free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!
After the people have poured out their heart before Jehovah, He announces what they may expect from Him. But instead of commencing with a promise, as we might anticipate after the foregoing prayer, He begins with reproach and threatening; for although the penitential portion of the community had included the whole nation in their prayer, it was destruction, and not deliverance, which awaited one portion of the nation, and that portion was the greater one. The great mass were in that state of “sin unto death” which defies all intercession (1 John 5:16), because they had so scornfully and obstinately resisted the grace which had been so long and so incessantly offered to them. “I was discernible to those who did not inquire, discoverable by those who did not seek me. I said, 'Here am I, here am I,' to a nation where my name was not called. I spread out my hands all the day to a refractory people, who walked in the way that was not good, after their own thoughts.” The lxx (A) render Isaiah 65:1, “I was found by those who did not seek me, I became manifest to those who did not ask for me” (B reverses the order); and in Romans 10:20-21, Paul refers Isaiah 65:1 to the Gentiles, and Isaiah 65:2 to Israel. The former, to whom He has hitherto been strange, enter into fellowship with Him; whilst the latter, to whom He has constantly offered Himself, thrust Him away, and lose His fellowship. Luther accordingly adopts this rendering: “I shall be sought by those who did not ask for me, I shall be found by those who did not seek me. And to the heathen who did not call upon my name, I say, Here am I, here am I.” Zwingli, again, observes on Isaiah 65:1, “This is an irresistible testimony to the adoption of the Gentiles.” Calvin also follows the apostle's exposition, and observes, that “Paul argues boldly for the calling of the Gentiles on the ground of this passage, and says that Isaiah dared to proclaim and assert that the Gentiles had been called by God, because he announced a greater thing, and announced it more clearly than the reason of those times would bear.” Of all the Jewish expositors, where is only one, viz., Gecatilia, who refers v. 1 to the Gentiles; and of all the Christina expositors of modern times, there is only one, viz., Hendewerk, who interprets it in this way, without having been influenced by the quotation made by Paul. Hofman, however, and Stier, feel obliged to follow the apostle's exposition, and endeavour to vindicate it. But we have no sympathy with any such untenable efforts to save the apostle's honour. In Romans 9:25-26, he also quotes Hosea 2:23 and Hosea 2:1 in support of the calling of the Gentiles; whereas he could not have failed to know, that it is the restoration of Israel to favour which is alluded to there. He merely appeals to Hos 2 in support of the New Testament fact of the calling of the Gentiles, so far as it is in these words of the Old Testament prophet that the fact is most adequately expressed. And according to 1 Peter 2:10, Peter received the same impression from Hosea's words.
But with the passage before us it is very different. The apostle shows, by the way in which he applies the Scripture, how he depended in this instance upon the Septuagint translation, which was in his own hands and those of his readers also, and by which the allusion to the Gentiles is naturally suggested, even if not actually demanded. And we may also assume that the apostle himself understood the Hebrew text, with which he, the pupil of Rabban Gamaliel, was of course well acquainted, in the same sense, viz., as relating to the calling of the Gentiles, without being therefore legally bound to adopt the same interpretation. The interchange of גּוי (cf., Isaiah 55:5) and עם ; the attribute בשׁי ם קרא לא , which applies to heathen, and heathen only; the possibility of interpreting Isaiah 65:1-2, in harmony with the context both before and after, if Isaiah 65:1 be taken as referring to the Gentiles, on the supposition that Jehovah is here contrasting His success with the Gentiles and His failure with Israel: all these certainly throw weight into the scale. Nevertheless they are not decisive, if we look at the Hebrew alone, apart altogether from the lxx. For nidrashtı̄ does not mean “I have become manifest;” but, regarded as the so-called niphal tolerativum (according to Ezekiel 14:3; Ezekiel 20:3, Ezekiel 20:31; Ezekiel 36:37), “I permitted myself to be explored or found out;” and consequently נמצאתי , according to Isaiah 55:6, “I let myself be found.” And so explained, Isaiah 65:1 stands in a parallel relation to Isaiah 55:6: Jehovah was searchable, was discoverable (cf., Zephaniah 1:6) to those who asked no questions, and did not seek Him ( ללוא לא לאשׁר , Ges. §123, 3), i.e., He displayed to Israel the fulness of His nature and the possibility of His fellowship, although they did not bestir themselves or trouble themselves in the least about Him - a view which is confirmed by the fact that Isaiah 65:1 merely refers to offers made to them, and not to results of any kind. Israel, however, is called בשׁמי אל־קרא גוי , not as a nation that was not called by Jehovah's name (which would be expressed by נקרא , Isaiah 43:7; cf., מקראי , κλητός μου , Isaiah 48:12), but as a nation where (supply 'ăsher ) Jehovah's name was not invoked (lxx “who called not upon my name”), and therefore as a thoroughly heathenish nation; for which reason we have gōi (lxx ἔθνος ) here, and not ‛am (lxx λαός ). Israel was estranged from Him, just like the heathen; but He still turned towards them with infinite patience, and (as is added in Isaiah 65:2) with ever open arms of love. He spread out His hands (as a man does to draw another towards him to embrace him) all the day (i.e., continually, cf., Isaiah 28:24) towards an obstinate people, who walked in the way that was not good (cf., Psalms 36:5; Proverbs 16:29; here with the article, which could not be repeated with the adjective, because of the לא ), behind their own thoughts. That which led them, and which they followed, was not the will of God, but selfish views and purposes, according to their won hearts' lusts; and yet Jehovah did not let them alone, but they were the constant thought and object of His love, which was ever seeking, alluring, and longing for their salvation.
