Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. 24:2. “When general judgments take place, no distinction is observed between man and wife, master and servant, mistress and maid, learned and unlearned, noble and plebeian, clergy and laity; therefore let no one rely on any external prerogative or superiority, but let every one without distinction repent and forsake sin.”—CRAMER. Though this is right, yet we must, on the other hand, remember that the LORD declares in reference to the same great event, “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left” (Matth. 24:10 sq.). There is no contradiction in these two statements. Both are true: outward relations will make no difference; there shall be no respect of persons. But the state of the heart will make a difference. According to the inward character there will, in the case of those whose external position in the world is perfectly alike, be some who enter life, others whose doom is death.
2. 24:5 sq. “The earth is burdened with sins, and is therefore deprived of every blessing. The earth must suffer for our guilt, when we have as it were spoilt it, and it must be subject to vanity for our sakes (Rom. 8:20). What wonder is it that it should show itself ungrateful toward us?”—CRAMER.
[3. 24:13 sq. “Observe the small number of this remnant; here and there one who shall escape the common calamity (as Noah and his family, when the old world was drowned), who when all faces gather blackness, can lift up their head with joy. Luke 21:26–28.” HENRY.—D. M.].
4. 24:17–20. Our earth is a volcanic body. Mighty volcanic forces were active at its formation. That these are still in commotion in the interior of the earth is proved by the many active volcanoes scattered over the whole earth, and by the perpetual volcanic convulsions which we call earthquakes. These have hitherto been confined to particular localities. But who can guarantee that a concentration and simultaneous eruption of those volcanic forces, that is, a universal earthquake, shall not hereafter occur? The LORD makes express mention of earthquakes among the signs which shall precede His second coming (Matth. 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11). And in 2 Pet. 3:5 sqq. the future destruction of the earth by fire is set over against the destruction of the old world by water. Isaiah in our place announces a catastrophe whose characteristic features will be that, 1) there will be no escape from it; 2) destructive forces will assail from above and below; 3) the earth will be rent asunder; 4) it will reel and totter; 5) it will suffer so heavy a fall that it will not rise again (Isa 24:20 b). Is there not here a prophecy of the destruction of the earth by volcanic forces? And how suddenly can they break loose! The ministers of the word have every reason to compare this extreme exposedness of our earth to fire, and the possibility of its unexpectedly sudden collapse with the above-cited warnings of the word of God, and to attach thereto the admonition which is added in 2 Pet. 3:11.
5. 24:21. The earth is a part of our planetary system. It is not what it appears to the optical perception to be, a central body around which worlds of a different nature revolve, but it, together with many similar bodies, revolves round a common centre. The earth according to that view of the account of the creation in Gen. 1, which appears to me the true one, has arisen with all the bodies of our Solar system out of one primary matter, originally united, common to them all. If our Solar System is a well-ordered, complete organism, it must rest on the basis of a not merely formal, but also material unity; i.e., the separate bodies must move, not only according to a principle of order which governs all, but they must also as to their substance be essentially like. And as they arose simultaneously, so must they perish simultaneously. It is inconceivable that our earth alone should disappear from the organism of the Solar System, or pass over to a higher material condition. Its absence, or ceasing to exist in its previous form and substance, would necessarily draw after it the ruin of the whole system. Hence the Scripture speaks every where of a passing away and renovation of the heaven and the earth (Ps. 102:26; Isa. 51:6; 65:17; 66:22; Matth. 5:18; 24:29, 35; 2 Pet. 3:7, 10, 13; Heb. 12:26; Rev. 20:11; 21:1). The heaven that shall pass away with a great noise, whose powers shall be shaken, whose stars shall fall, is the planetary heaven. The same lot will happen to the companions of our earth, to the other planets, and to the centre, the sun, and to all other co-ordinate and subordinate stellar bodies, which will befall the earth itself. This is the substance of the view which serves as a basis for our place. But personal beings are not thereby by any means excluded from the צבא מרום. The parallel expression מלכי האדמה, and the use in other places of the related expression צבא השׁמים lead us rather to suppose personal beings to be included. But I believe that a distinction must be made here. As the heavenly bodies which will pass away simultaneously with the earth, can only be those which arose together with it, and which stand in organic connection with it, so also the angelic powers, which are judged simultaneously with us men, can be only those which stand in connection with the heavenly bodies of our Solar System, i.e., with the earthly material world. There are heavenly bodies of glorious pneumatic substance. If personal beings stand in connection with them, they must also be pure, glorious, resplendent beings. These will not be judged. They are the holy angels, who come with the LORD (Matth. 25:31). But it is quite conceivable that all the bodies of our Solar System are till the judgment like our earth suffered to be the theatre of the spirits of darkness.
6. 24:21–23, It seems to me that the Prophet has here sketched the chief matters pertaining to eschatology. For the passing away of heaven and earth, the binding of Satan (Rev. 20:1–3), the loosing of Satan again (Rev. 20:7), and finally the reign of God alone, which will make sun and moon unnecessary (Rev. 21:23)—are not these the boundary-stones of the chief epochs of the history of the end of the world?
7. 25:6. [“The LORD of hosts makes this feast. The provision is very rich, and every thing is of the best. It is a feast, which supposes abundance and variety; it is a continual feast to believers: it is their fault if it be not. It is a feast of fat things and full of marrow; so relishing, so nourishing are the comforts of the Gospel to all those that feast upon them and digest them. The returning prodigal was entertained with the fatted calf; and David has that pleasure in communion with God, with which his soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness. It is a feast of wines on the lees; the strongest-bodied wines, that have been long kept upon the lees, and then are well refined from them, so that they are clear and fine. There is that in the Gospel which, like fine wine, soberly used, makes glad the heart, and raises the spirits, and is fit for those that are of a heavy heart, being under convictions of sin, and mourning for it, that they may drink and forget their misery (for that is the proper use of wine; it is a cordial for those that need it, Prov. 31:6, 7) may be of good cheer, knowing that their sins are forgiven, and may be vigorous in their spiritual work and warfare, as a strong man refreshed with wine.” HENRY.—D. M.]
8. 25:9. “In the Old Testament the vail and covering were before men’s eyes, partly because they waited for the light that was to appear, partly because they sat in darkness and in the shadow of death (Luke 1:79). The fulfilment of this prediction has in Christ already begun, and will at last be perfectly fulfilled in the Church triumphant where all ignorance and sorrow shall be dispelled (1 Cor. 13:12).” CRAMER.
9. 25:8. “God here represents Himself as a mother, who presses to her bosom her sorrowful son, comforts him and wipes away his tears (Isa. 66:13). The righteous are to believe and appropriate this promise, that every one may learn to speak with Paul in the time of trial: the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us, Rom. 8:18.” CRAMER.
10. 25:10. “This is now the hope and consolation of the church that the hand of the LORD rests on this mountain, that is, that He will be gracious, and let His power, help and grace be there seen and felt. But the unbelieving Moabites, i.e., the Jews, with all others who will not receive the gospel, shall be threshed to pieces as straw in the mire; these the Lord’s hand will not rescue, as it helps those who wait on Him, but it shall press them down so that they will never rise, according to the saying, Mark 16:16.” VEIT DIETRICH.
