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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Isaiah 11

Verse 1

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: Isaiah 11:1-23.11.16.-From the local and temporary national deliverance the prophet passes, by the law of suggestion, in an easy transition, to the end of all prophecy-the everlasting deliverance under Messiah's reign; not merely His first coming, but chiefly His second coming. The language and illustrations are still drawn from the temporary national subject with which he began, but the glories described pertain to Messiah's reign. Hezekiah cannot, as some think, be the subject, for he was already come; whereas the "stem of Jesse" was yet future ("there shall come"). Compare Micah 4:11, etc.; Isaiah 11:1-23.11.2; Jeremiah 23:5-24.23.6, "I will raise unto David a Righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper," etc.; Jeremiah 33:15-24.33.16. Paul quotes this in Romans 15:12.

There shall come forth a rod - or, slender twig [ choTer (H2415)]. When the proud 'boughs' of "Lebanon" (Isaiah 10:33-23.10.34, the Assyrians) are lopped, and the vast 'forests cut down' amidst all this rage, a seemingly humble rod shall come out of Jesse (Messiah), who shall retrieve the injuries done by the Assyrian "rod" to Israel (Isaiah 10:5-23.10.6; Isaiah 10:18-23.10.19).

Out of the stem of Jesse. "The stem" ( geza` (H1503)) - literally, the stump of a tree cut close by the roots: happily expressing the depressed state of the royal house of David, owing to the hostile storm (Isaiah 10:6; Isaiah 10:12; Isaiah 10:24), when Messiah should arise from it, to raise it to more than its pristine glory. Luke 2:7 illustrates the depressed state of David's lineal representatives, Joseph and the Virgin Mary, when Jesus was born of them (Isaiah 53:2, "as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground;" note, Isaiah 8:6: cf. Job 14:7-18.14.8, where the Hebrew term occurs).

A Branch - a scion, a shoot (Hebrew, neetser (H5342)). He is nevertheless also the "root" (Isaiah 11:10; Revelation 5:5; Revelation 22:16). 'Root and offspring' combines both (Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12, "Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord").

Shall grow - Hebrew, shall be fruitful (yiphreh).

Out of his roots - from the stump cut down to the roots.

Verse 2

And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;

The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him - the Spirit of Yahweh. The Spirit by which the prophets spake, because Messiah was to be a Prophet (Isaiah 61:1; Deuteronomy 18:15; Deuteronomy 18:18). Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are specified, to imply that the perfection of them was to be in Him. Compare "the seven Spirits which are before His throne" (Revelation 1:4) - i:e., the Holy Spirit in His perfect fullness; seven being the sacred number. The prophets had only a portion out of the 'fulness' in the Son of God (John 1:16; John 3:34; Colossians 1:19).

Rest - permanently; not merely come upon Him (Numbers 11:25-4.11.26).

The spirit of wisdom - (1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 1:17; Colossians 2:3.) And understanding - coupled with "wisdom," being its fruit. Discernment and discrimination. Compare, for instance, His replies to adversaries, Matthew 22:18; Mark 12:34; and His insight into man, John 2:25.

The spirit of counsel and might - the faculty of forming counsels, and that of executing them (Isaiah 28:29). "Counsellor" (Isaiah 9:6).

The spirit of knowledge - of the deep things of God (Matthew 11:27). The knowledge of Him gives us true knowledge (Ephesians 1:17).

And of the fear of the Lord - reverential, obedient fear. The first step toward true "knowledge" (Job 38:28; Psalms 111:10).

Verse 3

And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:

And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord - Hebrew, haricho; literally, 'quick-scented in the fear of Yahweh;' endowed with a singular sagacity in discerning the genuine principle of religious fear of God, when it lies dormant in the yet unawakened sinner (Matthew 12:20; Acts 10:1; Acts 16:14) (Horsley). But Maurer, 'He shall delight in the fear of God.' The Hebrew means, to delight in the odours of anything (Exodus 30:38; Amos 5:21, "I will not smell in your solemn assemblies"); 'smell,' - i:e., delight in.

He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes - according to mere external appearances (John 7:24, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment;" John 8:15; James 2:1; 1 Samuel 16:7). Herein Messiah is represented a just Judge and Ruler (Deuteronomy 1:16-5.1.17).

Neither reprove - decide, as the parallelism shows.

After the hearing of his ears - by mere plausible hearsays, but by the true merits of each case, which He "knew from the beginning" (John 6:64; Revelation 2:23).

Verse 4

But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

But with righteousness shall he judge the poor - He will see that impartial justice is done them. And reprove - decide. But Lowth, 'work conviction in.' "Judge" may mean here 'rule over,' as in Psalms 67:4, "Thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth."

With equity for the meek of the earth - (cf. Matthew 5:5, and Revelation 11:15.)

