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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 24

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.

Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty - "the earth;" not merely the land of Judah, though that land occupies the foreground in the picture (Isaiah 24:3-6; Joel 1:2). For in Isaiah 24:4, "the world" is parallel to, and explanatory of "the earth;" and in Isaiah 24:14-15, "the isles of the sea" are mentioned; and in Isaiah 24:21. "the kings of the earth upon the earth." The desolation of Judah under Nebuchadnezzar pre-figured that under Titus.

Verse 2

And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him.

It shall be, as with the people, so with the priests - all alike shall share the same calamity; no favoured class shall escape.

As with the buyer, so with the seller - (cf. Ezekiel 7:12-13, "The time is come ... let not the buyer rejoice, nor the seller mourn; because wrath is upon all the multitude," etc.; Hosea 4:9; Revelation 6:15.)

Verse 3

The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the LORD hath spoken this word.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 4

The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish.

The world - Hebrew, tebeel, the habitable world; especially here the God-opposed world-power, with all its The world - Hebrew, tebeel, the habitable world; especially here the God-opposed world-power, with all its might; as in Isaiah 13:11, Babylon.

The haughty people of the earth do languish - Merom am haaretz; literally, the height of the people of the earth: abstract for concrete - i:e., the high people; even the nobles share the general distress.

The cause of this universal subverting of the social frame-work.

Verse 5

The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.

The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants - "is defiled," namely, with innocent blood (Genesis 4:11; Numbers 35:33; Psalms 106:38). Instead of "also," translate, with Piscator, For; or with Junius and Tremellius, Even: since this verse gives the reason for the judgment described in Isaiah 24:4. Chaanªpaah (H2610) means, 'has hypocritically transgressed,' as well as "is defiled;" 'has proved false to its religious profession.' It probably points, as the other verbs of the verse, to a great apostasy from an existing covenant or revelation; and such an apostasy from faith our Saviour foretells will fall upon professing Christendom in the last days. The Septuagint rises the same term here as Paul, in foretelling the advent of the wicked or lawless one, (2 Thessalonians 2:1-17) [eenomeese]. So the Chaldaic and Arabic; but the Vulgate as the English version.

They have transgressed the laws ... ordinance ... everlasting covenant. The moral laws, positive statutes, and national covenant, designed to be forever between God and them. Israel literal, and the spiritual Israel, or the whole professing Christian world, are meant.

Verse 6

Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.

Burned - namely, with the consuming wrath of heaven: either internally, as Job 30:30 (Rosenmuller), or externally, the prophet has before his eyes the people being consumed with the withering dryness of their doomed land (so Joel 1:10; Joel 1:12) (Maurer). And ultimately the "flaming fire" of vengeance with which the Lord Jesus shall visit all that obey not the Gospel.

Verse 7

The new wine mourneth, the vine languisheth, all the merryhearted do sigh.

The new wine mourneth - `The new wine is dried up' (ashamed, margin; Joel 1:10).

The vine languisheth - because there are none to cultivate it now. Dissipation, "surfeiting, and drunkenness" shall be characteristic of the latter times, so that the day of the Lord shall come "unawares" (Luke 21:34-35), "as a snare on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth." So it was in the days of Noah before the flood, the type of the last judgment: and Isaiah 24:18, "the windows from on high are open," etc., plainly alludes to the flood in Noah's days.

Verse 8

The mirth of tabrets ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp ceaseth.

(Revelation 18:22.)

Verse 9

They shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it.

They shall not drink wine with a song - the usual accompaniment of feasts.

Strong drink (note, Isaiah 5:11) - Shecar. 'Date wine' (Horsley).

Shall be bitter - in consequence of the national calamities.

Verse 10

The city of confusion is broken down: every house is shut up, that no man may come in.

The city of confusion - what apostate Jerusalem and the world-city, spiritual Babylon, apostate Christendom, would be: by anticipation it is called so. Babel means confusion: the apostate Church, which is spiritual Babylon, is therefore rightly called "The city of confusion," or "emptiness," as the Hebrew, tohu, means. Of the literal Babylon, Isaiah, Isaiah 34:11, saith, the Lord "shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion and the stones of emptiness:" and of the spiritual Babylon, the city of the world, the Lord (Jeremiah 4:23) pronounces the doom, "I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form (confusion or emptiness) and void." Hebrew, tohu vabohu (the same words as in Genesis 1:2): reduced to its primitive chaos.

