Isaiah 66:6
A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the LORD that rendereth recompence to his enemies.
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(6) A voice of noise . . .—The form reminds us of Isaiah 13:4. The words represent dramatically the wonder with which men will behold the great judgments of God, proceeding, as with the thunders of Sinai (Amos 1:2; Joel 3:16), from the city and the temple, that seemed to have been given over to destruction.

Isaiah 66:6. A voice of noise from the city, &c. — This is an expression of a prophetical ecstasy, in which the prophet hears the noise of the ruin of the city and temple sounding in his ears. This voice of noise comes not from the city only, but from the temple, wherein these formalists had so much gloried, and reposed so much confidence. There is a noise of soldiers slaying, and of the poor people shrieking or crying out. A voice of the Lord — Not in thunder, which is sometimes called the Lord’s voice, but that rendereth recompense to his enemies — Thus he expresses the destruction of the Jews by the Roman armies, as a thing at that time doing. Some think this prophecy was fulfilled, partly at least, in the prodigies which, according to Josephus, in his history of the Jewish wars, (lib. 7. cap. 12,) preceded the destruction of Jerusalem: that the eastern gate of the temple, which was of solid brass and very heavy, and was scarcely shut in an evening by twenty men, and was fastened by strong bars and bolts, was seen, at the sixth hour of the night, opened of its own accord, and could hardly be shut again: that before the setting of the sun, there were seen over all the country chariots and armies fighting in the clouds, and besieging cities: that at the feast of pentecost, as the priests were going into the inner temple by night, as usual, to attend their service, they heard first a motion and noise, and then a voice, as of a multitude, saying, Let us depart hence; and, what he reckons as the most terrible of all, that one Jesus, the son of Ananus, an ordinary country fellow, four years before the war began, and when the city was in peace and plenty, came to the feast of tabernacles, and ran crying up and down the streets day and night, A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the temple, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, a voice against all the people. The magistrates endeavoured by stripes and torture to restrain him; but he still cried with a mournful voice, Wo, wo to Jerusalem! This he continued to do for seven years and five months together, and especially at the great festivals; and he neither grew hoarse nor was tired, but went about the walls and cried with a loud voice, Wo, wo to the city, and to the people, and to the temple! and, as he added at last, Wo, wo also to myself! it happened that a stone from some sling or engine immediately struck him dead. It may be proper to remark here, that there is not a more creditable historian than Josephus, who relates these things, and who appeals to the testimony of those who saw and heard them. But, as Bishop Newton observes, it may add some weight to his relation, that Tacitus, the Roman historian, a heathen, also gives us a summary account of the same occurrence. He says, “There happened several prodigies. Armies were seen to engage in different parts of the sky — glittering arms appeared — the temple shone by the sudden fire of the clouds — the doors of the temple were suddenly thrown wide open — a voice, more than human, was heard, that the gods were departing, and, at the same time, a great motion as if departing.” See Tacitus’s Hist., book 5. page 217, in Lipsius’s edition.

66:5-14 The prophet turns to those that trembled at God's word, to comfort and encourage them. The Lord will appear, to the joy of the humble believer, and to the confusion of hypocrites and persecutors. When the Spirit was poured out, and the gospel went forth from Zion, multitudes were converted in a little time. The word of God, especially his promises, and ordinances, are the consolations of the church. The true happiness of all Christians is increased by every convert brought to Christ. The gospel brings with it, wherever it is received in its power, such a river of peace, as will carry us to the ocean of boundless and endless bliss. Divine comforts reach the inward man; the joy of the Lord will be the strength of the believer. Both God's mercy and justice shall be manifested, and for ever magnified.A voice of noise from the city - That is, from the city of Jerusalem. The prophet sees in a vision a tumult in the city. He hears a voice that issues from the temple. His manner and language are rapid and hurried - such as a man would evince who should suddenly see a vast tumultuous assemblage, and hear a confused sound of many voices. There is also a remarkable abruptness in the whole description here. The preceding verse was calm and solemn. It was full of affectionate assurance of the divine favor to those whom the prophet saw to be persecuted. Here the scene suddenly changes. The vision passes to the agitating events which were occurring in the city and the temple, and to the great and sudden change which would be produced in the condition of the church of God. But to whom or what this refers has been a subject of considerable difference of opinion. Grotius understands it of the sound of triumph of Judas Maccabeus, and of his soldiers, rejoicing that the city was forsaken by Antiochus, and by the party of the Jews who adhered to him.

