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Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary Keil & Delitzsch
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Isaiah 66". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ kdo/ isaiah-66.html. 1854-1889.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Isaiah 66". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
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Although the note on which this prophecy opens is a different one from any that has yet been struck, there are many points in which it coincides with the preceding prophecy. For not only is Isaiah 65:12 repeated here in Isaiah 66:4, but the sharp line of demarcation drawn in chapter 65, between the servants of Jehovah and the worldly majority of the nation with reference to the approaching return to the Holy Land, is continued here. As the idea of their return is associated immediately with that of the erection of a new temple, there is nothing at all to surprise us, after what we have read in Isaiah 65:8., in the fact that Jehovah expresses His abhorrence at the thought of having a temple built by the Israel of the captivity, as the majority then were, and does so in such words as those which follow in Isaiah 66:1-4: “Thus saith Jehovah: The heaven is my throne, and the earth my footstool. What kind of house is it that ye would build me, and what kind of place for my rest? My hand hath made all these things; then all these thing arose, saith Jehovah; and at such persons do I look, at the miserable and broken-hearted, and him that trembleth at my word. He that slaughtereth the ox is the slayer of a man; he that sacrificeth the sheep is a strangler of dogs; he that offereth a meat-offering, it is swine's blood; he that causeth incense to rise up in smoke, blesseth idols. As they have chosen their ways, and their soul cheriseth pleasure in their abominations; so will I choose their ill-treatments, and bring their terrors upon them, because I called and no one replied, I spake and they did not hear, and they did evil in mine eyes, and chose that in which I took no pleasure." Hitzig is of opinion that the author has broken off here, and proceeds quite unexpectedly to denounce the intention to build a temple for Jehovah. Those who wish to build he imagines to be those who have made up their minds to stay behind in Chaldea, and who, whilst their brethren who have returned to their native land are preparing to build a temple there, want to have one of their own, just as the Jews in Egypt built one for themselves in Leontopolis. Without some such supposition as this, Hitzig thinks it altogether impossible to discover the thread which connects the different vv. together. This view is at any rate better than that of Umbreit, who imagines that the prophet places us here “on the loftiest spiritual height of the Christian development.” “In the new Jerusalem,” he says, “there will be no temple seen, nor any sacrifice; Jehovah forbids these in the strongest terms, regarding them as equivalent to mortal sins.” But the prophet, if this were his meaning, would involve himself in self-contradiction, inasmuch as, according to Isaiah 56:1-12 and 60, there will be a temple in the new Jerusalem with perpetual sacrifice, which this prophecy also presupposes in Isaiah 66:20. (cf., Isaiah 66:6); and secondly, he would contradict other prophets, such as Ezekiel and Zechariah, and the spirit of the Old Testament generally, in which the statement, that whoever slaughters a sacrificial animal in the new Jerusalem will be as bad as a murderer, has no parallel, and is in fact absolutely impossible. According to Hitzig's view, on the other hand, v. 3 a affirms, that the worship which they would be bound to perform in their projected temple would be an abomination to Jehovah, however thoroughly it might be made to conform to the Mosaic ritual. But there is nothing in the text to sustain the idea, that there is any intention here to condemn the building of a temple to Jehovah in Chaldaea, nor is such an explanation by any means necessary to make the text clear. The condemnation on the part of Jehovah has reference to the temple, which the returning exiles intend to build in Jerusalem. The prophecy is addressed to the entire body now ready to return, and says to the whole without exception, that Jehovah, the Creator of heaven and earth, does not stand in need of any house erected by human hands, and then proceeds to separate the penitent from those that are at enmity against God, rejects in the most scornful manner all offerings in the form of worship on the part of the latter, and threatens them with divine retribution, having dropped in Isaiah 66:3-4 the form of address to the entire body. Just as in the Psalm of Asaph (Ps 50) Jehovah refuses animal and other material offerings as such, because the whole of the animal world, the earth and the fulness thereof, are His possession, so here He addresses this question to the entire body of the exiles: What kind of house is there that ye could build, that would be worthy of me, and what kind of place that would be worthy of being assigned to me as a resting-place? On m âqōm m e nūchâthı̄ , locus qui sit requies mea (apposition instead of genitive connection). He needs no temple; for heaven is His throne, and the earth His footstool. He is the Being who filleth all, the Creator, and therefore the possessor, of the universe; and if men think to do Him a service by building Him a temple, and forget His infinite majesty in their concern for their own contemptible fabric, He wants to temple at all. “All these” refer, as if pointing with the finger, to the world of visible objects that surround us. ויּהיוּ (from היה , existere , fieri ) is used in the same sense as the ויהי which followed the creative יהי . In this His exaltation He is not concerned about a temple; but His gracious look is fixed upon the man who is as follows ( zeh pointing forwards as in Isaiah 58:6), viz., upon the mourner, the man of broken heart, who is filled with reverential awe at the word of His revelation.
We may see from Psalms 51:9 what the link of connection is between Isaiah 66:2 and Isaiah 66:3. So far as the mass of the exiles were concerned, who had not been humbled by their sufferings, and whom the preaching of the prophet could not bring to reflection, He did not want any temple or sacrifice from them. The sacrificial acts, to which such detestable predicates are here applied, are such as end with the merely external act, whilst the inward feelings of the person presenting the sacrifice are altogether opposed to the idea of both the animal sacrifice and the meat-offering, more especially to that desire for salvation which was symbolized in all the sacrifices; in other words, they are sacrificial acts regarded as νεκρὰ ἔργα , the lifeless works of men spiritually dead. The articles of hasshōr and hasseh are used as generic with reference to sacrificial animals. The slaughter of an ox was like the slaying ( m akkēh construct with tzere) of a man (for the association of ideas, see Genesis 49:6); the sacrifice ( zōbhēăch like shâchat is sometimes applied to slaughtering for the purpose of eating; here, however, it refers to an animal prepared for Jehovah) of a sheep like the strangling of a dog, that unclean animal (for the association of ideas, see Job 30:1); the offerer up ( m e ‛ōlēh ) of a meat-offering (like one who offered up) swine's blood, i.e., as if he was offering up the blood of this most unclean animal upon the altar; he who offered incense as an ' azkârâh (see at Isaiah 1:13) like one who blessed ' âven , i.e., godlessness, used here as in 1 Samuel 15:23, and also in Hosea in the change of the name of Bethel into Beth 'Aven, for idolatry, or rather in a concrete sense for the worthless idols themselves, all of which, according to Isaiah 41:29, are nothing but ' âven . Rosenmüller, Gesenius, Hitzig, Stier, and even Jerome, have all correctly rendered it in this way, “as if he blessed an idol” ( quasi qui benedicat idolo ); and Vitringa, “ cultum exhibens vano numini ” (offering worship to a vain god). Such explanations as that of Luther, on the other hand, viz., “as if he praised that which was wrong,” are opposed to the antithesis, and also to the presumption of a concrete object to מברך (blessing); whilst that of Knobel, “praising vainly” ( ' âven being taken as an acc. Adv.), yields too tame an antithesis, and is at variance with the usage of the language. In this condemnation of the ritual acts of worship, the closing prophecy of the book of Isaiah coincides with the first (Isaiah 1:11-15). But that it is not sacrifices in themselves that are rejected, but the sacrifices of those whose hearts are divided between Jehovah and idols, and who refuse to offer to Him the sacrifice that is dearest to Him (Psalms 51:19, cf., Psalms 50:23), is evident from the correlative double-sentence that follows in Isaiah 66:3 and Isaiah 66:4, which is divided into two masoretic verses, as the only means of securing symmetry. Gam ... gam , which means in other cases, “both ... and also,” or in negative sentences “neither ... nor,” means here, as in Jeremiah 51:12, “as assuredly the one as the other,” in other words, “as ... so.” They have chosen their own ways, which are far away from those of Jehovah, and their soul has taken pleasure, not in the worship of Jehovah, but in all kinds of heathen abominations ( shiqqūtsēhem , as in many other places, after Deuteronomy 29:16); therefore Jehovah wants no temple built by them or with their co-operation, nor any restoration of sacrificial worship at their hands. But according to the law of retribution, He chooses tha‛ălūlēhem , vexationes eorum (lxx τὰ ἐμπαίγματα αὐτῶν : see at Isaiah 3:4), with the suffix of the object: fates that will use them ill, and brings their terrors upon them, i.e., such a condition of life as will inspire them with terror ( m e gūrōth , as in Psalms 34:5).
