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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 66

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

Verse 1

Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?

This closing chapter is the summary Isaiah's prophecies as to the last days: hence, the similarity of its sentiments with what went before.

The heaven (is) my throne ... where is the house that ye build unto me? The same sentiment is expressed, as a precautionary proviso for the majesty of God in deigning to own any earthly temple as His, as if He could be circumscribed by space (1 Kings 8:27) in inaugurating the temple of stone; next, as to the temple of the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:48-49 ); lastly here, as to the millennial temple ( Isaiah 2:2-3; Ezekiel 43:4; Ezekiel 43:7).

Where - rather [ 'eey ( H335 )], 'what is this house that ye are building? etc.; what place is this for my rest?' (Vitringa.) So the Vulgate, Septuagynt, Chaldaic, Arabic, and Syriac.

Verse 2

For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

For all those (things) hath mine hand made ... have been - namely, made by me. Or, absolutely, were things made; and therefore belong to me, the Creator (Jerome).

But to this (man) will I look - have regard.

(Even) to (him that is) poor - humble (Isaiah 57:15).

And trembleth at my word - as Josiah did, and was therefore "heard" by the Lord; "because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake" (2 Kings 22:11 ; 2 Kings 22:19 ); and as the people about Ezra did ( Ezra 9:4). The spiritual temple of the heart, though not superseding the outward place of worship, is God's favourite dwelling ( John 14:23). In the final state in heaven there shall be "no temple," but "the Lord God" Himself (Revelation 21:22).

Verse 3

He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.

He that killeth an ox (is as if ) he slew a man. God loathes even the sacrifices of the wicked (Isaiah 1:11; Proverbs 15:8; Proverbs 28:9).

(Is as if). Lowth, not so well, omits these words, 'He that killeth an ox (presently after) murders a man' (as in Ezekiel 23:39). But the omission, in the Hebrew, of is as if increases the force of the comparison. Human victims were often offered by the pagan.

He that sacrificieth a lamb, (as if) he cut off a dog's neck - an abomination according to the Jewish law (Deuteronomy 23:18 ); perhaps made so because dogs were venerated in Egypt. He does not honour this abomination by using the word sacrifice, but uses the degrading term, "cut off a dog's neck" ( Exodus 13:13 ; Exodus 34:20). Dogs, as unclean, are associated with swine ( Matthew 7:6 ; 2 Peter 2:22).

He that offereth an oblation, (as if he offered) swine's blood - unbloody (the minchaah (H4503)), in antithesis to "swine's blood" (Isaiah 65:4).

He that burneth incense (Hebrew, mazkkir, from zakar) - 'he who offereth as a memorial-oblation' ( Leviticus 2:2 ).

(As if) he blessed an idol ... they have chosen their own ways - opposed to the two first clauses of Isaiah 66:4, 'as they have chosen their own ways, etc., so I will choose their delusions.'

Verse 4

I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.

I also will choose their delusions ( 2 Thessalonians 2:11 ) - answering to "their own ways" (Isaiah 66:3 : so Proverbs 1:31 ). However, the Hebrew, ta`ªluwliym ( H8586), from `alal (H5953), to do or devise, may mean vexations, calamities; which also the parallelism to "fears" favours. 'I will choose their calamities' means, I will choose the calamities which they thought to escape by "their own ways." But the Septuagint supports the English version [empaigmata autoon]. So the Vulgate and Syriac. The Chaldaic has 'their destruction.' The sense probably is, "I also will choose," - i:e., by my judicial retribution I will give them up to the penalty of their self-deluding doings which they chose.

And will bring their fears upon them - the things they feared, to avert which their idolatrous "abominations" (Isaiah 66:3 ) were practiced.

Because when I called, none did answer - (notes, Isaiah 65:12; Isaiah 65:24; Jeremiah 7:13.) But they did evil before mine eyes, and chose (that) in which I delighted not - they not only did the evil deed, but did it deliberately as a matter of choice ( Romans 1:32). They "chose that in which I delighted not;" therefore, 'I will choose' that in which they delight not-the "calamities" and "fears" which they were most anxious to avert.