But through this obstinate and unyielding rejection of His love they have excited wrath, which, though long and patiently suppressed, now bursts forth with irresistible violence. “The people that continually provoketh me by defying me to my face, sacrificing in the gardens, and burning incense upon the tiles; who sit in the graves, and spend the night in closed places; to eat the flesh of swine, and broken pieces of abominations is in their dishes; who say, Stop! come not too near me; for I am holy to thee: they are a smoke in my nose, a fire blazing continually.” אלּה (these) in Isaiah 65:5 is retrospective, summing up the subject as described in Isaiah 65:3-5, and what follows in Isaiah 65:5 contains the predicate. The heathenish practices of the exiles are here depicted, and in Isaiah 65:7 they are expressly distinguished from those of their fathers. Hence there is something so peculiar in the description, that we look in vain for parallels among those connected with the idolatry of the Israelites before the time of the captivity. There is only one point of resemblance, viz., the allusion to gardens as places of worship, which only occurs in the book of Isaiah, and in which our passage, together with Isaiah 57:5 and Isaiah 66:17, strikingly coincides with Isaiah 1:29. “Upon my face” ( ‛al - pânai ) is equivalent to “freely and openly, without being ashamed of me, or fearing me;” cf., Job 1:11; Job 6:28; Job 21:31. “Burning incense upon the bricks” carries us to Babylonia, the true home of the cocti lateres ( laterculi ). The thorah only mentions l e bhēnı̄m in connection with Babylonian and Egyptian buildings. The only altars that it allows are altars of earth thrown up, or of unhewn stones and wooden beams with a brazen covering. “They who sit in the graves,” according to Vitringa, are they who sacrifice to the dead. He refers to the Greek and Roman inferiae and februationes , or expiations for the dead, as probably originating in the East. Sacrifices for the dead were offered, in fact, not only in India and Persia, but also in Hither Asia among the Ssabians, and therefore probably in ancient Mesopotamia and Babylonia. But were they offered in the graves themselves, as we must assume from בּקּברים (not על־קברים )? Nothing at all is known of this, and Böttcher ( de inferis , §234) is correct in rendering it “among ( inter ) the graves,” and supposing the object to be to hold intercourse there with the dead and with demons. The next point, viz., passing the night in closed places (i.e., places not accessible to every one: n e tsūrı̄m , c ustodita = c lausa , like n e ‛ı̄mı̄m , amaena ), may refer to the mysteries celebrated in natural caves and artificial crypts (on the mysteries of the Ssabians, see Chwolsohn, Die Ssabier u. der Ssabismus, ii. 332ff.). But the lxx and Syriac render it ἐν τοῖς σπηλαίοις κοιμῶνται δι ̓ἐνύπνια , evidently understanding it to refer to the so-called incubare , ἐγκοιμᾶσθαι ; and so Jerome explains it. “In the temples of idols,” he says, “where they were accustomed to lie upon the skins of the victims stretched upon the ground, to gather future events from their dreams.” The expression ubhann e tsūrı̄m points not so much to open temples, as to inaccessible caves or subterraneous places. G. Rawlinson ( Monarchies, ii. 269) mentions the discovery of “clay idols in holes below the pavement of palaces.” From the next charge, “who eat there the flesh of the swine,” we may infer that the Babylonians offered swine in sacrifice, if not as a common thing, yet like the Egyptians and other heathen, and ate their flesh (“the flesh taken from the sacrifice,” 2 Macc. 6:21); whereas among the later Ssabians (Harranians) the swine was not regarded as either edible or fit for sacrifice.
On the synecdochical character of the sentence כּליהם פּגּלים וּפרק , see at Isaiah 5:12, cf., Jeremiah 24:2. Knobel's explanation, “pieces” (but it is not וּפרקי ) “of abominations are their vessels, i.e., those of their ἱεροσκοπία ,” is a needless innovation. פּגּוּל signifies a stench, putrefaction (Ezekiel 4:14, b e sar piggūl ), then in a concrete sense anything corrupt or inedible, a thing to be abhorred according to the laws of food or the law generally (syn. פּסּוּל פּצוּל ); and when connected with פרק ( chethib), which bears the same relation to מרק as crumbs or pieces (from פּרק , to crumble) to broth (from מתק , to rub off or scald off), it means a decoction, or broth made either of such kinds of flesh or such parts of the body as were forbidden by the law. The context also points to such heathen sacrifices and sacrificial meals as were altogether at variance with the Mosaic law. For the five following words proceed from the mouths of persons who fancy that they have derived a high degree of sanctity either from the mysteries, or from their participation in rites of peculiar sacredness, so that to every one who abstains from such rites, or does not enter so deeply into them as they do themselves, they call out their “ odi profanum vulgus et arceo .” אלי ך קרב , keep near to thyself, i.e., stay where you are, like the Arabic idhab ileika , go away to thyself, for take thyself off. על־תּגּשׁ־בּי (according to some MSS with m ercha tifchah ), do not push against me (equivalent to גּשׁ־הלאה or גּשׁה־ל ך , get away, make room; Genesis 19:9; Isaiah 49:20), for q e dashtikhâ , I am holy to thee, i.e., unapproachable. The verbal suffix is used for the dative, as in Isaiah 44:21 (Ges. §121, 4), for it never occurred to any of the Jewish expositors (all of whom give sanctus prae te as a gloss ) that the kal qâdash was used in a transitive sense, like c hâzaq in Jeremiah 20:7, as Luther, Calvin, and even Hitzig suppose. Nor is the exclamation the well-meant warning against the communication of a burdensome q e dusshâh , which had to be removed by washing before a man could proceed to the duties of every-day life (such, for example, as the q e dusshâh of the man who had touched the flesh of a sin-offering, or bee sprinkled with the blood of a sin-offering; Leviticus 6:20, cf., Ezekiel 44:19; Ezekiel 46:20). It is rather a proud demand to respect the sacro-sanctus , and not to draw down the chastisement of the gods by the want of reverential awe. After this elaborate picture, the men who are so degenerate receive their fitting predicate. They are fuel for the wrath of God, which manifests itself, as it were, in smoking breath. This does not now need for the first time to seize upon them; but they are already in the midst of the fire of wrath, and are burning there in inextinguishable flame.