From the heathenish majority, with their ungodly hearts, the prophet now turns to the minority, consisting of those who tremble with reverential awe when they hear the word of God. They are called to hear how Jehovah will accept them in defiance of their persecutors. “Hear ye the word of Jehovah, ye that tremble at His word: your brethren that hate you, that thrust you from them for my name's sake, say, 'Let Jehovah get honour, that we may see your joy:' they will be put to shame.” They that hate them are their own brethren, and (what makes the sin still greater) the name of Jehovah is the reason why they are hated by them. According to the accents, indeed ( מנדיכם rebia , סמי pashta ), the meaning would be, “your brethren say ... 'for my name's sake (i.e., for me = out of goodness and love to us) will Jehovah glorify Himself,' - then we shall see your joy, but - they will be put to shame.” Rashi and other Jewish expositors interpret it in this or some similar way; but Rosenmüller, Stier, and Hahn are the only modern Christian expositors, who have done so, following the precedent of earlier commentators, who regarded the accents as binding. Luther, however, very properly disregarded them. If סמי למען be taken in connection with יכבד , it gives only a forced sense, which disturbs the relation of all the clauses; whereas this is preserved in all respects in the most natural and connected manner if we combine שמי למען with מנדּיכם שׂנאיכם , as we must do, according to such parallels as Matthew 24:9. נדּה from נר , to scare away or thrust away (Amos 6:3, with the object in the dative), corresponds to ἀφορίζειν in Luke 6:22 (compare John 16:22, “to put out of the synagogue”). The practice of excommunication, or putting under the ban ( niddūi ), reaches beyond the period of the Herodians (see Eduyoth v. 6),
(Note: Compare Wiesner: Der Bann in seiner gesch. Entwickelung auf dem Boden des Judenthums, 1864.)
at any rate as far back as the times succeeding the captivity; but in the passage before us it is quite sufficient to understand niddâh in the sense of a defamatory renunciation of fellowship. To the accentuators this שמי למען מנדיכם appeared quite unintelligible. They never considered that it had a confessional sense here, which certainly does not occur anywhere else: viz., “for my name's sake, which ye confess in word and deed.” With unbelieving scorn they say to those who confess Jehovah, and believe in the word of the true redemption: Let Jehovah glorify Himself (lit. let Him be, i.e., show Himself, glorious = yikkâbēd , cf., Job 14:21), that we may thoroughly satisfy ourselves with looking at your joy. They regard their hope as deceptive, and the word of the prophet as fanaticism. These are they, who, when permission to return is suddenly given, will desire to accompany them, but will be disappointed, because they did not rejoice in faith before, and because, although they do now rejoice in that which is self-evident, they do this in a wrong way.
The city and temple, to which they desire to go, are nothing more, so far as they are concerned, than the places from which just judgment will issue. “Sound of tumult from the city! Sound from the Temple! Sound of Jehovah, who repays His enemies with punishment.” All three קול , to the second of which שׁאון must be supplied in thought, are in the form of interjectional exclamations (as in Isaiah 52:8). In the third, however, we have omitted the note of admiration, because here the interjectional clause approximates very nearly to a substantive clause (“it is the sound of Jehovah”), as the person shouting announces here who is the originator and cause of the noise which was so enigmatical at first. The city and temple are indeed still lying in ruins as the prophet is speaking; but even in this state they both preserve the holiness conferred upon them. They are the places where Jehovah will take up His abode once more; and even now, at the point at which promise and fulfilment coincide, they are in the very process of rising again. A loud noise (like the tumult of war) proceeds from it. It is Jehovah, He who is enthroned in Zion and rules from thence (Isaiah 31:9), who makes Himself heard in this loud noise (compare Joel 3:16 with the derivative passage in Amos 1:2); it is He who awards punishment or reckons retribution to His foes. In other cases גּמוּל ( השׁהיב ) שׁלּם generally means to repay that which has been worked out (what has been deserved; e.g., Psalms 137:8, compare Isaiah 3:11); but in Isaiah 59:18 g e mūl was the parallel word to c hēmâh , and therefore, as in Isaiah 35:4, it did not apply to the works of men, but to the retribution of the judge, just as in Jeremiah 51:6, where it is used quite as absolutely. We have therefore rendered it “punishment;” “merited punishment” would express both sides of this double-sided word. By “His enemies,” according to the context, we are to understand primarily the mass of the exiles, who were so estranged from God, and yet withal so full of demands and expectations.
All of these fall victims to the judgment; and yet Zion is not left either childless or without population. “Before she travailed she brought forth; before pains came upon her, she was delivered of a boy. Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen anything like it? Are men delivered of a land in one day? or is a nation begotten at once? For Zion hath travailed, yea, hath brought forth her children. Should I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith Jehovah: or should I, who cause to bring forth, shut it? saith thy God.” Before Zion travaileth, before any labour pains come upon her ( c hēbhel with tzere), she has already given birth, or brought with ease into the world a male child ( hı̄mlit like m illēt , in Isaiah 34:15, to cause to glide out). This boy, of whom she is delivered with such marvellous rapidity, is a whole land full of men, an entire nation. The seer exclaims with amazement, like Zion herself in Isaiah 49:21, “who hath heard such a thing, or seen anything like it? is a land brought to the birth ( hăyūchal followed by 'erets for hăthūchal , as in Genesis 13:6; Isaiah 9:18; Ges. §147), i.e., the population of a whole land (as in Judges 18:30), and that in one day, or a nation born all at once ( yivvâlēd , with m unach attached to the kametz, and m etheg to the tzere)? This unheard-of event has taken place now, for Zion has travailed, yea, has also brought forth her children,” - not one child, but her children, a whole people that calls her mother.