11. Isa 25 Three thoughts contained in this chapter we should hold fast: 1) When we see the world triumph over every thing which belongs to the LORD and His kingdom, when our hearts are anxious about the preservation in the world of the Church of Christ, which is sore oppressed, let this word of the Prophet comfort our hearts. The world-city which contains all that is of the world, sinks into the dust, and the church of Christ goes from her chains and bands into the state of freedom and glory. We have often seen that it is the LORD’S way to let every thing come to maturity. When it is once ripe, He comes suddenly with His sentence. Let us comfort ourselves therewith, for thus will it happen with the world and its dominion over the faithful followers of Christ. When it is ripe, suddenly it will come to an end. 2) No one who has a heart for the welfare of the nations can see without the deepest pain how all hearts are now seduced and befooled, and all eyes closed and covered. The simplest truths are no longer acknowledged, but the more perverse, brutal and mean views and doctrines are, the more greedily are they laid hold of. We cannot avert this. But our comfort is that even this seduction of the nations will reach its climax. Then men will come to themselves. The vail and covering will fall off, and the Gospel will shine with new light before the nations. Therewith let us comfort ourselves. 3) Till this happens, the church is sorrowful. But she shall be full of joy. The promise is given to her that she shall be fully satisfied with the good things of the house of the LORD. A life is promised to her which neither death nor any pain can affect, as she has rest from all enemies. The word of the LORD shall be fulfilled in her: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. The Church that has such a promise may wait in patient quietness for its accomplishment, and praise the LORD in affliction, till it pleases Him to glorify her before all nations.” WEBER, The Prophet Isaiah. 1875.
12. 26:1. “The Christian church is a city of God. God has built it, and He is the right Master-builder. It is strong: 1) on account of the Builder; 2) on account of the foundation and corner-stone, which is Christ; 3) on account of the bond wherewith the living stones are bound together, which is the unity of the faith.” CRAMER. [The security and happiness of true believers, both on earth and in heaven, is represented in Scripture under the image of their dwelling in a city in which they can bid defiance to all their enemies. We dwell in such a city even now, Ps. 46:4–5. We look for such a city, Heb. 11:10, 16; Rev. 21—D. M.]
13. 26:2. [These words may be taken as a description of the people whom God owns, who are fit to be accounted members of the church of the living God on earth, and who will not be excluded from the celestial city. Instead of complaining that only the righteous and the faithful will be admitted into the heavenly city, it should rather give us joy to think that there will be no sin there, that none but the just and true will there be found. This has been a delightful subject of reflection to God’s saints. The last words written by HENRY MARTYN were: “Oh! when shall time give place to eternity? When shall appear that new heaven and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness? There, there shall in no wise enter in any thing that defileth; none of that wickedness which has made men worse than wild beasts—none of their corruptions which add to the miseries of mortality shall be seen or heard of any more.”—D. M.]
14. 26:4. “The fourth privilege of the church is trust in God the Rock of Ages, i.e., in Christ, who not only here, but also Matth. 16; 1 Cor. 10; 1 Pet. 2, is called a rock in a peculiar manner, because no other foundation of salvation and of the church can be laid except this rock, which is here called the rock of ages on account of the eternity of His being, merit and office. Hence a refutation can be drawn of the papistical fable which makes Peter and his successors, the Roman Pontiffs, to be the rock on which the church is built.” FOERSTER. [“Whatever we trust to the world for, it will be but for a moment. All we expect from it is confined within the limits of time; but what we trust in God for will last as long as we shall last. For in the Lord Jehovah, Jah, Jehovah, in Him who was, and is, and is to come, there is a rock of ages, a firm and lasting foundation for faith and hope to build upon; and the house built on that rock will stand in a storm.” HENRY.”—D. M.]
15. 26:5. “It is very common with the prophets, when they prophesy of the kingdom of Christ to make reference to the proud and to the needy, and to represent the latter as exalted and the former as brought low. This truth is directed properly against the self-righteous. For Christ and His righteousness will not endure spiritual pride and presumption; but the souls that are poor, that hunger and thirst for grace, that know their need, these Christ graciously receives.” CRAMER.
16. 26:6. “It vexes the proud all the more that they will be overcome by those who are poor and of no consequence. For example, Goliath was annoyed that a boy should come against him with a staff (1 Sam. 13:43) CRAMER.
17. 26:8–10. That the justice of God must absolutely manifest itself that the majesty of the LORD may be seen, and that the wicked may learn righteousness, must even from a new Testament view-point be admitted. But the New Testament disputes the existence of any one who is righteous when confronted by the law, and who is not deserving of punishment. [But that there is none righteous, no not one, is taught most emphatically in the Old Testament also.—D. M.]. But it (the New Testament) while it shuts up all, Jews and Gentiles, without exception, under sin (Gal. 3:22; Rom. 3:9; 11:32), sets forth a scheme of mediation, which, while it renders full satisfaction to justice, at the same time offers to all the possibility of deliverance. This mediation is through the Cross of Christ. It is only when this mediation has not been accepted that punitive justice has free course. It should not surprise us that even the Evangelist of the Old Covenant, who wrote chap. 53, did not possess perfect knowledge of this mediation. Let us remember John the Baptist (Matt. 3:7; 11:11) and the disciples of the LORD (Luke 9:54). [Let us not forget that Isaiah was a true Prophet, and spoke as he was moved by the Spirit of God. The Apostle Paul did not find fault with the most terrible denunciations of judgment contained in the Old Testament, or affect a superiority over the men who uttered them. On the contrary, he quotes them as words which could not be suffered to fall, but which must be fulfilled in all their dreadful import. See e.g. Rom. 11:9, 10.—D. M.].
18. 26:12. “It is a characteristic of true, sincere Christians, that they give God the glory and not themselves, and freely confess that they have nothing of themselves, but everything from God (1 Cor. 4:7; Phil. 2:13; Heb. 12:2).” CRAMER.
19. 26:16. The old theologians have many comforting and edifying thoughts connected with this place: “A magnet has the power to raise and attract to itself iron. Our heart is heavy as iron. But the hand of God is as a magnet. When that hand visits us with affliction, it lifts us up, and draws us to itself.” “Distress teaches us to pray, and prayer again dispels all distress. One wedge displaces the other.” “Ex gravibus curis impellimur ad pia vota.” “Ex monte myrrhae procedimus ad collem thuris (Cant. 9:6). In amaritudine crucis exsurgit odor devotae precationis (Ps. 86:6 sq.).” “Ubi nulla crux et tentatio, ibi nulla vera oratio. Oratio sine mails est tanquam avis sine alis. Optimus orandi magister necessitas. Τὰ παθήματα μαθήματα. Quae nocent, docent. Ubi tentatio, ibi oratio. Mala, quae hic nos premunt, ad Deum ire compellunt. Qui nescit orare, ingrediatur mare.” “When the string is most tightly drawn, it sounds best. Cross and temptation are the right prayer-bell. They are the press by which God crushes out the juice of prayer.” CRAMER and FOERSTER.
20. 26:20. As God, when the deluge was about to burst, bade Noah go into his ark as into his chamber, and Himself shut the door on him (Gen. 7:6); so does the LORD still act when a storm is approaching; He brings His own into a chamber where they can be safe, either for their temporal preservation and protection against every might (Ps. 91:1), or, on the other hand, to give them repose by a peaceful and happy death.” “His anger endureth but a moment; in his favor is life (Ps. 30:6).” CRAMER.
21. 27:1. [“Great and mighty princes [nations] if they oppose the people of God, are in God’s account, as dragons and serpents, and plagues of mankind; and the LORD will punish them in due time. They are too big for men to deal with, and call to an account; and therefore the great God will take the doing of it into His own hands.” HENRY.—D. M.].
22. 27:2–5. “It seems to the world that God has no concern for His church and Christians, else, we imagine, they would be better off. But certain it is, that it is not the angels but God Himself that will be watcher over this vineyard, and will send it gracious rain.” VEIT DIETRICH. [“The church is a vineyard of red wine, yielding the best and choicest grapes, intimating the reformation of the church, that it now brings forth good fruit unto God, whereas before it brought forth fruit to itself, or brought forth wild grapes, Isa 5:4.” “God takes care (1) of the safety of this vineyard; I the Lord do keep it. He speaks this, as glorying in it, that He is, and has undertaken to be, the keeper of Israel; those that bring forth fruit to God are, and shall be always, under His protection. (2) God takes care of the fruitfulness of this vineyard: I will water it every moment; and yet it shall not be over watered. We need the constant and continual waterings of the divine grace; for if that be at any time withdrawn, we wither and come to nothing.” HENRY. D. M.].
