Isaiah 64:5
You meet him that rejoices and works righteousness, those that remember you in your ways: behold, you are wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.
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(5) Thou meetest him . . .—The “meeting” is obviously one of favour. That was the law of God’s dealings with men. He met, in this sense, those who at once rejoiced in righteousness and practised it. But with Israel it was not so. Their sins had brought them under His anger, not under His favour.

In those is continuance . . .—The clause is difficult, and has been variously interpreted—(1) “In these (the ways of God) there is permanence (literally, eternity), that we may be saved;” and (2) “In these (the ways of evil) have we been a long time, and shall we be saved?” The latter seems preferable. So taken, the clause carries on the confession of the people’s sinfulness.



Isaiah 64:5

The prophet here shows us how there is a great staircase which we ourselves build, which leads straight from earth to heaven, and how we can secure that we shall meet with God and God with us. ‘Isaiah’ is often called the evangelical prophet. He is so, not only because of his predictions of the suffering Servant of Jehovah which are ‘fulfilled’ in Christ, but because his conceptions of the religious life tremble on the very verge of the full-orbed teaching of the New Testament. In these ancient words of my text, in very different phraseology indeed, we see a strikingly accurate and full anticipation of the very central teaching of Paul and his brother apostles, as to the way by which God and man come into union with one another. ‘Thou meetest him that rejoiceth’; that joy is to be manifested by ‘working righteousness,’ but the joy which is the parent of righteousness is the child of something else-’those that remember Thee in Thy ways.’ If we ponder these words, and carefully mark their relation to each other, we may discern, as it were, a great staircase with three flights in it, and at the top God’s face.

We have to begin with the last clause of our text-’Thou meetest him . . . that remembers Thee in Thy ways.’

The first stage on the road which will bring any man into, and keep any man in, contact with God, and loving fellowship with Him, is the contemplation of His character as it is made known to us by His acts. God, like man, is known by His ‘fruits.’ You cannot get at a clear conception of God by speculation, or by thinking about Him or about what He is in Himself. Lay hold of the clue of His acts, and it leads you straight into His heart. But the act of acts, in which the whole Godhead concurs, in which all its depths and preciousness are concentrated, like wine in a golden cup, is the incarnation and life and death of Jesus Christ our Lord. There, and not in the thoughts of our own hearts nor the tremors of our own consciences, nor in the enigmatical witness of Providence-which is enigmatical until it is interpreted in the light of the Incarnation and the Crucifixion-there we see most clearly the ‘ways’ of God, the beaten, trodden path by which He is wont to come forth out of the thick darkness into which no speculation can peer an inch, and walk amongst men. The cross of Christ, and, subordinately, His other dealings with us, as interpreted thereby, is the ‘way of the Lord,’ from everlasting to everlasting. And it is by a loving gaze upon that ‘way’ that we learn to know Him for what He is. It is there, and there only, that the thick darkness passes into glorious light. It is at that point alone that the closed circle of the Infinite nature of Deity opens so as that a man can press into the very centre of the glory, and feel himself at home in the blaze. It is ‘those that remember Thee in Thy ways,’ and especially in that way of righteousness and peace, the way of the cross-it is they who have built the first flight of the solemn staircase that leads up from the lownesses and darknesses of earth into the loftinesses and lights of heaven.

But note that word ‘Remember,’ for it suggests the warning that such contemplation of the ways of the Lord will not be realised by us without effort. We shall forget, assuredly, unless we earnestly try to ‘remember.’ There are so many things within us to draw us away, the duties, and the joys, and the sorrows of life so insist upon having a place in our hearts and thoughts, that assuredly, unless by resolute effort, frequently repeated, we clear a space in this crowded and chattering market-place, where we can stand and gaze on the white summits far beyond the bustling crowd, we shall never see them, though they are visible from every place. Unless you try to remember, you will certainly forget.

