Isaiah 34
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures

1. On 34:1–4. Because Rev. 6:12–17 has express reference to this passage, some would conclude that the Prophet here has in view only that special event of the world’s judgment (the opening of the sixth seal). But that is not justified. For other passages of the New Testament that do not specially relate to the opening of the sixth seal are based on this passage (Matth. 24:29; 2 Pet. 3:7 sqq.; Rev. 14:11; 19:11 sqq.). It appears from this that the present passage is, as it were, a magazine from which New Testament prophecy has drawn its material for more than one event of fulfilment.

2. On 34:16. The word of God can bear the closest scrutiny. Indeed it desires and demands it. If men would only examine the Scriptures diligently and with an unclouded mind and love of truth, “whether these things are so,” as did the Bereans (Acts 17:11; Jno. 5:39)!

3. On 35:3. “The Christian church is the true Lazaretto in which may be found a crowd of weary, sick, lame and wretched people. Therefore, Christ is the Physician Himself (Matth. 9:12) who binds up and heals those suffering from neglect (Ezek. 34:16; Isa. 61:1). And His word cures all (Wisd. 16:12). His servants, too, are commissioned officially to admonish the rude, to comfort the timid, to bear the weak, and be patient with all (1 Thess. 5:14). Therefore, whoever feels weak, let him betake himself to this Bethania; there he will find counsel for his soul,” CRAMER.

4. [On 35:8, 9. “They who enter the path that leads to life, find there no cause of alarm. Their fears subside; their apprehensions of punishment on account of their sins die away, and they walk that path with security and confidence. There is nothing in that way to alarm them; and though there are many foes—fitly represented by lions and wild beasts—lying about the way, yet no one is permitted to ‘go up thereon.’ This is a most beautiful image of the safety of the people of God, and of their freedom from all enemies that could annoy them.” “The path here referred to is appropriately designed only for the redeemed of the LORD. It is not for the profane, the polluted, the hypocrite. It is not for those who live for this world, or for those who love pleasure more than they love God. The church should not be entered except by those, who have evidence that they are redeemed. None should make a profession of religion who have no evidence that they belong to “the redeemed,” and who are not disposed to walk in the way of holiness. But for all such it is a highway on which they are to travel. It is made by leveling hills and elevating valleys; across the sandy desert and through the wilderness of this world, infested with the enemies of God and His people. It is made straight and plain, so that none need err; it is defended from enemies, so that all may be safe; because ‘He,’ their Leader and Redeemer, shall go with them and guard that way.” BARNES in loc.]



Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it.


CHAP. 34–35

Chapters 34–35 are the proper conclusion of the first part of Isaiah’s prophecies. For chaps. 36–39 are only an historical supplement, though a very important one. Hence I do not think that chaps. 34–35. are only the finale of chaps 28–33; for that we have already found in chap. 33. rather chaps. 34–35 form a conclusion of the first half of the book that sums up and finishes the announcements of judgment and salvation of the first part, and prepares for and introduces those of part second. For we notice already in these chapters the language of 40–66. First of all the Prophet carries us in chap. 34 to the end of days. As if to make an end corresponding to the beginning, 1, 2, he summons the earth and all its inhabitants to notice the announcement of the final judgment that is to comprehend heaven and earth (34:1–4). But he is not in condition to represent the how of the world’s destruction. As remarked in the introduction to 24–27 he can only paint that remote judgment in colors of the present. He gives at once a vivid and an agreeable picture of it by representing it as a judgment against Edom. For the negative base of Israel’s hope of salvation is that its enemies shall be destroyed. That the Prophet means here to conclude all announcement of judgment against their enemies appears from the demand of Isa 34:16 that they shall search “the book of the LORD,” and compare the prediction there with the fulfilment. We shall try to show that this appeal to “the book of the LORD” implies the entire foregoing book.

In chap. 35 the Prophet presents the other side of the judgment of the world, viz., the final redemption of Israel. It appears as a return home to Zion out of exile. Not a word intimates that the Prophet has in mind only the return from Babylon. He names no land; he speaks only of return (יֵשֻׁבוּן, Isa 34:10) in general. Already in Deut. 30:3 sqq. it is promised that the LORD will gather the Israelites and bring them back out of all lands, even though driven out to the end of heaven, thence too the LORD will fetch them. On the ground of this passage Isaiah had already held out a similar prospect (11:11 sqq.; 19:23 sq.; 27:12 sq.), and after him Jeremiah especially deals much in this particular of the glorious last time (16:14 sqq.; 23:3; 29:14; 32:37; 40:12; 46:27). Therefore the Prophet promises here glorious and joyful return home—that to the Israelite must be dearest of all—and the object of his greatest longing (Ps. 137:5, 6), and in that home eternal joy (Isa 34:10). One may say that he draws here the outline of the picture that he afterwards carries out in chaps. 40–66. in all the varieties of its forms.

Their contents show that the two chapters belong together. Chap. 35 is the necessary obverse of 34. The expressions נוה תנים חציר ל׳ 35:7, which manifestly contrasts with 34:13, form a close bond between the two chapters; and it is to be noted that חָצִיר in the sense of חָצֵר occurs only in these two places. Also the metonymic use of נקע (34:15; 35:6) which occurs beside only 58:8; 59:5, is a peculiarity of language that points to the correlation of the two chapters.

