Isaiah 7:24
With arrows and with bows shall men come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) With arrows and with bows shall men come thither . . .—The words admit of two or three distinct interpretations: (1) the invaders shall march through the desolate vineyards shooting down any whom they found, or (2) the people shall carry bows as a protection against the invaders, or (3) the thickets of thorns and briars shall become coverts for the wolves and jackals, the hyena and the bear, and men shall need bows and arrows for their protection against the beasts of prey. Of these (3) has most in its favour.

7:17-25 Let those who will not believe the promises of God, expect to hear the alarms of his threatenings; for who can resist or escape his judgments? The Lord shall sweep all away; and whomsoever he employs in any service for him, he will pay. All speaks a sad change of the face of that pleasant land. But what melancholy change is there, which sin will not make with a people? Agriculture would cease. Sorrows of every kind will come upon all who neglect the great salvation. If we remain unfruitful under the means of grace, the Lord will say, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth for ever.With arrows and with bows ... - This is a continuation of the description of its desolation. So entirely would it be abandoned, so utterly desolate would it be, that it would become a vast hunting-ground. It would be covered with shrubs and trees that would afford a convenient covert for wild beasts; and would yield to its few inhabitants a subsistence, not by cultivation, but by the bow and the arrow. There can scarcely be a more striking description of utter desolation. But, perhaps, the long captivity of seventy years in Babylon literally fulfilled it. Judea was a land that, at all times, was subject to depredations from wild beasts. On the banks of the Jordan - in the marshes, and amid the reeds that sprung up in the lower bank or border of the river - the lion found a home, and the tiger a resting place; compare Jeremiah 49:19. When the land was for a little time vacated and forsaken, it would be, therefore, soon filled with wild beasts; and during the desolations of the seventy years' captivity, there can be no doubt that this was literally fulfilled. 24. It shall become a vast hunting ground, abounding in wild beasts (compare Jer 49:19). With arrows and with bows; either to hunt, or to defend themselves from wild beasts, which commonly abide in such desolate and overgrown grounds.

With arrows and with bows shall men come thither,.... For fear of wild beasts, serpents, and scorpions, as Jarchi; or in order to hunt them, as others; or because of thieves and robbers, as Aben Ezra:

because all the land shall become briers and thorns; among which such creatures, and such sort of men, would hide themselves.

With arrows and with {y} bows shall men come there; because all the land shall become briers and thorns.

(y) As they who go to seek wild beasts among the bushes.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
24. With arrows and with bows] the weapons of the hunter (Genesis 27:3).

Verse 24. - With arrows and with bows. Only the hunter will go there, armed with his weapons of chase, to kill the wild animals that will haunt the thickets. Isaiah 7:24The prophet repeats this three times in Isaiah 7:23-25 : "And it will come to pass in that day, every place, where a thousand vines stood at a thousand silverlings, will have become thorns and thistles. With arrows and with bows will men go, for the whole land will have become thorns and thistles. And all the hills that were accustomed to be hoed with the hoe, thou wilt not go to them for fear of thorns and thistles; and it has become a gathering-place for oxen, and a treading-place for sheep." The "thousand silverlings" ('eleph ceseph, i.e., a thousand shekels of silver) recall to mind Sol 8:11, though there it is the value of the yearly produce, whereas here the thousand shekels are the value of a thousand vines, the sign of a peculiarly valuable piece of a vineyard. At the present time they reckon the worth of a vineyard in Lebanon and Syria according to the value of the separate vines, and generally take the vines at one piastre (from 2nd to 3rd) each; just as in Germany a Johannisberg vine is reckoned at a ducat. Every piece of ground, where such valuable vines were standing, would have fallen a prey to the briers. People would go there with bow and arrow, because the whole land had become thorns and thistles (see at Isaiah 5:12), and therefore wild animals had made their homes there. And thou (the prophet addresses the countryman thus) comest not to all the hills, which were formerly cultivated in the most careful manner; thou comest not thither to make them arable again, because thorns and thistles deter thee from reclaiming such a fallow. They would therefore give the oxen freedom to rove where they would, and let sheep and goats tread down whatever grew there. The description is intentionally thoroughly tautological and pleonastic, heavy and slow in movement. The writer's intention is to produce the impression of a waste heath, or tedious monotony. Hence the repetitions of hâyâh and yihyeh. Observe how great the variations are in the use of the future and perfect, and how the meaning is always determined by the context. In Isaiah 7:21, Isaiah 7:22, the futures have a really future sense; in Isaiah 7:23 the first and third yihyeh signify "will have become" (factus erit omnis locus), and the second "was" (erat); in Isaiah 7:24 יבוא means "will come" (veniet), and tihyeh "will have become" (facta erit terra); in Isaiah 7:25 we must render yē‛âdērūn, sarciebantur (they used to be hoed). And in Isaiah 7:21, Isaiah 7:22, and Isaiah 7:23, hâyâh is equivalent to fiet (it will become); whilst in Isaiah 7:25 it means factum est (it has become). Looked at from a western point of view, therefore, the future tense is sometimes a simple future, sometimes a future perfect, and sometimes an imperfect or synchronistic preterite; and the perfect sometimes a prophetic preterite, sometimes an actual preterite, but the sphere of an ideal past, or what is the same thing, of a predicted future.