The justice of God will not rest till it has procured for itself the fullest satisfaction. “Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence without having recompensed, and I will recompense into their bosom. Your offences, and the offences of your fathers together, saith Jehovah, that they have burned incense upon the mountains, and insulted me upon the hills, and I measure their reward first of all into their bosom.” Vitringa has been misled by such passages as Isaiah 10:1; Job 13:26; Jeremiah 22:30, in which kâthabh ( kittēbh ) is used to signify a written decree, and understands by kh e thūbhâh the sentence pronounced by God; but the reference really is to their idolatrous conduct and contemptuous defiance of the laws of God. This is ever before Him, written in indelible characters, waiting for the day of vengeance; for, according to the figurative language of Scripture, there are heavenly books, in which the good and evil works of men are entered. And this agrees with what follows: “I will not be silent, without having first repaid,” etc. The accentuation very properly places the tone upon the penultimate of the first shillamtı̄ as being a pure perfect, and upon the last syllable of the second as a perf. consec. אם כּי preceded by a future and followed by a perfect signifies, “but if (without having) first,” etc. (Isaiah 55:10; Genesis 32:27; Leviticus 22:6; Ruth 3:18; cf., Judges 15:7). The original train of thought was, “I will not keep silence, for I shall first of all keep silence when,” etc. Instead of ‛al c hēqâm , “Upon their bosom,” we might have 'el c hēqâm , into their bosom, as in Jeremiah 32:18; Psalms 79:12. In Isaiah 65:7 the keri really has 'el instead of ‛al , whilst in Isaiah 65:9 the chethib is ‛al without any keri (for the figure itself, compare Luke 6:38, “into your bosom”). The thing to be repaid follows in Isaiah 65:7; it is not governed, however, by shillamtı̄ , as the form of the address clearly shows, but by 'ăshallēm understood, which may easily be supplied. Whether 'ăsher is to be taken in the sense of qui or quod (that), it is hardly possible to decide; but the construction of the sentence favours the latter. Sacrificing “upon mountains and hills” (and, what is omitted, here, “under every green tree”) is the well-known standing phrase used to describe the idolatry of the times preceding the captivity (cf., Isaiah 57:7; Hosea 4:13; Ezekiel 6:13). וּמדּתי points back to v e shillamtı̄ in Isaiah 65:6, after the object has been more precisely defined. Most of the modern expositors take ראשׁנה פעלּתם together, in the sense of “their former wages,” i.e., the recompense previously deserved by their fathers. But in this case the concluding clause would only affirm, by the side of Isaiah 65:7, that the sins of the fathers would be visited upon them. Moreover, this explanation has not only the accents against it, but also the parallel in Jeremiah 16:18 (see Hitzig), which evidently stands in a reciprocal relation to the passage before us. Consequently ri'shōnâh must be an adverb, and the meaning evidently is, that the first thing which Jehovah had to do by virtue of His holiness was to punish the sins of the apostate Israelites; and He would so punish them that inasmuch as the sins of the children were merely the continuation of the fathers' sins, the punishment would be measured out according to the desert of both together.
As the word ri'shōnâh (first of all) has clearly intimated that the work of the future will not all consist in the execution of penal justice, there is no abruptness in the transition from threatening to promises. “Thus saith Jehovah, As when the must is found in the cluster, men say, Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing within it, so will I do for the sake of my servants, that I may not destroy the whole. And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and an heir of my mountains out of Judah, and my chosen ones shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.” Of the two co-ordinate clauses of the protasis ( Isaiah 65:8), the first contains the necessary condition of the second. Hattı̄rōsh (must, or the juice of the grapes, from yârash , possibly primarily nothing more than receipt, or the produce of labour) and bâ'eshkōl have both of them the article generally found in comparisons (Ges. §109, Anm. 1); ואמר signifies, as in Isaiah 45:24, “men say,” with the most general and indefinite subject. As men to not destroy a juicy cluster of grapes, because they would thereby destroy the blessing of God which it contains; so will Jehovah for His servants' sake not utterly destroy Israel, but preserve those who are the clusters in the vineyard (Isaiah 3:14; Isaiah 5:1-7) or upon the vine (Psalms 80:9.) of Israel. He will not destroy hakkōl , the whole without exception; that is to say, keeping to the figure, not “the juice with the skin and stalk,” as Knobel and Hahn explain it, but “the particular clusters in which juice is contained, along with the degenerate neglected vineyard or vine, which bears for the most part only sour grapes (Isaiah 5:4) or tendrils without fruit (cf., Isaiah 18:5). The servants of Jehovah, who resemble these clusters, remain preserved. Jehovah brings out, causes to go forth, calls to the light of day ( הוצי ) as in Isaiah 54:16; here, however, it is by means of sifting: Ezekiel 20:34.), out of Jacob and Judah, i.e., the people of the two captivities (see Isaiah 56:3), a seed, a family, that takes possession of His mountains, i.e., His holy mountain-land (Isaiah 14:25, cf., Psalms 121:1, and har qodshı̄ , which is used in the same sense in Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 65:25). As “my mountain” is equivalent in sense to the “land of Israel,” for which Ezekiel is fond of saying “the mountains of Israel” (e.g., Isaiah 6:2-3), the promise proceeds still further to say, “and my chosen ones will take possession thereof” (viz., of the land, Isaiah 60:21, cf., Isaiah 8:21).
