Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.7. THE DOWNFALL OF THE WORDLY POWERS AND ZION’S JOYFUL RESURRECTION
1 IN that day the LORD with his1 sore and great and strong sword,
Shall punish leviathan the 2 3piercing serpent,
Even leviathan, that crooked serpent;
And he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.
2 In that day sing ye unto her,
A vineyard of red wine.
3 I the LORD do keep it;
I will water it every moment.
Lest any hurt it,
I will keep it night and day.
4 Fury is not in me;
Who 4 would set the briers and thorns against me in battle?
I would 5go through them,
I would burn them together.
5 Or let him take hold of my strength,
That he may make peace with me;
And he shall make peace with me.
6 6 He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root:
Israel shall blossom and bud,
And fill the face of the world with fruit.
7 Hath he smitten him, 7as he smote those that smote him?
Or is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him?
8 In measure, 8when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it;
9 10He stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind.
9 By this, therefore, shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged;
And this is all the fruit to take away his sin;
When he maketh all the stones of the altar
As 11chalkstones that are beaten in sunder,
The 12groves and 13images shall not stand up.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Isa 27:2. On the authority of the Septuagint (ἀμπελὼν καλὸς ἐπιθν́μημα), of the Targum (vinea plantata in terra bona), and of many codices and editions, many interpreters read חֶמֶד, which finds support in כַּרְמֵי־חֶמֶד, Amos 5:11, and שְׂדֵי חֶמֶד, Isa. 32:12. Comp. 5:7; Jer. 3:19. Although חמר is the more difficult reading, חֶמֶד is perhaps to be preferred here. For what does כרם חמר mean? [But compare גֶפֶן הַיַּיִן, Numb. 6:4; Jud. 13:14, and such phrases as a mine of wealth, a well of water. Though Dr. NAEGELSBACH follows most modern commentators in preferring the reading חמד, there is no necessity for altering here the common text of the Hebrew Bible.—D. M.]. If the supposition be made that כֶּרֶם denotes a plantation in general, and כֶּרֶם זַיִת, Judg. 15:5, be appealed to, still כרם alone denotes a vineyard in so many places that the addition חמר appears pleonastic. [But this objection would equally avail against such an expression as a spring of water.—D. M.]. It cannot be proved that חמר denotes a nobler kind of wine. I prefer therefore, with DRECHSLER and DELITZSCH, and many older interpreters, to read חֶמֶד.
Isa 27:5. DRECHSLER is in error in thinking that יעשׂה cannot be taken as jussive. Comp. NAEGELSBACH, § 90, 3, c.
Isa 27:6. הִשְׁרִישׁ radices agere (Job 5:3; Ps. 80:10) is denominative from שֹׁרֵשׁ (comp. 48:24).
Isa 27:8. The word בסאסאה is best derived from סְאָה mensura, so that the word is contracted from בִּסְאָה סְאָה. Dagesh forte in the second ס arises from the assimilation of the ה, while the first א has completely lost its power as a consonant. Compare לִקְרַאת for חַטַאת ,לְקִרְאַת for חַטְּאַת.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. If we consider that Isa 27:1, 10 and 11 of this chapter are directed against the worldly power, while Isa 27:2–9, and 12, 13, contain words of comfort for Israel, we ascertain that the chapter is divided into two principal parts, each of which again consists of two subdivisions which correspond to one another. The Prophet sees here also the salvation of Israel set off by the foil of the judgment inflicted on the heathen worldly power. If we connect, as many do, Isa 27:1 with chap. 26. we destroy the beautiful parallelism of chapter 27, violate the principle of the number two, which dominates chaps, 24–27, and bring Isa 27:1 into a connection to which it does not belong. For after the words in 26:21, which are of so general a character, chap. 27. would not follow naturally; and is not 27:1, by the formula in that day, even as manifestly separated from 26:21 as it is connected thereby with 27:2? As chapter 25. is related to chapter 24, so is chap. 27. related to chap. 26. As in chap. 25. Mount Zion emerges from the all-embracing scenes of judgment as the only place of salvation and peace, so the leading thought in chap. 27 is seen to be Israel’s victory over its enemies, the worldly powers, and its deliverance from their grasp, in order, as a united people, to partake of salvation on Mount Zion. The Prophet in 25:10 sqq., set forth the worldly powers under the name of Moab, and he now gives a different emblematic representation of them. He exhibits them under the form of beasts as the straight and the coiled Leviathan, and as the crocodile. Of all these he declares that they will be vanquished by the mighty sword of Jehovah (Isa 27:1). A call is at the same time made by him to begin a hymn regarding Israel, as he himself had already done, 25:1 sqq. (Isa 27:2). In this hymn Jehovah Himself is introduced as the Speaker. He declares that He will faithfully protect and tend Israel as His vineyard (Isa 27:3). And if hostile powers, like thorns and thistles, should desire again to injure the vineyard, He will terribly intervene, and burn them up (verse 4): unless they make peace with Him by humble and believing submission under His might (5). Israel shall accordingly in the distant future take root, blossom and bud, and fill the earth with its fruits (Isa 27:6). That the prospect of such a glorious future is disclosed to Israel ought not to seem strange. Think how the LORD has hitherto treated Israel. It has never been exposed to such destructive strokes as its enemies (Isa 27:7). The LORD metes out punishment to Israel in spoonfuls, not by the bushel, punishing it only by temporary rejection when He makes His breath pass over the land like a blast of the east wind (Isa 27:8). And by these very chastisements Israel’s guilt is purged, and Israel reaps then the blessed fruit, that the stones of the altars of its false gods are become as lime-stones that are crushed and cast away, and that therefore the images of Ashtoreth and of the sun will stand up no more (Isa 27:9).
