet, in vision, beholds the Messiah returning in triumph from the conquest of his enemies, of whom Edom was a type. Travelling, not as wearied by the combat, but, in the greatness of his strength, prepared to overcome every opposing power. Messiah declares that he had been treading the wine-press of the wrath of God, Re 14:19; 19:13, and by his own power, without any human help, he had crushed his obstinate opposers, for the day of vengeance was determined on, being the appointed season for rescuing his church. Once, he appeared on earth in apparent weakness, to pour out his precious blood as an atonement for our sins; but he will in due time appear in the greatness of his strength. The vintage ripens apace; the day of vengeance, fixed and determined on, approaches apace; let sinners seek to be reconciled to their righteous Judge, ere he brings down their strength to the earth. Does Christ say, I come quickly? let our hearts reply, Even so, come; let the year of the redeemed come.I have trodden the wine-press alone - I, Yahweh, have indeed trod the wine-press of my wrath, and I have done it alone (compare the notes at Isaiah 34:5-6). The idea here is, that he had completely destroyed his foes in Idumea, and had done it by a great slaughter.

For I will tread - Or rather, I trod them. It refers to what he had done; or what was then past.

And their blood shall be sprinkled - Or rather, their blood was sprinkled. The word used here (נצח nētsach) does not commonly mean blood; but splendor, glory, purity, truth, perpetuity, eternity. Gesenius derives the word, as used here, from an Arabic word meaning to sprinkle, to scatter; and hence, the juice or liquor of the grape as it is sprinkled or spirted from grapes when trodden. There is no doubt here that it refers to blood - though with the idea of its being spirted out by treading down a foe.

And I will stain all my raiment - I have stained all my raiment - referring to the fact that the slaughter was extensive and entire. On the extent of the slaughter, see the notes at Isaiah 34:6-7, Isaiah 34:9-10.

3. Reply of Messiah. For the image, see La 1:15. He "treads the wine-press" here not as a sufferer, but as an inflicter of vengeance.

will tread … shall be … will stain—rather preterites, "I trod … trampled … was sprinkled … I stained."

blood—literally, "spirited juice" of the grape, pressed out by treading [Gesenius].

I have trodden the winepress, i.e. I have destroyed the enemies of my people, I have crushed them as grapes are crushed; this being a usual metaphor to describe the utter destruction of a people, Psalm 44:5 Isaiah 25:10 Revelation 14:19,20; and the easiness of doing it, no more than to crush a bunch of grapes.

Alone, to note his good-will and great power. The masters of vineyards are not willing to do this drudgery themselves; neither, if they would, could they be able to manage a whole vintage by themselves: but Christ was willing to undertake it, and able to go through it, without calling in the help of any other.

Of the people there was none with me:

1. Not that he excludes the Jews, but the other nations that dwelt about them; therefore he saith

of the people there was none with him; but God and his own people may be reckoned as one, Judges 5:23. And though this be true of his passion, in which sense some would carry it, yet doth it not so well suit with the design; for Christ is described here not as a priest sacrificing, or shedding of his own blood, but as a king, conquering and shedding the blood of his and his church’s enemies; hence it is said

their blood, not his own, to show that it cannot fairly relate to his passion: besides Christ could expect no help in that, for he knew none could; but here he looked, and wondered that there was none, Isaiah 63:5. And though it may be said that he makes use of instruments both in his conquering of temporal enemies, and also spiritual, consider,

1. That here he speaks as a general, and therefore the whole victory is ascribed to him alone.

2. They do it not only by commission and authority derived from him, but by strength conveyed to them from him, without which they could do no more than a watch without a spring, or tool without the workman’s strength and skill: and that Christ may make it appear they are no coadjutors that he needs, he makes them bring about such things as they never designed, as he speaks of the Assyrian; See Poole "Isaiah 10:6", See Poole "Isaiah 10:7"; and this is to be understood in like manner of Christ’s conquest over spiritual enemies, 2 Corinthians 4:7. See Acts 3:12,13.

And trample them in my fury: this latter expression is but an aggravating of the former; it implies a kind of insulting, an allusion to conquerors, who were wont to make the conquered to lie down, that others might trample on them, Isaiah 51:23.

Shall be sprinkled; or, was sprinkled; as in treading of grapes the juice sparkles upon the clothes: q.d. in his answer, Thus came my garments to be sprinkled.