23. 27:4. “Esther aurea promissio, qua praecedentem confirmat. Indignatio non est mihi, fury is not in me. Quomodo enim is nobis irasci potest, qui pro nobis est mortuus? Quanquam igitur appareat, eum irasci, non tamen est verum, quod irascatur. Sic Paulo immittitur angelus Satanae, sed non est ira, nam ipse Christus dicit: sufficit tibi gratia mea. Sic pater filium delinquentem castigat, sed non est ira, quanquam appareat ira esse. Custodia igitur vineae aliquando cogit Deum immittere speciem irae, ne pereat luxurie, sed non est ira. Est insignis textus, which we should inscribe on all tribulations: Non est indignatio mihi, non possum irasci. Quod autem videtur irasci est custodia vineae, ne pereas et fias securus. LUTHER. “In order to understand fully the doctrine of the wrath of God we must have a clear perception of the antithesis: the long-suffering of God, and the wrath of God, wrath and mercy.” LANGE.
24. 27:7–9. “Christ judges His church, i.e., He punishes and afflicts it, but He does this in measure. The sorrow and cross is meted out, and is not, as it appears to us, without measure and infinite. It is so measured that redemption must certainly follow. But why does God let His Christians so suffer? Why does He not lay the cross on the wicked? God answers this question and speaks: the sin of Jacob will thereby cease. That is: God restrains sin by the cross, and subdues the old Adam.” VEIT DIETRICH.
25. 27:13. [“The application of this verse to a future restoration of the Jews can neither be established nor disproved. In itself considered, it appears to contain nothing which may not be naturally applied to events long past.” J. A. ALEXANDER.—“This prediction was completely and entirely fulfilled by the return of the Jews to their own country under the decree of Cyrus.” BARNES.—D. M.].
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
1. On 24:4–6. Fast-day sermon. Warning against dechristianization of the life of the people. 1) Wherein such dechristianization consists: a, transgression of the commandments that are in force; b, alteration of the commandments which are essential articles of the everlasting covenant, as e.g. removing of all state institutions from the basis of religion. 2) Its consequences: a, Desecration of the land (subjectively, by the spread of a profane, godless sentiment; objectively, by the secularization of relations hitherto held sacred); b, the curse consumes the land, Isa 24:4.
2. On 25:1–5. The LORD, the refuge of the needy. 1) He has the power to help. This we perceive a, from His nature (LORD, God, Wonderful); b, from His deeds (Isa 25:1 b, Isa 25:2). 2) He gives His strength even to the feeble, (Isa 25:4). 3) These are thereby victorious, (Isa 25:5).
3. On 25:6–9. Easter Sermon, by T. SCHAEFFER (Manch. Gab. u. ein Geist III. p. 269):—“The glorious Easter-blessing of the Risen One: 1) Wherein it consists? 2) who receive it? 3) what are its effects? Christmas Sermon, by ROMBERG [ibid. 1869, p. 78): Our text represents to us Christmas joy under the image of a festive board. Let us consider, 1) the host; 2) the guests; 3) the gifts.”
4. On 26:1–4. Concerning the church. 1) She is a strong city in which salvation is to be found. 2) The condition of having a portion in her is faith. 3) The blessing which she is instrumental in procuring is peace.
5. 26:19–21. The comfort of the Christian for the present and future. 1) For the present the Christian is to betake himself to his quiet chamber, where he is alone with his LORD and by Him made cheerful and secure. 2) For the future he has the certain hope, a, that the LORD will judge the wicked, b, raise the believer to everlasting life.
6. 27:2–9. How the LORD deals with His vineyard, the church. 1) Fury is not in Him towards it; 2) He protects and purifies it; 3) He gives it strength, peace and growth; 4) He chastens it in measure; 5) He makes the chastisement itself serve to purge it from sins.
Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.B.—THE FINALE TO THE DISCOURSES AGAINST THE NATIONS: THE LIBELLUS APOCALYPTICUS
If there is a living God who concerns Himself with the history of mankind and directs the same according to His counsel, without detriment to that human freedom which is the basis of the moral responsibility of every individual,—and if consequently there is such a thing as prophecy which demonstrates the divine rule in history for our consolation and warning, then we need not be surprised if prophecy should refer even to the very close of history. Must not God, who directs history, foreknow what is most remote as well as what is near at hand? And can He have no reason for causing the things that will take place at the end of the world to be predicted by the interpreters of His will, the prophets? There is just the same reason for His doing this which there is for prophecy at all. We ought to know that the history of the world is moving toward a certain goal fixed by God, in order that one class may fear, and that the other may have a firm support in every temptation, and the certain hope of final victory. And we ought therefore not to be astonished if Isaiah, the greatest of all the prophets, penetrates by the spiritual vision given to him into the most distant future. This only would with reason surprise us,—if Isaiah should describe the distant future as one who had experienced it and passed through it. But this is not the case. For we clearly perceive that the pictures of the future which he presents to us are enigmatical to himself. He takes his stand in the present time; he is not only a man, but also an Israelite of his own age. He depicts the destruction of the earth in such a way that we can see that it appears to him as the occurrence on a grand scale of what was well known to him, “the wasting of cities and countries.” From his point of view he distinguishes neither the exact chronological succession of the different objects, nor the real distance which separates him from the last things. And he is so much an Israelite that the judgment of the world appears to him as the closing act in the great controversy of Israel against the heathen nations. For DELITZSCH is perfectly right when he regards our chapters as the fitting finale to chaps. 13–23. The Prophet is, moreover, an Israelite of his own age. For, although he knows that the judgment will extend to all the nations that constitute the worldly power, nevertheless Assyria and Egypt stand in the foreground as its prominent representatives (27:12, 13). Only once, when he places the countries of the second exile over against those of the first, do the former appear in their natural double form as the countries of the Euphrates and of the Tigris, or, as it is there expressed (27:1), the straight and the crooked Leviathan. Under the latter we are to understand Babylon (see the Exposition). And in another place (25:10 sqq.) Moab appears for a particular reason (see the Exposition) as the representative of all the nations hostile to the theocracy. The same criticism, which would make the Almighty get out of the way wherever He makes His appearance within our sphere, has endeavored in various ways to refer this prophecy to particular situations in the world’s history. But here one interpreter is arrayed against the other, and one testimony destroys the other. After BERTHOLDT (Einleit., p. 1390), KNOBEL is of the opinion (shared by UMBREIT) that the prophecy points to the time when Jerusalem, which had been captured by the Chaldeans, was completely destroyed by Nebuzaradan (2 Kings 25:8 sqq.). EICHHORN (Hebr. Proph. III., p. 206 sqq.) refers the piece to the destruction of the empire of the Chaldeans, and assumes as its anthor a Hebrew dwelling in the ruined and desolate Palestine. ROSENMUELLER (Scholia 1 Ed.), GESENIUS and MAURER represent the piece as composed during the exile, at a time when the fall of Babylon was imminent (24:16 sqq.; 26:20 sq.; 27:1). BOETTCHER (de inf. § 435, 440) attributes the discourse to a merchant who, resident in the neighborhood of the country of the Moabites, journeyed on business between Assyria and Egypt, and appended his poem on the fall of Babylon (composed in the year 538) to that of another merchant on the fall of Tyre (23). EWALD refers the piece to the time “when Cambyses was preparing his Egyptian campaign.” These are the more important of the views of those who deny that Isaiah wrote these chapters. He who wishes to learn the other opinions may consult ROSENMUELLER, GESENIUS, HITZIG and KNOBEL.
