Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
THE SECOND PORTAL
Chapters 2–5 contain the second introduction, the second portal, so to speak, of the majestic cathedral of the prophecies of Isaiah. This portal is the greatest as regards the extent of it. It is meant to afford us a more exact insight into the contents, the power and the reach of Isaiah’s prophecies. The first introduction proceeds from the mournful condition of the present, speaks of the means of securing a better future, and closes with a grand survey of past, present and future, from which it appears that, for the believing part of the people, the end shall correspond to the beginning as its much more glorious antitype, whereas, for the unbelieving part, there is only the prospect of a wretched and total destruction. In that chapter, therefore, threatening constitutes the key-note, the promise appears, as it were an interlude. But that chap. 1 gives only brief outlines. Particularly the future is indicated only by a few, albeit significant words, Isa 2:26, 27.
The second introduction looks entirely away from the past. It treats only of future and present. It does this, however, in such a way that the Prophet, as it were, with arms reaching out far before him, holds, one after another, two lights out into the remotest future, that make it appear as a time of the greatest glory. These two prophetic lamps, however, must serve at the same time to show in so much the more glaring light the distress and also the nothingness of that present time that precedes that period of glory. Involuntarily the eye turns backwards from it to the circumstances of the present, and these appear all the more gloomy because the eye has beheld before such bright light in the future. But just the inward nothingness and emptiness of the bad present is, in some sense, the first step to the revelation of the divine glory. For the bad bears, indeed, the judgment in itself. But this ideal judgment must become real, and then is the moment come wherein the majesty of the only true God, hitherto hidden and ignored, bursts forth in its full splendor
We must remark in advance that this second introduction is built upon the fundamental number two. It divides into two principal parts. At the head of each of these parts stands a prophetic announcement of glorious contents relating to final events of history, the first of which portrays more the future, outward glory, the second more the inward glory of Israel, that which lies at the base of the first, and is identical with holiness. These two announcements extend far into the future to the very end of history.
Each of these lamps is followed by a look at the present, taking this expression in a relative sense, so that by it everything is understood that precedes the future events lighted up by the two lamps. Each of these two looks at the present divides again into two parts that differ from one another in their structure. The first look resolves itself into a general (2:5–11) and a particular part (2:12–4:1); the last again falls into two subdivisions, of which the first portrays the judgment in the extra-human sphere, the second that in the human sphere. The judgment in the extra-human sphere, then again, subdivides into two halves, of which the first embraces all that is beneath mankind (2:12–17), the second all that is above mankind, i. e., idols (2:18–21). The judgment of things belonging to the human sphere also subdivides into two halves, the first of which (2:22–3:15) has men for its subject, the second (3:16–4:1) the women. The second lamp (4:2–6) has an attendant section (5) that again is composed of two members. The first is a parable (5:1–7) which, though as to form it departs surprisingly from 4:2–6, still in sense joins closely on to it. For as 4:2–6 treats of the glorious rod, and the glorious fruit of the future, 5:1 sqq. treats of the mournful fruits of the present. The second part specifies more particularly the bad fruits of the present and their consequences in a sixfold woe, which again subdivides into two chief parts. The first two woes, namely, evidently refer back to the first principal part of the whole discourse (2:2–4:1) and contain relatively to it an appropriate conclusion; whereas the last four woes refer more to the second principal part of the discourse (4, 5) and contain the definitive chief conclusion of the discourse.
In regard to the date of the composition of this discourse, I must first of all warn against the petty and superficial way of viewing this thing, that ignores the grand, comprehensive glance of prophecy, and restricts to a special point of time what concerns the whole and the general. Thus I challenge the right of exegesis altogether to draw conclusions regarding the date of composition from single exhortations, warnings, threatenings or promises, if those are not quite decidedly of a specific nature. If, for example, the Prophet speaks against idolatry, the injustice and oppressions of the great intemperance and licentiousness, one is not justified in concluding therefrom that he spoke these words under a godless prince, an Ahaz or Manasseh. He could have spoken them under an Uzziah or Hezekiah, for the prophet may have had in his mind the entire present, i. e., the whole time preceding the redemption that terminates history. It, on the other hand, the Prophet speaks of boy and woman government (3:4, 12) that is not necessarily something general. That is not a standing and abiding characteristic of rebellious Israel, but an abnormity, that even in the times of deepest degradation does not always happen. Where such a reference is made, one may reasonably infer that the Prophet has in mind quite special and actual circumstances of his own time. It may therefore be assumed with a degree of probability (for certainty is not to be thought of) that chap. iii. was composed under Ahaz. But I shall show hereafter that this chapter betrays the marks of another sort of origin in the form of its transitions and combinations: i. e., it gives evidence of being an older piece, already prepared, that is only put in here as in a suitable place.
Now if we consider that our passage (ii.–v.) as second portal belongs to the introduction to the entire book, then we must say, the obvious date of its origin is that time when the Prophet compiled his book into a whole. He could then very well make use of older discourses already on hand for introduction, but on the whole, as introduction, as overture, as preface the passage presupposes the whole book. The comprehensive character of our passage, which surveys the entire present and the future into the remotest distance, has long been recognized, and with that it has been admitted that it has essentially and generally the same extension as the whole book, thus it possesses the qualities that belong to an introductory preface. With this correspond the chronological indications that appear in 2:2–4, as related to Mich. 3:12; comp. Jer. 26:18.
From Jer. 26:18 we receive the impression that Micah spoke the words 3:12 (that are closely connected with 4:1 sqq.), under Hezekiah. How could they previously be known to Isaiah? Therefore if 2:2–4 presupposes the time of Hezekiah, then this agrees with our assumption that the chapters 2-5 only then originated as a whole, when the prophet compiled his whole book.
The structure of our passage is made clear by the following scheme.
ISRAEL OF THE PRESENT TIME IN THE LIGHT OF ITS FINAL GLORY
A. The Superscription, 2:1.
B. The first prophetic lamp, which in the light of the divine eminence that shall finally appear makes known the things falsely eminent of the present time, 2:1–4:1.
1. The first prophetic lamp itself, 2:2–4.
2. The falsely eminent things and their abasement in general, 2:5–11.
a. The judgment against the things falsely eminent in the sub-human and superhuman sphere, 2:12–21.
b. The judgment against the falsely eminent things in the human sphere, 2:22–4:1.
α. The judgment against godless men, 2:22–3:15.
β. The judgment against godless women, 3:16–4:1.
C. The second prophetic lamp which, in the light of the glorious divine fruit of the last time, makes known the bad fruits of the present, 4:2–5:30.
1. The second prophetic lamp itself, and the glorious divine fruit displayed by it, 4:2–6.
2. The bad fruits of the present in the light of the glorious divine fruit of the final period, 5:1–30.
a. The bad fruits of the present shown in the parable of the vineyard, 5:1–7.
b. The bad fruits of the present and their consequences more nearly described in a sixfold woe, at the same time, double conclusion of the whole discourse, 5:8–30.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. On 2:2. Domus Dei, etc. “The house of God is built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, who, themselves, toDOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. On 2:2. Domus Dei, etc. “The house of God is built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, who, themselves, too, are mountains, quasi imitators of Christ. (They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, Ps. 125:1) Whence, also, upon one of the mountains Christ founded the Church and said: Thou art Peter, etc., Matth. 16:18.” JEROME.——“We can understand Jerusalem by the mountain of God, for we see how the believing run thither, and how those that have accepted the testimony come thither and seize the blessing that proceeds thence. But we may also by the house of God understand the churches spread over land and sea, as we believe St. Paul, who says, ‘we are the house of God,’ Heb. 3:6. And so we may recognize the truth of the prophecy. For the Church of God stands shining forth, and the nations, forsaking wickedness that has long had dominion over them, hasten to her and are enlightened by her.” THEODORET.——Ecclesia est, etc. “The church is a mountain exalted and established above all other mountains, but in spirit. For if you regard the external look of the church from the beginning of the world, then in New Testament times, you will see it oppressed, contemned, and in despair. Yet, notwithstanding, in that contempt it is exalted above all mountains. For all kingdoms and all dominions that have ever been in the world have perished. The church alone endures and triumphs over heresies, tyrants, Satan, sin, death and hell, and that by the word only, by this despised and feeble speech alone. Moreover it is a great comfort that the bodily place, whence first the spiritual kingdom should arise, was so expressly predicted, that consciences are assured of that being the true word, that began first to be preached in that corner of Judea, that it may be for us a mount Zion, or rule for judging of all religions and all doctrines. The Turkish Alcoran did not begin in Zion—therefore it is wicked doctrine. The various Popish rites, laws, traditions began not in Zion—therefore they are wicked, and the very doctrines of devils. So we may hold ourselves upright against all other religions, and comfort our hearts with this being the only true religion which we profess. Therefore, too, in two psalms, Ps. 2 and 110, mount Zion is expressly signified: “I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion;” likewise: “The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion.” LUTHER.
2. On Isa 2:2. LUTHER makes emphatic, as something pertaining to “the wonderful nature of this kingdom,” that “other kingdoms are established and administered by force and arms. But here, because the mountain is lifted up, the nation shall flow (fluent), i.e., they shall come voluntarily, attracted by the virtues of the church. For what is there sweeter or lovelier than the preaching of the gospel? Whereas Moses frightens weak souls away. Thus the prophet by the word fluent, “flow,” has inlaid a silent description of the kingdom of Christ, which Christ gives more amply when He says: Matth. 11:12, “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force,” i.e. “they are not compelled, but they compel themselves.” “Morever rivers do not flow up mountains, but down them; but here is such an unheard-of thing in the kingdom of Christ.”—STARKE.
3. LUTHER remarks on “and shall say: come,” etc. “Here thou seest the worship, works and efforts and sacrifices of Christians. For they do only the one work, that they go to hear and to learn. All the rest of the members must serve their neighbors. These two, ears and heart, must serve God only. For the kingdom rests on the word alone. Sectaries and heretics, when they have heard the gospel once, instantly become masters, and pervert the Prophet’s word, in that they say: Come let us go up that we may teach him his way and walk in our paths. They despise, therefore, the word as a familiar thing and seek new disputations by which they may display their spirit and commend themselves to the crowd. But Christians know that the words of the Holy Ghost can never be perfectly learned as long as we are in the flesh. For Christianity does not consist in knowing, but in the disposition. This disposition can never perfectly believe the word on account of the weakness of the sinful flesh. Hence they ever remain disciples and ruminate the word, in order that the heart, from time to time, may flame up anew. It is all over with us if we do not continue in the constant use of the word, in order to oppose it to Satan in temptation (Matth. 4). For immediately after sinning ensues an evil conscience, that can be raised up by nothing but the word. Others that forsake the word sink gradually from one sin into another, until they are ruined. Therefore Christianity must be held to consist in hearing the word, and those that are overcome by temptations, whether of the heart or body, may know that their hearts are empty of the word.”
4. VITRINGA remarks on the words, “Out of Zion goes forth the law,” 5:3. “If strife springs up among the disciples concerning doctrine or discipline, one must return to the pattern of the doctrine and discipline of the school at Jerusalem. For יָצָא “shall go forth,” stands here only as in Luke 2:1, “There went forth a decree from Cæsar Augustus.” In this sense, too, Paul says, 1 Cor. 14:36, “What? came the word of God out from you?” The word of God did not go forth from Corinth, Athens, Rome, Ephesus, but from Jerusalem, a fact that bishops assembled in Antioch opposed to Julius I. (SOZOM. hist. eccl. III. 8, “the orientals acknowledged that the Church of Rome was entitled to universal honor—although those who first propagated a knowledge of Christian doctrine in that city came from the East”). CYRIL took יָצָא in the false sense of κατελἐλοιπε τὴν Σιών, “has forsaken Zion.” When the Lord opened the understandings of the disciples at Emmaus, to understand the Scriptures and see in the events they had experienced the fulfilment of what was written concerning Him in the law, Prophets and Psalms, He cannot have forgotten the present passage. Of this we may be the more assured since the words: “Thus it is written and thus it behooved Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24:46, 47, point clearly to Isa 2:2 and 3 of our passage. Therefore too, JUSTIN MARTYR Apol. i. (commonly ii.), § 49, says: “But where the prophetic spirit predicts the future, he says: from Zion shall go forth the law, etc. And that this finally came to pass in fact, you may credibly assure yourselves. For from Jerusalem have men gone forth into the world, twelve in number, and these were unlearned, that knew not how to speak. But by the might of God they have proclaimed to all mankind that they were sent by Christ in order to teach all the word of God.”
“Zion is contrasted here with Mount Sinai, whence the law came, which in the Old Testament was the foundation of all true doctrine: But in the New Testament Mount Zion or Jerusalem has the privilege to announce that now a more perfect law would be given and a new Covenant of God with men would be established. Thus Zion and Jerusalem are, so to speak, the nursery and the mother of all churches and congregations of the New Testament.”—STARKE.
5. FÖRSTER remarks on the end of Isa 2:3, that the gospel is the sceptre of Jesus Christ, according to Ps. 110:2 and 45:7 (the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre). “For by the word Christ rules His church (Rom. 10:14 sqq.).”
6. On Isa 2:4. “Pax optima rerum.” FOERSTER. The same author finds this prophecy fulfilled by Christ, who is our peace, who has made of both one, and broken down the partition that was between, in that by His flesh He took away the enmity (Eph. 2:14). FOERSTER, moreover, combats the Anabaptists, who would prove from this passage that waging war is not permitted to Christians. For our passage speaks only against the privata Christianorum discordia. But waging war belongs to the publicum magistratus officium. Waging war, therefore, is not forbidden, if only the war is a just one. To be such, however, there must appear according to THOMAS, part. 2 th. quœst. 40. 1) auctoritatis principis, 2) causa justa, 3) intentio bellantium justa, or ut allii efferunt: 1) jurisdictio indicentis, 2) offensio patientis, 3) intentio finem (?) convenientis.
7. On Isa 2:4. JEROME regarded the time of Augustus, after his victory at Actium, as the fulfilling of this prophecy. Others, as COCCEIUS, refer the words, “they shall turn their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning-hooks,” to the time of Constantine the Great; and the words “nation shall not lift up sword against nation” to the period of the restoration of religious peace in Germany,—finally the words: “they shall no more learn war,” to a future time that is to be hoped for. Such interpretations are, however, just as one-sided as those that look only for a spiritual fulfilment of prophecy. For how is an inward fulfilment of this promise of peace to be thought of which would not have the outward effects as its consequence? Or how is an outward fulfilment, especially such as would deserve the name, conceivable without the basis of the inward? Or must this peaceful time be looked for only in heaven? Why then does the promise stand here? It is a matter of course that there is peace in heaven: for where there is no peace there can be no heaven. The promise has sense only if its fulfilment is to be looked for on earth. The fulfilment will take place when the first three petitions of the Lord’s prayer are fulfilled, i.e. when God’s name shall be held holy by us as it in itself is holy, when the kingdom of God is come to everything, without and within, and rules alone over all, when the will of God is done on earth as in heaven. Christendom makes this prayer quite as much with the consciousness that it cannot remain unfulfilled, as with the consciousness that it must find its fulfilment on earth. For, if referred to heaven, these petitions are without meaning. Therefore there is a time of universal inward and outward peace to be looked for on earth. “It is not every day’s evening,” i.e. one must await the event, and our earth, without the least saltus in cogitando, can yet experience a state of things that shall be related to the present, as the present to the period of trilobites and saurians. If one could only keep himself free from the tyranny of the present moment! But our entire, great public, that has made itself at home in Philistia, lives in the sweet confidence that there is no world beside that of which we take notice on the surface of the earth, nor ever was one, nor ever will be.
8. On Isa 2:4. Poets reverse the figure to portray the transition from peaceful to warlike conditions. Thus VIRGIL, Georg. I. Isa 2:506 sq.:
Non ullus aratro
Dignus honos, squalent abductis arva colonis.
Et curvæ rigidum falces conflantur in ensem.
Aeneide VII. Isa 2:635 sq.:
Vomeris huc et falcis honos, huc omnis aratri
Cessit amor; recoquunt patrios fornacibus enses.