I will stain; it shall not be, or it was not, only sprinkled, but perfectly stained, as it were rolled in blood, Isaiah 9:5.

I have trodden the winepress alone,.... This is an answer to the question before put, and confirms what was observed, that his garments were like one that treadeth in the winepress; this was very true, he had trodden it, and trodden it alone, and that was the reason his garments were of such a hue; what others did by their servants, he did by himself, alone and without them. The winepress is a symbol of the wrath of God; not of what Christ bore himself as the sinner's surety, for then he was trodden as a vine, or the clusters of it, himself; but of what he executed on others. Wicked men are compared to clusters of the vine; the winepress into which they are cast is the wrath of God, and Christ is the treader of it; particularly he will be in the latter day, when antichrist and his followers will be destroyed by him; see Revelation 14:18.

And of the people there was none with me; either fighting with him, that could oppose him, any more than the clusters of grapes can resist the treaders of them; or to assist him in taking vengeance on his enemies: for though the armies of heaven follow him in white, these are little more than attendants and spectators, at most but instruments; all the power to conquer and destroy is from himself, and owing to the twoedged sword proceeding out of his mouth, Revelation 19:14 even as when he stood in the legal place and stead of his people there were none of them with him; he alone was the author of salvation, none could bear the wrath of God but himself, or engage with spiritual enemies, or work out salvation for them. But of this the texts speaks not, only of the destruction of the enemies of Christ and his church:

for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; with great eagerness, with all his might and strength; and this is the reason why his garments were so stained, even with the blood of his enemies, trodden and trampled under foot by him in this furious manner; as a person in a winepress alone, and treading it with all his might, has his garments more sparkled and stained with the juice of the grape, than when there are many, and these tread lightly. The words being in the future tense show that they respect time to come; and the manner of speaking ascertains the accomplishment of them, and which is further confirmed by what follows:

and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment; just as the garments of those that tread in the winepress are sprinkled and stained with the juice of the grape; this will have its accomplishment when he shall appear in a vesture dipped in blood, or shall be as bloody, with the blood of his enemies, as if it was dipped in it, Revelation 19:13.

I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 3. - I have trodden the wine-press. The warrior replies. He accepts the suggestion of the prophet; but metaphorically, not literally. He has indeed been "treading a wine-press," but it is the wine-press of his fury, in which he has trampled down his enemies; and the stains upon his raiment are, consequently, not wine-stains, but stains of blood (comp. Joel 3:13; Lamentations 1:15; Revelation 14:19, 20; Revelation 19:15). Alone. In mine own might, with none to aid me. The literal wine-press was always trodden by a band of men. Of the people; rather, of the peoples; i.e. of the neighbouring nations none took part with God against the special enemies of his people, the Idumaeans. All more or less sympathized with his adversaries, and therefore participated in their punishment (see ver. 6). For I will tread them... trample them; rather, so I trode them ... trampled them (Lowth, Rosenmuller, Delitzsch, Cheyne, by an alteration of the vowel-points). The whole is a prophecy of the future; but the dramatic form of the narrative requires that the verbs should be in the past. As "the peoples" would not help God, but took the side of his enemies, they too were placed in the winepress, and crushed under his feet. Their blood; literally, their juice. Lowth and Kay translate, "life-blood;" Delitzsch, "life-sap;" Mr. Cheyne, excellently, "life-stream." Shall be sprinkled... will stain; rather, was sprinkled... stained. Isaiah 63:3The person replies: "I have trodden the wine-trough alone, and of the nations no one was with me: and I trode them in my wrath, and trampled them down in my fury; and their life-sap spirted upon my clothes, and all my raiment was stained. For a day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption was come. And I looked round, and there was no helper; and I wondered there was no supporter: then mine own arm helped me; and my fury, it became my support. And I trode down nations in my wrath, and made them drunk in my fury, and made their life-blood run down to the earth." He had indeed trodden the wine-press (pūrâh equals gath, or, if distinct from this, the pressing-trough as distinguished from the pressing-house or pressing-place; according to Frst, something hollowed out; but according to the traditional interpretation from pūr equals pârar, to crush, press, both different from yeqebh: see at Isaiah 5:2), and he alone; so that the juice of the grapes had saturated and coloured his clothes, and his only. When he adds, that of the nations no one was with him, it follows that the press which he trode was so great, that he might have needed the assistance of whole nations. And when he continues thus: And I trod them in my wrath, etc., the enigma is at once explained. It was to the nations themselves that the knife was applied. They were cut off like grapes and put into the wine-press (Joel 3:13); and this heroic figure, of which there was no longer any doubt that it was Jehovah Himself, had trodden them down in the impulse and strength of His wrath. The red upon the clothes was the life-blood of the nations, which had spirted upon them, and with which, as He trode this wine-press, He had soiled all His garments. Nētsach, according to the more recently accepted derivation from nâtsach, signifies, according to the traditional idea, which is favoured by Lamentations 3:18, vigor, the vital strength and life-blood, regarded as the sap of life. ויז (compare the historical tense ויּז in 2 Kings 9:33) is the future used as an imperfect, and it spirted, from nâzâh (see at Isaiah 52:15). אגאלתּי (from גּאל equals גּעל, Isaiah 59:3) is the perfect hiphil with an Aramaean inflexion (compare the same Aramaism in Psalm 76:6; 2 Chronicles 20:35; and הלאני, which is half like it, in Job 16:7); the Hebrew form would be הגאלתּי.