There are four points which seem to me to prove to a demonstration that the Prophet has not in view ordinary events of history. First, the destruction of the globe of the earth announced, 24:18–20. For, when it is affirmed of the earth with a repetition of the word ארץ five times, that its foundations are shaken, that it is utterly broken, clean dissolved, moved exceedingly, and reels to and fro like a drunkard or a hammock, more is certainly intended thereby than a political revolution, or an occurrence in nature accompanying such a revolution. It is the shaking of the earth in a superlative sense—a shaking from which it will not rise again (Isa 24:20 b). Secondly, it is declared (Isa 24:21 sqq.) that the judgment will extend to the stars and the angelic powers, and that sun and moon will cease to rule the day and the night (Gen. 1:16), because Jehovah alone will be the source of light and glory (comp. the Exposition). Thirdly, 25:6–8, we have set before us in prospect the gathering together of all nations on Mount Zion, the removal of the covering from their eyes, the abolition of death and of every evil. This is no picture of earthly happiness. It points beyond the bounds of this world and of this dispensation.
Fourthly, the resurrection of the dead is foretold (26:19 sqq.) together with the last judgment which brings to light all hidden guilt. Every restriction of this prophecy to a mere wish involves a contradiction. For that this place really contains the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is acknowledged by all. But no one will affirm, much less be able to prove, that this resurrection was expected in the time of the exile, and in order to the re-peopling of Palestine; or, if the latter is the case, then the resurrection of the dead is not the subject of discourse. For it would be an unheard-of assertion to affirm that the Israelites expected that their return to Palestine and the resurrection should take place at the same time. And how arbitrary is the exegesis which limits “the inhabitant of the earth” Isa 24:21, to any particular people, and puts into the latter part of the verse the thought: the earth will restore the blood of those who were slain in a certain time! Passages can indeed be quoted in which we read of innocent blood that had been shed not penetrating into the earth (Job 16:18; Ezek. 24:7 sq). But the bringing forth again of all shed blood, and the coming forth of all that had been killed out of the earth belong naturally to eschatology. For these are preliminaries to the realization of the final judgment. If the view which refers this prophecy to events in the world’s history were correct, must there not be some mention of Nebuchadnezzar and of the Chaldeans, in order to justify the interpretation of BERTHOLDT, UMBREIT and KNOBEL? When we reflect what a mighty impression this worldly power made upon Jeremiah, and how, after the battle of Carchemish, he never comes forth as a Prophet without mentioning Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans, it is inconceivable how a Hebrew who was among those who suffered the crushing stroke from the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, could speak only of Egypt and Assyria, and at most, allusively and covertly, of the Chaldeans (27:1) as enemies of the theocracy. But if our piece refers to the capture of Babylon by Cyrus, why is there no mention of the Persians? And the same objection avails against all other interpretations which apply the passage to events in the history of the world. Against all of them the want of any specification of such events may be justly objected. In regard to the style, and to the range of thought that characterize this piece, the exact and minute investigation which lies at the basis of our exposition will show that the language is altogether that of Isaiah. If there are found in it manifold points of connection with other pieces which criticism has pronounced spurious, we have simply to say: in view of the large amount of words and expressions that we find here, undoubtedly germane to the authentic style of Isaiah, we are entitled to draw the reverse conclusion, and to affirm that those pieces must be genuine, because they resemble so much our prophecy which undoubtedly has proceeded from Isaiah. The accumulation of paronomasias, which are pronounced devoid of taste, has been made a cause of reproach to our piece. But it must be shown that these paronomasias are more tasteless than other such forms of speech, which we meet with in the acknowledged compositions of Isaiah, and that they are of a different kind. So long as this is not done, I venture to affirm that this ingenious facility in the management of language best corresponds to the eminent intellectual gifts of Isaiah, which we know sufficiently from other sources. Persons of such mental power, and possessing such a command of language, are at all times rare. According to our modern criticism there must have been dozens of them among the Israelites at the time of the captivity. But I fear that such a judgment is only possible when the critics, because they cannot, or will not perceive the divinely great in these works of genius, so degrade them by the aid of their intolerably petty and vulgar standard, that, in sooth, any bungler might have composed them. Further, against regarding Isaiah as the author of these chapters it has been objected that they contain many peculiar thoughts and expressions which occur only here. But what does this objection amount to? Do these thoughts and expressions contradict Isaiah’s manner of thinking and speaking? No one has yet been able to prove this. But if this is not the case, the circumstance that they occur only here is of no significance whatever. For among the chapters of Isaiah that are acknowledged genuine, there is not a single one which does not contain thoughts and words that are new and peculiar to it alone. This is not surprising in a mind so inexhaustibly fertile as that of Isaiah. The objection drawn from the occurrence of ideas that are said to belong to a later age, might be of more weight. To this class of ideas is referred the curse of the law (24:6). But apart from Deut. 28–30 (comp. espec. 29:19), that the curse should fall on transgressors of the law is so obvious an idea, that it is inconceivable that it should be regarded as the sign of a later time. That it happens not to occur in writings universally admitted to precede the age of Isaiah may appear strange, but is no proof of the later origin of these chapters. That gods are spoken of as protecting powers of kingdoms, 24:21, is just as little established as that the sun and moon, 24:23, are named as objects of idolatrous homage (comp. our Exposition). The cessation of death (25:8), and the resurrection of the dead (26:19) are closely connected. Both are confessedly ideas which could not have entered clearly into the consciousness of the Israelites till they had attained an advanced stage of religious culture. But that the Israelites first received this doctrine when, in exile, from Parseeism is, as KLOSTERMANN says, “an unfounded, unproved, modern tradition.” VON HOFMANN is certainly right when he sees in the first, and fundamental promise [Gen. 3:15] the basis of the hope that “finally everything will have an end that has come into the world through the enemy of God—sin and death.” This does not prevent this passage from belonging to the oldest documents of the awakening consciousness of this hope of faith. As we cannot see in this a proof of the composition of this piece during the exile, so it appears to us equally improbable that this event, which belongs to the final history of the world, could escape the eye of an Isaiah.
In regard to the time of composition, it is very difficult to say anything definite. More particular indications fixing the date are entirely wanting. The Prophet, as it were, soars high above his time, and as if cut loose from it, lives wholly in the future. Nevertheless, he beholds the theocracy in conflict with Assyria and Egypt; and even Babylon appears, although but dimly disclosed, among these foes. If we add that these chapters follow immediately the prophecies against the heathen nations, and appear as the winding up of the same, the supposition very readily suggests itself that they were composed in the time of Hezekiah, and as DELITZSCH says, as finale to chapters 13–23. The manifold points of connection with later pieces by Isaiah, which we will particularly point out in the course of our exposition, favor this view.
The structure of the piece indicates no little art. The number two lies at its basis. There are twice two chapters, of which the first and third have the final judgment of the world for their subject, the second and fourth the deliverance of Israel. Each of these four chapters again consists of two parts.
We make out the following plan of the piece:
1) The beginning of distress; the destruction of the surface of the earth (24:1–12).
2) The destruction of the globe of the earth (24:13–23).
3) Israel’s song of praise for the deliverance experienced (25:1–5).
4) Zion as the place of the feast given to all nations in contrast to Moab that perishes ingloriously (25:6–12).
5) The judgment as the realization of the idea of justice (26:1–10).
6) The resurrection of the dead, and the concluding act in the judgment of the world (26:11–21).
7) The downfall of the worldly powers and Zion’s joyful hope (27:1–9).
8) The fall of the city of the world and Israel’s glad restoration (27:10–13).
1. THE BEGINNING OF DISTRESS: THE DESTRUCTION OF THE SURFACE OF THE EARTH
1 BEHOLD the LORD maketh the earth empty,
And maketh it waste,
And 1turneth it upside down,
And scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.
2 And it shall be,
As with the people, so with the 2priest;
As with the servant, so with his master;
As with the maid, so with her mistress;
As with the buyer, so with the seller;
As with the lender, so with the borrower;
As with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him.
3 The 3land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled:
For the LORD hath spoken this word.
4 The earth mourneth, and fadeth away,
The world languisheth and fadeth away,
The 4haughty people of the earth do languish.
5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof;
Because they have transgressed the laws,
Changed the ordinance,
Broken the everlasting covenant.
