Isaiah 66:20
And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) They shall bring all your brethren . . .—The offering is the minchah, the bloodless meatoffering of the Levitical law (Leviticus 2:1-2). The underlying thought is that the returning exiles would be the most acceptable offering that could be brought to Jehovah. The same idea appears in Zephaniah 3:10, and a similar one, transferred, however, to the Gentile converts, in Romans 15:16.

Upon horses, and in chariots . . .—The list of the modes of transport, as in Zechariah 14:15, points to the various habits of the many nations who are to be sharers in the work.

As the children of Israel . . .—The “clean offering” is, as before, the minchah. The heathen, or, perhaps, even the chariots and litters on which they brought the exiles, are as the “clean vessels” in which the minchah was brought to the Temple.

66:19,20, set forth the abundance of means for conversion of sinners. These expressions are figurative, and express the plentiful and gracious helps for bringing God's elect home to Christ. All shall be welcome; and nothing shall be wanting for their assistance and encouragement. A gospel ministry shall be set up in the church; they would have solemn worship before the Lord. In the last verse the nature of the punishment of sinners in the world to come is represented. Then shall the righteous and wicked be separated. Our Saviour applies this to the everlasting misery and torment of impenitent sinners in the future state. To the honour of that free grace which thus distinguishes them, let the redeemed of the Lord, with humility, and not without holy trembling, sing triumphant songs. With this affecting representation of the opposite states of the righteous and wicked, characters which include the whole human race, Isaiah concludes his prophecies. May God grant, for Christ's sake, that our portion may be with those who fear and love his name, who cleave to his truths, and persevere in every good work, looking to receive from the Lord Jesus Christ the gracious invitation, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.And they shall bring all your brethren - That is, as great success shall attend them as if they should bring back all who had gone there when scattered abroad, and should present them as an offering to Yahweh. The image here is taken from the scene which would be presented, should the distant nations be seen bringing the scattered exiles in all lands on horses, and on palanquins, and on dromedaries, again to Jerusalem, and presenting them before Yahweh in the city where they formerly dwelt. It is the image of a vast caravan, conducted by the pagan world when they had become tributary to the people of God, and when they united to return them to their own land. The spiritual signification is, that all they who should be appropriately called, brethren,' all who should be the true friends of God, should be brought and offered to Yahweh; that is, there should be a great accession to the people of God from the pagan world.

For an offering unto the Lord. - Hebrew, מנחה minchāh - not a bloody offering or sacrifice: but an offering such as was made by flour, oil, etc. (see the notes at Isaiah 1:13.)

Out of all nations - The truth shall be proclaimed in all lands, and a vast accession shall be made from all parts of the world to the true church of God. To understand this description, we must form an idea of immense caravans proceeding from distant parts of the world to Jerusalem, bearing along the converts to the true religion to be dedicated to the service of Yahweh.

Upon horses - Horses were little used by the Hebrews (see the notes at Isaiah 2:7), but they are much used by the Arabs, and form an important part of the caravan that goes to distant places.

And in chariots - (Compare the notes at Isaiah 66:15). It is, however, by no means certain that the word used here refers to a wheeled vehicle, Such vehicles were not used in caravans. The editor of the Ruins of Palmyra tells us that the caravan they formed to go to that place, consisted of about two hundred persons, and about the same number of beasts of carriage, which were an odd mixture of horses, camels, mules, and asses; but there is no account of any vehicle drawn on wheels in that expedition, nor do we find an account of such things in other eastern journeys (Harmer). Coaches, Dr. Russel assures us, are not in use in Aleppo, nor are they commonly used in any of the countries of the East. The Hebrew word used here (רכב rekeb), means properly riding - riders, cavalry (see it explained in the notes at Isaiah 21:7); then any vehicle for riding - whether a wagon, chariot, or litter. Lowth renders it, 'In litters.' Pitts, in his account of the return from Mecca, describes a species of litter which was borne by two camels, one before and another behind, which was all covered over with searcloth, and that again with green broadcloth, and which was elegantly adorned. It is not improbable that some such vehicle is intended here, as it is certain that such things as wagons or chariots are not found in oriental caravans.