2. In that day——in the sea.
Isa 27:1. The expression in that day indicates here too that what is introduced by this formula belongs to the same stage of the world’s history as what precedes. The Prophet freely uses the verb פקד in these chapters of punitive visitation: 24:21; 26:14, 21; 27:3. That יפקר here is connected with לפקד, 26:21, may be readily admitted. For truly the visitation spoken of in 27:1 is a part, yea, the chief part of that universal one which has for its object, according to 26:21, the whole population of the earth. But I cannot concede that the visitation 27:1 is absolutely identical with the one threatened in 26:21. For, as has been shown above, chap. 27 is not of so general a character as chap. 26. And the formula in that day points to a difference as well as to contemporaneousness. In 27:1 that part of the judgment is prominently set forth which has respect to the great worldly powers that are the immediate oppressors of Israel, as chaps, 25 and 27 have for their subject the singular position of Israel in the general judgment indicated by בהר ציון ובירושׁלים (24:23 comp. 25:6) or בהר הקדשׁ ובירושׁלים (27:13). The sword of Jehovah, symbol of His power that destroys everything opposed to it, is after the original passage, Deut. 32:41 sq., often mentioned; Ps. 7:13; 17:13; Isa. 34:5, 6; 66:16; Jer. 12:12; 47:6. This sword with which the LORD will annihilate the enemies of Israel is described as hard in respect to its material, great in regard to its length, and strong with reference to its irresistible action. These enemies of Israel are represented under the image of monstrous beasts. This form of expression is based on views which pervade the divine revelation of the Old and New Testament. Comp. Ps. 68:31; 74:13; Dan. 7:3 sqq.; 8:3 sqq.; Rev. 12:3 sqq.; 13:1 sqq. The kingdom of God is human (Dan. 7:13 sqq.), the worldly power is animal, brutal, heartless, cruel. Here, first of all, the question arises whether merely earthly powers of the world are meant, and not rather powers of heaven and of the world as 24:21. In support of the view that the two Leviathans mentioned in this verse are powers of heaven, appeal is made to Job 26:13, where certainly נחשׁ בריח is mentioned as a constellation. Hence the conclusion is drawn that also נחשׁ עקלתון is a constellation (HITZIG, HENDEWERK, DRECHSLER). But the whole structure of these four chapters proves that powers of heaven cannot be here in question. For our chapter stands parallel to chap. 25, and treats of the peculiar position of Israel in opposition to the worldly power. But in chap. 25. the worldly power is represented by what is of the earth, by the personified Moab. Here there is a climax, while three animal forms, placed at the commencement of the discourse, take the part of Moab, which is there placed at the close. Moreover, in this passage, נחשׁ בריח and נהשׁ עקלתון are not the leading terms. But these designations only define more particularly the term Leviathan. The case would be different if the latter term were wanting, and the Prophet spoke only of נחשׁ ב׳ and נחשׁ ע׳. As our text runs, we can only say that the Prophet has in view two powers that in their nature are closely related, nay essentially alike, for which reason he designates both of them by the name Leviathan.—They have, however, their individual peculiarities, wherefore he more particularly defines the one as the fleeing serpent and the other as the coiled serpent. The predicate “fleeing serpent” is manifestly borrowed from Job 26:13, as we have already observed manifold traces of the use of the book of Job in Isaiah (comp. on 14:30; 17:2; 21:4; 22:2, 4, 22, 24; 23:12; 25:2). The expression נחשׁ בריח denotes in Job, as is on all hands admitted, a constellation or appearance in the heavens, although the learned still dispute whether it is the dragon, or the milky way, or the scorpion, or the rainbow (comp. LEYRER in HERZOG’SR. Ency. XIX., p. 565). Isaiah, however, found the expression in its literal signification fit to be appended as an apposition to the term Leviathan. This is apparent, because Leviathan nowhere else denotes a constellation, and the second apposition נחשׁ עקלתון occurs in no other place as the name of a constellation. The question then is, what is the proper meaning of נחשׁ בריח? That נחשׁ denotes a serpent, is undoubted. The word is found in this signification in Isaiah 14:29; 65:25. But בריח which, besides here and Job 26:13, occurs only Isa. 43:14, can according to its etymology (בָּרַחfugere) have only the meaning “fleeing.” A נחש בריח is therefore a serpent which at full stretch flees away in haste. In opposition to it נחשׁ עקלתון is a crooked, coiled serpent. The word עקלתון is ἃπ. λεγ. The radix עקל occurs besides only in מְעֻקָל (Hab. 1:4 jus perversum) and in עֲקַלְקַלּוֹתtortuosa, crookednesses, crooked ways (Judges 5:6; Ps. 125:5). לִוְיָתָן is a poetic symbolical generic name which is sometimes given to the Crocodile (Job 40:25; Ps. 74:14), sometimes to other monsters of the deep (Job 3:8; Ps. 104:26). With such