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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 9". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ kdo/ isaiah-9.html. 1854-1889.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Isaiah 9". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
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After the prophet has thus depicted the people as without morning dawn, he gives the reason for the assumption that a restoration of light is to be expected, although not for the existing generation. “For it does not remain dark where there is now distress: in the first time He brought into disgrace the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and in the last He brings to honour the road by the sea, the other side of Jordan, the circle of the Gentiles.” כּי is neither to be taken as equivalent to the untranslatable ὃτι recitativum (Knobel), nor is there any necessity to translate it “but” or “nevertheless,” and supply the clause, “it will not remain so.” The reason assigned for the fact that the unbelieving people of Judah had fallen into a night without morning, is, that there was a morning coming, whose light, however, would not rise upon the land of Judah first, but upon other parts of the land. Mū‛âp and m ūzâk are hophal nouns: a state of darkness and distress. The meaning is, There is not, i.e., there will not remain, a state of darkness over the land ( lâh , like bâh in Isaiah 8:21, refers to 'eretz ), which is now in a state of distress; but those very districts which God has hitherto caused to suffer deep humiliation He will bring to honour by and by ( hēkal = hēkēl , according to Ges. §67, Anm. 3, opp. hicbı̄d , as in Isaiah 23:9). The height of the glorification would correspond to the depth of the disgrace. We cannot adopt Knobel's rendering, “as at a former time,” etc., taking עת as an accusative of time and כּ as equivalent to כּאשׁר , for כּ is never used conjunctionally in this way (see Psalter, i. 301, and ii. 514); and in the examples adduced by Knobel (viz., Isaiah 61:11 and Job 7:2), the verbal clauses after Caph are elliptical relative clauses. The rendering adopted by Rosenmüller and others ( sicut tempus prius vilem reddidit , etc., “as a former time brought it into contempt”) is equally wrong. And Ewald, again, is not correct in taking the Vav in v'hâ - acharōn as the Vav of sequence used in the place of the Cēn of comparison. הראשׁון כּעת and האחרון are both definitions of time. The prophet intentionally indicates the time of disgrace with כּ , because this would extend over a lengthened period, in which the same fate would occur again and again. The time of glorification, on the other hand, is indicated by the accus. temporis, because it would occur but once, and then continue in perpetuity and without change. It is certainly possible that the prophet may have regarded hâ - acharōn as the subject; but this would destroy the harmony of the antithesis. By the land or territory of Naphtali ( ' artzâh , poet. for 'eretz , as in Job 34:13; Job 37:12, with a toneless ah ) we are to understand the upper Galilee of later times, and by the land of Zebulun lower Galilee. In the antithetical parallel clause, what is meant by the two lands is distinctly specified: (1.) “the road by the sea,” derek hayyâm , the tract of land on the western shore of the sea of Chinnereth; (2.) “the other side of Jordan,” ‛ēber hayyardēn , the country to the east of the Jordan; (3.) “the circle of the Gentiles,” gelı̄l haggōyim , the northernmost border-land of Palestine, only a portion of the so-called Galilaea of after times. Ever since the times of the judges, all these lands had been exposed, on account of the countries that joined them, to corruption from Gentile influence and subjugation by heathen foes. The northern tribes on this side, as well as those on the other side, suffered the most in the almost incessant war between Israel and the Syrians, and afterwards between Israel and the Assyrians; and the transportation of their inhabitants, which continued under Pul, Tiglath-pileser, and Shalmanassar, amounted at last to utter depopulation (Caspari, Beitr. 116-118). But these countries would be the very first that would be remembered when that morning dawn of glory should break. Matthew informs us (Matthew 4:13.) in what way this was fulfilled at the commencement of the Christian times. On the ground of this prophecy of Isaiah, and not of a “somewhat mistaken exposition of it,” as Renan maintains in his Vie de Jésus (Chapter 13), the Messianic hopes of the Jewish nation were really directed towards Galilee.
(Note: The Zohar was not the first to teach that the Messiah would appear in Galilee, and that redemption would break forth from Tiberias; but this is found in the Talmud and Midrash (see Litteratur-blatt des Orients, 1843, Col. 776).)
It is true that, according to Jerome, in loc., the Nazarenes supposed Isaiah 9:1 to refer to the light of the gospel spread by the preaching of Paul in terminos gentium et viam universi maris . But “the sea” ( hayyâm ) cannot possibly be understood as referring to the Mediterranean, as Meier and Hofmann suppose, for “the way of the sea” ( derek hayyâm ) would in that case have been inhabited by the Philistines and Phoenicians; whereas the prophet's intention was evidently to mention such Israelitish provinces as had suffered the greatest affliction and degradation.
The range of vision is first widened in Isaiah 9:2.: “The people that walk about in darkness see a great light; they who dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light shines.” The range of vision is here extended; not to the Gentiles, however, but to all Israel. Salvation would not break forth till it had become utterly dark along the horizon of Israel, according to the description in Isaiah 5:30, i.e., till the land of Jehovah had become a land of the shadow of death on account of the apostasy of its inhabitants from Jehovah ( zalmâveth is modified, after the manner of a composite noun, from zalmūth , according to the form kadrūth , and is derived from צלם , Aeth. salema , Arab. zalima , to be dark).
