Isaiah 65:23
They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) Their offspring with them . . .—The picture presented is that of a patriarchal family, including many generations, fathers no longer outliving their children and mourning for their death, as Jacob did (Genesis 37:35; Genesis 42:38), and as men had often done in the times of war, famine, and pestilence, through which Isaiah had lived.

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.They shall not labor in vain - That is, either because their land shall be unfruitful, or because others shall plunder them.

Nor bring forth for trouble - Lowth renders this, 'Neither shall they generate a short-lived race.' Noyes, 'Nor bring forth children for an early death.' The Septuagint renders it, Οὐδὲ τεκνοποιήσουσιν εἰς κατάραν Oude teknopoiēsousin eis kataran - 'Nor shall they bring forth children for a curse.' The Chaldee, 'Nor shall they nourish them for death.' There can be no doubt that this refers to their posterity, and that the sense is, that they should not be the parents of children who would be subject to an early death or to a curse. The word rendered here 'bring forth' (ילדוּ yēledû) is a word that uniformly means to bear, to bring forth as a mother, or to beget as a father. And the promise here is, that which would be so grateful to parental feelings, that their posterity would be long-lived and respected. The word rendered here 'trouble' (בהלה behâlâh) means properly "terror," and then the effect of terror, or that which causes terror, sudden destruction. It is derived from בהל bâhal, to trouble, to shake, to be in trepidation, to flee, and then to punish suddenly; and the connection here seems to require the sense that their children should not be devoted to sudden destruction.

For they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord - (See the notes at Isaiah 59:21).

23. bring forth for trouble—literally, "for terror," that is, "They shall not bring forth children for a sudden death" (Le 26:16; Jer 15:8).

seed … blessed—(Isa 61:9).

offspring with them—(Ho 9:12). "Their offspring shall be with themselves" [Maurer]; not "brought forth" only to be cut off by "sudden death" (see the parallel clause).

And not only a blessing to them, but also to their offspring. But what is here promised which wicked men do not ofttimes enjoy, and God’s people ofttimes want?

Answ. 1. Wicked men may have them for their good parents’ sake, and good men may sometimes want them for evil parents’ sake.

2. Bad men may have some of these things, but they cannot expect them; good men may at present want them, but they may expect them from the hand of God if they be good for them.

3. Bad men may have them in wrath; the blessing of God gives them to good men, and adds no sorrow therewith.

They shall not labour in vain,.... As they do, who build houses, and enemies come and turn them out of them, and dwell in them themselves; or who plant vineyards, and sow their fields, and strangers come and devour them; or they are smitten with blasting and mildew:

nor bring forth for trouble; for death, as the Targum; or for a curse, as the Septuagint: the tense is, they shall not beget and bring forth children, that shall immediately die by some distemper or another, or be taken off by famine, sword, or pestilence, to the great grief and trouble of their parents; but these shall live, and outlive their parents, so that their death will never be a trouble to them:

for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them; or, "they are a seed, the blessed of the Lord" (i); or, "they are the seed blessed of God", or "the Lord", as the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions; or, as the Targum,

"a seed whom the Lord hath blessed;''

a spiritual seed of the church, a seed raised up to serve the Lord, whom he blesses with temporal and spiritual blessings; and their offspring also, being made a spiritual seed by the grace of God, and succeeding them in the church, and treading in their steps.

(i) "quia sunt semens, benedicti Domini ipsi"; which tension is most agreeable to the accents.

They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. They shall not weary themselves for vanity] ch. Isaiah 49:4; Habakkuk 2:13; because God’s blessing rests on them.

nor bring forth (sc. children) for sudden destruction] Jeremiah 15:8; Psalm 78:33.

and their offspring with them] Better perhaps as a complete sentence: and their offspring shall be with them (R.V. marg.); many generations living together. Cf. Job 21:8.

Verse 23. - They shall not... bring forth for trouble. Their women shall not bear children to see them carried off after a few days, or months, or years, by disease, or accident, or famine, or the sword of the invader. There shall be an end of such "troubles," and, God's blessing resting upon those who are his children, their children shall, as a general rule, "be with them;" i.e. remain to them during their lifetime, and not be lost to them by a premature decease. Isaiah 65:23לבּהלה. Fleischer says: "בּהל and Arabic bahala are so far connected, that the stem בהל, like בלהּ, signifies primarily to let loose, or let go. This passes over partly into outward overtaking or overturning, and partly into internal surprise and bewildering, and partly also (in Arabic) into setting free on the one hand, and outlawing on the other (compare the Azazel-goat of the day of atonement, which was sent away into the wilderness); hence it is used as an equivalent for Arabic la‛ana (execrare)."

