They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and my elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)As the days of a tree . . .—We may think of the cedars of Lebanon or the oaks of Bashan as furnishing the prophet with the ideal standard of longevity. Commonly, as by Homer and other poets, the lives of men have been compared to that of the leaves of deciduous trees; here they are compared to the life of the tree itself. The prophet is still speaking, not of national, but of individual life.
For as the days I of a tree are the days of my people - That is, in that future time, such shall be the length of the lives of the people (see Isaiah 65:21). The Septuagint renders this, 'The days of the tree of life.' The Syriac, 'As the days of trees.' The Chaldee as the Septuagint. The idea is, that the lives of his people would be greatly prolonged (see the notes at Isaiah 65:20). A tree is among the most long-lived of material objects. The oak, the terebinth, the cypress, the cedar, the banyan, attain to a great age. Many trees also live to a much longer period than a thousand years. The Baobab tree of Senegal (Adansonia digitata) is supposed to attain the age of several thousand years. Adanson inferred that one which he measured, and found to be thirty feet in diameter, had attained the age of 5150 years. Having made an incision to a certain depth, he first counted three hundred rings of annual growth, and observed what thickness the tree had gained in that period. The average rate of growth of younger trees, of the same species, was then ascertained, and the calculation made according to a supposed mean rate of increase. De Candolle considers it not improbable that the celebrated Taxodium, of Chapultepec, in Mexico, which is 117 feet in circumference, may be still more aged. In Macartney's Embassy to China, i. 131, an account is given of a tree of this description, which was found to be at the base no less than fifty-six feet in girth. On the longevity of trees, see Bibliotheca Univ., May 1831, quoted in Lyell's Geology, ii. 261. The idea here is, simply, that his people would attain to an age like that of the trees of the forest; that is, that the state of things under the Messiah would be as if human life were greatly prolonged (see the notes at Isaiah 65:20).
And mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands - Margin, 'Make them continue long,' or 'wear out.' The word used here (יבלוּ yeballû from בלה bâlâh) means properly to fall, to fall away, to fail; to wear out, to wax old Deuteronomy 8:4; Deuteronomy 29:4; Isaiah 50:9; Isaiah 51:6; hence, in Piel, to consume. The idea here is, that they would live to consume; that is, to enjoy the productions of their own labor. Their property should not be wrested from them by injurious taxation, or by plunder; but they would be permitted long to possess it, until they should wear it out, or until it should be consumed. Vulgate, 'The works of their hands shall be of long continuance (inveterabunt),' or shall be kept a long time. The Septuagint, 'For the works of their labors (των πόνων tōn ponōn) shall become old, or of long continuance (παλαιώσου palaiōsousin).' See the notes at Isaiah 62:8-9.
tree—among the most long-lived of objects in nature. They shall live as long as the trees they "plant" (compare Isa 61:3, end of verse; Ps 92:12).
enjoy—Hebrew, "consume," "wear out"; they shall live to enjoy the last of it (Isa 62:9).
they shall not plant, and another eat; the fruit of the vines, olives, fig trees, or others, planted by them:
for as the days of a tree are the days of my people; not as of a leaf which falls every year, but as of a tree, and as of such that last long, as oaks, cedars, and the like; though perhaps a tree bearing fruit fit to eat is meant; and the sense be, that the Lord's people should live as long as the trees planted by them, and so should eat the fruit thereof, and not leave them to others to partake of. The Targum, Septuagint, and Arabic versions, render it,
"as the days of the tree of life;''
which, some of the Rabbins say, were five hundred years. The allusion may be to the tree of life in paradise, and may be expressive of the long life of good men in this state; and as the tree of life was typical of Christ, who is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon him, it may denote that eternal life his people have by him.
And mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands; what they have built and planted; they shall live long in their houses, and for many years partake of the fruit of their vineyards. The blessing of long life is carried on with the promises of all other instances of outward happiness.They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 22. - As the days of a tree are the days of my people. Trees endure for many hundreds, perhaps for thousands of years. The cedars of Lebanon, the oaks of Bashan, were known to have an antiquity of centuries. Isaiah may have had a knowledge of other trees to which attached the tradition of a yet longer existence. In our own day Brazil and California have furnished proofs of vegetable growths exceeding a millennium. Mine elect shall long enjoy; literally, shall wear out; i.e. have the full use and enjoyment of the work of their hands. Isaiah 66:5), crying and wailing (תּילילוּ, fut. hiph. as in Isaiah 15:2, with a double preformative; Ges. 70, 2 Anm.) for sorrow of heart and crushing of spirit (shebher, rendered very well by the lxx συντριβή, as in Isaiah 61:1, συντετριμμένους ), the rebellious ones are left behind in the land of captivity, whilst the servants of Jehovah enjoy the richest blessings from God in the land of promise (Isaiah 62:8-9). The former, perishing in the land of captivity, leave their name to the latter as shebhū‛âh, i.e., to serve as a formula by which to swear, or rather to execrate or curse (Numbers 5:21), so that men will say, "Jehovah slay thee, as He slew them." This, at any rate, is the meaning of the threat; but the words וגו והמיתך cannot contain the actual formula, not even if we drop the Vav, as Knobel proposes, and change לבחירי into לבחיריו; for, in the first place, although in the doxologies a Hebrew was in the habit of saying "berūkh shemō" (bless his name) instead of yehı̄ shemō bârukh (his name be blessed), he never went so far as the Arab with his Allâh tabâr, but said rather יתברך. Still less could he make use of the perfect (indicative) in such sentences as "may he slay thee," instead of the future (voluntative) ימיתך, unless the perfect shared the optative force of the previous future by virtue of the consecutio temporum. And secondly, the indispensable כּהם or כּאלּה would be wanting (see Jeremiah 29:22, cf., Genesis 48:20). We may therefore assume, that the prophet has before his mind the words of this imprecatory formula, though he does not really express them, and that he deduces from it the continuation of the threat. And this explains his passing from the plural to the singular. Their name will become an execration; but Jehovah will call His servants by another name (cf., Isaiah 62:2), so that henceforth it will be the God of the faithfully fulfilled promise whose name men take into their mouth when they either desire a blessing or wish to give assurance of the truth (hithbâr be, to bless one's self with any one, or with the name of any one; Ewald, 133, Anm. 1). No other name of any god is now heard in the land, except this gloriously attested name; for the former troubles, which included the mixed condition of Israel in exile and the persecution of the worshippers of Jehovah by the despisers of Jehovah, are now forgotten, so that they no longer disturb the enjoyment of the present, and are eve hidden from the eyes of God, so that all thought of ever renewing them is utterly remote from His mind. This is the connection between Isaiah 65:16 and Isaiah 65:13-15. אשׁר does not mean eo quod here, as in Genesis 31:49 for example, but ita ut, as in Genesis 13:16. What follows is the result of the separation accomplished and the promise fulfilled. For the same reason God is called Elohē'âmēn, "the God of Amen," i.e., the God who turns what He promises into Yea and Amen (2 Corinthians 1:20). The epithet derived from the confirmatory Amen, which is thus applied to Jehovah, is similar to the expression in Revelation 3:14, where Jesus is called "the Amen, the faithful and true witness." The explanatory kı̄ (for) is emphatically repeated in וכי, as in Genesis 33:11 and 1 Samuel 19:4 (compare Job 38:20). The inhabitants of the land stand in a close and undisturbed relation to the God who has proved Himself to be true to His promises; for all the former evils that followed from the sin have entirely passed away.
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