(Note: There is a certain similarity in the saying, with which a talmud ic teacher roused up the sleepy scholars of the Beth ha-Midrash: “There was once a woman, who was delivered of 600,000 children in one day,” viz., Jochebed, who, when she gave birth to Moses, brought 600,000 to the light of freedom (Exodus 12:37).)
“For” ( kı̄ ) presupposes the suppressed thought, that this unexampled event has now occurred: yâl e dâh follows c hâlâh with gam , because c hı̄l signifies strictly parturire ; yâl , parere . Zion, the mother, is no other than the woman of the sun in Rev 12; but the child born of her there is the shepherd of the nations, who proceeds from her at the end of the days, whereas here it is the new Israel of the last days; for the church, which is saved through all her tribulations, is both the mother of the Lord, by whom Babel is overthrown, and the mother of that Israel which inherits the promises, that the unbelieving mass have failed to obtain. Isaiah 66:9 follows with an emphatic confirmation of the things promised. Jehovah inquires: “Should I create the delivery (cause the child to break through the matrix) and not the birth (both hiphil, causative), so that although the child makes an effort to pass the opening of the womb, it never comes to the light of day? Or should I be one to bring it to the birth, and then to have closed, viz., the womb, so that the word of bringing forth should remain ineffectual, when all that is required is the last effort to bring to the light the fruit of the womb?” From the expression “thy God,” we see that the questions are addressed to Zion, whose faith they are intended to strengthen. According to Hofmann ( Schriftbeweis, ii. 1, 149, 150), the future יאמר affirms what Jehovah will say, when the time for bringing forth arrives, and the perfect אמר what He is saying now: “Should I who create the bringing forth have shut up?” And He comforts the now barren daughter Zion (Isaiah 54:1) with the assurance, that her barrenness is not meant to continue for ever. “The prediction,” says Hofmann, “which is contained in ה יאמר , of the ultimate issue of the fate of Zion, is so far connected with the consolation administered for the time present, that she who is barren now is exhorted to anticipate the time when the former promise shall be fulfilled.” But this change in the standpoint is artificial, and contrary to the general use of the expression ה יאמר elsewhere (see at Isaiah 40:1). Moreover, the meaning of the two clauses, which constitute here as elsewhere a disjunctive double question in form more than in sense, really runs into one. The first member affirms that Jehovah will complete the bringing to the birth; the second, that He will not ultimately frustrate what He has almost brought to completion: an ego sum is qui parere faciat et ( uterum ) occluserim ( occludam )? There is no other difference between יאמר and אמר , than that the former signifies the word of God which is sounding at the present moment, the latter the word that has been uttered and is resounding still. The prophetic announcement of our prophet has advanced so far, that the promised future is before the door. The church of the future is already like the fruit of the body ripe for the birth, and about to separate itself from the womb of Zion, which has been barren until now. The God by whom everything has been already so far prepared, will suddenly cause Zion to become a mother - a boy, viz., a whole people after Jehovah's own heart, will suddenly lie in her lap, and this new-born Israel, not the corrupt mass, will build a temple for Jehovah.
In the anticipation of such a future, those who inwardly participate in the present sufferings of Zion are to rejoice beforehand in the change of all their suffering into glory. “Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and exult over her, all ye that love her; be ye delightfully glad with her, all ye that mourn over her, that he may suck and be satisfied with the breast of her consolations, that ye may sip and delight yourselves in the abundance of her glory.” Those who love Jerusalem (the abode of the church, and the church itself), who mourn over her ( hith'abbēl , inwardly mourn, 1 Samuel 15:35, prove and show themselves to be mourners and go into mourning, b. Moëd katan 20 b, the word generally used in prose, whereas אבל , to be thrown into mourning, to mourn, only occurs in the higher style; compare ציּון אבלי , Isaiah 57:18; Isaiah 61:2-3; Isaiah 60:20), these are even now to rejoice in spirit with Jerusalem and exult on her account ( bâh ), and share her ecstatic delight with her ( 'ittâh ), in order that when that in which they now rejoice in spirit shall be fulfilled, they may suck and be satisfied, etc. Jerusalem is regarded as a mother, and the rich actual consolation, which she receives (Isaiah 51:3), as the milk that enters her breasts ( shōd as in Isaiah 60:16), and from which she now supplies her children with plentiful nourishment. זיז , which is parallel to שׁד (not זיו , a reading which none of the ancients adopted), signifies a moving, shaking abundance, which oscillates to and fro like a great mass of water, from זאזא , to move by fits and starts, for pellere movere is the radical meaning common in such combinations of letters as זא , זע , רא , Psalms 42:5, to which Bernstein and Knobel have correctly traced the word; whereas the meaning emicans fluxus (Schröder), or radians copia (Kocher), to pour out in the form of rays, has nothing to sustain it in the usage of the language.
The reason is now given, why the church of the future promises such abundant enjoyment to those who have suffered with her. “For thus saith Jehovah, Behold, I guide peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like an overflowing stream, that ye may suck; ye shall be borne upon arms, and fondled upon knees.” Jehovah guides or turns (Genesis 39:21) peace to Jerusalem, the greatest of all inward blessings, and at the same time the most glorious of all the outward blessings, that are in the possession of the Gentile world ( kâbhōd as in Isaiah 56:6), both of them in the richest superabundance (“like a river,” as in Isaiah 48:18), so that ( perf. cons.) “ye may be able to suck yourselves full according to your heart's desire” (Isaiah 60:16). The figure of the new maternity of Zion, and of her children as quasimodogeniti , is still preserved. The members of the church can then revel in peace and wealth, like a child at its mother's breasts. The world is now altogether in the possession of the church, because the church is altogether God's. The allusion to the heathen leads on to the thought, which was already expressed in a similar manner in Isaiah 49:22 and Isaiah 60:4: “on the side (arm or shoulder) will ye be carried, and fondled ( שׁעשׁע , pulpal of the pilpel שׁעשׁע , Isaiah 11:8) upon the knees,” viz., by the heathen, who will vie with one another in the effort to show you tenderness and care (Isaiah 49:23).