From west to east, i.e., in its whole extent, the land then presents the aspect of prosperous peace. “And the plain of Sharon becomes a meadow for flocks, and the valley of Achor a resting-place for oxen, for my people that asketh for me.” Hasshârōn (Sharon) is the plain of rich pasture-land which stretches along the coast of the Mediterranean from Yafo to the neighbourhood of Carmel. ‛Emeq ‛Akhōr is a valley which became renowned through the stoning of Achan, in a range of hills running through the plain of Jericho (see Keil on Joshua 7:24.). From the one to the other will the wealth in flocks extend, and in the one as well as in the other will that peace prevail which is now enjoyed by the people of Jehovah, who inquired for Him in the time of suffering, and therefore bear this name in truth. The idyllic picture of peace is thoroughly characteristic of Isaiah: see, for example, Isaiah 32:20; and for rēbhets with nâveh , compare Isaiah 35:7.
The prophecy now turns again to those already indicated and threatened in Isaiah 65:1-7. “And ye, who are enemies to Jehovah, O ye that are unmindful of my holy mountain, who prepare a table for Gad, and fill up mixed drink for the goddess of destiny - I have destined you to the sword, and ye will all bow down to the slaughter, because I have called and ye have not replied, I have spoken and ye have not heard; and ye did evil in mine eyes, and ye chose that which I did not like.” It may be taken for granted as a thing generally admitted, that Isaiah 65:11 refers to two deities, and to the lectisternia (meals of the gods, cf., Jeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 51:44) held in their honour. שׁלחן ער ך is the other side of the lectum sternere , i.e., the spreading of the cushions upon which the images of the gods were placed during such meals of the gods as these. In the passage before us, at any rate, the lectus answering to the shulchân (like the sella used in the case of the goddesses) is to be taken as a couch for eating, not for sleeping on. In the second clause, therefore, ממס ך למני והממלאי ם (which is falsely accentuated in our editions with tifchah m ercha silluk, instead of m ercha tifchah silluk), ממסך מלּא signifies to fill with mixed drink, i.e., with wine mixed with spices, probably oil of spikenard. מלּא may be connected not only with the accusative of the vessel filled, but also with that of the thing with which it is filled (e.g., Exodus 28:17). Both names have the article, like הבּעל הגּד is perfectly clear; if used as an appellative, it would mean “good fortune.” The word has this meaning in all the three leading Semitic dialects, and it also occurs in this sense in Genesis 30:11, where the chethib is to be read בּגד (lxx ἐν τύχῃ ). The Aramaean definitive is גּדּא (not גּדא ), as the Arabic 'gadd evidently shows. The primary word is גּדד (Arab. 'gadda ), to cut off, to apportion; so that Arab. jaddun , like the synonymous ḥaḍḍun , signifies that which is appointed, more especially the good fortune appointed. There can be no doubt, therefore, that Gad, the god of good fortune, more especially if the name of the place Baal - Gad is to be explained in the same way as Baal - hammân, is Baal ( Bel ) as the god of good fortune. Gecatilia ( Mose ha-Cohen ) observes, that this is the deified planet Jupiter. This star is called by the Arabs “the greater luck” as being the star of good fortune; and in all probability it is also the rabb - el - bacht (lord of good fortune) worshipped by the Ssabians (Chwolsohn, ii. 30, 32). It is true that it is only from the passage before us that we learn that it was worshipped by the Babylonians; for although H. Rawlinson once thought that he had found the names Gad and Menni in certain Babylonian inscriptions ( Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, xii. p. 478), the Babylonian Pantheon in G. Rawlinson's Monarchies contains neither of these names. With this want of corroborative testimony, the fact is worthy of notice, that a Rabbi named 'Ulla, who sprang from Babylon, explains the דרגשׁ of the Mishna by דגדא ערסא (a sofa dedicated to the god of prosperity, and often left unused) (b. Nedarim 56 a; cf., Sanhedrin 20 a).
(Note: The foreign formula of incantation given in b. Sabbath 67 a, ובושכי עושדי ל וסינוק ידג דג (according to the glosses, “O Fortune, give good fortune, and be not tardy day and night”), also belongs here; whereas the name of a place not far from Siloah, called Gad - yavan (Gad of Greece), contains some allusion to the mythology of Greece, which we are unable to trace. In the later usage of the language Gad appears to have acquired the general meaning of numen (e.g., b. Chullin 40 a; דהר גד , the mountain-spirit); and this helps to explain the fact that in Pehlewi גדמן signifies majesty in a royal, titular sense (see Vuller's Lex.; and Spiegel in the Indische Studien, 3, 412).)
