Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:The plan which, according to Isaiah 29:15, was already projected and prepared in the deepest secrecy, is now much further advanced. The negotiations by means of ambassadors have already been commenced; but the prophet condemns what he can no longer prevent. "Woe to the stubborn children, saith Jehovah, to drive plans, and not by my impulse, and to plait alliance, and not according to my Spirit, to heap sin upon sin: that go away to travel down to Egypt, without having asked my mouth, to fly to Pharaoh's shelter, and to conceal themselves under the shadow of Egypt. And Pharaoh's shelter becomes a shame to them, and the concealment under the shadow of Egypt a disgrace. For Judah's princes have appeared in Zoan, and his ambassadors arrive in Hanes. They will all have to be ashamed of a people useless to them, that brings no help and no use, but shame, and also reproach." Sōrerı̄m is followed by infinitives with Lamed (cf., Isaiah 5:22; Isaiah 3:8): who are bent upon it in their obstinacy. Massēkhâh designates the alliance as a plait (massēkheth). According to Cappellus and others, it designates it as formed with a libation (σπονδη, from σπένδεσθαι); but the former is certainly the more correct view, inasmuch as massēkhâh (from nâsakh, fundere) signifies a cast, and hence it is more natural here to take nâsakh as equivalent to sâkhakh, plectere (Jerome: ordiremini telam). The context leaves no doubt as to the meaning of the adverbial expressions ולא־מנּי and ולא־רוּחי, viz., without its having proceeded from me, and without my Spirit being there. "Sin upon sin:" inasmuch as they carry out further and further to perfect realization the thought which was already a sinful one in itself. The prophet now follows for himself the ambassadors, who are already on the road to the country of the Nile valley. He sees them arrive in Zoan, and watches them as they proceed thence into Hanes. He foresees and foretells what a disgraceful opening of their eyes will attend the reward of this untheocratical beginning. On lâ‛ōz b', see at Isaiah 10:31 : ‛ōz is the infinitive constr. of ‛ūz; mâ‛ōz, on the contrary, is a derivative of ‛âzaz, to be strong. The suffixes of שׂריו (his princes) and מלאכיו (his ambassadors) are supposed by Hitzig, Ewald, and Knobel, who take a different view of what is said, to refer to the princes and ambassadors of Pharaoh. But this is by no means warranted on the ground that the prophet cannot so immediately transfer to Zoan and Hanes the ambassadors of Judah, who were still on their journey according to Isaiah 30:2. The prophet's vision overleaps the existing stage of the desire for this alliance; he sees the great men of his nation already suing for the favour of Egypt, first of all in Zoan, and then still further in Hanes, and at once foretells the shameful termination of this self-desecration of the people of Jehovah. The lxx give for יגיעוּ חנּס, μάτην κοπιάσουσιν, i.e., ייגעוּ סהנּם, and Knobel approves this reading; but it is a misunderstanding, which only happens to have fallen out a little better this time than the rendering ὡς Δαυίδ given for כּדּוּר in Isaiah 29:3. If chinnâm had been the original reading, it would hardly have entered any one's mind to change it into chânēs. The latter was the name of a city on an island of the Nile in Central Egypt, the later Heracleopolis (Eg. Hnēs; Ehnēs), the Anysis of Herodotus (ii. 137). On Zoan, see at Isaiah 19:11. At that time the Tanitic dynasty was reigning, the dynasty preceding the Ethiopian. Tanis and Anysis were the two capitals. הבאישׁ ( equals היבשׁ equals ( ה, a metaplastic hiphil of יבשׁ equals בּושׁ, a different word from יבשׁ) is incorrectly pointed for הבאישׁ, like ריאשׁנה (keri) for ראישׁנה in Joshua 21:10. הבאישׁ signifies elsewhere, "to make stinking" (to calumniate, Proverbs 13:5), or "to come into ill odour" (1 Samuel 27:12); here, however, it means to be put to shame (בּאשׁ equals בּושׁ).
That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!
Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.
For his princes were at Zoan, and his ambassadors came to Hanes.
They were all ashamed of a people that could not profit them, nor be an help nor profit, but a shame, and also a reproach.