And in litters - Margin, 'Coaches.' But the word litters more properly expresses the idea. Lowth renders it, 'Counes.' Thevenot tells us that counes are hampers, or cradles, carried upon the backs of camels, one on each side, having a back, head, and sides, like great chairs. A covering is commonly laid over them to protect the rider from wind and rain. This is a common mode of traveling in the East. The coune, or hamper, is thrown across the back of the camel, somewhat in the manner of saddle-bags with us. Sometimes a person sits on each side, and they thus balance each other, and sometimes the end in which the person is placed is balanced by provisions, or articles of furniture in the other. 'At Aleppo,' says Dr. Russel, 'women of inferior condition in long journeys are commonly stowed, one on each side of a mule, in a sort of covered cradles.' The Hebrew word used here (צב tsab), means properly a litter, a sedan coach - what can be lightly or gently borne.

The Septuagint renders it, Ἐν λαμπήναις ἡμιόνων μετὰ σκιαδίων En lampēnais hēmionōn meta skiadiōn - 'In litters of mules, with shades or umbrellas.' Perhaps the following description of a scene in the khan at Acre, will afford an apt illustration of this passage. 'The bustle was increased this morning by the departure of the wives of the governor of Jaffa. They set off in two coaches of a curious description, common in this country. The body of the coach was raised on two parallel poles, somewhat similar to those used for sedan chairs only that in these the poles were attached to the lower par; of the coach - throwing consequently the center of gravity much higher, and apparently exposing the vehicle, with its veiled tenant, to an easy overthrow, or at least to a very active jolt. Between the poles strong mules were harnessed, one before and one behind; who, if they should prove capricious, or have very uneven or mountainous ground to pass, would render the situation of the ladies still more critical.' (Jowett's Christian Researches in Syria, pp. 115, 116, Amos Ed.)

And upon swift beasts - Dromedaries. So Lowth and Noyes render it; and so the word used here - כרכרות kirekârôt - properly denotes. The word is derived from כיר kārar, to dance; and the name is given to them for their bounding or dancing motion, their speed being also sometimes accelerated by musical instruments (Bochart, Hieroz. i. 2, 4). For a description of the dromedary, see the notes at Isaiah 60:6.

As the children of Israel - As the Jews bear an offering to Yahweh in a vessel that is pure, The utmost attention was paid to the cleanliness of their vessels in their public worship.

20. they—the Gentiles (Isa 66:19).

bring … your brethren—the Jews, back to the Holy Land (Isa 49:22). It cannot mean the mere entrance of the Jews into the Christian Church; for such an entrance would be by faith, not upon "horses, litters, and mules" [Houbigant]. "Offering" is metaphorical, as in Ro 15:16.

horses—not much used by the Jews. The Gentiles are here represented as using their modes of conveyance to "bring" the Jews to Jerusalem.

chariots—as these are not found in Oriental caravans, translate, "vehicles," namely, borne, not drawn on wheels.

litters—covered sedans for the rich.

upon swift beasts—dromedaries: from Hebrew root, "to dance," from their bounding motion, often accelerated by music [Bochart]. Panniers were thrown across the dromedaries' back for poorer women [Horsley].

Those who are the children of Abraham (not considered as the father of the Jewish nation only, but considered as the father of many nations, and as the father of the faithful, or who are the children of God, being believers, and receiving Christ, and so are your brethren, how contemptible soever you judge them) shall be brought out of all nations for an

offering to the Lord. God will have no more offerings of bullocks, and rams, or lambs, but of men and women, reasonable services, Romans 12:1; he will have an offering up of the Gentiles, Romans 15:16. And because the Gentiles are many of them far off from Jerusalem, and as yet farther off from God, Ephesians 2:17, God will find out fit means for this end, as horses, and litters, and mules, and swift beasts are, to bring men and women long journeys. And they shall be brought into the church, which began at Jerusalem; and lifts you may be assured of, for the Lord hath said it, who cannot lie nor repent. And they shall come with as much joy and gladness, with as much sincerity and holiness, as the godly Jews use and exercise when they bring their offerings in clean vessels.

And they shall bring all your brethren, for an offering unto the Lord, out of all nations,.... This is not said of the Jews, either with respect to the first times of the Gospel; not of the devout men of all nations that heard the apostles on the day of Pentecost; nor of those the Gospel met with in the Gentile world, by the ministry of the apostles, to whom Peter and James write their epistles; or, in the latter day, such who remain in the several nations after the general conversion of that people; but this is to be understood of the Gentiles, and of the bringing in the fulness of them, by means of those who shall escape the calamities of those times, the destruction of the eastern and western antichrist; some of which will become preachers of the word, and be the instruments of doing this work: here the Gentiles are called the brethren of the converted Jews, as all the Lord's people are brethren one of another, be they of what nation they will; they are all in a spiritual sense the seed and children of Abraham, who is the father of all that believe; and so all believers are brethren, Jews and Gentiles; yea, they are all the children of God, who is the one God and Father of all, in the covenant of grace, which is common to them all; and by adoption, and through regeneration, the evidence of it. Christ stands in the relation of an elder brother to them all; and the church universal, the Jerusalem above, is the mother of them all; they are mother's children, and so brethren; they are partakers of the same blessings and privileges, and heirs of the same promises, grace, and glory: now all those that are predestinated to the adoption of sons, that are the children of God scattered abroad, and whom God has promised to call by his grace, shall be brought in; not one shall be left behind; such is the will of God, which cannot be resisted; such their election of grace, which stands firm on the sovereign will of God, and, always obtains; such the suretyship of Christ, and the purchase of his blood, which make the bringing of them absolutely necessary; and the Lord knows where they are, and will send his Gospel and ministers to them, to fetch them in, let them be in ever such distant and obscure places: and these shall be brought,

