For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Will the Lord plead . . .—Better, will the Lord hold judgment. The thoughts of the seer pass on to the retributive side of the Divine righteousness. Fire and sword have been used by the enemies of God against His people, and shall, in turn, be the instruments of His vengeance. The “sword” may, however, be the symbol of the Divine judgment, apart from any reference to its human instrument (Deuteronomy 32:41; Revelation 1:16).Isaiah 34:5; compare Romans 13:4).
Will he plead with all flesh - Or rather, he will judge (נשׁפט nı̂shephaṭ), that is, he will execute his purposes of vengeance on all the human race. Of course, only that part is intended who ought to be subject to punishment; that is, all his foes.
And the slain of the Lord shall be many - The number of those who shall be consigned to woe shall be immense - though in the winding up of the great drama at the close of the world, there is reason to hopethat a large proportion of the race, taken as a whole, will be saved. Of past generations, indeed, there is no just ground of such hope; of the present generation there is no such prospect. But brighter and happier times are to come. The true religion is to spread over all the world, and for a long period is to prevail; and the hope is, that during that long period the multitude of true converts will be so great as to leave the whole number who are lost, compared with those who are saved, much less than is commonly supposed. Still the aggregate of those who are lost, 'the slain of the Lord,' will be vast. This description I regard as having reference to the coming of the Lord to judgment (compare 2 Thessalonians 1:8); or if it refer to any other manifestation of Yahweh for judgment, like the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, it has a strong resemblance to the final judgment; and, like the description of that by the Saviour Matthew 24, the language is such as naturally to suggest, and to be applicable to, the final judgment of mankind.
all flesh—that is, all who are the objects of His wrath. The godly shall be hidden by the Lord in a place of safety away from the scene of judgment (Isa 26:20, 21; Ps 31:20; 1Th 4:16, 17).rebuking is also called a pleading with them; so he threatens to plead against Gog with pestilence and blood, Ezekiel 38:22. God at first pleads with sinners by words; but if he cannot so prevail, he will plead with them in a way by which he will overcome by fire, pestilence, and blood.
With all flesh; thus he threatens to do with all sinners, or with all the wicked Jews.
The slain of the Lord shall be many; to the fire he threatens to add the sword, so as the slain of the Lord, that is, those whom God should cause to be slain, should be many. Ezekiel 38:22 and with the other antichristian powers at the battle of Armageddon; and when the fourth vial will be poured upon the sun, and men will be scorched with fire; see Revelation 16:8,
and the slain of the Lord shall be many; that is, those that will be slain by the Lord, both in the attempt of the Turks to recover the land of Canaan out of the hands of the Jews, possessed of it; whose numbers of slain will be so many, that the burying of them will last seven months, Ezekiel 39:12 and in the battle between the Christian princes, Christ at the head of them, and the antichristian armies, led on by the beast and the kings of the earth; when the fowls of the air will be invited to the great supper of the Lord, to eat the flesh of kings, captains, and mighty men, so great will the slaughter be, Revelation 19:17, see also Isaiah 11:13.For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)16. by his sword] See ch. Isaiah 27:1, Isaiah 34:5-6.
plead] i.e. “enter into judgement,” as Ezekiel 38:22; Joel 3:2. the slain of the Lord shall be many] Cf. Jeremiah 25:33; Zephaniah 2:12 (Hebr.)Verse 16. - By fire and by his sword (see the introductory paragraph). The "sword of Jehovah" is spoken of also in Isaiah 27:1 and Isaiah 34:5, 6 (comp. Revelation 19:15, 21). Will the Lord plead with all flesh; rather, will the Lord judge all flesh (comp. Jeremiah 25:31, where the same phrase occurs). 1 Samuel 15:35, prove and show themselves to be mourners and go into mourning, b. Mod katan 20b, the word generally used in prose, whereas אבל, to be thrown into mourning, to mourn, only occurs in the higher style; compare ציּון אבלי, Isaiah 57:18; Isaiah 61:2-3; Isaiah 60:20), these are even now to rejoice in spirit with Jerusalem and exult on her account (bâh), and share her ecstatic delight with her ('ittâh), in order that when that in which they now rejoice in spirit shall be fulfilled, they may suck and be satisfied, etc. Jerusalem is regarded as a mother, and the rich actual consolation, which she receives (Isaiah 51:3), as the milk that enters her breasts (shōd as in Isaiah 60:16), and from which she now supplies her children with plentiful nourishment. זיז, which is parallel to שׁד (not זיו, a reading which none of the ancients adopted), signifies a moving, shaking abundance, which oscillates to and fro like a great mass of water, from זאזא, to move by fits and starts, for pellere movere is the radical meaning common in such combinations of letters as זא, זע, רא, Psalm 42:5, to which Bernstein and Knobel have correctly traced the word; whereas the meaning emicans fluxus (Schrder), or radians copia (Kocher), to pour out in the form of rays, has nothing to sustain it in the usage of the language.
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