Rosenmuller understands it of the voice of God, who is seen by the prophet taking vengeance on his foes. There can be no doubt that the prophet, in vision, sees Yahweh taking recompence on his enemies - for that is expressly specified. Still it is not easy to determine the exact time referred to, or the exact scene which passes before the mind of the prophet. To me it seems probable that it is a scene that immediately preceded the rapid extension of the gospel, and the great and sudden increase of the church by the accession of the pagan world (see the following verses); and I would suggest, whether it is not a vision of the deeply affecting and agitating scenes when the temple and city were about to be destroyed by the Romans; when the voice of Yahweh would be heard in the city and at the temple, declaring the punishment which he would bring on those who had cast out and rejected the followers of the Messiah Isaiah 66:5; and when, as a result of this, the news of Salvation was to be rapidly spread throughout the pagan world.

This is the opinion, also, of Vitringa. The phrase rendered here 'a voice of noise' (שׁאון קול qôl shâ'ôn), means properly the voice of a tumultuous assemblage; the voice of a multitude. The word 'noise' (שׁאון shâ'ôn) is applied to a noise or roaring, as of waters Psalm 65:8; or of a crowd or multitude of people Isaiah 5:14; Isaiah 42:4; Isaiah 24:8; and of war Amos 2:2; Hosea 10:14. Here it seems probable that it refers to the confused clamor of war, the battle cry raised by soldiers attacking an army or a city; and the scene described is probably that when the Roman soldiers burst into the city, scaled the walls, and poured desolation through the capital.

A voice from the temple - That is, either the tumultous sound of war already having reached the temple; or the voice of Yahweh speaking from the temple, and commanding destruction on his foes. Vitringa supposes that it may mean the voice of Yahweh breaking forth from the temple, and commanding his foes to be slain. But to whichever it refers, it doubtless means that the sound of the tumult was not only around the city, but in it; not merely in the distant parts, but in the very midst, and even at the temple.

A voice of the Lord that rendereth recompence - Here we may observe:

1. That it is recompence taken on those who had cast out their brethren Isaiah 66:5.

2. It is vengeance taken within the city, and on the internal, not the external enemies.

3. It is vengeance taken in the midst of this tumult.

All this is a striking description of the scene when the city and temple were taken by the Roman armies. It was the vengeance taken on those who had cast out their brethren; it was the vengeance which was to precede the glorious triumph of truth and of the cause of the true religion.

6. God, from Jerusalem and His "temple," shall take vengeance on the enemy (Eze 43:1-8; Zec 12:2, 3; 14:3, 19-21). The abrupt language of this verse marks the suddenness with which God destroys the hostile Gentile host outside: as Isa 66:5 refers to the confounding of the unbelieving Jews.

voice of noise—that is, the Lord's loud-sounding voice (Ps 68:33; 29:3-9; 1Th 4:16).

A voice of noise from the city; the expression of a prophetical ecstasy, as much as, Methinks I already hear

a voice of noise, rather a sad and affrighting noise, than the noise of triumphers (as some think); yea, it comes not from the city only, but from the temple, wherein these formalists have so much gloried, and reposed so much confidence. There is a noise of soldiers slaying, and of the priests or poor people fled thither shrieking or crying out.

A voice of the Lord; not in thunder, which is sometimes called so, Psalm 29:3-5, &c., but

that rendereth recompence to his enemies. Thus the noise of soldiers, the roaring of guns, the sound of drums and trumpets, are the voice of the Lord. Thus the prophet seemeth to express the destruction of the Jews by the Roman armies, as if a thing at that time doing.