(Note: The Babylonian MSS have אגאלתי with chirek, since the Babylonian (Assyrian) system of punctuation has no seghol.)

AE and A regard the form as a mixture of the perfect and future, but this is a mistake. This work of wrath had been executed by Jehovah, because He had in His heart a day of vengeance, which could not be delayed, and because the year (see at Isaiah 61:2) of His promised redemption had arrived. גּאּלי (this is the proper reading, not גּאוּלי, as some codd. have it; and this was the reading which Rashi had before him in his comm. on Lamentations 1:6) is the plural of the passive participle used as an abstract noun (compare היּים vivi, vitales, or rather viva, vitalia equals vita). And He only had accomplished this work of wrath. Isaiah 63:5 is the expansion of לבדּי, and almost a verbal repetition of Isaiah 59:16. The meaning is, that no one joined Him with conscious free-will, to render help to the God of judgment and salvation in His purposes. The church that was devoted to Him was itself the object of the redemption, and the great mass of those who were estranged from Him the object of the judgment. Thus He found Himself alone, neither human co-operation nor the natural course of events helping the accomplishment of His purposes. And consequently He renounced all human help, and broke through the steady course of development by a marvellous act of His own. He trode down nations in His wrath, and intoxicated them in His fury, and caused their life-blood to flow down to the ground. The Targum adopts the rendering "et triturabo eos," as if the reading were ואשׁבּרם, which we find in Sonc. 1488, and certain other editions, as well as in some codd. Many agree with Cappellus in preferring this reading; and in itself it is not inadmissible (see Lamentations 1:15). But the lxx and all the other ancient versions, the Masora (which distinguishes ואשׁכרם with כ, as only met with once, from ואשׁברם morf , with ב in Deuteronomy 9:17), and the great majority of the MSS, support the traditional reading. There is nothing surprising in the transition to the figure of the cup of wrath, which is a very common one with Isaiah. Moreover, all that is intended is, that Jehovah caused the nations to feel the full force of this His fury, by trampling them down in His fury.