OVID, Fast. I. Isa 2:697 sqq.:
Bella diu tenuere viros. Erat aptior ensis
Vomere, cedebat taurus arator equo.
Sarcula cessabant, versique in pila ligones.
Factaque de rastri pondere cassia erat.
9. On Isa 2:5. As Isaiah puts the glorious prophecy of his fellow prophet Micah at the head, he illuminates the future with a splendid, shining, comforting light. Once this light is set up, it of itself suggests comparisons. The questions arise: how does the present stand related to that shining future? What difference obtains? What must happen for that condition of holiness and glory to be brought about? The Christian Church, too, and even each individual Christian must put himself in the light of that prophetic statement. On the one hand that will humiliate us, for we must confess with the motto of Charles V.: nondum! And long still will we need to cry: Watchman what of the night (21:11)? On the other hand the Prophet’s word will also spur us up and cheer us. For what stronger impulse can be imagined than the certainty that one does not contend in vain, but may hope for a reward more glorious than all that ever came into a man’s heart? (64:4; 1 Cor. 2:9).
In the time of the second temple, in the evenings of the first days of the feast of Tabernacles, great candelabras were lighted in the forecourt of the temple, each having four golden branches, and their light was so strong that it was nearly as light as day in Jerusalem. That might be for Jerusalem a symbol of that “let us walk in the light of the LORD.” But Jerusalem rejoiced in this light, and carried on all sorts of pastime, yet it was not able to learn to know itself in this light, and by this self-knowledge to come to true repentance and conversion.
10. On Isa 2:8, “their land is full of idols.” “Not only images and pictures are idols, but every notion concerning God that the godless heart forms out of itself without the authority of the Scripture. The notion that the Mass is effective ex opere operato, is an idol. The notion that works are demanded for justification with God, is an idol. The notion that God takes delight in fasts, peculiar clothes, a special order of life, is an idol. God wills not that we should set up out of our own thoughts a fashion of worshipping Him; but He says: “In all places where I record My name, I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee,” Exod. 20:24—LUTHER.
11. On 2:9–21. When men have brought an idol into existence, that is just to their mind, whether it be an idolum manu factum, or an idolum mente excogitatum, there they are all wonder, all worship. “Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” Then the idol has a time of great prosperity and glory. But sooner or later there comes a time when the judgment of God overtakes the idol and its servants. God suffers sin to become ripe like men let a conspiracy, like they let fruit ripen. But when the right time comes then He steps forth in such a fashion that they creep into mouse-holes to hide themselves, if it were possible, from the lightning of His eye and His hand. Where then are the turned-up noses, the big mouths, the impudent tongues? Thus it has often happened since the world began. But this being brought to confession shall happen in the highest degree to the puffed-up world at that day when they shall see that one whom they pierced, and whom they thought they might despise as the crucified One, coming in His glory to judge the world. Then they shall have anguish and sorrow, then shall they lament and faint away with apprehension of the things that draw nigh. But those that believed on the Lord in His holiness, shall then lift up their heads for that their redemption draws nigh. At that time, indeed, shall the LORD alone be high, and before Him shall bow the knees of all in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and all tongues must confess that Christ is the LORD, to the glory of God the Father.
12. On 2:22. Of what do men not make idols! The great industrial expositions of modern times often fill me with dismay, when I have seen how men carry on an actual idolatrous worship with these products of human science and art, as if that all were not, in the end, God’s work, too, but human genius were alone the creator of these wonders of civilization. How wickedly this so-called worship of genius demeans itself ! How loathsome is the still more common cultus of power, mammon and the belly!
13. On 3:1 sqq. Causa σωστική, etc. “The saving cause of the commonwealth is the possession of men of the sort here mentioned, which Plato also knew, and Cicero from Plato, each of whom judge, commonwealths would be blessed if philosophers, i.e., wise and adept men were to administer them.”—FOERSTER. The same writer cites among the causes why the loss of such men is ruinous, the changes that thence ensue. All changes in the commonwealth are hurtful. XENOPH. Hellen. 2: “εἰσὶ μὲν πᾶσαι μεταβολαὶ πολιτειῶν θανατηΦόροι.” ARISTOT. Metaph. 2: “ᾱἱμεταβολαὶ πάντων ταραχώδεις.”
14. On Isa 3:1. “The stay of bread,” etc. VITRINGA cites Horat. Satir. L. II., 3 5:153 sq.:
Deficient inopem venœ te, ni cibus atque
Ingens accedit stomacho fultura ruenti.
And on Isa 3:2 sq. he cites CICERO, who, De Nat. Deorum III., calls these “prœsidia humana,” “firmamenta reipublicœ.” On Isa 3:6 sq. the same author cites the following passage from LIVY (26 chap. 6): “Cum fame ferroque (Capuani) urgerentur, nec ulla spes superesset iis, qui nati in spem honorum erant, honores detrectantibus, Lesius querendo desertam et proditam a primoribus Capuam summum magistratum ultimus omnium Campanorum cepit!” On Isa 3:9 he quotes SENECA: De vita beata, chap. xii.: “Itaque quod unum habebant in peccatis bonum perdunt peccandi verecundiam. Laudant enim ea, quibus erubescant, et vitio gloriantur.”
15. On 3:4 and 12. FOERSTER remarks: Pueri, etc. “Boys are of two sorts. Some are so in respect to age, others in respect to moral qualifications. So, too, on the contrary there is an old age of two sorts: “For honorable age is not that which standeth in length of time, nor that is measured by number of years. But wisdom is the true gray hair unto men, and an unspotted life is the true old age.” Wisd. 4:8, 9. Examples of young and therefore foolish kings of Israel are Rehoboam (“the young fool gambled away ten whole tribes at one bet” 1 Kings 12). Ahaz, who was twenty years of age when he began to reign (2 Kings 16:2). Manasseh who was twelve years (2 Kings 21:1,) and Amon who was twenty-two years (2 Kings 21:19).
16. On 3:7. FOERSTER remarks: Nemo se, etc. “Let no one intrude himself into office, especially when he knows he is not fit for it,” and then cites: “Seek not of the LORD pre-eminence, neither of the king the seat of honor. Justify not thyself before the LORD; and boast not of thy wisdom before the king. Seek not to be judge, being not able to take away iniquity.” Ecclus. 7:4–6.”—“Wen aber Gott schickt, den macht er auch geschickt.”
17. On 3:8. “Their tongue and their doings are against the LORD.” Duplici modo, etc. “God may be honored by us in two outward ways: by word and deed, just as in the same way others come short; “to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds, which they have committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Jude 15.—VITRINGA.
18. On 3:9. “They hide not their sin.” Secunda post, etc. “The next plank after shipwreck, and solace of miseries is to hide one’s impiety.”—JEROME.
19. On 3:10. “Now He comforts the pious as in Ps. 2. His anger will soon kindle, but it shall be well with all that trust in Him. So Abraham, so Lot was delivered; so the apostles and the remnant of Judah when Jerusalem was besieged. For the Lord helps the righteous (Ps. 37:17, 39).”—LUTHER.
20. On 3:13, 14.
“Judicabit judices judex generalis,
Neque quidquam proderit dignitas papalis,
Sive sit episcopus, sive cardinalis,
Reus condemnabitur, nec dicetur qualis.”
“Rhythmi vulgo noti,” quoted byFOERSTER.
21. On 3:16 sq. Usus vestium, etc. “Clothes have a four-fold use: 1) they are the badge of guilt, or souvenir of the fall (Gen. 3:7, 10, 21); 2) they should be coverings against the weather; 3) they may be ornaments for the body, (Prov. 31:22, 25); 4) they may serve as a mark of rank (2 Sam. 13:18).—The abuse of clothes is three-fold; 1) in regard to the material, they may be costlier or more splendid than one’s wealth or rank admits of; 2) in respect of form, they may betray buffoonery and levity; 3) in respect to their object, they may be worn more for the display of luxury and pride than for protection and modest adornment.”—FOERSTER.
22. On 4:2. “Germen Jehovae est nomen Messiœ mysticum, a nemine intellectum, quam qui tenet mysterium Patris et Christi. Idem valet quod filius propago Patris naturalis, in quo patris sui imago et gloria perfectissime splendet, Jessaiae in seqq. (9:5) בן ,ילד, filius, Joanni ὁ λόγενής τοῦ θεοῦ,ὁυἱὸς πρωὀτοκος μονογενής, processio Patris naturaλis. Est hic eruditi cujusdam viri elegans observatio, quae eodem tendit, quam non licet intactam praetermittere. Comparat ille inter se nomina Messiœ צמח דוד (Jer. 23:5) et צמח יהוה in hoc loco. Cum autem prior appellatio absque dubitatione innuat, Messiam fore filium Davidis, docet posteriorem ἀναλογικῶς non posse aliud significare quam filium Jehovae, quod nomen Christi Jesu est μυστικώτερον, omni alio nomine excellentius. Addit non minus docte, personam, quae hic germen Jehovae dicitur, deinceps a propheta nostro appellari Jehovam (28:5).”—VITRINGA. This exposition, which is retained by most Christian and orthodox commentators, ignores too much the fundamental meaning of the word צֶמַח, “Branch.” It is, nevertheless, not incorrect so far as the broader meaning includes the narrower concentrically. If “Branch of Jehovah” signifies all that is the personal offshoot of God, then, of course, that one must be included who is such in the highest and most perfect sense, and in so far the passage 28:5 does not conflict with exposition given by us above.
[J. A. ALEXANDER joins with VITRINGA and HENGSTENBERG in regarding “the fruit of the earth,” as referring to the same subject as “the branch of the LORD,” viz.: the Messiah; and thus, while the latter term signifies the divine nature of the Messiah, the former signifies His human origin and nature; or if we translate “land” instead of earth, it points to his Jewish human origin. Thus appears an exact correspondence to the two parts of Paul’s description, Rom. 1:3, 4, and to the two titles used in the New Testament in reference to Christ’s two natures, Song of Solomon OF GOD AND SON OF MAN.—TR.].
23. On 4:3, 4. Great storms and upheavals, therefore, are needful, in order to make the fulfilment of this prophecy possible. There must first come the breath of God from above, and the flame of God from beneath over the earth, and the human race must first be tossed and sifted. The earth and mankind must first be cleansed by great judgments from all the leaven of evil. [J. A. ALEXANDER, with LUTHER, CALVIN, EWALD, maintains concerning the word Spirit in Isa 4:4, that “the safest and most satisfactory interpretation is that which understands by it a personal spirit, or as Luther expresses it, the Spirit who shall judge and burn.”—TR.]. What survives these judgments is the remnant of which Isaiah speaks. This shall be holy. In it alone shall the LORD live and rule. This remnant is one with the new humanity which in every part, both as respects body and soul, will represent the image of Christ the second Adam. This remnant, at the same time, comprehends those whose names are written in the book of life. What sort of a divine book this may be, with what sort of corporal, heavenly reality, of course we know not. For Himself God needs no book. Yet if we compare the statements of the Revelation of John regarding the way in which the last judgment shall be held, with certain other New Testament passages, I think we obtain some explanation. We read Matt. 19:28, that on the day of the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory, the twelve apostles, too, shall sit on twelve thrones to judge the generations of Israel. And 1 Cor. 5:2, we read that the saints shall judge the world. But, Rev. 20:11, we find again the great white throne, whereon sits the great Judge of the living and the dead, after that, just before (Isa 4:4), it was said: “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them.” Afterwards it reads (Isa 4:12): “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” And (Isa 4:15). “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” From this description there seems to me to result that the books necessarily are meant for those who are, by the Supreme Judge charged with the judgment of particular ones. To this end they need, in the first place, many books that contain the works of individuals. God has a book-keeping for the life of every man. This divine record will be produced to every single one at the day of judgment. Is he a Jew? by one of the twelve Apostles. Is he a heathen? by some other saint. No man shall be able to remonstrate against this account for it will carry the evidence of truth in itself, and in the consciences of those to be judged. Should such a protest occur, the arraigned will be referred to the book of life. This is only one. For it contains only names. After this manner will the separation be accomplished, spoken of in Matt. 25:32 sq. For those whose names are found in the book of life go to the right side; the rest to the left. Then the great Judge Himself takes up the Word in the manner described in Matt. 25:34 sqq., and calls the righteous to Himself, that they may inherit the kingdom that is prepared for them. But the wicked He repulses from Him into everlasting fire, that is prepared for the devil and his angels, in regard to which the account of the judgment in Matt. 25, as far as the end is concerned, harmonizes entirely with Rev. 20:15.
24. On 4:5, 6. “The pillar of fire and cloud belongs to the miraculous graces by which the founding of the Old Testament kingdom of God was glorified just as the New Testament kingdom was by the signs that Jesus did, and by the charismata of the Apostolic time. But that appearance was quite appropriate to the state of developed revelation of that time. This had not reached the New Testament level, and not even the prophetic elevation that was possible under the Old Testament, but only the legal in which the divine stands outwardly opposed to the human. God is present among His people, but still in the most outward way; He does not walk in a human way among men; there is, too, no inward leading of the congregation by the Holy Spirit, but an outward conducting by a visible heavenly appearance. And, for these revelations to the whole people, God makes use entirely of nature, and, when it concerns His personal manifestation, of the elements. He does so, not merely in distinction from the patriarchal theophanies, …, but, particularly in contrast with heathenism, in order to accustom the Israelitish consciousness from the first not to deify the visible world, but to penetrate through it to the living, holy God, who has all the elements of nature at command as the medium of His revelation.”—AUBERLEN.
As at the close of John’s Revelation (chaps. 21, 22) we see the manifestation of the Godhead to humanity return to its beginning (Gen. 2, 3, 4), in as much as that end restores just that with which the beginning began, i.e. the dwelling of God with men, so, too, we see in Isa. 4:5, 6, a special manifestation of the (relative) beginning time recur again in the end time; the pillar of fire and cloud. But what in the beginning was an outward and therefore enigmatical and unenduring appearance, shall at last be a necessary and abiding factor of the mutual relation between God and mankind, that shall be established for ever in its full glory. There shall come a time wherein Israel shall expand to humanity and humanity receive power to become Israel, wherein, therefore, the entire humanity shall be Israel. Then is the tabernacle of God with men no more a pitiful tent, made of mats, but the holy congregation is itself the living abode of God; and the gracious presence of Almighty God, whose glory compares with the old pillar of fire and cloud, like the new, eternal house of God, with the old perishable tabernacle, is then itself the light and defence of His house.
25. On 4:5, 6. “But give diligence to learn this, that the Prophet calls to mind, that Christ alone is destined to be the defence and shade of those that suffer from heat and rain. Fasten your eyes upon Him, hang upon Him as ye are exhorted to do by the divine voice, ‘Him shall ye hear!’ Whoever hearkens to another, whoever looks to any other flesh than this, it is all over with him. For He alone shelters us from the heat, that comes from contemplating the majesty (i.e. from the terror that God’s holiness and righteousness inspire), He alone covers us from the rain and the power of Satan. This shade affords us a coolness, so that the dread of wrath gives way. For wrath cannot be there where thou seest the Son of God given to death for thee, that thou mightest live. Therefore I commend to you that name of Christ, wherewith the Prophet adorns Him, that He is a tabernacle for shade against the heat, a refuge and place of concealment from rain and tempest.”—LUTHER.—With some modification, we may apply here the comprehensive turn FOERSTER gives to our passage: 1) The dwelling of Mount Zion is the church; 2) the heat is the flaming wrath of God, and the heat of temptation (1 Pet. 4:12; Ecclus. 2:4, 5); 3) tempest and rain are the punishments of sins, or rather the inward and outward trials (Ps. 2.; Isa. 57:20); 4) the defence or the pillar of cloud and fire is Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 10).