Before mine eyes - (note, Isaiah 65:3.)

Verse 5

Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.

Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word - the same persons as in Isaiah 66:2 - the believing few among the Jews.

Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake - excommunicate, as if too polluted to worship with them ( Isaiah 65:5 ). So in Christ's first sojourn on each ( Matthew 10:22 ; John 9:22 ; John 9:34-35 ; John 16:2 ; John 15:21). So it shall be again in the last times, when the believing shall be few ( Luke 18:8).

Said, Let the Lord be glorified - the mocking challenge of the persecutors, as if their violence toward you was from zeal for God. 'Let the Lord show Himself glorious'-namely, by manifesting Himself in your behalf; as the parallelism to "but he shall appear to your joy" requires, as in Isaiah 5:19. Compare Isaiah 28:15; Isaiah 57:4. So against Christ on the cross (Matthew 27:42-43). "But he shall appear to your joy" - giving you "joy" instead of your "rebuke" ( Isaiah 25:8-9).

Verse 6

A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the LORD that rendereth recompence to his enemies.

A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the Lord that rendereth recompense to his enemies. God, from Jerusalem and His "temple," shall take vengeance on the enemy (Ezekiel 43:1-8; Zechariah 12:2-3; Zechariah 14:3; Zechariah 14:19-21 ). The abrupt language of this verse marks the suddenness with which God destroys the hostile Gentile host outside: as Isaiah 66:5 refers to the confounding of the unbelieving Jews.

Voice of noise - i:e., the Lord's loud-sounding voice ( Psalms 68:33; Psalms 29:3-9; 1 Thessalonians 4:16).

Verse 7

Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child.

She - Zion. Before she travailed, she brought forth. The accession of numbers, and of prosperity, to her, shall be sudden beyond all expectation, and unattended with painful effort (Isaiah 54:1 ; Isaiah 54:4-5 ).

Before her pain came, she was delivered of a man-child. Contrast with this case of the future Jewish Church the travail-pains of the Old Testament and the present Christian Church in bringing forth "a man-child" (Revelation 12:2; Revelation 12:5 ). A man-child's birth is in the East a matter of special joy, while that of a female is not so; therefore, it here means the manly sons of the restored Jewish Church, the singular being used collectively for the plural; or the many sons being regarded as one under Messiah, who shall then be manifested as their one representative Head.

Verse 8

Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.

Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? - rather, to suit the parallelism, 'Is a country (put for the people in it) brought forth ( hªyuwchal (H2342) is therefore masculine, because a country, Hebrew, 'erets ( H776), though feminine, is put for the men in it) in one day?' (Lowth.) In the English version it means, The earth brings forth its productions gradually, not in one day (Mark 4:28).

(Or) shall a nation be born at once? In this case, contrary to the usual growth of the nations by degrees, Israel starts into maturity at once.

For - rather, 'is a nation born at once, that (kiy (H3588)) Zion has, so soon as she travailed, brought forth' (Maurer).

Verse 9

Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God.

Shall I cause to bring forth, and shut (the womb)? - rather, 'shall I who beget restrain the birth?' (Lowth) (Isaiah 37:3 ; Hosea 13:13); i:e., shall I who have begun, not finish my work of restoring Israel? (1 Samuel 3:12; Romans 11:1; Philippians 1:6.)

Shut - (cf. Revelation 3:7-8.)

Verse 10

Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her:

Rejoice ye with Jerusalem ... all ye that love her ... all ye that mourn for her - (Psalms 102:14; Psalms 102:17; Psalms 102:20; Psalms 122:6.)

Verse 11

That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.

That ye may suck - (Isaiah 60:5; Isaiah 60:16; Isaiah 61:6; Isaiah 49:23.)

That ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory (Hebrew, miziyz (H2123 )) - 'the ray-like flow of her opulence;' i:e., with the milk spouting out from her full breasts (answering to the parallel, "breasts of her consolations") in ray-like streams: from ziyz ( H2123), to move itself, to radiate (Gesenius).