The prophet now looks upon the members of the church as having grown up, as it were, from childhood to maturity: they suck like a child, and are comforted like a grown-up son. “Like a man whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you, and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” Hitzig says that 'ı̄sh is not well chosen; but how easily could the prophet have written bēn ( son ), as in Isaiah 49:15! He writes 'ı̄sh , however, not indeed in the unmeaning sense in which the lxx has taken it, viz., ὡς εἴ τινα μήτηρ παρακαλέσει , but looking upon the people, whom he had previously thought of as children, as standing before him as one man. Israel is now like a man who has escaped from bondage and returned home from a foreign land, full of mournful recollections, the echoing sounds of which entirely disappear in the maternal arms of divine love there in Jerusalem, the beloved home, which was the home of its thoughts even in the strange land.
Wherever they look, joy now meets their eye. “And ye will see, and your heart will be joyful, and your bones will flourish like young herbage; and thus does the hand of Jehovah make itself known in His servants, and fiercely does He treat His enemies.” They will see, and their heart will rejoice, i.e., (cf., Isaiah 53:11; Isaiah 60:5) they will enjoy a heart-cheering prospect, and revive again with such smiling scenery all around. The body is like a tree The bones are its branches. These will move and extend themselves in the fulness of rejuvenated strength (compare Isaiah 58:11, et ossa tua expedita faciet ); and thus will the hand of Jehovah practically become known ( v e nwd e ‛âh , perf. cons.) in His servants - that hand under whose gracious touch all vernal life awakens, whether in body or in mind. And thus is it with the surviving remnant of Israel, whereas Jehovah is fiercely angry with His foes. The first את is used in a prepositional sense, as in Psalms 67:2, viz., “in His servants, so that they come to be acquainted with it”; the second in an accusative sense, for zâ'am is either connected with על , or as in Zechariah 1:12; Malachi 1:4, with the accusative of the object. It is quite contrary to the usage of the language to take both את according to the phrase ( עס ) את ( רעה ) מובה עשׂה .
The prophecy now takes a new turn with the thought expressed in the words, “and fiercely does He treat His enemies.” The judgment of wrath, which prepares the way for the redemption and ensures its continuance, is described more minutely in Isaiah 66:15: “For behold Jehovah, in the fire will He come, and His chariots are like the whirlwind, to pay out His wrath in burning heat, and His threatening passeth into flames of fire.” Jehovah comes bâ'ēsh , in igne (Jerome; the lxx, on the contrary, render it arbitrarily ὡς πῦρ kâ'ēsh ), since it is the fiery side of His glory, in which He appears, and fire pours from Him, which is primarily the intense excitement of the powers of destruction within God Himself (Isaiah 10:17; Isaiah 30:27; Psalms 18:9), and in these is transformed into cosmical powers of destruction (Isaiah 29:6; Isaiah 30:30; Psalms 18:13). He is compared to a warrior, driving along upon war-chariots resembling stormy wind, which force everything out of their way, and crush to pieces whatever comes under their wheels. The plural מרכּבתיו (His chariots) is probably not merely amplifying, but a strict plural; for Jehovah, the One, can manifest Himself in love or wrath in different places at the same time. The very same substantive clause מרכבתיו וכסופה occurs in Jeremiah 4:13, where it is not used of Jehovah, however, but of the Chaldeans. Observe also that Jeremiah there proceeds immediately with a derivative passage from Habakkuk 1:8. In the following clause denoting the object, אפּו בּחמה להשׁיב , we must not adopt the rendering, “to breathe out His wrath in burning heat” (Hitzig), for hēshı̄bh may mean respirare , but not exspirare (if this were the meaning, it would be better to read להשּׁיב from נשׁב , as Lowth does); nor “ ut iram suam furore sedet ” (Meier), for even in Job 9:13; Psalms 78:38, עפו השיב does not mean to still or cool His wrath, but to turn it away or take it back; not even “to direct His wrath in burning heat” (Ges., Kn.), for in this sense hēshı̄bh would be connected with an object with ל , אל (Job 15:13), על (Isaiah 1:25). It has rather the meaning reddere in the sense of retribuere (Arab. athâba , syn. shillēm ), and “to pay back, or pay out, His wrath” is equivalent to hēshı̄bh nâqâm (Deuteronomy 32:41, Deuteronomy 32:43), Hence עפו בחמה does not stand in a permutative relation instead of a genitive one (viz., in fervore , riâ suâ = irae suae ), but is an adverbial definition, just as in Isaiah 42:25. That the payment of the wrath deserved takes place in burning heat, and His rebuke ( g e ‛ârâh ) in flames of fire, are thoughts that answer to one another.
Jehovah appears with these warlike terrors because He is coming for a great judgment. “For in the midst of fire Jehovah holds judgment, and in the midst of His sword with all flesh; and great will be the multitude of those pierced through by Jehovah.” The fire, which is here introduced as the medium of judgment, points to destructive occurrences of nature, and the sword to destructive occurrences of history. At the same time all the emphasis is laid here, as in Isaiah 34:5-6 (cf., Isaiah 27:1), upon the direct action of Jehovah Himself. The parallelism in Isaiah 66:16 is progressive. Nishpat 'ēth , “to go into judgment with a person,” as in Ezekiel 38:22 (cf., עם in Isaiah 3:14, Joel 3:2; 2 Chronicles 22:8; μ ετά , Luke 11:31-32). We find a resemblance to Isaiah 66:16 in Zephaniah 2:12, and this is not the only resemblance to our prophecy in that strongly reproductive prophet.
The judgment predicted here is a judgment upon nations, and falls not only upon the heathen, but upon the great mass of Israel, who have fallen away from their election of grace and become like the heathen. “They that consecrate themselves and purify themselves for the gardens behind one in the midst, who eat swine's flesh and abomination and the field-mouse-they will come to an end together, saith Jehovah.” The persons are first of all described; and then follows the judgment pronounced, as the predicate of the sentence. They subject themselves to the heathen rites of lustration, and that with truly bigoted thoroughness, as is clearly implied by the combination of the two synonyms hammithqadd e shı̄m and hammittahărı̄m ( hithpael with an assimilated tav), which, like the Arabic qadusa and tahura , are both traceable to the radical idea ἀφορίζειν . The אל of תונּגּה־לא is to be understood as relating to the object or behoof: their intention being directed to the gardens as places of worship (Isaiah 1:29; Isaiah 65:3), ad sacra in lucis obeunda , as Shelling correctly explains. In the chethib בּתּו ך אחד אחר , the אחד (for which we may also read אחד , the form of connection, although the two pathachs of the text belong to the keri) is in all probability the hierophant , who leads the people in the performances of the rites of religious worship and as he is represented as standing in the midst ( בּתּו ך ) of the worshipping crowd that surrounds him, 'achar (behind, after) cannot be understood locally, as if they formed his train or tail, but temporally or in the way of imitation. He who stands in their midst performs the ceremonies before them, and they follow him, i.e., perform them after him. This explanation leaves nothing to be desired. The keri, 'achath , is based upon the assumption that 'achad must refer to the idol, and substitutes therefore the feminine, no doubt with an allusion to 'ăshērâh , so that battâvekh (in the midst) is to be taken as referring not to the midst of the worshipping congregation, but to the midst of the gardens. This would be quite as suitable; for even if it were not expressly stated, we should have to assume that the sacred tree of Astarte, or her statue, occupied the post of honour in the midst of the garden, and 'achar would correspond to the phrase in the Pentateuch, אחרים אלהים אחרי זנה . But the foregoing expression, sanctificantes et mundantes se (consecrating and purifying), does not favour this sense of the word 'achar (why not ל = לכבוד ?), nor do we see why the name of the goddess should be suppressed, or why she should be simply hinted at in the word אחת (one). אחד ( אחד ) has its sufficient explanation in the antithesis between the one choir-leader and the many followers; but if we take 'achath as referring to the goddess, we can find no intelligible reason or object.
