Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.
Isa 35:1-10. Continuation of the Prophecy in the Thirty-fourth Chapter.
See on Isa 34:1, introduction there.
1. solitary place—literally, "a dry place," without springs of water. A moral wilderness is meant.
for them—namely, on account of the punishment inflicted according to the preceding prophecy on the enemy; probably the blessings set forth in this chapter are included in the causes for joy (Isa 55:12).
rose—rather, "the meadow-saffron," an autumnal flower with bulbous roots; so Syriac translation.
It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.
2. glory of Lebanon—its ornament, namely, its cedars (Isa 10:34).
excellency of Carmel—namely, its beauty.
Sharon—famed for its fertility.
see … glory of the Lord … excellency—(Isa 40:5, 9). While the wilderness which had neither "glory" nor "excellency" shall have both "given to it," the Lord shall have all the "glory" and "excellency" ascribed to Him, not to the transformed wilderness (Mt 5:16).
Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.
3. Strengthen … hands … confirm … knees—The Hebrew for "strengthen" refers to the strength residing in the hand for grasping and holding a thing manfully; "confirm," to the firmness with which one keeps his ground, so as not to be dislodged by any other [Maurer]. Encourage the Jews, now desponding, by the assurance of the blessings promised.
Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.
4. fearful—"hasty," Margin; that is, with a heart fluttered with agitation.
with—the Hebrew is more forcible than the English Version: "God will come, vengeance! even God, a recompense!" The sense is the same.
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
5, 6. Language figuratively, descriptive of the joy felt at the deliverance from Assyria and Babylon; literally, true of the antitypical times of Messiah and His miracles (see Margin references, Mt 11:5; Lu 7:2; 2Jo 5, 8; Ac 3:2).
Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
6. leap—literally, "fulfilled" (Ac 3:8; 14:10).
in … wilderness … waters—(Isa 41:18).
And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
7. parched ground—rather, "the mirage (Hebrew, Sharab, 'the sun's heat') shall become a (real) lake." The sun's rays refracted on the glowing sands at midday give the appearance of a lake of water and often deceive the thirsty traveller (compare Jer 2:13; Isa 41:18).
grass—rather, "a dwelling or receptacle (answering to the previous habitation) for reeds," &c. (which only grow where there is water, Job 8:11). Where once there was no water, water shall abound.
And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.
8. highway—such a causeway (raised way, from a Hebrew root, "to cast up") as was used for the march of armies; valleys being filled up, hills and other obstructions removed (Isa 62:10; compare Isa 40:3, 4).
way of holiness—Hebraism for "the holy way." Horsley translates, "the way of the Holy One;" but the words that follow, and Isa 35:10, show it is the way leading the redeemed back to Jerusalem, both the literal and the heavenly (Isa 52:1; Joe 3:17; Re 21:27); still Christ at His coming again shall be the Leader on the way, for which reason it is called, "The way of the Lord" (Isa 40:3; Mal 3:1).
it shall be for those: the wayfaring men—rather, "He (the Holy One) shall be with them, walking in the way" [Horsley].
though fools—rather, "And (even) fools," that is, the simple shall not go astray, namely, because "He shall be with them" (Mt 11:25; 1Co 1:26-28).
No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:
9. No lion—such as might be feared on the way through the wilderness which abounded in wild beasts, back to Judea. Every danger shall be warded off the returning people (Isa 11:6-9; Eze 34:25; Ho 2:18). Compare spiritually, Pr 3:17.
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
10. Language: literally, applying to the return from Babylon; figuratively and more fully to the completed redemption of both literal and spiritual Israel.
joy upon … heads—(Ps 126:2). Joy manifested in their countenances. Some fancy an allusion to the custom of pouring oil "upon the head," or wearing chaplets in times of public festivity (Ec 9:8).