(Note: The shadow or shade, zēl , Arab. zill (radically related to tall = טל , dew), derived its name ab obtegendo , and according to the idea attached to it as the opposite of heat or of light, was used as a figure of a beneficent shelter (Isaiah 16:3), or of what was dark and horrible (cf., Targ. tallâni , a night-demon). The verb zâlam , in the sense of the Arabic zalima , bears the same relation to zâlal as bâham to bâhâh ( Gen. p. 93), ‛âram , to be naked, to ‛ârâh ( Jeshurun, p. 159). The noun zelem , however, is either formed from this zâlam , or else directly from zēl , with the substantive termination em.)
The apostate mass of the nation is to be regarded as already swept away; for if death has cast its shadow over the land, it must be utterly desolate. In this state of things the remnant left in the land beholds a great light, which breaks through the sky that has been hitherto covered with blackness. The people, who turned their eyes upwards to no purpose, because they did so with cursing (Isaiah 8:21), are now no more. It is the remnant of Israel which sees this light of spiritual and material redemption arise above its head. In what this light would consist the prophet states afterwards, when describing first the blessings and then the star of the new time.
In Isaiah 9:3 he says, in words of thanksgiving and praise: “Thou multipliest the nation, preparest it great joy; they rejoice before Thee like the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they share the spoil.” “The nation” ( haggoi ) is undoubtedly Israel, reduced to a small remnant. That God would make this again into a numerous people, was a leading feature in the pictures drawn of the time of glory (Isaiah 26:15; Isaiah 66:8; Zechariah 14:10-11), which would be in this respect the counterpart of that of Solomon (1 Kings 4:20). If our explanation is the correct one so far, the only way to give an intelligible meaning to the chethib לא , taking it in a negative sense, is to render it, as Hengstenberg, Hitzig, and others have done, “Thou multipliest the nation to which Thou hadst formerly not given great joy,” which must signify, per litoten , “the nation which Thou hadst plunged into deep sorrow.” But it is unnatural to take any one of the prophetic preterites, commencing with hicbı̄d in Isaiah 9:1, in any other than a future sense. We must therefore give the preference to the Keri לו , and render it, “Thou makest of the nation a great multitude, and preparest it great joy.” The pronoun loo is written first, as in Leviticus 7:7-9; Job 41:4 ( keri), probably with the emphasis assumed by Drechsler: “to it, in which there was not the smallest indication of such an issue as this.” The verbs “multiplied” ( higdaltâ ) and “increased” ( hirbithâ ) are intentionally written together, to put the intensity of the joy on a level with the extensiveness of the multitude. This joy would be a holy joy, as the expression “before Thee” implies: the expression itself recals the sacrificial meals in the courts of the temple (Deuteronomy 12:7; Deuteronomy 14:26). It would be a joy over blessings received, as the figure of the harvest indicates; and joy over evil averted, as the figure of dividing the spoil presupposes: for the division of booty is the business of conquerors. This second figure is not merely a figure: the people that are so joyous are really victorious and triumphant.
(Note: On the passages in which לא chethib is לו keri, see at Psalms 100:3 and Job 13:15.)
“For the yoke of its burden and the stick of its neck, the stick of its oppressor, Thou hast broken to splinters, as in the day of Midian.” The suffixes refer to the people ( hâēâm ). Instead of soblō , from sōbel , we have intentionally the more musical form סבּלו (with dagesh dirimens and chateph kametz under the influence of the previous u instead of the simple sheva). The rhythm of the v. of anapaestic. “ Its burden ” ( subbolo ) and “its oppressor” ( nogēs bō ) both recall to mind the Egyptian bondage (Exodus 2:11; Exodus 5:6). The future deliverance, which the prophet here celebrates, would be the counterpart of the Egyptian. But as the whole of the great nation of Israel was then redeemed, whereas only a small remnant would participate in the final redemption, he compares it to the day of Midian, when Gideon broke the seven years' dominion of Midian, not with a great army, but with a handful of resolute warriors, strong in the Lord (Judg 7). The question suggests itself here, Who is the hero, Gideon's antitype, through whom all this is to occur? The prophet does not say; but building up one clause upon another with כּי , he gives first of all the reason for the cessation of the oppressive dominion of the imperial power - namely, the destruction of all the military stores of the enemy.
“For every boot of those who tramp with boots in the tumult of battle, and cloak rolled in blood, shall be for burning, a food of fire.” That which is the food of fire becomes at the same time a sĕrēphâh , inasmuch as the devouring fire reduces it to ashes, and destroys its previous existence. This closing statement requires for סאון the concrete sense of a combustible thing; and this precludes such meanings as business ( Handel und Wandel), noise, or din (= שׁאון , Jerome, Syriac, Rashi, and others). On the other hand, the meaning “military equipment,” adopted by Knobel and others - a meaning derived from a comparison of the derivatives of the Aramaean zūn , ăzan , and the Arabic zâna , fut. yezı̄n (to dress or equip) - would be quite admissible; at the same time, the interchange of Samech and Zain in this word cannot be dialectically established. Jos. Kimchi has very properly referred to the Targum sēn , m esân (Syr. also sâūn with an essentially long a), which signifies shoe (see Bynaeus, de calceo Hebraeorum) - a word which is more Aramaean than Hebrew, and the use of which in the present connection might be explained on the ground that the prophet had in his mind the annihilation of the Assyrian forces. We should no doubt expect sâ'ūn ( sandaloumenos ) instead of sō'ēn ; but the denom. verb sâ'ăn might be applied to a soldier's coming up in military boots, and so signify Caligatum venire , although the primary meaning is certainly Calceare se (e.g., Ephesians 6:15, Syr.). Accordingly we should render it, “every boot of him who comes booted ( des Einherstiefelnden ) into the tumult of battle,” taking the word ra‛ash , not as Drechsler does, in the sense of the noise made by a warrior coming up proudly in his war-boots, nor with Luzzatto in the sense of the war-boot itself, for which the word is too strong, but as referring to the noise or tumult of battle (as in Jeremiah 10:22), in the midst of which the man comes up equipped or shod for military service. The prophet names the boot and garment with an obvious purpose. The destruction of the hostile weapons follows as a matter of course, if even the military shoes, worn by the soldiers in the enemies' ranks, and the military cloaks that were lying in dâmim , i.e., in blood violently shed upon the battle-field, were all given up to the fire.