The burden of the beasts of the south: into the land of trouble and anguish, from whence come the young and old lion, the viper and fiery flying serpent, they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and their treasures upon the bunches of camels, to a people that shall not profit them.The prophet's address is hardly commenced, however, when a heading is introduced of the very same kind as we have already met with several times in the cycle of prophecies against the heathen nations. Gesenius, Hitzig, Umbreit, and Knobel, rid themselves of it by pronouncing it a gloss founded upon a misunderstanding. But nothing is more genuine in the whole book of Isaiah than the words massâ' bahămōth negebh . The heading is emblematical, like the four headings in chapters 21, 22. And the massâ' embraces Isaiah 30:6, Isaiah 30:7. Then follows the command to write it on a table by itself. The heading is an integral part of the smaller whole. Isaiah breaks off his address to communicate an oracle relating to the Egyptian treaty, which Jehovah has specially commanded him to hand down to posterity. The same interruption would take place if we expunged the heading; for in any case it was Isaiah 30:6, Isaiah 30:7 that he was to write upon a table. This is not an address to the people, but the preliminary text, the application of which is determined afterwards. The prophet communicates in the form of a citation what has been revealed to him by God, and then states what God has commanded him to do with it. We therefore enclose Isaiah 30:6, Isaiah 30:7 in inverted commas as a quotation, and render the short passage, which is written in the tone of chapter 21, as follows: "Oracle concerning the water-oxen of the south: Through a land of distress and confinement, whence the lioness and lion, adders and flying dragons; they carry their possessions on the shoulders of asses' foals, and their treasures on the humps of camels, to a nation that profits nothing. And Egypt, worthlessly and hollowly will they help; therefore I call this Egypt, Great-mouth that sits still." The "water-ox of the south" is the Nile-horse; and this is the emblem of Egypt, the land of the south (in Daniel and Zechariah Babylonia is "the land of the north"). Bahămōth is the construct of behēmōth (Job 40), which is a Hebraized from of an Egyptian word, p-ehe-mau (though the word itself has not yet been met with), i.e., the ox of the water, or possibly p-ehe-mau-t (with the feminine article at the close, though in hesmut, another name for a female animal, mut equals t. mau signifies "the mother:" see at Job 40:15). The animal referred to is the hippopotamus, which is called bomarino in Italian, Arab. the Nile-horse or water-pig. The emblem of Egypt in other passages of the Old Testament is tannin, the water-snake, or leviathan, the crocodile. In Psalm 78:31 this is called chayyath qâneh, "the beast of the reed," though Hengstenberg supposes that the Nile-horse is intended there. This cannot be maintained, however; but in the passage before us this emblem is chosen, just because the fat, swine-like, fleshy colossus, whose belly nearly touches the ground as it walks, is a fitting image of Egypt, a land so boastful and so eager to make itself thick and broad, and yet so slow to exert itself in the interest of others, and so unwilling to move from the spot. This is also implied in the name rahabh-hēm-shâb. Rahab is a name applied to Egypt in other passages also (Isaiah 51:9; Psalm 87:4; Psalm 89:11), and that in the senses attested by the lxx at Job 26:12 (cf., Isaiah 9:13), viz., κῆτος, a sea-monster, monstrum marinum. Here the name has the meaning common in other passages, viz., violence, domineering pride, boasting (ἀλαζονεία, as one translator renders it). הם is a term of comparison, as in Genesis 14:2-3, etc.; the plural refers to the people called rahabh. Hence the meaning is either, "The bragging people, they are sit-still;" or, "Boast-house, they are idlers." To this deceitful land the ambassadors of Judah were going with rich resources (chăyâlı̄m, opes) on the shoulder of asses' foals, and on the hump (dabbesheth, from dâbhash, according to Luzzatto related to gâbhash, to be hilly) of camels, without shrinking from the difficulties and dangers of the road through the desert, where lions and snakes spring out now here and now there (מהם, neuter, as in Zephaniah 2:7, comp. Isaiah 38:16; see also Deuteronomy 8:15; Numbers 21:6). Through this very desert, through which God had led their fathers when He redeemed them out of the bondage of Egypt, they were now marching to purchase the friendship of Egypt, though really, whatever might be the pretext which they offered, it was only to deceive themselves; for the vainglorious land would never keep the promises that it made.
For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still.
Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever:So runs the divine oracle to which the following command refers. "Now go, write it on a table with them, and note it in a book, and let it stand there fore future days, for ever, to eternity." The suffixes of kothbâh (write it) and chuqqâh (note it) refer in a neuter sense to Isaiah 30:6, Isaiah 30:7; and the expression "go" is simply a general summons to proceed to the matter (cf., Isaiah 22:15). Sēpher could be used interchangeably with lūăch, because a single leaf, the contents of which were concluded, was called sēpher (Exodus 17:14). Isaiah was to write the oracle upon a table, a separate leaf of durable material; and that "with them," i.e., so that his countrymen might have it before their eyes (compare Isaiah 8:1; Habakkuk 2:2). It was to be a memorial for posterity. The reading לעד (Sept., Targ., Syr.) for לעד is appropriate, though quite unnecessary. The three indications of time form a climax: for futurity, for the most remote future, for the future without end.
