Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 24

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



Judgments on Judah for their defilements and transgressions, Isaiah 24:1-12.

A remnant shall praise God, Isaiah 24:13-15.

God, by his judgments on his people and their enemies, will advance his kingdom, Isaiah 24:16-23.

Verse 1

The earth; or, the land, to wit, of Canaan, or Israel, or Judea. It is usual with all writers, when they write of their own country, to call it the land, by way of eminency. There are many things in this prophecy which manifestly concern this land and people; and nothing, at least before Isaiah 24:21, which may be taken as a new and additional prophecy, which is necessary to be understood of other nations. But this I speak with submission, and due respect to those learned and judicious interpreters who take this to be a prophecy against Judea, and all the neighbouring nations.

Maketh it waste; he will shortly make it waste, first by the Assyrians, and then by the Chaldeans. Turneth it upside down; bringeth it into great disorder and confusion.

Verse 2

It shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; the approaching calamity shall be universal, without any respect or distinction of persons or ranks of men; the priests themselves, having been partakers of the people’s sins, shall also partake with them in their plagues.

As with the buyer, so with the seller; the purchaser of lands shall have no more left than he that hath sold all his patrimony; and all persons shall be made equal in beggary and slavery.

Verse 4

The world: from this word some infer that this prophecy concerns not only the land of Judea, but also the neighbouring countries. But if the proper signification of that word be urged, this prophecy must be extended to all the parts of the world, which these learned men will not allow. And the world, both in Scripture and other authors, is often used synecdochically for that which in truth is but a small part of it, at least in comparison with the whole; as it is not only of the Roman empire, as Luke 2:1; Acts 11:28, but also of Babylon, Isaiah 13:11, and, which cometh nearer to the point, of this very land of Judea, as John 12:19; John 18:20, and elsewhere. And therefore it may well be so understood here, especially when this word world is explained by those other words the earth and the land, which the very next verse showeth to be meant of Israel or Judea, as we shall there discover.

The haughty people; not only common people, who use to be of low spirits; but the high and lofty ones, who use to be stout in their words and carriages towards me, and to deride my threatenings.

Verse 5

The earth also, Heb. And the land; or, this land; for here is an emphatical article in the Hebrew text.

Is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; by the wickedness of its people; of which see Leviticus 18:25,Leviticus 18:27; Numbers 35:33, &c. The laws; the laws of God revealed to them, and pressed upon them in a singular manner, called simply the laws, as the word of God is ofttimes called the word, by way of eminency.

The ordinance; God’s ordinances concerning his worship and service; the singular being put collectively for the plural.

The everlasting covenant; the covenant made between God and Abraham, and all his posterity, renewed with the Israelites at Sinai, which was everlasting, both on God’s part, who, upon the conditions therein expressed, engaged himself to be a God to them and to their seed for ever; and on Israel’s part, who were obliged thereby to constant and perpetual obedience through all generations. All these clauses clearly prove that the earth or land which this prophecy concerns, is no other than the land of Israel and Judah.

Verse 6

The curse; the curse of God threatened to transgressors, Deuteronomy 28:15; Deuteronomy 29:20, and imprecated by and upon themselves, if they should not persist in their obedience to God, Deuteronomy 27:26, and elsewhere.

Are burned; are consumed by the wrath of God, which is commonly compared to fire.

Verse 7

The new wine mourneth, because there are either none, or none but the enemies of God and Israel, to drink it. Grief is ascribed to senseless creatures by a figure usual in all authors.

The vine languisheth; either because there are no people left to dress it, or gather its grapes; or because it is broken down and spoiled by the enemy.

All the merry-hearted, that made their hearts merry with wine, Psalms 104:15.

Verse 8

Tabrets; which they used in their feasts and revellings.

The noise: the word properly signifies a roaring noise and confused clamour, such as drunken men make, Psalms 78:65; Zechariah 9:15.

Verse 9

Because of the fears and miseries wherewith it is mixed.

Verse 10

The city; Jerusalem, and other cities; for the singular word may be here taken collectively.

Of confusion; or, of vanity, or emptiness, or desolation; for this Hebrew word signifies all these things. And the city may be thus called, either,

1. In regard of the judgments of God coming upon it, as if he had said, a city devoted to desolation or destruction, to be emptied of its goods and people; or,

2. For its sin, a city of confusion or disorder, breaking all the laws and orders which God had established among them; or a city that walketh with or after vanity, as the Scripture speaks, Job 31:5; Jeremiah 2:5, that loveth and speaketh vanity, as they did, Psalms 4:2; Psalms 12:2. And this may seem most convenient, that the sin of the city should be noted in this word, as the punishment is expressed in the next.

Every house is shut up; either for fear of the enemy who have entered the city; or rather, because the inhabitants are either fled, or dead, or gone into captivity, and so there are none to go into it, or come out of it.