EICHHORN, GESEN., ROSENMUELLER, DE W., MAUR., HITZIG, EW., UMBR., KNOBEL and others ascribe these chapters to a later author that lived in the time of the captivity. They only differ in that some (GESENIUS, ROSENMUELLER, HITZIG, EWALD) put this unknown author at the end of the exile, the others at an earlier period. We will show in the exposition, by exact investigation of the language, that both the contents and the form of language of these chapters connect them intimately with 40–66, yet that in both these respects there is also a common character with part first. This view is confirmed by the undeniable fact that these chapters are variously quoted by prophets before the exile. This will be proved in respect to Jer. 46:10 in the comment on 34:5 sqq. I have shown the connection between these chapters and Jer. 50:27, 39; 51:40, 60 sqq. by an extended examination in my work: “Der Prophet Jer. und Babylon, Erlangen, 1850.” Comp. KUEPER, Jerem. libr. sacr. interpr. atque vindex, Berolini, 1837, p. 79 sqq. CASPARI, Jerem., ein Zeuge für d. Echtheit von Jes. 34, etc., Zeitschr. von Rudelbach und Guericke, 1843, Heft. 2, p. 1 sqq. The proof that Jer. has drawn on our chapters carries with it the proof that the resemblances noticed between Zeph. 1:7, 8 and Isa. 34:6, and between Zeph. 2:14 and Isa. 34:11, are to be regarded as a use of these chapters by Zephaniah, the older contemporary of Jeremiah, and not a quotation of Zephaniah by these chapters.

The reasons adduced against Isaiah’s authorship of these chapters will not stand examination. KNOBEL thinks the hatred of Edom in the degree shown in 34:5 sqq. is to be found only in passages that belong to the time after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. But not to mention Obadiah (especially Isa 34:10–14), there are found in Joel (4:19) and Amos (especially 1:11 sqq.) proofs enough that there could be in Isaiah’s time a hatred like that expressed in our chapter 34 We will show in the exposition of 35 that it does not presuppose the Babylonish exile, but the second, great and last exile in general. It is incomprehensible how the announcement of a great judgment on the heathen generally (34:2, 3, 5 sqq.; 35:8) can denote a later authorship, seeing the same is announced in the acknowledged prophecies of Isa. 2:4, 11 sqq., and even in 30:25 sqq. (see comm. in loc.). But we may refer in this matter to the entire liber apocalypticus (24–27), by assaulting which the critics of course becloud for themselves the conspectus of Isaiah’s field of vision. What KNOBEL further urges of the extravagant expectations (34:3, 4, 9; 35:1, 2, 5 sqq.), affects only the bold and grand images in which the Prophet utters these expectations. And these images are too bold, too hyperbolical for Isaiah! If the genuineness of chs. 13, 14, 24–27 is denied, then the analogies for the dissolution of the heavens (34:4) and for the goblins of night and wild beasts (34:11–17) are surrendered. On this subject we can only refer back to our defence of the genuineness of chap. 13, 14. Finally KNOBEL mentions a number of expressions in these chapters which in general, or at least, in their present meaning, occur only in later writers, putting in the latter class some expressions that are peculiar to this author. One may admit that many expressions occur in Isaiah that only later writers employ, or that are analogous to expressions of later use. But is this any proof of the later origin of these chapters? Isaiah is so opulent a spirit, he reigns with such creative power even in the sphere of language, and his authority is so great with his successors, that we may confidently affirm, that very many later words and expressions are to be referred to him as the source or exemplar. Moreover that argument loses weight when we consider that in our chapters much ancient linguistic treasure occurs, e.g., בּאֹשׁ 34:3; רְאֵם 34:7; נָקָם and שְׁלּוּם 34:8.

Isaiah, then, is doubtless the author of our chapters. But he wrote them in his later period, when Assyria was for him a stand-point long since surmounted, and when, withdrawn from the present, he lived, with all his prophetic seeing and knowing, in the future. I agree with DELITZSCH in assuming that Isaiah, in preparing the book as a whole (if he actually himself attended to this matter), put these chapters here as a conclusion of the first part of his prophetic discourses. I only add that on this occasion Isaiah must have added Isa 34:16, 17 with their reference to the now completed “book of the LORD.

The division of the chapters is simple:—

1. The judgment on all nations, 34:1–4.

2. The judgment on Edom as representation of the whole in one particular example, of especial interest to Israel, 34:5–15.

3. Concluding remark: summons to compare the prophecy with the fulfilment, 34:16, 17.

4. The obverse of the judgment: Israel’s redemption and return home, 35.


CHAPTER 34:1–4

1          COME near, ye nations, to hear;

And hearken, ye people:

Let the earth hear, and 1all that is therein;

The world, and all things that come forth of it.

2     For 2the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations,

And his fury upon all their armies:

He 3hath utterly destroyed them,

He hath delivered them to the slaughter.

3     Their slain also shall be cast out,

And their stink shall come up out of their carcases,

And the mountains shall be melted with their blood.

4     And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved,

And the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll:

And all their host shall 4fall down,

As the leaf falleth off from the vine,

And as a 5falling fig from the fig tree.


[For the sake of economy in labor and space we will omit in this and subsequent chapters the Author’s abundant and laborious citations of texts illustrative of Isaiah’s style, and involving proof of the common authorship of parts first and second. The Author has prepared a comprehensive list of the words and texts concerned in these chapters, which appears at the close of the volume and, except where the commentary furnishes additional matter, we shall refer to that list by the sign see list.TR.].