Upon the two sentences with ci the prophet now builds a third. The reason for the triumph is the deliverance effected; and the reason for the deliverance, the destruction of the foe; and the reason for all the joy, all the freedom, all the peace, is the new great King. - “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government rests upon His shoulder: and they call His name, Wonder, Counsellor, mighty God, Eternal-Father, Prince of Peace.” The same person whom the prophet foretold in chapter 7 as the son of the virgin who would come to maturity in troublous times, he here sees as born, and as having already taken possession of the government. There he appeared as a sign, here as a gift of grace. The prophet does not expressly say that he is a son of David in this instance any more than in chapter 7 (for the remark that has been recently made, that yeled is used here for “infant-prince,” is absurd); but this followed as a matter of course, from the fact that he was to bear the government, with all its official rights (Isaiah 22:22) and godlike majesty (Psalms 21:6), upon his shoulder; for the inviolable promise of eternal sovereignty, of which the new-born infant was to be the glorious fulfilment, had been bound up with the seed of David in the course of Israel's history ever since the declaration in 2 Sam 7. In chapter 7 it is the mother who names the child; here it is the people, or indeed any one who rejoices in him: ויּקרא , “one calls, they call, he is called,” as Luther has correctly rendered it, though under the mistaken idea that the Jews had altered the original ויּקּרא into ויּקרא , for the purpose of eliminating the Messianic sense of the passage. But the active verb itself has really been twisted by Jewish commentators in this way; so that Rashi, Kimchi, Malbim, and others follow the Targum, and explain the passage as meaning, “the God, who is called and is Wonder,' Counsellor, the mighty God, the eternal Father, calls his name the Prince of Peace;” but this rendering evidently tears asunder things that are closely connected. And Luzzatto has justly observed, that you do not expect to find attributes of God here, but such as would be characteristic of the child. He therefore renders the passage, “God the mighty, the eternal Father, the Prince of Peace, resolves upon wonderful things,” and persuades himself that this long clause is meant for the proper name of the child, just as in other cases declaratory clauses are made into proper names, e.g., the names of the prophet's two sons. But even granting that such a sesquipedalian name were possible, in what an unskilful manner would the name be formed, since the long-winded clause, which would necessarily have to be uttered in one breath, would resolve itself again into separate clauses, which are not only names themselves, but, contrary to all expectation, names of God! The motive which prompted Luzzatto to adopt this original interpretation is worthy of notice. He had formerly endeavoured, like other commentators, to explain the passage by taking the words from “Wonderful” to “Prince of Peace” as the name of the child; and in doing this he rendered יועץ פלא “one counselling wonderful things,” thus inverting the object, and regarded “mighty God” as well as “eternal Father” as hyperbolical expressions, like the words applied to the King in Psalms 45:7. But now he cannot help regarding it as absolutely impossible for a human child to be called el gibbor , like God Himself in Isaiah 10:21. So far as the relation between his novel attempt at exposition and the accentuation is concerned, it certainly does violence to this, though not to such an extent as the other specimen of exegetical leger-demain, which makes the clause from פלא to אבי־עד the subject to ויקרא . Nevertheless, in the face of the existing accentuation, we must admit that the latter is, comparatively speaking, the better of the two; for if שמו ויקרא were intended to be the introduction to the list of names which follows, שׁמו would not be pointed with geresh , but with zakeph . The accentuators seem also to have shrunk from taking el gibbor as the name of a man. They insert intermediate points, as though “eternal Father, Prince of Peace,” were the name of the child, and all that precedes, from “Wonder” onwards, the name of God, who would call him by these two honourable names. But, at the very outset, it is improbable that there should be two names instead of one or more; and it is impossible to conceive for what precise reason such a periphrastic description of God should be employed in connection with the naming of this child, as is not only altogether different from Isaiah's usual custom, but altogether unparalleled in itself, especially without the definite article. The names of God should at least have been defined thus, הגּבּור פּלא היּועץ , so as to distinguish them from the two names of the child.
Even assuming, therefore, that the accentuation is meant to convey this sense, “And the wonderful Counsellor, the mighty God, calls his name Eternal-Father, Prince of Peace,” as appears to be the case; we must necessarily reject it, as resting upon a misunderstanding and misinterpretation.
