Isaiah 9:21
Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh: and they together shall be against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
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9:8-21 Those are ripening apace for ruin, whose hearts are unhumbled under humbling providences. For that which God designs, in smiting us, is, to turn us to himself; and if this point be not gained by lesser judgments, greater may be expected. The leaders of the people misled them. We have reason to be afraid of those that speak well of us, when we do ill. Wickedness was universal, all were infected with it. They shall be in trouble, and see no way out; and when men's ways displease the Lord, he makes even their friends to be at war with them. God would take away those they thought to have help from. Their rulers were the head. Their false prophets were the tail and the rush, the most despicable. In these civil contests, men preyed on near relations who were as their own flesh. The people turn not to Him who smites them, therefore he continues to smite: for when God judges, he will overcome; and the proudest, stoutest sinner shall either bend or break.Manasseh, Ephraim - This verse is a continuation of the statement in regard to the extent and fearfulness of the faction. Those who were hitherto most tenderly and intimately allied to each other, would now be engaged in furious strife. Manasseh and Ephraim were the two sons of Joseph Genesis 46:20, and their names are used as expressive of tender union and friendship; compare Genesis 48:20. The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh were near each other, and they always were allied together. The expression here denotes that they who had hitherto been joined in tender alliance, would be rent into contending factions, thirsting for each other's blood.

And they together - They would be united in opposing Judah while they were devouring each other, as it is not an uncommon thing for those who are opposed to each other to unite in hostility to a common foe; compare Luke 23:12. This is an image that heightens the description of the anarchy - introducing implacable animosity against another tribe, while they were contending among themselves. That such anarchies and factions existed, is apparent from all the history of the kingdom of Israel; compare 2 Kings 15:10 ff; 2 Kings 15:30. In this last passage, the death of Pekah is describer as having occurred in a conspiracy formed by Hoshea.

For all this ... - see Isaiah 9:12, note Isaiah 5:25. This closes the third strophe or part of the prophecy under consideration. The fourth and last strophe occurs in Isaiah 10:1-4.

21. Manasseh, Ephraim—the two sons of Joseph. So closely united as to form between them but one tribe; but now about to be rent into factions, thirsting for each other's blood. Disunited in all things else, but united "together against their brother Judah" (2Ki 15:10, 30). Manasseh, Ephraim; though more near and dear to one another than any other tribe, being both sons of Joseph.

They together shall be against Judah; which might be accomplished either before Shalmaneser took Samaria, or afterwards. For though the Israelites were miserably destroyed at that time, yet they were not utterly rooted out; of which See Poole "Isaiah 7:8". Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh,.... That is, "Manasseh" shall eat or devour "Ephraim"; and "Ephraim" shall eat or devour "Manasseh"; as the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions render it; which is to be understood of their quarrels, contentions, and wars among themselves, whereby they bit, devoured, and consumed each other, though they were brethren; which explains and confirms what is before said, of no man sparing his brother, and everyone eating the flesh of his own arm. The Targum paraphrases the words thus,

"they of the house of "Manasseh", with those of the house of "Ephraim", and they of the house of "Ephraim", with those of the house of "Manasseh", shall be joined together as one, to come against them of the house of Judah;''

and so Jarchi interprets them,

""Manasseh" shall be joined with "Ephraim", and "Ephraim" shall be joined with "Manasseh", and they together shall be joined against Judah;''

so it follows,

and they together shall be against Judah; as the ten tribes did sometimes make war against the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, see 2 Chronicles 28:6,

for all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still; more and sorer judgments were to come upon this people for their sins. See Gill on Isaiah 9:12.

Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh: and they together shall be against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
21. Manasseh, Ephraim … Manasseh] Ancient tribal jealousies would naturally be revived in a period of anarchy and civil war. Something of this kind seems to be implied in the account of the accession of the usurper Pekah, who murdered Pekahiah, at the head of a band of fifty Gileadites (2 Kings 15:25). The tribal names, however, need not be taken quite literally; indeed it is hardly probable that the tribes had preserved their separate identity to so late a time.Verse 21. - Manasseh, Ephraim. These two are mentioned as the two principal tribes of the northern kingdom (comp. 1 Chronicles 9:3; 2 Chronicles 30:1, 10, 18; 2 Chronicles 31:1; 2 Chronicles 34:9). It is not to be supposed that civil discord was confined to them. Probably there was a general disorganization. Still, all the tribes would at any time willingly unite "together against Judah" (see 2 Kings 15:37; 2 Chronicles 28:6-8).