Isa 34:1. הקשׁיכ ,לאמים ,קרבו see list.גוים occurs often in both parts, e.g., 1:4; 2:4; 10:7; 11:10; 40:15; 41:2. The expression ארץ ומלאה occurs Deut. 33:16; Ps. 24:1; Mic. 1:2, and often; in Isaiah only here. Comp. הים ומלאו 42:10; 6:3; 8:8; 31:4.—תבל (comp. on 13:11) occurs only in part first.—צאצאים (plur tant.) are τἄ ἔκγονα, “the products.” The expression is based on Gen. 1:12, 24 (תּוֹצֵא הָאָרֶץ). The Prophet thus does not mean only men, as many, influenced by the LXX. and Chald., have supposed. The word, being made parallel with מלאה denotes everything that as production of the earth fills it.

Isa 34:2, 3. חללים ,טבח ,צבא ,קצף see list.—פנריהם casus absolutus, comp. EWALD, § 309 b. בְּאֹשׁ only here in Isaiah. Comp. Joel 2:20; Amos 4:10.

Isa 34:4. מקק (as verb only here in Isaiah), is used Ps. 38:6 of a festering wound, in Zech. 14:12 of rotting flesh, i.e., eyes and tongues rotting in their natural place. In Lev. 26:39; Ezek. 24:23; 33:10 it is used in the more general sense of passing away, disappearing; Isa. 3:24; 5:24. מַק is “that which has rotted, mouldered.” Add to this that מָכַךְ Ps. 106:43; Job 24:24; Eccles. 10:18, denotes corruere, collabi; מוּךְ Lev. 25:25, 35, 39, 47 means “to collapse, decline, wax poor,” but מוּג (Amos 9:5, 13; Ps. 65:11, etc.), diffluere, dissolvi. Thus we must recognize as the fundamental meaning of this family of words “decomposition, dissolution, rotting, mouldering, turning to dust” occasioned by the departure of the spirit of life. But this effect may be variously brought about. Fire, e.g., can produce it in a tree by scorching it. Such appears the sense here. Thus 2 Pet. 3:12 οὐρανοὶ πυρούμενοι λυθήσονται seems to me to correspond to our נָמַקּוּנָגֹל for נָגַל see GREEN’S Gram., § 140, 2. Niph. only here in Isaiah; Polal. 9:4.—נבל comp.1:30; 24:4; 28:1, 4; 40:7, 8; 64:5, especially as regards נבלת see on 28:1, 4.


1. It is a mighty matter, the concern of all nations that the Prophet has to announce: hence he summons all to hear his address (Isa 34:1). For the wrath of the LORD is kindled against all nations and all that belongs to them. They are all to be given up to the slaughter (Isa 34:2), and shall be cast out so that the stench shall mount up, and whole mountains shall run with blood (Isa 34:3). Yea, the heavens shall roll up as by strong heat, and the heavenly bodies shall fall like dry leaves (Isa 34:4).

2. Come—fig tree.

Isa 34:1-4. The expression צאצאים occurs only in Job and Isaiah (see on 22:24). The use nearest like the present is 42:5. In Isa 34:2 only the nations are mentioned as the object of the judgment. Though impersonal nature shares in it, still this is only the means to an end. כל־שבאם, having a similar relation to that of כל־צאצאיה (see Text. and Gram.), denotes not the host merely, but the host of mankind in general. Already, by virtue of the decree of wrath determined against them, the LORD has laid on them His curse or ban (החרים11:15; 37:11), and devoted them to slaughter.

On the description Isa 34:3 comp. 14:19; 37:36; 66:24; 10:18; 13:7; 19:1. The passages Matt. 24:29; 2 Pet. 3:7, 10, 12; Rev. 6:13, 14 are founded on the present text. For that the Prophet has in mind the destruction of the world, is manifest from this description comprehending the earth and heavens.


[1]Heb. the fulness thereof.

[2]the LORD has wrath on.

[3]hath cursed.


[5]Or, wilted leaf-fall.

For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment.

CHAPTER 34:5–15

5          6For my sword shall be bathed in heaven:

Behold, it shall come down upon Idumea,

And upon the people of my curse, to judgment.

6     The sword of the LORD is filled with blood,

It is made fat with fatness,

And with the blood of lambs and goats,

With the fat of the kidneys of rams:

For the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah,

And a great slaughter in the land of Idumea.

7     And the 7 8unicorns shall come down with them,

And the bullocks with the bulls;

And their land shall be 9soaked with blood,

And their dust made fat with fatness.

8     10For it is the day of the LORD’S vengeance,

And the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.

9     And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch,

And the dust thereof into brimstone,

And the land thereof shall become burning pitch.

10     It shall not be quenched night nor day;

The smoke thereof shall go up for ever:

From generation to generation it shall lie waste;

None shall pass through it for ever and ever.

11     But the 11cormorant and the 12bittern shall possess it;

The owl also and the raven shall dwell in it:

And he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion,

And the stones of emptiness.

12     13They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom,

But none shall be there,

And all her princes shall be 14nothing.

13     15And thorns shall come up in her palaces,

Nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof.

And it shall be an habitation of 16dragons,

And a court for 17 18owls.

14     19The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with 20the wild beasts of the island,

And the 21satyr shall cry to his fellow;

The 22screech owl also shall rest there,

And find for herself a place of rest.

15     There shall the 23great owl make her nest, and lay,

And hatch, and gather under her shadow:

There shall the vultures also be gathered,

Every one with her mate.