A voice of noise from the city,.... From the city of Jerusalem, as the Targum; so Kimchi, who says, that in the days of the Messiah shall go out of Jerusalem the voice of noise concerning Gog and Magog: this indeed respects the days of the Messiah, but such as are now past, and a voice of crying in the city of Jerusalem, at, the taking and destruction of it by the Romans; when were heard from it the noisy voices of the Roman soldiers, triumphing and rejoicing at it, and the shrieks of the inhabitants, running about from place to place for shelter; so when destruction and desolation are come upon any place, a voice or a cry is said to come from it; see Jeremiah 48:3,

a voice from the temple; either from heaven, as Aben Ezra; or rather from the temple at Jerusalem, of the priests there hindered from doing their service, and starving for want of sustenance; or of the people that fled thither for security, but forced from thence by the soldiers; and especially a voice of crying and lamentation was heard, when set on fire. Some illustrate this by what the priests heard in the temple a little before the destruction of it, a rustling and a noise like persons shifting and moving, and a voice in the holy of holies, saying, "let us go hence"; as also the words of Jesus the son of Ananus, a countryman, who went about uttering these words,

"a voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and against the temple, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, a voice against all the people:''

this he did before the war began, nor could he be persuaded to desist from it, but continued it afterwards; going on the walls of the city, saying,

"woe, woe to the city, and to the temple, and to the people, woe to myself also;''

and while he was speaking the last words, a stone, cast from a Roman engine, killed him, as Josephus (q) relates:

a voice of the Lord, that rendereth recompence to his enemies; for the Lord's voice was in all this, and his hand in the destruction of those people; it was according to his appointment, direction, and order, in righteous judgment for their sins, they being his implacable enemies, that would not have him to rule over them, Luke 19:14.

(q) De Bello Jud. I. 6. c. 5. sect. 3.

{g} A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the LORD that rendereth recompence to his enemies.

{g} The enemies will shortly hear a more terrible voice, even fire and slaughter, seeing they would not hear the gentle voice of the prophets, who called them to repentance.

6. Description of the sudden outbreak of Jehovah’s destructive might from His city and sanctuary (cf. Amos 1:2; Joel 3:16; ch. Isaiah 33:14). A noise of uproar from the city! A noise from the temple! The noise of Jehovah rendering recompence (see on Isaiah 59:18) to His enemies! (those referred to in Isaiah 66:5). That these words presuppose the existence of the Temple is certainly the most natural interpretation. The thought of the verse is resumed in Isaiah 66:15-16; the verses immediately following pass abruptly to a different subject.

Verse 6. - A voice of noise from the city... from the temple. The "city" and "temple" are suddenly in existence - they have sprung into being. The prophet sees Jerusalem rebuilt, restored, and hears sounds go forth from it - partly, perhaps, the sounds of ordinary city life; but amid these, there is a voice of the Lord, rendering recompense to his enemies. The Jewish state, restored by Zerubbabel, did, after a time, bring under subjection several of its ancient adversaries. Isaiah 66:6The city and temple, to which they desire to go, are nothing more, so far as they are concerned, than the places from which just judgment will issue. "Sound of tumult from the city! Sound from the Temple! Sound of Jehovah, who repays His enemies with punishment." All three קול, to the second of which שׁאון must be supplied in thought, are in the form of interjectional exclamations (as in Isaiah 52:8). In the third, however, we have omitted the note of admiration, because here the interjectional clause approximates very nearly to a substantive clause ("it is the sound of Jehovah"), as the person shouting announces here who is the originator and cause of the noise which was so enigmatical at first. The city and temple are indeed still lying in ruins as the prophet is speaking; but even in this state they both preserve the holiness conferred upon them. They are the places where Jehovah will take up His abode once more; and even now, at the point at which promise and fulfilment coincide, they are in the very process of rising again. A loud noise (like the tumult of war) proceeds from it. It is Jehovah, He who is enthroned in Zion and rules from thence (Isaiah 31:9), who makes Himself heard in this loud noise (compare Joel 3:16 with the derivative passage in Amos 1:2); it is He who awards punishment or reckons retribution to His foes. In other cases גּמוּל (השׁהיב) שׁלּם generally means to repay that which has been worked out (what has been deserved; e.g., Psalm 137:8, compare Isaiah 3:11); but in Isaiah 59:18 gemūl was the parallel word to chēmâh, and therefore, as in Isaiah 35:4, it did not apply to the works of men, but to the retribution of the judge, just as in Jeremiah 51:6, where it is used quite as absolutely. We have therefore rendered it "punishment;" "merited punishment" would express both sides of this double-sided word. By "His enemies," according to the context, we are to understand primarily the mass of the exiles, who were so estranged from God, and yet withal so full of demands and expectations.
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