Many voices preach to-day many duties for Christians. Let me plead for times of quiet, for times of ‘doing’ nothing, for fruitful times of growth, for times when we turn all the rout and rabble of earthly things, and even the solemn company of pressing duties, out of our hearts and thoughts, and shut up ourselves alone with God. Be sure you will never build even the first step of the staircase unless you know what it is to go into the secret place of the Most High, and, alone with God, to summon to ‘the sessions of sweet, silent thought’ His ways, and especially Him who is ‘the Way,’ both of God to us, and of us to God.

Now, the second flight of this great staircase is pointed out in the first clause of my text: ‘Thou meetest him that rejoiceth.’

That meditative remembrance of the ways of God will be the parent of holy joy which will bring God near to our heart. Alas! it is too often the very opposite of true that men’s joys are such as to bring God to them. The excitement, and often the impure elements, that mingle with what the world calls ‘joy,’ are such as to shut Him out from us. But there is a gladness which comes from the contemplation of Him as He is, and as He is known by His ‘ways’ to be, which brings us very near to God, and God very near to us. It is that joy which was spoken of in an earlier part of this context: ‘I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation.’ Here, then, is the second stage-gladness, deep, pure, based upon the contemplation of God’s character as manifested in His work. I do not think that the ordinary type of modern Christianity is half joyful enough. And I think that we have largely lost the very thought that gladness is a plain Christian duty, to be striven after in the appropriate manner which my text suggests, and certainly to be secured if we seek it in the right way. We all know how outward cares, and petty annoyances, and crushing sorrows, and daily anxieties, and the tear and wear of work, and our own restlessness and ungovernableness, and the faults that still haunt our lives, and sometimes make us feel as if our Christianity was all a sham-how all these things are at enmity with joy in God. But in face of them all, I would echo the old grand words of the epistle of gladness written by the apostle in prison, and within hail of his death: ‘Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say rejoice.’ Recognise it as your duty to be glad, and if it is hard to be so, ask yourselves whether you are doing what will make you so, remembering ‘Thee in Thy ways.’ That is the second flight of the staircase.

The third stage is working righteousness because of such joy. ‘Thou meetest him that rejoiceth, and ‘-because he does-’worketh righteousness.’ Every master knows how much more work can be got out of a servant who works with a cheery heart than out of one that is driven reluctantly to his task. You remember our Lord’s parable where He traces idleness to fear: ‘I knew thee that thou wast an austere man, gathering where thou didst not strew, and I was afraid, and I went and hid thy talent.’ No work was got out of that servant because there was no joy in him. The opposite state of mind-diligence in righteous work, inspired by gladness which in its turn is inspired by the remembrance of God’s ways-is the mark of a true servant of God. The prophet’s words have the germ of the full New Testament doctrine that the first step to all practical obedience and righteous living is the recognition of the great truth of Christ’s death for us on the Cross; that the second step is the acceptance of that great work, and the gladness that comes from the assurance of forgiveness and acceptance with God, and that the issue of both these things, the preached gospel and the faith that grasps it and the love by which the faith is followed, is obedience, instinct with willingness and buoyant with joyfulness, and therefore tending to be perfect in degree and in kind. The work that is worth doing, the work which God regards as ‘righteous,’ comes, and comes only, from the motives of ‘remembering Thee in Thy ways,’ and rejoicing because we do remember.

And the gladness which is wholesome and blessed, and is ‘joy in the Lord,’ will manifest itself by efflorescing into all holiness and all loftiness and largeness of obedience. You may try to frighten men into righteousness, you will never succeed. You may try to coerce their wills, and your strongest bands will be broken as the iron chains were by the demoniac. But put upon them the silken leash of love, and you may lead them where you will. You cannot grow grapes on an iceberg, and you cannot get works of righteousness out of a man that has a dread of God at the back of his heart, killing all its joy. But let the spring sunshine come, and then all the frost-bound earth opens and softens, and the tender green spikelets push themselves up through the brown soil, and in due time come ‘the blade, and the ear, and the full corn in the ear.’ Isaiah anticipated Paul when he said, ‘Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness.’