That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD:It was necessary that the worthlessness of the help of Egypt should be placed in this way before the eyes of the people. "For it is a refractory people, lying children, children who do not like to hear the instruction of Jehovah, who say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things! Speak flatteries to us! Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, remove from our face the Holy One of Israel." On the expression ‛am merı̄ (a people of stubbornness), see at Isaiah 3:8. The vowel-pointing of כחשׁהים follows the same rule as that of החכם. The prophet traces back their words to an unvarnished expression of their true meaning, just as he does in Isaiah 28:15. They forbid the prophets of Jehovah to prophesy, more especially nekhōchōth, straight or true things (things not agreeable to their own wishes), but would rather hear chălâqōth, i.e., smooth, insinuating, and flattering things, and even mahăthallōth (from hâthal, Talm. tal, ludere), i.e., illusions or deceits. Their desire was to be entertained and lauded, not repelled and instructed. The prophets are to adopt another course (מנּי only occurs here, and that twice, instead of the more usual מנּי equals מן, after the form אלי, עלי), and not trouble them any more with the Holy One of Israel, whom they (at least Isaiah, who is most fond of calling Jehovah by this name) have always in their mouths.
Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.
Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon:Thus do they fall out with Jehovah and the bearers of His word. "Therefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye dislike this word, and put your trust in force and shufflings, and rely upon this; therefore will this iniquity be to you like a falling breach, bent forwards in a high-towering wall, which falls to ruin suddenly, very suddenly. And He smites it to pieces, as a potter's vessel falls to pieces, when they smash it without sparing, and of which, when it lies smashed to pieces there, you cannot find a sherd to fetch fire with from the hearth, or to take water with out of a cistern." The "word" towards which they cherished me'ōs (read mo'oskhem), was the word of Jehovah through His prophet, which was directed against their untheocratic policy of reckoning upon Egypt. Nâlōz, bent out or twisted, is the term used to denote this very policy, which was ever resorting to bypaths and secret ways; whilst ‛ōsheq denotes the squeezing out of the money required to carry on the war of freedom, and to purchase the help of Egypt (compare 2 Kings 15:20). The guilt of Judah is compared to the broken and overhanging part of a high wall (nibh‛eh, bent forwards; compare (בּעבּע, a term applied to a diseased swelling). Just as such a broken piece brings down the whole of the injured wall along with it, so would the sinful conduct of Judah immediately ruin the whole of its existing constitution. Israel, which would not recognise itself as the image of Jehovah, even when there was yet time (Isaiah 29:16), would be like a vessel smashed into the smallest fragments. It is the captivity which is here figuratively threatened by the prophet; for the smashing had regard to Israel as a state. The subject to וּשׁברהּ in Isaiah 30:14 is Jehovah, who would make use of the hostile power of man to destroy the wall, and break up the kingdom of Judah into such a diaspora of broken sherds. The reading is not ושׁהברהּ (lxx, Targum), but וּשׁברהּ, et franget eam. Kâthōth is an infinitive statement of the mode; the participle kâthūth, which is adopted by the Targum, Kimchi, Norzi, and others, is less suitable. It was necessary to proceed with יחמל לא (without his sparing), simply because the infinitive absolute cannot be connected with לא (Ewald, 350, a). לחשּׂוף (to be written thus with dagesh both here and Haggai 2:16) passes from the primary meaning nudare to that of scooping up, as ערה does to that of pouring out.
Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant.
And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters' vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit.
For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.Into such small sherds, a heap thus scattered hither and thither, would the kingdom of Judah be broken up, in consequence of its ungodly thirst for self-liberation. "For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, Through turning and rest ye would be helped; your strength would show itself in quietness and confidence; but ye would not. And ye said, No, but we will fly upon horses; therefore ye shall flee: and, We will ride upon racehorses; therefore your pursuers will race. A thousand, ye will flee from the threatening of one, from the threatening of five, until ye are reduced to a remnant, like a pine upon the top of the mountain, and like a banner upon the hill." The conditions upon which their salvation depended, and by complying with which they would attain to it, were shūbhâh, turning from their self-chosen way, and nachath, rest from self-confident work of their own (from nūăch, like rachath, ventilabrum, from rūăch, and shachath, fovea, from shūăch). Their strength (i.e., what they would be able to do in opposition to the imperial power) would show itself (hâyâh, arise, come to the light, as in Isaiah 29:2), in hashqēt, laying aside their busy care and stormy eagerness, and bitchâh, trust, which cleaves to Jehovah and, renouncing all self-help, leaves Him to act alone. This was the leading and fundamental principle of the prophet's politics even in the time of Ahaz (Isaiah 7:4). But from the very first they would not act upon it; nor would they now that the alliance with Egypt had become an irreversible fact. To fly upon horses, and ride away upon racehorses (kal, like κέλης, celer)
(Note: We regard the Sanscrit kal, to drive or hunt, the Greek κέλλ(ὀκέλλ)ειν, and the Semitic qal, as all having the same root: cf., Vurtius, Grundzge der griech. Etymol. i.116.))