for an offering to the Lord; which shall be offered to him, either by the persons that bring them, the ministers of the Gospel, who are the priests of the Lord, Isaiah 66:21 and who offer, not slain beasts, as under the law, but living persons, men and women, converted under their ministry; whom they bring to the Lord, and to his house, as trophies of his victorious grace, to serve and glorify him. The Apostle Paul seems to allude to this passage, and to give the sense of it, Romans 15:16 or else by themselves that are brought; who shall present their souls and bodies a living, holy, and acceptable sacrifice unto God, as their reasonable service; not to atone for their sins, but in gratitude to the Lord, as being his, and not their own, Romans 12:1 the means by which they shall be brought follows:

upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts; which Kimchi and Aben Ezra interpret of camels, the better sort of them; but the Targum renders it, with praises; and so Jarchi understands it of the songs of those that skip and dance for joy; see 1 Samuel 6:16, which carriages are not to be understood literally, but figuratively, expressive of the Gospel ministry, which is the vehicle of salvation, and in which souls are brought to Christ, and to his church; and various sorts being mentioned, may signify the multitudes that shall be gathered in, and the different accommodations made, according to different circumstances; some that are strong and eager, and impatient of church communion, are brought on more speedily, on horses, and swift beasts; and others more weakly, and can move but slowly, in chariots and litters; and all denote the safe and honourable way and manner in which they are conducted, as well as the welcome they may expect to have in the churches of Christ; since all manner of help is afforded to them. The horse is an emblem of the Gospel ministry, and so is the chariot, Revelation 6:2 the place they will be brought unto is,

to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord; not Jerusalem literally taken, though it is highly probable it will be at this time a place of great resort of all Christians; but the church, often called by this name in this prophecy, and in this chapter; a "mountain", for height, visibility, and especially for firmness and immovableness; a "holy" one, where holy things, words, and ordinances are ministered, holy persons meet, and none else should be members of it; hither converted persons are brought, to partake of those holy things, and have communion with holy persons, by means of the ministers of the Gospel, who invite, exhort, encourage, and persuade, and use the most forcible arguments they can, but after all are but instruments, God is the cause; it is he that brings souls to Zion, Jeremiah 3:14 the manner follows:

as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord; just as the "minchah", or meat offering, was brought in a pure and clean vessel into the sanctuary of the Lord, and there presented before him; as all the vessels there were Holy Ones, Ezra 8:28 denoting who those should be that should be brought and offered; persons whose hearts were purified by faith in the blood of Christ; called with a holy calling; sanctified by the Holy Ghost; and appearing in the beauties of holiness of heart and life. The Septuagint version renders it, "with psalms"; and the Arabic version, "with a jubilee"; suggesting they should be brought with joy and gladness; see Psalm 45:15. The ancient Jews (p) interpret all this of the gifts brought to the King Messiah in his days.

(p) Midrash Tillim apud Yalkut in Psal. Ixxxvii. 4.

And they shall bring all your {f} brethren for an offering to the LORD out of all nations upon {g} horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD.

(f) That is the Gentiles, who by faith will be made the children of Abraham as you are.

(g) By which he means that no necessary means will want, when God will call the Gentiles to the knowledge of the gospel.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. The subject of the sentence is the nations. Cf. ch. Isaiah 49:22, Isaiah 60:9, Isaiah 14:2.

litters] Elsewhere only in Numbers 7:3 (in the phrase “covered wagons”).

swift beasts] dromedaries (R.V. marg.).