This ends Isaiah's address to king Ahaz. He does not expressly say when Immanuel is to be born, but only what will take place before he has reached the riper age of boyhood - namely, first, the devastation of Israel and Syria, and then the devastation of Judah itself, by the Assyrians. From the fact that the prophet says no more than this, we may see that his spirit and his tongue were under the direction of the Spirit of God, who does not descend within the historical and temporal range of vision, without at the same time remaining exalted above it. On the other hand, however, we may see from what he says, that the prophecy has its human side as well. When Isaiah speaks of Immanuel as eating thickened milk and honey, like all who survived the Assyrian troubles in the Holy Land; he evidently looks upon and thinks of the childhood of Immanuel as connected with the time of the Assyrian calamities. And it was in such a perspective combination of events lying far apart, that the complex character of prophecy consisted. The reason for this complex character was a double one, viz., the human limits associated with the prophet's telescopic view of distant times, and the pedagogical wisdom of God, in accordance with which He entered into these limits instead of removing them. If, therefore, we adhere to the letter of prophecy, we may easily throw doubt upon its veracity; but if we look at the substance of the prophecy, we soon find that the complex character by no means invalidates its truth. For the things which the prophet saw in combination were essentially connected, even though chronologically separated. When, for example, in the case before us (chapters 7-12), Isaiah saw Asshur only, standing out as the imperial kingdom; this was so far true, that the four imperial kingdoms from the Babylonian to the Roman were really nothing more than the full development of the commencement made in Assyria. And when he spoke of the son of the virgin (chapter 7) as growing up in the midst of the Assyrian oppressions; this also was so far true, that Jesus was really born at a time when the Holy Land, deprived of its previous abundance, was under the dominion of the imperial power, and in a condition whose primary cause was to be traced to the unbelief of Ahaz. Moreover, He who became flesh in the fulness of time, did really lead an ideal life in the Old Testament history. He was in the midst of it in a pre-existent presence, moving on towards the covenant goal. The fact that the house and nation of David did not perish in the Assyrian calamities, was actually to be attributed, as chapter 8 presupposes, to His real though not His bodily presence. In this way the apparent discrepancy between the prophecy and the history of the fulfilment may be solved. We do not require the solution proposed by Vitringa, and recently appropriate by Haneberg - namely, that the prophet takes the stages of the Messiah's life out of the distant future, to make them the measure of events about to take place in the immediate future; nor that of Bengel, Schegg, Schmieder, and others - namely, that the sign consisted in an event belonging to the immediate future, which pointed typically to the birth of the true Immanuel; nor that of Hofmann, who regards the words of the prophet as an emblematical prediction of the rise of a new Israel, which would come to the possession of spiritual intelligence in the midst of troublous times, occasioned by the want of intelligence in the Israel of his own time. The prophecy, as will be more fully confirmed as we proceed, is directly Messianic; it is a divine prophecy within human limits.

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