6 Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth,
And they that dwell therein are desolate:
Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned,
And few men left.
7 The new wine mourneth,
The vine languisheth,
All the merry-hearted do sigh.
8 The mirth of tabrets ceaseth,
The noise of them that rejoice endeth,
The joy of the harp ceaseth.
9 They shall not drink wine with a song;
Strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it.
10 The city of 5confusion is broken down:
Every house is shut up, that no man may come in.
11 There is a crying for wine in the streets;
All joy is darkened,
The mirth of the land is gone.
12 In the city is left desolation,
And the gate is smitten with destruction.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Isa 24:1. בּוֹקֵק (comp. 19:3 and Isa 24:3; Hos. 10:1; Nah. 11:3; Jer. 19:7; 51:2), part. from בָּקַק to pour out, to empty, forms with בּולקה (devastare) a paronomasia, as also Nah. 2:11, where only the word occurs again. עִוָּה pervertere, conturbare (comp. 21:3 Niph., Piel besides only Lam. 3:9) is here applied to the surface of the earth in the sense of throwing confusedly together everything found upon it.
Isa 24:2. On כְּ—כְּ = as, so, ὥς—ὥς comp. EWALD, § 360. The abnormal employment of the article in כַּגְּבִרְתָּהּ is occasioned by the endeavor to produce an assonance with נשֶׁה ּכַּשִפְחָה is creditor, and of like meaning with מַלְוֶה, but the idea of usury seems to be involved in נשֶׁה.
Isa 24:3. תִּבּוֹז ,תִּבּוֹק instead of תּבַּז ,תִּבַּק may be regarded as forms borrowed from the related עו—stems, and are here chosen for the sake of conformity with the infinitive forms הִבּוֹז ,הִבּוֹק.
Isa 24:4. The half pause, which is indicated by the punctuation אֻמְלָלוּ, has the force of a dash in our language. The application to personal beings of this predicate, that had been used previously of lifeless things, is thereby emphasized.
Isa 24:6. הרר in Kal only here, Niph. 41:11; 45:24.
Isa 24:7. אָנַח (current only in Niph.) is found only here in Isaiah, probably borrowed from Joel 1:18.
Isa 24:10. מִבּוֹא as 23:1.
Isa 24:12. שְׁאִיָּה is ἅπ. λεγ. and stands in apposition to the object, or, as the word is passive, in apposition to the subject of יֻכַּת, to express what should be made of the object or subject. Translate: The gate is smitten to ruins. Comp. 6:11; 37:26. On the form יֻכַּת (Hoph. from כָּתַת contundere, 11:4; 30:14) comp. OLSHAUSEN, Gram., § 261.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. The Prophet transports himself in spirit to the end of all things. He describes the destruction of the world. He sees, however, that this destruction will be gradually accomplished. He here depicts the first scene: the destruction of all that exists on the surface of the earth. This destruction bears the closest resemblance to such desolations of countries and cities as even now occur in consequence of wars. Hence the Prophet borrows the colors for this his first picture of the destruction of the world from such occurrences in actual history. Jehovah empties, devastates, depopulates the surface of the earth (Isa 24:1), and the inhabitants are without distinction of person swept away (Isa 24:2); and this work of emptying and devastation is thoroughly accomplished (Isa 24:3). In consequence, inanimate nature appears mourning, and every height and glory of creation has vanished (Isa 24:4); and this too is quite natural, for the earth has been defiled by the sins of men (Isa 24:5). Therefore the curse has, as it were, devoured the earth; therefore men, with the exception of a small remnant, are destroyed from the earth (Isa 24:6). Therefore the precious productions of the earth that gladden the heart of man have vanished, and with them all joy on earth (Isa 24:7–9). The head of the earth, the great city of the world is a chaos of ruins, its houses no man enters any more (Isa 24:10). In the streets nothing is heard save lamentations over the loss of what gladdens the heart of man. All joy has departed (Isa 24:11). Nothing remains in the city but solitude and desolation. The gates are broken to pieces (Isa 24:12).
2. Behold the LORD … do languish.
Isa 24:1-4. הִנֵּה, with a participle following, frequently introduces in Isaiah the prophetic discourse 3:1; 8:7; 10:33; 13:9, 17; 17:1; 22:17et saepe. In general, this usage occurs in all the Prophets. But it is peculiar to Isaiah, quite abruptly and without any introductory formula to begin the prophetic discourse with הִנֵּה. The description of the destruction of the earth begins with its surface (comp. Isa 24:18b sqq.). To it the inhabitants also belong, for they can exist only on the surface. If now all things on the surface of the earth are thrown confusedly together, the inhabitants, too, are naturally scattered. הֵפִיץ, an expression which seems to be taken from the threatening words of Deuteronomy (comp. 4:27; 28:64; 30:3) is found besides in Isaiah only 28:25; 41:16. The LORD knows no respect of persons. When the great forces of nature by God’s command assail our race, then all are alike affected. In a desolation wrought by human hands the case can be different. Then the more distinguished persons are often treated otherwise than the poor, and are reserved for a better fate (comp. 1 Sam. 15:8 sq.; 2 Kings 25:27 sqq.). When “people” and “priest” are put in contrast, and not “people” and “prince” or “king,” the reason is to be sought in the fact that the priests in the theocracy form properly the nobility. The place, moreover, is a quotation from Hos. 4:9. Any citizen may become a king; but he only can be a priest who is of the priestly race. Comp. Lev. 21; Ezek. 44:15 sqq.; JOSEPHUSCon. Ap. I, 7; Mishna Kiddushin iv. 4. [The rightful King of Israel must according to the divine appointment be of the house of David.—D. M.] The sentence Isa 24:2 contains six comparisons. As in the first half of the verse, the second and third comparisons are not specifically distinct from one another, so is it too in the second half of the verse. With a repetition of assonant sounds, which like waves or shocks succeed one another, the Prophet paints the emptying and plundering of the earth. We have already remarked that he depicts the devastation of the surface of the earth in colors which are borrowed from the devastation of a single country by an earthly enemy. For that the subject treated of is the devastation of the earth, and not merely of the land of Palestine, appears from the whole scope of chapters 24–27, which are intended to depict the judgment of the world; and this point comes ever more clearly to light in the course of the prophecy. It might be asked: if ארץ is the earth, who then are the plunderers? But this is an idle question. For the Prophet sees in spirit an occurrence which appears to him at the first sight quite like the devastation of a country in war by a hostile military force. He sees great confusion, men shouting and fleeing, houses burning and falling down, smoke rising to heaven, etc. He sees no particular country; he sees no definite persons in the plundering enemies. It is a question if he really perceives plundering persons. For the whole representation is at first a comparatively indistinct picture which gradually attains greater clearness and definiteness. On the expression “For the LORD hath spoken,” which occurs more frequently in Isaiah than in the other Prophets, comp. on 1:2. The addition “this word“ is found only here. It is evidently used in order to continue in the second half of the verse the play with words by means of lingual and labial sounds. The effect of the devastation is that the land appears mourning and exhausted (Isa 24:4). Here too the Prophet heaps together assonant words. אָבַל to mourn, is used by Isaiah 3:26; 19:8; 33:9. The description in Joel 1:9 sq. seems to have been here before his mind. נָבַל, to hall off, from being withered, is used by Isaiah 1:30; 28:1, 4; 34:4; 64:5. תֵּבֵל, the earth (either as terra fertilis, or as οἰκουμένη, never as designation of a single country) is a current word with Isaiah. Comp. on 13:11. עם הארץ, an expression which Isaiah does not elsewhere employ, seems to denote here the inhabitants of the earth in general. This is the rather possible, as our place is the first and oldest in which the expression occurs. It has not here the specific sense of “common people,” plebs, in opposition to people of rank, in which sense it afterwards occurs. Comp. my remarks on Jer. 1:18. מָרוֹם is the abstract for the concrete, the height for the high and eminent. Not only inanimate creation, man too presents the sad look of decay. What among men blooms and flourishes, as well as the fresh green vegetation, becomes withered and languid.
