Isaiah 63:6
And I will tread down the people in my anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.
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(6) I will tread down . . .—Better, I trod; and so throughout the verse.

Make them drunk, implies a change of imagery from that of the battle to that of the cup of wrath, as in Isaiah 51:17, Psalm 75:8, Jeremiah 25:15. The section which thus closes has often been applied (as, e.g., in the Prayer-Book Epistle for the Monday before Easter) to the passion of our Lord. In that agony and death it has been said He was alone, and none was with Him. He trod the winepress of the wrath of God. It is obvious, however, that this, though we may legitimately apply some of Isaiah’s phrases to it, is not an interpretation of this passage, which paints a victory, and not a passion. The true analogue in the New Testament is that of the victory of the triumphant Christ in Revelation 19:11-13; but it may be conceded that, from one point of view, the agony and the cross were themselves a conflict with the powers of evil (John 12:31-32; Colossians 2:15), and that as He came out of that conflict as a conqueror, the words in which Isaiah paints the victor over Edom may, though in a much remoter analogy, be applicable to Him in that conflict also.

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.And I will tread them down - Or rather, 'I did tread them down.' The allusion here is to a warrior who tramples on his foes and treads them in the dust (see the notes at Isaiah 25:10).

And made them drunk - That is, I made them reel and fall under my fury like a drunken man. In describing the destruction of Idumea in Isaiah 34:5, Yahweh says that his sword was made drunk, or that it rushed intoxicated from heaven. See the notes on that verse. But here he says that the people, under the terrors of his wrath, lost their power of self-command, and fell to the earth like an intoxicated man. Kimchi says that the idea is, that Yahweh extended the cup of his wrath for them to drink until they became intoxicated and fell. An image of this kind is several times used in the Scriptures (see the notes at Isaiah 51:17; compare Psalm 75:8). Lowth and Noyes render this, 'I crushed them.' The reason of this change is, that according to Kennicott, twenty-seven manuscripts (three of them ancient) instead of the present Hebrew reading ואשׁכרם va'ăshakerēm, 'And I will make them drunk,' read ואשׁברם va'ăshaberēm, 'I will break or crush them.' Such a change, it is true, might easily have been made from the similarity of the Hebrew letters, כ (k) and ב (b). But the authority for the change does not seem to me to be sufficient, nor is it necessary. The image of making them stagger and fall like a drunken man, is more poetic than the other, and is in entire accordance with the usual manner of writing by the sacred penman. The Chaldee renders it, 'I cast to the lowest earth the slain of their strong ones.'

And I will bring down their strength - I subdued their strong places, and their mighty armies. Such is the sense giver, to the passage by our translators. But Lowth and Noyes render it, more correctly, 'I spilled their life-blood upon the ground.' The word which our translators have rendered 'strength' (נצח nētsach), is the same word which is used in Isaiah 63:3, and which is rendered there 'blood' (see the note at that verse). It is probably used in the same sense here, and means that Yahweh had brought their blood to the earth; that is, he had spilled it upon the ground. So the Septuagint renders it, 'I shed their blood (κατήγαγον τὸ αίμα katēgagon to haima) upon the earth.' This finishes the vision of the mighty conqueror returning from Edom. The following verse introduces a new subject. The sentiment in the passage is, that Yahweh by his own power, and by the might of his own arm, would subdue all his foes and redeem his people. Edom in its hostility to his people, the apt emblem of all his foes, would be completely humbled; and in its subjugation there would be the emblem and the pledge that all his enemies would be destroyed, and that his own church would be safe. See the notes at Isaiah 34; Isaiah 35:1-10.

6. Rather, preterites, "I trod down … made them drunk." The same image occurs Isa 51:17, 21-23; Ps 75:8; Jer 25:26, 27.

will bring down … strength to … earth—rather, "I spilled their life-blood (the same Hebrew words as in Isa 63:3) on the earth" [Lowth and Septuagint].

Make them drunk: the Hebrew often expresseth calamities by a cup of wine, or strong drink, by which the distressed persons are made drunk, Psalm 75:8 Isaiah 51:21,22; they go as it were to and fro, not knowing what to do with themselves; and in special drunk with their own blood, Isaiah 49:26 Revelation 16:6.