In passing to our exposition of the book, the first thing which strikes us is its traditional title - Yeshaiah (Isaiah). In the book itself, and throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, the prophet is called Yeshayahu; and the shorter form is found in the latest books as the name of other persons. It was a common thing in the very earliest times for the shorter forms of such names to be used interchangeably with the longer; but in later times the shorter was the only form employed, and for this reason it was the one adopted in the traditional title. The name is a compound one, and signifies "Jehovah's salvation." The prophet was conscious that it was not merely by accident that he bore this name; for ישׁע (he shall save) and ישׁוּעה (salvation) are among his favourite words. It may be said, in fact, that he lived and moved altogether in the coming salvation, which was to proceed from Jehovah, and would be realized hereafter, when Jehovah should come at last to His people as He had never come before. This salvation was the goal of the sacred history (Heilsgeschichte, literally, history of salvation); and Jehovah was the peculiar name of God in relation to that history. It denotes "the existing one," not however "the always existing," i.e., eternal, as Bunsen and the Jewish translators render it, but "existing evermore," i.e., filling all history, and displaying His glory therein in grace and truth. The ultimate goal of this historical process, in which God was ever ruling as the absolutely free One, according to His own self-assertion in Exodus 3:14, was true and essential salvation, proceeding outwards from Israel, and eventually embracing all mankind. In the name of the prophet the tetragrammaton יהוה is contracted into יהו (יה) by the dropping of the second ה. We may easily see from this contraction that the name of God was pronounced with an a sound, so that it was either called Yahveh, or rather Yahaveh, or else Yahvâh, or rather Yahavâh. According to Theodoret, it was pronounced ̓Ιαβε (Yahaveh) by the Samaritans; and it is written in the same way in the list of the names of the Deity given in Epiphanius. That the ah sound was also a customary pronunciation, may not only be gathered from such names as Jimnah, Jimrah, Jishvah, Jishpah (compare Jithlah, the name of a place), but is also expressly attested by the ancient variations, Jao, Jeuo, Jo (Jeremiah 23:6, lxx), on the one hand, and on the other hand by the mode of spelling adopted by Origen (Jaoia) and Theodoret (Aia, not only in quaest, in Exodus 15, but also in Fab. haeret. "Aia signifies the existing one; it was pronounced thus by Hebrews, but the Samaritans call it Jabai, overlooking the force of the word"). The dull-sounding long a could be expressed by omega quite as well as by alpha. Isidor follows these and similar testimonies, and says (Orig. vii. 7), "The tetragrammaton consisted of ia written twice (iaia), and with this reduplication it constituted the unutterable and glorious name of God." The Arabic form adopted by the Samaritans leaves it uncertain whether it is to be pronounced Yahve or Yahva. They wrote to Job Ludolf (in the Epistola Samaritana Sichemitarum tertia, published by Bruns, 1781), in opposition to the statement of Theodoret, that they pronounced the last syllable with damma; that is to say, they pronounced the name Yahavoh (Yahvoh), which was the form in which it was written in the last century by Velthusen, and also by Muffi in his Disegno di lezioni e di ricerche sulla lingua Ebraica (Pavia, 1792). The pronunciation Jehovah (Yehovah) arose out of a combination of the Keri and the chethib, and has only become current since the time of the Reformation. Genebrard denounces it in his Commentary upon the Psalms with the utmost vehemence, in opposition to Beza, as an intolerable innovation. "Ungodly violators of what is most ancient," he says, "profaning and transforming the unutterable name of God, would read Jova or Jehova - a new, barbarous, fictitious, and irreligious word, that savours strongly of the Jove of the heathen." Nevertheless his Jehova (Jova) forced its way into general adoption, and we shall therefore retain it, notwithstanding the fact that the o sound is decidedly wrong. To return, then: the prophet's name signifies "Jehovah's salvation." In the Septuagint it is always written ̔Ησαΐ̀ας, with a strong aspirate; in the Vulgate it is written Isaias, and sometimes Esaias.

In turning from the outward to the inward title, which is contained in the book itself, there are two things to be observed at the outset: (1.) The division of the vv. indicated by soph pasuk is an arrangement for which the way was prepared as early as the time of the Talmud, and which was firmly established in the Masoretic schools; and consequently it reaches as far back as the extreme limits of the middle ages - differing in this respect from the division of vv. in the New Testament. The arrangement of the chapters, however, with the indications of the separate sections of the prophetic collection, is of no worth to us, simply because it is not older than the thirteenth century. According to some authorities, it originated with Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury († 1227); whilst others attribute it to Cardinal Hugo of St. Caro († 1262). It is only since the fifteenth century that it has been actually adopted in the text. (2.) The small ring or star at the commencement points to the footnote, which affirms that Isaiah 1:1-28 (where we find the same sign again) was the haphtarah, or concluding pericope, taken from the prophets, which was read on the same Sabbath as the parashah from the Pentateuch, in Deuteronomy 1:1. It was, as we shall afterwards see, a very thoughtful principle of selection which led to the combination of precisely these two lessons.

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