26. On 5:1–7. This parable has a brother in the New Testament that looks very much like it. I might say: the head is almost the same. For the beginning of that New Testament parable (Matth. 21:33; Mar. 12:1), “A man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a wine-fat and built a tower,” is manifestly imitated after our passage. But here it is the vineyard that is bad, while there, in the New Testament, the husbandmen are good for nothing. Here the Lord appears as at once owner and cultivator of the vineyard; there the owner and cultivators are distinguished. This arises from the fact that the Lord Jesus apparently had in His mind the chiefs of the people, “the high-priests and elders” (Matth. 21:23, 24). From this it is manifest that here as there the vineyard is the nation. In Isaiah, however, the vineyard, that is to say the vine itself is accused. The whole people is represented as having equally gone to destruction. In the Synoptists, on the other hand, it is the chiefs and leaders that come between the Lord and His vineyard, and would exclude Him from His property, in order to be able to obtain it wholly for themselves, and divide it amongst them. Therefore there it is more the wicked greed of power and gain in the great that is reproved; here the common falling away of the whole nation.
27. 5:8. Here the Prophet denounces the rich, the aristocracy, and capital. Thus he takes the part of the poor and lowly. That grasping of the rich and noble, which they display sometimes like beasts of prey, at other times gratify in a more crafty and legal fashion, the Prophet rebukes here in the sharpest manner. God’s work is opposed to every sin, and ever stands on the side of those that suffer oppression, no matter what may be their rank. God is no respecter of persons (Deut. 10:17 sq.).
28. 5:11–17. The morning hour, the hour when light triumphs over darkness, ought to be consecrated to works of light, as it is said: Aurora Musis amica, ἡώς τοι προΦέρει μἑυ, προφέρει δὲκαὶ ἕργου (HESIOD. ἑργ. κ. ήμ. 540) Morgenstund hat Gold im Mund. “It was,” says FOERSTER, “a laudable custom among the Persians, that the chamberlains entering in to their kings early in the morning, cried out with a loud voice: ‘Arise, O king, attend to business, as Mesoromastes commands.” On the other hand, “they that be drunken are drunken in the night,” 1 Thess. 5:7 sq. So much the worse, then, when men do the works of night even in the early hour, and dare to abuse the light. “Plenus venter despumat in libidines,” says AUGUSTINE. In vino ἀσωτία (Eph. 5:18). Corpus, opes, animam luxu Germania perdit. MELANCTHON. On Isa 5:15 FOERSTER cites the expression of AUGUSTIN: “God would not suffer any evil to be done in the world unless some good might thence be elicited.”
29. 5:18. “Cords of vanity are false prejudices and erroneous conclusions. For example: no one is without sin, not even the holiest; God does not take notice of small sins; he that is among wolves must howl with them; a man cannot get along in the world with a scrupulous, tender conscience; the Lord is merciful, the flesh is weak, etc. By such like a man draws sin to him, binds his conscience fast, and resists the good motions of preventing grace. Thick cart-ropes signify a high degree of wickedness, the coarsest and most revolting prejudices. For example: God has no concern about human affairs; godliness delivers no one from misery and makes no one blessed; the threatenings of the prophets are not to be feared; there is no divine providence, no heaven, no hell (Deut. 29:17, 18, 19). Out of such a man twists and knots a stout rope, with which he draws to him manifest blasphemy, entangles himself in it, so that often he cannot get loose, but is sold as a servant under sin (Rom. 6:16; 1 Kings 21:20, 25).” STARKE.
30. 5:19. “The wicked mock at the patience and long-suffering of God, as if He did not see or care for their godless existence, but forgot them, and cast them out of mind (Ps. 10:11), so that the threatened punishment would be omitted. They would say: there has been much threatening, but nothing will come of it; if God is in earnest, let Him, etc.; we don’t mind threats; let God come on if He will! Comp. 22:12, 13; 28:21, 22; Am. 5:18; Jer. 5:12; 8:11; 17:15; Ezek. 12:21 sqq.” STARKE.
31. 5:20. “To make darkness of light, means to smother in oneself the fundamental truths that may be proved from the light of nature, and the correct conclusions inferred from them, but especially revealed truths that concern religion, and to pronounce them in others to be prejudices and errors. Bitter and sweet have reference to constitution, how it is known and experienced. To make sweet of bitter means, to recommend as sweet, pleasant and useful, what is bad and belongs to darkness, and is in fact bitter and distasteful, after one himself believes he possesses in the greatest evil the highest good.” STARKE.
32. 5:21. “Quotquot mortales” etc. As many as, taking counsel of flesh, pursue salvation with confidence of any sort of merit of their own or external privilege, a thing to which human nature is much inclined, oppose their own device to the wisdom of God, and, according to the prophet, are called wise in their own eyes (28:15; 30:1, 2; Jer. 8:8, 9; 9:23 sq.; 18:18). VITRINGA.
33. 5:26 sqq. The Prophet here expresses in a general way the thought that the Lord will call distant nations to execute judgment on Jerusalem, without having in mind any particular nation. VITRINGA quotes a remarkable passage from the excerpts of JOHN ANTIOCHENUS in VALESIUS (p. 816), where it is said, that immediately after TITUS had taken Jerusalem, ambassadors from all the neighboring nations came to him to salute him as victor and present him crowns of honor. TITUS refused these crowns, “saying that it was not he that had effected these things, but that they were done by God in the display of His wrath, and who had prospered his hands.” Comp. also the address of TITUS to his soldiers after the taking of Jerusalem in JOSEPH. B. Jud. VII. 19.
1. 2:6–11. Idolatry. 1) What occasions it (alienation from God, Isa 2:6 a); 2) The different kinds: a. a coarse kind (Isa 2:6 b, Isa 2:8), b. a more refined kind (Isa 2:7); 3) Its present appearance (great honor of the idols and of their worshippers, Isa 2:9); 4) Its fate at last (deepest humiliation before the revelation of the majesty of God of all that do not give glory to Him (Isa 2:10, 18).
2. 2:12–22. The false and the true eminence. 1) False eminence is that which at first appears high, but at last turns out to be low (to this belongs impersonal as well as supersensuous creatures, which at present appear as the highest in the world, but at last, in the day of the Lord of Hosts, shall turn out to be nothing); 2) The real eminence is that which at first is inconspicuous and inferior, but which at last turns out to be the highest, in fact the only high one.
3. 3:1–9. Sin is the destruction of a people. 1) What is sin? Resisting the Lord: a. with the tongue, b. with deeds, c. with the interior being (Isa 3:8, 9); 2) In what does the destruction consist (or the fall according to Isa 3:8 a)? a. in the loss of every thing that constitutes the necessary and sure support of the commonwealth (Isa 3:1–3); b. in insecure and weak props rising up (Isa 3:4); c. in the condition that follows of being without a Master (Isa 3:5); d. in the impossibility of finding any person that will take the governance of such a ruinous state (Isa 3:6, 7).
4. 3:4. Insurrection is forbidden by God in express words, who says to Moses “that which is altogether just thou shalt follow,” Deut. 16:20. Why may not God permit an intolerable and often unjust authority to rule a land for the same reason that He suffers children to have bad and unjust parents, and the wife a hard and intolerable husband, whose violence they cannot resist? Is it not expressly said by the Prophet “I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them?” “I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath,” Hos. 13:11. THOLUCK.
5. 3:10–13. “Let us learn to distinguish between false and real comfort.” 1) False comfort deals in illusion: the real deals in truth; 2) The false produces a present effect; the real a lasting one; 3) The false injures the one comforted; the real is health to him.” HARMS.
6. 4:2–6. The holiness of God’s Church on earth that is to be looked for in the future. 1) Its preliminary: the judgment of cleansing and purifying (Isa 4:4); 2) What is requisite to becoming a partaker? a. belonging to the remnant (Isa 4:2, 3); b. being written in the book of life (Isa 4:3); 3) The surety of its permanence: the gracious presence of the Lord (Isa 4:5, 6).
7. 5:21. The ruin of trusting in one’s own wisdom. 1) Those that have such confidence set themselves above God, which is: a. the greatest wickedness, b. the greatest folly; 2) They challenge the Divine Majesty to maintain its right (Isa 5:24).
The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.ISRAEL OF THE PRESENT TIME IN THE LIGHT OF ITS FINAL GLORY
1The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
The formula “the word which saw,” is found only here. It does not occur again either in Isaiah or in any other prophet. The form of expression הדבר אשׁר, beside this place, is only found in Jeremiah, where, however, it is regularly followed by הָיָה אֶל וגו׳.—Concerning חָזָה in this connection comp. 1:1.
The expression “concerning Judah and Jerusalem” connects 1:1 with 2:1, because it occurs in no other superscription. The likeness that exists between 1:1 and 2:1 in reference to the first half, is completed by this similarity of sound in the second half, where we would not omit to point out a second time that the difference between 2:1 and 1:1 in expression quite corresponds to the difference of the position of either chapter. Now as the expression “concerning Judah and Jerusalem,” 2:1, helps connect with 1:1, so it does in like fashion with the following chapters ii.—v. For, as was remarked 1:1, it is a fact not to be overlooked that the expression “Judah and Jerusalem” occurs relatively the oftenest in these chapters. It occurs 3:1, 8, and 5:3, whereas in all the rest of the book of Isaiah, it occurs only three times, viz., 22:21; 36:7; 44:26.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.B.—The first prophetic lamp, which in the light of the divine eminence that shall finally appear, makes known the things falsely eminent of the present time
1. The First Prophetic Lamp
2 And it shall come to pass in the last days,
That the mountain of the LORD’S house
Shall be established1 in the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And all 2nations shall flow unto it.
3 And many 3people shall go and say,
Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
And he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths:
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
4 And he shall judge among the nations,
And shall 4rebuke many people:
And they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into 5pruning hooks:
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war any more.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
It is now admitted by almost all expositors that this passage is borrowed from Micah. It is old orthodox opinion that the passage may be original as well with Isaiah as with Micah. This view occurs in ABARBANEL, with the additional notion that the passage is indeed older in Isaiah, but taken from Isaiah, not by Micah himself, but that it was brought to him in the way of inspiration from the older prophet. (Micha visionem suam enarravit illis verbis, quœ tunc ex Jesaia ori ipsius erant indita). That the passage is original with Isaiah and borrowed from him by Micah is maintained by CALMET, BECKHAUS (Integr. d. proph. Schr. d. Alten Bundes, 1798), UMBREIT. Some recent expositors (KOPPE, ROSENMUELLER, HITZIG, MAURER. EWALD), are of the opinion that our passage is the expression of a third person, from whom Isa. and Micah have drawn in common. HITZIG and EWALD even indicate Joel as the third person, and Joel 4:10 as the source of our text. If there were an expression of essentially the same import in any older prophet, this hypothesis might have some ground. But such a passage is not to be found. Joel 4:10 contains in fact precisely the opposite. For there Israel is summoned to forge its mattocks into swords, and its pruning hooks into spears, for a war of destruction against the heathen. In as much as a third place from which both may have drawn, is actually non-existent, this hypothesis is in itself superfluous and null. The question can only be, which of the two contemporaries has drawn from the other? And there everything favors the view that Micah is original. In the first place the form of the text in both points that way. For the text of Isaiah, although in the main sounding the same, has still some modifications that characterize it as a free citation, drawn, not from the manuscript original, but from memory. “All nations shall flow unto it,” 2:2, certainly comes from the harder, “people shall flow unto it,” Micah 4:1, and not the reverse. And if 2:4 is compared with Micah 4:3, the unusual עֲצֻמִים, strong, and the still more unusual עַד־רָחוֹק afar off, certainly do not make the impression of being additions. Rather the language of Isaiah. “And he shall judge among the nations, and rebuke many people,” appears as an abbreviation that reproduces only what is essential. In the second place the passage in Micah stands in the closest connection with what precedes. For with the threatening prophecy that for the sake of Judah’s sins “Zion shall be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places öf the forests,” Micah 3:12, the promise is connected…by way of contrast, that this desolation of the divine mount shall be superseded by a wonderful glory (comp. CASPARI, Micah der Morasthite s. 444 sqq.). It is most intimately connected with this that וְהָיָה, Micah 4:1, has a motive in what goes before, whereas, Isa. 51:2 it has no motive, and is without example in so abrupt a position (comp. DELITZSCH). In the third place the passage in Isaiah appears, in reference to what follows, as a motto, or a torso, prefixed theme-like, whereas in Micah it forms a well-rounded whole with two following verses. HENGSTENBERG is wrong when he refers the words Mic. 4:4 to the Israelites. The heathen, too, according to Isa 2:2 and 3 are Israelites, and thereby partakers of the promise given to Israel (Lev. 26:5). For (such is evidently the meaning of Isa 2:5), while Israel holds to its God forever as the rightful one, the heathen shall hold to their gods, only for a season, viz., until the revolution announced, Isa 2:1, takes place. The imperfect ילכו, ver 5 a. is therefore not future, but signifies continuance in the present. At present the prophet would say, all people walk after their gods, but they will not do this forever as Israel. For, Isa 2:1–3, he had expressly announced that all heathen shall flow to the mountain of Jehovah. As, therefore, Isa 2:4 completed the all-comprehensive portrait of peace in the old theocratic sense, according to passages like Lev. 26:5; 1 Kings 4:25, Isa 2:5 assigns the reason for the glorious promise made in Isa 2:1–4. Israel has already now the true way, therefore it needs only to persevere on its way. But the heathen, that are now in the false way, will one time forsake this false way and turn to the right way. The same construction proceeds, and the Isa 2:1–5 appear completely as one work from one mould. In the fourth place, the characteristics of the language in several respects bear the decided impress of Micah. The expression “in the last days,” occurs in Isaiah as in Micah, only in this one place. The expression הר בית י׳ is an evident connection with הר הבית Mic. 3:12, a designation that occurs only here, therefore is peculiar to Micah. 2 Chr. 33:15 הַר בית י׳ occurs again for a special reason, and possibly with reference to our passage. נכון only here in both Isaiah and Micah: likewise נִשָּׂא ּבראשׂ הה׳ in Micah only here: in Isaiah three times beside, evidently occasioned by our text in 2:2: see Isa 2:12, 13, 14: beside these 6:1; 52:13; 57:7, 15.—נָהָר with the meaning confluere only here in Isaiah and Micah.—The expression גוים רבים does not occur in Isaiah except 2:2; on the other hand in Micah twice; here and 4:11, (comp. the remark on עמים רבים at Isa 2:3). Later prophets, following Micah’s example, make use of it, especially Ezek. (3:6; 27:33; 32:3, 9, 10. etc.). הר יהוה only here in Micah; and also in Isaiah only once beside, 30:29.—אלהי יעקב in Isaiah and Micah only here. Isa. always says אלהי ישׂראל, once מֶלֶןְ יעקב (41:21); twice אֲבִיד יעקב (49:26; 60:16). יורנו מדרכיו in both prophets only here (comp. Mic. 3:11; Isa. 28:9, 26). Likewise נלכה בא׳.—The pairing of Zion and Jerusalem occurs in Micah in 3, 4, relatively often; 3:10, 12; 4:2, 8. But in Isaiah, too, it occurs often; 4:3, 4; 10:12, 32; 24:23; 30:19; 31:9; 33:20; 37:22, 32; 41:27; 52:1, 2; 62:1; 64:9.—עַמִּים רַבִּים occurs in Isaiah in only one other place, 17:12. whereas it occurs in Micah four times: 4:3, 13; 5:6, 27.—The use of רַבִּים and עצומים together does not occur again in Micah; on the other hand once in Isa. 53:12. The singular גוי עצום once in Isa. 60:22. The words עד־רחוק are wanting in Isaiah. In fact they occur only here. כתת in Micah again 1:7; in Isa. 24:12; 30:14. Plural of חרב in Isaiah only 21:15.—אּתִּים only here and Joel 4:10. חנית nowhere in Isaiah.—מזמרות in Isaiah again 18:5. The other words have no specific importance. The following expressions, therefore are decidedly peculiar to Micah: 1) הַר בֵּית י׳; 2) גוֹים רַבִּים; 3) עַמִּים רַבִּים; 4) אלהי יעקב; for Isa. constantly says, אלהי ישראל, and יעקר is generally a favorite expression of Micah, which he uses eleven times (comp. CASP. Mic. d. Mor. ss. 412, 444). Only once in Micah and Isaiah, and that in our passage, do the expressions occur; נָהַר בְּרֹאשׁ הֶהָרִים ,נָכוֹן ,באחרית הימים, confluere, נֵלְכָה בְאֹדְחֹתָיו ,יוֹרֵנוּ מִדְּרָכָיִו, At most נִשָּׂא and the use of רַבִּים and עֲצוּמִים remind us of Isaiah’s style. But it is to be considered that owing to the difference in the size of the books, a single occurrence in Micah has relatively much more weight in settling the usus loquendi.