But if Gad is Jupiter, nothing is more probable than that Meni is Venus; for the planet Venus is also regarded as a star of prosperity, and is called by the Arabs “the lesser luck.” The name Meni in itself, indeed, does not necessarily point to a female deity; for m e ni from m ânâh , if taken as a passive participial noun (like גּרי בּריה , a creature), signifies “that which is apportioned;” or if taken as a modification of the primary form many, like גּדי טלי צבי , and many others, allotment, destination, fate. We have synonyms in the Arabic mana - n and meniye , and the Persian bacht (adopted into the Arabic), which signify the general fate, and from which bago - bacht is distinguished as signifying that which is exceptionally allotted by the gods. The existence of a deity of this name m e ni is also probably confirmed by the occurrence of the personal name עבדמני on certain Aramaeo-Persian coins of the Achaemenides,
(Note: See Rödiger in the concluding part of the thes. p. 97.)
with which Fürst associates the personal name Achiman (see his Lex.), combining מן with Μήν , and מני with Μήνη , as Movers ( Phönizier, i. 650) and Knobel have also done. מן and מני would then be Semitic forms of these Indo-Germanic names of deities; for Μήν is Deus Lunus, the worship of which in Carrae ( Charran) is mentioned by Spartian in chapter vi. of the Life of Caracalla, whilst Strabo (xii. 3, 31, 32) speaks of it as being worshipped in Pontus, Phrygia, and other places; and Μήνη is Dea Luna (cf., Γενείτη Μάνη in Plut. quaest. rom. 52, Genita Mana in Plin. h. n. 29, 4, and Dea Mena in Augustine, Civ. 4, 11), which was worshipped, according to Diodorus (iii. 56) and Nonnus ( Dionys. v. 70 ss.), in Phoenicia and Africa. The rendering of the lxx may be quoted in favour of the identity of the latter with מני ( ἑτοιμάζοντες τῷ δαιμονίῳ (another reading δαίμονι τράπεζαν καὶ πληροῦντες τῇ τύχῃ κέρασμα ), especially if we compare with this what Macrobius says in Saturn. i. 19, viz., that “according to the Egyptians there are four of the gods which preside over the birth of men, Δαίμων Τύχη ̓́Ερωσ ̓Ανάγκη . Of these Daimōn is the sun, the author of spirit, of warmth, and of light. Tychē is the moon, as the goddess through whom all bodies below the moon grow and disappear, and whose ever changing course accompanies the multiform changes of this mortal life.”
(Note: See Ge. Zoega's Abhandlungen, edited by Welcker (1817), pp. 39, 40.)
In perfect harmony with this is the following passage of Vettius Valens, the astrologer of Antioch, which has been brought to light by Selden in his Syntagma de Diis Syris: Κλῆροι τῆς τύχης καὶ τοῦ δαίμονος σημαίνουσιν (viz., by the signs of nativity) ἣλιον τε καὶ σελήνην . Rosenmüller very properly traces back the Sept. rendering to this Egyptian view, according to which Gad is the sun-god, and M e ni the lunar goddess as the power of fate. Now it is quite true that the passage before us refers to Babylonian deities, and not to Egyptian; at the same time there might be some relation between the two views, just as in other instances ancient Babylonia and Egypt coincide.
But there are many objections that may be offered to the combination of מני ( Meni ) and Μήνη : (1.) The Babylonian moon-deity was either called Sı̄n , as among the ancient Shemites generally, or else by other names connected with ירח ירח ) and c hâmar . (2.) The moon is called m âs is Sanscrit, Zendic m âo , Neo-Pers. m âh ( m ah ); but in the Arian languages we meet with no such names as could be traced to a root m ân as the expansion of m â (to measure), like μ ήν μ ήνη ), Goth. m ena ; for the ancient proper names which Movers cites, viz., ̓Αριαμένησ ̓Αρταμένης , etc., are traceable rather to the Arian m anas = μ ένος , mens, with which Minerva ( Menerva, endowed with mind) is connected. (3.) If m e ni were the Semitic form of the name for the moon, we should expect a closer reciprocal relation in the meanings of the words. We therefore subscribe to the view propounded by Gesenius, who adopts the pairing of Jupiter and Venus common among the Arabs, as the two heavenly bodies that preside over the fortunes of men; and understands by M e ni Venus, and by Gad Jupiter. There is nothing at variance with this in the fact that 'Ashtoreth ( Ishtar, with ' Ashērâh ) is the name of Venus (the morning star), as we have shown at Isaiah 14:12. M e ni is her special name as the bestower of good fortune and the distributor of fate generally; probably identical with Manât, one of the three leading deities of the prae-Islamitish Arabs.
(Note: See Krehl, Religion der vorislamischen Araber, p. 78. Sprenger in his Life of Mohammad, 1862, compares the Arabic Manât with מני .)
The address proceeds with umânı̄thı̄ (and I have measured), which forms an apodosis and contains a play upon the name of Meni, Isaiah 65:11 being as it were a protasis indicating the principal reason of their approaching fate. Because they sued for the favour of the two gods of fortune (the Arabs call them es - sa'dâni , “the two fortunes”) and put Jehovah into the shade, Jehovah would assign them to the sword, and they would all have to bow down ( כּרע as in Isaiah 10:4). Another reason is now assigned for this, the address thus completing the circle, viz., because when I called ye did not reply, when I spake ye did not hear (this is expressed in the same paratactic manner as in Isaiah 5:4; Isaiah 12:1; Isaiah 50:2), and ye have done, etc.: an explanatory clause, consisting of four members, which is repeated almost word for word in Isaiah 66:4 (cf., Isaiah 56:4).