And he shall smite the earth - its ungodly inhabitants: answering to "the wicked" in the parallel, and in antithesis to the "poor" and "meek" - namely, in spirit-the humble pious (Matthew 5:3). It is implied that "the earth" will be extraordinarily wicked when He shall come to judge and reign. The apostasy will be of world-wide extent. His reign shall therefore be ushered in with judgments on the apostates (Psalms 2:9-19.2.12; Luke 18:8; Revelation 2:27).

With the rod of his mouth - with condemning sentences which proceed from His mouth against the wicked (Revelation 1:16; Revelation 2:16; Revelation 19:15; Revelation 19:21).

With the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked - the Chaldaic Targum. Jonathan paraphrases, 'With the utterance of His lips will He kill the wicked Armillus' [i:e., ereemolaos], the desolater of the people. Paul alludes to this passage in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, "that Wicked ... whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth;" His judicial decisions (Isaiah 30:28; Job 15:30; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:9-66.20.12). He, as the Word of God (Revelation 19:13-66.19.15), comes to strike that blow which shall decide His claim to the kingdom previously usurped by Satan, and "the beast" to whom Satan delegates his power. It will be a day of judgment to the Gentile dispensation, as the first coming was to the Jews. Compare a type of the "rod" - namely, Aaron's rod 'before the testimony, kept for a token against the rebels' (Numbers 17:2-4.17.10).

Verse 5

And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.

Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins - (Revelation 1:13; Revelation 19:11.) The antitypical High Priest (Exodus 28:4).

Faithfulness the girdle of his reins. A zeal for justice and truth shall energize Him in executing His great work of judging and reigning for God the Father at His advent. The girdle secures firmly the rest of the garments (1 Peter 1:13). So 'truth' gives firm consistency to the whole character (Ephesians 5:14). In Isaiah 59:17 "righteousness" is His breastplate.

Verse 6

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb. Each animal is coupled with that one which is its natural prey. A fit state of things under the "Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 65:25; Ezekiel 34:25; Hosea 2:18). These may be figures for men of corresponding animal-like characters (Ezekiel 22:27; Ezekiel 38:13; Jeremiah 5:6; Jeremiah 13:23; Matthew 7:15; Luke 10:3). Still a literal change in the relations of animals to man and each other, restoring the state in Eden, is a more likely interpretation. Compare Genesis 2:19-1.2.20 with Psalms 8:6-19.8.8, which describes the restoration to man, in the person of "the Son of man," of the lost dominion over the animal kingdom, of which he had been designed to be the merciful vicegerent under God, for the good of his animal subjects (Romans 8:19-45.8.22).

Verse 7

And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

And the cow and the bear shall feed - together taken from the second clause.

And the lion shall eat straw - no longer flesh and blood.

Verse 8

And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.

And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp - "play," literally, delight himself in sport.

Cockatrice - the Hebrew means a kind of adder, more venomous than the asp. Bochart supposes the basilisk to be meant, which was thought to poison even with its breath. [ Tsip`owniy (H6848), basiliskos, regulus, from traapa`, to protrude, as serpents do in striking their prey, and to hiss.] It appears from this passage it was subterranean in habits, and from Isaiah 59:5 that it was oviparous, and from Isaiah 14:29 that it was not identical with the nachash (H5175).

Verse 9

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

My holy mountain - Zion, i:e., Jerusalem. The seat of government and of Messiah's throne is put for the whole earth (Jeremiah 3:17).

For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. As the waters find their way into every cavern of its depths, so Christianity shall pervade every recess of the earth (Habakkuk 2:14). As Isaiah 11:1-23.11.5 describe the personal qualities of Messiah, and Isaiah 11:6-23.11.9 the regenerating effects of His coming on the animal creation, so Isaiah 11:10-23.11.16 the results of it in the restoration of His people the Jews, and the conversion through them of the Gentiles.

Verse 10

And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

In that day there shall be a root of Jesse - rather, shoot from the root (cf. note, Isaiah 11:1; Isaiah 53:2; Revelation 5:5; Revelation 22:16).

Which shall stand for an ensign - permanently and prominently, as a banner lifted up to be the rallying point of an army or people (Isaiah 5:26). He was once "lifted up" on the cross in shame; He is now forever lifted up in glory at the right hand of the Father; in both aspects, to "draw all men unto" Him (John 12:32).

Of the people - peoples, answering to "the Gentiles" in the parallel member.

To it shall the Gentiles seek - diligently (Job 8:5). They shall give in their allegiance to the Divine King, when he shall dwell in the midst of Zion (Isaiah 2:2; Isaiah 60:5; Zechariah 2:11). Horsley translates, 'Of Him shall the Gentiles inquire'-namely, in a religious sense, resort as to an oracle for consultation in difficulties (Zechariah 14:16). Compare Romans 15:12, which quotes this passage, "in Him shall the Gentiles trust."