Isa 2:2. This beginning of the discourse with וְהָיָה is unexampled. As is well known, several books begin with וַיְהִי, (Josh., Judges, 1 Sam., 2 Sam., Ezek., Jonah, Neh.). But nowhere except here does והיה stand at the beginning of a discourse without a point of support given in what precedes. We recognize in that, as shown above, a proof that Isaiah took the words, Isa 2:2–4, from Mic. 4:1–4 as the basis of his discourse. Unmoved, fixed‘ Such is the meaning of נָכוֹן, comp. בַּיִת נָכוֹן ,כִּסֵּא נָכוֹן 2 Sam. 7:16, 26; 1 Kings 2:45; Ps. 93:2. נָהַר is probably denom. from נָהָר, and does not occur again in Isaiah in the sense of “flowing.” For וְנָהַרְתְּ 60:5, comes from another root, kindred to נוּר, comp. Ps. 34:6. The word occurs in Jer. 31:12; 51:44, with the meaning of “flowing, streaming,” but also only in regard to nations.
Isa 2:4. שָׁפַט with בֵּין is found again in Isa. only 5:3. הוֹכִיחַ is a juridical term as well as שָׁפַט. The fundamental meaning is “εὐθύνω,” “make right, straight,” and corresponds to our “richten und sclichten.” Comp. 11:3, 4. In the latter place we find the construction with לְ (direct causative Hiphil). Comp. Job 16:21; 9:33; Gen. 31:37. אִתִּים, which, as already remarked, excepting here occurs only Mic. 4:3 and Joel 4:10. is, doubtless, radically related to אֵתים ,אֵת, which occurs 1 Sam. 13:20, 21. The first the LXX translate in all cases by ἄροτρα, the VULGATE by aratra (in Joel) or vomeres (in Isa. and Mich.); the latter the LXX translates σκεῦος, VULGATE, ligo. It is uncertain whether the distinction between אֵתִים and אִתִּים is only to be referred to the Masoretic pointing, or to a real etymological difference. In the latter case it is not agreed whether the roots of the words in question are עוּט–אוּת, from which עֵט, style, “engrave, draw,” thence אוֹת ,אֵת, not. acc., or אָנָה, from which on the one hand, is אֳנִי, ship=σκεῦος on the other hand את ,אֵנֶת, or still another root.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. At the end of days shall the mountain of the house of Jehovah be higher than all mountains, and all peoples shall flow to it, (Isa 2:2). They shall encourage themselves to walk thither in order to be instructed in the law of Jehovah. For the law going forth from Zion shall be acknowledged as the right lamp of truth (Isa 2:3). Then shall all strife among nations be decided by the application of this law, and therefore, so to speak, by the Lord Himself, so that there shall be no more war, but rather weapons of war, and warlike exercises, shall cease.
2. And it shall come to pass … from Jerusalem.
Isa 2:2, 3. אחרית הימים, last days, which Isaiah never uses, is a relative conception, but always of eschatological significance, whence the LXX correctly translate it by “ἐν ταῖς ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις,” or by “ἐπ’ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν,” or by “ἐπ’ ἐσχάτων τῶν ἡμερῶν.” It is therefore not = in the time following, but = in the last time. Yet it is to be remarked herewith, that, as OEHLER says: “Also the nearer future is set in the light of the last development of the divine kingdom.” Comp. the admirable exposition of this by OEHLER, HERZOG’SR. Encycl. XVII. S. 653.—In this last time now shall the mountain of the house of Jehovah (comp. Mic. 3:12) for all time stand unmoved on the top of the mountains, and be exalted above all hills. The mountains are the protuberances of the earth, in which, so to speak, is embodied its effort upwards, its longing after heaven. Hence the mountains also appear especially adapted as places for the revelation of divinity, and as places of worship for men adoring the divinity. (What is great generally, in contrast with little human works, is conceived of as divine work, compare הַרְרֵי־אֵלPs. 36:7; 68:16, אַרְזֵ־אֵלPs. 80:11, עִיר גְדֹלָה לֵאלֹהִיםJonah 3:3). But there are mountains of God in a narrower sense; thus Horeb is called Mount of God, Exod. 3:1; 18:5; and Sinai, Num. 10:33. But above all the mountain of the temple, to which per synecdochen the name of Zion is given, is called the “Mount of God,” the “holy mountain of God,” Ps. 2:6; 3:5; 24:3, etc.;Jer. 31:23; Joel 2:1; 3:17, etc. But the idols compete with the Holy God for possession of the mountains. For the high places of the mountains are also consecrated by preference to their worship, so that Israel is often reproached with practising fornication with the idols on every high mountain, 1 Ki. 14:23; 2 Ki. 17:10; Isa. 57:7; 65:7; Jer. 2:20; 3:6; 17:2; 50:6; Ezek. 6:2, 3; Hos. 4:13. But the Scripture recognizes still another rivalry between the mountains. Ps. 68:16 speaks of the basalt mountains of Bashan with their many pinnacles that look down superciliously upon the lowly and inconsiderable Mount Zion. All these rivalries shall come to an end. It is debated, how does the prophet conceive of the exalting of Mount Zion over the others? Many have supposed he conceives of Mount Zion as piled up over the others, (aliis montibus veluti superimpositum,VITR.), or thus, that “the high places run together toward it, which thus towers over them, seem to bear it on their heads” (HOFMANN,Weisz. u. Erf. II. p. 101). But, comparing other passages, it seems to me probable that Isaiah would say: there will be in general no mountain on earth except Mount Zion alone. All will have become plain; only the mount of God shall be still a mountain. One God, one mountain. If, for example, we consider the words below, Isa 2:12–17 the prophet says there that divine judgment shall go forth upon all that is high in the world, and all human loftiness shall be humbled, that “the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.” Just so, too, we read 40:4, “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain.” When hills and vallies disappear, the land becomes even. To be sure, it seems as if 40 treats only of a level road for the approaching king. But this level road is prepared for the Lord precisely and only thereby, that in all the land, all high places shall disappear upon which idols could be worshipped. Zechariah expresses still more clearly the thought that the sole dominion of the Lord is conditioned on the restoration of a complete plain in the land. He says, 14:9, 10. “And the LORD shall be king over all the land; in that day shall be oneLORD, and His name one. All the land shall turn to lowness from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem; But this itself shall be lifted up, and shall abide in its place,” etc. It may be objected to this explanation that 2:2, the presence of mountains and hills is in fact presupposed, because it says, “at the top of the mountains,” and “higher than the hills.” But must the prophets in the places cited above, have thought of the restoration of a plain in a mathematical sense? Certainly not. The notion of a plain is relative. There shall, indeed, remain therefore, mountains and hills, but in comparison with the mountain of the Lord, they shall no more deserve these names; they shall appear as plains.
From this results that בראשׁ is not=upon the head (this must be expressed by עַל רֹאשׁ, comp. Exod. 34:2. 1 Sam. 26:13; Isa. 30:17) but=at the top or head (comp. Am. 6:7; Deut. 20:9; 1 Sam. 9:22; 1 Kings 21:9, 12). This latter however, cannot mean that the mountain of the Lord shall have the other mountains behind it, but under itself. Without doubt “the mountain of the house of the Lord,” and the הַר מְרוֹם יִשְׂרָאֵל and הַר גַּבֹהּ of Ezekiel are identical, (Ezek. 17:22 sq.; 20:40, 34:14; 40:2).
This high mountain shall be exactly the opposite of that “tower whose top may reach unto heaven” Gen. 11:4, which, being a self-willed structure by die hands of insolent men, separated mankind. For our divine mountain, a work of God, reunites mankind again. They all see it in its glory that is radiant over all things, and recognize it not only as the source of their salvation, but also as the centre of their unity. Therefore they flow from all sides to it. These “Many people,” i.e., countless nations, which are essentially the same as the “all nations” mentioned before, shall mutually encourage one another “to go up,” (the solemn word for religious journies, comp. CASPARI,Micha, p. 140), for which a fourfold object is named: the mountain of Jehovah; on the mountain the house of the God of Jacob; in the house the instruction out of the ways of God (the ways of God are conceived of as the source of the instruction, comp. 47:13; Ps. 94:12); and, in consequence of this instruction, the walking in the paths of God. Only the words from “Come ye” to “his paths” contain the language of the nations. The following phrase “for out of Zion,” gives the reason that shall determine the nations to such discourse and conduct. תּוֹרָה, law, is neither the (Sinaitic) law, for it must then read חַתּוֹרָה, nor the law of the king ruling in Zion. For what goes forth from Zion is just what the nations seek. They do not seek a political chief, however, but one that will teach them the truth, תּוֹרָה is therefore to be taken in the sense of the preceding יֹרֵנוּ, he will teach us. It is therefore primarily doctrine, instruction in general, but which immediately is limited as דְּבָד י׳word of the Jehovah. But shall the nations, turn toward Zion only because “law” goes forth from thence? Did not then, even in the Prophet’s time and before that, law go out from Zion; and did the nations let themselves be determined by that to migrate to Zion? We shall then need to construe “law” and “word of the Lord” in a pregnant sense: that which deserves the name of divine doctrine in the highest and completest sense, therefore the absolute doctrine, which alone truly satisfies and therefore also irresistibly draws all men. This doctrine, i.e., the gospel of Jesus Christ is, true enough, gone forth out of Jerusalem, and may be called the Zionitic Tora, in contrast with the Sinaitic. (Comp. DELITZSCHin loc.). Therefore that “preaching repentance and remission of sins in the name of Christ to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem,” Luke 24:47, is the beginning of the fulfilment of our prophecy. Comp. Zech. 8:20 sqq.
3. And he shall judge—learn war any more.
Isa 2:4. The consequences of this divine instruction, sought and received by the nations, shall be, that the nations shall order their affairs and compose their judicial processes according to the mind of him that has taught them. So shall God appear as that one who judges between the nations and awards a (judicial) sentence. The Spirit of God that lives in His word is a Spirit of love and of peace. The God of peace sanctifies, therefore, the nations through and through (1 Thess. 5:23) so that they no more confront one another in the sense and spirit of the brute power of this world, but in the mind and spirit of the Kingdom of God. They are altogether children of God, brothers, and are become one great family. War ceases; the implements of war become superfluous; they shall be forged over into the instruments of peace. The exercises at arms, by which men in peace prepare for war, fall of themselves away. The meaning “plowshare” evidently corresponds best to the context, in which the contrast between agriculture and war is the fundamental idea; at the same time it may be remarked that a scythe, mattock, or hoe, does not need to be forged over again to serve for arms, Joel 3:10.—The מַזְמֵרָה (18:5) is the vine-dresser’s knife. A lance head may easily be made out of it. It is remarkable, that excepting this place, Isaiah, who speaks so much of war, uses, none of the words that in Hebrew mean “spear, lance.”
As regards the fulfilling of our prophecy, the Prophet himself says that it shall follow in the last time. If it now began a long time ago; if especially the appearance of the Lord in the flesh, and the founding of His kingdom and the preaching of the gospel among all nations be an element of that fulfilment, yet it is by no means a closed up transaction. What it shall yet bring about we know not. If many, especially Jewish expositors have taken the words too coarsely, and outwardly, so, on the other hand, we must guard against a one-sided spiritualizing. Certainly the prophets do not think of heaven. Plows and pruning hooks have as little to do with heaven, as swords and spears. And what has the high place of Mount Zion to do in heaven? Therefore our passage speaks for the view that one time, and that, too, here on this earth, the Lord shall appropriate the kingdom, (60:21; Matt. 5:5), suppress the world kingdoms and bring about a condition of peace and glory. That then what is outward shall conform to what is inward, is certain, even though we must confess our ignorance in regard to the ways and means of the realization in particulars.
[Regarding the question of 2:2–4 being original to Isa. or Micah, J. A. ALEXANDER says: “The verbal variations may be best explained, however, by supposing that they both adopted a traditional prediction current among the people in their day, or, that both received the words directly from the Holy Spirit. So long as we have reason to regard both places as authentic and inspired, it matters little what is the literary history of either.”
BARNES says: “But there is no improbability in supposing that Isa., may have availed himself of language, used by Micah in describing the same event.”
At Isa 2:2. “Instead of saying, in modern phraseology, that the church, as a society, shall become conspicuous and attract all nations, he represents the mountain upon which the temple stood as being raised and fixed above the other mountains, so as to be visible in all directions.”—J. A. A.
Isa 2:4. “VOLNEY states that the Syrian plow is often nothing but the branch of a tree, cut below a bifurcation, and used without wheels. The plowshare is a piece of iron, broad but not large, which tips the end of the shaft. So much does it resemble the short sword used by the ancient warriors, that it may with very little trouble, be converted into that deadly weapon; and when the work of destruction is over, reduced again to its former shape.”—BARNES.]
[So we have seen it—ploughing on Mount Zion.—M. W. J.]
O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.2. THE FALSE EMINENT THINGS AND THEIR ABASEMENT IN GENERAL
5 O house of Jacob, come ye,
And let us walk in the light of the LORD.
6 Therefore thou hast6 forsaken thy people the house of Jacob,
Because they be replenished7from the East,
And are soothsayers like the Philistines,
And they 8 9please themselves in the children of strangers.
7 Their land also is full of silver and gold,
Neither is there any end of their treasures;
Their land is also full of horses,
Neither is there any end of their chariots:
8 Their land also is full of idols;
They worship the work of their own hands,
That which their own fingers have made;
9 And 10the mean man boweth down,
And 11the great man humbleth himself:
12Therefore forgive them not.
10 Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust,
For fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty.
11 The lofty looks of man shall be humbled,
And the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down,
And the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Isa 2:5. לְכוּ and וְנֵֽלְכָה, Come, and we will walk, are taken from Isa 2:3, and בְּאוֹר י׳ not only reminds of וְיוֹרֵנוּ, Isa 2:3, but one is almost tempted to believe that בְּאוֹר י׳ Isa 2:3 is an echo of בְּא̇רְחֹתָיו, which, Isa 2:3, follows וְנֵֽלְכָה. And if the words are compared that in Mich. follow the borrowed verses 4:1–3; (“For all people will walk every one in the name of his God, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.” Isa 2:5) it will be seen that these words, too, floated before Isaiah’s mind. Grammatically there is nothing to object to the view of the comment below. For נֵֽלְכָה בְּאוֹר may just as well mean eamus in lucem, as in luce, let us walk into the light, as in the light. And if the words of Isa 2:2 and 3 that sound alike are not taken in quite the same meaning, I would ask: are they then identical? And if they were identical, must then the בְּאֹרְחוֹת י׳ לֶכֶת (that must, according to Isa 2:3, occur in the last time) be the same with לֶכֶת בְּאוֹר י׳ that the Prophet imposes as a duty o n the Israel of the present?