a bellua aquatica the two worldly powers are here compared in such a way that each is placed in parallel with a species of this genus. For it is plain that two powers are compared with two species of the genus Leviathan, the one with one species, and the other with another species; and that a third power is compared with the תַּנִּין. The sword is a single one. It is only once mentioned, and is the subject common to three predicates. But the Leviathan is twice named, each time with a different specifying word. And that the Prophet understands under the תנין a third hostile power is evident from his not putting this term in apposition to the term Leviathan. When afterwards, Isa 27:12 and 13, the land of the Euphrates, Assyria and Egypt are expressly designated as the countries from which redeemed Israel will return home, is not this to be regarded as a consequence of the LORD having according to Isa 27:1 crushed these hostile powers and so compelled them to let Israel go free? It has been further observed that תַּנִּין denotes Egypt, 51:9 (the only place beside this one where it occurs in Isaiah); Ezek. 29:3; 32:2; Ps. 74:13. The word is in meaning, though not in etymology, closely connected with the term Leviathan. Now if these places where תנין is used in reference to Egypt are borrowed from the one before us, they certainly bear witness to an ancient and indisputable interpretation. We are, therefore, fully justified in understanding Egypt to be denoted by the dragon that is in the sea (regarding יָם comp. 18:2; 19:5; 21:1). But if the תַּנִּין denotes Egypt, then the Leviathan, the fleeing serpent, must be the land of the Tigris, i.e., Assyria, for the serpent shooting quickly along is an apt emblem of the rapid Tigris, which name, according to the testimony of the ancients (STRABO XI. p. 527; CURT. VI. 36), means an arrow. In the Persian and Kurdish Tir denotes both an arrow and the Tigris (comp. GESEN.,Thes., p. 448). In regard to the windings of the Euphrates HERODOTUS speaks (I., 185) and relates that in sailing down the river, Arderikka, a place situated on it, is passed by three times in three days. Might not Jeremiah (50:17) have had this passage before his mind in writing: “first the king of Assyria ate him, and last this Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, hath crushed his bones?” Assyria, the power that rushed straight upon Israel,laid hold of him with its teeth. But it tore off as it were only pieces of his flesh, inflicted flesh wounds. But Babylon has as the Boa Constrictor enfolded Israel in the coils of his powerful body and crashed his bones. Comp. NAEGELSBACH on Jer. 50:17. That Isaiah had Babylon before his mind is just as possible here as 21:1–10. Both places are to be similarly explained.
3. In that day——wine.
Isa 27:2. While the worldly powers are annihilated, Israel is elevated to high joy and honor. The Prophet announces this for the comfort of his people in a hymn which is parallel to the hymn 25:1–5. This hymn is peculiar in its structure, as it consists of brief members formed of only two words. It is true that many members of it consist of three or four words. But two constitute always the leading ideas what is over and above, may be said to be accessory ideas which are only grammatically indispensable. In Isa 27:4 in the line מי־יתננו שׁמיר שׁית the first two and the last two words form each one principal notion. The two chief sentences, verses 3 and 4, contain each four such members or lines consisting of two ideas; the introduction (Isa 27:2) and the close (Isa 27:5) each contain three of them. The principle of duality is here carried out in such a way that the whole consists of six times two, and eight times two, consequently, of 28 members. That the introduction and close have each only three times two members, imparts to the whole the charm of a sort of crescendo and decrescendo. Isa 27:2 does not properly belong to the song itself. For it contains only the theme and the summons to celebrate it in song. But it is rhythmically constructed as the song itself, and rhythmically regarded, it is a part of the song. The words כרם חמר form the title prefixed absolutely (comp. הַבָּאִים Isa 27:6). Israel is compared with a vineyard as in 5:1 sqq. But there is this difference, that in 5:1 sqq. Israel appears as a vineyard consigned to destruction as a punishment; here it is a vineyard faithfully protected and tended. חֶמֶר is found only here and Deut. 32:14. That the word denotes wine is certain; but it is doubtful how this meaning is reached whether ab effervescendo (from fermenting) or a rubedine. [The analogy of the cognate Arabic and Syriac supports the former of these derivations, which is the one commonly adopted by modern scholars.—D. M.]. ענו לה is not to be joined with ביום חהוא. For this date plainly refers to all that follows, and ענו לה are not words of the Prophet, but words which people at that day will call out to one another. לְ after ענה in the signification “in reference to” as Num. 21:17; 1 Sam. 21:12; 29:5; Ps. 147:7.
4. I the LORD——peace with me.
Isa 27:3-5. The Prophet by putting into the mouth of the people a song in which Jehovah Himself as speaker gives glorious promises to the people, intimates that the people may regard these promises as their own certain possession. For they belong to them as those who publish them, and they are sure to them, because they proclaim them as verba ipsissima of Jehovah. The LORD promises now that He will keep His vineyard and abundantly water it (לרגעיםevery moment asלבקרים which two expressions stand together Job 7:18, Comp. Isa. 33:2; Ps. 73:14 et saepe) yea watch it night and day, that it may not be visited by an enemy (פקד with על which elsewhere denotes a visitation for punishment, comp Hos. 12:3; Jer. 9:24 sq., seems to stand here in the sense of, פּגַשׁ ,פָּגַע . The fury (חֵמָה here for the first time comp. 34:2; 42:25; 51:13, 17, 20, 22 et saepe in the second part of Isaiah), which the LORD formerly felt and manifested toward His vineyard Israel (Isa 27:5 sqq.), no longer exists. Nay more, thorns and thistles, which the LORD according to ver, 6 would for a punishment let grow up in the old vineyard, He wishes now to be set before Him in order to show by destroying them the zeal of His love for the renewed vineyard. Thorns and thistles, which grow from the soil of the vineyard itself, are, in opposition to the wild beasts which break in from without, symbols of internal decay, symptoms of the germs of evil still existing in the vineyard itself. Here external foes are not expressly mentioned as in chap. 5, and we have therefore to understand here under thorns and thistles everything which could set itself against the nature and purpose of the vineyard. [But does not the expression בַּמִּלְחָמָה point rather to external enemies of the Church as denoted under the symbols of briers and thorns? D. M.]. The asyndetonbriers, thorns, is explained by the lively emotion of the Prophet (comp. 32:13). מי יתנני (only here in Isaiah, comp. Job 29:2; Jer. 9:1) is a formula expressive of a wish. The suffix has here a dative sense. במלחמה is connected by the Masoretes with what precedes, but it belongs necessarily to what follows, as KNOBEL and DELITZSCH have perceived. With war,i.e., with martial impetuosity, would the LORDstride in (פשׂעgradiri, ingredi only here, substantives derived from it 1 Sam. 20:3; 1 Chron. 19:4) against them (בָּהּ the feminine suffix refers to the nouns שָׁמִיר שַׁיִת, and is to be taken in a neuter sense, as afterwards the suffix in אציתנה) and burn up the bushes all altogetherהֵצית for הִצִּית only here. When in Isa 27:5 the LORD speaks of people before whom the alternative is placed, either to be overcome by the storm of war just mentioned, or (אוֹ as conjunction with omitted כִּי comp. Exod. 21:36; 2 Sam. 18:13 comp. Lev. 13:16, 24) to lay hold of the protection of Jehovah (החזק בְּ4:1; 1 Kings 1:50; מעוזdefence, protection, 17:9, 10; 23:4, 11, 14; 25:4; 30:3) and to make peace with Him (Josh. 9:15), we perceive that He thinks of such among the people for whom there is a possibility of repentance and salvation. From this possibility even the external enemies of the theocracy are not excluded (2:3; 25:6 sqq.), but to Israel it appertains pre-eminently. This is another reason for supposing that under the thorns and thistles (Isa 27:4) internal enemies arising out of Israel are to be understood. The taking hold of protection is a subordinate matter, involving merely passive submission and endeavor after safety. But in the making of peace with God there is something higher, positive yielding of one’s self to him, union with Him.
To the last thought peculiar weight and emphasis is given by its repetition with שׁלום the chief term placed first. The close of the song is thus at the same time fitly intimated.
5. He shall cause——with fruit.
Isa 27:6. The cessation of a uniform rhythm shows that the language of prose is resumed. But what is now said is in sense closely connected with the song, the thoughts of which it explains and completes. For it sounds as the solution of a riddle (comp. Isa 27:7), when it is now explicitly stated that Israel is the vineyard of the LORD; at the same time the fruit of the vineyard is described as glorious, and spreading far and wide. [DR. NAEGELSBACH’S translation of the first clause: “In the coming days Jacob shall take root” is adopted by the best modern scholars, and is much more natural and accurate than the rendering of the Eng. ver.: “He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root.” The sense of causing to take root is foreign to the form of the verb employed, and the order of the words will not admit of the translation those that come of Israel.—D M.] הבאים supply יָמִים, comp. e.g., יָמִים בָּאִיםJer. 7:32; Eccles. 2:6 and אֹתִיוֹתres futurae Isa 41:23; 44:7. The accusative marks the duration of time. The names Jacob and Israel designate sometimes the whole people (chaps. 2, 3, 5, 6 and seqq.), sometimes the northern kingdom in particular (9:7). Here, however, it seems as if the Prophet by the use of the two names intended to designate the entire people by its two halves. In favor of this view is the plural מלאו, as only the singular would have been requisite, as in the verbal forms יציץ ,פרה ישׁרשׁ. That יציץ (only here in Isaiah) stands before פרח (germinare, sprout, comp. 17:11; 35:1, 2; 66:14) is not to be pressed. We too, can say “blossom and bud” or “bud and blossom.” At most we might say that the Prophet wished to put the blossom first as the higher of the two. The fruit (תנובהproventus, produce of fruit, only here in Isaiah) will be in such abundance that the whole earth will be filled with it (37:31). Israel will then, when the judgment shall have destroyed the worldly powers and the heathen, be all in all. For mount Zion and Jerusalem shall stand, even if heaven and earth should perish.
6. Hath he smitten—stand up.
Isa 27:7-9. The declaration that Israel will continue, even if all the rest of the world should be swallowed up by the floods of judgment, is so bold as to require a particular justification. This is given by the Prophet while he shows from history how the LORD always distinguished Israel, and even when He smote him, never smote him as his enemies. (Comp. 10:24 sqq.). Therefore he asks, verse 7: has Jehovah, his God, smitten him, namely Israel, with the stroke of his smiter (מַכֶּה as 10:26; 14:7; 30:26; מַכֵּהוּ (comp. 9:12; 10:20; 14:29) i.e., even so hard as He smote those who smote Israel? Or has he ever been so slain as the enemies of the theocracy that were slain by him (Israel)? הֶרֶג in Isaiah besides 30:25. Part. הרוגים in Isaiah only here and 26:21. הֹרַג Pual only here and Ps. 44:23. The meaning is: Israel has never suffered complete destruction. Turning to address the LORD Himself the Prophet continues: In small measure by sending her away thou punishest her. The connection requires the signification mensura. Reference is rightly made to Jer. 10:24; 30:11 (46:28), where לַמִּשְׁפָּט is used in a like sense. KNOBEL objects that סאה does not signify measure in general, but a definite measure, and the figurative use of it would be as hard as if we should say: to punish one by the quart. סְאָה is by all means a definite measure of grain, and according to the statements of the ancients, the third part of an ephah. But this signification suits admirably, The translation in measure is of course not literal. It should be: with the measure of a seah by putting away thou punishest her. The meaning accordingly is that the LORD ordains only a small measureful of punishment for Israel. The antithesis to this is then a large measure which causes destruction. The expression “small measure” involves necessarily the idea of clemency. HITZIG, EWALD and KNOBEL propose to read בְּסַאְסְאָהּ Inf. Pilp. from =זוע=סואby his disquietude. But this thought, apart from the artificial etymology, does not suit the context. It appears to me that this בסאסאה was a popular and familiar expression. At all events, it occurs in the language of Scripture only here. The feminine suffix in the last two words shows that the Prophet, in accordance with the notion of “putting away,” thinks of Israel as a wife, ריכ stands here with accusative of the person in a signification in which it is commonly construed with one of the prepositions אֶל ,עִם or בְּ, namely = altercari, to contend, dispute with, punish. However, this construction with the accusative is found elsewhere: 49:25; Deut. 33:8; Job 10:2; Hos. 4:4. The imperfect (future) is not used to express repetition in the past; for the Prophet cannot yet say that Israel’s exile has terminated. Israel is to-day still in exile. The imperfect rather marks the still uncompleted, enduring fact. That the second person imperfect is used, while before and afterwards Jehovah is spoken of in the third person, has, apart from the ease with which in Hebrew the person is changed, its reason perhaps in this, that the Prophet wishes to make the three words of this clause which are like one another in respect to the ending and number of the consonantal sounds, as conformable to one another as possible in their initial sounds also. For Tan is certainly more nearly related to the S-sounds with which the preceding words begin, than Yod. Lexicographers and interpreters are inclined to regard הָגָה as an independent verbal stem, to which they ascribe the meaning “amovere, separare, to sift,” which is supposed to occur only here and Prov. 25:4, 5. I believe that our הגה is identical with the הגה that occurs so frequently. The word is clearly onomatopoetic, and its radical meaning is “to breathe;” and it means that kind of breathing which consists is a strong ejection of air through the throat. The sound that is thus produced corresponds to the rough guttural sound of the roaring lion (31:4), to the noise of thunder (Job 37:2), to the moaning of a dove (38:14), to the muttering of conjurers (8:19), and to the sighing of a man (16:7), and is also the physical basis for human speech, whether this be a speaking with others or a speaking with one’s self under profound emotion (meditari). Even in Prov. 25:4 sq. this signification holds. “Breathe (blow) the dross from the silver” is what we read there. This means, we are to remove by blowing the impure ingredients that swim on the surface of the molten silver. And so (Prov. 25:5) the court is to be purified from the hurtful presence of a wicked man, he is to be blown away as scum upon molten silver. In our place, too, הָגָה is simply “to breathe.” He breathes with his rough breath in the day of the east wind means nothing else than: God blows Israel away out of his land by sending, like the storm of an east wind, His breath with great force over the land. The thought involved in שׁלחה is once more expressed by an image. The Prophet knows that exile is the severest punishment which Jehovah inflicts on His people. Whether it was the case that Isaiah had already witnessed the carrying away of the ten tribes, or that passages of the Pentateuch which threaten the punishment of exile were present to him (Deut. 4:27 sq.; 28:36, 63 sqq.; 29:28), he certainly means that Jehovah does not exterminate His people as He, e.g., exterminated the Canaanites, but that He inflicts on them as the maximum of punishment only temporary exile. The use of the perfect הָגָה is then quite normal, in order to describe further a matter contained in the principal sentence (שׁלחה). The expression רוח קשׁה does not elsewhere occur. But Isaiah does speak of a אֲדֹנִים קָשֶׁה19:4, of a חָזוּת קָשָׁה21:2, of עֲבֹדָה קָשָׁה14:3, of a חֶרֶב קָשָׁה Isa 27:1. A mighty political catastrophe which would purify the land is here compared with a stormy wind, or east wind, the most violent wind known in Palestine (Job 27:21; Hos. 13:15, which place was perhaps before the mind of the Prophet; Jon. 4:8; Ezek. 17:10; 19:12); and this wind is marked as רוּחַ יהוה as a breath proceeding from the mouth of God; wind being frequently in the O. T. described as God’s breath, or God’s breath being described as wind (Ex. 15:8; Job 4:9; 15:30; Hos. 13:15; Isaiah 40:7; 59:19). As a violent tempest causes much damage, but at the same time does much good by its purifying influence, so this punishment of expulsion from the land is so far from being intended for the destruction of Israel, that the salvation of Israel arises from it. For just thereby (לָכֵן as 26:14; Jer. 5:2) the guilt of Jacob is expiated (covered comp. 22:14). The words by this, therefore, are to be taken together, and point with emphasis backwards. בזאת cannot be referred to the following בשׂומו, because atonement is not made for Israel by this שׂוּם וגו׳, but on the contrary, this שׂום וגו׳ is the fruit of the expiation. By this expiatory punishment Israel is made partaker of great blessing. The LORD knows how to make good come out of evil (Gen. 50:20). The expiation, i.e., the removal of guilt has the effect that Israel thereby becomes free also from the power and dominion of sin. [יְכֻפַּר, though it strictly means shall be atoned for, is here metonymically used to denote the effect and not the cause, purification and not expiation. In the very same way it is applied to the cleansing of inanimate objects. ALEXANDER.—D. M.]. זֶה refers to פְּרִי and what follows. All fruit of the forgiveness of sin, consequently all sanctification concentrates itself in Israel’s keeping now the first and greatest commandment, and in definitively renouncing idolatry. זֶה is not, however, the demonstrative pronoun, but is to be taken adverbially; this word, as is well known, possessing the two significations this and there. Hence the construction בְּשׂוּמוֹ (not שׂוּמוֹ) can follow. Comp. עֲלוּ זֶה בַנֶּנֶב Num. 13:17. Israel by so dashing in pieces all the stones of their idolatrous altars, that they can no longer serve for places of worship for Ashtoreth and images of the sun, exhibits the fruit of the expiation that has been rendered and of the forgiveness that has been received. גיר (ἅπ. λεγ) is lime, אבני גיר are not lime-stones, in the mineralogical sense, but stones in a wall which are covered with lime, mortar [?]. מנפצות, (comp. 11:12; 33:3) are the same stones, when they, in consequence of the destruction of the wall which they formed, lie broken in pieces. This shall happen to the stones of the idolatrous altars, and they will in consequence no longer serve as pedestals on which images of Ashtoreth and of the sun (comp on 17:8) stand up.
Or, crossing like a bar.
Or, march against.
In coming days will Jacob take root.
Heb. according to the stroke of those.
Or, when thou sendest it forth.
Or, when he removeth it.
he bloweth with his rough blast.
stones of mortar.
images of Ashtoreth.
Yet the defenced city shall be desolate, and the habitation forsaken, and left like a wilderness: there shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down, and consume the branches thereof.8. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE WORDLY CITY AND ISRAEL’S JOYFUL RESTORATION
10 a Yet the defenced city shall be desolate,
And the habitation forsaken, and left like a wilderness:
There shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down,
And consume the branches thereof.
11 When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off:
The women come and set them on fire:
For it is a people of no understanding;
Therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them,
And he that formed them will show them no favor.
12 And it shall come to pass in that day,
That the LORD shall beat off
From the bchannel of the river unto the stream of Egypt,
And ye shall be gathered one by one,
O ye children of Israel.
13 And it shall come to pass in that day,
That the great trumpet shall be blown,
And they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria,
And the outcasts in the land of Egypt,
And shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Isa 27:10. בדד (only here in Isaiah) is an adverb, or substantive used adverbially. It might also be לְבָדָד (comp. Numb 23:9; Micah 7:14). That an adverb can be the predicate is well known.
Isa 27:12. לְאַחַד אֶחָד, i.e., to one one, to one which is one and nothing else, wholly one. This combination occurs only here (for Eccles. 7:27 is different). אַחַד is the form of the construct state, and can be treated here as such; for the construct state marks in appositional relations nothing but the closest connection (NAEGELSBACH Gr., § 64, 1). [To one one, i.e., one to the other, to mark careful attention to each individual, and to express the idea that all will be gathered together and without exception.—D. M.].
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. The Prophet again draws on a dark background the picture of the worldly power. He had represented it, Isa 27:1, in the form of beasts; here, as already (24:10–12; 25:2, 3, 12; 26:5), the great city of the world, the centre of the worldly power, is made to appear. He depicts it as a desolate forsaken place, overgrown with bushes, whose tender branches the calves eat off, whose withered twigs women gather for fuel. This pitiable lot is the punishment of their folly (Isa 27:10 and 11). Quite different is the case with Israel. This people finds grace in the eyes of its LORD. Out of the sheaves of the nations, which shall be gathered in the day of judgment, all the ears that belong to Israel shall be separated, and bound together (Isa 27:12). And when the great trumpet sounds, all the Israelites lost and scattered in the lands of the heathen, shall return home, in order to worship Jehovah on the holy mountain at Jerusalem (Isa 27:13).
2. Yet the defenced—no favor.
Isa 27:10, 11. The city which becomes desolate and finds no mercy (Isa 27:11) cannot possibly be Jerusalem. It can only be the city which the Prophet has already (24:10–12; 21:2, 3, 12; 26:5) so emphatically set forth as the centre of the worldly power, and distinguished from the earth of which it is the centre. Isa 27:10 and 11 are therefore connected with Isa 27:1. כִּי is here explicative, rather than causal. The defenced city of Isa 27:10 is identical with the קריה בצורה in 25:2.—גָוֶה (comp. 32:18; 33:20; 34:13; 35:7; 65:10) is originally a habitation of Nomades, a place where people can stay with their flocks and herds. Then it is habitation in general; and as the city is here designated as נוה נעזב, what the city was, and not what it is, is denoted by נוה. It was formerly an inhabited city. נוה is accordingly not to be taken here as “pasturage,” but as habitation, dwelling-place. The נוה is said by Metonymy to be driven away (מְשֻׁלָּח) although only its inhabitants are so. (Comp. קֵן משלח. 16:2; הָעִיר הַיצֵֹאתAmos 5:3; and תָאָרֶץ תֵּשֵׁבIsa. 13:20). As the wilderness can be said to be forsaken, but not driven away, we have to connect only נעזב with כמדבר, and not משׁלח also. On the place that has been so forsaken calves will feed (comp. 5:17; 27:13 sqq.), and lie down, and consume (49:4) the branches (comp. 17:6) thereof,i.e., of the forsaken city. What remains of the branches (קציר in the collective sense of foliage, especially in Job 14:9; 18:16; 29:19), and is withered, is broken off (the plural תשברנה to be referred to the idea of a multitude of branches contained in קציר); then women come and kindle it (אוֹתָהּ as a neuter comp. on Isa 27:4), i.e., they make an אוּר, a flame of it (31:9; 44:16; 50:11 comp. Mal. 1:10). This judgment comes upon the people (i.e., the nations conceived as one) of the worldly power; because it is a people without right understanding (plural only here. Comp. on 11:2). Therefore, although Jehovah is the Creator of the heathen also (Gen. 1:26: comp. Job 12:10; Acts 17:26), yet He will not be gracious unto them (עשׂהו as 17:7; 29:16. יצרו comp. 29:16; 45:9 et saepe). [Many of the best interpreters hold that the city spoken of in Isa 27:10 is Jerusalem, and not Babylon. The desolation here described is not so complete as that denounced against Babylon (13:19–22), and corresponds exactly to the judgment foretold elsewhere by Isaiah against Israel and Jerusalem 32:13, 14; 5:17. The people of no understand standing, whose Maker and Former is Jehovah, certainly looks like Israel. Comp. 1:3.—D. M.].
