Isaiah 65:20
There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.
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(20) There shall be no more thence . . .—The prophet sees in the restored city not so much an eternal and a deathless life as the return of the traditional longevity of the prediluvian and patriarchal age (Genesis 5, 11), Life will not be prematurely cut off, as it had been, by pestilence and war. (Comp. Zechariah 8:4.) He who dies at the age of a hundred will be thought of as dying young; even the sinner, dying before his time as the penalty of his guilt, shall live out the measure of a century. The noticeable fact is that sin is thought of as not altogether extinct—as still appearing, though under altered conditions, even in the restored Jerusalem.

Isaiah 65:20. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, &c. — There shall he no untimely or premature deaths, either of infants and children, who do not grow up to man’s estate, or of old men, who do not live out the full term of life. For the child shall die, &c. — This should rather be translated, For he that dies a hundred years old shall die a child: and the sinner that dies a hundred years old shall be (that is, shall be deemed) accursed, or cut off by the justice of God for his crime. Thus “the prophet describes this renovation of the world as a paradisiacal state, and such as the patriarchs enjoyed before the flood, when men commonly lived nearly a thousand years. So he that died at a hundred years of age would have been looked upon as dying in the age of childhood, and be judged to have been cut off in the beginning of his years, as a punishment for some great sins he had committed.” — Lowth. It is justly observed here by Mr. Scott, that “the event alone can certainly determine whether this is meant literally or figuratively; but it is evident that the universal prevalence of real Christianity would so terminate wars, murders, contentions, idleness, intemperance, and licentiousness, as greatly to lengthen out the general term of man’s life. Many diseases which now destroy thousands and tens of thousands in the prime of life, and communicate distempers to succeeding generations, would, in that case, scarcely be heard of any more; and thus the human constitution would soon be much mended, and children would generally come into the world more vigorous and healthy than they can do while vice so greatly prevails. What God may further intend in this matter we cannot determine.” Vitringa’s view of the passage seems to have been, that “there shall be no violent or punitive death in this holy city, but that all the inhabitants being holy, all shall die full of days and happy, and shall have, as it were, a foretaste, pledge, and earnest of life eternal, in their long and happy life below.”

65:17-25 In the grace and comfort believers have in and from Christ, we are to look for this new heaven and new earth. The former confusions, sins and miseries of the human race, shall be no more remembered or renewed. The approaching happy state of the church is described under a variety of images. He shall be thought to die in his youth, and for his sins, who only lives to the age of a hundred years. The event alone can determine what is meant; but it is plain that Christianity, if universal, would so do away violence and evil, as greatly to lengthen life. In those happy days, all God's people shall enjoy the fruit of their labours. Nor will children then be the trouble of their parents, or suffer trouble themselves. The evil dispositions of sinners shall be completely moritified; all shall live in harmony. Thus the church on earth shall be full of happiness, like heaven. This prophecy assures the servants of Christ, that the time approaches, wherein they shall be blessed with the undisturbed enjoyment of all that is needful for their happiness. As workers together with God, let us attend his ordinances, and obey his commands.There shall be no more thence - The Septuagint, the Syriac, and the Vulgate, read this, 'There shall not be there.' The change requires the omission of a single letter in the present Hebrew text, and the sense seems to demand it. The design of the prophet here is, to describe the times of happiness and prosperity which would succeed the calamities under which the nation had been suffering. This he does by a great variety of images, all denoting substantially the same thing. In Isaiah 65:17, the change is represented to be as great as if a new heaven and a new earth should be created; in this verse the image is, that the inhabitants would reach a great age, and that the comparatively happy times of the patriarchs would be restored; in Isaiah 65:21, the image is taken from the perfect security in their plans of labor, and the fact that they would enjoy the fruit of their toil; in Isaiah 65:25, the image employed is that taken from the change in the nature of the animal creation. All these are poetic images designed as illustrations of the general truth, and, like other poetic images, they are not to be taken literally.