had been and still was their proud and carnal ambition, which Jehovah would answer by fulfilling upon them the curses of the thorah (Leviticus 26:8, Leviticus 26:36; Deuteronomy 28:25; Deuteronomy 32:30). One, or at the most five, of the enemy would be able with their snorting to put to flight a whole thousand of the men of Judah. The verb nūs (Isaiah 30:16), which rhymes with sūs, is used first of all in its primary sense of "flying" (related to nūts, cf., Exodus 14:27), and then in its more usual sense of "fleeing." (Luzzatto, after Abulwald: vogliamo far sui cavalli gloriosa comparsa, from nūs, or rather nâsas, hence nânōs, from which comes nēs, excellere.) יקּלּוּ, the fut. niphal, signifies to be light, i.e., swift; whereas יקל, the fut. kal, had become a common expression for light in the sense of despised or lightly esteemed. The horses and chariots are Judah's own (Isaiah 2:7; Micah 5:9), though possibly with the additional allusion to the Egyptian cavalry, of world-wide renown, which they had called to their help. In Isaiah 30:17 the subject of the first clause is also that of the second, and consequently we have not וּמפּני (compare the asyndeta in Isaiah 17:6). The insertion of rebhâbhâh (ten thousand) after chămisshâh (five), which Lowth, Gesenius, and others propose, is quite unnecessary. The play upon the words symbolizes the divine law of retribution (talio), which would be carried out with regard to them. The nation, which had hitherto resembled a thick forest, would become like a lofty pine (tōrne, according to the talmudic tūrnı̄thâ, Pinus pinea), standing solitary upon the top of a mountain, and like a flagstaff planted upon a hill - a miserable remnant in the broad land so fearfully devastated by war. For אם עד followed by a preterite (equivalent to the fut. exactum), compare Isaiah 6:11 and Genesis 24:19.
But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift.
One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill.
And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.The prophet now proceeds with ולכן, to which we cannot give any other meaning than et propterea, which it has everywhere else. The thought of the prophet is the perpetually recurring one, that Israel would have to be reduced to a small remnant before Jehovah would cease from His wrath. "And therefore will Jehovah wait till He inclines towards you, and therefore will He withdraw Himself on high till He has mercy upon you; for Jehovah is a God of right, salvation to those who wait for Him." In other places lâkhēn (therefore) deduces the punishment from the sin; here it infers, from the nature of the punishment, the long continuance of the divine wrath. Chikkâh, to wait, connected as it is here with Lamed, has at least the idea, if not the actual signification, of delay (as in 2 Kings 9:3; compare Job 32:4). This helps to determine the sense of yârūm, which does not mean, He will show Himself exalted as a judge, that through judgment He may render it possible to have mercy upon you (which is too far-fetched a meaning); but, He will raise Himself up, so as to be far away (cf., Numbers 16:45, "Get you up from among this congregation;" and Psalm 10:5, mârōm equals "far above," as far as heaven, out of his sight), that thus (after having for a long time withdrawn His gracious presence; cf., Hosea 5:6) He may bestow His mercy upon you. A dark prospect, but only alarming to unbelievers. The salvation at the remotest end of the future belongs to believers even now. This is affirmed in the word 'ashrē (blessed), which recalls Psalm 2:12. The prophet uses châkhâh in a very significant double sense here, just as he did nuus a short time before. Jehovah is waiting for the time when He can show His favour once more, and blessed are they who meet His waiting with their own waiting.
For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.None but such are heirs of the grace that follows the judgment - a people, newly pardoned in response to its cry for help, conducted by faithful teachers in the right way, and renouncing idolatry with disgust. "For a people continues dwelling in Zion, in Jerusalem; thou shalt not weep for ever: He will prove Himself gracious to thee at the sound of thy cry for help; as soon as He hears, He answers thee. And the Lord giveth you bread in penury, and water for your need; and thy teachers will not hide themselves any more, and thine eyes come to see thy teachers. And thine ears will hear words behind thee, saying, 'This is the way, walk ye in it!' whether ye turn to the right hand or to the left. And ye defile the covering of thy graven images of silver, and the clothing of thy molten images of gold; thou wilt scatter them like filthy thing: 'Get out!' thou sayest to it." We do not render Isaiah 30:19, "For O people that dwelleth in Zion, in Jerusalem!" For although the personal pronoun may be omitted after Vav in an apostrophizing connection (Proverbs 8:5; Joel 2:23), we should certainly expect to find אתּה here. The accent very properly marks these words as forming an independent clause. The apparent tautology in the expression, "in Zion, in Jerusalem," is emphatic and explanatory. The fate of Zion-Jerusalem will not be the same as that of the imperial city (Isaiah 13:20; Isaiah 25:2); for it is the city of Jehovah, which, according to His promise, cannot become an eternally deserted ruin. After this promising declaration, the prophet turns and addresses the people of the future in the people of his own time; bâkhō strengthens the verbal notion with the mark of duration; chânōn with the mark of certainty and fulness. יחנך, with an advanced ŏ, as in Genesis 43:29, for יחן. כּ is the shortest expression used