And his rest - resting-place (Isaiah 60:13, "I will make the place of my feet glorious;" Psalms 132:8; Psalms 132:14; Ezekiel 43:7, "the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever"). The sanctuary in the temple of Jerusalem was 'the resting-place of the ark and of Yahweh.' So the glorious Church which is to be, is described under the image of an oracle to which all nations shall resort, and which shall be filled with the visible glory of God.

Verse 11

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.

In that day - namely, that of Messiah's advent. Therefore the restoration here foretold cannot be that from Babylon. Nor can it refer to Messiah's first advent, for then Judah was dispersed, not restored. It therefore can only refer to Christ's second coming.

The Lord shall set his hand - take in hand the work.

Again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria. Therefore the coming restoration of the Jews is to be distinct from that after the Babylonian captivity, and yet to resemble it. The first restoration was literal, therefore so shall the second be; the latter, however, it is implied here, shall be much more universal than the former (Isaiah 43:5-23.43.7; Isaiah 49:12; Isaiah 49:17-23.49.18; Ezekiel 37:21; Hosea 3:5; Amos 9:14-30.9.15; Micah 4:6-33.4.7; Zephaniah 3:19-36.3.20; Zechariah 10:10; Jeremiah 23:8).

From Pathros - one of the three divisions of Egypt: Upper Egypt.

Cush - either Ethiopia, south of Egypt, now Abyssinia, or the southern parts of Arabia, along the Red Sea.

Elam - Persia, especially the southern part of it, now called Susiana.

Shinar - Babylonian Mesopotamia, the plain between Euphrates and the Tigris: in it Babel was begun (Genesis 10:10). In the Assyrian inscriptions Rawlinson distinguishes three periods:

(1) The Chaldean, from 2300 BC to 1500, in which falls Chedorlaomer (Genesis 14:1-1.14.24), called in the cuneiform characters Kudur of Hur, or Ur of the Chaldees, and described as the conqueror of Syria. The seat of the first Chaldean empire was in the south, toward the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates.

(2) The Assyrian, down to 625 BC

(3) The Babylonian, from 625 to 538 B.C., when Babylon was taken by the Persian Cyrus.

And from the islands of the sea - the far western regions beyond the sea (Jerome). As to the "remnant" destined by God to survive the judgments on the nation, cf. Jeremiah 46:28, "I will make a full end of all the nations where I have driven thee: but I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure; yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished."

Verse 12

And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners (from the extremities of the four quarters) of the earth - literally, wings of the earth, (Job 37:3, margin.) In the first restoration Judah alone was restored, with perhaps some few of Israel (the Ten tribes): in the future restoration both are expressly specified (Ezekiel 37:16-26.37.19; Jeremiah 3:18). To Israel are ascribed the "outcasts" (masculine, nidcheey (H1760)); to Judah the "dispersed" (feminine, nªputsowt (H5310)), as the former have been longer and more utterly cast-aways (though not finally) than the latter (John 7:35, "the dispersed [ teen (G3588) diasporan (G1290)] among the Gentiles"). The masculine and feminine conjoined express the universality of the restoration.

Verse 13

The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.

Envy also of Ephraim shall depart ... Judah. "The envy" on the part of Ephraim, wherewith they were jealous of any rival in prowess, began as early as the time in Judges 8:1; Judges 12:1, etc. Joshua had sprung from and resided among the Ephraimites (Numbers 13:8; Joshua 19:50). The sanctuary was with them in Shiloh for a long time (Joshua 18:1). The jealousy increased subsequently, when Abner set up Ishbosheth, the son of Saul, to be king of Israel against David, king of Judah (2 Samuel 2:8, etc.; 3:10), and in the rebellions of Absalom and of Sheba, son of Bichri (2 Samuel 19:41; 2 Samuel 20:2). Even before David's time (1 Samuel 11:8; 1 Samuel 15:4) they had appropriated to themselves the national name Israel. It ended in disruption under Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:26, etc.; 12: cf. 2 Kings 14:9; Psalms 78:67-19.78.68).

And the adversaries of Judah - rather, 'the adversaries from Judah;' those of Judah hostile to the Ephraimites (Hengstenberg). So Isaiah 29:19, "the poor among (literally, of) men." The contrast to 'the envy of Ephraim,' namely, against Judah, requires this, as also the parallelism to "Judah shall not vex Ephraim" (Ezekiel 37:15; Ezekiel 37:17; Ezekiel 37:19). The only objection is the rule that if a participle be in the construct state, its genitive is that of the object, not of the subject. But tzoreer is often used of an adversary as a noun; so that as such it can be construed with the genitive of the subject.

Verse 14

But they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west; they shall spoil them of the east together: they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them.