On the ground of the sin thus referred to again, the proclamation of punishment is renewed, and the different fates awaiting the servants of Jehovah and those by whom He is despised are here announced in five distinct theses and antitheses. “Therefore thus saith the Lord, Jehovah: Behold my servants will eat, but ye will hunger; behold my servants will drink, but ye will thirst; behold my servants will rejoice, but ye will be put to shame; behold my servants will exult for delight of heart, but ye will cry for anguish of heart, and ye will lament for brokenness of spirit. And ye will leave your name for a curse to my chosen ones, and the Lord, Jehovah, will slay thee; but His servants He will call by another name, to that whoever blesseth himself in the land will bless himself by the God of truthfulness, and whoever sweareth in the land will swear by the God of truthfulness, because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they have vanished from mine eyes.” The name Adonai is connected with the name Jehovah for the purpose of affirming that the God of salvation and judgment has the power to carry His promises and threats into execution. Starving, confounded by the salvation they had rejected ( תּבשׁוּ as in Isaiah 66:5), crying and wailing ( תּילילוּ , fut. hiph. as in Isaiah 15:2, with a double preformative; Ges. §70, 2 Anm.) for sorrow of heart and crushing of spirit ( shebher , rendered very well by the lxx συντριβή , as in Isaiah 61:1, συντετριμμένους ), the rebellious ones are left behind in the land of captivity, whilst the servants of Jehovah enjoy the richest blessings from God in the land of promise (Isaiah 62:8-9). The former, perishing in the land of captivity, leave their name to the latter as sh e bhū‛âh , i.e., to serve as a formula by which to swear, or rather to execrate or curse (Numbers 5:21), so that men will say, “Jehovah slay thee, as He slew them.” This, at any rate, is the meaning of the threat; but the words וגו והמית ך cannot contain the actual formula, not even if we drop the Vav, as Knobel proposes, and change לבחירי into לבחיריו ; for, in the first place, although in the doxologies a Hebrew was in the habit of saying “ b e rūkh sh e mō ” (bless his name) instead of y e hı̄ sh e mō bârukh (his name be blessed), he never went so far as the Arab with his Allâh tabâr , but said rather יתברך . Still less could he make use of the perfect (indicative) in such sentences as “may he slay thee,” instead of the future (voluntative) ימית ך , unless the perfect shared the optative force of the previous future by virtue of the consecutio temporum . And secondly, the indispensable כּהם or כּאלּה would be wanting (see Jeremiah 29:22, cf., Genesis 48:20). We may therefore assume, that the prophet has before his mind the words of this imprecatory formula, though he does not really express them, and that he deduces from it the continuation of the threat. And this explains his passing from the plural to the singular. Their name will become an execration; but Jehovah will call His servants by another name (cf., Isaiah 62:2), so that henceforth it will be the God of the faithfully fulfilled promise whose name men take into their mouth when they either desire a blessing or wish to give assurance of the truth ( hithbâr b e , to bless one's self with any one, or with the name of any one; Ewald, §133, Anm. 1). No other name of any god is now heard in the land, except this gloriously attested name; for the former troubles, which included the mixed condition of Israel in exile and the persecution of the worshippers of Jehovah by the despisers of Jehovah, are now forgotten, so that they no longer disturb the enjoyment of the present, and are eve hidden from the eyes of God, so that all thought of ever renewing them is utterly remote from His mind. This is the connection between Isaiah 65:16 and Isaiah 65:13-15. אשׁר does not mean eo quod here, as in Genesis 31:49 for example, but ita ut , as in Genesis 13:16. What follows is the result of the separation accomplished and the promise fulfilled. For the same reason God is called Elohē' âmēn , “the God of Amen,” i.e., the God who turns what He promises into Yea and Amen (2 Corinthians 1:20). The epithet derived from the confirmatory Amen, which is thus applied to Jehovah, is similar to the expression in Revelation 3:14, where Jesus is called “the Amen, the faithful and true witness.” The explanatory kı̄ (for) is emphatically repeated in וכי , as in Genesis 33:11 and 1 Samuel 19:4 (compare Job 38:20). The inhabitants of the land stand in a close and undisturbed relation to the God who has proved Himself to be true to His promises; for all the former evils that followed from the sin have entirely passed away.