Every house is shut up - through fear; or rather, choked up by ruins.

Verse 11

There is a crying for wine in the streets; all joy is darkened, the mirth of the land is gone.

(There is) a crying for wine - to drown their sorrows in drink. Joel 1:5, written about the same time, resembles this.

Verse 12

In the city is left desolation, and the gate is smitten with destruction.

The gate is smitten with destruction - `with a great tumult (of the assailants) the gate is battered down' (Horsley). Or else, with a crash.

Verse 13

When thus it shall be in the midst of the land among the people, there shall be as the shaking of an olive tree, and as the gleaning grapes when the vintage is done.

When thus it shall be in the midst of the land. Judea primarily; ultimately the remnant saved from 'the peoples,' or Gentile nations of the earth, is referred to.

Among the people (there shall be) as the shaking of an olive tree. Put the comma after "land," not after "people." 'There shall be among the people (a remnant left) as the shaking (the after-picking) of an olive tree;' as in gathering olives, a few remain on the highest boughs (Isaiah 17:5-6). The Hebrew is 'peoples,' not "people:" haammim.

Verse 14

They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the LORD, they shall cry aloud from the sea.

They - those who are left after the persecutions of Antichrist; the remnant.

Shall sing for the majesty of the Lord - sing a thanksgiving for the goodness of the Lord, who has so mercifully preserved them, (cf. their song of praise, Isaiah 25:1-12.)

From the sea - from the distant lands beyond the sea, where they shall have escaped.

Verse 15

Wherefore glorify ye the LORD in the fires, even the name of the LORD God of Israel in the isles of the sea.

In the fires, [ baa'uriym (H217)]. Vitringa translates, 'in the caves.' Could it mean the fires of affliction? (1 Peter 1:7.) They were exiles at the time. The fires only loose the carnal bonds off the soul, without injuring a hair, as in the case of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Lowth reads, 'in the islands' (Ezekiel 26:18): Hebrew, Baiyim. So the Septuagint But no manuscript supports this. Rather translate, for "fires," 'in the regions of morning light,' 'the lucid region' (Gesenius) - i:e., the East, in antithesis to the "isles of the sea" (the Mediterranean) - i:e., the West. Wheresoever ye be scattered, east or west, still glorify the Lord (Malachi 1:11).

Verse 16

From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous. But I said, My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me! the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously.

From the uttermost part (Hebrew, wing) of the earth have we heard songs - songs to God come in together to Palestine from distant lands, as a grand chorus. When God begins to execute His judgments on the apostate world-city, the faithful remnant who survive amidst the persecutions of Antichrist glorify the God of Israel in anticipation of His approaching interposition for them. Compare Luke 21:28, "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh."

(Even) glory to the righteous. This is the burden of the songs (cf. Isaiah 26:2; Isaiah 26:7). Amidst exile, the loss of their temple, and all that is dear to man, their confidence in God is unshaken. These songs recall the joy of other times, and draw from Jerusalem, in her present calamities, the cry - "my leanness, my leanness" - My reduced condition temporally and spiritually! Horsley translates, 'Glory to the Just One:' then My leanness expresses the Israelite's sense of man's corruption, which led the Jews, "the treacherous dealers" (Jeremiah 5:11), to crucify the Just One; and his deficiency of righteousness, which made him need to be clothed with the righteousness of the Just One. On "leanness," cf. Psalms 106:15.

Treacherous dealers - the foreign nations that oppress Jerusalem and overcame it by stratagem (so in Isaiah 21:2; Isaiah 33:1). But there is an ulterior reference to the last Antichrist's 'corrupting by flatteries' the people of the covenant (Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:30-37). Those who have dealt treacherously as to their covenant with God shall be in just retribution given up to the godless foe, who shall deal treacherously with them.

Verse 17

Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth.

Fear, and the pit, and the snare. This verse explains the wretchedness spoken of in Isaiah 24:16. Jeremiah (Jeremiah 48:43-44) uses the same words. They are proverbial; Isaiah 24:18 expressing that the inhabitants were nowhere safe: if they escaped one danger, they fell into another, and worse, on the opposite side (Amos 5:19.) "Fear" is the term applied to the cords with feathers of all colours which, when fluttered in the air, scare beasts into the pitfall, or birds into the snare. Horsley makes the connection: Indignant of the treatment which the Just One received, the prophet threatens the guilty land with instant vengeance. The ulterior reference seems to me to be to the sudden destruction which 'as a snare shall come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth,'-namely, on the unbelieving world of so-called Christendom (Luke 18:8; Luke 21:35).