Lastly, we have the landing-place to which the stair leads. God comes to such a man. He meets him indeed at all the stages, for there is a blessed communion with God, that springs immediately from remembering Him in His ways, and a still more blessed one that springs from rejoicing in His felt friendship and Fatherhood, and a yet more blessed one that comes from practical righteousness. For if there is anything that breaks our communion with God, it is that there linger in our lives evils which make it impossible for God and us to come close together. The thinnest film of a non-conductor will stop the flow of the strongest electric current, and an almost imperceptible film of self-will and evil, dropped between oneself and God, will make a barrier impermeable except by that divine Spirit who worketh upon a man’s heart and who may thin away the film through his repentance, and then the Father and the prodigal embrace. ‘Thou meetest him,’ not only ‘that worketh righteousness,’ but that hates his sin.

Only remember, if there is the practice of evil, there cannot be the sunshine of the Presence of God. But remember, too, that the commonest, homeliest, smallest, most secular tasks may become the very highest steps of the staircase that brings us into His Presence. If we go about our daily work, however wearisome and vulgar and commonplace it often seems to us, and make it a work of righteousness resting on the joy of salvation, and that reposing on the contemplation of God as He is revealed in Jesus Christ, our daily work may bring us as close to God as if we dwelt in the secret place of the Most High, and the market and the shop may be a temple where we meet with Him.

Dear brethren, there are two kinds of meeting God: ‘Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness,’ and that is blessed, as when Christ met the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. There is another kind of meeting with God. ‘Who, making war, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?’Isaiah 64:5. Thou meetest him that rejoiceth, &c. — “Thou preventest, with the blessings of thy goodness, those that take pleasure in the ways of thy commandments, and live under a continual sense of thy providence.” Behold, thou art wroth — Or greatly angry; for, or because, we have sinned — Have been guilty of many and great offences, whereby we have provoked thy heavy displeasure. In those — Those ways of thine, thy ways of mercy, in which we have remembered thee; is continuance — Or, perpetuity; or, in those thou art ever to be found; and we shall be saved — At last, though thou art wroth, and we have sinned. “The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on them that fear him,” Psalm 103:17. He always waits to be gracious, and through all ages meets his worshippers in his ordinances. This seems to be the sense of this obscure passage; at least it will bear this sense; and, as it is in perfect consistency with the general tenor of the Scriptures, it is certainly safer to admit it, unless a better can be proposed, than to have recourse to any mere conjectural alterations of the Hebrew text.64:1-5 They desire that God would manifest himself to them and for them, so that all may see it. This is applicable to the second coming of Christ, when the Lord himself shall descend from heaven. They plead what God had used to do, and had declared his gracious purpose to do, for his people. They need not fear being disappointed of it, for it is sure; or disappointed in it, for it is sufficient. The happiness of his people is bound up in what God has designed for them, and is preparing for them, and preparing them for; what he has done or will do. Can we believe this, and then think any thing too great to expect from his truth, power, and love? It is spiritual and cannot be comprehended by human understanding. It is ever ready. See what communion there is between a gracious God and a gracious soul. We must make conscience of doing our duty in every thing the Lord our God requires. Thou meetest him; this speaks his freeness and forwardness in doing them good. Though God has been angry with us for our sins, and justly, yet his anger has soon ended; but in his favour is life, which goes on and continues, and on that we depend for our salvation.Thou meetest him - Perhaps there are few verses in the Bible that have given more perplexity to interpreters than this; and after all that has been done, the general impression seems to be, that it is wholly inexplicable, or without meaning - as it certainly is in our translation. Noyes says of his own translation of the last member of the verse, 'I am not satisfied with this or any other translation of the line which I have seen.' Lowth says, 'I am fully persuaded that these words as they stand at present in the Hebrew text are utterly unintelligible. There is no doubt of the meaning of each word separately, but put together they make no sense at all. I conclude, therefore, that the copy has suffered by transcribers in this place.' And after proposing an important change in the text, without any authority, he says, 'perhaps these may not be the very words of the prophet, but, however, it is better than to impose upon him what makes no sense at all, as they generally do who pretend to render such corrupted passages.' Arch. Secker also proposed an important change in the Hebrew text, but there is no good authority in the manuscripts, it is believed, for any change.