I will bring down their strength to the earth; whatever it is wherein their strength lies, their strong ones, or their strong places, or deep counsels, &c., he will bring to the very dust, to nothing; like drunken men, they shall fall to the ground, not being able to stand; the most miserable condition that men can fall into, Psalm 36:12. And I will tread down the people in mine anger,.... See Gill on Isaiah 63:3,

and make them drunk in my fury; or with it (s) the wrath of God is signified by a cup, which he gives wicked men to drink, and which is an inebriating one to them, Psalm 75:8, and here it signifies the cup of the wine of the fierceness of God's wrath, which shall be given to mystical Babylon, to antichrist and his followers, Revelation 14:10,

and I will bring down their strength to the earth; their strong kingdoms, fortified cities, and mighty men, their wealth and riches, of which they boasted, and in which they trusted; see Isaiah 26:5. The eighteenth chapter of the Revelation is a commentary on these words.

(s) "excandescentia mea", Junius & Tremellius; "aestu meo", Cocceius; so Gataker.

And I will tread down the people in my anger, and make them {f} drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.

(f) I will so astonish them and make them so giddy that they will not know which way to go.

6. Repetition of the thought of Isaiah 63:3.

And I will tread down the people] R.V. rightly, And I trod down the peoples, though the verb differs from either of those in Isaiah 63:3. Past tenses are to be restored throughout.

make (made) them drunk] Some MSS., as well as the first printed edition of the Hebrew Bible (Soncino, 1488) read “broke them in pieces.” The Targ. likewise supports this reading, which is more suitable to the context than that of the received text. The orthographic difference is minute (substitution of ב for כ).

and I will … strength] R.V. and I poured out their lifeblood,—as in Isaiah 63:3. The A.V. thinks of another noun, similar in form, but from a different root, meaning “glory” (cf. 1 Samuel 15:29).Verse 6. - I will tread down... make drunk ... bring down; rather, I trode down... made drunk... brought down. See the comment on ver. 3. The destruction was to be utter, overwhelming, absolute - one from which there could be no recovery (comp. Revelation 19:11-21, where the simile of the wine-press, and the "vesture dipped in blood," seem introduced with a special reference to this passage). SECTION X. ? AN ADDRESS OF THE EXILES TO GOD, INCLUDING THANKSGIVING, CONFESSION OF SIN, AND SUPPLICATION (CH. 63:7-64.). The concluding strophe goes back to the standpoint of the captivity. "Go forth, go forth through the gates, clear the way of the people. Cast up, cast up the road, clear it of stones; lift up a banner above the nations! Behold, Jehovah hath caused tidings to sound to the end of the earth. Say to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him. And men will call them the holy people, the redeemed of Jehovah; and men will call thee, Striven after, A city that will not be forsaken." We cannot adopt the rendering proposed by Gesenius, "Go ye into the gates," whether of Jerusalem or of the temple, since the reading would then be שׁערים בּאוּ (Genesis 23:10) or בשּׁערים (Jeremiah 7:2). For although בּ עבר may under certain circumstances be applied to entrance into a city (Judges 9:26), yet it generally denotes either passing through a land (Isaiah 8:21; Isaiah 34:10; Genesis 41:46; Leviticus 26:6, etc.), or through a nation (2 Samuel 20:14), or through a certain place (Isaiah 10:28); so that the phrase בּשּׁער עבר, which does not occur anywhere else (for in Micah 2:13, which refers, however, to the exodus of the people out of the gates of the cities of the captivity, שׁער ויּעברוּ do not belong together), must refer to passing through the gate; and the cry בשׁערים עברוּ means just the same as מבּבל צאוּ ("Go ye forth from Babylon") in Isaiah 48:20; Isaiah 52:11.