An infant of days - A child; a sucking child. So the Hebrew word, עול ‛ûl, denotes. The Septuagint renders it, 'Nor shall there be there anymore an untimely birth (ἄωρος aōros) and an old man who has not filled up his time.' The idea is not that there should be no infant in those future times - which would be an idea so absurd that a prophet would not use it even in poetic fiction - but that there will not be an infant who shall not fill up his days, or who will be short-lived. All shall live long, and all shall be blessed with health, and continual vigor and youth.

Nor an old man that hath not filled his days - They shall enjoy the blessings of great longevity, and that not a longevity that shall be broken and feeble, but which shall be vigorous and happy. In further illustration of this sentiment, we may remark,

1. That there is no reason to suppose that it will be literally fulfilled even in the millenium. If it is to be regarded as literally to be fulfilled, then for the same reason we are to suppose that in that time the nature of the lion will be literally changed, and that he will eat straw like the ox, and that the nature of the wolf and the lamb will be so far changed that they shall lie down together Isaiah 65:25. But there is no reason to suppose this; nor is there any good reason to suppose that literally no infant or child will die in those times, or that no old man will be infirm, or that all will live to the same great age.

2. The promise of long life is regarded in the Bible as a blessing, and is an image, everywhere, of prosperity and happiness. Thus the patriarchs were regarded as having been highly-favored people, because God lengthened out their days; and throughout the Scriptures it is represented as a proof of the favor of God, that a man is permitted to live long, and to see a numerous posterity (see Genesis 45:10; Psalm 21:4; Psalm 23:6; Psalm 128:6 (Hebrew); Psalm 91:16; Proverbs 3:2-14; Proverbs 17:6.

3. No one can doubt that the prevalence of the gospel everywhere would greatly lengthen out the life of man. Let anyone reflect on the great number that are now cut off in childhood in pagan lands by their parents, all of whom would have been spared had their parents been Christians; on the numbers of children who are destroyed in early life by the effects of the intemperance of their parents, most of whom would have survived if their parents had been virtuous; on the numbers of young men now cut down by vice, who would have continued to live if they had been under the influence of the gospel; on the immense hosts cut off, and most of them in middle life, by war, who would have lived to a good old age if the gospel had prevailed and put a period to wars; on the million who are annually cut down by intemperance and lust, and other raging passions, by murder and piracy, or who are punished by death for crime; on the million destroyed by pestilential disease sent by offended heaven on guilty nations; and let him reflect that these sources of death will be dried up by the prevalence of pure virtue and religion, and he will see that a great change may yet take place literally in the life of man.

4. A similar image is used by the classic writers to denote a golden age, or an age of great prosperity and happiness. Thus the Sybil, in the Sybilline Oracles, B. vii., speaking of the future age, says, Στήσει δὲ τὸ γένος, ὡς πάρος ἦν σοι Stēsei de to genos, hōs paros ēn soi - 'A race shall be restored as it was in the ancient times.' So Hesiod, describing the silver age, introduces a boy as having reached the age of an hundred years, and yet but a child:

Ἀλλ ̓ ἑκατόν μὲν παῖς ἔτεα παρὰ μητέρι κεδνρ,

Ἐτρέφετ ἀτάλλων υέγα νήπιος ὦ ἔνι οἴκῳ.

All' hekaton men tais etea para mēteri kednr,

Etrephet atallōn mega nēpios ō eni oikō.

For the child shall die an hundred years old - That is, he that is an hundred years old when he dies, shall still be a child or a youth. This is nearly the same sentiment which is expressed by Hesiod, as quoted above. The prophet has evidently in his eye the longevity of the patriarchs, when an individual of an hundred years of age was comparatively young - the proportion between that and the usual period of life then being about the same as that between the age of ten and the usual period of life now. We are not, I apprehend, to suppose that this is to be taken literally, but it is figurative language, designed to describe the comparatively happy state referred to by the prophet, as if human life should be lengthened out to the age of the patriarchs, and as if he who is now regarded as an old man, should then be regarded as in the vigor of his days. At the same time it is true, that the influence of temperance, industry, and soberness of life, such as would exist if the rules of the gospel were obeyed, would carry forward the vigor of youth far into advancing years, and mitigate most of the evils now incident to the decline of life.