Some again have taken both 'achad and 'achath to be the proper name of the idol. Ever since the time of Scaliger and Groitus, 'achad has been associated with the Phoenician ̓́Αδωδος βασιλεὺς θεῶν mentioned by Sanchuniathon in Euseb. praep. ev. 1, 10, 21, or with the Assyrian sun-god Adad, of whom Macrobius says ( Saturn. 1, 23), Ejus nominis interpretatio significat unus ; but we should expect the name of a Babylonian god here, and not of a Phoenician or Assyrian (Syrian) deity. Moreover, Macrobius' combination of the Syrian Hadad with 'achad was a mere fancy, arising from an imperfect knowledge of the language. Clericus' combination of 'achath with Hecate, who certainly appears to have been worshipped by the Harranians as a monster, though not under this name, and not in gardens (which would not have suited her character), is also untenable. Now as 'achath cannot be explained as a proper name, and the form of the statement does not favour the idea that 'achar 'achath or 'achar 'achad refers to an idol, we adopt the reading 'achad , and understand it to refer to the hierophant or mystagogue. Jerome follows the keri, and renders it post unam intrinsecus . The reading post januam is an ancient correction, which is not worth tracing to the Aramaean interpretation of 'achar 'achad , “behind a closed door,” and merely rests upon some rectification of the unintelligible post unam . The Targum renders it, “one division after another,” and omits battâvekh . The lxx, on the other hand, omits 'achar 'achad , reads ūbhattâvekh , and renders it καὶ ἐν τοῖς προθύροις (in the inner court). Symmachus and Theodoret follow the Targum and Syriac, and render it ὀπίσω ἀλλήλων , and then pointing the next word בּתו ך (which Schelling and Böttcher approve), render the rest ἐν μέσω ἐσθιόντων τὸ κρέας τὸ χοιρεῖον (in the midst of those who eat, etc.). But אכלי commences the further description of those who were indicated first of all by their zealous adoption of heathen customs. Whilst, on the one hand, they readily adopt the heathen ritual; they set themselves on the other hand, in the most daring way, altogether above the law of Jehovah, by eating swine's flesh (Isaiah 65:4) and reptiles ( sheqets , abomination, used for disgusting animals, such as lizards, snails, etc., Leviticus 7:21; Leviticus 11:11),
(Note: See Levysohn, Zoologie des Talmuds, pp. 218-9.)
and more especially the mouse (Leviticus 11:29), or according to Jerome and Zwingli the dormouse ( glis esculentus ), which the Talmud also mentions under the name דברא עכברא (wild mouse) as a dainty bit with epicures, and which was fattened, as is well known, by the Romans in their gliraria .
(Note: See Levysohn, id. pp. 108-9. A special delicacy was glires isicio porcino , dormice with pork stuffing; see Brillat-Savarin's Physiologie des Geschmacks, by C. Vogt, p. 253.)
However inward and spiritual may be the interpretation given to the law in these prophecies, yet, as we see here, the whole of it, even the laws of food, were regarded as inviolable. So long as God Himself had not taken away the hedges set about His church, every wilful attempt to break through them was a sin, which brought down His wrath and indignation.
The prophecy now marks out clearly the way which the history of Israel will take. It is the same as that set forth by Paul, the prophetic apostle, in Rom 9-11 as the winding but memorable path by which the compassion of God will reach its all-embracing end. A universal judgment is the turning-point. “And I, their works and their thoughts - it comes to pass that all nations and tongues are gathered together, that they come and see my glory.” This v. commences in any case with a harsh ellipsis. Hofmann, who regards Isaiah 66:17 as referring not to idolatrous Israelites, but to the idolatrous world outside Israel, tries to meet the difficulty by adopting this rendering: “And I, saith Jehovah, when their thoughts and actions succeed in bringing together all nations and tongues (to march against Jerusalem), they come and see my glory (i.e., the alarming manifestation of my power).” But what is the meaning of the opening ואנכי (and I), which cannot possibly strengthen the distant כּבודי , as we should be obliged to assume? Or what rule of syntax would warrant our taking בּאה וּמחשׁבתיהם מעשׂיהם as a participial clause in opposition to the accents? Again, it is impossible that ואנכי should mean “ et contra me ;” or ומחשׁבתיהם מעשׂיהם , “in spite of their works and thoughts,” as Hahn supposes, which leaves ואנכי sevael hc quite unexplained; not to mention other impossibilities which Ewald, Knobel, and others have persuaded themselves to adopt. If we wanted to get rid of the ellipsis, the explanation adopted by Hitzig would recommend itself the most strongly, viz., “and as for me, their works and thoughts have come, i.e., have become manifest ( ἥκασιν , Susanna v. 52), so that I shall gather together.” But this separation of לקבּ ץ בּאה (it is going to gather together) is improbable: moreover, according to the accents, the first clause reaches as far as ומחסבתיהם (with the twin-accent zakeph - m unach instead of zakeph and m etheg); whereupon the second clause commences with באה , which could not have any other disjunctive accent than zakeph gadol according to the well-defined rules (see, for example, Numbers 13:27). But if we admit the elliptical character of the expression, we have not to supply ידעתּי (I know), as the Targ., Syr., Saad., Ges., and others do, but, what answers much better to the strength of the emotion which explains the ellipsis, אפקד (I will punish). The ellipsis is similar in character to that of the “ Quos ego ” of Virgil (Aen. i. 139), and comes under the rhetorical figure aposiopesis: “and I, their works and thoughts (I shall now how to punish).” The thoughts are placed after the works, because the reference is more especially to their plans against Jerusalem, that work of theirs, which has still to be carried out, and which Jehovah turns into a judgment upon them. The passage might have been continued with kı̄ m ishpâtı̄ (for my judgment), like the derivative passage in Zephaniah 3:8; but the emotional hurry of the address is still preserved: בּאה (properly accented as a participle) is equivalent to העת ( בּא ) בּאה in Jeremiah 51:33; Ezekiel 7:7, Ezekiel 7:12 (cf., הבּאים , Isaiah 27:6). At the same time there is no necessity to supply anything, since באה by itself may also be taken in a neuter sense, and signify venturum ( futurum ) est (Ezekiel 39:8). The expression “peoples and tongues” (as in the genealogy of the nations in Gen. 10) is not tautological, since, although the distinctions of tongues and nationalities coincided at first, yet in the course of history they diverged from one another in many ways. All nations and all communities of men speaking the same language does Jehovah bring together (including the apostates of Israel, cf., Zechariah 14:14): these will come, viz., as Joel describes it in Joel 3:9., impelled by enmity towards Jerusalem, but not without the direction of Jehovah, who makes even what is evil subservient to His plans, and will see His glory - not the glory manifest in grace (Ewald, Umbreit, Stier, Hahn), but His majestic manifestation of judgment, by which they, viz., those who have been encoiled by sinful conduct, are completely overthrown.
