And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.
Verse 1. - Seven women shall take hold of one man. This verse has been well called a "companion picture to Isaiah 3:6, 7." As there, in the evil time of God's judgment, the despairing men are represented as" taking hold" of a respectable man to make him their judge, so now the despairing women "take hold" of such a man and request him to allow them all to be regarded as his wives. There has been such a destruction - men are become so scarce - that no otherwise can women escape the shame and reproach of being unwedded and childless. Our own bread will we eat. They do not ask him to support them; they are able and willing to support themselves. To take away; rather, take thou away - the imperative mood, not the infinitive. Our reproach. Children were regarded as such a blessing in the ancient times that to be childless was a misfortune and a subject of reproach. Hagar "despised" the barren Sarai (Genesis 16:4). Her "adversary provoked Hannah sore, because the Lord had shut up her womb" (1 Samuel 1:6). Compare the lament of Antigone, who views it as a disgrace that she descends to the tomb unwed (Soph., 'Antig.,' 11. 813-816). Among the Jews childlessness was a special reproach, because it took away all possibility of the woman being in the line of the Messiah's descent (comp. Isaiah 54:1-4).
In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.
Verses 2-6. - As the present prophecy (Isaiah 2-4.), though in the main one of threatening and denunciation, opened with a picture that was encouraging and comforting (Isaiah 2:2-4), so new it terminates with a similar picture. The evangelical prophet, like the great apostle of the Gentiles, is unwilling that any one should be "swallowed up with overmuch sorrow." He will not separate the mercies of God from his judgments. Verse 2. - In that day shall the branch of the Lord, etc. Some see in this passage merely a promise that in the Messianic times the produce of the soil would become more abundant than ever before, its harvests richer, and its fruitage more luxuriant. But in the light of later prophecy it is scarcely possible to shut up the meaning within such narrow limits. The "Branch" of Isaiah can hardly be isolated altogether in a sound exegesis from the "Branch" of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15) and of Zechariah (Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12). Now, the "Branch" of Zechariah is stated to be "a man" (Zechariah 6:12: note that the word used for "Branch" is the same as Isaiah's, viz. tsemakh), and the "Branch "of Jeremiah is a King (Jeremiah 33:15). Moreover, Isaiah uses a nearly equivalent term (netser) in an admittedly Messianic sense. Although, therefore, there is some obscurity in the phrase, "Branch of Jehovah," it would seem to be best to understand Isaiah as here intimating, what he elsewhere openly declares (Isaiah 11:1-5) - viz. the coming of the Messiah in the latter days as the ornament and glory of his people. Be beautiful and glorious; rather, for beauty and glory; or, for ornament and glory; i.e. for the ornament and glorification of Israel. And the fruit of the earth. It is argued with reason that the two clauses of this verse are parallel, not antithetical, and that as we understand the one, so must we understand the other. If, then, the "Branch" is the Messiah, so is "the fruit of the earth"-which may well be, since he was "the grain of wheat" which "fell into the ground and, lied, and so brought forth much fruit" (John 12:24). Excellent and comely; rather, for majesty and beauty (comp. Exodus 28:2, 40). Unto the escaped of Israel; i.e. "to those who shall have our-rived the great calamity, and become citizens of the restored Jerusalem." Dr. Kay well remarks that "the prophecy was adequately fulfilled only in those who 'saved themselves' from the generation which rejected Christ. That remnant was the germ of the Catholic Church, made such by being incorporated into the true Vine" ('Speaker's Commentary,' note at loc.).
And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem:
Verse 3. - He that is left... he that remaineth. Equivalent to the "escaped" of the preceding verse. Shall be called holy. Strikingly fulfilled in the filet that the early Christians were known as titter, "holy," or κλητοὶ ἅγοι, "those called to be holy," in the first age (Acts 9:13, 32, 41; Acts 26:10; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1, etc.). Perhaps, however, more is meant than this. The early Christians not only were called, but were "holy." Even Gibbon places the innocent lives of the early Christians among the causes of the conversion of the Roman empire. Every one that is written among the living. A register of the "living," or "heirs of life," is here assumed, as in Exodus 32:32; Psalm 69:28; Daniel 12:1; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 21:27, etc. It is a "book," however, out of which names may be "blotted" (Revelation 3:5).
When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.
Verse 4. - When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion (see Isaiah 3:16-24). Sin must not be merely repented of and pardoned; it must be put away. There could be no Jerusalem, in which all should be "called holy," until the moral defilement of the daughters of Zion was swept away. Purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst (comp. Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 59:3). It is possible, however, that the murder of infants in sacrifice to Moloch may be in the prophet's mind. Ahaz "burnt his children in the fire after the abominations of the heathen" (2 Chronicles 28:3). Manasseh did the same (2 Chronicles 33:6): and the practice was probably widespread among the people long before Isaiah's time (see Psalm 106:38; Isaiah 57:5). By the spirit of burning; or, by a blast of burning; i.e. a fiery blast which shall destroy everything (comp. Isaiah 1:31).
And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence.
Verse 5. - Upon every dwelling-place ("over the whole habitation," Revised Version). Mr. Cheyne translates "upon the whole site," and takes the "site" to be especially the temple. Makon seems certainly never to be used for anything but "God's dwelling-place" (Exodus 15:17; 1 Kings 8:13, 39, etc.; 2 Chronicles 6:2, 30, etc.; Ezra 2:68; Psalm 33:14; Psalm 89:14; Psalm 97:2; Psalm 104:5; Isaiah 18:4; Daniel 8:11). Perhaps, however, every dwelling-place of God, i.e. every Christian Church, is intended. On these, and on all Christian assemblies, there will rest a new presence of God - one which he will have "created;" recalling that of the pillar of fire and of cloud which rested in the wilderness on the Jewish tabernacle (Exodus 33:9; Exodus 40:34-38, etc.). A cloud and smoke by day. The "pillar of the cloud" is never said in the Pentateuch to have been one of" smoke;" but Sinai "smoked" when God descended on it (Exodus 19:18; Exodus 20:18), and the psalmist speaks of a "smoke" as issuing out of God's nostrils (Psalm 18:8). In the poetry of Isaiah," smoke, no less than "cloud," symbolizes God's presence (see Isaiah 6:4). Upon all the glory shall be a defense; rather, as in the margin, a covering. Over all the glory of Zion, its purged temple and its purified assemblies, the presence of God shall rest like a canopy, protecting it.
And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.
Verse 6. - And there shall be, etc.; rather, and it (i.e. "the canopy") shall be a tabernacle, or bower, a shelter from the sun's heat by day, and from storm and rain both by day and night. The metaphors need no explanation.