to denote simultaneous occurrence; answering and hearing would coincide (shom‛âh, nomen actionis, as in Isaiah 47:9; Isaiah 55:2; Ges. 45, 1b; ‛ânâkh, the pausal form here, as in Jeremiah 23:37). From this lowest stage of response to the penitential cry for help, the promise rises higher and higher. The next stage is that in which Jerusalem is brought into all the distress consequent upon a siege, as threatened by the prophet in Isaiah 29:3-4; the besieged would not be allowed by God to die of starvation, but He would send them the necessary support. The same expression, but very little altered, viz., "to give to eat lechem lachatz ūmayim lachatz," signifies to put any one upon the low rations of a siege or of imprisonment, in 1 Kings 22:27 and 2 Chronicles 18:26; but here it is a promise, with the threat kept in the background. צר and לחץ are connected with the absolute nouns לחם and מים, not as adverbial, but as appositional definitions (like תּרעלה יין, "wine which is giddiness," in Psalm 60:5; and בּרכּים מים, "water which is knees," i.e., which has the measure of the knees, where birkayim is also in apposition, and not the accusative of measurement): literally, bread which is necessity, and water which is affliction; that is to say, nourishment of which there is extreme need, the very opposite of bread and water in abundance. Umbreit and Drechsler understand this spiritually. But the promise rises as it goes on. There is already an advance, in the fact that the faithful and well-meaning teachers (mōrı̄m) no longer keep themselves hidden because of the hard-heartedness and hatred of the people, as they have done ever since the time of Ahaz (נכנף, a denom.: to withdraw into כּנף, πτέρυξ, the utmost end, the most secret corner; though kânaph in itself signifies to cover or conceal). Israel, when penitent, would once more be able to rejoice in the sight of those whom it longed to have back again. מוריך is a plural, according to the context (on the singular of the previous predicate, see Ges. 147). As the shepherds of the flock, they would follow the people with friendly words of admonition, whilst the people would have their ears open to receive their instruction. תּאמינוּ is here equivalent to תּימינוּ, תּימינוּ. The abominations of idolatry (which continued even in the first years of Hezekiah's reign: Isaiah 31:7; Micah 1:5; Micah 5:11-13; Micah 6:16) would now be regarded as abominations, and put away. Even gold and silver, with which the images that were either carved or cast in inferior metal were overlaid, would be made unclean (see 2 Kings 28:8ff.); that is to say, no use would be made of them. Dâvâh is a shorter expression for kelı̄ dâvâh, the cloth worn by a woman at the monthly period. On zârâh, to dispense - to which dâvâh would be inappropriate if understood of the woman herself, as it is by Luzzatto - compare 2 Kings 23:6. With זהבך, the plural used in the general address passes over into the individualizing singular; לו is to be taken as a neuter pointing back to the plunder of idols.
And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:
And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
Ye shall defile also the covering of thy graven images of silver, and the ornament of thy molten images of gold: thou shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth; thou shalt say unto it, Get thee hence.
Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures.The promise, after setting forth this act of penitence, rises higher and higher; it would not stop at bread in time of need. "And He gives rain to thy seed, with which thou sowest the land; and bread of the produce of the land, and it is full of sap and fat: in that day your flocks will feed in roomy pastures. And the oxen and the young asses, which work the land, salted mash will they eat, which is winnowed with the winnowing shovel and winnowing fork! And upon every high mountain, and every hill that rises high, there are springs, brooks in the day of the great massacre, when the towers fall." The blessing which the prophet depicts is the reverse of the day of judgment, and stands in the foreground when the judgment is past. The expression "in that day" fixes, as it were, the evening of the day of judgment, which is followed by the depicted morning of blessing. But the great mass of the Jewish nation would be first of all murdered in war; the towers must fall, i.e., (though without any figure, and merely as an exemplifying expression) all the bulwarks of self-confidence, self-help, and pride (Isaiah 2:15; Micah 5:9-10). In the place of the self-induced calamities of war, there would now come the God-given rich blessings of peace; and in the place of the proud towers, there would come fruitful heights abounding with water. The field would be cultivated again, and produce luxuriant crops of nutritious corn; so that not only the labour of man, but that of the animals also, would receive a rich reward. "Rain to thy seed:" this is the early rain commencing about the middle of October. אשׁר as an accusative, זרע being construed with a double accusative, as in Deuteronomy 22:9. מקניך might be the singular, so far as the form is concerned (see Isaiah 1:30; Isaiah 5:12; Isaiah 22:11); but, according to Exodus 17:3, it must be taken as a plural, like מוריך. The 'ălâphı̄m are the oxen used in ploughing and threshing; the ‛ăyârı̄m, the asses used for carrying manure, soil, the sheaves, or the grain. Belı̄l châmı̄ts is a mash (composed of oats, barley, and vetches, or things of that kind) made more savoury with salt and sour vegetables;
(Note: Such as Salsola kali, Salsola tragus, Salsola soda, and other plants of the family of the chenopodiaceae.)