(Note: The telisha in פלא is the smallest of all disjunctive accents; the geresh in שׁמו separates rather more strongly than this; the pashta in יועץ separates somewhat more than the other two, but less than the zakeph in גבור ; and this zakeph is the greatest divider in the sentence. The whole sentence, therefore, distributes itself in the following manner: אבי־עד גבור אל יועץ פלא שׁמו ויקרא שׂר־שלום . All the words from ויקרא onwards are subordinate to the zakeph attached to גבור , which is, to all appearance, intended to have the force of an introductory colon: as, for example, in 2 Samuel 18:5 (in the case of לאמר in the clause לאמר ואת־אתי ואת־אבישי יואב ). In smaller subdivisions, again, פלא ( telisha) is connected with יועץ ( pashta), and both together with גבור אל ( munach zakeph). If only sar shalom (Prince of Peace) were intended as the name of the child, it would necessarily be accentuated in the following manner: שמו ויקרא kadma geresh , יועץ פלא teilsha gershayim , גבור אל m ercha tebir , עד אבי tifchah , שׂר־שׁלו ם silluk; and the principal disjunctive would stand at עד instead of גבור . But if the name of the child were intended to form a declaratory clause, commencing with יועץ פלא , “determines wonderful things,” as Luzzatto assumes, we should expect to find a stronger disjunctive than telisha at פלא , the watchword of the whole; and above all, we should expect a zakeph at שׁמו , and not at גבור . This also applies to our (the ordinary) explanation. It does not correspond to the accentuation. The introductory words שׁמו ויקרא ought to have a stronger distinctive accent, in order that all which follows might stand as the name which they introduce. Francke (see Psalter, ii. 521) perceived this, and in his Abyssus mysteriorum Esa (ix. 6) he lays great stress upon the fact, that God who gives the name has Himself a threefold name.)
We regard the whole, from פלא onwards - as the connection, the expression, and the syntax require - as a dependent accusative predicate to שמו ויקרא (they call his name), which stands at the head (compare קרא , they call, it is called, in Genesis 11:9; Genesis 16:14; Joshua 7:26, and above Isaiah 8:4, ישׂא , they will carry: Ges. §137, 3). If it be urged, as an objection to the Messianic interpretation of Isaiah 7:14-15, that the Christ who appeared was not named Immanuel, but Jesus, this objection is sufficiently met by the fact that He did not receive as a proper name any one of the five names by which, according to this second prophecy, He was to be called. Moreover, this objection would apply quite as strongly to the notion, which has been a very favourite one with Jewish commentators (e.g., Rashi, A. E. Kimchi, Abravanel, Malbim, Luzzatto, and others), and even with certain Christian commentators (such as Grotius, Gesenius, etc.), that the prophecy refers to Hezekiah - a notion which is a disgrace to those who thereby lead both themselves and others astray. For even if the hopes held out in the prophecy were attached for a long time to Hezekiah, the mistake was but too quickly discovered; whereas the commentators in question perpetuate the mistake, by forcing it upon the prophecy itself, although the prophet, even after the deception had been outlived, not only did not suppress the prophecy, but handed it down to succeeding ages as awaiting a future and infallible fulfilment. For the words in their strict meaning point to the Messiah, whom men may for a time, with pardonable error, have hoped to find in Hezekiah, but whom, with unpardonable error, men refused to acknowledge, even when He actually appeared in Jesus. The name Jesus is the combination of all the Old Testament titles used to designate the Coming One according to His nature and His works. The names contained in Isaiah 7:14 and Isaiah 9:6 are not thereby suppressed; but they have continued, from the time of Mary downwards, in the mouths of all believers. There is not one of these names under which worship and homage have not been paid to Him. But we never find them crowded together anywhere else, as we do here in Isaiah; and in this respect also our prophet proves himself the greatest of the Old Testament evangelists.
The first name is פּלא , or perhaps more correctly פּלא , which is not to be taken in connection with the next word, יועץ , though this construction might seem to commend itself in accordance with עצה הפליא , in Isaiah 28:29. This is the way in which it has been taken by the Seventy and others (thus lxx, θαυμαστὸς σύμβουλος ; Theodoret, θαυμαστῶς βουλεύων ). If we adopted this explanation, we might regard יועץ פלא as an inverted form for פלא יועץ : counselling wonderful things. The possibility of such an inversion is apparent from Isaiah 22:2, מלאה תשׁאות , i.e., full of tumult. Or, following the analogy of pere' âdâm (a wild man) in Genesis 16:12, we might regard it as a genitive construction: a wonder of a counsellor; in which case the disjunctive teilshâh gedolâh in pele' would have to be exchanged for a connecting m ahpach . Both combinations have their doubtful points, and, so far as the sense is concerned, would lead us rather to expect עצה מפליא ; whereas there is nothing at all to prevent our taking פלא and יועץ as two separate names (not even the accentuation, which is without parallel elsewhere, so far as the combination of pashta with teilshah is concerned, and therefore altogether unique). Just as the angel of Jehovah, when asked by Manoah what was his name (Judges 13:18), replied פּלי ( פּלאי ), and indicated thereby his divine nature - a nature incomprehensible to mortal men; so here the God-given ruler is also pele' , a phenomenon lying altogether beyond human conception or natural occurrence. Not only is this or that wonderful in Him; but He Himself is throughout a wonder - παραδοξασμός , as Symmachus renders it. The second name if yō‛ētz , counsellor, because, by virtue of the spirit of counsel which He possesses (Isaiah 11:2), He can always discern and given counsel for the good of His nation. There is no need for Him to surround Himself with counsellors; but without receiving counsel at all, He counsels those that are without counsel, and is thus the end of all want of counsel to His nation as a whole. The third name, El gibbor , attributes divinity to Him. Not, indeed, if we render the words “Strength, Hero,” as Luther does; or “Hero of Strength,” as Meier has done; or “a God of a hero,” as Hofmann proposes; or “Hero-God,” i.e., one who fights and conquers like an invincible god, as Ewald does. But all these renderings, and others of a similar kind, founder, without needing any further refutation, on Isaiah 10:21, where He, to whom the remnant of Israel will turn with penitence, is called El gibbor (the mighty God). There is no reason why we should take El in this name of the Messiah in any other sense than in Immanu - El ; not to mention the fact that El in Isaiah is always a name of God, and that the prophet was ever strongly conscious of the antithesis between El and âdâm , as Isaiah 31:3 (cf., Hosea 11:9) clearly shows. And finally, El gibbor was a traditional name of God, which occurs as early as Deuteronomy 10:17, cf., Jeremiah 32:18; Nehemiah 9:32; Psalms 24:8, etc. The name gibbor is used here as an adjective, like shaddai in El shaddai . The Messiah, then, is here designated “mighty God.” Undoubtedly this appears to go beyond the limits of the Old Testament horizon; but what if it should go beyond them? It stands written once for all, just as in Jeremiah 23:6 Jehovah Zidkenu (Jehovah our Righteousness) is also used as a name of the Messiah - a Messianic name, which even the synagogue cannot set aside (vid., Midrash Mishle 57 a, where this is adduced as one of the eight names of the Messiah). Still we must not go too far. If we look at the spirit of the prophecy, the mystery of the incarnation of God is unquestionably indicated in such statements as these. But if we look at the consciousness of the prophet himself, nothing further was involved than this, that the Messiah would be the image of God as no other man ever had been (cf., El , Psalms 82:1), and that He would have God dwelling within Him (cf., Jeremiah 33:16). Who else would lead Israel to victory over the hostile world, than God the mighty? The Messiah is the corporeal presence of this mighty God; for He is with Him, He is in Him, and in Him He is with Israel. The expression did not preclude the fact that the Messiah would be God and man in one person; but it did not penetrate to this depth, so far as the Old Testament consciousness was concerned. The fourth name springs out of the third: אבי־עד , eternal Father (not Booty Father, with which Hitzig and Knobel content themselves); for what is divine must be eternal. The title Eternal Father designates Him, however, not only as the possessor of eternity (Hengstenberg), but as the tender, faithful, and wise trainer, guardian, and provider for His people even in eternity (Isaiah 22:21). He is eternal Father, as the eternal, loving King, according to the description in Ps 72. Now, if He is mighty God, and uses His divine might in eternity for the good of His people, He is also, as the fifth name affirms, sar- shâl , a Prince who removes all peace-disturbing powers, and secures peace among the nations (Zechariah 9:10) - who is, as it were, the embodiment of peace come down into the world of nations (Micah 5:4). To exalt the government of David into an eternal rule of peace, is the end for which He is born; and moreover He proves Himself to be what He is not only called, but actually is.
“To the increase of government and to peace without end, upon the throne of David, and over his Kingdom, to strengthen it, and to support it through judgment and righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The jealousy of Jehovah of hosts will fulfil this.” למרבּה (written with Mêm clausum in the middle of the one word, and, according to Elias Levita, properly to be read רבּה לם , iis magnificando , in accordance with this way of writing the word)
(Note: When Bar-Kappara says (b. Sanhedrin 94 a) that God designed to make Hezekiah the Messiah and Sennacherib Gog and Magog, but that Hezekiah was not found worthy of this, and therefore the Mem of l'marbeh was closed, there is so far some sense in this, that the Messianic hopes really could centre for a certain time in Hezekiah; whereas the assertion of a certain Hillel ( ib. 98 b), that Hezekiah was actually the Messiah of Israel, and no other was to be expected, is nothing but the perverted fancy of an empty brain. For an instance of the opposite, see Nehemiah 2:13, פרוצים הם , on which passage the Midrash observes, “The broken walls of Jerusalem will be closed in the day of salvation, and the government which has been closed up to the time of the King Messiah will be opened then.”))
is not a participle here, but a substantive after the forms מראה , מעשׂה , and that not from הרבּה , but from רבה , an infinitive noun expressing, according to its formation, the practical result of an action, rather than the abstract idea.
(Note: We have already observed at p. 101, that this substantive formation had not a purely abstract meaning even at the first. Fürst has given the correct explanation in his Lehrgebäude der Aram. Idiome, §130.)
Ever extending dominion and endless peace will be brought in by the sublime and lofty King's Son, when He sits upon the throne of David and rules over David's kingdom. He is a semper Augustus , i.e., a perpetual increaser of the kingdom; not by war, however, but with the spiritual weapons of peace. And within He gives to the kingdom “judgment” ( m ishpât ) and “righteousness” ( zedâkâh ), as the foundations and pillars of its durability: m ishpât , judgment or right, which He pronounces and ordains; and righteousness, which He not only exercises Himself, but transfers to the members of His kingdom. This new epoch of Davidic sovereignty was still only a matter of faith and hope. But the zeal of Jehovah was the guarantee of its realization. The accentuation is likely to mislead here, inasmuch as it makes it appear as though the words “from henceforth even for ever” ( m e‛attâh v‛ad ōlâm ) belonged to the closing sentence, whereas the eternal perspective which they open applies directly to the reign of the great Son of David, and only indirectly to the work of the divine jealousy. “ Zeal,” or jealousy, kin'âh , lit., glowing fire, from קנּא , Arab. kanaa , to be deep red (Deuteronomy 4:24), is one of the deepest of the Old Testament ideas, and one of the most fruitful in relation to the work of reconciliation. It is two-sided. The fire of love has for its obverse the fire of wrath. For jealousy contends for the object of its love against everything that touches either the object or the love itself.