Isa 34:5. Only by great ingenuity can כִּי be explained to mean “for.” Hence KNOBEL construes it as pleonastic, connecting the discourse, and appeals, e. g. to 8:23. But there exists a plain causal connection between Isa 34:4 and 5, only the res causans is in verse 4 and not in Isa 34:5. Hence כִּי here=“because” and not “for.” Because the sword of God has become drunken in heaven it comes down to earth (comp. Gen. 3:14; 33:11; Exod. 1:19, etc.).—רִוָּה (comp. 16:9) is direct causative Piel = ebrietatem facere, “to produce drunkenness.” As, e. g., הִשְׁמִין not only means “fatten,” i. e., others, but also “make, produce, grow fat,” i. e., grow fat one’s-self, so this verb means not only “make others drunk” (Jer. 31:14; Ps. 65:11), but also “make one’s-self drunk.”—למשׁפט=in behoof of accomplishing judgment; comp. Hab. 1:12; Ezek. 44:24 K’ri; comp. Isa. 41:1; 54:17, in another sense Isa. 5:7; 32:1; 28:26.

Isa 34:6. DRECHSLEK refers ליהוה to מלאה: the sword is to the LORD (the LORD has His sword) full of blood. But then it would need to read הַחֶרֶב, as the sword has already been mentioned. Would one translate; “Jehovah has a sword that is full of blood,” that again does not suit the previous mention of the sword verse 5, though this translation would best suit the three other instances of the use of ליהוה in this section (verses 2, 6, 9). The context requires the rendering “the sword of the LORD is full of blood.” For verses 6, 7 manifestly tell what the sword, (that Isa 34:5 was to come on Edom), when actually come, has done to Edom. This is intimated by describing the sword after the execution. Thus the same sword as Isa 34:5 is meant. The article is wanting because חרב ליהוה, (instead of חרב יהוה, which occurs only 1 Chron. 21:12) seems to be vox solennis, (Jud. 7:20; Jer. 12:12; 47:6).—הֻדַּשְׁנָה instead of הֻתְדַּשְּׁנָה, Hothpaal, from דאן, comp. verse 7; 30:23; GREEN’S Gram., § 96, a.——That מִן before דַּם is to be explained according to 2:6, does not seem probable. Rather it seems that the notion of causality, that lies in הדשנה מחלב, has passed over to what follows: such as was before intimated, the sword has become from the blood of the sacrificial beasts.—כַּר again only 16:1.—עַתּוּד again only 1:11; 14:9אילים again in Isa. 1:11; 60:7. זֶבַח and טֶבַח (verse 3) correspond in sense and sound. On זבח see list.

Isa 34:8. The Plural שׁלומים occurs only here: comp. the sing. Hos. 9:7; Mic. 7:3.—If the pointing לְרִיב is correct, then רִיב is to be construed as substantive. For as such it is in the construct state and has given its tone to the governing noun; then ל does not stand directly before the tone syllable. But if it is a verb, then it has the tone, and ל in that case receives pretonic kamets (comp. לָרִיב 3:13). As noun ריב means causae actio, defensio, in the same sense as the verb with following accusative (1:17; 51:22) is used (comp. 19:20).

Isa 34:10. לְנֵצַח נְצָחִים (the Masoretic form of writing נֵצַח occurs four times; Ps. 49:20; 1 Sam. 15:29; 1 Chron. 29:11) occurs only here.—תהו ;קַו, see list.

Isa 34:12. חֹרֶיהָ is put absolutely before.—מלובה ,אפם; see list.

Isa 34:13. ארמון comp. 23:13; 25:2; 32:14.—קמושׁ ;סירים; and חוח (kindred חָח 37:29) occur only here in Isaiah, מבצר, locus munitus 17:3; 25:12.—נָוֶה see list.

Isa 34:13, 14, 15. שׂעיר ,איים ,ציים ,בנות ,יענה ,תגים comp. on 13:21, 22.—חָצִיד (=חָצֵר locus septus) occurs again in Isaiah only 35:7 (see Comm. in loc.).—פָנַשׁ in Isaiah only here.—אַךְ has here also its restrictive sense. When GESENIUS (Thes. p. 89) says: that the vis restringendi relates non at proximum sed ad sequens quoddam vocabulum, and translates here accordingly: non nisi spectra ibi habitant, non nisi vultures ibi congregantur, the two statements exclude each other. For where only spectra dwell, the vulture cannot also dwell, and vice versa. To express that, the אַךְ must be joined to לילית and דיות (Isa 34:14, 15). But both times it is joined to שָׁם. Hence it appears that the Prophet would say: only there does the lilith rest, only there does the vulture congregate: i.e., there is no other place so suitable for them.—הרניע again 51:4 in another sense; in 28:12 we had the noun מרגעה “resting place.” Also מנוח “resting place,” only here in Isaiah; comp. Gen. 8:9; Lam. 1:3.


1. If the Prophet would not deal only in indefinite generalities in regard to the judgment on the nations of the earth, he must give prominence to the case of one nation instar omnium. Among neighboring nations Moab, and Edom, and Amnion, were most detested by the Israelites (comp. Deut. 23: 3–6; Ezek. 35:5; sqq.; Amos 1:11: Obad. 10 sqq.; Ps. 137:7, etc.). As Isaiah elsewhere, in a similar connection, mentions the Moabites by way of exemplification (25:10 sqq.), it is natural he should give similar prominence also to Edom, as he does here and 63:1 sqq. Now, because the sword of Jehovah has already become drunken in heaven with blood, it descends to earth, because it finds no more work above.

2. For my swored—of Zion.

Isa 34:5-8. The relation of this section to what precedes is this: the Prophet has said (Isa 34:2, 3), what the. LORDpurposes to do on earth. החרימם and נתנם Isa 34:2 are to be understood of acts of the will, not of performance: Isa 34:3 describes prophetically what shall once take place on earth in consequence of that divine decree. Isa 34:4 pictures the judgment that shall be executed on the heavens, but here the Prophet combines intention and performance. He contemplates the judgment of God as beginning in heaven, and continued on earth.