that is to say, a farrago (from bâlal, to mix; Comm. on Job, at Job 40:19-24). According to Wetzstein, it is ripe barley (unthreshed during the harvest and threshing time, and the grain itself for the rest of the year) mixed with salt or salt vegetables. In any case, belı̄l is to be understood as referring to the grain; this is evident from the relative clause, "which has been winnowed" ( equals mezōreh, Ewald, 169, d), or perhaps more correctly, "which he (one) winnows" (part. kal), the participle standing for the third person, with the subject contained within itself (Ewald, 200), i.e., not what was generally given from economy, viz., barley, etc., mixed with chopped straw (tibn), but pure grain (habb mahd, as they say at the present day). Rachath is a winnowing shovel, which is still used, according to Wetzstein, in Merj. Gedur, and Hauran; mizreh, on the other hand, is the winnowing fork with six prongs. Dainty food, such as was only given occasionally to the cattle, as something especially strengthening, would then be their regular food, and would be prepared in the most careful manner. "Who cannot see," exclaims Vitringa, "that this is to be taken spiritually?" He appeals to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:9, viz., that God does not trouble Himself about oxen. But Paul did not mean this in the same sense as Aristotle, who maintained that the minima were entirely excluded from the providence of God. What the Scriptures say concerning cattle, they do not say for the sake of the cattle, but for the sake of men; though it does not follow that the cattle are to be understood figuratively, as representing men. And this is the case here. What the prophet paints in this idyllic style, in colours furnished by the existing customs,
(Note: Asses particularly, even those of a guest, are generally very much neglected. The host throws them a little grass, and then hangs up the fodder-sack full of chopped straw; and it is a sign of extraordinary hospitality of corn is given to the asses as well as to the horses. - Wetzstein.)
is not indeed intended to be understood in the letter; and yet it is to be taken literally. In the age of glory, even on this side of eternity, a gigantic stride will be taken forward towards the glorification of universal nature, and towards the end of all those sighs which are so discernible now, more especially among domestic animals. The prophecy is therefore to be interpreted according to Romans 8:19.; from which we may clearly see that God does trouble Himself about the sighing of an ox or ass that is overburdened with severe toil, and sometimes left to starve.
The oxen likewise and the young asses that ear the ground shall eat clean provender, which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan.
And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.
Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.The promise now rises higher and higher, and passes from earth to heaven. "And the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be multiplied sevenfold, like the light of seven days, in the day that Jehovah bindeth the hurt of His people, and healeth the crushing of His stroke." Modern commentators from Lowth downwards for the most part pronounce היּמים שׁבעת כּאור a gloss; and there is one external evidence in favour of this, which is wanting in the case of the other supposed glosses in Isaiah, namely, that the words are omitted by the lxx (though not by the Targum, the Syriac, or Jerome). Even Luther (although he notices these words in his exposition and sermons) merely renders them, der Sonnen schein wird siebenmal heller sein denn jtzt (the sunlight will be seven times as bright as it is now). But the internal evidence does not favour their spuriousness even in the case before us; for the fact that the regularity of the verse, as consisting of four members, is thereby disturbed, is no evidence at all, since the v. could be warranted in a pentastic quite as well as in a tetrastic form. We therefore decide in this instance also in favour of the conclusion that the prophet composed the gloss himself. But we cannot maintain, with Umbreit, that the addition was necessary, in order to guard against the idea that there would be seven suns shining in the sky; for the prophet does not predict a multiplication of the sun by seven, but simply the multiplication of its light. The seven days are the length of an ordinary week. Drechsler gives it correctly: "The radiated light, which is sufficient to produce the daylight for a whole week according to the existing order of things, will then be concentrated into a single day." Luther renders it in this way, als wenn sieben tag ynn eynander geschlossen weren (as if seven days were enclosed in one another). This also is not meant figuratively, any more than Paul means is figuratively, when he says, that with the manifestation of the "glory" of the children of God, the "corruption" of universal nature will come to an end. Nevertheless, it is not of the new heaven that the prophet is speaking, but of the glorification of nature, which is promised by both the Old Testament prophecy and by that of the New at the closing period of the world's history, and which will be the closing typical self-annunciation of that eternal glory in which everything will be swallowed up. The brightest, sunniest days then alternate, as the prophet foretells, with the most brilliant moonlight nights. No other miracles will be needed for this than that wonder-working power of God, which even now produces those changes of weather, the laws of which no researches of natural science have enabled us to calculate, and which will then give the greatest brilliancy and most unchangeable duration to what is now comparatively rare - namely, a perfectly unclouded sky, with sun or moon shining in all its brilliancy, yet without any scorching from the one, or injurious effects from the other. Heaven and earth will then put on their sabbath dress; for it will be the Sabbath of the world's history, the seventh day in the world's week. The light of the seven days of the world's week will be all concentrated in the seventh. For the beginning of creation was light, and its close will be light as well. The darkness all comes between, simply that it may be overcome. At last will come a bōqer (morning), after which it will no more be said, "And evening was, and morning was." The prophet is speaking of the last type of this morning. What he predicts here precedes what he predicted in Isaiah 24:23, just as the date of its composition precedes that of chapters 24-27; for there the imperial city was Babylon, whereas here the glory of the latter day is still placed immediately after the fall of Assyria.