Without repeating what has been said by expositors on the text, I shall endeavor to state what seems to me to be its probable signification. Its general purpose, I think, is clear. It is to urge, as an argument for God's interposition, the fact that he was accustomed to regard with pleasure those who did well; yet to admit that he was now justly angry on account of their sins, and that they had continued so long in them that they had no hope of being saved but in his mercy. An examination of the words and phrases which occur, will prepare us to present at a single view the probable meaning. The word rendered 'thou meetest,' (פגעת pâga‛ethâ) means probably to strike upon, to impinge; then to fall upon in a hostile manner, to urge in any way as with petitions and prayers; and then to strike a peace or league with anyone. See the word explained in the notes at Isaiah 47:3. Here it means, as I suppose, to meet for purposes of peace, friendship, protection; that is, it was a characteristic of God that he met such persons as are described for purposes of kindness and favor; and it expresses the belief of the petitioners that whatever they were suffering, still they had no doubt that it was the character of God to bless the righteous.

That rejoiceth - This translation evidently does not express the sense of the Hebrew, unless it be understood as meaning that God meets with favor those who rejoice in doing righteousness. So Gesenius translates it, 'Thou makest peace with him who rejoices to do justice; that is, with the just and upright man thou art in league, thou delightest in him.' So Noyes renders it, 'Thou art the friend of those who joyfully do righteousness.' Lowth 'Thou meetest with joy those who work righteousness.' Jerome, 'Thou meetest him who rejoices and does right.' The phrase used (את־שׂשׂ 'eth-s'ās') seems to me to mean, 'With joy,' and to denote the general habit of God. It was a characteristic of him to meet the just 'with joy,' that is, joyfully.

And worketh righteousness - Hebrew, 'And him that doeth righteousness;' that is, 'thou art accustomed to meet the just with joy, and him that does right.' It was a pleasure for God to do it, and to impart to them his favors.

Those that remember thee in thy ways - On the word 'remember,' used in this connection, see the notes at Isaiah 62:6. The idea is, that such persons remembered God in the modes which he had appointed; that is, by prayer, sacrifices, and praise. With such persons he delighted to meet, and such he was ever ready to succor.

Behold, thou art wroth - This is language of deep feeling on the part of the suppliants. Notwithstanding the mercy of God, and his readiness to meet and bless the just, they could not be ignorant of the fact that he was now angry with them. They were suffering under the tokens of his displeasure; but they were not now disposed to blame him. They felt the utmost assurance that he was just, whatever they might have endured. It is to be borne in mind, that this is language supposed to be used by the exiles in Babylon, near the close of the captivity; and the evidences that God was angry were to be seen in their heavy sorrows there, in their desolate land, and in the ruins of their prostrate city and temple (see the notes at Isaiah 64:10-11).

In those is continuance - Lowth has correctly remarked that this conveys no idea. To what does the word 'those' refer? No antecedent is mentioned, and expositors have been greatly perplexed with the passage. Lowth, in accordance with his too usual custom, seems to suppose that the text is corrupted, but is not satisfied with any proposed mode of amending it. He renders it, 'because of our deeds, for we have been rebellious;' changing entirely the text - though following substantially the sense of the Septuagint. Noyes renders it, 'Long doth the punishment endure, until we be delivered;' but expresses, as has been already remarked, dissatisfaction even with this translation, and with all others which he has seen. Jerome renders it, In ipsis fuimus semper - 'We have always been in them,' that is, in our sins. The Septuagint, Διὰ τοῦτο ἐπλανήθημεν Dia touto eplanēthēmen, etc. 'Because of this we wandered, and became all of us as unclean, and all our righteousness as a filthy rag.' It seems to me that the phrase בחם bâhem, 'in them,' or 'in those,' refers to sins understood; and that the word rendered 'continuance' (עולם ‛ôlâm) is equivalent to a long former period; meaning that their sins had been of long continuance, or as we would express it, 'we have been always sinners.' It is the language of humble confession, denoting that this had been the characteristic of the nation, and that this was the reason why God was angry at them.