Verse 12

For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.

Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river - I will turn peace (prosperity) upon her, like a river turned in its course (Gesenius), so as to flow over her and cover her completely (Isaiah 48:18 ).

And the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream - as the Nile by its overflow fertilizes the whole of Egypt.

Ye shall be borne upon (her) sides, and be dandled upon (her) knees - (note, Isaiah 60:4.)

Her ... her - if "ye" refers to the Jews, translate, 'ye shall be borne upon their sides ... their knees;' namely, upon those of the Gentiles, as in Isaiah 49:22 ; and as "thou shalt suck the milk of the Gentiles" ( Isaiah 60:16) refers to the Jews sucking the Gentile wealth. However, the English version gives a good sense. The Jews, and all the Gentiles who love Yahweh (Isaiah 66:10), 'shall suck, and be borne' by her as a mother.

Verse 13

As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

As one whom his mother comforteth - ( Isaiah 49:15 ).

Comforteth - (Isaiah 40:1-2 .)

Verse 14

And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb: and the hand of the LORD shall be known toward his servants, and his indignation toward his enemies.

Your bones shall flourish like an herb. "Your bones," which once were "dried up" by the "fire" of God's wrath (Lamentations 1:13 ), shall live again, (Proverbs 3:8 ; Proverbs 15:30 ; Ezekiel 37:1 , etc.)

Flourish like an herb - when they shall "be graffed into their own olive tree" (Romans 11:15-24 .)

And the hand of the Lord shall be known toward his servants - manifested in behalf of them.

Verse 15

For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.

Behold, the Lord will come with fire - ( Isaiah 9:5 ; Psalms 50:3 ; Habakkuk 3:5 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:8 ; 2 Peter 3:7 .)

Chariots like a whirlwind - (Jeremiah 4:13.)

To render his anger with fury - as the Hebrew, lªhashiyb (H7725) ... 'apow ( H639 ), elsewhere (Job 9:13 ; Psalms 78:38 ) means, to allay or stay wrath. Maurer translates it so here: He stays His anger with nothing but fury, etc.: nothing short of pouring out all His fiery fury will satisfy His wrath. However, the Septuagint [apodounai ekdikeesin autou], Vulgate [reddere furorem suum], Chaldaic, Arabic, and Syriac support the English version.

Fury - `burning heat' (Lowth), to which the parallel, "flames of fire," answer.

Verse 16

For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.

For by fire, and by his sword, will the Lord plead with all flesh - `With fire will Yahweh decide the issue (nishpaaT ( H8199 )), and with His sword (He will decide the issue with) all flesh.' The parallelism and collocation of the Hebrew words require this translation ( Isaiah 65:12 ). All flesh - i:e., all who are the objects of His wrath. The godly shall be hidden by the Lord in a place of safety, away from the scene of judgment ( Isaiah 26:20-21 ; Psalms 31:20; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

Verse 17

They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD.

They that sanctify themselves ... in the gardens - the Hebrew ( 'el ( H413) haganowt ( H1593 )) and the Septuagint [eis tous keepous] require, 'for (entering into) gardens;' namely, to sacrifice there (Maurer). The Vulgate, Chaldaic Arabic, and Syriac support the English version.

Behind one (tree) in the midst - rather, 'following one:' 'achar (H310) (the same as 'achªreey) 'achat (H259); i:e., some idol or other, which, from contempt, he does not name (Maurer). Vitringa, etc. think the Hebrew for "one," Achad, to be the name of the god: called Adad (meaning One) in Syria (cf. Acts 17:23, "To the Unknown God.") The Supreme God (Macrobius, 'Saturnal.' 1: 23). The idol's power was represented by inclined rays, as of the sun shining on the earth. Gesenius translates, 'following one'-namely, Hierophant (priest) - who led the rest in performing the sacred rites.

In the midst - namely, of the garden (cf. notes, Isaiah 65:3-4 ).