[On the construction of כִּי see Text, and Gram. “It may be construed in its proper sense, either with Isa 34:3 (HITZIG), or with the whole of the preceding description. All this shall certainly take place for my sword (the speaker being God Himself) is steeped,” etc.—J. A. ALEX.,in loc.].

The expression is a bold poetic one. Isaiah speaks of the sword of the LORD again 27:1; 66:16. But only here does he personify it. He may, as regards the sense, have in mind Deut. 32:41–43. Inevitable and irresistible are the judgments of the LORD. This the Prophet expresses by saying that the sword of the LORD, intoxicated with the judgment accomplished on “the host of the high ones that are on high” (24:21), and thirsting for more blood, descends to earth, and that first on Edom, as the nation that above all has become an object of the divine ban. (חֵרֶם the segregatio ad internecionem, 1 Kings 20:42; Isa. 43:28). Isa 34:6, 7 describe the effects of the execution. The sword of the LORD is not only full of blood, but is fattened, dropping fat. As in the second clause of Isa 34:6, the Edomites are regarded as a sacrifice, they are here compared to sheep, goats and rams.

Bozra stands for Edom also 63:1. Concerning this city see on Jer. 69:13.

The enumeration of buffaloes, bullocks and bulls (Isa 34:7) denotes that the entire nation shall perish, great and small, high and low. רְאֵם (only here in Isaiah, elsewhere only Num. 23:22; Deut. 33:17; Job 39:9 sq.; Ps. 22:22; 29:6; 92:11). It is now universally understood to mean the buffalo (see HERZ.R.–Encycl, xl. p. 28). פָרִים see on 1:11. אביר meaning “bull” occurs only 10:13 K’thibh. ירד meaning “to fell” trees, beasts or men, is peculiar to Isaiah (see 32:19). For Jer. 48:15; 50:27; 51:40 the use of the word is not quite the same. In consequence of the slaughter the earth itself is drunk with blood, and fat with fat, comp. on Isa 34:5, 6. The parallelism reigns not only in these verses, but in the entire complexity of Isa 34:6–8. For the description of the judgment in Isa 34:6a. and Isa 34:7 correspond, and the reasons assigned Isa 34:6b. and Isa 34:8. But progress appears in the thought because Isa 34:8 gives particularly the object of the “sacrifice” and the “slaughter.” The LORD will thereby satisfy His vengeance, and give Zion justice by a righteous recompense.

The expression for the day of the Lord’setc., recalls 2:12 and 63:4. But the Prophet seems moreover to have in mind Deut. 32:35, 41. For in those passages, as here, the notions of vengeance and recompense underlie the discourse.

But beside this, our passage lay before Jeremiah. For Jer. 46:10 is penetrated with elements drawn from Isa. 34:5–8. The following considerations show that our passage is the source from which Jer. drew. 1) The grand, drastic boldness and loftiness of the language of our passage, of which the words of Jer., after the fashion of that Prophet, are but a tempered imitation. 2) Isaiah uses the expression רִוְּתָה twice (Isa 34:5, 7); Jer. says, רָוְתָה It is much more likely that Jeremiah would dilute the strong expression of a predecessor, in his well-known fashion (see my comm. on Jer. Introd. § 3) than that an author living much later in the exile, should intensify the normal but weaker expression of Jer. 3) Jer. says יוֹם נְקָמָה, Isaiah; יוֹם Now in general נקם is the older form of the word, and is used only in Lev. 26:25; Deut 32:35, 41, 43; Judg. 16:28; Ps. 58:11; Prov. 6:34; Mic. 5:14, and in Isa. (35:4; 47:3; 59:17; 61:2; 63:4). In the exceptions Ezek. 24:8; 25:12, נְקֹם נָקָם is evidently said for the sake of the effect of sound; in Ezek. 25:15 the expression וַיִנָקְמוּ נקם is used along with נְקָמָה. On the other hand נְקָמָה is the form exclusively used by Jeremiah, and in Ezekiel it is the prevalent form (the exceptions being given above) and beside these is used only here and there (Num. 31:2, 3; Lam. 3:60; Ps. 149:7). But it is not probable that a writer later than Jeremiah has introduced the old form into a passage borrowed from Jeremiah.

3. And the streams—emptiness.

Isa 34:9-11. Edom was situated at the southern point of the Dead Sea. The following description recalls the pitchy and sulphurous character of this sea and its surroundings. It seems as if the Prophet would allude to that event which, recorded in Gen. 19:24, 25, 28, had impressed that character on the region. At least the sulphur, the overturning (הפך) and the ascending smoke are traits that he seems to have borrowed from that passage. זֶפֶת occurs again only Exod. 2:3. נפרית we had already where 30:33 the breath of God is called “a stream of brimstone.” When the streams are flowing pitch and the dust of the land is sulphur, the whole land will become a fearful place of conflagration. Day and night (the expression occurs Deut. 28:66, beside comp. Isa. 4:5: 21:8; 60:11), forever, for it is the flame of the last judgment, the burning shall continue. The burning land is the subject of תבכה which is used intensively also 43:17; 46:24.