And we shall be saved - Lowth renders this, or rather substitutes a phrase for it, thus, 'For we have been rebellious' - amending it wholly by conjecture. But it seems to me that Castellio has given an intelligible and obvious interpretation by regarding it as a question: 'Jamdiu peccavimus, et serv-abimur?' 'Long time have we sinned, and shall we be saved?' That is, we have sinned so long, our offences have been so aggravated, how can we hope to be saved? Is salvation possible for such sinners? It indicates a deep consciousness of guilt, and is language such as is used by all who feel their deep depravity before God. Nothing is more common in conviction for sin, or when suffering under great calamities as a consequence of sin, than to ask the question whether it is possible for such sinners to be saved. I have thus given, perhaps at tedious length, my view of this verse, which has so much perplexed commentators. And though the view must be submitted with great diffidence after such a man as Lowth has declared it to be without sense as the Hebrew text now stands, and though no important doctrine of religion is involved by the exposition, yet some service is rendered if a plausible and probable interpretation is given to a much disputed passage of the sacred Scriptures, and if we are saved from the necessity of supposing a corruption in the Hebrew text.

5. meetest—that is, Thou makest peace, or enterest into covenant with him (see on [869]Isa 47:3).

rejoiceth and worketh—that is, who with joyful willingness worketh [Gesenius] (Ac 10:35; Joh 7:17).

those—Thou meetest "those," in apposition to "him" who represents a class whose characteristics "those that," &c., more fully describes.

remember thee in thy ways—(Isa 26:8).

sinned—literally, "tripped," carrying on the figure in "ways."

in those is continuance—a plea to deprecate the continuance of God's wrath; it is not in Thy wrath that there is continuance (Isa 54:7, 8; Ps 30:5; 103:9), but in Thy ways ("those"), namely, of covenant mercy to Thy people (Mic 7:18-20; Mal 3:6); on the strength of the everlasting continuance of His covenant they infer by faith, "we shall be saved." God "remembered" for them His covenant (Ps 106:45), though they often "remembered not" Him (Ps 78:42). Castellio translates, "we have sinned for long in them ('thy ways'), and could we then be saved?" But they hardly would use such a plea when their very object was to be saved.

Thou meetest him; or, wast wont to meet him; or, thou preventest him, Isaiah 65:24 Psalm 21:2,3, as the father the prodigal. That rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, viz. that rejoice to work righteousness; the same thing expressed by two words, by a figure called hendiadis.

That remember thee in thy ways; an amplification of the former words: q.d. To walk in thy ways, whether of providence, precept, or counsel, by virtue of the covenant they have with thee.

Thou art wroth; for we have sinned: or, greatly angry; for or because we have sinned, and provoked thee to wrath thereby, 1 Kings 8:46.

In those is continuance, i.e. to those that work righteousness; in for to.

We shall be saved, viz. in so doing, in working righteousness. Or, as some, by way of interrogation; in those, i.e. in our sins, is continuance, and shall we be saved? Or, in those, viz. works of righteousness, in keeping in them, is our continuance and means to be saved. Or, thou continuest to show mercy, and or therefore we shall be saved. The meaning of the place is to comfort the godly, that though they may have provoked God by their sins, yet, looking upon the ways of God’s former proceedings, (in which he still continues, being unchangeable,) they may find hopes of salvation; and this is that which is amplified in the three following verses. Thou meetest him that rejoiceth,.... Not in a carnal way, nor in a sinful manner, nor in a hypocritical one, or in vain boastings, all such rejoicing is evil: but in the Lord, in the person of Christ; in the greatness, glory, and fullness of his person; at the promise, and in the view, of his coming in the flesh, as Abraham did; in the grace of God displayed in him, and in hope of the glory of God by him; such a frame of spirit is agreeable to the Lord:

and worketh righteousness; a truly gracious soul is not idle, but works; not in his own strength, nor for life, or anything but what is just and right; no man indeed can work out a perfect righteousness, nor should men attempt to work out one for justification before God; but should lay hold by faith on the righteousness of Christ, which is the evangelical and best way of working righteousness; and such do works of righteousness in faith, which is doing them in the best manner, and the course of life of such is righteous; and these are regarded by the Lord, especially such who rejoice to work righteousness, or do it, in a cheerful joyful manner, which perhaps is the sense of the words: now such the Lord "meeteth", or has been used to meet, in former ages, in all generations, even in a way of love, grace, and mercy; and prevents them with the blessings of his goodness; indulges them with communion with himself through his Son, typified by the mercyseat; and at the throne of his grace, and in his house and ordinances. The Jewish commentators understand this phrase in a different manner. R. Jonah and Jarchi interpret it of God's meeting the righteous, and removing them out of the world by death, according to 1 Kings 2:25 and Aben Ezra of his receiving their prayers and intercessions for others, according to Isaiah 47:3. Kimchi joins both senses together,

"the righteous, who were doing thy commandments with joy, are not now in the world, to stand in the gap for us.''

Those that remember thee in thy ways; they remember there is a God, and worship him; the perfections of his nature, and adore them; his works of providence, and admire them; and his blessings of grace and goodness, and are thankful for them: they remember him "in his ways"; in the ways of his providence, which are unsearchable, and past finding out; in the ways of his grace and mercy, so the Targum; or "for" or "because" (q) of these, and praise his name; and in the ways of his commandments, which they observe.

Behold, thou art wroth, and we have sinned; or because we have sinned (r); as for us, we have sinned, and justly incurred the displeasure of God; and it is no wonder he hides his face from us, and does not meet us, as he has been used to meet his people formerly. The people of God sin, and this is taken notice of by him, and resented; and which is the cause of all their afflictions, in which the Lord appears to be "wroth" with them; not that he is properly so, for afflictions to them are not in vindictive wrath; but he seems to be wroth with them, he carries it towards them as if he was, when he chastises them, and hides his face from them. In those is continuance, and we shall be saved: or "in these we have been of old" (s); that is, in these sins; we are old sinners, sinners in Adam, sinners from our birth, and so in these sins is continuance: saints indeed do not continue in a course of sin, yet sin continues in them, and they are continually sinning in thought, word, or deed; yet nevertheless there is salvation from all their sins in Christ, in whom they shall be saved: or there is continuance in works of righteousness, and in the cheerful performance of them; the principle of well doing continues in believers, which is the grace of God, and spiritual strength, by which they do well; and through the grace of Christ they persevere in faith and holiness, and, persevering herein, shall be saved. Or rather there is continuance in the ways of God, in the ways of his grace and mercy; in them there is constancy, perpetuity, and eternity, as the word signifies; his love is an everlasting love; his mercy is from everlasting to everlasting, and endures for ever; he is unchangeable in his grace and promises, and hence his people shall not be consumed in their sins by his wrath, but shall be everlastingly saved; which is entirely owing to his permanent and immutable grace, and not to their works of righteousness, as appears by what follows.

(q) "propter vias tuas", Piscator. (r) "quia vel nam peccavimus", Vatablus, Grotius, Forerius, Gataker. So some in Munster, "vau", is often causal. (s) "in his peccatis consenuimus", Tigurine version some in Munster; "in ipsis peccatis semper fuimus", Forerius.

Thou meetest him {d} that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy {e} ways: behold, thou art angry; for we have sinned: in {f} those is continuance, and we {g} shall be saved.

(d) You showed favour toward our fathers, when they trusted in you and walked after your commandments.

(e) They considered your great mercies.

(f) That is, in your mercies, which he calls the ways of the Lord.

(g) You will have pity on us.

5. Thou meetest] (a perf. of experience). The verb is obviously used here in a good sense, as Genesis 32:1.

that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness] i.e. that joyfully worketh righteousness. The words rejoiceth and are not in the LXX.

those that remember thee in thy ways] Cf. ch. Isaiah 26:8.

thou art wroth &c.] R.V. thou wast wroth and we sinned. Cf. ch. Isaiah 57:17.

in those is continuance and we shall be saved] R.V. “in them have we been of long time, and shall we be saved?” The text is quite unintelligible. LXX. has simply διὰ τοῦτο ἐπλανήθημεν. The last word suggests a satisfactory emendation (perhaps ונפשע for ונושע). Of further conjectural restorations one may be mentioned, due to Lowth. Instead of בהם עולם he reads בְּהַמְעַוְלם = “against the evil-doers”; thus obtaining a parallelism with the preceding line.