The few imperfect experiments which have been made of the effect of entire temperance and of elevated virtue; of subduing the passions by the influence of the gospel, and of prudent means for prolonging health and life, such as the gospel will prompt a man to use, who has any just view of the value of life, show what may yet be done in happier times. It is an obvious reflection here, that if such effects are to be anticipated from the prevalence of true religion and of temperance, then he is the best friend of man who endeavors most sedulously to bring others under the influence of the gospel, and to extend the principles of temperance and virtue. The gospel of Christ would do more to prolong human life than all other causes combined; and when that prevails everywhere, putting a period, as it must, to infanticide, and war, and intemperance, and murder, and piracy, and suicide, and duelling, and raging and consuming passions, then it is impossible for the most vivid imagination to conceive the effect which shall be produced on the health and long life, as well as on the happiness of mankind.

But the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed - The sense of this appears to be, 'not all who reach to a great age shall be judged to be the friends and favorites of God. Though a sinner shall reach that advanced period of life, yet he shall be cursed of God and shall be cut down in his sins. He shall be held to be a sinner and shall die, and shall be regarded as accursed.' Other interpretations of this expression may be seen in Poole and in Vitringa. The above seems to me to be the true exposition.

20. The longevity of men in the first age of the world shall be enjoyed again.

thence—from that time forward.

infant of days—that is, an infant who shall only complete a few days; short-lived.

filled … days—None shall die without attaining a full old age.

child … die … hundred years—that is, "he that dieth an hundred years old shall die a mere child" [Lowth].

sinner … hundred … be accursed—"The sinner that dieth at an hundred years shall be deemed accursed," that is, his death at so early an age, which in those days the hundredth year will be regarded, just as if it were mere childhood, shall be deemed the effect of God's special visitation in wrath [Rosenmuller]. This passage proves that the better age to come on earth, though much superior to the present will not be a perfect state; sin and death shall have place in it (compare Re 20:7, 8), but much less frequently than now.

Whereas God hath made many promises of long life to the Jews, they should all be fulfilled to God’s people among them, so as there should be rare abortions among them, Exodus 23:26; few infants should be carried out to burial, nor but few that should not have filled up their years; those that were now children should die at a great age; yet none of these things should be of any advantage to wicked men, but if, any of them should live to be.a hundred years old, yet they should die accursed. This seemeth to be the plain sense. If any desire to read more opinions of these words, he may find enough in the English Annotations.

There shall be no more thence an infant of days,.... That is, there shall no more be carried out from thence, from Jerusalem, or any other place where the church of God is, to the grave, in order to be interred, an infant that has lived but a few days, a very common thing now; but, in the latter day, such instances will be rare, or rather there will be none at all; every child born will live to the age of man, and not be cut off by any premature death, either by any natural disease, or by famine, or sword, or any other calamity, which will now have no place:

nor an old man that hath not filled his days; who, though he may in some sense, or in comparison of others, be said to be old, yet has not arrived to the full term of man's life, threescore years and ten, or more; for it seems, by what follows, as if the term of human life will be lengthened in the latter day, and reach in common to a hundred years; so that as long life is always reckoned a temporal happiness, among the rest that shall be enjoyed, this will be one in the latter day; and which is to be understood not of the Millennium state, in which there will be no death, Revelation 21:4, which yet will be in this, as the following words show; but of the state preceding that, even the spiritual reign of Christ:

for the child shall die an hundred years old; not that that shall be reckoned a child that shall die at a hundred years of age (h), the life of man being now, in these days of the Messiah, as long as they were before the flood, as the Jewish interpreters imagine; but the child that is now born, or he that is now a child, shall live to the age of a hundred years, and not die before: but lest this outward happiness should be trusted to, and a man should imagine that therefore he is in a happy state for eternity, being blessed with such a long life, it follows, "but" or

though the sinner, being an hundred years old; shall be accursed; for though this shall be common in this state to good men and bad men, to live a hundred years, yet their death will not be alike; the good man will be blessed, and enter into a happy state of joy and peace; but the wicked man, though he lives as long as the other in this world, shall be accursed at death, and to all eternity; see Ecclesiastes 8:12.

(h) Vid. Gloss. in T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 91. 2.

There shall be no more from there an infant of days, nor an old man that hath {z} not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being {a} an hundred years old shall be accursed.