Isa 2:6. נָטַשׁ stands very commonly in the sense of repudiate: Judg. 6:1; 1 Sam. 12:22; 1 Kings 8:57; Ps. 27:9; 94:14; Jer. 7:29; Ezek. 29:5; 32:4. But especially the notion of נָטַשׁ appears significantly as contents of the “burden of Jehovah,” and probably with reference to our passage; Jer. 23:33; comp. 12:7 and 2 Kings 21:14. In many of these places עָזַב stands parallel with נָטַשׁ. From that, and from the impossibility of taking דֶּרֶךְ עַם—עַם, way, fashion of the people, nationality, the inaccuracy appears of the explanation given by SAADIA, TARG., J. D. MICHAELIS and others: “thou hast abandoned thy nationality.” מלאו מקדם, according to the comment below is particularly to be maintained as the correct reading. Thus both the conjecture of BRENZ and BÖTTCHER (Exeg. Krit. Æhrenlese, p. 29) מִקְסָם (comp. Ezek. 12:24; 13:7), and that of GESENIUS (in his Thesau, s. v. קֶדֶם, p. 1193, though in his commentary he declares for the text). מִקֶּסֶם (comp. Jer. 14:14; Ezek. 13:6, 23) are needless. Also the signification of old translations (ὡς τὸ ἀπ’ ἆρχῆς,LXX., ut olim, VULG., ut antea, PESCHIT., sicut ab initio, Targ., Jon.) is incorrect, because the insertion of the particle of comparison and the leaving out of account the וְ before עֹנְנִים are arbitrary. DRECHSLER has justly called attention to the fact that מָלֵא with מִן never means the same as מָלֵא with the accusative. For the first does not so much name the matter with which one is filled as the source, the fund, the provision out of which the matter is drawn. Thus e.g. Exod. 16:32, מְלֹא הָֹעמֶר מִמֶּנּוּ is not: imple mesuram eo, but ex eo, i.e., fill the omer with the proper quantity taken from the whole mass. Comp. Lev. 9:17; Jer. 51:34; Ezek. 32:6; Ps. 127:5. It is different Eccl. 1:8. עֹנְנִים, (Lev. 19:26; Isa. 57:3; Jer. 27:9; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chron. 33:6) or מְעֹנְנִים (Deut. 18:10, 14; Mic. 5:11) according to the context of the passages cited, are places of magicians or diviners. For the word stands parallel with כִּשֵּׁף sometimes, and sometimes with נחשׁ, as, then, in substance both are nearly related. But the fundamental meaning is doubtful. FLEISCHER in a note in DELITZSCH in loc. controverts the fundamental meaning maintained by FUERST, “tecta, arcana faciens,” and also the derivation from עַיִן (oculo maligno fascinans), and would derive it either from עָנָן, cloud (weathermaker), or from the Arabic root anna (coercere, stop by magic).—As regards the construction, DRECHSLER has remarked that the absence of הֵם must occasion no surprise. The verb ישׂפיקו in this sentence causes no little trouble. שָׂפַק occurs in only three places in the Old Testament: Job 27:23; 1 Kings 20:10 and here. Beside that there is also the noun שֶׂפֶק (סֶפֶק) Job 20:22; 36:18.—Job 27:23 we read the words יִשְׂפֹּק עָלֵימוֹ כַפֵּימוֹ. Here evidently שָׂפַק=סָפַק which often occurs for clapping the hands together, or for slapping on the thigh: Num. 24:10; Lam. 2:15; Jer. 31:19; Ezek. 21:17. But 1 Kings 20:10, the king Ben-Hadad of Syria says: “The gods do so unto me and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice (יִשְׂפֹּק) for handfuls for all the people that follow me.” And with this agrees also the Aramaic ספֲק redundare, and the הִשְׂפִּיק “superfluere, satis esse” of the late Hebrew.—Also in regard to the substantive שֶׂפֶק the same division of meaning occurs. For while Job 20:22 the context requires the meaning “abundantia,” opinions vary a great deal in regard to Job 36:18. Still to me the weight of reason seems on the side of the meaning “explosio,” (disapproval, insult by hand clapping, comp. Job 34:26, 27). And the explanations of our passage divide into two classes, in that the one bring out the fundamental idea of striking, the other that of superabundance, but each variously modified. The Hiphil occurs only here. It is to be construed in a direct causative sense (complosionem facere).
Isa 2:7. קֵצֶה always with וְאֵין only here and Neh. 2:10; 3:3, 9.
Isa 2:8. אֱלִילִים from אַל with intentional like sound to אֱלֹהִים ,אֵל, comp. Zech. 11:17; Jer. 14:14; Isa. 2:18, 20; 10:10 sq.; 19:1, 3; 31:7. The singular suffix in ידיו and אצבעתיו is to be noticed in grammatical respects. Expositors correctly construe the suffixes as distributive. Comp. 5:23 concerning the ideal number.
Isa 2:9. At first sight the explanation (adopted, e.g., by LUTHER), commends itself, that takes the verbs ישׁח and ישׁפל as descriptive of the voluntary homage that the Israelites rendered to the great things depicted verse 7 sq. It appears to belong to the completeness of the mournful picture that the Prophet draws here of the condition of Israel, that also that recognition should be mentioned which those great things named, Isa 2:7, 8, received at their hands. Moreover the similarity of construction seems to point to a continuation of that strain of complaint against Israel already begun. Indeed the second half of Isa 2:9 “and forgive them not,” seems to form the fitting transition to the announcement of judgment, whereas these words, if the announcement of judpment begins with 9 a already, seem to be an ὕστερον πρότερον. That שׁחח and שׁפל in what follows (Isa 2:11, 12, 17) and especially 5:15, are used for involuntary humiliation would be no objection, in as much as a contrast might be intended. Nevertheless I decide in favor of the meaning approved by all recent expositors, viz., involuntary bowing. What determines me is, first, that already Isa 2:8 b speaks of the voluntary bowing to idols. Had the prophet meant to emphasize, not simply this, but also the bowing before the idols of riches and power, he would surely have joined both in a different fashion than happens if Isa 2:9 a is referred to Isa 2:7. And then Isaiah must have said: ואֲתָּה אַל ת׳, but thou forgive them not. That the antithesis is not marked in Isa 2:9 b, is proof that none exists. But then in this case Isa 2:9 a itself must contain a threatening of judgment. It is no objection to this that it is expressed in narrative form with the vav. consecutivum; comp. DRECHSLER in loc. Isa 2:9 b is then not antithesis but explanatory continuation. אַל must then be taken in the weaker signification of לֹא. Comp. 2 Kings 6:27.—אָדָם and אִישׁ (comp. 5:15; 31:8; Ps. 49:3; Prov. 8:4) form only a rhetorical, not a logical antithesis. It is not = mean and great, but—all and every. The idea of “man” is only for the sake of parallelism expressed by two synonymous words. Comp. Isa 2:11. After תִּשָּׂא must עָוֹן be supplied, comp. Gen. 18:24, 26; Hos. 1:6, coll. Isa. 33:24.
Isa 2:10. פחד י׳ genitive of the object, comp. 1 Sam. 11:7; 2 Chr. 14:13; 17:10 and below Isa 2:19 and 21. הדר גאון only here.
Isa 2:11. גבהות only here and Isa 2:17. רוּם in Isaiah only here and Isa 2:17, and 10:12. The singular שָׁפֵל is explained in that גבהות is the main idea. Comp. 5:15. שָׁפֵל, a common word with Isaiah (Isa 2:9, 11, 12, 17; 5:15; 40:4, etc.) is verb, not adjective, for the latter is שָׁפָל. The same ramark obtains in reference to אדם and אנשׁים that was made Isa 2:9 concerning אדם and אישׁ.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. The Prophet’s glance has penetrated into the farthest future. There he gazes on the glory of Jehovah and his people. In the words of his fellow prophet Micah, to whom he thereby extends the hand of recognition and joins himself, he portrays how highly exalted then the Lord and His people shall be. That is the true eminence to which Israel is destined, and after which it ought to strive. But what a chasm between that which Israel shall be and what it actually is!
The Prophet calls on the people to set themselves in the light of that word of promise, that promise of glory (Isa 2:5). What a sad picture of the present reveals itself! The people in that glorious picture of the future, so one with its God that it does not at all appear in an independent guise, appears in the present forsaken of God, for it has yielded itself entirely to the influences of the world from the East and West, and all sides (Isa 2:6). In consequence of this, much that is high and great has, indeed, towered up in the midst of them. But this highness consists only of gold and silver, wagons and horses, and dead idols made by men (Isa 2:7–8). For that, in the day of judgment, they shall be bowed down so much the lower and obtain no pardon (Isa 2:9). For in that day they must creep into clefts in the rocks and holes in the ground, before the terrible appearance of Jehovah (Isa 2:10), and then shall every false, earthly eminence be cast down, that Jehovah alone may appear as the high one (5:11).
2. O house of Jacob—light of the Lord.
Isa 2:5. “House of Jacob,” so the Prophet addresses the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem (Isa 2:1), in that he connects what he says in this address, and in the second half of the verse with the prophetic address uttered in what precedes, in which (Isa 2:3) the temple was named “the house of the God of Jacob.” The expression “house of Jacob” for Israel is besides frequent in Isa. 8:17; 10:20; 14:1; 29:22; 46:3; 48:1; 58:1.—As the Prophet at once expresses what he has to say to the house of Jacob in words that are taken from the prophecy that precedes, he intimates what use he intends to make of these words.
Expositors understand, אוֹר י׳ partly of the favor and grace of the Lord (for which otherwise often אוֹר־פְּנֵי י׳Ps. 89:16; 4:7; 36:10), partly of the instruction through the law of the Lord (lux Jehovæ lex Dei,VITR.). But neither the one nor the other meaning seems to me to suit the context. For in what follows there is neither a promise of divine grace, nor exhortation to holy walk. I am therefore of the opinion, that the prophet by “light of Jehovah,” understands that light which Jehovah Himself extends to the people by the prophetic word that just precedes. In the light of that word ought Israel to set its present history. The Prophet shows, in what follows, how infinitely distant the present Israel is from the ideal that, Isa 2:2–4, he has shown, and which shall be the destiny of this degenerate Israel in “the last time.” Now if Israel will apply the measure of that future to its present, it may escape the judgment of the last time. On this account the Prophet summons his people to set themselves in the “light of Jehovah.”
3. Therefore thou hast—strangers, Isa 2:6. The words “thou hast repelled thy people” seem to me to indicate the fundamental thought of the whole address to the end of Chap. 5. From Isa 2:2–4, where Jehovah is named the God of Jacob, and Zion the place where God’s word shines so gloriously that all nations assemble to this shining, it is seen that Israel in this last time shall live in most intimate harmony with its God. That it is not so now he proceeds to describe. For God has repudiated His people. Jehovah, however, has not arbitrarily repudiated His people. He could do no otherwise. For the nation had forsaken Him, had abandoned itself to the spirit of the world. They accorded admittance to every influence that pressed on them from East and West. Such is the sense of the following words. “From the east,” means primarily, indeed, those parts of Arabia bordering on Palestine (Judg. 6:3, 33; 7:12; 8:10), but here, in contrast with Philistines, it signifies the lands generally that lie east of Palestine. That destructive influences, especially of a religious kind, proceeded from these lands to Israel, appears from the instance of Baal-Peor (Num. 25:3; Deut. 4:3), and of Chemosh (1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 23:13) of the Moabites, and Milcom of the Ammonites (1 Kings 11:5, 7) the altar in Damascus (2 Kings 16:10), and the star worship of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:5; Jer. 7:18; 44:17 sqq.; Ezek. 8:16). But DRECHSLER,in loc, has proved that not only religious influences, but also social culture of every sort penetrated Israel from the East (comp. on 3:18 sqq.; 1 Kings 5:10; 10:1–15; 11:1 sq. If, then, we translate “for they are full from the East,” we would thereby indicate the Prophet’s meaning to be that Israel has drawn from the Orient that of which it is full, in the sense of intellectual nourishment. But the West, too, exercised its destructive influences. The Philistines are named, as representatives of it, and especially they are indicated as Israel’s examples and teachers in witchcraft. It is true that we have no express historical evidence that the Philistines were especially given to witchcraft. Yet 1 Sam. 6:2 mentions their “diviners,” and 2 Kings 1:2, refers to the sanctuary of Baalzebub at Ekron, as a celebrated oracle.
And in the children,etc. Excepting TARG. JONATHAN (et in legibus populorum ambulant) all the ancient versions find in our passage a accusation of sexual transgression. The LXX, PESCHIT, and Ar. understand the words to refer to intercourse of Jewish men or women with the heathen, and the generation of theocratic illegitimate posterity. JEROME, however, understands the “et pueris alienis adhœserunt” of Pederasty, as he expressly says in his commentary. The translation of SYMMACHUS, too, which JEROME quotes, “et cum filiis alienis applauserunt,” is to be understood in the same sense. For JEROME remarks expressly: “Symmachus quodam circuitu et honesto sermone plaudentium eandem cum pueris turpitudinem demonstravit.” GESENIUS in his Commentary p. 18 has overlooked this. It is seen that LXX. (τέκνα πολλὰ ἀλλόφυλα ἑγενήθη αὐτοῖς), PESCHIT. (plurimos exterorum filios educarunt), Arab. (nati sunt eis filii exteri permulti) have found the notion of “fulness, superfluity” in ישּפיקו. But JEROME and the Hebrew scholars that after him translate ἑσφηνώθησαν (wedging oneself in, in an obscene sense) proceed evidently from the fundamental meaning “striking.” The later expositors divide into these two classes. Still the majority decide in favor of the meaning, “striking into, i.e., the hand, as sign of making a covenant,” and refer to the construction פָּגַע בְּ (Gen. 32:2; Josh. 16:7; 17:10, etc.), to illustrate the construction with בְּ here. Still better is it to compare the construction with בְּ of the verbs, בָּחַד ,אָחַז ,הֶֽחֱזִיק ,דָּבָק ,נָגַיע. are the children of strangers (Psalm 18:45, sq.; Isaiah 60:10, etc.), with only the difference that in ילדי נ the idea of a profane birth is more prominent. The expression is to be understood as generally comprehensive of the eastern and western nations named immediately before, word יֶלֶד itself, it occurs not seldom in Isa. 9:5; 8:18; 11:7; 29:23; 57:4, 5.
4. Their land—have made.
Isa 2:7, 8. Neither the having abundance of children of strangers (Ew.), nor the contenting oneself with such (DRECHSLER) explains to us why the land of Jacob was full of silver and gold, of horses and wagons. But it is very easily explained if Israel had treaties and a lively commerce with foreign nations. But this was contrary to the law and the covenant of Jehovah. For according to that Israel should be a separate people from all other nations: “And ye shall be holy unto Me; for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be Mine.” Lev. 20:26. Commerce with the world, of course, brought the Israelites material gain, in gold and silver, horses and wagons, so that, in fact, there was a superfluity of these in the land. But by this growth in riches and power the divine prohibition (Deut. 17:17,) was transgressed. It is plain enough now how necessary this prohibition was. For with the treasures of this world the idols of this world are drawn in. This prohibition would guard against that, for the subtile idolatry of riches and power would serve as a bridge to coarser idolatry, because it turns the heart away from the true God, and thereby opens a free ingress to the false gods. Thus is Israel, in consequence of that being full, of which Isa 2:6 speaks, also outwardly become full of that which passes for great and glorious in the world. But, regarded in the light of Jehovah, this is a false eminence. On the subject matter comp. Mich. 5:9 sqq.
5. Enter into—in that day.
Isa 2:10 and 11. These words stand in an artistic double relation. First, they relate to what precedes (Isa 2:9) as specification. Second, to what follows (as far as 3:26) as a summary of the contents. For the brief words of Isa 2:9 express only in quite a general way the human abasement, and indicate the sole majesty of Jehovah only by ascribing to Him the royal right of pardon. These words are now in both these particulars more nearly determined in Isa 2:10 and 11. With dramatic animation the prophet summons men, in view of the terror that Jehovah prepares, and before the majestic appearance of His glory, to creep into the clefts of the rocks, and rock chasms (comp. Isa 2:19 and Isa 2:21), and in the depths of the dust i.e., holes or caves in the earth, (comp. Isa 2:19). The terror, therefore, shall be like that which spreads before an overpowering invasion of an enemy (Judg. 6:2; 1 Sam. 13:6). Then shall the lofty eye be cast down and,—which is the reason for the former—all human highness shall be humiliated. Jehovah alone shall be high in that day, just as all mountains shall have disappeared before the mountain of Jehovah (Isa 2:2). It will immediately appear that the matter of both these verses shall be more exactly detailed in what follows.