“Behold Thou wast wroth and we sinned,

Against the evildoers, and we fell away.”

This is at least a meaning, though not one that is altogether convincing.Verse 5. - Thou meetest him that rejoiceth. God "meets" with gracious welcome and ready aid whoever rejoices in doing righteousness and serving him, whoever "remembers him in his ways." But this, alas: is not the present relationship between God and Israel. God is "angry" with them - they must, therefore, "have sinned;" and so they proceed to confess their sin. In those is continuance, and we shall be saved. This is a very difficult passage. Mr. Cheyne regards it as hopelessly corrupt. Bishop Lowth and Ewald attempt emendations. Of those who accept the present text, some understand "in those" of God's ways, others of the "sins" implied in the confession, "We have sinned:" some make the last clause an affirmation, others a question. Delitzsch renders, "Already we have been long in this state (of sin), and shall we be saved?" Grotius and Starck, "If we had remained in them (i.e. thy ways) continually, we should have been saved." But the existing condition of Israel looks like a withdrawal of this grace; and it is impossible that these contrasts should cease, unless Jehovah comes down from heaven as the deliverer of His people. Isaiah 63:8, Isaiah 63:19 (Isaiah 64:1). "For a little time Thy holy people was in possession. Our adversaries have trodden down Thy sanctuary. We have become such as He who is from everlasting has not ruled over, upon whom Thy name was not called. O that Thou wouldst rend the heaven, come down, the mountains would shake before thy countenance." It is very natural to try whether yâreshū may not have tsârēnū for its subject (cf., Jeremiah 49:2); but all the attempts made to explain the words on this supposition, show that lammits‛âr is at variance with the idea that yâreshū refers to the foes. Compare, for example, Jerome's rendering "quasi nihilum (i.e., ad nihil et absque allo labore) possederunt populum sanctum tuum;" that of Cocceius, "propemodum ad haereditatem;" and that of Stier, "for a little they possess entirely Thy holy nation." Mits‛âr is the harsher form for miz‛âr, which the prophet uses in Isaiah 10:25; Isaiah 16:14; Isaiah 29:17 for a contemptibly small space of time; and as ל is commonly used to denote the time to which, towards which, within which, and through which, anything occurs (cf., 2 Chronicles 11:17; 2 Chronicles 29:17; Ewald, 217, d), lammits‛âr may signify for a (lit. the well-known) short time (per breve tempus; like εἰς ἐπ ̓κατ ̓ ἐνιαυτόν, a year long). If miqdâsh could mean the holy land, as Hitzig and others suppose, miqdâshekhâ might be the common object of both sentences (Ewald, 351, p. 838). But miqdash Jehovah (the sanctuary of Jehovah) is the place of His abode and worship; and "taking possession of the temple" is hardly an admissible expression. On the other hand, yârash hâ'ârets, to take possession of the (holy) land, is so common a phrase (e.g., Isaiah 60:21; Isaiah 65:9; Psalm 44:4), that with the words "Thy holy people possessed for a little (time)" we naturally supply the holy land as the object. The order of the words in the two clauses is chiastic. The two strikingly different subjects touch one another as the two inner members. Of the perfects, the first expresses the more remote past, the second the nearer past, as in Isaiah 60:10. The two clauses of the v. rhyme - the holiest thing in the possession of the people, which was holy according to the choice and calling of Jehovah, being brought into the greatest prominence; bōsēs equals πατεῖν, Luke 21:24; Revelation 11:2. Hahn's objection, that the time between the conquest of the land and the Chaldean catastrophe could not be called mits‛âr (a little while), may be answered, from the fact that a time which is long in itself shrinks up when looked back upon or recalled, and that as an actual fact from the time of David and Solomon, when Israel really rejoiced in the possession of the land, the coming catastrophe began to be foreboded by many significant preludes.