Verse 20. - They shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord. When the distant Gentiles have been converted, they shall bring to Christ the Jews of the dispersion, who dwell with them in the remote parts of the earth (comp. Zephaniah 3:10). Upon horses. The "new Jerusalem" being localized, the converts from the distant regions are represented as journeying from their own lands to the "holy mountain," and bringing the Jewish exiles with them by various methods of conveyance - upon horses, mules, and dromedaries, in chariots, and finally in palanquins or litters. "Litters" were used by the great men among the Egyptians from a very early date (see Rosellini, 'Monumenti Civili,' pl. 93, fig. 2; Wilkinson, ' Ancient Egyptians,' vol. 2. p. 208). They were also employed by the Persians (Herod., 3:146) and by the later Romans. As the children of Israel bring an offering; rather, bring the meat offering. The existence of the temple, and the continuance of the Levitical rites at the time of the delivery of this prophecy, are clearly implied. Isaiah 66:20But a remnant escapes; and this remnant is employed by Jehovah to promote the conversion of the Gentile world and the restoration of Israel. "And I set a sign upon them, and send away those that have escaped from them to the Gentiles to Tarshiish, Phl, and Ld, to the stretchers of the bow, Tbal and Javan - the distant islands that have not heard my fame and have not seen my glory, and they will proclaim my glory among the Gentiles. And they will bring your brethren out of all heathen nations, a sacrifice for Jehovah, upon horses and upon chariots, and upon litters and upon mules and upon dromedaries, to my holy mountain, to Jerusalem, saith Jehovah, as the children of Israel bring the meat-offering in a clear vessel to the house of Jehovah." The majority of commentators understand vesamtı̄ bâhem 'ōth (and I set a sign upon them) as signifying, according to Exodus 10:2, that Jehovah will perform such a miraculous sign upon the assembled nations as He formerly performed upon Egypt (Hofmann), and one which will outweigh the ten Egyptian 'ōthōth and complete the destruction commenced by them. Hitzig supposes the 'ōth to refer directly to the horrible wonder connected with the battle, in which Jehovah fights against them with fire and sword (compare the parallels so far as the substance is concerned in Joel 3:14-16, Zephaniah 3:8, Ezekiel 38:18., Zechariah 14:12.). But since, according to the foregoing threat, the expression "they shall see my glory" signifies that they will be brought to experience the judicial revelation of the glory of Jehovah, if vesamtı̄ bâhem 'ōth (and I set a sign upon them) were to be understood in this judicial sense, it would be more appropriate for it to precede than to follow. Moreover, this vesamtı̄ bâhem 'ōth would be a very colourless description of what takes place in connection with the assembled army of nations. It is like a frame without a picture; and consequently Ewald and Umbreit are right in maintaining that what follows directly after is to be taken as the picture for this framework. The 'ōth (or sign) consists in the unexpected and, with this universal slaughter, the surprising fact, that a remnant is still spared, and survives this judicial revelation of glory. This marvellous rescue of individuals out of the mass is made subservient in the midst of judgment to the divine plan of salvation. those who have escaped are to bring to the far distant heathen world the tidings of Jehovah, the God who has been manifested in judgment and grace, tidings founded upon their own experience. It is evident from this, that notwithstanding the expression "all nations and tongues," the nations that crowd together against Jerusalem and are overthrown in the attempt, are not to be understood as embracing all nations without exception, since the prophet is able to mention the names of many nations which were beyond the circle of these great events, and had been hitherto quite unaffected by the positive historical revelation, which was concentrated in Israel. By Tarshish Knobel understand the nation of the Tyrsenes, Tuscans, or Etruscans; but there is far greater propriety in looking for Tarshish, as the opposite point to 'Ophir, in the extreme west, where the name of the Spanish colony Tartessus resembles it in sound. In the middle ages Tunis was combined with this. Instead of ולוּד פּוּל we should probably read with the lxx ולוּד פּוּט, as in Ezekiel 27:10; Ezekiel 30:5. Stier decides in favour of this, whilst Hitzig and Ewald regard פול as another form of פוט. The epithet קשׁת משׁכי (drawers of the bow) is admirably adapted to the inhabitants of Pūt, since this people of the early Egyptian Phet (Phaiat) is represented ideographically upon the monuments by nine bows. According to Josephus, Ant. i. 6, 2, a river of Mauritania was called Phout, and the adjoining country Phoute; and this is confirmed by other testimonies. As Lud is by no means to be understood as referring to the Lydians of Asia Minor here, if only because they could not well be included among the nations of the farthest historico-geographical horizon in a book which traces prophetically the victorious career of Cyrus, but signifies rather the undoubtedly African tribe, the לוד which Ezekiel mentions in Isaiah 30:5 among the nations under Egyptian rule, and in Isaiah 27:10 among the auxiliaries of the Tyrians, and which Jeremiah notices in Jeremiah 46:9 along with Put as armed with bows; Put and Lud form a fitting pair in this relation also, whereas Pul is never met with again. The Targum renders it by פּוּלאי, i.e., (according to Bochart) inhabitants of Φιλαί, a Nile island of Upper Egypt, which Strabo (xvii. 1, 49) calls "a common abode of Ethiopians and Egyptians" (see Parthey's work, De Philis insula); and this is at any rate better than Knobel's supposition, that either Apulia (which was certainly called Pul by the Jews of the middle ages) or Lower Italy is intended here. Tubal stands for the Tibarenes on the south-east coast of the Black Sea, the neighbours of the Moschi (משׁך), with whom they are frequently associated by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 27:13; Ezekiel 38:2-3; Ezekiel 39:1); according to Josephus (Ant. i. 6, 1), the (Caucasian) Iberians. Javan is a name given to the Greeks, from the aboriginal tribe of the Bawones. The eye is now directed towards the west: the "isles afar off" are the islands standing out of the great western sea (the Mediterranean), and the coastlands that project into it. To all these nations, which have hitherto known nothing of the God of revelation, either through the hearing of the word or through their own experience, Jehovah sends those who have escaped; and they make known His glory there, that glory the judicial manifestation of which they have just seen for themselves.