The fact that they have thus passed away is now still further explained; the prophet heaping up one kı̄ (for) upon another, as in Isaiah 9:3-5. “For behold I create a new heaven and a new earth; and men will not remember the first, nor do they come to any one's mind. No, be ye joyful and exult for ever at that which I create: for behold I turn Jerusalem into exulting, and her people into joy. And I shall exult over Jerusalem, and be joyous over my people, and the voice of weeping and screaming will be heard in her no more.” The promise here reaches its culminating point, which had already been seen from afar in Isaiah 51:16. Jehovah creates a new heaven and a new earth, which bind so fast with their glory, and which so thoroughly satisfy all desires, that there is no thought of the former ones, and no one wishes them back again. Most of the commentators, from Jerome to Hahn, suppose the ri'shōnōth in Isaiah 65:16 to refer to the former sorrowful times. Calvin says, “The statement of the prophet, that there will be no remembrance of former things, is supposed by some to refer to the heaven and the earth, as if he meant, that henceforth neither the fame nor even the name of either would any more be heard; but I prefer to refer them to the former times.” But the correctness of the former explanation is shown by the parallel in Jeremiah 3:16, which stands in by no means an accidental relation to this passage, and where it is stated that in the future there will be no ark of the covenant, “neither shall it come to mind, neither shall they remember it,” inasmuch as all Jerusalem will be the throne of Jehovah, and not merely the capporeth with its symbolical cherubim. This promise is also a glorious one; but Jeremiah and all the other prophets fall short of the eagle-flight of Isaiah, of whom the same may be said as of John, “ volat avis sine meta .” Luther (like Zwingli and Stier) adopts the correct rendering, “that men shall no more remember the former ones (i.e., the old heaven and old earth), nor take it to heart.” But ‛ âlâh ‛al - lēbh signifies to come into the mind, not “to take to heart,” and is applied to a thing, the thought of which “ascends” within us, and with which we are inwardly occupied. There is no necessity to take the futures in Isaiah 65:17 as commands (Hitzig); for אם־שׂישׂוּ כּי כי with m uach, as in Ven. 1521, after the Masora to Numbers 35:33) fits on quite naturally, even if we take them as simple predictions. Instead of such a possible, though not actual, calling back and wishing back, those who survive the new times are called upon rather to rejoice for ever in that which Jehovah is actually creating, and will have created then. אשׁר , if not regarded as the accusative-object, is certainly regarded as the object of causality, “in consideration of that which” (cf., Isaiah 31:6; Genesis 3:17; Judges 8:15), equivalent to, “on account of that which” (see at Isaiah 64:4; Isaiah 35:1). The imperatives sı̄sū v e gı̄lū are not words of admonition so much as words of command, and kı̄ gives the reason in this sense: Jehovah makes Jerusalem gı̄lâh and her people m âsōs (accusative of the predicate, or according to the terminology adopted in Becker's syntax, the “factitive object,” Ges. §139, 2), by making joy its perpetual state, its appointed condition of life both inwardly and outwardly. Nor is it joy on the part of the church only, but on the part of its God as well (see the primary passages in Deuteronomy 30:9). When the church thus rejoices in God, and God in the church, so that the light of the two commingle, and each is reflected in the other; then will no sobbing of weeping ones, no sound of lamentation, be heard any more in Jerusalem (see the opposite side as expressed in Isaiah 51:3).
There will be a different measure then, and a much greater one, for measuring the period of life and grace. “And there shall no more come thence a suckling of a few days, and an old man who has not lived out all his days; for the youth in it will die as one a hundred years old, and the sinner be smitten with the curse as one a hundred years old.” Our editions of the text commence Isaiah 65:20 with לא־יהיה , but according to the Masora (see Mas. finalis, p. 23, col. 7), which reckons five ולא־יהיה at the commencement of verses, and includes our v. among them, it must read ולא־יהיה , as it is also rendered by the lxx and Targum. The meaning and connection are not affected by this various reading. Henceforth there will not spring from Jerusalem (or, what hâyâh really means, “come into existence;” “ thence,” m isshâm , not “from that time,” but locally, as in Hosea 2:17 and elsewhere, cf., Isaiah 58:12) a suckling (see p. 90) of days, i.e., one who has only reached the age of a few days ( yâmı̄m as in Genesis 24:55, etc.), nor an old man who has not filled his days, i.e., has not attained to what is regarded as a rule as the full measure of human life. He who dies as a youth, or is regarded as having died young, will not die before the hundredth year of his life; and the sinner ( והחוטא with seghol, as in Ecclesiastes 8:12; Ecclesiastes 9:18; Ges. §75, Anm. 21) upon whom the curse of God falls, and who is overwhelmed by the punishment, will not be swept away before the hundredth year of his life. We cannot maintain with Hofmann ( Schriftbeweis, ii. 2, 567), that it is only in appearance that less is here affirmed than in Isaiah 25:8. The reference there is to the ultimate destruction of the power of death; here it is merely to the limitation of its power.
In the place of the threatened curses of the law in Leviticus 26:16 (cf., Deuteronomy 28:30), the very opposite will now receive their fullest realization. “And they will build houses and inhabit them, and plant vineyards and enjoy the fruit thereof. They will not build and another inhabit, nor plant and another enjoy; for like the days of trees are the days of my people, ad my chosen ones will consume the work of their hands. They will not weary themselves in vain, nor bring forth for sudden disaster; for they are a family of the blessed of Jehovah, and their offspring are left to them.” They themselves will enjoy what they have worked for, without some one else stepping in, whether a countryman by violence or inheritance, or a foreigner by plunder or conquest (Isaiah 62:8), to take possession of that which they have built and planted (read יטעוּ without dagesh); for the duration of their life will be as great as that of trees (i.e., of oaks, terebinths, and cedars, which live for centuries), and thus they will be able thoroughly to enjoy in their own person what their hands have made. Billâh does not mean merely to use and enjoy, but to use up and consume. Work and generation will be blessed then, and there will be no more disappointed hopes. They will not weary themselves ( יגעוּ with a preformative י without that of the root) for failure, not get children labbehâlâh , i.e., for some calamity to fall suddenly upon them and carry them away (Leviticus 26:16, cf., Psalms 78:33). The primary idea of bâhal is either acting, permitting, or bearing, with the characteristic of being let loose, of suddenness, of overthrow, or of throwing into confusion. The lxx renders it εἰς κατάραν , probably according to the Egypto-Jewish usage, in which behâlâh may have signified cursing, like bahle , buhle in the Arabic (see the Appendices). The two clauses of the explanation which follows stand in a reciprocal relation to the two clauses of the previous promise. They are a family of the blessed of God, upon whose labour the blessing of God rests, and their offspring are with them, without being lost to them by premature death. This is the true meaning, as in Job 21:8, and not “their offspring with them,” i.e., in like manner, as Hitzig supposes.