The lamentation in Isaiah 63:19 proceeds from the same feeling which caused the better portion of the past to vanish before the long continuance of the mournful present. Hitzig renders היינוּ "we were;" Hahn, "we shall be;" but here, where the speaker is not looking back, as in Isaiah 26:17, at a state of things which has come to an end, but rather at one which is still going on, it signifies "we have become." The passage is rendered correctly in S.: ἐγενήθημεν (or better, γεγόναμεν) ὡς ἀπ ̓αἰῶνος ὧν οὐκ ἐξουσίασας οὐδὲ ἐπικλήθη τὸ ὄνομά σου αὐτοῖς. The virtual predicate to hâyı̄nū commences with mē‛ōlâm: "we have become such (or like such persons) as," etc.; which would be fully expressed by אשׁר כּעם, or merely כּעשׁר, or without אשׁר, and simply by transposing the words, וגו משׁלתּ כּלא (cf., Obadiah 1:16): compare the virtual subject אהבו יהוה in Isaiah 48:14, and the virtual object בשׁמי יקרא in Isaiah 41:25 (Ewald, 333, b). Every form of "as if" is intentionally omitted. The relation in which Jehovah placed Himself to Israel, viz., as its King, and as to His own people called by His name, appears not only as though it had been dissolved, but as though it had never existed at all. The existing state of Israel is a complete practical denial of any such relation. Deeper tones than these no lamentation could possibly utter, and hence the immediate utterance of the sigh which goes up to heaven: "O that Thou wouldst rend heaven!" It is extremely awkward to begin a fresh chapter with כּקדח ("as when the melting fire burneth"); at the same time, the Masoretic division of the vv. is unassailable.

(Note: In the Hebrew Bibles, Isaiah 64:1-12 commences at the second v. of our version; and the first v. is attached to Isaiah 63:19 of the previous chapter. - Tr.)

For Isaiah 63:19 (Isaiah 64:1) could not be attached to Isaiah 64:1-2, since this v. would be immensely overladen; moreover, this sigh really belongs to Isaiah 63:19 (Isaiah 63:19), and ascends out of the depth of the lamentation uttered there. On utinam discideris equals discinderes, see at Isaiah 48:18. The wish presupposes that the gracious presence of God had been withdrawn from Israel, and that Israel felt itself to be separated from the world beyond by a thick party-wall, resembling an impenetrable black cloud. The closing member of the optative clause is generally rendered (utinam) a facie tua montes diffluerent (e.g., Rosenmller after the lxx τακήσονται), or more correctly, defluerent (Jerome), as nâzal means to flow down, not to melt. The meaning therefore would be, "O that they might flow down, as it were to the ground melting in the fire" (Hitzig). The form nâzollu cannot be directly derived from nâzal, if taken in this sense; for it is a pure fancy that nâzōllū may be a modification of the pausal נזלוּ with ō for ā, and the so-called dagesh affectuosum). Stier invents a verb med. o. נזל. The more probable supposition is, that it is a niphal formed from zâlāl equals nâzal (Ewald, 193, c). But zâlal signifies to hang down slack, to sway to and fro (hence zōlēl, lightly esteemed, and zalzallı̄m, Isaiah 18:5, pliable branches), like zūl in Isaiah 46:6, to shake, to pour down;

(Note: Just as the Greek has in addition to σαλ-εὐειν the much simpler and more root-like σεἰ-ειν; so the Semitic has, besides זל, the roots זא, זע: compare the Arabic סלסל, זאזע, זעזע, all three denoting restless motion.)

and nâzōllu, if derived from this, yields the appropriate sense concuterentur (compare the Arabic zalzala, which is commonly applied to an earthquake). The nearest niphal form would be נזלּוּ (or resolved, נזלוּ, Judges 5:5); but instead of the a of the second syllable, the niphal of the verbs ע has sometimes o, like the verb ע ו (e.g., נגלּוּ, Isaiah 34:4; Ges. 67, Anm. 5).

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