(Note: Cf., Weber, On the Wrath of God (p. xxxv ). It is evident that by kin'âh , ζῆλος , we are to understand the energy of love following up its violated claims upon the creature, from the comparison so common in the Scriptures between the love of God to His church and connubial affection. It is the jealousy of absolute love, which seeks to be loved in return, and indeed demands undivided love, and asserts its claim to reciprocity of love wherever this claim is refused. In a word, it is the self-vindication of scornful love. But this idea includes not only jealousy seeking the recovery of what it has lost, but also jealousy that consumes what cannot be saved (Nahum 1:2; Hebrews 10:27); and the Scriptures therefore deduce the wrath, by which the love resisted affirms itself, and the wrath which meets those who have resisted love in the form of absolute hostility-in other words, the jealousy of love as well as the jealousy of hatred-not from love and holiness as two entirely distinct sources, but from the single source of absolute holy love, which, just because it is absolute and holy, repels and excludes whatever will not suffer itself to be embraced (Joshua 24:19).)
Jehovah loves His nation. That He should leave it in the hands of such bad Davidic kings as Ahaz, and give it up to the imperial power of the world, would be altogether irreconcilable with this love, if continued long. But His love flares up, consumes all that is adverse, and gives to His people the true King, in whom that which was only foreshadowed in David and Solomon reaches its highest antitypical fulfilment. With the very same words, “the zeal of Jehovah of hosts,” etc., Isaiah seals the promise in Isaiah 37:32.
The great light would not arise till the darkness had reached its deepest point. The gradual increase of this darkness is predicted in this second section of the esoteric addresses. Many difficult questions suggest themselves in connection with this section. 1. Is it directed against the northern kingdom only, or against all Israel? 2. What was the historical standpoint of the prophet himself? The majority of commentators reply that the prophet is only prophesying against Ephraim here, and that Syria and Ephraim have already been chastised by Tiglath-pileser. The former is incorrect. The prophet does indeed commence with Ephraim, but he does not stop there. The fates of both kingdoms flow into one another here, as well as in Isaiah 8:5., just as they were causally connected in actual fact. And it cannot be maintained, that when the prophet uttered his predictions Ephraim had already felt the scourging of Tiglath-pileser. The prophet takes his stand at a time when judgment after judgment had fallen upon all Israel without improving it. And one of these past judgments was the scourging of Ephraim by Tiglath-pileser. How much or how little of the events which the prophet looks back upon from this ideal standpoint had already taken place, it is impossible to determine; but this is a matter of indifference so far as the prophecy is concerned. The prophet, from his ideal standing-place, had not only this or that behind him, but all that is expressed in this section by perfects and aorists (Ges. §129, 2, b). And we already know from Isaiah 2:9; Isaiah 5:25, that he sued the future conversive as the preterite of the ideal past. We therefore translate the whole in the present tense. In outward arrangement there is no section of Isaiah so symmetrical as this. In chapter 5 we found one partial approach to the strophe in similarity of commencement, and another in chapter 2 in similarity of conclusion. But here Isaiah 5:25 is adapted as the refrain of four symmetrical strophes. We will take each strophe by itself.
Strophe 1. Isaiah 9:8-12 “ The Lord sends out a word against Jacob, and it descends into Israel. And all the people must make atonement, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria, saying in pride and haughtiness of heart, 'Bricks are fallen down, and we build with square stones; sycamores are hewn down, and we put cedars in their place.' Jehovah raises Rezin's oppressors high above him, and pricks up his enemies: Aram from the east, and Philistines from the west; they devour Israel with full mouth. For all this His anger is not turned away, and His hand is stretched out still.” The word ( dâbâr ) is both in nature and history the messenger of the Lord: it runs quickly through the earth (Psalms 147:15, Psalms 147:18), and when sent by the Lord, comes to men to destroy or to heal (Psalms 107:20), and never returns to its sender void (Isaiah 55:10-11). Thus does the Lord now send a word against Jacob ( Jacob, as in Isaiah 2:5); and this heavenly messenger descends into Israel ( nâphal , as in Daniel 4:28, and like the Arabic nazala , which is the word usually employed to denote the communication of divine revelation), taking shelter, as it were, in the soul of the prophet. Its immediate commission is directed against Ephraim, which has been so little humbled by the calamities that have fallen upon it since the time of Jehu, that the people are boasting that they will replace bricks and sycamores (or sycamines, from shikmin ), that wide-spread tree (1 Kings 10:27), with works of art and cedars. “ We put in their place: ” nachaliph is not used here as in Job 14:7, where it signifies to sprout again ( nova germina emittere ), but as in Isaiah 40:31; Isaiah 41:1, where it is construed with כּח (strength), and signifies to renew ( novas vires assumere ). In this instance, when the object is one external to the subject, the meaning is to substitute ( substituere ), like the Arabic achlafa , to restore. The poorest style of building in the land is contrasted with the best; for “the sycamore is a tree which only flourishes in the plain, and there the most wretched houses are still built of bricks dried in the sun, and of knotty beams of sycamore.”
(Note: Rosen, Topographisches aus Jerusalem.)