Eating ... the mouse - legally unclean (Leviticus 11:29), because it was an idol to the pagan (see note, Isaiah 37:36; 1 Samuel 6:4 ). Translate, 'the field-mouse,' or 'dormouse' (Bochart.) The Pharisees, with their self-righteous purifications, and all mere formalists, are included in the same condemnation, described in language taken from the idolatries prevalent in Isaiah's times.

Verse 18

For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory.

For I (knew) - know is not in the Hebrew. Rather, understand the words by Aposiopesis: it is usual in threats to leave the persons threatened to supply the hiatus from their own fears, owing to conscious guilt: 'For I ... their works and thoughts'-namely, will punish (Maurer.)

It shall come that I will - the time is come that I will, etc.

Gather all nations - against Jerusalem where the ungodly Jews shall perish; and then the Lord at last shall Gather all nations - against Jerusalem, where the ungodly Jews shall perish; and then the Lord at last shall fight for Jerusalem against those nation; and the survivors (Isaiah 66:19) shall "see God's glory" (Zechariah 12:8-9; Zechariah 14:1-3; Zechariah 14:9).

And tongues - which have been many, owing to sin, being confounded at Babel, but which shall again be one in Christ (Daniel 7:14; Zephaniah 3:9; Revelation 7:9-10).

Verse 19

And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.

Set a sign among them - a banner on a high place, to indicate the place of meeting for the dispersed Jewish exiles, preparatory to their return to their land (Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 11:12; Isaiah 62:10).

Those that escape of them - the Gentile survivors spared by God (note, Isaiah 66:18; Zechariah 14:16 ) shall act as missionaries to their several nations. Isaiah 2:2-3; Micah 5:7; and Zechariah 14:16-19, represent it, not that the Jews go as missionaries to the Gentiles, but that the Gentiles come up to Jerusalem to learn the Lord's ways there. However, the latter fact may presuppose the former, the Gentile homage to Zion's King at Jerusalem resulting from the conversion of the Gentiles through Jewish agents, as well as through missionaries of their own several Gentile countrymen. Indeed, only deputy-representatives of the many Gentile nations could in person attend at Jerusalem.

To Tarshish - Tartessus in Spain, in the West. Another Tarshish in the Indian Ocean, accessible from the Red Sea, must be meant in 1 Kings 9:26 ; 1 Kings 22:48 ; 2 Chronicles 9:21 ; 2 Chronicles 20:36. Sir Emerson Tennent thinks it was Point de Galle in Ceylon, the emporium of those seas for three centuries past.

Pul - east and north of Africa; probably the same as Philoe, an island in the Nile, called by the Egyptians Pilak - i:e., the border country, being between Egypt and Ethiopia (Bochart). The Septuagint read Phud: and this, or Phut, is probably the true reading here, as Pul occurs nowhere else. Compare Nahum 3:9, "Ethiopia and Egypt ... Put and Lubim." From the connection it is plain that an African people near Egypt is meant (cf. Ezekiel 27:10; Ezekiel 30:5; Ezekiel 38:5 ) - perhaps Libya. The people described in the monuments as the Nine Bows (Petu, or Napetu) may answer to Phut; or else Topet or Nubia, the region of the bow.

Lud - the Ludian of Africa: a Mizraite tribe west of Egypt ( Genesis 10:13; 1 Chronicles 1:11); Ludim being son of Mizraim (Egypt): an Ethiopian people famous as bowmen ( Jeremiah 46:9); employed as mercenaries by Tyre and Egypt (Ezekiel 27:10; Ezekiel 30:5). There was also a Shemite or Semitic Lud (Genesis 10:22; 1 Chronicles 1:17 ), whence came the Lydians of Asia Minor. The Egyptian monuments show us, in the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries B.C. a people, the 'Ruten,' or 'Luden,' near Mesopotamia; whence they passed on into Asia Minor.