[Isa 2:5. “From this distant prospect of the calling of the gentiles, the Prophet now reverts to his own times and countrymen, and calls upon them not to be behind the nations in the use of their distinguishing advantages. If the heathen were one day to be enlightened, surely they who were already in possession of the light ought to make use of it.” “In the light of Jehovah; (in the path of truth and duty upon which the light of revelation shines). The light is mentioned as a common designation of the Scriptures and of Christ Himself.” (Prov. 6:23; Ps. 119:105; Isa. 51:4; Acts 26:23; 2 Cor. 4:4). J. A. A.
Isa 2:6c. And with the children of strangers they abound.—The last verb does not mean they please themselves, but they abound.—Children of strangers.—Means strangers themselves,—foreigners considered as descendents of a strange stock and therefore alien from the commonwealth, of Israel.”—J. A. A. [See comment on 1:4בָּנִים מַשְׁחִיתִים——TR.]
Isa 2:7. “The common interpretation makes this verse descriptive of domestic wealth and luxury. But these would hardly have be en placed between the superstitions and the idols, with which Judah had been flooded from abroad. Besides, this interpretation fails to account for gold and silver being here combined with horses and chariots.—But on the supposition that the verse has reference to undue dependence upon foreign powers, the money and the armies of the latter would be naturally named together.—The form of expression, too, suggests the idea of a recent acquisition, as the strict sense of the verb is, not it is full, nor even it is filled, but it was, or has been filled.”—J. A. A.
Isa 2:9. “They who bowed themselves to idols should be bowed down by the mighty hand of God, instead of being raised up from their wilful self-abasement by the pardon of their sins. The relative futures denote, not only succession in time, but the relation of cause and effect.”—J. A. A.
Isa 2:10. And hide thee in the dust. “May there not be reference here to the mode prevailing in the East of avoiding the Monsoon, or poisonous heated wind that passes over the desert? Travelers there, in order to be safe, are obliged to throw themselves down, and to place their mouths close to the earth until it has passed.”—BARNES.]
Or, more than the East.
Or, abound with the children, etc.
make covenant with foreign born.
a man is bowed down.
And thou wilt not forgive them.
For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:a. The judgment against the things falsely eminent in the sub-human and superhuman spheres
12 13For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be
Upon every one that is proud and lofty,
And upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:
13 And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up,
And upon all the oaks of Bashan,
14 And upon all the high mountains,
And upon all the hills that are lifted up,
15 And upon every high tower,
And upon every fenced wall,
16 And upon all the ships of Tarshish,
And upon all 1415pleasant pictures.
17 And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down,
And the haughtiness of men shall be made low:
And the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.
18 And the idols 16he shall utterly abolish.
19 And they shall go into the holes of the rocks,
And into the caves of 17the earth,
For fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty,
When he arises to shake terribly the earth.
20 In that day a man shall cast 18his idols of silver, and his idols of gold,
19Which they made each one for himself to worship,
To the moles and to the bats;
21 To go into the clefts of the rocks,
And into the 20tops of the ragged rocks,
For fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty,
When he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Isa 2:12. גֵאֶה in Isaiah only here. רָם is often found: Isa 2:13, 14; 6:1; 10:33; 57:15. On נִשָּׂא comp. above Isa 2:2.—ושפל is to be construed as future, since כי יום לי׳ must be regarded as a determination of time that points to the future.
Isa 2:16. שׂכיות is ἅπ. λεγ. It comes from שָׂכָה certainly, which, although unused itself, is kindred to שָׁעָה, to behold, is only now identified in the substantive מַשְׂכִּית. According to this etymology שְׂכִיָה must mean θέαμα, show piece, thus every work of art that is fitted to gratify the beholder’s eye.
Isa 2:18. I do not deny that אלילים is taken as ideal singular, and may accordingly be joined to the predicate in the singular. But then כָּלִיל must be taken as adverb. Yet wherever this word occurs (only this once in Isa.; comp. Lev. 6:15 sq.; Deut. 13:17; 33:10; Judg. 20:40; 1 Sam. 7:9; Ezek. 16:14. etc.) it is adjective or substantive: entire or entirety. I agree therefore with MAURER, who takes והאלילים as casus absolutus put before, and כָּלִיל as subject: et idola (quod attinet, eorum) universitas peribit.—The fundamental meaning of חָלַף seems to me to be “to change.” Out of that develope the apparently opposite meanings “revirescere” (Ps. 90:6; Job 14:7; Isa. 9:9; 40:31; 41:1) and “transire, prœterire, perire” (Isa. 8:8; 21:1; Ps. 102:27). The last is proper here.
Isa 2:19. מְעָרָה (in Isaiah again 32:14) is the natural rock caves, מְחִלָּה (ἅπ. λεγ., comp. חַלּוֹן ,חָלִיל) is the cave hewn out by art Notice the paronomasia in לערץ הארץ.
Isa 2:20. The Prophet might have written here and 30:22; 31:7, אֱלִילָיו כֶּסֶף ו׳, his idols of silver. But he has chosen the common construction, which rests on this, that nomen rectum and nomen regens are construed as one notion, and thus in some measure as one word.—If לוֹ after עָשׂוּ is taken in a reflexive sense, the enallage numeri would certainly be very strong. Therefore most expositors justly regard the artificers as subject of עַשׂוּ.—The words לחפר פרות, as they stand, can only present an infinitive with the prefix, and object following, for there is no noun חֲפֹר. But an infinitive does not suit here, and besides there is no noun פֵּרָה. Therefore the rendering “hole of the mice,” for which expositors have gone to the Arabic, is only an arbitrary one. Evidently the Masoretes, according to the analogy of בְּקַח־קוֹחַ, 61:1, and יְפֵה־פִיָה Jer. 46:20 would separate what was to he united. We must then read לחפרפרות as one word. But how it is to be pointed is doubtful. According to the analogy of עֲקַלְקַלּוֹת ,יְרַקְרַקוֹת ,חֲלַקְלַקוֹת ,אְדַמְדַּמּוֹת, we might point it לַּחְפַּרְפָּרוֹת from a singular חֲפַרְפָּרָה. The meaning of this word can only be digger. But what sort of burrowing animal is meant, is doubtful. JEROME translated it talpa, mole. GESENIUS and KNOBEL object to that, that the mole does not live in houses: DRECHSLER that the Hebrew has another word for mole, i.e., חֹלֶד. But regarding the former, as DELITZSCH, remarks, the mole does, true enough, burrow under buildings, and in regard to the latter consideration of DRECHSLER, חֹלֶד also occurs only once (Lev. 11:29), and two words for one thing are not unusual in any language. Yet the foundation for a positive opinion is wanting.—עֲטַלֵּף is the bat (Lev. 11:19; Deut. 14:18).
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. With this section the Prophet begins his explication and specification of what he has previously Isa 2:9–11 said in general. That last time, Isa 2:2–4, which the Prophet described above in its glorious aspect for Israel, coincides with the time when the Lord shall sit in judgment on everything humanly high, that is hostile to Him. And even all impersonal things, thus creatures beneath man, on which, in proud arrogance, men put their trust, shall the Lord make small and reduce to nothing; the cedars of Lebanon, the oaks of Bashan, the high mountains and hills, the towers and walls, the ships of Tarshish, and all other pomp of human desire (Isa 2:12–16). All this shall be abased that the Lord alone may be high (Isa 2:17). But the same shall happen to the beings above men, viz.; to the idols (Isa 2:18). That is the idolaters shall hide themselves in terror before the manifestation of that Jehovah whom they have despised (Isa 2:19); they shall themselves cast their idols to the unclean beasts, in order, mindful only of their own preservation, to be able to creep into the hollows and crevices of the rocks. (21).
2. For the day—brought low.
Isa 2:12. The Prophet had used for the first time Isa 2:11 the expression “in that day” that afterwards occurs often (comp. 5:17, 20; 3:7, 18; 4:1, 2; 5:30). He points thereby to the time which he had before designated as “the last days.” Of course he does not mean that this last time shall comprehend only one day in the ordinary sense. The day that Isa., means is a prophetic day, for whose duration we must find a different measure than our human one. With the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. (2 Pet. 3:8; Ps. 90:4). But the chief concern is whether there is really such a day of the Lord. This the Prophet asserts most distinctly. For precisely because there is such a day (כִּיfor, Isa 2:12) Isaiah could Isa 2:17 refer to it. But this day is a day for Jehovah Sabaoth (comp. 1:9), or more correctly: Jehovah has such in preparation, so to speak, in sure keeping, so that, as soon as it pleases Him, He can produce it for His purpose (comp. 22:5; 34:8, and especially 63:4; Jer. 46:10; Ezek. 30:3). This day is a day of judgment, as already even the older prophets portray it: Joel 1:15; 2:1, 2, 11; 3:4; 4:14; Amos 5:18, 20. Obad. 15. Indeed the notion of judgment is so closely identified with “the day of Jehovah” that Isaiah in our text construes יוםa day directly as a word signifying “court of justice,” for he lets עַל depend on it. Once more in Isa 2:12, the notion of high and proud is generally expressed before (Isa 2:13) it is individualized.
3. And upon all—in that day.
Isa 2:13-17. The judgment of God must fall on all products of nature (Isa 2:13, 14), and upon human art (Isa 2:15, 16). It may be asked, how then have the products of nature, the trees and mountains become blameworthy? KNOBEL, to be sure, understands by the cedars houses made of cedar (comp. 2 Sam. 7:2, 7) and by oaks of Bashan houses of oak wood (Ezek. 27:6) such as Uzziah and Jotham constructed partly for fortifying the land, partly for pleasure, and by mountains and hills “the fastnesses that Jotham built in the mountains of Judah (2 Chr. 27:4).” But, though one might understand the cedars to mean houses of cedar, (for which, however, must not be cited 9:9; Nah. 2:4, but Jer. 22:23 comp. Isa. 60:13) still the mountains and hills can never mean “fortified places.” 2 Pet. 3:10, seems to me to afford the best commentary on our passage. As sure as מַלְאַךְ י׳angel of theLORD of the Old Testament, is identical with the ἄγγελος κυρίου of the New Testament so is also the יוֹם י׳, day of the Lord identical with the ἡμέρα κυρίου (1 Cor. 1:8; 1 Thess. 5:2, etc.). Now of this day of the Lord it is said, in the above passage in Peter, that in it, “the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” If now this last great day has its preliminaries, too, like, on the contrary, the revelation of glory Isa 2:2 sqq., has, then we are justified in regarding all degrees of God’s world-judging activity as parts of “the day of the Lord.” If then the prophet here names only the high mountains and the highest trees growing on them as representatives of nature, he evidently does so because it is his idea, according to the whole context, to make prominent that which is high in an earthly sense, especially what is wont to serve men as means of gratifying their lust of power and pomp. But the mountains and the trees on them could not be destroyed without the earth itself were destroyed. Therefore the high mountains and trees are only named as representatives of the entire terrestrial nature, of the γῆ as it is called by Peter, as also afterwards the towers, ships of Tarshish, etc., are only representative of the ἔργα, the human works, thus the productions of art. The oaks of Bashan, beside this place, are mentioned Ezek. 27:6; Zech. 11:2. A parallel is drawn between Lebanon and Bashan also 33:9; Jer. 22:20; Nah. 1:4.—High towers and strong walls were built by others as well as by Uzziah and Jotham; comp. 2 Chr. 14:7; 32:5, etc.—Tarshish is mentioned by Isaiah again: 23:1, 6, 10; 60:9; 66:19. It is now generally acknowledged that the locality lay in south Spain beyond the Pillars of Hercules. It is the Ταρτησσὸς Tartessus of the Greeks; not a city, likely, but the country that lay at the mouth of the Bætis (Guadalquiver): comp. HERZOG,R. Encycl. XV. p. 684. Ships of Tarshish are thus large ships fitted for distant and dangerous voyages (Jon. 1:3; 4:2; 1 Kings 10:22; 22:49; Ps. 48:8). All this must be destroyed and so must the arrogance of men be humbled, that Jehovah alone may be high in that day. So the prophet repeats, with some modification, the words of Isa 2:11, to prove that the specifications just given are only meant as the amplification of that general thought expressed in Isa 2:9. For these verses 12–16, refer as much back to Isa 2:9 as do Isa 2:18 sqq., (especially Isa 2:18, 21,) to Isa 2:10a.
4. And the idols—the earth.
Isa 2:17-21. The judgment against the sub-human creatures is followed by that against the superhuman, the idols. As verses 13–16 refer back to Isa 2:7, so Isa 2:18 sqq., does to Isa 2:8.
But the judgment against the idols is most notably accomplished when the worshippers of idols, now visited by the despised, true God, in all His terrible reality, see themselves the nothingness of their idols and cast them away in contempt. Jehovah appears in the awful pomp of His majesty. If the gods were anything, then they would now appear and shield their followers. But, just because they are אֱלִילִיםnothings; they cannot do it. We see from this that the “enter into the rock and hide thee in the dust” Isa 2:10, refers especially to the bringing to shame these illusory superhuman highnesses. In Rev. 6:12 sqq., when at Isa 2:15 our passage is alluded to, the shaking of the earth appears as the effect of a great earthquake. Regarding the uses loquendi comp. 8:12, 13; 29:23; 47:12.
Therefore men shall cast their idols away to the gnawing beasts of the night, in their unclean holes, not that their flight may be easier, but because the idols belong there. May there not be an allusion in the words to the demon origin of the idols (1 Cor. 10:20 sq.)? In the description of “A little excursion into the Land of Moab,” contained in the Magazine Sueddeutche Reichspost, 1872, No. 257 sqq., we read in No. 257 the following, in reference to the discovery of a large image of Astarte. “The Bedouins dig in the numerous artificial and natural caves for saltpetre for making gunpowder. In this way they find these objects that in their time were buried or just thrown there, which, in the judgment of those that understand such matters, belonged all of them once in some way to heathen worship, and on which the prophecy of Isa. 2:20 has been so literally fulfilled.”—Thus they cast their idols away, they entertain themselves no more with the care and worship of them, all trust in them is also gone. They only hasten to save themselves by flight into the caverns (נְקָרָה) see Exod. 33:22 from נָקַר, to bore,) and crevices of the rocks (comp. 57:5). We are, moreover, reminded of the words in Luke 23:30. “Then shall they begin to say to the mountains fall on us; and to the hills, cover us.” For what wish can be left to those that have fled to the rocks, when the rocks themselves begin to shake, except to be covered as soon as possible from the tumbling mountains.
[Isa 2:20. Idols of silver and idols of gold. “Here named as the most splendid and expensive, in order to make the act of throwing them away still more significant.
“Moles and bats are put together on account of their defect of sight.”—J. A. A.]
For the Lord of hosts has a day on every thing proud, etc.
Heb. pictures of desire.
spectacles of desire.
Or, shall utterly pass away.
Heb. the dust.
Heb. the idols of his silver, etc.
Or, Which they made for him.
Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?b. The judgment against the eminent things in the human sphere
a. THE JUDGMENT AGAINST GODLESS MEN
22 Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils:
For wherein is he to be accounted of?
1 For, behold, the LORD, the LORD of hosts,
Doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah
21The stay and the staff,
22The whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water,
2 The mighty man, and the man of war,
The judge, and the prophet, and the 23prudent, and the 24ancient,
3 The captain of fifty, and the 25 26the honorable man,
And the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the 27 28eloquent orator.
4 And I will give children to be their princes,
29And babes shall rule over them.
5 And the people 30shall be oppressed,
Every one by another, and every one by his neighbour:
The child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient,
And the base against the honourable.
6 When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying,
Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler,
And let this ruin be under thy hand:
7 In that day shall he 31 32swear, saying,
I will not be a 33healer;
For in my house is neither bread nor clothing:
Make me not a ruler of the people.
8 For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen:
Because their tongue and their doings are against the LORD,
To provoke the eyes of his glory.
9 The show of their countenance doth witness against them;
And they declare their sins as Sodom, they hide it not.
Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.
10 Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him:
For they shall eat the fruit of their doings.
11 Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him;
For the reward of his hands shall be 34given him.
12 As for my people, children are their oppressors,
And women rule over them.
O my people, 35they which lead thee cause thee to err,
And 36destroy the way of thy paths.
