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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 34

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-4

Judgments upon Idumea.

Isaiah is rightly called the evangelist of the Old Testament. Throughout his book of prophecies he refers to conditions as they would obtain in the time of the Messiah. In chapters 34 and 35 also, which form the conclusion of the first half of his book, he makes use of New Testament ideas and pictures. For this reason these ers, at the same time, strike the introductory chords to the great Book of Consolations, 40-66.

Introductory Proclamation

v. 1. Come near, ye nations, to hear, and hearken, ye people! the prophet's proclamation being so great and momentous that he summons all nations to give attention. Let the earth hear and all that is therein, all creatures being concerned in this weighty announcement; the world, the entire circle of time inhabited globe, and all things that come forth of it. The invitation is like Ezekiel 6:3; Deuteronomy 32:1; Psalms 50:4; Micah 6:1-2.

v. 2. For the indignation of the Lord is upon all nations, His is a great wrath, which will result in punishment upon all His enemies, and His fury upon all their armies, upon which they, in the excess of their insolence, rely; He hath utterly destroyed them, doomed them, by a solemn curse, to destruction, He hath delivered them to the slaughter, appointed them to be slain.

v. 3. Their slain also shall be cast out, left to lie unburied, and their stink, the odor of decay, shall come up out of their carcasses, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood, washed away as by a mighty torrent. Cf Matthew 24:29; 2 Peter 3:7-10; Revelation 6:13-14.

v. 4. And all the host of heaven, all the stars and heavenly bodies, shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll, in the manner in which parchment-rolls were formerly rolled together; and all their host shall fall down, as the firmament of the heavens passes away, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, upon its fading in the autumn, and as a falling fig from the fig-tree, immature and useless. The prophet clearly has in mind the final dissolution of the universe, the end of the present dispensation, for which reason Peter makes use of the same picture in describing the end of the world, 2 Peter 3:10-12.

Verses 5-17

Idumea as a Type of Hostility Against God

v. 5. For My sword shall be bathed in heaven, intoxicated, as it were, as it prepares to execute His punishment; behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, as in a drunken frenzy, and upon the people of My curse, those doomed to experience His condemnation, to judgment. The Lord has an unparalleled slaughter and sacrifice in mind, to be carried out upon Edom, the apostate brother nation of Israel, and upon all those who followed Edom in his enmity against the chosen of the Lord.

v. 6. The sword of the Lord is filled with blood, glutted with heavy slaughter; it is made fat with fatness, as it engages in bringing sacrifice, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams, those parts being named which were especially devoted to God in the sacrifices, 2 Samuel 1:22; for the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, the capital of Auranitis, east of Jordan, for thus far Edom had extended its dominion at that time, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea, whose territory extended from the southern end of the Dead Sea to the Elanitic Gulf.

v. 7. And the unicorns, the Asiatic buffaloes, shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls, representing the sacrificial animals of the herds, the powerful men in Edom to be slain with the ordinary people; and their land shall be soaked with blood and their dust made fat with fatness, the entire country, as it were, glutted, drunken with the great amount of blood and fat of the slain.

v. 8. For it is the day of the Lord's vengeance and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion, the time when Jehovah will retaliate on those who have contended with Zion, in order to give justice to Zion, the people of His choice. Isaiah 43:4; Deuteronomy 32:35-41.

v. 9. And the streams thereof, of Idumea, shall be turned into pitch, in agreement with the volcanic and sulphurous character of the country near the Dead Sea, and the dust thereof into brimstone, which is still found in large quantities in that neighborhood, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch, a place where a fearful fire would rage.

v. 10. It shall not be quenched night nor day, the smoke thereof shall go up forever; from generation to generation it shall lie waste, as the result of the terrible volcanic upheavals by which its fertility was destroyed; none shall pass through it forever and ever. The first act of the final destruction is shown in the fact that to this day one may travel for days through former Idumea without finding one inhabited city, and the final act will come with the fire of eternity. Cf Revelation 14:11; Revelation 18:18; Revelation 19:3.

v. 11. But the cormorant, the pelican, and the bittern, the porcupine, shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it, the description of the desolation wrought agreeing with that in other parts of the prophets, Isaiah 13:20-22; Isaiah 14:23; Zephaniah 2:14; and He, Jehovah, shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, His measuring-line being used with deliberate' intent in working ruin, and the stones, the weights at the end of the plumb-lines, of emptiness, resulting in utter destruction. With the same rigorous exactness which marks the carpenter's construction the Lord carries out His program of destruction, thus reducing Edom to a state of desolation.

v. 12. They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, literally, "As to her nobles, there are none there that call out a monarchy," that is, none are left to elect a new king or to succeed to the throne, and all her princes shall be nothing, none being there, none could be elected by the nobility to assume the power of a reigning monarch.

v. 13. And thorns shall come up in her palaces, growing up in the midst of their ruins, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof, where formerly magnificent castles stood; and it shall be an habitation of dragons, wild cats or dogs, and a court for owls, a place where ostriches will find their food.

v. 14. The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, the marten rivaling the jackal in his attempts to find food, and the satyr, spirit of the desert, shall cry to his fellow; the screech-owl, a night-specter believed to be dwelling in the wilderness, also shall rest there and find for herself a place of rest, for this evil spirit felt at home in the midst of desolation.

v. 15. There shall the great owl, rather, the arrow-snake, make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow, cherishing her young in the shadow of the ruins; there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate. In short, all the animal dwellers of the wilderness, whose shaggy appearance by day and whose melancholy cries by night made them objects inspiring fear and superstition, would be found in the desolate wastes of the former rich Idumean cities. Moreover, the people who would then compare prophecy and fulfillment would find that they agree most exactly.

v. 10. Seek ye out of the Book of the Lord, the prophecies as preserved by the command of Jehovah, who inspired them, and read, such searching being commanded to this day; no one of these shall fail, every point brought out in the prophecy would find its fulfillment, none shall want her mate, the corresponding prediction; for My mouth, it hath commanded, and His spirit, His breath, as God inspired his servants to write, it hath gathered them, so that the prophecy came to pass literally.

v. 17. And He, Jehovah, hath cast the lot for them, for all the wild beasts of the desert, and His hand hath divided it unto them by line, distributed it to them, given it to them for a possession; they shall possess it forever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein, these doleful creatures occupying the. land which had been the pride of Edom. Thus Jehovah ever is the Protector of His children over against all enemies.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Isaiah 34". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/isaiah-34.html. 1921-23.
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