3. The earth also is defiled——covenant.
Isa 24:5. This verse must be regarded as related to what precedes as the statement of the cause. For here the sins of men are pointed out. But sin has punishment for its necessary consequence. We must say, therefore, that there lies a causal power in the wav with which this verse begins; as is not unfrequently the case. That the land is defiled through blood-guiltiness and other sin is declared Numb. 35:33, which place Isaiah has probably in his eye, (comp. Jer. 3:1, 2, 9). תַּחַת is to be taken in the local sense. The earth lies as a polluted thing under the feet of its inhabitants. How could such polluted ground be suffered to exist? It is an object of wrath, it must be destroyed. The second half of the verse tells by what the earth has been defiled; men have transgressed the divine laws, have wantonly slighted the ordinance, and broken the everlasting covenant (30:8; 55:3). תּוֹרוֹת only here in Isaiah, is frequent in the Pentateuch: Gen. 26:5; Exod. 16:28; 18:16, 20et saepe.חָלַף of the law only here. Mark the assonance with חנף. The radical meaning of the word is “to change,” comp. on 2:18; 8:8; 9:9; 21:1. Not only to the people of Israel has God given a law, not merely with this people has God made a covenant; the Noachic covenant is for all men; yea, in a certain sense for all creatures on the earth (Gen. 9:1 sqq., and Isa 24:9 sqq.). God has given witness of Himself to all men (Acts 14:17), and made it possible for all to perceive His invisible power and godhead (Rom. 1:20). The Prophet indicates here the deep moral reason why our earth cannot forever continue in its present material form.
4. Therefore hath the curse—drink it.
Isa 24:6-9. On the statement of the cause, Isa 24:5, follows anew with “therefore” the declaration of the consequences, so that Isa 24:5 serves as a basis both for what precedes and what follows. The same condition is described in the main by Isa 24:6–12 as by Isa 24:1–4. Only in so far are Isa 24:6–12 of a different import, as they prominently set forth not only the general, but the special experiences of men through the withdrawal of the noblest fruit, wine, and as they from verse 10 direct the look to the great centre of the earth, the city of the world. Jeremiah has our place in general before his eyes (33:10). The curse is conceived as the devouring fire of the divine wrath (Exod. 24:17; Deut. 4:24; 9:3; Isa. 10:16 sq.; 29:6; 30:27–30; 33:14). The expression אלה אכלה (mark the assonance with Isa 24:4) occurs only here. אָשַׁם (in Isaiah only here) denotes in this connection, not “to be guilty, to contract guilt,” but “to suffer the punishment of guilt.” Comp. Hos. 10:2; 14:1et saepe. The effect of that burning wrath which devours the guilty, extends first to men. These are parched by it, their sap is dried up (Ps. 32:4). But where the sap of life is dried up, death ensues, and, in consequence, but few people remain on the earth. This surviving of a small remnant is confessedly a very significant point in Isaiah’s prophecy (4:3; 6:13; 10:19 sqq.; 11:11, 16; 17:6). Isaiah uses the word אֱנֹושׁ more frequently than the other Prophets. He employs it six times beside the case before us; 8:1; 13:7–12; 33:8; 51:7; 56:2. Of the other Prophets only Jeremiah uses it, and but once. In the book of Job the word occurs 19 times. מִזְעָר is found only in Isaiah; 10:25; 29:17; 16:14. זְעֵיּר also is found only Isa. 28:10, 13, and Job 36:2. שִׂמְחֵי לֵב occurs only here. מָשׂוֹשׂ occurs 17 times in the Old Testament; of these 10 times in Isaiah;. 8:6; 24:8 (bis), 11; 32:13, 14; 60:15; 62:5; 65:18; 66:10. Isa 24:8תֹּף the tambourine 5:12; 30:32. שָׁאוֹן eight times in Isaiah (5:14; 13:4; 17:12 (bis), 13; 24:8; 25:5; 66:6); in the whole Old Testament 17 times. עַלִּיז, save in two dependent places in Zeph. (2:15; 3:11), only in Isaiah 13:3; 22:2; 23:7; 32:13 comp. 5:14. The only Prophet save Ezekiel (26:13) that uses כִּנּוֹר is Isaiah; he has it five times: 5:12; 16:11; 23:16; 24:8; 30:32. In בַּשִׁיר observe the בְּ marking accompaniment. שִיר is used five times by Isaiah (23:16; 26:1; 30:29; 42:10). No other Prophet employs the word so frequently. מָרַר, to be bitter, in Isaiah in different forms three times: 22:4; 24:9; 38:17. שֵׁכָר intoxicating drink; with the exception of MICAH who uses the word once (2:11), it is used by no other Prophet save Isaiah 5:11, 22; 24:9; 28:7ter;56:12. Isaiah, after having foretold, Isa 24:7, the destruction of the vine, the noblest fruit of the ground, depicts its consequence, the cessation of joy which wine produces (Ps. 104:15).
5. The city of confusion——destruction.
Isa 24:10-12. In these three verses the Prophet proceeds to describe the destiny of the great worldly city, the head and centre of the kingdom of the world. It is not surprising that he gives particular prominence to it, when we consider how largely Babylon figures in prophecy (comp. my remarks on Jeremiah 50 and 51 Introduction). I would not, however, be understood as affirming that our Prophet had Babylon specifically before his mind. Isaiah intends just the city of the world κατ̓ ἐξοχήν, whatever name it might bear. I do not think that קריה is to be taken collectively as 25:3. (ARNDTde Jes. xxiv–xxvii. Commentatio, 1826, p. 10, DRECHSLER,etc.). For it is unnecessary to emphasize the cities beside the level country. No one looks for their specification; for every one includes the cities in all that has been previously said of the ארץ or תבל. But an emphatic mention of the city of the world, the proper focus of worldliness, corresponds to its importance. The place 25:3 cannot be compared; for there the context and construction (plural verbs) are decidedly in favor of our taking the word as a collective. That under this city we do not understand Jerusalem, as most do, is self-evident from our view of this passage. The city of the world is called the city of emptiness, [not confusion] because worldliness has in it its seat and centre, and worldliness is essentially תֹּהוּi.e., vanitas, inanity, emptiness, תֹּהוּ is used in this sense (29:21; 34:11; 40:17, 23; 41:29; 44:9; 45:18, 19; 49:4; 59:4; 1 Sam. 12:21). The Prophet declares that the inward chaos would also be outwardly manifested. Every thing here is in accordance with the style of Isaiah. שָׁבַר is used very often by Isaiah (8:16; 14:5; 17:25, 29; 27:11; 28:13; 30:14, et saepe). קּרְיָה is found sixteen times in the prophets; of these, ten times in Isaiah (1:21, 26; 22:2; 24:10; 25:2, 3; 26:5; 29:1; 32:13; 33:20). תּהוּ occurs twenty times in the O. T.; of these, eleven times in Isaiah; one of the places is admitted to be genuine (29:21); the other places where it occurs are assailed by the critics. We might wonder how one could speak of closed houses in a destroyed city. We may not understand this, with DRECHSLER, of some houses that remained uninjured. It was rather the falling of the houses that rendered them incapable of being entered into. In the street too (Isa 24:11) the lamentation at the loss of wine and the departure of all joy is repeated (comp. 16:7–10). עָרַב occurs only twice in the O. T.; viz.:Judges 19:9 and here. Its meaning is nigrum esse, obscurari, occidere. When all joy and life have fled from the city, nothing remains in it but desolation (Isa 24:12). If I am to state what future events will correspond to this prophecy of the first act of the judgment of the world, it appears to me that the description of the Prophet, as it refers solely to occurrences which have for their theatre the surface of the earth, corresponds to what our Lord in His discourse on the last things says of the signs of His coming, and of the beginning of sorrows (Matt. 24:6–8; Mark 13:7–8; Luke 21:9 sqq.). And the beginning of sorrows corresponds again to what the Revelation of John represents under the image of seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven vials (chap. 6 sqq.).