With united forces they shall subdue their foes (Amos 9:12).

They shall fly - as a bird of prey (Habakkuk 1:8).

Upon the shoulders of the Philistines. This expresses an attack made unexpectedly on one from behind. The image is the more apt, as the Hebrew for shoulders in Numbers 34:11 is used also of a maritime coast. The Philistines occupied the narrow strip of seacoast southwest of Judah. They shall make a sudden victorious descent upon their borders southwest of Judea.

They shall spoil them of the east - Hebrew, the children of the East, the Arabs, who, always hostile, are not to be reduced under regular government, but are only to be despoiled (Jeremiah 49:28-24.49.29).

They shall lay their hand upon - take possession of (Daniel 11:42).

Edom - south of Judah, from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea.

Moab - east of Jordan and the Dead Sea.

Ammon - east of Judea, north of Moab, between the Arnon and Jabbok.

Verse 15

And the LORD shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dryshod.

There shall be a second exodus, destined to eclipse even the former one from Egypt in its wonders. So the prophecies elsewhere (Psalms 68:22; Exodus 14:22; Zechariah 10:11). The same deliverance furnishes the imagery by which the return from Babylon is described (Isaiah 48:20-23.48.21).

The Lord shall utterly destroy - literally, devote, or doom with an anathema (Hebrew, hecheriyb (H2717)), i:e., dry up; for what God dooms, perishes (Psalms 106:9; Nahum 1:4).

The tongue of the Egyptian sea - the Buborstic branch of the Nile (Vitringa); but as the Nile was not the obstruction to the exodus, it is rather the western tongue or Heroopolite fork of the Red Sea.

With his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river - such as the "strong east wind" (Exodus 14:21), by which God made a way for Israel through the Red Sea. The Hebrew for "mighty" means terror [ `ªyaam (H5868), akin to 'aayom (H366), terrible, Habakkuk 1:7 ] (Cocceius). Maurer translates, 'with the terribleness of His anger' - i:e., His terrible anger; Hebrew, rucho-literally, His breath, perhaps with the additional idea of anger, as one angry breathes strongly in indignation (Exodus 15:8, "with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together").

And shall smite it in the seven streams - rather, 'shall smite it (divide it by smiting) into seven (many) streams, so as to be easily crossed' (Lowth). So Cyrus divided the river Gyndes, which retarded his march against Babylon, into 360 streams, so that even a woman could cross it (Herodotus, 1: 189). "The river" is the Euphrates, the obstruction to Israel's return "from Assyria" (Isaiah 11:16), a type of all future impediments to the restoration of the Jews.

And make men go over dry-shod - Hebrew, in shoes. Even in sandals they should be able to pass over the once mighty river without being wet. Revelation 16:12 is derived from this passage: "the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared."

Verse 16

And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.

There shall be an highway for the remnant of his people - clear of obstructions (Isaiah 19:23; Isaiah 35:8).

Like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of ... Egypt - (Isaiah 51:10-23.51.11; Isaiah 63:12-23.63.13.)

Remarks: The destruction of the Assyrian's antitype, Antichrist, ushers in the reign of Christ. Beginning as the tender "rod" out of the stock of Jesse, cut down to "the stem," He shall ultimately manifest Himself as Jesse's root, "which shall stand for an ensign of the people." Born of the lowly but royal Virgin, and lodged at His birth in the inn of Bethlehem, He is, on the very ground of His voluntary assumed humiliation, entitled to the highest place of dominion on earth. Not only has He the title, but also the qualifications for reigning as the Father's Representative. The seven-fold fullness of Yahweh's spirit is His without measure, whereas all others get only a particular measure out of that fullness. It not merely is His for a time, but it permanently 'rests' upon Him. Unlike earthly kings and judges, who judge by sight and outward appearance, He sees deeply into the realities of persons and things, so that intuitively and at once He can discern between the good and the bad, the godly and the wicked (Isaiah 11:3).

And as He is infallible in forming His "counsels," so is He almighty in executing them. His reign shall be ushered in by his smiting the apostate earth with the rod of His mouth. The rod of Antichrist, the antitype to the Assyrian, shall be set aside by the rod of Messiah, who "with the breath of His lips shall slay the wicked." The cause of 'the poor and the meek' who shall have suffered under Antichrist shall be vindicated by their Redeemer, who "shall destroy the man of sin with the brightness of His coming." Then shall a blessed day dawn on the heretofore oppressed earth. Righteousness and truth, long set at nought, shall then prevail under His just and benignant sway. The pagan poets' dream of the golden age shall then be a joyful reality. The animal kingdom, which has been 'made subject to vanity' because of man's fall, shall, according to their kind, share in man's redemption from misery. The cause being removed, the effect too shall cease.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 11". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.