The prophet is speaking here of the ultimate completion of the conversion of the Gentiles; for elsewhere this appeared to him as the work of the Servant of Jehovah, for which Cyrus the oppressor of the nations prepared the soil. His standpoint here resembles that of the apostle in Romans 11:25, who describes the conversion of the heathen world and the rescue of all Israel as facts belonging to the future; although at the time when he wrote this, the evangelization of the heathen foretold by our prophet in Isaiah 42:1. was already progressing most rapidly. A direct judicial act of God Himself will ultimately determine the entrance of the Pleroma of the Gentiles into the kingdom of God, and this entrance of the fulness of the Gentiles will then lead to the recovery of the diaspora of Israel, since the heathen, when won by the testimony borne to Jehovah by those who have been saved, "bring your brethren out of all nations." On the means employed to carry this into effect, including kirkârōth, a species of camels (female camels), which derives its name from its rapid swaying motion, see the Lexicons.

(Note: The lxx render it σκιαδίων, i.e., probably palanquins. Jerome observes on this, quae nos dormitoria interpretari possumus vel basternas. (On this word, with which the name of the Bastarnians as ̔Αμαξόβιοι is connected, see Hahnel's Bedeutung der Bastarner fr das german. Alterthum, 1865, p. 34.))

The words are addressed, as in Isaiah 66:5, to the exiles of Babylonia. The prophet presupposes that his countrymen are dispersed among all nations to the farthest extremity of the geographical horizon. In fact, the commerce of the Israelites, which had extended as far as India and Spain ever since the time of Solomon, the sale of Jewish prisoners as slaves to Phoenicians, Edomites, and Greeks in the time of king Joram (Obadiah 1:20; Joel 3:6; Amos 1:6), the Assyrian captivities, the free emigrations - for example, of those who stayed behind in the land after the destruction of Jerusalem and then went down to Egypt - had already scattered the Israelites over the whole of the known world (see at Isaiah 49:12). Umbreit is of opinion that the prophet calls all the nations who had turned to Jehovah "brethren of Israel," and represents them as marching in the most motley grouping to the holy city. In that case those who were brought upon horses, chariots, etc., would be proselytes; but who would bring them? This explanation is opposed not only to numerous parallels in Isaiah, such as Isaiah 60:4, but also to the abridgment of the passage in Zephaniah 3:10 : "From the other side of the rivers of Ethiopia (taken from Isaiah 18:1-7) will they offer my worshippers, the daughters of my dispersed ones, to me for a holy offering." It is the diaspora of Israel to which the significant name "my worshippers, the daughters of my dispersed ones," is there applied. The figure hinted at in minchâtı̄ (my holy offering) is given more elaborately here in the book of Isaiah, viz., "as the children of Israel are accustomed (fut. as in Isaiah 6:2) to offer the meat-offering" (i.e., that which was to be placed upon the altar as such, viz., wheaten flour, incense, oil, the grains of the first-fruits of wheat, etc.) "in a pure vessel to the house of Jehovah," not in the house of Jehovah, for the point of comparison is not the presentation in the temple, but the bringing to the temple. The minchah is the diaspora of Israel, and the heathen who have become vessels of honour correspond to the clean vessels.

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