Strophe 2. "But the people turneth not unto Him that smiteth it, and they seek not Jehovah of hosts. Therefore Jehovah rooteth out of Israel head and tail, palm-branch and rush, in one day. Elders and highly distinguished men, this is the head; and prophets, lying teachers, this is the tail. The leaders of this people have become leaders astray, and their followers swallowed up. Therefore the Lord will not rejoice in their young men, and will have no compassion on their orphans and widows: for all together are profligate and evil-doers, and every mouth speaketh blasphemy. With all this His anger is not turned away, and His hand is stretched out still." As the first stage of the judgments has been followed by no true conversion to Jehovah the almighty judge, there comes a second. עד שׁוּב (to turn unto) denotes a thorough conversion, not stopping half-way. "The smiter of it" (hammaccēhu), or "he who smiteth it," it Jehovah (compare, on the other hand, Isaiah 10:20, where Asshur is intended). The article and suffix are used together, as in Isaiah 24:2; Proverbs 16:4 (vid., Ges. 110, 2; Caspari, Arab. Gram. 472). But there was coming now a great day of punishment (in the view of the prophet, it was already past), such as Israel experienced more than once in the Assyrian oppressions, and Judah in the Chaldean, when head and tail, or, according to another proverbial expression, palm-branch and rush, would be rooted out. We might suppose that the persons referred to were the high and low; but Isaiah 9:15 makes a different application of the first double figure, by giving it a different turn from its popular sense (compare the Arabic er-ru 'ūs w-aledhnâb equals lofty and low, in Dietrich, Abhandlung, p. 209). The opinion which has very widely prevailed since the time of Koppe, that this v. is a gloss, is no doubt a very natural one (see Hitzig, Begriff der Kritik; Ewald, Propheten, i. 57). But Isaiah's custom of supplying his own gloss is opposed to such a view; also Isaiah's composition in Isaiah 3:3 and Isaiah 30:20, and the relation in which this v. stands to Isaiah 9:16; and lastly, the singular character of the gloss itself, which is one of the strongest proofs that it contains the prophet's exposition of his own words. The chiefs of the nation were the head of the national body; and behind, like a wagging dog's tail, sat the false prophets with their flatteries of the people, loving, as Persius says, blando caudam jactare popello. The prophet drops the figure of Cippâh, the palm-branch which forms the crown of the palm, and which derives its name from the fact that it resembles the palm of the hand (instar palmae manus), and agmōn, the rush which grows in the marsh.

(Note: The noun agam is used in the Old Testament as well as in the Talmud to signify both a marshy place (see Baba mesi'a 36b, and more especially Aboda zara 38a, where giloi agmah signifies the laying bare of the marshy soil by the burning up of the reeds), and also the marsh grass (Sabbath 11a, "if all the agmim were kalams, i.e., writing reeds, or pens;" and Kiddsin 62b, where agam signifies a talk of marsh-grass or reed, a rush or bulrush, and is explained, with a reference to Isaiah 58:5, as signifying a tender, weak stalk). The noun agmon, on the other hand, signifies only the stalk of the marsh-grass, or the marsh-grass itself; and in this sense it is not found in the Talmud (see Comm on Job, at Isaiah 41:10-13). The verbal meaning upon which these names are founded is evident from the Arabic mâ āgim (magūm), "bad water" (see at Isaiah 19:10). There is no connection between this and maugil, literally a depression of the soil, in which water lodges for a long time, and which is only dried up in summer weather.)

The allusion here is to the rulers of the nation and the dregs of the people. The basest extremity were the demagogues in the shape of prophets. For it had come to this, as Isaiah 9:16 affirms, that those who promised to lead by a straight road led astray, and those who suffered themselves to be led by them were as good as already swallowed up by hell (cf., Isaiah 5:14; Isaiah 3:12). Therefore the Sovereign Ruler would not rejoice over the young men of this nation; that is to say, He would suffer them to be smitten by their enemies, without going with them to battle, and would refuse His customary compassion even towards widows and orphans, for they were all thoroughly corrupt on every side. The alienation, obliquity, and dishonesty of their heart, are indicated by the word Chânēph (from Chânaph, which has in itself the indifferent radical idea of inclination; so that in Arabic, Chanı̄f, as a synonym of ‛âdil,

(Note: This is the way in which it should be written in Comm on Job, at Isaiah 13:16; ‛adala has also the indifferent meaning of return or decision.)

has the very opposite meaning of decision in favour of what is right); the badness of their actions by מרע (in half pause for מרע

(Note: Nevertheless this reading is also met with, and according to Masora finalis, p. 52, Colossians 8, this is the correct reading (as in Proverbs 17:4, where it is doubtful whether the meaning is a friend or a malevolent person). The question is not an unimportant one, as we may see from Olshausen, 258, p. 581.)

equals מרע, maleficus); the vicious infatuation of their words by nebâlâh. This they are, and this they continue; and consequently the wrathful hand of God is stretched out over them for the infliction of fresh strokes.

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