But a remnant escapes; and this remnant is employed by Jehovah to promote the conversion of the Gentile world and the restoration of Israel. “And I set a sign upon them, and send away those that have escaped from them to the Gentiles to Tarshiish, Phl , and Ld , to the stretchers of the bow, Tbal and Javan - the distant islands that have not heard my fame and have not seen my glory, and they will proclaim my glory among the Gentiles. And they will bring your brethren out of all heathen nations, a sacrifice for Jehovah, upon horses and upon chariots, and upon litters and upon mules and upon dromedaries, to my holy mountain, to Jerusalem, saith Jehovah, as the children of Israel bring the meat-offering in a clear vessel to the house of Jehovah.” The majority of commentators understand v e samtı̄ bâhem 'ōth (and I set a sign upon them) as signifying, according to Exodus 10:2, that Jehovah will perform such a miraculous sign upon the assembled nations as He formerly performed upon Egypt (Hofmann), and one which will outweigh the ten Egyptian 'ōthōth and complete the destruction commenced by them. Hitzig supposes the 'ōth to refer directly to the horrible wonder connected with the battle, in which Jehovah fights against them with fire and sword (compare the parallels so far as the substance is concerned in Joel 3:14-16, Zephaniah 3:8, Ezekiel 38:18., Zechariah 14:12.). But since, according to the foregoing threat, the expression “they shall see my glory” signifies that they will be brought to experience the judicial revelation of the glory of Jehovah, if v e samtı̄ bâhem 'ōth (and I set a sign upon them) were to be understood in this judicial sense, it would be more appropriate for it to precede than to follow. Moreover, this v e samtı̄ bâhem 'ōth would be a very colourless description of what takes place in connection with the assembled army of nations. It is like a frame without a picture; and consequently Ewald and Umbreit are right in maintaining that what follows directly after is to be taken as the picture for this framework. The 'ōth (or sign) consists in the unexpected and, with this universal slaughter, the surprising fact, that a remnant is still spared, and survives this judicial revelation of glory. This marvellous rescue of individuals out of the mass is made subservient in the midst of judgment to the divine plan of salvation. those who have escaped are to bring to the far distant heathen world the tidings of Jehovah, the God who has been manifested in judgment and grace, tidings founded upon their own experience. It is evident from this, that notwithstanding the expression “all nations and tongues,” the nations that crowd together against Jerusalem and are overthrown in the attempt, are not to be understood as embracing all nations without exception, since the prophet is able to mention the names of many nations which were beyond the circle of these great events, and had been hitherto quite unaffected by the positive historical revelation, which was concentrated in Israel. By Tarshish Knobel understand the nation of the Tyrsenes, Tuscans, or Etruscans; but there is far greater propriety in looking for Tarshish, as the opposite point to 'Ophir, in the extreme west, where the name of the Spanish colony Tartessus resembles it in sound. In the middle ages Tunis was combined with this. Instead of ולוּד פּוּל we should probably read with the lxx ולוּד פּוּט , as in Ezekiel 27:10; Ezekiel 30:5. Stier decides in favour of this, whilst Hitzig and Ewald regard פול as another form of פוט . The epithet קשׁת משׁכי (drawers of the bow) is admirably adapted to the inhabitants of Pūt , since this people of the early Egyptian Phet ( Phaiat) is represented ideographically upon the monuments by nine bows. According to Josephus, Ant. i. 6, 2, a river of Mauritania was called Phout, and the adjoining country Phoute; and this is confirmed by other testimonies. As Lud is by no means to be understood as referring to the Lydians of Asia Minor here, if only because they could not well be included among the nations of the farthest historico-geographical horizon in a book which traces prophetically the victorious career of Cyrus, but signifies rather the undoubtedly African tribe, the לוד which Ezekiel mentions in Isaiah 30:5 among the nations under Egyptian rule, and in Isaiah 27:10 among the auxiliaries of the Tyrians, and which Jeremiah notices in Jeremiah 46:9 along with Put as armed with bows; Put and Lud form a fitting pair in this relation also, whereas Pul is never met with again. The Targum renders it by פּוּלאי , i.e., (according to Bochart) inhabitants of Φιλαί , a Nile island of Upper Egypt, which Strabo (xvii. 1, 49) calls “a common abode of Ethiopians and Egyptians” (see Parthey's work, De Philis insula); and this is at any rate better than Knobel's supposition, that either Apulia (which was certainly called Pul by the Jews of the middle ages) or Lower Italy is intended here. Tubal stands for the Tibarenes on the south-east coast of the Black Sea, the neighbours of the Moschi ( משׁ ך ), with whom they are frequently associated by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 27:13; Ezekiel 38:2-3; Ezekiel 39:1); according to Josephus ( Ant. i. 6, 1), the (Caucasian) Iberians. Javan is a name given to the Greeks, from the aboriginal tribe of the Bawones. The eye is now directed towards the west: the “isles afar off” are the islands standing out of the great western sea (the Mediterranean), and the coastlands that project into it. To all these nations, which have hitherto known nothing of the God of revelation, either through the hearing of the word or through their own experience, Jehovah sends those who have escaped; and they make known His glory there, that glory the judicial manifestation of which they have just seen for themselves.
The prophet is speaking here of the ultimate completion of the conversion of the Gentiles; for elsewhere this appeared to him as the work of the Servant of Jehovah, for which Cyrus the oppressor of the nations prepared the soil. His standpoint here resembles that of the apostle in Romans 11:25, who describes the conversion of the heathen world and the rescue of all Israel as facts belonging to the future; although at the time when he wrote this, the evangelization of the heathen foretold by our prophet in Isaiah 42:1. was already progressing most rapidly. A direct judicial act of God Himself will ultimately determine the entrance of the Pleroma of the Gentiles into the kingdom of God, and this entrance of the fulness of the Gentiles will then lead to the recovery of the diaspora of Israel, since the heathen, when won by the testimony borne to Jehovah by those who have been saved, “bring your brethren out of all nations.” On the means employed to carry this into effect, including kirkârōth , a species of camels (female camels), which derives its name from its rapid swaying motion, see the Lexicons.