All prayer will be heard then. “And it will come to pass: before they call, I will answer; they are still speaking, and I already hear.” The will of the church of the new Jerusalem will be so perfectly the will of Jehovah also, that He will hear the slightest emotion of prayer in the heart, the half-uttered prayer, and will at once fulfill it (cf., Isaiah 30:19).
And all around will peace and harmony prevail, even in the animal world itself. “Wolf and lamb then feed together, and the lion eats chopped straw like the ox, and the serpent-dust is its bread. They will neither do harm not destroy in all my holy mountain, saith Jehovah.” We have frequently observed within chapters 40-66 (last of all at Isaiah 65:12, cf., Isaiah 66:4), how the prophet repeats entire passages from the earlier portion of his prophecies almost word for word. Here he repeats Isaiah 11:6-9 with a compendious abridgment. Isaiah 65:25 refers to the animals just as it does there. But whilst this custom of self-repetition favours the unity of authorship, כּאחד for יחדּו = unâ , which only occurs elsewhere in Ezra and Ecclesiastes (answering to the Chaldee כּחדה ), might be adduced as evidence of the opposite. The only thing that is new in the picture as here reproduced, is what is said of the serpent. This will no longer watch for human life, but will content itself with the food assigned it in Genesis 3:14. It still continues to wriggle in the dust, but without doing injury to man. The words affirm nothing more than this, although Stier's method of exposition gets more out, or rather puts more in. The assertion of those who regard the prophet speaking here as one later than Isaiah, viz., that Isaiah 65:25 is only attached quite loosely to what precedes, is unjust and untrue. The description of the new age closes here, as in chapter 11, with the peace of the world of nature, which stands throughout chapters 40-66 in the closest reciprocal relation to man, just as it did in chapters 1-39. If we follow Hahn, and change the animals into men by simply allegorizing, we just throw our exposition back to a standpoint that has been long passed by. But to what part of the history of salvation are we to look for a place for the fulfilment of such prophecies as these of the state of peace prevailing in nature around the church, except in the millennium? A prophet was certainly no fanatic, so that we could say, these are beautiful dreams. And if, what is certainly true, his prophecies are not intended to be interpreted according to the letter, but according to the spirit of the letter; the letter is the sheath of the spirit, as Luther calls it, and we must not give out as the spirit of the letter what is nothing more than a quid-pro-quo of the letter. The prophet here promises a new age, in which the patriarchal measure of human life will return, in which death will no more break off the life that is just beginning to bloom, and in which the war of man with the animal world will be exchanged for peace without danger. And when is all this to occur? Certainly not in the blessed life beyond the grave, to which it would be both absurd and impossible to refer these promises, since they presuppose a continued mixture of sinners with the righteous, and merely a limitation of the power of death, not its utter destruction. But when then? This question ought to be answered by the anti-millenarians. They throw back the interpretation of prophecy to a stage, in which commentators were in the habit of lowering the concrete substance of the prophecies into mere doctrinal loci communes . They take refuge behind the enigmatical character of the Apocalypse, without acknowledging that what the Apocalypse predicts under the definite form of the millennium is the substance of all prophecy, and that no interpretation of prophecy on sound principles is any longer possible from the standpoint of an orthodox antichiliasm, inasmuch as the antichiliasts twist the word in the mouths of the prophets, and through their perversion of Scripture shake the foundation of all doctrines, every one of which rests upon the simple interpretation of the words of revelation. But one objection may be made to the supposition, that the prophet is here depicting the state of things in the millennium; viz., that this description is preceded by an account of the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. The prophet appears, therefore, to refer to that Jerusalem, which is represented in the Apocalypse as coming down from heaven to earth after the transformation of the globe. But to this it may be replied, that the Old Testament prophet was not yet able to distinguish from one another the things which the author of the Apocalypse separates into distinct periods. From the Old Testament point of view generally, nothing was known of a state of blessedness beyond the grave. Hades lay beyond this present life; and nothing was known of a heaven in which men were blessed. Around the throne of God in heaven there were angels and not men. And, indeed, until the risen Saviour ascended to heaven, heaven itself was not open to men, and therefore there was no heavenly Jerusalem whose descent to earth could be anticipated then. Consequently in the prophecies of the Old Testament the eschatological idea of the new Cosmos does unquestionably coincide with the millennium. It is only in the New Testament that the new creation intervenes as a party-wall between this life and the life beyond; whereas the Old Testament prophecy brings down the new creation itself into the present life, and knows nothing of any Jerusalem of the blessed life to come, as distinct from the new Jerusalem of the millennium. We shall meet with a still further illustration in chapter 66 of this Old Testament custom of reducing the things of the life to come within the limits of this present world.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Isaiah 65". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany