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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Isaiah 34



The thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth chapters form one prophecy, the former part of which denounces God's judgment against His people's enemies, of whom Edom is the representative; the second part, of the flourishing state of the Church consequent on those judgments. This forms the termination of the prophecies of the first part of Isaiah (the thirty-sixth through thirty-ninth chapters being historical) and is a kind of summary of what went before, setting forth the one main truth, Israel shall be delivered from all its foes, and happier times shall succeed under Messiah.

Verse 1

1. All creation is summoned to hear God's judgments (Ezekiel 6:3; Deuteronomy 32:1; Psalms 50:4; Micah 6:1; Micah 6:2), for they set forth His glory, which is the end of creation (Revelation 15:3; Revelation 4:11).

that come forth of it—answering to "all that is therein"; or Hebrew, "all whatever fills it," Margin.

Verse 2

2. utterly destroyed—rather, "doomed them to an utter curse" [HORSLEY].

delivered—rather, "appointed."

Verse 3

3. cast out—unburied ( :-).

melted—washed away as with a descending torrent.

Verse 4

4. (Psalms 102:26; Joel 2:31; Joel 3:15; Matthew 24:29).

dissolved— (Matthew 24:29- :). Violent convulsions of nature are in Scripture made the images of great changes in the human world (Matthew 24:29- :), and shall literally accompany them at the winding up of the present dispensation.

scroll—Books were in those days sheets of parchment rolled together (Matthew 24:29- :).

fall down—The stars shall fall when the heavens in which they are fixed pass away.

fig tree— (Matthew 24:29- :).

Verse 5

5. sword— ( :-). Or else, knife for sacrifice for God does not here appear as a warrior with His sword, but as one about to sacrifice victims doomed to slaughter [VITRINGA]. (Ezekiel 39:17).

bathed—rather "intoxicated," namely, with anger (so Ezekiel 39:17- :). "In heaven" implies the place where God's purpose of wrath is formed in antithesis to its "coming down" in the next clause.

Idumea—originally extending from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea; afterwards they obtained possession of the country east of Moab, of which Bozrah was capital. Petra or Selah, called Joktheel (Ezekiel 39:17- :), was capital of South Edom (see on Ezekiel 39:17- :). David subjugated Edom (2 Samuel 8:13; 2 Samuel 8:14). Under Jehoram they regained independence (2 Chronicles 21:8). Under Amaziah they were again subdued, and Selah taken (2 Chronicles 21:8- :). When Judah was captive in Babylon, Edom, in every way, insulted over her fallen mistress, killed many of those Jews whom the Chaldeans had left, and hence was held guilty of fratricide by God (Esau, their ancestor, having been brother to Jacob): this was the cause of the denunciations of the prophets against Edom (Isaiah 63:1; Jeremiah 49:7; Ezekiel 25:12-14; Ezekiel 35:3-15; Joel 3:19; Amos 1:11; Amos 1:12; Obadiah 1:8; Obadiah 1:10; Obadiah 1:12-18; Malachi 1:3; Malachi 1:4). Nebuchadnezzar humbled Idumea accordingly (Malachi 1:4- :).

of my curse—that is, doomed to it.

to judgment—that is, to execute it.

Verse 6

6. filled—glutted. The image of a sacrifice is continued.

blood . . . fat—the parts especially devoted to God in a sacrifice ( :-).

lambs . . . goatssacrificial animals: the Idumeans, of all classes, doomed to slaughter, are meant (Zephaniah 1:7).

Bozrah—called Bostra by the Romans, c., assigned in Zephaniah 1:7- : to Moab, so that it seems to have been at one time in the dominion of Edom, and at another in that of Moab (Isaiah 63:1 Jeremiah 49:13; Jeremiah 49:20; Jeremiah 49:22); it was strictly not in Edom, but the capital of Auranitis (the Houran). Edom seems to have extended its dominion so as to include it (compare Jeremiah 49:22- :).

Verse 7

7. unicornsHebrew, reem: conveying the idea of loftiness, power, and pre-eminence (see on :-), in the Bible. At one time the image in the term answers to a reality in nature; at another it symbolizes an abstraction. The rhinoceros was the original type. The Arab rim is two-horned: it was the oryx (the leucoryx, antelope, bold and pugnacious); but when accident or artifice deprived it of one horn, the notion of the unicorn arose. Here is meant the portion of the Edomites which was strong and warlike.

come down—rather, "fall down," slain [LOWTH].

with them—with the "lambs and goats," the less powerful Edomites ( :-).

bullocks . . . bulls—the young and old Edomites: all classes.


Verse 8

8. recompenses for the controversy of Zion—that is, the year when God will retaliate on those who have contended with Zion. Her controversy is His. Edom had thought to extend its borders by laying hold of its neighbor's lands and has instigated Babylon to cruelty towards fallen Judah (Psalms 137:7; Ezekiel 36:5); therefore Edom shall suffer the same herself (Lamentations 4:21; Lamentations 4:22). The final winding up of the controversy between God and all enemies of Him and His people is also foreshadowed (Isaiah 61:2; Isaiah 63:4; Isaiah 66:14-16; Malachi 4:1; Malachi 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Revelation 11:18; Revelation 18:20; Revelation 19:2).

Verse 9

9. Images from the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah ( :-; so Deuteronomy 29:23; Jeremiah 49:17; Jeremiah 49:18).

Verse 10

10. It—The burning pitch, c. (Isaiah 34:9).

smoke . . . for ever— (Revelation 14:11 Revelation 18:18).

generation to generation— (Malachi 1:4).

none . . . pass through—Edom's original offense was: they would not let Israel pass through their land in peace to Canaan: God recompenses them in kind, no traveller shall pass through Edom. VOLNEY, the infidel, was forced to confirm the truth of this prophecy: "From the reports of the Arabs, southeast of the Dead Sea, within three days' journey are upwards of thirty ruined towns, absolutely deserted."

Verse 11

11. cormorant—The Hebrew is rendered, in Psalms 102:6, "pelican," which is a seafowl, and cannot be meant here: some waterfowl (katta, according to BURCKHARDT) that tenants desert places is intended.

bittern—rather, "the hedgehog," or "porcupine" [GESENIUS] (Isaiah 14:23).

owl—from its being enumerated among water birds in Leviticus 11:17; Deuteronomy 14:16. MAURER thinks rather the heron or crane is meant; from a Hebrew root, "to blow," as it utters a sound like the blowing of a horn (Revelation 18:2).


line . . . stones—metaphor from an architect with line and plummet-stone (see on Revelation 18:2- :; Isaiah 34:2); God will render to it the exact measure of justice without mercy (James 2:13; 2 Kings 21:13; Lamentations 2:8; Amos 7:7; Amos 7:8).

emptiness—desolation. Edom is now a waste of "stones."

Verse 12

12. Rather, "As to her nobles, there shall be none there who shall declare a kingdom," that is, a king [MAURER]; or else, "There shall be no one there whom they shall call to the kingdom" [ROSENMULLER] (Isaiah 3:6, c.). Idumea was at first governed by dukes (Genesis 36:15) out of them the king wan chosen when the constitution became a monarchy.

Verse 13

13. dragons—(See on :-; Isaiah 34:1).

court for owls—rather, "a dwelling for ostriches."

Verse 14

14. wild beasts of the desert . . . island—rather, "wild cats . . . jackals" ( :-).

screech owl—rather, "the night specter"; in Jewish superstition a female, elegantly dressed, that carried off children by night. The text does not assert the existence of such objects of superstition, but describes the place as one which superstition would people with such beings.

Verse 15

15. great owl—rather, "the arrow snake," so called from its darting on its prey [GESENIUS].

lay—namely, eggs.

gather under her shadow—rather, "cherishes" her young under, &c. (Jeremiah 17:11).

Verse 16

16. book of the Lord—the volume in which the various prophecies and other parts of Scripture began henceforward to be collected together (Isaiah 30:8; Daniel 9:2).

Seek—(so Isaiah 8:16; Isaiah 8:20; John 5:39; John 7:52).

no one . . . fail—of these prophecies (Matthew 5:18).

none shall want . . . mate—image from pairing of animals mentioned, Matthew 5:18- : ("mate"); no prediction shall want a fulfilment as its companion. Or rather, "none of these wild animals (just spoken of) shall be wanting: none shall be without its mate" to pair and breed with, in desolate Idumea.

my . . . his—Such changes of person are frequent in Hebrew poetry.

them—the wild beasts.

Verse 17

17. cast . . . lot—As conquerors apportion lands by lot, so Jehovah has appointed and marked out ("divided") Edom for the wild beasts (Numbers 26:55; Numbers 26:56; Joshua 18:4-6).

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 34". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.