Verse 18

And it shall come to pass, that he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake.

Noise of the fear - the shout designed to rouse the game and drive it into the pitfall.

Shall fall into the pit ... for the windows from on high are open - taken from the account of the deluge (Genesis 7:11): the flood-gates. So the final judgments of fire on the apostate world are compared to the deluge (2 Peter 3:5-7).

Verse 19

The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly.

The earth is moved exceedingly - image from an earthquake.

Verse 20

The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.

Removed like a cottage - Hebrew, kamlunaah (H4412), from luwn (H3885), to lodge for the night (note, Isaiah 1:8). Here, a hanging couch, suspended from the trees by cords, such as Niebuhr describes the Arab keepers of lands as having, to enable them to keep watch, and at the same time be secure from wild beasts. Translate, 'Shall wave to and fro (Hebrew, hitnowdªdaah (H5110)) like a hammock' swung about by the wind.

Heavy upon it - like an overwhelming burden.

Not rise again - not meaning that it never would rise (Isaiah 24:23), but in those convulsions it would not rise, it would surely fall.

Verse 21

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.

Host of the high ones - the heavenly host; i:e., either the visible host of heaven (the present economy of nature, affected by the sun, moon, and stars, the objects of idolatry, being abolished in their relation to this earth, Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 60:19, simultaneously with the corrupt polity of men), or rather, the invisible rulers of the darkness of this world (Ephesians 6:12), as the antithesis to "the kings of the earth upon the earth" shows. Angels, good and bad, moreover, preside as it were over kingdoms of the world (Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:20-21). "The kings of the earth" are the confederate anti-Christian kings (Revelation 16:14; Revelation 17:12-14; Revelation 19:19) who shall be 'punished "upon the earth" by the Lord.'

Verse 22

And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.

As prisoners are gathered in the pit - `in the dungeon;' literally, 'upon [ `al (H5921)] the pit' or 'dungeon:' implying that the prisoners are let down from above into it. Image from captives thrust together into a dungeon against the day of judgment being pronounced upon them (cf. Jeremiah 39:5).

In the prison - i:e., as in a prison. This sheds light on the disputed passage, 1 Peter 3:19, where also the prison is figurative. The men of the world just before the flood were shut up in this earth as in a great prison house. They were seemingly at large, but were really, like the fallen angels now on earth, reserved in invisible chains of darkness, against the coming judgment (Jude 1:6). Christ by His Spirit in Noah came and preached to them. So in the latter day here foretold men shall be gathered together on earth as in a sunken dungeon, awaiting the visitation of judgment. The shutting up of the Jews in Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar, and again under Titus, was to be followed by a visitation of judgment. "Visited" is in a bad sense, namely, in wrath, as in Isaiah 26:14: cf. Isaiah 29:6; the punishment being the heavier in consequence of the delay. Perhaps a double visitation is intended-deliverance to the elect, wrath to hardened unbelievers. But Isaiah 24:23 plainly contemplates judgments on proud sinners symbolized by the "sun" and "moon."

Verse 23

Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.

When the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion ... - (Jeremiah 3:17.) Still future: of which Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem amidst hosannas was a pledge.

His ancients - the elders of His people; or in general, His ancient people, the Jews. After the overthrow of the world-kingdoms, Yahweh's shall be set up with a splendour exceeding the light of the sun and moon under the previous order of things (Isaiah 60:19-20).

Remarks: The theme of this chapter is the judgment coming upon the professing Christian world for its unfaithfulness to the covenant. The whole fabric of society, political and religious, including the people and the priest alike, shalt be broken up. The relations of life, according to the present world-course, shall come to an abrupt termination. The cause for the coming judgment shall be the same as in the days of Noah-namely, the apostasy of the men of the earth from the clearest revelation that has ever been vouchsafed to me. Professing Christendom shall have proved false to "the everlasting covenant." Therefore "the earth" being so 'defiled under its inhabitants' (Isaiah 24:5) is doomed to "the curse."

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 24". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/isaiah-24.html. 1871-8.
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