Verse 11

There is a crying for wine; for the want or loss of their wine, and spoil of their vines, whereby they were deprived of the means both of their delight and profit; whereby he intimates their gross sensuality and sottishhess, that instead of crying for their sins, and humbling themselves under God’s judgments, did only howl for their corn, and wine, and oil, as they did, Hosea 7:14.

Verse 12

The gates of the city are totally ruined, that the enemy may enter when and where they please.

Verse 13

When thus it shall be, when this judgment shall be executed,

in the midst of the land; in the land. But withal this phrase may intimate that the judgment should not be slight and superficial, and in the skirts of the land; but that it should reach their very heart, their most inward and best defended parts.

There shall be as the shaking of an olive tree, & c.; there shall be left a remnant, and that but a very small remnant; as there are some few, and but a few, olives or grapes left after the vintage is over; which, by comparing this with the following verse, seems to be added by way of mitigation, to signify that God would in judgment remember mercy.

Verse 14

They; the remnant preserved.

For the majesty of the Lord; for his glorious power and goodness manifested in their deliverance.

They shall cry aloud, in way of exultation and thanksgiving to God.

From the sea; from the isles of the sea, as this is explained in the next verse; from those parts beyond the sea, into which they were carried captive, and in which they were miraculously preserved.

Verse 15

Glorify ye the Lord: these are the words either,

1. Of the remnant, who being themselves delivered, do encourage and exhort their brethren to glorify God with them; or,

2. Of the prophet, directing and exciting God’s people to glorify God in their afflictions, because of that deliverance which he had promised, and would assuredly give to them.

In the fires; when you are in the furnace of affliction; although this word is never used in Scripture in this sense. Others therefore render the word, in the valleys; and others, in the holes, you that are now forced to hide yourselves in holes. Possibly it may be better rendered, for light or illumination; which may be understood either of the light of the truth which God would reveal to them, or for the comfort and felicity which God would confer upon them; light being frequently taken both ways in Scripture. For this Hebrew word, in all other places of Scripture where it is found, signifies that Urim which was in the high priest’s breastplate, and which properly signifies illumination, as both Jews and Christians render it, whereof that was both a sign and instrument; of which See Poole "Exodus 28:30". Add to this, that this part of the prophecy seems to concern the days of the gospel, and that light which the Jews should then receive by the Messias, of whom the high priest with his ephod and Urim was a type. And so this is an exhortation to the converted Jews to bless God for the true Urim, even for Christ and the gospel. And some of the ancient translators had this signification of the word in their eye, as the vulgar Latin, who render it, in doctrines; and the Chaldee, who translate it, when light shall come to the just. But this I propose with submission.

In the isles of the sea; in remote countries beyond the sea, which in Scripture are commonly called isles, as hath been formerly and oft observed; whereby he seems to imply that he here speaks not so much of a temporal felicity which the Jews should receive and enjoy in their own country, as of a spiritual advantage which they should have by the Messias in the places where they were dispersed.

Verse 16

From the uttermost part of the earth, from all the parts of the earth or land in which the Jews are or shall be,

have we heard songs, songs of joy and praise.

Even glory to the righteous; or, glory be

to the righteous; which may seem to be the matter of the song. By the righteous may be understood either,

1. The generation of righteous and holy men, who formerly were despised, but now upon this eminent deliverance shall be highly honoured; or,

2. The Lord, whom they were exhorted to glorify in the foregoing verse, and who may well be called the righteous one, as he is frequently styled the Holy One, as Hosea 11:9; Habakkuk 3:3, &c.; or,

3. The Messiah, to whom this title of just or righteous is frequently given, as Isaiah 53:11; Jeremiah 23:5; Zechariah 9:9, &c. And the believing Jews call him righteous emphatically, partly to intimate that he is the author and procurer of all true righteousness, and partly in opposition to their unbelieving brethren, who rejected and condemned him as a malefactor; all which the prophet foresaw by the Spirit of prophecy. But I said; but in the midst of these joyful tidings I discern something which interrupts my joys, and gives me cause of bitter complaint and lamentation. My leanness, my leanness; I faint and pine away for grief, for the following reason. The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; the Jews, who have been frequently guilty of great perfidiousness towards God, are now acting the same part; which he speaks either,

1. Of those who lived in his time; or rather,

2. Of those who should live when the Messias was upon earth, of whom he foresaw by the Spirit that they would forsake God, and reject their Messiah, and thereby bring utter destruction upon themselves. For even the Hebrew doctors expound this place of the perfidiousness of some Jews in the times of the Messiah. And it is not strange that so sad a sight made the prophet cry out, My leanness, &c. The treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously; he repeats it to show the horridness of the crime, and how deeply he was affected with it.