The call to go out of Babylon forms the conclusion of the prophecy here, just as it does in Isaiah 48:20-21; Isaiah 52:11-12. It is addressed to the exiles; but who are they to whom the command is given, "Throw up a way," - a summons repeatedly found in all the three books of these prophecies (Isaiah 40:3; Isaiah 57:14)? They cannot be the heathen, for this is contradicted by the conclusion of the charge, "Lift ye up a banner above the nations;" nor can we adopt what seems to us a useless fancy on the part of Stier, viz., that Isaiah 62:10 is addressed to the watchmen on the walls of Zion. We have no hesitation, therefore, in concluding that they are the very same persons who are to march through the gates of Babylon. The vanguard (or pioneers) of those who are coming out are here summoned to open the way by which the people are to march, to throw up the road (viz., by casting up an embankment, hamsillâh, as in Isaiah 11:16; Isaiah 49:11; maslūl, Isaiah 35:8), to clear it of stones (siqqēl, as in Isaiah 5:2; cf., Hosea 9:12, shikkēl mē'âdâm), and lift up a banner above the nations (one rising so high as to be visible far and wide), that the diaspora of all places may join those who are returning home with the friendly help of the nations (Isaiah 11:12; Isaiah 49:22). For Jehovah hath caused tidings to be heard to the end of the earth, i.e., as we may see from what follows, the tidings of their liberation; in other words, looking at the historical fulfilment, the proclamation of Cyrus, which he caused to be issued throughout his empire at the instigation of Jehovah (Ezra 1:1). Hitzig regards השׁמיע as expressing what had actually occurred at the time when the prophet uttered his predictions; and in reality the standpoint of the prophets was so far a variable one, that the fulfilment of what was predicted did draw nearer and nearer to it ἐν πνεύματι. But as hinnēh throughout the book of Isaiah, even when followed by a perfect, invariably points to something future, all that can be said is, that the divine announcement of the time of redemption, as having now arrived, stands out before the soul of the prophet with all the certainty of a historical fact. The conclusion which Knobel draws from the expression "to the end of the earth," as to the Babylonian standpoint of the prophet, is a false one. In his opinion, "the end of the earth" in such passages as Psalm 72:8; Zechariah 9:10 ('aphsē-'ârets), and Isaiah 24:16 (kenaph hâ'ârets), signifies the western extremity of the orbis orientalis, that is to say, the region of the Mediterranean, more especially Palestine; whereas it was rather a term applied to the remotest lands which bounded the geographical horizon (compare Isaiah 42:10; Isaiah 48:20, with Psalm 2:8; Psalm 22:28, and other passages). The words that follow ("Say ye," etc.) might be taken as a command issued on the ground of the divine hishimiă‛ ("the Lord hath proclaimed"); but hishimiă‛ itself is a word that needs to be supplemented, so that what follows is the divine proclamation: Men everywhere, i.e., as far as the earth or the dispersion of Israel extends, are to say to the daughter of Zion - that is to say, to the church which has its home in Zion, but is now in foreign lands - that "its salvation cometh," i.e., that Jehovah, its Saviour, is coming to bestow a rich reward upon His church, which has passed through sever punishment, but has been so salutarily refined. Those to whom the words "Say ye," etc., are addressed, are not only the prophets of Israel, but all the mourners of Zion, who become mebhasserı̄m, just because they respond to this appeal (compare the meaning of this "Say ye to the daughter of Zion" with Zechariah 9:9 in Matthew 21:5). The whole of the next clause, "Behold, His reward," etc., is a repetition of the prophet's own words in Isaiah 40:10. It is a question whether the words "and they shall call thee," etc., contain the gospel which is to be proclaimed according to the will of Jehovah to the end of the earth (see Isaiah 48:20), or whether they are a continuation of the prophecy which commences with "Behold, Jehovah hath proclaimed." The latter is the more probable, as the address here passes again into an objective promise. The realization of the gospel, which Jehovah causes to be preached, leads men to call those who are now still in exile "the holy people," "the redeemed" (lit. ransomed, Isaiah 51:10; like pedūyē in Isaiah 35:10). "And thee" - thus does the prophecy close by returning to a direct address to Zion-Jerusalem - "thee will men call derūshâh," sought assiduously, i.e., one whose welfare men, and still more Jehovah, are zealously concerned to promote (compare the opposite in Jeremiah 30:17) - "a city that will not be forsaken," i.e., in which men gladly settle, and which will never be without inhabitants again (the antithesis to ‛ăzūbhâh in Isaiah 60:15), possibly also in the sense that the gracious presence of God will never be withdrawn from it again (the antithesis to ‛ăzūbhâh in Isaiah 62:4). נעזבה is the third pers. pr., like nuchâmâh in Isaiah 54:11 : the perfect as expressing the abstract present (Ges. 126, 3).

The following prophecy anticipates the question, how Israel can possibly rejoice in the recovered possession of its inheritance, if it is still to be surrounded by such malicious neighbours as the Edomites.

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