13 The LORD standeth up to plead,
And standeth to judge the people.
14 The LORD will enter into judgment
With the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof:
For ye have 37eaten up the vineyard;
The spoil of the poor is in your houses.
15 What mean ye that ye 38beat my people to pieces,
And grind the faces of the poor?
Saith the LORD God of hosts.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Isa 2:22. The verb חָדַל occurs several times in Isa. 1:16; 24:8, coll. 53:3. The construction with the dative of the person addressed (Dat. ethicus) has here the meaning that this ceasing is in the interest of the person addressed himself.—חָדַל with מִן: Exod. 14:15; 23:5; Job 7:16; Prov. 23:4; 1 Sam. 9:5; 2 Chr. 35:21.
CHAP. III. Isa 3:1. מַשְׁעֵן וּמַשְׁעֵנָה: logically considered there can be no difference between these two words, which moreover occur only here. But the Prophet designs by the words only a rhetorical effect. With sententious brevity he sketches thus the contents of the chapter whose first half treats of the male supports, whose second half of the female.—Examples are not few of concrete nouns which, placed along side of one another, designate the totality by the masculine and feminine endings: 11:12; 43:6; Jer. 48:19; Nah. 2:13; Zech. 9:17. It is doubtful about נְמִבְזָה וְנָמֵם, 1 Samuel 15:9. But abstract nouns are very few that at the same time differentiate the idea as to gender by the gender endings. The most likely case of comparison is חַצֶּֽאֱצָאִים וְהַצְּפִעוֹת, the male and female branches (22:24). It is doubtful about נְהִי גִהְיָה Mich. 2:4 (comp. CASPARI, Micah, p. 117). מִשְעָן found elsewhere only 2 Sam. 22:19 (Ps. 18:19). The feminine form occurs more frequently מִשְׁעֶנֶת: Num. 21:19; Ps. 23:4; Isa. 36:6, etc.
Isa 3:4. תעלולים occurs only here and 66:4. The form is like תַּחֲנוּנִים ,תַּֽעֲנוּנִים, etc. The plural can signify the abstract, and this abstract may possibly stand Proverbs concreto; the plural may also have a simple concrete meaning. All these constructions are grammatically possible and have found their defenders. As regards the meaning of the word, the questions arise, whether the word contains the notion of “child” (comp. מְעוֹלֵל ,עוֹלֵל) or the notion, “inflict, bring upon, mishandle,” (comp. הִתְעַלֵּל, Judg. 19:25; 1 Sam. 31:4, etc., תַּֽעֲלוּל ,מַֽעֲלָל עֲלִילִיָּה ,עֲלִילָה, 66:4), or both notions, and whether it is to be taken as subject or as acc. adverbialis to designate the manner and means. That the notion “child” lies in the word appears very conclusively from the preceding נְעָרִים and from מְעוֹלֵל, Isa 3:12. But it is not at all necessary to exclude the notion vexatio which is decidedly demanded, 66:4. One may easily unite both by translating as DELITZSCH does, “childish appetites,” or “childish tricks, childish follies.” But the personifying of this idea, or construing it as abstr. pro concreto (puerilia = pueri, GESENIUS) though grammatically possible, is still hard. I agree therefore with HITZIG, who translates by “with tyranny, arbitrariness.” Comp. פְלָאִים ,נוֹרָאוֹת ,מֵישָׁרִים, etc.
Isa 3:5. (Faustrecht.) Such is the sense of נִגַּשׁ. The word is used of the violent oppression of the Egyptian taskmakers (Exod. 3:7; 5:6 sqq.), of the creditor (Deut. 15:2, 3), of a superior military force of an enemy (1 Sam. 13:6), also of overpowering fatigue (1 Sam. 14:24) or of an unsparingly strict judicial process (Isa. 53:7). In our passage the Niphal, as one may see from following אישׁ באישׁ וגו, appears intended in a reciprocal sense. Moreover Isaiah uses the word often: Isa 3:12; 9:3; 14:2; 58:3; 60:17. רָהָב tumultuari, insolenter tractare: comp. 30:7; 51:9.—נִקְלֶה contemtus, vilis; comp. 16:14; 1 Sam. 18:23.
Isa 3:6. כִּי is rendered by many expositors “when”: VITRINGA, HITZIG, EWALD, DRECHSLER, DELITZSCH. They therefore take the phrase as protasis to Isa 3:7. The consideration that Isa 3:6 and 7 evidently portray, not the reason, but rather the consequence of Isa 3:4, determines me also to adopt this view. By כִּי, then, a possibility is signified that may often ensue. מַכְשֵׁלָה occurs again only in the plural, Zeph. 1:3, where it means offendiculum, σκάνδαλον. Besides it is synonym of מִכְשֹׁל. The present situation therefore is manifestly designated as a scandalous one, as a subject of offence.
Isa 3:7. חֹבֵשׁ part. occurs only here. Other forms of the verb occur in Isaiah in the sense of binding and healing wounds: 1:6; 30:26; 61:1. He repels the allegation that he still has clothing and bread, and declines therefore the honor of becoming judge of his people. קָצִין is principally a poetic word. It occurs only twelve times in the Old Testament; three of these in historical books: Josh. 10:24; Judg. 11:6, 11. Isaiah uses it four times, viz., here, 1:10; 20:3.
Isa 3:8. כָּשַל, stumble, totter, fall, Isaiah uses often: 5:27; 8:15; 28:13; 40:30; 59:10, 14, etc.—מַֽעֲלָל Isaiah uses only 1:16 and 3:8, 10.—אֶל in an inimical sense, as 2:4; Gen. 4:8, etc.—The form לַמְרוֹת is syncopated from לְהַמְרוֹת (EWALD, § 244 b). Comp. 1:12; Ps. 78:17. מָרָה and Hiph. הִמְרָה occur very often with אֶת־פִּי י׳: Num. 20:24; 27:14; Deut. 1:26, 43, etc. Once the Hiph. occurs with the following אֵת רוּחוֹ Ps. 106:33, with following דְּבֵר י׳ Ps. 105:28 אִמְרֵי אֵל Ps. 107:11; once with מִשְׁפָּטַי Ezek. 5:6. And so here, too, with following עֵנֵי י׳. In Isaiah the construction with the accusative does not again occur: מָרָה alone with the meaning “rebellem, contumacem esse,” occurs again 1:20; 1. 5; 63:10.
Isa 3:9. הַכָּרָה, which only occurs here, can, in union with פָּנִים, have no other meaning than the adverbial form of speech הִכִּיר פָּנִים (Deut. 1:17; 16:19; Prov. 24:23; 28:21), which means “dignoscere facies, distinguish the countenances, i. e., make a partial distinction” (comp. נָשָׂא פָנִים). The notion of partiality indeed does not suit here, although not a few Jewish and Christian expositors understand the words in this sense. The context constrains us rather to go back to the simple fundamental meaning of close observance, particular notice, which is the preliminary of partial distinction. We are the more justified in this as הִכִּיר elsewhere too (61:9; 63:16; Gen. 31:32, etc.) is used in a sense that proceeds from this fundamental meaning. הכרת פ׳ is therefore the magisterial, so to speak, the juristic, exact observance and investigation of countenances. עָנֽתֳה, which is likewise a legal term, also favors this view. For it is used as much of the judge that takes cognizance (Exod. 23:2) as of the witness that deposes to the interrogation of the judge: Deut. 19:16; 2 Sam. 1:16: “thy mouth hath testified (עָנָה) against thee.” גָּמַל occurs in Isaiah again only 63:7. The form of sentence in Isa 3:10 a is owing to the well known attraction, common also in Greek, by means of which the subject of the dependent phrase becomes the object of the principal verb. There is no need, therefore, of taking אָמַר in the sense of prœdicare. But it is simply “say, speak out loud, be not silent, that the righteous is well off.” There is, thus, no need of referring to passages as Ps. 40:11; 145:6, 11. That טוֹב may mean not only bonus, but also bene habens, well off, is shown beyond contradiction by passages like Am. 6:2; Jer. 44:17; Ps. 112:5.
Isa 3:11. According to our remarks at 1:4 concerning אוֹי, it is agreeable to usus loquendi to connect it with לְרָשָׁע. Besides in the best editions they are so bound (comp. DELITZSCH in loc.). Therefore רַע is to be taken in the same way as טוֹב Isa 3:10. To be sure, there is no passage we can cite in which רַע means infelix, as we can for טוֹב meaning felix. For Ps. 106:32, and Gen. 47:9 רַע is both times not used of personal subjects. And there are no other places to cite. One must therefore say, that the prophet in respect of the meaning of רַע has in Isa 3:11 a imitated the corresponding part of Isa 3:10.—גְּמוּל is performance, product, desert. Comp. Judg. 9:16; Prov. 12:14. The word is found in Isaiah again 35:4; 59:18; 66:6. What the hands of the wicked have themselves produced shall be joined to, put on them.
Isa 3:12. The singular מְּעוֹלֵל has general significance and hence represents an ideal plural. Comp. רעֵה צֹאן עֲכָדֶיךָ Gen. 47:3. As regards the form of the word, which occurs here only, מְעוֹלֵל is the root form for עוֹלֵל (1 Sam. 15:3; Isa. 13:16, etc.) or עוֹלָל (Jer. 6׃11; 9:20).
Isa 3:13. נִצָּב (in Isaiah only again 21:8) expresses the opposite of movement. נִצָּב and עֹמֵד along side of each other occur 1 Sam. 19:20.—רִיב and דִּין though not seldom interchanged (comp. 1:17), still stand here side by side. But comp. Jer. 15:10; Heb. 1:3.—The expression בוֹא במשׁפט “enter into judgment” occurs only here in Isaiah. Comp. beside Job 9:32; 14:3; 22:4; Ps. 143:2; Eccl. 11:9; 12:14.
Isa 3:14. The Piel בִּעֵר occurs in this sense in Isaiah only again 5:5; comp. Exod. 22:4. It is depascere, grazing of cattle. Elsewhere it is used of fire (6:13; 40:16; 44:15; 1. 11). גזלה only here in Isaiah, גָּזֵל 61:8.
Isa 3:15. דִּכָּא to stamp, trample (19:10; 53:5, 10) is intensified by פּ׳ ע׳ תטחנוis to grind, pound fine, 47:2.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. Isa 3 connects quite easily and simply with Isa 2 so far as it continues the idea of the judgment, and to this effect, that it is now extended to the sphere of human existence. Isa 2:22 makes the appropriate transition. For therein the Prophet warns against trusting in men, who are only weak transitory creatures. Isa 3, also, with this fundamental idea, subdivides into two parts, of which the first (Isa 3:1–15) treats of the men, the second (Isa 3:16–4:1) of the women. And yet we at once receive the impression that in Isa 3 he is treading ground dominated by other sentiments. For while chap. 2 discourses quite evidently of the judgment that in the last time, the great day of Jehovah, shall be passed on sub-human and superhuman creatures, Isa 3 seems only to speak of acts of judgment that do not bring the continuation of human kind into question. Moreover, in as much as an ordered government is essential to the very existence of such continuance, the removal of those in power enumerated in Isa 3:2, 3 does not appear to be a punishment of these themselves for their loftiness, but of the people. Those authorities appear as a benefit that is withdrawn from the sinful nation, and in their stead they are abandoned to the miseries of anarchy, or of a boy and woman government. If now the removal of these pillars, the great and mighty (Isa 3:2, 3), is because they on their part share the blame, still that is not the principal thought. But the chief matter is that from the nation, which (Isa 3:8) had “provoked the eyes of the glory” of the Lord, shall be taken away the indispensable support of its customary and natural rulers. In connection with Isa 2 one expects a specifying of the contents, that as the sub-human and superhuman magnates must be humbled so, too, must the human magnates be. But this thought comes up only at Isa 3:13–15. Hence Isa 3:1–21 make on me the impression of a discourse that originally did not belong in this connection, but which was inserted here because it still in some measure suits the context. It is possible that originally these words were directed against the bad government of Ahaz, who came to the throne as a young man of 20 years (2 Kings 16:2), although, taken strictly, they portray conditions that really never occurred either under Ahaz or in any other stadium of Jewish history.
Because 3:1, presupposes the destruction of human magnates, that were for themselves and others an object of unjustifiable confidence (2:22), the discourse as regards its matter fits the context (comp. 2:11). But it fits in also in chronological respects, so far as all acts of divine judgment constitute a unity; consequently all visitations that precede the last judgment belong essentially to it as precursors. But that the Prophet notwithstanding makes a distinction appears from Isa 3:13–15.
The order of thought in our passage, then, is as follows: After the Prophet had signified by 2:22, that now he would proceed to the judgment against every high thing among men, he classifies in advance 3:1 the contents of what he has to say, in that he announces that Judah and Jerusalem shall be deprived of every support, male and female. The male supports he then enumerates Isa 3:2, 3. If these are removed, of course only children and women remain as supports of the commonwealth. The misery of boy rule, that gradually degenerates into anarchy, is portrayed Isa 3:4–7 in vigorous lines. This misery is the symptom of prevalent ruin in Judah and Jerusalem, and the consequence of those crimes committed against the Lord (Isa 3:8), that are public and not at all denied. These, therefore, are the self-meriting cause of that misery (Isa 3:9); for as the righteous reap salvation as fruit of their works (Isa 3:10), so the wicked destruction (Isa 3:11). Thus it comes that children and women rule over the nation and that these bad guides lead it into destruction (Isa 3:12). But this self-merited temporal misfortune is only the prelude of that still higher judgment that Jehovah shall conduct in proper person which, according to chap. 2, shall take place at the end of days, and by which the Lord shall finally rescue the pith of the people, but will drag their destroyers to a merited accountability.
2. Cease ye—accounted of ?—2:22. As, in what precedes, the trust in things falsely eminent, in money, in power, in idolatry, was demonstrated as vanity, so the same occurs here in regard to men. “Cease from men,” says the Prophet. How shall man be an object of trust, how shall he be a support, seeing the principle of his life is the air that he breathes in and out of his nostrils, thus the fugitive quickly disappearing breath? Thence man himself is called so often הֶבֶלbreath;Ps. 39:6, 7, 12; 62:10, etc., comp. Gen. 4:2.—The expression “whose breath is in his nostrils” calls to mind Gen. 2:7; 7:22; Job 27:3.—“For wherein is he to be accounted of?” Man as such, i. e., as bearer of the divine image in earthly form (אָדָם) is of course of great value before God. Comp. Ps. 8:5 sqq.; Job 7:17. In these passages the inquiry “what is man” reminds one very much of the inquiry of our Prophet. But as helper, saviour, defender, support, man counts for little, yea less than nothing, according to Ps. 62:10. For as one knows at once from 3:1 sqq., human props may in a twinkling all of them be taken away. The preposition בְּ stands here as elsewhere (comp. 7:2) as sign of the price that is regarded as the means for purchasing the wares or work.
3. For behold—eloquent orator.—Isa 3:1–3. The solemn accumulation of the names of God that occurs here, occurs in like manner 1:24; 10:16, 33; 19:4. The subject addressed appears here also the chief city and the chief tribe of the people of Israel. But while, 1 and 2, it is always said “Judah and Jerusalem,” here (Isa 3:8) it is said “Jerusalem and Judah.” This is not without meaning, and we are perhaps justified in finding therein a support for the conjecture expressed above, that our passage did not originate at the same time with what precedes and what follows it, but is inserted here. The following words: “the whole stay of bread and the whole stay of water” appear to interrupt the connection. For when, Isa 3:2, 3, the different categories of kinds of human callings are enumerated, and Isa 3:16 sqq., the proud, aristocratic, decked out ladies are portrayed, is that not the specification of the ideas משׁען and משׁענה, stay and staff? And what have bread and water to do here, seeing everything impersonal has already been noticed above 2:13–16? It is conceivable that a reader, who did not understand the relation of the two words to what follows, had made a gloss of them in this sense, and that this gloss then had crept into the text. Such is the conjecture of HITZIG, KNOBEL, MEIER, and—though afterwards retracted—of GESENIUS and UMBREIT. The expression “stay” might call to mind the expression “comfort your hearts with a morsel of bread” (Gen. 18:5; Judg. 19:5, 8; Ps. 104:15) and the expression “staff of bread” (Lev. 26:26; Ezek. 4:16; 5, 16). That just bread and water are named as corresponding to משׁען and משׁענה might have its reason in this, that they recognized in bread the female principle and in water the male. But it is always doubtful to assume an interpolation only on internal grounds. EWALD and DRECHSLER understand the words in a figurative sense. The stay of bread and of water signify the supports that are necessary as bread and water. But KNOBEL justly remarks that this were an unheard of trope. May not all those be called “staffs of bread and water” that provide the state with bread and water, i. e., with all that pertains to daily bread? Call to mind the explanation of the fourth petition in LUTHER’S catechism, wherein “pious and faithful rulers” and “good government” are reckoned as daily bread too. Staff of bread, etc., would be therefore, not the bread and water themselves as supports for preserving life (Genitive of the subject), but the supports on which bread and water, i. e., the necessities and nourishment of life depend (genitive of the object).
