Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.
Isa 63:1-19. Messiah Coming as the Avenger, in Answer to His People's Prayers.
Messiah, approaching Jerusalem after having avenged His people on His and their enemies, is represented under imagery taken from the destruction of "Edom," the type of the last and most bitter foes of God and His people (see Isa 34:5, &c.).
1. Who—the question of the prophet in prophetic vision.
dyed—scarlet with blood (Isa 63:2, 3; Re 19:13).
Bozrah—(See on Isa 34:6).
travelling—rather, stately; literally, "throwing back the head" [Gesenius].
speak in righteousness—answer of Messiah. I, who have in faithfulness given a promise of deliverance, am now about to fulfil it. Rather, speak of righteousness (Isa 45:19; 46:13); salvation being meant as the result of His "righteousness" [Maurer].
save—The same Messiah that destroys the unbeliever saves the believer.
Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?
2. The prophet asks why His garments are "dyed" and "red."
winefat—rather, the "wine-press," wherein the grapes were trodden with the feet; the juice would stain the garment of him who trod them (Re 14:19, 20; 19:15). The image was appropriate, as the country round Bozrah abounded in grapes. This final blow inflicted by Messiah and His armies (Re 19:13-15) shall decide His claim to the kingdoms usurped by Satan, and by the "beast," to whom Satan delegates his power. It will be a day of judgment to the hostile Gentiles, as His first coming was a day of judgment to the unbelieving Jews.
I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.
3. Reply of Messiah. For the image, see La 1:15. He "treads the wine-press" here not as a sufferer, but as an inflicter of vengeance.
will tread … shall be … will stain—rather preterites, "I trod … trampled … was sprinkled … I stained."
blood—literally, "spirited juice" of the grape, pressed out by treading [Gesenius].
For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.
4. is—rather, "was." This assigns the reason why He has thus destroyed the foe (Zep 3:8).
my redeemed—My people to be redeemed.
day … year—here, as in Isa 34:8; 61:2, the time of "vengeance" is described as a "day"; that of grace and of "recompense" to the "redeemed," as a "year."
And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me.
5. The same words as in Isa 59:16, except that there it is His "righteousness," here it is His "fury," which is said to have upheld Him.
And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.
6. Rather, preterites, "I trod down … made them drunk." The same image occurs Isa 51:17, 21-23; Ps 75:8; Jer 25:26, 27.
will bring down … strength to … earth—rather, "I spilled their life-blood (the same Hebrew words as in Isa 63:3) on the earth" [Lowth and Septuagint].
I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses.
7. Israel's penitential confession and prayer for restoration (Ps 102:17, 20), extending from Isa 63:7 to 64:12.
loving-kindnesses … praises … mercies … loving-kindnesses—The plurals and the repetitions imply that language is inadequate to express the full extent of God's goodness.
us—the dispersed Jews at the time just preceding their final restoration.
house of Israel—of all ages; God was good not merely to the Jews now dispersed, but to Israel in every age of its history.
For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour.
8. he—Jehovah "said," that is, thought, in choosing them as His covenant-people; so "said" (Ps 95:10). Not that God was ignorant that the Jews would not keep faith with Him; but God is here said, according to human modes of thought to say within Himself what He might naturally have expected, as the result of His goodness to the Jews; thus the enormity of their unnatural perversity is the more vividly set forth.
lie—prove false to Me (compare Ps 44:17).
so—in virtue of His having chosen them, He became their Saviour. So the "therefore" (Jer 31:33). His eternal choice is the ground of His actually saving men (Eph 1:3, 4).
In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.
9. he was afflicted—English Version reads the Hebrew as the Keri (Margin), does, "There was affliction to Him." But the Chetib (text) reads, "There was no affliction" (the change in Hebrew being only of one letter); that is, "In all their affliction there was no (utterly overwhelming) affliction" [Gesenius]; or, for "Hardly had an affliction befallen them, when the angel of His presence saved them" [Maurer]; or, as best suits the parallelism, "In all their straits there was no straitness in His goodness to them" [Houbigant], (Jud 10:16; Mic 2:7; 2Co 6:12).
angel of his presence—literally, "of His face," that is, who stands before Him continually; Messiah (Ex 14:19; 23:20, 21; Pr 8:30), language applicable to no creature (Ex 32:34; 33:2, 14; Nu 20:16; Mal 3:1).
bare them—(Isa 46:3, 4; 40:11; Ex 19:4; De 32:11, 12).