Heb. perverteth the face thereof.
Heb. the height of the people.
When thus it shall be in the midst of the land among the people, there shall be as the shaking of an olive tree, and as the gleaning grapes when the vintage is done.2. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE GLOBE
13 6When thus it shall be in the midst of the land among the people,
There shall be as the shaking of an olive tree,
And as the gleaning grapes when the vintage is done.
14 They shall lift up their voice,
They shall sing for the majesty of the LORD,
They shall cry aloud from the sea.
15 Wherefore glorify ye the LORD in the 8fires,
Even the name of the LORD God of Israel in the isles of the sea.
16 From the 9uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs,
Even glory to the righteous.
But I said,
10My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me!
The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously;
Yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously.
17 Fear, and the pit, and the snare are upon thee,
O inhabitant of the earth.
18 And it shall come to pass,
That he who fleeth from the noise of the fear
Shall fall into the pit;
And he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit
Shall be taken in the snare:
For the windows from on high are open,
And the foundations of the earth do shake.
19 The earth is utterly broken down;
The earth is clean dissolved,
The earth is moved exceedingly.
20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard,
And shall 11be removed like a cottage;
And the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it;
And it shall fall,
And not rise again.
21 And it shall come to pass in that day,
That the LORD shall 12punish the host of the high ones that are on high,
And the kings of the earth upon the earth.
22 And they shall be gathered together, 13as prisoners are gathered in 14the pit,
And shall be shut up in the prison,
And after many days shall they be 15visited.
23 Then the moon shall be confounded,
And the sun ashamed,
When the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem,
And 16before his ancients gloriously.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Isa 24:13. The impersonal expression כה יהיה is to be understood as וְהָיָה 17:5.
Isa 24:19. רֹעָה is a substantive as בֶּגֶד in Isa 24:16 and אֲסֵפָה in Isa 24:22; three examples in this chapter of the infin. abs. being represented by a substantive formed from the same stem. Isa 24:22. Many would connect אַסִּיר with אֲסֵפָה; but אַסִּיר is really in apposition to the subject involved in אֻסִּפוּ. The singular אַסִּיר need not cause surprise; comp. 20:4. The case before us comes under the category of the ideal number treated of, NAEGELSBACH Gr., § 61, 1 sq. עַל stands in the signification of אֵל. Comp. on 10:3.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. The Prophet depicts here the second stage of the world’s destruction. This consists substantially in the shattering of the globe of the earth itself. The transition is formed by the thought, Isa 24:13, that only few men, a gleaning, as it were, will survive the first catastrophe. But these saved ones are the pious, the elect of God. These flee to the promised land, to Jerusalem. From the sea, i.e., from the west, the prophet hears the song of praise (Isa 24:14). He answers by calling on east and west to praise the name of the Lord (Isa 24:15). This summons is obeyed. We perceive from this, that the elect of God are hidden in a safe place (Isa 24:16a). But that is just the occasion for the signal to be given for the occurrence of the last and most frightful catastrophe. The Prophet announces it with an exclamation of anxiety and terror. At the same time he declares why it must be so; the sin of men provokes the judgment of God (Isa 24:16b). He characterizes beforehand the catastrophe as one which shall take place in different successive acts, each more severe than the preceding, so that he who has escaped the first blow will certainly fall under the second or the third (Isa 24:17, 18a). For, as at the deluge, the windows of heaven will be opened, and the foundations of the earth will be broken up (Isa 24:18b). The globe of the earth will then rend, burst, break (Isa 24:19), reel like a drunken man. The earth cannot bear the load of sin. It must, therefore, fall to rise again no more (Isa 24:20). But the judgment of God is not confined to the earth: The angelic powers that are hostile to God will, as well as the representatives of the worldly power on earth, be cast into the abyss, and there shut up for a time; but after a certain term has expired, they will again be liberated (Isa 24:21, 22). Sun and moon, too, will lose their brightness, so that only in one place of the world can safety be found, namely, in Zion. For, although the rest of the earth be shattered, Zion, the holy mount, remains uninjured. For there Jehovah rules as king, and through the heads of His people there gathered round Him will He communicate His glory to His people also (Isa 24:23).
2. When thus it shall be—treacherously.
Isa 24:13-16. In the olive and grape harvest the great mass of the fruit is shaken or plucked off and cast into the press. Only few berries remain on the olive tree or vine. The few remaining olives are struck off with a stick. The few grapes remaining on the vine are afterwards cut off. When, then, at the close of the catastrophe depicted in Isa 24:1–13, only few persons survive, that is a proof of the extent of the catastrophe, and a measure whereby to estimate it. This by the way of explaining the כִי. [Translate, “For thus it shall be;” not as in the E. V. “When thus it shall be,” etc.]. But few escape destruction. These are the elect. To these few, who are by implication supposed in Isa 24:13b, הֵמָּה, Isa 24:14, refers. They exult at their deliverance, which they owe to the majesty of Jehovah, רנן is found as here connected with צָהַל12:6; 54:1. רנן occurs frequently in the first and second part of Isaiah. גָאוֹן is an expression very common in Isaiah. But why does the Prophet hear from the sea, i.e., from the west the exulting shout of them that have escaped? We cannot, with DRECHSLER and some older interpreters, take מִיָּם in the comparative sense (they shall cry aloud more than the sea); for צהל, an onomatopoetic word, denotes a clear sound (like the neighing of a horse) which cannot be compared with the thunder of the sea. Does there lie in the expression מים something like a foreboding of the fact that the Church of the LORD would spread especially in the lands of the west, and that, therefore, the great mass of the redeemed would come from that quarter? From the moment when the Prophet announced the comforting word (Isa 24:13, 14), all the godly dwelling in the east and west are to praise the name of the LORD who has given to them, in place of the terrible day of judgment, the promise of deliverance. There can be no doubt that the word אֻרִים is connected with אוּר ,אוֹר (ignis, flamma, a word peculiar to Isaiah; for beside Isaiah 31:9; 44:16; 47:14; 50:11, it is found only Ezek. 5:2, and there probably as a reminiscence from Isaiah) and with אוּרִים (on the breastplate of the high-priest). As the light rises daily in the east of the earth, as in opposition to it the north is conceived as צָפוֹן (plaga abscondita, caliginosa), as the Greeks too designate the eastern region of the heavens by πρὸς ἠῶ τ’ ἠέλιόν τε (Il. xii. 239 et saepe), we are justified in understanding by אֻרִים the countries of light, or the sun, i.e. the east. The meaning “eastern countries” answers well to the “islands of the sea” in the parallel clause. There is no need for altering the text. In Isa 24:14 those who are saved are described as coming with jubilation, and in Isa 24:15 all who desire deliverance are summoned to shout for joy. This explains how the Prophet, Isa 24:16, actually hears songs of praise (comp. 12:2; 51:3; 25:5) from the end of the earth (כָּנָףala, ora, extremity; כנף הארץ only here, yet comp. 11:12). The theme of the songs is צְבִי לַצַּדִּיק. If it were said כָּבוֹד ל׳, I would unhestitatingly refer צדיק to God. But, as DELITZSCH well remarks, Jahve bestows צְבִי4:2; 28:5; but to him כּבוֹד is given. The thought is like that in Rom. 2:6 sqq. Every one is rewarded according to his works. Therefore praise (צְבִיornatus, decus, splendor4:2; 13:19; 23:9; 28:1, 4, 5) is to the righteous, but tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil. The fundamental idea of the divine judgment is thus expressed. The Prophet has seen the one side “glory to the righteous” fulfilled. These, the righteous, have arrived at their hiding place. They are gathered on the holy mountain, and find there protection (4:5 sq.). But thereby the sign is given that now the judgment can begin, and has to begin on the ungodly. This prospect agitates the Prophet exceedingly. He sees himself in that fatal moment fear and quake, and hears himself breaking out into the words רזי לי וגו׳. This he introduces with ואמר.רָזי. is ἅπ. λεγ. But the signification is clear. The verb רָזָה denotes attenuare, maciare (17:4). The Prophet feels his powers wasting away as the effect of the extraordinary terror (comp. Dan. 7:28; 8:27; 10:16 sqq.). He next declares that the צדיק has his counterpart on earth in the בֹכֵּד. As the former has glory for his portion from a just God, so the latter receives “fear and the pit and the snare.” It will have been seen that I do not take בגד in the sense of “robber,” but retain its proper signification of perfidy, faithlessness, falling away (21:2; 33:1; 48:8). The Prophet by the accumulation and repetition of verbal and substantive forms of בָּנד indicates that this perfidy and faithlessness were exercised in the highest degree, and in all forms.