(Note: The lxx render it σκιαδίων , i.e., probably palanquins. Jerome observes on this, quae nos dormitoria interpretari possumus vel basternas . (On this word, with which the name of the Bastarnians as ̔Αμαξόβιοι is connected, see Hahnel's Bedeutung der Bastarner für das german. Alterthum, 1865, p. 34.))
The words are addressed, as in Isaiah 66:5, to the exiles of Babylonia. The prophet presupposes that his countrymen are dispersed among all nations to the farthest extremity of the geographical horizon. In fact, the commerce of the Israelites, which had extended as far as India and Spain ever since the time of Solomon, the sale of Jewish prisoners as slaves to Phoenicians, Edomites, and Greeks in the time of king Joram (Obadiah 1:20; Joel 3:6; Amos 1:6), the Assyrian captivities, the free emigrations - for example, of those who stayed behind in the land after the destruction of Jerusalem and then went down to Egypt - had already scattered the Israelites over the whole of the known world (see at Isaiah 49:12). Umbreit is of opinion that the prophet calls all the nations who had turned to Jehovah “brethren of Israel,” and represents them as marching in the most motley grouping to the holy city. In that case those who were brought upon horses, chariots, etc., would be proselytes; but who would bring them? This explanation is opposed not only to numerous parallels in Isaiah, such as Isaiah 60:4, but also to the abridgment of the passage in Zephaniah 3:10: “From the other side of the rivers of Ethiopia (taken from Isaiah 18:1-7) will they offer my worshippers, the daughters of my dispersed ones, to me for a holy offering.” It is the diaspora of Israel to which the significant name “my worshippers, the daughters of my dispersed ones,” is there applied. The figure hinted at in m inchâtı̄ (my holy offering) is given more elaborately here in the book of Isaiah, viz., “as the children of Israel are accustomed ( fut. as in Isaiah 6:2) to offer the meat-offering” (i.e., that which was to be placed upon the altar as such, viz., wheaten flour, incense, oil, the grains of the first-fruits of wheat, etc.) “in a pure vessel to the house of Jehovah,” not in the house of Jehovah, for the point of comparison is not the presentation in the temple, but the bringing to the temple. The minchah is the diaspora of Israel, and the heathen who have become vessels of honour correspond to the clean vessels.
The latter, having been incorporated into the priestly congregation of Jehovah (Isaiah 61:6), are not even excluded from the priestly and Levitical service of the sanctuary. “And I will also add some of them to the priests, to the Levites, saith Jehovah.” Hitzig and Knobel suppose m ēhem to refer to the Israelites thus brought home. But in this case something would be promised, which needed no promise at all, since the right of the native cohen and Levites to take part in the priesthood and temple service was by no means neutralized by their sojourn in a foreign land. And even if the meaning were that Jehovah would take those who were brought home for priests and Levites, without regard to their Aaronic or priestly descent, or (as Jewish commentators explain it) without regard to the apostasy, of which through weakness they had made themselves guilty among the heathen; this ought to be expressly stated. But as there is nothing said about any such disregard of priestly descent or apostasy, and what is here promised must be something extraordinary, and not self-evident, meehem must refer to the converted heathen, by whom the Israelites had been brought home. Many Jewish commentators even are unable to throw off the impression thus made by the expression m ēhem (of them); but they attempt to get rid of the apparent discrepancy between this statement and the Mosaic law, by understanding by the Gentiles those who had been originally Israelites of Levitical and Aaronic descent, and whom Jehovah would single out again. David Friedländer and David Ottensosser interpret it quite correctly thus: “ Mēhem , i.e., of those heathen who bring them home, will He take for priests and Levites, for all will be saints of Jehovah; and therefore He has just compared them to a clean vessel, and the Israelites offered by their hand to a m inchâh .” The majority of commentators do not even ask the question, in what sense the prophet uses lakkōhănı̄m lal e vayyim (to the priests, to the Levites) with the article. Joseph Kimchi, however, explains it thus: “ הכהנים לצורך , to the service of the priests, the Levites, so that they (the converted heathen) take the place of the Gibeonites (cf., Zechariah 14:21), and therefore of the former Cananaean n e thı̄nı̄m ” (see Köhler, Nach-exil. Proph. iii. p. 39). But so interpreted, the substance of the promise falls behind the expectation aroused by מהם וגם . Hofmann has adopted a more correct explanation, viz.: “God rewards them for this offering, by taking priests to Himself out of the number of the offering priests, who are added as such to the Levitical priests.” Apart, however, from the fact that ללוים לכהנים cannot well signify “for Levitical priests” according to the Deuteronomic הכהנים , since this would require הלוים לכהנים (inasmuch as such permutative and more precisely defining expressions as Genesis 19:9; Joshua 8:24 cannot be brought into comparison); the idea “in addition to the priests, to the Levites,” is really implied in the expression (cf., Isaiah 56:8), as they would say לאשּׁה לקח and not לאשׁה , and would only use לנּשׁים לקח in the sense of adding to those already there. The article presupposes the existence of priests, Levites ( asyndeton , as in Isaiah 38:14; Isaiah 41:29; Isaiah 66:5), to whom Jehovah adds some taken from the heathen. When the heathen shall be converted, and Israel brought back, the temple service will demand a more numerous priesthood and Levitehood than ever before; and Jehovah will then increase the number of those already existing, not only from the מובאים , but from the מביאים also. The very same spirit, which broke through all the restraints of the law in Isaiah 56:1-12, is to be seen at work here as well. Those who suppose mēhem to refer to the Israelites are wrong in saying that there is no other way, in which the connection with Isaiah 66:22 can be made intelligible. Friedländer had a certain feeling of what was right, when he took Isaiah 66:21 to be a parenthesis and connected Isaiah 66:22 with Isaiah 66:20. There is no necessity for any parenthesis, however. The reason which follows, relates to the whole of the previous promise, including Isaiah 66:21; the election of Israel, as Hofmann observes, being equally confirmed by the fact that the heathen exert themselves to bring back the diaspora of Israel to their sacred home, and also by the fact that the highest reward granted to them is, that some of them are permitted to take part in the priestly and Levitical service of the sanctuary.
