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Bible Commentaries

Clarke's Commentary

Isaiah 32

Verse 1


Prophecy of great prosperity under Hezekiah; but, in its

highest sense, applicable to Christ, 1-8.

Description of impending calamities, 9-14.

Rejection of the Jews, and calling of the Gentiles, 15.

The future prosperity of the Church, 16-20.


Verse Isaiah 32:1. Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness — If King Hezekiah were a type of Christ, then this prophecy may refer to his time; but otherwise it seems to have Hezekiah primarily in view. It is evident, however, that in the fullest sense these words cannot be applied to any man; GOD alone can do all that is promised here.

And princesושרים ve-sarim, without ל lamed, to; so the ancient Versions. An ancient MS. has ושריו vesaraiv, and his princes.

Verse 2

Verse Isaiah 32:2. As the shadow of a great rock — The shadow of a great projecting rock is the most refreshing that is possible in a hot country, not only as most perfectly excluding the rays of the sun, but also as having in itself a natural coolness, which it reflects and communicates to every thing about it.

Speluncaeque tegant, et saxea procubet umbra.

VIRG. Georg. iii. 145.

"Let the cool cave and shady rock protect them."

Επει κεφαλην και γουνατα Σειριος αζει,

Αυαλεος δε τε χρως απο καυματος· αλλα τοτ' ηδη

Ειη πετραιη τε σκιν, και Βιβλινος οινος.

HESIOD. ii. 206.

"When Sirius rages, and thine aching head,

Parched skin, and feeble knees refreshment need;

Then to the rock's projected shade retire,

With Biblin wine recruit thy wasted powers."

Verse 3

Verse Isaiah 32:3. And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim - "And him the eyes of those that see shall regard"] For ולא velo, and not, Le Clerc reads ולו velo, and to him, of which mistake the Masoretes acknowledge there are fifteen instances; and many more are reckoned by others. The removal of the negative restores to the verb its true and usual sense.

Verse 5

Verse Isaiah 32:5. The vile person shall no more be called liberal — The different epithets here employed require minute explanation.

The vile person - נבל nabal, the pampered, fattened, brainless fellow, who eats to live, and lives to eat; who will scarcely part with any thing, and that which he does give he gives with an evil eye and a grudging heart.

Liberal - נדיב nadib; the generous, openhearted, princely man, who writes on all his possessions, For myself and mankind, and lives only to get and to do good.

The churl - כילי kilai, the avaricious man; he who starves himself amidst his plenty, and will not take the necessaries of life for fear of lessening his stock.

Thus he differs from נבל nabal, who feeds himself to the full, and regards no one else; like the rich man in the Gospel. The avaricious man is called כילי kilai, from כי ki, for, לי li, myself; or contracted from כל col, all, and לי li, to myself: all is mine; all I have is my own; and all I can get is for myself: and yet this man enjoys nothing; he withholds

From back and belly too their proper fare:-

O cursed lust of gold, when for thy sake

The wretch throws up his interest in both worlds,

First starved in this, then damned in that to come!

Bountiful - שוע shoa, he who is abundantly rich; who rejoices in his plenty, and deals out to the distressed with a liberal hand.

Verse 6

Verse Isaiah 32:6. The vile person will speak villany - "The fool will still utter folly"] A sort of proverbial saying, which Euripides (Bacchae, 369) has expressed in the very same manner and words: Μωρα γαρ μωρος λεγει· "The fool speaks folly." Of this kind of simple and unadorned proverb or parable, see De S. Poes, Hebr. Praelect. xxiv.

Against the Lord - "Against JEHOVAH"] For אל El, two MSS. read אל al, more properly; but both are of nearly the same meaning.

Verse 7

Verse Isaiah 32:7. The instruments also of the churl are evil - "As for the niggard, his instruments are evil"] His machinations, his designs. The paronomasia, which the prophet frequently deals in, suggested this expression וכלי כליו vechelai kelaiv. The first word is expressed with some variety in the MSS. Seven MSS. read וכילי vekili, one וכל vechol, another וכולי vecoli.

To destroy the poor with lying words - "To defeat the assertions of the poor in judgment"] A word seems to have been lost here, and two others to have suffered a small alteration, which has made the sentence very obscure. The Septuagint have happily retained the rendering of the lost word, and restored the sentence in all its parts: Και διασκεδασαι λογους ταπεινων εν κρισει· ולהפר דברי אביון במשפט ulehapher dibrey ebyon bemishpat, "And disperse the words of the poor in judgment." They frequently render the verb הפר haphar by διασκεδασαι, A MS. reads ולדבר uledabber, which gives authority for the preposition ל lamed, to, necessary to the sense, and the Septuagint, Syriac, and Chaldee read במשפט bemishpat, IN judgment.

Verse 8

Verse Isaiah 32:8. Liberal things - "Generous purposes"] "Of the four sorts of persons mentioned Isaiah 32:5, three are described, Isaiah 32:6-8, but not the fourth." - SECKER. Perhaps for והוא vehu, and he, we ought to read ושוע veshoa, the bountiful.

Verse 9

Verse Isaiah 32:9. Rise up, ye women - "ye provinces." Ye careless daughters - "ye cities." - Targum.

From this verse to the end of the fourteenth, the desolation of Judea by the Chaldeans appears to be foretold.

Verse 11

Verse Isaiah 32:11. Gird sackclothשק sak, sackcloth, a word necessary to the sense, is here lost, but preserved by the Septuagint, MSS. Alex. and Pachom., and I. D. II., and edit. Ald. and Comp., and the Arabic and Syriac.

Tremble - be troubled - strip youפשטה peshotah, רגזה regazah, &c. These are infinitives, with a paragogic ה he, according to Schultens, Institut. Ling. Hebr. p. 453, and are to be taken in an imperative sense.

Verse 12

Verse Isaiah 32:12. They shall lament - for the pleasant fields - "Mourn ye for the pleasant field"] The Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate read ספדו siphdu, mourn ye, imperative; twelve MSS., (five ancient,) two editions, the Septuagint, Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, Syriac, and Vulgate, all read שדה sadeh, a field; not שדי shedey, breasts.

Verse 13

Verse Isaiah 32:13. Shall come up thorns and briers - "The thorn and the brier shall come up"] All the ancient Versions read ושמיר veshamir, with the conjunction. And an ancient MS. has תעלה בו taaleh bo, "shall come up in it," which seems to be right; or rather בה bah: and there is a rasure in the place of בו bo in another ancient MS.

Yea, upon all the houses of joy — For כי ki, the ancient Versions, except the Vulgate, seem to have read ו ve. כי ki may perhaps be a mistake for בו bo, or בה bah, in it, above mentioned. It is not necessary in this place.

The description of impending distress which begins at Isaiah 32:13 belongs to other times than that of Sennacherib's invasion, from which they were so soon delivered. It must at least extend to the ruin of the country and city by the Chaldeans. And the promise of blessings which follows was not fulfilled under the Mosaic dispensation; they belong to the KINGDOM of Messiah. Compare Isaiah 32:15 with Isaiah 29:17, and see the note there.

Verse 14

Verse Isaiah 32:14. The palaces shall be forsaken — The house of the sanctuary (the temple) shall be destroyed. - Targum.

The forts - "Ophel"] It was a part of Mount Zion, rising higher than the rest, at the eastern extremity, near to the temple, a little to the south of it; called by Micah, Micah 4:8, "Ophel of the daughter of Zion." It was naturally strong by its situation; and had a wall of its own, by which it was separated from the rest of Zion.

Verse 15

Verse Isaiah 32:15. And the fruitful fieldוהכרמל vehaccarmel. So fifteen MSS., six ancient, and two editions; which seems to make the noun an appellative.

Verse 17

Verse Isaiah 32:17. The work of righteousness — Righteousness works and produces peace.

The effect of righteousnessעבדת abodath, the culture. Righteousness, cultivated by peace, produces tranquillity of mind and permanent security. Reader, hast thou the principle? If so, dost thou cultivate it? If thou dost, thou hast peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, and a sure and certain hope of everlasting life.

Verse 19

Verse Isaiah 32:19. The city shall be low in a low place. - "The city shall be laid level with the plain."] For ובשפלה ubashephelah, the Syriac reads וכשפלה ukeshephelah. The city - probably Nineveh or Babylon: but this verse is very obscure. Saltus; Assyriorum regnum: civitas; magnifica Assyriorum castra. Ephrem Syr. in loc. For וברד ubarad, a MS. has וירד vaiyered; and so conjectured Abp. Secker, referring to Zechariah 11:2.

Verse 20

Verse Isaiah 32:20. That sow beside all waters - "Who sow your seed in every well-watered place"] Sir John Chardin's note on this place is: - "This exactly answers the manner of planting rice; for they sow it upon the water, and before sowing, while the earth is covered with water, they cause the ground to be trodden by oxen, horses, and asses, who go mid-leg deep; and this is the way of preparing the ground for sowing. As they sow the rice on the water, they transplant it in the water." Harmer's Observ. vol. i. p. 280. "Rice is the food of two-thirds of mankind." Dr. Arbuthnot. "It is cultivated in most of the eastern countries." Miller. "It is good for all, and at all times." Sir J. Chardin, ib. "Le ris, qui est leur principal aliment et leur froment (i.e., des Siamois,) n'est jamais assez arrose; il croit au milieu de l'eau, et les campagnes ou on le cultive ressemblent plutot a de marets que non pas a des terres qu'on laboure aver la charue. Le ris a bien cette force, que quoy qu'il y ait six ou sept pieds d'eau sur lui, il pousse toujours sa tige au dessus; et le tuyau qui le porte s'eleve et croit a proportion de la hauteur de l'eau qui noye son champ. Voyage de l'Eveque de Beryte, p. 144. Paris, 1666. - L. "Rice, which is the principal grain and aliment of the Siamese, can never be too much watered. It grows in the water, and the fields where it is sown resemble marshes rather than fields cultivated by ploughing. Rice has that property that although it be covered with water six or seven feet deep, yet it raises its stalk above it; and this grows long in proportion to the depth of the water by which the field is inundated."

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Isaiah 32". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.