These might have been destroyed by the war, but more durable and stately buildings would rise up in their place. Ephraim, however, would be made to feel this defiance of the judgments of God (to “know,” as in Hosea 9:7; Ezekiel 25:14). Jehovah would give the adversaries of Rezin authority over Ephraim, and instigate his foes: sicsēc , as in Isaiah 19:2, from sâcac , in its primary sense of “prick,” figere , which has nothing to do with the meanings to plait and cover, but from which we have the words שׂך , סך , a thorn, nail, or plug, and which is probably related to שׂכה , to view, lit., to fix; hence pilpel , to prick up, incite, which is the rendering adopted by the Targum here and in Isaiah 19:2, and by the lxx at Isaiah 19:2. There is no necessity to quote the talmudic sicsēc , to kindle (by friction), which is never met with in the metaphorical sense of exciting. It would be even better to take our sicsēc as an intensive form of sâcac , used in the same sense as the Arabic, viz., to provide one's self with weapons, to arm; but this is probably a denominative from sicca , signifying offensive armour, with the idea of pricking and spearing - a radical notion, from which it would be easy to get at the satisfactory meaning, to spur on or instigate. “The oppressors of Rezin ” tzâr Retzı̄n , a simple play upon the words, like hoi goi in Isaiah 1:4, and many others in Isaiah) are the Assyrians, whose help had been sought by Ahaz against Rezin; though perhaps not these exclusively, but possibly also the Trachonites, for example, against whom the mountain fortress Rezı̄n appears to have been erected, to protect the rich lands of eastern Hauran. In Isaiah 9:12 the range of vision stretches over all Israel. It cannot be otherwise, for the northern kingdom never suffered anything from the Philistines; whereas an invasion of Judah by the Philistines was really one of the judgments belonging to the time of Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:16-19). Consequently by Israel here we are to understand all Israel, the two halves of which would become a rich prize to the enemy. Ephraim would be swallowed up by Aram - namely, by those who had been subjugated by Asshur, and were now tributary to it - and Judah would be swallowed up by the Philistines. But this strait would be very far from being the end of the punishments of God. Because Israel would not turn, the wrath of God would not turn away.
Strophe 2. “But the people turneth not unto Him that smiteth it, and they seek not Jehovah of hosts. Therefore Jehovah rooteth out of Israel head and tail, palm-branch and rush, in one day. Elders and highly distinguished men, this is the head; and prophets, lying teachers, this is the tail. The leaders of this people have become leaders astray, and their followers swallowed up. Therefore the Lord will not rejoice in their young men, and will have no compassion on their orphans and widows: for all together are profligate and evil-doers, and every mouth speaketh blasphemy. With all this His anger is not turned away, and His hand is stretched out still.” As the first stage of the judgments has been followed by no true conversion to Jehovah the almighty judge, there comes a second. עד שׁוּב (to turn unto) denotes a thorough conversion, not stopping half-way. “The smiter of it” ( hammaccēhu ), or “he who smiteth it,” it Jehovah (compare, on the other hand, Isaiah 10:20, where Asshur is intended). The article and suffix are used together, as in Isaiah 24:2; Proverbs 16:4 (vid., Ges. §110, 2; Caspari, Arab. Gram. §472). But there was coming now a great day of punishment (in the view of the prophet, it was already past), such as Israel experienced more than once in the Assyrian oppressions, and Judah in the Chaldean, when head and tail, or, according to another proverbial expression, palm-branch and rush, would be rooted out. We might suppose that the persons referred to were the high and low; but Isaiah 9:15 makes a different application of the first double figure, by giving it a different turn from its popular sense (compare the Arabic er - ru 'ūs w - aledhnâb = lofty and low, in Dietrich, Abhandlung, p. 209). The opinion which has very widely prevailed since the time of Koppe, that this v. is a gloss, is no doubt a very natural one (see Hitzig, Begriff der Kritik; Ewald, Propheten, i. 57). But Isaiah's custom of supplying his own gloss is opposed to such a view; also Isaiah's composition in Isaiah 3:3 and Isaiah 30:20, and the relation in which this v. stands to Isaiah 9:16; and lastly, the singular character of the gloss itself, which is one of the strongest proofs that it contains the prophet's exposition of his own words. The chiefs of the nation were the head of the national body; and behind, like a wagging dog's tail, sat the false prophets with their flatteries of the people, loving, as Persius says, blando caudam jactare popello . The prophet drops the figure of C ippâh , the palm-branch which forms the crown of the palm, and which derives its name from the fact that it resembles the palm of the hand ( instar palmae manus ), and agmōn , the rush which grows in the marsh.
(Note: The noun agam is used in the Old Testament as well as in the Talmud to signify both a marshy place (see Baba mesi'a 36b, and more especially Aboda zara 38 a, where giloi agmah signifies the laying bare of the marshy soil by the burning up of the reeds), and also the marsh grass ( Sabbath 11 a, “if all the agmim were kalams , i.e., writing reeds, or pens;” and Kiddûsin 62b, where agam signifies a talk of marsh-grass or reed, a rush or bulrush, and is explained, with a reference to Isaiah 58:5, as signifying a tender, weak stalk). The noun agmon , on the other hand, signifies only the stalk of the marsh-grass, or the marsh-grass itself; and in this sense it is not found in the Talmud (see Comm on Job, at Isaiah 41:10-13). The verbal meaning upon which these names are founded is evident from the Arabic mâ āgim ( magūm ), “bad water” (see at Isaiah 19:10). There is no connection between this and maugil , literally a depression of the soil, in which water lodges for a long time, and which is only dried up in summer weather.)
