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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Isaiah 27

Verse 1

In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.

At the time when Israel shall be delivered, and the ungodly nations punished, God shall punish also the great enemy of the Church.

Sore - rather, hard, well-tempered (Hebrew, haqaashaah (H7186)).

Shall punish - answering to Isaiah 26:21, "the Lord cometh out of his place to punish ... the earth."

Leviathan - literally, in Arabic, from laawah (H3867), to twist; the twisted animal, applicable to every great tenant of the waters: sea-serpents, crocodiles, etc. In Ezekiel 29:3; Ezekiel 32:2; Daniel 7:1, etc.; Revelation 12:3, etc., potentates hostile to Israel are similarly described; antitypically and ultimately Satan is intended (Revelation 20:10).

Piercing - rigid (Lowth). Fleeing (Maurer and the Septuagint). Long, extended-namely, as the crocodile, which cannot readily bend back its body (Houbigant). Hebrew, baariach (H1281), from baarach (H1272), to flee across, or from side to side. The rapid darting of Satan from one side to another, when foiled on one hand, trying on the other hand to gain his point, seems to me intended, as other terms prove (cf. Job 26:13; 2 Corinthians 11:14, "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light;" 2 Corinthians 2:11).

Crooked - winding or twisting, wriggling himself. His character answers well to his name above, "leviathan," the twister.

The dragon - Hebrew, taniyn (H8577), the crocodile. The Hebrew for "serpent" is nachash (H5175), the generic name.

That (is) in the sea - the Euphrates, or the expansion of it near Babylon.

Verse 2

In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine.

In that day ... - In that day, when leviathan shall be destroyed, the vineyard (Psalms 80:8), the Church of God, purged of its blemishes, shall be lovely in God's eyes. To bring out this sense the better, Lowth, by changing a Hebrew letter, reads pleasant, lovely ( chemed (H2531)), for 'red wine' ( chemer (H2561)). The Septuagint and Arabic seem to have read so: cf. Amos 5:11. But the Hebrew ought not thus rashly to be changed. Sing - a responsive song [ `anuw (H6030)] (Lowth).

Unto her - rather lª-, concerning her (note, Isaiah 5:1); namely, the Jewish state, represented by the vineyard (Maurer).

Verse 3

I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.

Lest any hurt it - Hebrew, 'lest, haply, any visit upon it' (cf. Isaiah 26:14).

Verse 4

Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together.

Fury is not in me - i:e., I entertain no longer anger toward my vine.

Who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? - i:e., would that I had the briers, etc. (the wicked foe: Isaiah 9:18; Isaiah 10:17; 2 Samuel 23:6), before me!

I would go through - literally, 'I would go forward (as an enemy) in them.' My contest is no longer with my vineyard, but with the thorns that have molested it.

Verse 5

Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.

Or - Else; the only alternative if Israel's enemies wish to escape being 'burnt together.'

Let him take hold of my strength - Be-mahuzi, the refuge which I afford (Maurer). "Take hold" refers to the horns of the altar, which fugitives often laid hold of as an asylum (1 Kings 1:50; 1 Kings 2:28). Jesus is God's "strength" or "refuge," which sinners must repair to, and take hold of, if they are to have "peace" with God (Isaiah 45:24; Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:14: cf. Job 22:21).

Verse 6

He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.

He - Yahweh. Here the song of the Lord as to His vineyard (Isaiah 27:2-5) ends; and the prophet confirms the sentiment in the song, under the same image of a vine bearing fruit by His grace (cf. Psalms 92:13-15; Hosea 14:5-6).

Israel shall ... world with fruit - (Romans 11:12.)

Verse 7

Hath he smitten him, as he smote those that smote him? or is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him?

Hath he smitten him, (Israel) as he smote those (enemies) that smote him? - Has God punished His people as severly as He has those enemies whom He employed to chastise Israel? No! far from it. Israel, after trials, He will restore; Israel's enemies He will utterly destroy at last.

(Or) is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him? - rather, 'Is Israel slain according to the slaughter of the enemy's slain?'-the slaughter wherewith the enemy is slain.

Verse 8

In measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it: he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind.

In measure - Hebrew, bªca'cª'aah (H5432), a contraction for bª-ce'ah-ce'ah, 'in measure by measure.' The seah [ ce'ah (H5429)] was one-fourth of a bushel: thus 'seah by seah,' not the whole bushel at once. Not beyond measure-in moderation (Job 23:6; Psalms 6:1; Jeremiah 10:24; Jeremiah 30:11; Jeremiah 46:28).

When it shooteth forth - image from the vine. Rather (Hebrew, bªshalchaah (H7971), from shaalach (H7971), to send), passing from the image to the thing itself, when sending her away (namely, Israel to exile: Isaiah 50:1, God only putting the adulteress away when He might justly have put her to death). Thou wilt debate with it - rather, thou didst punish her. Hebrew, tªriybenaah (H7378), from riyb (H7378), to hold a controversy-to deal with one judicially (Gesenius).

He stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind. So Isaiah 48:9; Psalms 78:38, "He did not stir up all His wrath." Hagah is translated by the Septuagint, Chaldaic, Vulgate, Arabic, and Syriac, 'He meditated:' the common meaning of the Hebrew. There is 'in,' or 'in respect to' [bª-], in the Hebrew, before "His rough wind;" may not the English version sense be retained, by construing, 'He taketh away (so the Hebrew means, Proverbs 25:4-5) in respect to His rough wind,' etc., Piscator translates as margin, '(when) He removed it by His rough wind in the day of the east wind' - i:e., by hostile invasion of the Babylonians and Romans successively, and finally Antichrist. This is the very image in Jeremiah 4:11-12; Jeremiah 18:17. But the insertion of 'when' is gratuitous. If the English version be rejected, I prefer, from the parallelism to Isaiah 27:7, Grotius' views: the contrast in Isaiah 27:7 between God's temporary chastisements of His people and His eternal destruction of their enemies, is continued in this 8th verse. In moderate measure thou didst punish Israel; but He (the change to the third person marks estrangement) removes the enemy (or else, the enemy is removed) by His rough wind in the day of the east wind.

East wind - especially violent in the East (Job 27:21; Jeremiah 18:17).

Verse 9

By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up.

By this - By the exile of Israel (the 'sending away,' Isaiah 27:8); or by the Lord's judicial debating with Israel, in the English version.

Shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged - expiated (Horsley).

And this (is) all the fruit - this is the whole benefit designed to be brought about by the chastisement-namely, the removal of his (Israel's) sin (namely, idolatry, Deuteronomy 9:21; Hosea 10:8).

When he - Yahweh.

Maketh all the stones of the altar as chalk-stones - at the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, His instrument. The Jews ever since have abhorred idolatry (cf. Isaiah 17:8).

The groves and images shall not stand up - shall rise no more (Horsley).

Verse 10

Yet the defenced city shall be desolate, and the habitation forsaken, and left like a wilderness: there shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down, and consume the branches thereof.

The defenced city (shall be) desolate - Jerusalem; the beating asunder of whose altars and images was mentioned in Isaiah 27:9.

There shall the calf feed - (Isaiah 17:2.) It shall be a vast wild pasture.

And consume the branches - resuming the image of the vine (Isaiah 27:2; Isaiah 27:6).

Verse 11

When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off: the women come, and set them on fire: for it is a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no favour.

When the boughs ... broken off - so the unbelieving and consequently cast off Jews are described (Romans 11:17; Romans 11:19-20).

The women come, and set them on fire - burn them as fuel. "Women" are specified, as probably it was their office to collect fuel and kindle the fire for cooking.

For it is a people of no understanding - as to the ways of God (Deuteronomy 32:28-29; Jeremiah 5:21; Hosea 4:6).

Verse 12

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel.

Restoration of the Jews from dispersion, described under the image of fruits shaken from trees and collected.

Beat off - as fruit beaten off a tree with a stick (Deuteronomy 24:20), and then gathered.

River - Euphrates.

Unto the stream of Egypt - on the confines of Palestine and Egypt (Numbers 34:5; Joshua 15:4; Joshua 15:47), now Wady Unto the stream of Egypt - on the confines of Palestine and Egypt (Numbers 34:5; Joshua 15:4; Joshua 15:47), now Wady el-Arisch; Yahweh's vineyard, Israel, extended, according to His purpose, from the Nile to the Euphrates (1 Kings 4:21; 1 Kings 4:24; Psalms 72:8).

Gathered one by one - gathered most carefully, not merely as a nation, but as individuals.

Verse 13

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.

The great trumpet shall be blown - image from the trumpets blown on the first day of the seventh month, to summon the people to a holy convocation (Leviticus 23:24). Antitypically, the Gospel trumpet (Revelation 11:15; Revelation 14:6), which the Jews shall hearken to in the last days (Zechariah 12:1-14:l0; 13:1 ). As the Passover in the first month corresponds to Christ's crucifixion, so the day of atonement and the idea of "salvation," connected with the Feast of Tabernacles in the same seventh month, answers to the crowning of 'redemption' at His second coming. It is in this sense that redemption is put last in 1 Corinthians 1:30.

They shall come which were ... in ... Assyria - where the Ten tribes had been carried: Babylonia is mainly meant, to which Assyria at that time belonged. The two tribes were restored, and some of the Ten accompanied them. However, "Assyria" is designedly used to point ultimately to the future restoration of the Ten tribes fully, which were long ago carried away by the Assyrian-a restoration never yet accomplished (Jeremiah 3:18).

Egypt - where many had fled at the Babylonian captivity (Jeremiah 41:17-18). Compare as to the future restoration, Isaiah 11:11-12; Isaiah 11:16; Isaiah 51:9-16 ('Rahab' being Egypt).

Remarks: Among the last enemies to be destroyed is Satan, "the old serpent." After the beast and the false prophet, though invested with all his energy, shall have been utterly overcome, the judgment of Yahweh falls by righteous consequence on the arch-enemy himself. With all his tortuous, windings and "crooked" devices, he cannot evade the "great and strong sword" of divine justice. His element has been "in the sea" of political and social agitations. But now the Prince of Peace is come, and all must be still. In that day the Church triumphant shall "sing" the thanksgiving hymn of perfected redemption, in honour of Him who 'kept' His vineyard "night and day" from all real and lasting "hurt." The Lord's "fury" shall have then been transferred from Israel, the "vineyard," to the godless foe, the "briers and thorns" which molested it. Now, as yet the alternative is offered to sinners, if they would have "peace" with God, that they should "take hold" of the "strength" of God, that is Jesus Christ.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 27". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.