But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.
10. vexed—grieved (Ps 78:40; 95:10; Ac 7:51; Eph 4:30; Heb 3:10, 17).
he fought—rather, "He it was that fought," namely, the angel of His presence [Horsley], (La 2:5).
Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his holy Spirit within him?
11. remembered—Notwithstanding their perversity, He forgot not His covenant of old; therefore He did not wholly forsake them (Le 26:40-42, 44, 45; Ps 106:45, 46); the Jews make this their plea with God, that He should not now forsake them.
saying—God is represented, in human language, mentally speaking of Himself and His former acts of love to Israel, as His ground for pitying them notwithstanding their rebellion.
shepherd—Moses; or if the Hebrew be read plural, "shepherds," Moses, Aaron, and the other leaders (so Ps 77:20).
put … Spirit … within him—Hebrew, "in the inward parts of him," that is, Moses; or it refers to the flock, "in the midst of his people" (Nu 11:17, 25; Ne 9:20; Hag 2:5).
That led them by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name?
12. The right hand of Moses was but the instrument; the arm of God was the real mover (Ex 15:6; 14:21).
dividing the water—(Ne 9:11; Ps 78:13).
That led them through the deep, as an horse in the wilderness, that they should not stumble?
13. deep—literally, "the tossing and roaring sea."
wilderness—rather, the "open plain" [Horsley], wherein there is no obstacle to cause a horse in its course the danger of stumbling.
As a beast goeth down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD caused him to rest: so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name.
14. As a beast … rest—image from a herd led "down" from the hills to a fertile and well-watered "valley" (Ps 23:2); so God's Spirit "caused Israel to rest" in the promised land after their weary wanderings.
to make … name—(So Isa 63:12; 2Sa 7:23).
Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness and of thy glory: where is thy zeal and thy strength, the sounding of thy bowels and of thy mercies toward me? are they restrained?
15. Here begins a fervent appeal to God to pity Israel now on the ground of His former benefits.
habitation of … holiness—(Isa 57:15; De 26:15; 2Ch 30:27; Ps 33:14; 80:14).
zeal … strength—evinced formerly for Thy people.
sounding of … bowels—Thine emotions of compassion (Isa 16:11; Jer 31:20; 48:36; Ho 11:8).
Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting.
16. thou … father—of Israel, by right not merely of creation, but also of electing adoption (Isa 64:8; De 32:6; 1Ch 29:10).
though Abraham … Israel—It had been the besetting temptation of the Jews to rest on the mere privilege of their descent from faithful Abraham and Jacob (Mt 3:9; Joh 8:39; 4:12); now at last they renounce this, to trust in God alone as their Father, notwithstanding all appearances to the contrary. Even though Abraham, our earthly father, on whom we have prided ourselves, disown us, Thou wilt not (Isa 49:15; Ps 27:10). Isaac is not mentioned, because not all his posterity was admitted to the covenant, whereas all Jacob's was; Abraham is specified because he was the first father of the Jewish race.
everlasting—an argument why He should help them, namely, because of His everlasting immutability.
O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants' sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.
17. made us to err—that is, "suffer" us to err and to be hardened in our heart. They do not mean to deny their own blameworthiness, but confess that through their own fault God gave them over to a reprobate mind (Isa 6:9, 10; Ps 119:10; Ro 1:28).
Return—(Nu 10:36; Ps 90:13).
The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary.
18. people of … holiness—Israel dedicated as holy unto God (Isa 62:12; De 7:6).
possessed—namely, the Holy Land, or Thy "sanctuary," taken from the following clause, which is parallel to this (compare Isa 64:10, 11; Ps 74:6-8).
thy—an argument why God should help them; their cause is His cause.
We are thine: thou never barest rule over them; they were not called by thy name.
19. thine … never—rather, "We are Thine from of old; Thou barest not rule over them" [Barnes]. Lowth translates, "We for long have been as those over whom Thou hast not ruled, who are not called by Thy name"; "for long" thus stands in contrast to "but a little while" (Isa 63:18). But the analogy of Isa 63:18 makes it likely that the first clause in this verse refers to the Jews, and the second to their foes, as English Version and Barnes translate it. The Jews' foes are aliens who have unjustly intruded into the Lord's heritage.