Behold, the name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire:"Behold, the name of Jehovah cometh from far, burning His wrath, and quantity of smoke: His lips are full of wrathful foam, and His tongue like devouring fire. And His breath is like an overflowing brook, which reaches half-way to the neck, to sift nations in the sieve of nothingness; and a misleading bridle comes to the cheeks of the nations." Two figures are here melted together - namely, that of a storm coming up from the farthest horizon, which turns the sky into a sea of fire, and kindles whatever it strikes, so that there rises up a heavy burden, or thick mass of smoke (kōbhed massâ'âh, like mas'ēth in Judges 20:40, cf., Judges 20:38; on this attributive combination, burning His wrath (Ewald, 288, c) and a quantity, etc., see Isaiah 13:9); and that of a man burning with wrath, whose lips foam, whose tongue moves to and fro like a flame, and whose breath is a snorting that threatens destruction, which when it issues from Jehovah swells into a stream, which so far covers a man that only his neck appears as the visible half. We had the same figure in Isaiah 8:8, where Asshur, as it came upon Judah, was compared to such an almost overwhelming and drowning flood. Here, again, it refers to Judah, which the wrath of Jehovah had almost though not entirely destroyed. For the ultimate object of the advancing name of Jehovah (shēm, name, relating to His judicial coming) is to sift nations, etc.: lahănâphâh for lehânı̄ph (like lahăzâdâh in Daniel 5:20), to make it more like nâphâh in sound. The sieve of nothingness is a sieve in which everything, that does not remain in it as good corn, is given up to annihilation; שׁוא is want of being, i.e., of life from God, and denotes the fate that properly belongs to such worthlessness. In the case of v'resen (and a bridle, etc.) we must either supply in thought לשׂום (שׂם), or, what is better, take it as a substantive clause: "a misleading bridle" (or a bridle of misleading, as Bttcher renders it, math‛eh being the form mashqeh) holds the cheeks of the nations. The nations are regarded as wild horses, which could not be tamed, but which were now so firmly bound and controlled by the wrath of God, that they were driven down into the abyss.
And his breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err.
Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel.This is the issue of the judgment which begins at the house of God, then turns against the instrument employed, namely the heathen, and becomes to the Israel that survives a counterpart of the deliverance from Egypt. "Your song will then sound as in the night, when the feast is celebrated; and ye will have joy of heart like those who march with the playing of flutes, to go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the Rock of Israel." In the word châg (feast), which is generally used with special reference to the feast of tabernacles, there is here an unmistakeable allusion to the passover, as we may see from the introduction of "the night," which evidently means the night before the passover (lēl shimmurı̄m, Exodus 12:42), which was so far a festal night, that it preceded and introduced the feast of unleavened bread. The prophet has taken his figure from the first passover-night in Egypt, when Israel was rejoicing in the deliverance which it was just about to receive, whilst the destroying angel was passing through the land. Such would be the song which they would be able to sing, when Jehovah poured out His judgment upon His people's enemies outside. The church is shut up in its chamber (Isaiah 26:20), and its joy resembles the heartfelt joy of those who go on pilgrimage on one of the three great feasts, or in the procession that carries up the first-fruits to Jerusalem (Biccurim, iii. 3), going up with the sound of flutes to the mountain of Jehovah, to appear before Him, the Rock of Israel.