“For as the new heaven and the new earth, which I am about to make, continue before me, saith Jehovah, so will your family and your name continue.” The great mass of the world of nations and of Israel also perish; but the seed and name of Israel, i.e., Israel as a people with the same ancestors and an independent name, continues for ever, like the new heaven and the new earth; and because the calling of Israel towards the world of nations is now fulfilled and everything has become new, the former fencing off of Israel from other nations comes to an end, and the qualification for priesthood and Levitical office in the temple of God is no longer merely natural descent, but inward nobility. The new heaven and the new earth, God's approaching creation ( quae facturus sum ), continue eternally before Him ( l e phânai as in Isaiah 49:16), for the old ones pass away because they do not please God; but these are pleasing to Him, and are eternally like His love, whose work and image they are. The prophet here thinks of the church of the future as being upon a new earth and under a new heaven. But he cannot conceive of the eternal in the form of eternity; all that he can do is to conceive of it as the endless continuance of the history of time.
“And it will come to pass: from new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh will come, to worship before me, saith Jehovah.” New moons and Sabbaths will still be celebrated therefore; and the difference is simply this, that just as all Israel once assembled in Jerusalem at the three great feasts, all flesh now journey to Jerusalem every new moon and every Sabbath. דּי (construct דּי ) signifies that which suffices, then that which is plentiful (see Isaiah 40:16), that which is due or fitting, so that ( שׁבת ) חדשׁ מדּי (with a temporal, not an explanatory min, as Gesenius supposes) signifies “from the time when, or as often as what is befitting to the new moon (or Sabbath) occurs” (cf., Isaiah 28:19). If ( בשׁבת ) בחדשׁ be added, בּ is that of exchange: as often as new moon (Sabbath) for new moon (Sabbath) is befitting, i.e., ought to occur: 1 Samuel 7:16; Zechariah 14:16 (cf., 1 Samuel 1:7; 1 Kings 10:25; 1 Chronicles 27:1: “year by year,” “month by month”). When we find ( בּשׁבּתּו ) בּחדשׁו as we do here, the meaning is, “as often as it has to occur on one new moon (or Sabbath) after the other,” i.e., in the periodical succession of one after another. At the same time it might be interpreted in accordance with 1 Kings 8:59, בּיומו יום דּבר , which does not mean the obligation of one day after the other, but rather “of a day on the fitting day” (cf., Numbers 28:10, Numbers 28:14), although the meaning of change and not of a series might be sustained in the passage before us by the suffixless mode of expression which occurs in connection with it.
They who go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem every new moon and Sabbath, see there with their own eyes the terrible punishment of the rebellious. “And they go out and look at the corpses of the men that have rebelled against me, for their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched, and they become an abomination to all flesh.” They perfects are perf. cons. regulated by the foregoing יבוא . ויצאוּ (accented with pashta in our editions, but more correctly with m unach) refers to their going out of the holy city. The prophet had predicted in Isaiah 66:18, that in the last times the whole multitude of the enemies of Jerusalem would be crowded together against it, in the hope of getting possession of it. This accounts for the fact that the neighbourhood of Jerusalem becomes such a scene of divine judgment. בּ ראה always denotes a fixed, lingering look directed to any object; here it is connected with the grateful feeling of satisfaction at the righteous acts of God and their own gracious deliverance. דראון , which only occurs again in Daniel 12:2, is the strongest word for “abomination.” It is very difficult to imagine the picture which floated before the prophet's mind. How is it possible that all flesh, i.e., all men of all nations, should find room in Jerusalem and the temple? Even if the city and temple should be enlarged, as Ezekiel and Zechariah predict, the thing itself still remains inconceivable. And again, how can corpses be eaten by worms at the same time as they are being burned, or how can they be the endless prey of worms and fire without disappearing altogether from the sight of man? It is perfectly obvious, that the thing itself, as here described, must appear monstrous and inconceivable, however we may suppose it to be realized. The prophet, by the very mode of description adopted by him, precludes the possibility of our conceiving of the thing here set forth as realized in any material form in this present state. He is speaking of the future state, but in figures drawn from the present world. The object of his prediction is no other than the new Jerusalem of the world to come, and the eternal torment of the damned; but the way in which he pictures it, forces us to translate it out of the figures drawn from this life into the realities of the life to come; as has already been done in the apocryphal books of Judith (16:17) and Wisdom (7:17), as well as in the New Testament, e.g., Mark 9:43., with evident reference to this passage. This is just the distinction between the Old Testament and the New, that the Old Testament brings down the life to come to the level of this life, whilst the New Testament lifts up this life to the level of the life to come; that the Old Testament depicts both this life and the life to come as an endless extension of this life, whilst the New Testament depicts is as a continuous line in two halves, the last point in this finite state being the first point of the infinite state beyond; that the Old Testament preserves the continuity of this life and the life to come by transferring the outer side, the form, the appearance of this life to the life to come, the New Testament by making the inner side, the nature, the reality of the life to come, the δυνάμεις μ ε λλοντος αἰῶνος , immanent in this life. The new Jerusalem of our prophet has indeed a new heaven above it and a new earth under it, but it is only the old Jerusalem of earth lifted up to its highest glory and happiness; whereas the new Jerusalem of the Apocalypse comes down from heaven, and is therefore of heavenly nature. In the former dwells the Israel that has been brought back from captivity; in the latter, the risen church of those who are written in the book of life. And whilst our prophet transfers the place in which the rebellious are judged to the neighbourhood of Jerusalem itself; in the Apocalypse, the lake of fire in which the life of the ungodly is consumed, and the abode of God with men, are for ever separated. The Hinnom-valley outside Jerusalem has become Gehenna, and this is no longer within the precincts of the new Jerusalem, because there is no need of any such example to the righteous who are for ever perfect.
In the lessons prepared for the synagogue Isaiah 66:23 is repeated after Isaiah 66:24, on account of the terrible character of the latter, “so as to close with words of consolation.”
(Note: Isaiah is therefore regarded as an exception to the rule, that the prophets close their orations ותנחומים שבח בדברי ( b. Berachoth 31 a), although, on the other hand, this exception is denied by some, on the ground that the words “they shall be an abhorring” apply to the Gentiles ( j. Berachoth c. V. Anf. Midras Tillim on Psalms 4:8).)
But the prophet, who has sealed the first two sections of these prophetic orations with the words, “there is no peace to the wicked,” intentionally closes the third section with this terrible picture of their want of peace. The promises have gradually soared into the clear light of the eternal glory, to the new creation in eternity; and the threatenings have sunk down to the depth of eternal torment, which is the eternal foil of the eternal light. More than this we could not expect from our prophet. His threefold book is now concluded. It consists of twenty-seven orations. The central one of the whole, i.e., the fourteenth, is Isaiah 52:13-53:12; so that the cross forms the centre of this prophetic trilogy. Per crucem ad lucem is its watchword. The self-sacrifice of the Servant of Jehovah lays the foundation for a new Israel, a new human race, a new heaven and a new earth.