Isa 34:10. On דור as defining time see on 13:20. מדור לדור occurs only here. חַרַבexarescere, exsiccari, comp. 19:5, 6; 44:27; 60:12. אֵין עֹבֵר again only 60:15. It does not agree well to say of the same land that it shall become an everlasting burning, and that it shall be a pathless desert. But the Prophet describes the future by means of the present, and contemplates the earth as an Edom cursed of God, and thinks of the latter as a scorched desert land. [The same may be said of the similarly inconsistent descriptions in all that follows in this section.—TR.].

Isa 34:11. As such the land is inhabited only by beasts of the desert. [On the names of beings enumerated in this and the following verses see J. A. ALEX.,comm, in loc, especially on לילית Isa 34:14.—TR.]. קאת (from קוא “to vomit”) is the pelican (Lev. 11:18; Deut. 14:17; Zeph. 2:14), קפד “the porcupine” (see on 14:23; Zeph. 2:14). נשׁוף “the owl” (only here in Isa. comp. Lev. 9:17; Deut. 14:16),—ערב “the raven” (in Isaiah only here). As right building can only be done by means of measuring line and plummet (Job 38:5), so shall right destruction be directed by aid of the same implements. The image is the same as Amos 7:7–9, comp. 2 Kings 21:23; Lam. 2:8. “The stone” is the weight that makes the line plumb. The expression אבני בהו is ἄπ. λεγ.; and בהו Isaiah uses no where else (see Gen. 1:2; Jer. 4:23).

[“The sense of the whole metaphor may then be—that God has laid this work out for Himself and will perform it (BARNES),—that even in destroying He will proceed deliberately, and by rule (KNOBEL), which last thought is well expressed in ROSENMUELLER’S paraphrase (ad mensuram vastabitur, ad regulam depopulabitur).”—J. A. ALEXANDER.]

4. They shall call—with her mate.

Isa 34:12-15. The Prophet now describes the desolation as it affects the territory of the nobility of Edom, both as to their persons and their castles. חריה being nominative absolute, the words must be translated: “as to her nobles, there are none there that call out a monarchy (election of king, accession to regency).” As the presence of the nobility is the necessary condition of a king’s election, and not vice versa, I regard this translation as more correct than the other which is also grammatically possible, viz.: “there is no kingdom that they may proclaim.” Moreover it is logically more correct that in the phrase with וְ the word put before absolutely should be the subject. Royalty in Edom was not inherited, but Esau’s descendants formed a high nobility from which the king proceeded by election (Gen. 36:15 sqq.; 31 sqq.). חֹרliber, ingenuus, nobilis Isaiah uses only here. Comp. Eccl. 10:17; Jer. 27:20 and often.

[On חריה J. A. ALEXANDER gives a copious synopsis of interpretations and then adds: “This great variety of explanations, and the harshness of construction with which most of them are chargeable, may serve as an excuse for the suggestion of a new one, not as certainly correct, but as possibly entitled to consideration.” Beside the meaning nobles, הֹרִים in several places “no less certainly means holes or caves (see 1 Sam. 14:11; Job 30:6; Nah. 2:13). Now it is matter of history not only that Edom was full of caverns, but that these were inhabited and that the aboriginal inhabitants, expelled by Esau, were expressly called Horites (חֹרִים) as being inhabitants of caverns (14:6; 36:20; Deut. 2:12, 22). This being the case, the entire depopulation of the country, and especially the destruction of its princes, might be naturally and poetically expressed by saying that the kingdom of Edom should be thenceforth a kingdom of deserted caverns.” For the appropriateness of description see in ROBINSON’S “Researches” the account of Petra.—TR.].

Isa 34:13. The ruin of the nobility is followed by that of their palaces. They are said to mount up (עלתה) but only ironically, for they appear great and high only by the rank wild growth on them.

Not only beasts of the desert, but also repulsive demons of the desert disport themselves in the desolate ruins of Edom. The Prophet mentions a female being, the ghost-like, restlessly wandering (comp. Matt. 12:43) Lilith, but which just there in those dreadful places finds a congenial resting place. The name לִילית certainly comes from לַיִל “the night,” and denotes a being of the night, a spectre. According to the TALMUD Lilith is the chief of the nocturnal Schedim, of the לִילִין or טְלָנִין (comp. BUXTORF,Lex. rabb., p. 1140 and 877), and bears the name אַנִּרַת בַּת קַחְלַתi. e., “Agrath the (female) dancer.” Comp. KOHUT,Jüd. Angel, und Dämonol, 1866, p. 61 and 86 sqq. Certainly Lilith is a production of popular superstition, to which various attributes and forms of appearance are ascribed. Comp. BUXTORF,l. c.BOCHART,Hieroz. III. p. 829, ed.ROSENMUELLER, GESEN.Thes. p. 749. [SMITH’SDiet, of Bible, under the word Owl]. לילית is ἄπ. λεγ.