Verse 17

Great and various judgments, some actually inflicted, and others expected and justly feared, as the punishment of their last-mentioned treachery.

Verse 18

He who fleeth from the noise of the fear; upon the report of some terrible evil coming towards him; the act, fear, being here put for the object, or the thing feared, as it is in many places. And thus this very phrase is taken Job 15:21.

Shall fall into the pit; when he designs to avoid one danger, by so doing he shall plunge himself into another and a greater mischief.

The windows from on high are opened, and the foundations of the earth do shake; both heaven and earth conspire against him. He alludes to the deluge of waters which God poured down from heaven, and to the earthquakes which he ofttimes causeth below.

Verse 19

This is repeated again, partly to show the dreadfulness and certainty of these judgments, and partly to awaken and affect the stupid Israelites, who greatly needed it.

Verse 20

The earth; the people of the earth.

Shall reel to and fro like a drunkard; shall be sorely perplexed and distressed, not knowing whither to go, nor what to do. Like a cottage; or like a lodge in a garden, of which this word is used, Isaiah 1:8, which is soon taken down, and set up ill another place, as occasion requires. Or, as others render it, like a tent, which is easily and commonly carried from place to place.

The transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; those sins which they formerly esteemed light and pleasant shall now be most burdensome and grievous to them, because of the dreadful punishments which shall follow them.

Verse 21

In that day; either when God shall punish the apostatical Jews, or about or after that time, or in a time known to God; for this phrase is oft used indefinitely, and without any respect to the time designed in the foregoing passages.

The high ones that are on high; the proud and potent enemies of God, and of his people, who possess the high places of the earth.

The kings of the earth; either,

1. The great monarchs of the world, who now scorn and trample upon God’s people; or,

2. The princes and rulers of Israel or Judah; for the name of king is frequently given in Scripture unto mean and inferior rulers, as Judges 1:7; 1 Kings 20:1,1 Kings 20:12; Psalms 119:46, and elsewhere.

Verse 22

They shall be gathered together, by God’s special providence, in order to their punishment, as the following words show. And thus the unbelieving Jews were generally gathered together at Jerusalem, to their solemn feast, when Titus came and besieged, and after some time took and destroyed them; which was a very remarkable hand of God, as Josephus and other historians observed. And I know nothing to the contrary but this very thing may be meant in this place, it being confessed that divers passages of this chapter concern the times of the Messiah.

Shall be shut up in the prison; as malefactors, which are taken in several places, are usually brought to one common prison, where they are reserved in order to their trial and punishment.

Shall they be visited; either,

1. In judgment, as visiting is oft used. So the sense is, After they have been punished with long imprisonment, and tormented with expectation and fear, they shall be brought forth to receive condign punishment. Or rather,

2. In mercy. And so the sense may be either,

1. After the Jews shall have suffered many and grievous things from the Assyrians, Chaldeans, Persians, and others, at last their Messiah and Deliverer shall come into the world, he. Or,

2. After the unbelieving and apostate Jews shall have been shut up in unbelief and in great tribulations for many ages together, they shall be convinced of their sin in crucifying their Messiah, and brought home to God and Christ by true repentance.

Verse 23

The moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed. The sun and moon are here considered either,

1. As they were abused to idolatry; for these two were most eminent idols, and most generally worshipped, especially in those Eastern countries, Deuteronomy 4:19; Deuteronomy 17:3; Job 31:26, &c., and so may be put for all idols, which were confounded by Christ at his coming, as was foretold in Scripture, and verified by the testimony of ancient, yea, even of heathen historians. Or,

2. As they were the most eminent and glorious lights of the world, and were oft used, both in Scripture and other authors, to signify the great kings, and potentates, and glories of the world, as hath been formerly noted, and we shall have further occasion to remember. So the sense is, that all earthly powers and glories should be obscured with the far greater splendour of Christ, the King of kings, at whose feet even the kings of the earth shall fall down and worship, as we shall see in other parts of this prophecy. The Lord of hosts; the Messiah, who, though man, yet is also God, and the Lord of hosts, and is so called, Zechariah 2:8,Zechariah 2:11.

Shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem; shall come in the flesh, and set up his kingdom, first in Jerusalem, and afterward in all other nations.

Before his ancients; before his ministers, who are in some sort the courtiers of this King of glory, as being continually attending upon him, and enjoying his presence, and executing the powers and offices of his kingdom; and especially before his apostles, who were the witnesses of his Divine words and works, and particularly of his resurrection and ascension, by which he entered upon his kingdom; and of this exercise of his royal power, in subduing both Jews and Gentiles to himself. The word ancient or elder is not a name of age, but of office, as it is in very many texts of Scripture. And the ancients are here put synecdochically for the whole church, in whose name and for whose service they act.

Gloriously, Heb. in glory, for that preposition is very frequently understood.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Isaiah 24". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.