Tubal - Tibarenians, in Asia Minor, south of the Caucasus, between the Black Sea and Araxes. Or, the Iberians-namely, those between the Caspian and Euxine seas, the modern Georgia (Josephus). Italy (Jerome). The Vulgate and Chaldaic: who also translate for "Pul," Africa. The Moschi are associated with them in the Bible: so also in the Assyrian inscriptions they were a widespread Turanian people. Javan - the Greeks; called Ionians, including all the descendants of Javan both in Greece and in Asia Minor (Genesis 10:2-4 ). Tubal and Javan were sons of Japhet.

And they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles - ( Malachi 1:11.)

Verse 20

And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD.

And they - the Gentiles (Isaiah 66:19 ).

Shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord, out of all nations, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules. The Gentiles shall bring the Jews back to the Holy land ( Isaiah 49:22 ). It cannot mean the mere entrance of the Jews into the Christian Church; for such an entrance would be by faith, not upon 'horses, litters, and mules' (Houbigant). "Offering" is a sacrificial metaphor, as in Romans 15:16.

Horses - not much used by the Jews. The Gentiles are here represented as using their modes of conveyance to "bring" the Jews to Jerusalem.

Chariots. As these are not found in Oriental caravans, translate 'vehicles'-namely, borne, not drawn on wheels.

Litters - covered sedans for the rich.

And upon swift beasts - courier's beasts: dromedaries: kirkaarowt (H3753), from a Hebrew root, kaarar ( H3769), to leap, to bound; from their bounding motion, often accelerated by music. (Bochart). Panniers were thrown across the dromedaries' back for poorer women (Horsley).

Verse 21

And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the LORD.

And I will also take of them - the Gentiles.

For priests, (and) for Levites - for spiritual worship; enjoying the direct access to God, which was formerly enjoyed by the ministers of the temple alone (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6).

Verse 22

For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.

For as the new heavens, and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me ... - (Isaiah 65:17-18; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1.)

Verse 23

And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.

From one new moon to another - literally, 'as often as the new moon (shall be) in its own new moon;' i:e., in its own time every month ( Zechariah 14:16).

And from one sabbath to another - which is therefore perpetually obligatory on earth.

Shall all flesh come to worship - (Psalms 65:2; Psalms 72:11.)

Before me - at Jerusalem (Jeremiah 3:16-17 ).

Verse 24

And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire

And they shall go forth, and look - as the Israelites looked at the carcasses of the Egyptians destroyed at the Red Sea ( Exodus 14:30 : cf. Isaiah 26:14-19 ; Psalms 58:10 ; Psalms 49:14 ; Malachi 4:1-3 ).

Upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me ( Isaiah 66:16) - those slain by the Lord in the last great battle near Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2-9; Zechariah 14:2-4): type of the final destruction of all sinners.

For their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched (Mark 9:44; Mark 9:46; Mark 9:48) - image of hell, from bodies left unburied in the valley of Hinnom (whence comes Gehenna, or hell, south of Jerusalem), where a perpetual fire was kept to consume the refuse thrown there ( Isaiah 30:33). It shall not be inconsistent with true love for the godly to look with satisfaction on God's vengeance on the wicked (Revelation 14:10). The godly shall then be, in holy abhorrence of sin and jealousy for the vindication of God's justice, entirely of one mind with God (1 Samuel 16:1). This constitutes their unity and fellowship with God ( John 17:21 ; John 17:23 ).

Remarks: Man can build no temple so acceptable to God as is the 'contrite spirit that trembleth at His Word.' All other temples of man's erection are merely provisional, during our present imperfect state, until the heavenly city descend from God, wherein there shall be no temple; but "the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." Formalism, and scrupulous observance of outward ordinances, will be of no avail to those 'who choose their own' corrupt "ways," rather than the Lord's holy ways. He will repay such men in kind; He too will "choose" to give them up to their "delusions," even as they 'chose that in which He delighted not.' On the other hand, they who "tremble" reverently, with filial love and fear, at 'God's Word,' and who have been therefore hated, mocked, and cast out for the Lord's sake, shall see Him soon appearing, to their joy, and to the confusion of their adversaries.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 66". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/isaiah-66.html. 1871-8.
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