[“In itself it means nothing more nor less than nocturnal, and would seem to be applicable to an animal or to any other object belonging to the night.” “This gratuitous interpretation of the Hebrew word” (viz., as referring to the superstitions mentioned above) “was unfortunately sanctioned by BOCHART and VITRINGA, and adopted with eagerness by the modern Germans who rejoice in every opportunity of charging a mistake in physics, or a vulgar superstition on the Scriptures. This disposition is the more apparent here, because the writers of this school usually pique themselves upon the critical discernment with which they separate the exegetical inventions of the Rabbins from the genuine meaning of the Hebrew text. GESENIUS for example, will not even grant that the doctrine of a personal Messiah is so much as mentioned in the writings of Isaiah, although no opinion has been more universally maintained by the Jews, from the date of their oldest uncanonical books. In this case, their unanimous and uninterrupted testimony goes for nothing, because it would establish an unwelcome identity between the Messiah of the Old and New Testament. But when the object is to fasten on the Scriptures an odious and contemptible superstition, the utmost deference is paid, not only to the silly legends of the Jews, but to those of the Greeks, Romans, Zabians and Russians.” “Beside the fact that לילית means nocturnal, and that its application to a spectre is entirely gratuitous, we may argue here, as in 13:25, that ghosts as well as demons would be wholly out of place in a list of wild and solitary animals. Is this a natural succession of ideas? Is it one that ought to be assumed without necessity?” … “Of all the figures that could be employed, that of resting seems to be the least appropriate in the description of a spectre.” … The quotation of Matt. 12:43 in this connection is “strange” and “incongruous,” “where the evil spirit is expressly said to pass through dry places seeking rest and finding none.” … “The sense 19 sufficiently secured by mating לילית mean a nocturnal bird (ABEN EZRA), or more specificially, an owl (COCCEIUS), or screech-owl (LOWTH). But the word admits of a still more satisfactory interpretation, in exact agreement with the exposition which has already been given of the preceding terms as general descriptions rather than specific names. If these terms represent the animals occupying Idumea, first as belonging to the wilderness (ציים), then as distinguished by their fierce and melancholy cries (איים), and then as shaggy in appearance (שׂעיר), nothing can be more natural than that the fourth epithet should also be expressive of their habits as a class … nocturnal or belonging to the night.”—J. A. ALEXANDER,in loc.TR.].

Isa 34:15. BOCHART in his Hieroz., II. p. 194 sqq., has proved that קפוז means arrow-snake. In lonely places, out of danger it harbors and lays its eggs. מִלֵט Piel=“to cause slipping away,” like the Hiph. 66:7; the imperf., with Vav consecutive makes what must hypotactically be regarded as a repeated fact, appear paratactically as occurring once. בקע “to cleave,” for by cleaving open the young are brought forth, comp. 35:6; 58:8; 59:5. דגר “to cherish” (only here and Jer. 17:11), cherishes the young in its shadow (i. e., of its own body)—דיה “vulture,” again only Deut. 14:13. The expression אשׁה רעותה only here and Isa 34:16 in Isaiah. DRECHSLER justly construes it as asyndeton, and as in apposition with the subject, as must be done also Isa 34:16.

[“As to the particular species of animals referred to in this whole passage, there is no need, as CALVIN well observes, of troubling ourselves much about them. (Non est cur in iis magnopere torqueamur). The general sense evidently is that a human population should be succeeded by wild and lonely animals—implying total and continued desolation.”—J. A. ALEXANDER. For rich illustration of the subject from modern travellers see BARNES’ Notes on Isaiah, in loc.TR.].


[6]Because my sword has become drunken.

[7]Or, rhinoceros.


[9]Or, drunken.

[10]For a day of vengeance has Jehovah.

[11]Or, pelican.


[13]Its nobles—there are none to proclaim the monarchy.

[14]no more.

[15]And its palaces soar aloft in thorns.


[17]Or, ostriches.

[18]Heb. daughters of the owl.

[19]Heb. ziim.

[20]Heb. Ijim.

[21]shaggy monster.—J. A. A.

[22]Or, night monster.


Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.

CHAPTER 34:16, 17

16          SEEK ye out of the book of the LORD, and read,

No one of these 24shall fail,

None shall want her mate:

For my mouth it hath commanded, and bhis spirit it hath gathered them,

17     And he hath cast the lot for them,

And his hand hath divided it unto them by line:

They shall possess it for ever,

From generation to generation shall they dwell therein.


Isa 34:16. Comp. כָּתַב with על 30:8; Jer. 36:29; Deut. 27:3, 8, etc.——וקראו comp. 29:11,12.——The LXX. reads דָרָֽשׁוּ instead of דִּרְשׁוּ and refer the word to what goes before. Moreover it has somehow confounded מעל־ספר with מִסְפָר, and derived קְרָאוּ from קָרָא occurrere, for it reads thus: ἐκεῖ ἔλαφοι συνήντησαν καὶ ἴδον τὰ πρόσωπα ἀλλήλων· ἀριθμῷ παρῆλθον. In the παρῆλθον is doubtless a reference to Gen. 2:19. Strangely enough late expositors (KNOBEL, MEIER) adopt this rendering through misconception of the passage.—I do not believe that the feminines in אחת מהנה and אשׁה רעותה Hate relate only to the living beings enumerated in vers, 5–15. For why are not other traits of the prophecy, murder, burning, etc, to be fulfilled? And why conceive of all the living beings as feminine? The Prophet changes the gender ver, 17. I agree with those that take these feminines in a neuter sense, and as relating to all the traits of the predicted judgment, which is grammatically quite justifiable (comp. 41:22).——נעדר is used 40:26, as here, in the sense of desiderari, deesse.——As אִשָּׁה אֲחוֹתָהּ is said of inanimate things (Exod. 26:3, 5, 6, etc.) so the same is possible of אשה רעותה (asyndeton like Isa 34:15). פקדו is=“to miss,” (properly: to verify by inspection the non-existence, comp. 1 Sam. 20:6: 25:15). The 3d pers. plur. denotes the impersonal subject=“one.”—פִי occasions great difficulty. Some (as DRECHSLER) would refer the suffix in פי to the Prophet and in רוחו to God. But could the Prophet say: my mouth has commanded it? He could only say “announced,” (הִגִיד or the like). Thus the VULG. translates: quod ex ore meo procedit, ille mandavit. But the LXX. has simply, ὅτι κύριος ἐνετείλατο αὑτοῖς. It is better, with several Rabbis and DELITZSCH, to refer both suffixes to God: “ my mouth has commanded it and its spirit, i. e., the spirit of my mouth has gathered them.” Still this is a strange form of expression. For it appears as if the LORD distinguished between His spirit and the spirit of His mouth, as if the latter were not His spirit; a distinction that does not appear Ps. 33:6; Job 15:30. More over the explanation of GESENIUS, who would take הוא for the nomen regens belonging to כּי (comp. מימי היא Nah. 2:9), is not satisfactory. This construction is quite abnormal; for Nah. 2:9 is not similar. With the exception of the clause “for my mouth—hath gathered them,” not only the entire preceding part of the chapt. but also verses 16, 17 are spoken only by the Prophet. A corruption of the text was very possible, in as much as כִּיהוּ, by reason of the הוּא after רוּחוֹ, could easily change to כּי הוּא. Hence I think that we must simply translate “his mouth.”—קבצן (Piel, see list) is to be referred to the same objects as the fem. suffixes preceding.