3. Fear and the pit——rise again.
Isa 24:17–20. By three assonant words which sound in accord not only with one another, but also with the immediately preceding symphony, the Prophet characterizes, first in general terms, the terrible catastrophe, the second act of the judgment of the world. By the threefold series of punishments the impossibility of escaping judgment is effectively set before the eyes. And then, in particular, the all-embracing character of the judgment which lets nothing escape, is exhibited by showing how the earth is affected above, below, and in the midst, and shaken till it is broken down. First, the windows (ארבותcancelli, fenestrae, Gen. 7:11; 8:2 comp. Isa. 60:8) from on high,i.e., from heaven, are opened, not to let rain fall in order to produce a deluge; for the earth shall not be destroyed again by water (Gen. 9:11). But the LORD has yet other weapons. Wind, fire, thunder and lightning, drought, pestilence, etc., are also God’s instruments of punishment, and they also in a certain sense come from on high (comp. Ps. 78:49). The foundations of the earth (58:12, comp. 40:21) are the foundations on which the earth rests. These shall be shaken (13:13; 14:16). Then the globe of the earth, assailed from above, and from beneath deprived of its supports, must feel in itself the powerful hand of Almighty God. Four times in succession is the word “the earth” or “earth” used with emphasis. Terrible, not merely local, but universal earthquakes shake the earth. It receives rents, becomes full of breaks, totters (40:20; 41:7; 54:10), reels (6:4; 7:2; 19:1; 29:9; 37:22) as the drunkard (generic article) and oscillates to and fro as the hammock shaken by the wind (1:8). Who could deem it possible that there is a burden which the earth that sustains everything, cannot bear, by which it is crushed as a house too heavily burdened? This burden is sin (1:4; Ps. 38:5). This is the destruction of men and of things. Where God’s creation is tainted with it, it must come to naught. As man, the lord of creation, fell by sin, so must the earth also, the theatre of human history, fall by sin never again to rise in its previous form. The words It shall fall and not rise again, are a clear proof that the total destruction of the globe of the earth in its present form is the subject treated of. In its present form! For the earth shall rise again in a higher, holy form beyond the range of sin and its consequence, death. For there is a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (65:17; 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1).
4. And it shall come—gloriously.
Isa 24:21-23. The Prophet now lifts up his eye to the super-terrestrial sphere. As the lot of the earth is affected by the influence of that sphere, so the swoop of the judgment that falls upon the earth must reach even to it. That צבא המרום are not earthly powers (LUTHER“hohe Ritterschaft,”TARGUM, CALVIN, HAVEERNICK and others), may be inferred even from the expression צבא; for the high ones of the earth do not form a צָבָא. Moreover צבא חמרום is evidently identical with “the host of heaven,” 34:4, and by the addition בַּמָּרום this צבא המרוֹם is more than sufficiently distinguished from every conceivable צבא המרום upon the earth. That the host of the height are only the stars, as HOFMANN (Schriftbeweis II. 2, p. 522) would have it, seems to be rendered by the context incredible. For how could the irrational glories of heaven be put in conjunction with the rational glories of the earth? The former correspond not to our kings, but to our earth itself. How, too, can we conceive a judgment executed on a world, without its affecting at the same time those intelligent beings that stand in any connection with that world? It seems to me to be likewise one-sided to refer צבא המרום merely to the angels, who are said to be heads and guardians of the separate kingdoms (Dan. 10:13, 20; ROSENMUELLER, HITZIG, DELITZSCH, and others), or to the heathen gods conceived of as angels (KNOBEL). The judgment of God falls certainly on every thing that can be called צבא המרום, so far as it has at all merited the judgment. The expression is found only here; but the nearly related expression, “the host of heaven,” is frequently used to designate, sometimes, the host of the stars (40:26; 45:12; Jer. 8:2; 33:22; Dan. 8:10), sometimes, the angelic world (1 Kings 22:19; Ps. 103:21; Neh. 9:6, and the expression צְבָאוֹת), sometimes, perhaps, both together (Deut. 4:19; 17:3; 2 Kings 17:16; 21:3, 5; Isa. 34:4; Zeph. 1:5). The host of the height and the kings of the earth are both the subject of אספו, Isa 24:22. As now we have shown that the host of the height can designate the world of angels, and as the Scripture clearly testifies that the angels are bound as a punishment for their apostasy (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6; Rev. 20:1–3), can not the Prophet’s eye have perceived this feature of the picture of what will take place at the end of the world? The invisible, extramundane heads of the worldly power, as well as their earthly, visible organs, will, according to the statement of the Prophet, be collected as prisoners in the pit, and shut up in it. The pit is here used for Sheol as oftentimes (14:15, 19; 38:18). But not merely the binding of those angelic and worldly powers, their being set loose for a time is also announced by the Prophet. Only by a brief, obscure word, probably not seen through by himself, does the Prophet intimate this. Even we should not understand this word if the revelation of the New Testament, which is nearer the time of the fulfilment, did not throw light on this dark point. It declares expressly that after a thousand years Satan should be loosed out of his prison (Rev. 20:7). Isaiah uses here an indefinite announcement of time—after many days—and an indefinite verb. פקד stands here as 23:17 of a visiting which consists in looking again after some one who has remained for a time neglected (Jer. 27:22). This ἐπισκέπτειν can be a gracious visitation, but it can also be a new stage in the visitation of judgment. That we have to take the word here in the latter sense is seen from the place quoted from the Revelation of John. The setting loose of Satan is only the prelude to his total destruction, Rev. 20:10. Then follows the last, highest and grandest revelation of God. The earth now becomes what it ought originally to have been, but which it was hindered from being by sin, viz., the common dwelling-place of God and of men. The heavenly Jerusalem, the tabernacle in which God dwells with men (Rev. 21:3) descends upon the renovated earth. This is the Jerusalem in which according to Isa 24:23, Jehovah Zebaoth reigns as King. This city needs no sun and no moon any more—for the LORD Himself is its light (Rev. 21:23; 22:5). Before this light the earthly sun (חַמָּה, 30:26) and the earthly moon (ibid.) grow pale (comp. 1:29); they which were created to rule the day and to rule the night, resign their dominion to Him who alone and everywhere from this time on will from mount Zion rule the earth. Here too is the place where the redeemed of the Lord (Isa 24:13–16) find everlasting rest and protection (4:5 sq.). The Prophet has already (1:22 sqq.) shown the importance of rulers for the moral condition of the people. The whole history of the people is a proof of their importance. In the new Jerusalem the new Israel will have new elders also, who will not be the promoters of wickedness and misery any more, but of all that is good and glorious (3:14). The elders of the Apocalypse, who perhaps bear their name from this place before us, are, therefore, in my opinion, not angels, as HOFMANN will have them to be, but representatives of the people of God. For why should there not be order and organization even in the kingdom of glory?
For thus it shall be.
the lands of light, the east.
Heb. leanness to me, or, my secret to me.
shake like a hammock.
Heb. visit upon.
Heb. with the gathering of prisoners.
Or, found wanting.
Or, There shall be glory before his ancients.