(z) Meaning, in this wonderful restoration of the Church there would be no weakness of youth, nor infirmities of age, but all would be fresh and flourishing: and this is accomplished in the heavenly Jerusalem, when all sins will cease, and the tears will be wiped away.

(a) By which he shows that the infidels and unrepentant sinners have no part of this benediction.

20. Amongst the blessings of the new people of God the chief shall be a miraculous extension of the term of human life. This is the dominant idea down to the end of Isaiah 65:22. The expression of the thought is unaccountably laboured and obscure.

an infant of days] must mean one who lives only a few days.

nor an old man … days] (cf. Genesis 25:8; Exodus 23:26; Job 5:26), i.e. none shall become prematurely old; each shall attain the allotted measure of life according to the standard which shall then be normal.

for the youth shall die an hundred years old &c.] These two cases must be regarded as hypothetical merely. Death at the age of 100 years (if such a thing took place) would be looked on as an untimely death in extreme youth, and as a special mark of the Divine anger on a career of wickedness (Job 15:32; Job 20:5). The possibility of a hardened sinner being actually found in the Messianic community cannot be seriously contemplated (see ch. Isaiah 60:21).

It is evident that the idea of immortal life is unknown to the writer. He looks forward to a restriction of the power of death, but not to its entire cessation. The same idea is probably implied in a prophecy of the early post-exilic period (Zechariah 8:4; see on ch. Isaiah 25:8); and a conception precisely similar is characteristic of the first section of the Book of Enoch. see Charles, Book of Enoch, pp. 26, 55, 98. Comp. En. Isaiah 5:9 : “And [the elect] will not be punished all the days of their life, nor will they die of plagues or visitations of wrath, but they will complete the full number of the days of their life, and their lives will grow old in peace, and the years of their joy will be many, in eternal happiness and peace all the days of their life.” Cf. also Isaiah 10:17 and Isaiah 25:4-5.

Verse 20. - There shall be no more thence an infant of days; i.e. there shall not go from the new Jerusalem into the unseen world any infant of a few days old. On the contrary, even "the youth" shall reach a hundred; i.e. one who dies when he is a hundred shall be regarded as cut off in his youth. The general rule shall be, that old men shall "fill their days," or attain to patriarchal longevity. Even the sinner, who is under the curse of God, shall not be cut off till he is a hundred. What is most remarkable in the description is that death and sin are represented as still continuing. Death was spoken of as "swallowed up in victory" in one of the earlier descriptions of Messiah's kingdom (Isaiah 25:8). Isaiah 65:20There will be a different measure then, and a much greater one, for measuring the period of life and grace. "And there shall no more come thence a suckling of a few days, and an old man who has not lived out all his days; for the youth in it will die as one a hundred years old, and the sinner be smitten with the curse as one a hundred years old." Our editions of the text commence Isaiah 65:20 with לא־יהיה, but according to the Masora (see Mas. finalis, p. 23, Colossians 7), which reckons five ולא־יהיה at the commencement of verses, and includes our v. among them, it must read ולא־יהיה, as it is also rendered by the lxx and Targum. The meaning and connection are not affected by this various reading. Henceforth there will not spring from Jerusalem (or, what hâyâh really means, "come into existence;" "thence," misshâm, not "from that time," but locally, as in Hosea 2:17 and elsewhere, cf., Isaiah 58:12) a suckling (see p. 90) of days, i.e., one who has only reached the age of a few days (yâmı̄m as in Genesis 24:55, etc.), nor an old man who has not filled his days, i.e., has not attained to what is regarded as a rule as the full measure of human life. He who dies as a youth, or is regarded as having died young, will not die before the hundredth year of his life; and the sinner (והחוטא with seghol, as in Ecclesiastes 8:12; Ecclesiastes 9:18; Ges. 75, Anm. 21) upon whom the curse of God falls, and who is overwhelmed by the punishment, will not be swept away before the hundredth year of his life. We cannot maintain with Hofmann (Schriftbeweis, ii. 2, 567), that it is only in appearance that less is here affirmed than in Isaiah 25:8. The reference there is to the ultimate destruction of the power of death; here it is merely to the limitation of its power.
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