Isa 34:17. הכּיל גורל only here in Isaiah; comp. Ps. 22:19; Ezek. 24:6, etc. גורל alone and חִלֵק see list.קַו and ײרשׁוה and ישׁכנו בה comp. on verse 11.—לדור ודור see verse 11.


1. The Prophet translates himself in spirit into the time when his prophecy shall have been fulfilled. As a pledge to his present readers of the reliability of his predictions he, so to speak, stakes his own and God’s honor on the fulfilment, which must be compromised by the non-fulfilment. For what the mouth of the LORD has announced, that the Spirit of the LORD will bring to pass. Though the immediate reference of these words is to the prophecy against Edom, it lies in the nature of things that the present summons concerns in the same way all predictions of the Prophet. It is hard to see why only the prophecy against Edom should be provided with such a postscript as the present. It is therefore a natural conjecture that this postscript stands connected with the position, and general significance of this prophecy against Edom. The latter concludes part first: for with 36 the historical pieces begin. We have found, too, this prophecy against Edom to be an exemplification in one nation of what is to happen to all (Isa 34:1–4). We may then take this postscript as pertaining to all the preceding threatening prophecies, because all of them are, so to speak, comprehended in this last one against Edom. Now as chap 34 is certainly more recent than most of the foregoing pieces, it is probable that this postscript was first added when the collection was made, to which perhaps the expression “Book of the LORD” refers. But, one may ask, why is this postscript put at the end of 35.? The verses 16, 17 are by their contents most intimately connected with 34:5–15. But why such an appeal to the written word only after a threatening prophecy? Christ, too, speaks the significant words “behold I have told you before” (Matt. 24:25; Mar. 13:23) after announcing judgments. God’s salvation comes to the pious, and they know from whose hand it comes. But the wicked will not hear of God’s sending judgments. They ascribe them to accident or fatalistic necessity. Therefore it specially concerns them to prove, that the judgment is something announced beforehand, and thus is something previously known and determined, that it is therefore the act of Him who knows all His works from the beginning of the world (Acts 15:18). Added to this, 35, points forwards more than backwards. It is the bridge to chapters 40–66, as it were, the morning twilight of the day of salvation, which dawns with chap. 40.

2. Seek ye—dwell therein. Isa 34:16, 17. The summons to read in the written book seems to me to indicate that the Prophet has just been busy with a book and finished it, which he calls “the book of the LORD.GESEN., and DRECHSL., explain this to mean that the Prophet “had in mind the insertion of his oracle in a collection of holy Scriptures;” that he “knew it to be a part of a greater whole, into which, in its time, it must be adopted.” But then why does he think this only of this prophecy? Even though elsewhere there is mention of recording single prophecies for the purpose of appealing to them afterwards (8:1; 30:8), still there is nowhere, beside the present, any mention of an entire book that deserved to be called “the book of the LORD.” But we evidently stand here at a boundary. The prophecies of part first conclude. Chapters 36–39, form an historical supplement. With 40, the second part begins. And at this significant point a “book of the LORD” is mentioned. This is certainly not to be explained by saying that in closing his prophecy the Prophet happened here to mention the future book of which it was to become a part. It is much more likely that the Prophet provided this prophecy with such a conclusion, when he put this prophecy at the end of a great book, that he called Jehovah-book, as containing the entire Jehovah-word announced by him. The expression סכּר יהוה occurs only here. Only a work in which Jehovah had space to give an all-sided revelation of His nature and will, deserved this name. And only a Prophet that was conscious of having been God’s faithful instrument in all he had said and written, could set such a title to his book.

The prophecy must he fulfilled because God is author of it. This is the general sense. But as to particulars כִּי occasions difficulty, on which see Text. and Gram. The Spirit of God, or perhaps more correctly the breath of God drives, or rather blows together, from all quarters what God needs in one place for the accomplishment of His counsel. Compare an analogous use of קִבֵּץMic. 1:7. The various beings or powers mentioned in Isa 34:5–15 are partly masculine, partly feminine. The Prophet repeats with emphasis that the total of them, i.e., the representatives of both genders are endowed with the land of Edom in eternal possession. He has similarly expressed the difference in gender by the different gender terminations, 3:1.

[On Isa 34:17. “An evident allusion to the division of the land of Canaan, both by lot and measuring line. (See Num. 26:55, 56; Josh. 18:4–6). As Canaan was allotted to Israel, so Edom is allotted to these doleful creatures.”—J. A. ALEXANDER.].


[24]fails, Neither one nor the other does one miss,

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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