And the LORD shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones.Israel is marching in such a joyful way to a sacred and glorious height, whilst outside Jehovah is sweeping the world-power entirely away, and that without any help from Israel. "And Jehovah causes His majestic voice to be heard, and causes the lowering of His arm to be seen, with the snorting of wrath and the blazing of devouring fire, the bursting of a cloud, and pouring of rain and hailstones. For Asshur will be terrified at the voice of Jehovah, when He smites with the staff. And it will come to pass, every stroke of the rod of destiny, which Jehovah causes to fall upon Asshur, is dealt amidst the noise of drums and the playing of guitars; and in battles of swinging arm He fights it. For a place for the sacrifice of abominations has long been made ready, even for the king is it prepared; deep, broad has He made it: its funeral-pile has fire and wood in abundance; the breath of Jehovah like a stream of brimstone sets it on fire." The imposing crash (on hōd, see Job 39:20) of the cry which Jehovah causes to be heard is thunder (see Psalm 29:1-11); for the catastrophe occurs with a discharge of all the destructive forces of a storm (see Isaiah 29:6). Nephets is the "breaking up" or "bursting," viz., of a cloud. It is through such wrath-announcing phenomena of nature that Jehovah manifests the otherwise invisible letting down of His arm to smite (nachath may possibly not be the derivative of nūăch, "settling down," but of nâchath, "the coming down," as in Psalm 38:3; just as shebheth in 2 Samuel 23:7 is not derived from shūbh, but from shâbhath, to go to ruin). Isaiah 30:31, commencing with ki (for), explains the terrible nature of what occurs, from the object at which it is directed: Asshur is alarmed at the voice of Jehovah, and thoroughly goes to pieces. We must not render this, as the Targum does, "which smites with the rod," i.e., which bears itself so haughtily, so tyrannically (after Isaiah 10:24). The smiter here is Jehovah (lxx, Vulg., Luther); and basshēbhet yakkeh is either an attributive clause, or, better still, a circumstantial determining clause, eo virga percutiente. According to the accents, vehâyâh in Isaiah 30:32 is introductory: "And it will come to pass, every stroke of the punishing rod falls (supply יהיה) with an accompaniment of drums and guitars" (the Beth is used to denote instrumental accompaniment, as in Isaiah 30:29; Isaiah 24:9; Psalm 49:5, etc.) - namely, on the part of the people of Jerusalem, who have only to look on and rejoice in the approaching deliverance. Mūsâdâh with mattēh is a verbal substantive used as a genitive, "an appointment according to decree" (comp. yâsad in Habakkuk 1:12, and yâ‛ad in Micah 6:9). The fact that drums and guitars are heard along with every stroke, is explained in Isaiah 30:32: "Jehovah fights against Asshur with battles of swinging," i.e., not with darts or any other kind of weapon, but by swinging His arm incessantly, to smite Asshur without its being able to defend itself (cf., Isaiah 19:16). Instead of בּהּ, which points back to Asshur, not to matteh, the keri has בּם, which is not so harsh, since it is immediately preceded by עליו. This cutting down of the Assyrians is accounted for in Isaiah 30:33, (ki, for), from the fact that it had long ago been decreed that they should be burned as dead bodies. 'Ethmūl in contrast with mâchâr is the past: it has not happened today, but yesterday, i.e., as the predestination of God is referred to, "long ago."
Tophteh is the primary form of tōpheth (from tūph, not in the sense of the Neo-Persian tâften, Zend. tap, to kindle or burn, from which comes tafedra, melting; but in the Semitic sense of vomiting or abhorring: see at Job 17:6), the name of the abominable place where the sacrifices were offered to Moloch in the valley of Hinnom: a Tophet-like place. The word is variously treated as both a masculine and feminine, possibly because the place of abominable sacrifices is described first as bâmâh in Jeremiah 7:31. In the clause הוּכן למּלך גּם־הוא, the gam, which stands at the head, may be connected with lammelekh, "also for the king is it prepared" (see at Job 2:10); but in all probability lammelekh is a play upon lammolekh (e.g., Leviticus 18:2), "even this has been prepared for the Melekh," viz., the king of Asshur. Because he was to be burned there, together with his army, Jehovah had made this Tophet-like place very deep, so that it might have a far-reaching background, and very broad, so that in this respect also there might be room for many sacrifices. And their medūrâh, i.e., their pile of wood (as in Ezekiel 24:9, cf., Ezekiel 24:5, from dūr, Talm. dayyēr, to lay round, to arrange, pile), has abundance of fire and wood (a hendiadys, like "cloud and smoke" in Isaiah 4:5). Abundance of fire: for the breath of Jehovah, pouring upon the funeral pile like a stream of brimstone, sets it on fire. בּ בּער, not to burn up, but to set on fire. בּהּ points back to tophteh, like the suffix of medurâthâh.
(Note: So far as the form of the text is concerned, kōl has the disjunctive yethib before pashta, which occurs eleven times according to the Masora. Nevertheless the word is logically connected in the closest manner with what follows (comp. 'ēth tōrath in Isaiah 5:24). The âh of mūsâdâh is rafatum pro mappicato, according to the Masora; in which case the suffix would refer to Asshur. In the place of הוא גם we also meet with היּא גם, with this chethib and keri reversed; but the former, according to which הוכן is equivalent to הוכנה, has many examples to support it in the Masora. הוכן has kametz in correct MSS in half pause; whereas Kimchi (Michlol, 117b) regards it as a participle.)
For through the voice of the LORD shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a rod.
And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the LORD shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps: and in battles of shaking will he fight with it.
For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.