Even in this short ad highly poetical passage we see a desire to emblematize, just as in the emblematic cycle of prophetical night-visions in Isaiah 21:1-22:14. For not only is the name of Edom made covertly into an emblem of its future fate, אדם becoming אדם upon the apparel of Jehovah the avenger, when the blood of the people, stained with blood-guiltiness towards the people of God, is spirted out, but the name of Bozrah also; for bâtsar means to cut off bunches of grapes (vindemiare), and botsrâh becomes bâtsı̄r, i.e., a vintage, which Jehovah treads in His wrath, when He punishes the Edomitish nation as well as all the rest of the nations, which in their hostility towards Him and His people have taken pleasure in the carrying away of Israel and the destruction of Jerusalem, and have lent their assistance in accomplishing them. Knobel supposes that the judgment referred to is the defeat which Cyrus inflicted upon the nations under Croesus and their allies; but it can neither be shown that this defeat affected the Edomites, nor can we understand why Jehovah should appear as if coming from Edom-Bozrah, after inflicting this judgment, to which Isaiah 41:2. refers. Knobel himself also observes, that Edom was still an independent kingdom, and hostile to the Persians (Diod. xv 2) not only under the reign of Cambyses (Herod. iii. 5ff.), but even later than that (Diod. xiii. 46). But at the time of Malachi, who lived under Artaxerxes Longimanus, if not under his successor Darius Nothus, a judgment of devastation was inflicted upon Edom (Malachi 1:3-5), from which it never recovered. The Chaldeans, as Caspari has shown (Obad. p. 142), cannot have executed it, since the Edomites appear throughout as their accomplices, and as still maintaining their independence even under the first Persian kings; nor can any historical support be found to the conjecture, that it occurred in the wars between the Persians and the Egyptians (Hitzig and Khler, Mal. p. 35). What the prophet's eye really saw was fulfilled in the time of the Maccabaeans, when Judas inflicted a total defeat upon them, John Hyrcanus compelled them to become Jews, and Alexander Jannai completed their subjection; and in the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, when Simon of Gerasa avenged their cruel conduct in Jerusalem in combination with the Zelots, by ruthlessly turning their well-cultivated land into a horrible desert, just as it would have been left by a swarm of locusts (Jos. Wars of the Jews, iv 9, 7).

The New Testament counterpart of this passage in Isaiah is the destruction of Antichrist and his army (Revelation 19:11.). He who effects this destruction is called the Faithful and True, the Logos of God; and the seer beholds Him sitting upon a white horse, with eyes of flaming fire, and many diadems upon His head, wearing a blood-stained garment, like the person seen by the prophet here. The vision of John is evidently formed upon the basis of that of Isaiah; for when it is said of the Logos that He rules the nations with a staff of iron, this points to Psalm 2:1-12; and when it is still further said that He treads the wine-press of the wrath of Almighty God, this points back to Isaiah 63. The reference throughout is not to the first coming of the Lord, when He laid the foundation of His kingdom by suffering and dying, but to His final coming, when He will bring His regal sway to a victorious issue. Nevertheless Isaiah 63:1-6 has always been a favourite passage for reading in Passion week. It is no doubt true that the Christian cannot read this prophecy without thinking of the Saviour streaming with blood, who trode the wine-press of wrath for us without the help of angels and men, i.e., who conquered wrath for us. But the prophecy does not relate to this. The blood upon the garment of the divine Hero is not His own, but that of His enemies; and His treading of the wine-press is not the conquest of wrath, but the manifestation of wrath. This section can only be properly used as a lesson for Passion week so far as this, that Jehovah, who here appears to the Old Testament seer, was certainly He who became man in His Christ, in the historical fulfilment of His purposes; and behind the first advent to bring salvation there stood with warning form the final coming to judgment, which will take vengeance upon that Edom, to whom the red lentil-judgment of worldly lust and power was dearer than the red life-blood of that loving Servant of Jehovah who offered Himself for the sin of the whole world.

There follows now in Isaiah 63:7-64:11 a prayer commencing with the thanksgiving as it looks back to the past, and closing with a prayer for help as it turns to the present. Hitzig and Knobel connect this closely with Isaiah 63:1-6, assuming that through the great event which had occurred, viz., the overthrow of Edom, and of the nations hostile to the people of God as such, by which the exiles were brought one step nearer to freedom, the prophet was led to praise Jehovah for all His previous goodness to Israel. There is nothing, however, to indicate this connection, which is in itself a very loose one. The prayer which follows is chiefly an entreaty, and an entreaty appended to Isaiah 63:1-6, but without any retrospective allusion to it: it is rather a prayer in general for the realization of the redemption already promised. Ewald is right in regarding Isaiah 63:7-66:24 as an appendix to this whole book of consolation, since the traces of the same prophet are unmistakeable; but the whole style of the description is obviously different, and the historical circumstances must have been still further developed in the meantime.

The three prophecies which follow are the finale of the whole. The announcement of the prophet, which has reached its highest point in the majestic vision in Isaiah 63:1-6, is now drawing to an end. It is standing close upon the threshold of all that has been promised, and nothing remains but the fulfilment of the promise, which he has held up like a jewel on every side. And now, just as in the finale of a poetical composition, all the melodies and movements that have been struck before are gathered up into one effective close; and first of all, as in Hab, into a prayer, which forms, as it were, the lyrical echo of the preaching that has gone before.

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