The allusion here is to the rulers of the nation and the dregs of the people. The basest extremity were the demagogues in the shape of prophets. For it had come to this, as Isaiah 9:16 affirms, that those who promised to lead by a straight road led astray, and those who suffered themselves to be led by them were as good as already swallowed up by hell (cf., Isaiah 5:14; Isaiah 3:12). Therefore the Sovereign Ruler would not rejoice over the young men of this nation; that is to say, He would suffer them to be smitten by their enemies, without going with them to battle, and would refuse His customary compassion even towards widows and orphans, for they were all thoroughly corrupt on every side. The alienation, obliquity, and dishonesty of their heart, are indicated by the word C hânēph (from C hânaph , which has in itself the indifferent radical idea of inclination; so that in Arabic, Chanı̄f , as a synonym of ‛ âdil ,
(Note: This is the way in which it should be written in Comm on Job, at Isaiah 13:16; ‛adala has also the indifferent meaning of return or decision.)
has the very opposite meaning of decision in favour of what is right); the badness of their actions by מרע (in half pause for מרע
(Note: Nevertheless this reading is also met with, and according to Masora finalis, p. 52, col. 8, this is the correct reading (as in Proverbs 17:4, where it is doubtful whether the meaning is a friend or a malevolent person). The question is not an unimportant one, as we may see from Olshausen, §258, p. 581.)
= מרע , maleficus ); the vicious infatuation of their words by nebâlâh . This they are, and this they continue; and consequently the wrathful hand of God is stretched out over them for the infliction of fresh strokes.
Strophe 3. “For the wickedness burneth up like fire: it devours thorns and thistles, and burns in the thickets of the wood; and they smoke upwards in a lofty volume of smoke. Through the wrath of Jehovah of hosts the land is turned into coal, and the nation has become like the food of fire: not one spares his brother. They hew on the right, and are hungry; and devour on the left, and are not satisfied: they devour the flesh of their own arm: Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh: these together over Judah. With all this His anger is not turned away, and His hand is stretched out still.” The standpoint of the prophet is at the extreme end of the course of judgment, and from that he looks back. Consequently this link of the chain is also past in his view, and hence the future conversives. The curse, which the apostasy of Israel carries within itself, now breaks fully out. Wickedness, i.e., the constant thirst of evil, is a fire which a man kindles in himself. And when the grace of God, which damps and restrains this fire, is all over, it is sure to burst forth: the wickedness bursts forth like fire (the verb is used here, as in Isaiah 30:27, with reference to the wrath of God). And this is the case with the wickedness of Israel, which now consumes first of all thorns and thistles, i.e., individual sinners who are the most ripe for judgment, upon whom the judgment commences, and then the thicket of the wood ( sib - che ,
(Note: The metheg ( gaya) in סבכי (to be pronounced sib - che ) has simply the caphonic effect of securing a distinct enunciation to the sibilant letter (in other instances to the guttural, vid., ‛arboth , Numbers 31:12), in cases where the second syllable of the word commences with a guttural or labial letter, or with an aspirate.)
as in Isaiah 10:34, from sebac , Genesis 22:13 = sobec ), that is to say, the great mass of the people, which is woven together by bands of iniquity ( vattizzath is not a reflective niphal, as in 2 Kings 22:13, but kal, to kindle into anything, i.e., to set it on fire). The contrast intended in the two figures is consequently not the high and low (Ewald), nor the useless and useful (Drechsler), but individuals and the whole (Vitringa). The fire, into which the wickedness bursts out, seizes individuals first of all; and then, like a forest fire, it seizes upon the nation at large in all its ranks and members, who “ whirl up (roll up) ascending of smoke,” i.e., who roll up in the form of ascending smoke ( hith'abbek , a synonym of hithhappēk , Judges 7:13, to curl or roll). This fire of wickedness was no other than the wrath ( ebrâh ) of God: it is God's own wrath, for all sin carries this within itself as its own self-punishment. By this fire of wrath the soil of the land is gradually but thoroughly burnt out, and the people of the land utterly consumed: עתם ἁπ λεγ to be red-hot (lxx συγκέκαυται , also the Targum), and to be dark or black (Arabic ‛atame , late at night), for what is burnt out becomes black. Fire and darkness are therefore correlative terms throughout the whole of the Scriptures. So far do the figures extend, in which the prophet presents the inmost essence of this stage of judgment. In its historical manifestation it consisted in the most inhuman self-destruction during an anarchical civil war. Destitute of any tender emotions, they devoured one another without being satisfied: gâzar , to cut, to hew (hence the Arabic for a butcher): zero'o , his arm, according to Jeremiah 19:9, equivalent to the member of his own family and tribe, who was figuratively called his arm (Arabic ‛adud : see Ges. Thes. p. 433), as being the natural protector and support. This interminable self-immolation, and the regicide associated with the jealousy of the different tribes, shook the northern kingdom again and again to its utter destruction. And the readiness with which the unbrotherly feelings of the northern tribes towards one another could turn into combined hostility towards Judah, was evident enough from the Syro-Ephraimitish war, the consequences of which had not passed away at the time when these prophecies were uttered. This hostility on the part of the brother kingdoms would still further increase. And the end of the judgments of wrath had not come yet.