3. And it shall come—Jerusalem.
Isa 27:12, 13. In contrast to the sad image of a wilderness in Isa 27:10 and 11, the Prophet depicts Israel’s final destiny as a harvest of glory and highest honor for Israel. The image of a great harvest-day (Matt. 13:39; Rev. 14:14 sqq.), forms the basis of the figurative language of Isa 27:12 and 13. The sheaves are gathered, even in the countries where Israel lives in exile, mainly therefore, in the countries of the Euphrates and the Nile. For these countries are for the Prophet here, as 11:11 sqq.; 19:23 sqq., representatives of the lands of exile in general. But when the harvest-sheaves of those countries are borne by the reapers, the LORD shall beat these sheaves (חָבַט of the beating off of olives Deut. 24:20; of the threshing of grain with a staff Jud. 6:11; Ruth 2:17; Isa. 28:27), and the ears of Israel will fall out, and then be gathered to be brought back. It is plain that the Prophet means by this image what he afterwards, Isa 27:13, states in proper terms. For the scattered Israelitish ears amid the great sheaves of the Gentiles are nothing but the אבדים and נדחים Isa 27:13. I take therefore שִׁבֹּלֶת Isa 27:12 as a collective designation of ears of grain. For what significance would it have here to give prominence to the Euphrates being at high water, as it is quite indifferent for the Geographical boundary whether the Euphrates has much water or little (שׁבלת, fluxus aquae, emphasizes the abundance of water, Ps. 69:3, 6; besides only Jud. 12:6 where the meaning is a matter of no consequence)? We dare not press the line of the Euphrates, or the line of the נחל מצרים any more than the depth of the Euphrates as a sharply drawn boundary-line. For the grain-ears of the Euphrates are just the ears of the lands of the Euphrates, and the ears of the brook of Egypt are the ears of Egypt, as appears from ארץ אשׁור and מצרים Isa 27:13. I believe that in regard to grammar we are fully justified in supplying שׁבלת after עד and before נחל מי. The omission of substantives after prepositions of comparison furnishes a perfectly sufficient analogy for this omission (comp. Job 33:25). [The proposed construction is intolerably hard, and has no clear parallel to support it. It is unwarrantably assumed that שׁבלת הנחר must mean the high water of the river Euphrates as distinguished from the river at low water.שׁבלת denotes current, flood, and so abundance of water, and it may well be put as an adjunct of the river Euphrates when the other terminus is the insignificant stream of Egypt, the Wadi el Arish. It appears to me exceedingly forced to take שׁבלת here as a collective, meaning ears of grain, and then to suppose an ellipsis of this substantive after עד.—D. M.].
That the נחל מ׳ is the Wadi el Arish which flows near Rhinocolura into the sea is certain. (Comp. EBERS,Egypt and the books of Moses, I. p. 275). But it is not mentioned along with the Euphrates to designate a boundary of the Israelitish kingdom (Gen. 15:18; 1 Kings 8:65), but as emblem of the southern and first land of exile; as the Euphrates is emblem of the second and northern land of exile.
At the signal which will be given by sound of trumpet (18:3; Matt. 24:3; 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thes. 4:16) all the Israelites who are lost (Jer. 50:6) and scattered (11:12 comp. Ezek. 34:4, 16) in the lands of Assyria and Egypt (in the same lands which were previously designated by נהר and נחל מ׳) come to worship the LORD in Jerusalem, on the mountain of the Sanctuary (24:23; 25:6, 7, 10). Here ends the libellus apocalypticus of Isaiah. This worship he conceives as never ending (comp. 25:7 sq.). Israel’s return to his own land is type of the restoration of redeemed men (the Ἰσραὴλ πνευματικός) into the heavenly home. It is not possible in this connection to think merely (as even DRECHSLER does) on a single act of worship before taking possession of the land and settling in it.