In the following enumeration, as DRECHSLER remarks, the instructors and military profession are especially represented. Even the entire apparatus of state machinery of that day is mentioned. But as all that are named are designated as those that the Lord takes away, it is seen that they are all regarded as false supports. They may even be that per se in so far as they ought not to exist at all among the people of God; as e. g., the קֹסֵם, diviner and the נְבוֹן לַחַשׁ, expert enchanter, (Deut. 18:10–14). לַחַשׁ is the murmuratio (magia murmurata Apul.), the muttered repetition of the magic formulas (26:16); נַבוֹן occurs again 5:21; 29:14.
Even the נָבִיא may, according to the context and the kindred passage 9:14, be only prophets that prophesy falsely in the name of Jehovah. The use of the rest of the callings named is indeed legally justified, but nevertheless they are subject to abuse. One may indeed cast a doubt on the legality of the נְשׂוּא פָנִים (comp. 9:14) the amicus regis, the preferred favorite, but not on that of the others. Especially the men of war appear to be indispensable, whence each of the verses 2 and 3 begins with the naming of such. גִּבּוֹר seems to mean ‘the warrior proved by deeds; אִישׁ מִלְחָמָה the man of war in general; שַׂר־הֲמִשִּׁים the rank of captain; while the שׁוֹפֵט = state officer and זָקֵן = officer of the congregation. Ahithophel and Hushai (2 Sam.17) are practical illustrations of יוֹעַץ, counsellor. The חֲכַם חֲרָשִׁים is the engineer, master of the preparation of warlike weapons and military machines (comp. on Jer. 24:1).
4. And I will give—a ruler of the people.
Isa 3:4-7. When a state trusts to an arm of flesh, and puts its trust solely in its princes and men of might, in its diplomats and generals, in a word, in the strength of its men, and the Lord takes away these strong ones as false supports, then, of course, a condition must ensue in which weak hands manage the rudder of state. No earthly state has continuously maintained a position strong and flourishing. One need only call to mind the world-monarchies. That gradual weakening of the world-power indicated in Daniel’s image of the monarchies (Dan.2), takes place also within each individual kingdom. Call to mind the vigorous Assyrian rulers, a Tiglath Pileser, Sargon, Sennacherib, and the inglorious end of the last of their successors, whatever may have been his name: think of Nebuchadnezzar, and Belshazzar, of Cyrus and Darius Codomannus, of Augustus and Romulus Augustulus, etc. In Judah, too, it was not different. Zedekiah was a weakling that perpetually wavered between a fear of Jehovah’s prophet and of his own powerful subjects. It may, therefore, be said that not some quite definite historical fact is prophesied here, but a condition of punishment is threatened such as always and everywhere must ensue where the strength of a national life is exhausted, and the end approaches (comp. Eccl. 10:16).
When weak hands hold the reins of government a condition of lawlessness ensues, and of defencelessness for the weak. The strong then do as they wish. They exercise club law. A further consequence of that anarchical condition is that those of lower rank no longer submit to the higher ranks, but, in wicked abuse of their physical strength, lift themselves above them. The misery of that anarchical condition, however, stands out in strongest relief when at last no one will tolerate any government. Although the inhabitants would gladly make a ruler of any one that rises in any degree above the universal wretchedness (say any one that has still a good coat), yet every one on whom they would put this honor will resist it with all his might. “Under thy hand,” comp. Gen. 41:35; 2 Kings 8:20. With loud voice will the chosen man emphatically protest. This is indicated by the expression יִשָּׂא to which קוֹל must be supplied (42:2, 11). “I will not be surgeon,” he says, by which he calls the state life sick. [“The sick man,” as modern designation for the Turkish Empire.—TR.].
[On Isa 3:4. “I will give children.” “Some apply this, in a strict sense, to the weak and wicked reign of Ahaz, others in a wider sense to the series of weak kings after Isaiah. But there is no need of restricting it to kings at all. The most probable opinion is that incompetent rulers are called boys or children not in respect to age but character.—J. A. A. Similarly BARNES.
On Isa 3:6. “The government shall go a begging. It is taken for granted that there is no way of redressing all these grievances, and bringing things into order again, but by good magistrates, who shall be invested with power by common consent, and shall exert that power for the good of the community. And it is probable that this was in many places the true origin of government; men found it necessary to unite in a subjection to one who was thought fit for such a trust,—being aware that they must be ruled or ruined.”—M. HENRY.
On Isa 3:7. “The last clause does not simply mean do not make me, but you must not or you shall not make me a ruler.”—J. A. A.
“The meaning is, that the state of affairs was so ruinous and calamitous that he would not attempt to restore them—as if in the body, disease should have so far progressed that he would not undertake to restore the person, and have him die under his hands, so as to expose himself to the reproach of being an unsuccessful and unskilful physician.”—BARNES.
On Isa 3:9. “The sense is not that their looks betray them, but that they make no effort at concealment, as appears from the reference to Sodom. The expression of the same idea first in a positive and then in a negative form is not uncommon in Scripture, and is a natural if not an English idiom. MADAME D. ARBLAY, in her memoirs of DR. BURNEY, speaks of OMIAH, the Tahitian, brought home by Capt. COOK, as uttering first affirmatively, etc., then negatively all the little sentences that he attempted to utter.”—J. A. A.
On Isa 3:10. “The righteous are encouraged by the assurance that the judgments of God shall not be indiscriminate.—The object of address seems to be not the prophets or ministers of God, but the people at large or men indefinitely.”—J. A. A.
“Whatever becomes of the unrighteous nation, let the righteous man know that he shall not be lost in the crowd of sinners: the Judge of all the earth will not slay the righteous with the wicked (Gen. 18:25); no, assure him, in God’s name, that it shall be well with him. The property of the trouble shall be altered to him, and he shall be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.—M. HENRY.]
5. For Jerusalem—thy paths.
Isa 3:8-12. Such a condition of anarchy is only a symptom of the outward and inward decay. It is never blameless, but always blameworthy misfortune. As the second hemistich of Isa 3:8, evidently describes the inward decay, the first must consequently be referred to the outward. But hemistich 2 is strung on with כִּי with a chain-like effect. The anarchy is the symptom of the outward decay; but the outward decay is the consequence of that which is inward. With DRECHSLER I translate by “insult the eyes of his glory.” It is evident, that the Prophet would indicate a direct antithesis between the glory of Jehovah, and the bad tongues and works, as also an antithesis between “the eyes of the loftiness of man” 2:11; 5:15 and “the eyes of the glory of Jehovah.” The eyes of God who is God of light (60:19; Mich. 7:8; 1 Jno. 1:5) are insulted just by this, that they must see the works of darkness. It seems to me, on this account, clear that the divine majesty is designated as glorious chiefly in respect to its purity and holiness; therefore ethically. That, moreover, the eyes of the glory of God, are not something different from the eyes of God Himself is just as clear as that the eyes of the glory must themselves be glorious. They are here the organ of the manifestation of His glory (comp. Rev. 2:18), as in other places it speaks of the arm of His salvation (40:10), of His holiness, (52:10) of His strength (62:8). Besides the expression is only found here, as may be said also of the defective writing of it.
The Prophet had (Isa 3:8) assigned the badness of the words and work as the cause of the fall. But is this accusation well founded? Yes, it is. A double and unexceptionable witness testifies to its truth: 1) the cognitio vultuum, knowledge of countenances. Thus we might translate: “appearance testifies against thee.” (See Text. and Gr.)
2.) Their own declaration, though not made with this intention. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” The godless cannot lock up that of which his heart is full. The mouth, as it were, foams over involuntarily with it. The Sodomites, too, (comp. 1:9, 10) spoke out insolently the shameful purpose they had in mind (Gen. 19:3). So the Israelites made no concealment of the evil they had in mind. Therefore their ruin is merited (comp. Gen. 50:15, 17) and just. The sentence: “woe to them, for they have hurt themselves” which, Isa 3:9b, is especially applied to Israel, is established in what follows, by stating in its double aspect the fundamental and universal truth that underlies it, that a man must reap what he sows. First, the righteous is pronounced blessed because he shall eat the (good) fruits of his (good) works. As that universal truth of the causal connection between works and the fate of men is not expressed, but assumed, so that aspect of it that relates to the righteous is not expressed in doctrinal form, but, vigorous and life like, in the form of a summons to declare the righteous blessed.
The happiness of the righteous will consist in this, that he shall enjoy the fruit of his works (Prov. 1:31). To the wicked, on the other hand, a woe is proclaimed. The happiness of the pious is announced to every one; the vengence that shall overtake the wicked is announced to himself alone.
Isa 3:12. Is a resumé. In these words the whole course of thought from Isa 3:1–11, is comprehended again. The two halves of Isa 3:12 begin with עַמִּי“My people” put before absolutely, which shows how much the Lord loves His people, and how much the state of things portrayed makes Him sorry for His people. The word נֹגְשִׂים, oppressors, is used of those whom the people, for want of better, in consequence of that oppression mentioned in Isa 3:5, had been obliged to make chiefs. By this is intimated that these supports of necessity shall themselves be no proper chiefs that merit the name, but only rude oppressors. Comp. 9:3; 14:2; 60:17. They are so, not in spite of, but just because of their being children, boys.
מְאַשֵּׁרqui rectâ ducit, comp. 1:17. The word is meant ironically, for how else could the מאשּר be a מַתְעֶה? Our passage as already remarked stands in evident connection with 9:15. There too the leaders are called misleaders; there, too, the word בלע is used of those who mislead, for they are called מְבֻלָּעִיּם. We see by this that the Prophet has not in mind the same persons in the second half of the verse that he has in the first. He speaks in the second clause of the false prophets, as in 9:14 sq. Like flies in honey, this vermin is ever found where there are bad rulers. For they need false prophets to cover over their doings. These false prophets, however, devour the path of the people. DELITZSCH (like JEROME, THEODORET, LUTHER before him) understands by “the way of their paths” the right way, the way of the law. “The prophets, that ought to preach it, say mum, mum, and retain it swallowed. It has gone into oblivion by false prophetic, errorneous preaching:” But it seems to me as if then it must not read דרך ארחתיך, the way of thy paths. For this is just the way that Israel actually treads, the direction that its life path actually tends. It must then read way of Jehovahדֶּרֶךְ י׳ as Ps. 18:22, or ד אֱמוּנָה, or ר׳ מִעְוֹתי׳, as Ps. 119:30, 32, or אֹרַח משְׁפָּט as Isa. 40:14 or ד֝ שָׁלזֹם as 59:8, or such like. I therefore agree with the explanation of those that take בלע in a metaphorical sense like that where this word is elsewhere used of the destruction of a city (2 Sam. 20:19, 20) or of a wall (Lam. 2:8). The expression only occurs in this place in relation to a way, but it must mean nothing else than to direct the path of one’s life down into the depths of destruction in which the devourers themselves are. Comp. Job 6:18.
6. The Lord standeth up—the Lord of Hosts.
Isa 3:13-15. At first sight one might think these three verses bring the further explication of one matter of moment in Isa 3:1–12, viz., the more particular laying down of the judgment against the chiefs of the nation which was only indicated in Isa 3:1, by מֵסִיר“taking away” and in Isa 3:12 by the reproach uttered against them.
But we see from the solemnity of Isa 3:13, especially from the antithesis between עַמִּים and עַמּוֹ (עַמִּי Isa 3:14, 15), “the people and His people” that we are introduced into quite another moment of time. For evidently Isa 3:13–15 depict again the judgment of the world. “The world’s judgment presents itself anew before his soul,” says DELITZSCH. “The people” Isa 3:13, recalls distinctly “the nations” and “many people” of 2:2–4. However, it is not the judging of the nations generally that is portrayed, but only the judging of the people of God as a part of this universal judgment. Moreover, not of the nation in its totality, but of the destroyers of this totality, the princes and elders (Isa 3:14a). These appear, therefore, as the chief agents of that inward and outward decay that has invaded the nation. If, according to 2:3, all nations are to stream to the mountain of the Lord, because the law shall go forth out of Zion, then, evidently, Jerusalem itself must previously be cleansed and filled with the word of God. This cleansing, according to 9:13 sqq., begins with this, that the Lord will cast off from Israel head and tail. The elders are the head, the false prophets are the tail. Here too, though a briefer, still a comprehensible, hint is given that indicates the sort of purifying that Israel itself must undergo in order to become what, according to 2:3, it ought to become. This hint makes on me the impression that 3:1–12 does, viz., that a word spoken on some other occasion has been applied to this purpose. Comp., the comment on Isa 3:16 sqq. Unmoved and unmovable (comp. Gen. 37:7) i.e., as one whom no one can crowd from this place, the Lord conducts the judgment; and that standing, not sitting, therefore ready and prepared for instant execution of the judgment, He exercises the magisterial function, Ps. 82:1, which so far resembles our passage that it also describes the judgment upon the magistrates of the people, represents too, the Lord as a judge in standing posture. Elsewhere He is represented as sitting in judgment: Ps. 9:5; 29:10; Joel 4:12, etc.
The discourse of the Lord begins with the second clause of Isa 3:14, with ואתם, “but ye,” thus with a conclusion to which the premise must be supplied. It is the same construction as Ps. 2:6. The premise to be supplied must be to this effect: “I have made you commanders that ye might administer justice. But ye,” etc. The princes have regarded the nation as their domain which they might use up as they pleased. They have, therefore, themselves become the cattle from which they ought to have protected the vineyard. The he-goat had become gardener (DELITZSCH). Comp. 1:23; Mich. 3:1–3. The image of the devoured vineyard is at once explained; robbery, plunder wrested from the poor is found in their houses. To the “but you” of Isa 3:14 corresponds an equally emphatic “what mean ye” that begins Isa 3:15. The flow of words is so fast that even the כִּיfor, that otherwise would follow the question (comp. 22:1, 16) is wanting (comp. Jon. 1:6, where, however, the construction is somewhat different). To grind to pieces the face of a man appears to me to be the expression for beating to pieces the face (1 Kings 22:24; Mich. 4:14) in the intensest degree. The expression is exactly the opposite of permuclere faciemחלה פּ׳Ps. 45:13; Prov. 19:6. The high significance of the declaration is, in conclusion, evidenced by the reference of it to “the Lord Jehovah Sabaoth,” concerning which see the comment at 1:9, 24.
[On Isa 3:13. “Nations here as often elsewhere means the tribes of Israel. See Gen. 49:10; Deut. 32:8; 33:3, 19; 1 Kings 22:28; Mich. 1:2.”—J. A. A.
On Isa 3:15. “Grind the faces of the poor. The simplest and most natural interpretation is that which applies it to the act of grinding the face upon the ground by trampling on the body, thus giving the noun and verb their proper meaning and making the parallelism more exact.”—J. A. A.]
Supporter and supportress.
Heb. a man eminent in countenance.
Or, skilful in speech.
and childishly shall they rule.
shall use club law.
Heb. lift up the hand.
lift up his voice
Heb. binder up.
Heb. done to him.
Or, they which call thee blessed.
Heb. swallow up.